General rants

Me venting my spleen over any manner of things.

A Mad Man With a Blog: 2014 in numbers

2014 wordpress summary

Another year down, and it’s been another year full of blogging. So how did I do in 2014? Let’s have a peak behind the scenes…


Well, Cllr Floyd Waterworth may not be a fan, but clearly some people are. 2014 saw over 43,000 views on the various posts and pages of this blog, an increase of 138% on last year, and by some margin the best year since I started this blog.

Visitor-wise, the WordPress elves tell me that some 23,400 people visited this blog in 2014, which equates to an average 1.8 posts/pages viewed per person. I’m not sure how accurate it is discerning individual visitors, but by the individual metric it has nearly doubled on 2013.


This year I published 333 posts (334 including this one). Which is nice, I think.

The top five most viewed posts from this year (excluding the home page, the about page, and the peri-peri veggie burger recipe from nearly two years ago that everyone apparently still loves) were as follows:

  1. Full list of Southend Local Election Candidates 2014 (April)
  2. 02 “The Lion and the Rose” (Game of Thrones season 4) [SPOILERS] (April)
  3. The Southend Tory MP, the expenses claims, and £11k of taking the p*ss (September)
  4. James Duddridge, MP for…Halifax? (March)
  5. Kipperwatch! UKIP thugs trash Labour street stall in Corringham (November)


WordPress apparently tracks the locations from which visitors are viewing the site. Which is nice.

Here are the top five countries from which people viewed this blog in 2014:

  1. United Kingdom
  2. United States
  3. France
  4. Germany
  5. Australia

In news which will surprise nobody, the UK was in first place by a huge margin.


2014 was good. Hopefully, 2015 will be better.

And a happy new year to all my readers!

World Homeless Day

world homeless day 2014

It has been pointed out to me that, in addition to today being the UN International Day of the Girl, today is also World Homeless Day.

Homelessness is a blight that I have never had to face, and God willing I will never have to. But it is impossible to escape the everyday. I see rough sleepers on the streets of Southend and London, and it is heartbreaking to see.

When I was younger, I volunteered at the coffee bar of my local church in Warrington, and many local homeless would come in for a cup of tea or coffee — free of charge — and someone to talk to. These were people, with stories and lives of their own. I often think of the people I got to know there, and wonder what happened to them.

Here in Southend, the homeless are well served on a number of fronts. The Street Pastors, I know, do excellent work, and Del Thomas is a man with an abundance of compassion, and devoted to his work. I know their work is not always glamorous, but it is invaluable to those who are out on the streets.

We also have charities like the HARP, which does some absolutely fantastic work with those who find themselves homeless. There is always more demand than supply with this sort of help, but this is a local charity doing incredibly important work. If you are looking for a way to help the homeless, I know that donations to HARP are always put to good use.

It is important, as the weather starts to turn cold and we descend into winter, that we remember those who are out on the streets — and that there, but for the grace of God, go any of us.

Day of the Girl

day of the girl

And now, as they say, for something serious.

Today is the UN’s International Day of the Girl, an awareness campaign for the plight of girls around the world, whose lives are blighted and potential left unfulfilled by the spectre of gender inequality. Violence against girls and women, even in a “developed” country like Britain, domestic abuse, sexual violence and horrors like female genital mutilation are still demons to be slain.

There is no easy answer, but the solution has to stem from education. Education on sex and relationships, and the fact that violence can never be acceptable in any relationship, for boys and girls is the only way that the cycle can be broken and progress made.

This is an international problem as well as a national issue, and education is a central plank around the world. There are a host of information and statistics each more sobering than the last, and really it ought to galvanise us into action.

This is not a party political issue, but nonetheless I am proud to belong to a party which has committed to real action to fight this evil.

Sensitivity is not the same thing as censorship

doctor who

There’s a bit of a debate going on across a number of circles online at the moment, regarding the decision of the BBC to edit a scene out of this weekend’s Doctor Who episode. The scene, in “Robot of Sherlock”, features a beheading.

It was presumably not that graphic — it’s still Doctor Who we’re talking about, and even Game of Thrones cuts away at, er, vital moments. But nonetheless, with cases such as that of journalist James Foley being all over the news, the BBC decided to omit the particular seen.

Quoth the BBC:

In light of recent news events, we have made an edit to episode three out of respect.

It seems, I reckon, fair enough. But there are others who disagree; they take to the internet with their perennial battlecry: “CENSORSHIP!”

Read on…

For Art’s Sake

new beecroft gallery

In what is turning into a series of “good news for Victoria ward” blog posts, I can now confirm that the new home of the Beecroft art gallery in Southend is pretty damn awesome.

When Ash and I moved into our flat, it was a source of annoyance that the library had closed just before our move in date. I rather liked the old Southend Central library, with its multiple levels and wide selection of books. The new Forum which replaced it, more centrally to the town centre, has amply provided for library coverage, but the move left a big, well-placed building going begging in the town centre.

The new Beecroft Gallery opened at the weekend, but it was only on my lunch break today that I actually managed to get down to have a look around. And I was impressed. It’s still a bit on the empty side, but I’m confident that it will fill out given time. There are already a few exhibitions there, one a photography exhibition on football stadia across Europe, and another exhibition of swimwear of the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Both are well worth a look, alongside the Beecroft’s own collection of Southend-related artwork.

I spotted a few excellent maritime paintings, which appealed to my own tastes.

The new gallery sits alongside Southend Central Museum — also well worth a visit — on Victoria Avenue, down the road from both the courthouse and the civic centre. This is what I mean when I talk about the potential of this area; with the regeneration of the other side of the road which is now very much on the cards, Victoria really does seem to be taking steps towards fulfilling its potential as a cultural hub.

Meet the new me

Not, as it turns out, all that much different from the old me.

Please do not attempt to adjust your TV set (does anybody ever try that any more?), I have simply given my blog a long overdue facelift.

You see, the old theme was one I had been using since I graduated from university. Which doesn’t sound too long, but every now and then someone or something would remind me that that was a good three years ago. So I felt a change was in order.

It’s nothing terribly radical, and indeed the content will remain largely the same. But I wanted something fairly minimalistic, with a lighter colour scheme. The result is what you see before you. All feedback is, as ever, welcome, so let me know what you think.

I’m also subsuming the Reviews category (and all subcategories) under Geek-culture, as a part of what I see as recognising the two heads which have grown up in the content which I blog. This may evolve further, but I think that generally the categories feature has been under-used, and I mean to rectify this.

My blog did very well in terms of numbers over the election campaign, and I am determined to continue that trend, with more of an equal focus on geekery and political geekery. Julian (Ware-Lane) regularly bemoans “all the sci-fi stuff” on here, but these are my interests, and I think it gives a more holistic sense of who I am. Besides, my blog, my rules.

So as a great man once said, let’s see what’s out there!

Hiatus (ish)

With the local elections done, and the future of Southend now in hands other than mine, I am taking a well-deserved (or at least I think so) break to recuperate. My foot still hurts from doing my bit to see two Labour councillors elected in Westborough.

I figure a week in York, the once (and future?) capital of England, ought to do the trick.

So although I will still be blogging this week (and you thought you’d escaped), it will be all of the reviews which have fallen by the wayside in the last few weeks in favour of the push-and-pull of the minutiae of local politics. Hersey of the week will also be making a return, you lucky reader!

If any groundbreaking political news does make it to York this week, I don’t rule out giving my opinions, but it’s far from my first priority. And when I get back to Southend, I’m planning a bit of a makeover (the blog, not me!) so that’s something to look forward to.

But for now, time to rest.

Youth in Revolt

george osborne laugh

My generation are selfish bastards. It’s a well-documented thing.

We’re the “me” generation, I’ve been told more than once. We’ve had everything on a plate, we’ve had it so easy. When our parents had to work, we got awards just for turning up. Our exams got easier every year, not like the O-Levels Mum and Dad did.

It’s background noise, the hum which shapes our daily lives. Ungrateful. Undeserving. Spoilt. It gets to the point that we tune it out and carry on with our lives. Because what else can we do?

The truth from our perspective — from my perspective — however is quite different.

Read on…

An(other) Open Letter to Southend Odeon

ron woodroof

Dear Southend Odeon,

I’d like to open by saying that I am a fan. I love film, and I love cinema as a medium for experiencing it. Most often I pass through your doors at least once a week. But sadly, I don’t expect to be gracing your establishment this week.

Why? Three words:

Dallas Buyers Club.

Read on…