Who is Steve?

Well, its time other update in my (un) exciting adventures.

Well, since my last post, I’ve returned home from my October break in Tyneside and even been to work. Firstly, I want  to know when the October half term stopped being “potato picking week?” No doubt it was when health and safety prevented children working on the farms.

I managed to cycle to work on Tuesday and Friday – so it’s not too bad on the cycling front. I worked from home on Wednesday owing to the Tube strike! But you cycle in” I hear you say. Yes, I do, but as many people would not be in at work and the roads were going to be busier than usual, I took the opportunity to work from home. I also used the extra time I had to use my new bike stand and also to wash my commuter bike. This was a bad idea as I realised my bike needed a bent spoke replacing. So, a trip to the bike shop is needed soon.

Thursday brought an interesting day and a couple of examples of the waste of money in the public sector.

Firstly, I had a meeting with my solicitors re my accident claim. We discussed the quantum of damages. You may be aware, I was off work for some 10 -12 weeks around the turn of the year. Most employment contracts require you to seek to recover any wages paid when off sick and if you do, to reimburse he employer. Not the civil service. I was fortunate enough to be paid full pay whilst off work. My employers do not want me to seek to recover the monies paid out whilst I was sick. This is such a waste of money across the civil service. Especially at a time of such austerity, it is costing the civil service millions of pounds a year. This is money that could be recovered at no cost to the government, but would raise several million pounds per year. For example, there are around 5,000,000 public sector employees and 1% (50,000) of these will have an accident in any year. If only 1 in 5 of those injured (10,0000 people) was able to recover 1 months wages, then this would  raise 10,000 x £1000 (or more as average wage of civil service is over £1000 per month) = £10,000,000 ie £10 million pounds. This is enough to run my department for 2.5 years, with the very conservative estimate of funds that could be recovered in a single year.

David Cameron, George Osborne etc are you listening. Why are you throwing this money away each year?

The second waste of money was a 3 hour meeting scheduled for thursday afternoon between several agencies involved in child protection work. The meeting had people who had travelled from all over England. It lasted as long as it took the group to decide to take no further action on the work previously done. Including refreshments, small talk, introductions and conclusion, the meeting lasted less than 30 mins. What a waste of money. A quick phone call would have sufficed to deal with this.

Friday brought a very wet ride home from work. It was also exactly 12 months after my accident. I rode home very warily, especially when passing the scene of the accident. I got home safely and very relieved.

I had to quickly shower and change as I was due at Kings Cross station to meet Tom, Michelle and Josh. Tom was coming down from Kettering and the other two from Newcastle. Fortunately trains from Kettering arrive at St Pancras which is literally across the road from Kings Cross, so only one station to go to.

Owing to traffic issues, I arrived in Kings Cross Station just as Michelle’s train arrived. She doesn’t realise I was nearly not there to meet her. That will be our little secret  reader?

Saturday was a mix of things. We all went to the cycling club www.lvycc.co.uk where Tom did road riding, Josh was in luck and able to join in a BMX session. He is into BMX, and quite by chance the club were having a rare BMX coaching session – thanks Andy. So whilst those two were off cycling, Michelle and I energetically drank tea and socialized.  Saturday afternoon, after the obligatory supermarket visit was spent watching the football scores on the TV.

I of course had to spend the afternoon slaving over the cooker preparing tea. See Michelle, I do know how to operate the cooker, and I do know what an oven is.

Saturday night brought a trip to the firework display at Barley Lane Primary School. We just to say arrived in time. I cannot tell a lie and have to say it was all Michelle’s fault we were in such a rush. Laying down when supposed to be getting ready is not the way to get there on time. The fireworks were rather good, not hugely noisy, but a great visual display to an accompanying musical soundtrack. It kept Tom and Josh enthralled, both of them were stood for long spells staring open-mouthed at the display. Sadly there was no bonfire to accompany the fireworks.

[ As I write this paragraph, I am conscious that anyone living overseas reading this probably hasn’t got a clue why we have bonfires or fireworks at this time of year. It is a slightly odd concept that we commemorate the attempt by Guy Fawkes and others to blow up Parliament in 1605 by an annual bonfire night on 5th November. It’s a bit of a strange idea.

Even stranger is the fact we burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes on the bonfire, and we have the bonfire on the day the plot was discovered, not the date he was killed. Why we burn his effigy when he was hung is again another quirk of the British tradition. Fireworks? Not got a clue sorry mate. ]

After fireworks, it was home to hotdogs and boiled onions – well its traditional isn’t it?

Sunday was the main event of the weekend. We all went to Earl’s Court for the MPH Show featuring Top Gear Live. It was an enjoyable few hours and to Jeremy Clarkson, James May and 2’6″ tall Richard Hammond was a good laugh. The “new” Stig was introduced to the public – and I can reveal he is another white Stig – William Hills, I’ll have my winnings please.

We left Earls Court, went for Lunch in Victoria and strolled through Central London passed Buckingham Palace, along The Mall and passed Horseguards Road to my work place overlooking St James Park. (Sadly the one in London, not the good one in Newcastle). I had always thought Josh was a Geordie, but after seeing his attempts to pick his mother’s bag whilst she was walking, I think there must be a bit of scouser in his background.

Michelle & Josh House Hunting

Sadly, all good things have to come to an end, and it was time to say farewell to Michelle and Josh at Kings Cross as they caught their train back home. The train was a rather full and lively train packed with Newcastle fans celebrating an unexpected away win at Arsenal.

I then took Tom to St Pancras and had a father / son chat about issues affecting him. Advice was along the lines of “Illegitimi non carborundum”. He went home, and I was left to head to a very empty house to contemplate the weekend that was. Still only 12 days till I see Michelle and Josh again. Not sure when I will see Tom again, his social life prevents him coming down to London too often. I’m surplus to his requirements except when he is short of money!

So, “Who is Steve?” – Well Josh, I think you are going to have to tell me as it seems Michelle is being rather coy about him. My money is on him being Traci’s partner.

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