Social Comment – 2018

 

Social Comment for Year 2018.

 

        Welcome to yet another year in Kingswood.

          The New Year came to Kingswood in it’s usual noisy manner with a plenty of fireworks. A dry night for a change.

Some of us will have watched on the TV the amazing display from the Thames embankment with the London Eye again the centerpiece. A really amazing show; but my highlight was the sound and sight of Big Ben chiming the midnight hour. Specially turned on for the occasion as it has not previously rung since the start of the renovations to the tower earlier last year; and which are not due for completion for more than three years. I miss it!

          The Hornets lost their first match of the year to Manchester City, away from home. 2nd Jan. This was not unexpected; as most teams have suffered at the hands of a rampant City team. We knew things were going badly when we went down one nil in 38 seconds. The final score was 3-1. Not too bad considering City have won 20 and drawn 2 of their matches this season and not been beaten for 30 games.

           Another Atlantic gale (Eleanor) has disrupted traffic; closing bridges and turning over high sided vehicles. 3rd Jan. With Amber warnings in the North it has limited its spite to local aerials and fences. Together with this event we are promised first a deluge, with the rain turning to snow at the weekend in some areas. It will however be less windy. That’s all right then!

          The NHS has decided to delay all January routine appointments and pre-planned surgery until at the earliest, February. This includes hip and knee replacements. It is calculated that this will amount to in the region of 55,000 ops. Or rather non-ops! This move is to allow staff to treat the very sick and free up beds, with ambulances waiting outside A & E departments for sometimes lengthy periods due to non availability of beds in the department and then patients are still sometimes treated in the passageways. One senior executive is quoted as saying. “The position at the moment is as bad as I’ve ever known. Pre-Christmas, 43 trusts were more than 98 % full, despite 3,000 extra beds in use. I expect this to be at least doubled, maybe trebled today.”  Flue seems to be one of the major contributory causes, and there is some doubt that proper  advantage has been taken of the free vaccination offered back in the Autumn.

Perhaps with no connection to the previous paragraph, it is reported that 2,631 women had travelled to the UK to give birth last year at a cost to the NHS of around £16 million. The Trust seem incapable of recovering the costs; as they are legally required to do, it is also suspected that many more non-qualified mothers have been given the maternity service, and not even recorded. Birth tourism is just a part of the much wider abuse of the NHS. Thousand arrive on our shores to receive treatment for numerous complaints and diseases, despite the fact that their countries may well be receiving some of the £13.4 billion sent overseas by the UK foreign aid.

          January has seen extreme weather conditions all over the world. The US has had heavy snow and the lowest temperatures previously recorded, whilst in Australia; particularly in and around the Test Match venues, they have suffered with temperatures of over 40 degrees.

This later situation is not entirely to blame for the Ashes white-wash! The “Poms” did not play well or up to expectations.

          President Trump has again reinforced his popularity in several parts of the world. 12th Jan.

He has been branded as a shocking and shamefully racist following second-hand reports that he had described African nations, Haiti and El Salvador as “sxxxholes”, and has demanded to know why so many of their peoples had been permitted to enter the US. US.diplomats have been summoned to embassies all over the world for a formal reproach  that such crude remarks could be made in a semi-public meeting by a US president.

The UN has said that it was impossible to describe his remarks as anything other than racist. The Vatican say that the remarks were “particularly harsh and offensive” whilst the African Union say Trump was being “clearly racist”.

According to Iran he has “crossed the red line” by imposing restrictions on its judiciary. Their foreign ministry has promised to retaliate, but has not specified how. They also reject any efforts by the US to change its world nuclear deal.

The US has imposed more sanctions in 14 areas over alleged rights abuses.

A visit by the president to the UK for the proposes of declaring the new US embassy building open next month has been cancelled. He “tweeted”…

“Reason I cancelled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for ‘peanuts,’ only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars. Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”

He blamed what he called a bad deal on Barrack Obama, when it was fellow Republican George W. Bush that did the deal. Meanwhile Boris Johnson called Sadiq Khan the Mayor of London a “puffed up pompous popinjay”, accusing him of endangering Anglo-American relations by crediting anti-Trump feeling as the reason for the cancellation. Khan had promised “mass peaceful protests” if the visit took place.

It would appear that although you don’t like your trading partner’s actions a great deal, you can’t do without them entirely. Particularly if you are leaving the EU.

           The NHS looks likely to be further hit with even more admittance’s due to Flu. 13th Jan. with a forecast that the weather will revert to arctic conditions during next week.  A late; and possibly too late, rush for flu injections, has depleted the stocks in some areas.

          Carillion, the massive construction giant has gone into liquidation. 16th Jan. The company has many associates and support companies and there is fear for in the region of 20,000 jobs throughout the construction industry. With involvement in such projects as the Channel Tunnel and Crossrail, the Battersea power station conversion to Tate Modern, and having achieved more orders for an involvement in High Speed rail, new hospitals, and providing services to many schools, hospitals and jails, it is difficult for the layman to appreciate why they should have debts. of £1.5billion. The management of the company has been described in some areas as reckless and the Banks apparently will not support them. The government has also refused a bailout and have said the “taxpayer” will not be landed with a massive bill. As usual in these sort of circumstances the pension fund deficit rears its ugly head. The Pension Protection Fund will bear the brunt of providing the cash, thought to be in the region of £1billion, to provide the numerous qualifying employees retirement funding. Much has been made of the fact that some executives continue to draw large amounts of cash, despite the failure and in some cases that they no longer worked at the time of the collapse. Politicians have latched onto this fact, and comment that bonus’s for poor performance are not the way to go. In rather more eloquent and forceful wording!

          The view at the end of Briar Road has changed. The new flats that replace the old Police Station across the A405 do little to improve the view. The Police Station was no great eye pleaser but at least it kept its head down.

          The EU are allegedly pressurising Switzerland not to make a bilateral trade agreement with the UK. They must choose between the UK and the EU. And never the twain shall meet. This would appear to fly in the face of the EU claims that they are not trying to punish the UK for its audacity in voting to leave.

Meanwhile, French President Macron will likely attempt to persuade Theresa May to take more migrants from the Jungle Camp in Calais, including unsupported children. A yes would see France supporting the UK in obtaining a favourable trade deal. Now this can’t be true, can it?

The camp has already been cleared once, only to fill again. If it gets around; and with anti social media it certainly will, that another group of unfortunates have made it across the channel legally, then, with virtually no border controls the camp will soon refill.

          A first attempt at using the self checking system at ASDA. Having overcome the fact that the operating button was not too obvious, the collection of the goods and their storage directly into our shopping bags worked pretty well. I was asked to confirm I was old enough to buy a bottle of Gin, and reminded that the cap lock should be removed at the checkout. So far so good. With the help of an assistant we downloaded our contents and paid our bill by card, but redeeming the cash comparison from last week’s shopping was another matter. It required that a very long number be entered manually..twice, before the operation was complete. A little more fun than queuing at the very few manual counters actually manned, or attempting to beat the odds at the self checkout lines, but it surely should not be so difficult to pay for the weekly shop!

          Freezing temperatures and mayhem on the Scottish and Northern England roads herald the start of two new batches of nasty weather from across the Atlantic. 17th Jan.

          It has been announced that Britain will pay £44.5m to prevent another refugee camp forming in Calais or adjacent to it. It will pay for fencing, CCTV and other detection devices and it will be used to relocate port town migrants to other parts of France.

Other measures will be announced by Theresa May and French President Macron to reinforce the close relationship the countries will continue to have after Brexit.

The two Prime Ministers are preparing to issue a long communique showing how their countries will co-operate on defence, intelligence, culture and “shared futures”.

With these aims in mind, we will get the loan of the Bayeux Tapestry for display in the UK and will accelerate the program for teaching the French language in our schools.

Where this 70 metre long embroidery will be displayed; with its very necessary high security, is yet to be determined. Commissioned by the Bishop of Bayeux; the half brother of William The Conqueror, in the 1070s, it depicts the last time that England lost at home as played at Hastings.

 

          Your correspondent has been out of circulation for two months 21st Mar. and will do his best to research some of the interim occurrences.

          The number one event appears to be the attack on a former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a nerve agent developed by the Russians. Boris Johnson claims that it is overwhelmingly likely that President Putin ordered the nerve agent attack.

The subsequent expelling of 23 Russian diplomats from the UK has produced a “tit for tat” reaction from the Soviets.

          The Euro Commission Chief Juncker’s is facing a backlash after sending what is described by some, as a nauseating letter of congratulations to President Putin on his 4th election win. Addressing him as “Excellency”, he promised the EU and Russia would always be partners. This came the day after the EU pledged “unqualified support” over the UK spy poisoning and it follows claims of irregularities in the Russian election process. A not uncommon claim following elections in most countries these days.

          Despite the forgoing, there has been some movement in the Brexit negotiations. With a small degree of accord on borders, Gibraltar and Ireland being the main areas.

The seemingly most controversial point appears to be the fact that the new Blue UK passports will be produced in France. This is based on a fair and legitimate tender arrangement. De la Rue, who have been the suppliers of UK and many other countries passport since the year dot did not provide best price and service. This perhaps emphasis’s that the EU are not out of the running in the commercial stakes. Things will be just as competitive come the break, and possibly more so.

          Jeremy Corbin is not supporting the government on their action following the nerve gas attack and has provided useful propaganda for Moscow whilst created even more divisions within his own party. All very predictable!

          Steven Hawkins, one of the world’s most renowned physicists of the century, who died recently aged 76, is to be interred in Westminster Abbey on Easter Saturday. His final resting place will be in the deserved company of Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. His long fight against Motor Neuron disease has not prevented this exceptional man from being the hero of a generation in the eyes of many young people.

          The Hornets have suffered two heavy defeats at the hands, or should that be feet, of Arsenal and Liverpool. This follows a couple of wins for the new manager. They still need some more points to be remotely safe in the Premiership.

          The NHS is still in crisis, particularly in the area of Social Care. The newly appointed Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been accused of producing “warm words, but no action”. Facing a £2.5billion funding gap by 2020, crisis seems to be the appropriate word for the situation.

          Face book has admitted that millions of personal details have been harvested from their site. A UK firm has been involved in producing documents that could have, and many claim actually have,  assisted parties and leaders in several elections. Donald Trump being one of them. This is a business that the layman will find very difficult to understand. I suppose if you give all your details to anyone, or specially any organisation which deals exclusively in electronic data collection, then you can only expect it will be used to their best advantage by the collector.

          The EU has recalled their Ambassador from Moscow 23rd Mar. in the first sign that they possibly agree with the UK’s take on the attempted murders by nerve gas of the Russian couple. It had not been noted that an attending Policeman was also effected with the nerve agent whilst attending the incident and was badly affected.

          A Boeing Dream Liner landed at Heathrow following the first none stop passenger flight from Australia. 25th Mar. Perth to London in seventeen hours. It must have been hell! It is a new scheduled service and will eventually be followed by a another service from Sydney. What’s a few more hours on top of seventeen. When it’s dead, it’s dead!

          Things have really livened up on the nerve gas attack front. 27th Mar. 21 countries, including 16 EU members have expelled more than 100 Russian diplomats in support of the original UK action. The US has also shut down one Consulate in Seattle completely. It is thought that President Putin chose Britain for the attack as they were isolated from Europe due to the Brexit action and will probably be shocked by the unprecedented international response to his actions.

There is little doubt that Putin will respond in kind to the action and that as the newly elected leader with a large majority he will have plenty of support at home.

           Its not Cricket scream the sports headlines, as a ball tampering scandal rocks the Australian team on tour in South Africa. TV pictures actually show the introduction of substances such as sugar into pockets of bowlers, and in truth the authorities have not really categorically denied it. Exclusions are currently happening.

          26 countries have now expelled Russian diplomats, 28th Mar. making a current total of 140 following the Salisbury nerve gas attack on the Russian Segei Skripal and his daughter. They both remain in hospital and it is admitted that their long term health prospects are still not known. Decontamination of the site of the attack is expected to take weeks, and even months.

          There is a year to go from today 28th March. before Brexit takes force. An awful lot of negotiations to take place in the interim, with a still strong lobby to cancel the whole thing.

          Russia has retaliated for the expulsion of its diplomats from all over the world by expelling a comparable number of foreign personnel. 29th Mar.  President Putin still says it is a Western plot, and despite what is claimed in the UK as a cast iron case as to responsibility, That it is all an anti Russian ploy. The highest concentration of nerve agent was found on the front door of the victims house!

          Council tax in Watford is going up by 2.99% next year. This is less than rumoured.

          The bill from Affinity Water for fresh water supply and waste removal and treatment at my address, averages just over £1 a day. A service taken for granted!

          Watford High Street is a virtual no go area, with most of the roadway between Clarendon Road and Market street either dug up or in the process of receiving large; what look like granite, blocks. It will be lovely when it’s finished, in the mean time the work is disrupting everything, particularly the bus routes.

          Watford’s Heavyweight boxing champion Antony Joshua beat Joseph Parker on points to add yet another belt to his collection. 31st Mar.  He now holds the WBA, IBF, IBO and WBO belts and has difficulty carrying them on his not inconsiderable arms. An American holds the final WBC belt and Joshua is laying claim to that one too.

He qualifies for inclusion in this commentary due to his being a Garston man, who already has a Golden Post-box in the High Street in recognition of his being Olympic Heavyweight Champion. He also seems to be a nice guy.

          The Hornet threw away two points when they drew 2-2 against Bournemouth. An unnecessary penalty and a lapse in the area in the last few minutes did the damage. They are close to being safe in the Premiership and two more points may well have done the trick.

           A trip to the Town Centre was made on Saturday 7th Apr. via the Market. This area is a sorry effort and consequently had few visitors whilst we were there. Surely it will not survive the new INTU area now well advanced. Despite barriers and lots of notices an unfortunate woman was hit and killed by a contractors lorry a week or so back.

          News of yet another atrocity is coming through. This time a poison gas attack on civilians in the besieged rebel held town of Douma in Syria. Delivered by helicopter, the prime suspects are the Bashar al-Assad led Syrian government, abetted by Russia and Iran. Donald Trump has already promised retribution. “Nothing is off the table” he has said. We await the outcome of his discussions, and those of the UK and French governments.

          The Hornets were beaten at home 8th Apl. despite having 75% of the play and numerous corners. A double substitution in the second half immediately produced two goal for the visitors, and it was all over. Oh for a goal scorer! Still not safe in the Premiership with half a dozen games to go.

          The rhetoric on what sort of response the international community will levy on Syria, or Russia, or Iran, continues, as the death toll is refined to 40,. with many hundreds suffering injuries from the suspected Chlorine gas outrage. 11th Apl. UN weapons inspectors are on their way to the site to investigate and have demanded “full transparency, credibility, and full and tangible evidence. They may well be shutting the stable door…. as with a US aircraft carrier group heading towards the area and all military units reinforced and on alert, together with The UK and France promising support, as yet unidentified, there seems to be little chance that things are not going to get very noisy in Syria, very soon. This is without a doubt a very serious situation, not only for the Middle East, but for the world.

          The threatened air strike by the US, UK and France took place this morning 14th Apr. at 02.00 our time. Two areas were hit, and it is claimed they were both either chemical weapon manufacturing or storage facilities. Russia threatens reprisals and further claims that the gas outrage was a western scam to blacken the character of Assad and them.

No detail as to the actual targets or the ordinance used is available as yet only seven hours after the event.

The UK parliament was not recalled to make the decision and several factions are now calling it unconstitutional. If mayhem was the aim of the original gas attack, it was certainly successful.

          Russia also claim that the nerve gas attack in the UK on their ex agent and his daughter was false news from the UK government. The daughter, who appears to have made at least a partial recovery, has been locked away by force and they have not been allowed access, they say. The public have no chance to find out the truth when such international lying takes place on a regular and continuous basis.

          It is confirmed that the attacks on three chemical warfare associated installation in Syria; one near to Damascus and two close to Homs; where in total 107 missiles of various types were launched from US and French naval vessels and RAF fighters. 14.th Apr. All the identified targets were hit. The allies claim to great effect, the Syrian government say only superficial damage occurred. It is thought that they were expecting a much larger and more indiscriminate operation. President Trump has stated they are “locked and loaded” pending the further use of internationally banned chemical ordinance by the Syrians.

          In 1948; when the UK was recovering from the war, there was a severe shortage of manual labour; in part due to the loss of so many fighting men over the five war years. The government of the day arranged for an offer to be made to the West Indies to provide immigrants to help fill this gap. A ship, The Empire Windrush, was dispatched and a number of families arrived with their families, big fedora hats and cardboard suitcases. They helped to fill many vacancies, particularly on the railways and buses. They were the first of many thousands Commonwealth residents who have made their lives and raised their families in the UK.

One of the problems is that in those earlier days children were covered on their parents passport and never obtained one in their own right. The other problem is that in 2010 the Home Office destroyed thousands of landing cards, for reasons unknown, and not admitted. These were the only records available to prove the validity of residence. Subsequently the first and second families of the originals found they were not entitled to health benefits, some lost their jobs, and threats of deportation were made in the governments immigration crackdown. Teresa May has apologised to the Caribbean leaders for what she calls “The scandal”. All efforts will be made to overcome the problem. Commonwealth citizens are not the target of the operation. 17th Apr.

Of course politics and point scoring cannot be left out of the subject. Never mind the anguish and hurt to the immigrants, Whose fault is it? Who destroyed the documents? Who did not tell those concerned they needed to register in some form if they held no passport? Lots of room for political sniping. Lots of reputations to ruin and possibly some to make. A sorry state of affairs.

           The inspectors who were to be given “full transparency, credibility, and full and tangible evidence” when at the site of the “alleged” chemical warfare atrocity in Syria had not of last night 19th Apr. been allowed anywhere near it. Gun shots were fired by aggressors unknown. Russia still claim it was a Western plot. As was the nerve gas attack on their ex spy in Salisbury.

          The temperature was 35C. yesterday and the promise is  of higher today. No doubt we will pay severely for this blip in due course.

          Prince Charles will succeed the Queen as President of the Commonwealth heads of State. 20th Apr. It was decided by the delegates in private discussions following the Queens request that he follow her in the post.

          Kim Jong Um, the North Korean President has said that their quest for nuclear weapons is “complete” and it “no longer needs” to test their capabilities. 21st Apr. This move is seen to be significant ahead of diplomatic talks with both South Korea and the US. What it actually means will be the problem for those directly involved in the talks. It is certainly untypical of the usual rhetoric come from the North Korean capital. Kim Jong Um travelled to and met the Chinese leader a few weeks ago. Again, this is an everyday occurrence!

          The good weather continues here in Watford. Thursday was the hottest April day for 70 years. Thunderstorms are forecast to interfere late in the weekend.

          St Georges Day 23th Apr. coincides with the birth of a new Prince. He is fifth in line to accede to the throne. In to hospital in the morning, out at tea time, his mother; the Duchess of Cambridge held the as yet unnamed child on the steps for the press. His father say’ his third child is doing well.

          The weather has reverted to the norm following a thunder storm at the weekend. 25th Apr. Sunshine and showers, and not very warm. More rain is threatened.

          The new Prince will be named Louis Arthur Charles. 27th Apr. The first name honours Lord Louis Mountbatten who was Prince Charles mentor before he was killed by an IRA bomb. He will officially be known as HRH. Prince Louis of Cambridge.

          North Korean Leader Kim Jong Um has crossed the 49th parallel into the south, to meet the President Moon. 28th Apr. It seems to talks were cordial and the north will close one of its nuclear test sites and cease missile tests. There is also talk of bring the north into the same time zone as the south.

With such a change in attitude it is not surprising that Donald trump, whilst pleased about the apparent change of heart, has said “the US will not be played like a fiddle”. Never smile at a crocodile!!

The Hornet play Spurs tomorrow, 25th Apr. having achieved just two points out of the last six games. Their fate is really no longer realistically in their own hands with many of the lower placed teams suddenly finding form  but here’s hoping.

          The now named “Windrush” arguments continue. It would appear that the fate of the people actually involved is less of an issue than the political expedient of forcing Amber Rudd the Home Secretary to resign. There seems little doubt that her Home Office has fallen far short of its responsibilities, and she as The Boss will have to take the blame eventually. A little bias and effort  towards insuring the future to those whose families helped to get the UK out of a considerable hole at the end of the war would be more laudable. There are surely many illegal migrants worthy of attention, especially those that milk the NHS as health tourists.

          ASDA and Sainsbury’s have announced a merger. 30th Apr. In a several billion Pound deal Sainsbury’s have taken over operation of both companies. Lower prices for the customer and no closures of shops or loss of jobs. Where have we heard all that before? This arrangement make the combined companies the biggest supermarket organisation in the UK.

          Amber Rudd, the Home secretary has resigned and the PM has appointed Savid Javid in her place. It would appear that Amber’s  position had become impossible when she denied a quota existed for deporting illegal immigrants. It sounds as though her Home Office staff let her down badly. The opposition now say that Theresa May should follow her Home Secretary. Where would we be without party politics?

          At last the Hornets have managed to win a game, only just, but enough to guarantee they will be playing in the Premiership next season. 5th May. Their Groundsman has won a cup for the excellent condition of the pitch. Could be they will have to commission a carpenter to build a Trophy cabinet? Just a small one!

          The temperatures have been in the low 30s over this Bank Holiday weekend. 7th May. but forecast to get a bit cooler over the next few days.

          The local elections have produced a new Mayor of the Lib Dem variety; and Dorothy’s choice, Peter Taylor.  Keith Crout was re-elected to the Borough Council.

          Just when some of the flash-point dangerous countries seemed to be turning the corner in the direction of common sense, Donald Trump has leapt in and stirred up a situation; that was by no means stable anyway, into a hornets’ nest. 8th May. The Obama agreement with Iran to kerb their ambitions to become a major nuclear power; which entailed the removal of some economic sanctions from the country, has been rescinded. It would be nice to think that Trump had more basis for this removal than the fact that Obama made the agreement in the first place! The EU; and therefore us, have not as yet reacted in the same way. Boris Johnson; on behalf of the UK, has tried personally to persuade Trump to renegotiate and not cancel the agreement. “Heads” and “brick walls” come to mind. This arrangement should help to keep the home fires burning in an area that does not need a lot of extra fuel to spontaneously combust!

          Waste; and in particular non biodegradable plastics, are burying the world. 10th May. Graphic proof is shown regularly on the TV news, with Far Eastern rivers swamped with plastic bottles, glasses and all the other manufactured forms of the substance. The world’s seas contain ton upon ton of ground up plastic; and proof that it is reaching the food chain are claimed. Massive ‘fat-balls’ block up the sewage pipes all over the world. These contain; in addition to the binding fat, everything non-biodegradable that is flushed down the toilet or just discarded.

Apparently one of the worst offenders is ‘Wet Wipes’, which allegedly cause up to 90% of domestic sewage system blockages in the UK. Our use, and dependency on these and other like products cannot continue. Suggestions that ‘Wet Wipes’ be banned has brought comments such as… “I would immediately put my child up for adoption if I can’t have “Wet Wipes”! What happened to a clean handkerchief and the command, “spit on this”? The use of so many luxury items seem to have been converted to “Life on this planet is not possible without them” situations. Popular science fiction suggests the world could well be destroyed by a rogue asteroid. It would be somewhat less dramatic; but a lot messier, if it was a gigantic plastic laden fat-ball that did the trick.  Surely we can’t continue in this thoughtless manner.

          The Hornets have finished their season with a one-nil loss at Manchester United after playing reasonably well. 13th May. This game was a microcosm of their season. They couldn’t score; having made the openings, and the defence lost concentration; just the once. It remains to be seen if the current manager survives. Recent history suggests he won’t.

          Today is the 75th anniversary of one of the defining operations of World War 11. 16th May. A squadron of Lancaster heavy bombers; using a “bouncing bomb” developed by a man named Barnes Wallis, and partly tested at the Building Research Station on the A405, destroyed two dams (The Eder & Mohne) in Germany’s Ruhr Valley, this severely limiting the production capabilities of the Nazi war machine. 617 Squadron consisted of 19 airplanes, and flying within very close height and speed parameters over the head waters, they bounced their barrel shaped ordinance to hit the dam wall and sink, before detonating. 53 airmen were killed and 3 were captured in an exercise that is claimed to have considerably shortened the war.

          The wedding of Prince Harry to American ex-media star Meghan Merkle took place at Windsor Castle yesterday. 19th May. The sun shone and billions of people across the world witnessed the ceremony,  and the subsequent horse drawn parade along the Long Walk in Windsor Park.  St Georges Chapel was the venue of the service and could not have been better chosen. The pageantry was; as usual, carried out with great dignity and precision.

          President Trump has cancelled his meeting with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-um. He cited the North Koreans bad faith and tremendous anger and open hostility” in recent public statements as the reason for his cancellation. Trump lamented this missed opportunity. “a truly sad moment in history”. 24th May.

Trump has later said the planned 12th June meeting could still be on. Surprisingly, North Korea had issued a conciliatory response which said they hoped Mr Trump would reconsider. He tweeted on 25th May. reference “the warm and productive statement from North Korea.

The president emphasized the conciliatory tone with a tweet early Friday, saying “the warm and productive statement from North Korea” could lead “hopefully to long and enduring prosperity and peace.”

Sandwiched between these happenings have been nuclear threat and counter; but much bigger, counter threat.

This latest action appears to be an extension of the “mine is bigger than yours”, flow of diplomacy. Where it will lead is anyone’s guess.

          Two “Think-tanks”, these being the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and the Health Foundation, have come to the conclusion that there is no alternative to higher taxation to achieve even modest improvements to health and welfare care over the next 15 years, as the ongoing demands on the NHS continue to rise. Others suggest that at least another £2,000 per annum, per household will be required to meet the needs of our ever increasing population and its aging profile.

On the connected subject, attendances at hospital A & E departments, and the demand from Ambulance emergency services have been highlighted recently by a series of “fly on the wall” TV. documentaries. It was obvious where some of the loads came from, but how nearly impossible it was to prevent them. Mental Health; and in particular dementia, was the reason given for many of the calls. Together with purely age related problems, these often filled beds, where little hope of other than first aid and “make as comfortable as possible” ruled. Drugs and alcohol caused a significant overload, particularly at “end of the week” periods. Add to this the apparently ever increasing use of knives to settle gang and alleged area disputes, gives a fair summary of the conclusions drawn by this viewer.

Many side issues were raised. I comment only, not advise, or even think I have the answers.  The use of “Social Media” to stoke up the gang fires, the increasing use; leading sometimes to dependency, of recreational drugs and the need for ever increasing funding to purchase them. The apparent epidemic of stabbings, some leading to the death of the victim. Alcohol, smoking and obesity are the subject of much official propaganda, but medical thought is that many of the emergency cases would have been avoided; or delayed, if some notice had been taken of the warnings.

Whatever the reason, it seems likely that we will have to pay more for the service we have come to expect.

          Today is determined as the date in the tax year when we can actually start to earn some money. 29th May. Dubbed “Tax Freedom Day”. Up till now we have only earned what will be required to pay our PAYE for the year.

          NHS Trust in the UK have declared a joint deficit of £960million against a forecast of £496million. This despite various government top-ups throughout the year.  30th May. The reasons given are in line with those mentioned earlier on this page. The deficit has mainly occurred in Acute Hospitals due to additional patient demand.. In addition the claim is that the service has a staff shortage of 100,000.

          This has been a week of torrential rain, 31st May. and electrical storms in many areas of the UK. Parts of the Midlands have been under several feet of water earlier. Whilst a lot of rain fell on Tuesday, Kingswood has fortunately not suffered in the same way. It continues to threaten rain from an often cloudy sky. Just what you need for a Bank Holiday and half term break. The temperatures have been OK and the gardens are absolutely loving  the conditions, as indeed are the slugs and snails.

          It would appear that the Trump / Kim Jong-um meeting in Singapore is of this moment, on. 2nd June. Neither one is prepared to say what they will talk about and it will be interesting to see if they can avoid walking out due to some perceived slight.

          Via an initiative by the KRA, all members have been provided with a pack to mark their valuables with SMARTWATER. 6th June. The product, if it is registered with the providing company, and all the at risk items marked, they will be given a discrete reference that the police can identify against the master data base. A very welcome innovation, but what a pity it is necessary to have to protect our property against theft; beyond locking our doors and windows and taken sensible precautions. Stay safe!

          The on off meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-um of North Korea has taken place in Singapore. 12th June. Apparently the result is a world changing/saving agreement on denuclearising the Korean peninsula and withdrawing US troops from their “advisory” role in the Southern half of the country. Considering only a few weeks ago they were both prepared to annihilate each other, it would seem miracles can still happen. No details of of this particular “instance” are as yet published.

          Trump has also announced a worldwide 25% tariff on the steel and 10% on aluminum exports. No doubt retaliation will be the order of the day. But with what?

          The PM has promised that “fair & balanced” taxation will be used to provide a £20 billion injection of funds to a cash strapped NHS. This contribution, includes the cash; amount not yet determined, from the monies the UK will not pay to the EU after Brexit. 18th June. All sorts of herrings, red and otherwise, are being flung in the ensuing political bun fight. Questions are being asked about unwarranted foreign aid, uncontrolled population increases, poor middle management, foreign and UK freeloaders, and even free hospital parking. Our members of Parliament could perhaps show a little more concern for the people that elected them and a little less for their individual parties. Scoring points does not make for a better health service.

          England won their first game against Tunisia last evening in the Russia held World Cup. In an 80 degrees plus temperature; and masses of flying insects, they took an early lead; pressed hard and made half a dozen or so good chances that were spurned due to poor finishing. Then after 30 minutes they somehow lost heart. A disputed penalty gave Tunisia a goal; and it looked then as though it was always going to be a draw. The added time at the end gave Harry Kane the chance to settle the win, which he took well, adding to his first half score. The use of VAR at these games seems to show it does not work. Kane was wrestled to the ground in the area twice; in a manner obvious to everyone, bar the “on field” and VAR referees. We should perhaps be grateful for small mercies. Long may they persist.

          Today is the 2nd Anniversary of the referendum to leave the EU. 23rd June. Much of the country was surprised at what they had done, and the government have yet to get over the same fact. Several politicians are still of the opinion that “Brexit” did not happen and the peoples decision; right or wrong, can be ignored. Two multinational companies are now; or so they say, making contingency plans to work round the UK, unless some progress on a breakup trade agreement, among others, is made. It would not be difficult to believe that I am not the only one to agree that a little progress would make sense.

      England have won their way into the Knockout section of the FIFA World Cup in Russia in a much more emphatic manner, winning 6-1 against Panama. Tonight 28th June. they play Belgium to decide the final top two group placing, and thus who they will meet in the first knockout match next week.

“VAR” has provided a lot of interesting discussion through all the ties, and has mainly resulted in the correct decision, although at the expense of breaking up play. It is of particular note that players have been apparently poleaxed; clasping their heads and faces when the point of contact; if indeed there is one at all, has been anywhere but the head.

England won through to the last eight in Moscow, following a loss to Belgium in the last group game. They beat Columbia in a penalty shoot out. 4th July. They had been in the lead from the middle of the first half via a penalty but following an equaliser in the last seconds of the 30 minutes extra time, via a splendid save and a coolly taken last shot, they won through. I doubt there have been many games where so many fouls went unpunished, or under punished than this one. The lack of discipline, and of effective control; by a referee mobbed  on every occasion he did award a yellow card or free kick to Columbia was not a great advert for the game of football.

          This week is the 70th anniversary of the NHS. 5th July. Lots of  things have happened in the intervening years since its inception in a just Post war Britain, many of them excellent, and some earth shattering. The problem would now seem to be that the service is to some extent a victim of its own success. The population are living much longer with the preventative and remedial treatment being the reason, but in many cases this longevity brings with it dementia, in its many forms, that requires the care that the service is unable to fully provide.
Obesity is still a ticking bomb, but already has its demands on a service that is fully stretched; and if we are to believe some sources, beyond sensible and reasonable limits!
With the problem being very evident in children of school age it would appear that the Teresa May injection of £20 billion into the NHS announced last week will require a much larger needle in the near future.

          The very hot and dry weather continues. 5th July. We are threatened with hosepipe bans.

          Theresa May held a top level cabinet meeting at Chequers yesterday, 6th July and apparently successfully put down what amounted to a revolt by several top members, Boris Johnson being one. Although these members expressed their opposition to her plan she came out of the meeting with an unanimous backing for a 12 point action plan to accelerate the drive to leave the EU as determined by the referendum that was in danger of being forgotten altogether. The plan encompassed free trade for goods, and the border between Northern and Southern Ireland.

This is not the forum for detailed discussion. Further details will soon be available for those that take a constructive interest.

          Coinciding with this news comes the offer from Donald Trump, via his Ambassador Robert “Woody” Johnson, of a quick Zero Tariff trade deal between the post Brexit UK and the US. The US President is due to visit the UK next week and he claims he “wants to dramatically increase transatlantic trade between the allies after Britain quits the EU.” “The sky’s the limit”. Whilst ulterior motives will certainly be in the mind of some, this is a “gift horse” to be examined facially, and with care!

          England beat Sweden in Russia and have reached the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup. 7th July. They played well and scored two good goals against a team that could not handle their runs with the ball. Our “baby” goalkeeper came of age with two very important saves. They play Croatia in the semi-finals. It is reported that the roads were empty during the afternoon.

          After objecting to the Theresa May proposals to push on with Brexit at the weekend cabinet meeting, and then signing the agreement, Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary and David Davis, the Brexit Secretary have both resigned their posts. 8th July. Can Theresa May survive?  Can Brexit survive?  Have you lost the will to live?

          Today 10th July. marks the Centenary of the forming of the RAF. It was celebrated with a parade at at Buckingham Palace followed by a massive fly past. Over 100 aircraft took part and one display by 22 Typhoon jets in a formation spelling out 100 was a masterpiece of precision flying. Thousands watching the display along the Mall and in front of the Palace were rewarded with a finale provided by the iconic Red Arrows.

          The countries mood was somewhat dampened in the evening by the loss to Croatia by the England soccer squad in the Russian World Cup semi-finals. One goal up in ten minutes, but unable to sustain their superiority, they lost 2-1. They have been a real lift to the country and done better than most of the previous efforts since 1966.

          France beat Croatia in the final for the World Cup. 15th July. England lost in the play off’s and finished fourth. Despite this fact the series as a whole has given a lot of pleasure and was well managed by Russia. I am still not sure about VAR!

          The Brexit fiasco continues. With Theresa May getting more resignations by the day and having to buy off other colleagues with concessions we have a situation that no one can claim to understand. Any resemblance to the original referendum short list has disappeared completely. It has also been suggested that we have another referendum. Best of three?

          Donald Trump has been this side of the Atlantic, met Angela Merkel in Germany and had tea with our Queen. He also met Putin in Sweden. He told Mrs May that she should sue the EU. Bull in a china shop describes his lifestyle to a tee. Lots of people did not like his presence in both England, and Scotland; where he played golf on His golf course. How anyone can take politicians seriously at the moment I find difficult to understand.

          The weather continues to be both hot and dry. 17th July. The sun has barely had a day off since early June. Hose pipe bans are to be introduced in the North as from next month and many heath fires have raged, virtually uncontrolled. It is considered that some are by accident, and some by arson. Why?

          The weather is getting a bit boring with the constant high temperatures and almost continuous sunshine. 23rd July. All sorts of records have been broken, and it looks as though there might be a few more to come.

          The other bore is Donald Trump. He seems to change his mind more often than his socks and continues to frustrate his advisers and virtually everyone else he comes into contact with. May, Merkel and Putin have all been “the greatest since sliced bread” and “the pits” virtually during the same day. The latest statement involves an invitation to Putin to visit the White House, this after claiming the Kremlin had interfered with the US. election that put Trump in power. The FBI are apparently livid. The man is patently out of control.

          Still no sign of a break in the high temperatures or rain. 26th July. It is currently a little over 35 centigrade half way down the garden. Without some water many of the plants wilt every day.

          5pm on Friday 27th July. 35 degrees C. and clouding over by 5.15pm it was pouring with rain with occasional thunder. This is the first precipitation of any consequence since mid May and hopefully will help to douse some of the heath fires that have been virtually uncontrollable over the last few weeks.

          The rain was intermittent over night but the electrical storm activity was sufficient to cause considerable delays and cancellations to flights into and out of southern England. 28th July. It also put a Eurostar train out of action that added to the travel chaos.

In addition to this the South Western trains are hit by a strike over the loss of train guards. Most of the internet content on the subject is aimed at how to, and how much the frustrated passengers can claim in compensation. There seem a lot less interest in the drivers grievances, or the actual delays

Last night saw the Moon in eclipse for 1hr 45 minutes, almost the longest period possible. The full moon was in the earth shadow and seen as a blood red orb, lit only by the sun’s rays refracted round the earth by its atmosphere. If it had happened yesterday the chances of a good view would have increased considerably, but were affected last night by the sometimes heavy cloud.

          Donald Trump continues to confound nearly everybody, making unusual and unaccountable deals and playing up to Putin. Trade deals and tariffs abound. Who gets the next one, one wonders?

The sun is back in clear blue skies after a few day with a little rain. It was heavy for brief periods but did not turn the lawns green again. We are up to 29 degrees and hotter promised tomorrow.

          The UK Bank Rate was raised to 0.75% from 0.5%, where it has been for more than 10 years. 2nd Aug. There are already comments in the press regarding those with enormous mortgages on which they have been paying virtually no interest. Those with savings will be pleased with the rise, but not a great deal!

          The weather continues to be hot, in the early thirties, but there is a suggestion that this week will see the end of this really unusual spell. 7th Aug. Some rain would be very welcome, but once it arrives it usually does not know when to stop.

          My guess regarding the weather change turned out to be right. The last week has produced some torrential downpours and a drop of 10 degrees in temperature. Today, 16th Aug. has produced another deluge, but appears to have stopped at lunch time. The lawn; which had no green in it at all, is already showing signs of a recovery. The Runner Beans and some of the salad crops are also enjoying the change.

          Not much to comment on. 26th Aug. The weather has reverted to a normal UK August, with temperatures around the 13 degree mark and a very unpromising sky. The lawn seems to appreciate the change. 11 o’clock and it is raining!

          Brexit still takes most of the headlines. It would appear from some sources that the UK public did not really vote to leave the EU, and even if they did, they did not know what they were doing. What about another referendum? Best of three! Not that the electorate can really be trusted with a pencil! It has been jokingly suggested that if the losing FA cup finalists do not like the result then they could always play it again. It is not long now, so we will soon see if we have won or lost.

          A trip down to Cassiobury Park for some fresh air last week showed the changes that have occurred since I last visited an area where I spent most of my early years. Parking in the Gade Avenue car park; along with hundreds of other cars, I could see down towards the river where a play area containing a bouncy castle and aerial runways together with swings and all sorts other apparatus was in heavy use.

Many of the younger visitors seemed to have headed for this area. In my day, if we could get hold of a football; which was not easy, we would throw down our woollies for goal posts, and play until we ran out of energy; or our shoes fell to bits. Or perhaps with a fishing net made from a cane, a bit of bent wire and a stocking foot, we would wade into the river shallows and swish like mad to catch Sticklebacks or Tadpoles, to be taken home in a jam jar with string tied round it for a handle. They would inevitably die quite soon, unless there was a small pond; like ours, to die in, a bit more slowly.

Sitting near the car parks access to the grass it was noticeable that virtually every family group carried a mobile phone. Both kids and parents were often nose down, as they headed for the play area. We suffered in our days from a lack of communication. I recall many a “clip round the ear hole” when I eventually got home; late. With wet or ruined shoes and grass burns all over my knees and elbows. “but I did not know the time” seemed to be a completely unacceptable excuse. Watches were about as rare as footballs in those far of sunny days and evenings.

Margaret tells me that people were playing Croquet and Tennis, and the “now you see it, now you don’t” bandstand had put in another appearance. Unfortunately I had to view the area from the car, or I might just have got my feet wet. (Not).

          The news on a Brexit agreement seemed a little upbeat last week. 2nd Sept. This was a brief respite from the doom and gloom, and “let’s do it again” brigade.

          With several politicians; and their dogs, being accused of an array of alleged and historic sexual demeanours, or some other heinous and somewhat nebulous crime against all things decent, it would appear that these troubled Brexit times are viewed as to being about right for the lid to come off  the various “cans of worms”.  We should not leave out the ancient entertainers. Oh and the church too. They all have a part to play.

          With nine points in the bag from the first three games, the Hornets shared top spot with exulted company until yesterday’s (Saturday’s games). Today they play Spurs at Vicarage Road. Another three point would be useful, but a bit unlikely.

          The weather has been splendid over the last few days, with temperatures in the mid 70’s. Although the recent rain has helped the lawn to recover somewhat from its totally brown state, there are still large patches that have not yet got the message. Looks like re-seeding will be required, which can’t be good news.

          Watford 2, Spurs1. Now there is a result I did not expect to report. Both teams seemed not to be too bothered in the first half and when Spurs scored early in the second, everyone woke up. Great result. They still share top spot, but are third on goal difference. On the table with 12 points from 12 played for.

          Brexit still leads the news headlines. Boris Johnson is the latest to claim we have surrendered. 5th Sept. The EU negotiators, I doubt, can believe their good fortune.

          As a result of trying to obtain permission to print a photograph held by Watford Public Library on the KRA website, it has been discovered that virtually everything of local interest has been collected by HALS (Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies) and stored in an archive in remote County Hall. This enables them to charge for reproduction, not as a one off; which is bad enough, but on an ongoing annual basis. For instance the picture would have cost the KRA £10 per year to appear on the site.

In order to obtain the paid-for permission, it would be necessary to either know exactly what you required beforehand, or travel all the way to Hertford to locate it. Apparently not all of the items obtained from various parts of the county have yet been catalogued so are presently in limbo.

In no way does this operation serve the local populace, and the rationale for the whole arrangement is not at all apparent. In fact on the basis of cost, availability, and commonsense, I find it difficult to justify.Councillor Tim Williams is attempting to provide an acceptable explanation for me. 12th Sept.

          The bus routes serving the Kingswood resident have been deteriorating on an ongoing basis.The Route 8 has been diverted well away from the estate and is rumoured to be under threat. The 324 is to be discontinued altogether and the 10 is sometimes up to 20 minutes late. i.e. Two buses are missing. This week the journey into town took over an hour, and the return; from an unmarked High Street stop, even longer still due to the late arrival in both cases. The eventual return bus was entirely full and therefore it was annoying to have a duplicate arrive in Evans Avenue whilst it was still discharging its passengers.

To meet an appointment time at Watford General Hospital it is necessary to allow an extra 30 minutes on Route 10 for cut services, and even longer for the remote and supposedly less frequent  Route 8 on the Mount Vernon Hospital trip.

          The Hornets have lost their 100% record, going down to Manchester United 1-2 at Vicarage Road on Saturday. 15th Sept. They were noticeably slower than the opposition but extremely unlucky to not score in the last minute due to a save by David de Gea of world class.

          Notification has been received, via The North Watford Allotment and Gardens Society web site, of the demands by National Government on the provision of new housing in the Borough up to 2036. The figures are frightening, not only for the survival of ground for allotments but for the town and its well being. 18th Sept.

The government demands we provide 770 new homes per year for the next 18 years, to accommodate a rise in population of 110,811 during the same period. That is 15%.

This will require massive changes in the town, and an obviously loss of many of the natural amenities we have managed so far to retain. This level of ongoing growth is not; in my opinion, compatible with somewhere decent to live.

More people, more roads, more schools, more hospitals. How long can this state of affairs continue? With a seemingly exponential rise in population levels, someone has to find an answer! I only pose the question, not attempt to provide that answer.

An answer is nevertheless required, not just for Watford or the UK, but for the world.

There are several public meetings up to the 4th October close for initial  consultations on the Watford Plan. There must be details published somewhere!

          It would seem that the 324 bus route is reprieved, at least for the immediate future. 22nd Sept. Although of limited use to those on the estate without full use of their lower limbs, I am told that many residents take advantage of it, and our neighbours on the Meriden would be marooned without it.

It would be nice if the Routes 8 & 10 could be made a little more reliable. Perhaps things will improve when the road works name “Watford High Street” are completed.

          Brexit has been much in the news this last week. Theresa May has been personally attacked in Brussels and the Irish Border has been high on the list of subjects. I suppose we could not have expected less than this abuse and intransigency from the EU negotiators. They must love and need us more than we estimate?

The Labour party has suggested we should make it best of three by holding another “one off” referendum. They seem to think that our treatment by the negotiators would provide a resounding yes vote. This would appear to place us very close to where we are now?

          Watford’s Anthony Joshua has defended his World Championship boxing titles (3) at Wembley with a with a knock out win over Russian champion Alexander Povetkin in the 7th round of their bout in a rain soaked arena. 22nd Sept.

          The local police are carryout a survey today 23rd Sept. to see if the residents have taken advantage of the ‘Associations initiative in sponsoring the Smart Water pack distribution to mark our more valued property. I suspect that not all will have bothered. I hope I am wrong.

          A further reply from HALS in Hertford has made no concessions at all in their charges for reproducing photographs that they have removed from Watford Public Library for storage. 3rd Oct. Councillor Tim Williams has been informed that we may well involve the local press to examine what is felt as a retrograde step in local history reporting. Other items such as Town records and historic street records have also disappeared. In this writers opinion, possibly forever.

          Further to to the comment on the saviour of the 324 bus route. 4th Oct. It would appear that it has been replaced by routes W1-4. Quite what this means, and pending a timetable of some kind, the situation is somewhat fluid!

          The Hornets deserved, and received, a 0-4 thrashing from Bournemouth at Vicarage Road. 6th Oct. They were without any threat and wide open to counter attacks. What has happened to the rampant start to the season?

          We visited by recommendation the Lighthouse Cafe meeting held at the Leavesden Green Community Hub on Monday morning. 8th. Oct. Greeted by a local Clergy from All Saints in Horseshoe Lane we had tea and cakes and a natter, followed by a quiz. Very pleasant and enlightening.

Advertised as a meeting for “Local residents of all ages”, The attendees were mainly of the elder persuasion.  It was interesting to talk with people; mostly slightly younger than us, but living in the main on our own estate. It was also chastening to find that we had lived almost within spitting distance of some of them for donkeys years and not met, or spoken. In one case our only common denominator was the knowledge of the death of a lady who had lived roughly halfway between our respective homes on the estate. MUST DO BETTER!

          The subject of Global Warming, or Climate Change, has come to the fore again. The 2 degree plus limit is apparently not now considered sufficient. Perhaps the extended high temperatures during the summer, 25 degrees in Kingswood on October 12th. and the most severe storm ever in Florida should make us all aware of what we are doing to our planet. If not, then the loss of twelve lives due to flash flooding in the temperate Mediterranean island of Majorca should shake a few doubters. The promise of high winds and heavy rains sweeping across the Western UK. as Storm Callum arrives over the weekend will hopefully be the end of this particular period of natural horrors. It would be nice; but naive, to think there will not be more incidents of the World fighting back.

During the hot mid week period we witness countless Ladybirds hunting for winter hibernation places. Many of them found their way into the house and no doubt will introduce themselves again in the spring.

Following two days of pleasant weather in Kingswood; whilst the West and Wales suffered downpours, today. 14th Oct. dawned to heavy rain and news that Northern Portugal had been hit by a heavy storm causing all kinds of damage.

          The Local Doctors surgery has been advertising drop-in clinics for receiving the Flue jab. Today, 15th Oct. they notify their patients’ that the next clinic is cancelled due to a national shortfall of vaccine. Someone’s got it wrong again.

          Attending the Lighthouse meeting again today we discovered a little more about the arrangement. Charles, a Lay preacher from All Saints in Horseshoe Lane is the Head Honcho from the church, together with a group of unpaid helpers in the kitchen. The hall is provided free by The Watford Housing Trust which also provide the tea and coffee. The church provide the cake!

Designed as a vehicle for residents to meet; and hopefully form new acquaintances, the church; which I learnt today is our Parish Church, has a minimal influence beyond providing the organisation and helpers. Whilst help would be available to anyone that asked, Charles told me that the religious aspect was by no means pushed. He said that occasionally the local P.C.S.O.s would attend and take questions on local issues. Operating only during term time, it had been hoped that some of the younger residents would attend. I felt that Charles was a trifle disappointed that this had not happened, despite his and others attempts’ to inform them.

As my comment. I think possibly an amalgam would not result from such an infusion. I suspect there would be separate groups determined by age and previous friendships. It would be nice if it did work and generations could learn from one another.

I was surprised and a little shocked to discover that a church as far away as Horseshoe Lane was our Parish Church. With the age difference between the church and the estates; no doubt the whole area, including Leavesden would have been very rural with few other churches of the Church of England denomination. I will ask Charles to let me know how big the Parish actually is.

I was on the winning team for the Quiz last week, and on the dummies table this week. The only way is up.

          Further reference Climate Change. After the W/E news came of another flash flood; following a torrential downpour in North West France. More lives were lost and much property damaged or destroyed. And so it goes on!

         A trip to the High Street yesterday  24th Oct. showed another area of the old market square fenced off, to presumably work on the road surface. With only the barriers getting in the way, and absolutely no workmen or materials, this is only a guess.

Towards Clarendon Road the cave like entrance to the new Debenhams store was very evident. Actually entering the store was a step too far for me! It is ironic that the news this morning was of 50 Debenhams outlet closures to attempt to claw back on their current half a billion pound losses. Not Watford; surely?

        The near accident Black Spot by the shops is in danger of being relocated to the Greenwood Drive, Fern Way, Briar Road intersection. Travelling from Fern Way to the shops I was nearly hit by a car exiting Briar Road to go straight across. Just a little wave of acknowledgment as she flashed by. Travelling the other way on Greenwood Drive, a blue car came from Briar Road on my left; causing me to brake and swerve. The driver was looking left, and I am sure had no idea I was approaching from his right. He proceeded to hare down Fern Way, between the numerous cars parked on or near the bend. This particular area was also the site of a police attended RTA last month. On road parking, and lack of general road awareness, would appear to be an ongoing and accelerating problem on the estate.

        It would appear that only 10% of the residents on the estate have taken up the option of the free Smart Water scheme for marking; for identification purposes, their home property. A fairly costly exercise, the facility has been virtually boycotted for no specified reason.

I suspected that this would be the result, as when I was Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator some years back I found there was a definite reluctance to take advantage of any of the facilities available, free of charge. The Smart Water scheme sounds like a good idea to me.

        Today We have seen a pair of Fox’s in the next door garden, 26th Oct. and a long necked Heron showing an unhealthy interest in our Goldfish pond. It is to be hoped that these animals and birds continue to have a bit of grass, a few trees and some fresh water in a few years time.

With the suggestion that much of the area between Cambridge and Oxford will be concreted over by the provision of; it is claimed 1,000,000 essential new homes, together with motorways, schools, shopping areas and hospitals to service them, it must only be a matter of time before the wildlife will have nowhere to live. 700 plus new homes in Watford every year are going to change the face of Watford considerably.

        Football has provided some good news and some horrendous news today. 27th Oct. The Hornets played well and won 3-0 at Vicarage Road. But a helicopter, collecting the Leicester City Chairman and owner from their ground following their Premier League match, crashed and killed both him and all the others on board.

Glen Hoddle, a great player and much loved man; both on and off the field of play, was struck down with a heart attack as he was about to report on another game. Swift re-action has given him a chance of life and he continues to fight in a hospital bed.

I realise that football is not everybody’s cup of tea, but these happenings; both good and bad, form much of the lives of a good many people across the land, and indeed the world.

        A trip to ASDA this morning 29th Oct. was shared with dozens of youngsters and even more Pumpkins. It is amazing how Half-Term coincides with Halloween! Will the flesh of these fruits find their way into the soup pot, or into the green bin?

I suspect the Fireworks will sell quite well this week too; with only a few days to Guy Fawkes day. Diwali follows on the 7th of the month.

The first of these celebrations is Halloween. An ancient rite held on the 31st of October, the Eve of “All Hallows Day”. It has evolved into a remembrance of the dead. Quite how carved Pumpkins and “Trick and Treating” came into the act I am not sure. Perhaps a lightening influence on the many darker thoughts and memories associated with the base reason.

Next comes Guy Fawkes night. This day, 5th November in 1605, remembers the attempts by a group of saboteurs; supporters of Catholic Phillip III of Spain, to blow up the Houses of Parliament during the State Opening; and with it, Protestant James IV. It followed several failed attempts to get rid of James by other means. If successful; once the dust had settled it, would have almost certainly have resulted in a takeover of the England and Scottish throne by Phillip. The leader of the operation was the previously mentioned Guy Fawkes, or Guido Fawkes as he preferred , who had rented a room below the House of Lords and prepared for the wicked deed. A coded tip-off led to a search, and he was found on the 4th of November with 36 barrels of gunpowder and a box of matches! A short stay attached to a rack in the Tower of London produced a superfluous full confession. Tried at Westminster Hall, he and his conspirators were found guilty of Treason and dispatched in the manner of the day reserved for such misdemeanors. So on the anniversary of the failed attempt we purchase and let off enough ordinance to put most of Westminster into orbit, and pets cower under the sofa.

Next, on the 7th of November, the Hindus, Sikhs and others originating from South Asia celebrate Diwali, “The Festival of Light”. It would seem that various religions and sects share this celebration and each have their own interpretation. Many Gods and deity’s each have their influence on the particular celebrants allegiance. A happy time; and one for the family: with food, lights and fireworks.

        We are currently experiencing a very cold spell; with morning frosts. During the day; in our area anyway, the sun has shone almost full time, not that it does much to raise the temperature of a very cold wind coming down from the Arctic. With the clocks having gone back yesterday this evening is fast approaching, and the temperature is dropping by the minute. A change from the excellent summer weather, and a long time to wait for Spring.

        Today is yet another memorable date. 11th November. This time to honour and give thanks to the sacrifice of more than three quarters of a million British men and women who sacrificed their young lives to fight for King and country in World War 1. It is not just the anniversary, but the Centenary date of the Armistice signed, after 4 years of bloody conflict on the battle fields of France and Belgium.

Although it was by no means simply Britain versus Germany; many other countries were involved, it was Germany and their allies attempts to cross Belgium without permission, to annihilate the French, before returning East to do the same to the Russians that set the conflict in motion in mid 1914. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand; of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, by a Serb, was also instrumental in lighting the fire of the existing tinder box situation.

The actual fighting; on what was known as the Western and Eastern fronts, consisted to a great extent of the entrenched respective armies attempting to inch their way to a gain ground by leaving their relative security, “going over the top” to cross what became known as “no man’s land” through masses of barbed wire and against near impossible odds. Rifles, machine guns and howitzers caused most of the casualties. Mustard gas was also deployed to great local effect. Tanks were used for the first time to protect advancing infantry.

It is difficult to understand fully why the “allies” won, as the opposing forces were fairly evenly matched. I will leave this discussion to the military experts. Enough to say that mostly groups of volunteer civilians from factories, church congregations, villages and pubs, fought in atrocious conditions for their country and to maintain their; and our way of life, and many forfeited those young lives in the effort.

It is these heroes that we remember on The 11th hour, of The 11th day of The 11th Month. We wear our Flanders Poppy emblems on Remembrance Day to commemorate this sacrifice in the fields where only the Poppies would grow on the war tortured soil.

The local politicians have placed large Poppies on some of the estates lamp posts. These have been received in the appropriate manner by those that have looked up to see them.

The plaintive notes; played on the bugle, of “The Last Post”, at the Cenotaph in Whitehall must surely make most Brits proud of this heritage.

          The wreath laying at the Cenotaph in Whitehall yesterday was very moving and carried out in glorious sunshine. 12th Nov.

Following the regimented and ordered first half of the ceremony, where first the royal family, then the government, followed in turn by: Commonwealth leaders, the Armed Forces, Ex-servicemen’s organisations, representatives of the uniformed public services and voluntary services, who all laid their wreath tributes on one end and at the sides of the memorial. A less ordered; but possibly more personal parade of 10,000 civilians; selected by ballot, offered their wreaths to be placed by volunteers at the Westminster side of the memorial; where they soon generated a carpet of red Poppies. Many of this last group carried photographs in front of them of the person they were remembering and honoring.

We were reminded that WW1 was called “The War to end all wars”. It is sad to note that when I was born 15 years later, I only had to wait another 6 years for it all to start again. The main combatants were the same, and the reason similar, as indeed was the suffering generated.

          Theresa May has brought back from Brussels a draft Brexit agreement. 13th Nov. Following a very long cabinet meeting to discuss the 50+ page document, it would appear she has their agreement to put it to Parliament. There does not appear to be a great deal of enthusiasm in its presentation and already resignations are proving this theory.

          It would seem that Kingswood is now a 20mph zone. The signs have appeared without warning, at least to this household. No doubt Face Book or Twitter has broadcast the news. It would be nice to think that the limit will be observed with a little more consistency than are the Double Yellow lines restrictions. Nothing has been done so far about indiscriminate parking on bends and commercial vehicle parking. There seems little interest or will to anything about this potential danger and actual eyesore.

          A trip to the new town centre has shown the Queens Road side of the old Market area is now open to business, with fencing removed. 16th Nov. Another innovation is the “rising barriers” positioned; together with traffic lights, in Clarendon Road and in the High Street turning into Market Street. This second set has already made itself known to a Number 10 bus. A loud thump and hard application of brakes sent all the passengers standing; waiting to disembark in Market Street, heading at a rate of knots into the front bulkhead. There will be some bruises there I am sure.

Another note on local buses. If you don’t want to spend nearly three quarters of an hour in near dead lock between Haines Way and Courtland Drive, don’t catch the Number10 towards the town at around 08.30.

           More government resignation and attempts to force Mrs May to stand down have followed the House of Commons debate on the latest draft Brexit agreement. There are still lots of calls for a “best of three” referendum. What that would achieve; beyond a further delay, is known to only a chosen few. Bringing the government down will possibly open up a whole new can of worms; from past experience probably best left unopened.

          A 20 mph limit on the local roads may well be a good idea, but how do you legislate for a car backing out of the by-pass to reposition into the Watford turning on the Dome roundabout? 20th Nov. He must have been using a cheap Sat-Nav.

           The EU have signed off on the UK Brexit deal, but with little good will, or much grace. 25th Nov. A vote will take place in the Commons next month to agree, or otherwise, the deal that has been reached. It was of interest to note that virtually no one attended the Commons to hear this news, and a photograph shows the Opposition benches held five or so members, three of whom were on their mobile phones during Theresa Mays announcement. It does not auger well for the proposed vote, and possibly has little to do with the referendum result. But a lot to do with political aims and ambitions.

Donald trump has now put his oar in reference Brexit and future US trade deals. It might be considered that we have managed to get ourselves into a deep enough hole without his interference.

          World leaders denounced an apparent act of aggression by Russian naval vessels ramming Ukrainian vessels, causing some damage. They had previously held three other vessels in a separate incident.

         The “Parasites” have tried to set fire to the Champs Elysees again in protest at the rising fuel prices. President Macron’s ploy, (to cut emissions) does not seem to cut much ice with the rioters. 1st Dec. 5,000 or so protestors; dressed in yellow Hi Vis vests, have burnt cars and attempted to enter sensitive sites and in the process managed to injure hundreds and have dozens arrested. This is the latest of country wide protest and seem to include those who are out of work.

          The Hornets have again played well without managing to elicit a save of substance from the opposing goalkeeper. They did however make two mistakes, which were punished with goals. They continue to slip down the table.

          With a Commons debate on the Brexit agreement this coming week and yet more resignations, the outcome is still far from certain. There still seems to be far too many individual and party interests being served. What about a lot more reference to the public that elected these self serving thinkers?

          Sir David Attenborough has warned the United Nations that we are on course for self destruction unless Global Warming is taken seriously and controlled . “it faces its greatest threat in a thousand years”. 2nd Dec. Perhaps a noted and appreciated presenter of all things natural will be listened too? I somehow doubt it. With some countries relying on fossil fuel production for virtually their entire economy then what is considered bullying and politics will be difficult to stomach. Is it going to be a case of  “I told you so”, when it is too late? With the vast amounts of money and scientific skills available round the world for armaments and weapons of destruction, wouldn’t it be nice to utilise the available resources to save the world. Even for a few centuries.

A Sir David statement report by the press reads. “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilization and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon”.

I was about to comment on this statement but realise it already spells out the obvious. The implied threat will eventually be taken seriously? I would not bank on it!

          Parliament begins a week of talks today 4th Dec. on the proposed Brexit agreement as presented by Theresa May and her negotiating team.

Threats of legal action against the government for withholding some of the legal information associated with the proposal make a good starting point.

Many politicians are accused of “making hay whilst the sun shines” politically. Whilst admitting that the temperatures are at an all time high, it would be nice; but extremely unlikely, that they would put more emphasis on Great Britain and its survival as a nation; and less on personal or party gain. Similar to Global warming, it is fine to be top of the heap, but the size and stability of the heap is important too.

          The French government have suspended their rise in fuel tax for six months to appease the violent protestors who have rioted over recent days in the Capitol.

          As a summary on Brexit negotiations. 10th Dec. Theresa May has met several EU leaders in the last few days in an attempt to get some movement, particularly in the area of the Irish border impasse. Today she has announced a delay in the formal Westminster debate whilst attempting to make some more moves to placate the objectors to the border problems. Her speech was met with a howling retort from those who did not want to hear it. I still doubt the motives of some of the objectors. The UK, and its ongoing wellbeing, would not appear to be very near the top of the list. I may be wrong…..