Joined the Labour Party

So, I joined the Labour Party.

As a kid, I supported the Lib Dems. They were our local councillors, and they were good. They did things. they got us a pelican crossing. They sent us regular updates. they were good. They broke up the Labour monopoly in Hull and stopped the Labour councillors sitting on their laurels.

So, in 1997; I joined them, and flaunted my Lib Dem’s membership card with pride. Although, to be fair, I was never a particularly active member. I did deliver leaflets in Upper Nidderdale, which was something of a challenge in a rural area – it involved a _lot_ of walking. But I was happy to support a party that represented my political views.

But then 2019 happened. The Tories won, with a big majority. The Libs election campaign was dire. And, over the last few years, in my role as a trade union representative I’ve shifted my political views. I’ve moved to the left. My party doesn’t represent my views anymore, and my belief is that to beat the Tories we need to rally behind the main opposition.

I still believe that we need electoral reform, and I hope Labour take that view. I’d also love to see Labour/Libs come up with an agreement to work together. We are both progressive parties, and we both agree the Tories are bad news.  But Labour are the best placed party to stop austerity, and new-liberal politics. In a country that is blighted by poverty, food banks, homelessness and massive inequality, change is needed.

Moving political parties is a big deal. The Lib Dems are a fine party, with good people. I’ll miss being a part of that group. But I’m joining a new group. I intend to be active. I want to lend my support to beating the divisive right-wing politics that benefits nobody but the wealthy.

So I’ve done it. Sent my Lib Dems resignation; and joined Labour. It’s a big deal for me, but it’s the right thing to do. Thanks, Lib Dems; you’ve been my home for years. But I’ve changed. All the best, and let’s work together to get rid rid of the divisive right-wing politics that is blighting this country.

Going Sober – day 2

Well, then – it’s October 2nd and I’m 2 days into going without any alcohol for a month. Yes, I’m doing ‘Go Sober’ for Macmillan. The house is an alcohol-free zone, save for a safely locked-away-for-Christmas bottle of Bailey’s which was on offer last week at our local supermarket.

Here’s the thing – it hardly sounds hard, does it? I mean, compared to running a marathon, or walking the length of Britain, or such like. Not having a beer for a month. Easy? Yeah, right. 

The thing is, I like a beer. Or two. Or five. I mean, I’m not desperate for a pint when I wake up, but Saturday nights watching telly without a glass of Chardonnay or a bottle of Newcastle Brown? Well, they’re a perfect match. It becomes a habit. It’s a habit I’ve continued since the early 1990’s, and it’s not really doing me much good. I can’t deny that I’ve noticed a definite reaction to beer in recent years, so it has to stop. This is a great opportunity to start the process. And, Macmillan might make a few pounds out of it in the process.

I have to say, I’m feeling rough as heck so far, which is actually a bit worrying. I’m hoping for an improvement. I’ll keep you updated. And if anyone has any advice on how not to replace the booze with sweets, crisps, or any other bad foodstuffs; please let me know. Right now, I’m craving Wine Gums.

(If you’ve been kind enough to donate a couple of quid, then thankyou – the money will go to a great cause. If you’d like to, I’d be most grateful – you can donate  here:

Rick Dickinson


Today, we learned of the passing of Rick Dickinson. Not a name many folk may recognise, but if you were growing up in the 1980’s, you probably had a piece of his design in your home.

Rick designed the cases for Sinclair’s computers. The ZX-80, ZX-81 (for which he won a design award), and the absolutely legendary ZX Spectrum. The picture shows my collection, and they’re still iconic symbols of the decade. Functional, yet aesthetically pleasing. The Spectrum in particular had a big impact on my own life, and indeed my current art degree work features the computer as a key part of the project I’m doing.

The case is the bit people recognise. It might not be the important technical stuff that does the work, but it’s how people interact with the thing, and that’s why it’s so important. Rick got these bits done perfectly. That rubber keyboard (indeed, the lack of keyboard on the ZX80 and ZX81) was criticised heavily at the time, but it worked, it fulfilled the design brief, and it looked good. That’s the job of a designer. That’s why Rick is such a big deal.

Rick recently designed the case for the upcoming ZX Spectrum Next, due to be completed and posted out in July. It’s a shame he never saw the finished case, because it looks like another beauty.

Thanks, Rick. Thanks for the memories. Rest in peace.

EU referendum

Is it just me who is sick to the back teeth of the EU referendum? What a waste of time, money and breath. I really can’t be bothered making my mind up, and frankly the two campaigns aren’t really helping much.

On the one side is the ‘Better In’ campaign, who seem to be telling me that we’ve no idea what will happen if we leave, and it’ll destroy the economy. Lots of rich and famous people are agreeing with them. On the other side, is the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign, with Boris Johnson shouting a lot about ‘Knickers’ and ‘Bananas’ and Michael Gove seemingly making up new ways he’ll make me richer if we leave. Oh, and then there’s Nigel Farage who seems to want to run his own campaign on an elderly open-top bus, that no-one seems to be paying much attention to. I’ve disregarded him, because, well, to be fair I think he’s a bit of an idiot.

Both of the official campaigns seem to be concentrating on the economic benefits or disadvantages, but surely the EU is more than that? ‘Vote Leave’ keep telling me we’ll be swamped with migrants, which I don’t really believe. ‘Better In’ reliably inform me that it’s essential that we need to be in Europe to help reform it. I kind of see the logic in that, but how much the other EU countries will allow us to do so is doubtful.

I’ve not made up my mind. As a Lib-Dem, I’m inclined to vote ‘In’. However, last week I attended a debate in Ripon, arranged by the local Tory MP, which featured a reasonably civilised debate between two advocates for leave, two for stay. During this debate, a point was made which is definitely affecting my thinking. A chap from ‘Stay’ said that in his role attending the European parliament (sorry, can’t remember who he was) he could detect no appetite for closer political union amongst other MEP’s. Another chap from ‘Leave’ said that he believed this was clearly not the case; the EU has a single currency, parliament, and president; clearly a political union. There was also debate on whether the EU was considering tax-raising powers. He suggested that, other countries in the world have formed trading groups, and gave examples in India & South America (amongst others) that do perfectly well without the further need to press ahead with political union.

I think he is right, the EU is a political union. Therefore, the debate isn’t about money, or immigrants. It’s ultimately about one question, and that is whether you think that the UK is better off as an independent country, or as part of a political union. I really aren’t sure, and as yet no-one has persuaded me one way or the other. I suspect it’s unlikely that they will, whilst the two campaigns are treating the general public like chimps at a tea party. And, I’m not even sure the general public are really interested in voting on facts anyway. Whether such an important question should be put to a public who, on the whole, get their information from a press that seems to be unable to present facts without create hysteria, is a whole new debate.

Evolution at work?

News today is about the Australians (although not all, I’d suggest) getting upset and worked up about Australian drug smugglers being executed.

There are many facets to this. Whether or not you agree with the death penalty for drug smuggling is a personal matter. I would suggest the death penalty for drugs smuggling is harsh.

However. Here’s the thing. If you go to a country which has the death penalty for drug smuggling, and you get caught smuggling drugs, guess what might happen? I’ll give you a clue, you won’t get a free XBox.

These guys were peddling death to Australians, and I don’t suspect they cared very much. They got caught. They’re now dead, executed by a country that widely advertises that it has a death penalty for drug smugglers.

So why should I care? I’m not going to celebrate anyone being killed, but stupid people are beyond help. And I detest drug smugglers. So sod ’em. It’s their own dumb fault. And the fact they got caught means some people might not die from taking their filth.

Ta, PC World

Quick shout for the guys at PC World.

My HP laptop screen died last week, and as it was a warranty repair, it went off to PC World’s ‘Knowhow’ team. I took it on Wednesday; they promised return by the following Wednesday.

I picked it up today, Monday, two days earlier than they said, fully operational, with the keyboard working better than before (it’s always been a bit duff but is now usable). They’ve even bothered updating the BIOS. And, the guys in the branch were helpful, friendly and efficient.

Good job, chaps. I’ll buy from you again!

Sky TV

A quick note about Sky TV.

I got a letter yesterday. The price is going up by £4 a month. This takes the price to nearly £70 a month.

I could get rid, but I like the sports channels. I can’t have these without all the other shite on there I don’t watch, and if I get rid of Sports, they’ll charge me an extra tenner for the rewind/record/pause function – Sky+, which I like.

In other words, I either lose all my recordings, or live with it. I can’t get Virgin Media, and from what I hear they’re a bit rubbish anyway. I believe it’s what’s called having me ‘over a barrel’.

I hope Wayne Rooney enjoys my extra money – I’m sure that’s where the increase has gone, to pay for the new football deal – because Rooney is so poor already. He might even get free Sky for all I know.

Right now, I’ve got Sky on, and it’s playing adverts. I’m paying to have people sell me stuff. It’s ridiculous.

Robbing bastards.

Posted in TV. Tagged .



Yum. Liquorice Allsorts. Gimme some!

I’m currently on a mission to cut sugar. Completely. Nearly 2 weeks in, and I’m having mixed success.

Why, you may ask? Well, a couple of weeks ago on BBC TV there was a documentary on Sugar. To be fair, it said nothing new. In short, everything has too much sugar in it, it’s bad for you, and you should cut down. Fairly common logic, really. Particularly as I’d just driven home from work, and eaten a full bag of fruit pastilles, followed by a full bag of jelly beans. Big bags. And, I had no ill effects after this.

Obvious, then, that I’m heading for an appointment with Mr. Diabetes at some stage in the future. Life might not be a barrel of fun at the minute, but that doesn’t mean I want to make myself ill. So something has to be done.

So far, then, I’ve managed to cut sugar from my tea. It tastes disgusting, but I’m hoping I’ll get used to it. I’m also reading packets when we go shopping – my favourite Friday night treat, sweet and sour rice ready meal, is actually over 50% sugar, so it’s gone. But most telling is the almost entire eradication of sweets from my life.

I’ve lapsed twice; I have a spot for liquorice allsorts. Can’t help it. But rather than a bag a day – yes, I was eating that many – I’ve had two bags in a fortnight. So I’m doing OK.

However, there are two notable things. One, I don’t feel any better. In fact I feel a ton worse. I’m grumpier, more irritated and generally a thousand times more miserable than two weeks ago. And two, I’m still craving sweets. Right now, I’m desperate for a Mars bar. After two weeks! It’s hard work.

I am, however, saving a ton of money, which is a good thing because I haven’t got very much to spare. This is additional incentive to stick at it.

I’ll keep you informed how it’s going. Watch this space!


Locking nuts

On Sunday, I spent several hours on my car. The weather seemed OK (no garage), so I set about some repairs.

Now. The handbrake needed adjusting, and the brakes were generally a bit average. So I needed to remove a wheel. However, the security locking wheel nut on this particular wheel was damaged, and wouldn’t come off with the appropriate key.

This is an issue I was aware of, so I was prepared. To be fair, I’d already dropped in to Kwik Fit, who advised that they really weren’t prepared to try because they didn’t have the kit to do it. To be fair, I think they really meant “We know what a stinker of a job this is going to be, and we really don’t want to spend our time trying”. So, I’d bought new locking nuts, and (thanks to extremely useful advice from I had a set of tools designed to remove rounded-off bolts.

First thing, then. I replaced the other three locking nuts – to make sure they were actually going to fit. Success. Then, on went the bolt remover tool. Much pressure was applied, and movement. However, clever Toyota had clearly anticipated this, and they’d put a collar on the bolt. All that happened was, the collar came loose. Hmph.

Off came the collar, and on went the next size removal tool. This went on well. The bolt, however, would not shift. More pressure. Movement; and then <snap>. The socket adaptor sheared; the wheel nut remained on the wheel.

I didn’t have another adaptor, but because the manufacturer of the removal tool was clearly a good company (Irwin tools), they’d clearly anticipated this, and provided a six-sided shape for a spanner to fit. Out came my biggest spanner; 24mm. Guess what? The adaptor was 25mm. And I didn’t have that size.

So, as it was Sunday, it was a trip to Halfords, in Mrs B’s car. They had the right spanner, and it was a tenner. Ten quid for a spanner! No wonder they keep them locked up in cabinets. Half way home, it started raining.

I got home, got out the said spanner, hit it a few times with a rubber mallet, and… Success! Off came the wheel nut, off came the wheel, brakes were suitably adjusted, and it was done. Took about 3 hours. Should have been about 30 minutes tops.

So, the moral is; remember Murphy’s law. If it can go wrong, it will. Be ready for it!



I’m not even the slightest bit bothered by religion, but when it comes to Shrove Tuesday, it’s pancake time – I love them.

They’re easy to make, and easy to eat. Syrup or lemon juice, I don’t care.

However, I did go a bit over the top last night – I wasn’t overly well this morning. Bleurgh. But, it’s pancakes all the way next year!

Thanks, Jesus – this lent thing is brilliant, because I get to stuff myself on yumminess.

Pile of pancakes.

Pancakes. Made by me.