Monday, May 31, 2010

"Coalition" Sounds Good to Me

If anything could be read into the election results in the UK it is this: Equal parts of the electorate want what the other guy is offering. And at the same time it goes without saying that equal parts of the electorat don't want what the other guy is offering. In fact I think this is an attitude prevalent among most western societies. Being far more informed than at any time in our history, we the people are more and more able to grasp the idea that no one ideology has all the answers to the problems that societies face. We also know that no one answer to any problem is "forever".

The electorate, is in fact far more flexible than politicians because politicians almost always are reactive not proactive. And the electorate likes it that way -- unfortunately. At a time of economic uncertainty we look for certainties where there are none. No one knows the right answer to this recession, but most of us think we know the wrong answer. A coalition government at this time is good if only because one of the two paths of economic is bound to work and, therefore, the outcome can be predicted a success for both working together. And as the pendulum swings, and it will, success will appear to swing with having our friendly "flexible" friend.

It's a real shame about David Laws. For such a respected politician, who could experience could have been so beneficial to the country, it is tragic that he could have been undone by such a lapse of judgement. His position, however, was for the moment untenable. However, if the past is anything to go by, there is a lesson to be learnt from Peter Mandelson and the British people might be fortunate enough to get him back. I, for one, hope so. George Osborne is going to need him. David Cameran's statement upon Law's resignation was reassuring and encouraging.

If we are lucky in the UK and this government has the stamina and maintains the good will of the people, it will show that we have grown up enough as a civilization to know that working together to find solutions to the problems of nations is the best way and we will decide that proportional representation is a viable way for democracy here to work. It would be a terrible injustice if the machinations of the media were to thwart the coalition in its effort to prevail.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Hairdryer's behind the Chainsaw: Birthdays, Touring and So On

Our first full day in the Veneto and the sun shone -- sunny Italy once again living up to it's reputation! Andrew joined us as we at our breakfast of cake, cheese, ham, tea/coffee and juice, beautifully and charmingly presented by our charming Italian host. Since we had left them the evening before, Andrew and Carla had had a nasty shock. Upon going to car that morning, Carla discovered that thieves had tried to break into the vehicle and had broken the steering wheel from the steering column of her little, adorable car. She was suitably traumatized, this being her first car and she was emotionally attached to it and all the memories it had for her.

It turned out to have been somewhat our fault for upon our arrival the evening before there had been a lot of confusion when we arrived. This due to the fact that we had requested that the food we had brought with us from France we had removed from our own car to make use of her freezer and fridge. With all the bags and it was all too easy to forget to lock up properly. Fortunately, friends and relations were able to get the steering wheel re-assembled to the steering column within a few days at a fraction of the cost initially anticipated and so it worked out with a minimum of fuss ... but all the same was an unfortunate incident. It also underlined the fact that this lovely apartment block in what seemed like a quiet and safe neighborhood, was nevertheless prone to constant surveillance by scoundrals!

Not half a block from our hotel is the motorway heading to the Dolomites and many lovely picturesque villages so Andrew was eager to show us some of the sites. The area reminded us a great deal of parts of Austria and Germany and indeed there were many cars and tourists from those countries in the various towns we visited. Our first stop was an alpine village where Andy was hoping we would have lunch. As luck would have it, the venue was closed on that day and we had to make do with admiring the scenery: a lake and glorious mountains -- not a difficult task!

We continued up the road close to the border with Austria, past one stunning view after
another. This is the downside of such beautiful areas. Soon the oohs and ahhs become redundant murmurs insufficient to describe the exquisitness before our eyes. And so we twisted and turned and wound our way up and up and arrived at the nexted hoped for luncheon destination! Alas! Alack! More of the chosen restaurants were closed that day. But we did find a reasonable restaurant/pizzeria -- and much more Germanic it was than Italian. But the cuisine sufficed for lunch and we enjoyed our food and the ambience of the place well enough.

The birthday evening began with Mother and Son meeting Carla at a wine bar in Conegliano center for a yummy glass of prosecco. It was reasonably warm, pleasant enough to sit outside with our drinks and nice to be able to have some mother/son time, too.
Andrew had decided the venue for his party was to be a Bavarian Beer place in Conegliano -- especially since it did half-price beer on Tuesdays! Good thinking Andy! Unfortunately, for the pocketbooks of many of us, this Tuesday coincided with the beginning of Octoberfest and the special deal was off! In any even, the beer flowed and the party was a great success. Andrew's students arrived en forte, along with Carla's parents and even friends newly made while picking grapes that summer. A short video of Andrew having to conjugate Italian verbs -- some of them very rude -- is above. But a longer version can be seen here on You Tube. In the picture you can see a number of shot glasses, there in preparation for the opening of birthday packages that turned out all to be several parts of the whole. In order for Andrew to open one he had to conjugate an Italian verb in the chosen tense! If he made a mistake he had to down a shot. Needless, to say there is a lot of that evening that he does not remember. Before the end Wise Parents decided that they would confiscate and/or hide several!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Gordon's Gaffe

For me the problem with Gordon Brown as a politician began early on because he reminds me so very much of Richard Nixon: he physically looks like him, his body language is spookily reminiscent of the former American president and he seems to share many of the psychological hangups too.

Gordon's Gaffe of a few days ago is a good example of why I would never vote for him. It's not what he said -- I imagine that there is no politician out there who would like to be caught with his mike on when thinking himself/herself free from public scrutiny. What is most disconcerting to me is how much he misjudged the situation. Ironically, he handled the exchange with Mrs. Duffy with aplomb. He was polite and seemed to be paying attention to what she said. He didn't fluff his lines or his position. There was nothing to be upset about. He should have been pleased with his performance. Gillian Duffy felt good about the exchange and said she planned to vote for him.

The second failing on his part was that his first reaction was to blame someone for having set him up. Poor Sue, whoever she is -- because chances are that he is continuing to blame her for the ensuing fiasco. A fiasco that was entirely his own doing.

It also showed that he is deeply uncomfortable with the public, not a good place to be when running for high office in this ever-media-present society we have now. I don't know where he is at his best because from what we learn of him behind closed doors is that he is a bully prone to rages and bad-temper.

This is a man who with every breath in his being wants to be Prime Minister in his own right. Unfortunately, he is not right for the job. He just has too much baggage. And one final piece of advice: please stop trying to smile; the smile is just too 'trying'.