Thursday, 28 March 2013

Random musings

Regular readers (if any) may wish to click away now!

I usually have a topic for a blog but just need some written therapy tonight, it's been a long week yet again but a very interesting one at that.
I was deeply honoured to interview a victim of a horrid sex assault on Monday, she waived her right to anonymity to highlight what happened to her. While her story was shocking, her bravery was amazing - humbling to be in her presence.
The normal council buzz has followed, while tiring I have to say the hustle and bustle of political reporting has to be my favourite part of the job, especially with elections just around the corner.
What did upset me somewhat were 30 youngsters from Worcester Swimming Club turned up to hear the councillors debate the proposed new swiming pool for the city only to have to leave because the previous debate dragged on so long.
As I said on Twitter on Tuesday night, in an era where we struggle to get people into politics, things like that won't help. I will add again this is not a criticism of any city councillors at all, just a comment on the unfortunate turn of events.
We deadlined today and I feel wore out and in need of a break but tired from a packed week of events.
But still as I sat watching TV tonight, I realised I still feel very lucky to be doing a job I love and can't imagine doing anything else!
Overall, this Easter has me feeling a bit reflective but very thankful I own my own home, have a wonderful marriage to a very lovely wife and have two parents who care for me deeply.
I am a lucky boy and I am very thankful for that fact. I don't know what will happen in the future and that for me is very exciting.
Taking a break for a few days, getting away from a computer and my mobile phone!!!
Have a lovely Easter everyone!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Miliband's departure a sad end in the battle of the brothers

David Miliband's departure from politics to take up a high-profile charity post in the United States is a great loss both for UK politics and for the Labour party.

It also marks a sad end for the Miliband brothers following Ed's decision to first stand for the leadership then succeed at the expense of his older brother.

Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre's excellent biography of Ed lays bare the strife caused by Ed's
candidacy and eventual victory. One can only hope time has been a healer and these two loving brothers can again be as close as they once clearly were.

David could have believed he was the heir apparent and Ed should have deferred to him but I hope in time he will realise the party needed a leadership election.

Gordon Brown's election as leader in 2007 after the departure of Tony Blair was a disaster for Labour and with the electorate as he inherited the job of Prime Minister, a right which belongs to the voters not politicians.

His best chance to become leader was then, no other person in the party would have joined the race, especially not Ed who at the time had only been an MP for two years.

A lot will be written about David's departure but, having met and interviewed him in my professional life, I can say there was no one more dedicated into reviving a battered Labour party than him.

It would have been very easy for David to have slunk onto the backbenches, voiced disapproval at his brother's handling of the party and briefed against him.

Instead, whether for selfish means or not, he toured the country, talking to people and acknowledged where Labour went wrong.

Warm and charming to local journalists like myself, David had all the characteristics of Blair and while his brother's victory rankled with him, he never once showed it.

Maybe he should have accepted a job working in his brother's shadow cabinet but ask yourself this, could you easily accept a position when you had been dreaming about the top job? I don't think I could.

Ed's tribute to David suggests relations have thawed between the pair and perhaps David may yet return to politics in the future?

But for now David has new challenges and so does Ed, expect the Tories to perhaps accuse Ed of forcing his brother out of the party......

In response, Ed now needs to reach out to any remaining Blairites who believed in David and plead for unity, that way perhaps the battle of the brothers can be laid to rest once and for all.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Derek Watkins 1945-2013, The Master Trumpeter

The Professor of the Trumpet, the man who worked with them all, who played on EVERY Bond film and a thoroughly nice bloke has passed away.

Derek Watkins is the latest wonderfully talented musician to be called to the great music room in the sky but leaves behind many memories for many to cherish.

Derek was a Professor of Trumpet but never needed to display any certificate - one solo of MacArthur Park or My Way told you all you needed to know about his credentials.

He worked with some of the greats such as Frank Sinatra, the Beatles and Robbie Williams but perhaps his greatest work was in two very different genres.

Derek played on EVERY James Bond film, from Dr No as a 17-year-old in 1962 right up until the smash hit Skyfall late last year.

He was also a very well-known and popular trumpet player in the James Last Orchestra, the place I first heard the wonderful sounds of the trumpet in general.

Derek and fellow trumpeter Bob Lanese were my idols in an era before football and cricket won my affections, even when those sports did I remember the music they could create.

An accomplished soloist, Derek took centre stage during James Last concerts around the world and delivered performances which made your hair stand on end and moved you sometimes to tears.

If he was nervous he never showed it as he delivered a rendition of Frank Sinatra’s My Way to a packed Royal Albert Hall.

But then, I doubt he would have ever shown it because Derek was a showman, a master of his art who looked thrilled to be able to share his skill each and every day.

I’ve written 300 words and haven’t mentioned his numerous TV appearances! Quite simply there are too many to mention.

But if there was a live band on a TV show in the 70s, 80s, 90s and noughties, there is a good chance one D.Watkins would be in it.

Younger readers of this blog might also mention a Sky TV commercial in 2010 featuring Derek, walking across Abbey Road, made famous by a band he played with, the Beatles. Derek wouldn’t be out of place in any iconic music venue or location, he was simply one of the best.

Please honour him this weekend and next week, all you have to do is get on YouTube, type in Derek Watkins and there are hundreds of videos to watch, listen to and enjoy.

If you want to learn more about Derek, visit his website – there is much to discover.

Derek I have tears in my eyes as I write this, a genuinely lovely and talented man has again been claimed by a cruel, cruel illness.

Your trumpet may have been silenced sir, but your memory will never be forgotten. Thank you for the music Derek, may you be at peace

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Was the Budget the last act of the #downgradedchancellor?

Lots has already written and said about the budget and in truth the gifts were all George Osborne could afford under his economic strategy.

But why then did it feel like one of the last budgets from the #downgradedchancellor and from this coalition Government?

Ed Miliband's response had no detail, no ideas and amounted to nothing more than sheer mockery of Her Majesty's Government.

But it was just the right response, the Tory line that Labour is offering no ideas is a trap to elicit something from Labour which they could then implement.

So rather than share his ideas, Ed reached for the classic political tactic of simply going after the Government and blunted almost every attack they can and have made against the opposition.

It was a mode of attack successfully deployed at certain occasions by one Tony Blair to highlight a shambolic and dying Conservative Government under John was the line 'Britain deserves Better.'

It was nothing more than bullying but my god did it work, in just over three minutes he ridiculed the Government, its policies and every attack line thrown at him in the past three years.

“He's the wrong man, in the wrong place, at the worst possible time for the county,” Miliband's most personal attack ever could quite easily turn into Osborne's political epitaph.

But my most favourite line was reserved for the Prime Minister: “The Prime Minister says from a sedentary position, borrow more, you are borrowing more!”.

Not only highlighted the Tories attack on Labour's plan to borrow more was deeply flawed (because they are borrowing as well) but highlighted that once again Cameron was sitting down on the job.

A revival of 'chillaxing' debacle anyone?

Truth be told yet again Conservative planning was not the best, putting Osborne on Twitter on the day of the budget was a stratospheric own-goal. And it gave rise to the #downgradedchancellor line for Ed Miliband.

Even then the Tories made it worse, their response after the budget was to print leaflets with a message, meanwhile #downgradedchancellor was trending both in the UK and worldwide.

There is not a lot in the budget to cheer, the 1p off beer duty looks good but is such a old trick a new dog would turn it's nose up.

The £130billion set aside in loans to get people on the housing ladder is an accident waiting to happen.

Perhaps it could have been ploughed into the biggest house building project the UK had ever seen?

Where Osborne deserves huge credit is making the income tax threshold of £10,000 work, yes its Lib Dem policy and we should applaud them but it's a chancellor's job to budget for it.

Sadly for him it may get lost among any u-turns and squabbling but why should that surprise us, this coalition has had some good ideas, but its way of getting them across is woeful.

And that could cost Osborne in the end, a recent ComRes poll shows his ideas are beginning to be less popular than Ed Balls's thoughts.

If the public start to believe in Labour's medicine for the sick UK patient then the Tories really are #ontheirwayout

Monday, 18 March 2013

Charter or regulation, whatever you call it, it’s an insult

This won’t be liked by many, I will be called a ‘whiney journalist’ (courtesy my very own troll) but if standing up against an attack from people with vested interests is wrong, sue me!

And after today’s charter that’s what I and probably a number of bloggers will face as all ‘news-based’ material is coming under attack under the Royal Charter-that-isn’t-statutory-regulation-but- oh-its-underpinned-by-it-if-you-look-hard-enough!

Put simply, it’s a solution to a problem which has not yet been defined (thanks to @davidallengreen) and doesn’t deal with the true problem – true punishment for those who truly plumbed the depths all for a front page.

What went on with phone-hacking and other dark, dirty, moments was wrong and yes downright evil but legislation like this motivated by Hacked Off, a bunch of rich celebrities who want draconian privacy laws, solves nothing.

Don’t believe the lies being spread, Hacked Off don’t represent the true victims, the Dowler’s, the McCann’s, the Chris Jeffries of this world. They represent the like of Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan and Charlotte Church.

People who court publicity one minute complain the next. Under oath in a court of law Miss Church admitted she did deals with Rupert Murdoch, such as singing at his wedding, in exchange for good publicity!

Not only does my blood boil that Hacked Off virtually pressured Labour and the Lib Dems and later the Tories into making a deal but that our elected representatives fell so easily.

How dare Hugh Grant dictate how we regulate the press, how dare they issue press releases virtually condemning political parties!

I look at their reprehensible actions and think of a group of people, the families of the 96 people who went to a football match in 1989 and never came back.

The Hillsborough families never needed celebrity, they acted with dignity in their fight for the truth, they met, met, met politicians and stated their case until eventually action began to be taken.

And when the true horror of what happened was revealed, did they demand and threaten, no they simply stated the truth had been revealed, leading to a certain national newspaper to offer its apologies once again.

I admire them greatly, I admire the Dowler’s, I cannot admire people like Hugh Grant – if Hacked Off is such an upstanding institution then why won’t it name the people funding it?

So what would I do, well some of the punishments being suggested by this sham are correct, huge fines and prominent apologies. But a Royal Charter – problem is that suggests legislation of a free press and I don’t know if Hacked Off have done their research, but phone hacking....already illegal.

From the outset I have said the industry needs a steroid infused PCC, butch and bulky and packs a punch to those who err.

Instead of the current code which was set up to deal with complaints (hence Press COMPLAINTS Commission) we need a code of practice with laws, not guidelines – laws.

Hack a phone? Boom instant dismissal, fine for paper AND proprietor. Defame, libel an innocent man who has been arrested (Google the Chris Jeffries case) and fines, sackings the lot.

By fine I mean, millions and millions of pounds – won’t work? Oh believe me it will.

But most importantly, the board of my new regulator should have (but not chaired by) a serving editor of a tabloid and one of a broadsheet, a member of Parliament and ordinary people who have been wronged. I couldn’t do wrong sitting opposite Bob and Sally Dowler, could you?

Free speech needs to be protected, injustice needs to be exposed, but in the correct ways, not through invasions of privacy.

This Royal Charter does nothing to tackle the cancer still within the industry, just make it harder for the press to report on wrong-doing.

We have a genuinely free press, we have a genuine free democracy and the power still lies with the consumer. If you don’t like a newspaper, don’t buy it!

Don’t blame the referees – help them

Callum McManaman’s awful challenge on Massadio Ha├»dara on Sunday once again brought its predictable headlines because the referee didn’t send him off.

What I haven’t seen a lot of is the fact Mark Halsey didn’t exactly have the greatest view of the incident because a player ran across his path.

The linesman saw nothing so left with a player lying on the ground screaming in sheer agony, Halsey had two choices; guess it was the awful challenge it was and send McManaman off, knowing Haidara could have caught his studs in the turf.

Or let it pass because he hadn’t seen it and take the ramifications at half-time and after the game, which is what he rightfully did.

If a referee or his assistant doesn’t see something, football does not need them to guess! I hope McManaman gets a retrospective ban because, malicious or not, there is no place for tackles like that.

However, it got me thinking, what if Mark Halsey had an official in the stand in front of a monitor who he could communicate with, a TV referee?

What’s wrong with Halsey, one of the best referees we have in the Premier League, stopping play and while getting Haidara the medical treatment he needed speaking to the TV referee? The play has already been stopped!

What’s wrong with him asking for a replay because he couldn’t see the tackle which left Haidara screaming in pain?

Within seconds, an official will see the replay and tell him red card, Wigan are punished, Newcastle while losing their player to injury feel justice has been served and the game can pan out to a natural conclusion.

Where’s the harm in allowing an official to sit, on the gantry away from fans with a monitor to provide the answer when the referee just isn’t sure?

This is not goal-line technology, this is a double check like in rugby union, encourage the referees to get it right first time but if they are unsure, give them the fallback.

Yes it will delay the game, it has to, but when prices are in excess of £40, £50 and £60 for a Premier League game, shouldn’t we reward fans with the correct decisions?

Like them or loathe them, referee’s are human – ask yourself this, given one look at it, would you make the right decision everytime?

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Is Cameron preparing a snap election?

Bear with me, I know it sounds daft but in the past hour I have seen a few things which make me think our Prime Minister is preparing the biggest gamble of his premiership.

The Daily Mail's front page tomorrow re the vote in Parliament on press reform on Monday. Usual Daily Fail fare apart the words “Hung Parliament”, a phrase uttered by Mr Cameron during his press conference after talks on Leveson broke down.

Now political experts will no doubt correct me but I cannot remember the PM using those words since the 2010 General Election campaign as a warning against what the voters ultimately delivered.

A warning to the Liberal Democrats to behave in Parliament and back their coalition partners or the first salvo in a remarkable election campaign?

Cameron insists no further talks will take place before the Commons vote, the Liberal Democrats and Labour both want to talk. Surely a coalition PM knows its good to talk?

Yes I know we have fixed term parliaments now but look closer, two thirds or around 430 of the 650 MPs have to approve a vote of no confidence in the Government.

Labour's 255 would vote, maybe 57 Liberal Democrats would and with Plaid, Northern Irish, Scottish, Independents and a certain Mr Galloway, only around 75-80 Tories may be needed to trigger an election.

Cameron could trigger the no confidence motion, lose the vote on press reform due to Clegg siding with Ed Miliband, blame those two and call a vote knowing a lot of newspaper editors would still be behind him.

It would be the ultimate gamble as defeat would see the party inevitably part company with him but could deliver a Conservative Government, not coalition.

And what better way to quell the backbenchers than to remove the Liberal Democrat problem?

It would also take all the focus off the looming budget on Wednesday (March 20) as many of the Chancellor's policies would be virtually worthless.

Heck, planned right it could be a giveaway budget to sweeten the electorate? Never bad to bribe the voters!
There's also been a huge number of tweets from party chairman Grant Shapps/Michael Green congratulating newly selected PPC's for the party in recent weeks....

I could be barking mad, I realise that but the ultimate PR merchant has to know next week's headlines won't be very good....

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Australia's Ashes hopes could soon turn to dust

The farcical nature of Shane Watson's departure from Australia's tour of India shows just how far the once-unbeatable country has fallen.

Watson, James Pattinson, Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Johnson were dropped from the third test on Thursday after.....failing to come up with a powerpoint presentation when asked.

Now in the grand scheme of things, it's hardly getting bladdered the night before a test match or being verbally abusive or aggressive to hotel staff.

Coach Mickey Arthur and captain Michael Clarke have set a hugely dangerous example here and potentially carved a huge hole right through the middle of the dressing room.

Having flown home, if Watson now jacks in test match cricket then others may follow and an us and them attitude could be born ahead of the country's most important test series, the Ashes.

There is clearly more to it than the four not delivering a presentation on how they can do better, clearly this is the straw that broke the camel's back.

But to discipline so heavily during the middle of a tough tour where Australia are getting their backsides handed to them is massively bad man-management.

If Arthur and Clarke have an issue, get the tour out the way and then when at home, sort it out and if necessary, drop them from the tour of England.

The incident brings to mind England's tour of India which was dominated by the 're-intergration' of Kevin Pietersen, hardly the best place to re-build bridges!

But where England succeeded was if there were problems, they were not aired in public during the series – all we the mere fans saw were KP hitting the ball very hard, lots of hugging of bowlers and public applause
for team mates reaching centuries.

England 1-0 Australia then, but what should be more worrying than that for the Aussies is how far behind the
times they fell.

Do you really think everyone got on with Mark Taylor, with Steven Waugh with Ponting? No!

Do you really think players like Shane Warne got on with coaches like John Buchanan? No!

The difference is though in those days the coach knew the value of the players and rollockings would be left until after a tour or series.

If a row did take place then it was kept behind closed doors because the Australia teams of the past were cocky, arrogant but most importantly SHOWED NO WEAKNESS.

India must be rubbing their hands with glee at this news and if I were Cook and Flower I would be taking a keen interest in these matters.

Because when the Ashes begin in four months time, it won't hurt for eleven Englishmen to demonstrate how united they are and remind 'Pup' Clarke of his troubles.

Hell it might even bring his batting average down, which again wouldn't be a bad thing.....

Monday, 11 March 2013

Benitez braves the boo-boys

I don't get it, Benitez (a football manager) takes a job offered by a chairman/owner and then is universally hated for it. 
Chelsea fans won't even give him credit for turning round what could have been a catastrophic mauling at Old Trafford in the FA Cup this weekend.
Listening to TalkSport on my drive home I was still staggered to hear the real anger towards Benitez.
What I can't understand is why the fans are not turning on Abramovich, Gourlay and Buck, the triumvirate who dismissed Roberto Di Matteo in December - seven months after he won the Champions League.
We've all been told Abramovich craved Champions League glory above all else, so it was bizarre that the manager who delivered it was given the bullet.
But Benitez didn't ask for Di Matteo to be sacked, there was no Machiavellian plot to oust the likeable Italian just a football manager saying yes when offered a vacant post.
But results haven't been brilliant and Benitez gets total blame, understandable but if the fans are pining for Di Matteo then why not have a pop at the board.
Is it because they deep down know they have sold their soul, that if Abramovich gets bored one day and walks off he leaves a trail of destruction behind?
The Russian has brought oodles of success and trophies to Chelsea but in the past few years his judgement has been awful. AVB was brought in to revamp the squad and fired when the players complained, wonder what happened to him???
Di Matteo came in, scored huge success for a caretaker and got the gig full time. But when the defence of the trophy went to the pictures and he dared to drop the misfiring Torres, he was sent down the Kings Road.
Guardiola was the target but he could see how crazy the situation was and chosen then Bayern buck instead.
And after Benitez's terminated his own employment by the summer with his rant after the Middlesborough game, Abramovich now has a choice.
Does he carry on with the hiring/firing game he seems to have enjoyed or pick a manager, back him with billions and see the trophies roll in?
If its the first then good luck to the next guy, if it's the second then may I politely suggest a quick phone call to J.Mourinho, I think you can find him in Madrid till May....

Sluggish England need an earlier alarm call

So England secured a draw in the first test against New Zealand with centuries for the openers, Captain Marvel (Cook) and a first in test cricket for Nick Compton.
But after being bowled out for a pathetic 167 on day two the second best team in world cricket were behind the game from the very start.
Truth is England were lucky the pitch had even less life than than the Atacama desert otherwise Cook's men could have been rather embarrassed.
A flat pitch saw centuries for the openers and 50s for Finn and Trott meaning England head to Wellington only really worrying about Kevin Pietersen's batting form.
Bowling wise Anderson and Finn look sharp and Broad is coming back to form. A little more help from the pitch will see Panesar be more of a threat in the second test.
But the first test once again showed England's biggest failing as a team at the moment, starting a series too slowly.
India late last year, South Africa last summer and Sri Lanka the winter before saw England turn up late and lose the first test.
The historic Ashes winning trip down under also saw England rolled over for 279 on day one. But hey, we'll forget that because of the rather good cricket that followed eh?
This is not a critical piece, England a very good cricket team and the efforts in the second innings showed the very capable batsmen in their midst.
But the challenge for team director Andy Flower and captain Cook is to get the team firing from the first ball on day one of the first test, not fighting back in the second test or hanging on in the first.
England were complacent in this test, they believed the hype that the Kiwis were in disarray - sacked the captain, coach not very well liked et al.
I have no doubt they will take the test series 2-0 and probably do the same when New Zealand make the long journey here in May.
But if England are still in their beds come day one of the Ashes in July you can be certain Michael Clarke's band of brothers will take full advantage.
Time to wake up and smell the leather a bit earlier chaps!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Tory coup d’etat will cost them dear

The vultures are circling, the Prime Minister has allegedly been ‘put on notice’ and the familiar ‘coup, what coup’ articles are appearing.
Yes folks the Conservative Party is thinking about knifing its leader again after the party’s third place in Eastleigh.
This attempt against the PM is already in the public domain thanks to Adam Afriyie’s somewhat clumsy effort last month.
While that particular part of the playbook might not be replayed, have no fear that plots are being plotted and backs are about to be stabbed.
It’s said that another ‘omnishambles’ budget will spell the end of Osborne, Cameron’s right-hand man and an influential member of the Tory top table.
Tory backbenchers want to put ‘money in people’s pockets’ in a desperate bid to revive an economy is in such a slumber it has missed all of its alarm calls.
But Osborne won’t move from Plan A nor apparently consider Plan A* which means they are unlikely to get their wish.
If the Chancellor ever needed to produce the biggest economic rabbit from his magic hat then March 20 would be the day because in truth the only thing to save both men would be an economic recovery.
No growth between now and 2015 could see the vultures claim their pray, if they don’t then the electorate will probably do the job and cost Cameron in the process.
Tories are hurting, cheesed off with a Conservative PM who keeps listening to his Lib Dem deputy and doesn’t promote the traditional party lines.
Backbenchers also see that without changing course, the economy and Government will soon have new drivers in through the backdoor - Ed Miliband and Ed Balls.
It’s precisely that reason why the Tories should re-sheath their knives and go hell for leather against Labour until 2015. Major was doomed in 1997, Blair spoke a language the UK wanted to hear – at the moment, Ed Miliband is still whispering.
That is the Tories biggest weapon, uncertainty. Yes the economy is bad, yes you might blame the Tories but are you sure you can put the country back in the hands of Ed M and Ed B?
It’s a huge risk, especially if Miliband took the gamble of his life and brought back Alistair Darling as shadow chancellor, but it could just be enough.
A party bloodshed now between the Cameroons (vulgar term) and the traditional elements of the party serves no purpose.
If Cameron was felled we would be back in 2007 with a Prime Minister unelected by the nation, he/she could ride the criticism until 2015 in the hope of winning – worked well for Brown didn’t it?
If Cameron survived, the bitter blood could result in even more Commons rebellions meaning the country simply ground to a halt.
Tories would be advised to hold firm, because if the green shoots of recovery begin to sprout in late 2014, the shape of the next General Election would change radically.

Friday, 1 March 2013

After Eastleigh....

I wasn't going to blog again on Eastleigh but turns out the result was only the start of the fun....

First of all, congratulations to the Liberal Democrats, I don't think I have ever seen a party trip over and fall into a by-election, let alone then win it!

But win they did, Mike Thornton appears to be a gentleman and good luck to him at Westminster. Next time though guys and girls, try not to heap pressure on your local candidate hey?

For Labour it wasn't great but when you start 19,000 votes behind you kinda need a miracle. The lesson for Ed Miliband from Eastleigh is simple, sometimes it's better to stand and watch than get embroiled in a scrap.

However, one victory for the Labour leader was the battle of the sound-bites on the television news. Miliband was contrite, we have more work to do and we know that while the Prime Minister was rather angry.

David Cameron cannot do firm, Blair could, when Cameron does firm out comes the bad-tempered ’Flashman’ character Labour love to bring out in him.

Another problem for the PM is he appears to have labelled the votes for UKIP as a ’protest’. That, together with the other somewhat naughty comments made by the PM about UKIP in recent months, will cause him a headache.

Both issues will fan the flames of what i have already described as a potential un-needed rebellion against the Prime Minister.

Cameron's miffed act won't stop murmurings from back-benchers who want a ’Conservative’ government not this hybrid administration.

But his failure to acknowledge UKIP could finish him, the party wants what a lot of Tories want, out of the EU or at the very least, a seat on the sidelines.

However instead of trying to tailor his Government's message to blunt UKIP, Cameron seems hell-bent on dismissing the party, ignoring the fact the Tories are, and will continue to, haemorrhage votes to Farage's men and women.

All of which will encourage his plotters to increasingly talk of rebellion and all-out war. 

But they and Cameron need to remember, Eastleigh was lost because of a candidate who polarised opinion, not because of the party.
The Tories don't want Labour to just walk back into Downing Street, a needless war now could make that ’horror’ a living reality.