Griffin Bashing and #BBCQT

I did something that I rarely do and watched an episode of Question Time last night. It seemed a “must see” piece of television as earlier in the evening the BBC faced a brunt of protests outside Television Centre with the arrival of Nick Griffin of the British National Party to the studios.

There were about 1,000 people outside the TV centre protesting against the idea that the BBC would give a voice to Nick Griffin on a political platform.

I only took in bits and pieces in last nights programme as I found myself on Twitter watching the cascading flow of tweets on twitterfall whilst people around the country tuned in to watch old goblin face.

The BNP had come under criticism the previous day for using images of Spitfire air craft and Winston Churchill at their party conferences.

The first question posed to the panel, which included Labour MP and justice secretary Jack Straw, Conservative MP Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne and Curator of the British Museum Bonnie Greer, was whether it was fair the BNP had “hijacked” Winston Churchill’s image for use in their campaigns.

Jack Straw was first respond. He said that the BNP had no right to use Churchill’s image. He said the BNP has no moral compass and says that WWI and WWII was only won with the help of many black and Asian people. He also said a race-based party has no standing in the UK.

Nick Griffin’s response to defend his party’s use of Churchill’s image was that the party chose Churchill as an image because no other party would, due to some of his political philosophies. IE: that he thought there was a real threat of over-migration and that he was worried about the impact of fundamental Islam. Griffin went on to say “I’m not a Nazi and I never have been.”

Erm…really? Then what’s this?

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He also ended with a personal attack on JS saying “My father was in the RAF in the second World War whilst Mr. Straw’s father was in prison for refusing to fight Adolf Hitler.”

What relevance this had on proceedings was hard to decipher. When host Daivd Dimbleby asked why he made this statement he said “Jack Straw was attacking me and I have been being continually attack for the last week.”

Oh, grow up man! And as for Jack Straw attacking you personally, he did nothing of the sort! I dare ask who was the braver in that time, Griffin’s father for being in the RAF (he didn’t say what role he had – my uncle was in the RAAF, but he was a chef!), or Straw’s for being a conscientious objector?

Still on the issue, Bonnie Greer pointed out that Churchill’s own mother was American and her family had possible Mohican Indian descendants, therefore questioning the BNP’s choice for Churchill’s image being that of a “British white role model” that the BNP was looking for.

Chris Huhne chimed into the discussion with his personal views on what he thought the BNP as a party, represented. He said the BNP is “scape-goating” politics. Peddling hatred and fear. Churchill would be rolling in his grave (at having his image being used by the BNP, or being associated with them). He was never a fascist.

Huhne also quoted Nick Griffin as once saying he thought “Yes, Adolf went a bit too far.” He then asked Griffin what part of “too far” did he think Hitler had gone? Slaughtering millions of Jews? Invading Poland and France? Bombing innocent people in Britain?

Griffin amongst his replies says “I brought the BNP out of being a racist party.”

WHAT THE F**K??

David Dimbleby quotes him as saying (not ver batim) “Let’s start out (the BNP) as being moderate to win votes/support. Then we’ll reveal our true agenda.” When asked about this and his involvement with David Duke he said “David Duke was the head of a non-violent arm of the KKK”. This statement had people in the audience and the other panel members in groans of disbelief.

Nick Griffin would shy away from responses to most quotes read to him of things he’d said. Jack Straw confronted him on this. He said (not ver batim) “When we give a quote of something you said you make a defence of saying ‘Oh, I never said that. That’s not quite right.’ But you are there on YouTube, in videos, actually saying these things. Time and again he (refering to Griffin, addressing the audience) wants to wriggle out of it…This guy is the Dr. Strangelove of British politics!”

A question came from an audience member asking why he believes the holocaust was a myth, Griffin said, “I cannot explain why I used to say those things, I can’t tell you (groans and shouts from the audience) any more than I can tell you why I’ve changed my mind, I can’t tell you the extent that I’ve changed my mind because the European law prevents me.”

This was dismissed as bunkum. He was asked to explain why he’d changed his mind about his denial of the holocaust and he gave some lame excuse about hearing radio intercepts of German recordings or something. Jack Straw said “Why would you need that? Were the images from Auschwitz not enough for you”?

Sayeeda Warsi revealed to the audience that he’d shared a platform with Islamic extremist Abu Hamsa after some time of discussing his views on Islam and what he thought of aspects of the Muslim faith. He said he didn’t agree with much of it. It’s treatment of women, etc.

Bonnie Greer said that Griffin starts his history at around 1700 to bypass Roman rule because it doesn’t fit in with the BNP’s “white agenda”. In Roman times there was an influx of many ethnicities, not just Romans.

Baroness Warsi says we need a cap on immigration. She also said she thought that why many people vote or support the BNP is not because they are racist but it is because they are concerned about immigration.

Jack Straw counters this by saying a party like the BNP has been in the British political system on and off since the 1930’s. That the BNP’s recent success in the European elections was NOT due to people with racist leanings voting for them, but it was purely votes gained from protests over the MP’s expenses saga.

On immigration Griffin said successive British governments were committing calculated genocide on the “indigenous white population” of Britain.

WWWHHHHHAAAAAAATT??

Bonnie Greer quoted Griffin saying the BNP are for the “indigenous Ice Age”. She replied, “But there are no people from ‘the indigenous Ice Age’ in the UK.” The UK was populated around 17,000 years ago from people from the south. They certainly didn’t come from the north. How could they get here? “We all know now that we (the population of the world) are all descended from Africa. You should know this Nick, you have a 2:2 in history. The only people who were here on this continent (Europe) 17,000 years ago, and I use the term ‘people’ lightly, were Neanderthals”. Then, speaking to Griffin personally, “You can come to the British Museum and check. We’ve got a lot of information on it. I wish you’d come.”

Then a man from the audience was offered to ask a question to the panel, he said “Yes, I have a question for Dick, er, sorry I mean Nick Griffin”.

That made all us twitterers have a little giggle. Pretending he was making a mistake with his name. It was childish, but funny.

I’m not sure if the programme itself really got anywhere. It did seem to descend into an hour of Griffin-bashing, but perhaps it was worth it just for that. It was certainly entertaining watching twitterfall for the hour the programme was on.

I’ll leve it to the man himself to finish…

Weymouth Here We Come!

It’ll be just over 18 months since we’ve gone ANYWHERE, when we get to take a two night break to Weymouth. Weymouth is in Dorset, on England’s south coast. And as you can see by the image, not all English beaches are shingled, small and dull.

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You could actually be forgiven in thinking that I just nicked another one of my nephews photos taken on the south coast of New South Wales – LOOK AT THAT BEACH FRONT! THAT, my friends, is in England!

And we are going there in around four weeks time! Squeeee! I’ve been wanting to go to Weymouth for YEARS. Every since I saw the beach on a holiday programme about 6-7 years ago. It’s absolutely beautiful looking.

There’s a bit of travel involved. We’ve got to get ourselves to London first, and from there take a train to Weymouth. But the train goes directly to the town centre, and the beach front is like 0.5 mile (approx. 1km) from the station. And where we are staying is in walking distance of both the station and the beach front.

Oh, I just CANNOT wait to go! I’m hoping the next four weeks just fly by and the weather we experience when there is good and we have a lovely time. It’s been SSSOOO long!!!

I shall take the camera and get plenty of snaps.

It Ain’t ‘Alf Hot Mum. Heatwave Alert!

The UK is on Level 2 heatwave alert. I kid you not! This is really real!
Here is the guidelines for the alert levels from the Department of Health.

Heatwave Plan for England http://d.scribd.com/ScribdViewer.swf?document_id=16953929&access_key=key-1rzunppkhw94pbd69s8x&page=1&version=1&viewMode=

I was listening to the radio last night. A talkback programme with a guy Em likes to listen to called Clive Bull on the London station LBC. A lady called in talking about the heatwave warning levels. Clive wasn’t sure what the levels represented, so the lady was setting him straight…

She said “Well, level 2 is two consecutive days of temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius and level 3 is death…”. At this point Clive, somewhat shocked interrupted and said, “Level 3 is DEATH?!”

I’m not sure where this lady got her facts from, but level 3 is NOT death! lol She went on to elaborate that she meant “potential of death” – still incorrect. Clive’s reaction to the lady’s interpretation of the meaning of level 3 DID make me giggle though!

It *IS* making me laugh that there is a contingency plan in place for the weather to get hotter than any Brit is used to. Coming from a country where the average summertime temperature is rarely BELOW 30 degrees Celsius, makes the Brit contingency plan seem somewhat alarmist.

LEVEL 3 = DEATH!!!!!!

Be warned people!
LOL

Baby Blackbird Drama

I was just settling down to watch the Doctor Who – Planet of the Dead repeat (just to give it one last try to see if I didn’t change my mind about it) when a REAL drama unfolded.

Earlier in the day I’d spotted our resident male and female blackbirds (who I refer to as Mr & Mrs B). They were behaving quite erratic and seemed to be getting very flustered over the presence of a magpie. They both kept flying onto the fence on the other side of our strip of lawn, and going from there to the roof of the house opposite, to the fence again, and back and forth from the tree.

As I started to watch Planet of the Dead, Chrissy kept looking at the shrub outside. Then, suddenly Em spotted what must have been the cause of Mr & Mrs B’s earlier frenetic behaviour. There was a blackbird chick in the shrub outside our front room window! Chris was obviously in raptures. And I became enthralled too – and frantic – no 3rd chance for Planet of the Dead I’m afraid. Please be mindful there is sound on the video and it does contain some strong language (sorry).

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Here’s poor little bub looking defenceless in the shrub. Mr & Mrs B were fab though. They kept coming back to check on it and feed it. When they could find it! Mr B sort of knew where it was and came over to the shrub and fed it. A little while later Mrs B came over and did the same thing, then bub got the courage to try and fly back over to the other side of the garden.

What I think had happened earlier in the afternoon was that bub got lost in the shrubbery on the other side of the garden, by the fence. And I think Mr & Mrs B lost it for a while. It certainly explained their behaviour to me once I’d seen the baby.

So, now here is bub as he gets the courage to try to get over to the other side of the garden.

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We were watching with hearts in mouths. As you will see below, the poor bub JUST makes it over, flutters a bit on the fence, then takes shelter in the conifer tree. We kept watch. Mum and dad were still looking out for him. Mrs B even managed to feed bub while it was in the conifer.

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Eventually bub moves on, as you will see below.

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It’s on the compost bin now. Mum comes along with the BIGGEST worm to give to him, but can’t land near him. She keeps the worm for him! Bless!!

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From there he ended up in the hebe bush above, and stayed about 15-20 mintues. Then, finally, finally, after a bit of coaxing from mum and dad, he took a plunge for the oak tree. He made it!! Mum and dad kept on flying back and forth from the large conifer trees in the gardens beyond (where we think the nest might be). They were trying to entice him to fly with them over to the conifers. After a few minutes of wing flexing and branch hopping, he took one final leap. From what I could see he had just about enough energy to make it to the first branch of the conifers. There are three large ones in a row. I think he got to the first one, but I think the nest is in the third one, so he had a little bit of branch hopping to go to actually make it home.

Mum and dad were taking really good care of him the whole time though. I didn’t intervene as much as I wanted to. When I watch Springwatch, they say time and again, if you see a baby bird in peril, try not to intervene as you can make a bad situation worse. All I could do was keep watch and make sure he didn’t end up on the ground and look out for cats. The magpie was hanging around a bit, but mum and dad kept him away, and I don’t think he was even aware of the chick anyway.

I just hope the little thing made it and is okay. I haven’t seem Mr & Mrs B much today. They’ve only visited the garden once since I’ve been up. Mrs for a drink and a bite to eat, and Mr for his obligatory bath.

PS: In the time it’s taken me to upload the videos, I have seen a baby blackbird flapping around the conifers beyond where the nest is. I can’t be certain it’s THE baby, but I hope it is. At least I know it lives to fight another day 🙂

Odd Juxtaposing Day.

I feel very drained today. We ventured out yesterday. Got this free bus travel around the region and have hardly used it so far. We just went to Stevenage again. There’s a pet store there that I wanted to go to. It’s quite large and they have lots of small animals for sale. Bunnies, guinea pigs, chinchilla’s, gerbils, as well as degu’s. One of the gerbils looked just like our little Banjie, and he came up to the glass to say hello to me! Too cute. And me and Em were both going gaga over all the lovely CAVEY’S!

Anyway, we didn’t go there for the fluffy creatures, we went there to try and get some replacement equipment for the fish tank. There’s a split in the under-gravel filter and we need to get a new one. Of course they didn’t have one! But we were able to get a replacement glass scraper/cleaner and we bought two tubs of this stuff they are selling, which is kind of like a chewy version of Bonito tuna flakes/Kitty Kaviar. I was really hoping Chris would like it, ‘cos she goes MENTAL over the Kitty Kaviar, but she’s not keen. The texture is too heavy and chewy. It’s not light, dry and flaky like the Kitty Kaviar. She kept investigating it, went to eat it a couple of times, but then stopped. I just don’t think she likes the texture. BUM!

Anyway, while in Stevenage, we checked out Aldi and we got a little tray of mini Ritter Sport’s chocolates. Em got all dark chocs and marzipan, and I got all milk chocs with different centres.

And the local Tesco has an in-store Krispy Kreme counter, so I got my big Easter treat of a dozen original glazed doughnuts!!! YUM!

We went back to Hitchin for a while. We got some flower and vegetable seeds from the 9TP (where everything is 90p – hence the name. Cute pun!) shop. 15 packs of seeds for 90p! Then we got a couple of fruit tree/shrub/plants from another discount store. We got one blackberry and one blackcurrant for £2 each.

Anyway, on to today. As a result of yesterday’s adventures, I feel TRULY knackered. My legs started to hurt before we got home. By the time we were home, they’d died. My feet were aching like mad, and at that point, once I’ve rested, for next 36 hours, I find it incredibly uncomfortable to put any weight on my legs. They just ached and throbbed in bed all last night.

I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. I didn’t want to put weight on my legs and feet. I stayed in bed until 11.30am, then I knew I had to get up. Luckily I did, as my “friends” had just arrived and left a spot on my underwear – GODDAMNIT!! Just to add insult to injury, they arrive!

So, it’s a lovely sunny day, Em’s just gone off to some allotment society thing at another allotment nearby to join and get some supplies. And two weird juxtaposing events are happening in England today. The Grand National and Jade’s funeral. At least it’s a lovely sunny day for both.

Today is a weird day…

Can you be British AND Happy?

There was an article on the Daily Express web site yesterday about 40 reasons to be British and happy which tickled me. Some of the suggestions of WHY would should be happy seemed either lame or outlandish – most didn’t even pertain to anything quintessentially British. The forty reasons fall under ridiculous categories as well, which you will see in a moment.

Here’s a run down:
(My replies to the ridiculous ideas are in blue.)

SUMMER FUN

1 Sweaty Betty is offering free running and yoga clubs. All you have to do is check times on its website and turn up! 



Wow! Exercising is NOT my idea of fun, and definitely NOT a reason to be British and happy?!

2 England’s failure to qualify for Euro 2008 has guaranteed a whole summer free of tabloid hysteria and WAGs’ antics.



That’s a load of hogwash. Did they forget that it’s Wayne Rooney’s and Coleen McLoughlin’s wedding in June? WAG’s a plenty I reckon!

3 The opera season at Glyndebourne begins this Sunday with the inaugural performance of Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea. 


The venue nestles in a fold in the South Downs and an evening spent at this eccentric private opera house is one of the highlights of the social season. 


Enjoy a picnic on the lawn in evening dress before you disappear back into the modernist interior for a perfect second half. 


Please, give me a break! And what has “enjoying the opera” got to do with being British anyway? Man, these reasons are sssooo lame!

4 It’s less than six weeks to Wimbledon. If you want to go, you’ll have to enter a public ballot, but you can queue up for one of 6,000 daily ground tickets from £5 a person. 

Well, I suppose if you love tennis, it could be construed as ONE valid reason, but you don’t necessarily have to be British to be happy about it. Who came up with this lame list? Oh, Helen Dowd and Jane Warren – neither of which I can find any real info about on the Internet, so why are their opinions so highly rated?


5 Tickets for Royal Ascot – June 17-21 – are on sale and it’s possible to experience all the tradition, pageantry, fashion and style from just £15 per person. Call 0870 727 1234

WTF?

TRAVEL


6 It’s the perfect time to plan a camping holiday or car-free trip the weather can’t spoil at Center Parcs. Race bikes through hundreds of acres of woodland, splosh in the pools and try everything from abseiling to zip wires. Harassed mothers can relax in the Aqua Sana spa. Book one of the chic woodland lodges. 



Oh hell, camping holidays! Since when have they been quintessentially British? I suppose if you count “Carry On” films as a true reflection of Britishness, that might be construed. But Center Parcs? The spelling of “center” alone sounds American. Perhaps if it were to a REAL British holiday (concentration) camp like Pontin’s or Butlin’s, then it may just be more British, but it certainly WOULDN’T make you happy. Staying in a complex with loads of families, screaming kids, dirty pools, canteens that serve breakfast between 8am and 8.10am all served up in bomb-shelter areas of the British “countryside” – does THAT sound like fun to you?

7 Visit the world’s best urban beach on Paris’s River Seine: three nights from £188. 


Excuse me, wasn’t this meant to be reasons to be British and happy? Since when did it change to being French and happy?

8 The pound is still very strong compared to the dollar, so there’s still time to fly out to the United States for that shopping trip of a lifetime. This summer, British Airways is offering return flights to the Big Apple from £318.

Have you guys not seen the state of the economy? There’s a little thing going on in the world called “The Credit Crunch”. Who can afford a ” shopping trip of a lifetime” trip to NY? Maybe they should have changed the title of this piece to be “Reason’s to be posh, British and happy”?

FASHION AND BEAUTY


9 It’s the bathing suit over which every woman will be breathing a sigh of relief as she heads for the beach. The Miraclesuit, £135, has hidden underwire, detachable straps and the Miratex fabric will pull in the wobbliest of tummies. 



I’m sorry, but spending £135 on a bathing suit would NOT make me happy. Not unless it could actually make 135 pounds off my body disappear! Geesh!

10 Actress Gwyneth Paltrow might have hailed a revival for vertiginous heels but flats and Grecian sandals are just as trendy for summer. Slip into something much more comfortable from £120.

Again, why would spending £120 on a pair of sandals (when I could get a pair for £6 at Priceless Shoes). That wouldn’t make me happy either!

11 Here’s one fashion relaunch the gents will love as much as the ladies. Wonderbra is releasing a new summer version of its iconic plunging bra, £26. 


Why on Earth would that make me happy? And what’s flippin British about it? Most women have such plastic friggin boobies these days they’d probably A) not be able to fit into a Wonderbra, or B) probably ACTUALLY not need a Wonderbra. And I’m sure that at £26, you’d find them cheaper elsewhere, say like on that “shopping trip of a lifetime” in NY perhaps?


12 There is nothing better than a handbag to make you happy. Primark has brought out a sunshine bright evening bag that not only looks like Chanel but also costs just £6.



Wow! A true bargain, but you are actually promoting counterfeit goods here. Is that right? Maybe it’s quite Brit to wear Von Ditch (I know it’s Von Dutch, but I like the idea that the knock offs would be called Von Ditch) and Blueberry knock-offs? I thought it was Chav, not Brit, maybe Chav and Bit are one and the same these days. 

13 For men, keeping cool in  hot weather will be easier with a pair of Coolers’ pants, designed to keep ­body temperature down. Canterbury Coolers Boxers, £12.99.

Erm, I’m sure if there are any men left reading this article by this point, they have fallen off their computer chairs with ecstasy with the idea of buying a pair of “cool” boxer shorts. I’m sure they have been totally inspired by the article writers’ imagination!

14 Smother yourself in happiness with miracle cream from Guerlain. The Happylogy UltraPenetrating Skin Essence, £51.50 stimulates the release of anti-ageing hormones in skin to plump and smooth your complexion. Details: 01932 233887.



Oh, you seriously ARE taking the biscuit now! You guys obviously didn’t see the Dispatches programme the other night highlighting the total waste of finances that “beauty” creams are? I might as well light a £50 note and watch it burn, it would be more fun!

15 For beauty lovers who want to bag a bargain, Balaton’s face mask comes with a freebie – buy a 100ml pot and get a free Balaton spa travel bag with six travel products worth £24.99.

Oh, Hallelujah! Watch me spin myself round til I’m dizzy with this fantastic piece of information. Again, I hate to state the obvious, but what does this have to do with being either A) British, or B) happy?

Btw, at this point, is it just me, or is there a STRONG marketing thread to this piece? Surely this has now become an advertising editorial, no?

ASTROLOGY


16 In astrological terms, an auspicious August beckons. “The next new moon eclipse on August 1 in Leo should be really fun,” says Deike Begg from the Association of Professional Astrologers International. 

“Leo is the sign of fun, it will make everyone happier and herald the start of a new adventure. Futhermore, between August 13 and 14, Jupiter – the planet of good fortune – and Venus – the party planet – are forming a 120 degree angle which will be very good fun, and especially so for Capricorns and Virgos.” 

This is followed on August 16 by a full moon eclipse. “A great day for celebrations, such as weddings and christenings,” she adds. 


OK, I’ll wait and see what happens in August. Maybe we WILL have a reason to be British and happy, but I dare guess by the predictions only if you ARE a Leo, Capricorn or Virgo. I’m a Scorp, go figure!


17 Cardiff University researcher Cliff Arnall reckons June 24 is the happiest day of the year because of the likelihood of good weather coupled with the prospect of some time off. 


Hhmm, I think I might just let you have that one. It took until number 17 to get what could actually be a valid reason to be British and happy. Will there be any more?

FOOD AND DRINK
18 What would summer be without strawberries? Get some expert guidance on growing your own. For new and interesting recipes, visit www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes. 


It’s pretty shit if you hate strawberries or are allergic to them. Ian Hislop hates them (and he’s pretty damn British and smug (IE: most likely happy too). My niece is allergic to strawberries (not that she’s British, but she’s happy).

19 For veg lovers, British asparagus is in season. The British Asparagus Association is holding a festival to celebrate on May 25-26.


Well, again, like the strawberries. But it’s almost good for me, as I do like asparagus, I just can’t afford to buy them :-(


20 It’s picnic time once again and Tio Pepe is offering the adventurous an opportunity to ditch the dull cucumber sandwich. Chef Mark Hix has created the Gourmet Grazing Box with a delicious combination of chorizo, wild boar prosciutto, olives and manchego cheese. 

Sounds nice, but how much is it?



21 Who can resist a cool glass of Pimm’s? The classic summer drink has had a revamp with a host of new recipes on the Pimm’s web wite.

Who can resist a glass of Pimm’s? Me! That’s who.

22 The National Taste Festivals kick off on May 29 in Edinburgh and continue through June and July. Gary Rhodes, Antony Worrall Thompson and Tom Aikens are among chefs appearing.

Well, another thing that sounds alright, especially if it’s free (that I highly doubt). Ok, you’ve got two now (possibly three)…not 22!

BEST BUYS


23 Curry’s sale is on with HD ready digital LCD TVs reduced by up to £200 and free delivery on orders over £150 – all ready for a sporting summer. 



WTF? What has this got to do with anything. Oh, yes, of course. I keep forgetting this is an advertising editorial.

24 Superdrug has cheap suncream on sale at £6.99, with a buy-one-get-one-free offer. 




£6.99 is NOT cheap suncream. ASDA have a 200ml 15+ SPF sun lotion for £1.11, now THAT’S cheap. Shit, I keep forgetting it’s an advertising editorial. I wonder how much Superdrug paid for their mention here…?

SCIENCE


25 Happy people are healthier than pessimists, says a study of 3,000 adults by University College, London. Upbeat folk have lower levels of cortisol, a “stress” hormone that can contribute to higher blood pressure, obesity and lowered immune function.


A useful piece of information. Can’t you be happy AND a pessimist though? Being pessimistic doesn’t necessarily mean you are stressed. 
Anyway, I like to consider myself an optimistic realist. Perhaps you can have 4, but maybe not if you are truly ill, you can’t just “snap out of it” as the suggestion implies here. It’s like they are saying, “just be happy for f*ck sake!”

26 A daily dose of chocolate is good for your heart. British scientists have developed a bar that can lower cholesterol. A team at the University of East Anglia has created a sweet treat that retains higher levels of antioxidants, called flavonoids, which are healthy.



Now you are actually beginning to talk my language. But why I need to be British for this baffles me. I know it’s not what the article says but it’s what it implies. Why not just have called it “40 reasons to be happy, or British or happy”? I don’t know, I just don’t get the whole Brit side of it so far.

27 Ninety will soon be the new 60 thanks to medical advances that will transform the diseases of old age. Alzheimer’s may soon be curable and most cancers are likely to be treatable. 


Pardon? We’re going to live longer. We should be happy about that? I’m really not getting this list sometimes. If they’d found the secret to the fountain of youth, I could understand. My mum has been in pain for years, people have health problems at 60. If that means it stretches out for another 30 years, why on Earth should that make people happy? I don’t get it! And as for medical advances, if we still can’t cure the cold…


28 It will soon be possible to replace old, worn out organs with custom-grown ones. “Within a few decades, we are likely to be able to slow ageing itself, which could even lead to life beyond 120,” says futurist Peter Schwartz. 



That sounds like my absolute idea of hell. Who’s going to look after all these “old fogey’s”? Certainly not the youth of today.

CHILDREN


29 It’s the time to plant sunflower seeds and see who can nurture the tallest. 

Oh, FFS!!!
This has got to be the lamest one so far. Especially for kids. They don’t want to be planting sunflowers. They want to be playing GTA4 for 28 hours of the day.


30 London’s West End theatres are opening their doors to children aged five to 16 for free shows, activities and workshops. The Kids Week event in August will encourage youngsters to get involved. 
 

God, that’s almost a good one. Try dragging your kids along to one though…


31 The Playhouse Disney Live! tour kicks off in London on May 29 at the Hammersmith Apollo. Mickey, Goofy and their friends will be travelling the country until late June. 



Yawn…and what, prey tell, does this have to do with Britishness again?


OUTDOORS


32 It’s the village fete season. Drinks company Innocent is holding one in Regent’s Park in London on August 2-3 and has compiled a list of others going on around the country. 



Lord help me. Again, it costs money. When has it ever cost money to go to a fete? And the word fete? Not British, but French. So fete’s, as a rule, are not uniquely British…

33 Britain’s beaches are the cheapest places to hire a sunlounger in Europe, costing an average of £2.50 a day compared to £10 in French hotspots, according to The Expedia Deck-Chair Index. 


And why would you need a sunlounge? And why not just take your own? And, have you thought they are cheaper to hire here, ‘cos no-one wants to go to “our” beaches?! A nice little advert for Expedia though…”Let yourself go!”  – sang in a Felix the Cat meets Ethel Merman style (a bit of an in-joke for me and Em).


34 Late spring transforms hedgerows, meadows and woods. Foxgloves are about to appear, caterpillars are emerging and will soon turn into butterflies, and swallows and woodpeckers can be seen. 



Friggin hell! Amazing! I think this might actual be number 4 or 5 on the TRUE reasons to be British and happy list! I can’t fault this one…

35 The National Gardens Scheme is encouraging us to get out into the garden this Spring bank holiday. More than 200 gardens across the country will be throwing open their gates to the public from May 24-26.  



Again, one I actually cannot fault. Number 5-6 on the true list.

36 The days will keep getting longer until June 21, the summer solstice, when summer begins. 

Another true reason to be thankful.




CULTURE


37 The Royal Shakespeare Company’s summer season includes performances of The Taming Of The Shrew, The Merchant Of Venice and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Stratford-upon-Avon, with Romeo And Juliet being toured throughout the country.  


Woah! They’re on a role here. Not my cup of tea (something not mentioned but wonderfully British), but Will’s IS as Brit as they come and Shakespeare in the park in summer is an overtly British thing to do, and probably something to be happy about.


38 May is Museums And Galleries Month in Wales and there are events happening across the country to celebrate it. Many are letting visitors in for free. 



Why is this restricted to Wales? Good though…

39 Liverpool’s annual Summer Pops, running from June 28-July 31, will be the biggest yet this year. Artists such as Blondie, Duran Duran and the Sugababes will be performing as part of the city’s European Capital of Culture celebrations. 



If it’s free, it’s good.

40 Tickets are now on sale for the Hampton Court Palace Festival from June 3-21, set in the magnificent surroundings of the palace. Forget muddy music festivals, at Hampton Court there will be picnics and classical music performances. Call 0844 412 2954.



Hhhmm, sounds OK. I think I’ve tallied up less than 10 actual true, valid, good reasons to be British and happy there. The rest is an old load of codswallop!!!

HAPPY Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving. Sounds like everything I love about Xmas, only without the presents…as far as I know. I’m not up on Thanksgiving history/culture.

It does seem odd that in such a God-fearing country as America is, a lot more people seem to put more emphasis on Thanksgiving than on Xmas. As far as I know, it is when the turkey dinner is traditionally eaten, not as it is in Europe and in particular Britain when it’s at Xmas. Families seem to try harder in the U.S. to be together for Thanksgiving. People don’t feel pressured into exchanging presents, as we do with ever increasing financial strain, year after year at Xmas. Lastly, it doesn’t seem to be an overtly religious event (despite it being called Thanksgiving – IE: giving thanks to God – I assume – for a plentiful bounty and all the “good things” in our lives), despite the name of the holiday.

I wish we had Thanksgiving in England.

But then, maybe not.

I do love some of the aspects of Xmas. I think the time of year is better. It’s just that little bit later into winter. Not so ideal for shopping, but lovely for Xmas eve and Xmas day, sitting around the fire, having lovely, big and hot meals that make you feel like you’ve put on 10 pounds in 1 hour! I love Xmas decorations, trees, garlands, wreaths. As a kid I use to LOVE making paper chains! And of course, although I rarely get them these days, I LOVE the presents.

I love sending cards. And although some are religious, and although I’ve been a total hypocrite and been to church a few years back to enjoy them, I LOVE Xmas carols and Xmas songs. We have a church not 5 minutes walk away, and we went in 2005 for the carol service. But it was really lovely. It’s a non-domination church, and it was quite liberal (as churches go), not doing lots of preaching and stuff. It was a really nice service, and we all sang carols. It was lovely.

As much as I love Xmas though, there are things that are overbearing about it.

The compulsion to buy presents. The more expensive, the better. And the relentless ad campaigns that go with it. I mean, it’s in full swing on TV (and all other media) now. The supermarkets started filling their shelves with Xmas themed food weeks ago. I haven’t been in a supermarket for about 6 weeks (last visit, early October), but the last time I went, there was already stock on the shelf. The campaigns on TV will just get more and more manic. Soon the Xmas songs will start (mostly in shops and that, so I have been spared so far, as I really don’t get out much these days), and so by the time Xmas day comes, you’ve heard “White Christmas” at least 50 times (subliminally, and non-subliminally), Slade’s “Merry Xmas Everybody” about 100 times, and the new favourite for “playing to death”… The Pogues “Fairytale of New York” what feels like 500 times, but is in reality probably only 150 times!!

Supermarkets start to look like we’re heading for The Blitz at around December 18, and if you’ve missed something off the shopping list and don’t remember it until Xmas eve, you might just want to write out your last will and testament before heading off to the supermarket for that last vital thing, because you may just die there, waiting in the queue!

One last thing that I use to hate about Xmas as a kid. The only thing in fact. Australia. I HATED living in Australia at Xmas. Xmas in the northern hemisphere looked SSOO lovely. And all the stories whilst growing up were all northern hemisphere biased. All the little things like Santa arriving by coming down the chimney! HEEEELLLLOOOO…no house in Oz that *I* ever knew of had a chimney. How was Santa ever going to leave our presents? Break in through a window? Then of course there was the sleigh and the reindeer. Rudolph with his shiny red nose. Not because it was minus 10 degrees in Oz, but because it was more like bloody 25 degrees on Xmas eve NIGHT! Silent Night? Silent night…on a tropical evening in Sydney?! Doubt it!!

The one nice thing that Oz has for Xmas though is Carols by Candlelight…outdoors! That’s nice. Although, again, traditional carols are a bit northern hemisphere/wintery themed. Very odd to sing “Winter Wonderland” on a summer’s evening in 25 degree heat!

I really do love my winter Xmases though. They are the best.

So, happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it. Xmas, the steam train, moves ever closer.