Waiting for a bus or a train or for a utility company to answer the wretched telephone might be irritating but is obviously not as urgent as waiting for a midwife. So, after three years, four months and 19 days of almost silence as Her Majesty`s Loyal Opposition, actual Labour policies have at last arrived in style carried on a fleet of buses each one packed with jubilant midwives.
Another exclusive brought to you by your super, soar away Expired and Stupid; voted Britain`s laziest regional newspaper for three years running.
Delighted residents of a run down, crime ridden slum area of Walsall are celebrating the council`s bold decision to offer a “more flexible service” for young people by closing their youth club. By cutting and pasting a council press release, your super, soar away Expired and Stupid has discovered that the unnecessary youth facility is surplus to requirements and will be replaced by a much needed training base for the borough arsonist.
While the local Councillors have held a public meeting and been quite vocal about the phantom prospect of development in the local greenbelt, they haven't been talking at all about the fact that Walsall Council is selling off Aldridge Manor Youth Club building and intends to replace the facility - operating for four decades in it's base - with a vague, unfeasible and daft 'Pop-up' travelling youth service.
I am currently away in Glasgow at my union conference representing the interests of some 500 souls. I doubt that many are awaiting with baited breath to discover the decisions I made on their behalf, I doubt many are aware of the uncertain future threatening the TSSA or that there is an alternative to the madness that presents itself as a government of the people for the people.
In the light of the saddening news with the first of no doubt many similar episodes, of someone deciding their own life is worthless in the face of austerity, I am at a loss why we aren’t on the streets to demand an end to the evil this government produces. What does it take for Britain 2013 to stand up and say no?
Social conscious is pilloried, the weak are castigated and portrayed as an undeserving underclass and no matter how bad the situation is, it can be exploited for profit, Lord Young was only just saying how good austerity was for business by keeping labour costs down. Here is chap who knows stuff, two years ago he told us we had never had it so good, compared to 2013 he was probably right.
We often look to the past for lessons to shape the future and the ruling classes are no different, they have learned from their losses and put plans, laws and procedures in place to keep the lower classes in place. One such lesson was given to us tonight by Eileen Turnbull who travelled from Liverpool to talk on the campaign for justice for the Shrewsbury 24. Ricky Tomlinson had been expected to talk to us but apparently he would rather have root canal work done than talk to a conference of transport workers. I wish him speedy recovery and advise him that Eileen was an inspired and captivating replacement.
Until recently I was pretty unaware of the Building Workers Strike of 1972. I was 10 years old at the time and my childhood memories are of power cuts and the four minute warning but I have learned of the injustice and the damned lies that transformed a demand for fair pay and safe working conditions into a conspiracy that led to imprisonment and blacklisting. I was privileged to attend a talk by Gerry Kelly at a trades council meeting where he outlined how he is still blacklisted from the construction industry 40 years after the dispute. I was disturbed to discover that in the 21st Century blacklisting is still determining who works and who doesn’t and that safety is being blamed for the lack of an upturn in the economy.
Hearing the plight of the Shrewsbury 24 demonstrated the lengths the fat cats are prepared to go to to get even and the lengths forty years later they are still prepared to go to to bury the truth. I am confused how a 12 week strike, four decades ago can be classed as a matter of national security and yet Chris Grayling refuses to release documents on those grounds.
The campaign and the E-petition have been well publicised, well you can’t lock up Jim Royale without it going unnoticed but it appears even now, despite the overwhelming evidence of injustice, someone isn’t playing fair and questions have been raised in Parliament over tampering with the petition. To this end the Shrewsbury 24 campaign is seeking to get the 100000 signatures the old fashioned way, on paper and I should imagine the image of a red faced Ricky Tomlinson carrying a huge box of signatures up Downing Street will be a whole lot more unpleasant than a foul mouthed toff on a push bike.
The petition can be downloaded from WWW.Shrewsbury24campaign.org.UK/
It has been a busy couple of days with regard to Consultant appointments. The claim is at the stage where solicitors on both sides are requiring medical reports from experts in broken bones and broken minds. Yesterday we visited a clinic is the posh end of Birmingham to have my arm pulled about for the defence’s benefit. The Mister, as they are way better than Doctors, gave me a thorough test which resulted in a pulled muscle and a lot of residual pain. The end result was the conclusion that the injuries could not have been caused by anything other than the accident. Whilst this was a relief, I couldn’t help thinking these people get paid a lot of money for stating the bleeding obvious.
Today we visited a less posh location in the south of Birmingham to a Mister who was checking my head for the benefit of the defence. In many ways, the ordeal of having the trauma dragged up is worse than having my battered body pulled about. The truth is my head wasn’t in the best shape before the accident and so the damage is less clear cut. My bike was my thinking space that made many other things bearable, to prove that I am more of a nut than I was is difficult and to relate to issues that are now thirteen months hence is difficult to recall and relate.
I wasn’t expecting a pleasant experience, I certainly wasn’t expecting the Mister to give a heartfelt plea to reconsider how my PTSD will be treated and for this Mister to basically call my Mister an unqualified charlatan, whose testimony has been called into doubt in a court of law. He called his report nothing much more than a speculative tender to provide treatment and if he had provided a medical report and a quote to carry out the work, he would expect to be struck off the register. This leaves me in a situation, there is no doubt I need treatment and funds have been set aside with my Solicitors to provide payment for the treatment, so treatment isn’t in doubt here but blimey I am in turmoil as to whether I should be going next week and see his bank account swell by £1500 for the delivery of snake oil.
The other issue is why my Solicitors have chosen an expert with no recognised qualification to act on my behalf and why they have allowed an unethical tender to go ahead. I only want the best for me but I now have serious doubts if my cure really is around the corner. I have waited so long for this to happen, with a dim hope that it may lead to me getting back in the saddle I don’t want it messed up.
Based on some kind of stubborn defence mechanism I realised that there is no point waiting for my head to be fixed and took the bull by the horns. I removed Linda’s bike from the shed and did a few circuits around the block and my arm didn’t drop off, my head didn’t explode and it felt good. So good that all I want to do is get back on and go for a proper ride and see how a few miles feel. Of course this meant finding something with wheels attached to test myself with and this call for help has been answered by a very good friend who has kindly agreed to lend Aldridge’s most prolific cycle crasher a steed to have a go on for which I am extremely grateful. Well I am off to polish my SPD’s in readiness wearing a great big smiley face beaming out from under my flat cap.
We decided to take advantage of the seasonably normal weather and our recently purchased membership to the West Midlands Bird Club and took a drive over to Ladywalk Nature Reserve in the heart of the Hams Hall distribution centre in the outskirts of Birmingham.
Now a bigger than huge industrial area in close proximity to the urban sprawl seems an unlikely location for much in the way of wildlife but it turned out to be a real gem with a number of well situated hides, pleasant paths and varied environment. The car park leads you along the river, through woodland, and into wetland and lakes. The margins were a flurry of activity and the sight of Cormorants nesting in the trees was more akin to a Attenborough documentary for far flung shores than the West Midlands.
In all we saw 37 species of birds, 3 Muntjac deer and a number of bees and butterflies. Of highlight for me was a first ever sighting of Little Grebe, Redshank, Redpoll and Dunlin. The slightly unusual sighting of Little Egret, Common Sandpiper, Oystercatchers and Grey Wagtail were amongst those recorded and just this one trip was worth the joining fee alone.
Linda managed to get quite a few shots of the sightings as I elected to carry my spotting scope rather than the camera on this occasion which usually ensures we get a host of unusual sightings.
Without doubt, with the compact nature of the location and the short distance from our house Ladywalk has just topped my list of favourite birding spots.
The whole point of a Secret Service is that it should remain secret in exactly the same way that a Public Service should remain public.
In Walsall, however, expedience decrees that open and accountable local government must, for the good of its beneficiaries, draw a discreet veil over some of the more “sensitive” issues that require our busy councillors to devote so much time and energy to resolve.
The sad death of Frank Thornton at the grand old age of 92 serves as a reminder that terrible comedy is less excruciating when executed with impeccable timing and genuine acting talent. Unfortunately, as we have witnessed this week, experience of folding towels at Selfridges is not necessarily the best preparation for those fortunate enough to be elevated to the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer.
It has been a while since I blogged about anything, I suppose my recent operation sapped some of my humour and maybe stopped me seeing the funny side of things for a while but a meeting I attended last night seemed to kickstart the systems again.
I was wearing my “Friends of ” hat and the hot topic for the night was the proposed plans to tip the balance of Brownhills Common back towards Heathland. This proactive management of the land was specified by Natural England when making the Common a SSSI.
Heathland is a disappearing environment and as we now have a better understanding of how nature works and the fundamental interconnectedness of all things that provide us with a functioning planet. It is widely recognised that humans have seriously messed up the planet and that this really cannot go on. This wasn’t something decided in Walsall by a pen pusher looking to make a quick profit to the detriment of the locality, this was decided at the Rio summit. The overall impression gained from this worldwide gathering of people who really know their shit was that as a species we not only needed to stop messing things up but to try and put some things back to the way they were and maybe apologise to the other residents of the planet that we were affecting.
Following from the second world war, a programme of tree planting was put into action. These trees needed to have rapid growth for a relatively fast turn over brought about by a desperate shortage of timber. Rather than a native species, the tree of choice were Conifers. No regard or consideration was given native species or the effect on the biodiversity of our countryside, this was about a means to an end, a quick fix and purely for financial reasons. As a result the Heathland of Brownhills was turned over to plantation.
It takes very specific conditions for heathland to prevail and healthy heathland actually contributes to the containment of carbon emissions, which in turn reduces the effects of climate change. This is generally considered the greatest danger to life on the planet. Currently less than 20% of the country’s heathland remains and the fact that Brownhills Common was granted SSSI status reflects the genuine importance of the site for the benefit of the environment. Brownhills has a chance of saving the world and that isn’t something that is mentioned every day. SSSI status provides a number of benefits, the most important is the protection of the site from other uses, building, mining, mineral extraction. SSSI status ensures the area will be there for future generations to enjoy and at a push that future generations will there to enjoy it.
The loss of some of the plantations and their resultant return to their original state isn’t going down well with the people who enjoy the location as it is, there were a number of people at the meeting who have a lifetime of watching this foreign ecology evolve. I have spent far too much time with Swampy look a likes and wouldn’t have figured anyone there as an environmental protester, so this is obviously an emotive subject. One lady enjoys watching the trees change with the seasons another gentleman commented in the local press that they look lovely covered in snow and I must agree with both of them.
Now there has been a lot of trust lost in the meat business of late but for a local Butcher making the headlines by wanting to see the Deer on Brownhills Common seems does come across a tad strange, I understand that the Travelling community tether Horses about the locality and yet he displayed a juxtaposition to Traveller presence in a most derogatory manner. Fortunately he left early to a more important engagement at Rushall Olympic.
The truth is Deer are pretty ambivalent to Conifers. Conifers sap nutrients from the ground and the needles provide ground cover preventing the growth of any tasty treats. They are ideally camouflaged to bed down in grass and heather, the provision of a heathland corridor between Hednesford and Sutton Park would no doubt increase the predominance of Deer as a herding animal they do like to roam the plains.
The over riding impression I got from the meeting was the intransigent attitude and the total unwillingness to listen to the rationale, the facts or the presentation. There was a loud cry for a public meeting which in all probability would become a public lynching. We got so much wrong in the 20th Century, this is about putting something right. I think the people of the area need to keep an open mind and consider the facts before buying the rope.
Any attempt to parody the profound words attributed to Pastor Martin Niemoller is at best in poor taste and could be considered as sacrilegious. Anyway, here goes...
First they came for the forests, and I didn`t speak out because I wasn`t a tree.
Then they came for the badgers, and I didn`t speak out because I wasn`t a badger.
Then they came for the deer and I didn`t speak out because I wasn`t a dirty great big stag with sharp pointy antlers.