Monday, 28 December 2009

That could have been dear...

What is it about the countryside and animals?
Does no one teach the animals the Green X Code?
Driving back from Hemel yesterday, at 50mph, a deer shot out of the hedgerow into the road in front of me. During the second that followed I thought "Blimey! at least it'll be across the road before it would be in my way" .
Then another deer shot out behind the first one. This is where I thought I'd better brake. Luckily there wasn't a third one following the second. If there had been that could have been an expensive bump.
Footnote: Robert, sitting in the back, declared, "Dad, I thought they were kangeroos!"

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

We Can't Duck The Issues

The snow has caused lots of problems. Have you got a caption for this poor ornamental duck in my garden?

Add a caption, we can't duck the issues

 

'Snow Good, We Can't Duck The Issues

Dorothy Thornhill, Mayor of Watford says of the snow: "This kind of weather is here to stay now and our current policy (as a nation) of gritting the main roads then expecting a thaw to take care of the side roads and pavements is no longer going to work!"

So, I say what do we do?
Deposit grit bins on every little slope that is likely to contribute to The Great Gridlock?
All live closer to where we work?
Buy 4x4's?
Close companies down for the winter?
Create more laybys so that abandoned cars have somewhere to be abandoned?
Or all of the above?

We Can't Duck The Issues

Add Your Caption

December 21st Snow-Locked

A disastrous evening on the roads for local people just trying to get home from work. Arriva removed their buses from the roads, Luton and Stansted airports closed.
The roads around the Three Counties were gridlocked. And all because it snowed.

My own journey of an hour (tops) on a normal rush-hour took 5.25hours.

When I was coming home I think I saw 2 real problems at M1 Junction 10.
Firstly, traffic has to move up a slope from the spur road to get onto the roundabout above the M1. My car slipped lots. I almost didn't make it, and aftewr I got up there was quite a gap before the next one made it.
The slope contributes to a backlog all the way back down the airport road, and that in turn holds up the Lower Luton Road.
Secondly, the traffic coming off the M1 northbound, blocks the traffic on the J10 roundabout trying to turn off that roundabout to go onto north on the m1. The roundabout there should never have been built. They should have built flyovers.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Dunstable Northern Bypass

An announcement was made last week about the "Northern Dunstable Bypass". The powers that be seem to think that a new road linking east to west and to the M1 will relieve the traffic running north-south through Dunstable's A5.
But here's the reality of the new road: Thousands of extra homes are expected to be built in the north of Houghton Regis parish. Clearly without the new "bypass" Poynters Road, Park Road North, and the High Street Houghton Regis, would be unable to cope with all the extra traffic. I'm not sure that even the Northern Bypass will actually relieve Houghton Regis of it's traffic jams every rush-hour.
Nevertheless, the news from the Highways Agency will be welcomed by many throughout South Bedfordshire. Clearly, for those who want to travel north south via the A5, nothing short of a Dunstable town-centre circumnavigation will be sort.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Moor End Roundabout, Hemel Hempstead

Hemel Hempstead Moor End Roundabout.
Love it or loathe it?
This item relates to Hemel FM article.

It's the best way to handle the number of incoming roads that I know of. Traffic moves very slowly most of the time, which is good from a road safety point of view, at a busy intersection. I imagine that overpasses and underpasses would be very costly to implement. If traffic lights were added to it, I think this would increase driver frustration as they would perceive that it takes longer to negotiate each junction, so unless there's other alternatives, this is the best solution.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

ACT now ... to Change the Law, and CAMPAIGN!

I've just joined ACT, a Liberal Democrat "facebook" style Web site for people, members AND non members, to get involved in, to deal with the issues that anyone wants to deal with.
Here's my starting page.

Here's your starting page.

See you in a Liberal Democratic UK in the future?

Thursday, 12 November 2009

X Factor Boycott - Change the Rules

I just blogged ...

X Factor: Devastated

This week has seen unprecedented activity after Lucie Jones lost her place in the X-factor. I was out, and unable to see the live Sunday show, but caught up with what happened on Monday.
In my opinion, Simon Cowell went to the public vote because:
a) he was curious,
b) he expected the public to have least voted for the Bart Simpson twins,
c) he wanted to be as fair as he could to Louis Walsh who was down to his last act.
I don't accept that Simon is as money orientated or as devious as people try to make out.

But, before the SING-OFF, he did say he'd put the past behind them and judge the 2 acts on their final songs. Lucie was miles better at SINGING than Jedward, and Simon Cowell should have had the courage to have voted off the twins. Simon has lost a lot of credibility this week.

The judges have to recognise that an act can be deeply unpopular, and recognise it by opinion on Internet groups, newspapers, and BOO-ing. Yes. Lots of boo-ing for the twins week after week.

Some argue that if you want an act to stay in, you should vote for them. I don't accept that argument. That would have meant voting for Lucie, Stacey, Olly, Jamie, Danyl, and all the other acts I would rather see on the show rather than the twins. At 35p a time plus VAT that would be a gross exploitation of the public. Too expensive.

As one who has enjoyed all the thrills (and deluded wanna-be's) of this show, from auditions to the live finals, I see no point in continuing to watch X-FACTOR. When judges don't do the decent thing, there will be seen to be nothing fair about encouraging the public to vote for their favourite act, when THE MOST UNPOPULAR ACT can get through.

I even sense that Louis Walsh was uneasy that Lucie had to leave the competition. There is no value in asking a mentor to vote.

If there has to be a SING-OFF, the public should get a further opportunity to vote who stays in the show.

FACEBOOK:
GET-JOHN-AND-EDWARD-OFF-XFACTOR
boycott the x factor

Thursday, 5 November 2009

So the Central Beds want the parishes to do more...

I went to Chicksands last night. Town and parishes conference. Seems to me that CBC expect to have their income cut next year, and strongly hinting that they want the parishes to pick up the tab and push up their part of the Council tax, even asking us to think about what services they want the parishes to take on. So, will it be grass cutting, footpath mending, litter picking, .... what ? And Con, Lab, and Libs all saying they want power devolved to the lowest level. So whoever wins, more power to the lower levels. But it's a fine balance deciding to put up a localities local precept to pay for these services if that locality is on the poor side. So, if the services are taken on from the central authority, the central authority must follow through with the funds. Come on, public, contact me!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

JEDWARD were not highest polling as I foolishly reiterated a tabloid claim in the last post. It was just a rumour.But there is so much talk about the duo now that I fear they have become the anti-X Factor vote.

Has it occurred to you yet that all the anti X-Factor votes are concentrated on one act? Whereas all the sensible votes are split across many great acts? And who would want the act that can't sing to win more than any other act? The rival TV companies! With X-Factor disgraced, they can look to boosting their own ratings. The Louis Walsh Aggravation Factor will continue apace right through to the finals.

Look into my eyes, my eyes, my eyes, not around the edges, into my eyes... LUCY JONES....

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Where Politics Meets the X Factor

In my other blog I have been writing about the X Factor.

For me, being a Liberal Democrat is seeing that something is wrong, and seeking to intervene to make a change. So, here's where politics meets the X-Factor.
Each week is themed. The singers may be poor on one theme and good on another. But if they're poor one week, they could go out. And all the times people voted for them before, when they might have been much better, those votes won't help to save them.

I think the current voting system is wrong. The acts that leave should be the ones that have polled the lowest number of votes over ALL the weeks they have been on the live programme. It shouldn't be the ones that score the lowest in a particular week.

X-Factor Polling

Apparently the twins John and Edward polled the highest vote at the weekend despite the fact that they are rubbish singers. Some see it as an anti-Simon Cowell vote. Well, naturally I was surprised that Miss Frank group went out. They were good. But I didn't vote. I might have voted if I could vote for an act to leave the contest. Somehow I don't think that idea would get off the ground.
But the voting system is wrong. The acts that leave should be the ones that have polled the lowest number of votes over ALL the weeks they have been on the live programme. It shouldn't be the ones that score the lowest in a particular week.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Rikki in the Last 2 as predicted!

I was right, I said last week X-factor Rikki was going down.. in a few minutes we find out if its him or Rachel. Rachel where are your fans? Lloyd should have been there not Rachel

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

X-FACTOR Live: Week 1 (Revisited)

Following Saturday night's X Factor contest I took another look at the performances last night.
Skipping through the chat, the intros, the ads and the judges verdicts, brought the 2 hour long show down to three quarters of an hour.

Rachel Adedeji was in the bottom 2 for viewers votes, so why was that? Well, the presentation of her song, Robbie William's "Let Me Entertain You" tended to drown her out. To be heard she was left shouting into the microphone rather than singing into it. She is capable of much more professional output than that, so I would say that was a poor song choice for her, and she can surely get through a few more rounds with better songs to suit her.

The group that exited the programme actually weren't all that bad. They sang well. I think they suffered from the stigmatism of where they came from: pole dancing. Dressed to be provactive on stage cannot alone have been enough to turn people off. After all, who can deny that Madonna and Kylie Minouge have not exploited provocativeness in order to help sell themselves?

Rock star, Jamie Afro Archer, was given a poor song choice. I can see the connection. Marc Bolan had afro hair, Jamie has afro hair. Thought processes of Simon Cowell(?): "He can do the same thing." But that's as far as it goes. Marc was effeminate. Jamie never will be. Jamie looked uncomfortable singing Get It On, UNTIL he moved away from the mike stand, and raunched it out in his own rocker style. Yeah!

Stacey Solomon. I mentioned earlier she might get too irritating to vote for. She's giggly, very Essex, and for gawds sake dear, keep yer trap shut and just open it for the singing! She sang well. Where she falls down is confidence. Please let it grow in her, for she has such a wonderful singing voice. Let her not hide behind her hair. Let her fans see her, let us all hear her, and wow! she's still in my top 2.

Lucie Jones. On first hearing of this week's song I wasn't too sure. Then the judges knocked her a bit. But now I have seen her sing it again, I found maturity in her voice, confidence in her own ability, and yet still, an even more powerhouse of a voice still lurking there waiting for the right song to match that power. Lucie is still my number one.

Miss Frank. This was a brilliant performance, well executed, and in the scale of tonight's performances better than many other acts.

Olly - slow start this week, people chant for him, but he doesn't look like a winner to me.

The Bart Simpson twins - they can't sing, but they're in the competition, somehow! I don't think they'll make a career in being pop stars, but they could do well presenting tv shows. Even so, I'd be one of those who would not watch any show they presented.

Danyl, the teacher. I don't quite get this guy yet. His performance went to the next level. No doubt about that. But is he still trying to prove something to just his school, or is he seriously reaching out to the rest of the country?

Joe is the dark horse with a crisp voice. Best of the boys on tonight's performance. Endearing. Great act.

So who haven't I mentioned yet? Rikki, and Lloyd. Lloyd you lack maturity, your act is still too fragile to make you a true winner among all these others. Rikki, sorry mate, you are going down. Soon I predict.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

CANDY RAIN GO OUT - Good!

I was surprised Rachel Adeje was in the last 2 for the play off to see who left the X factor tonight. Thank goodness she stayed in, and Candy Rain, the former pole dancers have left. I don't think I could have looked at those false lips any longer. Rachel is a beauty, she sings very professionally, but I suspect what happened was that people picked Lucie Jones, Stacey Soloman to get the vote rather than Rachel.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

X Factor - The Final Twelve

Now that the X Factor live show candidates are chosen, I can say that my predictions of last week are right on the money.
"My" three girls, Lucie Jones, Stacey Soloman and Rachel Adedeji, are through. Jamie "Afro" Archer is through, along with Olly and Danyl Johnson (who I have a bit of trouble being convinced by). And the girl group Miss F.R.A.N.K are through. I don't disagree with the boys that were put through by Cheryl, and she did include Lloyd Daniels, but it's the first mentioned two girls, Jamie, and Miss F.R.A.N.K that I tip for the top 4 slots.
The judges gave their decisions in their own imimitable style. Danni Minougue came across as very professional, but surely we could have done without the long pauses where the girls were told they were going through or not. Louis was short and sharp and to the point. King Cowell, sat on his throne giving the contestants his decision while the challengers knelt looking humbly on. Cheryl was a true drama queen, even breaking off half way through giving the opera-singer her decision. The scene reminded me of a poor bull-fighter who suddenly decided not to plunge his sword between the weakened bull's shoulder blades. In the end she delivered her final blow to the hapless contestant, a decision I entirely agreed with in the end, but one that doesn't get my hankie of approval for the manner in which the blow was struck.
It was raining cats and dogs by Lake Como, in Italy, where Louis Walsh's decision was made. Someone up there clearly realised the groups were by and large a wash out! On the down side, the irritating twins are put through, almost as I predicted they would be in my blog of last week. Louis seems to have forgotten that Simon Cowell does not like the Bart Simpson hairstyled twins. Simon won't rest from knocking the twins on the upcoming live shows until they have been finally booted off.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

My X-Factor Predictions 2009

So, the X factor judges have made their decisions about which "24" to keep in the competition. If I was a judge I wouldn't bother having a "groups" section next time, because in my opinion, none of the groups we were shown on tv had the elusive "X-factor" about them. That said, the one group that I think will have a chance at winning is the all girl group, who entered as individual solo artists, and came out of boot camp as a group on the recommendation of the judges. That alone is a sure sign that the judges also thought the standard of groups entered was poor. That means that my tip for the group to go the furthest is "Miss F.R.A.N.K". Their boot camp performance was a terrific raunchy blend of harmonies, and if they continue to gel together they should surely go far. The next group I think will go far is the twin boys, John and Edward, with the Bart Simpson hairstyles. I rather think they will appeal to some voters as much as they will turn off others. I fall into the category of voters that already finds them conceited, arrogant, and implausible, and they won't get my vote. In my mind I have already written off the the other four groups.

Moving onto the over 25's, it was Simon Cowell's remark on hearing that he had got the job of mentoring them, "this could be a really good year for me , err I mean for them", that leads me to suspect that there are going to be some clashes with his 6 stars. They're already set in their ways at over 25, and if they don't work with Cowell, he'll be quick to talk them down in the shows. I'm wondering who's hair he is going to find the most irritating? Will it be Afro man Jamie (3,238,807 views so far on YouTube video, Mohican man Daniel, hat-man Olly, short back and sides Danyl (7,385,959 views so far on YouTube video (wow!), bushy haired Nicole, or Afro lady Treyc? Jamie will go far, although as a rock performer, I think it will be cringe time in disco week, and I do wonder how he'll come across doing jazz/swing. So, while he's the best of the bunch for me, I'm not sure he's got staying power. Nicole, poured her heart out at boot camp to get through to the final six, but I think she peaked too soon, and will not appeal to many people. Treyc, I didn't think stood out for me in early performances. Olly, with his gimmicky hat, will get lots of votes in early rounds. Mohican man, I like your sincerity, but I don't think you're good enough to win.

The boys - none really stand out to me as a winner, I barely remember any of them in the auditions. There were better boys who didn't get through including the 17 year old lad who did a Michael Jackson number, he was a real natural star for me, and should have gone through. Judges, what were you thinking? So, instead we've got the hat man Rikki, nothing special about his voice or desire to win, and then there's Lloyd Daniels with the cutie-charismatic-face-in-the-crowd that will catch a large number of votes. Notice I haven't said anything about his singing. The others in the six - did nothing for me.

The girls, - I like some of these, and I rather think the overall winner is going to be in this group. So, my three favourites in this category are Stacey Solomon, Rachel Adedeji, and Lucie Jones.
Stacey is the Dagenham 21 year old girl that will appeal to the tabloids, and ultimately to their readers and these will actually vote. Despite all these hardships(!) she actually has a terrific singing voice. Stacey Soloman's (5,649,500 views so far on YouTube. So people like her, but I think she might drop off towards the end of the season's show run as little things like her large teeth and big pointy nose (sorry, but the public are fickle!) start to irritate viewers. But she could still win. Rachel Adedeji came across as professional, perhaps too professional, but I think she'll go further than the second placed group. Lucie Jones, an 18 year old student, is the girl I'd tip to top this category, and possibly the whole show. As I write, her video on YouTube has had 2,133,142 views, but I rather think that for all the different types of songs they have to do, Lucie could be the one to creep through and get enough votes across the generations. Who knows, it could be Lucie, Stacey, and Afro Jamie as they race towards the final show in December. Or perhaps, for this type of show, cutie Lloyd instead of Jamie?

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Britains Got Talent

There's a bunch of strange "singers" appearing on the X Factor lately. There must a lot of tone deaf relatives and friends around encouraging no-hopers to go forward. I tend to agree with Cowell every time. The girl judges are just window dressing, although Dannii Minogue has shown some signs of brains, too. Walsh has absolutely no idea, and comes across as insincere. Whereas in Britain's Got Talent, it's Piers Morgan that constantly cheeses me off with his "every one deserves a chance" attitude.
Like, the time in Britain's Got Talent when this no-hoper appeared on stage with a black bag.
"Ok, what's your act?" asks Simon Cowell.
"It's in the bag", says the man.
"Right, Ok, off you go" replies Cowell.
Man dips his hand in the bag, and places a walnut on his head.
Cowell doesn't look too impressed. He presses his "X".
Pierce Morgan looks VERY impressed, and beams enthusiastically.
Man dips his hand in the bag and fetches out a hammer. He uses the hammer to smash the walnut balanced on his head. Then curtsies theatrically to the audience.
Cowell rolls his eyes to view the ceiling, and shakes his head.
Piers Morgan visibly laughs out loud.
Morgan is the first to speak, "That was a very brave thing to do. Not many people would want to make a living out of doing that. You certainly get my vote."
Cowell is astounded by these comments, and looks contemptuously at Morgan. He asks the man, "What else have you got in your black bag?"
"Aspirin" replies the man.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Consultation Exercise: East of England

During this week I was one of the Houghton Regis town councillors who attended a consultation meeting of East of England Regional Assembly (EERA).
The purpose of the meeting was to obtain views on how fast the region should grow and broadly where that growth should go. As the meeting was held at Chicksands, the questioners were by and large from Central Beds, and Luton areas.

There were appeals for the A5-M1 bypass to be built first (Cllr PeterWilliams, Houghton Regis), and for other infrastructure (roads, hospitals, schools etc. ) to be in place before building starts. General response: government short of money, EERA looking for section 106 money from developers to fund infrastructure, followed by a general sense of fustration from the assembled questioners. There were appeals for homes to be built for rent (Cllr Rita Egan, Houghton Regis), to make them affordable for local people. There was an appeal for electricity to be made available, as the region will face supply problems. There was a question about where water supplies will come from; and given that people need food, why is a farming region to be concreted over? Several questioners made the point that they didn't believe the government statistics on population growth : response from EERA, whatever statistics are used the population is growing and needs homes.

HRTC and Planning

At a Special meeting of the Houghton Regis town council this week, councillors resolved to continue with the current arrangement of Planning and Licencing committee meetings approximately every three weeks. At these meetings parish councillors get to comment on local planning applications, and if they feel it necessary, can alert a Central Bedfordshire councillor to a particular application. In turn, that Central Beds councillor can "call it in" and the application will be looked at by a committee of Central Beds council. The Houghton Regis Town Council does not decide planning applications. Town councillors also resolved to ask the town clerk to put together a special Town Crier leaflet that would help to clarify the planning system.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

We Shall Fight Them on The Beaches

Clicking the link below brings an interesting response! No one can now say that they don't know what people are saying in the House of Commons, because speeches back to 1935 are now available online.
We Shall Fight Them on The Beaches

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Salmon Fishing in The Yemen

This week I read Salmon Fishing in The Yemen by Paul Torday. Sprinkled with interesting facts about salmon, and fishing terms, the novel combines emails, newspaper reports, diary entries, and interviews to tell the story of why a government scientist is "put up" to see through an impossible project to introduce salmon fishing in the Yemen. The story gets behind the news to inform the reader about how government and diplomacy might work, and how the little man is easily walked over by those in the upper echilons. Peter Mandelsohn is easily parodied in the story as "Peter Maxwell", while Tony Blair finds his fiction self in "Jay Vent".

A Fraction of the Whole

The Australian based novel, A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2008. At 710 pages, it is a mystery around the key character Martin Dean. Who is Eddie who follows him around, and why does he keep his distance from Martin? Why does Martin almost worship his errant Uncle who apparently died in a bush fire while escaping from prison? All is revealed in the end, as the story moves from Australia to France and Thailand, and back to Australia. Great read! Enjoy!

The White Tiger

When I picked up The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga earlier this year, I had no idea what the book was about, other than it won the Man Booker Prize 2008. It turned out to be a compelling read throughout. A rickshaw puller's son goes to the big city, becomes a taxi driver,learns the ways of other drivers, and there is a dark outcome. Along the way we get an insight into the poor and the rich side of India. A must read for anyone wanting to develop an understanding of the seedier side of India.

Salmon Fishing In The Yemen

This week I read Salmon Fishing in The Yemen by Paul Torday. The novel combines emails, newspaper reports, diary entries, and interviews to tell the story of why a government scientist is "put up" to see through an impossible project to introduce salmon fishing in the Yemen. The story gets behind the news to inform the reader about how government and diplomacy works, and how the little man is easily walked over by those in the upper echilons.

Monday, 20 July 2009

"Harry" cashes in, but are Council Chiefs just Creaming It?

With Daniel Radcliffe said to be picking up £8.65m for his latest Harry Potter film, it has made be wonder what all the fuss was about with MPs expenses. Apparently there is no public outcry about actors. I guess that's all right, then?
We all come into this world with nought, and leave with nought. Something happens with money in the middle of all that.
What I want to know is, do you think £185,000 (minimum) a year is appropriate for a Chief Executive of Central Bedfordshire Council? The argument being that this salary sits between established unitary Councils of a comparable scale (between c£140k and c£160k), and larger new unitary Councils and London Boroughs (c£200k). Personally, I'd say the figure is far too high. No one needs that kind of income to live a decent life. They could all manage on £100,000 a year less.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Jacko Dead

Well, that was a shock, last night. So now the world gorges itself on tv, radio, newspaper, and magazine on his life and times. I've never bought a MJ record, but I never didn’t like any of his stuff. As I write this, only 8 albums in the amazon.co.uk top 25 chart are NOT featuring Michael Jackson. Now that’s phenomenal!

No holes in this argument

I’ve written to my MP about potholes on the Leighton Buzzard Rd, route into Hemel Hempstead; you have to do some serious dodging to avoid some nasty potholes here. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that someone has done some serious damage to tyres, or worse, on this road. Of course Herts Tory council are blaming the Labour government for under-funding them. Come the General Election, Tories will persuade the voters to vote Tory if they want potholes fixed.

Monday, 22 June 2009

I Dish the Dirt on our local Election Campaign!

I have decided to publish an account of the events that took place during the local Election campaign during June 2009.
First off censored in the fashion of publishing true records in the House of Commons.

D R and P . Sue G y sad, indeed.
The first leaf printed by , confused , gypsy petition
The second leaf potholes why? Well, it was everyone should get .
Meanwhile, R . This was not .
Next, lovely and sunny.
Actually this meeting was dog barking even more signatures NP candidate.
Hemel . Thanks, Colin!
trees door knocking voting. litter . Slow, at first only . But by 6pm, grand old duke . so that was all right.
Counting started in secrecy.






Finally, I'd like to thank every one who voted, , , , and last but not least, who's financial help I found extremely rewarding, NOT! No, life as an unpaid local councillor certainly has it's rewards, not to mention it's and !

For full explanation see local MP, Andrew Selous.