Friday Links: Zombie Prime Minister

Happy Friday!

We’re going into a Bank Holiday weekend here, which is good because my brain is mush! Links below…

To Fix the Catholic Church, Laypeople Need to Show Up. That’s a Church I could go back to…

Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light announced for 2020. I was beginning to think it would never happen. Very excited about this one but feeling that it might just break my heart a tiny bit. (Yes, I know the actual Thomas Cromwell wasn’t at all the same as the book one but I love Mantel’s Cromwell, and she’s done this to me before. I thoroughly recommend ‘A Place of Greater Safety’ if you want a book to send you on a reading binge about the French Revolution!)

Judith Kerr, beloved author of The Tiger Who Came to Tea, dies aged 95. The Tiger Who Came to Tea is one of the first books I bought for Oli. He and Joe loved it, Ben did once remark that he was really tired of both tea and tiger! But it’s just a lovely cozy book.

Cadent handed record £44m penalty after customers left without gas. Given my recent experience with them, I can’t say I’m surprised!

UN report compares Tory welfare policies to creation of workhouses

Pennies from heaven: what’s it like to suddenly become rich? What’s interesting is all of these are under a million pounds. We’re not talking Russian billionaire amounts and it’s interesting that everyone thinks about buying a house!

Should you ban your wedding guests from watching the Champions League final? No you should not. You shouldn’t get married in the football season either or during the World Cup or Euros either! But if you do and then your local team is in the finals, suck it up and don’t be whiny or precious about it.

Why is everyone suddenly using the C-word? I’d agree, my use of it has risen, often when I’m talking about politicians and especially Yaxley-Lennon and Farage

London is still the UK’s golden goose – and that needs to change. London is full of people who aren’t from London and to some extent that’s how cities work but as demonstrated by the gulf between rich and poor in the city and the city and the rest of the country, it’s not sustainable. We need a vision for regeneration before it’s too late and we could start by moving Parliament out of the city while they sort out the state of the building. Or they could properly federalise the UK and have an English Parliament in Birmingham or somewhere not London. You could properly subsidise business to set up in the Northern and Midland cities. You could properly regulate and subsidise the bus system and put some money into trains that start and go to places other than London. There is a host of things that could be done, if only our politicians had the imagination and will to do them.

The Tories have forgotten their pro-EU voters. And they’ll pay for it

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Today are the elections for the EU Parliament and so it’s time for another post on why voting matters and why you should do it and more importantly (this is my blog after all!) why I’m going to vote even though politically, I haven’t felt this despairing since 1992….

Everyone who knows me, knows that I vote, I vote in every election I’ve been asked to vote in. Actually, I’ve only missed one since 1991 (when I turned 18) and that was a referendum on whether London should have a mayor and I’m still ashamed of missing that one. My family are working class, and until 1918 working class men get a vote and it wasn’t until 1928 for women. So basically, only three generations of my family have had an automatic right to vote from the age of 21 (and my generation is the only one that got to do it from the age of 18!).

If you’re born in the UK, you don’t have to take a pledge or oath of allegiance before they give you a passport but if you weren’t, you do. This is the pledge:

“I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen.”

One of my mother’s mantras when I was a kid was that ‘rights come with responsibilities’ usually deployed when I didn’t want to be responsible but also wanted to be able to do what the hell I wanted. Right now I’m sick and tired of politics, these elections are probably the last time I get to vote in EU elections and a huge part of me wonders what the hell the point is. I’m tired of people like Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Stephen Yaxley-Lennon aka Tommy Robinson, pontificating about the ‘will of the people and democracy’ without actually understanding what that means. I’m fed up of the people who vote for them and believe their nonsense. I’m beginning to think that you should have to pass a test (that I get to set) before people are allowed to vote. I’m ashamed and worried about what is happening to my country and to the people that are letting it happen.

That’s the test, it’s my right AND my duty to vote. So that’s what I’ll do…

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Allotment Adventures: Seedlings

We’re at the point in the allotment year, when I’m either worrying about seedlings, either they’re leggy and indoors or maybe dying and outside. Either way I always feel that I’ve got it wrong and it always works out. I’m told that means I should just stop worrying and get on with it but that is never going to happen, I’m not wired that way!

We have lots of tomatoes and squash and cucumbers, and they are all labelled so I know which type they are! Which is a first!

So the actual plot, is pretty much as it was last week. The foxes have dug into the beetroot bed, and the pigeons are already attacking the peas, the blueberries leaves have brown spots on them and the kale seedlings died but other than that everything is fine.

We have raspberries already on the autumn raspberries (nope, I have no idea either!) and the poppies are floweringWe had a first pick of broad beans this week too!So that’s where it is. I’m probably worrying about nothing and it’ll all be fine but here is a short list of what needs to get done next weekend, it’s a good thing it’s a bank holiday!

  • fill new beds with compost
  • earth up potatoes
  • plant out courgettes, summer squash and some winter squash
  • sow french beans
  • sow sweetcorn
  • sort out some pea protection
  • trim grass paths
  • paint shed
  • sort out old compost bin
  • weed (the raspberries are appearing everywhere they shouldn’t!)
  • sow dill and coriander
  • sow marigolds and calendula
  • repot the small lavender

And I want to sit down and enjoy the space, preferably with a glass of cold white wine!

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Monday Miscellany: Not cooking with gas

Happy Monday!

Today I am working from home because on Friday, Cadent who are currently replacing the gas mains, cut off my gas supply and didn’t get around to replacing the main, or connecting my house to the main. They did re-site my meter but I’m not giving any point for trying! It’s one thing not to have a hob on which to cook, it’s another altogether not to have hot water or heating.I know it’s a first world problem, and I still have a roof over my head and running water and friends who let me shower at their house (and fed me!) and that it’s May and therefore I wouldn’t have the heating on anyway, however it’s the completely rubbish project management and although I knew they were doing the works, they didn’t tell me when they would be doing the works and it was sheer co-incidence that I was working from home on Friday! I’m beginning to understand why the work planned for November 2018 is just being done in May 2019!

Other than my brief sojourn in the 1950’s (seriously, I’ve boiled the kettle 5 times already this morning, to wash, to do the washing up, to have coffee and so on!), last week was relatively uneventful. We babysat at the weekend, both nephews were lovely, one of them is getting lippy and the other wants to be referred to only as Batman (I’ll leave you to guess which was which!), on Sunday we planted up an enormous amount of tomato seedlings, there are more to do but I ran out of pots, the living room is not a great greenhouse but it’s what I’ve got!

Plans for this week are work, pot up the rest of the seedlings, clean my house and make sure that I’m organised for work and everything else, vote, buy more compost for the allotment, and then prep myself for a bank holiday, which will mostly consist of planting things out and tidying the allotment, there’s a lot to do!

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Friday Links: May ends in June

Happy Friday!

Well May is going to stop being the Prime Minister in June and Boris Johnson has announced that he’s going to run for the leadership of the Tory Party. Folks, you know your country is completely fucked when Boris Johnson stands a chance of running the country. For the last three years, I’ve been embarrassed and that’s about to get worse….

Here are this week’s links

Grand Parc, Bordeaux review – a rush of light, air and views When you look at the photos, you wonder what the point is, but when you watch the video, you realise what a transformation increasing the living area of a flat by 3.8 meters and adding light and outdoor space makes to how you live in a flat. I’m so impressed…

The polls are clear – Labour’s Brexit tactics are failing spectacularly. Fish or cut bait, Corbyn needs to accept a policy he doesn’t personally support because his party does or he needs to resign. Anything else just leaves this Tory mess in place.

Richer Sounds founder hands over control of hi-fi and TV firm to staff. Actually doing what you said you were going to do, well done!

We froze the salaries of 20 executives – and it improved the lives of 500 employees.

Don’t talk about ‘food poverty’ – it’s just poverty

The GOP Has Its Final Anti-Abortion Victory in Sight. It’s the blatant subversion of the ideals they claim America is founded on that I can’t quite get my head around….

Coming soon: the great universal credit deception

Russia Has Americans’ Weaknesses All Figured Out

How Istanbul’s mayoral elections are shaping the future of Erdoğan’s Turkey

James Brokenshire can talk his ovens down all he likes, but there will still be four of them, not two

A vegetarian has a beef with Tesco’s labelling. This is hilarious. Complains that he has been eating a beef product for a couple of months, finds out that it’s been years because he didn’t realise that collegen is derived from animals…..

The Supreme Court’s Worst Decision of My Tenure. One of the things that fascinates me about humans, is how we can take the same text and interpret it in vastly different ways. I happen to believe that a plain text reading of the 2nd Amendment, would support the ownership of firearms only if the owners were part of a militia but that is my interpretation.

Farage calls for private health firms to ‘relieve burden on NHS’. I’m just going to say it again, Farage is an untrustworthy liar, he’s not in it for principle, he’s in it to try and get richer. He’ll do that by making life miserable for the working class he claims to speak for. He’s never been on your side and it’s always someone else’s fault. He’s lazy, work-shy (go and have a look at his attendance at the EU Parliament) and only interested in his own consequence. Don’t fall for this nonsense.

Sexual abuse charities need money – but not from Tommy Robinson

North-east England is not ablaze with Brexit – it’s just a symbol

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Allotment Adventures: Pests

This week in allotment adventures the broad beans have blackfly. I can cope with having to cover all the beds because otherwise the foxes dig them up, I can more or less handle the foxes trying to treat my raised beds as toilets and the birds trying to use my chard, kale and soft fruit as an all you can eat salad and desert bar but aphids do nothing and the ants that farm the buggers really get on my wick, the little bitey buggers. Actually that’s not fair, the red ants are bitey and the black ants are the aphid farmers.

Anyway, the broad beans have aphids. We cut off the tops of the plants, we squished all the blackfly we could find and I sprayed them with a peppermint tea and fairy liquid. I’ve read that cinnamon deters ants so I’m going to try that but we’ll be squishing and spraying them every time we are on the plot for the next month or so.In other news, we topped up some of the potato bags (the sharpes express are really living up to their names!) all in we used 99 litres of compost and we have more topping up to do. Ma weeded because the weeds offend her. We had tea. I took up some of the chard. We were going to sow the french beans in that bed when the chard was done but given that it’s right next door to the broad beans, we aren’t going to do that now. We’ll sow them in another bed and put something else there.

The beetroot, peas, carrots and spring onions, peas and salad all seems to be doing well all of it under netting, and we put net over the gooseberries because Ma is very worried about her gooseberries and really doesn’t want to share with the birds (actually I’m not sure she’s going to share with me!)

Then is started raining so we went home! Although we did work hard, the list I made last week, looks untouched. I think most of this is going to get done over the Bank Holiday.

  • Fill the three new beds with compost
  • Pot on seedlings (kale, basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, cuacamelons, summer and winter squash) – I’m doing some every evening so should be done with this by the weekend
  • Start to harden off seedlings (aka leave in the cloche!)
  • Pot on the lavender
  • Sow dill, coriander, marigold and calendula
  • More weeding and raspberry destroying
  • Empty wooden compost bin, see if there is actual compost worth using.
  • Clear chard bed
  • Sow french beans
  • Sow sweetcorn
  • plant out all courgettes, crookneck squash, tomatoes and some basil
  • Paint the shed
  • If there is any, woodchip the top of the plot

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Friday Links: English Football

Happy Friday! So the big news of the week is that both the European trophy finals will be all English. The Champions League Final is Liverpool vs. Tottenham (Ma had such high hopes of Ajax) and the Europa final is my beloved Chelsea vs. Arsenal.

This week there was a debate about the order of the English kings, so I had to play this to prove my point!

Here is are this weeks links

The rebel priest: ‘Gay people in the church are not going to go away’

More light, more sun: May brings gardeners the promise of an endless summer. May starts well and then ends up with me panic planting all the things….

‘Ireland is changing’: booze-free bar opens in Dublin

Sustainable tourism: why the Faroe Islands closed for maintenance

Male Loneliness Starts in Boyhood.

Table for one: how eating alone is radically changing our diets

Relegation blues: how a football team’s fortunes can affect a whole city. I guess this has never been a thing I’ve thought about. I grew up in the middle of Fulham (relegated from the Premier League this season), QPR (not relegated from the Championship but it was close, they finished 19 of 24 teams) and Chelsea (not relegated currently third but it’s not been pretty!) and it never occurred to me that it would really hurt the economy of where I was from. Although a friend did describe the Weatherspoons in Shepherds Bush (where QPR are from) as the ‘wild west’ and she wasn’t wrong!

Britain’s equivalent to Tutankhamun found in Southend-on-Sea

Oh, No, Not Knotweed!

Are these the worst supermarket substitutions ever? I’ve never ordered a supermarket shop online, so this has never been a problem for me but some of these are fab (instead of a number 5 candle, she got two 2’s and a 1…)

Tech Is No Match for Human Grossness

Rachel Held Evans, Hero to Christian Misfits

“Death is a thing empires worry about, not a thing resurrection people worry about,” she told me in 2015. “As long as there’s somebody baptizing sinners, breaking the bread, drinking the wine; as long as there’s people confessing their sins, healing, walking with one another through suffering, then the Church is alive, and it’s well.”

Britain needs to recognise Palestine as an independent state

ANC corruption is a major cause of South Africa’s failure – and the polls will show it. I remember watching the first election, people queuing for hours so they could vote. To see that of 36.5 million people eligible only 27.7 million have registered to vote, that’s tragic.

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