Thursday, 19 June 2008

These abortion figures

This is truly terrifying. 198,000 babies aborted last year. For pity's sake, there were only 650,000 births. Thats almost a quarter of all pregnancies. Something is seriously, seriously wrong. And what do the "experts" say? More of the same please. More and more sex education for younger and younger children and this will solve the problem, we are told today. Yet abortions continue to rise, with the youngest and most vulnerable propping up these figures with huge percentage rises in teenage abortions, and a 20% leap in terminations for under 14s.

Let me say it. Few others will- Sex education is training young people for abortion. If you tell enough young people they can have sex with no consequences, they will, and suffer the very real consequences. Whatever your views on abortion, you wouldn't wish one on a thirteen year old. Don't stand for a system that does. Don't believe that if enough 12 year olds put enough condoms on enough bananas this will change. It won't.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Extra Bank Holiday? Yes Please.

But not to celebrate the contibution of Polish people to Britan as Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski suggests. I'm no less grateful than he for their contribution. I lived in a community with a number of Polish people a few years back. I was inspired daily by their resolve, charm and cheerful attitude. (I found one ravenously attractive. She went off to Jamaica to work with some nuns in an orphanage. What does that tell you?) The other thing I noticed was their sense of national identity and pride. When your homeland has been invaded and occupied as often and as recently as Poland has you tend to hold on to such things. Persecution of Catholics under Communism is also part of the reason why many Poles are dedicated churchgoers. So Poland's national day, the 11th November, is celebrated with fervour and passion as you would expect. Great, let it be so. Britain could learn a lot. How about a Bank Holiday for a British national day? When? I don't mind. Queen's Birthday for all I care. Or why not have four, for the Saints days of each of the countries in our United Kingdom. Our national identity and pride may never match that of Poland's. But let's start somewhere.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

What's more fragile than Paul Gasgoine's mental health?

The system that's caring for him, of course. Why it takes a former footballer to be let down by the system for anyone to realise what's going on is beyond me.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Tax on Breathing?

Ok, I get the point of taxing fossil fuels. I might not like paying so much in duty and VAT on petrol, but I do understand. I could do without city traders making a quick buck by gambling on its future price and adding fuel to the fire (geddit!) but such is life.

I got a bike for my birthday. I know I'm a bit old for such a gift, but it's a lovely thing with great riding position and really efficient skinny tyres. I might even be able to ride to work, if I get a bit fitter, saving the planet, money, and the NHS from my impeding heart attack. So how shocked was I when I glanced at the receipt for my new purchase and it showed the really sizeable chunk of VAT my family had just shelled out? Please, Mr Darling, can this be so? Can I really be taxed for wanting to get fit, drive less and save the world? What next, tax on tree hugging? Seriously, are you taxing the CO2 emissions I'll breathe out when riding it? We should be told.

Geography lesson from the BBC

Something horrible happened in Carshalton last week. It was widely reported. Children died. A true tragedy. But something I'd prefer not to think about, let alone write about.

Moving on then, to its reporting by the BBC. For the last three days they referred to the location only as Carshalton (pronounced "Carsholton", apparantly). I was wracking my brains. Surrey. It must be in Surrey. Or Lancashire. I'm sure. Lancashire. It must be a huge place for them just to be referring to it alone, and not a County. "Consett", they might say, without needing to add "Co. Durham". Then the penny dropped. They'd simply forgotten that those of us outside of London ("Who?" I hear them cry!) might just not realise where a small bit of the Borough of Sutton might be. So London I settled upon, and the Beeb kindly included "Carshalton, South London" for me today as proof that someone else has been complaining, and that I wasn't that far out with Surrey as my first guess after all.

If they are not careful, all sorts of things, such as a groundswell of support for a genuine alternative to all that's in Westminster now (i e clambouring to support detention without trial and human-animal crossbreeding) could be happening in the provincial, irrelevant North and they wouldn't even notice.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Arthur Cucumber?

I received a card the other day, depicting two surprised looking halves of cucumber meeting for the first time, with the caption "They found that not only had they been separated at birth, both were called Arthur Cucumber!" I failed to grasp initially that large numbers of Our Friends in the South (my wife included) have difficulty with "th" sounds. To their pronunciation this is immediately hilarious. It was my mother-in law who sent the card.

On this fine and sunny afternoon (in the North) I was sitting outside my office a mere 30 seconds into a cold drink when my employer pulled up in the car. He couldn't resist a comment about my "easy life" We sat and chatted. My work's going fine, for once. At home it seems everything I touch breaks down, vomits or cries. No wonder I needed some air.

His approach reminded me how much life can be seen as compartmentalised. People talk of "Work/Life balance" as if they're so cut off from each other that they'd be surprised to meet on the street ("Arfur!" they might shout...). I have a family, a faith, a little free time, a job, and now I'm dipping my toes a little in political thoughts and blogging. So why should it be that these aspects of my life should be kept in little boxes? To me they're inseparable.

Our last two Prime Ministers clearly have something in common- their faith is so compartmentalised that it patently has no bearing on their political decisions- Iraq and the HFEB being two notable examples. Please don't give me more duplicitous nonsense: "You’re best to keep politics separate from your beliefs" (Thanks, Tony.) Give me people whose genuinely held beliefs inform every aspect of their lives and policies. And if you don't, I just might. Again, watch this space.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Moved to tears by Diane Abbot? Yes, I'm serious.

I heard that humans are the only species which cries when it sees the difference between what is and what should be. It's obvious really; when a toddler sees a bar of chocolate and is told by a parent it can't have it, it cries, because what it wants and what is are different. Well I welled up on the way to work this morning, at two of Diane Abbott's Desert Island Discs. Music has such power to provoke emotion, does it not?

The MP for Hackney chose the South African National Anthem, that beautiful hymn to unity in diversity. That gets me every time, memories of the Rugby World Cup of 1995, Nelson Mandela in the Springbok shirt, scenes unimaginable just a few months before. When I hear of what is happening now in South Africa; hate crime on refugees, shootings, muggings, murder; it breaks my heart.

The second song was "Things Can Only Get Better" by D:Ream, used to celebrate the Labour election victory of 1997. I believed every single word, a young, hopeful voter as I was back then. Since then our government has waged an immoral and illegal war in Iraq and another against human life and dignity in the recent bill. It has abolished fatherhood. It has increased the tax burden on the lowest paid throughthe 10p tax debacle. The worst hit are still not compensated by the gymnastics Alistair Darling has engaged in on thresholds. So I hear the song, remember the faith and hope I had, and here I am, driving across the Town Moor in tears. What is, and what might be, and what a disparity. Young Catholics like me are crying out for a credible alternative. A pro-life, pro-family, pro-worker, anti-war alternative. They will not find it among the established political parties. I may have found something. Watch this space.