Friday, 28 January 2011

Funding cuts

Funny how Scotland and the North of England are having lots of deep cuts, but the South of England isn't so affected. In the Scottish Review, Alf Young writes:

"...two weeks ago, on 13 January, we were told that, 'because of the most dramatic reduction in public spending imposed on Scotland by any UK government', what we can expect from the government and Scottish Enterprise in the year starting this April is just £2.9m. That represents a cut of 69.5%. It couldn't be much more dramatic. Indeed I have asked the chairman of Scottish Enterprise and Scottish ministers if any other body is being asked to take a bigger cut. It is out of all proportion to the squeeze being imposed from London. In cash terms, the overall Scottish budget is being cut by 4.5% next year. The enterprise, energy and tourism budget, which includes overall funding for SE, is down by 5.9%. I have asked of an explanation of why the cut we are facing at Riverside Inverclyde is an order of magnitude or more greater than any of these. But so far no explanation has been forthcoming. Our other funder, Inverclyde Council, could have decided that it too would cut its contribution next year. Like all Scottish local authorities, it is also facing a squeeze. But it has confirmed its planned contribution of £2.1m. Beyond March 2012, we simply have no idea what money, if any, will be forthcoming from the Scottish government and Scottish Enterprise. We have been told this is a one-year settlement and no commitments can be made after that. There is even talk of a review of regeneration policy. We will do what we can to deliver on our reduced budget. But the long-term commitments we were given when this regeneration challenge was first offered and accepted don't now look worth the paper they were written on."

Wheels within wheels. Politics: the art of broken promises.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Bye, bye, libraries

There once was a society that banned books. Not all books. Just some books. It was Germany. It was Nazi Germany. Nazi Germany did not like books. At least, Nazi Germany did not like some books. So officials piled them up and burned them. I wonder what they would have done to the internet?

Our society does not value books. It does not protect its library services. LAs, looking for ways to cut more things of value to ordinary people (besides, of course, ordinary people's jobs) are rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of getting rid of libraries. Unless, of course, those people who are the backbone of the land - the volunteers - will offer to step forward and run the libraries.

The writer, Philip Pullman, is on it here:

Did you linger in libraries when you were an emerging writer, Mr. Pullman?

I bet you did.

Were they important to you?

I bet they were.

When I was little, libraries, to me, smelt of holiness. They were a sanctuary of quiet, and an oasis of learning. They were respected. They were well-thought of. They were necessary because you just couldn't manage to buy ALL the books you might ever need.

Everyone can use libraries. Any age. Any stage. Come. Try a book. Even buy a book.

They give imagination free flight. They make you laugh. They flick the conscience. They stimulate your desire to know and grow. Books do.

So get rid of the libraries. Great plan.

A pivotal service in our country.

Shows that we are literate. That we read. That we seek knowledge. That we love knowledge. That we cherish knowledge.

And we meet other people in those places. And, if we have a home that's expensive to heat, we can sit reading in peace until closing time, and save a few pounds on the gas and electric in the flat or the house. Then there's always the social side of it. A smile from a toddler as he reaches that big fun book he's had his eye on since he first got strollered through the library door. A nod from the elderly gent combing through the newspapers. It all adds up to community.

Isn't too much to ask to spare them, is it? The staff probably get paid peanuts; our library building is old and tired, but still has life and value.

Do we value important things in this country?

No, only money. We only value money. And what value has money?

What indeed?

Saturday, 22 January 2011


'"Democracy is the best political system of slavery ever invented. In a democracy, the slaves believe that they are "free" and have a "voice" in their affairs. Thus, they are willing slaves and, as such, the possibility of a revolt is much less than in an overt system of slavery." - Christopher S Hyatt, 'The Psychopath's Bible'


I was led to this website by a friend on facebook. Thank you, Lou.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Asking those questions

I have asked myself those questions: Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter?

They're interesting questions. What does it mean to live, for example? Have I ever skied or surfed? No. In some people's eyes, then, I haven't lived. Then, again, other people might live to ski or surf and, if they can't, they might feel that they haven't lived. What does living mean?

I think I loved. I've loved a few times, not terribly successfully. Occasionally, for a long period. Other times, I haven't done badly. I totally love my children too, but I watch that they don't get smothered by my care and mother love because I want them to have their own lives, their own loves, even if I don't approve. They need space to make the most of my mother love.

Did I matter? Presumably, I've made a difference in a few lives. Given a bit of advice that's helped. I've certainly been free with my examples of home education and encouraged people to think outside the ticky box system that we call education. I'd like to hope that, should I die tomorrow, some folks would shed a tear or come to the funeral. But I wouldn't force them. Funerals aren't fun. At least, I'm not a fan of them.

Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter?

I don't know.

The jury's out - hopefully for a long time to come. I don't think I'm ready to answer those end-of-life questions quite yet. Get back to me in thirty years or so. Eerie, though, how we hoard our ambitions and put off doing til tomorrow what we should have done years ago. Maybe it's a wake-up call to think of the questions we'll be bound to ask ourselves at the end of our journey.

Or maybe I'll ask them later.

Procrastination - an art I'm getting good at.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

At the end of life

"At the end of our lives, we all ask,


Brendon Burchard

Live today.

Love today.

Make a difference.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Ten weeks in a nice warm place

I'm due to go to Nottingham on Monday to visit a very dear friend who has been asking me for, at least, fifteen months to visit.

Not exactly the ten weeks in a nice warm place that my other friend mentioned in her phone call. She wants to go. But she is trapped by her duties and the service she gives to her family and her dog. She can't go. I know of no one more deserving to have a ten week holiday than J. Her tolerance, patience, warmth and friendship is enduring.

I would like to be super-rich to send her on a ten week all expenses paid cruise.

I'd like to send everyone on a ten week all expenses paid cruise or vacation. Out of January. Out of the cold. Out of the thoughts of Christmases past.

So everyone who reads this please imagine that I can send you on a ten week all expenses paid cruise or vacation at a time of your choice. Just kick back and imagine it for a minute. Feeling good? Me too.

I feel good when other people feel good. I feel happy when other people feel happy. We're all connected. Every one of us.

So to everyone who reads this blog I wish you the most exciting, spiritual, amazing, fascinating, easiest year to follow your imaginary ten week cruise.

Just imagine what we could manifest if we really concentrated on everyone's good...