Adventures of Frangipan

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


I visited Dad today while having his first chemotherapy session. He seems OK.

The most annoying thing is that people have found out who we haven't told. And rather than keep it to themselves, they have phoned people close to us to find out if it's true.

Now I appreciate that blogging about this where I am not anonymous makes it look as though this is not a private matter. But I want to be clear that, among other things, this blog is my way of getting stuff off my chest that I feel I can't talk to people about.

I appreciate that I can't stop people I know from reading my blog, and I'm not saying I want to. But I would hope that people could use their discretion about what they do and do not share with others. If I wanted it to be public knowledge, I would've used facebook to share it.

So if you know me and you read the post about Dad, please keep it to yourself. It is not idle gossip. If we know you and we want you to know our business, we'll tell you in person.

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Monday, 28 November 2011

Block tar sands oil, not the FQD

Once again, the government proves itself to be untrustworthy. Cameron stated that he wanted this to be the greenest government ever (or something to that effect). But apparently all it takes is the Canadians pushing hard for tar sands oil to change all that.

This article from Greenpeace shows that the UK has done a 180-degree turn on their position regarding the EU Fuel Quality Directive (FQD). This proposal would have blocked a lot of tar sands oil; but now the UK has decided to block the FQD proposals.

So the greenest ever UK government is quite OK with importing one of the dirtiest forms of oil, and the greater pollution it will emit: 3 times more than crude oil. The greenest ever UK government is also OK with destroying Canadian forest, homelands of indigenous people, and accelerating climate change.

The greenest ever UK government will be a little off target with emissions reductions.

Write to Nick Clegg to tell him to sort out the government's green credentials, and to sort out his Transport Minister, Norman Baker.

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A Living Wage

Video from Fair Pay Network about increasing inequality and working poverty in the UK, and the importance of a living wage.

Currently the National Minimum Wage (NMW) is £6.08 per hour for people over 20 years old.  Working a 40-hour week for 52 weeks of the year, this would give a gross annual income of £12,646.40. The Outside London Living Wage set by the Centre for Research in Social Policy is £7.20 per hour, giving a gross annual income of £14,976 under the same circumstances.

In 2010, an estimated 3.5 million employees aged 22 to retirement were paid less than £7 per hour. Incredibly, two-thirds were women and one-third were men; so one in five female employees - and one in ten male employees - were paid less than £7 per hour in the UK. (from The Poverty Site)
The situation of working poverty is worsening with the financial crisis, as wages are frozen (even inflationary rises have been abandoned by many companies) and living costs rise sharply, especially fuel.

You can check out whether you are earning an acceptable amount using the Minimum Income Calculator. Please bear in mind that this is a fairly rough estimate, based on assumptions about you and where you live.

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Friday, 18 November 2011


So to continue the tradition of shit things happening around my birthday, today I found out that my Dad has lung cancer. Only the early stages and not really a surprise (he has smoked since he was 10), but still sucky news. Hopefully this will be a bit of a wake up call for him, as nagging him hadn't been working.

Both of my grandparents had cancer and were operated in the same year. They are both fine and dandy, and the whole thing was quite easy to deal with.

It's going to be a bit different with Dad because he has to have chemotherapy, and I'm not really sure what to expect.

I'm not nervous about him dying because all the medical people involved are quite optimistic. But I am worried about how he'll be affected by the treatment. And that he keeps living the same way.

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Saturday, 12 November 2011


I feel like I really only have one friend at the moment. Maybe 3-4 at a push, but only one that I see and catch up with regularly. If I went out in town I'm sure I'd see plenty of people to talk to, but I'm not sure who I'd go out with!

Good thing I have a job. I don't really class the people in work as 'friends' yet, but we have talked about going out so maybe that'll change.

I'm not trying to make this a sob story, because I know I could make more effort with some people. But there are also others who I feel like I make an effort with, to no avail. I wonder if they don't want to be friends anymore and I'm just not getting the message.

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Sunday, 6 November 2011

Zac Efron

I have a huge crush on Zac Efron, but am not a big fan of his films. Hairspray was pretty damn good, but he was only about 19 in that. I have no interest in sitting through High School Musical (and he was even younger in that). Tonight I watched 17 Again, expecting to have to force myself through an abysmal film. But it was actually OK. In fact I think I could probably sit through it again when I feel the need for another 2 hours of Zac.

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Tuesday, 1 November 2011

FINALLY finished adding all the Horse Drive/Rockies trip from 2008. Check it out: Sept-Oct 2008.

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Robin Hood Tax

Thank you for contacting me on the issue of the Financial Transactions Tax (Robin Hood Tax). I have taken the issue up with the Prime Minister and will get back to you as soon as I receive a response. However, I thought you might be interested in an article written about the issue by my colleague and Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie MP.

Yours sincerely
Chris Ruane MP

Labour’s case for an international financial transactions tax
Labour List article by Chris Leslie MP, Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury
28 October 2011

As next week’s G20 meeting in Cannes grows near, the prospects for a new “Robin Hood” or financial transactions (FTT) tax is growing. Significant voices such as George Soros, Paul Krugman, Joe Stiglitz and Jeffrey Sachs have expressed their support, and Microsoft’s Bill Gates is the latest to argue for the plan.

It is not a new idea. John Maynard Keynes was pressing for an American version 75 years ago and James Tobin proposed a levy on currency transactions 40 years ago. Labour put the proposal on the global agenda when Gordon Brown raised the issue at the G20 summit in 2009. Even George Osborne has had to begrudgingly admit that he has nothing against an FTT “in principle”.

But the British government is letting the side down. Despite George Osborne’s warm words, the reality is that Britain’s Chancellor has effectively ruled out British participation - even before the G20 has even considered the proposal. George Osborne is wrong to imply that he will not press the issue because other major countries remain opposed. He needs to think again.

Our starting point is the proposal Labour put forward in 2009 that all countries agree to work together to establish a tax of a fraction of one percent which could be levied on financial transactions, millions of which happen every day in the City. This would be a tax on the kind of speculative trading carried out by many banks and financial institutions who did the best out of the economy before the global financial crisis and who were bailed out by millions of ordinary tax payers after it.

Labour’s wants to see a Financial Transaction Tax but one that is implemented with the widest possible international agreement. Evidence from Sweden and elsewhere suggests that a single country levying a tax such as this on its own may risk losing business abroad. This is why concerted efforts are needed to broker a deal where any FTT applies in all of the world’s big financial centres, all of whom have much to gain from a new and reliable revenue stream to support jobs, growth and the developing world.  The European Commission’s proposals in September for an EU Financial Transaction Tax fall short of the mark, not least because money raised would be used to simply top up the EU budget.

Whilst there are real barriers to winning this debate on the international stage there is also a real window of opportunity right now to do so. But by suggesting he thinks unanimous agreement at the G20 is not “terribly likely”, George Osborne seems willing to let the matter rest there, giving the impression there is no point even arguing for it.

This weak and defeatist attitude is an abdication of leadership, and a total abandonment of the gains made for this cause at the G20 meeting in 2009. Waiting for unanimity before even engaging with the issue means giving a veto to those who have vested interests in killing off the idea, or letting those with very different goals for the idea than the many millions of campaigners around the world set the  terms of debate and potentially make it harder for Britain ever to join a scheme.

The time has come for Britain to step-up and show the leadership needed to broker a better deal, by being open to the idea that it is possible to win the argument for a different approach. That is why Labour is calling on the government to engage internationally, before we lose the chance to make a change which could make a real difference to the task of rebuilding a strong prosperous and fair global economy following the global financial crisis.

The current game in town is the proposal which France, Germany, the EU Commission and other key G20 nations are pushing for a Financial Transactions tax which would apply only in those countries which wanted to participate – letting those who are currently opposed stay out.

There are real risks with this approach. But because George Osborne is refusing to even discuss this proposal, the UK now risks being condemned to a spectator’s role and we will get the worst of both worlds. It will be harder for Britain to join an FTT in future because we have let others set the rules, and other countries which need persuading of the case for an FTT will go unchallenged.

There is a real battle to be fought not simply against the defenders of the status quo. Real leadership is necessary right now, yet David Cameron and George Osborne risk choosing a passive role and losing control of this agenda. What a great missed opportunity that would be.

-----Original Message-----

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to ask you to support efforts to implement a Financial Transaction Tax amongst a coalition of willing G20 countries when Heads of State and Government meet in Cannes in November.

It is positive to note that the UK Government is not opposed to a Financial Transaction Tax in principle. And your willingness to implement a bank levy and propose regulating the banking sector shows that you understand the real public desire to see the financial sector pay its fair share, and work in the interests of the country as a whole.

I would urge you to therefore work with other world leaders such as the French President and the German Chancellor to make this idea a reality. A tax could be designed that would raise revenue in the UK to be spent by our Treasury on good causes at home and abroad.  It would not have to be global to work, as we have shown with our own existing Stamp Duty on shares – itself a form of Financial Transaction Tax. A group of leading nations, including the UK, could show the way.

It’s time to be bold. While you are at Cannes, please act for those hit worst by the financial crisis. Work with a coalition of other nations to introduce a Financial Transaction Tax.

Yours sincerely,
Francesca Hughes

Send your own message to your MP and the Prime Minister via Robin Hood Tax.

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If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never do anything original

I came across this video after reading a Guardian article on facebook. Despite the negative comments following the article (some of which I agree with), I do agree that there is too much emphasis placed on degrees and higher degrees, and for no real purpose. I will expand on this at some point, but in the meantime, Ken Robinson's speech is quite amusing.

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