Category: Uncategorized

A mess of our own creation

Britain seems to be toatlly unprepared for any level of extreme weather, and it seems year on year we have the same excuse "we are not used to this in our country so we don't know what to do when it happens.". I have an answer to that, "bollocks".

I am not that old, okay I am starting to get older, but not that old. The only really severe snap I can recall aside from this current one was in the early 1980s, and yes I can recall some levels of chaos then. I don't however recall every pavement being iced to buggery and every train stopping, also schools (mostly the newer schools) losing their heating control. Certainly there was a level of chaos but it was meidated by a few other measures.
Firstly there used to be yellow grit boxes almost everywhere. The house I was born and raised in was near a junction. There was a grit box on that junction and one on the corner of the street at the other end of the road. They were everywhere, now the only place you see them is in Welsh valleys or in Scotland (who of course get more spells of severe weather). These grit boxes were for the use of everyday people to aid them in weather such as this. They would often sit unused (except as bins/ashtrays) for years. But boy could we use them on every street now! I have no idea why they disappeared:

Cost: really how much would it cost to leave them there for years? A lot less than the cost of the current situation I'd guess.
Vandalism: Make them out of steel then and I don't think grit burns.
Complacency: Ah the British disease.

Public transport: if we can call it that since it is by majority privately screwed-up, has suffered embarrassing displays of fail. A train service was rescued by a, get this, replica steam train. So a design that was -ancient- beat the modern super-trains we have been forced to subsidise. Bus services cancelled. So why don't they have snow-chains for the tyres. I clearly recall those being used, is there a law or ruling that prevents them now? Did all the bus services retire their chains? Or did they simply not restock and lay aside contingency plans for situations like this?

Schools. Well this is an easy one. The high school I went to didn't close in the cold snap in the 80s because it had three janitors. A senior and two junior janitors. One of whom was on the night shift so kept the heating/boilers going at night to keep the school warmn and to prevent failed systems. They also gritted pathys/playgrounds. I remember playing rugby on a pitch that had two feet of snow as a border where it had been cleared for us (we helped as part of our lesson). But schools don't have those anymore, they have automated systems that seem to fail in any adverse clime, and security guards who patrol and don't really care about what happens when they go off shift (they are neither paid for that, nor trained for that – this is not blaming them, they get enough stick).

The final element in all this is the Litigation Factor. I am reliably informed (though don't take this as read IANAL) that the council often don't grit the pavements for fear of litigation. If you slip on an un-gritted pavement it is an accident, but, if the council take some action that you then deemed to have 'failed' you and allowed you to slip then you can potentially sue. The same is said for schools. If the school clears the pavements and opens they take responsibility. If you slipped thirty years ago you'd get a trip to the hospital, the school would apologise and caution other children to be careful and that would be it, now there is the worry that the "Accident -Shite-Line" will be called in by parents seeking reparation.

If you've had an accident, no matter whose fault it is, you can f*ck someone in a court room and make us all some money – turn a natural chance occurance into someone else's failure and cost.

Perhaps we deserve this and I should stop bitching…

</rant>

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Spoiler Alert, too f*cking difficult for you?

<rant>

Dear people on Twitter.

I know you want to be the first to say something, so do I.

I know you share your thoughts on things, so do I.

I know you like to boast when something happens in your life, so do I.

I know that in the increasing noise of Twitterspace, the Twitterverse where Twitterati gather (and this makes me sound like a Twatter) you need to say it quickly….

But….

You are the c*nt who just told everyone Bruce Willis was a ghost and that Darth was Luke's father, well done dickhead.

I have now had Avatar and Doctor Who ruined for me by people I genuinely like who couldn't use the word SPOILER to warn me. DOCTOR WHO SPOILER, AVATAR SPOLIER, what did that waste too many of your f*cking 140 words you arsehole.

Well done.

Not even going to spitefully remove you from my watched list, or answer on Twitter in some angry way as my argument is not with you, directly, it is with this behaviour.

Twitter may be new(ish), this way of behaving isn't.

Stop it.

You're being a c*nt.

</rant>

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I feel Christmassy…

I am currently on the M42 (not in a literal sense, I am in the back of a vehicle on the M42 using a mobile connect card) as part of the annual visit family extended Christmas, that this year involves a trip to Paris which will include staying at Paris Disney (my wife loves Disney and enough said).
Like last year this is a few days journey to several places, which always involves Boxing Day (or near to) in Wales, New Year's in either London-area or Lancaster-area and post New Year with family near Edinburgh. Unlike last year though I feel more Christmassy, and I am wondering why.

I think I can trace this backwards in post-chronological order:

Yesterday: RATM became the Xmas No.1, I am not really going to cover why I think this is a good thing or a bad, I downloaded the single and support the Shelter charity so that explains my sympathies. I have read a lot of material from the papers and enjoyed the whole debate, but it is a good xmas thing, for once the odd nature of the British public voted with its cash and made a song No.1 in the charts when for one reason or another it didn't deserve to be. Just like Christmas songs of my youth, Mr Blobby and Sir Cliff included. Christmas is all about singles races, it always used to be between the standard Christmas crooners and the outsider who releases something mad (Iron Maiden – Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter anyone?), so this highlighted that to me. And yes Simon, we are all Scrooges. But at least he learned humility and humanity at Christmas, how will you fare?

Saturday: It snowed in Lancaster. That may not seem odd to a country covered in the white stuff, but Lancaster traditionally stays wet when all about it is white. Something to do with closeness to the sea, prevailing winds and a curse. So the covering of white gave a lovely Yule feeling to the town and brought a glimpse of xmas to the world. It felt like Christmas, the world is white.

Thursday: This was the start. We had carol singers. Now for years I have despaired of these annual scroungers with their off-key voices, manipulative pleading stares and wishes of Merry Christmas in one tired and oft-repeated verse. Give me a different hymn, or a better song I would often bemoan, not this tired wishing me of a merry time, I am a grumpy sod, I don't want to be wished happy. Part of this stems from a youth spent in a choir, when we went on the Xmas scrounge we borrowed surplace and hymn book and gave each house a separate song, but we were gits that way. But this year was a pleasant surprise. Two girls, no more than eleven years old, dressed in christmassy garb, sang the whole of Away in a Manger with actions and in sync. True their voices were still not mature and their motives for cash, but who cares. They gave me effort. They gave me a whole hymn. They had actions. it was a performance and it was rare for recent years. I felt lifted by this and I rewarded them well. They probably learned this for some School performance, but that mattered not, what was similar was the extra effort, it reminded me of the past.

Maybe I am getting old and harkening for a time gone by?

Nah, am I bollox. I like the modern age. I like computers and video games, I like lasers and a Bond with balls and HD screen and all. But I also like a personal touch. I like there to be a sense of community, of people caring and acting on that care. I also like when it snows at Christmas. I like this time of year. Of seeing family and friends and drinking perhaps a little too much beer. So these little things makes it a little more Christmas, a little more special.

Oh and Mr Cowell, Bah Humbug sir, and a Happy Christmas.

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