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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Raise Your Voice

When I was young I had a big voice.
It was great, he went everywhere with me;
we had loads of fun together.

But as I got bigger, people told me my voice was too loud
I spent less time with him
he got lonely and sad, I watched him get smaller and smaller
I wanted to see him, but I was told to keep quiet, to stop making a fuss
And because I didn't look after him, he went away.

So later, when I wanted a voice, when I really needed one, he wasn't there.
Some people never have a voice, some people have their voice taken away from them

You have to look after your voice, nurture it, care for it, raise it right
so that when you need it, or other people need it, it's there for you

Otherwise you might not notice when it's gone

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Memory Foam

Paler patches where pictures used to hang,
compacted carpet, footprints slowly fade.
Silence fills the rooms where once she'd sang
and weeds reclaim the grass on which kids played.

The mattress on the bed is memory foam
- he hopes that it will still retain her form;
but bricks and wood no longer make a home
- this house will never get to be so warm.

So here he is, he's lying on his side
with arms outstretched across the empty space
- he never thought the bed could feel so wide
without the promise of her love's embrace.

With life so short, our time ticks by so fast
- how long can our impressions truly last

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Fresh Prince of Healthcare

To the tune of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air


Now this is a story all about how​​​​
Healthcare got flip-turned upside down​​​
And I’d like to take a minute​​​​
Just sit right there​​​​​
I’ll tell you just how it's unsafe and it's unfair​​

In Westminster village they were amazed​​​
That a tax on sick people had not yet been raised​​
They thought that they could solve this problem themselves​​
With the Health n’ Social Care Act 2012​​​

Cameron and Lansley were up to no good​​
Started making trouble in our neighbourhood
“Competition is great” they get repeatin' 
But the health service took one hell of a beatin' 

We begged and pleaded with them day after day
But top-down change was well underway​​
If service turned profit, private firms would pick it​​
And if we complained, well, they told us to stick it​​

First class yo, this is bad​​
But they shout “It’s the most funding you’ve ever had”
While cutting frontline service, selling off underhand​​
With “sustainability n’ transformation plans” ​​

You think healthcare will stay free at the point of use
While the Tories keep tightening up the noose?
I don’t think so
It’s terminal decline
With Virgin Care using the NHS sign

Is it broken already? There’s no way of knowin' 
When they sack anyone who is caught whistleblowin'
The problem with censorship is
*beep* *beep* *beeep beeep* *redacted*
*beeeeeeeeeeeep* *beeeeeeeeeeeep*

So what can we do? Is it now too late?
Will we still be able to put things straight?
Well one things for sure
We can't keep it afloat
Unless we all say enough and go out and vote


Thursday, 11 May 2017



So, we heard today that the Crown Prosecution Service won't pursue cases against Conservative MPs accused of electoral fraud. The "accounting errors" were made by Tory HQ not individual candidates or their election agents. It's the electoral fraud equivalent of letting off two shoplifters who claimed they both thought the other one paid. 

There's a fair amount of anger about it, but I think getting them on this would be like when they got Al Capone on Tax Evasion charges. I'd argue the dishonesty of these "accounting errors" pale into insignificance compared to the dishonesty of their campaign in general. Is claiming election funding was national as opposed to local as serious as any of their other false claims?

Claiming to represent working Britain when only the rich are getting richer (1,2) 

Claiming to represent the interests of the UK while incompetently wrecking them for short term political gain (3)

Claiming to be stable, but effectively saying while politicians can change their minds, voters can't (May was Remain, previously ruled out election)

Claiming to be strong but avoiding debate during an election they themselves called, not allowing proper scrutiny of their policies.

Claiming to be strong but not standing up to big business (4)

Claiming to be the party of the NHS but deliberately choosing to underfund and understaff it (5)

Claiming to be the party of job creation, whilst doing nothing about reducing job security, zero hours contracts and fake self-employment (6)

Claiming to be "Compassionate Conservatives" whilst sanctioning the disabled, demonising benefits claimants and introducing the "rape clause" (7)

Claiming they can be trusted to run the country at a time when the Red Cross declared an Humanitarian crisis in the NHS (8) and the UN declared Tory austerity policies to be in breach of human rights obligations (9)

Claiming to support children but eliminating targets to reduce child poverty (10) and scrapping plans to allow refuge to unaccompanied children fleeing war zones (11)

So, yeah, they've not been prosecuted. But they're not innocent. Not on this, or any of the counts above. But voters can weigh up the evidence and deliver the verdict in June.


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Growing Up

Ears flapping in the breeze;
tongue out, tasting the fresh air rushing through the window crack.
The excitement of the journey.

Don’t tell him we’re going to the vets;
let him enjoy the pure thrill of just going.
Until the reality of the destination dawns.

Just like growing up.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017


Life is a series of choices. Big ones, little ones, clear-cut ones, difficult ones, ones that creep up on you without you realizing you’re making them. We’re all constrained by a finite amount of time, money and energy, and what we choose to do with them reflects our priorities. Should I apply for that job? Should I move? Should we have kids? Should I go for a run? Should I sit on the sofa with a double pack of Jaffa cakes watching Aircrash Investigation? Who should I vote for?

We choose our representatives in parliament, and government makes choices on our behalf. With the finite amount of money and time they have, governments’ funding and policies have to reflect their priorities. Do you, for example, prioritise a multi-billion pound nuclear missile system designed to vaporize hundreds of thousands of people in nanoseconds, or do you prioritise something less useful, shiny or tangible… say health and social care?

If you lead a party, you need to convince the electorate that your priorities reflect theirs. But what if they don’t? Well you still need to be elected don’t you? Just blur a few lines, muddy a few waters, shift a few blames. Government talks of compassion but the words don’t match the action. It jars, like if Joe Pasquale was asked to narrate a documentary about the Hindenburg disaster.

2016 was a dumpster-fire of a year. We were encouraged to clamber over each other to escape from it, whilst turning round to blame the charred corpses for getting in the way. The “anti-establishment” triumphed over the “metropolitan elites”. Finally. Thank goodness. And whether your preferred anti-establishment candidate was a multi-billion dollar property tycoon who spent his entire life milking the establishment, or a privately-educated tax-avoiding ex-commodities broker who is currently losing his shit about not getting a knighthood from the establishment, at least now is the time to bask in their victory. They’ve taken back control. I just wished they looked happy about it rather than flailing about with a mixture of confusion, anger and panic, like a dog handed the controls of the Space Shuttle and asked to complete re-entry.    

So how do you project a unifying message, a message of hope in troubling times? You don’t. You just blame the situation on someone else. Remember when those nurses, firemen, teachers and policemen crashed the entire global financial system? What were they thinking? Thanks a lot guys. Sheesh. Now we’re going to have to “live within our means”.

I say we, but it’s only fair some people are excused. We don’t want to go too overboard. Better give MPs a pay rise, they’re going to have to work hard to sort out our mess. And bankers too, let’s not forget them. Better start increasing their bonuses again, we want to attract the top talent over here. And if worst comes to worst at least we can blame immigrants or refugees, because nothing shows you live in an inclusive, caring society like focusing on exactly which part of our tiny orbiting projectile vulnerable and desperate people were born on.

The crash was a great excuse for austerity, which was a great excuse to cut public services. And when the deficit went up, they didn’t change course: cut further, cut deeper. Like a malaria-riddled Victorian missionary struggling through dense jungle, just machete the holy fuck out of everything. We’re on a mission. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. We hear the mantra “we need a strong economy first to fund services”. I can see that. It’s not like having a healthy, happy, educated, safe and secure population ever helped anyone is it? Maybe think of it the other way round.

After the crash we thought there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. Just keep our heads down, work hard, and it’ll all get better eventually. But it didn’t. Then things turned to Brex-shit. *Sighs* It’s like the end of the Shawshank Redemption, you’re Andy Dufresne, crawling through that sewer pipe towards a life of freedom. But when you get to the end of the pipe, you realise there’s another, and another, and another, until you can’t remember what it’s like to not be crawling on your hands and knees, surrounded by fetid stench, yearning for a different life. But by then it’s too late. You’re institutionalised. One of the pipe-people. Make the most of it. Raise a pipe-family. Little Billie and Rowdy Roddy. The Pipers

But how do you convince people that cutting services is the right thing to do? After all, these are national institutions that people are rightly proud of. Well, you don’t. You just “control the narrative”. Be creative. Use the right language. Say things like ”Overspend” rather than Underfund, Efficiency savings” rather than Crippling cuts, “Sustainability” rather than “Privatisation” and Ringfencing” instead of Failure to keep up with an entirely predictable increase in demand.

Ringfencing or protection of budgets is a great one, as all it relies on is convincing people that things don’t change over time. I could have “ringfenced” my pocket money back in the 80s, but although at the time that was sufficient to fund my ‘sitting around watching He-man and drinking Um-Bongo’ lifestyle, demands on my finances have increased and it would no longer fund the ‘crippling mortgage, wife, three kids and despair at humanity’ lifestyle I lead today.

If that doesn’t work, just remember to use really really big numbers. Like properly huge ones. It’s less obvious if one number is substantially smaller than another if it still seems pretty big. If you feel it isn’t big enough, make it seem much bigger by combining a number of years together, and if you can, compare it to a much smallerr number, ideally from the mid 18th century when you could buy a house for a tenner. If all else fails, just keep repeating a number and repeating it and repeating it, with the absolute confidence of a cult member. Say for example “An extra 10 billion pounds for the health service”. Don’t worry that it’s not true, that it’s been disproved by countless people including fellow government ministers, that you’ve stretched the time over which it’s given and that in order for it to be given you’re asking for over double that amount in cuts. In the end it sounds like a really really big number. Whoah - check out Billy Big Budget over there. Thanks mate, we’ve never had it so good. Because the trick is not just convincing people the real news is fake, it’s also convincing people your fake news is real.

And here’s the problem. To make proper choices you need to have an honest debate and weigh up the evidence. And we’re not getting that debate. Our priorities and choices may be different but at least let’s talk about it properly. Don’t let them sell us their image of a society when they do everything they can to avoid paying their fair share towards it. Don’t let them tell us something’s unaffordable or unsustainable, just because they think the 1% deserve a tax cut instead.

Keep a close eye on their choices. They’ll show you what their priorities really are.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

One Country

We planted the flag, but it didn’t grow

Oh no! Let’s find something different to sow

We’ll pull up the drawbridge, we’ll turn off the lights

We’ll round them all up and we’ll read them their rights

We’ll build a huge wall, and we’ll get them to pay

(But if they say no, we’ll push on anyway)

We’ll strengthen the army, campaigns will be planned

(For ease we’ll find foes that are closer to hand)

And when that’s all done, we all should unite

One country, together, to fight the good fight