From celebration and hope to inequality and a stale funk

The opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics was an outstanding statement of how Great Britain could be seen. Just as it was all to be undermined.
Industrial revolution (cities and towns developed hit by globalisation). NHS (fast appointments and abolition of the waiting list lost through austerity). Wide range of musical cultures (lost through pop star competitions). Innovation (creating the internet, more debatable).

A decade of austerity. Fundamentally stupid as it deflated the economy where working people had secure jobs. Removed services that people with greater needs valued. Recreating old problems of homelessness, poor housing and especially poor private sector landlords. Life expectancy starting to fall, with specific examples like poorer dental health. Directing money away from local economies to tax havens. A labour market that became casual and did not help communities expecting jobs for their own families.

Politics in a stale funk. Issues heralded as catastrophes. Loss of emphasis on the ability of government and collective provision to solve problems; rather emphasising individuals’ brilliance at a time when it had become mediocre through cliques and lack of national ambition. Heralding virtue and moral superiority, rather than understanding and problem solving.
When Leftists took over, still the catastrophes, the cliques, the celebration of individuals, who were actually worse at persuasion, leading to a result akin to 1983, without the excuse of being able to see we hadn’t seen a policy led campaign without focus and rehearsal fail before.
Some pockets of progress on real challenges – e.g. Nottingham on transport. But often in the cities whose relative advantages over towns were growing.

And then the hatred. A murdered MP. A social media that is unaccountable (bravery to smear and diminish others whilst being anonymous) and whose potential to bring us on has been lost. A culture reduced to blandness rather than being stretching. Enabling the 2016 EU referendum result that tears up our trading arrangements and creates the potential for the break-up of our union across the mainland and parts of Ireland. Further enabled by a political media that doesn’t value politics and unwilling to cll out actual poor political behaviour.

Meanwhile, the new challenges of saving the climate inadequately addressed even though the necessity spasmodically respected.

The ceremony – celebration of collective ambition and achievement; hope.
Our reality – huge inequality, quality of life for so many so badly diminished, tolerance of hatred.

Personal review of the decade

I used to admire your poetry. … I shouldn’t admire it now. I should find it absurdly personal.
from Dr. Zhivago

“And what will you do … in Varykino?
“Just live.”

So yeah, don’t need to share too much of what I’ve being doing for the last 10 years, cos living is great, even if a good deal of the personal endeavour is political – to make living better for the many.

So instead, a simple statement of what I’ve enjoyed most in the last 10 years that is beyond the private.
This website – “News and Political Views” – to be outward looking; including reporting on works as a Councillor (with 2218 matters logged during the decade);
The speeches and the story-telling – enabled hugely by a year as Lord Mayor; marking the cheese riots on the 200th anniversary, instead of the 201st; marking the Battle of Mapperley Hills;
Progress in The Meadows – association with: the tram, with building a new pavilion, and with installing play equipment; and on a personal level, saving 42 lime trees marked for felling and a couple of goals on The Green; and the political reward in May 2019;
Association with Nottingham Central Women’s Aid;
Evangelising – on equality, being greener and better buildings.

Culturally –
Films at the Broadway;
Smaller theatre at The Lace Market and Nottingham Playhouse;
Seeing the bands from the past – Peter Hook, Killing Joke, Buzzcocks; The Wedding Present, Echo and the Bunnymen;
Story-telling again – the songs of my life on BBC Radio Nottingham;
TV series – Line of Duty; Fargo; Peaky Blinders;
Learning – even if those YouTube videos are best treated as stories;
Getting better – at taking photos of people and at cooking.

 photo from Getty Images

– that goal at Charlton;
– those turnarounds against Sheffield Wednesday and at Stoke City;
– taking the lead at Wolves;
– the 2017-18 season (minus the 2 Wembley defeats);
– the days out.

Finally, the misery. Cos there is some; always is. Just doesn’t need to be stated here.

Review of 2019

The elation of our best ever council election result in The Meadows.
The dejection of the General Election result.
The hope of getting another vote on European Union membership; with marches in London in March and October; and delays to the leaving date (celebrated at a Five Leaves meeting).
Theresa May going; Boris Johnson trapped in a box and exposed on illegal actions on the prorogation of parliament. Exceeded by narrow political advantage by the SNP, narrow political advantage and incompetence by the Lib Dems and mis-reading and incompetence by leading Labour politicians who couldn’t see the people’s vote through.
Progress by campaigners warning about climate change and some pleasant meetings.
An excellent victory for UCU members who had to strike for their terms and conditions at Nottingham College.

The Meadows became its own ward.
New numbers for the progress reports – May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December; and 86 matters logged.
Progress – after 8 years – on tackling commuters abusing Bridgeway Shopping Centre car parks.
Progress on knife crime – save for 2 late incidents; but squalor and unease around the trading and the taking of drugs near the public phone boxes grew, even though another phone box was locked up. Effective action too on a bad spate of ASB and worse – once the Police were properly told.
Prolonged wet weather in the Autumn led to mulched leaves on our pavements for some time and football pitches being withdrawn from The Embankment.

(c) MyNottingham

A new memorial carrying all the names of the fallen in Notts from 1914-19 was opened. The bandstand was finally re-opened.
New council housing; new private housing, a new block of flats and block of student bedrooms. A lot more flats and bedrooms approved at Planning committee, along with the realisation that the numbers of bedrooms for students will have to be increased so much more.
Progress by OMTRA made in their campaign to conserve key features of the architecture of their streets.
A new Greener Meadows group created which can form the base for future green projects. A successful completion of Project Sensible by MOzES.

MineFest at the renewed Bandstand

Notts County FC lost their league status.
England’s football team weren’t ready for a mini-tournament.
The cricket team won the World Cup, but New Zealand’s grace in defeat shone.
The Triathlon race was ruined by high water and rain; as was Minefest; the half-marathon did not impact on local traffic this time.
Plenty of thought-provoking drama and documentaries – covered elsewhere.

Finally, remember –
a man who found a home; David Hunt; a son.

Previous reviews:
Review of 20182017 – 2016– 2015– 2014– 2013– 2012.

Had logged over 2800 (check) matters as a Bridge ward councillor and now 85 (check) matters as a Meadows councillor.


Review of 2019 (recreation)

Again, a separate arts review for the year.

The films shown at Broadway remain a great pleasure.
My very personal and selective listings and ratings,

Kinda 5 stars
Stan & Ollie, Booksmart, The Keeper
Kinda 4 stars
Colette, Woman at War, Apollo 11 (doc), The Favourite, The Ballad of Buster Scrugs, Burning, Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse, The Two Popes, The Farewell, Photograph, A Private War, Green Book, Border
Kinda 3 stars
Un Amour Impossible, Nae Pasaran (doc), Vice, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, The White Crow, Mrs Lowry & Son, Brexit: the Uncivil War (tv), The Front Runner, Mary Queen of Scots, Everybody knows, Vita and Virginia, Yesterday, Support the Girls, Diamantino, The Aftermath, Roma, Out of Blue, The Nightingale
Kinda 2 stars and fewer
If Beale Street Could Talk, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, New Towns – Our Towns (doc), Sometimes Always Never, Bohemian Rhapsody singalong; Sunset

For me, plays can’t match filmed productions. But the sense of occasion can be so much better. Some highlights at The Lace Market Theatre and at the studio at Nottingham Playhouse in particular.

Kinda 4 stars
Foxfinder, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Stepmother, Compleat Female Stage Beauty, It’s True, It’s True, It’s True
Kinda 3 stars
The Lehman Trilogy, The Funeral Director, Getting the Third Degree, One Night in Miami,
Kinda 2 stars and fewer
Coram Boy, I’m Not Running, Prism, The Girl of Ink and Stars, Every Brilliant Thing, Design for Living; Feargus the Musical; Rough Crossing

TV: mmmm, not so much.
The favourites – Line of Duty, Peaky Blinders, Killing Eve – not quite so good. and The Guardian rightly slams Question Time.

Most of the productions listed have mini-reviews on this web-site.

Note, I avoid horror, and Batman and Spiderman are the only superhero stories I can be bothered with.

But why even do these lists? Just to remember and reflect again on just what joys drama can bring and lessons they can teach.

Finally, films that perhaps should be seen …
Ford vs Ferrari, Knives Out, The Irishman, 1917, Joker
and perhaps
Parasite, Rocketman, Little Women, Pain & Glory, Portrait of a Building on Fire, Marriage Story

Meadows ward monthly report 08

Good community events –
Christmas tree lights switch-on and Christmas Grotto.

Progress reviewed at Area 5 committee.
Another stabbing, with a quick arrest. Police still working on closing phone boxes.
The wet Autumn with mulched leaves still on some pavements and Embankment football pitches still unplayable.
Some new parking protection needed following deterring commuters from parking at Bridgeway Shopping Centre.
N Post asked residents about improving The Meadows, but we haven’t yet announced project being developed for a Greener Meadows.
Ambitions for better transport and more housing rehearsed at Joint Committee on Strategic Planning and Transport, Joint Planning Board and Planning committee.

A General Election defeat. But the Conservatives didn’t even send an election address out.
I’ve written at some length on the reasons for Labour’s defeat.
A tragedy given what we coulda been doing already.
I don’t want a Corbyn 2.0.

Why Labour Lost in 2019

Polling and media consensus for the defeat typically suggested 5 reasons –
1. Jeremy Corbyn was unpopular; 2. Brexit strategy; 3. manifesto; 4. collapse of Red Wall; 5. poor election strategy.

My takes differs a bit
– Corbyn, yes;
– Brexit – not quite;
– policy – was Ok but not focussed;
– Red wall – no, a symptom not a cause;
– poor election strategy – well, poor campaign;
– media have to take some of the blame and
– Britain’s political culture is poor.

This is expanded upon in posts written since the defeat – 
1. Jeremy Corbyn was unpopular and unable to empathise over the airwaves; and didn’t fix the anti-Semitism concerns;
2. we allowed the election to be called when Brexit could be the issue;  failed to realise the value of Labour supporters being Remainers;
3. policy in itself being expected to deliver a win rather than being focussed and rehearsing the need for the policies;
4. a lacklustre campaign, as if rallies are the only way to campaign;
5. the biased print media, and the airwaves media wanting to be the judge and jury; poor media management;
6. a poor political culture; degradation of the electoral register.

It was foreseeable and foreseen.

Lose by 11 points and the loss of previously safe seats follows and targeting can’t fix it.

Tired Premiership and Punditry

Chatted to a long-standing Salop fan and friend and we both found we don’t watch the Premiership.
It’s partly the terrestrial broadcasting – short highlights with no sense of how the game really pans out.
The commentating – too easily set to 11.
The manager interviews and the punditry. Little to no insight. Blaming VAR. Mourinho – once quite a wit – now managing the most profitable club’s team and blaming others’ stupidity for losing to a bottom of the table club.
The Premiership’s chance to show off at the European Cup Final was flat too. Kinda ruined by decisions whereby a cross hit a chest point blank and was deflected into an arm and a penalty was given. They should revise handball when a non-goal bound ball is deflected onto the arm.
The whinging about VAR. Some sympathy over the marginal nature of the offside decision – cos the technology is slightly out of step with reality – the precise moment of strike and the judgments against arms and feet implies a precision that isn’t there and ain’t in the spirit of being level – tolerances on the measurement should be introduced.
But don’t dismiss VAR, don’t revoke it and don’t go on about it.

Such tittle tattle.  Punditry used to be better.

I remember Brian Clough on TV, in response the total football of the Netherlands (1978 always playing for offside as a legitimate tactic to regain the ball, calling for offside to be abolished.  
Now there’s a real opinion.  
So the real challenge is not to explain how the offside rule works, but to explain why it’s needed.

Ideas for improving The Meadows

N Post journalists inviting Meadows residents’ opinion for future development.
We are exploring how we might provide 2 more units to support local shopping.
Pubs and restaurants are a challenge cos people have tended not to use them so much and there’s been a potential bistro unit built but not commissioned for over a year now.
The latest idea / proposal from community organisations is looking at some wide scale home energy insulation and improvements.