The Plastic Hippo

July 9, 2010

Darlaston – through a glass darkly

Filed under: Education,Health,Politics,Sport,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 3:32 pm

It seems that windows at Darlaston Leisure Centre have been covered over to protect the privacy of swimmers. The hippo now looks forward to seeing huge wooden hoardings erected in the Arboretum in order to protect his dignity as he doggy paddles around Hatherton Lake and the shooting down of the Google Earth satellite the next time it passes overhead. Hippos have rights as well, you know.

Walsall council, stripped of cash and lacking any decency, are in the sordid process of closing leisure centres in order to save money but have somehow managed to find the wherewithal to place “dark film” over the glazing of the Darlaston beauty spot. It would be considerably cheaper to simply board them up as is about to happen at Willenhall Leisure Centre and lock the doors forever so swimmers cannot get in.

This latest piece of nonsense would normally be received with a phlegmatic shrug of the shoulders from the long-suffering council tax payers of Walsall conditioned to accept scandalous levels of waste, incompetence and inefficiency, but something different took place. The local rag picked up the story and claimed that the people asking for the windows to be covered up were (gasp) Muslim women. It wasn’t long before the national press, and you will not have any difficulty in guessing which ones, were all over the story like a rash and bellowing of political correctness gone mad. Only the BBC reported that some of the small number of pool users who asked for a modesty screen were actually Muslim women.

In the centre of the media frenzy, our council did what it does best; it made matters worse and botched its response. Desperate to distance itself from suggestions of pandering to a minority, it has claimed that the screens were put in place so fat and ugly people would not suffer the indignity of being laughed at. So, after stirring up some of the vile and deep seated prejudices in sections of the press and within our own community, the council now points the finger at the rotund. It is no surprise that this has gone largely unreported as most of us, including London tabloid hacks are, to use the words of Councillor Anthony Harris, “a little overweight”. Perhaps cling film will encourage more people into high street shops given the acres of corpulent flesh on display when the sun comes out in Walsall.

The council wheeled out the Institute of Sport and Recreational Management to “applaud and support the initiative to protect the modesty of some sections of the local community” and the head of leisure and culture at Walsall council, Chris Holliday, told us that “not everyone is confident in their Speedos”. Well, not everyone is confident in their council either.

The building has some history when it comes to windows. Adjustable blinds were fitted some time ago in the days before overweight people were allowed to swim. This initiative had nothing to do with political correctness but with, as the tabloids would have it, health and safety gone mad. It seems that the lifeguards could not do their jobs properly because of the glare the tropical Darlaston sun made on the surface of the water. Strange that the tabloids didn’t report this but, back then, it would have more difficult to weave in an insidious reference to a burkha.

A no less august body than the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment has described the building as having the “benefits of daylight and external views”. Not any more. CABE also praises the unique iron and plywood roof but sadly, the roof has rusted after just 10 years and is in need of repair. But the porky paddlers of Darlaston need not worry. A short waddle to Willenhall will spare their blushes. Ah, hang on, maybe not.

The fact that Walsall council are once again attempting to spin the “we have listened to the community and acted” line is yet another example of blatant hypocrisy. They listened to people with disabilities who wanted to preserve dedicated parking spaces in Walsall town centre but acted in favour of taxi drivers who coveted the more lucrative side of the street. They listened to members of the Ahmadiyya community who wanted to open a place of worship but acted on behalf of the majority. They listened to children, parents and staff at Darlaston Comprehensive and gave it away against the wishes of the community.

At this point, readers may wish to add further examples, and there are many, as a comment. This is not an excuse for lazy writing, just an attempt to avoid a rise in blood pressure, a post longer than a winding road and a desire for insurrection. These things are not good for an overweight hippo.

In the King James version of the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 13 has:
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.” This has been interpreted to mean that we will only understand the true face of God once we arrive in the afterlife. Perhaps the people of the borough, especially young people, will only understand the depth of incompetence that surrounds them after they are prematurely ushered through the pearly gates.

Closing schools and swimming pools never made anybody clever or healthy and with more cuts announced, the hippo cannot afford a larger pair of Speedos.

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2 Comments »

  1. […] quandary by the situation, desperately scrabbling for some way to blame Walsall Council whilst not joining in with the pitchfork and flaming torch mob that descended. Thanks, Hippo, that raised a rare laugh in the […]

    Pingback by Disgusted of Darlaston « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog — July 11, 2010 @ 1:33 pm | Reply

  2. http://www2.walsall.gov.uk/CMISWebPublic/Binary.ashx?Document=8871

    What can the first paragraph of this report mean? An UNDERSPEND across the whole of Walsall Council? Now, what about those cuts that we made. let’s make some more to increase the UNDERSPEND

    Comment by Observer — July 12, 2010 @ 6:48 am | Reply


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