That was the week that was

I have had a busy week. On Monday I attended an interview at Sainsbury’s. This consisted of two parts, a DVD based assessment which was in the main very straightforward. The only part of this assessment that caused me a furrowed brow was the attention to detail section. At the opposite end of the scale was the “basic maths” section, which Elias or Evie could probably have done without undue difficulty. This was followed by a fairly informal one to one discussion which seemed to go well.

The online learning for the course I am acting as guinea pig for three my week slightly off kilter because owing to a problem on my own computer I had to book a session at Learning Works (outside my volunteer hours) to complete it. The combination of this, my other plans and the fact that I have to stow my computer away somewhere when the cleaner comes because she, understandably, does not like trailing wires meant that I concluded my weeks jobsearch only just in time to email the results to my caseworker at Seetec, which leads to…..

The latest example that I have personally received of the contempt that the mollycoddled old Etonians who comprise our government have for the unemployed. I received a letter from the DWP today reminding of the sanctions that can placed on people who are on the Work Programme if they do not meet their obligations. The implication behind this could not be clearer had they spelt it out: If you are unemployed it must be because you are slacking. Not only is unemployment overall rising, but the statistics relating to disabled people make especially grim reading (and if the Remploy closures go ahead they are about to get even more disgraceful). 51% of all disabled people in this coutry are unemployed, and for those with non-physical disabilities that rises to a jaw-dropping 75%. I makes these points not in any spirit of self pity but just to back up the fact that unemployed does not equate to lazy.

Thursday gave me an opportunity to hone my timekeeping skills. I had booked a morning session at Learning Works to finish the online learning for my current course. Knowing that for the rest of my day to work as planned I needed to be on the 1:45 bus to East Rudham (whence I would going on to Norwich for an evening meeting having attended to matters there) I set myself to have the work done by 12:00. This was achieved comfortably inspite of having to switch computers part way through. I was thus able to to visit East Rudham and then get on to Norwich by 4:30PM, which gave me time to visit the library and get some supper before the meeting.

just a couple og photos this week…


All sorts

Last Saturday was Norwich Pride, and what a huge success it was. The parade was much bigger than last years. The whole of Norwich was dominated by the events that formed Norwich Pride, with rainbow flags adorning the castle and the city hall among other buildings. The forum was packed for most of the day with people looking at the stalls.

Wall to wall sport this week, with the Olympics in full swing and a test match going on. The test match is interestingly poised, with England 48-0 in reply to South Africa’s 371. 

Last night’s meeting of my Aspergers group went well, and we had a new person attend, which is always good news.

Two big events coming up next week for me: The interview on Monday, and an Open Day at Learning Works on Wednesday at which I shall be assisting.

All todays photo’s are from Norwich Pride…


Sainsbury’s, T20 and other stuff

To start with the Sainsbury’s developments: Having made sure that I logged into the Sainsbury’s site first thing on Monday morning to catch any suitable vacancies, and duly applied for an administrative job I have got through the first stage of their recruitment process and have an interview coming on 6 August at 12:00.

The T20 quarter finals are done, and the four teams who will take part in Finals day are Somerset, Sussex, Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. The star individual performance from these matches came from Scott Styris of Sussex who scored 100 not out off 37 balls (yes, you read that right) to boost Sussex to an unassailable 230-4 from their 20 overs. Samit Patel for Notts scored a rapid half century and followed up with three wickets making the decision as to who was man of that particular match very straightforward. Yorkshire’s star was Gary Ballance (although Joe Root’s 65 was invaluable in laying the foundation it was Ballance’s 46 not out off about 20 balls at the end that made the Yorkshire total unassailable). Also to be noted is the fact that all four winning teams batted first – which makes Hampshire’s decision to field first in the last fo the four matches seem rather curious.

I have completed another secttion of my current course at Learning Works, and found it veyr enjoyable. My recommendation (unless something very dramatic happens during what is left of the course) will be that they do offer it, but take a bit of care over who they offer it to. Anyone who made heavy weather of the more basic employability course would definitely struggle with this one (it is not possible to genuinely struggle with the other).

Some more photos (making full use of the warm weather we have finally got)!


Congratulations South Africa (but don’t count your chickens yet!)

South Africa duly completed the emphatic victory that put them 1-0 up in the three match battle of the test match titans. At one point, when Ian Bell and Matt Prior were going well it looked as though the greatest of escapes might just be on, but once Prior was out, attempting to sweep the leg spin of Tahir the end came swiftly. However, it should be remembered that this is the first innings defeat England have suffered in two and a half years, and the first time in a long time that both bowling and batting have malfunctioned for them in the same game. I would not recommend sweeping changes (I still have horrible memories of the effects of “in, out, shake it all about” selections in the 1990s, as well as less horrible memories of the 2010-11 Aussies adopting this approach), and would also point out that immediately following a thrashing in Perth, England bowled out Australia on the first morning in Melbourne – these guys know how to bounce back and have done so before.

The Sunday at Marxism 2012 featured a couple of frustrations when I twice indicated a desire to speak but missed out (these things happen), but I was nevertheless impressed that there were two meetings relating to disability. On the Monday, the highlight of the morning was Gigi Ibrahim talking about Egypt complete with some quite horrific photos (this was one of many interactive meetings). I thoroughly enjoyed the bit of the final rally that I was there for. Faced with a choice between being there for the whole thing and then almost certainly having to stand all the way to Cambridge or leaving early and probably having a seat I chose the latter.

If the accounts and photos I have provided in this blog have impressed you, book early for next year’s event (I booked in February for this year’s event) and you won’t regret it.

Enjoy some photos…


South Africa’s day

South Africa enjoyed a bonanza day in the world of sport yesterday (it was probably just as well for Bradley Wiggins that no South Africans were involved in the Tour de France!) with golf and cricket happenings that were the stuff of dreams (or nightmares according to perspective).

At Royal Lytham & St Annes Ernie Els recorded a final round 68 to get to the safety of the clubhouse at seven under par for the week. The combination of gusting winds and pressure got to long-time leader Adam Scott who bogeyed the last four holes, missing a shortish putt at the last to go into a play off. Spectacular happenings of this sort are by no means unknown at the business end of majors – Jean Van de Velde’s triple bogey at Carnoustie to drop into a playoff and Paul Azinger’s 6,5 finish at Muirfield that gave Nick Faldo the 1987 Open are just two other examples, while in the US Open Arnold Palmer was once seven clear with nine to play and failed to seal the deal, but four bogeys in a row to finish is definitely unusual.

A couple of hundred miles south at The Oval (I refuse to incorporate the name of whoever happens to be the current sponsor), South Africa were having a day that they would scarcely have dared to dream about. In the first two sessions Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis piled on 234 runs without being dismissed, taking their stand to a South African third wicket record 376 unbroken. Amla became the first South African to pass 300 in a test match, while Kallis was on 183 not out when tea arrived and with it Graeme Smith’s declaration. England then contrived to lose four wickets, all bar that of first inings centurion Cook to poor shots, in the final session. I will not venture a firm prediction on this occasion, but with all due respect to the batting talents of Prior, Bresnan, Broad, Swann and Anderson, it is clear that Bell and Bopara will have to stay together for much of this final day to give England any chance of pulling off an escape act that would earn plaudits from Harry Houdini.

Thats it for today apart from some photos…


Summer and other stuff

For the first time in a long time we are getting some genuine summer weather. I spent yesterday sitting outside, following various developments in the sporting world. Barring a ‘Van de Velde’ moment Adam Scott will be crowned Open Champion tomorrow evening as he leads by four strokes going into the final round. Brant Snedeker who equalled Scott’s course record 64 on the second day fell away in the later stages of the third. Having been bogey free for the first 40 holes (an unprecendented achievement at the Open) he dropped four shots in the last 14 holes of his third round.

South Africa have had two very good days in the test match and at 403-2 are almost certainly secure against defeat (there is no certainly in cricket – remember Headingley 1981). However, as this score suggests, the pitch is showing precious few signs of mischief, and the last time England faced a large first innings deficit on a pitch of this nature, at Brisbane in 2010 they responded with 517-1 in the second innings to save the game. With a possible 196 overs remaining in the game there is still time for all sorts of things to happen.

Returning to the Saturday at Marxism, the fourth meeting I attended featured Panos Garganas from our Greek sister organisation the SEK talking about “Can Greece beat the Troika?” This was remarkably upbeat given the situation in Greece. As the speaker pointed out, not only did Siriza gain the highest percentage of the vote for a left organsiation in a Greek election since 1958, they did so in the face of open intimidation from the major European powers.

After the two hour break I attended a meeting titled “Defend the right to protest”. This featured three main speakers, Nina Power who runs Defend the Right to Protest, criminal defence lawyer Matt Foot and Alfie Meadows. Alfie Meadows is a victim of police brutality, and a piece of doublethink that Orwell would never have dared to make up. Having been battered to within an inch of his life (he needed emergency brain surgery to save hime) he then found himself charged with violent disorder, a case that is still ongoing (comes up for retrial in October).

At the end of the day I met up with the Norwich comrades and we spent a very enjoyable couple of hours talking about our respective days (although the bar, which I have already kvetched about, ran out of ale that night – and did not bother to restock) before heading to our accommodation.

Enjoy a selection of photos…



England have made a strong start to the clash of the test match titans. Andrew Strauss was dismissed by the fourth ball of the match but that was the first and only time South Africa were in a strong position. Alastair Cook became the second youngest ever to reach 20 test match hundreds (behind – surprise, surprise – Sachin Tendulkar) and was still there at the close on 114 not out. There were also substantial contributions from Trott (61) and Pietersen (42), while Ian Bell looked as solid as ever as he and Cook reached the close at 267-3. Since this series is only three matches long, instead of the five a series of this standing should be a strong start is particularly important. South Africa need to get the last seven wickets fairly quickly to get back in things, while for England the aim would be to bat for most of today as well and then give South Africa a testing 40 minutes or so before the close.

The Open is in full swing at Royal Lytham & St Annes (note to any American reading this: there is no such tournament as the British Open – it started in 1860 as The Open and that remains its name). The early pace setter is Adam Scott of Australia who broke the course record yesterday with a 64, but many top names are well in contention, and there have been many occasions on which an unknown has shot the lights out early on and then faded under pressure.

The Saturday at Marxism was a truly magnificent day – even the weather was quite pleasant. On this occasion it was also World Pride day, so a number of people were taking part in that, but every meeting was still packed to bursting.

The first meeting I attended featured lawyer Gareth Peirce speaking on the subject of “The dark arts of the secret state: a decade of false narratives”. One of those who spoke from the floor talked about the coverage of PC Simon Harwell’s trial (since this meeting the trial has concluded, and the jury, disgracefully and indefensibly, have acquitted him), and particularly of the moment when he broke down in tears. Contrary to the impression given by most reporters, PC Harwell was not actually talking about Ian Tomlinson when he broke down, but about a motorcycle accident he had suffered. At the end of the meeting a book by the main speaker was being sold at a very reasonable price, and proved (as expected) to be compulsive reading. The final essay in the collection has the same title as this meeting and contains most of what was said there.

Nick Davies’ talk about “The press, power and the phone hacking scandal” As you might imagine, there were many juicy stories in this session. I will record just one, relatively unimportant but quite amusing. There was a story in the run up to the Euro 2012 football tournament about an England fan who was so worried about a poor performance by the England team that he took out insurance for neurological problems. The “fan” allowed himself to be named, which along wth a few other things prompted some digging, which revealed that our supposed “worried fan” was actually the PR manager of the insurance company!

After lunch I headed for the meeting on “The Higgs Boson: should Marxists care?” and was never gladder to arrive early since it was obvious even at that stage that the room was far too small for a meeting on this topic, which opinion was confirmed when it was soon full to beyond a level of which the safety elf would have approved. The one word answer to the question in the meeting title is, of course, yes. An interest in science is valuable in and of itself, and the discovery of the Higgs Boson is a huge development, plugging a gap in the so called “Standard Model”. Our speaker pointed out for those who talk of “wasted money” that last year the British government lavished £34 billion on defence and only £4 billion on science.

I will continue my account of this extraordinary Saturday in my next post. Enjoy the photos…