Boris Johnson is a liar

...and here's why! ENJOY :)

Listening to Boris' shambling R4 interview with Eddie Mair this week, I notice he slung in the casual passing "fact" that T-May “...won more votes than anyone since Margaret Thatcher" (http://www.independent.co.uk/…/boris-johnson-leaked-whatsap…). A quick fact-check required, methinks. 
Wikipedia yields the attached graph on the helpful page https://en.wikipedia.org/…/United_Kingdom_general_elections… :

This page tells us that in 1979, at the peak of her popularity (her first win), Thatch won 43.9% of the popular vote. *** STICK WITH ME FOLKS!!! *** This page tells me T-May won 42.3% of the pop vote on June 8th. So far, so true. But wait! What's this?! Let's look at our pretty graph again. What's that red mark in 1997? YES - it's LABOUR, with 43.2% of the popular vote. That's right - more than the Conservatives in June 2017, with the added caveat that turnout was 68.7%, compared to 71.3% in 1997 to elect Labour. So not only did more of the total PERCENTAGE vote for Tony Blair - more ACTUAL PEOPLE did too.

In conclusion: 

a) Boris - you're a LIAR and you should be ashamed of yourself.
b) based on the graph, I might re-form the Whig Party. Anti-monarchy, abolition of slavery... ...Who's with me?!

BREXIT as a catalyst for social & political change: I Love Leave

I've spent many hours sitting on my kitchen floor since 23.06.2016 debating all aspects of Brexit on Twitter and Facebook. I'm now going to ratchet my heart even further onto my sleeve and say something here too. Remainers and Leavers: please read on.

Below is a neutral letter that everyone horrified by the fallout of the UK's EU referendum result on 24.06.2016 can send to their MP, if they like, inspired by one composed by the fabulous Steve Larkin (click here to read his original letter). I hope for the sake of avoiding a civil war (I am not joking; read how this article ends) that voters on either side of the debate will consider sending this neutral letter to their democratic representative. I voted Remain (PLEASE READ ON ANYWAY!!), but not to protect democracy - I voted Remain to prevent us sliding into the catastrophic pit of horror that is very likely be unleashed on the UK now as we see thousands of job losses, the poor getting even poorer and even angrier, the rich getting richer (since they likely hedged their bets on the outcome and they never lose anyway). Call me short-termist - it's just that I really hate war, and for me, the last 70 years of relative peace on our soil (not that we didn't enjoy plenty of conflict overseas during this time) was enough to persuade me that continued EU membership was a good idea.

Now that the people have spoken, it IS time to look at democracy. Our ancient, creaking parliamentary democracy, where we elect representatives we don't feel represent us using a system that is clearly not working. Voter registration has gone down over the last few years as the UK population has increased. DOWN. Why? Because people don't feel connected. Because people are too busy doing what they need to do to keep alive. And because the new single voter registration system introduced by the Tories in 2014, supposedly to prevent fraud, made it harder for more mobile citizens (eg. renters such as the young and students - coincidentally, not traditionally Tory voters) to register. You can call that a conspiracy if you like - I prefer to call it gerrymandering, as the Tories then attempted to redefine constituency boundaries according to the new electoral roll - as opposed to the census' population count for each area. Yes, you read that right. Thankfully, our creaking Parliament voted against doing this until at least 2018. Why did we not notice any of this at the time and shout it from the rooftops? Perhaps because for some time prior to last Thursday, we were happy to delegate decisions like these to our parliamentary representatives. That is, after all, the point of them.

Perhaps many Leave voters knew all this. Perhaps Leave voters held the viable perspective on human history where positive change is usually engendered by violent upheaval. In that case - fair enough. Condemn us Remainers and our short-sightedness. But if the idea of human progress is that "...advances in technology, science, and social organization can produce an improvement in the human condition", please, please can we not drag ourselves back into the dark ages by using violence and anger before debate and reform? ISIS are already having enough success in the world doing exactly that - and the Leave vote was as much a twice-removed protest against the rise of ISIS and all its associated ills (immigration, the edgier aspects of multiculturalism, etc.) as it was a cry to give people back the livelihoods and self-esteem that Thatcher stole from them (and their kids, and grandkids) just after we joined the EEC in 1972.

We're ruled by a bunch of Tory elites who cannot possibly represent us - they have no idea what our lives are like, who we are or what we feel, as this referendum has clearly shown. Our response to that must not be to divide even further. We must not aim the pointy finger of blame at people escaping war in their home countries, or people who have lived here for generations but happen not to be white, or anyone else OTHER THAN THE BROKEN SYSTEM WHICH DOES NOT REPRESENT US and the terrible decisions that has enabled. We must UNITE. We must abolish the things that divide us - from first class on trains (yes!) to public schools and tuition fees - and RECONNECT WITH EACH OTHER. We can all be citizens TOGETHER.

Please send this letter. Or go on a demo. Or speak to your neighbours. Or start a chat down the pub. Or do some volunteering. Or read around this issue - a lot. It takes time but it's worth it. Don't do what "they" want you to - do what YOU need you to do. GET INVOLVED.

Thanks for reading :)

Dear [your MP's name goes here; click to find out name & email],

The UK's EU referendum was won with such a slender majority that it has caused a dangerous schism in UK society and highlighted that our current party-political system is no longer fit for purpose. I am very concerned about the future of the UK and request your help in the following ways:

Firstly: I urge you to press for an immediate debate on reform of our electoral system to an entirely new one which allows the opinions of UK citizens from across the entire political spectrum to be reflected in the makeup of Government.

Secondly: I urge you to call for an immediate general election as I believe the EU vote is effectively a vote of no confidence in the current UK government.

Thirdly, post-election, I urge you to press for an immediate parliamentary vote on triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. This will be far fairer to the entire UK population than having such a vote now. I will expect you to vote on this in the manner you feel best represents your constituency (should it indeed still be you acting as MP at this time).

I would be grateful if you could please acknowledge this letter as soon as possible.

Best wishes

[insert your name here]

Now on Soundcloud!

Today Clio and I woke up to the sound of a riot of tweeting outside, pulled back the curtains and could just about make out (through the milky fog) a flock of goldfinches in the tippy top branches of the sycamore tree. I stuck the iphone out of the window and made a recording. But how to upload it to Facebook to share it with friends? Facebook doesn't let you upload plain audio files in your status updates. So, after a bit of Googling "how to make a video file from a still image and audio", it turns out that was the wrong approach - uploading a link to a Soundcloud file is much easier. So - I'm now on Soundcloud. Don't know why I didn't do this ages ago - expect lots more soon (including tracks, of course)!

Merry Spring :)

https://soundcloud.com/susannastarling/goldfinches-morning-11-3-16

First gig with Kismet this Saturday!

I'm excited to be playing my first gig on bass with Oxford band Kismet this Saturday in Charlbury (see Gigs page for info). I'll also be supporting, with 20+ mins of solo set. Let's hope nothing catches fire!!!

Fast, Furious, Fire: it's...Oxford Folk Weekend!

Oxford Folk Weekend this weekend was a blast, in several ways, one of which involved Oxford's Randolph Hotel catching fire and blowing up which meant my Friday night debut gig with Kismet supporting Threepenny Bit was cancelled due to fire alarm mayhem at the nearby OFS. Luckily Threepenny had another couple of successful gigs over the weekend so didn't travel from Hants for nowt. Kismet & I ate a sad curry and promised to make another gig date - watch this space!

Sunday was a hectic gig day, with a morning set with the DellyWellies in the OFS' lovely Gallery space (reopened and not alarming), with a good crowd and a decent acoustic. Tom rushed dramatically onstage just as we were starting the set, which somewhat set the tone for the rest of the day :) After scoffing a quick GF bean burger (yum) at GBK my pal ("Purple") Dave and I dashed off to meet Tom in north Oxford to rehearse for our second gig: 2.15pm in Blackwell's' Norrington Room. To be playing to a packed out and lovely audience peppered with familiar faces in the place I used to skulk and read for my PPE degree was bizarre and fun. Whinnymuir's debut gig was a success, Tom got to the stage as we were about to start (hooray!) and folk signed up to our mailing list for gig alerts. Expect the Whinnymuir album some time... err...this decade. Probably ;)

Finished my Folk Weekend with a dash to another horrifically expensive Oxford car park (I am ever more appreciative of West Oxfordshire's fabulous free parking initiative!!) and then to MAO to catch the end of the French session. Home to Finstock in time for a nice cup of tea and a sit down. Phew!

New CD!

yES! I haz made one. Finally. After about 10 years of people nagging me (thankyou, nags, you know who you are). It is called DEMONSTRABLE, it's got 6 tracks on it and you can get it off me at live shows. AND: it looks like a tiny record :) with vinyl grooves and everything!! Nice.

Bizarre week!

Well! This week, I recorded my first solo EP (ready for release at Fri 13 Feb's gig in Newbury supporting Cara Dillon) and - through leaving a comment on a thread on Facebook - got asked to go live on Woman's Hour to take part in a discussion about female sterilisation! Who knew.

You can listen to the latter here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0511v9r and the former will be coming VERY SOON! :)

Boo!

I've not written any brain content here for a while so here goes - a quick blast before collecting The Small One from nursery for swimming!

New bass amp came today!! Gallien Kruger MB150S-112 III - 'every bass player's secret dream', according to the awesome Musikhaus Thomann (the German company I get all my electric kit from). It sounds sssweeeeet with the Framus Triumph (my electric upright) and I'm - as they say - PSYCHED about getting it out for tomorrow's ceilidh with Finstock Festival Band :) woohoo!!

And lastly but by no means leastly: I am awaiting confirmation of a very exciting support slot. Fingers crossed :) Better not jinx it any further with any more comment, but news will be here when I have it!

Toodles :) x

Thanks!

...to everyone who came to the Warneford Chapel in Oxford last night for my split solo/band gig(s) with The DellyWellyBoot Band. It was a lovely night and nice to have so many familiar faces in the audience :) The first gig, at lunchtime, was slightly terrifying as the audience was small, quiet, far away and hard to gauge (I always find the smallest gigs the scariest!) - plus there were two heavily armed policepersons at the back through half of it! There's a first time for everything, I guess ;)

Big thanks especially to Tom, Nick and Judith for being brilliantly talented and wonderfully easy to make music with; and to the Derrington clan, for filling up the front row!

PS: No, I / we don't have a cd yet. Sorry! I promise there will be one (or two) at some point soon. Honest.

Chitter chatter

Ok, so I've not done a blog before, but I do sometimes say things on Facebook involving opinions or pictures of vegetables, so I thought I might do that here too in case you find it interesting / want to fight me :)

Odd topic for my first one, but here goes: why is it not ok for the Queen to be happy that Scotland is remaining part of the UK? This seems to be Radio 4's leading news story today. I am happy about it, personally - and I didn't spend most summers in my life there and it wasn't where my mum lived. (Though I did spend a small but important part of it there lugging feed sacks about, herding goats and looking after sheep on a farm near the Moray Firth). I am not happy that loads of Scottish people (including some very good friends) are now sad as they've missed the chance for an exciting new start, but that is a different thing and not what the Queen was on about.

I'm pretty sure that the voting populace would feel a lot happier with politicians if they were just able to say what they actually thought more often. Isn't that why people like UKIP? Because they make simple, seemingly honest statements? Shame they have no background knowledge or experience behind them to back them up - unlike most of our other politicians, who may have plenty of that good stuff, but have lost the ability to make simple, honest statements. Sigh.

PS - I'm now on Twitter, where I promise to be less depressing :) and where I just posted a link to a fishing boat made entirely of plastic rubbish. Check it: twitter.com/susanna_star