Thursday, 27 January 2011

January 27

This is the day my mother died 12 years ago.  It was sudden, unexpected and overwhelming.  She was 54 years old. 

Until then, I had taken her for granted as one does, getting on with my life and I think not having any real comprehension of how much I loved her.  For a while the loss of her shattered our whole family but slowly things got better in their own way for each of us.  My father who was and remains most clearly lost without her, has lived to see 9 grandchildren, something she would have loved. 

It seems to me sometimes that I am now navigating without a compass.  Pregnancy, childbirth and child-rearing in particular have all perhaps been slightly more anxious as a result.  And of course, she has not been around to share the joys either. 

So this is an important day.  For various reasons I will not be in Ireland as I would have liked.  Instead I will be at work and in the evening, meeting friends for dinner.  These are the same people who were with me when I heard she had died and who, whether they realise it or not helped get me through the months which followed.  

This is a picture of her in 1971, wearing a mini-skirt and lacy cream tights which you can't see but I remember them because we were all having our picture taken that day and at one point I was sitting on the floor and I could put my finger through her tights.

She had 4 children by then and would have 6 in all before she was 30. During the mid-seventies she grew her hair long and (shockingly for our small farming village community) wore trouser suits.  With the arrival of my own children has come a recognition and understanding of her need back then to cling onto some sort of identity beyond that of farmer's wife and mother.
My youngest sister and I were talking last Summer about fashion and stuff and she remembered a comment that one her work colleagues had made about Mam, which made us smile because it was so true and perhaps even more than us, she would have loved to hear it - "She always had great style".

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Reach for the stars

To BM, the Shard is one of the most exciting, invigorating sights in the skyline over spies confirm that the concrete core has now reached its peak at 88 floors and from here upwards it will be steelworks and glass.  I am an unapologetic speaks to me of optimism and confidence and SE1 showyoffiness.   This is a birdseye view and account of what its like to work there which will have to do until it opens in 2012 and we, the great unwashed can visit the viewing platforms on the 30th floor and possibly even the top floor (according to BH) although another source tells me that the penthouse flat (wraparound) has already been sold for a cool £20m...

(Picture:  Susannah Ireland)

The myth of a low-tax economy

Daniel Hannan MEP believes that Joe Higgins MEP, is the most honest man in Ireland...but then that narrative suits him now that the miracle that was the Irish econony of the 1990s & noughties has been exposed a cheap con trick.  I think Barrosso tells it straight here; but that interpretation of Ireland's current woes does not fit Hannan's economic instincts of low tax, free market enterprise.  The truth as BM sees it is that Ireland benefitted from the easy money available to it through being a member of the Euro, enabling it to have infrastructure built funded by (mostly) other European countries whilst at the same time because of the fiscal freedoms the Euro offered, allowing it to entice all sorts of tax evaders (oops, avoiders) to work in the country paying only 12% corporation tax.  I knew very few people who returned to enjoy the  'boom' years who were actually employed - au contraire, they were self-employed.  Why join the PAYE and pay 35% upwards on a sliding scale when you could incorporate and pay only 12?  The cult of the cute hoor is embedded in the Irish psyche and this time, the government was actively encouraging it.  

Over the past 10 years or so, the government began to share some of its largesse from tax receipts with the people and true to its conservative instincts, gave the people the money to spend as they pleased.  Benefits went up,spending on schools and hospitals decreased but that was okay, right ?  People now had the money and could decide where to spend it themselves - the market would take care of the rest.  Until it all came tumbling down...

Maybe in a roundabout way, Hannan's argument is right.  The real lie of a common Eurpean currency was that it was possible to succeed sharing monetary policy only.  The Eurosceptics have always feared a larger plan ie shared fiscal policy and perhaps what we are seeing in the fracture of those weak spendthrift economies is the exposure of the reality that European and Monetary Union can only succeed if there is a common fiscal policy as well.  But I'm not an economist... or a politican...or even a politician's wife anymore so what do I know?  Anyway the clip is short and interesting if only because it reveals a level of exasperation from Barrosso that he usually manages to keep under control.

Friday, 21 January 2011

The Tweet Mirror

Just as I was thinking that Mary's new programme just wasn't up to the standard of the previous offerings, she goes and does something quite wonderful and surprises me!   Like every other piece of technology that has come along, I found myself thinking, "well of course, I'm just amazed it hasn't been done before".  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the tweet mirror.  Seriously, if I were a teenage girl again, I think I would wet myself with the sheer fun of it!

Judge for yourself if you haven't yet seen the show.  And BTW, like I say you could easily skip most of the first two thirds of the show .  All quite depressing stuff about people shopping for cheap disposable fashion in cheap disposable places with cheap disposable shit sherlock, for who knows what reason, people are prepared to put up with it. 

But then, when it seems a bit repetitive and hopeless, she pulls a rabbit out of the hat -  the tweet mirror.... and I'm telling you, the woman is a genius!  That mean little guy in charge of Pilot wasn't giving anything away at the end but you just knew that he wasn't about to shell out the best part of £1m if he hadn't already seen some pretty amazing results.  Mary Rules! 

Tuesday, 4 January 2011


Over the past several weeks, this has been steadily reducing.  Long archived material has had to be retrieved, refreshed and re-loaded.  Quite a bit of it turned up at the same time so now, BM feels like it's so crowded in there that finding any detail on demand is tricky.  Some stuff just stubbornly refuses to emerge because so many files have suddenly been re-loaded at the same time.  The brain is a complex organ, no?  It's not like we can buy some more memory, is it?  (Don't be fooled by that casual IT reference there, and for pity's sake don't ask me to explain it).

So what's to be done?   I could try simply ditching extraneous stuff.   BM's version of juggling - but dropping the balls.  As in resigning as Chair of the children's centre.  What does that tell you about working mums and the Big Society?   Also cleaning but at least it's possible to delegate that to someone else, a no-brainer.   So far, so small stuff.    Space as I said,  is limited.  The big stuff will have to wait.