Three years ago, on a whim, I ordered some asparagus plants. They were squeezed into a series of containers with roots so long, I struggled to get the soil depth to cover them. All I had to do was to wait three years and when matured, I could start cutting. Amazingly, they all survived their modest surroundings; that is until that snow a few weeks ago. It’s frustrating. Having resisted the desire to cut even a single spear but just allow the fronds to wither, it seems that not all have survived the deep freeze. A holiday in Aigues Mortes in the 80′s started the passion. Miles of sandy, almost desert like soil produced rows of sentinel spears, standing proudly from this grey & hostile earth. We ate asparagus at every meal. Not sure I will be eating my crop at every meal, but the three years have flashed by. The years since the Waterhouse Child Abuse enquiry was held in Ewloe’s former council buildings,under the stern gaze of Sir Ronald Waterhouse, have also flashed by. “Private Eye” was bursting regularly with speculation over who was a Freemason or not! The jury was out on Sir R & other gentlemen …..
How cruel of the camera to capture the Chancellor’s moment of lachrymosity at the funeral! When do you capitulate & acknowledge the wet spot by wiping it furtively away or do you wait for it to dry up on its own so no one sees the quick brushing away? I know how George Osborne felt. I’ve been there in a police uniform. “Maggie” watchers will know she would not have approved of such public blubbering although even she slipped a bit in the not for public sobbing stakes. Her traumatic departure from No 10, after eleven outstanding years was one and at the funeral of Dennis, when her deep grief naturally flowed. She shed a small tear when Mark, favoured, prodigal son was lost in the desert but she mostly maintained her Iron Lady role! She certainly did when she attended Liverpool cathedral for the first Hillsborough memorial service. I bet hers was the only dry eye in the congregation when the organ began to play, “You’ll never walk alone’. As I’ve described in “No way up the Greasy Pole, (1992/3), she marched past the assembled ranks of police officers, myself included, without showing a flicker of emotion. For myself, …..
CHEERS FOR NEW LEADER JOURNALIST. At Hawarden Community Council, Monday night, a young woman slipped in and started taking notes. I sincerely hope that she publishes what she heard as without exception, cllrs are sick of being given the proverbial “two fingers” by the Chief Constable who together with his officers have let us down. The elected members are now on a collision course as every request to ask officers to attend the occasional council meeting is just ignored. For 18 months we’ve tried every tack to keep a dialogue going with our local police. Months ago, a community support officer would attend which always led to a useful exchange of information between cllrs and cops but not now. I’ve tried to stick up for them, saying that their time is too precious to meet every month and let’s try a regular email exchange or meeting with us. So often over the months, the police’s grand promises of improved communications have just fizzled out. The best North Wales police can do is to delegate a temporary inspector( sergeant) to drop us a line. We’ve invited the Police Commissioner to address us but that produced a vague letter from his CE …..
The chamber was full for Friday afternoon budget meeting at County hall on St David’s Day. Even a sick member had been dragged from his bed to bring out the vote. Setting a budget is a legal requirement and hard choices are inevitable. But the Lib Dems had located a pot of money available to be spent and my group, as part of the Opposition tabled an amendment that offered innovative ways of helping the community. Four really good schemes were outlined by Robin Guest the Lib Dem leader, buoyant from the Eastleigh election result. He had to demand that our amendment was handed out for members to read and he was cross that Labour had already quickly circulated amazing changes to their own budget proposals. These late submissions made a mockery of the official budget proposal we had received within the proper committee time frame. Our proposals would enable play schemes to continue as before with help from Town and Community councils as grants had been slashed. We would give a swimming subsidy of £23K to help Flintshire compete at all levels, spend £17K on keeping open public loos in Caerwys and Cilcain and give £96K for a one …..
Never buy a Baxi Combi boiler if you want reliability and peace of mind. I was bounced into believing this was the best on offer some 8 years ago and what a mistake to make. Mother board needed changing within weeks and only by shelling out for annual maintenance, have I kept the CH up and running, or mostly. Last February, almost with identical timing, it chose to break down when I came home from India with a 79 year old lady who had not taken the long trip too well. A cold snap welcomed us and we had no proper heat and no hot water. It took 4 days to get the part and to regain warmth to the house. Stuff of nightmares with a sick friend staying.The Gas engineer who got the boiler working last year, reported if it happened again, Baxi would be asked to modify the part as he saw further problems. And, so it came to pass. When the gas service contract rocketed to £39 a month, a £10 hike, I took cover with my house insurance provider straight away. As soon as the boiler was given its per-inspection on 19th February this year, I …..
Members of Hawarden Community Council were summonsed to attend the 11th February meeting at the institute. Not sure why we are “summonsed” but the turn out was good. First up was further discussion over the long standing battle between the Chief Constable and Council members to make our chief constable more respectful towards those elected to represent the people. He does not answer letters from our Clerk and in desperation, the Chair of the Former North Wales Police Authority was asked to help. Another rebuff. This Bod no longer has any jurisdiction and why not try a new Crime Commissioner. It’s incredible that a chief constable can just ignore letters. Sadly, as the most senior law enforcer in the region, there was surprise when he pulled out of a prestigious prize giving event in January at short notice for no apparent reason. Those who pay police wages are entitled to both a response to a letter and if an invitation is accepted, then a presence is required or a good reason for the call off should be given. The Chief is clearly pleasing the new Police Commissioner. A member of the now defunct Police Authority learnt that Police Commissioner has …..
A Blog in celebration of a very brave and remarkable public servant. Joy, a former Met officer, was a very dear friend who wrote to me years ago when I was fighting my equality case. She asked me for lunch. I was touched by the gesture. I knew of her in the force but she was before my time. We had kept in touch and took the occasional trip together. A circulation problem demanded leg amputation before Christmas but at 93, this was a battle too far, even for Joy. I went to her cremation and service of celebration on 6th February, travelling down the night before and the journey was horrendous. I don’t get on with my Tom Tom and it let me down again driving down to Northampton on a filthy night. Between us, I managed to overshoot the M1 and found myself heading back North up the M5. Pulled into service station asap and two very decent chaps worked out what I had done wrong and how, more importantly to get to my destination. I finally found the Travel Lodge and couldn’t wait to get to my room. Unbelievably, the hotel had been overbooked by at least …..
Chiefs , Police Commissioners and now chaps from abroad?! No wonder ex police chiefs are queuing up to get their letters of protest printed. So much is going on in the police service to sound warning bells and to ask who on earth is advising the Right Honourable Lady? I accept that a pay cut for new recruits sounds a bit harsh but after the lean pay years of the 70′s when bobbies were pushed into moonlighting, the starting salary rocketed and police pay became very good indeed But too much now for these impoverished times! But what about the crazy “Police Commissioners” scheme which has created a whole new meaning for ill thought out, unaccountable Quangos? The cost to elect them is a scandal and since the former legal fat cat of the Welsh Assembly, one barrister Winston Roddick, got the job, what has he done? Where is his office and how can he be contacted? His first major gaffe was to tell the public he did not consider the job to be full time? Who checks what he does and how much per hour will his services cost us? Dreadful error, Theresa! I know that failure of Police …..
The prolonged Christmas break has been good for catching up on normal reading other than those ever attention seeking committee papers. The Kindle has been dusted down and loaded up with a variety of E books and all sections of the daily paper browsed at length. I’ve knocked of “Wolf Hall” and “Bring up the Bodies”, both by Booker Double prize winner, Hilary Mantel. But back to what the papers say! Three events of 50 years ago, the dreadful winter, the all pervading smog and the Profumo affair have been well aired in my newspaper this week. The winter of 62-63 was truly grim and snow fell until March one paper recollected. I couldn’t remember that level of detail only that most of the winter was unforgettable as it was the first I had experienced on the streets as a Metropolitan bobby I joined in April 1962 and the summer gave way to being trained as a bobby; all nicely ready to hit the beat as the year came to a close. I was given Christmas Day off but had to be back on Boxing Day and at the age of 22, was faced with the daunting journey from Norfolk …..
Bobbies are never keen on making notes and will do the minimum if not at all to record an event. So I eyed that detailed & highly polished account of the “Pleb-gate”journal that appeared soon after the 19th September encounter with suspicion. Pure cunningly strewed “verbals”, I thought. Bits of the truth mixed skilfully with the embellished bits! The carefully crafted account of Andrew Mitchell’s run-in with the gate keepers had two goals; one to ‘goose’ the chief whip and the other to see him off if, as the script writers feared, this powerful peddle pushing minister decided to seek revenge against uppity gate-keeping Plods and ring the Commissioner. Surely not? Now its clear which side the Commissioner is on; the troops of course, but the bobbies weren’t to know that! I can’t wait to find out the whole truth. Who decided to send the Ruislip email? Who worked on the wording? Didn’t they know that every email is traceable? Had they forgotten that CCTV was running and witnesses would be captured. “Mr Helpful Damning Emailer”, the officer who pretended to be at the scene has been “goosed” too by the gate-keepers. The police need a Christmas miracle to magic …..