Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Nearly there

So, today I am not writing about aviation fashions in 1965, although I could (pop a postcard through if you'd like to suggest). But we are doing a bit of waving this evening, and who better to have to demonstrate it than Get Mummy's Purse's old friend Beryl Reid.

Now this isn't my Christmas day broadcast, and yes, for those of you worrying, there will be one. This is more of a 'as we draw the curtain on 2007........' sort of thing. All off the top of my hairdo and not pre written by non striking writers back in July or anything like that.

Let's start with Christmas cards. I hear a lot of scoffing about these. I think a lot of people just can't be bothered. But I do think it is important to bother. One of the most important things about Christmas cards for me is that it sends a quick note to a whole raft of people I unfortunately don't get to see for one reason or another, but who still hold a place in my heart, to let them know that I am thinking about them and theirs. I love to receive them as well, little beacons of love shining in from the vast outside. Wonderful! How fantastic to know we are in the thoughts of others.

So what else does this time of year offer? Well for many it means spending time with their family and loved one's (please see previous blog on definition of family). And that is good too. The J and I are having what will be a first for both of us and that is a Christmas in East Dulwich, and I am simply looking forward to having an extended period of time with him, where work will not carve our being together into supper and me dropping him off at the station. No work, lots of lie ins, presents and Bubble and Squeak, mmmm!

Also as we approach the New Year we have a chance to review what didn't quite work, or where we didn't quite make the grade, or where we slipped out of step. We have the chance to try again, try to be better for ourselves and others. It is right that we do a lot of thinking about others at this time of year, but don't forget to think about yourself for a bit, think what would make you happier next year and what things you might like to do differently for you.

In prep for a non Leamington Christmas I did the honourable thing and scurried up there last weekend to deposit presents and put a mirror under my grandmother's nose to make sure she was still breathing, which luckily she was which at 98 is a small miracle. Also went to see sister no.3's new flat - very scary, for me not her, she is well excited, I am keeping fingers and legs crossed that this is a happy transition to independent living. OMG!

Parents seem to be getting very old. As far as I was concerned they had always been about 45 and gratefully remained that way until a couple of years ago when they were suddenly in their 70s and in rubbish health. Not good. My advice - don't get old.

Anyway I must stop this ranting as I am so tired my eyes are just about to heal over.

So think on and look sharp, and a very happy Christmas if you don't hear from me again before the momentous day.



Thursday, 13 December 2007

cheeky cheeky

Just let her dance

Mind your language

11 December 2007 was National Plain English Day, and to mark the occasion, the Local Government Association (LGA) published a list of 100 words that public bodies should not use if they want to communicate effectively with local people.

Apparently unless councils talk to residents in a language that they can understand, then the work they do becomes inaccessible and reduces the chances of people getting involved in their local issues. That's telling us, oh yes indeed.

Below is the full list, in alphabetical order, of the LGA's top 100 banned words.

1. ambassador
2. agencies
3. beacon
4. best practice
5. bottom-up
6. CAAs
7. can do culture
8. capacity
9. capacity building
10. cascading
11. cautiously welcome
12. champion
13. citizen empowerment
14. community engagement
15. conditionality
16. consensual
17. contestability
18. core message
19. core value
20. coterminosity
21. coterminous
22. cross-cutting
23. customer
24. democratic mandate/legitimacy
25. distorts spending priorities
26. early win
27. empowerment
28. engagement
29. engaging users
30. enhance
31. evidence base
32. external challenge
33. facilitate
34. fast-track
35. flexibilities and freedoms
36. framework
37. fulcrum
38. good practice
39. governance
40. guidelines
41. holistic
42. holistic governance
43. improvement levers
44. incentivising
45. income/funding streams
46. initiative
47. joined up
48. joint working
49. LAAs
50. level playing field
51. localities
52. meaningful consultation/dialogue
53. MAAs
54. menu of options
55. multi-agency
56. multidisciplinary
57. outcomes
58. output
59. participatory
60. partnerships
61. pathfinder
62. peer challenge
63. performance network
64. place shaping
65. predictors of beaconicity
66. preventative services
67. priority
68. process driven
69. quick hit
70. quick win
71. resource allocation
72. revenue streams
73. risk based
74. scaled-back
75. scoping
76. seedbed
77. service users
78. shared priority
79. signpost
80. single point of contact
81. slippage
82. social contracts
83. stakeholder
84. step change
85. strategic/overarching
86. streamlined
87. subsidiary
88. sustainable
89. sustainable communities
90. symposium
91. synergies
92. tested for soundness
93. third sector
94. top-down
95. transformational
96. transparency
97. value-added
98. vision
99. visionary
100. welcome

Now I am all for inclusive language so I will be trying very hard to avoid any of the above words, so as to help the public, god love 'em.

However there are other words, worse words, which should be banned. I would like to introduce you to the words I have banned my team from using. You'll see a pattern I'm sure, and agree the world would be a better place if everyone followed our example.

Baps, Climax, Discharge, Deposit, Engorged, Evacuate, Excretion, Express, Flap, Finger, Fluid, Glistening, Juices, Lubricate/lubricant/lubrication, Matter, Member, Mess, Moist, Motion, Movement, Ooze, Organ, Opening, Pass, Passage, Pastry, Penetrate, Procedure, Pucker, Relief/Relieve, Secrete, Seepage, Slippage, Soil, Spread, Stool, Straddle, Stroke, Swollen, Tug, Wipe, Withdrawal.



Monday, 3 December 2007

As we enter Advent

Now, as you all know there are several important things that must be prepared for well in advance of the big day itself. In fact this one should be prepared as a matter of urgency, as it is, you'll agree, the keystone to happy and successful yuletide festivities.

That's right, you've got it in one, today we are going to make the Blue Peter Advent Crown.

Now, we are going to be making the original one not the PC police gone made version. The only draw back with this version, is that buildings and personal liability insurance should be trickier to obtain unless you go sub prime and you know how tricky that is these days. You see, today's youth, apart from wearing hoodies, doing that funny limping walk, playing music on their mobile phones on the bus and smoking crack cocaine, are subject to a health and safety conscious advent crown, where baubles are added to welcome in each new week of advent rather than the celestial light of burning wax. I think you can take this nanny state thing too far and anyway ours has candles AND baubles.

Do remember to ask an adult for help if necessary. You will need 4 wire coat hangers, ask mummy or your housekeeper to get these for you from the dry cleaners, plenty of tinsel (re insurance reference above maybe make sure it is fire proof), 4 jar lids, now these don't necessarily have to come from an organic preserve, but it is preferable especially if the neighbours have a tendency to pop round for sherry unannounced. Now do you have 5 glass baubles handy? no? well pop along to your local DIY shop, Fortnums, Peter Jones or Harrods should be near enough. To further adorn you'll require holly, now don't just snip away at the first bush you come across, topiary doesn't grow on trees you know. Finally you'll need 4 candles, and don't make the same mistake I did and come back from the iron mongers with fork handles!

How we laughed. Anyway.

1. First cut the hook off two of the wire hangers just above the twist then using thin wire join one hanger with a hook to one without at right angles - make two pairs.

2. Turn one pair upside down and wire them all together into a large 3 dimensional diamond, fasten the jar lids at the four corners.

3. Place the candles in the jar lids, decorate the hangers with tinsel and greenery, and hang baubles from underneath the jar lids and in the centre at the bottom. But remember kids never leave lit candles unattended, even for a moment.

So there you have it, 4 weeks in advent and you light one candle per week. What joy!

Have a look at the one I prepared earlier (below) for some more clues, or ring up Biddy Baxter if you need the fact sheet - she won’t mind.