Friday, 22 September 2017

Creativity beckons

Far be it for me to predict what will come of today's speech that the Maybot will make in Florence.

I do, however, like to play about with options on outcomes, a form of Mystic Meg soothsayer, if you like.

Why? Well, why not?
With the Tories having f*cked up pretty much anything they could think of in this country - much of it without even trying too hard - you might as well laugh and poke fun while the sun's still shining.

So, without further preamble, here's my starter for ten on how the Maybot, BoJo, DD and their merry chums expect Brexit discussions to move ahead after they propose the following to break deadlocks.

  1. A bridge shall be built from Dover to Calais. The EU will have to fund it and only when complete will the Tory government agree to meeting their European counterparts halfway. In all senses.
  2. Britain will return to imperial measures across the board. No more of this metric nonsense, and currency denominations will once again be defined in terms of shillings, farthings, pennies and guineas. All bartering as to what is owed to the EU will be subject to conversion and the UK will set its own exchange rate. So that makes it twenty guineas and sixpence, take it or leave it guv'nor.
  3. Any negotiations shall henceforth be conducted in Olde English. That's a close match to a thick Scottish accent to you and me, hence a new opportunity for translators to flock to the table and variously interpret what each party is trying to convey. No doubt further hours of joy and, indeed, procrastination.
  4. Every participant at roundtable discussions shall be proficient on the rules of cricket. No knowledge, no say.
  5. Each negotiation session shall begin with at least twenty minutes' talk about the weather. There is no precursor about how you engage in this, nor which country's weather you opt to discuss - although penalties will be awarded at random if your country's rainfall/sunshine/temperature is deemed to be preferable to Britain's - but failure to comply will mean the entire British congregation have the option to walk out in disgust.
  6. There shall be no talk about the Royal Family.
  7. Unless you wish to touch on whether past imperial connections and interfamilial marriages actually infer that Britain should seek to reestablish reign over numerous regions in the Continent.
  8. All participants at negotiations must abide by a British sartorial code: oversized suit jackets for men, bland ties (preferably with yesterday's lunch stains well visible), scuffed shoes, ill-fitting skirts or kaleidoscopic dresses for women, preferably adorned by chunky costume jewellery for added effect. None of this European elegance please, far too distracting.
  9. All impasse shall be resolved by having a cup of tea. In times of extreme tension, this will be extended to include a biscuit and a nice sit down.
  10. There will be no negotiations during the airing of The Great British Bake Off. After all, what's not to like about a good cake? 

So there you go. I may be wide of the mark, but then again what would I know about the intricacies of politics and negotiations?

yes, exactly, hung out to dry


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Thursday, 14 September 2017

Twenty-seven years

Time passes quickly - we all seem to say so at some point.

Twenty-seven years ago today I landed in this country, slightly adrift in terms of where and what I might be headed towards, and thus commenced a rollercoaster ride into full adulthood and beyond.

A couple of points worth noting:
  1. I never came to the UK seeking citizenship, I already had two other nationalities to my name, one of which enabled me to settle and work here without the need for a visa;
  2. I believed - correctly as it turned out - that any career I sought was best pursued in London given the opportunities, cosmopolitan mix, and proximity to Europe that it offered.
Now, close to three decades later, I approach this anniversary with mixed feelings.

With the Brexit vote last year I have found myself in a similar quandary to many others in my situation.

Do I remain in the country that I have called home for more than half my life?

The honest truth is I don't know. Given family, friends, work, social life, health, education and much more, there is too much at stake to make a rash decision. Ironic that OH - who is British - would happily decamp tomorrow to warmer climes Down Under.

So what would otherwise have been an occasion for celebration feels far more subdued now. The country I call home is feeling somewhat unwelcoming.

A nation divided? Definitely.

A nation defined now by tarnished ideals and lies? Absolutely.

Not sure that sits comfortably with the values I wish for me and my family any longer.

In the meantime, work and plan, work and plan, work and plan...



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Monday, 21 August 2017

Get a grip

Did I miss something?

Another disheartening and mindless attack on innocents, this time in Barcelona, hatred without rhyme nor reason. Cowardice on a grand scale by those who were, like most of us, fortunate enough to live in a democratic country that grants freedom of expression and movement.

I just cannot comprehend, whatever the explanations offered.

The jumped-up thin-skinned orange misogynist still in charge over the pond, spouting incoherent tweets and unable to spell even the shortest of words. Twice.
How so, America? Oh, wait, yes, something cryptic about making a country great again and an election that went way off track.


At least late night hosts are not holding back. A degree of sanity - and comedy - there. Even if reality makes me weep into my breakfast porridge.

Politicians in Australia feigning ignorance about their own origins, with the 'purebred' deeming themselves the sole ones fit to serve in office. Because - heaven forbid - any of us should have mixed parentage. Oh, the sacrilege! Hello immigration? Any chance you let 'other nationalities' into the great nation down under since the convicts? Hmmm? Sure they weren't just opportunists?

Cue endless face palming.

Idiots still pondering how much longer they can get away with not having a plan for Brexit... or coming up with such ridiculous alternatives as to be truly laughable.


Oh, the irony of it all. My porridge at this stage resembles floating oats in a sea of tears.

Then we had the UK health secretary telling a world-renowned physicist that, basically, the latter didn't know his sh*t. Of course. Because once a d*ckhead, always a d*ckhead, isn't that so Jeremy?

He's probably not listening anyway. He never is.

But finally, FINALLY, we had something to really make us stand up and pay attention.

Indeed, the Maybot is back from her shirt-dress outfitted holiday. And the first thing on her agenda was....

... *cue drum roll*...

Big Ben.

Yes. We live in a society that deems clock stoppage the most pressing issue. No less than three (yes, three) parliamentary committees are "looking into the matter" from various angles.

I would hope that at least one of them will report that we live in 2017, most people wear a watch or have access to the time on their mobile devices, and that there are, quite frankly, more important items to deal with.

Oh. Just saw a pig fly by.



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Thursday, 27 July 2017

Just me?

Something about a last-minute panic has hit.

Aside from thinking - mistakenly - that today was Friday (it isn't, it's still only Thursday) and that my bank balance is so far underwater that I dare not anticipate what my weekly text update from my provider will say in the morning when it pings my phone (aside from "Seriously? WTF?"), it has also dawned on me that for the first time ever the house will be minus two out of three children from Wednesday.

One with friends in Italy, another ditto but in Norway.

And Widget on a local RYA sailing course with his best mate to keep him busy.

What to do then, with all this free time?

Actually, free time my arse.
I'll be working.
But with less distractions.

And possibly a bit of cycling thrown in, just for good measure.

Work life balance and all that.
Although potentially with less phone calls from offspring asking where I am.

School holidays. Gotta love 'em.



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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Analogies of a sort

Thankfully I spent the tail end of last week in a different country, taking part in another cycling event that was both exhilarating and exhausting, with my good friend (and fellow Kevinette) the Aussie Solicitor.

As we crossed the finish line there was much cheering and a man with a microphone ran up wanting to interview us. A bit of banter and a few laughs - especially when I mentioned that we had come this far to "escape the election" - and he signed off with a "Good luck with Brexit!"

Indeed.

Talk about a car crash.

I had jokingly said this was Ms May's election to lose, not Corbyn's to win, but hardly expected my words to be quite so prophetic.

Not being known to mince my words, and having already endured friendship fallouts from the lamentable referendum of last June, I decided to focus instead on one of the books we were set to read for Kevin's next rendezvous.

Now possibly because I was so put out by a trust fund hypocrite being re-elected to my local constituency - by a mere forty-five votes, no less - my take on this book was, ermm, let's just say less than favourable.

Aussie Solicitor, who has (perhaps wisely) not read it yet, asked me what I thought.

"An absolute pile of shit."

Like I said, no word-mincing.

And a perfect analogy for other events too.

where to even start...


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Friday, 2 June 2017

Schlepping it over to the continent

Good grief, another month gone by already.

Amongst other things (work, mainly... and cycling) I have been rather taken in the lead up to this:



When I have more hours in the day, I will post the full version.

Suffice to say it was an incredible event with some truly fabulous people.
And all for a common and very worthy cause: children and education.

Yay us.


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Monday, 1 May 2017

Dinner is served, badly

It is election season.

Obviously we didn't have quite enough excitement last year, so what we were categorically told would not happen in the UK is actually happening and it is only a matter of time before the proverbial starts hitting the fan once more, everyone goes for the jugular and we split the nation even further.

Just as well we are all "coming together", as Ms May would have us believe.

Except for Westminster, apparently.

Not sure where she gets her stats from, but I am guessing the same source as The Donald. Listen to those voices in your head and sooner or later you believe the alternative reality is the truth.

Ho hum.

However my current favourite take on the dire situation - and delusion - of the incumbent PM (and her band of incompetents) is the most recent, involving her dinner with the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.

The report by Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAZ) is solely in German, in hard copy print edition, with no English translation, and is summarised brilliantly by the Berlin bureau chief at The Economist via a series of tweets.

The event can best be described as a total clusterf*ck.

Oh to have been a fly on the wall.



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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Kevin's numbers

Another rendezvous, another venue, another mad-hatter-teaparty-of-sorts-with-lots-of-noise-food-wine-and-chatter.

Very loud chatter.

So loud, in fact, that Belfast Blonde's new husband had been forewarned and told he might - possibly - require ear muffs. He was 'in residence', you see, a reward for Kevin's past good behaviour so that we could finally meet this man who had snared one of our own.

He cooked and fed us all, so he definitely got the thumbs up.

One thing about being a bookclub now into its seventeenth year is that aside from us having become great friends and spent an inordinate amount of time drinking wine and eating copious quantities of food, we also appear to have become somewhat deaf.

Yes, deaf.

Especially when it comes to numbers.

"How many books have we read in all over the years?"
"When?"
"As Kevin..."
"Two per meeting, about eight meetings a year..."
"How many per meeting?"
"Two."
"Is it two?"
"I just said that."
"Oh. So how many meetings?"
"About eight?"
"But how many weeks between meetings?"
"Six?"
"Six? I thought seven?"
"How many weeks in a year?"
"Fifty-two..."

*brief pause while seven normally intelligent women do some mental maths*

"So about one hundred and seventy books then!"
"Yes, about two hundred odd!"
"How many? Two hundred and fifty?"
"Who has kept a record?"
"The black book..."
"It's blue now."
"Which book? Is that new?"
"About one hundred and seventy."
"What is?"
"I have a tally of all the books!"
"Which ones?"

(I actually did a proper calculation: the correct answer is two hundred and twenty-nine...ish)

And then it came down to deciding which books to select for the next meeting.

"How many have we got to choose from?"
"Six, you can all vote for your favourite."
"But we have two votes!"
"We vote twice for each book?"
"No, we vote twice for separate books."
"With the same vote? Does that count twice?"
"One vote per book."
"That's six votes!"
"Six votes each?"
"Two votes each!"
"One of the books is the third in a series. Have we read the previous two?"
"No. But we could add those..."
"We could read the first one first though..."
"So how many books?"
"I'm replacing the third in the series with the first in the series..."
"Do we vote on that one too?"
"I'm voting twice."
"How many votes?"
"Do we put our hands up?"
"Who's counting? Anyone have a pen?"

Anyway. We cast votes. Some Kevinettes may have cheated.
Who cares?

We laughed. We ate. We drank. We toasted the new husband and his gorgeous wife's good health.

And we chose two new books to read.

I think we've all agreed on the same ones.
I might have mis-heard.



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Sunday, 12 March 2017

Crikey moses!

What? March? Already? How did that happen?

I was actually paying attention however a number of things have been happening in quick succession and demanding my complete focus - not least a new work project which is a combination of exhilarating/exciting/scary/incredible/unbelievable and much more.

And in the meantime there is an increasing amount of cycling taking place, not least to get the ardent participants in our London to Bruges challenge up and ready for the May 19th departure date.

Talk about commitment and enthusiasm - this group of individuals have it in spades. I have half a plan to bottle it somehow and flog it on eBay as a potent dis-inhibitor.

'Eau de Givitallugot' sounds like a catchy name, no?
Pronounced with a veritable French accent, I think: giv-ee-tail-hugh-go.

Anyway. Lots of kilometres under the belt (wheels), regardless of the weather or the conditions.

For the uninitiated, this is referred to as abiding by The Rules.

And proof of how hardy this bunch is, see the photo.
So wet, even my phone camera was blurry.

Kudos.

And rule #9 peeps, rule #9.

Well 'ard 

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Sunday, 12 February 2017

Spare me the pseudo-tragic

Okay, so the most newsworthy headline this weekend in the tabloid press is how a very over-privileged, moneyed, wanting-for-nothing-not-even-a-diamond-glitterball, high flying, fast living, more-readies-than-common-sense, reformed cocaine addict and paparazzi darling "predicted her own death".

Apparently, this is 'tragic'.

Puh-leese.

This is predictable. This is idiotic. This is undoubtedly sad.
But tragic? Really? First world problems in my book.

Let me list what is truly tragic:

  • cuts to funding for state education in the UK
  • NHS mismanagement and associated fallout(s)
  • lack of clarity regarding Brexit plans and EU workers' statuses
  • political party elected officials who couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery
  • an orange wotsit cheeto as head of the 'free world' who defies any logic
  • people discriminated against by their colour/faith/gender/sexuality/origin/anything-else-you-might-find-offensive-or-disagreeable
  • refugees fleeing desperate situations through no fault of their own
  • gratuitous misogyny enshrined in law
  • most news involving the latest 'alternative facts' or associated perverted spin

Maybe the silver lining is that such a sycophantic headline will make others, too, take stock and realise what really should be capturing their attention... and possibly spur them on to action.

Do something. Take a view and be informed. Make a stand. 

But do me a favour.
Don't call such a situation 'tragic'.
Regrettable, yes. Tragic, no.

We all have choices. 
Make yours wisely.



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Thursday, 26 January 2017

Complacency is not an option

So.

I went. I marched. I returned.

An incredible experience: uplifting, invigorating, positive, friendly, powerful, inspiring, energising. And so much more.

What had been expected to be a crowd of some two-to-three hundred thousand turned out to be over one million. I doubt whether any of the participants in the Women's March in Washington had ever seen such numbers in their lifetime. Certainly not me.

There were young and old, men and women and children, of all colours, races, beliefs and backgrounds and orientations, united across any differences by the knowledge that if history teaches us anything it is this: complacency is equal to apathy.

To all those who joined in marches around the world, either in person or merely in spirit, I say: Well done!

To those who couldn't, I say: This is just the start!

To those who comment about wanting to do away with the negativity, asking that their Facebook feeds return to postings of kitten photos and happy thoughts and all things sugar and spice, I say:

Be under no illusion that this too, shall pass. You can choose to not participate, as is your right, but conversely you cannot condemn those who opt to question and challenge and not be quiet merely because you deem that we should 'get over it'. Democracy works in many ways, and this is how millions of people worldwide are choosing to exercise that right: by not standing by, by making our voices heard, and by keeping our eyes and ears wide open.

The world as we know it is changing, not just across the pond, nor solely in the UK. Pretending there is little or nothing we can do about it is akin to believing that rain will not make us wet despite venturing outdoors without an umbrella.

My stance continues, and will do so as long as necessary. I am not doing this merely for myself and my loved ones, I am doing it for all of us.

And that includes you, whether you like it or not.




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Thursday, 19 January 2017

Marching for human rights everywhere

Tomorrow morning I'm off.

I am heading to Washington DC to meet a wonderful friend and take part in this:


Because women's rights are human rights. Everywhere, for everyone.
And if you believe this, then it is only correct that you show your support, in whatever way you can.


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Thursday, 12 January 2017

A blur of a week

Did I say perseverance?

A word chosen wisely, if I say so myself.
Barely one week into the new year and personal tenacity has been put to the test already: on the cycling front, the work front and the governor front.

Cycling: three outings in three days, all brilliant, all exhilarating, all rather chilly. And since when has the latter stopped anyone, in any case, provided you are wearing sufficient layers? Exactly. Bring it on.

Work: one client testing patience, one non-responsive, one slow burner. Alternating between wanting to shout, smile, stomp my foot and breathe deeply for quite a long time. Never mind, keep the goals in focus.

Governor: one word. Ofsted. One response: preparedness. And we were, despite being slightly thrown at the timing - it is never ideal - and the demands for additional paperwork (hello? digital times at the DfE? it would seem not yet) and further evidence of impact. Apparently noting children's increased participation in sporting events, winning swimming galas and cross-country borough races, and being awarded a silver sports mark for physical activities with regard to the PE grant given to schools was deemed not quite relevant enough. Or possibly that was my interpretation of their comments. Who knows?

The whole process was intense, stressful, enlightening and insightful. To be fair HMI were very thorough yet fair, professional at all times and eventually showed their 'human' fa├žade in their feedback. Best comment was at the end when one of the inspectors, acknowledging the anxious and onerous process, said it might be more helpful if Ofsted renamed themselves.
I hear Boaty McBoatface is available for copyright again.

But it is now over and we are pleased. I am permitted to say no more until the official report is released.

In the meantime, perseverance.
Because I have absolutely no idea what day it is any more.




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Thursday, 5 January 2017

Word for 2017

Last year, inspired by a good friend's initiative, I decided to do away with resolutions and instead took a word to guide me over the coming twelve months.

It was 'focus', and served me - by and large - quite well, not just due to all the crazy events of 2016, but also regarding work, family and friends.

This year I have opted for 'perseverance'.

I hope it serves me equally as well, especially given the rocky road ahead with:

a) Brexit (don't get me started)
b) the Donald (seriously, still, WTF?)
c) client/project challenges (£#@%!)
d) cycling events (kilometres, lots of them)
e) growing offspring (aka the fridge is permanently empty)

The latter in particular given I am also rapidly becoming the shortest in the family.

In the meantime, perseverance!

always an uphill climb...


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