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Yesterday, following the deaths of two young people* stabbed over the weekend, the Prime Minister insisted that there was "no direct correlation between violent knife crime and police  among young people and cuts in funding to police.
  Apparently 'the statistics' show no link.

  Yes, well, you can prove anything with statistics.  (Writes she who did Statistics at 'A' Level more years ago than she's prepared to admit or even calculate.)  But you can.  Seriously.

  What has definitely contributed to the rise in violent knife crime among young people (particularly young men) are several factors:-

    1) Young men.  They're young, they naturally do stupid things.

    2) Young people today are subject to massive peer pressure.

    3) They tend to have very low self-worth; are (mostly) inarticulate and out of touch with their feelings, thus they're more likely to punch (or stab) someone rather than try to discuss things.

    4) Too many young men (or young women) have had no good male role-model in their lives, they don't know how to 'be a man' so are making it up as they go along.  Many unsuccessfully.

    5) Many, if not most, have been let down much of their lives.  They started out in poor circumstances.  Projects which might have helped them, eg: Sure Start and Nurseries, have been cut as part of 'Austerity measures'.  Not to mention family breakdown.

  Cuts have been made to Primary and Secondary schools.  Thus those who would have really benefitted from personal attention so that they could learn to read, or received assessment to determine whether they really did have 'Conditions' or were just lively little boys, didn't.

  If you can't read easily by the end of year 2 you are often scuppered.  Because most forms of education, as prescribed by the National Curriculum, are dependent upon children then being able to read and understand what they are reading — even on computers.  Computer games don't need this, just the ability to make snap decisions and push buttons.

  If you aren't reading easily by the end of year 2 then the temptation is to disengage from the whole school/education system.  Kinda 'I can't do this so I ain't gonna even try' situation.  So people fall even further behind and, sooner or later, fed up with continually 'failing', drop out of school. Once you're out of school, you have hours of time on your hands, cos there's very little else to do, apart from get into trouble.  As the old saying goes, "The devil finds work for idle hands."

  There might once have been other projects to care for the 'education-system disengaged' but they've, mostly, had their funding cut so they aren't there any more.  There are still some projects/activities, run by voluntary organisations, but there aren't enough.

    6) Drugs.  There are too many 'out there' who, for a quick buck (or several million) will sell children not just cannabis (and with Skunk, that isn't as 'soft' as it's been portrayed, if it ever was) but cocaine, heroin and other addictive drugs.  They'll happily use even six-year-olds as runners, taking messages and delivering packages of drugs, as they are 'below the age of Criminal Responsibility'.  If these children also end up as addicts, so much more profit!

    7) Prospects - the lack of them.  Lack of formal education kinda handicaps you when it comes to looking for jobs, not to mention a Criminal Record, or a brain totally 'fried' by drug abuse.  Always assuming that there are jobs available in the areas in which the lads live.

    8) Government - seriously.  Most of the cuts due to Austerity have fallen upon the poorest.  Those least able to cope or have the resources to 'bounce back'.  Housing, Education, Health Care, Social Services, Universal Credit (!), among others, have all had their budgets cut massively over the past ten years.  Most of these cuts have impacted the poor the worst.  The Government has been systematically taking from the poor and, effectively, writing them off.

    9) Children themselves.  Children just naturally do silly things.  That's why they need involved parents, wider family and the wider community — to show them how to behave responsibly, to model adult behaviour (which is about so much more than sex!)
It's said it takes a whole village to raise a child.  Time the 'rest of the village', ie: us, got back into being involved?

  There are probably more Reasons.  The whole thing is complicated and cannot be solved by suddenly throwing a few (thousand) £s at it over a period and in the run-up to a General Election (2020, anyone?)  Having taken years to get to this situation, it's going to take years of commitment to sort.

  Thus a whole generation of inner city boys** has grown up not realising that things could be different, that they are 'worthwhile people', that they actually have choices, that they don't have to go into drugs or gangs or end up dead before 25.  Yes, they do have a choice, but so often it needs to be pointed out.

  In the name of Tax cuts, Austerity, etc, we have sown the wind.  The whirlwind is beginning.


  On which cheerful note . . . this being Shrove Tuesday, aka Pancake Day, it's Ash Wednesday tomorrow, the start of Lent.  As usual I shall be giving up blogging to concentrate more on God.  Cos the whole point of giving things up for Lent, is that you use the time you'd otherwise waste spend concentrating on God and helping other people.  See you after Easter, Dear Reader!




  *Not that I am at all cynical (or at least I try not to be) but the two stabbed over last weekend, and reported, were both white.  So far most of the stabbings reported have been (and still are) of black youths by black youths.  And you think there isn't a problem with Racism in the UK?


  **Not that it's just inner city boys.  An awful lot of young people, girls as well as boys, seem to be in some form of 'crisis' or another.  Maybe it's because it's only the 'crisis' stories that get reported.  Maybe it's the increase in family breakdown.  Maybe it's because adolescence tends to be a particularly angst-ridden period.  Or maybe things really are worse for young people these days.  Whatever, are we going to ruin and write off a whole generation?  Or stand by silent while the Government does it for us?
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
angry angry
Current Music:
Land of Hope and Glory - Elgar (ironically, I think)
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It's been amazingly warm recently.  Apparently today saw highs of nearly 20°C in parts of Wales, with sunshine!  Bearing in mind Wales is more likely to be about horizontal rain, at any time of year, this is indeed something.  Furthermore, this time last year we were all battening down for The Beast From the East, or they were trying to make us, even down here on the South Coast.

  The BBC were then showing programmes about the winter of 1962-63, which H and I remember (when we were six!  The snow was a lot deeper when we were six!)  Actually, Dear Reader, it was.  Those of us old enough to remember The Winter of '63, even if we were six at the time, remember that it went on for months.  TBFTE, Marks I and II both lasted just a week each, at most.  Well, round here they did.  I gather Cumbria got it rather deeper and crisper and a lot less even.  Though for nowhere near as long as in The Winter of '63.

  Anyhew, Saturday being sunny, and not having to be back for anything (apart from bedtime) we duly headed off to the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and Arboretum - train to Romsey, coffee in the Coffee Cup (out in the back yard in the sun.  In February you can't get too much sun, though, apparently, you can get a red nose!)

Out and AboutCollapse )
  Yes, H took photos.  They are very nice photos.  No, I'm hoping to go back to bed soon so as not to be too 'dead' for Tuesday, so I'm not going to faff about with them.  Try the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and Arboretum website, or Instagram.

  Y'all have a good day now!



  *Song from "Pirates of Penzance", "How beautifully blue the sky/ the glass is rising very high/And yet I think that, by and by/that we shall have a warm July."  Sung by the female chorus as Frederick (tenor lead) makes conversation with the Lead Soprano.  
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
sleepy - at long last!
Current Music:
How Beautifully Blue The Sky - W S Gilbert
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Apparently a commuter used the time which might otherwise have been wasted by trains not showing, or otherwise delayed, productively last year. A Frau Weber knitted a scarf with different coloured stripes to reflect the length of each delay.
   
  Apparently Social Media posts about the  scarf (and, presumably, the lack of progress of her commute) drew a lot of attention this month.  Dread to think how long a delay the red 'stripe' represented!

  This was on the Deutsche Bahn, a German railway.  Where, apparently, only three-quarters of long distance trains arrived on time last year.  Dear me, I thought the German railways ran to timetable, rather than to calendar like some UK 'services'.  Maybe the clockwork wound down and they couldn't find the key?

  Either way, Deutsche Bahn bought the scarf in an auction and the money was donated to a charity for the homeless.  DB also announced last week plans to employ another 22,000 staff.  So maybe by the time they have actually employed and trained them, and the new staff are finally used to their posts and responsibilities, it'll be well on to Autumn.  Maybe the Knitting Commuter should start another scarf, for comparison purposes?

  Hmmm, wonder what scarves for various commuter lines in the UK might look like.  Or, for that matter, given the amount of overcrowding on lines into London, whether there would be sufficient room to knit.  Even with a short circular needle!

  'K, 's'time to chase dust.

  Y'all have a good day now!




  * from Isaac Watts' poem "How Doth the Little Busy Bee/Improve the Shining Hour"

 

Which was parodied, as were so many 'Improving' Victorian Poems for Children, by Lewis Carrol in Alice in Wonderland as "How Doth the Little Crocodile"
Current Location:
As usual
Current Mood:
amused - I wasn't travelling on the delayed trains
Current Music:
Nessum Dorma - Puccini
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You can do it according to the films, you know, 'eyes across a crowded room' and other assorted clichés.

  Or you could try being somewhat more selective.  Though I wouldn't necessarily recommend the method employed by American entrepreneur Ed Conard.  In his favour, he did at least put some thought into the matter.

  Too many people seem to think 'falling in love' will just happen.  When they meet the 'right one' they'll somehow 'know'.  Umm, not necessarily.  And the 'moon and June and other things ending 'oon'' phase is precisely that.  A phase.  You start off with the swooping stomachs and birds singing all the time.  Eventually that passes, the human frame can't sustain it.  It's possible to become addicted to that phase. To think that because the your stomach no longer flips when you see the Other Person that you no longer love them.  Get used to the idea, Dear Reader.  'In Love' is a phase.  It passes.  Treated right, with the right person, knowing them, it can turn into Love Which Lasts.  After all, how d'you think so many arranged marriages have turned out so successful and stable?

  H and I knew each other for a good three years before we ever did anything romantic.  Point I'm trying to make is that we knew each other a bit at least.  We were both Christians (we met at the university Christian Union) so we had the same basic motivations and beliefs.  Do not underestimate the importance shared beliefs and ideas - in matters of faith, or life generally.

  We'd met each other's families, so we each knew what kind of background the other came from.  We'd had a brief glimpse of their parents' marriages and had a vague idea of what each other's expectations of marriage might be.  Because you either get your expectations of how wives/husbands interract from you parents' relationship, or you get it from films (and Hollywood is pretty quiet on films about long-term, lasting relationships.)

  TV 'dramas' aren't much better.  In fact if anything they can be worse.  A Drama is, by definition, a series of emotionally charged events.  Life is, generally, more humdrum.  And 'humdrum' in itself is no bad thing.  There's a lot to be said for things routinely running to a timetable - wish the railway companies thought the same.  There is much to be said for a 'quiet life', where you can get on with things.

  I mean, Dramas are all very well, but would you really want to live in one.  Every day?  I know I wouldn't.  There is a lot to be said for someone who comes home every evening and sits with you for a while.  Specially when they tell you that they love you, verbally, as well as doing the washing up, occasionally, and putting out the rubbish on bin-emptying days, also making kefir and praying when your voice just ain't up to it!

  Mind you, the occasional card or bunch of flowers or even trip to a local Nursery (plant kind) to pick out something for the garden doesn't come amiss either.

  Happy Valentine's Day H, and y'all 'out there'.  Remember, no one is better than the Wrong One, and putting in a bit of thought and effort before deciding on 'The One' can save a whole lot of heartache further down the line.  Divorce doesn't have to be a 'normal' part of marriage - though 42% UK marriages and 50% American marriages currently end in it.

  'K, nuff.  Off to raid the market in the sunshine.
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
loved loved
Current Music:
Chanson d'Amour - Elgar
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One of the 'difficulties' with enjoying a cup of freshly-ground coffee is that first you have to grind the stuff.  Get me and my 'First World' 'problems'!

  In search of a decent grinder, H found a Japanese model, complete with instructions in Japanese - yay the Intarwebs, which have not only translations but descriptions in English from other users!  It's a neat little glass jar (which I'm hoping is non-fragile glass) topped with grinder/hopper/grinding lever.  It's a hand-grinder.  That way you can grind the coffee without heating it up, thus preserving volatile oils.  Grinding two cups-worth of beans takes a lot less than five minutes (unless it's a particularly hard-roasted bean!)

  Various (male) coffee-lovers have produced YouTube videos of How You Can Attatch An Electric Drill And Grind Your Coffee In Seconds, thus demonstrating a male propensity for missing the point entirely!

  As I can no longer run upstairs (my poor knees) I find hand-grinding coffee a useful bit of 'Body Magic' (sounds better than 'exercise') which keeps my arm muscles toned.  Far easier than press ups too!  Just keep swapping arms.

  I put the caffitiere on the draining board last week.  It didn't like it and jumped.  Alas a layer of cork tiles topped with cushion-floor vinyl wasn't sufficient.  The glass beaker shattered.  I think I got all the fragments/shards as well as all the damp grounds.

  Saturday's outing was to the Hard, where we got bowled along the harbour edge (and boy, was it blowing!)  We stopped off at Canteen in the Hot Walls for a delicious lunch, then decided that we weren't going to risk being blown along the Front, not even downwind, and instead blew across the Common to Palmerstone Rd.  Here H wandered into Knight and Lee (while it's still there) to get a replacement beaker.

  Then we repaired to Southsea Coffee for peppermint tea/coffee and cake.  Also to warm up after all that wind-blowing.  Actually, the wind off Southsea can't have been that bad, the Hovercraft was still 'flying', direct across to Ryde.  That's one of the first things to stop when the wind really gets up.  Maybe they have more powerful engines these days, although we noticed it turning head-to-wind and travelling sideways at a couple of points in the trip!  Good thing, that hovercraft.  Did you know it's the only one operating in the UK now, Dear Reader.  What's more, unlike the foot-passenger ferry, it actually takes you to Ryde.  The foot-passenger ferry drops you half a mile out into the Solent at Ryde pierhead, whence you have to either walk, or purchase a ticket for the rattly ex-Underground stock which runs on the Island Line.  This makes for an Expensive Crossing.  You haz been warned!

  Anyhew, having exercised my biceps and triceps, I think the kettle may have cooled sufficiently to make a decent cup of coffee.

  BTW - by dint of staying up late last Friday and Saturday I finally finished the Year of the Pig socks, all three pairs.  Alas it was too late to photograph them.  The recipients love them!  One day I shall learn the correct Chinese (Mandarin) words for 'Happy New Year'.  Until then . . .

  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
amused amused
Current Music:
Piano Concerto no 1 in Bb minor (1) - Tchaikovsky
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One of the stories in the News today is that the Government has decided to cancel the contract it had awarded to a 'Ferry Company' which had just been set up and had no actual ferries, Seabourne Freight.  Yay!

Spending _Our_ MoneyCollapse )

  Last year an ex-serviceman died in Portsmouth.  Apparently there were no relatives or friends traceable so various ex-service charities rallied round and turned up, in force, for his funeral.

Visit Me Now, PleaseCollapse )

  Come my funeral I don't know how many might turn out, if any.  I do know one thing though - if you haven't bothered yourself to buy me even the odd bunch of daffs over the years, don't you dare turn up with, or send, some 'floral tribute'.  Price up something if you like, then send the money to either the Bible Society or Tearfund and do something useful with it!

  Y'all have a good, and caring, day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
thoughtful thoughtful
Current Music:
Piano Concerto no.2 (3) - Tchaikovsky
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Have  you heard, Dear Reader?  The other day Donald Tusk (official and spokesperson for the EU) said that he wondered what the special corner in Hell has been reserved for those who led the UK into Brexit 'without the shred of a plan'.

Did Anyone Even Think Anything Through?Collapse )

Y'all have a good day now!





  *  Hah!  If the Home Office bothered to get it's act together it already has 'control of our borders'.  The fact that it hasn't, and has been persistently underfunded for a decade, makes matters worse.

  And a lot of EU legislation has been good - employment law, f'rinstance.  Also the environment protection stuff - UK versions of which are, apparently, set to go through parliament in the spring.  Of course various Big Businesses and Irresponsible Businesses will be only to keen to have any environment protection legislation weakened.  Specially the bits where agencies are given the teeth to go after polluters and not only make them clean up their spills and acts but charge them huge fines too.
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
Amazed!
Current Music:
Ninth Symphony (4) - Beethoven
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After much promising/threatening by the Met Office and other assorted meteorologists (why, Dear Reader, does that word make it sound as if they study meteors, not the weather?) we actually had some snow last week.  Well, it had been chilly enough, even here on the sunny South Coast, for the previous two weeks at least.  Eventually it'll get warm enough at night that I shan't need to wear two pairs of pyjamas, but that might not be for a while yet.  'Tis only February after all.

SnowCollapse )

  In other news - H started coughing, explosively, Thursday evening.  He ended up spending the night on the sofa, mostly upright.  He went into work Friday - to infect them all, I suppose.  Friday night he spent on the sofa too.  Friday I'd been developing a bit of a cough, Saturday I had aching joints.  Flu.  But as Saturday was bright sunshine all day I did two loads of washing and even managed to peg out one load.  That wiped me out.  Fortunately H was up to pegging out the other load later that day, and getting it all back in before dark.

And FluCollapse )

  Of course, having snowed, the wind direction has changed and we're now getting a warmer air flow (11-13°C) so it's raining.  Poo!  I still have washing needing doing and drying.  Otherwise, as S sometimes says, 'Life is good.'

  Y'all have a good and flu-free day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
amused amused
Current Music:
the fridge humming, clearly doesn't know the words
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Not only is January nearly over, but today is the 150th anniversary of the Periodic Table of Elements.  Remember your Science lessons?

  I know the Table has been extended quite a bit in the past 150 years.  It's been extended considerably since I was at school, mostly in the 'short-lived, quick-decaying, radioactive, elements' department.

  So let's all raise a glass to Dobereiner, Newland, Mendeleev, and all the others who realised not only was there order among elements but developed the whole system of classification.

  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
cheerful cheerful
Current Music:
Hydrogen and Helium, Lithium, Beryllium
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It's said to be good for the soul, so here goes.

New Year, Chinese styleCollapse )

  The only downside of today was that while I was out the Postie tried to deliver a parcel.  It wouldn't fit through the letterbox.  He took no notice at all of the comprehensive and very clear-to-read 'If I am not in' instructions either on the parcel or on the front door, stuck one of those red and white 'Something for you' cards through the letterbox and took the parcel back to the depot.

  Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!

  So I fought with the Royal Mail 'Book a Redelivery' system.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!  It will be redelivered next Monday.  I don't have any other day before then when I can guarantee to be in between 11am and 3pm, which is kinda the range of times they decide to turn up.

  Usually it's about five to thirty minutes after I've gone out.  I went out shortly before midday.  Postie tried to deliver 12.15pm....

  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

  I want to move house to a house that has somewhere parcels can be left safely if I'm not in when the postman deigns to knock!  (Among other reasons.)

  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
creative creative
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