Archive for December, 2018

Dithering will get us nowhere

December 31, 2018

It has been reported that UK’s Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, had to be recalled from his holiday to deal with the crisis of illegal immigrants landing on UK’s shores.

While he is responsible and the buck should stop at his desk, surely the man is entitled to a holiday? There must be many other people who also have a responsibility to guard and protect UK’s shores? Surely they could have done the job?

However, it has also been reported that Sajid Javid apparently refused an offer of military assistance from the Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson and has ignored advice from a senior minister that the Home Office should deploy all six Border Force cutters and destroy the boats used by the traffickers.

More to the point, we have known for ages that not all of the ports in the UK are being protected. With Brexit looming, it seems likely that protecting our borders is a major consideration that needs addressing immediately.

Dithering is getting us nowhere. It is not just apparent in the Home Office. In all our government departments, dithering seems to be all that most of them are capable of doing.  So many times, a crisis looms and nothing is done. One department will say that it is not its responsibility and will pass the buck to another department who passes it on ad infinitum.

The definition of a camel (a horse designed by a committee) remains as an effective image of the wheels of government as ever. While we definitely need a democracy to rule us, the people in charge need to work together, to discuss what is needed and then MAKE DECISIONS and CARRY THEM OUT.

So many councils appear to decide to do something, and then after tinkering around with the idea, having it brought up in the agenda time after time, month after month, worrying about the tiny details, wondering if the action might break any policies or laws only to leave the idea floating so that it never actually takes shape and nothing is done. Even the laws that they are supposed to take note of are often indistinct and settle for saying that the subject in question is ‘a grey area’ so that no one knows what should or should not be done.

It is time that the powers that be waded through the quagmire of indecision, clarified exactly what should or should not be done and GOT ON WITH IT! It is time our borders were properly guarded; illegal immigrants were sent back to where they came from (or processed properly and given asylum if legitimate), the traffickers identified and punished and the fees the victims paid returned.

 

 

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Comment: It is time politicians planned properly for the future.

December 22, 2018

In a European newspaper this week the headlines announced how a group of people who had rescued some drowning refugees were pronounced heroes. Instead of condemning the poor prospective immigrants and chastising them for daring try to land in another country without the right papers, their rescue is hailed as a worthy cause. If we stopped to think about it, just what value do we put on a human life? Who are we to condemn others just because of the circumstances within which they find themselves? What would we do if an alien country suddenly decided to bomb the cities where we live? There would be more than a few of us who would pack up everything and leave to find a safer haven. We would not worry about waiting for the right papers to come if our lives were at stake.

In a perfect world, safe countries near those that are in strife would be aware that they are likely to be swamped with frightened people trying to escape. If the powers that be got their act together, they would not merely watch while volunteer bodies tried to provide enough water, shelter and clothes for these people. They would put up temporary prefabricated homes to shelter them and provide water, drainage and sewage. They would have already set up contingency plans to give the people food and clothing. They would even have plans for the people’s education, employment and cultural fulfilment so that they can become a vital and integral part of society. While the number of people needing this help cannot be known, it is possible to make an educated guess and prepare properly.

Ah yes, I hear someone complaining: ‘Where is the money to do this to come from?’ Like any business, sometimes you have to invest first before you can reap the benefits of something you set up. See these people right, and in the future, the nurses, doctors, teachers, mechanics, labourers, factory workers and farmers among them now or trained for these roles later will not only be able to help themselves but the citizens already established as well.

Preparing for the future seems such a simple thing to do. Yet so many times, this does not happen in political circles. The Gatwick crisis when the airport had to close for days, not hours, is a prime example. If those in charge had listened to the experts’ advice when drones first came into existence and set up proper military-style jammers that were regularly updated, more than likely, the problem would not have occurred. Procrastination, so many times has proved to be the wrong answer to many of our problems.

 

 

Comment: Rules for survival in an uncaring society.

December 16, 2018

It was recently reported that a senior councillor has claimed that Cambridgeshire County Council’s budget is fraudulent. The councillor believes that the amount budgeted for children’s social services and adult social care is incorrect. The council keeps overspending every year and will do so in the future because it does not budget correctly.

There are few families who are not affected by the inadequate support offered when they need children’s or adult services. The recent drama ‘Care’ shown on the BBC would have been very familiar to many people. One local’s reaction was that the central character ‘had it easy’. This individual not only had the same kind of difficulties to contend with, but her problems stretched over a number of years as the services made life incredibly stressful, making demands on the carer, rather than offering the help our tax money has supposedly paid for.

This carer had to develop a strategy for survival, to make sure she, too, did not become ill. There were five rules she was pushed into applying.

The first was not to attend meetings. When she first attended meetings, the decision makers discussed what to do with her loved one and even though she was repeatedly disagreeing, the decision makers ignored her. The carer resolved not to attend meetings but to ask them to let her know in writing what they were going to discuss and what they decided afterward. The carer was believed to be making trouble with these requests. No matter how much she protested that everything would be clearer this way, this was denied. Even then, she rarely received any information at all.

The second was to always send any letters back with a question. This passed the stress back to the letters’ authors. It was very worrying when demands for money were made to her. She knew she should not have been receiving them for her loved one should have had continuing care.

The third was to never make a statement in front of the decision makers and to only ask questions. She found that the minutes of meetings revealed that untrue facts about her were being made. She could not be accused of giving any information that could be misconstrued if she did not make any statements at all.

The fourth was, trust no one. When someone says they will do something, check to see that is has actually been done.

The fifth was not to weaken. When asked to help by paying for private care, if you have little money, do not agree. Bills have been known to escalate phenomenally without prior warning, even though this has been requested.

It is a sorry state of affairs if a person has to resort to these strategies when he or she is in a vulnerable position. Before you blame the individuals in the services, they are not the problem. Many ARE very caring and helpful by nature but have been driven to become hard-nosed bureaucrats by a faulty system starved of funds.

It is time we became the caring society we claim to be.

Review of KD Production’s pantomime ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ at the Maltings, Ely on the 15th December 2018

December 16, 2018

If ever we needed cheering up, it is at this time of year when it is dark at 4 o’clock in the afternoon,  wind and rain are likely to liven up the cold day and everyone is hectic because Christmas or the New Year is coming.

KD Production’s pantomime ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ at the Maltings, Ely on Saturday 15th December 2018 was just what we needed. This high standard performance with singing, dancing, joking, and delightful artistic displays was the perfect antidote for the season.

The show had everything. The script written by Daniel Bell and Terry Gauci had just the right number of puns to groan at, baddies and goodies to boo and cheer at, opportunities for audience participation, as well as childish antics for the children and innuendos for the adults. We all had a wonderful time.

Our favourite characters were there: the dame of the show, who seemed to have umpteen different costumes, Dame Trott (played by Daniel Bell), handsome Jack Trott (Joseph Hewlett), beautiful Jill (Martha Frances Henry), charismatic Spirit of Beans (Gregory Hazel), bombastic Squire Money Bags (Alan Booth – who also made an amazing Giant Blunderbore), lovable Handyman Harry (Terry Gauci) and evil Baroness Blunderbore (Lucinda Withers).

Choreographer Catherine Hickmott and her team’s good work was in evidence as Trott’s Dancers added dazzling movement to the scenes and a host of children, especially the adorable little chickens, completed a tremendous, highly entertaining cast.

The music by Henry Brennan (Director/Keys), Tom Pollyn (bass guitar) and Cameron Howett (percussion) was phenomenal as was the singing by the cast. Sound and lighting, costumes and scenery enhanced the atmosphere considerably.

Director Daniel Bell and his team are to be the congratulated for such a wonderful pantomime.

Future events by KD Theatre Productions include:

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat 17th to 22nd February 2019

Alice in Wonderland Friday 5th to Monday 8th April 2019

For more information contact http://www.kdtheatre.co.uk (01353) 725025

comment: You don’t kick a man or woman when they’re down.

December 9, 2018

If it’s a case of dishonesty or failure to get a deal we want, I have always believed that you don’t kick a man or woman when they’re down. If someone has failed in any situation, what is the point of making things worse? We are all human and therefore capable of making mistakes. While some disciplinary measures need to be taken, It is far better to allow individuals to learn from their mistakes than to make matters worse for them.

In a local paper, a headmaster who had tampered with exam results was sensationally slated on the front page announcing that he has been banned from teaching for life. While some punishment is inevitable, and sacking from a head teacher’s role appropriate, it seems strange that he has been banned from teaching for life because of his dishonesty. We should perhaps wait until a possible appeal or until we have found out the other facts of the case before kicking the man down. If many of the headmasters I have come across over the years had been banned for dishonesty, very few would still have their jobs. I could list many examples of headmasters who have been dishonest such as the one who had lied in his interview for a head teacher’s position. He had promised to live in the village if he was given the job and yet, as soon as he got the job, he moved out of the village. He was certainly not sacked because of this. I am sure we could name and shame no end of people who have acted inappropriately like this and who have not been chastised for their misdemeanours.

We are told that the Cabinet has warned our Prime Minister that she would have to go if the Brexit deal she is proposing is defeated in the Commons. Isn’t this merely the workings of democracy? If members of parliament suggest a certain way forward and the suggestion is voted out by the rest of parliament, the members are not automatically slung out of the place are they? We all know democracy is a complicated and often long and slow process. If someone, like Theresa May, has been involved with a project in depth for some time, surely if changes are to be made, she would be the most informed person to be able to negotiate further alterations? The situation might be different if she had refused to abide by the results of the referendum on Brexit. As far as I know, whether we personally agree to it or not, we voted to leave Europe. Only if Theresa May refused to take steps to initiate this decision should she be sacked.

 

 

 

 

Review of Ely Choral Society’s Carol Concert in St Mary’s Church Ely on Saturday 8th December 2018.

December 9, 2018

review Ely Choral Society Carol Concert Colin and Arthur Wills and Andrew Parnell yThe packed church of St Mary’s in Ely was treated to a real taste of Christmas on Saturday. Ely Choral Society’s Concert: ‘The Joys of Christmas’ was one of their best.  Under the expert directorship of Andrew Parnell, the choir’s strong, stirring, masterful voices rang out the Christmas message clearly and with great joy. The audience was a very willing partner in singing their carols: ‘Joy to the World’, ‘Sussex Carol’, ‘Silent Night’, ‘Unto us is Born a Son’, and ‘O Come all ye Faithful’.

The large choir sang a worthy set of songs in the programme and the highlights of these for me were: ‘Gaudate’, ‘In Dulce Jubilo’  and ‘The Infant King’. ‘Gaudate’, a wonderful, powerful opening to the concert, was sung with clarity, precision, varied contrasts and inspired fervour. This set the tone for this marvellous evening.

Ely Youth Choir acquitted themselves very well, their young voices clear and true. Of the songs it sang, the highlight for me was a charming performance of ‘Light of the World’ by J Dankworth.

Some of the carols were unaccompanied which suited the high standard these fine choirs have now reached.  Those that were accompanied were expertly supported by Edmund Aldhouse who will be taking over Paul Trepte’s role as Director of Music at Ely Cathedral next year. Needless to say, Edmund’s performance was impeccable, joyous and above all acutely sensitive to the singers.

The evening was well planned, with the first half including the delightfully approachable and attractive ‘Christmas Cantata’ by Geoffrey Bush .

After mince pies and drinks during the interval, the second half of the programme contained highly entertaining readings on the Christmas theme in between choir and audience carols.

This was indeed a splendid concert.

The next concert by Ely Choral Society to enjoy will be on Saturday 13th April 2019 in Ely Cathedral. contact: http://www.elychoralsociety.org

 

Review of ‘A Festival of Carols’ in Ely Cathedral on Friday 7th December 2018

December 9, 2018

A Christmas Concert in Ely Cathedral is a wonderful  experience that few other places can match. The magnificence of the building, the first rate singing by the choirs and a famous actress giving a taste of West End musicals produced an evening of joy and splendour.

The programme included favourite carols that we all know and love, many of which delighted the audience by providing an opportunity to participate.

One of the key attractions was the appearance of famous actress and singer, Ruthie Henshall. Some of the most memorable songs she sang included ‘From both sides now’ by Joni Mitchell, Gershwin’s ‘Someone to Watch over Me’ and ‘Santa Baby’ by Joan Javits and Philip Springer.

Among the highlights sung by Ely Cathedral Choir directed by Paul Trepte were ‘We Need a Little Christmas’ by Jeremy Herman, ‘Up! good Christen Folk and Listen’ harmony by G.R. Woodward, and ‘What sweeter Music’ by Richard Rodney Bennett.

From time to time, Ely Imps, directed by Rebecca Duckworth, joined the Ely Cathedral Choir and their special moment was noticeable in ‘Masters in this Hall’ arranged by David Willcocks. The choirs’ voices rang out in the Cathedral adding vigour and excitement to events.

The accompanists: Edmund Aldhouse and Paul Schofield gave splendid support.

In between the music, a number of interesting readings were read. One of the most amusing was an extract from ‘Shirley Valentine’ read by David Blair, when Brian did not do what he was supposed to in a nativity play.

The event was in aid of the Cathedral and Soldiers, Sailors and Airforce Association (SSAFA) and was supported by The Cambridgeshire Freemasons.

The evening was made even more enjoyable with the mulled wine served at the interval.

This was indeed a magnificent concert. It was no wonder the Cathedral was packed.

For information about future events contact http://www.elycathedral,org

 

Review of Ely Consort’s In memoriam concert on Saturday 1st December in Ely Cathedral Lady Chapel

December 3, 2018

Ely Consort is a name to be reckoned with. This must be one of the best choirs in the district. It isn’t until you hear good quality music produced by an excellent choir like this that you realize what you have been missing. Director Matthew Rudd really knows how to shape and develop a beautiful, well balanced sound and how to vary the pace, rhythm and dynamics to create mesmerising effects.

Russian Orthodox Church music brings to mind deep bass voices singing in open harmony. Tonight we certainly had the gorgeous deep basses and also a well produced tone in each of voice parts. With the gorgeous sound this choir produced echoing round the Lady Chapel it was easy to imagine we were transported into the depths of Russia.

The theme of the evening: remembrance, commemoration and reconciliation was well reflected in the pieces. The programme was based around Rachmaninov’s unaccompanied ‘All Night Vigil’.  The powerful richness of the voices was apparent from the start. Singing in Russian, this choir’s attention to detail, its expressiveness and precision were exceptional.

Other works included David Bednall’s ‘To a Missing Friend and ‘The Soldier’, a delightfully refreshing ’Do not Stand at my Grave and Weep’ by David Jepson, the tumultuous ‘Ring out, Wild Bells’ by Jonathan Dove and the first performance of a commissioned work by Sarah Quartel ‘’Hope’ is the thing with feathers’.

Sarah’s work was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the evening. Her charming lyrical piano accompaniment and the way she coloured the words so adorably and effectively made this piece most effective. The sense of the lightness of a fluttering bird, rising above the storms in life was never lost.

Charlie Penn’s accompaniments were superb. He achieved amazing effects in Jonathan Dove’s ‘Ring out, wild bells’.

This was indeed an excellent concert. The next events to look forward to are concert on Saturday 15th December at All Saints’ Church in Cottenham, on Saturday 16th March in Ely Methodist Church and on Saturday 29th June in St. Mary’s Church, Burwell. For more information contact info@ elyconsort.org.uk.

Comment: Negative thinking gets us nowhere

December 2, 2018

Be it Brexit, providing buses or a warm pub, negative thinking gets us nowhere.

Cries that we should vote against the agreements our Prime Minister has drawn up with the EU so that our country can leave with some semblance of a future are no help. No one has said that the deals are perfect, but at least we may have something to ensure our continued existence. The alternative does not bear thinking about. Imagine, the UK leaves the EU without any agreements at all. Why should the EU then have anything to do with us? Why should it accept our goods? What is to stop the EU suddenly raising their prices so high that we can ill afford them? What is to stop the EU piling on taxes to the goods we may wish to sell to it? What is to stop the EU suddenly closing its borders and demanding huge sums for us to apply for visas? Nothing. Some agreement is better than no agreement.

On the subject of buses, a local manager whose job is to provide a bus service made it clear at a meeting that it was cheaper for him to withdraw bus services that do not pay. While this may seem sensible, to take this way of thinking to its extreme would produce a bus service with almost no buses running at all i.e. he would drive himself out of business. When suggested he should invest in his business first so that his buses are on time, regular, comfortable and with friendly bus drivers, he asked who was going to provide the investment. In any other business, it is accepted that first you need to invest in your business dream before there is any chance of it succeeding. If you are providing a bus service, first you need to provide the buses before you can say you are actually providing a ‘service’.

I went to have lunch in a pub recently. The food was lovely, the place spotless but it was freezing. When I jokingly asked for a discount because the pub was so cold I was told emphatically that it cost too much to put on more heating. Again, this kind of thinking drives the customers away. No matter how much advertising is done, word gets round and other than bringing our own blankets and hot water bottles and wearing our coats as we dine, there is no future in this way of thinking.

We are frequently told by our mentors as we grow up that we should believe in ourselves. Pretend you are confident and are going to be successful, and more often than not, you are. It is time we put our negative thinking aside and thought positively about the future.