Archive | November, 2013

Bah Humbug! A Bedford Christmas…

27 Nov

Quite a good night out but I demand decent chips!

Quite a good night out but I demand decent chips!

Sorry Debs, can you repeat that? I heard her say Captain Kremen, what she actually said was Cafe Kremma which made more sense!
We’d been to the Bedford Christmas Lights Switch on which consists of a rather brill fireworks display and increasing numbers of people selling light up wands and so on. After the aerial bombardment which brings the firework season to a close we made our usual seasonal wander to the chippy and Camperchino Bar near the auction house and..the horror…there’s a queue a mile long so we go for a coffee next door and…the horror…there’s a load of kids in there squawking and waving their plastic light sabres, or they might have been Harry Potter wands. A sharp exit leaving us hungry and in need of a cuppa. So we ended up, all five of us in Mario’s on the High St looking at greasy chips in a polystyrene tray and arguably the tray would have tasted nicer than the chips! Awful, rank! The bloody chips are bloody cold the bloody pies got bloody mould! Thanks John CC!

So we went over the road and had a decent coffee at Cafe Kremma where we all agreed that next year we will go back to our usual venue which brings us back in a Dr Who style to where we began!

Night of the Demon!

Night of the Demon!


So here it is, Merry Christmas and the local Times and Citizen free paper keeps encouraging us to go to Milton Keynes. As I was watching the fireworks illuminate the night sky (it never rains when they turn the lights on) I couldn’t help thinking of that film “Night of the Demon” where said demon comes out of a ball of fire and chases Dana Andrews! I imagined screaming hordes of Bedfordians fleeing down the Embankment but it didn’t happen.
Beautiful fireworks!

Beautiful fireworks!

Now I’ve been told tonight whilst cooking vegetarian hot dogs that I’m due a visit from three ghosts who are coming to sort me out and that’s got me thinking of a story called “A Bypass Christmas Carol”. I’ve written the ending first..Tiny Tim dies and the Cratchetts get the full effects of the Bedroom Tax, end up unable to afford their slum and end up homeless. All I need do now is write the first bit and any suggestions will be much appreciated!

We walked home past plastic cups, fast food remnants and the odd broken plastic light up toy that never made it to see December!

How Was it for You?

25 Nov

Well then! How was it for you! A bit of a respite I dare say. Two weeks of people clinging to roofs, dead animals floating past, people in Iraq non spontaneously combusting and then Doctor Who storms back to give us a bit of light relief, not just one Doctor but three and the good news is that the Filipino people in trees are still there so having Saturday night to wallow in nostalgia didn’t do any harm!

The rubber monsters are much better in the new series though!

The rubber monsters are much better in the new series though!

I’ve sort of given up on the new resurrected Dr Who. As a child of the 60s and 70s I loved it, each story was self contained, I so wanted a strange man to offer me jelly babies and whisk me off, the monsters were scary but absurd and you had to use your imagine so that three wonky Daleks where you could see the man inside and a few cardboard cut outs really did become a Dalek army. Nowadays there’s thousands of them flying through the air…and the stories have gotten so complicated that if you miss one story of key importance that’s it. It takes the fun out of it, no more going to school on Monday wondering how the Doctor is going to escape from a huge spider on Metabelis Three or a walking blancmange made up of old cushions.
It all went wrong in the 80s. Tom Baker left, Peter Davidson fresh from being a vet got the keys to the Tardis, they moved it to two weekday episodes, Davidson cleared off and some bloke called Colin Baker dressed up like a clown and gooned about in some woeful stories and from time to time (pun) some really clever dark episodes that failed because the budgets couldn’t do justice. Baker got kicked out, Sylvester McCoy came in, things turned bleak and just as he settled in and the stories started getting clever again that was it. Into the black hole of its own arse apart from a TV special in the 90s that bombed!
Set the controls for 2013, wuyrp wuyrp wuyrp and Dr Who is the biggest thing on TV so for an hour (and a bit) the world stopped spinning then there were the documentaries, a drama, talking head “best of” programmes and an after party at which it was very clear that time hasn’t stood still for or been kind to various actors that assisted the good Doctor over the decades. Christopher Eccleston stayed well clear, he’d have twatted some of them for their hammy acting! Bernard Cribbens, one of my childhood heroes was there having his shoulders massaged by the awful Bonnie Langford and he’s one of the few of that era not to have been carted off by plod!
And it doesn’t stop there following the special episode that when you cut through the confusion, Daleks, special effects and more was just …well..confusing! Post episode blues have I gather set in as fans (might have) realised that they’d been short changed or at least underwhelmed after all the hype however we only have five and a bit weeks to wait before the 800th episode in which David Tennant turns into Malcolm Tucker who swears like a trooper. Tucker is a devious sod so that should aid the storylines when as Spin Doctor Who he starts advising the Cybermen on how to really take over the earth!
One thing I couldn’t figure out despite trying is that apparently the Dr Who as played by Peter Davidson is the father in law of the Dr as played by Mr Tennant so if someone can explain how they’ve managed this manipulation of the time space continuum please.

Bedford: Christmas Double Whammy!

20 Nov

Devastated children hear the news!

Devastated children hear the news!

Devastating news for all people looking forward to a traditional Bedford Christmas! First, the news broke yesterday that the Coca Cola gaily decorated illuminated wagon with a big colourful Santa drinking liquid tooth decay would be bypassing Bedford and instead will go to Luton where he will get shot and all that nutritious vitality drink robbed! Children are devastated and if that’s not bad enough then it looks like HMV won’t be deigning to set up a temporary shop in town selling all the surplus stock off that was enthusiastically over ordered. Like the new series of Dallas with JR pegging it half way through!

So sorry to be the bringer of bad tidings, it won’t be the same will it!

On a good note, our favourite pub The Bear on the High Street got a plug in the very posh Bedford Bid booklet that we received yesterday. Or it might have been Monday, no it was yesterday!

Quick …call Trading Standards!

20 Nov

Trading Standards. You call them when you have consumer problems or when someone’s telling you porkies to get your money off you!

Total rubbish. I found it on the floor!

Total rubbish. I found it on the floor!

Here’s an example. Its a leaflet that the car parking warden types have been given out! It say’s it Quick, Simple and Easy. None of which apply if you actually use the car parks in question. The three terms might just apply if you are Carol Vorderman, Prof Brian Cox, Albert Einstein or him in the chair, what’s his name*?

But if you are just a shopper trying to buy stuff in Bedford be prepared for a bit of a wait when you use Lurke Street car park.
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*Davros. That’s the blighter. Mind you his Dalek’s would just blast their way to the front of the queue!

New Co-op Chairman Appointed!

20 Nov
Arthur J Prederghastly!

Arthur J Prederghastly!

I intend to get the Coop bank on track and be firmly in command says Arthur!

Your death might be painful…but look on the bright side!

19 Nov
If you're happy and you know it...

If you’re happy and you know it…

Look there she is again, that lady with the funny hat and wearing it inside like in the last picture! I think she’s either the Lord Lieutenant or High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, maybe Grand Oberon of the Zenon Quadrant, something like that!
Here she is at a Festival of Faiths held at Bedford Hospital. The other lady with a peculiar hat is a Japanese Buddhist monk and they brought calm and serenity by banging a little drum, like in those Irish pubs that are part of the Scottish and Newcastle Group (plc). Perhaps they tour intensive and critical care wards playing invigorating tunes! Usually stories concerning Bedford Hospital bring bad news, closures, vomiting bugs and so on, so this is unusually er…positives..of sorts!

Why are they always bald?

Why are they always bald?

Now I was rather bemused last week during all the coverage of the Commonwealth jolly in Sri Lanka when they showed footage of…seriously…militant Buddhists getting stuck into the local Muslims and when I say “stuck in” I’m talking violence squared, it made Mexico look like St Albans! Apparently the Buddha himself said its OK to be violent in Sri Lanka and all sides seem to have taken their cue from the big guy but I think it goes against the grain of the peace loving orange robe brigade. That said their history of suppressing opposition is rather grim, ritual blinding of their enemies was one nicety and historic Dali Lama’s do have a reputation for having been a bit “Genghis Khan”. But the current one is very nice!
There’s lots of Sikh chaps in the picture as well. Now apart from one or two occasions where some of them have let the side down like the assassination of Indira Ghandi in the 1980s (they were provoked by the massacre at the Golden Temple of Amritsar) I quite like the Sikh and Hindu perspective on things and having been to a few, their way of doing weddings puts our Birdy Dance and partially stale sandwiches method of celebrating union into the shade!
Back to the Festival at the Hospital it’s all well and good if you genuinely believe or are hedging your bets about going to heaven when your earthly light goes out but I have no concept or belief in a deity and for the past 40odd years since an act of sedition and being asked not to go to Sunday School for asking why god killed all the animals (as in Noah) I’ve followed a view of death and nothing beyond so enjoy yourself while you have the chance!
I doubt the local Humanists were invited as we have faith only in our convictions. I’ve often wondered though what Richard Dawkins does if he’s invited to church weddings and funerals. Does he go and just keep quiet whilst pretending to sing or does he have a go? “Does anyone know any just reason why Tarquin and Cecilia shouldn’t be joined…” and Dawkins runs to the front and shouts “Yes! its all bollocks”

Are you sure you're a doctor? will it make me better?

Are you sure you’re a doctor? will it make me better?

He’s married to Lalla Ward who played Romana in Doctor Who. Bet you didn’t know that did you! And she was previously married to Tom Baker, the 4th Doctor!
This was one of those blank page blogs where you stare at the screen until something pops into your head. Divine guidance!

Funny Phil!

14 Nov

I mentioned some months back that we had come across more than a few instances whereby the chances of getting a job within the Borough Council seemed uncannily to increase if your ma or pa worked there!

Not the bald one, or her wearing the funny  inside!

Not the bald one, or her wearing the funny inside!

Being in a good mood (?) I emailed Phil Simpkins seen here at what I assume is a fancy dress party going off the lady’s outfit, to enquire about one particular oddity  after several of the bin men voiced serious concerns over a manager employing her son through an agency and he sent me reply of which a section is reproduced here:

“You will note that I have therefore deleted your message before responding to you as I do not wish to repeat your mistake by publishing your defamatory and incorrect information and which would mean that the Council would also be liable for the publication.

I must ask that you do not have further publish such defamatory and incorrect information. The Council has a duty as an employer to protect its staff and it would be necessary for me to consider what further action should be taken in respect of this.

Yours sincerely

Philip Simpkin Chief Executive”

It was the “defamatory” that gave me the best sore ribs since the second series of Blackadder not to mention the bit about “incorrect information” but having noticed that he’d dodged the actual issue I went back to ask if he was going to take the suggestion of potential nepotism seriously and to be fair he replied saying that he did! Why he seemed to throw dolly out of the pram in the first instance I don’t know. I also gave him another example to consider whereby a manager had taken his son and daughter on through the Borough’s preferred agency supplier! I had a few more examples one of which seems to show a whole family working together apart from a brick wall however I couldn’t make these “stand”.

Then it all went quiet around the house. Not a creature stirred, not even a Chief Exec! Until yesterday, over two months later when the following landed in Gill’s email box although it came from one of growing number of sources inside the Borough!

Employment of Staff

It is vital that applicants applying for jobs with the Council who are related to existing staff declare the relationship on their application form. This applies whether it concerns immediate family members or relations by marriage. Staff
should also make sure that they declare that a relative is applying for a post at the Council in advance of their relatives application.Where this relates to the recruitment of agency workers then the employee should bring this to the attention of their Assistant Director and the Assistant Director should seek approval for the appointment from Martin Williams, Assistant Chief Executive (Human Resources and Corporate Policy). In all cases the Council must ensure and demonstrate that an appropriate, transparent recruitment process has taken place.

For further advice please contact your directorate HR advisor.

Anyway I’ve emailed Phil again and asked him if he will grant me the courtesy of a reply! Oddly me and Gill we wandering into town today and who should we see but Phil in person! I was going to ask how his book was doing. I presume it’s him that wrote it!

£3.75 from Amazon. Maybe Phil will sign it for me!

£3.75 from Amazon. Maybe Phil will sign it for me!

Star Wars Episode 7

11 Nov

Hundreds of hopefuls queued for hours on Saturday as auditions for the new film were held in Bristol!

Weird bunch!

Weird bunch!

PatWatch!

11 Nov

New to Bedford Bypass..it’s PatWatch! Patrick Hall was our MP (blink and you will have missed him!) from 1997 till 2010 then he got cobbed out! He’s now trying to regain his rightful place on the terrace by crowbarring himself into any given opportunity to get his mush or some soundbite in the free paper. You have to look hard, like in Where’s Wally but here’s an example from the Midland Road Culture Fair from a few weeks ago, look there he is at the back wearing a red tie!

PatWatch!

PatWatch!

Not to show favoritism to the other wannabe’s as and when they start pissing us off by hijacking whatever it is we’ll do similar so in addition to PaWatch we can do PrickWatch whenever that Mike Buchanan bloke (below) from the Justice for Men and Boys and The Women that Love Them party shows up in Bedford. He makes Patrick Hall a viable option to be frank and that’s saying something!

Total Prick!

Total Prick!

Secret People!

11 Nov

My problem is that when it comes to certain subjects I’m a total cynic. I can look in the muddiest pond and see the bottom. The blindingly obvious leaps out at me!

A Borough Council pal explained the hierarchy of which of the Mayors’ Portfolio Holders get to speak to the press and who gets associated with which “event” or press release and a good example was the way that Cllr Doug McMurdo was the public face of things in the lead up to the Higgins Museum opening but on the big day itself the Mayor was the only one to be seen in the papers after all when there’s kudos to be had why waste it on menials!

There’s an interesting piece in the Times and Citizen (a local paper that never questions what’s in a press release) about the Borough Council signing up to the living wage, a move which will benefit 200 employees. Surely a cause for balloons and cheer. So much joy that the Labour Group are mentioned and local ex MP and future hopeful Patrick Hall has spooned himself into the article. Patrick is best described as a Human Sleeping Tablet on account that more than a few minutes listening to him and you’re drifting odd to nod land! And what interests me is that with the Labour group having been nodding dogs for the past three years why the Mayor has allowed them to push their candidate into a Borough council “positive”!

So why am I taking this approach? Well if you dig about you will find that across July, August and Sept Bedford Borough Council met invoices for over £2million for agency workers, secret people that across the Borough but who don’t actually work for them. This figure will also include the rake off for the supplier and the actual workers do some of the grimmest jobs across the authority like cooking stodge burgers, picking up dog shit, syringes and if you are lucky, endless filing.
Bedford Bypass Agency

Now it’s anybody’s guess what people get paid or exactly what they do as the council’s approach to transparency doesn’t reach this far although I know a bit about the café’s across the leisure remit and such notions as the living wage simply don’t apply.

Given the £2million this makes the pronunciation for the most part redundant but when you have a Labour Group and an ex MP with an eye out for their future why let that get in the way of getting you name in the paper!