Castle Howard image via Mike Kiping
The prospect of yet another half term holiday has, until fairly recently, provoked little more than dreadful resignation. After years of forcing unwilling children into art galleries, museums, willow weaving workshops, face painting and truly awful organised “creative play experiences”, the endeavour to inform and equip young minds has always been an uphill struggle in a non-school setting.
Amazingly, even after inflicting the horrors of camping or enduring nights in freezing, derelict farm outbuildings described in the brochure as “luxurious holiday rental cottages”, the children do not seem to harbour any malignant hatred toward us. Even more astonishing is that after dragging them across barren fells in horizontal rain, so far at least, they have not attempted to kill me. Of late, though, things have changed; they have become older and frighteningly independent. (more…)
There are elements of Europe`s small but supremely powerful ruling elite that are of the opinion that by electing Syriza, the people of Greece have gone stark, raving bonkers. Universally described as “far-left” or “radical far-left”, the leader of Syriza has been given a new first name by almost all European media. Prior to being elected Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras was known as “Alexis Tsipras” but now in the spotlight of media ubiquity he is known by his new, full name; “Ex-Communist Alexis Tsipras”.
The Greeks are obviously flirting with this crazy fad called Democracy that is certain to result in tears before bedtime. After all, it was the Greeks who cooked up all this nonsense about representing the will of the citizenry and the preposterous notion that the populous should have a say in how a nation is run. (more…)
Globalization, for all its efficacious benefits, has resulted in some odd consequences. Once we realise that a reduction in the milk chocolate content in a Cadbury Cream Egg is nothing more than a marketing ploy to flog Easter confections in January, we can understand that global economics is not a plot but is merely market driven.
Consider the latest marketing ploy regarding Newcastle Brown Ale. The pride of the Tyne and Student Union favourite; this fine ale once slaked the thirsts of coal miners, shipwrights and engineers. Sadly, ships are now built in Taiwan and coal is carried to Newcastle all the way from China. However, unlike the Silk Road or the Slave Trade, it`s not all one way traffic. (more…)
I`m not as drink as thinkle peep I am.
There is more to Ed Balls than an inherently funny name and there is much to criticise beyond him forgetting some bloke`s name on a late-night TV interview after a long day and a few glasses of Pinot Gris. Conflating a lapse of memory as evidence of a dastardly political plot to undermine capitalism is on a par with accusing David Cameron of child neglect because he forgot to take his daughter home from the pub after a photo opportunity.
It is absurd to score childish points over simple human mistakes when real failings are being ignored. Cameron is proving to be the most disastrous Prime Minister in history and Balls has only been spared the ignominy of being remembered as the worst Education Secretary ever by having the good fortune to be succeeded by the very strange Michael Gove. Balls current opposite number, almost certainly a half-wit, remains unchallenged on his blatant lies and his unfortunate habit of turning up at the House of Commons apparently off his face on what might, or might not, be a major contributor to the gross national product of both Peru and Colombia. Still, at least George Osborne can remember the names of Tory donors by adding “Sir” or “Lord”. (more…)
There are some people of a cynical disposition that suggest it is futile to make noble behavioural resolutions at the beginning of a new year. Their pragmatic logic suggests that it is pointless to make promises to yourself when fully aware that you have no intention or, indeed, the capability to keep them.
When pressed by the children during previous Hogmanay booze-ups, I have declined to offer any rash and ultimately hollow resolutions to pay their university tuition fees or to ensure that they receive treatment from a doctor or hospital when they fall ill or to reduce the family debt, deficit and borrowing. This year, however, a new addition to the household has made me reconsider the whole notion of New Year Resolutions. (more…)