Archive | May, 2012

Let me explain!

31 May
Back soon!

Back Soon!

Look, it’s nothing to boast about. Bedford’s been given £50,000 on account of the fact that the town centre is shite. This isn’t a positive. Its like being given medication for chlamydia.

Despite this there’s a load of people on the front page of the Thursday free paper drinking champagne and looking happy, just a few hundred yards from County Town books that announced just last week that its shutting up shop!

Then it seems everyone is going bonkers on account of some old lady so there’s BNP bunting all over the place. Crimewatch was on earlier, murders, a woman being set alight, grim…and then someone looks at the camera and say’s “don’t have nightmares” PIss Off!

We are going to the seaside to get away from all this! Gills in charge in our absence. Don’t expect much. She’s got chickens and a bad back!


Our Eight Point Plan!

30 May

The Board of Bedford Bypass met in secret last night wearing our aprons, rolled up trouser legs (or skirt) complete with our goat and have agreed our five…make that eight point plan to revive the town centre or at least make it slightly better!

1) Advertise Bedford College’s car park as a cheap alternative to experiencing the eternal queue to get into town on Saturday. I use it and it’s brilliant!

2) Borough Council make their Borough Hall car park free on Saturdays for all people working in the town, logic being that this saves them clogging up the car parks. 50 pence for everyone else. Keeps them out of the town centre!

3) Survey of the traffic light phasing particularly around St Pauls as it can literally take 15minutes or longer to get round. This makes any benefit from the Park and Ride redundant as it’s far quicker to get off at Borough Hall and walk in so you might as well just park up outside Mayor Daves office.

4) Spread the market across to the Magistrates Court side (the open area). Give the Market and the cafe space to breathe. Shopping for your fruit is something like Total Wipe Out in that by the time you’ve got your apples you’re exhausted, then there’s all the exhaust fumes.

5) Cut this rubbish about Bedford bucking the trend and being on the up. It’s not. It’s in intensive care. Its best shops are going or gone (Classic Music, County Town Books etc) and being replaced by nail bars and similar dross. Be honest.

6) Stop this eternal war between the Councils Camera Vans and the business’s of Bedford. Some small business being fined for parking their van outside their shop doesn’t do anyone any good.

7) If there’s any money spare from the Mary Portas £50,000 I suggest that given the increasing murder / shooting / stabbing and assault rate round here they rent body armour out to visitors!

8) Perform an exorcism on that Councillor Reverend bloke as he’s quite clearly possessed with the view that everyone needs to be fined.

No guarantees! and thanks to Christina Rowe at the Bedford Bid for being so nice when Steve suggested them to her. Big respect to the Borough Traffic Enforcement person for being so honest about how shit it is having to wander round town upsetting people just to pay the mortgage and feed the kids!

Sleepy sleepy snoozy dozy snorey time!

29 May

Here at Bedford Bypass we are always happy to show just how limited our talents are by going on and on about the same old thing. There’s a slogan that gets applied to our hard working MPs and Councillors, it goes “they work for you!”. It would be more accurate if it went “they get paid by you!” So let’s see what’s been going on!

First up is the Parking Advisory Group, now this meeting, the ways of means of getting intention agreed and into the public domain hasn’t met since 27th September 2010 so I can’t really tell you anything about what they’ve agreed. Other than buying another camera van. And being late when it comes to tackling abuse of the disabled parking bays. We had to wait for the local paper to tell us this which we reckon makes having a Parking Advisory Group a crap idea.
If you want to really get a grip on the decisions that affect us Bedford types then the best meeting to tune into is the Executive. This is the powerhouse, the driving force of local government. It last met in March with a fifty minutes spectacular. If you fancy going to the next one take the Phone Book with you and have a good read!
We can tell you that the General Licensing Sub Committee with four councillors met on 4th May and lasted twenty five minutes. It was a Friday, early finish day! Don’t get confused but the General Licensing Committee (not the “sub” committee) met the same day and they managed top eek the main meeting out to a staggering four minutes. Even better. They talk about pubs and suchlike so enough time for a site visit!

In what must have seemed like an eternity some set up called the Trustees of the House of Industry Estate Management Committee lasted went on for a staggering thirty five minutes as did another oddball thing called SACRE. Now SACRE seems to be a quasi religious affair which aims to ensure that religious education features in the curriculum and that young kids learn about miracles. There’s been a bit of a huff as the local humanists have been showing an interest in what this group does and the good thing to report is that atheists were present for this meeting having been accorded “visitor” status. Nine councillors spent twenty eight minutes at the Grants Committee on 14th March and slightly before that the Pensions Committee met on 5th March. Now it’s nearly the end of May and there’s no minutes so we don’t know who was there or what was said.

Now a few months back we literally laughed ourselves into a frenzy followed by a catatonic state when we came across one meeting that lasted a whole minute. That’s going to take some beating but we’ve come close with the General Purposes Committee who clocked up a purgatorial session of two minutes. Let’s say that again…two minutes!
Two minutes and presumably that includes the preamble. Now you’d think they’d speak slowly or talk rubbish (don’t say it) just to pad things out unless its some sort of game to see if they can get below a minute, just for Bedford Bypass! I’m waiting in anticipation for the latest publication of what exactly these good folk are receiving in expenses. They get paid by us!

A roundabout sort of way!

28 May

Its always nice when the summer bedding comes out especially on the roundabouts, geraniums, lobelia, maybe nasturtiams, it all adds to the vibrancy of the town. Here’s a view of the main approach road into Bedford. A signal of the wonderous things to come as you queue to get a parking space!

Bedford’s a winning town!

28 May

Bedford is celebrating, we’ve won, we are on the telly and in the national papers! We have been deemed a dying town and so the Government and Mary Portas no less have stepped in to help with a cool £50,000 and perhaps, just perhaps, a personal visit form Mary herself.

Mary is one of those TV guru’s that’s an expert in her field and she turns up in the late evening spot turning failing shops and business’s round at least whilst the camera team is there. There’s several of these type knocking about including a lady called Alex who goes around advising grim hotels how to be good hotels. A month or so back she (Mary not Alex) was up in north Manchester getting unemployed people making knickers. It was actually quite interesting as she got stuck in giving a number of long term unemployed teenagers training and raising the profile of a small struggling British manufacturer. As to whether it survives we may never know.
Back to our success, we are one of twelve towns across the UK the be officially deemed “terminal” and in need of support. When we do hit the headlines it’s usually because someone has been shot or stabbed so it’s a step in the right direction.
Apparently those responsible for the bid are going to use some of the money to take over an empty town centre shop on the High St (plenty of choice) and turn it into a showcase of all that the town can offer. This will soon whittle the £50,000 down. That aside, and pretending the Tourist Information Centre isn’t there the fact that the High St isn’t the busy part of town seems to have gone unnoticed.
The oddity in the whole thing is that for a year now some mysterious group called the “town centre chiefs” keep turning up in the local papers saying we are bucking the trend, we are on the up and everything’s great. There’s no place like home Toto! What usually follows when the chiefs have spoken is that a long standing business in Bedford folds the week after like the last independent bookshop last week. This “award” would seem to prove what Bedford Bypass has been saying since we started. Bedford town has nothing to offer except queuing traffic for most of Saturday and even the Olympic flame can’t be bothered with the High St. Basically our entry in those wonderfully funny “Crap Towns” books is well and truly justified.

I usually cycle into town but from time to time the Bypass Mobile roars into life and It took me half an hour to get in and park this Saturday. All I wanted to do was show support for the Credit Union and get the fruit and veg from the market so don’t let our continual downers on Bedford lead you to think that we don’t shop there. One area that the “chiefs” might want to look at is the actual phasing of the traffic lights. I listened to most of “Our Correspondent” on Radio 4 whilst trying to get round St Pauls Square and I really have better things to do with my time than watch the people at Libby’s Café trying to enjoy their cappuccino’s whilst surrounded by running engines.

Here it is! one of Bedford’s finest coffee / butty shops!

Closing soon!

25 May

In the same week that those unknown “town centre chiefs” are once again chalking up how well Bedford is doing and bucking the trend as far as business is concerned, the curse strikes again!Every week at least one town centre business simply vanishes leaving an empty shop behind!

County Town books down opposite the market square has been going since 1988 and since Pembertons vanished from Mill St fifteen or more years back its been the only independent book shop in town.

Its been in intensive care for some years more so since one of its main sources if custom (university students) dried up when De Montfort upped and went flogging a prime bit of real estate under controversial circumstances. In this respect when I heard that County Town was going I didn’t gasp with shock, I just raised my glass and said cheers as I seemed to be live in there when I was mature student!

Now I know that the way we read has been revolutionised with eBooks and so on but I maintain that the hard copy book will always rule supreme. But when we have the all conquering giant Waterstones in a prime spot to soak up all the trade and an army of people content with the latest Jordan book, Dan Brown and John Grisham, little places like County Town Books selling classics old and new will never be able to compete when the purchasing population don’t really give a hoot!

So its all our fault. And with it goes a small part of Bedford’s ability to be remotely interesting!
Now whenever a new shop opens the Mayors all over it like a rash so lets see if he’ll officiate and help the two owners (shown below) lock the door for the last time in a week or two when they shut up shop!

Why go to the circus!

23 May

For all the world you would think that something as simple as employing someone for a low ranking post would be straightforward!

News from a dusty council office in Dunstable comes our way. Apparently Central Bedfordshire Council are trying to recruit someone to help put schoolkids on the daily bus so they took an ad out in the local Herald and Post. They forgot to tell people how to apply instead putting a phone number and email address down of someone for an informal natter. Now its all been a bit rushed as the closing day is tomorrow and it seems like anyone wanting the opportunity of work has, in the absence of the correct route been sending CVs in which isn’t allowed as you have to have the right form!

Quite interesting in a nerdy sort of way in that Councils have all manner of rules to make recruitment fair and equal and all this does is screw things up right from the start.
I wonder if they’ll have to start the whole process off again!

On a similar theme, a year or so back I got word that Council officers were literally allowed to place external adverts wherever they wanted, so if you choose wisely and put a lower scale job on say £23,000 in a national journal or on a specialist technical website you aren’t going to get too many applicants interested in relocating and you smoothly eliminate much of the local population. This makes it much easier to spoon your mates in!

Now I was on the recieving end of complaints from no leas than three people in this instance all of which pointed to manipulative use of the councils recruitment policy to, er…fairly and squarly make sure that jobs went to favoured applicants to the point where one of the chosen few was wandering around telling people that the cat was in the bag. I let it out!

Jobs for the boys and girls in this case!

Uncivilised bunch! (except one maybe)

22 May

I find myself increasingly explaining my position as an espouser of the anarchist perspective and put as simply as I can make it, I believe that the control of, or more accurately the workings of society, the rules by which we operate should rest with the people whose lives are being affected by it.
No leaders. No Gods. No Masters. Yes we will have organisers but they will be responsible to the majority at every point in time. We will be responsible for ensuring that what is decided comes with an on-going mandate.

There’s an example of where the current state of affairs takes us floating about! Gay Marriage is a hot topic. Now the religious right hates the concept of two people from the same sex having the same rights to “union” as a straight biblical pairing. They kicked off enough when civil partnerships were introduced so the moral crusaders are beetroot red and apoplectic over another evolutionary jump which seeks to ensure that the discriminatory gap is bridged a little further.
We have several MPs around here and they are all marking out their territory on the above subject. Firstly we have Alistair Burt who’s my MP. I’ve only met him once and since then he’s been promoted into the Ministry for Going Abroad and being killed in Afghanistan. I tend to hear him on Radio 4 being sorry for things abroad more than I hear him talking about how crap things are in Biggleswade. On the subject of gay marriage, Alistair has said he will vote no. Plain and simple. No! There’s not much point me writing to him. In fact I did on another matter a few months back and all I got was a polite “thank you now go away” type of reply. I’ve looked at his website and whilst he provides a link to the main consultation there’s no invite made to constituents to let him know their thoughts. Mr Burt (I nearly knocked him off his bike a few years back in Wootton when he shot across the road) has also said that he would vote to protect the churches right to decide what constitutes the sacrament of marriage” but he then confuses me by saying that he would vote for the state to determine that lifelong commitment and stability in marriage should be made available to all regardless of sexual orientation! Maybe a bit of fence sitting?

Credit goes to Richard Fuller MP for Bedford. Richard has stated in the press that he wants to hear the views of his constituents and has encouraged them to write to him. We have a hint here that he will listen to the views of those that pay his salary. I can’t fault this although there’s nothing on his website to continue things in a similar vein, that said I personally don’t like this notion that you can only play a part in things if you have a pc.
Nadine Dorries still basking after a mediocre performance on “Have I got News For You” comes out with pure garble and incoherent rambling as ever stating that gay couples are no different from heterosexual couples yet she seems to disagree with the notion of equality so she’s either got confused or is trying to dodge the main issue! She has a bang up to date blog with the last entry being in February but dig about and here’s her most recent and polished view:

“The policy is divisive, unpopular with the public, is tearing the Conservative Party apart and will influence absolutely no one in terms of the way they vote in the future.”

So unless I’ve misread it, the whole thing boils down to how it affects the conservatives and will it win votes. This probably doesn’t matter to Nadine as her seat is set to vanish in three years, as may the good lady herself!
So with the exception of Richard Fuller (who I gather has similar views about Mayor Dave Hodgson as I do) there’s not much evidence of any intention to ask our opinion.
Now the days of witch burning are long gone but the same urges still remain and the anti-equality lobby are both well versed and well funded and if you like historic fantasy novels there’s a good one called The Bible, not as good as the Discworld series but it shows where most of our modern day claptrap stems from, some people cling to it. It’s the church and its ability to hold dominance over our lives that irks me. We vote for these people to represent us, they don’t unless it suits there ends and we effectively transfer our right to self determination for the next five years. Then like it or not “the church” has far more sway over matters than we appreciate. Then someone else, maybe several turn up at election time, say they’ll do a better job and the whole bus just trundles on.

But don’t get me started!

Here’s to another 50!

21 May

Keep this quiet but our regular typist and contributor Mr S hit the big 50 last week and a several days of joyous revelry came to a finale on Saturday when a throng of bright start diva’s packed a Bedfordshire Village Hall for one heck of a bash! Featuring a stomping set from local goth folksters Faeries Wear Boots complete with an ace drummer, didgeridoo’s and Irish pipes, tables moved and…well that’s why things have been a bit quiet in Bypass land as sore heads recuperate and all manner of borrowed items are dispatched back home!
Mr S ends up sitting at a table with people connected by departure and compassion, basically a good friend died young at the local St John’s Sue Ryder Hospice eight years ago and tonight her partner sat down with two of the nurses that cared for her in her last days. Anecdotes, a young woman days from death vanishes from her bed and is found sunning herself in the garden, getting the golden rays!, why let a terminal illness get in the way of looking and feeling good!
During the course of the conversation, it’s pointed out that Mr S has once again been berating the Borough Council in the local press, this time letting fly over some insipid, wishy washy and very ineffective Liberal Democrat trying to defend big pay rises for the big bosses while parting company with no end of staff from down below! Where does he get his enthusiasm for digging away and sounding off?
There’s rumours emanating from the Town Hall that questions have been asked about just how effective the Borough Council’s “in house” company Commercial Services Department actually was and from what I understand it only made a profit by overcharging itself and shafting the workforce by thinning out permanent council staff and replacing them with agency workers! Sounds like they’ve been rumbled!
This topic is developed by a story from Mr S who reveals to the table that a few years back when given the choice of supporting the Sue Ryder Hospice by a simple little move that would have actually benefitted the council, one of the well paid staffers at CSD decided to go for the neck and charge them just to turn the screw, not much, a few £100 a year! But as fast as people round the table are supporting Sue Ryder and helping raise funds to keep the place going, some f$£kwitt at the Town Hall is helping themselves to the dosh! Good isn’t it! Anyway it turns out that Mr S took exception to this, provided Sue Ryder with a bit of legal advice and the net result was a direct hit to the Borough’s budget in a “swings and roundabouts” move without them knowing who was responsible! Sue Ryder won in the end, that little gesture of defiance!

Now he’s looking tired is my older brother, bit incoherent and he starts rambling on about a little matter that might be of interest to Her Majesties Revenue and Customs, some other skeleton in the council cupboard. There’s a glint in his eye! Plenty more life in the old boy yet! I’m going to ring him later, see how he is!

Hi Boy’s just ring me, I’m yours. For ten minutes!

18 May

We are evolving, embracing the future, the latest technology! We have started to mess around with the digibox and seeing what exciting TV channels there are beyond the usual five!
Now if we appear to be somewhat late in discovering the delights of over 150 extra places to waste our lives well it’s intentional.
We stumbled across something called Psychic TV in which three ladies caked in make up messed around with Tarot cards and encouraged the viewer to phone in, provide credit card details and be on the receiving end of this doorway to the future. I see….I see…ye! It’s coming clear…You will get a f%$£ing trouser filling fright when your statement arrives you gullible person.

Press the buttons, there the shopping channel. Pretty much the same as the above but you actually get something for your money although the very bubbly presenter seemed to have the patter to convince people to splash out on something naff on the basis that a) your life would be enriched by this item and b) You were getting this jewel encrusted broach for a fraction of its true value! Over on Psychic TV they are predicting more heart stopping shocks and sorrow as credit card statements arrive.
Trinkets and baubles flying off the shelf, prices dropping from £2500 to £190, where’s the phone dear, there’s only a few left!

Foyle’s War, see it. Poirot, the Belgian sleuth seems to have his own channel, at least he’s not charging although the price for watching him unmask the murderer is at least six commercial breaks, cheap stuff at the bottom end of the market. That’s the price of a 15 year old repeat!
Onto the good stuff. Channel 118, two lovely ladies cavorting topless on a bed. Exhorting you to experience nirvana, kubblahkaan, chat to them, liberate your mind, your fantasies. Simply phone some number at £7.00 a minute and boy these girls will get you so steamed up, time will fly by before you know it you’ll be wondering how to pay your mortgage and worrying in case your partner asks why a single phone call has set you back £147.93. Plus vat!

Over on one of the mainstream channels there’s a show about a technique called “rinsing” in which several quite clever young women have found out that if they flirt with presumably single men of low intelligence and spare cash, they can without the need to satisfy any male carnal urge, go home with all manner of presents, jewellery, clothing, business class trip to New York and so on. Presumably Mr Lonely realises he’s been made a fool of and then goes off and finds someone else who will help decrease his bank account!
Then there’s an odd programme in which people that have spent the last 20 or so years living in houses filled with a range of detritus ranging from old toys, books , old VHS tapes and as seen last night, just plain crap, food wrappers, just total sh*t. Some plastic face hair transplant guy called Stellios (not that one) comes along and advises them on how to sort the mess out which basically consists of them going out for the day and leaving the job up to a bunch of cleaners. They all meet up, say thanks and Stellios chalks up another success. More of the same next week and if you want to be in the next series get in touch!
I wonder why people go on programmes like this knowing that they are going to be ridiculed if not by the TV crews who display dacorum then by their neighbours when the show goes out, when wev’e gawped and then turned over. There  was one programmes a few years back in which a middle aged women bared all (quite literally) in front of the camera as she set out to be a porn star. This distressing documentary ended with the failed starlet in tears, screwed on camera several times then cast adrift, admitting to a history of mental illness and self harm and the whole just made me want to cry along with her!
Back to the shopping channel, Lisa is gushing and drooling over some necklace, down from a grand to £120. She’s in rapture! She’s having an orgasm or at least like the other two elsewhere she’s faking it and getting paid commission. It’s The Hustle in real life. Like one of those stalls you see at the seaside (and there’s one on Oxford St in London) where the “ringmaster” type bloke manages to whip up such a frenzy there’s cash being handed over for fun, for sealed boxes that cannot physically contain all you think you are expecting. You’ll be miles away before you realise, so will your money!
But maybe that’s the point and I’ve missed it. It’s the buzz. That feeling of pure delight when you get what you want, cheap baubles, Madame Zareesha with her West Midlands accent telling you’re going to inherit some money (so don’t worry about the £15 it’s just cost you). Actually believing that talking to two silicone chested pouting women in thongs is going to cure your lonely life and cravings for company, the addictive cycle of defeat.

We had a close friend. She died three years back. She was disabled and spent a good part of the day at home. At night she partied, the chair never held her back, but during the day she discoved shopping live on TV with new friends, the hosts. When her partner was coming to terms with her not being there, he started to find stashes of “Shopping Channel” packets of jewellery, underwear, clothing, skin rejuvenator and more, all crammed into cupboards, much unopened and not worn. Then credit cards in boxes. 0% balance transfers all hidden till the day she could sort it all out. A day that never arrived. Unlike the post funeral demands! The seller eventually accepted a settlement and took much of it back.
Now it became clear that our friend had sought solace in the concept that all this stuff would make her look, feel and be beautiful so when she did get out (which she did quite often) boy would she shine! But like a heroine addict the actual act of buying, making that phone call and getting that packet became the hit, the drug, the endorphin releasing climax!
As I’ve tried to figure out how the TV license can support over 100 channels I’ve come to the conclusion that at the end of the day much of what’s out there is junk and in cases distressing. its best to just stick to the main staple diet of BBC 1, BBC 2 and the odd foray into ITV. Give me a good book anyday. Or maybe some CDs. Amazon and Ebay are great. I spend hours on there. Buy it Now! That buzz when you get something for £3!