Leigh Won’t Vote Tory…But…

“‘I’m voting Tory for the first time’: Things appear to be changing in Leigh” (MEN article (engage ad blockers))

“Leigh constituency election portrait” (the same article but for the local rag)

“Leigh could vote in Tory MP, says YouGov MRP poll” (Leigh Reporter)

The last two links to the local paper give a better insight into the split in Leigh politically as it has comments from, well regular commentators.  How local to Leigh they are is unknown but as sure as the sun rises, you can guarantee that anything story remotely political on that website will have the same commentators have their little spats, its like Twitter but on a diet of lobby.

The above articles give some good insight and my title it’s exactly a massive gamble as it is such a narrow “victory” by the 2019 Tories that only a few votes either way would swing it, the whole point being of course, how has it got to this and again the linked pieces go into some detail.

I personally think that Labour will still win quite strongly though if you look at the trend according to wikipedia the swing has been more “to the right” since the Blair years but the Labour majority seems to swing fairly consistently between 10,000-16,000 over the election cycles.

It is also worth noting that from the high turnouts of 70%+ in the 70’s and 80’s (when you factor in an anti-Tory, pro-mining sensibility) they have plummeted since, barely scratching 60% over recent elections.

The local wisdom being anything with a red rosette wins.

The Conservative candidate is well known locally and a local councillor as far as I’m aware who my sources tell me (i.e. my mates who are actually on Facebook), that he is campaigning hard, so he clearly thinks he is in with a shot.

Current Labour incumbent Jo Platt, on the other hand is a form councillor herself who it’s exactly well liked locally.

But probably liked enough to be voted for because her rosette is red and not blue.

As you may note there are 6 candidates standing this time around.  If we take Labour and the Lib Dems to represent a vote to continue to remain in the EU, then the other 4 are to leave the EU and then the possibility of vote splitting comes into play.

As the graphic above predicts, the Brexit Party could get almost 12%, costing the Conservatives victory?  Probably not.  Anyone who wants to vote Tory will vote Tory, the Brexit party votes will be, in the vast majority, disgruntled Labour voters who just can’t ever vote Conservative.

And that is where I was going to leave this totally amateur look into local politics until the news today that Labour wish to cut rail fares by 75%

The running joke about Leigh as a town, especially in the rugby league community and general banter between the local towns, is that “Leigh is the biggest town in the UK without a train station.”

There are talks locally to open Golborne station, which would do nothing for Leigh.  The original rail lines from Leigh now had the guided bus way on it, which just makes Leigh a commuter hub for Manchester rather than bringing anything into the town.

So the question is, would the train-less residents of Leigh really wish to pay out extra money in taxes just to fund those with rail stations, like the pie-eaters in Wigan and would it be enough to stop any of them voting Labour?

No.  I doubt it.  And if the Tories get in then “I’ll show my arse at Turnpike.”*

 

Thanks for reading.

 

*This is a local phrase; I won’t actually be engaging in acts of public nudity should something highly unlikely actually occur.

My Dad’s Dead Cat

My previous post about toilet behaviour was a moment of levity while I pondered a few things personally.

Given the private nature of myself I try to avoid much details of my life beyond my opinions of the political, beer related or free speech/free thought kind.  The most personal posts I’ve done on here relate to dead pets and this one will be no exception; give or take.  That I’ve procrastinated in posting this in order to get my head around things has allowed life to move on a bit and I now write this with a sense of hope.

My mum would have it that “your father has always been afraid to talk to you,” which of itself is a bit ridiculous but I do get what she means.  My dad is a practical soul and I’m, for lack of a better word, an academic.  Conversations between us are mainly me asking him questions or telling him stories in order to engage his interest, in my old science jobs this would require me to save up about a fortnights worth of banal tales all for half an hour of one-sided chit-chat.

This is the inverse to how my dad is with my mum.  On his visits to her in order to use the toilet and nab a free coffee or tea he too will either sit in silence while my mum works around him or follow her around ranting.  I have yet to experience the latter but I get it from other quarters anyway so that is my penance.

“That Erasure, not bad for a couple of poofs,” is the only opinion my dad has really ever expressed unprompted.  This from a man who happily sang along to Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.  A proper boomer.

However since I started brewing he has shown a very keen interest in all its aspects; including, much like the shopkeeper in Mr. Benn, turning up at my work out of nowhere to just hang around while every so often knocking on stuff with a crooked index finger (a habit I also do, especially with walls in unfamiliar surroundings).

My dad and the male side of his family, have a history of high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, etc. but thanks to modern medicine, even a man who once insisted he drove himself to the hospital after a car battery exploded on him (and again when he burnt his hand in a chip pan) has quiet significantly surpassed the age at which his dad died.

It is always odd writing these things, a fear of tempting horrible fate takes hold but life is what it is.

As “luck” would have it, it was again on a forced hospital visit that symptoms my dad simply ignored because he associated them with his health’s history, that something more serious was found but after treatment it seems to have regressed and he can go back to bothering about his blood pressure again.

During that period it was the first but subsequently not the only time I saw my dad tearful.  I wouldn’t say cry, my dad is a person who doesn’t cry.

As a child I recall my dad visibly upset three times.  When his mother died.  When my mum’s mother died.  And when it was announced that Ayrton Senna had died.

His first bout of tears I saw were born of frustration.  Confined to a bed and swamped in the hospital by relatives, including one who’s sole word, to be fair trying to process the whole situation themselves, was “The Christie,” rather than simply telling everyone to fuck off (I’d only just arrived) his emotions came out in the water works.  This cleared the room except for me and him, so we could engage in another hour of tales and elongated comfortable silences.

Later, on the morphine he was proscribed his emotions were even more unpredictable and any tears during this phase I associated with him being off his face.

Truncating this tale to the present and my dad again appears at work.  It was not unexpected, except for his out-of-thin-air appearance, as I’d been forewarned that he’d had to take his cat to the vets.

I knew the drill; carry on working around him, watch him knock on things, answer his random questions and then when the time was right, I’d ask how he was and see if he wanted to talk about it.

The barely disguised tears started as he recounted finding his cat dragging herself around the kitchen floor, a blood clot had paralysed her back legs.  I too had had to deal with a cat in similar circumstances (and a dog too) and it is quite brutal.  To paraphrase George Carlin  “I’ve got half a cat, the front end is perfectly serviceable, it’s just the back end.”

You always feel like you’ve betrayed the pet you take to the vet somehow but you tell yourself, rightly, that there was no quality of life to be had, and we should all be thankful we can at least euthanise our pets.

But sat with him it then occurred to me, given some other things that were happening in his life, this would be the first time my dad would be coming home to an empty house.

We are quite a nuclear family (I’ve just looked up this term, it seems I’ve been using it incorrectly all this time), all the direct members of our clan (bar two) live within a 5-10 mile radius but even in these times of realisation you sometimes can’t change our own nature.  To act out a different set of behaviours based on worry would be noted, commented on and nixed before it even got going.  So we all just revert to type.  So; much like a cat, if my dad wants something then he’ll come to you, you don’t need to continuously approach him unless you are either bringing food, or need to borrow some tools.

You don’t need to worry and you definitely don’t need to fuss.  The fuss will be sought as and when required.

You will worry but that is for you to deal with.

I did raise the subject of getting another cat but he just didn’t feel like it.  Emotions being raw.  I could call his home phone but he seldom answers it.  I could try and call his newly sim-carded mobile but it is always switched off.  I wait.

He is going to be looking after guide dogs.

Well, that is his plan.  His plan, that he came to all by himself.

When my mum lost one of her dogs, she got 15 cats to replace him (she is the quintessential crazy cat lady, plus I always feel she got them to deter my dad from visiting too often given his allergies).  When my dad loses his cat he will now look after dogs.  Dogs, the first time he’s going to have one in his house since he lost his only other previous dog some near forty years ago.

Catharsis for all.

 

Thanks for reading.

That Time I Accidentally Had a Shit in a Wetherspoons Women’s Toilet

This post is literally toilet humour, nothing horribly descriptive but from now on I’m talking shit more than I normally do.

 

 

In the UK, before the advent of “24 hour drinking,” the only place to go for a drink after time had been called at 11pm was to a club.

I hate clubs, I craved a lock-in or to go back to a mates house but it was always insisted, usually be the females in the group or the singles, that we go clubbing it “just for a short while.”

I’m reminded of my time in Bradford, in a club called Maestros, the men’s toilets the cloakroom in, luckily hidden around from the eye-line of the actual bogs but enough so the attendants could keep an eye out for any tampering with the fountain of the fish it contained.

That is almost as irritating as going to the loo only to find some poor soul there waiting with a selection of fragrances and pre-torn hand towels.

For me going to the toilet is a private activity but one I’ve learnt to deal with as not solely being unaccompanied if you are in a public place.

Plus pub toilet banter is almost as funny as pub toilet graffiti.

But that is having a pee and having a pee is fine, for me at least, I still have one shy-peeing/cubicle only mate but horses for courses.

Why bring up clubs? Simply because this was my first introduction to the brassy “don’t worry lads, I’ve seen it all before” type of women who, because the facilities in women’s club loos was so inadequate that the only option was to brave the blokes.

And quite a few did, with the usual complaints about the smell and the general state.  Still, it was another source of toilet banter.

Fast forward my continued attendance at music festivals.  The long queues, or perpetual free-for-all of getting a loo at peak periods.  The fear of what awaits as you open the door of an empty one, or the worry that the next person out of the one you are queuing for will be a boy and not a girl.  Or the bigger worry for me, the fear that when I leave the portaloo it will be a girl waiting to go in after me.

Lucky them, as I leave them in a better state than I find them (within music festival toilet reason) but it is still with due deference you make that fleeting eye contact and sheepish knowing look that we are all in this together.

“Spotless” used to be my boast if I was particularly drunk, the hopefully allay worries, while also realising that this sort of toilet banter isn’t best done in an open field to complete strangers.  Meh.

And so we find ourselves with micro pubs and micro bars and the advent of one, singular shared toilet facility (because as I understand it, to have two or more would require the place to be suitable for disabled access, don’t quote me on that, this blog isn’t about accuracy, just entertainment).

Again; I leave the toilet better than I found it, though it has to be said toilet in micro bars are generally of a better standard that a regular pub, probably because of the far less work required in cleaning just the one, but I still leave the cubicle with the dread of a woman waiting to use it.

However, regardless of sex, if they’ve been the type of person that persistently has tried to open the door when it is clearly locked, then I don’t care.  These are the same people that press both the up and down buttons on a lift and then wonder why they go in the wrong direction when they get in the first one that arrives.

Patience.  All good things to those who wait.

Which brings us to the title of this piece, which must have happened a good decade ago now I think on it.

There is nothing worse than knowing, on a night out, that you need to poo.  In unfamiliar surroundings it is just potty luck, in familiar surroundings it can be worse knowing just how limited your options truly are.

There are times I’ve gone home to use my own loo or, for the price of a drink, borrowed the key to a closer by friend’s house to use theirs.

I’ve gone back to pubs to use better toilets and I’ve gone ahead, leaving drinks behind, in order to get a more comfortable shit somewhere else.

Loo roll is a must.  Then a toilet seat.  Then a door that locks.

In a Wetherspoons I was, or rather thought I was familiar with, I got caught very short and went to use the gents.  In my solitary defence, I was desperate, rather drunk and the entry doors are more or less next to each other.

I flew through the door and briefly acknowledged that the toilet was completely empty as I found a suitable WC.

I was not more than 20 seconds into my ablutions than, very much like the ending of “The Usual Suspects,” all the evidence fell into place.

This place smelt nice.  Did I just walk passed sofas and comfy chairs? And a table with magazines on it?  Wait, where were the urinals?  Why is most of the floor I walked in on still carpeted?  Why were there so many cubicles?  Is that…is that women’s voices I hear?

This would seem like the least stressful way out of this.

I tensed.  Somehow trying to control my releasing of both sound, smell and anything else that could possibly give me up to the new and rightful entrants to the toilets.

Not that shit smells any better out of women but let us not take chances here.

I finished up.  Tidied the toilet to within an inch of its ceramic life and then waited, poised for my escape.

The doors closed.  Silence.  I gave it 5 seconds for the previous occupants to reach minimum safe distance and then I moved.  Quickly ran my hands under the tap in a show of some cleanliness and then just hoped that then next few metres to me and the relative safety and embarrassment free zone of the men’s toilets would not be spoiled by the face of any other person witnessing the horrific mistake I made.

I made it to safety, unseen, unspotted.  Soaped my hands and washing them properly looked at my suddenly very sober self in the mirror.  Dried my hands and rejoined the group.

Somewhere I get the feeling that there is a staff or security member who watched this unfold live.  I also get the feeling this did not go as smoothly as I thought it did and have relayed here.

Still, the past is the past, onwards to being confused by foreign toilet signs.

 

Thanks for reading.

My Trip to Chernobyl – in 2009

In all this time I had this blog (from 2013), I never thought once to put up my photos I took when I went to Chernobyl and Pripyat back in March of 2009 but I suppose the seeming popularity of the recent HBO miniseries has caused my just to add to the hive of information that is out there.

Prologue

If you are still reading this and haven’t skipped to the pictures already then I’ll just give a bit of personal background.

There was something about growing up in the 80’s that to a child it seemed to be a decade full of disasters.  The Cold War didn’t impact on me in the slightest, I was too young to understand that, but the stuff that disrupted my favourite TV programmes being shown, now that always hit home hard.

The capsizing of the Herald of Free Enterprise ferry outside of Zeebrugge in 1987, the Marchioness disaster is 1989, Hillsborough, Challenger exploding in 1986.  The impact of sudden deaths out of the blue had a big effect on me, it was a feeling that had replaced my fear of earthquakes and volcanoes; once the realisation that the UK isn’t exactly on fault lines or a hot-bed of volcanic activity and it was a paranoia that was eventually supplanted by the hysteria of mad cow disease in the early 90’s.

But one disaster held me in more awe and grim fascination that all others and that was the one that happened in reactor number 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in then Soviet Ukraine on the 26th of April 1986.

Fast forward close to 23 years and, having heard money was going to be spent on covering the disaster site more securely than the initial sarcophagus that was hastily constructed just after the disaster, I made it a mission to get out there and get some photos while I still could.

Photos

By all means share these photos, though I would like a credit if you would be so kind, any questions about my time there will be happily answered below.

This may extend to a few more posts as there are quite a few pictures.

A few “whhhaaattt” things that always got me.  Because of the energy deficiency that was met with the loss of reactor 4, I’m pretty sure I was told that the other reactors continued to operate “as normal” during the whole time period after the fall out.

And that; I think to this day, the French deny that any of the radioactivity from the disaster went anywhere near French soil.

First off I think we should all remember the immense sacrifice the liquidators (or bio robots), or just the ordinary firefighters who risked and gave their lives to clean up the site so the rest of the world would not have to suffer as much.

This tested us for radiation before and after our visit.

The road inside the exclusion zone and towards Chernobyl, with the site in the distance.

The decidedly small amount of background radiation outside the disaster site.

The school and associated playground.

It is about this time when you realise that even though it is still an active military site with exclusion zones, urban explorers can still get in.  Vandals get in there is graffiti everywhere and obviously tourists, so you do sometimes wonder just how “posed” some of the scenery is and just how things were left following the evacuation of Pripyat.

The recreation centre and the hotel I think.

Bits and pieces.

The fairground, may have been permanent may have been for the planned May Day celebrations.

The flora and fauna was radio active and we were advised not to step on any grass or moss or leaves where possible.

The tower blocks and housing with the reactor in the distance.

The nuclear research centre.

The “Red Forest” where the radioactivity detector went mental for the brief period it was held out of the van window.

Finally (maybe) is what I believe is called Chernobly-2, or “The Russian Woodpecker” – a huge radar array that was officially discovered following the accident.  With the size of this thing and the fragility of the never maintained original sarcophagus over reactor 4, it was suggested that if this thing collapsed the resulting ground tremor could have shaken and caused the collapse of the sarcophagus leading to the radioactivity still in the old reactor core being released all over again.

Makes you think.

Forward to Fukushima.

 

Thanks for reading.

Big Beer – Keep On Punching

I don’t watch much television these days but I did catch the latest beer advert by Foster’s.

As it is advertising alcohol you may well have to sign in to view it, a stick that our nanny betters in government beat us with regardless of our age or how big the multinational behind the campaign is, as we are all equally worthless in the eyes of our masters.

Anyway, having seen this advert I was reminded about a post by Steve at Beer Nouveau about the “Dilly Dilly” adverts that Bud-Lite ran (and still are) and whereas I understand the point(s) he makes I think it is a general symptom of the love of victim hood that smaller brewers feel.

A mentality that moves less from the brewers; who are just doing a job, but more from the movers and shakers, the influencers, the high-profile bloggers and authors who didn’t yet land cushy jobs at bigger end craft breweries.  This then permeates other similar artisan producers; the over priced food hawkers, the impressively expensive coffee houses (of which McDonald’s, a company I still boycott, beautifully trolled), the fiercely independent beer shops, etcetera

Individuality is lost and the herd takes over and it is us versus the big guns and a sense of humour and reason is lost.

 

Eventually it metastasises into the type of straw man group think that is bread and butter to a cynical blog like this.

 

So; to anyone, keep on punching, with words only obviously, at anyone and everyone.  Take the piss and fuck them if they can’t take a joke.

 

Thanks for reading.

Greta of Nazareth

I’ve commented before on kids that “strike” or rather leave school illegally, the last time it happened in the UK was the final Friday before half term, and what happened on the following Monday and every other subsequent day of that week that kids were legally off school, why yes, the roads were a lot less filled with cars.

Stunning, it’s as if kids take for granted what gets them to school just to fulfil their narcissism.

To be honest, I can’t have a go at any one under 18, it doesn’t seem right does it?  You could suggest, rather conspiratorial that any child used in any form of politically campaign was being cynically exploited by their so-called responsible adults but that still doesn’t tackle the issues that they are raising, genuinely or not.

We are at another strange cross roads in the developed west, where those that have seen democracy let them down (i.e. a few voting results went against them) feel the need to launch a new phase that involves those of non-voting age to be considered as knowledgeable and right thinking enough to be given the right to vote and to manipulate current political thinking.

And for their own desperate narcissism, the political class of all stripes actual entertain such things.

At least Theresa May, in a rare show of sense or just a clash of schedules, wasn’t around for the photo ops.

And this is my whole problem with this and with the rich twats known as Extinction Rebellion, and with David Attenborough and every other bloody thing that seems to be about the environment.

Personally speaking I have always recycled; I watch what chemicals I use (which is difficult when you whole entire career(s) have involved working with chemicals, and also using a tremendous amount of water), I don’t litter, for the majority of my time I’m a walker and public transport user rather than a motorist but it is all getting a bit like adverts on a Sunday morning.

I hate people who mistreat animals but there are only a certain amount of ads I can see from the RSPCA or the Donkey Sanctuary before I just tune out.  Likewise I’ve seen too many emaciated polar bears, too many oil covered sea birds, too many turtles caught in plastic to actually give a crap any more.

Worst of all it the cult like, neo-religionist nature of it all and with Greta Thunberg the environment lobby groups have found their messiah; a figure that is beyond criticism because of her age and because of her mental illness and therefore to oppose her thoughts and wishes is to oppose to vulnerable child.

Shamima Begum wishes she had her PR team.

 

Thanks for reading.

Manchester Public Transport Part 1 – The Scourge of Guardianista

I’ll get this out of my system first because Part 2 (whenever I get around to writing it) will be actually about the public transport system in (Greater) Manchester but as things stand now, I’ll just take this moment to laugh at a typically deluded Guardian journo, who now seems to be on a bit of a crusade after the shock of bus fares in the county hit home.

Given the begging letters you see when you ever visit the “newspaper’s” website, I take it that expenses are a bit short for the Guardian’s staff these days.  Either that or they themselves aren’t employees, meh I don’t care, it’s your life.

 

It’s the self-flagellation that always gets me.  The unnecessary virtue signal and moan about first world problems and then the moment of realisation that, all your own morals are expendable when broken down into the realities of hard cash.

Damn this capitalism, nationalise everything all ready.

I’d have slightly more sympathy for her supposed plight if she hadn’t followed it up with this:

“How can I possibly be expected to walk a bit in order to pay over the odds for bog standard food at restaurant prices when I’ve had to fork out for a bus an Uber.”

Life is what you make it.

 

Thanks for reading.