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.