A 30 second video which sums up why Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States of America

Embed from Getty Images
This post carries the normal proviso that I don’t know what the heck I’m talking about so anything I predict is likely to be pure nonsense.

I’ve just done something which I very occasionally do. I last did it in February 2007. I put a modest little wager on who will be the next President of the USA. I put money on Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton. Continue reading

Dorothy Thornhill wows Newbury and West Berkshire Lib Dems

Dorothy Thornhill at Bournemouth
What a real breath of fresh air to have Dorothy Thornhill, Mayor of Watford and a newly created Baroness, as our guest speaker at Newbury and West Berkshire Lib Dems’ annual dinner tonight!

With over 20 years experience as a councillor and 14 years in office as the elected mayor of Watford, Dorothy speaks from real grass roots experience about a raft of subjects, but yet does so with down-to-earth ease. Her real skill and passion particularly showed when she answered questions about housing.

Thank you Dorothy for coming down to Newbury on a blustery and drizzly Friday night – you were a superb speaker and gave us all a real morale boost to get out there and get stuff done in the #libdemfightback!

This week's guilty secret – Gladys Knight and the Pips

I’ve been listening to this one a lot this week. The orchestration on this recording is particularly powerful – the drums, the horns and the strings are very effective. And, of course, there is the fantastic voice of Ms Knight. It sold over a million copies. The lyrics by Jim Weatherly (who also wrote that other Gladys Knight and the Pips classic, “Midnight train to Georgia”) are wonderful because, I suspect, most people have someone special they can dedicate this to and mean every word.

She won’t read this, so I won’t embarrass her, but I mean every word of this song about my darling lady wife, Janet.

Does a perceived distrust of politicians justify redistributing an image meme that was discredited 14 months ago?

Meme debatesThe image meme above went the rounds of social media in November 2014. It was roundly and conclusively fisked by Isabel Hardman on the Spectator Coffee House blog. I noticed that the meme was getting re-distributed a week ago. I pointed out to the people sharing this meme that it had been thoroughly discredited well over a year ago. Interestingly, several replied saying that “most people” think that’s how parliament behaves so it’s not a problem distributing it.

My indignation hit about twelve on the Richter scale. Continue reading

Book review: 'This Boy' by Alan Johnson

this boyWhile this is a very late review, hopefully it will persuade anyone left in the political community, who has not read Alan Johnson’s “This Boy”, to read it.

I tend to read at a snail’s pace and also have a habit of (accidentally) reading volumes of memoirs back to front chronologically. I read both Alan Clark’s and Chris Mullin’s volumes backwards. I read and reviewed Alan Johnson’s later work “Please Mister Postman” last summer. Just before Christmas I was kindly loaned “This Boy”.

The book is a remarkably detailed, harrowing account of a one-parent (and then no-parent) family living in 1950s/60s London in grinding, distressing poverty as the parent suffers increasingly failing health. Abandoned by her husband, Johnson’s mother, Lily, works all the hours God sends, and struggles bravely to bring up her children, Linda and Alan. Living in appalling slum conditions, they manage to survive through various trials and hardships. Linda emerges as a great confidante of her mother and a strong pseudo-parent for Alan as she grows into a young adult. Continue reading

Book review – Jeremy Paxman: A Life in Questions

Embed from Getty Images

Santa kindly got me this book. I have just finished it – which for me counts as “speed reading”. (I once spent an entire year reading “To kill a mocking bird“).

Jeremy Paxman’s memoirs, “A Life in Questions” is an excellent read – it presents a journalist of great integrity, an interesting life story which is, in turns, fascinating, gripping and, sometimes, hilarious. Continue reading

David Bowie – some memories

Embed from Getty ImagesIt’s a god-awful small affair
To the girl with the mousy hair
So the beginning words of “Life on Mars” emerged from a slightly tinny, small record player in the fourth form common room of my school. A classmate from Plymouth had bought the single. It was about the only record we had between us. We played it almost continuously. We always left it on for the studio phone ringing and the bit of chat at the end. Continue reading

Newbury by-pass – memories 20 years on

In January 1996, protestors took to trees and tunnels just outside my home town of Newbury, trying to stop the building of the by-pass.

It was a bit of surprise to be at the centre of such national furore over our by-pass. Continue reading

Is David Cameron mixing up cause and effect?

David CameronParents should take lessons in how to control children – PM” – runs the main headline in the Observer this morning.

Expansion of parenting classes is certainly something to be welcomed. When I was first a parent, I thought it was very strange that parents were offered classes on breathing techniques during pregnancy and pelvic floor exercises, plus inspection of changing areas and bottle procedures after birth, but not a word of guidance after that, until primary school “parent/school agreements”. Continue reading

Ed Stewart's last Junior Choice from just a fortnight ago

Ed Stewart
I was saddened by the news of the death of Ed Stewart and express my sympathy and sincere thoughts to his family and friends upon their loss.

“Stewpot” cheered up many a weekend morning as I was growing up. His cheery, cheeky bonhomie and his wonderful old favourite records were a very regular backdrop to our lives.

Please do listen to his last “Junior Choice“, broadcast just a fortnight ago on Christmas Day. It has all the usual banter and records, including the marvellous “Sparky’s magic piano”.

A great broadcaster. The world will be a little poorer without “Stewpot”.