Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Charity begins in Ceredigion

It's been a busy 5 months since I became County Council Chairman but one of the most rewarding aspects of the role is the ability to raise additional funds for worthy local causes.

Back in the summer, I shared the proceeds from my civic service collection with the local branch of the RNLI and also with our local Air Ambulance fundraising group.

This month as shown in the photo here, I was delighted to present the proceeds from anonymous donations at my Chairman's dinner to Cardigan Cancer Care.

At present, I am starting a 4th consecutive year of collecting money for the British Legion's Poppy Appeal. In the wider arena, I have also been a keen supporter of the Red Cross and have also sponsored a child in Malawi.

Life is hectic and indeed I'm often told that I'm doing too much and that I need to slow down. That's probably true and I am slowly recognising the need to look after myself better and to at least attempt to manage a more reasonable 'work-life' balance.

But the ability to support others has been of great comfort to me through the years. It goes with the territory I suppose. When taken in the greater scheme of things, we are a fortunate people and I myself have been blessed with good health and wonderful friends. The least I can do is give something back to a community which has given me so much in return.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Goodbye old friend. RIP Ceefax 1974-2012

It's a sad day.

At 23.30 BST in Northern Ireland this evening, Olympic champion Dame Mary Peters will turn off the last analogue TV signal in Northern Ireland and with it, in the United Kingdom.

As the victory of digital television is made complete over it's out-dated and extinguished rival, so too will be the loss of the BBC's much loved text-based Ceefax service.

At its height in the 1990s, it was viewed some 20m times a day and I was one of that regular and happy band of followers.

Watching the latest football scores come through on a Saturday afternoon (page 303?!) was a favourite past-time, waiting as I did for the home Aston Villa score on page 1 of 3 refresh as Ceefax slowly meandered its way through pages 2 and 3, back to page 1! Pages 360 onwards were also favourites of mine as they housed the information on Formula One.

The news section always gave me the latest in the world at the touch of the button and I fondly recall (on the sister Teletext service if memory serves) the old 'Bamboozle' quizes which I adored.

I also recall checking the stock market share prices regularly (page 224?!) with my parents to see whether their stocks were on the rise, or on the wane..

Here is this week's Points of View, giving a final goodbye to a much loved medium of information.

Yes, the 'Red Button' is the new, younger and flashier brother of dear old Ceefax and it does the job well. But call me old-skool if you will, but it isn't a patch on my old and much missed friend.

This below was the first part of the end of Ceefax in Northern Ireland 2 weeks ago. The final goodbye occurs this evening. It will be missed but fondly remembered.

RIP my dear old friend Ceefax

Jimmy Savile: A Redaction

Whilst I have been well aware of the growing news stories revolving around Jimmy Savile in recent weeks, I suppose I hadn't really taken it in until I watched tonight's Panorama on BBC1.

I missed ITVs Exposure so didn't see the evidence in its initial context. Seeing it tonight in the full gaze of weeks's worth of light being shone onto the case was truly horrific.

The revulsion that I felt as the pieces of a barely believable jigsaw puzzle came together was indescribable.

Less than a year ago upon his death, I wrote this blog post about this apparently beloved star of millions of viewers who grew up watching him on TV in iconic shows such as 'Top of the Pops' and 'Jim'll Fix It'.

Indeed, in that very blog post I wrote...
"He was an eccentric character with a dress sense, a vocabulary and a taste in jewellery and cigars that marked him out from the crowd. He was a one-off. At 84, he certainly lived life to the full".
I look back at it now with absolute horror that I could've wrote what I did. In fact, I'm surprised on reading it back that it wasn't more gushing towards him as I had considered myself to be one of his many fans. Yet somewhere, something must've told me deep down to keep the superlatives at bay. I used the word 'eccentric' 3 times in that one piece. Did I use it because I knew that it could cover a multitude of sins?

Perhaps I did deep down because looking back, that Louis Theroux documentary with Savile back in 2000 always sat unesaily with me. I've got no problem with people being different and standing out from the crowd. I am after all, a non-conformist. But there was something in that programme I remember, even watching it as a 17/18 year old, that didn't feel right.

So it comes to pass. Of course we will never know the full truth and Savile himself will never answer the allegations made against him. But the sheer volume of accusations that have been made in recent weeks and the admittence by so many well known celebrities of the time that they knew of his tendencies but did nothing about it, is astonishing. I particularly found it difficult this evening to watch a favourite of mine, music mogul Paul Gambaccini admit that he too was aware of the rumours surrounding Savile in the early 1970s when he began to work at the Beeb.

So, to mark my total loss of faith in a man who was supposed to be the one who made children's dreams came true but who actually, prayed on the vulnerable and made their lives hell, I have redacted (for want of a better phrase) the original blog post as can be seen via the link above.

As I've mentioned in the postscript, I will not remove it because what I wrote then was based on what I knew at the time but now we know differently and my update has had to reflect that whilst leaving the original, marked-through post alive, on this site.

As I mention there, I have never in my blogging time had to go back and totally distort an original written piece, but in this case here was no alternative. I sincerely hope that I never have to do the like of such a thing again.

In the meantime, I hope the police use any new evidence that has come to light against those still living who like Savile, grotesquely took advantage of a vulnerable minority for their own evil satisfaction.

Friday, 19 October 2012

The West Wing 2012 Election Reunion

It's been a manically busy time and my blogging (or the lack of it) has suffered as a result over recent months.

One of the many topical issues on which I should be blogging is the on-going American Presidential Election. I haven't had the time to go into detail on the latest comings and goings in this intriguing Obama Vs Romney drama but I had to blog briefly on what is now a 4 or so week old (see, I'm clearly out of touch!) campaign add for Bridget Mary McCormack for State Supreme Court on a non-partisan election ticket which I first saw last night.

What's the fuss? Well for any self-obsessed West Wing nut (eg me), this campaign add is nothing but jaw-droppingly awesome!

Yes, our West Wing favourites have returned for this educational but ever so slightly personally partisan ad and it was like a wonderful walk down memory lane.

The 4 minute clip sees the brief return to our screen of old favourites CJ Cregg, Josh Lyman, Donna Moss, Will Bailey, Kate Harper, secretary Carol Fitzpatrick and my personal favourite, Toby Ziegler.

Indeed, the link here is that the Bridget Mary McCormack mentioned in the ad is the real-life sister to Kate Harper's alter-ego Mary McCormack.

The clip was going along smoothly enough. All characters had aged remarkably well apart from the distinguished features of a rather chubbier looking Josh Lyman, when to my absolute delight, in came President Jed Bartlet with Debbie Fiderer to add to the proceedings.

Here it is...

That final, iconic swirl of Martin Sheen's jacket was the perfect conclusion to an unexpected 4 warm minutes that felt like the finding and wearing of a lost but found comfortable pair of old slippers.