Poverty In The UK


Child poverty on the increase in the UK

‘Family breakdown, drug addiction, debt and education results are among the factors that could be used to measure child poverty in future, UK Government ministers say’ BBC News.

This reality check comes after the findings of The Institute for Fiscal Studies released their two year projection for how child poverty in the UK will rise by 400,000.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith responded by saying that the current income-based method of measuring poverty is too simple, therefore new indicators have to be agreed upon to measure this thoroughly.

Wow, is all I can say; and it took a UK Government how long exactly to realise that the measures relied upon to indicate poverty were failing? Where have they been hiding all these decades? Oh, of course, behind the curtain of their lives of privilege. Doesn’t this highlight just how out of touch these ‘leaders’ are with their own electorate?

Salary alone means nothing to poverty indicators; nothing is so ‘cut and dry’. I have mentioned this before; Poverty In The 21st Century

People can be working full time, and still drop below the poverty line because of; general household bills, unemployment, benefit reliance, family breakdown, increase in food prices, increase in travel prices and fuel, debt, house repayments, childcare, how large the family is, so on and so on.

At the moment a child in the UK is considered to be living in poverty if the household income is £251 per week or less. This then equates to 2.3 million children living in poverty. Now considering that as a fact which stands alone, too many children are in poverty; but now add that to the other indicators above, which are currently not being included in the poverty measures. Now I’d say that 2.3 million is looking severely under estimated as a figure; so low in fact I doubt any Government would like to consider the reality of the poverty that blights the UK!

All in all it is a nice figure to dwell upon, considering the UK is supposed to be a ‘developed’ country, wealthy and upwardly mobile! Seems to me that propaganda has never been so alive and well in Politics. It is just a question of whose faith Government ministers are trying to maintain; their electorates or their own?

Children in Poverty

Many decisions have been criticised as increasing child poverty, but one factor has been blamed as highly significant; freezing child benefit. The Labour Party have now warned that by 2020 the UK would return to “sky-high levels of child poverty” unless the Government made changes to this and other areas. Yet, with or without child benefit people would be poor. Child benefit is hardly enough to compensate for dire wages, high levels of debt, rising living costs and all the other things that make a person/family poor!!!!! Benefits are not the answer to the root of the problems.

So, I wonder what has finally brought the issue of poverty to the table of plenty. Well, the Labour Party’s ‘picking’ at the current Conservative/Liberal Democrat Government no doubt has provided some encouragement. Shadow Employment minister Stephen Timms has been also blowing the trumpet of his own Labour Party Government; reminding the electorate of what a mistake they made in not re-electing them, laugh out loud!

Mr Timms has said that there had been a; “Big reduction of over a million in the number of children below the poverty line” when Labour held Government, and since the new Government gained power; “that number is now going up”.

Yet, what has any Government really done to improve the people’s lives? What one policy really has impacted on decreasing poverty in all its formats; from homelessness to child poverty? Answer, nothing substantial. They are good at bickering amongst themselves, blaming one another and scoring points; but facing the facts and dealing with then once in power, well, that is another story altogether! It doesn’t matter what Government is in power, things don’t significantly change for the people.
The major changes which are now creating significant impacts in policies, and reflecting poorly upon the UK Government is the economic crisis and austerity measures. Who knew this could be a positive thing?! This ‘series of unfortunate events’ has been a real kick in their rear; yet, people are still suffering, and not even the economic crisis has motivated the Government enough, well, yet anyway.
What will it take to make the Government change things??? How dire must it become for people, their people??

OK, so the Government has plans to carry out a consultation to consider what other factors need to be included to measure poverty. Yet, this is merely more time and money wasted, while people still live in poverty!

Even ‘The Child Poverty Action Group’ have raised concerns over this consultation, and proposed additions to the current salary measurement. They have questioned whether further indicators to mark poverty would only make defining it too broad and non specific (we all know the Government don’t deal with complicated very well). This too broad and non specific could only grant a free pass to any Government; they would then not be held accountable for any failings which could occur in this area. It would then be merely life in general to blame, not Government polices and taxation. A Government can’t interfere with life, the ‘free market’, capitalism or whatever else they can use as an excuse.

Anyway, while the Government bicker and decide to decide, poverty continues as it always has. A grim reminder that life isn’t all peaches and cream.

If you like my post please share it 🙂

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The General Strike and Madrid


Images of Madrid’ General Strike

14th November marks the General Strike here in Madrid.

Protesters gathered together this morning in Puerta del Sol, and soon moved through the city.

Here many places of business are closed especially those related to Industry. Thousands upon thousands have taken to the street to protest against Anti Austerity measures being imposed by the Government.

I am seeing reports of people being arrested (81 so far), and many have been injured, as Police use rubber bullets against protesters to quell the storm that has infused the city of Madrid.

Police Tackle The Protesters

From my apartment I can hear the constant circling of Police helicopters; never a good sign.

The momentum of the protesters has been building for months. One notable protest/ strike was that carried out by the Miners outside The Real Madrid Stadium, which my parents who were visiting me at the time actually witnessed. The clash of protesters and Police was significantly violent, though that is not always the case with protests here in Madrid.

The Miners Strike in Madrid

This week though the pressure has mounted as one tragedy hit the news to poignantly highlight the stress, and strain people are under. A young woman actually took her own life by jumping from her own apartment building, because bailiffs entered her apartment to evict her. She could no longer afford her mortgage repayments and was so desperate she committed suicide.

It seems to be utter madness, yet this strike fever has swept Europe, the UK also being involved.

Why, well put simply the workers are fed up of austerity measures being imposed on the ordinary working person by a Government, and banking system that has failed them. Imprecise and elusive policies which are not being fully explained to the public, and cuts, cuts and more cuts to vital social services and wages.

We can only wait and see what the next steps will be by the Spanish Government and the protesters.

If you like my post please share it 🙂

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Untouchables


Akin to the UK Welfare State

Once again I find myself reading about, discussing and considering the ‘state’ of the UK welfare state.

There are certain ‘untouchables’ in most societies and the welfare state is one of them. However, regardless of its status the case still remains; people are discontent with the current UK welfare state.

People are increasingly becoming aware of the failings within the flawed system, and are on the receiving end of some hideously bad experiences. It is not the people that need to be coerced to change their views, but the system itself that needs to change to reflect the new world it inhabits.

The failure of the welfare system impacts on all people. This system failure, and its continued seepage of taxpayers money has been dragging on for too many years. It has become a bane to the country.

Yet, no Government has had the courage to address the root of the inequities in the system, from fear of upsetting the populace. Consequently the issues have become entrenched and vast to the point of nearly becoming impossible to solve! Plus, the system itself is so comprehensive and far from being ‘policed’ thoroughly enough; for example, it is impossible to unmask all the people who claim a benefit fraudulently or who aren’t receiving what they should! The reasons for this; the system has become a monster, biting the hand of its master, out of control almost! No one has the reins any-more.

Therefore, it is clear that the welfare system itself, its policies and procedures that make it what it is, are to blame. It needs instant reform!

It is now too far removed from its purpose. Welfare is meant to be a system in place for those most in need, but it isn’t; it is supposed to be a stop gap provision, but it isn’t; it’s supposed to prevent people falling into poverty, but it doesn’t.

So, change the system, and stop plastering over the cracks once and for all; before the whole house collapses!

To read more take a look at:
https://thesavvysenorita.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/struggling-to-make-ends-meet-poverty-in-the-21st-century/

https://thesavvysenorita.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/benefits-food-vouchers-the-new-universal-credit-errr-card/

If you like my post please share it 🙂

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Struggling To Make Ends Meet – Poverty in the 21st Century.


Ed Miliband (Leader of the Opposition Party), Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) and many others are now calling for, and indeed advocating the introduction of a living wage in the UK. What is this initiative? Well, it’s an hourly rate for working people, which is re-set each year to reflect the increases in costs of living. The rate of this living wage is based around what an employee requires to provide their family with the mere essentials of life.

The recommendations for these living wage rates are; £8.55 an hour in London and £7.45 an hour for the rest of the UK. Yet, these figures have already come under criticism for falling short of the real requirements of what workers need to survive.

Yet people are expected to now survive on a minimum wage. In comparison to the current minimum wage for those who are aged 21 and above, which is now a paltry £6.19 an hour; the figures above already prove a shortfall for the workforce. Most employers will only pay the minimum wage, regardless of the job, the duties and qualifications required. Cheap labour, exploitation and damn near slavery are what the UK work force is used to. With unemployment on the increase the employer ethos of ‘take it of leave it’ is never more powerful. People will put up with terrible wages and unfair working conditions or face unemployment. It isn’t exactly job satisfaction that keeps people working, inasmuch as sheer necessity. Workers in the UK are already being short changed of the basic requirements that are needed for them to actually live, so then how are they currently surviving without a living wage?

Well, when people don’t earn a living wage they have to work two jobs rather than one, get credit cards and loans merely to eat, and actually to travel to work! People are forced to live in poverty whilst actually working full time, their children aren’t eating properly, they can’t afford to heat their own homes and so and so on. What century is this anyway? Seems awfully analogous to something Dickensian.

Things have changed, relatively perhaps; but the premise remains the same.

So isn’t the living wage an answer to all those issues? Well, it is a fairer and more equitable option, where employees may actually feel they have value. Surely working people deserve to earn enough to live and participate in society, otherwise they might as well be outcasts. What are they working for exactly; and it isn’t just to pay taxes and pay bills (those days are, or I thought they were, over)! This isn’t a time of the landed gentry and farming peasants! People want to live a life! At the moment most people aren’t, so if the current minimum wage isn’t doing society justice then what are the issues with changing it?

Well, the UK Government are the issues. They aren’t sold on implementing a living wage, but crazily enough they are happy to provide benefits to subsidise low income families (those surviving off the minimum wage). In fact the amount of benefits being paid to those in work is on the increase! That means that society is already helping out low-paid employers, which to be honest really makes no sense. Doesn’t that outlay of benefits alone indicate that the wages are too low in comparison to the ever increasing cost of living and taxes? Why not then just solve the root of the issue instead of applying a sticking plaster that clearly doesn’t work; as people are still in poverty!

Yet, it isn’t merely about the cost of these benefits to the taxpayer; it’s about the cost of changing people’s work ethic. Actually demonstrating that is does pay to work. That people aren’t just working to pay the bills, and keep their heads just above the water line. That life isn’t all hard slog and little else; I mean isn’t that what the mill workers in 19th century thought about their lives? When will this working poverty and servitude ever change for the working people of the UK? It is a perpetual and entrenched vicious circle! What does society or the economy get out of such a system, nothing!

I thought we’d left the cotton mills behind?

For those who argue the UK couldn’t afford a living wage, that is somewhat naïve and morally wrong. What makes more sense; extra household debt (ethereal money that doesn’t really exist in the economy, and that no-one can afford to pay back), and money being given in benefits from taxes, or, money given in real wages whereby it can be properly invested into the economy?

I can see why this push for change is being blocked though; ordinary working folk could actually gain something rather than merely get less. I know; it’s a shocker and such an outrageous idea! How dare the ordinary people want more than merely working their hearts out for nothing other than paying their bills! What is the 21st century coming to?! Any new initiative meant to embetter a workers life comes up against opposition; the national minimum wage itself wasn’t looked upon favourably, neither were trade unions, equal pay, employee rights or the abolition of child labour, oh, and slavery.

How can a country prosper if their people don’t? Simple question, yet no one is willing to answer it!

Check out: http://www.livingwage.org.uk/

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Publishing Ladder


This post comes as part of a response I made to ‘And the Winner Is…Self-Publishing’ a post by Jessica Vealitzek (http://jessicavealitzek.com/), which was regarding the route to publishing written work.

My comment:

‘I think not enough personal journeys in this area are documented (regarding people’s experiences with trying to publish work); so many people just need good and honest advice on this (the route to publishing) to save wasted time and frustration! Oh, I have a question; do you know whether there is a ‘collective’ of writers who are looking to be published? What I mean is, other people in similar situations who want to get published, and who can pull together pooling their resources; knowledge, contacts and abilities, which could aid a publishing objective?? Does that make sense or am I rambling?? It would be like a group of people working together for a common purpose; making a website to put the work on, to do the advertising and networking to get interest for ALL of their work?? I don’t know, might be a crazy or illogical idea, but more minds might be better than one to unravel the publishing conundrum; on-line or via a traditional route! More voices shouting out louder surely have to be heard! I don’t know! Just a thought I came up with!’

I then posted another response to Jessica stating I would do some research into the above, to check if such ‘support’ was out there for writers. To be honest I wondered whether my take of a ‘collective’ of writers wasn’t just ‘independent publishers’, and the beginnings of what we recognise as traditional publishing houses.

Anyhow, I have managed to complete some research, and found some links regarding ‘collectives’ or ‘cooperatives’. I have also looked at what advice is out there for people who are trying to get published, and the ‘pros and cons’ of the online publishing route too.

AUTHOR COOPERATIVES:

1: http://authorselectric.blogspot.co.uk/

2: http://awesomeindies.wordpress.com/
There are hurdles in place for wannabe writers on this site; jump over these and then they may consider reviewing your work.

3: http://www.wordswithjam.co.uk
Submissions for short stories with a word limited of 2500, but they also look for new article writers for their blog.

4: http://www.bookviewcafe.com
Members only publishing cooperative.

5: Yahoo groups: for example there are Indie Authors Forum and Indie Romance Authors – these offer tips/tricks for one another’s work.

6: http://www.rockitreads.com/
All genre Romance; for work that is self published and on-line already.

7: http://thirsteditions.com
Closed to submissions, no unsolicited manuscripts; ummmm, this sounds familiar!

8: http://www.leagueofextraordinaryauthors.com/

9: http://allianceindependentauthors.org/about.html
Seems to be most inclusive site; they encourage new authors, give advice and will review their work. Yippee!!

The author cooperatives I have read about, and discovered through my research are not really an open forum for the everyday writer struggling out there. They are closed shops; where you would have had to have been a member from the beginning, been in on the formation of the cooperative. In other words, author cooperatives do seem to me to be a branch of independent publishing. They will only promote their own work, and are not really willing to share their knowledge or give advice and tips to other writers.

I must admit I am more frustrated by discovering this, and disheartened somewhat. I am aware there are an abundance of people writing, and possibly too many to ensure that they all get published. I am aware that masses of time and resources have to go into the; proof reading, editing, providing advice and tips and even promotion of work, and passing on author’s work to possible publishers. Yet, surely there could be some services dedicated to this, and this alone; to enable more new author’s to actually get published in one format or another!!

So if there are no open cooperatives that authors can join, then where is the progress?

What are the options out there for help, support and advice for wannabe authors?
The answer, well, there doesn’t seem to be much of any of that available.

Why is it so difficult for ordinary people to get on the ladder of being published and then achieve their goal?

The Ladder of Success

Perhaps it is because writing is comparable to the art world. Experts deem one type of art is the only one correct, and therefore the only one worthy of the title of art, of accolades and praise. Yet, isn’t there beauty in all art? Writing is the same as art; freedom of expression, individuality and passion. Whose job is it to say what is valid? Who has the sole authority to sanction what is good enough, and then dismiss every other writer, novel or a piece of work? These experts only know the genres or work they are familiar with; it is only their individual opinion after all! That doesn’t mean what is being written outside of these opinions, labels and boxes is wrong or not a valuable piece of work. There is surely volumes of written jems going unnoticed, all because of stringent rules and guidelines and people’s opinions; oh, not to mention the fact that there are not enough people willing to read new writers work or offer any help.

People always say that you can only write from your heart, about what you know, to please yourself; but still these publishing hurdles stating what work is acceptable are placed in the path of potential writers. You have to face word limitations, genre limitations, plot limitations, structure limitations and so on and so on. How is this art? How is this expression?

I am no literary critic, my degree is in Politics not English Literature, I am no expert on how to write a novel; so does that naturally mean any work I produce won’t be valid? I have no one to direct me, no place to go for advice and I don’t have any relevant networks in the publishing world to call a favour from; so that means I haven’t a cat in Hell’s chance of getting anything published?

Maybe I need to begin my own author’s cooperative!!

Having somewhere people can get information from; clear and simple advice which is free and honest, hints and tips to move themselves, and their work on and into the publishing world is essential!!!!!

Yet, it doesn’t seem to exist! What I have been reading about the publishing world and even the ‘cooperative’ world is confusing and conflicting. There are opinions, and lots of them, from people who already have the deal sown up. Yet, these people aren’t willing to share, to help others even try to get on that ladder that they have already climbed!!!! WHY???

THOUGHT OF PUBLISHING ON-LINE?

There are so many hurdles and gatekeepers to the knowledge, and advice you require to move on with your quest to publish. How can you over come no support or advice? What do you do to get noticed, to get popular and published?

Well, many see self publishing a route to change the goal posts set by traditional publishing houses. Online is an option to open the fair playing field and create the equitable, even for the most ordinary of author’s running around about their daily business, and 9-5 work routines!

In fact a growing number of authors have decided to become editor, designer, marketer and sales director for their own ebooks. In return for this hard slog, instead of a modest advance, plus the 8%–15% royalty from a traditional publisher, a self-published author may enjoy royalties of 70% that is if their book is sold at a certain price (£1.49 to £7.81) on Kindle.

Self-published authors can also see their ebooks in high-street shops too. Apparently Waterstones recently made a deal with rival Amazon to sell Kindles and ebooks through its 300 stores.

Yet, it is still the case that the MOST successful self-published ebooks spring from POPULAR and ENTRENCHED genres with large online communities such as; fantasy, erotica, chick-lit, horror and crime thrillers.

To be noticed you need to stand out online. Keywords rule the day; tags and search engine optimisation has never been more important. Distinctive is good, but baffling is not.

If online is the way to break the publishing mould then every author SHOULD create a website (well, that is what the experts advise). An online presence being essential for a new author, because when people buy your book they want to find out more about you. A website is seen as the essential sales and marketing platform. This might be part a parcel of the serious self-publisher.

Another element to be being serious and professional when it comes to self publishing is recruiting the help of external editors, proofreaders and especially cover designers. Is this what ‘self publishing’ means? Well, if you want to make on average 34% more from your ebook sales, yes, you’ll recruit! So merely writing, and completing your book isn’t the end of the fight; production and marketing are still waiting for the next bout to begin.

You see readers care about formatting and proofreading. Sloppy work will get mentioned in any reviews and it will hurt your sales. Although help need not be expensive, why not get potential readers to proof read your work?!

Still, do you know who to go to for help with your website, proof reading, editing and graphic artwork input for that cover?? Seems like its more calling on who you know, or researching and hoping there will be help out there for a nominal fee.

ISN’T THIS ON-LINE PUBLISHING SUPPOSED TO BE EASY?!

After all of this work, how then do you get interest in you and your work from on-line communities? How about sending a review request document to bloggers who have written reviews about books in your genre??? Choose THE most relevant bloggers. Treat it like a sales pitch, and a personalised request is the most persuasive; so is one including details about your book and links to any previous reviews, Twitter feeds and websites to encourage the bloggers interest. Offers of interviews or guest blogs may also work in your favour to provide marketing for your work.

Are you wondering how to find the right audience online though? Well, there are ways and means to get anything, for a price. Marketing software called Tweet Adder enables you to make contact with people who follow other authors in the same genre as you.

Yet, isn’t promoting yourself or your product via Twitter merely spam? There is a fine line yes, and the information on the etiquette of this is conflicting (what a surprise)! Some experts say it is appropriate to promote your work 5 times a day, but others say once an hour. So, depending on your view this marketing technique alone could become a full time job!

It is up to you how far to take the online networking though, as a recent Verso survey estimated that barely 12% of books are discovered from social networks. 50% are still discovered from the old fashioned word of mouth, or personal recommendations.

OK, then what about freebies?? How about giving your ebook away FREE online for a limited time only?? Crazy, yeah? No, as this trick could boost sales once you sell it at its intended price.

SO, THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT, THE FUTURE IS ON-LINE?

The future seems to be one where authors will prove their merit in the self-published world of the internet, before they are snapped up by mainstream publishers. Maybe for some, yet not all self publishers are making it ‘big time’ I.E earning more than say a person could in a ‘normal’ 9-5.

A survey of 1,007 self-published writers, by the way it is one of the most comprehensive insights into the growing market to date; found that while a small percentage of authors were bringing in sums of $100,000 plus, average earnings were just $10,000 a year in 2011. In fact LESS than 10% of the survey earned LESS than $500.

Apparently, if it is the big money you want then you SHOULD focus on self publishing Romantic fiction. Romance authors earned 170% more than their peers, while authors in other genres fared much worse; science-fiction writers earned 38% of the $10,000 average, fantasy writers 32%, and literary fiction authors just 20% of the $10,000 average.

More statistics of success for you; if you are female, educated and in your early 40s great news, ebook success could be yours! Top earners who could live off their earnings were 68% female and 33% of these had a degree. High earners also dedicated more of their time to their writing, churning out 2,047 words a day. Money makes money, perhaps!

ANSWERS PLEASE!!!!!!

Sorry, no REAL answers, and no REAL comprehensive advice or support. It is all a bit vague, and confusing. Negotiating the myriad of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ of the publishing world are difficult. Whether on-line or via the traditional publishing houses, the obstacles seemed not to have really changed; different settings, yes, but the hoops and hurdles remain the same!

The language of publishing is shrouded in secrecy; how, when, what, who, blah and blah, it is just not quantified enough. It’s an unknown and closed circle of information, there are no guarantees, and little communication; really no one wants to help. I would like to see the doors to being published opened to the normal people, give them a chance too!!! I wish I could make my own cooperative, where advice and proof reading options could be available, but I don’t have the expertise! I am infuriated by the lack of clarification, support and publishing opportunities available to new writers; I wish I could change it!! The doors shut outweigh the doors open, and it’s about time this changed.

What I mean is; if you wanted to be a Doctor or Teacher or another type of professional, would the career path and way to achieve your goal be so uncertain? Would the doors be closed and the chances of success so slim? Would it be shrouded in mystery, confusing, surrounded in baffling opinions and information? Would it be the case that plenty has been documented about the career, but not enough, not the exact of how to actually achieve it!

No, I don’t think so.

There would be the help and support required; there would be information available which is clear and concise. The routes of how to begin that career would be set out for all to see.

Wanting to be a writer is akin to wanting to walk on the Moon; it’s a great pipe-dream, but what is the likelihood of that ever happening? Ummm, about a billion to one I think!

Understand what I mean?

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

One Good Run


Aspire to climb as high as you can dream

‘Without pursuing our dreams we might as well be vegetables’, Burt Munro who set the fastest land speed world record in 1967 on a 1920 Indian Scout Motorbike; he was 68 at the time.

Following a dream that others might deem improbable or ridiculous; dedication or delusion?

I constantly talk about following a life path or feeling like I am losing my purpose, and people, even those close to me, look at me like I’ve gone crazy. The concept of a life ‘path’ or ‘purpose’ seems alien to them.

I strongly believe there is more to life than the mundane day in and out routine; shopping, the 9-5, paying bills, and so on and so on. I refuse to believe there are people out there devoid of dreams, ambitions or without ‘illusions of grandeur’. How can people be happy or satisfied with merely the ‘norm’?

Everyone surely harbours some dream, grew up wanting to be something; a teacher, a politician, a dancer or an astronaut?

So, when did these dreams and ambitions cease to exist, and become condemned to the vault of the unobtainable?

Is there something wrong with wanting more or holding onto your life dreams?

Is there a time to merely give up and accept defeat?

Well, Burt Munro never gave up. He began his dedication to racing Motorbikes in 1926, and all the while he searched for new ways to make them perform faster. This relentless pursuit of his dream led him to make a world record that still holds today.

Burt Munro held onto the idea that he had one good run left in him, until the very end of his life. He didn’t abandon the verve required to succeed.

He never gave up, never relinquished what he felt he had to do, never wavered over what was right for him; and that to me is admirable, and to be honest awe inspiring.

Burt surely proves it is never too late, and that you should never give up on your dream or yourself.

Burt Munro never gave up his dreams.

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Día de los Muertos y Dia de Todos Los Santos


This will be my first year experiencing Day of the Dead, All Soul’s Day/All Saints Day in Spain. Funnily enough I haven’t spoken to any of my friends here about what is usually done to celebrate in Madrid. So consequently I have done some research, and this is what I have come with.

Oh, an interesting note to add before hand; Día de los Muertos has an uncanny resemblance to original Celtic celebrations, which were also celebrated on November 1st. The Celtic peoples honoured their dead; believing that November 1st was a day of transition between the old and the new. The people made offerings to their dead of fruit and vegetables; as those who had died (the spirits) would travel to the land of the dead together.

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) it is traditionally a Mexican holiday on November 1st; family and friends come together to pray for, and remember friends and family members who have died.

Traditions connected with this holiday include building private altars to honour the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, along with favourite foods and beverages of the departed. Visiting graves with these as gifts is part of the celebration too. They also leave possessions of the deceased at the grave.

This holiday has its origins dating back hundreds of years; Aztec festivals for the Goddess Mictecacihuatl were the inspiration.

Day of the Dead has connection with the Catholic holidays of All Soul’s Day on November 2nd.

In Spain Dia de Todos Los Santos (All Saint’s Day) is celebrated on November 1st. In Madrid the 1st has been declared as a holiday, and most businesses will be closed.

Ofrendas (offerings) are made on this day to the dead. Friends and families visit the graves of their loved ones; to pray for them, leave candles and flowers. People will travel back to their home-towns, and villages to offer their respects also.

Presents are often given to children too; usually sweets and toys (similar to Halloween).

Streets are congested with cars heading to the cemeteries, out of the city. Florists sell more flower arrangements than at any other time of the year. Bakeries produce special orders of specific pastries like Hueso de Santos (Saint Bones). This pastry is traditional and made of marzipan, egg and sugar syrup.

People in Spain are frequently named after a saint. As is the case in many other Catholic countries; consequently people have their birthday, as well as their saint day, in honour of the saint they were named after.

Another little fact to add is that the play ‘Don Juan Tenorio’ is also traditionally performed during this time in Spain. In fact, once a year for over a century this tradition had taken place!

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Opiate For The People – Capitalism and Its Control


One side of the Capitalist coin

Capitalism; our friend or foe? Its glory shines brightly, but not everyone basks in its radiance.

The reality behind the veil; in other words the myth Capitalism perpetuates to ensure us ordinary folk are kept in place, and toe the line.

The more we want the less we get, but the harder we’ll try regardless; determined to be what Capitalism says we can be – successful and rich.

After all, the free market is where competition is encouraged; anyone can be anything so long as they work hard for it. ‘The opiate for the people’, yes it is, that and popular culture.

With everyone striving to have 3D televisions and the next new BMW, no one is going to challenge the system or rock the boat.

If we all buy in to the ‘dream’ we are less of a threat, subdued and controlled.

Greed, and self deception = capitalisms best friend.

The other side of the Capitalist coin

Copy Right Notice:
© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.