Saturday, 30 August 2008

Sandwell’s Tree Surgeons.

In what can only be described as an act of sheer vindictive vandalism Sandwell sent their tree surgeons to the grass reservation in front of my house yesterday. I have described before what a beautiful outlook my neighbours and I had with three mature hawthorn trees and well kept gardens and lawns we maintain. We had asked the council to trim the trees because they were hanging low in some places and catching telephone wires in others. Well not to put to fine a point on it these so call professional tree surgeons have butchered two of our trees and left the other (it’s not on my list mate) which is obstructing the footpath. They never made any attempt to clear the phone line obstructions. We are all distraught, so Sandwell if you want to reduce the whole area to one where residents don’t care you are going the right way about it. My neighbour complained yesterday and I complained at the time but as usual you might as well talk to yourself (it’s not on my list mate) I don’t know about paying these clowns I am minded to withdraw my council tax until something is done about it. These what used to be beautiful trees will never recover. I one act of vandalism Sandwell have ruined the outlook from my home. Shame shame shame on you. We have asked nothing of you for over thirty years the time we have been looking after this grassed area and for you to take this attitude is well, tantamount to spite.
Do you get the idea Bob is just a touch peed of with his council. I’m going to email this to some councillors to get their reaction.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Petitions, Public Question Time and Such 2

In my post Petitions, Public Question Time and Such on Friday 27th June, labelled politics and such. I referred to three issues at our last Town Committee meeting. A petition regarding road safety on the busiest stretch of road in our town ( I presented this on behalf of our local neighbourhood watch association) A question concerning transparency with the claims made in political leaflets and a comment about how I thought the leader of the Tories would carry on doing what he does, whatever.
Next Thursday is the next meeting of our town committee so I thought I would remind myself and my readership of the state of play.
At the end of the post I made some predictions:-1) The petition, will get lost in council speak, they will claim that the road is safe and we should all go away and forget it.
2) Question, will largely be ignored on the grounds that they could not possibly submit to things like that because it may compromise their relative political postures.
3) The leader of the Tories will ignore my comments and carry on feeling smug about what he is doing.
The way the system works it that you get a letter telling you they have received your question or petition followed by a detailed answer some weeks later.
Let me deal with item three first, the leader of the Tories is doing exactly what I predicted.
Question regarding transparency and councillors reporting to the committee. I now have detailed reply. This is the longest most polite “clear off you must be joking” letter I have ever received and much in line with my prediction. It will now be seen as a resolution at the next meeting but to me it raises more questions than it answers and basically means we aint gonna change mate, so shove off. The letter to me means scroungers charter. There should/must be a way of challenging some of the claims made in these political leaflets. Hopefully I will make the point at the next meeting that I am not satisfied with the reply. I wonder though if any councillors might decide that it is in their interests to be more open at these meetings and do independent reports. Now that would be breaking the mould. I won’t hold my breath.
The road safety petition is still in there fighting but I am hearing rumours that they are trying to kick it into touch by using the rouse that a Red Route is being planned for that road and this would be the subject of an inquiry during the process of considering the Red Route. This will take months and because a Red Route has already been thrown out once may never happen.
Looks like the predictions were pretty accurate after all. Can’t help feeling that local democracy is the looser here. If you want to change things you have to work hard to do it. Difficult at this stage to see how I might re-group and come back with a different angle for the same problem. The system is not designed to support the little guy but to protect the system. Perhaps we should think about organising a lie down in Newton Road at peak times and inviting the press. And before you think Oh no he wouldn’t, oh yes I would.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Liberals shoot themselves in the foot.

Gerry asked me to be nice so that is what I am going to try to do with this piece. Focus on Newton No 273 was delivered a few days ago. With the sub headline “working for you year round” I’m reminded of the 3/4 months they had off recently when they never attended council or town committee meetings but I’m being nice, so no more on that.
Recently there have been a couple of stories in our local evening newspaper concerning the closure of Sons of Rest facilities in our Borough. Tory from Wednesbury was one of the leading opponents to this and had some good press over it so it was not surprising that our Liberals thought they would get in on the act. Problem is they messed up just a bit. Headline;- Councillors say they will call in decision for further investigation. The article refers to Great Barr & Yew Tree councillors Joyce Underhill and Sadie Smith. Joyce Underhill represents Newton Ward of course. I have been concerned for some time that her main interests have been outside our ward. It must be that nasty man from the Express & Star getting the facts wrong again. Councillor Mrs. Underhill goes on to claim that the club in Great Barr had a big money revamp less than three years ago. My recollection of this was that it was a face lift low budget paint job with the work carried out by young offenders. I was one of the local big wigs invited to the official opening. She then goes on to claim that as far as Great Barr is concerned we have no leisure centres at all apart from the Sons of Rest and the Tanhouse Centre. Again this is stretching the truth just a tad. We have facilities at St. Bernards, Holy Name community centre and at Allen Memorial Church. Calling in this decision for the scrutiny board may seem to some to embarrass the council but it will only delay the inevitable. We do need facilities for our older people but Sons of Rest is not it these days. If these groups are so vital why are their numbers falling. We need a broader look at what older people need not this knee jerk reaction for a few cheap votes. I remember a couple of years back a council report following a select committee on older people. Time to dust it off and check the evidence again and the recommendations.
Now that was nice for me. If Sons of Rest members want help in organising new groups then contact Bob the Black Country Brummie but it’s no good putting your head in your hands and expecting local councillors to help with this one. We know that if our generation want something doing we better do it ourselves.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Blog Action day

It’s going to have to be campaigning for all stores above a certain size to be compelled by law to provide toilet facilities.
I’m not proud of this but I use this example to make my point. With my health complaint and for many of us oldies we have to pee more frequently. I plan for this eventuality but sometimes the best laid plans fail. Recently I was in the Staples store in West Brom when I needed to go. I asked the check out guy if I could use the loo. “sorry mate” he explained we don’t have a customer loo. But it’s urgent I explained and it was. He didn’t seem concerned just rephrased his response. West Brom is not well served for public loos so I know that without some urgent action “Huston we have a problem” It’s too far to get in the car and go home so nothing else for it but to pee in the bushes at the front of the store and take my business elsewhere. Not very pleasant for other customers and although I tried to conceal my activities from the public I fear this was not totally possible. It’s now Bob the Black Country Flasher courtesy of Staples narrow minded approach to customer service. So a big raspberry to them and a campaign to get toilet facilities in all stores. A private members bill perhaps we could call it the Provision Of Toilets in Stores bill POTS or POTTY bill. Oh that’s a relief.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Some people just hate you

There’s nothing you can do about it. They take an instant dislike to you because you are what you are.
About 7yrs ago just after I retired I started to take more of an interest in local politics and in community activities. We had initially thought that because our area had declined we would look for a house outside Sandwell and move. Eventually though we both agreed that we liked our little home and perhaps we should spend more of our time trying to improve things for our community generally. We started to attend community forums and it was when we attended one of these that we met one of the most obnoxious people I have had the misfortune to know. It was our first time and during the discussion she interrupted many times, challenged mine and my wife’s contribution or copied it and stressed the point endlessly as though it were hers. At the tea break my wife said how do you know that women? I don’t I replied, then why is she behaving so badly towards us. Another member explained that it was her style anyone she considered to have a superior knowledge of a subject falls into that category and clearly your knowledge of computers and new technology is enough for you to be top of her hit list. I didn’t believe this but I’m afraid it was not a bad description of the state of play. We thought that it was because she was so much older than us she was forgetful. Since that date she has spread out into many areas of our community life and I have to say that the loathing has now become mutual. These days I don’t want to spend time with people I dislike let alone those who behave badly towards me so I tend to avoid her if possible. This restricts some of our activities but in the main I think it is better for all concerned. The problem arises if we have arrived for a meeting or event and she turns up. I’m faced with a choice, stay and suffer or leave I’ve often chosen to leave but this is not always possible if you want to get something done. I’ve tried being nice, that was seen as weakness. I’ve tried dropping the intellectual level, that’s seen as being patronising, I off course have hit back in my in your face way and although she backs off when this happens “ignorance is bliss” takes over and she comes back. Nowadays I just try to ignore her but how do you deal with someone like this? My new strategy is surprise. No prizes for naming this individual. Most local people active in our community will know to whom I refer.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Virtual water

This was a new one on me but apparently 40% of our water is now coming from some of the most at risk water areas in the third world. We import too much food which is produced for us in these countries and there are now growing (pardon the pun) concerns that this trend is not sustainable.
This got me thinking (always a bad sign) Over here in UK don’t we have too much of the stuff? Which is causing us a lot of problems. Oil tankers arrive daily at our ports unload tons of the stuff and then return home empty. Why can’t we fill em with H20 and sell it to whoever wants it. I know oil and water don’t mix but it is more than possible to devise a method of covering the tanks to allow the water to be kept clean enough for treatment at the port of arrival. Eh might earn us a few bob in foreign currency to. Or am I now totally of my trolley?

Saturday, 23 August 2008

For Gerry

I’ve had a complaint. I know you can’t believe it but we all face criticism from time to time. My friend Gerry tells me she is unhappy with some of my more recent posts containing too much anger. In my state of health she feels I should be thinking positive thoughts. She of course is right and as she represents about 30% of my regular membership I better pay attention. So Gerry this is for you and thank you for taking the trouble to call and tell me.
I better shelve the idea of doing “Liberals shoot themselves in the foot” and I was saving the best to last especially after receiving Focus on Newton No273 and I’m just warming to Nick Clegover.
Apparently The Pensions Minister who I criticised the other day is her MP and a very good local MP. My apologies but when he talks on pensions its Gordon who speaks and its utter twoddle. Oops slipping to anger here again. Enough grovelling.
This picture from my friend Brian Tuckwell lightens the mood and pretty well sums up things I think for me these days. Enjoy and keep sending the comments.

Have a nise day

Friday, 22 August 2008

Tories shoot themselves in the foot

I thought I ought to cover all our local political parties because it is not just Labour who are messing up. This link from Cllr Bob Piper I thought was great Cameron apparently thinks Bolton is in West Yorks it is of course in Lancashire.
Our local Tories do very little year round in our ward so no risk of them putting their foot in it, except that is their leader who happens to live on our patch. Well never mind we all have our crosses to bear. Whenever he opens his mouth about our new Public Art Centre I feel like putting my foot in it. His whole credibility has leader of the party must now be put into doubt after leading them all to face a Standards Board for asking the council to act illegally. I think that is foot deep enough in it for me. Last night he was posturing again in an Express and Star article trying to justify his position on the projected cost of the Standards Board investigation of their behaviour at £36000. That’s £3000 per Tory Councillor. Well I’m right behind Sandwell Council on this one but I think if the complaint is upheld they should charge the Tories for costs. The sooner the Tories dump Cllr. Ward the better so that we can move forward with a much needed credible opposition. With his continued attacks on this building the Tories are in effect trying to destroy the grass roots development of art and culture in West Brom and beyond. I do hope Sandwell Council will pursue this matter. The Tories are talking down my town and I will not have it. We badly need this and the other development that is following on. Most of our Tory opposition come from the other towns so not surprising they should be envious of the development in West Brom but I’m surprised at him fighting their corner so avidly. For our part of the borough we need help in fighting for a new doctor’s surgery and for the building of a clinic in an appropriate place that will serve the needs of Newton and certainly not at the Scot Arms.
Bob the Black Country Brummie verdict: resign Tony while you still have some credibility. Withdraw your motion (if that’s possible) and save the council £36000 and concentrate on more vital local issues. You know it makes sense.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Labour shoots itself in the foot, part 2

This time it’s pensions.
Yesterday I bought the Guardian. This is not a paper I regularly read but it was the only one without a front page story about a pervert. The Daily Mail was the worst with its best and worst headline but why oh why can’t they let our athletes enjoy the limelight without trashing it in that way.
I digress. On their letters and emails page there was a couple of letters of note. Recently there had been some comment on pensions and our hapless Minister for Pensions Mike O’Brian MP felt he just had to defend his boss and Labours record on pensions. I quote “the government is committed to tackling pensioner poverty.( this took a second or two to sink in I’m thinking which planet does he live on) In 1997 the poorest pensioners lived on £69 per week - today pensioner credit means no pensioner need live on less than £124 a week. This winter there will be an extra £50 on top of the winter fuel payments for households with someone aged 60-79”.
Well firstly he wants to try and live on 124 quid a week and secondly the increase he mentions nowhere near keeps up with the underlying inflation his boss has been cheating pensioners out of for the last ten years. Pensioner credit is the most hated form of pensioner means testing ever devised and shows that we have an uncaring minister handling things. The extra 50 quid he mentions will not cover one month’s gas payment. He is from a long line of Labour ministers who think they can ride rough shod over pensioners. Malcolm Wykes (strategy avoid going to meetings where pensioners will ask awkward questions), Steven Timms ("you’ve never had it so good" booed at pensioners parliament, Peter Haine ("have to make sure pensioners are value for money" introduction of FAS) and now the idiots guide to pensions Mike O’Brian. He goes on to tell us that from October it will be easier to claim pensioner credits, housing benefit and council tax benefit in one free phone call. Can you imagine; press one for council tax, two for pensioner credit etc etc ect “ all our pensions advisors are busy you a number 682 in the queue your call is important to us an advisor will be with you shortly” press 25 if you are still awake oops sorry your time has run out no award this time try again later. That is if you eventually get to speak to a human being.
A later letter reminded George Osborn that it was Margaret Thatcher who cut the link with pensions and earnings. If labour had re-introduced this link; Mr O’Brian; when requested, basic state pensions would now be 155 quid a week. We would have no need for means testing and you could fire that army of civil servants you have administering it. So please don’t write in the press such utter twoddle and give us a decent basic state pension now. Gordon’s slight of hand solutions have been spotted you are not fooling any of us any more.
Bob the Black Country Brummie verdict ”must do very much better”

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Labour shoots itself in the foot

I’m talking local politics here. Our ward are being supplied with new re-cycling wheelie bins for plastics metal paper ect. We had ours a couple of weeks ago fitted with a faulty wheel. We are getting these first because we are the largest user of the existing service in Sandwell. So well done to us. I know a couple of our existing councillors including Labour Cllr. Hosell have been working hard to bring the new service to our ward first.
Councillor Hussain who is the cabinet member for this sort of thing can be seen in the picture taken from last nights Express & Star newspaper with the bin service staff and their new truck. Wonderful stuff and very good PR for Cllr. Hussain. He has completely ignored his colleague Cllr. Hosell who should in my opinion have been on this picture. It is quite common for cabinet members to take this line and ignore their local colleagues but in my opinion not acceptable, especially from the same political party. So it’s a Bob the Black Country Brummie reprimand for Cllr. Hussian, not good enough.
I also have to criticise Cllr Hosell though because I know that he is working extremely hard in the constituency he is ignoring a lot important issues. If they are not already distributing the next Focus newsletter the Libs will be preparing it and I am sure with a picture taken by one of our new bins claiming credit for bringing them to Newton first.
David, it is no good working hard if you’re not telling the constituents what you are doing. In three years time at this rate you will loose the local elections and we will probably get an unknown Liberal from outside our ward who only cares about Great Barr and at the next local elections we will get returned our sitting Cllr with all that that implies. It’s the “we always vote Liberal” culture over here. Complain to Cllr Hussian and his cabinet colleagues about this policy of theirs and lets see you in more good news stories in the press. You know it makes sense.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

It’s Bulletin on the railings time again.

I am delighted to be able to report that his majesty continues to respond well to treatment at this time. He has asked me to pass on his thanks for all the good will messages that he has received.
The reality:- blood numbers are looking good except for one which persistently remains high but is moving quite dramatically in the right direction. I thank all my family and friends for the good will messages and for the odd “are you still here?” comment. I’m feeling good.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Blog action day

According to my MPs blog 15th October is blog action day. What am I doing for Blog Action Day on 15th October? Come to think of it, I have a list of local issues that might be worth commenting on. Now I would leave a comment on his blog but I know it usually doesn’t get published so I’ll do my own and see if it catches a cold.
Action to restore free car parking for disabled people at Sandwell Hospitals.
Lobby to get our doctors surgery which closed replaced.
Campaign for meaningful consultations with our Primary Care Trust not the take it or leave approach we currently have.
To fight for the sighting of our proposed new clinic to be in an area that will not contribute to the traffic chaos at Scot Arms Junction but support properly the residents of Hamstead and Newton not Great Barr
Campaign to have charges removed for pensioners for car parking at Sandwell Park farm and to remove the entrance charge during week days.
Lobby to get the outrageous increases applied to meals on wheels reversed.
Campaign for the compulsory provision of customer toilets in all department stores.
Bring up the provision of Traffic Lights at Junction of Hamstead Road and Newton Road
Carry on my campaign for more transparency of what our councillors actually do.
I wonder will I get any political support for any of this?
Nah I don’t think so but it will make the blog very contentious. I might even look at some outside issues for my contribution.
Any ideas?

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Stratford upon Avon

Doggy poop capital of Britain.
We visited Stratford for a day of recuperation on Friday. I always enjoy visiting the town. It’s always busy, clean and friendly. Lots of little shops and plenty of tourist attractions if that’s what turns you on. Pat likes the shops and I get to have a good lunch and a stroll along the river. When we eventually found a bench which was not occupied we stopped for a well earned rest and to watch the boats meander along the river. I thought I recognise that smell and sure enough there beside our bench were several offending dog poops and worse I had stepped in one. I guess the smell was enhanced by the fact that it was drying out after the recent rain. I suppose once you are aware of it you can see it everywhere. I know a lot of work is going on with the new gardens but the litter present and the little present I got was well bloody awful. This is not the Stratford I like to visit. So come on Stratford clean up your act particularly the dog poop our tourists don’t want that when they visit.
We perhaps need a little reminder for our patch so I came up with this little poster for my front garden.

Team work

Head cook, bottle washer and nurse. I’m delighted to say that Mrs. BBCB is doing well and getting back to life near normal. I’ve been relegated from head cook to my normal role of assistant and nursing is no longer needed. Bottle washing though still seems to be my province.
It’s a great relief to me that team work and calm is being restored to our daily lives. We have always been equal partners and since we retired have tried to do as much as possible together. If the missus is asked to do something I always get roped in and visa versa. It’s always team BBCB on any job these days. I suppose over the last few days with my health problems and having to look after the wife it must have been funny at times perhaps I’ll write more about that later for now though I’m just glad that things are getting back to some form of normality.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Art & Culture in Sandwell

Why are the Tories trying to kill off art & culture in our Borough? I don’t know the answer but I think that is exactly what they are up to.
I had to do some research to enable me to promote a motion for debate at a local older peoples group. The motion concerned the role of our new art centre in West Brom. Whenever there is a bad news story about this venue and there have been plenty, it is always the leader of the Tories who is quoted in the article. They (the Tories moved a motion at the last council meeting to stop any further expenditure on this building). This would effectively mean closing it.
During the writing of my speech I could not help but be drawn to the comparison of the controversy of providing libraries for free and for free education for the masses both of which the Tory opposed. Now they want to effectively close down a facility that will inspire our Borough’s children for generations to come. The Leopard clearly has not changed his spots. It’s not reds under the beds but Tories in the stories over here in Sandwell. Our local MP who should be supporting this facility was only luck warm in the local press recently when he said it was time they (THE PUBLIC) got on with finishing the job. Well they are getting on with it in a professional manner. What worries me is why should the Tories be taking this hard line stance? And now? It cannot surely be that they see the problems that have faced the council over funding support as cheap publicity. Short term it might be a few votes but long term they must have other reasons. The Tories must not be allowed to stifle the development of art and culture in Sandwell.
The Labour group and in particular Cllr. Badham should be congratulated over their wisdom in continuing to support this project.
Long Live Art & Culture in Sandwell

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Jokes a bit more.

You will remember I asked via the blog and my address book for some jokes for our play. Well thank you all for your contribution and I must say the belly laughs they have given me. Not only do I have plenty of choice I have enough to do a stand up comedians routine. Great to see we still have a sense of humour even with old misery features running the country.
My favourite but totally unsuitable for the play. But then again? Just maybe!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Head cook, bottle washer and nurse?

Yes you guessed it. The misses is giving me a bad time. Having her one arm immobilised is extremely frustrating and painful for her but the rest of her body is still fully operational and chasing me around. I’m not complaining you understand I’m delighted to have her home but it’s getting difficult when she complains about pretty much everything I did while she was away and since she got back, the cleanliness of some of my washing up the house was untidy and well I will admit to dinner on Monday night not being exactly to her usual high standard but I was knackered. I warned her yesterday that if she carried on I would take her back to the hospital myself. Breakfast in bed seemed to cheer her up and I had a plan for lunch and later that should have got me some of my brownie points back. My loading of the washing machine was not up to scratch either. I better buck my ideas up. I wouldn’t mind all this criticism if it was the first time during our relationship that I have been called upon to be carer in fact I’m an expert at it I’ve had more experience than she has. On the brighter side though she will not be reading the blog for a day or two so I can get away with this drivel. Unless of course one of you lot rat on me! You wouldn’t would you?

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Some save the planet ideas worth considering, Gordon

I have in the past posted in my Dear Gordon spot some suggestions on how our government might lead the way in saving our planet (or at least our bit of it). One of which was to ban the production or importation of petrol/diesel engines and develop clean alternatives.
The following items are from gizmag emerging technologies magazine and from a favourite company of mine

Given the reluctance of the big four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers to sacrifice their existing markets by introducing electric motorcycles, the window of opportunity for small and innovative manufacturers to work with the Chinese manufacturing powerhouse to create pollution-free motorcycles that run at negligible cost is wide open. A new electric-only motorcycle manufacturer hit the scene this month in Thailand, moving the country ahead of many first world countries in the quest for sustainable transport. It borrows quite a bit from what has been before, but it looks the goods.

None of this is any good unless the electricity is produced by clean technology which is where Nanosolar come in;
I like this chart from their blog site: A comparison of the distance a car can drive based on either of the following forms of energy, each produced on 100m x 100m of land (2.5 acres):

Biodiesel 21000km
Bioethanol (wheat) 22,500km
Biomass to liquid 60,000
Biogas from corn 67,000

How come that biofuel does not really cut it? Electric cars are about four times more energy efficient than fuel based cars, no matter whether they are based on biofuel or other fuel. This is because any fuel engine mostly creates heat and thus wastes the majority of the available energy units. Combine this with plants not being very efficient solar energy harvesters relative to semiconductor based solar electricity, and the result is this huge difference.
In other words, it is clear that if the goal is to maximize energy efficiency, the end point to go after is all-electric cars everywhere. Moving all of transportation to all-electric would essentially cut in half our overall energy consumption while delivering the same distance.
My question is why are we not trying to develop and harvest this kind of technology here in UK? A couple of mountain sides filled with solar panels and a policy to ban petrol and diesel engines from a fixed date and we are no longer reliant on expensive foreign fossil fuel. Add to this the development of hydrogen fuel cells and we have lift off. So why are we dithering? And why are we still insisting on having 5% biofuel in our tanks?
Do you notice anything about the blog? Well it’s getting technical, I better go and have a lie down. Once I finished work propa I promised myself no more technical stuff. Back to jokes again soon I promise. I hope I represented gizmag & nanosolar well. I’m confused dot everything. I think I better ask my MP the minister for technical stuff. I don’t expect to be purchasing another car in the near future but if and when that day arrives it will not be petrol or diesel driven.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Patients and visitors Grrrrrrrr

No I am not a snob or a racist but I suppose you could be forgiven for thinking that if you do not read this piece thoroughly. It might turn into a bit of a rant. I have had to spend a lot of time this weekend at Sandwell Hospital. Not has a patient but a carer. Mrs. BBCB needed some surgery and this was scheduled for Sunday. The government have invested a lot of money in health care and it shows. Although Sandwell Hospital is starting to look it’s age. We could not fault the treatment we received from the surgeon, nurses’ porters’ cleaners orderlies’ excellent. Well done to you all. So what’s my beef I hear you ask? Why it’s the patients and visitors or a tiny proportion of them who take advantage of the situation and flout the rules. Before going onto the ward you get a leaflet giving you what you can expect and what they expect from you. Simple enough, phone numbers, visiting times 2 visitors per bed. Now what part of 2 can be translated in any language to 7? I only saw an Asian family taking this liberty and because it was right opposite us it caused us much concern. When you enter the ward a notice tells you about switching off mobile phones. This happy group were using mobiles throughout both visiting periods yesterday. After 48yrs of marriage there is a sort of telepathy which exists between us, especially when one of us is poorly. I was trying to comfort Mrs. BBCB and getting slowly enraged. Perhaps it was the steam coming from my ears or what’s left of the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. She dropped her oxygen mask and said don’t you dare even think about it at this time. There will be opportunities later to sort it out. We had to endure the racket coming from that bed as did other patients. Quite frankly it simply is not fair. I don’t blame the staff on duty last night because they had a couple of patients return from surgery who needed a lot of attention and they were at full stretch. Visiting time should be happy times but surely they must consider the needs of all the patients not just their own selfish enjoyment. Haven’t yet decided how to deal with this, Mrs. BBCB needs to be consulted and her wishes followed.
The second whinge is smoking at the main entrance to the hospital. There are notices telling you that smoking can only take place in the hut provided not under the entrance canopy. Can these die hard patients and visitors read? I don’t think so, because they are out there puffing away oblivious to the rules. Fag ends left on the floor and a smell of stale cigarettes when you enter and leave. There’s no escape. This is not a new problem so I can’t understand why site security does not enforce the rules? And save the rest of us from this filthy exhibition.
I am happy to report that my editor in chief is recovering well. If I have to visit tonight I can’t promise the same degree of restraint I showed on previous occasions.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Jokes the best and worst so far

The best:-
A plane was taking off from Kennedy Airport. After it reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom; 'Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to Flight Number 293, nonstop from New York to Los Angeles. The weather ahead is good and, therefore, we should have a smooth and uneventful flight. Now sit back and relax.... OH, MY GOD!' Silence followed, and after a few minutes, the captain came back on the intercom and said, 'Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier. While I was talking to you, the flight attendant accidentally spilled a cup of hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!' A passenger in Coach yelled, 'That's nothing. You should see the back of mine!'

The worst:-
I say I say I say have your heard about the MP who didn’t fiddle his expenses
No I haven’t heard about the MP who didn’t fiddle his expenses
No neither have I, they haven’t found one yet.
Boom Boom

Keep em coming I have a few weeks before decision time and this is fun.

Friday, 8 August 2008

I need a joke

In my earlier post , Oh what will he do, (25/7/2008) I talked about writing a play for International Older Peoples day 1st Oct. Well rehearsals are going very well and the characters are settling into their parts and learning their lines. As part of one section to lighten the mood one character tells a joke. I had a joke had in mind and for the first few rehearsals it was very funny but now it falls rather flat. For our filming performance or performances I have warned the cast that I want to change the joke so that only the story teller knows it. It has to be funny so that it gets a belly laugh or at least a good grown from the rest of the cast in that scene. My email network is also being asked to forward suitable material. It can be smutty, political, topical but not down right rude I although a bit of innuendo would do no harm. I’ll publish the chosen jokes. To get you started this is what we are currently using:-
“Did you hear the joke about Dolly Parton & the Queen dying on the same day and waiting to get into heaven? Trouble was there was only one place left that day.
St Peter says to Dolly give me a good reason why you should come in. Dolly shows him her boobs and says a perfect pair. St. Peter then asks her Majesty the same question. The queen takes a tissue from her hand bag wipes her nose goes over to the heavenly loo and flushes it down. “Come in” says St. Peter and “sorry Dolly”. Dolly protests strongly. Well St. Peter explains a Royal Flush beats a Pair in any game no matter how big they are”

Thursday, 7 August 2008

It’s expensive being ill

I got to thinking the other day about some of the hidden costs of a long term illness. A couple of years ago our miserly hospital trust board who were in debt introduced car parking charges for disabled badge holders and made big increase to parking charges for everyone else. I off course made a big fuss and campaigned vigorously against the disabled element of this policy. It didn’t affect me directly but to me it was just a tax on the sick. We got little local political support for the campaign but I met some super people from various older people’s and specialised disability support groups most of which were older people themselves. I organised a group’s petition which went to the hospital board from the chair of one of the groups. Our campaign failed to get the policy reversed but there was a significant spin off. A lovely man called Alan Jones from Access Alliance who campaigns locally for wheel chair users really got his teeth into the campaign. Eventually a token scheme was introduced where you can purchase up front ten car park tokens for £10. Each token covers a stay at any of our trust hospital sites. The scheme was badly publicised at first but Alan and a couple of the other group leaders started purchasing these tokens for their members and eventually it was given more publicity at the hospital itself. The last time I used one of these it saved me £2.50. Well done Alan, Graham, Sue, John, Daphne and Co I’m proud of you. The quiet minority who fight for justice. I big raspberry to the politicos’ who gave it lip service then looked the other way. But why did we have to have the struggle.
Reminder to Bob! Get some more tokens.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Northern Rock/Cock Up

Economics are not that difficult unless of course they get mixed up with politics. More going out than coming in, trouble. Take this scenario and ask the question are the people likely to suffer traditional government voters? If the answer is yes then you get into the economics of the loony bin. Government takes over a bank at enormous expense to us the tax payers. Government promises to get back the money. After six months bank makes a whopping loss because the position with its book was worse than expected. Government in effect says oh dear lets just write off £3B it’s only £100 per tax payer in UK. This cannot make economic sense unless its votes that count. I want my 100 quid back because I would not invest in this bank at this time. The previous chancellor dithered over the various ways to save pension funds that he had helped steal and had gone into liquidation and a pension’s minister claimed they had to be sure the schemes eventually offered were “value for money” and then they only offered partial recovery of what is in effect a saving scheme for the future. There is no value for money option in what is being spent now. If this is Gordon’s plan for a revival of fortunes I fear “more needs to be done” This gets the thumbs down from me. Could a nationalised bank bankrupt a country? Because that is what is happening here.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

A visit from the police helicopter

I posted earlier about the introduction of additional solar lighting in our back garden and how I felt it was a bit over the top. I even light heartedly suggested we might get complaints from air traffic control at B’ham International. Mrs. BBCB was not impressed with me this morning because apparently during the early hours the police helicopter awoke our road by hovering above our house with its search lights busily scanning the road. I say awoke, that would not be totally correct because I slept through it. No insomnia last night. I blamed the lighting. Mrs. BBCB description went something like this “it was like having a double decker bus on the roof revving it’s engine and you just snored through it”. I hope they apprehended the villains.

Pensioners to freeze this winter

I came across what must be one of the barmiest rules being used by this government to date. It appears that pensioners who qualify for Warm Front grants cannot have old boilers replaced until they actually breakdown (no hot water rule). Replacement can then take several weeks. It takes two weeks for an assessment. Hello, come on, what is going on? During the winter months this is the last thing older people need. All the fuss about becoming energy efficient, big increases in fuel costs but sod you lot, freeze, while we sort it out. Now is the time to be considering changing that old boiler and if our government were serious about energy efficiency and helping older people to stay warm they would be kicking somebody’s arse about this. It’s a bloody disgrace. Shame on you.
If anyone doubts the accuracy of this story, ring Warm Front on 08003162808
Just another example of barmy Brown’s vision for Britain. I hear he is planning to bring his new cabinet to the West Mids and do walkabouts. I do hope I get invited I might have to get my pensioners against Brown badge out again. I doubt though that I would be considered anything but a crank and security risk. Mustn’t take a pensioner seriously.

Monday, 4 August 2008

The garden at night

I have posted on the pretty garden behind our home a couple of times before. Every year we try to add new stuff by way of plants or fittings to add to its ambience. A year or two ago we added some solar lights and last year a couple more. Mrs. BBCB noticed that we had a dark area and decided that we needed to invest a bit more on garden improvement. A couple more solar lights were purchased and last night we had our first full viewing. I’m shocked because when they were all on I recon you can see our garden from space. The garden glowed. I was expecting complaints from air traffic control. Three in a line looks like the flight path into B’ham International. We’ve gone a bit over the top. Don’t know what the other nocturnal animals out doors think but I think we need a rethink on this one. Bring em indoors so save on the old lecky eh?

Sunday, 3 August 2008


A friend of mine from Poetry Wednesbury International (see side bar for link) introduced me to this technique at a recent poetry workshop. This is my first attempt. Self explanatory I hope.

Oh to be in England

Oh to be in England now summer is here
The beaches are empty there’s panic and fear
Dark clouds are gathering a storm is near

Inflation is rampant and people in fear
No government help for the poor, oh dear
Oh to be in England now summer is here

Price increases on petrol, food and beer
It breaks my old heart to see food so dear
Dark clouds are gathering a storm is near

The Prime Minister dithers but is he insincere?
Cabinet members plot, scheme and sneer
Oh to be in England now summer is here

Ten pence tax band was cherished and dear
A back bench revolt, a kick in the rear
Dark clouds are gathering a storm is near

Gordon’s in Suffolk drinking warm beer
David’s in Cornwall sounding sincere
Oh to be in England now summer is here
Dark clouds are gathering a storm is near

Saturday, 2 August 2008


One of the side effects of my present drugs regime is insomnia. I have always been an early bird but once or twice a week these days I can’t sleep. Not one for sitting watching the tele much at any time but late night tele drives be crackers. After earlier blog leader of Tories will say what’s new here then, he was always bonkers. I digress.
Not much you can do during the dead of night without upsetting the wife and the neighbours. The blog of course. Some of my postings and email are getting dealt with and a lot of those jobs (quiet ones) around the house you always put off (I’ll get a round tuit). Last summer I bought a couple of walkie talkies in the States. Bargain price, on a whim you know how it goes. Following the instructions I have never been able to get these bloody things to work and admit to putting them in a draw labelled bad buy. Getting to the bottom of my nocturnal “what to do” list I thought “the walkie talkies”. Couldn’t find the instructions, in fear of death I couldn’t ask the wife who files these things religiously, I went back to my old engineering days when I never read them anyway and relied on pure male logic. Well surprise surprise they go on my list of nocturnal success stories. They do work and very well. We are currently testing the range, about five miles I think but they are free to use. Over and out.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Sandwell Council bites back

I must be going soft because here I am praising Sandwell Council again. It must be the pills. Lovely article in Express & Star concerning my favourite Councillor the leader of the Tories who apparently got himself and the rest of the Tories into hot water at the council meeting over suggesting that the council adopt a motion preventing any more money being spent on his favourite whinge THE PUBLIC. The labour group were quick to point out this action would have meant the council would have to act illegally and the item and the Tories are being referred to the standards committee. I love it. Perhaps now he will be more careful in what he says in public about THE PUBLIC because it is going to be a success. I think on the basis of this last fiasco the council should rename the building "The Ward Building which contains The Public gallery" then if it does go belly up he will be tarnished like the rest of us. The building though would survive and eventually go into private ownership. The Tories have for many years seen this project as a way of getting cheap headlines and publicity and I must admit it has worked for them because the Express and Star like all the press when we have a weak & ineffective opposition step in to fill the gap and this is certainly happening here in Sandwell. On this occasion though the Tories got a couple of sentences at the end. We need changes to Labour leadership nationally but we need some changes to leadership of our opposition front bench here in Sandwell.

I knew there was something missing!
Reminder to Bob! Get a propa job. New category for blog `barking mad`