Friday, April 30, 2010

In All Seriousness...

The British general election campaign is rapidly becoming a laugh a minute. Yesterday, was the biggest belly laugh so far when Gordon Brown shot himself in the foot. (Metaphorically speaking - although I'm sure there's a lot of folks who'd be happy if he did literally shoot himself in the foot - and if happened to miss and hit his head I'm sure they'd be even happier.) Yep, Gordon's credibility took an even bigger nose dive when he was caught by a sound recordist calling an elderly widow, a life long labour supporter, ex council worker and carer, Gillian Duffy, a "bigot."  It would probably take a miracle now for Labour to be re-elected. Tonight's live debate is Brown's only opportunity to redeem himself and since he is neither a good orator or charismatic I think tonight will see the rise of David Cameron and possibly the rise and rise of Nick Clegg.

It's been an utterly fascinating election so far and in one fell swoop, 2 weeks ago, the face of British politics has changed; Britain is no longer a two party political system but a three party system.

The party that first started out as the Social Democrat Party back in 1981, a centre-left splinter group from Old Labour and which aligned itself with the Liberal Party to fight the 1983 and 1987 general elections as the SDP-Liberal Alliance, and who later officially merged as The Liberal Democrats in 1988 has finally become a serious contender for government.

After nearly 30 years struggling to bring their voice to the electorate, what changed to make The Liberal Democrats a viable option?


A fortnight ago, the first of 3 live debates in the format of the American head-to-head confrontations, was aired. Nick Clegg, young, good looking and with an enthusiasm of a still untested Liberal Democrat ideology has taken his party to the brink of government. No one knows what election day will bring and now that Brown has hammered the nail into his own coffin there's no way of knowing how embittered Labour supporters, shocked at the shoddy treatment of Gillian Duffy, will vote. There was talk of a the possibility of a hung parliament but now? It's a tough call for even the most hardened of political observers; it's not inconceivable that either the Tories or The Liberal Democrats will pull off a landslide victory. Much depends on tonight's televised debate on the economy.

In the last election I voted Conservative. This was chiefly because I'd met my MP (Member of Parliament) on several occasions and felt he was an honourable man - which he proved to be -unlike many of his colleagues who were scandalized in the expenses debacle. Voting Tory, I felt, was the best chance of keeping Labour out. Now things have changed considerably. I'd still like to vote for my current MP who has proved himself to be honest and industrious but, on the other hand, since I was a young adult I have believed that what this country truly needs is electoral reform. Had I not voted Tory in the last election I would have reached the grand old age of 45 without ever having had my views represented in parliament. That, in my opinion, is a poor state of affairs.

Since 1945 the face of this country has changed irrevocably in about every conceivable way - except politically. The Two Party system which originally was an expression of class loyalties has slowly been breaking down. British society is now more diverse and socially integrated than ever before; but where society has moved forward the political system has stood still. In days gone by the Two Party system was capable of expressing the views of the country but it now no longer has the capacity to do so. The system is stagnating and as it has done so it has become more corrupt and chaotic. The old beliefs that a Two Party system created strong government are no longer true - when governments are elected on as a little as 35%  of the vote (Labour 2005) with only 61% of the total electorate voting, "strong" government is in name only.

The truth is the Two Party system is dependent on public approval and now that the tide of public opinion has turned against government it may be the coming election which decides whether "the winner takes it all"  electoral system has reached the end of the road. The long road to this change began back in the 1970s when the euphoria that came with the creation of the welfare state, and which had existed well into the 1960s, was replaced by the often bitter realities of social and economic change. More significantly, as society evolved and people became generally more affluent, social barriers and class divisions began to break down; perceptions of class began to change.

I think there is now a growing mood in the country that the Liberal Democrats represent "change". A change not only from the traditional parties but one which advocates cooperation, moderation and stability and less polarization, extremism and fragility. While there is a common perception in the media that there is little difference between the Tories and Labour the fact is neither party is now truly representative of the people so opinions that fall outside their agendas become more extreme and less tolerant. The British National Party received almost 193,000 votes and United Kingdom Independence party 603,000 votes back in 2005; I would now expect these numbers to significantly rise next week. At grass roots level Britain is already multi party; discounting the independent candidates, 57 parties (each of whom polled over 500 votes) stood for election at 2005 election.

Now that that the Tories and Labour are on the back step they are also advocating electoral change. This is particularly hypocritical of Labour who advocated electoral change back in 1997 but in the 13 years they have been in power have failed to act until now when they can see how disillusioned the electorate have become - not just in respect of electoral reform but also in regard to their failed promise to hold a referendum on the EU. These promises of  electoral form - to the House of Lords - and not the introduction of proportional representation are, in my opinion, the last desperate measures of two parties to uphold an archaic system. Strengthening the commons, at the expense of The Lords, is only a short term to solution to a long term problem; the need for fair representation.

There are many arguments for and against proportional representation but I find it particularly irritating when people cite the poor examples and not the good ones. Britain has a long history of political and historical continuity and I believe it is certainly within our capabilities to work out a fairer system of electoral representation. Of course, there will have to be checks and balances but it's time for politicians to recognise that the country can no longer be defined as working and middle class. I would suggest that more people would define themselves as "classless" and if they advocate any party it would be more of the basis of a particular policy such as The Green Party, UKIP or parties based on regional preferences like The Scottish National Party or Plaid Cymru.

I am probably one of the many who now believe Labour are out of the running. Wheeling out Blair as a damage limitation exercise may reassure those who fall for his charm but it is naive to think that the electorate have forgotten the war in Iraq. Personally, I would be very interested to see a hung parliament and see if our leading parties can push their differences aside, as we did under Churchill's wartime coalition, and lead this country out of recession, social discontent and towards political reform. The electorate are tired of politicians squabbling like children at Westminster; what we want are the best minds in this country to work for us and uphold our innate values of  individual freedom and a fair and just society where the genuinely vulnerable are protected, where hard work is rewarded, and where it is safe to walk to the streets without fear.

I look forward to next Thursday's general election and wonder whether voters will have the courage to vote for the voice of change or whether, as the old parties stoke the fires of fear with rhetoric, it will once again be the "winner takes it all."

Hmm..this was going to be a funny post - giving up choccy was obviously a baaaad idea!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I Never Beg! (much)

Right, time to explain about my rather long absence. Well, yes, there was the problem of school holidays but also I'm afraid I got into a rather sticky situation which resulted in my being arrested and detained under the watchful eye of the authorities in one of HRH's less glamorous institutions. (And I'm not talking about Balmoral Castle - although I've heard that the tartan cushions and throws are looking a bit threadbare these days.) Hmm, anyway being incarcerated is not good for my reputation as a Housewife Extraordinaire. But the sad fact Readers is... that I was caught begging. Yes, begging.

And before anyone suggests it - I was not dribbling at Thornton's sweet counter and pleading for the last hazelnut praline. ( In emergency "Last Chocolate in Box" scenarios I just pull out my epilator and threaten the opposition with some ruthless defuzzing. If, however, my opponent is bald I produce my Spit "n" Shine cloth which usually has an immediate withdrawal effect - especially if I make a really big snorting sound.)

Well anyway, begging is not something I do often. In fact, I never do it. Yep, Mr T is extraordinarily lucky as I never, ever, beg or demand those little things that many ladies do - pampering, designer fashions, exotic holidays etc etc. Okay- that probably was a big mistake because now he thinks he can get away with giving me a foot spa for my birthday instead of a weekend at Champneys. Still, we all learn from our mistakes - and if I get a second chance and bag myself a rich sugar daddy I'm gonna demand my own chef - sod the haircuts and manicures - I just someone else to waste their life in the kitchen! Oh, and I'll also have a swimming pool - with my own attendant. ( Ho, ho.) Anyway - So I'm an easy to please kind of girl and never beg.

However...... during the recent holidays something quite out of the ordinary happened. Suddenly, out of the blue, I found myself doing something I'd never done before and caught up in an almost unbelievable situation......

....I was leisurely strolling along, when I saw him out of  the corner of my eye. My heart skipped a beat; I took a second look. No, it wasn't Pierce Brosnan but he had a similar physique - athletic, muscular but without too much brawn, and much, much younger. About 35 and what you would call pretty damn "hot".

So I sidled up to him (discreetly ladies of course - well as discreet as one can be with three carrier bags, an umbrella and two small children in tow.) And wow - was he fabuloussssssss! I took one look at his smooth complexion, the dark brown eyes like molten chocolate, the sexy full lips and I was smitten. The man was a God! Sheer manly beauty - poor Mrs T was completely, utterly, overwhelmed. I fell to my knees, the dribble starting to accumulate in the corner of my mouth and found myself pleading and begging for his attention;

"Oh please, please take me home with you! I will do anything, anything for you (except washing, ironing, cooking and vacuuming); I will be your personal slave!"

But Readers, as I looked up into his gorgeous eyes, not a trace of emotion crossed his flawless face. In desperation, I grabbed the cuff of his trousers....

" Ohhhhh please, please let me be yours! Here let me shine your shoes! You are an Adonis, please, please I beg of you- marry me!" ( Okay - so I hadn't thought it through - getting a quick divorce could be a problem - but hey he wasn't to know.)

Now at this point Readers, as the handsome hunk was still ignoring me - I'm ashamed to admit that I burst into copious tears. There was even some wailing - but I don't want you folks to think that I did not act with some dignity; I absolutely did not break wind at any time.

Anyway, as I was weeping and begging for my Adonis to take me (home) a crowd began to gather...but I'm afraid I just could not stop begging Readers; I was in complete awe of his perfect, godly beauty! I didn't care if everyone saw me on my knees, all I could think of was this gorgeous man. Then, just as was wrapping myself around his left leg, I heard a cough behind me.....

" Excuse me Madam. You do realise that's a mannequin?"

At which point I broke into even more sobbing...

"Nooooooooooo!!!!! It can't be true! My Love, my love..tell me it is not so!"

This was when the security guards arrived and dragged me out of  Harrods' menswear  window display. I'm embarrassed to say - a bit of a scuffle broke out and I was arrested for disorderly conduct and shoplifting a pair of Calvin Klein underpants.

So there you have it; the reason why I was away so long. Another sorry tale in the life of Mrs T, Housewife Extraordinaire.

Anyway, I'll be back soon with some political tales. Which may have absolutely no foundations in fact. Excellent - I like to emulate the politicians as much as possible.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Marathon Music Monday

So yesterday my mate Sy completed the 2010 London Marathon in 4 hours and 9 minutes. He was hoping to do 3.45 but was badly affected by cramps at 18 miles. Nevertheless, what a phenomenal achievement for Sy who less than a year ago was 5 stone heavier! Wow, what a guy! So far Sy has raised £3,136 for Children with Leukemia.

Marathon running is a real endurance sport and I'm completely in awe of the elite sports men and women who put themselves through such vigorous training and physical challenges to be amongst the most revered athletes in the world. Yesterday the London Marathon was won by Tsegaye Kebede of Ethopia in a time of 2 hours, 5 minutes and 18 seconds - that's about the time I take to do the washing up on one of my less enthusiastic days.

On the left is Sy after completing the marathon and wearing his winner's medal. He looks a bit wobbly to me as if he's about to topple over! Unfortunately for us, Mrs Sy couldn't find him in crowds to take those piccys I was really looking forward to - those ones with his tongue hanging out and doubled up with cramp! Hmm..pity..those ones are always good for the scrapbook!

On the right is overall winner Kebede leading the way as photographed by Alexandre Moreau on Flickr . As I watched the small but perfectly formed Kebede head towards the finishing line, sitting in the comfort of my lounge chair, time and time again an image of another very talented and petit man kept popping into my head.  And when Kebede finally crossed the line I found myself humming this tune;

Well done Sy, Tsegaye and the late, great Sammy Davis Junior! Without champions like you, the world would be a much duller place!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Faith, Hope and Charity

Hello Everyone, I'm back! I know you've been wondering where I've been been but in the UK it has been the Easter Hols and I've been under pressure from those Young Masters to be a dutiful mother. Damn their selfish ways - have they no concern for a poor woman in need of a corrective surgery and a large crate of Martini?

Anyway, later next week I will be back with all my usual ramblings and to let you know what is happening in the run up to the UK general election which is proving to be fascinating - certainly the most intriguing election campaign in my lifetime. I will also enlighten you on how I was caught begging - it's not a pretty story but will, in part, also explain my prolonged absence.

However, today I wanted to talk to you about someone who has become a very good friend of mine in the last 2 years or more - and that is Sy, the award winning writer from The Wheel is Turning but the Hamster is Dead. For those who have read his blog you'll know Sy has a wonderful self deprecating sense of humour and is hugely entertaining but he has also many other wonderful qualities including stamina, determination and a heart of gold.

Unbelievably, since last August Sy has lost am amazing 5 stone in weight by cutting out all those lovely yummy goodies and taking up running. He's a saint! I only wish I had his willpower! Anyway tomorrow (Sunday 25 th April) will be the culmination of Sy's efforts when he runs the London Marathon in aid of the children's charity CHILDREN WITH LEUKEMIA.

It's a sad fact that in our lives 1 in 3 of us will be directly affected by cancer - I know Sy has lost both relatives and a former partner through this dreadful illness. I also know there will be many of you out there who will also have suffered from loss a loved one from cancer, as I have, but I think all of us can come together and agree that there is no greater loss than that of a child and that is why I am asking you today to spare a little change - no matter how small - in support of Sy's amazing accomplishments over the last few months. You can can donate (even anonymously) to Sy's chosen charity HERE.

I know Sy has worked extraordinarily hard to achieve this mammoth feat, overcoming not just weight loss but cartilage problems and also the inevitable blister or two!

 Ouch - that looks pretty bad! Never wear new socks and trainers together!
 Working hard and looking pretty trim and athletic - a big difference from the guy I knew who dined on KFC! (Hey - what's Sly Stallone doing in the background?!)

Knackered - after completing a 10 kilometre run in aid of Run for Life (Cancer Research) several months ago.

And tomorrow, Sy aims to run the London Marathon in under 4 hours! Let's hope he can do it - but even if the clock is against him when he crosses the line it will truly be an amazing achievement! I'll be reporting on how Sy gets along next week. In the meantime I know Sy would be very appreciative of any donation in aid of Children with Leukemia.

Thanks everyone for taking the time to read and let's all wish Sy the Best of Luck!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Wacky Races - and We're Off!

So on Tuesday Gordon Brown announced the general election will be on May 6th (or rather it was leaked to the press first in true Labour fashion before being officially announced in the afternoon.)

So the Wacky Races begin! Let the best team win!

So the contenders will be slogging it out for the title for World's Wackiest Bullshitters... Oh and the governing party as well - lets not forget that!  Over the next few weeks I'll be featuring some of the more pronounced candidates and/or supporters of  the major parties taking part in the Wacky Races.

So who do we have up first as Rock Slag and Gravel Slag as the Slag Brothers in Bouldermobile 1?

Why, none other than the delightful John "Two Jags/ Two Shags/ Two Shacks" Prescott (select your preferred choice) and his son, David Prescott, who will be touring marginal constituencies in the Prescott Express Battle Bus. (Seriously - that's what Johnnie boy calls it!) Here, take a look;

Wow, I just love Prescott's charm. The way he quips "Let's stuff those Tories again for the fourth time" really ticks all my boxes. Such eloquence! Such charisma! Just as well his website Go Fourth (engineered by Alistair Campbell, the former Blair and New Labour spin doctor) seems to be aimed at Labour loyalists because an educated middle class floating voting voter like moi may not fall for that kind of smooth sophisticated talk; to be honest I'm used to something a little more forthright.

Now the news is that Mr Prescott isn't standing again at the election and neither is his son who has failed to be selected as Labour candidate for for his father's constituency Hull East and Weaver Vale in Cheshire. However, Young David is joining his dad on the Battle Bus so watch out for some colourful tales in the British  press regarding the Slag Brothers in their Boulder Bus. Now I like to be even-handed; so to be fair rumour has it that Old Prescott did some good work on the Kyoto Agreement (which Mrs T is all in favour of as you well know) and Old Prescott has given me a few laughs over the years so I'll be saddened (for at least 30 seconds) when parliament is dissolved and we wave goodbye to Prescott's glorious career.

Now to enter into the true spirit of election fever I think we should have a quiz! Okay so I'll gave a number of potential faux pas that Old Prescott may or may not have committed and you readers can guess which ones are true!

Here we go:

1. Whilst Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and The Regions (1997 - 2001) Prescott was quoted as saying;

 "I will have failed if in five years time there are not...far fewer journeys by car. It's a tall order but I urge you to hold me to it."            Unfortunately, By 2002 car traffic was up 7%.

 ( Hmm... I think Prescott was actually trying to get a McDonalds built in Hull East but failed - therefore increasing the amount of traffic at the Hull West Drive Thru.)

 Anyway, don't let me put you off picking the genuine Prescott Faux pas! So, is this story  True or False?

2. In the current election campaign Prescott urged Labour supporters on his Twitter account to click on a conservative advertisement for which the conservatives are paying 50p per click to their advertisers. (Hmm....that sounds totally unscrupulous!) But is it True or False?

3. In the 2001 Election campaign Prescott was hit by an egg; he punched his assailant on the jaw. ( Oh come on - a Member of Parliament who punches a member of the public?!) True or False?

4.In 2006, Prescott apologised after it was revealed that the council tax for a government flat he occupied was paid for using public money, rather than his own private income. He repaid £3,830.52. (Over nearly nine years - hmm - I want a credit agreement like that!) True or False?

5. During the 2009 Expenses scandal it was revealed that tubby Prescott had claimed the full amount of £4,800 for food (no surprise there), £312 for mock Tudor beams fitted to his home, and the cost of fitting/repairing two toilet seats. ( Possibly due to heavy wear and tear.) True or False?

6. In 1999 an official chauffeur driven car was used to drive Mr and Mrs Prescott 250 yards to the Labour Party Conference. Prescott claimed it was because his wife didn't like her hair being "blown about" (or it could have been because he didn't fancy the strenuous walk - he'd just spent the last of his food allowance) True or False?

Hmm... I think that's enough to tax you readers this time! So, think carefully which one(s) are the genuine political boo boos???

Yes...... yes...... You're right! They all are! What a clever readers you are!!! Okay, so they'll be more from The Wacky Races shortly. In the meantime, you know what I'm going to leave you with don't you? Just think "Mrs T" when you watch......

Monday, April 5, 2010

Any Moment Soon!

Yes...any moment soon the news we've all been waiting for in the UK will be hitting the headlines; the date of the  forthcoming general election. After 5 years of Labour rule and 13 consecutive years of Labour government the country will finally go to the polls again. I'm one of many, I believe, hoping for a breath of fresh air ... and I think this country certainly needs a real change.

But before you folks start worrying that I'm going to get too serious and bore you all to death with political ramblings let me assure you I will commentating on the proceedings in my own unique manner. Now in preparation for this stupendous intellectual feast I feel I should get into the right frame of mind - So naturally I've been contemplating sending Mr T some false expenses for some shoes I've never worn, a second mortgage for a house I don't own, and £3.00 receipt for a sandwich I didn't buy. However, then I thought twice about ripping Mr T off and decided the best thing to do would be to just "lose" his credit card in the spin cycle.

But then I had another thought - why not just get out my Chrissy prezzies and get in the mood that way? So here's the first prezzie, a gift from the Young Masters;

Just in case you can't read the writing on my mug it reads; "Politically Incorrect And Proud." Yes, it's true; Mrs T is one of a dying breed prepared to say Up Yours to Mr Brown. (And indeed anyone who annoys me including Katie Fforde (repetitive books), Beyonce (repetitive songs) and Basil Brush (ticklish tail.)

Hmm... you know I've been looking closely at my mug and I think there's a slight fault.....the middle finger isn't raised.

So anyway, whilst I'm giving you the lowdown on what's happening in the UK I will be sipping my coffee (or maybe Options 40 calorie Hot Chocolate)  from my Politically Incorrect And Proud mug.

Secondly, (and this a bit personal folks so breathe in) when I go to the Ladies Room I will be using my Gordon Brown loo roll;

Yep, whenever Gordon drops a clanger - I will be dropping one too - and you know where! Yes, yes I know it's not very polite of me but remember I'm 45 - I haven't got much time left to have fun!

(Oh by the way I expect to run out of paper by the end of the first week.)

And thirdly, I will be using this;

In case you can't figure it out - it is an electronic drawing board which I got from Mr T for Christmas. Now I know I usually moan about my electronic gifts from Mr T (breadmaker, sat nav, washing machine etc etc) but I did actually request this in the vague hope that I might do something artistic - I don't know what - but I'm sure that A Level in Art will come in useful one day. It hasn't yet. Although ... come to think of it.... I do use it to pull my artistic weight over Mr T when it comes to choosing colour schemes for the house;

Mr T;  I like this green paint.

Mrs T; The cream is nicer.

Mr T;  What about this blue?

Mrs T; Cream goes with everything.

Mr T;  I fancy something a little different. How about that peach colour?

Mrs T: No.

Mr T: Lilac?

Mrs T; No.

Mr T: Yellow?

Mrs T:  Look, which one of us has got the A level Art?

Mr T: (sighs) You have.

Mrs T: Enough said. Right that's 5 tins of cream paint. 12 rolls of cream wallpaper and some cream cushions. You can have that small tin of green paint for your Airfix models. Oh.... and here's your credit card; I found it in the washing machine.

So there you have it; watch this space for Mrs T's highly intellectual guide to the UK elections. You may learn a thing or two - or very possibly - nothing!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Heavenly Thoughts

What is heaven? Is heaven something that only exists in the mind? Or is there a physical heaven too? There are so many intriguing questions about heaven, none of which we will know the answers until we make our own journey to heaven. Over at The View from Here I discuss the heaven that the authors Alice Sebold and W.M Paul Young envision in their best selling novels The Lovely Bones and The Shack in my article Stairways to Heaven: The Lovely Bones meets The Shack. Of course some of you will realise that I cribbed the title of my article from the Led Zeppelin song Stairway to Heaven which is a classic rock tune. If you haven't heard of it, then have a listen now;

But now I want to talk about that other kind of heaven - the heaven we have on earth! I guess most of us associate heaven on earth as being "in love." So many songs have been written with the themes of heaven and love entwined. Heaven on Earth by Belinda Carisle springs to mind, as does the BeeGees' Too Much Heaven and Bryan Adams Heaven. But, of course, there's the other kind of heaven;

Chocolate Heaven!

Okay, as it's Easter and lots of you will be indulging in chocolate I think we should really get into the mood with a look at some seriously chocolatey stuff from the woman who made cooking sexy, Nigella Lawson.

Blimey, that woman should be censored. She is practically making love to that cheesecake! Or is the cameraman - or both? Outrageous! I'm assuming she actually eats her own cooking - so how on earth does she look so slim and sexy?  If I ate cheesecake like that (or indeed any cheesecake) I would be the size of  the Michelin Man!

But imagine being paid to cook like Nigella? Crikey, I think even I could feign interest in cooking if someone was going to pay me a fortune to slobber all over it and use the utensils in a provocative manner. Still, Nigella may be a great cook but let me tell you when it comes to making love to chocolate - I can do things to a Cadbury's Creme Egg that put Nigella into the amateur stakes.

And I'm not even going to talk about Cadbury's Flakes.

Anyway if you really want to know what I think about cooking you need to read my blog To Cook or not to Cook. (No prizes for guessing the right answer.) However, I noted today that the lovely Nigella may soon be ousted by the younger Sophie Dahl, ex model and granddaughter of Roald Dahl, who has just started to ham things up on the BBC in a major way on her own cooking show. Soon Sophie and Nigella will be slogging it out for the title of Queen of the Cream Cheeses. Good Luck to them - I'll be watching the cooking slot on Blue Peter.

Celebrity chefs really wind me up. What the BBC needs is a real mum like me! Not one of these mums from privileged background who've probably never even seen a can of Baked Beans. They need a mum who knows what to do with a can of slushy peas, tomato ketchup and some beef gravy granules! I would be the perfect candidate -someone who could be an inspiration to the masses! Cos believe me, I can be really, really inventive in the kitchen  - especially when it comes to disguising burnt offerings.

Yep, they should definitely give me my own cooking show. There's no doubt in my mind that it would be the most hysterical show on TV. Probably not for the right reasons - but a sure fire winner anyway!

Happy Easter Everyone!

My Nominees for the US and UK Elections and Other Waffle

It's the early hours of the morning, and I have had a large gin... Late-night alcohol is always a good recipe for writing gibberish. And...