Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

A BBC Radio reporter and a Press Journo annoy me

    I manage a small office and shopping centre for a property company.  They, the property company, bought the site from a Quango back in the mid 1990's.  A Quango if you do not know what that is in the UK is a:

    Quasi Autonomous Non Governmental Body in essence what it means is that they are Government Funded with a seemingly Bottomless Pit of money and in many instances with Power and Authority and in some cases power and authority to run rough shod over local authorities in planning matters. If you want to know more about that here is an interesting article that appeared in the Daily Telegraph back in 2009, but do please pop back and read the rest of my little ramble, it's about a newspaper and a local BBC outlet!

    So, this site I manage, it has a car park with around 400 parking spaces on it and being a generous and magnanimous local landlord the company who own it has and still does allow free parking on a 24/7 basis.  However, the site also has a very large permanent street market on it that has existed since the 1970's, prior to that the market was a stone's throw away and I do literally mean a stone's throw.

    Problems started to arise when the local Tesco and retail park also in very close proximity to our site , imposed restrictions on parking and while the parking was still free, a time limit of three hours was imposed, remain after that time and you would have to pay a parking charge. Now, we and the other two sites mentioned also share another common thread in that we are all within walking distance of the local rail station and so commuters who did not want to pay for parking over there were using either the retail park or Tesco car parks and walking the few minutes to the station.

    However, when both of these introduced limited parking, commuters started to park in our car park.  Again, we were not to bothered to begin with, but, we did notice that while the car park was usually about half full on most days most of our tenant shops were seeing no appreciable increase, if any, in sales/ turnover.  In addition of course this was having an impact on market days as well when we needed every space and we needed to have a turnover of visitors to maximise the footfall to the market.

    So, we imposed restrictions similar to the other retailers in the area but unlike them we employed a chap who walked round the car park on market days and put  Vehicle registration numbers into a hand held device.  He would walk round all day and eventually if he put a registration in that had been recognised as having been there for more than the allowed three hours, than a parking charge notice would be issued.  The other units installed number plate recognition cameras to do this for them, which at the end of the day was/is a much more viable way of doing it in terms of making sure that anyone overstaying the three hour limit would have to pay the parking charge and then think twice about doing it again!

    SO, eventually we also decided to go down this route as we knew, without being critical of the chap employed to go round with the device, that it was a boring repetitive and tedious task, and we also know that some cars were being missed. We took the decision to change to the automatic number plate recognition system in late May early June with a commissioning date set for mid July.  All went well and the system was installed and trialled. The signs we had in the car park were replaced, 10 of them that included one on the public highway before entering the car park and flyers and leaflets were put in all of the local shops.  The only difference this time was that instead of enforcing the three hour limit on market days only we would also do as the other retail units around us had done and make it 24/7.  Bearing in mind that I have been getting quotes recently to re-surface the car park and the cheapest one obtained was in the region of £400k and that is a cost that the tenants have to pay for on the service charge.  So while we were not expecting to make a profit from the introduction of the scheme, my thinking behind it was that any monies raised, once the capital outlay for the cameras, etc, had been met, could be off set against the repair and maintenance bill, which I believe is a reasonable stance to adopt, you'd think!    

    So what has all of this got to do with the press and the BBC that I mentioned earlier?

    Well, about a month ago, which would have been a month into the new system I received a phone call from a local BBC Essex Radio reporter.  He introduced himself and then proceeded to tell me that he was calling to investigate a story, as a result of complaints received from local residents, on the introduction of car parking fees to a long established and local council car park!  He went on to inform me that prior to making the call he had in fact established that the car park in question did not in fact have anything to do with the local authority in question.  Did I have a comment?

    Well, as a matter of fact I did.  I started off by jumping past the local authority thing and said that in actual fact the car park was as it always has been in the past, FREE, to anyone who wished to use it, but for the benefit of the tenants in the shops and offices and for the market we were restricting the period of FREE parking to THREE hours every day and not just on Market days, so there really is no reason for anyone to feel that they are being charged as long as they comply with our reasonable directions not to exceed that time limit.

    Secondly, I enquired if he had called the local retail park or the local Tesco Extra to make the same enquiry of them.  This question was at first met with silence and so I repeated it only to have the reply to me of, " I don't understand why you are asking me about these other places and why you are being so aggressive about this, why should I be contacting these other places, it is you I am talking to"?

    "Well", said I, "the reason I am asking is that in your introduction to me you told me who you were and why you were calling and you said that you were calling, to investigate a story, as a result of complaints received from local residents, on the introduction of car parking fees to a long established and local council car park!  You then told me that you had established that we were not in fact 'a local authority' before you called me, is that correct", I asked.  "Yes" he responded.  "So. I will ask you again", says I, "why are you phoning.  You receive calls complaining about the introduction of parking fees where none apply to a council car park that is not a council car park and UNLESS they overstay the three hours and then you tell me that you have not investigated the same thing happening with two other businesses who did exactly the same thing some 18 months before we did.  And then you accuse me of being aggressive in my responses, why do you think that is"? I ask  "I've no idea why you are responding to me like this he says, It's not as if I am trying to do an expose".  "Yes, but forgive me for being so obviously obtuse here, but having established before you made the phone call to me today wasting both of our time, why did you think you needed to call a private company to enquire about their management of a car park in a small insignificant shopping centre, it's not as if it is a hospital car park where you might have had an interest and there might indeed have been some public interest, now is it, can you see my point"?  "No," says he and then tells me that there is no point in continuing the conversation.

    I thought that was the end of it until today, 27th Sept. There I was having popped out of the office as it was a nice sunny day to enjoy the summer revival.  Minding my own business and standing in the car park chatting to a couple of surveyors who had arrived on site at the behest of the London office.  As we chatted we were passed by a rather seedy and scrawny looking chap with a man bag slung over his shoulder ( I use one too so that was not a critique) and a pen in one hand and a notebook in the other.

    Without introducing himself he says, "Can I ask who you guys are"?  Now, normally that's my line. The receptionist will give me a call and direct my attention to a camera with some suited or not, person taking photos or writing notes as they wander about the centre and of course curious as we are I would pop out, INTRODUCE myself and ask if I can be of assistance, and then ASK who they are!

    Not this weedy little character, he asked us who we were without an introduction. And having already guessed who he was I then enquired who he was. He responded without giving his name as if to make us tremble in our shoes, "I'm a reporter from the (Basildon) Echo," says he, "I'm doing a story on the recent introduction of charges in the car park and the lack of signage"!

    "You are" says I, "and have you noticed any signage in the car park where it clearly states that PARKING IS FREE for the first three Hours and that there are 10 signs across the car park"?  "Yes, I've noticed the signs, but they aren't very clear" he replied.  "And there isn't one at the entrance"  "Well, yes there is says I and in fact it is on the public highway before you even enter the site", but by then he wasn't really listening so with that I ignored him and went back to my conversation with the two visitors and he wandered off.

   Now I have reproduced one of the 10 signs for you below and all I can do is ask you, and having read  any of my blogs you will note that I am not one prone to issue expletives in print, don't get me wrong it is not a prudish thing, I really can't explain it and as anyone who knows me, apart from my kids, as they have rarely heard me swear, but I do, like a trooper and as one of my nieces said to me recently, "Go for it Unky Tom, sometimes a written piece just needs a good fuck, and do you know what she was right!  

    So, Is it me, or are these Motherfuckers just messing with me?  I don't think I am being over sensitive about this even from the point of view that I manage the place but it just seems to me that it is a NON FUCKING STORY initiated by morons who have lost a facility that was never theirs to lose in the first place and I cannot for the life of me understand why tarts from the press are finding it so compelling?

The phot reproduced below is one I just snapped on my phone today and it is the one out on the public highway but it is exactly the same as the ones inside the car park and even from that one you can clearly note where it says FREE PARKING FOR 3 HOURS

Friday, 23 September 2011

How do you feel about the Niqab?

Niqab women fined by French court | World news | guardian.co.uk:  'via Blog this'

So, two French women have been fined the derisory sums of £105 and £70 for ignoring the legal ban on wearing the Niqab.

Now I am neither Muslim nor female and I have really never been drawn to this form of 'dress' as something that draws a man's attention to a woman in the way that other forms of dress or clothing do, and maybe that is the intention of the Niqab as the wearer does not wish to be ogled by others and men in particular! The Wikipedia page on this goes into the history of the covering and goes some way to explain the history of it.

I do know plenty of women both Christian and non Christian and Muslim and Non Muslim and of the latter I don't know any who do wear one and I suppose like other westerners  I am at loss to understand why anyone would want to, but, that some do is clear, walk down any street in the UK and they are evident .

I am neither a scholar nor a philosopher so my take on this matter is purely a personal and probably an uneducated one.  I can only tell you that I have listened to various debates on TV, probably like most average people in Europe this is where we get our understanding from (or lack of) on this matter.

From a modern perspective, where we have so much mistrust and where apparently we are at war in a semi clandestine fashion with Muslims I can and do see the need for security measures where 'people' wearing a Niqab must allow themselves to be identified when going near or entering 'target' zones such as airports, and official government buildings and there may also be a need for this in busy shopping areas as we do know that suicide bombers target the soft target rather than the hard target, so it is a problem!

But is the outright banning of the Niqab and other coverings the answer.  Men and women of all races and creeds and colours go about their business on a daily basis.  Christians and non Christians, Muslims and non Muslims.  Each country town and village wherever it is on the planet has its fair share of criminals, murderers, rapists etc., but we do not brand those communities with the same degree of collective guilt as we appear to be doing to woman who choose to wear a Niqab.

Now it is only the French, so far, that have taken this action and I understand that a number of woman have defied the ban and yet it is only these two who have appeared in court, although I believe others have also been fined, presumably on the spot!   I also understand from the report in the Guardian that they had no problems lifting their Niqabs to have their identities verified. so it does seem as if it is a bit of an unenforceable and unnecessary law unless every country in the European union adopts it!

While the bleeding heart brigade may protest at my next suggestion I'll proceed with it anyway, why don't we go the whole hog and ban all Muslims from Western society and they can do the same with westerners, Christian or not, We could also send all Africans back to Africa and all white Americans back to the land of their ancestors.  Of course we here in the United Kingdom  could end up anywhere from France or Germany to the Nordic countries as we all probably have a bit of all of them in us.  Now you know I am being ridiculous here, right, you do know that don't you?  But the same thing applies to the above it just seems ridiculous.

It is a sad state of affairs that we are in today where we need to be considering such measures of banning people from wearing 'traditional' clothing whether we fully understand why they would wear it in the first place or not.  And of course it is both tragic and sad that we are where we are today with suicide bombers and whatever.  Do you remember that Arnie movie 'Total Recall' where, when he is escaping from the baddies down into the underground/metro station and he goes through the x-ray machine and all you see is his skeleton and his big gun?  Well sadly that is what we need in every transport hub and shopping mall.  The sooner they introduce it the better, then we can leave women and anyone else who wishes to dress the way they want to and let them get on with their lives, and the rest of us can get on with our lives  knowing that at least every single one of us will have been treated the same!

What do you think?

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Perfection is a dish self served!

As you go about your day and your life do you often wonder at the number of people who are critical of you and or others?

If you say or write something and maybe your grammar was a little bit off or your spelling of a particular word was incorrect someone seems to be waiting to pounce on you and correct your mistake, why?

I am not a perfectionist, in anything I do. Pedantic and sometimes Bloody Minded in some things and areas maybe, but perfectionist, no, not really.

Now, don't get me wrong, I really don't get upset when others point out my shortcomings, after all, I have spent a long time 'perfecting' them or as some might say, stumbling (or bumbling as others might say)  along in a perpetual state of ignorance, oblivious in most instances to what I have said or done wrong or where my grammar has maybe given an entirely different meaning to what I have written than what I apparently actually meant to say!

It just seems that with the advent of social media that more and more people are becoming critics, well of course I am one myself, you only need read some of my offerings to see that I am ready to criticise others! But, my criticisms are levelled at other things, the system of government, the state of the NHS, parliamentary expenses, the unfairness of life, etc.  And not at the individual, well maybe some individuals in public life for what they have said or done that I fundamentally disagree with.

I follow a number of people on social networks, primarily on Twitter some of whom I engage with some I don't.  And it is interesting to see the number of, in many instances, one sided tweets that appear on my timeline with someone of note whom I follow (now should that have been who or whom - do feel free to correct me, I really don't mind!) in response to something they have written that they then clearly have had a response from someone else who follows them correcting their grammatical or spelling mistake (!) and they, the corrected  and offended, do seem to take umbrage, judging by some of the withering responses that appear.

Also, it is correct to point out, I think, that some do point out little mistakes because they do know the author and do it humorously, as opposed to humourlessly, or just to wind their friend up and that is also fine too, .... but criticism for the sake of trying to appear better educated or more informed than the author of the item being commented on, no point really... don't you think?

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Sweets are better than Chocolate

This is why sweets are bad for you!

Mr Cadbury met Miss Rowntree on a Double Decker.  It was just After Eight.  They got of at Quality Street.

He asked her name, "Polo", she replied, " I'm the one with the hole", she said with a Whispa.

"I'm Marathon, the one with the Nuts", he replied.  He touched her Cream Eggs then slipped his hand into her Snickers.  He fondled her Flap Jacks and she rubbed his Tic Tacs.  It was a Fab moment as she screamed in Turkish Delight. But three days later his Sherbet Dib Dab started to itch.

Turns out Miss Rowntree had been with Bertie Bassett and he had Allsorts!

Author unknown but thanks to Nick for sending it to me......

Friday, 16 September 2011

Council builds Purpose Built Disabled Homes - What are we doing for our Service Personnel?

(C) Basildon Echo

I noticed this article in the Basildon Echo the other day, sorry I couldn't find an on line link to it, but it also got me thinking about our disabled ex servicemen.  Lets face it since the illegal war in Iraq and our involvement in Afghanistan there are an awful lot of disabled ex soldiers out there and I wondered what we are doing for them?

I have to confess I have never heard or read before of a local authority doing this and the article does not say whether it is for a civilian or an ex-serviceman [who is of course a civilian]. In fact the article goes on to state that it is 20 years since Basildon has built a purpose built house for a disabled tenant! 

Now much has been said in the last year or so about the Armed Forces Covenant  and wasn't it a pity that Tony Blair took us to that illegal war in Iraq without giving one thought to the consequences of dealing with the severely injured and disabled servicemen and their families prior to taking us there, just as he did not give it a serious thought after we started to see injured personnel coming home.  The same can be said for his successor Gordon Brown.  And don't think the Tories with David Cameron would have done much about it either if there had not been a groundswell of revulsion from the general public through publicity of the dire circumstances and lack of facilities that were available to begin with either!

So if you read the comments on the link above for the Covenant you will notice that housing is specifically mentioned and I wonder if that also means that Basildon [only because they are the ones mentioned in the article above] and other local authorities throughout the United Kingdom should be spending more money on building purpose built homes and not just for ex-servicemen?

And of course there is a dilemma in that for cash strapped local authorities as well.  The Covenant is or is to be enshrined in LAW so does that mean that local authorities are and will be obliged to build these purpose built homes? And while they may need to do it by law for ex-servicemen can they opt out of doing it for non ex-servicemen, but, will that then fall foul of human rights laws whereby they are providing a facility for one section of the disabled and not for another.  If they must build them does the money come from central government funds from a special reserve or from MOD budgets?  Who knows!  

Now believe it or not, Ok it is not hard to believe but the Government and the MOD seem to be rather shy in giving out statistics on the number of personnel who have been maimed as a result of our involvement in these wars, hardly surprising of course as they really don't want that information to be readilly available upsetting our delicate sensibilities, but, Ian Cobain of The Guardian posted the following article earlier this year

The number of British troops losing limbs to bomb blasts in Afghanistan in 2010 exceeded that of 2009 by nearly 40%.

Newly published figures from Defence Analytical Services and Advice (Dasa) show that a total of 76 troops suffered what the Ministry of Defencedescribed as "traumatic or surgical amputation" of one or more limbs or parts of a limb up to the end of 2010.

There were 55 such injuries in Afghanistan in 2009 - more than the total figure for the previous three years - with almost half occurring during the final three months of the year.
The Ministry of Defence began making the figures available in February, after previously resisting calls for them to be released. In March theNational Audit Office warned that hospitals treating the wounded from Afghanistan were close to capacity, and said that Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham, which treats amputees, might need to displace civilians to make more room.

 Having said that I have still found it difficult to get an hard numbers but buried at the end of an NAO report is this little statistic:

 522 military personnel were seriously injured on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan between October 2001 and October 2009. Personnel on operations have attended medical facilities 125,000 times for minor injury and illness since 2006 and a further 1,700 times for mental health conditions. The NAO has estimated that the cost of medical care provided as a result of military operations was £71 million in 2008-09.

For the full report see: injury_on_military_operations 

Now the report does not tell us how many of the 522 seriously injured have ended up as disabled personnel, but the figure is probably pretty high and whatever it is, surely they are going to need serious consideration from local authorities as to their continued welfare which not only includes proper housing but ongoing medical treatment from the NHS.  All of this costs and I am not arguing that is should not be paid out but should local communities have to bare the burden of it like we did for the bank collapse?  Once again our government is taking unilateral action without the consent of the majority of the people and then we suffer financially.

As an ex serviceman who, after being shot,was given first class treatment many years ago by Military Medical personnel in Military Hospitals I am appalled at the the way servicemen are treated today but it does not surprise me and I personally believe that The Covenant, enshrined in Law or not is nothing more than an exercise by a bunch of cynical politicians using and promoting it to get them out of a public embarrassment.  It sickens me that so much of what Servicemen receive has to be bought and paid for by charities and I am not knocking the charities, BUT it is not charity they should be relying on it is the morally bankrupt governments who send them there in the first place, in their name, not mine!

So I am all for purpose built homes for the disabled both ex-servicemen and those born with a disability and local authorities should be providing them, but, for servicemen's homes the money should be provided by central government and one way to do this would be to reduce the expenses that MP's are allowed to claim and place this into a social housing fund for disabled Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Junk mail, Is it me - am I just being a tart?

I received a leaflet in the mail at home.  Now like everyone else I do get my fair share of junk mail but it is not normally addressed to the actual home.  Okay it did not have my name on it but it was addressed to my home and that differs from the normal junk mail that you get.

Junk mail is either delivered en masse to homes in a particular area because the company sending it out has paid the Post Office to do a bulk delivery to every home in a particular postcode area and so they do not have to put individual addresses on each leaflet, or, it is stuffed through the letter box by some plonker being paid a pittance on a wet and windy day to stick them in your letter box and you rush to the door open it up with the offending crap in your hand, hold it up so that the delivery agent can see it and then rip it in half and stuff it in the recycling box, in the hope that if they come back with another one they will remember you and not come back through the gate!

That sort of approach seems to work with cold callers from Church of Latter Day Saints and others of that ilk as Ishbel will tell you.  Me, I quite like them coming to the door, because I do like a good debate, where they eventually give up in frustration.  And, do you know, they do take notes.  If on the other hand Ishbel answers the door to them, she is quite rude, now if you actually know my 'wee wife' you would know that that is completely out of character for her but for some reason these people do bring out the worst in her.  So, when we see them out in the street before they come to any of the houses they pull out the little black book and refer to it before approaching the houses.  I am imagining that there are comments from previous visits along the lines of, " No **, Don't Visit, not welcome, unbelievers, will burn in hell" or "No**, Okay to visit BUT if the witch answers the door withdraw immediately BUT if the nice chap answers the door engage WE MIGHT win him round!"

But anyway I digress, back to 'Junk Mail'  I am going to put this one back in the post, do you thing Royal Mail will actually return to sender, and will they get the message? Don't get me wrong I do like an occasional pizza, but can't really remember the last time I had one but I just hate junk mail, and I don't, on the very rare occasion where I have one, order home delivery, and I have never ever had a Domino Pizza, so I do object to them having my address on file!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

KETTLING - is this Police tactic wrong?

It is reported today that Liberty is challenging the British Police tactic of Kettling in the European Courts.

I have said before that I believe that there are to many bleeding hearts out there with big budgets and bigger mouths shouting about the human rights of all and while they are looking after and complaining about peoples rights being violated, we the ordinary and law abiding people of the country who want to get on with our daily lives, are being ignored by the minority who shout and stamp their feet the loudest.

Now, don't get me wrong, the core principles of Liberty are manifestly well intended but, as with everything else they end up ignoring the rights of the majority.  Ok, I know that they and others like them will argue that they are looking after and fighting for the rights of me and others like me, but I am 55, I am law abiding and I am white and want to get on with my life and not have it disrupted by protester's or the police who don't stop and search me because I am white, but who are out in large numbers to attempt to manage another protest.

But this blog is not about stop and search-  and I believe that this rule should be challenged as it has been proved over and over again that it appears to be a racist policy aimed at non whites, so Liberty keep going with that one, no - this blog is about KETTLING.

Again, I am with Liberty to a degree, that in some instances it does seem to go to far, but that is not to say that it is a tactic that should never be employed by the Police, that is Liberty's argument, BUT, it is not mine.

I wrote a blog recently entitled Jody McIntyre - Police Brutality I finished of the article with these comments:
You say,  "the Police incite violence", I say, "you and the protesters incite violence"

You say, "The real issue is the cuts that the government are making in education" I say "what a bunch of prats" People are starving all over the world, the 'under privileged' as you call them of this country are oppressed and ill educated IN EVEN A BASIC EDUCATION and have nothing AND YOU ARE PROTESTING AND RIOTING IN THE STREETS BECAUSE FEES ARE BEING INTRODUCED FOR FURTHER EDUCATION. Now if you were rioting because the basic education of the masses in this country was suffering and that millions of our children are being condemned to a life of ignorance, I might just have had some sympathy for you and these 'educated morons' but you didn't, so I don't.

So while you promote anarchy then I promote giving the Police bigger and thicker batons, giving them more guns, allow then to kettle you as you join the rampaging mob and I will continue to not have a problem when the Police drag you and your likes off our streets.      
Lets face it, and I think everyone must agree, you do have to have permission to hold a protest on our streets, that is only right and proper, so no one can say that they did not know that a protest was scheduled to take place in an area where a) they might be working in or b) where they might have planned to visit for social reasons.

Now it is pretty difficult if your place of employment is smack bang in the middle of an area that is going to be passed by a protest march to do anything about that and you really have to just get on with it, but is it not ridiculous when before a 'peaceful' protest takes place that we see images of businesses and local authorities boarding up those business premises, of course it is.  So most of us know that a high proportion of protest marches are not going to be peaceful because peaceful does not get the message out, but they still have a right to protest!  Is it ok then, Liberty, for the protesters to destroy and burn businesses and for the minority to disrupt the majority and not just for the day of the protest but for the days weeks and months that it may take them to recover and get their business up and running again, what about their rights?

What about the rights of individual Police officers being pelted with bricks, bottles, and fire bombs, I do not believe that I have ever heard you say that their rights are being abused, or is it that they lose their individuality and the rights that accompany the individual once they become Police officers?

I am not a Police officer, never have been, but I have had dealings with them over the years in the various jobs that I have in fact I even recall, although I can not recall what it was about, but many years ago [early 90's] I laid in to them in a letter to the Police Gazette.  I continue to be a critic of them today and no doubt tomorrow and let me make it perfectly clear, I do not have a problem with people taking to the streets in peaceful protest BUT, I do have a problem with protesters, whether it has been engineered by a minority within the protesters or not, then turning that protest into a running riot and street battle.

Every single time that happens or before it happens then I am happy that protest marches should be KETTLED.  Yes, the police need to review and manage the situation better and YES they need to take into account that there may be innocent protesters or members of the public contained within that action, BUT, if KETTLING means that the protest does not denigrate to the level of Neanderthal savagery, them I am happy for them to do so.

Looking at your website there is an article entitled, "Inside the kettle" written by a 'child'  the article clearly written by a SCHOOL pupil, not a COLLEGE or a UNIVERSITY student, and all I can say to that is, she and the rest of the SCHOOL students that were there, were truants on the day and should not have been there and for you to justify your arguments by using this 'article' really does your cause  a disservice, please grow up and join the rest of us in the real world.  I do not believe that I am naive in MY outlook on this nor is it down to my suburban existence that I write these comments, no, it is a sense of frustration from the point of view of the person sitting at home switching on the TV and once again seeing someone from Liberty or other similar organisation blaming the riots and problems on the Police and that the poor downtrodden protesters are once again victims of Police Brutality.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

What I would do in A Second Life -By Mollie Ing aged 8 1/4

     If I had a Second Life I would make it last and make it fun like every one should and you have to be grateful for yourself even if something bad happens like someone passes away or you lose you most special thing.

     You should always be grateful that's my first reason now all you should know now is you should be grateful. but I shall tell you what I would do, I would spend time with my family most of the time ,but I WOULD go to the park and go outside the front with my friends twice a week.  That,s who I would spend time with if I had a second life.  

me, rubbing garlic and herbs that I prepard in a mortar and
pestle before rubbing it in my leg of lamb

Now I shall tell you what I have been up to tonight .Tonight for my dinner I am having roast lamb and I helped prepare it so in a second life I might be a chef.  Also in a second life I would allways make my dinners sea food like sqid and stuff like that.  In a second life if I was the qeen I would make smokeing band forever and homework band forever .now I would like to tell what pets I would have in a second life.now here they are I would love a hamster because my friend millie has one called bert and I really like so I would like a hamster in a second life.


Friday, 9 September 2011

What would you do with a Second Life

Emma GeralnI have a 'Twitter Friend' who goes by the name of @EmmaGerain, this is her twitter picture or Avatar.
Now, I suspect like most Tweeters, Emma and I have never met but we comment on each others tweets if each of us say something that interests us or that we find funny or disturbing or we just plain 'hate'.  Hate as in the sense that it makes us want to shout at it, them, the situation, or whatever.

Now I have no idea who found who and who befriended whom first, but that is really not important.  Emma, and I have no idea if that is her real name or not, I have discovered, is a "Second Lifer". No, that does not mean that she is hiding behind a made up picture because she is a mass murderer, well at least I do not think she is, or that she is serving consecutive life sentences behinds bars in Holloway Prison.  No it means that she is a part of a community who meet on line in a virtual reality.

Wikipedia describes it thus:
Second Life is an online virtual world developed by Linden Lab. It was launched on June 23, 2003. A number of free client programs, or Viewers[1][2], enable Second Life users, called Residents, to interact with each other through avatars. Residents can explore the world (known as the grid), meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, and create and trade virtual property and services with one another. Second Life is intended for people aged 16 and over[3], and as of 2011 has about one million active users[4].

I see Tweets from Emma from time to time advertising that she is DJing at SL and inviting people to pop along to listen to her set and this morning she posted a short blog on SL at Emma's Blog.

I visited, I read and I didn't understand a word of what she was twittering on about, but that is me.  But, it also got me to thinking, "What would you do with a Second Life in real life"?

Would, if you were married, for instance,(and please do remember Ishbel Stronach, this is a work of fiction and not my desire) you have a Second Life as a single club loving partying, socialite?  Where once or twice a week you could slip out and let your hair down, on your own!

Would you get the wife to do her own ironing? (threat last night unless her behaviour improved)

Or, if you were stuck in a boring office job would you have a Second Life as a high flyer or an entrepreneurial wizard with everything you touch turning to financial gold?

On the other hand, if you were a high powered boss in stressful meetings every day would your Second Life  be that of a stay at home parent taking the kids to school and out walking with the dogs?

Or if you are a blogger would your Second Life have you as a successful author?

Just what would you be in your Second Life?

Thursday, 8 September 2011

An open letter to The Right Hon Kenneth Clarke QC MP, Lord Chancellor

Kenneth Clarke blames English riots on a 'broken penal system' | UK news | The Guardian:

'via Blog this'

Dear Mr Clarke,

I know the above article was a few days ago but it did make interesting reading.

You blame the riots on a "broken Penal system".  The article goes on to tell us that "75% of those aged over 18 and charged with offences... during the riots had prior convictions".

"That is the legacy of a broken penal system - one whose record in preventing reoffending has been straightforwardly dreadful."

I am on record as saying that I despise most politicians, I really do not have a lot of time for any of them as I firmly and truly believe that they are all a bunch of self serving arrogant out of touch, prats.

Points in case Margaret Moran who finally is facing 21 charges for expenses claims.  Then there is Sir Stuart Bell who it is revealed has not held a constituents surgery in 14 years, so why do they continue to elect him if he will not engage with them?

But you Ken Clarke, well I must also admit to having liked you more than a little over the years as you always appeared a bit of a rebel in parliament.  But, since the ConDems elevation to power and 'old' Kens return to front line duties you now also fall into the categories of self serving arrogant out of touch, prats.

Self serving, because I believe you will say anything these days to get back in to a position of power, only trouble is every time you open it you really do need to consider shoving a 'hush puppy' into it before actually saying anything..

Rape, forced to apologise over remarks
Prison sentencing forced to scrap plans
Expenses  Avoids paying full rate council tax

But having said all that I find myself agreeing with you that there is a "broken penal system"  Yes but it is just not the penal system that is broken, the justice system is broken too.  So are the people we charge with ensuring that we actually do have a penal system that is up to the job. But if the people that we elect are not up to the job how can we expect the penal and justice systems to be any better? We can't and it is really that simple.

Human rights laws are they to protect us all but all to often we find that in doing that they protect the dignity and rights of recidivist offenders.

You say that the penal system is not doing enough to stop and prevent reoffending.

Prisoners welfare groups call for more leniency and more rights for prisoners.

Prisoners and ex prisoners demand voting rights and radios and TV's and single cells!

When will you and they realise that there are some people on this planet who are career criminals, whether they are petty thieves or serial assaulter's, muggers or burglars or murderers or paedophiles; That is what they do and no amount of reform is going to change that.  No amount of rehabilitation is going to change that.  It is what they do and what they are.

We need to stop giving them second, third and fourth chances and we need to lock them up and throw away the key. The original article linked to this says it all, "75% of those aged over 18 and charged with offences... during the riots had prior convictions". 

The recent murder of a pensioner in Cleveland highlights this better than any other, although I must point out that the man arrested for the brutal bludgeoning to death of the 77 year old has not been convicted or gone to trial yet, but the person they were looking for and who has been arrested has convictions for kidnap, rape, armed robbery and indecent assault. (Read More http://www.journallive.co.uk/north-east-news/breaking-news/2011/09/01/new-images-of-murder-suspect-graeme-jarman-72703-29344197/#ixzz1XM36Gn4n).

Now I also understand that he has spent a considerable amount of time in prison, I believe his last sentence was for something like 15 years, but that he was let out after 8. Now I have found it difficult to find a lot of information on this chap trawling through the web today and I suspect a lot has been removed so that it would be difficult for people to do web searches for fear of prejudicing any upcoming trial and that is probably as it should be.

But, on the strength of what we do know as opposed to what we don't know He has numerous convictions for serious crimes KIDNAP, RAPE, ARMED ROBBERY, INDECENT ASSAULT.

Why was he out walking our streets?  This is where the bleeding hearts have got it wrong, no amount of rehabilitation is going to make these people change their ways and they will go to parole board meetings and meetings of reformers and with politicians and they will tell them as they wring their hands and hang their heads, "Yes guvnor I realise that I have been a bad person and that what I've done has been bad.  But, the crochet and knitting lessons that I have attended while in prison for the last 8 years have made me see the error of my ways and if you let me out instead of making me serve the other 7 years of my sentence I will be a good and model citizen, I will, honest I will..."

And you fall for it every single time. And we end up with murderers and rapists and child molesters and burglars out walking our streets reoffending in the knowledge that even if they are caught they will do a couple of years and be back out on the streets again.

The Justice and Penal Systems are broken because politicians and soft judges and do gooders have broken them. 

I recall sitting on the train from not long after the ConDems came to power and before I started blogging.  There were three teenagers on the train and it was a school day.  They were not heading to school they were heading to Southend and brazen in their talk.  The talk was about you, so at least teenagers were I guess engaging in some form of political debate, which on the surface one might think a good thing.  But, sadly, no, that was not really the case.  It was the morning that you were all over the news calling for shorter sentencing and no sentencing for some crimes.  They were full of themselves telling anyone who was listening as they shouted that they were off to 'Southend for a bit of trouble'.  A bit of 'shoplifting here and and see if we can nick from a car or two or maybe even nick one'.  We might find a 'ponce who needs a doing' was another comment.  And how they laughed when they said 'we'll be ok tho if we're caught cos fat clarkey doesn't want to lock us up no more'.  This sums up recidivists, they don't care and they see you and because of you and your likes they see the rest of us as jokes and victims to be continually abused, stolen from and beaten to a bloody pulp because politicians and do gooders want to think well of everyone and believe wrongly that goodness resides, somewhere in us all, when it is clear to us that in some it does not exist!
It is time that you listened to the rest of us and start locking these people up for life with no possibility of parole.  If we need to build bigger and more secure prisons so be it.  Build them in the middle of the Yorkshire Moors, The Scottish Highlands and in Dartmoor.  Beauty spots they may be, but they are also ideal places to dump our human garbage, because that is what these sorry excuses for human beings are, nothing but human garbage and they should be treated like all  non recyclable garbage dumped in the waste system, never to be seen or heard from again.......  

Yours Sincerely 

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

NHS an update - still no word from my MP

As you know I wrote to my MP last week asking her some questions about the booking system for NHS appointments.  I was going to say that I have not received a reply, but that is not strictly correct:

There was an auto reply to the email, which read as follows;


Jackie Doyle-Price MP
Member of Parliament for Thurrock

Westminster Tel. 020 7219 7171
Constituency Tel. 01375 802029

Thank you for your email, which will be dealt with as soon as possible.

If you are a constituent living in Thurrock, please ensure that you have provided your full name and address. No emails will be answered unless a full address is provided. A telephone number would be appreciated but is not absolutely necessary.

Please note that there is a strict Parliamentary convention that MPs can only deal with matters raised by people from their own constituency.

I receive a large number of emails, letters and phone calls each day and I will try to reply as soon as possible. However, please note that all communications, including emails, are dealt with in the order they are received.

Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Jackie Doyle-Price

To be honest this is probably more than I actually hoped for and as it has only been one week I am probably being an impatient patient.  So I will curb my usual frustrations and see if a more formal reply actually turns up.

In the meantime and in regard to hospital appointments I can report the following;

My ire was irked at the fact that my Doctor referred me to some outfit called Fortis who would then make the hospital appointment for me at the audiology department to have my hearing tested.  

Fortis eventually sent me a letter only after I called them. But during the course of that call I discovered that they were making an appointment for me in a hospital that, if you do not have your own transport, is difficult to get to from where I live.  So during the course of the call they agreed to make me another appointment at a hospital that is only a hop skip and a jump from my front door!

They then sent me two letters, the one for the original booking and one for the new booking!  Banks charge anything from £12.00 to £25.00 to send you a letter so how much does Fortis charge the NHS for sending them?  I also note from the leaflet that I was given that Fortis appears to be owned by a group of local like minded GP's.  So that means that they are getting their £1000k plus fee from the NHS for providing  the basic GP service but now they are also charging the NHS to send out letters to patients for appointments.  Well on the face of it ok but then you discover that you still have to receive a letter from the NHS appointment centre and the specialists clinic, confirming the appointment, so the whole system is being duplicated.  Now I ask you,  "Is It Me"?  "Am I being a particular dumbfuck here or is it them"? 

The Labour government took us into bankruptcy both Economically and Morally leaving a note for the ConDems as they exited stage left informing them there was no money left.

The Condems took this note literally and started slashing all internal UK departments spending while maintaining the Department for Overseas Developments budget for Aid and Assistance elsewhere, including £295 million per year to India.  India is, if you aren't already aware, a Nuclear Power and has a Space Programme. For shits sake even America is now saying that it [sadly] can't afford to maintain it's own space programme, yet we give India £295 million pounds a year!

I'm losing the plot here..... NHS appointment systems, well update.  Last week Ishbel got a phone call at home from Orsett Hospital to say that the audiology department might be able to give me an earlier appointment if I phoned them, that was on Thursday, so three letters and a phone call.  Anyway I forgot to do this on Friday and now I wish I had forgotten yesterday, because I made that call............. and this is how it went.

10. 50 AM called the number got an automated system which I later discovered is named, "The Oracle" Now I am seriously looking over my shoulder to see if Mr Smith from the Matrix is about to take over my body and by the end of the 'call' I was wishing he had.

Do you remember that scene in The Matrix with Neo and The Oracle in the kiddies play area and she says to him, "The bad news is there is now know way that you can know whether I am here to help you or not"?  well, I have got news for you if you are in the UK and have to phone an NHS number that employs this system;


No, she is there to make your life miserable and frustrated, she is there to deflect you from the people who are still probably sitting there drinking coffee and saying to each other over their digestive biscuits,,

"I wonder how many sad frustrated dickhead patients we have managed to feck up today, when they thought they would get one of us and we gave them this system, anyone for another coffee or herbal tea"

Oracle says, " You have reached Basildon NHS trust (or words to that effect) please speak the name of the department you require or dial the extension number now". 

Now I am a sad bastard when I get a hospital appointment letter, I scan it in to my computer, wasting space I know, and stuff the original in my 'manbag' that I carry around with me - Ishbel doesn't like this but that's another story for later- 

So, I already have the letter on screen and I am busy looking for the extension number  THERE ISN'T ONE (check all the other letters I have later NONE OF THEM HAVE AN EXTENSION NUMBER - SO WHY ASK THE FECKING QUESTION!!!!!!!!!!!!

Me, I ask for,  "ENT"
Oracle, "I am putting you through to A and E unless you say cancel, you may also ask for the operator"
Me, "Cancel", then ask for "Ear Nose and Throat"
Oracle, "I am putting you through to elderly services department unless you say cancel, you may also ask for the operator " 
Me, trying to be clever as I become more and more senile and elderly by the fecking minute, "Cancel" then I ask for "Orsett Hospital Ear Nose and Throat Department"
Oracle, " I am putting you through to Orsett ward now unless you say cancel, you mat also ask for the operator"

The phone starts ringing and by this time it is 10.54 AM and the phone rings and rings and rings and rings and rings for two minutes and eventually is answered.

Female voice, "Hello, ENT emergency how can I help""
Me, "Uh, Oh, did you say ENT emergency"?
Female voice, " Yes, how can I help"?
Me, " Well I don't know if you can I phoned Basildon to get through to ENT Appointments, but your......"
Female voice, "Oh, you got the machine then...."
Me, "Yes, I have an appointment for ........
Female voice, "We don't do appointments, do you have wax in your ear"

I though she was being rude now, but I will give her the benefit of the doubt after all I am maybe going deaf (and clearly Fecking insane)

Me, "No, it was about an appointment and I asked for ENT appointments but it clearly is not impressed with my Scottish accent"
Female voice, "Well sorry, can't help you you will need to ring them"
Me, pleading in a whinny voice, "Oh can't you help me, can't you transfer me to the appointments department, please"
Female Voice then asks me who my appointment is with, I tell her and she informs me that she can put me through to Debbie the Consultants secretary, which she promptly does....

Long story short I  got through to Debbie and explained my tale of woe to her and asked if she could check and give me the earlier appointment that the phone call on Thursday offered!

She explained that she could not do that but she could transfer me to the "NEW APPOINTMENTS" centre.  I enquired if that was a "New" NHS appointment centre or a Fortis Appointment Centre and she said, "NHS"

So, anyway she tried to transfer me but the phone kept ringing, bless her she stayed on the line and then gave me THE EXTENSION NUMBER saying that it would probably be better if I phoned in the afternoon as they were normally quieter then! (That's probably because all we FECKING ELDERLY FOLKS are having our afternoon naps.

I thnaked Debbie for her help and hung up and do you know what I have not called the number, it was by then 11.14 AM. 


And that is what that 24 minutes felt like.  

Burt one thing I will mention and point out here, did you see that part of the conversation with Debbie from the NHS, here it is again;

She explained that she could not do that but she could transfer me to the "NEW APPOINTMENTS" centre.  I enquired if that was a "New" NHS appointment centre or a Fortis Appointment Centre and she said, "NHS"
So my original question to my MP stands, "Why are the NHS in this part of Essex paying a third party through the GP system, owned and operated by the GP's to organise NHS appointments while we still have a "NEW" appointments centre in the local NHS"?

We could get rid of one of them and give the money saved to bloody INDIA!!!!!!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Mr Fat: Your children are too fat -so you will never see them again

A story appeared in two papers over the weekend reporting that a married couple in their 50's from Dundee in Scotland have been informed by the local authority that they are likely to lose four of their seven overweight/obese children into 'No Contact' foster care or adoption.

Now anyone reading my blogs will know that I write on any number of things and one of the things that is close to my heart is being FAT.

In 2009 I tipped the scales at 23 1/2 stones [329 lbs]. Being a good Scot I did and do like my mince and tatties and was extremely partial while living in Scotland to a black pudding in batter, now partial to the odd sausage in batter these days. But, my diet was also fairly healthy in that a lot of salad was and is eaten and I never have fat filled fry ups, everything is usually grilled.  I also eat a lot of fish and seafood as well. To check out some of what I eat today you can visit my Twitpic page.

As a kid, growing up in Scotland in the 60's there were no Jamie Oliver's about to tell us what we were eating was unhealthy and there was not the proliferation of 'fast food' establishments that we have today.  A relatively poor household, there was always plenty of bread, proper butter, mince and tatties, stovies, full fat bacon, mutton pies, etc, etc.

The latter was best enjoyed hot with a full buttered roll.  You would break or nibble the raised crust of the pie, get yourself a nice thickly buttered soft morning roll, place the pie inside, squash a little (so that you could at least get it into your gob without suffering lockjaw) and bite into it.  The sheer unadulterated pleasure of this is hard to describe if you haven't tried it as you get this culinary rarity into your gob and your teeth and lips close over it. The melted butter and the fat from the mutton are beginning to dribble down your chin and you can feel it warmly coursing down just like the first offerings of water down a dried up river bed at the beginning of the rainy season.  And, like the creatures of the plains who so rely on that first beginnings of rain and who eagerly lap at it, you, while lazily chewing in rapturous abandonment of that first life giving mouthful of pie and roll, you are also busy catching the drips on your chin with your fingers, licking the greasy mixture of mutton fat and molten butter off of them to add to the ecstasy of the pie, ah, sheer heavenly memories!

So, was I a fat kid, with all that unhealthy eating, not particularly.  I know it is trite these days to say it, but back in the sixties we weren't sat in front of an gaming console, nor did we have computers, and we did not have 24 hour TV with Music videos and cartoons or Movie's that the kids can sit in front of and become desensitized to the real world. We had to go out and play and run about, additionally, back in those days the school curriculum whether it was primary (junior) or secondary (high) school they had PE /gym sessions a couple of times a week.  And lets face it if you had school dinners (which I had but only when free) they were far from the healthy options that every one harps on about today.

So while an unhealthy diet is clearly as bad for you as say smoking, it is not as bad for you if you are also burning off the calories that you take in each day, and therein lies the problem with modern society.

I know it is not the only answer but surely it plays a big part in it.  Everyone agrees that one of the most healthiest, dietary speaking, periods here in the UK was during and after WWII, crazy, I know.  But if you speak to the experts they will all say the same thing.  Here in the UK when rationing was the norm during and after the war people were eating little meat and lots of vegetables.  Butter, sugar and everything else was heavily rationed.  Car ownership for the working class was still a wet dream for most of the car manufacturers and so everyone had to walk or cycle to work as most of the factories were within walking distance of the 'social housing estates' of the day.  So every one ate healthily and exercised, win win all round.

Then came the end of rationing and the introduction of supermarkets with shelves laden with all manner of unhealthy foods.  There was little by way of Food Standards and manufacturers were putting all sorts of unhealthy things and not just too much salt, into packaged food.  Of course standards have changed today but most of what we buy still has too much salt or sodium or this and that and flavour enhancers or colourings or whatever.  I mean for gods sake if it needs a flavour enhancer, WTF are we buying it in the first place?  And if it was so pallid in looks to the eye without the colouring, would our senses not baulk at it in its original state that we wouldn't want to eat it any way?

Thursday, 1 September 2011

British Gas Business - don't you just hate utility Companies

Below is a copy of a letter I sent by email to both British Gas Business and their Debt Recovery Company: I think it is self explanatory.  Question does any one else out there have these kind of problems with utility companies, do please let me know by way of comments at the end of the post,  Thanks - Tom 

Dear Sirs,

I am going to type as clearly and as carefully as I can in the hope that I am able to make my self as clear as humanly possible to both of you in the following written discourse in the faint hope that I will receive only one more communication from each of you informing me that the matter is closed.

I realise that it must be terribly difficult whether you are an employee working for a Utility Company or a Contractor/ Debt Collector working on their behalf, as they, the Utility companies, and BGB/ Centrica in particular, seem incapable of actual and simple elucidation to either the customer, or I suspect, you who work for them.

Having said that I must congratulate BGB for spelling my name correctly in the last communication, well done to you. But, Experto Credite must do detention for being unable to spell SECURITIES in their letter of 26/08/11.

BGB: You, Mr xxxxxx contacted me by way of a telephone call on Friday 26th August.  This was in response to my 'Dunderheads' email sent to  xxxxxxxx also of BGB on 25th August.

During the course of that conversation we established that the letter from BGB dated 19th August, and which prompted my email to Ms xxxxxxx, that had been addressed to me and xxxxxxx, was in fact nothing to do with a property that was previously occupied by xxxxxxxx and therefore the letter was in fact a red herring and wrong in that respect!

We established, that is you and I, that the reference number on the letter from BGB was in actual fact referring to a property that has a meter with the serial number  LxxE xxxxxx!

We also established that the letter of 19th August 2011, was to inform and give me a COMPLAINT REFERENCE NUMBER to a letter that I wrote to your organisation in SEPTEMBER 2010.

In my letter of SEPTEMBER 2010 I pointed out to BGB that I had received a bill for some £1400.00 for energy supplied to the property with the meter LxxE xxxxx.  I pointed out in my letter of SEPTEMBER 2010 that this was not an xxx account as I, I as in me Tom Stronach, Centre Manager since 1999, transferred that meter and supply to another tenant in 2001.

We further established in our call, according to you, that BGB had received a call from a Mr xxxxxx    xxxxxxx of xxx in January 2008 transferring a number of properties to BGB for billing purposes including the one in xxxxxx, under my purview, containing meter No LxxE xxxxx.

I pointed out to you, during our conversation, that this could not have been the case as neither Messrs xxxxx in the company would have transferred any meter on any property that they did not have a direct input into, and that neither gentleman had any involvement with xxx xxxxxx.  We then established that you say BGB received the transfer request in January 2008 but no invoice bill was raised until 2010, somehow I don't even find that strange.  BGB taking an an account and then not billing on it for two and a half years, why would any customer find that strange?

Since your call, and in the interests of fairness I have contacted both of the x xxxxxx in the company asking for confirmation that they transferred any meters to you at the time you allege that it took place, January 2008. Both have acknowledge that they did not at any time request British Gas Business to take on board any meter linked to any property at xxx xxxxxx.  And as I pointed out in my letter of 2010, WE DID NOT AND DO NOT CONTROL THIS METER, IT IS WITH A TENANT and has been since 2001!

So, in conclusion I hope that all of the above clears up this little matter once and for all and that you Mr xxxxx will write two letters.  The first to me with BGB's apology again for making a complete and utter cock up, whereby you have again seemingly hi-jacked another meter, issued a bill (two years after doing so) and expect the customer to roll over and pay without quibble, and the second to the attack dogs at Experto Credite putting them back into their kennel with a muzzle.

If I get one more demand from either party on this matter I will refer it to the Ombudsman to investigate on our behalf, AGAIN.

Yours sincerely

Tom Stronach

Utility Companies - they make you want to kill!