30 January, 2006
The young men and women of University of London Officer Training Corps were being put through their planning and decision making paces. They proved to be very much on top of their brief.
Seeing people in their late teens and early twenties make complicated decisions under pressure gave me a lot of confidence in the future of the British Army. I wish I could say the same when I look at Labour politicians.
The training took place near the famous Aldershot garrison (home of the Airborne forces for many years) over a very, very cold few days. The views from Creaser’s Camp are impressive, as was the Northwesterly wind.
As we finished on Sunday morning a steady stream of young men in combat trousers, backpacks and yellow rugby tops ran by. Ahhhh, the unmistakeable sight of the 1st term students from Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
I imagine that Prince William (Officer Cadet Wales) was amongst them, I didn’t see him though.
I don’t agree with all his conclusions but he has provided a unique viewpoint of what will undoubtedly be a tipping point in British politics.
Labour’s current obsession with stripping out the safeguards of the legal process would make these errors of fact or judgement even more dangerous.
The rule of law may appear inconvenient but it is there for a reason. Respect it.
Giving back the £3,520 of his parliamentary salary isn’t that big a deal, especially when compared with the £150,000 appearance money he will be keeping. I say keeping because his constituency staff are already paid out of his parliamentary expenses.
Or if they are not there are two £75,000 jobs going in East London. Bring your own cat food.
They say that a week is a long time in politics, they’re not wrong. When CK stood down because of his drinking who would have thought that those lining up to replace him would look so bad in comparison?
26 January, 2006
The Labour party loved it because to vote against the motion would look like councillors were opposed to the investment and to vote for it would look like they were in favour of knocking down Ladywell. I can almost see the leaflets now.
All the Labour party members present, and there were quite a few who chose not to attend, voted for the motion. All the opposition parties abstained. There were a series of opposition speeches that basically said, - we are very happy with getting the funding but we oppose the premature demolition of Ladywell.
The Labour response to this was very telling, a surprisingly personal and vitriolic attack on the opposition councillors by a series of Labour councillors, not very civilised at all.
Anyone reading this blog will know that I have no issue with homosexuality at all, so I find it amazing that it is becoming such an issue in what has always promoted itself as being the most liberal of parties. Simon Hughes’ volte-face over his own sexuality is an embarrassing joke.
Firstly it shows a deep unwillingness to be honest. This is not a good trait in a politician, when pushed about drug use in his earlier life David Cameron made it quite clear that he was unwilling to discuss it. No denial, no lies just a clear and unambiguous statement of intent.
Last week Simon Hughes strenuously denied the rumours that have been doing the rounds, when asked directly if he was gay he said "The answer is no, as it happens. But if it was the case, which it isn't, I hope that would not become an issue." has been blatantly dishonest.
Next, it reinforces the unfortunate perception that being gay is something to be deeply ashamed of; this will undermine the confidence of many gay people who are thinking of or who are already in public life.
Finally I have to question the timing of this. What has changed in the last few days to make Simon feel that he has to discuss this issue now, rather than last week, or last year? Do I detect another case of “come clean or be exposed” threats coming from within the party? I hope not, the underhand treatment of Charles Kennedy should have been a low point for the Lib Dems, it seems it is not.
25 January, 2006
Adrian Graves has anounced that he is coming over, you can read the details above so I won't go into them here.
I have always felt that the Lib Dems are basically two parties under one banner. The high tax, high spend embrace Europe, soft on crime, votes for criminals section and the rest.
The rest being strong on civil liberties and personal freedom, economically liberal as well as socially liberal and committed to localism. Not a million miles away from one nation Tories.
So who has moved? Adrian? He claims not, but his view of the Conservative party clearly has. The Conservative party then? We claim to have changed a lot, I feel that we have moved on some policy areas but there is a core of Conservatism that is unchanged.
The Lib Dems? This I think is where the big change has occurred, the country viewed them as the nice party, they held that view themselves. Recent events must have caused Lib Dems up and down the country to look at their own party critically and many will be less impressed than they had hoped.
Some people in the Conservative party feel very uncomfortable about former Lib Dems coming over to us. I don’t have a problem with it. There are a number of Lib Dems in Lewisham that I would be happy to welcome into the Conservative party, you know who you are.
23 January, 2006
We have been advocating greater autonomy for head teachers and greater choice for parents for decades. At last the Labour front bench has woken up to the fact that these are not only fair and reasonable but effective.
The problem that they face is that their own backbenchers don't like the increased freedoms for head teachers because they think that they might make the "wrong" choices, that is choices which don't conform to their one size fits all mindset.
It is the same fear which drives them to oppose increased choice for parents. What is parents avoided the schools blinded by left wing dogma and opted for schools were more open minded and effective?
It now seems as if the Labour leadership is bowing to pressure from its own backbenches, something it chose not to do over the war in Iraq or over ID cards. This is despite knowing that the Conservatives would back bold and decisive change in the education system.
Either Blair and Kelly believe that their proposals are the right direction for our schools or they do not. If they do, then they should stand up to their backbenchers and force the changes through, if the do not do this then they will have failed on every level.
I find it deeply sad to think that Blair and Kelly would sacrifice the educational potential of millions of our children just to placate their own MPs. Having stood up to Labour left for so long now is not the time to crumble.
22 January, 2006
Reading back through my blog from 2004 I noticed that I spent much less time commenting on local and national political news and much more time talking about my family and personal life. I supposed that is the effect that standing for parliament has on you.
For those of you who are interested in the family here is a little snapshot. Rupert is now very active and has developed a very close affinity with Rosie (the dog). Her first action of the morning is to look for him, and she seems to be that bit more careful around him than she is with other people.
Freddy is going through the usual terrible threes but his little tantrums are short lived and fairly far apart. Our biggest challenge with him over the last few months has been his habit of waking in the middle of the night and sneaking into our bed. I think that we made the rod for our own backs by not taking him back to his bed the second we woke and found him.
We have got him sleeping through in his own bed now with the aid of a start chart and the promise of a new train for his Thomas the Tank Engine set. So far so good, watch this space.
Mum and Dad are doing well and having them live with us is working well. The boys love being with them and they are great company for Susie while I am out and about politicking.
The car is making a funny noise, I really hope this isn't going to be a multi thousand pound repair job.
Well that is the news from chez Cleverly, and it sounds like one of those awful group emails that some people send at Christmas.
19 January, 2006
About half a dozen of us ended up in the Chinese restaurant across the road from the Hawkstone Hall. By the time we had put the world to rights and eaten our crispy duck it was quite late, too late to get either the train or tube. I ended up on a night bus, never a great experience! I was stuck into the book that I am reading when I noticed that I was sitting opposite Lib Dem leadership hopeful Simon Hughes.
He has clearly been putting in the hours. My money is now on him to get the leadership.
I had hoped that they would include a link to the petition but that would have been a little too much to hope for. Never mind.
I am glad that at least one of the local papers acknowledge the Conservative involvement in the opposition to the cuts, during the general election the Lewisham Conservatives opposed the first round of cuts and our efforts were completely ignored by the local media. I don't know if their hands were tied legally but it is frustrating when important issues like this don't get the full coverage that they deserve.
He was a sensible, moderate, honest and loyal to Charles Kennedy and yet he couldn't get enough support to stand.
IDS used these two events to highlight the fact that care for the least privileged and poorest in society has always been at the heart of traditional Conservative politics.
David Cameron is a very accomplished public speaker and can give do all the rabble rousing stuff when he needs to but last night he was very measured and calm, it is clearly a subject that he feels speaks almost for itself. A copy of the speech can be downloaded here.
For a long time the left has claimed the exclusive right to talk about fighting poverty and social exclusion and for too long we have let them get away with it. This has lead to bureaucratic centralised solutions being seen as the only solutions.
The Conservative answers to many of these problems have been in operation through community groups, charities and faith groups and they have shown that they work well. What we have failed to do, as a party, is to broadcast the success stories that have come out of these groups. Often they are small and local and do not have the PR skills to shout about the changes that they have made.
Conservatives should be about promoting small, local and effective enterprise whether that is commercial enterprise or social enterprise. At last we are shouting about this and it seems that the country has started to listen.
17 January, 2006
Let's look at a few 'undisputed' British icons. Fish and chips is the most British of British foods yet chips are made from potatoes, an American plant, introduced to Britain in the 1570s many hundreds of years after rice and pasta were eaten here. How about tea, so much more British than the Euro/American drink of coffee? Well, insurance deals were being done in London coffee houses decades before tea was even heard of this side of the channel. What about a few other quintessentially British things... Playing Polo? Indian. Guardsmen's bearskins? French. The Royal Family? German.
As American comedian Chris Rock put it:
"Being British is about driving in a German car to an Irish pub for a Belgian beer, then travelling home, grabbing an Indian curry or a Turkish kebab on the way, to sit on Swedish furniture and watch American shows on a Japanese TV. And the most British thing of all? Suspicion of anything foreign."
The problem with any definition of Britishness is that it cannot hope to encompass the attributes of the whole nation. Being quiet, reserved and "stiff upper lipped" might be a fitting description for a member of the civil service in London but does it fit with the character of a greengrocer in Liverpool? I doubt it.
So can Britishness be defined as a purely geographical thing, if you are born in Britain are you automatically British? Clearly this has a large part to play but it cannot be the whole definition, nor could someone born overseas be automatically excluded.
Perhaps Descartes had the right idea, "I think, therefore I am". Could the definition of Britishness be as simple as genuinely believing that something or someone is British? Are the British icons listed above any less British because they happen to come from overseas? I would argue that they are not. Fish and chips is British and so is Chicken Tikka Masala - despite their foreign heritage.
If Britishness is so simple to define, why does Gordon suddenly feel that we need to display our Britishness? The cynics among you - and I know that there are a few - may think that it is little more than gesture politics. The gruff Scottish Chancellor needs to show the English that he is a potential Prime Minister for the whole country; he probably hopes that throwing an extra bank holiday into the equation will do his popularity no harm either. You may think that... I couldn't possibly comment!
Leaving the obviously shallow motivations aside, I find myself agreeing that we are losing our sense of national identity. It is not being watered down by immigration as the extremist and racist parties would have us believe. We have managed to stay British through immigration from the Romans, Saxons, Vikings, Normans, Huguenots, Jews, Irish, West Indians, West Africans, East Africans, Indians, Pakistanis etc. etc. etc. Britishness evolved but it did not diminish.
The answer to our current diminishing sense of national identity is held in the definition "I think, therefore I am". People are less inclined to see themselves as British than they once did, they are less proud of Britain and its achievements; they are not encouraged to feel British.
When children are taught that the British Empire was nothing more than the exploitation of less developed nations and an evil that should be apologised for, they will not want to be associated with that history. When the police and the armed forces are reviled, people lose faith in the nation that they represent. When local councils refuse to fly our national flag for fear of insulting minority communities they allow the extremists to adopt it as their own. When the government carves off Scotland, Wales, and Ulster and attempts to break England into regional chunks, is it any surprise people stop thinking of themselves as part of a nation? When we accept the premise that speaking the national language is an optional extra, we allow deep divisions to form within communities until some communities are detached completely.
Flying flags and having a national day is not the answer to the problem. National pride and loyalty cannot be created overnight with a few strokes of a Whitehall pen. It takes belief in the nation state at every level, starting at Number 10. It takes pride in British history and our current place in the world and that pride needs to be communicated, starting at school. It takes an understanding that new the cultures that come with immigration will add to and change British culture, just as they always have, but should not be allowed to run parallel to British culture. Other languages spoken in Britain should be spoken as well as, not instead of English.
Gordon Brown hopes to force a renewed sense of national pride on us, as always he is pursuing a top down solution. We Conservatives should understand that this, like most things, requires a bottom up solution.
National pride, like loyalty and love cannot be demanded, to demand it is to destroy it; it has to be given freely or not at all.
This has bee a personal campaign for IDS for years and the policy group is based around the Centre for Social Justice (IDS’s personal think tank). The CSJ has been working behind the scenes and building up some very strong links with community groups, faith groups and charities.
The meeting gave a number of London Conservatives a real insight into ways in which we can help the real disadvantaged at a local level.
I am going to DC’s speech on social justice tomorrow and I will let you know my thoughts.
16 January, 2006
As I said in my previous post, I think that Catford could do with some better shops and a bit of a clean up but that it is basically a really nice part of London. I will try to improve things after next May.
Whether Simon is gay or not makes absolutely no difference to his ability to do the job, the fact that he is a raving lefty is far more important. The Indi is a left leaning paper so it is particularly ironic that they are indulging in the tabloid style editorial. Leave the guy alone!
As it turns out he says he is not gay, a tactical error in my opinion. While we were guessing he was interesting and mysterious, if he were gay he would come across as urbane and cool. His claim that he has asked lots of women to marry him and has been turned down by all of them just makes him look lonely and a bit sad.
Don't run, you might fall over.
Try not to fall over.
That advice will cost you £200,000 please.
15 January, 2006
The more that I read about this series of events the more I find it hard to believe. Who on Earth thought it a good idea to allow sex offenders to work with children?
This was clearly the question running through Ruth Kelly's mind when pushed for answers by the media, the unfortunate truth was that the answer was that she thought it a good idea. In hindsight it looked less so.
I understand that even people on the sex offenders list have to work and earn, but surely there a other jobs that they cold apply for. If Ruth Kelly felt that her and other ministers' decisions were justified why does she not fight her corner and stick by her own decision. If she thinks that it was a bad idea why did she not make that judgment at the time. The legislative changes and the procedural review have come about because this story has entered the public domain, if it had not would how many sex offenders would be used to fill the teacher recruitment gap?
Ms Kelly has been very clever not to actually lie over this episode, memories of David Blunkett still fresh in the mind, but her initial statement certainly implied that she was not involved and it is only now we find out the truth about this policy. The dishonesty underlying the whole thing is deeply worrying, what else do we not know?
The security breach at Sandhurst was big news at the time but anyone who has been there will know that it is not a 100% secure establishment, it never will be. The grainy long range photos of Prince Harry taken last year by the Sun tell us what we already know, the Royal Family have chosen not to hide behind bullet proof glass. This puts them at a degree of risk, that is what they have chosen.
It is entirely inappropriate for politicians to call for Gen. Richie's head on a plate, it was entirely appropriate for the Prince of Wales to support the General. When dealing with out troops in the field the Government could learn a lesson from him.
14 January, 2006
I will avoid the obvious temptation to draw parallels with the current, self inflicted, plight of the Dept. of Education. Their admissions over the last few days about sex offenders working in schools defies belief.
There is a balance that needs to be made between protecting teachers, scout leaders, cadet instructors etc. from malicious accusations from children and protecting the children themselves. This should be done by investigating the allegations quickly, thoroughly and discreetly. If the allegations prove false then the life of the accused adult can continue unblemished. If the accusations are found to be true that individual should never work with children again.
The current "half way house" is not fair to either the accused of the children.
13 January, 2006
She also said that the Trust needed to find an additional £1.5 million savings from the workforce, the 2006 “Workforce Review” is basically a job cutting exercise, she is expecting to make around thirty “skilled staff who are working hard” redundant.
I don’t blame Ms Perry directly for this situation, as she says in her newsletter, she is being forced into this by the “financial situation both here and in the NHS at large”. These job cuts and ward closures come despite the Governments claim to have ploughed billions of extra money into the NHS. Where has the money gone?
I was born in Lewisham Hospital, as were both my sons. I cannot believe that, despite all their talk about investment, the government is allowing this situation to continue. I have started a petition opposing these closures and job cuts, please join me in campaigning to save facility and jobs at Lewisham Hospital.
The petition will be presented to the Secretary of State for Health, I really hope that I can get cross party support for this, I will keep you all posted.
12 January, 2006
What I find even more sickening is the fact that despite cross party opposition in Northern Ireland the Government tried to push it through. Sinn Fein was the only party to support this plan, funny that!
Peter Hain has decided to drop the provision in the bill and as far as I can see the only reason is that Sinn Fein have withdrawn their support. Did I miss a memo? When was it decided that British security and policy would be dictated by a party so closely affiliated with murders?
Labour get your act together.
They are policy wonks.
Too often policy wonks are very bright, very hard working but ultimately young and inexperienced. This cannot be said of the people that the young and inexperienced David Cameron has working around him on policy ideas, IDS (51), Oliver Letwin (50), Bob Geldof (55), Zack Goldsmith (30, OK one young one) and now the ex head of Spook scrutiny Dame Pauline Neville-Jones (67).
Dame Pauline was chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee so she knows a thing or two about security, terrorism and spying. She and Lord King (105) will be advising on security matters. My motorbike got nicked a few months ago, perhaps I should get them round.
Judging by the following two articles she seems not to be quite so nice, or at least less honest than I thought.
Jan 6th 2006 - Jenny Willott "Why I'm backing Kennedy"
Jan 7th 2006 - Jenny Willott "Kennedy must go"
I hope that somehow I have mis-read, mis-understood or just miss the point of what Jenny was trying to say, because the thought that you have to be two faced to get on in politics is not one that I want to entertain.
11 January, 2006
Those readers who migrated from my original, steam driven, BLOG will know that I was a supporter of David Davis’ campaign, that said I didn’t cry into my soup when DC won. The dramatic effect that he has had on both the party and the coverage of the party since becoming leader would probably not have happened under DD. A large part of this is his willingness, eagerness even, to slaughter some perceived Conservative holy cows.
I don’t agree with every policy that is being put forward, I have written before about my support for a smaller, free university sector and better and wider post A level vocational training. I also feel that parents should be set free from the geographical selection and financial selection that currently hampers the state school sector. And no one has yet explained to me how academic selection is any less fair that any other form of selection.
But despite my differences in this area I support what DC is doing because it is forcing people to listen to what the Conservatives are saying, it is showing people that the party is a practical, diverse and pragmatic party that is not dyed in the wool. We are not the same as the one-dimensional caricature that Labour tries to paint.
It is interesting that of all the announcements that DC has made since heading the party this is only in this area on which our anonymous guest chooses to comment. What are your thoughts on DC’s commitment to reducing global poverty, environmental issues and greater fairness in employment? What about his desire to get more diversity in the party and amongst MPs? And how about his support for social justice and his drive to increase local power and accountability?
While I will not ever agree with absolutely every policy that DC and his team come out with I like the direction that the party is going and judging from the opinion polls so do a large number of British people.
10 January, 2006
One of the ironies is that the greatest parental demand for a new school is in the North-West of the borough, near Deptford. The greatest demand for a swimming pool is in the centre of the borough, near Ladywell. Yet........
The £4 million spent by Lewisham Council with the Mayor's former employer seems to be giving us a pool where we want a school and a school where we want a pool. If this was a film it would be a comedy, unfortunately the millions of pounds that the Mayor has wasted and the deeply unsatisfactory outcome we are faced with, makes this whole process more of a tragedy.
If Steve Bullock wins in May next year, expect to hear that the pool in Lewisham will be put on permanent hold because we have a nice new pool in Deptford. You can help to stop this from happening, by voting for me.
food, the only thing I'm hunting for, is an outfit that looks good...
See my vest, see my vest, made from real gorilla chest, feel this sweater, there's no better, than authentic Irish setter.
See this hat, 'twas my cat, my evening wear - vampire bat, these white slippers are albino African endangered rhino.
Grizzly bear underwear, turtles' necks, I've got my share, beret
of poodle, on my noodle it shall rest, try my red robin suit, it comes one
breast or two.
See my vest, see my vest, see my vest. Like my loafers? Former
gophers -it was that or skin my chauffeurs, but a greyhound fur tuxedo would
be best, so let's prepare these dogs, Mrs. Potts: Kill two for matching
See my vest, see my vest, oh please, won't you see my
I keep forgetting how much the Yanks love Blair and being in opposition make puts us in a rather difficult position in their eyes. I will keep an eye out for more comment from across the pond, it's quite illuminating.
09 January, 2006
The UN stepped in, half heartedly at first and did little to prevent the decent into anarchy. The troops that they deployed were often poorley trained and ill equiped. The idea that it was best left to African governments to solve African problems was make mockery of when hundreds of UN troops were captured and held hostage by the rebels. Finaly, after far too much procrastination by our Government, the British armed forces were deployed, the results were dramatic and they were swift.
The British Army's ability and willingness to take on the bandits restored faith and helped to reintroduce democracy (of sorts). Now the UN feel that the country has on enough to remove their military presence.
I am happy that Sierra Leone is a place that is safe enough to go back to, I want my wife and children to see what a beautiful country it is and I want them to remember Sierraleonians was the warm, happy friendly people that they are.
I should also mention that the Labour MP, Rachel Squire has also recently passed away, I cannot claim to know much about her but I felt it would be inappropriate to mention Tony Banks and ignore her.
08 January, 2006
I said that by not standing down he had put his party in a difficult position, he has rectified that now. Who the they choose as a new leader will say a lot about the party. I hope the choose wisely, I bet they won't.
06 January, 2006
From the details in the story he is based with the Royal Engineers in Catford. There is a long running history of sibling rivalry between the Royal Artillery (the Gunners) and the Royal Engineers (the Sappers), I will put my petty rivalries away for the moment and wish them all well done.
He has done two things at once which take courage. Firstly he had admitted to having problem with drink, then he challenged his critics within the party to put up or shut up. Well done.
But, looking a little deeper the these actions look increasingly less courageous. It turns out that 11 Lib Dem MPs had started the process of kicking him out and that his drinking problems were going to be made public by his former press secretary. The very well informed Iain Dale scooped the story here.
So did he jump before he was pushed? It seems so.
I have seen the result of alcohol addiction at first had and I wish him all the best at fighting it but I feel that it counts him out of being a credible political leader. I think that deep down he probably knows this which is why he has consistently hidden this problem and lied about it to the media.
Where the Lib Dems go now and who they choose will be very important to them. CK not standing down actually has actually put their party in a very difficult position. A number of their brightest and best have said that they will not stand against him, this means that CK has a good chance of winning the leadership even though I feel it would be inappropriate for him to continue as leader. The best thing for Charlie to do is to stand down and give the members a fair choice.
If you think that I am being partisan then think on this. A Lib Dem party lead by CK would continue to be in effective and weak, something a number of Conservative hope will happen. If someone like Simon Hughes get the job the party will be torn apart as many members do not like his particular brand of vitriolic and condescending politics, again good news for us.
The Lib Dems will do best under a sensible moderate like Cable, Oaten or Campbell.
04 January, 2006
Avoiding the obvious Mrs Slocombe style, innuendo laced joke, I love the naff/kitsch/cool Catford Cat. I don't remember when it was put up but it has always been in my memory. I spent my early years just around the corner in Canadian Avenue and the Cat was almost a beacon to me.
The rest of Catford isn't bad either, admittedly it could do with some better shops and less traffic but that can be sorted, not having a cinema or dog track is hardly the kiss of death either.
Have a look at google earth and you will see just how much green space there is around Catford and never mind the Great Wall of China you can see the Cat from space.
I also had a quick look at Ontario and with the exception of a few golf courses there is almost no open spaces. No parks, few gardens just lots of tightly packed houses. Give me Catford every time.
It's all gone a bit quiet on the listening from. Did they get bored of listening? Did they hear things that they didn't want to hear? Did you get any feedback? Who knows?
Not to be out done, Lewisham Council (the Mayor) want you to tell all, in a remarkably well hidden corner of the Lewisham Council website is the forum page. Sign up, log on and mouth off.
As a party we did get a slating over our immigration and asylum policies going into the last election. This, unfortunately, overshadowed the complete and utter shambles that this department is in. As a country we seem unwilling or unable to filter new entrants to the UK, to embrace those who deserve to be here and refuse those that do not.
The Labour government's policy seems to be, let everyone in and either intern or shoot anyone that you don't like the look of. If you think that tough border controls are unpalatable remember the alternative could be half a dozen bullets in the back of the head or sex with a civil servant in Croydon.
Bullets for me please!
Now I am a big bloke and having been in the army for a while I can look after myself be but I wouldn't expect to do so outside an polling station. It seems that pugalist skills are needed if you want to be a Tory in Romford.
I know Romford quite well (half of my old battery is based there) and having met Andrew Rosindel a few times it would have been an obvious place for me to help out during the election campaign, had I not stood myself. It seems that I might have been needed as a bouncer.
The really worrying thing about this seemingly unprovoked attack was that it came from a Labour party activist. Is it just me or does this seem to be party of a pattern of casual violence perpetrated by Labour party helpers? Surely not!
All the back stabbers seem to be blaming him for the failure of their party to win more seats, the problem is not him (well not just him), the problem is their party. There is a very real and wide split within the Lib Dems, the old Liberals and the old SDPs.
They are a gulf apart and their party conference in the Autumn of last year showed the split for all to see. It wasn't much of a problem when they were small enough to hind behind purely local messages but now that they hope to be a truly national party they need to put some unified policies across. The trouble is that they can't.
Being a party of protest only policies condemns them to perpetual third party status. Pity really because there are lots of Liberals who I get on very well with.
We spent new year's day itself down in Sussex with Susie's family and had a pub lunch. The Ash Forest Morrismen came to the pub and did a very lively runthrough of traditional morris dancing. I took some photos but I can't find my card reader, so here are some I have poached from the web. This isn't the kind of thing that you would catch me doing on the 1st of January but once the cynical titters are out of the way I had to admit that it was quite good fun to watch.
The great thing about these guys is that they take what they are doing seriously but don't seem to take themselves too seriously. Not a bad new years resolution.
03 January, 2006
Having kids is great fun, very hard work, but great fun. I managed to lumber not only two children but also a puppy on my wife while I spent every hour that God sent campaigning during the last General Election. Not something that I would recommend to anyone.