Suffrage Centenary Picnic

Sunday saw the Suffrage Family Picnic in Arnot Hill Park, our local Park. This is part of a number of events this year planned, supported and underwritten by Gedling Borough Council.  I am part of the Centenary planning group led by Councillor Roxanne Ellis (Equalities Policy Adviser) and my role was to organise yarn bombing the Park.  The Fabulous Yarnarchists worked hard to produce green, white, violet and some red items and we descended on the Park to cover it in Suffragette and Suffrage loveliness!   With excellent weather this free event was greatly enjoyed by many local families.

The day started with a number of us dressed as Suffragettes and Roxanne delivered a rousing original speach from a soapbox in the Arnold Market Square.

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We even had a heckler who we saw off with a rousing shout of “Votes for Women!”  Then a march to the Park joined by our local MP Vernon Coaker and communal singing of suffragette songs.

As families unpacked their picnics the entertainments included a pop-up theatre production of an original suffrage themed play put on by our local amateur dramatics group, The Prospect Players.  We had a craft tent run by Gedling Play Forum, Edwardian games, and an Edwardian entertainer wandering around the park with  unicycle and juggling tricks.  Finally we enjoyed an open air showing of the original Mary Poppins. (Not forgetting that Mrs Banks aas a Suffragette!)  As they might have said in 1918 “It was, in all, absolutely splendid!”

So sit back and enjoy the photos!

Where I Stand 

This carefully considered blog is well worth a read.

Yokel Bear

I’ve written this because I feel that in the interest of clarity, and to counter some assumptions being made about me, I should state where I stand on the issue of the Labour Party right now. My hope is that people will read it with an open mind, not jump to conclusions, and at least afford me the dignity of respecting my views even if they differ from their own.  Sadly, I’m a little pessimistic that this hope will be achieved given how polarised things have become.

1) Corbyn 

I am not, and never have been, anti-Corbyn. I backed him in the leadership race, voted for him and was thrilled with the way that the campaign reenergised the left after the General Election defeat. More importantly, I liked a lot of his ideas. I also knew that he wasn’t a perfect candidate for me; I think anyone expecting any politician…

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What the Labour Party achieved, lest we forget

Politics and Insights

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1. Longest period of sustained low inflation since the 60s.
2. Low mortgage rates.
3. Introduced the National Minimum Wage and raised it to £5.52 per hour.
4. Over 14,000 more police in England and Wales.
5. Cut overall crime by 32 per cent.
6. Record levels of literacy and numeracy in schools.
7. Young people achieving some of the best ever results at 14, 16, and 18.
8. Funding for every pupil in England has doubled.
9. Employment is at its highest level ever.
10. 3,700 rebuilt and significantly refurbished schools; including new and improved classrooms, laboratories and kitchens. 
11. 85,000 more nurses.
12. 32,000 more doctors.
13. Brought back matrons to hospital wards.
14. Devolved power to the Scottish Parliament.
15. Devolved power to the Welsh Assembly.
16. Dads now get paternity leave of 2 weeks for the first time.
17. NHS Direct offering free convenient patient advice.
18…

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Leafletting and letterboxes.

Today I have been leafleting all day.  With sore knuckles and sore knees I can definitely feel it and as I traced my way up and down garden paths I had time to reflect on leafletting and letterboxes.  We are the unsung heros of the election.   Without us, voters would feel ignored and bereft of that essential election communication.

Nottingham is a very hilly city and most houses have drives and steps that the weary leafletter must go up and down, up and down. As I wend my way I remind myself that leafleting is one of the best workouts known to woman or man.

The motto of a good leafleter is ‘Be Prepared’. Okay so that is also the motto of the Scouts.  Hats, sunglasses, raincoats, it will be you against the weather.   You will also need a good size shoulder bag to carry and protect your leaflets against the aforementioned weather.   Do not be tempted to use a plastic carrier bag.  They will break and the weight of your leaflets will cause them to cut a painful red ring in your wrist.  Plus you will need both hands for the intricate task of leafletting. Finally, you will need your trusty ‘pusher’.  You can get specially designed one but a ruler or even a short sturdy stick will do.  Never leave home without it!

There are some clear rules to delivering political materials direct to the electorate.  If possible do try to avoid irritating the householder. It makes little sense to slog up and down the pathway only to deliver the  vote directly into the hands of the opposition. If you open a gate, close and latch it correctly.  Assume someone, (shift worker, baby), is sleeping.  Creep in and creep out.  Whatever you do don’t let the letterbox bang.  Never ever go across someone’s garden however tempting, and some gardens are very tempting,  especially town houses with no fences and extra long paths.  Someone will always see and take offence.  Talking of offence, a prime way to render a resident incandescent is to leave a leaflet sticking out of their letterbox.  Always, always push your leaflet all the way through the letterbox.

Which brings us to letterboxes… where shall I begin?  All leafletters become letterbox connoisseurs.   Personally I prefer the horizontal widescreen version situated in the middle of the door.  My pet peeve are the ones on the bottom of the door that make you stoop down.  (see sore knees).  I have leafletted for elections over many years and each time I develop an increasing respect and sympathy for the trusty ‘postie’.  Letter boxes can be viscious!  Never mind a simple cover on the outside of the door, modern letter boxes seem designed to prevent you actually getting any kind of communication through them.  Most outer covers have an extra strong spring to keep the wind and weather out.  I can understand and live with that.  But then you have to get your leaflet past a stiff double hedge of bristles akin to a yard broom.  Get your leaflet through that and you run into an inner cover with an even stronger spring.  You will also find that the householder with a letter box like the serried rows of a shark’s teeth is also the most insistant that the leaflet is pushed all the way through.  This is where your ‘pusher’ will become essential.  The mantra of all experienced leafleters is, whatever you do, do not push your fingers through that letter box.   If you don’t get them bruised and  battered by the letterbox you will surely find them bitten off by the silent but deadly dog in wait behind the door!  Not an election goes by without some poor soul ending up in A&E.  Be warned!

Most leaflets are the wrong size for the average letterbox.  Plus you need to fold your leaflet to get sufficient rigidity to get it through that letterbox.   Personally,  I prefer to pre-fold, but others will fold ‘on the fly’.  Remember that shoulder bag? Sling it around your back out of the way while one hand manoeuvres the letterbox and the other manipulates the leaflet and ‘pusher’.  Keep those fingers OUT of that letterbox while you ensure the leaflet goes all the way through and flutters to the floor on the other side.  Success!   And on to the next.

Leafletting does have it’s charms.  I love to see all the different houses and gardens, stamped with their owner’s personality.  It is a great way to get to know your patch up close.  Most folks are friendly and pleased to see you.  Sometimes they will ask for a poster.   It is also suprising what you come across.  Only the other day I leafletted a house to find that the front door key left in the lock!  With a note on the door, the key was left in a neighbour’s safekeeping. No dawdling now, nine hundred leaflets to deliver today.