Thursday, 13 February 2014

Etre et avoir

A student at a sixth form college I teach at, part-time, has just asked me if I can help her learn French. Of course, I'm happy to help. It's easy to recommend a course, but what music or film can I recommend? Music? That's easy; France Gall. Totally French, easy to follow and comprehend.
But a Film. That's not so easy because, you see, so many French films are actually not that "French". Jean de Florette, a modern classic is set in the deep south (where people would have spoken Occitan not French). Films like La Haine are riddled with the accents of a different post-modern France.
So, it's simple choice. The easy pleasures of "Etre et avoir".

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Tax and the Minimum Wage

The Lib Dems list a number of achievements in the coalition government. Whatever we might think, one does stand out as a real achievement and that is the increase in the basic tax allowance, which will be £10,000 from April 2014. A manifesto pledge fulfilled then. However, like so many reforms this could easily be left for inflation to erode if we are no longer in government. So, I'd like to see a new policy; a new target. To link the basic tax allowance to the minimum wage and take it out of the political arena altogether. 
Let's challenge the Tories and Labour. A tax allowance that is set at the minimum wage for a 35 hour week and the link permanently maintained. That would be £11485 pounds. A good policy and fair. Simply logical too. Surely a minimum wage is the minimum we should expect anyone to live on? So it shouldn't be taxed.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Party Conference and the inevitable by election

Contrary to general opinion I really have nothing against party conference. Indeed, I have been twice and enjoyed Scarborough in 1975 and Llandudno in 1976.
But ever since then I've simply never made it. By elections, dear boy, by elections. Indeed September and October by elections are such a regular feature of our local calendar I almost wonder if it's not deliberate. Some wicked Tory plot to keep me away....

Monday, 9 September 2013

Are the local Tories in Freefall?

Rumours abound that the Huntingdon and North West Cambridgeshire Conservative Associations are in the midst of a serious crisis. In the case of the Huntingdon Association this includes very serious financial difficulties. Losing seats to us Lib Dems and to UKIP in May can't be helping.
But there are more fundamental, long term causes of their decline and internal disarray. The decision some years ago to select candidates who we not local and belonged to minorities in this very 'conservative' area is the root cause. Of course they will bounce back at some point, but is this signifying a more long term decline and will they eventually reach a position from which they cannot recover? Time will tell.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Garrard SP25 Mk II

If you recognise what this is about you are in your mid to late 50's. My Pioneer record deck, purchased in the 1980s went to meet it's maker last week. Doubtless I could have found the spare part somewhere on the net, but it was never loved and I decided to trawl ebay to see what I can find. And there it was - my first record deck! 1971 or 1972 I guess, 15 or 16 at the time. With a small Phillips Amplifier, later exchanged for a Sansui Au101.

It arrived and joy of joys, one channel wasn't working properly, so back to my youth, unscewing plugs, twisting wires, checking soulder and, voila, it works! I nearly cried. The sound, with a Goldring Cartridge, is warm and soft. I love vinyl and despite being the owner of 100s of CDs I'm indifferent to them. That's what I like about ebay; it's not finding a bargain, it's being able to travel back in time.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Stagecoach X5 - the jewel in the crown?

It's a super service and one which my Lib Dem colleagues and I have always given our support too and promoted through Focus. It's pretty obvious that Stagecoach have viewed the service as a 'Jewel in the Crown' too.

However this week has seen reports of as many as 7 of their 17 AC and WiFi equipped coaches in dock, replaced by more elderly units and even by a double decker!

Stagecoach need to look to their laurels. Losing passengers is easy; get them back out of their cars much more difficult.