Sunday, 27 June 2010
My mate Dave from Liverpoooool (who runs this World Cup website) lives in Berlin with his lovely partner Kordula from Deutschland. I was telling him I'd love to be a fly on the wall in their house today. He sent me this photo. Apparently this is how the pair will be until 3 o'clock on the dot and then the gloves are off!
So, anyway I've had to think long and hard about who I'm supporting today. No, really, I have! I lived in Germany as a child. But then again I lived in England as a child. My sister was born in Germany but my other sister was born in England. I have a Higher German but of course I have Higher English too. My brother lived in Berlin for a few years. Ah but he lived in London too. What to do? And then a friend reminded me that it was Germany who were good enough to bail out Greece. So, on those grounds and those grounds only, I say to you:
I watched the one where a Bristol woman goes to a remote hill tribe in Northern Thailand (Huai Bong) and two things came out of it for me. The women work in the rice fields each day which is hard physical labour but to get there they have a 2 hour uphill walk! I could hear my dad's voice telling me "you don't know you're born" and we really don't.
The second significant piece for me was when the Bristol woman decided she didn't want to be at the rice field any longer and asked her host to take her home. Her words were "I felt overwhelmed and I know myself, when I feel overwhelmed it is time to go and I do". I agree that we should all know ourselves and we should do what is right for us (and not enough people do) but what a luxury that is, to be able to feel a certain way and act on it. None of the other women in the rice field can afford that luxury. However they feel, they have families and a community to feed.
Just another reminder that life for some people in this world is so very very different. I think one day, when I'm no longer a politician, I think I know where my efforts will go. We live in an unequal world and we have to fight that because as programmes like this always demonstrate, we are all Jock Tamson's Bairns.
As a footnote my cousin's wife Anne lives in Greenock but is originally from a remote village in Thailand. Her elderly mother left the village for the first time 3 years ago to visit her daughter and was questioned for several hours by border agency staff determined to find out if this wee old lady was really coming here to work!
Friday, 25 June 2010
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Went straight from there to my SNP MSP Group meeting followed by twenty minutes in the office to look over my speech. Dashed over to the Debating Chamber to hear John Swinney's statement on the British budget - noted how few of the opposition MSPs bothered to show up, anyone would think they didn't care - and then spoke in the Housing debate. Highlighted the need for people with mental health problems to be given additional support in tenancies.
Had time for a quick visit to the Members' Bar in parliament (which, thankfully, is for all passholders, not just Members), phoned my sister to wish her happy birthday and then headed to the Cross Party Group on Racial Equality in Scotland. Came up here to write my blog and get my bags together and I'm now heading out for a quick drink with the members of the cross party group, grab a bite to eat before heading to the B&B I'm staying in. I definitely think I've earned my crust today and enjoyed every minute of it!
Monday, 21 June 2010
They're dangerous too and I didn't realise quite HOW dangerous until yesterday when I nearly came a cropper as they say! I stepped off the pavement to get into my car, twisted my ankle on a pothole, stumbled and almost fell into the path of a fast moving car. I know I'm prone to exaggeration but not this time, I really thought I was going to be run over and so did my cousin who was with me.
The aforementioned friend who thought Battlefield had been bombed always said I would never have a normal death, it would something really obscure and I suppose death by pothole fits that category - except I'm not dead. Yet! Take my advice and don't be looking at the sky when you're walking, keep your eyes firmly fixed on the ground!
Thursday, 17 June 2010
... something I believe to be newsworthy and that is this. Parkinson's UK have been running a campaign for people who are on medication for the condition to "Get it on Time". It's a very simple request but oh so important if you have Parkinson's. Basically, if someone living with Parkinson's spends time in hospital, they will be given their medication when there is a medicine round. The trouble with that is that they need the tablets at SPECIFIC times and regular intervals. If they don't get it at those times and intervals, their *symptoms return very quickly - unfortunately it takes quite a bit longer to get the symptoms under control again.
Obviously if they're in hospital to be treated for their condition, the staff are aware of this but more often than not, the Parkinson's Disease is not why they're there. And it's not that the nursing staff don't care. The evidence we heard yesterday from campaigners was that they often are simply not aware. That was my experience. My late ex common law mother in law (if you follow me) had Parkinson's, went into hospital for other tests and they took her medication from her because you are not supposed to self medicate in hospital. The effects were quick and dramatic. Another time they agreed to administer the medication but thought we were being overly cautious when we explained that it had to be at certain times. The result was that her symptoms returned with a vengeance.
So when asked if they could achieve one thing what would it be, one of the guys giving evidence said he'd concentrate on the education side of it. The committee agreed to do a number of things and one of them I'm also going to do and that is to write to those providing nursing training to ask them if they DO cover the importance of getting Parkinson's medication on time. If they don't, I'll be backing Parkinson's UK's request that they change that. Any nurse would want to be aware of it and it's such a simple little thing which makes a massive difference to the person with Parkinson's.
*Symptoms include uncontrolled movements, being unable to move, speak, eat or swallow and even some very distressing psychotic symptoms!
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Sunday, 13 June 2010
It's the "justification" that makes me laugh so hard I nearly split my sides. Here's what a spokesperson for him said:
"Public engagements may be the most visible part of the Lord Provost's role, but they represent a relatively small part of his overall workload, which is more likely to see him busy within the city chambers."
Now I know the City Chambers is quite big inside but as far as I'm aware there is no room for a chauffeur driven car so how on earth does he need a car at that cost to the taxpayer if he's inside the city chambers all bloody day?
And one of his councillors who's not well getting a chauffeur to take her to the doctors? Apparently there's a policy of supporting councillors with mobility problems. I accept she's not well but who else in this city gets a chauffeur to take them to the doctor? Are other city council employees treated the same. And if so, can I just say "TWO GRAND A MONTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!"?
Let me assist.
0141 429 7070 - taxis, a damn site cheaper than chauffeurs and just as effective.
Since 2007 when so many of my friends got elected to the council and many others to parliament, I've been shocked to discover that it seems to be the Labour Party of all people who are into all this elitist nonsense. Whether it's Labour MSPs travelling first class back and forth to Edinburgh or Glasgow councillors abusing their car privileges or slapping each other on the back at their many lavish functions which I rarely attend now because it just makes me so angry, the Labour Party has long since lost it's "party of the people" purpose.
One day people will wake up to that. One day maybe even some of THEM will wake up to it but when the electorate give you second, third, fourth, limitless chances to stop abusing their money, what is the incentive? And is it any wonder that the pathetic explanation given above on behalf of the Lord Provost was all they could be bothered coming up with in their defence?
The first was presenter Kaye Adam's assertion that Scotland had rejected it. Scotland has not rejected minimum pricing. Opposition MSPs in the Scottish Parliament rejected the minimum price aspect of stage one of the bill. They are not Scotland. And the bill still has two further stages to go through. The SNP government will not give up on this one, it is far too important. And right across Scotland all sorts of experts on alcohol abuse are in support of it. If opposition MSPs can be convinced to drop their stupid game playing and actually listen to the evidence from around the world then we can get it through the parliament.
Secondly they interviewed a 37 year old guy who is an alcoholic who no longer drinks alcohol. When they asked him would increasing the price of cheap alcohol have stopped him drinking earlier he said no. But he was missing the point. Or rather, the presenter was missing the point. Nobody starts out life as an alcoholic. Nobody starts out their alcohol drinking life as an alcoholic. It is a process. A better question might have been did he think less access to cheap alcohol when he first started to experience it could have stopped him using it in such a way that lead to him becoming addicted.
I don't believe the minimum pricing argument is about people who are currently addicted to alcohol. I believe it's primarily about 3 sets of people - future alcoholics, future alcohol abusers and current alcohol abusers. When you're addicted to something you'll make "sacrifices" to get it. I used to smoke. I smoked when I was signing on. I wore shoes with holes in the soles because I preferred to spend money on my addiction.
Dealing with actual alcohol addiction is a different matter and whilst minimum pricing will factor into that, it's only one of a number of ways in which it can be tackled.
Where it will make a significant difference is in changing our drinking culture and our attitudes to alcohol and thus reducing the likelihood of people developing problems with alcohol, either through abuse or addiction, in the first place.
Earlier this year I wrote this post called A Tale of Two Cousins - about my cousin and her cousin, both addicted to alcohol, one dead, one surviving and sometimes thriving. The latter is writing a post for this blog about her experiences and I hope to publish it soon.
Friday, 11 June 2010
Thursday, 10 June 2010
Wednesday, 9 June 2010
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Oh, and I was really thrilled when the charity made me an Ambassador - they came into parliament to present the certificates to myself and Linda Fabiani and tonight the title was also bestowed on James Dornan. I was really chuffed and happy to do all I can to support them.
Sunday, 6 June 2010
Anyway in future I'm going to try Ocado, recommended by my sister. They claim to be environmentally friendly, using low emission delivery vehicles, offering "green van" slots where they tell you when they'll be delivering in your area so you can pick that time and cut down on carbon emissions, and they recruited ecowarriers to go over every inch of their various premises and make sure they were as "eco-friendly" as possible.
Just as importantly for me, going back to the use by dates, they were the first online food retailer anywhere in the world to tell you on the website when you're buying the stuff what the guaranteed life of the product is. So if it says "this milk is only guaranteed for another 4 days" you know not to buy it. Perfect.
If you want to try it click here for Ocado.
Pic 1 - the sports pitch is full of weeds and bumps so this was the council's solution, 2 big piles of stones which when I visited had been sitting there for 2 weeks!
Pic 2 - the playground is full of potholes and drain covers jutting up so any running about freely can be forgotten!
Pic 3 - the showers in the changing rooms? No showers, but tables in their place! So even when they have gym class they can't get washed!