Friday, 30 September 2011

Dressing to the right



Last week, finally conceding defeat in the long battle between Lidl detergent and dried tikka masala, dear , dear Mrs T decided it was time that I spruce up my winter wardrobe. Seems she has been feeling the style pressure from all those Elle-McPherson-ish ‘yummy mummies’ who appear at the school run. On the occasions I do drop the twins off at St Cakes, I have found that the local MILFs give me an extremely wide berth indeed.

Nevertheless, Mrs T has insisted we both need to make more of an effort. On Saturday I was dispatched to my local M&S with strict orders to splash out on shirt, slacks and new cardigan. I know what I  like, and have always been fond of a smart short-sleeve cotton polyester mix shirt and find its simple modern style complements its quick drying, non- ironing characteristics so expected to be in and out in a jiffy. Alas, the inevitable happened and I was sidetracked -and spend far too long salivating and masticating in -the Food Halls of Britain's favorite store. I did come home with a bargain XXXL pant and vest set, though. Apparently, having tried them on,  this was obligatory.

It seems I am not the only one that is interested in jazzing myself up. My Uncle Eric appeared on BBC breakfast news today looking very dapper but bleating on about bins again.. Whilst he looked smart, he sounded far from it, and seemed to get very confused between terms like ‘millions’ and ‘billions ‘and ‘refuge’ and ‘refuse’. It seems appearance really is as important as substance these days. In the IT dungeon at Eland House we are forever debating who styles Kate Middleton and were beside ourselves with excitement to see what frock Miriam would sport at the LibDems thingy that happened recently. And don’t get me going on the fragrant SamCam!
 
I know many in Local Government have wondered about Uncle Eric and his grooming. Well, a source close to his Private Office informs me that young dandy Nick Sheridan-Westlake has been acting as Uncle Eric's personal Gok Wan over the last few weeks to ensure that he doesn’t look too common when standing next to those well groomed ex-public school boys in Manchester next week. I hear Uncle Eric and Nick enjoy nothing better than an evening of dressing each other, and chuckling at the young SPaD’s  “it’s all about the conf-er-ence, girlfriend!” impression.  Fingers crossed that this little Gok does not encourage Uncle E to appear naked at a fashion show in Cardinal Place shopping centre.

The real challenge for Nick is styling the great man in such a way that he looks slimmer than the not–so-size-zero reality, while keeping his proven ability to appear somewhat crumpled and dishevelled in check.  I’m sure Uncle E wouldn’t want to end up squeezing in beneath GQ Magazine’s 4th worst dressed man in the Britain, Boris Johnson.
 

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Dangerous Liaisons





According to a highly qualified civil engineer that I know, the rumours that the planned rebuilding of Victoria Street are not due to subsidence caused by an excess of weight on the 4th floor of Eland House. There had been a fear that the sharp shift to right combined with the increasing mass has caused some major structural damage to the area. It does appear the danger has been partly offset by massive production of recent hot air which has released some seismic pressure. Whilst my concerns have been abated by my engineering friend, I was subsequently frightened by another friend who is a cosmologist. She described the situation where a massive inert mass collapses in on itself sucking in everything, including light, evidence, decency and ethics. This is truly scary, perhaps when cuddly celebrity astrologer Russell Grant is freed up from his turn on Strictly Come Dancing he will care to comment upon the chances of this cosmological catastrophe – I don’t think we will have to wait long.

Obvious the big plans for knocking down and rebuilding a large part of Victoria Street will cause some problems for existing tenants. It does appear that one particular organisation does have some fairly well developed (but secret – so shh!) plans. After Westminster Council have managed to sack a large number of pen-pushing enemies of enterprise, the remainder are going to shack up with us lot in Eland House. Not exactly a case of sleeping with the enemy but more a dangerous incestuous liaison I think.

So what are the plans for the rebuilt Victoria Street? Not sure but we could do with a new Greggs, there is only so many times staff can be expected to dine at Nandos. Come on Uncle Eric see if you can pull your weight and get us a lovely new bakery serving sugary buns and sausage rolls.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Slow moving target





Unlike my Uncle Eric heading his trolley towards the confectionery aisle in Asda, I have so far steered away from temptation of commenting upon the recent riots that blighted our beautiful city. Lots of folk have put forward their views on why it happened and how it can be prevented from occurring again. Some of the views put forward suggest a breakdown in the moral order which can only be restored by a reintroduction National Service. What I think would help would be a reintroduction of the National Indicator Set. I know in my day we had a firm but fair set of Best Value Performance Indicators that were thoroughly collected from all local government organisations and respected far and wide. These were replaced with a more diverse set of National Indicators that were in their infancy before being snuffed out by evil Eric. Each local authority had explicit targets to meet and anyone was able to hold them to account when they failed to meet their targets or perform worse than their peers. The indicators were not perfect but they gave a clear idea on how councils, fire service and police forces were performing annually.

Well when Uncle Eric came to power he decided to get rid of the National Indicator Set. There had been many critics of specific indicators but few could argue that it was necessary to have a set of performance data that allowed comparison between councils and over time. Further, Uncle Eric has gone down a populous (and ignorant) course where he has decried targets in general as being useless - perhaps they are with respect to his diet plan. He argues that he wishes to free councils to pursue their objectives unhindered from centrally controlled diktats from Whitehall but now has destroyed the one objective tool that could be used to challenge the performance of councils.

I remember the day that Uncle Eric arrived in Eland House and I weep. We all gathered to hear the great man speak. His first words were 'Localism, localism, localism' - or that is what I thought he said - it is with hindsight that I realise that he actually said 'Tokenism, tokenism, tokensim'. Uncle Eric is not keen to free councils to make their own choices he is simply keen to destroy any evidence base so that effect of his crass actions can not be monitored and for him to be help to account.

Uncle Eric says he is against targets though ironically he makes a big and slow moving one himself. Uncle Eric has called for an Army of Armchair Auditors but has dismantled their weaponry. This army of armchair auditors is about as effective the Libyan rebel troops without Nato air strikes. If Uncle Eric is serious about armchair auditing he needs to arm these shock troops - but I fear he knows this army would soon turn their guns on him and expose his ideological dismantling of local government services and inequitable funding across the country. He claims he likes a war but he doesn't like it up 'im.


Here is my latest FoI request:

Dear Chums

Given Uncle Eric Pickles aversion to targets. Can you please confirm that DCLG staff will no longer have to submit annual performance targets or objectives and that staff will no longer be monitored against any existing targets and be awarded pay increase in future just because they are lovely.

You're in my crosshairs

Derek

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Belt Up





I had a bit of a shock recently. I stood on the bathroom scales and at seeing the reading I first thought they must have been upside down. Surely that is suppose to say 68 not 89kg? I know I tucked away a few extra donuts whilst on holiday but really. Well that was a wake-up call and I was determined to do something about it.

When I returned to Eland House I decided that I should get involved with the most active sports club that DCLG has. So last week with some trepidation I headed deep down to the basement and enquired about joining the infamous but highly secretive darts team.  I met a great group of guys but sadly I was only there for 5 minutes before I felt a little deflated after some small prick burst my trusty spacehopper; that is the danger of the game. I think I need to find a more gentle sport… how about bowls  as supported by Uncle Eric (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/aug/30/eric-pickles-communities-bowling-greens ) -  maybe we can knock down Eland House a replace it with a lush bowling green?
Anyway back to darts -the best thing about the arrowsmen was their desire for bevvy. Now that is the sport I enjoy, nearly as much as their unofficial anthem which was sung many times during the evening: ‘Wherever I lay Grant Shapps that’s my home’ .

Talking of homes, it seems Uncle Eric and his band of merry Ministers are managing anger all sides with the new guidelines on planning for building new homes. Recently Grant Shapps, a man who could either politely be described as a creative thinker or less politely as a loon, came up with the incredible suggestion that the housing crisis could be solved with more people living on houseboats on Britain’s canals (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14690157).  Apart from the obvious difficulties and dangers for old people, children and disabled – one thing that he did not address is what all the houseboat residents are going do with all their poo?!  Surely they cannot just throw it over than side of their narrow boat with the rest of their rubbish – think of the fishes man!

It seems to some that Uncle Eric would be happy to pave over the green belt or at least put in under serious threat. No surprise there as he is constantly putting belts under strain – you just have to look at the tensile stress on his 48inch Kevlar reinforced suit belt. If that belt snaps the whiplash could cause a major incident across half of Victoria and structural damage to nearby buildings.

DCLG recently published a Myth Busting webpage on National Planning Policy Framework (which I cannot be bothered to link too as it is dull). I thought I may be able to help out with a few extra ideas that could help with the housing crisis.

1.       Grant Shapps could open up the East Wing of his multi-million mansion and allow 30 families to live comfortably (after all he aint going to be hit by a mansion tax any time soon)
2.       Uncle Eric could allow a young couple to live in his Jaguar and he could get his rubber knickers on and take a Boris Bike for the short journey from the train station.
3.       As DCLG do not seem to be keen to reduce rubbish going to landfill they could adopt a strategy where the landfill sites are opened for the homeless to live there. It was good enough for Stig of the Dump in the 1970s so time to reintroduce the idea.
4.       Once the Tories have privatised the NHS completely then the hospitals could be turned over to act as cheap hostels. They could almost describe the beds as en-suite assuming the bed pans are still in place.
5.       Encourage Channel  5 to host a 10 year long Big Brother and lock away same fame hungry idiots with Kerry Katona
6.       Host a year long festival with free camping where D:Eric and Dominoes promise to play the next night but always have to cancel. The crowds will be massive and will stay I guarantee.

Friday, 2 September 2011

That's not my name


At last a summers evening and the chance to crank the walkman up to 11 for the train journey home . Oh and what a treat tonight as I packed a C90 with some the Ting Tings on. This got me tapping my foot and jigging slightly as the train headed out of Waterloo East.



Four letter word just to get me along
It's a difficulty and I'm biting on my tongue and uh
I keep stalling, and keeping me together
People around gotta find something to say now..

They call me Nicky
They call me Nicholas
They call me her
They call me Nick

That's not my name

It is as if it was written for our pal Nick Sheridan-Westlake. Such a nice name.

Funny thing names - It seems some people want to be known by one name whilst others call them something else entirely. For example I have heard Uncle Eric Pickles being called all sorts of things by his staff.

Now it seems DCLG are keen to block requests for information from the growing army of armchair auditors, especially one relating to their infamously costly (and hardly visited) barrier busting website – I am not including the link any longer as it just doubles their traffic.

DCLG have decided to block what appear to be legitimate requests from Amy Fisher and Mr Jones. Strangely they seem to have responded to Ms Fisher on various requests but decided to block her and question her identity when she started sniffing around the Barrier Busting website  (see: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/user/amy_fisher)…. I wonder why? I am sure if you are a budding Armchair Auditor there may be things that you want to know how your hard earned taxes were spent on this website. If so get a request in, you never know what you may find out!

All a bit fishy that DCLG have so far just asked requestors to confirm their identity when they started asking questions are the Barrier Busting website but seem to be happy to respond to anything else unless it from me ;(

Also good news. It is reassuring to see this has been picked up the hard working indefatigable investigate journalist Ruth Keeling, at the Local Government Chronicle (see http://www.lgcplus.com/topics/transparency/dclg-resorts-to-identity-checks-to-stall-vexatious-foi-requests/5034172.article)