Sunday, May 29, 2011

"Jesus Boris! How much?"

Okay, so the transfer of the nationwide company contract under TUPE went ahead with no hiccups. We are now driving a fleet of 12 coaches that are all Euro 5 compliant. The dark side of things is that statement that my old employer made about keeping the contract with the nationwide company was not financially viable.

Now consider that we were driving coaches that were Euro 3 compliant. So no problem driving into London at the moment. But the big shock is that from the 3rd January 2012 these coaches would incur a daily charge of £200 for going into London.

Well Boris, that is not financially viable BIG TIME. No wonder my old employer could not afford to carry on with it's current fleet of coaches. So Boris has helped to force a business 150 miles west of London to close it's gates.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Blogs come and go, some stay longer than others.

Blogging is a personal labour of love. People blog for fun about things they are interested in. I read many blogs and their diversity of interest delights me. On the right hand side of this blog there is a sidebar of links to other blogs of interest. This is not a complete list of the many blogs that I read but only a hi-lighted selection, that is why I have limited my sidebar list to a total of 8.

Sometimes bloggers stop writing for many different reasons. Sadly one of those blogs hi-lighted on my sidebar appears to have stopped. Ad Nauseum was a very interesting blog about advertising. Quincy Phd has not posted anything on his blog since the 5th December 2010. This is a big shame because I really enjoyed his blog, which was witty and well informed.

So, I have decided to remove Ad Nauseum from my sidebar. What has taken his place you may wonder? Well I had a look at some of the other blogs that I enjoy and are regularly updated. And the 4th place on my sidebar goes to...

Richard Scrimger whose blog is called Scrimger Should Probably Be Writing Something Else. Richard Scrimger is the award-winning author of nine novels for children, three picture books, and three books for adults. Columns detailing Richard’s adventures in parenthood have been published in The Globe and Mail, Chatelaine, and Today’s Parent. His first children’s novel, The Nose from Jupiter, won the 10th Annual Mr. Christie’s Book Award. His last adult novel, Mystical Rose, was a Globe & Mail book of the year. He lives in Cobourg, Ontario.

Richard writes a very entertaining blog which is really easy to relate to. I like Richard's writing style and if you fancy something different, well written and from Canada, then click on Richard Scrimger . I am sure that you will find that his blog is worth your time.

So, will anyone else be affected by my sidebar revision? I think that my old friend from East Anglia, the very witty Grumpy Dragon may be a victim of future sidebar revision. Why would I remove Grumpy Dragon? Well, the Dragon has been sleeping a lot and has not updated his blog since the 7th March 2011. I know he has 2 lovely dogs to walk but come on Mr Dragon, bash the keyboard and give us something to consider. So, if you are reading this, please update your blog because if you don't there are plenty more quality blogs out there to take your place on my sidebar!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How much would you pay this 15 year old kid to kill in cold blood?

A teenager thought to be Britain's youngest hitman was jailed for life yesterday for shooting a young mother dead for just £200. Santre Sanchez Gayle, 16, was told he must serve at least 20 years behind bars for the murder of 26-year-old Gulistan Subasi in March last year.

He was just 15 when he blasted Miss Subasi with a sawn-off shotgun in a contract killing in Hackney, east London. CCTV footage showed him resting the gun on the front gate of the flat where she was staying and blasting her in the chest on the doorstep. The judge described Gayle as a low-level cannabis dealer who expected to be paid £2,000 for the murder but was short-changed and only paid £200.

This is truly shocking, surely a life is worth more than £200 - even in a recession. Gayle may have hoped for £2,000 for this brutal murder, even that is disgustingly cheap. What morals does this low-level cannabis dealer have, that people are disposable and treated like chickens in an abattoir? This tale is obscene and shows what scum we have living in some of our cities in Britain today. Thank goodness this kid has been caught and removed from society for 20 years, as his risk of re-offending must have been extremely high due to his attitude and lacks of morals.

Now I am worried that there may be more like him lurking around on street corners thinking that they are above the law.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Inspired by Omnibuses .

Okay guys, anoraks on! One of the many blogs I read regularly is called Omnibuses , no surprise there to anyone who knows about my day job. The author of Omnibuses has written a rather witty post on the 17th May 2011 about Ye Olde Flag & Shelter Tavern . No, this is not about real ale drinkers and anoraks but the British habit of queue forming. It is a very witty post and his opinions are spot on. I did not add a comment to his post but it did bring a smile to my face because of passengers in Newport waiting for a coach from the nationwide company on Stand No 2.

At most locations served by the nationwide company, passengers form an orderly queue. It is strictly a nod at the other passengers and then queue in a first-come-first-served order. But not in Newport where the nationwide company is allocated two stands in the bus station, numbered 2 and 3. Stand number 2 has a wide platform and passengers gather like a herd of rioters at a Middle East popular uprising in protest of fair and democratic elections. If you are foolish enough to drive your coach onto stand number 2, you can't get out of your entrance door before the intending passengers charge towards you. There is no recognisable queue whatsoever and the passengers charge towards you as though you were a relief lorry offering food to starving refugees. These passengers just charge to get on first, there is not a queue, just a surge forward with a risk to the infirm and elderly getting crushed in the drama.

So, seasoned drivers on the nationwide company contract drive onto stand number 3, which is clearly labelled "Nationwide Company Stand 3". Then the surging mass of intending passengers form a queue at stand number 3 and natural yogurt loads the passengers in the traditional British fashion of queue forming. It is not first-come-first-served but first-legged-it-first-served! Although I am always greeted by the familiar chorus of "All the other drivers pull in on the other stand" to which I gesture to the sign above which proudly declares "Nationwide Company Stand 3".

The thing is the nationwide company can use stands 2 and 3. Stand number 2 is wide and attracts the mob of passengers. Keen regular passengers spot a Crapano Levante driven by a guy with a white beard and quietly stroll across to stand number 3, where they form a queue, tender their ticket and declare "Hello Stephen".

Oh, I do use stand number 2 - but only for unloading and politely inform intending passengers that I will NOT be going to London and the destination of Cardiff is not a joke but a fact.

Oh, and who's daft idea was it to offer Priority Boarding to passengers in London Victoria Coach Station? There is a narrow boarding gate and management request that drivers call Priority Passengers forward before the charging mob of 40 other passengers. Do they really want another Hillsborough disaster happening because of their greed to grab another pound from the passenger before the mob tramples them into the concrete?

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Life and Loss of Karen Woo .

Last night I watched a programme called The Life and Loss of Karen Woo on ITV1 television. It was a documentary about Karen Woo, a brilliant young British doctor and humanitarian aid worker, who was murdered along with nine of her colleagues in Afghanistan in August 2010. I wrote about this tragedy on my blog at the time, so this follow up documentary made by Karen's fiance Paddy Smith, was of particular interest to me.

Paddy Smith went back to Afghanistan to film in the locations where he and Karen had worked. Paddy spoke to many of the aid workers who worked with Karen. What made this documentary so special was that it included footage of Karen that she took as part of a film she was making.

I found the footage that Karen took of her aid work in Afghanistan very moving. It was not a glamourous celebrity style Princess Diana walk-about but real in-the-field aid worker stuff.

Paddy's footage explored many locations around Afghanistan and explained why Karen fell in love with her work. The editing of this documentary was superb and whenever you saw Karen, it was so very haunting, as if she was speaking from her grave.

The documentary moved on to a very beautiful valley near Nuristan. A very remote area that was unspoilt by man. You could describe this valley as heaven-on-earth but hidden behind some natural looking rocky outcrops were the Taliban. No one could spot the Taliban waiting in the valley for the murderous ambush of the aid workers.

This was a remarkable television programme and I think that Paddy Smith deserves an award for making it. This documentary has bought closure on the murder of Karen Woo but the hard work from aid workers doing health care in Afghanistan continues. To read more about the legacy that Karen has made, visit The Karen Woo Foundation website for more details.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The changing face of Britain .

Okay folks, the results for this year from the Office for National Statistics are out again. The non-white British population of England and Wales has grown from 6.6 million in 2001 to 9.1 million in 2009 – nearly one in six of the population. They also show there are now almost a million mixed-race people in the two countries.

In 225 local authority areas, more than 90% of the local population is white. That figure is highest in Wales and north-east England. The whitest borough is Blaenau Gwent in Wales, where 96.5% of the population is white British, followed by Copeland in Cumbria, where 96.3% of the population is white.

Of course some people get really wound up about skin colour. I am not a fan of soap operas but Gail is and one of her favourites is Doctors on BBC1 television. Well a recent episode was called Covers and I got drawn into the drama. There is a new doctor at the surgery called Dr Kevin Tyler played by Simon Rivers. This episode tackled the touchy subject of racism and prejudice. The arguments and misunderstandings flew backwards and forwards confusing the viewer. Who was the good guy and who was the bad guy? The issue was that Dr Kevin Tyler was mistaken for an Asian doctor. He hated people thinking of him as an Asian because of his skin colour, the pigmentation due to his genetic make-up. This programme asked very valid questions of the viewer as the cast took sides in the racial debate. The moral of the story was, don't fall for it, ignore the person's skin colour and what ethnic origin you think they come from and just treat this stranger as NEW TO YOU and nothing more.

Sadly many people are obsessed by skin colour and ethnic origin. It is no big deal and some people's lives are made a misery by ignorant strangers who judge them by their skin colour. What is Sir Andrew Green, of MigrationWatch UK afraid of, the realisation that Britain has become a mongrel race? Who was it in the 1930's who was worried about the purity of race? Food for thought for all those people worried about the absence of white faces in our British cities.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hey! Guys, look, Mostafa has sent another Tweet!

When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, they eschewed most modern technology, including television and music players. But in the latest sign of the hardline movement's rapprochement with at least some areas of the modern world, the Taliban have embraced microblogging. Their Twitter feed, @alemarahweb , pumps out several messages a day.

This is rather novel and modern for the Taliban, with short snappy messages of up to 140 characters on Twitter. There is the more traditional website for the Taliban written in English, Pashto, Arabic, Urdu and Farsi. This website is called the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and carries the sub heading of the Voice of Jihad.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Walk like a Slut!

Thousands of women are set to take to the streets in cities across the UK after the remarks of a Canadian police officer, who advised women "I've been told I'm not supposed to say this – however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised."

The Cardiff SlutWalk event page on Facebook has attracted more than 260 supporters in a few days, who will – pending police approval – also march on 4 June from outside Cardiff University Students' Union, through the city to St Mary's Street. Beccy Pert, 20, one of the organisers of the Cardiff march, said the movement had struck a chord around the world. "People are fed up with the injustice of innocent people being blamed for rape and sexual assault. Comments like these only serve to shame victims into silence when they should feel no shame."

Okay guys, I can see the point of this protest walk and I support it's objectives. Women MUST be able to dress exactly as they want to and not risk assault or rape because of their choice of clothing. Women should not be assaulted or raped because of clothing. Women should not be denied justice because of their choice of clothing style.

Of course, men find it rather pleasant when women choose to dress like sluts. We get that certain feeling and enjoy the show. So come on girls, dress like sluts and walk through Cardiff and brighten up our day! On the funny side we have 2 facts involved in this story. The surname of the woman involved in the Cardiff SlutWalk is PERT - oh, laughing out loud, women, breasts and PERT! Also Beccy Pert was misquoted in earlier print editions of the Guardian newspaper as saying "Comments like these only serve to shame victims into violence"; that should have been "silence"!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

67.9% of the people who were bothered to vote said "No"

Great news for fans of common sense here in the UK. We had a referendum on Thursday about a stupid idea to adopt an Alternative Voting system where an election winner should need the support of a majority of the people. So if no candidate commands 50% support, the last placed candidate drops out and their voters’ second preferences come into play. This continues until one candidate has majority support.

Thankfully 67.9% of the votes were to reject this obscene proposal of Alternative Voting, which could have elected a "lesser of the evils" winner. Officials say 19.1m people voted in the second UK-wide referendum in history - a higher than expected turnout of 41%. According to the Electoral Commission, 6,152,607 voted Yes to the Alternative Vote, while 13,013,123 voted No.

This referendum has restored my faith in democracy and thank goodness the British public saw common sense and voted for the sane and cheaper option of electing representatives.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Would you take a stranger-in-need into your home?

Simple question, would you take a stranger-in-need into your home? Supposing you found a couple, in a very bad condition, near to dying, and in need of help, begging on the streets. This couple "looked Asian" and did not speak any of the local languages, were thin, shaking and looked very ill. What would you do?

Well, Abdul Hameed Sohail took the couple into his Abbottabad home. He put them in an upstairs room in his house and gave them some medicine. His young daughter would leave a tray outside their door containing salad, curry and chapatis, though they never ate more than one-quarter of what was left for them. They smelled very bad, he said. During the eight to 10 days that they stayed at his home, the couple never went outside and received no visitors, Mr Sohail said.

That to me is an amazing act of humanity and the story really struck me hard. However, this couple were later arrested and taken away as suspected terrorists. But Abdul Hameed Sohail did not question their history or motives but acted in true human kindness to people in need who did not even speak his language. That is the moral of this story, one man's kindness, without profit, for strangers in need. That is a very welcome act in our consumeristic, materialistic, greedy life in the UK.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Say No to AV on Thursday

Okay, just think about the maths in our current first past the post voting system as opposed to the Alternative Vote system. It is not difficult to poke holes in the Alternative Vote system.

Does this seem fair to you? An election winner should need the support of a majority of the people. So if no candidate commands 50% support, the last placed candidate drops out and their voters’ second preferences come into play. This continues until one candidate has majority support.

This does not seem fair to me at all. Democracy is one person, one vote. Alternative Voting would water down the votes and make an abortion of an election. Alternative Voting is for people who can't make up their mind. The elected candidate under Alternative Voting could be chosen not because they are popular but because they are a "second choice". You have to vote for one representative and not a team of politicians.

When you buy a meal in a restaurant you choose one meal, that is what adults do, it is the grown-up thing to do. It is not difficult to choose just one dish from the menu. Voting a representative is no different. The first past the post voting system declares the clear winner in the race to parliament. You will always get the representative who polled the most votes rather than a "lesser of the evils" winner.

Now look at the costs involved. The current first past the post voting system costs a basic sum of money. The Alternative Voting system MUST cost more because of the additional cost incurred in counting the second choice votes of each losing candidate.

So, put together the chance of getting a "lesser of the evils" winner and the extra cost of putting on an election. I believe there is only one Adult choice in this Thursday Referendum on Alternative Voting and that is a very loud NO.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Goodbye Treforest .

Today was the last day for National Express drivers working from the Veolia Transport Cymru depot at Treforest. Tomorrow all the drivers employed on the National Express contract will be transferred to Edwards Coaches at Llantwit Fardre .

It is sad that things have come to an end at Treforest. It feels like the end of an era.

Still, back to work tomorrow, doing the same job I did today but from a nearby garage.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Sun Sharer by Jack George Edmunson.

Meet Jack George Edmunson, a fifty year old married man. Jack writes at the beginning of this novel...

The places in this story don’t matter but the people do. Because people make life, not places, not possessions, not things.

...and this sets the tone of this book. The Sun Sharer is a story of relationships and how married men think. This novel explores the problems and challenges within marriage. It highlights some of the frustrations that women put on men. For example...

Another waste of money and a further complication in his life but ‘names, names, names’, always expensive and fashionable brand names ruled their lives. The Miele coffee machine whirred to grind the fresh beans until an error message came up: ‘Please clean the main filter.’ “For fuck’s sake,” he said under his breath so Joseph couldn’t hear. “You’ve had your stupid friends round to talk about curtain fabrics or paint colours, drunk your cappuccinos and can’t even be bothered to clean up after yourself, you lazy fucking cow.”

“You know what will happen next weekend, as soon as you get to the M6 at Stoke, she’ll want the toilet and then again every thirty or forty miles whilst you are driving. How come a woman can hold piss in her bladder for five hours when shopping but as soon as she gets on the motorway with her husband she needs the loo every twenty minutes? Tell me that!

...You develop a great empathy for Jack as he does his level best to support his family. There is plenty of social comment within this tale, for example...

“Nim, you know when you have lost the plot, when you are listening to Radio Five live and after a quarter of an hour the stories cycle round again. You get about two minutes of extra news if you are lucky but only slight variations on the same stories to the previous cycle. You end up listening to it for two hours and know exactly what they are going to say next. What is even more annoying is that it’s recycled news from someone else’s website or Reuters and it’s all supposition and bending of the little known facts by some so-called expert who last visited the country ten years earlier before being thrown out as a dissident.”

...You realize the possibilities for Jack as this tale unfolds. This story is very easy to relate to and it is sprinkled with a dry humour like...

Jack continued, “I used to enjoy big knickers on Melanie as well you know. When you could pull them back to see a tantalising bit of arse before shoving it up and then along came thongs. What a waste of time they are. Now I have to pull back the fat to find the thong to then move it over and get my dick up. Sometimes, it seems a waste of time; you might as well shove the thin bit of string in as well to add a bit of friction.”

...The Sun Sharer made me smile due to all the nagging that Jack suffers from Melanie like...

“Jack, when those people move just there, look be quick. There! They are getting ready to go. You take the umbrella and put it up in their spot and I will bring the towels.”

...This novel is easy to read and was written in an autobiographical style. There is some sex but nothing that could offend. Although this book is set in Cheshire and Spain, the attitude is totally English and the aspirations of all the characters are typically British. It does offer a good philosophy though...

“Health is the most important thing in life my lovely and certainly not money. Everyone says it and knows it but no one thinks about it or lives to that principle until something happens to them or their immediate friends and family. Then after a few weeks they forget that health is the most important thing in life and do nothing to improve it because they are too busy.”

...The Sun Sharer is a 955KB Amazon Kindle eBook and is not available in paperback but the hardcover edition has 368 pages. I consider The Sun Sharer a good book and shall vote it 4 stars on Goodreads . It is a love story but not a girly one, a romantic book that men can relate to. Towards the end Melanie writes a letter that is rather sad and forces the reader to reconsider. The ending is okay and leaves way for the second novel in this trilogy called A Path Too Long.

Oh! what a coincidence when you consider my blog post below!
What is it with women?

We had my cousin Janet to stay with us this week. I have not seen Janet for over a decade and I do not know her very well. Janet lives in Hartlepool and came down to Cardiff on the National Express coach. Janet is 54 years old and is divorced. So we welcome Janet into our home and simply go with the flow.

On Wednesday I take Barney - our pet dog - out for his little walk and Janet comes along with us. We went through the houses, across the park, through the woods and down to the Ely river. We were gone for an hour and when we got back Janet complained that the walk was too long for her! Silly cow, I thought, it was only a 60 minute walk, nothing tiring for a woman in her fifties.

On Thursday and Friday Janet refused to come on the dog walk as she thought it might be too far for her. Oh what a lazy cow my cousin Janet certainly is!

Yesterday we went out in the car to Cardiff Bay and I told Janet that she should walk around Cardiff Bay as it is a tourist treasure and she could compare it to the Hartlepool Marina. So off we went on the circular walk around Cardiff Bay and the Cardiff Barrage. Barney loves this walk as you go in a big circle with many different things to look at plus the Wetlands Nature Reserve. We had parked the car at Morrisons and were walking clockwise around the Bay via James Street bridge. Janet wanted to stop every so often for a rest and when we had gone past Mermaid Quay she wanted to know how much further it was back to the car. I pointed to the other side of the bay and pointed out the International Swimming Pool. She gasped at the distance and traced the route that I pointed out via the barrage and the lock gates.

We got back to the car and she moaned that we had walked too far! We were only walking for 2 hours, that is not much to ask. What is up with this woman? She must be really lazy at home in Hartlepool if she thinks a 2 hour walk is too far for a normal woman in her fifties. She went on about the length of this walk for quite some time, telling everybody that she met plus her father on the telephone.

This morning I walked Barney from our home down to the Ely river and Janet refused to come. She claimed that she had done more than enough walking and she could not trust me. Barney and I did our regular 1 hour walk down to the river and back, leaving Janet grazing on the sofa.

Lazy Janet has gone back to Hartlepool this afternoon on the 322 service and will be changing in Birmingham. It just makes me wonder what is it with women. Many women just simply hate walking relatively short distances, what is wrong with them? What quality of life do these women have if they can't use a bus or a car? We are not talking disability here, this is bone idleness. I wonder why Janet and John got divorced, a step too far?

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