"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, 26 January 2011


In the pub last night talking to friends, one remarked about the number of campaigns I promote on facebook and twitter [and of course blog about!] This led to jokes [these were the friends from uni days and we all know each others' political views, religious views and favourite authors] and the word 'ranter' came up in the same sentence as my name....

I feel quite proud to be allied to the Ranters, who were individuals in the times of the English Civil War who roamed about the countryside and preached their individual beliefs. They became known collectively as 'Ranters' and my favourite is Abiezer Coppe. More about the Ranters and further reading and links can be found at this website: http://www.british-civil-wars.co.uk/glossary/ranters.htm A link on that website takes one to a site about Abiezer Coppe where his story is fully told. One comment about him says:
Coppe and his followers alarmed the clergyman Richard Baxter and other Puritans with "filthy lascivious practices" such as "roaring, drinking, whoring, open full-mouthed swearing". Coppe was also denounced for preaching in the nude and for committing adultery.

Quite a character!

Coppe was eventually arrested and at his trial:
On 1 October 1650, he was brought for questioning before a parliamentary committee. During his examination, Coppe apparently feigned madness: he mumbled and talked to himself when questioned and is said to have flung nutshells and fruit about the room. The committee sent him back to Newgate and he was never brought to trial.

Many Ranters became Quakers although I don't think Coppe would have qualified for membership of the Society of Friends, when he was eventually released from prison he returned to his original Baptist beliefs and became a physician. Please follow the links and read more about him and the other Ranters because they are so interesting!

The musician Leon Rosselson wrote a great song about Abiezer and folk singer Roy Bailey* performs a wonderful version of it, clicking on the blog title above will take you to the youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLLzbEx7gDg which shows Roy performing it. It also shows Tony Benn and is taken from one of their 'The Writing on the Wall' performances which give a 'history of dissent' in the form of narratives by Tony interspersed with songs by Roy. It is well worth buying the CD of these 'gigs' to hear the song properly and listen to the rest of the great songs and Tony's narration**. The photo above is of the CD [courtesy of amazon.co.uk]

Perhaps I should express my thanks to the present Coalition Government for giving me so many opportunities for causes of which to rant and support. At the moment there are several which I would love you all to support with me:

Petition to save our Coastguard services:

Petition to save the BBC World Services:

Petition to save the forests from privatisation:

Maybe I should include a 'rant of the day link' in these blogs. What do you think?

**Recorded live at Cambridge Folk Festival in 2000 this CD is a good substitute for those who haven't yet managed to catch their show and a fine reminder for those who have. Benn's contribution is a skip through the history of resistance to oppression and exploitation in England from the Peasants' Revolt of the 14th century up to the present day.... All this is interspersed with and illustrated by, songs from folk-singer Roy Bailey At the end of the first half Bailey had the audience singing the chorus of one of the west's most famous revolutionaries.
Socialist Review March 2005

If you listen carefully Elizannie and Other Half are singing along in the crowd!

*see http://www.roybailey.net/

Please don't look for Elizannie on twitter and facebook - I 'assume' a different name on those sites!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Moving Times

A Hopefully Humourous Account of Moving From A to B

When Other Half and I first got together around the time of the Summer of Love we believed with Proudhon that Property was indeed Theft*, but this was 100 years after Proudhon's death and back in that day rented property in this neck of the woods was very hard and expensive to come by. So we comforted ourselves that we were actually undermining the Capitalist Society by buying into the mortgage system when we didn't believe in it and using it to our own benefit. Or pragmatism as it is known...

Many, many years later when my parents had died I found that my part of their legacy resulted in a small property in Somerset. We had been travelling back and forth to Somerset with our growing family for over 30 years, firstly staying with friends or family and then as as the families [ours and theirs!] grew too big to share spare rooms we bought firstly a touring cravan and latterly a 'static' caravan sited on a piece of land overlooking the sea so that we could come and go at will. So it made sense to keep the small property and again pragmatism allowed us to say we weren't really second home owners as we had family and friend links within the county and anyway we were probably going to retire to Somerset so this was a 'property foothold'. At least one Child was talking about moving to the W.Country so again it seemed sensible to keep a place 'open' for him too. And we could have good comfortable holidays there, indeed spend part of the year there!

Fast forward to a couple of years ago. Plans change as plans do - Child wasn't now going to move to W.Country and moved elsewhere, other Children also seemed settled not in the W.Country. Our retirement plans were changing due to pension problems so selling the property seemed a necessity. But in the intervening years property prices had dropped and it seemed not to make economic sense to sell in a falling market. Another pragmatic decision seemed necessary so an awful Capitalistic seeming
plan was put into operation was put into action - we would rent out the cottage. Strains of Dylan's Dear Landlord kept playing through my ear. I had to be very pragmatic to come to terms with myself but managed as the bills mounted up.

So that is why we were in Somerset this weekend trying to complete the 'big move'- taking out personal possessions as we have a tenant coming in next Saturday. The plan was to store them all in the caravan and take a few things home and then when the weather is better sort things out into what we really need to keep and what is really sentimental stuff we have no room for! We both had really got this planned out well - me with a system of bags with labels on and Other Half with a really good check list.

All went well, car loaded up to the roof lining with the FIRST load and Saturday lunchtime off we tootled to the caravan BUT:

1. Road to caravan closed for repairs with a fence across and usual Somerset thing of no diversion signs. Still we pride ourselves on being locals so worked out a diversion route but thought that might also be blocked. After 15 worrying minutes found it was open so got to the caravan safely
2. Key would not turn in caravan door lock. Slight tantrums by both of us. Called a friend who is a handyman who said we would have to get the caravan makers out as something had definitely gone wrong with the lock
3. Caravan makers not answering 'phone
4. Another friend gave up a spare room for all our stuff [which was lucky as there was a real danger it could have been thrown over the cliff by this point] and all my careful planning ended up with the last car load being thrown in and the door shut - to be moved when the caravan can be opened.. However not everything fitted into the room so decided the remainder would have to travel home the 220 miles with us
5. Returned to cottage to find that the caravan makers we had been ringing were the wrong ones and the right ones were really helpful. But we would be back home by the time they fix the problem - hopefully sometime today IF they can find the 'detour' to the caravan site!

This was just on Saturday afternoon and of course there were more goings on than this over the weekend! The fact that we were selling a couple of larger items and waiting for the buyers to ring to say they were coming to get them. And waiting. And waiting. And wondering where the strange noise was coming from. And waiting. And waiting. And wondering where the strange noise was coming from. And waiting. And gradually realising that the 'phone was off the hook and the strange noise was actually that noise it makes when 'they' are trying to tell you that you have accidentally knocked the 'phone off the hook. Doh...... But luckily the buyers were persistant in the face of our ineptitude! And packing the tin opener when I only had tinned food left to eat for Sunday dinner could be seen as an error if anyone wants to get picky.

However we did to get to see our friends [who very kindly fed us!] and see the lovely Somerset countryside so we have had a bit of a break [albeit on a slightly surreal scale...]

The car journey home was fine except that the car was rather full. Also I had made a few packing mistakes in the panic engendered by the change of plans. Clothes had ended up in strange places so that those items of clothing left for me to wear on the return journey were, to put it lightly, not co-ordinated. My dress sense has been described as eccentric but this was just plain weird. When we stopped at the services for a 'comfort break' I said to Other Half 'At least I won't see anyone we know' but he needn't have added 'Or will want to know you'. Personally I didn't think mauve and orange were that startling although I wouldn't normally have chosen to wear them together but there were a few very surprised looks.

The photo above [courtesy of Wikipedia] is of Marie Lloyd who famously sang the moving song My Old man Said Follow the Van although in our case we could not get into the van...

*Pierre-Joseph Proudhon 1809-1865 Tomorrow I will return to the kind of blogging of which I hope he would approve!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

'Flu vaccinations for those at risk?

I have been asked to publicise the following news article from today's Staines News. A few things have been omitted from the report:

It was due to Elizabeth that her GP's surgery got further supplies of the vaccine. After she rang the PCT to say that her doctor's receptionist had said they had run out of the vaccine, the PCT rang the surgery and told them to order fresh supplies. [PCTs are to be abolished under the new NHS reforms and Doctors put in charge of their own budgets - where will patients turn in a case like this?]

Elizabeth not only works with the general public, she is a voluntary worker with vulnerable adults who are also classed as at risk in this 'flu epidemic. She has therefore been unable to work with them since before Christmas.

Her MP is Secretary of State for Transport, Phillip Hammond. He surely has an office staff who could answer queries even if he is too busy?

Pregnant woman fearful over swine flu jab delay Jan 19 2011 By Russell Butt

A PREGNANT asthmatic has accused NHS Surrey of 'not caring' after having to wait two weeks for a Swine Flu vaccine.

Elizabeth Bailey, who is 24-weeks pregnant with her first child, is in one of the more at-risk groups for contracting the virus, yet has been struggling to get hold of a vaccination since Saturday, January 1, despite her local surgery getting stock.

'Frustrated and exasperated' Miss Bailey, of Wesley Drive, Egham, was told her surgery, the Grove Medical Centre, also in Egham, would get stock on Monday (January 17), however when she rang the surgery, they confirmed they had stock, but said they were unable to administer it for a further seven days.

She explained: "I rang Surrey NHS who said it was up to the doctors to administer the vaccines however they like. The doctors had told me that because the vaccines come in vials of ten they would wait to give them out when they have at least ten people waiting.

"But if they had taken my number when I had rung, they would have a list of people ready. It's just ineptitude and bad scheduling, and we're the ones having to deal with it. It is tragic that anyone should die of this strain of flu whilst stocks of the vaccine have run out, but heaven forbid anyone should die whilst doctors have it in stock and refuse to give it to patients until suitable times for them."

Miss Bailey even contacted Runnymede & Weybridge MP, Philip Hammond, to express her concerns, as she felt other at-risk patients may also be stuck unable to get the vaccination, but she has yet to hear back.

She added: "Elderly people, or other people who are not quite sure who to go to for help might not know what to do. I don't think I know, I have been to NHS Surrey and they don't seem to care. Yet there's a surgery in Ottershaw giving them away to anyone over six months old, and here's me, waiting almost 20 days like a muppet. And because I am pregnant I can't get it over the counter, I seem to be in a complete Catch-22 situation."

Immunisation lead at NHS Surrey, Tricia Spedding, said she empathised with Miss Bailey and that a special clinic was being arranged at Egham.
She added: “I completely understand that people in at risk groups would want to be protected as soon as possible and I am sorry Ms Bailey has had to wait to receive her vaccination.

“Practices are doing their very best to vaccinate priory groups and are replenishing vaccine supplies as soon as possible. Unfortunately we know this may mean a short wait for some people and for this we are very sorry.”

BTW Elizabeth is the great-granddaughter of the original Elizannie - hence the modern version of her name! She has inherited that Elizannie's 'battling genes' - as Elizabeth said 'I want this publicised because we hear in the media and read in the press that those at risk should ask to be vaccinated and that there are plenty of supplies but to my knowledge last week there were none in Essex, Surrey, Herfordshire and W.Glamorgan. People do not know where to go for advice.'

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Eastenders' Dreadful Story line.

For reasons that will become obvious, I cannot write about the awful story line that is current on Eastenders. I deplore it and think the BBC should pull it. However Ellie-Mae has written an excellent piece on her blog and I have commented on it, re-tweeted it and asked others to read it and complain to the BBC.

If you love Eastenders don't click on this link. If you are as upset by as I am read Ellie-Mae's blog: http://lurehumano.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/soap-suds/

If you need advice because you have been upset by the story line, click on the blog title above.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

'Flu Vaccination

Something of a personal rant today - although it has much wider implications.

I don't know who Youngest Daughter takes after. She is trying to get the 'flu injection where she lives [Surrey], she is high priority as she is pregnant and asthmatic. Her doctor told her on Friday to come back next week, but not satisfied with that she rang her MP, PCT, midwifery service, local newspaper et al. The PCT said the Doctor should have supplies and 'phoned the surgery only to find none had been ordered. This has now been done and daughter is now top of the list for next week BUT in the meantime is trying to get the vaccine elsewhere - none to be had in her county even to buy privately. She has been on Radio London this morning talking about it - do you think she takes after her activist parent at all?

However there is no vaccine to be had here in Essex either, despite warnings which went out last week on our local TV and radio that vulnerable groups - especially pregnant women - should get the vaccination as soon as possible. Googling seems to suggest that other areas are having problems too.

Last week the government came under criticism for not running a campaign soon enough regarding the 'flu vaccine. After they [as the opposition] pillioried the then Labour Government for 'over reacting' to the 'flu threat last year maybe the current government should take a step back and review [a] their plans and statements and [b] what stocks are available and where they are throughout the country. For example,
looking at the website http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publichealth/Flu/index.htm the latest update was December 2010.

Youngest Daughter has spent a long time at her home googling this morning trying to find whereabouts - if anywhere - there are stocks of the vaccine available in her county for her own use. I have spent a long time googling trying to find out how stocks are distributed around the country for the purpose of this blog. Neither of us has had a lot of success other than finding newspaper reports which cannot be confirmed and 'phone calls to larger pharmacies for their private supply figures are not being answered. Many private pharmacies are showing 'No flu vaccine signs'.

It would be interesting to hear from people in other counties as to the avaiability or not of the vaccine.