Wednesday 29 February 2012

Guest Blog - First Capital Connect Update - from Ivor the Engine

23 trains cancelled.

At 17:15 It was reported that the driver of 1E03 (15:56 Bedford - Sevenoaks) had fallen onto the track at Blackfriars Station whilst cleaning his windscreen. The driver required medical treatment and a relief driver was sent to Blackfriars to take the stock ECS to Orpington. 5E03 was on the move at 18:05 which allowed train movements to resume south of City Thameslink.
 Ivor the Engine is in regular contact with the Barnet Eye regarding First Capital Connect and it's marvellous service. Follow him on Facebook here for the truth behind the announcements -

Guest Blog - Have gun, will travel by Lew Knee

By Lew Knee,

Gun control. What right have the government got to tell me whether I can or cannot keep a semi automatic rifle under my bed? What right have the government got to tell me that I shouldn't be able to walk around with a concealed handgun on my person? What right have the government got to tell me I shouldn't be able to shoot an intruder who enters my house without permission? I have no history of mental illness and no criminal record after 49 years living on the planet, so who are the government to tell me that I cannot walk around dressed to kill? What is freedom if you cannot walk into a High Street Store and buy a semi automatic weapon, especially if you are a truly fine citizen of the state? Freedom is all about taking personal responsibility. Guns don't kill people, people kill people. We don't have people control legislation, so why do we need gun control legislation. God Bless America and Burnt Oak.
I guess this opening paragraph is not quite what Barnet Eye readers were expecting to read. Nope, it's not really a guest blog at all. I was reading some American blogs earlier this evening and I thought I'd give my fellow Barnetonians a taste of what our cousins across the pond seem to think are sensible rational points to raise in blogs.The views stated above are not extremist in the USA. The right to bear arms is part of the constitution and to even start to question it is viewed as a virtual act of heresy.

So does the Barnet Eye think that the citizens of Burnt Oak should be walking the streets of the Watling with an Uzi? Does the Barnet Eye think that Colindale would be better with a Kalashnikov? Strangely enough, nope. Oddly enough, this blog would like to see unlicensed possession of a firearm punished with a minimum mandatory sentence of five years. The same for possession of a knife. Pro gun campaigners in the USA make a myriad of claims, seeking to justify the lax gun laws, but at the end of the day, look at the statistics for gun related crime in the USA.

However, I'm not really interested in gun control arguments. In the UK there is pretty much a consensus on this. I've never met anyone who has seriously argued for lax gun control. Ever. What I am interested in is the fact that Conservative politicians in the UK regularly take their lead from US conservatives. Where has this lead us? To the current ridiculous situation with Andrew Lansley's "reforms" of the NHS. I've just watched Mr Lansley on News at Ten "arguing his case". Sadly he hasn't really got one. As I understand it, his sole justification for all of the changes he's promoting is "Trust me, I'm a Tory". There are three possible reasons for making changes to anything,

1. You'll get better services for the same or less money.

2. You'll help more people for the same or less money.

3. You will stop a system which is failing from falling apart.

It really is as simple as that. Has Mr Lansley proven beyond doubt that his changes will do any of the above? I believe that US right wing politicians hate and despise the NHS. Why? Because it works and because anyone who understands the way it works can see that their arguments for a private system are the modern day equivalent of snake oil salesmen. I was in the USA in the run up to Obama's election. Conservative politicians were on the TV every day denouncing the NHS. Some claimed that the UK was a communist state because it had a system of social medicine. I have many friends and family in the US. Those familiar with the UK, know our healthcare system delivers more for the money. It may not be perfect, but you get treated if you need it. The US system does not have that guarantee.

The hard right of the Tory party are in awe of uber rightists who would soundly agree with every word in the opening paragraph. These are the people who the likes of Lansley look to for political inspiration.

Without the NHS, I would have died at birth, my mother would have died aged 45 in 1970 of cancer, rather than aged 83, my nephew would have died of meningitis aged 8, my auntie would not have just had her cataracts done. Lansleys changes will put health care professionals out of work and  create jobs for accountants and lawyers. In an open market, everything is subject to contract and invoice. You wouldn't want a bunch of bonkers right wing looneys writing our gun control legislation, so why on earth would you want them destroying the NHS?

The Trouble with Paul

One of the things we like to do at this blog, is highlight other people in the area writing interesting blogs. I'm pleased to see that an old friend of mine, Paul David Hogan has started writing a new blog, dedicated to his poetry. Paul is a good friend of mine and I thoroughly recommend it. Here is the latest example of his work - You can check more out at  - - and in this entry, he pretty much sums up how I feel about life. What is interesting is that in times of cuts and hardship, creativity blossoms. Barnet is seeing a boom of people doing great things in the arts. Another thing worth checking out is the website for Charles Hondericks film A Tale of Two Barnets


I don’t know for certain, what our origins are.
Of course I know, without a shadow of doubt,
that man builds houses
and invented the motor car
and is responsible for amazing advancements,
in the field of science.

But I look into the sky at night
and can be certain beyond sure,
no man past or present,
had anything to do with that.
He didn’t carve out the mountains with his JCB.
Nor did he fill up the seas, by turning on a tap.

One man will argue for the existence of God
and another will stand against him.
Whilst I believe in something more powerful than man,
I’m safe in my acceptance
that certain things are mysteries,
for which I loosely use the word, ‘God’.

For me, the unbending atheist and the religious nut,
are the dogs chasing tails.
God may not be a man with a big white beard.
Nor is he the bespectacled boffin in a lab.
I don’t need all the answers.
Because with all the answers, I’d have no imagination.

© Paul David Hogan 2012

Tuesday 28 February 2012

London Jewish Girls High School issues legal challenge to Barnet Council

Today I received this email :-

Dear Roger
I was told to write to you about a major situation which is coming to a head this evening at the cabinet resources committee at the Hendon town hall at 7pm.
hundreds of local people are going to be there to protest the council selling off the former Hendon fc ground to an individual against a higher bid put in by a local Barnet school.
see attached letter sent by our solicitors earlier today to the council
David Hersh
Chairman LJGH School
It contained this document
I have to confess that I know nothing of th LJGH School or their proposal and little about the Montclare Ltd Proposal. The Hendon Times published this report about the site last year :-
Personally I deplore anything which removes a well established football ground and sports facility from the London Borough of Barnet. I would not support the proposal for flats or a school on this particular site. I do however agree with the point that it is strange that it is not being sold to the highest bidder, given the council doesn't care about retaining a football club on the site. I would welcome more information regarding this issue

Vanessa Feltz - Ignorant, uncarings and talking crap

This morning, I cannot contain my anger. I was woken up with a nice cup of tea and a copy of the Daily Express. I like to wake myself up by reading the football pages. I then flicked through the rest of the paper. I daresay one or two of you will be surprised at my choice of morning paper. Well unlike many people, I enjoy reading things which I don't agree with. It makes me think about things. It also means that when I'm in the pub and someone starts spouting nonsense (or writing it in a right wing blog such as the Barnet Bugle) I have my thought process sorted out.Given that I won't have the Sun (for reasons too many to list here) or the Mail (my father wouldn't tolerate a paper which courted the fascists in the house and that's good enough for me) in the house, that leaves the Express.

This morning, sifting through the usual waffle and immigrant bashing, I came across the Vanessa Feltz column. She talks about the current scheme of government sponsored slave labour (work for nothing or we'll stop your benefits) - - She says
Everyone knows it’s well nigh impossible to land a job without experience. So the Government’s current batch of work-experience schemes, in which recipients of Job Seekers’ Allowance are given the chance to work for reputable companies such as Tesco and TK Max for a couple of months seems like a perfect solution.

The jobless are propelled off the sofa and into the workplace. The uninitiated learn how to stack shelves, sweep yards, fry chips, greet customers, show up on time and conduct themselves professionally.
Later on she talks about working for two years at the BBC for nothing and says
These days I present the Radio 2 early Breakfast Show too. That’s four and half hours of live radio every week day. If I hadn’t got stuck in for free I’d never have stood a chance. 
As I'm sure you can guess, there are many things I take issue with Ms Feltz about. First though, lets consider why unemployment is spiralling out of control and young people are finding it hard to become employed. This is nothing to do with lazyness, it is because the current government has taken a political decision to impose a period of austerity on the nation. Now whether you think this is right or wrong (a debate for another day), the effect is that young people cannot get a job.It is not the fault of the victims of this policy, so please don't portray them as lazy or workshy.

And then there is the effect of this slave labour. Presumably if Tesco's are taking people for free to do unskilled work, then that means that for every person working for free, one paid job has been destroyed. Only an economic imbecile (George Osborne?) would take such jobs out of the economy at a time of economic crisis. What work ethic does slave labour instill in people? "If you go to work, you don't get anything"? What sort of a message is that?

Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for unpaid work. I volunteer for a homeless charity once a week. It actually costs me money, because I have to travel to Victoria at 6.30am every Thursday. I also write this blog for nothing. It may surprise you to learn that I've been offered several highly paid jobs as a result of people reading this. People seem to think I've some talent for PR. I've declined, because all of them have been promoting things which I think are reprehensible. What is quite bizarre is the response of people when I tell them I'm not in the slightest bit interested, however much they want to pay me.

I read the likes of Vanessa Feltz comments and I feel sick. I doubt anyone has a stronger work ethic than me. I first started doing paid work aged 4 1/2. I was in a commercial for Tizer in 1966. Other commercials followed, Heinz baked beans, Galaxy Chocolate, Cadburys chocolate to name but a few. I also did countless fashion shoots. My career stopped aged 8 when my mother developed cancer and could no longer take me. At age 16, I had enough money in my bank account to start my studio business (albiet in a small way). And the other jobs I did before I was 16. Washed cars at my fathers garage, delivered papers, worked as a saturday boy at the butchers. Perhaps the most audacious of the lot was when I was 15 and I bunked off school for three weeks before Xmas and worked at the Medical research in Mill Hill. I wanted the money to pay for a guitar. That was when I found out what it is like to work for free. When my scam came to light, the agency refused to pay me, claiming it was "illegal to pay a 15 year old". I've always believed in standing up for my rights and eventually got paid. Sadly I suspect that it was more to do with being large and aggressive than anything else.

So sure, yes I can lecture anyone on the "merits of hard work". Ever since I've worked I've done 2,3 or even 4 jobs at the same time.(if you call blogging a job). I run three successful businesses (all built from nothing by me and the people who work for me), I employ nine people. I go on expensive holidays and I pay myself dividends. So yes, in some ways I'm a rich capitalist bastard. But do I think it is all because I'm a genius or better than anyone else? Far from it. I realise that all of it is an accident of birth. I had parents who helped and supported me. Realising I had learning difficulties and would probably never go to University, they encouraged me to do my own thing. My father made a workshop in his garage available to me for music. I did the work to bring it up to spec and paid a rent, but he suggested it. You see, what Vanessa Feltz fails to realise is that  the kind of kids who are forced to stack shelves at Tescos, don't get offered internships at the BBC. They get exploited and then cast away.

I've spent the last five months helping a young filmmaker, Charles Honderick make a film. It's called "A Tale of Two Barnets". It is full of stories of people who have been failed by society. Can I let you in on a secret. The film has cost me personally a fortune to make. If I ever make a penny back it will be a miracle. I hope to God that Charles gets a foot on the ladder as a result of it. He's sweated blood making it. He's eaten us out of house and home when we've been working on edits. Why? Because he's skint and I've got a well stocked fridge. But he's doing it because it is something he loves and he knows that if you want to succeed in the creative world, this is called paying your dues.  This is totally different to stacking the shelves in Tescos. This is why I think Vanessa Feltz is talking crap.

Monday 27 February 2012

Guest Blog - The Barnet Oscars (pronounced Barney Toss-cars) - By Barnet Council Insider

By Barnet Council Insider,
Last week, Barnet Council had its 'inaugural' People Values Awards Ceremony to recognise the achievements of  20 staff across the council. I wondered how many of the same staff would actually still be Barnet Council employees this time next year, when the next ceremony supposedly comes around. A few of them in the photograph on the intranet looked like they already knew the answer.
As it's the time of Awards and Oscars, I wondered if the bloggers had any nominations of their own (daft question I know), and whether they would combine a bloggers awards ceremony with the premiere of 'A Tale of Two Barnets' at the Phoenix Cinema in March?
My television was on the blink last night, so instead, I started making a few suggestions here below.
Best Film/contract nominations
      'Great Expectations'...................... screenplay by Watt (The) Dickens, starring Jean 'Capita' Simmonds,
                                                            produced by 'The  Biggest Aspirational Benefits' Company
                                                            (whose other credits include 'Space Odyssey',
                                                            'Reach for the Sky', 'A Bridge too Far'  and 'Field of Dreams'
      'Dial M for Murder (of Liverpool City Public Finances)' …...........  BT productions
      'Saving Privatising Ryan'.............The Bidding Brothers Inc. 
      'Brief Encounter'  …..................The wRank Organisations (nomination now withdrawn/with OFT)
      'Apocalypse Now'.................... special effects provided by the
                                                               'We're not touching The Huge Reserves' Company                                                                                                                          
     'The Day After Tomorrow' …....produced by
                                                                'Now we have to touch The Huge Reserves' Company
     'Brewsters Millions' ….............. produced by United Consultant  Artists
      'Passchendaele'.........................produced by Warnout Brothers
     'The Pursuit of Happyness'.........produced by BAPS
     'Gone With The Wind' ..............directed by Barnet Council 
  Best international film/contract nominations
    'Abu Dhabi Doo' …........................ Directed by Fred 'Bam Bam Thank you Mam' Flintstone,
                                                                                                                             NSL productions
   ' Ice Cold in Croydon'......................NSL productions
   Best film/contract in a foreign language nominations
   'Bangalore or Bust'..........................  BT productions
   'The Interpreter'............................... BT productions
    Best Script writing nomination
      The Huge Reserves Company.............. for 'Terms of  non-Endearment',
                                                     'The leaked Minority Report', 
                                                     'The leaked Pelican Brief'
                                                     'No Sense and No Sensibility',  
                                                     'It's transparently Complicated',
                                                     'The Silencing of the Union Lambs', 
                                                     'The Evaluation Da Vinci Code'
 Best Adaptation of a Shakespeare play nominations
     'I, Cornelius' Richard Cornelius
     'A Mid Summers Night CSO Dream' …........ co-starring warren Beatty and richard 'EC' Harris 
    Best actor nominations
      Eric 'Superman'
      Mr. Poirot in 'Murder on the Metpro Express'
                                                          as James Bond in 'FOIs Only'
                                                          as Robert Langdon in 'The Da Vinci Code'
     'Bunker' Bill Murphy...................... in  'Groundhog day'  and 'Iron Man'
     Mr. Reasonable............................. in 'To Sirs With Love' and 'The Belles of St.Trinians'
  Best Supporting Actor nominations 
      Bill 'Murray' Murphy.................................. in  'CSO Busters'
      Richard 'EC' Harris and Conway 'The Misfits' and 'The Odd Couple'
                                                                       (Conway Twitty nomination now withdrawn)
  Best Actress/Supportng Actress nominations
      Joan Crawford and Jean 'Capita' Simmonds......… 'Mommie DRS'
      Mrs.Angry …....................................................... as 'Erin Brockovich' Clarice Starling in
                                                                                  'The Silencing of the Union Lambs' 
                                                                                  (written by The Huge Reserves Company)
 Best Original Film Song
     'Man or a Muppet' too many involved in this - still shortlisting
 Honorary Academy Award
    The Barnet Five Bloggers......................................Best Adaptation of an Enid Blyton Book
   Life Time Achievement Award...................................... Rog T    
Actually, this wasn't sent to me as a Guest blog, just something to make me chuckle by one of my regular emailers within the ranks of Barnet Council Employees, but as it certainly made me chuckle, I deemed it worthy of guest blog status. Feel free to add your nominations below.

Social Housing, single mothers and failing the next generation - A co-operative answer

Abject failure, pure bloody abject failure. That is what Great Britain PLC is facing. That is what Barnet Council is facing. What am I talking about? Social housing. If you are sixteen (the age of my eldest daughter) what sort of a life faces you? If you have aspirations, you will go to University and end up with £20-30,000 worth of debt when you enter the workplace. And it in, say ten years time, you have worked hard at Uni, got a decent job paying say £45,000 per annum (which most people won't) and you've met someone you like what then? You want to buy somewhere to live? Mortgage lenders lend on 3 X salary. So you have £20 odd grand debt. You can borrow £135,000.Do you know of a place in Barnet going for that money. And that is for someone who has done well. The only way you could start to afford it, is if you have a rich mummy and daddy who can bale you out. Does that encourage self sufficiency?

And what about the other end of the social spectrum? What about the kids who leave school at 18 with no proper qualifications, with no wealthy mums or dads to help them. What about those kids who want to escape from home. There is only one easy solution. Have a child and get a council to accomodate you. Do I think this is wrong? Well I don't criticise people who are shafted by an unfair system, the human race is resilient and inventive. That is why we have prospered. I most certainly don't expect anyone to lie back and get punched in the face by the system, every day of their life for ever.

So you get a flat, you get your benefits and what then? You can't work, because you've got a child. You have no qualifications, so you won't get a decent job anyway. Would I stack cans in Tescos for the minimum wage (or nothing as the government seems to think you should), if I could get by on benefits? Do me a favour.

And what is even more perverse is the number of empty properties in nice areas, such as Barnet. The Council don't own these, private landlords do. For whatever reason, they are often quite happy to let the properties sit empty and rotting. Especially in these times of austerity, where no one will lend you money to do them up.

Morrissey & Band campaign against benefit scroungers at Santiago gig
And then what about the educational prospects for single mothers, on benefits with child? How can they ever learn? The Barnet Eye has been approached by a "social entrepreneur" who believes he has an answer. Does he? Well I don't know, but I do know that his ideas at the very least are worthy of discussion.

Consider this. If you have a block of flats or properties,  which could accomodate say 20-30 single mothers in decent accommodation, with children, but these properties are currently empty, who benefits? Councils spend a small fortune on "rental accomodation". This money is solves the immediate issue of housing, but nothing else. Just suppose that each of the single mothers was offered the opportunity to study, with a view to finding their way into the workplace as their child grows. But you may ask, what about the childcare. Well surely if there are 20-30 mothers in a similar situation, between them they could operate a co-operative creche service. If each mother gave 3 hours a week, then the children could be cared for, at virtually nil cost. The women could then get qualifications and part time jobs.

So what would the council need to do? Simply make funds available to support the finding of suitable locations for the creche and training and safeguarding. In the long term, the schemes could be self financing, but seed money is clearly needed to get the program working. By combining micro-financing (small scale loans from the co-operative to the women), people could be raised out of poverty and the cycle of despair broken. Where does the private element come in? Well with so much property, surely it is in the councils interests to get private landlords with empty buildings to participate. If the members of the scheme were signed up to fixed term contracts, then surely this would offer income and guarantees. The person who contacted me tells me that he already has schemes running and has a 97% success rate in helping break the cycle of despair. He has asked me to introduce him to the people I know at Barnet Council, with a view to running a pilot in the Borough.

But before I do (assuming they will listen to any suggestion the Barnet Eye makes), I'd like to hear the views of the people who read my blog? Is this good or bad? Does such schemes have a place in Barnet in 2012? I've heard one side of the story and it sounds good to me. Lets start a debate

Rog T's Cancer blog - The way to achieve the perfect orgasm?

For those of you who are regular readers and have read the previous posts, you can skip this first paragraph.This is the latest installment in my occasional series about how I'm adjusting to living with a big C in my life.  For those of you who aren't, here's a quick summary. I'm 49 years old and I recently had a prostate biopsy following two "slightly high" PSA tests - 2.8 & 4.1. The biopsy took ten tissue samples and one of these showed a "low grade cancer" which gives me a 3+3 on the Gleason scale. I'm now on a program of active monitoring.  In early February, I got the results of the latest PSA test - down to 3.5 and an MRI scan which found absolutely nothing. I've no symptoms and sadly for a few people, if I'm gonna die soon, it won't be from Prostate cancer. Got the picture?

Be warned, this blog contains information you may rather not read, concerning sexual function in a medical context. It is designed to give people dealing with similar issues a bit of help coping with what I can attest to being a difficult time. 

Well, that's a bold title isn't it?  Before we get into the interesting business of my latest cancer blog and all the filthy details, You may ask yourself, "How can that Rog T make such a claim? Was he claiming it for himself or on behalf of the lady he loves?" Well sorry to disappoint you. Neither, I just noticed in my stats that someone had arrived at my blog after searching for "achieving the perfect orgasm with prostate cancer". Google keyword searches can be cruel, as if the poor sod doesn't have enough to worry about already, he has to now read my deranged rantings in the search for the perfect orgasm. Now here's a question. Can you guess what the most popular search on google is, for people who find my blog? Well oddly it isn't "Barnet Eye" (which is 2nd) or even "John Prescott" which is 3rd (rather oddly - I had a picture of him eating a pie, which gets thousands of hits). Given up yet? Well it is "Jabba the Hut" and it arrives at this post - - and they find it by doing a google image search.

An Advocado Pear
So anyway, welcome to anyone who has arrived at this page, however you got here. And although I am not going to discuss how to acheive the perfect orgasm in technical detail if you have Prostate Cancer, I am going to have a brief discussion about sex and prostate cancer. As you will read in my preamble, I've no physical symptoms of prostate cancer. Well actually that isn't strictly true. I had a prostate biopsy and for several weeks after I had blood in my semen and in my urine. And let me be completely honest, it rather freaked me out. If you are reading this blog because you will soon be having your first prostate biopsy, be warned. This is perhaps the worst bit of it (apart from the feeling of someone flicking your testicles when they actually take the cores). That and the strange sensations, which may or may not have been psychosomatic. Then on top of that there is the feeling of dread you get when you start thinking sexual thoughts. Maybe it's not a problem you have had or will have, but I went through a 6-8 week period where every time I felt myself becoming aroused, I started thinking about the issues related to the development of my disease from a Gleason scale score of six to a more fully blown version. Incontinence, impotence and sterility. In fact it got to the point, where I started to avoid anything which made me think about sex. Now why am I sharing this very personal information with the world? Well, so that you know that this phase passed. When the blood finally stopped leaking out and I had other things to think about, I found I relaxed. The brain takes a time to adapt to a new situation, but adapt it does. I had to take time to explain my rather odd (for me) behaviour to my wife. I'm really not sure she understood, but at least she knew I had an issue and it was my issue.

There was a period, where I seriously thought about having therapy, specifically to address the issue. I realised it was irrational, but I couldn't deal with it. It was starting to make me snappy, irritable and generally a nightmare to live with. I guess that sexual frustration coupled with a desire to avoid sex at all costs is not a recipe for a happy home. So how did I get over it? Well, I wouldn't necessarily recommend this as a solution, but I ended up getting completely hammered one night and then forgetting the things I was worrying about. At that point, I found everything worked fine and I was able to move on. As the blood issue had disappeared, I realised that it had all "just been in my head". That's not to say that that particular demon has completely been put to bed and may well re-emerge when I have the next biopsy or some bad news. The point is, it isn't there now.

So if you have had issues with regards to these sort of thoughts, if nothing else, you are not the only person in the world to experience them. The human mind is a strange thing. I believe that all of these mechanisms have been developed over millions of years to protect us and our loved ones. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that if we see blood in our semen, we have a natural desire to protect our loved ones from infection, which turns us off sex. Throughout the history of the human race, such discharges were usually associated with VD rather than bits being snipped off our prostate gland. I think it would be natural for us to be subconsciously programmed to avoid spreading it to people we love.

A friend who has a similar issue asked me how I was getting on, now I'd had good news on the MRI scan and the latest PSA test. Yeah good, I said. "Got complacent yet, slunk back into the old ways, the bacon sarnies, the milky tea and the steaks". Actually, nope, and I don't think I will. You see I feel very healthy. My weight has gone down from 107kg to 94kg, due to the new diet (not the cancer, of this I know for a fact). Playing football today, I played for 100 minutes and was still running freely at the end. My knees hurt less, and my head is more together. Last night we went to the Rising Sun pub in Mill Hill for a meal with friends. They do a mean steak, but my prime concern was to try and avoid the foods which I believe promote cancer. As I've mentioned before, the new diet has had the strange side effect of virtually removing hangovers from the equation. I've only had two since I changed my lifestyle, both after mega sessions drinking Fosters beer. Is there something in this which my body is rejecting? Interestingly the 2nd time I got hamnmered drinking it, I threw up badly, which I havent done for years. My capacity for red wine has been massively increased, to the point  where I really don't know what the full capacity is. Now I may hear you scream "IRRESPONSIBLE". Yup, of course it is, but I don't drink every day, in fact I drink less days than don't drink. I only get truly hammered in the company of friends (and luckily I'm a popular guy).

So finally, if you turned up at this blog and you've got prostate cancer and you want to achieve the perfect orgasm for yourself or/and your partner, what advice does Rog T - sex guru - have to give you. Well this is going to probably sound crass, but if you were achieving them before and your not now and you are worried about it, then first you have to accept that your body has an issue that interferes with your normal thought process.If like me sexual thoughts triggered feelings of trepidation, fear and uncertainty, then what you have to do is deal with these first. You can either adopt my approach and wait for them to go away, or you can speak to a qualified counsellor and see if they can help and advise.

What about if you couldn't acheive it before? Well in that case, I'd just get some counselling and advice immediately. If you are searching and you are not happy, this will cause stress. Stress is a major factor in promoting the development of cancer and other illness. We owe it to ourselves to achieve balance in our lives and I believe balance is impossible to find with unresolved sexual issues.

I've not really seen these issues addressed in any of the books or websites I've looked at. I really hope that if you have had any issues with this, just knowing you are not alone helps in some small way.

Have a pleasant week

Sunday 26 February 2012

Guest Blog - Local Authority Trading Companies and Conflicts of Interest - by John Sullivan

By John Sullivan,

Enid Blyton gave us the Famous Five and the incompetent Barnet council driven by dogma and ideology have given us the Fabulous Five bloggers. Without the crass behaviour on so many fronts, the fabulous five bloggers that look out for the interests of the people of Barnet,( which incidentally is what the Barnet councillors are supposed to do ) would probably not exist. They continue to expose the dodgy goings on that are being carried out in our name.  Without them we would not have a clue at to what the council were up to up to and just how incompetent they are (so well done the Fab Five). As stated by Roger in his recent blog. Barnet Council is like a ship heading for the rocks, the problem is all of us in Barnet are likely to drown under the potential financial disaster and destruction of services we will almost definitely experience due to this mania to privatise at all costs.

 Barnet councillors like to be known as the Ryan Air Council, the pathfinders in modern ways to run councils, sadly they have only earned the right to be called the Laurel & Hardy council.  Like this famous pair they go from blunder to blunder and error to error driven on by stupidity and incompetence, added to the mix the Barnet councillors  hunger for dogma & ideology and a mania to privatise. Whilst repeatedly ignoring the siren voices of anyone, that raises a genuine concern with their direction of travel.

The most recent matter to be exposed by the Fab Five is council workers forming a company in order to direct education contracts that are being privatised by their bosses to line their own pockets. The Fab Five have exposed this behaviour on the basis of "conflict of interest " on the part of these council employees,  who have been suspended whilst the truth or otherwise of their alleged activities are investigated.  Without this privatisation mania , dogma & ideology that is at best a gamble and at worst a potential disaster for vital support services in Barnet, I would not be writing this blog.
In his blog Roger points out he had no idea about the new LATC that will cater for many disabled people in Barnet, and questions privatisation as a concept . I wish to raise both the issue of privatisation along with the issue of "conflict of interest " where it might possibly be related to the forming of this LATC.

Mania for privatisation . How do I define it?  As the parent of a daughter with learning difficulties ( she has down's syndrome ), I find it immoral and perverse, that on the one hand you have a councillor namely loud mouth Coleman abusing his office and publicly denigrating disabled people in Barnet. Because in his opinion and presumably that of the council he does not think that "THESE PEOPLE" ( the disabled ) have the right to the provision of transport to get them from  A to B, a service they have enjoyed since year dot. But at the same time he and the council feel it is perfectly right and proper to form an LATC , to make a profit from the disabled.  The only possible way that profit can be made from the disabled is by the Destruction of Disability Support Services, therefore whilst destroying the lives of many disabled people in the name of profit is considered a moral aim, the long enjoyed provision of transport is deemed immoral and perverse.
As the parent of a disabled daughter I find the desire to make a profit from the misfortune of the most  vulnerable people in our community, along with the destruction of their services to maximise that profitability to be sick, perverse and immoral . Therefore the driving force behind it is greed , avarice, dogma, ideology, and a mania for privatisation and that is how I define this particular aspect of privatisation the aims of this particular LATC and I will tell you why .
Conflict of interest, " how do you define it "
Roger asks five questions  about this LATC, but are they the only questions I think not. There are many more questions that need to be answered with regard to the privatisation and the destruction of support services for disabled people at the altar of profit. There are many questions to be asked about the manner in which this privatisation was forced through, and who benefits from forcing this privatisation through. Whether or not anyone doing the forcing and the driving had a possible "conflict of interests" ,or have or will benefit personally from their efforts currently or once this LATC becomes fully privatised which for me as a layman constitutes a possible or potential " conflict of interest ".

This is to important an issue to attempt to cover it all in one blog, so I will work on the five questions posed by Roger and invite any and all contributions in order that my response to the five questions posed will be based on a broad section of opinion rather than the  dogma, ideology and the ignoring of public opinion that is the hallmark of Barnet Council. I am currently engaging in meaningful consultation with others that are affected by the forming of this LATC before I respond, naturally the concept of meaningful consultation is an alien phenomenon where Barnet council are concerned it is something they preach but blatantly fail to engage in.

You also have a "choice" as to whether or not you wish to engage with me in my search for bona fide responses to the five questions posed.  Choice being another concept that is alien to Barnet Council yet another concept they preach but fail to engage in, they afforded no alternatives therefore no " choice ", yet believe it or not they had the neck to call this new LATC " Your Choice Barnet ".

I cannot attempt to cover the enormity of the volume of questions being raised and the detrimental impact it has had and continues to have on so many disabled people,( I hasten to add not all) in the run up to the forming of this particular LATC in one blog. It would be to the detriment of disabled people in Barnet, and unlike Cllr Coleman  and his fellow councillors. I am not in the habit of doing anything that is detrimental to the well being of disabled people in Barnet. I do not see them as an unacceptable drain on council resources as certain senior councillors clearly do . Keep watching this space, because this is the first in a series which aims to explore these questions.
Guest Bloggers are always welcome at the Barnet Eye. Blogs can be submitted via the email link in the Top right hand corner of the blog. John Sullivan is a Barnet resident and carer for his daughter who is an adult with learning difficulties. 

You can see John tell his story in the forthcoming film - A Tale of Two Barnets (click to visit film website) which will be premiered at the Phoenix Cinema on Monday March 19th at 6pm Tickets are £1.

Purely for clarity, the questions John Refers to are posed in this blog - 

Saturday 25 February 2012

A Tale of Two Barnets - A film you really must see

Every so often, someone tells you about an idea they've had or a project they are working on, which catches your imagination. Charles Honderick is an independent film maker born in Florida. He made a pop video for me a year or so ago and plays in a great band called the Hamptons. A few months ago, I asked him what he was up to on the film making front. "I really fancy doing something different. I am thinking of making a documentary about Barnet". I was rather surprised and enquired why. "Well, 2012 is the two hundredth anniversary of Charles Dickens birth and he set based his famous workhouse scene on life at the Barnet workhouse". He continued "Also in 2012, the eyes of the world will be on London, I think it would be fascinating to see what is going on in one part of London and what the concerns and interests of ordinary people are". I asked what format the film was likely to take "We all talk about reality TV, but what we see isn't really reality at all. Often so called reality TV shows are all about changing individuals situations, rather than chronicling them. People are selected because they look good for television, rather than because they have an interesting story to tell".

So having heard Charles explain his idea, I offered to help him put it together in any way I could. There were two ways in which I explained I could help him. First, as I run a studio, I offered him the use of all facilities we have and any technical backup I could provide. Secondly, through writing a blog and the charity work I do, I have a large list of contacts. I offered to try and introduce Charles to as many people as I could, who I felt had a story to tell. So I introduced Charles to a few people and off he went. Now as Charles is also an extremely nice guy, he took the list of people I gave him, interviewed them and then came back to me and said "Hey Roger, that guy who you suggested I should interview, well he gave me such and such's number and he's introduced me to such an such and you really should have a chat with them about your blog" - which is how I ended up with a whole new team of guest bloggers such as John Sullivan of CADDS, who I'd never met.

After interviewing a couple of dozen people, Charles turned up at the studio one day to show me the footage. I thought it was fantastic. He replied that he was really unhappy with it. Why? "Well there are some really great stories in there, but there is no balance and we get no feel for what sort of a place Barnet really is." Of course, if I was making the film, I'd be more than happy with this, but Charles said "Do you know anyone who could add some context, explain why the Council are doing what they are doing, explain what sort of a community we have?". So I gave it some thought. I have a pretty good relationship with Commander Neil Seabridge, who is the acting chief of Police in Barnet. I asked if he could say a few words about what sort of place Barnet is and what are the hot issues in 2012. Neil kindly agreed. Then I happened to be at a Barnet Council business breakfast, with the Leader of the Council, Richard Cornelius and CEO Nick Walkley. I though, "hell, why not ask them if they will appear in the film". So I did and to my amazement and their credit, they agreed. So Charles emailed them and went along and interviewed them. I was intrigued, how did the interviews go? "Really well, Richard Cornelius is a really nice chap. He was very friendly and we had a bit of a laugh about a few things". What about Nick Walkley "He was very businesslike". Charles showed me the footage. If it was me, I'd have put both interviews in their entirity on the web. They provide a fascinating insight into exactly what the people running the council think. Charles however was making a film and he wanted to make it work.

He explained about the footage he was using of Richard Cornelius "Too often, these films show politicians as purely two dimensional characters, purely using clips to show them talking about policies. I think it's interesting to see what amuses them, what worries them and how they perceive what they are doing". And the CEO? "He was a bit harder to bring to life as he was very focused on his job and he didn't really let out any insight into Nick Walkley the person." When I saw the cut and how the footage blended with the other cuts, I realised that Charles had got the balance right.

I suggested that Charles might like to interview Brian Coleman. Although I am not a fan, he invariably makes a good subject for anyone who points a camera at him. I suggested to Charles that as he's a Camden resident, he may like to approach him directly. Sadly Brian Coleman didn't get back to him at all. I think it is a shame. I suggested that he might also like to interview Andrew Dismore, who is running against Coleman. Charles replied "If Brian Coleman had agreed to appear, then I might have interviewed his rival, but without him to put his point, it wouldn't really be terribly relevant". Charles explained that the subject of Brian Coleman came up time and time again in interviews. He could have made the whole film about Brian Coleman if he'd wanted to, but as Coleman chose not to appear, Charles chose not to mention him at all. He said "It might be interesting to make a film about him if you could get all the people who like him to appear as well". He then made a good point "The film is really about the stories of the people in it, not about their opinion of someone who they perceive as the bogeyman".

Last night, I watched the near final cut of the film. Charles has spent about two weeks, locked away in his flat, editing the film, working on the soundtrack and trying to make it look as good as possible. I'd previously seen a very roughly chopped version, without the narration, titles etc. It is approx 25 minutes long. He has spliced in plenty of footage shot around Barnet. As Charles is a pennyless filmmaker, I spent a couple of days driving him around Barnet, filming all sorts of things, from signs displaying parking charges, to local landmarks such as the statue of "La Deliverance" at Henleys Corner (which Charles has used as the iconic image of the film), St Josephs College in Mill Hill, estates such as Beaufort Park. I also gave Charles the use of my video library of footage I've shot at council meetings, etc. Strangely much of what he chose to use to illustrate the story wasn't shot by me, but by my daughter Elizabeth for her various art projects. There are some lovely sequences she filmed as we drove around Mill Hill.

When Charles first explained how the film would start in the conversation that lead to our collaboration, he said "I want to start it with some scenes around Barnet, accompanied by the narrator reading the opening lines to "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens. In the final cut, the film actually starts with Richard Cornelius talking about La Deliverance. I asked Charles about this. He explained "There is no really universal image or landmark that people instantly associate with Barnet, such as Big Ben in London. It is a beautiful statue and films really well in the light as the sun goes down. There isn't much humour in the film or the subject matter, so it was the best place to put it in. Start on a humourous note. I hope we can really put the statue on the map".

One of the people Charles interviewed, knows iconic British Film director, Ken Loach. They mentioned Charles project to Ken and he expressed an interest in saying a few words about the film. As he is an extremely busy man, he could only be interviewed on a particular day. I got a worried call from Charles, he was in Florida visiting his parents at the time. I arranged for another filmmaker friend of mine, Joe Grahame to film the interview. Ken was very excited about the project and his interview is on the film website. This introduction will precede the film. As Chales couldn't be there and I wasn't 100% sure of what the film would be, Ken is really talking about the early rushes and my thoughts of what I hoped the film would be.

The select few who have seen the (nearly completed) version of the film have been highly impressed with what they've seen. It isn't Hollywood, it isn't even Elstree. What it is though, is an extremely powerful film about real people in Barnet. I think Charles has succeeded beyond my  greatest expectations (pardon the pun) in showing that you don't need to be an oil painting, if you have a story to tell, to make a good cinematic subject.The film also shows that you don't need a huge budget to tell a story. I think that the film is a template that every community should copy. Under Mike Freer's leadership, Barnet Council commissioned a film company to "interview local residents" to show what sort of a place Barnet is. You can see the fruits of their efforts here - - although I think it is a good idea for Councils to use this medium to get information across, I despair at the sterile stilted tone of the videos produced. When you see the film Charles has made, you will see a film made by someone with a passion for movie making. I long argued that the money the council has wasted making these films would have been far better spent, by giving it to local schools to encourage film making. Give the kids a camera, editing software and unrestricted access to Councillors and council premises and I believe we'd get fantastic films which are actually watchable.

Which brings us to the Premier of the film. This will be on the 19th March at the Iconic Phoenix Cinema in Finchley at 6pm. The Phoenix is one of the finest cinemas in London, if not the world. It is only fitting that the film be shown here. We are hoping that as many people as possible will come to see the film.

Charles has made a film that anyone who is interested in life, people and communities will find fascinating. Whilst I believe the appeal of the film will be go far beyond the boundaries of the Borough,  if you live in the London Borough of Barnet, are at all interested in the place and the people who live here, you really shouldn't miss it, because this is your town.

You can find out more about the film at the official film website. Please pass this on and tell all of your friends about it. The website will be added to constantly as more information, footage, stills, trailers and clips are added.

Friday 24 February 2012

The Friday Joke - 24/2/2012

A rather old picture of Brian Coleman
Brian (Coleman) is a well-respected figure with a high media profile. His wide-ranging experience within London Government includes his Vice Chairmanship of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (2005/2008) and his chairmanship of the North London Waste Authority (NLWA). 

Brian is also a councillor for Totteridge in the London Borough of Barnet where he is currently Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Community Safety (Borough Safety Officer). He deals with a heavy casework load on behalf of his constituents, resolving their problems with commitment and tenacity. He campaigns ceaselessly on issues such as transport, planning, health and policing which affect all Londoners. 

A regular interviewee on television and radio, Vanessa Feltz describes him as "One of the few politicians worth talking to"!

It must be true, it says so on the Conservative Party website (the bits in the brackets are my additions for clarity) - 

They also list his private email, so you can email him to thank him for all the hard work he's done, raising your parking charges or if you have any issues with safety in the London Borough of Barnet - Email:

I wonder if the people who write this crap get out much in Barnet?

Barnet Council - A ship of fools heading for the rocks

What on Earth is going on at Barnet Council. First we have the culture of the Ignorami, exemplified by Councillor Robert Rams. Rams states (on page 3 of this weeks Press) that "if the argument over libraries had come down to grammar then he had already won". Let's set aside the other 28 questions from members of the public raising other objections, which Councillor Rams ignored. If Councillor Rams cannot understand the value of correct English, then it is clear he doesn't understand the purpose of libraries and is completely the wrong person to be in charge of them. It is all a little sad, isn't it.

Then there are the members of staff, setting up businesses, whilst working at the Council (presumably at our expense). How did this information come to light? Because a group of Bloggers, who actually care about the Borough we live in, rather than seeing it as a cash cow, have worked tirelessly to uncover such scandals.

Then this morning, I got an email from a guest blogger of ours, John Sullivan, who tells me that Barnet Council themselves are at it. John informs me that Amanda Jackson, is the head of a Local Authority Trading Company (LATC). This is a company set up by Barnet Council, to deliver services previously provided by the Council. Amanda was the person at Barnet who pushed through the privatisation of many services.

John queries whether there is a conflict of interest and tells me

"Barnet Council blocked all attempts by a newly formed private company, run by very experienced  ex Barnet Council care workers, to distribute their leaflets at Community Space (a Barnet Council care facility), the market they are geared up to cater for. Barnet claim they are committed to providing choice for disabled people, but thwart all attempts of competitors to the LATC to provide services to local people who may want them".

I have to confess, I knew nothing of this LATC or what it does. You can read about it's launch here at the Times website :-

I am concerned that the Council is acting beyond it's remit, creating private companies and setting up commercial competition, whilst having a virtual monopoly on how contracts are doled out. Who profits and how is this regulated? What democratic accountability is there? I have the following questions.

1) Does the LATC have a preferred supplier role, compared to other suppliers?

2) Can someone work for the LATC and LBB at the same time?

3) Does the LATC have access to information that gives it a competetive advantage?

4) Who pays the salarys and start up costs of the LATC?

5) Is the LATC subsidised?

6) Can I serve FoI requests on the LATC?

What is going on at Barnet Council? It strikes me that it is ever more resembling a ship of fools steaming at full speed straight for the rocks.

Thursday 23 February 2012

Barnet Bloggers setting the News agenda

If you read todays local Edgware and Mill Hill Press newspaper, you will see for yourself just how much of a difference the Barnet bloggers are making.

On the front page, we have the news that Barnet Council have suspended three employees, pending an investigation into allegations that they have set up a company to provide financial services to schools in the Borough, whilst still working for the Council ! This story was broken by the famous five local Bloggers (see sidebar for details). This is the third major scandal in less than a year to have emerged as a result of investigations by local bloggers. Last year, Councillor Daniel Thomas tried to brand the bloggers as wasters of Council money, after the council racked up huge costs, whilst trying to avoid answering Freedom of Information requests. They even reported Mr Mustard, on of the five, to the ICO in a (failed) attempt to close him down. To what end? To stop him uncovering scandals like this?

If you then turn over, you will see my ugly mug on page three (fortunately for all concerned, not in the pose for which page 3 became famous). I'm there with my big, ugly mouth taped up, demonstrating how the Stalinist tendency at Barnet Council attempted to stop me asking a question to the cabinet about poor use of English in Council reports. As this was in the news section of the paper, it doesn't say whether they agree with my campaign to try and get the Council to properly draft documents. They do however give their opinion on page 8 of the paper.

They say :-

"For Mr Tichborne, the Council and its officers were not treating this grave issue with the respect it deserved and his literary criticism should have reached the cabinet uncensored."

As a dyslexic, I find it quite ironic that I, of all people should be lecturing people on use of English. What is even more bizarre is that someone at the Council thought it would be a good idea to try and censor me. As a result, they end up looking ridiculous in the paper.

The bottom line is that A CONSERVATIVE COUNCIL has put someone in charge of libraries (Councillor Robert Rams) who issued a report which was virtually unreadable, due to poor use of English (he admitted this under questioning in cabinet by me on Monday). Not only that, but he made it quite clear that on his watch, releasing incomprehensible reports is ok and he's quite happy that four of his officers also failed to properly review the document (despite having signed it off).

If I was the Leader of the Council, I'd be extremely worried that my Libraries supremo was clearly totally unconcerned with literacy in Barnet. Rams has tried to make out that "because the only criticism is with grammar in the report, we've won the argument". He neglected to mention the fact that there were 28 questions from members of the public, all criticising different aspects of his policy. Not only can the poor boy not spell, he can't add up either.

As Councillor Rams was saying this, Councillor Richard Cornelius, looked at him with a look which mixed disdain with pity. It reminded me of Captain Mainwaring in Dads Army, after Pike exclaimed something betraying his niave world view. All we needed was Councillor Cornelius to exclaim "stupid boy" and the picture would have been complete.

Mike Freer MP - Poster boy for Tories against Transparency

Only one thing to say. Does Mike Freer MP (Finchley and Golders Green) realise that he sounds like a complete dickhead? Is he aware of Conservative policies on transparency -  From Hansard.

--- Here is the interesting bit ---

Clive Efford:
Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
Mike Freer:
I have already given way twice.

There are clearly good reasons why the details of such threats should not be open to public scrutiny. Some might argue that their publication too is in the public or national interest, but we are not hearing that argument today; we are hearing only about this register, and not about the others. The Opposition’s stance is strong on opportunism and weak on intellectual coherence. Let us look at their record in government. In 2009, when the shadow Health Secretary was Health Secretary, he refused a freedom of information request for publication of the Department’s strategic risk register. According to the Department, “'a public authority is exempt from releasing information, which is or would be likely to inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or the free and frank exchanges of views for the purpose of deliberation'”. There was also reference to the neutering of the free exchange of opinions between Ministers and advisers. That held then, and it holds now.

There is another issue, which was touched on by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. If the Department of Health is forced to issue all risk registers, what about other Departments? Will the Treasury have to release all risk registers involving the economy? Would that not cause financial havoc in the international markets? That explains why past Administrations have also refused to publish such documents. From a governance perspective, the Government’s stance is entirely right.

One of the problems of risk registers is that they are meant to be frank about what could go wrong. Any Member who has served on a project board will know how valuable such registers can be and how invaluable completely blank ones can be, and will also know that if the authors of risk registers are afraid to be open because of what might be misinterpreted, routine publication will cause them to become bland and anodyne and will render them useless.

The motion is simply posturing at its worst, and I will be voting “No” this evening.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Apologies to Councillor Robert Rams

The Barnet Eye makes mistakes. When we do, we like to do two things. We like to apologise for our errors and we like to set the record straight.

Earlier this week, we published a picture of Councillor Robert Rams, which we took from his website in 2009. It had no copyright notice and Cllr Rams never complained about it's use. Today, I was contacted by the husband of a lady also featured in the picture. He asked for the picture to be removed. He mentioned that the picture had been taken at a charity event for the Jewish Lads and Girls Brigade. Whilst this was not clear from the picture, it occurred to me that if someone used a picture of my wife, taken at an event supporting a local charity, to lampoon a local politician, I'd be a bit fed up.

As such it was most appropriate to take the picture down. Whilst there are many things which I'd happily rib Councillor Rams about, I think his work for the organisation is commendable, as are all local charity volunteers. I trust all parties accept my apology. I'd urge anyone who has some free time on their hands to support all such local charities, which seek to offer local young people a positive outlet for their energy.

Barnet Council scandal latest : Finance Matters For Schools Limited

Following an investigation by the famous five local bloggers into activities at Barnet Council, we sent an open letter to Barnet Council on Monday. You can read this here (or on the other Barnet blogs) :-

We have received an update from Mr Nick Walkley, the CEO. He has confirmed that he considers the matter to be serious and that the Corporate anti fraud and HR teams are investigating. He has stated that as these investigations are in progress it would be inappropriate to comment further, which is quite proper and correct.

At the Cabinet meeting on Monday night, several councillors expressed their concern about the matter. I have also received emails from Barnet Council staff regarding the issue, expressing their concern at what has been happening.

It is high time that the Leadership of the council both political and executive face up to the fact that there are serious issues with the council. There are clearly fundamental issues of corporate governance. How on earth can they proceed with massive outsourcing programs, with contracts worth a billion pounds, when it is clear that tiny contracts cannot be properly be administered? I don't enjoy spending time forensically examining, but as none of the people who are paid to do the job seem to bother, someone has to in Barnet. The fact that a team of private individuals (the famous five bloggers) have now uncovered three massive three massive scandals to do with procurement, in less than a year, with nothing but obstruction from the council, tells you everything you need to know about why the One Barnet outsourcing project should be halted until the council has it's house in order.

The bloggers of Barnet call on Council Leader Richard Cornelius and CEO Nick Walkley to do the only logical thing and suspend the One Barnet program until the procurement and executive functions can be demonstrated to be fit for purpose. Anything else amounts to corporate negligence