Sunday, 29 March 2009

Letter to Kevin Barron, MP

Dear Mr Barron,

Thankyou for the Rother Valley Parliamentary Newsletter, which I received this week.
I am interested to read about the positive work that you have been doing within the Rother Valley community, including the backing of local business in Dinnington, justice for miners in their compensation payments and supporting schools in Wales, Anston and Rother Valley College. I wish you continued good luck in the future with these projects.

Unfortunately, I am very concerned that you do not feel the need to mention the major upheaval and recent discussion regarding the secondary school and primary schools within your home town of Maltby. I appreciate that your workload is great and that you must prioritise with the issues that you handle, yet, as you well know, there are currently major areas of concern on a number of issues in Maltby, Bramley and Wickersley, which mainly come under the heading of “Consultation and Acting on Public Views (or not) ”.

Your newsletter states that you “take up issues on behalf of Rother Valley residents and raise their concerns in Parliament”. Personally, I have no evidence that you respond to Maltby issues whatsoever, and my correspondence to you has not been responded to – with the exception of my request about the situation in Gaza.

You are well aware of the controversy within Maltby Town Council and Wentworth Valley Area Assembly, yet do not appear to class these issues as a concern for you as Rother Valley MP.

I am at a loss to understand your motives. When “grass roots” issues are apparently ignored by my MP, I wonder who you suggest I turn to ?

Yours sincerely,

Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Fencing Cometh

The Muddies , Maltby, Rotherham was once a small wood with a small pond.It lies on the outskirts of Maltby and is surrounded by housing and farm land. For several months of the year it is very wet and supports a variety of water amphibians including frogs and newts. The Great Crested Newt has used the land for breeding for at least forty years, but the land is under threat from development by RMBC.
Residents in the area have at last persuaded RMBC to erect a fencing along one boundary, in an attempt to prevent damage caused by "youths" congregating there. This has and is continuing to be a long and difficult struggle on the part of residents.
I am allowing myself some light relief today from the constant stream of emails and phone calls that this entails.
I present :

The fencing cometh (with apologies to Flanders and Swann)

‘Twas on a Monday morning that the Muddies fence began
And Streetpride came along to clear the rubbish, with their van.
They looked and saw the mess was just too much for them to do
So they rested through the morning and then after lunchtime too.
Oh it all makes work for the working man to do.

‘Twas on a Tuesday morning, the workmen came again
With bin liners and garden gloves it really was quite plain
That they could not shift the garbage that was lodged behind a tree
So they left it till tomorrow till they had a JCB.
Oh it all makes work for the working man to do.

‘Twas on a Wednesday morning that the JCB arrived
The task was not so easy still, no matter how they strived.
And then there was a problem that they really had to face –
The plans were not quite right and they had dug in the wrong place!
Oh it all makes work for the working man to do.

‘Twas on a Thursday morning, an ecologist on site.
His mission was to save the newts from what might be their plight.
He carefully made some homes for them from stones beside the dyke
And guided them from danger to a home that they would like.
Oh it all makes work for the working man to do.

‘Twas on a Friday morning that the area seemed clear
And erection of the fencing was now so very, very near.
But Friday night’s a reckless time for teenagers round here-
The dyke was filled with mattresses and empty cans of beer.
Oh it all makes work for the working man to do.

On Saturdays and Sundays, they do no work at all…..
So ‘twas on the Monday morning that Streetpriders came to call.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

This is very hastily put together, so I apologise now for any errors, omissions or panic style writing. I write in haste.

I have heard today that The Home Office is considering plans to force “social networking sites” such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo to hold information about their users in an effort to foil the criminals/terrorists who communicate through them.
All the information would be stored on a central database (and yes, possibly a few cds which get mislaid on trains, buses etc) as part of the proposed Intercept Modernisation Programme. These plans are to keep information about all telephone calls, emails, and internet visits made by everyone in Britain through a multi-billion pound system. Every picture we look at, every piece of music we listen to and every person we have emailed will be “on file”. The Data Retention Directive, a European Union statutory order already proposes that internet service providers in member states store communications for one year.

Now I do not use either Bebo or MySpace, but I have to admit that I do have the occasional dabble on Facebook – much to my offspring’s disgust as I am an oldie and these places are for the young and cool generation. (My stepson even refuses to let me know his Facebook name, in case his mates find out I am registered there – the shame of it)

So, I am not really concerned about my “trafficking” on these sites. I fear however, that before long, the interceptors will be onto me and have me closed down and interrogated about my use of the internet and the voicing of my opinions to anyone who cares to read. Looking at my recent “history” I see that not only have I Googled Daily Mail Online, but also Sacha Baron Cohen, BBC i player, Sunderland flag image, human lyrics and bucket on a rope pic, and that’s only since yesterday. (I feel already I must justify the “bucket” thing – it was something to do with the nursery rhyme “ding dong bell”, alright ? )
What sort of a person looks at these things, is …. well, anyone’s guess. I dread to think what the interceptors would make of it all.

And then there’s the blog.
“Secrets or not?” alongside “Voting Hamas”, “Being British” and “Godwin’s Law”. “Publishing and dirty Laundry”, “Walk on By” and “Winehouse, Dylan and Raleigh” to name a few more titles. Crikey ! This blogger must be up to something. In fact – isn’t she the same person that was caught on the Co-op CCTV last week buying half a dozen eggs and a jar of mixed fruit jam?
We rest our case, Your Honour.

Should I hastily erase all history every time I search for something ?
Why bother, it’s all recorded anyway.
Is there any criminal connotations in watching Matt Monroe sing “The impossible dream” on YouTube ?
Probably, if anyone wants there to be.
Am I becoming paranoid?
Shall I stop writing, talking, thinking now before I am forced to by “them” ?

I will continue with my ramblings until my battery runs out – and I don’t just mean the one on the computer.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

"Everytown" : a year on

Almost a year since local elections here, when I made observations on the election of BNP Councillors. Then, there was debate about how BNP policies might affect Rotherham and concerns shown by some.
As it has transpired since then, the concerns most prevalent within the town (particularly, from personal experience, in Maltby, Bramley, Wickersley) are the blatant underhand doings of RMBC and their Labour councillors and the awful detrimental effect this is having on the community.

Maltby Town Council is commonly known as a pantomime. The chairman is under investigation after allegations have been made against him by previous Labour councillors who now purport to be independent. The true independent councillors are being hounded out of their positions by false accusations – some by intimidation and aspersions about their religious beliefs. Verbal and physical assaults have been made on members of the public by MTC councillors. The Chief Executive at RMBC pass the buck in any way that they can and the electorate is patronised by their attitude.

Wentworth Valley Area Assembly, which used to be democratically run, has had it’s Labour “renegade” chairman removed and a new (Labour) chair and vice-chair put in place without the approval or knowledge of it’s members and decisions are made against voted proposals.

A multi – million pound private business venture is “proposed” which affects all Maltby Schools. This potentially leaves our children’s education being sponsored by a company who have been running since last year and sell computer software. Only statutory consultation has been done, leaving the majority of parents and the community with one week to consider and digest the implications of this which is against the advice of all four teaching unions.

There are constant reports of the council spending millions on private projects whilst public services are cut or removed.
And more………..

Reports in local papers bring attention to more and more instances of a body which shows little regard for the people it is entrusted to serve. When the Chief Executive of Rotherham Council is riding rough shod over the electorate, likewise Cabinet Members, where do we turn?

In “Welcome to Everytown: a journey into the English mind “ (2007) Julian Baggini takes Rotherham to be a statistical microcosm of England. He spent six months living in the district "to understand the English mind, what we think, what we believe, what we want and what we value".

We live here. We know what we think, what we believe, what we want and what we value. We hoped that the people we elected felt the same and had our interests at heart.
How wrong we appear to have been and how sad if Rotherham really is an example of “Everytown”.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Publishing and dirty laundry

Today is World Book Day.
I had always thought that it was held on 23rd April - Shakespeare’s birthday, St. George’s day and no doubt many other things celebrated but it seems it’s a “moveable feast” in this country and varies.

After weeks of reading, but little writing (apart from in my head) I promised myself that I would devote today to some serious writing on one of the many projects I have in process, specifically the follow up to “Crossing Borders”. But I am in a moral dilemma, which is this:
When is it acceptable to publish autobiographically about situations and family life, and at which point does it become airing your dirty laundry in public ?

Julie Myerson, a novelist and columnist has published a book which tells of her family life, and includes details of her son (allegedly) smoking a “spliff”. The debate about this is whether this is a mother betraying her family and making money in the process or is it perfectly feasible for anyone to tell their own story and that of other's, after all, this is what writers do.

Of course, Myerson is not unique in her story telling. Many people have written of their own unhappy childhood, their children's or partner’s, or their own struggle with alcohol, drugs, illness or financial circumstances and the effect on the family. The argument that making money from broadcasting intimate details of your life is a very topical one. But I have a feeling that this type of book is not a real money maker (unless you are recognised as a “celeb” of the moment) and suggest that in many instances the author has written because they feel their story needs to be told and may be empathised with by others who have experienced similar circumstances.

Naïve ? Perhaps.
Whatever the author’s decision, it is a personal view and a personal opinion on right versus wrong.
(But I wouldn’t mind other people’s thoughts on this !)

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

When home grown becomes organic

I have been AWOL from this blog for various reasons, over the past few weeks (yes ok, no one noticed) and I couldn't decide what to talk about as I launch myself back onto the blogging “scene”. I could voice my opinion on the economic situation, the financial in-discrepancies of the government and bank officials, the love of the celebrity culture that is becoming sordid and inhuman, immigration, texting the police instead of contacting them directly, the Middle East situation or the “court of public opinion”.
But these are all very serious topics, and I feel the need to think of relative trivia at the moment.

What is on my mind today is organic vegetables.
I don’t mean that I have a yearning for them or am about to become vegetarian. Just that I bought and cooked an organic Savoy cabbage yesterday and am puzzled about it’s texture.

Now I have to say that this is the first time that I have bought an “organic” vegetable, or more precisely, the first time that I have bought vegetables specifically labelled as “organic”. Of course I have eaten what we used to call “home grown” vegetables many, many times. As a child I grew cabbages, lettuce, radishes and carrots in my own little plot in our back garden. This then progressed to cauliflower, sprouts and potatoes when my father acquired an allotment, and tomatoes, cucumber and peppers when we went up the gardening ladder and were the proud owners of a greenhouse. We would pick things straight out of the garden and eat them, and they were delicious (making sure that the dog hadn’t been in that area of course, but our dog was very particular about using hi’s own space for his toilet).
This process was repeated when I had a family of my own – without the allotment this time as our garden was big enough to grow almost anything we wanted for our own use.
All this home grown produce was “organic”, in the sense that there weren’t any chemicals used – unless we call pure and simple cow and horse muck, which I believe produces methane and probably other scientific type things. Methane is, I know, a gas but maybe is not classed as a chemical.

Is there any difference between “home grown “ and “organic” or is it just a new label which means that we have to pay almost twice the price for it ?
And what did I mean about the texture of my organic cabbage?
Well, I washed each individual leaf very carefully until there was no trace of any soil/dirt on it before I cooked it. But at my first mouthful, my teeth ground on what seemed like grit. The second mouthful was the same, so I took the cooked cabbage off my plate and scrutinised it again. No sign of anything except…cabbage !

So my puzzlement is this :
Is a small dose of soil/sand/grit which can not be removed by water, added to the organic vegetable to give it a little authenticity ? Is it with all vegetables or just cabbage? It’s like those jars of cockles, mussels and whelks that you can buy pickled in vinegar. I am sure they are washed thoroughly, but there is no doubt about the taste of sand that comes with them.

I will progress my way through a range of organic vegetables, and let you know the result.