Category Archives: Disability

An impartial guide to the 2015 election.


If you live in Blighty you’ve probably been bombarded by Party Political Broadcasts and news media about the various main players in the upcoming General Election.

Blogs are a great way to get one’s personal views across, but rather than expound my own views, I thought I’d give you lucky readers an impartial look at what these nefarious Tory miscreants have achieved thus far. (Told you it would be impartial.)

FOODBANKS

The number of people using food banks has gone from circa 40,000 under Labour in 2010 to one million under the Tories, in just five years. (This graph is about a year out of date. Figures have now surpassed one million.)

foodbanks, election 2015

DEBT

Our National Debt has not reduced as the Tory charlatans claim but has, in fact, tripled under the Tories.

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IMMIGRATION

Britain has one of the lowest immigrant populations in Europe. The more the merrier I say. We’re all from Africa anyway.

Brits living abroad

Brits living abroad

Foreigners living in the UK

Foreigners living in the UK

BENEFITS

I’m sick to death of that maleficent rapscallion, Iain Duncan Smith referring to people on benefits as scroungers.

Benefit cheats account for £2 billion whilst tax avoiders account for £32 billion.

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And let’s not forget, for most people claiming benefits, they are just claiming back a fraction of what they have put into it in the first place.

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LABOUR AND BIG BUSINESS

Read ’em and weep.

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THE GREAT DEPRESSION

The current economic catastrophe was not caused by the last Labour government. It was caused by the banks. Admittedly, Labour deregulated the banks more than they should have. But financial deregulation began in 1986 under, guess who… Thatcher.

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THE NHS

Don’t get me started… 70% of NHS contracts have been awarded to private sector companies since 2013. (Most of them with connections to ConDem politicians.)

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EDUCATION

Did you know, as part of the government curriculum, primary school kids do maths every day but art only once every two weeks?

Obviously, there’s no value in the arts.

No value in creativity.

No value in imagination.

No value in self-expression.

And there’s certainly no maths in art… no fractals, no Fibonacci sequence, no Golden Ratio, no geometry, no equations, no dimensions, no fractions, no angles or shapes…

That’s not a criticism of my daughters’ school, in fact, it recently got an outstanding from OFSTED, it’s merely a criticism of the curriculum handed down by the government.

I’d also have free tertiary education for all too. (Something which Labour have not put in their manifesto.)

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So, dear readers, as you can see, I have no personal axe to grind and have been as unbiased as I possibly can.

To recap:

Under the coalition the economy has stagnated,

the national debt has tripled,

the NHS is in meltdown,

1 million people rely on food banks,

3.5 million children live in poverty (that’s a staggering third of all children in the UK),

The Tories believe the people who should pay for our country’s debts are the poor rather than their rich benefactors to whom they give tax breaks and government contracts.

All-in-all, a successful term of office, don’t you think?

All you can do is evaluate the facts laid before you and then decide who to vote for. After all, that’s why we live in a democracy.

Just remember, a vote for the Tories is a vote for the Dark Lord. And a vote for UKIP is a vote for the Dark Lord’s imbecile sibling with xenophobic tendencies.

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I must give a shout-out to a few blogs from where I’ve filched most of the above stats, graphs and images. Although, I can’t remember what I’ve nicked from where.

So thank you to:

Tom Pride at Pride’s Purge.

Kitty S. Jones at Politics and Insights.

David Hencke at David Hencke.

Mike Sivier at Vox Political.

Thomas G. Clark at Another Angry Voice.

The Guardian.

The Independent.

Channel 4.

 

If you see something of yours that I have not credited just drop me a line and I’ll amend the post and give you the credit you deserve.

 

 

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Filed under Children, community, Disability, Economy, Education, Ideas, Inspiration, Politics

Things for which I am grateful #365/365.


Some folks might think this is a bit of a cheat. I started with my kids and I’m going to finish with them. In my defence, I have two of the little rascals so I’m counting it as one post apiece.

There is nothing more precious to me on this Earth than my two daughters. Anyone who has children will know that something changes inside of you – chemically, biologically – and nothing else seems to matter.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to every parent, and true, the pesky varmints do get on your nerves a lot of the time. And yes, they bicker constantly. And they manage to talk in a stream of consciousness James Joyce would be proud of. But, when all’s said and done, they don’t outweigh all the adorable moments. I simply couldn’t live without them.

It’s been an epic year of blogging. Thank you for sticking by me and I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Right, I’m going for a lie down.

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Here are my 365 things that I am grateful for:

1 My daughters

2 Water

3 Poetry

4 Baths

5-7 Notebooks, pens, pencils

8,9 Butterflies and moths

10, 11 Softball and baseball

12 Fresh coffee

13 Sound / masts

14 Indoor toilets

15 Stepping Hill Hospital

16 Birds of Paradise

17 Roget’s thesaurus

18 Mother Earth

19 Clingfilm dispenser

20, 21 Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy

22 Jorge Luis Borges

23 Classic cars

24 Curry

25 Tim Berners Lee

26 Charles Bukowski

27 Yorkshire

28 Shiraz

29 Food

30 Katell Keineg

31 Tao Te Ching

32 A roof over my head

33 Peat fires

34 Street art

35 Friends (as in – mates, not the T.V. show)

36 Wilfred Owen

37 The Penguin Café Orchestra

38 The fry-up

39 Wolves

40 W.B. Yeats

41, 42 Cherry blossom trees and haiku poetry

43 Bread

44 Boules

45 Maps

46 Refuse collectors

47 Candy Chang

48 Sparrows

49 The tomato

50 Studio Ghibli

51 Oliver Jeffers

52 Johannes Gutenberg

53 Tom Waites

54 The cello

55 Mothers’ day

56 The Phoenicians

57, 58 Bacon and brown sauce

59 Tulips

60 Fish and chips

61 Giselle

62 Airfix

63 Firefighters

64 Rain

65 Libraries

66 Raymond Carver

67 Toulouse-Lautrec

68 The Goldfinch

69 Wings of Desire

70 Silence

71 Elizabeth Barrett Browning

72-99 Ireland

100 Talking Heads

101 Sylvia Plath

102 Yorkshire Sculpture Park

103 My mum

104 Modigliani

105 Kurt Vonnegut

106-128 Electricity

129 The pop man

130-147 Comedians/comedy

148 Commando magazine

149 Pastry

150-156 Social media

157 David Bowie

158 Football

159 D-Day

160-194 France

195-230 Novels

231 Graphic Design

232 Viva! Roxy Music

233 – 274 Art

275 Betty Blue

276 Writing

277 Joy Division

278 – 287 Scotland

288 – 324 Italy

325 – 352 Photography

353 Leeds Utd

354 Love

355 Universe

356 Advertising

357 Pan’s Labyrinth

358 – 363 Democracy

364 Miscellaneous

365 My daughters II

If anyone wants to read any of the previous posts simply type the title into the search box on the right. (It’s underneath the ‘topic’ cloud.)

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#yesmakeupselfie for Cancer Research UK


I’ve been full of admiration for all of those women who have been baring all taking #nomakeupselfies to raise funds and awareness for cancer.

One particular shot I saw on Facebook asked the question as to how guys could get involved. I don’t know if anyone answered, but here’s my solution…

If women are brave enough not to wear make up, (not that you need it in the first place), then perhaps us guys can hang our testosterone up in the locker for a bit, get in touch with our feminine sides and put on make up for cancer research?

I’m calling the male version: #yesmakeupselfies

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How’s about it, fellas?

Let’s see if we can match or beat the girls’ rather impressive two million quid they’ve raised so far.

Get yourselves all dolled up, take a selfie and, most importantly, text ‘Beat’ to 70099 to donate £3 to Cancer Research UK.

If you want to donate in Ireland to the Irish Cancer Society, text ‘Pink’ or ‘Daff’ to 50300.

If any readers can let me know what the numbers are in Aus or the US and the ‘text word’, let me know and I’ll add them.

Make up by Scarlett (8) and Lydia (5). To be honest, I’m amazed at their restraint.

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Filed under Children, community, Creativity, Disability, Ideas, Inspiration

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec – #67/365


It is an absolute privilege to be able to view Toulouse-Lautrec’s work up close. Not just for his energetic painting style, capturing the seedier side of Parisian nightlife, but also for his art direction and typography.

Over the years, there have been many articles about whether advertising can be art, and I’m pretty sure that it can’t be whilst it is selling something. I think it can transcend into art after it has served its purpose and becomes era defining.

In Lautrec’s case, I’ll make an exception, as he was already well known for being an artist when  he was commissioned to create posters for various clubs and salons.

Any art director or designer worth their salt should be aware of the influence of art in layout and design purely from a composition point of view.

In this Jane Avril example, I love the way he frames the poster using the double base. (How many ‘frames’ have we seen like this for contemporary brands?)

Obviously, Lautrec wasn’t a 19th century ‘ad man’. He was a brilliant artist and spent much of his time in Montmartre hanging out with philosophers, writers, artists and the like. Then popping off to brothels to draw/paint the staff and clientele. He was a reportage photographer before they’d even been invented. That, coupled with the eye of a poet, lead to some breathtakingly intimate works.

So, for inspiring a 17-year-old art student, Mr. Toulouse-Lautrec, I am very grateful.

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Perfection


To achieve perfection takes trial and error.

If others are involved in your task, they may see your experimentation as indecision.

Ignore that gnawing urge to placate them for an easier life, and press on with your goal.

Only then, will you hope to attain something that you can be 85 – 90% satisfied with.

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Modigliani – In Memoriam


Amedeo_Modigliani_Photo

Amedeo Clemente Modigliani
Born 12th July 1884 – Died 24th January 1920

I know I’m a few days late with this, but seeing as though Amedeo Modigliani is one of my favourite artists, I thought better late than never.

Tragically, Modigliani died of tubercular meningitis on the 24th January 1920, aged just 35.

What is equally as tragic is that his wife, and muse, Jeanne Hébuterne, was so devastated that the following day she threw herself from the 5th floor of her parents’ home, killing herself and her unborn second child.

Fortunately, their first child, Jeanne Modigliani (1918 – 1984), was adopted by Amedeo’s sister and was brought up in Florence, Italy.

Jeanne Hébuterne

Jeanne Hébuterne

Jeanne Modigliani, daughter.

Jeanne Modigliani, daughter.

I was first introduced to Modigliani’s work by my mate, Markham, who very kindly gave me a sumptuously framed print of this piece…

Seated Nude

Seated Nude

As you can see, Modigliani was very heavily influenced by African masks and sculpture, creating elongated forms and mask-like faces.

He died a pauper. But, as is the way of the world, in 2010 “La belle Romaine” sold for $69 million.

His work inspired me to write a short story, and subsequent screenplay, entitled: “Jeanne, reclining nude, 1917”, about a First World War veteran recuperating in the South of France after losing his left hand.

It isn’t a biographical piece, but moreover, explores the themes of physical and emotional cripples when he begins a relationship with his prostitute model.

Jeanne Hébuterene

Jeanne Hébuterene

Lunia Czechovska

Lunia Czechovska

Leopold Zborowski II

Leopold Zborowski II

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Reclining Nude

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He was an extremely prolific artist, so if you get the chance to see any of his work in the flesh, I urge you to do so.

The world lost an undefinable prodigy 93 years ago.

RIP Amedeo Clemente Modigliani.

Jeanne Hébuterne

Jeanne Hébuterne

Reclining Nude with Loose Hair

Reclining Nude with Loose Hair

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Recumbent-Nude

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I have a dream too, you know.


True, it may not be as ambitious and world-changing as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s. But it’s a dream nonetheless.

To be honest, I wasn’t going to post about it until I felt I was in more of a position to realise this dream. But short of winning the Euro Millions Lottery, it aint going to happen without some serious philanthropic backer.

So, what is my dream?

Well, it’s to build a School of Arts for under-privileged kids.

Kids from low socioeconomic backgrounds in large inner-city estates. Kids who might not ordinarily get the opportunity to explore the more creative aspects of their nature.

What good would that do society? We’re in a depression, don’t you know!

Problems in every field of human endeavour are virtually always solved by creative thinking. Even the great Albert Einstein said so himself. Creativity allows us to look at problems from different angles and apply new thinking to solve problems.

Moreover, I don’t see it as a school that produces an unprecedented amount of artists. But an unprecedented amount of creative thinkers – whichever vocation they choose to pursue later in life. Whether it be mathematics, science, business, computers, product design, or economics.

And yes, a few more more artists too. And what’s wrong with that? Art is seen as a dirty word in this country. If I tell people I write poetry, they shift uneasily in their seats. If I said I write poetry in Ireland the response would be a polite smile and a nod toward the back of the queue.

Do you think the first rocket flight to the moon was dreamed up by a scientist?

Sure, scientists and engineers made it a reality. But it is creative people who come up with the ideas and the original solutions of how they can be achieved.

What will the kids do?

The school will develop and encourage creative thinking and self-expression.

It will foster, nurture and encourage exploration of the arts in all its many and varied forms including: painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, poetry, literature, screenplays, theatre, drama, dance, music, design, digital arts, film, photography, humanities, languages, and the classics.

Where is this school?

I quite fancy the idea of transforming a derelict Victorian mill. There’s something quite ironic about that. Though it certainly wouldn’t be a prerequisite. (Salts Mill in Bradford is a good example.)

Initially, an inner-city campus close to urban populations that have a high level of low socioeconomic families. Basically, anywhere across the Manchester – Huddersfield – Halifax – Leeds belt. It’s also sufficiently ‘central’ enough to accommodate children from further afield.

It would also be good to have a rural retreat – somewhere like the Lake District, Peak District or the Yorkshire Dales, where children can attend week-long courses/classes which double up as a holiday.

I would also like to open an international sister school in India or Sri Lanka where people from distinctly different cultures can share ideas. These schools could also participate in exchange programmes. (Then subsequently, even further afield: China, South America, South Asia.)

What about science subjects?

This school wouldn’t be a replacement for existing schools and their curricula – more of an extension to them.

Would it exclude people from non low socioeconomic backgrounds?

Not at all. But opportunities for middle-class families in other schools are much more accessible, regardless of ability.

Intake for low income kids would be based as much on desire and enthusiasm to participate rather than ability. There would be a limited number of places for more affluent children. Sort of like Eton – in reverse.

What kind of courses will it run?

Day-long workshops for visiting schools.

After-school classes.

Week-long courses. (Which would include accommodation for traveling students.)

Weekend classes.

Full-time sixth form courses. (A-levels.)

Masters and PhD courses.

What ages are we talking about?

Key Stage 2, up to, and including, sixth form.

Undergraduate, Masters and PhD courses.

What else does the school have?

Apart from studios and classrooms?

There’d be accommodation for students who are visiting from further afield.

Cafe / restaurant.

Gallery to promote and sell students’ work.

Gallery featuring independent contemporary and traditional art.

Masterclasses from guest lecturers.

State of the art library. (Both on and off-line.)

Book shop.

Art-house cinema.

Who will pay for it?

Well, that’s the biggest question of all.

A like-minded philanthropist would be nice.

Arts Council grant.

Lottery funding.

A percentage of Masters and PhD students’ tuition fees could go towards funding.

Sales from restaurant and galleries.

Fundraising / donations.

An Ideal World School of Arts.

Salts Mill, Bradford.

David Hockney at Salts Mill.

Salts Mill interior.

Studio space?

Any constructive criticism and advice about how to get something like this funded and off the ground would be greatly appreciated.

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