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Day: September 17, 2013

Free School Meals. Good. Marriage Tax Allowance. Bad. However…

So the coalition government have found a billion pounds a year from somewhere and they had to decide how to spend it. Middle England believes that keeping parents in unhappy marriages will help solve some of the issues of ‘Broken Britain’ as apparently marriage and that piece of paper can change everything. I think this is bizarre and doesn’t exactly add up but still I’m going to look at the other portion of the one billion pounds a year and where it is going.

It is going to the kids, ‘why won’t somebody think of the children?’ shrieks Mrs Lovejoy but wait a minute wife of the poor beleaguered reverend. Somebody is thinking of the children. In July a review recommended a hot meal for all primary school children and this is a big step towards providing that as all children – no matter what the financial situation of their families – will get these free meals and this is an attempt to combat poverty from September next year.

The DPM said, ‘It’s my idea, it’s a Liberal Democrat idea. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long period of time. If we ever had the money, I’d like to go further and give all primary school children a good hot healthy meal at lunchtime.

My ambition is that every primary school pupil should be able to sit down to a hot, healthy lunch with their classmates every day. Millions of parents across the country are feeling the squeeze. Over the course of a year families spend over £400 lunch money for each child. I am determined to do all we can to help put money back in the pockets of these families.

‘We will start with infant school pupils because teaching healthy habits young, and boosting attainment early, will bring the biggest benefits. Universal free school meals will help give every child the chance in life that they deserve, building a stronger economy and fairer society.

Who doesn’t think this a good thing? Anyone? I thought as much. This is the type of thing that the Lib Dems can do in coalition government. If the Lib Dems were running the country then they would be able to fund this across all primary school children but for now this is progress. Of course if the Tories didn’t get their marriage tax allowance then we could do more but I think we have to realise than coalition politics is all about giving and taking.

In my (simple) mind it comes down to this. Is it better to have free school meals for all children in primary school in the first couple of years and the marriage tax allowance or have neither and that billion pounds going somewhere else or just sitting in the coffers? I think it is better to have the step forward in tackling child poverty even if it is coupled with a disappointing marriage tax break.

Coalition is all about compromises and this is one that I can certainly sit comfortably with. I think it is a sign that the party are growing up and tackling the things they can whilst in coalition. I know many Lib Dems disagree and think that we shouldn’t do any deals that allow the Tories to get anything they want in government if it doesn’t sit well with us but I think at some point people need to understand what is really important, married couples getting an extra three quid a week or 1.5million young people getting five hot meals a week?

To me this one is a complete no brainer. Nice one Nick.

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Fantasy, Fantasy, Fantasy!

No no no. This blog isn’t about what I’d do with [redacted] if she was up for [redacted] with [redacted] whilst wearing [redacted] and melted Mars Bars. Oh no. This is about another fantasy. Fantasy baseball. I have written before that I’ve been told that writing/talking about your fantasy team with people who aren’t in your league is amongst some of the most boring things that one can do but yet here I am and after a dramatic few days in my fantasy baseball league I think its worthy of a blog post.

In recent years I have totally scaled down my fantasy sport commitments. This year I have one fantasy football team and one fantasy baseball team and that is it. The fantasy baseball team is in a keeper league where we hold over half our major league players and half our minor league players each season. This is the eighth season that I have been in this league and I have yet to win it and have only appeared in the final once and the playoffs on two others occasions. However this year was different.

For most of the season I was seeded fourth and cruising into the playoffs. The top six make it. Yet with four weeks to go in the season I got a shellacking and went down 11-3 and dropped to the seventh seed. I lost the next week 6-8 but managed to have a big win in the penultimate week and that meant I basically had to do two better than the sixth placed team in the final week – so if he won his match-up 8-6 I’d need to win mine 10-4 etc…

Now my opponent was up against a long time friend and my friend did his job well and come Sunday I’d have to win 7-6 to qualify for the playoffs and things were tight. Several categories were tight and at various points throughout Sunday I was in and I was out. It was 6-6 and I had one players going in the night game that could win it for me. Aroldis Chapman the Cincinnati Reds closer. However I needed him to get a vulture win as I had saves locked up. I had already gotten a vulture win earlier in the day from Mariano Rivera but he got one as well. Disaster.

As the final pitch of the Major League Baseball season was thrown I was out of the playoffs but by the time that at bat ended the Fratton Yankees were in. I had done it. The Reds won it in the bottom of the 9th and Chapman was the winning pitcher of record. Rejoice. I woke up to a tweet from my friend who simply said as I had signed off Skype with the only thing that can save me was a vulture win from Chapman, ‘a vulture win like that you mean? Chapman gets the W!’ and boom boom boom. I was seeded sixth and would face the commissioner and third seed in the first round of the playoffs.

The commissioner has a fine team but over the past two years I have fluked wins against him in every single match-up. So the draw wasn’t bad for me. I lead the match-up most of the week but on Saturday I inexplicably left my star starting pitcher on the bench. He pitched great and I was livid with myself for just seemingly forgetting to make him active. Had I pitched him I would have won both QS and ERA and comfortably win the match-up but as it stood I was up 9-4 (with one tie) but he had three starting pitchers to go and several hitting stats were still tight.

By the time Masterchef Australia was in full swing I was down 5-7 (with two ties) and looked done but my Fratton Yankees are a resilient bunch. His starters were only able to grab ERA and lead QS but they couldn’t muster a win between them so I kept wins. Then my starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann pitched terrifically and tied up QS again to make it 6-7 and suddenly his batters were stinking the joint up and Batting Average was getting closer and closer and suddenly I was ahead there, up 7-6. I had one batter left to go and he was in a rain delay so I couldn’t take him out of my side. I did the maths and knew he could go 0/6 and I’d win but 0/7 and I was done. He went 0/4 and I survived to play on.

This week a rematch with the side I beat 7-6 in the final week to make the playoffs. I have a string of injuries but I’m still alive and after the first day I lead 12-0 but six more days and lots will change. The strange thing is my team are I think a year or two away as my minor leagues are full of top class talent that will reach the bigs in the next year or so. Miguel Sano, George Springer, Billy Hamilton and Lukas Giolito will be my minor league keepers and all of them have a real possibility of being significant impact players over the next few season’s. With the likes of Manny Machado, Yasiel Puig and Buster Posey already anchoring my my lineup and Jordan Zimmermann and Yu Darvish anchoring my rotation I might be a decent side for the next few years but my 2013 season is still going and I’ve wasted over 900 words talking about it.

I despair at myself and so should 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.