Saturday, December 30, 2006
The Big Thank You
The Big Thank You!
May I take this opportunity of thanking Trigger17 for kindly informing the blogosphere of my recent absence, and also say a big thank you to the 102 bloggers who took the time to email me expressing their concerns and support. Your prayers and thoughts are most welcome and comforting. May I also say a big thank you to my workmates and colleagues in the Corner Shop for their support and best wishes.
This has been a most memorable Christmas period in the Curly household, but not for the best of reasons; some of us were not looking forward to our first Christmas without a very important member of the family in our midst, yet circumstances prevented too much sentimentality on Christmas Day which was the normal bustle of frenetic activity transporting children and sacks of Santa's presents from house to house as we did the family rounds. It was the normal helter skelter of activity and included some quality time with my father before we were ready to crash out at home, long before midnight!
Boxing Day started with the confused indecisiveness of whether or not to run up to Sunderland early in the day to get tickets for the home match against Leeds United, I had a strange unworldly feeling, rather like being detached from reality, it's difficult to put one's finger on it, but I did not "feel right". Eventually I decided not to go to the match (I must have known we were likely to win, but ugly) and thought instead of taking a walk into the town centre to see which shops were open, perhaps in the hope of finding an early January sale bargain.
I had a light lunch and was just installing the software that came with the new graphics tablet when it happened, it came with a slight light headedness and a quick rise in temperature along with a massive feeling of tight compression on the upper chest, arms, and neck which led to breathlessness and sweating. Years of professional first-aid training told me straight away that I was suffering a myocardial infarction (heart attack) and that a 999 telephone call was required. Whilst Mrs. Curly summoned help the children both wanted to climb up on my knee, and couldn't understand my protestations as I pushed them away and sought to settle on the settee. It was hard to exclude them in such a brutal fashion and emotionally difficult to watch them witness my suffering, but fortunately a paramedic was with me in less than three minutes. Having quickly inserted an intravenous vent and administered morphine he then attached a portable heart monitor which confirmed my own diagnosis. The ambulance and crew arrived less than two minutes later and I lost the fight to remain lucid within one minute of settling into the interior of my saviours' transport.
To make matters that little more worse, as I came to at South Tyneside District Hospital it quickly became apparent that I was paralysed from the neck down! This was unexpected and caused my spirits to sink just that little further, the medical team at the hospital's coronary care unit were unsure how the paralysis had been caused and felt that more specialist resources were required to find the cause of my problems, so I was dispatched by ambulance through the pre-closed Tyne Tunnel to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, a journey that took little more than ten minutes! Sadly my wife and father had to stay behind in South Shields.
I have to say that at all times I felt very comfortable, paramedics, ambulance personnel, doctors, and nurses were all saying the right things to me, I felt reassured and calm (even when my heart rate dropped to 15 beats per minute and looked in danger of stopping.) It didn't take long for the coronary specialists in Newcastle to decide to reopen the theatre late at night to perform an emergency angioplasty, they whisked me through without any formal pre-op preparation and spent over two hours investigating then repairing the blockages found in my coronary arteries. I have their tenacity and skills to thank for being here to tell the tale. I give you many thanks guys. Years of smoking, before I eventually decided to give up in 2006, poor diet, lack of strenuous excercise, had all combined to produce the dreadful circumstances that create arterial sclerosis. The left anterior descending artery in the heart was 70% blocked, and two of the diagonals were 100% blocked, my existence was hanging by a mere thread! I now have the arteries reopened and kept open with three stents, small metal coil like inserts designed to prevent plaques building up in these locations again.
Remarkably by 7.30 on Wednesday morning I was feeling magnificent and fresh as a daisy, and full motion had returned! I returned to South Tyneside District Hospital on Wednesday evening and stayed there until this morning when I returned to my family armed with a carrier bag full of tablets and drugs which must now be consumed every day of my life. I now feel as though I have been reborn, or at least given a second chance. The National Health Service performed to it's best this week (although there were one or two issues that I could talk about) and the ambulance service was notable for it's speed, efficiency. and highly trained life saving paramedics, to these I give the greatest thanks of all.
Therefore, I hope you will excuse my absence over the next couple of days as I try to catch up on some lost sleep, regain some strength, relearn how to properly relax, and begin to plan the future. Blogging may be erratic, and visitors of Curly's Photoshop will be treated to one or images from my archives until such time as I am able to get out and about (armed with the camera) on a more regular basis.
My new life is about to start, a change of diet, a change of regime, a fitness plan, and a permanently positive attitude will help me launch the new me!
Once again thank you all for voicing your concerns and support.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Break in Transmission
Sorry to report that Curly was taken into hospital on Boxing Day. He was admitted to STDH and then transferred to Freeman where he underwent surgery. He has now been brought back to STDH and is making good progress. Indications are that he will be home for the weekend and soon after the blog will return to normality. All of this is thanks to the wonders of the NHS not forgetting the lifesaving work of the paramedics._________________________________________________________________
Posted in Curly's absence by Trigger17
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Best wishes to you all._________________________________________________________________
Curly would like to take this opportunity of wishing all of his readers in South Tyneside and throughout the wider world a joyous and happy Christmas. May you all find the joy of Christ, as you spend some precious and quality time with your families.
As I type this, Santa was being tracked over Egypt, not long now!
The Corner Shop is now closing for a couple of days, normal service will resume on Wednesday (unless something momentous happens before then.)
More I.D. trouble on the cards
Draconian fines to boost Treasury revenue._________________________________________________________________
Melissa Kite reports in The Telegraph that the government plans to dish out 'draconian' 1000 pound fines for those who fail to update their details on the planned I.D. cards. Women who take on the name of their husbands when they marry, and the families of deceased card holders will be most at risk from this scheme which will boost the coffers of H.M. Treasury.
Looks like this piece of plastic will not be billed as "your flexible friend".
Peace on earth and goodwill towards all men
With the exception of Tony Blair by the looks of it!
Bob Marshall Andrews (pictured) the Labour MP for Medway has written to ACPC John Yates suggesting that Blair be investigated for false accounting, he even considers that his Leader "teflon" Tony should resign over the cash for peerages affair.
This weekend Marshall-Andrews said: "I think the implications are very serious. I wrote to the party and got an unsatisfactory response so I wrote to Yates and said he should take on board the issue of false accounting. He wrote back and said 'we will look at it'."
It is understood that detectives have now looked into the allegations and have sent a confidential report to the Crown Prosecution Service.
Marshall-Andrews, who has been critical of Blair's proposals for the Lords and for legal reforms, said: "I think this is a resigning issue for Blair."
All is clearly not well, and the troops have been sent home for Christmas in a rather disgruntled mood, unfortunately Yates is unlikely to make a name for himself as being the first copper to force a Prime Minister out of No. 10. Tony Blair will be on his lucrative lecture tour by time collars are being felt.
The Sunday Times.
Secret memo warns of crime wave
Blair's strategy unit suggests chemical castrations for sex fiends!
To combat crime the strategy unit suggests adopting controversial measures used abroad, including: enforced heroin vaccinations, alcohol rationing, a ban on alcohol advertising, "chemical castration", ID chip implants, the public shaming of offenders, the use of bounty hunters and enforced parenting classes.
That reminds me, a big fat turkey and a chipolata.
The Times Online
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Airport windfall - update
Politicians call for Council tax freeze._________________________________________________________________
Newcastle Central MP Jim Cousins and Tyne Wear Euro MEP Martin Callanan are calling for the dividend pay out from Newcastle Airport to be used to help local councils deliver a Council Tax refund, or a freeze at the current level for next year.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Corner Shop sympathises with Thorntons
Daft Geordie writes resignation on MySpace!
The young man to your left is 20 year old Steve Beall from Whitley Bay, who was until recently the rather less than happy manager of Thorntons confectioners in Barrow-in-Furness. That is, until he ill advisedly wrote these comments on his MySpace blog:
"Well then what is there to say about Barrow in Furness apart from its a s**t hole!!. How the hell people live there I never no (sic). Its very rough, give me Newcastle any day and staying in a travel lodge by yourself for over a week is very boring!. I am the manager of the new Thorntons. I'm so stressed and need to drink."
Steve no longer works at Thorntons, he needed a police escort to get him out of town safely, Thorntons were inundated with angry locals, they are now giving chocolates away for free!
You can read the full story - here.
Curly has some experience of disgruntled staff with MySpace sites, and it is not a good experience. The MySpace network of blogs seems to be populated with young people, under the age of thirty, who have little regard for the protection of their own identities (and you know how keen I am on this subject), or the feelings of their so-called colleagues and workmates. These "dead heads" are quite content to use their own names on their sites, and those of their "mates" at work, some even put their addresses online - just how naive can you be?
I have to admit that I do ask a lot of my staff at the Corner Shop and can be quite demanding at times. I need my staff to show some commitment and flexibility when we are at the peak of our trading patterns, so it comes as something a little more than a nuisance to see your staff writing their inane thoughts, rants, ravings, and even personal insults in their blogs. Worse still to see the good name of Curly's Corner Shop being dragged through the mud and witness other employees looking on in dismay at the wreckless meanderings of these imbecilic shop assistants.
As a caring employer I was left with little choice but to remove the pleasure of working in the Corner Shop from almost 50% of my staff, where I went wrong was in failing to send them to Barrow-in-Furness for a six month stint in acquainting themselves with customers of a more discerning nature!
8m. Windfall for South Tyneside.
What would a responsible council do with it?
South Tyneside District Council are the recipients of an 8m. pound windfall from it's investment in Newcastle International Airport. The airport, since 2001, has been jointly owned in a public/private partnership by seven local authorities and Copenhagen Airports; the local authorities own 51% of the shares and Copenhagen Airports the remaining 49%. The success of the venture has resulted in a profits share out worth 80m. pounds to the local authorities, and South Tyneside Council is likely to add it's 8m. share to it's reserves and contingencies fund which was plundered last year to plug a huge hole in the borough's finances.
Council officers are on course to produce savings of almost 5m. pounds in the current financial year, after announcing savings of 2.5m. pounds last month, so the borough's finances are starting to take on a more healthier complexion with today's news. As we are now aware, big savings can be made without detriment to the Council's services (their words, not mine), but before we can make sweeping judgments about the likely level of Council taxes next year, we will have to wait and see how much grant support the Chancellor will make available for South Tyneside Council.
Commenting on the dividends from the airport venture, Deputy Council Leader Iain Malcolm said today:
"It (the money) would not be burning a hole in our pockets" and "What I can pledge is that the money won't be used to keep the Council Tax artificially low."
We must agree, however, that it is wise and prudent to replace the monies taken from the reserves, but must caution against further increases in expenditure, other than what is forced upon us to administer legislation passed by Tony's Blair's dying government. Money clearly can be saved by our council without causing any great pain, officers are acting with great responsibility and diligence to return the council's finances to a state of balance and it would harm the new found credence of the Labour Party by stretching the resources of council tax payers to fund extended services next year.
A responsible council might like to aim for year of consolidation, prudently looking after both existing services whilst maintaining a strict control over spending and borrowing. A target of a zero rise in Council Taxes is attainable without being artificial, and with the Labour Party's fortunes plummeting nationally as the government runs out of steam, a zero tax rise might just manage to save a few Labour seats at the next local government election (start thinking about Fellgate)!
I had some rather odd thoughts when reading the news in tonight's evening paper;
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Christmas, a time for giving.
A gift for the Corner Shop!
Curly has had a busy day at the Corner Shop today getting ready for the inevitable post Christmas rush, it is so easy to forget what Christmas is all about when you are in this business! It's about the simple act of giving: God gave us his son Christ, and we represent this act with the giving and receiving of small personal gifts to one another at Christmas. The representaion of something new, a fresh start, new learning, they all have meaning at this time of year.
One can imagine my surprise to find an early Christmas present waiting for me when I returned home this evening!
A personally signed copy of Iain Malcolm's book "Reluctant Rebels" (Iain is the Deputy Leader of South Tyneside District Council). I don't know what I have done to deserve this gift, not even sure if I am receiving it as a prize or a punishment!
Unfortunately I have not had time to thoroughly look through Iain's book, which was published in 2003 by the Durham City Publishing Company, and runs to 111 pages, so it shouldn't take long to get through. It details the effects of the 1972 Housing Finance Act on South Shields, and a quick flick through it's pages reveals many characters who have featured in this blog at one time or another. The main thrust of this small documentary tome is the massive outcry against the "Fair Rents Act" imposed by central government and the agonies it created for local councils, especially focusing on the schisms created within the Labour movement locally.
These events took place before my political "birth" and a full eight years before I became a local Councillor, but many of the leading characters in the book were around when I first took my seat, I'm sure Iain intended to "broaden" my education and jerk my memory with this gift.
The book's cover features a quite rare picture of the interior of the council debating chamber at South Shields Town Hall, there are not many illustrations around of this magnificent building's interior. The reception rooms, the Mayor's Parlour, the members' lounge, and the grand staircase are all richly decorated and feature some exceptional stained glass. One day I would dearly love to be able to show some of these views to the outside world in Curly's Photoshop, you never know, perhaps it can be arranged!
I look forward to reading this book over the next few days and perhaps reviewing it in this blog.
May I say a big thank you to Cllr. Iain Malcolm, a regular reader of this blog, for his generous, kind, and unexpected gift, may he have a blessed and Happy Christmas.
The Spirit of the Tyne arrives._________________________________________________________________
I don't know whether to laugh or cry, our brand new ferry has arrived at last, after waiting for favourable weather conditions to enter the Tyne. She looks like a good boat, she looks as though she will cope with the demands of the next few years, indeed she looks quite smart.
It's just a shame that her name was chosen by a popular poll, and for me "Spirit of the Tyne" doesn't carry the right message. The Tyne was once one of the most busy industrial rivers in the U.K., we had ship builders, ship repairers, coal staithes, we introduced lifeboats to the world! Now, sizeable ships are no longer built here, and our new ferry was built by the Dutch!
I would rather have seen a name like William Wouldhave!
"Spirit of the Tyne" as a name, carries quite a bit of irony don't you think?
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Fugitive flees in niqab
Petitioning the Prime Minister
Almost 58,000 sign petition against road pricing._________________________________________________________________
Since the No. 10 website started allowing online e-petitions it has been fascinating to see what we are all upset about and what topics motivate us most to hit the keyboard to express our dissatisfaction to Blair. Nobody yet knows whether the PM actually gets to see the contents of the site or whether or not he takes much notice of it. However, one must take the chance that someone will tell him that thousands of people are petitioning about something.
By far the largest petition currently running on the site asks the PM to scrap the planned vehicle tracking and road pricing policy. The Petition was posted by Peter Roberts who added:
"The idea of tracking every vehicle at all times is sinister and wrong. Road pricing is already here with the high level of taxation on fuel. The more you travel - the more tax you pay.
Two weeks ago Sir Rod Eddington, the Government's transport adviser, gave his support to road pricing. He suggested that motorists could pay as much as 1.28 a mile to travel on the busiest roads at the height of the rush hour, a figure which could lead to some drivers face bills of up to 25 pounds a day to get to and from work.
So far nearly 58,000 people have signed the e-petition, it is running well ahead of the second placed petition to repeal the 2004 Hunting Act.
It will be interesting to see where the Prime Minister stands in the war against motorists!
The Daily Telegraph
10 Downing Street E-petitions.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Sign of the times?
Prescott spends 645 pounds to change the sign over the door.
Does this man's vanity have any bounds? 645 pounds of tax payers cash to change the sign at his office from "Office of the Deputy Prime Minister" to "Deputy Prime Minister's Office". On top of that he also spent 726 pounds on new business cards. According to the ITN News this evening the same work could be done at a small print shop for a total price of 23 pounds! (They also stated that the annual running costs of his office come to almost two million pounds!)
Isn't it time he was hung out to dry?
I'm starting to think that he has something on Blair that safeguards him from being ditched.
Funding political parties
Should the tax payer cough up?_________________________________________________________________
Sounds like noses in the trough time again yeah?
According to a report in today's Daily Telegraph the cross party Constitutional Affairs Committee is calling for increased public funding for political parties, and that individual donations to parties ought to be capped in an effort to clean up the mess being dragged through the press columns with the current 'cash for peerages' enquiry.
Leaks of details apparently to be included in Sir Philip Hayden's report suggest that he wants to cap individual donations to parties to as low as 50,000 pounds, and is also recommending that trades union members be required to 'contract out' of political donations to the Labour Party, a move that would completely sever the party's links and reliance on the union movement.
The Constitutional Affairs Committee is also suggesting that we, the public, would only accept further tax payer funding of political parties if it was seen that other outside links and funding were not having a major influence on policy.
I don't agree, I feel that public funding of politics will lead to even more disenchantment with politicians and less engaement from us all. I think a far easier way to clean up the mess would be to remove the Prime Minister's capacity to recommend the awarding of honours, and give the job to an elected committee of Privy Counsellors and civil servants.
The whole issue might, of course, become self-policing after a few of the Prime Minister's closest aides and associates have their collars felt by the Old Bill.
The Daily Telegraph
Cameron demands snap election
Gordon Brown will not have an automatic mandate.
Conservative Party leader David Cameron has today called upon Gordon Brown to call a quick general election after Tony Blair eventually decides to vacate 10 Downing Street. In an interview with Classic FM "Big Dave" said:
"Tony Blair said at the last election he would serve a full term, so when he goes, no subsequent Labour prime minister can really in their heart claim to have a mandate from the British people.So it would be right actually to hold a general election as soon as is reasonably possible, because the British people thought they were electing Tony Blair.
Of course, if Gordon Brown were to pander to Cameron's wishes, it would put South Shields Conservative Association into a full scale panic. They have yet to select a PPC (prospective parliamentary candidate) to oppose David Miliband, and there are precious few signs of them starting the necessary procedures.
Better hurry up, 'A' - listers are becoming thin on the ground!
Building Heaven (or was it Hebburn)
Hebburn is a place on Earth
It comes as no surprise to read of Cllr. Eddie McAtominey's wit in this evening's edition of the Shields Gazette, the veteran Labour Councillor is renowned for his dry sense of humour and combative debating skills. He does, however, need taking to task over the remarks he is reported to have made during a recent meeting of South Tyneside District Council.
According to Cllr. McAtominey (pictured) a clergyman misheard him after enquiring where he came from - the cleric thought that the councillor had said Heaven, rather than Hebburn ( a rather massive, but human error). McAtominey, who represents Hebburn South went on to tell the meeting:
"I told this clergyman that the town isn't quite Heaven - but we're getting there!"
I was rather hoping that some member of the opposition group might have been able to remind him that God built Heaven and Earth in six days and rested on the seventh, he did it using private enterprise in a not for profit operation, with a little help along the way from volunteer groups! Hebburn, on the other hand, has suffered under the dead hand of Socialism for at least 62 years, maybe longer, yet the job still isn't complete!
God, perhaps, was lucky that he didn't need to submit his plans for approval, redraft them 14 times, set up a consultative exercise, involve the Local Community Area Forum, get knocked back by four separate committees, suffer the indignity of handing over the job to someone else after being deselected by the local party, he didn't have to have the permission of a mass of trade unions, he had no strikes to deal with, or waste time listening to a parade of petitioners and objectors, nimbys were unheard of then.
However, a 'modernising' Labour Party might be able to see a way of completing the task before the end of this century!
Monday, December 18, 2006
Boo boys sully Sunderland
Indifferent Yorke subject of fans' derision
I was not at the Burnley versus Sunderland game on Saturday (indeed, being the proprietor of a Corner Shop makes it difficult to go to many games at all) however, I have spoken to a number of friends who did travel to the game who have confirmed that Dwight Yorke became the subject of some booing in the second half.
Yorke has been rather less than impressive since his arrival from Sydney, a signing that surprised many because of his high profile name and illustrious past at Manchester United and Aston Villa, we thought that Keane had pulled off a master stroke. However, his play in midfield had been patchy at best and indifferent at worst. His attempted headed clearance early in the second half of Saturday's game simply deflected the ball towards Kyle Lafferty who took no persuading to bury it in the net past the advancing figure of Darren Ward. Yorke then had to suffer the unedifying sound of being roundly booed by our own supporters, before being substituted by Roy Keane.
I have never understood why we are such a fickle bunch - sing when you're winning, they say, but I can't remember anyone advising to lambast your team when you are losing! By reacting in this way players can often start making even more unforced errors and take the attitude "why should I bother". Sunderland have one of the most vocal set of travelling supporters in the country and regularly take up all of the allocation of tickets awarded by away teams, it belittles us when we take our frustrations out on our own players. I cannot remember a current or former Sunderland player who has responded positively when barracked by his own so-called supporters.
Roy Keane has intimated that some of the on loan players will be returning to the club in January, it is to be hoped that they do not suffer a frosty reception if selected for first team duties. Now that the club is in the top half of the table, just three points away from a play off position, one would hope that the Black Cat's fans would get behind the lads in a big way, and really play the part of the twelfth man - leave the booing to the opposition!
Sunday, December 17, 2006
1,139,445 innocent people on DNA database!
John Reid "buries" news on "Big Brother" database._________________________________________________________________
Another piece of news which crept out of the government machine last week at the same time as the police announcements about the murders in Ipswich, was the admission from the Home Office that more than one million people have records of their DNA kept on a police system despite facing neither charges or arrests.
Police are holding the DNA records of more than 1m innocent people - eight times more than ministers have previously admitted. Official figures slipped out by the Home Office last week show that almost one in three of the 3.4m individuals whose details are kept on the database do not have a criminal record or a police caution, according to The Sunday Times.
David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said the timing of the Home Office release was unacceptable.
"This is a cynical piece of news management, one of the pieces of bad news rushed out last week."
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics, an independent think tank, has said the country risks being transformed from a nation of citizens into a nation of suspects.
Civil liberties groups say the DNA database is just the latest example of the gradual creation of the "surveillance state" by Labour. They warn that innocent people could find themselves under suspicion if their DNA is found at a crime scene through no fault of their own, for example on a stolen mobile phone.
Curly wonders if there are any circumstances under which people can either refuse to give a DNA sample, or succeed in having a request to remove their records from the database if no charges or cautions are laid against them?
Schools ban video at Nativity play then charge for their own.
Greedy schools charging for Nativity plays._________________________________________________________________
Wakefield Girl's High Junior School, Cliff School and St Hilda's, West Yorkshire, are charging as much as a whopping 17 pounds for a recording of the Christmas concert and five pounds for a photograph, according to this report in the Daily Mail. I can add that similar practices are being exercised in South Shields, although not at the same fiscal rates employed in West Yorkshire.
Parents have been warned in South Shields not to video performances in case copyrights are breached, photography too was discouraged, so that the school could sell a selection of their own snaps taken during the rehearsal.
Of course, if schools could just decide for once to use The Holy Bible as the source material for the nativity Play, there would be no copyright issues to worry about, and we could photograph our children to create an important keepsake for this period of development in their life. Naturally, the schools would raise no money at all by going down this route!
A vital fourty minutes?_________________________________________________________________
Can someone please explain why Tony Blair was fourty minutes late in making his press conference to explain his friendly chat with the plods? It seems that the rearranged time of the meeting with the press coincided with another police press conference about murders in Ipswich - news management or mismanagement?
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Blair's government is a shambles -admission
Labour insiders admit that it's "shit or bust time" and suggest that they ditch Gordon Brown NOW and look towards the next generation for a Labour Leader. They are already looking towards a defeat at the next election and see little hope of stopping David Cameron, admitting that Labour voters are moving towards the Conservatives in droves.
Iain Dale is breaking the full story - here.
Friday, December 15, 2006
A good day to bury bad news?
Met. Police Christmas card._________________________________________________________________
So we knew all about the inquiry into Princess Diana's death, the continuing investigations into the murders in Suffolk, England's tenuous fightback in the Ashes series, yet somehow news of Blair's questioning by Knacker of the yard didn't hit the BBC's website until late last night. Shades of Joe Moore here ( a good day to bury bad news.)
Beau Bo D'or didn't miss it though, here's his take on the Met's Christmas Card.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Bigger broadband take up
Does this mean more customers for the Corner Shop?
Reports suggest that around 40% of connected "net heads" in South Tyneside now enjoy the fuller benefits of a fast broadband connection. I have to say that I was one of those almost jumping up and down with excitement a couple of years ago when I was awaiting my first 2 Mb broadband modem. Cllr. Iain Malcolm who is the leading lad for e-services and connectivity within the borough council is also equally excited at the prospects of more people being able to use the council's online services. (More folks for him to fill up his Blackberry with, I wonder if he was like my mate Fred who used to keep a battered old diary filled with addresses and phone numbers in miniature script?) It's all good news, can't wait until the figure goes above 50% - more customers for the Corner Shop to attract!
I certainly will have no complaints about looking after the more than 22,000 visitors this blog has had in the last 10 weeks.
Today's regular 100 returning visitors came from:
Future for Green car?
Will Geordies build Nissan's Pivo?
The Shields Gazette reported yesterday that the prototype green electric concept car the "Pivo", which was introduced by Nissan at last year's Tokyo Auto Show will be developed and put into production by next year! They say that the hybrid car to be developed by Nissan will be the Pivo (a shortened name derived from Pivot - all will become clearer after you see the video).
This little electric car will run on lithium ion batteries and use "fly by wire" technology, allowing it's passenger cabin to rotate a full 360 degrees, obviating the need to ever reverse again. It also has small video panels in the "A" pillars giving an almost total view of the outside - no more blind spots! Being electric means it has absolutely zero carbon dioxide emissions, something which we would like ALL cars to achieve in the future. Little is known, as yet whether or not the Japanese intend to add a small petrol engine to make this car a hybrid, like Totota's Prius.
I have argued before that when our government starts collecting more and more "green" taxes from us that the revenue ought to be going to programmes such as this, which will see the development of products which do little or no harm to our environment.
The big question of course is, will "Pivo" be built by lads and lasses from South Tyneside working at Nissan's plant at Washington? Sources tell me that you are more likely to see the Secretary of State for the Environment walking home from Chichester Metro station tomorrow!
The Shields Gazette
Council leadership's nervous reaction?_________________________________________________________________
Just had mail from the Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council, Iain Malcolm regarding my post of yesterday regarding the highish amount of family connections in the ranks of our Council, (both recently and in the past.) Seems he thinks I'm picking on the Labour Party!
Whilst there are a larger number of Labour members in the list that I provided, it is not exclusively a Socialist club, he points out that the two South Shields brothers Stan and George Smith were councillors (although as far as I can recall they were on two different bodies - South Tyneside Council and Tyne and Wear County Council), he also reminds me that Cllrs. Enid Hetherington and Marjorie Robinson are sisters and the daughers of former Progressive Mayor, Harry Marshall, and that Cllr. Capstick's son-in-law, Cllr. Nolan also sits on the Council. Quite a family business!
Cllr. Malcolm is of the opinion that a few of our opposition members on the Council are members of the Freemason's organisation, and that this is a popular hunting ground for prospective candidates - perhaps someone from the opposition group might care to comment?
Did my post touch a raw nerve? (No mention of Linda Waggott's desperation to rejoin her husband on the Council though, not withstanding the views of the people in Fellgate.)
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Did he jump, or was he pushed?
A way back for Linda Waggott?
Former South Tyneside Mayor and Labour Councillor Bill Lynch has announced his intention to stand down at the elections next May. He was first elected for Boldon Colliery in 2001, and the bachelor served as Mayor in 2005.
A large and ebullient man with a gregarious sense of humour he made a popular figure as the borough's Mayor, and it comes as something of a surprise that local Labour officials are prepared to let the man walk away from his council seat after only five years!
It does seem a short length of time to serve as a councillor in comparison to some of his contemporaries, and leaves one asking whether the Labour Party was looking for an opportunity to make room for the return of a more favoured one?
In his statement to the Shields Gazette he says that he will be backing Linda Waggott in yet another attempt to regain a seat on the Council. I've never quite understood why the people of South Shields and South Tyneside have been so prepared to vote in family teams of councillors over the years, perhaps because they are always in each other's pockets they make better candidates? I Don't know - but we have certainly had one or two such teams over the years:
Elizabeth and Murtagh Diamond (Labour)
Vi and Ken Webster (Labour)
Paul and Linda Waggott (Labour)
Iain and Ed Malcolm (Labour)
Don and Frank Dixon (Labour)
Mavis and Bill Brady (Labour)
Elizabeth and Ken Scrimgour (Labour)
Wallace and Gladys Hobson (Labour)
Arthur and Joan Meeks (Labour)
Eddie McAtominey and Nancy Maxwell (Labour)
Allen and Jane Branley (Independant)
Ann and Alan Madsen (Progressive)
and that is just a short selection.
Of course, years ago, there were no fixed annual allowances for councillors, they were made on a meeting by meeting basis. yet the accusations still flew about that these family members "were in it for the money" (whether or not there was any basis in fact.) Now that we are in an era with almost full time councillors, the accusation and the suspicions become even more stark, and perhaps more relevant. Whilst we must also take into consideration the difficulty in finding candidates to represent an established political party in the local elections, it could just be possible that the parties involved are offering us the very best quality at their disposal! This may be true for the established parties, but it seems that the Independants and Progressives have little problem these days in fulfilling their required quotas of candidates.
The former Mayor, Linda Waggott, must indeed be a special candidate, since losing her seat in Biddick Hall and failing to win in Bede in 2004 and 2006 ( to a former Labour councillor turned Independant) it seems that a "safe" seat must be beckoning for her in Boldon Colliery. So, one hopes that the nice man Cllr. Lynch truly wishes for a peaceful retirement, at the age of 67 he certainly could not be considered "old" and must have had a bit more to offer, I really hope he wasn't "persuaded" to go. One only hopes, for her sake, that Boldon Colliery doesn't turn Independant next year!
Of greater interest to Curly is the revelation that Bill Lynch is a player of the Northumbrian pipes, and there are not many of them about. I wonder if he'd be willing to make a video for the Corner Shop?
Tom Jackson's My Northumbria (article on the pipes.)
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Missy brings home commercial nonsense_________________________________________________________________
Young Missy Curly returned home from school this afternoon excitedly clutching a large pile of Christmas cards from her classmates. Almost fourty of them to be exact. You could tell that some parents had spent a lot of money of them, but on closer inspection not a single card carried any image, message, or symbol relating to the true message of Christmas.
We should not blame the parents for this anachronism, but the manufacturers of gift cards who are in it for one reason alone - profit! They produce this inane collection of cartoon characters (I do not joke here - there were two Disney characters amongst her cards) simply to ply to the mass market and offer them on an alter to mamon. Not a single card bore a picture of a Christmas tree, a crib, a baby Jesus , a shepherd, an angel, three wise men, or a Star of Bethlehem!
Nor were there any quotations form the Holy Bible or pieces of script that might relate to the true story of Christmas, I guess I ought not to be surprised in this age of rampant global commercialisation.
Or perhaps I might be surprised at the amount of anger and indignation that is being caused this year!
Brave Cameron move to put marriage on the agenda_________________________________________________________________
I think that Conservative Leader David Cameron is showing a lot of verve and nerve to promote family values in a way which many will take the opportunity to shoot down as "back to basics" again. He has stood up in public and said that MPs are human, they make human mistakes, but that the issue is too large to ignore and that he intends to make policy on the family unit should he win the next election.
The Social Justice Policy group, chaired by Iain Duncan Smith, has produced a report linking the breakdown of the family to a number of social issues - drug abuse, crime, social mobility, benefits uptake, rising personal debts, and the development of an "underclass". Cameron is to propose using the tax system to help sustain marriage, and takes the view that the family is not only the most important institution in Britain, it also "the best".
The Conservatives would face the prospect of attempting to make a huge cultural change on some of our less fortunate estates and towns where cohabitation is becoming the norm, and soon afterwards this is replaced by a one parent family with no father figure, and a downward spiral towards debt, crime, poor educational results, and young men and women with little hope of finding decent real jobs and limited aspirations.
I wish them well, this is a monumental task to change attitudes and lifestyles through a simple transfer of tax allowances.
The Daily Mail
Tumult for Tynemouth Tories
A - Lister selected ahead of local candidate.
After a couple of candidates withdrew from the contest, one of David Cameron's "A" list , Richmond Cllr. Wendy Morton (pictured), was drafted into the shortlist, and selected ahead of local rising star Michael McIntyre, a decision which has caused tumultuous upset amongst Tynemouth Conservatives.
The original list of nominees was wittled down to a shortlist by members of the local association in a ballot to decide the final four to go in front of the association's executive council for a final decision. It was when some of these final four dropped out of the running that Cllr. Morton was drafted in. Local Councillor Michael McIntyre had built a useful power base in Tynemouth and was greatly responsible for the increase in Conservative seats on North Tyneside Council and recording a huge 5% swing to the Tories at the last election. His supporters had been primarily responsible for campaigning, footslogging, delivering leaflets, and fund raising, in their attempts to return this target seat to the Tory fold. It seems that some members of the executive council must have been swayed by the party's A - list scheme to push favoured candidates into winnable seats, as well as bolster the ranks of female Conservative representation within the House of Commons. Typically, for northern Conservatives, the in-fighting has already started, Tim Montgomery's Conservative Home has received a number of critical comments from Tynemouth members who see the prospects of overturning Labour's majority downgraded, and are threatening to withold support from Wendy Morton.
Here are a selection of comments:
"Have Tynemouth Conservatives' Executive lost their senses? Tynemouth was the only likely Tory gain in the North East in a general election, but was always going to be hard work, yet the Executive has picked a candidate who does not live in the constituency, and doesn't even live in the North East region. Even worse, she wasn't on the short list of 4 candidates which the members chose by ballot last week - she was only put on the list after two of those 4 dropped out in the last few days. (For some reason, the members HAD to vote for a short list of 4, they weren't allowed to vote for just the one person they really wanted).
On being unwell
I've had a bad couple of days, yesterday I rose at 04.30 after a very restless night and arrived at the Corner Shop at 05.45 struggling to stand erect at my full height whilst battling the griping cramps in my stomach and a raging temperature. I knew it would be a bad day, despite my best efforts I was unable to see out the day and retired at noon.
Numerous visits to the 'little room' had left me quite weak so I returned to my bed at 13.00 and slept fairly soundly until 16.00 when the noise of the children stirred me into slow motion action, I knew that I had to feel better because I didn't want to miss a birthday bash for my father, we were booked into a restaurant yesterday evening with a number of family members. However, it was not to be - I am massively disappointed about this, but I hope my father understands. Mrs. Curly attended with the children in my absence. I returned to bed before 18.00 and slept until 08.00 this morning, the body is obviously trying it's hardest to repair something!
Therefore blogging may be erratic over the next couple of days, I just can't be bothered much.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Taking a breather!
A family weekend.
It has been rather nice to relax at home away from the Corner Shop for a weekend of rest and quality time with the family, the last week was rather tough going with so many staff away on holiday or sent away to various training events, it does make it all the more difficult for those left behind dealing with the pre-Christmas rush.
So after a little Christmas shopping yesterday and taking in the Sunderland v Luton Town match I was able to play some games with Junior Curly and Missy Curly before settling down to watch the boxing on T.V. at the Snooker Club last night.
The plan today was to make an early start by turning out at Marsden Bay at dawn to catch the sunrise, I am need of a few new pictures for Curly's Photoshop, and it was a spectacular sunrise this morning! So glorious and warm in colour but it belied the freezing temperatures and howling winds that accompanied my umbrella over the side of the cliffs, I took almost a hundred shots and will probably reject no more than fifteen. I will start posting some of the pictures in the photoblog tomorrow.
Junior Curly was despatched with our friendly neighbour to visit Newcastle today (you must understand that I would need a VERY good reason to go there- such as Sunderland playing them at Sid James Park, otherwise I do my best not to step foot in the place) whilst Missy Curly was destined to help Mrs. Curly and I dress the Christmas tree. For a small family I often wonder why we need such a large (10 foot) tree, and why are 200 lights not sufficient? So, a necessary evil was a trip to the local B&Q for more lights, more extension leads, more blue tac, more tinsel, and more hooks! Eventually we succeeded in holding Missy up a ladder to place baubles where she felt right, later we rearranged them when she wasn't looking!
Junior returned after the work had been completed (5 hours in total) took one look, said "Wow" and started to pester me for more music to go on his MP3 player - an eclectic mix of Christmas tunes featuring the 'Crazy Frog' - how on earth have I managed to bring up a nine year old with such poor taste?
So the excitement has begun for the children, mother and father now feel exhausted after a 'wet and wild' bath time; quick feed, quick writing out of the cheques for next week's dinner money, pack them off to bed, and continue to stay away from the papers this weekend!
However, I do understand that Big Dave is promoting the family this weekend!
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Christmas - the fightback!
It has been an interesting week with learned journalists, theologians, and politicians lending a hand to fight back over the death of Christmas, leading the way was the Archbishop of York Dr. John Sentamu, in his strongest assault yet on attempts to purge Christianity from public life, Dr Sentamu said secularists were undermining the country's cultural traditions. The Archbishop's comments reflect the growing fury of Church leaders at reports of companies banning Christmas decorations and schools leaving Jesus out of nativity plays.
In The Daily Telegraph he was reported to have said:
"Aggressive secularists are trying to pretend that it is possible to enter into the true meaning of Christmas by leaving out Jesus Christ, The person who is at the heart of the celebration is totally excluded. This really is a case of throwing out the baby with the bath water, or in this case throwing out the crib at Christmas. The aggressive secularists pervert and abuse any notion of diversity for the sake of promoting a narrow agenda. Meanwhile those other faith communities, who have stated categorically they are not offended by Christmas, know that if Christmas falls, they will be next."
While in the same newspaper Jeff Randall writes of his quest to bin all of the cards he has received that bear no religious symolisms of Christmas:
"It's a swipe at those who would prefer to abolish Christmas altogether, in case it offends "minorities". Someone should tell them that, with only one in 15 Britons going to church on Sundays, Christians are a minority. None of the Christmas-less cards that I have received came from a PC nutter. A few were from good friends and business acquaintances. But I rejected them anyway.
After two or three weeks where the crucifiction of Christmas has made a few column inches in the newspapers it is good to note that one or two politicians have at last responded to the views of ordinary people and are prepared to offer their own thoughts, which perhaps may help to restore some of our Christian traditions and culture, maybe not this year, but there is hope for next year.
The former Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw hit out at those who wished to ban Christmas decorations in the office, he claimed that such politically correct acts were inspired by people wrongly "second-guessing" how sensitive others were about the issue.
"What is forgotten by people who come out with this nonsense is that those of the Muslim faith honour our prophets and those of the Jewish religion as much as they honour their own prophets."
On Wednesday night Gordon Brown condemned Labour's own Sure Start playgroups for replacing their Christmas parties with politically-correct "winter celebrations". The Chancellor said the idea that non-Christians would have been offended was simply wrong. Joining the Campaign for a Real Christmas, Mr Brown, a key architect of the Sure Start policy, said 'no community' in Britain was offended by the celebration of Christmas.
Nicky Kumar from the Sure Start scheme in Hackney said:
"We're not having Christmas parties, our groups are just having parties. It's just a general celebration. We've got quite a few people of different faiths, so we can't just have the one Christmas party when there's all the other faiths."
Last week, Christian and Muslim leaders launched a battle to save the traditions of Christmas from politically-correct interference, warning it risks a backlash against Muslims.
The Christian Muslim Forum said that a Campaign for Real Christmas was needed because, while Christmas causes no offence to minority faiths, banning it offends almost everybody.
So even in South Tyneside, where so far we have not experienced much in the way of anti-Christian secularism, we need to examine carefully the impact of the politically correct busy bodies hell bent on destroying the true message of Christmas, Curly has noted that some of our schools are holding presentations by our youngsters, which we used to call nativity plays, and schools are now either charging a fee for parents to watch their own children, or are banning the use of cameras at these events "to protect copyright." This is because those schools, acting autonomously have decided against using the non-copyrighted biblical texts or gospels to present a nativity play, and instead are using material written by secularists that provides a useful themed message at this time of year. These schools are paying handsomely for the right to use these copyrighted materials which is a rather sad use of their budgets in my view, seeing as the Gospel messages of the birth of Christ come absolutely free of charge!
Phil Cutts our Schools Improvement Team Manager has told me that:
"They can use any source texts they like (although we would of course be concerned if material was in some way offensive to others). Schools are obliged to provide a daily act of collective worship that is "wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character". This is a legal requirement and is inspected when Ofsted visits. At Christmas time this will almost universally include the Christmas story. Again, no particular text is prescribed, although the Bible is obviously the original source document. The performances to which parents are invited are not subject to this legal requirement unless the school has decided to combine the event with the daily act of collective worship."
I find it odd that the law of this country can determine that our children's daily acts of worship must be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character, yet the law does not protect the traditional nativity play! This is something that we will have to keep an eye on for the future - Christmas will be difficult to protect if secularism is being drip fed to children as young as five!
Recommended reading this weekend - His Grace
Friday, December 08, 2006
Living the Orwellian nightmare
All your details on one big database!_________________________________________________________________
With a generous hat tip to Iain Dale, if, like me, you are beginning to wonder about where the government's I.D. card schemes might take us, then take a good look at - this (you need to have your sound turned up!)
It's just around the next corner!
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Sunderland players "score" on video
Shame for Black Cats
Since the arrival of Roy Keane at Sunderland we have all been waiting for the new boss to get the opportunity of demonstrating exactly what he has learned in terms of man management from those mentors he used to play for, Alex Ferguson and Brian Clough.
Now it looks as though he has the perfect chance to practice his 'hair drying' techniques with the release of the news that current Sunderland striker Chris Brown, on loan midfielder Liam Lawrence, and loan ranger goalkeeper Ben Alnwick have been starring in a seven minute video "scoring" away from home. The gang, along with former Black Cat Martin Woods were filmed enjoying some extra mural activities with a female brunette going by the name of "Stevie".
Lawrence is reported to have given a running commentary on the event but it is not known if Alnwick managed to keep a clean sheet!
Vague reminders of the Melanie Sykes affair, which saw the selling of Chris Makin by Peter Reid and the soon to follow departure of Nicky Summerbee.
I guess that Keane will be "pulling" out all the stops to make Lawrence's venture to "Poke" City a permanent move, and Alnwick's move to Spurs is more or less a done deal anyway. Expect to see some movement in the transfer market in January, the players have made it easier for Keane to determine their futures.
The Sunderland Echo.
Further dark deeds in Sunderland
Misuse of public funds._________________________________________________________________
Back in Novenber I reported on the resignation from the Labour group of Sunderland's former Labour Leader Bryn Sidaway, I am grateful to Rossinisbird for passing me this piece from the latest edition of Private Eye:
Labour's "voluntary" fundraising levy on
councillors' allowances. The Sunderland Labour
party has shot itself in the foot again.
The row about the levy came to light after
Labour councillor Bryn Sidaway refused to pay
three percent of his 7,000 pound allowance to party
coffers, on the grounds that it was a misuse
of public funds and broke party rules. He was
summoned to a special meeting of the city's
Labour group to be bollocked - but resigned from
the party and joined the council's Independent
Now the Independents in Sunderland have
complained to the Standards Board for England
over a further misuse of public funds by Labour.
The letter from chief whip Anne Hall, summoning
the 58 Labour councillors to Sidaway's show
trial was typed by council leader Bob Symonds'
secretary, Sue dark, a council employee, in
council time, copied on a council photocopier on
to council paper, put into council envelopes and.
delivered to the councillors' homes by council
Sunderland council's standards code prohibits
the use of resources, including staff, stationery,
PCs, printers and photocopiers, for party political
purposes. On Wearside, however, such abuse of
public funds is apparently routine.
I am pleased to note that when the Corner Shop questioned Paul Waggot, the Labour Leader of South Tyneside Council, about the fund raising racket forced upon local councils by Blair's H.Q., he was pleased to tell me that they will have nothing to do with it in these parts. Furthermore, judging by the spelling, I am quite sure that Cllr. Waggott typed the reply on his own PC and by his own hand!
Hit by the clunking fist!
Gordon clobbered me!
I don't drive a gas guzzling 4x4 "Chelsea Tractor", I have a modest family saloon made in the North-East with an engine capacity of less than 1500 cc's, and therefore attracts a lower tax rate, it has relatively low emissions and is always well maintained. I don't drive it too much, and I walk a lot more than I used to, South Shields is not a huge town and you can get around on foot quite easily, and if the fancy takes you, we have good public transport with frequent buses and a very convenient Metro rail system.
But the "clunking" fist that Tony Blair predicted would come smashing into Cameron's face missed by a mile and hit me instead! I got hit in the pocket again! My fuel costs will rise to save the environment (OOPS - I meant to line the government's coffers!)
I have never taken a holiday abroad since before the birth of my children, and I was thinking that it would be nice to take them away to some sunnier climate next year, a rare treat wouldn't do much harm now would it? OUCH - I've just been hit again! What? An extra tax on flying!
My holiday costs will rise to save the environment (OOPS - I meant to line the Treasury's pocket!)
Just when will Gordy learn, if he wants to raise green taxes then he needs to identify areas where investment will have a profound effect in reducing carbon emissions, by this I mean research and development of alternative fuels for cars, fuel cell batteries, bio-diesel engines, carbon absorption exhaust systems, you get the picture - use the money raised for the benefit of the environment not the benefit of H.M Government!
Born in 1956
Former Borough Councillor
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