The Plastic Hippo

January 19, 2013

Winter warmer

Filed under: Education,Environment,Rights,Society — theplastichippo @ 2:06 am

Sweet pepper and chorizo soup

Sweet pepper and chorizo soup

To be perfectly honest, the timing was a little disappointing. However, when the accurately predicted snow did descend on the little town of Walsall, it did not let us down; there was lots of it. Shame it didn`t fall on Sunday night.

Dispatching children off to their various utterly wonderful seats of learning, each child sniffing the lard coloured sky in the hope of a day off, it seemed that the end of the world had been merely a rumour and the maelstrom had not closed Walsall`s palaces of education and thereby ruin the day`s learning. That job, for now at least, remains with Serco. As the snow continued to fall and realising that the finest examples of academe in our picturesque town would be closing at lunchtime, like Captain Oates I wandered out into the garden in the general direction of the shed where I knew for certain lurked two sledges. It took some time to find them.

Sure enough, just after lunch, the waifs returned bedraggled, wet and frozen following the inevitable closure of their “nourishing mother of studies” and future alma mater studiorum. Dad thawed them out with hot chocolate and toasted bagels with cream cheese then found hats, gloves, scarves and boots. The arboretum was stunning. After such a marvellous afternoon out in the elements, something warming was required for tea. (more…)

January 18, 2013

His master`s voice

Filed under: Media,Music,Politics,Society — theplastichippo @ 2:31 am
Image via HMV

Image via HMV

Apparently, the dog was called Nipper. He died in 1895 and was buried in a park in Kingston-upon-Thames. Appropriately enough, a branch of Lloyds TSB now covers the final resting place of the High Street icon and charity shops and closed steel shutters now cover the High Street.

The howls of nostalgic mourning at the retail power of the internet cannot deflect from the simple reality that Comet, Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster were badly managed and basically out of date. Undoubtedly, the very well paid directors and CEO`s of these failed companies will receive generous remuneration for their time and lack of effort but the real victims of incompetence will be, as ever, the workforce. In the barking mad rhetoric of a clueless coalition government, those that left the workplace in the evening as “strivers”, returned in the morning as “shirkers”. Rather than spending their wages to boost the economy, they will now be forced to claim benefits from the state. Osborne`s plan A for austerity is not working and is criminally insane.

Apart from being the most inept Chancellor of the Exchequer in living memory, including the woeful Norman Lamont, Osborne is also very, very stupid. After a series of disastrous budgets and budget statements resulting in endless u-turns and climb-downs, this inbred oaf remains in office and continues to destroy the national economy. Happy with hookers, lines of coke and smashed up restaurants, this complete idiot is now a liability to the nation yet continues to enjoy the confidence of his Bullingdon chum Cameron. Between them, they have the collective intellect of a recently decapitated mollusc and all the charm of a kitten sucking razor blades. After demonising the poor, the unemployed, the sick and the disabled, Osborne steals from them to reward his wealthy friends. With £7billion, yes billion, of bonuses to bankers being deferred until April to take advantage of the Chancellor`s tax break for millionaires, terminally ill cancer patients, double amputees, people diagnosed with severe schizophrenia and dying children are judged “fit for work” and are having their rights to benefit removed and are being abandoned by the state that has a duty to support them. (more…)

January 15, 2013

Reviewing the situation

Filed under: Education,Literature,Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 3:38 am
Mary Evans/Romulus Films/Everett Collection

Mary Evans/Romulus Films/Everett Collection

Oliver Twist, or The Parish Boy`s Progress, was published in monthly instalments between February 1837 and April 1839. Today, with both national and local government harming children and young people, Dickens could have published his critique of the Poor Laws, class and child poverty yesterday.

From day one of this malignant coalition government, it was clear that we would be returning to an era of workhouses, kicking beggars, demonising the infirmed and denying education to all but the privileged, wealthy few. With men as irredeemably insane as Ian Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling, Eric Pickles and Michael Gove introducing new poor law legislation to dismantle the Welfare State, the only surprise is how quickly and how far they have gone in achieving the destruction of fairness and equality of opportunity.

Closing Surestart centres, scrapping EMA, increasing tuition fees, forcing Academy status on unwilling schools, politicising the curriculum and inventing then increasing artificial and meaningless “targets” confirms their mad agenda for the end of state education. The latest tool in the Department for Education`s armoury is a John Nash. No; not John Nash the architect who designed most of Regency London, but John Nash the wide-boy venture capitalist who is currently being fast-tracked to a peerage in order for him to join the government. It seems this shyster is qualified to become an education minister because he has sponsored Academies and is clearly an expert on teaching and learning because he and his wife have donated £300,000 to the Conservative party. Parents, teachers, school governors and children need not be concerned that a loan-shark that has never faced an election should now be shaping education policy under the barking mad Michael Gove. The government, after all, did not win the election and have no mandate to impose such carnage. Her Majesties loyal opposition remain implacably silent. If these events took place in another nation, Miliband would be screaming “corruption”. Consider yourself, well fooled. (more…)

January 12, 2013

Offensive charm

Filed under: Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 2:04 am
Pike and Wilson via BBC

Pike and Wilson via BBC

In a fair, democratic meritocracy, it might be possible to feel some sympathy for councillor Ian Shires. The poor man has talked his way out of a massive pay rise. Sadly, we do not live in a fair, democratic meritocracy.

One of the more amusing aspects of the recent farcical meeting of Walsall council is witnessing scurrilous local politicians attempting to claim the moral high ground. The sunlit uplands of political morality are, however, fraught with danger for unwary councillors with the only hope of salvation being a reliance on the Norfolk Broads Mountain Rescue Team. The honour of being first amongst equals in boldly going into uncharted ethical waters must be awarded councillor Ian Shires, leader of the Walsall Liberal Democrats. If we discount the works of fiction invented for Walsall Labour Group press releases and the blue sky Tory propaganda churned out on the dreadful council website, avuncular Ian is the only Walsall group leader to engage with social media. In one of his latest pronouncements regarding increased allowances for coalition cabinet members, he said: “When people are being asked to tighten their belts it`s only right and proper that those charged with the running of the town should show restraint and forego any increases.” (more…)

January 9, 2013

Relatively speaking

Filed under: Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 8:00 pm
Tim, Mike and Ian

Tim, Mike and Ian

It is unlikely that Albert Einstein ever visited Walsall, but if anyone possessed the gift of seeing into the future then the cartographer of the space/time continuum must have had the current political basket case that is Walsall in mind when he said: “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I`m not sure about the former”.

The shameful goings on at the meeting of Walsall council on Monday night sent the human stupidity gauge way off the scale causing it to explode into thousands of shards of what was once representative democracy. Any pretence at accountability, honour or public service has been finally shattered and has disappeared down a black hole of greed, self-interest, incompetence and idiocy. We really have fallen down a rabbit hole into an alternative universe populated by lumbering primates picking fleas out of each others` fur.

It was third time lucky for Mike Bird and his cronies in their attempt to line their own pockets as the rest of us suffer the cuts imposed by Mike Bird and his cronies. Nero fiddled as Rome burned; Walsall cabinet trouser an extra £55,000. In the great scheme of local government finance, 55 grand is a relatively small amount of money especially when the inept executive is after another £13million in cuts and is spending yet another million quid in tarting up the Civic Centre and the Council House. However, the increase in allowances by 55 grand becomes a gargantuan sum as it is the price we will pay for abject failure in office, lack of credibility and accountability, breathtaking arrogance and total contempt for the people councillors were elected to represent. That, councillor Bird, is how Relativity works. Your greed and incompetence has confirmed that Walsall is a rotten borough. As Einstein said: “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the only means”. (more…)

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