Tag Archives: UK

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.

Immigration in the UK

I’m not anti-immigration, but it’s just not right. Put the pitch forks back on there black, white letter stamped pegs, douse the petrol fuelled taps of anger, it is to do with them being different from us and that should be championed. Allowed to grow just like every other prosperous nation has been before.

In a country where the average waiting time to see a GP is over a week, a health service thats over worked and underpaid. A Police force thats under a daily barrage of cuts, political warfare and glacial culture divides the needs of such desperate people can not be effectively met. We can’t even meet the needs of our own people.

Mental health waiting times are dangerously long, people coming from such terrifying conditions are going to have mental health problems and we don’t have the capacity to deal with it effectively. Housing is either too expensive or not available due to costs. This leaves many with little option but exploitation and potential squaller, all the while our ex serviceman and mentally ill wonder the cold streets searching for a place to sleep.There is a good reason they tell you to put your mask on first during the pre-flight safety briefing!

The why for many is clear, the how is murky, full of misdirection and fear; the reasons have become irrelevant though. Conservative cuts have severed many public service veins and the only option now is well orchestrated political surgery, we seem to be lacking in decent political ‘surgeons’ lately.

Years of tradition and heritage are being eaten away by megalomaniacal extremists and morally deficient dictators. Stories and methods of practice are being forcibly removed with every death, diesel fuel induced stupor and mental scarring that each person is being assaulted with. Art, sculptures, scriptures, legends and myths are being resigned to ashen dust because the need to survives greater than the need for education. The only thing for many to hold onto is faith, faith in their god, faith that the west will help and faith that somewhere over the water the grass is greener. Worrying is when their beliefs are bastardised by psychopathic interpreters of holy text, people who will speak of a utopian land, rich with spoils from noble conquests all preached from their pulpits of rubble.

We do a disservice to our children and grandchildren if we bury these different values and cultures under a mountain of dirt carved by daisy cutters, we are taking away their chances to share difference and open their minds to change. That leads to certain negative behaviours becoming entrenched, the marginalised will learn what it is to be hated and hate in return, whilst the idealised indigenous learn what is to offer indifference instead of compassion. Safety in numbers becomes an easy tool for survival and sections of the country become secularised breeding grounds for ill prescribed rhetoric and dangerous action.

This should be a damning wake up call to western politicians who wax lyrical about moral values and shared responsibility. Those words are now cheap, unavailable and inconsistent with reality. It didn’t have to be that way, but lack of clear exit strategies and support for countries left violated by governments and extremists alike, waging proxy wars has made it so. One day the belittled children of today will have to pick up the pieces and doggedly glue the world they once felt safe in back together, knowing that some cracks will never go back like before, some cracks will always leak and some handles will never hold a full pitcher again.

You can’t blame people for wanting to come to a land that destroyed theirs, if it has the power to ravage their life then it must be doing more than surviving, it must be edging ever closer to the utopia they were promised. A country with enough time and money to spare time they can make vast arsenals of weapons capable immeasurable damage, these countries will be safe from ever having to bear witness to atrocities like they have seen, at least for a while. Weary feet can rest, curious minds can wonder, creative hands can make and fractured families can work again to be whole.

If only it were that simple, they have to endure a new set of challenges, technology, methods and customs so alien its a life of chalk and cheese. They aren’t welcomed or honoured like invited guests. Help is hard to come by and they’re increasingly cast aside by a privileged few. Treated as parasites and likened to rats by nature as well as living conditions. A natural reaction is to revert back into survival thinking, they aren’t going to prosper and “pay their way”, it’s like offering to save a drowning person and throwing them a brick. People will still want to come though as it doesn’t matter how green the other sides grass is, if yours is all but gone.

Each £22,000 Pave Way and £105,000 Brimstone missile is £127,000 that could have gone into rebuilding rather than destroying, defending rather than obliterating and educating rather than diminishing. These weapons have their place but the time of ‘throwing rocks’ from a distance is finite, negotiation and planned assistance are in prominent need, not chronic ‘parti pri’ peacemakers with money on their minds and cyclonite in their pockets.

City of Lights Festival Truro

After a nerve racking year the Truro light festival went ahead and was superb. The theme “tell me a story” was encapsulated perfectly by the resident artists and attending school children alike, combinations of gigantic willow weaved marvels and gentle mood setting smaller pieces coming together for a procession of lanterns that is truly a sign of Cornwall residents creative flair.

Layered in between the lanterns were light lashed dancers, marching bands and even a lady twirling curved light batons as though she was a 21st century Samurai.

Huddled in bustling groups the spectators mingled an hour or so before the parade, the rows only got deeper and deeper as we waited. Old and young stood in the bracing coastal wind drinking hot chocolates, chatting idly and cuddling fur lined coat collars.

Funding difficulties had left the future of the twenty year event hanging in the balance. Costs of £42,000 for crowd controls and other costs had left the event looking like it wasn’t going to ‘be’ back in August this year, but with the injection of funding from local businesses and other notable outlets like the Truro City Council and the Business Improvement District it did, to the relief of many. An option had been floated earlier in the year to hold the event as a static festival in the local Victoria Park, although a pleasant location the theatrical brilliance of a parade is what makes this community event really special.

The support offered by the public for the parade was humbling and very much appreciated. I watched as a homeless, bongo playing gentlemen who had earned a few silver ‘nuggets’ stopped one of the bucket rattlers to offer his share towards the evening. Many revellers happily stopped to chat with the ‘Bongo’ man, stroke his dog and wish him well, his thanks was also touching.

Gazing around the scene in front of me the troubles of daily life melted away for this night and its message of beauty in tradition and the importance of creativity in adversity. Three generations of our family watched and were left with an indelible impression of the magic light and community can create, leaving us with our own story to tell many times over.

The City Of Lights Festival organisers are hopeful that the charitable donations from this years event will go someway to enabling its return next year. Much the same as this year it’s future is still uncertain, although hope remains that this fairly infant tradition will be around for generations to come, inspiring the children of tomorrow to realise the great big dreams they harbour inside their wonderful minds._dsc2679_dsc2688_dsc2721_dsc2743_dsc2735_dsc2754_dsc2757_dsc2761_dsc2765_dsc2771_dsc2785_dsc2779_dsc2788_dsc2790_dsc2796_dsc2804_dsc2807_dsc2824_dsc2829_dsc2838_dsc2841_dsc2847

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.