Saturday, 29 November 2008
"It's dead easy really, all you have to do is walk around Torquay."
"That's it, just walk around Torquay?"
"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
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.
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
“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.
“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
Sunday, 9 November 2008
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.
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
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
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.
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
Click here for the full story from the BBC
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.