War and Peace 2016 style

No, I’ve never read the book.
But now I understand.
All the main characters are idiots.
Except Pierre, who’s not an idiot, but a clown, except when he challenges his wife’s lover, when he’s an idiot.
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But they’re only idiots, with particular strands of idiocy, to demonstrate the idiocy of the Russian ruling class in the early 19th Century.
Yep, the working class, then known as peasantry, are the knowing and intelligent, with a proper perspective on life, which is signalled in true BBC style by them not speaking in received English, but instead with a variety of regional English accents.
This a feature of both the 2016 and 1972 productions.
I’d taken to watching the 1972 version so as to better understand the characters and the story.
It benefits of course from being 15 hours long instead of less than 7 – with fuller explanations of the rationales for the idiocies – although the first 30 seconds were wasted on watching a large dinner table being set.
And as progressive as 1972 was, it still couldn’t broach a number of issues as well as the mores of 2016 allows.
So it was good to watch the new version, for a modern take, and for the spectacle and the colour modern TV technology can deliver.
It’s also prompted me to learn a lot more of the Napoleonic Wars (especially the battles of Ulm, Austerlitz and Borodino) and to realise that screenwriters still don’t know how to present the actions of leaders during battles (c.f.  Paul Greengrass’ ‘Bloody Sunday’).   Kutuzov it seems is not a genius (who understands when he can’t bring his military forces properly to bear), but a old moody man who was tired and didn’t want to fight.
Tolstoy doesn’t help here; nor is it clear how lead actresses like Lily James, who have to carry a major series by playing Natasha, can cope with having to start out playing a 12 year old.
OK, it was a good and great TV experience.  It was.
But if I ever get to watch it in full again, I will keep a count of how many times I feel the need to shout “you idiot” at one of the characters.  With a special column for Prince Andrei.

Fracking and local democracy

Over recent days, I along with fellow Councillors have received the following message –
“It’s been leaked that the government wants to change the law so big energy companies can drill for gas – or ‘frack’ – in our countryside, regardless of what local communities and locally elected councils want. It wants to strip your power to vote against fracking for our community, and instead leave it up to government ministers with all the vested interest shenanigans that entails.    I am concerned this will set a precedent for the government running roughshod over local democracy on any decisions.     Please will you write to Liz Truss, the environment secretary; Amber Rudd, the energy secretary; and Greg Clark, the communities secretary, to call on them not to go ahead with these undemocratic plans?”
Nottingham Labour Councillors prefer when receiving messages from supporters of mass campaigners to write a united reply, and we are saying –
“Thank you for taking the time to write … over the Government’s plan to remove the ability for Local Authorities to block any fracking within their area.   As you can imagine, as a local councillor I am against any policy that would take decision making out of the hands of local representatives. This policy would make for a dangerous slippery slope of centralisation and should be resisted.   If the Government do classify fracking as a national infrastructure project and remove Councils from the ability to accept or decline such schemes it would remove a vital voice for local people and that is something I could not support.   A representative of the Labour Group will write to the ministers you mention in your email stressing our frustration that the Government would suggest such a way forward.”
As a member of a Planning committee, I may in the future have to adjudicate on an application for the extraction of shale gas from under Clifton in Nottingham. So I don’t want to say too much more on fracking.
I am concerned that the nature and scale of such an operation may not yet be appreciated – hundreds of wells are expected for the North Notts field – and I wonder how people will perceive such installations when concerns over the visual amenity (or otherwise) has deterred the roll out of wind turbines and solar farms.
Meanwhile, only on Friday, I bumped into members of “Project SENSIBLE” who were canvassing in The Meadows to see if we can do more about storing solar energy in homes using batteries and water tanks.
In January, planning permission was renewed for a larger waste to energy incinerator at Eastcroft, reducing the amount of waste going to landfill.
And full council debated the city’s general progress on energy policy.
There is more to read on sustainable development here.

Lilian calling in Narrowmarsh

Calling on the estate of Cliff Road, Shortwood Close and Harnett Close.
– Pleasure at action taken to clear the playing field.
Concern over plans to take field away and with proximity of proposed new road.
– Many already contacted by a proposed Residents Association to replace the neighbourhood watch.
– A number of hedgerows and trees have been allowed to grow so as to walking on pavements has been hindered.
– Protection for Lime trees.
– Parking problems are generally tacked by permits, save for one complaint.
– A couple of properties feel the bathrooms need improving.
– Can more be done for recycling?
– Mixed views on Britain’s membership of the EU.
(For me, the proximity of BioCity was another reminder of why remaining in is important for jobs and prosperity.)

Light Night 2016

Wanted to join in with Light Night in Nottingham city centre;
and some members of the Meadows Library homework club joined in;
tricky pinning lime green stretchy nylon web to white stretchy nylon web.

Light Night is special.
Always brings a new way of seeing the city.
Pleased to meet a young lady planning to start a blog with an article on Light Night.
PorceLace are reworking some old lace designs and are also using lace patterns to inspire their pottery.

Listening out for issues at Muslim Centre

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With Nicola, listening out for issues and ideas outside the Meadows Muslim Centre.
Points raised included –
– lorries taking detours through residential streets;
– problematic street tree;
– hackney carriage hailing arrangements at Midland Station;
– opportunities for start-up businesses within The Meadows;
– some instances still of Islamophobia in threatening ways; and frustration too when these are not reported to the Police.

Housing developments at the outset and completion

Been briefed on proposals for housing development at the north end of London Road, on the site of the former petrol station; and between the canal and Notts County football grounds.
Opportunities for more homes and in very significant places.


With the significance comes the challenge.  How to make the buildings worthy.
Meanwhile, bit surprised at the number of minor issues arising at the completion off schemes of Green Street and off Wilford Crescent West.