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.

        The Hornets are into the FA Cup semi finals with a win 2-1 against Crystal palace at Vicarage Road. 16th Mar. Other matches in the north of the country were postponed due to flooding and snow fall. That part of the UK had strong winds together with a nasty chill factor.

       The Hornets are drawn against Wolves at Wembley in the Semi finals. They will have their work cut-out. This team were possibly the most impressive in the last round. 17th Mar.

       The Speaker of the House of Commons has ruled another vote on the Brexit proposals can-not take place without a significant change to their contents.

A further delay is therefore proposed. Is there no end to this sorry saga?

       MP.s have taken control of the Brexit process 25th Mar. Quite what this means only they appear to know. The PM will not take another vote as losing it is an almost certainty. It still seems as though personal and political aims and ambitions take precedence over the countries interest. Nobody has mentioned that the EU negotiators are the ones not moving from their demands. There is not a lot of pressure a fragmented government can apply. No Deal and another referendum are still high on some peoples agenda.

       Following eight ballots and eight failures to win any of them, the government held another one yesterday and today, the day we should have left the EU, we are still at stalemate. 29th Mar. There are so many factions in Westminster that it seems to me that agreement is impossible. Meanwhile the EU, as they have done all along, refuse to move from the original draft agreement.

       Another round of parliamentary votes on alternatives to Theresa May’s negotiated deal with the EU. 1st Apr. All were rejected, which is likely to happen when the various parties; and splits from parties; and their dogs, have more self interest and gain more satisfaction from negative results than any apparent concern for the country as a whole. If they can’t see the need for national unity, then the fact that we are heading for a “No agreement” situation plays right into the hands of a probably gloating EU.

       Brexit, or not, still takes up most of the news. 4th Apr. A possibly unholy alliance between May and Corbin has been mooted. Things are really quite desperate. I don’t believe parliament, or more likely, politicians, have ever; in my lifetime, been seen in such low esteem. If they would stand back and look at themselves, they could only see ineptitude and self seeking.

It is suggested that an offer of an extended delay may be made by the EU. Heaven help us!

       A proposed housing development in Perivale Gardens has again arisen. It was just such an application; in the same area in 1986 that was the catalyst for the Kingswood Residents Association’s formation. 51 years old eh.

      The Hornets play Wolves at Wembley on Sunday 7th Apr. in the FA cup semi finals. Come on you ‘ORNS.

       After going two down, and not playing well, the Hornets suddenly came to life with 10 minutes to go with a splendidly crafted goal by sub Delofeu, followed by a penalty scored by Deeny. Extra time saw another great goal from Delofeu. The crowd went wild!! I hope too many people did not go home with the Wolves second goal, which was also rather special, and survived a VAR check on him being offside. Most of the 33,000 “yellow” fans think he was offside, but could not care less now with what followed. It’s going to be a heaving Wembley in May at the final against Manchester City.

       The EU have agreed a delay to the implementation of Article 50 until the 31st October, unless the UK can come up with a satisfactory offer. 14th Apl. This means we will have to spend a few more millions on the rather pointless EU Elections. Inter party talks continue between the Tories and Labour, both of whose leaders look likely to fall by the wayside. Their parties don’t look very secure either. What a mess!

       Measles outbreaks are occurring globally with their attendant many deaths. It would appear that up to half a million youngsters in the UK have not received their two MMR vaccinations and have been left unprotected. 26th Apl. With a claimed 90% contagion likelihood following exposure in a group to just one infected child coughs and sneezes; it does not make sense that the “False News” spread on Social Media has had such an effect on the decision to take such a risk.

       What an unholy mess are the Brexit negotiations! With our elected representatives having completely lost the plot we now have a situation where parties are dissolved, formed, mixed and matched, and all the things that the electorate, rightly or wrongly, did not vote for seem to have gone by the board. It would appear that all the names have been put in the hat and “has been”, previous leaders, have drawn a handful, given them some all inspiring name, (not), and promised all is well. (Again, not!) How future faith can be placed in anything associated with party politics is difficult to see. I suspect the rest of the world; and particularly Europe, must be falling about laughing. There are some dangerous characters oozing to the top of the pile. Beware!

On top of our own pit, we have to take part in the Euro Elections next  month?

       A visit to the local Doctors was an eye opener. 1st May. Nobody appeared remotely interested in the call screen. They had all taken out their mobiles as they took their seats; and in one case needed a reminder to look up and take notice. The nurse said it was not unusual, and several patients had missed their appointments for this same reason.

        The local council elections have shown the voters are fed up with the main parties and have not elected many of the previously expected candidates, even to the extent that long standing holdings of the whole councils have changed hands. 2nd May. What actual hands on involvement they had with national governments fiasco is not known.

       Stanborough saw Tim Williams re-elected, and the Lib Dem control of the council maintained.

       With a cold wind and intermittent sunshine, we had several sleet / come hail storms during the day. 4th May. This bank holiday looks like being be at least 10 degrees cooler than the Easter one last month.

       The news today 7th May. explains why the peace of Kingswood was disturbed for several hours last Wednesday by a Police helicopter circling the estate and Watford Town. An “extremely dangerous fugitive” was brought down from a tree in Congleton (near Manchester) following an extensive operation to track this beast, who is accused of 12 abductions, sexual attacks and rapes in London, Manchester, Lancashire and Watford area over the last fortnight. His victims ranged from two 14 year old girls, an 11 year old boy and 71 year old. There is a suggestion, not confirmed, that the man was wrongly released from prison in February.

       Following a very wet morning the skies became black, and at five minutes past two, a bang; the likes of which I have not heard since the war, set our hearts racing. No preceding lightening, just a mind numbing bang. Torrential rain followed, and rumbles all round, but no more near misses. At half past four; on my way to the doctors, another downpour, with hail that bounced from the car bonnet and made visibility almost impossible. Fortunately it did not slow the vehicles along the A405, who must have been on Radar, or something out of a bottle. That was Wednesday 8th May. We don’t need too many of those!

       On attempting to go on line on Saturday 11th May I had no Internet. A long phone call with Damien from BT determined their side was healthy. He suggested that the cable link between the router and the PC. was at fault. It wasn’t, but the Surge Protector in this cable was. Without a doubt the near miss lightening strike had been the cause. The suppressor had been sitting there for ten years plus, just waiting to do its job. Well done!



Alan Orchard