Friday, 23 March 2007

Happy Birthday Dad!

My Dad is 82 today so I'd like to wish him a very happy Birthday. For someone of his generation reaching this venerable age was unheard of. Its astonishing to think that until he had his stroke, just over 6 years ago, he was still driving around with his set of ladders on the roof-rack and going up onto people's roofs to do a little repair work.

Sadly, this is the second birthday he'll "celebrate" away from home as he's been in hospital, and subsequently, a nursing home, for the last eighteen months. At least there is the consolation that he is being well cared for. Still, we all miss the man he used to be, but love him no less as he is today.


I got home from the office last night to discover a 4 page colour tabloid from Solidarity, which had been delivered by the Post Office. I know that this has also been delivered around Glasgow.

Quite frankly, it's not inspiring reading and I'm sure that they could have targeted their niche market more effectively. I do understand that it's part of the attempt by Rosemary Byrne to save her South of Scotland list seat. When she was elected in '03 it was by a small margin and a reduction in the vote of less than 1% would have cost her the seat. With a split-left ticket and polls showing a melt-down in their votes, re-election looks like a forlorn hope.

The SSP/Solidarity schism has been an interesting spectator sport over the last few months but I suspect that between them they'll be lucky to have 1 MSP after the election on May 3rd. It will also be quite interesting to see where their voters transfer their political alleigance.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Can anyone identify this?

I know it's not the worlds best photograph but can anyone identify this raptor which I saw in my back garden last week? I've never seen one in my urban street before and was rather taken aback but probably less that the victim at its claws!

Black Dog

I don't really know if I should be writing this post but here goes:

Some years ago I suffered very badly with depression for about a year. Life was hellish during that time and I felt that I didn't want to exist. Fortunately I got through it and moved on in life.

Today I should have every reason to be happy; I have a wonderful girlfriend in Catherine who I love deeply and whom I know loves me; my Dad is now safe and well looked after in his Nursing Home; I have a close family; I have a job that I love; I've a great chance of being elected as the first ever Liberal Democrat Councillor to North Ayrshire Council, I enjoy my local Lib Dem activisim and even more so my roles on the Scottish party Executive, Campaigns & Candidates and Conference Committees; I am blessed with lots of good and true friends; outwith election time I can even manage to have a social life!

So, why then do I feel like the most worthless, guilty, miserable, usless failure of a creature on this planet, why am I lethargic, why is my sleep pattern shot to hell, why do I have the concentration span of a goldfish and why can I be so short of temper? Well I reckon I figured it out when I woke up around 4am this morning when I woke from my 3 hours sleep.

Yes, I guess the black dog is back at my heels - depression. Why me, why now, why have I been fine for over a decade?

At least I've been able to face up to the fact and contact my GP about getting some help. I've also told Catherine and my good friends Caron and Suzette, so those are positives as well.
I may have to do less in the coming months and I will reduce my alcohol intake and try to have a healthier life style and I know that there is light at the end of the tunnel, even if I can't see it yet. I don't even think I've slipped nearly a third of the distance that I did before

I don't post this in the search for sympathy, I post this as a positive statement, for me, and for every other poor sod in this world who has to suffer this.

Friday, 2 March 2007

At last: Aviemore report back!

A happy band of 5 Voting Representatives from the Ayrshire & Arran Lib Dems arrived
in Aviemore for Scottish Spring Conference, from the 16th - 18th February, this year.
Some descended earlier than others - Iain on the 14th (wearing his hat of Conference
Committee Vice Convener) and Ruby arrived on the 15th (she had a Steward’s briefing)
Jenny & Lewis found baby-sitters for the weekend to allow a peaceful (and possibly a
little indulgent) weekend and Andrew dragged himself away from studying for his finals for
three days. On reflection, the only time when we were all together was at the
"Conference Spin" social event on the Friday evening, where Iain was lucky enough to win
a bottle of House of Commons Whisky which was signed by most of our Scottish MP’s.
Before anyone asks - no he’s not opened it and no it’s not going to be a raffle prize locally!

Conference ran from 1.45pm on the Friday through until just after 1pm on the Sunday,
with debates covering a variety of subject from our vision for Rural Scotland to emergency
motions on flooding and the war in Iraq.

Jenny had submitted an amendment to the health motion, which was accepted for debate
by Conference Committee, so she had to speak to the amendment. She did this with a
great deal of eloquence, despite this being only her second ever speech at Conference.
When the amendments were voted on Jenny’s amendment was approved with only one
vote against - we are assured that Lewis was not the sole nay sayer!

None of the rest of spoke on any of the debates although Iain would claim that he was too
busy running about being Acting Conference Convener. Our friend Helen, who is the
Convener of Conference Committee was there but as she was, and still is, recovering
from a nasty bout of pneumonia, couldn’t do the running about required. Hence Iain doing
the headless chicken act! Iain also Co-Chaired several sessions of Conference prompting
one of his so-called friends to remark "He wis oan the stage mair oaften than Nicol wis!".

On the Saturday afternoon, whilst sitting in the cafe in the exhibition centre, Andrew,
Jenny and Lewis were accosted by a camera crew from the BBC. They appeared several
times on various BBC Politics programmes over the weekend and came across as decent
and sane people. It should be noted that this would not have been the case had they been
interviewed after consuming quantities of free booze at an assortment of fringe meetings.

It would be fait to say that the five who attended had a thoroughly interesting and
enjoyable weekend with a nice balance of policy debate and socialising. This year’s
Conference was the largest yet. There were over two dozen fringe events and about 30
stalls in the exhibition and there were nearly 700 passes issued.

Oh yes, Suzette broke her finger too - don't ask!

David Cameron & the Bullingdon Club - the true face of the Tory leader?

I note that David Cameron has been "outed" as a member of the notorious Bullingdon Club whilst at Oxford University.

Andrew Gimson, author of a book on Boris Johnsson said of the clubs meetings: "I don't think an evening would have ended without a restaurant being trashed......" & "a night in the cells would be regarded as being par for a Buller man..."

This archaic, aristocratic, hard drinking and badly behaved "elite" club portrays Cameron in a newer and nastier light. I feel that this revelation is much more likely to case him trouble than his cannabis at Eton revelations.

Welcome to the world Ross Dale Smith

My Niece Lyndsay give birth to a wee boy this morning. His name is Ross Dale Smith and he joined us weighing 7lb 12oz. Congratulations to Lynsey & David (Lynsey's Husband and Ross' Dad) and I'm delighted for Billy & Jeanette (my Brother & Sister-in-law).

Another bundle of happiness to make the world a nicer place.
Welcome Ross from your "Great" Uncle Iain.

I suspect that there will be another of these "welcome" posts in the not too distant future as Catherine's best pal, Sam, is due in April.