Saturday, 27 November 2010

ANOTHER NEW JOB CLUB FOR NORTH DORSET



It was a great privilege to attend the launch of our newest North Dorset Job Club yesterday.

These community projects epitomise the ethos of Big Society - targeting practical help where it's needed. We wish them great success as they work to help local jobseekers to gain employment.





Monday, 25 October 2010

BIG SOCIETY AND JOB CLUBS

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2010/10/syed-kamall-mep-big-society-rediscovering-mises-and-social-cooperation.html


Really delighted to see this mention of Chris Neal and GB Job Clubs on Con Home Platform today.


I am obviously pleased that Chris and GBJC are achieving this well-deservedrecognition, because this will directly benefit Job Club Leaders and Jobseekers across the country.



By focussing on the individual, not the outcome, our volunteers help Job Club members to find their way on the path to employment, week in, week out, in Job Clubs across the country.

Chatting over coffee - listening - helping with CVs - sharing their own experience -encouraging interaction and self-help, understanding disappointments and celebrating success.


If the mention in Syed Kamall's article has an effect, I hope that many, many more people will be inspired to start Job Clubs or become Jobseeker Buddies.

Visit http://www.gbjobclubs.org/ comment on this blog or contact me direct janegould77@hotmail.com 07966 544492

Jane Gould

Development Director GB Job Clubs

BRIGHT & FROSTY

The best Shaftesbury morning. Clear and cold. The best, that is, If you're in a cosy house like i am and not sleeping rough...


-- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

BUS IS BUST

Bus broken down in cloud of noxious black smoke. But it's OK. the tour guide is talking interminably about black sand and the different types of grass... And we now know that Icelandic winters are COLD!!! I really didn't need to know quite so much about Arctic weather systems... Another bus is coming. Good because otherwise this lot would be worrying about missing their lunch - which - lest we forget, THEY HAVE PAID FOR!!


-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Alesund

Energising modern art collection in the alesund Kube gallery here. Loving it. Totally alone. Me and the art on a soggy Sunday in Norway. Delirious on the iPod. Respite at last.



-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, 31 July 2010

These continual barked instructions... Like holidaying at St Pancras. Train journey to Flam this afternoon. Husband under strange impression that I would eat lunch at 11.30am.... Most odd. Of course, heaven forbid he might allow any spontaneity or uncertainty


creep into this week of regimented mediocrity.


-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Funny how spellcheck wants to write "hate" for Gatwick...
Refusing to sit on stuffy bus till the engine actually starts. Taken herbal travel pills & joy of joys Rescue Remedy chewing gum. Rescue Remedy got me through four years of Pony Club oneupmanship. Ideal for a cruise I would think! Husband stoically on coach as that's what the rules say... Gonna do a lot of this. They have lost some passengers which is why we are waiting. The other coach has gone so we will miss the sailing if this one waits much longer. And then I could go home????!!!! Coach virtually empty so can be as comfortable as possible. According to the rep, who can't imagine why anyone with a pulse would go on a cruise, everyone on the other coach was already moaning. Just the sort of holiday I love!!!! I will find the gym asap and stay there. TBC...



-- Post From My iPhone

Location:Gatwick...

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

SOLUTIONS TO WORKLESSNESS

recommend Chris Neal's article on the Cobden Centre website today.
www.cobdencentre.org
and yes - as GB Job Clubs Development Director, I will declare an interest!
Our experience with the Job Club network shows that the most effective way of helping people get back into the workplace is the model that has been proven time and again by Oxted, Towcester, Banbury, Thames Valley Springboard Job Clubs (& Shaftesbury of course) and many, many others in our GB Job Clubs network.
Where the ethos of self-help and encouragement replaces the outcome-led culture of many re-employment providers.
As George Athorn, leader of Newbury Job Club says "We don't beat our members up - they get enough of that every day".
Read Chris's article ; it's intelligent common sense.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

LIME MERINGUE ROULADE BY REQUEST

For anyone who wanted the ridiculously easy recipe for Lime Meringue roulade, here it is...
really should have taken a photo before it was demolished to the last crumb at the Dreaded Conservative Curry Lunch.
I think it serves 8 - 10 ; but depends whether you're serving another pudding and how greedy - sorry - hungry your guests are.
It's Mary Berry's recipe from her second Aga book, so there's probably a link somewhere.
you'll need...

meringue
5 large egg whites
10oz sugar

filling
300ml double cream
zest and juice of 1 lime
2 generous tablespoons good lemon or lime curd.
(ginger would be nice too...)
50 g flaked almonds

swiss roll tin. 13 x 9"
lined with baking parchment or silicon liner
if you don't have an aga - preheat oven to - um - about 180??

if you have a Kitchenaid or similar stick the egg whites in the bowl and whip on high speed till stiff.
then add sugar spoon by spoon till mixture is very, very stiff and glossy.

tip into the swiss roll tin and gently spread.
sprinkle with flaked almonds and then...

aga - place on shelf on floor of top oven, cool sheet on second set of runners.
cook for 8 minutes till golden .
put (hot) cool sheet carefully on floor of simmering oven
put the roulade on the sheet.
give it about another 15 minutes.
remove and cool for about 10 minutes.

normal oven - cook in centre of oven for about 20 - 25 minutes.
remove and cool for about 10 minutes.

whip cream to nice soft floppy consistency.
fold in lime zest, lime juice and lemon curd.

place sheet of baking parchment over the roulade and with one swift, deft,elegant movement, turn the roulade out of the tin onto the sheet of baking parchment.

peel off baking parchment or silicone.

gently spread roulade with cream mixture - not right to the edges, or will be v messy to rollup.

with a knife, score a line along the long side of the roulade, and confidently roll up from the long end, using the baking parchment to help you.

slide onto a serving platter and wait smugly for a lot of compliments.

then make some lemon or lime curd with the 5 egg yolks.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

PLANNING MEETING - NOT

WHAT FOLLOWS IS A STRICTLY PERSONAL OPINION.
IT DOES NOT REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF SHAFTESBURY TOWN COUNCIL NOR OF ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL SERVING ON THAT CIVIC BODY.

Well, so much for our 9am planning meeting on Abbey Walk to discuss urgent parking proposals with a North Dorset District Council official this morning.
We - that is five (unpaid) Town Councillors - plus Shaftesbury Town Clerk taking precious time out from her in-tray - all duly assembled as arranged on Abbey Walk at 8.55 for a 9.00 prompt start.
After 20 minutes of kicking our increasingly frozen heels due to the continued non-appearanceof the officer from North Dorset District Council, we retreated to my house, handily also on Abbey Walk, to have a cup of coffee and get warm again.
The Town Clerk rang NDDC (again).
The officer said she had been too busy to attend.
Totally high-handed and disdainful treatment of our Town Councillors, including the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, all of whom had taken time out from their businesses and jobs to attend this meeting.
But financial imperative is not something that a local government employee seems required to understand.
Money is just something that appears magically as a "stream".
Much time is spent on self-justification to maintain this "stream".
The concept of earning it becomes ever more distant to this class of what the French call "fonctionnaires". (possibly "non-fonctionnaires" in our case).
When did it become acceptable to not show up for a meeting because you're a bit busy??
Meanwhile, the parking question remains in abeyance.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

STARVE YOUNG JOBLESS?

Did anyone else go cold on seeing the Sunday Times Page 7 headline? Lord Digby Jones alleged remark / suggestion that our young jobless people should be "...starved into work."
The same paper carried a story last week about 600 British Gas apprentice vacancies, for which there were 65,000 applications. (yes, that was the right figure, 65,000).
So, let's add malnutrition, isolation and shame to loss of confidence and feeling worthless, and you really WILL lose another generation to the sub-culture of dependancy.
Job Clubs encourage hope and self-help through shared experience - we know how incredibly difficult it is to keep on picking yourself up from rejection after rejection and carry on the struggle.
And when one of our members finds a job, which happened this week, we all celebrate.
So here's a challenge to Lord Digby Jones.
Visit a Job Club sometime and see for yourself whether jobless people - of whatever age - really need the additional spur (or even suggestion) of starvation to assist their job-seeking efforts. I guarantee that you'll learn something - we do, every week.

http://www.shaftesburyjobclub.co.uk/
07966 544492

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Thoughts on Big Society

This week, we've visited some inspiring community projects and specialist centres.
Mostly run with great energy and passion on shoestring budgets by volunteers. Delivering real benefit
In the locality.
This is what Big Society is all about.
Seeing a need and taking responsibility for doing something about it.
And here in North Dorset we're way ahead of the game.
Our Community Partnerships recently won a national award as am example of excellence, and after seeing some of these projects at work this week, I'm not surprised!
So, a great week of solid visiting, hustings, meetings, leafletting, paper cuts and canvassing.
Plus usual Town Council committees.
Hugely enthused by the day with Caroline Spelman. Really set the tone for the rest of this campaign for me.
Low point, the association office saluting me... Looking forward to removing the stripes on 7th May.
High point - another Job Club member finding work after a successful interview last week. Such an example and encouragement to all of us.
Bit tired tonight.
Stood in the kitchen looking blankly at a butternut squash this evening for a good couple of minutes before remembering what I was meant to do with it!
Looking forward to Church and a catch-up day tomorrow.
Then into the fray once more on Monday.


-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, 16 April 2010

Technology Test

Without sounding totally starstruck and failing miserably, I am so glad that I ignored Harriet's shameless bullying, followed my instincts and chose the amazing I-phone over the BlackBerry.

This is my first attempt at an iphone blog entry, and it's incredibly intuitive.
Just added Nigella Quick app. OK - I own all her books ( looking forward to Kitchen. Sounds very cosy - very Nigella! ) & have most of these recipes on my bookshelf But a great shopping reminder and quick inspiration in extremis. Which I often am...
The pedometer app (free) should undo any calorific damage.
And the facebook app - now I have my head around it - is sleeker than the PC based model.
The chat function initially mystifying; but twigged eventually and accidentally.
One gripe. Predictive is rubbish on apostrophes. Incapable of printing its without having to correct the apostrophe "s" manually. Insists on it's as its default.
Esoteric, no doubt in this day and age...


-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, 5 April 2010

IT WAS A HAPPY EASTER...








sunrise on Park Walk - with real sun - the freedom of celebration - the Church filled with exquisite flowers - great music - real joy.
relaxed family lunch - obviously not my family!!
Aren't those meringues SO pretty? Too pretty to eat? Sadly not... Corinne's decorative grace notes are always inspired. Eat your heart out Cath Kidston!
Isabella and I dusted off our flutes for a post-prandial jam. Archie the cat - though he's not really a cat - actually a prince in cat form - presided over his willing slaves - see Camilla above.

And I even had a small piece of chocolate...
Lambs on hills as drove back along Devon/Dorset coast. I quite like the South West sometimes...
Brilliant deal on new computer today - thanks to internet capability of the Me-Phone and the Dell website. All set up and working nicely; without help from any of my tame geeks.
Touch screen single unit desktop PC.
Wildly impressed so far... cute post-it note software - you write with your finger or type as you want to.
Tempted by the Macs - till looked at the price... maybe when I have a job again!
And now, into a week of tying up loose ends, getting the second round of leaflets delivered, helping with the new Sturminster Newton Job Club, finalising the April diary and generally battening down hatches as the real storm breaks next Monday, when these ramblings will,I fear, take a more political turn.



















Monday, 29 March 2010

PREPARING FOR PESACH IN HOLY WEEK....

As the only Jew in the Village - or in St Peter's Church anyway - I've just been making Charoseth (apple, walnut, cinammon,wine and honey paste, representing mortar) and Cinammon Balls - no religious significance; just traditional at Passover.
They're apparently needed as edible visual aids for our church dramatisation of Pesach preparations during the real Holy Week... lots of talk of Rabbi Yeshua and his radical statements... "blessed are the poor, indeed! everyone knows that the poor were feckless wasters with only themselves to blame... " plus ca change...
Mixed metaphors and messages too no doubt; but it's evoked strong childhood memories of mixing and chopping with my Grandma.
When I was about eight years old, I used to call at her house on the way home from school. I suppose that she'd have to be CRB checked today...
Ususally, the house was an oasis of calm, and Grandma gave me milk and biscuits while she told me long stories about the war. Stories which I could still repeat verbatim. Everyone talked incessantly about the war during my childhood.
But the week before Passover was a different story.
It was purest pandemonium; the house crammed full of aunts and cousins, chopping, stirring, simmering, gossiping and debating (others might call it shouting at each other) with Grandma regally directing the whole chaotic proceedings. The decibel level was awesome.
My annual job was putting green and red glace cherries on top of the Passover cookies, ready to be baked, cooked and stored in huge jars.
I longed to be older like my cousins, and allowed to do some actual cooking.
Several jars of cookies and cinammon balls would be taken to the Jewish Home for the Blind, round the corner.
It was a great family time that sent a tingle of excitement down your spine as the Festival of Freedom came round each year and the whole family came together for the Seder..
So, it was quite sad that I was mixing and chopping on my own today.
Perhaps next year I'll have a Pesach preparation party - or then again - maybe (as Jews all over the world will be saying tomorrow night at their ritual meal) "...next year in Jerusalem..."
can I say, I do hope not!!
Good Yom Tov all!

Monday, 8 March 2010

I DON'T WANT GORDON'S PATRONAGE THANKS

NO! NO! NO!
I do not want the patronage of Gordon nor anyone else to force some hapless employer to give me a job, just because I'm a deserving woman, thank you.
Ther are pools of male and female talent and to discriminate even further against men is just plain wrong.
When I am asked or chosen to do something, I want to accept that honour in full confidence that the organisation thinks that I'm the most suitable and competent person for the job.
Not because it would "look good" to have a woman, and satisfy some statistics-crazed apparatchik in Whitehall.
It is an employer's right to CHOOSE the person he or she wants for a specific position.
And that's about a person fitting into the company and industry culture as much as ability to do the job.
Please - our employers are already bound hand and foot by successive bouts of legislation.
Don't lets load them with yet more burdens.
Most took serious risks to build their businesses - surely they must have some rights?
(And lest we forget - these employers are our most precious economic resource as wealth creators in this country)
No - this is a step tooo far.
Men and women are NOT the same. They are different.
Lets celebrate the difference and allow employers to know what's best for their organisations.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

NORTH DORSET AT SPRING FORUM


Fantastic to see Cllr. Nick Mason bringing his intelligence and passion to the platform at Conservative Spring Forum yesterday morning.
The first speaker of the day to engage with the audience - and actually make us laugh - Nick's a perfect example of everything that's good in the modern Conservative Party.
Creative and innovative - NDDC neutralised the worst of Central Government's mania for micro management by working with local Community Partnerships.
It wasn't just about money - and it's certainly not about preserving sacred cows in the formaldehyde of endless funding; it's about growing projects from the grass roots and involving "customers" (us) from the outset.
Looking forward to this "hands-off", encouraging attitude to Localism if the Conservatives WIN the General Election.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

RIGHT TO ROAM??

Just found two people wandering around in my garden
Closed gates had not deterred them.
When I very politely asked them whether I could help in any way, the fact that they were from London was all that was offered by way of mitigating reason for being in my garden!!!
Explained that this was private property and not part of the Abbey next door.
No apology - just a bit of a shrug and they wandered off again.
I'm speechless...

Saturday, 13 February 2010

HAPPY VALENTINE CAKES


...one day when nothing but the most blatant cutesiness will do!

Monday, 8 February 2010

ANY QUESTIONS AT GILLINGHAM SCHOOL

Privileged to deputise again for our MP today; but a lot more challenging this time.
Serious political debate.
Standing in for Bob on the panel of election candidates at Gillingham School's version of "Question Time".
(That's Gillingham in Dorset - not the other one)
Facing questions - and probably criticism - from 150 A-level students.
Fully expect to be ripped limb from limb, remembering what an utterly savage & vicious 18yr old I was; eviscerating any politician brave enough to venture into school.
But those formative politicial experiences were so important.
Making me question our world and understand that democracy only works properly when there's broad involvement as well as passion and commitment in our leaders and representatives.
So a bit nervous - but in a good way - and looking forward to a really enjoyable afternoon.
Later on, Jean Thomas interviews the tattered remnants of me for our Church magazine, Key Ring.
She's warned me that, for a finale, I'll have to choose my favourite worship song, chorus or hymn.
So many... current most-hummed is Our God He Reigns (Simon Brading); but The Voice of God (Casting Crowns) is also amazing and We Will Magnify by Phil Lawson Johnston is always going to be up there. And how to choose the absolute fave from all the hymns and choruses of the last two hundred years?
Impossible. Hope I'm allowed two - three - four....

Thursday, 4 February 2010

STARTING YOUNG...

So good to be on my feet again - albeit aided by crutches - and great to visit Shaftesbury School this morning.
I was deputising for MP Bob Walter, who was on a 3 line whip in Westminster.
It was UK Youth Parliament election day, so I was privileged to observe the voting process and meet Eadie - Shaftesbury School's Yr 11 candidate.
Eadie impressed me so much with her reasons for getting into this game.
She's standing for election because she wants to make a positive difference to people's lives - and that's why most of us stick our heads above the parapet.
I hope she succeeds and fully expect to see her going for the green benches in twenty years time.
UKYP gives school students a wonderful opportunity to learn about and debate wider issues in their formative years.
If we can teach them about sex and drugs, we can CERTAINLY expose them to politics - not in a partisan way; but in a way that explains the importance of democracy and responsibility.
During my own school elections I was the 14 yr old Communist Party candidate!
Didn't get many votes, but it marked the beginning of my own internal political debate - which is (and should be) ongoing.
So - good luck Eadie and I'll watch your career with interest.

Monday, 1 February 2010

LUNA ELUDES US ONCE MORE..

Like a bashful lover, Luna slips behind the clouds of uncertainty again.
I know I'm a total space anorak, but I'm so disappointed that President Obama is cancelling Constellation, the Lunar Landing project.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8489097.stm
If we don't go back to the moon, we're never going to know a whole bunch of things, and we'll certainly never develop the technology to send men to Mars in the next 50 years.
Yet more generations will never know the thrill we felt in the 60s and 70s when space "firsts" happened, it seemed, almost weekly.
Ed White's Gemini space walk. Apollo 8 on the Dark Side of the Moon (sprobably why I love Floyd and mistrust REM...) and the first landing itself. Huge childhood memories.
We'll miss the chance to find out conclusively whether we could, for example, "manufacture" water on the lunar surface. Whether Helium 3 Buckyballs just might be a viable way to create an artificial "atmosphere". How far human bodies could adapt to alien atmosphere in the longer-term. What a Big Mac tastes like on the moon.
Most importantly, if noone has the guts to commit to Constellation or a similar manned lunar programme, ALL the astronauts who actually left low-earth orbit, struck out for deep space and stepped onto the surface of the moon will soon have gone.
We will lose the remaining pioneers of that all-too-brief, shining period. Neil Armstrong, Al Bean, John Young, Charlie Duke et al; plus the genius of mission control: teams who masterminded the lunar expeditions micron by micron.
In a short time, the legacy of their first-hand experience will be gone forever.
This too must be factored into any decision about the rights and wrongs of returning to the moon.
I'm glad that the major "space states" will be opposing President Obama's doubtless pragmatic but unimaginative and shortsighted proposal to cut the project.
Let's hope for the sake of our children and grandchildren and the joy of exploration for its own sake that they win through.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

LIFE'S BANANA SKINS...

When I fell - or rather - slid downstairs yesterday morning, I nearly got the break that people keep telling me I need.
luckily, the hospital across the road still has a minor injuries unit, so I staggered in and got x-rayed and examined.
What a great service to have in our town.
Will fight tooth and nail to keep it open.
Cannot believe nothing is broken though.
I can barely move a toe without triggering skewers of pain.
Like some sadistic, spasmodic anatomical pinball machine ricocheting from nerve to stinging nerve.
Only someone else is working the flippers.
basically OUCH...
I will never run downstairs wearing slippery socks ever again.
A healthy body is such a gift.
Being temporarily immobilised is a good lessonl
A timely reminder that while I've been obsessing about eating properly, weight, exercise etc, I've forgotten that rest is actually specified in the Manufacturer's Manual.
Need some stronger painkillers if I'm ever going to sleep again....

Thursday, 21 January 2010

THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE NUMBERS


reading Chris Neal's post on the Blue Blog...


This explains exactly how and why our Get Britain Working Job Clubs touch individual lives.


I've said this before and apologise for repetition, but the reason that GBW Job Clubs work is because they are based on what individual communities actually need.

Moreover, they're run by dedicated individuals who believe in the principle of self-help and encouragement. Not the one-size-fits-all directives & initiatives handed down by Whitehall.


Employment statistics will fluctuate; but Job Clubs will continue to do what is necessary to help jobseekers back into work - quickly.



Monday, 11 January 2010

TO CLEAR OR NOT TO CLEAR...

Clearing show and ice on our pavements - or not - is a hot topic, and rightly so.

Many people have experienced the cold snap in an unpleasantly literal way - Dorchester Hospital has treated 86 broken wrists since the snow began to fall.
Two people stoppped me in the street yesterday to tell me that they had slipped and fallen on Shaftesbury lethally slippery pavements yesterday.
One man fell twice - and there were probably many more incidents through the day.

When it snowed last year, elderly residents in one of our sheltered housing complexes were all but trapped for three days - unable to safely get out of their front door.
As I'm Chairman of the local 50+ group, one of our members decided to ring me for help.
The Warden had been told by the Council & its contracted Housing Association that neither the road nor the path to the main entrance was a "priority".

So I rang the Housing Association at my members' request and had a bit of a skirmish.
The snow was cleared within two hours of the first 'phone call so that residents, their carers and visitors could come and go in safety.
This year, they kept it clear without being asked.

Local government & its contracted satellites have tied themselves into nonsensical knots.
This story shows that we need to persevere as individuals (and Councillors) in these cases and start to rebuild a culture of common sense and practical action.

FAMILY "WARMTH" VERSUS FAMILY WEALTH

This "warmth v wealth..." argument is difficult.
Having dealt last year with a very young couple who felt that buying a Nintendo Wii for their 4 yr old was more important than paying the rent, I understand where Cameron is coming from.
However, I remember when, as a single parent, I was way too preoccupied by financial worries to give my young daughter the loving attention and - yes - probably the warmth that she desperately needed from me. My private worry-capsule was dominated by mortgage interest rates, the cost of heating my house and stretching the budget to go roller-skating.
So of course, I agree that a secure and happy family unit depends on more than material possessions; emotional warmth IS wealth in itself.
But, we must commit firmly to policies which address the social issues that lead to poverty if we are to make a real difference to our country.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

50+ WOMEN CAN BE ATTRACTIVE - OFFICIAL!

The Daily Telegraph prints an article today assuring me that I can still be attractive - despite being over 50.
Well, that's alright then.
Of course, the examples of this phenomenon are all (admittedly absolutely stunning) women who are in the public eye, and in several cases have "help" in keeping their youthful appearance.
And that's just it, isn't it?
This article implies that continued atractiveness depends on continued youth.
I accept that my appearance has changed since I was 35.
Not a question of better or worse - and certainly doesn't mean I have to ditch my jeans and chuck out my makeup. (or my premium range of skincare stuff.)
To me, getting older means having the experience and perspective to continue to fulfil my potential.
Can't find the item online - perhaps I'm too old to work the website.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

GENERAL ELECTION PREDICTIONS FROM IAIN DALE

http://tinyurl.com/y875dx4
this makes very interesting reading.
Bears out what we've said in recent months.
Nothing is certain - it will be close - we have a mountain to climb.
Work, work and more work - we can win this election.

IT'S DECISION TIME

Sorry, my beautiful, purple much-loved LG Viewty. I'm going to have to replace you, as you won't receive or send emails, however much I wrestle with your settings.
Camera excellent, screen wonderful, text clear.
Bluetooth works brilliantly with everything except the Polaroid PoGo Printer. (the only incompatible Bluetooth-enabled mobile! should have read small print)
hotmail via the internet is just too slow and I need the "pushed" email anyway.
However,
I love my touchscreen - the Blackberry Storm seems to have serious problems and the i-Phone and my fingers don't seem to be compatible. It's also a bit big for my hand.
So - it looks like the Curve then...
It's a bit pathetic; but I've always had to enjoy using my mobile or I end up resenting it - and I've really loved this LG Viewty.
It even survived a swim in the kitchen sink!
24hrs in the airing cupboard - no problem.
Maybe I'll have just one more try at making this email function work...

Thursday, 7 January 2010

MINIMUM PRICE FOR ALCOHOL WON'T WORK

as a convinced free marketeer - I'm against minimum pricing on anything.
(I'm enjoying a glass of Tesco Value Mineral Water as I write this - 10 pence for 2 litres!)
But I have other reasons for opposing this well-meaning proposal.

For the last forty years, the price of cigarettes has crept upwards - it now costs nearly £6 to enjoy a packet of 20 deathsticks.
Is that why so many people successfully quit every year?
NO.
Higher cost on its own is never going to stop a smoker lighting up. They may "cut down" for a while; but not give up because it's too expensive.

Smokers generally beat their addiction, because knowledge of associated health risks tip the balance for them.
For the last twenty-plus years, schools in the maintained sector have routinely educated children about the links between lung cancer, heart disease and smoking.
Whether or not people choose to use it for their benefit, they have the knowledge to make the right choice.

This is what we need to do with alcohol.
We need to educate right from the beginning about the real cost of alcohol.
The devastating social costs as well as horrendous health issues.
That is how we'll tackle this problem.

FIRST JOB CLUB OF NEW YEAR

and this is where the New Year really starts - first Shaftesbury Job Club session of the year, if anyone manages to get through the snow.
www.shaftesburyjobclub.co.uk
Expect our free coffee and cake to be much in demand this morning.
We're helping jobseekers to get in a better position to find work.
This means helping with CVs, making suggestions, contacting possible employers or often just listening to their problems.
Looking in-depth at Worktrain today for one of our members and planning a Job Fair for February.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

THE ONLY POINT OF SNOW...


... and this is it!

Never so happy as when on skiis, although these really do need serious update - 18 years old!

If there wasn't an election pending, I'd be getting fit to go off to the Alps asap.
Priorities...

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

WHAT'S THE POINT OF THE COUNCIL?

Shaftesbury Town Council met last night for the first Full Council of the New Year.
We had a very positive meeting with excellent contributions from members of the public who attended - despite freezing conditions.
As Councillor Beer said last night, people living in the town want to see that the Council gets things done.
That applies to all Councils, in my opinion.
As this weather hits - again - and people are stranded in freezing conditions with scare stories of low grit supplies abounding, I hear more and more people saying -
"...but why don't local authorities - our councils - prepare for this?"
We need Councillors across the nation focussed on keeping our roads safe and streetlamps functioning.
That's why we elected them.
To be brave enough to do the job they're actually elected for, rather than enjoying taxpayer-subsidised tea and biscuits at yet another Diversity Enablement Workshop.

Monday, 4 January 2010

REBUILDING THE FAMILY

Building and rebuilding strong family units is key to our Conservative social policies. David Cameron's reiterated commitment to recognizing the family underlines just how impotant this is.
As Tim Montgomerie said on the Today Programme this morning, Britain is one of only THREE countries in the developed world, which does NOT recognize marriage through its tax system. Our travelling-companions in this case being Turkey and Mexico.

In 2007, there were 144,220 UK divorces according to the National Statistics office.

A new pre-marriage campaign group says:

“Fractured families are bad for British society yet EVERY year about 300,000 UK adults and countless children get caught up in the pain and devastation of divorce..."
http://www.journalism.co.uk/66/articles/537024.php

Tax Breaks for married couples would not reverse the divorce rate overnight; but would be an important step in the right direction.




IT'S ABOUT DOING RIGHT

I'm often asked why I'm "in politics".

Being me, the answers are simple & pragmatic.

But firstly, it is certainly not about left or right.
Our world has grown far too complex and dangerous to take extreme political positions.
And anyway, this outdated "left/right" thing is not something that normal, non-political - people understand or relate to.
And it's normal people whom we seek to represent.

So - why am I in politics?

I want to be involved in growing solutions from the ground up.
Real people - real problems - real answers.
NOT studies, intiatives and endless self-justification.
As David Cameron says, giving control back to the individual.

I want to convince people that as individuals, we can make a practical difference to our communities and to our society as a whole.
And with this power comes responsibility - so it's not the Council, the Government or anyone else who should "do something". It's WE who should do something.

So, for me, it's not about left and right;
but about DOING right.
DOING right for ourselves, our communities, our country and our world.

Of course - there is a lot more to it and to what I believe - and I'll talk about where I stand on the issues another time.

But this is ""Why I'm in politics".

Saturday, 2 January 2010

POP LIFE - TATE MODERN



Tate Modern - lunch with sister Annie - respite from Theo the outsize dog.


Drove up; I must learn to like the train. Really don't.


Not much traffic and not sure why I enjoy driving in the capital so much; I don't know anyone else who does.


Better check whether I need to pay congestion today - think not.


The exhibition "Pop Life - Art in a material world" was brilliant. Apart from the X-rated bits that is. I understand the artistic principle; but I find it mostly self-indulgent, unimaginative and narcissistic; which of course is part of the point.


http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/exhibitions/poplife/


it was worth going for Jeff Koons stainless steel bunny alone. (plus accompanying video of Macy's on Thanksgiving. I love NY)


Damien Hirst's new stuff was wondrous. That calf!


Still oscillating between loving and hating Tracey Emin. Do wish she could spell.
Barely any Sarah Lucas though. The most intelligent, subtle and least vulgar of the YBAs.


Coped with the dead horse OK, though wanted to sit on floor and cuddle it. By its teeth ( if they belonged to the horse) it wasn't that old. about 10 at most. Not bad feet - slightly boxy.
Didn't feel emotional or repulsed at all.
Probably because it was so beautifully presented.
Can't stop thinking about it now though - and the mystery of death in general.
Modern Art always has this effect on me.


No Chapmans nor G + G, phew.


The Andy Warhol artefacts were fascinating; more so than the bigger works, though it's good to see and be re-challenged by the familiar. Odd to think that Warhol and Dali were friends and almost-contemporaries.


Annie and I agreed that it was a better way to spend the afternoon than shopping. Though we did a bit of that too.


Food in the members' restaurant has really improved. Obviously someone has actually read my "helpful" letters.


Well - you just can't do a 10 room exhibition sustained by a mere shot glass of borscht and minimalist carapace of finely sliced vegetables adorned with the odd prawn.


as John Mortimer said "...Grey Tart calls for stamina." (Summers Lease).

Monster dog greeted me with beaming lickiness and much leaping and crashing.


Steeling self to walk it again tomorrow...