Friday, December 31, 2010

The past week has been an odd one, betwixt and between Christmas and the New Year. I have been busy at work but it seems most people have been on holiday. Telephoning a variety of agencies and professionals only to discover they aren't expected back until January although I need information or an answer immediately. Travelling the empty fog laden roads is certainly a bonus especially since I can drive leisurely, although the view ends where the fog grows more thickly.
It has also been odd for another reason. I found out a work colleague died suddenly and unecpectedly last week at the age of fifty-two years. It certainly came as a shock and made a few of us stop and consider life. We placed that sudden death within the context of the crazy merry-go-round of work and everyday life. Morale at work is low and the general consensus was that much of the nonsense we deal with is inconsequential. Targets, plans, charts, ticky boxes, etc... is nonsense when we think of someone whose family and friends have to come to terms with their loss. Sadly, a blunt reminder that life is precious and should not be taken for granted.

We will have a quiet night in tonight, a few beers and some music or a good radio show. I gave up on the celebrations a few years back because I believe there is nothing really special about the change between years. There are other opportunities throughout the year to celebrate and I believe you make your own life rather than the 'magickal' qualities of a year change. Selfishly, I really cannot be bothered to drive 160 miles to spend the new year with family but after driving 400 miles over the past three days at work I am sick and tired of driving. We also plan to have Christmas dinner tomorrow to make up for me working over Christmas including the Christmas pud saved for the occasion! So I can only say...

I wish all my readers a healthy, prosperous and happy 2011.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Last show unless the BBC suits see sense and rescind their ridiculous decision to axe the show. Thoroughly enjoying the show but feeling sad that this may be the end of it. Two hours a week is not a lot. Bastards!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

To all my readers a late very

A legitimate excuse because I worked the last few days and was on call, hence unavailable for blogging. However, apart from refusing the various requests for plumbers, taxi rides and a Christmas messaging service we had a good time at work. I can now relax, ignore the frantic advertising for 60% off NOW!! sales and enjoy a mince pie. Christmas eve got off to a poor start with the car battery deader than the proverbial extinct flightless bird. The good Samaritans at the local garage provided a jump start for free so Christmas salutations and thanks go to them. I was late by ten minutes and the frantic referrals started and did not stop for the next ten hours. But the baton has been passed to my colleagues now and I intend to relax for the next couple of days. I can also crack open the bottle of port this evening, watch 'A Christmas Carol' and put my feet up beside the fire surrounded by content animals replete with turkey and gammon. I dropped my step daughter LE off home late yesterday evening and we enjoyed the free show of the foxes gambolling in the snowy park. All was quiet and peaceful. So let me wish you all a peaceful and happy Christmas irrespective of your beliefs.There's enough bad news so hopefully it's a quiet time for you all.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Some locally made pork pie and Cox's Orange Pippin apples for tea with freshly baked rolls... heavenly. With the Christmas feasting not too far away we have opted for some healthier meals in the days leading up to it all. Having said that I will be working and undoubtedly eating far too many mince pies in the office. To counteract this I have bought in a large bag of apples. None of that papier mache Golden Delicious but proper Cox's apples for the crunch and flavour. I like to try various varieties out and Egremont Russets are also a favourite. We bought the pork pie from the market and after further debate we bought two more because we knew one of them would be demolished this evening. Some spring onions and a large mug of Assam tea completed the meal. Simple and tasty, what more could one ask. The dog isn't impressed because no scraps for her. However, late evening walks all week to feed the local swans and for her to chase various sticks plus only the occasional food scrap keeps her in fine fettle. She's not fond of apples unless it is to chase the starnge non bouncy balls...
The BBC is axing many local 'specialist music' programmes including one of my favourite shows Folkwaves.
This is because the senior managers believe it no longer reflects peoples listening habits and their preference is for 'talk shows'. Translated as cheap phone-in programmes. There is a campaign running to save the programme despite the BBC stating local people in the East Midlands are no longer represented by the programme. This is despite the increasing popularity of folk music and live music in general. Also despite the programmes support of young musicians and live music venues and festivals. With a smoking ban, heavy licencing fees for live music, increased taxes upon beer and costs in running a pub plus the loss of a major means of advertising live music, more small clubs and pubs will be hit. Time to revive the old shebeens where the community may meet, drink, smoke, converse and enjoy themselves. I've added my voice to the protest and not just because it is my favourite programme. It is the attitude that "We know best what is good for you" permeates the BBC and other public services. I know the irony of my working in the NHS but it really pisses me off. The BBC is happy to pay Steve Wright or Chris Evans huge amounts of money for presenting shite yet it will happily axe excellent programmes (Jazz, Folk, Reggae, etc...) whilst burbling platitudes about cultural diversity and listening to customers. Time to swing that axe towards some of the bland boring crap and that includes sports. I wonder how many BBC presenters will be at the Olympics in 2012? Instead we will have only the one hour per week of folk with Mike Harding on Radio 2 playing mainly Celtic music as he forgets his English roots and I say that as an Irishman! Why do the white liberal 'elite' hate their culture so much?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Days off, still cold and inertia has struck after tackling the local shopping mall. So the answer is takeaway pizza and a few beers tonight to take the edge off. No.1 son has ten days off work and Mrs C's new job still hasn't materialised. But, hey ho, it is coming up to Christmas when everything grinds to a halt.
Most of the pizza and kebab joints around here are run by Turks or Kurds. We know they are Muslim so it is a fairly strong bet the meat is halal. I accept this and the animal wouldn't have stated a preference for method of killing.
Humane bolt through skull or throat slit as magical Arabic words muttered by bearded chap or the same magical words via a pre-recorded message.
The animal's preference is to tick the box "None of the above and freedom please". All grist to the mill or rather chicken in my pizza. When I was a nipper in ol' London town the takeaways were run by Italians and Greeks.I wonder who'll run them twenty years from now?
I digress because I am aware the takeaways are likely to be halal and I makes my choice based upon that knowledge. It's generally the same with the local curry houses which are mainly Bengladeshi and again Muslim. Local schools, etc...providing halal meals without informing consumers is a different matter entirely. Again, I regard it as meat and I couldn't give a monkeys testicles about the religious side to it but people should be informed and given the choice. That's what it boils down to. Informed choice and whether one agrees to this choice or not. I am sure there would be an outcry if Muslim parents discovered that the tasty rural French chicken dish their children happily munched on for lunch turned out to be Coq au Vin. Again, informed choice and a desire to avoid offence. So why on earth do faceless bureaucrats continue to make these stupid decisions? They bend over backwards to avoid offending a minority and make a complete pigs ear out of it all and offend many of the majority. I can think of lots of reasons as to why they make these choices (financial; easier to please and avoid offence to the vociferous minority; the passive majority are irreligious plebs; we know best; etc...). I think I will stick with my own interpretation which is that they are righteous twats. It is simpler that way and saves me wasting precious time arguing with a po faced git. My dog doesn't care whether it's secular, halal or kosher meat either just so long as she gets the occasional scrap from our plates. Now there is just the matter of getting some beers in...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The last few days have seen my colleagues and I working like eedjits on speed. It must be a combination of the economic mess, snow and Christmas contributing to the avalanche of referrals over the past week. Or to put it another way people are experiencing shit, shit and more shit. We had been expecting a deluge of crisis referrals for people with financial, housing, employment and relationship problems after the new year. The traditional season for bills and recriminations following the Christmas bunfight. This year it has started early and we have been inundated. Most of them get redirected to appropriate agencies but that still entails a ton of paperwork and endless phone calls to a variety of people explaining why we will not be providing a service to that person. That's just for the people we don't provide a service for let alone the rainforest for those we do. Pointing out that a mental health problem is the starting point for a referral to our team elicits some astonishing reactions. That we are not housing/ employment / benefits / police / paramedics / medical doctors comes as a surprise to them. Nor do we provide a telephone support service for people in Dorset or Glasgow.
But we have done some sterling work for those we do work with and help them to get through the worst of it. There are some complaints from one or two individuals who don't like hearing some plain talking or advice to accept responsibilty for their behaviour. "The reason you are not making progress is the 6 litres of strong cider you drink every day" doesn't go down well with some people. Telling us "I can't be an alcoholic, I am middle-class" also does not wash when you are necking three bottles of quality French wine per day. It is all grist to the mill and most of us do what we can. It is also difficult because we do have a new senior manager who is a bureaucrat to the nth degree ("I love the smell of paper in the morning!") and new staff who give every appearance of being shy of hard work. C'est la vie. It is time to gird my loins for the supermercado.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Yep! I have the dreaded leurgy and I am pissed off. It isn't often that a weekend off, money in my pocket (cheers Dennis Brown) and an organised night out with mates comes together. They'll be in the convivial atmosphere of the local Wetherspoons and I won't be there. However, I am fighting back with the aid of man flu remedies such as curry, beer and whisky. I might not be winning but I'm smiling as I fall over!

Mrs C and I skated to the local super mercado this morning. There might be a thaw on but the pavements are lethal. On our return we were out there with shovels clearing our bit of the footpath to keep the local citizens safe from broken limbs. I had already experienced the excitement of icy freefall on a number of occasions over the past week and the thought of some of our elderly folk doing the same was not a pleasant one. Lo and behold, several neighbours came out later to clear their frontages, titter ye not. Esprit de Dunquerque et tout cela! Good to see folks doing their bit. With this thaw on and all that available water it has got the media excited about tea making as kettles and kettling is all in the news. That's what the students need, a nice cup of tea and a sit down. Protests would be more civilised and they could offer tea to the boys in blue. None for the vultures in the media though.

"What do we want?!"
"Two sugars please"
"When do we want it?!"
"Whenever is convenient for you, thank you".

I'm orf for more liquid cold remedy and a garibaldi.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Wahey! Catch me some rays...

Today it is positively balmy with the temperature at 1 degree celsius. I am happy to see it having spent nearly six hours driving yesterday in fog and on ice. I also slipped on some ice walking from the local shops and having my fall broken by a small wall... ouch! So I have spent today safely indoors and ordering presents via the internet and relaxing. Yesterday's trek was compounded by a difficult meeting with a variety of various professionals who were upset by decisions made by myself and a colleague. Without going into the case itself we have upset some egos and challenged the status quo. A variety of people came along for the, as one person expressed it, bunfight. What made it a more 'interesting' meeting is our awareness of senior managers copied in to the various communications and taking a keen interest in the whole proceedings. This has been going on for the past week and it is likely to last a further few weeks. Bloody Chinese proverbs...

Given one of my work roles I have taken a keen interest in this. I have signed the petition although I do wonder whether we have been given all the facts of the story. Notwithstanding that, I have signed the petition because the more publicity the case receives, the more likely it is that questions will be asked and the case sorted out. Especially since it is usually in the best interests of people to go home. I am aware of state bureaucracy's ability to screw things up beyond all imagining and forget about the people at the centre of their cock ups. But I would love to know the reasons given for the deprivation of liberty and hopefully we may hear more. I do worry that commonsense and humanity seem to be seriously lacking amongst some of those who work in the caring professions.

Monday, December 06, 2010

I've just had a weekend familiar to many across our white and icy land. Digging my car out twice, digging out the work pool car and gingerly driving everywhere we went. The main roads during the day were ok but the side roads were truly awful. The evenings saw motor dancing on ice so we couldn't do any visits after 5 pm. The rural areas have seen -10 and down to -13 celsius in many areas. The morning radio show reported -17 in one area. I asked our previous team lead a few years ago to invest in one decent 4x4 or to equip the team with Fiat Panda 4x4's so that we could get out and about. Sadly I was ignored and the pool cars we have are useless in this weather. C'est la vie, common sense doesn't travel to management levels.
Most drivers on the roads have been good but there are still complete and utter twats out there. The lorry driver who tailgated and flashed me the other night just didn't get it. All he achieved was my slowing right down and frustrating him further. Fog, snow and ice obviously equate to excellent driving conditions for him. As for the twat in the large 4x4 who decided to park right in the middle of a busy road and refused to move until the large truck driver pointed out the error of his ways. Great street theatre! Today I have a long journey into the midlands for an urgent assessment which the weather had delayed. Hello motorways, more ice and fog plus the assortment of road traffic delays. I am certainly not looking forward to the journey but I guess I'll just have to grit my teeth and go for it, after allowing time for the roads to hopefully thaw out.

Friday, December 03, 2010

You could not make it up....

"Police please... someone's stolen my snowman!" Link

With temperatures overnight varying between -20 & -10 celsius the big freeze continues. The current temperature is -7 although I have spent the past hour digging my car out and getting it ready for work tomorrow. The main roads are passable although the side roads are still bad which could make work interesting, especially in the Wolds. Shovel, blanket, wind-up radio & torch plus a hot flask of tea will be put in the boot first thing tomorrow. I'm looking forward to work if only to see what comes up over the next few days. Perhaps a woman in crisis having had her snowman pinched. I also popped into the local pub last night, the first time in eight months. The Everards Tiger was ok although lacking a bit in flavour. But we had a good laugh and it was lovely to catch up with a few people I haven't seen for ages. Someone made a suggestion about having a DJ in one night and people bring their old vinyl singles in to play. An interesting proposition and we'll see where that goes. I'll dust off my old Elvis and Boney M singles! But it was good to pop in again and I will try to pop in more often. Time for more hot chocolate (So you win again) and ginger biscuits.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Two feet plus of snow and it looks beautiful. Dog walking at 7 a.m. and lots of people walking into work as the roads are treacherous. The mutt loves the snow and returns to being a puppy, diving in and out of the drifts. Half an igloo built by local youths and kids out on their sleds. Mrs C. watched a Huskey in absolute heaven late last night as it raced up and down the road. I was due to attend a meeting in the south of the county this morning but with several roads blocked and traffic warnings out I will be working from home today. Both my colleagues are stuck as well and we all agreed that teleconferencing would be more useful for 'meeting up'. Something for the agenda at the next meeting and I'll use the 'global warming' excuse to propose it. If they are going to shove propaganda at us I may as well use their nonsense for my own ends! Otherwise we will stay in and keep warm. Mrs C. checked on our elderly neighbours and they are ok. Batten down the hatches and enjoy the seasonal weather.