Archive for August, 2011

book review

Posted: 27/08/2011 in Book Reviews, idiots, Rhodesia, Zimbabwe

My latest book is one of the most upsetting I have ever read, Mugabe and the White African is the story of a White Zimbabwean farmer and his family standing up to the Zimbabwean government in an effort to remain on thier farm an in their homes.

It tells tales of abuse of power, corruption, greed and downright sickening evil.

It is not especially well written and the Author, Ben Freeth peppers the text with somewhat naive religous zeal, but you can’t help but admire Mr Freeth and the rest of their family for the stand they took and as such I applaud them.

I thoroughly recomend that everyone reads this book but add the caveat that it will upset you, especially if you have a heart.

http://rcm-uk.amazon.co.uk/e/cm?t=mrbuch-21&o=2&p=8&l=as1&asins=B00563BGEU&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

Dear Mr Bunny Chow,

My apologies for sending you yet another email – this will be the last one for a few weeks I promise.  I just wanted to update you on three issues.

Supporting the town centre

I’m delighted to see that the Council, the car park operators, the shopping centres and individual retailers are repeating last weekend’s offers to encourage people to come and shop or eat out in Croydon town centre over the Bank Holiday weekend.  Parking on-street is free and you can park all day in any of the multi-storey car parks for just £2.  In addition, there are lots of special offers and lots of family entertainment laid on.  For all the information, go to http://www.croydontowncentre.com/offers.html.

So come into the town centre this weekend.  If we want Croydon to recover we need to support it, not shop in Bromley or Bluewater.  Please forward this message to your neighbours and friends in the Croydon area.

In the long term, of course, people are only going to come into the town centre if they feel safe and if the parking charges are reasonable.  That’s why I’m campaigning for the current policing levels to be maintained and for a permanent cut in the parking prices in the multi-storey car parks.

Improving street lighting across the borough

On Wednesday I was up in Corbett Close, New Addington to see the first of what will be thousands of new streetlights installed.  Croydon and Lewisham Councils have formed a partnership with the construction and development company Skanska, who will take over the day to day responsibility for the maintenance of our street lighting network.  Over the first five years of the contract, they will be replacing pretty much all the lights in the borough.  The new columns focus the light down onto the road and where necessary additional columns will be installed so lighting levels across the borough will improve.  This is great news – not only should it make our roads safer but it will deter some crime and make people feel safer.  As well as replacing streetlights, Skanska are replacing the underground cable network in much of the borough and this will make it much easier to identify faults and to raise or lower the lighting levels in particular areas at particular times of the day if required.

As the MP for New Addington, I am delighted that the replacement work has started there.  All too often in the past, New Addington has been overlooked – it’s great to see this Council giving it priority.  In terms of the other areas that I represent, the provisional plan is that most of Shirley and part of Addiscombe will be done in the first half of next year, the rest of Addiscombe, Woodside, Park Hill and Croydon town centre in 2013/14 and upper Shirley, Addington Village, Forestdale and Monks Hill in 2014/15.

Litter pick in Ashburton Park

Tomorrow morning, the volunteer litter picking team I have recruited will be out in Ashburton Park.  If you would like to join us – it’s one small way to make Croydon a better place to live – we are meeting at 10.30am at the car park off Tenterden Road.

Gavin Barwell
MP for Croydon Central


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Carpetright part 4

Posted: 25/08/2011 in idiots

Since my last post on the subject of Carpetright, I have received a Cheque for £30 from Mr Dick Woof the Head of Consumer Affairs and the following letter from  their Operations Director who we will call Ms Manycreams:


Dear Mr Bunny Chow,


Thank you for your emails to Mr Dick Woof regarding your carpet order and estimate. I have spoken to Mr Dick Woof this morning and understand that he called you following your email and was able to explain the situation more clearly over the phone.


I would like you to know that we do take complaints like this very seriously and that as a Board we look at feedback like yours to ensure that we help the stores give the best possible service. I am very sorry that the store left you feeling misled and badly treated and I hope you have been reassured that this is not our normal practice. The issues regarding the stores processes and behaviour are being dealt with to ensure that no other customer feels the same way, and I am grateful to you for alerting us to the problems.


I hope this now answers your complaint, but please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further queries.


Yours sincerely


Ms Manycreams
Operations Director UK


As she invited me to I have taken the time to respond to her.


Good Evening Ms Manycreams,


Thank you for taking the time to write to me, I have indeed had communications from Mr Dick Woof and a cheque for £30 yet I note with disappointment that we still have not received the stain guarantee for the carpets as promised by Mr Smarmy in the store and the gentleman who actually fitted our carpets.

I am genuinely surprised that despite having been forced to complain to such a high level your organisation has not seen fit to ensure that their administration is in order.

I look forward to hearing from you and receiving this guarantee as soon as possible.

Yours Sincerely

Mr Bunny Chow

I’ll keep you all posted as this unfolds further

TTFN

Mr Bunny Chow

my geeky side

Posted: 25/08/2011 in Uncategorized

interesting to see the break down of how you my dear readers are viewing my blog this week.

I’m amazed how many of you are still using internet explorer.

Are you checking out my blog in the office where you don’t have a choice?

Chrome ahead of Firefox, again I’m surprised although I approve.

I must confess I’m also suprised how many of you are using iPhones over Android, I am an iPhone guy but I would have thought would be much closer than that.

Pageviews by Browsers
Internet Explorer
 273 (36%)
Mobile
  210 (27%)
Chrome
  77 (10%)
Firefox
  75 (9%)
Mobile Safari
  63 (8%)
Safari
  36 (4%)
Opera
 16 (2%)
chromeframe  
4 (<1%)
NetFront
  2 (<1%)
Version
  1 (<1%)
Pageviews by Operating Systems
Windows   
410 (53%)
iPhone   
227 (29%)
Android
   60 (7%)
Macintosh   
25 (3%)
Linux
  15 (1%)
BlackBerry
  12 (1%)
iPad
  8 (1%)
SonyEricsson   
2 (<1%)
Nokia
  1 (<1%)

Dear Mr Bunny Chow,

On Sunday 18th September, I will be doing my annual sponsored walk around the boundary of my constituency, a total of around 16 miles. This year I am raising money for Croydon Crossroads, a great local charity that supports carers (they provided outstanding support to my Mum when my Dad was sick with Alzheimer’s).

If you’d like to sponsor me, you can do so at http://www.justgiving.com/gavinbarwellmp2011 or by sending a cheque made payable to “Croydon Crossroads Ltd” to 133 Wickham Road, Croydon CR0 8TE.  And if anyone would like to join me for part (or even all!) of the walk, some company would be much appreciated.

Many thanks
Gavin
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So I’ve terrified the life out of a lot of you my dear readers, sorry about that, I know that in the cold hard format of print my last post came across as shocking and terrifying, I know that it would have scared the bejesus out of me.

Whilst I believe in honesty, which is why I gave it to you warts and all, it was no intended in any way to put you off having kids yourself. Childbirth is something that all mammalian life goes through and as much as we have been sheltered from the realities it is still a beautiful thing. Mrs Bunny Chow went through living hell bringing Monkey Boy into this world, yet we have bounced back and are about to do it all over again.

I’m going to continue now following some sort of timeline and again going over the highs and lows that surround being a father and to some extent a parent in general. I’m not going to discuss boobs, breast feeding or anything that falls outside of the role of the father other than to say, that we are expected to be of some assistance in this regard, fetching and carrying, drinks, back rubs etc. etc. I will say now for the record I was hopeless at this.

Mrs Bunny Chow breast feeding I could just about cope with, but when friends and others have whipped out their boobs and begun feeding their kids in my presence I did all I could to avoid running from the room screaming. I know it’s natural and all ladies have them and will even admit that I quite like a boob but when people you know whip ’em out I make my excuses and make tea.

Anyway I said I wasn’t going to talk about mystic Mother stuff so I’ll go back to talking about the role of the father as I interpret it. After Monkey Boy was born and Mrs Bunny Chow was settled into the nursing wing with him I was summarily dismissed.

I drove across a cold dark, South London, slower and more carefully than I ever have, I felt overwhelmed, terrified, I was responsible for this cute, squashed, little being and had had the tiniest role in supporting Mrs Bunny Chow bring this tiny fragile little boy into this world. I knew in my heart that I knew nothing about how to care for this little scrap of humanity and that all the books I’d read had left me helplessly unprepared, but I also knew that people have been bringing babies into the world for millennia and had coped in much tougher conditions than we were expecting to and a glimmer of confidence returned.

Ouma and Oupa Bunny Chow were waiting expectantly for me when I arrived home in the early hours of the morning. It was time for that beer I’d been craving for days. I was exhausted but elated, both of my parents got up, Oupa and I had our breakfast beer and I had the happy job of phoning the extended relatives around the world. I had another been and then a third for good luck before crashing into the sleep of the dead for a few hours.

I don’t recall much about the rest of that day but know that I returned to the hospital at about lunchtime, we paid some people to take a couple of photo’s of the Monkey Boy and were allowed to take him and Mrs Bunny Chow at about eight in the evening. There was still snow on the ground and we wrapped Monkey up in a snow suit that made him look like a tiny blue starfish before carrying him in his shiny new car seat out to the car. 

Whilst on this subject, all car seats are stupid and badly designed, I am of the firm belief that they are made this way so that your child will have an early exposure to their fathers colourful vocabulary. I dislike them intensely but I digress. Monkey Boy and Mrs Bunny Chow were installed in the car and I once again crossed South London at a snails pace.

Even in those early days of sleepless nights I remember thinking that it wasn’t as bad as I’d been expecting, you adapt, you cope. Yes babies cry, yes you have to deal with nappies, but they really are not as bad as you think they will be. Once the Meconium is done (remember that first poo mentioned in my last essay) their excrement smells a bit cheesy and resembles a Korma with Almonds. I can’t speak for girls but wow do you have to be careful of little boys hosepipes when they are unhinged though. We had a couple of early accidents more down to our lack of skill than anything at fault with the child, but these were easily resolved with clean sheets a bit of extra laundry and we were good to go again.

Small babies don’t do very much other than cuddle, wail and eat so I won’t go into too many hints and tips, they progress into being little people slowly so you have plenty of practice as they learn, first the can lift their heads, then they can roll over, then they can eat a bit of real food and their nappies become less pleasant, but because you’ve been softened up by the early easy ones you cope without too much difficulty.

There are moments of huge excitement when they give you that first smile, then you get the giggles when they giggle at you, each step along the way is fascinating, every day they do something new to make you fall even deeper in love with them than you would ever have believed possible.

Mrs Bunny Chow has been an incredible inspiration to me throughout it all, she has always been there for him, she has been a figure of calm when he’s screamed blue murder at the indignities of being changed, she’s soldiered on the the middle of the night when I have given in to exhaustion and given me the inspiration to be a better father.

So in conclusion regardless of the difficulties and the scary times, being a parent is the most amazing thing I have ever done or expect to do. Kids make your world and all those things you think you’ll miss out on because of them pale into insignificance in comparison to them, even beer!

TTFN

Mr Bunny Chow.

 

Zen and The Art of Fly-Fishing

Posted: 24/08/2011 in Africa

I didn’t write this but boy did it bring back a few memories. It came to me via Time Magazine so they get the credit.

Fly-fishing for trout is an undemocratic sport. It takes intelligence and skill to learn, a healthy income to afford and plenty of free time to practice. Though bait fishermen scoff that snobs use flies as an excuse to keep worm and minnow goo off their hands, fly-fishermen approach the sport with an almost mystical reverence. Perhaps that’s because learning to catch trout is a complex process bordering on religion. Yet it is one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S., now embraced by nearly 500,000 fisherpeople.
It is in some ways a dangerous sport too, but less for the fish than for the angler’s relatives. Fly-fishermen can quickly become world-class bores. Solitude becomes an end in itself. Spouses bristle at the suggestion that family vacations should consist of two weeks at some bug-infested fishing camp in Forsaken, Mont. Dinner-party invitations trail off as conversation seems to center on the pleasures of fishing nymphs in deep riffles or the relative merits of bamboo and graphite fly rods. Children growl at the proposal that the backyard pool be returned to nature and converted to a trout pond.
To the uninitiated, the sport may seem ridiculously simple: take a long pole ; with a line, attach a fake bug and toss it at some unsuspecting fish. But the disciplines involved in this seemingly simple act take years to master. Novices often quit in disgust or spend hours on the river, pleading to heaven for the strike of just one trout. Eventually, with practice, the casts begin to land right, without a splash, and then one day a trout rises to examine the offering — and strikes.
With split-second timing, the rod tip is lifted and the battle begun. Since the fly is attached to the line with a gossamer-thin tippet, a fisherman must use the long, sensitive rod to tire the trout as it surges and runs, leaps and sometimes literally walks across the water’s surface on its tail. There is no mistaking this magic. The fish explodes again, up through a silver shower of water, shaking its head in an effort to throw the hook. You notice the color. It is gorgeous, almost surreal. The trout’s meaty flanks sport outrageous spots of black and orange, horizontal streaks of silver and red. The line rips through the water, sending signals directly to your pounding heart. Your ears ring.
As the fish tires, you draw it close to your leg, remove the hook and hold the trout for a moment, gauging its length before giving it back to the stream. That too is part of the sport. When waters were cleaner and trout spawned nearly everywhere, killing and eating the fish were a more common reward for the catch. But a generation raised on conservation ethics is releasing fish to reproduce and perhaps be caught again. Our atavistic selves relish the hunt, but our better natures understand the need to protect what we cherish. Fly-fishing lets us do both.

After the first catch comes the tough part: waiting for the next one. It can take months of beating the waters before it happens again, and the anticipation can be painful. The novice consoles himself by turning to books. Few other sports have been written about so thoroughly by so many authors, from Izaak Walton to Ernest Hemingway and Tom McGuane. You search for what fathers or uncles in an earlier generation used to pass down over dinner tables or around campfires: secrets of the water, hints about how to read streams and tread them lightly, how to intuit the mysterious nature of the wild trout.
The apprenticeship is not over, not yet. One day some fisherman with a pipe stands in the stream nearby releasing fish and announces that the trout are hitting bugs with an unpronounceable Latin name. You nod but don’t know what he’s talking about. Then back to the books for a quick course on streamside biology, matching the hatch, figuring out what the trout is eating and which artificial flies imitate those insects. Armed with a little entomology and inflamed with trout psychosis, you start buying everything that countless catalogs offer: stream thermometers, a flashlight for nighttime fishing, hook- sharpening files, dozens of flies no fish has ever seen.
Catching trout comes quicker now; on a good day perhaps six, even ten, get landed. You adopt rituals, preferring certain flies that bring you luck and that your friends use successfully. Gear gets stowed in familiar pockets as your fishing vest softens and fades with age. It is a delicate time, for as the addiction grows, the fish begin to invade your thoughts and dreams. At unpredictable moments the fisherman’s mind fills with images of wide water, where brown trout hit large dry flies and pull long and hard.
If the fly-fisherman is lucky, the passion becomes manageable, second nature, like tying knots in the dark or reading a deep green pool by an undercut bank and knowing where the trout are holding and which fly to use. But having gone through the novitiate, fly-fishermen are never the same again. They scan rivers and lakes, seeing water but imagining the life underneath. They concentrate for hours, zenlike, watching thunderheads build and billow above, gazing at streams running over moss-covered rocks, searching for the sight of a trout, that near perfect fish, as it fins and darts, drifts and feeds in clear mountain water. Those visions take hold and simply won’t let go.