The Plastic Hippo

June 30, 2013

Biggles of the Butts

Filed under: History,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 6:43 pm
Supermarine S5

Supermarine S5

In an increasingly cynical and often nasty world, a chance encounter with a total stranger can sometimes result in unexpected delight. Meeting Bill, a retired teacher who it must be said is not exactly in the first flush of youth, proved that you do actually learn something new every day.

After some polite small talk, we discovered that we both had links to a primary school in Walsall. Bill taught there and my children are proud to be alumni, although their education took place long after Bill had retired. With a memory as bright as a button, my new friend related the story of that school`s most illustrious graduate. I had never heard of Flight Lieutenant Sidney Norman Webster AFC and bar which, given a boyhood obsessed with all things aviation and saving up pocket money for Airfix model aircraft kits, came as something of a surprise. “Pebbler” Webster, who it seems was born in Borneo Street, was something of a national hero and after an education in Chuckery and the Butts, would not be out of place in the Biggles books of W E Johns. (more…)


June 25, 2013

Instant Caldmore

Filed under: Media,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 9:15 pm
Image via

Image via

It is a very rare Sunday morning when Walsall, let alone Caldmore, deserves a mention on national radio in any other context than a lane closure on the M6 causing delays and so a brief item reporting a suspect device found outside a mosque in Rutter Street made for an unusual brunch. Someone else was tasked with ensuring the mackerel under the grill did not burn and that the scrambled eggs remained light and fluffy.

In order to glean some further information, it was necessary to attempt to evict a surly teenager from the wretched Facebook being viewed on what, to be pedantic, is actually my computer. “But Dad”, she bleated, “there`s bombs going off all over Walsall.” Asking what she had been informed of resulted in the sad realisation that the Facebook generation allow themselves to occupy a universe built on unfounded rumour and a desire to be part of a Hollywood disaster movie without the normal high standards of literacy associated with action film screen writers. According to her circle of cyber friends, we were facing the apocalypse. This would ordinarily provoke howls of parental derisive laughter but she was clearly worried and so some reassurance was offered and a promise to try and find some facts as soon as she got off my bloody computer.

The first port of call for all things Walsall has to be the indispensible Yamyam. If you need to know the score of the last Wyrley Juniors under nines football match, or the importance of making sure that your hanging baskets are safe from robbers or be made aware of the latest terrorist attack that is intended to rip the very fabric of society and usher in the end of days, then the Yamyam is the place to find out what other people are saying. Sure enough, Walsall`s most popular and only news aggregation site was churning out press reports of the shock horror bomb attack with all the impartiality of a computer programme trained to search the world`s media for the keyword “Walsall”. Compared to the preposterous and outlandish speculation on social media the coverage by respected and factual news sources was, at best, inconsistent. (more…)

June 23, 2013

Jeffrey, Zippy, Bungle and George

Filed under: Birmingham,Fiction,Politics,Walsall,World — theplastichippo @ 1:39 am
Rainbow warriors

Rainbow warriors

Even as Air Force One touched down at Aldridge International Airport, the latest leg of President Barak Obama`s “No sleep until the Robin 2 in Bilston” European tour continues to be beset by controversy.

After mistaking a white Anglo-Irish public school educated millionaire son of a baronet for a black soul singer from Providence, Rhode Island, the President`s top advisors were determined that “Jeffreygate” would not be repeated during his state visit to Walsall. However, the first indication that the Presidential briefing had been less than robust came as the President emerged from his 747 at terminal five at Aldridge. At the top of the aircraft steps, he greeted the waiting crowd, estimated to number more than 200,000 people, by adopting the voice of Robin Williams and bellowing:
“Goooooodmoooooorning, Poland.”

It required the fragrant First Lady, Michelle Obama to tug the President`s sleeve and tell him that this was Walsall, not Warsaw. (more…)

June 20, 2013

It`s just not cricket

Filed under: Sport,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 3:10 am
Image via the plastic hippo

Image via the plastic hippo

Having meticulously planned a day that would involve watching the last 20 overs of the cricket from the comfort of a pub, it is profoundly disappointing to discover that there was no cricket and, furthermore, no pub as the Park Tavern has closed down.

The Park Tavern on the Broadway, where the Arboretum meets the refined, up-market and desirable residential area known as Chuckery, never had any ideas above its station. It served average beer, average food and did what it did rather well. The staff and management were generally friendly and efficient and the provender was what you would expect for the price. It did, however, always show the cricket and coming from a household that refuses on principle to subscribe to Sky, watching the cricket was incidental to supporting the local economy by buying beer. So, after force feeding the kids some Smilies and chicken nuggets, I legged it to the pub for the conclusion of the England v South Africa semi-final and some Guinness. A hand written notice on the door informed me that the pub was closed.

Crushed, I plodded to the next nearest local pub. This establishment is not one such a delicate soul as I would dare to venture into especially after dark and at the weekend but as it was a sunny June late afternoon a quick risk assessment proved that the cricket would be worth it. The pub`s giant TV screen was showing a music video channel at deafening volume that was given over to women dressed as prostitutes emitting urban yodelling that requires 64 notes when one will do. Sheepishly, I asked if the channel could be switched to the cricket. Five simple words demolished my day: (more…)

June 19, 2013

Lullaby of Broadway North

Filed under: Health,Politics,Rights,Society,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 2:14 am
Come on along and listen to

Come on along and listen to

When Harry Warren and Al Dubin wrote the stand out song from the smash hit musical comedy Gold Diggers of 1935, they did not realise the relevance to Walsall Gold Diggers of 2013. Tonight (Wednesday), the secretive cabinet of decision makers at Walsall council will once again be tap dancing on the table in an attempt at distracting us from a great depression.

On the agenda is the forward plan. The existence of an actual plan might come as something of a surprise to most residents but worry not, it`s only a piece of paper and the real plan will remain firmly under wraps. There is also a plan for food law safety, a discussion on corporate financial performance and a necessarily brief peek at something called medium term financial strategy and capital strategy. This part of the meeting is not likely to take up too much time and will probably involve the question: “has there been some performance and is there a strategy?” Upon receiving the answer “yes”, the cabinet will move on to the next agenda item involving the expensive and inconvenient duty to provide social care. This too will not take long as decisions have been taken well away from the prying eyes of the public. The meeting will conclude with a private session set aside to panic over the unholy mess that cabinet has made of the Darlaston Strategic Development Area. For all the wishful thinking, there is no gold to be found under Darlo, yet cabinet keep digging. (more…)

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