Wednesday, 30 December 2009

I remember

A couple of weeks ago I published a poem from St. Bernard’s Hamstead church magazine. I mentioned at that time I had written a poem in a similar vane. The following poem was written in 2007 and inspired by a poetry workshop run by Poetry Wednesbury. What I wrote (sorry Erne) on the night was second rate but a few days later I came up with this version. I hope you like it.

I remember!
I remember when chips were tuppence a bag
and the News Chronicle was the daily rag.
Adolf’s air force bombed our town
and lots of houses came tumbling down.
We played on the bomb peck in all the rubble
And very often got into loads of trouble.
Pig bins were common with an awful smell
Recycled food for dogs, cats and tramps as well.

I remember my trousers ragged and torn
Mom shaking her head and looking forlorn.
Charity boots from the Daily mail
they were given out free and not for sale.
The boots were too big by a size and more
For the first few days my feet were so sore
“Yo’ll grow into um” my Mum explained to me
When your feet hurt that’s hard to see.

School dinners were wholesome and also free,
they kept us nourished my brother and me.
Marked with an F my ticket cried shame
We stood in line we weren’t to blame.
Dinner ladies in white with spoons of wood
“have some cabbage it’ll do you good”
Lumpy custard, treacle pud or rice
Our meals were cheap at half the price.

I remember the loo at the top of our yard
with newspaper wipes that were ever so hard.
You never lingered on our bog
Especially on cold nights or in a fog
You often went with hesitation
But none of suffered with constipation.

The cold at night when we said a prayer
the faces around all in despair.
Fire in our grate when we were ill
No Doctor to come with a magic pill
I remember the cock roaches under the stair
And lying bed thinking this aint fair
The room was filled with the sweet smell of pee,
From the chamber pot that you couldn’t see.
Lumpy mattress and cold floor,
Oh yes I remember and lots more.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Christmas cheer

It has become a family tradition over the last few years (I haven’t been counting) since the English grandkids stopped believing in Santa. The whole family go to the cinema on Christmas Eve. Our grandkids usually choose the film. This year they chose the Disney version of Christmas Carol. I was much impressed by the standard of animation achieved throughout the film. Storey line followed Dickens book well and great special effects. Not bad value for money either at 4 quid for us wrinklies. The cost of pop corn though is scandalous at £3.75 a pot is disgraceful. I guess you’re wondering why I’m rabbiting on about this. Well about ten days earlier the misses & I went along to the Repertory theatre to see their version of the same book. I was much impressed and I think live theatre won hands down. The cost though was more than double the cinema. When I mentioned that I thought the Rep version was better the rest of the family looked at me with total incredulity. Granddad has finally gone of his rocker.
“Oh no he hasn’t”.
I bet the first comment is “Oh yes he has”. I used to like it when the little uns were little and we could go to the panto.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Christmas & such

A very Happy Christmas to all my regular readers.
Not very original that is it but sincerely meant.
I think perhaps I ought to review a few of the campaigns I’m working on seeing as it’s almost the end of the year.

Clinic, this is not looking good at this time. The PCT are playing their usual game of perhaps, maybe, never. They were supposed to let me know the date time and venue of the board meeting when our clinic was to be discussed but true to form no info yet. We were told the meeting was end of January but I’m hearing 11th of January is more likely. The questions remain, why does it need to be discussed behind closed doors? Why will they not release artist’s drawings to the press and why are they coy over date and time? The action group are discussing tactics.

Smoking at Sandwell Hospital. PALS got back to me to assure me they are trying to move this complaint forward. They have apparently had other complaints. I gave them some practical suggestions on how this might be tackled. 1) New larger posters around all entrances.
2) The Sandwell stop smoking banners displayed inside the hospital with leaflets on help available.
3) The areas need to be manned from time to time handing out the leaflets. If these fail then policing of the areas with some form of penalty applied. I think 1 & 2 will be enough but why the chief exec would not even consider such basic approaches is a mystery to me. If PALS approach does not work then its letters to Chair of trust and the strategic health authority.

West Midlands Travel. Surprise surprise these folks have not yet acknowledged my complaint. I’m sure this will run on for awhile. I’m not sure but I think a criminal offence was committed here so maybe if they do not action it satisfactorily I might have to bring in the cops. With other problems I have witnessed on No16 route maybe the franchise for this company needs to be reviewed.

What was it Churchill said “the way that evil can prosper is for good men to do nothing”? For us it is not evil as such just incompetence. I don’t intend to sit back and do nothing.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Bus drivers grrrrrrrrrrrrr

Well, West Mids Travel being the chief source of my present frustration. Warning this is likely to become a bit of a rant. The wife and I went into Birmingham on Sunday to meet up with some mates for a coffee and seasonal chat. We took the No16 bus from Hamstead terminus. You would think that seeing an old bloke having difficulty getting on and using a walking stick would register in the brain of the driver to take a little care. Not so this knuckle head. I think he might have sadist macho tendencies. As soon as I was on the bus he started to move off throwing me against the stairwell bulkhead. Although I shouted he ignored me and carried on until he was required to stop to pick up other passengers. I then managed to get to my seat but now in some pain. The rest of the journey was; how can I put it? Eventful. He drove as if it was a formula 1 instead of a double decked bus taking islands far to fast and breaking hard. I had to hold onto my seat. The final humiliation was when he drove past our selected stop. When he finally stopped I was about to remonstrate with him but my tame rockwiller (the misses) stomped off and set about him verbally. I felt quite sorry for the bloke because he protested that they (West Mids Travel) did not stop there any longer. He ignored all the other complaints against his driving. Folks could not get on or off his bus whilst we held court over our journey. He was correct about stopping places but WM Travel has not notified customers of the new arrangements. We had a long walk to get to our destination which was not good for me. Apparently Diamond buses do stop there and we used their service on the way back. What a difference, polite driver who waited for us, waited until I was comfortably seated before moving of fand drove carefully all the way back. I have written to WMT about their driver because he is in need of some serious re-training before he either badly injures or maybe kills someone. They also need a company wide training package in customer care. His actions spoiled my day and left me in considerable pain in the late afternoon.
My advice to local residents “Go Diamond” we will be using this service again.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Nice doggy poem

The poem was written by Dorothy Gray and appears in the 1984 Friendship Book. It came to me via our local church St. Bernard’s magazine. I’m very fond of poetry but not so fond of irresponsible dog owners but I have to say in the main they are behaving themselves locally these days. Not so the litter louts who have left their evidence recently. More on that later.

Friday, 18 December 2009


I was getting ready to go to the theatre when the misses came into the bedroom and said “you’re not taking me out looking like that” I protested that there was nothing wrong with my trousers they were casual. After a brief discussion which the wife won by stating that I could make a dinner suit look casual these days. I changed my pants to a pair she approved of. This post has been approved by my editor in chief.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Smoking at Sandwell Hospital again

I had to go to the hospital yesterday for my regular poison fix. I was feeling a lot better, that is until I got to the main entrance to check in for my treatment. The smokers were there puffing away and ignoring the signs. They smoke in packs it’s a sort of mating ritual. I had had enough. There was a small group at one entrance a lady on her own not far away. Big brave Bob chose the lady, well easiest route I thought. The conversation went something like this.
BBCB excuse me Ma but this is a no smoking area would you please put your cigarette out.
Smoker (S) uh ya what
BBCB would you please put out your cigarette this is a no smoking area I have to go to the hospital for treatment and I do not want to breath your second-hand smoke.
By now the small group had moved off and were looking at the heavens for divine guidance.
S do you buy these she said pointing to her lit cigarette.
BBCB No Ma and I do not want to breath your second hand smoke.
S then mind your own business.
Clearly I was getting nowhere. She did however move away from the door so that we could enter without further conflict.
I complained at reception who said it’s not our job and it’s not securities either go around the corner to PALS.
Which of course I did once I had reported in to the ward to get my drugs.
I gave them my details and they assured me it would be followed up. Apparently they have a lot of complaints but if they had more something might get done.
I will wait with great interest to see what does happen.
Mr Adler if you think Bob the Black Country Brummie was going to go away with a pat on the head you are so wrong.
On the way out there was another group puffing away. My minder the misses whispered “don’t even think about it”

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Copenhagen two too

Since having the electricity monitor fitted some interesting facts have been revealed to us. Firstly how expensive it is to use an electric kettle. New policy in BBCB household is now to only fill the kettle for what we need and switch it off when it boils. Don’t wait for it to switch off automatically. Secondly the dishwasher although ours is an A rated machine it’s still greedy. We now only use it every other day, washing up by hand the odd few items that the new policy does not cover.
Best idea I’ve heard though is youngest daughter who has introduced a ban on using her dishwasher if the grandchildren leave unnecessary lights on around the house. They are instead made to wash up by hand. Strangely enough I have not heard any complaints about this policy. Perhaps they are at last turning off unnecessary light. More likely they’re blaming Dad.
Any other ideas? I like the idea of saving money whilst saving the planet.

Monday, 14 December 2009

I know they're in there somewhere

And we thought it was the squirrels. Neighbours cat caught in the act. Better get the lid off first.
For those interest the moggy is called Dusty.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Councillor switches on Christmas lights.

I know it’s not the town centre or town hall but our lights are just as important to us. Since my kids were little we have always had a small but tasteful display of Christmas lights around our house. The grandkids have done the honours of officially switching them on but now they are both teenagers they were not interested this year. We needed to find a local celebrity to do the honours. I wouldn’t call our local councillor a celebrity exactly but he did help us to put up the lights so I felt he was the right person to do the switch on honours. I hope you like the display. Seems in a way to contradict the climate change argument but I do my bit for eleven and a half months a year so I’m going to enjoy Christmas. And thank you David a) for getting the lights on the tree and b) for doing the honours. This year they are the best lights in the road. My friend Barry used to do a tasteful display and we are missing his contribution.
American granddaughter who when I told her her cousins would not switch on our lights this year suggested I ask “that bloke with the big necklace”. She had met our Lord Mayor on her last visit couldn’t remember what we called him but remembered he went around starting walks and switching on lights. Nice one lola.
Apologies for the poor quality of picture 1 I have no idea what went wrong.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Happy birthday Bob's Blog

It’s been two years today that I made my first post. Since that time I’ve made to date 470 posts with I hope not repeating myself to often. I’ve made some new friends via the site and had the opinions of lots of folk on some of the things I’ve said. Not all of them have been complimentary. I have only had one offensive comment which never got published. My first comment was a week after my first post and from a friend who I had no idea used google. What surprised me most was the international interest in the site with 56 countries visiting since end of May.
I have used the site to promote our fight for better health facilities in our area and I intend to continue with this. Local newspaper picked up on the clinic campaign form reading the blog.
The down side is that I started the blog just after being diagnosed with the condition I have to live with and probably die from. I have tried to report on my feelings and concerns at times but without making it an overriding aspect of my life. I’m not about to give in although at times life is getting more difficult.
Many happy returns Bob’s blog

Friday, 11 December 2009


A couple of weeks ago I posted on my involvement with a political leaflet I had helped design for our local labour councillor. At the time I mentioned how pleased I was with the design and how pleased the Councillor concerned was. I am now happy to be able to publish the front page. I hope you like it. Distribution around the ward will begin early next week.
The back page ends with my catch phrase: - keeping his promises, no outrageous claims and no knocking the opposition.
To enlarge the image double click on it.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


56 different countries have visited this blog since end of May 2009 when I introduced flag counter. That is roughly a quarter of the nations attending the climate change conference. If all of us make a small contribution to this then we will have done our bit. I am firmly of the belief that it is man who is causing the changes on the scale we see today. One of the biggest affronts to our climate was when George Bush refused to sign up to Kyoto and his expansion of dirty fuels during his early years of office. We all now have a chance to put things right including the Americans. About ten years ago I got teased by my American family for trying to get them to use energy saving light bulbs. It’s still a bit of a problem but they have moved in the right direction.
Just to make sure we were doing our bit we invited the local Warmfront charity to come around and check us out. We are apparently doing it more or less right. Any new savings would have to come from some big investment in new kit such as new double glazing with wider gap or a solar panel on the roof. As there is no grants for any of this it is not likely to get done. They fitted us with an electricity monitoring devise and I have ordered a smart meter from British Gas. The monitoring tool is making us more aware of when our usage is high and how much devises are costing in units of electricity terms.
Eldest granddaughter was doing a project at my house the other night on saving the planet. She knew exactly what was required and very happy with her project until I pointed out she had every light on upstairs in my house when she only needed one. Use the finger I indicated but I had to go around switching off the lights.
What I’m trying to say but not very well is that we all have to do our bit if we are to save the planet for our grandchildren and great grandchildren.
I wish them well with their deliberations in Copenhagen and “switch it off” Freddie.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Round up of the week

A funny old week really. I had a lot of pain and great difficulty walking for a good part of the week. I found myself driving the misses and waiting for her whilst she ran the errands or did the shopping. This gave me the opportunity to observe folks going about their business. The usual mix of bad manners and traffic offences at the Scot Arms. I was parked up there one morning just over the red line indicating a loading area. Along comes traffic warden who insists that despite my displaying my blue badge I can’t park there. At this point he disappears and negotiates with white van man behind to move his vehicle back to give me room to park legally. He then guides me back to a correct parking position. I thank him and off he rides on his little motor bike. Talking of motor bikes the worst piece of dangerous driving was a youth driving a mini moke in the dark with no lights, no crash helet and on the pavement past my house. When I yelled at him he accelerated left the pavement and sped off. I’d tell the local cops if I thought they’d do anything about it.
Another piece of pure piggish behaviour was a young man who drove past me in a shopping arcade car park, opened his window and spit out his gum.
I had to wait while my wife delivered some papers to Sandwell Hospital and guess what folks? the smokers are still there puffing away surrounded by No Smoking signs. My letter to the Chief Exec was a total waste of time. I wonder what the legal position is because they are failing to provide a safe environment for patients to receive their treatment.

Saturday, 5 December 2009


You have to admire the Tories for their absolute conviction that they are the party of government. Not all but most of the top bankers and city financiers are Tories. It was irresponsible bankers (Tories) who caused the worst banking crisis and subsequent depression since WW2. The audit commission recently reported on the amount of bail out funding and praised the government for taking the decisions they did to bail out the banks. RBS now want to pay out massive bonuses to their top staff or as I understand it the board are threatening to resign. In my view not a penny in bonuses should go to this bank until some essential criteria have been met. Every penny of script issue money to share holders as been paid back. Every penny of government money used to bail them out as been paid back with interest at 10% and Sir Fred has had his pension stripped. The treasury should now sack the board of RBS for attempting this scam. They clearly have not learned. Which brings me back to the Tories. They have consistently blamed the government for this crisis and to some extent Brown is to blame but his actions to get us out of this mess have now been seen to have been wise. (Me praising Gordon I had to go and have a lie down). The Tories are now saying we (the public) are going to have to repay this enormous debt to bail out their chums in the city. If that is not bad enough they are threatening cuts to health services, education etc ect. I don’t think any of this rhetoric is acceptable. Cameron today is promising to double the money given to service men returning from a tour of duty and Gordon is refusing to extend the winter fuel allowance to cancer sufferers. Double your money David (to his chums) might think this is a vote winner but I don’t. What is an absolute vote looser is refusing folks with chronic illness winter fuel allowance. Although I get the allowance being a cancer sufferer I know just how harrowing it would be to be cold on top of everything else. I do hope Gordon will have a re-think he has a good record on care for cancer sufferers and cancer treatment now they get free drugs but much more needs to be done,

Friday, 4 December 2009

Great Barr & Newton Forum

I went along to our local resident’s forum the other day. The usual mix of concerned residents and a few Councillors. I had a couple of issues I wanted to air and of course the man from the PCT came along to give an up date on our clinic. I won’t bore you with the agenda because that is what it is, important but a little boring, the clinic is still a hot chestnut for me and many others.
The usual standard rhetoric from the man from PCT about supporting our area then the possible get out clauses. The next key stage is January meeting of the PCT board. I have asked for date time and venue for this because someone from the action group needs to be there. I have I think mentioned before dealing with our PCT is like handling a greased snake. I have many concerns that the plug will be pulled on the project due to funding. My concerns were heightened when I could not get them to release the artists drawings to the local freebie newspaper with an accurate story. The reasons given for not doing it did not stack up for me. During a discussion on car parking at the clinic a local councillor suggested we should approach the management of a Tesco Express being built about 600yds away for use of their car park. This tells me just how much this Cllr. is out of touch. Some wag suggested if we did not get our clinic we should march on Tesco. I was forced to mention that I thought if this project did not happen there would be a riot with a march on PCT headquarters and stopping the traffic in the High St. When I relayed this fact to my wife she said did I mention lying down in the road because if I did the man from the PCT as probably gone back to his office to hire a steam roller.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Council meeting

I went along to Sandwell Council House for a Council meeting this week. I felt I ought to because I had complained about the public address system in the public gallery and this was the first meeting since the new equipment was fitted. Very nice, with two large TV screens so that the councillor speaking can be seen clearly. The new system is better but not good. It did not pick out some of the speakers and the sound was better but still poor. Some Councillors could be heard very clearly the best being Cllr Elling the worst being Cllr Smith who had a bad hair day which showed up well on the screen. My editor in chief insists I have to be nice so some heavy re-writing as gone on here. Some of the Asian members were also difficult to hear and understand because of their heavily accented English. A good well mannered debate though. Tories did absolutely nothing positive with silly questions on swimming pools which had already been answered and of course their old chest nut THE PUBLIC. The question claimed the audit commission had said in their report the building should be moth balled or demolished. They had clearly not read the report properly because the Chief Exec had a copy and spelled out very clearly where the relevance of that item came, which is apparently a standard phrase if projects do fail and THE PUBLIC is a long way off this. There was a call from cabinet member that it was now time for cross party support for this building. I can’t see that happening somehow.
During the exchanges on extra care housing the leader of Lib Dems who is one of our councillors made an excellent response and subtlety asked for a site in our ward (we all know this is not going to happen). It was a pity she did not lead on the other liberal responses the quality of debate would have been improved. Well done Joyce and I like the top/frock.
Cllr Darren Cooper was elected leader and I wish him well in his new role. Our council have promised two new pools one for West Brom and one in Tipton the first being ready for 2011. Long overdue but a result as far as I’m concerned. There is a lot to do but I think Sandwell are doing well under the circumstances.
On the negative side a short discussion took place on a consultation about elected mayors. It was reported that only 21 people had replied. The council accepted this as public apathy. Not so councillors. I take a keen interest in local politics and I knew nothing of this consultation so I suspect a bit of slight of hand here. This matter should not be allowed to drop off the political horizon. It will be scandalous if it does.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


As many of you will know I am very fond of poetry and at times I put pen to paper and use verse to express my feelings or to highlight wrongs. My first poem Dirty Sandwell was written because at the time many parts of Sandwell were litter strewn. I am happy to report that is no longer the case and I like to think my poem and some campaigning work I did helped.
I am also very appreciative of other poets work which brings me to the above poem. The author is as far as I know unknown but if anyone recognises the piece please let me know. I always like to make sure the original author is credited. I wrote a similar piece called “I remember” a couple of years back and it was published in St Bernard’s Church Hamstead magazine which is where I saw this piece. Thank you Glenis and keep up the good work with our church mag.
And yes it was very much like that. Oh yes I remember it well.