Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I'm going to have to put Haiku month on hold. The changes at work are having a massive impact on available time. It's almost like I have a proper job! But without the income. And the next 4 days are going to be even worse as what is normally going to be a team of nine becomes a team of four.

We are probably the smallest team in the country with one of the biggest targets. The number of appointments coming through is larger than expected, or at least, with the new even distribution, the number I am getting has increased.

Anyway, I'm off to work now. Should be back by 10.00 this evening. Carry on.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Haiku Month - Day 13

Laid at your doorstep.

So we have another twist in the Tia Sharp murder trial with the accused pleading guilty. It is a dreadful case as all these types of murder are but you have to wonder what on earth was going on in the family.

As I remember from when the story originally broke, Stuart Hazell had been the lover of Tia's mother before going on to live with the Grandmother. I might be confusing this case with another but I don't think so. Then, we have a list of his previous convictions today and apparently they weren't any secret. People on the estate were afraid of him and knew of him. It's not like he'd done something 40 years earlier in another part of the country.

Now, I am as appalled at the murder as the next person, but when you have the mother saying how "she gave him the ultimate trust" of looking after her daughter and now look what he did, you have to question the decision making of the mother? She isn't responsible for the death but really, you trust your daughter to the care of this man whom you know about, and then when he does something like this, however extreme it might be in comparison to his other violent crimes, you lament at how he has taken something from you? How can a parent really be so naive as to think 1)he was a safe choice to leave your daughter with, and 2) the lifestyle choices of the adults in the family were a template for good parenting. I know little about Tia's father,he could be as bad as the rest of them but I do have sympathy for him as he doesn't seem to be part of this sorry mess.

The person however that I have most sympathy for is Tia,who was subjected to a life within that family. What is worrying though is that she isn't a one off when it comes to being a child in such a dysfunctional family. There are children at M's school who could end up with the same result. Some of the stuff the teachers hear about their lives is awful. And it's not just the breakdown of the initial parents relationships. Some of the children discuss their "parents" with identifying numbers. One child was telling M that he has a new sister because his second mum is with his third dad and that dad's daughter is now his sister. (His second mum is his dads next wife after his parents split up, and she has now moved on to someone else who is his third dad as his mum has also got a new partner who became his second dad). I've said before how neglected some of the children are. I know there are those politically who will claim people just have kids to claim benefits and jump the housing queues, and whether it's right or not, it's difficult to see what other reason some of these parents ever had for having children.

Do some parents not understand, when you have a child you are responsible for it's safety , well-being, behaviour, socialisation, etc. It isn't a job you can do for a few years and then give up, nor just do it for office hours. And is spreads across all social groups so it isn't just the unemployed or "benefit scroungers". If I was run over by a bus, even at the age of 56, my mums first thoughts virtually would be to wonder if she had spent enough time teaching me to cross the road safely! Is it, as some would say, a problem of poor parenting leading to their kids having even less idea of parenting? Is it the idea that parents have to think of themselves too and should have "me" time?

Tia Sharp won't be the last child to be killed through dysfunctional family life, and to be honest I don't know what we can do about it, but we surely can't go on as is.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Haiku - Day 12

Knowledge is not just
what you know, but rather if
you can recall it.

I am addicted to SongPop on Facebook. There's nothing I like more than a quiz and particularly a music one. I'm involved in 20 concurrent head to head matches and am up in 19. I have 110 minutes to get ahead of that person for a clean sweep. I'm not going to bed until I manage it!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Haiku Month - Day 11

Reliving one's past
Can remind you why you are
who you are today

One of my favourite radio programmes is on Radio 2. Desmond Carrington's Sound of the 60s.

I actually don't remember many of the songs from the first half of the 60s, even I'm too young, but the latter half started to impinge on my young musical mind, and of course records get played for a number of years after they are released.

In the 60s my main radio listening would have been Junior Choice on a Saturday morning and then Sunday late morning as Mum made Sunday lunch and me and my brother played games with my Dad. And Sunday radio meant 2 Way Family Favourites, Round The Horne and The Clitheroe Kid. A few years later they were followed by Alan "Fluff" Freeman finishing the afternoon off with The Top 40!

Today on Desmonds show he played three tracks back to back which whilst released in the 60s impacted my life more in the early 70s at our youth club. The three were;

Guns of Navarone - The Skatalites
A Message to You Rudy - Dandy
The Israelites - Desmond Dekker & The Aces. (Or for those remember the old TDK advert, My Ears Are Alight.

Ska and Reggae were our staples at Youth Club along with a reasonable amount of Northern Soul.

Even today I like a bit of Reggae and Ska. It's one of the few bits of my musical past i'm happy to revisit.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Haiku Month - Day 9 & 10

As the mighty wind
moves silently round the world
so must we sometimes.

So yesterday, with all this new work stuff, I was silent too, which is why yesterday's Haiku is today!

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Haiku Month = Day 8

As sultry summer
turns to mellow autumn time
so we too progress.

Although I spent a few years away from Everest, I was still pretty much involved with people who were still there and feel I've been there for the past 21 years. There have been changes over the years, some minor and others slightly more disruptive. Last year, however, we were bought out by a team of venture capitalists. Not the normal sort who come in, strip out the assets, then sell it on, but a group of guys who made their millions by turning companies round by re-organising them and then selling them after three years.

We are 9 months in and they have concluded all their investigations and tomorrow sees the launch of the new look company. To the public there probably won't be any discernible difference at first but for us, at the sharp end of the company we have been told that there are going to be massive shifts, both in work processes and in attitudes, both towards ourselves by Head Office and towards our customers.

Like all these things, the proof will be in the pudding, and it's not like we haven't heard it all before, but this time we are being run by people who make these things happen, not just hope they might.

Tomorrow I have what will hopefully be an interesting and enlightening meeting to find out all about what is happening in detail.

There has been one phrase that has been bandied about since the first inklings of what is about to happen. R.E.M., the popular American beat combo, have a song of the same title. I link to it here for your listening pleasure.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Haiku Month - Day 7

On the river runs,
from source to sea in purpose,
heading for freedom.

Went out to Old Windsor today. The Thames looked suitably gorgeous. I think the Thames is my favourite river. Can you have a favourite river? Is there something wrong in ranking rivers? The Thames is my No 1 anyway. Out of interest The River Aire has my second vote.

I would say from the East End of London back up to it's source in Oxfordshire/Gloucestershire? it's difficult to find a bad view. Maybe being so familiar with it colours my perception.

Down at Ham House on Monday we were on a different stretch, a famous stretch, but viewing it from a different angle.

A View of The Thames at Richmond

This is the view, looking down from Richmond Hill as The Thames bends round from Richmond on towards Teddington and Kingston. Ham House is on the left bank, roughly where the tree line suddenly drops a level.
Because of where I live there is hardly a day when I don't see it in one location or another. If I go East I will see it at Richmond, West and it will be Staines, Runnymede, Windsor and beyond, if I venture further. The North means Brentford where Caesar first crossed the Thames as he conquered Britain and on to Kew, Chiswick, Barnes and Central London, whilst to the South, Twickenham, Teddington and Kingston. It helps that there is a large looping bend around here.

For all that, it's not that I ever spend time on it. The occasional boat trip but rarely, I've never swum in it, it's not really that sort of river. In fact I have rarely even touched the water. It's just not something I've done yet get me anywhere near the sea and I'm in it as soon as I can. So it's a strange relationship I have with it. I love being in the water but somehow the Thames is above that, not somewhere where I should be inhabiting, maybe because I inwardly feel like it is The Queen's river or too majestic in it's own right.

So I shall carry on admiring it nearly every day, acknowledging it as an old friend yet one which must be kept a little apart, a little aloof.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Haiku Month- Day 6

Practice makes perfect,
although basic competence
would be a good start.

Although I quite like performing Gilbert & Sullivan, musicals are more fun. The songs tend to be more fun to sing and more the music I like. There is a downside though. There is normally more dancing. Which is worse when you have a principle role. Because you normally have your own dance. And I have. Potentially 2 solo dances and a duet dance. Tonight we have started setting the duet dance. Forget the actual steps, I am trying to master the terminology of them. Drag steps, wing turns, step ball changes, to name but 3. And naming but three is all about I can manage.

Luckily it is a "soft shoe shuffle" so isn't too energetic, but being one of just two people does leave you rather exposed. Hopefully, with five months to go I will master it at least well enough to stay on my feet durting the entire length. That in my book would be a major success!

I have decided that in future, with reference to my post of a couple of days back, if they decide to complain about my lack of terpsichorean skills I shall say that might well be true but it's bloody impressive for a performing potato!!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Haiku Month - Day 5

History teaches
things that are helpful today,
but we have to look.

Not that we've made great use of our National Trust Membership but we thought for a short trip out we would go to Ham House. There's plenty online if you want to read about it so I'll just post a few images.

It's well worth a visit as there are a lot of rooms open to the public and they also have demonstrations so today I got to try some Ale made with the hop variety grown there, although they don't brew on the premises, and also some biscuits cooked in the ovens which are still working. An added bonus.

A Large Stone Figure Reclining Outside The Main Entrance. (I suspect it has a more detailed name than that).

17th Century Nuclear Warheads - Or possibly some fir topiary.

The Main Entrance Hall from the Galleried Landing.

More topiary in the Formal Garden.

Inlaid Marquetry to a cabinet made by slicing through a tree. Highly unusual.

The full cabinet. Something rather aiamalistic about the way the decoration works.

Leather fire buckets hanging up in the servants passageway. They were kept full of sand in case fire broke out, and once the sand was used they would be filled with water.

Some Flowers. They looked a bit like a variety of tulip but I suspect they aren't. No doubt someone will know.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Haiku Month - Day 4

Progress is good, but if
you don't know where you came from
how can can you go back.

In a major push to modernise the school, not for any practical reason but so she can boast about having a modern school, Marj's headmistress bought £30,000.00 of ipads for the kids and staff. This decision would have been more palatable if the Head knew anything about computers, she actually needs someone else to turn hers on, literally, but another school has them and there was no way she wasn't keeping up with the Jones'.

Now, there are some things the ipad can do that the netbooks, that the kids already had, can't. But there are even more that ipads can't manage. You can't teach kids keyboard skills in the same way. You can't touch type in effect, but then you can't swype either, so input is slow.

We have a friend at opera who is so proud because his two year old granddaughter has her own ipad. Why? Not a junior version but the full scale adult version. Surely there are better ways of aiding manual dexterity than pointing on a screen, like proper drawing with a pencil.

The ipads, to most of the staff's minds, are a waste of money and think the kids would be better off sticking with Windows based computers, with proper keyboards, and retaining the skills they have already learnt. But the most telling thing is that most of the staff think their time would be better spent learning to write correctly, neatly, and grammatically. They shouldn't be devoid of computer time, but they need some real basic skills that can serve them throughout their lives no matter what happens with technology. Not in the way Michael Gove thinks should happen, he knows nothing. But that's another post, another time.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Haiku Month - Day 3

The smallest beaver
can fell the mightiest tree,
size does not mean strength.

Two years ago next week, Linda( my-ex) was in Lakeside Mental Health Unit where I was visiting her. I took a call which turned out to be from her ex landlords agents saying they had just had a council representative in claiming back nigh on 8 grand of rent that the Council had paid in Housing Benefit on her behalf, for which they now didn't think she was entitled.

From that day until today, we have been fighting them explaining with each new figure that they come up with, that they are wrong. The amounts have changed, the reasons the monies are due have changed, their view that Linda was in the wrong has never changed. I'm sure I blogged about this not long ago but in January we went to Court as the Council started the process to evict her, which for someone in temporary accommodation, means being sent to live on the streets. Yes, literally. Luckily in January we had a judge who didn't think it was right to throw someone out who appeared to have a genuine reason why they weren't due to pay the money, and a new date was set for next Friday.

Even though we had instructed solicitors they were more geared up to going into court than trying to get to the bottom of things and so not much happened until last week. Out of the blue she received a letter from someone higher up the food chain in the council saying that they had "just discovered" that they had "mistakenly" applied some money to her rent account which they should have recovered from elsewhere and they were reversing the debt.

For the first time in two years the Council weren't chasing for money. There was still a small defecit which was in dispute but was never something we would get hung up about if the court said she had to pay it. Now there was even a letter which, along with the previous adjustments and explanations, proved that everything the Council had done for the last two years was wrong.

Then it went quiet again. Theoretically, even though there was only a small amount of arrears, the shift in balance in front of the court would be that all the money outstanding was down to Linda not paying something. They would look as though they were the wronged party.

We stuck tight in the belief that we could still make a good fist of it in the court and that if push came to shove we could pay the money there and then and the judge would stop the eviction. A risky tactic but one we were willing to take.

And then yesterday we rang her solicitors to book the pre-court meeting so we could discuss tactics when her solicitor said the Council had just rung her, leaving a message to ring them back. She did. And after two years, on the promise that Linda pays across that small amount owed, they are asking the Court to suspend the eviction.

"Wait!", I hear you say, "only suspended, not withdrawn?". And on the face of it I would agree, but the Council have backed themselves into a corner. They have the condition that they won't go back to Court as long as Linda doesn't get into arrears. However, the suspension works both ways, as if they come back and screw up her account as well, Linda can call it back into Court. Not only that, but this "settlement" does not preclude her from seeking damaged for the two years of stress, illness, and out of pocket expenses that their mistakes have caused.

In reality, it is not completely over yet, but it has reached a point at which a large line can be drawn in the sand, and as long as the Council manage not to cause another problem, her life can move forward once again as she can now start rebidding for Council Housing which their error had suspended.

When dealing with The Council and this sort of error for someone with less willpower than Linda, it would be easier just to pay them the money. That would have been £8000. How many people have paid, particularly the elderly, who tend to think if the Council/Government/any other official body, say it is due, they must be right?

And so, like a beaver, she has eventually overcome those who were much bigger and mightier than she. They say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. She will emerge stronger, but this was very close to going the other way.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Haiku Month - Day 2

You can lead a horse
to water but you cannot
make it drink. No Sir!

The art of selling is basically summed up in that well known saying. You should lead a client to a happy conclusion, as our American cousins describe it, that being the purchase of your products. Of course, much of the double glazing industry is based on bludgeoning a prospective client into submission, an art in which I am sadly lacking.

Tonight I went to see a woman who is confident in her ability to purchase windows. she informed me she had done it before and knew just what she was doing. I knew within 5 minutes that I wouldn't be selling anything there. The clues were.

1) She is getting 10 quotes! - There are very few people who can take in the information given by 10 different companies with 10 differing windows. You probably need to be very knowledgeable about the basic product to even begin to. She wasn't. By the time you have had that many quotes there is only one thing you can remember. The price.

2) She uttered the five words which are the biggest clue that she won't be coming to us. "of course, I want quality". Very few people who buy our windows ever mentions quality in that way. They ask questions which are probing about the construction, engineering, design, et al. When a client starts saying they want quality, the only person they are convincing are themselves. When a person says they want quality, they might as well just hold a piece of paper up saying "I buy on price", because they always do.

3) "I have a budget and I won't go over it". Well, it's to be hoped for her sake that her budget is high enough to get her some half decent windows, but if it does, it will be more by luck than judgement.

4) Now, I am at fault here because I didn't do my job properly, but I didn't tell her one thing about our windows. Nothing. And she didn't ask one thing about them. The only thing she knows about our windows are what they would be costing her. Assuming she does the same, the only thing she will know about the other company's product is the price. The only choice she will then make is based on price. Not quality.

Our windows will normally cost more than others. They should. They are the best windows. Every one will say that, but we can prove it at law. We have to in order to advertise the way we do. Not everyone can afford our windows. That's fine. Don't tell anyone, but there are times when it would be a bad decision for someone to buy our windows. I don't want people to make decisions that are bad for them. But I do believe that people should, and most sensible people want, to buy the best windows they can afford. My job is to show them, that if they can afford us, they will be getting a better product than they can get from other companies.

And no one is happier than me when I've led them there are they start drinking.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Haiku Month - Day 1

Humans are complex,
potatoes less so, yet they
have more chromosones.

Each day I will post a self-penned haiku, (and no, they won't all strictly follow the rules of including a reference to nature etc, so you needn't point it out), and then, having posted it, I'll explain it's relevance.

Over the years I have mentioned some of the operations and illnesses I have been through during my life, some more major than others, and I'm not unhappy with my lot. As the ongoing post-operative care following my cancer, my GP decided I should see an endocrinologist has my hormone levels are relatively low, although to be fair they always have been and I've not had that many problems because of it. So off I went to West Mid Hospital the other day to meet her.

She was running about half an hour late, yet it was only a 9.30 appointment which is pushing it even for a hospital. So come 10am in I get called. The reason she has run late is she has been ploughing through my medical records. In detail. Being fascinated. And drawing conclusions.

After initially apologising for being late she then apologises for me having had to have so many illnesses and operations during my life but she finds me "fascinating". (And what woman wouldn't! "Cough"). And then she tells me she has a hypothesis. She thinks there is a link between things throughout my life. Subject to confirmation by genetic testing, I have Klinefelter Syndrome.

The main point of interest is, unlike most "normal" human beings, I have 47 chromosones, not 46. Marj says she has had no doubt for years that I am not a normal human being! Potatoes normally have 48 chromosones but some varieties only have 47. Back in the days of my Kennamatic blog I used the tag line "One chromosone more and I'd be a potato"!.

Little did I know then that I already was!