personal


>
When I was one
I had just begun
When I was two
I was nearly new
When I was three
I was hardly me
When I was four
I was not much more
When I was five
I was just alive
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever;
so I think I’ll be six now
for ever and ever

By A. A. Milne

Yes it was indeed six years ago that I first sat in front a keyboard and wrote this. It was the aftermath of my first General Election as a Parliamentary candidate something readers would have got a sense of last year when I did it all again.

Advertisements

>Polls are now closed across the country and in Northern Ireland where I’ve been working since early November to secure a Yes vote in today’s referendum.

Over that time there have been many party political stories that I have read about and wanted to make comment about here on my blog, but I’ve been working with people of many parties and felt that my doing so wouldn’t be right. Well as from now I’m expected my blogging to regain that edge that has been lacking over recent weeks. I’m going to be saying what I as a Liberal Democrat (and no those are not dirty words) feels about things that are going on.

The gloves are off, I’m unchained from the shackles that have been holding me back. It may not be tomorrow as I’m at the count or Saturday when I am at a dear friend‘s ‘wedding’ but soon, and maybe there will be time in between those two events, I’ll be back writing what is really on my mind.

You have been warned.

“Here’s Stephen!”, back in full glorious bloggery.

I’m now back.

>

 PEOPLE OF EARTH YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE

 Don’t Panic there is not a Vogon constructor fleet poised above us in the ionosphere, at least I hope not. But there is axe axe being wielded by the BBC over some of its online content. One of those sites is a quite remarkable site, it is a social media that was popular before Facebook reared it’s head, it was an online encyclopedia of Life, the Universe and Everything before Wikipedia became the de facto font of all knowledge. It is a place where people have made friendships, many have then taken that online relationship offline into real friendships at meet up, some have fallen in love and even produced small people as a result of sexual co-joining. After all as Douglas Adams once wrote, most of the rest of the Hitch Hikers’ Guide to the Galaxy is full of sex.

This is story of one of that Guide’s researchers.

Back in December 1999 a fan of a the books, Radio and TV series (there was no film back then) of Douglas Adams’s opus saw a link from the online edition to The Times to a site that purported to be the online edition of the Hitch Hikers’ Guide to the Galaxy. He was hooked, he started to write articles about things he knew, get involved in the community, write for the community news paper. He was mildly dyslexic and the people around him helped him overcome the embarrassment of the occasional mistakes in what he wrote, correcting it with love.

He eventually became one of the first researchers to write 100 solo approved entries for the guide, under the nom de plume of Demon Drawer. He also wrote for over 100 collaborative entries and 100 articles for the H2G2 Post. He certainly gained an confidence in getting his written words out there on public display. However, in recent years his contributions to the guide have been less frequent, he still has works on progress that he revisits from time to time, but that doesn’t mean that he has not been writing.

You are currently reading the words from the same person, one of the over 3,000 online pieces that he has written in various formats and on various sites including almost 2,700 blog posts on here.

H2G2 was difficulty once before, in the early days of this millennium when the Internet bubble started to burst. The lifeboat was picked up by the BBC. But on 24 January the BBC announced that it was making radical cuts to its online presence, the community, especially the old hands, felt here we go again. The result however is that the BBC is prepared to set H2G2 adrift again rather than merely turn it off at the switch, but it needs someone else to come by in the ‘virtual’ sense like the Heart of Gold and pluck us from the etha. The Community has set up its own Community Consortium to look after the needs of the community in that transaction, as one of the ancients (although not quite a 5 figure user number*) I wholeheartedly back this campaign and will do what I can to help Save Our Site.

It has changed my life not only through the confidence in my writing, but it was through finding love with a fellow researcher that I ended up in Scotland, it was through that I became so heavily involved in politics once more, it is through the site that a lot of who I am today has bizarrely come to be. H2G2 is more than just a mangle of words on a screen it is a community, it has a heart, it has a soul, it is a family.

Long may it continue.

(Aside) Can someone check, are the dolphins still around? (Pause) Good.

Yes it is too early for so longs, even the Delphinidae and Platanistoidea agree on that. There must be plenty more fish in the sea ready to keep H2G2 alive.

Your normally Hoopy Frood Demon Drawer

* A sign of great seniority in the early days, which us young upstarts having a six figure user number, mine is all the even number 104268.

> It’s that time of year to see just what you have been reading on my blog in 2010.

Normally this would be an easy task. Not this year, as well as blogging here, I was also blogging at the old address as well as the potential shift to WordPress which although didn’t happen did get some hits.

To make things worse in July I changed the template on the old site and forgot to reattach google analytics. So I have almost a month of missing data.

However, I’ve spent so much of my life working with numbers, so I can work this out right. Here are the top 15 (as far I can tell).

  1. Chinese Deathly Whispers (2494 views) from March 2009 but the picture is still scoring high on Google Images
  2. Fife Council: Child Snatchers (856) in January
  3. One Small Step for Sinn Féin: Why Iain Dale is Wrong (827) Yeah the days of taking on the blogfather when he gets things wrong and him linking back to you to up your views may be gone. This one from October may be the last time I can rely on the Dalester to boost me.
  4. Applying for a postal vote deadline (797) Being ever the helpful candidate I was keeping people informed of the deadlines on the way to the election. Sadly not all of the people who read this could have voted for me they were from all over the country.
  5. A is Airbrushing Part ii (731) Remember the days when us Lib Dems were at the Tories throats all the time? Well when David Cameron said in his New Year Message that he would spell out just what the Tory policies were I start a series looking at just that. This was a little bit of ‘after’ work done on a campaign poster.
  6. About me (711) Yeah I added pages to the blog this year and quite a view people looked up my profile. Which tells you a little bit about who I am. I’m guessing the No 2 AV looked this up too, but just forgot how to spell my name.
  7. 15 Albums (633) One of those Meme’s that sometimes allow us bloggers to fill a spot without thinking. Although for the blogpost I did go the extra mile and pull images of the 15 Albums that inspire me.
  8. Tory Bear Pop Pyschiatry Gone Political (528) When Harry Cole was still hiding behind a blue bear rather than a man pretending to be an 18th Century Terrorist he did sometimes go off on one. So I took him to task.
  9. Who I am not (509) This is a fun page I added. This is all the other Stephen Glenn’s online that I am not. Yes there is one that more of me, or at least named like me.
  10. Where’s the Reader’s Digest Draw When They Need it? (472) With the news of the demise of Readers’ Digest I asked where was the letter from Champagne to announce that they had won the prize draw to pull them out of trouble.
  11. Kong Hei Fat Choy 2010 (449) My annual look at China’s Human Rights record on Chinese New Year always seems to make this list.
  12. ***BREAKING*** Ashok Kumar MP Found Dead (370) Never a nice occasion when you look on one of the news websites and see a Breaking headline that you know is going to dominate. As a top blogger you urge is get something out on your blog, but then knowing you will have to update as more facts come along. Seeing this blog was in its infancy when this first happened in similar shocking circumstances I knew just what to do and how to do it sensitively.
  13. Short List for Livingston Labour (311) following on from the above was the fact that the shortlist to replace the disgraced MP for Livingston Jim Devine was getting drawn up. He’d been one of the top stories on this blog in 2005 (see above).
  14. Prime Minster Clegg (295) When someone joked about the possibilty of Nick Clegg being Prime Minister, I said why not? Of course we have seen him at the dispatch box during PMQs since as Deputy Prime Minister Clegg. 
  15. Comedian Jason Wood Dies Aged 38 (282) Another of those sad occassions.

As regular readers will know normal service will not be resumed on this blog for the first third of 2011. However, if I can stay off party politics something that is bigger than that may lead me to my keyboard.

>

Those of you who know me ought to be aware that I love a big, fast rollercoasters. I really need to go back to the States and experience some of the new rides since last I was there (1996). However, this year has certainly been one hell of a rollercoaster ride with its highs and lows and switchbacks and unexpected turns.

This time last year I was sitting in Bathgate, looking forward to kick starting the local Lib Dems into the General Election year, then onwards to the Scottish Elections and the council elections beyond. The same old routine as laid out by the election cycles. Or so I thought.

Sure enough the year started out in just that manner. On St. Patrick’s Night I was selected as the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) again for Linlithgow and East Falkirk, with Charles Dundas once again my colleague in the other seat for the local party, Livingston. In the end I came third once more, was agent to Kieran Leach in neighbouring Falkirk (in which campaign I met some new friends). But I was very disappointed on the night that Kevin Lang in Edinburgh North and Leith and Fred MacIntosh in Edinburgh South had done exactly what the party thought was required to win only to no get elected as MPs.

Well eight days after the General Election I had my CV in to start the selection process for the Edinburgh Central seat  for the Scottish elections next May. So there wasn’t any real rest between the elections cycles as I started to plot and plan just what I would have to do, first for the seat and then for the list. In the end after another solid 2/3 months of planning and canvassing local members it wasn’t to be, but Alex Cole Hamilton had been selected.

So as I started to work for Alex and was settling down to work on the list selection process, which overlapped with the end of Edinburgh Central, I was brought to a sudden halt. Somehow in all the activity of the previous months I had managed to not notice that certain bills were not being paid, kind of major expensive ones. I tried to get finance from the bank but that wasn’t happening. I then felt that the only way to deal with this was to return to Northern Ireland and proposed to work that I could continue to work for them from here. With time running out and me having a letter of notice to hand over if there was no decision on that day I was finally given the go ahead to be a home-worker.

So with that then came the task of packing up 9 years accumulated stuff and with the help of Michael completed Operation Evacuate at the end of August. I’d a week to settle in before I started work, but I was also looking for something a little more permanent over here because work, as close friends can attest, was getting me depressed in a major way, even before I moved over.

There then came an email from a friend saying “Have you seen this job?”, I applied and found myself up against Michael for what were probably the most angst ridden two weeks in either of our lives. Until I finally was told the position was mine within an hour of a Nationwide conference call for Yes to Fairer Votes as the Northern Ireland Organiser. I just had time to talk to Michael before that call, and he has been a great help and support from that time on.

Since I’ve got back I hadn’t been completely politically inactive, along with Michael we as local Liberal Democrats wrote a couple of responses to consultations from government departments. I’ve also been involved in the LGBT consultative forum, help establish Delga within the local party, been back across for Scottish conference. As well as attending two party conferences and meeting with others as part of the Yes to Fairer Votes drive.

This year I attended three Pride Parades Edinburgh, Glasgow and Foyle. Somehow I found the time and a person to fall in love with, though sadly that didn’t go as I’d hoped. I’ve also been elected unto my new local party’s executive committee as well as keeping up my record of being a conference rep, Sheffield and Birmingham here I come.

So what does 2011 hold?

For a start there is an referendum on May 5th, not the campaigning I expected to be taking up every waking and quite a few of the sleeping moments of my life. But there you are I’m working towards that and looking forward to getting back into the phonebank as people carry on talking to people across Northern Ireland about fairer votes.

After May, who knows. I have no idea what comes next.

Last year I felt that I’d love to find someone I could really connect with that didn’t abhor the time I spent with politics and maybe settle down. Seeing as how intermittent my love life has been in the last twelve months it is almost like I am saving myself for that person. Maybe I might get lucky this year and find what I’m looking for in that department. My love life has been a bit of a roller coaster in recent years maybe I just want it to be a gentle punt down life’s river from here on. But then knowing the passion I put into things maybe not.

After May I’ll be looking for a new job. No idea that that will actually be yet, have an idea what I’d like it to be just need to see if there are openings that I can fill, it may mean a move once more, it may mean staying right here, I just don’t know and nobody is able to tell me the answer to that right now. So it looks like 2011 might be another roller coaster year as well.

Stay tuned I’ll return to blogging full time in May.

>

Ok I had a little bit of an excursion because of World AIDS Day which carried over into the FIFA World Cup announcements yesterday.

But just at this moment my employer* for the last 9 years, 1 month and 1 week is no longer my employer. I am now working full time on the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign.

Therefore as one friend said to avoid me getting out my “Lib Dem thing” and waving it about while I am part of a campaign that is reaching across political divisions I am parking this blog once more.

It will also affect the way I use Twitter and Facebook, somebody else pulled me up on that earlier as well.

I’ve given my reasons previously more fully in case you haven’t already read them.

So long, see you all again on 6th May 2011.

* Yes this is the first time in all the public utterances or writings as a politician either here on this blog or elsewhere that I have actually revealed who they are.

>I have a confession to make.

I don’t always practise safe sex. In fact bareback sex does feel so much better than using a condom….

at the time.

However, to be frank it is one of the reasons that so many people, especially gay men, are still getting infected day by day.People often ask, how can people put themselves in risk of affection, often that is one of the major reasons, it feels good….at the time.

There is of course then the wait of three months to get outside the window period, the anxious walk to a clinic to get tested, and the wait for the blood results and then the wait for the next time, just to be sure. But at the time it feels good, but that doesn’t make it right to do so and here is a personal realisation as to why.

See the thing is that even though I campaign to end the blood ban, I really want it to be lifted in a way that I personally will find it very hard to give blood, not because of my sexual orientation but because of my how I go about it. I have had sex with men who are living with HIV (three of them in total, that I am aware of, though only two told me at the time).

The one of those who didn’t tell me, contacted me rather embarrassed 8 months after we last had sex. His first comment was “I have something to tell you”. Before he revealed that he’d just been diagnosed with HIV and probably was living with it at the time we were together. Thankfully for me he had failed to answer my questioning in a positive way when he asked for us to forget about the condoms. He also changed his answers when he’d asked again some weeks later.

I’m big enough, ugly enough and informed enough to make my own decisions about who I sleep with, providing I’m aware of the facts. With the two who were honest there are two things that I cannot provide:

  1. I cannot offer him anal sex without a condom being involved
  2. I cannot be 100% sure that any sex we have is safe (there is no guarantee of that)

I’m aware of my current HIV (and other STIs) status, just two weeks ago my bloods came back negative, as did my swabs. But that is as much through luck as good personal responsibility.

Here’s the thing, if I were to fall in love with someone living with HIV, I would want to love them emotional, intellectually, spiritually and sexually. Of course anyone in such a circumstance would also be facing the same two criteria above. I trust on point one they would love me enough to respect that is the case, I hope for point two that they realise I love them enough to want to be part of them, even with that one small chance of doubt every time.

There has of course been a lot of jumping up and down in the gay press about Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) benefits from the use of Truvada before infection. However, this is a costly way to counter the issue and

“For now, and for the foreseeable future, condoms remain the most effective, easily available and cheapest way of preventing HIV transmission. As this trial suggests, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis is going to be an addition to condom use rather than a replacement of it.”

So therefore as you’ve seen today through my blogging the message this World AIDS Day the message of Act Aware really is one that I am taking on board. That’s why I’m protecting myself and others from HIV infection.

It is why I have taken this day away from parking my blog to make these three posts going from the overall picture, through my local situation and friend, to this very personal post. Hopefully through something I have said today, someone, somewhere, maybe even you, will take a number of steps to Act Aware in your own life.

  1. Get tested (and keep getting tested) it may seem like a trauma to do it, but the knowledge of your status at regular intervals is far better than finding out late on you have an issue.
  2. Practise safer sex always use a condom in casual relationships
  3. Never rely on self disclosure from someone else. As I mentioned above 1 in 4 people living with HIV cannot disclose to you that they are, because they themselves do not know. Respect your own body and health, you are only in control of that, not anyone else’s.

If you do live in Northern Ireland and are concerned about HIV contact the confidential helpline number 0800 137 437.

Or make a visit to the Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinics at the following locations:

The Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast 
The Causeway Hospital, Coleraine 
Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry 
Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry

Condoms are readily available through chemists, public toilets or even in health packs at most gay venues. So even if you pull on a night out there is no excuse to not be prepared.

Next Page »