Social Comment – 2019

Social Comment for Year 2019.


        We were invited to see in the New Year at a neighbour’s house where we renewed our acquaintance with a number of people who we only normally wave to in passing. Nice.

       The Hornets managed to go two goals up and lead three two, before drawing at Bournemouth three all. 2nd Jan. All the goals came in the first half and the game had some very “iffy” refereeing decisions. They are now Eighth. Troy Deeny; the scorer of two of the goals, said as much in an after match interview. This has not gone down well with the FA.

       It is reported that 15 million patients did not turn up for their pre-booked appointments to see their GP; or visit their hospital, for consultation or treatment last year. With a service so strapped for cash and resources, this action must surely be considered on a par with fraud, as it denies others from having justified access to the facilities blocked. It has been suggested by some that a hefty fine be levied on those that do not inform their NHS facility when they cannot attend, or have changed their minds.

        It is further reported that less than 50% of under 60’s; and somewhat more for those over this age, took advantage of the free Flue jab. There was a shortage of vaccine in the Autumn, but since the supply situation has improved, few, apparently, have taken advantage of heading off this potentially killer disease.

       This last item is relevant to the forecast report that our weather is going to take a turn for the worst with low temperatures this week and the likelihood of snow for when the children go back to school next week. Apparently, similar conditions are lining up to those that gave us “The beast from the East” last year. It will be interesting to see if we are knee deep in snow and freezing our bits off in a fortnight or so, as is apparently, “likely”, say the Meteorological Office.

       The likelihood of a no deal Brexit has persuaded the government to take some cautionary actions to try to anticipate areas that will be most affected. The next few weeks are going to be very critical for UK.Co.

       Refugees continue to arrive by small boat from France. 3rd Jan. Despite the agreements that state asylum must be sought on entering the first country where safety from danger can be assured. These individuals; and families manage to go straight through France and aim for the UK. It is thought that a number of people are making a fortune from their transport. Some think that we owe them a place to live, and others that they not asylum seekers at all. One can only imagine the furore when a boat is run down by one of the numerous freighters that are constantly plying their way along the channel.

        The Hornets have pulled up to seventh place in the Premiership with an away win. 13th Jan. They are on the edge of doing really well this season.

       Watford is in the news again for less pleasant reasons. In fact they are in the traffic report on the radio every morning for the congestion and resultant delays at the A41 Dome roundabout.

This junction is a disaster. Basically, a simple cross roads with a roundabout. This should be self controlling on the basis of the “give way to the right” rule. But to it have been added numerous sets of traffic lights, some doubling up in series. The result being long queues in all directions, particularly from Hunton Bridge. The pedestrian crossing on the London side has lights that blocks all entries in no time at all.

It is noted that many of the apparently Radar controlled traffic lights are not working, or poorly adjusted. For instance; a long wait at the bottom of Sheepcot Lane when there is no traffic at all traveling along St Albans’ Road. The same applies at Garston Lane.

Despite the 20mph limit on Kingswood traffic, the intended resultant reduction in speed is not very evident. Parking, sometimes right on bends, still causes me some considerable concern.

       Next Tuesday sees the Parliamentary vote on the much argued offer made by the EU on a Brexit deal. With the government’s defeat a considerable possibility, the whole process of UK government is under threat. It would be nice to think that those making their choice on Tuesday had the country’s best interests at heart, and were not using the situation for their purely political ends. It would also be nice to see pigs fly!

       The news from France is perhaps a reminder of what can happen when the more militant of the people become completely disillusioned with their government, with street riots a regular occurrence. With anti Social Media used as a conduit to spread the direction and targets, it all becomes very worrying. Could it happen in the UK? Of course it could!

       Last evening the government suffered a massive defeat 16th Jan. over the acceptance of the Brexit deal put before them. 202 for, 432 against. This was followed by a vote of “No Confidence” proposed by the Leader of the Labour Party. A vote on which will take place later today.

It has been suggested that the ploy by some is to persuade the EU that they must come up with a better proposal that will satisfy the UK, as a no deal arrangement is not good for anybody. It would seem to me to be fairly unlikely, at this stage. The political manoeuvring between the parties still seems to have more emphasis than the decision of the electorate; right or wrong, as it may have been.

       The Vote of” No Confidence” was defeated, not by a lot, but enough to persuade the PM. to offer all party co-operation in finding an acceptable alternative to the unpopular EU offer.  Jeremy Corbin calls this a “stunt”, and refuses to take part on behalf of the Labour Party unless she rules out the possibility of a “No Deal” departure. Is it me, or does a similarity exist between Nero and his violin and some of our ministers? i.e. (to do nothing or something trivial while knowing that something disastrous is happening).

       A bit of winter hit Kingswood this morning at breakfast time 17th Jan. A sprinkling of snow fell and immediately coated the car  windscreens with difficult to remove ice. Fortunately the fall was short lived, but the temperature was still only around 2.5C at mid-day.

       This weekend many of the estate roads were obstructed by commercial vehicles. 20/21st.Jan. In particular the bends seem to attract them. In addition to living in a van parking site, the safety aspect is also important. I wonder if the 32 new Police officers joining the Herts. Constabulary last week on the 19th will help to alleviate some of the eyesores and latent dangers?

       Winter tried a little harder on 22nd Jan. Quite a heavy snowfall in the afternoon provided a settling coating that fortunately did not last too long. With temperatures well below freezing overnight it made for an unpleasant start to the day for many commuters.

       Parking on the estate roads still continues to be both hazardous and unpleasant. Although not actually illegal; the apparently indiscriminate positioning; of in particular commercial vehicles; part on the road; part on the pavement, specially on bends, does nothing for the passing motorist and resident.

       Brexit continues to be a parliamentary party political Pin Ball game played with very high stakes for the punter. That punter being “You and Me”. 29th.Jan.

Following Tuesdays debate and ballot, Theresa May has been given two weeks to renegotiate with the EU the terms of the proposed leaving agreement. With the Irish border arrangements being top of the list of objections, and EU President Trusk telling all and sundry that the deal cannot be renegotiated, she is in for a hard time. The term “significant and legally binding change” is the aim. I am sure she is in for a hard time, and anyone with a thought for their country must wish her the miracle she will require to satisfy everyone.

       The Hornets have finished the month in 9th place in the Premiership and have qualified for the 5th round of the FA Cup. If only they could convert the chances that create into a few more goals we would be a lot higher up the league.

       The temperature this morning; half way down a Kingswood garden at 7 am, was -7 degrees. Fortunately we have had only a little snow but most of the cars are all the same colour and the birds have become a lot more daring in their search for food. The fish are refrigerated under a thick covering of ice, how do they survive?

       Spam phone calls are on the increase. 31st Jan. Many purporting to be from; or on behalf of British Telecom, threaten that “your internet connection is compromised and will be terminated tomorrow”. But “press 1 to contact an engineer, who will overcome the problem”. It would appear that this action will result in a few more requested key strokes that will give the scammer complete access to you PC, Tablet or Phone. Don’t do it!!!

I have just received two more such calls, but nothing on line from BT.

       The latter part of the week has given us some more snow, with treacherous local roads and airport and rail disruptions. The schools were closed as a precaution. I recall that this situation during my school days would have resulted in massive; to the death, snowball fights, and long; glass smooth slides across the playground. If we had been told “No School”, there would have been a riot. With no “Anti Social” media, we would not have known of the closure anyway! I recall woollen gloves were useless when trying to form snowballs and we would have found it difficult anyway, with only one hand available.

       By Monday morning, 4th Feb. the East West portion of Fern Way had less of the appearance and attributes of The Cresta Run. Shielded from the sun by the houses; and not suffering such indignities as gritting, this section of road was almost impossible to walk across, and if you are physically challenged, you are silly to try.

        Brexit, Or Not, still trundles on. With the EU boss making stupid and emotive throw away comments whilst Theresa May is shuttling between leaders on both sides and also the Irish. The main bone of contention still seems to be the form the Customs border to the Irish Free State will take, and the unreasonable conditions the EU is placing on its operation. We are coming close to the “crunch” vote. With several political careers and aspirations to consider is it yet another case of, “be careful what you wish for!”

       The weather has settled to early frosts and double figure daytime temperatures. 15th Feb. With Snowdrops and Crocuses flowering, can spring be far away?

       Another fairly massive defeat for Prime Minister May in the Commons yesterday. We are getting dangerously close to “the day” and unity is so far away that it seems impossible to face the EU with any strength of purpose. They must be laughing their communal heads off in Brussels.

       The Hornets are in the fifth round of the FA, (now Emirates) Cup, with 0-1 win over Queens Park rangers. 15 Feb. Not a game to remember, but the result opens up some possibilities.

       An offer through Neighbourhood Watch, via OWL, brought a visit from the Watford Fire Service to do a free “Safe and Well” visit and check on Saturday evening. 16th Feb. Two young men arrived on time; in their rather large machine, did a survey and collected details reference needs for special help in the event of an evacuation. They told us they were the “Duty Crew” and were liable for any calls that came in during the visit. None came, and we were impressed by both the professionalism shown and the manner in which information was sought and advice was given. It is to be hoped that others take advantage of what is a very beneficial service and possibly a life saver.

       The Government has said that more care must be exercised when granting planning permission for new developments, particularly housing. Feb17th. It would seem that the quota’s imposed on local authorities by this same government; in its rush to find houses for possibly too many people, are being interpreted on a “never mind the quality, feel the width”, basis. Not enough thought is given to the infra structure availability: such as Doctors surgeries, schools and shops, but particularly Parking. The division of existing houses to provide apartments or flats immediately raises this same problem of where the occupants park at night and weekends. Quite often this involves commercial vehicles. Kingswood has areas that at times look like they should be managed by the NCP.

       ASDA have introduced a £1 deposit device on their shopping trolleys. This will confuse a number of customers who see actual coinage as well past its sell by date. If they can’t swipe it, or point their mobiles at it, then it’s not for real! If it keeps a few more trolleys in the Supermarket then it’s not a bad idea. Generally speaking they don’t improve the ambience of the estate. How do they get off the site? Surely not pushed home loaded. Do people lift them onto their vehicles to save unpacking them?

       Much has been said recently about Fake News on the internet. 18th Feb. It ranges from the alleged International interference with the US Presidential election, to plain lies that persuade the vulnerable; and sometime the not so vulnerable, to divulge such things as Pin numbers and Bank details on line. It also provides slanderous comments about people and “miracle cures” for Cancer and the like. There seems to be a number of people who believe everything they see on a screen, and copy this info and their endorsements to their friends. It appears it costs a lot of people a lot of money and considerable mental stress. There is currently a government committee proposal to limit the time that the younger generation spend on line as; it is claimed, it is causing long term psychiatric problems for some of them. I think the initiative has very little chance of having any effect, as the habit is already so well ingrained. Nobody, but nobody, goes out of the house without a mobile, usually clamped to their ear. I suspect the device is not too far out of reach indoors too.

This last initiative has been highlighted by the recent revelation that many young people are self harming on a regular basis, and they claim that graphic illustrations of what you can do to yourself are being pushed, on-line. This; I believe, is particularly sad.

Finally; for now, one site has been accused of being involved in “grooming” youngsters. What form this grooming takes was not specified but the whole scene does not make me feel good!

       The Hornets had a result at lowly Cardiff 22 Feb. that delighted us supporters. The won 1-5. I have rarely seen a difference in standards so obvious.

       The  Brexit saga has taken another turn, over the last week or so. Backbenchers from both main parties have relinquished the “Whip” and gone it alone. Three Cabinet Ministers are on the brink of doing the same. It looks considerably likely that the actual split with the EU. will now be put back as there is more support for not accepting either the agreement on the table, or a “No Deal” result. With still some claims for another “Peoples Referendum”, we are not a lot nearer resolving the problem.  What a “Pigs Ear”

       We are experiencing a minor heat wave. 27th Feb. With early morning frosts and some fog ,the temperature was nevertheless 21 degrees Centigrade yesterday, this is the highest ever recorded for late February. It appears we are at an end of this phase this weekend. Some agencies have claimed the current situation to be due to Global Warming, the general consensus is this is not the case. They refer to this time last year when The Beast from the East had us in its freezing grip. Read this column in 25 years time for confirmation.

       The Hornets were given a lesson last night. Beaten 5-0 by Liverpool at Anfield. 28th Feb. The skill difference was similar; in the other direction, to the situation at Cardiff last week.

       More dwelling units for the estate and its environs. Ellwood Gardens gets 9 flats in Ellwood Court, the Van sales site at the end of Sheepcote Lane another 18. A ride around the local area and into Watford will show many more sites with Dwelling units in the process of erection. It will be interesting to see where the Car Parking spaces are for all these new residents.

       OWL warns us that distraction thefts are taking place in Supermarket car parks as the shopping is being transferred to the car boot. Sometimes the ploy is to point out damage to the car; on the other side, or asking for directions or change. Purses have been snatched, and if the offender has witnessed a Pin number transaction, they will use the card inside to make a purchase. Often very soon after the snatch. Records show that the victims are often the older shoppers. A Swipe card saves the perpetrator a lot of trouble!

       Road surface repairs are imminent on the estate. Not before time. Some of the pot holes give you a nasty jolt. Even on the off chance that you may be sticking to the 20mph limit!

       The 10 bus service gets even more erratic. Waiting 35 minutes for a bus to town is not unusual at present. Then; for some reason, they wait in the town for a quarter of an hour. All very handy when you have a hospital appointment to keep. Coming home does not show much improvement. The phone App. that allows the prospective passenger to see the actual position of buses on the route has buses jumping forward and backward as though they were on a Pin Ball machine. What does “Up to 10 minutes” actually mean?

       The Hornets were beaten 3-1 by Manchester City. 9th Mar. Their first goal was so obviously offside that even the BBC on Match of the Day noticed it Having defended well for 45 minutes, this decision knocked them out of their stride.

       A second defeat in the Commons for Theresa May 12th. Mar. on the slightly improved agreement details she has achieved in several visits to Europe. The improvement is in the detail of the North / South border arrangements in Ireland. With another defeat a probability tomorrow, we are getting nearer to a “No Deal” situation by default that the people voting against the acceptance don’t want. Some of the statements made by politicians; who one would have hoped would have known better, make me believe that the UK and its well being are far from their most important aim. As a past negotiator, I should think the EU delegates must be laughing their heads off. Divide and Conquer. And they did not have to try very hard!

       Strong winds and heavy rain have made life difficult during this week. 13th Mar. It has also been several degrees colder. Some more fences down, but the situation in the Westerly and Northern parts of the country have been much more severe due to Storm Gareth.



Alan Orchard