Sunday, 28 October 2012

Don Quixote no more?

One of the problems I have, even after 6½ years of retirement is finding enough time to do the things I want to do. Since I left my (unfinished) last posting nearly three weeks ago, I have not had time to come back and finish it off, so I will try to continue here, but even this posting may not get done. It's just gone mid-day and I have been up and about for barely fifteen minutes. Susan is in the shower and I will be making coffee once she is out, then I'll be going downstairs to make us a light lunch for 1pm. Afterwards, we're going to try and clean the landing carpet and who knows how long that will take(!), but it needs to be done. Then it will be time for a cup of tea and a nice chocolate ginger biscuit. About 6pm I will start preparing supper (pasta and mushrooms with olives in a home-made tomato sauce full of garlic and onions. Oh, and there's still the washing up to do from breakfast, then lunch and supper. Markiza's litter tray also needs seeing to (I do it twice a day at least).

So, I'm fairly confident there will be no more blogging today. Tomorrow morning, Bernie, our garden help will be here for two hours and I have to go to Beeston to get the special cat food Markiza has because of a health problem she has (she is about twelve years old and came to us five years ago when a friend died and we had promised to care for his cat should anything happen to him. I'll do some food shopping as well, so there's another two hours gone. I've also got to write a piece for the creative writing class in Beeston, which I joined at the beginning of last year, and I enjoy going to.

I haven't mentioned trying to read The Guardian and The Observer every day as well, plus a couple of books I've got on the go. Am I crazy or what?

There are things I want to say about the way Nottingham is managed and the way its neighbourhoods, like Lenton where I live, are treated by the city's ruling elite. Even the local bowls club needs time and attention, with the first of three winter meetings next Monday and in December a local history forum to organise and publicise. I must be mad!

I've got a story on the go as well and a poem about the 35 bus route I have been playing around with since August, which is nearly there, but getting parts to flow is still a problem.

Then there are friends to see and other things to do and I have not even mentioned watching TV or listening to the radio (yesterday evening we listened to a 'Martin Beck' play on Radio 4, recorded from earlier in the afternoon, which I couldn't miss because he is my favourite detective of all time).

Susan says blogging is something you can do whenever, but I find it hard not to think of it a discipline which requires regular attention.

Perhaps my days at tilting at windmills are over, but never say never. Perhaps instead I should go to Marks & Spencers and buy in ready meals sandwiches instead of cooking and making bread?

Fifteen minutes since I started and Susan is out of the shower. Time for coffee.

PS. My fifty minutes with the Parliamentary Community and Local Government Community last Monday (22 October 2012), answering questions about the role of councillors in the community, went well insomuch as looking at archived film of the session on and reading the transcript afterwards only reveal a couple of minor things I wasn't happy with (all were because I was speaking too quickly at times and missed words out).

I hammered home  my central message: that we need single member councillor wards and that councillors should exercise existing powers to control all the services which relate to the ward — to be 'mini-mayors' in effect.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

My Don Quixote moment

On 22 October I will be giving Oral evidence to the Parliamentary Community & Local Government Committee at their invitation. You can find my evidence on the CLG Committee website. My submission is the second entry on a list containing just 53 submissions. Such a small number is somewhat disappointing, given all the talk there has been (and still is) about localism / community empowerment / neighbourhood democracy / 'Big Society' or call it what you will. I had, naively, thought that my submission would be just one of hundreds.

I feel this is my 'Don Quixote moment' and I wonder if I will ever learn to stop tilting at windmills? Sorting through an old archive box last week I came across some back issues of The Journal, which was published by Birmingham Trades Council and to which I was a regular contributor in the 1970s, writing mainly about the activities of the City Council. The then Leader of the Council, Stan Yapp, was asked by The Journal to contribute. Instead he got me to do it, because he thought I was 'independent enough to have some credibility'.

In 1972 I was Secretary of the Birmingham Borough Labour Party and met Dick Knowles, who was then the city's full-time Labour Party Agent. He subsequently became a city councillor and Leader of the Labour Group and the City Council. We got on well and I have always acknowledged his part in how I became a passionate believer in urban parish councils and neighbourhood democracy. And last week I found the October 1972 issue of The Journal, carrying a front page article by Dick Knowles entitled 'Local Government 74'.

28 October 2012. See next blog.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

It's that missing Tram again

If you would like to read 'part 2' of my story about Nottingham's 'Disappearing Tram' go to my new Going Public blog, where I posted an update to the story yesterday.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Becoming the 'Going Public Blogger'

Most of my recent posts, more by accident than design, have been about public transport, especially in Nottingham. It is a topic I have been interested in since I was a young boy and what information there is online about public transport is    somewhat disjointed and incomplete, so after some thought, I have started a new blog, GoingPublicBlogger, devoted to the topic. This means that there will probably be fewer postings here, but I do not intend to let it go completely (I tried that once before and then came back).

I am very close to being on no committees at all and to having no outside commitments whatsoever for the first time in 54 years (!) since I joined Wembley South Young Socialists in 1960. It's a lovely feeling. For the rest of my days I intend to be a 'free agent' wandering at will. It doesn't mean I don't do things. In the past fortnight I have had visits from community consultants and City Homes to talk about plans for the future of the Lenton Flats development area in particular and local housing in general, plus an invite to give evidence to Parliament's Local Government & Community Committee later this month.

I will continue to write about Lenton matters from time to time, but I have put my 'activist' days behind me. I still want to see the corporate capitalist system defeated at the ballot box and believe, very reluctantly, that I live in a police state.

I have been attending a 'Creative Writing Class' run by Beeston Workers' Educational Association (WEA) Branch for a year now and enjoy it greatly. After years of writing about local history and local community issues, I am writing for me. It is quite a different experience.

So, this posting is attended as a way of playing catch up with those of you who visit Parkviews from time to time. Next week there will be a birthday bash for our two eldest grand-daughters (they will be 21 and 24 respectively this month) and there are elderly relatives to visit as well.