The Fight For Beauty

It’s almost a year since I last posted, idly thinking that retirement might bring more time for he odd bit of writing. I don’t pretend to be a great scribe, and I am naturally lazy, re it was never going to happen that often. I enjoy reading more than the act of writing and it is reading that has brought me back.

The sister of a dear friend from schooldays has achieved great things in her life – and I am sure has more to offer. We all knew she would, always a special person wise and insightful beyond her years, the second of five talented sisters. Finally she has found time to write a book and, like many first books, it has an element of autobiography but that is not its point.

Dame Fiona Reynolds has dedicated her life to the good stuff that surrounds us through her work with the National Parks, CPRE and the National Trust as a volunteer, worker and leader. It is this personal history that is the backdrop to The Fight For Beauty as Fiona looks back over the way our country’s history has played its part in the shaping of our landscape and how the future can positively contribute. It is not a case for or against the past or the future but a carefully thought through discussion of the role of beauty in Development. For me, and friends will not be surprised,  the most important point being that our leaders’ current obsession with economics, profit and marketisation is potentially to the detriment of beauty. We have, as a result, become almost afraid to value beauty and the impact on the physical and mental health (and wealth) of our country is at stake. We need places to just ‘be’.

A heron on the banks of the canal near Natwich

I chose to read the book whilst holidaying on the Llangollen and Shropshire Union canals around Chester and Nantwich. A perfect setting that showed how manmade and natural beauty can come together to ease the body and mind directly demonstrating the really important stuff of life. Yes, we need homes, transport infrastructure, hospitals, schools, workplaces and shops but but we also need green spaces – breathing spaces.

Fiona makes the case far better than I so have a good read of the book; it is well written so it is not hard going, her clarity makes the points gently and firmly.

The Fight For Beauty is published by One World and is available from all manner of book retailers.




Moving on

IMG_0472Who knows, I might find more time to write now that I have retired from academia.

I am not sure how I will fill my  time now, I want to draw breath until at least the end of the year then see what is missing from my life.  In the meantime increased dog walking, pilates and sewing will certainly be a start. I know a certain individual who will be happy.

Recently I was invited to write a couple of items for other blogs so for now you will just have to make do with links to those.

Say hello and wave goodbye!

So why do we need to Big Up the NHS?

So why do we need to Big Up the NHS?

This is a really great idea and I hope it will inspire others… The NHS is by no means perfect but it is much better than what we could be faced with through privatisation by stealth – you only have to look at adult social care for the evidence of how damaging it could be. Read on, join in and save our wonderful public services…

Big Up the NHS

Let me start by being very clear – I don’t believe the NHS is perfect. As part of my job I see all the complaints for my hospital and they are heart-breaking. There is no doubt that some patients receive poor treatment, that staff can sometimes be uncaring and that on occasions things can go very wrong. I know that the NHS complaints process is clunky and ineffective and that it often leaves patients and relatives more distressed than when they started. I accept that we find it difficult to learn from our mistakes and that whistle-blowers can get a rough deal.

Yet the NHS has a lot to commend it. It is the only health service in the world that is completely free at the point of need without any reference to financial means. Our outcomes are world class though we spend much less per head than most equivalent…

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Undermining Democracy? PCC Elections

It never ceases to amaze me just how out of touch with real people this Government is and furthermore how Theresa May and her Home Office acolytes continue to ride rough shod over sound advice from established and credible organisations. The latest turn of events is not about privatising our Police but relates to ignoring advice from the Electoral Commission about how to conduct the Police and Crime Commissioner elections due to be held 15th November 2012. The Home Office have decided to completely disenfranchise large numbers of the electorate and further damage confidence in democracy in this country. They have decided that the electorate do not need to know about the individual candidates standing for election as Police Commissioners they only need to know the election is taking place and how to vote. An information booklet will be sent to every household and the Home Office will mount a multi media campaign about the elections. However, contrary to the advice given by the Electoral Commission to the Government, none of this will contain information about the individual candidates standing for election in each area. The Home Office believes that the electorate can all use the internet to find out about the candidates by visiting the web pages they have each created. They are happy for candidates to spend up to £100,000 on an election campaign but they are not funding any information to go to every household as has been the practice in government elections. They have however launched an advertising campaign to persuade us to vote TV advert

Only candidates with a robust party political machine or significant funding from other sponsors behind them stand any chance of putting their case to every household in the area. What has happened to British democracy when we find ourselves in a situation where the votes can only be won by those with the greatest resources and people can buy public office? When did we suddenly become little America?   This only serves to further convince me that the Police Commissioner should be free from party politics and sponsorship by wealthy individuals and private concerns. I am probably as concerned about some of the independent candidates throwing their hats into the ring. I have repeatedly asked, as have other people in Lincolnshire, one of the candidates – Mervyn Barrett OBE – how he is managing to fund his campaign which includes checking into the best hotel in town and leaflets for every household. Allegedly  he has the support of major donors but he is very coy when it comes  to identifying those donors. Such secrecy does not give me any real faith or trust in this candidate I  have come to the conclusion that I will use my vote for a truly independent candidate 15th November. David Bowles has an excellent track record of standing up to party politicians and fighting for what is right for Lincolnshire.  He is self funding and relying on support ‘in kind’ from friends, family and former colleagues. Take a look at his website Vote David Bowles

I had to ‘Share This’

When a book has the title Share This I guess the only thing to do is to share it. Once again the CIPR have come up with a handbook for PR Professionals that is easy to digest and full of little nuggets of information. I shall certainly add it to me list of useful reads for the students at the University of Lincoln. Once again i find myself waving my Stephen Waddington fan club banner as he has to take credit as the editor. Continue reading

And the gold medal for band wagon racing goes to….

As the closing ceremony approaches you can hear the sound of politicians hitching a ride on the sporting bandwagons that were inevitable after such a successful Olympic Games. I take my hat off to the folks who have made the London 2012 games a success to douse  our British pessimism. It has been a triumph of planning and delivery on every level, apart from when the public sector had to bail out the private security operators  G4S. Even a ‘sportsphobe’ like me has been gripped by the action on the lakes and sea, in the pool, on the track, on the fields, in the ring and at the velodrome  – still can’t be doing with the horsey stuff though! Continue reading

When branding damages reputation – London 2012 ‘inspire a generation’?

So, today, the BBC news team have moved from Salford back to London for the duration of the Olympics. I sincerely hope all goes well and there are no unpleasant incidents of any kind. We have seen the Olympic torch make its way around the country in some vain attempt to make us all feel part of London 2012, regardless of where in GB we reside. Tonight it will make its way across the set of Eastenders which for me trivialises the whole pageant, but hey I am not a fan and easily made grumpy! Continue reading