Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Bercow Review.

In the event of twitter not this time being the best medium to reply to a tweet, it seems a short blog in response to a tweet from @PubeckPashmina is in order, so here goes..

Regarding The Bercow Review:   (I lifted this straight out of Wikipedia, more or less.)

In 2008, John Bercow was asked by Labour Cabinet members Ed Balls and Alan Johnson to produce a substantial review of children and families affected by speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).
After the report, the government pledged £52 million to raise the profile of SLCN within the education field.
The review looks at the extreme consequences that communication problems can lead to – from initial frustration at not being able to express oneself, to bullying or being bullied at school, fewer job prospects and even the descent into criminality.
The interim report highlighted a number of core issues: that speech, language and communication are not only essential life skills but fundamental human rights; that early identification of problems and intervention is important to avoid social problems later on; and that the current system of treatment is patchy, i.e. there is a need for services to be continually provided for children and families from an early age.

Doesn't seem all that controversial to me,  in fact seems exactly what is needed, but suspect it has long since sunk without trace.

Regarding the breakfast telly interview yesterday:

I think the Bercows' did a stirling job in the face of a poor and ill-informed interviewer who was obviously dumbing down a potentially difficult interview about a very complex subject.  Mind you, it was a bit early in the morning for that sort of discussion.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

email to elizabeth11@buckhouse.co.uk.....

Hi Queen,

Appalingly late getting this written I'm afraid, I've had a bit of a troublesome few weeks and I ought to say, anyone who knows me is aware of my opinions concerning the monarchy. So sorry Ma’am, it’s nothing personal and I’m sure you are a lovely and gracious lady. It’s just that whole Citizen or Subject thing that bothers me and I do realise that it is just terribly unfortunate that you remind me of my mother in law, in several ways.

The extra days holiday you granted us for the Jubilee was very much appreciated, unfortunately it resulted in a Sunday service on the buses. We don't have a car which means we weren’t able to get out and about for three days as a Sunday bus service where we live means one bus out at around lunch time and one bus back at tea time but hey, the weather was not up to much anyway.

The street party idea didn’t really take off here either. There was a brave effort just round the corner from us. Four houses festooned themselves with a couple of strings on bunting, a couple of Union flags, a couple of Welsh flags and then fenced themselves off from the rest of the street with orange plastic stuff. I’m sure they all had a wonderful time, there was certainly a lot of screaming and shouting coming from that direction and the local dogs had a fine old time ripping open the resulting black plastic sacks and spreading the contents all over the neighbourhood. Such fun!

Of course, we have followed all the events put on in London to celebrate your 60 years on the throne on our brand new second hand 42” plasma TV. The river pageant was spectacular, your Royal Barge was magnificent. With hindsight, the facilities might have been a little more convenient for some of the more elderly members of your family, but we live and learn. The concert in the road outside Buckingham Palace could not be faulted. From our Welsh perspective, Sir Tom Jones was by far the best turn, with Dame Shirley a close second. I suppose I should say that the Australians put in a good effort too. Spectacular fireworks for the finale, couldn’t have been better. I bet there were dogs cowering under stairs and behind settees all over London. I do hope you made sure the corgis were kept indoors.

Of course this isn’t the first jubilee I’ve experienced, I was even at your coronation, I experienced that as a toddler from the vantage point of my fathers shoulders. June 6th 1953, Hilary and Tensing made it to the top of Everest, I saw you riding in a golden carriage pulled buy six grey horses. One of my earliest memories. To be honest, it was the smell of a damp and excited crowd and my dad buying a Daily Telegraph that was printed in gold that are the strongest memories. I also had a cardboard cut out of the coach and horses which I would push around the kitchen table much to the annoyance of my grandfather who had little time for anybody, least of all a three year old granddaughter with a head full of Kings and Queens and Princes and Princesses. Unfortunately he was unable to give me a convincing answer to my most burning question which was why wasn't there a Prince being crowned as King since you were married to a Prince? I worked it all out for myself in the end, but to a three year old who wouldn't stop asking difficult questions that was very perplexing. The cardboard cut-out is long gone, as is my grandfather. The gold edition of the Daily Telegraph still exists in a draw somewhere in our house. By the time I got to junior school Kings and Queens were pictures on playing cards and Princes and Princesses were characters in fairy tales and tiresome characters at that. No offence mean't ma'am, I am sure your own princes and princesses are all quite charming.

Twenty-five years later, June 7th 1977. Silver Jubilee. On the big day that year I was to be found upstairs from my shop, seated at my bureau in my living room making a stab at my VAT returns which were almost certainly late. My partners youngest brother was staying with us and was in what we liked to call the music room at the top of the house playing God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols very loudly on the Hi Fi. My partner was in the back yard in the pouring rain trying to explain to our neighbour that her many, many recordings of Richard Strauss’s Viennese Waltzes were seeping into our part of the building several decibels in advance of anything the Sex Pistols could manage. His efforts were being hampered by the cacophony emanating from inside the building and the rain battering down onto the tin roof of the lean-to. The fact that the neighbour was stone deaf and hanging out of a 2nd floor window did not help. The Street Party we were to attend was cancelled due to reasons you may have already gleaned. We went to the cinema. The film was Car Wash. If you need your spirits lifted Ma’am, I can recommend it.

Well, the twenty-five years between the Silver and the Golden jubilee were quite eventful for both of us on the family front weren’t they? Births, deaths, divorces and marriages, not necessarily in that order. On balance, you probably had it worst than me, if only because every family event you have seems to involve vast numbers of military types riding horses up and down and firing guns into the air. Got to hand it to you, I know I wouldn’t be able to cope with that amount of attention at times when all you really need is your family and if they are not up to scratch, a good friend. Sometime during that twenty-five years I got married in a registry office tucked between a gasworks and a mortuary in deepest Gloucestershire, there was no family and the two witnesses doubled as guests. The one thing about the day that is anywhere close to anything you would have experienced was the rain. Divorces are always hell, the law getting caught up with raw emotion, let’s not go there. Deaths are inevitable, let’s not go there either. Births, well, usually a cause for celebration. I guess it makes no difference if kids are born into privilege of poverty, you’re always going to worry about them and they are always going to do something you disapprove of and will doubtless cause embarrassment whether it’s at Asda or Ascot.

I have to admit that your Golden jubilee passed me by. June would have been the month I was busy dealing with the problems of transition from school to college for our eldest daughter. She’s autistic so leaving the school she had been attending since the age of seven was going to be tricky. It wasn’t going to happen for another year but we wanted to start early. Eighteen months of meetings with well intentioned people from social services and frankly naive people from education led to two years of hell for our eldest and meant, I’m ashamed to say, that our youngest was left to her own devises while we concentrated on that. I’m pleased to say no damage was done and youngest went on to be a brilliant student who moved on to do English Lit. at university and now lives and works in London, a totally independant young woman. As I write this letter she will be preparing for her annual trip to Dorset for the Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival with fellow trade unionists. Sorry Ma'am, but she like me, could not exactly be called a royalist, in fact her views on ostentatious inherited wealth are quite radical. I put it down to her love of folk music and living south of the river, parts of SE8 have an interesting history. Eldest is still here with us, she won’t be moving on for a few years yet, especially now that your majesties government seems to be hell bent on making life a little more difficult for the sick and disabled and those who care for them. But I digress, the golden jubilee.. no, sorry but I can’t seem to bring a single event to mind. Excuse me a moment Ma'am, there is someone knocking at the door.

I do wish these door knocking people would find a better way of introducing themselves when the door is opened than by insisting that there is nothing to worry about! They must think I was born yesterday! Of course there is something to worry about, they are going to try and sell me something I've already got! I'm on the internet, I do regular price comparisons. I've got the best deal you could possibly have on phones, mobile and landline, broadband, gas and electricity! I might listen if someone came round with a cheaper water option but that's not likely! Sorry Ma'am, doubtless you have never encountered this sub-species which blights residential areas usually deemed to be low income, scaring people into signing contracts they don't want or need by telling them there is nothing to worry about!

As I was saying Ma'am, can't remember a damned thing about your Golden Jubilee but I'm guessing the nation had a day off, I'm also guessing that it rained that day too since that seems to be a feature of your Jubilees. That must really annoy you, one of the richest women in the world and you have to put up with the weather making a nuisance of itself on important royal occasions. On the up side, at least you don't have to stand about waiting for busses in the rain like a lot of your less affluent contemporaries.

So what's next, any forward planning for the Platinum jubilee? Suppose it is a given that we will all get a day off and it will pour with rain. Another ten years might push some of the current celebrities and entertainers we saw at this years Jubilee concert just a tad over the hill, but then celebrity or plebeian (if we can be such a thing under a monarchy) we're not nearly as well looked after as you are and I fully expect to see you at the next jubilee. This year's Jubilee left me with a strange taste in my mouth, not a bad taste, but a strange one nonetheless and I wonder if you have any idea how difficult it is for people at the bottom of the heap these days. The disadvantaged, the disillusioned and displaced, even the downright disinterested. More and more people, every day having to struggle to get by and I wonder if you Ma'am, have any idea how hard that can be. I don't think you do. I don't think there is any way you could possibly understand what it is like not to have the trappings of royalty on hand all the time. Do you do your own washing, make your own bed, cook all your own meals, make your own tea, do your own cleaning, dusting and hoovering? Is your annual holiday a fortnight in a caravan at Tenby? Do you try and feed yourself and your husband for less than £40.00 a week? Have you any idea how much a decent loaf of bread costs? Sorry Ma'am, got a bit carried away there, it's inclined to happen more and more these days I'm afraid. If it is any consolation, my husband was livid when he heard they were doing away with the Royal Yacht, I don't think he knows about the price hike for using the No32 (The Royal) Squadron yet. Let's hope nothing goes too amiss with the Royal Train!

Anyway, have to close now, dustmen are due in the morning and I've got to sort out the recycling, don't you just hate doing that, I still can't work our which bag to put the padded envelopes in, and what do you do with crisp packets, it's a complete mystery to me. All the best to your family, look after yourself now.

Kind Regards,