Since its recent restoration, Walsall Arboretum is looking magnificent; sadly, the same cannot be said of some sections of Walsall`s cafe society. With the Boeuf Bourguignon simmering nicely in the oven, what better way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon than walking in the glorious aspects of Walsall`s finest parkland.
Now that summer is finally here, the full glory of the Arboretum can be appreciated and the good folk of Walsall should offer their thanks and congratulations to the people who secured the fine restoration. The time, money and effort has been well spent and make the attempts by the troughing political freeloaders in cabinet to take all the credit even more distasteful. We should remember that it was officers and council staff who indentified the funding, did the planning and managed the project and not the useless councillors smoothing the way through maladministration to secure dodgy deals for their rich pals.
Curiously, in an example that proves there is an exception to every rule, one councillor and cabinet member did champion the argument for improving the Arboretum. He didn`t last long and was removed from cabinet after being honest enough to say that the ghastly illuminations were a tatty waste of money and would mercifully cease. Outraged by this rare candour, Walsall`s ruling elite had him deselected from his ward to prevent any further spread of dangerous truth. He was also found to be surplus to requirements as a considerably less able cabinet member required his safe Tory seat. Such commitment to constituents is a wonderful thing but is not terribly important when considering cabinet self interest.
To celebrate the Arboretum`s renaissance, what better way to mark benevolent civic amenity than with that cultural highlight of Walsall`s social calendar, yet another bloody funfair. Compared with today`s lovely walk with the adopted dog, last Sunday`s promenade was like entering the very deepest pit of hell. Billed as “The Spectacular Big Weekend” and emphasising free admission, this journey through a torture chamber epitomised the vision of municipal leaders that begins and ends with supermarkets, Primark and white knuckle rides to amuse the common herd. Ambition, it seems, is limited to seeing how much of the public purse can be pocketed in “allowances” before a distracted angry mob enacts the defenestration of Lichfield Street.
Funfairs, clearly, are not to everyone`s taste and a stranger to Walsall visiting the Arboretum last Sunday would be wrong to judge the entire population by observing the clientele attracted to flashing lights, loud noise and things that go up and down and round and round. However, purely in the interests of social anthropology, some of the sights had to be seen and had to be seen to be believed.
Gentlemen of Walsall:
Not wearing a shirt at the first hint of sunshine is easier to carry off if one does not possess a beer gut the size of Wales. Cross of Saint George football shorts might look good on Beckham but open sores on the shins spoils the effect. Sporting a large tattoo proclaiming “No Surrender” presumably does not refer to a healthy lifestyle given the double whopper with cheese in one fist and the can of Tennant`s Extra in the other. Fathers: screaming “Ay, Rio, f**cking get here now you f**cking little w**ker” will not necessarily improve the vocabulary of your four-year-old.
Women of Walsall:
Being blessed with embonpoint resembling a dead heat in a Zeppelin race does not allow you to inflict them upon an innocent public and please remember that exposing the vast fuselage and superstructure required to support your assets does not make you look like Lady Gaga. Mothers: decanting Coca cola into an infant`s feeding bottle may stop it screaming but it will do nothing for dental development.
Obviously, freedom of expression through haut couture and lifestyle choice is an inalienable human freedom and a basic right and any criticism is nothing more than judgemental bourgeois snobbery. However, we all have the right to enjoy a public place without having to experience parenting skills worthy of King Herod or be confronted by gargantuan rolls of blubber cascading out of clothing three sizes too small for the wearer. Apart from the swearing and the beauty pageant celebrating morbid obesity, perhaps the most frightening experience was seeing face after face with a thousand yard stare that indicated diminished cognition and the possibility that Darwin has got things horribly wrong. Perhaps evolution is not universal. This might explain why some people are happy to pay two and a half quid to be shaken about for two minutes. On the other hand, it could be something to do with education.
The woeful Walsall council website was keen to point out that “The Spectacular Big Weekend” was “not a council led event” which might explain the absence of the usual funfair of choice owned by the current cabinet member for leisure and culture. When it comes to planning, this chap certainly has the X factor in parting fools from their money and will be doing so in Darlaston between June 15 and 22. Sadly, this year`s crop of would be joy riders missed out on seeing monster truck racing and motorcycles jumping over things and pulling wheelies in the Arboretum. Fortunately, their elders will be able to teach the skills required for a bit of off road fun in public open spaces.
If being ignored in education by the truly villainous Serco machine were not enough, generations of young people in Walsall are being abandoned and forced to pay for the greed and incompetence of a self serving and inept cabinet. In the showman`s own ward, a long standing and successful youth facility is being closed and the building sold off to God knows who. We can only hope that after the recent brush with the Ombudsman over some petty issue of serious maladministration, councillors Q, X and V are not involved with the sale and trust that their wealthy friend, who we shall refer to totally randomly and without any significance as The Elephant Man, will stick to flogging number plates from his gated mansion.
Shutting youth clubs and offering young people an inadequate education, or “learning offer” as people who don`t teach like to put it, leads to nothing to do and a disaffected young population. Bright, talented and full of potential, the real tragedy is seeing these kids turn into young adults attracted to burgers, beer, funfairs and worse. Yesterday, photographs appeared online of boys described as the “Youth Brigade” of a particularly nasty racist group known for their complete and utter lack of intellect. Being very stupid, however, does not mean that these morons lack the guile to be manipulative. Young men with nothing to do, failed by education and with no hope of employment are easily fooled into unfounded hatred and violence. “Do you want some booze? Some skunk? A blade? Just stand in front of the cenotaph, make a salute and have your picture taken. Good lad, now you`re a man.” This happened in a ward represented by the cabinet member for children`s services. Across town, someone else was making a promise of a hundred virgins in paradise. Do you see where this is going? Looks like we can expect a really, really big spectacular weekend.
But hey, let`s not worry. In just 12 months we can go to another bloody funfair.