The Rambles of Neil Monnery

Another pointless voice in the vast ocean that is the interweb

Archive for April, 2013

One second can change your life – Zebra Crossing (near) accident edition

with one comment

Life can be a bit fickle can’t it? In the blink of an eye everything can change not only for you but also for many others. One small thing can lead to giant consequences and life altering situations. One of those situations happened to me today and to be frank I’m relatively lucky not to be in a hospital right now, at best.

Many years ago (2000 or so) I should have died on a zebra crossing. There were four lanes of traffic and the green man was all lit up and I was walking across. In lane three there was a double decker bus and therefore i could not see what was coming in lane four but with the green man all lit up I didn’t exactly worry but as I stepped into lane four a speeding car whooshed through. I was already a step inside the lane and I saw and heard it and put on the emergency breaks but as I did so my momentum was still travelling forward and my upper body kinda hovered over the car and then when it passed my feet moved to stop me falling into the road. It was most surreal and my phone went but seconds later and I remember answering it, ‘I should be dead.’

It showed me how one second can indeed change your life. Had I been one second earlier then the likelihood is I wouldn’t have taken another breath as that car was travelling easily at 40+ just going straight through the red light. Well today a similar situation arose. I have had instances where cars have just gone through zebra crossings before – even when I’ve been on them but this one was different – this one I managed to clock the driver and noticing that she wasn’t looking at the road saved me at best a trip to A&E and who knows what else.

Outside my apartment is a zebra crossing and I was off into town to do some food shopping. To my right a car was turning and to my left three cars were coming and they all decided not to stop for the person on the zebra crossing. The traffic to my left had stopped and I went to walk across the road. Then I flicked back to my right and there was another car and it wasn’t slowing down and I managed to glance directly at the driver. She wasn’t looking at the road. She was looking down the Broadway either at the car that had just turned left or the parade of shops. She had no idea I was there just starting to walk in front of her.

Luckily I had clocked this and I only took one step before stopping and letting her swish by. As she went by she finally swiveled her head back towards the road and still she didn’t see me with essentially half a foot out in the road. I’m perfectly fine but it made me think that by her not looking at the road/ahead for just a second or two it could have led to her life being dramatically altered as well as mine. I was lucky I noticed she hadn’t noticed me. She was coming from a long way away and had she been looking forward there is no doubt she would’ve seen me and had ample time to just cruise up to the zebra crossing and let me cross. Instead she was travelling at a good 30-40 and not looking at where she was going.

Just goes to show that small, what seemingly are inconsequential decisions, could lead to rather dramatic consequences.

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

April 30th, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Posted in Random Stuff

Tagged with

Why shouldn’t UKIP get a voice at any PM TV Debate?

without comments

Local election campaigns are in full swing across the country (although not here in Southend-on-Sea) and there is only one story that seems to be coming out. This story isn’t about whether Labour will make gains against the Tories. The story isn’t about whether the Lib Dems will stop the hemorrhaging of votes/councillors. The story isn’t about whether the austerity will hurt the Tories. The only story I keep reading about is the surge of the UK Independence Party and what this means for the future.

I must admit my gut feeling is that UKIP will be like a fast burning love affair. They will burn oh so bright but they will not burn for a long time. The fact of the matter is there are a significant number of people who don’t like nor trust politicians. The whole expenses scandal has left politicians looking up at journalists in the respected by stakes, which is not a good place to be. Heck divorce lawyers are more respected than politicians at the moment. UKIP are promising a breath of fresh air and to put Great Britain first and not to kowtow to Brussels and the EU. It isn’t like the UKIP leader has taken (to 2009) around £2million in tax payers money from the EU in expenses. Oh wait…

They are basically scratching the itch of those who are disenchanted with modern politics. They are different they say. The system is crooked they say. Nigel Farage has seen a stronger eye on his party in recent days as it has come out that they have struggled to vet their candidates. Some of them seem to be less than desirable and certainly not the type of people you’d want in any position of power. The main issue is a lot of people vote for the party and not the candidate so if you don’t vet properly then you may find you have councillors representing the party who don’t truly reflect the views of the party.

The UKIP leader is not happy with all of this, ‘Have you met the cretins we have in Westminster? Do you think we can be worse than that?’ exclaims the 49 year-old. On one hand he has a point that all parties have the odd person who deep down you aren’t sure truly reflects the parties values and you get a sense they aren’t being their true self. When it comes to UKIP though who knows?

However this blog isn’t about that. It is about the talk over the possibility of more PM TV Debates in 2015. Stories in the press over the weekend have linked Labour to the Tories in wanting to keep out UKIP. Remember Labour do not want the Lib Dems in because they formed a coalition with the Tories so think any Lib Dem leader should share a platform with the Tories and Labour’s deputies because that is as high as they could ever be. Gotta love Labour’s stance on that. So in Labour’s eyes any debate would be two-way between them and the Tories. The Tories are happy for three-way with the Lib Dems also involved. We don’t know the Lib Dem view as yet.

My view though is extremely simplistic. If a party is putting up enough candidates to form a government then their leader should be invited to join the other leaders in these debates. The SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and others were unhappy about being left out last time but none of them were fielding enough candidates to form a government and their leader could never be Prime Minister so their place in any ‘Prime Ministerial Debate’ did seem relatively pointless. The likelihood though is that UKIP will be putting up enough candidates across the country and in the interest of democracy they deserve the to share that platform in my eyes.

We saw last time that Nick Clegg’s profile rose dramatically throughout the process last year and at one point, in one Sunday poll the Lib Dems actually led. As we all know though that extra exposure translated to over a million more votes but actually fewer MPs. It also led to far more scrutiny in the right-wing media as they went to town on the Lib Dems and on Nick Clegg in particular. This worked to some degree and should Nigel Farage and his party get the same exposure they would be subject to the same level of scrutiny.

My feelings on UKIP are pretty clear but I also believe in fairness and equality (good liberal traits there) and if UKIP are in a position where they could feasibility (no matter how unlikely) form a government if everything went right for them on polling day in 2015 then they deserve the right to share that platform. It is up to the other parties and particularly their leaders to show UKIP for what they are and to get the public to vote for them and not Nigel Farage’s lot.

The thing is we all know that the moment UKIP get any power (either at local or national level) the public will quickly realise what they have done. At a local level voting UKIP will not change anything to do with the EU or tax rates or immigration which is basically what UKIP are all about. So a vote for UKIP locally on Thursday is basically saying, ‘we hate them all and even though they can’t follow through with their primary objectives in local governments we’ll vote for them as a symbol of our anger towards national issues.’ When it comes to national issues though their rhetoric of being anti-EU and anti-foreigners is actually something they could act on.

UKIP are unlikely to ever have a Prime Minister, they are unlikely to ever be in a position to form a coalition but as they say – you never know. UKIP’s core support is with the older generation – a YouGov poll in February found that only 15% of UKIP support comes from those under 40 – the fact is the older generation are more likely to vote.

For me I don’t see UKIP as a viable party and are just a protest against the status quo and the current financial climate. The moment the economy pulls itself out of its funk and the countries finances are balanced then the need for a protest party will dissipate. This will happen but it won’t happen before 2015. So let UKIP play with the established parties and give them the opportunities that they deserve. I just hope they shoot themselves in the foot when they are under a serious national spotlight. It is easy to protest when their are few repercussions but when it comes to a General Election protests are harder because actions (and votes) have consequences.

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

April 30th, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Posted in Politics

Tagged with , , , ,

‘I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.’

without comments

The words of Jason Collins as he comes out in the latest edition of Sports Illustrated to become the first openly gay male athlete in any of the major north American team sports. This is a big thing and it is about time it happened.

As you all may know I’m a huge NFL, MLB and NCAAFB fan but the NHL and the NBA kinda pass me by as I don’t enjoy the sports too much. So I don’t know this guy from Adam but what I do know is he is an active player and he has decided it is time to open up the conversation. A couple of weeks ago Brittney Griner came out and now just a few days later a man followed suit.

In a self-penned essay in the latest edition of the magazine 34 year-old Collins writes about his struggle and one paragraph in particular stood out, ‘When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.‘ I would certainly recommend reading the entire article linked to above to get a full sense of what he has struggled with over the years.

The situation has changed and the tide is changing for people to be more open about their sexuality. I watch two American Sports Talk shows daily and everyone was happy that he had felt able to come out but also it was noted that this wasn’t Jackie Robinson breaking the colour barrier nor Billie Jean King beating Bobby Riggs. Sadly not everyone in the industry is cut the same way and step forward Chris Broussard:

Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly, like premarital sex between heterosexuals. If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits. It says that, you know, that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, whatever it maybe, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the bible would characterize them as a Christian.

Now it has been a while since I’ve read my Bible. In fact I don’t own a Bible but I know the odd passage, ‘Judge not, lest ye also be judged.’ (Matthew 7:1). ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’ (Luke 6:31). ‘In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.’ (Matthew 7:12). Now I grant you the bible also has texts that counter this but the bible should not be taken in a literal context as if you did then you’d get nowhere as there are so many texts that are actually polar opposite.

Mr Collins finally seems at peace with his sexuality and that is what all want to be. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong with being attracted to people of the same sex. Happily the early signs coming out of follow north American athletes are seemingly full of support for the player. The thing is if you are a professional athlete in a team sport the overwhelming likelihood is that you have played with a gay team mate. As a fan the overwhelming likelihood is that you have rooted for a gay player at some point in your sports watching.

I hope this man’s decision accelerates something similar happening here in the UK. Sexuality is just part of who we all are and at some point a big name Premier League player will come out as homosexual and it will help others in the sport – and also more importantly young people – feel that there is nothing wrong with being gay. Society is coming around to this and the younger generation are – in general – far more open and accepting than previous generations. I hope we get to the point where sexuality doesn’t define us and is just a footnote in describing us akin to ‘likes soap operas, hates prawns, loves people of both sexes’ or similar.

Jason Collins is a brave man but I’m pretty sure the overwhelming majority of the NBA will support him as will the majority of the paying public. This is a huge step and one that shouldn’t be understated and now I await to see when someone still active in the major British sports feels comfortable enough to follow suit. Sadly I fear I will be waiting a while as the vocal minority are still extremely vocal.

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

April 29th, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Posted in American Sport

Tagged with

If I could go back to (insert date here) would I…?

with one comment

It is a question I often ask myself when laying in bed or sitting on the throne, if I could go back to (and then I think some random date) would I go back and I ponder how happy I was at that time compared to how I am now etc. Well in the interests of a blog post I thought I’d look back at how I was at the end of April every year for the past ten years and see if I’d go back to that time or not.

Note: Obviously I’d go back in time and just before the huge EuroMillions jackpots were drawn go back and play the winning numbers so lets ignore that.

2003. I would have been coming towards the end of my first year at university in Farnham. I was happy where I lived and had made some pretty good friends. University was going along ok and I was cruising towards passing the first year. At this point in 2003 I had actually had a few dates with someone (cue SitCom studio audience going ‘ooooo’) but it would not go any further due to her meeting someone else (ahhhh) but I had just witnessed Pompey winning the league so that was good. Would I swap 2013 for 2003? Maybe I would but only because I would like another crack at the whole uni thing.

2004. I would be just days away from doing Jury Duty and I genuinely enjoyed that. I would be just a couple of days away from handing in my final assignment of my second year so I’m probably sitting at my PC trying to string together 3,000 words of cohesive text about some rubbish. No love interests at this point in 2004 and that I fear will become a recurring theme as I rack my brains. I’d swap 2013 for 2004 only because of Jury Duty and I’d be set for my last summer with my IoW based friends before never returning there on a full-time basis, which still shocks me now.

2005. At this point I was arguably at my most lost throughout this blog post. I was coming to the end of my degree and had fallen out of love with Journalism. I had no idea what the future held and the real world was actually pretty scary certainly when it became clear that I would not be able to move back to the IoW. No love interests at this point and certainly no reason to swap 2013 for 2005.

2006. I was lost in 2005 but by 2006 I had found myself. Volunteering in a charity shop had given me a large self-esteem boost and more of a purpose. At this point I had very few friends that I would actually see though and this I suspect was the start of my more reclusive nature socially. I didn’t really know where my life was going at this point but I was more comfortable with the journey. Wouldn’t swap 2013 for 2006 though despite being relatively happy at this point.

2007. Bizarrely enough despite being unemployed at this point in 2007 I was immensely positive that something good was just around the corner. I had got down to the final two for a job at The Sun which strangely enough a friend of mine actually does these days. Knowing that a large company like that could have some interest in me I felt positive something good was around the corner career wise. However yet again I wouldn’t swap 2013 for 2007. Notice no love (or potential love) interest since 2003, that has to change shortly right? Err…

2008. All change please. All change! Well for the fifth consecutive year on April 29 I was living in a different place and this time I had an exciting job to go with it. Hurrah! I was living in Aldershot working as a Sports Editor (right up my street) and was more than comfortable with my home situation. Smallest double bedroom ever but heck cheap rent, Sky TV and good housemates. Yep good times. However the job whilst being great on paper had one or two drawbacks, mainly stemming from essentially working solo on a project and having no one to bounce any ideas or just talk sport with in my office. When you work in an office full of people who genuinely dislike you then you struggle to stay motivated. Pompey are about to win the FA Cup but that is still a surreal day in my memory and not the exciting one I would have imagined it would be as a kid. Would I swap 2013 for 2008? Possibly but only because I have learned so much since then that I could make a bigger success of that project than I did.

2009. No more Sports Editor for Neil as I had moved on to become part of the SEO team at a well known company on a contractor basis. Still living in the same place and still happy with that situation although I was looking to move solely because I now worked from home and needed space for a PC etc… Still no love interests. What was April doing to me through the years? Had some good times though around this point and was pretty contented however I would not swap 2013 for 2009.

2010. In a stunner I had moved back home for a few months to save some dollary-do’s as it were. I was still working in the same position and low rent and no bills really does help your bank balance. Living back in an area where you don’t really know anyone my social life went to the dogs again. I doubt I’d swap 2013 for 2010 though.

2011. So I’d moved out again and into my own place where I still currently reside. Same employment situation but now I had finally thrown my hat into the ring and just joined the Liberal Democrats. I would be three weeks away from writing the blog post that announced this blog to a wider audience. However I see nothing of too much value or interest happening in my life at this point in 2011 so no swapping here.

2012. This was not a good time in my life. My dad had just passed away and I was fighting an election campaign that deep down I just wanted to get out of because my head was elsewhere. This is the biggest no to swapping years that I have come across on this little journey to how I saw life on this (or around this) date in the past ten years. I’d hate to go back to where I was at this point last year.

So in the ten years the only years I’d think about going back to would be the first two uni years as I wish I had made more of that experience and possibly 2008 as knowing what I know now I am pretty sure that I could have made that project far more of a success (and I have more self-confidence now than I did then) so instead of just seething at certain things I’d face them head-on and hopefully be able to change the direction that the project was heading in.

In those ten years from 2003 through 2012 there was just the one occasion (2003) where there was something going on in my personal life and in all honesty that had finished but I wasn’t aware of this at the time. April has not been a great month for my personal life (although as we all know no month has really been a stream of successes) but for the record I think December/January can hold the claim for best month on this front with both of them laying claim to three years where I’ve had some form of interest on that front in the past ten years.

What I think this shows is in the main I wouldn’t like to go back in time although I wouldn’t mind giving uni another go around and that project from mid 2007-early 2009 could have been so much better but such is life. On April 29 from 2003 to 2012 I lived at seven different addresses (although one of them was twice in two different stints) so I have gotten around a bit on that front but I have actually stayed put at my current location for just under three years now.

So all in all for this addition of ‘If I could go back to…would I?’ I think in general I’d say no, no I wouldn’t.

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

April 29th, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Random Stuff

Tagged with

Nadine Dorries blocks Lib Dems on twitter for being ‘Lib Dem’

with one comment

Ah. Who doesn’t love a good Nadine Dorries story? It has been a while since her name has even passed into my consciousness. No doubt she has been extremely busy doing great things and saving the world. Or something. Anyway tonight there seemed to be a bit of a stir on my Twitter Timeline about her and the fact she was blocking Lib Dems from communicating with her via the medium on account that they were ‘Lib Dem.’

Please see the screenshot below.

Nadine Dorries Lib Dem Twitter

Nadine Dorries Twitter – 22/04/2013

Now blocking someone from communicating with you based solely on their political persuasion is fair enough if you are a muppet but if you are an MP then you kinda can’t do that – certainly if the person who instigated the conversation was in fact a constituent (which seemingly they are – or at least were). So yeah blocking people for that reason seems pretty petty and pathetic but it is no surprise.

My biggest issue with this whole thing is her saying that she has been ‘totally savaged’ – yeah Liberal Youth on twitter are the vicious ones. The fact she was getting slaughtered in the national media for her decision to swan off to the jungle and her other shall we call them eccentricities? Yeah it is those nasty Liberal Youthers who are the savages. If Nadine actually read everything about her on twitter she would know that the twitterati basically think as much of her as I do of mushrooms*.

I’m pretty sure Nadine has a brain inside of her head and she probably knows what a savaging was and a few people saying she hadn’t visited a school isn’t a savaging. Blocking people on twitter is all well and good if they are being abusive but for reasons such as this and then bleating that Liberal Youth are savaging her is about as pathetic as my attempts to get out of going to church when I was 11.

Ah well. We all love a good Nadine Dorries story don’t we…?

*Mushrooms are the most disgusting thing on the planet. They grow them ugly to warn everyone off the and they smell worse than a fried egg and yet people happily eat them. Are you mad people of the world. Are you mad? Can you honestly say you look at a mushroom growing in a field and think ‘I think I’ll put that in my mouth’ No. No you wouldn’t and yet people do…*shakes head in despair*

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

April 22nd, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Posted in Politics

Tagged with , ,

I became a man and I liked it…

without comments

Ok there are some things that if you don’t actually know me that you need to know. Firstly that I adore takeaway food but hate eating in restaurants. Secondly I still prefer jogging bottoms to jeans (although I have learnt that jogging bottoms should not be seen at any social occasion or even just walking to the shops). Thirdly that I fully believe Sky+ is my most beloved gadget and I fully wonder how we lived before it got invented. Fourthly I have Care Bears and lastly and possibly most obviously I am in no way an alpha male nor manly in any of the traditional ways.

If you know me well you’ll know all this but whilst I couldn’t care less about owning all the ten original Care Bears (there is a legitimate back story behind this) the fact that I’m not manly still at times leaves me a little bit uncomfortable. Society still expects a man to be able to fix things when they go wrong and not have to call someone in. So we get to the tale of the past few days…

Neil v the blocked sinks

Yeah…my bathroom sink has been blocked for months but it wasn’t a huge issue. I live on my own and bizarrely I actually have more bathrooms than people living in my place so I use the en suite and could ignore the bathroom sink issue. I did try using drain unblocker as well as soda crystals/vinegar and of course the plunger but nothing worked so I kinda just left it. It does drain just incredibly slowly. For example if I filled up the sink it would probably take a few days to fully drain away.

So anyway last week suddenly my en suite started draining slower than Eric the Eel swims the 100m Freestyle. This was a problem. I wanted at least one sink working so again I tried what I had previous tried to little effect. Next I bought a wire thing that you can put down the plughole and jig it about and it pulls up gunk. This worked in a very small way so I was stuffed. It was either call the landlord and call out a plumber or do it myself. It was time for me to become a man.

So last night I’m there in the en suite and I unscrewed one of the pipes and I have a look inside. It was relatively clear. Therefore I knew the problem had to be in the trap underneath the sink. I had tried to unscrew this before but it wouldn’t unscrew. This was problematic. So I’m jiggling the pipes and the trap as by doing that the water seemed to trickle away and suddenly the trap came off in my hand. Water gushed out and then I saw what was in the trap. Wow. It was completely stuffed up with a hard plaster type substance. No surprise then that my sink wasn’t draining.

I scrape out the gunk and I do mean scrape it out. Then I stick my fingers up the pipe and clean out all the gunk and screw the trap back on. I turn on the hot water tap and it is draining so I put it on full blast and leave it to run for a minute or two to clean out any further small levels of gunk down the pipe. It drains well. I go to bed happy in the knowledge that I’d try the bathroom sink today.

Sadly though it was not that easy. My bathroom sink is hard to get to the u-bend (it has no trap) so I have to do it blind. I find everything I can unscrew at the back and finally find the two bits that connect the u-bend to the sink and to the pipe at the bottom of the system. This took me a while. I pull out the u-bend and it is exactly the same plaster type substance completely blocking it up. I must have some really hard water or something. So I run the hot tap through the disconnected u-bend (as I can’t scrape it out like the trap) and keep knocking it against the side of the bath. Slowly all the gunk piles out and I can’t believe how much there is. That is probably why it wasn’t draining.

I test the u-bend under the tap and it is clear and now I have to reconnect everything I disconnected. Again I’m doing it blind because it is against the wall and I can’t see anything. I get the top bit connected to the sink and find I have it on backwards. I unscrew it and turn it around and tighten it up again. Happily the bottom part is now lined up perfectly with the u-bend and I struggle to tighten it fully but it is tight. I run the hot water tap full blast again through the system testing both connections to ensure there are no drips and there are none.

Success!

Yes I logically and methodically fixed my two completely blocked sinks. I haven’t felt this manly in a long time and I’m immensely proud of myself. I’m pretty sure calling out a plumber for both would have cost my landlord a few quid and made me feel pretty stupid when I found out what the problem was and how easy (relatively) it was to fix once I had located where the blockage had to be. This has undoubtedly been a good start to the week and for a Monday morning it is pretty outstanding. I even had my March invoices paid into my bank account this morning. Good times.

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

April 22nd, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Posted in Random Stuff

Tagged with

The Best Ten The Voice auditions so far

without comments

I am a huge fan of the TV show The Voice. However like most shows I do prefer the American version so I thought I’d put together my favourite ten auditions from The Voice over the four seasons so far (although none of the top ten are from season one). Looking down this list I think it is pretty clear that there is a certain type of vocal I enjoy and that is quirky female voices.

I also much prefer the US judges and the way they hardly communicate with each other during the audition itself. They are busy listening to the vocal and aren’t asking each other if they are going to go. Also it is clear that doing a song I personally like – and doing it well – helps, for example with Cassadee Pope and Sarah Simmons.

So here we are. My top ten The Voice USA auditions so far…

10. Monique Abbadie

9. Tony Lucca

8. The Line – I’m afraid only the vocals and not video I have found.

7. Melanie Martinez

6. Caitlin Michele

5. Charlotte Sometimes

Charlotte Sometimes – Apolpgize – The Voice… by IdolxMuzic

4. The Morgan Twins

3. Cassadee Pope

2. Juliet Simms

1. Sarah Simmons

Sarah Simmons – The Voice Auditions (S4 Week 1) by IdolxMuzic

Just as a bonus my favourite so far of the UK version is clearly Leah McFall. Yep yet another quirky voice. I know what I like at least…

Leah McFall

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

April 19th, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Posted in Random Stuff

Tagged with

This ‘mummy tax’ and lumping it in with a ‘tax cut for millionaires’ – you what Labour?

without comments

Tax. We don’t like tax. We do like public services. The two of them go hand-in-hand so to get public services we pay tax. That is just the way of the world. Most of us have reconciled with that but then of course the debate is about who pays what and what do they pay for?

Well today the following image show up in my Facebook feed…

mummy tax

‘Mummy Tax?’

‘340,000 New mums to lose £180 thanks to David Cameron’s Mummy Tax’

Mummy Tax. Are you (expletive) kidding me? Just calling anything that just screams political spin of the likes Shane Warne would deliver should he ever turn over his arm in the political arena. The message along with the photo was thus, ‘David Cameron is prioritising a massive tax cut for millionaires over new mums and hard working families.’ So it is essentially a dig at the 45p tax rate for higher earners. However what the ‘Mummy Tax’ actually is hasn’t been explained on this image or the text provided but we’ll get to that later.

One thing I do know is that under this government (which isn’t Labour) the amount a person can earn tax free will have risen to £10,000 a year. This according to the people who do the math (or maths if you are one of those who don’t like the american terminology – I just think ‘do the math’ scans better) means that people will save £705 a year on tax. Now as far as I’m aware £705 is more than £180 but I am happy to concede that we are talking about two very different things.

Now this ‘Mummy Tax’ is of course related to the benefits freeze at 1% instead of inline with inflation. This new image or the text to go with it actually doesn’t explain that at all. I just Googled ‘Mummy Tax’ and a few notes popped up including that Labour had dubbed this part of the budget as that. Nice slogan. The ‘Bedroom Tax’ worked well for Labour but the ‘Mummy Tax’ if it stuck would be an absolute winner. The issue is it hasn’t stuck as yet but they are trying.

In an article on Sky News about it single mum-to-be Helen Mockridge had a pretty clear suggestion for a better way to reduce the deficit and I think this is what Labour are trying to get people to think.

“Taxing really rich people, obviously, that’s where the money should come from.

“For me it’s a real no-brainer and it makes me really angry that certain parts of society are very, very wealthy and the gap between rich and poor is getting bigger.

“That’s where the money should be coming from, not from single mothers or the disabled or any other vulnerable group.”

It is a viewpoint that a lot of people have but let us look at the realities of the situation. I’ll use myself as an example.

If I was ‘really rich’ then if I was going to get taxed to high heaven to help reduce the deficit then I wouldn’t live in the UK – and you know what – neither would you. If I was super rich and they put up the tax rate to beyond 50% then I’d look at it and think ‘really is living in the UK really worth paying x amount of millions extra in tax?’ and I know exactly what I’d say. See this is the problem with having a higher tax band at a vast level.

Most ‘Really rich’ people are happy to pay a fair amount but the moment they believe they are being unjustly targeted then they will up sticks and leave. When that happens they pay no tax to the UK government and no tax is not going to help with the debt. I remember a local Labour councillor telling me that he preferred the government collecting less taxation as long as the rich really got screwed as it was an ideological matter and not actually about the money collected. I couldn’t disagree more.

Tax is about money and about everyone paying a fair amount towards public services. The issue about these ‘really rich’ people is most of them have a choice about whether to live in the UK or not. So the government has to decide at what level will they get more of these people to live in the country and generate the most income. It is a balance and it isn’t easy. The best level for the higher rate tax band is whatever percentage generates the most income. The more the higher band collects then the less is needed from the lower bands. It seems like pretty straightforward economic sense to me.

So to lump the ‘tax cut for millionaires’ aka the reduction in the higher rate of Income Tax to 45% from 50% in with the Labour dubbed ‘Mummy Tax’ and say essentially that the government are getting the money from New Mums that they aren’t getting from millionaires is a lie. If the math (I did it again) is right then 340,000 (New Mums) x £180 is £61.2million a year saved by the government. Are the ‘really rich’ people contributing more than £61.2million to the government’s coffers? I think they are.

In PMQs when this first came about these were the figures the PM went with, At the 50p tax rate there were 6,000 people paying tax raising £6.7bn in taxes. The previous year when the 40p tax rate was in place 16,000 people were paying on that tax rate and they brought in £13.7bn in tax revenue for the Treasury. So more people paying less actually led to £7bn more money being raised.

This has been long and rambly (like most of my posts) but really linking the cap in benefits to the tax cut for millionaires is just bollocks. Also dubbing the benefits freeze at 1% as the ‘Mummy Tax’ just makes me want to vomit. If the reduction of the 50p tax rate to 45p brings in more money than at 50p then what will Labour say? All they can say is either ‘well played government, you’ve done a good job there’ or ‘we don’t care – tax the rich bastards as much as possible even if it means less money – we only care about making it clear we hate the rich,’ they can only go one of those two ways.

We shall see as they say but I’m pretty sure I know which they will go. Labour’s front bench doesn’t scream out, ‘we want to deal with the financial issues in the best way possible’ and instead you always get the sense their attitude is, ‘what can we do to make it seem like the Tories love the rich and hate the poor and in turn make us more electable?’

Head. Desk. Bang.

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

April 18th, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Posted in Politics

Tagged with , ,

My Lib Dem membership is up for renewal so I ask myself ‘Why be a member of the Lib Dems?’

with 5 comments

Being a member of a political party is slightly different to being just a supporter and a voter. It is that time of year where my membership of the Liberal Democrats is up for renewal and after a couple of years as a member it is always good to look at yourself and ask whether it is worth it.

I have decided that there are three reasons to be a member of a political party – National Issues, Local Issues and Personal Ideology. The big question is how many of those three do I (or anyone for that matter) have to be happy with to continue membership (or indeed join in the first place).

I’ll start with Personal Ideology.

Several weeks ago I was challenged to write about my Lib Dem Values. In a way it was also a way to see if my thoughts meshed well with that of the party. I am a liberal. I believe in liberal philosophy. I don’t really have to challenge myself on this at any level because I have always had a very similar viewpoint of the world and our place in it. No one person is born better or worse than the next person. Every person deserves the same chances and opportunities in life. If the Liberal Democrats still sit broadly in the liberal realm of the political spectrum then I can tick this box.

However National Issues is a harder thing to sit with.

I joined the party after the coalition was forced. Despite having always voted and leaned Lib Dem I never actually joined until March of 2011. So I was not a member of the party when solely in opposition so I do have a slightly different viewpoint to many others who have been members for far longer. The biggest difference between opposition and government is that sometimes principles and practicalities are mutually exclusive and something has to give way.

The question is at what point do principles become compromised unnecessarily? That is the problem the I personally wrestle with. Being part of a coalition does mean that we as a party will have to do things that we are not personally comfortable with. If we want to live in an isolated Utopian state and only do things that as a party we would be happy with then either win a General Election or be in opposition until the point where an outright victory occurs. Coalition will always mean two parties (or more) doing things that they are both comfortable and uncomfortable with. This is just the nature of the beast.

However when we see MP’s and the national party doing things that go against the will of the membership without getting an obvious trade back on another issue then it is immensely troubling. It can be said that the Tories have backed things they would have preferred not to during the past 35 months or so. It most certainly can be said that the Lib Dems have done just that and on multiple occasions.

People have left the party due to various issues since the formation of the coalition. Many leave strictly because of one principle gone too far and others because of an accumulation of principles they believed in being ignored and in some cases actively campaigned against by the upper echelons of the party.

It is hard to really back some of what is going on at Westminster. I like Nick Clegg. I like him a lot but unless he explains why he does some of the things he does and listens to the grass roots then it is hard to fully back him. We have gone past the point where we can believe in Nick Clegg and the national party with blind faith that they know what they are doing.

So this box I probably can’t tick so I’ll say it is an incomplete.

Lastly Local Issues.

I currently live in Southend. We have a Conservative run council (with a majority of one) and a rather interesting local political scene. The Lib Dems locally are good people (which is always a pretty decent start) and I think we can see some progress here. I wish the councillors would be better at talking about their achievements as it is rare to see them in the local paper talking about what they do – and some of them do excellent work and genuinely make a difference.

I do like to think that I live in the real world and the financial situation makes things very difficult for the Tory run council. Cuts do have to be made to make ends meet but there is always a question of what cuts and where. Do we cut along ideological lines or do we cut where those effected are those who can deal with being effected? This is where I struggle with what the Tories have done going into a voting pact with the Thorpe councillors (although now that pact isn’t needed) because Thorpe is the ward where people can deal with issues better than any other. So whilst those in Thorpe will be delighted at the reduction in car parking charges in the Broadway, that is money that is now not going into the coffers.

Also we have to work on what things are spent on – certainly the big projects. The Shoebury Youth Centre was a £2.9million building but it is hardly being used. Firstly we have to question why it was built in the first place but secondly we need to find a way for that building to become a viable part of the Shoebury community. There are issues like this all over the place and in general the local Lib Dems seem to be actively working on finding solutions to difficult situations and aren’t just sticking their heads in the sand and saying ‘those evil Tories are really evil’ etc…

So locally I think I can probably tick that I’m relatively content with what is going on. The local party are active and I do think that being part of it is worthwhile and it can benefit the local community if we continue to work hard and deliver on what we can do.

So two ticks and an incomplete. The National Party do concern me and do the pros outweigh the cons of being in coalition? I’m not sure. Are we losing our soul? Some may argue that and in all honesty I do not know the answer. However my ideology has not changed and being a member of the local party is I think worthwhile therefore it’ll be another year as a member for me…

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

April 16th, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Posted in Politics

Tagged with , , ,

Just catching up with things…

without comments

I have been relatively quiet on here for a couple of weeks. In reality I have been relatively quiet across all Social Media in the past couple of weeks. I have been in a sort of malaise regarding a lot of things. I’ve had a lack of energy and drive. This isn’t to say I’ve been down as you’ll find out later if you read long enough that isn’t the case but it has just been a general malaise.

Last week was weird. Like seriously weird. I’m not going to write all of the weirdness on here but there was a 48 hour period where pretty much everything that happened seemed to be the universe conspiring against me. However of course the universe doesn’t tend to work like that so I’ll just take it as a few freak occurrences that seemed to transpire in close proximity to one another.

So what I’d thought I’d do is blog briefly on the main things going on and we’ll see if I expand on any of these in subsequent days…

On Thatcher’s death…having been brought up in my formative years on a council estate with shall we say not Maggie lovers as parents there aren’t many tears being shed. However I do find it distasteful seeing people reveling in her death – certainly people who aren’t old enough to have seen her as Prime Minister. I was seven when she left office and don’t feel that I know enough to judge her time in office – nor her as a person. Even though my upbringing was certainly anything but Pro-Thatcher I just think the best thing to do – even for those who despise her – is to keep your own counsel and give thoughts to her family.

On the media…well my own opinion is what it is but I think I am in a position to look at and have strong opinions on the way the media have reacted. I think that considering the bias that the BBC is said to have to the left, that they have gone overboard on her passing. I also think certain right-wing newspapers have done the same. I know the former PM was very much a marmite person (I know so many people who hate that term but heck its true) but she was never Mother Teresa or Florence Nightingale and I get the sense some media outlets think she was more important and a better person than the pair of them put together.

On Lib Demmery…it is a strange year in Southend. With no elections in 2013 life is relatively quiet. We have seen the council change from No Overall Control to a Conservative majority of one following a defection to the Tories in recent weeks and that has caused an interesting domino effect. However don’t expect anything too dramatic to happen until around this time next year when we find out who is standing where across Southend.

On High Court victory…the fact that the Portsmouth Supporters Trust are set to take ownership of Portsmouth Football Club this week pleases me. Like everyone I can’t predict the future but I do know that it was PST or bust and I trust the trust as it were. With a ten-point penalty set to relegate the club it will mean Portsmouth travelling to Southend next season and should I still be living in the area then it’ll be nice to see the lads for the first time in a few years. You never know I could be commentating on the game!

On commentating…I think I have done seven or eight games so far this season. Only did one before the turn of the year but have done roughly half the home games since and have yet to see the Blues win. It has got to the stage where the security guy laments my arrival and said to me yesterday, ‘when I saw you sitting there I knew we were doomed.’ He says we need to get my jinx out of the way and luckily (or unluckily depending on your PoV) I’m behind the microphone for the last home game left of the season – Morecombe on Saturday the 27th.

On dreams…one thing I have learnt about myself is whilst we all dream every night, I only ever tend to remember my dreams when I’m stress-free. Recently I have been in a dream state many times with some extremely vivid dreams. These are both entertaining and at times concerning. Dreams are like your very own television show where usually you are the star. The thing is though clearly I’m feeling ok about life despite this general malaise that I’ve been going through.

On the week ahead…I’m out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings for various activities. My favourite TV show returns for its 9th season – Deadliest Catch and I’m still breaking in 12 new pairs of socks. I know how to enjoy life folks. I really do. Socks with large holes in are a thing of the past (for now) the only question left is will pj bottoms with holes in be a thing of the past? Yeah we’ll see about that…

So to sum up I’m still alive. I’m doing fine and I’m clearly relatively stress free. I hope that my blogging buzz returns soon.

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

April 14th, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Posted in Random Stuff

Tagged with , , , ,