Bureacuracy Incorporated

As I write this my head is still hurting from all the shaking which it has endured since I came across the latest in bureaucratic nonsense involving those two old nemesis of mine; the local NHS and Walsall Council. Admittedly, it has been a while since I have had cause to take to the keyboards to highlight yet another  piece of lunacy, overseen by those who at least, are supposed to exercise leadership and responsibility when spending what passes for the public purse in our area.

To put the matter into context: I am a type 2 diabetic and have been for several years now. Prior to changing GP’s – forced on me by geography rather than any competency issues it must be said – I used to be issued with a sharps box in order to safely dispose of the test strips and lancets with which I test my blood sugar. Luckily I am one of those fortunate people whose condition is fairly stable, so only need to check said blood sugar levels on very infrequent occasions. Consequently it has taken me quite a while to fill it up- a mere six years in fact (I did say checking of blood sugar was a very infrequent need on my part). Well today, I finally managed to fill said box up to, but not over, the line as instructed on the label. Today was also the day when I had to go for my yearly blood test, part of a two stage process ending with a practice nurse review or as I prefer to call it;  “my annual bollocking!”.

So, by judicious application of forward-thinking principles (often dangerous when dealing with public servants programmed on computer says no principles, but you have to have faith in these unsettling times), I duly sealed the container so it could not be re-opened and took it off to my GP’s to hand over as was my previous practice. Having been summoned into the inner sanctum that was the blood testing room, I duly declared one sealed container for disposal. Imagine my surprise when I was informed that local NHS practices were not permitted to accept these from the public anymore.  Why? Because since April 01st, local responsibility has passed from NHS England to Walsall Council, although the same specialist disposal company would retain the contract to physically remove and dispose of all clinical waste. So that’s okay then. What I had to do was go to the Reception and ask for a sharps letter – bear with me – which contained a telephone number for the local council (turns out it is the Clean & Green Department) and they would send out a form for me to complete etc etc. So duly having had the required amount of the red stuff extracted from my arm – not quite Hancock but near enough – I proceeded to the reception to get said letter.

The receptionist handed me said letter upon request and explained what I had to do. So far so good. However, she then informed me that I had to bring said form back to be signed off by my GP or other healthcare professional, before I could make arrangements to have the offending container removed safely from where it now sits in my kitchen. I know what you must all be thinking by now: yep, why can’t these forms be issued and signed off at the GP surgery and passed to the council so that the contractor can make arrangements to collect? You won’t be surprised to learn that there is no sound reason other than that is the process. Another classic case of buck passing between differing organs of the public service.

And if that’s not enough, patients irrespective of whether they are housebound or not now have to get a prescription, yes you read that right, a prescription, in order that a new sharps or similar container can be issued for use in the home. My common sense tells me surely it is more efficient to have a single collection point at the local GP’s for these things to be safely disposed of which at the same time, reduces vehicle stem mileage and number of stops made, meaning only those who are housebound and who need a dedicated collection and replacement service can be catered for?

Does this not make more sense? No, probably not if it keeps another council jobsworth employed to oversee a system that could and should be left to the local NHS. Doubtless there will be a postscript to report as/when the bureaucracy has run its course. But for now my head hurts again, so I am off for a lie down and a libation and maybe elicit some sympathy from the dog.

Until next time.

 

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Poets and their Poems

Here in Walsall we have a thriving poetry society chaired by Richard Archer or as he is perhaps better known in local poetry circles, Skaggy the Poet. Last year the society  produced an anthology called Diverse Verse, a celebration of poetry from the West Midlands and beyond. Many of the contributors were well-known names on the Black Country poetry circuit including, Femi Abidogun, Marianne Burgess, Ian Ward, Tina Negus, Jerry Peterson, Bryan “LaGrif” Griffin and former Walsall laureate, Ian Hennery to name but a few, as well as the incomparable Mr A himself. All the work was given free and all the proceeds went to the Mayor of Walsall’s charities for that year.

This year I am delighted to report that Richard has once again been busy compiling another collection called Diverse Verse 2 (see below)

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This edition features many of the same poets from the first plus some new ones, all of which goes to show the depth of poetic talent we have within the West Midlands region. Once again all poets gave their work for free and all proceeds from the book will be going to Cancer Research UK. Inside you will find the funny, the sublime, the serious, the ridiculous and the emotional as all good poetry should be. You will even find a couple of mine, one of which I have re-produced below with sincere apologies to Hamlet and William Shakespeare in advance, for such disregard to a great soliloquy.

Copies can be ordered online from http://www.Lulu.com or there may be some left at Walsall’s only independent book shop, Southcart Books, in Lower Hall Lane near the town centre. Even if you have only a passing interest in matters poetical this book is well worth the read, showcasing as it does, some extraordinary writing talent and supporting a worthy charity to boot. Go on, you’ll be glad you did.

To Bus or to Buzz? (With apologies to Shakespeare and the Prince of Denmark)

 To bus or to buzz, that is the question;

Whether it’s through yam yam or cockney that we express

The dialect with which to identify the choice of mode in which we travel.

And yet, there are those to whom such choices are superior to the needs of mankind

For we cling onto them as they define the space we occupy on this mortal coil.

Oh, but that these were allowed to differentiate between us

As we move through the veneer of life with its many twists and turns.

Where use of language through text or tongue oft has caused war and dissension

Or brought love and reconciliation but, where suspicion of those

From below junction 10 and their peculiar accents still lingers.

Who can arbitrate on these great unresolved questions of our time?

Where is thine honest broker who can determine between accents and expressions?

Oh, where are the Gershwins of today who will provide such musical interlude

That will make such differences superfluous?

To resolve the unresolvable, let us be resolute in our determination

To accept such differences as define our origins and our culture;

For what matter is it if we speak of a bus or a buzz?

When we greet folk with owamya, drink council pop and call a Zebra, a stripey oss!!

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The Place Where John Betjeman Lies

This short poem was inspired by a visit to the resting place of former Poet Laureate, John Betjeman (1906-1984) at St Enodoc’s Church nr Polzeath in Cornwall. Betjeman was enchanted with Cornwall, its people, its heritage and most importantly its stunning scenery. My wife and I visit the county several times a year where we own a lodge on a holiday park – more preferable to buying a second home down there and pricing a local family out of the property market. I wrote this some time ago but having made some slight amendments I am publishing it now. If you enjoy Betjeman’s poetry and other writings and haven’t been to Cornwall, especially to the places mentioned in this poem, you are missing a real treat. Enjoy.

 

In the Cornish parish of Minver

Under the shadow of Bray Hill,

Lies the Norman church of St Enodoc

Where golfers stroll the fairways still.

Its 12th Century origins restored in Victorian times

Rood, alter and stained glass, a feast for devoted eyes.

A picturesque splendour, so in keeping with the landscape it chimes

And in the corner of the Churchyard, is the place where John Betjeman lies.

 

The windswept dunes along Daymer beach

Does oft hide the view of the church from the sea,

But then a low-tide walk along the sands can reach

To Rock and to Padstow, and the ferry across the Camel estuary.

Polzeath, Trebetherick, Port Isaac and Port Quin

Since childhood these places had held him in their thrall,

With its rugged coastal cliffs and heritage of mining for tin

He wrote proudly of the county motto, says simply; One and All!

 

Names like St Petroc, St Endellion, St Tudy, St Teth

Bringers of Celtic Christianity to these pagan Cornish shores.

But to the church of St Enodoc he was carried at his death

And there he was laid to rest, betwixt the valley and the moors.

Simple poetic lines for our memories he gave

Simple poetic lines that let our imaginations rise.

Images etched into our hearts standing here beside his grave

And here in this Cornish paradise, is the place where John Betjeman lies.

 

 

 

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Corporate Suits and Corporate Lattes

My latest poetic effort; a tongue-in-cheek reminisce about those times spent in the corporate world from where the obligatory uniform of suit, tie, briefcase and filofax over the years swiftly became, no suit, open-necked shirt, smart phone and man bag.

So pull up a latte or a mocha, throw in a Belgian bun or tuna mayo sarnie or two, and see if any of what passes below stirs a memory – or a shudder!


Corporate suits and corporate lattes

Are so very corporate things,

Symbols of corporate success

And the status that it brings.

As we strive to climb the ladder

Following the path of chosen careers,

Fashions change and then come back

Once in every twenty years.

Yet one thing remains a constant

That with the beverage of our choice,

When we look and ponder the menu

We wait for that little voice.

The one that swirls inside your head

Every time you join the queue,

Latte or mocha, skinny or full fat

What a terrible dilemma for you.

And if you frequent the high street chains

They’ll like as not offer an inducement or three,

For to those wearing the corporate suits

There exists the aura of much easy money.

Now some may think I’m being bitter

Maybe consumed by jealousy,

That the corporate world is now way beyond

Where I once strived to be.

But nothing can further be from the truth

For it as a writer where I prefer to be,

Wearing my Saracens top and track suit bottoms

And holding a mug of Rosy Lee.

 

 

 

 

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A Budget Response to Philip Hammond

Well thank God some of you may say, that that media circus called The Budget has been done and dusted. Political Leaders of all persuasions will doubtless be on the airwaves pouring forth opinions on the what was good and what was bad blah, blah, blah.

I thought I would provide my own poetic response as an alternative to the millions of words and wasted column inches that once read and then forgotten  about, will  either provide emergency toilet paper or means of wrapping vegetable peelings, depending on which one you read.

So here it is my response called simply, Dear Mr Hammond. Enjoy!

Dear Mr Hammond, today your first budget did present

The media scrum did duly assemble, to record this momentous event.

You cut taxes for the already rich, you provided funding for new school starts

Yet once again the poor and sick, bore the brunt of callous tory hearts.

Social care received only a pittance, this much we expected to see

It seems once again goes the mantra, to do sweet FA to help the elderly.

To those with chronic conditions, who can’t work but need to maintain their dignity

Life has now become even harder, thanks to a vindictive DWP.

With money to burn on Trident, and vanity projects like HS2

Little wonder is it then, there’s nothing but contempt for people like you?

A cabinet full of millionaires, cocooned from life’s many pitfalls and strife

Yet for many in our country after today, there’ll be no let-up in their hardship called life.

And to those suffering mental illness, and those living without permanent accommodation

You failed to find adequate funding, to alleviate this blight on our nation.

You put sixty billion aside for Brexit, in case of unforeseen events

Yet your Government reneged on commitments, to refugee children sleeping in tents.

The self-employed got hit with a tax hike, but some pubs got a thousand pound rate relief

You first gave and then you took it away, just like the most opportunistic nightly thief.

You raised the threshold for personal taxation, you even increased the minimum wage

Yet to still call it, National Living, is enough to send me into a rage.

So congratulations Mr Hammond, you strove to do your manful best

For this the last springtime budget, that concept has finally been laid to rest.

We now look forward to Autumn, when the public spending rounds get started

But one thing we can always predict, it’s the ordinary folk who’ll get shafted.

 

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Second Time Around

This is my latest poetic posting which is a tongue-in-cheek reflection on being married for the second time of asking. You might think that after only six months it might be a bit too soon,  but we have been together nearly fifteen years. So read on, and hopefully, some of this may be strike a chord of familiarity.

 

I recently got married again, last year it was in September

A day which for many, we will always certainly remember.

They say things are usually better the second time around,

But can anyone enlighten me with advice that is good and sound?

My dilemma is so acute, I am perplexed and afflicted by confusion

Can a second chance at happy married life be more than just an illusion?

The reason I pose this question in case I forgot to mention,

Is that our current state of happiness, has made us objects of some close attention.

We’d been together a dozen years quite happily living over the brush

We knew we’d tie the knot one day but we weren’t in any rush.

But when the time had come for us to formalise our union,

We didn’t anticipate the obstacles trying to enter into a loving communion.

Because there are a few things to contemplate which may well indeed infuriate

With those with whom perhaps, we are now ready to commiserate.

Firstly changing of one’s status, ladies, you mostly remember what this is

All the bloody hoops you have to jump through, just to become a Mrs!

Passport, Driving Licence, Bank and Credit cards just to mention a few

Then remembering just for convenience, your Facebook, WhatsApp & Twitter too.

Whatever family name you’re changing be it wife to husband’s, or sometimes husband’s to wife,

There’s always some frigging jobsworth, who enjoys being the cause of much strife!

And don’t ever mention the semantics of so-called polite society

For here on display you will find, much in the way of unbridled hypocrisy.

For according to these self-appointed guardians of the morals of our nation

Marriage changes the sin of fornication, into the more acceptable copulation.

When February 14 draws near being married can sometimes be hard

When seeking to buy my beloved that all-important St Valentine’s card.

There’s plenty for girlfriend, boyfriend, one I love & the love of my life,

Yet do you think I can find a decent one, dedicated to my darling wife?

Yet despite all these obstacles, these difficulties which may blighten our way,

Based on present experience I believe I’m in a position to say.

That taking all things into consideration, I can make this statement profound;

Married life does appear to be better, when undertaken the second time round.

 

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Here in England’s Second City

During the festive season it is common to remember those less fortunate than ourselves especially those who have no permanent shelter. I wrote this poem in response to an article on itv.com posted on December 01st, regarding the scandalous homeless situation here in the West Midlands which is second only to London. (Click here for link) According to the analysis carried out by housing charity, Shelter,  some 16,000 people are classed as homeless in our region with almost 10,000 alone in Birmingham. Perhaps our New Year resolution for 2017 should be to bring more pressure to bear on our elected politicians to end the scourge of homelessness. A good place to start perhaps, would be with those standing for election as Mayor of the Combined West Midlands Authority on 04th May 2017. The poem is below.

 

Here in England’s Second City

Here in England’s second city

People are sleeping on the streets,

While the shoppers hurrying quickly

Searching for those Christmas treats.

Times like this can be very hard,

When deciding to use which credit card.

But for the homeless in our city

Not for them goodwill to all,

Killing time it passes slowly

Waiting for the dark to fall.

On the streets it’s cold and lonely,

With Sleeping bags to protect them only.

For the many in our city

Christmas is a time of pride,

Gifts and presents we’ll be exchanging

Season’s greetings on this yuletide.

But for those without a home

Left alone, on the streets to roam.

So as we shop and drink and party

As we put on our merry face,

Ten thousand people in this city

Lack an affordable, permanent place.

Stable and cradle were once Jesus’ stalls,

Now replaced by retail malls.

 

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