No More Baby House

I must admit, all the hype and hyperbole this last week has left me jaded. Much more so by the constant barrage of bandwagon calls for TM the PM to resign. When I was young, we used to play a particularly ruthless game of ‘All Get Gang onto ___, naming the unfortunate one who had been selected that week to be ostracised in our junior school. We grew out of that, and saw it as superficial nonsense, or so I had thought.

We heard that Mrs May tethered herself to only three advisors within her chosen cabinet to make good on the election. She became a parody of the ‘strong and stable’ slogan. She was sold out! Now her so-called junior friends are gone, and good riddance! If we are to understand politics, we must first understand our roots in the playground.  ‘All get gang onto May’ prevailed here, too. Everyone in Government slithered into cars to avoid the backlash to a failed attempt to gain an outright majority. The majority which was supposed to silence the critics once and for all. The critics balked in light of the result. Head down, smile gone, the Prime Minister remains for now.

Isn’t it better to let the majority May keep her knickers on, and favour the Brexit plan we all had forced upon us when Cameron last misjudged the public? My take on the political baby-house is rather slapstick, but I would imagine everyone has been whipped up by a vicious press who only want their pound of flesh. The election is over, the shit hit the fan, now let us, using another May slogan “get on with it”!  After all, that is what we Brits do for a living – the other people might wish to ‘mer-mer-mer-mer-mer’ for a while, too, but to what avail? I hate bullies, and I hate weasels like George Osborne, who is no longer a member of Parliament, but who suddenly peed all over the ‘slur May’ bandwagon all too quickly. He’s so sharp, he wants to be careful of cutting himself. A smugness like that bears a hard thousand-foot drop, I fear!  It does no-one any good, is damaging to the Country, and puts our PM in a damnable situation going into the Brexit talks. We have all learned a lesson, all of us. But it is the whole of the British people, as indeed the whole world, who will take the consequences of a minority of tongue-pullers who only think they were clever. The way forward is to stop bickering, and start building bridges. We are going to need them to cross the divide into no-man’s land.

We have a history, sadly, of knifing in the back, and having to pick up the pieces of a broken system. Some of you will remember these people:

  • Sir Anthony Eden, Conservative, 1955 – 1957
  • Sir Anthony EdenWhen Sir Winston Churchill retired due to ill health, Eden took over as prime minister. Many years before, Churchill had anointed Eden as his successor, but later acknowledged he had made ‘a great mistake’. His opinion was born out as the new PM blundered into the Suez Crisis. Following Egypt’s decision to nationalise the Suez canal, Britain (the principal shareholder), France and Israel invaded in October 1956 to near-universal condemnation and the threat of nuclear strikes by the Soviet Union. Within a week, Britain was forced into an embarrassing climb-down. Humiliated and in ill-health, Eden left the country for a holiday at the Jamaican home of James Bond author, Ian Fleming. He returned in mid-December to the sarcastic newspaper headline: ‘Prime Minister Visits Britain’. He resigned on 9 January 1957.
  • Ramsay MacDonald, Labour, 1924
  • Ramsay MacDonaldIn 1924, MacDonald briefly became the first Labour prime minister, ending two centuries of Conservative – Liberal domination of British politics. It was the first party to gain power with the express purpose of representing the voice of the ‘working class’. An MP since 1906, MacDonald was respected as a thinker, but criticised by many within his own party as insufficiently radical (despite appointing the first female cabinet minister, Margaret Bondfield, in 1929). His opposition to World War One had made him deeply unpopular and he continually suffered a torrid time at the hands of the press. The publication by two newspapers of the ‘Zinoviev letter’ did much to damage his chances in the run up to the 1924 election. The letter (which he had seen but decided to keep secret) purported to be from Soviet intelligence and urged British communists to commit acts of sedition. He lost by a wide margin. The letter is now widely accepted to be a fraud.
  • Stanley Baldwin, Conservative, 1923
  • Stanley BaldwinDuring his very brief first term as prime minister, Stanley Baldwin bumped into an old school friend on a train. Asked what he was doing these days, Baldwin replied: ‘I am the prime minister.’ Having come to power following Andrew Bonar Law’s resignation, he called an election in the hope of gaining his own mandate (election by popular vote), but lost.

That last one rings an old school bell, does it not? My father was a staunch Labour man, believing, and relying on, its historical values to uphold the rights of the working man. He railed against overt showmanship and what he called ‘bolshy’ politics. He would shout at the black and white screen in the corner of his living room until he went purple if the press so much as tried to bully his favoured candidate. My mother would pass him a cup of tea. The show as they say, must go on!  But let us leave the playground behind, shall we? Bourbon Cream anyone?

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Seasons of Writing Fun

According to tradition, there’s something always to enjoy through the seasons. We have New Year, Valentine’s Day, Easter, with a Mother’s Day thrown in haphazardly in-between. Then there’s May Day, that brings out clog dancers, May Queens and processions that may, or may not, involve maypoles!  Followed closely by Summer Solstice, or the August Bank Holiday, where everyone must get in the car for a great British jaunt. If you don’t have a car, you find a coach trip that can afford to take you to any place of their choice, and back again, to say you’ve been out in the typical Bank Holiday wet weather. Fall into Halloween, Bonfire Night, Winter Solstace, to say nothing of the Christian festivals. Last, but not least, is the longest festival of them all, Christmas!

   It’s a series of never-ending high days one has to celebrate with gusto, or risk being outcast as a miserly Scrooge.

     Are we all meant to have happy families, countless friends, the odd wayfarer down on his luck, invited to great banqueting tables full of feast-spill, with plenty of barrels of amber nectar on tap?

It’s the lonely and alone characters of this world I feel sorry for. They are bludgeoned to death by a constant barrage of abuse at every ‘holiday’ by the media frenzy, and popular opinion, alike.  The burden of being in the minority in our society is quite uncaring, I feel! We fail to recognise, in the rush to acquire the ‘be all and end all’, that some of us are not following because we do not wish to. This is because of an assumption that everyone must do the same, or be damned!  I’m not one of the collectors of ‘necessary decorations and foodstuffs to outdo the neighbours’ kind of person. I don’t possess the mindset of a three year old who can’t choose for themselves.  I’m one of the non-indulgent ‘quietly going about my business’ sort. And I hate being forced to confront my own choice because of how others perceive it as sad loneliness! I’m perfectly happy to co-exist within that frenzied corridor where all others have seemed to lose their heads. Those who wish not to celebrate, and allow a day of rest be a day of rest, are about as popular as a fart in a lift full of people!

No-one seems satisfied with the seasonal parties, anymore. Now there is world smile day, grandparent’s day, or red eye colour day, perhaps. Everything seems geared towards making tradespeople all the richer from the glut of commercial goods covered in mounds of plastic wrapping. We seldom seem to find the real meaning of social inclusion unless it’s been on a Government manifesto during election campaigns. I really do hope it’s on the agenda on June 8th this time around, too! But I won’t hold my breath to be included in that kind of party, either. Yes, we should celebrate life. But need we be swept along within a tsunami of gift-givers, frenzied shoppers, and hedonistic party bantams?  Christmas is the time of year that I love, but it needn’t be suffused with petulant do-gooders harping on about minorities who don’t ‘join in’. For all those who wish to show a dignified solution, let there be an opt-out button – as indeed, me thinks Brexit showed its popularity with the rest of the Euro-millions.

 I ask, why can’t we give the planet a break from our human overspill? I am no stick-in-the-mud. I love celebrating when there’s a darn good reason. But I think we need to give our lovely Earth some headway in trying to deal with human detritus, before the Earth purges itself.  We could all try to quit polluting our environment, before the planet’s oblivion! Hey, how about that for a new concept? Act before the fact?

     I understand the cogs of industry must tick if we are to survive in our Brexit anxious maelstrom. But we don’t have to shop ’til we drop, or party like it’s nineteen-ninety-nine.

     As individuals we have a right, and a responsibility to protect our whole Universe.  Instead of going off half-cocked in the world of wealth apparently inhabited by the Jonathan Ross’s of society, if his insinuations on the recent ITV show ‘Don’t ask me, ask Britain’ is to be believed, let us all think like rational human beings.  I have a budget, anyway!

I’ve decided to think of alternatives where I can make a difference to my planet. So for every seasonal holiday there is, I will try to think of an alternative way to enjoy my world, and try to give back what I can to a planet that has sustained billions of creatures, plant-life, marine life, Uncle Tom Cobbly and All, to try to sustain and not corrupt it in any way. I may fall down on my wish to dish the food of life to my lovely and meaningful world, but I am still going to try. That is all one can do. All that ‘one person can make a difference’ is right, when you take it down to absolute basics. I just think it is time that everyone stopped thinking about parties, and enforced social gatherings. We can do this, and stop taking the world for granted. It’s a good thing to stop buying out the town’s store of goodies every commercial celebratory hour. I’m going to try to introduce into my life ingenious ways of treating my world, of giving back that which I have taken.

And this is not a new concept! Many people before me have actually done much already. That is why I am able to write about those who wish to take a step back from ‘the norm’ and wish to enjoy the seasons in an alternative manner that will help our ailing Earth. As I see it, it’s do something now as an individual, or be as destructive as you wish. The latter option will only get you a one-way ticket to oblivion. The heavy price of take, and no give, should have been ingrained in our learning in the year one and two playgrounds. When you do not share your kindness, you end up a lonely individual. So where did we go wrong? Why are we bent of not sharing our things so the planet can sing?

I’m going to leave you with this: The meaning of life cannot be found in disconnected, affected or commercially infected robots. We must be human; and our planet does need our wealth of knowledge, rather than our detritus! I’ve already spent some of my Easter Holiday writing this, instead of buying an Easter Egg. What shall I buy with the money I’ve saved?  I’ll gladly take your suggestions on board if you care to respond.

Happy Holidays, Planet!







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Literature At Its Best – York

    Today I want to tell you that I am anticipating meeting with the largest gathering in the North of England. The literary cream from all over the world!

    I am talking about the York Literature Festival. This year, I have chosen to join them in celebrating fifteen days of sheer literary bliss, with over 60 events packed into the itinerary!

    Pre-emptive gitters give way to sheer pleasure as I feast on the marvellous array of big names appearing this year, including Sue Perkins, Mark Gatiss, Michael Palin, Gervase Phinn, Dan Cruikshank, Ann Widdecombe, Christina Lamb, and so many, many more. I am in great company, so I had best get my best bib and tucker out of the mothballs, and into the limelight! I intend to take a back seat in this year’s festival: Keeping a sharp eye out for those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to mingle with the greatest, keenest minds in literary circles, and learn, learn, learn.

There’s so much sheer, raw talent available in one of the finest City’s in the World, that I would be stupid to miss out. I am so proud to feel so Yorkshire!

As you know, I have travelled the world. Being in places like war-torn Africa has centred me into the well-rounded figure I am today – and I am not talking about well-proportioned, though that, too, can be a product of my past culinary exploration! What I really mean is, I have been a child amongst the bombs; and I am not afraid to tell you I crapped out at one stage! I squeezed myself into the bottom kitchen cupboard inside my home, trying to dodge the myriad mortars and bullets being fired during a terrifying raid on our village. I was an absolutely petrified fourteen year old! On more than one occasion my personal safety was threatened, and I thought I was going to die! I got out of that Country, many did not.

So to find myself able to be at the York Literary Festival years later, is a miracle in itself. To actually meet the author of ‘The Africa House’ – among the plethora of gutsy stories – will be an honour. No doubt I will be too modest and unassuming to introduce myself, but even if I did, I gather the meeting for her will not have the same import. But the fact that another lady has experienced her share of that kind of conflict, and has written about it, spurs me into believing that she might just ‘know’ by the way I keep my distance that I ‘understand’! I have lived it, too!
I am in the process of writing my memoirs from those times I spent in subjugation and terror. I will benefit from anything the world can throw at me. I am the unreported world that happened, and I think it is time to gather my fellows around me, and write the story that Governments wished I would not!

I will be pleased to meet anyone who is visiting; shaking hands with ones who will colour my life, and make it understood. I am going there without agenda, just to learn and be myself. Join me in enjoying the best that Brit-Lit has to bring. Rich, warm and certain to contain some unforgettable experiences. See you there!

Copyright March, 2017 Linda Bates

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