The Plastic Hippo

October 28, 2012

Hair of the dog

Filed under: Environment,Politics,Society,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 10:44 pm

Tax Payers Alliance

There are occasions when, after months of trying to think up an excuse, a legitimate and perfectly valid reason for not doing something presents itself. Serendipity has smiled and it appears that I have developed an allergy to the adopted dog.

Regular readers of this humble blog might recall the rather tragic story of how I was duped into walking a stupid great lump of canine after a dear friend and neighbour was taken ill. Once recovered, the dear friend no longer required the services of a reluctant dog walking fitness coach and I was free to go. Nearly 18 months on and I am still being dragged around Walsall Arboretum by this idiot beast for reasons that escape me. It is no longer true that the almost daily walks are efficacious in maintaining health as the brute is trying to kill me with his loyalty and unconditional affection.

This summer, or what passes for summer in this country, the warmer days and dryer air provoked the strangest of reactions. A new experience of an unusual itching inside the nostrils, watering eyes, tightness in the throat and explosive sneezes suggested late onset hay fever. This went on for about a week unabated during every visit to the Arboretum until, when the dog and owner were away on holiday, a Sunday morning family walk in the Arboretum was free of streaming eyes, the copious amounts of snot and the desire to drink the Arboretum Lake. The dog returned, the walks resumed and the symptoms presented themselves again. During the next few weeks, with walks in Canon Hill Park in Birmingham, the Lime Pits, Merrion`s Wood, Cuckoos` Nest and the Dingle in Walsall without the company of this wretched animal and without the suspected hay fever, it became obvious that the discomfort was being caused by the bloody hound dog.

Upon hearing this, the dear friend and owner of the gluttonous brute assumed that the dog walking would cease. Sadly, I blew it, mumbling something about wishing to keep an eye on the Arboretum improvements and the opportunity to part company with the slobbering wolf in wolf`s clothing was lost. The stuff about the Arboretum improvements was partially true and the company of the wretched cur merely incidental… honest. The warm, dry two week summer was endured and the allergy receded, which brings us to a late October Saturday morning following a late Friday night and too much wine. Under clear, blue, cold skies, the Arboretum looked stunning in her gold, brown and red autumn skirts. The refurbishment is looking very good and work on the play area has started at last. Whoever is supervising this project is doing an outstanding job in improving an already cherished civic asset. However, dark rumours suggest that those who care for Walsall`s green spaces will be rewarded with a hollow thank you and a P45.

It`s budget setting time again in dear old Walsall and yet again the same old garbage is being spouted by cabinet councillors and their bag carriers in the propaganda office. There are the usual platitudes of “hard times” and “difficult decisions” and “there`s nothing we can do about it” and the insulting farce of claiming to be listening to the public via sham “consultation.” Mike Bird and his troughing cronies really do think we are stupid. The latest solution to years of municipal financial mismanagement, incompetence and arrogance is to neglect common public spaces and make the people who care for them redundant.

Eminent and venerable local bloggers have been quick to hit their keyboards with common sense that will sadly be way over the heads of the useless clowns that sit around the cabinet table. The wonderful mad old baggage Linda Mason, with a salutary nod toward Joni Mitchell, was first to express concern at the proposed idiocy. Linda has now been on the radio as much as Joni but not as much as Mike Bird when Radio WM, as part of its charter obligation, needs to fill its idiot broadcast quota. The twitching Mushroom weighed in with a lovely piece describing the wealth of wildlife that exists in our green spaces. One armed bowman and stunt double for Brian Glover AideyM added his wise voice and the redoubtable Brownhills Bob did what he does best. In terms of plain speaking, straight-to-the-point honesty, Bob could give “man of the people” bully boy Bird a run for his considerable stash of money.

In such articulate and esteemed company, there is little that this humble blog can add other than to agree and vow to challenge this threat to one of the few things that Walsall Council does well. The officers that care for our countryside have given more to this borough and its people than the likes of Mike Bird and his chums could ever dream of. When times are hard and difficult decisions have to be made, it is easy to identify the public servant committed to serving the public who wishes to give rather than take. Bird tried to increase his remuneration, not once, but twice and will no doubt try it again. After years of thinking up excuses for their own inability, this woeful cabinet must be wishing for serendipity to rescue them from the mess they have created. They seem to have developed an allergic reaction to accountability.

After the bracing walk with the dog on Saturday morning around the Arboretum and what used to be a golf course, the Friday night hang-over was gone. If this wonderful habitat goes as well, there will be a very large wolf in wolf`s clothing that would love to be introduced to the people responsible.

And it will not be to pass on an allergy.

1 Comment »

  1. An interesting alternative to the usual Hippo.

    Just to add some facts.

    Walsall has more countryside and open spaces than any other comparable Metropolitan Borough. These accommodate a numbers of SSSI designations, a range of protected species and a number of outstanding Victorian and Edwardian parks.

    Walsall also gave birth, in the mid-nineties, to the national Local Involvement Programme, which saw the establishment of thousands of Friends Groups across the country to manage and care for open space provision. Indeed, local bigwigs such as Barry Sanders and Sean Coughlan first came to prominence through this route.

    However, like libraries, public lavatories and the youth service, I suspect that maintaining our open space heritage is low on the local political agenda when compared to giving Bird another pay rise.

    The Realist

    ps I am glad that you are enjoying the ‘new-look’ Arboretum. One benefit of losing the Illuminations is that it allows the very few skilled gardeners that are left on the Councils books to properly maintain the trees, beds and plants.

    Comment by The Realist — November 6, 2012 @ 11:49 am | Reply

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