Thursday, December 25, 2008

Santa Claus is Coming to Town ...

Jonathan over at Liberal England has already wished us a merry christmas with one of my favourite christmas songs - Solstice Bells by Jethro Tull - whose folksy sound is somehow appropriate at this time of year.

For anyone else still up waiting for children to settle down so that they can perform their Santa duties, here's another of my favourites:

Christmas Eve at the Fawcetts'

This was what happened when the sherry drinking got out of hand ...


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Will the real David Cameron please step forward

'Dave' seems a might confused.

Writing in The Daily Mail on December 8th he said:

"Work gives life shape. It gives people esteem and responsibility. It powers our economy. So we’re going to end the something-for-nothing culture. If you don’t take a reasonable offer of a job, you will lose benefits. No ifs, no buts."

But speaking earlier he said that it was 'not right' for the government to expect the mothers of pre-school children to be forced into work.

That sounds like quite a big 'but' to me.

Of course the more important point is that forcing single mothers of pre-school or primary school aged children into work by threatening to take their benefits away will do little to 'heal our broken society'.

Treating people with a bit of dignity might be a good start though.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Neil Trafford's Memorial Service

A series of videos of the Memorial Service which was held in Manchester on Friday is now up on You Tube here.

It is very moving and a wonderful tribute to Neil.

And these people think they can run the country?

For most of the 20 years I've been involved in politics I have never been able to work out how the party that has generally been the worse at managing its own budget seemed to believe itself best able to manage the economy.

Now it seems that despite having been doing better in the polls for many years, they have still managed to make a balls up of their own finances.

Conservative Home has the full story.

I particularly enjoyed this comment:

"The Board of the Conservative Party needs to start acting like a Board, not like (as former Australian Labor leader Mark Latham once said) a conga line of suckholes."

Hat tip: Lib Dem Voice

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sod politics, here' some rock n roll ...

The last fortnight for me has been dominated by the sad loss of a friend and colleague.

Politics by doom and gloom of various kinds.

But I spent Friday wondering if I was in the mood to go and see The Wildhearts who were playing at the Oxford Academy (or The Zodiac, as I like to think of it).

Well I did go, anf boy I'm glad I did.

The reformed A, with new addition John Mitchell on bass, were as superb as ever.

And the mighty Wildhearts were sensational.

They played a set chock full of their best live songs from across their career, starting with the more recent hit Vanilla Radio and ending with their classic mid nineties chart botherer, I Wanna Go Where The People Go.

The place was a sweatbox by the end of the gig and I felt a heck of a lot better for the experience.

If you like lively, loud rock you will love the Wildhearts.

There's still time to catch them at Wolverhampton tomorrow and in London on Wednesday.

In the meatime, here's one to liven up your Sunday evening:

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Saying Good-bye to Neil Trafford

It is now eight days since I was told that Neil Trafford had died, and to be honest, I'm still struggling with the news.

I have made a few comments in other places but have found it quite difficult to write a full post.

I think I first met Neil in about 1994 when he was getting involved in the Lib Dem Youth & Students, who I then worked for. I have known him ever since as he worked in his various roles in the party and particularly these last few years as he worked as North West Campaigns Officer.

I can't really add much to what has already been said about Neil except to add my name to the long list of people who are proud to have counted him as a friend.

Neil's funeral was held yesterday in Swindon at Swindon Evangelical Church where Neil was and his family are members.

It was a bright sunny afternoon, just as it should be for Neil, and the Church was full.

Neil's parents, Mark and Lynne, spoke very movingly about Neil. They clearly loved him very much and were very proud of him. His father said that they had received many letters and phone calls and had seen the various comments posted about Neil online.

They spoke with great dignity, courage and compassion.

Hannah Trafford read from John 14.

Neil's close friend Emily also spoke about Neil, what a great friend he was, how much fun he was and how much he cared for everyone.

Neil's Pastor, Paul Williams, spoke about Neil and his memories of Neil's lobbying for a more democratic and inclusive church!

The hymns were some of Neil's favourites, Lord Be my Vision, My Jesus My Saviour, Great is the Lord and The Lords My Shepherd.

The service finished with a recording of 'Run' sung by Hannah Trafford, which beautifully sung and very moving.

The service was followed by a reception at a local hotel.

A lot of Neil's family and friends were there, along with many of us from the party. Several of the party's MPs were present, along with party staff, local members from the Swindon area and lots from Manchester.

I never find funerals easy, but it was good to see so many people that Neil had touched during his far too short but incredibly positive life.

If anyone would like to make a donation in Neil's memory please do so to the TEAR Fund - - a charity that Neil supported himself.

Good-bye Neil, and thanks for being you.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Doctor Who 45th Anniversary – Why Was 1977 Brilliant?

Alex - hope it's not too serious and you get well soon.

I was looking forward to your take on 1977 so I hope you don't mind if I put my two-penneth in;-)

1977 was a simply fantastic year of Who.

To this then eight/nine year old boy it was compulsive viewing and much playground talk each week would be about the previous Saturday's episode and the one coming up.

Having said goodbye to Sarah Jane Smith at the end of 1976 and seen off the Master, January 1977 saw the arrival of the lovely Leela. This scantily clad 'savage' was something of a contrast with previous well turned out companions but made for a great double-act with Tom Baker's Doctor.

The show was in good hands with Producer Philip Hinchcliffe and Script Editor Robert Holmes taking the series in a more gothic direction. Storylines and scripts were strong - it doesn't get much better than Robots of Death, Talons of Weng Chiang and Horror of Fang Rock one after the other. I can still remember the drama of every one of these stories. It was during this period that Mary Whitehouse's criticism of the show was at its most strident - clear evidence that the show was doing well!

The scripts did not lose their humour, however, and Leela, in particular, had some great one liners.

My favourite, in The Face of Evil (I think):

The Doctor : "Would you like a Jelly Baby?"
Leela : "It's true then. They say the Evil One eats babies."

What to watch:

I'd recommend getting the DVD of The Talons of Weng Chiang. A strong story and script, and if, like me, you've got kids who love the new series, they'll love this one too. (And it's cheap on Amazon at the moment too).