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August 11, 2011

There's something to be said for a hosepipe ban

I moved to Cumbria a few months ago, amidst warnings of needing thermal underwear and a decent umbrella.
And I laughed! I accused people of being stereotypical, and of not having lived here. I went sledging in the knee-deep snow, before snuggling down with a bottle of wine in front of the roaring log fire and then spring came, and I enjoyed a street party in the sunshine for the Royal Wedding.
When I visited Essex it was always drizzling and grey, while I'd left beautiful mountains, clear blue skies and glorious sunshine - albeit crisp in the air - up north. When it rained it was only showers, and the sun came out in between. Again I laughed - I can live with showers, when the sun shines too. You just need to learn to take every item of clothing with you when you go out (and being an Essex girl, we're used to packing it all).
And then summer came...
Since returning from holiday it has rained. And rained. And rained.
And no, this isn't rain like in Essex. It is torrential. I'm sat at my desk at home, and the rain is hammering on the barn roof and conservatory. It sounds like someone is pouring baths and baths full of water on top of my little house. The skylight that I marvelled at in spring looks like one of those rain feature walls that were so popular in houses 15 years ago.
And it's cold, oh so cold. I have to type fast, to stop my fingers freezing. I even put the heating on for a quick blast yesterday... and we're not even halfway through August.
So I've pulled back out my thick jumper, jeans and wellies. My dazzling summer wardrobe of little dresses and strappy sandals never saw the light of England - or Cumbria anyway - and it seems there is little point pressing ahead with that pedicure.
Give me six more months and I will have forgotten the meaning of the word "fashion". You won't recognise me, with my tangled mane of hair, no make up and pasty white skin.
Even an Essex girl draws the line at a tan which only the sheep will see...

August 10, 2011

Panic on the streets of London / Panic on the streets of Birmingham

First of all, if you're actually reading this, then thank you. I am new to the world of blogging, but I'm going to give it a go.
To begin, yes, I am an Essex girl. Born and bred and damn proud of it. No I'm not blonde though, and my computer screen is not covered in Tippex. Trust me, for every Essex girl joke you've got, I've got 30 more.
I planned to introduce myself here and now, but to be honest, there are more pressing things to talk about.
Ah yes, my very first blog and it appears I really do have something to say.
The country is currently slowly being overtaken by anarchy, as hooded youths and England's most salubrious criminal elements take to the streets.
It began with a peaceful protest over the shooting of a man in Tottenham. I don't know about that case, and I'm not going to pretend I can pass comment.
However, even Mark's family have come out and condemned what is now happening. What little respect do we have in this country, if we can manipulate and take advantage of the death of a man and use it as nothing more than a pathetic excuse for criminality?
At the moment the events are being watched with horror and, let's be honest, a bit of excitement. Most decent people realise this is major history going on and that, for the moment, it is criminal and despicable but they can view it with an air of interest rather than fear.
My biggest concern is when that changes. People have lost their livelihoods, their homes, their dignity... but so far only one man has lost his life. He was found with gun shot wounds in a car, but it is unclear what his involvement is with the riots.
Until now, the criminality has been serious but not violently sadistic; the rioters have set out to cause mass disruption, damage and looting. But how long before that no longer satisfies them, and they need to step it up a level? Before the good members of society decide it is time to stand up and reclaim their streets, putting themselves in the paths of the thugs?
There is a man in hospital though, fighting for his life after he tried to prevent youths from setting fire to a wheely bin. So they attacked him. Who is next?
Too much criticism has been levelled at the police... "they didn't go in hard enough", "they weren't where they were needed", "there weren't enough of them"... Someone needs to make up their mind. They went in too hard at the G8 protests and were universally condemnded. Their actions were blamed for exascerbating a volatile situation. So this time they tried to be calmer, more sturdy but less confrontational, and they have been criticised again.
As for lack of presence... some of the scenes I have seen on tv are truly terrible, as officers battle to contain hundreds of youths. If they are in one street fighting to save the citizens, how can they be in the next? If they divide themselves to cover all streets, how can you complain there are not enough of them? There is no cloning machine, there are only a finite number of officers, and they are being split between the riots and their current duties - because the drug dealers, robbers, drunk drivers and the rest don't stop their "work" while the police are otherwise engaged.
I am sat in the relative safety of my country home, just outside Carlisle, and I couldn't feel further from the violence and troubles. But it is creeping north, and it shows no signs of abating yet.
In the words of The Smiths: Panic on the streets of London / Panic on the streets of Birmingham / I wonder to myself / Could life ever be sane again ?
But there's Panic on the streets of Carlisle / Dublin, Dundee, Humberside / I wonder to myself
Are we next?