Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Hometown may sound like a picturesque haven of tranquility in the eastern shires, but I should tell you, it has it's crazy sketchy wild moments.
I was home in the afternoon as I'd had a meeting in the Bigcity in the morning and it's a long , long way back to school. My head had kindly agreed that it would just be easier if I did some paperwork at home.
So I park the car and I'm walking down our street in the middle of the day. There's a bloke looking at houses and he's looking shifty. Then he goes around the side of Big Dave's house and climbs into his garden!
My overtired midday brain sorts this one out in a heartbeat. 'He's a blagger and he's casing some gaff and he's going to nick some swag and get it to his fence and sell it to the kids and someone will get hurt and all because I never called the filth!'
So, er, that's what I did. I went indoors , peered through an upstairs window and called the cops! Not even the non-emergency community number but the real deal, 999 GETHERENOW!!!!! number.
And they came.
And in the 5 minutes that it took for them to screech into our street (although I felt they screeched appropriately, not too fast but with due haste and some caution) the blagger reemerged from behind Big Dave's house, went to his car, wrote a note, popped it through Big Dave's front letterbox. Then the evil slag of crime got into his car and drove away with all due respect for the Highway code.
Yes, that's right. Raffles had left a note in Big Dave's letterbox. The bastard! Leaving a cheeky fucking calling card! It probably said something like...
..."You've been turned over by the evil bastard of crime, light fingered Tony! I hope you'll never sleep easy in your violated home again! Suckers! catch me if you can!!!"
..."Alright Big Dave, I popped round at lunchtime but you were out. I just hope no overimaginative, paranoid, police state, nosey parker fucking neighbour with nothing else to do calls the cops just because I'm a bit scruffy. Love Tony".
So then the cops arrived. They were fascinated by the whole scene and quickly made the neighbourhood safe again (Thank God!). The best bit was when they screeched up. My slightly bonkers neighbour who yells alot came rushing out of her house and yelled at the cops "WHAT IS IT? I DINDOIT!" To which the policemen responded with a smile and a laugh "It's alright Lou, we're not here for you. Not this time! Ha!"
Then the three of them all stood about and had a bit of a chat and a laugh at me.
So the cops asked a few questions and cleared off.
And I had that sinking feeling that some poor sod in a black VW was now getting pulled over and given the third degree for the crime of popping round to see his old mate Big dave in the middle of the day.
Later on I took the trouble to pop round to Big Dave's house and tell them what had happened.
You know the rest.
It had been a friend.
He was a bit scruffy.
He was not the evil slag of crimeland.
I apologised but Big Dave and his wife were really pleased that "people in this great street look out for each other. It makes me proud to live here." They are possibly the nicest people in the world right now.
I'm not allowed to use the phone without asking Frau Random Doubt.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Our street taken early morning during a recent bizarre spring blizzard.
I love our street. So does my wife. For that matter, so does the wee Hen, in so much that he can't actually talk yet but does enjoy exploring it with his mommy or daddy or auntie or uncle who love around the corner.
There are a number of very good reasons to love our street. Let me list the ways.
Firstly, it's about a five minute walk to the centre of Hometown. the centre of Hometown contains a bakers, chipshops, pubs, a Woolies, some banks, quite a few historic buildings, an ancient abbey and lots of proper Norfolk folk who do stuff like wait for buses and stand about gossiping. You always bump into someone you know and it's often a hive of activity and conversation.
Secondly, and this is absolutely crucial, Our street is a dead end. That means we have no through traffic. No hustle and grind of quickly moving internal combustion engines.
Thirdly, there's a bunch of kids aged between six and nine who take complete advantage of the dead end/lack of through traffic situation and spend every possible moment outside in the street whizzing about on bikes, skateboards, scooters and generally running about, messing about, playing games, having arguments, making up, kicking balls about , singing stupid songs and living the kind of life many kids can only dream of. They also whizz about at the back of our house (connected to our street by some passages and an alleyway) and create a wonderful atmosphere of kid related mayhem.Then their mums call them in for their tea and they all go running home, sometimes leaving bikes and toys in the middle of the street only to reappear to collect them before they are allowed to eat.
Fourthly, the people are nice, some are a bit mental, one can only communicate with her son by yelling at him, one dresses as a mediaeval foot soldier in reenactments of the Wars of the Roses (he has a real longbow!) but on the whole they are an agreeable bunch and we have even got a bit drunk with some of them at Christmas time.
So that's it. I just wanted you to know that our little house is a happy place, in no small part because of the groovy little street it's on where the kids run about making noise and the neighbours are OK.
How's this for a bit of Trade Union zeitgeist?
I wonder how many people about to go on strike then get a raging cold which pins them down to their sofa and laptop and prevents them from storming the Winter Palace?
That's right. Full on Manmonia.
The day before the strike.
(although to be honest we had negotiated a 'no supply teachers-no picket line so there would have been no actual presence at the school gate anyway, Any school with a picket line out front must have had a near fatal communication breakdown between Head and the teachers, but hey, that's not the point!)
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Never Again. Britain 1945-51 by Peter Hennessy.
Ah, the gentle aroma of Clement Atlee's pipe permeates every page of this engaging history of the immediate postwar period.
The account of Britain's struggle for survival , economic, diplomatic and imperial makes you realise how close the country came to collapse during those years and puts a perspective on the Labour landslide election of 1945 (such a victory but such a massive job to do!)
It's jammed with details and anecdotes about the problems and solutions of the period and it should be pointed out that the Sterling crisis left me cold (despite placing the current credit crunch in perspective- there were no homes to mortgage in 1945, thanks to the Luftwaffe!)
I loved the stuff about India, it would have bankrupted Britain to keep it on and the job was to persuade the still Imperial minded public that India should gain independence without letting it slip the real reasons why. Indeed, the book is full of the arguments, economic and political about the deeds of the Atlee government.
The attempts to join a fledgling European Economic grouping which was stymied by the French and Germans who didn't want the Brits involved, spoiling their ideas.
The situation over the first West Indian immigrants aboard the SS Empire Windrush "Don't worry, they'll never last the English winter" said one Cabinet minister!
The first scirmishes of a new Cold War, negotiations with America over the reconstruction of Europe. You get the impression alot of the freeflowing goodwill of WW2 was due to the bonhomie of the Roosevelt-Churchill friendship, there's a great bit when Truman gets his hands on the chequebook and the money dries up almost on the spot causing the British to hastily renegotiate a series of loans at decidely unlendleasy rates!
And of course, the National Health Service.
Nye Bevan's proudest achievement, the jewel in the crown and still standing today. The marvel is that amidst the finacial carnage of the late 1940s that it happened at all! Oh I could go on, really I could. The Beveridge report, George Orwell, The BBC, improved schools for all. Just thinking about what the Atlee government did in those years makes my brain ache and my heart grateful.
There was also a very good analysis of the 1950 election and the strategies employed by the parties in the pre television age.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Theo has opted for the old favourite, putting the 'F' into 'art'. A classic move I'm sure you'll agree.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
I'm pretty sure I know who wrote this.
I don't know who it was sent to.
It made me laugh after a very busy day.