A million love SONGZ later…

Laying on a sun bed next to the ocean is the best way to relax in the world I guess. I certainly needed the break. Gave me an opportunity to catch up with some old friends on my daughters I pod that she lent me for the week. Otis Redding, Bob Marley etc…. relax the brain while the sun relaxes the body….

Then all too soon it was back on the plane and back to bedlam… The music and the sunshine so long ago it seems already to be a distant memory.. And now we have a little event with American R&B star, Trey Songz at City Hall this evening.. It is being called a night of “youth empowerment” where the star will engage with our young ambassadors from across London with topical debate mixed with some entertainment from SOLA youngsters.. Neat little event which I really hope our young people will enjoy… It is being broadcast on BET in America so big platform for our young ambassadors which is cool.

I will write more about the experience in my next blog -… For now though my memories of Egypt are slightly blurred as I spent much of the time sleeping! The joy of the outcome with the toppling of their dictator President was very evident .. I was shocked to find that the country is so poor that almost 50% of the population cannot read or write in their own language.. Let us hope the new deocratic process being promised the people can actually deliver and in doing so find a better way of distributing wealth in the country…


Now then…. Barclays Bank and Christine Ohorougu …. this job might be challenging but nobody can say it is not interesting!!


Walking like an Egyptian!

Just preparing to fly off for first break in 18 months. Two Spirit of London Award events and a whole lot of stress related business with running the Damilola Taylor Trust in between. Totally shattered! So Egypt here I come. Let’s not get into how this has come to pass but I am informed by the Foriegn Office that the Red Sea resort is not faced with anarchy right at the moment!

Happy to see that common sense has prevailed with the MP’s vote on whether Prisoners should be able to vote or not. The obscene bloke who hacked his landlady to death but thinks murderers dont get enough respect must be gutted. Shame, he seemed so made up that he had taken on the Government and won. He had even found time to rant about Brooke in the paper. Not sure why the media allow scum like this the chance to put the boot into decent innocent people the way they do.. Or maybe I am.. This perhaps is the real shame!

Anyway, seeing the demented warped imbecile on the TV got me thinking about the time I was sat next to Richard Taylor in the radio studio on the Jon Gaunt show. Gauntey asked Richard if there was one thing he would change to the system to deter violence and murder what would it be. Bring back the death penalty he said very calmly. Unlike 97% of Sun readers who immediately started sending in their support I did not agree. But you know maybe if it were to stop scum like this John Hirst from being able to degrade society by breathing the same air as the rest of us perhaps it is not such a bad idea after all.

I will be looking forward to relaxing and recharging my batteries next week and maybe read the old overseas version of the current bun to see what is going on back here. This commons select committee investigating football Governance at the moment promises to be a laugh a minute. See dear old Lord Triesman the ex Chairman of the FA was one of the first up. Seems he feels the Premier league holds too much power and is only interested in its own agenda to the detriment of the England team. What a shock. His next revelations will be that black clouds turn to rain and maybe even that Bears shit in the woods!

Thing is with the Premier League… It was built on the graves of 96 football fans whose families have still never seen justice for what happened to their loved ones… This is a fact by the way. A sad and terribly ironic fact but still a fact.

The funniest quote I have read this week was attributed to an official of Barcelona football club. He was responding to a question as to why his club had not outbid Chelsea for Fernando Torres. He could have just said “because Torres is a sad, burned out shadow of the player he once was” of course but instead he said “people have to look after budgets as  if they were bed blankets – if you pull them up to the chin you still need to be careful to keep your feet warm!”…… So.. my final thought of the week is… Must be a lot of warm tootsies in the Coalition at the moment!!

Camel for Gary!

Always look on the bright side of life….

Many young people today will maybe not remember the classic monty python film “Life of Brian” – A religious parody that caused uproar in its time. The python team did irony better than most of the stand up comedians of today. Brian was a very naughty boy but he was not the Messiah – That in essence is the synopsis of the film. Oh yes and the common people were being persecuted by the ruling class!!!!

I could not help but start whistling the famous theme song to myself this morning as I read an email from one of our youth management board who was seeking my help. He is trying to protest against the 75% cuts to youth services in his London Borough of Haringey. Just recently Mayor Boris Johnston visited a youth club in the area and signed a petition promising support. They have heard nothing back and the young man was looking to see if I could put him directly in touch with the Mayor.

As I am writing this blog I am of the understanding that Lambeth Council is slashing youth services by up to 60% and that Southwark is cutting a similar percentage.

The Boroughs have been put under great pressure by the cuts imposed on them by Central Government we need to remember that. They have a huge amount of services to maintain and to cut services to the sick and the elderly for instance could cost lives. We need to have some empathy with the position the Boroughs have been placed in. Cutting youth services was always going to be seen as a softer option than making cuts in other areas. At the risk of appearing cynical (which clearly I am on this subject!) the youth don’t tend to vote in general or local elections!

What amazes me is the way that those that called for more investment in young people to help counter youth violence while not in Government (8% up in London in last 12 months) are now residing over a situation where the options and opportunities for youth are not just evaporating they are being mopped up and poured down the drain! Meanwhile 1 in 5 of our youth are unemployed and 1 in 4 are living in poverty – These are UK statistics not some 3rd World Country.. Hold that thought!!!!

With the gap between haves and have-nots never having been greater in most of our lifetimes and some areas of the Country starting to look almost “Dickensian” in terms of the deprivation – It is easy to look not too far into the future and see the storm brewing!

Simon Hughes the Liberal MP for Bermondsy has always been a great advocate of youth services and a champion for young people in General. Just recently I saw him on question time being questioned on what his thoughts were on the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) being lost as an option for poor families. He openly admitted that they (The coalition) had done a forecast that suggested this would mean around 10% of kids who would have been staying on for A level would now leave school at 16 instead. Excuse the pun but I assume this was a “conservative” estimate!

What are these kids going to do? Get jobs would be the ideal answer I guess but then again the cynics might say “what jobs would they be then?”

Those of us in a position to help influence decision-making need to everything we can to convince the powers to be to investigate new ways of investing money into the youth sector. There is no point picketing town halls the Boroughs have been given an almost impossible task – The powers that be in Central Government have also asked the public and business leaders to come up with innovation ideas to help them find revenue to reinvest in the public interest. I do not want to see any more young people killing themselves senselessly due to a lack of hope driving them down the wrong path as the only choices they see in front of them are the wrong ones. I have written to the Government asking them to put a super tax levy on violent video games like GRAND THEFT AUTO and CALL OF DUTY. Games that consist of having young people kill people very graphically to score points. Why not? These games are far from healthy for young minds and in reality we are never now going to see them banned altogether.

These games sell in their millions for between £35/£50 a game so surely this super tax levy (imposed due to the violent content) would raise a significant amount. I have also suggested that any extra money raised by the treasury should then be put into a pool to invest in youth projects in the inner cities……. I wont be holding my breath but I will be whistling…. All together now…… ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE….


Big or Bankrupt football society?

I am a football fan and for this I make no apology. Football helped me immensly at a tough time in my adolecense as it gave me something to immerse myself in when I needed to escape from problems I was experiencing at home. Football has the power to galvanise and lift the spirit. Academic researchers have labelled it as a “new religion” for the passionate hold it has over the masses. It also brings people of all backgrounds together whether as players, spectators, or just commentators. In its purest form it can still be the beautiful game the great Pele once called it.

Unfortunately I feel that the excess of the FA Premier League as a marketing product has now put football at odds with normal society. What else can one make of the transfer fees and player wages we are seeing. The greed of the “middle man” agent who earns millions for making a phone call, privately briefing the media and then faxing some documents.

The powerful football lobbyists will tell you that football puts billions back into the economy. I am sure it does. This is not my argument. The money being paid for the commodity called a “football player” is obscene and the wages they are being paid are ultimately coming from the kids that wear the shirts, multi coloured boots and pester their parents to subscribe to Sky sports. One in four of our children are living in poverty and the recession and austerity politics that has followed it are making life intolerable for the lowest wage earners and families living on state benefits in the football hotbeds of the inner cities.

Football’s “suits” who for many years have idolised Andy Grey and Richard Key’s, will argue that football also puts back into local communities. In some cases this is true. Clubs like Charlton do fantastic work in and around their local area in Greenwich, South East London. The big clubs operate similar schemes as well. The “schemes” all ultimately revolve around kids kiking a ball though and where there is a kid kicking a ball there is a talent scout looking for the games next big meal ticket.

Am I being cynical? Perhaps I am but then I do not think I am being anymore cynical than Roman Abromovich was yesterday in the way he threw money around like confetti when people in our inner cities are struggling to feed their families.

It is not just football of course that has lost its moral compass. The banking industry has never had one!

There has to be a better way of distributing wealth as this country is far from financially bankrupt. Morally? Well thats another question.

Sorry for the rant – I will be ready to chastise myself when the new blue messiah scores his first hat trick and I find myself punching the air in celebration along with the rest of the Chelsea congregation!