Thursday, 29 January 2015

Blue Monday, 2015

Blue Monday - no, I'm not talking about the fabulous 80s song by New Order, but another named day to add to our calendars along with Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

This year Blue Monday fell on 19th January, and is said to be the most depressing day of the year.  Well, if watching the news that lunchtime was anything to go by, I certainly found it depressing.

Firstly, we had a report about children in Kenya being tear-gassed by Police.  They were protesting because their playground had been taken from them over the Christmas break and was now owned by developers.

We then had scenes of people in Northern Ireland boiling snow to get water to drink, wash and flush their loos as they had no running water due to a dispute about pensions for water company staff. 

Then, bizarrely, these were followed by the story about the five-year old boy whose parents were invoiced £16 for a no-show at a birthday party at a dry ski slope. 

While children in Kenya are having their playgrounds stolen by developers and then getting tear-gassed by Police for protesting, we have five-year olds in this country being pursued through the small claims court.  Unbelievable.

I'm sure it was annoying that the little boy didn't turn up to the party.  It was rude of his parents not to inform the host that he couldn't make it due to a previous commitment.

But it's extraordinary that another parent thought the best way to deal with this was through the small claims court. 

As an aside, I also thought that this was an elaborate excursion for a group of five year olds.

Anyone else long for the simpler times when a child's birthday meant a tea party with jelly and ice cream, cheese and pineapple on sticks and party games like pass the parcel?  Nobody would feel inclined to sue over uneaten cocktail sausages and jam sandwiches.  Perhaps it's time for a retro party revival...

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Harry Hill's Stars In Their Eyes

Have you noticed how the use of a narrator in a TV programme can elevate it to a whole new level?

Exhibit A being Come Dine With Me, which is in essence a collection of mismatched characters dodging food poisoning while imbibing copious amounts of alcohol.  But Dave Lamb's commentary somehow makes the difference, and turns it into an entertaining show.

Similarly You've Been Framed.  This had become a mundane collection of mildly amusing home movies of people injuring themselves.  But behold, with the addition of a Harry Hill voiceover, it became funny; laugh out loud, bring tears to the eyes funny.

I still miss TV Burp from our Saturday night TV schedule.  This weekly dissection of programmes was hilarious, and the attention to detail made you look at shows you'd watched for ages in a whole new light.

I was therefore delighted to hear that Harry Hill was going to take over hosting Stars In Their Eyes.

I watched it when it was presented by Leslie Crowther - yes, I am that old - I also fondly remember the Matthew Kelly days, complete with the immortal phrase 'tonight Matthew I'm going to be...'

Surely having Mr Hill at the helm was taking a good show and making it great?  How could it fail?  Harry, swirling mist, turning ordinary people into singing stars - all the ingredients were there.

I dutifully tuned in on the first Saturday evening it was on - it's very different to the original show, but I enjoyed it.

My favourite performer of that evening was the eventual winner 'Christina Aguilera', but I also thought 'Kylie' and 'Eminem' were good. 

When I'd worked out the chap was going to be 'Eminem' I'd said to my family that I hoped he'd sing Lose Yourself, as that's my favourite Eminem song.

My daughter looked at me with a mixture of surprise and horror and said 'You've got a favourite Eminem song?!' - I'm not sure how I should take that really!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Another waste plant for Corby?

New Year, same old problems.  The prospect of waste plants has raised its ugly head again.

Northamptonshire County Council granted planning permission in 2009 for a gasification plant on Gretton Brook Road.  The proposals for Brookfield - which Corby Borough Council disposed of in December 2014 - were to link to this.

To run effectively, waste plants need vast quantities of waste.  In Scandinavia they now have to import waste to keep the plants they've built running.

The company proposing to run this plant in Corby - DRENL Ltd - have applied to NCC to have the 30-mile limit on from where they can bring waste removed to make this plant economically viable.

They want to bring waste in from 90 minutes away.  The map they've provided shows waste transfer stations and the vast area this covers.

It includes King's Lynn in Norfolk - which had an application for an incinerator rejected - some of Essex, Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, Banbury in Oxfordshire, Wolverhampton and Birmingham in the West Midlands, Warwickshire, Cannock in Staffordshire, Nottingham and Newark, Derby, Lincoln and Boston, Leicestershire and Rutland.  That covers stations in 15 counties, at least, and includes major cities.

Why should Corby become a dumping ground for all these counties? Imagine the number of lorries this will create on our already clogged roads, the increased pollution.

Interestingly, the hierarchy of waste management has reduction of waste at the top, then reuse and recycling as the main priorities.  Then follows recovery (i.e. gasification) and landfill as the least preferred options.

In my opinion, NCC should be encouraging more reduction, reuse and recycling in the county, not building waste plants and importing waste from far and wide to be incinerated, spewing out toxins and creating ash residue to be buried in landfill.

If you feel the same, please e-mail NCC at and tell them why the 30-mile limit shouldn't be lifted.  Have pride in Corby and in Northamptonshire - we deserve better.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Save Corby's Fire Engine

I was shocked to see the pictures of Corby's multi-storey car park on fire.

Thank goodness nobody was seriously hurt and that fire crews from around the county and from neighbouring counties were quickly on the scene.

We all know that this could have been so much worse.

Corby currently has two fully manned fire engines, but sadly there's a proposal from Northamptonshire County Council to lose one of those engines and replace it with a COBRA gadget, manned by just two firefighters.

This seems absolute madness to me, particularly given the scale of the fire we've just seen.

Corby is a very rapidly expanding town, with the housing development at Priors Hall being one of the largest in the country at the moment.

It is an industrial town, with numerous industrial estates and many large businesses.

There are also many outlying villages which rely on the Corby fire station to come to their aid if needed.

In fact it was Corby firefighters who came to my parents' rescue a few years ago, and we remain eternally grateful to them for their prompt action and the kindness they showed to my Mum and Dad.

All of the above are reasons why I've signed the petition to save Corby's second fire engine and I would urge you all to do the same.

Reading some of the comments both on the Northants Telegraph website and on Andy Sawford's webpage with regards to this matter, it would appear that serving firefighters are concerned about what these changes will mean to the service they can provide.

I think we should be listening to the people who actually do the job, and know what they are talking about, rather than County Councillors who are trying to convince us that there won't be a reduction in the service.

Saving lives is, and always should be, far more important than saving money.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year! Review of 2014 as seen through my Northants Telegraph columns...

Happy New Year!  Before we embark on 2015, let's have a quick review of 2014 as seen through my columns.

In January, I told you about my New Year's resolution to join Twitter, and also imparted news of my battle of the wounded knee in Waitrose (since recovered).

In February, we saw the terrible flooding on Gainsborough Road and I asked when would it ever stop raining.  I also informed you about a pork pie fight at a wedding.

In March we had the Lego Movie - was it a work of genius with deeper meaning or a blatant advertising exercise?  I also admitted that I could no longer do my daughter's Maths homework - she was ten at the time.

My column appeared for the first time in print in April, and I talked about the missing Malaysia Airlines plane and receiving bad news by text message.  We also had Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow's Conscious Uncoupling, which sounded to me like manoeuvring a caravan.

In May I told you about partaking in the fabulous Stilton Run to raise money for the Air Ambulance, and in June the Parental Olympics, where I won a medal for my javelin throwing skills.

I wrote about Brookfield in July, and also discussed that you're only as old as you feel. 

In August Great British Bake Off started - I worried about Mary Berry's teeth on the sturdier baked goods she taste tests, and mused if Paul Hollywood's eyes were real.  I also predicted the winner, Nancy.

September saw a vacuum cleaner buying frenzy in which I had no intention of partaking, and in October we had the arrival of Chalky Jnr (renamed Snowy) on the Brookfield scene.

In November, I imparted the worrying news about a global chocolate crisis and admitted to an addiction to Lebkuchen, and in December shared the good news about Brookfield and how we now need to get protected status for it.

I wonder what 2015 will bring?