British Summer Time is mourned

I wrote this piece in November 2013. People will die this coming winter because of the adherence to GMT.

Car headlightsI’m a supporter of William Willett. He died in 1915 and did so before his idea of British Summer Time was adopted. It remains a great idea.  Not that I can totally agree with his plan to advance time by 80 minutes in April in four incremental steps, and reverse it in September. That was far too complex, and would have allowed far too many people to be late for work. I do retain some Puritan streaks.

Last weekend we moved from British Summer Time back to Greenwich Mean Time. Some folk believe we gain an hour because 2 am suddenly becomes 1 am. In fact it’s a damaging procedure as the next day we all have to get up an hour earlier if we are to conform.

That is debilitating enough, and science is slowly revealing that it could be dangerous. Our DNA measures the age of each of our cells, and its been found to vary. That’s one of the reasons why we die. OK, that’s a complex story and it is still too early in the morning for explanations, so I’ll move on.

Why do we have to keep changing? If we followed the rest of Europe we could have double summer time (SDST) just like Central European Time used by France, Germany and Spain.

We have tried this system before and it seemed to work. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents say this will reduce the number of accidents with lighter evenings meaning we can see each other, and not just a blur of headlights hitting our tired eyes at the end of a day. It saved lives last time. It’s also been said that we will not burn half million tonnes of CO2. That’s power saved, a very important consideration now that the Energy Sharks are getting away with theft.

So, why not? The problem seems to be a surfeit of Scottish MPs with power and influence. That was certainly the case with the last government, and little has changed with the present lot. Perhaps the surname ‘Cameron’ gives some indication of why that’s the case.

It is the Scots that hamper the change, backed by some farmers. That could change when Scotland votes to leave the Union, and land-owners realise that they don’t have to get up so early. They can let their contractors do that or switch on the headlights of their tractors.

Vote for Scottish Freedom if only to get more daylight into your life.

Stop, Search and Detain

Back in my day (watch the blue lamp swinging) in London (the Metropolitan Police) we used S66 Metropolitan Police Act 1839 which with reasonable suspicion allowed police to stop search and detain anyone suspected of committing an offence.

It was the most valuable method we had of detecting lawbreakers.

It was surrounded by case law. Every possible situation had been dealt with before,and a case stated that could be relied upon.

Over recent years that power has been reduced. Often because of that oft-quoted phrase, ‘You are only doing this ‘cos I’m black.’ That was rarely the case, although I’ll not defend the occasional racist. 

It had an important influence. Everyone knew we had that power. It was rarely questioned. It helped to continue the reputation that we then enjoyed, with cries of ‘Aren’t our police wonderful!’

As a police sergeant I had an important duty. A person brought before me, having been detained  was taken to the Charge Room. There the arresting officer would describe the actions taken before the arrest, and the reason for the arrest. I would question both the officer and the arrested person.

At that point I would make a decision. Should this person be charged, and for what offence? Was there sufficient evidence to justify that charge?

If there was, in my opinion, insufficient evidence the person would be released. On some occasions they were bailed to reappear at a later stage, if further enquiries were needed.

Or they were formally charged and cautioned.

They would appear at the local Magistrates Court as soon as practicable.

My part in the operation normally ended at that stage.

As I left the police, to go to university, I was interviewed by my local Commander. Asked why I was leaving I said we were losing touch with the people. Young officers were no longer walking the streets, getting to know people. Instead they were, in pairs, in cars responding to emergency calls. The young officers believed that everyone they met was stressed, or a criminal. Decent folk did not enter their lives.

My Commander told me he’d mark my papers, not to be re-employed without a fundamental change of attitude.

So ended my career as a police officer. Months later my marriage collapsed.

Weekly Moan

Doesn’t time fly – and I’ve not been well. Busy day today, Had breakfast, put first load of washing in machine. Discovered that a similar version of my little hovel was on the market for over twice the price. No idea why. Estate agents suggest it’s in a better area. That’s not true: they may have a convent up the road, but we have a Catholic Church, a restaurant, and a wine bar just 200 metres away. They have a long uphill walk into town, and it’s on a main road.

Never mind. I pumped up air on car tyres, checked oil and water. I know there’s a brake bulb blown but that will have to wait until the car is serviced next week.

Joy of joys. I bought a replacement key for my Smart car on eBay. It was quite simple to split the old key apart, clip one piece of the new key into place, and, bingo, I’d saved £200, that’s what Mercedes Benz had wanted to charge me. To make life really sweet I went to see the Parts Department at the local Mercedes-Benz garage, and they have repaid the £70 deposit I’d paid way back in August.

Second lot of washing is about to go on. Just discovered that the ‘Vanish’ stain remover I often use (blackberry juice this time) have another product; deep clean carpet cleaner – I have two bottles, that I’ve been using as clothes cleaner. Ah well/ Probably shouldn’t use either as they may be pollutants.

Trimmed back the plants outside my door as a neighbour had complained. Without moaning about it really being the gardener’s job I had snipped the heads off the offenders within seconds of receiving the complaint. Trouble with old ladies is they have short-term memory loss. No doubt she’ll remember my groping her at a dance forty years ago. That’s why I will not stand a chance of working for Donald Trump.

That’s a relief!

Suffolk Land Grab

Trinity College, Cambridge is a great educational establishment, it is also a very successful land developer.

In Suffolk, on the Colneis Peninsular in 1933 it bought nearly 4,000 acres of agricultural land, paying about £14 an acre. Land described by William Cobbett in 1820 as the finest land he’d found in the whole country. That land is now worth a fortune, particularly when used for housing development.

Every ten years Trinity College submits a planning application. This time it wants to build 2,000 new homes. These will be on a crowded peninsular which has only one road (A14) to serve the local people (about 35,000, and Felixstowe Port, which handles about 3.5 million containers a year, most transported by road – along the A14!

A local group met last night to put pressure on the local Council, Suffolk Coastal District to reject this proposal. They have a consultation document you can complete.Join https://www.kirtonlandgrab.com/ to help fight this proposal.

1953 Flood in Felixstowe

Gloria lost her grandparents during the 1953 floods in Felixsstowe. They lived in a bungalow in St Edmunds Road on the corner of Langer Road. This building was below sea level. This elderly couple held on to the picture rail in their bedrooms, whilst standing on a bed, until the sea took their lives.

Gloria recalls this event with graphic clarity, even though she was 9 years when this happened 65 years ago.

Jeremy Corbyn

Our mainstream Press and broadcast channels are frightened. Every day they unearth a story about Corbyn, most of which is untrue.

Why this bias?

Several reasons: our Press are foreign-owned. The owner of the Daily Mail – which doesn’t deserve to be called a newspaper is owned by a 30-yr-old billionaire who doesn’t live in the UK, nor does he pay taxes in our country.

A socialist government has tended to produce policies that benefit the people. Bad news for the rulers, who want to dominate and subjugate the majority. How can our world accept that ten people have the same money as Three Billion? It’s unacceptable.

Over the last years, since 1979 when Thatcher came to power, we have seen the steady erosion of our rights. Thatcher started the process, pretending to sell us national utilities that we already owned. Speculators seized opportunities and now most of our national assets are foreign owned, and we are exploited daily.

I keep saying, ‘I’m glad I’m old’ but I have children and gradnchildren. When will they revolt against this ghastly regime?

TV Adverts Tour de France

I’m really old-fashioned, and only watch BBC TV – which doesn’t carry adverts.

For the past three weeks I’ve been glued to ITV4. It carries the Tour de France, and I love the drama of it all. It starts innocuously, then a few riders will break away from the Peloton (technical term meaning the main body of riders). Each day they cover 150+ kilometres, travelling at 30-45km/hr. Exhausting work, and that continues for three weeks. I’m full of admiration for all those involved. Not just the riders; there’s a horde of support vehicles, dozens of motorbikes, who provide support, water, cameramen, and police, and at least five helicopters. All of these folk buzz around the cyclists (they are much more than that, they are superb sportsmen) all day. It’s incredible that they don’t bump into each other, more often.

In this heat the Tour de France gives me the opportunity to fill a jug of water, perhaps the odd snack and to sit on my backside for about four hours. Constant attention is needed you never know when there will be a breakaway. Collisions do happen, and can be both damaging to the riders and spectacular.

It can be annoying. Given half a chance they will break for adverts. Not only are these banal they are repeated again and again. It makes me question the logic of TV supported by adverts. It’s even more ridiculous when you realise that companies like Sky charge monthly fees and then also force its customers to watch adverts. Who has gone mad?

ITV clearly buy the coverage from another company. That lucky bunch also give their signals to about 200 other TV companies worldwide. It makes BBC’s licence fee such a joy. Another way, used by many of my friends, is to pre-record the event, then replay without adverts. Some recorders will do that automatically, others allow you to revel in not watching adverts as they flash on the screen as you scoot towards the next portion of the show.

Whilst I’m in a moaning mood I’ll just mention the commentators. They are all experts, knowing all about cycle racing. They tend to forget they have an audience. The TV pictures move around a lot, hopping from one group of riders to another. The commentary does two things I dsislike. They don’t link their chat to me, and they assume that I know all the riders. Giving out rider numbers would help.

Must go, the Tour starts in a minute.

Felixstowe Future

We’ve been asked for our views of the future for Felixstowe.

When you live in a town it’s not easy to be objective. Generally most of us will say we love this town, especially those who were not born in Suffolk.

Housing

Like everywhere we have a fair majority of incomers. Not sure it’s local government planning to encourage well-heeled newcomers. There is a lack of so-called social housing, making it very difficult for our young folk to stay in the town. The old-style Council housing helped to ensure that link that allowed people to move as their lives changed. Market forces don’t allow for such flexibility.

We have the spectre of Trinity College in our vision. Trinity are the third-largest property owners in the country, having been given all the lands once owned by the Church by King Henry VIII. Every decade they have arrived in Felixstowe and built a housing estate, making a lot of money. None of that income is returned to the town. I have suggested, in the past, that the college should provide bursaries for Felixstowe children and 20 acres of land be set aside to create a Centre of Building Excellence. Both ideas have been rejected. Thats a pity because Trinity should form closer links. One French example is now printing houses, much cheaper than conventional methods, and this region has a real need to examine a range of options, and not, as at present, rely upon national housebuilders. They do little to enhance an area, and estates usually lack facilities, encouraging more traffic and failing to build communities.

The Council should encourage self-build. That will encourage local initiative and create character.

The Council gave Bloor Homes 17.5 acres of coastal land. As far as I am aware no money changed hands. The Council has consistently stuck to its line that this was a commercial contract, effectively meaning that the true owners of the land should never know.

It could be argued that too many of the Felixstowe South dwellings are now used as second homes. We’ll never know. The Waverley Hotel development produced a number of apartments. I understand that the whole development was bought by one foreign concern. A good indication of the state of our country today.

The Bartlet complex was left to the community by Dr Bartlet in 1918, built in 1928 to provide respite care for elderly people. That’s now gone without any substitute in place. We have ‘bed blockers’ in our hospitals instead. Many of the patients in our Felixstowe Hospital are from elsewhere. The Bartlet meanwhile has been tastefully developed.

Infrastructure

There’s a decline in all services. Transport does not improve. With our town, and the Kirton and the Trimleys, together with the new developments, all using the same exit routes we are in danger of being strangled by traffic. It’s hard to leave town in the rush hour. With the increasing encroachment by the Port upon our railway it can only get worse.

That difficulty can be turned to our advantage. Once here it’s not easy to leave, so stay. Use our local facilities. Still too many shops are closing, even the charity shops are finding it more difficult. We need a local bus service that never leaves the peninsular. Too much emphasis is allowed for the needs of commercial operators. It’s time our local needs were acknowledged.

The shared space doesn’t work. Imagine being a three-year old breathing in so many noxious gases, to what advantage? There was an inspired suggestion made by the previous owner of the Wharf who saidt the ‘shared space’ area be turned into a covered esplanade, allowing open air restaurants and other facilities. She wanted to emphasise our Edwardian roots.

One fatal mistake made by the Council was to reject the escalator to bring people from beach to the town.It would help to keep the town alive, and could have generated income.

Another lost opportunity was the sale of the Spa Pavilion for £1. It is now clear it was a wasted opportunity, that could have encouraged much better use of that building. There is now no publicly owned public space where we can all assemble, although a large hall at the Leisure Centre could be upgraded, perhaps turned into a small theatre.

Plans now seem to include a new sports centre. A good idea, although we do have interests beyond football. The sailing club at the Ferry needs proper training facilities.

There’s a plethora of yellow lines most of which are, quite rightly, ignored. They are not necessary, and should be removed. In any event our police service no longer really exists on the streets.

There is a feeling that the Councils no longer represent the people. They have instead become intent on saving money or making money to cover their own expenses. We need a more active opposition, or a public forum where available money to be spent should be publicly broadcast, with public meetings where voters decide on the allocation of resources.

We had a Blue Flag Beach taken from us to save money. A form of madness, that was no better than the coastal engineering works designed to save our beaches, which are already showing that they will not work.

The pier development and Mannings Amusements are legacies left by a bygone age. They do little to attract people to the town. The Sunday Market is disappearing, probably for the best. Very few stallholders came from our town. A choice has been made: the southern end of the beach attracts traditional ‘kiss me quick’ hats whilst on the other side of the pier with the Alex, the Fludyers, the Golf Club and Felixstowe Ferry bringing a different clientele. How long that can persist is questionable.

Commerce

There’s a naive belief that the Port is the lifeblood of the town. The Chinese owners are not interested in our town, but in exploiting the commercial opportunities offered by our location. In recent weeks we have seen the first moves towards automation with new cranes and container handlers. Look at Rotterdam to see the future for Felixstowe. As an employment centre it will now diminish. We need to create a business centre that does not rely upon the Port.

As retail shops decline online sales increase, which means a swarm of delivery vans, who cause disruption. Why do we allow such chaos. No home delivery vans should be allowed in Felixstowe. All should be sent to a warehouse, built to handle part-load shipments. From there we need a fleet of pollution free vehicles (are you listening Royal Mail?) that deliver to every house, every day. Reduce pollution, increase local employment, set a national standard, revitalise Royal Mail.

That’s enough. Ask again if you think any of this helps.

State of Mexico

If I was in Donald Trump’s position I would not build a wall. At least not build that wall across the great divide that separates Mexico from the USA. That border is 1,952 miles long

Go south young man, to the much shorter border between Guatemala, just 541 miles and Belize, a mere 151 miles. It makes a much more natural border, one that will remove much of the present conflict.

Mexico has problems policing its criminals. Corruption is rife. It not a pleasant situation for the 120 million inhabitants. Many now seek to move north, into the USA. Who can blame them? Trump recognises the dangers of allowing such a mass immigration. He fails to comprehend that most USA citizens are migrants, or that his own mother was an illegal entrant. That’s not that important now. They are here in the USA. The trick is to stop any more, especially as the need for cheap labour lessens as robots take over menial tasks, and become much more involved in our daily lives.

Allowing Mexico to become an associated State of the USA will solve many problems. It has a similar form of government, and could easily be modified to suit the USA. Much of the present defence spending of the USA could be reduced, or moved across to deal with drugs and public unrest. Over 80,000 people have been killed through drug wars. Tackling that will help settle the unrest within the USA.

There are problems. Mexico speaks Spanish it also has a catholic propensity to breed. Adding Mexico to the pile would mean that Spanish became the majority language. That would need to be challenged. Not impossible. It could be done, leaving the English language as a dominant force.

The amalgamation would bring many advantages. Mexico is 14th richest country in the world. It’s alternative energy sources are dominant. Biodiversity is wonderful, and even the government has recognised that felling trees is a bad idea. Allowing its residents to be part of the USA will remove much of the present tension.

This is the time to consider radical change. If Trump really wants to change the world, to make a better place, then Mexico is a good place to start. This need not be a military invasion. That can just hover in the background. Social integration can provide the key. The USA can offer a better future to Mexican citizens. In so doing it will encourage world peace.

It’s time to try.

Relaxing Sunday

That’s what I hoped. It’s not really working out that way. I moved here nearly three years ago. Having some time to spare I decided to spring clean! It’s a bit late but I’m always slow. Started in the airing cupboard, where I’d thrown a lot of boxes, stuffed with those last-minute odds and ends I’d found as I was rushing through my old house on the last day. They’d not been touched since.

What a delight. As I took each item out of a box memories came flooding. There was a super-slim me selling books to a beautiful woman. Taken when I was at university, and we had just published ‘A Students Guide to Success at Geography’. A joint effort by five students at LSE.  I made the Guardian newspaper with an article I’d written about how boys and girls should apply to their college of choice. The Guardian had a feminist page in those days, and its editor regarded my entry as sexist. It wasn’t. That didn’t matter, the publicity meant we sold all our print run. It was my introduction to publishing. Sitting on the floor cutting and pasting copy to send to the printer, having written articles during college lectures.

There was a lovely bunch of photos taken when I led a scientific expedition to the Lake District. We surveyed all the upland water bodies (small lakes). We did a plane table survey: take two points to triangulate to a third unknown point. It’s a slow process, but accurate. In the Royal Geographic Society library I’d found a handwritten account of a British surveyor, with two Indian helpers, who’d walked from Peking up into Mongolia, in about 1880, surveying as they went. Fascinating. If I still paid the fees I’d use my Fellowship to find that text, and republish it.

We’d also taken a canvas boat, all rolled up in a tube. Looked OK until we had to put it in a rucksack, on someone’s back and walk up steep hills. Image a ten foot tall person, with no stability. It was perilous, and dangerous. As a result I designed a small catamaran, four pods, each of which fitted over a rucksack, and two poles. Back home I worked with an engineering student to make a prototype. We used galvanised tin, used to make ductwork, as I was then working as a quantity surveyor and had access to such material. Never did get it made commercially. It’s still an option, for one day.

I’m frustrated at present: the web site software is posing problems, and I can’t load any pictures, but I will soon.

The airing cupboard has left me a great assortment of gear. At the bottom was a box of kitchen cleaning materials and shoe cleaning brushes and creams.

I hope you’ll excuse me stopping now, as I have plenty of work to do in my kitchen, which is deserves a good clean.