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Sing Up!

The following events are based on a true story.


Picture the scene.

A veteran music teacher towers above a group of Year 7 girls who have come along to a singing club. The group begin working on a new song…


“Sing it louder!!” the teacher taunts.


“Enjoy Yourselves!!” She screams.


The girls are looking at the floor sat in perfectly aligned chairs. They are unsure as to why they are being shouted at. They sing as young girls do, quietly for fear of standing out.


“Let’s take it again from the top! Sing it loudly!!”


The song is a popular classic normally sung at parties and the girls like the song. This should be easy.

They breathe in, the count begins and…


The teacher starts singing. Loudly.


Oh dear.


This wise and well-meaning owl has decided to show off her years of vocal training by going ‘full opera’. The girls attempt to join in but cannot hear themselves sing and the owl can’t hear the girls because she’s too busy screeching over the top of them, like an exploding bottle of ketchup over a Caesar salad.


“Come on! Louder! Smile!”


As the rehearsal continues the teacher is completely unaware that it is her ‘force you to have fun’ attitude that is sapping all the enjoyment out of it for these obedient and terrified young ladies.


She bullies through.


“Drop your jaw! Use your diaphragm!”


This is not a rehearsal. It is a bossing-you-around session and it’s painful to watch. Rarely have I seen a teacher this hell bent before. She is in a world of her own and is not self-analysing during this learning activity at all. She is deaf and blind to what is right under her straining nostrils. I daydream of taking the teacher to one side to “have a word” but it is above my station. I feel for the girls but there is nothing I can do. They are terrified and do exactly as they are told. They have volunteered to be part of an extra-curricular group, giving up their time only to be FORCED to have fun, to be shouted at for wanting to take part.


It was utterly depressing to behold.

“I can’t hear you! Give it some welly!”


It made me wonder… How do you knock an owl off her perch when technically she is your boss? How can her students have the fun that they deserve? Is this owl beyond rescue? Painfully, it escalates further.


“You there! What are you muttering!? How dare you talk while I am talking!? I am a grandmother you know!? I have a family and a life! I’ll end up having a nervous breakdown because of you!”


I watch the girls sit up in their chairs wondering why a cannon has been brought to a game of conkers. They shuffle uncomfortably not knowing what to say, trying to maintain their love for singing with their friends despite this aggressive outburst.


“Right! Let’s go again! From the top. Sing up!”


It’s sad. The rehearsal is repeated every Tuesday dinnertime in the weeks leading to the annual music show, and each week the instructions become ever so slightly more frantic than the week before, and the girls endure the same verbal battering. All I could do from afar was to hope that the owl might begin to open her eyes and ears one day, but the girls kept coming back every week without fail, because they did not want to let the owl down.


It is the night of the show and the girls shuffle nervously on to the stage. Loud whispers of “look at me!” resonate from the owl who is center-stage with her back to the audience, but her eyes are on stalks while she prepares the girls to begin.


They sing perfectly.


Despite being terrified of letting the owl down and making a mistake the girls show what they are made of and go for it. They give their all to the delight of the audience. The much deserved applause continues loudly as the girls leave the stage in a well-rehearsed line.

With a ‘thank God they didn’t show me up’ smile the owl flies off the stage and can be heard in the wings shouting “oh well done girls! You were brilliant!!”.


The girls emerge at the side of the hall and smile nervously, looking for their parents in the crowd.

They can’t wait to get home.


The owl had good intentions and her heart was in the right place, but she was blinded by the importance of putting on a perfect show. Her extreme methods were at the cost of the enjoyment of the whole experience for the girls. The owl was too much of a veteran to be told that there was a better way.


In a perfect world there should just have been a group of girls who sang every Tuesday dinnertime, whilst sharing their sandwiches, laughing, and actually having a good time.



I didn’t write out the recollection of this story to pick on the teacher. I wrote it out because I regret that I wasn’t able to take her to one side and reveal to her how the situation really was. I wish I could have videoed the rehearsals and shown it back to her. She was a fantastic person and she wanted the best for her students, but she was just so vastly experienced that she was unable to admit that she made mistakes and was not the sort of person who would not take it personally if you told her otherwise. I’ve worked with many teachers who have made that mistake. It’s human nature, but in education we have to always question if we are doing things in the best way that suits the students, not in the best way that suits us as teachers, regardless of our age.


You Shall Not Pass

I used to work as a secondary music teacher and music technician and despite not working in this sector any more, I have kept a keen eye on the goings on in education and felt the need to ramble a little about my own opinions on the current state of affairs. It will likely not change anything one jot… but maybe I’ll feel better for sharing.


I’ve thought for many years now that assessment and exams in education seem much more about the results serving as an advertisement campaign for schools/academies etc. themselves, rather than doing any good for the students they are supposed to be helping to be honest. The basic premise of assessment used to be “This exam will show us (and you) what you do not know, and therefore highlight what area you need to work on to improve”. In itself that is a sound idea on the surface, such as mock exams helping students to target learning, but I wonder whether the overall effect of assessing children in a final exam scenario is actually doing more damage than good in a world that is changing and developing all the time.


You would think that the first thing to change with the times would be how we educate our young people. In reality the industrial revolution or the ‘teaching to the bell’ method of running schools is strong and embedded very deeply, so we send our children to school under the illusion that this is the best way to allow creativity to blossom and for discipline to flourish. In reality I think it is madness to think that creativity could develop to its full potential in a template of tick boxes and time limits, especially when sprinkled with oodles of “is your tie on straight?”. Teachers working in schools strive to build students confidence and learning and strive to help personalities to develop, whilst the infrastructure above them goes against them and tries wholeheartedly to take that very same personality away, by making every student look the same and then assumes that everyone learns in the same way. Indeed if you do not learn in the way deemed best then surely that means you are some sort of moron who does not deserve as high a grade as someone who happened to understand that method, that day. To explain further it would be helpful to watch the following film.

This film is extraordinary and it utterly changed the way I look at education.

Changing Education Paradigms

I am very much of the same opinion as Sir Ken Robinson. When I saw this little video many years ago now, I sat on the edge of my seat and was shouting “Yes! Yes! Yes!” In my head at almost every turn. I couldn’t help but think to myself how wonderful it would be for this way of delivering education to finally come to fruition, and how freeing it would be for the students and young people who would benefit from this way of doing things, but it hasn’t happened. This video is from 2010 and yet 9 years later we are still floundering under the influence of the industrial revolution. Every time I spend any time thinking about all this I despair now at the direction that the education sector seems to have gone and therefore about the welfare of our young people.


This is the way I see it and what I have experienced.


The rules at the top trickle downwards and the teachers and students who have to live by those rules are being stifled. The ending questions that result from the latest school systems seem to be “did you behave for long enough? Did you do as you were told for long enough? Also if you are someone who doesn’t conform and misbehaves, then you are allowed to break the rules a million times in a flawed behaviour system before any real action is taken, resulting in a student being sent home, which is likely what they wanted in the first place, because they can’t stand how schools are run and do not want to be forced to be just like everyone else.


“You did not do it our way… so you are a naughty person.”


These days Schools and Academies are just a new business venture. If school B falls slightly behind then a bigger more successful school A with more money is invited to come along and “fix” the failing school B. In reality this is where a school A that is better at making itself look fantastic by finding ways to display its ‘unbeatable results’, takes over a school B that essentially ‘did not spend as much time cooking the books of results’ because it was too busy taking genuine care of the individual needs of the students in its care. The “perfect” school A then superimposes its supposed “winning formula” on to the “lesser” school B and suddenly everything on the surface is tickety-boo. Well it is not.

These takeovers never take into account the personality of the students and the surrounding area and environment that affects the students on a daily basis. The “lesser” school B is fabulously aware of all this and has been for many years as it strives to wrestle the environmental factors to its will and manages to still produce students with goals and personalities despite the background and hardships the students have been up against. It is about attention to detail. For example, the “lesser” school B knows about little Jimmy’s poorly grandma and that on Thursdays he needs to leave five minutes early because mum and dad both work up in Scotland together on Thursdays and he can’t get to his grandma’s to help her if he misses his bus that goes from a different bus stop further away. The new “perfect” school A comes in and counts 3 terms worth of missing five minutes of Thursdays lessons and reprimands Jimmy at the end of the year by soiling his attendance report with a crap record. They do this instead of praising Jimmy for his amazing community work on the school’s garden project that the new “perfect” school A is stopping at the end of the year due to “administration reasons”, and they also do not ask how his grandma is.

It is a business. The leaders at the top are business people who pretend to be people people. Underneath them are people who used to be people people, and they succeed or fail and move jobs depending on how well they turn into business people, while the ones who really run the school are the ones who learn how to make themselves look like business people, whilst secretly being people people. Without those people, the school falls flat on its arse. Underneath those are teachers who know their students and know about little Jimmy’s grandma but who are not allowed to do their jobs because that involves thinking and responsibility points and you simply can’t have teachers running around having opinions and making decisions now can you? It is completely pathetic. These days a school is a business, before it is a school. That is absolutely shite.


It seems utterly bonkers to me, to put children into boxes. Imagine if assessment was simply good grammar and basic arithmetic and the odd mock exam within lessons, and that we got into college by having a casual interview where the question was not “How did you score on your GCSE’s?” but was “What’s your opinion on this?” or “What would you do if that happened?” or “What are you watching at the moment?”. Imagine if the questions were aimed to find out if the person in the interview really wanted the college place and if the course was genuinely suited to the person… wouldn’t that be… sensible?


It has been known for a long time now that exams are a completely inefficient way of assessing someone’s capability and learning. Doing an exam does not prove how good you are at English, it proves how good you are at doing exams. The film mentioned earlier explains brilliantly how the current setup of schools lets children down as students are churned through an inefficient learning environment that removes creativity, and as students get older they are conditioned to put their own ideas aside and encouraged to do things the same way as everyone else. Not only that but they are told too often to do things exactly as the teacher says and that no other method of learning is acceptable. For example:

“Zak stop talking!”

“Sorry Sir.”

What if the teacher said:

“Zak, what are you saying?”

“I am asking Tim how to do this question because I didn’t understand, Sir.”

“And do you understand it now?”

“Yes Sir.”

“Tim, Would you like to join me and go around helping people to understand this one?”

“Yes Sir!”

“Thanks Tim!”


Schools are forced into boxes themselves and have such a huge job to actually succeed despite how they are forced to run. Teachers have to read between the lines and do a fantastic job in awful circumstances, but the system lets teachers down, and therefore students down too.

I witnessed this first hand when I was at school and am very grateful for the result in what was essentially a complete balls up. I was in a school where we were put into sets for Maths and English and Science. In English I had found myself in set 3 in year 8 and I worked hard and was told at the end of year 8 that I was going up a set to set 2 in year 9. When I started year 9 I found to my dismay that I was let down by the system. I was told that there was no room for me in set 2… and also that there was no room for me in set 3 where I used to be. You will find this hard to believe but it is completely true… I was a set 2 student, and I was moved down 3 sets to set 5. Yes. Set 5. I was too young to shout about it and complain and do anything other than what I was told… but it actually made me grow up as a person… because I met Mrs Drabble. Mrs Drabble was one of the finest teachers you could ever wish to have. She let you be yourself. She gave assignments that were creative writing… I could write stories instead of read them out loud so rather than read Wilfred Owen I was writing my own stories, one called “Escape from the Enchanted Forest”. We had to write a made up diary story like Adrian Mole, and I called mine “The Life Of Ryan”. Mrs Drabble gave me the confidence to do things my way. I did not have to conform… I could create and reach my own potential, not the potential that the school tried to place on top of me. I remain (hopefully) one of the only students ever to move from set 5 to set 2 in English at my old school.


The point this raises is that teachers have brains and learn how to teach the young people who are sat in front of them. They do not need to obey some uniform ruling that all members of staff must wear a blazer because it sets a good example. No. I do not think it sets a good example. It says “Do what you are told”, when in reality I think it should say “Consider what you are asked” and “Do what you think you should” because you are not a better or worse person because you did or didn’t wear a uniform. Children should not be told that it is not acceptable to have green hair, or that Jamie is weird because he did not conform. Students most certainly should not be told that if they work hard enough that they will be demoted 3 sets in English instead of being put in set 2. As it happens, I met another fantastic teacher in set 2, and I did well in English, but reading Wilfred Owen taught me bugger all about English. Writing “Escape from the Enchanted Forest” taught me loads about English, and more importantly, about who I was.

There are millions of ways to teach things, and schools are too often hindered to teach the main 3 ways as that normally works for 80% of the students in the room, and teachers know that if the template was different that they would change it to include the other 20% of the students, because if there is one thing a teacher knows it is their students and HOW they learn. Teachers are hindered by the powers above them, all the way up to the government, so that if they do not meet their GCSE result quota, or get enough signatures on the A Level course sign-up sheet that they will not get PAYE rewards, and will not be able to run the A-Level course at all, which will cut funding and they will end up as a one or two person department if they do not teach English, Maths, or Science, and those core subjects are bullied to teach things they don’t want to teach just as much if not more than the other subjects, so that they teach “how to pass an exam” instead of Trigonometry, Poetry or Biology. It is ridiculous.

What about Art? Music? Drama? These subjects are dying before our very eyes and all the Government seems to care about is producing the next accountant or factory worker who knows how to turn up on time and do what they are told. Where is the next Victoria Wood going to come from? Or the next David Bowie? The people who inspire the rest of the world with art and music? Surely it has to be from inspirational teachers who go against the grain and manage to reach through the administration and get the message across anyway that it is perfectly acceptable to want to make a living as a musician or an actor or a writer or a painter and to go for your dreams, when the rest of the school system is shouting… “Go for your dreams as long as it is straight into a job with security and a pension scheme and all the perks”.


The Government has a lot to answer for. Education and how schools are run has become a façade. Good teachers leave because they realise that they are not allowed to teach what they know how to teach, and they know that they are compromised. The good teachers who stay behind try desperately to sneak their own teachings in to the mix, through the cracks, in-between the rubbish that they don’t agree with teaching.


Imagine, if Sir Ken Robinson was put in charge of education in this country. An actual education specialist who knows a thing or three about how to move education forward and give power to the teachers… but no. As things stand the public vote for someone in their constituency to represent them in parliament. They base their decision on the candidate’s opinions and promises. They do not get access to the candidate’s skills in how much they know about running the NHS or the educations sector. We then elect a Prime Minister who chooses someone who has never had anything to do with education suddenly have a new job as “Education Secretary”, because that makes sense right? It is like putting a normal member of the public into an F1 car, or a Fire Engine and expecting them to be amazing at that position when they have absolutely no chance of doing anything other than a mediocre job at best. We put people in charge who have absolutely no idea what they are doing.


It is completely INSANE.


Our young people deserve better than this.





That’s A Copy? Right?

I have just discovered this latest story about Ed Sheeran being sued over similarities between a song he wrote called Photograph and a song by someone called Matt Cardle called Amazing.


Ed is being sued for 20 Million dollars.


As a singer-songwriter myself I find myself drawn to this story. It begins as many stories have before it… someone writes a song, someone else writes a different but similar sounding song, but does well with it… someone decides it must have been copied and files a lawsuit.


The laws seem to work on certain assumptions that I inherently disagree with. Here’s why.


When I was at school I studied music at GCSE and one day, during our GCSE composition module, I was sat at my table, busily writing out crotchets and quavers for my composition “Steel Alley”. A friend of mine was sat at the piano with our music teacher, going through his own composition, and our teacher was playing what he had written down to make sure his notation was correct. On hearing his melody leap forward from the piano, I cheekily quipped “ a bit of a do, a bit of a do… we’re going to a bit of a do…” I sang this quietly to the theme of the 90s Sitcom “A bit of a do” which was a sitcom on the telly starring David Jason and Gwen Taylor, and instantly our music teacher and I recognised it… but my friend did not… this was the thing… my friend had never watched that program… he came up with that same melody and phrasing completely on his own. Did it sound like it? Yes. It was exact. Did he copy it? No. No he didn’t.

We joked about how we wouldn’t be able to hear that melody now without thinking about the words I had just sung and my friend sarcastically thanked me for my “spoiler” moment… but I saw first-hand how it is utterly possible to compose the same tune as something that already exists *without* prior knowledge of hearing that tune.


In Eds case I do not see how anyone will be able to prove that he had definitely heard Matts song before composing Photograph. If a song sounds like another song, it does not prove that it was copied. Unless there is some connection between those two professionally that I am unaware of.. I can’t see how A) It will stand in court or B) How it has taken this long to surface… So I’m guessing this is a rogue accusation with no connections between the parties.


Music is a palette of colours that are organised to form a soundscape using structures and phrasing like any language. In fact, that is a good comparison to use I think… Art and music.

If two musicians use a C minor chord in their song have they plagiarized? No. That would be like saying you copied me because we both used red in our paintings.


If a melody or section of melody is similar, then the equivalent in Art might be to say that the paintings are of the same subject… for example a sky scene… both paintings have sky in them, both use blue, and white, and paint clouds… has one copied the other? No. are they similar? Probably.


This leads me to the next bit… If sounding similar does not prove it is a copy, then… who cares?


The person who is not making money… that is who cares.


Musicians do not “borrow” or “steal” music from each other as the norm in my opinion. Musicians use the same palette of colours to paint their songs with, and sometimes similar paintings are created, sometimes, as in paintings, bits of paintings might seem to be exactly the same, but as a separate entity, both are works of art in their own right, and neither can be assumed to have been copied of the other.


Plagiarism *can* exist of course when the two parties are connected beyond doubt… maybe 2 colleagues who have worked together… that is very different and is more like a divorce than a plagiarism case. Maybe it is a direct stealing of someone’s lyrics? Again very different despite the similarities, it is far easier and accepted to accidentally compose a similar melody from the restricted range of the musical language compared to the intricacies of written text and the countless thousands to one odds it would be to write something that “happens to be exactly the same lyrics for a whole verse”… Then, it is much harder to deny that a copy has taken place and as such of course should be treated differently but I digress…


On this occasion I am focusing on Matt’s allegation, and from listening to both tracks, I only see 2 paintings that look a bit similar and both have some sky in them… other than that, I really think Matt is clutching at straws for his own reasons *if* my guess that they are not connected is true.

I do not know either way of course… Maybe they are connected somehow? Maybe this is one of those record company things where someone manufactured the song so hard that it got re-worked or something… A lot of maybe’s and I guess the case will reveal the truth in time so I won’t rule out that as a possibility but I have to say, my experience of Ed so far has been very positive, and I rightly or wrongly believe that he sits and writes his own songs diligently, and that if he *thought* a song sounded like another he would have taken it further away, not copied it… just like most other musicians would… which is why I think he hadn’t heard it at all. I can speak from my own experience though, and as a singer-songwriter, I strive to compose something unique as my default. and Ed does not come across as the “shit I’m running out of songs” type to me.


Yes I know I’m not a copyright expert… as ever I am just exercising my whimsical thoughts and I will learn much from watching what happens with this case… but I expect it to get thrown out, as it should. I was rather hoping to learn a great deal from the recent Stairway to Heaven case too but isn’t it funny how that has all gone very quiet now? Hmmm. ;)

Anyway… I happen to have my opinion, on something I do not have all the facts about, but I felt compelled to say my piece because, well… I don’t think the songs are similar enough to warrant anything other than an “oh yeah”. Fundamentally, it is a different song, it is not *exactly* the same, and I for one am perfectly happy for both songs to exist, one happens to be more successful commercially, being the driving force behind the others allegations I suspect.


“Excuse me waiter?”


“I’m afraid I’m suing your chef…”

“You are? Why is that?”

“This meal uses exactly the same chicken and aubergine ingredients that I used for my own dish I’ve made for years.”



You see?

You can’t sue someone for using red. That’s fucking stupid.





I have been mulling it over for some time now, and it is time to put my sixpence in, for what it is worth.

There is now less than a week to register to vote for the upcoming EU decision. To do so, visit here> https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Now there have been a few factors to consider, and some issues that the Government want me to worry about, that I couldn’t give two hoots about… so here’s how I see it.

To leave.

I cannot bring myself to believe any of the hypothetical numbers that have been bandied around by both sides. The financial stuff bores me to within an inch of my life. I actually don’t care if I am going to be better or worse off, the simple fact is, if I thought the result of being poorer for longer would actually do something towards changing this country fundamentally with how it is run, and how it is organised, then I would take that chance in a shot… a UK where the NHS is not a political football and along with education is protected somehow, and maybe looked after by independent means with people who are experienced in their field… like having Ken Robinson involved with the direction of our education for example. If the result of being poorer was to actually change the status quo of the privileged few being protected at the top, and gave a chance at redistributing the balance of wealth in this country eventually so that the poorest are supported properly, and the money dished out where it is actually needed, instead of being used to fund a bogus conservative election campaign for example, then it would be a serious consideration… But that is not what is on the table… We are being asked if we want to leave to… take control? To regain control of our borders? To return sovereignty to our country? To govern ourselves?

This is where I struggle.

The evidence in front of my eyes, and the way my life is affected everyday by this Government has revealed to me, that this set of politicians is not fit to run a pound shop, never mind a country. Look at the U-turns that have happened recently… All schools to be academies. Oh. No not really. We were kidding. Serious issues over junior doctors contracts… we’ll just make as many people suffer as we can before doing what we always would have had to do all along. It stinks… and the one that affects me the most… health and the benefits system… This Government, are responsible for mental health in this country being completely and utterly under-funded and under-supported, leaving a ginormous hole in the nook of society, forcing people like me to live an undignified existence where I basically have to keep proving over and over to an un-qualified person that I am indeed too ill to work and whether I am worthy of having my rent paid is decided purely on the basis of who I was lucky enough to get in a dehumanising health assessment test. Myself and thousands like me sitting indoors with depression, waiting for months for treatment and merely existing in the meantime. This Government has seriously let us all down, and now they want us to politely hand control of Human Rights, work policies, equality laws, the whole caboodle… to this set of corrupt arseholes? No. No fucking way.

To stay in.

It is the only option for me. I do not feel English, and I do not feel British… I have always felt like I am European. Now the freedom of movement does not affect me quite as much as others, being that if I take another step, it’ll be the furthest from ‘ome I’ve ever been… but the benefits seriously outweigh any negatives in my opinion… I mean… What negatives? Some people, seem to think for some reason that immigration is a problem… whereas personally I believe it to be one of our biggest achievements and proudest moments… it is 2016 now… and I’ll be damned if I believe the spiel the Government and media feeds me that immigration is the cause of so many problems… I do not think it is. Lack of competency, and manipulation of the media… that is the issue, if you ask me.

I believe from the very bottom of my heart, that to be a member of the EU is to take on a role of great responsibility, and that the whole point of being a member, is to be a part of the umbrella that defends us from the very thing that is happening at the moment… when Governments get corrupt… like ours is… in the pocket of the media and the huge corporations, manipulating marketing and everything we see to maximise the majority doing exactly what they really want us to do… by making the decision as scary and muddy as possible and focussing on in-battles and ridiculous figures… it’s all a sham.

When we vote for the General Election, we also effectively choose who gets to nominate our EU representative… this time round it was the Conservatives who nominated… and so if we are struggling in the EU, then it is down to the person the Conservatives put up to represent us… in my eyes, that just means the Conservatives let us all down yet again, but half of the Conservative party are on a power trip, and they seemingly want to have a go at running the pound shop themselves. No thanks. I just have no confidence in the current Government to be able to do that in a million years.

As we can see from the investigations going on into the Conservatives election campaign, Democracy can be manipulated, through mis-advertising and loading the odds with financial weight. The EU needs to be the umbrella that it is, to ensure that joe blogs, me and you, don’t get absolutely shafted by our Government. I guess I’m saying, democracy is great, if you can afford it, but sometimes a committee mind-set is needed to protect everyone, and that is what the EU does, not as well as it should, but it protects each and every one of us despite which Government gets in power. In my eyes that is essential. Have we any idea what this Government would try to enforce if we didn’t have the EU to protect us anymore? No. But it’s a scary thought to me.

So that’s it. I’m voting in. Those are my reasons. Whatever you do, just make sure you vote, and make sure you know deep in your heart why you have voted how you decided to in the end. Just make sure you vote one way or the other… this is a big one.

All the best folks.


Kill Bill

What follows is a made up version of what I believe might be said if the terrorists of the world ever sat down to negotiate with the leaders of the western world. Although fictional… after writing it and before posting it I have to say that it feels truer than it ought to do. It is a short story designed to highlight the ridiculous position the modern world of politics has gotten itself into.


“Oh my word you are different to me… I *hate* you.”

“You must believe in the same things I believe in or else nasty things will happen to you, your children, and your children’s favourite teddy bears.”

“I hate you so much, I am going to convince someone to blow themselves up next to you.”

“That’s it now. Anyone who even looks like you, is having a retinal scan and their dental records keeping on file on WOPR, and if you so much as look at me or anyone like me a bit funny, I’m going to kill you, your children, and your children’s favourite teddy bears, until they are dead.”

“You have killed innocent people on our streets because we are free and therefore we must die.”

“You have killed innocent people on our streets because a select few idiots have decided to attack innocent people in your streets and therefore you must die.”

“Yes but you killed people on our streets and did not declare what we would need to do to be able to have you not killing people on our streets.”

“Yes well you didn’t ask. We’d like you to stop killing people in our streets.”

“Really? Well we’d rather like you to stop killing people in our streets too.”

“But we’re not scared of dying in the streets… just so you know.”

“No and neither are we… but we would rather like to get on with some shopping. If it’s all the same to you.”

“Well your shopping has nothing to do with us. We just struggle to tolerate you thinking in a different way to us.”

“Well we struggle with that too. You seem to like killing people.”

“You seem to like killing people too.”

“Oh no that’s not right! We like to make people feel like they are always about to be killed… that way, there is much less shouty business.”

“Oh I see. Well we think that when we die, we reach a more amazing place… more amazing than a mall even. It’s pretty special. They do nice food and everything.”

“Sounds nice! We think a bit differently to that. We think it’s all about making money while you are here and using any methods to manipulate everyone to make them buy what we want them to buy so that we can sell you these missiles.”

“Oh yes. Thanks for those. They came in very useful. We traded them in for some explosives and got a great deal.”

“You see! It’s all about business in the end!”

“Do you have your catalogue handy?”

“Of course! Here’s the latest in missile technology… fully equipped with cameras so that you can see which street it might go off in.”

“Excellent. How much are those?”

“About 2 oil fields.”

“Fantastic. I shall have my people sort the details out with your people. Would you like to buy some Teddy bear’s?”



Here’s an idea…

Just stop killing people.







One Formula

After the announcement that drivers are soon to ask fans to comment on the state of the sport, I find myself compelled to write my feelings, as a long serving lover of F1, to stipulate what I think needs to be considered to bring the sport back to the fans and the right side of the track.

The first issue (and these are not in any particular order) is the phenomenon of money, and how it has changed the ethos of the sport to promote an ethos of disillusionment and mediocrity. I am of course referring to the Pastor Maldonado effect. I have nothing against Pastor at all… if anything he amuses me, but that is at the cost of the safety to himself and of the other drivers. The truth of his situation is this… He has his own finances backing him, which has meant that he has landed an F1 seat, regardless of previous experience or merit. He has bought his way into F1, whilst more talented and proven drivers who do not have those finances, like Paul Diresta and Bruno Senna for example, sit languishing in an alternative line of the sport, instead of at the cutting edge where they belong. Pastor is not the first or only driver to be in this position, as many know, the sport has been setup this way round for some time now… but at what cost? It does not mean that there is no such thing as a great and talented driver who also has the required reservoir of personal finances backing them either… But the fact that the sport is littered with Teams who would struggle to exist without the finances the driver brings, regardless of talent, is a hole in the bucket of F1 and has been now for long enough.

It is fundamentally incorrect in my opinion to promote to the young people of today that those with the most money succeed and those with the most talent get nowhere without money. It is what has soured the sport and spoiled it for the past 10 years at least… people from the outside of the sport looking in scratch their heads as another Lotus flies over the bough of a Ferrari whilst knowing that sat at home somewhere is Paul Diresta… A driver who has no financial backing, but who has more talent in his little toe than Pastor does. That sounds harsh… but Pastor is the perfect example of this issue which highlights it as night and day. The simple fact is… if you have money… you’re in. That is not the right message to send to our youngsters and long-serving F1 fans around the world.

The message has to be about excellence and the promotion of hard-working your way to the top and that hard work and skill combined merit reward. Look at Stuart Bingham in World Snooker… He has served his time and earned his World title, with more public support than most snooker players have enjoyed in years, *because* he has gone out and earned it. That is no accident… it is a fundamental ingredient to successful sport. Allowing “paying drivers” to top trump talented ones who have proved their worth in the lower formulas completely undermines and belittles the very excellence that the sport should be trying to portray. The image should be to the public that F1 is the cream of the crop… the best, racing toe to toe… not the best getting a DNF because Pastor Maldonado took them off at the first corner… again. Who wants to watch a team of 500 people who work at 150% only to be shouted at whilst enabling the 500th member of the team to whizz round a track doing what they are told at 80% of their limit capacity? Not me… but I have done for too long now because I love this sport so much. F1 has been diluted, and now the sport is in how the teams cope with the ridiculous constraints placed upon them, rather than in the excellence with which they perform. Now, the sport is contrived, with Teams being shouted at to produce the goods when they already do, when in reality the winner is not who is the best, but who made the fewest mistakes.

In my opinion it should be against regulations for a driver to be able to financially assist the team that they drive for, in shares or any way whatsoever. Obviously a backing company might simply tell teams to employ a certain driver and that they will buy into that team if they do… but to combat this there should be a requirement that Teams can only approach drivers who have achieved in the sport through the ranks with victories in the previous formulas and other agreed divisions. Again, just another suggestion. At the end of the day whatever method gets decided, the overall message and purpose needs to be the priority… get F1 back to the top of excellence.

The finances in F1 have been an issue for teams for a long time now, and this does need to be tackled as a matter of urgency. I have no magic answers for how to fix this, but the fans want Manor and teams like them on the grid, for the same reason… because of the belief in sport that maybe, just maybe, a Manor Team might just earn their right to a win one day… because they’ve earned it through hard work, not because they got financially lucky. This is why the FA cup is so successful after all… this HAS to be harnessed in my opinion, to pick F1 up from its current Slim-Fast diet, and plonk it on the table as a proper Sunday roast. To achieve it, and to generate that buzz for the fans and to make the sport more accessible, prices for F1 weekends simply HAVE to come down too.

I am a bigger F1 fan than I am of any other sport… I love it more than football, more than snooker, more than rugby… and have followed it for the longest time of all the sports comparatively through my life. My earliest sport memories are of the yellow Jordans racing in the rain and when I was growing up, I wished people would ask which F1 team I supported, rather than beating me up because I didn’t support Manchester Utd. As a fan of F1 the only realistic race I could ever get to would be Silverstone… and that would cost anything from around £177 to £410. To get a good seat I would have to spend more than a month’s rent. That is fucking ridiculous. How can I justify going to something, regardless of how much I LOVE it when it is more than my rent!? I can’t. Judging by the numbers in the stands… Many others can’t either.

Do you want 100 people attending paying £100 each? Or do you want 1000 people paying £25 each. Easy maths.

Moving on I have to pass comment on Bernie Ecclestone’s ridiculous statement regarding the commentators in F1 media “speaking in a complicated way”. I’ve rarely felt so patronised as I did when Bernie made this rather odd statement. Whichever media outlet you choose to watch the F1 on, the lingo and explanations of what is happening are pitched absolutely on point. There is now an interaction between fans and commentators through social media too, meaning that any misunderstandings can be asked anyway so at all times things are kept very clear. I can only imagine the faces of Martin Brundle and David Coulthard when Bernie made this ridiculous statement. I’m sure I speak for the majority when I say, that the media coverage is actually very good on all channels, when they decide to show the F1 in the case of the BBC, but the link between fans and the sport is at an all-time high, and so to suggest that the complicated nature of commentary is alienating audiences is ridiculous… the reverse is true, the commentators from all quarters enable the fans to understand the tactics and deeper levels of the sport in such a way as to always introduce newcomers by revisiting facts that seasoned fans already know and understand all too well. The media do a great job in F1, and my only quibble is that the BBC let the ball drop massively when they underestimated the interest in F1 and find themselves squabbling for the right to show a race, sending a message to fans that the BBC don’t care about F1 enough to give it full coverage throughout the season for every race. I’ve never known a sport where as a fan you actually struggle to find a method of watching the sport I love, and many fans are affected by the availability and the recent development of paying £6.99 for 24hrs of SKY sports on Now TV is at least a big step forward, but even this is a saturation of the corporate nature of the sport… It has to come back to the fans, and currently we have to struggle way too much to be able to watch a race weekend with no interruptions or switching channels and pressing red buttons. It’s a mess, and it’s not because of the lovely commentators.

Another major problem is the inconsistency of F1. How many rule changes and attempts to get the recipe right are we going to witness as fans before we get an excellence based sport that is exciting and fair and maintainable? If football changed its rules as often can you imagine what state the game would be in now? The overall effect of the constant rule changes is what alienates fans. Commentators *have* to explain what is different this time round to last time round, and that is down to the lack of consistency of the rulebook. Safety measures are the only aspect of the rules that should be regularly reviewed… but what the sport needs is a number of years with the same rules being applied… *this* is what will bring F1 back to the fans and allow teams like Manor to have a ten year plan, instead of a two or one year plan. The ability to hard-work your way up the ladder suddenly becomes much more viable if the rules are kept consistent. I would much prefer to see a delay to the start of a season, if it meant that a time-out was made available to spend the time that is needed amongst all teams and management to finalise the rules that will be in force for a set time period *longer* than a year or two. Sustainability can only truly come about if this consistency is applied in my opinion.

As far as the big money goes, there is no easy answer, and Bernie is in a right old pickle, quite rightly. There is a status quo that simply must be broken if costs are going to be brought into the here and now, which is, that it has to be regulated from above, and some people have to accept some loses for the sake of the sport. Customer cars are not the way forward. Fans want to see talent driving the best cars in the world, not the richest people. That will BREAK the sport forever if that is allowed to happen. What must be considered is a period of finishing up of business for the current setup of how things are… but with a firm date that say from 2020, some financial regulations come into effect and that is that. All must obey. Maybe after that then there should simply be a maximum limit on spending per major branch of development. X amount for aerodynamics, X amount for brakes etc. but that if money is saved, much like in the current development points system, teams could earn extra development points in another area for saving resources somewhere else. It’s an idea.

Refuelling. It’s dangerous and expensive. I beg the sport not to do this. I don’t find seeing people engulfed in flames a very nice way of spending a Sunday afternoon, and I’m sure the person being burned doesn’t either. Despite the obvious advantages of smaller fuel reservoirs taking weight and increasing the pace of the car, I honestly believe the speed gains that are hoped for in the new proposals are achievable through different means. Horsepower, aerodynamics and fuel quality (richer mix) and wider tyres might take the cars forward by around 5 or 6 seconds which would be enough in my opinion. If refuelling does reappear then one idea might be to have the fuel tanks exactly half or 2/3rds the current size to ensure one fuel stop is required per race only. Maybe the safety requirements should force that one fuel stop to be a specific fuel stop that takes a longer amount of time to a tyre stop and observes a different pitting procedure which maximises safety. The problem with refuelling before was that the act of putting a flammable substance into a car at high speed is simply not safe when you are in race mode… accidents happen even during tyre stops, and so to not develop the old refuelling system to a modern day equivalent if we really do have to have it back in the sport would be going backwards and someone will end up getting hurt.

Tyres. Pirelli need a competitor to really give the sport a boost. If the cars are going faster, the tyres will be eaten more, and so current tyres will need to be developed anyway. I really do hope that a second and even third tyre company will come into the sport in 2017 and provide some much needed competition to Pirelli. When Bridgestone and Michelin were the suppliers, a whole race could be in the balance depending on which Tyre Company had been utilised by a certain team and that only added to the excitement of the racing back then.  I don’t know a single F1 fan who would not love to see this happen to be honest.

In any event the cars need to be quicker and the drivers need the facility to put in 100% physical effort. I don’t believe for a second that Lewis Hamilton has not earned his World Championship and that what it took to achieve that was extremely hard and demanding and it is important not to undermine winning in an F1 car in this day and age, as the current skills needed to win are just a different set of game rules where the outcome happens to have not pushed the driver physically as much as they could have… however I’d be brave enough to stipulate that Lewis himself knows that winning in this day and age is very different to Senna winning in his day… It means there is a hole in the skill set and I believe the current drivers know this and that they would love the opportunity to race “properly” at 100% capacity.

I do not believe that people want to see cars crash. The fear factor as it has been described needs to be treated very carefully. Fear in sport should come from the fear of not completing a race… not a fear of crashing and being injured. It’s because of this that I think the cars need to be a little more robust, so that a single tap to the back of someone’s wheel does not end someone’s race, but allows them to recover, even if they have lost a few places. Maybe this is too hard a thing to achieve, and I don’t know how it could be implemented, but either stronger tyre walls or wings that aren’t as sharp might be a place to start looking.

Right. I’ve made my case and I’m delighted that there is a survey that I can take part in to give my opinions and hopefully help get the sport back to where it needs to be… at the top, being the shining beacon of excellence it ought to be.

To take the survey yourself visit this link and have your own say… hopefully it will make a big difference.


Ryan Mitchell-Smith





Politics for Vegetarians

I used to be a vegetarian, many years ago… and now the election is upon us I feel like one again, only I’m in the ridiculous position of having to choose either pork sausages, beef burgers, chicken nuggets, or bacon sandwiches for my next 5 years of meals.

It turns out, that the pork sausage company only sell to its own staff… and guarantee loyal customers the best rates, by ensuring only their own staff buy their sausages.

The beef burger company only sell to the shop owners who in turn sell their burgers… with a promise that the shops selling the burgers will always be “looked after”.

The chicken nugget company are only willing to sell to the bacon and beef burger companies, as they believe chicken nuggets work better as a side order, but actually the beef burger and bacon companies end up sending the stock back when they realise the boxes are actually filled with crabs.

The bacon company are selling bacon sandwiches to everyone, and making sure that there are enough Rennie to go round if any of its customers get indigestion, whilst promising to bring ketchup and brown sauce to the table once the tea has finished mashing, but they are not sure how long the shop can stay open.

There is a vegetarian option, that normally would suit my old vegetarian way of thinking, however they’ve gone and put Quorn on the menu, and only have one shop and it’s bloody miles away from where I live.


Bacon sarnies it is then. ;)


Make It Happen

Time for another update!

I find myself part-way along a brand new journey. For a while now I have been trying to network and catch gigs which are not so much paid, but are gigs that I’m using as music therapy to get myself back out into the land of the living … Where the focus is my health and energy levels rather than attempting to make a self-employed living at this stage.

It started off slowly and of course as offers didn’t happen too quickly at first I lost a little faith and found myself at a small point of despair for a while. Since then though, I have received loads of trickling offers of little performances here and there, and the simple fact that I have managed to do each little gig so far has kept me motivated and enthusiastic to get out doing more. The wheels are finally turning.

I’ve got one 90 minute gig under my belt, despite not having the energy, and that in itself was a really big achievement. I know I can’t do that very often… It made me poorly and that’s fine now and again… But to do one of that size really pushes the energy boat out and is as rewarding as running a marathon to someone in my situation.

I’m finding that doing 45 minutes is about the optimal for me at the moment. When I finish I feel exhausted, and have to recover for a day or two, but it feels manageable. The result of a two 45 minute set meant a recovery of nearly 5 days. That’s not very conducive to getting better, really.

The scenario I find myself in is a strange one. Since September I have been self-injecting an immunosuppressant called Humira. The results of that have been levelling out, so that now my tummy is working better than it has for a year, and although not perfect, is at least in a position for me to cope alongside it running at about 80% well compared to 20% 2 years ago. The Humira has definitely made a difference there. The side-effects though, are that Humira tends to tire me out. When I inject it, I feel like a tranquilised rhinoceros. I last about an hour or two at best before being fast asleep. I sleep through all alarms and awake with a sore leg but feeling refreshed a good 12 hours later. I take it every 10 days and still feel a little dip on day 9 so may be taking it even more often once reviewed… but this does make sense… My immune system, the thing attacking my tummy, is a very strong one. Before being ill with Crohn’s I was actually very well *all* the time. Days off work were only ever toothache related before all this. The everyday tiredness is one of a few side-effects of the Humira in that since September I have felt a level of fatigue that is double what I was experiencing before taking it. Joint pain and back pain fluctuate so that some days I need to take Tramadol and others I don’t, but fatigue is the last symptom in the chain of Crohn’s… and it is a real shame that the drug I take has this effect as well, doubling up the fatigue level. I could be taking this for a very long time… and so as of right now, I really do not know when I will start to feel an improvement in my fatigue levels. Some good news, is that I’ve been found to be low in Vitamin D and Folic Acid… (my tummy just doesn’t pull the stuff from food like yours does) and thanks to our wonderful GP service I am not able to get these extra supplements until April 7th, which is a big deal, as a lack of these things has a direct result of “Knackereditis” as well. I’m hoping with these supplements that I should start to feel a new level of energy… and it is at that point when I will know I have a better chance to start thinking about making a living again. As things stand though the best description currently is this. I feel like a car battery. I plan to do a thing, wind myself up to start the engine, get there, do what I need to, but my battery runs out after the first few turns of the key. My engine slowly dies, exactly like a car engine that starts fine, and then tails off into an unhealthy cough before an almighty silence… Then I have to recharge my battery with carbs and sleep for a day or two, sometimes more before I can dream of turning the key again. That’s me in a nutshell at the moment.

The good news is I am in the half of the Venn Diagram that allows my stomach to function a little more normally, even though some things still cross over from time to time. It is the better of two evils… to have a slightly better tummy but to be more tired all of the time. Even better news though, is at least I am back in the game, and that is what it’s all about after all, regardless of which symptom is holding me back today.

The amount of opportunities that have arisen since my Facebook plea a while ago have truly been overwhelming now that some time has passed and more people are aware that I’m trying to get back out there. Even though most things are on a voluntary level, the reason I am taking them on if I can is to maintain this momentum of having things to work towards, look forward to, and to have gigging as a form of stamina building and musical therapy for me. You have to understand, that we’re not just talking about gigging here either. I’m talking about even getting out of my house to get to the shops. I have to use a trolley to lean on just to do my big shop and a guy of my build should be throwing trolleys around the aisles not resting on them.

Energy should never be taken for granted… I can tell you!

My yardstick is the walk into town from my house. On a better day I can do the walk slowly and get there without stopping, but I need to rest when I get there before doing what was planned. On bad days I get to around Westgate bridge and simply have to stop as my tummy feels like someone is stabbing me and my bum is so sore that I have to call a taxi to take me home rather than do what was planned. This changes by the day.

Despite all that I’m gigging again and loving every minute of it, because every gig is like soul food for my batteries! It’s hard, granted, but I honestly believe I will never complain about hard work ever again, thanks to being forced to have so much time off, and so to be able to sit here and write a blog about how amazing it is to be gigging again really is a huge deal to me.

The excitement of waking up and not knowing what emails are sat awaiting you is extraordinary. What opportunities sit in the inbox today I now wonder daily… Is it a gig? Is it a mentor meeting with a brew with an ace hard-working musician? Is it an offer of radio play from the album? Do I have a Paypal notification that means I have to set an alarm tomorrow to go and post out my spanking new album to someone lovely?

It’s utterly uplifting and is getting me through this limbo period more than I could have ever dreamed.

And so to the next announcement, which is a happy accident relating to all things networking and volunteering, that has really inspired me, thanks to that simple old tactic… of saying yes to everything. I am delighted to announce that I am now the new official CD Editor at Leeds Music Scene.net! :D

Many who know me have recently seen a journey of sorts into the land of writing in one form or another, whether it is as a blog, a diary, a CD review or another long-winded soppy Facebook message that thanks a million people again for the third time. My fingers seem to be happy at a keyboard, and my mind adores running away with internal monologue, and so for me I think this is a perfect fit. In terms of my health it is actually a great distraction from the symptoms to be able to focus on writing for a while even though I feel uncomfortable. I am incredibly delighted to have such an opportunity, within a group of lovely and hard-working volunteers which means that I will have the chance to hear SO much local new music, and have the chance to objectify what I hear in such a way as to give the review reader an accurate feel for what to expect from a record. Putting it simply… This is bloody exciting!! It’s something I can take at my own pace with no finances or pressures to worry about, and is also something I try to do really well… Helping people, free of charge. :D

I guess the important thing is that at least now I am able to say yes to things, and even though I cannot hope to do everything I am saying yes to, at least I am getting out and about and creating a little momentum, which in turn is keeping my health in check to a fashion. It’s a case of hoping people understand that even though I’m attempting to get out more and do more things, that it doesn’t automatically mean I’m well as such… it just means I’m refusing to let this beat me, and attempting things anyway. It does get a bit weird when people ask me how I am, that I simply can’t say yes I’m OK… But I am now able to say… I’m getting there. For someone who has been struggling for over 2 years now with this stuff… That is a ginormous leap forward, and is liable to make me write blogs like this, that highlight my gratitude for the good things in my life.

I hope I am going on about it less and less, and also hope that people don’t get too sick and tired of hearing about stuff when I do feel the need to be honest… It’s quite tricky when half “How are you doing?” questions are intended to be short questions and you know it’s not going to be a short answer… So I am also grateful for people’s patience. It is very easy to forget that not everyone lives on my wall, and not everyone sees how I struggle when I do get home and my body shuts down… leaving a scenario that feels like I’m not sure how much of yesterday’s episode of neighbours I’m in need of re-running before today’s episode. Silly… but that about nails it.

So thank you. Thank you for being understanding, and for wanting me to take part in everything and for offering again and again knowing I likely have to say no… I’m saying yes more often now… so your patience has been worth it. Please do keep asking! ;)

It seems that my patience has been rewarded too. My second announcement is an absolute belter. I have been asked to support the wonderful Antonio Lulic and the fabulous Nizlopi at Unity Works in Wakefield on May 7th, voting day. You likely know who Nizlopi are… if you don’t they are a wonderful duo who have some serious kudos and an amazing underground following after they released a highly successful song into the charts a few years ago called The JCB song.

Most will be aware that I am very good friends with Antonio as it is and so having us three particular acts on the same bill really is a dream come true for me. I feel giddy beyond belief in all honesty, not only because I’m a little star-struck… which of course goes without saying… but I am just so overwhelmed that such a lovely set of guys have given me an opportunity like this. I feel completely humbled and am looking forward to putting on a professional show and getting my harmonica out to play alongside Antonio just like the old days. Gigging with friends is one of the most amazing feelings ever. I can’t wait! *If* you don’t know who Antonio Lulic is… then feel free to watch one of my finest chums being amazing on this handy video which was on the telly!

And there we have it. A little update with some positives to look forward to, and a big dollop of thank you very much. :D

Happy Easter folks! xx

Ryan Mitchell-Smith


The Semi-Flaccid Election

The campaign to get someone into Number 10 has this year taken its journey into a brand new zone. The “campaign” is no longer an amount of simultaneously running attempts to get elected, but is seemingly one big drop of political gravy which engulfs the soggy bread of today’s British politics in one all-party umbrella ‘campaign’ that is designed to confuse, distort, and vague its way into the history books as the “What’s our policy again?” election.

What we seem to be witnessing today is the transformation of a classroom or playground tactic being put to use in a one-size fits all way in politics. To an observing ‘teacher’ trying to manage this mayhem looks a little like this;

Someone in class has said something that you didn’t quite hear but caught the back of and you KNOW it was negative and likely a swear-word but aren’t quite sure. You look to where the sound came from, but suddenly there’s a second kerfuffle a little further round the room.

Now it’s not Jo who you thought was misbehaving, it is actually Charlotte, who seems to have stolen Jessica’s pen. While Jessica makes her valid complaint, Nigel a little further down has passed on what the teacher thought Jo had said originally and now the incidents are cascading one after the other around the room, and you are spotting them one behind where you need to.

It’s a common yet rather primal group tactic that happens in classrooms when the circumstances allow… and it climaxes in its finale with a myriad of a thousand stories of who did what to who, who said what and when, with absolutely no chance of sorting any of it out, at least until all detention sitters write down their own version of events to be cross-checked and referenced by you. Let’s be honest… who in all fairness, has any chance of finding the genuine truth?

A version of this is now happening in British politics on a scale I have never witnessed before, but it is being realised in the lack of ANY depth to the policies that are being put forward… or not being put forward as the case may be.

In the political version of this scenario it seems that we are as individuals left to sift through the sea of lies and versions of events of the last five years that is now being laid out in front of us through our chosen media shop window. I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but feel for the masses on this one. When anyone says something often enough you start to assume that it is true. All the Parties are now saying different versions of what has happened over the past five years and it takes all my might just to maintain the real events from the stories.

Which facts are we supposed to believe? Which people’s opinions should make us change our own? Which moving video will convince us that the box we tick will make us feel like we haven’t made a mistake post-May?

The worry is that it seems as though the ‘policies’ have been the LAST thing any party has been concerned with working on or doing anything about. Why? Because when questioned, party leaders generally are failing to answer the simplest questions regarding their policies, which they have only just finalised, when in reality they ought to have been finished and part of the party leaders psyche a long, long time ago. Instead we have a “put the other party down” rhetoric which I have always found distasteful and utterly unnecessary, occurring alongside selected sound-bites that conveniently champion the current hot-topic-crossed bun.

We have the worst choice of parties to vote for in years and it is because of this playground style of politics that this has come to pass in my opinion. At the present time not one Party has shown *me* any real belief in its policies enough to convince me that ANY of them are worth voting for… meaning that as things stand, technically I am soon to be in the position of walking into a polling station in May, to mark the box entitled “none of the above”.

As yet, there are no options on the table that meet the needs or requirements of the people I care about. Not one Party has managed to deliver or maintain a professional appearance of honour or credibility thanks to the incessant putting down of the other parties when answering direct questions either. For example:

“What is your education policy?”

We are now answered in various disguises and from all sides with:

“Well I can tell you what it isn’t! It’s not the other Parties’ policy! You can bet your life on that!”

In my opinion the “revolution” is NOT what we need. The revolution is already happening and has been in existence for many years now while the Murdoch World was shaping. A revolution is a cycle, and that cycle needs to be broken. We need to break the revolution.

We need to break the cycle.

We need to stop the lesson, correct all guilty parties, detain them so that they are uncomfortable and miss their bus home, and then ask them to show up next time with a new attitude.

You have to acknowledge in this debate that there has never been a time where the options have been so awful to choose between. Let me put it like this…

For today’s pudding we have for your selection:

  1. Sago (mildly warmed)
  2. Semolina (includes lumps free of charge)
  3. Cold Rice pudding (no jam)
  4. Blancmange (skin left on – out of canned cream)
  5. Tell us that the options were not satisfactory.


It doesn’t look to me like breaking the cycle is going to happen any time soon. To do it would take something resembling a giant stick in the spokes of the political wheels that spin these days.

It’s called honesty.

The general public know “spin”. The general public smell “bullshit”. Politics is trying to combat that with vagueness and low-level distraction misbehaviour. All parties guilty.

I’ll vote for the Party who starts to speak correctly, with dignity, and without putting others down, and starts talking about the right policies that look after the people I care about. I would love it if they passionately believed in those policies too.

I for one will not tolerate politicians and the media telling me what they want me to believe. I never have, and that is why I have never voted until now. Every other year I could have voted, I was apathetic to going to cast a vote of no confidence, which is what I would have cast every year up to and potentially including right now. I have only decided to actually record my vote of no confidence this year, as a respected friend has convinced me that there is actually a point to marking the box that says none of the above, and so that is what I will do, despite my misgivings, if no party manage to convince me that they are not liars making promises that they will not keep. Previously I did not believe that making a vote of no confidence would make a jot of difference to anything… But my respected friend made me see otherwise, and pointed out that if the establishment do not know about my no-confidence vote, then how can the system be affected by it? It was a good point well made. I have now registered to vote for the first time, and I AM going to.

So my verdict? Go away and come back with better options… until then, I’m ticking the no-one box.

No doubt I will watch various compelling media in the upcoming weeks from celebrities I trust advocating which Party they think *I* should vote for… In fact I’ve just watched the Martin Freeman endrorsement video for Labour… which absolutely supports my point yet again.

Labour will do *this*, Conservatives won’t.

If it had just said Labour will do this and left it there I might have believed young Martin… he’s a great actor and a trustworthy sort. But then the last tagline comes in and reaffirms it all over again. This video is designed to say Tories are shit, much more than it is designed to inform us all of what Labour will do for our country, as positive and honest as the spin sounds. When will any Party realise that putting someone else down makes you look like a prick? It’s unnecessary, childish, and undermines the Party so that I can’t take them seriously… They might actually be able to do a better job than the Tories, sure, and I may decide to vote for them in the end, but I’ll grit my teeth for now for want of a better option.

I decided to look for the standard Party Political Broadcast for the Labour Party to make the experiment consistent and found that this latest one was from February:

Labour Party Political Broadcast 2015

Personally I felt like this one was rather heavily designed to combat the UKIP fears, seeing as it puts “immigration” as priority number 3 on its list of how things are to be reformed. Generally though, it ticks a few more of my boxes than I expected.

In the name of research I went on to look for a Conservatives PBB (Party Political Broadcast). Here’s where the latest video lives:

Conservatives Party Political Broadcast 2015

I couldn’t help but notice that there doesn’t seem to be any celebrity endorsed Conservative videos out there yet. Does this mean that the Tories have lost the confidence of celebrities? People in the public eye do not yet have the confidence to publish their opinion on whether they support a Tory Government it seems. I found it interesting that the video in this case was designed to paint Mr Cameron as a family man, trustworthy, the sort of chap who makes time to get to his sons football match. In my opinion, there is just as much spin in this video, as there is in the Martin Freeman one. The angle is different, and my complaint about Parties putting other’s down is well-met and countered here. It’s refreshing to see a Party not take the opportunity to slander the others and I commend them for that, however we can’t win… Because in this case it just looks like it’s missing to deliberately cement the trustworthiness of old Dave. Why? Because the imagery that accompanies the messages in this video are of children and families, but it focuses on the heart-strings like an episode of Hollyoaks the day after a car crash scene. I was half expecting Michael Parkinson to sell me my Life Insurance by the end of it! I wonder if he turned the offer of an endorsement video down? I know as well as you do that these videos are always going to be this archetypal, and that in some ways it’s how they should be, but my opinion is that times have moved on rather drastically more than this style of video caters for. I just don’t think people buy it anymore.

The last Liberal Democrat PBB I could find seems to be from a little while ago, but here it is:

Liberal Democrats Party Political Broadcast 2015

Mr Clegg gives a slightly different speech to Mr Cameron. I can’t put my feelings about this man going back on his student promises to one side as I will never ever trust him again, however analysing the film without that in mind shows a carefully thought out film that tries to lever the middle ground. It seems to focus on providing something that the other Parties do not whilst managing to not actually say which policies he disagrees with. A couple of the statements actually sound plausible for a second, but then the reality of his own making sets back in. This guy seems to me to be the worst type of politician… One that has absolutely no idea what he’s doing. If the Party got rid of him they might actually come up with something decent in a few years time… but the thought of the Liberal Democrats not suffering anything short of a mass exodus of support seems impossible to me. I suspect they might take a hammering this election.

The Green Party seems to have a much smaller profile but I have managed to find this:

This video is laughable. To focus on “travel” as its main issue of discussion is ridiculous… I would be brave enough to say that this video is completely in detriment to The Green Party, especially considering the rather machine gun attack on all other Parties. It does not come across like a PBB at all, and maybe that is not what this is intended to be… But this is one of the only videos out there that represents The Green Party that I could find, and so you have to wonder what the Party are playing at not to have a bigger online presence… It’s not hard to make a video these days… and you can even reduce your carbon footprint doing it too.

There are simply too many “Facts” that are being bandied about that no longer make any sense because the level of authority they have is merely that they have been published or broadcast “somewhere”.

How on Earth, unless we check ourselves, do we know that any of the facts being slung around are true?! There is just SO much ‘counter-facting’ going on! In my eyes, the only things we can ‘know’ are the things we actually experience, not the things that are written down in black and white and told to us at convenient times by politicians. I think the key here is to remember what we have been through ourselves over the past five years.

Just because someone says something is a fact… does not mean that it is.

The truth is until I actually get a politician on my Doortstep… a phenomenon which in my 9 years living here in Wakefield on the same street has never occurred, then I’ll find it hard not to be voting as discussed, and it really would take a mighty conversation from a Party representative to prove to me that they aren’t just like all the rest who I watch on Question time if I’m honest… which in the main appear to be liars, lying, and getting a round of applause if they say the right lie at the right time.

Why do I not get out there myself and locate these politicians to demand the answers to my questions!? I hear you cry. I don’t because it’s hard for me to “get out” to the shops, never mind taking my pitchfork up to Bank Street. I do my research from here and meet my side of the bargain that way. Politicians and local MP’s are supposed to make an effort to promote their values to win my vote. I suppose it’s up to them if they want to come round for a brew and try to capture my wavering yet impending vote of no-confidence.

I want straight answers. I want a politician who doesn’t answer the question they wanted you to ask regardless of what you asked them, but answers what you asked. Until I meet such a person… Then my vote stays with me, in the I ain’t eatin’ it box.

What I would say is this… The media that we watch and interact with is designed to be believable and is marketed to make you click it, share it and talk about it. It works. I’ve just written a blog about bloody politics for buggers’ sake! But if I was going to do that then I wanted to do it in such a way as to not influence people’s opinions, but to promote “doing your research”. That is why I have put the four main Parties videos in the same place, to make my own life easier in making an informed decision when the time comes.

It’s about having the energy to research each Party for yourself and to come up to your own conclusion whilst being vigilant to not believe everything you see or read. Vote because you have considered and chosen who to vote for, not because your friend told you who to vote for.

It’s not easy being one of the masses, is it eh?

As for me, I am sure that I will have different opinions by the day before the time to vote arrives… despite my resolute stance on Politics… changing one’s mind is what it is all about after all… otherwise we would never get anywhere… but as yet the point of conversion has not happened for me… I hope it does… but I’m not going to hold my breath.

Even having said all this, in May I do expect to have been converted, one way or another and that actually my first ever vote as a 37 year old man will be for a “Party” after all. I guess it’s just that by leaving my compass in the middle, I feel personally like it is for a Party to convince me, rather than to wrestle me from a previous camp so to speak… That way I know by May that my decision will be made on current information, rather than 5 year old information, if that makes sense? It makes sense to me anyway.

Politics on the other hand…

Politics makes no sense to me whatsoever.