TwitwatchUK – Week Three (24th Jan)

Welcome to this week’s TwitWatch UK..  as usual we have a load of old crap some great stories from the past week to share with you.

Weather-wise, it was reported that 2010 was the coldest UK winter on record,  whilst  being the 2nd warmest year Globally. Do you think someone has it in for us? Maybe it’s a conspiracy along the lines of “why can’t we ever win the Eurovision Song Contest” despite cheating our way into the final’s every year donating towards the contest costs?
 

Yay!  Top Gear came back!  Clarkson heroically had a helicopter land on the roof of a car he was driving.. it was like watching James Bond, only well, you know.. Clarkson is really scruffy, annoying and not in the least bit fanciable. APART from that.. it was awesome : ) Another Yay! Richard Hammond finally cut his hair, I think Mummy must have put her foot down although he is still wearing his 18-30s necklace..  Best of all though, they introduced a new Stig, who says women cant’ drive? ; )

A new comedy show was launched on TV this week with a live format.. The 10 O’Clock Show.. it was good but a bit like watching a Twitter stream that’s already three days old.

The best news of the week for me was that Ed Balls was finally appointed as Shadow Chancellor, sadly at the expense of Alan Johnson’s resignation but hey, the HOC will be a much livelier place from now on! Hopefully he is the man to kick Ed Miliband up the jacksy and we will see some proper opposition at last.

Andy Coulson also resigned this week so Twitter has de-twibboned from  “Sack Coulson”  and re-twibboned “Arrest Coulson” instead.. 

Mama Mia, here she goes again..  Meryl Streep was spotted at PMQs last week, swatting up for her imminent role as Margaret Thatcher in the film “The Iron Lady”. Humphrey just hopes it’s not a singing role, although “Money Money Money” would be rather appropriate.

Lastly and Ghastly.. my favourite tweeter stopped tweeting :*(   This post (sorry it’s crap) is dedicated to the much missed @Gaijinsan21, we hope you come back soon, Humphrey Twitter just isn’t the same without you x

Twit-Watch UK Week 2, 17th January 2011 #twitwatchuk #Clegg #Miracles #PMQs

First up Nick Clegg who has copped on that he has effectively pissed off isolated a great deal of his GE2010 voters so in response to this obvious-to-everyone-else bolt from the blue has responded by re-naming “The Great Ignored” – “Alarm-Clock Britain” . He is now the Alarm-Clock Britain’s champion!  Quite how he will convince them he is on-side is beyond me, his “no income tax for low earners”   has been completely wiped out by the rise in VAT, Twit-Watch UK shall watch his struggle with interest.

Ken Tong announces “it was all a dweam” a ‘la Bobby Ewing.. well kind of.. He gave an interview to reporter Johann Hari who pointed out to him the dangers of pushing “managed anorexia” onto thousands of teenage girls and that he might be hoisted up by his balls and hung sued for damages. Tong then pleaded with Hari not to publish the interview and declared it was all just a social media joke to see if people would react.. well Ken, we did react, mostly by swearing!

Two miracles seem worthy of report.. firstly Pope John Paul ii has reportedly cured a nun of Parkinson’s disease, from beyond the grave.. He is now being made a Saint, Humph wonder’s if perhaps the nun’s immune system kicked in and did it’s job, I’m sure medical scientists would love to examine her and perhaps help other sufferers but let’s all go with the miracle theory shall we.. #papalfail 

The second miracle is that Susan Hampshire is not actually dead as I previously wrote (thanks @fulhammatty for pointing it out), but sadly Susannah York IS dead.. so RIP and thanks for all the films : ) 

PMQs was a disappointment with David Cameron resorting to insults rather than making any attempt to answer the questions put to him. He ended by calling Ed Miliband “The Nothing Man”.. which put me in mind of this wonderful clip from the movie Shrek.

If Miliband is “The Nothing Man”, surely Cameron with his welfare reforms which include taking DLA from care-home residents is the bullying and disablist Lord Farquaad..

The Winner Takes It All.. too far?

Wikipedia statistics show that 15% of alcoholics commit suicide. Fact.  As many as 25% of alcoholics suffer from severe psychiatric disturbances.  The most prevalent psychiatric symptoms are anxiety and depression disorders. What leads an individual to take his/her own life is a subject for another day, this post is about one alcoholic in particular. Her name is Rachel Butler.

Rachel Butler is an alcoholic.  She is also a woman whose husband left her just after Christmas (just 2 weeks ago).  She has not only lost her husband which, although the marriage was (in her own words) long dead, she has lost her dignity to boot.   

For most people, a relationship breaking down is painful and stressful enough. Add to that alcoholism, betrayal and mistrust (regarding dates) and what have you got?  A terribly vulnerable woman who, rightfully or wrongly gave an interview to the press…

A former friend is now openly having a relationship with the available husband John (but only SINCE he left the family home we are told ). Upon being informed that Rachel had given an interview to The Mail, this friend posted press releases on her blog-page which state that Rachel is an “abusive alcoholic”.  Amongst these is one from Rachel Butler’s daughter Lucy in support of her father’s new relationship, denouncing her mother. Heartbreaking.

The statements were then published in full, in The Daily Mail and many other national newspapers since.  In response, the distressed Rachel has admitted she is an alcoholic, declared that she would name her former friend on the divorce petition and labelled her a “marriage wrecker”.  The Daily Mail again acting as host.

It’s all gone a bit Jeremy Kyle with this publication (but without the patient doctor waiting in the wings to offer his help). Nor are there bouncers at hand to prevent the parties from further blackening not eyes but reputations on all sides.

Time for our media to grow up and take some responsibility, this is not a side-show, these are real people, one of whom at least is extremely vulnerable.  They should not allow or encourage even more damage to be done to an already damaged woman, in the name of readership figures and “entertainment”.  Why not? I refer you back to my first paragraph.

I truly hope that the rest of this sorry tale can be played out in private, with all sides finding the help and happiness they deserve.

If you would like to speak in confidence about an alcohol problem you can contact Alcoholics Anonymous here.  The NHS also offer advice on their “Live Well” page, which has links for your local area.

* Since finishing the post I have discovered this Daily Mail article..  “on and on it goes, where it stops, nobody knows”: Willy Wonker.

** This post has been edited since first publication as it contained my personal media experiences which I have since decided to delete.

Twit-Watch UK – 9/01/2011

Inspired by @Chislehurst, this is the first TwitWatch UK post.. if all goes to plan and you like them, I will make them weekly all year 🙂

Coalition raise VAT to 20% – Twitter plot’s to scupper the extra tax on biscuits by pledging to buy Jaffa Cakes instead of HobNobs..  mwa ha ha..  (I had trouble finding Jaffa Cakes today, they were sold out in a lot of stores #TwitterWin )

1st Anniversary of the day a man made a stupid joke  – A year ago this week, Paul Chambers sent the #TwitterJokeTrial tweet, which led to a conviction and him losing his job.  Paul (with the help of fantastico lawyer @JackOfKent aka David Allen Green) is taking the case to the High Court in a bid to clear his name.  To help Paul, please donate what you can to the Trial Fund or buy a fab T-Shirt or Mug 🙂

I Am Spartacus!

Kenneth Tong, You’re SO Wrong..  This week also brought us the joy that is Kenneth Tong, a man with the plan to make all women a size Zero. I have NEVER been a size Zero in my life, certainly not going to try it now.. pass the Jaffa cakes..

RIPs – Twitter mourned the loss of Gerry Rafferty and Pete Posselthwaite this week and for an hour or so, that of Gabrielle Giffords, the US Senator who was critically injured (first thought of as dead) in a horrific shooting for which the Tea Party are seemingly responsible.. if only indirectly, which left 6 people including a nine-year old girl, dead.

Expenses Scandal MP Jailed –  On Friday, Labour MP  David Chaytor was rightfully imprisoned for 18 months over his £20,000 expenses fraud. This news was somewhat overshadowed by sordid revelations by my MP!

Hashtaggery – A silly hashtag #LameToFame gave us all a laugh this week, my contribution was the fact I have a pair of Johnny Vaughn’s discarded long-john’s.. long  john’s/long story.. !

Jaffa Cakes – In support of the splendid Jaffa Cake and inspired by last week’s TV special #StarGazing presented by Professor Brian Cox, Humph revives the wonderful “Eclipse” advert…

Full Moon...

 

Half Moon....

 

Total Eclipse !!

Crisis? What Crisis? #LHA

Thought I should write about today.. Today we had our application for a Social Fund Crisis Loan turned down. It seems that as we are not “at serious risk” we do not qualify. Even if we had, they would have disallowed the rent deposit and referencing costs anyway, only paying removal expenses and one month’s rent in advance…

If you want to rent a house through a Letting agent, they always ask for referencing costs and 1.5 months rent to be held by a third party incase of damage to the property.  When you vacate, should there be damage they will take the repair costs from your deposit, returning the difference.

Letting Agents are reluctant to rent properties to Local Housing Allowance (formally known as Housing Benefit) recipients.  They blame the landlords and insurance companies for this. Although Letting Agents are prevented by law to discriminate against disibility, race, gender etc, there is no such law in place to protect other LHA claimants.  Nor does the current legislation go far enough, the onus is on the claimant to prove the discrimination is down to their personal status. This is very difficult to prove and the Agent can merely blame the landlord/insurance company anyway…

Another problem that was highlighted by the Agents I spoke to is that LHA is now paid to the tenant, not the landlord/agent – except in certain circumstances.  This has put a great deal of landlords off from renting to LHA tenants, the result of this change in policy having serious affects on the rental market.

So the problem is.. I have a large deposit tied up on my current house. I have no money, having been made redundant in November. We have overstayed our tenancy and our landlord has applied to the court for an eviciton order. Our local housing association have no vacant properties within 15 miles of my childrens schools. It is GCSE year for my eldest so moving out of the area is out of the question.  In three weeks time I will be physically incapable of moving house myself, following my foot operation.

I am not looking for sympathy nor help by writing this blog, I am writing it as a record of the problems faced by people in my situation.  It was suggested to me that I take this up with my MP. That is out of the question so I will ask another about a possible change to the law, preventing Letting Agents from discriminating against LHA recipients in this way.  Perhaps the Government could offer it’s own insurance for LHA claimants?  Also, I suggest an urgent return to LHA being paid directly to the agent/landlord, this policy (introduced in 2008) is NOT working and although the idea behind it was to give tenants more financial responsibility, it has served to create chaos within the housing market.

I’ll keep you posted.. in the meantime I am praying for a HA property to become available in our area.

What starts with “E” and ends in homelessness?

Eviction is one of those words that you’ve heard your whole life, like bankruptcy or jail but never in your darkest, cheese-induced dreams did you ever think you might face yourself.  It’s a “grown-up” word, a word whispered in corners or highlighted in a seedy documentary.

I certainly never considered for a moment that it would ever be a word to cause ME sleepless nights and heart-thumping panic.  That was until I lost my job. Many of you are aware that I’ve had on-going medical issues over the past year, you may not know that I was “let-go” in November.  It was very quick and painless, without  fuss or ceremony, just a P45 dropping quietly onto my doormat.

Nothing to be alarmed about, we have systems in place to help the unemployed of Britain don’t we?  Yes we do and I am so grateful for them, I am a lot worse off financially now than when I was receiving the minimum sick pay from my employer but I knew that with adjustments we had enough money to live on and a roof over our heads.

Then my Landlord gave me notice.  Not a worry, I began looking for another house and found one in my village almost immediately.  Then came the bombshell that made the “Eviction” word a part of my world.  Since the government announced their planned Welfare Reforms, Letting agents will no longer rent properties to Housing Benefits claimants.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Who claims Housing Benefit ?  Single parents, lower-paid workers, mature students, pensioners, unemployed and the disabled.

Putting aside the others as this post is for the Broken Of  Britain, Housing Benefit is claimed by the disabled who are unable to work due to their disabilities or who are in poorly paid employment.  Not only are they already under a lot of financial strain and living in fear of the benefit changes being implemented but now they risk  homelessness as well.

There is a way around the letting problem though, you provide a guarantor for the letting agency.. at double the usual referencing cost and at huge cost to your pride and self-esteem. 

But what if you can’t provide or afford a guarantor?  What will happen to these people? Local Housing Association lists in many areas are already so strained they can only allot houses to homeless people.  My dream is to have a LHA house, to be able to afford the rent which would be half (yes HALF) what I am paying now to my private landlord.  The money I am saving in rent would remain in the public purse, rather than filling the fat wallet of my landlord..

One suggestion I have to address Letting Agent’s concerns is for the government to return to the policy of paying Housing Benefit directly to the Landlord, rather than the claimant. Another would be to reassure claimants and Letting Agencies that HB will always be paid to the low-income disabled and ill people of Great Britain and, if it isn’t already, to make it illegal to discriminate against them in this way.

As for me, I lost the village house to a working family but am now in the “referencing” stage of renting another.. My Landlord has filed papers to commence the process but I am keeping EVERYTHING crossed that the “E” word doesn’t soon become my reality.

On the first day of Cripmas… #disability

.. the Coalition gave to me…

The Broken of Britain proudly present Imana (11 years old) singing “The Twelve Days Of Cripmas”

Twelve Days Of Cripmas Lyrics by @Hossylass :

On the first day of Christmas the Government took from me the right to peace and harmony.

On the second day of Christmas the Government took from me,
social standing,
and the right to peace and harmony

On the third day of Christmas the Government took from me,
my I B,
social standing, and the right to peace and harmony.

On the fourth day of Christmas the Government took from me,
my contributions,
my I B, social standing, and the right to peace and harmony.

On the fifth day of Christmas the Government took from me,
my bu-us pass,
my contributions, my I B, social standing, and the right to peace and harmony.

On the sixth day of Christmas the Government took from me,
rights to housing,
my bu-us pass, my contributions, my I B, social standing, and the right to peace and harmony.

On the seventh day of Christmas the Government took from me,
mobility in care homes,
rights to housing, my bu-us pass, my contributions, my I B, social standing, and the right to peace and harmony

On the eighth day of Christmas the Government took from me,
5 years of pension,
mobility in care homes, rights to housing, my bu-us pass, my contributions, my I B, social standing, and the right to peace and harmony

On the ninth day of Christmas the Government took from me,
council funded care,
5 years of pension, mobility in care homes, rights to housing, my bu-us pass, my contributions, my I B, social standing, and the right to peace and harmony

On the tenth day of Christmas the Government took from me,
All my DLA,
council funded care, 5 years of pension, mobility in care homes, rights to housing, my bu-us pass, my contributions, my I B, social standing, and the right to peace and harmony

On the eleventh day of Christmas the Government took from me,
Independent Living Fund,
All my DLA, council funded care, 5 years of pension, mobility in care homes, rights to housing, my bu-us pass, my contributions, my I B, social standing, and the right to peace and harmony

On the Twelfth day of Christmas the Government gave to me,
a ticket to Dignitas.

Heads I Win…

Since 1840 the Monarchy’s head has appeared on British stamps, one attempt by Tony Benn in 1965 to change that failed.. Now, just 8 months into our Coalition government, Royal Mail is up for sale and the back of our Monarch’s head could be licked for the last time.  Whilst images of bright orange Tango or Easy Jet’d post boxes and vans spring horrifically to mind,  the Coalition blame Labour, Labour blame the Coalition, Labour/Coalition, Coalition/Labour… lets call the whole thing off….

Personally, I am surprised by the government’s epic failure to protect the status quo, however it does leave Ms Cushion with a marvellous opportunity ; )

Thanks to @johnrisby for the stamp link ; )

What’s the difference between a wheelchair and a stick..?

Last Thursday 9th of December the crucial vote on Tuition Fees was held, as we now know, the Lib Dem MPs allowed the vote to pass, despite their personal pledges to the contrary ( read @Gaijinsan21 s far superior explanation about why I am calling them “personal”.. )

This post is not about that however but a story which needs telling, Jody McIntyre’s story.  On Friday last week I read Jody’s account of his day and in particular his brushes with the police.  I was horrified to hear how he was twice pulled from his wheelchair and forcibly moved.  In time however, I began to think that perhaps he had exaggerated or that by putting himself in the front line as he does, maybe he antagonized the situation? 

This footage was uploaded to Youtube today by Jody, taken by a by-stander.  It has been lightened and sharpened by @Harbonaut < #ff please!

In it you can clearly see, as Jody had described last week, a police officer striding over to him in order to remove him from the area.  I believe it is the same officer who is, himself, dragged away from the scene shortly afterwards by his colleagues. 

So far all I have seen reported on the news is violence by the students.  I understand that at this moment there is a young man, Alfie Meadows, who is in hospital, recovering from a truncheon-inflicted brain injury which required a 3 hour operation.  We have also heard much about Camilla being “poked with a stick” by a student, very frightening I am sure but perhaps a little perspective newsteams? 

So what’s the difference between a wheelchair and a stick?

*UPDATED 14th Dec* : BBC News report of this evening on the incident involving Jody…  Watch the end, the interviewer tries to twist the story to make Jody the villain.. Jody stands up for himself, Alfie Meadows and the other students admirably and gets the message about unfair tuition fees across really well, kudos mate.

Here is the footage:

Don’t feed them after midnight… #LibDems

My name is Humphrey Cushion, I am a Lib-Dem… there, I’ve said it.  Much to the disappointment and derision of my family, I have always been a Lib Dem – right from my first nervous entrance into my local church hall to vote in the council elections at 18ish..  Paddy Ashdown inspired trust in me, that along with a slight crush ; )   and when he handed over to Charles Kennedy I still supported them, although I was naturally disappointed Paddy was no longer the figurehead.  “Old Labour” came across as too rough, too angry for me while the Lib Dems were kind but fair, green and more palatable by far than the Conservatives.  We suited each other.

When Tony Blair became Labour leader I had a change of heart, I despised the Conservatives and so for the first time, put my cross in the Labour box.  I have never regretted making that choice, indeed I am proud of Labour’s achievements and sing from the rooftops about them as you may know!   This is mostly due to the changes Labour have made to mine and my families lives.  I remember struggling for years, alongside my husband to make ends meet until the introduction of Tax Credits. 

Some time after, we moved to Spain for a few years and upon my return I saw a real difference to the services in our country which, being so close you may not have noticed.  There was an awful lot of red-tape, political correctness and intrusion though.. 

We came back  from Spain smack in the middle of the so-called “Credit Crunch”.. how I hate that expression, my work colleagues talked about it constantly.. they couldn’t understand that it literally meant STOP BORROWING MONEY! If you want something, save up for it.. whatever happened to that?  I sadly remember Woolworths going belly-up that year, it was awful, almost as though Christmas itself took a last, choking breath in sympathy.

Naturally, with the GE2010 was coming up I had to take a long, hard look at where the country was and who to support.  Although I admired Nick Clegg a lot, (his performances in the Leaders Debates were outstanding) I did not think for one minute that the Lib Dems would garner enough votes to keep out the Conservatives.  I threw myself headlong into supporting and became a card-carrying member of Labour.  I even got to meet Gordon & Sarah when they visited Bedford (and nicked a couple of BIG signs to hang in my windows, shhh)

Sadly, Labour couldn’t pull in enough votes and the Coalition was born.  Although very unhappy that Clegg & Co made what I think was the wrong choice, I trusted my natural party to lessen the impact of the Conservatives on Britain. How wrong I was.  It seems that somebody fed the Lib Dem MPs after midnight and the sweet Mugwai became “The New Batch”…. instead of watering down Tory policies they have thrown themselves headlong into the havoc being wreaked on this country.  I have images of Cameron and Osborne giggling maniacally whilst dropping water (wine) on them and feeding them Fois Gras after midnight.  What will it take for them to wake up and smell the coffee?  They deliberately and calculatedly courted the younger votes during their election campaign, focusing on social networking sites.  Together they signed a pledge promising to vote AGAINST tuition fees..  the young believed them and gave their extra 1 million votes.  Now the Lib Dem MPs are seemingly shocked that the students are rebelling and holding them to account and are desperately trying to wriggle out of their solumn, heart-felt and PERSONAL pledges.

I still love the real Liberal Democrats and what they stand for, the ones who voted to scrap tuition fees in their 2009 conference..  however I fear for their future.  Unless “Stripe and Brains” do the decent thing and not only allow their MPs to vote against the tuition fees on Thursday but stand alongside them,  I think the Lib Dems are history.  The Coalition will continue to hit the vulnerable of Britain, the beggars will return to our tubes, jobcentre queues will become once more commonplace, the homeless will reinhabitate our doorways. 

Come on Wild Things..  show you have some balls and vote AGAINST the tuition fees on Thursday!!  #IAmGismo

(If you have a Lib Dem MP, please lobby your heart out this week! You can email them via this link: They Work For You  )

*A short blog post which caught my attention this morning;  Explaining Modern Government.. in 3 sentences!

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