Grumpy Old Man 45

I take Emily to York, and at a freezing cold Kings Cross station decide to wait in the first class lounge as I have a first class ticket. I am told that as I have a First Advance rather than a First Open ticket, I have to pay £10 to use the lounge. What? I would have thought £90 for a single to York was quite enough to buy me a smidgeon of comfort.

I receive a letter from Ealing Council threatening to fine me £80 for rubbish left on the street outside my house. This is infuriating because it is mostly not my rubbish, and it consists of flattened cardboard boxes left out for recycling. I send this email to the Council:

Dear Yusuf,

As other residents of Whitehall Gardens, we received from you recently a copy of a letter dated 12 August 2009 from Roger Jones, concerning rubbish left in the street for collection on the wrong day.

In fact, the problem in Whitehall Gerdens appears to be with rubbish which was left in the street on the correct day, but which the council have failed to collect. In the street outside out house at the moment is a large collection of cardboard boxes, mostly properly flettened, A small rpoportion of these are our own rubbish, but the majority are from other houses and were colected into a pile by the refuse men two collections ago, but not taken away either then or with today’s collection.

Obviously at Christmas residents receive a large numbers of parcels, and the Council appears to be having some argument of principle over collecting the cartons, even where they have been carefully flattened. Why the Council feels it is an appropriate response just to leave large piles of cardboard in the street is something I would like you to explain to me.

Another strange thing is that, at the first post-Christmas collection, anout four of these centralised piles of cardboard were created by the refuse men but left in the street. They were all still there when I returned home last night. But at today’s collection, three of the four piles were collected but the pile outside our house left again.

Rather than sending threatening letters, it would be a good deal more helpful if you could sort out your collectors’ Scrooge like attitude to dealing with Christmas detritus.

I look forward to your reply, and would also be grateful if you could copy this to the counillor or councillors who represent this ward.

Craig Murray

30 Whitehall Gardens

W3 9RD

07979 691085

Both my problems with the railway and the refuse collection arise from public services being handed over to private companies whose only interest is profit. The Tories believe more of this is the answer to our edonomic problems. Ha!

(Yes, I know the East Coast railway has just gone back into public hands. But the First Class tickets not valid for the First Class Lounge policy was introduced by National Express just before it lost the franchise).

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45 thoughts on “Grumpy Old Man

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  • techniclour

    Always thought it was pretty straightforward: taxes go into a central pot and the public decide how to spend them. Broadly, since most people use roads, the postal service, the NHS, schools, and so on, these things are seen as social services, and are therefore paid for by the state. Effectively (or ideally) this means that no bugger is creaming off a private profit; instead people are paid for the job they do. I’d argue that they should be paid the same across the board. Why otherwise the structure would lead to laziness or corruption I can’t imagine.

    And of course it is a disgusting state of affairs when services we increasingly see to be vital – among them care homes for old people – are farmed off to private companies instead. At the care home I worked in the council or relatives were paying &700 per person to the private company running the home; and the private company were spending £1.27 a day of that on food for that person.

    And of course it is extraordinary that governments and councils continue spending our money on things we do not want them to, and increasingly refuse to be responsible for providing the services we need.

  • Mike not Moore

    Craig. I want to buy a signed copy of Murder in Samarkand. Can I buy it directly from you? like I did Catholic Orangemen. Please tell me how I can buy it (I don’t want the US title version please! – it feels a bit ‘dumb’ and if you wouldn’t mind avoiding using that green pen again, thanks)

    I really enjoyed your latest book Catholic Orangemen. Are the green mambas still ‘buzzing’ you?

    Are you writing another book soon? Perhaps one in which you scribe your ideas for a way forward from these politically atroious times?

    Best wishes


  • glenn

    Comrades, apologies for my comments about the police last night. I must have hit the bottle too hard and… I just don’t know what I could have been thinking!

  • RR

    MARY, thanks for the reference to the American article on our police state. I have commented on it on their web site. Like you, my father and grandfather fought in 2 world wars for what they thought was freedom. They put up with a lot of hard times, but they would never have put up with the restrictions on their civil liberties that we accept today. As was so often said at the time – They were lions ruled by donkeys; today our generation are sheep ruled by donkeys

  • ingo

    mary wrote;

    This is an American writing on our police state. Makes me feel ashamed that we have allowed it to happen. Just relieved most of my parent’s generation who fought for freedom have now gone.

    This might have something to do with the politcal policing thats going on.

    The comments below are my own.

    10 Scotland Yard officers test positive for drugs

    10 Scotland Yard officers were caught using illegal drugs including cocaine, heroin and cannabis over the past year. Police in London can be subjected to substance and alcohol misuse testing at any time. Three of the officers proved positive for banned drugs during random tests by a team of officials. They took either heroin, cocaine or cannabis. Two resinged and a third was sacked after a misconduct hearing.

    The positive tests were only a tiny proportion of the 815 random substance misuse tests that took place during the 12 month up to November. Officials tested a further 11 officers after colleagues became suspicious they may be using drugs during the same period. Of these tests four people tested positive for cannabis and three for cocaine. Six officers resigned and one is waiting for the outcome of a disciplinary hearing.

    There were 346 random breathtests and no one recorded a positive result, and 231 per employment tests also proved negative.

    Senior officers introduced drug and alcohol testing in 2007 after a change in the law enabled random tests of officers in certain roles to take place.

    The statistics were provided by the Metropolitan police in response to a request under the Freedom of Information act.

    This story was printed in the Independent on the 26. december 2009 with no word did these statistics say whether these were high ranking officers or just PC’s.

    It also shows that these Metropolitan officers prefered class A and class C drugs before alcohol and that is takes a freedom of information act to show that 1.226% of those randomly tested metropolitian officers have been using class A and class C drugs.

    In no way do these random substance misuse tests show the real level of drug misuse in the Met.

    Next years figures will hopefully be provided free, without long prompting and expenses on behalf of the taxpayer. nevermind

  • Craig

    Mike, Mark,

    I don’t have any copies of M in S myself at the moment. I’ll probably get some come February.

  • Barbara

    Am I the only one with anything positive to say about the services offered by local British councils? That is simply unbelievable.

    My local services are fantastic, even taking into consideration occasional glitches and late bin collections or whatever – hardly the end of the world.

    Perhaps I am lucky, or perhaps you lot are determined to see the worst.

    Try living in other parts of the world for a change, and then you’ll appreciate what we have in the UK.

  • Tony Rogers

    “Both my problems with the railway and the refuse collection arise from public services being handed over to private companies whose only interest is profit.”

    What utter bollox. The former is hampered by government intervention and the latter by EU regulation. Ever tried getting your local refuse collection altered? I have and my local council were able to do precisely nothing in the face of EU directives.

  • Mike

    Craig. If you could reserve one for me I’d be most grateful. I think I bought your last one through PayPal, which was nice and convenient for me. Could we do it again that way for Murder in Samarkan? Cheers.

  • Kevin


    I think you’ll find that Craig, among many others who post here, has also lived in other parts of the world.

  • Barbara

    I know, Kevin.

    There’s a lot of moaning here about council services which are actually not too bad in Britain. I suppose some just enjoy being grumpy.

  • hawley_jr

    @ingo: “Next years figures will hopefully be provided free, without long prompting and expenses on behalf of the taxpayer.”

    If they are provided at all.

    This is from one of the many interesting links in the dissidentvoice article linked by mary above:

    ‘Latest lame UK gov’t excuse for supressing drug policy report: “if we release it, it will be hard to manage the news”‘

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