The Plastic Hippo

April 30, 2017

Un petit d`un petit

Filed under: Literature,Politics,Society,Uncategorized — theplastichippo @ 2:12 am
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The debt of gratitude owed by the entire nation to the current Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is as incalculable as it is profound. His unique blend of avuncular eccentricity, knockabout buffoonery, deep intellectualism and an uncanny grasp of populist opportunism mark him as not just an accomplished statesman but also as a national treasure. From flattening Chinese children in a game of touch rugby during a good will visit to Hong Kong to dangling on a motionless zip wire Boris, as he likes to be known, is quite willing to make a fool of himself in the national interest or, more accurately, in the interest of Boris Johnson. As London Mayor, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson cemented his reputation as a man of the people by closing down London Fire Stations and buying some second hand water canon presumably to assist unwashed Londoners with personal hygiene issues. As a journalist, he has been found to be with unfortunate regularity something of a fantasist when in come to accuracy, honesty and anything remotely resembling the truth. (more…)


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.

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