Tuesday, 27 September 2016

A Wing and a Prayer

America, what are you doing to us!?

I've just watched a re-run of the Clinton v Trump debate and I can't believe the choice on offer. Have you ever been late to a carvery and the steak, beef, lamb and pork are all off the menu and you're left with chicken? Not even chicken breast or a nice leg but chicken wings. Not much meat, full of bone and gristle and certainly not enough to satisfy your appetite.

Well, that's the debate. It's chicken wings all the way and we want steak.

It's easy to dislike Trump. I mean, he doesn't have to try too hard to be unlikable. Muslims, women, blacks, Mexicans, pregnant women, the disabled, women in business, minorities, women in the home, the Chinese, NATO and women in the media are all subjects I have seen him attack. Most people outside of the US are understandably concerned that this first-grader with the shiniest lunch box will soon have the only keys to the canteen.

Clinton is a different matter. I've tried to like her. I really have. I've tried to forget the thousands upon thousands of confidential emails that she had on her personal server rather than the federally protected ones. I've tried to forget Whitewater, I've tried to forget the FBI investigation and I've tried to forget that she has been in or close to power for the last 30 years and still has a vision for America that she has yet to see come to fruition.

And that's your choice, America. A multi-bankrupted billionaire who will probably not make the ordinary American richer, but will leave you with a better feeling about your country. That's quite the trick. Or you have crooked Hillary, wife of an ex-President, offering a vision for middle America that involves making middle Americans richer but probably not feeling better about their country.

I don't know. I thought Americans loved their food. I've visited many times and the choice is unbelievable. It's so sad, then, to realise that when Americans get to the polls on November 8th they will have nothing to choose from but chicken bones.


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Northampton Fair?

For the people of Northampton it seems that 2016 has had an eerily familiar and tragic beginning. Still reeling from the brutal and unsolved murder of pensioner David Brickwood in September of 2015 came the news that a man’s body had been found at the end of January off Billing Brook Road. Amazingly it appeared that the body may have lain undetected for up to two years, hidden yards from the busy junction with the A43. Whilst that information was still being processed it was revealed that missing 20 year old India Chipchase had been found murdered in a house in St.James.
The outpouring of grief, anger and confusion over these deaths is undeniably heartbreaking. Like most of you I have elderly relatives. I have friends I have not seen nor heard of in a while and I have a young daughter. Whether any of these crimes personally touched our lives we all feel some sort of loss at the news. But how do we react to such horror? Is it a sign of Northampton’s descent into lawlessness? Are we not safe to walk our own streets? Who is to blame? Why did they happen, who is there to stop it or are they just gruesome coincidences?
We are a very large and busy town and sometimes it seems that we are all just charging in different directions trying to get to wherever we need to be as fast as possible. Just drive into the St.Peter’s Way roundabout at evening rush hour and you’ll see car brake lights rushing off like Catherine Wheel sparks in every controlled direction. Brackmills chugs along like a cheap Roman Candle and releases in short sharp bursts onto the A45, which is to be avoided at all costs, though sadly cannot be avoided at any cost. The Bedford Road roundabout into Cliftonville seems to be a Wacky Races-style competition to ease into the correct lane before the car in front or behind of you tries to steal a couple of yards. If an alien were to land during Northampton’s rush hour they would be alarmed at the speed and pace of Earth life before invariably being ran off the road by a carpet salesman in a gold Mondeo indicating in the wrong direction.

Once we return from our rush-hour battles most of us will jump onto social media. Facebook and Twitter can also seem a lawless and dangerous place and its navigation equally perilous. What I have noticed since the tragic death of India Chipchase is the overwhelming sense of community displayed by Facebookers and the Twitterati. We are not the snarling, space-grabbing, horn-tooting, fist-waving cussers that accompanied our journey home. I don’t know if this is a temporary phenomenon but it does show that Northampton is still a community. It laughs, loves and grieves together. It sadly won’t bring these three people back but what a tribute to their memories if we could carry forward just some of this sense into our real lives outside of cyberspace.