Monday, 17 May 2010

The Final Curtain - "Bring me Sunshine"

Bob Tidmarsh passed away peacefully on May 2, 2010. As most of you know he had been battling Prostate Cancer for the last couple of years. Bob greatly enjoyed the discussions / debates that were exchanged on this blog. This is the Final Curtain for this Blog. As played at the celebration service, the appropriate music for now is from the comedy Morcombe & Wise "Bring me Sunshine".

Thursday, 15 April 2010

It’s a done deal

I’m delighted to be able to report that Sandwell Council Cabinet last night gave final approval for the funding of the refurbishment to Tanhouse Community Centre for conversation of part of it for a clinic. Project is due for completion end of 2010.
This issue has been a long standing battle with our Primary Care Trust and a wonderful example of people power and a good example of politicians ignoring their differences in the fight for what was needed in our community. I was involved from the early days when PCT kept telling us they had looked at sites which were unsuitable which went on for months. It wasn’t until residents like myself sought out political consensus to fight for what was blindingly obvious to us. The Tanhouse was the right place for our clinic. This decision will bring in new investment to our area but the health benefits are enormous and the facilities will be first class when it is open. This really is a win win situation. We get a super new clinic the council have a fully functioning community centre with a library, community activities, meals on wheels etc. and the PCT get a facility which will serve the people of Hamstead for the next twenty years.
I have a lot of people to thank for giving their support during the various stages of our campaign protests. Tom Watson MP, Cllr David Hosell and Cllr Joyce Underhill, Janice Bryan, Shirley Hosell and the Tanhouse Action Group members, Richard Nugent from the PCT who once convinced of our determination and sincerity became a supporter. And last but not least to my wife Pat who like always supported me throughout this struggle when at times my health was lousy she never gave up on me or the cause. Thank you all. This is the best news for Hamstead.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A tale of two councils

Or library services to be more precise. I will admit to being well known at my local library in fact a few years back they nominated me for a learners award. But I digress. Recently I needed six copies of a play for a theatrical group I belong to. Sandwell quickly provided their two copies and offered to see if copies could be obtained from outside the borough. Four copies were found in Birmingham but this meant I had to become a member of Birmingham Libraries which I duly signed up for. “It will take about a week they said give us a call next Friday” A couple of weeks later I visited the library to collect my books. Jobsworth was on the front desk. “Sorry mate but we only have three copies” The conversation from here went down hill. “I’ll take the three for now” I said but when will the other copy be available and can you ring me to let me know its here” No chance of a phone call from here. It transpires that they will write to you but it costs 40p if you are a pensioner. (can all Sandwell Councillors who are regular readers please ignore the rest of this post) 40p payable upfront so I got my receipt, “Can I have your Library card” jobsworth asked sorry I said but I haven’t got it. This is apparently a major violation in Brum but I’m confused because he has all my details on his screen having given me the third degree when I advised him I had come to collect the books. He eventually conceded that you could have one issue of books without the card and proceeded to check me out. Having realised at this stage Brum is about four decades behind Sandwell in its Library service and customer care I asked about fines if the books were returned late. “6p a day” he said “even for old age pensioners? I enquired. “It’s 2p a day for them” In Sandwell it’s free as are phone calls when books arrive and Sandwell Librarians are so polite and helpful. The fact I made references to the differences between the two councils did not endear me to him.
Well done Sandwell and a big raspberry for Brum.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

This little gem

This little gem from the Labour candidate for West Brom East
A little too much opposition knocking for my liking.

Dear Constituent

In less than 100 days there will be a General Election. The opinion polls show it's going to be very close.

Who wins matters; particularly for families here in Sandwell.

That's because we're beginning to come out of the economic downturn that has hurt so many families. But the recovery is fragile. It's not in the bag yet.

The choice we make now will determine whether the economy starts growing or whether we go back into recession.

The Labour Government has said its top priority is keeping people in jobs. That's why we've said that we must make sure the recovery is secure before we look at reducing public spending. We've been backed by over 60 respected economists in the Financial Times.

The Conservatives disagree - they say if they form the next Government they will cut spending fast and cut it straight away.

But this policy is madness. Taking too much money out of the economy too fast will, in my opinion, put jobs here at risk.

That's too high a price to pay as far as I am concerned.

It is however, what we expect from the Conservatives. Remember the last recession?

The Tories crippled industry and said that "unemployment was a price worth paying". Last month David Cameron also backed the Tory decision to cull 2000 jobs at Birmingham City Council.

They haven't changed. What do you think? Who do you trust more to put jobs for working families first? Fill in my survey here and let me know.
If for any reason you have problems with the link, the survey can be found at:

If you take out the references to the Tories following Bob the Black Country Brummie advice it would be more acceptable if it read:-
First five paras are ok "para 6 might be better if it read Labour is the only party who believe protecting jobs and reducing the deficit slowly so that it does not affect our economic recovery. We will not surrender to the view that unemployment is a price worth paying for economic recovery.
A future fair for all."

There is no need for the rest of piece. I’ve looked at the survey but declined to complete it.
I don’t expect much from the Tories or the Lib Dems on the general election but plenty from Lib Dems on the local elections.

Our politicians don't seem to have learned much from the termoil of the last year. I don't know about you but I'm getting bored with the campaign already

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

They’re off

I had what can only described as a shitty day yesterday but it did give me time to watch the party leaders giving their first pitch. I was particularly interested to see little Nicky Clegg with his audience of students in Watford. He was totally upended by the first question which concerned a young man who was worried about his granddads pension being eroded year on year. Clegg waffled then settled for restoring the link to earnings immediately and then he talked about winter fuel allowances. Missing the point completely. No point in restoring the index link while wages are being frozen and he never understood how Brown had stolen pensions from thousands of us including I suspect this young man’s granddad and how the state pension geared as it is to RPI had eroded pensions under Labour. Verdict on Clegg day 1 needs to do better.
I think I might do a selective piece on one of the leaders each day health permitting.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Some advice!

To the cretins running the Labour party campaign at the moment. The “A future fair for all” motto is a vote winner and much better than the Tory time for change slogan which will only worry a lot of people. Folks only like change if it can be seen clearly as for the better. Their offer can’t.
But back to the advice when publishing posters and policy statements:-
Keep it simple.
Keep it honest
Keep it positive
And don’t knock the opposition.
Tell them clearly what Labour are going to do and don’t get dragged into slanging matches with either of the opposition parties.
Lets have no more of the silly Ashes to Ashes stunts. Personally I’m fed up with hearing Cameron knocking Brown. I would prefer to see some positive stuff from them towards us older folks. Remember the effect the demon eyes adds had on Tony Blair.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Strike, strike, strike.

It’s interesting listening to the main party leaders when dealing with this issue. Cameron was blaming Labour for all the industrial strife. If my memory serves me right the days lost through strikes under the last Tory regime was many times what have been lost under Gordon. Is it all right to be hypocritical during an election campaign? I never believed that striking solved anything and throughout my career I never lost a day due to industrial action on my part. After all the threats and double speak to get a solution you usually have to get around the table and negotiate. Thatcher tried to break the unions and because of their political objectives succeeded to a large degree. I hate the spectre of Union Barons spouting off about the issues and calling out their members on strike as much as I hate the Wally Walsh’s of this world dictating their terms and as I see British Gas managers adopting a regime of bullying. Unite is doing a lousy job for its members as is signal men and rail unions. We had a threatened bin men’s strike in Sandwell which has been avoided by sensible talk on both sides. These Union bosses don’t loose any money whilst their members are on the picket line. Maybe the law needs to change so that strike leaders loose the equivalent in cash to the low paid members they represent. I don’t believe there is a solution to the BA dispute without Walsh and Woodley being replaced. Walsh has a job to do to make BA more efficient how you can achieve that with your staff constantly in crisis mode I don’t. Woodley and Welch need their heads banging together.
The strike that really concerns me though is the misses who was flatly refusing to do any filing. We always had what we both considered a fair division of labour around the house. Because the wife worked part time prior to our retirements she did a lot of the paper work. When our filing cabinet became so full she asked for help in clearing out the out of date stuff but this required some considerable effort on my part. I will admit to not taking her seriously at first but as the months went on and the pile of filing got out of hand I was forced to act. We literally couldn’t find anything. I eventually capitulated and we spent almost a week trying to catch up and shred the sensitive stuff. Harmony is restored. Let us hope it can be restored on the industrial side soon.

Friday, 26 March 2010

A whole day to myself

Well that’s what I thought when I went to bed last night. Unfortunately in the early hours the disease chose to remind me it was in charge in one of its less attractive ways. By 7am I was washed out and felt like I’d done a days work.

Undeterred I finally got around to doing what I intended to do first thing at lunch time. My blog. I’m a little confused with what is going on with national politics these days and the budget and subsequent political posturing are only making this confusion worst. Let me try to explain. Alistair is claiming that to cut to soon would damage the economy and make things worse. Vince Cable to a large extent is agreeing with a longer term view being the right approach. I know from voluntary work I do within the NHS cuts are coming in the short term. Our local Hospital Trust is being asked to save £22m next year with redundancies planned. However you look at it this will affect front line services. They had a surplus of £2.7m this year but because it is not a foundation trust this money cannot be carried forward. I’m inclined to agree with the longer term view. It will save jobs and it should help as growth starts to reappear. The Tories on the other hand seem to be saying this mess is all Bruiser Brown’s fault and we need to make severe cuts now to put things right. If I remember correctly it was irresponsible bankers who caused this recession and as most of these are Tories I hold them responsible. How he can stand up in parliament and blame Bruiser I don’t know. It seems to me their offer to the electorate is “its going to be bad if Brown gets back but it’s going to be much worst under us unless you happen to be wealthy” Now who in their right mind is going to vote for that? They aren’t going to mind if unemployment rises to 10m “It’s good for the country” and their jobs will be safe. I keep hearing them claim this government has run out of ideas but I don’t see any real policies coming from them, or have I missed a bit?
What is their hurry? After WW2 we had an enormous debt yet still managed to introduce the NHS, The debt was paid off over thirty years. I blame the Tories for this crisis and feel aggrieved that they have the audacity to expect working families to pay for it.
Unfortunately reactive PM Brown is saddled with another bunch of trade unions trying to pull the rug from under him. Have they learned nothing?
More on strikes later.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

American health care debacle.

I suppose having spent a lot of time in the states over last few years I am more aware then most of how their health care system works and how many millions often through no fault of their own find they have no health care insurance. If you have a decent job chances are your health care coverage is best in the world. If you have no job no health care. I’ve been in a doctors waiting room over there when a man with a badly cut hand was turned away because he had no health insurance. He was sent to a hospital about 30 miles away where they would stabilise his condition.
I cannot understand why the Republicans are so anti health care and what happened during the debate when they were claiming USA would become a Nanny state similar to Europe. Protesters outside were calling Obama a socialist with such venom. The Republicans are of course their equivalent to the Tories and knowing how their attempts in the past to destabilise the health service in UK I just don’t trust them. Europe and in particular UK have got it right in the main America has a lot to learn. They will afford it and the nation will benefit as a result. Which is why I so oppose the Tory spending cuts and the way they want to do it.
For me the slogan should be “Save the Health Service Vote Labour” I think however Gordon’s promise that cuts will not affect front line services is another of his porkies. The personal care bill which was to be ring fenced for bringing into law at the next Parliament has been scuppered by a group lead by a Labour Peer. When I hear of such shenanigans the sooner we get rid of this upper house and replace it with a fully elected chamber the better. The Lords must reflect the view of the people in the same way the Commons should.
I think it is hypocritical of America to try to tell the world what to do when it can’t look after its own affairs. The spiteful references to Europe were from Senators who seemingly have forgotten how much help they have been given recently and the high cost in lives of our armed forces.
I’m delighted the president has got his bill through and I wish him luck.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Christian values.

You could not in anyway describe me has a religious man. I do believe in God but none of the churches fits with my thinking. I always describe myself when asked has Church of England. I am a totally honest man and have always attempted to do whatever I do to the highest ethical and integrity standards.
This is the first time I have commented on religious matters and I would not want to upset some of my readership and blogs I follow who are clearly very religious people. This week saw a lot of publicity from the Vatican on a visit to England and the scandal of Irish Bishops covering up abuse in the Catholic Church.
I can’t see why the Pope should be invited on a state visit to this country and we should have to fork out fifteen million quid for security. We are still largely a Christian society but the RC Church is not the largest faction and to many like me an alien faith. I suppose this relates back to my childhood when I knew nothing of the religious differences. I would have been about seven when my Mum enrolled me in the local cub pack. I thought this was a good deal and was looking forward to getting my uniform when one day we met the Priest in the street. The conversation seemed to be going well until he noticed the badge on my jacket from the Elim Church Sunday school I attended. He made it clear to Mum that unless I stopped attending this Sunday school I could not continue to be a Cub. I never got my uniform and scouting for me was never on the agenda.
I have recently come across what I see has some un-Christian behaviour in my dealings with a Methodist Church. I was lead to comment that Mr. X needed to go and review his Christian principles in view of his behaviour in attempting to undermine my integrity.
The biggest hypocrisy though is the Irish Bishops whose behaviour in the past was anything but Christian and they are still in office and I guess sitting in the Lords pontificating on legislation that affects me. I get a shiver down my spine just thinking about it.
I’ll prey for them.

Friday, 19 March 2010

My mate Norman & such

It’s nearly three years now since I was diagnosed with this wretched disease. At the same time thanks to some funding from Cllr Bill Archer’s Mayoral year they were trying to start a support group for sufferers and carers. The misses and I went along to the inaugural meeting which was the week after my diagnosis. I was feeling very sorry for myself I could hardly walk and was in some considerable pain.
During the meeting they were asking amongst other things if anyone had the skills to undertake jobs such as chair secretary etc. Except for treasurer I had skills in abundance. I did not know how things were going to work out for me and I mentioned that not knowing how my health was going to be I was reluctant to take on any tasks. Quite frankly I thought I was going into decline and imminent death.
During an informal session a guy came up to me and asked if we could talk. The measure of how the disease is under control is a blood number known as PSA. He of course asked my PSA number and I told him. He started to smile which surprised me. He went on to explain that four years before his PSA number was twenty times mine. We got to chatting and later not only joined the group but became leading members and good friends. We sort of mentor each other when things are not going so well.
March is Prostate Cancer Awareness month and our group are organising an Awareness Walk at Sandwell Park Farm on Wednesday 24th March 12:30 for 1pm start. Yours truly will be there at the control desk and Norman his wife and mine will be walking. So if you would like to support us you will be very welcome. This is a free event organised by qualified walk leaders and the walk will allow for all levels of fitness. Sadly I won’t be able to walk far but I’m going to give it a try.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Any ideas?

On my right hand side side bar there is a link to fellow blogger and local councillor Bob Piper. I am having problems logging on to his blog. The outline appears but no postings appear. This has happened in the last few days. I thought it was Bob’s site that was down but I saw him last night and he produced the blog fully on his Blackberry which suggests it might be me. None of the other links are affected and I have no problems with other web sites although at times they can be a little slow. Any ideas anyone? I haven’t knowingly changed any settings and if I had surely other sites would be affected.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Review of the week

I haven’t been blogging much lately not because I’ve nothing to say but somehow time constraints seem to get in the way. Last week was test and treat week for me. My blood numbers went the wrong way and it took awhile for the implications of this to sink in. Treatment day is always a stressful time and this week was no exception. By lunch time on Wednesday I was glad to be out of the place. There was a good news story though in that our clinic down at Tanhouse seems to have missed the PCT cut backs and is due for completion November 2010. The council also seems committed to the project and the vibes I’m getting are it’s a goer. Final meeting on this is 25th March but I’m being told a project team is being formed to get it done. More on this later I’m sure. The super duper clinic though in Great Barr is deferred. I blame their and Charlemont Cllrs for this. Again more on this later. Once the Hamstead site is at a stage where we can see the end in site then they will need help in fighting for theirs. In my view a lead on this will not come from their Cllrs.
I was a little upset when the Lib Dems delivered their latest leaflet this week. Upset because in my view they copied the layout I did for Labour and quite frankly cheapened it. I wrote a long piece refuting what had been said. I thought better of it. This leaflet must be the worst ever produced its anaemic and bland and the late Martyn Smith would have been ashamed of it. The one thing though that does require praise was its honesty. He never claimed to have done much and he never promised too do anything much if he is elected. The sad thing is that he will probably get elected again on his wife’s name. Newton Ward needs another dynamic Cllr that will get things done. This bloke certainly isn’t it.
I took fellow blogger Bob Pipers advice and referred the increases in hospital car parking charges to the scrutiny committee so let’s see if they can justify the increases.
Watching bruiser Brown on the politics show yesterday I was surprised that no one asked questions on the price of petrol. Fuel prices are increasing almost daily yet no fuss from haulage companies. Perhaps they can pass on the increases or is there another reason? Because we drive economical cars and do low mileages the cost of fuel is not a huge issue for us but I know it is hurting by daughter and her family. I seem to remember when VAT was reduced a special regulator was introduced to fuel to help the exchequer has the regulator now been removed? Of course it hasn’t which is helping to drive up the price. We are being ripped off

Friday, 12 March 2010

What’s an anti-capitalist Granddad?

I’ve mentioned before on the blog how much I enjoy my quality time with my grandkids when I collect them to bring them to our house for dinner on Thursday’s.
This week they both had colds and were not at all responsive. Knowing how much they enjoy Nan’s cooking I knew they would soon cheer up. Last week though chatter box grandson said after we had done the school and jokes bit. “What’s an anti-capitalist Granddad? This was quite out of the blue and a very serious request for knowledge. I asked him if he knew what capitalism was and he replied sort of. I went on to explain how profits from the sale of goods or services drove the economy and roughly how it works. He must have been giving the current economic woes of people around him some considerable thought because he then said how proud he was of his Mum and Dad because although they both worked hard they always had time for him and his sister. His observations about another member of the wider family were not so complementary. Referring to the person he said “he will have to work all his life because of the amount of debt he is in. Out of the mouth of babes eh. I think he is growing up with a good head on his shoulders and a practical approach to economics. He always manages to save some of the money given to him for birthdays and at Christmas. Well done Hippy

Sunday, 7 March 2010

My mate barry II

About ten years ago a Hawthorn tree on the grass reservation at the front of our homes died. We managed to get the council to remove the dead tree but they would not or could not replace it. I had a sapling oak which we had been grown from an acorn which we decided to plant. The tree picture 1 has survived a couple of yob attacks and about 9 winters and is now a very well established part of our scenery. I must say I love it. The winter before last and just before he became ill Barry planted crocus all around the base. Last year he had a nice display just before the leaves started to bud on our oak. I never expected them to show this year but here they are in all their splendour. Thanks Barry. A couple of the other trees have daffodil around their bases so we can look forward to some colour over the next month. The other pictures are of some of my crocus on the back lawn. The squirrels took their toll with about a quarter of the bulbs but there is enough to give five shows like this across the lawn. Spring is here at last.
Barry lost his fight with cancer in November.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Taxing the sick

Stealth taxes are often hard to identify but over here in little ol Sandwell our hospital trust have just come up with a beauty. I suppose being a regular visitor I am more aware than most of the costs involved with being sick. Some four years ago they started to charge disabled people to park at the hospital an action which caused great resentment and objection. Like many other groups I fought against it but the trust was not for bending. They introduced a token scheme whereby you can buy ten tokens for £10 which means that for any token you can park for as long as you like for each visit. This scheme as saved me a lot of money over the period of my illness. Recently the hospital trust announced increases to car parking charges. Not 1% not 2% but twenty% increases on all parking charges except over ten hours. The new prices apply to the token scheme as well so now we will only get 8 visits to the hospital for our ten quid. This is of course an absolute scandal particularly as in some parts of UK charges have been abandoned. Gordon promised to do something about this anomaly but nothing happened in Sandwell.
The other piece of news which is also regrettable this week is MPs getting 1% increase when many more low paid workers are being asked to take a pay freeze. I sincerely hope our MP turns this pay increase down because it is clearly a vote looser. They don’t seem to learn constituents first.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Vote for change

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? It’s all very well asking people to vote for change but what change? I think the Tories may have shot themselves in the foot with this slogan. People are always wary of change. I found when I was a manager that managing change was one of the most difficult things to do. In this they haven’t told us what exactly they are going to change except for slashing public spending in a big hurry. Cameron correctly identified that Bruiser Brown had destroyed the pensions industry but never explained what he was going to do to put it right. Any pensioner off the street could have told him that. What we want to know is, is he going to put right the anomalies with PPF & FAS and what about fair pensions for all (the citizens’ pension). Gordon’s use of “a future fair for all” is better and will appeal to all fair thinking voters. Under him though the future has not been fair for pensioners by any means so I’m not impressed with him either but on balance I think Labour win the battle of the slogans. What is the Lib Dems going to be and can anyone tell me what they are actually standing for this time round?
The Tories have always believed that unemployment was good for the country and from what I see of this lot nothing much seems to have changed,

Monday, 1 March 2010

Bad show Moto

I’ve been neglecting the blog lately so apologies to regular readers.
Today I had to go up to Stoke on Trent for a fun day at a potters wheel. Excellent day. On the way back the misses and I stopped south bound at Moto services just north of Walsall. I of course need to pee. Anyone who knows these services will recognise that the toilets are on the north bound side of motorway. There is a disabled toilet south bound which for expediency I chose to use. The loo uses Radar keys which can be obtained from “Retail or catering” Non of the retail outlets near the loo seemed to understand what a Radar key was let alone have one. Fortunately I have a key but because it is so rare to need one I had left it in the car. The wife volunteered to go and fetch it but by the time she got back I was in some distress. The loo was an absolute disgrace, filthy and unfit for use. On the way out the misses sent for the duty manager to complain and low and behold the first person we asked for the key appeared. Apparently the key had been stolen and the powers that be above her would not replace it. When I reminded her that they were required by law to provide facilities for disabled people her eyes glazed over in that vacant way that says I’m listening but there’s no one home. So come on Moto powers that be let’s get this sorted before someone sues you. Disabled people deserve better than that.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Product recall

The late news last nigh covered the inquires in USA re Toyota motor vehicle recalls that are going on. I was following a Toyota the other day and remembered the old advertising feature they used to use “The car in front is a Toyota” Nowadays it might read the car in front is a Toyota with dodgy brakes, iffy steering and a sticky accelerator pedal. I worked for a company who supplied Toyota for a couple of years and at that time their quality systems were the best in the business with the emphasis for quality placed firmly with the supplier. What is currently happening is a surprise to me as it must have been to Toyota senior management.
My wife owns a small Peugeot which was made at the same factory as the Ago and surprise surprise she had a product recall this morning for the same accelerator problems Toyota have been having. The difference is that the recall of Peugeot and it will apply to Citron too have not had any bad publicity. I was not surprised to get this recall knowing as I do how common components are used across the industry. I don’t think I would want to be in the shoes of the product supplier though. Having been involved with a potential product recall across USA about twenty years ago it is a scary experience. Fortunately for us our product was over engineered by us and no failures occurred. The manufacturing fault was corrected and although we had to meet the cost of a complete inspection of all products in the supply chain it never bankrupted us. My trips to the states during the crisis though were not pleasant.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Bullying & such

Does it matter if our PM is passionate about his job? Does it really matter if he throws things around the office and goes into sulks? Probably no but these are not the real issues. I was astounded to hear the bullying helpline charity had breached confidentially and released some alleged details of complaints. I can’t help thinking this is part of a political smear campaign. The real issue though is whether he is fit to manage our country. I don’t believe the electorate are so much against another five years of Labour but another five years of Brown is more than we deserve.
During my career I worked closely with several senior managers, directors and MDs until I eventually held a senior management post. When you strip out all the bullshit there are two types of manager the Proactive and Reactive manager. I worked for both over the years. GB is a classic Reactor he waits for the crisis and then responds. This type rarely empower their team properly and are always ready to blame someone else for the crisis. The Proactive manager is a lot better to work for. They will spend more time thinking about the threats and opportunities and usually delegate well. They will often spot a crisis when it is on the horizon and steer the ship clear. I much prefer this type and I tried to be a Proactive manager who always had a plan B and often a sketchy plan C depending on the circumstances. A favourite quote from one of my staff used to be “don’t worry Bob it will all come right in the end” My view was that it would only come right if the correct decisions were taken at the right time.
It saddens me to see a Labour party going into an election in such disarray but while Brown is in charge we will continue to swerve from one crisis to the next that is the nature of the man. Events can often overtake the manager but these should be rare not everyday in the way our country as been lead in the last two and a half years. I’ve seen it many times, remove this manager and things start to improve. Do I think Cameron will be any better absolutely not! And Clegg? His ideas for giving carers a week’s break is potty. Respite is a complex issue not to be addressed in such an off hand way.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

A future fair for all

And the great personal care debate. The phrase a future fair for all is not new in labour circles, it’s the reason I joined the labour party and what I firmly believe in. I had too many years of Tory greed during the recessions of the eighties and early nineties. The Tories didn’t care how many were out of work in fact the more the merrier we were told it was good for the country. When I think of the communities that were destroyed during the Tory years my blood boils. Do we really want to go back to not enough books for kids? To schools falling apart to next to no invest in hospitals and high unemployment? Well I don’t. Gordon is right in saying Labour have made mistakes because he made more of them than anyone else. He is also right to say we should take a long hard look at what the Tory offer is. The starting point was the increase in Inheritance tax threshold which helps the few at the expense of the many. Their slash and burn policies to reduce the deficit in the shortest possible time whatever the pain scares me because it will jeopardise the recovery and make things worse. The arrogance of it though is the recession which is the main issue in this election is world wide and largely their banking buddies fault.
Yesterday Andy Burnham held an emergency conference to discuss personal care provision and how it might be funded. The Tories were conspicuous by their absence. Which leaves me wondering what if anything they are planning to do. One of Labours big mistakes was not sorting the personal care issue just after they came to power. Scotland has a free service and this has not caused a massive run on local council funds which the doom and gloomers are predicting here. It can and must be afforded from general taxation. The humiliation of older people being in effect evicted from their homes to pay for personal care is a disgrace and a shame on Gordon’s head. His attitude to pensions and pensioners has been a scandal throughout his years has chancellor and PM now Mr. Brown it is payback time. I’m looking for a much better offer for pensioners and the establishment of a fair personal care system before giving my support to this campaign.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Test and treat

This week is the blood tests; see the consultant and treatment provided all the blood numbers are OK. After the blood tests I’m always a bit on edge and preoccupied and the wife recons a bit irritable. I can’t believe that. My blood numbers continued to move in the right direction but at a much slower pace than previous treatments. I still have a long way to go with this course of treatment so fingers crossed the numbers get near to a stable condition in a couple of months. The treatment left me tired and stressed out yesterday so unable to do much. Delighted to say today I’m almost back to normal if I know what that is anymore. Blogging you will have noticed as been slow. I’ve got a couple of pieces partly written so if all is well normal blogging should continue in a day or two.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Valentines Day

In recent years since I learned how to make greetings cards with my computer I have made my own bespoke cards for my wife at Christmas, birthdays and valentines. She won’t let me do it for other members of the family because she thinks they’ll think I’m mean. Me mean? The misses keeps a close rein on my activities these days so it is difficult for me to fit writing a suitable verse and designing a card without her knowledge. This last week she must have thought I was visiting some porno sites because whenever she came into my office to check on me my screen did a very quick change. I had to save a lot more frequently than normal. I find I can write this mushy poetry quite well. I must be a big softy and no I am not going to publish the said poem on line. Suffice to say the wife loved it. The brownie points are stacking up. My valentine present was a 25quid win on the premium bonds. No begging letters please!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Death tax?

It now appears that Labour is considering introducing a new tax to help to pay for care for the elderly. The new tax will be payable on death and will be set at £20,000 per death. This to me typifies the hypocrisy that is Labour today. Back benchers quite rightly complained about the Tory plan to increase the threshold for capital gains tax to £10000000. Now the health minister is considering this barmy idea. The tri party talks on providing care have broken down with Tory and Labour blaming each other. Even the Tories can’t stomach this proposal. If you think about it it will become the most hated tax of all time. Even Thatcher couldn’t have come up with worse. Can you imagine in Sandwell how many widows or widowers will be able to find 20 grand to pay up on the death of a loved one? How will this work? Another means test? Pay up or else? Time to pay? At a time after loosing a loved one is not the time for big government of any colour to be demanding money from the bereaved. Will they be sent to prison for failing to pay. Apparently we can’t afford to do this through general taxation. Well I think this claim is utter tosh. Brown could not afford to bail out failed pension funds but managed to find the money to bail out three banks. Utter hypocrisy. How much would it cost on income tax perhaps 2p on lower rate and much more on the higher rates.
I was please with the way Andy Burnham was dealing with this issue until now. This just shows how the leadership of Labour think and I don’t like it. It is not going to win an election and begs the question do Labour want to win?
Shame on you Mr. Burnham. A tax on death is just too horrible to contemplate.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Star ship Enterprise

A bit of an exaggeration perhaps well a lot of an exaggeration but let me explain.
We lost an old friend last Sunday. Our phone rang late in the evening and then went dead. Nothing, no line or out. I blamed the phone company and reported it. On Monday I came to start to think about it and realised it was our phone system that had finally given up on us. It was very old ad hock system which we had added to over the years.
The search was on for a new system to meet our needs. We eventually settled on a Panasonic with three extra handsets. When the large screen lights up it’s a bit like the flight deck from Enterprise. It had some ideal functions like large screen, very big letters and easy to use touch pad. Able to make the rings louder and increase sound during calls. What it did not say on the box you need a degree in computer science to program the thing. Always looking to save a few bob I said to the misses when she had decided on this system why do we need a phone in every room? She replied in her usual frank and pragmatic way, because we can’t hear it ring and when we do we aren’t quick enough to get into another room before the answer machine clicks in. I couldn’t argue with that. Delighted to be able to report the new system is up and running. Easiest feature was copying across the address book to all the handsets. Biggest pain was manually inputting the address book and getting the answer facility right. The wife recorded the message in her posh voice. So far I’m very pleased with our new phones.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Is this the first snow drop?

The misses and I were pottering in the garden yesterday when I inadvertently came upon this little beauty. Spring is just around the corner. I’m wondering is this the first snow drop in Great Barr? The crocus fairy rings seem to be growing well although the wife came within inches of treading all over them.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Dodgy David.

I luxuriated this morning and used my prerogative has a pensioner to have an extra half hour in bed listening to the today program. The Tories have been caught out by Auntie Beeb sending around to constituency parties violent crime figures which are woefully misleading. They apparently claim that violent crime has in creased by 200% under Labour. What they forgot to mention was that the method used and what constitutes violent crime changed a couple of years back. Oh naughty naughty. I have some sympathy though because I refused to carry on editing and publishing our local neighbourhood watch newsletter because I could never get timely figures or consistent methods of recording from our local cops.
It was interesting to hear the shadow minister trying to justify their actions and making out we all live in fear of our lives.
Over here in little ol Newton we have a new Inspector who is very proactive and although I have some misgiving with our neighbourhood Bobbies we have been spoiled by having two first class police community support officers. Although these two have now moved on their replacements seem to be getting to grips with the neighbourhood. PCSOs were a product of Labour investment in neighbourhoods.
I also noticed the Tories have moved away from swingeing cuts to a slower pace nearer what dear old Gordon has been preaching. I wonder what other dodgy data they have up their sleeve. Would I trust them with the NHS or our economy? I don’t think so. Time I think for another poster.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Norton virus

This week end I had to renew the virus protection on the lap top my wife uses. The cost was 65 quid. My desk top which I have had for eight years costs £30. Well I’m a bit peeved about this but OK it does have features mine doesn’t. This is OK until I get the email confirming the order and they advise me I have signed up to have automatic renewal. This means they can tap into my bank account every year and pretty much take what they want. I’m not having this so I revoke the clause expecting them to continue warning me when renewal is due. This snotty email followed:-
“This notice is to confirm that you have elected to opt out of the automatic renewal feature for your Norton 360 subscription. As such, Symantec will not automatically renew your Norton 360 product subscription.
Your current security protection will expire in 369 days placing you at significant risk of losing the critical Internet threat protection counted on by millions of users daily.
Customers with up-to-date subscriptions automatically receive protection at no additional charge as they become available.
If you think you have received this notification in error or incorrectly cancelled the automatic renewal feature, please contact Customer Support”.

Basically I think they are saying tough luck next year mate we aint going to remind you. I think it might be time to look at the alternatives. This is not the way to treat long term loyal customers.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

500 and struggling

Whenever I reach these milestones with the blog I am amazed at how it has survived, remained interesting and attracted the interest it has. In just over two years I have somehow managed to patch together this remarkable log of my life and interest and the things around me that are making me mad or happy. The start of the blog was just after my diagnosis of this dreadful malignancy I am forced to live with. I have tried to put this in the background and get on with living a positive and useful life and I have to say I have and am enjoying writing my little regular contributions to the blog. It now has a regular group of eight registered followers and a small but loyal readership. The other surprise to me is the international aspect with 72 countries visiting the site since thanks to Fat Prophet I introduced web counter.
The misses still thinks I’m crackers writing to myself almost everyday but when she does read it she usually makes a constructive series of comments.
Although at times I find getting about difficult I can usually prop myself up at the computer and blog.
Can I express a warm but belated welcome to my small group of followers? I know two of you but the rest are total strangers. It’s nice to know that despite what my editor in chief says I’m not writing to myself and judging by the regular comments I receive I do have a small but regular readership. So until the next milestone thank you all for your support.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Where have all the birds gone?

Over the last few days our garden has become almost bereft of birds. There is plenty of clean water and the feeders are full with fresh food. During the snow my wife kept steady supply of water and food and we saw birds’ not perhaps as many but usual suspects. Except yesterday one pigeon appeared strutted about for a few minutes and then left. Since then nothing. The garden usually goes quiet when a sparrow hawk has been around but never as quiet as this.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Bulletin on the railings

His majesty has asked me to pass on the following brief communiqué. After his regular meeting with his consulting physician his blood numbers are showing a steady movement in the right direction. More importantly though is that his majesty is feeling much better and advises me that he hopes to be able to continue some of his public duties in the near future. He wishes to express his thanks for all the good wishes the family have received.

In real life.
Numbers are moving in the right direction but very slow and they are still dangerously high. I always breathe a big sigh of relief after the consultations with specialist. I am though feeling a lot better and able to do more. My minder however is insisting I only participate after her approval.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Worst meal.

Because my walking is restricted these days the wife tends to drop me off and do the walking whilst I wait. On Saturday she took me to Asda bought me a breakfast whilst she shopped. I think I was feeling sorry for myself because I started to reminisce about meals on my own. It’s not just the food quality that makes a meal but the company and circumstances around it. When I was kept in hospital before Christmas I commented on the quality of the food being the worst I have ever tasted and this was so but not my worst meal ever.
Some years ago during the Major years my wife was diagnosed with what could have been a life threatening condition. She needed surgery quickly. This was in the bad old days of Tory Britain when waiting lists were over 12 months to see a specialist and operations were limited to “if you were lucky”. Fortunately at this time I had private medical insurance as part of my contract of employment so we were able to get the treatment in a timely fashion. I hate the idea of a two tier health service where the rich get the service and the poor wait. The NHS principle of health care when needed not on ability to pay is what I believe in but in this circumstance I had to prostitute my principles and why I do not today trust the Tories with our health service. After her operation she was heavily sedated and for awhile did not recognise me or what was going on around her. I had sat with her for most of the day holding her hand and waiting. In the evening she appeared to be sleeping soundly so I decided to try the hospital cafeteria for a meal. The refectory was closed so after checking on my wife I decided to try the nearest pub. The food quality was I’m sure very good but after a couple of mouth full’s I couldn’t eat I kept thinking about what was happening around me and how the women I had loved for ever was so sick in that hospital bed. I left and went straight back to my wife’s room. I think I fell asleep in the chair with my head on her bed because I was awakened in the early hours by my head being scratched. The concerned smile showed she recognised me and was soon able to talk. We shared her breakfast that morning. Best piece of toast ever. She made a good recovery and came home a couple of days later.
The Tory principle of market forces being applied to health care nearly ruined it. Although Labour has made many mistakes their commitment to the NHS is solid. They have invested heavily in both the infra structure and the health professionals and we must not let the Tories reverse this. A poster on this later. Many young people would not remember those days so it is up to Labour to start telling folks what the real stark alternative are. The nasty party has not gone away just changed it’s coat for the coming election.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

The dog mess is back

The misses and I decided to clear up at the front of the house after the snow. There was some litter which I suppose was inevitable when the bin men came in the snow but two weeks late. What I did not expect though was the amount of dog mess on the front grass. This irritates me as much as the smoking at the hospital and I see it as a serious social evil. The irresponsible owners couldn’t be bothered to clean up after their pets in the snow. I think it’s time for another poster but not so polite this time. We have a dog mess disposal bin on a lamp post about 300yds away and two nice new litter bins one at each end of our road.
On the bright side the garden seems to have survived pretty well with only a few casualties and a lot of new growth starting to form. Many spring flowers were starting to peep through and my favourite crocus fairy rings were starting to show.
The hour in the garden though really tired me out and reminded me just how much my physical condition has deteriorated since I last did some gardening. With any luck though I hope to continue to be able to at least mow the grass for a few more months when spring is here.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Posters 4 a bit more

My posters are an attempt to show my views on the policies that could help labour win the coming election. They are not necessarily policies that Labour is following. I am tempted to do a poster with a picture of the PM and the headline “Gordon Brown will go” with the sub headline “for a better country vote for a Brown free Britain”. Perhaps that’s a bit hard and not at all helpful but I believe he is the biggest reason the party are where they are. To change at this stage though would be even worse particularly as he has been doing better at PMQs and generally but I fear he has left it too late.
I watched PMQs on Wednesday and thought he had Cameron on the back foot. He would have won the day until Cleggy stood up and asked about Cadbury and why Kraft were borrowing heavily from our taxpayer owned bank RBS to help fund the deal which will make workers in UK redundant. GB could have answered this in many ways but he chose to attack the Liberals instead of giving a caring answer to a question that is worrying thousands of people in the midlands even his second attempt was less than reassuring. I wonder would he be answering this way if the workers were in his constituency or in London. I doubt it. Good news on unemployment though. I designed this poster before the recent figures were announced.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

A really bad day

Tuesday it was disease 6 Bob 0 which was a poor result for me. I had to cancel a couple of meetings and was washed out all day. Things were bad because I watched day time TV in the afternoon between naps and I fell asleep watching the Manchester derby. I’m pleased to be able to report I’m a lot better today and normal service can be resumed. Perhaps it’s about time I did another “Bulletin on the railings” next week is test and treat week so perhaps that is a better time.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Energy savings

You may remember at the time of Copenhagen we invited Warm Zone to check on our preparedness for energy saving. At that time we seemed to be on top of most of the obvious things without major financial investment. Warm zone loaned us an electricity monitor which revealed some anomalies. After the Christmas lights bonanza had ended I started to look more closely at what it was showing us. The electric kettle for example at 3.1 kilo watts was one of the biggest users of electricity. I like my cupa tea. During the night we were still using approx 190 watts and even allowing for clocks on cooker micro wave and bedside this seemed high to me. On investigation I found we were using a number of extension leads which contained warning lights. I have now replaced these with no light versions which I had in my little electric store and I am getting a saving of 40 watts per day. Warm zone supplied us with an Eco kettle which is only 2.2 Kilo watts. The time to boil is slightly longer than the old model but nowhere near a third longer. The other advantages of this little beauty is it has two water compartments a larger storage one and the heating compartment with a clever little devise on the lid which enables you to fill only the amount you want to heat. Because of the large window on the heating compartment you can see very clearly when it boils and although it contains an auto cut off I have not used that yet because at 2.2 KW, seconds are expensive. I almost always allowed the old kettle at 3.1 KW to auto switch off.
We have ordered an energy monitor from British Gas which will monitor all our energy. I wonder what else we are going to find.
Has anyone had any experience with Halogen cookers? On the face of it these seem to show a substantial energy saving. I have found dealers on the web but have not been able to find a store that stocks them. I want to have a look and feel before investing in one of these.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Guest blogger two

From youngest grandson 8yrs old Oscar over in the Tennessee valley this lovely piece on their trip to England last year.

My trip to England

The first time I went to England, it was incredible. I remember getting off the airplane, and I about passed out. My grandparents were waiting for my family and me. I ran into my granddad's arms and never wanted to let go. Finally I reached my Nan and gave her the biggest bear hug.
I and my dad went to get the rental car and we got in on the wrong side. I had no idea how to drive! But thank goodness I didn't have to!
It seemed like every house was crammed together! It was defiantly not Tennessee!!!
The first place we went to was Cadbury World. The greatest place on earth! The chocolate was so wonderful. I think I could've had it for every meal of the day. That was my favourite place of the whole trip!
We also went to the Black Country Museum. We got to ride in a canal boat and use our legs to push us through a tunnel. They had the best fish and chips ever! All the old vehicles and houses were very interesting. I went down into a mine that was somewhat creepy, but very cool.
London was excellent. It was the first time I had ever rode in a Double Decker bus. And of course I rode on the top. The London Eye was huge! It took us awhile to go all the way around, but it was amazing to see all of London. I saw Big Ben while I was on it. Buckingham Palace was amazing! There was gold on every gate. I thought saw the Queen but it was just a carriage. I saw the Guards change position. I tried to get their attention, but it didn't work.
I loved spending time with my family. My experience was great! I would love to go back again!
Well done mate.

Monday, 18 January 2010


Just occasionally I get a comment that is blatantly wrong or on occasion I think mischievous. Yesterday I got one of those from anonymous who believes Labour are going to “kick the s*** out of older people” This comment almost did not get published because it veered close to bad taste on a family blog but it was so incorrect I thought the record needed to be put straight. The following is a press release on the subject:- 22/10/2009

"Health Secretary clarifies Government position on disability benefits.
The Secretary of State for Health has made it clear that Disability Living Allowance for the Under 65s will not be affected by Government plans to create a National Care Service.
Speaking at the National Children and Adult Services Conference in Harrogate, Andy Burnham MP said: "I am encouraged by the response to our Big Care Debate and welcome the fact that other political parties are beginning to put their ideas on the table. There are big differences between what we are saying but we are beginning to create what I wanted to see - unstoppable momentum for legislation in the next Parliament.
"But, while the debate is moving quickly, I do want to stress that the door is wide open for discussion. We are still in a consultation period. No decisions have been made on funding options. We are still listening – about funding, about structures, and about how to build a forward-looking system of care.
"One avenue I do want to close down, however, is the debate and controversy over Disability Living Allowance.
"We recognise that this is an important benefit for disabled people, and I can state categorically that we have now ruled out any suggestion that DLA for under-65s will be brought into the new National Care Service.
"This is because, whilst there will be increases in the numbers of disabled people of working age who need care, the majority of the people needing care in the future will be older people.
"However, we do think there may be a case for bringing together elements of some disability benefits, such as Attendance Allowance, with social care funding, to create a new care and support system to provide for the needs of older and disabled people.
"But the important principle is that people receiving any of the relevant benefits at the time of reform would continue to receive an equivalent level of support and protection under a new and better care and support system.
"And let's not forget, everyone - regardless of wealth or asset base – will benefit from the protection and piece of mind that the National Care Service will provide."
The Government is currently carrying out a consultation – the Big Care Debate - on the new National Care Service, a vision for which was set out in July’s Green Paper Shaping the Future of Care Together. The Big Care Debate continues until 13th November".

I hope that clarifies the position.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Posters a bit more.

This political poster campaign is intriguing me. The more I see and the more I think about it I realise just how powerful a media it is. Where are Labour and the Liberals for that matter in this race? I saw the Cameron bill board poster for the first time the other day. You know the one “We can’t go on like this” “I’ll cut the deficit not the NHS”
Some wag had done a bit of careful painting out until it read “We can go on like this” “I’ll cut the NHS” Now this is nearer the truth.
Doesn’t Cameron look scary on these posters or is it just my natural aversion to Tory leaders? I think my Labour posters are much better. Theirs are really posh though with all that lovely blue background and the logo and all. Come on Gordon time to bring in Bob the Black Country Brummie.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Permission to publish

You might remember in my last proud granddad post I mentioned a picture painted by eldest granddaughter well I got permission to publish. I hope you like it as much as I did. Fear ladies and gentlemen by Freddie. Who knows we might even get a post from her in due course. Grandsons seem totally indifferent to contributing in fact eldest gave an emphatic NO. The face top left reminds me of the Magic Roundabout character Doogle.

Thursday, 14 January 2010


You will remember there are three issues that I am campaigning to improve
1) Smoking outside Sandwell Hospital
2) No 16 bus driver
3) Clinic in the Tanhouse Community Centre

I am able to report some progress but there remains a lot to do.

1) Smoking, it was a good idea to involve PALS in this complaint. Since I first contacted them they have been very pro active in following it up and in communicating with me. It seems the current position is that a quote is being sought to clean up the entrances. A technical meeting of directors is being held in January to discuss the problem and my suggestions are tabled for discussion. New banners have appeared at the out patients entrance giving advice on help available to stop smoking. This does not seem to have worked because the other day in the snow I saw a lady with her husband in a wheel chair under the No Smoking sign, he was smoking and she had a lit ciggy in both hands. The misses gave me the don’t even think about signs took the car park ticket and left me to get the car.
2) No16 bus, West Mids Travel eventually got back to me on this issue. Although I had crossed the Ts and dotted the Is they wanted to check they had the facts right. It appears that the drivers are not required by law to make sure you are seated safely it is courtesy on their part to see that you are. This policy if it is true is totally potty and I wonder if it was challenged in law it would stand up I think not. They are however going to pass the complaint to the driver’s manager for a full investigation. More on this I’m sure.
3) Our clinic, this seems to have gone really quiet. A small positive piece in one of the freebie papers and I am advised a report in the PCT communications newsletter which is nothing new. The concerns remain about delays and likely scrapping of the project. They were supposed to notify me of date & time of board meeting but of course this has not happened. The even bigger worry is why if all the other hurdles are jumped we should have to go to another lengthy consultation process when it is our community who have been demanding this. I do intend to attend the board meeting. Much more on this I’m sure the greased snake (PCT) continues to wriggle. If there is one group of NHS bodies that need reform its PCTs.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Posters 2

I designed this before little Nicky Clegg shot himself and his party in the foot. I don’t believe they are serious about getting elected and their attitude to pensioners is becoming clear. We did not do well under Brown & Co but I firmly believe under the other two we will do much worse. Get the deficit fixed at any cost seems to be their only real policy. What’s the hurry is my view. We will need to increase taxes but not at the expense of the old and vulnerable in our society.
So Mr. Clegg & Mr. Cameron go have another look at what can be done. BBCB is always here for help and guidance should you require it. During the last local elections I outlined top ten local issues which needed attention. Strikes me some of this is needed nationally.
Any news on Brown meeting last night?

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Posters 1

A couple of days ago I did a post on logos and included posters and sound bytes and how they had won and lost elections. With our election campaign getting underway several posters have already been published. The above is my first attempt on this campaign it’s a bit negative knocking the Tories but so are the Tories posters. I’ll do some positive stuff over the next few weeks with policies I think might help Labour win. Ps I’m a lot cheaper than Saatchi and Saatchi and just as good.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Guest blogger

After reading a piece of creative writing by my eldest granddaughter I asked my grandchildren if they would like to write a piece for my blog. No restrictions were placed on subject matter or length and I promised not to edit the work except for anonymity aspects. The following is the first of their creations from the Tennessee Valley USA. Thank you LOLA


The best thing in the world is family & friends, and being with them. Every other weekend, in the summer, for about 3-4 months, my family gets together at the lake. One way we bring our family closer by wakeboarding. Encouraging and pushing each other. But most importantly… Having fun. The best times of our lives. I’m going to explain a little more about the sport of wakeboarding.
Wakeboarding is a very physical sport that requires a lot of balance and coordination. It also requires much muscle strength. All of your muscles are working together so that you may be able to pull off this amazing and incredible trick. It’s like magic…
Imagine…you look across the water; it’s as smooth as glass. You feel a little tug on the rope, your up and riding the wake. Time stands still as you soar through the air. You stick the landing and your friends in the boat cheer you on. That’s a good afternoon.
Wakeboarding gives you that rush and adrenaline that makes you want to push yourself all the way.
My cousin’s husband, Randell, is phenomenal at it. He has taught me everything that I’ve learned, and of course with the help of his wife. If it wasn’t for him I would still be trying to stand up. And look, I did a 180 this year!!! Who would’ve thought that??
My English family doesn’t get to experience this feeling, but when I’m wakeboarding, I know that they are there also. 6 hours ahead. Across an ocean. Cheering me on.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Some folks never learn.

I’m talking about politicians of course and yesterday’s disgraceful behaviour by Hoon and Hewitt. The whole of the country is covered in six inches of snow. Trains and flights are cancelled, roads closed and power lines down. Schools, offices and factories are empty and the economy is going to pot. Food is running out in some areas, we have predictions of gas running out and not enough grit to clear our roads. But what is the priority for these two? Getting rid of Gordon. Three months ago I would have been on their side, yesterday no chance, the country has other more pressing requirements. Whatever happened to the concept of having a minister for crises? We could do with one right now and away with this silly political posturing. If either of these two were my MP I wouldn’t vote for them. We can do without politicians like them.
The Tories though rather slipped up with their poster which portrayed this pair with the one liner “Even these two can’t stand it any longer”. It’s what I said in my previous post though the Tories have a lot of advertising money and they seem to be using the Blair one liner approach which helped him win in 97. Come on Labour time to fight back.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


Since I retired I have developed an interest in logos and catch phrases (politically they’re call sound bytes). These seemingly innocent little designs can have a powerful influence on all our lives. I’ve designed a few for small local activities and enjoyed it very much.
The picture is a logo from a company I worked for for almost thirty years. The designer is unknown but it would have been designed in the mid fifties and was the company’s trade mark until its absorption into AE Piston Products in the late eighties. The company was Aeroplane & Motor Aluminium Castings and our speciality was die cast pistons for cars and boats and trains plus the odd aircraft and a few tractors. We were the largest producer in Europe. The logo expressed who we were and what we did. Our customers included RR, Bentley, Austin, Morris, Jaguar, Rover, Cadillac, Buick, Lada, and Ford in fact we used to claim that if it moved our products moved it. I was very proud of our logo and the products it appeared on. Unless you were involved with advanced manufacturing no one would ever see our logo because the products were built into engines. In fact my kids thought I produced nothing of importance.
Some logos are instantly recognised like BBC or NHS not because they are of good design but because they have been around for so long. Which brings me to catch phrases? This Christmas a couple have caught my eye as outstanding. An ad for alcoholic drink “See your wife’s face light up this Christmas! Buy her a torch” and the best “If you pull a cracker this Christmas make sure you wear a condom”.
Advertising has won and lost elections and I can think of several good examples The Tory ad “Labour isn’t working” on a poster with a long dole queue. Labours campaign in 97 with the theme tune things can only get better, brilliant, but their advertising campaign was just as good. Simple ads referring to class sizes getting smaller, waiting lists coming down. The Tory campaign representing Blair has the devil just turned people off and the phrase Michael Howard used “are you thinking what we’re thinking was total rubbish. With the election campaign now in full swing we can expect to see the ads start appearing. Some pundit this morning was complaining that the Tories had so much money to spend on advertising they must win this aspect of the campaign. Nonsense, but Labour has to think carefully and creatively about their output. It’s difficult to image that any ads approved by GB will have flair or creativity associated with them. I might do a couple of designs for each side.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

The Daily Moan

My posts these days are a bit like waiting for a bus. You wait forever then two come together. A friend of mine suggested that my blog had some negativity about it these days and having my health in mind suggested that positive thoughts were much better for me than some of the negative stuff I have been writing lately. She asked my wife if she could speak to the editor of the Daily Moan, well honestly, I don’t know what the world is coming to, us wrinkles are supposed to moan, it’s what we do. I’ll do my best to be more upbeat but it is very difficult when every third week your blood numbers come under review and increases in one specific antigen mean bad news. Thank you Gerry for your concern I know it’s my best interests you have in mind. I love the title though I’ve been looking for a new name for the blog. The best I came up with so far was Great Barr Bob or perhaps the Great Barr Groan. Wadaya think?

Proud granddad a bit more

I haven’t mentioned the grandkids much lately for several reasons. It’s not that they haven’t been doing much or excelling at what they do, more that granddad gets a lot of criticism from them over what I write, that is when they read it or I tell them about it. I need to be careful. Recently though eldest granddaughter entered an art portfolio competition for Birmingham secondary school pupils. 160 pieces of art work were chosen for a book of kids’ art. She chose a subject that both puzzled and surprised me “fear” and her semi abstract painting showed a remarkable maturity around the subject as did her description of it which was extremely well written. Whenever we looked after them has little ones we always participated in constructive activities until recently when they decided they wanted to come to our house to “chill out” which means watch the box and be waited on. In respect to her art she is definitely granny taught and my wife has done an extremely good job. She is of course doing art at school and there is an influence there but the basics come from Nan Pat.
I wouldn’t dream of publishing the picture itself without her permission which I will seek in due course. While writing this I just wonder that perhaps she might be persuaded to become a guest blogger.