Hold on to your hats U.K!

blogging, daily living, government, Life, people, politics, society, United Kingdom


whiteI was shocked and stunned by the result our country delivered on the E.U. referendum. The build up to the vote was not our finest hour. Frankly , we look pretty hideous at the moment . The thing is – I don’t quite believe it.  I don’t believe that the voters wanted this result – is that arrogant?  I think the whole affair has been mismanaged – in fact I was anti a referendum for this reason – we have a government to govern. That is the point of them – to argue out in a reasonable manner the pros and cons of policy.  I think the public are astute, but the populace cannot , by definition , read and inwardly digest the intricacies and complexities of economics and social policies via the media. It cannot happen. There will be a small minority who can unpick all the necessary argument and come to a judgement secure in the knowledge that they have equipped themselves with the available information from all sides and critically examined the opposing argument. The vast majority are too busy surviving, or too lazy or disinterested.

Now we are in this position the various factions are running about like headless chickens because they didn’t believe this could happen either. Big mistake.

However, what is important now is that cool heads manage the coming months. Britain will survive because there is no choice.  We may have to build some bridges , and that work will be done. Most people I meet are honest, well meaning, and committed to making life better for themselves and for their companions. What is essential is our humanity to others is not compromised. None of us live in a vacuumn and if compassion is at the forefront of policy making as well as daily living , there will be nothing to fear. Fear is the only outcome when the politics of the far right starts to seep into our daily governance and our daily lives.

We need to recognise the danger that the far right brings , remembering the recent past atrocities that shaped our modern politics. It always appears unthreatening in the build up to taking power, and morphs into monstrous totalitarianism almost imperceptibly.

Compassion is the key. Retain it in the heart of politics and daily living and that monster has no oxygen .


Wise men and clever apes. Read all about it.

books, culture, earth, government, history, Life

History of the world Andrew Marr

“Writing a history of the world is a ridiculous thing to do.”

opening sentence of Andrew Marr's introduction.

This is worth sticking my neck out for –  read this book to improve your life.  Whoa!!!! That is a big statement, but seriously though, if you thought you had a grasp of how the world ended up here in the 21st century, you are probably missing something.   This is so readable that I think it should be proscribed reading for every youngster worldwide.  It provokes wonder and curiosity in every chapter.  If you are the person reading this who has always hated history, you won’t anymore.  History is not just about dead people.  It informs our present in ways we don’t understand until we learn why we do, think the things we do and think.  There is another reason to read this book – it is about human achievement, and it offers reason to hope that the challenges ahead of our species and planet can be met by using the lessons from history and the increase in know how.  What we cannot neglect are the lessons written therein, how power is used and abused, how communication is used and how ‘ civilization works’.  Drawing upon the stories of yesterdays , can we avoid a dystopian recurrence of another Dark Age?  Probably.

‘the better we understand how rulers lose touch with reality, or why revolutions produce dictators more often than they produce happiness, or why some parts of the world are richer than others, the easier it is to understand our own times.’

I watched the t.v series, which admittedly had it’s flaws, but overall was also fascinating, and led me to the book.  Now you can have it all, and for the price of a cup of coffee!!  We are living in amazing times and if you do one thing this month to improve your life, order this book. I’m not on commission.  Honest.  If you don’t like reading or don’t like being told what to do by a middle-aged , curious , British female you could as an alternative go the the links.  Or as well. Just saying.








Wisdom, more precious than philosophy.

government, health, history, illustration, Life, philosophy, Thoughts

Epicurean saying Anne Corr

——for tomorrow we die!

Well, perhaps not tomorrow, but some day.  That’s why I am attracted to the Epicureans, who held this thought in the forefront of their minds.  Consequently if you follow their philosophy you will live prudently, avoiding pain, and enjoying the delights this world holds, by living simply and making friends.  Friendship was a big factor in the Epicureans version of the good life. And in case you think he was just another hell raiser, consider his letter to Menoeceus, wherein he explains himself,

When we say, then, that pleasure is the end and aim, we do not mean the pleasures of the prodigal or the pleasures of sensuality, as we are understood to do by some through ignorance, prejudice, or wilful misrepresentation. By pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and of trouble in the soul. It is not an unbroken succession of drinking-bouts and of revelry, not sexual lust, not the enjoyment of the fish and other delicacies of a luxurious table, which produce a pleasant life; it is sober reasoning, searching out the grounds of every choice and avoidance, and banishing those beliefs through which the greatest tumults take possession of the soul. Of all this the beginning and the greatest good is wisdom. Therefore wisdom is a more precious thing even than philosophy ; from it spring all the other virtues, for it teaches that we cannot live pleasantly without living wisely, honourably  and justly; nor live wisely, honourably  and justly without living pleasantly. For the virtues have grown into one with a pleasant life, and a pleasant life is inseparable from them.

Was Nietszche attracted then to the intellect of the pre Socratic philosophy of Epicureanism?  I shall have to discover.  Whether he was or not, he did write the following, which seems to follow the path of thought that what you see is all there is.

Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing. That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of “world history,” but nevertheless, it was only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star cooled and congealed, and the clever beasts had to die. One might invent such a fable, and yet he still would not have adequately illustrated how miserable, how shadowy and transient, how aimless and arbitrary the human intellect looks within nature. There were eternities during which it did not exist. And when it is all over with the human intellect, nothing will have happened.

On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense (1873)

Hope your week holds plenty of worldly pleasure and little pain.  If you follow this guys recommendations it’s more likely to happen.  O.K. so he lived a long time ago ( around 300 B.C.), but truth will out. Here some of things Epicurus of Samos told us:

No pleasure is a bad thing in itself, but the things which produce certain pleasures entail disturbances many times greater than the pleasures themselves.

The just man is most free from disturbance, while the unjust is full of the utmost disturbance.

Of all the means which wisdom acquires to ensure happiness throughout the whole of life, by far the most important is friendship.

Natural justice is a pledge of reciprocal benefit, to prevent one man from harming or being harmed by another.

There never was such a thing as absolute justice, but only agreements made in mutual dealings among men in whatever places at various times providing against the infliction or suffering of harm.

Not a bad guy then.



Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar man,Thief….

culture, government, Life


 It turns out the Rich man is the biggest Thief of all, and it appears that none of us cares!!! Been to the Cayman Islands recently? It is a melting pot for trillions, yes, trillions of tax that has been filtered away from the economies of countries throughout the world, and hoarded by very, very rich savers.

 “Civil society groups, economists, journalists, and ordinary people need to rouse themselves and make this one of the great political struggles of this young century.” from Taxjustice.net


At some point . . . such conduct passes from clever accounting and lawyering, to theft from the people.

US Internal Revenue Service,

Somebody robs your house, takes your life-savings , you would be mad wouldn’t you? It’s happening to whole countries by individuals now, and it’s happening to us all by clever people hiding behind a nasty myth called ‘tax avoidance’ on a scale undreamt of. Go back a couple of centuries to the French aristocracy, on a personal level they were (probably) lovely people, but when the starvation could be borne no more, the injustice of their wealth drove a country to up end its cultural and legal precedents. What makes anyone think it won’t happen again?

James Henry, former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens shows that at least £13trillion – perhaps up to £20tn – has leaked out of scores of countries into secretive jurisdictions such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands with the help of private banks, which vie to attract the assets of so-called high net-worth individuals. Their wealth is, as Henry puts it, “protected by a highly paid, industrious bevy of professional enablers in the private banking, legal, accounting and investment industries taking advantage of the increasingly borderless, frictionless global economy“. According to Henry’s research, the top 10 private banks, which include UBS and Credit Suisse in Switzerland, as well as the US investment bank Goldman Sachs, managed more than £4tn in 2010, a sharp rise from £1.5tn five years earlier.( taken from http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jul/21/global-elite-tax-offshore-economy)

“The very existence of the global offshore industry, and the tax-free status of the enormous sums invested by their wealthy clients, is predicated on secrecy,”  Henry.

Governments need to act on making that secrecy illegal. If you are in the UK. get your M.P. to object in Parliament. For a start you could do worse than go over to http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2012/07/03/banking/ and add your name to the petition , M.P’s are voting Thursday on supporting an independant inquiry on banking practices.

 For clarity on money matters, I suggest further reading here; http://www.positivemoney.org.uk/about/

 For excellent research on tax matters and why it matters, I suggest further reading here


For UK readers, a politically unbiased group of campaigners are making our voices heard, check out their campaigns including the banking industries one, http://www.38degrees.org.uk/

NHS lobby letter to your MP

government, health, Life, United Kingdom

Hi there,

The Lords failed to defer the Health and Social Care Bill. I don’t think this has anything to do with party politics, but I do think the government is proceeding carelessly and is making a critical mistake with everybody’s NHS. Not theirs, everybody’s NHS.  I have posted my letter to my M.P. here, in the hope that you will copy it , and send it to your M.P if they voted for the Health and Social Care Bill. If you go the this link, you can easily find a format for sending your letter to your own MP. You can find out if your M P  did vote for the bill to go through.  Please use my wording if it saves you time/ effort.





I am dismayed that the Lords allowed the Health and Social care bill to get through.The professional body itself raises its head above the parapet and says ‘However, we still believe that the government’s reform plans pose an unacceptably high risk to the NHS, threatening its ability to operate effectively and equitably, now and in the future. This is why the BMA continues to call for the Bill to be withdrawn or, at the very least, to be subject to further, significant amendment.’ – Dr Hamish Meldrum of the BMA. I quote Ben Goldacre here : ‘In case you don’t understand NHS bill: GPs know they’re being set up to fail by being given commissioning powers. Those are specialist skills. ■After GPs fail, private commissioning expertise will be needed: large private corps, which will come to operate like health insurers. ■These large bodies, like public/private insurance co’s, will be able to pick & choose patients. Note no geographical responsibility in bill ■Small differences will emerge in what services they offer. Top up plans will become available. And that will be that. ■It is so very obvious that GPs are being set up to fail at the specialist task of health service planning that it’s clearly not an accident” You are not taking into consideratin the opinions of valued menbers of the professional bodies. How can you expect us, the voters, to place our trust in a government so blind and deaf to those experts? Why do the government continue to refuse the release of the Transitional Risk Register for the Bill, despite being ordered by the Information Officer and an appeal tribunal? MPs voting now are passing judgement without knowing the risks the government expects this legislation to have for the NHS. This will have the same result as the poll tax had for the Thatcher government. Your party will be unelectable after proceeding with this bill. I urge you to reconsider and hope the Commons defer the bill pending further analysis.






Clear as a Bell, 1776

government, history, Life

Thomas Paine said these words over two hundred years ago, but they could be from todays’ papers. I can’t help thinking the man was a bit of a guru.  Perhaps we need to reconsider how we think about ourselves, how we want to live in a progressive society.  This man died friendless, but committed to his values that today seem unremarkable in a liberal democracy. Then they were frighteningly anarchic to the establishment. He was  expelled from England because of the demands on government that his politics suggested. These were ideas far too explosive at the time.  Everywhere was in ferment, France was on the edge of revolution, England threatening similar unrest. Sound familiar?  The whole western world tipping on its axis.  Where will it go? The messages Thomas Paine believed in were clear, simple and had their foundations in a moral position that attempted to become the best that we can be. He believed in removing the differences between men, and exposing their similarities, in the hope that they resorted to reason and a moral endeavour to aspire to making life as comfortable, as eased for one another as possible. There is a profound understanding that we are equals, and deserve equal treatment in government .

“My country is the world and my religion is to do good.”

He was a freethinker, and a political activist moving from Europe, (Britain and France) and America during a period in history of upheaval and unrest, that resulted in the foundations of a more democratic form of government allowing the people to have some leverage. Born into a family where the father was a Quaker, Thomas matured into someone who valued individual liberty, regardless of circumstance. Anti-slavery and opposed to Christianity , he attracted criticism from many, and was considered wrongly to be an Atheiest. He was a Deist, believing in one God and one God only, seeing in Nature that there existed a set of natural laws in which Paine felt it was the moral duty of man to imitate what he recognised as the beneficience of God manifested in Man and Nature’s laws.

Paine never established a political society or organization and was not responsible for a single reforming measure. His achievements were his writings so it is difficult to accurately assess his influence. Paine’s political influence was greatest in England. In intellectual terms, his Rights of Man was his greatest political work and was certainly the best-selling radical political tract in late 18th century England, in which he maintained that each age had the right to establish a political system which satisfied its needs.

His most influential work was the Rights of Man (Part I in 1791, Part II in 1792). In Part I, Paine urged political rights for all men because of their natural equality in the sight of God. All forms of hereditary government, including the British constitution, were condemned because they were based on farce or force. Only a democratic republic could be trusted to protect the equal political rights of all men. Part II was even more radical for Paine argued for a whole program of social legislation to deal with the shocking condition of the poor.The work was an analysis of the roots of the discontent in Europe, which he laid in arbitrary government, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and war. His popularity sounded the alarm and he was forced to leave Britain in September 1792 and his book was banned.He was condemned in his absence and declared an outlaw.

On January 10, 1776 Paine formulated his ideas on american independence in his pamphlet Common Sense.

In his Common Sense, Paine states that sooner or later independence from England must inevitably arrive, because America had lost touch with the mother country. In his words, all the arguments for separation of England are based on nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments and common sense. Government was a necessary evil that could only become safe when it was representative and altered by frequent elections. The function of government in society ought to be only regulating and therefore as simple as possible. Not suprisingly, but nevertheless remarkable was his call for a declaration of independence. Paine’s influence on the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776 is apparent by the number of sales of his pamphlet, a weighty 500.000.

The sadness of his death attracting only six mourners to his funeral is a poor reflection of his worth as  a human being, never mind as a thinker who continues to impress with wisdom and persipacity.


Just Say No! But say it now. Say it loud.

government, health, Life, United Kingdom

My thanks go to Ben Goldacre, highly respected science journalist, if you want to know more about his credentials, he writes for the Guardian, and has a blog here http://www.badscience.net/about-dr-ben-goldacre/

He has identified quackery for what it is, and continues to risk dismemberment by raising his head above the parapet.  Anyway, I trust him much more than I trust alot of journalism.  He does the work in researching his subjects, and then makes pithy conclusions.  In this case, I had concluded the same, but he says it better than me.Follow this:

‘In case u  don’t understand NHS bill: GPs know they’re being set up  to fail by  being given commissioning powers. Those are specialist  skills.

  • After   GPs fail, private commissioning expertise will be needed:  large private   corps, which will come to operate like health insurers.
  • These  large bodies, like public/private insurance co’s, will be  able to pick  & choose patients. Note no geographical responsibility  in bill
  • Small differences will emerge in what services they offer. Top up plans will become available. And that, kids, will be that.
  • It is so  very obvious that GPs are being set up to fail at the  specialist task  of health service planning that it’s clearly not an  accident
  • Those  last 5 tweets are what will obviously, predictably, happen to  the NHS  after this bill. If you missed them, they were a bit  important.’


And that is why he is suggesting anyone interested in trying to save the National Health Service from these catastrophic predictions should sign one of the many petitions out there, or get involved in the sterling work to counter the plans. You could go here;


or here:  http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22670


First among equals

Art, government, history, United Kingdom

Here we have the head of Augustus Roman Leader, (around 27 B C -A D 14 ) and First Emperor; he defeated Anthony, and other rivals for power, becoming the undisputed master of Rome, and its territories. This bronze represents a shift, to remove himself from battle stance politics, to a more reflective leadership. He was trying to bring back a moral outlook, and individual responsibility, to a society that was confused. He could be likened to David Cameron, wanting us to get ‘back to basics’. This statue shows an image of the leader who wants to be seen as a role model of a new order. The head is that of a young man, strong featured, and good looking, with a piercing gaze and a slightly furrowed expression. This is his idea of being first among equals. It is a political idea that resonates with our current leadership, where we are encouraged to believe ‘ we are all in this together’. Of course we are. Like Cameron, Augustus was careful to collaborate, (or appear to!), in order to maintain a position of power. It took him over two decades before he achieved official assumption of supreme power. Augustus will have been totally in charge of this image, in the same way P.R men measure all that is put into the current arena, the statue will have been made a little bigger than the man. It is an image that will have been portrayed everywhere, standing in for the man in outlying provinces , to administer justice.
Many bronzes of antiquity were melted down for the bronze, so the fact that this one survived is amazing. It was found in Sudan and had been part of a statue put up in Egypt, during the period Augustus ruled territories there. Later the head was removed by the Kushites, as an act of enmity, to disempower the idea of Augustus. The head was buried underneath the place where they worshipped, in order that they literally trampled on it. Perhaps the political leaders of today would do well to look back , as well as forward.
If you want to see the head, in all of its glory, it is in the British Museum http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/gr/b/head_of_augustus.aspx

For ALL our sake.

government, Life, United Kingdom


I was dismayed that the Lords allowed the Health and Social care bill to get through. 
When the professional body itself raises its head above the parapet and says

‘However, we still believe that the government’s reform plans pose an unacceptably high risk to the NHS, threatening its ability to operate effectively and 

equitably, now and in the future. This is why the BMA continues to call for the Bill to be withdrawn or, at the very least, to be subject to further, 

significant amendment.’ - Dr Hamish Meldrum of the BMA.,

I think it is arrogant that our government refuses to listen.  
The public are dependent now, on the Lords scrutinising Lord Owens and Lord Hennessys amendment.
The proposed NHS reforms were not featured in either coalition party manifesto, nor has the bulk of part 3 of the Bill received any scrutiny in the 
Commons. The House of Lords therefore does not just has a right, but a duty, to ensure that this part of the Bill is properly examined, and a select 
committee that can call witnesses is the right way to do this.
Something simple that we can all do is use the link to find out the name of a peer, and either write a letter or email, and show how important the amendment is. 

This is beyond party politics, it is our legacy to our children, and our protection for ourselves.