15 Minutes #GE2017: Who to vote for?

The general election is fast approaching, and I thought I’d write about it on my blog. However, to stop it just turning into a massive rant I’m keeping it simple and to a 15 minute timer. So here we go.

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Ever since Theresa May announced the snap election a few weeks back the British press has been working itself up. The parties have been scrutinised, they’ve made announcements and they’ve started pitching their manifestos.

Now, I think voting is something everyone should do but I can understand people’s hesitation and doubts over our current system. I’m living in a different constituency at the moment, one currently held by the Conservatives and it leaves me in an odd position of not knowing who to vote for.

Under a proportional representation system it would be simple enough, and I would just pick the party I agree with the most. However, the first past the post measure that we employ in the UK means that there has to be some tactical voting, which sucks as it means voting against someone instead of for.

I’m currently inclined to vote for Plaid Cymru, as I respect their leader, agree with their policies and as we blunder into Brexit talks, would like someone to speak up for Wales in a way that I don’t think the other parties will.

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However, Plaid aren’t much of a force in the Vale of Glamorgan and so it’s likely to come down to Labour vs the Tories.

The Tories are right out of course. Their austerity push has just caused people to suffer and there is a startling lack of empathy about them. Witness how the NHS is doing in England under Tory rule. I also don’t like the “no deal is better than a bad deal” argument and the bullishness approaching Brexit.

And frankly, I don’t trust the Tories to serve the public properly. And I don’t want to see the NHS slowly fall apart until they can justify scrapping it. Look at healthcare in the States, and you realise that for all it’s flaws, the NHS is a brilliant creation and something we should be proud of.

So, to stop them do I vote for Plaid and hope they have an upswing in support? Or do I vote for Labour, a party I don’t have much warmth for.

Here’s the thing, I regard Labour as better than the Tories, but that’s taken a beating in my lifetime. It was a Labour government that lied to the public and entered an illegal war which has caused far more problems than any it solved.

And the party hasn’t helped itself over the last year or so with some monumental gaffes, infighting and by failing to stage a meaningful opposition to the Tories. Theresa May isn’t a strong PM, but she’s never really had to look like one because Corbyn has been so ineffectual on the opposite side of the house.

He seems a decent bloke, and some of his ideas are sound, but I can’t see him as a leader and I think Labour are so fractured that they would struggle to hold it together. May might have pushed the “strong and stable” line to hard, but at least the Tories all seem capable of falling in line behind a leader. Labour seem to have split, and there’s a nastiness to both factions. They’ve made it alarmingly easy for the Tories, by looking massively incompetent and disorganised in opposition.

Worse yet, Corbyn has announced that he won’t make a coalition with other parties, which seems foolhardy. If both of the parties fail to secure a majority he’ll be in an impossible position, either holding to his position and allowing the Tories to form a coalition and retain power, or else go back on his word and catch hell for it.

No, I think as a party leader you have to acknowledge that if you don’t get a majority you’ll do your best for the public and form a coalition with like minded parties.

As for the other parties? Well, there’s not much there:

  • The Lib Dems- They have a few decent policies and have cleverly set themselves up as the anti-Brexit party after Labour put up very little resistence to May’s plans. But the sting of 2010 still lingers and they don’t seem to have much of a chance.
  • The Greens- I admire the Greens for their enthusiasm, and they have some decent policies, but they haven’t got a hope, have they?
  • UKIP- Never.
  • Independents- They may be well meaning but I can’t think of one who actually made it to Westminster, and once there they are a lone voice. That being said, with the right manifesto and the right candidate it’s a possibility.

I guess I still have some thinking to do on this before I go to the polls.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Hey, speedy! You are a real criminal!

Apparently the punishment for being caught speeding is going to be stricter in the UK from next month (source). The announcement has been covered in a weird way by the press in a way that highlights an odd view of speeding we have here.

There are frequent articles in the tabloids where they whinge about speed cameras. The general feel is that this is a waste of police time and they should be going after “the real criminals”.

Here’s the thing, if you’re speeding YOU ARE A CRIMINAL. You’re breaking the law, and putting others at risk. Why this isn’t seen as a real crime boggles the mind, especially as the same papers are ready and willing to pile on when someone kills a kid while speeding.

If you regularly speed but haven’t had an accident yet, it doesn’t mean you’re a great driver. It means you’re lucky. Ayrton Senna was a great driver, and it didn’t work out for him.

The whole coverage is bizarre. They talk about speed cameras and anti-speeding measures like their some kind of cheap trick. That it’s grossly unfair.

People share where the vans are on Facebook like their getting one over on the cops and this is a good thing. But imagine any other crime handled the same way.

“Word to the wise, the police have got sniffer dogs at the airport! Don’t let the bastards catch you out!”

“Coppers caught me stealing a TV. I explained mine was broke and X Factor was about to start but they didn’t care. Heartless pricks.”

“The one time I assault someone I get arrested. Why aren’t the cops out there arresting real criminals instead of hassling people like me?”

It’s ludicrous. Take the Metro article and the headline:

“Here’s what you need to know” and yet the article isn’t just “Don’t Speed!” in big letters.

So, the punishment has got worse, you shouldn’t have been doing it anyway. 

It’s simple enough- there is a law for how fast you can go. It is a law designed to protect you and others. If you exceed it you are breaking the law and a criminal.

You can whine, you can make excuses, but the way to avoid the fines and hassle? Obey the speed limit.

Drive safe.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO. 


A belated thank you to Dr Heimlech

This weekend saw the passing of Dr Henry Heimlich, famous for his life saving technique. I’m not going to lie reading his brief obit from the Beeb there were two things that hit me (a) surprise, as I thought he was already dead and (b) shock, as I’d assumed the manoeuvre had been around a lot longer.

1974?! It took us longer to work out how to stop someone choking than it did to get to the moon! 

The manoeuvre being used by Mrs Doubtfire

Anyway, I felt bad that he had only just died as I should have probably written and thanked him because without the good doctor’s invention I wouldn’t be writing this post.

Back in the early nineties I was on the yard at primary school eating an aniseed ball and reenacting the death of a minor film character when the sweet lodged itself in my throat and began to choke. Panic rose in my friends and I but we hurried inside and found a dinner lady.

They may have almost killed me but I am now massively craving some

The dinner lady, her name sadly forgotten, kept a cool head and several abdominal thrusts (as the manoeuvre is known as by many) later the red sweet hurled from my mouth, skittering across the school corridor.
So, thank you anonymous dinner lady and Doctor Heimlich, for saving my life and stopping me from being a playground legend and warning against sweets.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


15 Minute Blog: Out and Down

I could write for hours about today’s events, but let’s keep this brief, shall we?

Britain has voted to leave the EU. Yesterday, reassuring MWF I had said that I felt the British people would do the right thing and not gamble the future on nostalgic nationalism, fear and intolerance.

I gave my countrymen too much credit.

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And so we are out.

It feels unreal, and watching Nigel Farage celebrating is enough to chill the blood. This is the face of the British future, a rich, upper class toff cheering after he duped a nation into voting against it’s best interests.

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Areas like Neath Port Talbot voted to leave despite the fact that it is the EU that provides funding for these deprived areas. And now they have decided to shut the door, and must hope that a Tory government in Westminster matches that money.

Hope.

That is all I have left. The hope that our fears are not realised and that this is a step toward a better and brighter Britain, but I doubt it is.

The whole leave campaign has been built to play to the national character’s worst traits- misplaced nationalism, fear, intolerance and greed. Fear of the other, the different.

People who still see Britain as a global powerhouse, the country that ruled the world. But we’re not anymore. We are a small country, with no great industry left and must hope that we can forge trade deals on our own. That we can stand alone after leaving a network of support and cooperation.

Should the Leave gamble fail, we can’t just hit a reset button. And the next few years could get rough.

And going forward we seem to be lurching to the right. Anti-migrant feeling was stoked during the campaign, and they made out that somehow we had lost Britain and needed to “take it back”, and once that xenophobic genie is out if the bottle, we ain’t getting it back in. Bigots like Britain First and some UKIP supporters will be emboldened by this, and minorities must be anxious about what our future holds.

The whole Leave campaign played the ill informed masses like a fiddle. It used revolutionary language about “taking control”, “a new era” and “people power” but it was an act.

A new era? We will still have a Tory public school boy in Downing Street, it will just be a different one and Farage and Johnson are not the anti-establishment figures some view them as. Johnson is a dyed in the wool Tory, and Farage is just another toff who decided that he had a better chance carving out a niche with UKIP than as a Tory. That they convinced the working class voters that they were standing up for them beggars belief and celebration over David Cameron stepping down feels foolhardy.

Yes, Cameron is gone, but it will be another Tory who takes over and we will still be following the same theme. In fact we may even see them grow more right wing and able to do more now they are free of the EU and it’s policies. The hydra’s head regrows.

I am trying to stay hopeful. But as the future stretches out before us it seems a dark and uncertain path, and I expect there to be many stumbles on the way.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Votey McVotefarce (see what I did there?)

Yesterday was election day here in the UK, with the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and English councils being decided. There were also mayoral elections in London and other cities.

As a lecturing do-gooder I urged my “friends” on social media to get down to the polls and vote, but at least I didn’t write a whole blog about it this time.

Election day is full of frustration as people whine about how pointless the whole thing is. If I hear that “if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal” quote one more time I will explode. It’s almost as bad as the “all are bad as each other” argument. Really? You’re putting the Greens, who want us to look after nature, at the same level as Britain First, a bunch of moronic racists?

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There are clearly parties that are worse than others, and that you disagree with less, so you have a preference. State it! At the very least your vote will diminish the numbers for the part you like least, and they may loose their deposit.

So, your vote does matter, and you should use it!

Although it is hard making this argument as after a day devoted to democracy the government then torpedoed a vote.

You probably heard that earlier this it was decided that the UK needed a new Arctic research boat. No big deal, but then it caught fire, because of the arrival of a well intentioned idiot, who decides that the population would get to suggest and vote for the name of the ship.

This is the British public who love a laugh and chance to take the mickey. This was a free vote, and the British public have illustrated that they will pay for this opportunity. Don’t believe me? Jedward, Irish talent voids made it to 6th place on the X Factor!

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So, after a few suggestions of questionable names, one took on a life of it’s own.

Boaty McBoatface.

You can see why it took off. It was silly without being offensive, and it does make you smile. The first time.

It gained steam and stormed to an impressive lead, prompting some to complain that it was an insult to arctic researchers, demeaning and awkward to use on the radio.

So, democracy wins, launch Boaty McBoatface!

Ummm, no.

They decided it was silly and named it Sir David Attenborough.

Now, I have nothing but affection and respect for Sir David. Don’t all Brits? But it seems unfair to ignore the will of the people, even if it is a name we don’t object to.

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No disrespect, sir.

If you ask for a vote you have to honour it. It’s your fault that you didn’t put in some kind of selection process or filter, you left the door open and the jokers stormed in. Deal with it.

Anyway, rant over. Despite my ire can we stop the Boaty McBoatface gags now? It’s all played out.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Kids on Strike

It sounds like a dream. It sounds like something my ten year old self would have lost his mind over. A strike from school, all of us deciding to not go in, and our parents actually backing us up. It never would have happened.

But it has.

It’s all in protest against the SATs which are exams kids have to take at different key stages. I know the SATs well. In 1996 my class was the first to take them in our primary.

Parents argue that the exams are additional, unnecessary stress and that it stops kids from developing a love of education, putting them on the treadmill of exams. I agree totally, but I have mixed feelings about whether all of those reasons justify scrapping it.

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Fight the power!

Our SATs arrived with little fanfare and our teacher, Mrs. G, played down the importance, she explained how it would work and how the tests would help them divide us up for comprehensive. Until now we were divided by age (I was the second half of the year) but in comp there were going to be about 200 kids and we’d be divided on ability. The SATs, along with our school reports would decide which class we were in.

This was kind of important and fairer than letting our teachers alone decide. Mrs. G was sound, but had it been left up to another of my primary teachers Mrs. B I’d have been in the bottom set. Hell, she’d probably have lobbied for me to go to borstal.

So the exams made sense. And as from the next year on we’d have exams every year, it was good practice. I mean, they could have dodged it but in secondary there were end of year exams so the shock of the first exam would just have been temporarily delayed.

One thing that did come into effect was stress. I remember despite the best efforts of Mrs. G it did get out that they were kind of important. It also didn’t help that some parents were a bit pushier and competitive than others and this bled through to the kids.

Thankfully, I avoided a lot of this stress by being pretty confident that I wasn’t thick and because of my natural laziness. My Dad in the coming years would despair of my “that’ll do” attitude where I did just enough to pass and move on with average grades.

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He told me after my A Levels that I was just as smart as my sisters, but that they applied themselves better. They would work hard, pushing themselves and strive for greatness and reaped the rewards- straight As for the lot of them. I however, was more than happy with the B and C grades I collected and not that bothered by the E I got for Religious Studies at A Level (I’d missed a lot of lectures and was actually happy that I’d got more than a fail).

This attitude may have kept me on a track of mediocrity but at least I was happy and relaxed. I have two clear memories of the SATs, and one is related to stress.

S, a girl who lived on my street and who was not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, worked herself into a right state over the stress. She was oddly quiet on the bus stop, she wasn’t sleeping and several times she just burst into tears. It seemed unfair to heap that much stress onto a girl who had almost been broken by the Take That split.

Here my Dad actually showed a delicate, tactful touch that is utterly out if character for him. The day of the first exam saw the invention of “the magic sweets”. My Dad handed out Cadbury Eclairs and insisted that they were lucky. Perhaps his standing as a doctor, or our childish love of sweets was responsible, but it calmed everyone at the bus stop. S, would, however, be reduced to tears after every exam.

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Magic sweets

My Dad also then found himself having to buy Eclairs every academic year to see my sisters and I through our education.

S did alright but was shuffled into a lower set. My best friend Dai and I were split up, both taking places in the middle of the pack classes, and we found ourselves latching on to whichever familiar face was in our class.

I think the SATs served a purpose, at least at 11, younger than that is just a waste of time, but did stress out some of my classmates and could have been done in a less formal manner. But on the other hand, it meant I was ready for my first end of year exams in comprehensive.

At least they were better than the 11 Plus exams my parents endured, which pretty much decided your life’s path at eleven. That seems grossly unfair.

Should kids do exams? Probably not, but you have to work out how well everyone is doing so they can be divided up in secondary school, and exams are the best way we have so far, even with their flaws.

I can see why parents aren’t happy, and I think the setting up of education as an old fashioned game where you just go level to level is a mistake, but will the strike help? And do the kids really care, or are they just happy for another day off? They just had a three day weekend! Now they’re stretching it to four? Kids today.

No matter. In the long run the SATs had no lasting effect on me, they cemented my suspicion that I was in the top half academically and that I could handle exams. And they meant that I require a sweet before any test I take, but that’s it really.

The only memory I have of the exams themselves was a science question about milk bottles. It was a series of bottles, each filled to a different level. The question was something like “If Johnny blows across the top of bottle it makes a noise. The noise is different depending on how full the bottle is. Mark which bottle would make the deepest noise.”

I remember looking at that question for at least a minute. Our science education was pretty basic, in fact I think we did two sessions when Mrs. G realised there was an exam coming. None of them had been about milk bottles.

I tried to work it out and then thought, to hell with it, and guessed. It’s twenty years later and I still have no clue how the fullness of the bottle effects the sound produced. But, shockingly, it hasn’t really come up since. Although maybe it has stopped me from being a bluegrass star.

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Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


#FreeKesha: What about the men?

Earlier this week pop star Kesha was in court trying to get released from her contract with Sony and Kemosabe. The situation is horribly ugly for the singer, who finds herself trapped in a deal and obligated to record six more albums with a man who has abused her, producer DJ Luke.

I’ll make no bones about it, I believe and support Kesha and feel the position she finds herself in is disgraceful.

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Kesha

Before anyone cries “innocent until proven guilty”, I understand the concept but in cases of rape it’s a tricky one to apply. Because in presuming the accused innocent we are suggesting that the victim is lying.

Our culture has some serious issues with rape and one major problem is that victims are often placed under the microscope in ways that are grossly unfair, and their accusation is suspected and questioned.

Regardless of dress, lifestyle or profession, rape is rape. Yet, we get comments on how much women have drunk, what they wore or where they went. It all seems to suggest that in some way the victim was “asking for it”. No woman is asking for it.

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Personally, I think the victim should be believed and protected. That should be the starting point and investigation can come later.

False rape claims are rare and a woman has very little to gain from lying, as mentioned it places them under scrutiny and especially in Kesha’s case it doesn’t make sense.

If it was just a case of the relationship being strained she could have merely gritted her teeth and ground out six albums as quickly as possible. If Fleetwood Mac could make Rumours while the members were breaking up, then a personality clash would be easily overcome.

The news that a judge refused her appeals to be released is so infuriating and upsetting, as were images of Kesha reduced to tears in court. A young woman is being forced to make a horrible choice- give up the career she has built and loves, or go and work with a man who was physically and emotionally abusive to her.

Nobody should be forced to interact with their abuser and the judge’s ruling seemed more about business than the issues involved.

Really dropping the ball are Sony, who look terrible on this whole thing. Firstly, they seem to be siding with DJ Luke, which is not cool and secondly they appear to be putting profit over Kesha’s wellbeing. Sony could have handled it a lot better. They could have just let Kesha go and cut losses, or else worked something out where Kesha stayed with them but the link to DJ Luke was severed and he would not be involved or profit from her work.

Either option would have left them looking a damn sight better than they do now.

Thankfully there is some support for Kesha, with the #freekesha hashtag spreading online as people call for Sony to let her go and support her in what is a difficult time. She herself has thanked and acknowledged the help of her fans, but for it to really take effect she needs her fellow pop stars to help too.

This unfortunately has thrown up a new issue, one which highlights a clear failing in how we discuss rape. Several female celebrities came out in support including Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson, Lily Allen, Lorde and Arianna Grande.

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While this is heartening to see, it turned a bit sour as Demi Lovato used it to apparently snipe at Taylor Swift for doing nothing. Petty point scoring was not a good thing to see.

The question that comes up here is, where are the men?

We expect the other female stars to rally, because of “sisterhood” but yet we let male stars off the book. Why haven’t Kesha’s former collaborators Pitbull and Flo Rida shown their support?

Rape and abuse our uncomfortable subjects, and ones that men have trouble engaging with. It’s not something we have to fear as much, and fear of saying the wrong thing lurks at the back of your mind. But we have to speak out, we need to show Kesha that we support her too, that we condemn the actions of DJ Luke and men like him.

We need to show that we believe those who come forward with allegations of abuse, that we believe they should be heard and the guilty punished. We need to show that we agree that rape is wrong and there are no excuses.

If more men were out there voicing this then perhaps our attitudes towards rape will change. That the discussion will change so that we focus on the issues that lead some men to feel they are entitled to a woman’s body no matter what and not what the woman could/should have done differently.

The victim is never responsible, the one responsible is the person doing the abuse.

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Kesha is in a position many victims of abuse aren’t: she’s rich, successful and has a platform to voice what happened to her. Despite all these advantages the system has failed her and she is still expected to work and make money for her abuser.

I hope that things change, I hope that there is a happy ending for Kesha. I hope that her courage in speaking out helps other victims to do the same and I hope that it can help our society adopt a better and more supportive attitude towards victims.

We need to change. And men need to take part in that. Nobody is saying it’s all men, but it’s too many men and they don’t get made in a vacuum, we need to understand why these men think and act the way they do and what we can do to make sure less of them do.

I stand with Kesha #freekesha

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Soldiers are being investigated. This is not something to be mad about.

Apologies, this one is a bit of a rant.

It was announced today that around 60 cases investigating unlawful killings by UK forces in Iraq have been dropped. This follows the MoD looking into it and deciding not to proceed in these cases (story here).

This is of course good news for those involved, and false claims should be disregarded, however, the response to the news online shows a worrying attitude shared by many people.

This is the belief that all claims against UK soldiers should be thrown out and that “our boys” (they’re always talking about the “boys”, the British public still slightly squeamish about women doing the killing and dying) are somehow above reproach. For me this is not only incredibly stupid but also potentially dangerous.

If our soldiers are allowed to do whatever they want without consequence how can we stand in judgement on enemy combatants when they do wrong? War is hell and chaotic, but there is at least some sense of what is right and what is wrong, and those who transgress are held accountable, even if it is after the fact. Without this all manner of evil could be done.

This blind faith that “our boys and girls” are immune to the callousness and cruelty that war can breed in people is willful blindness to reality. The men and women who serve in our forces are human beings, and while many have good intentions and try to do right there will be some who do wrong. Putting on a uniform does not transform someone into a paragon of virtue. Enlisting does not a hero make.

We have a duty to prosecute and punish those who commit crimes during war. If we don’t then we are failing our values, the very thing that they are meant to be fighting to protect. Those who break the law must be tried and pay for their crimes if found guilty.

To allow soldiers to evade this undermines the idea of justice we should aim for- that justice is blind and that all are equal. Whether the victim is a British citizen, foreign civilian or even enemy combatants, they have rights and should be treated fairly, when they are not, they all deserve justice.

Similarly, a criminal is a criminal, even if they wear our country’s uniforms.

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There will of course be fraudulent or exaggerated cases, and lawyers who seek a quick buck, but hopefully these cases will be resolved and the innocent walk free, but the guilty must be brought to justice.

It’s in the best interests to investigate them all so that the false ones can be dismissed and not just hang over the accused, continuing to sow doubt. An investigation that clears someone is obviously better than just ignoring the allegations.

Pursuing them is not wrong, and wanting them punished is not unpatriotic. Hell, not being patriotic isn’t a failing or a bad thing, in fact, we need to be objective when we think of our country, and ready and willing to call it on when it is wrong or could be better.

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But for those still clinging to the idea of patriotism as a virtue, then surely the prosecution of wrongdoers in our military is patriotic. It helps protect the country’s reputation and that of our military. We should be ashamed of events like Bloody Sunday and the death of Baha Mousa, we should not be ashamed to investigate them (even if it comes far too late).

We should be proud that we do not tolerate abuse from our troops and that we execute justice against them. We should strive for transparency so that we know what “our boys and girls” are doing in our name, and to ensure that they behave appropriately.

Pursuing them is not disrespect, it is an attempt for justice. Nobody is above the law. Is it disrespectful to go after a criminal?

By all means honour our troops and praise them if you want, but don’t do it blindly. Don’t shout down any suggestion that they are not superheroes without flaws, because they’re not. Don’t act as though prosecuting them is unfair or wrong, because it benefits none of us to have a situation where our soldiers can do whatever they want without consequence.

We need to be able to question and hold our soldiers accountable, as we do our politicians and police officers. It’s what keeps them (relatively) honest and stops them being able to do terrible things in our name.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


In memory of Alan Rickman. In defence of Emma Watson

This week saw the passing of Alan Rickman, a truly great actor who appeared in many great movies like Die Hard, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Love Actually, Galaxy Quest, Dogma and Sense & Sensibility, where he oozed dignity and decency as Brandon.

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To a younger generation he will always be known as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter series. Leading the tributes were his former costars, including the former child stars of those films.

Emma Watson tweeted several times, one of which included this image and quote.

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It made sense for Watson, a vocal campaigner for women’s rights to post this but she was soon under attack from various tweeters who felt she was out of line for “pushing her own agenda” and exploiting Rickman’s death.

Frankly these comments are utterly daft and disrespectful. These strangers are attacking someone who actually knew Rickman for years for how they grieve and remember him. As fans it hurt us, but for those who knew him it must have been far worse.

Also, why shouldn’t she post this?

All of us can comment on his acting abilities, and I’m sure Watson will praise his skills as a performer. What she’s doing with this quote is showing that as well as being a marvellous talent he was a decent bloke with sensible views.

The quote shows him in a good light, it shows a man who believed in a equality and unlike many online knew what feminism is about.

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Watson probably chose this message because it echoed her views and also because it’s statements like this that are part of the reason she admired and now mourns Alan Rickman.

Exploiting his death? No, just showing why she respected him.

The sad thing is that people felt the need to attack someone and  object to an “agenda” which is about equality and fairness. Read the above definition, that’s what Watson and Rickman support, equal opportunities and rights for everyone.

If you attack that you’re basically coming out in favour of a system which places some above others just because of their gender, and that’s a crap thing to defend.

So, I think Watson did nothing wrong and those objecting come from a position of ignorance or hostility.

In closing, I just want to say Rest in Peace, Alan Rickman, you were a great actor, I never tired of watching you and thanks for all the great work you left us.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Aaaaaalvin! Or why Bournemouth council suck

There are some stories that just get your back up. Moments where someone acts with such a degree of unpleasantness that you find yourself swearing at the newspaper/TV/computer you heard about it from.

The other day I got mad at a whole town council. The council of Bournemouth on the South coast of England. I don’t think I’ve ever been to the town, or if I have it didn’t make much of an impression.

So what had the representatives of the town done?

Well, at the bus station they play Alvin and the Chipmunks at full blast. All night.

I used to watch the Chipmunks as a kid, but even then I got that they were kind of annoying. But having to listen to them while waiting for a bus? That would suck.

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What makes it worse is the reason for the decision, as Bournemouth have chosen the vocal vermin in order to stop homeless people sleeping at the bus station.

Now, I can appreciate that their may be concerns over public safety or crime, or whatever, but this still seems rather callous. It’s the middle of winter for pity’s sake! The bus station offers shelter from the elements and safety for these vulnerable people and the council have taken that away from them. Well, unless they want Guantanamo style torments.

If they wanted to get homeless people to stop going to the bus station there were kinder solutions. They could have opened new shelters, which would have been far more helpful and utilised empty buildings (for more about empty buildings being used for the homeless read this). This could have also provided jobs for the staff at the shelters and given those using them some stability and access to services which could help them.

But Bournemouth council seemed to have opted for a crueller and easier option, which they should be ashamed of. They have turned their back on vulnerable people, and deprived them of somewhere they could get a bit of sleep in relative safety. Instead they have been left at the mercy of the elements.

Shape up, Bournemouth!

Story here.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.