The Plastic Hippo

August 26, 2014

Lesbian lizards from space



It is surprising how quickly the world returns to normal after a week or so away and once the front door has been forced open against the pile of correspondence and once the countless emails have been ignored, it is almost as if the holiday never actually happened.

Not so this time however. Something in the glue that holds the universe together had changed and something odd seems to have provoked the entire planet to jump the shark. The first clue that the reality bill was overdue came when an anxious teenager deprived of television phoned a friend to find out what happened in the latest episode of Dr Who. Others suffering from cold turkey demanded that the call be placed onto the speaker and we heard this:
“Well the lizard lady and her maid are in a lesbian marriage and living in Victorian London with a miniature version of Eric Pickles, a T-Rex spontaneously combusted and a cyborg that looked like David Cameron was impaled on the top of Big Ben and then went to heaven.” I retreated to the comfort of news websites only to find that the surrealism was pandemic. (more…)

May 21, 2012

Sweet home Chicago

Filed under: Law,Rights,Society,Uncategorized,World — theplastichippo @ 11:31 am

It`s not as if the fine city of Chicago Illinois hasn`t suffered enough, but a G8 summit followed by a NATO summit would test the ingenuity of even Jake and Elwood Blues.

The Chicago Police Department, who might benefit from the fitness test suggested in our own Winsor Report because they seem to be rather overweight, are clearly out of their depth. We can witness some of their public duty here.

Deciding to turn a peaceful demonstration into a shameful display of state power using a variety of tactics and weapons designed to subjugate the people they have sworn an oath to defend is a little like wearing sunglasses in the dark. Here is a fictional account of the CPD in action.

Our own public servants here in dear old Albion, might like to consider which side they are actually on. Asking for support from the public in their own dispute with the government is not going to be much use when they hit the rest of us over the head when the rest of us are in dispute with the same government.

A lesson can be learnt from history. Has there been any progress? Your choice, guys. Have a listen to Neil Young and good luck with policing the Olympics.

June 2, 2011

Singing in the rain

Filed under: Uncategorized — theplastichippo @ 11:57 am

We thought it was all over, but the burghers and good people of the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford had other ideas. United were bringing home another trophy.

Half term took us to a humble bothy in the southern Pennines and the delights of exploring the lanes of Dobcross, Diggle and Delph. However, a drizzling Bank Holiday Monday forced us to consider an alternative under cover activity other than sitting before a primitive five channel television. Fortunately, we had a contingency plan.

After a huge farmhouse breakfast, a 25 minute train journey would take us to Manchester Victoria and a leisurely stroll to Piccadilly Gardens would bring us to the X50 bus and a 25 minute trip to the Lego Discovery Centre at the Trafford Centre. Placed high on the list of places to visit before the end of childhood, we could, with luck, be there in an hour. Unfortunately, we had not taken into account Fergie`s red army.

Pausing to admire the wonderful fountain in Piccadilly Gardens, the younger hippos could not resist becoming a piece of living art and were soon completely drenched. Upon boarding the bus, the incredibly helpful driver ignored the growing puddle and told us of road closures, diversions and delays. After being outclassed and outplayed by the morally superior Barcelona, Manchester United, it seems, were to parade the premiership trophy and not the champion’s league trophy on an open topped bus. The driver said it wasn’t important as he was a City supporter.

At the point where the bus was to divert away from its normal route, the driver came upstairs and explained what was happening and was thoroughly charming. As we progressed in a direction away from Old Trafford, the traffic grew heavier and more flag draped supporters were walking away from the stadium. With cars parked on pavements, grass verges and across people’s drives, the bus was now moving at walking pace. Turning onto a jammed dual carriage-way, the bus took 30 minutes to cover the 100 yards to a set of traffic lights at a cross roads.

Council workers in hi-viz tabards lurked with bollards and when we finally arrived at the lights, a police officer on a motorcycle rode into the centre of the junction and gave a thumbs-up. Our road was closed and by now the younger hippos had given the top of the bus the aroma of wet Labrador. Hundreds of singing supporters had gathered and a helicopter buzzed low overhead. More police motorcycles moved slowly west followed by police on horseback and the crowd began cheering. Then, Van der Sar, Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Alex Ferguson and the rest along with the premiership trophy passed in front of us about 20 yards away.

The randomness of causality left us bewildered that serendipity should place us in this space and time that afforded the best seat to witness the celebrations. Such an encounter would be impossible to plan. Loyal supporters, included some of the more rebellious who choose to wear green, trudged away in the rain after our buses had crossed paths. Arriving at the Trafford Centre, we thanked the driver and reminded him that at least City had won the FA Cup.

The Lego Discovery Centre was marvellous but over-priced and the female members of the hippo pod enjoyed denuding the bank account by visiting some very expensive shops. The Trafford Centre itself is utterly ghastly, but more of that later.

Returning to the city centre along empty streets to catch a train back to the hills, the rain stopped and the sun came out. Again at Piccadilly Gardens, the younger hippos decided to take another al fresco shower in the fountain. A flying visit to a nearby Primark secured a change of clothing. Having spent a small fortune, the highlights of the day were a chance encounter with Rooney and Giggs and the joy on the faces of young boys getting soaking wet.

The best things in life really are free.

Images: HMS11

May 28, 2011

Cash before dishonour

Filed under: Uncategorized — theplastichippo @ 3:36 pm

The noble tradition of a captain going down with the ship is as futile as it is mythical. When something goes wrong, the bottle of Scotch and the loaded revolver is, thankfully, no longer the only option. Honour and responsibility went down with the Titanic.

After the Court of Appeal found that the former Director of Children’s Services in Haringey had been unfairly dismissed, Sharon Shoesmith told the BBC that she “does not do blame” and that “you cannot stop the death of children”. The “you”, in this case, was her.

Peter Connelly was 17 months old when he died at his home of injuries including fractured ribs and a broken back after months of abuse. He and his “family” had been seen 60 times by the department headed by Ms Shoesmith prior to his death in 2007. The scum that inflicted this barbaric cruelty are safely behind bars for the time being and it is interesting that those desperate to apportion “blame” make no mention of those that are actually guilty. It is as if the imprisonment of three sub-humans is not enough to assuage our national shame. More scalps are needed.

Shoesmith has a point when she complains of being singled out for culpability but to accept responsibility and then deny “blame” is, at best, inconsistent. We are told that vast salaries within Local Authorities, particularly at directorship level, are necessary to attract and retain the very best practitioners and offer adequate compensation for the responsibilities of a difficult and often harrowing job. Ms Shoesmith might have been fired unfairly, but the Court of Appeal rejected her assertion that a damning Ofsted report into her department was also unfair. The report revealed that under her leadership, Children’s Services were utterly, completely and dangerously useless.

After deciding not to “do blame”, Ms Shoesmith went on to blame everyone else. When the level of incompetence within her department was revealed, the then Secretary of State, Ed Balls, intervened and fired her. Regarding Mr Balls, she said this:

“I’m still staggered by how irresponsible the Secretary of State was. He almost demonstrated his lack of knowledge and understanding of children’s social care. This was his department yet he took steps that led it into complete disarray.”

So, does she blame Ed Balls for the death of Baby Peter? No, not just Ed Balls. There are other too. She went on:

“As a director of children’s services I cannot control what the police do, I cannot control what health does. I cannot control the fact when a social worker is referring a child for abuse that she rings up and finds that a case has not been allocated to a police officer for four months. I can’t control those matters, this is much more complex than saying you are responsible, let’s sack you and the whole psyche of the nation will be at peace.”

So it is Ed Balls, the Police and the Health Service who should be blamed and not the Director of Children’s Services. That is interesting coming from someone who feels that blame will not produce “anything positive”. By resigning as a result of the Ofsted report, the leader of Haringey council and the portfolio holder accepted their responsibilities and have retained some semblance of honour. Ms Shoesmith, it seems, did not consider resignation.

Haringey and the government have said that they will appeal against the appeal which is good news for lawyers. Speculation is rife that if that appeal is unsuccessful, Ms Shoesmith can expect between £500,000 and £1million in compensation for wrongful dismissal. The Court of Appeal ruled that her dismissal was unfair because she was not allowed the opportunity to defend herself. As the coalition rushes headlong into cutting social services, the police and the NHS, the lessons learnt from all this will be in vain and those services will be unable to prevent this horror from happening again.

Sharon Shoesmith now has the chance to defend herself.

Here is a reminder of someone who did not.

April 28, 2011

Does one want fries with that?

Filed under: Uncategorized — theplastichippo @ 8:44 am

The bunting is hung across the street. The cakes are baked and the cucumber sandwiches prepared. Glass bottles with marble stoppers are filled with lashings of ginger beer and the Union Jacks distributed to every child. Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1981.

Thirty years ago, David Cameron, then aged 15, slept rough on the Mall in the hope of catching a glimpse of a princess. A few days earlier, a disabled man was killed by a police van in what became known as the Toxteth Riots. As thousands huddled in sleeping bags through choice rather than necessity in central London, the then Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, Kenneth Oxford, stated that he and his officers would not be responsible for the fate of anyone on the streets of Liverpool after dark. CS gas canisters and rubber baton rounds were used for the first time on the British mainland. Kenneth was later knighted.

Now, the Metropolitan police officer in charge of security for the royal wedding, Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens, has stated that any “criminals” wishing to disrupt or even protest against the imminent nuptials will be dealt with “robustly”. Any veteran of a Scouse wedding will know that there is usually a fight at the reception and we do not want to see uninvited nutters from Muslims Against Crusades and the English Defence League lobbing vol-au-vent at each other or, even worse, the few remaining dissident republican dinosaurs from across the water planting bags of fertiliser around Westminster Abbey. Of course, the safety and security of the happy couple, the monarch and the visiting dignitaries is of paramount importance, but to class dissenting voices who question the cost of this match made in heaven as “criminal” is a worrying development. It would seem that the Met are now integral to the PR hype being peddled by government, the press and the palace to make sure that we celebrate the union of prince and wife and join in with the right royal knees-up. Enjoyment and loyalty to the crown is now compulsory, as is the bill for the wedding.

As the coalition cuts begin to bite, those facing redundancy and those already laid off will certainly enjoy the extra bank holiday and the opportunity to express their joy at a fairy-tale marriage. Street party tables in the middle of the road will not hinder emergency services attempting to attend the sick, elderly and dying because those emergency services are being withdrawn as a “saving”. One can only hope that the dashing groom does not worry too much that his job as a search and rescue helicopter pilot is under threat due to defence cuts. We are all in this together, but most of us will not receive Cornwall and Wales as wedding presents.

Given the hard times of old England, the royal family and the coalition have missed the chance of a lifetime to make “efficiency savings” to offset the cost of staging the spectacular. Clearly such an important couple deserve more than a Registry Office and a few pork pies in the upstairs room of a working mens club so flogging tickets to the Abbey to wealthy social climbers would rake in enough to save the NHS. The rights to the wedding snaps sold to Hello magazine would fund the rebuilding of every school in the land and television companies would fight tooth and nail to produce a new reality show called My Big, Fat Windsor Wedding together with a Bridesmaids Got Talent spin-off. MacDonald’s could do the catering and distribute a nutritious happy meal to every child in the nation instead of a boring mug.

As the big day approaches, this humble blog wishes the young newly-weds a long and happy life together and hopes that the struggle to find and keep employment, a mortgage, being close to a decent hospital and finding a decent school for any future little princes and princesses proves not to be too traumatic. Wishing to avoid the fawning “gawd bless yer, Wills and Kate and gawd bless yer, ma’am” nonsense currently obsessing the media, the hippo intends to spend the day at the bottom of a disused mine shaft with a bottle of Glenmorangie.

Risking lèse majesté, the bottle might need to be super-sized.

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