Beestonia and The Giant Postcard.

Wintergeddon hits Beestonia, yet at a ridiculously hour of the morning I’m stood outside Castle College stamping my feet to get blood to my frozen toes and wondering why I have lost all feeling in my nose. What madness is this? One benefit of being on the dole is that days like this can be spent within a womb-like duvet cave, with the occasional sortie out for tea / toilet  the only break in comfortville.  What could be drawing me from this 12-tog utopia?

I meet with Si and Kathy, a very fine Beestonian couple who, like me, are languishing on JSA. We’re here with a purpose though, and that purpose comes marching down the road a few minutes later, and props itself against the wall of Barton House, where our ever-popular MP has her office:

Yep, the CWU have finally decided the only way to get Soubs to listen to them is to actually go down there and present her with this:

…along with 600 letters from workers at Nottingham APC (The Beeston Ryland based sorting office) stating very clearly that they opposed Soubry’s support for the privatisation of the Royal Mail. This rather makes her claim in the House of Commons that (quoting Hansard)

“In my constituency there are 700 postal workers at the Beeston Sorting Office. To my knowledge, not one of them has written to urge me not to support the Bill. Two of them came to the Commons today to ask me not to support it-two in 700.”

 look rather misleading. In fact, it seems she misled the House, as she was lobbied by the CWU a full month before this statement. Of course, as I’ve shown before, Soubry saw this lobby as the CWU ‘misrepresenting’ its members. I asked a couple of the postal workers gathered if they felt misrepresented ‘Yeah’ said one ‘by her’. He pointed at Anna’s office window. 

This is a very serious issue. In today’s (Friday 26th) Beeston Express she once again tries to wriggle out of it by claiming a minority of letters lobbying her were from people outside the constituency, thus the whole process is flawed, she can ignore the vast majority/ the meeting with the CWU/ the 200+ letters sent to her office. Anna used to be a barrister. I am so happy I didn’t have her representing me back then. I’d probably be doing a life sentence for dropping a crisp packet in the street.

Photographs are taken, and the postalworkers get some quizzical looks from students at Castle College, probably wondering if somethings going to kick off and searching for fire extinguishers if it does. But its all very cordial, no chanting, just chat and complaints about the iciness of the weather while they wait for the photographer for the Beeston Express to show.

Then, the door opens, and…

Anna emerges at around eleven am, and looks slightly shocked at the gathering on her doorstep. She quickly tries to take control of the situation and tries to bundle the workers inside.But Darren, the CWU rep she has an 11.15am appointment with, doesn’t want to come in, pointing out that its too early. Plus, the Beeston Express hasn’t shown yet.

This seems to rile her. ‘I wasn’t told they’d be a protest’ she sputters. ‘We’re just standing here holding a giant postcard’ points out a female postal worker next to her. ‘Well, you’re causing an obstruction to the building’ Soubry counters, so those who are directly in front of the door sidestep, elegantly allowing access to any comers / goers. She concedes this small defeat, closes the door and goes back in.

Sheila from the Beeston Express turns up, and the postman once again gather round the postcard for pictures. Soubry pops out again, and starts asking who we all are. ‘Photographers’ I say, and this is true, as I’m taking a photo of her right then ‘huh, no you’re not’ she harrumphs at myself and Si (who I must credit massively for coming down with his stupidly high mega-pixel camera today, and snapping away despite suspected frostbite).

She gamely agrees to be photographed with the giant postcard, but not-so-gamely grimaces throughout.


The Beeston Express starts snapping, and politely ask her to move around so they can get a good shot: Anna looks so uncomfortable I half expect her to stamp her foot, run back inside slamming the door behind her shouting ‘God, you’re all so unfair’. But instead she just refuses to move, and seethes. It’s almost fascinating.

The CWU eventually decide its time for talks, and go to troop in. I decide not to bother sitting in: I doubt I’d be welcome, or indeed invited. One person who does try and go in however is Cllr. Steve Barber, who, as the representative of the Rylands, has the Sorting Office very much in his interests. He walks up, asks to enter and Soubry swiftly snaps ‘ CWU only’ and slams the door in his rather shocked face. ‘So much for the open invite’ Steve says, and we reflect on what Soubry’s predecessor, the sadly erstwhile Nick Palmer would have done.

Dr Palmer always had an ear for his constituents, and even if he was diametrically opposed to what they believed, would always listen, take on the issue, then try and explain his position. Politely, positively, and fairly. I myself am not a member of any political party, but supported Nick in the General Election as he was a great constituency MP. If Soubry had began as Nick finished, I would have willingly been cheering her along. But she has clearly only got into politics for her own ends, and only to provide vote-fodder. She is not interested in representation, not interested in her constituency (she would have loved Gedling a lot more, and must be hoping that Clarke resigns at the next election and leaves Rushcliffe open to her), and is not a benign presence in Broxtowe.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe today she’ll listen to the desperate pleas of her constituents who see themselves soon to join me at the dole office every fortnight, despite working their arses off for years providing this country with a sometimes flawed, but still marvellous and cheap postal service. Maybe she’ll see every other privatised area, and  see how crap they’ve come (have a ride on East Midlands Trains sometime. Veal travel better). Maybe she’ll see trying to sell what belongs to the public to business people only interested in the bottom line, and sod the rights, the pensions, the jobs of those who ensure  their swimming pools are kept topped up with Evian. Maybe she will, and then maybe I can write something positive.

As I turn to leave and find coffee the temperature of molten lava, a DHL parcel delivery van pulls up outside Barton House. It reminds me of a crow circling a dying animal, and with that happy thought I head back up Chilwell Road and home.

big props to the postal workers who turned up, the ever wonderful Simon and Kathy and apologies to Phil Tooze of the very good Riot Photography for forgetting to get him down to do the pics. If you were at the meeting earlier, I’d be delighted if you get in touch to let me know how it went. Cheers.

Beestonia and the Last Post. Not the pub.

Its an old joke, and a crap one as well, but its always fun. Pretend to do a crossword, and ask someone for help by telling them you’re stuck on the clue ‘ANGRY POSTMAN’. They’ll ummmm, they’ll ahhh, then they’ll say ‘How many letters?’. Don’t miss a beat, shout loudly at them ‘Too bleeding many’ then congratulate yourself on your comedy genius while your victim makes several pointed remarks regarding the provenance of your birth/ your habitual onanism.

However, of late, the answer could quite equally been ‘ 4,6’ . Maybe an anagram to help: ‘ ROB ANY ANUS’.  Take your time.

Its now nearly a full month since Soubry made the claim that all the postal workers in Broxtowe are full supporters of the Tory plans to turn the Royal Mail into a crap privatised ‘service’, and despite pleas from all quarters to retract the statement, has failed to do so. Where is the apology, Anna? Lost in the post?

What I’m truly worried about is the feeling Anna believes her own statement, despite being faced with incredibly compelling evidence to the contrary. She is so lacking any insight that she imagines Royal Mail workers spend their lunch breaks sitting round the canteen discussing how placing the service into the free-market will bolster competitiveness and reward innovation, and if thats at the expense of their jobs, well, no matter, drip-down economic theory will eventually enrich their lives. Then they polish off their sandwich, salute the framed portrait of Ken Clarke, and get back to their work, proud to be greasing the wheels of British business.

Whats more annoying, is that until this story reaches some sort of conclusion, I can’t move on to write about a whole STACK of articles and investigations lined up, so my story on the supreme rubbishness of Cllr. Eric Kelly is on hold, as is my discovery of some of Tesco’s more controversial bed-fellows, and as for my expose on why cats might actually be Satan’s manifestation on Earth…back burner.

Come on Anna. Tell the Commons you’re sorry, tell the CWU and its members you’re sorry, and stop listening to everything Ken Clarke tells you.  Cheers, duck.

Beestonia and Soubry’s Fantasy World/ Will work for food/ Savage Cuts.

After the last post on here, things have got rather frenzied. It took a week for the story of Soubry’s incredible Common’s statement to bubble up to the Nottingham Post, and it inevitably caused a stink in the Beeston Express.  Eventually, Anna decided to issue a statement in the Post today, and its a cracking read.

She starts trying to spin her way out of the scandal by accusing anyone who was concerned about her bare-faced misleading of the House as purveyors of ‘spin’.  Thus follows a floundering, confusingly overlong explanation that wildly swipes out at the CWU as not being representative (the irony, Anna, the irony), and then asserts the utterly absurd idea that postal workers SUPPORT privatisation. No they bloody well don’t Anna. I assume you are mixing up ‘postal workers’ with ‘Ken Clarke’. Maybe removing your head from his corpulent arse will improve your hearing. Just an idea.

And breathe.

Beestonian’s -Broxtonians-I suggest you stop writing to Soubry. It obviously is too much trouble for her to read and reply, and if the view expressed doesn’t square with what Ken Clarke she thinks. Save your stamps. When Anna and the other Thatcherite greedpigs in the Commons throw the Royal Mail to numerous private companies, they are going to be a hell of a lot more valuable…


I’m not very relaxed, as you may note from the previous few lines. This is very much linked to my terrible misfortune to become unemployed and horrible dole-scum just as the right-wing press decided the economic crisis was nothing to do with the greed and stupidity of those in the Square Mile and all to do with the poor. T’was always so, sadly. So I’ve been had the depressing experiences of trying to claim benefits while simultaneously trying to stop the GnatWest from creaming the last few pennies left in my account to ensure Sir Fred Goodwin has a poached Faberge Egg on toast each morning.

I have sensed I’m not the only angry one, and as energy prices, inflation and banker’s salaries rise when disposable incomes, full-time job vacancies and  hope spiral down, its nice to see dissent coming from the most unlikely quarters.

Rumours that Schofield was responsible for lobbing that fire extinguisher at the Met last week are unverified.


I’m on Twitter! Well, I think I am. Find and follow me by searching for Beestonia…get my moans 24/7. Brill, eh?

Beestonia and Soubry’s Last Post.

 “Postman Matt, Postman Matt,

Postman Matt and his black and white telly…”

From Christmas 1995 until the spring of 1997, these lines were sung at me on a regular occasion by friends in recognition of two things that defined me: my job and my lack of modern televisual equipment. Yes dear reader, once upon a time I was responsible for YOUR mail.  I was a postal worker. Which probably explains why that invite to the wedding you were meant to attend in June 1996 only arrived in January ’97. Sorry about that.

It was a terrible job in many ways: I worked the night shift, 11pm to 5am, rendering my social life more redundant than the boss of a quango that monitors quangos.  The work was relentless, the pressure always on, and the canteen would make Heston Blumenthal weep (though he’d probably then collect his tears and use it as brine for tiny hotdogs he made out of alabaster,crocodile and the concept of free-will). But what really struck me about working there, and something that definitely needs flagging up, is the pride, the solidarity and the professionalism of the workers. Postmen realised they were part of an important service, rather than a faceless company, and were proud that we have a postal service that is efficient, well-loved and value for money. They also took justified pride in the effective unionisation of the staff: the CWU was certainly Bolshy at times, but always alert to danger. When I eventually left due to non-renewal of contract, they rushed to support me and challenge the decision. However, I’d sold all my possessions (including the aforementioned telly) and bought a one-way ticket to Spain, so demurred, but was massively grateful.

Coincidentally, I bumped into an ex-colleague tonight, heading home after a shift at the sorting office. Its in Beeston, down in the Rylands. You’ve probably picked a parcel up from there recently. It’s a massive hangar, full of fittings, machine, mountains of post and some of the funniest, most dedicated, lovely people you could imagine. All making sure that you get your birthday cards, Amazon purchases and  red final demands through your letter box on time. But for how long?

The Tories are itching to get their hands on one of these last scraps of public service, as its everything they hate. Its unionised, its popular, its not making money for a big company that they can assume highly-paid boardroom/ consultation positions on when they retire from politics. They sent in Britain’s Worse Boss, the terminally crap Adam Crozier, to try to run it into the ground as he very nearly did with the FA; he tried his best but then decided to smear his shitty paws all over ITV instead. They constantly tinker with worker’s rights, duties and pensions; slice off slivers to privately ran courier companies; and try and pass legislation to mean that Pat would have to sell Jess to vivisectionist’s to pay the gas bill.

So you probably know what happened next, but let me quickly get you up to speed if not. Workers at the Padge Road Sorting Office sent our all-ears MP postcards stating their opposition to any attempt to sell off, and inevitably ruin, the service. This is not just a few activists lobbying for some single issue: this were people appealing to our elected representative out of desperation: before you decide how to stand on any future vote, think of us. Soubry’s response: its too much work, innit? I kid you not. read this: .

Aside from the irony that Anna doesn’t want to spend money on stamps to respond to postmen, the real issue here is her misunderstanding of the concept of ‘representation’. When she ran for the seat, I watched her time and time again in hustings declare ‘I’ll be Broxtowes voice in Westminster, not Westminsters voice in Broxtowe’ . It seemed a pointless platitude at the time: Nick Palmer was hardly a stay-away MP during his term as MP, but now it seems like she might have been less than honest. She famously dismissed the emails and letters she recieved during the election as some sort of leftish plot to distract her from the campaign, which lost her a fair few swing voters, and then has repeatedly claimed that she wouldn’t represent various causes as she was either too busy or didn’t feel the appeal was genuine: more a campaign to distract her.

I won’t even mention the occasion, during the Bramcote Hustings, when she was asked if she was in support of a Tobin or Robin Hood Tax, and professed ‘I don’t know what you mean, what is this? Email me the details’. It’s probably sexist of me to do so.

Fair enough. She is a busy woman, I have no doubt. Palmer was an extraordinarily responsive MP; if her work ethic is less this only shows shes human. Disappointing, but realistic.

But to outright mislead to make a point, that’s bad. To lie to the House of Commons, to Parliament….thats simply unforgivable. I quote Hansard, during a Parliamentary debate on Wednesday the 27th of October, covering the second reading of the Postal Services Bill:

“In my constituency there are 700 postal workers at the Beeston Sorting Office. To my knowledge, not one of them has written to urge me not to support the Bill. Two of them came to the Commons today to ask me not to support it-two in 700.”

Just in case you think your eyes deceive you, here’s what she said in the Beeston Express, Friday 15th October, 2010:

“Returning to Parliament this week, I was met in my office by a rather shell-shocked Parliamentary Assistant bearing a pile of 300 cards from constituents urging me to oppose the proposed sell-off of the Royal Mail”

I know that in the House it’s against protocol to accuse someone of fibbing, so I shall give her the benefit of the doubt, and instead assume she has memory issues. In which case I urge her to stand down immediately and force a by-election as we deserve better. Soubry: she just doesn’t deliver.