Friday, 13 November 2009

Duck there's a parking warden about!!

Hi folks, I have been quite for a while now but I really thought I needed to comment on the stupidity of some Civil Enforcement Officers (The parking Mafia). I was quite annoyed to hear they had ticketed people attending the remembrance day parade in Walsall but then last night and article in the local paper made me exclaim 'How bloody stupid can you get'? The missus immediately said 'what's wrong now'? and I told her that a woman had been booked and fined £75 for feeding the ducks in the park.
Now while I reckon this in itself is bad enough the warden then adds insult to injury by saying the child with the woman could feed the ducks because they were too young to prosecute!
Whatever happened to sanity and common sense? The warden reckoned that feeding the ducks was not allowed because it attracted vermin - if that is the case should there not be a total ban regardless of age and isn't there an element of stupidity if fining one but allowing another - either you want to stop the activity or you don't - moving the goalposts doesn't work!!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Parking Mafia

I can not believe the activities of the new civil enforcement officers (traffic wardens) as witnessed both physically today and as read in the Express and Star.
There was a two vehicle accident just outside our office today with a white van going into the back of a car and doing some damage to both vehicles. It appeared the van was not driveable (not sure this is a proper word) so it was pushed up onto the footpath to allow the traffic to flow. It had been there for about 30 minutes when along came a stormtrooper wearing the uniform of a civil enforcement officer and slapped a ticket on the van. It should have been pretty obvious to even a three year old that the van was badly damaged and there was still some debris on the road.
Then tonight my wife was reading the paper and said there was an article about buses belonging to the Black Diamond company being booked for being broken down and in one case being booked while at a bus stop loading and unloading - you couldn't make it up could you?

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Swimming Lessons

I mentioned swimming lessons in my previous post when I was talking about the Gala baths in West Bromwich. We had dabbled a little at my Junior School where we had a quite small pool where a length was about as big as a width of a normal pool and I think it might not have been more than 4 foot deep.
I never really took to water (even for washing according to my Mom) so found swimming lessons a little difficult to say the least.
When we went to senior school, Hill Top High, we used to go by bus to the Gala Baths at West Bromwich and on the first visit we were asked if we could swim. There was a bridge over the baths and those who could swim went to the bigger side and those who couldn't went to the smaller side.
I remember the teacher who will remain nameless came along and asked if I could swim - I said 'No sir' and he promptly pushed me in. I dreaded swimming lessons after that and never did learn to swim so his methodology didn't work with me

Friday, 2 October 2009

The Public

I notice that Fat Prophet popped into the Public over in West Bromwich yesterday and thought it was an interesting building with some potential. I get the impression that the Public is a bit like Walsall's art gallery in that some folk love it but the majority absolutely hate it - I always think its an interesting looking building and quite colourful, unlike the drab slab of concrete we have in Walsall.
If I am honest though I can understand some of the ill feeling against a building that has cost an enormous amount of money with it seems no real purpose in a town that lacks certain other amenities such as a swimming pool or a cinema. I could not believe that the Gala Baths where our school used to go to learn to swim is now a car park - I don't remember an outcry like the ones about Tipton or Coseley baths. Now! swimming lessons could well be the subject for another post.
I may have to pay a visit myself to the Public so I can see if Fat Prophet was just wearing some rose tinted glasses.

I think I will have to be careful this is two posts in two days

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Art or rubbish

I was reading an article in a local paper earlier this evening about a man who had made an art collection out of rubbish. I really do think they should put it in Walsall art gallery along with some of the other rubbish that's in there.
I have been a number of times to see what is in there but every time I have gone they have literally had rubbish in the place - on one occasion it was loads of sweeping brooms standing upside down in one room; on another occasion it was dead rats nailed on to sticks that were stuck in house bricks and on another occasion it was a load of old hospital equipment.
On top of that they have the Garman Ryan collection which is supposed to be a really good collection of art items. Now I know that people may tell me that art is subjective but I can not help thinking that I wouldn't have most of what I saw in the art gallery in my garden shed.
Give me a Constable, or a Lowry or a Turner any time.
I have also been to Dudley art gallery and few times and think there collection is much better and I found it far more interesting - one of these days I must try Wednesbury and see if they have art or rubbish.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Patriotism - why not?

I have just read a letter in our local paper in which the writer is saying we should be more patriotic and I do have to say I agree with the thought completely. I think part of the reason the writer is writing is the Last Night of the Proms which of course features many of the really well known stirring tunes from Britain - Land of hope and glory, Jerusalem, Rule Britannia, Fantasia on British sea songs etc. I was looking at a CD the other day which featured these and many other great tunes and I thought I would like this to play in the car and sing along to.
I often look at news items on TV from various places around the world and notice how fervently patriotic the majority of people are - why can't we be like this? Why do we have to worry so much about what other people think? Do other people care what we think? Yesterday I saw a number of cars carrying large Pakistani flags as young men celebrated Eid Mubarrak and their roots. It didn't bother me at all and I don't think anybody else I saw was bothered either, but if I were to drive round with a large Union Flag hanging off my car I am sure someone would accuse me of being racist.
While I am not anti Royal the only thing I would say is we could do with changing our National Anthem and going for something with a bit more life in it or at least jazzing up the present tune so it has a bit of go in it.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


Now there's a question to pose - what? It could mean almost anything! It could be a question that is single or multi faceted. It really is pretty open ended and it might be that my reader could think of a few what's of their own, but here are one or two that I thought I might pose this morning just before I get ready to go back to work.
What is happening with the weather? We should still be getting some sunshine and warmth but as I look out of the window it is another dull fairly cool day (12.5 degrees according to the thermometer in my car).
What has happened to indicators on cars? Do they not put them on cars now or have drivers lost the ability to reach out to that little stalk on the steering column and just move it up or down.
What is happening to me as I get older and suffer road rage on an almost daily basis as I see the idiotic antics of some drivers?
Why do kids scream so much? I live next to a park and the past week or so there have been a number of occasions when you could easily think a child was being murdered if the amount and level of screaming is anything to go by. The sad thing is if someone was really in trouble we would not know and would probably ignore them.
Now this may be something unique to the area I live in but here goes - why do very young children stand on window ledges apparently unattended by parents and often with the window open (an accident waiting to happen). Sorry that was a why instead of a what but it is still a good question.
What has happened to taking NO for an answer? I had a young man knock my door yesterday from Talk Talk who was trying to get me to change my telephone supplier - I ended up having to be almost rude to him to get the message across that I was quite happy with my current supplier who has served me well for many years.
Well there's a few things to be going on with and I notice that time is getting on so I better get ready to go to work.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Nostalgia rules Ok!

Following on from my previous post which took at least one reader down memory lane I thought my reader might be interested to know about a museum that specialises in days gone by. It is in Craven arms and is called the Land of Lost Content which could mean contentment or lots of belongings - the name is taken from the poem A Shropshire Lad by A.E.Housman.
It really was like going back to my childhood and youth - they even had some Bayko in the toy section along with lots of other things - both my wife and I enjoyed it immensely and we had lunch there as well. We spent a very pleasant four hours in there and how often we said 'I remember that' or 'We had one of those'.
For more information check out their website here .

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Bayko Building System

Sometimes life is a little strange - one day last week a chap at work was talking to me over lunch about toys when we were young and one of the the things he mentioned was Bayko, a building system that I always enjoyed playing with. It was tiles of different colours that slid down copper rods that were put into the baseplate and the house I built with mine and then knocked down to start again was really good. Imaging our surprise when on Friday night there was an article in the Express and Star (local evening paper) about Bayko and wow were there some interesting buildings in that article?
The other building system we talked about was Betta Builda which was similar to Lego but never really seemed to catch on and I have to be honest very few people seem to remember it so I was pleased to find somebody else who did.
Well better stop reminiscing as its time to get ready for work!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009


I am having a little bit of a struggle with the use of this word recently in press coverage of things and wonder if we have devalued the word a little as we seem to use it so glibly.
I have noted that every time one of our armed forces loses their life they are hailed as heroes when often it seems that the deaths happen when there is no actual fighting taken place and no heroic deed in the old fashioned sense. For me heroes are the sort of people who fought at the battle of Rorke's drift where the highest number of Victoria crosses were awarded, or the likes of Douglas Bader who battled against immense odds to continue flying. I am concious of how tragic each death is and do feel that it is even more tragic where we are involved in a war we shouldn't be.
The latest thing that made me question the use of this word was an item in the local paper last night about a lady who had been stung and gone into anaphylactic shock and her husband had gone to fetch a neighbour and had saved her life. The paper said he was a hero and no doubt to his good lady he is a hero but is this the right word to use for him - perhaps not that long ago we would have called him a 'life saver'.
Well over to you dear reader - any thoughts on this?

I've seen the light....

Well at least the signs on the Broadway - I was taking my wife to work this morning and there was a car coming the opposite way which I thought was doing quite a bit over 30 as it passed me so I looked in my mirror and there it was the sign lit up saying 30 mph, slow down and showing the vehicle registration.
This must have been someone who didn't know the signs were there or thought they weren't working so it was safe to exceed the speed limit - he may not like the envelope he gets shortly!

Monday, 3 August 2009

What to say?

I can't believe its been almost two weeks since I posted anything - I thought that I would be posting at least once a day and sometimes more than once with the amount of strange things that go on, especially in Walsall, but nothing has really caught my eye in the news and made me feel like ranting.
Perhaps this is a good thing or perhaps it means I am mellowing in my old age - I am not sure but I doubt it will last very long, there's bound to be something soon that really winds me up and I will be able to make some comment.
I suppose all I can say is keep watching and thanks to those folk who are visiting me pretty regularly you never know one of these times you might visit and I will have said something really interesting or controversial.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

It's a miracle!!!

Well it's finally happened the new ANPR cameras on the Broadway are working (I think) At least there was a little red light that came on as I approached the camera this morning, but to really test them I would need to drive too fast and risk one of those wonderful speeding fines and three points on my licence - don't think I will risk it but I will let you know if I actually see them work.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Useless Signs and damned expensive

Well folks the signs on the Broadway are still not working - at the end of June the council intimated they would be working early next month which means July. We are now 21 days into July and still no sign of the £15,000 each signs working - I wonder if the ones in Aldridge are working - I must have a ride over there to see.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Oh What a beautiful morning

Well it's Monday, the sun is shining and I have been awake now for almost four hours having been awakened by the dawn chorus. I really do think this is a great time of the day - there is hardly any noise, traffic has been fairly light but is getting a little heavier and most folk in our street are probably still in bed. The only thing to spoil the day is that I have to go to work shortly but I will try to hang on until the weekend when I break up for a week's holiday. I am not going anywhere but may do a couple of day trips to Borth and Skegness as we have friends living in Borth and I really like Skeggy.
Any way I was thinking again about when we were kids and how lots of houses in our street had red doorsteps and window ledges which had to be polished with that wonderful red polish from a company called Mansion. They always looked good to me but didn't they make a mess of your dusters?, and weren't we always frightened to walk on the step the day it had been polished for fear of leaving a mark. You don't see many red steps these days but then I doubt if you can get the polish unless of course the betterware man does it.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Betterware Man

We had a Betterware catalogue drop through our door the other day and it reminded me of when we were kids and the Betterware man used to come round door to door with his little brown suitcase full of interesting bits and bobs. I remember one of them giving me a small tin of lavender polish when I was about 8 or 9 but I am not really sure looking back what they thought I would do with it.
When the guy comes back to collect perhaps I might ask him if he has any samples and see if I still get a little tin of polish.

Still no sign

Well the signs on the Broadway are still not working although it appears that everything is in place for them to work. Another post has been erected on each side of the road with what looks like the ANPR camera on top but at the moment there is no little red light on them to indicate we have power.
I do hope that the extra post and the new camera have not been charged for on top of the already high cost of these signs. I would hope, but I won't hold my breath that the contract had some sort of penalty clause in it or a stipulation that the amount paid was for a set up that would be up and running.
I have no doubt I will return to this topic in the not too distant future.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Sickness at Walsall Council.

I have been reading about sickness levels at Walsall Council and as usual there is a very bad picture painted which would suggest that the average council employee has 12 days a year off sick.
What really annoys me as a former council employee is that no mention is ever made of those employees who never have a day off sick. In one office I worked in there were four of us who hadn't had a day off sick in six years and yet every year we were tarred with the brush of having and average of x number of days off a year.
How about someone giving some credit to those employees for whom this is the case - I am sure there will be a number of folk and I suspect they are as upset by the inference as I used to be.

Wonder signs!!

Well the signs on the Broadway are still not working and today I have driven along there and two new posts have sprouted up with what appears to be the cameras that were on top of the signs on top of the new posts.
I am glad I don't live on that stretch of road as none of the 'street furniture' is exactly nice to look at. Will keep you updated.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Pink Elephant!

I see the burghers of West Bromwich are having another meeting to decide the fate of that monstrous pink elephant 'The Public'. I have never thought it would work and as a West Bromwich lad originally I would have thought the money could have been better spent on a swimming pool - I couldn't believe the gala baths had gone when I drove through there a few weeks ago.

New items

I have added some other blogs which I have come across and have been looking at recently which have a connection to our locality and may interest anyone reading this blog.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

A little poem

It's been a while since I wrote any poetry but felt a little inspired to give it a try - not sure its up to much but at least the ends of the lines rhyme.

What a lovely day it was 'til someone lit a fire,
I had to close my windows, it really raised my ire!
The smoke was black and acrid it really made me cough,
I felt like going round their house and knocking something off!
I rang the local fire brigade but they refused to come,
It made me want to go round there and kick them up the bum.
But wait, it's started raining, oh what a flipping shame,
I've notice though the fires gone out and the sun's come out again.

Lovely new road - but......

Well not quite a new road but certainly a new surface which is very smooth, I am talking about Heath Road in Darlaston which has recently been resurfaced. Prior to the work it was an absolute bone shaker of a road to travel along but now it is superb except for one thing (well possibly two if you count the flooding that still occurs) why oh why haven't they resurfaced the crossroads at the traffic lights as this must be at least as bad as any other stretch of this road was. Any body out there know or is this just another of the council's money saving activities?

Friday, 3 July 2009

Super gift

Thought I would have a change from having a moan at Walsall Council, although the signs on the Broadway are still not working.
I recently celebrated a birthday and one of my gifts was a book called the 'Lost Railways of Birmingham and the West Midlands' which I have thoroughly enjoyed reading. I particularly liked the chapter that covers Snow Hill to Wolverhampton (Low Level) as I used to live fairly close to this line and spend many happy hours train spotting from a large rock that stuck out of the embankment.
On one occassion we saw what must have been the pride of our collection when King George V came past us and the other classic was the blue pullman train. Of course we were spotting in the latter days of steam but there were also diesel multiple units running this line which we always called yam yams as they sounded their hooters when entering the tunnel at Hill Top and this was what the hooters sounded like to us kids.
The other thing we used to do a lot was go in the tunnel and hope we could get from one end to the other without a train coming - nowadays we would have to dodge the trams and we would be able to see what we were doing because there are lights in this tunnel.
Great Days when the pace of life seemed to amble along rather than the headlong rush into oblivion that seems to happen these days.
Hope anyone reading enjoys this little bit of nostalgia - I know I did!!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

The Arboretum island that was.

Well its been a few months now since the new traffic set up at the old Arboretum Island in Walsall came into action and I reckon the designers used the game Traffic Jam to work out the phasing of the lights. I try to avoid the junction as much as possible but I can't believe what I have seen in the paper tonight about a keep right sign on the road that has been painted upside down! I didn't know that Walsall Council had and Australian working for them, or perhaps it was there deliberate error but then no the whole blinking junction is that!

Signs stil not working

Well its official the signs on the Broadway in Walsall are not working. According to the Express and Star its because they are having trouble with the lenses - it might have something to do with the proximity of the trees to the cameras and possibly the wind.
It seems they are out until the beginning of next month so who knows they could be back on by this time next week - but don't hold your breath.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

The signs are good!

In an earlier post I complained about the rather expensive signs on the Broadway in Walsall and the fact that they were not working. I was tempted to complain again this morning because the box off the top which I take to be the camera has gone again and I suspect had rendered them useless.
But wait I said the signs are good and I have to admit they are working in that the traffic is now much slower and it can only be due to these signs being there and acting as a deterrent.
I suppose the only problem is that the remainder of the Broadway is still treated by many drivers as some sort of racetrack.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Mobile phone pain.

It may be that I am in a serious minority here but I really do think mobile phones are becoming a pain. Everywhere you go some person seems to be wittering away on a mobile and there are times when it really gets up my nose.
I travelled from Walsall to Birmingham and back by train on Saturday and on the way going we had three idiots disturbing the peace of other travellers by playing music (all three different) on their mobile phones. On our return journey we had a guy sitting opposite us who talked incessantly to people on his mobile phone and what a load of rubbish he was talking.
We then popped into Morrison's and lo and behold there they are again up the fruit and veg section talking in the loudest voice imaginable and asking whether the person the other end wanted green or white cabbage - I nearly shouted mange tout in good old Del Boy fashion.
The other thing I notice as I drive around is how many people are still using mobile phones while driving - the deterrent seems to have very little effect on this, perhaps police should be able to seize the phones and have them crushed, it might prove a more effective deterrent if folk were detached from there little box of tricks.
And yes I do have a mobile phone but it is one that my employer provides and I don't take it with me everywhere and certainly not to the shops as i like to have some peace and quiet!! Perhaps I could leave the wife with the phone - ah bliss!! (only joking).

Friday, 19 June 2009

Don't drop any money.

Just a little warning to readers as I have just read a story in the newspaper about a man who dropped a ten pound note coming out of a charity shop and was given a fixed penalty fine of 50 quid for dropping litter - is it me or is the rest of the world going mad. I know that money seems to be worth very little these days but to class it a litter just makes my mind boggle.

Wolverhampton does it again.

I can not believe that Wolverhampton Council have slapped parking fines on all those wonderful people who took part in the Walk for Life at West Park. Apparently a number of ladies had parked on the grass verges near the park while taking part in the walk and when they returned to their cars they had been given £70 fixed penalty fines.
It seems to me there are double standards operating in Wolverhampton that do nothing for racial harmony. A few weeks ago the council had their wardens out hitting Wolves fans celebrating the teams success but the following week when the Sikhs were celebrating Vaisakhi no tickets were issued - some of us may have thought the council had seen sense and then they are at it again this week.
You couldn't make it up!!

Lost Day

Not sure what has happened but my last post was done at 7-35a.m. on Friday the 19th June but is showing as Thursday - spooky!!!

Parliament - Stupid or What?

Well it seems the politicians have shot themselves in the foot yet again with the publication of the edited version of their expenses - edited to such an extent they make absolutely no sense at all.
I caught a little bit of question time on TV last night and they were discussing this matter and the politicians on the panel (Ken Clarke and a liberal whose name I can't remember) did very little in my opinion to help their case.
While I recognise what Ken Clarke said that it was not every MP in the house unfortunately this latest thing just makes me more suspicious of the whole expenses system and as one of the audience said makes you think this may be just the tip of the iceberg.
The biggest problem with this thought is that it is pushing other news into the background that may be far more important in the long term than the expenses issue.
Let's hope whoever the new Speaker of the House is that they can bring some trust and respectability back to what I believe has been known as the Mother of all Parliaments!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Is Walsall's Bronze Horse extinct?

Following on from my last post about the dodo I started thinking that the bronze horse in Walsall may be extinct and will make a miraculous comeback at some point in the future.
Remember you read about it first here!!

Is the dodo extinct?

Now here's an interesting question - I was of the opinion it was extinct and I know there is an expression about someone or something being as dead as a dodo and yet I wonder! Is this really just a massive piece of spin that has been perpetuated for many years?
Now you might be thinking this is a strange topic to raise but it has come about because last week I read about a bird that has made a comeback from being 'extinct' and I have just read an item in last nights Express and Star about an extinct blue butterfly.
I am beginning to wonder what extinct really means and if there is any hope for the dodo. I think the answer is watch this space!!!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Another white elephant!!

I was reading the other day about the fountain in the civic square in Walsall (near the hippo) which can not be turned on due to concerns about legionnaires disease and they are considering moving it. Now I wonder if this will become another bronze horse (see earlier post) and will disappear never to be seen again - perhaps they could move it to the art gallery where at least it could be on display and would be better than some of the ridiculous things that have been there in the past. I took my wife to the art gallery on one occasion and they had a load of dead rats on the end of sticks in one room and in another room old hospital beds - not sure what that was all about but give me a Constable any time (not not a police constable).
Will keep an eye on this story and make further comment as the story unfolds!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Traffic Calming or not?

I see Walsall Council have gone potty again - recently flashing signs were installed on a stretch of the Broadway about 20 metres away from existing speed cameras (before you get to the speed cameras) and are fitted with ANPR technology to enable reading of number plates and it looks like the signs will display vehicle registration numbers.
Within a week of these going up someone came along and removed the camera bit off the top and it was reported they were not working correctly - now given that these and two other signs in Aldridge have cost us council tax payers £60,000 that makes it £15,000 per camera and within a week they weren't working!! What a complete and utter farce.
The other thing is why nothing on the rest of the Broadway? Speed is more of an issue along the rest of it as there were already cameras on the stretch these new signs are on and in general terms this stretch was reasonably within the limit for most drivers.
Another triumph for the powers that be at Walsall Council I reckon.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Walsall's Bronze Horse

Anybody remember the bronze horse that Walsall Council commissioned some years ago? It was put in the area between the Civic Centre and the public baths and I think lasted a week or two before it got knocked over and taken into storage until a more appropriate site could be found. I think in actual fact it ended up at the knackers yard because as far as I know it has never seen the light of day since. Unless some reader knows different of course.

Monday, 1 June 2009

No More Fish and Chips

I think either me or the world is going absolutely stark staring bonkers!! I was reading the other day about a warden (note the word is warden not warder) at a sheltered housing scheme who had banned one of the residents from fetching fish and chips for other residents on 'health and safety' grounds.
Apparently there was a concern that the fish and chips may not be hot because the chip shop was a three minute drive away and could therefore cause the more frail residents to have food poisoning. They were told if they wanted to continue they had to have the boxes that meals on wheels use. What an absolute load of piffle! Another jobsworth exercising their authority but it reminded me that there used to be a housing warden in one of our Black Country towns who thought she was the warder - residents had to be in before 10-30p.m. at night or the front door was locked, they could only use the laundry on set days and set times - she ruled with a rod of iron and the place was known locally as Colditz with carpets.
The interesting thing for me in all this is that even though these folks live in a sheltered housing scheme they will still be tenants and pay rent and have a tenancy agreement and should realistically be allowed to live a normal life with the added bonus of on site support staff. The staff are not there to run their lives for them and in the fish and chip case the local authority said that the health and safety advice had been over zealously applied.