Bloody love my Eric…

Following the lovely Eric Pickles’ recent announcement regarding broadcasting and recording council meetings, Tim & I decided to be the first members of the public to do just that. A few weeks ago we recorded our first meeting and repeated the experience last week at a full council meeting at Chicksands, Shefford.  The agenda item we were most keen to broadcast was a proposal that the council should record and broadcast their own meetings – this policy would serve two purposes, it would enable the public to better connect with them and also give them some protection when/if their decisions or discussions were questioned. The vote was unanimously in favour of going ahead with the plan and so we should be able to watch future meetings online very soon.

As a Labour member, I must admit to feeling a little outnumbered in the chamber – Central Bedfordshire Council is extremely conservative in its make-up. HOWEVER, the staff and Councillors were all exceptionally welcoming and bent over backwards to provide us everything we needed for both historical, successful events.  After the meeting several Councillors came over to meet us and talk about the experience and without exception, they were very happy with how it went.

The meeting itself was a pleasure to be at, local politics is as fascinating as is national – the topics discussed included the Luton/Dunstable Busway (which has proved to be a massive success), Council Tax charges and what help (not very much) is being provided for the thousands of residents who are currently in arrears, a proposed Gypsy & Traveller site and a few other topics. At the end came questions from the “opposition” – the non-Tory Councillors. This was wonderful to watch, like a watered-down PMQs but without all the silly jibes/heckling that takes place every Wednesday in Parliament! Questions were actually answered and as a result, progress was made. John Bercow has done a great job as Speaker but there is still so much to do in this regard. One of my earliest blogposts ( Muppet MPs ) was on this subject and very little seems to have changed since.

We hope to be live-tweeting as well as broadcasting future council meetings so, if you’re as mad about politics as we are – watch this space–>> http://www.ustream.tv/channel/flitwick  (View it through IE not Chrome to get the volume, yes I know its nuts!)

Me & Bobby McGee – #Trolls V #Twitter

I rarely follow “Celebs”, I even more rarely tweet them but recently I broke my own rule and followed the Lizard Lick Towing gang. I have no idea why I enjoy watching their show so much, maybe its that I like shouting “NOOOOOO!” at the TV in a desperate attempt to stop them getting beaten up yet again? Or maybe its because Bobby Brantley is just so darn cute? Whatever you think of the show itself (often described as “Marmite” ) – you can’t help but love the people. Big Ole “Juicy” , Hard-As-Nails Amy (except when she melts like a sappy girl), Ronnie with his bleached, spiked up hair & bible chapter t-shirts, dirty-flirty Jonny (how God loves a trier!), “Craaaaazy Charlie” who is as mad as a box of frogs and of course, Built-Like-A-Shed Bobby.

Bobby was in Ireland this weekend, appearing at “Truckfest Live” so I sent him a wee tweet, not really expecting an acknowledgement – having a large following must be so difficult.  A couple of hours later I checked into the Twittesphere and was delighted to see he had favourited my tweet. Aw :)  Then I noticed he had followed me, WHOOOO!!!  I *know* its silly but I was so ridiculously pleased that the smile hasn’t left my face since. I’ve had a really stressful few months setting my new shop up and this simple gesture from a lovely man not only lifted me completely out of the doldrums but had me skipping around like a 6 year old. Whether he ever tweets me, quietly unfollows me (for getting on his nerves) or whether we will ever get to meet in “real life” (he’ll be at the Kent Truckfest in September),  I can’t predict right now. What I do know is that we live in a remarkable age where we can simply reach out our hands and touch a complete stranger on the other side of the world (or the moon for that matter) and make a difference to their lives.  

In the words of Voltaire, with great power comes great responsibility. In the same week that Twitter reached out and made me happy, it flattened a girl completely. I’m talking of course about the daughter of the late Robin Williams. Zelda, should have felt supported, with overwhelming pride for her father and taken love and comfort from Twitter following the sad loss of her father. Instead, the few (and it is only a few) vicious, despicable tweets sent to mock her in her grief were the ones that hit home & she deleted her account.  I really hope she finds her way back and learns to overcome these trolls. I have had a little experience with them myself again of late and they can affect you, as is their intention. Sometimes only by stepping away can you see them for what they are, pathetic little cowards who desperately want your attention.

DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS

Even as I typed this, a comment was left on an article about Olly Martins (Police Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire) in response to my support for him : “Hans Hartfiel” says:  “I have not read his tweets as I think Twitter is for chavs, single mothers, people without real friends, the unemployed, criminals and so-called celebrities”.

Not to let the trolls have the last word, I’ll leave you with this brilliance by Janis Joplin, recorded just a few days before she died at the age of 27 from a drug overdose. Me & Bobby Brantley McGee :)

http://youtu.be/WXV_QjenbDw

 

Dress to the left… #Lefties

Now the run-up to the 2015 general election is hotting up, I keep seeing digs on Twitter about “Lefties” so I started thinking, what exactly is a Leftie?  In the “old days” of course, a Leftie was a person who is left-handed. There is even an annual Left Handers Day on 13th August to celebrate being one of the special 10% .  On Twitter however it is used to describe/deride those who hang to the left. Politically of course.

A quick search show this particularly nasty example of how one tweeter sees “Lefties”. 

lefties

So what makes a Leftie a Leftie and why would that be a bad thing?

In my experience a Lefties are kind, generous, will fight for the vulnerable, join together to make positive changes and are an all round “good eggs”. So why are we seen by “the right” as a bad thing? Surely Lefties are exactly what David Cameron wanted for his “Big Society” push? The volunteers, selflessly giving up their spare time and very often their money to keep community organisations and charities going following government cuts to their funding? 

Why do “the right” find us so threatening and seek to undermine us at every opportunity? It seems to me that being brought up in privileged worlds where they have never had to “make-do”, scrimp, save or fight just to have an equal chance makes it simply impossible to comprehend that people really can be and are this good. 

Interesting article about the decline in Conservative party membership numbers since David Cameron came to power. Another showing that UKIP membership raised more money last year than membership of the Conservatives. 

Anyway, they are todays musings. If you would like to join us (approx) 190,000 “Lefties” and make a real difference to your community/family/the World rather than just helping yourself and your cronies – you can join the Labour Party here  :) 

YAY! Nadine Dorries is no longer a “number 2″ #TheFourStreets

***ANOTHER UPDATE, SHE’S NO LONGER A “NUMBER TWO” ***

FINALLY ONLY A WEEK AFTER THE ” BANK HOLIDAY ONLY SPECIAL OFFER PRICE OF 20p” WAS SUPPOSED TO FINISH, SHE HAS MADE IT TO THE TOP OF THE KINDLE BOOK CHARTS. YAY!!

BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND

Well done Nadine, the Head of Zeus Publishers and of course to all of you lovely readers who supported this worthy cause. What a triumph for the good people of Zeus to have their faith in a much-panned book restored. This is the cheapest Kindle book in the top ten by a mile, so – if you haven’t already spent your 20p – get in there quick, before they hike the price back up to about 50p!

 

** UPDATE SUNDAY 4TH @ 13.24 – THANKS TO THE FANTASTIC EFFORTS BY EVERYONE, THE BOOK IS NOW AT NUMBER 3!!  PLEASE KEEP SHARING TO GET HER RIGHT TO THE TOP **

 

I know we have had our differences over the past few years but I’m a forgiving soul and my MP, Nadine Dorries really needs our help right now.

Unless you’ve been on another planet/living in a cave/exist in the “Real World” without social media or just don’t really care – you are bound to have noticed that Nadine has a book out. Not just a ‘book’ but the first in a trio – set in 1950’s Liverpool (a literary feat in itself being as Nadine wasn’t born until 1957, what a memory!).  The book is “heartbreaking” according to her publisher ‘Head of Zeus’ who confidently forked out a four-figure sum to secure the rights to the trilogy.

The book was released on April 8th 2014 to massive fanfare including newspaper reviews, a launch party and even a 4-page spread in The Sunday Times magazine.  However, despite all her best efforts, sales are embarrassingly low and (in order to boost sales according to Nadine)  Amazon have reduced the price of the Kindle version to just 20p!  This policy seems to be working as, at less than half the price of any other book in the top ten, its currently number 8 in the “Kindle Chart” (and not in a mere genre sub-category, I hasten to add)! What a bargain! Now, some of you who have paid £10 for the hardback might be a little annoyed that it’s been reduced so dramatically on Kindle in less than 3 weeks since the publishing date but apparently that’s just how things work in publishing.

This book, ‘The Four Streets’, is simply bursting with drama and larger than life characters (many using colourful, authentic Irish prose) including a paedophile priest, wicked stepmother, abused kids Kitty & Nellie and ‘Maura’ – a lady who sounds exactly like Les Dawson’s hilarious roller-wearing, breast-nudging ‘Cissie’ ! Although the book is receiving a lot of negative reviews, please don’t let that put you off. What else you could spend your 20p on that will give you so much in return? Well, lets have a look shall we?

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We visited Wilko’s and Lidl and Nisa today to see just what you spend your 20p on. Amongst our haul were mushy peas, cat food, toilet rim freshener, “Oink” crisps, cocktail sticks, paracetamol, cleaning sponges and paracetamol. Although they are all very useful to have around the house, none of these could possibly compare to The Four Streets. In fact the only thing that came close were in the reduced section of Wilko’s  –  TWO snow shovels for 20p! Yes, TWO complete snow shovels for just 20p. But, as it’s not winter and she really does need our help – I’m asking you to do the right thing – buy the book. Even if, like me, you haven’t got a Kindle to read it on, it’s only 20p and it would make her SO happy to be number one in the Kindle charts. I can almost see her tweeting with glee now. Go on, have a heart…

Buy it here: (Note Maureen Lee’s “The Seven Streets of Liverpool” which was published 12 days before. Its set in the same place, even has a “Kitty” in it and is on sale for a shocking £4.49 while Nadine’s bargain book is 95.5% cheaper than Maureen’s! Its a no-brainer!)

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Vote for us not to vote! #UKIP

So, just saw this new UKIP poster whilst driving to Bedford. (This whole euro campaign is becoming something of a farce with their use of staff pretending to be “ordinary British people” and even immigrants to promote their anti-immigration views).

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Anyway, I digress. UKIP say 75% of our (British) laws are now made in Brussels. They think that’s a bad thing. After all, who wants transparency, fairness, human rights etc anyway…? Ok. So, their answer to this is  “Vote UKIP 22nd May” in the European elections. Hmm, so – they don’t like laws made in Brussels, which is why we must vote to give them voting power in Brussels, by giving them *more* MEPs.

Ah but our MEPs (classed the laziest political party in the whole of Europe) don’t vote (say UKIP in response).

So, what they’re *really* asking for in these posters is for us to financially support their MEPs to the tune of almost £1million over 5 years – £6500 per month, per MEP PLUS expenses, office, travel and food/hotel allowances and in return, we get a big, fat ZERO.   Hell yeah, I’m up for that – where do I sign? 

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There By The Grace Of God, Go I… #foodbanks

All over Twitter is today’s Sunday Mail “story” about a reporter visiting a Trussell Trust Food Bank & conning them into giving him a parcel “WITHOUT ID”. The thrust of the article was supposed to show that of the 913,000 food parcels given out by the Trust last year, some of them may have gone to people “abusing the system”. Worse still, they might go to people who AREN’T EVEN unemployed… Thousands of employed people are experiencing food-poverty. 93% of new Housing Benefit claimants are IN WORK. The right-wing media and government are desperate to cover up the truth of what is happening in Britain, pushing their ‘immigrants & scroungers’ agenda at every turn.

The Trussell Trust will allow just 9, yes 9 parcels per YEAR. Which will feed a family for just 27 days.  These are not people “taking advantage” but desperate, extremely poor people who are doing what they can to feed their children and themselves.  What the article didn’t point out is that the Trussell Trust are only responsible for up to one THIRD of all Food Bank parcels given out every year. The true figures of how many Britains receive the parcels are not available as the government (not surprisingly) no longer wish to collect data on this.

 

Desperate people do desperate things. Being poor is not a crime, nor should it be treated as such by the likes of Ross Slater and his colleagues at the Mail. For there by the grace of God go I.

Ross Slater of the Mail On Sunday, posing with his Thrussell Trust food parcel

Ross Slater, posing with his food parcel.

Extract from the Thrussell Trust Mission Statement

Whilst we are a Christian organisation, we serve people of all faith groups and beliefs or none. We are passionate about inclusion and being non-judgemental is central to what we do. We believe that everyone has the right to have food on their plate, dignity, skills, a chance to work and hope for the future”

I have today launched a petition, calling for the 5 reporters to sign up as volunteers for the Thrussell Trust  in order to open their eyes as to the real situation Britain is in. Please sign and tweet this petition:

You can volunteer for the Thrussell Trust here: http://www.trusselltrust.org/volunteer

What Price The Good Samaritan? #HelpForKeeley #FindTheDriver

In late November 2013 Keely Adams was travelling with her partner Matthew Shaw in a taxi along Stanbridge Road in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire when they spotted an upturned car in the middle of the road. They immediately stopped and went to help the screaming couple trapped inside.  What happened next is a tragedy that could have been avoided. Keely saw a lorry travelling at speed towards her, she said ‘I noticed two big white lights coming towards me. I shook my phone from side to side, hoping the driver would see the light. I realised he wasn’t going to stop – he didn’t even slow down. I started to run towards the grass verge but tripped or fell. I felt two impacts as he went over my leg. I was fully conscious the whole time. There was silence and then I started shouting that he’d hit me.’ This moment of heroism cost Keely her leg and has had a dramatic effect on her life and livelihood

The 18 ton HGV had ran over her right leg, causing so much damage that it had to be amputated below the knee. The driver has never been found.  Keely has undergone 9 operations and 7 blood transfusions to date and thanks the Luton & Dunstable and Stoke Mandeville Hospitals for the wonderful care they gave her. 

In those few seconds, the life as she knew it was torn away from her but despite that, Keely has no regrets about going to help. Brave Keely desperately needs our support now. Not only must her home must be renovated in order to suit her new needs but her income has been severely affected by the accident. Despite her employers holding her job open for her, shockingly she is only currently entitled to Statutory Sick Pay until she returns to work as her injuries are not deemed serious enough by the DWP to prevent her from working. Nerve damage to the leg could take months if not years to heal before a prosthetic can be considered and she needs time to come to terms with her new circumstances and indeed, grieve for her lost life before being pushed back into work.

Her friend Stephanie Rogers has set up this Go Fund Me account to raise money to help Keely and is hosting fund-raising events, please help if you can and spread the word.

This video of Keely shows her telling her story in her own words and appealing for to the driver to come forward. Were the driver to be found, criminal proceedings could proceed and Keely would be entitled to compensation from his insurance company. I would love Twitter to use its remarkable powers to #FindTheDriver as somebody somewhere knows who he is. Anyone with information about the accident or the lorry driver should contact PC John Speers of the Beds roads policing unit on the 101 non-emergency number. 

This photograph show Ms Adams with her partner, Matthew Shaw, at a friend's wedding before the accident

Keely with Matthew at a wedding before the accident that changed their lives.

 

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