Beestonia V Tesco; Saving Science, Soubry’s dodgy mates, and the best game never made…

Posters are up around town, thus its official: on Monday Tesco opens its doors at 8am and Beestonia formally cedes to Tescopoly. Arses.

After my last piece on the store, I received a text from the mole who first tipped me off about Tesco’s illegal nighttime activity. It was around midnight when the call came through, and I’d just finished a glass of fine Claret, washed down with a chaser consisting of, errr, the rest of the bottle. So, like a lolloping, slurring Roger Cook, I donned my jacket, grabbed my pen and pad and after summoning my faithful accomplish K (who I take on missions as she is tiny and less likely to be punched than I).

Now, Tesco ARE allowed to work on the interior of the shop, and external agencies are allowed to work on the highways, but NO work is permitted at such an hour on the site. So when I saw a huge yellow vehicle trundling down by the displaced Job Centre, I decided to ask the driver what was happening.

“I’m’ working mate. Fuck off”

Hmmm. “Are you aware you’re working illegally? People are trying to sleep round here”

“Fuck off”

Cheers Tesco.

We walked round the side of the store, where a vicious whirring noise was blasting out onto the street. A cherry picker was up against the windows of the store, and judging by this guy’s attire, he was working:

I asked him what he was doing, but he couldn’t hear me, so I gestured for him to come down. K started filming here: I’ll upload the videos (plus some more from the aggrieved young lady who first tipped me off) when my computer stops getting all nostalgic for the early eighties and pretending its a BBC Micro.

“Stop filming” he demanded, so I didn’t “Are you aware you’re working illegally?I asked. “Stop filming me or I’ll arrest you” informed Mr Tesco. This was a surprise to me, as I was previously ignorant that supermarket staff held such powers. Mind you, I saw EIGHT police recently arrest a pitifully drunk man outside Sainsburys -by pinning him down, strapping him with restraints and dragging him down the road – on the seeming whim of the little security guard at the store, who had bore the brunt of the wino’s boozed up blatherings. Lidl will probably get a tank and a helicopter gunship soon, which should stop the carpark skaters.

I digress. I pointed out that he couldn’t arrest me, and that even if he did have the power, I was doing nothing illegal. But its unfair to blame the workers who have to work such ungodly hours to feed their families, so I asked for the foreman / site manager. He waved at a cluster of men in hi-vis who had suddenly appeared a few yards behind me, and one eventually walked towards me. ‘What do you want? Get off the site’.

I was on a public highway, and pointed this out. It occurred to me that I better point out that I was a campaigning journalist, not a drunk, though I am definitely more qualified in the latter than the former. Once informed of this, he suddenly stiffened, turned on a heel and marched back into the shop in what can only be described as a bizarre and very urgent manner. Again, the video will be up soon. The guy moonwalked to avoid me. I’m not kidding.

A few minutes later, and with the men in hard hats and hi-vis quickly running round the store, all staff were bought inside and the temporary fencing chained and padlocked. I went home, a red wine hangover starting to bite at my brain.

———————————————–

Anyhow, it maybe too late now, but the cynical rubbishness of the Tesco building experience has galvanised me to never shop there. And should they ever dare to put planning applications down for expansion, and I’ve heard rumours these are already drawn up, I have more than a few good reasons ready to make sure it’s not green-lighted.

——————————————————————-

Who is this?

                                                                 Jason Grocock

You may have seen him in the news a few years ago, for all the wrong reasons. His name is Jason Grocock, and he achieved a level of fame in 2006 when he bribed police officers who were involved in the Colin Gunn (Nottingham’s biggest twat: coke dealing, violent, nasty Bestwood-based meathead who once threatened to kill me when I was a humble barman at MGM) case, swapping suits for inside info. The officers lost their careers and were locked up, Grocock got four years and three months in jail. A truly shocking story, I’m sure you’ll agree. I mean Limeys for god sake! The shop that sold clothes to those who considers Yates a class joint, Burtons a bit high-end and a Wetherspoon’s two-for-one a perfectly acceptable first date. Paul Smith, yes, I’d have probably snogged Colin Gunn for a suit from their, but Limeys. We even have crap corrupt cops.

So he’s a thoroughly rubbish human, and, very strangely, Facebook friends with our faithful MP, Anna Soubry.  Which I’m sure is perfectly innocent, she was a criminal barrister herself once, so its ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to talk about. I’d make a joke here about she sits with worse examples of corrupt crims every day in the House Of Commons, but I’m not Ben Elton so shall refrain.

 (cheers for Andy for the tip off)

_———————————————–

For the record, I’m friends on Facebook with Conrad Black and Zac Goldsmith, two odious turds. Not quite sure why. Claret is possibly to blame.

______________________________________________

Curse of Beestonia DOESN’T strike: after writing about my opposition to science budgets being cut in the spending review, Gideon didn’t wield the axe with as much cruelty as he had previously threatened. Nice to see that single-handedly, I managed to stop science from stopping, avoided a plunge back into the pre-Enlightenment Dark Ages and ensured that Brian Cox never has to visit a sub-standard hair-stylist. See? Beestonia works.

__——————————————————–

This needs little explanation, and I wish I could say I made it myself but I didn’t…big props to ‘Outback Brad’ for this gem:

                                     

Beestonia and The Tesco FAIL

                                   (image shamelessly linked from the very fine www.tescopoly.org . Cheers!)

Just when it seemed Tesco was a non-story, its depressing inevitability now with a confirmed opening date, something very interesting crops up.

My annoyance at Tesco has been a constant theme throughout the life of Beestonia: from my upset at Pet Mart being bulldozed after its plucky stand against the retail behemoth, to my attempts to get the site designated a protected wildlife area by introducing some rare newts; to my planned, and possibly illegal occupation of the site and planting of the Beestonia flag to claim the area as a independent republic. The way such a prime site, ideally placed for a cluster of very much-needed affordable homes to be built on, was so cynically gifted  to a company who care not a jot about Beeston, and will rip the heart out of the high street without blinking. Special thanks here to Beeston Conservative’s, who pretended to oppose the plans while simultaneously accepting a huge wodge of cash to move their club into a plush new building.

The  last few weeks I’ve been watching the progress with a heavy heart, and that horrible pragmatic realisation that despite my ire towards it, I’d probably end up shopping there. Sigh.

We lost.

Or is there still a battle to fight?

Earlier this week, an email arrived from a Beestonian who had moved to  our fair town, and more specifically, right next to the site. Then it was still wasteland, so was quite a shock to her when she realised a mega-store was being built on her doorstep. Or as she succinctly puts it ‘I moved to a small Labour town, I now live in a giant Tory supermarket’. After reading that how could I not decide to don my cast-aside anti-Tesco tabard, polish off my reporters pen and dog-eared notepad and go to work?

Tesco made several promises when fighting for permission to build, some of these related to the disturbance that would be made to locals living nearby. This included limiting working hours:  8.00am-18.00 during the week, 8.00am-13:00 on a Saturday, and nothing  on a Sunday. Which seems fair enough, if you don’t work shifts. Except it seems Tesco (I know it’s technically contractors hired by Tesco, but ultimately Tesco have responsibility for the works, so I will continue to refer to them as such) are so desperate to get the store open by early November they have arrogantly, and possibly illegally, decided not to bother adhering to these rules. Work has been starting as 7am most mornings, and work on a sunday has become commonplace. Heres a picture of the site from Sunday 3rd October:

and also this from last Sunday, the 10th:

Hmm, that looks like working to me, unless some blokes in hi-vis are playing on an improvised slide, and categorically NOT working.

This inevitably results in this:

:                                          

Gridlock on Queen’s Road. (Also check out the billboard that proclaims ‘THE BIG TORIES TART HERE’. Please feel free to add your own satire)

This is only a small selection of pictures I’ve been sent on the issue. But lets move onto another issue: the incredibly badly thought-out pavement obstructions, which are impassable to wheelchair/mobility scooter users and pushchairs, and occasionally downright suicidal for even the most able-bodied pedestrian.

                   

The   first pic is particularly scary: as it leads the gentle, soft, squishy pedestrian directly into the path of hard, fast, crushing vehicles. At least Ginever’s funeral parlour is opposite, so your demise will be quickly dealt with.

My informant has been in touch with the Council, MP Soubry, and Tesco’s themselves, but is pretty much convinced that this weekend her sleep will be broken as work continues in earnest. If you live by, send me pics/videos/ anecdotes. It won’t make Tesco back down, demolish the store and plant a butterfly meadow, but it will get them to stop being so incredibly arrogant in the construction; and I’ll contact anti-Tesco groups who still have their stores in the planning stage, and pass it on to help the case against another soulless box being thrown up in their town.

As the saying goes, Every Little Helps.

———————————————————————————

Baron Hardup of Beestonia / Boots: Gonna Walk All Over You/ Still no article about evil cats, sorry.

When I decided to take on the hefty burden of becoming  Benign Dictator of Beestonia, I decided that the only way one can truly start a Cult of Personality would be to have a title. I toyed with creepy, communist state ones  such as ‘Head Comrade’ , ‘Commandent’ or ‘Dear Leader’. These didn’t sound right. I then remembered Idi Amin decided that the true way to moniker oneself is to do so with hugh cojones, and not bother with any subtlety: His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular. Which is rather ace, even if the man himself was a crazed psychopath with a taste for genocide. Nope, I had to look closer to home.

Every manor needs a lord, as the saying goes, so I decided to keep it simple and plump for a simple, but dazzlingly effective Lord Beestonia. It has a slight mellifluous ring to it, was crisp, simple and probably entitled me to wear ermine.

But before I ultimately plumped for a peerage, I felt a twinge of temptation to indecently indulge my adoration of alliteration and become “Baron Beestonia”. It had a medieval feel to it, probably allowing me to wear a raven on my shoulder, wear sweeping black velvet cloaks and know that when I limped through town women would shield their children’s eyes from my terrifying presence.

My real name? Goold. Yes, geedoubleoheldee.  No, I haven’t got it wrong, no there isn’t a bloody U in it, yes I know its unusual. Its the bane of my life, misspelt by even my closest friends. I have received letters for a Mister God, Good, Gold, Goolo (I had a credit card with that on. Used it until the bank phoned me and asked if I exist), Goole, Godd and numerous other depressing variants. Its been a mystery when, how and why the Goolds diverged from the Goolds. A mystery. A mystery that I solved on Friday, after a lazy afternoon googling and some sheer good fortune. And it turns out Im actually a Baron. Or at least, a direct descendant of one.

A hundred and ninety-nine years ago, a loyal politician was given the title ‘Baron of County Cork’ by a grateful King George the Third. His name was Patrick Gould, but he promptly changed it to Patrick Goold, to distinguish the new, aristocratic wing of the family from the dirty faced commoners. Thus all us Goolds are descended from a Baron, and despite me having militant republican tendencies when it before I discovered this stunning fact, if I now am allowed to eat swan, drink six gallons of finest ruby port a week and get to be carried about in a golden sedan carriage, as cap-doffing loyal subjects scatter rose petals in my path, well, I suppose I can change my opinion slightly to accommodate this revelation.

So there it is, Beestonians, in some Dickensian twist of fate, you are ruled by a Baron.  Please ask permission before kissing my brass buckled boots. And someone find me a bloody castle.

________________________________________

This wasn’t the only nugget of weirdness I found while scraping round Google and Wikipedia. Nope, something even weirder came up. It’s a tale of treachery, tennis, casinos, mad widows and much much more. It’s a tale that is so incredibly bizarre I’m finding my attempts to write it up are hindered by my need to temper the details, as they appear incredible. It’s a tale that is one part F. Scott Fitzgerald, three parts Agatha Christie, two parts Thomas Hardy and ten parts Plain Weird. I thought I led a dissolute life: compared to my utterly crackpot ancestor I’m the very model of sober regularity. Tune in soon…..

________________________________

 Boots, gonna walk all over you

No doubt you’ve heard the pretty crap news that Boots, or more correctly, Alliance Boots, is shedding 750 jobs. Boots was bought by an aggressive private equity firm, KKR, the type of company that only sees a bottom line, and squeezing the maximum amount of profit in the minimum amount of time and staff, and sod the ethics. One of its first actions when it took control was to withdraw from the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), a retail industry recognized standard set up by a coalition of charities and campaign groups such as Oxfam and Christian Aid, that pledges to ban suppliers from using forced /child labour (another boss who refused to sign up to the ETI is Topshop’s Sir Philip Green, the oleaginous slug of a man who is presently advising the Coalition on what cuts the public sector should make, no doubt emailed in from his huge yacht moored off St Tropez).

So whats our caring MP done about it? Stormed down to Boots to give them a jolly good telling off, yes? Err, not quite. She came back from a meeting and reported in her latest newsletter that nah, nowt to worry about, it’s just efficiency, innit? And instead of reporting back that she’d managed to persuade the scythe-wielding bosses to ease up a little, she actually devoted a big chunk of the email demanding that the A453 is widened and the workplace parking levy be scrapped, echoing the demands made by the very bosses she should have been laying into. Thanks Anna, nice to see whose side you’re on.

The founder of Boots, Jesse Boot, was a great philanthropist who loved the area, donating Highfields and the meadows to its north for the new University College, which is now Nottingham University, with the proviso the grounds were kept open and not overbuilt, hence the beauty and leafy gloryof the campus. Poor bloke must be whirling like a centrifuge right now.

                                                               

______________________

Jesse’s philanthropy didn’t go unrewarded, and in 1929 was rewarded with an elevation to the peerage and became Baron Trent. The title passed to his son, John, who went on to become Chancellor at the University. And that’s where it ends, as the baronetcy sadly became extinct on his death.

 Hmmm, now I’m an aristo, I can probably pull a few strings with Lizzie Windsor and get it resurrected and in use again. Who should have it? Suggestions to the usual address please….

SCIENCE!: PART 2

SCIENCE!

Not much about Beeston here I’m afraid, and not in my next two posts either that will deal with 1) My claim for a baronetcy 2) cats, evil. But as the Tory party conference chugs along in earnest, making Birmingham the least attractive city in Europe to be in right now  (although it also held that title last week, sans the tories), and the knives are out for anything that dares touch the tax-take.

I’m not going to argue about the level of radicalism when it comes to  deficit reductions, or the speed, or the callousness. I’ll leave that to the better informed, and those who can write polemic without falling off the cliff of reason and into the seas of spluttering,  floundering rage. None of that, just a bafflement about one decision, a decision that makes so little sense either Gideon hasn’t twigged, or has, and is even more of a malignent turd than I previously suspected.

Britain lost its manufacturing base years ago, as cheaper exports and the free market made it too expensive to produce goods at a competitive rate. Thatcher finished off in the eighties, when she sensed that Sheffield steel workers, Tyneside ship builders and Northern coal miners were strongly unionised, predominantly left- leaning and therefore The Enemy to the  society-free, individualistic right wing utopia she and Keith Joseph dreamed of. All are now as good as dead, eastern european coals do indeed go to Newcastle, and the branding MADE IN ENGLAND is an anachronism now only seen on artisan breads and Lambrini.

What does prop us up then? Where do we punch well above our weight? What do we do well that makes the rest of the world doff its baseball cap/beret/fez? Knowledge, thats what. We live in the Information Age, where Google, Facebook and Twitter do nothing other than provide a platform for thoughts, often crap ones, often useless ones, but often ones that are changing the world at an incredible rate…all the same, such companies are massively loaded, pouring billions into coffers with the resultant taxes.

Britain, with a mere one percent of the worlds population, yet kicks out 10% of global scientific output. Which is quite a staggering statistic. Heres another. Today, two British based scientists won the Nobel Prize for Physics due to their research in a staggeringly incredible material called graphene, which is now the most expensive material on earth: a square centimetre would set you back around $100,000,000. Its uses could revolutionise electronics, solar cells and biomedical materials. Its great. Its a material that couldn’t have been developed in Britain if it wasn’t for EPSRC, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council: funded directly and entirely dependant on government money.

Yesterday, a British scientist won the Nobel Prize for Medecine for perfecting the techniques that made IVF possible; and thus enabled millions of infertile couples to have children. He promptly got told off by the Vatican (which must be a great validation for a scientist after their stance on Galileo).

Tomorrow, there might be a hat trick, and by the time you read this you’ll know who. Even if we dont do the whitewash, bagging two out of three of the greatest prizes in science is quite an achievement for Britain, akin to England winning the World Cup AND European Cup not just once, but every tournament, by seven goals of such beauty, skill and grace they make Pele look like Thora Hird. Yet we take it for granted, and even now I imagine winning a friendly 1-0 against Andorra would provoke more national pride.  This isn’t a fluke year, by no meands: this  tiny island has a record of achievement in the Nobles, and less glam research prizes that makes us look like the pulsating brains of the world, kicking out ideas, inventions, discovering stuff of such amazing importance we should pat ourselves firmly on the back and perhaps crack open that dusty bottle of Chateau De Pape Neuf we were saving for a special day.

But what we are doing is not quite like that. Nope. We’re sitting back and watching as Cable, Call Me Dave and Gideon decide to take their shears and look like snipping 25% off scientific research and development budgets across the government funded science sector, predominantly in Higher Education. This is madness, as every pound put into such funding pops out the other end at least 30% shinier than it was when inserted. Its the Golden Goose, and cuts, with the resultant brain drain, would be incredibly suicidal if we want to keep our fragile economy in the running for recovery. The thinking is we can’t hamer certain institutions-predominantly in the financial sector- too harshly as this would be detrimental to the economy after the first budget sheet is drawn up. If this argument is used for banks, then it is illogical to stop watering the roots of a sector we should be massively grateful for. Unscientific, in many senses of the word.

_____________________________________

So, what to do? How can YOU stop this silliness? You dont have to do an awful lot. Due to the wonders of, errrr, science, simply click  :http://scienceisvital.org.uk/sign-the-petition/ and then sign the petition. Write to your MP, you’ll find a template somewhere on the site; even if  said MP is Soubry; spam this article on Twitter, Facebook, and wherever, just make sure we don’t intellectually castrate ourselves after the imminent spending review. Its easy. Its not rocket science. Arf.