Friday, 29 April 2011

it's here


the most trivial is the site named Janspotting, which I was pleased, and rather flattered, to see.  The Reading Labour stooge candidate for Redlands has form on faux feminism - as a Battle ward resident she organised in the name of feminism the selection as council candidate of - a man.  Anyway, it's good fun, and let's see what crypto-misogynist gags the self-described old bat comes up with between now and next Thursday.  Coming soon: Bashmash.

four things

I've seen this all over the place lately, anyway these are my answers, please share yours
Four Jobs I Have Had in My Life:
  1. Shop assistant
  2. Translator
  3. Member of UK Parliament
  4. Editor
Four Books I Would Read Over and Over Again:
  1. Howards End
  2. Wuthering Heights
  3. The Redundancy of Courage, Timothy Mo
  4. Cat's Eye, Margaret Atwood
Four Places I Have Lived:
  1.  London
  2. Bath
  3. Reading
  4. Kamakura. Japan

Four Books I Would Recommend:
  1. The Radiant Way, Margaret Drabble
  2. Any Human Heart, William Boyd
  3. Solar, Ian McEwan
  4. E.M. Forster, Howards End

Four Places I Have Been:
  1. Ulan Bator, Mongolia 
  2. Pafos. Cyprus
  3. Ulcinj, Montenegro
  4. Saulkrasti, Latvia
Four of My Favorite Foods:
  1. rare steak and broccoli
  2. French onion soup
  3. sharp Cheddar cheese
  4. tuna sushi
Four of My Favorite Drinks:
  1. proper tea with milk
  2. apple juice just before it ferments
  3. coffee in Italy
  4. Champagne 
Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:
  1. Pafos, Cyprus
  2. Montenegro
  3. Saulkrasti, Latvia
  4. Soho, London

Four Things That Are Very Special in My Life:
  1.  My daughter and son
  2. My granddaughter
  3. significant other
  4. my notebooks

Four Bloggers I Hope Will Do This Meme: no-one unless they want to, this was for me

Thursday, 28 April 2011

kebabs cause murder - official

Basher Mackenzie

 Basher's increasingly bizarre and irrational behaviour manifests itself today in an objection to an application for a kebab van in east Reading, because it will lead to gun crime if approved.  Srsly.

The burger bar will be up off the main road. It will be unpoliced and will of course not have any toilets. There have already been incidents in local takeaways, such as the shooting at the PFC last year.  

He tells us in Howarthian orthography that the above is the "jist" (I promise you) of the letter he has sent to the Licensing Committee.

a mad person

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Reading Borough Council elections

yes yes I know, it will be over soon.  Cllr Willis has helpfully published the full list of candidates in the borough of Reading.  He even indicates who is incumbent and who stood the previous year in that ward.  He notes that Minster is marginal.  Yes indeed, Mr Salter was viscerally attached to that ward, for reasons he would probably seek a super-injunction to avoid having to explain.  However, he is fishing in Australia (he said he was coming back in early 2011 but seems to have changed his mind: funny how when I went to work in Latvia, where people go from the UK for stag weekends, he called it "far-flung", but Australia is somehow closer to home.  Oh.) and presumably will have nothing to say on the subject.  My favourite names of those who are standing are both LibDems, in Minster and Norcot respectively: Roy Perestrelo, who sounds like a minor character in a 1990s Bond film, and Hoyte Swager - imagine Mr and Mrs Swager looking down on their newborn and saying fondly "I think we'll call him Hoyte, and perhaps he'll grow up to be a LibDem".  No.  It's too unbearable.  Someone commented on an earlier post that Park will go Green, with Basher and Cllr Hussain fighting it out, literally given Basher's record and that of Park Labour, for second place.  I am doubtful about this.  Cllr Hussain actually has a proven record and is a decent man, which people believe is rare in politics and they appreciate it greatly when they find it, and are willing to vote for it.  Basher Mackenzie is mentally ill and prone to violent behaviour, and is also a person of extremist views.  Whatever his religious affiliation, I do think that playing guitars and singing hymns in the street is (a) embarrassing and (b) not a vote-winner.  I do not see evidence of any likely Labour gain from Conservative.  And without that it is going to be difficult for Labour to take control back, especially now that some of the stones have been lifted and the corrupt antics of the previous Labour administration revealed.  People don't like politicians who are crooks.  I promise you they don't.

My little poll, which will remain until polling day next week, has shown a late surge for some fat girl no-one has ever heard of to become the next leader of the Labour Group, but she is still behind Rob White, who has voted with Labour just about all the time, and revealed in an email to me that some Labour politicians had criticised him for not voting with them often enough.  So that's clear.  Vote Green in Park and get Labour.  In Wokingham, by contrast, there is a distinct possibility of a Labour gain, which would be rather splendid news.  I say no more, for now.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

yes to AV!

where was I? Got carried away there for a moment. Ah yes. People voting, stuff like that. Which is happening in the UK next week I believe. If anyone is left to vote, as with the fantastically generous public hols most people who can have already left the country it seems. Not here. OH no. We have hols on 1st and 8th May here, and both fall on a Sunday this year, so we lose them. None of this shifting to Mondays for us. We have to wait till 2nd June for the next one, which falls on a Thursday and so we are making the bridge, as the French say "on fait le pont". It means taking the Friday off, do try and keep up. We are going to Hirson (pronounced "ear song" approximately) on the Franco-Belgian border, to make a kind of pilgrimage. Which may well be a topic for another post.

Anyway, voting. Gains for Labour I fancy, but not as many as they think they are getting. And we know why. I am just anxious that my AV referendum ballot paper gets here in time. Because AV is very g(That's enough. Ed.). Well, you see the problem.

Monday, 25 April 2011

5 Days To Power, Rob Wilson, Biteback 2010

I read this quite some months after it came out.  Not available as an ebook chiz.  update: you can get it on Kindle I am told But I do take an interest in the career and activities of my successor as MP for Reading East, who will represent that constituency for as long as he wants to unless there is an outbreak of madness in the Reading East Conservative Association, which, although it has happened in the past, does not look at all likely with current personnel.

Wilson's writing seemed at first pedestrian, and frankly I was surprised to see this book appear at all, not having him down as a writer, or as a journalist.  But he has always been one for surprises, and it seems he is well connected and was quick enough to get interviews with many of the key players, from all parties, and so this book is authentic, as far as that goes.  And interesting to the likes of me.  Not all the writing is pedestrian, by a long way.  Brown was (p.33) "not a man with the sinewy guile to fashion a way forward in a coalition situation".  Nice. *strokes chin*.  Though I don't like "coalition situation" very much.  But there.

Some things he chooses to point out post hoc: the LibDems noted, pre election, that they were sharing office with the Tories in 14 councils, several of them urban (Birmingham, Leeds), and the phrase "clear yellow water" is even used - ugh.  Steve Hilton, senior advisor to the Tories, stressed (p. 47) that the things that divided the Tories from the LibDems, mainly Europe (and electoral reform, say I, from the perspective of now) were smaller than those that they agreed about, mainly scepticism about big government.

And this is what was being said, Wilson tells us:  "circumstances would allow him (Brown) to appear the man for a crisis and he would stage a mini-revival" (p. 50).  "We need a bigger swing than Margaret Thatcher", words which became common parlance within the Tory party, he tells us, same page, but Margaret Thatcher when?  He does not say.  Discuss.  He also says (p. 53) that Cameron said "Don't report back to me", because of Cameron's own punishing schedule, "the less he knew the better.". This is always true for a candidate.  But Cameron itself was saying it?  Another well-used phrase is "confidence and supply", meaning that the party expecting to be in government relies upon another for "confidence" (in the event of a vote of no confidence the minority party provides support) and "supply" (the minority party supports the larger one in the event of a difficulty with "supply", which is the Appropriations or similar by which governments secure to themselves the money they need, or believe they need, for the business of their government.

Something probably unintentionally telling: "the briefings to the media were designed to relay a narrative that would destroy with the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party any chance of a deal with Labour" (p. 146).  Not so much that this would be the outcome desired by the Tories, but that it would be taken for granted that it was through "the media" that LibDem (and other) MPs got their view of the world.

Some aperçus: a Tory source said "My view of what turned the Liberal Democrats our way were [sic] the position papers.  They suddenly saw in black and white that we were serious, prepared to go issue by issue, that we really wanted to work out where we could stand together" (p. 160).  These were pre-election Tory position papers, drawn up with just such a situation in mind.  "What they all agreed on throughout the day (Sunday, p. 161) was the high quality of the biscuits as demanded by Oliver Letwin and in the main eaten by Liberal Democrat policy aide Polly Mackenzie.". I suppose it should have been obvious that voting reform was non-negotiable for the LibDems, and "deficit reduction" was for the Tories. (p. 165)

"the Prime Minister's appalling reputation for interpersonal skills" (p. 172).  Well, yes.  Reputation.  But I know what he is like when he engages you (OK, I knew what he was like when he was Chancellor), and lights you up.  Few can resist.  Maybe that is a girl thing - and I am no longer a Gordon fan.  But I was bowled over by him personally on more than one occasion, and he knew exactly what he was doing.  So getting Gordon one to one with people was a good idea.

But still (p. 181),  "With as little as 23% of the popular vote, and 57 MPs, Clegg and his team had concluded that it was right for them to choose who should not be leader of the Labour Party and who should not be Prime Minister of the UK".

Tony Blair's view, Sunday night to Monday morning (p. 191) was that "what Labour did now would be likely to affect the way people perceived the party in the months and years to come, so it was crucial to get it right" - and look what actually happened.  When did Tony say this?  With hindsight?  And how?  With glee?  This book does not tell us.  What it does tell us is that Ashdown and Clegg wanted Brown gone for different reasons: "Ashdown wanted to keep Labour on side in the race for power, and that could not happen with Brown as Prime Minister - Ashdown wanted his long-desired coming together with Labour.  Clegg wanted options, so that he could squeeze the best possible deal from the Conservatives, while maintaining Labour as a safety net" (p. 193).

Cameron was convinced (p. 208) that Labour was offering Clegg AV without a referendum.  On the Monday Clegg was bad-tempered (I do not know him personally but suspect he has a tendency to this) and told Cameron he was going to start negotiating with Labour.  It is a pity this book has no index.  The Tories were being held hostage (p. 211) by the LibDems, who at this stage had no coalition, and no hope of being in government.  The whole thing swung on AV.  Osborne had it thus: "We've made an offer on AV.  We've got it through the shadow cabinet and the parliamentary party, and it's a good offer.  We are the only people who can offer a stable coalition." (p. 225).

With hindsight it seems that Labour was arrogant.  On the Monday Harriet Harman said that each Labour cabinet minister should thrash things out with his or her LibDem shadow.

When Cameron finally became Prime Minister the LibDem statement said (p. 277) "It is clear that some people in the Labour Party see opposition as a more attractive alternative to the challenges of creating a
progressive, reforming government, not least in the context of a Labour leadership election campaign.". Absolutely right.  Then, now and always. And when did we light up the people? With Tony Blair, when we looked outwards.  Still with the LibDems, only David Rendel in their federal executive voted against the deal.  Wilson calls the coalition "Britain's new politics".  I don't live in Britain, but it doesn't seem that way to me.  There is new parliamentary arithmetic, and thus a new process of forming a government, but the politics looks the same to me.

Wilson points out that Clegg was able to achieve remarkable consensus within the parliamentary party.  Well, yes.  To my eyes that consensus does not appear to have been dented.  Though sillier elements among the voters claim the LibDems have sold out.

I write this as the campaign in the AV referendum, which must have seemed a distant dream as these events unfolded in 2010, is reaching its closing stages, and as it looks as though the result will be No.  This book may not be a deathless piece of literature, but it is a workmanlike piece of history.  I watched these events unfold on Sky (the Campbell-Boulton row!  What joy!) at home while recovering from an eye operation.  The operation was done in Strasbourg on the day before the election, and the little hospital porter who wheeled me through the building told me he had a great interest in British political history, and had a shelf of books on the subject.  Only in France?  I don't know.

Labour was trashed last year in the general election.  Gordon is responsible.  And next month the party could make a swathe of gains despite the leadership of Ed Miliband, a man tailor-made for opposition if ever there was one, because of how the voters have perceived the coalition.  The voters are mostly wrong.  That is democracy's tragedy.

Sunday, 24 April 2011


Norm, as so often, is very sound here.  He posits an electorate of two, where each of those two people knows which film they would like to see, but they are different films, so the electorate as a whole is undecided.  When any reasonable individual would know without hesitation whether they would rather see Black Swan or Made in Dagenham.  No contest in my view, having seen both, but that's just me.  An individual and not an electorate.  That is how electorates behave, and that, comrades, is why I am for AV.  But I strongly suppose the electorate will not be.  So Nick Clegg will have had his day in the sun.  Which has now turned to ashes in his mouth.  To mix metaphors somewhat grossly.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

splendid stuff

what is below amused me, though it does not of course represent Labour policy.  Just that of the corrupt little clique that sadly is still apparently at the core of the Labour "manifesto" in Reading.  Sorry/  That decent people are (scarcely) allowed to stand in Reading.  Btw if in Peppard vote DP Singh, top man. Hat-tip muckspReading,


Printed by Pubic Impact Ldt - Your “Friendly” Printer Spell checked by Jhon Howarth
For the purposes of declaring election expenses, this is not worth the paper it is written on.
standing up for self-interest
Labour’s manifesto Reading Borough Council 2011
In case you’re being deliberately pernicious , this is a work of fiction although the same could also be said for the real Labour manifesto!
vote Labotomy
© 2011 muckspReading

Friday, 22 April 2011

hope he sucks them dry

Christopher Jefferies, the newspapers who reported him as a murderer, good for Catherine.  This man's life has been ruined, and he is guilty of NOTHING.  Happy now, Mr and Ms Journo?  Mr Jefferies was not in public life, he was a retired teacher, for fxxxk's sake.  But oh yes, footballers and TV stars (whose identities are easy to find out anyway if anyone can be bothered) can get super injunctions so their various peccadilloes can be covered up.  What is Britain coming to?  Gone to the bloody bow-wows, is what.

Shame on the lot of you.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

laughter killed the revolution

they wore this in a military parade in Iran on Monday.  Srsly.

my attention has been drawn

to this blog, which is focused on Reading politics and on Reading council.  It appears to be linked to a Tory faction, if factions there be, not necessarily designed to be helpful to council leader Andrew Cumpsty.  Whatever.  Its author appears also to be committed to seeking the truth on previous council corruption.  I would suggest that he or she varies his or her route home at nights if any more digging in that particular hole is envisaged.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

put the posters up

except they haven't. The people of Reading it seems. Labour ones that is. Sig other and I were at the Madejski Stadium yesterday to see a satisfying victory for Reading over Leicester. I am not much for football on the telly but will pretty much always go to a live game. Anyway, we took the Green Bus there and back, which gives you a pretty scenic tour of south Reading, Whitley and Church wards, and not one Labour poster did we see. Wtf? Basher tells us he went to church this morning for the Palm Sunday service. So did I, in Woodley, thanks for the friendly welcome and nice comments Woodley peeps. Basher though does picture some Labour posters. Except that they are all, er, on his own house. Are there really none elsewhere in Park that you could show us, Basher? Cllr Hussain has an excellent work record in the ward, and does not visit east Reading community associations just for free lunches, as Basher tells us he does.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

an early bath?

worrying news has reached me from my person on the riverside. A meeting was scheduled re the future of the Kings Meadow Baths, and officers are trying to prevent it from going ahead, ostensibly because councillors up for re-election should not be getting publicity through the council process, but in fact because officers are being told, or believe, that Labour are going to take control next month. If Labour do take control there will be rapid and destructive development of the riverside, as has been Labour Group policy since 1991 to my knowledge. So, if you care about the Baths and the riverside, don't vote Labour in Reading, wherever in the Borough you live.

Northanger Abbey

I own (funny how the Austen turn of phrase is catching) myself unimpressed by the writings of Miss Austen.  I was given a copy of Pride and Prejudice for Christmas when I was thirteen, and I did not like it.  Too much dialogue, too many words, and girls talking in ways I do not think girls ever talk.  "Why, Mr Darcy, I own myself disinclined, &c".  And nothing ever happens except girls getting married, because that is what girls are supposed to do, in fact all they can do.  Which is frankly depressing.  Although true.  And of course Miss Austen herself did not do it.  Get married that is.

Anyway, turns out my son is playing Captain Tilney (the bad brother, cad and bounder, seducer etc) Upstairs at the Gatehouse, in Highgate, London, first night 19th April, in a new production of this work, done I am told with musical interludes.  Well.  So I had to read the bugger before attending this essential evening.  The first night I mean.  Thanks to Norm for helpful advice.  I have read the book.  It is about the Sentimental Education of Catherine Morland.  Except, and I am not spoiling the book by saying this, it gets cut a bit short because she, er, gets married.  Not saying who to.  But it is true that Miss Austen apparently gets a bit bored 
with the story and ends everything really quickly.  Anyway, I think you wanted to know what happens.

Shan't tell you.  Because that is not the point.  Catherine is a seventeen year old, the fourth of ten children of a clergyman of independent means, and she is sent out to Meet Chaps.  First in Bath, then in the mysterious Northanger Abbey.  Her brother is much taken with her best friend, Isabella the slapper, and Isabella's brother is much taken with Catherine, who does not much like him, finding him dull.  But the Tllneys, ah, they are different.  Eleanor, gentle and sympathetic, brother Henry, nice but not sexy, Captain Tilney (Frederick, the heir to the family fortune) and once Isabella lays eyes on Freddie-babes brother of Catherine is out of the window and has his heart duly broken.

Anyway, the General (Tilney senior) takes a dim view of all this, suspecting various people of being after various other people's fortunes, and throws a big sulk.

But - it is a cracker of a read.  Did not expect it to be.  A teenage girl having her sexual awakening (sort of) "danced in her chair all the way home".  Those of us who have ever been teenage girls know what that is like, and it has never been put better outside of certain key issues of Jackie magazine.  It is witty in a good way: Tilney on reading history: "The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars and pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all - it is vey tiresome.". Note the Austen use of the semicolon.  Also: "A woman especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.". I like her almost childlike joking, which she never equalled later, when she sounded wordy and mannered, such as "He is a happy man!" said the general, with a look of very happy contempt."

Now we get to the house.  Northanger Abbey.  Because all English novels are about houses and money.  Lots of rooms and lots of furniture.  Lots of creeping about on stairways and lots of unexpected encounters in doorways

Overwrought teenage girl decides her host, father of her intended,(who she does not know is such at this point) has murdered his wife.  He has not, as she subsequently discovers.  She is mortified: she tells herself that in England, among Christians, potions and poisons are not to be "procured, like rhubarb, from every druggist".  Did they get rhubarb from druggists in those days?  If so, for what purpose?

Ah, yes.

Anyway, against my own expectations I say, have a read of this.  It was bought by a bookseller but not published, and then was published 13 years later.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

the Union was saved by German leftists

today being the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the American Civil War, and my knowledge of. American history being lamentable, I take the liberty of linking to the following by Gene at Harry's Place, which I thought was Quite Interesting.

Friday, 8 April 2011

could not resist

they all did. All of them. John Howarth thou shouldst be living at this hour. (spelling, thanks Gus).

Thursday, 7 April 2011

a reason not to vote Labour

in Park ward, Reading.  This post by Basher ("vote for me or I'll punch your lights out") McKenzie:

Way forward

The Parents’ Group is considering options around legal action, I am campaigning with Councillor Jon Hartley to make sure that my Party commits itself to persuing (sic) legal action against Wokingham Borough Council in its manifesto for the May elections if Labour takes control of Reading Council in May.
Many of you will have read about the proposal for a University Technical School somewhere in East Reading. Many parents have expressed their concerns about the school, they are uncertain and the information released so far is vague and very unclear. Currently there is no information as to the exact opening date, curriculum or even where it will be based. What is clear is that the situation remains unclear.
Wokingham is determined to exclude Park’s children from Maiden Erlegh, I will keep working to ensure that you are fully informed as the issue develops and as the various legal actions come to fruition.

Right. The post reproduces a letter from Cllr Wazir Hussain, not in that capacity but on Reading Conservatives letterhead, sent to Park residents last year, and says that Cllr Wazir Hussain "welcomes" Wokingham's proposals.  Read the letter, and read the public statements he has made on the issue,  and you will see that he does not.  What he does do is press for equitable treatment for Park residents.  The chair of Reading East Conservatives, attending a meeting to support Park residents, was publicly called "Wokingham scum" by - Basher McKenzie  himself.  Who has lied in this post about the position of Cllr Hussain and of the Reading East Conservatives.  Which is actionable at the very least.  The question should be asked whether Basher's post has been authorised by Reading Labour Party in advance of publication, and if not what is their view.  In addition, Basher commits Reading Labour Party, should they take control of Reading Borough Council next month, to taking legal action against Wokingham Borough Council on this issue.  Which is opposed by the Conservatives, who favour a new school in east Reading, campaigned for by the Reading East MP, something which has never been supported by Reading Labour, who prefer bashing Wokingham to doing anything about education in Reading.  As MP for Reading East for eight years I could NEVER interest the then Labour-controlled Reading Borough Council in campaigning for a new school in east Reading.  And I had Labour government ministers willing to work with me, but of course they needed the council to be on side, which it never was.  Those in charge of education at the time (Lovelock and then Fatboy Hartley) should answer as to why.  And blaming Berkshire County Council will not wash.  It was abolished 13 years ago and not a finger has been lifted since.  That is why east Reading parents want and need to send their children to school in Wokingham. 

Lies and the lying liars who tell them, hein?

lying liar

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

wrong on so many levels

Danniel Finkelstein, writing in The Times today (£) correctly identifies President Obama as an apparent ditherer, noting that he waited on Libya until almost too late, and then almost too soon took the almost unprecedented step of withdrawing US troops from a NATO operation.  Obama has also failed to front up on anything international, pretty much.  Danny the Fink says that American foreign policy has been like this in the past, notably in the decade after the Vietnam defeat, but does not say whether he thinks this is a good thing.  He does say that if FDR had lived a bit longer the end of the Second World War might have been different, and refers to President Harding at the end of the First World War, pledging America to "nationality" not "internationality", which they might have got later too.  His conclusion however is that Obama might have understood perfectly well that he was not performing as the leader of the free world, for the very good reason that he does not want that role.  I think this is utter bollocks.  It's not about "leadership", whatever that really means, but about power.  And the US is indisputably the most powerful nation on earth.  For now, OK, for now.  But it is.  And with power goes responsibility.

In the words of the great Lenny (Cohen) "There's a mighty judgment coming, but I could be wrong".

Monday, 4 April 2011

mea culpa too late

Richard Goldstone, the South African judge tasked by the UN Human Rights Council with an inquiry and report on the Israel-Gaza Operation Cast Lead, got it wrong when he said Israel had committed war crimes.  Well, we knew that.  It wasn't Israel using civilians as human shields and storing weapons in mosques and hospitals.  But now Goldstone has admitted it.  Good, but too late.  We know, and so must he, that the UN Human Rights Council is not an impartial body, and that it is quite relaxed about slaughter and attempted genocide in some places (Darfur), but has a standing order to condemn Israel at all times.  The Goldstone report has given legitimacy to the Jew-hating we see especially on the Western left, to political persecution of elected Israeli politicians, who cannot now safely visit the UK without fear of arrest, and arguably to the disgraceful moves for a total academic boycott of Israel.  So it is welcome to hear that Goldstone has admitted he was wrong.  He says:

"the allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion.  While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized by the UN committee's report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy."

 Surely if you don't have contrary evidence, your conclusion ought to be that you don't really know what happened, rather than that a war crime has been committed because you don't have clear evidence that it has not?

Doubtless there will be a banner headline in the Guardian and lengthy, probing interviews in TV studios across the land.  Anyone?  Anyone? (sound of tumbleweed)

Sudhana Singh

What follows has been published as an anonymous comment on my earlier post on this subject.  I thought the person writing it was making sense, and it may shed some light on the issue, so I publish it now as an independent post.  What I think it shows is that however keen Reading Borough Council might be to keep this affair under wraps, they cannot really do so in these days of the new-fangled cyber-web thingy.
Whilst I feel that the governing body sat on their hands and didn't appear to want to get involved in parents' concerns, parents - including me, felt that our concerns were not being addressed. It was Mr Melvin Brant who was the Chair of Governors when the Vote Of No Confidence (not a petition) was delivered. However, I do not recall Mr Powers being voted in as a Governor, so I would like to know how he became a Governor. Whilst saying that, the school has some serious problems. It is alleged that it has the highest number of racist incidents in the whole of Reading. The Governors seem reluctant to publish these incidents even though I believe they have to do so, and indeed, they have stated that parents will be 'alarmed' with the number of racist incidents. Does this mean that the school/Governors are reluctant to act when it comes to instances of racism? Should Black/Asian children have to put up with that kind of abuse whilst those who can do something sit on their hands afraid of the 'R' word? Is there anyone of colour within the Governors who can/will do something about the prolonged issues of racism? Was Mrs Singh's reported problems with the Governors race related - even though they employed her? Did they employ her for all of the right reasons? Did they have a number of people (maybe three or four) to interview and she was the best of them all? Was she recruited as there was no other suitable candidate and the Governor's felt somebody was better than knowbody at all? Or, did they recruit her, knowing the racsit problems the school has, with a view that she would sort these issues out? Only they can answer that. Whilst I personally feel Mrs Singh's problems are all self inflicted, I do believe she has a case against the Governors. They sat on their hands for too long and I feel they were complacent having had Mrs Parry there for some time. My personal opinion is also that Mr Brant was a totally unsuitable Chair. I understood he decided to step down before he was voted out by the other Governors. A totally useless 'wartime' Chair in my opinion. Unfortunately I had the misfortune of sitting in two meetings with him and, once again in my opinion, he seemed totally clueless and out of his depth. At present, the two Heads of the school, Governors and LA are keen to keep things under wraps. They are very keen that parents' do not comment publicly on the ongoing situation, but they themselves still have work to do. They still do not appear to have a grasp of what is going on around them and appear surprised when incidents have been reported to them. The findings of the Independent Review has not been released by the Governors/LA, even though Mrs Singh has brought it into the public domain. Why won't the Reading Borough Council release it? They are claiming that it is an ongoing legal situation so cannot comment. My opinion is that it will never be released. They have lead the parents a merry dance since June/July 2010 that we would have have the findings by the end of that term. Mr Powers appeared in the local media explaining what the Governors going to do. The findings that were eventually released to parents didn't highlight any of our concerens. Whitewash sprang to mind. The school/Governors, once again in my opinion, only appeared to act on parents' concerns once it hit the headlines in the local media. It did nnot go to the media first. However, the sheer number of staff (teachers and support staff) and pupils that have left the school during Mrs Singh's 'leadership' tells a story in itself. Whilst I have no time for Mrs Singh and in my opinion her incompetence, if the LA/Governors did not follow the correct procedures, raise their concerns to her in any appraisal she may have had, they have left themselves open to this lawsuit and only have themselves to blame. They therefore deserve to lose this case.

Friday, 1 April 2011

a worrying trend

"Eskimo’s kennen nog maar drie woorden voor sneeuw", De Speld, 3/21/2011 ("Eskimos now have only three words for snow") — subtitle "Klimaatverandering debet aan taalverarming" ("Climate change to blame for language impoverishment"):

Een uitgebreid taalonderzoek onder 1.000 Inuit heeft uitgewezen dat het aantal woorden dat hun taal kent voor sneeuw is gereduceerd tot drie. In 1996, de laatste keer dat een dergelijk onderzoek werd uitgevoerd, waren dit er nog tien. De trend lijkt onomkeerbaar. In 1965 kenden de Eskimo’s nog honderd woorden voor sneeuw.

An extensive linguistic study of 1,000 Inuit has found that the number of words for snow in their language has been reduced to three. In 1996, the last time a similar study was conducted, there were ten. The trend seems to be irreversible: in 1965, the Eskimos had a hundred words for snow.

(Apologies for the poor quality of my translations from Dutch…)

The cause is apparently plain to see:

Flemmo te Gader, linguïst bij de Radboud Universiteit in Nijmegen en verantwoordelijk voor het onderzoek, luidt de noodklok: “Als deze trend zich doorzet hebben de Eskimo’s over tien jaar helemaal geen woorden meer voor sneeuw.” Te Gader wijt de ontwikkeling in de eerste plaats aan de opwarming van de aarde. “Als er minder sneeuw is, heb je er ook minder woorden voor nodig."

Flemmo te Gader, a linguist at Radboud University in Nijmegen who was responsible for the research, sounds the alarm bell: "If this trend continues, in ten years the Eskimos will have no more words for snow at all." Te Gader attributes the development primarily to global warming. "If there is less snow, you'll also need fewer words."

Similar statistical tendencies are noted closer to home:

[Irma] De Ruijter [van de universiteit van Harderwijk] vergelijkt de ontwikkelingen met het Nederlands. “Het kan erg hard gaan met een taal. Zo is recent gebleken dat Feyenoordsupporters anno 2011 30% minder woorden hebben voor ‘doelpunt’ dan in 2001.”

[Irma] De Ruijter [of the University of Harderwijk] makes a comparison to developments in Dutch. "A language can change really quickly. Thus it has recently been shown that supporters of Feyenoord had 30% fewer words for 'goal' in 2011 than in 2001."