As eagle eyed readers of this blog may have noticed, for the last 11 days (until last night), all blogs were forward posted before I went on holiday. So what has been happening since I left? Perhaps the most hilarious story is this
Our local MP details how he "participated" in a drugs bust in Belize. I discussed this with a mate who's ex Royal Marines. He explained how MP's and other dignitaries often "participated" in all sorts of operations. They are given basic training and safety information. They are then carted a long to get a feel for how operations are conducted, with a couple of minders to try and ensure they are kept out of harms way, whilst getting a flavour of what happens. His view is that such operations serve to ensure that MP's appreciate the effort and professionalism of the services. I worry that this point may have been wasted on Mr Offord. Reading the article, it appears that Mr Offord is bigging up his role as an active participant. The whole point is that the Royal Marine training course is probably one of the toughest gigs in the world. The idea that an MP could do a basic training course and participate in any sort of active way is absurd. Whilst I think it is great that Matthew Offord MP actually got out and saw the Marines in action, please spare us the idea that he was anything more than a passenger. I hope Mr Offord learned something and the people of Hendon get some benefit.
Another rather strange story is the odd story of the "missing BAPS banner" :-
The Barnet Alliance for Public Services hoped to have a stall at the East Barnet fair. They brought down their banner and were in the process of setting up when it appears that the Reverend Adrian Benjamin, assisted by Councillor Brian Coleman arrived, confiscated the banner and then proceeded to lose it. Adrian Benjamin is the type of person who tends to put people of organised religion and christianity (in my humble opinion). I must put my cards on the table. I'm a member of the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic church in Mill Hill and a member of its pastoral council. We try our best to play a socially responsible role locally. We try and build a sense of community. We support good neighbour schemes, which provide support for elderly people, provide youth activities for young people, provide a base for all sorts of community groups, we raise funds for various projects to improve third world communities. Most of us happily do all of this for free, because we want to make our community a better place to live. Then someone comes like Adrian Benjamin comes along, acts in a totally high handed, pompous fashion, with no regard for other peoples feelings, views or property and alienates a whole section of the community. I can't and don't want to defend Benjamin. All I can say is that I think he's an embarrassment for the rest of us and idiots like him can undo in tem minutes, the work of dozens of people throughout the year. In my opinion a priest should display humility, wisdom and kindness. As Mr Benjamin displays none of the these, he is a priest only by title. The Church of England does not need such TITular heads in their organisation. It is totally disgraceful and I feel a deep sense of shame for his stupidity.
Another rather odd story featuring our beloved Brian Coleman is the tale of how a local greenwalk has been ruined :-
It seems that local ramblers are up in arms that this walk has been tranformed into a cycleway. Personally I'm just grateful, given Colemans record, that it hasn't become a three lane highway with a carpark.
Perhaps of interest to many readers of this blog is this article in the Guardian, which exposes the fact that most of the new Free schools are in nice middle class areas, which generally already have decent education.
Given my associations with Sweden & many friends from the country, I know a fair bit about the Free School movement there, where the idea originated. The main impetus was to allow local people in far flung communities to have local schools, rather than for children to have to travel for hours a day to get to the nearest big state school. It is interesting to see how the free school sector has morphed in Sweden. The are now cases of free schools bringing in English style discipline, as many Swedish parents feel that there is none in the state sector. When I arrived in Stockholm in 1981, aged 18, I was shocked at the level of sophistication of many of my Swedish friends. They simply didn't believe that the UK then had corporal punishment in schools. They were amazed at the concept that children could be beaten. I found the facilities at the local Swedish schools (we played a gig at Tumba Gymnasium in Stockhom and got a tour of the facilities) to be light years ahead of the UK. I suspect that we only just started to catch up under the last Labour government.
As Mill Hill Jewish Free school (AKA Etz Chaim) will open its doors shortly, I for one will be fascinated to see how this experiment progresses. It is sad that a plan to open a school has caused such division in the community. I don't personally support the Free School concept and hope that the next Labour government abolishes the concept, bringing the sector back under local authority control. During the battle for EtzChaim, I declined to give my views on the general principles of the Free School movement, as I had sympathies with the parents trying to do the best for their children, but now the dust has settled, it is clear that the politicisation caused by the Free School movement is not a good thing and that the polarisation of communities, cause is also not good for social cohesion. Having said all that, I hope Etz Chaim is a success and that when we get a sensible government, they re-establish local authority control over education, with Etz Chaim being part of Barnet Education services.
Blog of the week? This prediction from Barnet's very own Mystic Meg - Mr Mustard
He predicts Barnet's roads will crumble this winter. I discussed this prediction with my very own road construction expert, fast Eddie. He assures me that it all depends on how cold it is. Potholes are caused by Freeze/thaw activity. A mild winter and we'll be OK. Strangely he reckons that exceptionally cold winters are also not as bad, it is ones where there is a heavy frost at night and a daytime thaw. Eddie has worked on Londons roads since the second world war ended. His verdict "Barnet have wasted a fortune on sub standard repairs and unless we get a really mild one, most of them will fall apart".
Now if you know of any roads which have problems or need resurfacing, just get in touch with the Leader of Barnet Council. He'll ensure it is done immediately :-
Sadly this link for the Finchley Conservatives new campaigns is out of date. It is at least two years old as Mike Freer hasn't been a councillor for over a year or leader for over 18 months. Sadly since his blod words in this, the roads fell apart last winter :-
Your Road Has Been Resurfaced
Barnet has resurfaced more roads than the length of the M25.....
Your road is one of the latest to be resurfaced and we are now addressing problems with our pavements. We pledged to resurface the Borough's many damaged roads. As your Conservative Councillors we are responding to your priorities and delivering on our promises.
If you know a road in need of resurfacing, please contact Cllr Mike Freer 8359 2059 or email firstname.lastname@example.org If you want to help support Mike in his campaign, please email him at Fingold@btinternet.com
I back Mystic Mustard over Mystic Mike any day !!!!!
Finally, my favourite story of the week :-
http://www.edgware-today.co.uk/News.cfm?id=31662&headline=Hapless drug dealer shot his own leg with concealed gun
Whilst I don't normally like to snigger at other people's misfortune, I'll make an exception in this case.