Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Not Yet Nigel

Week commencing Monday 3rd September 2012
What a start to the week,  the No 62 Bus was 20minutes late. I was just getting to the “fidgety looking at my watch” stage when it trundled past on the way down to Cross Green. I glared at the bus whilst raising my wrist and stabbing repeatedly at my watch, and although he clearly saw me he did not even register 0.5 on the bus drivers scale of passenger disdain. So I did the only thing one can do in such circumstances – I swore at him, casting serious doubts on both his sexuality AND parentage; even though by this time he was 100metres down the road – (it’s the thought that counts and I said it with such feeling too).
 Eventually stomped into work at 9.15am and fortunately nobody seemed to care and / or notice. In that respect I am lucky that in my department we are not a set of clock watchers. As long as you do your hours and obviously don’t miss meetings the management are very relaxed.  After a morning of work I went to Bridgewater Buckies and met my friend Pippa Sharp of Pippas Pantry fame to collect some cupcake toppers I had commissioned for a friends birthday bash. Commissioned  - doesn’t that sound posh? In reality i was too lazy, busy, incompetent *delete which is inappropriate,  to make them myself and after promising  to assist in making a cupcake tower for a friend at the COVEN Cupcake Book Club for a secret birthday do and having a looming deadline, I asked Pippa if she could essentially bail me out, which she did admirably and at mates rates, ha ha!
In the evening I dropped them off at Susans so she could add them to the buns she was making (which after the icing and toppers are added will  be transformed from humble buns to magnificent cupcakes) and after a quick coffee and conversation around the underwear folding incident I had been party to the day before (nope I am not explaining “its complicated”)   I went home and indulged in the sheer luxury of getting home before 10pm (well for about ten minutes) and then I was bored senseless.

Busy day today  - so need to be super organised.  As a miracle occurs and the bus arrives on time I jump off at Leeds Kirkgate Market and do a spot of shopping prior to going to work. A pork chop, lambs steak, 3 bunches of coriander, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots and a butternut squash later ,I hop back on a bus and get to the train station stop.
I did very well and remembered to put the meat in the works kitchen fridge and stick the rest under my desk – the smell of coriander rises up and for the rest of the day my end of the office is distinctly herby and fragrant.      
As I have two meetings this evening Friends Of Kirkgate Market and The COVEN Cupcake Bookclub I am super organised and leave work at 5pm sharp and nip to Costco to get some nibbles for the book club.     The trouble with Costco is everything is so BIG. So I end up buying a kilo bag of tortilla chips, some dips to go with them, a huge punnet of blue berries and some amaretti biscuits.   The blue berries will be scoffed over a period of a few days as I am really into trying to eat foods of different colours at the moment – nice orange butternut squash, yellow sweetcorn, red beetroot and nice green broccoli all feature in my meals these days. Chuck in the blue berries, nice brown chocolate and clear gin and tonic and that’s what I call a balanced diet!    
Onward to Friends of Kirkgate Market and oh the shame I arrive late and most of the meeting  is over. I  get there just in time for  a nice glass or two of fruity cider with ice.  After an hour it is onward to the bookclub at the Spring Close Tavern where we are having both a discussion about the book Shades of Grey and a surprise birthday party for Warren who is the grand old age of 47- but he actually looks in his mid 30s the lucky git.
The conversation around the allegedly mucky book shades of grey is decidedly lack lustre now we have all read it – it was an easy read, very uncomplicated and disappointingly tame. I am not sure what I was expecting and I am most certainly not widely read but it seemed just like a book you would read on holiday whilst soaking up both sun and gin simultaneously. A bit of a page turner in places, and cheap so it doesn’t matter if it gets soggy in the pool.  I suspect it will be coming to a charity shop near you soon. (well thats where my copy is going anyway).
After bookclub and repeated attempts to force people to eat tortilla chips I come home clutching at least  800grammes of the dratted things.  Put perishables in fridge and am in bed in minutes and probably snoring like  pig in ten.

Woke up to find cherry tomatoes all over the floor – I may be having rabbit pie for tea!!!!!
After cheering wildly on discovering Andrew Landsley had been removed from his position as Health Secretary I sink into a deep depression when the new one  Jeremy Hunt is announced.
Hunt the Cunt in charge of the NHS – I am going to cry
Took the tortilla chips to work and left the packet casually open near my desk - ..........
Had a very interesting chat with a bloke called Walter Awah at 5pm  about his group Organisation for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation. Based in Cross Green Walter is a trained mediator who wants to work with young people and communities to aim to a) prevent crime and b) try and get  people to be reconciled with offenders so they can move on together to make a better community for them both. I love the idea but I am not sure it will work well in Cross Green where most people would I suspect prefer bits of offenders nailing on posts on the “village green” rather than have a group hug and  move forward.  But I suggest Walter uses the open forum at the inner east tomorrow to bring his concept to the attention of the local councillors.
I am still munching my way through  the tortilla chips.........................  700grammes to go.
Get email  from fireman present who is in London on union business – George Mudie MP wants a word. Suggest to fireman present next time he has coffee with George it might be easier to meet in Asda at Killingbeck instead of the houses of parliament. Email floats in saying  ....when in Rome!!!  No doubt I will get to meet him in Asda ........
Thursday was in work terms distinctly mundane, but as this evening is the inner east area committee I am whilst working  I am checking over my questions for Station Commander Kirk – aka Big Nige’.   Nigel has taken over from Tony Head at Gipton Fire Station and is presenting his annual report tonight to the committee. I’m ready for this – if there is one thing I have learnt since last October is that the fire service would know a decent, honest and truthful set of figures if they were set alight in front of them.  “Creative” doesn’t quite do them justice.  Nigel I do not doubt knows me by reputation and as we are sat virtually opposite each other he keeps giving me sideways glances.(rumours abound that Tony Head  being removed from Gipton was my fault, which is probably true).   He is not called Big Nige’ for nothing as he has to sit diagonally across the table to be comfy, he also has the biggest man bag with him I have ever seen, perhaps there are a couple fire extinguishers in there just in case of emergencies.
After he has presented his report it is blatantly clear none of the councillors have read it properly. 46% of houses still do not have smoke alarms and Nigel has  calculated his figures from June 11 – July 12 when the risk plans for Leeds run from April to March and the way they figures are presented have changed too. Nobody mentions the fact that house fires in Seacroft are on the rise ........... And he hasn’t  presented figures on Safety Critical Risk Information which is a key  factor in the plans to reduce Giptons risk from very high to high. And the thing that got me most angry ---- There is another fire station in the inner east area – STANKS – no figures, no report and nobody mentions it.  Anyway I am allowed to ask Nigel two measly questions and then the chair shuts me up, so I say that’s fine I will email the rest  to him, Nigel visibly winces. Cllr Brian Selby suggests I copy the councillors in and Nigel can then hit reply all. As I am not the community representative I am not sure why I should do this, I pay for those councillors to do a job and if they don’t do it why should I help them out. 
Nigel  dutifully hands me over his email address and adds his mobile number – handy as the next time Gipton take nearly ten mins to turn out to a binyard fire I shall be texting him, regardless of the time of day asking where the hell they are  (which will no doubt please fireman present as he got the stream of text abuse the last time it happened at 11.30 in the evening and it frees him from the immediate line of fire)
Just one more thing about the inner east – without discussion, without even a word they approve giving £525 towards a set of glorified fairy lights outside Crossgates Library at Christmas. Why ? Crossgates is outer east, they should pay for their own bleeding fairy lights!
After the inner east we  leave sharpish as being in a room with a load of labour councillors is akin to being a pork chop at a jewish wedding. What they don’t understand is I  am against them because over the past five years I have stuck to my word and them every last one of them has since coming into power changed their election  and committee promises.  I am glad to leave as to be honest I feel ill in their company, they are tainted and its not a nice smell to be around at all.

Friday is D day, or more rightly IRMP day.  The fire authority today announce their plans to further massacre fire cover in west Yorkshire. I send good luck email to fire present who I know will be there to listen, crossing my  fingers whilst pressing send as an extra precaution. Anyway once it is all announced we will swing into action and start informing people of the truth, increased call out times, less engines, significantly reduced cover. The statutory consultation period lasts three months so from now until November 30th  we are all going to be very very busy indeed.
At about four thirty an email floats in from fireman present, about some consultation stuff we are proposing to do. The email conversation gets round to him being interviewed by Look North this morning. I ask if it was Joe Inwood who did it  , as he was involved  in interviewing us both last year. Trying to explain who Joe was to a female would have been easy – to a bloke it’s impossible so in the end I go to Joes facebook page download his picture and then email it over. The snappy answer soon floats back    “yeah thats him....he's gorgeous isn't he....i couldn't concentrate when he was asking me questions” . Regardless of our backs being against the wall on several occasions my fireman present has never lost the ability to make me howl with laughter. I just hope in the next three months he manages to hang on to his sense of humour as I think we are going to need it.
Anyway its all agreed we are setting up a joint COVEN / Fire Brigades Union  blog to campaign against the cuts in fire cover and more importantly we agree that every person who opposes the cuts who we have a name and address for will be told after the fire authority what their local councillor voted – thats transparency for you, as well we both know from experience councillors have more faces than a town hall clock but only one vote. Before  logging off and going home for the evening explain to fireman present the poem about Simon Pilling has already got 50 hits on the COVEN blog and its only been on a couple of hours. Have a read its very funny...   Ode to Simon Pilling  
Home for 6pm but  had to pop in to Marks and Spencers on the way home to buy a litre of milk and some red wine..............its been a long day.


Woke early and full of beans so of course it was Saturday.  Was out at Leeds Kirkgate Market for 9am with Nancy in tow. Well if I am being accurate she’s Nancy the 5th my  trusty shopping trolley who trundles faithfully behind me at the market most Saturdays. Why my shopping trolley is called Nancy is another story but if I am ever  famous enough to warrant being interviewed on desert island discs she just might be might my luxury item, shopping trolleys are sooooo useful!
The only trouble with Nancy is she makes me buy things that are unnecessary, but I am sure the three cucumbers for 50p  that she convinced me were a bargain will come in useful for something  (don’t know about you but I am visualising a councillor bending over at this point). As the sun is belting down and it is obviously going to be a scorching day I decided to make a nice warming casserole !!! and buy 2lbs shin beef from BJ Callards my butcher,,,,,,,,,  I also buy a sea bass from my favourite fishmonger R. Bethells  and after the young lady waggled its shiny little carcass in my face and asked  “is this one big enough?”  - I hastily request  it to be filleted. After the accusing and indignant look that piscine cadaver gave me I am cooking and eating it minus its key fishy attributes of head, beady eyes and fins.
On heading for home as the bus stop is heaving with people I decide to sit down on the wall nearby instead with the intention of soaking up some Vitamin D whilst waiting for the bus. But as I turn to sit down I notice a large RAT cross  the slip road where the National Express buses exit the bus station.  So the wait for the bus turns into a rat counting session; in the ten minutes I sit on the wall I count 17 yes SEVENTEEN rats scoot from one side of the road to another. Ok so it could be just one rat getting a bit of exercise  doing laps but hellfire its 11am and the place is packed with  people. The only word I can think of is INFESTATION.................
As I drag Nancy home & whilst sat on the bus I remember all the things I have forgotten to buy. Fake bread and salt being the priority  Knowing if I go back into town I will come home with yet more animal, vegetable or mineral bargains from the market I walk up to York Road and play supermarket lotto with the buses .... a  56 is ASDA , 40 means Tesco’s, 19 Sainsburys and a 163  Lidls ---- after the condom / mints incident of a few months ago in LidIs  am much relieved when a 40 rolls up first.  Although Tescos at Sea croft is not my favourite place I know that they will sell Maldon salt. As I leave Tescos I am amazed that salt and gluten free bread came in total to twenty quid. But I suppose its the bottle of Gordon’s gin somebody slipped in my trolley that has bumped the price up a bit!
The evening is spent teaching a close friend the intricacies of blogging.................... which involves a great deal of laughter (and  a decent amount of the afternoon purchase of gin). Although online all evening I avoid facebook as any mathematician will tell you  Facebook +Alcohol = Disaster. One should always engage in social media sober or you will inevitably at some point  make a social media faux pas of catastrophic proportions. Basically in the 21st  century  the 11th Commandment  is “Thou shall not use a computer with internet access  whilst pissed”

 Its not often a Sunday in this  blog is going to be a red  hot page turner (or should than be scroll downer) and  this Sunday is probably  a 9/10 on the mundane scale, but as there has been a request from a “fan” for more rabbity stuff  so  I shall explain what happened on Wednesday morning in more detail.

My darling Sascha – a red eyed white  lop is by far the most chilled out bunny I know. Having been hand reared by me since he was three weeks old he is no longer a  pet,  but quite simply,  family. 
From a biological perspective rabbits have very delicate constitutions and need to be fed correctly. Mine are only allowed Supreme Science Selective pellets, loads of hay (dust free and organic from Derbyshire) and fresh fruit and veggies. As you have probably guessed he is much better fed than me.    But as he has the run of the house is he prone to helping himself – if you leave shopping out I can guarantee you will come back to nibbles out of packets or  it has been known for an entire packet of biscuits to disappear overnight.  As I come home late and tired  from the book club Tuesday night I just put my bags down, put the perishables in the fridge and crawl off to bed. In the morning when I get up each of the 2lb of cherry tomatoes I bought has  been removed from its  bag, nibbled and then left on the floor.  Sascha looks into the middle distance and I swear he says “Nuffin to do with me mum” – but as he licks his lips in anticipation of breakfast    I can see he is wearing lipstick which is a new designer colour – Tomato Red.   Ruth Archers  bland catch phrase of “Oh No” is subtly reworked and  I utter “I am going to kill you,  you  furry arsed lagomorphic  little bastard !!!!!!!!!”     At this he shrugs his ears, turns around, flicks his back paws at me (which is the bunny equivalent of a two fingered salute)  and hops upstairs and I swear his shoulders are moving slightly  as if he is trying to stifle a giggle.   
The only other thing to say about today is I have tummy ache and feel crap, by 5pm I am tucked up in bed and feeling sorry for myself.  But  I have decided on one thing – the Simple Simon Blog was so successful I am going to write one called “Not yet Nigel” which will be a spoof of the childrens poem Not Now Nigel ---- but mine will be about not getting around to putting a new battery in a smoke alarm.
Not yet Nigel, its only half past eight
I havent had my breakfast yet and i'm running rather late...................

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