22 March 2010


We are all guilty of making assumptions about people, me included. We shouldn’t but we’re given a set of circumstances, a personality, maybe things are said, perhaps taken out of context and assumptions are made. It’s easy!

One assumption that is frequently made about me by many people including family and close friends is that I support and vote for The Labour Party….that’s the so called pinko lefties to anyone outside the UK. Well I don’t and I don’t and if there is one thing the Labour Party is not, is pinko lefty!

True until 1996 I was a fully paid up card carrying member of said party but I had been unhappy with the direction that the party was travelling in for a couple of years, well since 1994 actually and the election of Tony Blair as Party Leader. A close friend of mine said that I wasn’t to worry because once they got into power all those socialist principles would be remembered and taken up again; the party was just trying to attract the middle class, middle Britain vote. I wasn’t so sure but what nailed it for me was the wording of plans for university education in the manifesto of 1997. There was no mention of abolishing the student maintenance grant or even of tuition fees but the manifesto did state that university expansion could not be funded from taxation and that student maintenance should be "repaid by graduates on an income-related basis".

Maybe I think too much but this sentence struck to the core of my own beliefs about how education should be open to all and not just be the privilege of those who could afford it. And before anyone says a word I was latecomer to further education, a mature student who paid her own fees and didn't get a maintenance grant, so I wasn’t be a protectionist for something I had personally enjoyed. I knew in my heart that if my reading of this one small sentence in the manifesto was right then there were some horrors I could just not defend that would come into being come the labour election victory.

So I didn’t vote labour in 1997 and I haven’t voted labour since, nor will I ever vote labour again until a return is made to many of the old labour principles and beliefs. Presumably that will be the day pigs fly over my house! I do vote in every election, local or national but I flit and float hoping to find something and someone who is worthy of my hard fought for vote. Alas, and maybe I am making some assumptions myself here, there doesn’t appear to be many politicians around these days that are worthy of the trust and the vote of ordinary people. Oh and I have never and will never vote Tory!

I read it right though, that small sentence, because just after the 1997 election, the new labour government not only abolished the maintenance grant but introduced tuition fees too. Ok so the grant is back but it doesn’t even cover the fees. What a waste of time, effort and resources, giving something in one hand to take back with extras in the other, just to keep civil servants and student loan companies in jobs.

I am so frustrated! But not so frustrated as to vote labour!

5 March 2010


Every other weekend my daughter goes to stay with her Dad for 2 nights. This has meant that now my son is a responsible (ha ha) mature (ha ha ha) nearly 16 year old that I take the opportunity to help him gain more independence, responsibility and maturity by leaving him home alone for a 24 hour period. He loves it. He eats curry all weekend, can play his music very loudly and can watch whatever he likes on the 42" TV in the living room.

He's pretty good. I have had no complaints of wild parties (we leave that to the mature (NOT), responsible (NOT NOT) 22 year old who lives next door who goes absolutely wild every time his parents are away) or queues of young women awaiting entrance. I can't smell anything remotely of the wackiest baccy on returning home, just curry. However my gripe relates to the fact that when I leave, the house is clean and tidy and yet 24 hours later it looks like a student flat that hasn't been tidied or cleaned for a term.

I have tried asking ever so politely and pleasantly that he tidy up before I return home; hasn't worked. I have threatened removal of laptop and/or switching off of router; hasn't worked. I've yelled and done the usual Mother Going Nuts impression; hasn't worked. I've tried calling saying I'll be home in half an hour and would he tidy up; hasn't worked.

So now I've come up with the ultimate. I've just informed him that if I get home this Sunday and the house is a tip then I shall be fitting padlocks to all relevant doors so that he cannot access certain rooms. Judging by his reaction it might just work!

4 March 2010

Why do I feel so guilty?

I don't mind admitting that I'm on a tight budget these days. The four holidays a year to foreign climes are long gone. This years holiday is courtesy of my tesco vouchers, hoarded over the last two years for the day I knew would come. I don't buy clothes for myself except with birthday and Christmas money or when something nice and decent catches my eye in one of the three local charity shops. Although the recession has something to do with this situation, in that valued clients of many years standing have gone out of business, the main reason is the departure of the Ex and his utter failure to appreciate just how much is spent on the children plus who would look after my Mom if I didn't? However I'm not complaining. I'm luckier than most. My house is owned outright so at least I don't have a mortgage and if push comes to shove it can always be sold in a downsizing exercise. I grow a lot of my own for consumption in summer and autumn months. I make my own greetings cards and have taken to making presents now too. If I can't afford to buy it cash I don't have it. I still have a good existence and can honestly say that I lack for nothing essential.

This evening a knock on the door revealed the caller to be from the local dairy touting for business for the local self employed milkman. I used this dairy for doorstep deliveries until a few years ago because Mick the Milkman had been a family friend forever but when he left, after being badly treated by said dairy, I waved them goodbye. Dairyman asked me where I purchased my milk. Simple says I, 4 pints for a £1 from Iceland. I felt the intake of breath rather than saw it and knew I was in for a grave look and a lecture on how dairy farmers were going out of business because of this sort of loss leading pricing and had I seen the channel 4 documentary? My expectation didn't go unrewarded and I let him speak without interruption. My response was that I would love to be able to afford the luxury of supporting dairy farmers and also other suppliers of say fair trade products but I can't. It's a struggle on a daily basis and a 70 pence saving multiplied by 4 and again by 52 buys the school uniforms and shoes for a year. He shook his head, thanked me for my time and walked away.

So why do I feel so damn guilty? I used have the luxury of being able to chose carefully what suppliers and products I purchased but now, value for money is the key factor and all these, what appear to be insignificant amounts do add up. Perhaps I should cut down on the few pounds a week I allow myself for my own gratification such as a couple of pints of cider or a bottle of wine? My pleasures are simple and not expensive but now I feel guilty for being part of the mass that are causing the downfall of dairy farming in the UK!

Sometimes a conscience is a burden.