Friday, June 29, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
1200 - 1230: Final PMQs
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Courtesy of Sky News
:: Ryan Joe Parry, 14, died on his way home from school in a swollen river in Sheffield.
:: A 68-year-old man died in Sheffield as he tried to cross a road flooded by water. He was with two other men and was swept away as he tried to leave his stranded car.
:: Mike Barnett, 28, died after becoming trapped in a drain in Hessle, Hull, despite a frantic attempt by emergency services to save him.
:: Tony Blair said the floods across northern England had been an "extraordinary and very serious event". (no shit, Tony!)
:: Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes in Ulley Dam, South Yorkshire, with experts warning there is a "significant risk" the dam walls could break.
:: South Yorkshire Police said a total of some 1,400 people spent the night in rest centres, and the aim is to get them back to their homes as soon as possible.
:: Severe damage has been inflicted on the city's transport network.
:: Sheffield Wednesday Football Club has been forced to close Hillsborough stadium as the pitch was submerged under deep water.
:: The swollen River Corve washed away a 40-foot section of a main road leading into Ludlow, in Shropshire.
:: A gas main nearby was severed when a nearby bridge collapsed broken and dozens of people living nearby were evacuated.
:: Ulley Reservoir is southeast of Sheffield and covers an area of 35 acres. Water is gushing down the side of the reservoir causing part of the earth bank to collapse.
:: The nearby M1 is closed in both directions between junctions 32 and 34 because of concerns about the cracks in the dam wall.
:: A power station that serves most of Sheffield lies in the path of the reservoir.
:: A major rescue operation involving three RAF helicopters was launched as the rising waters trapped workers and motorists in Sheffield last night, with added fears of sewage contamination.
:: The huge Meadowhall shopping centre is closed today as the clean-up operation began.
:: Elsewhere in South Yorkshire, homes and businesses were being evacuated in Bentley, Doncaster, after the Don overflowed there.
:: Damage from the floods is expected to cost tens of millions of pounds, with the typical flood-related insurance claim reaching £15,000 to £20,000.
Just look at it!
A great big fucking never ending circle of rain hovering above us like some great swirling malevolent spirit!
Hundreds are trapped! People are being swept away! A man has died trying to clear a drain!
This is fucking serious! A man in Shropshire is refusing to pay his council tax!
Repent ye sinners before it's too late! He was supposed to throw us all into an unquenchable fire, but he's actually trying to drown us! The lying fucking bastard!
Monday, June 25, 2007
"if you're looking for hot, dry, sunny weather, there's not much prospect of it for a while."
I am getting off this damp, miserable fucking island.
... Harriet Harman.
I must confess to being surprised. I thought it would be Alan Johnson. He got my first vote, Harriet Harman got my second one, with John Cruddas having been demoted to third place at the very last minute due to my irritation at him being one of these "Labour needs to change" proponants.
Well, that's it then. Gordon Brown and Harriet Harman.
At work I occasionally reference the National Autistic Society website for information. Recently I had to phone them up and ask for a way that a constituent with Aspergers could buy one of the products they sell in their 'shop' without him using the phone or computer. I was told he could pop into the office, if he liked. Hmmm. Another chance to remind a London based individual that some people in Britain actually live outside of the capital city. Most people, in fact.
Anyway, it was all resolved in the end.
But in yesterday's Guardian I noticed that the NAS were recruiting a "Celebrity Support Officer". Odd you may think. One would generally think that of all the people with Autism that celebrities would be the least deserving group for their very own support officer.
Silly me. What a Celebrity Support Officer is actually wanted for is to "develop celebrity support" for the NAS by maintaining and developing "existing relationships" and by bringing "new celebrities on board".
An important and thoroughly worthwhile role, I think we can all agree. Worth every penny of the £30,000 the charity is willing to pay for this "support officer".
At least I suppose the NAS does not run television campaigns asking for "just" £3 a month so that it can feed a family of five for six months, then as soon as it gets you to agree spends that £3 a month writing to you and phoning you to get you to pay more. Eh, Oxfam?
I found this type of "fundraising" (give me some money. thanks. not enough. give me some more) quite offensive actually. I got so fed-up with it that I stopped my monthly direct-debit donation. Since then I've heard numerous stories of other people being upset by Oxfam in the same way. It is cruel in particular to do this to the charitable pensioner, for whom £3 a month is not the throw-away sum of money it might seem to a massive international charity with its mutli-millions.
Still, not quite as bad practice as the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society from whom I once "adopted" a whale as a Christmas present for Mr Scribbles. Mr Scribbles very rarely heard about what was going on in the life of his adopted whale. He did however get inundated with offers from them for credit cards/holidays/gifts etc.
The WDCS once phoned me up to tell me what they were doing in their efforts to conserve whales and dolphins, which was kind of them. I took the opportunity to mention that we hadn't heard anything of the adopted sea-creature and that we were quite sick of the charity trying to get more money out of us. I was told that they would certainly do something about that, just before they went on to ask me for an increased monthly donation.
If you want to adopt an animal I would thoroughly recommend the Born Free Foundation, whom I've supported for years, and who have never been anything less than professional and informative. And they do damn fine work.
As for the other charities, the children and animal charities that I have supported in the past, their "fundraising letters" now go straight in the recycling - all but for the fact that they put some disturbing picture on the envelope with accompanying begging statement such as "please don't you throw me away too".
I find such manipulative enterprises truly repulsive and once did write to said charities to tell them so. I never did receive replies and the letters to me kept on coming. I then tried posting them back with "return to sender" written on them. This didn't stop them either. So they continue to insist on spending money on sending these letters to someone who has gone out of their way to let them know they will not be giving financial contributions. A grotesque waste of "charity" money, I think. Especially when the envelopes contain items such as pens and calenders.
Which reminds me of the religious children's charity (name escapes me) who used to send me two penny coins in an envelope in the hope that when I sent this money back to them, I would be induced to send them additional cash. Nope. Such utterly morally reprehensive tactics should not be encouraged. They, as I recall, got quite a few nasty letters from me, which seemed to increase for a while the amount of garbage they sent me.
Aside from the Born free Foundation the other charity that always gets my pennies is the Red Cross. A truly inspiring international organisation who have a special place in my heart. I saw them there in New York after the Twin Towers were hit and then I saw them on TV when we went into Afghanistan. Every time there is some international crisis they send me a polite letter asking if I wouldn't mind giving a lump sum so they've got more cash reserves to go in and do their bit. They always get it.
Other than that, I support charities by giving donations of goods to their High Street shops. I'm considering at some stage giving up my time to help one or two local orgs too who do good charitable works, but I have to be honest with myself that this is not something I can commit to at the moment.
I suppose I look mean, complaining about the efforts of charities to get money to do good works. But whilst said charities continue to act like flash corporations employing aggressive money-grabbing tactics, having head quarters in expensive postcodes and paying ridiculous wages for silly job titles, then they'll find me feeling distinctly uncharitable.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
The Guardian says:
"Schoolgirls across Britain are to be offered a vaccine to protect them against cervical cancer from as early as autumn next year, ministers said yesterday.
Public health experts say they believe the move will save the lives of hundreds of women who develop the disease after becoming infected with the sexually-transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes 99% of all cases."
The Daily Mail says:
"GPs are prescribing a controversial anti-cancer vaccine which family campaigners say could promote promiscuity amongst underage girls.
Hugh McKinney of the National Family Campaign warned the vaccine could lead some girls to assume they are protected against all sexually transmitted diseases and encourage them to engage in risky behaviour.
But Dr Trevor Stammers of Family Youth Concern said: "Why should we spend so much money on vaccines against diseases which are totally preventable in other ways?""
It's really quite astonishing, isn't it? Firstly, the total absence of any logic. Generations of young girls have not hitherto been holding onto their virginity out of fear of getting cervical cancer. A new cancer vaccine will have absolutely no effect on how "risky" a girl decides to be about her sexual behaviour.
And as for the "other ways", we all know that what is meant by this is "abstinence". I'm all for encouraging young people to abstain from sex until a genuine level of maturity has been reached. I think we should let school kids know that it is OK not to have sex. But thousands of years of human sexual behaviour tends to suggest that a sizable portion of individuals become sexually active just about as soon as the biological equipment to do so flourishes. This is reality.
I suspect that people like Dr Trevor Stammers understand this. They know that it is never going to happen that one day every person in Britain will lose their virginity on their wedding night. They know it. And yet they think it preferable to stop the vaccination programme and have women die of a preventable cancer rather than run the risk of more women being sexually active outside of marriage.
It seems to me that Dr Stammers is actually asking why we should spend money on preventing deaths of young women when they bring that death upon themselves by enjoying a sex life.
Just what kind of a doctor is this man?
To end, I note that these creepy men who would like to wield control over every vagina in the country have nothing to say about rubella - a jab that is routinely given to school girls primarily because of the possible damage to foetuses if the expectant mother gets infected with the virus. No one is saying that this jab "promotes" sex to young girls.
But then motherhood is what women should be about, is it? And even nice girls who lose their virginity on their wedding night can catch Rubella, can't they? So we should spend money on them and not on saving the lives of the 'wrong' type of girl, shouldn't we? Mr McKinney and Dr Stammers?
Friday, June 22, 2007
Amongst the many things that annoy me about me, is my seeming inability not to swear.
I must do it. People who annoy me are arseholes; bad drivers are tossers; inanimate objects that frustrate me are fucking things. It will not have escaped your notice, I dare say, that my language can be quite colourful on this blog too. The more animated I am about the subject of which I write, the more appalling my language.
It is a problem. Because from where I came from, it was the rough people who swore. Growing up it was the people whose cars were filled with empty cans of Tizer and pakets of Smiths Crisps and who didn't mow their lawns and who wore shell-suits that swore. It was the thick kids at school. The people who lived in blocks of flats. The scruffy, harassed looking parents dragging on fags whilst pushing their sickly off-spring around in buggies bought from Argos.
You see, despite my humble origins, I have always been a snob. And so growing up I did not swear because I was better than that. I strove to appear intelligent, thoughtful, and decent (when not drunk).
But now I move in different circles and swearing is perceived differently. In the educated classes, even the shabby end that I skulk in, swearing is a sign of a liberated mind. From the late 2oth century in art, literature, TV, comedy, newspapers and films bad language is prolific because British society has become more liberal. This is only seen as a bad thing by those not of a liberal disposition.
For instance, The Guardian does not feel the need to use * when printing a naughty word as does, say, The Daily Mail. This is because The Guardian is for educated grown-ups with a liberal disposition. Where as The Daily Mail is for the ignorant, small-minded provincial types. Educated grown-ups with a liberal disposition are comfortable with swearing, ignorant, small-minded provincial types are not.
Something else other than possessing a liberal disposition spurs me on to swear. One of entitlement. In all classes, I do fear that it is seen as the work of the devil if a woman proffers a profanity. Other women in particular do not seem to like other women swearing. That is because swearing is seen as man's thing. Well, fuck that. I will not let a section of the English language be barred to me because of my gender. I am as entitled to say arse or fuck or twat as the next man.
And using a swear word can also be wonderfully expressive. I mean, tell me any saying that matches the beautifully clean, fuck off! And it's such a versatile word too. Fuck off, what the fuck was that, where's my fucking car, fuck me hard, you're so fucking annoying, I fucking love you, you fucked me off, fuck that. In different contexts it can be an amusing, passionate, dissmissive or aggressive word. It can help convey alarm, arousal, anger.
Just about anything you might want a word to do, the word fuck can do it.
And come on, is there a better word for Richard Madeley than twat? A better word for Simon Cowell than tosser? A more apt description of George Galloway than complete and utter fucking wanker?
And so, despite the fact that by swearing I run the risk of coming across as common, I would rather that than anyone mistake me for an ignorant small-minded provincial type. I swear because I am a true child of a secular, liberal country, who belives in freedom of expression and who loves all the colours of the English language. Although I could of course be talking bollocks.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Scribbles would like to apologise for the irregular posting and poor standard of recent posts. She got bored with herself and her thoughts.
Scribbles will return. Her attitude will be terrible. Those of a bourgeois disposition are advised to absent themselves as swearing, gobby females often offend.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
"Weather forecasters are predicting thunderstorms and torrential downpours across many parts of the country as the weekend approaches.
The bad weather - including flash floods - is most likely away from coastal areas, especially in northern England, the Midlands and central Wales."
Six firemen, two fire engines, 3000 miles.
The story of how the Fire Brigades Union are helping their Iraqi comrades.