Sunday, August 02, 2009

Jelly babies and the Beeb.

The photos above are a bit of belated photo journalism; I had intended to publish them last week when they would have been rather more timely and relevant, but the lorry crashing into my garden and that of four of my neighbours rather focused my attention at the time. The photos show EDF engineers undertaking repairs to the cable bridge in Dartford, where the fire that caused so much disruption and prolonged power cuts to the whole area started. The photographs were taken by Erith resident Derek Laver, and passed onto me by neighbour and now honorary Captain Tweed special agent, Earl. Now that power has been permanently restored, EDF are proving somewhat ungenerous in their offers of compensation. Under their terms most Erith residents will not be able to claim to paltry £50 token payment offered. Personally I am not going to demean myself by making a claim - it is patently clear from the correspondence I have received from them that they don't intend to pay. The delights of privatised utility companies I suppose. Still no definite information about the exact circumstances of the electrical cable fire, and consequently rumours abound; I have heard a number of differing stories, which range from the claim that two men broke into the cable bridge in order to steal the high voltage copper cable therein; according to one source, one man was electrocuted and died pretty much instantly, whilst the other lost an arm and is under guard in a local hospital. Another, rather more fanciful theory is that it was the first direct action by the Northumberland Heath branch of Al Qaeda. Time, as they say, will tell.

News Shopper article

The photo above shows a copy of the article that was printed in this weeks' News Shopper local paper about the incident with the lorry that I reported last week. The online version is somewhat more verbose, and can be read here. Online photo credits go to both Crash Calloway and myself to a lesser extent. I have been getting quite a lot of traffic on my Flickr photo site - to take a look, please click here. Suffice to say that the driver of the lorry went to court on Monday and was fined a paltry £75 with £45 costs, and eight points added to his licence. In my opinion he would have been boiled in oil in any decently ordered society. My badly damaged garden fence and gate has been speedily removed and replaced with a splendid, bespoke timber creation, complete with a new powder coated wrought iron gate. It cost a small fortune to have the work carried out - especially at such short notice, but the end result is very satisfactory - so much better than buying a few pre - fabricated fence panels from somewhere like B&Q. It does go to show that the British craftsman is still alive and well, just so long as you keep him liberally supplied with steaming mugs of tea. I have elected to pay the bill out of my own pocket, rather than claiming on my house insurance, as I don't want my premium to shoot up, as it is wont to do after a claim. I would estimate that the total cost of the lorry crash to the local residents and their insurance companies, including the writing off of a parked car must be in excess of £17,000 - a lot of damage to incur only a £75 fine. I know several claims adjusters have been visiting neighbours, and a few very shady looking "workmen" have been offering to carry out remedial work - personally the ones I have seen have been extremely dodgy looking, and liable to disappear as soon as any money was exchanged.

The current warm but damp weather seems to have brought out a very rare specimen - the elderly gent wearing baggy "It ain't half hot Mum" era shorts. Yesterday, within a space of no more than five minutes, I saw seven such blokes flaunting their pale, scrawny and varicosed legs, probably seeing the light of day for the first time since the Korean War. Not a pretty, or indeed dignified sight to behold. Personally I feel that there are absolutely no circumstances when I would wear shorts; they are an utter anathema to me.

Another object worthy of a rant is the humble hot air hand drier, as found in many a pub toilet. Nowadays they seem to have been strangled to an output power of around 400 watts, and have all the hand drying abilities of an asthmatic badger - about all they do is move the water round a little, and one ends up wiping your hands on your trousers, as typically no paper towels will be available. Pub landlords - either turn up the wick on your hand dryers to old time levels of oomph, or replace them with disposable towels.

I am of the opinion that within a few short years, the only apparel one will be permitted to wear will be the (already almost ubiquitous) high visibility jacket. Wherever I go I am confronted with people wearing them for multifarious reasons - everything from your bog standard highway worker to every single child in a school party on a visit to Greenwich that I encountered on the train a couple of weeks ago. The "hi vis" jacket is becoming a victim of its' own celebrity - who after all notices them any more? The whole point seems to have become lost. Perhaps railway workers will wear beige in future, in order to stand out in an eye - watering sea of neon yellow and fluorescent orange.

On Thursday evening Mum, Ian and I attended the recording of this weeks' edition of the topical BBC Radio 4 Comedy programme The Now Show. Before the start, audience members were asked to fill in a short questionnaire asking if we had anything that had frightened us as a child, what caused the fright, and what we did about it. I sat in the outer lounge of the BBC Radio Theatre and had a bit of a think - as a topical comedy show, they were patently not looking for an in depth psychological analysis, rather something that would make people laugh. My answers were as follows:

"What were you scared of when you were young?" Jelly Babies.

"Why?" I hated the way they stared at me.

"How did you get over it?" I ate their eyes first.

Amazingly, this got a really good laugh when Hugh Dennis read my submission out, and I got more of a surprise when it made the edit, and was broadcast towards the end of the transmitted show! Maybe this is my first tentative foray into script writing?

The video clip this week is from a group who are trying to restore the Red Sands tower (an abandoned Maunsell fort in the River Thames Estuary) to working condition. The clip explains what he towers are, and what the restoration group are setting out to achieve.

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