Tag Archives: Politics

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today…

27 Apr

This is what the Hub, Tory Boy and I were doing today in 1994, one of the best days of our lives: 

Not eating biscuits: queuing.

Not eating biscuits: queuing.

The first day of polling in the first Free & Fair South African election.

We were living in Alberton in the Transvaal at the time.  We got up early to be at the polling station for seven, when it opened.  We didn’t want to be stuck in queues all day long.  The government had declared a national holiday so that everyone could vote, and it seemed like everyone intended to.

We were first in the queue, but only just.  Not that it did us any good: we were still first in the queue come four o’clock in the afternoon.  There were no ballot papers at the polling station.  The election officials popped out periodically to tell us that they were on the way – in a helicopter now – would be here any minute.  None ever showed up, except on auction sites in the last few years.

In spite of this, and in spite of the news of bombs going off at the airport, the mood of the crowd was, well, joyous.  There was a lot of singing and a lot of braaing (barbecuing): those who came later and knew about the long wait brought their skottels (a portable gas barbecue) and fold-up deck chairs.  The Hub went home to make us some sandwiches and drinks, but I wish we had braaied instead.

Whole families turned out to vote.  We had four-year old Tory Boy with us.  I have another photo of him, sitting glumly on the kerb, unaware that he was participating in a truly momentous event in South African history.  He’s grateful now, of course.

We chatted to everyone around us.  There was a tearful old man who had never believed that he would ever get the chance to cast his vote.  There were Afrikaaners, resigned to the inevitable and taking it gracefully; and many who welcomed it.  I suppose those with strong opposition to the change were at home, planning protests.  People of every race, tribe, ethnicity, colour and political persuasion stood in that queue and waited with great patience for the ballot papers that never arrived.

There were no murmurings or angry voices, but there were a lot of rumours about what was happening in the rest of the country.  We were in a capsule, a moment in time when we were all in this together, all looking toward a happy and prosperous future; each believing that things would be better, fairer, and right.  We were in the mood to party, not fight.

No ballots came.

Because of our tired little boy, we wondered if we should go home and come back next day – the election was intended to be held over two days, but lasted three because of the issue of having nothing on which to cast your vote – but then we heard there was a magical polling station a few miles on which did have ballot papers, and even enough to go round.  We thought it was worth trying because we really did want to cast our vote on a day that would go down in history.  We wanted Tory Boy to be able to say that he was there. 

I don’t remember where either polling station was, except that the first was in a suburb and the other in a huge, unkempt field.  At the second, we joined a slightly smaller queue that we could see was moving, though it didn’t have the atmosphere of the first.    It took three hours but we got inside at last. 

The most bizarre moment of the day for me was when I went into the booth and there was a scruffy little stub of a pencil.  It didn’t seem fitting to cast a vote that would help change the political landscape of a nation, with a tatty bit of lead.  To this day, I’m not certain that I wasn’t expecting quills or expensive fountain pens. 

In the PWV area (Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Vereeniging) we had a choice of thirteen parties.  As brave as the National Party had been, I couldn’t vote for the architects of Apartheid.  I couldn’t vote for the ANC bunch of terrorists either, no matter how just their cause.  I didn’t think the KISS lot (Keep It Straight and Simple) was taking the whole thing seriously enough; and the Women’s Rights Peace Party was missing the point.  I voted for the Democratic Party.  Helen Suzman was a lone white protest voice in the wilderness of the Apartheid government for many years, so I voted for her party, which I felt had moral conviction.  As the vote was by proportional representation, I helped them to their seven seats.

I discovered a wonderful quote from Helen Suzman, via Wikipedia:

She was once accused by a minister of asking questions in parliament that embarrassed South Africa, to which she replied: “It is not my questions that embarrass South Africa; it is your answers.”

Our tiny piece of history made, we took our exhausted child home, probably collecting a takeaway on the way.  Once he had eaten I put him straight to bed.  We followed soon after.  History is important but it’s the mundane that keeps us going.

Relatives living further out told us they hadn’t bothered to vote on the first day when they saw the queues; they left it to the next day and walked straight in and out.  It seemed most people wanted to vote on the first polling day.  I guess we were not the only people conscious of history on that glorious day.

Joke 925

4 Oct

This joke is from Viv’s Jock and was originally British in nature; but I thought, given the current situation, my American readers might appreciate it more.

English: President Barack Obama speaks to a jo...

English: President Barack Obama speaks to a joint session of Congress regarding health care reform (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


If you took all the politicians and bureaucrats and laid them end to end down Pennsylvania Avenue…

…it might be a damned good idea.


It reminds me of that old quote attributed variously to Bette Davis and Dorothy Parker:

If all the girls at that party were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.


Joke 904

13 Sep
1st politician

1st politician (Photo credit: molito66)

A bus filled with politicians was driving down a country road, when the bus ran off the road and crashed into a tree in an old farmer’s field. The old farmer went over to investigate.

A few days later, the local sheriff came out looking for the missing politicos, saw the crashed bus, and asked the farmer where all the politicians had gone.

The farmer said, “I buried ‘em all…out back.”

The sheriff asked, “Were they ALL dead?”

The old farmer replied, “Well, some of them said they weren’t, but you know how them politicians lie.”


From ebaumsworld.com

Today, I Am Ashamed To Be British

10 Apr


From The Mail & Guardian, South Africa

By now, everyone knows that Margaret Thatcher died on Monday.  It has been headline news everywhere.

The BBC managed a Freudian typo – accidentally, I hope:  

Margaret Thatcher dies after a strike.

I wonder if the British reaction has been headline news around the world?  I hope not.

In Britain, many mourn; many…rejoice.  Champagne was sprayed; happy chants thought up; in Glasgow, people who are too young to remember her time in office threw a street party to celebrate.  It was not the only ‘death party’.   Signs appeared saying, Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead!  Facebookers – people I know – spewed vitriol.  

While I don’t deny that her policies caused hurt to many, I have been appalled and saddened at the awfulness of the public reaction in some quarters.  The weltschmerz I feel is compounded with shame.  Margaret Thatcher wasn’t a mass-murderer, a torturer, a genocidal maniac who kept heads in the refrigerator.  She was a strong woman, convinced she was right, and unafraid to act on her beliefs.  She was our first and, so far, only, female Prime Minister; for three terms.  No small achievement.  She was respected and sometimes feared on the world stage.

But all of that happened more than twenty years ago.  When she died, she was just a frail old lady.

former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatche...

former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in October 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is wrong with a country in which people can show such scant respect for the dead?  In which it is okay to dance on the grave of a pensioner?

All politics aside, today, I am ashamed to be British.


Joke 651

3 Jan
Politics Balloons

Politics Balloons (Photo credit: Newfrontiers)

  • Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.  HL Mencken [Journalist and satirist]
  • In democracy everyone has the right to be represented, even the jerks.  Chris Patten [Former UK MP and Governor of Hong-Kong]
  • Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the National Debt.   Herbert Hoover [President USA 1929-1933]
  • You’ll notice that Nancy Reagan never drinks water when Ronnie speaks.  Robin Williams [Comedian and actor]
  • A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls.  George W Bush [President USA]
  • Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.  Marion Barry [Mayor of Washington DC]
  • I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.   Will Rogers [Comedian, social commentator, vaudeville actor]
  • The House of Commons is the longest running farce in the West End.  Cyril Smith [Former UK MP]

From Will & Guy.

Joke 565

9 Oct


Thanks to Schmidley’s Scribbling for letting me lift this from her blog.


Political Aphorisms from Cousin Ellen

  • The problem with political jokes is they get elected. ~Henry Cate, VII
  • We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office ~Aesop
  • If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us in these State of the Union speeches, there wouldn’t be any inducement to go to heaven. ~Will Rogers
  • Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river. ~Nikita Khrushchev
  • When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I’m beginning to believe it. ~Clarence Darrow
  • Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you. ~Author unknown
  • Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel. ~John Quinton
  • Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other. ~Oscar Ameringer
  • I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them. ~Adlai Stevenson, campaign speech, 1952
  • A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country. ~Tex Guinan
  • I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians. ~Charles de Gaulle
  • Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks. ~Doug Larson
  • There ought to be one day — just one — when there is open season on senators. ~Will Rogers


Be Suggestive

14 Sep

My oldest, Tory Boy, is, in law, if not in the eyes of his mother, a man.  He therefore needs a new name on this blog, because he’s no longer a boy, though he is still a Tory. 

I’m looking for suggestions.

To help you along, here’s a few facts:

  • he has his future planned: degree/military/real world/politics
  • he’s a boy man

That’s it, really.  He never tells me anything so you know as much about him as I do.

Any ideas?

What Really Happened To Gaddafi

1 Sep

I can’t show you the cartoon I’m talking about because Stephen Francis & Rico have finally cottoned on to me and won’t allow their strips to be lifted any more (this one came from another blog); but if you click on this link today and this link for the next seven days, you will discover what really happened to Gaddafi.  Any later and you won’t see it again for the next five years (much like the Colonel himself).

Make the effort; it’s worth it.

I Predict A Quiet

17 Jun
Sketch map of Runcorn, Cheshire, showing railways.

Image via Wikipedia

What would cause you to protest or riot for something?

Apart from the false imprisonment of my children – and possibly my husband, if I was in a good mood – nothing.  I’m British: I don’t do apologetic complaint, never mind protest.  I write a strongly worded letter and feel much better for it.

I bumped into a riot once, by accident.  I can’t say I liked it.  As a teenager, I went to Manchester to audition for the Manchester Youth Theatre with a friend.  It was the time of the nationwide riots against something or other.  I can’t remember what, but I bet it had hatred for Mrs Thatcher at the heart of it.  We had a summer of exploding protests, when staid young men and women became screaming thugs for the afternoon.  We are seeing something similar at the moment in Bristol, because of Tesco.  It’s not quite the breaking of the unions or the poll tax, but a supermarket too close to your back yard is certainly a reason to lose all common sense, I’m sure.

We had been to the auditions and decided to visit the Arndale Centre for some retail therapy (or ‘shopping’, as it was called in Days of Yore when I wurra lass).  As we walked up somewhere, a screaming, running gang of young gentlemen ran down, straight at us.  I grabbed my friend’s hand and dragged him onto the nearest bus, going anywhere.  When we got to anywhere, we had to walk back again, to catch the train home.  No shopping.  What a wasted opportunity.

Trains and a long walk featured once again in my teens.  I went with different friends to Liverpool.  Plenty of shopping and no riots – Scouse youth being better behaved than Mancunian youth.  So much shopping was done, we were late for the train, asked which was ours, and jumped on it just as the doors closed.

I think I was in charge of the travel on that day as well, which explains why we ended up in Widnes instead of Runcorn.  We explained to the man in charge that we had been directed to the wrong train and he said well, in that case, he wouldn’t fine us, but we had to get off there and we couldn’t get on another train without buying a ticket.  Did I mention we had been shopping all afternoon?  We didn’t have the fare for one of us, never mind three.

Did I mention this was in Days of Yore when I wurra lass?  No mobile phones to call parents who didn’t own cars to not fetch us.

Fortunately – fortune being a relative term – Widnes is right next door to Runcorn.  All we had to do was walk home.  Loaded with shopping bags.  In heels.  A mere three hours or so.  I was ready to start a riot.

When Defeat Is Victory

7 May
Dunkirk Beach

Image via Wikipedia

I can think of two examples: Dunkirk, and Tory Boy’s first time on a ballot paper.

The two are not comparable, of course: I have nothing but admiration for the men at Dunkirk and those who spent days ferrying them to safety.  I once met a Dunkirk survivor.  He lived next door to my Nan, and took my teenage self in for a cup of tea because she was out when I arrived.  I spotted his certificate and he told me all about it.  I very much regret not keeping a notebook back then, because all I remember is the dim light in the flat and the certificate in the frame.

I admire my son, too.  He was asked to stand as a candidate where he lives, in Thursday’s council elections, knowing that he would not win.  He did stand; he didn’t win; he didn’t mind: it was his duty. 

He did rather better than might have been expected, though; of the three Conservative candidates, he polled the most votes:




Liberal Democrat 202 Not Elected
Labour 1131 Elected
Conservative 467 Not Elected
Conservative 407 Not Elected
Green 731 Not Elected
Labour 931 Elected
Liberal Democrat 130 Not Elected
Liberal Democrat 98 Not Elected
Labour 1085 Elected
Green 522 Not Elected
Green 419 Not Elected
Conservative 303 Not Elected

He laughed when I congratulated him.  It was an alphabet accident: of the three, his name came first on the ballot paper. 

Makes you despair of the electorate, doesn’t it?

Anyway, well done, Tory Boy: I’m so proud that you were willing to fall on your sword for the party.

I Can’t Laugh At This One

2 May

What will change, for you, for the U.S., for the world, now that Osama is gone?

I think today there is a little less evil in the world; but evil will be done in his name.

People have a right to rejoice; but the world, if it’s possible, is now an even scarier place.


19 Apr

What would you do differently if you were president or Prime Minister of your country for a day?

Disabuse everyone of the naïve notion that serious problems can be fixed in a day.

Dumb’s The Word

10 Mar
The Word Logo

Image via Wikipedia

What are your favorite slang words?

I don’t have a favourite that I’m aware of, though I may use some inadvertently; but I have one I abhor.  My hatred of it is such that I actually wince when I hear it, and I want to clap my hands over my ears, squeeze my eyes tight shut and sing ‘lalalalalalalalalalalala’ until the whole sordid experience is over.  But, as you know, I’m not at all given to exaggeration in any form whatsoever at all no siree, so I don’t.

What is this awful word?  And there we have a problem: I hate it so much, I can’t tell you.  Instead, I’m going to send you some clues and you can figure it out for yourself.


Go here first: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0291928/


The last illustration represents the biggest half of the word and also the whole word.

It is possible that my non-Brit readers may not have heard of the word, so you can check it out here, if you like.

This word is the reason I lost interest in politics, doing the job that the sleaze and scandals and pocket-lining and sheer incompetence could not: when I heard it used in Parliament, I knew then there was no low a British MP would not sink to.


No Comment

18 Feb

Image via Wikipedia

Reading the comments yesterday, I was reminded of myself.

In my second year of study, new text books arrived from the Open University. The courier was broad Scouse and obviously an Everton fan because he gestured to our car (the Hub has Manchester City pennants in the rear window) and said, ‘A Light Blue, I see.’  Puzzled, I replied, ‘No, it’s dark green.’

Our relationship went downhill from there.  It was obvious he believed a university education was wasted on me.  I should be a professional witness instead.

Then there’s my paranoia that the Government spies on me (the Labour Government, obviously; the Tories are on my side and governments never spy on their own side).  We have an outside bin cupboard where we stored our rubbish and paper for recycling.  I kept a lock on it so that no-one could access it, find an old receipt and know that I spent half my income on Maltesers (and new trousers) (half my income on Maltesers refers).

It was a combination lock and I was always careful not to think the combination as I unlocked it, in case the government read my mind and discovered it.  There were several years of chanting ‘Hickory Dickory Dock’ to mask my thoughts every time I took out a bag of egg shells before it occurred to me that if the Government had the technology to read my mind, then they could probably sort out a cheap combination lock with their collective eyes closed.

I bet you’re thinking round about now that instead of a professional witness I should be a professional idiot.  I never fancied a career in politics, however: I think they spy on people.


Where’d everyone go?

Manners Maketh The Blog

4 Feb
Best Manners This was one of the Barney videos...

Image via Wikipedia

If it’s all right with my Blog Director and his cronies out in the readerverse, I’m going to tell you where the prompt for this post came from: Viewfromtheside’s BlogIt’s the polite thing to do, even though you don’t like it because it interferes with my ‘great literary style’ or something (see below for the quote’s source).  I am going to post a link there to my blog for others to read this post, so I have to return the favour; something about it being ‘good manners’.

Which, if you haven’t worked it out yet, doofusii, is the prompt.  See how I turned a fun but abusive word into Latin?  That way I get to revile you and make you laugh at the same time.  Read and learn, people.

By the way, if you haven’t already worked it out, it’s only polite to tell you that I have my frivolous head on this morning.

Naturally, the thought of writing about manners has made me all rude, hence the insults flying across the ether.  What is it about the mention of social restraints that makes us lose them?  

I don’t know and I don’t really care.  Oh no, there I go again (just put that last bit in for etiquette’s sake; you can tell by the lack of inflection).

I have rather good manners: I eat with my mouth closed, send thank you notes for wonderful quilt gifts, and only break wind in front of my closest relatives.  I have passed on those traits to my children; but did they thank me for it?  Nooooo.  I blame the parents.

Talking of quilts, that reminds me of Tory Boy (not as tenuous a link as you might think…a blanket and a wet blanket*).  On the phone yesterday he told me he thought the quilt was ‘immense’.  ‘No,’ I replied, ‘it’s a bit smaller than a duvet.’  Once he had stopped laughing, he explained that ‘immense’ was the new word for ‘wicked’.  ‘There’s nothing wicked about Viv,’ was my indignant reply.  ‘No, no.  The quilt is vicious…mean…bad…evil….’  He gave up.

I think the best way to show you good manners is to share some examples and then invite comments on them.  This has the bonus of allowing me to gather together random things I found interesting, under a loose theme; and upping my comment stats while looking nice doing it.  See how good manners make everyone a winner?  

Crossing The Floor:

This is one of my pet peeves.  Three members of our Lib-Dem council, irritated by the coalition government’s cuts – cue mutters of ‘snotwhatwesignedupfor – have resigned their party membership, signed up to Labour, and are now serving as independents.  Talk about eating your cake and having it too – and everyone else’s.  I think it is dreadfully rude to be elected as a member of one party and then join another.  Most voters elect a party, not a candidate.  As far as I’m concerned, the law should be changed so that, if you resign from the party, an election must be called and the voters will let you know what they think of you trashing their ballot.

What do you think?  Status quo or status quosh?

Saving A Life:

The height of good manners, I feel.  Seven strangers linked arms across a flooded bridge in South Africa to save the life of a woman and her child.  The woman had rudely ignored a warning from one of the men that the bridge was too dangerous to drive across and endangered his life, because he couldn’t swim yet helped save her.  What a hero.  What a stupid woman.

What do you think?  Was Driving Miss Crazy right to selfishly endanger the life of her child and seven others?

Grounds For Divorce:

An Italian man took his mother along on his honeymoonThe bride found out at the airport.  I loved my own mum-in-law but I’m with the bride on this one. 

What do you think?  Was she right to be miffed or was it a little bit rude to let her m-i-l know in such a dramatic fashion – I’m abandoning your son because of you - that she didn’t like her?  As for the son – didn’t his mother ever tell him that it’s nice to asked?

Lovely Daughters:

This one I love.  Musing’s daughter is snowed in, in Chicago.  She sent before pictures.  Dad mentioned it would have been nice to see pictures of the after three hours of snow shovelling.  Tired child obliged.  You don’t get better-mannered than that.  Kay, you have a lovely daughter.

What do you think?  All opinions published so long as they coincide with mine.

Did I write that out loud?  Please forgive my discourtesy.  But don’t think I don’t mean it: I may be polite but there’s a streak of iron under this velvet blog.



Tilly Bud has great literary style.  Source: me.

*Sorry darling; sometimes I can’t help myself.  Think of the gammon roast and find it in your heart to forgive me.

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