This image was one of a series of images used by Visit Wales to promote Wales to the United States as part of a major international folk festival in 2009. Take a long look, because with planning permission relaxations about to be unleashed on the landscape, it could all look very different so very easily. Bigger houses in already crowded areas and new mansions for the wealthy in the middle of landscapes such as those above, can both be looked forward to, all in the name of the economy. Well, if it works, perhaps we’ll be able afford some land reclamation projects from the sea and build some new countryside, but it’s unlikely. What is likely is that those who can already afford to will be allowed to systematically wreck what is left of our landscapes, while making already cramped urban areas unbearable mazes of backyard extensions. It might help the economy, but it will serve to create an island in which few want to live.
Phase 3 of the ConDem ‘bollocks up Britain’ plan is well and truly in motion. Look forward to compulsory military service for juniors next.
There are plenty of things that you can take the Welsh Government to task over…plenty of things. In general, the most obvious thing you could go after them on is their inactivity. The slow haul towards a legislative Wales has been as painful to endure as it has been uninspiring, even more so given the legal arse up led by Carwyn’s administration over the one piece of post 2011 legislation to get given the Senedd green light. But to attack the free prescription programme, once again, is somewhere between bonkers verging on loopy.
It seems to be the bi-monthly bug bear of the opposition…well, we say opposition, what we really mean is that it is the bi-monthly bug bear of the Welsh Conservatives who seems utterly incapable of just letting this one go, and regularly dust off the cobwebs from their increasingly worn out complaints before wheeling it out once more. Today, led by the ever audible Darren Millar, were the really shocking revelation that since free prescription medication was introduced in Wales, that more people are taking prescription medicines. Jaws must really have dropped when that bombshell was dropped on the Welsh political community. When things are free, people take more of them…take a moment, you must all be in a state of mental paralysis reading this.
It was reported that several Welsh Tory spokespeople were vomiting with horror at the news that the general public were actually getting their hands on medicines, after all, that’s the last thing we want isn’t it? But of course, the whole point of free prescriptions was in response to the fact that large proportions of Welsh society were not taking up prescription medicines, you know, those things that doctors were telling patients ‘you need this to stay alive’, because they were too expensive. Millar was very happy to point out that millionaires can pick up pain medication for free, but duly ignores the fact that Wales is not littered with millionaires, and that it is in fact littered with people living below the poverty line, the very people who stand to benefit from this programme.
It would appear that Darren Millar’s policy would be to price out two thirds of the population when it comes to medication, no doubt resulting in widespread death amongst those troublesome working class voter groups, in turn minimising the Labour vote in Wales…it’s possible at least. Certainly were the free prescription policy to be withdrawn, Mr Millar would be able to enjoy a whole host of new hospital based issues to whine about, as treatable conditions rapidly turn into untreatable terminal illnesses, and already stretched hospital wards become crippled by the sudden influx of deathbed patients, who might have been fine at home, but could no longer afford the medication.
Just a final point on price, the Western Mail reported this morning that while the cost of free prescriptions stands at over £500m, it is a sum that is decreasing rather than increasing. On top of that, given Mr Miller’s determined stance to cut out this unsustainable and unbearable weight on the tax payer, one wonders how he would looking back over his summer indulgences, where he spoke at length and with great enthusiasm about Jubilee celebrations and Olympic entertainments, the combined cost of which would cover free prescriptions for all in the UK (not just Wales) for over half a century…just a thought for anyone wondering how ‘waste’ might be defined.
Yesterday we did a review of her fabolous EP, now we interview the woman behind the artist. Here is the Q&A with Gwenno Saunders, about her music, her home town Cardiff and The Pipettes.
Can you introduce yourself?
Gwenno, like the chocolate (Kinder) Bueno but with a G.
Can you describe your music in three (separate) words?
Melancholic, Dream, Pop
What was the first album you ever bought?
It was a Randy Crawford album on vinyl from Kelly’s Records in the Cardiff indoor market when I was about 11, I was looking for the single ‘Almaz’ which my dancing teacher constantly played in the car on the way to class, but they didn’t have it so I got the Street Life album instead. I was really disappointed not to get the song that I wanted but I was determined to walk out of there with something!
What is according to you…
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In a scene reminiscent of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the massed British television audience that has been mesmerised by two weeks’ worth of moving images and flashing lights, will emerge from their homes in a state of confusion, rubbing eyes startled by daylight and sore from televisual staring. In that moment a new instinct will take hold, one forged from hours and weeks committed to watching strangers from foreign lands leap, and sprint, and dive and dash, as their eyes adjust to the outside world they run, charging forwards, their lungs carried by all the hope and expectation that accompanies seeing somebody else win a shiny piece of metal…
…and then, then they begin to remember. A shrivelled corner of their memory sparks alight strangely familiar sensations. On the streets upon which they have just sprinted, where there should be flags of every nation, where there should be lithe individuals being carried aloft the shoulders of adoring crowds, where there should be a nation in which not just post boxes are painted in gold but the very roads and pavements as well, where there should be this ‘great’ Britain that they have been told about for so many days, they find something else…
…the masses would have been safe from the truth had they not stepped out of the front door, had they not left the security of their living room where the BBC and front pages of the Sun would keep them blissfully unaware. Their mistake was to be inspired. Having left their sanctuary and ran out in the expectation of buying several hundred pounds worth of exercise equipment, they found that their local sports shop was no longer there. A sun stained ‘closing down’ sale sign peaks out from behind cracked white washed windows…
…in that moment of deflation, another shock hits the masses, they had just been running, something most had not contemplated for half a decade and more. Feeling a touch on the side of hungry, the masses attempt to remember what they once did for nourishment before a time when Olympic success could sustain them. Each mind strains to recall, and then it comes to them, a powerful image, burnt into their frontal lobes, McDonalds, McDonalds, McDonalds, McDonalds…and would you like a Coca Cola with that…
…heavy with fatty foods and disappointment, they remember, ‘we can always buy those things on the internet’. Ah the internet, home of the Nike sponsored florescent shoes and home delivered exercise bikes. Too tired to run back, they wait patiently, then increasingly less so, for the bus to take them home. As they wait they find people sleeping in corners, in rough clothes…what are these things, these unfamiliar wretches? Surely this is not Britain, there were no homeless people on show in the opening ceremony, so where did these come from? They hand over £3 to ride the bus, littered with shredded pages of the Metro, each tattered page carrying a memory of an athletic hero. The masses remember the faces, the names are on the tip of their tongue…they are sure it will come back to them…
…getting home, internet on…Nike shoes on sale and an exercise bike on its way. It seems a little expensive, but the masses follow the Government example and spend based on dreams and ambitions, rather that which remains dwindling in the broken bank. 3-4 days to delivery…3-4 days to wait. Television had delivered so many heroes recently, perhaps there will be some more while we wait. Eastenders and Coronation Street are our heroes now, and we sit, and begin to fester once more…
…3-4 days later, the Nike shoes and exercise bike arrive. The shoes look great, and are comfortable around the house, in the pub…the exercise bike looks complicated…it is assembled in weeks to come, and serves as the most effective of clotheslines, and dust mats…
Unlike the children freed by Indiana Jones, the masses will not run into the arms of jubilant families in a magically enhanced lush paradise of hope and opportunity, they will instead run back into Britain, and in remembering what is actually going on in the country as opposed to the magical fantasy land so expertly woven by the state, and will quickly wish that the distraction had not left them. As the wise elder spoke to Indy, ‘now you see the power of the rock’…for the masses, they might begin to understand the distractive power of the Games, and for that reason more than any sense of inspiration, they will wish it never ended.
Eisteddfod gets its own app.
maes at the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol, Vale of Glamorgan 2012, which takes place until Saturday 11 August.
The bilingual app is unique in that the menu and activities sections are in welsh and english but the language settings allow you to choose your primary language. This is ideal for learners who may want to start in the shallow end but build confidence throughout the day/week.
Welcome and Information and Activities are the best places to get started and will give you a flavour of what’s going on this year, both day and night. It’ll also tell you where you can pick up your for free translation equipment. You can then search through all the week’s events and activities by day, category or venue and find them…
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There was much excitement today as the ‘British’ national anthem took gold in the cycling. The likes of Gary Lineker and Piers Morgan were quick to celebrate the fact that the plucky and humble anthem was able to stand up to the challenges posed by other anthems and take top spot on the podium after a hard day of competition. Stiff opposition came in the form of the Chinese national anthem, which had been bolstered in recent days by having had so many opportunities to be practiced, equally the Americans had been presented with the opportunity to fine tune their anthems performance on several occasions. Yet today it was all about GSTQ.
The anthem had encountered a number of difficulties in recent days, with prominent Welsh sportsmen being roundly hounded by some very important television types for not doing their bit to help the anthem win gold. Further controversy followed a male cyclist, who having done the hard work of winning his event, then spectacularly failed to secure gold for GSTQ in a disastrously silent rendition of the anthem.
Yet today was all about the anthem. As a female cyclist secured the race victory, her name was lost in a blur of congratulatory texts and tweets in celebration of the anthems achievement, as she ensured its position at the front of the field with a heartfelt singalong version. Mayor of London Boris Johnson was first in line to offer his support, suggesting that ‘while the anthem has had some great days in the past, I remember singing it at a rally for some monarch a little while back, that was big, but this is mega, this is huge, London can really be proud that it played host to such a great anthem’.
Hopes remain that the anthem will go on to win more gold medals as the Olympics continue, but on this day, celebrations will go on long into the night, and the anthem can go back to its hotel room and enjoy a well earned rest having finally secured its first gold medal.
N.B. We may have misinterpreted the Olympic coverage, and a cyclist might actually have won the gold…but it could easily be the other way around.