Shakespeare 400

A day of national events was held last Saturday the 23rd to mark 400 years since the death of the world famous playwright. These included President Obama visiting Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in London, and a Live show in the Bard’s birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon included play scene performances, dance and music. This was put together by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), presented by Catherine Tate and David Tennant and featured performances by Judi Dench, Ian Mckellan, Al Murray among others, and even Prince Charles getting a line. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this show on BBC2, and you can watch highlights on this BBC article: 

Prince Charles appeared quite unexpectedly on stage and recited the line in a sketch based on Hamlet’s To Be or Not to Be soliloquy, and took centre stage for the famous line. I also enjoyed Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar playing out the My Lady Disdain scene from Much Ado About Nothing.

I feel Shakespeare is still relevant today because of phrases we use are from his work like “in a pickle”, “budge an inch” and “laughed yourself into stitches”. These examples and more phrases are revealed by Rob Brydon in this video:

Sir Ian Mckellan also adds on his relevance that he “single handedly  invented modern drama in English” and the plays go on being relevant “because Shakespeare knew so much about human nature”. I feel the plays have the power to draw you in from the start with themes that have never change, as we all feel love, hurt, sadness, anger and laughter, with the range of emotions throughout his words. I remember learning about the plays Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado about Nothing, and Othello at school, and take my interest and enjoyment in his plays on from there.

Another programme that I felt offered a great insight recently in to the life and works of Shakespeare was the Richard Dimbleby lecture. This was shown on BBC1 back in March and delivered by Gregory Doran, the Artistic Director of the RSC from the Shard in London. Gregory reflected on the impact, resonance and relevance of the plays and Shakespeare today across the world. He described his own experiences and how he came to be the position he is in today. He asked the question “Is Shakespeare Chinese?” as any the plays, wherever they are performed, and in any language still enlighten and draw the audience in to the world he created.

I could ask will Shakespeare still be relevant in 2416? I’m sure the plays will be still be being performed, discussed and adapted in 400 years to the times and still be relevant. Also as Star Trek has used quotes in it’s episodes set in the 23rd and 24th centuries, even in Klingon, so the works of the Bard will still be relevant for a long time to come.

Warrington Local Election Hustings 2016

Yesterday evening (19th) was the second year a local election hustings has been run in the town by John Shipley; chair of Warrington Civic Society, and Gary Skentelbery; editor of Warrington Worldwide chairing the debate.

The panel of candidates was made up of Labour’s Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Bob Barr, Conservative Sam Baxter, Green Party’s Lyndsay McAteer, TUSC’s Cllr Kevin Bennett, UKIP’s Trevor Nicholls, and Labour’s Cllr Russ Bowden, who is also the Executive Member for Finance. Each candidate who are from across Warrington, gave a brief outline of their position and how they came to join their particular party.

This year it was held in the Bold Street Methodist Chapel, and many locally related issues were debated throughout the evening, including:

  • Women-only shortlists
  • Public Toilets in the town
  • Fracking
  • Increasing the supply of social housing
  • Traffic lights and pedestrian crossings
  • Immigration of Syrian Refugees
  • Engaging with voters to increase turnout

Women-only shortlists was a split issues in the panel, and again when was opened up to an audience vote of yes or no. Labour’s Russ Bowden believes we should be “encouraging people with different experiences” to come forward and has “no problem with positive selection”, while Trevor Nicholls of UKIP doesn’t agree and “has to be the right person for the job” every time. Kevin Bennett of TUSC believes “there is a need for it” but should be cautious,  while Lyndsay McAteer of the Green Party is “in favour as would give more equality”. Sam Baxter of the Conservatives said it is “in my instinct to disagree” and all should gain their “position on merit”, while Bob Barr of the Liberal Democrats thinks we need to “create a type of politics that Women want to be involved in”.

There was a general agreement on need to look at what local businesses can provide in the way of toilets for the public, as council run facilities can be expensive to maintain.

Fracking has been an issue making headlines up and down the country in the last few years. There has been talk of a plan in Woolston where an anti-fracking camp has been set up. Bob Barr won’t support until there is “scientific evidence it is safe”, with Sam Baxter holding a similar view. Lyndsay McAteer is totally opposed as a Green Party member and want to create a “Frack Free borough”, and look at more renewable energy. Kevin Bennett is also totally opposed,and has been horror stories heard from America, and would also look at renewables. Trevor Nicholls held the same view about being proved safe while Russ Bowden states that the 10 licenses for Warrington are up to the government and the council doesn’t have a say, but feels they shouldn’t be granted.

Social housing was another issues with much agreement that more is needed, just differing views on the right to buy scheme. Traffic Lights are also an issues that the panel feels the council has a duty of safety. Russ Bowden sees technology moving on and the lights becoming Smarter to traffic flow, while Trevor Nicholls wonders why there are so many?

The majority of the panel believes that Warrington can do it’s bit to help Syrian Refugees, with Bob Barr thinking we should “talk nationally” on the issue, a similar view held by Russ Bowden who says is the government’s responsibility to decide the numbers in each area. Lyndsay McAteer thinks we should “encourage, allocate and support” these people with compassion and common sense.

Engaging with people to increase voter turnout is an issue that is shown in statistics, especially during local elections. Kevin Bennett feels we should get out and talk to the people to find out what issues matter, which is a similar view to Trevor Nicholls. Russ Bowden thinks that you demonstrate that you can affect change and people will come to see that. Bob Barr also thinks engagement is the best way as people feel turned off from politics, while Sam Baxter thinks people don’t feel voting is worth it, and that needs to change.  A similar view is also held by Lyndsay McAteer as members of the public ask “what is the point”?

There were other questions surrounding academies (another divisive issue), an elected Mayor, Councillor allowances and the fear of future development on the infrastructure of the town. Each candidate then had sixty seconds, to talk about why you should vote for them and their party on May 5th.

The whole debate will be broadcast on from 6pm on Friday evening.

A timeline of the evening and main points can also be found on the Warrington Guardian page: 

There is also coverage in Warrington Worldwide: 

Paddy Ashdown’s Chester visit

Yesterday I got the chance to meet and hear Paddy Ashdown, former Leader of the Liberal Democrats campaigning to remain in the European Union.

He told a group of local press from Chester and myself that it was the “most important decision” since the end of the Second World  War, and believes Europe should stay together for peace.  He argued that a vote to leave would lead to the breaking up of Great Britain, as already stated by Nicola Sturgeon would trigger another Scottish referendum. It would create a “hostile Wales and Northern Ireland”, and we need to remain to keep the “Great in Britain”, while being economically sensible.

He stated the Brexit campaign has the view that “the Bank of England wrong, the IMF is wrong, NATO is  wrong, the EU is wrong, the Commonwealth is wrong, and President Obama is wrong”. The only world leader who has shown to be wanting Brexit is President Putin of Russia. He also dismissed the  concerns about immigration linked to terrorism in the world today; “because of globalisation, the enemy is inside the walls instead of outside. Terrorism is international, crime is international…” and international co-operation needs to occur to prevent these global crimes, not stopped by borders.

Paddy also spoke about the UK car industry among other economic and trade costs: “If we were to leave Europe, this is what would happen – you would have 10% put on every British car to be put into the continent”. In context that would be adding £1000 on average to every car, leaving car markers moving their operations elsewhere with job losses here.

He said the pound could be worth less, a slight rise in interest rates could occur, agricultural goods would go up in price, and other products would find new tariffs while being exported abroad.The negotiation the out campaigners are putting across as a main talking point could also take years to debate and discuss.

Lord Ashdown and members of the local Liberal Democrat party, spent over an hour campaigning at Chester Cross on a bright and warm day. This included Police & Crime Commissioner candidate for Cheshire Neil Lewis; who invited me to come along. Paddy also spoke to a group of visiting French students, using his French language skills.

Remember the EU referendum is on the 23rd June.



Warrington Conduit – A tube for Wire

This may be an ambitious idea I came up with a few days ago for a Warrington Underground or metro system, to help with the current traffic issues that the town experiences. It also may be costly, and is only an initial idea I came up after seeing an example someone had drawn for the towns of Bournemouth and Poole in Dorset.

Warrington Conduit.png

I have received positive comments from sharing it via Facebook and Twitter and updated it to the image above with the circle line added in. I have also added extra stations from recommendations. The first initial layout is below, without the key and title. I was given the idea of calling it the ‘Warrington Conduit’ as a tube for protecting wire, which relates to the Wolves rugby nickname and industrial history of the town.Warrington Underground.png

Depression Aware


As next week is Depression Awareness week (18-24th April) I thought would use this post to talk about my own experiences, to help with the campaign in reducing the stigma.

Depression and other mental health problems like anxiety are more common than some realise, with at least 1 in 10 being affected at some point. Unfortunately nearly nine out of ten people who experience them say they face stigma and discrimination as a result, which can be worse than experiencing the actual symptoms. Time to Change is England’s biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination, which has been growing hugely since starting up in 2007.

Since around 18/19, so all of my adult life and possibly before I  have experienced anxiety. I remember being on a train and after leaving a station on route suddenly feeling an intense feeling of having to get off. It took me a few hours of walking around thinking to get myself back on that day, but I’m glad I did. I also have experienced fear, anxiety and dizziness at times to do with heights and large open spaces where I feel exposed. I have been on medication on and off since back then (around 2004), and had some counselling which has helped, but I feel still have some things that need to change.

From the anxiety I have also experienced mild depression. I think this has been due to spending days stuck in the house and feelings of inadequacy in regard to employment. I constantly compare myself to others, and get into a cycle of feeling like I am not worth as much as others, as haven’t “made it yet”. Application forms and interviews I do dread at times with the feeling I won’t be good enough so what is the point? I know I have made mistakes in a couple of jobs I didn’t enjoy and have feelings of guilt about letting myself and others down. I also know have at times procrastinated not knowing which way to go next. Although I know I am lucky relatively living in a house, get the food I need, have a loving partner, and some great family and friends, and get to visit places I enjoy going to. I need to remember my positives of gaining my degree and the community groups I have been involved with locally.

More information about depression, self-help techniques, and local and national organisations which offer information or support, can be found at Warrington’s Mental Health Awareness site:

The charity Depression Alliance has set up Depression Awareness Week and more information can be found at: