Friday, 28 November 2008

Carted off to Hospital.

Wednesday morning I awoke to a severe pain in the back (I usually let her sleep). Well I say awoke because it was a sort of half awake a place between being on this planet and somewhere else. My wife who is one of the worlds gentlest people was somewhere in the background having a heated argument with someone. This situation was unreal because usually our house doesn’t function until my wife has a cup of tea delivered by me and I was in a land of pain and semi consciousness and she was arguing (this had to be serious). I tried to move but with that amount of pain I was going nowhere. After what seemed like ages she appeared at my bedside and announced you better get ready the ambulance is on its way. The row had apparently been with our locum emergency doctor who did not want to come out because his shift was nearing its end and he thought she should wait and contact our GP. 11th commandment in our family is “thou shalt not pee off Nan” this rule applies to all who threaten her family or who fail to respond when she asks for help. This was not an unreasonable request as it turned out when I got to hospital and my condition was diagnosed, pain relieved and I was almost human again.
The misses was magnificent throughout this crises but I guess with my condition she has had plenty of practice. Back home now and recuperating. The drugs used to treat my new condition do have an unsavoury side effect which means I may have to stay close to a loo for a few days. With any luck though I might be able to catch up on a lot of my delayed computer work. I wish I had a copy of the argument with the Locum.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

I came second

Last night was the awards ceremony for West Brom libraries autumn writing competition. My short story Upper level south side USB2567T266/1966 was awarded second prize in the short story category. My poem and word/pictures entries did not get awards but I’m rather pleased with myself because this is the first time I have entered a short story. It’s now smug the black country brummie. Great bunch of people our local writers see Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Short story

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

A leaflet from Labour

We’ve been waiting for months and then like waiting for a bus, two come together. What is going on? Cllr. Hosell’s leaflet contains some relevant and well thought out stories. Our ward being the best in Sandwell for recycling on the front page is inspirational and although the picture quality is poor it clearly shows a very smug Cllr. proud of the fact. Other stories were also relevant. Fighting for improved road safety on the Newton , I’m involved with him on that so well done. A good piece on the campaign for a new health centre and an update on the Durham Estate. A lovely swipe at the Liberals for not attending Town Committee meetings. I know this is accurate I’ve commented here on it. A direct comparison with recent Liberal leaflet Dave wins but if he is going to get reelected we need at least four of these per year. The downside I suppose is his inclusion of our MP as part of the team. Except for doing his monthly surgery I don’t think he spends any time in our ward and I think more likely to be a vote looser. The second leaflet was from our MP which quite frankly I felt was poorly put together with low quality pictures. During his first term we used to get a full colour Parliamentary Report which was an excellent publication this one falls far short. My summary; - “needs to do better”

Monday, 24 November 2008

Economic incompetence

And no I’m not a bloody Tory but a responsible centre right socialist. The wife’s been reading the blog and she insists we should take the money whilst we can. So I’m overruled but today’s budget statement must rank as one of the most irresponsible of all time. I would rate it as verging on criminal incompetence. Gordon did it again short changing pensioners with the inflation based increase. Increases for pensions are based on the rate of inflation in September before the budget but the inflation figure used is approx half of real inflation figure we face in the shops. Apparently we are going to get the pension increase in January this year instead of April and on top of this a sort of one off payment of 60 quid, not sure when this is going to be paid. There might also be some gain from tax changes but these are not clear. I did a little mental arithmetic on how much I thought Gordon owed each pensioner and I think it amounts to about 90 quid a week which he has cheated us out of since taking office. Thatcher started the downward spiral when she changed the system of linking pensions to pay but Brown has had 12 years to put it right and ignored us.
The Gordon and Alistair show reminded me of two blindfolded bull elephants wallowing up to their necks in a mud pond with on idea how to get out. 2.5% reduction in VAT is not going to get us going to the shops. It will help a little with our fuel bills I suppose.
The one good aspect of this package was the bringing forward of capital investment package for our infrastructure.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Gordon can stick his increase in fuel allowance for pensioners.

The news and papers have been full of speculation this weekend about the fiscal stimulus Gordon (sorry Alistair) is going to announce tomorrow. One news bulletin gave a bookie as offering 10/1on on a £100 increase in fuel allowance for pensioners. Well Gordon I don’t want it. I am not happy with the way he has treated pensioners over his period as both chancellor and PM. He has constantly short changed us with inflation increases and resolutely failed to put right the underlying inconsistencies with pensions preferring to add to the complexities of the pension’s credit system instead of giving pensioners a decent pension and letting us manage our affairs. These short term giveaways are a poor substitute for what really needs to happen. He used a £200 bribe before the last election then took it back at the first budget opportunity. No thanks Gordon I have a long memory and don’t trust you anymore. I watched the Politics show at lunch time and your body language when asked if you were considering an election next year gave it away. This is not a cure for the mess you have gotten us into but a bribe for an election next year. I also don’t want to lumber my children and grandchildren with paying back this loan at an undefined time in the future. There are other ways of stimulating the economy without massive tax giveaways. We have already had the first warnings of how he might be planning to claw it back by eliminating the free travel we currently have. I’m not making anymore predictions because as sure as sure he will be planning to get it back as soon as possible.
We need decent pensions now, an end to the Pension Protection Fund policy of not having inflation increases and a full pension for those caught in the Financial Assistance Scheme trap of only getting 90%. So come on Gordon do the decent thing at last and put your pensions mess right. I won't be holding my breath tomorrow.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Oh yes we will

Front page of our local evening newspaper The Express & Star was a story about Centro the company that provides bus services for the west Mids. Apparently they are trying to screw some more money out of the councils who provide the funding for the free bus & train services we pensioners are provided with. I was going to say enjoy but that would be stretching things a bit. The threat is that unless the councils cough up we will be forced to have to pay or at least travel half fare. This threat raises some interesting issues. Firstly with Centro who I do not believe have provided a good enough service over the time they have held the franchise. So perhaps we should be turning the threat around and asking for a better service at a lower price.
It is a good negotiating ploy; raise the spectre of withdrawing free OAP travel, see who complains, screw a bit more out of the councils and carry on as normal. Oh dear what have they forgotten? Don’t screw with pensioners. I expect if this issue does go to the next stage there will be a lot of opposition from pensioner groups including me. It’s been a long time since I was involved with a good protest this might be just the one.
So a message to all West Mids Councils, don’t be intimidated, negotiate a better deal with Centro or fire them and whatever you do, , do not even think about introducing charges for pensioners. We will make a tremendous fuss.
Oh yes we will.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Have Labour abandoned Newton Ward?

And have the Liberals been reading my blog. We received our Liberal Focus on Newton yesterday which was much as I had predicted in my earlier post “Another first for Bob’s Blog? Leading story was the saviour of Sons of Rest followed by a nice little piece on the lack of GP services in our area and their concerns that poorly maintained facilities will cause the existing doctor to leave. I would take issue with them on their story claiming there are plenty of clean public toilets in USA and the working for you year round bit. Public toilets are almost always provided by businesses over there. Regular readers will know that I tried to tease our MP to lobby for the provision of toilets in stores above a certain size in this country (blog action week). Of course this went nowhere but it might be worth raising again. Regular readers will also remember I suggested to our labour councillor who I feel is doing a splendid job that it was no use him working hard if he is not telling constituents what he was doing. The Liberals most certainly are and their policy of regular leaflets is what as kept them in power here for the last thirty years. It’s not rocket science David. Labour have not put out a leaflet since the last local election, Liberals I think it’s three.
So what conclusions might we be able to draw from this situation?
1, local labour party don’t care about the ward?
2, funding is tight and they do not have enough local support to deliver a leaflet?
3, they do not have the ability to write regular leaflets?
4, David has come to the conclusion he is a one term councillor, is trying to make an impression and get as much done as he can in the time left?
5, he is sidelined by the labour group who are not used to having a Labour councillor in Newton and perhaps he is thinking that running as an independent would be a better choice next time. Now that would be an interesting scenario. Newton as always has been a white elephant to Labour, partly because of the talents of the late Martyn Smith who was a massive champion for Newton and well deserved his longevity on the council. Things are different now which can clearly be seen by the poor quality of Liberal leaflets.
We never see our Labour MP in our ward and perhaps this is a reflection on the parties approach to us. The MP is a career politician great friend of Gordon and a junior minister so perhaps that is not so surprising. With what is happening nationally and Gordon offering a big tax bribe this Christmas could we perhaps be seeing a general election next year? How would the voters of Newton see Labour and our MP then I wonder? My guess is a big thumb’s down. But in the meantime come on David talk to us.


I just can’t seem to shake off this lethargy. Tuesday I was a panel member for a break out group at the Association of Colleges annual conference and exhibition. The group were looking at learner involvement. It was a privilege to be asked to participate but I found getting there a trial. As soon as was possible I made my apologies and left. I’m thinking I need to see my GP because this ain’t right but I can’t get an appointment until Friday evening. The alternative is to wait for X number of hours in a crowded waiting room with half the population of Newton coughing and sneezing all over me. Our PCT tell us we have plenty of Doctors for our area but surely this can’t be right. When the ceiling fell in at our surgery we were without any GP service for two weeks. What do we have to do to get a good service in our area? Go Private? I went along to the surgery to check out what the wait position was like. My wife insisted that I was not too ill to wait but I knew better. The surgery was heaving. One of the receptionists was sat behind her computer in the waiting room coughing and sneezing, next to her was an old mate doing much the same. The other receptionists are behind a screen in a small side room which means you have to enter the waiting room to talk to them. I decided I’d book an appointment whilst I was there. What I did not notice was the lady standing in the corridor that I had to pass on my way out was coughing and sneezing like the rest. If I hadn’t got when I went in I must get it on the way out. Looks like I have to suffer until Friday.

Monday, 17 November 2008


My house backs onto the Tame Valley Canal. Because of the height of the canal above my garden and the prohibitive growth of bushes it is almost impossible to gain access to or from the tow path. We can however at this time of year see movement on the canal. The usual dog walkers and the odd barge but the creatures that own the tow path are Herons. I sometimes walk and cycle this path and it is amusing to see their behaviour. They have no fear of humans. About four of them live off our patch of canal and we see them strutting along the path as if they own the place. When they are fishing if you approach they wait until you are a couple of yards away give you a look of total contempt and then gracefully fly off to the other bank and wait for you to pass. I have cycled up to within almost touching distance before getting the look and leisurely flight before they resume fishing. A wonderful experience from such a graceful bird. My mate though was not so impressed they have allegedly pinched his prize carp.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Oh yes it is

With my current treatment regime I am suffering more from the side effects of the treatment than I did from the disease itself. I am advised that this will only last for about a week and I should start to feel better. Current status is I’m doubting this to be the case but I have a few days to go so please forgive my lack of posts and the lack lustre posts I have been making. Bob the Black Country Brummie will be back in the not to distant future. I hope!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

The proud Granddad a bit more

I speculated awhile back about my lack of posts lately. Well this is undoubtedly because of my recent change in treatment which is leaving me lethargic, in a little pain and lacking in enthusiasm. My grandson does not lack enthusiasm in anything he puts his mind to. Thursday evening is quality time for us with our UK grandkids. This week Hippy was anxious about a trip he was going on from school on Friday and how he might miss out on his school work because of it. It appears that he had won a competition at school and he and a small number of other boys were off to Brum for a day of culture.
After dinner he said can I borrow your mobile phone Granddad I forgot to give Mum my report card. What did you get I asked? A “B” he replied. That’s OK I tried to console him. Oh I got four “A” stars and 8 “As” as well he advised me. Later that evening I got a call from his Dad, what Hippy forgot to mention was there was a letter from his headmaster telling them he was one of only six boys in the school who had achieved this score. Well done Hippy. I need a bigger car to allow for my chest expansion. he gets it from his Granddad Bob, oh yes he does.

Thursday, 13 November 2008


Gordon gets us into the worst financial crisis ever because of his liberal credit policies and financial controls on the banks and FSA. He then claims we are in a better position than other countries to weather this storm. Last week an IMF report claimed we were in a worse position than most of the developed world and the recession would be worst in this country. One of the reasons for the credit crunch and hence recession was the fact that more money than should have been had been lent to people who could not pay it back. We now hear from Gordon and the other party leaders that we need to borrow more money to fund tax giveaways so the people can start borrowing and spending again. Now I’m having a confused dot Bob moment, wasn’t it irresponsible borrowing that started this mess? To some extent it makes a little sense because without a feel good factor people will not spend and without money moving into shops and factories we have no economy. What I challenge is the need to increase our national debt at this time. GB PLC will eventually have to pay back this debt and I personally don’t think we should be selling the family silver or racking up huge debts that my grandkids will have to pay off. Prudence is telling me to baton down the hatches and save. But according to latest opinion polls Gordon is gaining on the Tories and the public are warming to his “get out the shite” policies. Personally I think they are just another crisis waiting to happen. The Tories or Lib dems policies are little better. Perhaps I’m on the wrong planet again. Have we learnt nothing in the last six months?

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Short story

I mentioned before I had entered a poem and a short story in West Brom libraries Autumn writing competition well this is mt shorty story entry I hope you enjoy.

Upper level south side USB2567T266/1966

I was nothing special in the big scheme of things. On the micro level though I did what was expected of me. I did my duty and I was pretty important in providing the services that I did. I suppose like many of us, our lives, duty and destiny are planned out before we are born, hatched or planted. I am by comparison with my cousins a handsome specimen with broad shoulders and strong features. We learn from our parents or guardians, try to improve things then bye bye it’s all over. Life is very short and getting shorter by the day. My name is not important or that you know the names of my peers living as they do in close proximity to me and working at the same tasks that I perform day in day out. You don’t need to know where I live, in fact, I suspect many of you would not recognize me or my colleagues if you walked past us and you certainly would not understand the important role we play in world affairs. These last two seasons we have been turning carbon dioxide into oxygen by a process know as photosynthesis. Sounds complicated doesn’t it? but to us it’s every day run of the mill stuff nothing special. Never had to learn how to do this task it was born with the talent, in my genes so to speak. Collecting rain water, filtering it, along with large inputs of air, a chemical marker from our supervisors and out comes oxygen. It all started back in late spring when I fully matured along with my peers in our branch. I suppose it’s a bit like a call centre where we all have our quota to achieve. We’re out in all weathers this is not a job for the faint hearted. As the summer days grew warmer and longer so the work intensified. Thunderstorms can play havoc with our quotas because the heavy rain and nitrogen present in the air upsets the chemical process for awhile. This fortunately is only a temporary thing and the work soon continues. We all have problems with birds, squirrels and assorted bugs and beetles who for all sorts of different reasons want to hold up our production process in different ways. A colleague was almost totally affected by a bug which disrupted his ability to work for many days. I myself have remained bug free for most of the summer. For a while now I have been finding it more difficult to operate effectively and I have noticed changes in my colour and flexibility. This change is affecting all my colleagues in our branch. Rumour has it that we are being closed down. The weather is getting colder and the days shorter so there is not such a demand for what we do anyway. I noticed some of our colleagues have already left us and the wind a few days ago played havoc with some branches.
As my colour changes have intensified the effectiveness of my work as diminished and I feel really tired. Some of my colleagues just disappeared into an abyss below yesterday and today I feel so tired I can hardly hang on. The changes are now profound and I’m loosing contact with my twig ah ah I’m floating gently down into the abyss ……………………………………….

Leaf No USB2567T266/1966 ceased to function on October 20th 2008 along with fifteen hundred similar leaves from his deciduous horse chestnut tree. The codes in his identification are U= upper section S=South side B=branch number T= twig number and finally the number associated with this twig.
I hope that is perfectly clear. This is a work of fiction although the chemical stuff is taken from my school boy memory and after 60plus years my be a little inaccurate but the principle is correct.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Fireworks night

My regular readers will know I believe that our local councillors should live in our community and be committed to it. On Saturday we had what is becoming an annual event the Tanhouse Fireworks Display. What a great show. This year it cost a quid but nevertheless worth the money.
I went along with the missus and my folding chair(need to sit these days). I was delighted to see our Labour Councillor in his wet coat on the door and the leader of the Tories doing his bit. Both were accompanied by their wives. The Liberals were as usual conspicuous by their absence.
The evening was spoiled by the fact it chucked it down with rain and despite being dressed for the occasion we were soaked and glad to get home and dry off. Very well done to the organising committee we need more of this community stuff in Newton. It’s a pity involvement in these things isn’t turned into votes.

Sunday, 9 November 2008


I’m not really making excuses because I don’t really know why I’m not blogging as much as I used to. It’s not that I haven’t got plenty to say but time seems to have rushed by this week. Very busy and because I can’t do as much physically as I used to things are taking a lot longer to do. Anyway I’m back, well sort of. Which brings me to Trevor Phillips who is the head of some government quango on race relations. His claims yesterday that a black man could never become Prime Minister in this country because the Labour party is institutionally racist really annoyed me. Firstly Obama is not black he’s of mixed race. Second there is absolutely no racism in West Brom East we have had three Asian Mayors (all labour) in the last six years our council is a good mix of cultures BME being roughly the proportion of BME residents and we have the first Asian member of the Lords in Lord King of West Brom. If Labour are discriminatory it is on the subject of all women short lists. What Mr. Phillips seems to have forgotten is that we should be looking to get the best people for the jobs of whatever race sex or creed?
I’m male getting on a bit and white and I feel I’m discriminated against every day of my life. Perhaps whoever appointed Mr. Phillips should look again at his motives here and perhaps they might feel like I do that he is not the right man for that job.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

One of those where were you when moments.

I think that the election of Barack Obama is one of those times when the world changes course and I feel sure for the better. We can certainly look forward now with more optimism than for a long time. Bush is just another bad memory but his mess will take a long time to clean up. It will be nice to have a President who is articulate and able to communicate.
When all this was happening I was nursing painful calf muscle strains obtained during a short walk but also partly due to the side effects of one of the drugs I’ve been taking. Anyway I was virtually unable to walk and when I could I move it was painful and I looked like an old man who had filled his pants. It’s not funny! Oh well perhaps it is if your not the one in pain. Good luck President Obama.
I had a letter from Gordon. It said Dear Robert and went on to tell me he had been in contact with Barack and wished him well. He went on to say that he looked forward to months and years working with the new President. Years he said that’s enough to cause another run on the market and spoil my week. Somebody was quoted has saying the real Brown government only started a month ago what happened to the last year when he got us into this mess? I better go blood pressure is rising and I have to prepare a presentation for this afternoon.

Monday, 3 November 2008


My contribution to West Brom Library's autumn writing competition. I hope you like it.
Comments, critisisms or praise are most welcome.

utumn leaves are gold and brown
Under the trees they fall gracefully down
The witches appear and fireworks glow
Umbrella’s distort when high winds blow
Mornings are foggy, damp, and cold
Nights get darker, and shadows unfold

Autumn comes but once each year
Upon us the fall and winter is near
The time to remember summers feast
Unfolding before us is winters beast
Master the harvests kneel and pray
Nurture the seasons come what may