May 2010

We Never Had These Under New Labour...

Summer is here (well for today anyway), and this is what just flew through my window.


I think its a hornet, but whatever it is it was bloody MASSIVE (a good two inches long).


I caught it under a glass and then I let it go... and all being well, it will go next door to visit whoever it is that has started learning to play that bloody violin.

The Seed Cathedral

Its not often that a preposterously silly and totally impractical idea become anything beyond a preposterously silly and totally impractical reality, particularly when applied to architecture, but the ‘Seed Cathedral’ (the UK pavilion) at the 2010 Shanghai expo is one that truly does.

Created by UK designer Thomas Heatherwick it is constructed with 60,000 varieties of plant seeds selected from the Kew Gardens’ Millenium Seed Bank collection, encased at the end of 60,000 individual fibre-optic acrylic rods which illuminate the interior by piercing the buildings shell via geometrically cut holes.

The six storey high cube-like structure has a look somewhere between a dandelion (its chinese nickname) and a sea urchin... and its jaw-droppingly beautiful.

You can find more about Heatherwick Studio HERE

and more about the 2010 Shanghai Expo HERE

OK... I’m Bored of All This Moaning Now...

One thing we are all very good at in this country, is moaning about what we don’t like... usually without having much ability to produce a faintly watertight argument for a practical alternative.

The other day, shortly after our (UK) general election, I was watching ‘The Wright Stuff’ on TV and there was Janet Ellis. Now don’t get me wrong, I really like Janet Ellis, after all, it was Janet a few years back who presented me with my Blue Peter badge (although admittedly I wasn’t that young at the time and as I recall it, the negotiations involved some sort of alcoholic beverage), but what Janet was saying was exactly what more than half the country seemed to be saying at the time... and to be honest I’m getting a little bored with it all now.

The gist of the argument tends to go something like this (delete as applicable... particularly if your name is Janet Ellis):

I don’t like the new coalition government.
I particularly don’t like David Cameron being Prime minister.
I don’t like Nick Clegg having a say in running the country when his party got the least amount of seats... or...
I like Nick Clegg, but I don’t like him dealing with the Tories.

The country didn’t vote for the Tories to be in power, the country voted for a hung parliament.
We shouldn’t have to put up with this, we didn’t vote for this, they should just have another general election (which generally is a way of saying I voted Labour and if we go back to the polls, maybe, just maybe they’ll get back in.
Yep... bored now.

Well being frank, this isn’t the outcome I would have ideally liked either, but like many others, given the circumstances I find it hard to say what precise ‘realistic’ outcome I would have preferred.
To put things in context, I can’t really see myself ever voting Tory (although admittedly if it weren’t for them, I possibly wouldn’t be running my own business), New Labour has become stale and complacent (more than two terms in office seems to have that effect on people), they really did cock up a sizable part of this new millennium and in some areas they seem determined to out conservative the Conservatives, and the Liberals, who I feel the most empathy with have some policies which to be honest leave me wincing... and lets face it, we were never going to get a Lib Dem government this time anyway.

But I was watching ‘This Week’ on BBC1 during the week after the election and it seemed to me that of all people, Billy Bragg seemed to be one of the few people on British TV thinking the unthinkable and speaking the unspeakable. I love Billy Bragg, but despite having joined him once on a 1984 march in defence of the miners, I don’t always agree with everything he says, but this time he really did get me thinking.

Lets make it clear, despite what the occasional brainless journalist would have us believe, almost no one in this country actually voted for a hung parliament. Most of us voted for the party who most accurately represented what we believe in (or in some cases the party who best suited our current financial circumstances), but watching the leadership debates on TV, is was eminently apparent that in the UK, the political boundaries have become increasingly blurred and the british political system is not only antiquated, but worse still severely broken.

I know this government will on occasions (probably rather a lot of occasions) make us squirm and I hope against all hope that Gideon George Oliver Osborne doesn’t screw things up too badly, but maybe Billy is onto something, maybe, just maybe we are seeing a glimmer of a fairer, more progressive, more transparent, more inclusive political system.
Lets be honest, none of us actually voted for this; but because of this who knows, next time maybe this country will get the kind of government it has deserved for so long.
Anyway, back to more important issues... where the hell is that Blue Peter badge?