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2017 General Election: Don’t Vote Corbyn, Vote For Something Better Instead.

Even though I have a passionate desire to see the NHS saved, the levels of poverty reduced and to see inequality re-aligned, I will not be voting for Jeremy Corbyn this week. I say this despite being fully aware that the Daily Mail headlines about Corbyn are such ridiculous lies that fiction writers across the country are breaking into cold sweats through fear that they’ll never top such works of fantasy. I do it in full knowledge that the weasel faced, squirming, leech that is Jeremy Hunt is bordering on the blatant in his efforts at selling NHS to big Dave down the pub for a snifter of Vintage port and some Camembert, I say this too despite soundbite evidence that Theresa May has plans to make the UK a playground for oligarchs whose empathy levels are only matched by half sunken breeze blocks shouldering the burden of crude sheds in patchwork fields.

I will not be voting for Jeremy Corbyn, Theresa May, Tim Farron, Caroline Lucas, Nicola Sturgeon or the one resembling a bollock that lost its fight with a ladyshave, but still insists on hanging out with the bigger bollocks.

I’ll be voting for Labour, yes Jeremy Corbyn might be the leader, but the party has a lot to offer and just enough of a divide to keep it grounded enough for informed, impassioned decisions that have long term success at heart. I also know Jeremy Corbyn has some radical views about the economy, monarchy, nuclear weapons and taste in Home Secretaries, but I’m not voting for Diane Abbot or Jeremy Corbyn, I’m voting for the collective minds that make up the Labour Party. Angela Raynor’s ideas for education in the UK that come from actually being in the same schools and predicaments that 93.5% of us were/are in. Jess Phillips who is tirelessly campaigning for women’s equality, in particular the help available for victims of domestic violence, abuse and rape. David Lammy who stood firm in his beliefs, despite them being unpopular and against the “Three Line Whip” wishes of Jeremy Corbyn, he defied the Brexit vote because his constituents didn’t vote for it nor did he believe it a good move for the country this all potentially risked his job, Chuka Umunna who took Boris and ‘Pob’ to task over their promise to fund our NHS with the newly recovered windfall from leaving the EU forcing them put their ‘card on the table’ about the issue, Clive Lewis who has said many incredibly sensible, down to earth and people centred things when quizzed on the tough issues others choose to avoid by using ‘fluff and nonsense’, even Dianne Abbot who made it through Cambridge and parliament despite the indoctrinated sexism and racism that still follows her around like an angry EDL marcher high on the colourings in orange squash, that has to count for something.

For me this shows courage of conviction and a direction that isn’t driven by the placement of a decimal point at the cashpoint, better still this is just a few of the many people who want to make a genuine difference.

The policies in their manifesto are going to be a source of much annoyance for many wealthy people within the UK and beyond. It will be under permanent scrutiny so as to expose any weak points and ‘confirm’ Conservative adoration of personal wealth is a justified model for society. If they pull it off then we can look forward to a roll back in the privatisation of our NHS, the re-nationalising of rail services which for too long have been using tax payers money for expensive things like trains, tracks and compensations while a faceless company trousers the profits, bankers paying taxes on their phenomenal bonuses and the forcing of big companies to pay a corporation tax based on the transactions rather than the profits. An additional crackdown on unscrupulous tax dodging that would help redistribute the vast sums of money being hoarded like Gollum with the ‘One Ring’.

This will cause ructions in the sort of circles that every day people know exist, but have no control over. It’s costed and aligned to suit more than the top 5% which contrasts the previous dogmatic beliefs in ‘trickle down economics’ that have left us up shit creek without any water let alone a boat and paddle.

If you’ve ever said the words “politicians are all the same” or “They’re only in it for themselves” then this is a time to go against that and defy the imbedded Stockholm Syndrome that everyday people are so bitterly burdened with.

Will it be a Utopia with swishing butterflies and pretty flowers in warm summer breezes, of course it won’t, the extreme left might dream of such ‘perfection’, but in the real world this manifesto shows a fair degree of how relative such a concept is. If their time in power only takes back control of some of whats been bastardised since the ‘I’m so left leaning I’m now telling everyone to vote Theresa May’ work of Tony Blair then we might be able to open doors for our children’s future without the Albatross of wealth and postcode being a deciding factor. We might too be able to see our elderly looked after with the same level of dignity that they looked after us, people might get to have life altering operations without having to wait until they are old enough to only have the them once before dying, we might also be able to enjoy the twilight years of retirement without fretting over whether to freeze or starve this month. It’s a chance to hold our heads high as proud ‘Brits’ showing the world we can learn from our mistakes, adapt and set new aspirations to unlock the vast potential this ‘little’ island has to offer. The two pound coin says “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” I disagree, we don’t “stand on” we stand with giants, shoulder to shoulder, sharing wisdom, strength and a morality that can set standards of justice and equality the world over.

This isn’t about a horse having water taken to them, or leading them to it, it’s about unloading some of the weight, sharing it more equally and reaching fresh pastures alive enough to enjoy it.

So if you’re going to vote Conservative because you believe that lower taxation and ‘belt tightening’ is a better solution then please put a cross in their box. But if you’re voting Tory because you believe that all the problems this country face are because of feckless layabouts, immigrants, lazy doctors, the EU, disabled people or any other group that this government has endeavoured to scapegoat then I urge you to look into the savage financial cuts in the face of hypocritical expense claims, the arms being sold to Saudi Arabia that are then used on countries we send aid to and the whimpering U turns over the Tangerine Tosspot, social care and self employment taxes. There will undoubtably be some ‘good eggs’ in amongst the collective, but they are outweighed by the polarity and connections of their empathy deficient peers. The times of being able to say one thing and do another have to end, so to do the sweetheart deals that are being handed to psychopathic companies that will stop at nothing to meet shareholders demands. Forgo this opportunity and we risk swilling around the same tired pig troth looking for scraps tossed aside by those with self imposed superiority, only this time things actually could have been different.



When is Pedophilia not Pedophilia? When it’s Hebephilia: a predatory sexual attraction to early adolescents. It’s no less legal, no less morally unjustifiable and to act upon it is to be no less of a monster.

At a time when the moral values we’ve wrestled with for many years are showing signs of gaining the upper hand, a glimpse into the mindset of one man shattered the fragile, opaque veneer like boiling water on cold glass. The volatile depths revealed are darker and more sinister than many could have imagined.

Milo Yiannopoulos made a “controversial statement” about the age of consent, arguing that at Thirteen an adolescent boy can be mentally developed enough have a consensual, sexual relationship with an older man. Going so far to say these relationships are actually healthy and form sturdy ground for future sexual developments and relationships. His argument was aimed primarily at the “gay community”, thirteen he said was the age at which a young man would develop the curiosities and actively probe for answers to the sensations harboured deep within. Citing a study, but not naming it, was justification for his statement that early adolescents, particularly boys, were capable of consensual intimacy and in fact actively searched for it. A study by The British Journal of Psychiatry in 2003 and published after review in 2004 concluded that males and females were similarly effected and age of abuse had little correlation to the likelihood of being effected mentally. (the study was conducted with abuse victims aged 16 and under)

‘Pro-Pedephilia’ Ken Plummer former Head of Sociology at Essex University and still associated with the university published a personal blog where he hoped to change the worlds view of pedophilia “by applying sociology to the field of paedophilia we may partially relativise it, humanise it, normalise it, and politicise it”. Mr Plummer showed an understanding that quantitive differences between the two distinctions exist, stating “studies suggest that relationships with children under 6 are rare – and that relationships with early adolescents are the most common”. He also said that the relationship between Pedophilic/Hebephilic adults and their targets is about the “love of children” and not “they’re after fucking little kids, ain’t they”. This statement is precursor to his theory that the very notion of pedophilia as coital is a spin by the press to demonise those who harbour such feelings. Further down Mr Plummer reasoned, “Indeed, in some cases the child can be seen as “inviting” the relationship, and – according to Mohr – “most children could have avoided the experience if they wanted to”. At the time of writing I couldn’t find the actual Blog post but I did find a blog written to Essex University asking about Ken Plummers status that recited excerpts from the blog as well as a bibliography from published works.

Another angle more focused on Hebephilia and what the author fells it is not, rather than is. Robert Lindsay on a personal blog site “Beyond Highbrow” wrote an article in 2014 decreeing that “All Normal Men are Pedophiles” In it he argues “The definition of a pedophile is a man who is exclusively or preferentially attracted to minors age 12-under” pointing out that the age wavers somewhere between 11 an 13. He also said “the truth is that many pedophiles are actually hebephiles” and later went on to decree Hebophilia to be a subset of Pedophilia that is more a crime of statutory rape than a crime against a minor. Mr Lindsey is strongly apposed to Hebophilia being linked to Pedophilia, an anecdote about someone he once knew traveling the world in search of twelve to fourteen year olds to have sex with, preferring the Third World because the chances of arrest are minimal. This person he says “was not someone I would call a Pedophile”.

Counter arguments to these sentiments are many and varied. People from all walks of life have debated, studied and worked on solutions to reduce and punish the actions of sexual predators. Pro or even borderline theories are few and contradictory in nature, some are even linked to convicted Pedophiles/Hebephiles. There is little sensationalism, but a preference for the distortion of words and their meanings.

The mental health ‘bible’ DSM5 rejected an attempt in 2011 to have Hebephilia put in as a mental illness.The editors of the DSM rejected the proposals on grounds that it is not a mental disorder but a sex crime. By defining Hebephilia and Pedophilia more succinctly it is hoped that a clearer, more effective solution can be afforded to the mentally disordered Pedophile and the predatory Hebophile who has no regard for legal and societal boundaries. It was also thrown out because to find younger people attractive is not uncommon, Calvin Klein found years ago the human psyche has a natural lean towards youth when it came to advertising. The music industry is a prime example of this. Justin Biebers boyish looks made him a popular choice with a post teen generation, so too did Britney Spears when she appeared provocatively dressed as a schoolgirl in her first music video. However, to take that further into the realms of sexual harassment, uninvited sexual contact and rape is a violent criminal act that should be treated as such. Extra attention needs to be paid though with the adolescent mind. It is in a constant state of fluxing and the ever increasing pressures all the way from peers to parents are difficult enough to navigate. Young peoples brains are still physically moving and these formative years where children transform into young adults are tough on the body and the personality being framed.

After an overview of research Laurence Steinberg, said in 2005 “Adolescence is often a period of especially heightened vulnerability as a consequence of potential disjunctions between developing brain, behavioral and cognitive systems that mature along different timetables and under the control of both common and independent biological processes. Taken together, these developments reinforce the emerging understanding of adolescence as a critical or sensitive period for a reorganization of regulatory systems, a reorganization that is fraught with both risks and opportunities.” The adolescent mind isn’t incapable of making informed decisions, but the combination of big changes and limited ‘wordly’ experience leaves them susceptible to manipulation, it is one the reasons pre-teens and teens are targeted in the first place. The meteoric rise of the internet and permanently attached cameras also opens young people up to a new wave of exploitation and blackmail that even a ‘street smart’ adult would have difficulty escaping once trapped.

The issue of Hebophilia not being the same as Pedophilia is true in description and legitimacy of mental disorder, but it carries the same risks of harm, the same risk of psychological damage and the same life sentence to its victim; it is a sex crime for good reason.

It must not be normalised or defended through questionable semantics, if as Romeo said “that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” then the same must be said of its thorns and how deep they cut.

Willing Frogs in Boiling Water

Each day new reports announce the failures of our masters and commanders for what seems to be their inner sanctums, while we fight amongst ourselves. Right or left, liberal or conservative, highly educated or simply so, it doesn’t matter the walk of life, we all seem to be at a proxy war with someone, somewhere all the time. Like a fountain full of coins resting on their given sides and chinking solemnly in the transparent depths.

American politics has reached a dangerous pinnacle of hatred that teeters nervously on the brink of questionably mandated aggression. The UK’s political sphere has become bitter, jaded and drunk on power showing the sort of tunnel vision that comes with a certain level of intoxication.

At the heart of all rhetoric and bluster is the humble people, restlessly carrying out daily tasks to make life more bearable, good, bad, male, female, gay, straight, dark skin, light skin choose a sub group as you wish, but people just the same. Mass collections of individuals that harbour wide ranging passions, beliefs, personalities and agonising responsibilities.

A chronic tidal wave of psychological manipulation hits the general population on a daily basis that is so adept at forcing particular reactions, if it were a person they would be held up as a God. Supermarkets frustrate shoppers so as to increase impulse buys, advertising outlets use words that are carefully placed to make us feel inadequate, media outlets pander to populist emotion all while 30 second video clips inform us what we are missing out on with the latest TV, computer, car, phone, furniture or holiday. Once we have bought the projected object of desire we are then subjected to a more invasive manipulation that trespasses into our hearts and minds. Age is no defence to this onslaught either, all that changes is the medium through which its received and the effective relevance to life the ‘thing’ might have.

After years of conditioning to follow the will of consumerism the populations needs and desires aren’t perhaps as true as they once were, a reliance on being nudged towards what we should be lusting after this week has become deep seated within our collective psyches. Psyches that through mistakes, adversity and uncharted territory have made some of the most beautiful creations imaginable. Incredible inventions from metallic cylinders that slice through the air into the once unreachable dark void of space, to the minute controllable tubes that can navigate the tiny, evasive corridors of the human body. For better or worse this level of  innovation and dogged determination to succeed has lead to a fragile collection of atoms becoming the strongest and most dominant creatures this world has known.

The wonderful things we have invented, produced, thought and done are always marred with an overwhelming ability for hate. For all our achievements we regularly take frustrating side steps because of a difficulty to open up positively when it comes to change or differences. It could be a natural, ancestral built in Homo Sapian trait the we have somehow never fully shaken off. Only unlike the coccyx bone or the ability to move our ears slightly, this has the potential for some atrocious actions that leave scars to deep to hide. It could be natures simplistic answer to the quandary of fish marrying birds but having nowhere to live. If we naturally avoid what doesn’t match then it cant ever be a problem, except that is we aren’t fish and birds. We are the same mammal with varying appearances, abilities and customs, the problem of ‘where to live’ can only come down to preferences. There is both inherent good and bad within all humans and their never ending sub categories; it is, in possibly the saddest way, one of the many things that make us all the same.

One of the other defining features of the Human race has been its ability to encounter a problem and use an apparent superior intellect to either prevent it from happening or recover from its effects, swift adaption through understanding has been the lynch pin to our forced evolutionary path.

Years of investigation, testing, collating and feeding curiosity has given a wealth of information that has improved our diverse ways of life. Data analysis has been a vital tool in this process, what good is acquiring the information if it can’t be interpreted and shaped into a usable, sometimes abstract, product. As people we have a better understanding of human nature than at any other point in history, we know what happens to make us feel good, we know the effects of colours, words, glittery surfaces, even how small something is before our finger tips cant register it anymore. This understanding has brought many positive effects to our lives, but it also has increased the power of a weapon thats immeasurably more dangerous than any mass destructive weapon ever invented.

Propaganda and mass populace manipulation. We understand that certain colours can induce fear, certain words can effect a deep cognitive process that puts people on edge or affirms a belief. Certain undermining descriptions coupled with seemingly quantifying imagery can have a profound effect on human tolerance. Telling stories about large swathes of ‘different’ people committing acts that stand outside our boundaries of what is acceptable, quickly turns good, honest people to be combative, aggressive and inward focusing. Yet more stories of a hidden will behind certain faiths that would see all humans live and follow a singular direction combine this with exaggerated figures and fear propagates until it creates a conceptual foe that is always out of reach like the ‘pot of gold at the end of a rainbow’. This triggers our natural reaction to aggressors, fundamentally it could be seen as an early stage of the “fight or flight” mechanism. Recently the wider reach this sort of mis-information is nothing short of frightening, not least because eventually it feeds itself from within. Like a fire on a hot day, a small spark and a gentle nurturing creates a challenging, unpredictable force that we are all ill equipped to handle.


As a collective we are being manipulated for the ill will of a few people. We are being shot to and fro like the steel balls of a pinball machine, never knowing which direction is next and always confused by the repetitive ‘flashes’ and ‘loud whirrings’

People who have found dark corners within echo chambers of digitised conversation are playing ‘Chinese whispers’ and with each new resonation our values erode a little bit more. Brazenly, people in positions of power are doing as they please without enough good opposition because the smoke screens they throw up smell like vanilla and we are hypnotised by the sickly sweet draw. Culminating in a society that adheres to oligarchs who would see us enact their bidding from the safety of ‘Ivory Towers’.

Tools such as psychometric data, fear, confusion, controlled aggression, rhetoric rebuttals and outright lies are being used to infiltrate our individual lives, with a view  to create a malleable, unquestioning population, similar to those with devout faith in a deity or holy text. Coupling “gas lighting” with abstract objects of fear creates a system of subtle chips to what we hold dear and sporadic seismic thumps to the very walls that protect us. For a long time the people who had access to such powerful tools had some sense of morals, a low bar maybe, but there nonetheless.

The political climate has changed and the moral standing coming from people of power is questionable at best, they may seem like small trees compared to others in this particular swamp, but their roots go just as deep and their thirst is far greater.


I have no qualifications to speak of, limited prospects other than what I can carve out of this life through hard work and honesty. A combination of Mental illnesses leaves me at odds with myself and life in general. In a constant state of readiness for catastrophe that gets wearing, eventually pushing me into a deeper depression than is customary. It also makes me constantly question everything I think and feel for justification and reasoning, that means having toes dipped in opposition pools and a seat in more confirming waters. A need to entrench and counter my own thoughts and conclusions introspectively through as broader canvas as possible.

Condemn Questions at Our Peril

Comedian Lee Hurst tweeted a hypothetical scenario this week based on torture. Not about it’s ethics or practicalities, but simply whether or not torture would happen in a given situation. In essence the question was posed as an “experiment”. One reply late last night, noted that the balance so far had been ‘pro torture’, that later swung more decisively. With more concrete anti-torture replies citing an understanding that it doesn’t work, coupled with moral feeling. This concurs with Intelligence agencies across the world who have denounced the practice, even Donald Trumps newly appointed “General ‘Mad Dog” Mattis” has said it doesn’t work.

It is interesting though to read the reactions to such a frightening question of:

If your baby was strapped to a time bomb and you had the terrorist, he told you that you had 1 hour. Would you torture them for answers?

A Simple question, fraught with wide arching variables and moral quandaries, not least of all because it was posed on a public platform where information is stored for years. Many proffered “diversions” and rightly so, the basis for torture shouldn’t be reduced to hypothetical decisions of principals versus unconditional love.

The chances of there being a situation so simple are slim, theres more chance of a Loose Women panelist getting away with wearing the same blouse for a week and no one noticing. A more in depth look raises point that the question assumes all present facts are accurate. Your baby is actually strapped to a bomb, the terrorist is telling the truth about timescales, they know where your child is and that you are physically capable of torture. Torturing somebody for information can only go so far too, they may tell you what you want to know, but how can you be sure its true? Do you then torture then some more to check they are being honest? What if you find out they are lying? What happens when the person realises they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t? All the while a clock is ticking and you are no nearer to knowing whether your hearing the truth or frantic attempts to make the pain stop.

The answers given to the question can’t be taken as accurate either, Twitter is a public ‘arena’ so the Bystander Effect/Mob Rule plays a part. The opposite will also be true with Cognitive Bias/Dissonance. A combination of the two leads to fairly flaccid, two steps forward three backwards conclusion and lastly who knows what they would do in such a situation. Many find it so frightening they don’t even want to think of it let alone debate it on an open forum surrounded by strangers and trolls.

The culmination a day later was more than a few comments offering to re-enact Rumble in the Jungle, a little odd considering the subject, and more affirmative answers. For his part Lee Hurst thanked those who replied with what he perceived as an honest “no”. Whether his thanks were because of backlash or the intention to genuinely question ‘our’ perceived inner-nobility is difficult to figure and to some extent pointless.

As an “experiment” it is flawed of that there is no doubt, but as a question it highlights the flaws in us all. Many seemed to find this hypothetical notion abhorrent and he seems to have been vilified as a man who condones torture. It has to be asked though if a person can entertain a thought or question does that make them guilty by association? If that were the case curiosity will claim more than just cats. He regularly answered with one or two words, either  “diversion” or “a simple, yes or no”. This appeared to anger a lot of people as the variables weren’t being valued and the answer wasn’t sufficient enough to make an informed judgment. There is certain irony to that as I’m sure intelligence gatherers go through the same painful backwards and forwards during every interrogation.

Although tempers have frayed, offence has been taken and violence was threatened, it was right to ask and similar questions should be asked more. Thought patterns whether anecdotal, fact or border line delusional must be debated and done so amicably. We are well passed the times of standing in echo chambers, nodding sincerely while being pleased with what we hear back.

This question was devised because torture is being forced back into the public domain, only this time it’s not from slowly ascending whispers carried along secret corridors. This time we are having it forced upon us, we’re being challenged to either stand up and shout back or sit down and let a temporary few degrees of separation protect us from having to think about the unpleasantness. At the core it’s a time when inaction is as bad as action, Christopher Hitchens phrases it better than I with “Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. The grave will supply plenty of time for silence.”

People often say how is it that nobody stood up to fascism  around Hitlers pre-reign and during. How could they be so blind to what was going on around them, it had to have been obvious. The answer is painfully simple, they were fed unchallenged propaganda through the radio, forced to digest lies while all counter arguments were stifled. That lead to apathy, apathy lead to tolerance, tolerance lead to ignorance, ignorance lead to acceptance, acceptance lead to intolerance.

Intolerance leads to atrocities and suffering that few in the western world have experienced. Don’t condemn the question or its source, argue it, debate it, disprove it but don’t let it be condemned to the hidden depths where it remains unchallenged and unapporachable. When its abstract open up to it, consider it and get informed about why it’s being asked. Self-reflection and reasoned fair action will give context to those who have been systematically manipulated by propaganda and ‘alternative facts’. To close off debate because of assumption will be like throwing sticks at a fire in the hope of putting it out, take away what fuels the flames and it will surely wither and die.


Badlands to No Mans Land

Four days after an EPA employee retweeted a post about Donald Trumps low inauguration attendance in comparison to Obamas and following an initial order to cease social media interaction the Trump Administration has ordered an effective ‘gag’ order on federal tax funded agencies. The order prevents agencies from giving out any information to the public without prior government screening.
In addition all grant funding and federal hiring has been frozen for the EPA, rendering scientific research and aspiring environmental researchers without financial backing. According to information obtained by the Associated Press no prior consultation with any relevant department was sought.
An eight point memo was sent out to senior staff detailing the new restrictions they must adhere to:
1)No Press releases will be going out to external audiences
2)No social media will be going out. A Digital Strategist will be coming on board to oversee social media. Existing, individually controlled social media accounts may become more centrally controlled.
3)No blog messages.
4)The Beach Team will review the list of upcoming webinars and decide which will go forward.
5)Please send me a list of any external speaking engagements that are currently scheduled among any of your staff from today through February.
6)Incoming media requests will be carefully screened.
7)No new content can be placed on any website. Only do clean up where essential.
8)List servers will be reviewed. Only send out critical messages, as messages can be shared broadly and end up in the press.
A series of protest tweets were published by a rogue on the Badlands National Park Twitter page. These detailed various facts from the agency about climate change including key statistics with regards the condition of our planet. As of writing this they have been removed and the feed has been reset to an earlier time stamp.
Donald Trump has been vocal about his disbelief in the science communities findings on our climate conditions, announcing at a rally his belief that climate change was invented by China. The move advances theories around Donald Trumps wish to prevent scientists from providing potentially conflicting information around fossil fuels. A similar order was tabled by the Bush Administration back 2006 after a long serving scientist called for “prompt reductions in emissions from greenhouse gases linked to global warming”.
At a Press conference held on Tuesday White House Spokesman Sean Spicer was asked if the EPA had been gagged. He replied “I don’t know….We’re looking into it…I don’t think it’s a surprise were going to review the policies, but I don’t have any info at this time.
On the same day reports that Donald Trump had signed another executive order allowing the heavily protested Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to go through after the former President Barock Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers had ordered for alternatives to be investigated.
The White House Website has been updated with previous policies on climate change omitted. In their stead a revised action plan that includes the repealing of the Climate Action Plan, first established by former President Barack Obama back in 2008 as a way to reduce the effects of climate change.
The White House website claims the abolitions will generate more money for American Workers, purporting that $30 billion in additional wages will “greatly help American workers”. This figure is widely contested so too is the prospective number of jobs it will create.
The revised energy policy plans to tap into the existing domestic supplies found in the shale deposits, this is often extracted using the controversial Hydraulic Fracking method, although the White House policy does not mention Fracking.
The closing paragraph “A brighter future depends on energy policies that stimulate our economy, ensure our security, and protect our health. Under the Trump Administration’s energy policies, that future can become a reality”, shows a signal of what markers Donald Tump intends to pursue.
This could be yet another incident where the Trump administration is attempting to censor facts, running it congruently with a succession of “alternative facts” that bolster reporter Lauren Duca’s early suggestion that Donald Trump is “gas lighting” the people of America.

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Rowena Cade “O, brave new world that has such people in’t!”

On the cragged edges of an exposed cliff peak sits an agonisingly almost finished odeum, grand in stature and unassuming of nature. The Minack theatre has been a sought after venue for many productions, the unheard of aspire to play there and a venue of choice for more seasoned theatrical productions.

It has a story of success through adversity that would rival many of the great playwrights best efforts, a love story flecked with moments of quiet elation and equal parts bitter loss. The tame crescendo being a marriage of balanced books and powerful lasting memories. A journey covering 80 years of dogged grit and determination, culminating in something truly remarkable with an essence of eternal life.

Rowena Cade was a slight lady with big ideas and a knack for creating something extraordinary from the humblest beginnings. Born in 1893 to a cotton mill owner, she spent her childhood in Devon, a self confessed ‘tom boy’ the outdoors presented the perfect setting for an enigmatic mind. She told a story of climbing through her bedroom window onto waiting tree branches only to fall from top to bottom landing with a thump. Her first taste of theatre came when her mother cast her in a production of “Alice Through The Looking Glass”, it was a resounding success drawing crowds of 27 and 43 across the two performances, though a far cry from the sort of audience sizes she would later attract, it cemented her love of theatre and productions.

The Cade family moved to Cheltenham in 1906 when her father retired, they moved to a small village where James Cade bought a house that was previously owned by the great novelist Sir Walter Scott. It was considered inevitable they would move to there as her fathers brother was Headmaster at the Cheltenham Junior School and her mother was born there. They lived an idilic life, quiet, comfortable, nothing of any significance happened while there. It was the outbreak of war in 1914 that shattered life as they knew it, like many others the family was cruelly splintered. Rowena worked at the Sir John Gilbey estate as a selector and breaker of horses destined for the front line in France and Belgium. Her father went off to fight alongside his brothers in arms, sadly he didn’t return. The Cade family were left in mourning and missing its patriarch, her mother sold the family home and moved them back down to South West England, with a family line dating back some 300 years it seemed fitting to return. The next few years were fitful and restless, never staying long in any one place, renting all the while.

Whilst living in the village of Lamorna she came across a cliff top section of lower Cornwall, just a stones throw away from Lands end. She paid the relatively grand sum of £100 (around £11,000 in todays money) and she brought Minack Head. Rowena set about the building of a house for them using granite sourced from the local St Leven Quarry, she would later extend the house to accommodate her sisters return from Australia.

She joined a drama group, entertainment that far down south was mostly ‘homemade’ and they put on a production of “A Midsummer Nights Dream”. She didn’t have a speaking part in the play, instead immersing herself with all the important goings on backstage, decorating, sewing costumes, she had a flair for creative crafting. One of the plays faeries recalled a time when Rowena was in a field hurriedly altering costumes with her sewing machine nestled in the grass at the eleventh hour. The play was a success, enough to inspire them into putting on another performance the following year. With a new found confidence they decided on “The Tempest”, but having thoughts that the same venue might not have the same feel for this particular works and other potential venues being potentially too small, Rowena tabled using Minack Head. The serious, dramatic backdrop would be more fitting and space for seating was ample. Everyone agreed and work began creating the first theatre for their play. It took Rowena and the others six months to build their first crude staging, it was lit with car head lights powered by Minack House fed through long wires and whatever batteries they could find. Hurdles clambered over, another successful performance ensued. Rowena and her gardeners, Billy Rawlings and Charles Thomas, set to work building something bigger and more permanent. Rowena became an apprentice and labourer, together they ferried rocks, sand, soil and stone to create a seating area and the stages. Every winter for the next seven years Billy, Charles and Rowena would make progressive changes and touch ups to their ever evolving venue. Rain, wind or snow didn’t hinder the ceaseless growth of the Minack. Years of performances had earned a good reputation as a unique theatrical destination.  However, Rowena was to be dealt another blow as war had broken out again. She took on the role of billeting officer this time around, consoling children and parents alike as they were moved to relative safety outside of London. The Minack was in a prime location for mounted sea defences in case of German invasion, the land was seized and cordoned off to the public with barbed wire. A pill box was erected and manned constantly, if the opportunity presented itself she would crawl under the barbed wire and tend the grass. At the end of the war a film company wanted to use the sight for a new project they had. They had heard of the Minack prior to war starting and felt it would be perfect for their film “Love Story” with Stewart Grainger and Margaret Lockwood. They were plagued with storms and eventually abandoned the site in favour of a replica studio mock up with less problems to overcome. Prisoners Of War were sent in to dismantle and clear away what was left of the Armies defences. A combination of so many people and forced neglect had rendered the theatre almost unrecognisable, it was likened to its earliest stages of set up. Rowena and Billy were left with a shell and the prospect of starting from the beginning. Tackling it with the dedication and tenacity of sculptors they began the hard process of rejuvenating their labour of love. The reputation was spreading again with more visitors and many groups looking to perform there, it had become something of an iconic location for amateur dramatics societies. With its ever growing crowds Rowena and Billy decided that it was time separate the Minack Garden from the Theatre. A 90 step pathway was constructed that led from the shoreline to the penultimate head, huge granite rocks were hauled to the top throughout the early fifties, finally separating the two parts. Rising costs and dwindling budgets had left Rowena and Billy unable to afford more granite, ever the problem solver Rowena would carry sacks of sand up from the beach at Porthcurno to use in the cement. She had developed a technique of carving intricate patterns into the cement just as it was about to set. This method was applied to shape the many hundreds of seats that adorned the Minack, each had a title from one of that years plays and their respective dates.

Billy died in 1966, Rowena had a single seat with his name carved in by way of a memorial to her visionary assistant. Tom Angrove became her new builders mate, eventually retiring in 1993 some ten years after her passing. He recalled how she would carry bags of sand all day, in all weathers, only residing herself to a car in later life. One story he shared was of 15ft wooden beams salvaged from the shore at Porthcurno, it had washed up from the wreckage of a Spanish Ship. She carried each beam up by hand, again from bottom to top, perhaps attempting to reverse her childhood bedroom escapology attempts. Customs officials came asking after the wood, they approached Rowena and asked if she had seen it. She politely told them that she had and that she had taken it up to the theatre. She invited them to come up and see for themselves. They declined, scoffing that a “frail looking woman” such as herself couldn’t possibly have managed such a feat and they left. Whilst carving the wood for use as a changing room she remarked to Tom “well I didn’t tell them a lie now did I”.

Year on year the Minack was tweaked and changed, with every nail and step placed to better suit its performers and patrons. Her pioneering cement work is still in use today, a testament to her innovative mind. In the later part of her life Rowena brought a cottage and some land around the Minack, this gave the opportunity to build the ticket office and increase the parking again. She died in her mid eighties leaving all that she had created to a trust fund that had been set up for the Minack. She tried in vain to get the National Trust and a London drama school to invest in the Minack, but no one was biting due to the unattractive takings. She did manage to get a short period of help from The National Council of Social Services, but they withdrew support after three years of negative profits. She carved out her final years work on a meagre budget, using her determination and her acute sense of ‘the show must go on’ to continue.

Her work didn’t finish with death either, after she passed sketches and intricate notes were left. Ideas of how to cover the Minack during rain and other inclement weather were left in her stead. As of yet no one has taken up the plans and assert her final designs.

The Trustees took the reigns and built a coffee shop, ticket office and small story board history of this incomparable location. After many years of not making money, Rowena often had to top up the years takings with her own money, the Minack is earning it’s keep, opening up the venue to day time visitors has been a master stroke. With 150,000 visitors each year the venue and its many intricacies are marvelled at by young and old alike. In addition 80,000 people visit each year to watch a play, the backdrop of closing sun and rising moon, coupled with live music and a warm blanket provides a night of entertainment more unique than even its creator could have envisaged. It certainly would have been many a playwrights muse.

The enduring philosophy is to carry on the noble direction Rowena had journeyed, by providing good quality production that is varied and to a high standard. It’s open to anyone who will strive for perfection, whether a small unheard of amateur group or a large theatrical production. Its final goal is to keep the Minack a venue affordable to all, whilst still maintaining the site and improving it year after year.

To have built such a vast, complex structure in an open area of imposing Cornish cliff edge shows a courage of conviction I can only admire, to do it twice after seeing it trampled the first time shows a tenacity and drive that anyone can aspire to. The small, frail lady that built a grandiose, hearty theatre for all to enjoy will forever be cemented into history as a heroic visionary with a back bone of iron and the will to match.

Medicine for the ‘Immoral’


Can we decide who should and who shouldn’t receive a costly treatment based on their life choices?

I recently launched myself headlong into a debate about whether the PRep drug should be rolled out. A debate centred around NHS Englands decision to turn its back on the obligation to provide PRep to people who feel they may be at risk of contracting HIV. The murky water that lashed against the shores of sanity seemed to be sullied with discussions of morality and justification. The argument was predominantly broken into two categories; those that felt condoms were enough of a barrier and by choosing not to use them the risk is a burden they must shoulder. The others questioned whether it was right to deny those most at risk a safety net and whether it was right to hold back treatment of HIV because of perceived promiscuity.

I foolishly entered the debate feeling as though anyone in the ‘for’ camp had pitched their tent high on the moral slope, safe from the rising tide of archaic judgment and persecutory rip tides. Peering down into the gloom of archetypal people throwing moral missiles at unyielding, light footed knights of justice and equality. My only argument at first being that the high court ruling was not an outright support of gay men, but in fact support for anyone who was at risk from contracting HIV.

The next stage of my ‘gallantry’ is where it began to unravel. I charged head long at a gentlemen for his outright objection to supplying a costly drug when “Avastil” is underfunded and unavailable on the NHS. My arrogance was to believe that the ol’ boy had deep rooted anti-homosexual, anti-promiscuity theories that were ingrained from a life of attending church every Sunday like a righteous soldier of faith. I have long held the belief that people can harbour atrocious prejudices if they tell the good lord that they repent for kicking the dog on Friday because ‘er’ in doors’ hadn’t gotten dinner ready on time.

I had judged all of this from one simple sentence questioning whether the NHS could afford an expensive drug and what would be sacrificed.

I questioned the gentleman on his conviction that it was right to refuse the drug based on a theory that they were to blame for their ‘hedonistic’ lifestyle. To try and justify the cost over the saving of a life to me seemed as though a finite numeric value was being placed on the heads of red blooded people capable of good and bad in equal measure. I replied with many well meaning and forceful counters to these arguments, cutting through the injustice with a sword of salvation for the under represented.

This went on for a bit with many others chiming in to offer different tangents as to why this person could have so much courage of conviction when talking about who is more deserving. It was at this point I felt I was being a shit, this guy was so strongly holding onto his opinion that I had to justify why I had the right to tell him was wrong. I began to ‘pull my punches’ and re-write my counters several times, omitting personal jibes and character assassinations, replacing them instead with alternative perspectives and justifications outside of moral notions. Others rightly questioned whether all people that sacrifice their bodies to aggressive illnesses should be excluded also, the answer of course was not needed as it’s already happening and will do so for the foreseeable future.

I couldn’t wrap my liberal sensibilities around the idea that one person is more deserving than another simply because they have lived a life of “thou shalt not”. Could it really be so simple? Could we really ‘play god’ because someone has been good in a relative sense? It just didn’t make sense, a good person inevitably has bad traits so how can mere mortals decide who has the right to medicine based on moral judgments? “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” as it goes. He cast his stone I threw my intentionally noble, but actually inconsiderate boulder back.

I suddenly realised that what he was talking about was an emotional thought process. To know the name of a drug and its effects is one thing, but to be able to use that name so abruptly and flippantly can only come from experience. To ask the question of whether its right to deny one party for the appeasement of the other could come from bitter experience not deep seated prejudices as I had arrogantly assumed. I swiftly attempted to make amends by raising my thoughts on his experiences without brazenly casting aspersions, I had after all cast more than my fair share already. A small ping and a red square appeared, a simple like, nothing pretentious just a like. My apology had been received, whether it had been accepted I don’t know nor do I wish too, for as long as I don’t know I can’t absolve myself from the judgment I had cast on a person I didn’t know. I was instantly humbled and there I wish to stay for I am human, fallible, flawed and ultimately in-perfect just like everybody else.

I did ask one thing to the gentlemen, a favour I didn’t deserve but I had to deliver in the hope of easing the trouble for all concerned. How it was received again I don’t know. I asked him not to be angry with the humanly flawed people for whom the debate was aimed at, not to be so heavily focused on who is more deserving of relief, but to be more focused on who is eating more than their fair share of the preverbal pie, for they are the real hedonists.

Can we decide who gets respite based on their life choices? That was my question, futile, simplistic and greyer than a British summer. Ultimately a rhetoric question, ‘we’ don’t get to decide.

The decision will not be made under a veneer of moral debate, nor will it be made on whether the ends can justify the means. It will be made based on a series of numbers, to dull for easily bored minds it will be plotted into block coloured bars so as to make the numbers more palatable, the higher the number on the y axis the more likely it will be rolled out. While we naively debate lifestyle over injustice they will debate net versus gross, we will share experienced stories based on first person perspective, they will share a golf cart on Thursday at four, we will pontificate whilst they propagate. We spend more time fighting each other in a Facebook Thunder Dome, desperately trying to re-take control of our destiny than we do holding our erroneous emancipators to account.

When did the placement of a decimal point hold the key to salvations we all deserve? Money makes money, it doesn’t make the holder judge, jury and executioner. We are not inanimate secondary colours filling cascading rectangles on a bar graph, we are people, committed to making mistakes and learning from them, muddling our way through life trying to balance what is right and what is rewarding, sadly they don’t always symbiotically travel.