TWIP- Revision, revision and revision

This week has seen a lot of revision. With an exam last Wednesday, and another coming on Friday, there’s a lot of notes to make and revision cards to write out.  This hasn’t meant a completely dull life- just a boring one. This was my week in pictures:

Sunday- Nicola, who is learning to drive, took Tom, her sister, her mother and I to the Peak District
Sunday- Nicola, who is learning to drive, took Tom, her sister, her mother and I to the Peak District. Sorry I cut you out the photo Jo!
Monday- revision I'm afraid. We were treated with a double rainbow though (although you can't see the second one)
Monday- revision I’m afraid. We were treated with a double rainbow though (although you can’t see the second one)
Tuesday- again, more revision. It was a full moon and a beautiful night over Sheffield
Tuesday- again, more revision. It was a full moon and a beautiful night over Sheffield
Wednesday- cider after the exam. It was a beautifully cool drink.
Wednesday- cider after the exam. It was a beautifully cool drink.
Thursday- more work. I bought a yellow Lamy Safari pen, which has been rather enjoyable.
Thursday- more work. I bought a yellow Lamy Safari pen, which has been rather enjoyable.
Friday- a beautiful sunset. To be honest, we have a lot of beautiful sunsets now.
Friday- a beautiful sunset. To be honest, we have a lot of beautiful sunsets now.
Saturday- more work. Really sorry, I'm trying to make something that is tedious somewhat arty.
Saturday- more work. Really sorry, I’m trying to make something that is tedious somewhat arty.
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Cording Elderflower

Tomorrow I have a Metaphysics Exam. Booooo. Because of the urgent and somewhat desperate need to revise, I have not had time to write a blog tonight. Wishing to continue the classic service the Fable of Bede provides, I thought I’d repost something from the archives. Seeing as it’s now summer and elder blossom should be hanging across Britain, I thought it might be a good idea to share this recipe again.

TWIP- Birthdays, Essays and Pride and Prejudice

This week saw me turn twenty, write a lot of essays and go to the theatre.

Sunday- I read Tony Benn's diaries the night before my birthday. A great set of political diary from a thoroughly interesting man.
Sunday- I read Tony Benn’s diaries the night before my birthday. A great set of political diary from a thoroughly interesting man.
Monday- Angharad, my girlfriend, and her parents came to Sheffield for my birthday which was delightful. We went to Eyam Hall in Derbyshire
Monday- Angharad, my girlfriend, and her parents came to Sheffield for my birthday which was delightful. We went to Eyam Hall in Derbyshire
Tuesday- by mistake, I didn't end up having my cake until the 26th. An excellent cake though. Well done Mum!
Tuesday- by mistake, I didn’t end up having my cake until the 26th. An excellent cake though. Well done Mum!
Wednesday- Eleanor, her mother and I all went to see Pride and Prejudice, which was on at the Crucible. It was a great way to distract myself from revision.
Wednesday- Eleanor, her mother and I all went to see Pride and Prejudice, which was on at the Crucible. It was a great way to distract myself from revision.
Thursday- lots of revision. Found this bee around and about however.
Thursday- lots of revision. Found this bee around and about however.
Friday- essays. Sheffield is lovely, but full of too much work.
Friday- essays. Sheffield is lovely, but full of too much work.
Saturday- essays. I managed to get a photo of this maginficently shaped cloud.
Saturday- essays. I managed to get a photo of this magnificently shaped cloud

This week will bring an essay to hand in on Monday and an exam on Wednesday. Lots of slog and work- expect more photos of clouds when I haven’t done anything interesting.

The Political Crisis under our noses

Three weeks ago was the night of the general election. During that election, a pertinent and worrying statistic arose which not many people have paid much attention to. Yet that statistic indicates that there is some deep rooted sickness at the heart of our political system; that there is a fundamental problem with our representative democracy; that there is a political crisis under our noses.

Straight under the nose.

The statistic is that 34.9% of people registered to vote didn’t. Which is to say that one third of the electorate either didn’t see their vote as relevant, didn’t view their vote as something important, didn’t engage with the political process or (perhaps worst of all) believe that the political process is something rotten. As the Independent showed, if a non-voting party had stood at the general election, they would have swept to power three weeks ago. There is, therefore, a major problem at the heart of the electoral system. I would argue that to fully understand why this is happening, we have to see into the mind of the non-voter.

There is a residual and petulant belief amongst voters that those who don’t vote are ‘idiots’. To brand a non-voter as such is to deny that there is a problem. Rather, the problem is the uneducated mass of non-voters who should just grow up and stop being so uncooperative in the political process. To argue that is to ignore that these people may have genuine grievances with the system.

In a great article written before the General Election, the BBC interviewed several non-voters within the Manchester area about their dissatisfaction with the political system. One lady stated:

“In inner-city areas people are suffering more [now] than 10 years ago. Why should we vote for this? They spin a web of lies, and then six months later they’re doing the complete opposite. Just let them get on with it.” Another man argued that “They’re just a bunch of liars. They’re just puppets putting a story forward to grab your eye. That’s what I teach my kids. They’ve totally broken all trust.”

A study done by Survation shows interesting results. 22% of people thought that politicians cannot be trusted to tell the truth, with a particular trend for that to be accentuated in younger people. Almost half of people aged 18-34 claimed not to have voted in the last general election. One of the most salient reasons for not voting was either that the individual’s vote would not make a difference or that political parties offer the same political message.  Less salient (but still relevant) narratives were individuals not having enough information to be able to vote, a lack of interest in politics, or that what the respondent believed is not represented by any party.

What can we conclude about what needs to be done to change the state of politics? There are some things which are easily solvable. For instance, should people feel as if they cannot vote as they are not sufficiently politically educated, then a greater and more comprehensive political education needs to be offered than what is offered now. Another reason people may not vote is because they feel their vote does not matter. This is probably true- if you live in a safe Conservative seat, then it probably shall make no difference how you vote, as the Conservative MP shall win anyway. Votes, however, will matter more should we implement a different voting system. This is becoming quite a popular political narrative in the UK, particularly after the under-performance of the Greens and UKIP at the last election. For people to feel like their voice matters, their voice has to matter.

There are other matters that are more deep rooted. The allegation, for instance, that politicians cannot be trusted (which is believed by a fifth of the electorate), is particularly worrying because it is hard to see how such a belief can be overturned. Politicians have frequently broken promises for different reasons throughout political history, and it seems bordering on naivety to believe that they shall stop now. Even more worrying is the claim that there is nothing that is different between the parties. The holding of the centre ground is one of the major features of our modern democracy. It’s hard to imagine a political climate where one party swerved to the left and one swerved to the right. It’s difficult to understand how we might resolve such an issue.

Evidently, I do not have all the answers. However, I think it’s important the question is asked. With so much political dissatisfaction in the air, a debate needs to happen- sooner rather than later. Whilst it is a difficult topic to find answers to, parties and academics need to focus upon the issue rather than ignore it for future events. Else, we cannot truly understand Britain as a representative democracy.

A letter to my ten year old self

Master M.B.Wickens                                                                                                                              Mr.M.B.Wickens

The Past                                                                                                                                                        The Future

Dear me,

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My sister and I as young people. Not quite sure how old.

You will have just turned ten. Congratulations. You have spent your first day in something of a dubious environment: your teens. Your teens are going to see something of a radical change in you. You’ll become far taller. You won’t run around as much. Your hair, which is currently blonde because you spend all your time in the sun, will become brown as you will spend all your time chained behind a desk. You’ll become far less accustomed to wearing shorts (which form part of your school uniform) and start wearing trousers. You’re going to go through the pain of wearing braces (my apologies) and discover the joy of wearing a beard. So, you probably want to know what advice I have from the past ten years.

You can be very shy and scared of your surroundings. Don’t be. Nobody is going to bite your head off. You’ll come out of most situations without any scars. You’ll be all right. Just take a deep breath and plough forwards with life and you’ll get out the other side.

Try to avoid fights with your sister. They’ll always end up with you hurting her in quite a bad way. I broke her finger once (by pure accident). Try and avoid that this time round.

Make sure you remember Kenya as much as I did, if not more. You have good roots in Kenya. Don’t witter on about the place- I did and people got frustrated about it. But remember the people you met and the land you grew up in. Remember the monkeys and the little lanes, the large hills and the smell of the rains.

Take more photos. You’ll remember less. It’ll help.

Please try and be cooler. Especially when you get to the age of 15. Your hair will get completely out of hand and end up looking as if John the Baptist met Shaggy from Scooby Doo. Have a hair cut and it’ll straighten everything else out.

Remember- B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L. Took me until I was 15 to get that one right. (Genuinely!)

That’s about it. Good luck with the GCSEs, A Levels and first year exams. Avoid dropping your laptop on the floor when you’re 14- I did and it ended badly. You chose well with the friends you made, so keep those up. Keep playing the piano! I gave it up and regret it greatly. Your parents will probably pay for cello and piano lessons. Probably. Start sailing earlier, keep smiling and just think that you currently have the joy of running round in Kenyan grass. Ten years time you’ll be reading about the lack of regionalism in South East Asia or trope theory. Enjoy being a teenager. It ain’t too bad.

Lots of love,

Your twenty year old self.

PS For God’s sake, eat less biscuits when you’re 12. You just become podgy and it’s rather horrible in the photos.

TWIP- Walking, work and more work

This week has been slightly work filled. I had an essay to hand in on Wednesday, and with more assignments looming, there isn’t really any time to sit around ideally. My birthday (which is this Monday) brought my dad up to see me on Saturday, so we fitted in a walk around the essays etc etc etc.

Sunday- a lot of essay writing. I write essays using pencil and paper. My wrist hurts afterwards.
Sunday- a lot of essay writing. I write essays using pencil and paper. My wrist hurts afterwards.
Monday- it rained all day, but the sunset was very pretty.
Monday- it rained all day, but the sunset was very pretty.
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Tuesday- Mum came to see me before my birthday. We had some brunch in a little cafe near me. Top nosh.
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Wednesday- the completed essay. I always like the neat look of an essay before you hand it in. After it’s handed in, it’s scrawled upon. But the paper copy is nice.
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Thursday- the sister of my flatmate, Nicola, came on Wednesday. On Thursday we went for a walk through the Rivelin Valley in Sheffield. It looks grey but it was really rather nice.
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Friday- another lovely view from my window as the sun set. It’s gonna be sad to say goodbye to this view.
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Saturday- the Peaks looking bleak. This was a walk done with dad on a place with the foreboding name of Black Ashop Moor. It felt like Heathcliff should suddenly start bounding through the heather whilst we were up there.

The upcoming week? My birthday is tomorrow, which is very exciting. I’m going to be twenty, which is somewhat unbelievable. It doesn’t seem that long since I turned eighteen- remember that? Beyond that, it shall be more work and more dull pictures of sunsets next week I’m afraid. Unless something dramatic happens. Which I doubt.

Passing Symbolism

The past week must have been somewhat enjoyable for the Prime Minister. He’s back in Downing Street and out of a coalition. His opposition is scattered and confused, whilst he now has a majority in the Commons and can begin to relish the short honeymoon he shall have for the next few weeks. Most importantly, whilst the Labour party is divided and he holds a united Parliament, he can begin to make the political weather.

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And maketh the political weather he has. He’s been making policy announcements about so many different areas that it’s hard to keep up with where Cameron’s allowing the sun to shine and where he’s pouring the political rain. One of the most publicised of his announcements was his meeting with Nicola Sturgeon. Cameron promised ahead of the meeting to “remain true” to the Smith package (the Scottish government states the draft clauses for the bill don’t reflect the proposals of the commission). Or take his policy speech on seven day working surgeries. Cameron claims that he will insure that a GP is available, seven days a week, no matter what the doctors say. Today, Cameron has announced that he shall not ‘cave in’ on migration, and promises an even tighter clamp down over the upcoming parliament than has already happened. And, of course, Cameron is promising a thrilled nation that he shall abolish the Human Rights Act. Which is not to say anything about the pledges cabinet ministers have been making about what they shall do the BBC, about anti-terror laws and so-on.

As to do lists go, it’s pretty extensive. As a university student, I know one thing about extensive to-do lists. It’s more a long wish list of things that you’ll get done in a day, but it’s more a symbolic promise to yourself that you won’t procrastinate or get distracted or put something off or simply not to it because it’s too difficult to think about it. In many ways, this to-do list is Cameron’s wish list. It’s a list of symbols he’s giving his Parliamentary Party to ensure that, when they start muttering to themselves that he’s failing to deliver on cutting migration or that GPs still only see patients six days a week, he can point to this inventory and calm their fears. It’s a time for symbolism in his politics, allowing him to paint a picture of what, should the road be smooth, will Britain will look like after he’s finished with it. This is a temporary period in politics. In time, he will not control the political weather and he shall not be able to be so blaze about his hopes. But, with a divided opposition and a united party, it is time to offer a symbolic ideal of what he wants to happen.

How much of this ideal will come into reality? That shall be the interesting question of the next five years.

Aunty Jade’s and Uncle Tom’s Advice Column- exam tips

This is a picture of Tom and Nicola.

The Cuties
The Cuties

When thinking about the re-boot of this blog, I thought that it’d be good to have more fun features in the Fable. I was thinking to myself “it’d be really good to hand out some useful advice to the Bedians”. I thought some more to myself- whether I should hand out these tips, or whether I should ask someone else to do it- my mother, or my sister or someone just generally wise. Then I thought I’d turn to two people who are undoubtedly wise- my flatmates and friends Nicola and Tom. So, these are their exam tips-

What’s the best way to revise?

Nicola: I do not revise as one should revise. I literally sit at a computer for like 12 hours. In this 12 hours I usually get 8 hours done.

Tom: Find the best working environment. The working environment that suits you. Let me think now. Surround yourself with people of a similar mindset. Don’t surround yourself with idgits.

N: Nah, I liked revising with El the other day

T: That’s what I mean- surround yourself with people of a similar mindset. You don’t want idgits around you saying ‘come on guys, let’s go and vandalise…’

N: Don’t live with distracting flatmates…

T (the distracting flatmate): Yeah! Yeah. Write, ‘don’t live with distracting flatmates like Tom’.

N: Maybe this tip could be sit with your friends?

T: How about ‘Don’t sit with idgits’?

N: Idgits might be your friends

N: Eat healthily! Also, reward yourself a snack. What I do, I put a snack in my top drawer- put a chocolate bar in my top drawer and every hour have one piece.

T: Find a working environment that suits you. Like, I enjoy working here, Eleanor prefers the library…

T: Open a window as well. Tell them to open a window as working in a room for a long period can lead to certain odours, so they’ll need to get some air in. It’s true isn’t it! You need a fresh supply of oxygen.

N: I leave my window closed…

T: Do past exam papers!

N: Oooooooh yeah. Past exam papers are the best things ever.

T: Definitely put on that it’s important to do exercise.

N: Yeah. Just do something you enjoy to relax.

T: Choose what is right for you. Your life is worth living- as much as mine is.

N: Could we put a recording in the blog?

Bede: No.

N: Let’s sing!

T: ‘Bang bang into the room…’

N: Oh! Actually- sometimes listen to music. I listen to music without words.

B: What sort of music?

N: Mainly Eminem….

Looking after yourself

T: Shower regularly. Don’t neglect yourself.

N: See, in exams, I think I just neglect myself. This time next week I don’t think I’m gonna have slept in ages.

B: How many hours of sleep should you get?

N: I’d say at least three. But normally eight. How many did I get last night? About four?

B: What about tips before the night of the exam?

N: Don’t have a curry.

T: Don’t drink alcohol. Don’t do too much the night before.

N: Get to bed early, but get up early as well. Get yourself in a good mood. You don’t want to wake up in a bad mood.

B: What should you eat on the morning of?

N: Have a cup of tea.

T: Have a bowl of the Hoops. (NB- Hoops are Aldi’s own brand of Cheerios. Tom eats them voraciously.) Hoops from Aldi and Russian Caravan tea.

What to do in the exam

T: Try not to cry. Try not to throw up. I knew a girl who threw up in her exam. It was disgusting.

N: I know a girl who had to have a bucket next to her because she was sick.

T: Don’t wet yourself. I knew a guy who did.

B: What do you do when you’ve got the exam paper in front of you?

T: Try and see through the exam paper before you open it up. I definitely think try and look through the exam paper before you look at it, because that gives you some peace of mind.

N: Practice a bit of sign language and sit next to someone you like. Cough twice!

T: At the end of the exam, keep writing. Even when they say put your pens down.

N: They’re not going to fail you, and you’ll get a few extra seconds out of it.

T: I remember my French exam- “I was like ‘be gone, I need to finish my sentence’.

N: When they want you to finish a sentence, just write a really long sentence. In an exam, think about the question first.

B: What advice do you have for someone who panics in an exam?

T: Keep panicking. Just keep going, get it out of your system.

N: Bring some water with you.

T: Yeah, bring some water.

N: And some tissues, cause I started snozing- is that a word- sneening-snoozing- sneezed?

T: Take your phone in and keep it on silent.

N: Wear baggy trousers so they can’t see.

T: Just wear baggy trousers and then text people.

M: What do you do if you open up that paper and think “hell I don’t know what’s going on in this paper”?

T: Wait for the forty minutes then stand up and go.

N: Fill out an extenuating circumstances form. Pretend they’ve lost your paper! Oh my god. I’m going to do that. One thing I did for my GCSEs is wear the same perfume cause you know your best- it’s the smell. It brings back the most memories. When you revise- no it’s actually true. I remember reading a thing on that.

T: Angle yourself well….

N: Be careful who you sit by.

What to do at the end of the exam

N: Stop crying and get a drink. I’d say at the end of an exam, you need to stop your revision for the day.

T: Run. Go to the pub.


Got any questions for our resident agony aunt or uncle? Got an issue in life that you need dealing with? Comment below and they’ll get back to you with the best advice they can give.

PS- Nicola’s middle name is Jade. Aunty Jade sounds nicer than Aunty Nicola.

TWIP- Cake, philosophy and cats

Welcome to the Fable’s newest feature- This Week in Pictures, on TWIP. This week saw me re-start the blog, but also saw me having to do a lot of work, as exams and essays are looming closer and closer.

Sunday- saw me making Coq au Vin. It was rather enjoyable.
Sunday- saw me making Coq au Vin. It was rather enjoyable.
Monday- I spent Monday working on the article that would be released the next day. The reboot's gone well so far- thanks guys.
Monday- I spent Monday working on the article that would be released the next day. The reboot’s gone well so far- thanks guys.
Tuesday- today, the neighbour's cat came wondering around our bins. A rather charming thing.
Tuesday- today, the neighbour’s cat came wondering around our bins. A rather charming thing which I’ve called Marmaduke (although I’m sure she has a much better name).
Wednesday- one of my flatmate's mums sent us a beautiful cake- via post! Who would have thought you could do that.
Wednesday- Nicola’s mums (Nicola’s my flatmate and so-called friend) sent us a beautiful cake- via post! Who would have thought you could do that? It had the flavour of a Bakewell Tart. Fantastic stuff- cheers Jo!
Thursday- our neighbour is doing a lot of DIY, and stuck their pot plants on our patch of gravel. It looks rather lovely now!
Thursday- our neighbour is doing a lot of DIY, and stuck their pot plants on our patch of gravel. It looks rather lovely now!
Friday- This week has seen a lot of work, which is interesting yet worryingly consuming.
Friday- This week has seen a lot of work on a metaphysics essay, which is interesting yet worryingly consuming.
Saturday- a beautiful evening required some fish and chips in the local park.
Saturday- the day to go to a chippy. Gorgeous stuff.

That was my week. How am I doing? What are you guys enjoying? What are you not enjoying? I am certainly loving being back in the world of blogging. Tell me what you think in the comments below!

The Remaining Eight Seats

They say that a week is a long time in politics. That couldn’t have been more true this week. One week ago, there was a belief that the next government would be a coalition. Ed Miliband thought he might become Prime Minister in a few days. David Cameron was wondering whether he was going to survive into the next Parliament or not. And the Liberal Democrats believed that they would not haemorrhage seats in the way they have.

Nick Clegg at the Hallam Count early Friday morning
Nick Clegg at the Hallam Count early Friday morning

Politics has moved on. The past week has seen a large amount of debate over why the Liberal Democrats lost so many seats. However, not much thought has been given as to why the Lib-Dems kept those 8 seats. This is the smallest that the party has been in a while, so it’s worth investigating these loyal, core seats.

I live on the borders of Sheffield Hallam, which is Nick Clegg’s seat. In the run up to the election, there was a lot of excitement in the area as many believed that Clegg would be booted out in the election, which was bolstered with articles such as these.

This was all done off the back of Ashcroft polling. Ashcroft suggested Labour had 30% of the vote, the Liberal Democrats at 27% and the Conservatives had 19% of the vote. In the election itself, Clegg’s vote jumped to 40%, whilst the Labour Candidate’s was on 36%. The Conservatives only got 14% and UKIP (polled at 13% by Ashcroft) only got 6%. In short, Clegg kept his seat as the Conservatives and UKIP supporters would rather have him as their MP rather than a Labour MP. This got me thinking- is Sheffield Hallam the only seat where a Liberal Democrat has been voted in simply as an alternative?

In short, no. Take the Welsh seat of Ceredigion, which has Aberystwyth and Cardigan in it, for instance. The Plaid Cyrmu leadership believed that Ceredigion was a seat that they could yank off the Lib Dems, as polling suggested that they had greater support. Instead, Mark Williams of the Liberal Democrats was re-elected with 36% of the vote, whilst the Conservative and Labour vote was auspiciously low around the 10% mark, suggesting that Labour and Conservative voters had voted Lib-Dem simply so to keep Plaid out of Ceredigion. Or have a look at Leeds North West. Prior to the election, polling placed Labour and the Lib-Dems neck and neck in this constituency. The results? The Lib-Dems secured a 7% lead over Labour, suggesting that Conservative voters had bolstered Liberal Democrat support to avoid having a Labour MP. Or we can turn to the Orkney and Shetland Isles. Local media pointed to a tight SNP victory- 38% for the SNP and 36% for the Lib-Dems. The Liberal Democrat support in the election jumped 5% between that poll and election day- an election that found Labour only polling 7% and the Conservatives polling 9%. The Lib-Dems were only elected because they weren’t the SNP.

So it seems that the support that the Liberal Democrats received in the election was based, not on their policies, but simply on the fact that they weren’t another party. There are, of course, some seats which the Liberal Democrats won without dependence on other voters. Norman Lamb’s seat of North Norfolk and Tim Farron’s seat of Westmorland and Lonsdale are just two examples where there are no clear indications of extensive tactical voting. Nevertheless, it is important to note that support for the Liberal Democrat core policies and politicians is even less than the general election made out.