Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Hunger is driving squirrels to extremes..."

Be afraid, be very afraid...

Monday, August 28, 2006

An update on children in care

This article describes how councils could start saving money for the kids in their care in order for them to benefit from a range of after school activities. Don't worry "Georgie" and Ben, it would only cost you £1.32 a year if it were ever to be instated which I guess even those who pay horrendously expensive school fees could afford.
The study says that parents spend about £16k on activities and leisure time pursuits for their child which obviously goes out of the window if you're a kid in care. Perhaps they deserve some opportunities?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Exam results

We've had 2 weeks of A level/AS level and then GCSE results. Again the results improve year upon year. BBC news have two different stories that paint an interesting picture about education:
one is that private school candidates are more likely to get an A at A level. This is 47.9% which compares to the national average of 24.1%
the other is that 64,000 children leave school with no qualifications because they have been in care which resulted in them being shifted around, moved to different foster carers and generally not encouraged in their studies.
Maybe the money pumped into private education would be better placed elsewhere? Maybe these are two stories that describe different ends of the same spectrum. It just means according to the lottery of birth, your fate is decided. Be born to wealthy parents and you can succeed, be born into a more dysfunctional family and you will fail. What a shame...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

It is 5:13 am...

...and I just had a nightmare. I was at work and every change that had been made since April had changed back. I had been assigned projects without consultation and with a mounting sense of trepidation, the identity of my new Team Leader was about to be revealed. I knew the news wasn't good as the figure hidden in the chair swung round to face me. I woke up with a jolt.

Thank goodness, it was just a dream...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Even cows have regional accents?

When you go for your countryside walk at the weekend, listen out for birds and cows as they communicate in their regional brogues. To really appreciate it, tape them and walk the next weekend, say in Yorkshire and hear the difference!
BBC story here

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Tesco Unthank Road

How annoying that Tesco are still trying to get planning permission to build a store on Unthank Rd despite being turned down twice and having a great deal of local opposition to it. Evening News story here.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Pete wins Big Brother

It was never really in any doubt from week 1. And from all we can deduce, he was put in the house to win by Endemol. It interests me that he has Tourettes and whether going into the house made him exploited, a sort of modern day freak in the travelling show. After hearing his interview with Davina this evening, where he said a year ago he was in a living hell, what responsibility do Endemol have in ensuring that he doesn't spiral back into that hell after the elation of winning wears off?

As well as hoping and praying for the best for his future, I pray that his exposure has positively increased awareness about Tourettes and made people a little more accepting of people with mental health issues.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Saturday, August 12, 2006

What's in a name?

I read with some interest last week this article about "meshing" of names (instead of a woman taking her husbands surname in marriage, the surnames of the couple are joined together in a way to create a totally new name for both partners). This week we have an article about the husband taking his wife's name after marriage.
These articles are of interest because of my situation and has been ongoing for the last 18 years! I had children before I was married to Julian and after discussion we agreed that Bouttell was more distinctive as a name than Williams, and so the children were given the surname Bouttell. We also considered Julian taking the name Bouttell but that never came about. When we got married, the conversation again turned to surnames. If I were to take the traditional route, I would be Williams but the girls would have to change their names as well which seemed unfair. Julian could become Mr Bouttell or we could go the double barrelled route- "Williams-Bouttell" or "Bouttell-Williams". Well I find double barrelled names pretty ghastly (sorry but they sound ridiculous mostly and are usually cumbersome!) but for some reason our church seems to have taken it into their heads that we are Bouttell-Williams. Can you imagine a Bouttell-Williams marrying a Gascoigne-Richards? What fun that would entail! So I'd like to dispel that myth for all NCBC people- I'm Helen Bouttell, the daughters are all Bouttell and Julian remains a Williams, OK? But as for meshing we have taken to using Bouttelliams to shortcut and I guess that's acceptable to be used by others if need be!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Half of all women have more than 30 pairs of shoes

And 55% of men questioned in the survey say they've had to carry their partner because their feet have hurt from their crippling shoes!
OK then the survey was done by Harpers Bazaar so I guess it isn't representative but it is probably indicative...
BBC story here

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Some reviews

The Green Mile
I have seen this film previously and rewatched it again on the newly free Film4. I love the way Stephen King crafts his stories. It has his hallmark all over it. The characters are so good; I love the way we see the skills of these men who work so well together in keeping men on death row. Percy makes an excellent foil to this team; petulant, fascinated by the macabre and peevish. And then there's John Coffey ("like the drink only spelt different") a huge man who has committed a dreadful crime. As the story unfolds, the viewer is kept gripped. I'm guessing that the story and acting are all that are need to keep this film entertaining. I thoroughly recommend this...
The Hole
In contrast, The Hole is an above average teen flick that didn't inspire me. Four teenagers get out of the school field trip by partying down an unused bunker. The trouble comes when they realise that they are locked in and there's no way out. The skill in this film is the way in which the information is drip fed to the viewer in order to change our perception of what is happening. The trouble is you don't really care enough about any of the people involved to really invest any emotional energy into it. Of it's type, it's good but I don't much like teen flicks so it was never going to enthrall. I can see though that it is in a different class to the normal crud that gets churned out so it may be worth a watch if you like psychological thriller type films.
The Wasp Factory
Iain Banks is a favourite author of mine and I felt it was time to revisit his first novel. The author is good at setting up bizarre alternative universes for his characters to live in. In this novel, the characters are in a family on an island in Scotland. The main character, Frank has had the run of this island, being home tutored, all of his 17 years. He's an intelligent but obsessively compulsive boy who uses his Wasp Facory to determine the safety of his island and his way of life. When Frank hears that his brother Eric has broken out of the mental hospital and the Factory predicts fire, the story of the family's ill fated past starts to unravel.
I must warn you that there is a lot to disgust in this story. Frank feels no compunction in killing animals: their skulls are placed on posts in order to "protect" the island. Eric is reknown in the village for setting fire to dogs. If you can get beyond that, then you are in for a mighty fine read.
I am really hooked and I mean really hooked on Lost! Season two has been interesting: we seem to have a slower week where the plot is set up and then an action week where everything happens. The episode that explained what happened to Claire when she was abducted by "the others" was especially good. That in itself raised allsorts of questions that haven't been answered like what is this infection? how did the others set up the bunker as an operating theatre and medical centre? why do the others want children? and JUST WHO ARE THE OTHERS ANYWAY???!!!
And now we have the man in the armoury. Is he one of them? All is not what it seems. But then, that's just annother week on Lost...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Mel Gibson

It is with interest that I have been reading about Mel and his drink related offences. Since being arrested on Friday, the star has booked himself into rehab which would suggest that he is battling with an ongoing problem with alcohol. This of course is very sad and I am aware that alcoholism is a disease which needs treatment and I'm glad that he is going to get the treatment that he needs.

Not only did Mr Gibson get into a car and drive while under the influence (DUI) but when arrested by a police officer, made anti-semetic comments. According to BBC news he said "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," and asked the arresting officer: "Are you a Jew?"

The legal blood alcohol limit in California is 0.08% and Mel was 0.12% which doesn't suggest to me that he was "out of his mind" drunk, just a little over the limit. I'm drawing attention to this not because ANY amount over the limit is acceptable but more to discuss whether the anti semetic remarks were totally out of character for Mel or whether the breaking down inhibitions effects of alcohol have merely presented the ideal opportunity for repressed views that ordinarily would be kept tightly under wraps to come to the surface.

Either way, Mel has apologised for the offence his remarks might have caused saying "Please know from my heart I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith."
He has also asked to meet with Jewish leaders in order to discuss "the appropriate path for healing".

I admire a celebrity that can own up to mistakes that they have made. Mel has a problem with alcohol and possibly a problem with prejudice. He has admitted to one and is seeking help for both. All this in the public arena. I hope that the best result will come out of all this for him.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Answer to Letter

Dear Ms Bouttell

Thank you for your email of 22nd July concerning green issues.

I share some of your concerns in relation to nuclear and will be studying the energy review carefully over the summer.

I am very interested in your thoughts on de-centralised energy production and am about to concentrate more fully on bringing Green Issues into the local policy arena on a more regular basis.

Thank you for sharing your views with me. I hold regular constituency surgeries where constituents can discuss issues of concern directly with me. If you feel that you would like to do that, please contact my office for an appointment.

Best wishes

Charles Clarke MP
Norwich South