The entire point of being a token Northerner in a metro centric privileged government is that any hope of a long career is shrouded by inevitable redundancy.
Eric Pickles brought very little to the cabinet table apart from a regional accent and a huge tray of free biscuits and after the election was unceremoniously told to go away and settle for a knighthood. (more…)
Copyright Richard Wintle
Driving a motor vehicle a long distance between two different centres of population along a busy trunk road or motorway is not that difficult. There are, however, choices to consider and a myriad of decisions to be made on every mile of the journey. Obviously the main consideration is to arrive safely but this tends to be overshadowed by the desire to arrive safely in the shortest possible time regardless of the possibility of being burnt to death in a charred heap of crumpled metal.
So, on a long drive back from the coast after a rather splendid weekend away, uppermost in my mind was the speed at which I should approach some unforeseen bottleneck in the accompanying traffic. The trunk road in question is mostly dual carriageway but occasionally narrows to a single lane for a mile or two which will, no doubt, be improved once the Highways Agency secure the time, money and planning permission to make our journeys faster. (more…)
Image via sci.esa.int and 300 million miles
There is a lot of fun to be had when filling in the equal opportunities monitoring section of an application form or a questionnaire. Unless required for the official census, details of age, gender and ethnicity are completely irrelevant and a little intrusive. Rather than ensuring diversity in any survey or in recruitment, the pigeon-hole questions are more of a marketing tool to identify a particular demographic.
Being a white, middle-aged English man who is a bit dim, a true and accurate description of my social status might lump me in with the sub-group that displays a disturbing obsession with the Farage creature and the Daily Mail. It is tempting, therefore, to complete this bit of the form erroneously just for a laugh. Pretending to be female wouldn`t really work but the ethnicity tick boxes provide endless equal opportunities for mischief. Ticking “other” and then adding Inuit or Amazonian Yawanawa or Ubangian Baka might just cheer up the poor soul tasked with doing the analysis. These days, however, in an atmosphere of toxic nationalism, I tend to tick “other” and then describe my ethnicity as either “Celtic” or, more often, as “European”. There`s more japes to be had in tick boxes regarding faith. (more…)
Via the plastic hippo
Sometimes, if time and money allow, it is extraordinarily therapeutic to burst out of the parochial bubble to catch some face time with the rest of the world and when opportunity presented a visit to a place on something called a bucket list, it was a case of bye-bye Walsall, see you later. The chance to walk on the same marble pavements that once experienced the sandals of Heraclitus, Alexander the Great, Saint Paul and Saint John proved too great a temptation so, without a second thought, bye-bye England.
When Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen wrote “Oh it`s so nice to go travelling”, they clearly did not have to endure the ghastly shopping centre with a runway attached that calls itself Birmingham International Airport or have to change trains at a ghastly shopping centre with platforms known as the new “improved” New Street Station. A city the size of Birmingham and a region as important as the West Midlands really should have transport hubs that work. It was definitely not so much nicer to come home. (more…)
Image via comedyclowncar.co.uk
When young drivers and some older people who should know better, spend inordinate amounts of time, effort and money in turning their wheels into a statement, it seems unduly cruel to point out that the statement they are making is: “look at me, I`m a prat.”
False eyelashes on headlights, butterfly decals on a two-door hot-hatch and a parcel shelf full of teddy bears obscuring the rear-view mirror is, I`m afraid, in no way amusing or endearing. I recall observing the son of gullible neighbours spend a week or two “pimping his ride” as the urban cognoscenti would have it. Week one involved installing a sound system into the boot of a car that was considerably smaller than the bass bin being fitted. Rather than modify the four by twelve speaker, the nascent Jeremy Clarkson took an angle-grinder to the body work of an impressive Fiat Punto thus rendering his very expensive insurance premium null and void. His choice of a Drum and Bass CD to test the sound system had pigeons falling dead from the sky and disrupted the turn to final approach into Birmingham International Airport by a Boeing 777 inbound from Dubai. (more…)