Tragic (Politically) Perfect Timing

Post length: 812 words, about 3 and a half minutes.

Romania made the headlines across the world at the end of last month due to a tragic fire in a nighclub which has, so far, claimed the lives of more than 50 people. The fire itself is reported to have started when fireworks were used as part of an album launch, setting alight the club’s foam sound proofing. One of the reasons so many people were killed is because of the woefully inadequate fire precautions in the club. Following the fire Romanians did what they seem to do best — they took to the streets in protest.*

It seems that there is no doubt that safety rules were flaunted in Colectiv Club on the night of the fire and there is significant public feeling that this was allowed to happen due to high levels of corruption in both local and national government, and that’s what brought people out in massive numbers. Fundamentally they were protesting over the corruption which has embroiled pretty much every element of the state from Bucharest’s sector Mayors to the Prime Minister Victor Ponta. That said it was hard to ascertain exactly what the protesters were hoping would come of their street campaign. Of course with mass spontaneous protest of this kind there’s always a mixed message, but pinning down an outcome which would make people happy was somewhat of a challenge. [read more]

Posted on Monday 16th November, 2015 at 8:58 am in Obiter dicta.
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GCSE English: The Merchant of Venice

Post length: 1,709 words, about 7 and a half minutes.

The following essay was written for my GCSE English course in February 2001 and relates to the William Shakespeare play “The Merchant of Venice”.  It’s released here under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales Licence. I can’t vouch for it’s completeness: the only copy of the essay I have includes “PASTE HERE!” after the 4th paragraph and a section in red towards the end. I am also unsure of the title or question of the piece as this is also not in the document. I hope it will still be of some use to someone!

William Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ addresses some very important points in term of religious and social views. The play centers around the idea of antisemitism in society and the way the Jewish community has been, and to some extent still is, persecuted for their religion. Due to this the play is of a controversial nature and so one which it is hard to put on in today’s multi religious society. The objections raised today are mainly about Act Four, Scene One – the court room scene. [read more]

Posted on Monday 28th September, 2015 at 9:28 am in School Work.
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September 2015 Films

Post length: 604 words, about 2 and a half minutes.

With the first weekend of September well underway it’s time to look forward to the films which we might take in this month. As we leave behind the summer and people start to return from their holidays the upcoming releases are starting to look much more appealing that the August set. The first wave — from 4th September — we have of course already seen and I have linked to those items in my movie database with the listing.

4th September

American Ultra – between the two of us we gave this mixed reviews. I thought it was surprisingly good — a little off-beat, with humor and enough action. Admittedly it was all pretty much just about fighting, and this lead to Monica finding it long and boring. I was also surprised to find out that is had a $28million budget — if felt kind of indi.
No Escape – perhaps “Escape via Vietnam” is more accurate. To give him his due Owen Wilson is actually not bad in a film well out of his comfort zone. [read more]

Posted on Sunday 6th September, 2015 at 10:18 am in Arts & Ents.
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2015 Labour Leadership Elections

Post length: 1,027 words, about 4 and a half minutes.

As the Labour leadership campaign rumbles on I find myself torn. There are four candidates standing — Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall — but one has been the subject of the most media attention.

Jeremy Corbyn has excited the media by seemingly being the outsider who has defied the odds to become the hot favourite to win the contest. Along side this Corbyn has got the media’s interest by being a staunch socialist — arguably flying in the face of today’s standard centrist “they’re all the same” image of politicians — what some paint as the party stepping back in time.

From a personal point of view I’ve been in the uncomfortable position recently of finding myself agreeing with Tony Blair a couple of times. Putting aside that people seem to find it strange for an outspoken socialist to be in a strong position to challenge for the leadership of what is supposed to be a party built on socialist foundations, the prospect of Corbyn becoming leader of the party rings alarm bells for the prospect of being elected in the 2020 general election. [read more]

Posted on Monday 17th August, 2015 at 9:43 am in Obiter dicta.
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August 2015 Films

Post length: 678 words, 3 minutes.

Monica and I recently reached the 1 year anniversary of being a Cineworld Unlimited Card holder. After a year Unlimited Card holders  are privileged to be upgraded to premium unlimited. In reality this means you get a little bit more of a discount at the snacks counter, free access to 3D films (in the first year of membership you have to pay a 3D uplift) and a slightly smarter black membership card.

As part of this we have been tending to go to the cinema at least once a week on Friday after work, and this involves planning. On Tuesday Cineworld announce the film times for the weekend ahead. It’s only then that we get to see if the film we were hoping to catch that weekend is actually going to turn up in Aldershot. The best website we’ve found for checking out upcoming films, and how likely they are to be shown at our local cinema, is the Film Distributors’ Association’s UK film release schedule.

We’ve found the site is only complete with dates and venues about a month in advance, so at the start of this month I decided to take a look at what films we might try to catch this month: [read more]

Posted on Monday 10th August, 2015 at 4:23 pm in Arts & Ents.
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Diplomacy in Friendly Europe

Post length: 476 words, just over 2 minutes.

Paul Brummell‘s team published something on his blog last Wednesday which illustrates to me exactly what the British mission in Romania should be striving to do. At the end of a run of blog posts celebrating of 10 years of the embassy’s internship scheme, they posted the answers to three questions posed to alumni of the scheme ahead of the anniversary party. Some of the answers were touching and some made me feel a sense of pride in what the UK’s mission in Romania are doing. I don’t mean to belittle the good diplomatic work that I know the British embassy in Bucharest do (personally, see this), of course, but in the grand scheme of world diplomacy a mission in a stable, friendly European country cannot be the most challenging of postings. For me it raises the question of what a British embassy should be doing in a country like Romania. [read more]

Posted on Monday 27th July, 2015 at 10:33 am in Obiter dicta.
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Mark & Spencer in Aldershot Town Centre

Post length: 471 words, just over 2 minutes.

Marks & Spencer, AldershotThe announcement made by Marks & Spencer at the end of June that they intend to shut their Aldershot Outlet store must have come as a real blow to the town’s management team. Rushmoor Borough Council have been pumping money into regenerating the town’s pedestrianised shopping area, the area in which the M&S Outlet takes centre stage. The unit itself is one of the largest in the town centre and sits in a key location half way up the high street directly opposite the town’s main shopping centre, The Galleries. As one of only a handful of clothes shops in the town centre, the closure of the shop would leave a gap in the town centre in not just a physical sense — there would be a severe lack of quality clothing outlets too. [read more]

Posted on Thursday 2nd July, 2015 at 10:31 am in Obiter dicta.
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Local Elections 2015 in Farnham Castle Ward

Post length: 214 words, almost 1 minute.

In the last few weeks the media has been full of information about the general election, and there are plenty of resources out there to help you find out about you local candidates. (Here’s mine!) But tomorrow sees more than just Parliamentary elections, across the country people are taking to the polls to vote for their local councilors as well. In Farnham Castle ward I’ve had very little information come through the door regarding the local candidates I’m being asked to choose from, so I have gone out to find out at least something about each of the candidates. Below is a list of people standing for Waverley Borough and Farnham Town councils, with some links which might be helpful.
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Posted on Wednesday 6th May, 2015 at 9:19 pm in Obiter dicta.
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General Election 2015: Jeremy Hunt (Conservative)

Post length: 569 words, about 2 and a half minutes.


Full name: Jeremy Richard Streynsham Hunt
Party: Conservative


Jeremy Hunt is the sitting MP in South West Surrey, and was the Secretary of State for Health in the previous government. A quick look at the current polling data and the constituency’s history shows just how safe the seat is for the Conservatives and there is little doubt that Hunt will retain the seat. Perhaps it is for this reason that the Conservative freepost didn’t arrive at our house. It is also not available on I did, however, get a paid-for addressed leaflet at the weekend, and so I’ll take a look at this, with consideration that it doesn’t compare to the leaflets I have reviewed from the other parties.
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General Election 2015: Paul Robinson (Something New)

Post length: 570 words, about 2 and a half minutes.


Full name: Paul James Robinson
Party: Something New


Something New describe themselves as “a new political party, offering a vision of a better democracy.” It appears that they are putting up two candidates in the 2015 General Election and two in local elections (although one of those is the same candidate). Paul Robinson is representing South West Surrey.

The leaflet opens by talking about perceived failings in the current political parties, claiming that they represent their own agenda rather than really representing the constituents they are supposed to. It briefly teases a new way of making policy.

[read more]

Posted on Sunday 3rd May, 2015 at 11:18 am in Obiter dicta.
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