Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Things that touch the heart

It was so nice to meet up with my son Justin whose a civil servant in Sheffield to travel on the train to Manchester. We went along to the Bridgewater Hall to see jazz trio The Brubecks play the greats of their father, the genius Dave Brubeck, who had his first hit with 'Blue Rondo a la Turk' back in 1959. They were joined by saxophonist Dave O' Higgins, a splendidly inventive and talented player.

'Take Five' and all of then other original hits of Dave Brubeck were so memorable ! The Brubecks have played for Barack Obama.  Justin and I ate in the Pizza Express in Manchester and even shared a bottle of  Rioja, after sharing  a beer or two on the train. It coat me £45.00 for the ticketson  the train for the two of us and I thought that was a bit expensive...should've booked in advance. I didn't let it spoil an otherwise splendid event even though it was a school night and I felt a little dicey today.

Lat week, I stood a few yards away from the Queen as she visited Sheffield Cathedral. I was covering her trip for our local BBC station where I work as a jobbing reporter. She always looks much smaller and demure in real life, but her smile dropped as she walked past me with a microphone in my hand. Sharp as a button at 84, good old Liz. I may be a republican but she worked the crowd hard that day. 

Later in the day some anti-war protestors turned up at the Advance Nuclear Manufacturing park in Sheffield where she was turning the sod (using virtual technology) to initiate work on a new research centre.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Occupation has a proud history

I thought that Fiona Phillips hit the nail on the head in Saturday 13th November's Daily Mirror regarding the student protest and the turmoil to come. Have  a look at it : http://tinyurl.com/373tjd3

In today's Observer students are set to begin a 'viral' campign to change the law to be able to recall MP's who tell lies and behave contrary to their promises if 10% of constituents  sign a petition to demand this. I like the sound of this. Great to see students being radicalised in this fashion. I have to say that sit in's and occupations hava  long tradition in the trade union movement. I led my first sit in over unfeasible rises in Hall Fees when I first went to university back in the late 70's and many trade unionists have used this tool to great effect ever since.

Among the targets will be Nick Clegg's Sheffield Hallam seatand Don Foster's seat in Bath as well as David Laws in Yeovil (where the Government this week invested £32 million in the AgustaWesland helicopter plant after refusing Sheffield Forgemasters an £80million loan)

I will say now, that I totally abjure and condemn violence in any context of industrial struggle. peaceful occupation and protest is the only way of securing any objective.

Been to visit my 82 year olf mum today. Bless her, she has Alzhiemer's but is living independently with support. How long it will continue though is anyone's guess. She's on Aricept to control it and some days she is more upbeat and less depressed than others. Today was a good day. Also my wife Carol had a knee operation to relieve 5 years of cartilage pain and after successful keyhole surgery she is back on her feet and pain free. Shame we had to have it done privately after an NHS cock-up which would have condemned her to 9 more weeks of pain.

Great to see the release this week of democracy hero Aung San San Suu Kyi by the Burmese Junta after her 7 year house arrest. Let's hope the military dictators can be shown the door by the people of Burma.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Starbucks - Do you get it ?

You know, I just don't get the Starbucks experience.

Today in Sheffield; Long queues, indifferent staff, dirty tables and £5.95 for a christmas motif coffee thermos (x 3) for family members. Where do these people get off charging £3 and £4 for a latte??

There was, however, a fantastically talented saxophone player outside Mothercare, next to John Lewis in Sheffield today playing the most remarkable rendition of 'Central Park West" (Coltrane) from the iconic 1964 album Coltranes Sound.  This warranted a reasonable donation. 

What else did I notice today; Larger than average numbers of shoppers out pre-Christmas shopping in Fargate and the Moor, Amnesty International street charity hawkers almost tripping shoppers up with their over-friendly 'Hello Sir" patter. I've also stopped buying The Big Issue because there's never anything newsworthy or featury about Sheffield or South Yorkshire in it - It's all Leeds and Manc. Ha\s anyone else noticed this?

Here's a picture of a cup of tea and a piece of cake we had in Doncaster this year which didn't add up to the cost of a Starbucks latte...go figure !

Friday, 12 November 2010

my week in brief

It's been a funny mix of stuff this week. After spending last weekend on the NUJ picket line (BBC staff strike over pensions row) in Sheffield, I returned to work on Monday. I've been covering a number of routine stories around my patch (Chesterfield & North Derbyshire and Rotherham) but I was asked to visit some BBC Children in Need funded projects around the region to produce some packages for broadcast. On Tuesday, I went to the Greentop Youth Circus in the old St Thomas' Church in Brightside. This is a fantastic scheme to get kids juggling, spinning the diablo, hoola-hooping and riding the uni-cycle and other things. Well, I was amazed at the range of skills these kids demonstrated. They were mixed in age and ability, but they were all having FUN and thanks to £78,000 of CIN cash,  they can keep on having more FUN and learn a few new tricks and make some new friends into the bargain. It was truly impressive stuff!.

On Wednesday, I went to one of the toughest areas of South Yorkshire. This is East Herringthorpe in Rotherham with high unemployment and poverty. I went to look up a youth project called the 'Base to Beat' music studio which has received £73,000 of CIN cash to help pay skilled and talented musician/youth workers to engage young people in writing, creating, recording and producing their own music. I interviewed Richard and Marcus at the project and four of the young musicians and was impressed at the dedication and enjoyment they get from being part of the project. Great work and some wonderful results in turning lives around.

Thursday was Remembrance Day (formerly Armistice Day) in the UK and I covered commemorations and other events at the Cenotaph in Sheffield. Very moving talking to veterans and meeting people who lost loved ones in all conflicts from 1914-1918 to the present day. Some black cab (the colour of the cab) taxi driver in Sheffield had to go and spoil it by refusing to carry a serving RAF officer.

Today, has been about gathering routine news stories in North Derbyshire. I visited the new Bolsover school which has been rebuilt with £16 million of Government funding and met some very committed PCSO's at Newbold in Chesterfield (These are uniformed officer attached to the Police in the UK) and which provide a visible presence on the streets to help deter and detect crime (no powers of arrest).