Friday, September 30, 2005

Cash and cows

Kind and lovely White Llama readers: the Never Again fundraising drive
starts tomorrow: if you would like to make a donation please visit We are struggling to manage
all our projects as a network of volunteers, so the money raised will
allow us to have an office and a full time organiser, which in turn
will mean we can get many more wonderful projects off the ground in
Rwanda and globally.

Not trying to spread you too thinly, but I did also want to mention
that the Send a Cow Christmas catalogue is out now and it's as
gorgeous as ever. Give goats this Christmas!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Seditious libel: it's time for the swine to hit back

It's becoming clear that the government are becoming a bit sensitive these days. On Martin's blog he says it will soon be an offense to 'be offensive', while 82 year old Walter Wolfgang (a Quaker, hooray!) went one step too far by shouting Nonsense at Jack Straw yesterday.
It's all getting a bit like the 1790s and, as then, the only useful response is to be as offensive as possible and, preferably, to ridicule those in power. This is vital if we are to hold onto our freedoms. Here are some things you could usefully do:
- shout Nonsense! every time you see an MP
- write to your MP, dropping in offensive remarks about their parentage
- create large posters, in the old style, with your favourite politicians photoshopped into pigs and anti-semitic characatures (oh, Labour already did that)
- write offensive letters to right-wing newspapers, subtly worded as Outraged Reader Engulfed and report the editors to the police if they print them
- Mutter offensive words under your breath and then look innocent when people look at you
- Put up posters saying Bullets Not Ballots on Polling Day (but don't let anyone see you, policeman cary guns these days, you know)
- If you have a bit of holiday time you can take, try any of the following to see if you get locked up: say some really offensive things about the poor, justify terrorism for all sorts of trivial reasons, insult kittens, smell very bad, write rude words on political documents
- make a mockery of the entire political system however you can, accepting that whatever you do will have little real impact on the governance of this country for at least the next thirty years or until we all drown.

More suggestions welcome and there's at least one reader of this blog who can really make a mark with some of this, but I wouldn't want her to lose her parliamentary pass...

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Pride and excitement

Pride and Prejudice has been keeping me inspired for days. Some films make me walk a bit taller afterwards: this one seemed to have beauty and love and energy all wrapped up in a world that just cannot exist in reality (except maybe in New York).

Such films make me want to make more effort to look fabulous, to work harder, to make films, to create something that will be as inspiring as a gorgeous love story. Some of which might translate into action. After a fairly dire summer at the cinema, it's good to feel like that after a film again.

Arnold Bennett (whose diary I'm still reading) felt similar about Charles Wyndham, who made him 'insanely inspired' every time he was in a play. Arnold was always considering taking on the life of people he admired.

Chloe is going to see it tonight, but she's nervous about Keira Knightley. Personally I like her, but any of her failings are more than made up for by Matthew MacFadyen and the set, which includes an appearance by the Peak District, where I have been, but it didn't look as nice as it does here. Perhaps she will tell us what she thought of it afterwards?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Musings from the train

My 360 mile a day commute across Britain means I can speak authoritatively about the British countryside, or at least the bit between London and Stoke-on-Trent. And there are two inescapable conclusions to be made:
First of all, the countryside is very beautiful. Second, there are lots of empty fields.

But, Britain has many conflicting features.
1. The British are, relatively, very rich.
2. We work too hard and moan too much about our minor problems
3. We don't have enough houses so those who have them are rich without really deserving it and this doesn't stop them working incredibly long hours alongside everyone else.
4. Our farmers are (a) taking all the EU cash, (b) dumping their surplus on people who don't want it, (c) killing the rainforest by growing vast amounts of soya to feed cows and (d) moaning all the time, rather like the wealthy homeowners
5. We don't eat very well

My solution to all this lies in one little animal: the chicken.

It is my proposal to fill Britain with vast amounts of free range chickens, which would feed the nation and alleviate our dependence on beef. Chickens can live in most types of land, eat anything and even live amongst cows, if you must.

When we have enough chickens, we start giving some of the fields over to houses. I'm all for the countryside, but Britain has plenty of room for more pretty, well designed little village type estates with greens and, for good measure (this is my vision) a fabulous local train network connecting them all. The farmers get the money for their land and then they'll just have to get on with it on their own, for the first time.

Other land would be given over to the continuing projects to revive our forests and wetlands, leading to part three of my cunning plan: to free the British worker from his slavery and get him out being a tourist. Walking in the fields (for nobody is scared of a chicken), trailing through the forests, spending money in the bars, teashops and patisseries of New Britain. Still, I expect, heading for their clone towns on a regular basis but I’ve lived without a Starbucks for long enough, I miss Clonetown! Flying around the world, spending their riches and earning money through happier pursuits such as running teashops, herding chickens and providing local services and trains. Hard office graft will still continue - though most of it will have gone to India, that's just the way things are - but employers will enforce proper hours, holidays and a more productive working ethos with more people employed, instead of less people overworked, and more imagination being released with regular time out of the office helping with conservation of the forests and wetlands.

Oh, and children will be bought up on free range chicken and they will be healthier. Sorted.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Thank you, but we¹re full

(this honestly isn’t an ungrateful post, just an observation, for anyone who might be reading that it might relate to)

Moving into our first house, we have been completely deluged by Stuff.
I was using my parent’s house as a store, but having been gently
reminded that they want their house back (and after nearly 25 years, who can
blame them?), we've really started taking the hit.
I in no way want to sound ungrateful for any of it because I really do appreciate it. That’s  the problem: it’s not in my nature to say no to free Stuff. I share the collective memory of first house-buying meaning no money and no possessions, of building large storage structures from teacrates and making do with a couple of battered cups.
It now seems that this memory is packed away and passed onto the next first-homers. Modern kids, however, are never short of possessions and now we have a house full of boxes with few places to put the contents and therefore no real way of using them. It is very kind, but the time will soon come when I will need to talk about the wonders of Ebay in a more pointed way. Don’t pass on, profit!
The only solution I can see is to wrap everything up and send it all on to the next needy person. I wonder if Jess needs any teacups for her new condo?

Monday, September 19, 2005

New shoes! To get excited about!

I finally managed to break through the men's shoe barrier.

Spurred on by an article in the FT about how fashionable men's clothes are for women, I summoned up my post-feminist courage into my hands and tried on some very fetching Lambretta shoes. Now they are mine. I love them.

I might become a shoe fan yet.

Bursley blues

Inspired by Arnold Bennett, I'm restarting the blog. Yes, again. If he could manage to write a million journal words as well as hundreds of books of varying quality then so can I, even if my Treo is temperamental and I've managed to lose just about every vital element of it.
Arnold, for those who don't know, is the man who made my adopted town, Burslem, world famous for a few decades at the beginning of last century. Looking at Burslem under his influence brings very mixed emotions. It still doesn't take much to imagine a unique place, filled with bottle ovens and covered with black smoke, producing from this soup some of the most sought after pottery in the world. You imagine a place of purpose, creativity and convivial drinking. Now only the latter remains.
An ambitious plan to pedestrianise was, when I went to a consultation on Friday, being torn to shreds with a variety of bizarre objections, including the assumption that it would lead to child snatching. This was even before those that are used to having Burslem as a main road had got their 4x4 paws on it.
The parks may be looking better than ever, the monstrosity Unity House - Stoke's only skyscraper which was abandoned for thirty years - may at last be coming down, but a pervasive sense of suspicion and division is keeping the city stuck in an ugly depression. I just hope the people patiently trying to improve it keep going.