Buddleia and Bonnet Bees

I usually have quite lot of bees in my bonnet, you probably do too, but sometimes one of those many, many bees escapes and does some buzzing.

What is your High Street like? Have you had a look up recently to see what’s going on on the rooftops and buildings in general? I’m always looking up at buildings and for a long time now it’s more than architecture which is grabbing my attention, it’s another B – b for Buddleia. On our travels around Britain I’ve seen lots of buildings festooned with weeds, so I know it isn’t just a local problem.

The photo below is of one of the very few art deco buildings in Kirkcaldy, it was all newly refurbished recently but some Buddleias have got a grip of it now and they won’t let go without human intervention, they’ll just keep getting bigger, and it’s bound to end up with the building being badly damaged.

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As you can see these chimneys have what look like trees growing out of them.

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I think there are a few different plants growing out of the building above Specsavers.

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Buddleias are the culprits again as well as some sort of creeping plant. There’s no excuse for this mess as someone could easily have opened a window here and grubbed out the offending plants before they got a chance to get a good root hold.

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More Buddleia, this looks big from the ground and I dread to think how big it must be.

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There are some lovely old buildings in Kirkcaldy, relics of a far more prosperous past and it’s a real shame to see them being infested by weeds with absolutely nobody bothering about it. It’s about time that whoever is responsible for it pulls their finger out, and if the buildings are all owned by various private landlords then the council should do the work and send the bill to the building owners.

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A large part of the problem is that there is a derelict site in the High Street where a 1960s building was pulled down some years ago and it is now just a vacant plot. The ground is obviously full of lime leftover from the demolition and the original building materials. That is the perfect growing medium for Buddleias and the building plot has plenty of them growing there, of course they aren’t content to stay there and the seeds end up on the rooftops and buildings nearby. If that vacant site was cleared of Buddleias then the problem would never have got so bad.

I actually cut my own Buddleia down last year because I didn’t want it adding to the problem. I planted it to attract butterflies but there are lots of plants which attract butterflies just as much, and they aren’t invasive and damaging to buildings.

So that’s my bee, going back to my bonnet, settling down to buzz quietly again, except Jack wouldn’t agree with that, he would say I never stop going on about bees in my bonnet. Who me?!

NHS Reform!!

Do you remember those Conservative adverts in the run up to the last election The NHS Will Be Safe in Our Hands – or words to that effect? Nobody really believed it, which is probably one of the main reasons why the Tories didn’t actually win the election. Not that you can believe that, given the way things have gone, with their Lib-Dem coalition partners rolling over and not doing what they should be doing – which is to save us from the worst excesses of the lunatic right wingers.

I happened to be working in the NHS the last time the Conservatives got into power (Thatcher) and in no time flat they had their claws on the Health Service and were busy ‘reforming’ away like mad. This meant that one whole tier of the NHS was abolished and thousands lost their jobs. At the time I was running the library in an NHS county HQ and obviously that was deemed to be something which was completely unnecessary. I actually think that the politicians must have thought that it was a library full of novels, rather than the medical books and journals which furnished the shelves.

So at great cost people were put out of work, and here we are 30 years on and the Tories are doing exactly the same thing again. The reorganisation is going to cost £billions and it will result in a worse service and is no doubt the preliminaries of the Health Service being privatised in the end.

There is definitely waste in the NHS as there is with any large organisation but the way to deal with it is to stop tinkering and slashing services and just identify where things could be improved and do it.

Will the Lib-Dems wake up and do the decent thing – or are they too feart (frightened) of Flashman and the rest of the bullies? The people who do not support Cameron wholeheartedly have not even been invited to any discussions. The word ‘fascists’ comes to mind.

I’m just glad that all this nonsense seems not to be going ahead in Scotland, but it doesn’t stop me from thinking about our ‘cousins’ in England.

The Olympic Games 2012

I watched the announcement of who had won the bid to have the Olympic Games in 2012 and like lots of people, particularly the French, I was absolutely gobsmacked when London was named. Surely I can’t be the only person in Britain whose heart absolutely sank to my boots at the announcement.

I’ve never been keen on anything competitive like that because I can’t see what there is to be gained by being able to run faster than the next person – unless you happen to be being chased by a lion! The whole idea of a competition to see who can be the fastest, highest, longest or whatever strikes me as being incredibly childish. Even the people taking part in the games admit that they aren’t doing it for their country but it’s all about themselves. That will come as no surprise if you know any aggressively sporty types, I don’t mean people just doing sport for the good of their health whether physical or mental.

There was a woman on the news from Glaxo-Smith-Kline not long ago and she was showing their ‘state of the art’ laboratory where all the urine samples are going to be tested. Her attitude was that they are ready for anything and so they will be able to detect drug cheats immediately. I know that that is just not true because new drugs are being concocted all the time and there are always sports people who are willing to give them a go. Unless a lab has a sample of a new drug then they don’t even know what they are looking for and it will be undetectable.

In the past it has been the sports people who have shouted loudly that they are anti- performance enhancing drugs who have turned out to be up to their ears in chemicals. So it’s a mystery to me why we even bother having things like the Olympic Games when it’s really a ‘who can dodge the analysts best’ games.

We’ve just heard the news that yet another cyclist involved in the Tour de France has been found out and that happens every year. Occasionally they collapse and die by the roadside due to the drugs which they’ve imbibed.

Given all this – why are people excited about the Olympic Games? The people who lived in the area that it’s taking place have all been swept out of their homes and whole communities have been broken up and garden allotments which had been worked for generations have been built over. As usual none of the local people will have benefited from any of the jobs which have been created by the project and it will all cost so much money (which could be better spent) that the debt won’t be paid off for donkey’s years. I heard that the Atlanta games still haven’t been paid for.

What’s it all for? For pumping up a lot of egos, and that goes for politicians too.

I believe the London games are being subtitled Island of Wonders. The way things are going I think it’s more likely going to be Island of Blunders.

Andy Murray’s Hair Colour

I deliberately didn’t mention Andy Murray and his progress at the Australian Tennis Open in case I jinxed his chances. When he’s in the news I always have a lot of hits on ‘Pining’ because people have googled Andy Murray’s hair colour.

It’s still a mystery to me why anyone should be bothered about the colour of anybody’s hair, but there you go – they are for some reason. People seem to think that his hair might be regarded as being red, and maybe I’m being a wee bit paranoid here, but I don’t think the possibility of him having red hair is being seen as a plus. I think there are still a lot of people out there looking for reasons to dislike him.

So, again for the record – Andy Murray has brown hair, in fact it’s really dark brown hair. Like all Europeans with brown hair the tiny amount of red hairs show up in the sunshine, but that doesn’t mean that their hair is red. It’s the difference between European and Asiatic hair.

Maybe if he did have red hair he would win a tennis major! I certainly regard it as a positive rather than a liability. Discuss!

McDonald’s No More

I was absolutely flabbergasted, not to say dumbfoonert, when I walked past what had been McDonald’s in Kirkcaldy High Street last week and saw that it was all boarded up. I thought maybe it was just closed for refurbishment, although I did think it was a strange time of the year to do that. After a wee bit of research on the internet I discovered that it has closed down completely!

So much for all those people who say that kids are able to get work easily if they want it, and they are all too lazy or snooty to start flipping burgers, they obviously haven’t been to Fife, where they can’t flip burgers even if they want to. I feel really sorry for the people who have lost their jobs there because the town is such an unemployment blackspot and it’s going to be so difficult for them to get another job. Kirkcaldy always has been an area of high unemployment thanks to the Labour Party stranglehold on the area and having Gordon Brown as our MP who did absolutely nothing for Kirkcaldy except poke his nose in things which had nothing to do with him, and overruled the council.

McDonald’s isn’t everyone’s cup of tea or meal of choice, certainly not mine anyway but it’s a shame that yet another business has disappeared from the High Street. The only growth area shop-wise is charity shops and by all accounts it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

And if you fancy a bit of a laugh have a look at this puppet version. I think they’re great and the scenery behind them isn’t too bad either.

European Summit – again

This would be a tweet if I were on Twitter.

Boris Johnson said that David Cameron ‘played a blinder’ at the summit yesterday and Tories seem to be queuing up to agree with him.

Have I wandered into some sort of hospital for the mentally infirm?!

David Cameron has poked himself and the whole of Britain in the eye with a pointed stick. Definitely a blinder!

European Summit

I was watching the TV news earlier today and saw the preparations for the meal which they are going to have tonight. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns. Has nobody told the politicians that Europe is skint and up to the eyeballs in debt?!

I don’t see that it’s necessary for them to have a meal at all, and certainly not a big fancy beanfeast which they seem to be setting the scene for. The most they should be having is tap water, beans on toast then some instant coffee and a digestive biscuit. It’s more than some poor souls will be able to afford.

You would think that given the circumstances they would be embarrassed to be spending any money on this summit. I’m sure they could communicate with each other just as well via the internet.

Of course we are the people who will be paying for it all through taxes, it’s about time they realised that things are too serious to be spending anything on expensive fripperies – it dawned on the rest of us ages ago.

I must say that I’m not one of those nutcases who think we should not be in the European Union, it would cost us more to be outside it anyway but that doesn’t mean that I think it’s perfect, there’s an awful lot of room for improvement.

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

I have to admit that I had never heard of Wallace Stegner before I picked up this book in a recent library booksale. I bought it purely because it’s a Penguin Classic so I thought it would be interesting. I haven’t read any reviews of the book at all and I think that the whole thing was so close to a lot of my life experiences that I’m really unable to be detached from it. It’s a really well written book, as you would expect from a Pullitzer prize winner.

For me it was quite an annoying and uncomfortable read at times and that was due entirely to the character of Charity Lang whom I really, really disliked intensely so it wasn’t a book which I was desperate to get back to whenever I put it down.

It’s the story of two marriages from the 1930s when they were almost newly weds and the two couples become friends when they meet at the University of Wisconsin where the husbands are working. University politics hasn’t changed over the years, it was still a murky, distasteful business when I was in almost exactly the same situation with my husband in the late 1970s.

Anyway Charity and Sid Lang cling to the new arrivals Sally and Larry Morgan like they’re a life raft, almost as soon as they meet and from my experience that’s always a sign of an unhealthy marriage so it rang alarm bells. There’s always a problem in a relationship when they want to spend a lot of time with other people rather than just being happy in their own compmany. Obviously you have to have give and take in any marriage but Charity was only interested in taking – and the only things she gave were orders. Oh and Sid’s money of course. Charity really wasn’t interested in Sid until she realised that he was ‘as rich as Croesus.

Sally is bedazzled by Charity mainly because Charity comes from an old, large, well-heeled American family which is the opposite from Sally’s situation as a young woman from a poor Greek family who are all dead. Charity fills Sally’s need for friends and family and so she overlooks the fact that Charity is a truly ghastly woman who has to be right about everything, even although she’s invariably wrong, she won’t ever admit to it and just about all the bad things which happen in the book are caused by Charity.

The absolutely worst thing though is the way Charity treats Sid. He was never going to set the heather on fire but Charity had great expectations for him and when things didn’t go to her plan, which was entirely her fault for being arrogant and directing what Sid should write papers on to get tenure, and of course she was wrong – she didn’t dust herself down and get on with life the way the rest of us would. Charity ended up having a nervous break-down and spent two months in hospital. Those so-called strong women usually can’t cope with life when they don’t get their own way as it happens to them so seldom.

In the end it’s Larry who saves Sid by getting him a job at another university. The book is written from Larry’s perspective but long before it becomes clear that Larry isn’t a fan of Charity I was gnashing my teeth as she was praised to the sky while she was embarking on her mission of festooning herself with loads of kids which she thought it was a good idea to neglect. Just think, all those other lives for her to control, bully and dominate.

I’m sure you’ll realise that I have had close contact with just such a woman in the past and it isn’t fun having to stand by and watch someone humiliate and emasculate her husband in public, hen-pecked doesn’t come close to describing it. The damage done to family members by such a mother is never healed.

In the book Charity decides to continue to control her childrens’ lives from the grave via her will and even draws up a list of women which Sid has to choose a new wife from as apparently he can’t cope on his own!

Happily I can tell you exactly what happens in such a case. The widower takes up a new pastime, such as bowls. Meets up with all the old boys that he went to school with. Joins a club for local businessmen and goes on holiday abroad with them three or four times a year and really enjoys himself. Has two more grandsons presented to him by the members of the family who had watched the older grandchildren being scarred by Granny’s bad behaviour.

Thinks for himself for the first time in years!

Well I did tell you that I was unable to be detached from it, but it is a good book!

Michael Gove – again

This isn’t really what you would call a blogpost, if I were on Twitter I would tweet it but I’m not, so here goes!

I’ve always been a Monty Python fan and The Meaning of Life is on at the moment. Unfortunately it’s on a channel with adverts, which I hate, so between the adverts I switched over to BBC News 24 and what did I see shooting across the bottom of the screen?

The Education Secretary Michael Gove has warned teachers that if they go on strike on Thursday they risk damaging their reputations.

At this rate I’ll have to stop watching the news because I’m just about apoplectic. How can a man (and I use that word very loosely) who behaved as he has in the past even think of warning anybody about their reputation. Being an absolute swine seems to have done him no harm in life, maybe the rest of us have just been too damn decent for our own good!

Public Servants’ Pensions

I’ve just seen that absolute scunner Michael Gove – so called Education Minister – on TV. He was talking about the proposed teachers strike at the end of the week in England and Wales. Basically he was inciting parents to strike break and go into classrooms in place of teachers to keep them open. It doesn’t seem to hve occurred to him that they are unlikely to have any training in dealing with large numbers of young people and that most of them won’t have had a disclosure, which means that he is potentially allowing exceedingly dodgy characters access to other peoples’ children. Being a parent does not mean that you are automatically a good person.

Speaking of dodgy characters, in my opinion Michael Gove should be sitting in a prison cell at the moment as he was one of the worst MPs involved in the expenses scandal. He flipped his home and was gleefully getting the tax payer to pay for things which he had no right to do. Very interestingly he was keen to give our Prime Minister’s mother-in-law’s shop the business. Also he was quite happy to take his family off to a high class spa and chalked the whole thing up on expenses to be paid by the tax payer. How he can sit and pontificate on the rights of people who work so much harder than he does for so little pay is just beyond me. The man has no shame obviously.

The government seems to think that all teachers and local government workers, including people on very low pay, should quite happily agree to having to work a lot longer for much less of a pension. Apparently, it’s our fault because we are all living longer and the pensions are no longer affordable. That just makes me scream, I don’t know about you but I know absolutely loads of people who have died recently and most of them weren’t lucky enough even to reach pension age as it is now. It may be that people living in the affluent south of England are living longer but in the north things are very different. It’s because of a combination of genetics, poverty and the cold, damp climate.

Would it not be sensible to concentrate on the unemployment problem. If there were more people in work and paying tax and fewer people on unemployment benefit then that would go a long way to solving the problem of a black hole in the pension budget. At the moment, people are being educated only to end up in a dole queue, no matter how many degrees they have.

Better still, the government should tell the banks, who let’s not forget started this whole problem with their stupidity and greed, to stump up money to plug the hole instead of awarding themselves massive tax-free bonuses.

Please take a look at this link, from the Daily Telegraph, but be warned, you may need a sick bag/high blood pressure tablets!