Thursday, 30 August 2012

Democracy and Tim Farron's Career on the line

With the e-petition for the West Coast Train line petition now standing at 164,000 with no result, the public must be getting fed up, deeply frustrated and fiercely cynical.

100,000 was supposed to trigger off a debate in Parliament, but of course there is no Parliament - they are on holiday.

Tim Farron makes out he can do nothing other than point out that the public isn't happy.

This, on top of the student fees debacle, could be the nail in the coffin for Tim Farron's career. He appears to believe that he can survive while sitting on the fence - no chance. This is an instance where the government have definitely got it wrong.

I'm finding that many of my calm rational friends are convinced that there is something crooked going on in the offices of the Department of Transport.

They see Richard Bransom as a good guy with the interests of the public at heart. We know that both the public and the people who work for him are behind the excellent service that has been provided on the West Coast Line.

We are now asking ourselves what do we have to do next for common sense to survive.

We are extremely angry. Some way out action is called for. What. All it needs is for someone to suggest something

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Clarinet for sale

As a would be clarinet player I immediately noticed the on on sale in the window of Cancer Relief next to Murray's Chemist. As the price Of £65 seemed very reasonable and others may be thinking of buying it, I asked to play it, using my mouth piece and reed. I also took along my clarinet so as to compare the sound.

The volunteer had no problem with my request but her supervisor refused me permission to record the sound so that you could hear the two side by side.

The clarinet looked in good condition with what I take to be an ebony body and seemed in very good condition . What I found was that I couldn't get a note out of over half of the notes. The ones that played compared favourably with my own clarinet which is worth far far more than this one.

My limited knowledge as to why clarinet notes don't play suggested that there are some of the pads that leak air so that some of the notes need new pads: it could even be just one. We in Ulverston are fortunate enough to have a skilled repairer who can do this kind of work - David Kyle - email david at - phone 01229 480060. If I was going to buy this clarinet I would want to take it to David so that he could look at it and give his opinion as to how much it would cost to put it right.

Overall this clarinet seems to be a good one. However it's great that we have the expertise available locally to advise us as to whether it is worth going any further.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Making sense of the world

This I believe is everyone's cherished dream. We all want to understand - everything.

It provides us with security. We believe we understand what to expect in the future; the actions of other humans ; the actions of nature.

Slowly 'things' are dropping into place so that I am moving towards this goal - and it feels good.

The person that has helped me most is John Gray a very insightful philosopher. It's always good when you find someone who not only thinks what you have thought for a while but takes these thoughts a lot further.

We all learn what we want to  so what I have learn and helps me no end is that everyone , but yes every one is totally selfish.

This isn't as bad as it sounds because a lot of us - perhaps most - act so that they like themselves and secondly are liked by others. I can see it being true of myself and haven't found anyone else that this way of interpreting their actions doesn't fit.

And why do I write this kind of stuff when so few people write anything? Well I believe the statistics generated by Google Analytics which tells me that over the past year or so - possibly more there are in the range of 400 to 450 readers of this stuff and in the region of 225 are regular visitors every month. I then conclude that even though I don't know who all these people are, they are intrigued enough to find out - for whatever reason - what I write. It then follows that this is a way of communicating with people who know me in some way and that their thinking is to some degree in agreement or tolerant or otherwise why would they object either here on the blog or in some other way.

Thus I get great satisfaction from having an outlet for my thoughts and have the hope that in the future we will have the opportunity to communicate more fully, face to face. Then I will have someone who knows in a small way how I think and can say things that are relevant.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

They are only stupid exam results

People's lives are ridiculously affected by the high value given to exam results yet in only ten years time they will be irrelevant.

The trouble, as usual, is that people don't stop and think. They get persuaded by a popular myth, held by millions of people, and as a result their lives become dictated by it because they allow their self-opinion to be influenced by this warped thinking.

The same type of thinking exists regarding the value of money.

If you get loads of money, all your problems will be solved.

If you get really good exam results, all your problems are solved.

Duh! Do you learn anything from the Simpsons. Do you learn anything from in depth documentaries like the series of seven year programs which followed people every seven years from the age of seven. By the time the program reached 35 we found that those that had followed a smooth climb to their desired goal, suddenly woke up to find themselves in cosy jobs and marriages but they weren't happy; they had never stopped to question what was important to them and realised they wanted to ditch everything they had achieved and start all over again. This put a phenomenal strain on all their relationships and their own self esteem - they became shattered useless humans for a time. Meanwhile we discovered a tear away, streetwise kid at 14 had followed his gut instincts, ignored school- became a wizz at calculating betting odds - became a jockey and had a hard life initially but one that totally satisfied him, now apparently having joined the 'successful' with a second home.

Contrast - someone who stops and thinks and one who just follows the crowd/culture - a load of questionable myths.

Stand back a little and look at the world around and try to think objectively and maybe you'll be able to see though all the hype of why it's important to do so well in exams. Perhaps it's only important because everyone else believes the same. You may in fact be ahead of 'the game' if exams results are disregarded.

You may even thank the day when you found that you didn't qualify for that place at university but instead went on a world tour and lived off your wits. These are the people that I'm privileged to mix with here in Ulverston - people at forty to sixty who are having the times of their lives and loving every minute of a life 'on the edge' after a time that many people would call a misspent youth. Fortunately I've also met one or two in the 27 year old bracket that have spent a lot of time thinking 'out of the box' and are just beginning to become well rounded humans who know a little of what they don't want to do and now have an inkling of what is worth exploring.

As ever (on looking up Wiki) my recollections and my deductions are predictably a collection of my myths and very loosely based on facts !

Does anyone else support the premise that exams only serve to bolster or destroy a person's self confidence and are in themselves of little importance?

As I look to my future, I value my self confidence far greater that my degree accomplishments or even past accomplishments of all kinds. For me the self belief that I can cope satisfactorily with whatever life throws at me is extremely important. I know I still have the ability to learn new things and could if needs be earn enough to stay alive and earn money. This leads me to have a low regard for the value of money and everything around me. The most important to me is what is deep inside my emotional being, something that is there as a result of my total life experience.

Chess in the drizzle

I've just returned from three hours in the Market Square in great company meeting other people who are refreshingly mad as well, with some old friends thinking it's a great idea and planning to join us next week. I feel as though I've never enjoyed myself more. Winning my games shouldn't be discounted from the analysis of course. Sadly I fogot my camera.

Friday, 24 August 2012

"It's only Mr Dellow - take no notice!"

"He pokes his nose everywhere into things in Ulverston that are none of his business."

Said to a obstinate self-important over-confident friend of hers on the train to Lancaster today.

A view echoed here by several people who speak up on this blog - the silent majority do that.

My answer was "Yes, and many thank me for it. "

Which group are you in?

Answers please and I'll continue with the story.

 This grey haired lady in front claims the right to use her adjacent sea to park her case rather than give up the seat on a crowded train on the way to Lancaster today with mothers, children and ten adults  standing nearby. When I offer to move it for her earlier on the trip she replies " I want it where I can keep an eye on it: I'll give up my seat if anyone asks me for it".

Does she give it up when asked ? No, as no one does - everyone stands by and lets her get away with it.

Is she a frail old lady who needs sympathy? - Not on your life - she refuses to accept my offer of help at Lancaster and manages both this and another case on her own as she descends onto the platform.

Shame on you Barbara Williams. Someone was deprived by you of a seat they had paid for when you claimed one that you hadn't for your case. Shame on the friend - I know her by sight - who supported her over her arrogant attitude.

She gets away with this behaviour because she trades on the fact that no one is going to make a fuss. The train manager says nothing.

The more we allow people like this, to take advantage the more liberties they take.

When the boot is on the other foot , they are very proficient at getting whatever they want and keeping others in their place.

Surely if we wish to curb people like this and deter them taking advantage of our good nature :

We must all speak up - not just that nuisanse guy Mr Dellow.

I was pleased to hear a friend of mine tell me how she had to speak out strongly to get someone at the Ford Park children's play area to remove their dog in spite of clear notices stating that the dog area is the otherside of the road. All she got back was abuse and even worse - no support from the other parents standing by.

Well done for speaking out and shame again on those that offer no support.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The importance of coaches

Time and time again during the Olympics we heard about the value sportsmen put on their coaches and how they gave encouragement at crucial times in the sportsmens lives.

Wouldn't we all benefit from a good coach as we  endeavour to deal with so many of life's problems.

Sadly we don't have one, nor can we afford one.

But is that really true - or is it mainly our one-sided perception.

I certainly feel that I'd love to have a coach at the moment to help be sort out the things in my life that appear to wrench  the emotional stability out of my being. So are we really totally on our own over many things with no one who can help other than ourselves?

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

West Coast Line - An H M Government e-petition

There are already 65,000 signatures on this petition to get the government to

Reconsider West Coast Mainline franchise decision

 You can sign here

Anger management - make sense?

I've just replied to an email in the following way. What do you think?

Yes you're right and I'm feeling frustrated that the public , who came across as in favour of Virgin trains, were ignored and that the contract has gone to the other company.

Once again I despair of 'democracy' and the lack of influence the Liberals appear to be able to exert.

Tim must have a wide experience of the West Coast line, but he seems to just stand by and say/do nothing.

I'm moving steadily away from having any faith in the whole party/voting/parliament system.

If I feel like this, I wonder how many others will feel when they want to take a radical, law breaking solution to get what they consider to be 'justice'.

There is much support for the view that we're heading towards a big explosion coming from pent up emotional frustrations and strong and possibly irrational actions from the public.

I'm really thankful that we've got people like George Galloway who will speak up and risk being 'not politically correct' - regarding his comments today on rape - the Assange case.



"Opening the flood gates to human aggresion and violence is one of the easiest jobs - - - - -"


I find your answer over simplistic.

We, British, as a culture, are encouraged not to show our emotion. This may be because we are frightened along the lines described by you. We are scared we can't handle it so we do all we can to keep the lid on.

So what happens?

When the lid does blow we have an almighty explosion - it's like a boiler without a safety valve.

Apparently if you compare the number of serious injuries reported in our Accident  Emergency  Hospital units with those of places in very different cultures like Spain, you find the figures for serious injury from fights and knives something like five times here as there.

A likely reason is that nearly all our injuries are alcohol fuelled. Only when we've had too much to drink does the anger escape and when it does the result is horrific and the people who did the damage can't believe it was them.

What I've witnessed in French culture is very different  - people blow their top at the slightest thing - especially road traffic - they blow their horns and  get out their cars and gesticulate at would be offenders. They shout if they're not getting served and demand attention - there's very little simmering with resentment going on. As a result when people explode theres very little pressure to release and very few real injuries take place.

I've stood by in French cafes and watched animated arguments taking place(during the massib=ve stike two years ago in October) and as an English man I expected a fight - but no these were friends expressing their opposing views. Next day or even an hour later everyone was chatting away as though nothing had happened.

I was talking to another English couple yesterday and saying how we hated 'polite' behaviour because you never knew when you might be touch and really sore open emotional wound and get a totally unexpected and disproportionate reaction.

So your saying has an element of truth - yes there are floodgates and no they are kept shut by our society because we're frightened of what might escape.

Result : we have a mentally screwed up society and when the opportunity arises; a hell will break out and it will be totally irrational. All because we are frightened of the alternative and don't encourage even a small release from  a highly over-pressured bolier.

We all need to do all we can to provoke a release of emotional anger but in lots of small doses and not massive big ones. In order to make up for lost time, we need to start a world where there's and animated argument going on everywhere we look and have plenty of boxing gloves at hand to deal with people who can't handle it.

I love a good scrap but sadly had my last thirty years ago and now just let myself go in words in an argument and find that most people run away because they can't cope. It's great to find someone who stands their ground and is angry back  and we both feel better for it and are friends next time we meet - I've fortunately got a few like this .

At all convinced!

Other people taking over our lives

My initial answer is "We'll, I've got nothing to hide ". However this assumes that you can trust the people looking over your shoulder.

The recent visit of SLDC to Ulverston Market Square convinced me that they don't trust the public to run their own affairs (Regarding dog fouling, dogs on leads, and keeping the streets clean. They think they should be given the job of sorting out the problem and not leave it to us.

Their record at doing this?

They told me they have got someone working five days a week here in Ulverston dealing with dog fouling and related issues.

What have they achieved? - Nothing - not a single conviction - what kind of message is that? 
The message to me is that there are people who seek to be employed in order to run our lives for us when we are doing a far better job at it than they ever will. So back off will you.

We have a culture where people think that "they" will solve the problem. Well "they " don't do anything constructive but like councillors are good at creating a load of flannel that achieves nothing but is aimed at keeping themselves " in the manner that they are accustomed" and this doesn't mean money it means the ability to boss other people about. 

We need to stand up to them.

*  *  *  *  *

More than 63,000 of us have signed the petition to beat back the big brother bill. We have just 48 hours until the public consultation on the bill closes -- sign now to help us reach our new target of 75,000!

Dear friends across the UK,

Our online privacy is under threat from a new big brother bill giving the government powers to spy on what we do on the web. Public outrage has stopped the bill before and it can stop it again. We have just 48 hours until public consultation on the bill closes -- sign the petition to beat back big brother now:

The government wants to give itself new powers to spy on our Internet and email use in real time -- but a massive national outcry can save the Internet and stop the big brother law.

Public outrage has been growing and news reports suggest that Cameron and Clegg are being forced to slow down their march to secure draconian powers to spy on what we do online. The government is currently accepting public input on this bill and if we flood that process with our objections now, we can persuade them to back off the big brother bill for good.

The last time this was mooted in Parliament it failed precisely because of strong public opposition. Our call to Cameron, Clegg and Home Secretary Theresa May can protect our privacy and save the Internet. We have only 48 hours left before the public input process closes -- sign the petition to beat back big brother, then forward it widely and all our voices will be sent to the review together on Thursday:

The spying law would make accessible a list of all our communications, including email addresses or phone numbers of friends we connect with and the time, length and location of those interactions. Although the content of communications would only be visible to police with a warrant, this law is dangerous because it exposes a treasure trove of information about us to the government but contains almost no safeguards, leaving it wide open to abuse.

According to opinion polling, more than 94% of citizens are worried about the government’s web surveillance plans, and former police chief Sir Chris Fox has spoken out against the law. But the government is trying to sell it to the public by claiming it’s a mere "updating" of legislation -- rather than a new onslaught on our civil liberties. This snooping legislation allows authorities to spy on us without justification and creates a dangerous precedent for future actions that could include restricting access, tracking file-sharing and monitoring specific websites worldwide.

In 2009, the Tories spoke out against a similar snooping law proposed by Labour -- let’s now call out their about-face and stop this invasion of our privacy in its tracks. Our wave of protest against the government’s big brother bill can ensure it’s dropped from the legislative calendar. Click below to add your voice, and it will be delivered before the public consultation closes on Thursday:

From the dangerous SOPA/PIPA legislation in the US to ACTA and Internet freedom in India, Brasil and elsewhere, Avaaz members have defended a free and open Internet and pushed governments and big business to keep their hands off our web. Now it’s time to rally together again.

With hope,

Iain, Antonia, Emma, Alex, Nat and the entire Avaaz team


Q&A: UK plan to monitor all email, phone and and web use (BBC)

Government plans increased email and social network surveillance (The Guardian)

FAQ: The Communications Capabilities Development Programme (Privacy International)

Big Brother would like to watch you (Avaaz Daily Briefing)

The surveillance state: growing under a coalition that pledged to reverse it (The Guardian)

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Thank God for people like George Galloway

In our society that is populated by people who rarely take time to think for themselves but follow the lead of others, it is very reassuring to have someone who stops,  thinks and then shares his conclusions with others  and hopefully has the support and courage to stand by them. Sadly in this case, we hear nothing but the cries of outrage from the politically correct who are too emotionally charged to be able to see anything but bright red, black and white. Real life is a lovely complex mixture of millions of shades of grey and other muted colours. We need people to apply reason in order to counter the outbursts of emotion that occur more and more recently.

And before you ask: yes, I have consulted with several very assertive women who would count themselves as feminists and be very active in the defence of the exploitation of women - and they agree with me. George has a very strong point to make and we're glad he made it.

I'm reminded of Enoch Powell who spoke out with reason in his "Rivers of Blood " speech (a name given by those who didn't stop and think but chose a label with a high emotionally charge)  and was shouted down by the politically correct.

We're living in a time when there are an increasing number of people who are intolerant of 'out of the box' thinking. They are people with deep unresolved emotional hurt in their psyche and I'm learning to be very cautious when trying to relate to them in any depth. I've been severely burnt and it hurt deeply. I suspect we as a society are very poor at letting out our controversial thoughts, instead they are bottled up and at some time they explode unwittingly.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Reflections on fasting

Because I chose to do it for a bit of fun, I think it became manageable.

The things that helped were.

1. The sense of 'ownership' - I didn't feel I ought to do anything and hence wouldn't feel bad if I failed.
2. I adapted the routine myself and choose exactly what and when I ate. I chose some delicious food.
3. By having soup at mid-day it became familiar - something I do every day- and hence 'comfortable'.
4. By only setting myself two days, it became an easier task - I had the choice then how to carry on, and do another two days in the future if I want to carry on.
5. Having fasted I had no inclination to eat more on subsequent days though I was aware that I needed to eat more on the first breakfast and avoid strenuous exercise if I wanted to avoid feeling weak.

If one is thinking of reducing body fat it seems to me to be an excellent way forward: each time you do two days  you have the feeling of having made progress. You can then adapt to how long you want to carry on for and each time you know you will succeed a little whenever you do it.

Since doing this I have talked to someone who is fasting like this alternative days and she is already conscious of losing weight and managing fine, something born out by the TV program. Every alternate day may be too much but two days a week seems to be a very satisfying way of achieving weight loss if that's what you want.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

An Experiment in Fasting

I recent stumbled on a TV program on horizon on the benefits of fasting :
"Eat, fast and live longer"
The whole program is on Youtube :

which I watched again last night.

The idea of 'fasting' intrigues me, so, before I go any further I'm going to fast for two days and find out what it's like. By fast, I mean limit my calorie intake to 500 cals/day. Next step is to find out what I can eat to stay within that.

I've only fasted once in my life I think and that was when living on my own I was so involved in what I was doing that I didn't get round to eating for 36 hours - I felt fine.

So here goes, starting this morning. I shall confine myself to fruit, apples (the whole lot, oranges and the odd banana which I understand has a fair number of calories and the lovely vegetables that I grow in the allotment.

I suspect the most difficult thing will be to not think about it - but then I've a busy couple of days coming up and I'm on my own!

I shall report back here as I go through till Monday morning: interesting journey.

I'm starting off with an apple, orange and a coffee - 126 cals that's a quarter of my total .

It's 13:00 and I've been playing flat out in the Market Square at chess between 10 and and 12:45, losing all three games, having a drink of chocolate.

Feeling shattered, but that could be a number of reasons, most of them psychological - worrying about fasting. ("I knew a guy who dropped dead of exhaustion" kind of remarks!)

I'm reverting to the familiar, I need to relax in the 'normal' by having a 500g bowl of soup.

Kite making project coming up with parents and kids, at 2 pm, need a lot of mental and physical !

I shall then be having beetroot, cabbage, carrot as a salad - how about some ham?This could be for supper - we'll see how many calories it all adds up to!

Had a very active time making, designing and running around flying kites in Ford park. Five adults with six seven kids of various ages arrived at 14:00 and enjoyed themselves until 16:30 - sun was out the kites flew - we ended up with a few tangles which I really enjoy sorting out.

All went home very happy with their 'new' kites and string to join the growing band of kite fliers.

Now I'm off to a party when I've recovered - I'm short on sleep having woken up at 5 am. Left for party at 6:45pm after a lie down.
Here I only had a third-full glass of red wine and topped up with water. I think that because I went with the intention of doing this and not even looking at the food this worked.
I then went to Natterjacks to meet someone who had been away for the day and played the piano for 15 minutes - I'm getting better! Here I had several cups of an infusion at about 2 cal per small cup.

On returning home I had fun preparing myself a low calorie meal of lovely cabbage 125gm , two small tomatoes and about  20gm of tongue.
Today I had an orange and apple with Barleycup. I'm now about to have a bowl of soup (it's familiar) after some hard work at Mill Dam Park digging.

I'm feeling fine though perhaps a little strained but not sure where this comes from.

Had a different home made soup - the familiar again, did some sitting down jobs (untangling kite string), some shopping at Booths, some standing up work and supper which was the same as last night.
It's now 9pm and I've been trying out some new chess software and I feel fine - I'm not giving a thought to food and perhaps because of this I feel fine. Now what's the next job on the list : stick a link on my Facebook page.
It's now 8am on Monday morning and I've had breakfast. I don't feel at all ravenous, in fact I rather like the high fruit breakfast so I've repeated it with a little muesli. This 'fasting' hasn't been particularly difficult and I'll gladly do it again as what food I had was delicious. I'm pretty sure that I stayed within the 500 calorie limit. It would be easier to tell what it really feels like if it became part of my routine. And no. I'm not looking forward to a slap up meal!

It's now evening of the first day after the 'fast' and I feel completely back to normal. I had a reaction this morning whilst doing fairly vigorous work down at the allotment: I felt a but giddy and faint so I sat down and took it easy. I felt the need to eat something so I ate a raw beetroot - which took some doing but it did seem to make a difference. I haven't noticed a desire to eat more than normal to make up for the food not eaten in the two days. I conclude I must have lost weight probably body fat.

In future if I repeat this two day fast I will make sure that I don't have a day of vigorous exercise the day after.

I'm now reflecting on why I would do this again as I'm not convinced that in my case I will gain much: I'm already quite slim and I come from parents who both lived into their nineties and one close to a hundred. At least I feel that if there was a benefit I would incorporate this two day 500 calorie fast into my week as I found the food I did have was delicious and didn't have an undue hankering to eat beyond the 500 limit.

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Lantern Procession - making lanterns

Here's a video of Lantern making in the past.
Also stills taken at the same time. And much more

Withy sticks, tissue paper and candles have been arriving at Ford Park in large quantities this week ready for hundreds of lanterns to be made for Ulverston Lantern Festival on Sat. 15th September. Ford Park Community Group members have already made dozens of pretty white lanterns to decorate the field on the night.
Most houses in Ulverston have received a beautiful flier designed by Alex Blackmore - the flier has already become a collectors item and is decorating the walls of young peoples bedrooms.

Lantern making kits are available at the TIC in the Coro, at the Book Shack in the market and on the outdoor market Walking Boots stall. An extra opportunity to buy a kit for £4 and get advice on how to make it up will be given at a pop up stall near the Market Cross on the mornings of Thurs 23rd and 30th August.

If you have never made a lantern before, it is best to go to a workshop. They will be at Swarthmoor Reading Rooms on Friday 7th Sept from 5pm to 8pm, Sat 8th from 9am to 6 pm and Sun 9th from 9am to 5pm. Or you can go to Ford House in Ford Park from 9am to 9pm on the 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th Sept. There will be plenty of support from experienced lantern makers at all these workshops.

Making the large lanterns that lead the four parades requires great engineering and artistic skill. There are some local people with such skill running through their veins but finding suitable places to make big lanterns is difficult. If you have a space with big doors, lighting and running water please contact Ness Wilson on 077666863618.

thanks, jean povey.

12 Town Street
LA12 7EY

+44 (0)1229 587726

Coming up

The SLDC consultation of clean streets that invaded the square yesterday - what a waste of our money - they're trying to take over and providing a rubbish service (pun intended).

Depression - Suicide rates going up by 10 %

The Lottery - is this a 'good' source of funding or does it shatter many people's lives thoughtlessly.

How we and the whole of our society/country are really ruled by our emotions when we imagined that we are living in a rational society; with the corrolery that if we all felt good - for whatever reason we would all be successful - Is it really chicken and egg or do we educate to produce emotionally insecure people (unhappy people).

More story telling.

Some playing of the piano and the clarinet ( via Youtube ) but you're more likely to hear the clarinet in the market square and the piano in the Old Friends in the future.

Thoughts on growing stuff on the allotment

More Kites

A new (different slant) pottery project

Pet hate at the moment - television commentators - low low point - the Olympics: "How do you feeeeeel ? "

How about you?

How can this blog be improved ?

To me blogs could be a valuable alternative/compliment to the press.

They provide an alternative to what can be a very biased press. One would not remove bias but it could be a very varied source of bias. I am often accused of being opinionated; to which I reply "What do you expect what is written is my opinion". Furthermore I deliberately write in a way that might provoke others to speak up and 'print' the result as long as it is 'constructive' criticism coming from someone who identifies themselves. Comments like the following are ignored. "You fucking stupid git. Your views are just farts sounding out of your arse" (Though, far more colourful than this - I don't seem to have this talent)

How could an Ulverston Blog work?

There is already the provision for different people with different views to express their views: as you will see each post gives the name of the person posting it so that each author would be clearly indentified. What they write says a lot about themselves and they have to live with it.

I shall be trying to persuade people in the town to participate in a neutrally named blog eg The Ulverston Blog, that would initially be open to anyone. To my way of thinking this could work well and gaurd against the time when the operators of our local press decide that it makes no sense commercially; something that is close to happening here in Ulverston already with reporters who don't know Ulverston writing from their office in Barrow.

We could provide interviews of people and happenings of interest. - Some of my Youtube interviews like the ones on Rhubarb and Custard - the doll's house shop -  have clearly boosted trade.

We could learn more about what politicians are seeking to do and achieve, so that they would become more re-electable.

Ulverston has a long tradition of generating a disproportionate amount of news relative to the population with approximating five times as much news/per head coming from what happens here ( a figure pluct out of the air). It is even conceivable that a blog could in the future pay for some in depth investigative editorial content.

How about it?

Will anyone join me in trying out a new mock-up to explore this possibility?

Dealing with our politicians

During and immediately after the elections in May this year I approached several politicians and asked them for assistance on topics withing their remit. They all made promisses. Now I am going to report on their action - or lack of it. I have copies of emails sent and received on most matters and you will be able to judge for yourselves on how they are doing.

The politicians were (in no particuar order):

Helen Irving, my Town and District Council representative

Colin Pickthall, my Town Council representative

Margaret Hornby, my Town Council representative

James Airey, my County Council representative

Anne Downe, prospective Lib. Dem. District Councillor who made some lovely promises.

So how do you think they performed in the tasks that they had offered help ?

Don't hold your breath.

Here's a clue - - three separate piles of cobbles - coming up for re-election next May:

Now what did I have to do to get these repared last time - Something that worked dramatically - the power of Youtube.

Having dealt with our politicians (omitting Woodcock MP) I shall turn my attention to our 'Civil Servants' some of whom are superb and some of them so bad that I got them (or had a major roll in) sacked - remember Nick Raymond ? (Brag, brag - if you've got it why not flaunt it !)

Isn't it great when you feel highly motivated.

This is an extremely valuable experience .

You walk around with a very positive smile lurking behind your face ready to pop out with the slightest provocation. It's the exact opposite of depression and it's a million dollar feeling.

Not the best of tunes but it's certainly got 'bounce' - come on Rita you could do better - but do you ever feel like this? To compose well , it has to come from 'the soul'. (Which reminds me - Where's that Christmas present you promised us with you mandolin).

So why am I feeling this way? That's a tricky one. It could be because I'm doing quite a lot with lots of different people and what I'm doing is going well: Chess in the Square, Kites in the Park, Discussions on several fronts with SLDC officials, Raised beds at the allotment, Supporting pottery and candlemaking, Playing my clarinet and piano, Story telling, Campaigning, Writing, Being helped to buy stuff on the Internet with Paypal and quite important, Steering clear of the totally draining submissions to ineffectual politicians (realising you can achieve far more without them).

Long may this feeling continue - but of course this is just a high - lows are waiting round the corner but they are part and parcel of these highs.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The story of the making of the Ulverston Flags

I interviewed Elizabeth Green who was the driving force behind the making of our Ulverston flags for many many years.

Here's the video that I made with her telling stories about some of the flags.

Sadly she moved some years ago, going way down south to be closer to her family.

We're still in touch by email.

Future Kite making

We're in the process of organising another making -flying event.

When - after August 20th can you manage ? I can't manage Tuesday and Thursday afternoon.

Looks like there's some sun on Wednesday

If there's a fair bit of interest we'll set up on a couple of tables in Ford Park itself and make them there.

Contact me at gd at and Ill put you 'in the loop'.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

A great day making, decorating and flying kites

We started at 10 am: by 10:40 we were setting out for Ford Park with four newly made sled kites  to find out how they flew.

And fly they did!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Google - no longer - Back to Yahoo

I've just received the following:

It's important to me that the large companies like Tesco and now Google pay their taxes.

I'm taking what action I can: as well as signing the petion - now up to 44,000 below - I've changed my preferences on my browser to using Yahoo instead - we'll see how we go. It's time Google had some competion.

 * * * * * *

It’s just been revealed that Google has paid only £6 million in UK tax on profits of nearly £395 million. [1] Google seems to have managed to pull off this huge tax dodge by using tricks like sheltering its profits in tax havens, such as Bermuda. [2]

Google has long prided itself on its reputation as a responsible corporate citizen. [3] But there’s nothing responsible about dodging tax at a time when the country is facing deep cuts.

Google’s boss has said in the past: "We could pay more tax but we would have to do so voluntarily". [4] Google will only make this choice if they feel enough pressure from us - their users and customers - and understand the risk to their reputation from continuing to dodge tax. Showing them how we feel with huge petition is the first step.

Can you sign the petition demanding that Google pay their fair share of tax?

In the run-up to the Olympics, 38 Degrees members forced high profile sponsors like McDonald’s, Coke and VISA to commit to paying their fair share of tax on their Olympic profits. Our campaign worked because these huge companies were worried about bad PR. The same will be true of Google.

Once the petition's grown to thousands of signatures we’ll organise a high profile petition delivery to their new UK headquarters. We’ll follow that up with the same kind of tactics on Facebook that were so effective in the Olympic tax-dodging campaign. If the petition is big enough, and attracts enough media attention, it could be the first step in forcing Google to reconsider its position on tax-dodging.

Can you tell Google it’s time to pay their fair share? Sign the petition here:

Thanks for being involved

Robin, Belinda, David T and the 38 Degrees team

[1] The Telegraph: Google pays just £6m UK tax on profits of £395m
[2] Richard Murphy, Tax Research UK blog: Google’s Tax
[3] Wikipedia: Don’t be evil't_be_evil
[4] The Telegraph: Google pays just £6m UK tax on profits of £395m

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Successes with Kites

I've been having a challenging time getting this Delta Kiote to work when made of material which stretches in two directions . Making one out of paper was very much easier. Plastic would be easy too.


 Here's a lightweight sled kite out of plastic was easy.

We'll be making and decorating them this Tuesday morning at 10 in the Coach House, Union Lane and then going on to Ford Park to fly them. Your welocme to join us.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Our local councillors

At the moment, for the most part,  I'm following the activities of our councillors from a distance. I find that I work a lot better if I ignore there activities as I find involvement with the majority of local politicians a very emotionally draining experience. I have also found that I can achieve most goals more effectively by avoiding them - putting stuff on Youtube works - direct contact with officials far more satisfying.  I gave my immediate council representatives on Town, SLDC and County some tasks to carry out on our behalf as soon as they were freshly elected and there has been no visible action.

I've had contact with the new town councillor, Jane Harris, and am cautiously impressed.

However I've just had the chance to talk in Market Street to Cllr. Bharath Rajan who is newly elected as both a Town  and District Councillor and I'm not impressed so far. He was trying to persuade me, as many politicians do, that he was 'on the ball' on any topic I choose to mention. In the area of parking in the town he failed miserably - he hadn't even heard of Jack Rice, the person who has just given up as Town Councillor and did so much for us over the car parking issue by preparing a thorough probe into the use of our car parks. It's though Jack's hard work in ferreting out data from a reluctant SLDC and publishing a report that put pressure on SLDC to grant us the use of Stockbridge Lane car part at 20p/hour . Low and behold they now find the are earning more money than at the ridiculous rate they were charging before. You could say that my initial campaign ( when I raised the matter in full council about three years ago) followed up by Jack with his report finally drilled a hole in the scull of Kendal centred Lib Dem Councillors and penetrated with some common sense. Since then our local 'brass' have all jumped on the bandwaggon.

Note , this blog has been awash with posts on the Stockbridge lane issue (try a search of this blog using the box below on the right using the word "Stockbridge": there have been some 30 posts on this topic starting in 2008 with this ). Continuing with this in June 2009 Then in September 2009 I went to the Full SLDC Council here in Sept 2009

This indicates that Cllr. Bharath Rajan has a lot to learn and hasn't taken a deep interest in local politics until now. Let's hope he switches quickly into listening and learning mode, rather than trying to impress others with what appears to be a very superficial knowledge of the issues in Ulverston.

Asked at the beginning what his main concern was, he replied "Planning; the issue of wind turbines on local farms" He takes the view that they are a blot on the landscape rather than one step towards fighting Global Warming - though he acknowledges Global Warming he doesn't recognised the urgency for action needed and so will fight the implementation of Wind Turbines where he can. It's up to those of us that a well informed with a science background that the luxuries of the "Beautiful Landscape" can no longer be afforded.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

More on 'Click-click Campaigning'

If you've never tried it  - here we catch on film both Neil Armstrong and Sue Goddard in action (wink).

With names popping up at the rate of one every 2 seconds at 7 in the morning - that's 1,800 per hour, and likely to be well over 50,000 per day - maybe 100,000 in a working day -  I like the feeling of being part of a large group of people that all care about one issue.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Delta Kite trial

The new pink one went up but is very unstable when it shouldn't be. Working with material is much harder than with paper!
My muscles ache and I don't know what I have to do to improve the design. I'm on that 'steep learning curve' as I don't know what I'm doing .

I've come in for a coffee and a chance to regroup.

Having a repair and alterations kit at the front line would be a good idea : a pinch of that Olympic determination is needed.

Right - that was a good coffee- and a brief watch of the painful Olympic 800m heats: let's go and crack this one.

Though I managed to get the kite to fly it was only a matter of a minute or so. The present design is very unstable - Working with stretching material is clearly more difficult than with the relatively rigid strong paper used on the previous kite. Back to the drawing board.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

New Delta Kite made from material

All ready to go:
Looking forward to test flying this tomorrow morning

Kite making in Ford Park ?

Materials have been ordered so as to be able to make 250 sled kites.

Present thinking is:

Book the upstairs room at Ford Park to take care of possible rain.
Fly kites in the park. If we get hundreds made, string them along in one massive long line
Use Delta Kite/s to advertise that we're in action and any other "stunts"
Capture as many people who just happen to be passing

Make and decorate sled kites see this video for lots of ideas :

1. The sticks are ordered
2. The sellotape for fixing them is about to be ordered
3. Use plastic bags and scrap plastic preferably clear
4. Cardboard templates to be made
5. Means of decorating them is being checked - large permanent marker pens or oil paint.
6 Kite twine - I have enough - more welcome
7. We will need some sharp scissors to cut the plastic
8. Use coloured cellophane from Scrap Store for streamers - but it's closed for a fortnight  (damn) - I may have a bit.

If we want to make Delta Kites - this is best done here separately as they are far more complicated (The Delta made out of bright coloured material is nearing completion.

The big question is WHEN

Your feedback here is essential so that we can choose the best time for everyone.

My kite making stuff - found

After a long and physically risky search of the many, many boxes in my garage I've found my collection of Chinese kites but most importantly lots of rolls of kite string. One enormous tangle of several very long lengths took a while to unravel - it's a very satisfying challenge that  I greatly enjoy - the right kind of activity whilst watching the Olympics.

We're all set for finishing off my new Delta kite made of beautiful Flag material. But will it fly as well as the paper version?

Some positive news - Great Stuff

Encouraging bees in the most unlikely of places, here in Ulverston.


Saturday, 4 August 2012

Chess again in the Market Square

A great time was had by all. See you next Saturday at 10 am until 1 pm

Friday, 3 August 2012

Campaigning with a click

I'm greatly encouraged by this approach - I think it keeps politicians on their toes by thinking people far more than anything previously.

Here's an email I've just received:

The Olympics is now properly underway. 38 Degrees members can watch the games unfold knowing that together, we made sure that companies like McDonald's didn't get away with tax-dodging on their Olympic profits. And lots of members have said how proud they were to see our NHS celebrated at the opening ceremony last Friday night. 

Can you help decide what we should be focusing on next once the games are over? Do you think we should carry on focussing on tax dodging, or perhaps looking more at climate change or the NHS? It only takes 2 minutes to take our poll and help set the directon for 38 Degrees:

The email from last week:

McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Adidas, VISA... In the last couple of weeks we’ve taken on some of the most powerful companies in the world - and won! Together, we’ve forced them to pay their fair share of tax during the Olympics. All of the companies we targeted have now said they won’t be using the tax break open to Olympic sponsors. [1]

This campaign was something new. 38 Degrees members are used to taking on the government. But this was the first time we’ve targeted big global companies. We knocked them over one by one, gaining strength with each fresh victory.

This win is more proof that when we work together, we get results. That’s why as 38 Degrees members we choose what we campaign on together. Member polls are an important part of deciding what we should focus on next. Should we concentrate on protecting the NHS and the environment? Should we be cracking down on bankers? Perhaps you have an idea of your own?

Can you take the two minute survey and help set the direction of 38 Degrees?

When 38 Degrees members first saw the tax breaks for Olympic sponsors, exposed in a piece by the magazine Ethical Consumer, it may have seemed unlikely that these heavyweight multinationals could be forced to back down. [2] But we were successful because we used our power as customers.

The sponsors were hoping to get a big boost from their involvement with the Games. But our huge petition and the flood of activity on Facebook and Twitter had them worried. They could see it was safer to back down on the tax break than to risk a PR disaster with the very people who buy their products.

Fixing this particular tax dodge is a step in the right direction and a glimpse of what we can do - but there’s so much more to do. Recent reports suggest that the UK could be losing trillions of pounds in dodged tax every year. [3] Should we follow up our Olympic success by keeping the focus on tax-dodging or should we be prioritising other campaigns? Perhaps we should be concentrating on tackling climate change, stopping the privatisation of the police, or protecting the BBC. Or is there something else you’d like to suggest?

Take the quick survey and help decide what we should work on next together:

Thanks for being involved,

David T, Robin, Belinda, Marie, James, and the 38 Degrees team

PS: Part of what scared the sponsors most was being targeted on Facebook. Protecting their public image turned out to be worth more than a tax break! Can you help make 38 Degrees even stronger by liking us on Facebook?

[1] We'll work with tax experts from the Tax Justice Network to check these statements and to make sure these companies keep their word.
38 Degrees: Olympic sponsor statements
[2] Ethical Consumer: The Great Olympic Tax Swindle
[3] The Guardian: £13tn hoard hidden from taxman by global elite

The determination to stay positive

This is an incredibly valuable gift.

People who have it, don't realise how much they give to others around them.

Fortunately I have several of the people I mix with who have this quality.

They provide me with the energy to, in turn, be positive to others around me.

We live in a society that is almost encouraged to be negative.

Advertising for instance is one - rather than just be informative, it seeks to make you inadequate ( and hence negative) unless you are using the wonderful "Brand X". The television reporters are doing it all the time. They build up expectations only for them to be dashed and then go on to probe in depth "What went wrong" and remark as Jonathan Edwards did yesterday "Tomorrow you can redeem yourself" . Victoria Pendleton managed to be positive and put a negative interviewer in their place and not to be despondent when she cycled in error and was disqualified. Well done Victoria. When reading the papers is rare to find an article that is upbeat. No wonder so many people are lethargic and negative towards others.

These few people that remain positive through thick and thin are extremely rare. Thank you for all the encouragement you give me.

New Councillors - Town and District

Has anyone formed an impression of the 'new kids on the block'.

Jane Harris, based on a recent Mail report on the Lantern House, comes across as someone who is ready to get stuck in. I'm impressed.

Any others?

Photo from one of our readers

Sent by Jack with the comment " Nature is Wonderful."

Tell us more Jack.
Where was this taken? What's hanging from the ceiling? Did the birds bring in all the mud to build the nest? Have the swallows been here before?

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Delta Kite flies beautifully

Here's a video.

My plan now is to make another Delta with the material that we use to make flags. The decision will be : how big and what colour.

Once I've made one I shall be touting for others to get involved before going any further, but wouldn't it be lovely to make say five of the Deltas in different plain colours and fly them together in the town somewhere or what ever you decide.

It will be over to you. How about making five large ones and flying them at the same time from Hoad? - You can control the direction they fly in to a limited degree - more if you're good at it!

Try looking at this video for ideas

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Delta Kite - we're off

Making the first test kite using the dimensions given in the Internet article already quoted.

Made of a single sheet of strong paper - available from the Ulverston Scrap Store
We'll see how it flies and modify- it won't last long but long enough to tell us what we want to know. When we've got a design that flies well, then we can  make about five out of the beautiful materials we have for making Flags.

Want to get involved with your ideas of where to go next?

There are lots of easy kites that can be made - we could have a workshop day undercover and make a hundred in no time at all - then we could string them all up together and have a chain of them stretching up into the sky. Fly them off the top of Hoad or Ford Park or Lightburn or The Gill.

If there is 'no' wind then we use the delta kite above to haul the others up high were there almost certainly is some.

Ever made a single string fighter kite which you can use to fly wherever you want when you know how! Even make it skim along over water with one tip touching the water - never managed it myself but seen it done when some Japanese Kite makers visited Welfare State Internaitonal. Bill Kitsen of Sun street is also an Kite expert and has organised kite flying off Hoad at Easter in the distant past. Jack says he has a kitemaking manual.

Your ideas and involvement only too welcome.

Depressing and mindshattering BBC reporting

I you're fed up with the continuous hype coming out of the mouths of our BBC reporters on the Olympics, then don't worry, you're definitely not alone. Lots of my friends are sickened by it too. It's very difficult to prevent those inane reporters not ruining the whole games with their mindless chatter.

Over and over and over we get repeated a message of how such and such British competitor is about to work absolute wonders as they approach this or that event. It's all Team GB this and Team GB that, Gold gold gold. Isn't the games supposed to be a celebration of human endeavour - not just those from Britain. All the time we're made to hear how many medals are won or just missed. People who achieve 'only' bronze are made to feel disappointed even though realistically they knew from the start that they were up against world champions that had never been beaten.

Our reporters are a shambles. What they do achieve is a Gold every time for repeating and repeating a lot of crass verbiage.

I suspect that he only way one can really enjoy what is happening is to switch the sound off. Sadly I often turn away in disgust and find something 'sane' to do - like clearing out the rubbish that has been waiting to be tidied for weeks. Otherwise I'd be going insane with frustration of coping with all the emotional downside of the way I'm being made to view what I'm sure is really a great series of events with people  from all manner of nations performing awe inspiring feats of will power and physical prowess.

Along with many of my age I can remember my amazement at watching in 1972 a slight young girl/woman perform very precise and scary manoeuvres on the Horizontal Bar - her name - Olga Korbut of the USSR. Would she have made the same impact if she had been accompanied by the present day crass reporting? - we'd be lucky to catch a glimpse of her nowadays - we'd be faced with in depth analysis as to why Team GB were at the bottom of the rankings - not a celebration of a truly amazing individual.

At this moment we are having Bradley Wiggins being rammed down our ear holes for the hundredth time who allegedly is to become the greatest British Olympian of all time. What will happen if he becomes a brilliant second?

True to form just now: Jonathan Edwards, to someone destined for Gold who came in 12th - after detailed psychoanalysis - "We'll tomorrow, you've a similar event - a chance to redeem yourself" - No wonder the country's in a mess ( sorry, I'm jumping the gun - disqualified - very few have admitted that we're in a mess -  that has yet to dawn on most of us - meanwhile the Euro crisis rumbles on with more ultimatums to Germany and disaster for the UK is predicted round the corner).

Let's look forward to six weeks time when perhaps the real world has caught up with us and we can take real pleasure in the mundane. Yes Kite Making is definitely on the agenda - I'm already in the throws of making a Delta kite which will be ready to fly tomorrow at the latest.

Chess anyone ?

We are now playing at the Market Cross every Saturday from 10:00 till 13:00 weather permitting - we just take shelter until the rain stops!

 Otherwise we play every Monday and Tuesday evenings from 7pm till midnight at the Stan Laurel. We have a great team of people who encourage and enable all, men, women and children, that come to enjoy a game and even help them win against us! We have some beginners that have made amazing strides in improving their game. We have a great time - sometimes winning , sometimes losing but always enjoying the experience. Ask at the bar for Peter.