Thursday, 31 July 2008

Never work with pensioners!

Mike O’Brian the minister for work and pension’s was in our local evening paper again with a follow up story from the one I posted earlier. It seems I wasn’t the only one who noticed how he had been upstaged. The story included some other pensioners who had visited the Black Country Museum to celebrate 100 years of old age pensions. Surprise surprise they were all telling him the same thing as Nora (we need more money Sir and we’ve twigged your wheeze about giving below inflation increases). This was a wide age range of pensioners who were all being extremely nice to him over it. Dear Mike’s answer though was just the same your getting your extra fifty quid fuel allowance so be grateful. Oh dear, do I see some problems on the horizon for Mike O’Brian. The National Pensioners Convention lobby parliament in October I think I might take myself along. That is if he is still in his job by then. He seems to be another in a list of hapless ministers who do not understand the needs of the pensioner population of this country. Why would he? His pension is gold plated and inflation proof. Couldn’t help but think how the latest news of another whopping rise from British Gas in energy prices is going to affect these people. Made much worse by the way they are administering it with immediate effect. They used to have a rebate system for pensioners but that disappeared a year or so back. Here we were thinking `how is our extra 50quid going to meet that` when on the screen comes the Labour leadership battle with again no leadership on the continuing struggle against Browns going bust policies. The country needs leadership now and where are our legislators? Feet up on the beech having a well earned break. Mind you in Browns case the further away the better and the sooner the better as far as I’m concerned. I’ll get on to what should happen to Brown’s pension a little nearer the time of his departure. Anybody running a book on the likely date yet?

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

It’s bulletin on the railings time again

It’s no good looking on the railings in Little Lane, for updates check out Bob’s blog.
Official statement reads: - I’m happy to report his majesty had a comfortable night and is responding well to treatment. The real story: - no more bad news and some very positive indicators are being seen. What this actually means is that although it is early day’s things seem to be going well. If this scenario continues I hope to be back in a few weeks time as big a pain in the arse as I ever was. Oh yes I will! Treatment cycle starts again today so I can expect to be a bit below par for a day or two. Watch this blog for further updates.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Never work with children and animals.

That used to be a saying amongst show biz folks who were afraid of being upstaged by them. Politicians, particularly government ministers should be thinking “never work with pensioners” these days. Yesterday on our local evening news and in our local evening newspaper the minister for work and pensions Mike O’Brian was pictured celebrating 100 years of the old age pension with centenarian Nora Morris. He must have been thinking a nice safe photo opportunity here. Little old lady of 100 no probs. Well, Nora, bless her, completely upstaged him by asking for more money and explaining that what she gets at the moment only pays for her home. She was so sweet about it explaining she had nothing to spare. The ministers response was the usual round of well you’re getting an extra fifty quid on your fuel allowance and more if you’re over eighty but from what he didn’t say no real help for pensioners is on the way and we are going to continue short changing you with the inflation increases year on year. I hope this is will be a continuing campaign by pensioners to embarrass ministers and particularly Mike O’Brian. Well done Nora.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Pensioners against Brown. The last post.

You read it on my blog first. I started this campaign at the time of Gordon’s first budget after the last general election when he robbed pensioners of the £200 bribe we were given as a sweetener to vote labour last time. For me this was an unacceptable use of his power as chancellor and just another act of meanness towards pensioners that have been symbolic of his years as chancellor.
I wanted to have the debate about his suitability to become PM but the parliamentary party went ahead and anointed him. If the debate had been held and an election for leader carried out then perhaps we would not need to have it now. I feel that I can now drop my one man campaign because it would now appear that the debate is being orchestrated by more powerful people than me. I am however sad that a proud party that has achieved so much could get itself in such a mess in such a short time and makes me think that the leadership in general have a naïve view on what is really happening (it’s the economy stupid). If things stay as they are we will have a Tory government, elected not on their policies but because the electorate are fed up with labour and we will have a Tory MP. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place.
It isn’t just the PM but the front bench whose policies are longer people friendly. To me they are a bunch of closet Tories. The country needs some real leadership not “I’m getting on with the job” quotes. Our local MP used to canvas people’s views on a lot of local and national issues and do a regular parliamentary report none of this happens now. Why I wonder? Answers on a post card please! His reports to some extent balanced the lack of output from our local labour party against the regular Lib Dem focus which actually tells us what they have passed on to member services for action and implies that they are working year round. Leaflets will elections in our ward. We need some leadership locally as well if we are to tackle the many problems facing our ward.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

OAP army to get radar guns

It appears that in one part of brum they are trialling a scheme where OAP are being given yellow jackets and speed monitoring guns to catch speeding drivers on dangerous stretches of road. They would be accompanied at times by a PCSO. I was asked for my comments on this scheme by one of our local news agencies. I have reported on this blog that I am involved with neighbourhood watch and other crime prevention activities in Sandwell so maybe that was why I was asked to give a pensioners view on this. Pisspotical, this must be another of Joker Jackies more bonkers ideas. I had to temper my comments to the press and give a balanced view but basically I think it is a non starter. If the article does go out I’ll publish here. NHW does a good job and it is mostly older people who run these schemes but to try to use volunteer pensioners in this way I think is dangerous although I can see the frustration by some people who see dangerous and illegal actions going unpunished. I’m thinking using mobile phones while driving. A police officer was knifed recently for telling a youths to pick up their litter. What might an irate driver do?
I suppose in one way it is recognition to some extent of the value of our older population which I think is grossly overlooked by our politicians and I think it is time we started to put a value on some of the voluntary work we do.
This week we saw government wanting to introduce back to work schemes for people on benefits. We should perhaps consider paying the older population for the valuable voluntary contribution it is making to our society. Not the miserly attitude that Brown & Co have adopted over the last ten years.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Oh what will he do!

Believe or not that is the title of a play wot I wrote (sorry Ernie) In a moment of weakness last week end I volunteered to write a short play. Well volunteered is not perhaps the best adjective to describe the situation but its close. My wife querying my apparent madness said something like I’ve known you for 50 odd years and I can’t ever remember you doing anything like that before. I was thinking more that WE would write this short play. We then entered a period of negotiation when I had to agree to write her into the play. How difficult can this be I thought. Oh I forgot to mention it needed to be topical, factual and funny. Well I don’t do funny. Cynical, maybe rude at times and factual if I’m on a good day but funny perhaps not.
You may have noticed I have not blogged much this week, so I guess you now know why.
Sitting in front of a blank word page reminded of the blank drawing board I used to face most Monday mornings with no idea where the next idea was coming from.
I mentioned to the grandkids what we had done and to my surprise they both said great can we be in it? Followed by a prolonged period of nagging from them and protestations’ from me that the play had been cast read and script changes agreed. What part of NO I asked do you two not understand the N and O part they said. It was all good fun but I had to promise that the next time they would get a part. No probs in making that promise I thought because there ain’t going to be a next time.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

School leaving assembly

We went along to Hippy’s final primary school assembly. He had claimed it was boring but I loved it. The classes who were leaving conducted the assembly with some delightful stuff. One section related to the kids standing up and quoting what they thought they had learned during their spell at the school. Some was typical stuff like “I learned about mountains or history or one chap said he had become a maths genius ( I believe him) but the most surprising was one lad said he had learned to make a Power Point Presentation. Not bad for a Primary School I thought. Did I feel old, at that age we could barely do our times table. Progress, Tony for me fulfilled his Education, Education, Education pledge and although there is still a lot to do that particular school is doing well. Down side was they all left today without their SATS results.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Playground jokes

Two versions of the same joke.
Version one from Hippy who was first as usual to contribute. This is the Primary school version.
Two mushrooms go to a party. A boy mushroom and a girl mushroom. They have a great time dancing and such.
As they leave the party the girl mushroom says you’re a real :- Fun Guy. Geerit ?

Grammer school version from Freddy
Sybille and Gus the mushrooms go out on a date. They dance all night and have a real good time. As they leave the dance Sybille says your “fun Gus” Bumb bumb

I make no judgement as to which I think was the best but thank them for their contribution as usual. I giggled all night, kids humour is special.

Let’s hear it (even a whisper will do) for THE PUBLIC

Well that went well. Not a whimper. There must be somebody out there except Cllr. Hosell & me who are pro this place? Is my tiny readership shy or is it as the Tories claim a big dud. I admire the leader of the Tories in a way because his opposition to it has been consistent. The other opposition parties seem to me to be the best group of fence sitters anywhere.
Note the new look site. I’m giving the badge a bit of an airing for awhile

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Let’s hear it for THE PUBLIC

Sub headline in Express & Star Friday July 10th
Deprived area loses out on £2m to fund centre
The sub headline seems to suggest that somehow 2M quid had been inappropriately spent on funding for our new arts centre in West Brom and the headline states New Row. I was disappointed with the E&S for continuing with what is now just a witch hunt against the project. The story gives a more balanced view on what had happened but the headline was so damaging. I also felt that the case for the Greets Green Partnership making this money available was not made strongly enough. They acted as they should in the very best interest of the people.
This coincided with a comment on my earlier piece supporting THE PUBLIC from my local councillor Dave Hosell I publish his comment again here because I mostly agree:- “I fully support the efforts being put in to making this building a success and help re-generate my town. I am disgusted at the constant attacks by gutter politicians (the opposition) who are only interested in cheap press publicity. We have the building now ,it is up to the management and staff of the building to ensure the exhibitions and events are exciting enough to attract the crowds. So keep politics out of it. Lets be proud of what we have got.”
So come on lets hear it for The Public from our councillors and our MPs because they are not very vocal in their support. Its time to fight back. I’ve designed a little badge which I will be wearing from time to time. If the leader of the Tories wants one I’ll put it in the post it will cost him a tenner anybody else can have one for a couple of quid (gorra keep in mind inflation now the ol pensions ain’t goin s/far).

Friday, 18 July 2008

Getting old.

I ought to make this a regular category and re-categorise my earlier post but my comments about getting older and not being able to look after yourself and the things you used to do prompted a debate amongst some of my friends. Not on the web but face to face. It appears that socialist Britain ain’t such a good place to live if you’re getting old. I don’t want to get into the detail again because most of my readership are aware of my views and our Prime Ministers attitude and treatment of older people. But I would like to relate a story that I believe to be true because I know the people concerned. Couple in their late eighties early nineties looking after each other. Both get carers allowance because they are caring for each other. At this point I should point out that they did a pretty good job. Husband dies. Wife dealing with his affairs gets DSS (or whatever fancy name it has these days) in to look at what help she can now get. Both carers’ allowances go and they claim she can now get no further help. Some detail here becomes a little vague but I suspect that the grieving widow did not get and is not getting the support she should at this time. If a mistake as been made it needs rectifying quick so that this lady can start to rebuild her life. They had been together for well over fifty years so I can’t even contemplate what she is going through without having to deal with a sudden loss of income. We need a fresh approach to dealing with this type of problem not some uncaring civil servant ticking the boxes.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

To little to late.

It was the Gordon and David show in the commons again yesterday. I can’t understand why our PM puts himself through this spectacle; he clearly is unhappy at having to face up to questions and even when they are plants he never answered. The help he was talking about for older people (over 80s only) had already been announced and how he thinks that stopping another 2p increase in fuel duty is going to help I fail to see. A significant reduction will help so I have some sympathy with Cameron’s fuel price regulator idea. At least GB has taken my suggestion and started letting Darling do some of the talking on the economy. The other measures to help hard pressed families I assume we need to wait until October for them. Who is going to be running the country while he is on his holidays because we do not have a deputy PM only a deputy leader of the Labour Party and that’s not the same thing. At least when Prescott did it we were guaranteed a few laughs during the summer. It’s funny that they all seem to know what is happening but none of them seem able to or want to take any action to improve things. I think if I hear one more Labour MP telling us it’s a global problem I’ll eat my left over’s. The ship will be rudderless over the summer HELP! umm, come to think of it isn’t that what we have now? Perhaps they will start the plotting but who am I going to write to with my Dear Gordon letters? Perhaps I better make it, Dear whoever is running the country. The Queen must know! Your Mag can you leave a comment on the blog and tell me who is running the place?
A piece in our local newspaper referred to trade minister Lord Digby Jones who should have visited a toilet manufacturing company not far from here. Apparently the visit was cancelled or the press were not invited. I couldn’t help but think of the puns here. Minister in the S***, what a load of c*** or the best, government going down the pan. Or perhaps “flushed with success” Nar.
I have no sympathy with the council workers who were on strike yesterday. Pure greed. Turning into a bit of a rant this one, sorry about that, will try to do better.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

A very pretty garden

Behind my house there is a very pretty garden. Sounds like the opening sentence of a kids novel. We planned and nurtured this over our life here which is 44 years. At this time of year it is at its best and because of the weather conditions this year it is green and lush. I’m not taking any credit for this because I’m not really the gardener. I do the spade work. “dig hole there” etc the green finger bit is my editor in chief. The plan was that all year round we would have colour in the garden. Every year we add something which adds to the resulting outcome. It’s a nice place to spend your time. I’m rabbitting on a bit here but bear with me. The first week of my treatment cycle is always the worst. To claim you feel like s*** is a fair description. I managed to cut the grass before getting treatment but this morning I felt strong enough to get out there and cut it. A lovely day but towards the end I felt exhausted. If anything would upset me about getting old and being poorly it would be that I could not look after our garden. The thought of it getting overgrown and in disrepair is not an option I want to contemplate. I guess it’s a bit like many personal things hiring someone to do it; well they wouldn’t look after it like we do. So for the time being I might be a bit slower but behind my house there remains a very pretty garden.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

West Brom’s cultural revival starts here

Oh yes it does!
I was invited along to a tour of our new Public Gallery today along with about 400 others from Sandwell Partnership. I took these pictures as part of my visit. I suppose they were preaching to the converted but not all of the delegates were supporters and one lady was well miffed that the chairs in the reception/cafeteria were plastic. She walked off in a huff without waiting to be told the chairs are only temporary. The building is not yet finished but sufficiently to show me that it is indeed an icon building. I love it and am convinced it will eventually lead the way in our cultural renaissance. The technology although up to date at present will need constantly future proofing. Technology was not all working. There is still a lot to do but as far as I’m concerned it’s well done Sandwell. I better go and have a lie down that’s twice recently I’ve congratulated our council I bet I’ll get a council tax increase now. But seriously it is a good place to start with cultural development. I’m so disappointed now I’ve seen the place that our opposition politicians have been so outspoken about it. We had a few eyes closed ears shut folks who wouldn’t see potential if they fell over it but most of us I think were impressed. When at question time they were asked about involving older people in the use of the facilities the answer was very positive. I look forward to developing a good relationship with them. If they are fibbing about this I'll publish it my blog. They wouldn't would they?

Monday, 14 July 2008

Dear Gordon 8

Not a good week again was it? The affairs of state do seem to be a heavy burden on your shoulders. I hope you will ignore the bye election result of David Davis and continue with the 42 days. That election was just a gratification of his ego and I hope you will send him the bill for it. I don’t see why you should spend my tax pounds on such a stunt.
The party seems to have got on well without you. Prime Ministers questions was a big relief with Harriet & William. You should let them do a lot more of this, it’s called delegation and it works. While I’m on that subject why do you do all the lead talk on the state of the economy? Alistair is the chancellor. I know the mess is of your making but although he seems a little hopeless at times perhaps you should let him do his job.
I promised I wouldn’t whinge in these letters so I’m going to get positive again. This week there was a report of a devise which can be used in the home to produce hydrogen from water and electricity with a devise for retro fitting to existing engines so that they run on hydrogen. Admittedly the range is short at the moment but the potential is enormous. I would volunteer to pilot a scheme like this. 25 mile range would fit my needs exactly. I’m still concerned though that it would use electricity made mostly from dirty fuel but still well worth investing in. My earlier letter I said you should ban petrol & diesel engine imports and manufacture in UK to stimulate this kind of development. The technology is out there you can stimulate this development right here in the UK. It needs leadership.
Another of your crafty attacks on pensions was also brought to my attention this week. One of the results of the cut in basic rate tax to 20% is that the gross value of personal pension contributions falls. Your sneaky introduction of higher road taxes came out in the press and it is being suggested that you mislead the commons. Isn’t that a resigning offence? I know my MP tells me I should not believe what I read in the press but the reports seem good to me. Can you confirm that you did indeed fib?
This increase in road fund licence may sound a good idea to you and I’m sure we do need to get dirty vehicles of our roads but trying to do that to fast and not coming clean (pardon the pun) about it is going to alienate a lot of traditional labour voters who own these vehicles because that is all they could afford to buy. Now they can’t afford to run them they risk loosing their jobs so they can’t afford to buy later model cleaner cars and the mess gets worse.
Is Labours policy on food inflation eat your left over’s? Because your comments at G8 seemed to be suggesting that. I can see the banners on the backs of cars and hoardings. Not as good as “Things can only get better” though is it? I suppose we are back to before 1997 (boom and bust only now it’s bust) because whatever happens things must surly start to get better or is there as I suspect a lot more bad news? We’ll be having pig bins on the streets again soon.
Have a good week.
Bob the Black Country Brummie

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Doggy poop international

A friend who is a regular reader of the blog sent me this picture. Apologies to the original photographer because I can’t give you credits. The theme of course is related to my doggy poems where addressing the dogs seems to work better than their owners. The problem appears to be international but I have to say during my lengthy stays in America I have not come across it. I was reminded of a similar notice on a lake in USA used for water sports which read “Drowning on this lake 35 wearing life jackets NIL”
Happy to report that my bit of Newton Ward is dog poop free. Perhaps a new poster is due.

Friday, 11 July 2008

I wana be

Last night was grandkids night. These are usually the highlight of the week and I have reported on our car journeys many times. As it’s getting near the summer holidays Freddy and Hippy were wired last night. I had to spend the first part of the journey negotiating with Hippy what I could use on the blog. Big sister Freddy was skulking in the back pretending not to want to participate and playing music on her phone because big bad granddad wouldn’t let her have the radio on full blast while we were talking. We got around to the end of term concert because he is leaving to go to grammar school I thought it might be a bit special. We usually are invited to these and he was telling us it was boring this year. I managed to get out of him the program and it seems great to me. The final song is from Bugsy Malone and it’s an appropriate piece about the kids singing “we could have been anything we wanted to be. I’m so proud of all my grandkids and told them so adding that they both had the ability to be anything they wanted to be and they should set their sights very high. Hippy, never shy in coming forward said “I want to be a car designer, a pilot or an author. No probs says granddad you have the ability to do any of that and well. Imagine the three of us in Nan’s 107 my chest is swelling with pride I need to push the seat back. I then tried to analyse what he might need to do to achieve one of these goals. Maths and physics would be needed for car design. That never went down well “I hate maths and physics” perhaps then we should examine the pilot and author options I thought. Now I know he can write very well for his age he has had a poem published and I’ve seen a lot of his stories which show a splendid imagination. So the author bit is a definite possibility. I suggested he could perhaps be a car designer or a pilot and an author. But what about your music? nar I wana be a car designer, a pilot or an author. Big sister was still skulking in the back. I shudder to think what they will want to be next time I ask. They have never shown any interest in politics. Wise heads I think.
American granddaughter is recovering well after her accident USA grandson is well doing what Oscar does best. I have to mention all of them because it I don’t I get reprimanded and I guess I will over this but I love it when they scold me. Having bright grandkids is a bit of a challenge.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

The best loos in Britain?

Sandwell's dilemma.
I felt really sorry yesterday for Sandwell Councils cabinet who were called upon to take another difficult decision on our new art centre The pUBLIC which opened it’s doors for the first time last week end. This building has been a controversial topic since its inception and I don’t want write anymore on that. I love the design and have supported the project since its inception but it has been dogged by problems since the architect went bust about 6yrs ago. Sandwell had a difficult decision then to bail it out and have continued to do so. I supported all that because I believe it will be the catalyst to revitalise the cultural centre of West Brom. I’m not often prone to being sorry for Sandwell Council in fact this might be a first I think it might be time for a lie down. I digress. Yesterday the cabinet were asked to stump up another £1M to cover its over spend on completing the building. They have in fact agreed to £3M over three years for running costs.
The deputy leader was quoted in the press explaining Sandwell’s dilemma. Refreshingly he came clean and said they never wanted this situation but because of the strategic importance of the building they need to do it. I still think I support this action except for a couple of nagging doubts. The building although it was open to the public this week end is not yet finished. Secondly I have not heard a good report from any of my friends or contacts who did attend. I’m going to a conference there on Tuesday so I’ll get a first hand impression.
My other little worry is that they claim the money is coming from Sandwell’s reserves and not from the tax payer. Aren’t Sandwell’s reserves tax payers money or have we suddenly found a rich benefactor?
The recent woos have given the Tory opposition the green light to switch on their whinge machine which is in fact the most boring diatribe ever.
The picture by the way is deliberately of the public loos these are so far free I believe and I’m told the best in country designed so that the girls don’t have to queue. Come on Sandwell have we got the best loos in Britain?

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

The numbers game continued.

When I was walking out of the hospital yesterday Pat enquired what bulletin we needed to post on the railings in Little Lane. She meant of course what we ought to share with our friends and associates. I had always believed in being totally open about such things but the last few months as taught me that that is not always a good idea. Some of my less than scrupulous associates/“friends” I think used it against me and many people think, oh the blokes ill we won’t bother him. Well, bollocks to that. So for my general readership, yes I may have to be a bit choosier in what I do but for Bob & Co it’s business as usual. When we analysed what we were doing we found a lot of the stuff was quite frankly head against the wall stuff and we made a conscious decision to move away from this and to stop attending meetings where people attended who we loathed and to be honest are just talking shops. You will notice I have been using the plural here because Pat & I have discussed this at length. It would be naïve to suggest that our lives have not changed as a result of this illness but we still have a full and active life and hopefully will have for a long time to come. If you choose to think that the old buggers “past it” well think again.
The blood numbers are better than for a long time. On the financial side I wonder what Harriet Harman means by trying to help small investors. Because my little portfolio is disappearing down the plug hole faster than a can of XXXX down an Aussies throat. It’ll be alright Gordon’s back next week. Oh joy.

Sandwell cultural gems

I suppose I ought to make a regular feature on these because there are such a lot of them but for today just the one.
Last night I was invited by Sue Clothier the leader of the Literature group from Sandwell U3A to a performance of Blood Brothers at the Barlow Theatre in Langley. The Theatre is better known locally as the Oldbury Rep. An amateur company who do some amazing stuff. It’s a small very intimate auditorium well maintained with excellent audio facilities. This is not a critique of the performance just to say well done to the cast, I loved it and appreciated much of the humour and social issues addressed. The University of the Third Age Literature group had been studying this play for some months. Whenever I am able to get along to meetings of the interest groups I am always impressed by the quality of work and the commitment of the group leaders. We are fortunate in Sandwell to have such people and I feel privileged to be a leading part of this movement. The even better news was that they are having an analysis of the play meeting at a local pub over lunch today. Is that civilised or what? Sadly I won’t be able to attend, needed at hospital for round two of treatment. More on that later and an update on the numbers game I hope. If routine goes as last time I’m going to have a lot more time for blogging and such over the next couple of days

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

What a waste of money.

Yesterday British Gas delivered to me four economy light bulbs. I never asked for these, in fact if I live to be 100 (which is about as likely as Miss Piggy being the next Prime Minister) I’ll never use the mountain of these I have been given by various organisations over the last couple of years. Deliver is perhaps not strong enough of a word because the method used requires the post person to hand them direct to the customer. If they are not in, the parcel has to be returned. Not only are they wasting my time and money they are screwing up the postal service. Two 40w and two 60w bulb so they also want me to sit in the dark. I’d rather see a concerted effort to keep prices down and stop wasting money on silly promotions such as this. Can you see the scenario in Gas HQ Oooh they’re pensioners, send em a couple of light bulbs then we tell em the cost of energy is going up 30% but we’re helping you save money by sending you these bulbs. Poppy Cock.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Dear Gordon 7

It’s that nutta from Newton again. 60yrs of the NHS is a great achievement. You and your government should be proud of what you have done to restore the NHS back to health. My family have over the years benefitted from it immensely. As you know I have to undergo some intensive treatment at the moment at my local hospital. The treatment is so far excellent but the admin is, well, very worrying. At my first session they lost my notes, (took two hours to find them) then just as I was about to be piped up some administrator interpreted without apology to the patient because they were trying to save money on waste disposal. At that moment I felt like disposing of it up his ????. Work stopped on me whilst they dealt with him. Word on the ward was that the senior management board had rented a hotel in Birmingham for a lavish conference the week before but they were forcing staff to penny pinch on hazardous waste disposal. I’m sure this can’t be true can it?
My wife received two letters from a marketing person on behalf of the Chair and Chief Exec of the Trust inviting her to three celebratory events on 1st 2nd and 3rd of July the letter was dated 25th June and post dated 1st July she received it on the fourth (same letter duplicated). Guess what? I received the same letter on 5th. When she telephoned to complain because we both like to support our local hospital the person receiving the call was aware of what had happened but otherwise indifferent to the complaint. “We’ve had a lora calls about this” Did they really want to invite us?
I need to go for round two of my treatment later this week. The ward staff are wonderful and very caring so I still have a lot of confidence but it might be good if the minister had a word with the chief exec to get his house in order. I’d like to be reassured.
I said in my earlier letters I would offer some suggestions on ways to get out of this awful mess you seem to have gotten us into at the moment (apologies to Laurel & Hardy). Couple of little things that might be worth thinking about. With MPs costing us so much do we really need as many? Cut the commons by 10% and the Lords by 15% asap business will go on as usual they’ll just be very vocal about you but then you’ll never be in a better position to do it. Now for something really radical! Stop dithering about the 2p increase in fuel and cut fuel duty by 20p per litre. I can hear the cries of he’s off his trolley but what our economy needs right now is a kick start before we talk ourselves into recession or worse, if indeed we are not already there. The Tories came out with a good suggestion yesterday which should help to stabilise fuel costs. How about pinching it? Stability is all important these days. Lots of ideas. I always think in brain storming sessions start with the outrageous and work back.
Have a good week enjoy your conference and bye the way we don’t waste food its already far to expensive
Bob the Black Country Brummie

Sunday, 6 July 2008

What shall we do about our older people?

Sons of Rest branch hopes to buck trend
Saturday evening’s Express & Star Newspaper carried two stories about older people. It must have been a slow news day. Sandwell council are “consulting” with members of the Sons of Rest over the future of premises which Sandwell own. In council speak consult here means we are going to close these premises but we need to go through the motions. The story featured Wednesbury Cllr. Bill Archer who I have a lot of respect for. There’ll be a lot of weeping and wailing and hand wringing but the movement itself does not appeal to pensioners today and certainly not new retirees. I’m sure there are still some who might but the thought of spending all day playing snooker or cards just about drives me to distraction. Or perhaps Friday afternoon bingo! Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh. The premises are expensive to maintain and some of them need some work. Although I can empathise with the demise of the movement pensioners cannot live in the past. We have to move on.
Which brings me to the second story;-
Headline:- Day-trippers try out go-karting
Racetrack hosts own Gran Prix.
This story is about a group of ten pensioners age range 60 to 81 from Sandwells own University of the Third Age and reported on my blog “Go-Karting for seniors” on 3/6/2008
I realise this is not for everyone but the self help model of the University of the Third Age is one which many older people can relate to. As well as organising outings and strolls they also have a music appreciation group, a Latin, Italian, beginners and improvers, Literature, Criminology, local History and a Scrabble/board game group. They hold a regular monthly general meeting at Wesley Church in West Brom on the second Monday of each month new members are always welcome. U3A is the fastest growing organisation for older people in the UK. or link via my side bar
So yes mourn the passing of Sons of Rest but celebrate that older people in Sandwell are making the most of their retirement in other ways and help them. Might be nice to get a bit of help from the council but not if it comes with a price tag that means interference.
Good luck with your campaign Bill but if any member would like to seek an alternative give U3A a call. Sorry no bingo, cards, dominoes or snooker but there's so much more to do. How about starting Wii sessions? uses a lot of energy, good, can be gentle exercise as well as keeping the mind active.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Roundabouts, islands, junctions they’re all the same to me.

I always think its interesting when our councillors get their pictures in the local press. The liberals seem to have a hot line to our local freebie The Chronicle. The body language speaks buckets. This week the paper used a larger than life picture of one of our councillors with her arms folded (body language “keep away”) proclaiming the problems we have with a mini island on Hamstead Road. All the bloody islands are a problem on this road so why this one I wondered. The mini island was a long way in the background of the picture. The other Liberal Councillor also prefers his arms folded when presenting his “more needs to be done” routine at election time. The report seems to suggest we are at last getting something done. Or are we? It seems to imply it is the road surface near the mini island that is worn out. The road surface for the full length of this road is worn out and heavily patched after the gas work. I tried about three years ago to get the head of Highways to introduce a coloured road surface near these islands but of course they had no budget and that kind of thing is very expensive. Why did the Liberals not speak up for the petition I presented to our Town Committee last week despite them claiming in their “Election Special” Action for speed limits and safer junc? This is strange to me because according to them back in April the junction was “lethal” (see picture 1) I seem to remember the Labour bloke did a lengthy piece on the problems we have on Hamstead Road a few months back in one of his leaflets ( see picture 2). Obviously the Liberals have a better publicity machine but I suspect some political shenanigans here. Come on Dave start blowing your trumpet. No good working hard for your community if nobody knows about it. Come to think about it, isn’t it time Shirley sent around a thank you note. I know she got a beating at the last election but that’s no reason not to thank the folks who did vote for you. Now we have all our councillors focused on this road perhaps just perhaps we might get something done at last.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Music in my ears

I missed my weekly car journey with my grandkids this week and subsequently my weekly quality time chats with Freddie and Hippy. It wasn’t that I did not see them but Hippy’s talents were required in other areas. He played his flute in two concerts this week. Monday at Birmingham Town Hall with the Flute Choir and last night with his school orchestra. He is in his final term at primary school and I could not help but reflect on the changes within that school since his elder sister started their 8yrs ago. Then school concerts consisted of about 10 kids with Cellos or Recorders. Last night 60 kids on a whole range of instruments including lead Flautist Hippy. Concert finished with a choir. Brilliant, and well done Birmingham for supporting this.
Today was their grandparents picnic we spent a lovely afternoon with him and his mates in what is his last picnic. Because it was 4th July the theme was America. Great to see his head mistress has Mini Mouse. Most grandparents made the effort to dress up. Pat made Hippy a Uncle Sam outfit together with stripped top hat.