Category Archives: Thoughts

A victory for fairness, inclusion and common sense

If you follow British politics you will probably be reading this out of interest for my motivations for joining four other recent members of the Labour Party in a High Court action against the party, to stop the exclusion of nearly 130,000 other members in their current leadership election.

There is much to write about this – there are parallels with the fight in America for the democratic representation of Bernie Sanders, for example – but that is for a longer and different discussion.

This statement I hope sets out as succinctly as possible, why we took the action and my views on this historic win for party members and more widely (I believe) for democratic inclusion, fairness and common sense.

“This case was always about fairness and inclusion. The Labour Party has seen the greatest surge in membership of any party in decades; with people joining to support a process of change in this country. A change that is desperately needed, both politically and economically. A change that benefits the many and not just the few.

As a recent Labour Party member and an enthusiastic convert from an almost life-long supporter of the Conservative Party, it was sadly perverse to then find that the NEC decided to exclude myself and nearly a quarter of its party’s membership from fairly taking part in the democratic process of the leadership election. That it decided to exclude so very many from the political process and the ideals of the party itself.

The Labour Party has defended its case on the basis that the promises it made to members were aspirations, rather than a binding agreement; and that its executive committee has a right to change the rules at any time, however it likes, even retroactively. It is deeply ironic that the NEC tried to argue that the illegal manipulation of the party’s rules was necessary in order to prevent manipulation of its political process, whilst then offering voting inclusion to any who could afford the expense of a £25 charge.

This judgement is a vindication that the political process should be fair, democratic and inclusive; that political parties, like any other organisation, must uphold its rules fairly to those who support them. More widely, this is a victory for equality and inclusion. Political parties must keep their promises, just as we all reasonably expect anyone else to in other aspects of our lives.

I am deeply grateful for the support of so many: the donations of over 1,700 people to support the substantial costs in taking this action for democracy, and of course Kate Harrison and all on the legal team that have provided such kind and professional work in this matter.”

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Life Lessons from Ironing

Ironing. Love it or hate it. Most of my friends hate it.

However, I have learned to find a way of enjoying this chore; taking satisfaction from a job done well. However, when the pile gets too high, it does become an almost impossible task to start.

Much like many other parts of my life.

So here is my Top Ten life lessons I’ve learned whilst steaming away with my Laurastar ‘Ironing System’:

1. Once you start, the mountain is never as big as it seems.
2. Use the right tools for the job.
3. Details can be ignored, but you’ll feel better knowing things are done properly.
4. Pressure helps get things done quicker.
5. Good music helps.
6. Drink makes things seem easier, but means tasks take longer. As do drugs.
7. Good company can help, but often proves distracting to the mission at hand.
8. Make realistic goals and set yourself rewards.
9. Quality over quantity is always better.
10. You can’t iron out fatal flaws. Throw out stuff that is no longer fit for purpose.

Footnote: get a good iron (with a separate steam unit) and a high quality ironing board. You will cut your ironing time in half. John Lewis have a good range and expert advice if you visit them.

This Life And Us

This life and us. Are we not all doing the same, simply trying to be ourselves?

We face a journey: through stubbornness and restless autumnal change; the disguised fears and dark days of winter; guilt and impatience for the dawn of spring; and onward, to the hopeful first flight of our hearts in summer.

Then, perhaps, to soar above the storms and to faint stars beyond the seasons of our life. It is there that we may find our eventual rest: in the arms of the universe.

The Rainbow Roller Coaster

I have many euphoric moments in my life: from the wild rides bouncing through country lanes with a best friend, acid house playing a 303 bassline and a smile wider than the River Wye on my face, to quieter moments at dawn or the middle of the night, standing still and letting the universe touch my soul.

I have quite extraordinary encounters, such as the a clown I met in the middle of a Nevada desert and our connection as we exchanged gifts: he gave me home-made pistachio ice-cream from his bicycle and I made him an ice-cold Martini Vesper.

These are the sort of tales that illustrate my life. A life filled with colour.

I am very, very blessed by my experiences and the people I know well or merely by smiles glimpsed in the watching crowd on my roller coaster ride of life; such as that desert, bike-riding clown perhaps, whose name I will never remember.

Yet, like so many of us, I still find my soul too many times tormented by human fears: those times when each step feels like a slow walk on fiery coals. A walk through fire without the cheers and shouts of a crowd to support me on what might otherwise be painless strides. My gut twists in awkward agony and I wonder wherefore my angels have forsaken me.

I am a Gemini. My life is filled with contrast. This is a fate I reach for with open arms: I see the patterns and feel the smiling sunshine on my face as much as I wake, sweaty with fear, in the middle of the lonely night wondering if I will live until the light breaks timidly through my windows.

There is an exquisite beauty in living such a life. I cannot imagine another. And the truth I struggle with is that I would not have it any other way.

It is what must be. And it must be accepted.

Through recent months I have learned a little of the art of what I call ‘self-responsibility’. This is owning and acceptance for everything (and I mean everything) that happens to me and all that I feel: from the blissful to the torturous.

All of it.

This does not mean that I am to blame for things that go awry or castigate myself for my mistakes. I just know I do my best and accept what happens as being just that: what happens. I know I am responsible for my feelings, in whatever place they may be at any particular time.

Perhaps, most importantly, I know that in taking responsibility for everything, I actually have a choice in everything, including that most wayward of human living: my feelings.

I have been blessed to find long periods where I see the good, the positive, the love that is all around as well as pained by only seeing that which is not.

I have the power to choose which I see and experience in any moment, even if my human nature fails me time and time again in this regard.  I have learned that while the answers to life and how to live to it are really very simple, this does not mean that they are very easy to do.

Far from it. This life is a challenge and the wonder of it and why I struggle with it, stumble and fight-  at times desperately – to hold on to it always amazes me.

So what now, on this knife-edge of existence?  Between the connection of all things loved, to love and be loved in return and or the other side of inky blackness, of loneliness, of failure and despair?

I do not know.

What I do know is that the struggle each day with the fear of failure is worth the moments of when life blesses one with joy. To know that even in the grey veil of rain, one may see a rainbow. Perhaps even be so lucky, as I have (twice now, here in the countryside), to be at that rainbow’s end; and to have one’s entire world experienced for a moment through a veil of multi-coloured glory.

There is no answer except HOPE: this being the knowledge that in those dark and lonely moments, we have faith in something better, glorious and amazing.

Perhaps in this modern age we have too much association with hope being nothing but a consolation prize, rather than embracing it and giving it the respect and care it deserves. To have hope is to have everything: to responsibly accept what happens, without blame or guilt, and have faith that when things don’t go right there WILL be better days.

A friend once told me at the end of one of my many magical parties, when one person had got too drunk and cast a slight shadow over proceedings: “If there wasn’t someone to spoil things then there wouldn’t be all the good people making it all such fun.”

So in my contrasted life, I take solace that the days when things don’t go right, it means that there will be those when everything does… to embrace the ups and downs, the twists and turns and to remember, always remember, the words of the late and gifted comedian, Bill Hicks:

“Remember folks, it is all just a ride. It’s just a ride.”

Here at The Tower another day dawns and I for one am running again, if nervously, towards the entrance of the roller coaster of life for another turn.

SQUIRREL SAFETY

If ever releasing a squirrel (and trust me, if you live in the country you will need to do this at some point), make sure you do not do this in the middle of a field.

Apparently, they go for the higher ground. And that means you and your head. face, hair, eyeballs. And despite your best intentions for all concerned, they will be even more annoyed than they were before.

You have been advised…