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Mahatma Gandhi once said:

"A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history."

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Remember when you set the music sheets on fire at our sixth form rendition of Faure's Requiem? Just a bit of highbrow nostalgia for Christmas Day now I've sobered up! Enjoy....
Ivor X

A Place called Home

Took the long way home Polly...lots of time to consider our Christmas message. The combination of Santa's Nuts and Wobbly Antlers sent me into a thoughtful revery about the homeless. Time to be grateful for the simple things. I have tried hard to come up with an eloquent monologue that stirs the soul. Will this touching song focus our thoughts on those less fortunate than ourselves this frosty Christmas morning? No need for words....except two perhaps....Merry Christmas!
Yours Ivor X

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Polly, I only have one word to say to you .....SPROUTS!
On my way home now. You take the high road, I'll.......what a magical time it is!
Ivor X

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Peace on Earth!

Dear Ivor

It was so lovely to hear from you, although Aunty Gladys did let me know that you had gone wandering! Just as a word of caution I think in future years you may need to supervise her feeding of the Christmas cake with brandy. When I took round her card and pressie I found her pressing a knitted jumper on to a rather reluctant postman, well intentioned I’m sure, but she had made a slight spelling error with “pistman of the county” emblazoned across it and was a little too amorous in her advances. I managed to extricate him from her grip with a move I learnt in those self-defence classes Robin sent me on. Before you rush to call her, honestly she is fine and hardly remembers the incident at all, although I can’t say the same of the postman! Whilst there I fed the cake with the remainder of the brandy to avoid any further consumption by Aunty G. I think you may need to ration out the slices over Christmas or be prepared to face the consequences!

I do hope you are having a fantastic time, your ukulele playing has definitely improved although I was a little disconcerted with the length of your beard, time for a seasonal pruning! Whilst you have been concentrating on your fiddling I have been catching up with current affairs.

Education is once more in the limelight with the scrapping of the proposed tests for 14 year olds. All these initiatives should be clearly costed and reported to the public, successful or not. Am proposing in our government that all accounting will be transparent. After all whose money is it anyway? MPs always seem to dodge questions on financial figures, don’t they realise how much this infuriates the public, or is it just me, and only makes us think the worst, so why not tell us in the first place, they are running the country on our behalf, so they should be accountable to us.

Ministers seem so hell bent on putting their stamp on the department under their supervision and rising up the political ladder that they appear to introduce change for the sake of it, am proposing a campaign “only change for the better!”. From my observations unwieldy legislation is impossible to supervise and I suspect extremely costly. Governments, no doubt well intentioned, scrutinise and legislate on all aspects of people’s lives, however they seem to forget that they cannot attempt to eliminate every problem that might arise, they are after all dealing with the incongruous nature of humankind, who are apt to do the very thing you least expect them to, take Robin for instance! Am not advocating a laissez faire attitude but more of a streamlining approach. Let’s take taxes for a start, this system is so complicated that we need experts to really figure it out. Does it need to be this complex or is this just to mask the true amount paid by individuals, a little cynicism creeping in sorry Hazel! Can we be honest with the public and let them know approximately how much we need them all to contribute in order to run the country, a job for Alvin and Evan perhaps?

People will always be reluctant to part with their hard earned cash but if we can convince them that we are not wasting it on Christmas parties, second homes, plasma TVs and funding the next fad in education perhaps it would be less painful for them?

Sound a little “bah humbug” so a positive seasonal note for you to ruminate on, it appears that the nativity sheep may have been under rated (ignore the Welsh dig please!).

Although I must admit that sheep do tend to appear to follow each other aimlessly and not really know who is in charge, but is this a valid reason to label them as stupid? I have resisted the desire to expand on this analogy in the interests of goodwill to all men and peace on earth!

Enjoy warming your cockles and the odd glass of seasonal cheer, hope to see you soon.

Poll xx


Monday, December 22, 2008

Lost The Firkin Point...

YOU'RE BACK Polly...Hooray, Hooray!
Sorry for delayed response. Intermittant reception in North Wales. Tipi or not Tipi? That is the question. Nowhere to plug in laptop. Anyway Aunty Gladys has told me you are back on line (and on form), Robin is virtually challenging and we had a date at the Firkin Point. I did try to seek clarity with Aunty Gladys as to venue, but she was rambling about Inspector Clouseau. She was making trifle at the time...too much sherry perhaps?
Well, I've ended up here. Whilst Loch Lomond is resplendent in its winter are decidedly absent? I have a nagging feeling in my Trossachs that I may be slightly off beam. Do try and make contact...I can be found at Ben Arthur's Bothy sampling some Fyne Ale and folk music...fortification for my return trip....perhaps it's time for a shave? My banjo playing is coming on leaps and bounds! Hopefully I'll be back before Christmas. Anything happened in the news recently? I've been refocussing and seeking clarity of vision!!! Can't say transubstantiate either, should I be worried?
Big Kisses
Ivor X
PS These Scots are up for some fun...might stay as snow is predicted...a loch-in perhaps?


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Status Quo

Dear Ivor

My deliberations under the duvet over the past week have brought forth a mixture of emotions. Yes, some of them aimed at Robin, although I now know that his feigned concern about my recovery was masking a desire for a takeover bid on the blog front, is he that bored at work! However prepared with this knowledge I am now employing psychological warfare tactics, involving being disarmingly pleasant and excessively honest at the same time, he is I must admit more confused than I would’ve given him credit and I have had to stifle the desire to append a “gotcha” to the end of some sentences, however years of practice do kick in at these times!

Anyway back to my Egyptian cotton musings. Whilst slipping in and out of consciousness I have experienced rather disjointed radio coverage of the news and the picture overall was in danger of becoming exceedingly bleak. I have had to add a further £126 million to my debt spreadsheet in respect of overpayments to pensioners and possibly another £18m lost by local authorities in the Madoff scandal. Do you think he dropped an “e” to add credibility to his marketing brochure “trust Madeoff with your money”? The more I read about Madoff the more incredulous I become, how this person was trusted with such huge amounts of cash is beyond belief! Perhaps he should’ve plumped for a career in government then he could’ve just blamed everybody else for the loss and still maintained a position of trust.

Unemployment and mortgage arrears are increasing by the day and now it seems I might be about to become an unwilling shareholder in Jaguar Land Rover owned by Tata of India. Frankly I don’t want to fill the funding gap, isn’t that what banks are for and if they don’t want to fund a viable business do they know something I don’t know? This is not the job of governments. Mr Mandelson would be better employed addressing the reason why the banks continue to be on a lending freeze, rather then adding to the spiralling zeros of our national debt. Tax payers are not a bottomless pit!

After venting my economic fury on an unsuspecting Robin, I made a medicinal mug of hot honey and lemon and plumped up my pillows. This had the desired effect and I had a moment of clarity. Robin wasn’t mounting a takeover blog after all, he was just envious of our camaraderie and focus and grasped the opportunity to be part of it. He has now seen the error of his ways and, albeit a little sheepishly, recognised that he is not up to the challenges of leadership. The status quo has been re-established and I felt a slight stirring of goodwill towards him! Similarly perhaps Mandy needs to establish who’s in charge on the economic front the government or the multinationals?

I have my suspicions!

Poll xx

PS Feel up to a meeting at The Firkin Point tomorrow if you’re free? Have you still got the scooter?


Happiness is Infectious!

Dear Ivor

What a wheeze! I never would’ve thought that he had it in him. Whilst I succumbed to a bout of seasonal flu Robin has apparently been constructing a fantasy life where he is a member of “Plane Stupid”, a little apt I might say, and I am on a virtual tour of Las Vegas discovering my navel no doubt!! How could you have believed him? Nothing other than a temperature of 102 degrees would have kept me from my keyboard and did my confession about your mentorship mean nothing to you? He certainly knew how to malign my character in your eyes appealing to your carbon footprint Achilles heel and even attempting to risk upsetting Geraldine!!

Anyway can’t think where he got the idea about a “Second Life” unless he has been secretly reading our blog and feeling a bit left out. Did attempt a reply to you yesterday but was thwarted by a much delayed Christmas shopping trip and a tyre blow-out, surely Robin isn’t that serious about keeping me from my destiny!

After some antibiotics, goodness knows what I would’ve been prescribed if I lived in France, am now back with a vengeance! However should I go quiet again you may need to call in the security forces as rumours of my demise may not be exaggerated! However I must admit it has added a certain spice to my relationship with Robin, although I now understand how Inspector Clouseau felt living with Cato!

Despite my affliction am attempting to enter into the spirit of Christmas, nothing to do with Fuggles hops or wobbly antlers. Our viewers are building up in numbers, although they do appear a little reticent. However I take this as a good omen, they are taking in the measure of us and making an informed decision as to whether we are virtually up to the job. We want followers who take a long term view; after all it can get pretty intimate in a campervan!

I am determined to spread a little goodwill, despite the chilly economic wind that is blowing. Every cloud….. Positive moves really are afoot. Championship clubs are considering putting a cap on footballers’ salaries, not before time! There’s been a revival in family holidays and you’ll be pleased, a resurgence in camping. Apparently we are all eating more healthily. Commuters are also taking to their bikes in their millions.

Anyway it’s official happiness is infectious, a bit like my cold, and I intend to do my fair share of spreading it, starting with Robin!

Poll x

PS Think I now qualify for shares in Kleenex!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Flying High...

There's only so much soul searching and kite-boarding a man can do. It's not the same out here in the blogoshere without you...I've had enough of hogging the limelight. There's something I must tell you.
Yours always,
Ivor X
PS Happy Christmas (....still wannabe PM?)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Away from it all...indeed?

Actually Polly, hurt is an understatement.
I finally got Robin to spill the beans. Reconnecting with your unique purpose in life? Finding yourself? A journey of self discovery? Inner-reflection and transformation? Don't you think a trip to Las Vegas slightly self indulgent? Not to mention your carbon footprint. May I draw your attention to Stephen Covey's advice that an effective leadership retreat requires 'buy-in' from all. When planning a successful retreat you should begin with the end in mind and consult with your team to set appropriate goals. Forgive my niavity, but I thought I was your team? I admit I am no fan of extensive consultation but even a vague allusion to your plans, a throw away comment...a tincy wincy HINT perhaps. But nothing...nothing...I've been hanging around in cyberspace like Norman Nomates. Not a blogging peep from you. Well, when you have found will find me here contemplating my navel, enjoying the isolation and just dreaming. How does it go...don't blog me, I'll blog you?
PS We had a dream once, remember?

Up the Pub!

I've been doing some active campaigning on behalf of CAMRA...ignore this plight at your peril. You will find me at The Hook and Hatchett. It was Celtic night..but I seem to have lost a few days. Making a stand for pubs....hic!
Ivor X

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Reform starts in our souls


Too tired to expound on this frosty evening. Homework for you...two messages that intrigued me. Compare and contrast:
Have we lost our collective compass?
Can Blogs harness collective power to change the world?
I intended to analyse, ponder and draw some intellectually astute observation that linked these two articles in support of ....our convoy idea. But I'm too knackered. Anyway, reform starts in our souls...I like that line so I've unashamedly stolen it.

Night, night,

Ivor X

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

No Sulking

Enough is enough Polly,

It's no good sulking about Carol Vorderman and apathetic voting. I'm delighted, and Aunty Gladys is plumping up some newly knitted cushions down in the shed. Do you think she will wear the leather trousers? (Carol, not Aunty Gladys). Yes, that was a very sexist comment. Don't tell me if I wore leather trousers you'd stay blissfully reticent. Anyway, as you are not talking to Robin you will have to give up on the strong silent treatment at some point before you self destruct. A letter of congratulations to Carol and Victoria doesn't take that long...let me help.

I have decided that I am infact apolitical. The whole top political blogger thing scares the pants off me. I can admit to leather pants...and cowardice. But I'm a pacifist and activist all rolled up into one bobbly Fairisle jumper and there's no way I'd go into combat with Guido...he'd chew me up alive, swallow me whole and wash me down with a sixpack of Satan Red. So I've bottled out of telling him about our convoy to Copenhagen. Iain Dale on the other hand looks like an amenable sort, but he's in a bad mood today. Can't be doing with moods and tantrums, unless of course they are mine. When anyone of the Top 100 political bloggers come up with some real strategy to tackle climate change then they can have a campervan personally signed and decorated by Cath Kidston and a personalised knitted laptop bag.Until then they can all blog off and fight with each other. Only one Green blogger (The Daily (Maybe)! And they reckon the politicians aren't in tune? As for Ordovicius, don't despair good buddy, I've been checking out feasibilities of a convoy to Freetown Christiania in more detail......a partially self governing, semi-legal, self sustaining society built from scratch for those who feel the beating of a pioneer heart. An interest in Max Boyce is optional. Our shed door is open all hours for anyone with an ethical pulse (nicked your line Bibi)! Don't forget anarchism is now mainstream. Oiling the tandem as it may take sometime to get to Copenhagen in time for next Christmas. No flights from Stansted. GOOD.

Yours Grumpily,
Ivor X

PS It's very easy to think outside the box when you have not been put in one. Confused? Me too.....blame the loose fuggles!


Monday, December 08, 2008

Plane Stupid

Frankly Polly, I think Robin is being Plane Stupid. I thought he was up there exporing the old passageways of Chislehurst Caves. If I was him I'd stay deep down between the crevices and contemplate the value of exposing himself on the runway in such a gesture of defiance. It took me back to our Student Union days of free expression following that (not so) friendly Sevens Tournament and several Young's Winter Warmers. I will arrange transport home from The Bull after he's sobered up and apologized for any inconvenience he may have caused. Not sure if the landlord saw the funny side of playing diving is for the under 50's or the paralytic...mmmm. During World War II, the tunnels did serve as air raid shelters. This wasn't quite what I envisaged in stirring up action against Climate Change....still I admire his Blitz spirit.

Incidentally, I liked Bibi van der Zee's article and wondered if we should take our convoy to Copenhagen next December (the most microbreweries per capita in Europe), designer shops and Freetown Christiana. Something for everyone. I feel a job share coming on for Head of Environment...George and you think we should tell them? Kidnapping seems a little radical. We need a rebel with an ethical pulse. What is your evaluation of George's finer points revealing thus far Polly?
Couldn't help blogging him about holding Yvo de Boer to task, at some antisocial hour (01.59 am)....he IS my hero of the moment, though I'm enjoying exploring Bibi's attributes too. Do you think she swishes on the quiet?

I know you're feeling emotional about the announcement of Head of Ed....I won't say anymore. Don't want to steal your thunder.

Ivor X

PS I think we will all be ready for a week on the Pilsner by then...if Robin has dried out!


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Well Did YOU?

Well Polly, did we all....ACT NOW?
Time for the men in suits (and the rest of us) to take our heads out of the sand....four years and counting!
With lots of lovin'
(from deep in some ancient woodland)
Ivor X

PS I have spent a wild, restless night deep in the forest (thinking, just thinking) and bemoaning the fact that it's easier to grunt at other's failings rather than look inwardly at our own. You don't need to catalogue mine Polly, but here's a man in suit who has actually proposed some refreshing. George, Polly's sweeping out a camper van for you as we blog....wannabe head of environment? Polly, can you check his credentials? Nelson Mandela liked him.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Energy not Apathy

I'm not ranting today. Enough hollow talk. It's time for British bloggers to vote with their minds and feet. Sit down, relax, it's Friday.....lie back, close your eyes and listen again with your hearts to these words. NOW is the time for action. Do you lack the courage? Can you look into the eyes of your children and say you fought for the energy revolution? One small step, tomorrow at Parliament Square ....armchair blogger or LEGEND?

For those who can't make it off the blog, at least press here (and you thought we'd forgotten you Geraldine!)....and for the totally inert, read, digest and spread the word...32 pages to save the world. Not much to ask.
What do you mean where will I be? I've got lovin' on my mind. Don't watch the video Polly! And to all you girl guides out there 'look away now'.

Blog off and have a politically energetic weekend folks...with loads of forest love (and peace),

Yours Ivor X


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Bloggy and the Bandits

It's all about vision Polly....there's no stopping us now. I've been trucking through political cyberspace to rally the troops. I went straight to Iain Dale's Top 100 UK Political Blogs 2008 and whilst I feel a little intimidated on the political prerequisites for effective blogging...we do know how to PARTY! Consider us as fresh faced, new recruits tiptoeing nervously below the radar. We don't swing left or right...we are utter novices heading straight for the open road. Recklessly keen, green and ready to convoy. This is not invitation only but first come first serve..not enough campervans for every blogger on the list. Copy? Help us out Good Buddy. Leave the fighting to the politicians...let's hit the track running Breaker One. Iain, would you like to be Love Machine or Smokey, as I'm not sure if 'Mr Dale' cuts it when we've got a frontdoor clean clear to blogging unity! Show no fear....ain't nothing gonna get in our way! Mesh to the metal's one big political PARTY out there in the blogosphere. Love, peace and unity Guido? You trucked all day and trucked all let the inner beatnik out. Freedom to Blog?
Bloggers Unite 10-4...we got us a convoy. Are you guys trucking?
Rubber Duck
(aka Ivor Dunmoanin X)

PS Geraldine, great news that Geoff Hoon is reconsidering his decision on the third runway....hope it wasn't the recycled Messerschmitts that landed in his bird feeder. Keep on truckin', you've got a busy weekend and there's a campervan with your name on it NOTRAG! I'm up for Flashmob...any excuse.

PPS Polly, was Guido a raver? Lasers, acid and artificial blog (sorry fog)? He has certainly experimented with facial hair (one of his many disguises perhaps) and I vaguely remember experiencing a spiritual connection with his soul patch at Glastonbury in the 80's...or was that Roger? Do you think he likes real ale too?


A Blogging Convoy!

Breaker....breaker....over and out. We got ourselves a BLOGGING CONVOY Polly (aka Pig Pen)...or are you Rubber Duck? It's a pivotal moment of blogging brilliance! And how did you superimpose me into the video...beard and all? Mighty bloggers, we've thrown down the keyboard and are uniting in force....what will you do...scroll, insert, pause...or take one big backspace and hit the control key...we are shifting now! Mercy sakes alive we got ourselves a copy....over-and-out...Rubber Duck X

Come on Hockerill!

Dear Ivor

Am a bit concerned it's neck and neck in our vote for Head of Education and Innovation between Carol Voderman and Dr Victoria Rataj-Worsnop, am a bit concerned that I may have ruined Victoria's chances by expressing a preference and only one day left to vote!!

Not that I'm attempting to skew results but have you got Hockerill Anglo-European College's email address?

Poll xx

PS Thank you for not pointing out my poll spelling mistake, or can I blame slipping into a Yorkshire dialect!

Bloggers Unite!

Dear Ivor

Phew, are you suffering from sleep deprivation!

Don’t worry am not going to brave the “not just a store, it’s…” sale as last time this high street name had a 20% off day the police shut the doors of our local branch for health and safety reasons. Although after reading some of the comments posted on Anthony King’s article am beginning to toy with a conspiracy theory that the real reason was to arrest the spending spree in order to deepen the economic crisis and increase the likelihood of the introduction of a police state, or whatever!!

Must admit felt mentally battered and deep fried after trawling trough the list of moderated free speech (is that a contradiction in terms?). Feel motivated and deflated all at the same time and the temptation to crawl back under the rock I came from is quite compelling.

Faced with far more erudite keyboards than my own, almost (note almost!) began to feel that our small attempt to thwart political inertia was in vain. But was rallied by the announcement of a delay in the decision on the third runway at Heathrow. A small step in the right direction, well done to Geraldine and her co-NOTRAGers or perhaps your threat of origami tipped the balance.

Have ventured forth into the blogosphere and it’s true it is awash with politics, so that’s where it’s been hiding! Surprise, surprise, we are not the only ones advocating change. However there is a distinct lack of direction. Have my suspicions that blogging provides instant, albeit temporary, euphoria, followed by a period of self doubt and apathy.

Nevertheless bloggers are becoming more outspoken you only have to look at Guido, was a little shocked at some of the more graphic comments emitting from his followers and would draw their attention to Clive James’s observations on the use of a limited vocabulary. However bloggers are becoming a recognised political force. Found this bit on Wikipedia regarding UK political blogs;

“A former leading adviser to the government has criticised their anti-establishment nature for fuelling a "crisis" in politics stating that there should be more emphasis on working together to solve problems rather than making hostile and conflicting demands on politicians”

Nearly choked on my bagel, “working together” now that would be novel! Take the wooden beam out of your own eye! Doesn’t our political system rely upon systemic confrontation followed by individual character assassination leading to gratuitous point scoring? It’s not our blogging fault, language now!!

If ordinary people wielded their political might we would have the MPs that we believe we deserve. It’s time for some action, evolution not revolution Ivor! Politics is simply a decision making process, but it’s us that decide who we want to make those decisions. So let’s find us some decision makers, bloggers of the cybersphere unite, what have we got to lose? Yes you! Throw a pebble into the political pond, send this blog to your friends, or join Elvis as a follower, avatars welcome! We could have ourselves a blogging convoy!

Poll xx


Talking About a Revolution.

Dear Polly,

I am sure you are having a frenzied webshop and are therefore much too busy to blog on today. Save or Spend? Now there's a national dilemma. Don't try to convince me you're doing both. Does Twiggy really need another cardi? What I don't understand is that today's 'Spectacular' will bring people out in droves to ensure they get their fleece dressing gowns at a bargain price. But trying to stir up a POLITICAL fervour is like wading through treacle. Perhaps it is the distinct absence of quality, service and value we are getting from our political leaders.

I agree wholeheartedly with Anthony King and told him so at exactly 12.50am (3rd comment from bottom for those with blog fatigue). So how exactly do we win the political hearts and minds of the British public? The plethora of views that spewed forth in response to King's article (...actually, I feel I can call him Anthony now) reassured me that there is a living, talking, intelligent mass out there drowning in cynicism and frustration. I felt a little overawed by the political brilliance of their scattergun observations and brain dead by the time I'd finished. But after a couple of bottles of Orkney Skull Splitter (one was for you Anthony, but I drank it), it occured to me that we are a bunch of blogging, armchair know-it-alls. The talk of revolution was just that...all talk. Let's face it, if we are all too horizontal to carry through these fine words perhaps we should admit that, just like our political leaders, we too are 'all talk and no action.' Whilst everyone seems to be united in acknowledging public apathy, did any one of these discerning bloggers come up with a solution? Perhaps John Wayne had a point when he suggested, rather eye-wateringly that ''If you've got them by the balls...their hearts and minds will follow''. He was afterall, a real man and not a politician. What I have gleamed is that we should just say NO...but mean it. We are too British to be truly revolting....who's up for storming No 10? Race you? We don't do sit-ins in airports (trees maybe) or civil uprisings (petitions maybe). Though it is tempting. How many people bothered to make paper aeroplanes with me to protest against a third runway at Heathrow? Exactly. Call yourselves politically active? Anthony King's message was on the nose, but we do criticism so well. Where are all you problem solvers? I guessed it....not just any high street sale then? Well, even Stuart Rose knows it is 'Plan A....because there is no Plan B' and sadly if you don't like Labour you can't take it back for a refund. Perhaps it is time for an exchange?

Thinking hats on, you political savants. So you say NO to our current political system (revolution is optional), then what? National abstention from voting at the next election...that would surely put the cat among the pigeons,then what? Start format, real people (well virtually), over 30, life experience, reaching out to all sectors.....well who would really WANNABE PM? So there is a Plan B.....or C, D, and E. Come on Anthony, what is the answer to this national affliction? Even the Girl Guides have leapt out of inertia with a plan of participation. What's ours?

Slightly disgruntled,

Ivor X

PS If you must go Polly, at least exercise some sustainable choice. Though as you well know, I vehemently believe Christmas should be all about making a real difference!


Wednesday, December 03, 2008


WooOOOOOOOoooo! Hark at you Polly Tix! Are your feet glued to my soap box? I'm right behind you....the one hiding and going''Yeah'' at the appropriate pauses!
Ivor X
PS I know when the next 20% Spectacular is, at......NOT JUST ANY retailer.....!

M&S or Britney Spears?

Dear Ivor

Do you ever sleep? Your prolific efforts on the keyboard have, I must admit, surprised me. I haven’t seen you this animated since the Ecology Party Summer Gathering of 1981 and that was after 6 days of acoustic meditation!

Yet again you have succeeded in catapulting us into the glare of the media spotlight, first Ian Hyland and now Vera Chan, what is it about your ramblings that they admire?

Your literary scythe has cut through several points and I agree that I too admire the whistleblower who even at personal expense is still willing to speak out. Organisations that don’t want any criticism shouldn’t employ people!

Have struggled myself to understand how anyone could carry out systematic abuse of a child. It is beyond cruel, simply barbaric and perhaps we do need to turn the mirror on to us as a society. One in ten children in wealthy countries now suffers abuse, but professionals responsible for their protection are still afraid to act, why? The decision to put a child into foster care is a huge one and not to be taken lightly, but to avoid the decision is negligence. There appears to be systemic procrastination surrounding the care of vulnerable children, despite the lessons apparently learnt following the Victoria Climbie case. Or is it a fear of recrimination fuelling indecision?

This lack of action is not only the malaise of childcare professionals, it affects all of us. Anthony King reported in the Telegraph today that membership of political parties is on the decline. Conservatives have about 290,000 members, Labour only 175,000 members and the Lib Dems about 65,000 (wouldn’t even fill Twickenham stadium). “The combined membership of the three main political parties is scarcely more than half that of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.”

I was shocked by these numbers and felt almost sorry for Nick Clegg, perhaps if he confessed to being a twitcher, rather than a Gruffalo admirer, his numbers would quadruple overnight. The political disengagement is worse than I thought and we will have a tough job rousing the British public from their apathy. It makes you wonder if we have got the politicians we deserve after all?

Spurred on by your recent commune with nature did a bit of star watching and soul searching myself. Think in general people do care about the environment, you only have to watch our mates at Greenpeace shinning up the front of the Bank of England to know that, and we do care about what happens to children like Baby P, and we do want our children to have a good education and the world to be rid of poverty, hunger and wars, but the thing is we are the silent majority.

We are the ones who shout at the radio but not on the radio, who scoff at politicians privately but not publicly, who want a better world as long as someone else does it for us.

What would stir us into action, the promise of a 20% off day at M&S, a night with Britney Spears or an opportunity to change things?

Suddenly the Inn Crowd doesn’t seem such a bad place to start!

Poll xx


Be Prepared YAHOO!

We love you VERA we do...and all the guys in YAHOO! A big thankyou for letting through a lone voice in cyberspace.
Well Denise, remember the Guide Motto....BE PREPARED!
The internet awaits.....
Love Ivor X

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Teachers in Arran


Aunty Gladys was quite hurt that you collapsed in giggles at her knitted teachers. She defiantly defends her double-handed effort to improve classroom ratios by drawing parallels with recent efforts in Somerset to reduce crime rates. She has a point...two in fact, and the sparks are flying. I reassured her that the staffroom setting did not convey an inspirational message and perhaps she could knit a few more teachers who looked ready to combat the kind of classroom behaviour that challenges so many. Now we are talking! I am sorry Aunty Gladys...there is a real difference. Sergeant Andy Murphy was being serious! No more Laver Bread for me then?

Spurred on by your previous blog I've been thinking. I am out of my emotional comfort zone with the Baby P case because I struggle to address the tragedy face on. I understand that serious mistakes have been catalogued, but I do not believe that a blame culture will move things forward. Yes, individuals should be held accountable for incompetencies, but surely we are missing the bigger picture. What drives a human being to wilfully subject such cruelty to an infant? What level of social depravity are we expecting our social workers to deal with? Will lessons really be learnt if, as you say, findings are with held? The whistle was blowing in the wind long before but no one was courageous enough to address failure. Why do institutions shy away from admitting inadequacy? And why are whistleblowers chucked out for being brave enough to reveal and challenge the status quo? Nevre Kemal and Alex Dolan have much in common....why is speaking the truth so discouraged?

In short, can we ban box-ticking, target-setting, bureaucracy and consultation of more that five minutes (my attention span). Don't go here! And can we please reinstate personal accountability, individual trust and whistleblowing?

My head hurts now and I think I've got man-flu....just finishing a hot, ginger tea with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. I wish to move our agenda rapidly on to a lighter and darker topic, but one that challenges some of my deeply held principles. Thanks to a decision to further increase tax on beer, five pubs a day are closing in Britain. This is our heritage and the idea that it's purport is to tackle binge drinking is a joke....and not a very funny one. I'm not laughing. Time for action I say. CAMRA we are with you every staggering step of the way, but I suspect that in this instance it's not a suitable campaign for the Girl Guides. Fear not, it's time to call in Old Wobbly Antlers ....and save our community pubs.

Bit sleepy now so settling down for the night...snow tomorrow. Tank tops at the ready.

Lots of love,
Ivor X

PS Am I too old for YAHOO? Vera is still giving me the strong silent treatment. Can you get alka seltzer in the US of A?


Consultation Costs?

I'm totally with you on 'Tick and Bash' culture...just say NO! All for complete exposure (always have been)....goes with being a rugby player. My gripe is that word 'CONSULTATION' much of our money has the government spent on consultation, what does it mean and who exactly do they consult with? No one has ever asked me anything? I wonder why. Am I not worthy? Vera is still moderating me on YAHOO (some party she's at) I just a lone voice in cyberspace?
Must dash...but in the interest of transparency, I confess I am not actually busy, just taking time out at the allotment discussing plans with Elvis for a community garden.
I will be seriously mulling over the issues you have so vehemently blogged a little later....after the sun goes down over my freshly turned compost heaps.
Not sure about the sit in....smacks of Thailand. How about a jolly good singalong to challenge noise pollution....'Oh! You'll Never Get to Heaven.... on a jumbo jet' LA LA LA! Everyone knows that one...I've consulted.
Love Ivor X

PS Do you think Jenni Murray on R4 knows about the political stance adopted by the Girl Guides? Isn't that the sort of thing that should be exposed on Women's Hour....not posh kennels. Though Edwina's ears pricked up. NO....I wasn't listening voluntarily...Aunty Gladys had it on whilst knitting up some teachers to help resolve class-size ratios.


Tick Control

Dear Ivor

There’s room on the box for two!

The extremely distressing case of Baby P has exposed a box ticking culture amongst social workers, which resulted in a carefully crafted paper trail leading to this little boy’s acute distress and death. However we will not be permitted to know the exact details behind the failure to protect this child as Ed Balls has refused to publish Haringey's serious case review, is this to protect the innocent or to conceal the inept?

Unfortunately it appears that a similar box ticking culture has pervaded our education system and is obscuring the real state of learning in our schools. Diana Watkins, chairman of the Independent Association of Prep Schools thinks so too and is calling for an end to this “dampening down” practice and for more autonomy in the classroom, her observations may have come before mine, but I am comforted by the fact that we are of like minds, am sure she is too!

However just in case it was in doubt, there is evidence of close monitoring of our blog. After my insistence only yesterday that we ought to back off from excessive involvement in education, have come across this article published today in the Guardian, a little spooky! Sounds suspiciously like further symptoms of a tick borne disease to me.

This might be the time for a bit of tick control for teachers, the Frontline for education or perhaps a treatment for society in general?

Poll xx

PS After my succinct personal message to GirlGuiding UK, do you think they would consider lending their support to our mate Geraldine at NOTRAG. If they want to become politically empowered the environment is a good place to start and, let’s face it, one that needs immediate attention. I suppose a protest sit-in at Heathrow is out of the question!


Polly, Get Off Your Box....Now!

Reign it in've nicked my soapbox and are terrorizing well meaning Girl Guides around the country. I've just blogged Vera Chan at Yahoo for some support for youth politics. It is currently being moderated. No I didn't swear, it's just it's 3.42am over there so Vera's out partying isn't she? These editors never sleep. Fingers on the pulse.
Calm down Polly...think of your meniscus! DIB DIB DIB
Ivor X
PS Breathe....2,3,4.....

Celebrity guide not required!

Dear Ivor

Hurrah for Girlguiding UK this is just the sort of involvement we are looking for from our young people. But come on girls don’t look for a celebrity Minister for Young People, choose one of your own who will be truly representative of your organisation. There must be quite a few who would relish the chance to be at the cutting edge of politics and become truly engaged in policy making decisions.

You say that you want to “Give young people a say about issues that affect them directly”, in which case really own and promote this project yourselves, if celebrities give their support all well and good, but shift the emphasis to real people effecting real change. That might encourage the sceptics in you and you never know us oldies as well!

Move the current focus from celebrity to sorority and become true role models for your generation, airbrushing not included!

And if you still decide to go ahead with a celebrity perhaps you’ll find one here?

Poll xx


Monday, December 01, 2008

Britney Spears MP?

I am toasting my toes by the fireside with Edwina and have just enjoyed a few bottles of The Dark Side of the Moose whilst rummaging through old photos of Llangollen. Yes...I have evidence. You may wonder why I'm about to include Britney Spears in the same sentence as the Girl Guides. Well, I'm glad you're curious as there is a link, however tortuous. The Girl Guides, quite rightly, are calling for new politics for the next generation. They feel disengaged with national politics and what's even more exciting...they have a plan to engage young women in British politics!!! It is utterly brilliant. They call for new legislation demanding young political ambassadors. They want targets for school visits from MPs, on-line voting, youth correspondents in the national media....and wait for it.....a celebrity minister for young people. This I believe is the key to empowering change for the next generation. I truly believe we should be listening carefully to these optimistic voices. They care passionately enough to positively bring about change. It's inspiring...
Polly, how big is our campervan? Is there room for one more? I am all for a celebrity minister for youth....but who? Kate Moss, Cat Deeley, Emma Thompson, Davina McCall were all girl guides. And guess who....our own Carol Vorderman? But they are all too old!
OK! OK! Britney Spears was a complete red herring, but I thought it might just pull in some youthful representation from any casual internet surfers. It is quite scary when you examine the Top 10 searches in the UK for 2008. I feel we are somehow back where we started many moons ago . It's going to be a tough challenge for the Girl Guide Movement to find a politically astute, inspirational leader under the age of twenty one, who also happens to be a celebrity. I am sorry about my corrosive cynicism (which is now beginning to chafe a little) as I genuinely admire their determination to embrace British politics. To all political outsiders, near and far, come in from the cold and join Polly and I in a fireside song to celebrate the next generation?
Love and Peace,
Ivor X
PS How old is James?


Less is More.......

Dear Ivor

So glad you had a good time and have returned to the keyboard invigorated. I must admit our bold flashes of inspiration may not have evolved into clear manifesto points at this stage, however a degree of brainstorming is required before we settle on the finer points. Have raked through our cerebral meanderings so far and was wondering if instead of producing a huge tome of our intentions, perhaps we could take an audacious step forward or even backwards and state what we intend not to dabble too much in?

Have a sneaking feeling that if governments could deliver a fix for education it would have done it by now. We need to depoliticise the system and let teachers, young people their families and the wider community help create the education model for the future. Your statistical discoveries were interesting, if not a little overwhelming! However now is the time for a daring move, let’s increase our teachers’ salaries, improve working conditions and reduce down class sizes. No more tinkering at the edges with relentless party political initiatives, strategies, programmes, policies and packages, which lets face it all cost a fortune. Education is the glue of our society and the experience of our young people and teachers should be a positive and enriching one.

It is ridiculous to expect teachers to deliver education in an environment like that experienced by Alex Dolan. Schools must be supported in imposing sanctions on unruly pupils who routinely disrupt the education of others. They should not be forced into swapping one disruptive influence for another, if they feel that this would be detrimental to the well-being of their staff and other pupils. At the risk of being politically incorrect, the current inclusion at all costs policy for downright abusive pupils within main stream education needs to be reviewed, we can’t allow the actions of the few to mar the experience of the many. At the moment it feels like we are failing them all.

It is going to be a tough job for our Head of Education and Innovation, and I know that I shouldn’t display a preference at the moment for an individual candidate, but the more I read about Dr V Rataj-Worsnop the more I am taken with her passion both for teaching and for the aspirations of young people. Have copied the following passage from her article “Spreading the news” hope she doesn’t mind.

I have been a teacher for 21 years and have taught the IB programme for well over a decade now, but I still feel humbled by the young people who choose to aim for the IB diploma. My personal target for 2002 is a 100 percent diploma pass rate with at least one 45-point diploma. Why not aim for the stars? As the poet Robert Browning once wrote, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.”

Can't help feeling the RB quote applies to us! Would love to have her views on the article about Alex Dolan’s experience?

Perhaps the next issue we should look at is butting out of the NHS?

Poll xx

PS apparently statistics is the science of producing unreliable facts from reliable figures. Am working on a few of my own!

PPS thanks so much for the dvd, so glad you got the singalong version, Robin is too!


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Chocolates for the Teacher?

Well Polly, I'm back home again in Little Uppity after a wonderful commune with nature in the Surrey Downs. Whilst my lifelong membership of The National Trust may amuse old soulmates from my Green CND days...was it really 25 years ago? I'd like to think that the added years brings an element of reflectiveness and that whilst I am growing old....I refuse to grow up! Did you get the DVD I sent you to advance your recovery?

The invigorating breeze and starlit constellations of the night sky did bring a certain clarity.....but I couldn't resist the urge to kick off my muddy boots, rush (barefoot?)to the shed and breathe in the intoxicating spirit of google in search of enlightenment.

The answers my friend, are not blowing in the wind! They lie in Switzerland. Land of chocolate. Did you know that teachers in Switzerland are paid oodles of Swiss francs (no doubt funded from the ample gold reserves of the Swiss Bank)...and rank number one best paid in the whole teaching world. But are they happy? Who cares...where is the UK in this ranking? I know statistics can be misleading and admittedly this information is a little out of date...let down by google and Orion's Belt I'm afraid. So I delved deeper...LOOK's as clear as Glastonbury mud, teaching salaries directly relate to both the quality of teaching and shortages in recruitment. So, please Polly, when Alvin and Evan eventually find some blogger to lend us a budget can we ensure that they address our educational spending as a % GDP as a priority? No 'pot to p#*s in' jokes please or I'll think I'm back at a green gathering!

I thought you would relish free analytical reign with these education statistics so I duly link them for your perusal as I found all those numbers a little daunting. See, I knew you'd love them...I feel another spreadsheet coming on? Whilst I'm sure there are some serious conclusions to be drawn from this data, I couldn't help but notice that 54% find school boring and in our Geographical Aptitude Test the UK ranked 126th out of 191 countries. I was astounded. At its height, The British Empire covered a sixth of the Earth's landmass...and we scored lower than Turkmenistan and Tuvalu...wherever they are? Well, I investigated the statistical basis for this finding to discover that our perceived geographical aptitude is based on the results of an on-line geography quiz game! So that's how we address the boredom factor in geography lessons. Ah yes...I did have a go..or two! I thought with my gap year interludes I could positively massage our rankings up the scale singlehandedly. It defeated me completely. Where in the world is Burkina Fasa, and should we be actively recruiting geography teachers by offering them fat salaries and a bar of 'Green and Blacks' Maya Gold? No international credit crunch in Switzerland they're good at maths too. Why is that? couldn't be the teaching could it? It must be the chocolate.
Nice to be home,
Love Ivor X
PS How's your meniscus? How many times have you watched Mama Mia now? Hoped you'd like it....Aunty Gladys said you would. She queued to get it at Woolies (just in time!)


Manifesto in the Making

Dear Polly,

It is chilly here at Tanners Hatch YHA, but Peter has kindly topped up my mulled wine and I've come outside to feel the wind in my whiskers. At a safe distance from the heart warming sounds of tin whistles, bodhrans and fireside harmonies, I'm not sure if it's the warm banter amongst kindly folk or the effect of the mushrooms...but I have had a sudden realisation that we are without manifesto.

We've been gayly blogging along, ranting here and musing there....and yet I fear that we have not been entirely clear in revealing the angle of our own political compass. I appreciate that it's early days and strategic direction does not seem to matter too much within British politics, but I feel it's important that we find some answers to our contemplations.

Bereft of google, I find myself studying Orion's Belt for inspiration, but in fact it was Paul (on fiddle) who passionately expounded on the merits of streaming. Then Mary rounded off the debate with a tirade on class size....she only took up the Clarsach harp to ensure a one-to-one ratio with her music teacher and a scholarship to a leading public school.

There was general consensus that every child matters and that educationalists deserve a handsome salary in order to attract and retain the talented. This, as Peter pointed out, would enable us to offload the poor performing teachers.

It was all getting rather heated so I slipped out to jot down a few thoughts on the back of my Ordnance Survey map. It's such a clear night sky, I'm hoping the cool breeze and another mulled wine will help shape my first draft of our manifesto....with a little help from my friends. Tonight Polly, the answers
are not to be found on google!

Peace, love and harmonies to all

Ivor X

PS Apologies to Sarah that Edwina got stuck in the rope swing....think she had been at my bottle of Fiddlers Elbow when my back was turned!


Friday, November 28, 2008

A Dog's Life

Going Youth Hostelling with Edwina....somewhere.

Cold Feet!

Dearest Ivor

Something’s cropped up, like cold feet! The weather forecast is hideous can’t we postpone the camping? The ceps will wait I’m sure, and although I believe it when you say some can have healing properties I think I’ll stick with the ibuprofen for now. Don’t forget Llangollen 1980, we wouldn’t want a repeat performance!!

Poll xx

Benji's missed one!

This globetrotting article from Benji Lanyado of The Guardian appeals to my wanderlustings...think he may need to travel into the arena of political blogs for a real winner. Do you think he knows of any a real-ale blogsites? It's becoming a blogging fellowship!
Ivor X

Blog Off Blears!


First things don't mention James. I have found his car keys in the inside pocket of my Afghan coat (me, nostalgic?). Should he wish to return my scooter preferably without adornments, I am happy to return them. Though I have chosen to withold the beermat with phone number for ransom in a belated effort to be responsible for his welfare. Should I be apologising again? Our wilderness weekend might be a touch frosty....but will do wonders for blowing away the cobwebs and clearing bleary eyes.

Talking Blears...I revel in the freedom of the blogosphere, I dance in the face of political diversity and I wilfully flaunt my libertine passions to all...or was that just last night? Get a life Hazel...even Bono has his light and dark side? I've heard that somewhere before.

In an effort to engender public interest in politics we should be actively embracing blogdom...isn't laptop politics better than complete disinterest? It is what WannabePM is all about....making it easy for the everyday blogger to present new views and legitimate protest.

I suspect there may be good reason why the British public don't venture out to polling booths in droves. Perhaps Hazel should read the article on how Obama used the net to rally support for 70 million. There's a lesson there that enough 'added value' for this political blog?

We are not all cynical and despairing, (though the word 'frustrated' comes to mind). We are just Joe Public trying to find a platform to be heard and blogging is a great democratic tool that allows multiple audiences freespeech. The internet can be a fantastic communication vehicle that connects and harnesses public feeling. Politicians just need to take their fingers out of their ears.

Sorry, I fear I have descended into an outburst of corrosive cynicism. In an effort to be neutral, I am reassured that Hazel recognises that ordinary people feel excluded and it is the poor and most vulnerable that are least likely to have democratic influence.

So how is it that Barack engaged whole comunities and won the hearts and minds of the young, of women and of minorities? Charisma aside, I suspect that the web campaign spearheaded the revival of American politics by filling the entire nation with a feeling of self worth and empowerment. Go on Hazel, be have Britain at your fingertips...isn't it time to get on with your blog?

As for power to the people...those Hockerill students are swaying the vote bigtime. Should I fire off an email to the Countdown Crew on Carol's behalf? In the interest of democracy of course?

Love Ivor X

PS Some advice from Reverend Danger to help with the packing quandary. I'm oiling the tandem.


Coming of Age

Dear Ivor

Your memory of our youthful antics is somewhat clouded by nostalgia! As no doubt your head is this morning.

You do have to be careful about keeping a lower profile, freedom of speech is not what it used to be, look at what has happened to Damian Green. There were warning signs that a Stalinesque style of government was creeping in. Hazel Blears has been rallying troops against the freedom to blog. Blaming “corrosive cynicism, fuelled by politically nihilistic blogs and a retreat from dispassionate reporting, is endangering British political discourse”. Perhaps the real reason that bloggers are taking to the keyboard in growing numbers is because…

"Sometimes people feel the political world is very far-removed from their everyday existence,", “There's something about the language we use... it's sometimes like a very closed world”. Said Hazel Blears

As a political community we have come of age and now expect our politicians to treat us as responsible adults, its right that they should be concerned for our welfare but actually we can cope with making decisions, hearing the truth and the odd nihilistic blog!

Poll x

PS To label your previous blog as CULTURE must contravene several codes of ethics!


Oggy! Oggy! Oggy!

Where are you Polly? James and I are neck and neck in the yard of ale, and I'm teaching him how to belt out 'Hymns and Arias' whilst striking the pose of a daffodil. He's playing away in Cardiff on Saturday, so thought in my capacity as responsible godfather, I should gird his loins with some tactical advice on not accepting bitter ale off any charitable Welshmen. He does however do a good Tom Jones turn on the karaoke...just like his Mum, but with his clothes on. We can only assume that you have lost The Firkin Point!! Trust me Polly, James is in good hands.
Oggy! Oggy! Oggy!
Ivor and Jimmy Boy XX
PS It was all going so well until the Cornish Pasties went airborne. So we also did the 'abject humiliation' bit several times, just for fun!
Oi! Oi! Oi!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Firkin Point

Dear Ivor

We work so much better together when there is a true meeting of minds, usually down the pub, sometimes cyberspace does get in the way of true debate! When we get voted in to the job-share PM arrangement, am going to introduce legislation banning email correspondence if you can see the recipient from your desk and the indiscriminate use of CCing will be punishable by loss of email access for a defined period, depending on the severity of the crime. Occasionally feel that we may confuse some of our followers with our meandering thoughts but hopefully it’s a learning process? After all “Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.” (GK Chesterton).

Luckily Robin is out tonight and James is back from uni so has offered to give me a lift. Shall we try The Firkin Point at 8pm?

Poll x

PS James wants to compare notes on the freshers’ rugby initiation ceremony, did tell him that your experience included abject humiliation as well!

Embrace the Three 'E''s

Sorry Polly,
Didn't mean to double-cross in the electronic mail arena. I embrace your delving into the environment and have booked us on a 'Wild Woods' weekend. Brush up on your mushroom recipes....and no 'toadschool' jokes please. We live to learn.
Think we should explore the three 'E's tonight, over a light ale...or four (numerically challenged remember?) Economy, Education and the Environment. Thinking caps on. Another mushroom quip, sorry!
Ivor X

A Sense of Perspective?

Dear Ivor

Think our emails yesterday crossed in cyber post! Either that or you had just had a home brew taster session?

My stumble into your area of environmental issues may have been a little clumsy but my intentions were honourable. However you are probably right perhaps I should stick to education!

We did manage to clarify a few matters last night at the Upping Arms and I am about to publish Poll’s poll for the Head of Education and Innovation. Our three runners are Dr Melvyn Kershaw ex head of Haybridge High School, Dr V Rataj-Worsnop head of Hockerill Anglo-European College and Carol Vorderman, just knew you would get the Welsh contingent in somehow! Perhaps we could have the Dragons as volunteer special advisers on the innovation bit. It might even stir Evan into some action?

David Blunkett is urging that everyone between the ages of 16-25 should do some voluntary work, sounds like another attempt to massage unemployment figures to me! Perhaps he should look at the figures from the Office of National Statistics which reports that nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of adults participated at least once in some form of volunteering. If that’s not a good role model for young people don’t know what is. According to Volunteering England the voluntary sector is estimated to be worth £40 billion a year to the economy, no wonder he wants more of us to volunteer! Am all in favour of community spirit and a sense of belonging and the boys’ schools and sports clubs have both borne the brunt of my committee skills! Without the infinite goodwill of a host of local volunteers the majority of sports clubs would not exist. However to say that this will help put things into perspective on "what's happening to them in other parts of their lives", like no jobs, increasing national debt and the prospect of a tax bill without end, is a little patronising. Mind you Robin did say that he already felt that he was doing enforced voluntary work for HM Treasury anyway!

Still with all those extra zeros to keep in check the government has had a bit of a recruitment drive in the last quarter and employed an extra 13,000 people, no doubt on final salary schemes. Its heart warming to know that at least one sector of the economy is expanding.

Unfortunately with the economic crisis in full swing the outrageous conditions in Zimbabwe are DR Congo are hardly hitting the headlines. There’s perspective for you!

Poll xx


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tail Wagging the Dog?


Is the tail wagging the dog? I have personally experienced how easy it is to be diverted by the latest news headline and go wandering off at a tangent. Who exactly is in charge? The media or the politicians? Focus, focus, focus. I am not diminishing the importance of the unfolding massacre in Mumbai, nor the newsworthiness of Woolies and credit crunch kittens , but whilst the environment will always be our number one priority, we must remain disciplined in our efforts to make good the British education system. Why is this such a struggle? I'm starting to realise that whilst every child is complicated issue! And your observation of what appears to be a disdain of academic elitism is right on the nose. I will come back to the 'Gifted and Talented' agenda right after I have conquered my own dyslexia with big numbers.

This TRILLION thing has disturbed me....what is a 'trillion'...what does it look like? Any old British blogger knows it's twelve zeros, and can freely converse in myriads for those Asiatic superpowers who may be blogging in. But what does it look like? How many paper aeroplanes are we talking about? (Lucky Geoff Hoon doesn't live in Thailand!) As a visual thinker I find this a challenging concept but lucky for me, a very clever man called Michael Blastland came to my rescue. I confess, he may know Evan Davies, but please don't hold that against him Polly. Michael explains that you can get 50, 000 pennies into a cubic foot and therefore:

''a trillion pennies would fill two St Paul's Cathedrals'' .

I feel so much better now. Shall I email him and ask him exactly how many Edmonton's Shadows I need to handfold in order to carpet and mulch Geoff Hoon's garden? It's sure to confuse and throw all plans for a third runway into disarray.

I do not have your head for numbers Polly, and I oppugn the flagrant brandishing of zeros willy-nilly by political statisticians. I can't help feeling they are toying with my mathematical inadequacies and it frightens and humiliates me. We everyday blokes don't like to admit our lack of understanding, so we pretend to understand and then disengage from the reality of the situation. We are baffled by scale, seduced by numerical promises and all sense of real comparison eludes us?

Blinded by this abuse of numbers, I sought clarity in a bottle of Grumpling Premium and a long walk with Edwina. I finished this fascinating article on 'The Numbers Game' with a clear head and a healthy dose of skepticism. What reassures me on the one hand and concerns me on the other, is that even the journalists reporting on the state of our economy don't have a clue either. Super. So we are all pretenders then aren't we? Therefore, it doesn't really matter who's wagging the tail afterall. Which brings us back to our original premise. If our politicians, economists and the journalists don't understand numbers, what the bl***y h*ll is wrong with our education and why are the rest of us frightened to stand up and be counted....we are clearly all numerically challenged and we should be wondering why. Of course I'm not referring to our Carol Voderman but it may explain our difficulty in nominating a Head of Education.
Which after much rambling brings me back to your point about academic elitism. I have laboured over the many documents spewing forth about maximising every child's potential. It seems that whilst many special needs are targetted in state schools, the bright kids get overlooked because of political correctness. It is worrying that India Knight believes the so-called educationalists are not up to their jobs and 'should be sacked.'Maybe that explains why we are struggling to find people for our new role. If she likes real ale too, she's my new nomination for Head of Education and Innovation. Although I admire Alex Dolan's you think she could work compatibly with India?
Isn't it about time that we all stopped googling inanely, penpushing and number-crunching and begin talking turkey, facing facts and take some common sense action, swiftly. Our state schooling is failing on every level but I suspect if we asked wannabe bloggers:
'What action would YOU take to kickstart our education system?'
the answers would be many and varied. I'm not sure I know the answer....not without another session at the Cock and Bull. Truth is, leading educationalists have not been allowed a platform to air their dirty washing without risking career and disgrace. How can we deal with a problem if we won't even acknowledge it exists. I applaud Alex Dolan's courage...I suspect many of us are not shocked. But how many of us are prepared to do something about it? Hmmph?
Talking of tail wagging, must feed Edwina and take some deep breaths.
A trillion times yours,
Ivor X


The Long and The Short of it.


If you are economically confused...I am truly in the soft and smelly. I tried to comprehend the level of debt via conventional channels. The Ten O'clock News made it simple for us tree-huggers and kindly explained ...'that's 12 zeros'. Now, that's much clearer, as I wasn't sure how many there were in a billion, let alone a trillion. Let's hope we are all speaking the same language in this international economic crisis. God forbid there might be some global misunderstanding along the way?
Must go, struggling with my Saberdarts are certainly 'technically backwards and unique' but I think I may be developing pilot's finger...only another zillion raptors to go. Anyone want to help pimp my mini-jet?
Much love,
Ivor X
PS Simply speaking, I suspect 'the long and the short' of our borrowing status it is that we are deeply in the RED....this universally understood colour is often used as a warning signal to indicate danger. Is this clear enough?

Paradox of Drift

Dear Ivor

Do you need a hand with the paper planes? Apparently those nice people at BAA have agreed to accept an independent body monitoring the volume of flights coming into Heathrow if it gets the go-ahead for a third runway. Although in the past they did agree that if they got a fifth terminal they wouldn’t ask for an additional runway. An oversight I’m sure and probably the planned sixth terminal is only a little shed serving the odd tea and coffee!

Now you have become a self-appointed honorary member of NOTRAG thought you might need a bit of background info. It is a fact that more people want to fly, according to the office of National Statistics numbers of passengers in UK airports has risen from 4 million in 1954 to 228 million in 2005 and is expected to reach 500 million in 2030. Was I must admit a little boggled by those numbers! It is also a fact that additional flights will have a detrimental affect on the global environment, even the government recognises this. So which argument wins the economy or the environment?

In the past we have adopted a spend now pay later attitude, encouraged by easy access to credit and a belief in the strength of our economy. Before you say it, I am not going to be pious about this, I too have succumbed to a bit of plastic swiping in my time. However the recent downturn has exposed the fragility of the global financial system. There were warning voices but these were ignored. With hind sight we can look back and heap blame on that bank, this government or personal greed. However we can learn from the mistakes and build a more sustainable system for the future.

The environment on the other hand does not provide second chances. The warning voices are there; Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace to name but a few. Are we going to adopt a fly now pay later attitude? If we default on the environment the foreclosure could be catastrophic.

Whilst in Googleland was wondering if politicians suffer from the paradox of drift, the more they look for answers the further away they get from the truth!

We must stay focussed, see you later.

Poll xx


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Join the Elite?

Dear Ivor

My goodness you have been busy!! I have not been ignoring you, my silence was due initially I must admit to shock, but that was overtaken by a technical hitch, rendering me incompatible with the internet. I did find myself missing the lack of intimacy with Google and realised that perhaps I did have some of the symptoms of Google mania, an increasing fondness for primary colours, irrational contempt for Yahoo and a gambler’s obsession with “I’m Feeling Lucky”. For two days faced with a gap in my knowledge I could no longer respond with “I’ll google it” followed by some frantic activity on the keyboard, “duw it’s hard” when you have to admit you don’t know!

Did follow your foray into the Sky News web chat on “Wossy” and although it may not have been your finest hour I have to admire your nerve. I did try a contribution of my own, “For god’s sake Ivor get off the air”, however it was blocked by the moderator, who obviously found your ramblings amusing.

I have apologised to Ian Hyland on your behalf, and received a more than magnanimous reply. Think you may have got away with it this time! His comment on air to you, although a little cryptic, was not as you thought a reference to a pint of Black and Tan but more of a cerebral observation! However to have been included in a sentence with Bono is, I must admit, quite a victory in itself.

Sky News web chat transcript: 12:51 Ian Hyland: Ivor and Polly, it is possible to save the world and discuss other things too. Even Bono likes a bit of light and shade.

Our profile has increased immeasurably, although possibly before you venture forth again into cyberspace we may have to consult a lawyer!

Don’t think that I too have not been working tirelessly for the cause, even without the assistance of electronic aids. My venture into education has taken another turn and I need you to have a clear head. Rein in your endorphins for once and engage your grey cells! Was listening to the radio (won’t mention the station, as am a bit fed up with the lack of response from Evan, he hasn’t even posted an item on his own blog since 27 October!), and they were discussing the demise of the 11-plus test in Northern Ireland. It got me thinking about academic selection. Why is academic ability viewed differently to sporting prowess or an aptitude for the arts? Am I sensing a little bit of discrimination? There appears to be no complaints of inequality when young people are selected on talent to attend a sports academy or drama school. However if you excel in academic subjects and go through a selection process to attend a more scholarly establishment it is elitism? What’s wrong with being academically clever, answer that one for me?

The environment must be at the top of our manifesto, after all where would we be without it? Spurned on by your campaign have included a link here to the petition page against the third runway at Heathrow for all our fellow bloggers to object.

Should I interpret from your previous post that the Lesser Spotted Boris Bird is now an endangered species? Does the charismatic Mrs Boris know?

Was as usual confused by the budget. Am I right in thinking that the government wants us to spend money now that we lent to the banks, but that they don’t want to lend back to us, in order to pay it back to the government later in the form of taxes, no doubt with interest? Do they think if they make the route complicated enough we won’t notice that all roads lead to the tax payer!

They are still avoiding the question of the public-sector pension liabilities just another odd trillion of debt. I know I mentioned this before but let’s face it “these are extraordinary times” and time to admit that roughly 80% of tax payers can barely fund their own pensions, let alone contribute further to the under funded final salary schemes of 5 million public sector workers. It’s not just me who thinks so. Look at these articles from Power to the people and the FT. Is this not creating a pension elite? This huge injustice needs sorting out now!

Poll xx

PS see you Weds at the Upping Arms at 8pm?


Bird Strikes

Oh Polly,
You must read Linda McCutcheon's letter regarding the 'Black Suited Dimwit'....made my whiskers tremble. I've started twitching over the Thames Estuary in search of the Lesser Spotted Boris Bird but to no avail. Ah Ha! Found him...let's hope the conclusions of his commissioned studies are not set in high-fired stone!
Wednesday at 'The Upping Arms''...are we speaking yet?
Ivor X

Monday, November 24, 2008

Climate Crunch

Dear Polly
Lately, I have been doing a lot of thinking in the shed (doghouse?)...and have put life a little more into perspective. The international economic crisis, whilst critical in many respects is really academic if we don't cut a global deal on saving the planet. Instead of writing a hundred lines on recycled paper in beetroot ink :
'Never again make silly suggestions on Sky News,
Never again make silly suggestions on Sky News,
Never again make silly suggestions on Sky News'
.....enough....I have been industriously making newspaper aeroplanes by the thousand. Stay with me Polly, it is rumoured that Geoff Hoon is on the brink of signing off the third runway at Heathrow. I thought that perhaps we, and a few of the lads from The Slightly Chequered, could lob dozens of these compostible aerofoils over his garden fence by means of peaceful demonstration. Elvis could make aeroplane noises too if he wanted? Wondered if we should drop a line to Geraldine at NOTRAG to show our support.

And where is Boris in all this? It makes a mockery of any serious attempts to address the ever apparent climatic challenges that are upon us. No one wants to fly anymore...we can't afford it for a start and nor can the planet. Don't do it Geoff! What do you think Polly...time for a revival of our 'Save the Whale' days? You know you want to? We need to be out there actively demonstrating....hang on a that Robin? You sly dogs....that's where you've been!

In my soul searching regarding our leadership campaign I can see how easy it is to lose the bigger picture. Let's face it, China, India, Russia are all growing into superpowers so it is critical that that we work towards international unity and adopt a collaborative approach to the key issue of global warming. The problem is...I'm not sure if we are and me that is! I'm not good with the silent treatment. I can't save the world single-handedly. When you and Robin have disentangled the bungee ropes from my scarf, could we all go for a drink?
Ivor X
PS You have to go one better, don't you.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sky's the Limit?

Dear Polly,
Please talk to me? I am truly repentant...and quietly drinking myself into an apologetic stupor. Even Edwina has got that look.
Yours Ivor X
PS Sky's the Limit?

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Can I come out of the shed yet?

Friday, November 21, 2008

This Once Great Nation...

Breaking News Polly!
Government ditches Prudence, and feel I too have given in to prudence. Whilst I should have been getting stuck into real issues surrounding the energy crisis, climate change and economic transformation...I found myself caught up in a last minute bid to save JR. I'm not proud. Wossy will not be sacked....but it's gone very silent on the BBC 'Jim'll Fix It' relaunch for Christmas. That may have something to do with a webchat moment that overcame me. I now see how fame goes to the heads of politicians. Ian Hyland's reply on Bono confused me...I thought he was referring to real ales (he's a Derbyshire man) and I made an off-the-cuff remark about Rudolph's Revenge. That one didn't go live...but I'm sorry to say several others did.

I hope Barry blogs on to Wannabe....I couldn't agree more with his comments, hence the title. Anyway, I've made my point loud and clear. It's time to put my media intervention to rest and move forward with a degree of humility. Still, it was funny at the time!
Ivor X
PS I will stay confined to my shed until things die down. Although there is an Arctic freeze heading this way for the weekend....button down the longjohns. Has Robin got the Max Boyce scarf that I swished?


Jonathan Ross Decision Countdown

Polly...can you believe it. The BBC are still dithering about Jonathan Ross. Didn't they get my email? Let's spell it out....are you listening Sir Michael Lyons of the BBC Trust?
  • Popular broadcaster gaffs big time.Ooops.
  • Listening public up in arms. Yikes.
  • Grandad understandably p***ed off. Ooops.
  • Apologies offered. Aaagh.
  • Punishment administered. Hooray.
  • Let's wait.....tum te tum....tum te tum...
  • Rebrand with new improved wholesome image. Mmmm?
  • Charitable, child-centred programme for Christmas. Mmmm?
  • Donate some/all of £6 million salary to charity. Hooray.
  • Forgiveness, peace and harmony. Yippee!

And the programme? Woss'll Fix It, of course!

Sir Michael, sorry to interrupt your critical meeting (there's another one going on in Washington today..nothing that won't wait though.) I'm hoping you might find the time to read this last-minute blog in your coffee break (Fairtrade I hope). Make the right decision please so we can all get back to minor diversions like averting global recession, tackling prostitution,DR Congo, climate change, honey rationing and Madge's divorce.
Seriously though, 'Good Luck Wossy'...if it all goes pear-shaped (Polly won't let me say 'T**s Up'), I'm sure we can find a role for you in the Wannabepm Crew. Not sure if the Environment is your metaphorical backpack...Repair, Recycle. Reuse...seems so cruel. But then under the circumstances? Fingers crossed.
Big Kisses
Ivor Dunmoaning
PS Education is clearly a no-go with the three 'R's. What about a short broadcast on the Economy 'Recession to Recovery'....don't mention the 'R' word?
Ohhh! Sorry, must reign in my uncontrollable endorphins!
Come out from behind the sofa of political correctness Polly...he knows I'm only joshing. Can't he take a joke?


Happiness comes...

In the words of Buddha:
Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others
Bloody benefits again! Can we ditch Galbraith?
Ivor X


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Be Very Afraid!

Oh Polly,

I have sniggered in wild abandon here reading your blog. And laughing is so good for the soul. Releases endorphins. Perhaps we should explore your concept of Happiness Lessons in school further? Personally I think we should offer out Melissa's advice to high school kids for them to take charge of their own positive thoughts...which options on the menu do you think they'll go for? Acupuncture, chocolate, horror films, a long run or...a very moving experience. None of the above? Mmmm tricky!

What a font of far flung information you are! I have a slight concern that the boredom of hospital food may have affected your mind. Are you descending into some all-consuming google mania? Is this predilection a health concern? Or are you simply delaying the inevitable return to Robin's frugality? As for Christmas, you needn't worry about Robin choosing unwisely as I've talked him out of the bottle recycled green gecko goblets, the willow making-course and suggested a more biblical offering. Perhaps you could get him a 100% hemp backpack to go with it ...literally.

Clearly 'glamping' in yurts holds irresistible appeal for British nature lovers, but not sure why you need a summer solstice as an excuse for 'dancing around the campfire in various stages of undress'. Alice should spend a weekend skinny dipping at C.A.T....that will certainly lift her organic spirits! I thought Robin would appreciate these top tips...although as I recall the question on most students' lips was how the f*** do you pronounce Machynlleth. That's where the indulgence in homebrew evolved. Ahh! The memories.

I may disappear offline for a while as I need to give clarity of focus to our communication strategy. Also, must press on with putting the finishing touches to the shed plans. This is a serious campaign driver, and whilst I agree with Pete May of The Guardian, that this is just the ticket for securing votes by the shedload...I do wonder if it's easier shed than done.

Just off in search of a red hot chilli pepper for a quick boost of natural euphoria and so that you don't feel left out here's an inspiring piece of music to stimulate your hospitalized endorphins....relax and enjoy! Got ya!

Don't you feel so much happier now...I know I do!!

Lots of love

Ivor X

PS Pressure's on...but take heart, we're not the only ones strapped for cash in our election it's open play if we WannabePM! I've found THE rousing campaign song to whoop up even more wannabe followers. I thought Doctor Mel and Robin would both like the spin on 'backpacks' (our metaphorical toolkit)...and I have a sneaky suspicion that LynnMarie has tripped out on happiness endorphins at several summer solstices. Perhaps this is the way to breakdown our middle-class image? I agree the American accent is an issue, do you think I should contact Max Boyce for a remix?
PPS Did you spot me in the C.A.T. photo?