The Rambles of Neil Monnery

Another pointless voice in the vast ocean that is the interweb

On watching a parent litter in front of their kids…

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On Sunday I got a bit riled up. I’d nipped out to the supermarket to grab myself some goodies and dinner. It was a lovely day and the stroll into town was pleasant enough. Nothing in my short trip should’ve fazed me nor tripped me up. Yet well, it did.

Walking towards the supermarket, I noticed a man, woman and two kids walking in front of me. I didn’t think twice about them but moments later, I watched as the dad veered out from the right hand side of the walkway to the left. Immediately I knew exactly what he was going to do. Sipping the last dregs out of his KFC drink, he simply lobbed the cup into the mud by the river. I was aghast and full of rage. So much so that I very nearly yelled out at him.

Why people litter is just beyond me, it truly is. I have never littered and have no understanding of why anyone would. The worst bit wasn’t that he’d thrown his rubbish into the mud but that his two children were both of very impressionable age. If they see their dad acting in such a loutish manner then they’ll believe that acting in that manner is totally acceptable. Not less than five seconds later, he’d have passed a rubbish bin outside the shop.

For a minute or so I was berating myself for not saying something but then what was the best case scenario for doing such a thing? Maybe he would’ve listened, understood and promised to do better in future, therefore showing his kids a valuable lesson that littering is not ok. That alas would not be a realistic outcome.

The realistic best case scenario would be a string of obscenities followed by the word off. Another very plausible outcome would’ve involved a punch or two heading in my direction and that certainly was what I wanted and nor would that have been good for the watching kids.

Walking home I decided that I’d made the best decision but isn’t it a sad indictment of society that people are scared to intervene when people are acting boorishly? Carrying your rubbish to a bin isn’t exactly a hardship and you can’t go a couple of minutes without passing one around shops. Those who treat the planet with such clear and obvious disdain are really rather selfish. Whilst the planet struggles with what mankind is doing to it, he’ll be fine as he’ll be long gone before the effects are fully felt but what about his children and their children?

This blog has very little point bar wondering why some people act the way they do. I just don’t understand it…

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

May 8th, 2018 at 10:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized

On Lib Dem Targeting…

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First things first, when I started to write this blog post I had to work out whether it was targeting or targetting. I always thought it was the latter but that is apparently an obsolete British spelling of the word and the version with only one T is now the preferred way to spell that word. You learn something new every day so they say.

So anyway this piece is about targeting resources within the party. There have been numerous words written about this over the years. The party had a good record in focusing resources through the Tony Blair Labour years as they were able to really harness their vote where it was most needed. Some 2010 and the Nick Clegg bounce however, this seemed to disappear as there were not enough activists nor cash to attack potential fertile ground at a national level. Locally many paper candidates actually won in 2010 on the back of Nick Clegg as what were usually poor areas for Lib Dems significantly outperformed expectations.

Since then things have not gone well. At local level the activists deserted the party in droves because of the coalition and what can you say about the General Election in 2015? When external polling data has people like Julian Huppert up over 20 percentage points and he still loses, sometimes you just gotta admit that you were whacked and had little chance of succeeding. At that General Election the national party were even looking at a handful of potential gains, I’m guessing they weren’t exactly watching the news or the media narrative surrounding the party.

Two years on and the party were given a surprising opportunity to actually regain at least some of its lost ground. This is where I think the national party didn’t do half as bad a job in terms of targeting as I know many other members think. The issues last year weren’t where resources where placed at the outset of the election but the lack of movement when it became clear the election had changed.

Tim Farron did his gay sex bit that foot the party in the foot but more than that, the whole thing stopped being a semi-second referendum on Brexit. It became something more. Kudos to Jeremy Corbyn and Labour for achieving this but this took away the hard Pro-EU vote from the Lib Dems and instead made it an open field. The talk of Vauxhall is the big one but all the data points to that seat very much being in-play as long as the campaign was about one issue and stopping Theresa May having a mandate to push through hard Brexit.

Resources then should’ve been pulled out of any Labour/Lib Dem seat where we weren’t defending. Sheffield Hallam and Leeds North West could still have been saved although the way things went down, the likelihood was unlikely but they weren’t dead causes by a fortnight out. Vauxhall alas was by then.

This however is not a blog about the national party but more about local politics. I think we should stand in every seat we can just so people have the option to vote Liberal Democrat on their ballot paper. The issue is not every seat has an equal opportunity of victory, so you have to have laser like focus to give you the best bang for your buck in terms of both money but also man (or I should say people) hours. That is how bosses run businesses, they don’t just give every department the same amount of cash, they give more money to the areas that are likely to bring in more custom, politics has to work in the same way.

If you have enough man hours and cash to put out enough extra leaflets and knock on enough extra doors to give you 1,000 more votes say across a whole local party, do you do that across all the wards or do you focus in on the ones where those extra resources are more likely to result in holding or gaining a seat or two?

Is it better to have say one win, four second places and ten finishes third or lower than three wins and 12 finishes third or lower? I’d argue the latter. Once you win a seat, you are in a better position to win that seat again next time, you get more involved in the council, you get a better platform to speak from, you have more influence, you give yourselves a better chance to grow.

Unless there are national swings, at local elections you know whether you have a chance months out. You do the work all year round and you’ll know which seats are in-play along with those you’ll run a skeleton campaign in. One of the biggest problems is candidates often think they can win even when they can’t in reality. If your strategy is to send out leaflets but not speak to many people on the doorstep, unless you are ahead going in, it seems awfully unlikely that you’ll win coming from behind.

So I’d love to be able to give every candidate the best opportunity to win but there is only so much money in the kitty and only so many doors that can be knocked, or leaflets that can be delivered. Every journey starts will just one step and every councillor returned is a step towards more. It is better to play to win fewer seats than play to just play many seats with lower chances of success.

Local parties need to have long-term vision instead of short-term reactions. Hopefully up and down the land that is being borne out but if I see lots of time and money spent in dead areas at the detriment of potential winnable seats, I’ll sigh once more and wonder why the same problem continues to not get fixed…

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

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April 9th, 2018 at 8:35 am

Posted in Politics

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On Dylan and Savenia…

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Before we get into the nuts and bolts of this blog post, I want to address a common misconception about me. Most people who actually know me in real life would say I’m pretty emotionless. The truth is in fact very much the opposite. It is just I can can put up a facade that keeps my true feelings from slipping out. Very few get to the point where the barrier is lowered and the ability to see my true self becomes available as it were.

So anyway lets go back to last Friday. It had been quite an emotional day. The girlfriend and I settled down to watch the final episode in this season of Catfish. It was a bit of a twist on the usual formula as both parties had contacted the show, one to say that they were catfishing someone and the other saying they wanted to meet someone they thought was the girl of their dreams. Too good to be true young man. Something has to go awry. This show has maybe had a handful of happy endings but they are few and far between.

Plenty of red flags come up in the background research and her phone number is listed on her sister’s Facebook account. The sister is known to be extremely quiet and shy. The girl this young man has been talking to is known to have a huge love of animals and once again, the sister’s Facebook is just full of animal pictures. The girl he’s apparently been talking to is/was a young model. All signs are pointing to the shy sister having used the photos. A bit weird you might think but when you throw in she would’ve been 18 when they started conversing (with the guy just 13) you started to feel a little bit icky.

I however still had some hope. The catfish agrees to meet and they fly her out to Los Angeles where they are filming this episode (Max and Nev don’t want to be on the road as much) and the producer picks her up at the airport. She lets Nev & Max know that she’s picked ‘them’ up and now everyone is sure its the girl in the photos along with her sister. It will all be sorted out. It’ll be weird but heck, this is Catfish, this is what we watch it for.

The car pulls up and only one person gets out, its the girl in the photos, it was her the whole time. They embrace and I’m not afraid to say a tear of joy rolled down my cheek. It was absolutely gorgeous and heartwarming. She had thought of herself as a Catfish just because she’d touched up her photos a bit and was taking shots from positive angles. That is just the way of the world these days, it is no biggie. She thinks that she’s a giant and isn’t that good looking. This is the conversation that kills it.

Savenia: I posted a lot of photos of me looking like, really good, like photoshopped and as you can see I don’t look like that.

Dylan: Shut up, you’re beautiful.

They embrace again with both of them crying.

The two teenagers are just so happy and it was enough to fill my heart with joy. The world is full of bad news at the moment that any crumb of comfort should be cherished. You couldn’t have scripted a better ending and everything was just so natural and dare I say it, perfect. Since the episode aired she has moved down to where he lives and they are a couple.

I just wanted to write a quick blog to remind myself (and heck you never know, some readers) that there is joy in the world, we just sadly have to look very hard for it at the moment. As I’ve gotten older, I have learned that the big picture matters less and less as I look more inwardly to enjoy the good moments when they come along. I would implore other people to do the same.

Why spend hours arguing with people on the internet when instead you can have good times with those you love and care about? Watching those who just seem to live for the fight on social media about Jeremy Corbyn or Brexit or some other bollocks makes me sigh.

We only get a short amount of time on this Earth, why waste it doing something you don’t love? I know we all have to earn money somehow and as the old saying goes, it doesn’t grow on trees but material possessions are all well and good but a roof over your head, food on the table, money to spend heating your home in the cold months and everything else is gravy.

For that brief moment both Dylan and Savenia’s world became complete. I wish them both all the very best because in sharing their story on international TV, they’ve warmed the hearts of no doubt thousands of people all over the Globe.

I know I have no plans to delete this episode from my Sky box and when I’m down, I’ll just watch the two minutes from her getting out of the car in Los Angeles and it’ll remind me that not everything in this world is awful and not everyone in this world is out to screw you.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

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March 20th, 2018 at 6:03 pm

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On the future after #LibDemsAt30…

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I don’t write much about politics any more. It isn’t that my interest has waned or that I don’t care about the issues facing the country and world but it is mainly because Brexit is the overbearing presence that sucks the oxygen out of everything else. Yes in my opinion, leaving the EU and in all likelihood the way we are going to leave will be extremely problematic in terms of the economy. We aren’t going to get the best trade deals the world has ever seen just because Liam Fox, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson or David Davis want it to be the case. The United Kingdom is not the global power it once was and going it alone in the current climate is going to be extremely tough.

Away from this issue though, the globe keeps spinning. The issues of inequality are still present. The country (and most of the world seemingly) is becoming far more intolerant of those who disagree with their view of the world. The rise of social media has allowed people who would usually be cautious about airing their views to have the confidence that people who agree with them, will find them. This is in large part why UKIP did well in the 2014 European Elections. People voting for candidates who basically say they won’t do the job they are running for is maddening. Yet clearly the previously silent minority came out and pushed that party forward. It happened in the US with Donald Trump. Who knows what will happen in Italy today?

So what does this all have to have to do with the Lib Dems? Probably nothing but as time has gone on, it has become ever clearer to me that the party (and indeed the activists) suffer from a similar issue. Living in an echo chamber and having deep entrenched views that cannot be questioned. Having a debate within the party is tough because should you disagree with someone on social media, the common reaction is for others to pile in and tell you that you are wrong. It is why I just don’t engage any more. I sit back and watch and see the same people backing each other up and picking on people who disagree. In my younger days I wouldn’t been more up for the debate but these days I just don’t see the point.

The party had a pretty darn good manifesto in 2017 but Brexit seems to be the be all and end all. The party saw an influx of new members who are just anti-Brexit but don’t hold many liberal values. I see it all over the place. I have seen people join the party who disagree with Gay Marriage for example. I know of people who have joined who think any drugs offence should be met with locking the person up and throwing away the key. I know of people who have joined the party that think we should all vote Labour as they are the only people who can stop the Tories.

In 2017 the party had all the momentum to fight back from the brink of oblivion but of course things didn’t go as expected. People who are vocally against Brexit and believe it is the biggest issue facing the country in decades still had to jump through hoops to vote Lib Dem. If they could find a way to vote Labour they would. It is because their is no natural Lib Dem vote and the memories of coalition are still fresh in the memory.

I follow multiple people on social media who voted Lib Dem in 2010 and vowed never again after going into coalition with the evil Conservative Party. That isn’t a shocker but when you see some of these people start voting Tory and not only that, joining that party, you just have to laugh. The Lib Dems are the worst ever for doing what they did but I’ll do the same and it is all fine and dandy. Logic.

Of course another issue the party faces is Jeremy Corbyn. A lot of people believe you can get everything for nothing. We saw this is the US when Bernie Sanders took it to Hillary Clinton in the race to become the Democrat nominee in 2016. Corbyn’s appeal doesn’t seem logical to me as he’s basically saying we should turn back time to how things were decades ago. Renationalising everything, giving huge power back to the unions, abolishing tuition fees and his position on the EU depends on who he’s talking to but he’s consistently been against the UK/EU relationship.

His rise however shows off another factor in play in this social media era. The idea of compromise and nuance have been pushed to one side. People like right and wrong. They like black and white. If you agree with 95% of what Jeremy Corbyn says but disagree with 5%, well a lot of his supporters will tell you to rack off and to leave the party. They don’t want your opinion but when it comes to the ballot box, boy they’ll want your vote.

This I suppose is what I’m trying to get at. When I go to the supermarket I tend to bring back three or four options for dinner and my partner and I will choose what we fancy that night. At the ballot box, an ever increasing amount of people want two options, one they like and one they detest. That is the Tories and Labour here in England and Wales. In Scotland the SNP are the party people have a strong opinion over and those that detest them, they are ready to split in any direction depending on whose most likely to take the nationalists down.

The Lib Dems aren’t good and they aren’t bad. People’s opinions of the party seems to basically be that they are irrelevant. In politics its better to be hated than not cared about. Things are tough for the party right now, extremely tough and even if Brexit is a disaster, no-one wants to be told that we were right all along. With every day that passes I believe that until Jeremy Corbyn (or a discipline of his) has got their shot to run the country, we’ll see two-party politics, certainly at a national level. This is why the party needs to start building up its council base once again as that is the road back to relevance.

The local elections this year on paper should be relatively good for the party. The people who vote in local elections (when there are no other elections on that day) are those that give a shit. The people who give two hoots are often those who are the most angry about what is going on. This helps the Lib Dems on two fronts. Firstly the most angry people regarding Brexit are those who firmly believe in Remain but secondly, the Lib Dems aren’t defending much. Plenty of areas that were traditionally liberal locally voted Labour or Tory nationally last year as activists poured in and people didn’t split their ballot. This year they’ll be no ballot to split. If the party can’t make solid gains at the ballot box in the current climate then bloody hell, we are in bigger trouble than anyone thought (and I think most people think the party are close to life-support anyway).

When 80% odd of voters vote Remain in a constituency but then 78% vote for strong Brexit candidates, that sums up the electorate at the moment.

So yeah, just a bit of a ramble on Lib Dem stuff. Nationally we have little hope at the moment unless a by-election came up in a seat that was ripe for the party but locally, hope hasn’t deserted me just yet.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

March 4th, 2018 at 1:22 pm

On the great Kauto Star v Denman battles…

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Sport is often all about rivalries. Whether it is between two teams, two nations or just two individuals. We have the likes of Roger Federer v Rafael Nadal, the New York Yankees v the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool v Manchester United, Brady v Manning, England v Australia, Fischer v Spassky, India v Pakistan, Senna v Prost. I could just go on and on naming some of the most intense rivalries in the world of sport over the years but there was one that captivated me a few years back in a sport which I rarely watch, Horse Racing.

Just to set the scene, the two combatants weren’t two jockeys, they were two horses. Both of whom belonged to the same stable. Paul Nicholls trained both Denman and Kauto Star and between them they had won the Blue Riband event at the Cheltenham Festival between 2007 and 2009. Kauto Star won it first before being dethroned by his stablemate only to gloriously take back the crown in 2009. They were two of the greatest jump horses of their generation and they happened to essentially be next door neighbours. It was one of the rare times when the event of the Festival was superseded by two horses who were built up to be on course for a dramatic fourth meeting in 2010.

The build up was intense as horse racing lovers split into two camps about who would come out on top. Kauto Star was the darling of the racing industry and had long been seen as the greatest jumps horse of his generation. Whilst it would be unfair to say that this was a two-horse race, that is exactly how it felt. If you weren’t on one of these two then you probably weren’t going to be seeing victory.

Sadly for everyone who was hoping to see Kauto Star go out on top, it wasn’t to be as he would fall at the 19th but the biggest surprise was that it wasn’t his stablemate Denman that crossed the line first. Imperial Commander won the race having gone off at 9/1 and the 4/1 Denman came home in second place. For the 8/11 favourite Kauto Star, many saw it as a shame that his career wouldn’t end in glory.

The great one though came back in 2011 and at the grand old age of 11 was the darling of the punter. Despite failing to win the King George VI Chase for the first time in five years the previous Boxing Day, the overwhelming sentimental favourite went off at 5/1 as he looked to take home his third Gold Cup title. Alas for all of us who have sentimental bones in our bodies, he’d be beaten not only by Denman who finished second but by the 7/2 favourite Long Run.

It was the beginning of the end but he showed us that like all great champions, he had one final great performance in him and he went back to Kempton Park on Boxing Day 2011. He would beat Even money favourite Long Run to win his fifth and last King George VI Chase to seal his place in the pantheon of true greats of the track.

One of the great parts of sporting rivalries is how you can support your favourite not only by cheering them on but also by backing them at the bookies. Seeing your favourite horse cross the line first is made ever sweeter by knowing a few quid is coming your way as well. Companies like WilliamHill will have plenty of special promotions heading into the Cheltenham Festival this March and you’d be foolish not to give them a look over. The 2018 event may not have Denman v Kauto Star but they’ll be plenty of great horses to back and roar on to victory.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

February 26th, 2018 at 9:06 am

Posted in Random Stuff

On the realisation that I’m not a very good friend…

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Deep down this isn’t exactly breaking news but a couple of weeks ago the fact I’m not the greatest friend in the world was hammered home in a very dramatic fashion. I can have no complaints about it but it is quite something when you sit there, look at yourself and realise you just aren’t that great. Always a painful moment that.

It starts like many tales do in the days of yore, oh no wait, university. At university I hung out with several people on my course for the majority of my time there. Since uni, we’ve met up a few times but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become less sociable. Considering I didn’t exactly start off as the life and soul of any party that is saying something. It is not that I’ve become even more curmudgeonly as the years have gone on, it is more that I’ve found it harder to fit in and as I continue to do so, the less I’ve tried bothering.I wouldn’t go as far as calling myself a loner but if people were to call me that, I couldn’t put up the fiercest of defences to that type of comment.

Another aspect is at some point you fear that a person you see as a friend but haven’t spoken to nor seen in a long while won’t want to know of your existence any more. I suspect it is something we all deal with from time to time, you drift apart from someone due to various circumstances and then instead of just picking up the phone, dropping them a line on social media or whatever, you just wonder if they even want to hear from you. It is something I know I’ve faced on numerous occasions over the years. So of course even though at times you think of someone and wonder how they are getting on, you don’t reach out and you just carry on your own little life.

This leads us to when it really hit home. One of my friends from university got married a couple of weeks back. Good for him, nice guy who had long been searching for the right person. Clearly they’ve found them so good times. The fact I wasn’t invited to the wedding is no biggie, I’m very rarely invited to such things, I hate not looking like a bum and being happy along with comfortable in such social scenarios isn’t exactly my forte. What hit home was that I didn’t know about it. It wasn’t just that I missed all the talk on social media et al about it, I’d been soft blocked so I was purposely kept out of the loop.

In this social media age, you can still feel somewhat connected to those who you were once close to. A comment on a status here, a like there and you are still even though very tenuously, linked and up to date on their lives. It also leads to the awful situation of social media etiquette. If you decide someone you are connected to on social media isn’t someone you care about in life but still might have interactions with in the future, what do you do? Often the answer is soft block and just remove them from sight (and remove yourself from their sight) and should the need to interact with them again, take off the soft block like nothing ever happened.

The thing is this isn’t an isolated incident. Not often but every so often someone reaches out with me for a chat but I’m busy doing something else, so I think, ‘I’ll reply to them later’ but then a day goes by, two, three, a week and then suddenly it is too late to really respond without coming off like a complete douchebag. So you leave it. For example anyone who knows me well knows I hate typing on anything but a computer keyboard, so I don’t like phones/iPads for that type of thing. So if someone messages me and I’m not by my PC, it is unlikely I’ll reply there and then.

I can’t blame friends for basically giving up on me. I truly can’t. I rarely leave the flat for social engagements and even when there is something I have interest in doing, often my body lets me down. As the years have ticked on the issues with my legs and fatigue issues have slowly worsened. They aren’t really bad, not by any means but the idea of travelling several hours, doing something then travelling several hours back I know will take me days to recover from. When I moved in here, I spent a month clearing out and packing all my stuff from my old flat, I suspect it took me two months to fully recover, for about three weeks I had to nap every single afternoon.

When I was younger, I thought the biggest thing to be a good friend was to be there when someone needed you. As you get older though the just being there bit becomes far more important. We all lead different lives as we move on from teens/young adults into the relationship/career/settling down phase of live. Often it takes time and effort to keep in touch with people who have drifted and if they don’t make the effort then why should you?

Growing up has its pitfalls, you can’t just ring up a mate after school or on a Saturday and expect them to be available to play FIFA or go to the Cinema or whatever. Now things take planning and even then, more times than not something pops up late and that means you can’t go or at least one or two of those who said they’ll be there have to cancel late. It is rather sad in a way but that is just part of the journey of life I suppose.

So anyway to wrap up, this isn’t me taking umbrage about being cut out of someone’s life. They have every right to do such a thing and if I have made no real effort to keep up such a friendship, well that is what happens. It is just a blog post about how as you grow older, friendship seems to become harder. Time is more squeezed and when you are taken away from the natural social events such as school, university or the office where the friendship formed, it takes a lot of effort to keep up a genuine friendship doesn’t it?

Lastly in my life I’ve lived with 12 different people who weren’t family. As far as I’m aware nine have gotten married. No-one invited me to their wedding and I think only three I still had Facebook friend permissions to know that they were even engaged/getting married. I think that says an awful lot about me doesn’t it?

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

January 30th, 2018 at 3:28 pm

Posted in Personal

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On writing a Pop Culture Quiz Book…

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Yes I’m back and once more flogging something. I remember when I used to write all about my life and views on politics here. That seems like an age ago doesn’t it? At some point soon I really should get back to that…

So after the relatively successful debut quiz book The All New Pub Quiz Question Book for 2017 (which is still very much live and still for sale) that I put live a couple of months back, I decided that I’d do another. Doing this breaks up some of my other works as writing creatively sometimes you just don’t have it. My latest fiction piece really bummed out my partner as the main character does not shall we say, get a happy ending. Anyway that is a story for another day and another pen name. Moving on…

Late last night my second quiz book focusing on Pop Culture went live on Amazon. Once more it is (I think) rather competitively priced at £2.99 and would be good for anyone who just likes to challenge themselves against a variety of quiz questions, for anyone setting up a quiz night or just for a bit of fun with the family over the holiday period.

Like last time I have used the pen name of our cat and have promised her tins of tuna for every 50 books that it sells. She’s licking her lips at the prospect already. She really goes crazy with tuna, nearly as much as she does with prawns, man she really loves prawns.

Anyway I’m digressing like I often do when writing on here. If you want to purchase Pub Quiz Book: 500 Quiz Questions on Sport, Music, Movies & TV Shows and support my endeavours (along with getting Misha closer to her reward tuna) then follow the link to the Amazon store. Any positive reviews would also very much be welcome!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

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December 21st, 2017 at 4:37 pm

Posted in Random Stuff

On dabbling in the world of writing quiz books…

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So a few months ago my working life was shall we say, turned upside down and I had to work out what I wanted to do next with my life. After essentially spending the summer chilling out, my girlfriend and I sat down to talk things through. What I wanted to really give a go was writing some fiction books. It was something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Luckily I had squirrelled away some money for a rainy day so I could actually give it a fair crack of the whip and earn peanuts for a while to see if I could actually do it.

I’m happy to say I have written a few short stories and the sales are trickling in. It is a slow process but my latest work has come out of the gate at a reasonable pace and is already well on the way to earning me the same money as if I’d have worked a minimum wage job for the hours I’d put into writing it. I won’t promote them here because I am writing in a genre where having a pen name and anonymity is nice. You can probably put two and two together but still…

What I will promote here is another sideline I’m writing and that is quiz books. I have three already live (one 500 question Pub Quiz book, one World Cup Quiz Book (1966-2014) and a short sports anagram book). These are what I write when mentally I don’t feel creative but actually want to get something worthwhile done. I have several more in mind that I’ll hopefully collate and publish over the coming weeks and months.

The big one though is the Pub Quiz book that you can buy for £2.99 on Amazon should you be interested in challenging yourself or others to a 50 round marathon of General Knowledge questions (and if you do buy it, giving me a nice review would be grand). This has been my most consistent seller out of my non-fiction works and is something I’m genuinely proud. It took a lot of time to research and work on.

Some of the rounds I’m most proud of that are not exactly standard pub quiz rounds are Friends Guest Stars, Speakers of the House of Commons, Where to Eat/Drink in TV/Film, Norse Mythology and Comedian One-Liners. There is something for everyone though and if you are planning to run a quiz but don’t want to have to sit down and write it, this is the ideal book for you. If you just want to sit around and test yourself against 500 General Knowledge questions then it is ideal in that respect too.

Anyway enough with the shameless self-promotion. I just wanted to write a little bit on why this blog has been slow recently, it is because I’m either writing and researching quiz books or I’m writing fiction. To that end I have my first novella length book about 60-70% written (already 20k words) and another 10-15k book set to launch within the next few days. So I am busy and I do still care about politics and such, it is just I’m writing so much that will hopefully net me a quid or two that I don’t have much time to dictate to writing on this blog at the moment (and yes I know, don’t worry, I have an editor who shortens my rambling sentences and notices erroneous words etc).

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Written by neilmonnery

November 9th, 2017 at 7:07 pm

Posted in General

On why Nick Clegg was fair and accurate in his ‘Join Labour’ comments this week…

without comments

Come on then, a show of hands. Whoever thought that I’d be defending Nick Clegg? Me of all the people. The person who has defending him a pretty much every turn in the road. Oh wait, all of you? Fair enough.

So yes, Nick Clegg has ruffled a few feathers in the past day or so after he came out and said that the country is in a state of emergency regarding Brexit. I think we can all agree on that so fantastic. What he proposed though has caused a lot of Lib Dems to want the former leader to be thrown out of the party. For you see, he advocated those whose primary objective was solely to stop Brexit and you hadn’t been politically active before then maybe the time was now to get involved and join either Labour or the Tories.

The extracts are below:

“Join the Labour Party and make your voice heard. It may seem odd for a former leader of the Liberal Democrats – and someone who has fought against the illiberal habits of Labour all my political life – to advocate joining the Labour Party.”

“And, as a lifelong card-carrying member of another party, I won’t be doing so myself.

“But if you are someone who has never joined a party, or perhaps has been inclined to join Labour but has never got round to it, or if you are simply someone who recognises that the importance of Brexit is far greater than individual.

“At a time of national emergency, and for as long as Parliament is dominated by Labour and Conservative MPs, it is undoubtedly true that what happens within the two larger establishment parties is of the greatest importance.

“So if you can’t stomach joining the Labour Party, if you are ideologically inclined in a Conservative direction in any event and if you also believe that Brexit is the issue of our times, then joining the Conservatives is another route to make your views felt.”

How very dare he I hear you cry. How could any former leader of the party ever advocate joining another party. Not even Paddy Ashdown did that with More United, he just wanted an Anti-Tory alliance but Nick Clegg, well I never.

Yet unsurprisingly I can very much see his point. The Lib Dems have 12 MPs and will not be able to significantly move the needle on the Brexit issue in this parliament. So if the EU question is your overriding reason for wanting to get involved in politics at this point then the Lib Dems isn’t a natural home. If you want to stop Brexit from happening then you need a time machine or have one of the two big parties move their position on Brexit.

The Tories have a pretty clear position and are unlikely to move unless Theresa May goes and somehow Ken Clarke runs for and gets elected leader. I wouldn’t be putting much money down on that. So that leaves Labour where the party as a whole are generally Pro-Europe but the leadership aren’t and they are scared to stick their flag in the sand to show what side of the line they are on. Pitiful but depressingly, they are the only party who could really force the Tories hands if they swung wildly to the Remain side of the debate.

For us, we had our Brexit surge after the EU Referendum and then when the 2017 General Election was announced, three was a further influx of new members. The Lib Dems were (and are) the party of Remain but instead of really staking out our position, we dithered and put together a terrible GE campaign position. That left those people who were ready to back us enthusiastically wondering whether they should bite the bullet and vote Labour in the vague hope that they would win enough to hold the Tories to account or even win and then Jeremy Corbyn might change his position.

Once Jeremy Corbyn got his momentum (no pun intended) and Theresa May’s campaign fell around her like letters on a speech backdrop, the dye was cast. The floating voter looking to stop a hard Brexit didn’t flock to the yellows but instead went red. Many Lib Dem members (many of the new ones if you read online forums etc.) were pleading for tactical voting and for alliances. A not insignificant proportion of those did not vote Lib Dem as they just wanted to vote for the best person that could stop Brexit. In many clear LD/Con battles, they went Labour anyway and they bypassed the Lib Dems in many traditional LD/Tory battlegrounds to the point of winning the seat. Depressing.

Still though that has left us with little influence in this parliament. With the country not set to go to the polls again until after Brexit has started and we are either in a transitional period or out altogether, if you want to influence it then it is highly unlikely you’ll be able to do it via us.

Now in a couple of years once the shit has started to hit the metaphorical fan and we are the unabashed Pro-EU party then we might be the place to be if you love the EU. For now though, with no election due until after this all happens, the Lib Dem influence is not that great. So if (and only if) your political motivations are solely to stop Brexit then I can certainly see where Nick is coming from. Would I have preferred he not say it? Sure. Do I think it was unwise? Yes. Does it make sense though? It actually does.

The time is now for us as a party to focus on domestic policies and to find a way to get these out front and centre. Brexit is the beast whose shadow looms over politics and will do for years to come. The public though are resigned to it happening in some form because heck, that is what the country voted for. We might not like it but it was democracy in action.

Jeremy Corbyn surged not because of Brexit but because people liked that they heard about domestic policies. That is why we have a hung parliament and only 12 MPs instead of a large Tory majority and 30 odd Lib Dems. Sometimes I just feel we are all caught up in this Brexit world when in fact plenty of other things are happening every single day and if you aren’t do much about Brexit, why not start to try start influencing things you can?

Still, I fully expect Brexit, Brexit, Brexit to dominate the Lib Dem spectrum for years to come…

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

October 6th, 2017 at 11:06 am

Posted in Politics

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On the rabid inflation of tuition fees as a political issue…

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Tuition fees. No two words in the English language drive more fear into a Lib Dem heart. It has become not only a stick for other politicos and the media to beat the party with but the electorate themselves think a stick is far too tame and keep imploring the previously stated politicos and media to turn that stick into a baseball bat, then drive in some nails to said baseball bat, coat the baseball bat in cow pats and then and only then start swinging at the Lib Dems.

As has been written about here (and on many other fine websites – and some bad ones too no doubt) this has been a lot of the Lib Dems own doing. We can go around and around in circles about the nuance of the Lib Dems were a junior partner in a coalition and did actually put a lot of their 2010 manifesto into place but no-one cares about facts, facts are for losers, we live in a post-fact era and the only things that make sense are black and white, right and wrong, Will or Gareth (ok that last one is quite an old reference) but I think it is fair to say that the simpler the better when it comes to issues these days.

I do wonder though at times how we actually got to the position where we are. On Sunday Vince Cable penned a piece about Brexit and how it hurt the chances of young people not only now but potentially for generations to come. Most economists would agree that this is an accurate statement and that Brexit will not be beneficial in terms of either jobs, opportunities or salaries going forward. Yet instead of people going ‘right on Vince’ ‘You tell it like it is’ ‘fuck me that old geezer actually knows some shit’ or words to that effect, social media was full of one issue, yes, tuition fees.

Apparently tuition fees is an issue that won’t ever go away, it is radioactive and will still be used to bash the Lib Dems in 2197 when the aliens invade but allow humanity to have an election on whether they should be enslaved or not. The Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell will implore people to reject enslavement and embrace freedom but the hard left will go, ‘well you lied about tuition fees so I can’t trust you, now where do we sign up for a stint at the sulphur mines on Rigel IV?’

For you see tuition fees has very little to do with actual tuition fees. The policy is inconsequential to the emotion that people feel when talking about them. Families and young people want their children to have every opportunity going and therefore believe a free education for as long as they want it helps enhance those chances to find a path they’ll enjoy and will bring them a good life.

Fair point you would say but when the country is facing an obstacle that won’t just pinch financially but will actively shut down opportunities and jobs, the very same people who are desperate to keep education free are far more blasé. It is like they can’t see the big picture and that put side by side, tuition fees is a grain of sand whereas Brexit is the entire beach.

This doesn’t even take into consideration the actual cost to the tax payer of free education at higher institutes of learning. That is a debate that very few actually want to have but it is a legitimate one. Most people can understand and tolerate their taxes going towards health, defence, crime prevention, education up to adult years but why should someone who earns a low salary be part paying for someone they don’t know to study Philosophy at the University of Central Lancashire? I’m not saying I have that opinion but what I am saying is I can see that opinion and it is perfectly justified.

When Labour introduced tuition fees and then top-up fees when they were last in government, it was a story for a day or two and then life moved on. For the Lib Dems though it is something that everyone wants to throw at them mercilessly. Labour were able to win a fourth consecutive term in government even after an extremely unpopular war because the electorate took into account the whole picture. Now though people want to find a small issue and use it to supersede the bigger one.

Tuition fees was a dark day for the Lib Dems but Brexit will be an eclipse for the whole country for generations. Yet as Jeremy Corbyn leads Labour forward and quite possibly towards government, he does so still envisioning and supporting a departure of the EU that will leave his supporters poorer and with fewer life opportunities. They know this but they don’t care because they’ve grown to see that life (and politics) is simple. Good and bad, black and white and Jeremy Corbyn is good.

A lady called Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett wrote in the Guardian a piece entitled Brexit will be catastrophic. Yet I still support Jeremy Corbyn and it sums up everything I have said here. A devout Corbyn supporter who knows that he’s happy to screw her over but yet is still highly enthusiastic towards the man. ‘I felt politically homeless (because of tuition fees, I would never countenance voting Lib Dem)’ she writes as once again tuition fees is clearly a much bigger issue than Brexit and that my friends (and enemies and those who are indifferent towards me) is the where we are today.

Tuition Fees 1, Brexit 0. One day future generations will look back at ours and wonder why anyone ever felt that killing off the liberals was worth it just over an issue like whether adults should all be entitled to free education. It may be important but compared to what else is going on not only in the world but also in our back yard, it isn’t even in the top 25 issues yet for a great swathe of the electorate, being morally superior is vastly more important than making better lives for themselves, their loved ones and for those who come after them.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

August 8th, 2017 at 2:36 pm

Posted in Politics

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