Saturday, 29 November 2008

Not in a Million Years

"OK, So what exactly is this job?"
"It's dead easy really, all you have to do is walk around Torquay."
"That's it, just walk around Torquay?"
"Nothing else?"
"Well you have to hand out balloons."
"Oh, that doesn't seem too bad."
"There is the other bit."
"What other bit?"
"Well the balloons are advertising the Mariner pub."
"Well mariners are famous for something"
"Like sailing the Seven Seas? I should point out I get seasick walking through a deep puddle."
"No, nothing to do with sailing." Slight pause. "Nor being sick."
"Drinking large amounts of Rum?"
"Don't be silly. I said it was nothing to do with being sick."
"Not rum, Oh God, not rum so it must be sodomy and the lash."
(From Rum, Sodomy and the Lash, a CD by the Pogues)
"Don't be silly. We'd never get away with that in Torquay." Slight pause. "Not in broad daylight anyway." Slightly longer pause. "Don't fancy a bit of overtime later this evening? No. OK. Sorry I asked."
"Woman in every port, that sort of thing?"
"Give me a clue or we'll be here all day."
"What do mariners have on their shoulders?"
"Epaulets, if they're the captain mariner."
Long sigh, "Parrots."
An emphatic shake of head. "I'm not walking round with a parrot on my shoulder. They bite your ear and crap all over you."
"You don't have too walk round with a parrot on your shoulder."
"What then?" Some people can be slow on the up take some times.

Christmas comes but once a year, but after that there is the Easter Bunny to look forward to.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Kingskerswell Bypass, In Your Dreams.

The Kingskerswell Bypass has been in the "sometime in the next few years or so" stage for over ten years now. There were hopes that Government money was going to be found to fast track it so we could expect a road link with the rest of the country some time this century. However under plans announced today it would seen we have once again lost out. The bypass isn't being fast tracked after all. Oh, it's still going to be build just as soon as the money can be found but the Labour Government have asked us down here in Devon not to hold our breath. Could it be some sort of political bias rearing it's ugly head. Remember round here we have a Lib Dem MP, the South West tends towards Lib Dem MPs, and if, as seems likely, we change our MP at the next election he will almost cirtainly be a Tory MP. So no marginal Labour seats round here for the Government to worry about so no fast track bypass round here either. Hands up those who don't see a connection. You there, at the back. The one without your hand up. Your name isn't Gorden Brown is it?

The photo shows the road on a quiet day, the traffic is usually stationary on both sides of the road. By the time we get the money to build the bypass global warming will have pushed sea level up so high Torbay will be much bigger and Torquay, Paignton and Brixham will be largely underwater so there will no point in building the bloody thing anyway.

National Express Crash Driver Jailed

A coach driver who admitted causing the deaths of three passengers by dangerous driving in a crash near Heathrow Airport has been jailed for five years.
The London-to-Aberdeen National Express service overturned on the M4/M25 slip road on 3 January 2007.
Rooney, 49, of Lanarkshire, drove like a man "possessed", the court was told.
Richard Latham QC, prosecuting, said Rooney, from Carluke, kept breaking speed limits, as was shown in tachograph readings, as he left Victoria coach station for Heathrow.
Rooney's driving and heavy braking of the double-decker bus caused bags to fall off the luggage shelf, passengers said.
The court heard Rooney was delayed for half-an-hour when one family's luggage could not fit into the coach and he had to call a taxi to carry it.

The full story can be found here at the BBC News Page.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Sunday Rugby and Sunday TV

Sunday Morning, very windy and not the warmest day of the years so far but the team were playing Totnes at home and it wasn't raining. Last week it had been raining and the match was away in Plystock which is almost all the way to Plymouth and I hadn't bothered going. And guess what, for the first time they had won. The first 3 games had all been lost, mainly because the opposition had managed to pass the ball and we hadn't. But last week the ball had been passed from hand to hand and just like I had been saying all season, pass the ball and we will win.
Would we continue to pass and win this week? Six tries to nothing up at halftime. 34 points to nil. It should have been 42 nil but the player who normally kicks the conversions wasn't playing and no one else seemed happy taking the kicks. Anyway at this level of Rugby once a team gets 50 nil up the rules say the game n must end, no sense in kicking someone when they are that far down. There are those who think this rule is unfair, if your team is so good then let them win 100 to nil. But come on, these are two teams of eleven year olds, not Attila the Hun camped outside the walls of Rome. Anyway what we used to do when winning by a large margin was play a man down. Which is what happened and the game ended an almost respectable score in the end 34 to 14.
Second thing that happened on Sunday and long awaited was the BBC drama 'The Survivors'. This was a remake of a series made some years ago, the idea being a virus had killed just about everyone and the few who remained had to get by as best they could. It had a cult following when it first came out but this is not as good as the original, it seems to have taken the best bits and dumped them and then found a need to spin out the remaining scraps to try and put a story together. One twist, it would appear in this 2008 version the virus has been let loose deliberately. Is this a mad, or maybe not so mad scientist's ides of how to knock global warming on the head, get rid of the cause of global warming which isn't green house gas, it's what is producing the green house gas, that is the six billion of us. Reduce that number to half a million and green house gas will no longer be a problem. An extreme solution I agree but ........

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Yesterday Santa himself came to Torquay. Yes, this was the real Santa, not one of those phonies you get elsewhere in the world. So Fleet Street was shut. Well you would shut the main bus route through town for such an important visitor wouldn't you, I mean Torquay is renowned for it's good maners? Now it has been know for several weeks that Santa was coming, months really, the first sign I noticed proclaiming Christmas was once again on it's way was in the first week in September, a hotel urging patrons to book early for Christmas.

All this notice gave everyone plenty of time to get ready. From the buses point of view this mean working out the diversions for the 6 services that use Fleet Street. I mean it can't be hard can it? Santa came last year and the year before and years and years before that. Just copy the diversions that were in place then. And the other thing of course is to let those of us who couldn't care less that the great man is paying the town a visit is that buses will not be risking running down the man in red or his little helpers by driving up and down while the parade is going on. And how do the bus company inform us there are no buses for 6 hours on Saturday afternoon? They stick really prominent notices on all the bus stops in Fleet Street, there's only 4 of them so expense does not need to be spared to make sure their valued customers aren't left standing in the cold wondering how late the buses are going to be today. Well the notices were there but someone must have had no concept of 'PROMINENT' because.... well look at the photo and ask yourself is that notice 'PROMINENT'? I even made it bigger so you could notice it, that's what notices are for, to be noticed. Notices shouldn't cower in the corner like a wallflower at the local dance, the should announce themselves like a horny peacock looking for a mate. If you have ever seen a horny peacock looking for a mate you might think that is going over the top a little. True, but a bit more effort would have been appreciated thank you.

Actually I knew the road was closed and no buses would be running. I was down there looking to get a photo of the Big Man from Lapland and while I was waiting I kept myself busy explaining to a fair number of hopeful people standing at the various bus stops and sending them to somewhere more likely to be touched by a passing bus.

I didn't get a shot of Santa, it got a little cold and wet and I gave up and went home early, I live walking distance so I didn't have to wait hours for a bus.

Fortunately there was a Controller on hand to give assistance to those who never noticed the notice. Well would you have noticed it?

Saturday, 22 November 2008

World Cup Upset.

World Cup upset if you are from Australia but if you come from New Zealand then it was only what you expected.

In today's Rugby League World Cup Final Australia managed to score 20 Points but New Zealand scored 34 in what appeared to be a bit of an upset.Well done New Zealand even if you did knock England out in the semifinal.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

"Not Here Sir. Sorry."

Most bus drivers get asked, "Can I get out here." Sometimes the passenger will even say please. My reaction was almost always to say, "Sorry but it is not company policy to open the doors unless the bus is at a bus stop." But the driver of this bus was stuck in a bit of a bottleneck in Fleet St, it was a Sunday and he was almost certainly running late. There were in fact 4 number twelves in Fleet Street all heading for Newton and it's a 20 minute service on a Sunday so if one was on time, one was 20 mins late, one was 40 mins late and one was an hour late. Could have been this bus so when a passenger asked if they could get of here 30 feet short of the bus stop the driver was tempted. What happened over the next few seconds will mean he won't be tempted again. As you can see a lady with a pink bag is getting off. She was followed by an elderly couple

The lady you can see alighting with her husband in the white jacket just behind. The next thing that happened was an other elderly couple who were sitting at the back also decided to make a break for freedom. Husband, a sprightly guy made it to the door in double quick time and was away. You can just see him standing under the glass veranda watching his wife, who was a much slower mover than him, being carried away by the bus. She didn't make to the door, in fact she was still half way down the bus, when the driver noticed the bottle no longer had a neck and shut the doors and headed for Newton double quick time. Old gent in street very distressed not knowing if he will ever see his true love again. Old lady on bus very distressed, she probably had no idea where the next stop was. Two blokes in tee shirts, watching bus go very pissed off at bus driver.
Why were they not the happiest bunnies in town? Well they had seen the bus disgorging passengers and had come running up hoping to board. Then the bus had driven away leaving them standing there looking like complete dickheads.

OK. So now you know why bus drivers get told in training school not to open the doors unless the bus is at a bus stop.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

In Good Company

Who's you might ask, then again you probably won't. But I will tell you anyway.
Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper's that's who's.
Any the wiser?

You may remember that a few days ago, though I wouldn't blame you if you have forgotten, I was up a ladder doing a couple of minor repairs around about 15 feet of the ground involving the gutters. One of the things I did was brush away the cobwebs . Now I have nothing against spiders but I do wish the would carefully pack up the webs and take them with them when they move somewhere else. So there I was, not as high up as Miss Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper I have to admit, when the brush I was using slipped and fell. I can clearly remember saying one of those words some people tend to use in situations like this. You know the kind of word I mean, My mother never told me not to use it but I am sure the back of my head would have been spinning if she had ever heard me use it. Starts with 's' by the way. Miss Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper didn't use such a word when she realised she had dropped her tool bag, she just said, "Oh dear." Which was probably a good idea when you are connected to an open radio channel and dropping a tool bag 125 miles up in space is what she had just done. Don't worry, it's still up there, unlike my hand brush which even from only 15 feet managed to hit the ground with enough force to smash the handle. I did miss both the cats though.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Starting This Week

Finally work has started on Rock Walk. These four are the total workforce visible at the moment and what they are doing is clearing away the scrub that has grown up since Devon Tree Services cleared it and 50 trees from the area last spring. The rock face isn't too stable, the bloke on the right in the picture started pulling at a lump of rock the size of a football, it just went tumbling down before I could pick the camera up (give me a shout next time mate). Once all this clearing is finished netting will be put up to ensure no lumps of rock of any size come tumbling down and hit anyone, bad for business. Some of the bigger rocks will have holes drilled in them and bolts fitted as in the Adam's Family Butler. Like the Adam's family Torbay has a monster and it's called Rock Walk.
The work here is expected to take 28 weeks, should be finished in June and is expected to cost £1million. Bet it will cost more, things like this always do.
The other thing that started this week is happening in Preston. Preston is a bottleneck between Torquay and Paignton. Drivers get 8 minutes to get from Paignton Bus Station to Preston Shelter. In the summer it can take 45 minutes especially if it is raining. These road works are supposed to cure this bottleneck. Personally I believe the problem lies at the traffic lights at the bottom of Headland Park Road a bit futher on but the Highways Department believe otherwise. I mean what do I know, I've only driven through Preston about 10 000 times and got stuck there about 5000 times. Still not my problem. Unlike the work on the cliff which the council assures us will not disrupt traffic, this lot might just slow things down a little for traffic heading for Torquay. Good luck out there boys and girls.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Bus Passes. Are We Being Screwed?

Big article in the Herald Express yesterday. Torbay Council announce that they will need to find an extra £600 000 to fund the "Free Bus Pass Scheme." And that's on top of the £2.5m they already have put aside. That means council tax will have to go up by 5%. But Central Government have indicated that a rise of 5% would end up being capped. Nothing to do with knee capping but just as painful. A few Whitehall Heavies, usually in Black suits would turn up at the Town Hall and force their way in, explain very nastily that 5% is too much and remove large sums of money from the council strong room, you're being fined they will say, they will even give a receipt but we will never see the money ever again.

So no 5% rise in council tax. So give the bus companies less money? Yeah, right. After all the owner of the biggest local bus company is worth hundreds of millions. He wouldn't miss a couple of million would he? I think he would miss it. Problem with that is we have a good bus service round here, it's a big asset, it would be foolish to throw that away. Cuts will have to be made else where, in unimportant areas such as child care, social services, education, road repairs, street lighting and the rubbish would only be collected once every 3 months.
So how have Torbay Council made such a mess of the financies to be in this state? Given their reputation over the last ten to fifteen years, Audit reports listing the council as a poorly run authority came thick and fast, but there has been improvement recently. Are they slipping back into their all ways? Has infighting in the Town Hall returned? Is the title Councillor more important than the work that goes will it? Are they just taking the money and heading of to Sunny London? Well I am glad to say no. Actually I’m not glad. If the above were true than at the next election we could vote this lot out and get a new lot in who would sort the problem out. But if we got Barack over here, part time as it were, for a few weeks before he starts his big job in January I doubt even he would be able to sort it.

Lets go back a couple of years. Gordon Brown, then not Prime Minister, announced free bus travel for the disabled and over sixties within their local area. £420million of public money would be available to pay for it. (Buget 2005 figures). Then the scheme was extended, I can now travel anywhere in England on local buses for ‘free’. A billion pounds of public money would be spent to give the disabled and over 60’s the freedom of the busways. I, like just about everyone else assumed that this billion was going to come from Central Government. A few Whitehall civil servants sworn to secrecy by Gordon knew but they weren’t telling. They’d been sworn to secrecy hadn’t they? The quote below is from the Government’s web site and you can see how much money is coming from Central Government. So where is the rest coming from? The local authority that’s where. It’s public money isn’t it? Look at the second quote below, from the same source. Note the question uses the word guarantee, the answer, cunningly doesn’t.

1st quote
“4. What will this cost?
The Government is providing additional funds of up to £212m a year to pay for the national concession in England.
This is in addition to the extra funding each year provided for the previous enhancement to the scheme from 2006 (currently some £377m for 2008/9).”

Now I am not sure if the above means £337million is being spent this year or £549 million, both are a long way short of one billion.

2nd quote
“24. Will the Government guarantee that councils will be no worse off as a result of this change?
It is in all our interests to ensure that local authorities are adequately funded for the national concession. The Government is aware of concerns about funding and consulted those with an interest, including local authorities and bus operators, on funding and reimbursement mechanisms. WE BELIEVE that the funding provided to local authorities is sufficient to meet the cost of the scheme.”

The question asks will the Government guarantee but the answer doesn't actually guarantee anything. It just says “WE BELEIVE”. There are more people believe the world is flat than believe the funding is sufficient to meet the costs and they all work at the Treasury and can believe what every they like. They do after all have all the money and a reputation for not giving any away without serious amounts of blood being spilt.

So we, and other local authorities in the same boat (Titanic) are well and truly screwed. I suppose at the next general election we could vote Gordon Brown out but that would mean letting David Cameron in. Either way we’re screwed.

So we can either ask the disabled and over 60's to stop using buses, or we can write to Gordon Brown, address 10 Downing Street and include the second quote above in the letter and ask him if he agrees that local authorities are getting sufficient funding, or we can lie back and think of England.

Have a nice day!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Who Is That Driving a Bus?

Here is a link a driver sent me. Please note drivers are expected to be in full uniform when driving a bus and that, at this time of year does include a company tie. So why is this driver getting away with driving a bus when he clearly isn't, but then again he never wears a tie. Mind you he is probably carrying his cash tray and other essentials in a plastic bag.

What did I do today? I had to do a bit of shopping this morning but it was a nice sunny, almost warm day. The winds of 45 mph predicted for yesterday didn't turn up which was a shame because I was all ready with the camera to speed down to the harbour and film the centre of Torquay being washed away. But it didn't happen. I walked down to the Harbour around 11am and then round to the War Memorial. It is 90 years since the end of the Great War and many people believe the 2 minutes silence should be held on the 11th and not on the nearest Sunday. In common with many people Stagecoach ask their drivers to pull over at 11 and observe the two minutes silence. The photo shows a small crowd at the memorial with a bus in the background stationary. Most cars carried on moving however, but that is what cars do.

After that I had to go home and clear the gutter out. During the heavy rain yesterday I had noticed water running down the wall instead of along the gutter and down the down spout. Poor down spout must have felt neglected. A quick job, ladders out, twenty minutes clearing gutter, cup of coffee while I recover and then out some where. Not a chance. While scooping tonnes of moss out of the gutter I notice a roof tile lying on the flat roof. Maybe it was having a little rest but not in my time thank you. A quick repositioning of the ladders to get up on the flat roof (who ever invented flat roofs should be dug up and given a sound telling off, this one leaked a few years ago and cost me lots of hard earned cash to get it fixed). The tile fixing was an easy job, it wasn't from somewhere out of reach and I did happen to have a flat bit of lead to use as a tie and there was a handy bit of wood to nail a nail into to hold the tie. So two jobs done and still time to go out. While I was up on the roof I did clear the gutter on the neighbours side of the roof. Three jobs done, still time to go out.

Climbing down the ladder I noticed that serious amounts of putty was missing on one of the first floor window frames. Bugger this, I thought, I'm going out. But the ladder was in place and it is hard work to get it in and out of the shed so what the hell. I am out, even if it is only 15 feet above the back garden. I knew I had some putty somewhere, trouble was it was in the shed and was cold and hard and had dried a bit and was really hard work kneading it into the right consistency. While I was up there I had a look round to see if any more putty was about to fall out. Needless to say there was loads. So I haven't been out anywhere, my hands hurt from squeezing tonnes of putty and smell of linseed oil and tomorrow I will have to go back up and paint the new putty or it will all fall out again.

Forecast is for sun, 11C and not much wind so definitely a day out once the painting has been done. Unless I spot something else that needs doing. I shall keep my eyes shut whilst going up and down the ladder.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Bonfire Night

Bonfire Night was last Wednesday but it does tend to linger a little these days. Back in the middle of the last century when I was a small child there were bonfires on three local bomb sites. We were on the route German bombers took to get to Old Trafford, the industrial estate not the football ground and a few nervous bomb aimers had dropped the bombs a few miles short so where houses once stood we had handy play grounds and plenty of space for the bonfires every November. We all went down and lit the bonfire, let of our fireworks and went home and that was it for an other year. Then people began clamoring for a ban on fireworks as lots of people were getting hurt, mostly children. Not a complete ban, organised firework displays would be OK. Back in the fifties I could walk in a shop and buy fireworks, not a good idea really when you are ten years old, though I managed not to blow my self up. The government, over the years took a half measure, fireworks would not be sold to children but no outright ban. Now what we have is fireworks going off on Bonfire Night and then on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday closest to the 5th there are organised displays everywhere. So Bonfire Night gets spread out some what.

Last night I was watching TV when there was an almighty bang overhead. Now Ginger the cat was fast asleep in front of the TV, he woke up, gave me a nasty look if I had made the bang and went back to sleep. I looked round for Hector the other cat. Now Hector is a very nervous cat, no sorry nervous isn't even in the same street. Clap your hands anywhere near him and he won't go to sleep again for about 3 days. He was no where to be seen. I looked upstairs thinking he may have run up there, which is what he does if any seagulls land in the back garden. he's not keen on seagulls, they're bigger than him and have a sharp vicious beak. Still no sign, have I locked him in the back room? I went in and switched the light on, no where to be seen. Then I looked out the window and there he was, in the middle of the garden looking up at the rockets whooshing up in their desperate attempt to land on the moon before blowing up in a shower of coloured lights. Like he hadn't a care in the world.

Rock Walk

WORK starts on clearing and shoring up Torquay's Rock Walk next week.

The company which won the £1million six-month contract to stabilise the cliff face will be setting up site facilities and expects to start work proper on clearing vegetation and loose material off the rocks during the following week.
A substantial area of the rock face will be covered with rock-fall netting and certain areas will be fixed with rock anchors.
The seafront road will continue to remain open during the contract.


Work started here in February and was expected to take 3 to 6 weeks to complete but the cliff is more unstable than first thought. Not sure how long this part of the work will take.

Half the road is closed due to the danger of rocks falling onto the road. At least with the trees all gone there is no danger of being hit by a 10 tonne rock with a 5 tonne tree attached to it.

Friday, 7 November 2008

From the Herald Express

Bus driver attack boy facing custody

Friday, November 07, 2008, 09:46

A TORQUAY teenager who savagely beat up a bus driver has been warned he faces a custodial sentence.

The 17-year-old rained blows down on Stagecoach driver Charles Sellars, who believed he was going to die, a court was told.
The youth also assaulted two bus passengers in a drunken attack in Brixham.
Today, the bus company welcomed the stark warning saying: "Our bus drivers should be able to work free from fear of attack."
The teenager, pleaded guilty to a charge of grievous bodily harm and two counts of assault.
Magistrates, sitting in Newton Abbot, were told the nature of the crimes were so serious, the youth could spend time in youth custody.
The ferocious attack happened on the night of Saturday, July, 12.
Mr Sellars had been told by another bus driver that there could be some potential trouble with some youths and was advised to stop short of his destination, prosecutor Chris Bittlestone said.
He pulled his bus over by the junction of Linthorpe Way.
Mr Bittlestone said the youth, who was 'well in drink' stood in the doorway of Mr Sellar's bus and asked for a lift to Paignton.
He said: "He told him he could not do it because his bus was not in service."
The youth became aggressive, he said, adding: "As Mr Sellars steps on to the bus platform, he is punched to his left eye socket by the youth with his clenched fist.
"He went to the floor in a heap. The youth continues to hit him. He doesn't know if he is kicking or punching him.
"He thinks he is in danger of being killed and blacks out for a while before coming to his senses."
Mr Bittlestone said, in a further melee, the youth continued to attack Mr Sellars and when a woman passenger intervened she was punched in the chest.
As a result of the attack, the bus driver sustained bruising and a fractured jaw.
He was signed off work sick and experiences bouts of dizziness and unsteadiness, the court heard.
Magistrates were also told, in an earlier incident, the youth had hit a passenger on another bus.
Mr Bittlestone said: "The youth can't remember the exact sequence of events because of what he had drunk."
Mitigating, Paul Dentith, said the 'exceptional' case could be placed within the category of a custodial sentence but asked magistrates to adjourn for reports to be prepared by the Youth Offending Team ahead of sentencing.
The teenager was told to stay out of trouble before being released on unconditional bail to return to court on November 26.
After the case, Stagecoach's Torbay operations manager Christina Ratcliffe said: "This was a totally unprovoked attack on an employee of ours who has since been unable to get back behind the wheel of a bus.
"We are pleased the court is taking this seriously and we hope justice is meted out.
"Our drivers have the right to work in an environment that is free from abuse.
"Thankfully, incidents like these are isolated and we are working closely with police and local councils to made sure we find a permanent solution to anti-social behaviour."
End of item.

I have known Andy Sellers since I started work at Torquay 10 years ago, though I never knew his name was Charles. He was always cheerful, helpful, enjoyed his work and got on well with drivers and passengers alike. It was always a pleasure to see to him and any conversation with him was always enjoyable if at times a little erratic. For some one to attack him like this and then use the "I was drunk." excuse is despicable. Let's hope the court deals with this 17 year old in a suitable manner.

Many years ago when driving a taxi in Manchester I was punched once it the face. Nothing like the vicious attack Andy suffered, I didn't even need medical attention unlike Andy but it still took along time before the memory of the attack to fade to the point that I no longer thought about it every time I picked a passenger up. This is the long term effect of such an incident and can last even when the physical damage has repaired.

I can only wish him well and hope this incident won't drive him away from the job he so much enjoys.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

A Day Out In Brixham

This afternoon, as it wasn't raining or blowing cold artic wind down from Siberia I decided to go to Brixham. As good as some places, better than others and only 40 minutes away. Also I wanted to get a photo of the award winning poster displayed in one of Stagecoach's bus shelters on Bank Lane. It's on the 24/25 bus stop outside Ladbrokes and a photo of it now adorns the top of this blog.

Brixham Harbour is protected by a long breakwater, over a 1000 ft or 305 metres and I have never been along it. Deciding I had need of a little exercise I walked all the way to the end. Some good views of Brixham, one of which is shown here. Others will be in my photo album including a few I took this evening in Torquay. One of the photos shows William of Orange who invaded England on November 5 1688 (OK Parliament invited him though King James the Second wasn't exactly happy about it). Every time I have been to Brixham I have noticed that in common with all statues every where there was a bird perched on his head. In this case a seagull. It's typical that you become famous for some deed of daring and bravery and you then stand in a town square some where with a bird crapping on you head for the rest of eternity.

Click here for some more photos.

On the buses I noticed that some of the buses on the 32 service are double deckers. These are for the duties that service schools as there had been a problem with children being left behind at bus stops. Having driven a double decker round the 32 route in the past I know how tight it can get in places and how close you get to one or two trees in the Chelston area. Good luck out there boys and girls. Remember there is no need to rush.

An other little story I heard was about a strike by bus drivers in Inverness. What happens when there is a situation like this is the company ship in drivers from other areas to try and break the strike. They don’t ask actual drivers to do this, they get people at management level or those on their way to achieving management level to do the dirty work. Now we had a strike in Devon a few years ago and people were bussed in from round the country to try and break the strike. I am not sure what this must cost putting all these scabs up in hotels for the duration but keep the service running at all cost seems to be the idea. Now here is a question. The Ted Heath government sometime in the last century was brought to it’s knees by a strike by coal miners. They picketed the largest coke store in the country so there was nothing for the power stations to burn and the country went on a three day week to save fuel. Power cuts happened at anytime of the day and night, candles went from a penny each to 6 pence each over night. In the end the Government fell and Labour got in. In the fullness of time Labour lost a general election and Maggie Thatcher came to POWER. Now it hadn’t just been coal miners picketing the coke store. Miners came from all over the country and other workers showed their solidarity by joining the pickets. Flying Pickets they were called. Maggie, when she came to POWER, outlawed this movement of workers from one area to another and from other industries thus reducing the power of the Unions.

So how come employers can still move workers around the country to break strikes but Unions can’t move pickets around the country to help fellow workers in their struggle to obtain a decent wage? Seems a bit one sided to me.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Bus Catches Fire.

A bus in Germany caught fire on a Motorway last night and up to 20 people are believed to have died. Even though buses are made of metal they also contain much flammable material and with only one effective exit a fire on a crowded bus can, as in this case be catastrophic. The bus was travelling along the motorway when the fire started. It is not known yet how the fire started.

Click here for the full story from the BBC

Now the Hard Work Begins

Some of the winners in the American Presidential election.

Lots of TV

Been a mostly uneventful week mostly because it has been so cold but also the hole in my gum that a big tooth used to sit in is still a little tender. So I haven't been out much. Still there has been lots of coverage of the US election to fill the time in. As I type millions of Americans are waiting in line to vote and millions more will have already voted in what has been the most interesting Presidential election since John Kennedy beat Richard Nixon in 1960. Then one of the issues was John Kennedy's religion, now, though it didn't seen as important this time one of the issues has been Barak Obama's colour. Either way this has been the most gripping Presidential election I can remember. The first one was way back in 1952 when Dwight D Eisenhower was elected. Mind you the only thing I can remember about that one was a campaign slogan, "I like Ike." But I was only 8 at the time. Kennedy attracted attention because he was a catholic which raised questions like would he be President under God or under the Pope.

I remember Lyndon Johnson not for his election but for his speech stating he would not run for President. The Vietnam War had been escalated during his term in office and that was his way out. The next election that caught my eye was Bill Clinton, mainly for the scandals involving certain ladies that turned up even before he was elected and his wife Hilary standing by her man, she really did want to be First Lady. George W Bush was the next election that claimed any interest mainly for the cock up that occurred after the voting was over. And through most of his reign as President. Voting used to be by putting a cross on a piece of paper, not completely fool proof but now with several different ways to vote it is easier for malpractice to creep in. Going to war used to be a carefully thought out decision with advice taken and every posible alternative explored, not, "I don't like the bastard, lets invade" Ignoring a hurricane wasn't something a President should do either.

Anyway, in a few hours we will know. Do we have a black man as President? An idea that would have seemed impossible back in the time a catholic was elected. And considering how important the President of the United States of America is to the world why haven't we all got a vote?

The other main TV programs I have been watching this last few days have been to do with the First World War which ended 90 years ago next Tuesday. The BBC have run a series of program in which people have traced relatives who took part in that war. I have to admit I am unsure if I have any relatives how were involve. They would have been my grand fathers or their brothers but my parents nor my aunts or uncles ever mentioned if their parents or uncles were involved. After watching the programs I can begin to understand why people may have been reluctant to mention the subject. I have always know the War was a gruesome, bloody waste of lives, masses of mistakes made by Generals who compounded those mistakes by continuing to make them but watching the programs I began to see how hard it would be for someone who had lost a close relative to talk about, and therefore remember again the sorrow and the pain. One person who did follow the trail back to his great grand father was a historian John Snow who presents historical programs for the BBC. It turned out he knew nothing about his ancestor except that he was a general in the War. By the end of the program he had found out that his great grandfather did not fall in the category of competent general. Indeed while one battle was raging which he had helped to plan he was in England and had no idea of what was going on. The effect on John Snow was upsetting to say the least.

Then this evening Michael Palin ( not related to the possible, though unlikely, Vice President elect) presented a program called "The Last Day of the War." Very disturbing account of what should have been a day to sit back and thank God or chance or what ever else you believe in that you had made it through the madness but even though it was know the Armistices had been signed, at 5 am, soldiers were still ordered to attack the Germans. It appeared some American generals were most enthusiastic to continue the war to the last dying seconds. One even attacked a town so his soldiers could use the municipal bathing facilities. Those that survived would at least be clean. Over 2500 people died on that day. Imagine being back home and hearing the news that the war was over and the relief that would bring and then a few days later being told your husband or father had been killed.
Well some time in the next few hours Barack Obarma will be declared president Elect. After the longest, most expensive, most publicized election in the history of the world first will come the elation. Then, possibly the sinking feeling and the thought, “What if I screw up?” will wing it’s way in to his brain.

Don’t screw up, please, I didn’t vote for you but I would have done if I could.

Later: As expected Barack won by 338 points to 159.