It’s been a crazy week and it’s only Wednesday. So crazy I don’t even remember Monday. Tuesday there was the power cut at work and trying (and bizarrely succeeding) to cram 2 branches into one and 7 diaries into 3. I had to go from there to the Trades Council meeting, productive as always. It’s going to be really hard to leave them in the new year as I am really proud of the work the team have done in turning York Trades Council into the voice of the workforce it is today.

From there on Tuesday night it was a quick dash to the train station to catch the last train to London to see Jamie – arrived sometime just before 2am! Made sense at the time as I was down for a meeting today but I’m shattered now! Anyway the meeting went well today and dinner was homemade pizzas with plenty of red wine so that was excellent.

Now I’m back on the tube en route to Kings Cross and the North so I’m glad of the wine! Choo choo snooze snooze I think! Tomorrow it’s all day on a till so that’ll be fun and then back to Jamie on Friday night.

No rest for the wicked!

Britain Needs A Pay Rise

So after getting up at 4:45am this morning in a panic because my phone had not charged and I thought I’d slept through my alarms, we have now picked everyone up at York and Castleford and are en route to London.

Lots of cheery enthusiastic faces for this time of the morning!


We’ve just left Watford Gap Services (for tea and toilets) and are on our way. Destination: London. Plenty of low paid workers geared up to campaign for a pay rise after seeing the price of the coffee at the services!!


We have made it to Embankment and are just setting up our banner for the day! It’s surprisingly warm for October, just hope it stays dry!! Lots of activists it seems with angry messages to send politicians and business leaders!




We’re still going, just coming up to Piccadilly. The atmosphere is quite peaceful for a protest.



We have arrived in Hyde Park where a vibrant crowd have formed. Speakers are on the stage delivering the key messages of the day and lots of hungry protesters are lining up for some food. The weather has held out, on a surprisingly warm and windy October day. The TUC estimates about 70,000 have turned up today!


The rally ended some 45 minutes ago and all the happy campers have gathered on Park Lane to board the coach. I’ve waved them all off and they’re headed home (I’m staying in London a couple of days). Special thanks to Reece and Steven for carrying the York TUC banner!

For more info about the day, see britainneedsapayrise.org!

Peeling a banana this way WILL make your life (slightly) better

After chatting with Jamie about how to peel bananas tonight I think it important that everyone understands just how wrong they are getting it.

watch people jump

open from the wrong end

I am not always entranced by new ways of doing things, or new technology. I am resistant to the lure of novelty. I am often fatalistic about people’ slow adoption to change. But sometimes, it is obvious that a different way of doing things is simply better.

Why does it not always take root? Test case (sorry to those who have heard it before): Peeling a Banana.

When I was young, I was taught how to peel a banana. It consisted of grabbing the stalk, and tugging at it until the skin split away. It was sometimes a bit tricky, and occasionally squashed a very small section of the banana. But it was all I knew. I was happy.

One day, someone showed me how monkeys open bananas. (I think it was Ben James at BBJ, himself a fairly simian character). Being generally respectful of the…

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Well gay

First off, I finally did it. I finally overcame my absolute refusal to join in the tumblr fun because my usual handle @rockstoff was taken. So here I am. Thanks to being grown up. And thanks to Troye Sivan. The link to my tumblr is in the menu.

I’ve just been thrown a piece by the social feed on my htc one x (one of its very few redeeming qualities) written by Will Young in the Guardian (http://gu.com/p/3kjty). It’s about how the word “gay” has to stop being used as a synonym for “crap” because it’s damaging to those who are gay.

I should declare at this point that I am in agreement, at least with the part about how damaging it can be to those who are gay. The negative connotations around the word are in some cases enough to have a bad effect but in other cases just the negativity around the word can lead to a whole wave of victimisation and bullying which in real terms have nothing to do with words and everything to do with people’s insecurities.

But are attempts to control the use of certain words merely futile? History teaches us that attempts to control language in the past (typically linked to power and rule) have ultimately failed. The Norman conquest of Britain being a fine example – where French became the de jure official language. In the end English became a melting pot of words of many origins, including French. Britain has also long been a melting pot of cultures and immigration, which have brought new words and meanings to the language we commonly use. As the British Empire expanded we brought that language to the rest of the world, and it has adapted itself to the cultures of the people it serves. It’s why there are so many different versions of English in the spell checker!

A more contemporary example of attempts to forcibly change language use would be to look at some of the words used in English to describe people in terms of race or skin colour. This has been and still is a sensitive issue to some people which in itself makes the argument that this battle can never be won; we are all individuals and no one solution is going to please everybody.

But if I was to highlight the word “coloured”- many young people today have been brought up to know of this as a historical term, and one which is interpreted somewhat pejoritively. I would guess that this is even how most people of any age would feel about this word, having been told that the proper or politically-correct term would be “black” or “African-American” to describe a person whose skin pigmentation was of a certain darkness. And yet I also know from speaking with certain individuals in my role as an Equality Rep that there are people out there from a particular generation who self identify as “coloured” and would abhor referring to themselves differently.

So there was born a movement. A movement away from referring to people as “coloured” and towards other terms seen as more politically correct. Why is this argument not being repeated in the same way today? Why are “gay” people not looking to run miles from a word which has become synonymous with “crap”?

Perhaps to begin to answer this we need to look at those who used the words first. Maybe “coloured” is a word given to common English by the ruling white people of the past. Conversely it could be that “gay” was a word chosen by the homosexual community as a way of self-identifying as attitudes towards homosexuality became increasingly accepting. This is perhaps why one group fights to protect the use of their adjective whilst the other group on the whole was happy to shed it.

In any case it’s irrelevant. The real issue here is the damning legacy of Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act. This was finally repealed in 2003 but to this day many schools shuffle awkwardly when it comes to homosexuality, or sexuality in general for that matter. The education system of the nation is broken. We don’t nurture kids – we don’t nourish them with the real facts of life – nobody teaches them about the risk of impairing your credit rating by going to payday lenders or employment law and how to stand up for yourself in the workplace.

But mostly we don’t embrace diversity in schools. Left unchecked kids have the capacity to be evil, as they all clamour for a social standing among peers. There are no equality champions in schools and when young people are at an impressionable moment in their lives, where they begin to really develop a conscience and begin to question the world and think for themselves, they should have access to all the real facts of life and be encouraged to embrace difference.

Whoever promised me this in their election manifesto would get my vote anyway.