So it seems I need to start wearing glasses while working. Not getting old at all…
A brief status update to check if my new auto post to Twitter plugin is working.
On Saturday afternoon a surprising notification popped up on the iPad;
“Andy Strange added you on Google+”
That’s odd, I thought. I hadn’t been using Google+ for anything recently and I couldn’t see how you could end up adding yourself to anything. So I was a bit puzzled.
But after investigation the cause was obvious — if a little disconcerting.
Another person called Andy Strange had added me to their circles on the service. Which obviously generated the disturbing thought that there are more than one Andy Strange’s in the world. In fact, given that my surname, odd as it is, isn’t as uncommon as you might think, there are probably quite a few. Apparently, going by his profile, this particular Andy Strange lives in West Sussex, designs yachts, and has an impressively trendy ‘tash.
As tempting as it is for this to inspire a Dave Gorman style search for other namesakes, I think I will pass. Having to deal with the reality of one Andy Strange is I think complicated enough at the moment.
If you want to keep receiving all content which, as well as considered blog posts on a range of topics, will also include status updates, links I find interesting, video, music playlist, more personal blog posts, and pictures of my cat* then you can use the full fat all content feed:
Of course if you are already receiving this via your feed reader and you want to carry on getting all content you need do nothing.
If however you just want the political stuff — my thoughts on politics, liberalism and the Liberal Democrats — then you can use this feed:
Alternatively, if you are just interested in local issues — Luton, Bedfordshire and local politics — then there is this feed:
Finally, if you’d like to get the more considered long form blog posts but not the other more ephemeral stuff — in effect to continue following what was my old Strange Thoughts blog — then you can use this feed:
This is a notification that my Strange Thoughts blog has moved.
I’ve moved all the posts across to my personal website andystrange.org.uk. My blogging, such as it is, will now take place there.
I’ve redirected everything so existing links should continue to work — as should the RSS feed. If you seeing this in your feed reader then everything is working OK! However, I suggest you update your bookmarks etc. to the new address.
The plan is, with the change in address, that there should be a change in approach. I intend to post stuff in a more personal way — more links, status updates, photos and so on — and so hopefully more frequently. I don’t intend to give up on the long form blog post altogether however — and will probably provide a separate feed for those as things develop.
This past weekend, in a mad burst of coding and fiddling with technical gubbins, I’ve created a new theme for this website and started to restructure it. There is a lot more to do and it is rough around the edges in places but I think it is ready enough to be “launched”.
I’ve been mulling over what to do with my online presence — the collection of websites, social media profiles, and places where I’ve published content — for a while now. It has all got a bit confused and I am finding it difficult to manage, especially in those moments when I’ve not been particularly motivated. I also don’t think overall it reflects me and the way my life is developing, or at least I don’t think I am making the most of the possibilities. So I thought a bit of consolidation and integration was in order.
I intend andystrange.org.uk to become my home on the web. A hub for personal information about me and my interests and with a feed of all my online activity. To that end I’ve also imported all the old posts from my two previous blogs; Process Guy and Strange Thoughts. My blogging, such as it is, will now take place here.
I had a very busy period of work and then Christmas hit — so I failed to post anything here in December. Which means there are one or two things to catch up on as well as the usual task of looking back and then forward that this time of year encourages. So I am planning to write a number of posts over the next week or so and so breathe a bit of life into ‘Strange Thoughts’.
I invite you to join me.
I’ve been busy with work over the last few days and have not been paying much attention to this blog — but I’ve just noticed that this post has appeared in Liberal Democrat Voice’s Top of the Blogs feature two weeks running – here and here.
I’m sure it was an oversight rather than a judgement that my insights deserved double exposure — but I’m not complaining! Thanks Helen
Please do excuse this slightly self-indulgent progress update but we are now roughly halfway through the year, and I had a birthday this week, so I thought it would be useful for me to think through how I’m getting on.
Back when I said good riddance to 2011 I also said that I was looking forward to 2012 with the expectation that it will be a far more positive year. I’m glad to say in general this has been true.
For most of the first four months of 2012 I was lucky to have a period of solid contract work, and it was interesting work too. As a result, although they are far from being healthy, my finances are in a better state. I have managed to clear some outstanding debts.
Work has been a little slower for May and June but that has meant that I’ve been able to catch up with a number of tasks for outstanding projects. Now, ideally, I’d like to find some more people willing to pay me money to build websites with WordPress. I’m working on ways to promote myself with this in mind, but failing that I’ll need to find the next tranche of contract work. So while a long way from being comfortable, I feel that good progress has been made.
Outside of that I have been able to be a bit more sociable. I’ve had some pleasurable day trips and evenings out with friends – although I’ve hardly been living a hedonistic lifestyle.
Political activity has been mostly non-existent. I’ve not been writing as much as I had intended – witness the extended blogging gap here. But I do find myself more in the mood for political stuff now, particularly compared with my severe disenchantment at the end of last year. Although, if I do start doing more now, I’m determined to be very selective about what I choose to do and only do those things that I find enjoyable.
One thing to note though is that I think my year of being “a poster boy for LibDem misery” has probably come to an end. While that stock footage of me looking at my phone was, I think, used on election night this May I’ve not heard anything of it being used since. With luck it has been replaced for the next electoral period by some stock footage of some Tories looking miserable!
So to sum up where I think I feel I am now, in the language of a school report; Andy has made some solid progress this term but needs to continue to work hard and focus on his priorities in order to properly fulfil his potential.
According to Google Analytics these are the five most viewed posts on this blog during 2011. While I seem to have a readership that comes here via the Lib Dem Blogs aggregator and Lib Dem Voice, and I have seen an increase in links from Facebook and Twitter, the most popular posts have been those that people have found when Googling for information about the EDL rally in Luton at the beginning of the year and the link to this blog from the ‘Have I got News for You” programme pages on the BBC website.
As far as I’m concerned 2011 has been a rubbish year for me personally. It has been characterised by frustration, anxiety and a fair bit of melancholy. I often felt uncertain what my role was and what I was trying to achieve. I lost an election in circumstances I found very frustrating. I’ve been constantly dogged by financial worries and have had periods of gloom and lethargy. I also turned 40.
Before this all sounds like too much of a whinge there has been some good stuff to. Not least my becoming an uncle again.
I have learned some important lessons this year and I have ended it in a far more positive frame of mind, and more comfortable in my skin, that I started it. I also should record my gratitude to those colleagues, friends and family who have helped and supported me this year. Often when I haven’t been the easiest person to get on with. I am very grateful.
But in all honesty I’m glad to see the back of it.
So I am looking forward to 2012 with the expectation that it will be a far more positive year.
My overwhelming priority for next year is to concentrate on work and business, and in doing so I hope to see a significant improvement in my financial circumstances. I have some half formed ideas and plans about how to do this, but I recognise that, at least for the first half of the year, I will need to do some serious graft.
Beyond that, given the need to prioritise, I’m not making many other plans. Since the local elections, with one or two exceptions, I’ve largely withdrawn from political activity. I felt I needed a break. This is likely to continue for most of 2012 – it will give me some time to work out what I want to do next. However, I have made one or two commitments and intend to spend some time writing and thinking about political issues.
Finally, if things do improve on the work front, I’d like to be a lot more social in 2012 than I was in 2011. I may even throw the odd party!
I was somewhat surprised, although very pleased, to learn today that this blog has been awarded 94th place in Total Politics magazine’s list of the top 100 Lib Dem blogs 2011.
While I occasionally have had posts chosen for Lib Dem Voice’s Golden Dozen, this is the first time I’ve had an award like this. I get a snazzy badge as well. Thank you to the folks at Total Politics and those that voted etc.
Should I aim for the top 50 next year?!
I’m aware that I should be writing up my reactions to the Social Liberal Forum conference, including my bloggers’ interview with Evan Harris, as well as carrying on with my other series of posts. However, as you can see from the photograph below, I have been somewhat unusually detained over the last few days. Something that also coincided with my fortieth birthday.
Normal service will resume shortly.
Since missing out by 14 votes on being re-elected to Luton Borough Council on May 5th I’ve been taking my time to adjust to the election result and to work out what comes after and I’ve been using posts on this blog as part of my process of working things out.
I’ve posted a number of articles looking at the things that I believe I can claim to have achieved over those eight years (achievements one, two and three) with a couple more to come. I’ve yet to write about the more general conclusions about the political world I have come to having reached this point but I think I have a better idea of what they are. But I am ready to start looking to the future. So, following part one and part two, this is the third and final post in my ‘What’s Next’ series.
So what will I do now?
Well I know myself well enough to know that politics is in my blood. It is part of who I am and I will always be involved in it in one capacity or another. I also know that there is more than one way to do politics. Local government and standing for public office is one way to influence things and fight for what you believe in. But there are others.
I know that I do have something to say and that something is now backed up with the knowledge and experience I have gained from eight years of holding public office. I now also realise that I have a greater freedom to speak out. It is not in my nature to set out to be deliberately disloyal to my party, but I am aware that the restrictions, self-imposed and otherwise, that were inevitably placed on me by the fact of being an elected representative and owing a loyalty to my council group no longer apply.
I also think it unlikely that I will stand again for election to be a councillor for a good while. A number of people have said to me that “you’ll be back”. That may be true, but it won’t be for at least a decade or more. It is time for other things.
So I think the priority for my political activity may now be to concentrate on thinking, writing and debating ideas and proposals. I am struck that while we are now in government at the same time in many ways the Liberal Democrat ideas cupboard is rather bare. So this may be a good moment to give greater reign to my inner policy wonk. Although I am not entirely sure how to go about this. Any suggestions gratefully received.
As for working for Luton I remain on the Board of Trustees of Luton Culture, something I am deeply passionate about, and there are more than enough challenges there to get my teeth into. I am becoming more and more interested in the politics and management or arts and culture. It plays a vital, if often underestimated, role in people’s lives and communities. Not least in a place like Luton. It is also a sector facing tremendous challenges given the economic climate. So it would be interesting to explore and develop my knowledge and understanding of this field.
Yet I have recognised that, not least for a number of reasons of practicality, my priority is going to have to be work and career. Politics will have to take something of a back seat while I concentrate on finding the right kind of work and trying to increase my level of income. So I am now actively looking for new work and opportunities. So again, if anyone has any suggestions to where I can make good use of my talents do let me know.
So in the words of The West Wing’s President Jed Bartlett; “What’s next?”