Revolution isn't easy

Spanking, mascara and a range of other thorny topics

Dear Marina,

Thought I'd ask for your assistance on tackling what I am sure will be a thorny issue over the next few weeks, that is being accused of suffering from a traditional Conservative pastime, I am led to believe, of taking a spanking. I am assured that all the best schools still appreciate this form of 'social education', never did me any harm and all that, but I am worried that the younger generations today lack the stiff upper lipishness to take it without blubbing. What is your advice on dealing with this situation?

Chin up dear gal, we shall overcome.

Yours,

Wurzel Fortesque-Smythe, 3rd Earl of Little Snodgrass.

I too Lord Snodgrass have recently been tainted by this pastime so beloved of that Spliffing Toff and his lackeys.

Oh sir! The anguish, the guilt, the turmoil. There was nothing I could do to stop them. Over the knees I went, my skirt pulled up unceremoniously, exposing my pert bare cheeks to the vagaries of their strike. Thwack! Thwack! And Thwack again!

Believe me sir, I implored them to stop, I fought hard to escape, but my squeals of protestation fell on deaf ears and the more I struggled, the harder they spanked. I stand before you, scarred, sir but an innocent party to this cheek drubbing. Our seats didn’t stand a chance.

When I have recovered enough to sit down I promise you sir I shall have my revenge on these Tories for their sadistic perversion of the democratic process.

In short sir, they so spanked the wrong peach bottom.

Dear Marina,

I come from four generations of coal miners, my first memory is of mum singing The Internationale and I have spent most of my adult life in Riffley WMC. My problem is that I am seriously thinking about getting into politics, considering the local election results do you think I should try and become a Tory councillor?

On the fence, Riffley

Are you really suggesting that if you can’t beat them you should join them? People like me didn’t lay down our political lives so that people who should know better swap sides for the enemy.

Please, either contact your local Liberal Democrats or go lie down in a darkened room until common sense prevails.

Dear Marina,

I have never been a fan of my local MP Tony Blair, and was very active in the anti-war protests - even burning an effigy of the man. But when I watched him in Sedgefield last night, I have to admit to shedding a tear or two. Am I strange or do, like me, most middle aged housewives secretly just want to hug him?

Homemaker, Sedgefield

Pull yourself together woman. This is the man who brought the Labour party to its knees, our country to war and rendered the NHS unstable and critical. Among other things.

I missed most of his speech yesterday owing to a sudden need to vomit in a bucket I had foresightedly placed beside me for that very purpose. So I cannot comment on yesterday’s performance.

But hug Tony Blair? He’s not some wayward toddler in need of love and attention, he’s a grown man with an ego the size of Mars and the morals of a Babylonian whore.

Now get yourself along to your doctor and ask him to prescribe Bromide incase we have a snap General Election and you’re tempted to vote for him.

Dear Marina,

Why do women always have to put mascara on with their mouths open?

GB, Downing St

Because, Gordie, it would smudge under the eyes, otherwise. Please, I know you’re trying to appeal to women, but this isn’t working. Please don’t ask me another. Oh, and expect a demonstration when you get to Brighton on Sunday. In 1997 you pledged to never let houseprices spiral out of control. Here in Brighty the boom – or should that be bubble - adds £74.00 to the value of a home, EVERY DAY!

I’m delighted you listened to me regarding ID cards. Review by all means, but don’t forget to cancel the order once you’ve rounded up the paper work But you must also concentrate on housing needs, otherwise it won’t be a peaceful revolution and you’ll be the first up against the wall with David Cameron wielding the Cat-o-nine-tails!

Dear Marina,

After the local elections has Ming “the vase” shattered his chances of leading the party at the next

GE

Some critics might argue as to whether the vase is half full or half empty. Some might even mix their metaphors to ask: “Is it half baked?” I would suggest, as does God, I believe, in the bible, that we should concentrate on the empty vessels that make the most noise (Corinthians). Ming’s deafening silence during the run up to the local elections, therefore, could be construed as proof positive that the vase overfloweth – with flowers of the revolution perhaps.

It would be helpful if he could hang on a bit as my road to parliament – and leadership -has been blocked by an unwelcome landslide but I’m digging myself out as fast as I can. For as sure as Ming’s dynastic reign must come to an end, so surely must come the revolution. Viva Ming! Viva the revolution. Viva my parliamentary campaign which is already accepting donations to the usual address.

Dear Marina

This is just to say sorry about your election result last week. I'm in
the Green Party and I'm always surprised at your choice of party but we
need all the active original politicians we can get. Good courageous
stuff about the war too! Perhaps East Saltdean isn't the best place to
start the revolution but I hope you will find other ways to continue to
be active.

In solidarity,

Chris Smith, Lewes

Revolutions begin with like-minded individuals grouping together for strength and working together for change. Whether it’s a gradual change “in due course” or fast and radical, depends on the revolution.

I disagree that East Saltdean is an unsuitable locale for revolutionary zest. Let’s face it, if I can get my Tory voting neighbours to go green (small ‘g’ OBVIOUSLY!), through education and empowerment I sincerely believe our success could be replicated anywhere!

I can’t answer for our newly elected Conservative Councillors though. What a bunch of ….. No I promised myself to reclaim the ideology associated with that particular anatomical reference as a positive for womankind . . .

But as I’ve often said: if you’re blue and you want to go green, you need yellow. I still have my town council seat. I shall use this minute, almost homeopathic, dose of Liberal Democracy to heal my people of their moment of madness. I shall happily square up to the henchmen of the Spliffing Toff sitting across the council chamber. I shall work harder than ever to prepare my community for change.

Come the next General Election I will do all in my power to squeeze the shit out of the Conservative vote to ensure our constituents are protected from the prospect of a millionaire Tory from out of town being returned to parliament as our MP.

Regarding your surprise at my choice of political party, it really is a no brainer. As a practitioner of community politics I find Liberal Democrat policies practical to implement and highly effective, particularly in the area of crime reduction.

If I had my way I’d have the Greens absorbed into the Liberal Democrats. It wouldn’t necessarily enhance our green credentials, as we’re already doing that for ourselves. It would however stop you lot running round like anarchists standing for election wherever you fancy, splitting the vote and delivering the Conservatives to office.

Perhaps the Greens secretly hanker for a Tory government in the hopes that a dictatorial regime in the spirit of Thatcher might wave the flag for green fascism.

Thank you for supporting my anti-war protest, as did many old soldiers at the reunion dinner of the Royal Sussex Regiment to which I was invited as a guest and after dinner speaker. All I said was “as a future leader I pledge never to take this great army of ours into an illegal war.” I cannot apologise for the furore, as I never mentioned Iraq. But at least we know now that those soldiers present from the Princess of Wales regiment, who led the booing, recognise the invasion of Iraq as illegal. Now they and the press who turned against me, just need convincing that it is the Emperor who is naked and in need of a new outfit, not the “small boy” who is wrong and deserving of punishment.

No one said the revolution was going to be easy…

Marina Pepper is a former glamour model turned journalist, author, eco-campaigner and Lib Dem politician. A councillor and former Parliamentary candidate, she lives near Brighton with her two children.
Why not e-mail your problems to askmarina@newstatesman.co.uk?
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Inside a shaken city: "I just want to be anywhere that’s not Manchester”

The morning after the bombing of the Manchester Arena has left the city's residents jumpy.

On Tuesday morning, the streets in Manchester city centre were eerily silent.

The commuter hub of Victoria Station - which backs onto the arena - was closed as police combed the area for clues, and despite Mayor Andy Burnham’s line of "business as usual", it looked like people were staying away.

Manchester Arena is the second largest indoor concert venue in Europe. With a capacity crowd of 18,000, on Monday night the venue was packed with young people from around the country - at least 22 of whom will never come home. At around 10.33pm, a suicide bomber detonated his device near the exit. Among the dead was an eight-year-old girl. Many more victims remain in hospital. 

Those Mancunians who were not alerted by the sirens woke to the news of their city's worst terrorist attack. Still, as the day went on, the city’s hubbub soon returned and, by lunchtime, there were shoppers and workers milling around Exchange Square and the town hall.

Tourists snapped images of the Albert Square building in the sunshine, and some even asked police for photographs like any other day.

But throughout the morning there were rumours and speculation about further incidents - the Arndale Centre was closed for a period after 11.40am while swathes of police descended, shutting off the main city centre thoroughfare of Market Street.

Corporation Street - closed off at Exchange Square - was at the centre of the city’s IRA blast. A postbox which survived the 1996 bombing stood in the foreground while officers stood guard, police tape fluttering around cordoned-off spaces.

It’s true that the streets of Manchester have known horror before, but not like this.

I spoke to students Beth and Melissa who were in the bustling centre when they saw people running from two different directions.

They vanished and ducked into River Island, when an alert came over the tannoy, and a staff member herded them through the back door onto the street.

“There were so many police stood outside the Arndale, it was so frightening,” Melissa told me.

“We thought it will be fine, it’ll be safe after last night. There were police everywhere walking in, and we felt like it would be fine.”

Beth said that they had planned a day of shopping, and weren’t put off by the attack.

“We heard about the arena this morning but we decided to come into the city, we were watching it all these morning, but you can’t let this stop you.”

They remembered the 1996 Arndale bombing, but added: “we were too young to really understand”.

And even now they’re older, they still did not really understand what had happened to the city.

“Theres nowhere to go, where’s safe? I just want to go home,” Melissa said. “I just want to be anywhere that’s not Manchester.”

Manchester has seen this sort of thing before - but so long ago that the stunned city dwellers are at a loss. In a city which feels under siege, no one is quite sure how anyone can keep us safe from an unknown threat

“We saw armed police on the streets - there were loads just then," Melissa said. "I trust them to keep us safe.”

But other observers were less comforted by the sign of firearms.

Ben, who I encountered standing outside an office block on Corporation Street watching the police, was not too forthcoming, except to say “They don’t know what they’re looking for, do they?” as I passed.

The spirit of the city is often invoked, and ahead of a vigil tonight in Albert Square, there will be solidarity and strength from the capital of the North.

But the community values which Mancunians hold dear are shaken to the core by what has happened here.

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