Archive | May, 2012

Fallen Idol!

15 May

 

Mr E Smith

Mr E Smith

Going back over 23 years ago my pal Barbara who was a biker type chick after some time working with her suddenly let slip that her brother was non other than Mark E Smith, ravaged front man with Manchester band The Fall. There then followed an unending supply of free records, some signed, demo’s etc mostly at my asking including their most recent offering “Iam Kurious Orange” which as ever contained some gems and filler. They always,I should I say Smith always cut an odd figure. Very much a maverick, no messing about. The essence of punk although as a band there seemed to be a revolving door policy as Smith was the only stable factor, the rest came and went, one or two came back notably Brix his wife (who you can now see on telly with Gok Wan).

Brix before Gok 

Brix before Gok

And so it’s Friday night, we’ve finishjed work early and set off to the smoke to see The Fall at The Coronet, a new venue for us and before you go “Oy! Why didn’t you tell us before in case we wanted to go!!!” we didn’t get tickets till the night before. So there! And apart from that if anyone had attended at my suggestion I’d have been embarrased!

Arriving just befor 8.00pm to find the place fairly full by agitated 50 year olds, the usual overpriced bar and a big sign saying if you go out don’t expect to get back in you know things aren’t going to plan.

And then it went worse!  Smith and The Fall (unknowns) shambled on seriously late at well gone 9.30pm and if you aren’t aware the principle in most London live venues is to fit in with the majority of the public transport system, so most gigs ened before midnight and this smack in the face for the paying public had the effect of making the whole eveing feel forced and truncated, luckily the BypassMobile is parked up locally and being a Friday there’s not much pressure to get back as Wiz is being looked after by Jude for the night! (thanks pal!)

So off goes the performance. Incoherant shambles but as the crowd like me have seen Smith growing increasingly incoherant and shambolic you find yourself sort of excusing it. Now as I listened to this tortured set my mind wandered back to, if memory serves me correct 1985 and a pub venue in Cheetham Hill, Manchester where an earlier incarnation of The Fall almost left the place in ruins and then snapping back to a Friday night in May 2012 the term “No Country for Old Men” came to mind! OK it’s a film not a term but like Catch 22 it might enter the vernacular!

Anyone wandering in might well have wondered what the f$£k was going on with this young set of backing musicians trying to play whilst some old man warbled on into the mic, he doesn’t sing these days so it’s spoken word, or gravelled shouted word to be fair!

Now the set never came to life, we’d refused to buy anymore drinks at that price and contemplated leaving early. Tempted though we were we stayed for the encore and possibly their signature tune White Lightening (although I find Big Price gets me going).
Not sure how but a fan ends up singing along on one of his mics and manages to screw the encore up.

I’ve met Smith a few times, been to family party so given the option of catching up at the end we dithered and decided to set off into the night up the A1. I’m not sure about this repeated trek to see groups and solo artists that held sway 25 or 30 years back, some are just as majestic as ever and improve with age. Other’s become piss taking versions of themselves which is why I’m refusing to see the new version of Public Image Ltd until Wobble and Levene are invited back!

It was Rotten nee Lydon that growled the immortal words “Ever had the feeling you’ve been conned” and tonight at The Coronet I most certainly felt short changed!

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Shafted, shat on and sat on!

14 May

You just can’t imagine the pain can you! You’re laying up in your hospital bed in agony and then two grinning buffoons come and add to the misery by sitting next to you!

Now the Royal College of Nursing isn’t a hot bed of activism and it usually adopts a glass half full approach of diplomacy in its pronunciations. This only adds to make its current outspoken criticism of the way in which the nursing profession has been kicked senseless over the last two years more acute!
In case you are not aware the figures are even grimmer than waking up from an operation and finding Clegg and Cameron sipping tea at your bedside. 26,000 nursing jobs lost in the two years since the coalition crept in and a further 61,000 said to be at risk. Described along with improvements in state housing and education as “the new Jerusalem after the second world war, you can see it being slowly dismantled by people whose reliance on the NHS is negligible and usually restricted to “sleeves rolled up” photo shoots.
Listening to Health Minister Simon Burns of Radio 4 this morning his comment of not recognising the (above) figures and claims that the actual figure of posts lost is more like 450 can have only been dreamt up by spin doctors in candlelight. There is an increasing reliance on under trained agency staff, cuts to nurses hours to the point where many are working part time hours not by choice and the belief that caring nurses will happily work overtime unpaid!
So the Royal College, normally demure is confirming what many cynics already knew, understaffed wards and morale sinking further on a weekly basis. Connect all the dots. Only last week we had the same old story of elderly patients left on trolleys for anything up to 24 hours and we are back in time again to an earlier blog where we pointed out that after working till your 70 your quite likely to end your life sitting about in your own slosh waiting for someone to say “Are you OK Mrs Johnson” before you tell them Mrs Johnson died three days ago.
The College doesn’t disagree with the Governments support for community based care as opposed to hospital treatment but the key issue here is that at the same time as forcing this policy by hospital cuts it is also cutting funding for community care at the same time so neither part of the care system has the ability to cater for this. We are talking of sick and elderly people here and services being slashed to ribbons by people with private health care and enough time to party on down with the Murdoch media empire and send lovey dovey text messages.

“Hospital Worker”

On top of that I’m stuck in a time loop. I’m stuck in a time loop. On top of that I’m…

14 May

The boss gets paid over £120,000 for this!

The boss gets paid over £120,000 for this!

Hardly encouraging!

Hardly encouraging!

I really am! I’m stuck in some sort of Mobious strip, time vortex twisty whathaveyou, Dr Who type thing and every now and again I’m in a day that I’ve lived before. Exactly the f$&%ing same as before! Like in that Star Trek where they keep meeting themselves.
This time round it’s my very favourite subject of the Borough Council asking us all to support recycling and then them leaving the recycle banks full and overflowing! Every few weeks it seems if not more!

Now I’m sorry if this seems petty compared to other greater global issue and the fact that the moons moving away from the earth at a rate of 4cm a year (so we’ll be up the creek without a paddle in a billion years according to that Professor Cox chap) but if we are to help that polar bear on the ice by taking our stuff to the recycle skip I really do think we deserve much better and are being spun the sort of tale that Hans Christian Anderson would have struggled to write! In a billion years polar bears could have evolved and be making space ships to save us like in some Japanese cartoon and unless we save them now by recycling our plastic bottles we could well be consigning our race to the…er..waste bin!
Anyway I’m stuck in this time loop thing, I hope it doesn’t happen to you and I wouldn’t mind if it was a decent day…like that time in 1979 with Sally Clegg……sorry just drifted off there! …back to the recycling bins, I’ve written to master apologist Stewart Briggs who is the councils Environment demagogue so many times about this and his replies have gotten increasingly rancid and abrupt (look I’m just trying to help him!) so to get me out of this Tardis space continuum Quantum Leap thing I’ve used physics and “string” theory and sent a letter (in the post!) to various Councillors in the hope that they will get stuck in and point out to the Mayor and Reverend Royden (our own version of the Chuckle Brothers without any of the fun!) that what they say and what their council do are sometime poles apart!
I don’t like causing trouble. Get up from the floor! I don’t like causing trouble but sometimes you don’t have a choice. To show them I’m being nice I’ve offered to help the council come up with a p**s easy solution in exchange for nothing more than a packet of bourbon biscuits. Nothing too posh, Happy Shopper brand will do! I know the councils strapped for money especially after giving big pay rises to various big wigs. Including it seems Stewart Briggs!

Bedford Bypass, always droning on and on and on and on and….

11 May

Groundhog Day! I seem to notice more and more shops round town looking quite forlorn which is another way of saying empty. Now despite us possibly coming across as having a downer on Bedford we haven’t. We shop local and spend local so our collective money goes into small local business’s. Apart from a soul tormenting visit to Tesco very late on Wednesday in search of cough medicine we spend wisely. We pay cash in several down to earth eateries not for any tax reasons but because it gives the owner ready cash to go to the market to get fresh local (ish) fruit and veg. It’s a simple strategy.
Now the Bedford BID are saying that things are looking up for business in town but I can’t see it. I was in one of the more recently arrived cafés last Friday, two people taking a gamble and they are by the owners admission just about staying afloat with one of the partners having to take a day job recently. In various cases other shopkeepers are working elsewhere as well and one business that I think adds real flare are finding that as they increase website sales the shop has become an elaborate storeroom and kept afloat by the fact that the husband of one of the partners is able to meet some of the bills.
The views of the BID who get described as “town centre chiefs” is backed up with figures from a website called Right Move, a commercial letting agent that apparently shows 19 shops and restaurants up for grabs. Now I’ve looked and it shows 75 although some are town edge or in the industrial estates. It either shows opportunities galore for anyone relocating to Bedford to set up shop or a continuing decline.


Here’s a view of a bustling Silver St taken about 3.30pm on Bank Holiday Monday. Not very inspiring really and I know it’s not Saturday and the weather has been crap since the hosepipe ban started but from a shop’s perspective the running costs are much the same and when your shop and livelihood depend on what happens on a Saturday many of them are hovering on the brink.
I’m going to leave this subject alone for a while! It’s getting a bit boring, a bit like going into town!

Modern Art!

10 May

There’s an impressive new trail of modern art around town. Someone with flare and style has been “developing” shops into challenging pieces of post modernist comment on how dire things are in Bedford.

As part of this surreal work of art, the creator has got a load of old envelopes, two year old telephone directories and circus posters and placed them behind the front door of the shop! It’s challenging and brilliant, it can mean whatever you want i.e. “Progress Stalled” comes to mind. And all over town as well so you don’t have to go far to appreciate this! Then each shop has a sign stuck outside saying “For Sale” or “To Lease” just to add to the whole show!

Up until now I just thought I’d ended up in a dying town but now I’ve realised just how lucky we are to be living in such a cultured hot spot!

Welcome to Bedford!

9 May


I was in town early on Saturday and came across this wonderful site on the corner of Luddington’s Passage! The perfect way to know that you are in for a shopping treat! Now I’ve dithered about putting it in a blog as, well it’s not pleasant. Smack bang on one of the main entry points onto the main retail area . Welcome to Bedford.

I went in again late on Bank Holiday Monday so thats near enough three fullshopping days later and guess what, still there albeit softened a bit by the rain! Be grateful!

Lovely! Well Done to the Bedford Town Centre team who make Northampton and Cambridge such popular places to go to at weekend! I’m told that Alison Ivett is the Borough Council officer in charge of keeping our streets clean and she lives somewhere between here and Peterborough with the emphasis on the latter!

 

Beached!

8 May

We mentioned us getting an interesting snippet from within Borough Hall a few blogs back, well we’ve had a chance to look at the paperwork and we’ve also been told that the information is in the public domain.

In a nutshell the council are “soft market testing” turning out part of the leisure service profile namely the health and fitness section and setting up a trust. Now I’m a seasoned reviewer of all manner of council antics and this seems to be a polite way of palming off the bits that aren’t doing too well so that when the price to get in goes through the roof the council is one step removed from the outcry. I’m going to run with this unless our council watchers want to give us a bit more detail in which case we will happily rectify and apologise for being crusty cynics.

Here’s an image of the Beach Pool which is tucked away at the back of Tesco’s on Cardington Road, Looks like something from Doctor Who. If it was to be self sufficient in terms of finance I guess it would have as much chance as Stevie Wonder on Total Wipe Out!

It’s always been an oddity as it’s neither one thing nor the other. Its heaving during the school holiday but deserted at other times. Its a “fun” pool so serious swimmers have to go elsewhere and that seems to be the problem in that once you’ve been down the slides a few times boredom sets in. There’s a dinky fitness centre next to a cafe selling fast food so work that one out. My niece and Bypass contributor worked there two years back and it all seemed a bit cheap to me! There’s a section that brings the swimmers outside and it didn’t take the local yobs long to realise that they could throw things over the fence and into the water and if your bobbing about on the wave machine you don’t want to know that they fished a dead rabbit out (this was a few years back)! Then there’s been a few pervs at the other local pools looking at people undressing but as far as I know the Beach Pool hasn’t had this as yet but its not really a selling point is it! . It is however a massive drain on resources. Now I’m the first to point out that council services need to be looked on as a collective contribution that we all support however the whole Beach pool concept was badly thought out from the start. Bits of tile fall off and despite it’s futuristic look from a distance when you get up close it’s pretty f&%$ing grim. They had the option 22 years back of including a full size pool in the concept but opted for just the “fun” size version and its best use from what I can see is that the car park gives the learner drivers somewhere to practice, truck drivers somewhere to snooze and sexually active teenagers somewhere to practice so much of its contribution seems to be external more so if you include lobbing stuff over the fence!

So maybe partnering the whole place out to a “trust” might bring about a more positive approach or maybe the ringing of the death bell!

Busy day in Luton!

6 May

So me and Jayni parked up what seemed like miles from Luton town centre, we should have got sponsors, £1.00 a mile. Into Luton where the Police presence was, well serious! One of our mates brother is a hoppy bopper (a Special Constable) and he lives past Norwich, he was in there somewhere after being coached over to add to the stunning array of yellow jackets.

Lot’s of clogged up streets near the station, sirens and so on so Jenni’s idea of driving down rather than the train started to make sense.

Rumours of a big turn out from the EDL but you can’t really make out what’s going on. Socialist Worker sellers all over the place, make hay while the sunshines and this is the first day for two weeks that its not been lashing down. I died my hair for the Whitby Goth festival last weekend and it’s still washing out!

Shout shout shout, parade around the streets, confirmation of scuffles in the station. More sirens, things being thrown about. The Police presence is really the biggest factor in this. More a case of being herded about and for a while Luton is closed for business.

There’s a feeling of strength on our side even though we don’t know anyone, we know what we are there for and the option of just leatting the EDL get on with it just didn’t exist so there’s this huge counter crowd, young, old, every race, religion, creed, a couple of young Jewish teenagers wearing caps talking to an elderly muslim chap. There’s a quite elderly man near us, wearing some medals, he says to the people round him “when people stop fighting their corner and stop thinking, you soon end up with the sort of mob that followed Hitler around” At that point the long walk into town was worth it.

I’m not going to drone on, have a look at the papers for commentary. I did come across something of a hoot it’s a EDL news site giving you all the up to date goss on the EDL and there’s a few puzzled looks as to why some lad with serious hair do and array of badges is giving flyers out for it… but ….wait for it…it’s a hijack site and counters the EDL with a bit of piss taking thrown in so well done to the organisers for doing it and getting it way up in the search engine, that little act of subversion that shows how effective a simple idea can be here’s the link:

www.edlnews.co.uk

Debs and Jayni

Top Secret Bunker!

5 May

Wow! There’s an interesting photo of a door! I wonder what rubbish BedfordBypass are going on about now!

Well behind this door is the Borough Council’s top secret nerve centre, it’s stuffed with the latest CCTV systems, screens and remote viewing gizzmo’s. I got a guided tour round courtesy of a former colleague of my partner who is now  in charge and I must say thanks to a nice chap called Danny who showed me how all the gubbins work. We watched a man going into WH Smiths. It was very exciting. Apparently the quality of the CCTV system is better during daylight hours so given that the town centre drunks and hooligans all set about each other when it’s dark I may have identified a glitch! There was a bundle on Tavistock St a few months back and the images shown in the paper were frankly laughable, George Clooney and Lady Gaga could have been involved and you wouldn’t have been able to make them out amongst the blurred images. But why get worried about that, the Borough are quite proud of their little set up where a small team of dedicated employees in security type suits watch us all shopping!

Now the camera bunker loacated at the arse end of Queens St Car Park and close to the Wellington Pub is connected to the network of radio’s dotted around the shops who chatter on about who to look out for, usually bored kids who seem to enjoy being watched and probably feel appreciated with cameras and radios zeroing in on them like on Big Brother! As far as I can see it doesn’t seem to involve the Police until someone’s actually pinned to the floor, and that formed part of my afternoon last year. I was talking to Libby from the Piazza Coffee Shop recently, apart from making seriously good coffee and sandwiches he’s a special police constable and in mid chat his radio crackled into life and he suddenly sprinted over the road  and tackled some bloke who’d helped himself to sweets from Wilkinsons! We could have all been murdered in our sleep. Two Community Police bods came running up and stood about directing the traffic round the splayed out sweet thief, apparently Libbys has more police type power’s than they do and I bet they can’t make expresso like he can! They keep talking about giving PCSO’s extra special powers and when I first heard this I thought they meant stretchy X Men arms or see in the dark vision!

So we can all sleep sound knowing that this serious battery of kit, staff and ever vigilant shopkeepers are keeping tabs on us all. I’m cautious about the use of CCTV as its success’s seem to be be overstated and trumped up to justify the whole expense. I think that each camera post in town should have a telly at the bottom showing the CCTV centre so we can have a look at the staff that are looking at us. Sort of evens things out maybe. Or another idea would be for the Mayor to get a himself a little hat and give the public guided tours of the bunker after all we are paying for it!

Borough Bollox!

4 May

Well done to local newspaper The Bedford Times and Citizen for giving front page space to a story which in many other towns might lead to insurrection. Basically Hayley O’Keefe informed the populace of our little town that eight high salaried senior officers at Bedford Borough managed to pull a blinder by receiving whopping wage increases on top of some seriously high salaries at the same time as making 120 (and rising) staff members redundant. This 120 figure doesn’t include agency workers as they don’t count in statistics.
Phil Simpkins got a 15.6% rise and the Borough website states his salary as £170,000 plus extras for being in charge of local elections. Best of all is Stewrat Bloggs who as Executive Director of Environment got a 33% increase. I’m going to swear. F*king Hell! Stewrat is a witty type of chap and quite reasonable company both of which aren’t necessarily in his job description and when the County Council was abolished his salary jumped from circa £70,000 to £112,000 and whether that includes the 33% I don’t know. I was amongst the first to say well done when he got his promotion! There was if I recall only two applicants and the other was real wet lettuce! Then everyone else jumped up the pay scale by on average £30,000 including one chap that promptly went sick with stress for some months! He was supported on his return by a new colleague on £50,000. That’s the way the money goes…pop goes the weasel!
I say well done to The T&C and Hayley here and I’ve phoned them to tell them direct and was told that the Borough provided the usual fudge but in this case they opted to run with the story so..back of the net!
I’m a real sad twat, I must be to be able to spend so much time poking around the Council website. It’s a bit like the attic here at Bypass HQ, full of junk and a lot of it is so old as to be useless. Here’s an example, first of all I cannot see what Grizzly Dave the Mayor costs us, nor the cost of his Personal Admin bod. Now it might be there somewhere and I’m so dim I’ve missed it! If so maybe our watcher from the Borough legal department could mention this to the Mayor and point me in the right direction!
I won’t go on but I must mention that there’s annual Scrutiny Reports on there! Bang up to date if you have a Tardis as the most recent one is from 2006/7 so it’s like the Viz annuals in that it’s so old you’ve forgotten what’s in it! Then there’s an Overview and Scrutiny Manual thing that “into the time warp again” dates back to 2005.
I raise my glass to the Children’s Service staff. Boy are they fuming! A statement regarding the departure of their boss Chris Hilliard which comes soon after a kicking from Ofsted has gone out to the media earlier today so expect to see it on the Borough website in a year or two!
Here’s a subliminal image “Glover”! Watch this space!