Tag Archives: UK

Hanging Around – No Change There, Then

7 May

Paddy Ashdown this morning:  The British people have spoken; all we have to do now is work out what they said.

Cartoon: A HUNG PARLIAMENT (medium) by Tim Leatherbarrow tagged politics,hungparliament,general,election


Anyone who thinks that politics is boring should take a look at what’s happening here in the UK today.  No party has an overall majority; the Lib Dem bounce left them flat on their faces; some people – in Britain, of all places! – didn’t get to cast their vote; and no-one knows who is or should or will be in charge.   

If you think your vote doesn’t count speak to Glenda Jackson, who retained her majority by only 42.  What if she had been in a constituency that turned away voters after ten o’clock?

My fellow in the Stockport ward came second, but he did reduce the Labour incumbent’s majority. 

Despite my Tory convictions, I am disappointed in the Lib Dem showing.  When I saw the Exit poll last night predicting only 59 seats, I was convinced it must be wrong – as did almost every political operator in the land; but it has been proven right.   So much for a three-horse race, the power of the debates and a strong showing in the polls.  On the other hand, I am relieved: I don’t want a government that wants to introduce pass law-lite or leave me without a bomb to hide behind.  I guess when it came down to it, most Brits agree with me on that, at least.

Spud was gutted not to be able to stay off school and watch the results come in this morning.  Tory Boy has been helping to fight a new seat but that result won’t be in until this afternoon.  I think I can safely take a bath without missing anything newsworthy.  I certainly need one: the thought of the horsetrading to come over the next few days leaves me feeling rather grubby.  But that’s democracy for you.



Don’t Forget To Vote

6 May


And if you don’t vote, don’t cry if you don’t like your new government.  Decisions are made by those who show up.

My Perfect Old Bag

31 Dec

I have long been in search of the perfect handbag.  It must be black; have a short and long handle, so that I can carry it down, under my arm, over my shoulder or over my chest; it must not be so big that I carry a load of junk around with me that I will never use, or so small that I can only fit in keys and a lip salve; it must have a small pocket on the outside to hold tissues, phone and lip salve; and it must be made of leather.  Blame Carole Duffy: she gave me the perfect handbag way back in 1982 and I reluctantly threw it away in 1996 when both straps cried, We can’t hold on any longerrrrrrr, and lost their grip, tipping the detritus of fourteen years onto the floor, and returning, in their last, brave act, my mother’s Boots’ nail file that I stole from her in 1985 and which I thought I had lost in 1993 – it was inside the torn lining.  The Hub had repaired the straps of my bag so many times that he would have had to sew the bag to my shoulder to keep it in service.

The bag that Carole gave me was not new, not black and did not have two sets of straps, but it was perfect.  It was made of brown leather and it had a sort of patchwork effect but not like the soft leather, differently-coloured patchwork bags that you buy as a gift for your favourite great-auntie.  It was all one colour and a sort of muddy colour at that, but it was perfect for me.  I was eighteen and still at school and Carole was nineteen and working and could afford to give away a handbag she no longer used. I had never owned a leather handbag before, just girlie plastic ones, and I was thrilled.  The pocket held my lip gloss (I still had young skin then) and my emery board, and the bag was large enough for all the crap that eighteen year old girls never go anywhere without, including Cosmopolitan and whatever book I happened to be reading at the time (no kids, see).  I loved it.  I took it out to South Africa with me; worked, married, bore two children; came back to the UK; and I would rather have parted with the boys’ father at that point, I think, than my beloved bag.  Before you start to think I am being unfair to the poor Hub, at that stage of our lives, having a marriage just like everyone else, we were the living embodiment of the old footballing joke:

Me: You love that <insert anything you like from computer to one smelly shoe to Manchester City> more than me.

The Hub: I love United more than I love you.

Fortunately, the old bag that I discarded was not the Hub and, in fact, it’s possible his desperate attempts to save it, stitching it with every type of cotton, yarn and thread he could get hold of in a vain attempt to sew holes to holes, reminded me of why I loved him in the first place.  I won’t go into all that now because we’ve had enough slop for one month and we still have to get through New Year’s Eve tomorrow, but suffice it to say that I’m glad I kept him, and he kept me.

This kind of answers the question of why my dream perfect bag is not at all like my last perfect bag: you can’t improve on perfection, but you can perfect your improvements.  Now I’ve made the Hub just how I like him (and it only took me twenty-seven years), I’m not about to replace him. 

Though I could be tempted if Brad Pitt would only shave off that ridiculous beard.

Christmas Is All About Friensshship

17 Dec

I have a wonderful English friend living in France.  She is kind and beautiful and sophisticated.  She used to ski her children to school in winter; I took extra shoes for mine because of the wild dog poo.  Last Christmas she walked with her family on Christmas Day, taking hot merguez, hot wine, and hot tomato soup.  I had to Google merguez though, in my defence, I had heard of tomato soup.  I didn’t know anyone drank hot wine unless they came from the middle  ages.  This year her Christmas will include foie gras, and she’s not even buying a hamper.  After Christmas she will be spending a week on a boat, 13km from Russia, watching the northern lights.  My Franglais Friend is the kind of woman who drinks wine with lunch without being a lush.  She is the epitome of European elegance.  I am the epitome stomach. 

I mention her because she has just sent me two bottles of my favourite South African pink fizz, JC Le Roux’s La Chanson.  I am not really a drinker – it can take me months to finish a bottle of wine, by which time I’m adding orange juice to it to disguise its flatness and probable offness – but a bottle of La Chanson is usually gone in a couple of days.  One bottle is already in the fridge for Christmas Eve: I always have a tipple as soon as we get back from visiting Dad at the cemetery, as a symbolic gesture of putting sadness behind me and gaiety on the menu.  The other bottle is on standby for New Year – if it lasts that long: I might be very sad this year and be forced to drown my sorrows.

My Christmas is not at all sophisticated.  My house is a temple of Christmas kitsch, but I really don’t care.  I don’t have loads of decorations all over but I do have the children’s home-made decs strung from tinsel on my banister and on my tree.  I have Christmas covers on my cushions and Christmas decals on my windows.  The boys’ huge stockings are already hung up for Santa.  I am an ornament-hater at heart (all that dusting) but my inner housewife bursts out come December 11th and I go quite mad, sprinkling plastic Father Christmas boots (I have three; I think my Santa is related to Jake the Peg) and stuffed reindeer hats all over the show.  Thankfully for my sanity, everything MUST come down on January 2nd because Christmas is over and New Year is over and the clutter is already driving me nuts by December 28th; but I always enjoy my temporary madness, especially when I have my favourite wine to keep me company.

So, dear Franglais Friend: thank you from the bottom of my soon-to-be-tipsy heart.  Hic.

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