Random Jottings Of Gildersleeve

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Location: United Kingdom

Perhaps you'll learn more about me as you read my blog. For anyone who translates my blog using the translator facility, don't forget if you wish to read the comments in your own language to click on the title of the post down the left hand side otherwise they will remain in english. Also I assume that the translation is accurate but I don't know, so please allow for errors.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

We had a reasonable snowfall last week which apart from a few snow flurries has remained much the same day after day. It just lay there and never really thawing out but roughly between 6am and 8am much more was dumped on my town. I am sure the outskirts are much worse as are other locations around the UK too. I know that other coutries will say that what we have had is nothing by comparison.

I know often the weather is only considered to be bad when snow reaches our capital city, London(and it is often not anything like what the North of England, Wales or Scotland is hit with annually...if I have missed out some areas...I'm sorry. You can only talk in general terms. But today the snow has continued to fall off and on...A little unsual but there have been a few large flashes of lightening lighting up the sky and this morning I did hear a very loud rumble of thunder. I now know this is not as rare as I thought and is called Thunder Snow.

As far as I know only one neighbour ventured out to work(he returned a few minutes ago) If anyone else walked to the main roads and caught public transport I haven't seen them.

I have only seen 4 people all day and that included the mailman who brought the first Christmas card for 2010.

Anyone taking any bets that we may have snow at Christmas?

Update:This last image was taken approx 22 hours later, I tried to capture how the snowflakes were dancing around a street lamp but that did not work but I got this instead...

Here's an attempt at a video clip...sorry I did not take it when the white stuff was really coming down...and my pan shot is so jerky.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Still Feel That I Am Missing Something...

I welcome the following news and for once someone is standing up to such proposals(but it's only temporary)

As I said am I missing something...I know they keep saying they want to see rents come down especially in the private sector, so what is to be gained by raising rents to match private properties(rented) or the value of bought property.

How will that force a Landord's hand?

I keep hearing that the average wage is £500...still don't see that.

Also is that after tax and everything else that is taken off at source?

Is that after you have paid for essentials like food, travel costs, heating, water, electric?

Delay to drastic housing benefit cuts after caving in to Lib Dem partners.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Is Everybody Happy?

You Bet Your Life We Are...so went the song by The Scaffold.

How do you measure happiness? It's so personal to each of us.

On the whole I have a happy disposition and rarely get miserable or depressed. And no I wouldn't say that life has always been easy. As I become older I find it seems more difficult to be an optimist.

Some are happy and lead a very simplistic life and others need and crave excitement.

I am at my most happiest when I am left alone to do as I wish, I don't bother others. I like to listen to music and the radio, perhaps eat a lovely meal. I appreciate nature. I hope I can always have access to a computer and the Internet. I hope for reasonable health, enough money to pay the bills and I wouldn't mind a little extra so I can buy perhaps a CD or DVD. My life is quite simplistic.

I remember how happy I felt when I came home some years ago after expecting to die and how good it was to be alive. If that doesn't bring home what happiness is and what your priorities are nothing will.

Of course I wish health and happiness for those who are nearest and dearest to me.

I think most have such modest goals in their lives.

So am I happy?

All the worries and stress that I feel are being caused by others and mainly due to the problems we are told daily in the news and media. I sometimes find(though it's like sticking your head in the sand)it is best to avoid any news such as the austere budget that we are being told is coming our way at a time we are being told the recession is over and we are coming out of the other side.

There is nothing to fear but fear itself. I hope that is right.

I am scared.

I think that many policies are un-necessary and being rushed through. In many cases it is political dogma.

It's unusual for me but whereas I should take one day at a time and not think too far ahead I find myself doing just that. I don't like what I see.

Do I feel happy? I'd say, like many, that I feel apprehensive.

I have someone who I love dearly who needs caring for and watching over, my own health could be better. So the future is quite daunting as it is. I have no relatives or family so at some point I will be very much alone. Or vice versa.

I think that well being and happiness are not necessarily the same. You can have all that you desire and still be unhappy.

With all the changes being proposed on keeping a roof over your head I think many will be worrying. I was just thinking if I suddenly found myself destitute or being put in a care home, I haven't many possesions but the thought of having nothing(my books, cd's, radio and or the running cost of a computer)might just about finish me off.

It seems a pointless exercise especially at a time when things are becoming difficult for many of us. It was brought home to me when I read what the Irish people will be expected to do in the coming years with all the cuts, increases in taxes and extra charges being brought in on whatever they can.

I heard that this exercise is going to cost £2million. I hope that the survey is not compulsory.

Britain to measure happiness

Update:It appears that the survey is compulsory and will be included in the 2011 census and the results will not be available until 2012. I heard the PM say that policies could be changed depending on what is found out from the survey but by then many will be law so it is doubtful they can or would be changed anyhow.

By 2012 everyone will be looking towards the next election though that happens in 2015.

But a week is a long time in politics and much could happen before then.

Monday, November 22, 2010

More Tinkering...

Another story that will affect many in Social Housing or pensioners/disabled/unemployed and even hard working families has been released over the weekend and mentioned in the press which will probably just add to concerns as to whether many can keep a roof over their heads.

In theory a figure will be set(income/savings we don't know which)or how much, if you reach it you could be evicted and such checks could be done every 2 years.

The MP's who appear to talk about this on TV or Radio say we expect rents in the private sector will fall and people will not be evicted or moved on.

Checks will not happen that regularly but they don't really know and the word expect means absolutely nothing at all. Such regulations will set at local level.

If people have to go into renting privately it will be more expensive and income and savings will suffer, before long it could cost the State more than it does now and many more may be trying to obtain help.

I might conceed that a change in circumstances might mean that you downsize if a house is too large, that it may not be an automatic right to pass it on to other family members etc but if they live with you and the tenant named on the agreement on or some family crises happens, you would hope that they will still have a roof over their heads.

I would hope that even the fairest amongst society would accept that.

These plans are only happening in England...but news has just come to light that the right to buy a house classed as Social(which has existed for something like 30 years after the idea was introduced by a Conservative Government with Margaret Thatcher as it's leader and PM of the UK)has just been stopped in Scotland so if you want or are able to afford to buy, now is the time to do so.

Like the new policies being introduced in England, it is said that existing tenants will be unaffected by the changes however new tenants will.

In today's society the fact that many jobs are poorly paid(even with the minimum wage)jobs for life are few, it seems crazy that under the new rules they want to raise rents on properties to the average of private properties in that area, that they want to cap Housing Benefit, so if you find yourself out of work after a year(even if it is not your fault)they will reduce help by 10% and as your Job Seekers Allowance is only £65 a week what remains of that will be reduced in effect.

If you do find a better job(and possibly your income improves)what if they then say move?

What if you rent privately and it costs more so any gain made is lost. What if the property is smaller and less attractive, you might ask why did I try to improve my life by aiming higher, as I am now in a worse situation as income has reduced to what it was before or worse than before I moved and my home is not as good.

Many are in social housing because private rents or buying a house is out of the reach of a sizable proportion of the population.

If you are going to be moved out in as little as two years or be constantly checked on, you could understand people not investing in the property as many tenants do now...quite often in this day and age a tenant will even take on some of the repairs themselves rather than calling in the Landlord. They will take pride in a garden should they have one.

Why would anyone carpet a building and put in furnishings if they have to leave within a couple of years especially as chances are the new property will be too snall to take everything with you and those moving in probably will throw out what you leave behind.

I could quite understand people saying why should I bother?

Could this be a subtle way of keeping some of the population working and in low paid jobs?

Plans have been announced in Parliament today but other stories have been given greater priority by the media and again this story came out on Saturday(a day that rarely sees a lot of discussion on anything political such news tends to get hidden or ignored)

It's very important and should not be ignored.

(Ireland's economic crises leads all news on radio and TV)

I suspect they'll go through on the nod because of the majority the coalition has.

The only lucky thing is that existing tenants will be unaffected...so they say.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation.

"It's difficult to imagine a more powerful disincentive to do well than the threat of losing your home if you start earning too much. We must ensure that this does not happen. People need the stability and security of a safe home."

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter is quoted as saying...

"From Shelter's 40 years of experience in dealing with those in housing need we know that very few people go from homeless to self-sufficient within two years. The proposal for a minimum of this period shows the government's naivety in how quickly people are able to get back on their feet, and we urge them to reconsider this in favour of at least a five-year minimum."

Charities Condemn Changes

I just did a limited search of private property available on my town that I would call decent(there is very little available the same few properties keep coming up whichever website you look at)or any in an acceptable area(2 bedrooms)and the average is £125 a week(compared to an area like London that's pretty good)but still in comparison with wages and work around here a lot to find and on top of the rent there is Council Tax.

If you find property at lower price this may be offset because it's in an out of the way location and savings will be lost because of what it costs to travel anywhere.

Your wage allowing for the other things you need such as heating, electric, gas, travel to and from work, food etc...you'd need to be earning quite an amount. I'm not talking about luxuries either. The average wage is said to be £500 a week not around here it isn't.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Who Takes Notice Of The Voters?

I am having a clear out of loads of rubbish that has built up over the years...lots of old documents and newspapers etc...

How things change! I found a local free sheet showing a shop closing down in that horrible monstrosity you can see in the previous entry where it is being demolished...it's dated 2003 so that gives you an idea how long it's been empty.

The headlines alongside that story says that Sommerfield that was on our town for 24 years(a supermarket)will stay to compete against a new Tesco's supermarket that was being opened.

Before that it had been on the same site as other supermarkets but it was always there.

Guess what...they did not stay.

Tesco's earlier last month opened an even larger outlet 7 miles away from my town.

Another story...

Numerous times politicians tried to persuade the population to say yes to a unitary council and get rid of the various councils around various parts of the UK. This idea was usually instigated by the Government at the time.

I have found another free sheet from 2007 and it shows a group of councillors on Parliament Green in London who had travelled from across the UK and again the headline and statistics shout out "Voters say no to Unitary Council!"

Guess what...we are now governed by a Unitary Council.

A few years ago it was proposed that social housing stock should be transferred to a kind of housing association/charity...again, the local people did not want this to happen or the information supplied was not as clear as it should've been...

You guessed it...the housing stock was transferred.

Democracy in action...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


This eyesore was erected approx 30 years ago and was meant to house small retailers but it was rarely full, for the size and strange design I'm not sure why it was so large. It was made in very dark brick which never really survived the weather, no one could ever call it beautiful.

Where it was built it blocked the view of those working in the Health Centre and Library and in time even they ended up in a very dilapidated state. The building managed to split the town's shopping area in two.

For years it has been empty and we have been promised that it would be demolished. It has been a good home to many pigeons who took up residence.

Many of the town's shops problems have been caused by the fact that it was taken over by a London company who ran it as though it was based in the affluent South and many local retailers have been unhappy about the rents charged and sometimes they have found it cheaper to move to neighbouring towns or close altogether. We have some national retailers but not many(some of them have given up)but it's probably the seven or eight national names that keep the place ticking over...them and the banks, estate agents, betting shops, charity shops.

We did get two large retailers in the last 3-4 years but they are built next to the older part of the shopping area so they tend to take business also away from the older area where these shops are.

If they manage to join up the two parts so they are less isolated maybe it will become successful again.

Finally approx 10 -12 weeks ago action finally took place but it was delayed for some weeks because of some problem over gas mains.

At last as it goes...we are promised a new cut price supermarket on the site when cleared and that it will be more pleasing on the eye. I rarely use such terms but I do not believe that "anyone" will be sorry to see this go.

There is still quite a large piece of the building to be brought down.

A Little Trivia...

For many years I have thought how nice it might be to have something a little Christmassy around Christmas.

Being only the two of us, we haven't bothered too much with decorations but I have seen plates with Christmas designs on which I though would brighten up Christmas Dinner and have never got around to buying any so yesterday I saw the following and bought them.

I only purchased enough for the two of us and if any should get broken we will be short but as they will only come out a few times each year, I could not see the point of buying too many.

However, I think when December arrives I may use them over the month and get a decent use out of them.

With all the doom and gloom and worries of how the future may pan out we need something to brighten things up.

I can imagine one day me being alone sitting in a poky flat trying to have a Christmas and still using some of these for myself.

Christmas can be a happy time but also a very sad time for some and I can understand why some find this time of year difficult to get through.

Next year we have the census again(I hate filling forms in)My Father used to take care of that but I remember doing the last two...However, there is another survey being planned I am unsure how it's going to be collected...whether a survey will pop through the door, whether people will stop you in the street or maybe it will be added to the Census.

In these hard times our Prime Minister has been saying what a wonderful Country this still is...and he wants to know how happy we all feel and how our well being is.

The idea has not gone down very well for many reasons I am sure you can work out for yourself not least how much this exercise will cost when we are all tightening our belts ourselves or because it is being forced upon many of the population.

Superficially I think we are happy but if we look too deeply into the future I am sure many will be saying no, it's just that at present the harsh reality still has not hit home and most of these changes will start to come in early in the New Year.

Unless something unexpected happens I am determined to have as good a festive season as we possibly can...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Death By A Thousand Cuts...

I am in the process of replacing a cooker that is just about on it's last legs(like many things around here)As I was about to consider ordering one and having it delivered I discovered after a lot of rain this week and I am talking a lot, the door to the passage that runs along the side of the house refused to open because it had swollen. I started to think what a good job I had not actually ordered it as the delivery guys would've got it to our door and found they could get no further.

I have to get the cooker soon as the year is nearly out and who can cook a Christmas meal in a microwave? I have been struggling with a microwave for ages as the cooker's oven and grill no longer work. So unless you want to boil or fry something...that's it!

I have been so surprised and grateful of the microwave but equally it is so disappointing sometimes seeing something you fancy in the supermarket and then to find it cannot be cooked in the microwave.

I have treated myself to a slow cooker after hearing so many good things about them(but as yet I haven't decided what to cook in it or when it will be used)but as it was on offer I don't feel that I have lost out on buying it.

I digress...

Today, I had the door fixed(well, I hope that we have)and in passing I was talking to a young lad(teenager really)he's been looking for work but ended up at Technical college(I didn't ask which course he's been on)but he's been looking for work and said it has been the most difficult thing he has ever done so he has decided to go into the armed forces.

I'm not going to get into whether war is just, whether recent events can be justified, in hindsight many of the wars of the past might be seen as wrong but at the time perhaps that was the mindset, today with all the media scrutiny questions are asked whilst war is taking place.

Strange this should come up as we approach Remembrance Day here in the UK and the Commonwealth.

Now, the British Army is either caught up in so many wars, conflicts or helping in other ways across the World perhaps when a natural disaster takes place there is the danger of being over stretched.

And this was brought home today whilst talking with this person...he applied to two Regiments and they are taking no one on at all.

I forget which one he has now applied to but he has been accepted after waiting ages to hear whether he was successful. He was telling me that they are only accepting recruits four times per year and on this particular occasion they have accepted only twenty five from across the country. The reason being the cuts to the services.

Twenty Five!

I can remember the ads on the radio and TV and in all the newspapers(and the personal appearances at public events)and places on the high street where you could call in and sign up. Of course war and defence work is the main reason but the promotional slant was it was a way to learn a skill.

We both said the truth is the money isn't there to support the services so they are either going to have to reduce their overall numbers and the only way more will be recruited is as others leave or sadly replace those who come home disabled, in pieces or body bags. So they are replacing like for like.

I praise his courage and determination(but I suspect the economic situation and the plans being forced on the country have played their part)

I'm sure his parents are proud but must they be worried. I guess though you always care for your children you have to allow them to make their own way.

I might've surprised myself once but with all my health problems I doubt I could have really ever seen myself running around with a rifle and a backpack even in the days of National Service which this country once had.

Thankfully, I was born after that was stopped. I am sure that it does make a Man or Woman out of many but I think I would've been the kind that would've been bullied.

I'm not sure if Conscription was re-introduced the Country could afford to run such a scheme these days.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

You Cannot Put A Cigarette Paper Between Them...

So now we know...

All of the main political parties in the UK are singing from the same hymn sheet.

Just that some are going further or faster with the changes that will hurt the vulnerable, elderly or sick.

I have read a speech given by a member of the shadow government...they back most of the policies being planned by the coalition...just that they would have progressed their plan of action over a longer period of time.

The only new thing I came across in the news earlier today as an aside is that where we have been hearing about Housing Benefit being reduced(one of many changes planned)as soon as possible and the shadow government are holding a debate in Parliament on on Tuesday(without a majority I am not sure what will be gained)

We now discover that by the next election if the same political scene exists...it is hoped that HB will be phased out altogether...which is even worse than the reduction everyone is going on about. This has not been mentioned much at all.

If the losers of the previous election are voted in again...I can predict laws passed will remain and not be repealed and the new government will blame the previous one and they will be able to say we had nothing to do with it!

To some extent that has always happened but never more so then now.

The more I know, the more disillusioned and depressed I become.


This story is so silly you might have difficulty believing it!

The Irish Government has been going through similar problems as the rest of the world and after a period where it was doing very well economically compared to many countries it has found itself in serious debt and trying to turn around a very bad situation. Like many countries the poor have been hit the hardest.

Now, it appears they are about to announce even more cuts running into millions perhaps billions in a budget next month.

Its been reported on the radio news today(and I have heard it a few times so it must be true...)

The Irish Government is buying 53 tons of cheese and they are going to set up collection points around the country and distribute to the population for free.

Yes, they are giving away free cheese. Of course anything free will be snapped up especially by the elederly, vulnerable and sick but how this helps anyone I am at a loss.

As yet I have not heard if it is available to everybody or just certain sections of the population and how far 53 tons will go and how much each person/family will be given. Ireland has population of approx 6.2 Million.

It has to be one of the strangest stories I have come across in a long time.

Update:It does appear the cheese is going to given to who is deemed as needy and the idea has received an angry reaction from many. I cannot say that I am surprised.

Let Them Eat Cheese

For different reasons in the distant recesses of my mind I remember many years ago the population of the UK being given free cheese and butter and it was connected to over production of certain foods within what was then called the Common Market(now the European Market)

I think it only happened once in the UK but I think other European countries did it quite a few times. I thought we had some but as a friend of mine suggested it might've been pensioners who were given the Butter and Cheese(perhaps we collected it on behalf of my Grandma)and had to show her pension book to get it!

In the end some countries just dumped their butter etc...no doubt that has been done with other foods that are surplus to needs, that just seems so wrong!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Major Emergency In My Town...

The day a big story breaks and the BBC has a 48 hour journalists strike so many of the news programmes normally available on radio, television on the BBC Website are severely curtailed or stopped altogether.

Though locally, they did manage to put some information out locally where a number of stations were sharing the same output.

It really came down to watching and listening to commercial TV and Radio.

I cannot place the building concerned. The town's Industrial Estate is not an area I have had need to visit very often.

Over the years the housing area and industrial are has kind of merged or become very close to each other as land is at a premium.

We have some very large chemical factories literally across the road from houses.

Which from a safety point of view and even aesthetically seems a strange thing to do.

Luckily, I'm tempted to say the largest such factory was not involved today though it was bad enough. You could still see smoke(more like steam) at Midnight, I assume that was the result of firefighters called from across most of the North East directing water onto the fire and cooling down all contents and building scorched by fire and heat all day trying to avoid it spreading to surrounding units.

I had happened to look out of the landing window at 1pm and saw what looked like dark clouds coming over and mentioned to Mum it looked like we were going to get another wet afternoon.

Later on, Mum was looking out the same window and she said "Look at all this smoke!" And then we realised it was something different and we could hear what sounded like thunder(that would be all the little explosions going off inside the warehouse)

Where we are we could not see the factory nor any flames that only became apparent after seeing local tv news, reading reports on the local newspapers website and what was described on the radio.

We knew it was bad though and it looked much worse than these images suggest.

The only good thing is that few if any of those working there have been hurt but at this difficult time economically there will quite a few people worried about how they are going to pay the bills and looking for work as of next week.

You Tube Video

The Northern Echo

Northern Echo Article Two

Northern Echo Article Three