A sad day for British politics, a sad day for Britain

Walk to Westminster

I’m not really a politics person, but I do believe in the right of every individual to vote in a free and democratic society.  However, I feel that political right was wasted last week.

On Thursday 22 May 2014, British people went to the polls, many to vote for their local Councillors but also a chance to vote for Members of the European Parliament, MEPs.  Traditionally, mid government polls see a shift in votes to the party in opposition, however, this poll was a bit different.  With the Conservative party and the Liberal Democrats currently ‘enjoying’ a coalition government, the natural opposition are the Labour party.  Or are they?

Over the last few days we have seen what can only be described as a meteoric rise of a fourth player in the political arena, the UK Independence Party, UKIP, led by the ‘charismatic’ Nigel Farage.  I’ve not been following the debates closely, and I expect I’m no different to a lot of people in the country, but you can’t help but notice the rise in the attention that Mr Farage and his followers have received.  He is charismatic, in that he seems to attract a lot of attention, but what does concern me is that the sensationalist views he holds and the way he espouses his views, has attracted an imbalance in coverage from the media.  And in what is supposed to be a balanced political debate that is questionable, and the accusation that UKIP have benefited from an unfair advantage have some merit.  It’s not just an imbalance of an alternative and benign political view, it represents a big shift to the political right and all that comes with it.  It’s the politics of fear of the unknown rather than the politics of hope for the future.

I don’t wish the give the UKIP any more coverage than they are already getting, they surely don’t need it.  But it has to be said that as an electorate, we must shoulder a lot of the blame.  As is often the case, the turnout for the local and European elections was pretty low, between 30% and 40%.  So what happened to the majority of the electorate?  Laziness?  Apathy?  I don’t know, as a country we seem to take our right to vote very much for granted.  But I hope those people who didn’t vote, for whatever reason, don’t ever think they have the right to complain about the outcome and whatever happens as a consequence.

But there is hope for sanity to be restored.  London, with its multicultural diversity, rejected the UKIP rhetoric and bucked the trend, gaining just one European seat.  As ex (yes, she lost her Merton council seat) Councillor Suzanne Evans agreed, the ‘cultural, educated and young’ people of London turned their back on UKIP.  Add middle-aged, intelligent and fair-minded to that as well. (That’s me in case you’re wondering!)

Looking at Westminster

However, there is a wider question to address.  Why did so many people feel the need to vote UKIP in the first place?  Well clearly I don’t know the answer to that, I live in London!  But the other parties surely have to look at themselves here.  Perhaps it’s time for them to start listening to the people of this country, stand up for what they believe in and give the country a clear and positive choice.

They have a year to the next General Election to sort it out, stop the politics of blame and negativity, and look at the future positively.  Use this UKIP wake up call to address the fears that Mr Farage has created and show up this protest vote for what it is.

One year –  let’s get this great country of ours back on track.

 

 

 

Arts One Rocks

Arts One Rocks make the Sgt Pepper album cover

My daughter made me special proud this weekend – she rocks!

Lizzie is part of a group of young musicians called Arts One Rocks.  They meet on Saturdays, to learn and rehearse rocks songs as part of different band formations.  The students range in age from 13 to 18, and they learn a range of instruments as well as vocals. Lizzie plays guitar, and is very good at it, in my humble opinion!

Last September the group embarked on an ambitious project to learn and perform all the tracks from the iconic Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, culminating in an incredible performance the following March.  And seven months of dedication and effort reaped their rewards.

Some of the extended Coady Clan came along to support Lizzie and her friends, 15 of us in all.  The show was an amazingly high standard, preceded by a short documentary film of the Fab Four themselves talking about the concept of the album followed by the student’s thoughts on the project.  From start to finish the quality and emotion of each song shone through.  The whole group were relaxed and looked as if they really enjoyed being centre stage.  Having followed Lizzie’s and the group’s progress through the various levels I can safely say this was by far the most accomplished performance to date. Hard work certainly did pay off, in no small part down to the teaching staff who have coached the young musicians over the past years.  Mr Ingham and Co, take a bow!

I took some photos, below, and other half took phone video of the two songs Lizzie performed on.

Good Morning Good Morning

Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Gallery:

Mixed emotions of a Chelsea football fan

View from Chelsea away end at Man City Etihad stadium

A recent trip to see my beloved Chelsea play Manchester City in the FA Cup 5th round had me questioning whether I would ever wish to take an away trip again.

Not because we lost 2-0.  We just didn’t play well enough, no shots on target, we didn’t deserve it.  A bad day at the office, it happens, we move on.  I can live with that.

I don’t go to many away games, time and money usually dictates.  I decided to go to this one because the tickets were reasonably priced, reduced from the usual Premier League prices, I’d never been to the Etihad stadium before, and Chelsea laid on subsidised club travel, coaches and a train, I opted for the latter, my total cost coming to £35.  The train itself was fabulous, a Virgin train with plug sockets and wifi – perfect!

Before we boarded the train we were bag and body searched, not having been on a away day train before, I took this as being normal.  The journey was comfortable and uneventful, the fans pretty upbeat and I enjoyed listening to some young lads and their dads recalling their previous away trips, over land and sea!

We arrived in good time at Manchester Piccadilly station, time enough for a a drink and a bite to eat, but as I was on my own and still pretty full from my double English breakfast earlier in the day, I decided instead to take a slow walk to the stadium, following the suggested walking route.  An interesting landscape, and surprisingly devoid of people.

Walking route through Manchester to the Etihad stadium

Walking to the Etihad, in the distance

I arrived, and there were plenty of people milling around the perimeter of the ground, I received a text from a friend to say her club coach had just arrived, which were all parked up just opposite the away fans entrance to the ground.  Once inside we shared a drink and enjoyed a great atmosphere of singing as only away trips can, although it does sadden me to hear the anti-everybody songs still persist, and the very reason why my Irish husband prefers not to go to away games with me.  That, and being an AFC Wimbledon fan first and foremost!

Approaching the Etihad stadium Manchester

Etihad ahead

 

 

But before any of us were allowed into the ground, we were bag and body searched again.  This time more thoroughly.  I’m questioning whether this is normal practice?  And yet we submit to this willingly!

Time to take our places for the game, my seat in the lower stand.  But as with most travelling fans, very little sitting going on, you get used to that.  The first thing to note was a rather large net stretching across the width of the penalty box behind the goal.  I first thought this might have been put up for pre-match shooting practice, to be taken down just before the kick off, I have seen this before.  But it wasn’t.  It stayed there the whole game and, frankly, spoiled my view.  Is this what I should expect if I pay a reduced ticket price?

View from Chelsea away end at Man City Etihad stadium

Over land and sea, Chelsea away end

But what followed soon after is what turned out to be the most contentious part of the day.  The minutes silence for Preston and England player Tom Finney, who had sadly passed away days earlier aged 91.

From where I was in the middle of the lower stand it was very noisy, non stop chanting.  I didn’t hear an announcement about a minute’s silence taking place, and I certainly didn’t hear a whistle as it started, which is customary with these things.  I looked up and saw the players around the centre circle and only then did I realise that a minutes silence had started.  I had no prior knowledge that one would take place. If that was my experience then it’s quite plausible to have been the experience of others around me, but I can only speak for myself.  All I heard during the silence were fans around me telling others to shut up.  A very confused moment, which did eventually fall silent and end with a fitting round of applause.  I don ‘t believe that any chanting heard at the Man City game was a deliberate attempt to disrespect this footballing legend.

The problem is that our reputation precedes us, when at the FA Cup semi final in 2012 a minority of Chelsea fans chanted during the minute’s silence on the 23rd anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.  I was standing quite close to them at the time and I heard it, and I was frankly ashamed and appalled.

Towards the end of the game and after the final whistle there seemed to be altercations below me, probably the usual name calling across the divide, all pretty juvenile stuff, I couldn’t tell and I wasn’t in the least bit interested. Why do so many supporters direct their disappoint in their team’s performance to opposing fans?  I see so many paying more attention to them rather than the game itself.  I was lucky enough to see the Milan derby at the San Siro many years ago, and there was no hint of opposing fan trouble there, but they had plenty to say to their players! (Inter lost 3-1!)

Outside the ground there was a lot of niggling, a lot of name calling, fans being indiscriminately pushed around by police horses.  Nothing major, just minimal crowd control.  Grown men who can’t be gracious in defeat and humble in victory.  Name calling and abuse, nothing more than that, it happens when people are fuelled by alcohol and in the apparent safety of their numbers.

There were even rumours on Twitter of brick throwing and a home fan stabbed, but I never saw or heard of this, and there was no commotion, police activity or sirens to suggest anything that serious had occurred.  I suspect it was deliberate misinformation designed to stir things up.

Now the day after, and my tiredness has largely disappeared, I am left wondering about the day’s events, feeling a bit sad about it all, although by and large I enjoyed my day out.  As a (trying to deny it) middle aged and (hopefully) respectable woman, whether this is the sort of activity I should be engaging in.

I have supported Chelsea since I was around 7 years old when my dad first took me to a game, sitting on one of the benches in the old West Stand.  I first went to see them on my own at Stamford Bridge when I was 13, and was a member for many years before becoming a season ticket holder in the West Lower a few years ago.

I would like to support my team as much as I can, I can’t (and don’t want to) change the team I follow, real football fans will know you don’t do that, but do I have to accept being treated like cattle when I go to an away game?  Am I having to suffer the indignity because of a minority of idiots who may or may not be out to cause trouble?  Why can’t I go to a game, enjoy a decent view from the comfort of my seat, I pay my money as much as the next person?  Was this game different because of the large allocation of 6,000 plus?  I’ve been to a handful of other away games this season, including Arsenal in the Capital One cup, and none of those had the bad atmosphere of this one.  Unlike the others though, is it purely because we lost this one, we’re not used to it and some can’t handle it?

Maybe away games are just not for me anymore, but for the time being I’ve already bought my ticket for the next one at Fulham! There’s no hope…..

#ktbffh

 

Projecteo – size doesn’t matter!

Projecteo
Projecteo Instagram projector

Small yet perfectly formed!

 

 

As an avid Instagram user, I was recently offered a Projecteo to try out.  For those who haven’t come across this unique little product before, Projecteo is a tiny replica of one of those old fashioned slide projectors, where you can display your Instagram images via a slide wheel that slots into the top of the gadget.

The ordering process is very simple and straight forward, linking directly to my Instagram feed via their API (application program interface) as many of these Instagram related product sites do. The graphics on the Projecteo site are slick, you can select, deselect and swap images around with ease.  I would have liked to have been able to choose from more than my last 120 posted images, but that aside, I selected my nine images easily enough and sent the order on its way.

Priced at $34.98 (£21.25 at current exchange rate) for the projector and one wheel of 9 images, the price includes postage and packing from the US.   Individual and additional wheels are priced at $8.99 (£5.46), and if ordered separately are also free shipping.  I was a bit concerned at the warning about possible charges, should my package be unlucky enough to be stopped at UK customs, but mine slipped through unnoticed. (Not always the case I hasten to add, I was stung for around £24 once for an item costing less that £70!)

I have to confess that I lost track of how long the package took to arrive but arrive it did, pretty quickly and all in one piece.  First impressions?  It’s rather sweet and dinky, and seems well made enough.  Very easy to use, just slot in the provided battery pack underneath, slot in the wheel at the top, press the red button and Hey Presto!  There’s no bells and whistles, it just works.  It’s pretty sturdy for something so small and while I didn’t put it’s robustness to the test by throwing it against a wall or suchlike, I did (deliberately) drop it on the floor a few times and it’s still in one piece!

Projecteo with simple instructions

Simples!

The images can be viewed from a range of distances, roughly from 12 inches to 3 feet, obviously the closer to the viewing surface the smaller the image.  Clearly, this isn’t a precision piece of equipment, and the image is a bit rough round the edges but perfectly acceptable as a novelty – let’s not pretend it’s anything else!  It has a focusing barrel on the front of the Projecteo and I was pretty happy with the image at around 12 inches in size projected from about 3 feet away as well as projecting an image from floor to ceiling!

Projecteo display

Picture show

If I did have a criticism, like the Projecteo itself, its a small one.  I would like to have seen it provided with some sort of case, a simple drawstring pouch would be fine, just to keep the dust and dirt out when carrying it around.  Or maybe that’s just me!

All in all though, a nifty little fun novelty gadget that can be customised with my own work is always going to be a hit with me.

Projecteo - size doesn't matter

Projecteo – size doesn’t matter

 

One Projecteo with one 9 image wheel was provided free of charge for the purposes of this review.  It can be ordered here.