Monday, 31 December 2007

Local election fever I just started to shiver.

My last post I mentioned our coming local election and a Sandwell Blogger who was attempting to undermine Dave Hosell’s campaign. Via this site David has challenged the Lib Dems to a debate on Newton ward local issues. This is I think a splendid idea. I have offered to moderate the debate. Initially I thought of a public meeting but why not online? In fact I am offering my modest little blog to all our candidates to tell us why they should be elected to serve has our councillor for the next four years, starting with the question! what have you contributed to our community over the last three years?
Thanks to the Green party commenter for your comment I hope to see a Green candidate.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Election fever

Or should I say local election fever? I live in Newton ward in Sandwell. Newton with its neighbouring ward of Great Barr is usually considered one of the more prosperous parts of Sandwell and a cash cow for council tax. For the past twenty-five years or so we have been represented by Liberal/Lib Dem Councillors. We now face a bye election due to the death of a long serving councillor. In the past labour have virtually forgotten Newton the Tories almost ignore it and publish one almost the same leaflet at election time slagging of Labour and complaining about our new public building. They usually poll approx 700 votes. The minor parties such as the Greens, Independents and those “who can’t be named” can’t be bothered to contest the ward. About six years ago a well respected Lib Dem stood down and his replacement has been disappointing along with the performance of his colleagues. At the same time a friend of mine who is very active in the community started campaigning under the Labour colours. During that time he has reduced the Lib Dem majority year on year until now facing a Lib Dem candidate unknown to our community he has a great chance of winning. All the parties recognise this so I expect a very high profile campaign. In fact it’s already started with a Lib Dem leaflet introducing a new member to the team and Labour putting out a leaflet just before Christmas. A Lib Dem Blogger in Sandwell is trying to undermine my mate and the rest of his little team by claiming Labour are promoting those “who shall not be named” in his leaflet. I think this is just them running scared and the election has not yet started. Newton I think is going to be the in place in local politics over the next few weeks. I will not be voting Labour but I will be voting for their candidate my mate Dave Hosell. More on this as time moves on. Should be a good source of material for a blog such as mine.

Friday, 28 December 2007

I don’t BELIEVE it!

You will have noticed from my picture I look a bit like dear old Victor Meldrew and at times according to my wife and family act and sound like him. At Christmas you always get the odd present that either doesn’t work or is totally inappropriate. Well this year I had both. A super grooming kit from my wife which did not work and a gift box of slippers and toiletries from my daughter. The grooming set was from Argos so yesterday off we set to our nearest store in West Brom only to be told that the item was out of stock but they have one at Sutton Coldfield “I’ll reserve it for you Sir” After lunch and after finding the last parking space in the West Mids we wait in the customer services queue. Giving the lady our reference number and details I’m thinking we’ll be off soon. No such luck. The reference number was for a store somewhere off the planet and they were out of stock. I’m getting a little annoyed but decide there are other stores so we’ll have a refund. This is bad news for me because it means I’m now committed to shop which is not an activity I’m prone to enjoy. We decide to change my slipper gift set at BHS but “sorry madam it’s company policy not to exchange toiletry items” by this time Victor is well evident in my approach to the sales assistant but she’s adamant “its more than my jobs worth” a little argument ensues but my wife insists we should leave it. She has a way of looking at me which spells danger if I persist. The bottom line is my wife managed to change her jumper which did not fit to one which was suitable and I decided to think long and hard before using Argos again and certainly not West Brom.
I don’t BELIEVE it!

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Value for money?

Last week I posted a piece on the Sec. of State for Work and Pensions announcement on the Financial Assistance Scheme. This was supposed to be good news. The scheme only gives those pensioners who have lost their pensions up to 90% and there is no provision for pensioners who are covered by the Pension Protection Fund who get 100% but frozen. I raise this again because the Sec of State in reply to a question on why it had not been paid earlier claimed he had to be sure it was good value for money from the public purse. Later that week it was revealed that MPs were planning to vote themselves a whopping 10% increase. Later the same week our Prime Minister was reported has being very upset by this move and instructing his whips to make sure it did not happen. Some of this seems a bit hypocritical to me. Are our MPs value for money? And why was dear Gordon not insisting that they and his ministers take a 10% drop to fall in line with the deal being offered to those poor pensioners who through no fault of their own have lost their pensions. I think the nasty party image is moving from the Tories. Bah Humbug

Saturday, 22 December 2007

A pensioner's prayer at Christmas

Our Prime Minister who art in Downing Street,
Gordon Brown be thy name.
Thy kingdom hath come,
its here today but not in heaven.
Give us this day a fair pension for all,
and forgive us for getting old,
so we can forgive you and your ministers.
Lead us not into means testing and poverty,
but deliver us from frustration and despair.
For thou art the policy maker,
Not forever and ever but until the next election

With apologise to the gospels of Mathew and Luke

Friday, 21 December 2007

Christmas cards and such

I have always been a bit of a practical joker and gadget man as well as a poet when the mood takes me. I owned a mobile phone when you used to carry them around in a suit case and I bought an early Sat Nav which I still use. This piece of electronic wizardly is so out of date with its maps I’ve been directed into the River Severn and sent down one way streets. It’s all very well being a joker but you have to accept that people will play jokes on you. Christmas is a good time to do this. I had a Christmas card which portrayed Santa viewing his screen on his sleigh with Rudolf saying “I don’t care what your Sat Nav says we’re bloody lost”
The best so far this Christmas is the following poem from my wife attached to my Christmas card :-
You like to blog all day, you like to blog all night.
You like to blog to Gordon Brown, just to put him right.
The dinners on the table, when I call “ready dear”
You must just blog to Tom to bend his bloody ear.
I bet you’ve blogged to Santa, to make sure he’s at home.
To tell him not to go out, without his mobile phone.
There was a time not long ago, when I knew what was a blog.
It went down your jumper, from your dinner filled gob.
With micro chips in the phone, blue tooth in the ear.
Mice in the hands, they’ll soon be deaf I fear.
I’m getting quite confused, me being a techno Pat
What to put on my feet and where to hang my hat
I want to say Happy Christmas and a very good new year.
But I’ll have to to try to blog it because your still in the blogging chair

Thursday, 20 December 2007

To talktalk or not to talktalk? that is a question

At this time of year our minds often reminisce on the past year or perhaps events that have shocked or delighted you about Christmas. Last year I was in dispute with talktalk over my broadband connection or to be more precise lack of it. They had displayed what I consider to be an example of the worst kind of customer care when along with all of their customers in my post code area cut of my service without prior notification. The reason was, so I was eventually told to upgrade the equipment at my local exchange. It took a month and an official complaint to Offcom before my service was restored. I did eventually get compensation for the down time but I vowed at the time to dump them at the earliest opportunity. Since that time I have to say my service has been extremely reliable. However my 18month contract has now expired so I can change without financial penalty. The position now leaves me with a dilemma. A bad taste from last year, good service since or start over with a new supplier. Talking with friends they seem to be suggesting that all of the other suppliers are just has bad. I would welcome some feed back on other people’s experiences or it looks like I might have to say with them for the time being.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Some observations

I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday and mentioned a subject I had written about on my blog. "I know" she said " I read your blog" I have to admit here to falling into the same ageist trap I so often complain about. I enquired how she knew about my blog because I had not advertised it amongst my non computer friends. "I looked you up on Google" she said. This blog has only been operational for a week so I never expected a rush of response so I suppose this is good news. She also commented that "you never know who reads these things" I have asked her to leave a comment.

The very nature of doing web logs is to reach to out to a wider audience and to invite input from them. In my case I have always embraced the use of computers being one of the early pioneers in the use of computers in manufacturing.
I am writing this comment during our local U3A weekly computer session at Menzies CLC in West Brom. I mention this because our group is predominantly women. We were all updating our blogs when several of them complained they had nothing to say. This may seem sexist but my experience is that with my female friends this is a rare occurrence . Some come on Girls get chatty.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Pround granddad bit

We Grandparents can get a bit boring at times expostulating about the talents of our young offspring so I tend to let Mrs.T do it she does it much better than me. However on this occasion and because it’s my blog I’m going to do it because last night was a very moving experience for me. Eldest Grandson is 11yrs old and a talented flautist he was invited to join the Birmingham Schools Flute Choir in the summer and last night performed with the choir, the City of Birmingham Flute Choir, Birmingham Schools Wind Orchestra and the Camphill and South Birmingham Area Flute Choir in his first big concert. He has also performed a flute solo at Birmingham Symphony Hall has the lead for his school choir. Last night the quality of music performed was much higher and we were all so proud that our grandson the youngest and smallest in the combined orchestra played so well. I will admit to be being moved to tears.
At the end of the concert he came over to his family Mom (my youngest daughter) Dad, big sister and both sets of grandparents all smiles and said “can I get this shirt undone so I can look scruffy again” The music was excellent he does not realise what a talent he has.
I think I prefer this kind of comment than the political stuff although yesterday I was disappointed with the pension’s statement and with our government’s attitude to people who have lost their pensions or part of it. Their pensions are guarantee. Why not everyone else's?

Monday, 17 December 2007

Secretary of State makes major pensions statement or does he?

I never expected the blog to set the world alight but a comment or two would be appreciated. After my comments yesterday about support for lost pensions the Sec of State for work and pensions announced today that the FAS is to be extended to allow up to 90% of lost pensions to be paid. This is good news for all those pensioners who lost their pensions but rather mean I feel and patronising. If they can bail out a bank they should bail out pensions to 100% including the inflation linking which the PPF does not do. I expect the devil is in the detail again so I have asked my MP to ask the Sec of State to clarify what is actually being offered and when can pensioners expect to get payments. Before Christmas I hope.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

A bit more, no a lot more.

Whats the difference between deposits held in a bank than savings help in a pension fund? Sounds a bit like the kind of question my grandkids might ask in playground joke. You know whats the difference between a cabbage and a loaf ? No good sending you to the shops is it? The difference is though that my first question is deadly serious. Our government does not seem to know the difference. They can spend £ billions supporting the deposits from banks and so they should guarantee 100% but when it comes to failed pension funds many of which have failed through their policies at best they can guarantee is half. The standard reply seems to be, we have raised X number from poverty by the introduction of pension credits. Confused I am.

I got to thinking a little more about my earlier post when Pat was criticising me for spending to much time blogging. What she did not realise was most of it I had spent online trying to find her Christmas present.

Friday, 14 December 2007

first past the first post

My wife was complaining while we were at the bus stop today that I spend to much time on the computer. I would disagree with this but for now that is not the point. In the queue were a couple of older people and a young lady in her late teens or early twenties. When my wife got to the bit about me spending to much time "Blogging" the girl burst out laughing. And indeed I could venture a smile myself because a Victor Meldrew lookalike like me would not expect under the usual stereotype to be able to use a computer let alone have a blog. I enjoyed giving her the amusement but it is sad that these days older people are stereotyped in this way. Now this brings me to how our government treat us oldies but I better not go there tonight or Mrs. T will be right. I just wonder though how long it will be before I get a comment?

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

First Post

Not to original this but the best I could do at short notice. I have been blogging for a while via Sandwell U3A at look for Bob's blog. I want to migrate from that because it limits some of the things I can say as I am blogging from a third party source as such although i have been the lead on it. My personal views do not necessarily reflect theirs. I want to be able to comment on local issues in my community, politics, religion and some of things that are directly affecting me has an active pensioner in 21st centruary. So watch this space.