General rants

Me venting my spleen over any manner of things.

A long overdue return

I trace my fingers along the desk, carving ruts into the dust that has built up over the months. The chair, as I settle down into it, feels wearily familiar. The dust dances off the keyboard as I scrape the edge of my hand over it, revealing keys that my fingers still remember. A single thought bubbles up through my mind.

It’s good to be back…

A Mad Man with a Blog’s top five posts of 2015

2015 wordpress summary

5. Kipperwatch! Southend UKIP PPC expelled from UKIP council group

In which I break the news that UKIP’s parliamentary candidate for Rochford & Southend East has been kicked out of the UKIP council group.

4. On Jon Fuller, and the Green Party in Southend

In which I look at the policies, behaviour, and motivations of the Green Party’s 2015 candidate for Southend West, Jon Fuller.

3. Southend-on-Sea local election candidates 2015

In which I publish the full list of nominated candidates for the 2015 local elections in Southend-on-Sea.

2. Green Party ‘trade unionist’ PPC “doesn’t need to join a union”

In which I look at the rather odd contradiction of Southend Green Party’s parliamentary candidate, Simon Cross, whose support for trade unions doesn’t stretch to being a member of one.

1. Here’s why no one in the creative industries should vote Green

In which I explain why Green Party policy on copyright would irreparably damage the creative industries in the UK.

Attack of the (Twitter) Clones

send in the clones

Twitter is a weird place, sometimes.

A while back an account cropped up with my name on it, my profile picture, following a lot of folks who I follow/follow me, but which definitely wasn’t me. It hung around for a while, until I was deeply weirded out, a number of people had commented upon the oddity, and it had been reported a number of times over. And then it was gone.

Which would have been strange enough, but to make this a little more Twilight Zone, the last week has seen two more of these things appear. The first tweeted a stream of Russian gibberish before going the way of the dinosaurs (Extinction, not evolving into birds… -Ed). The latest is just sitting there, watching me.

I don’t know what’s going on. It’s a weird mix of creepy and intriguing at the moment, and I’m wondering if I’m about to be replaced by social media body snatchers, or if we’re in for a Chronicles of Riddick moment where they all kneel before me and I use them as an army to take over the world.

Hopefully the latter.

More likely the former.

(I, for one, welcome our new spambot overlords -Ed)

But for the moment, accept no imitations. Check the Twitter handle and what language the account is tweeting in. My Russian, I have to say, is incredibly rusty.

A saga of a spambot – a conclusion, but no answers…

user suspended

Last week I blogged about the strange Twitter account that had appeared, with my profile picture, my screen name, and following a good deal of my own followers, to the cause of no small confusion.

Well, sinister as that little development was, it appears to be over. The account is now suspended, following a report to Twitter by myself and some other kind persons. I’m relieved, yes, but also a little disappointed. There is absolutely no closure. I don’t know what it was planning, who was behind it, what in the hell it was.

Somewhere out there, my social media nemesis waits, plotting, scheming, waiting for it’s chance for revenge. Or maybe not. We’ll see.

So apparently I have a clone…

twitter impersonator

So this is a bit weird…

The other day I had a sudden glut of concerned messages about my Twitter account potentially being hacked. It wasn’t, you’ll be pleased to hear, but the truth is looking profoundly stranger.

You see, apparently I have a double. Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, I’m not sure whether to be pleased or upset. I’m leaning towards the latter.

So what looks like a spam account has duplicated my name (though not the handle, that remains me), my profile picture, and has set about following a whole bunch of the people who follow me. More than a few of whom have contacted me to ask what it’s all about.

The answer? I’ve not got a clue.

Seriously, it hasn’t tweeted, it hasn’t moved, it hasn’t done anything. It’s just sat there. Watching me. Waiting.

I’ve reported it to Twitter, but it seems to be a slow process. In the meantime, make sure that you’re following the real, genuine, honest-to-god, accept-no-imitations Mad Man with a Blog, @MatthewSDent.

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.