Monday, March 31, 2008

I spoke too early about my train

My train was cancelled after all! The problem was I only found this out when the train I was supposed to be on actually turned up. I got on board and then it was announced this was the later train to London. There has been a "set swap" which appears to suggest that the train I am on is supposed to be the one I booked on. The "set swap" means that the seat reservations are no longer valid. I had to find the train guard to find out what had happened and what to do about tickets. It would have been nice if we had been told all this before we got onto the train instead of finding out our train had been cancelled after getting on board. So, three weeks in a row my train has been cancelled. Please bring back GNER. National Express appear unable to organise a piss up in a brewery. I wouldn't put them in charge of a model train set.

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Monday morning blog - the anonymous bar of chocolate

When we got back from Worksop yesterday, we found the usual array of newspapers and letters through the door. But also put through the door was a bar of organic chocolate. No explanation as to who it is from or why we have been given it. I am intrigued. If anyone can throw some light on this kind act of generosity, please get in touch!

It being Monday morning, I am of course now at Newcastle Central Station, waiting for my train. The fact it hasn't been cancelled must be regarded as something of a minor miracle!

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

The BNP have moved Big Ben

One of my colleagues on Gateshead Council got his hands on a copy today of a glossy mailing posted out by the BNP to people who, it can only be summised, were regarded by the BNP as supporters. Complete with begging letter was a magazine, issue 1 of "Hope and Glory".

When I looked at it, something did not appear to be quite right on the front page which was filled by a hugh picture of the Houses of Parliament. And then it struck me, Big Ben had been moved and airbrushed into a different place. For some reason it is now where the St Stephen's entrance is.

Quite why the BNP should wish to redesign one of our great British buildings in this way is not clear.

Thumbing through the pages reveals no surprises. The usual BNP rants about foreigners, asylum seekers and immigrants. And an awful lot about Nick Griffin, the BNP chairman. The sheer weight of promotion of the chairman would almost suggest that he had been having difficulties within his party recently!

The back page is devoted to BNP must-have mercandise from "Excalibur". Indeed, Chairman Nick in one of his articles writes, "A big restocking is now under way at Excalibur, which aims to provide a much bigger selection of attractive gifts showcasing our wonderful Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Norse heritage..."

Mmmmm, now let me just consider this a moment...... I seem to recall from my study of history that the Anglo-Saxons and Norsemen (better known as the Vikings) were all immigrants who forcibly made their way into Britannia. Interesting to know that BNP are exhibiting a significant degree of inconsistency on immigration!

Or perhaps this is all a bluff to make the great British public think the BNP actually like immigration and that the nation can benefit from the movement of people to our shores who can bring skills and new cultures. Or perhaps the BNP has a secret policy to remove all immigrants and their descendents. Quite where all the Anglo-Saxons and Norsemen (and women) will go is not clear!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

What a small world

I turn up at a place I have never been to before, Worksop, to the 50th birthday of someone I have not met before, in a room where the only person I know is David, and one of the first people I speak to is a Lib Dem councillor! Cllr Lindsley from Buckinghamshire County Council is mother of Louise Bloom, whose partner is Keith House who I do know. (Keith is Leader of Eastleigh and big knob in Chris Huhne's constituency.) What a small world!

It is now that time in the evening when the disco is playing the hits of the 60s. Groovy man!

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Challenging Labour MP to public debate

Dave Anderson, Labour MP for Blaydon, the constituency in which my ward is located on Tyneside, voted with the government last week to continue closing post offices. Mr Anderson has signed reams of early day motions protesting about the impact of government policy on post offices, EDMs that have highlighted the importance of post offices to communities.

Mr Anderson was selected on a platform of hostility to New Labour in 2004 when he was chosen by the union dominated Labour machine as their candidate for Blaydon. But since his election in 2005 he has willingly taken on the role of New Labour bag carrier and apologist for the government. Okay, a few times he loves to whinge, whine and blubber about how dreadful is the government. But you can count on the fingers of no hands at all the number of times he has actually made a genuine attempt to stop the government doing something he claims to be against by voting against the government. In other words, this MP, despite his posturing, has never once voted against the government.

The guy who postured that he would be his own guy and hold the government to account turns out not to be his own guy after all.

So it is time to hold him to account. Peter Maughan, our Blaydon candidate, has challenged him to a public debate in front of his constituents about the future of Post Offices. It is time for him to explain to people here why he says one thing and does another.

The chances are he will bottle out of taking up the challenge. So come on David, prove me wrong. Come along and tell your constituents why you have voted to close their post offices.

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Off to Worksop in the rain

We have just left the house and are heading to Worksop in the pouring rain. And for what reason I hear you not ask? It is a 50th birthday celebration. Not mine! That is still many, many years away (well actually not that many actually!) The person in question is called Alison and was a student with David some decades ago at Newcastle Poly, since reborn as Northumbria University.

I am heading there armed with camera. Talking of which, I went to the Friends of Whickham Library Garden meeting this morning where members asked me to take photos of the garden to use in promotional material. And afterwards I went to the Whickham Community Fayre and took more photos, including of the (Labour) mayor opening it. I have a new photo printer so I think to test it I will run off a couple of pics of the mayor. Sorry to use you as a guinea pig Mr Mayor but needs must! You will of course be able to keep the prints.

Anyway, I will be reporting live from Worksop sometime soon. Bet you can't wait (not)!

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Fascinating things to do on a train

I am currently on the train heading home though it was very nearly a minor miracle that I caught the train. My tube got stuck for ages at Oxford Circus, then at Warren St, and then between Euston and KX. But fortunately I caught the train with a minute or two to spare. I am currently watching one of those David Attenborough programmes about life in very odd places - this one is about life in caves. It is playing on the laptop of the person sitting in front of me. I can see the screen over her shoulder. Very interesting!

It reminds me that I have booked my next foreign venture for the purpose of shooting video and taking photos later this year. Heading off to Thailand and Jordan. Watch out for some new additions to my YouTube channel in the months to come!

To offset the carbon, I have 12 sycamore seedlings sprouting in pots in the garden in London which have so far survived the squirrels. I have some acorns etc at the house in Sunniside ready to plant as well.

That Attenborough programme has now finished and the laptop owner is now using it to play chess. I think it is time to catch up on some lost sleep from Wednesday. Update on Richard: he is taking painkillers and won't let me put the photo I took of him at the hospital with his black eye on the blog!

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

A black eye and a sore head

Following on from my previous blog written in the hospital, I can now report that Richard's re-enactment of Casualty resulted in a seriously bad black eye and a lump on the head. This was followed by a 4am discharge from hospital.

Having failed to catch up on lost sleep I am now heading in to Cowley St where no doubt I will be working even later than normal tonight.

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Sitting in the hospital A&E

I got a call at midnight. A friend had fallen and bashed his head. So I had to get a taxi over to Lewisham Hospital. He of course is unconscious and I am currently surrounded by machines going ping with lots of cables dangling from them. Human bodies are now like electrical appliances. They can just be plugged in to be recharged or kept ticking over. The doctor says he will be okay. I think I will try to have a snooze for a while.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

On a tropical island far far away

In December I visited an island called Anjouan which I reckon must be the remotest part of the planet I have so far visited. Tucked away in the Indian Ocean, it has only 2,000 visitors a year.

Anjouan is part of the Comorro Islands which were granted independence from France in 1975 (one island, Mayotte, which I also visited, decided to stay French). Since independence, the Comorros have experienced 19 coups and attempted coups. There was talk of one when we were sailing to Anjouan, though at that point it didn't happen.

However, for the past few weeks, Anjouan has been under the control of a rebel leader. The other islands in the group however have launched an invasion, backed by Tanzanian troops. The rebellion has now been crushed.

This has barely been reported in the UK media but I know about it because over the weekend I was contacted by an American media company who wanted to use my videos I shot when I was on the island. At that point it wasn't a war zone, just a tropical paradise.

So here are the videos:
A visit to Anjouan
A welcome in Anjouan
Dolphins in Anjouan

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Whickham School update

Latest news: whilst the school is open for teaching, problems have been found with the power supplies to the smaller blocks. As a result, years 7 and 8 are not required to attend school for the rest of this week.
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My weekly gripe about National Express

I got to Newcastle Central at 7am to catch the 7.20am train to London and for the second week running, my train has been cancelled. Last week's excuse was that the train had broken down. This week's is they "don't have a set". I know what they don't have - an ability to run a bloody train service. It seems barking mad to let a company run train services when they can't even lay their hands on some trains.

There will of course be a race to get the only spare seats on the next train. Bring back GNER, all is forgiven.

To keep warm on the otherwise frozen platform at Newcastle Central, I have invaded the Pumpkin cafe and am heating myself up on a cappaccino. The battle for the train seats starts soon so I might as well be in a good state for it.

Oh well, once more untoo the breach...
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Monday, March 24, 2008

Those wedding photos - yet another photo exclusive!

As promised, the exclusive, Hello style pics from my sister Esther's wedding last Thursday.

  • Starting with the bride and groom themselves, Esther and Ian
  • Lily does her royalty impersonation
  • click your heels together and you'll be back in, errr, Gateshead
  • David and Jayne discuss the merits of wearing fishnet stockings to weddings
  • Best men, bridesmaids and members of the Wallace clan witness the signing of the certificate in which Ian promises to honour and obey all of Esther's instructions....
  • Esther uses her role as bride as an excuse to snog all the men in the room
  • Brother Matthew and daughter Lily in one of those "this picture needs to go on the wall" poses
  • Esther and Ian get the side together in rugby scrum formation
  • Don't forget to feed the ducks and swans in Leazes Park. Apparently it is now (as of Thursday) a wedding tradition
  • No one splashed out on transport so we just hired this old banger routemaster (we signed the contract for it before Boris Johnson cancels bendy buses in London and brings back routemasters in London)
  • spot the difference - younger brother Matthew and older brother Andrew
  • expect this on Facebook soon - Richard wanted a photo with St James Park staduim in the background
  • spot the cake
  • I wasn't allowed to escape being on the other side of the camera, caught posing her with Richard
  • David and Andrew confer on the use of headgear to keep warm in the winter
  • Richard starts canvassing people from London for the mayoral election
  • The camera bit - Dad photos me photoing him photoing me etc
  • Andrew demonstrates to Mam that he does know how to use the camera
  • Donna the photographer leaps out of the undergrowth to catch the married couple
  • David and Richard compete to take the most photos on their phones (I prefer real cameras!)
  • Donna snaps me snapping her snapping me etc
  • Let them eat cake - especially spotted ones
  • Dad and Andrew plot revenge on middle son Jonathan who constantly takes photos of anything that moves
  • Best man Steven was given wellies as a present by the bride and groom - for use on the allotment I understand
  • Don't ask what he's doing with that balloon
  • Jayne prefers artists to photographers. Well, she did marry Matthew!

This Labour MP's Norman Tebbit moment

A third of the workforce of Northern Rock is to be made redundant over the next three years. That equates to 2000 jobs being lost. And the response of David Clelland, Labour MP for Tyne Bridge? He says in the Journal and on his website, "If we can't save some of [the jobs], there are other jobs available in the region." Remember Norman Tebbit's "Get on your bike" speech. I am reminded of it by Mr Clelland.

I guess there was a time years ago when job losses of this scale in the North East would have been met with horror by Labour and the likes of David Clelland. Not any more.

Now it appears that Labour's approach to the unemployed is to tell them to get on their bikes. That's assuming Labour haven't already turfed them out of their council homes for being jobless (another appalling idea from the Labour party).

Mr Clelland's comments came hot on the heals of the announcement that the jobless claimant count in the North East went up in February.

David, your comments weren't very tactful, were they?

Turn up for school in Whickham

I have just spoken to Tom Hopper, chairman of the governors of Whickham School. He is advising that despite the fire that destroyed the sixth form/staff common room block on Friday, the school is expected to be open on Tuesday. Pupils should turn up for lessons.

The main hall will be used on a temporary basis to replace the space lost in the destroyed block.

Police are continuing to investigate the cause.

Many thanks to pupils, parents and staff who have been reading the blog to keep in touch with what is happening at the school. As soon as I get more information, I'll post it up.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

My school goes up in flames

Last night, David, Richard and I went down to the Marquis of Granby, a pub a few minutes walk from Streetgate, the next village down from Sunniside where our house is. After dinner, we left the pub and at that point, noticed smoke billowing from a site somewhere in Whickham. Given that it was dark, windy and we were having to look at the fire from a considerable distance and across the expanse of Washingwell Woods, we could not make out the exact location of the fire. Yet as we got further up the bank and got to the edge of Streetgate, we were able to see the flames leaping into the air, fed by the strong winds, despite the fire being over a km away. It seemed as though it was coming from the Grange Estate.

We discovered in the Journal this morning that the fire had been at Whickham School. The details were thin on the ground so after we dropped Richard off at the station to head back to London, David and I drove over to the school. I was met by one of the governors and was shown the damage by the caretaker. We have lost an entire block which contained the staff room, sixth form common room, lecture threatre, library and a couple of classrooms. 40 computers gone and smoke damage to the music rooms though fortunately the musical instruments were saved.

My guess is that the damaged block will have to be demolished. We are not sure whether or not the school will open on Tuesday.

I was at Whickham Comprehensive when the block in question was built. So the building in question still had the feeling of being new when I was in the sixth form. It's a shock to the system to know what has happened to it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

At the reception

Wedding at 2pm in the registry office in Gateshead Civic Centre. There was almost a danger that Mother and I were going to bump into council officers on the day politics and council were banned. From Gateshead we went to Newcastle. We are now at St James, the Stadium that is home to Newcastle football team, for the evening reception. 200 photos taken and still some hours to go before it's all over. The food arrives soon. I'm starving.

But the big news is, Esther and Ian are now hitched.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Getting married in the morning

Well, tomorrow afternoon is the wedding actually. No, no, not me! My sister, Esther is tying the knot. So here is the official Wallace Family announcement: we would like to announce the marriage of Esther, daughter of David and Councillor Mary Wallace, sister of Andrew, Matthew and Councillor Jonathan Wallace to Ian, employee of a major bank based in the North East which is currently undergoing reorganisation, at Gateshead Registry Office at 1.30pm tomorrow to be followed by a jolly and knees-up at Leaves Park, Newcastle. I am on the train heading home from London now!

Wait for the exclusive Hello style photos......
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Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday morning blog: gone with the wind

Tickets on the 7.20am train from Newcastle to Kings Cross are like gold dust and have to be bought weeks in advance. So, there I was, feeling rather pleased to have a ticket for this train. It was worth having to get up that bit earlier for it. And then I arrive at the station. Train cancelled due to "technical difficulties." Oh great. Thanks a bunch. So I have half an hour to wait and there will be an almighty war for the few non reserved seats left on the 7.40.

So here I am, sitting on platform 4 at Newcastle Central Station. I am sitting on an aluminium seat. It has been rather chilly overnight so I got a shock to the system when my rear end first made contact with the metal!

Talking of weather conditions, we were hit by the gales last week. We have a small, portable greenhouse which we use for propagating seeds before planting them out. It had a bad time in the gales so a load of caulies, gherkins and other seeds have gone with the wind. David planted a load more over the weekend. I didn't get down to the allotment myself. I did however deliver Focus leaflets and surveys in some of our target wards and did photos in one of our held wards. So it wasn't the case that the whole weekend was blown.

Update on train situation: the next train, a minute ago, was announced as being late by 7 minutes. Now, it is announced as being on time. Don't hold your breath.....
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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Rubbing my hands with glee as I read of another attack on me by a Labour MP

I blogged a few weeks ago about how David Clelland, Labour MP for Tyne Bridge, was an avid reader of my blog but had shot himself in the foot by using his taxpayer funded website to reply to my posts and attack me (with the result that he had to abandon claims to the public purse to pay for his website so that he could continue to attack yours truly).

Little David is clearly wanting to get his money’s worth from his website now that his constituents aren’t footing the bill for his internet musings. Yes, Mr Clelland has launched yet another attack on me (and the Lib Dems generally), this time defending his own hypocrisy after attacking the grant settlement for Gateshead Council in Parliament minutes before voting for it.

In addition, I am accused of being the “master of cynicism” by Mr Clelland, who is himself the master of, well, absolutely nothing.

Mr Clelland claimed in his defence of his vote on the settlement, “I complained about the local government grant formula in the House of Commons but then voted for the settlement at the end of the debate.” (Thanks David, that will look good in a leaflet!)

His explanation for cravenly backing the government was “there would have been no legislation to distribute the settlement” had the government lost the vote. He has been an MP for over 22 years so, after all that time, it is reasonable to think he would understand the basics of Parliament. Perhaps I was being a bit too optimistic here! The legislation does not disappear simply because the grant settlement is not approved. All that would happen under the legislation is that the government would have to come back with a revised settlement.

Mr Clelland then went into a rambling and unrelated diatribe about the Lib Dems walking out of Parliament recently, and then made the bizarre claim that we did the same thing during the recent Gateshead Council debate on the budget. I was not at the meeting but I know that there was no walkout.

He also made the contradictory claim that we had proposed a motion at that meeting but also proposed nothing at the meeting.

Mr Clelland followed this with a few happy reminisces of his day as a Councillor in Gateshead and how he preferred having the Tories as the opposition. Well there’s no surprise he feels that way! After all, the Tories were never a serious threat to Labour in Gateshead. But the Lib Dems have hurt Labour hard, taking 18 seats from them over the year. I am in a small minority in our group, having won my seat from the Tories.

The Tories are now extinct in Gateshead but it is amusing to read of an Old Labour hack preferring the Tories to us as their opponents. That says a great deal!

Mr Clelland elsewhere on his website has attacked the Tories for claiming at their conference that Mrs Thatcher was responsible for the revival of Tyneside. That Tory claim does seem a bit far fetched so I can appreciate Mr Clelland’s mild surprise at it. It makes me wonder what Mr Clelland thought when Maggie was invited for tea at Downing Street with his beloved Mr Brown last year.

Anyway, let’s round this blog off with a positive about Mr Clelland. They don’t come along very often so let’s shout about them from the rooftops, or at least from our desktops. Mr Clelland used PMQs recently to raise concerns about the behaviour of Network Rail over the company’s ownership of land in Gateshead that is needed for development. Such an improvement to hear a question from a Labour backbencher in PMQs that is not a well rehearsed plant.

And we can add this example of good practice to the only other example of Mr Clelland’s usefulness that springs to my mind. A year ago he beat Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Gateshead East and Washington West, for the nomination for the new Gateshead Constituency. The result is that whatever the outcome of the election in Gateshead, the borough is guaranteed to be free of Mrs H! And on that ground alone, David Clelland deserves a pat on the back!

Anyway, if anyone is in anyway inclined to read the deep, intellectual thoughts on David Clelland on Jonathan Wallace, you can get them here.

Next blog, from the train on Monday morning, which I have to get at 7.20am. Oh joy. I'm off to bed now.....

Friday, March 14, 2008

At last I am heading home

Having been away from home for nearly two weeks, I am now pleased to be heading north. Whilst I do enjoy conferences, they do take me away from home for too long. Returning home from Liverpool for just one evening last week, only to go back down to London the next morning, did not justify the use of the time. So I headed back to London after conference.

National Express appears to be working properly tonight. Trains are not packed to bursting point and they have even got the right seat reservation for me. The buffet trolley is working and indeed is approaching now. I could do with a cuppa! (I have now given up milk permanently in my tea. Someone gave me tea a few days ago with milk. I drank it anyway. I decided it tastes better without!)

The weekend will involve a mixture of delivering Focuses, tending the allotment, speaking to constituents, getting my hair cut, carrying out a survey, buying new shoes and sleeping. I also have some blog posts to write about the latest antics of the Labour MPs of Tyneside but they may have to wait a few days. (People did tell me at conference that they rather enjoy reading the latest episode of the absurd behaviour, claims and actions of the Anderson-Hodgon-Clelland comedy trio.)

Anyway, sharp intake of breath - I have just paid £2.95 for a tea and a small box of mixed nuts! I'm surprised that Labour MP for Gateshead East, Sharon Hodgson, hasn't proposed a Commons Early Day Motion demanding cheap crisps and cola on trains, just as she is in cinemas. Seems like the sort of idea she would waste everyone's time with.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Photos from Liverpool

These are some of the 1200 photos I took over the weekend at Liverpool. Fortunately I have extracted only a handful for the blog!

  • Lynne Featherstone starring in the new Lib Dem L'Oreal advert - because she's worth it!
  • Inside the new conference centre

  • What is Chris Huhne eating?

  • A bunch of members from the North East make merry in the glee club

  • two views of the outside of the new conference centre

  • Nick Clegg after his speech at the end of conference

  • Vince Cable doing his stand up comedy star turn

  • Nick Clegg speaking at the rally

  • Sarah Teather introducing the speakers at the rally

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

More exclusive photos - this time from Downing Street

A week couldn't go by without some exclusive photos from yours truely. I headed off to Downing St today to do the photos for the handing in of the Lib Dem petition against post office closures. We had to go through all sorts of security checks last week to be on the list of those allowed in. Anyway, here are the pics, complete with Sarah Teather, Brian Paddick, Colin Eldridge (from Liverpool) and a variety of Lib Dem MPs and campaigners.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Monday morning train blog

I was rather surprised by the number of people at conference who told me they read my blog and one of the more popular posts is the one I do from the train on Monday mornings on the way to London. As I came down to London yesterday, straight from Liverpool conference, this post is being written as I wait for the delayed train to Victoria - which I can now see approaching!

Temporary interruption whilst I get on train.....

I have to confess that I followed very few of the debates at conference. Instead, I had to cover about 10 events on Saturday for camera duty. Sunday morning saw me hidden away in our office as I uploaded over 1000 photos to my laptop. I was however, in the hall for Nick's speech - there were actually 4 of us (me, Alex, Dave and Jayne) doing the photos so if we aint got anything usable between us, then something has gone badly wrong! One of the jobs I have to do today is to sort all the photos and get them into circulation!

And now news from the home front: Freda, our 19 year old cat, has returned from a visit to the vet and is reported to be in fine health; our seed potatos have arrived; the base for our greenhouse arrives on Tuesday. Well, it doesn't get more exciting than that!

Meanwhile, there is predicted to be a jam famine in Cowley St during this week. As I haven't been home, the Cowley St fridge can't be restocked. Tough....

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Elbows at the ready

Having just done the photos at the Nick Clegg speech, I now find myself in similar physical circumstances. In other words, I am on the train heading out of Liverpool. Doing leader's speech photos requires camera and elbows. Getting on the train and claiming one's seat simply requires elbows. The problem is, the person next to me is all elbows and laptop. On a crowded train, this person is typing away, elbows pointing out, virtually pushing me off my seat. And this guy is double the width he needs to be as he is wearing a heavily padded coat. It is already a hot train.

Anyway, he has not yet taken the physical hint of having his elbow jabbed back at him. I may have words, polite of course. There may be trouble ahead......

And as I write that, Mr Padded Coat has just put his laptop away. I will blog if he suffers from heat exhaustion before the end of the journey.

Talking of Nick Clegg photos as I was earlier, I did a photo op with key seat candidates and Nick yesterday. There is a nack to doing photo ops and getting everyone through on time. Basically, it involves my shouting, instructing, pushing and cajoling. Nick's comment about me whilst I was busy moving candidates around was definitely meant as a compliment......I think!

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Lots of Virgin bodies

I am on the train now, heading to Liverpool for the March Lib Dem jamboree. I'm really looking forward to the late nights, the fatty full cooked hotel breakfasts, the crush to get served at the bar and the delights of the sing-song Saturday night in the glee club.

The train we are on is courtesy of Virgin. Travelling to conference is one of those unmissable delights. Packed in, all those heaving Virgin bodies filling every nook and cranny of the carriage. To get to the buffet car, you have to endure a human obstacle course. I eventually made it and made the return to my seat as well.

Having just munched through a pack of Walkers cheese and onion crisps, I discovered a note on the back of the pack. It tells me it created 106g of carbon to produce a mere 50g of crisps. I think I am going to add crisps to the list of things not to eat! Fortunately I rarely eat the things anyway.

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Third of a million viewings

I checked my YouTube account just before leaving the office. My videos have now had a third of a million viewings. Next milestone - half a million. I reckon I should be there in about 5 months' time.
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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Euro-bores and mad elephants threatening Camp Cameron

The Tory Euro wild bores have largely been coralled into a small corner behind barbed wire and armed guards ever since of Cameron took over the Tory game reserve as park keeper two years ago. Back in the 90s, these Euro bores had been running free all over the reserve, wrecking everything in sight. They had to be controlled and tamed or else the whole park would die off.

But then, Head Park Keeper Cameron came up with the bright idea of opening the gates of the Euro-bore cage to let the occupants loose. The idea was that the Euro-bores would stampede into Labour and Lib Dem reservations and allow this wily park keeper to grab some extra land.

It seems as though there are a few wild bull elephants in with the Euro-bores as well. They never forget, especially if it's a tedious fact about some obscure clause of some unknow Euro regulation.

The Euro-bores and the mad bull elephant of the Tory party are now free to rampage across the Commons agenda, crashing into everything in sight. Cameron may think he is reflecting the majority view of the people that a referendum should be held, but he will rapidly lose what little interest people have by allowing the Euro-bores to make the running.

But once the Treaty has passed through Parliament, what then? The Euro-bores have been freed from captivity. They have tasted freedom and they have enjoyed it. You can see them licking their lips. They have feasted on Euro hysteria, and they will want more. Cameron may have spent two years trying to show that the Conservatives have changed and are no longer obsessed with issues like Europe. All that hard work could be lost.

Soon those mad marauding wild elephants and bores are going to come crashing through into the Cameron safari camp and wreck his carefully constructed and arranged big tent (only one previous owner).

The Euro-bores are set to trample all over Cameron. He set them free. And they will be heading his way soon. He will have to spend a lot of time trying to round them up to get them back into their cages. But they won't go willingly. Watch out for spilt blood ahead. Or watch out as he is forced to throw then more red meat.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Cowley St can eat toast

I blogged last week on the train to London about the Cowley St cake that David had made for my colleagues. Well, my generosity does know its bounds. No more cake, not today at least. Instead, I have a bag with me that is filled with homemade jams. This will be enough to keep colleagues in jam until tomorrow, and a few more days besides.

I found a lemon in the bag this morning. David put it in. This is probably a needless extra weight in my baggage as the last time I checked, lemons were on sale in London. The background however is a small lifestyle change I have made. As well as giving up meat during the week, for environmental reasons (meat production is wasteful and environmentally damaging), I am now into the second week of a new tea drinking regime: no milk. In Cowley St last week, I was having my tea neat. David added lemon over the weekend.

Later this year I will be experimenting with locally grown alternatives to tea. Nettles will be the first to suffer a massacre in pursuit of this lifestyle change! Then I'll be trying elderflower, then raspberries and other fruits. Part of our strawberry crop will be consumed in this way. I will no doubt be blogging on whether the new liquid intake habit has been a success or a disaster.

Talking of blogging, my ninth event to photograph at conference next weekend is now in my diary. The Gender Balance Taskforce has asked me to take pictures at their blog awards. A free glass of wine was offered to encourage my cooperation in this matter. I know my price! For a second glass of wine, I'll do the video as well!

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