Personal favourites of 2013

    “debating” Tories;
    celebrating science on the awards of freemen of the city;
    talking green technology and the “curve index” at Planning Cttee.;
    blankets of daisies at Colwick Park;
    making a snow frog;
    the busier community events;
    the carnival parade;
    flyovers by the Red Arrows, announcing Armed Forces Day in June and the Ashes in July;
    writing a guide to buses for Henry Blofeld;
    Sue’s personal record half-marathon time;
    sharing a car with Lord Mayor’s Consort on the “Magic Mouse”;
    realising Meadows in Bloom had come joint second at the national awards in Cleethorpes;
    Julianna Oprea’s first exhibition;
    the large sculptures at Chatsworth House;
    Coventry city centre;
    John Otway’s movie premiere;
    radical histreh and the re-dedication of the commemoration of the Notts volunteers for the International Brigades;
    talking to the Charlie Peace production about Narrowmarsh;
    “Wipers Times”, “The Challenger”, “Bluestone 42”, “The Mimic”;
    Peter Hook & the Light playing “Ceremony” at Splendour 2013;
    Joe Jacobson’s screamer against Sheff U.;
    Ruby Doh’s wit hitting back at critics – “@raymond_blanc ‘- i don’t care if you’re a patisserie king – don’t be an idiot.”

Bridge ward monthly report 27

December has been chock full of events, and news, and surprisingly an announcement by the Police that The Meadows Police Station’s counter will be closed until the end of March.
Otherwise, awards and recognition for a number of community activists and groups in The Meadows.
There’s a very full write-up at

Review of 2013 from a ward and city perspective

2013 – Review of the year.
Plenty of reviews elsewhere to cover global and national events.
This covers events and achievements from a Bridge ward perspective.

A year when we realised how important events are when there’s not much spare cash around.
Locally, big events included – Armed Forces Day, The Ashes at Trent Bridge, Carnival;
Community events – Arkwright Meadows Community Gardens events (including the Village Fair with an over-pumped Police tug of war team); the Santa’s grottos were heavily attended; “Dragon’s Den” showed enthusiasm.
Community successes – Meadows in Bloom winning joint 2nd for urban neighbourhoods nationally; 5 activists and 2 groups winning recognition;
Nice to see some small-scale installations – a willow tunnel and a lamppost at Queens Walk Recreation Ground; the golden lamppost at AMCG in honour of the formerly Meadows-based canoeists who won Olympic Gold; the return of glass bus shelters along Robin Hood Way; cleaning up the Memorial Gardens and new control for the water fountains.
Some frustration elsewhere – new lighting fitted for Bridgeway Shopping Centre, but it needs more; Portland Leisure Centre sill not transferred.
Big scale works saw the station get new track layout and signalling systems, enabling better reliability and faster journeys, including London; the station was shut for six weeks and hot water heating systems and tram works also caused traffic problems, including the loss of bus services to the east Meadows for 3 months.
Crime down in The Meadows, but up elsewhere in the city and there was a spate of problems in the Autumn.
Unemployment down, but quality of work available diminished and reflected in the increase of case work for Meadows Advice Group (30% last year and may well be 30% this).
Benefits cut, job entry schemes judged to be worse than nothing and council tax for all under pension age; and the loss of Housing Benefit cos of spare rooms (“the bedroom tax”).

A lot is wrong at the national level and I’ve published a critique elsewhere –

Gravitas was sought, with the deaths of Mandela and Thatcher. Along with the inevitable “they will be missed” comments that only really applies to those we lose before their time is done. Coverage showed one universally applauded for bringing people together and the other universally recognised for dividing people; controversy with aspects of the commemorations – cost with one, timing with the other. But the real tests were – where did you stand at the time? and what can be learn to apply to the future; Making people dependent on benefits is not one of them.

There are some exceptions to the staleness. Science (and science programmes) does stand out and this year we celebrated 2 Nottingham based scientists who drove the development of Ibuprofen and body scanning.

Some vim is being shown in Nottingham.
Whilst there were no elections involving Bridge ward this year, Labour did win all 4 Nottingham City by-elections elsewhere, including Conservative Wollaton West; Labour won the second seat in neighbouring West Bridgford Central and South by just 9 votes, thus allowing Labour to take majority control of Nottinghamshire County Council.

My attempt to share news through a web-site on top of monthly e-mails merely succeeded in getting more people to find out about the wide-mouthed from joke.

Personal favourites of 2013 –



OK, the Nottingham Tories are meant to oppose, but the frustration with their line on the response to the Ofsted inspection of 7 secondary schools in Nottingham, and with comments from N Post bloggers, is –
a. they overlook the loss of control the council has; powers and budget have been taken away;
b. their comments don’t draw enough on some of the things said in the inspections by Ofsted, including problems from using untrained teachers;
c. the inspection regime may be blind to the impact of socio-economic circumstances on children; judgment without understanding leads to 3 things – 1. despair and depression for being judged for factors outside of your control; 2. staff going to places where they stand a better chance of being recognised for the contribution they make; 3. a reversal of policy when those in power finally realise what the real world is like.

Fuller notes on the new Nottingham Challenge Board are available – and previous blog entry by me can be found at

Politics is languishing in a stale funk

Politics is languishing in a stale funk; a bit like a soap [opera] in its 86th year, one that run out of ideas and is stuck with a cast list that everyone’s sick of.” – Charlie Brooker, TV pundit, “Charlie Brooker’s 2013 Wipe”.
And the first problem with that statement is – just what exactly these days is fresh?
Newsnight? Radio 5? Comedy panel shows? Dr. Who? Business? X-factor? Reality shows? Soap operas even (which by the way have been around for just over 50 years in the UK).
If national politics is stale, maybe it’s the predominant analysis and its error.

    Tolerate high unemployment, allow profits to leave the country and businesses to employ people from abroad via agencies at below national minimum national wage;
    a property boom in the south-east fuelled by foreign capital;
    people going hungry;
    13 million Britons paying for Christmas on credit;
    an austerity programme that has simply built up the debt and suppressed economic growth so that it’s only back to where it was four years ago;
    now the Conservatives say we should try to get by without the spending on public services they once backed and numerous green aims have been dropped, whilst the Gov’t focus instead on shooting badgers (who’d “moved the goalposts”) and on attending Boxing Day hunts whilst thousands of people were without power;
    an inability to do what the public now say they want – and take back the energy and water from private companies; instead
    the Royal Mail was sold off for billions less than the market value and the company that advised on the price to sell it at made a big profit on the side;
    angst over £42 billion to connect the Midlands and the North to the European high speed rail network, yet hardly a whimper over a £70 billion bill to clean up Selllafield in Cumbria.

So whilst Charlie Brooker’s comment seems very knowing, it’s back to the “I know better than you all and I stand to one side whilst I do it” cynicism that feeds the problem.
With some much that’s wrong with the current direction, could this pundit not find mote and think about taking sides?

Value politics

“I think there is an existential problem coming …” Go Chloe, the Tory MP who’s decided to speak out on the dangers of Britain’s traditional democracy losing its appeal to the British people.
The Guardian/ICM have run a poll analysing the disconnect between British people and their democracy.
Maybe it’s because words like “existential” and “disconnect” are used? 20131227-103046.jpg
Always with opinion polls about politicians and politics, you need to watch out for what is not asked, and what is not said.
To paraphrase George Formby – with articles like these, with quotes like those, why should people value politics?
Gotta give more than this if you’re worried. Disillusion without an alternative helps build up the disillusion – just read the comments from the web-site readers and listen to Jeremy Paxman – speaking for the people without getting a mandate.

I actually think the poll itself isn’t right. If so many people do think politics can affect they lives, the turnout would be higher. it as if people are answering to prompts rather than saying what really drives them to act.

Unaccountable power, poverty and not caring are the biggest threats to our democracy.
Graphics from the Guardian.

George W’s role in my flat art

20131227-004459.jpg 20131227-004512.jpg 20131227-004556.jpg
Found out from Channel 4 tv’s Quiz of the Year that George W Bush has taken up art.
If I’d have known, maybe I wouldn’t gone on a course this year.
My rationale – clip-art for the web-site and a christmas card.
But CNN’s article compendium of criticisms of the former President’s art looked uncomfortably close to the bone for me, save I’ve not been doing cats and dogs.
“His paintings suffer from extreme localization of color .”
“Regardless, it’s more illustration-like than art.”
The course made me realise how you need to look, and learn to control colour and the brush. A bit banal stated like that – the critics say it better – but with a course comes the recognition of the time needed to learn the skills and to apply them.