Monday, 29 July 2013

Another one bites the dust

One of the things you know as a foster carer even as each young person comes through the door, there will come a time when they go. Some become like a child of your own and have permanent visiting rights When the Students mum died one of our ex kids was there and i can think of another two who would have been there had they known.

Other young people go and that's it.

Sometimes that's something that makes you sad, other times it's relief.

So anyway not far off 10 years after he came little D has gone, not in a planed sort of way either but on a whim and a dream of a family that does not exist in the way he fantisizes it does and have no intention of being there for him

Over the last year he has not so much as burnt a boat but burnt a fleet and reversed himself into a corner from which there were no escapes

The Student is down, I am sad too, but I'd become bored with all the game playing and  "I'll stay so long as I can do anything I want anytime and you won't have any expectation that I do anything for myself or others"

Now we just wait and see how long it lasts before they won't take the nonsense from him at home.

Then he truly will be on his own.

It is both sad and scary but sometimes people have to hit the bottom before they can start to change


The big sports day part the next

Last year, Britain was lost in a wave of excitement, we were having a great big sports day. Rejoice and be glad. Long time readers will remember I was part of this little adventure working for a private security firm whose name will immediately spring to your mind. Of course with all my passes and badges complete I was expecting the call any day. Nothing happened.

Then with the company already deployed and questions already being asked I got told I needed to go and learn something called "guarding". This it turned out was a very worrying course for people who guard buildings when they are empty, night watchmen in old parlance.

It did get me all worried, did people really need a course that told them if a vehicle turns up at the gate they go and check the vehicle driver credentials then let the vehicle in closing the gate again after in entered? If that's the level of the staff I  think you have a problem before you start....

Actually, thinking outside the box, if there are two vehicles you check both of them then let them both in together. Gosh that WAS rocket science. 

Then in the afternoon it was the radio course, well not really, they had none of the model of radio being used available so we had to look at pictures of one and note how to turn it on, how to turn it off, how to push the button to transmit and remember to let go when we had finished. Even more challenging rocket science stuff

Then we had to pretend our mobile phones were radios and talk to each other using their version of radio procedure which was pretty cumbersome in use and involved a lot of repeating of call signs. In practise everywhere I actually worked ditched the system and used assigned simple call signs, and  military radio procedure.

Next up, we had to learn the phonetic alphabet, virtually everyone on the course was ex military, ex police, ex fire service or like myself radio experienced. Eyes were rolling all round the room.

During our last tea break some strangers arrived these, it turned out were the admin team and to say they were interested in us would be a mild understatement. Would we be interested in seeing the set up they asked? To a person we agreed and wandered over to their HQ after the day ended.

HQ turned out to be a dingy building, screaming neglect where a variety of people were coming and going. There wasn't even a telephone, they could not speak to personnel and personnel could not speak to them.

I, of course had a Door Persons badge and Olympic security accreditation. As soon as they was that they pounced. Did I want to work, well, OK. Could I start now, well err no I had not actually arranged anything like that with the student. How about tomorrow? Tomorrow my step daughter was getting married, of course I would work if they guaranteed the ensuing legal fees around the separation, the chief organiser, a young Irish chap laughed. We would get on OK then.

Of course I didn't have anything by way of uniform, no worries just turn up.

So turn up I did, what a revelation, in the past I had worked in a lot of settings, this was something new.

I had agreed to do nights as nights were a problem, no one would do nights.

The first night with nothing bar our badges to say who we were we were deployed to guard one of the Olympic venues; this was  a major sporting stadium  with a big capacity and there were 18 of us.

Already the Police were in, there were Police on all the entrances and our rag tag army looked shoddy next to them.

What you won't know is that the police were everywhere the public could see. If you could not see it it probably wasn't being watched. The Police are pros though, so when a minibus turned up at our gate and we checked all their warrants they were more impressed than irritated.

"You checked my car when I came in an hour ago" said an Olympic official,  ""and we have to check every car as it comes in, that's security"   "But I'm...."  "going to be treated like everyone else as we don't know that a bunch of terrorists don't have you family hostage making you smuggle in a dirty bomb". This wasn't what Olympics man wanted to hear so he got hold of the duty security manager. Shortly after we got a visit on the gate to find out what it was all about. This duty manager was Para, lets call him that, went everywhere in jeans and a pullover, had an air of quiet authority, said he had been an NCO in the Parachute Regiment and that when he left the army he had set up home in Hereford. Now there was a clue to what unit he had actually been in if ever there was one!!  He told us we should not really let Olympic man in through our gate at all, next time send him to the next gate where the proper search grew were located, every time he came in they could give his car a proper search unload everything out of it and put it through the X ray scanner, all said with a perfectly straight face. Good man!!

 Security at a huge venue like that with less than 20 people was always going to be a joke. Except it wasn't funny, with 20 of us on, at least 7 would be on break at any time, meaning we were really 14. At about 2 am I was given a shift in the media centre, this was a sprawling yard outlying the stadium. When I walked in I nearly fainted, there was literally about 30 tons of copper wire in reels and aluminium everywhere.  It was like a metal thieves wet dream in there. The previous guards were from a sub contractor and  had set themselves up a little den in the big catering tent with a comfy chair and a transistor radio. It was also an obvious feature with limited routes in and out and not much of a view of the approaches of which there were several, a couple of them being attractively dark.

Para came to see what I was up to about 30 minutes later, went into the office and emerged looking puzzled.  I stepped out of the shadows, told him there was no way I was sitting in there waiting for a bunch of neer do wells to whack me over the head with a brick. I had made myself a little den in the darkest bit of the site where I could see pretty much everything but I was pretty difficult to spot. If someone was going to case the place they might as well think there was no one there as there was just one bloke they could smack on the head before nicking everything. If they came in mob handed I could count them in, radio them in then get the hell out of there. That seemed to be  the right answer for him, we were getting on well.

Dawn came and the shift ended, all the shifts started and ended at 6 am and 6 pm - bad practice, if I had been up to no good I would have been timing my attack for a time like a  shift change.

During the day things started to unravel as it became crystal clear just how few staff the company had. LOCOG put their foot down and got the  Police in to run the stadium. Officers were bussed in from all over and the company unceremoniously kicked out.

There was an element of cynicism to this, the Police were very public in their presence. In the background and kept out of sight of the public a small number of guards from the firm that normally secures the stadium were in place.  In public it was horses, fire arms officers and hordes of cheery Police Officers, of course they were cheery, they were on double time the lot of them!!!

The company still had charge of the two hotels used for athlete accommodation, for my second night shift i was draughted over there. The security managers were on rotating shifts and the first hotel was run by "wooden top" a retired Police Officer, who was dressed in something just short of a morning  suit, it was like being a guard at Buckingham Palace, on your feet, stand to attention, back straight, this was going to be some 12 hour shift!! Of course being resourceful sorts we quickly worked out that wooden top spent most of the night in his office. His office of course needed a guard and very soon the guard was doing a grand job. Every time the wooden top or a minion set out on a tour of the office guard would press the transmit button on his radio. This would cause every radio in the building to "click", everywhere there would be people jumping up off chairs hurriedly putting their book away. So by the time they came round the place was gleaming. Para popped over for a visit and a look around, it took him a whole 5 minutes to work out what was going on. Wooden top was sat with him in the canteen  telling him what a tight ship he was running here,  a load of us sat at the next table looking innocent. Para tried to conceal quite obvious amusement.

It really was daft though, there were three lifts in the building controlling access to the various floors. All three had to be guarded, including the one with a big sign saying "out of order".  Of course there weren't really three, there were four, when he did his security plan he didn't think to ask anyone about layout so the 4th lift was untended until someone had a "whats behind this door" moment and found it.

The security staff were a curious mix of ex services and public service together with people pulled off the street or from unemployment, with some very strange sorts thrown in. On night one, one of these types who was a bit of a self styled unarmed combat guru decided to show me how dangerous our uniform was, how it was a strangulation tool. He did this by demonstration, lunged at me when I was not expecting it and tried to strangle me with my ID lanyard, he looked really surprised as I did breakaway.

But enough of him for now, in the next episode he reveals himself as really dangerous.






Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The student - still essaying

The student is still locked in essay mode, long after the end of term she is still playing catch up, largely due to the excitements that little D produced in spades over the year. Tonight essaying is still on hold as she is researching G the new girls parentage, as she had asked her to do so. A terribly tangled web is assembling itself, is anyone going to tell her there might be some connection with little D? - Looks like there could be.

Of course earlier she who did not approve of purchasing a Citroen C5 estate, a huge car which my American readers might call a compact, had to go and get tea. Traditional Fish and chips for you stateside folks and collect D the littler.

Did she go for the little go cart AX?

Did she go for the trendy T4 Volksvan?

Or did I hear the C5 fire up, the car she said that was more than we needed?

She is a star really.

Of course she would still prefer it in black.

Actually the C5 estate would look awesome in black.  


The C5 is dead, long live the C5

The student of course cannot understand any fascination with cars, for her they are just tools to use and discard. So of course the demise of Bihan her big old C5 estate registered not at all on her radar. Her faithful companion of 3 years went to the scrap yard with no regrets or sadness, the tears were for something completely unrelated.

She, she assured me loved her C5 but she didn't want or need another one. Taliesins failed dalliance with second hand car sales yielded a Saxo which she duly took over and was very happy with. Of course it's summer and summer means Brittany which would in olden times have meant minibus but nowadays means both car and van to carry every one who is going.

The Saxo is fine but not really a car for motorway runs or the continent when it is reasonably too hot and a cramped Saxo might be a bit of a nightmare really.

As fate would have it a C5 estate popped up on eBay last week and was being bid for resolutely at around the 60 quid mark. Now, Bihan went for 200 pounds scrap so I had the sniff of an earner here. This car had a bit of tax and a bit of MOT so when I bought it for 205 pounds I could see a couple of months free motoring plus a good vehicle to take to Brittany in prospect.

Driving to get it the student was quietly fuming at spending money "we did not need to spend" and then we got to where the car was parked. A sprightly pensioner explained that he had recently bought the car and that it was just to large for him to cope with. There was an element of sense in that, the C5  Estate is a bit like sticking a wheel on each corner of the Albert Hall!

He had described the car as "rough" as the student walked round it her face betrayed that her vision of a rough car was a long way past his. The bumpers were held on by bolts not zip ties, there were no multiple combat marks down the sides, no battle scars on the tail gate, in fact it was pretty straight as these things go. Internally all the door handles and winders were still there, the seates were clean unripped and unstained neither was there half a skip load of rubbish on the floor

The front tyres did indeed need replacing, but only one of them was totally illegal. The spare we were told was OK, but more of that later.

130,000 miles is actually not a lot for a modern diesel, providing it's been serviced and the same garage had serviced this car at 10,000 mile intervals for the last 100,000 miles with Citroen main agents doing the job before that. Pretty good provenience then!

Drove it home and changed the relevant very dodgy tyre for the spare which was a brand new never been on the car Michelin as put in the boot when the car was made. Of course this was done the trick Citroen way, suspension on high, jack under the car, suspension on low and change the wheel once it's off the floor. 

The car drives as you would expect and she who was not very happy has grudgingly come to think it's "OK". She did say she would have preferred it in black, but then she could never admit to being happy could she?

Just glided silently to Carmarthen and back, I had forgotten what a dream car the C5 is on the motorway and dual carriageways.

The trip to Carmathen was not without purpose. Having driven Branwen to the dentist last week I stopped in the assembly office to register the holding we have here as a first step to getting grant aid to plant a small woodland.

So far so complicated, put in the forms last week together with a map and went for a mapping meeting this morning. Thankfully it was me and not her, dear god where do they find some people. The very nice man was very nice but, he explained patiently as if to a small child Wales was a big place and he could not find our place without a map showing him. Which of course was why I had included one with my application form I explained patiently. Ah but he did not have the form he replied to the child, I wondered if maybe he should have had the form then, I countered patiently.  Did I know my post code he asked, Yes I did, it was on the other piece of paperwork I had just handed him, was that my post code? Yes, what was it again, as far as I knew it had not changed since I had completed either form,  the last of which had been given to him to write down 5 minutes ago, I hissed. Oh that was the post code of the property, bright lad, he got it.

Up came a satellite image, which showed our land very clearly, was this feature a track leading to the main road? Resisting the temptation to say no, we always arrive by helicopter, I said yes. A lot huffing puffing and  computer mousing and he had delineated our drive. What was this other feature? I looks a bit like a house to me, says I. Ohh was that the house where we lived. Resisting the temptation to say: no it's where the cats live and we live under the tree over there (tree would probably have been very complicated for him to understand) I said yes. Then there was a concrete pad where there had been a barn, my was that a dilemma as apparently concrete pads have a different statistical code to barns and I had to decide which it was. Now, our barn departed in a big storm about 12 years ago, we never did work out where it went as no one saw it ever again, too much information, he didn't need to know that.              

Moving quickly on we were able to identify a number of other features, Green Goddess fire pumps actually, now here was a real quandary, there was no statistical number for those, well they are vehicles and therefore not technically buildings or land features. Whats more they had all moved since 2009 and they were parked in other places now. After a pause, he said he probably didn't need to enter those in his data base then, it took me a few second to realise he was actually serious. Dear god he was so lucky the student hadn't gone, There might have been a felony, as it was we applied for the original paperwork a month ago, it had been in the post the day we phoned up. 3 times it had been the post, it was only when i turned up and indulged in a spot of counter banging last week that  the forms were produced and filled in.

Now it has all gone to another department for them to look at - goodness knows why, all I wanted is to plant some bleedin trees after all.  

I should have added the new car is called Robdale or Shinny - according to Bruce that is


Monday, 15 July 2013

Sunset into the mist

The view from my bedroom window now - I love living here.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

I survived an attempt on my life!!!

It has been a fraught few days, the daughter driving lessons have been a bit of a trip to terror.

Yesterday, we had a lovely night out, took the canoes that have been too idle too long, to the beach and with new fosling and big D had an hour of paddling out.

This in turn was a head changer and we decided to go for it this morning and be a bit selfish, no kids about, just me and the student take the canoes out.

So off we went to a nice little cove, which features a pub. My original suggestion, (also features a pub) having been turned down. Soo anyway out to sea we went, and she said why didn't we head for this other cove (no pub) as "it's just round the headland".  To be fair I have seen an map or two in my life and I knew it was round a few headlands. Breaking all the rules I would have set as a responsible lifeguard type off we set. Now, my local knowledge is - not a lot so it was quite exciting pioneering stuff.

Actually, I was loving this as it was all the old skills I had learnt over the years, read the sea, read the waves, oh yes even though it was close to millpond there was an Atlantic swell arriving. Did I need to lay seaward of that rock or could I cut inside it?

Of course not having done the research I didn't know that we were fighting the tidal run, nasty thing about that, if you are making 3 knots and the tide is 2 knots you are not moving a lot. Rest for 10 minutes and you have lost 20 minutes progress.

It was dig in time with swell, look at currents choosing the best line.

So out we went, I was looking for nice little coves where we could land and chill for a bit and there were precisely - none.

So on we went, digging in  my love of all this excitement was falling quickly

We got further and further on and of course, turning back ceased to be an option.

I was moving towards worried.

There was nowhere to go to shore, just rocks.

It was just keep going time, every point we came round, just revealed the next.

Maybe it was still my inner lifeguard but I could not see our "outs" if it went wrong.

But we eventually rounded the last point and it was full on for the beach.

Now, we could have simply  turned round and gone back.

It was she who was trying to kill me's change point.

She decided 

We walked the km or so of footpath to the van, drove back and collected the canoes and we went home got changed.

By this stage I was a bit errrh relaxed in the cream of crackered sense. 

Then, it was town and lunch then.

Oh dear proper terror

Lunch was great, then daughter finished work and she had to practise driving home

She is getting there, as in she is getting more confident, so that means the near misses happen at higher speed.

I don't scream any more. mainly because I can only squeak.




Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The Human Rights Act

I do a bit of teaching occasionally and not that long ago I was doing a course about equality and diversity.

I started the course by asking if people thought the Abu Quatada chap should be chucked out of the country and, everyone including me had their hands in the air.

I then asked who thought torture was an OK thing - of course no one was up for that.

So who would vote for someone to be deported to a country where torture is routine, I asked.

And of course no one would.

Abu Qatada might be a odious little chap but where do our values fall, would we rather him here or condone torture I asked

Even Sun readers tended to prefer the non torture option.

So of course we look at today's ruling from Strasbourg which has been descended on with glee by the right wing.

The court of human rights has ruled that anyone can change, can become a person who sees what they did was wrong, feel remorse and change.

This government has prescribed that they cannot, that change is impossible.

That's not true, even Ian Duncan Smith might one day  learn empathy and compassion.

I doubt it, but I would never support a measure that condemns him because he is the person he is today.



Saturday, 6 July 2013

Summer time and the weather is errrr unpredictable.

There's something really weird to the weather, Thursday off I went of a morning to interview some students for the degree. I left here in grim misty drizzle more reminiscent of March that the summer.I returned to brilliant blazing sunshine, the temperature has shot up a whole 10 degrees in a day or so. Very strange.

Mr Foxy Woxy has been to call, now, I know a lot of rural types are against hunting, actually both my neighbour and I have refused the hunt permission to cross our land. Hunt people are quite incredible, they don't ask permission, they come and tell you a bunch of hoorays is about to come onto your fields for their horses to tear them apart and knock the fences down in ways that they would get very annoyed about if it was being done by ramblers or (perish the thought ) the likes of me in my 4x4. They seem even more affronted when you tell the little angels that actually this is your land and they are not  coming on to it.

But anyway Mr Foxy Woxy is not your friend, over the winter he decided to help himself to a chicken dinner, raiding our hen house, we had thought because he had not been round that the Cats must have seen him off. Unfortunately not, this week the remaining two chickens seem to have disappeared, first we could not find where they were laying now we just can't find them at all. 

The student would be upset but she is essaying furiously something to do with gerontology which requires a contrast between post modernist and structuralist perspectives. No I am not sure what that's all about either, I know Foucault is involved in the argument which of course makes sense as she rather likes Foucault.

I digress though, Thursday was spent in the hallowed towers of academe where a foster carer fits in like a very square peg in a perfectly round hole. Interesting that one of the lecturers has a friend who has just taken up foster care and she is appalled at how her friend is getting treated. Now, when my mate Alan and i have recalled some of the things done to us in the past they have been listened to politely but not treated as a possible scandal When it's her mate who is I am guessing also a SW, things are all different.

It's a weird thing about SW's they don't believe anything until they see it themselves. Little D's behaviour could not possibly be as we described it, but when his SW saw how he behaves it was some new revelation of great import.

Interviews in Uni are a welcome break from the life at Penole, I do wonder sometimes how the committed young things end up as the sort of factory fodder that seem to populate most SW departments. interesting this year, against a back ground of anti asylum anti immigration that seems to be sweeping the country. The two outstanding applicants, had both fled to the UK to escape grinding poverty and oppression in Africa.

They were head an shoulders above anyone I had interviewed this year - in the last couple of years actually.