Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Out by the Thames

Aaaargh, set the alarm for 04:05 this morning so it's back to work. But it's been a "good" Christmas - good turkey, good conversation and thoughtful presents. (For regular readers of this blog, I didn't get anything by Katie Melua but I got two copies of the Best of ELO CD !)

As for the TV, we only watched "Some Like It Hot" and Doctor Who. I thought the latter was probably better overall than the previous Christmas special, with sterling performances by the two main characters and some inventive use of the sonic screwdriver. I particularly enjoyed Lance's pent-up feelings being released in a rant against Posh Spice and "Text me, text me, text me". The taxi chase sequence was memorable too and nicely paced. However there wasn't the ethical / political twist in the last 5 minutes that we had last year...

And by the way, I've just checked with London Port Control -nobody warned them that the Thames was going to be drained dry in order to save the planet from aliens...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Tonight, Thank God It's Them Instead Of You

A sober Christmas message via This is Zimbabwe:

Every day I ask myself ,what am I - a child of Africa and a Zimbabwean of many generations - doing here in England ? Every day I am reminded that I don’t really belong in this alien culture. What am I doing here, away from the sun-drenched plains of Africa in this dank, dark and cold climate ? What am I doing among the cold and indifferent and (though they don’t know it) amazingly prosperous Brits ....

....For three years I struggled on under the ZANU PF monolith, bartering my soul away bit by bit in order to retain the confidence of my superiors. In truth it became more and more difficult to look at that questioning face in the mirror each morning. Yet with shame I have to confess it was not the moral compromises which finally forced me to a decision to leave.....

.....Yes, we’re surviving. We’ve made the break so many Zimbabweans dream of as they struggle on in the wretched conditions Mugabe has created for all (save his own select group of cronies). But you’d be wrong to envy us. Like thousands of other Zimbabwean exiles we have an existence here but we are hardly enjoying the experience....

.....The truth is we are dreading our first Christmas in exile - away from our real home.

Years on from the original Band Aid record, made in response to a natural disaster in Africa, there is a man-made calamity in Zimbabwe that seems to have fallen out of the headlines altogether.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

I'm dreaming of a peaceful Christmas....

I'd like to wish everyone who knows me through the blogosphere the best possible Christmas.

Also, particular thoughts go to my new distant cousin Adam, who came in to this world on Wednesday. He's no fool - after all, he wasn't born yesterday.

There will be four of us for a special turkey dinner on Monday, the family Black plus an old work friend. The present I'm hoping for is a CD from this lady, and the only thing I want to see on TV is this....

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Strange Magic

After 12 years of marriage I thought my wife Lena and I had already discovered all our mutual likes and dislikes. But not so.... Sitting in a traffic jam last week, we discovered that we both liked the Electric Light Orchestra. Nothing very exciting about that, you might think. But consider-

Early 1970s, Essex, England. Earnest teenager has ELO as one of his favourite bands, has "Showdown" as one of his favourite singles, and knows the lyrics to the album "A New World Record" off by heart.

Early 1970s, Novorossiisk, southern Russia. Serious Russian teenage girl likes ELO and buys Livin' Thing from a shop there. I didn't even know you could buy ELO in Brezhnev's Russia. I didn't know if Lena had heard of ELO.

So we have something extra in common. Maybe that's why we've lasted together. Marriage? It's a livin' thing. It's a terrible thing to lose.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Who Should Elect Council Group Leaders?

.... that's the question that Lynne Featherstone has posed on Liberal Review.

I've responded as follows:

It's an interesting idea from Lynne , but ....

I have to say that I thought as party members we elect the leader of our party, not the leader of the parliamentary group (though obviously the two posts are normally combined) My feelings are that once councillors are elected, they should make up their own minds on issues (either individually or as a group) and not follow the instructions of the wider party.

Councillors shouldn't follow party instructions on a planning application or other agenda item, I don't think they should do so when the agenda item is the appointment of group leader.

Obviously a council group and local parties should co-operate as much as possible, but party instructions should never penetrate into the council chamber.

PS : I'm not sure how it would have worked out the two times I've been elected group leader on Rochford DC. The first time nobody else wanted the post (we were the largest group on the council then). I nonetheless asked for a secret ballot of all the councillors to confirm my positon (which I'm pleased I won).

The second time was when he had been reduced to just four, and nobody else wanted the post either (the other 3 being newly elected).

The question our group had when we became a majority was - when you have chosen your leader, does he or she pick who chairs which committee (as a PM selects a cabinet) or should the group vote on it?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Do They Mean Me?

Much of the last few days has been spent with my councillor's hat on, reading through a couple of hundred pages relating to Asda's planning appeal in the ward that I serve. (That's Walmart for you American types).

What's amused me most is the line tucked away where it describes the ward councillor as being 'well organised'. I think they mean me - which is odd. In my 48 years, none of my relatives, friends, teachers or employers has ever called me 'well organised'. I'm quite touched ...
Chris expresses his own views on this weblog.

I write this blog in a private capacity , but just in case I mention any elections here is a Legal Statement for the purposes of complying with electoral law: This website is published and promoted by Ron Oatham, 8 Brixham Close , Rayleigh Essex on behalf of Liberal Democrat Candidates all at 8 Brixham Close.