Archive for April, 2017


Writing to your MP?

I said in my last post that I was a huge advocate of writing to your candidates for the coming elections. I promised a template letter, so here it is:
________

To XX

I am writing to you in regards to the upcoming local/general election (write to your candidates for both if you, but otherwise choose those who deal with the issues you would like to raise: The NHS is the general election, your village green is the local election).

At present, I am undecided about which way to vote. I was hoping that you could please clarify the following issues for me.

I believe that (the NHS needs more funding/local parks need better provision/Brexit needs to stop/Brexit needs to be more extreme and we should be leaving Earth, not just Europe… whatever you’re passionate about, this is the time to wax lyrical).

In order for this to become a reality I feel that (action to make your above thing happen) is a priority (i.e. funds should be redirected from MP salary to public services). Would you please inform me about what you are doing to achieve this, or of any other way in which you feel the above could be accomplished?

If you are unwilling to do the above, I would like to know your reasons – (issue) is a priority for me, but if our stances are otherwise compatible and your reasons for not prioritising (X) still align with my values, I would still be willing to cast my vote in your favour.

I look forward to your response and thank you for your time in helping me decide where to cast my vote.

Sincerely,

You

________

Firstly, if you haven’t already done so, PLEASE REGISTER TO VOTE. Then, complete the bits in bold.
At this point, you can either post your letter to your candidates, or email them. WRITE TO THEM is a wonderful website which allows you to do just that.

Otherwise, you can Tweet many candidates or reach them via facebook.

Once you’re satisfied and have found the candidate you feel will most represent your interests in the coming years, all that’s left to do is to cast your vote.

For those of you with the single purpose of stopping the Tories, this website gives you information about how to best cast your vote tactically.

To be counted.

It seems that we are likely to have a General Election. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. BEFORE THE GENERAL ELECTION, THERE WILL BE A LOCAL ELECTION.
    The local election will be held in May. EU CITIZENS ARE ELIGIBLE TO VOTE IN THIS ELECTION. Annoyingly, the local election is just as important as the larger, bonus-election that will be happening in June, but is likely to be overshadowed by the vote to decide the nation’s next leader. The local election will determine who is in charge of running your municipality.
  2. TO VOTE IN BOTH/EITHER ELECTION, YOU MUST REGISTER.
    British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens are eligible to vote in the general election. British citizens living abroad but who have been registered to vote in the last 15 years are also eligible.
  3. FOR PARTICULARS ON IF YOU’RE ELIGIBLE TO VOTE, PLEASE VISIT THE SITE BELOW:
    https://www.gov.uk/elections-in-the-uk/general-election

When registering, this is the site you’ll need: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Obviously, I can’t tell you how to vote, but unless you do, nothing is going to change, and I know that most of the people I know – if not all – are unhappy with some aspect of our current government. Or maybe you’re not, and you want things to go on as they are… regardless of your views, you need to express them at the ballots.

Over the coming weeks, I will be writing template letters that I will publish here so that if you feel so inclined, you can send them to those standing for office. I plan to outline what would sway me to vote in their favour and ask each politician what they intend to do to make that a reality. Campaign literature will only tell you what the politician thinks you would like to know and it is designed to be read and understood at a glance. Issues like NHS funding are so much more complex. Aside from anything else, direct letters are so much harder to ignore.

I hope you’ll all take the time to engage in this. Decades of voter apathy has left so many people feeling powerless, but in reality, if enough of us care and hold those we elect to account, we really can change things.

If you would like some inspiring reading, I’d recommend Emmaline Pankhurt’s autobiography. It’s available for free on Kindle.

The Shame

There are two things in my life that I am ashamed of. The first is a hideous, gut-eating, shin-bone-grating, teeth-popping sort of thing. The second is the sort of thing which leaves a lump of foolishness, sitting like a rock in your stomach.

When I was around eleven years old, I decided that I was going to write a musical. The charitable reader might allow that it was creative. It was not. The pivotal point of this operatic train-wreck was a concept so toe-curlingly ludicrous that I would rather procrastinate by paying my various bills than write the next sentence. Aside from the entire thing being sung to the tune of Don Mclean’s American Pie – by a girl who was asked by her junior-choir master to, “please mime lest the judges hear you!” – my musical addressed that age old question: What would happen if the USS Enterprise crashed into the Millennium Falcon.

I’m not even kidding. I had Kirk’s bastard alien offspring avenging his father’s death. I drew stage plans and made a lightsaber out of kitchen-roll tubes, sellotaped together.

I bent my friend’s ear off talking about it. Needless to say she saw it for the steaming pile of turd it was and went snickering behind my back to some of the other kids in my class… you can imagine where it went from there. It only took until that same afternoon for my rounding a corner to merit the thirty other children in my class, humming The Imperial March, or speaking Kirk’s Captain’s log, or any one of a thousand other very easy taunts.

But then we went to The Big School and all was forgotten.

Time passed and we grew up. And unique to our generation, the internet grew up with us. When I started my secondary education, the internet involved a blocked phone line and half hour loading times on simple html pages. Internet Explorer was still A Thing and multiple tab browsing hadn’t been invented. I had my first kiss to the news report that Napster had been shut down. By the time I started university, YouTube existed.

Which was a wonderful, terrible thing.

My friend and I both studied in Europe for a year. When we returned, we fell to talking about some of the things we’d done while we were away, and we fell upon the topic of German nightclubs. Had we been sober, my talented, musical friend would have pointed out that from what we saw on the continent, it appeared that our European fellows danced to the off-beat, rather than the beat (as we’d observed those in Norwich nightclubs doing). We were, however, far from sober.

To describe this cultural phenomenon, we kind of waved our arms about, “They dance like this!” I remember yelling, doing a little boogie. A housemate entered the room and asked what we were up to. We sat him down and told him that he should shut up, because we were going to teach him to dance like a German.

I cringe typing those words. But there’s no bills left for me to pay by way of avoidance, and besides, this needs saying: we made a video of our ‘tutorial’. We posted it to YouTube.
I took the video down the next morning but the damage had been done. Now that our video is on the internet, it can never truly be off the internet. If someone wanted to, they could search the archives and I’m sure that on some server or another, they’d find our hideous attempt at humour.

When I apply for jobs now, I fear that it’ll pop up on a search engine if someone types in my name. I worry that potential friends will somehow stumble upon it and mistake me for a close-minded fool. I worry that I will one day have to explain it to my children.

Thank goodness the internet wasn’t around when I wrote my musical. It’s one thing to explain away drunken shenanigans, but another entirely to have to justify the butchery of Don Maclean’s classic in the name of a sci-fi cross-over.

The thing is, the internet is around now. And more than ever, our children have access to the necessary technology for recording themselves doing all manner of stupid things in the name of entertainment. How will the boy who sung his own Minecraft-themed version of ‘Eye of the Tiger’ fare when he’s applying for university? How will he cope at University, when faced with a huge group of peers that has seen his Star Wars/Trek musical? Because my days of being haunted by Darth Vader’s theme tune ended when I moved to The Big School. I left my tormentors behind. Thing is… you can never outrun the internet.