Archive for General

Illegal immigration targets need to be kept

You can always rely on politicians to take a good idea and make such a hash of implementing it that public opinion turns against it and an opportunity is lost for a generation.

I refer, of course, to the efforts to remove illegal immigrants from the country. An absolutely justified and necessary task which the majority of the public will agree with. It’s not fair for genuine immigrants to go through the proper channels, pay for visas and pay taxes when they get here if illegal immigrants are effectively given an amnesty because it’s too much effort to track them down and send them home. So it’s right that the British government should have targets for removing illegal immigrants from the country.

Image result for hmt empire windrush

The problem is, immigration officials have been going after easy targets: the Windrush generation. These are people who are legally entitled to live in the UK thanks to various pieces of legislation giving residency rights to citizens of many former colonies and Commonwealth countries. But there is no register of the people who have that entitlement, nor is there a reliable list of people who decided to exercise those rights so they have to prove their entitlement when asked.

This hasn’t really been a problem until recently when immigration officials have started asking people who’ve lived here 40 or 50 years to prove that they were entitled to do so all those years ago. Many people have no proof because they haven’t needed any proof and hadn’t anticipated being interrogated by immigration when they visit family and some have been deported to a country that they don’t belong in, breaking up families and ruining lives in the process.

Looking at the situation objectively there has to be a problem with people falsely claiming the right to live here under those pieces of legislation that granted the Windrush generation rights otherwise they wouldn’t be wasting time, money and political capital targeting them. The trouble is that they are deporting people who shouldn’t be deported and they know they are but there are targets to hit and this is an easy way of hitting them. Targets that have been put in place because the British government has no control over EU immigration so can only target non-Europeans to get immigration figures down.

The outcome of this incompetent handling of immigration controls and the subsequent terminological inexactitudes in parliament from the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has led to the abandonment of any targets to remove illegal immigrants from the country. Rather than just telling immigration officials not to investigate and deport people from the Commonwealth who have been living here for 40 years they have given a green light not only to historic illegal immigrants but to those who are planning to make their way here in future. It’s like ATOS disability assessments and the so-called Bedroom Tax all over again – good idea, terrible execution and now so toxic that any government wanting to pick it up again in the future will be committing political suicide. The only good thing to come out of it is Amber Rudd announcing her resignation today.

The Windrush generation need some certainty and that means putting a stop to the deportation of Commonwealth citizens who have been living in this country for years. They have a right to live here and are well integrated into society. Targets for the removal of illegal immigrants absolutely need to stay but the focus needs to be on those who are actually here illegally. It’s not hard to tell the difference.

RIP Cllr Denis Allen

It is a sad fact that you don’t get a true picture of how valued a person is until they die. I was privileged to attend the funeral of Cllr Denis Allen today.

The crematorium was full, the service personal and people travelled from far and wide to pay their respects. At the wake a eulogy was read by one of the two MEPs who attended and there was a personal message from Nigel Farage. The Mayor of Wellington and several borough councillors were at the funeral, as were his former military colleagues.

Denis was argumentative, obstinate and always right even when he was wrong but he was also a loyal friend, hard working and honest. He will be sadly missed not just by me but by many people locally and nationally.

Cllr Denis Allen

Update

So, it’s been almost two years since I posted here (apart from yesterday) and if I have any followers left I should probably explain.

About two and a half years ago my wife, Lesley, was diagnosed with cancer. It was stomach cancer and by the time it presented symptoms (trouble swallowing) it had spread to her throat and it was incurable. They told her she had a year so she proved them wrong and lasted a year and a half. She died on 2nd May last year after it spread to her brain and spine. It was mercifully quick.

Now I find myself a widowed parent of four with a full time job and politics has really taken something of a back seat this past year while I figure out what I’m going to do with my life. I’m still working on that.

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Feck off Death!

Frank Kelly: 1939-2016

Happy New Year

2015 turned out to be a pretty shitty year but friends and family have rallied round to support us. Let’s hope 2016 is a better year than 2015!

2016

Happy Holidays

The Saturnalia tree is up, there’s a pagan holly and ivy wreath on the door and the kids are playing with their winter solstice presents. That can only mean one thing: it’s Zeusmas! Thank the FSM Hanukkah was early this year because it’s going to be a nightmare next year when it clashes with Kwanzaa on the 26th.

And this, my friends, is why people in secular countries all over the world say happy holidays. They’re not taking the Christ out of Christmas, they’re putting the Yule back into Yuletide, the Saturn back into Saturnalia, winter back into the solstice, the hog into Hogswatch and the FSM into ChriFSMas. There’s no war on Christmas, just an appreciation of the fact that most people don’t believe in the religion that claims the exclusive rights to the month of December to celebrate the birth of one of its prophets (who was actually born in spring but had the date moved to help Christianise the Roman Empire) and their insistence that the winter solstice be dedicated to their chosen religion.

Now I’ve got that off my chest, I hope you have a happy whatever festival you choose to celebrate and in honour of the pagan roots of the holidays get drunk, have fun and be as debauched as your significant other/chance festive acquaintance allows you. Having a good time and making your loved ones happy is more important than arguing about whose sky fairy has the biggest tonker, especially when we all know the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s noodly appendages are way bigger than Jehovah’s old fella and He’s got hundreds of them!

Lest we forget

Remember, remember …

410 years and Westminster is still packed to the rafters with traitors. Come back Guy Fawkes, all is forgiven.

Happy Dress Like a Slut Day

Scary

Scary

World’s most mediocre arts critic describes world’s most successful fantasy writer as mediocre

I’m no stranger to being censored on the Guardian’s ironically named Comment Is Free but usually it’s for such heretical thinking as disagreeing with something they say or correcting one of their many, many mistakes, not for criticising an arts critic.

Guardian arts critic, Jonathan Jones, has written what I will generously call a worthless piece of substandard literary diarrhoea describing Sir Terry Pratchett as a “mediocre” writer publishing “ordinary potboilers”. He bases this opinion on never having read any of Terry Pratchett’s books and never intending to read any of them even if he lived to be a million years old.

Let’s just examine the facts shall we? Prior to the release of his final book, Shepherds Crown, this week Terry Pratchett had sold over 85m books in 37 different languages. He was given the OBE for services to literature in 1998 and knighted in 2009 for the same. He was the number one best selling fantasy/sci fi writer in the 1990s, won a huge list of awards, was awarded 10 honorary doctorates, was made an adjunct professor of Trinity College Dublin and big budget films were made out of four of his Discworld novels. The plays of his books have been performed the world over and a large number of his books have been recorded for radio and broadcast around the world. The books have spawned calendars, diaries, figurines, board games, computer games and other merchandise. Sir Terry Pratchett had a net worth of £42m according to the 2012 Sunday Times Rich List. He has been credited with inadvertently inventing the genre of comic fantasy. When he died, people around the world mourned his death and inspired by a quote from one of his books, Going Postal – “A man is not dead while his name is still spoken” – thousands of websites and internet servers gained a “GNU Terry Pratchett” header in the ultimate geek tribute. Even the Guardian website did it.

Jonathan Jones has written two books. You won’t have heard of them and you won’t have read them. He’s an art critic for the morally and financially bankrupt Guardian newspaper. He presented an TV series on art for BBC2 and although he has presented two prestigious arts awards, he has never won any award himself.

Jones isn’t even a has-been, he’s a never-was. He’s a literary snob exploiting the release of the last ever Discworld novel to gain some notoriety. He says that he’s never read a Pratchett book and that they’re so far down his list of books to read that he “would have to live a million years before getting round to them”. He says that he once flicked through a Discworld book in a bookshop “but his prose seemed very ordinary”. Ordinary!

Because he’s never read the Discworld novels he hasn’t watched the characters evolve over three or four decades until you know them so well that reading the next book is like catching up with old friends. He hasn’t experienced the hairs on the back of his neck prickling at spotting a strand of continuity in the latest Discworld novel that goes back 30 years or the pleasure in reading a book for the tenth time and still spotting something that you didn’t notice the first nine times. He can’t empathise with Commander Vimes’ struggle to reconcile his working class, republican man on the street background with marrying into the aristocracy and becoming a Duke or Granny Weatherwax’s constant battle to contain the “black” in her, knowing that if she stops fighting it a lot of people will get hurt (or have their heads messed with so they believe they’re frogs in a human body which is a lot worse then being turned into an actual frog). He won’t know that that Sir Terry (or Pterry as he’s known to fans) tackled such complex subjects as poverty, equality, bigotry and religious extremism whilst making people laugh. If that isn’t -ing genius then I don’t know what is.

I picked up my copy of the Shepherds Crown on Saturday (well, two copies actually – one to read and a slipcase edition to keep) but I haven’t started it yet. I’m reading another book at the moment that my wife ordered me to read and I don’t like leaving a book half read. I’m sure Pterry would have understood. I’m in no hurry to get through the Shepherds Crown because it means I’m at the end of the Discworld series. Once I’ve read it, the Discworld will be frozen in time and that saddens me. Throughout all the trials and tribulations of trying to survive as a hormonal teenager, through the traumatic loss of close family members, meeting my wife and having a family, through depression and dark times and the best days of my life Terry Pratchett has been there for me, providing a means of escape from reality and even a moral compass at times. We could all benefit from being a bit more Terry. For me he was the greatest author that humanity has produced and he will be without equal, at least in my lifetime. And Jonathan Jones? How many people he’s never even met will still be mourning his passing 6 months after he’s gone?

If you are thinking of commenting on Jonathan Jones’ article then just these three words will suffice …

GNU Terry Pratchett

Another day of the solar apocalypse survived

So we’re now on day 3 of the solar apocalypse and against all odds I’m still one of the survivors.

The temperature got as high as 32 degrees yesterday which is the sort of temperatures we experienced some summers when I was a kid. Of course, 30 odd years ago a heatwave in summer was just called weather and people made the most of it with a day at the seaside whereas now it’s a killer solar apocalypse caused by global warming and everyone is advised to stay in their houses because they’re going to die the second they walk out of the house.

Day 3 of the solar apocalypse is a bit cooler and damper than the first two days. It’s still in the 20s but the light showers of cool rain must be bringing some welcome relief to the council workmen who are doing a stirling job clearing the mounds of bodies off the streets.

Meanwhile, here’s another gratuitous tabloid heatwave picture.

The solar apocalypse is upon us

Well, day one of the killer solar apocalypse is over and I’ve managed to cling on to life against all the odds.

According to the Met Office and other experts the temperatures getting up to the same sort of level that holidaymakers inexplicably survive in their millions every year is going to be a killer with particular groups at risk including the young and old, active and inactive, healthy and unhealthy, fat and thin, gingers and depending on your religious persuasion, gays.

Despite ticking several of those boxes and the Daily Express suggesting I’m little more than a walking corpse, I took my life into my own hands and ventured outside a couple of times yesterday. I’m still here to type about it so I made it through day one of the killer heatwave; only time will tell if I survive to the weekend.

In the meantime, here’s a gratuitous tabloid picture of some young ladies sunbathing in a park to remind you the sun’s shining.

Sunbathing in a park

Happy Creator’s Day

Gone but not forgotten …

Happy Creator's Day Terry Pratchett

The true meaning of Easter

It’s that time of the year again where Christians celebrate Jesus turning into a zombie. But it’s important to remember the true meaning of Easter in these modern times.

Ēostre was celebrated by pagans long before the Romans started nailing Jews to bits of wood and was only adopted as a Christian festival when the Romans started hijacking pagan festivals and attributing them to events in the bible.

Easter is full of pagan imagery such as painted eggs and rabbits or hares. The eggs represent the sunlight of spring and the rabbits and hares are fertility symbols. The whole festival of Easter really has nothing to do with zombie Jesus, it’s all about celebrating the spring equinox and worshipping a pagan fertility goddess. So enjoy your chocolate pagan fertility symbols and don’t forget to say thanks to the goddess Oestera.

Eostre Hare

Sir Terry Pratchett OBE, 1948-2015

I was absolutely gutted today to hear the news that Terry Pratchett had died. I turned to Facebook to share grief with the world (as you do) and sat staring at my phone for half an hour. How do you distil your feelings about the death of the author you’ve read almost continuously for the past 25 years into a Facebook status? I’ve lived inside this man’s head for the majority of my life and it feels like losing a member of the family.

I started reading Discworld books as a young teen on the recommendation of my local librarian. He wasn’t an orangutan and he didn’t have a beard or pointy hat so he probably wasn’t a wizard. He was a great librarian though because he managed to track down every Terry Pratchett book in the county one by one and get them sent to our little library so I could devour them.

My collection of Terry Pratchett books is … comprehensive … and I read them all the time. My wife keeps telling me I should read something else and I do read other books from time to time but I go straight back to my Terry Pratchett books when I’m finished. Some of these books I’ve been reading for 25 years and I still find something new every time I read them. The continuity is amazing for 40 books written over 3 decades with characters that might have made only a cameo appearance in the first couple of books popping up 30 books later.

I was fortunate enough to accidentally (no, really) rent a holiday cottage in the next village to Terry’s house a couple of years ago. The housekeeper told me which pub he drank in and I thought about going a few times but I decided against it, figuring that his local is probably the last public place on earth he can go without being bothered by fans. My kids wanted to walk up the lane to his house and tell him how much of a fan I was but I pointed out that that’s stalking. He probably wouldn’t have minded but I felt like he’d earned what little privacy he had. I’m one of what I imagine to be a fairly small number of people who not only know where the Chalk is but to have seen the corner of Discworld that Tiffany Aching inhabits. The reason the Chalk feels so real in the stories is because it absolutely is – it’s what he saw when he looked out of his window.

Pterry’s genius has earned him immortality but a world with no new Terry Pratchett books is just too much to contemplate at the moment. Terry Pratchett and the Discworld have been a big part of my life for so long. No more books to look forward to. No more harassing the staff at Waterstones for pre-order dates when I know a book is due out soon. We’ll never know whether it’s Carrot or Nobby, what happens when a werewolf and a human make a baby, what really happened to Esk or where little Sam’s cow is. This makes me sad even though I know we would never have found out anyway because he didn’t know himself. He could have tied up all these loose ends with a few words but I think he liked to keep himself in suspense as much as his readers.

Terry had been suffering from a rare form of Alzheimer’s for the last few years which he referred to as his “embuggerance”. He died at home, surrounded by his family in a bed covered in cats. He went before the disease took his mind which is a small consolation. His death was announced on the Twitter account he shared with his assistant, Rob.

At last, Sir Terry, we must walk together.
Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.
The End.

New car

My trusty Vauxhall Zafira has finally gone to the great scrapyard in the sky. The MOT was up this month and it just needed too much work going to it – two new tyres, new clutch, new EGR valve, new brake pipes, new discs, new exhaust … and that’s just the things I knew about!

I’m now the proud owner of a Suzuki Wagon R+ VVT auto. It looks like Postman Pat’s van and it’s a bit of a grandad car but it’s surprisingly roomy, quite nippy for a 1.3 engine and it’s only done 30,000 miles in 9 years with a service every 6 months. It’s not the most exciting car I’ve ever had but I’m not quite ready for a mid-life crisis just yet.

I thought going from a manual to an auto was going to be difficult but I’ve only gone for the clutch a couple of times since I picked the car up on Friday.

Stupid Wagon R

Happy whatever

Been a bit busy but Chrifsmas is nearly here

Lest we forget

When You Go Home

Happy slutty costume day

Smash some pumpkins … or whatever.
Slutty Halloween Costumes