Archive | October, 2014

GOTHAM? Riveting Viewing On a Monday Night!

28 Oct

Well then…did you see Gotham last night? Channel 5 at 9.00pm Nope!!!! Well neither did I. I intended to. I really did! But I thought I’d watch Panorama on BBC which started at 8.00pm. It usually lasts an hour. Perfect!

A dark city where even darker deeds occur!

A dark city where even darker deeds occur!

Riveting. A two hour dissection of the Haringey Council and the Baby P affair with more villains coming out of the woodwork than anything Gotham could offer. Dodgy misinformation from the Police. Ed Balls clearly trying to wriggle his way out of any responsibility. ZOK! The Sun organising a witch hunt, blame, violent anger, broken lives, David Cameron using the opportunity to his advantage and talking utter dribble and a small number of people being hounded by a mob who preferred to go for the easiest option of accusation rather than seeking out root causes (chronic underfunding) and rectification (increased funding). KERRANG! That’s putting it very simply and in amongst this melting pot was the earlier Victoria Climbie case the fall out of which made working for social services in Haringey as appealing as hand washing ebola safety clothing. BAM!

A kick to the Balls!

A kick to the Balls!

Highlight of the programme was the Met Police having failed to fulfil their obligations and ignoring obvious warning signs being exposed as having briefed ravenous journalists that the real bogey men were social service. KAPPOW! Posh boy Cameron popped up going on about a feckless 17 year old mum on benefits and incompetent social workers. She was 28 and OFSTED had just found Haringey to have made substantial improvements. Ballsy had a go at Cameron and was then shown trying his best to stay mates with The Sun! Sycophantic parasites the both of them! And The Sun..well!

Kerrack!!!!Worst of all was that Doctor (wearing a head scarf) so clearly not one of the gang as far as The Sun was concerned ! BIFF! She examined Baby P and failed to…FAILED TO notice he had a broken back. She failed! Ooooh it got Sun readers lathered up. But then a highly qualified doctor comes along and states categorically that having examined Peter’s small corpse the spinal damage occurred after the doctors examination. That nugget escaped the Sun pitchfork wielding mob. The doctors life collapsed. Total! It woz that Sun wot dun it! WHAM! Also ignored was the fact that an Ofsted report praising Haringey for the turnaround of its care service was conveniently shelved in eventual favour of one that was much more lurid and damning. Cue more anger from The Sun.

Twat! Serious twat!

Twat! Serious twat!

And then a heavily compromised and rushed report on potential failures of Haringey turns out to have been through 14 re-writes with the final versions being worked on by people not involved in the investigation. And all to suit one purpose. Ballsy turns up at a press conference and “sacks” Sharon Shoesmith. THWACK! Even though she doesn’t work for him. I’ve been told not to use bad language but Ed Balls really is bag of luke warm cow shit!

The previously highly regarded Mrs Shoesmith without any help from Batman and having to put up with death threats from Sun readers digs away at the mountain of lies and in true superhero fashion starts to be able to play a part in exposing a whole series of lies, deceptions, atrocious attempts to denigrate and boost paper sale. KERRUNCH! Sharon Shoesmith admitted failures in an open manner and she emerged from the sad story as having integrity which is more than can be said for Balls!

OOYAH! And that was it. Two hours of exceptional high quality investigative journalism giving people damaged by vested interests and a culture of connivance the chance to be heard. I recall at the time feeling overwhelming sadness but aware that people who may have been able to help identify corporate failures were being hung out to dry when it was very clear that they had gone into Haringey at a time when most people were leaving. SPLATT! Some agencies like the Govt with Balls in departmental charge and the Police clearly aware of their failings sought not to sit round the table but to stitch others up and retreat into the wings. Saddest of all was the fact that Sharon Shoesmith and colleagues were able to state that what happened to Baby Peter wasn’t an isolated incident from the view of front line professionals. Neither the first nor last! And as the credits rolled after an absorbing two hours the basic facts and figures on how many children had died in similar circumstances just made me numb!

Sharon Shoesmith! Integrity, commitment and compassion there for all to see!

Sharon Shoesmith! Integrity, commitment and compassion there for all to see!

Gotham is repeated on Friday. This Panorama needs top be repeated every night till we all realise the extent to which we are misinformed!


The Cunningham Amendment 2015

27 Oct

After something of a cloak and dagger / spies in the night series of clues and red herrings I was met outside a Norwich chip shop and escorted over various fields and a playground complete with a slide, then through a gap in a hedge and into a large basment / garage where I was greeted by…the team of anarchists who keep us all aware not to take life too seriously by publishing The Cunningham Amendment three times. It’s a spirited little tome packed with witty comment, absurdity, quips, pages that you have to pull out on a string, issues held together with a lolly stick and an elastic band…wonderful stuff and some natty cover art!  The Cunningham Amendment is like no other magazine as it is composed and produced using rescued type (little metal letters) and ink from yesteryear and then printed up on Letterpress that you operate with your arms rather than a plug. I had assumed that the Good Doctor who acts as chief compositor i.e. putting the type into printing plates while the other folk write material down in large books would keep all the pages set up to print further copies if say during Anarchist Bookfair season they ran out of the latest edition but no! each edition is limited to X amount of copies, once a particular page is printed the plate is stripped down, the little metal letters placed back in their box and when the latest issue is gone that’s it!  I did rather foolishly ask if there was a back issues department. And there wasn’t. However the Good Doctor did dig a few spares out from across close on 40 years of printing!

Its a facinating process, a genuine labour of love and produced by people that care about producing and sharing the written word and something to be treasured. More than that The Cunningham Amendment shows that if you play your part, by appreciating something and letting it be known that the output of others is valued you too are doing your bit. In itself an act of subversion in some eyes. You might have to read that a few times to get my drift…I certainly did!

Plied with tea from a bone china cup with the Anarchist symbol on the side, we chatted for a nice hour or so before other duties beckoned and I made my complex and totally fictitious route back to where my 1970s Spacehopper was moored before commencing my journey home! But here as a sort of filler item are a few words from the Good Doctor Himself! Actually they are a bit lower down but here’s a nice bit of TCA artistry! And if interested in opening your own copy of The Cunningham Amendment you might want to start by emailing us for more details!


Letterpress involves long hours alone. Every part of this ancient craft is unique. And it’s only the compositor who can sort the problems that crop. There are no help- lines, software or replacement parts. However, once the problems have been sorted, a lot of the work can be repetitive. Like lone yachtsmen and desert hermits it is work that has an effect on the psyche. It’s easy to get lost in day-dreams. I rely a lot on music for company. I discovered years ago the magic and the complexity of opera. I can sometimes plan an act of an opera to coincide with a particular printing task.

Extended repetitive movements continue to cause damage to a variety of my bodily joints. Music helps in the physical breaks.  At particular points in the opera I can begin vigorously conducting along to a heartily sung aria. As far as I know no one sees me doing this and share it with you under conditions of confidentiality.

But the music is not always classical. Taste and mood change with the work.  I always say that if you don’t like rock n’ roll then you haven’t got a soul. My sound system dates from yesteryear and I occasionally visit charity shops where it’s possible to pick up cassettes for 10p a go. Once when printing I was pondering over a storyline about a church whose tea urn had been laced with something special. In my head I had the vicar chasing the lady on flower rota; the choir adopting the lotus position; and then, on a cassette playing rock from the 50’s, I heard “Happy Organ” by Dave Baby Cortez (try it on youtube!). Wow. I was immediately into Miss Timpson doing an imaginative striptease down the church aisle.

Life can be pretty exciting in the garage.

—The Good Doctor
The R. Supward Press Spring 2012

Can You Help Identify this Burglar!

22 Oct

Yes folk we are teaming up with Bedfordshire Police and the piss poor Times and Citizen newspaper where we stole…lifted…nicked…purloined the photo from to see if anyone can help identify this burglar. Take a good hard look, maybe the clothes, the hairstyle, anything. If you do then let us know and you may win an award from Crimestoppers. Equally you may win an award from the Royal Institute for the Blind! Or asked to join the X Men as you’ve obviously got something going for you that we haven’t!

I think it's the right way up!

I think it’s the right way up!

The Bedford Diary..In Which Debs Traverses the Length of Tavistock St!

20 Oct

Tavistock Street doesn’t enjoy the best of reputations. During Tudor times, the butchers did their slaughtering in Butcher Row or the Shambles (roughly where St Pauls Square is now). They were told to clear away the “inwards and entrails” daily, but it was only taken as far as Offal Lane – the old name for Tavistock Street. Cynics would say that it’s been downhill ever since.   You sometimes hear people say that it is “letting the side down” – like a child caught picking its nose at a wedding – but Bedford isn’t exactly top drawer in the first place. Still our local leaders crave respectability – a sign of insecurity?

Robbery in action! Even the robbers are scared to come out when its dark!

Robbery in action! Even the robbers are scared to come out when its dark!

Leading north from the town centre, Tavistock Street is on the A6, therefore the first part of Bedford that a lot of visitors get to see. Maybe that’s why the local dignitaries are worried about the impression it gives – never mind that locals like me are happy with it just as it is, thank you very much. A conservation area, Tavistock Street has many interesting early Victorian buildings, mixed with infill of varying degrees of sympathy with the older stock.

Enjoy a hearty breakfast! A very popular place at the far end!

Enjoy a hearty breakfast! A very popular place at the far end!

Starting at the town end, on the left we see the high wall of the northern boundary of Bedford Prison. Outsiders are often shocked to hear that Bedford has a fully-functioning category B prison in its centre, but the locals hardly give it a thought. When the site was chosen for the first prison building over 200 years ago, this was on the edge of the town – and like everywhere else, the population grew, the town expanded and the prison was swallowed up.  Famous inmates include James Hanratty, and for all you fans of Big Brother (I know you’re out there) Jade Goody’s father. On the other side, tucked behind much older buildings, a 1970’s multi-storey car park widely derided as a white elephant since it was built. Situated just that little bit too far from the shops, in the days when all on-road parking was free; it has never been well used so is regarded as a money loser. The area immediately to the north was demolished in the early 1970’s. Comprising streets of two up two downs thrown up in the mid-19th century without foundations, these houses were not missed. Older readers might remember the scene in Some Mothers do ‘ave em, when Frank moves house, shuts the door for the last time and the house collapses in on itself. That was reportedly filmed there.  

Further up, a YMCA built a few years ago to replace a defunct petrol station. Another reason to view Tavistock Street with suspicion – it’s full of young people, and as we all know young people are always up to no good. Does any other country fear and dislike its young people as much as the British? Just a thought.

The Private Shop for good hard core porn. Nice building as well!

The Private Shop for good hard core porn. Nice building as well!

The main reason for the less than salubrious reputation is because it houses the towns one sex, I mean “Private” shop. On the ground floor of a fine three story terrace, on the corner of a square whose houses would fetch millions in London; it strikes an incongruous note. Time was, you could always rely on seeing a man scurrying out, head down and with a parcel under his arm. The internet has put paid to all that – I can’t remember the last time I saw someone entering or leaving the building, but still it limps on. For a short time there was another sex shop across the road, much larger and with a bold fascia that left the onlooker with no doubt as to what lay inside. A sign boasted that the premises had a discrete rear entrance for the faint-hearted, but it wasn’t enough to save it. Finally, the sauna and massage parlour above a fried chicken take away. From the decrepit state of the window frames, it looks like it’s not exactly making money hand over fist either.

KFC and something spicy upstairs! Rear entry...

KFC and something spicy upstairs! Rear entry…

This ex-sex shop is now an Indian restaurant, the other industry Tavistock Street is well known for.   Rusholme in Manchester is well known for its curry mile, and Tavistock Street in Bedford could be said to have its very own curry quarter mile. Doesn’t quite trip off the tongue, but a marketing opportunity has been missed there.

One of the local councillors is quite sniffy about the area, recently stating that the signs above the convenience stores and Indian restaurants are “garish”, implying that they needed toning down. Of course they are, they’re supposed to be – they’re trying to attract customers. What did she want, a tasteful makeover with National Trust colours? Another example of the tendency these days to want everything gentrified, tidied up, dare I say looking middle class.

Near the top is a forgotten about side street I sometimes wander along when I feel like trying to recreate the past – Tavistock place. Now mainly used to access a health centre car park and old peoples’ flats, it has a handful of modest recent low-rise housing, Victorian lock-ups and an interesting old terrace of five houses, which have back doors but no front doors. I once tried to have a good look through the window of the one without net curtains as discretely as possible and got yelled at, which serves me right I suppose. Tavistock Place was also the site of Bedford’s last doss house, closed in the mid 1950’s.

We've become so lazy we are re-using old photo's from two years back!

We’ve become so lazy we are re-using old photo’s from two years back!

Tavistock Street has many thriving businesses, some of which have been there for decades, not bad going for an area supposed to be poor and dangerous, full of the young and ethnic minorities and crime and people who keep irregular hours. I’ve walked down it at least twice a day for the last eighteen years, and see a completely different place to the one referred to by the scaremongers in trembling tones. Where else would you see the last workman’s café in Bedford (first picture) next door to a large Georgian house containing a solicitor, then two elderly cottages? Hands off, I say!


Editors chance to add something so I feel as if I’ve contributed something!


And another piece of Bedford’s past revealed thanks to Debs who is very often Out and About! By the way Jade Goody’s dad walked out of Bedford Prison unlike James Hanratty who was carried out having been dead close on four years. After being hanged (April 1962) he was interred near the wall, dug up a few years later as they wanted to start an allotment then taken to his Aunt’s grave near Watford.  Despite sufficient evidence that a Peter Alphon was the real dastardly A6 villain shoddily stored DNA evidence that wouldn’t be admissible today has to date prevented Hanratty from being pardoned. For further light entertaining reading, nice with a cuppa and Hob Nobs* try “Who Killed Hanratty” by Paul Foot!


*other biscuits may available.


London Anarchist Bookfair 2014

17 Oct

Oooh! Before I head southwards there’s just time to remind you that tomorrow is the 2014 London Anarchist Bookfair down the very far end of the road from Whitechapel! Always a hoot, here’s the poster and Class War are holding a special er…get together near by at 6.00pm!  By the way you might be aware that I’ve taken issue with these sad oddballs that lurk on street corners with speed camera’s (Community Speedwatch) I found out this week that one of these good citizens was asked to leave Bedford Hospital for being drunk and gobby during visiting hours on a ward and they’ve also had a bad habit of using cocaine! People in glass houses?



If Symptoms Persist……

15 Oct

Take with food! Look I haven’t been well. Really bad cold. Sniffling and wheezing, where does it all come from I ask. Been to the chemist. Usual third degree as they know I take insulin so they won’t sell me Lep Sips though you can get them from the paper shop down the road no questions asked. Actually I don’t “take “ insulin, I inject it with a very natty pen thing into my thigh so when the opportunity arises in polite company I can say with zeal that I can see the positive side of injecting drugs. Contains Paracetemol. I’ve been looking at the Borough Council website and …ta da! There’s a meeting of the Rural Affairs Committee coming up and I guarantee it will be a hoot! Seriously, you wouldn’t want to miss it. The last one in April went on for ten minutes.

AH yes Mr Bypass you are looking much better!

AH yes Mr Bypass you are looking much better!

A full ten minutes. Do not take with any other Paracetemol based product. Ten staggering minutes of hot topics to entertain the throng that consisted of just three people, Dave the Mayor, Cllr Muttley Royden and CllrDoug McMurdo (and some council bod taking notes who must have had a real sore arm by the end of the night. Do not repeat the dose within four hours. This next meeting may be even thinner on the ground as Cllr Doug has had to vacate his position of note while he defends himself on charges of whacking some youth up in rural Sharnbrook but being honest that could have really enlivened the Rural Affiars meeting. May cause drowsiness. I once thought it would be funny if the Rural Affaiirs Committee was exactly that…a detailed list of who was rumoured to be humping who in the country park at night and whether dubious Borough Council staff members were using council purchased surveillance equipment to film proceeding, you may know who I mean. But no…this coming meeting will be looking grant fact it seems to a shorter agenda than the April one which in case I didn’t tell you lasted all of ten minutes. If symptoms persist please consult your doctor. The January meeting lasted for ten minutes as well. Pass that bottle of Night Nurse Debs! ….Please!