Monday, 31 August 2009

Sandwell Show

Or to be precise Sandwell Community Show. Over the last eight or nine years I’ve been an exhibitor of one sort or another trying to flog something or get folks to do something at these shows. This year I went along as a punter. What a great show it is. It must be the biggest free show of its kind in the midlands. Because I was not exactly feeling good I knew I would not be able to walk far and we went along to Shop Mobility to get a scooter. Although I had not booked they went out of their way to help me. Once they established my eligibility to use one I was quickly acquainted with my chariot for the afternoon. This was a first time for me and it allowed me to get around the whole show and meet up with a lot of people and organisations I was used to dealing with.
The usual freebies were being given out but the best deal of the show has to be Eon who were giving away (on a first come first served basis) a devise for turning off all peripherals once the computer is turned off. And it works! These things retail for about 18 quid so I though this was a good deal.
I enjoyed a jacket spud lunch with the misses and some friends. Great afternoon. My mate commented that I was very polite and thoughtful when driving my buggy.
Well done Sandwell Council.
Polite, thoughtful and praising our council, I need to go and have a lie down, I'm sickening for something.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

The big debate

We are being encouraged to join the debate on the future of long term care in England.
I’ve been doing some reading on this and it don’t make good reading even if you don’t try to read between what the Green Paper says and what the government means. Help the Aged have tried to help in the latest issue of their Mag ACTIVATE.
The main issues that we are being asked to comment on are the five options for paying for care.
1) Pay for care yourself. Everyone pays for their own care with no state support
2) Partnership. The state pays a part of everyone’s care, depending on how well-off they are.
3) Insurance. The state pays a part of everyone’s care; people can take out insurance to cover the rest. But if people need to go into a care home they still have to pay accommodation costs.
4) Comprehensive. Everyone pays a lump sum of around £20,000, either upfront, in instalments or from your estate after death. This pays for all care except accommodation.
5) Tax-funded All care provided free but paid for by an increase in general taxation.
I wonder if the government are serious on this or is it just another cynical ply on their behalf to delay a decision in the way they have with other issues affecting older people. There is no way that a decision on this is likely to be made until after the next election but it could be part of the general complaints we wrinkles’ have against this government and it’s chief architect Gordon Brown. If you look at the options it would suggest that depending on your age, health and social background would govern the way you would respond. First three options might apply more strongly to younger people but 5) is likely to be the choice of people like me nearing the time they will need the service.
Number 4) is worth further examination and shows me just how out of touch our ministers are with older folk these days. Who is likely to be able to cough up twenty grand and then have to pay for accommodation? What it means is the government intend to continue with their policy of stripping people in care of their assets.
This is a rather over simplified analysis because the private sector will be heavily involved in help to provide services to cover costs and I’m sure many pension funds in future will carry options for covering this. In the meantime I’m voting for number 5)
You can have your say by contacting Help the Aged at or go to
Finally, why have we taken almost twelve years to reach this point when a free service as been available in Scotland for almost ten?
Reading some of the comments left on the web site are tear jerking and I hope Gordon whose comments responses are some of the worst is listening.
Personal Care has got to be free.
I was surprised at the number who said things like I voted Labour all my life but never again.
Gordon! it’s time to stop trying to save the world by prosecuting expensive wars and spending billions on overseas aid and start putting our own house in order back at home.

Friday, 28 August 2009

A couple of bad days

I can’t believe it’s nearly a week since I last posted. I had a couple of bad days which can really screw up my schedule of activities especially if they follow each other. This is rare I’m pleased to say but extremely frustrating for me. I’m into my new drug regime by a couple of weeks now and am experiencing all the advised side effects although in most cases only slight. It’s difficult to tell if the new drug is actually working and I don’t suppose I will really know until my next blood test in a couple of weeks time. It’s not like taking a pain killer when the headache disappears in a few minutes. These things can take weeks to get into the system and start to sort out the bad stuff. There are though some small signs that lead me to think that perhaps we might just be holding this thing to a draw at least.
Not to understate the position :- I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Monday, 24 August 2009

400 not out

I suppose this is as good a time as any for a little reflection and a little personal pat on the back. Well done Bob. When I started I had no fixed agenda and little idea that I could write as prolifically as has been proved. I had to write technical reports as part of my job but they were not regular events and less than inspiring for anyone other than the three or four people they were intended for. My old boss once commented on my report writing skills: - “your English is poor, you’re spelling worse but your reports are always interesting” I took that to be a compliment. My English improved, the spell checker takes care of that and “interesting” I do hope the skill have not been lost. I started writing poetry after I retired and after a visit to West Brom where I was appalled at the litter in the town with my first poem “Dirty Sandwell” I’m pleased to be able to report that things are much better in respect to cleanliness in the borough but we still need to improve. The poem has been published in local press and appears in three books of poetry. Not bad for a first attempt. I think it was probably the subject matter rather than the quality of writing that appealed to the publishers.
First posting 12th December 2007
First comment from Eve 19th December 2007
I had been diagnosed with this dreadful malaise then about 6 months prior to starting blog yet felt capable of doing it. First round of drugs were still working and blood numbers were acceptable and I had that ever so valuable asset I often lack these days, energy.
The blog has evolved a lot since then with a change of appearance and a more sophisticated approach to subject matter but still written with the same aims to report local issues that affect me and my local environs.
I have upset a few councillors and council officers along the way and I don’t apologise for this. My biggest success though I suppose is that the blog brought to the attention of the local press our problems with lack of health care provision in our area and the indifference our PCT were showing to it. It has also helped me during the periods when I had great difficulty getting about to stay in touch with the world and to a lesser extent for the world to keep in touch with me.
More on the clinic in due course because this issue is far from complete and I suspect a more direct and disruptive approach is likely to be necessary. Until then I look forward to 500 not out.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

I’m back.

The comments hardly came flooding in during my absence did they? My readership though seems to be holding up with flag counter giving me a good idea of what is happening at home and abroad. I thank you all for your patronage. My next post will be a bit more meaningful because of the significance of it.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Bulletin on the railings

After a routine visit to his consultant his majesty has asked me to make the following statement. There are some blood abnormalities with his condition at the moment. These are being addressed by the introduction of a new drug which the medical team have a lot of confidence with. It is not expected that the change in his condition will affect his public duties in anyway. He thanks you for your good wishes.
The reality. Blood numbers go belly up. New drug has a good track record in dealing with similar situations to mine but no guarantees. Next month is critical and another treatment option is exhausted. The alternate option if this is not successful is not very pleasant having been there before I’d rather not go there again.

PS off the air. I will be off the air so speak for a few days. I have a project I wish to complete which will keep me fully occupied for about a week. Please take care. I will try to publish any comments you may wish to make.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Dizzy blond or the big sh** and the really Twirly

Early on Friday morning (early for me to be airing the streets is 8ish) I had to go into West Brom. The wife asked me to take her to the bus terminal on the way. After the debate on having to pay etc she decided it was imperative that she went at that time. Apparently on Diamond buses the fare into brum is 50p. I duly delivered her safely to the terminus and stopped a little way behind a bus. She jumps out and starts to walk towards the bus about 20yds, when the driver promptly pulls out with the wife waving at him. The next bus which is queuing a little way down the road is ten mins at that time of day.
I proceed on my way, only to be interrupted a couple of mins into my journey by my mobile phone. Because I’m driving I have to find a safe place to park up to answer it. “I’ve left my bag in the car which I want to return to M&S”. I suppose this is good enough reason for me to do a detour. I finally get her happily onto her bus. I’m a little late but peace and harmony reign in the BBCB household.
It got me thinking though about the bus service into brum. This is the second time an incident like this has occurred recently. Perhaps the bus companies are not interested in passenger numbers or perhaps this was the same driver. I wonder if any of my local readers have witnessed similar problems.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

The West Brom

I don’t know what to make of the current goings on at West Bromwich Building Society these days. The previous management got into a mess and had to be bailed out by a complex range of measures involving some of its lesser partners.
The new management team seem determined to not only re-name the Society involving Birmingham but we now hear they are considering moving the HQ to Birmingham. To better reflect their expansion plans. These guys don’t come from these parts do they?
The West Brom was always a bedrock of financial stability. Your money was safe in a West Brom account. They always believed in prudent financial management and over it’s 100 plus years had become well respected and trusted. Members of the Society have in the main accepted the measures used to get it out of short term problems it had but the new proposals will not go down well. Moving to Birmingham will be the last straw for me. My albeit small savings account will be closed. The problem here though is which other building society to use?
The West Brom moving from West Brom is almost unthinkable and the knock on effect for the town will be immense. I do hope our civic leaders will be as outraged at this proposal as I feel the society members will be.
**“Keep the West Brom in West Brom”**

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Pensioners manifesto

The NPC has about 500,000 members mostly ex trade unionist who subscribe through union membership of one form or other. These are mostly long term labour supporters who feel let down by present governments handling of their needs. I'm a private member very supportive of their demands. The above document is the NPC manifesto for pensioners. I was at conference when this was debated and although there is much I agree with I don't think it goes far enough. But I'll be happy if we get half of what they are asking for. About three years ago I lobbied one of Sandwell's MPs on the terrace at Westminster while I was on a visit with a local group. The MP told me (I wont name him/her because it would embarrass her/him) but I was told the standard how proud they were at having lifted 2million pensioners out of poverty and for anything else we would have to be patient. Now telling a pensioner to be patient is like asking a turkey to vote for Christmas. I was less than impressed. But for the arrival of another group the discussion would have turned awkward. I have since had little time for this MP. I will be asking mine if he will be supporting the "Pensioners Manifesto" as soon as possible. In the meantime I ask you all to take this document seriously. In fact I'll email him a copy of it today.
We politically active pensioners don’t want to make it difficult for our MPs/candidates at the next election, we want to make it bloody hard.
Perhaps I should have labelled this post under "barking mad" instead of politics and such. Becasue if past performance is anything to go by that's exactly what they will think we are.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Little green lights

Orange ones, red ones and assorted other colours. No I’ve not been drinking it’s not drugs prescribed or otherwise and it’s not an alien space ship. Men from other universes don’t make it as far as Great Barr. It’s the way my house is lit up at night. The phenomenon is more evident down stairs but the bedrooms and my office are also guilty. The only two rooms in the house not affected are the upstairs bathroom and loo. Every appliance however sophisticated seems to need a warning light to tell you “I’m here, don’t forget me”. When I wonder around my home in the wee hours of the morning I contemplate how much these mille amps of electricity consumed by my electrical equipment is actually costing me and how much could I save if I switched a few off. Extension leads for example; why do they need a warning light? Our new boiler has a warning light on the front, the old one didn’t. The big items like the tele are switched off but most of the others are to damned inconvenient to switch off because of the positions of plugs. We have two digital clocks in the kitchen one on the cooker and one on a microwave. Turning these devises off is practical but would you want to have to re-set the clocks every time you wanted to cook. Can’t see the wife warming (pardon the pun) to that. You can purchase an energy monitoring devise these days so perhaps it’s time we invested in one.
I had a little browse this morning but never came up with one any ideas on what they are called?

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

A full English

Breakfast that is. Regular readers will have noticed I haven’t been posting so regularly recently. Well that is because my wife and I were invited to a friends wedding down south and together with many of the other wedding guests (also friends of ours) decided to make a long week end of it, stay in a nice hotel and enjoy ourselves for a few days. I don’t often have the pleasure of a full English breakfast these days and I have to admit to fanaticising over this for some time. I usually have to make do with cereal and if I’m lucky a piece of toast and a cup of coffee. So the delights of bacon & egg and all the trimmings were drooling in my mind.
Wonderful day, great wedding, everyone had a lovely time. I get tired easily these days so I decided to turn in about 11pm sober, because I had to drive back to our hotel. Unknown to me at that time I had picked up some kind of virus which manifest itself to me in the early hours of the morning in the form of vomiting and me have to depart with copious amounts of brown smelly liquid which my body clearly did not need from the other end. This procedure continued until about sixish when I finally fell back into bed dehydrated and exhausted. My wife slept blissfully all the way through it. How dare she ever complain about my snoring again. By 9am she had coaxed me to the breakfast table and collected a very well laid out breakfast from the buffet for me because I was not in any state to get my own. I managed a piece of dry toast and I lost count of the cups of coffee but the full English was only picked at.
The misses is really good at making decisions in a crisis and for this one she packed up, bundled me into the car and came home. A bit of a risk I thought but the engagement with sink and loo did not re-start again until the early hours of the following morning. She also slept through that.
I’m pleased to say that 48hrs have passed since and I am eating normally so I guess the crisis is almost over. I can’t yet bring myself to drooling over a full English though. I need some rehab the virus and my other drugs have conspired to upset my sleep pattern which is why I am up in the early hours writing my blog.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Councillors & such II

I did a post on Monday 27th July outlining my concerns about the way we are represented locally. On Friday evening our local paper did a story about one of our Labour Councillors in a ward not far from mine. Headline: - Absent councillor is told to stand down. I know this guy and believe him to be an honest and trustworthy man. He has represented the ward in question for a long time but never lived there. About 18 months ago he and his wife who was also a councillor moved to Aberdovey in north Wales a round trip of 220 miles. His wife’s term expired and she did not stand for re-election, he also promised to resign. It now appears that he has not done so. The demand for his resignation is coming from the Tories in the adjoining ward so no surprise there. But it does raise some issues. I don’t believe that he should be allowed to continue to draw his allowance and he should be forced to resign. No one can represent their constituents well from that distance unless they have a second home in the ward and I don’t believe that to be the case here. The one other factor that has not been considered is if the councillor is ill. If this is the case then his constituents and the rest of the council need to be aware of it. It only strengthens my argument that Councillors should live in the wards they represent. If this was the rule then when he left he would have had to resign.
It will be an interesting by-election though when it does happen. I know the ward and expect the Tories to make a major effort to win it. Do Labour and the Lib Dems have candidates with the ability to win this ward?
Perhaps this is another opportunity to play bonus and banana skins. Any offers to send me the leaflets when they start to come around?