Monday, May 24, 2010

The fifth birthday of this blog


I’ve just discovered that I was too busy getting engrossed in our exciting election results to notice my blog’s fifth birthday on the 8th of May. This response to an Illustration Friday
challenge to create a picture on the theme of ‘Mischief’ was what started it all.
On that day I said:

This week's illustration theme reminded me of an incident when my daughter Flo was a little girl. I think the picture tells the story. I did in fact need to use my two year old toddler Xavier as the model as Flo is now fifteen and applies her own lipstick impeccably. I hope you like it, I've had fun producing it.
Since then so much has happened, I've made so many blogging friends on the way. I did my ‘One Mile from Home’ year long challenge. My art and sketching improved. I had an exhibition in my house. I started my Family Portrait blog. I made friends as far away as Australia and as close as London who met up with me in Sandridge. Dear Cindy Woods, who commented on my first post, and who I admired so much for her art and her humanity passed away. And the model for this picture is now seven years old and Flo is all grown up, twenty years old and at university.
Anyway thank you all you visitors, lurkers, commenters and friends. It’s been fun.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The taste of summer

Pepper, chillies and tomatoes – a splash of red on the work surface.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sketching in the rain

This demonstrates the truth of the urban sketch. Even though the horse chestnut tree I had stood under to sketch this gem of a Victorian school building, had initially done a pretty good job of being an umbrella from the rain, in the end the rain proved too much. So my blurred, be-spattered watercolour tells you something about the downpour we had in St Albans this afternoon.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In praise of the pencil

Twenty pence will buy you this cool, responsive, flexible, portable piece of art equipment. There aren't many hobbies that are so cheap to embark on.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Watching unfolding events

I have the election coverage open in another window on my desk top as I post this and type out invoices. Whatever way it goes, it must be the most exciting job being a political journalist today. They’re second-guessing smiling Tories and packed bags at the back of 10 Downing Street, at the moment.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Will we get fair voting?

Ever since studying British Government at school I’ve been appalled at the patent unfairness of our first-past-the-post system, which means that some voters are permanently disenfranchised. So here’s hoping that these ads in the Times and the Guardian have done their bit to remind Nick Clegg that this is a once in a lifetime chance to insist on a referendum for a fairer voting system.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Act now, if you think first past the post voting is unfair

The pressure group 38 Degrees has just has started a new campaign to raise money for newspaper adverts tomorrow calling for proportional representation.

The message of the adverts will be: "Nick Clegg, don't sell out on PR – fair votes now!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Not hiding behind the settee… yet

Xavier entranced by Doctor Who.

Friday, May 07, 2010

The end of my career as a psephologist

In my previous post I couldn’t have been more wrong. Despite my admiration for Roma Mills, I should have joined in supporting the idea that only the Lib Dems could unseat Tory, Ann Main. People are waking up to the discovery that getting predictions utterly wrong seems to be the order of the day in this election.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Who to vote for in St Albans?

First of all apologies to those who are used to coming here for sketches, but it’s election day today and sometimes I feel the urge to indulge myself by spouting my opinions. Normal service will resume after today.

In Sandridge we’re in a very dull constituency – Hitchin and Harpenden. No matter how you vote, the Conservative candidate Peter Lilley, will undoubtedly win, so although I absolutely believe it’s my duty to vote I know that my vote is not worth much because it will have little effect on the outcome.

Voters in the next door constituency of St Albans have a much more interesting and important choice to make. It really is a three-way fight. The Conservatives had a slim majority at the last election. And one would have thought that a backlash against the Labour government would mean that the Conservative candidate Ann Main would retain her seat.

However, reading the local papers I get the impression that there may be a significant number of people in the constituency who do not feel that she was sufficiently rapped over the knuckles over her (relatively small) part in the expenses scandal. So I think that there may be a number of people who voted for her in the last election, who won’t be voting for her this time. Those who previously voted for the Conservative candidate who want to punish her (for claiming expenses for a flat in the constituency which her daughter lived in – despite owning a house within commuting distance), are probably unlikely to transfer their vote to the Labour candidate. So it probably will be mainly the Lib Dems who will benefit from these voters changing their allegiance.

For those who want anything rather than the Conservative candidate it’s a difficult choice. The Lib Dems claim that the only way of unseating Ann Main is to vote tactically for the Liberal Democrat candidate, Sandy Walkington. I find this difficult to understand as the Labour candidate won 34.3% of the vote in the last election as opposed to the Lib Dem’s 25.4% of the vote. However I suppose if you add up a nationwide swing away from Labour, together with local dissatisfaction with the Conservative candidate it may be that the percentage support for the Lib Dem candidate and the Labour candidate may be closer than it was at the last election.

What I do know is that unseating the Conservative candidate probably means Lib Dem and Labour supporters need to vote for the same candidate. And it really isn’t clear which way to jump if you’re prepared to vote tactically.

I’m not very familiar with the Lib Dem candidate Sandy Walkington apart from reading the papers and what I can find on the internet. From what I can see there doesn’t seem to be anything to dislike, despite the Tories desperately trying to make political gains from his ‘mongrel nation’ comments. See the video here to see that the man is being unfairly vilified.

I have met Roma Mills, the Labour candidate, through our children going to the same after-school classes. I know that she has worked indefatigably for St Albans as a councillor and a volunteer. She’s also had life experiences (four children, two with a disability, divorce and sudden widowhood) which mean that she has a real empathy for people who have difficulties in their lives. Regardless of which political party one supports nationally, I’m sure that Roma Mills would make a hard-working, conscientious and good MP.

If I was still living in the constituency I would probably vote for Roma Mills, because I’m unconvinced by the Lib Dem claims that they are the only party that can take the seat from Ann Main. But also because, party politics aside, Roma’s record of decent hard work on behalf of the people of St Albans shows how well she would perform given the opportunity. But ultimately it’s because deep down I feel unease about tactical voting. So if you’re a St Albans voter and still undecided you could always ask what would Jesus (or Mohammed or whoever else rocks your boat) do?

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Axe and Compasses pub

My husband has a weakness for the amateur, shambolic and down-market which delight and charm him. Me? I tend to find them depressing and soul-destroying, so even though I had suggested a visit to beautiful Saffron Walden and palatial Audley End House, we ended up at a privately owned toy museum/dinosaur ‘experience’ nearby, which was right up his street. On the way home we did, however, stop for a break in the beautiful little village of Arkesden, thatched cottages, stream running through the village, village church and the Axe and Compasses pub. So both of us enjoyed a bit of what we liked.