Spoilt for Choice

December 12. The UK’s next General Election. How should I vote?, my wife asks. I don’t say anything. For one thing, she should think it through for herself. For another, how should I know?

Running through the candidates from last time, what are my options?

#1, Conservative. John Glen won the Salisbury seat last time out, quite safely. I’m in one of the safest Conservative seats in the country! I can’t vote Conservative. I’ve never voted for them, and anyway in the last few years I’ve seen for myself how badly things like the NHS, local government, disability benefits work, all of which are under their control.

#2, Labour. Actually, I don’t mind Jeremy Corbyn. I certainly don’t fear him. But I do fear the people around him and behind him, and he can’t do it all himself. Do you remember Brett Kavanaugh? US readers will. He was Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, who was very publicly accused of sexual assault in front of the Senate Judicial Committee. I noticed at the time that Kavanaugh denied the allegations, so I thought there might be some kind of arrest and trial. Talking to Labour Party members at the time, they’d have quite happily hung, drawn and quartered him there and then. Not even a hint of due process. That scares me.

I remember also debating with Labour members on another occasion, this time about Brexit. For being pro-Brexit, I was vilified. Forget that Michael Foot was against the EU. Foot once rose to the very top of the Labour Party, but his view is now vilified. Or Tony Benn, who lost the Deputy Leader election by less than 1%. We only lost Benn in 2014, but his view is vilified. So that intolerance, too, scares me.

Allegations of anti-semitism have dogged the Labour Party for years, and I wrote a post on here even asking what Corbynistas could do. They can take it seriously, for a start. They can look at Jewish MPs beying hounded out of their constituencies and can say that it isn’t acceptable.

So, in summary, if I were to vote Labour, I’m scared of what I’d actually get.

Last time around, the Liberal Democrats came in at #3. I’m afraid I have a fundamental problem with the Liberal Democrats. We had a plebiscite in 2016 which decided X, and the one thing that the Liberal Democrats have promised is that they will ignore X. So if they get into power, what other votes are they going to ignore?

#4 was UKIP. UK independence Party. What nonsense! These guys are further to the right even than the Conservatives. In Salisbury, they received just 2% of the vote, and a similar number nationally. Thank Goodness.

#5 was the Green Party. In fact, that was where my vote went in 2017. I can still support them on a number of issues, but unfortunately they fall into the same hole as the Liberals. If I vote for a party with a policy to ignore votes, where will I end up?

There was one last entrant. Unfortunately I have no idea who Arthur Pendragon is, beyond having a nifty name. But that’s the trouble with Independents – the name appears on the ballot paper, but you have no idea what the values are.

So where does that leave me? Well, it doesn’t really leave me anywhere. I get a postal vote nowadays because of my disability, but have determined to spoil my ballot. Another option would be just not to vote at all, but I don’t want my non-vote to be interpreted as apathy, because the last thing I am is apathetic.

I suppose there is one last option. If I can’t lend my support to anybody, I could stand myself. But why should I? I have no wish to represent anybody, and it doesn’t really bother me whether other people share my views, I’m not out to convince anyone of anything. Plus, I already talked about the difficulty of an independent candidate putting their views across. So thanks, but I’ll sit this one out.

So that’s my plan – to vote for none of the above.

Today’s Quote

I mostly like my quote of the day. I’ve talked before about my little breatfast gems. But, on this one, I don’t agree.

Rather than changing the way I think about something (or someone, for that matter), I think there is a time to cut and run.

Soul Gatherings

If you don’t like something, change it;
if you can’t change it,
change the way you think about it.

~ Mary Engelbreit ~
____________

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Fandango’s Provocative Question (30 October 2019)

We’re at Wednesday again, and Fandango has posted another Provocative Question, where he asks us to ponder an issue each week. This week, he’s asking whether the phone call has become obsolete.

At the outset, I have to say that I don’t have a clear-cut answer. I read about Fandango’s own use of phones and it is quite similar to my own. Hardly makes any, hardly receives any, and very judicious about the calls he does and doesn’t take. All those things apply to me too, with the added twist that for 90% of my online activity, I use a traditional Windows laptop. No phone was even remotely involved in the creation of this post.

So, just considering my own scenario, I can agree that yes, phones calls are way past their prime. But I can think of two examples to the contrary.

Last night, I picked up the phone to wish my aunt a Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday, Auntie Margaret. She has a mobile phone, but has never even used a computer. So whilst I guess a text message is an option, the internet certainly isn’t. As it happens, neither of us are big users of text messages.

Also, I did my telephone volunteering session yesterday afternoon. By definition, that is using the phone to speak to people. Some of the clients view the telephone as just another method of communication, but some of them only have the phone. It’s quite scary, when I myself use computers so much. But nevertheless, true. I think nothing of looking up the movies at the cinema, or what time the next bus goes, but for them, it isn’t an option.

The one thing my auntie and my clients have in common is age. My auntie is almost eighty and my clients typically range from seventies to nineties. So, perhaps it is a generational thing?

Probably. A lot of people think that the computer is going to meltdown when they hit the wrong button. When I hit the wrong button, I tend to blame the program, for not making it obvious which button I was meant to press. So, a whole different perspective. But I can think of an example which even shoots down my age-related argument.

My daughter is twenty. She’s quite close to my wife, but not to me. They both have Apple tech. They use Facetime video quite a bit to speak to each other. As you might guess, my daughter is remote. Thank goodness!

But there are also a surprisingly large amount of voice calls mixed in. (My daughter will usually want to speak to my wife two or three times per day. It seems weird that somebody should be that dependent, but there we go. I’m a cold fish.)

I mean, my daughter is different to me. I have a landline, used mostly now for internet, and regard my cellphone as something I must remember to take out with me. She, on the other hand, does everything though her cellphone. So, there might well be a discussion to be had on whether the landline has become obsolete. But fundamentally, she still relies on that voice communication, and at least fifty years younger than my other example.

Running Scarce

Tea, best drink of the day. Or, so the UK advert went. And I agree, enjoying several cups per day. I’m not sure I’m up into double figures, but it’s close!

I also try to avoid using plastic where I can. I’ve tried loose-leaf tea, but my wife has banned it because of the mess I make. So, I look for plastic-free tea bags. It’s not as easy as you’d think.

I know before I start that this is small-fry, but I’m going to post anyway.

A whole brand has formed around Yorkshire Tea. Several different varieties. Is Yorkshire Tea meant to be a tad stronger than Somewhere-else Tea? I’m not sure. They have pages on their web site about how their tea should be biodegradable soon. Please. Don’t bother telling me what you will do, tell me what you have done.

Biodegradable tea bags, in the UK, has traditionally meant designer tea bags. So I was very happy, last year, when a supermarket brand, PG Tips, announced that they were starting to use fully-biodegradable bags, as you see from the graphic.

PG Tips make their tea bags in several sizes (i.e. the number of bags per box) and this logo only appeared on one size. No matter, that size was easy enough to obtain. I figured that a brand like PG Tips (which is owned by Unilever) is so big they probably have one factory per box size, and only one factory had been converted to make fully-biodegradable tea bags.

I mean, this really was the ideal situation. The tea tasted decent enough, the bags were good, and the price was the standard supermarket price.

Until a few months ago, when I noticed that this size box was no longer on supermarket shelves. Neither was it on their web site.

So I contacted PG Tips. They might have dropped that particular size, but to my relief three out of the four remaining sizes are still biodegradable. What they have done, however, is to drop the logo. There is no mention whatever that their products are biodegradable.

I think they’re missing a trick here. If I go online, I can see biograbable tea bags from my local health food shop, but at 10x the price. There is a premium attached to them, so when one player enters into the market and is offering to sell them that much cheaper, it is something to shout about.

Or, maybe I’m one of only a few to be asking fo biodegradable bags – I’m probably more conscious than most – but I surely can’t be the only one to want them? Am I really the last of the tea drinkers?

Tick Tock Tuesday (29 October 2019) – Reggae

I thought I’d create a new challenge. It is a challenge primarily for me, because I’m new to this platform, and because you don’t really know me yet, nor I you. As my name suggests, I am recovering from a stroke, and I like to push myself in all kinds of little ways… including getting to know the Wonderful World of WordPress. Although this is something I will be doing, I invite you, if this idea takes your fancy, to play along with me and share with me some of your own selections.

My plan is: each Tuesday, until I run dry, I shall post some piece of art with which I have some connection – which has helped to mould me, which makes me tick. Okay, a piece of art is a bit vague – it might be a piece of music, a movie, a book, a painting, or ???? – so my phrasiology is deliberate. It might be anything – I will play this post by ear, so I’m not sure what I’ll think of each week. And, I’ll keep posting on the theme weekly until I run out of ideas.

My rules? Well, I’m not big on rules! My choice will be something with which I feel a connection. That’ll be the important thing, just having some kind of fleeting affection for something probably won’t be enough, unless I’m using my choice as an example of something bigger.

It will be one choice per week – I’m aware that long posts can be quite onerous to read, and I’m in no hurry to complete this so if I have two ideas, I’ll probably hold the second until the next week.

In that same vein, I’ve created this block as a Reusable Block, which I intend repeating for every post on this theme. The block ends with a full-width separator, so if you want to skip ahead each week it doesn’t really matter.

I probably won’t post any lyrics, or any kind of analysis – if you like my choice, the information will be out there for you. But I will try to briefly explain why I feel a connection to my choice, just to try and enhance readers’ understanding of what makes me tick.

I will tag my posts TTT and I will go looking for other posts with that tag. If you’d like to join in, please do the same, or comment, or pingback to this post, and feel free to reproduce my graphic. Lastly, I look forward to reading about what makes you tick.


I mentioned last week about how Bob Marley started me off listening to all sorts of reggae music, and of course it is by no means all as solemn as last week’s choice.

I was fortunate, living just outside London. There was a massive reggae scene in London. probably still is. So I had good access to reggae music, and one artist who quickly became a favourite was Maxi Priest. More from Maxi another day. Another band who came on the radar was Aswad. It took a while for them to register, because they were enjoying chart success at the time, and I never particularly liked their poppy music. In fact, two of the original band still play together as Aswad today – heaven knows what music they play, but they have a big enough choice!

So Aswad were accessible to me, making music at the same time as I was consuming it, and I got to know their back-catalog. It ticked all the right boxes – equality, social deprevation, and so on. They hailed from an area of west London that I knew well, sang about areas of London that I knew… And, over time, they settled into that small group of favourite bands.

So my choice today is from Aswad, but I shall stay true to myself and avoid the chart hits. My choice today is earlier and a little more upbeat, probably about as positive as they come – I challenge you to sit still while this is playing! Irie can just be translated as happy, everything else you will be able to guess.