West Yorkshire band Embrace have been chosen to record the official England World Cup anthem, “World at Your Feet”. They follow in the footsteps of Baddiel and Skinner and New Order, who have both recorded World Cup songs in the past. According to the band’s lead singer, they can’t wait to get into the studio and record the new track. Good luck to them!
Tony Blair has finally come to the same conclusion as the majority of people in this country. He’s been Prime Minister for long enough and it’s time to go! Mr Blair is facing increasing pressure to name the day when he will be leaving No. 10 (Downing Street), after announcing in Australia that he will not be standing at the next General Election. Even the bookies are taking bets on when that day will come. Many British people feel let down that Mr Blair chose to make the announcement of his departure on the other side of the world (in Australia) and not here in England to those who voted for him. Apparently Mr Blair is regretting his announcement already as this has weakened his party leadership even more, although he has pledged to “fix” the NHS before he quits. That’ll be the day! If Mr Blair wants any help packing up his belongings, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of willing volunteers out there to help him on his way!
According to a recent survey, more than 65% of the British public have trouble sleeping, with many averaging only 5 hours sleep a night. Is it any wonder with the current state of things in this country? The majority of people are probably losing sleep worrying over how they’re going to keep a roof over their heads with the soaring costs of both council tax and fuel costs!
Millions of council workers came out in protest today over government plans to raise their retirement age from 60 to 65, in the biggest strike to hit Britain for 80 years. Thousands of schools, libraries and leisure centres around the country were closed and many bus and rail services came to a standstill causing travel chaos. Many council services across the U.K. were crippled by today’s strike. The issue of pensions is a problem that affects everyone in Britain, both public and private sector workers. Maybe the whole country should go on strike, it’s in such a mess! We’re being told that people are living longer and there’s no longer enough money in the state pension pot, so we will all have to work longer. Maybe if the government hadn’t wasted billions of money on three years of conflict in Iraq, we’d have plenty of money to cover everyone’s pensions, both the private and public sector workers.
XFactor judge Sharon Osbourne, recently voted Freemans Celebrity Mum of the Year made her stage debut last night in The Vagina Monologues at The Theatre Royal, Newcastle. Mum of three Sharon is the rock that holds her family together. Apart from fighting her own battle against colon cancer, Sharon has helped two of her children (Kelly and Jack) and rocker husband Ozzy through their addiction problems. On winning the award, Sharon said, “I’m delighted and the fact that this is a public vote makes it extra special.” Well done to her!
British tv presenters Ant and Dec have revealed plans to interview Prince Charles and his sons William and Harry in May. The duo plan to keep the interview lighthearted and are hoping to discover the Princes’ tastes in music, tv and films. The interview will mark the 30th anniversary of The Prince’s Trust.
Rescued British hostage Norman Kember settled back into home life again by attending a service yesterday at his local church. Many churchgoers were surprised to see the 74 year old peace campaigner so soon after his dramatic rescue. Mr Kember declined to discuss his experience of being held hostage for 4 months in Iraq and asked for privacy to reflect on his experiences.
In a statement Mr Kember said, "I do not believe that a lasting peace is achieved by armed force but I pay tribute to their courage and thank those who played a part in my rescue." He also thanked those people of all faiths who had prayed for his release. The dramatic rescue bid involved SAS, the American, Canadian and Iraq forces, who worked together to rescue Mr Kember and two other hostages. After the terrible murders of Ken Bigley and Tom Fox, at last we have some rare good news from Iraq. Everyone in Britain wishes Norman Kember and the two freed Canadian hostages well. After everything they've been through, they deserve it.
According to a recent survey Britain’s roads are crumbling due to lack of funding and a 10 year backlog of repairs. Apparently local council highways engineers are currently only getting 32% of the budget they need for maintenance work, despite the increasing amount of traffic on our roads. On average, the roads are only being resurfaced every 56 years, with local councils being blamed for not providing enough funding. According to the RAC, poor road surfacing is one of the top causes of accidents for motorcyclists.
The survey comes hot on the heels of the news that Britain is to have it’s first US-style car-share lane built on a motorway, in an effort to tackle pollution and traffic congestion. The lane can only be used by cars carrying two or more passengers and will open in 2007, in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Critics of the scheme argue that in America, quite often the lanes are under-used. Also the time saved by using the lanes is lost by stopping to pick up passengers!
The Diana Memorial Fountain appears to be cracking up after hairline cracks have been discovered in the structure. This is just the latest in a long line of problems to beset the troubled monument since it was opened by the Queen in 2004. First, the initial building work was delayed and cost well over budget, resulting in the memorial’s opening ceremony being delayed. Then the fountain had to be closed for two weeks after some visitors slipped and were injured. It was also hit by flooding. The cost of repairs will be a drain on the Royal Parks Agency (which is responsible for London’s major parks) and taxpayers, for years to come.
Maybe it’s a sign that the Memorial Fountain just isn’t meant to be and never should have been built in the first place. Surely a great lady like the Princess of Wales deserves something more to keep her memory alive. In my opinion a statue of the people’s Princess would have been a much better option and a lot less trouble as well.
On another note I discovered a beautiful Diana, Princess of Wales tribute site when I was surfing around the other day. If you would like to have a look, here’s the link:- http://www.truebritsjournal.co.uk/links/diana1.htm
I was reading in the paper this week that Kelly Osbourne, (the daughter of XFactor judge Sharon and rocker Ozzy Osbourne), has managed to shed two and a half stone. Well done to her. She looks great. Maybe this will now put an end to all the nasty remarks in the press about her weight. Kelly (the face of my favourite shop Accessorize) credits her new slim figure to giving up her favourite biscuits and dancing. Kelly’s a girl after my own heart. She loves Jammie Dodgers. They’re my favourite biscuits too! But alas they’ve had to go as part of Kelly’s new healthy eating regime. Like Kelly I do a lot of dancing but giving up the dodgers – that’s another matter!
In the news this week, Chancellor Gordon Brown delivered his tenth (and according to some Westminster predictions) final budget on Wednesday. As Tony Blair faces increasing calls to step down, Gordon Brown is hotly tipped to succeed him as the next Labour Prime Minister.
Pensioners’ groups were incensed as despite soaring fuel bills, there was no thought for the elderly whatsoever, with the scrapping of their £200 Council Tax rebate and no increase in pensioners' Winter Fuel payments. The major emphasis was on increased spending in schools, with the Chancellor describing his latest budget as “a Budget for Britain's future to secure fairness for each child by investing in every child".
But the Chancellor has made no provision for the cash-strapped National Health Service (NHS) in his budget proposals, claiming in a radio interview that there is a lot of money going into the NHS already and it is up to the NHS trusts to sort out their financial problems so that the public have value for money. Not sure how they’re going to do that, with cuts being made right, left and centre. The whole system just seems to be a shambles. But there we are. With NHS cuts taking place and hospitals being closed up and down the country, critics argue that the reason these cuts are being made is due to Gordon Brown’s failure to reform the NHS. Instead he has just abandoned it.
A package of “green” measures was also unveiled by Mr Brown, with increases in road tax for “4 x 4’s” and other gas guzzling vehicles.
Today we celebrate Mother’s Day in England, a special day when we can show our Mum just how much we love and appreciate her! Traditionally Mother’s Day has always been celebrated (in Britain), on the fourth Sunday of Lent since about the 16th century. The original roots of Mother’s Day probably lie in the church festival of “Refreshment Sunday”, when traditionally people would go back to visit their “Mother” church, i.e. the church where they were baptised. As time went by this custom changed to using the day for people to honour their mothers rather than the church. I’m taking my own Mum out for a meal now on this lovely spring day! Happy Mothers Day to any mums reading this!
According to a recent poll, many British families have ditched the family dining table and the majority prefer to eat their meals on their knee in front of the tv. They also prefer to quaff (posh British word for drink!) champagne rather than sparkling wine. So there we go!
I’ve been following the story of the six men who were in intensive care after suffering severe side-effects from testing the anti-inflammatory drug, TGN1412. Two of the men still remain in critical condition and it’s thought that one of them could remain in a coma for a year. It’s a terrible situation both for the volunteers and also their families.
Drugs like TGN1412 are usually tested in lab conditions first and then on animals, before going to the next stage of human trials. This latest drug trial disaster just proves how unreliable animal testing can be. Animals have different physiology to humans and react differently to certain drugs than we do. What is safe and works effectively for animals doesn’t always have the same effect in a human, and in some cases can have devastating and often dangerous effects as in this trial. A classic example is the Thalidomide drug which caused birth defects in thousands of people, when used by humans, despite having been tested on several different species of animals with no ill effects. Apparently TGN1412 (used to treat leukaemia), was tested on monkeys and the only effect was swollen glands but according to a relative of one of the men in critical condition, his head had swollen to twice its size and he resembled the elephant man, apart from his organs failing. I myself have always been against animal testing. After the latest fiasco, surely it’s time the medical professionals and pharmaceutical companies find a better and more reliable method of testing new drugs.
The National Health Service is in crisis again! Nothing new there! Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt’s plan to save money is for some patients with serious conditions like asthma and heart disease to be treated at home by community nurses rather than in hospital.
Only one problem there, there aren’t enough community nurses and most are struggling to cope with their existing workload, so more nurses would have to be employed and paid a wage to look after these patients. Unless the government is prepared to put more money back into the community to fund this, it’s the patients that will be the sufferers. Ms Hewitt has done her sums and reckons that by all accounts the homecare system would save the NHS more than £400million a year. Very astute! but what about the poor patients? They, it seems come bottom of Ms Hewitt’s list of priorities. Her only concern is the savings that can be achieved by offering them substandard care!
Tony Blair had surgery for an irregular heartbeat a couple of years ago. If he has any further problems, I wonder if one of the local community nurses will be going round to see him. Somehow I very much doubt it.
Nearly 70% of homes in the U.K. now have digital satellite tv , the highest percentage in the world. Satellite tv is a great invention! Technology has come so far now, it makes you wonder how we managed in the old days with just three tv stations! With more and more new channels springing up all the time, the main problem is finding enough spare hours in the day to watch them all!
A Sunday Times poll has shown that Prime Minister Tony Blair is now even more unpopular than he’s ever been! Very interesting and no surprise at all! According to the poll, the majority of people still believe Tony Blair offered peerages in return for labour party funding, despite his assurances to the contrary.This also comes in the wake of anti-war protests held in London yesterday calling for the immediate withdrawal of British troops from Iraq.
I was reading in the newspaper this week that apparently a Japanese range of bizarre flavoured toothpastes, including curry, cola and chocolate flavours! are due to go on sale in the U.K. very soon. Apparently the idea behind them is that they will make cleaning your teeth a treat rather than a chore! Somehow I don't think they'll take off over here!
I think I'll stick with my usual mint flavoured toothpaste!
Dr Adam Carey of popular British tv show, “Celebrity Fit Club”, issued an apology to German yoghurt giant Muller last week, after claiming in a January episode of the show that the yoghurts were full of sugar and had a high fat content.
Dr Carey admitted that he had made a mistake and in actual fact the yoghurts contain only 0.1% fat and naturally present fruit sugars.
Celebrity Fit Club follows two groups of overweight celebs as they battle to lose weight and get fit. The programme attracts four million viewers but even the experts get it wrong sometimes! Muller yoghurts are very healthy and ideal as part of a healthy, calorie controlled diet. The chocolate flavour yoghurts in particular are ideal to satisfy chocolate cravings but without the calories! Like the other yoghurts in the Muller range, they taste delicious!
Pope Benedict is planning a visit to Britain in September next year. The actual details of the visit are being kept secret amidst tight security. However the news will delight the nation’s four million Catholics. The last papal visit to Britain was made by Pope John Paul II in 1982.
The Queen is on her way back to Britain after completing a week long tour of Australia and Singapore. Over 80,00 people cheered and joined opera singer Kiri Te Kanewa, in singing Happy Birthday to Her Majesty (in celebration of her 80th Birthday next month), as the Queen officially opened the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne on Wednesday.
The Australian press described this as The Queen's "farewell tour", bearing in mind her age (she will be 80 this year) and also the fact that many Australians are keen to replace Her Majesty with a president. Many believe it's ludicrous to have a citizen of another country who only visits Australia occasionally as their Head of State. Despite this, the warm and rapturous reception that the Queen received at every stop on her latest tour made it clear she is still as popular as ever down under. Long may she reign over all of us!
England’s Prime Minister, Tony Blair has hit the headlines again this week, after it was announced that rapists’ jail sentences could be cut by 15% because jail is said to be “tougher”. What a load of rubbish! In addition, the Sentencing Guidelines Council (set up by Mr Blair) has suggested that men who hit their wives and partners should be sent on a course which challenges “their attitudes towards women”, rather than go to jail.
Women all over Britain (including myself) are outraged by this. Even Refuge (the charity which helps women who are victims of domestic violence) has condemned the new plans. It seems that Tony Blair is condoning domestic violence and trivialising it. If a member of his family was in an abusive relationship or had been raped, I’m sure he would take a different attitude. These plans will just give violent men free reign to rape and batter women and send out the completely wrong message to future offenders. They will put even more women’s lives at risk and also deter victims of domestic violence from coming forward. If Mr Blair lets these plans go ahead, he is letting down every woman in this country and sending out the message to men that it is okay to hit their wives and partners.
Marmite, the nation’s favourite spread, is to be re-packaged from it’s brown glass jar, into a squeezy plastic container. England has had a love affair with the gooey spread for the last decade with jars of Marmite continuing to fly off the supermarket shelves.
However it’s packaged, Marmite is still as good for you as it’s always been! It’s delicious by itself on hot buttered toast, or adds an extra bit of oomph to a cheese sandwich or cheese on toast! (my favourite way of eating it!) Marmite is a good source of B vitamins. It’s also suitable for vegetarians and completely low in fat and sugar. So go on, indulge yourself today!
Apparently terrorist suspects in Belmarsh Prison are now being issued with laptops, costing thousands of pounds. The official line is that these are to help them to "prepare defence for their upcoming legal cases". What a load of rubbish! Yet another example of how British taxpayers' money is being wasted! Critics argue that the laptops could actually encourage even more terrorist activity as if we don't have enough already! I'd love a laptop myself but can't afford one. Maybe if I ask the Government nicely, they'll issue me with one too! Or maybe the essential requirement is that I have to become a terrorist to get one!
Yesterday Thames Water announced plans to impose a hosepipe ban on London and some areas of the South East due to severe drought. It’s the first time in 15 years that they have had to resort to such measures. The move follows a long period of below average rainfall in the region.
No such problems up North! (English expression!) which (as some of you know), is where I live. It’s bucketing down with rain here and has been since last night! Still at least it's washed all the snow away and made it a bit warmer!
Apparently the seats at Wimbledon are being made bigger to accommodate the growing army of larger-framed tennis fans, who find the existing seats uncomfortable. It seems that whilst the tennis players are getting fitter, the fans are getting bigger and bigger! Maybe it’s eating an excess of the traditional Wimbledon fare of strawberries and cream that’s to blame! Either that or the fact that one in four Brits is now clinically obese - three times the rate in the 1990s. The new seats will be 18in wide and ready in time for this year’s June tournament.
British beef is due to go back onto the menu in Europe after an export ban lasting 10 years. The European Union originally announced the ban on the export of British Beef due to fears of mad cow disease and in response to public fears of it spreading to humans. The ban is now expected to be lifted in the next 6 weeks as the UK has made great strides in tackling the disease. Good news for British farmers, many of whom went bankrupt at the height of the BSE crisis.
In the news this week a blonde motorist was caught by a police camera doing over 30 miles per hour in a notorious accident blackspot area, whilst doing her makeup! Unbelievable! This comes not long after an incident where a women accidently drove her landrover into a freezing lake, using the excuse that she was having, "a blonde moment".
I noticed a couple of national newspapers posed the question, "Should blondes be driven from our roads?" Definitely not. As a blonde motorist myself, I would never dream of doing my makeup at the wheel. Hair colour doesn't affect your driving skills. In most cases it's lack of common sense. My advice to the police and other motorists is these were two isolated incidents, involving stupid women. Unfortunately it's women like these who give others like myself a bad name. There are some sensible women out there (including myself!). Please don't tar us all with the same brush!
England footballer Wayne Rooney and his girlfriend Coleen McLoughlin have been chosen to replace Sharon Osbourne as the new faces of British supermarket chain Asda as part of a £3.5million deal. The couple will front campaigns for Asda for the next two and a half years. Not surprisingly the couple are delighted and Coleen is looking forward to designing clothing for Asda's George range as part of the deal.
It has been a good week for Wayne. In addition he has just signed a £5million book deal with publishing giant Harper Collins to write a minimum of five books about his life and career.
Today is National No Smoking Day. Over five million people in Britain have pledged to give up smoking to mark the day. Welsh “Voice of An Angel” singer Charlotte Church has encouraged people to give up the evil weed, after quitting her own 25 a day habit as part of her New Year's Resolution. Also the news this week that Superman actor Christopher Reeve’s non-smoking wife Dana has lost her battle with lung cancer (caused by passive smoking through singing in smokey environments), is even more of a reason to quit.
In the news this week, Chancellor Gordon Brown has unveiled a voucher scheme to encourage youngsters to stay out of trouble. Well behaved kids who stay within the law will be rewarded with vouchers, whilst out of hand youngsters would be given “mentors” to keep them on the straight and narrow. What a load of rubbish! It will take more than a “mentor” to keep many of the teenage yobs in this country out of trouble.
Maybe they should start issuing vouchers to the government ministers who come up with all these bright ideas! Or maybe they should bring back good old fashioned discipline both at home and in schools and save taxpayers' hard-earned money! In an interview on GMTV this morning, Gordon Brown mentioned that the government is “toughening up” on anti-social behaviour. Apparently a lot of youth crime occurs because youngsters have nowhere to go and nothing to do, so the idea is that the vouchers which can be exchanged for sports and leisure facilities will channel youngsters’ interests. I’m not convinced. Perhaps American-style boot camps for young offenders would be a better idea or maybe bringing back National Service would do the trick.
Actress Rachel Weisz and plasticine characters Wallace and Gromit did Britain proud at this year’s Oscar ceremony.
Rachel Weisz scooped an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in political thriller “The Constant Gardener”, whilst Wallace and Gromit won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film for the movie, “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit!” (gratefully accepted on their behalf by animator Nick Park and Co-Producer Steve Box). This is Nick’s fourth Oscar and his first for a full length feature film. Well done to all of them!
XFactor contestant Chico failed to impress the XFactor judges but has certainly impressed the British public, going straight to No. 1 in this week's U.K. Singles Chart. Former stripper Chico has knocked Madonna from the top spot with his debut single, "It's Chico Time". Chico also has another reason to celebrate with the news that he is to become a dad. Congratulations Chico!
Tony Blair last night became the first serving Prime Minister ever to be interviewed on the popular British chat show, Parkinson. He also hit a storm of controversy after telling host Michael Parkinson that he relied on his conscience as well as his faith in God, when making the decision to go to war with Iraq. Mr Blair also believes that God will be the final judge on the Iraq war. It sounds like he's losing the plot to me. As the death toll of British troops in Iraq continues to mount, it’s the judgement of the British people that Tony Blair needs to be worried about and not God’s judgement. Politics and religion don’t mix. To blame divine intervention for going to war is just passing the book. A true Christian would never condone war or knowingly send people to their deaths. Many anti-war campaigners and military groups were disgusted by Mr Blair’s comments. He has also been fiercely criticised by the families of troops killed in Iraq. Mr Blair follows in the footsteps of his friend and ally George Bush who reportedly claimed his decision to invade Iraq was a "mission from God". For Mr Blair to blame going to war on God is truly bizarre. He is just using religion as a get-out clause rather than being man enough to take responsibility for his own actions.
Congratulations to Robbie Coltrane. On Friday the Queen presented him with an OBE. Famous for his portrayal of Hagrid in the Harry Potter films and also the tv series Cracker, Robbie is one of Britain’s finest actors.
Others also being honoured by Her Majesty include actress Imelda Staunton (who also gained an OBE) and jazzman John Dankworth who gained a knighthood at age 78.
Tony Blair this week launched his controversial Education Bill. Under the new plans secondary schools would run independently from local authority control and become “trust” schools (more like private schools), free to run their own affairs and admissions policy.
Education Secretary Ruth Kelly claims that the new bill gives schools the freedom they need to raise standards.
Critics of the new system argue that the proposals will lead to a “two tier” system where children from disadvantaged backgrounds will lose out, as working class areas are left with declining schools. Even teaching unions have criticised the new plans saying that they won’t improve educational standards in England.
It is also argued that schools will be so concerned with achieving academic excellence and high standards that many children who are struggling and need extra help with schoolwork will be left behind. Critics argue that children like these will be more likely to "drop out" of school because of lack of motivation.
The Education Bill also encourages tougher discipline in schools and improved school meal standards. It gives local authorities the freedom to offer all pupils free meals, fresh fruit, milk or other refreshments during the school day, regardless of family income. Surely this must be good news. You can’t expect children to sit in a classroom and pay attention to lessons if they are ill nourished and ill fed. A healthy and nutritious diet boosts brain power and is crucial to a child's good academic performance in the classroom. So plans for local authorities to offer free healthy meals and snacks to all children, not just those from poor families are welcomed by everyone.
I was reading in the press this week that popular British TV series Footballers Wives has become a big hit in the States. Apparently over there they are comparing the show to Dallas and Dynasty. It certainly oozes glamour, that's for sure!
In the news this week, England’s Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged to tackle the pay gap between men and women in the workplace and help women into better paid jobs, after a report revealed that girls are being steered towards badly paid jobs. Tony Blair hailed the findings of the report as a “ground-breaking piece of work”. Stating the obvious is what I would call it. We don't need a government report to tell us what we’ve always known that the women workforce in this country are undervalued and underpaid.
Apparently Mr Blair believes that one of the main things forcing women into low paid jobs and undervaluing their talents is the fact that they get poor careers advice at school. His solution is to increase the number of careers "coaches" in schools offering advice about job and training opportunities. I’m not convinced that will solve the problem. A lot of state schools are turning out too many pupils (both boys and girls) that are simply not equipped to work. Maybe this is to do with the advent of the National Curriculum and the fact that many teachers are forced to spend more time completing forms and paperwork rather than spending valuable time in the classroom. Many pupils are lucky if they can write their own name, let alone a job application, when they leave school. In addition Mr Blair’s benefit system doesn’t encourage youngsters to want to work. Many teenage girls prefer to take the easy option of a baby, council flat and benefits, all provided for by the state, rather than working their way up the career ladder. And who can blame them?
In addition the rising costs of childcare in this country make it financially impossible for many mothers to return to work after taking maternity leave, again creating a gap in the skills market. Surely to build up the country and the economy, we should be doing everything we can to encourage new mothers to go back into the workplace.
Women make up a large percentage of the workforce in the U.K. yet many are working far below their abilities with their talents being wasted. It is high time that employers recognised the fact that women have an important part to play in the workplace and their skills are just as valuable, (if not more in some cases), than their male counterparts.
Yesterday was the first day of Spring in England, but you wouldn’t think so judging by the nation's weather. Temperatures are hovering barely above freezing and some areas of the country have snow and blizzards with more on the way. Let’s hope we see an improvement soon!