The Plastic Hippo

May 17, 2012

Child catcher

Filed under: Education,Politics — theplastichippo @ 1:17 am

Ofsted have decided that 450,000 British school children need to disappear off the Special Educational Needs Register because they are too expensive to maintain. I do not think that this government can sink any lower. I might be wrong.

May 15, 2012

All aboard the skylark

Filed under: Health,Society,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 8:56 pm

The general consensus of received wisdom from the good and the great who claim to know about this stuff, suggests that blogging will never make money. The good and the great, however, underestimate the power of advertising.

This humble blog would never entertain the mercenary idea of debasing itself by promoting goods and services in order to pursue financial gain. The very notion that your correspondent would ever suggest that you part with your hard earned cash to buy a particular newspaper, that pizza (free delivery within three miles) or another lovely set of double glazed windows simply because the company happens to be in the area, is completely ridiculous. Other uvpc contractors are available, terms and conditions apply. This blog remains external to the Temple of Mammon.

However, faced with a crisis, with heavy rain and flooding causing the cancellation of the Vale of Evesham asparagus festival, the hippo resorted to his favourite farm shop up on Barr Beacon. Sadly, no early Worcestershire asparagus was available and the big, fat pink one had to be satisfied with inferior, imported Belgian stems. The asparagus auction has been re-scheduled and will now take place on May 27th at the Fleece in Bretforton and the farm shop on Barr Beacon is open daily offering a wide selection of meat, fruit, vegetables and other home grown produce. This information is given as a public service and is in no way an endorsement of any commercial enterprise. Barr Beacon bacon, though, is simply superb.

On Saturday afternoon, lacking sufficient sour cream for the dill mustard sauce to accompany the baked Scottish salmon or the six cloves of garlic and butter required to pan fry the asparagus, a trip to a town centre supermarket became a necessity. The local corner shop provides an impressive choice of inexpensive white cider but does not, as yet, stock the olives and feta cheese that makes a Greek salad Greek. Walsall boasts a number of supermarkets, all of which are dreadful, so the discerning shopper keen on a pleasant retail experience needs to look beyond the unidentified item in the bagging area for something that will add value. In this case, on a sunny afternoon, the supermarket of choice was determined by its proximity to the excellent Black Country Arms.

This fine old boozer offers a range of cask conditioned ales, delicious bar meals and a friendly welcome. Selecting a pint of fine Somerset scrumpy, experience dictated that the brew is best enjoyed standing up in the open air because after drinking even a single pint, any attempt at rising from a chair and then exiting an enclosed room will result in waking up surrounded by a crowd of concerned citizenry. After two pints, the long, slow climb back up the hill to Chuckery began.

The slight feeling of otherworldliness was expected but the addition of the sound of an egg whisk being applied to a still functioning brain was something new and a little disconcerting. Looking up into a clear blue sky, the increasing noise of little grey cells being blended was explained by the arrival of a bright red, low flying helicopter. Dodging the monstrous Tameway tower, perhaps Walsall`s ugliest building, the air ambulance hovered above Flan O`Briens which provides a wide choice of beers, wines and spirits and live music on Thursday and Sunday night.

There was considerable police activity at the junction where Bridge Street becomes Ablewell Street and Rushall Street changes from lower to upper, just a few steps away from the excellent Eat Well Chinese Takeaway and near to the wonderful Indian cuisine of Shimla Peppers now taking party bookings, all major credit cards accepted. On Warewell Street, there had been a road traffic collision and the helicopter began to descend.

A small crowd had formed and were being ushered away from a small car park close to the accident as paramedics treated an injured driver. With extraordinary skill, the pilot set his aircraft down in blustery winds on an inclined surface with the tips of the rotor blades about two metres from a nearby wall. Forget the Red Arrows, this guy had class. Understandably, the arrival of the Eurocopter EC 135 brought local residents out of their homes to view the scene, especially if they realised that the aircraft has only recently taken to the skies again after being grounded over safety checks to the main rotor hub-shaft flange or the “Jesus nut” as veterans of Vietnam have been known to describe it.

Some of the crowd returned to their houses to fetch cameras to join the onlookers who held up mobile phones. Having captured the moment for posterity, some elements in the crowd began to photograph the casualty as he, or she, was receiving treatment still in the driver`s seat. One rather excitable young man rushed up and asked what was going on. On being told of a road accident, he said: “Oh wow! Is there any blood?” and produced a camera phone. Although wishing to see the skill involved in lifting the aircraft, this ghoulish insensitivity meant that it was time to leave and keep the appointment with a salmon and the asparagus.

Since then, after a few days of searching local news sites, the incident seems to have gone unreported even in the indispensable and comprehensive YamYam. We can only assume, therefore, that the evacuation was successful and can only hope that the casualty is on the way to a full recovery. If that should be the case, then the unfortunate driver was lucky enough to receive the attention of a disappearing National Health Service. In future, “customer interface operatives” from the likes of Virgin and Serco, instead of checking for a pulse, will be checking the credit cards of the injured before summoning an ambulance. At the moment, Midlands Air Ambulance is funded by charitable donation. This information is given as a public service and is in no way an endorsement of any commercial enterprise.

Many of the splendid local companies above (not you Virgin and Serco – you can sling your hooks) might be delighted at the advertising contained in this post which can often reach an audience of as many a ten. Some may wish to offer financial backing or maybe supply hampers of their delicious provender. Please do not. Instead, send a cheque to Midlands Air Ambulance or make a donation here.

This humble blog, unlike the NHS these days, is not run for profit.

May 14, 2012

Uncle Fester

Filed under: Rights,Society — theplastichippo @ 12:21 am

As half a million people with disabilities are about to be denied their basic human rights, Iain Duncan Smith claims that losing a limb does not disable a person and that the disabled are “festering”. Somewhere there is a rope and an available lamp post for this heartless bastard. I guess by writing this, I am now a terrorist.

May 9, 2012

Plaid Cymru targets Walsall

Filed under: Fiction,Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 2:08 pm

Following a disappointing performance in Powys, Gwynedd and Ceredigion, Plaid Cymru is set to stage a dramatic comeback. As Labour swept to power in neighbouring boroughs, Walsall remains in limbo and has attracted the attention of the men and women of Harlech.

In an audacious strategy to expand their power base east of Offa`s Dyke, Welsh nationalists are keen to exploit areas where weak local authorities and ineffectual opposition fail to represent voters. On polling day in Walsall, senior tacticians from the principality were said to be carefully analysing voting trends to study if any advantage can be gained in fielding Plaid council candidates in the heart of England.

With the Walsall electorate delivering yet another inconclusive result, the council continues to have no overall control and will be subject to a further two years of shady backroom deals that will put the interests of political parties before the interests of the populous. The local parties, who the majority of people did not bother to vote for, have already condemned the rumoured intervention of the Welsh as “blatant opportunism”. However, one source allegedly close to the Plaid party leadership told respected local journalists that Walsall is historically part of Wales. The insider, who did not want to be named in case the quote was ever likely to be verified, said:
“Look you, dai bach, Walsall`s always been Welsh. We both used to have mines. You have brown hills, we have black mountains…Black Country, see? Wales, Walsall, same first three letters, see? Dew, it`s bloody obvious.”

Should the bold plan be successful and Welsh nationalists take control of Walsall council, it is thought that a number of radical policies will be implemented. To bring in equality with the rest of Wales, equitable and fair social care will be introduced along with support for students struggling with university tuition fees. Prescription charges will be abolished and the new administration will demand that the United Nations declare the M54 as a safe corridor to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to Darlaston, Willenhall, Short Heath and Pleck.

The Welsh education department will move from its current location in the room above the Spar shop in Borth and occupy the Educational Development Centre in Pelsall that has been recently abandoned by Serco. The Welsh language will be a compulsory subject in all Walsall schools and untaxed lamb oggies, seaweed and Brains bitter will appear on school lunch menus.

Dai the tractor will replace Tarmac with a new contract to maintain the roads based on the fact that he actually owns two tractors and Dai the sparks will look after the street lights instead of Amey. Fireman Sam will provide fire protection although response times might be unpredictable due to the distance from Pontypandy.

Free parking for Walsall residents will be provided in Llandudno and rugby and choir practice will be central to a revised policy of leisure services. The New Art Gallery will be re-named Newydd Oriel Genedlaethol Owain Glyndwr.

With Labour in Walsall bucking the national trend by managing to actually lose council seats, the net gain of a single councillor has provided encouragement to the Welsh nationalist who seem hungry for power. However, Plaid Cymru cannot afford to be complacent or expect electoral success simply be being something other than Conservative or Liberal Democrat. Emboldened by a victory in their presidential election, French socialist are considering opposing Welsh expansion in Walsall and Greek neo-fascists might also be planning to fill the political vacuum created by a poor Labour performance. Plaid Cymru, nonetheless, remain confident that the Welsh dragon will soon fly above the Council House in Lichfield Street.

The unnamed Plaid spokesperson who might, or might not, actually exist, went on to say:
“Anniginol ydy un iaith. Iechyd da i chwi yn awr ac yn oesoedd. Mae fy hofrenfad yn llawn llyswennod.”

Trained linguistic experts at Walsall council press office offered this translation:
“One language is never enough. Good health to you now and forever. My hovercraft is full of eels.”

May 3, 2012

Carry on screaming

Filed under: Politics,Rights,Society — theplastichippo @ 8:59 pm

On local election day, as the people of Britain went to the polls, it is worth remembering that it`s not all doom and gloom. Someone somewhere can afford to spend £74million on a painting.

There might be some deluded people that are continuing to whine about the NHS being cut up and sold off to any passing cowboy interested in making a fast buck. This pathetic stance is anti-business, anti-growth and goes against the noble entrepreneurial spirit of making large sums of money for very little effort. The business model of Virgin Trains is perfect for the NHS. Being overcharged to stand for four hours outside an overflowing toilet on the west coast mainline is a perfect pre-op procedure to wait for a late operation only to be told that the National Health hip replacement service has been replaced with a Virgin Trains bus replacement service.

Serco are certain to make bucket loads of cash running health care. Their experience of beating the crap out of children will mean that a visit to a Serco hospital will result in a visit to a Virgin A&E which will result in a visit to a Serco hospital. It`s called working smarter in the interest of deficit reduction, just ignore the screams coming out of ward six.

After two years of coalition madness, 740,000 people working in the public sector have lost or are losing their jobs. 33,000 members of the armed forces, 16,000 police officers and support staff and 56,000 nurses join them. It is obvious that the 1,700 staff previously in gainful employment at Remploy is the cause of the dire financial crisis. Executives of banks continue to receive salaries and bonuses that might allow them to purchase one or two of the finer works by Edvard Munch.

On the day that a man who does not possess either leg has disability benefits removed because the private, profit making company ATOS cannot decide if he has a disability of not, another man who complained against surface to air missiles placed on his roof is served an eviction notice. Poor people in London are being deported to far off villages like Stoke and Walsall in order not to cause offence to the crooks and cheats that populate the International Olympic Committee or embarrass their corporate sponsors.

Building Schools for the Future destroyed, EMA withdrawn, tuition fees increased and one million young people unemployed. Legal aid for victims of domestic violence a thing of the past, elderly people who have served and saved punished, people with disabilities branded as scroungers, doctors not allowed to sign sick notes but expected to employ snake oil salesmen to run their practices and the dismissal of the democratic process make this election day rather special.

With the polls about to close, it is pointless to rail against voter apathy. It is delightful to remember that this day, March 3rd, saw the birth of a certain Niccolo Machiavelli. If you didn`t scream today, you can always scream tomorrow.

May the fourth be with you.

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