Monthly Archives: October 2012

Guest Blogger

Today’s guest blogger is Sian Lewis who tells of her frustrations when trying to renew her house insurance – I’m sure many of you will identify with these!   Please read her thoughts here at: https://tessaheywood.com/guest-bloggers/

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Have some respect for your arteries!

First we had the deep fried Mars Bar, reportedly  invented in 1995 in the Haven Chip Bar (now the Carron), in Stonehaven near Aberdeen.  Originally a novelty item it has now become synonymous with Scotland’s notoriously unhealthy diet.   After an item on the Channel4 programme, the Big Breakfast, chip shops around the country started putting it on their menus.  One phone call to a local paper and in the space of just a few days a bit of fun between a chip shop owner and some local children in a Scottish fishing town, the dish was transformed into a global cultural and gastronomic phenomenon. The product is “not authorised or endorsed” by Mars Inc.

But like all phenomenons, there is always someone who wants to take the theme still further and today we read that an ex-pat Brit, Chris Sell from Rugby, Warwickshire, who has a  New York chip shop, has come up with this “tasty” treat to satisfy hungry Brits living in the Big Apple who love fish and chips and a traditional fry-up – a 1,200 calorie battered sandwich with a full English breakfast filling!

             

Now I don’t know about you, but the thought of anything deep fried makes me cringe!  On the rare occasions I do find myself having a fish and chip supper I always strip the fish of all the batter before eating but I do know people who love this type of fatty food – each to their own.

However, why ruin a perfectly good English breakfast by wrapping it in batter?  This type of heart attack on a plate needs to be consigned to the nearest dustbin – unless you’ve got a hangover of course when I’m sure it will hit the spot nicely!   And the next big decision you will need to make?  Will it be red or brown sauce with that?!?

Eligibility to vote

They really haven’t thought this whole referendum thing through!

Mr Salmond and his cronies in the SNP continue to tell us that Independence is what the people of Scotland want.  But let’s have a look at the population and who actually are “the people of Scotland”.

When the referendum is held in the autumn of 2014, only residents of Scotland will be eligible to vote.  As a result, almost 400,000 living north of the border but born in other parts of the UK will get to take part, while 800,000 Scots living in England, Northern Ireland and Wales will not.   Given that Scotland has a population of just five million, 800,000 is a huge number.

In protest at being disenfranchised, James Wallace, a 23-year-old Dumfries native turned London resident, has launched a petition demanding that expat Scots in other parts of the UK be allowed to participate in the referendum.  Scots ministers say this simply would not be practical.   And, indeed, it’s difficult to imagine how an electoral register of everyone who considered themselves a Scot might be drawn up.   Who, after all, is Scottish? Those born in Scotland? People with Scottish ancestry? Anyone who is partial to Haggis and the Proclaimers?

For James Mitchell, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, residency is the only logical definition of Scottishness in terms of political representation. If you want a say over Scotland’s constitutional status he believes you should move back there.  “It would be absurd to allow anyone who claimed to be Scottish a vote,” Mitchell says.

So Mr Salmond, after reducing the voting age to 16, perhaps you should now try winning the hearts and minds of those of us who live in Scotland but come from different parts of the UK and are eligible to vote if you are to stand any chance of realising your dream – you’re not achieving this at the moment sunshine!

A week is a long time in politics

I’d put money on the fact that Alex Salmond is squirming today after another horrendous week in his dream for Scottish Independence – and since it’s only Thursday I’m sure he’s got time to drop a few more clangers!

It started with the resignation of two of his backbenchers over the NATO u-turn announced last Friday and then came the “little” matter of not seeking legal advice on whether an independent Scotland would automatically become a member of the European Union.

Highland MSPs Jean Urquhart and John Finnie stood down in protest at the decision to end the SNP’s long-standing opposition to NATO.

Former police officer Finnie, who joined the SNP as a 16-year-old, insisted: “I can’t continue to belong to a party that quite rightly doesn’t wish to hold nuclear weapons on its soil but wants to join a first-strike nuclear alliance.  Although I envisage I’ll continue to share common ground with the SNP on many issues, I can’t in good conscience continue to take the party whip.”

Urquhart, who has been a supporter of independence for 25 years, said: “Nuclear disarmament and removing Trident from Scotland’s waters is a red line issue for me.  I couldn’t remain committed to a party that has committed itself to retaining membership of NATO.”

This all seemed bad enough but to then find out that the SNP Government didn’t feel it necessary to obtain legal advice over such an important matter as to whether a separate Scotland could join the European Union was laughable to say the least!

The First Minister then decided it was ok to miss a House of Lords committee inquiry yesterday into the economic consequences of Scotland breaking away from the UK.  The meeting in Edinburgh City Chambers was the first time a Lords committee has sat outside Westminster and  was attended by a host of Scot politicians, including ex-Chancellor Alistair Darling and all opposition leaders.  Mr Salmond blanked the session to attend the book launch of a local businessman’s biography at the Britannia Spice restaurant in Leith.

And today Salmond left it to Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to admit that it was “unfortunate” that the SNP had given a wrong impression over whether they had taken legal advice on an independent Scotland’s place in Europe.  Reiterating her leader’s stance that they had never confirmed whether or not they did have legal advice because they were not allowed to do so under the ministerial code, she conceded the impression had been created that ministers had already taken legal advice on the matter.

Perhaps to emphasise the fact that politics is a very smelly business, it is perhaps no coincidence that both the First and Deputy First Ministers have the names of fishes in Salmon(d) and Sturgeon ….. I rest my case!

Farewell old friend

BBC Ceefax, the world’s first teletext service, has taken its final bow as the UK’s digital switchover is completed.

Ceefax was launched on 23 September 1974 to give BBC viewers the chance to check the latest news headlines, sports scores, weather forecast or TV listings – in a pre-internet era where the only alternative was to wait for the next TV or radio bulletin to be aired.  Its premise was to give viewers free access to the same information that was coming into the BBC newsroom, as soon as the BBC’s journalists had received it.

Initially developed when BBC engineers, exploring ways to provide subtitles to enable viewers with hearing problems to enjoy BBC TV programmes, found it was possible to transmit full pages of text information in the “spare lines” transmitted on the analogue TV signal.

It was called Ceefax, simply because viewers would be able to quickly “see the facts” of any story of the day.

Its audience peaked in the 1990s when it had 20 million viewers who checked the service at least once a week. Since the launch of the National Lottery in 1994, dozens of jackpot winners have revealed that they first learned their life had been changed when they checked their numbers on Ceefax.

Anyone who grew up in the 70s, 80s, and 90s will be familiar with Ceefax but because of the wonders of technology, these teletext-type services are no longer our go-to resource for the latest news and weather.  ITV and Channel 4’s Teletext was shut off in 2009 and now those with a soft spot for the BBC’s Ceefax have been cut off, too.

Today we’ve seen Twitter users are sharing #Ceefax memories and wishing the old girl farewell. The image below is currently doing the rounds.  I’m not sure who’s behind it but it certainly gave me a smile.

The launch of the UK’s TV digital signal, and the announcement that the analogue TV signal would disappear in a staged switch-off over five years meant a slow withdrawal of Ceefax, ending with the final broadcast tonight in Northern Ireland when Olympic Gold Medallist, Mary Peters, had the dubious honour of ending the service.

Another happy memory consigned to the virtual rubbish bin after 38 years of loyal service – what will we see disappear next?

Still going strong

I come from a family that likes to celebrate landmarks – whether it be birthdays, anniversaries, or important dates, we never like to let an occasion go unnoticed!

So for this reason, and this reason only, I am delighted to let you know that the previous post, A mother’s love, was my 200th Blog Post!  I’ve been regularly updating this site since its inception in May 2011 and I have now had 10,384 hits in this 17 month period – quite an achievement!

I intend to continue writing for the forseeable future and hope that the content stays interesting to you, my valued readers.

Now, what shall I write about next?

A mother’s love

I thought that today I would share with you this heart-warming video of Members of the Amboseli Trust, an elephant welfare and conservation group, rescuing a baby elephant trapped in a water well in Kenya.  Before they could get anywhere near it they had to deal with the elephant’s anxious mother, who was pacing around nearby. They moved her away so they could help the baby.

Be sure to watch till the very end – it will melt even the hardest of hearts!

They’re metaphors Richard

We should perhaps forgive the poor naive men who think that women spend their ‘time of the month’ horse-riding along beaches, rollerblading and skydiving, and that period blood is blue, for there are, it seems, a few of them out there.

One of these is Richard Neill, a disillusioned boyfriend who light-heartedly bemoaned being mis-sold the truth about menstruation on Bodyform’s Facebook page. His witty tale of woe prompted much amusement on the social networking site, and his message has, to date, received 86,743 ‘likes’ and 3,735 comments.  This is what he wrote on 8th October:

“Hi, as a man I must ask why you have lied to us for all these years.
As a child I watched your advertisements with interest as to how at this  wonderful time of the month that the female gets to enjoy so many  things, I felt a little jealous.
I mean bike riding, rollercoasters, dancing, parachuting, why couldn’t I  get to enjoy this time of joy and ‘blue water’ and wings!! Dam my  penis!!
Then I got a girlfriend, was so happy and couldn’t wait for this joyous adventurous time of the month to happen …..you lied !!
There was no joy, no extreme sports, no blue water spilling over wings and no rocking soundtrack oh no no no.
 Instead I had to fight against every male urge I had to resist screaming wooaaahhhhh bodddyyyyyyfooorrrmmm bodyformed for youuuuuuu as my lady  changed from the loving, gentle, normal skin coloured lady to the little girl from the exorcist with added venom and extra 360 degree head spin.  Thanks for setting me up for a fall bodyform, you crafty b*gger!”

Spotting a golden PR opportunity, the company responded with this hilarious spoof video response that has to be the funniest video I’ve seen in a long time – ladies, please watch and enjoy!

Monstrosity or Work of Art? You decide!

If you’re looking for a sure-fire way to divide opinion, you could do no better than to “borrow” a Damien Hirst sculpture!  This is precisely what the seaside town of Ilfracombe, Devon has done by accepting his controversial statue, Verity, a pregnant woman wielding a sword, on loan for the next 20 years.

Verity, described by Hirst as a ‘modern allegory  of truth and justice’, carries the scales of justice and is standing on a plinth  of law books.  The naked pregnant figure holds a sword and has  part of her anatomy exposed – a baby clearly visible in the womb.  She stands at 20.25m from plinth to sword tip, is slightly taller than the Angel  of the North and weighs more than 25 tonnes.

Why Ilfracombe?  Well apparently Hirst lives in the town and also owns a restaurant there so presumably he wants it close by.  In addition he probably thought that the town already had a controversial structure in the Landmark Theatre [which is known locally as “Madonna’s Bra”, a reference to its shape], so why not have another one to really  make it a place to talk about?

Personally I quite like the smooth side of the statue but find the exposed side somewhat disturbing, but I guess that was the artist’s intention?

There are many locals who regret the decision of Ilfracombe town planners over the years to pull down Victorian buildings and to replace them with modern structures that don’t fit with the character of the town. The Landmark, which – from a distance – looks much like the cooling towers of a power station, and now this latest addition, represent this unfortunate inclination.

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The beginning of the end?

So the deed has been done and David Cameron has signed the independence vote deal, known as the “Edinburgh Agreement”.  But while all the polls say that by two to one, Scots do not believe the country would be more economically  successful on its own, making a ‘no’ vote all but certain in the autumn of 2014, I can’t help but worry that common sense will fly out of the window come 2014.


The Nationalists will jump on the bandwagon of the significance of the date – 2014  marks the 700th anniversary of The Battle of Bannockburn (the first Scottish War of Independence when Scotland scored a decisive victory over Edward and the English), and there is also the fact that the Commonwealth Games are being held in Glasgow just before the crucial vote.

Alex Salmond has got his own way on 2 counts – the date of the referendum (Cameron had wanted it to take place next year) and also on allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote.  David Cameron did however win on one key point.  Voters will be asked a single  question – whether they want in or out of the United Kingdom – despite  Mr Salmond’s desire  for a second option of increased powers for Holyrood, “devo-max”.

I find it hard to believe that any right-minded individual could believe that Scotland would be better off as an independent nation.  The economic figures speak for themselves but the SNP  also seem to have failed to understand one other crucial matter.  Mr Salmond claims an independent Scotland could  simply remain in the EU and keep Sterling. Constitutional experts and the  Westminster government say, however, that Scotland would have to reapply  to  the EU for membership and commit – like  all new EU members – to  joining the ill-fated euro.  A recipe for disaster?  I think so!

As an English person who has been living in Scotland for the past 16 years, I truly believe that most voters are too sensible to vote Yes, especially in these disastrous economic times – it would not be Scotland the Brave, but Scotland the Foolhardy!  If the disaster that is Scottish Independence does happen – I’ll be on the first flight out of here!

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