Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Now Show

Clearly the best way to prepare for a job interview is to listen to Punt, Dennis and others make jokes about the election. This section made the people of Cambridge fear for my sanity.

Possible election parties
New Adventure Park for Plymouth Party - looking for a big swing
Chairs not Benches party = looking for a large number of seats
Improve facilities for overweight train spotters party - standing on a broad platform
Fair deal for amnesic sperm donors - lost their deposit

and the Conservative candidate for Hove who hopes to end the downward spiral of unemployment, crime and coastal erosion.

How can you be nervous after that.

The Art centre

On Saturday we went to see a triple bill of bands playing. The first were a folk duo called Trevor Moss and Hannah Lou. Although we only heard the final two songs that they performed they were tight as a duo, were good on their instruments and as his voice was a slightly unusual register made a folk sound that was a little different to the usual. Watch below and see what you think. Are there really a man and a woman singing?

They have their first album out and are the reason why Simon Cowell is evil. Why are musicians this good playing venues of 300 when Jedward are famous (albeit temporarily)

The second band up were Danny and the Champions of the World who featured the first duo with another lead singer who was a bit more of a showman and really worked hard to help put on a good show as well as being excellent on the banjo and guitars. The lack of a drummer makes an interesting sound that is sweeter and purer and avoids being too loud putting a premium on vocals. There are other Champions who come and go but they a;; know what they are about. See what you think below. This clip is from a larger festival and has more Champions on the stage than we saw.

The final band were called The Duke and the King. They were good and I loved the flexibility of the band with all but the violinist swapping between guitar singing and drums so when the songs moved between soul/ gospel/ pop and folk depending who was singing and who was playing what instruments. It also appeared to be a complete love in with various members hugging each other at the end of each song foe no real obvious reason.

39 Steps

A lovely jaunty comedic thriller loosely based on the John Buchan novel on the same name following the desperate plight of Richard Hannay and his attempts to evade the police and stop the 39 Steps spy ring succeeding. Overall very entertaining and it passed the Mark Kermode laugh test of at least 5 hearty laughs needed to make a good comedy. The lighting was pure film noir, a subject I have been learning about from an expert, and other aspects such as shadows, femme fatales and private eye/cop/ spy character. It was also fun to spot the Hitchcock references and although they were not overly subtle I am sure that I missed a few of them. I was also love the way that there are only four (or are there) member of the cast so they all play multiple roles sometimes in the same scene. The Hannay/ Bra salesman/ police/ newspaper boy scene is very funny and beautifully choreographed. I also love the way that the make up for the fact that cannot get some props on the stage so the scene set on top of a moving railway carriage is priceless.

Away goals

I hate the away goals rule. It says that after both legs of a tie are played and the scores are level then goals scored on your opponents ground are considered double.

I am currently listening to the radio and Lyon are playing Bayern Munich. Bayern win the first leg in Munich 1-0 and have just scored again in Lyon so they are leading 2-0. This means that if Lyon could score a goal to make it 2-1 then they could made make Bayern feel nervous and force them into an error. WRONG Lyon have to score 3 because if it is 2-2 then Bayern win on away goals. This means that the excitement levels are reduced and teams play defensively or negatively and the game excitement is shortened.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

School could be closed tomorrow?????

So Rachel is Miami
Richard is on Jamaica
Alison is on Gran Canaria
Simone is in Lisbon
Andy is in Copenhagen
Kate might be in Austria
and Bruce is supposed to be in New Zealand
and these are the ones I know about

Good old volcanoes. Don' think the kids are going to struggle with any questions on the economic consequences of volcanoes.

The Ghost

An excellent political thriller that really was very atmospheric. It was set in a very desolate sand dune almost moon like sand dune landscape that was supposed to be Massachusetts but was actually Germany. The plot plays features Ewan (with a shifting accent) McGregor travels to the US to write the memoirs of a former UK Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan) who is accused of war crimes after the previous writer died. It reminded me of Hitchcock films in the tone and Roman Polanski was able to shoot the film with a very washed out and dull palette. It reminded me of Wallander (an excellent Swedish detective series). I loved the landscape, I loved the house especially the floor length window looking out over the sea and I loved the tone of the film. The point when he finds the shoes of the previous writer was a fun moment - literally dead man shoes. I only wish that they did not kill characters as it is often more fun to work out what might of happened if they had stayed alive.

Me to the rescue

Last night about eleven I was proceeding along the road when I saw a lady lying in the street - being a trained first aider I leapt into action. It was a lady with bad arthritis who had fallen over and could not get up as her knees were bad. She was also incoherent and very wobbly on her feet (maybe drunk but I did not think so). After she got back on her feet she was telling me she was fine and ok when she clearly wasn't before getting agitated and then almost falling over again, She started staggering down the road and looked like she was going to fall over but by clinging onto walls and gates she managed to stay upright. In the end I rang the police and told them what was going on and they said to follow at a distance until they could arrive but after 10 minutes staggering she disappeared into a house so I rang the police to tell them she was fine and went home. I hope she was alright.


I am not going to write about any more electoral advertising as I am getting so much.

Norwich City 4 lost to Dragons 2: Some goals to 1

This was the last game of the season and this cannot be the last season I play as that was one of the most frustrating I have every played in as we could not score. The team got in excellent positions but the ball would not drop, it rolled around the rim, it bounced off the edge, skimmed the basket and everything but only on one occasion was a goal scored. Our opponents on the other hand were scoring everything including 1 handed off balance off the shoulder flip that was more pass than shot. In fact it was so frustrating I am going to stop writing.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Leaders debate 1.

I am looking for specific details about how they plan to change things not lofty thinking or dreams to follow. My thoughts as it happens.

Alistair Stewart - harsh but fair, can I vote for him.

Starting with immigration, a controversial topic.
All of the controls introduced by Brown have been EU specific.
Cameron - limits on people outside the EU even if they are needed (fails the star footballer argument) plus a border police,
Clegg - introduce new border control and limiting people to various people is interesting and I thought that it was unworkable but Cameron asked him to explain which was nice (made the star footballer argument).

All of them are very keen on saying where they have been to and listening. Brown far more eloquent than I expected him to be.

Poor advertising for Burnley - high burglary rates.
Cameron - more police on the beat, longer prison terms, linking to drugs and providing rehab.
Clegg - more police on the beat funded by scrapping ID cards, breaking the link between youth crime and adult crime through community punishment
Brown - record police, parental responsibility and powers to make the police. police forces merging if one of them is not performing

Annoyed by people using individual cases portraying UK to be really bad to make their point.
Brown -"It's not question time it's answer time"

Expenses - is this not already sorted.
Clegg - holier than thou, showed he was ahead of the curve, wants campaign funding changed, can sack MP's, elected Lords (boo)
Brown - elected Lords and 50% smaller (boo), recall MP's but this could be abused, must get more than 50% of the vote.
Cameron - less MP's, MP no pay rise, quangos, elected Lords (boo)
It is nice to have a group who make decisions that aren't based on the need to get re-elected but what is good for the country (my opinion).

Education - interesting
Brown - better qualified teachers, longer at school until 18 either part-time or full-time, good schools take over poor schools, maintain funding (is that happening?)
Cameron - not enough money to front line (well we have been well funded), good marking (already happens), set the schools free!!, no appeals on exclusions, proper discipline (how?), no NI rise making staff more expensive.
Clegg - bans government from micro-managing schools (a bit vague), more creativity in lessons, smaller class sizes (16? - did I hear that correctly), Saturday morning (that's not in my contract)

If Conservatives or Lib Dems get in there will be a budget in July - wonder what they will do with stamp duty?

Finances - went to the loo - might this have an affect on how I vote?
Clegg - I am being straight with you, we have costed our reforms, deal with the other issues such as Trident that we can't afford.
Cameron - we can cut the waste, plus we won't introduce the Job Tax, interesting to see that he is saying each person can save a little while Brown is mentioning the whole number.
Brown - we will maintain funding but Conservatives will cut more, tax rise though NI

Military are they under equipped and under paid. Don't they choose to do a job that pays this amount.
Clegg - too much spent on generals and ineffective weapon systems such as Trident - this can be used to fund better body armour and other
Brown - we have improved funding, deaths occurring in responding to new tactics from the Taliban
Cameron - need a defence review so that we can work out what is needed. Blame Brown for not providing them.

Health care - aging and costs of new medication
Brown - reducing cancer waiting times. we have provided more doctors and nurses and brought waiting times down, maintain funding, death rate
Clegg - everyone spends £2000 on NHS (half than the USA), take out a layer of management
Cameron - we will exclude the NHS from cuts (clearly they have no waste), we are worse than Bulgaria in cancer rates (assuming that people in Bulgaria didn't die of something else first).
Brown refers to Nick Clegg as Nick and David Cameron as the Conservatives. All wearing party coloured tie. Cameron looks a bit orange,
Eldery care (have we not already covered this)
Cameron - £8000 at 65 then get free care after that, wants to get it free but budgets gets in the way
Clegg - respite for carers each week, try to keep people in their homes where possible
Brown - staying in home free, free residential care after two years in the same place,
Everyone seems to be agreeing.
Interesting to see who "won". Guardian has it down as a Liberal win Telegraph as a Tory win!!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Attempt 4

An A3 leaflet/ pamphlet entitled Change from the Conservatives using the poor photo someone took of Chloe Smith. While this does not change my vote it does not do her any futures. The central plank of her argument seems she is going to cut waster by $11 billion. Good luck to her. Her own personal slogan appears to be "A record of Action" which considering the short period of time she has been elected is a little strong. Her achievements include holding regular surgeries (as she is legally supposed to) and joining a large number of committees including cracking down on cycling on the pavement.

She praised GCSE results but warned against reforms that add to the "burden of bureaucracy" for local teachers. Apparently the idea that we have fallen behind is because politicians have wrong ideas and devalued the exam system." This is on the day her boss announced that anyone can set up their own school, syphon funds from other schools in the area, choose who can enter and then be surprised when they don't add enough value and are sharply criticised by Ofsted.

Vote for Change: re-elect Chloe!!!!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

First viewing.

Well the first house that we went to look round was very disappointing. I know it was near a main road but the noise was even louder than at my current house which is also busy and directly under the flight path for Norwich airport. Inside it was clear that the photos had been carefully staged to avoid the woeful bits such as the ensuite and even the best rooms did not seem as good as on the photos. Linked to this was the fact the front door was round the back in a strange configuration and the amount of jobs that would need attention meant it was taken off the list. It did reinforce the feeling that the Drayton/ Taverham area was one to focus on as it seems a nice area. Apparently 1 offer had already gone in £50,000 under the asking price and been rejected but it would have been close to value for money everything considered. However how you take away the road noise I don't know.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Norwich CIty 4 beat Norwich Ice 2 7:5

A fairly standard game. We were able just to stay ahead of the opposition who were good, well drilled but a fraction unlucky. In our division we had a player who was not very good so we kind of left him on his won as he was no danger to score and double teamed their best player and kept him to 1 goal. I scored a penalty and had a couple of other attempts which should have been closer. They were on target but a little short or long. We had a couple of good moves and we were able to pull away at the end.


Just watched the final of Matserchef - yes four days late - and I love this programme especially the final rounds because of the experiences that they put the contestants through, the constructive criticism that is given to the contestants but mostly they expect you to change your life and previous winners have. The winners so far own many of their own restaurants and another is head chef for Rich Stein. The programme takes a raw talents and guides them into an excellent chefs in the top ranks of the profession. Read more here.

Friday, 9 April 2010

The Blind side

A film starring Sandra Bullock about the raising of poor black kid in her white privileged rich family and in doing so turning him into a famous sports star. When it started and they started showing Laurence Taylor ending Joe Thiesmnann career in a famous tackle during an American Football game I was strangely heartened and some of the sports footage was well done. A good understanding of the way American education system works and more particularly the way that academic scholarships to university for sport helped fill in a bit more detail to the plot than others around me. The story was very uplifting and feel good and if a 5yr $13.8 million contract to play American football is to be considered a success.

I like some bits of the film such as the cameos from real life University coaches (lost on most of the rest of the audience) and the passion with which people support their alma mater. The involvement of the NCAA was good but I felt that it was probably only because it was dealt with in real life that it was included in the movie. I think that a far more interesting film could have been made using an investigator from the NCAA looking at Michael's story from a critical point of view posing the question "Did this family take in a large, gifted sports kid and pay for his education to a certain academic level only because they wanted him to star for the university that they went to and helped support financially?"

I was disappointed by the educational stereotypes in the film. The teachers who equate lack of formal education with stupidity, lack of differentiation in class and the way to improve education is more text books. If that had been one of my students and they had represented my teaching that way I would have been very upset. It was very clear that he was a visual learner (in his football practices) yet no lessons/ learning were geared to this mode of learning. The character of Michael was not very convincing as a person shown to be verbally bright took a long time to pick up simple footballing moves and concepts such as blocking.

The acting performances were not great. Sandy Bullock got an Oscar from her journey from loud, brash, confident mother to loud, brash, confident mother who realises that she can't control all of her children's decisions. She was ok but to me that was not the best acting performance of the year.

The movies was ok, could have been better but did make me laugh out loud on a number of occasions.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

An excellent telling off

Billy Payne was openly critical of Tiger Woods

"Our hero did not live up to his expectations of the role model we saw for our children," he said.

Speaking ahead of the tournament, Payne described Woods as a "very special player" who had proved himself one of the greats of the sport, but one who had let himself down.

"As he ascended in our rankings of the world's great golfers he became an example to our kids that success is directly attributable to hard work and effort.

"But, as he now says himself, he forgot the process to remember that with fame and fortune comes responsibility, not invisibility.

"It is not simply the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here. It is the fact that he disappointed all of us and, more importantly, our kids and our grandkids," he said.

"Is there a way forward? I hope yes, I think yes. But certainly his future will never again be measured only by his performance against par, but measured by the sincerity of his efforts to change.

"I hope he now realises that every kid he passes on the course wants his swing, but would settle for his smile.

"I hope he can come to understand that life's greatest rewards are reserved for those who bring joy to the lives of other people."

Payne added: "We at Augusta hope and pray that our great champion will begin his new life here tomorrow in a positive, hopeful and constructive manner, but this time with a significant difference from the past.

"This year it will not be just for him, but for all of us who believe in second chances."

Attempt 3

A pamphlet from John Cook, the prospective Labour candidate for Norwich North.

Positives - he is a local man and has served on Parish, District councils and as a school govenor. There are a lot of positive comments about what Labour have done especially SureStart.

Negatives - Lots of concepts for the future but not much in the way of how they are to be achieved, it was sent by Labour and Co-operative and apart from the shop I don't know who they are.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Attempt 2

A letter from the Conservatives telling me how they will change/ deal with civil liberties.

They want to scrap ID cards, it tells me what the Conservatives will do and is not negative campaigning, it uses the word illiberal twice

Negatives - They got my name in the address but the letter is addressed to Dear Elector - can't they Mail Merge, they want to scrap some of the rules about people working with children, it seems to lay the blame for HM Revenue and Customs losing data on the government when it would have been individual error, it was posted on the 1st April

Attempt 1

Newspaper from the Labour party. It features all of the achievements Labour believe that they have masterminded from crime, education, investment and the economy. There are also some celebrities (Doctor Who and Jo Brand) telling me to vote Labour as well as some local people telling me why they would be voting Labour. It tells me that a Liberal vote would be a waste and only a few boxes attacking the Conservatives.
Positives - local examples, builds on previous achievements, not to negative about others
Negatives - does tell me what they are going to do in future

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Election: May 6th

I am a floating voter. | have some tendencies but nothing is set in stone so I will chronicle the attempts by each party to woo we and it won't be easy as I have some tricky questions.

I am not sure if Norwich North counts as a marginal technically as Chloe Smith (Conservative) has a majority of over 7000 but that was in a by-election at the height of the expenses scandal after Ian Gibson had been forced to resign by the Labour party - before that there was a Labour majority of about 7000. There was also the fact that the Labour candidate got swine flu and did no campaigning in the two week in the lead up to the election.

There is also a reshuffle of which wards are in which constituency. With two Taverham wards and two Drayton wards moving - both slightly posher areas if that is a factor.

There are also less parties currently registered with the "Put an Honest Man into Parliament" - 953 votes, BNP - 941 votes, Monster Raving Looney - 144 votes, None of the Above Party - 59 votes and Libertarian - 36 votes currently up to be claimed.