Category Archives: Economy

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.

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 16.32.04

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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Things for which I am grateful #364 – Miscellaneous.

When I first started doing Things for which I am grateful, one for each day of 2014, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it. Now, on the penultimate post, I have far too many. So rather than pick just one I’m going to give you a miscellaneous list of all the ones that didn’t make it – but could have quite easily. (Lucky you.)

The point I’m trying to make is that we are very lucky in the ‘west’. And, even though I gripe on about our Tory overlords, I feel very fortunate to live in England.

The sun. (The big orange ball of fire, not the newspaper.)

England. (So much history, beautiful scenery and towns.)

History. (I love history.)

Wind turbines. (I think they’re cool.)

Thai food.

Chinese food.

The industrial revolution.

The sea. (I love the sea. And would love to live by it once again.)



The Romans.

The Greeks.

South Africa.

Elvis Presley.


Public transport.

Sri Lanka.






New Zealand.

Optometry. (I wouldn’t be able to see without my glasses.)

My ex-wife for having our children.


Monkeys. (I do love a monkey.)

My neighbours.


Penny sweet tray.

The Peak District.




The dictionary.






Uilleann pipes.

Sub-atomic particles. (Where would we be without these little jaspers? Nowhere, that’s where.)

Martin Luther King Jr.

The BBC. (Kiddy-fiddlers aside, they’ve done some great stuff.)

The Guardian.


Erik Satie.

The emergency services. (Police, fire, paramedics.)

So, as you can see, plenty for me to be grateful for. But the point is, not what I am grateful for – what do you have to be thankful for in your life?

Wonder what’s in store for the last one?


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Democracy – #358-363

Democracy was first invented in Yorkshire, in 1954, after three blokes, on a lads’ night out in Pontefract, couldn’t decide whether to have mild or bitter with their giant Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy. Instead of settling their differences the old-fashioned way – with a black pudding fight to the death – as was custom round those parts; they decided on a new, and novel way, to solve their dilemma: They put it to a vote, and lo, democracy was borne. (2-1 to bitter, in case you were wondering.)



Actually, democracy is attributed to Cleisthenes in Athens in about 500 B.C. (There is also some evidence that certain types of democracy existed in parts of India prior to this.)

There are loads of different types of democracy, but the two main types are: Direct Democracy358, whereby everybody who has a vote actively participates in governing. This is what Greek democracy was all about. It’s not too bad when you only have a limited number of people who can actually vote, i.e. Athenian citizens, so – no slaves, no women, no foreigners etc. It gets a bit tricky when you have 30 million potential citizens eligible to vote. That’s why Representational Democracy359 was invented, whereby we elect people to govern for us. (Sort of like we have now in the UK, except we have a Constitutional Monarchy, which isn’t a true democracy.)


If it wasn’t for democracy, plebs like me wouldn’t have a vote. In fact, if the Tories had their way, I still wouldn’t. Which brings me on to the Labour Party360. If it wasn’t for Labour, we wouldn’t have a National Health Service to look after our citizens361 or a Welfare State362 to care for the poor and the vulnerable in society.

But… we don’t have real democracy in Britain. When you can obtain power by having less than 30% of the vote – that is not true democracy. Personally, I favour Proportional Representation363. Seems much fairer to me. Over 70% of the population didn’t vote for these nefarious Tory scoundrels. That should be testament enough.

The Tories are selling off the NHS. They’ve ostracized anyone on benefits and they’ve made a shambles of the economy by feeding the richest 1% rather than the 99% who would actually kick-start the economic recovery.

True, there are benefit fraudsters. Apparently, they cost us £1.9 billion pounds a year. How much do corporate tax fraudsters cost us? £32 billion is the answer. Go and arrest your mates, Mr. Osborne.

Here are the numbers IDS and Osborne would prefer you didn’t see:

Benefit fraud: £1.9 bn.

Unclaimed benefits: £12.3 bn.

Benefit fraud accounts for 0.7% of the total benefits budget.

Put this into context next to the £32 bn in tax evasion and avoidance.

The last time the Tories were in charge.

The last time the Tories were in charge.

The fact is, George Osborne has got the economy completely arseways. The best way to reinvigorate an economy is to make sure the people in the middle and at the bottom have some money to spend. In his wisdom, Osborne decided to give the money to the people who lost it in the first place and take it off those very people who could turn the country’s fortunes around.

That said, I’m just grumpy because I didn’t get my way. Which, I suppose, is what democracy is all about.


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The ‘alternative’ George Osborne speech.

The Chancellor, George Osborne.

The Chancellor, George Osborne.

NSFW or kids.

In today’s Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne has [allegedly] admitted that he’s made a ‘right, royal cock-up of the economy’. In a speech to the House of Commons, Osborne [allegedly] said that he ‘couldn’t give a rat’s ass’ about the consequences, as it would only affect snivelling little poor people anyway.

‘I’m not arsed what these scroungers think,’ he [allegedly] said. ‘I’m fucking minted! And they’re hardly going to contribute to the coffers in my retirement. It’s the bankers and top business people I need to keep sweet if they’re going to pay for my mansion in Cheshire. That’s why they’re getting all the tax breaks. And who’s going to pay for it? Why, the poor of course. It’d be tragic if it wasn’t so fucking ironic.

‘I saw this great documentary the other day called, “The Hunger Games”, and I thought we could introduce something similar over here, where dole dossers and people on minimum wage have to battle it out for grub. Last family standing gets first dabs at the Foodbank. Besides, there’s too many of the fuckers, and none of them vote for us, so it’s a win-win.

‘And don’t get me started on the ‘bedroom tax’. I can’t believe anyone fell for that bollocks. We’re thinking of introducing a ‘bathroom tax’. Those dirty bastards never wash anyway.’

Asked why Britain’s deficit was growing rather than shrinking, Osborne [allegedly] said, ‘Shut the fuck up, you plank. Those fuckwit voters haven’t noticed that the economy is stagnant and that austerity measures have utterly failed to reduce the deficit or kick-start the economy. People are more skint now than they were when we took office. Well, except for me and my rich mates, of course. We’re fecking coining it in.’

When quizzed about the reduction in unemployment figures, he gave a wry grin and [allegedly] said, ‘IDS has played a blinder there. He basically gets people off Jobseekers by getting Atos to register them as self-employed. They still sit around all day doing fuck-all but they get Working Tax Credits instead of JSA. It’s great for the stats.

‘But there’s always the parasites who say they’re too sick to look for work. IDS just sends them back anyway. If they don’t go, he slashes their benefits in half. One bloke he’d kicked off sick benefits had the audacity to get his missus to ring up and say he was dead. Fucking dead! Can you believe it? Sheesh, some people will do anything to get out of work. IDS must be doing something right though, even the bankers think he’s a heartless twat.’

‘Right then, piss off, I’m late for a champagne breakfast with Merrill Lynch.’

Of course, this is all hearsay and has yet to be confirmed by official sources. Our chief reporter has it on good authority that it was said by some blood-sucking turd, who was seen draining the life out of a pensioner, and we just put two and two together.


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Bonny Scotland – Things for which I am grateful #278 – 287

Bonny Scotland278

Edinburgh Castle from the Grassmarket.

Edinburgh Castle from the Grassmarket.

I count myself extremely fortunate to have lived in the stunning capital of Edinburgh279 in 1991-92.

I probably would never have ended up there had I not befriended an amiable Scottish chap by the name of Richard in the queue for the Hacienda nightclub in Manchester some six years previously.

As our friendship blossomed, I went on several trips to his homeland, none of which I have any recollection of whatsoever. I’d just wake up back in Manchester feeling like my brain had been covered in batter and deep fried.

Bloke in a skirt.

Bloke in a skirt.

Anyways, after I’d been made redundant in Leeds I managed to get a job in Leith280 which is just a short jaunt down Leith Walk from Edinburgh to the docks. It was more of an up-and-coming area when I was there, with lots of great pubs and eateries.


I stayed with my aforementioned friend’s parents in the beautiful Stockbridge colonies for the first couple of months. Then I moved to a bijou little pad on South William Street in the West End.

I was shown the ropes of Edinburgh and Leith by the fabulously talented painter, Michael McGinn. (Who also has a rather wonderful antique/retro shop called McQuirkey’s, should you be round and about with your shopping hat on.)

Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to. The architecture is staggeringly breathtaking. And the people… well, I couldn’t understand a word they said. It was six months before I realised they weren’t calling me Ken.

Edinburgh is very spiky.

Edinburgh is very spiky.

Glaswegians reckon Glasgow281 is better than Edinburgh because of its people. They think Edinburghers are a bit toffee-nosed. But I reckon it’s the other way round. Glaswegians are jealous, because their city is a bag of washing in comparison. I did go to Glasgow a couple of times. It was like a cross between Manchester and Dresden circa 1945.

A recent Tourist Board flyer.

A recent Tourist Board flyer.

A couple of other notable places to visit are: Stirling Castle282, which is a bit like a miniature version of Edinburgh; you can’t go wrong with a trip to the Highlands283 with its ominous, towering mountains; or the serenity of the Lochs Lomond284 and Ness285. Venturing still further north to the Kyle of Lochalsh286 and the Isle of Skye287 you’d be forgiven for feeling like you’ve entered a Celtic nirvana.

Stirling Castle.

Stirling Castle.

Wallace monument, Stirling. (I walked up this thing with a wee baby strapped to me.)

Wallace monument, Stirling. (I walked up this thing with a wee babby strapped to me.)

The Highlands.

The Highlands.

A handsome lassy.

A handsome lassy.

Loch Lomond.

Loch Lomond.

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness.

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness.

Kyle of Lochalsh.

Kyle of Lochalsh.

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

Imagine what it’d be like if they actually owned the place!

Which brings me rather clunkily round to the question of Scottish independence. Watching the debate from south of the border I can’t help noticing that the majority of the ‘No’ campaigners focus on financial benefits of staying together whilst the ‘Yes’ campaigners talk about a fairer society.

Scott monument, Edinburgh.

Scott monument, Edinburgh.

I know Jockos don’t give a monkey’s what a Sassenach like me thinks, but for what it’s worth, I’d vote Yes.

To me, it’s nothing to do with money and all to do with self-determination. Heart over head? Probably. But isn’t that what patriotism is all about?

If I had my way, we’d have an independent North of England as well. It’s had its resources and wealth stripped and sent darn sarf for centuries.

With an independent Scotland, the downside for us Angles, is that it would probably sentence us to permanent Tory rule. (Which would be worse than living in Hades, or worse – Norn Irn!) But that isn’t Scotland’s problem – it’s ours. And, if that’s who the majority of people vote for south of the border, then so be it. It’s called democracy. Which doesn’t seem to be very evident in Scotland at the moment with only 1 out of 59 seats being Tory.



I love Scotland – its history, its poetry, its literature, its spectacular nature, its architecture and its people. (I’ve got some great Scottish mates. Well, I did have before this post.) If they do decide to give independence a shot – good luck to them, I say.

Though, if they vote to stay in the Union, I think we should have a  referendum in England the day after to see if we still want them.


To be honest, I think there should be less borders in the world, not more of them. However, I suppose my leaning toward the ‘Yes’ campaign has more to do with building a fairer society than with leaving the Union. Perhaps if the UK as a whole could do this, then I might not be in such favour of the split. Though, the chances of this happening with Conservatives running the country is nigh on impossible with benefits, NHS, education all being cut whilst their banker cronies are sucking up the big bucks and peerages in London.


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Things I am grateful for #29/365


Unlike my post about curry, I’m talking about food in general.

I’ve never gone hungry in my life.

Not unless you count going to O’Brien’s straight after work, having a gallon of Guinness, then being turfed out at closing time and proclaiming – I’m Hank Marvin – as going hungry. Which then, usually lead to a jaunt down to Tin Tin’s on Baggot Street for pork in black bean sauce and soft noodles.


Of course, there have been many occasions when I ‘thought’ I’d gone hungry. But these were due to me either not having any breakfast (through choice), or having to wait 3 or 4 extra hours for my tea because I’d worked late.

I come from a working class family that grew up on a council estate. So we weren’t rich by any stretch. But we never went hungry. We might not have had the most nutritional diet in the world. Though that was probably more down to the era and cultural norms rather than poor parenting.

There are almost one billion people in the world going hungry today. Yet we produce enough food to give everyone 2,700 calories a day. So, something’s going wrong somewhere.

I just count myself fortunate, and grateful, that I am not one of them.


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11% pay rise for MPs? – Vote Dave!

I’m sure you’ve all heard by now that the independent body, IPSA, has recommended an 11% pay rise for MPs. This will take their salaries from a paltry £66k to just over £74k per annum.

What galls most people is the timing. In a time of such severe austerity and when the national average pay rise is 1%. While, in reality, many people have taken pay cuts and had their workloads increased.

To be fair, most politicians seem against it as well. And IPSA’s reasoning for such a gargantuan rise is to bring MPs in line with Head Teachers, Chief Superintendents and Senior Civil Servants.

With that kind of moolah on offer I’m thinking of standing for parliament myself, as an independent.

I haven’t quite got my manifesto worked out in detail, but here are the headlines:

1. Free education for all. (Including uni.)

2. Free healthcare for all.

3. World peace.

4. More rozzers, doctors and nurses.

5. Less guns and bombs.

6. Less fighting other countries.

7. Life imprisonment for rapists.

8. More wind farms.

9. No nuclear power.

10. More tax for big businesses.

11. More tax for rich people.

12. Less tax for poorer people.

13. More investment in arts and creativity.

14.  More public holidays. (One for Nelson Mandela lest we forget how to behave as politicians.)

15. Leeds United to be automatically promoted to Premier League.

16. A ban on advertising to children.

17. Red wine to be reclassified as medication for over 48s.

18. Legalise drugs and tax profits.

19. Each school to have at least one monkey.

20. Abolition of the monarchy.

21. A bit of bird for anyone proven to be at fault for the banking crisis.

22. Young offenders to have to cut old people’s grass.

23. Print loads more money.

I’ve yet to cross the I’s and dot the Ts, but it’s taking shape and should be fairer all round. Unless, you’re Google, Starbucks or Amazon. In which case, you’re in deep doodah.

I also need a campaign slogan. I was thinking something along the lines of:

Cop yourselves on, Vote Dave.

Or, Vote Dave. It’ll be a bit o’ craic.

Any suggestions gratefully accepted.


So, next general election, do the right thing and Vote Dave!

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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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The real goal is to rape Mali for all its worth.

Before we go all Gung-ho into Mali under the pretense of driving out militant Islamist rebels, let’s have a look at the real reasons why France, and now Britain, have such a keen interest in securing the region:

*Gold: Mali is Africa’s third largest gold producer with large scale exploration ongoing.

*Uranium: encouraging signs and exploration in full swing. Exploration is currently being carried out by several companies with clear indications of deposits of uranium in Mali.

*Diamonds: Mali has potential to develop its diamond exploration: in the Kayes administrative region (Mining region 1), thirty (30) kimberlitic pipes have been discovered of which eight are show traces of diamonds.

*Iron Ore, Bauxite and Manganese: significant resources present in Mali but still unexploited. Mali has according to estimates more than 2 million tonnes of potential iron ore reserves located in the areas of Djidian-Kenieba, Diamou and Bale.

And let’s not forget our old favourite – oil.

*Mali’s Petroleum potential already attracting significant interest from investors Mali’s Petroleums potential has been documented since the 1970’s where sporadic seismic and drilling revealed probable indications of oil. With the increasing price of global oil and gas resources, Mali has stepped up its promotion and research for oil exploration, production and potential exports. Mali could also provide a strategic transport route for Sub-Saharan oil and gas exports through to the Western world and there is the possibility of connecting the Taoudeni basin to European market through Algeria.

*Source: Global Research

I’m not saying we shouldn’t help the people of Mali rid themselves of bands of terrorists controlling huge swathes of the country. I’m saying we should have some transparency.

What exactly has President Hollande promised Cameron for his help? BP getting first dibs on oil exploration?

Before we send our troops out to die in the Sahara under the banner of defending The West from the tyranny of global terrorism, let’s have a bit of honesty about the real reasons we are going in there.

And that is to strip Mali, and its environs, of its natural resources.



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I’m a celebrity get me a new constituency!

Tory MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, Nadine Dorries.
(Not in Mid-Bedfordshire by the looks of things.)

Tory MP, Nadine Dorries, is in the Australian jungle in the reality TV show I’m a celebrity get me out of here. Personally, I think she should stay there. I’d also prefer it if the rest of her Tory party chums were sent out to join her. But I believe we gave up that practice a few years ago.

The problem I have with her being on this jungle jolly is that she is still drawing her £65,738 MP’s salary + expenses. (So that could be anywhere up to a couple of million quid.) And she has publicly stated that she isn’t foregoing any of it. On top of that she’s also going to be paid £40 grand by ITV for appearing on the show. Doubtless there’ll be dozens of paid-for media opportunities once she gets out.

It’s common knowledge that eating koala babies and supping crocodile blood is nothing new to Tory MPs, so chowing down on a brace of Skippy’s gonads shouldn’t be much of an ordeal for Ms Dorries. But the simple fact is, she should be back here doing the job she is being paid to do by the British tax payer, which is representing the constituents of Mid-Bedfordshire.

Surely, absconding for a month while still drawing a salary is tantamount to gross misconduct?

And, before anyone says: ‘well, she’s got a wider audience to get her views across by appearing on the show’; have a listen to this radio interview. It features Nadine’s “speechless”parliamentary assistant being quizzed as to why one of her constituents isn’t getting a response to her letters.

I say she should be fired and a by-election held in Mid-Bedfordshire before she gets back.

If you agree with me, perhaps you’d be so kind as to share this petit post via Twitter and Facebook. And, if you don’t, enjoy that roasted koala baby you’re having for your dinner.

Nadine sucking a baby wombat’s eye out.

What’s that you say, Skippy? Nadine has fallen down an abandoned mineshaft at the old goldmine? Well, get those gelding irons and grab a slab of stubbies, we’re having a barbie!


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