Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Going back to my old tory ways (tory with a small 't')

I'm going to shamelessly plagiarise blaglady's ideas at least - summarising my latest day's experiences in a word beginning with t. It's more interesting if you can think of some multiple sylabul words but I'll leave that to the tattonified who can also comment on this blog if they have a spare few seconds in their ultra full lives. Anyway the point is, I've gone back to my usual slightly depressed self (after the euphoria of the Obama effect). The Whig historians are incorrect. Again. Progress - my**** [word beginning with a, four letters which rhymes with pass if you've got a posh accent].
Proving this are John Humphries and Cathy Newman. To cut a long story short both these so-called journalists have been on radio and TV respectively recently to denounce public sector pensions. Anyway THIS battle has just started. If they think they will take my pension off me they have got another thing coming. I'm trying to think of the best strategy. And herein lies the problem. How, in God's name (or Dawkins if you're that way inclined) do you decide what to moan about and who to moan to when there is so much moaning, complaining, lobbying and writing to be done? I disagree with 99.9% of what the government or anyone else with any power does every second of my waking life. As far as I am concerned I am right and always have been. But just how does one prioritise? Anyway I looked up Cathy Newman on the web (frankly I've given up on Humphries). As her top 'scoop' at ITN it was uncovering illegal immigrants somewhere. I'm more proud of the literal excrement scooping I've been doing in the real world. So I wrote a complaining email to ITN calling her a neo-fascist. That'll teach the twit.

However I end up arguing with myself because I can't help thinking if the state pension was a decent amount - that people could realistically live on, then I wouldn't really give a flower what rubbish Newman or Humphries spouted. There are further anachronisms and idocyncrasies evident everywhere which cheer me up. The Head of Tobacco Control sparking up a cigarette on the street outside work. 25% of kids obese in Hackney. People working in Child Death being so happy.

When the Whigs opposed the Tories they were the progressive ones - they wanted change. But (as I understand it) the changes they promoted were so backward that it is just about the biggest insult you can say to any historian these days. To be honest I don't really understand why it is such a massive insult. If you're a Whig you believe in progress. The problem for us people in the real world is that sometimes progress doesn't happen - and it only happens because people argue for it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Sage conjures up many images and definitions for me at the moment. Old Sage - I feel like one. Clary Sage - my favourite aromatherapy oil, great for meditating and also for pain relief. And Lorna Sage whose great memoir I read on our brilliant minibreak. Narrowboating really is a perfect way to spend a long weekend - especially if you've just taken up running. You have to get up at the crack of dawn anyway - well by the latest 6.30 so you can set off by daybreak. And fantastic running as the sun rises with the beautiful colours reflecting in the canal. Last week still felt autumnal - the light refractions: yellows, golds, reds and leaf shapes incredible. By the third day we'd mastered the running/lock/boating combination with me running ahead and sorting out the lock and Phil skippering the boat. Ideally not really a winter minibreak choice, because of the hours of daylight, but hey ho we just about managed to get to Stoke Bruene from Leighton Buzzard (actually not far at all) and back. It was a bit of a rush though. I'm afraid I wouldn't recommend racing to get to Stoke Bruene canal museum in November sleet on a Sunday morning by narrowboat. My high expectations after all the brilliant museums in Hong Kong were dashed by this amateur effort.
What I wanted - a history of canals in the Industrial Revolution context, together with detailed histories of local locks, locks are such impressive pieces of early technology. Yet most of the dates on the ones we went past were 1860s onwards - after the railways! I want histories of canalside buildings not to mention how Britain's canal history sits in the world history of canals. What we got - a few 'models' of what a couple of tunnels look like. As with all my beefs - it needed more investment; a professional canal historian to revamp it. We loved
some of the food we tried - the Plough at Simpson definitely needs a mention. Wonderful fish, salads and desserts. That was the good thing about this sort of a holiday - combining peace and tranquility, with history, good food, bit of exercise, reading biography. Perhaps it's the wonder of history that I find the most powerful motivator- even more so I think after Obama's victory.
I did the run today - Leeds Abbey Dash 10k. Extremely slowly (1 hour 30mins), but for a first effort I'm pleased. Definitely progress. Perhaps all my professors are right after all.

Friday, November 07, 2008


Yes, having taken up running over the last few weeks I've been having more of the above. However, of course the world can't get enough of Barack Obama at the moment. It's mixed emotions though. Utter joy tempered with the death and suffering of millions we've had to sacrifice to get here. We still feel cheated over the past eight years of utter incompetence, and previous ten years or so of unbridled, uncriticised, unregulated capitalist supremacy. Not to mention the past three hundred years of slavery, destruction and war. We realise he won't technically make that much difference. He can't. He's not God. But, yet, this is incredible. The most powerful job in the world - an elected job at that - filled by a talented black man. I know there are so many people like me who feel like we know Barack, even though we've never met him and are never likely to. He did a similar job - 'Community Organiser' in Chicago to my 'Development Worker' in Hackney. Similar places. At similar ages. So I feel proud. Proud to be human again. Proud to be liberal, left wing, to have done similar work as Barack Obama in a similar place. I will never be rich. But his journey has made me feel that the power of the people is strong and has risen. Hope's audacity has been proven.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Connie's historic parsnip soup

While I've been working in London for the past year while hubby has been in Yorkshire I've been staying with the wonderful Connie. I have learnt a lot from her, not least the talents of Barack Obama and the addictive American presidential race. I dipped into her copy of 'Dreams from my father' - instantly hooked and devoured whilst I was in Indonesia. It felt great to be reading about one of Indonesia's greatest exports whilst there myself. Anyway, Connie is very nervous. I'm pretty excited. I think it's a landslide for our man. Connie won't believe it until tomorrow morning.

Connie's parsnip soup will be one of things I miss whilst on my career break in Yorkshire. And one of the things I will hopefully associate with the Obama victory. So I can make it up there:

Take one onion, three cloves of garlic, 2 bay leaves, 500g of parsnip, half a sweet potato and some vegetable Oxo - in a saucepan covered with water. Boil and simmer for 35 minutes. Put in a blender with more water until smooth. Heat and eat.

Perfect for a change in November.