Friday, 22 October 2010

Cute as a cupcake

Since I returned to student life, I must have made about 150 To Do lists, all scribbled on cheap Wilko ruled paper and lost to the bottom of a bag or the floor of a lecture theatre. Every time I tick something off mentally, another task pops up and I panic just a little. So I thought a while back of buying a little whiteboard to keep a rolling list of errands and course work, but even Argos, would you believe, charges extortionately for these things. I'm so glad I didn't buy this clunky school version, because today when I was in good old New Look (buying shoes, I confess) this absolute beauty of a board was in their crafty impulse buy section:

Not only does it pick up my largely-pink bedspread in a very white room, it also has cupcake doodles, is magnetic and makes homework that bit more fun. Oh, and it's only £7.99. Guess I can have my cake and eat it, Argos overlords.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Hate Never Dies

When I was little, I remember my sisters and I (along with some family friends we thought of as 'plastic cousins') singing a little ditty that went like this:

Margaret Thatcher, put her in the bin
Pop the lid on, sellotape her in

If she comes out, knock her on the head

Glory, glory, Margaret's dead

I didn't think much about it at the time, but this means I've been wishing the worst on Baroness Thatcher (albeit death by bin) since I was about six. I certainly knew who she was - this was John Major era - and in the finest black-and-white logic of childhood, that she was a Bad Person. The curious thing is that, as Thatcher vitriol was presumably not knocking around on the playground, our parents must have taught us this. There is something potent about propaganda in song which meant this zoomed back into my mind when I clicked on this link, posted on Facebook today. I can see how the site might be humorous, but I didn't laugh - I was interested. Something is so culturally consensual about the 'we hate Thatcher' standpoint, whether you're the son of a miner or someone who was three when she resigned. But I only realised today, as I watched people counting down to her demise and making playlists to celebrate, how little I actually know about the woman, her career and her legacy.

It is clear that with this week's cuts came a lot of bad memories, and Thatcher's reported bad health and hospital stays have been consistently linked in with George Osborne's announcements. Unemployment has become a regular part of the news again, and though people aren't quite as vitriolic about Cameron, the resigned feeling that the Tories are going to cock it up again for the Average Joe has been wafting around since before the election. Although unlike Family Man Dave, it seems to me Thatcher never wasted much time trying to be likeable.

Funnier than Is She Dead Yet was the irony of the Chilean miners' rescue dominating what should have been her 85th birthday. People were all over Twitter and Facebook with their Thatcher/Miner jokes. Largely people who hadn't even hit puberty when she was at the peak of her power. Obviously a bad legacy spreads, and we all rightly hate Hitler without ever having been persecuted by him, but it just fascinates me how one woman has dominated decades as the villain of politics. She was our first and only female Prime Minister, a fact eclipsed by her Iron Lady image and the social mess she left. Will we ever elect a woman again? It seems unlikely, for if she has the balls to head up a party she will no doubt be compared to Thatcher, but if she is as saccharine and smarmy like Cameron, she'll have no chance either. One thing people appear to agree on is that these new cuts have a good chance of recreating the depression and turmoil of the 1980s.

Johann Hari thinks that Osborne and Cameron have 'blindly obeyed the ideological precepts they learned as baby Thatcherites: slash the state, and make the poor pay most.' He makes a good case against the depth of the cuts; their disregard of the advice of prominent economists, the Financial Times, and the evidence that countries like South Korea, who stimulated spending following the recession, have made a better recovery. British history, not only the Thatcher years, but the post-WW1 recession, also suggests that this is not the way to go. Forgive me; I am not a politics expert or an economist. It just struck me for a moment how much the shadow of a dying 85-year old continues to hang over the news and common debate. Something doesn't sit well with me about stirring up a mob of people eagerly awaiting a person's death, whatever they've done, however long they've lasted - and while unemployment can have devastating knock-on effects, there was no genocide here, no dictatorship. She was not one person acting alone, in this country is is a party and a parliament who make things happen, for better or worse. Hari may be right about the 'colder and crueller' country ours has just become, but let's not forget the many people, organizations and events that contributed to that. Including your vote.

Image: The Guardian

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Big diff

Ok, so I moved to Cardiff, became a student... and stopped blogging. This is partly because of the exciting brand-new experience that is Cardiff Journalism School, and partly because we've had to start new blogs, open social media accounts from Flickr to LinkedIn, and my head is still spinning from all the online and mobile journo things I'm learning to do. So I will post properly soon. Right now, in honour of my jubilation at being back in Wales, here are my favourite ever Gavin and Stacey moments. Feel free to post your own as a comment - and if you haven't yet discovered G&S (by which I think we all know I really mean Nessa & Smithy), for the love of Bryn get yourself out and buy the DVD. Noswaith dda!

Oh, Doris, where's the salad?

Pete, have you thought about my bhunas?

Tell'em what gwarn' blud

Can we ALL stop calling it a HONEYMOON?

You can't denyyyyy me

It's no way to live
(actually any reference to Nessa's past, but there aren't enough good clips!)

More elaborate post to come soon....