Sunday, 30 May 2010

Higgs Boson

Sometimes, when the concerns of daily life threaten to preoccupy me, I find escape in contemplating the universe and pondering my own insignificance in the scale of it all.  It is sobering and yet awe-inspiring,wonderful and exciting. 

Now, I know I'm not alone in admiring Prof Brian Cox, for the way in which he can articulate very complex scientific fact and theory in fairly simple language. Frustratingly I cannot now find a recording of an interivew he gave on Radio 4 recently where he was challenged to justify the cost of exploring the Big Bang at CERN.   In particular he was asked about the Higgs Boson particle and what useful purpose it might serve economically, other than as a merely academic advance in our understanding of physics.  He replied that all scientific discovery advances our civilisation both economically and in many other ways and no discovery ever goes to waste, using the electron as an example of how its discovery and subsequent development of electricity revolutionised our world.

Here he is in action, back in June 2008 explaining over 15 minutes or so, life the universe and theory of everything.  Enjoy!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

What just happened ?

Let's unpick the David Laws story which has unfolded over the past 36 hours or so.  Bear in mind the following:-

  • The Telegraph conducted its expose of MP's expenses over the course of last Summer up to the end of September
  • David Laws appears to have claimed monies inappropriately for the period June 2006-August 2009.
  • That amounts to £15,000 approximately
  • The Telegraph knew this and published his claims last year
  • The story which ran today was broken on the basis that he was 'claiming' (note the present tense) monies for rent to re-imburse his live-in 'friend'
  • He is a millionaire and it was self-evidently not done for personal financial gain
So let's be clear.  He may have made a mistake claiming expenses in the period set out above but it was NOT IN THIS PARLIAMENT and IT IS NOT CURRENT.

So what was the real purpose of re-publishing the expenses claims now ?  There can only have been one - to out him to his family (in particular his elderly parents, who are Catholic).  Virtually everyone in the Westminster village and in the LibDems knew he was gay.

It's a salacious story - nothing more and nothing less.  But the Press has been swift to change their emphasis, now they have got their scalp:  now it's all sanctimonious claptrap about how talented he is, what a tragedy this is for him personally etc.  I do not wish to condone the claims for rent which he acknowledged were wrong but...in 2010, when we smugly tell ourselves what an open society we now live in, how can it be in the national interest either economically, politically or morally to hound someone out of office like this ?

As Iain Dale noted, he is a broken man.

I have rarely felt so much despair about politics and the hypocrisies of our fourth estate.

Friday, 28 May 2010

I love the inter-tubes!

Let joy be unconfined!  Sometimes a plan comes to fruition and so it is with great delight that I can relay what BM has been hatching over the past couple of weeks.

Readers may recall that BM is Chair of Govs at a Nursery & Children's Centre and we are due to have our annual Bermondsey Summer Fete in July.  Sensible Footwear initially drew my attention to Old Town and their gorgeous fabric 'Bermondsey in Bloom' as a result of which and after some enquiries, we are now in a position to display that lovely fabric at the Centre during the Fete; along with the Pearly King & Queen sing-along, Punch & Judy show etc and in return we are sending to Old Town some fabric designed by the children when we re-opened as a Children's Centre in the heart of Bermondsey.  Roll on July 17th!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Whitsun weekend

This was always the signal that Summer had truly arrived.  As a child and teenager growing up in rural western Ireland, it also signalled the first visit to the bog.  Not what you might think if you are an urban fox...(Irish Mammy will understand...)

Even though at the time, I vowed never to inflict this on my own children (little knowing the opportunity would never arise in any event) I now find myself looking back wistfully to a simpler existence, when our winter warmth depended on those days spent lifting, turning, piling, bagging and drawing home the 'turf' or dried peat if you prefer.  I'm not sure tea and sandwiches have ever tasted as good since.  Then again -reality check- these days the work, which was back-breaking, with constant exposure to 'crower' or horse-fly and midge bites, would be considered akin to child cruelty.  Just in case anyone is wondering, BM is still in her early forties, and her in-laws are the same age as her parents but as the said in-laws pointed out perceptively on their first visit to Ireland, even then it felt like it had not changed since at least the 1950s (in 1996).  

However.....BM's sister, herself going through a reflective phase, took her own children to join BM's Pater Familias at the family bog site to 'help' last weekend.   Suffice it to say, nobody involved will ever request a return visit!

Nope, Pater is happy by himself (well, with Penny the dog for company) and BM's sister has to accept as we all do I suppose, that our children have to build their own unique memories and cannot simply recreate ours.

Some pictures




And this




Maybe it's time for a visit...

Mid-summer or mid-life crisis ?

Whether it's because BM is in the middle of a life-changing event or that mid-Summer approaches or that she is simply mid-life, thoughts stray to more carefree times, when all that mattered was where we were going on Saturday night/the weekend, how we would get there and what we would wear.  The 'we' referred to are the BM siblings and extended family (we travelled in packs - you know who you are).  Long before meaningful relationships (other than friendships), or mortgages or life insurance or regular food shopping...actually long before Festivals became fashionable events.

Anyway for reasons which are difficult to explain, BM finds herself reminded of those times by the only man she has stood/danced/waded through mud to see/worship/sing along with .....the Boss.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The Roar from the Lion's Den

In case I forget, best of luck to Millwall on Saturday.  The 'Roar' referred to above was, of course, heard in BM's garden last week when they beat Huddersfield Town to win a place in the play-off final at Wembley this coming Saturday.   They get a bad national press, but Millwall has a fantastic genuine family-friendly atmosphere and as a club, does lots of unsung community work with young people.  So, down to the Blue on Saturday morning to buy the scarves (sadly tickets are all gone) and TV on to watch - as the slogan goes, 'Nobody likes us, we don't care'.

Mayor of London

Yawn...it seems like Boris has only just started but no, already the Labour Party at least is going to decide at their Autumn conference, who their candidate for the next Mayoral election in 2012 will be.  Ken, who has never really accepted that he is no longer the current incumbent, is the leading candidate but it seems that other people are interested and "Uh Oh", the nomination may not be the shoe-in Ken expects.

Oona King, former MP for Bethnal Green and Bow has formally declared her interest and has some interesting backers (see Hopi Sen).   No question she would be an interesting candidate who would probably win the inner London boroughs without too much difficulty but Boris' cunning was to remember that London comprises 32 boroughs, which is how he won and I can't see Ms King's appeal extending to those suburban heartlands so easily. 

Not a twitterer

BM has been busy over the past few days .  A combination of languour brought about by the extreme heat of the past 3 days, together with the diary management of children with swimming lessons, birthday parties, (extremely large) paddling pool inflation, filling and supervision, picnic preparation, new teacher recruitment in role as CoG, editorial supervision of school pupils newsletter and preparation for new CoG role meeting tomorrow, meant that something had to give and that, dear readers, was blogging. 

Not that BM has not been exercised by several issues which required blogging - au contraire - but sometimes, perhaps it's best to let the initial heat wear off and then, in a calmer mood, commit thoughts to paper/the inter-tubes.   Which is all a long way of explaining why I don't do/wouldn't trust myself to Tweet.

Old friends

One of the unexpected benefits of having B husband about the house for a few weeks has been the opportunity it has given BM to meet up with old friends on a week-day evening.  One such meeting took place last week in Covent Garden just as the weather was warming up towards the highs we have enjoyed over the past 3 days.

It was a bit cliched perhaps to meet in Covent Garden but you know, it must be at least 10 years since I was there at 6.30pm amidst the after-work rush, the dawdling tourists, the street performers et al and it felt so good!  Alas, despite our promises that we would eat quickly and then have time to browse around the shops before they closed, it was in fact 10.30pm before we called it a night at Pizza Express (again with the clicheed reliability, I know...)  

All now in our forties, it seems that we have been battered a little by life one way or another over the past few years in particular: at any rate we are not the Edna O'Brien 'Country Girls' we were, back in 1987 when we first met fresh from Ireland and woefully naive.    So the conversation drifted, as these things do amongst old friends, from everything such as, longer tunics with leggings (can we still wear them ?) to the loss of one's parents or siblings to cosmetic surgery and back to children and spouses (which also came along after we had met and become friends).  Small wonder we never got to the shops!

Anyway it was restorative, balm and a comfort to the soul and as if any were needed, a reminder that some things like old friendships, no matter the time lapse between meetings, are a fixed reliable point in a changing world.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

The wonders of the inter-tubes

My friend over at Sensible Footwear yesterday featured some lovely shots of forget-me-nots in her garden and a link to Old Town, a company based in Norfolk which makes/recreates vintage clothing.  She also links to A Bloomsbury Life, where the clothing from Old Town is featured.  Bear in mind that the writer of A Bloomsbury Life is American and lives in LA, while you read her impressions of this rather lovely dress, made from the fabric pattern 'Bermondsey in Bloom'.


Isn't the internet wonderful ?

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Wow


The Shard as it will be and where it's up to now... 

On this day

in 1536, Anne Boleyn was beheaded on Tower Green, just across the river.  It wasn't so uncommon a form of punishment at the time but still, makes you grateful to be alive in this century and not hers eh ?


My Big Society

BM has been grappling with an unexpected dilemma - she has been asked to take over as Chair of Governors in a primary school, in addition to her role (also voluntary) as a Chair of Governors at a Nursery School & Children's Centre.  Whilst flattering, methinks this vividly illustrates just how shallow the pool of talent for school governance actually is. 

Having deployed similar tactics myself in order to persuade good candidates to get involved in school governance, I recognise all too well the assurances given that this will not take up too much time, only 2 meetings per term etc.  However, despite reservations and with the caveat that I do not know how long I can commit to, flattery won out...so once more into the breach or something like that.  Updates to follow as the full extent of the commitment is revealed.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Tristram Hunt on Today

Here is someone BM has admired on TV and occasionally on the radio for his balanced views and ability to put into context the historical era he describes.  So it was rather dispiriting to hear him on the Today programme earlier, when interviewed as a 'newbie' MP, use the opportunity to launch an all-out attack on the new government for its, as yet unpublished, planned spending cuts.  Describing the idea of a Big Society as giving 'yummy mummies in West London and under-employed professionals' something to do with their time. 

Whilst I have expressed my own reservations about the idea of volunteers running essential services, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed in Mr Hunt this morning.  For a start he appears to have dropped the rather lovely plummy tones he usually employs when broadcasting (could this be a nod to his new constituents in Stoke on Trent ?) and where was his usual academic rigour in describing the  challenges facing the country?  Answer  - sadly absent.   After all, one would expect the historian to be curious as to why, after 13 years of record investment in schools parents would feel the need to set up schools of their own and to give some contextual analysis of that phenomenon.  

BM was left with the impression of just another Party hack now trying to make an early name for himself as a politician.   Judge for yourself here.  

p.s  Does this also mark the first use of 'yummy mummy' as a pejorative term?

Monday, 17 May 2010

Phew...

Having worked out that it had been 10 months since we were last out alone together, BM and B husband have just spent an entire weekend socialising every night.  Time was when that was not so unusual but life has changed a lot over the past 10 years or so, with the result that today, BM is very very tired.

Tired but unrepentant actually.   Chances are it may be another 10 years before BM indulges in such a weekend again and all things considered, it turned out much better than anticipated.  Friday night, Alan Bennett play, Saturday Mayor's Ball and last night, dinner with Simon H and campaign team at Cafe Amisha, along the road.  Quite a few of the team including B husband were fresh from the special conference in Birmingham and full of praise for Simon's barnstorming speech.  Lots of wine, food, more speeches and laughter followed with people reflecting almost in disbelief, on the events of the past 7 days.     Even though there is understandable concern about the future, there is genuine excitement about seeing LibDem manifesto pledges materialise into government policy.

But for BM right now, it's time for nurofen and an early night...

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Far From Kansas...

BM lives a sheltered life but as it often does, Southwark surprises and so it was that last night BM first heard the London Gay Men's Chorus at the Mayor of Southwark's Ball in aid of Help for Heroes. So much fun!




The Habit of Art - a BM review

BM and B husband saw this at the National last night, a postponed outing from Christmas when BM was clinging to life in St Thomas (but that's for another time).

It was just as you expect from an Alan Bennett play; comfortingly clever but not too clever, occasionally shocking but not too much to offend and laugh out loud funny at times.   It is set in Oxford in 1972 where WH Auden has returned as Professor of Poetry and is visited by his old friend Benjamin Britten.  Even though I don't think it's his best work, there's something about Bennett as a wordsmith:  in one passage Auden berates Benjamin Britten for wanting to live "an upholstered life", it was worth it for that phrase alone.  Just as in BM's opinion,  'The History Boys' was worth it for this quote by Hector, the boys' teacher:-

"The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - that you'd thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you've never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it's as if a hand has come out, and taken yours and you are not alone"

In both plays, those words were spoken by Richard Griffiths.  Frances de la Tour also starred in the The History Boys and here again, delivers a fine performance: she has a slightly 'arch' way about her and killer comic timing.

So, perfect Friday evening comfort apart from the observation that the audience was very white and very middle-aged, although let's face it, so are we...

Friday, 14 May 2010

The Elephant in the view

Returning from town on the bus today, as we turned from Aldwych onto the Strand and BM looked down Arundel Street, the new landmark at the Elephant & Castle came into view...rather impressive really.



Becoming a groupie

When I first met B husband he was a Barrister and I was a lowly articled clerk.  Following a whirlwind romance, we settled down in Tooley St. to a rather good life.  We both enjoy the theatre although in BM's case, sometimes perhaps 'endure' is a better word, and being childless, footloose and fancy-free at the time, could avail of half-price tickets on the day and go on a whim.

As politics overtook the career at the Bar and children overtook BM's career, that obviously changed.   B husband however, as Leader of the Council would from time to time receive tickets to opening nights at the Old & Young Vic, and the Globe but usually went alone because of BM's childcare difficulties.      I accompanied him to the Globe once and even then, without much grace.  Despite the freebie, the babysitter was pricey and I couldn't help thinking of at least 5 other ways I would prefer to spend a precious evening out together.  For me the problem with mediocre or bad theatre is that it too often feels contrived and silly:  a room full of adults sitting watching other adults pretend to do something and I went fully anticipating such an evening.  BM was not in a good mood.

Anyway, it was Mark Rylance's last production as Artistic Director and he was performing the role of Lady Olivia in Twelfth Night.  Of all the plays I have accompanied B husband to over the years, before and after Southwark, this was the most memorable evening of theatre I have ever witnessed.  BM forgot the cold and was transfixed !  In the way of unintended consequences, the experience did not so much inspire a love or better understanding of Shakespeare (although it did), as a devotion to Mark Rylance and all of his work.   Subsequently, saw him in 'Boeing Boeing', followed by 'Jerusalem' last year, also award-winning and (DV) will go to see him in 'La Bete' with Joanna Lumley later this Summer (provided both of us get jobs).

So an entirely unexpected consequence and highlight of B husband's political career is BM's late development as a Mark Rylance groupie!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

In the small print

From the Agreement, page 3:-

" We will end the detention of children for immigration purposes".

A terrible beauty ?

So the political landscape has changed in a matter of hours.  Although one could say that an objective analysis of the general election result meant that this was the only likely option to emerge, it's still rather astonishing...and however exciting, carries risks for both parties.  The taunt flung at LibDems was always that their policy agenda was fantasy, that a vote for them and and their policies was wasted because the reality was they would never have a chance to implement them  - and now they have!

For an area like Southwark, the benefits could be substantial; a pupil premium for our schools will mean more teachers and smaller class sizes, raising the tax threshold to £10,000 will make a significant difference to the levels of deprivation endured by a section of our society often overlooked, (the working poor) and if the constitutional policies are as we think they are, well it looks like a good start.

BM can't pretend to like David Cameron or George Osborne but I do like the idea of their policies being tempered by Lib Dems such as Nick Clegg and Vince Cable.   And in the end people go into politics to have an opportunity to govern and make a difference and they would not have been forgiven for failing to make a decision to govern.  

Meanwhile, the cuts which have to be made, however tempered or softened by LibDems, will be done through local authorities up and down the country stuffed full of newly elected Labour councillors, backed by the Trades Unions.  It would have happened anyway even with a Labour government but now the lines have been clearly drawn.  Those Labour councils owe the unions their election so how are they going to implement the cuts to their budgets ?  However it's done whether by losing public sector jobs or jacking up Council Tax or both, they will take every opportunity to blame the Tory/LibDem government for their own incompetence, dishonesty and failures of leadership.

We live in interesting times.  Alls changed, changed utterly...

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Doctor Who

One of the many benefits of merging our family life with Southark's over the past 8 years has been the 'heads up' B husband would receive about forthcoming filming of Doctor Who.  As fans will recall, when the series was revived in 1995, the Brandon Estate in Southwark was chosen as the location for filming of Rose Tyler's (Billie Piper) fictional home, the Powell Estate. 

Not many people realise but Southwark Council has a small but thriving film location unit, which has become increasingly busy. 

Below a picture of the B children outside the actual Tardis during set-up for the final episode of David Tennant's period as the Doctor, screened over Christmas and New Year just gone.  For the record, it was a freezing cold Friday in February and the fake snow kept disappearing because of the actual sleet falling continuously.  Whilst we were cold but agog, the local population had clearly seen it all before.

Who reads the papers ?

Two ways to live your life

Albert Einstein once said:-

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle"

Much as BM admires the sentiment,  the second way as AE describes might be a bit exhausting, no?   

Monday, 10 May 2010

West Wing - almost favourite scene

Starting over

So....slightly weird day; some people know, some don't, most don't care either way.    Which is true of any life-changing personal event I suppose.   Life goes on.

Even though it may seem ridiculous to some, I rank this event in our lives in a similar category to the death of my mother quite suddenly and without warning 11 years ago, in that from now on life will be measured before and after. 

Over the past 8-10 years, I have gradually grown used to the loneliness of evenings without B husband.  Initially it was a source of resentment but having given up trying to do it all and jacked in the career, life was at least less hectic and I became used to fitting our family life, including weekends, around Southwark.  In addition,  even though I am not even a party member, I found myself regularly fielding questions ranging from housing difficulties to dog mess in the parks...not sure it was ever my problem but it's certainly not from now on.

So all change, new beginnings, exciting and a bit scary.  Feels like that's the message writ large nationally as well but we shall see. 

How we're doing

Not too bad as it turns out.   A combination of shock and sleeplessness led to a very topsy-turvy couple of days.  There have been tears and hugs and this evening a meeting of the local party to debrief which was also emotional with warm tributes paid to B husband who has now resigned as leader of the LibDem group.   He's right that after 10 years, and for renewal to take place, it's for someone else to take over.     It felt like coming home, walking in there tonight because it is a shared sadness and we were among friends.

Non-political friends have been very kind and as with a bereavement, kindness is something which penetrates one's defences.   It's much easier to handle indifference.   But friends understand how much we had invested in politics and Southwark and understand the consequences of such a brutal repudiation, however legitimate.

Unsurprisingly to anyone who knows her, BM (who has a touch of the Lady Macbeth about her) finds it difficult not to be bitter about the ingratitude whereas B husband is pragmatic.  He prefers to see it as 8 years in which he gave it his all, changed things for the better and it was a privilege to have had the opportunity to serve.  

So, Monday looms and that means reality bites.  Turns out there are a lot of unemployed lawyers/politicans so better make a start on the CV.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Song of the day

In praise of...democracy

Well, you can't argue with it, that's for sure.  The national picture may be puzzling but the local one was certainly clear.  Southwark Council is now in Labour hands by a clear majority.  
It brings to an end 8 years of Lib Dem control of Southwark, of which I believe those involved can be really proud.  I suppose the test would be, is it a better place than when you started ?   Bear in mind that Labour had run the council for as long as it existed before 2002.  The education department had been deemed so dysfunctional that the Govt had imposed external management of the service, schools results were poor and very few schools were deemed good or outstanding by Ofsted, housing disrepair for Council tenants were at an all-time high, there were no doorstep recycling collections, the streets were judged the filthiest in London and those things have all been turned around.  It's not perfect but it's a lot better.  As well as that, the regeneration schemes which had stalled in the north of the borough have been developed with B Square, B Spa and Canada Water regeneration schemes all visibly progressing.

So at the end of 8 years, immediate unemployment is the order of the day (with no redundancy payment).  Was it all worth it?  BM is enormously proud of B husband and there can be no regrets because we went into this knowing it could end this way.  Many friends looked at what we had chosen and thought we were mad; the insecurity, no pension etc but it has been worth it.  Southwark is an amazing place to live and B Dad has contributed towards making it so over the past 8 years.  

That said, BM for one is done now...

Friday, 7 May 2010

Dazed and confused

What does it all mean ? BM's not sure but then she's in good company.   To some extent the debate over whether this represents a return to parliamentary rather than 'presidential' style elections, is academic.   Real people, some of them friends, lost seats.

Of the Lib Dem losses, BM is particularly grieved for Evan Harris (Oxford West & Abingdon), who is a decent man who has taken principled stands on unpopular causes - maybe that's what did for him in the end - unaccompanied children at Yarl's Wood detention centre do not have a vote.  I wonder if the new Tory MP will care so much about their wellbeing.  

On a brighter note, here in Bermondsey & Old Southwark, despite a vicious nasty campaign fought by Labour, targetting race and immigration issues, Simon emerged with his best ever result!    Once again, Bermondsey defies stereotypes about its voter profile and shows that a good man who has also fought some unpopular causes, can win and win big.

The Council seat count starts later today...let's hope for a clearer outcome to that.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

GOTV

For the uninitiated, not a new TV station but the Get Out The Vote effort, which started at approximately 5am and will go on until 10pm.      Bermondsey Mum has been involved in this in one way or another over 8 different election campaigns.  Long ago, when she was a civilian enjoying normal recreational activities, she could not have imagined what a campaign involves, culminating in the GOTV.  Civilian is a careful choice of word, because the effort is run with a military style efficiency (in that sometimes it is well resourced and others, not so much) and planned well in advance.  For BM, the final push on Election day, GOTV is the most nerve-wracking of all.

Back in HQ as teller slips are analysed and volunteers deployed to 'knock up' recalcitrant voters (not what you think), everything tends to run smoothly until the after work surge between 7-10pm.  At that point all of your assumptions about what is 'safe' or not disappear as frantic number-crunching goes on and tactical decisions are taken about where to deploy the 'knock up'.  

Still, the airwaves are mercifully clear of electioneering today and one way or another it will all be over this time tomorrow...at least for 6 months or so.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Tinseltown in the rain

Song for today

Lies, damned lies and...the Daily Telegraph

So The Fawcett Society conducted a survery of all 3 main parties and all of their PPCs in every constituency in the UK on issues affecting women eg, gender pay gap, rape counselling services, childcare etc.  They report their finding unambigusously here

The Telegraph's report on the survey is here .

To save you the bother of searching through, BM will summarise.  Whereas, Labour and Lib Dem candidates who responded supported the Fawcett Society's agenda in the following numbers Labour 23.1 and LibDems 19.9, only 2.6% of the Conservative Party candidates agreed.

 So the Telegraph's headline is

" Just 17pc of election candidates support action on gender equality, survey shows"

Do you see what they've done there?   2.6% doesn't read so good does it, so let's just average out the 3 numbers...sneaky, huh ?  Not that they're biased or anything...

The Choice agenda

Bermondsey Mum has a problem with choice, or rather too much of it and in a consumer setting, confronted with a myriad number of options, finds it all a bit paralysing ie she is the kid in the sweet shop who can only choose one thing but can't make up her mind faced with all the goodies.   The internet has in some ways made this worse.  If BM searches for something, gotta be honest she's only going to look at some of the options on page 1 of the search results.  A combination of life being too short and sometimes the pressing need to make a decision, any decision sets a limit on her choices.

Elsewhere, BM relies on her favourite shop in the real world, John Lewis of course, to edit the choice for her.  There are other department stores but to BM's mind they are either too expensive, trend-led, dark inside (an immediate put-off) or have assistants who persist in offering to help.  If BM needs help, she will ask for it - simples ! 


Which leads me on to a comment I heard over the weekend from an election pundit that whereas politicians of all stripes have for years now spoken in glowing terms of offering the people 'choice' in our GP, schools, hospitals etc (however spurious that choice might turn out to be in reality), the problem with this election is that Tories and Labour insist that there are only 2 choices.    So when we come to decide who to vote for, it's simply not good enough any more to be presented with only 2 or at best 3, options.  We want choice but the system as it currently stands does not offer it to us.  Hence, the pundit offered, the explanation for the absence of any clear lead for the Tories.  People, used to choice and in the consumer world, understanding what that choice means, are not buying it.

BM supports electoral reform, after all it's the only grown-up way to ensure true representative democracy.  But here's BM's dilemma: John Lewis would be no help... 

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Play Downing street-fighter !

Via Andrew Rawnsley

Bermondsey Mum's first ever demo!

Yesterday's post about DC at the City of London Academy, was only half the story, readers.  Spotting the camera crew at COLA alerted BM to his imminent arrival and led to a blog-led flash mob event!  It was the most hysterical fun Bermondsey Mum has had in a while, made even more surreal by the arrival of Boris on his bicycle.   And all captured by Sky News and Bill Neely for ITN.  Fortunately BM is not recognisable in any of the pictures, obscured as she was by large Liberal Democrat boards. 

The Tory advance guy seemed bemused and ever so slightly irritated by our appearance.  Bermondsey Mum suspects this was his first and possibly only visit to this part of SE1; he seemed much more an SW1 type, close cropped haircut, very nice suit and brogues which had been buffed to a military-quality shine.   Best quip of the event goes to Gary Glover "We got posh cars too you know!" as our Mercedes minibuses arrived with re-inforcements!   

Where is Gideon Oliver (George) Osborne ?

Bermondsey Mum has noted the lack of coverage of the man who would be Chancellor in 3 days time and she is not alone.  The Mole  suggests that if is he is indeed locked in a cupboard with no media access in Tory Central Office, it may be something to do with the fact that he is not the most popular choice for Chancellor with either the great unwashed public or indeed, the people he has courted so assiduously, the City men.   No, it seems that the City men want Ken Clarke.  More interestingly, hardly any of the mainstream media (MSM) has enquired about Mr Osborne's whereabouts: no quotes on the Greek meltdown, the fragility of the Euro - nada.  It's as if they are maintaining a radio silence in enemy territory - " if we don't mention GO, then perhaps people will not notice that he is singularly and spectacularly unprepared to deal with the greatest financial crisis facing the country since at least the 1930's".

Where's George Osborne ? Someone should start a Twitter meme....

Monday, 3 May 2010

Tory homework

Watching Sky News earlier, Bermondsey Mum was surprised to hear David Cameron launch his Schools Olympics idea with Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, Shadow Culture, Media & Sport spokesperson at the City of London Academy, right here in Bermondsey!  Surprised because far from being the 'new' idea which Jeremy described, Southwark Council has been running its own schools olympics which is called the Southwark Community Games, very successfully for several years now.  And to think that David was a PR man too; tsk tsk, someone didn't do their homework...I'd have words with your advance people, Dave...

Upside down

All that effort...

David Cameron's Tories are currently polling 2-3 points (33-35%) more than Michael Howard's Tories (33%)...

Something's gotta give...

So Allison Pearson is the latest well known woman who seemed to have it all, to admit to clinical depression.  The pressure of work, children, partnership, housekeeping and maintaining a groomed, well toned appearance has taken its toll.  Although not unsympathetic, Bermondsey Mum's response would be:- "Well yeah, and what did you expect ?"   There are only so many hours in the day, at least 7 of which should be spent sleeping, which doesn't leave much to divide between work including travel to and from, children and their diverse needs, housekeeping (including shopping, cleaning, paying the bills and dealing with mail), keeping up meaningful friendships and extended family relationships as well as 'couple' time...In choosing what's gotta give in all this, there is an opportunity cost ie the benefit that is given up when a choice must be made because resources are scarce in relation to wants.  

In Bermondsey Mum's experience, women are their own worst enemies when it comes to making that choice.  They would rather hurtle towards mental ill-health than admit that they cannot possibly keep everything going to the same high standard.  Let's not forget either that often the harshest critics when a woman slips up, are other women.   A friend of BM who shall remain nameless, keeps a file of Daily Mail headlines because she is waiting for the one to cap it all - that working mothers caused global warming ! Not as fanciful as you might think, if you are familiar with the Mail.

In the article linked to above, Minette Marrin suggests letting standards drop or more radically, giving up something completely in order to gain the benefit of time for other activities.  Bermondsey Mum did just that 5 years ago...for a saner if less financially secure and intellectually challenging lifestyle.   Nevertheless, the Opportunity Cost is of course, lapsed career.  If BM is aware of this, so it seems are many other people, with pointed enquiries about the childrens' age now, such a pity to 'waste' all those years of study etc.  BM finds herself increasingly unmoved by these not-so-subtle hints and has discovered that an unexpected bonus of stepping off the competitive merry go round has been the ability to care a little less about what other people think.  

In the modern male parlance then, the advice would be to 'grow some'.  Actually maybe that's Bermondsey Mum's prescription  - make a choice, stick to it and almost magically you'll find that you care less and less what other people think.  Now that would be real girl power !

Cartoon of the day

(Courtesy  - Morten Morland)

Charlie's Brooker's assessment of David Cameron

"I see the sheen, the electronic calm, those tiny, expressionless eyes . . . I glimpse the outlines of the cloaking device and I instinctively recoil, like a baby tasting mould. Don't get me wrong. I don't see a power-crazed despot either. I almost wish I did. Instead, I see an avatar. A simulated man with a simulated face. A humanoid. A replicant. An Auton. A construct. A Carlton PR man who's arrived to run the country, and currently stands before us, blinking patiently, blank yet alert, quietly awaiting commencement of phase two. At which point, presumably, his real face may finally become visible."

Creepy and scary...

Sunday, 2 May 2010

In praise of ...John Lanchester

For those of you unfamiliar with his work, John Lanchester is a writer who has published several books, the most recent of which 'Whoops' - why everyone owes everyone and no-one can pay' focused  on the banking collapse.  He has been writing a daily blog on the election campaign over at the LRB website.  Well worth a read for a lucid, humorous analysis of the daily events (or non-events) that have made the news.

Changing the world

The American anthrolopogist, Margaret Mead famously said:-

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

It's a quote that Bermondsey Dad is fond of using to inspire and motivate, largely to good effect.    Sometimes however, it's easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of everyday life and and since effecting real change can take time, it's difficult to get a sense of how a project is going.   We think of our projects as merely local, but of course everything that was ever worthwhile is local.   There's also a strangely English (and Irish) reticence about broadcasting our ambitions for fear of derision. 

Aaanyway...Bermondsey Mum has been acting as landlady to one of the campaign volunteers who happens to be American and BM loves Americans - loves them!  Have a look at his website and marvel at the sheer optimism and the conviction running through it like Brighton rock, that it is possible to change the world! And Go LibDems!
  
http://www.kyletaylor.com/

     

Saturday, 1 May 2010

More of them...opposite side...


A couple of them had child/baby seats in the back.  Bermondsey Mum is intrigued...