Category Archives: weekly news and thoughts

Do we get the politicians we deserve?

With the Panama papers still being big news around the world, and the repercussions already ousting Iceland’s Prime Minister, along with a stream of other high-profile leaders being in the spotlight, the scandal has finally arrived on Britain’s shores and landed on Prime Minister David Cameron, and his late father who benefited from one of the exact things Cameron says he’s been trying to clamp down on. Now, does this put the Prime Minister in an untenable position? In short, yes. Even though it was before he was Prime Minister, the fact that he and his father took part in tax avoidance is hugely hypocritical for a man who won, in part, a general election on his claim to clamp down on such practices.
On top of that, there is the fact that he thinks £30,000 is a trivial amount, when the average income in the UK is less than that, at around £26,500, is appalling and just shows how out of touch with ordinary people he is. What makes it worse is that the truth (that he benefited from this scheme) had to be dragged out of him, in such an embarrassing way, and only after multiple questions from multiple people. This is just another damning insight into the elite Tory club now running the fifth largest economy in the world.

Continue reading Do we get the politicians we deserve?

Is Gap Racist? A picture paints a thousand words.

No doubt, by now, you have seen the new advert from Gap depicting three white, middle-America girls, and one black girl. In the picture, two of the younger, white girls are performing ballet, gymnastic moves whilst the third, larger, white girl is resting her arm on top of the head of a younger, smaller, and passive black girl.

The picture itself isn’t overtly, racist if you actually look at the picture itself, with your first glance it is simply four girls and it’s difficult to argue it is deliberately racist, as there is no divisive racist message. But there is a deeper message, which may be Gap, and the photographer in question didn’t realise – which is more indicative of American culture which is where the problem lies.

The fact that Gap, such a large organisation, probably didn’t realise how it would look through the eyes of at least 20% of the American population is unbelievable and hard to comprehend – but it’s clear to see that they didn’t. The question isn’t that the image itself is racist, the question lies in the underlying theme it is conveying, and the symptoms it reveals lurking in ‘accepted’ culture, which is a damaging message. The subordinate and passive role depicted by the stance of the young black girl is this is only half the subliminal message within this shot. The other equally worrying message is the gender issue – so Gap is saying girls can do anything yet uses stereotypical imagery of female performance, ballet and gymnastics; the strange text and odd imagery, feeds into American deep-seated problems of racism and sexism, all used for marketing neatly in a single image.

You might disagree, and I am sure Gap will, but in my view the image itself isn’t sexist or racist but why it evokes a response is that the image is indicative of deep-seated problems in American culture. It doesn’t take much of a leap of thought for Gap to have promoted an image that showed equal status, ethnicity, and some of the girls doing things less stereotypical!! Perhaps writing, composing, a science experiment – not just exercises!

Sundorne School Shrewsbury

Another school visit and this week. I met the pupils at Sundorne School.  I was greeted by the librarian, Ella Reynolds, who made me very welcome, and met pupils in Year 7 and 9.  They worked really well in the creative writing workshop and came up with some great ideas for story lines including time travel, zombie monkeys, crystals and robots, just for starters!  Thank you to everyone at Sundorne. I enjoyed working with you and I hope you enjoy the books!

Church Stretton School Visit

Thanks to everyone who made me so welcome yesterday at Church Stretton School.  I was looked after by a group of year 10 guides who did an excellent job. I really enjoyed sharing my books with pupils in year 7 and year 8  – the classes were great to work with and pupils had some really imaginative ideas in the creative writing workshop sessions.  Well done and thanks to everyone, staff and pupils, at Church Stretton School.

Church Stretton entrance        The_Horse_Lord_Cover_for_Kindle

The Week 7th February, 2016

Seeing as it’s Super bowl weekend and six nations kick off I thought I would go with a sporting theme and delve a little into the world of football – UK and USA style. I thought I would talk a little about the money in sport; and is it fair? A fairly robust question so here goes.

In the UK we have a serious issue with a black hooded demon in the form of the premiership (football, or what folks over the pond call ‘soccer’) The premiership dominates every facet Continue reading The Week 7th February, 2016

The Week 31st January, 2016

So a week has gone by and, following on from last week, it’s time to switch tack to the Republican Party and the madness that is going on with them.

I’m just going to talk about Trump this week and I may do the others at a later date, he is going to take up a fair bit of time! I will have a look at why he is attracting attention, a glance at his back story, and lastly, I will give my own opinion

From the off Mr Trump has blown the political scene apart, or has he? If you read anything that anyone is currently writing about him, that is usually how they start. But is that really true? I disagree. There have been plenty of other presidential or vice-presidential runners who have said extreme things – and try to talk ‘down with the folk!’ – it’s something we’ve seen before, so it’s not his style, as that isn’t unique, so what Continue reading The Week 31st January, 2016

The Week, 24th January, 2016

Hello and welcome to the week, this week I am going to talk about the US presidential race, seeing as this will take the main stage for the next year, and our lack of proper winter here, and the heavy snow fall in New York, it’s definitely a time to look longingly across the pond!.

So from the off I think I think I will talk about the democrats this week, a nicer start as the republicans are such a bag of noisy cats, it’s going to take to time to figure out what they are actually on about. So will this be Hillary’s year? Continue reading The Week, 24th January, 2016

The Week – 17th January 2016

Hello welcome, new readers and old. My first for 2016 and I thought I would start off the year with a look at the entertainment media. Yesterday I went to watch the new Star Wars, viewing it rather late compared to most people, that was because I wasn’t in the slightest way bothered about seeing it. To be honest, I didn’t want them to make a new one as I didn’t see the point, with how the last of the original left the story, but I went and it was good, I did enjoy it. It was the same story as Jedi returns but it was pretty good.  John Boyega as Fin being the only character I enjoyed and he was one of the main reasons I thought it was good, without his character I think it would have been a bit dull, although the special effects were excellent, as you would expect, so overall Star Wars was ok, not terrible – OK but yet it is the biggest film ever and has grossed 3billion already. I can understand why Star Wars is huge,  the hype, the merchandise,  the amount of Star Wars games and ships that I have played on or with throughout my child hood, like most other people, stands as testimony to it being part of our lives. But who is this new Star Wars aimed at and is this the final death-knell for the drive to get any new epic adventure ever being produced – or are we locked in the world of remakes?

My thinking on this is simple. Film-making, in particular, only bets on a sure thing, due to the huge cost in making a film. J. J. Abrams has made a career out of ‘sure’ things. I think the next epic may be over looked because publishers on all fronts have retreated behind this – banking only on a sure thing so few take risks as they used to. So what does that mean for the creative arts?  Well, if you are like me and crave new and exciting things you might be a bit screwed, to put a finer point on it. As it looks like we are just going to have re-boot after re-boot thrown in our faces  for some time ahead. This is a problem going forward, especially for my generation, as we will not be able to shape the next set era with our ideas and dreams because we are just re-using the same stuff that our parents and grandparents watched, thirty-odd years ago.  I just wish the industry, on all levels, would be a bit more creative, and be willing to take risks. Luckily I wasn’t that fussed about Star Wars in the first place, so it wasn’t too upsetting driving home – it was OK, and I expected it to be just that. We have two more to swallow  down. I do hope John Boyega’s Fin gets a hell of a lot more lines in the next one as it is good to see a new character emerging. Anyway, this is just a pre amble to my weekly thoughts.  I am back in the swing of things now, took a little break as I have been working hard on a few projects after Christmas so that is why I have not been able to do this for a while. But back on track now so see you next week and, as always have a good week!

The last of 2015

I hope you have had a great Christmas, although I know those affected by the flooding in the UK have had a tough time.  Hopefully the weather will settle and they can get some normality back quickly as we all move into 2016.

I have been very busy over the last few weeks working on my latest book, a new venture into the experiences of five people on the same day – D Day.  It is a fictional story but based on the real events of the day. I have just finished the story and am now onto the editing phase – so there will be the inevitable re-drafting of a few more versions before it is finished!

This is a departure from the world of the Riders of the North – I am continuing with that series – but I have always wanted to do a book on the Normandy landings, which my grandfather was part of, so his experiences form part of the story.  I have been immersed in this project, so have been rather off the radar in the run up to Christmas. I hope those of you who have enjoyed my work in the Riders of the North books will be interested in my new work on D Day.  I hope to have it available by Spring or early summer of 2016.  Here is a little flavour;

War is hell. There is nothing glorious or heroic about killing, or being killed, for the ideology of other men. No greatness in that, none at all.

That was my thinking after I came home and the memory of fighting had subsided. It was the reason I could never return to Normandy, although my daughter often asked me too. A part of me had always wanted to, but a bigger part of me had not wanted to see it again – the beaches and the blood. I had always found it difficult to understand the other veterans who marched so proudly passed the cenotaph each year, with their medals, so proudly – men and women who surely had seen what I had seen?  I didn’t want to remember the chaos, the smell, the blood. I did want to forget, not remember, or glorify it – but that was just my view, my way of coping. I was just a quiet, well-intentioned, and well- mannered young man from North Wales, working for the Russian oil company and looking after my widowed mother before Hitler forced me to travel across Europe-.

Enjoy what is left of the Christmas holiday and best wishes for a Happy New Year!

New start

 

Lakelands School Visit

I must say a big thank you to all Year 7 at Lakelands Academy School, Ellesmere – what a great bunch of people you are! I had a lovely time talking to each class about my books and I was very impressed with the imaginative ideas pupils came up with when we did the creative writing session. Throughout the day I was made to feel very welcome.
 
I was lucky enough to be accompanied by Anna from Ellesmere Library, she outlined what is on offer at the library. Anyone in the vicinity really needs to check out Ellesmere Library – it is a hub of activity – and worth keeping in these dark days of library cuts.  Mrs Jacques did a great job in organising the day and her pupils were a credit to her.