Yobbish behaviour

Living on a council estate in the east end of London, we are quite used to seeing wrong doing. It is fair to say, the police know this estate well. They know some of our residents very well. One or two have spent a considerable number of periods as guests in Her Majesty’s prisons.

Theft of neighbour’s possessions was common place and occasionally stupid vandalism leaves me bewildered with its stupidity. Don’t misunderstand, these ‘bad apples’ are containable and not the febrile threat they were when we took two particular residents to Court. They were both evicted. At the source of both cases lay the misuse of drugs. In the first case, Mr X was inviting hoards of teenagers to his flat at very odd hours. These were mostly teenage boys but often many girls were frequenting his flat at all hours and creating noise and nuisance with their loud music, anti-social behaviour and graffiti. Twice I warned Mr X that he was putting his tenancy in danger by encouraging these teenagers to his flat. Twice he ignored my warnings.

Things came to a head when another resident heard the boys boasting about how they proposed to deal with me. Even I was shocked to learn that they intended to put a petrol soaked rag through my letter box. Needless to say the police were made aware, and a particular sergeant personally got a warrant and raided the flat to get evidence against the tenant. Meanwhile I removed the letter box to my front door and sealed the inner opening with some very stout plywood. When granting the ‘Possession Order’ Mr X was given fourteen days to leave with his belongings. He and his younger friends used the time to completely wreck his flat. Cupboards torn from walls, kitchen windows smashed. More surprisingly was the decor in his flat. I’ve no idea what he and his friends were on but all the ceilings were painted a pale blue, with white looking puffy clouds. However, down the walls the colours got darker and darker until at floor level (and on the floor) were deep red and black colours. We guessed it was all supposed to mean – Heaven above, with the deeper paint gradients representing the slow decent into hell. Weird or what?

The other one, (Mr Y) we evicted was a much younger man. He had a harem of the young single mothers from the estate. Again he was supplying ‘weed’ and other drugs. Which I could have ignored. One morning a detective approached me to say the police were interested in learning about Mr Y’s activities! I told the detective he was into martial arts and body building. I also suspected drug dealing. He was an all round nasty piece of work. Ironically, while we were having that conversation, another resident came to complain that she had water coming through her ceiling from above her flat. I went with her and saw it was more than a drip.  As Mr Y lived directly above her I asked the officer to accompany me. On getting no response from knocking on his door, I decided that I should break-in. Our policy was we could only force an entry if a Council Offer, or a policeman was present. Luckily the detective was with me and I had little difficulty in forcing the front door lock. While the detective rummaged in cupboards and crevices I looked for a leak. In the toilet I could hear water running down the walls behind the false wall and so the leak wasn’t from Mr Y’s flat. The detective, said, “Fine, I’ve seen enough” as he accompanied me to two more flats above. (I eventually found a split hose to a washing machine.)

I didn’t think much more about the incident, until a week or so later, when we were celebrating the Christmas break. The phone rang. I answered, and Mr. Y said, “You’re a grass and I’m going to get you, not today or maybe next week, but keep looking over your shoulder, as one day I’ll be there”! I  replied that he was a prat and I had done nothing wrong. I put the phone down.

On Christmas Day, I answered a knock on my front door and sure enough there was Mr Y. I immediately stepped outside into our lift lobby area and confronted him saying, “Well what do you want?” He punched me, I punched back and soon it was a brawl. The only problem was that he was thirty-six and I was sixty. I didn’t stand much chance and the Court later on found in my favour. So a second thug was evicted.



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Why the poor have bad diets

When we walked through the door at midnight at the end of a shift, we kicked off our boots and collapsed onto our beds with a bag of McDonalds and a can of beer. We did not – and nor have I met anyone in a similar job who behaves this way – come home and stand about in the kitchen for half an hour boiling broccoli. Regularity of dietary habit is simply incompatible with irregularity of work and income

James Bloodworth Hired, p52



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Book Review: John Burdett – Bangkok Eight

John Burdett’s book is a very exotic thriller. Burdett begins Bangkok Eight with a murder. Unlike routine thrillers this murder isn’t crude and obvious. This murder is exquisite in its sophistication.

Bangkok Eight hasn’t anything like the Anglo-Saxon thriller genre. Nothing will prepare you for the storyline. Yes there’s a detective: Sonchai Jitpleecheep. He’s a Buddhist and is incorruptible in one of the most corrupt countries in the world. His mother is brothel keeper who was a prostitute and he lives in a hovel. He’s bi-racial, fluent in English and French and rejects western values. Not exactly Rebus, Morse or Reacher then.

Bangkok Eight follows the familiar narrative arc of thrillers. There’s a murder, a very complex investigation into an extensive crime network and a triumphant denouement. But the exotic nature of Bangkok and the multilayered investigation is an exciting read. The fascination levels never drop.

Why you should read this book: It’s a familiar genre done beautifully in an exotic setting.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: It might tell you more than you want to know about the Thai sex trade.

Buy it at https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_7?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=bangkok+eight&sprefix=bangkok%2Caps%2C157&crid=4B4TCNSC8LQP


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Bleak Dystopian Future

As time drifts ever onward
Memory’s seem to fade faster, each day
Short term memory loss, concerning
Like a rubbed out black board
Where only the odd word is still discernable.

The once busy blackboard’s copious notes
Instructions to be followed, diligently
Now unreadable, indistinct and faded
Writing emasculated and vandalised by time
Now mostly yesterday of last month gone.

Wisp’s of thought, once so confident
Dangle as unattainable pearls
Just beyond reach, in the murk of absurdity
Lucidity can return, only occasionally
Fleetingly stressed, outside of normality.

After sixty adult years, of decision making
Leading the way for others to follow
Articulating preferred options and outcomes
Making the decisions, when they mattered
Showing experience with maturity.

Forgetting names, events, people
Not forgotten, just misplaced
Favourite special occasions lost
Memory is such a fickle thing
In a private cell, where none may enter.

My old friend ‘memory’, is leaving
Nothing can take its place
A bleak future awaits, sorrowful
Frustration easily turns to anger
My “Kaddish” is give me patience!


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A tourist gets advice from a Canadian Ranger

Ranger: When you walk on this path you should periodically ring a bell. This will warn the bears that you’re in the vicinity and they wont attack.

Tourist: How will we know that there are bears in the vicinity?

Ranger: You’ll see fresh faeces on the path but you wont see the bears.

Tourist: I understand that grizzly bears sometimes come down the mountain. How will I know the difference between brown bears and grizzlies?

Ranger: If it’s a grizzly you’ll see little bells in amongst the faeces.


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The 2018 local elections in Kensington and Chelsea*

Mohammed Tehrani said, “Grenfell hasn’t had an impact in the south of the borough. In the south they don’t give a damn about Grenfell.1

The 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy killed 72 people in the richest borough in the richest city in Britain. Eleven months later the May 2018 local elections showed a very marginal Grenfell effect with one Labour gain. This is surprising because the Conservative administration is being investigated on the competence of their decision-making procedures in relation to the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower. There are investigations focused on decision-making concerning the external cladding which accelerated the inferno. The possible flawed decision-making is so egregious it has provoked both a police investigation and a Public Inquiry2. There have been profound changes to the ruling Conservative group in the pre- Grenfell and post-Grenfell period. The Conservatives have done the work of the electorate for them: behind closed doors. Tehrani is saying Conservative councillors are clones and the new councillors would have made exactly the same decisions as the old ones.

The political and social divide in Kensington and Chelsea 2018

The principal decision-making body for K&C was a ten member cabinet. They were so tainted post-Grenfell that six lost their positions. This began a political cull in response to Grenfell. Notwithstanding the fact that ‘Conservative’ wards continued to loyally elect Conservatives, there were massive changes. In 2014 there were 37 Conservative members, which became 36 after the 2018 election. However of the 37 members who held their seats in 2014 only 16 still held them in 2018. Let’s put this in a different way. Rock-solid Conservative wards deselected, or caused to resign (for whatever reason) 20 members between the 2014 and 2018 elections, with just one losing a public election3. Those 20 Conservative members were not voted out by an enraged electorate. Safe Conservative seats stayed safe and Mohammed Tehrani’s prediction is apparently spot on. Of the sitting Conservative councillors from the 2014 elections 56% didn’t stand in 2018. Why?

Six cabinet members lost their position post-Grenfell. None of them stood in the 2018 election, suggesting coercion. Any connexion to the Grenfell tragedy was assumed to be toxic and the new Conservative leadership feared that pre-Grenfell cabinet members would attract effective campaigns against them to the detriment of the party. The Conservatives had lost the parliamentary seat of Kensington in a shock result in 2017 and so the leadership was taking no chances with the borough election. A Public Inquiry and a police investigation and 72 deaths was too much for the new leader, Councillor Campbell4. It’s less easy speculating about the (non-cabinet) fourteen members who didn’t stand. Victoria Borwick didn’t stand in Abingdon ward. She’s a former MP with a whiff of scandal about her. She claimed both an MP and a councillors’ salary, which is clean contrary to convention (but not illegal). So she might have resigned for personal reasons, or, for alienating her local party, or, a connexion with Grenfell. It’s impossible to know. As is drawing a straight line from Grenfell to the 20 Conservatives successful in 2014 but not standing in 2018. Nonetheless it points to turmoil in K&C’s Conservative party.

Tehrani can be interpreted as making a ‘class-war’ remark. In that narrative the Grenfell tragedy is collateral damage in a class-war waged by the south of the borough against the poor in the north. In which case the re-jigged Conservative Administration is changing of one set of clones for another. Tainted councillors causing reputational damage were removed and any blame occurring from the conclusion of the investigation and Public Inquiry will be borne by former councillors whilst business at K&C continues as usual. Only time will tell whether Tehrani’s cynicism is accurate.

*henceforward K&C

1 https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/grenfell-impact-kensington-chelsea-council-election_uk_5adf43eae4b07be4d4c53e0a Tehrani is 62 and lives in the north of the borough and went on to say that voting by the rich always wins a majority in Kensington. The public inquiry is led by Sir Martin Moore-Bick.

2 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41262914

3 If you wish to see K&C’s election result history go to their excellent site https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/local-democracy-and-elections/election-results-archive

There was one Lab one gain in St Helens ward. Cllr Allison lost her seat but the ward was already split Con/Lab and so this isn’t amazing.

4 Who incidentally increased her vote with 1907 against the highest Labour vote of 349 in Royal Hospital ward. The Kensington parliamentary election was lost by 20 votes when Victoria Borwick was defeated.


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A scene from The Peep Show [a British TV show of two dysfunctional men with wildly different lifestyles]

A new boiler. Surely the least enjoyable way to spend a thousand pounds. At least throwing the money out of the window you’d see the scrabbling mass, the hate-filled faces. I have spent a cool grand on acquiring the resumption of an equitable temperature. (Mark- David Mitchell)


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