The Trouble With Facebook

Is Facebook a sociable place? Maybe for some it is but for me it’s a bit like a Tuppaware Party (remember them?) You’ve lived in an area for a few years, someone you vaguely know asks you (pleadingly) if you would attend their plastic/jewellery/sex toy party. You say yes to make the numbers up – go along and join in. Or rather you sit and listen as all around you, who obviously know each other very well, chatter about all sorts of things that are relevant to them, from the trite to the serious.

You offer a comment here and there, maybe even two, in response to something someone has said. If your comments are responded to at all that response is soon taken on and expanded by those who know the host/hostess more than you do and you find yourself sitting on the sidelines as they reminisce about events before you moved to the area, or talk about friends you have no knowledge of.

If you try to initiate a conversation, you get a smile (the old fashioned equivalent of a thumbs up) and if you are lucky a reply. And there it seems to end, once again sitting on the sidelines wondering how so many are getting so much enjoyment out of the event. I guess the bottom line is – I’m an unsociable old fart ;-)

on the sidelines

On the sidelines

The Crankles – official vandalism

Walk alongside of the River Lark from Rushbrooke Lane side of town towards the Abbey gardens you’ll find it full of wildlife – usually! Not at the moment though. Why? because West Suffolk Council, no doubt seeing ££ signs in their eyes are “harvesting” willow trees from The Crankles in order to sell the wood to be made into cricket bats. Full story here.

The Crankles (I love that name) is a piece of land between the River’s Linnet and Lark, site of the long extinct abbey’s fish ponds. It can be seen alongside of the Vineyards on this 1776 map It’s the maze-like shape

What I see though is wholesale devastation of a wildlife habitat.

trees gone

The trees there must have taken decades to grow. Gone now – all gone.


Clever to use the word harvesting, giving the impression that they will be back next season. They won’t, what was a beautifully wooded area on the edge of the town centre now looks like a scarred and torn battle field. Wanton destruction in my opinion

The Crankles

Excuse me whilst I go chop of one of my arms in case it gets diseased

Don’t Sell Off Our NHS

I think most people are by now aware that the Tory government is starving the NHS of cash whilst at the same time selling it off in bits and pieces to their mates

Today I saw an NHS Commissioning stand in town, it asked me to have my say – so I did.

Don't Sell off Our NHS

Don’t Sell off Our NHS


Having my say

He was kind enough to hold it whilst I took a snap


Enough said?

More Contracts Awarded to Atos

Atos it seems have been given  responsibility for new childcare scheme, (as reported by the Independent) despite coming under fire for its role in testing people currently receiving disability benefits as well as the announcement that they want to end their contract to carry out work and capability assessments,  this announcement was made after country-wide protests

Meanwhile the Daily Mirror reports that Atos have been accused by MPs of lying in its tender document to win £184million work and capability assessments.

Oh and in case you didn’t know, Atos  have also been given the contract to work on NHS care data project. (Don’t forget you can opt out of this)

So can anyone tell me how and why?

Autistic children suffering because of cutbacks

It’s difficult keeping any child occupied in the school holidays, doubly so if that child is autistic.  School routines have gone to be replaced with whatever activities the child’s parents can arrange. Up until now my daughter has paid for her son to attend activities 2 or 3 days a week during the holiday’s, this despite the fact that the budget for his activities has been cut by over half this year.  These activities serve two purposes, they give the child some much needed routine and they also offer the child’s parents some much needed respite. Not any more though, the cost has just shot up from £20 a session to £75.  On a yearly budget of £500 for activities it’s pretty obvious to see that at these prices not many days worth of activities will take place.

That’s it, that’s all, no holiday activities for my grandson and no respite for his mum.

Apply for anything (regardless of experience or qualifications)

  • Figures for April show 1,458 jobless in my home town*
  • Currently Universal job match list just 230 jobs posted within 5 miles of the town I live in*

Why is this relevant? I was summoned by letter to attend an interview today at my local job centre. There I found  that following trials elsewhere in the country I wouldn’t have to wait to see an advisor when I attend fortnightly to sign on, instead I would just queue and sign in at “the counter”.

However, I will have to apply for 4 jobs a week.  I pointed out to the adviser I spoke to today that in the last 4 weeks I have found just 3 suitable jobs to apply for, how and where was I going to find 4 a week?

Just apply for anything I was told, apply for packing (funnily enough the example on my job search form is for packing).  Now I am a very experienced administrator, it’s not that packing is beneath me, were there such a job to suit my circumstances then I would apply.  Fact is there isn’t. Also,why should I lower my expectations of where I should be employed?

The advisor printed out the new job agreement whilst I was still discussing the possibility of being able to find 4 jobs a week to apply for.  I did say to the woman that if the same job is advertised on 20 different websites that doesn’t mean that there are 20 different jobs. That point lead to a momentary silence during which she got up and went to the printer to get the agreement. I reiterated that it may be impossible to find 4 jobs a week to apply for. “I’m sure they won’t mind if it’s 3 one week” she said. personally I’m sure they will – it’s a sanction waiting to happen

When she came back with the agreement  I asked her were there any jobs actually advertised in the job centre. No, I was told, they are all on the internet, you can use the jobpoint here (one jobpoint for nearly 1500 people).

The agreement was thrust at me to sign, now I know I have no choice but to sign but I insisted on reading through it first.  I did note that I was in a “green” group, goodness only knows what the “red group” have been forced to sign.

I am not going to lower my standards so I’m raising them, therefore this blog post will end with an apology to all potential employers, I am afraid I am going to be applying for jobs that I have no experience in or qualifications for. I’m sorry if I (and the other 1,457 unemployed are wasting your time and your resources – please blame the DWP and not the unemployed applicant.

* figures from

*vacancies posted within 30 days of today – 20th May 2013

Universal Job Match??

So I’m now signed on to the Government’s Universal Job Match website is it helping me find a job? Not really. Many of the jobs listed are months old, plus they seem to be posted by websites that curate vacancies from other websites (I wonder how many personal details they are curating at the same time?)

My local job centre have agreed that I can look for part time work (personal reasons), they know also that I am reliant on my two feet and public transport to get to any job as I don’t drive.  However, I have to agree to look for work within 90 minutes travelling distance, that’s each way, not a round trip. So it’s compulsory that I have to agree to spend up to 3 hours a day travelling.  How far do they think I can get in 3 hours? Why, anything from 30 to 84 miles away from where I live. Below is a screencap of what I saw when I logged in today.

Recommended Jobs

Recommended Jobs as suggested by Universal Job Match

Using public transport it would take me anything from two to four hours just to get to these towns, and that doesn’t include making my way to any potential place of employment.

Just something to bear in mind next time you hear that there are  xxx amount of jobs available for job seekers…..

What am I doing at a Protest March?

Recently I found myself at a protest march.  Now I’m not usually one for actively protesting, if I’m honest the most I do is sit at home and tweet my protests to the world. So how did I come to be at an anti EDL protest in Cambridge recently?

EDL protester Those of you who know me know that I like to take pictures of people either at events or in the streets, so when I had a notification that a group of people planned to join the protest against the racist EDL  by disco dancing dressed in 80’s gear I thought that would be a good opportunity for some event and street snapping.

EDL ProtesterSo off I went to Cambridge with Mr A, we arrived as the protesters were gathering and listening to the pre-march speeches. There was a good atmosphere but a lot of understandable anger that the racist EDL should dictate to the residents of Cambridge just what they could and couldn’t do.  (This far-right group  were protesting against plans for a new mosque in Mill Road. ) I wandered around taking a few photos and, as you can see, it didn’t take long to spot the disco loving protesters.

EDL protesters When everyone was ready to start marching I joined in with them, the better to take photos and to record the occasion.  (I also felt it only right to protest against the racism and fascism of the EDL)
The Discoing protesters followed up at the back of the march and didn’t stop dancing once as the march wended it’s way to and around the city centre.  These folk were the Cambridge Division of the alternative EDL, the   English Disco Lovers. What a great way to combat narrow minded, racist bigots.

More photos can be seen on my photo Blog and there’s a short video here

And finally, for those who like statistics, there were 500  protesting against the EDL, 400 police (yes really!) And just 30 EDL members.

Scrapheap Scrounger With No Right to Privacy

Did you know that when you are jobless you lose all right to privacy? No? Let me explain.

At the beginning of October last year I was made redundant. I decided I didn’t want to become a statistic immediately so didn’t sign on.  Come November I decided to visit the local job centre. Now this was the first time in over 10 years I had visited a job centre, so it took a bit of courage for this 60 year old woman to enter it. The first thing I notice is 2 big burly G4S security men, now that’s new, I thought to myself. What I didn’t see was any sign of a reception desk so I wander around aimlessly for 10 minutes thinking, What do I do? Where do I go?

Eventually I notice a queue forming at what is little more than a shelf attached to a column and realise this is the reception desk. Eventually a young lady comes out and deals with the queue. When it’s my turn I ask how I register for unemployment, she tells me I have to do so by phone or online  and proceeds to give me a piece of paper which, as I eventually found out, had the wrong url on it.

I decide that I’m not ready for this yet so leave it a while. Come the end of January and finances are such that I really need to do something, so I search out the online application and fill it in. Having given them everything from my NA number to my bank account details I sit back and wait for my identity to be stolen. Eventually I receive a text informing me of an appointment today.

I arrive a few minutes early, the shelf is again unmanned. When they do deign to send someone out to the shelf I’m told to sit on the first sofa and wait. Whilst I am doing so I hear every detail of job searches of the two claimants either side of the desk just a couple of feet in front of me.  I wait and eventually a young lady comes and sits on the sofa with my online claim details printed out which I am to read and sign.  I do this and eventually, 15 minutes after my stated appointment time, I’m called to her desk.

Whilst she is photocopying my life I hear all the sorry details of the Polish couple sitting at the desk next door, including the fact that their bank accounts are empty and they only have £150 in cash as their savings, most of which they seem to be handing over in cash to some guy whose house they are living in. I’m sure they wanted me to know that – not!

Without discussion, other than what sort of job I’m looking for, I’m given a Job Seekers Agreement to sign and told that if I don’t my claim won’t continue, so what choice do I have but to sign it? I’m also given an activity sheet to record what steps I’m taking to find a job, including every website I search. Finally I’m given a green signing in book and told to report next Monday to sign on and next Wednesday to meet with an adviser.  I’m sure whoever is at the desk next to  my adviser,  or sitting behind me, is going to enjoy listening to my personal search for work.

Meanwhile the signing in book, the first two pages are full of reasons as to why they may stop Job Seekers allowance. In fact I found it all vaguely threatening.

Oh and all this is before they decide if I’m entitled to Job Seekers allowance! I’ve to wait for that decision. Meanwhile I’m off to close my curtains.

Snow Tales, it’s not over yet

So today Caie Walk is finally clear of snow,  it took almost a week of sub zero temperatures but at least St Edmundsbury and Suffolk County Council took note when this blog was brought to their attention.

But what of the back roads? Anyone who knows this part of Bury St Ed’s knows that the roads on Nowton Estate run behind the houses. These back roads are currently all like the one pictured below,  a lethal ice rink.

Kestrel Road, Bury St Edmunds

Kestrel Road, Bury St Edmunds

Now I know that main roads are a priority, and foot paths should also be, as I requested. But really, is this road and the others like it less important than cemetery paths? (See previous Blog post) Motorists have to negotiate this every day in order to get to work and back, just as well no emergency vehicles have had to get through.  It’s the same every time it’s snowy and icy. So St Edmundsbury Borough Council and SCC please don’t leave us until last next time


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