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.