On the road.

We went to Opera in The Park, which was brilliant, and had me in tears when they opened with O Fortuna! from Carmina Burana. Much as I complain at times about Leeds Shitty Council wasting money, I think there are worse things they could spend some Culture Budget on than free concerts for 50 000 people.

But for us, this was anything but free. Not because of the somewhat excessive amount of money we spent on perry, sparkling wine cocktails and antipasti in Aldi, but because to get there cost us over £20.

We did, admittedly get a taxi there. Which cost us £9.40, plus a tip for waiting in traffic jams for ages. This was because we were running slightly late, and getting in at half past five, getting changes and into town for seven is not something that First Leeds seem to think is reasonable. In any case, the bus into town would have been £3.40 and the buss to the event £5 for us both (day riders not being valid on special services). So not much saving on a taxi.

We got the event bus home, for a further £5  and then, because although the 56 bus is supposed to run up until 2am throughout the year, once the students have gone home it quite plainly does not, seeming because non-student residents of Hyde Park and Headingley are not considered to have a life, we got  a taxi from town. Another £3.

Unlike most events we were not hustled out of the arena before the last strains of the music had even faded, and were actually encouraged to stay for a period because of the congestion in the car parks. This being understandable when 50 000 people are trying to get out of the same place very fast.

I often comment about people who seem surgically welded to their cars, but certainly in this city (and much of the UK) the public transport system does not do a lot to discourage this. Though they always fire-hose us with adverts about how many cars taking the bus will take off the road.

Private cars are useful, fun and (for those who are unable to create any identity in any other way) are important for some peoples street cred. But they are also an incredibly wasteful and polluting form of transport. I am not going to go all greeny on you and rattle on about carbon and global warming, in part because although I think there is some validity in the science, there is also a certain amount of spin to detract from REAL environmental issues. But, for one thing, reserves of oil are NOT unlimited: this is basic common sense. And for another, if you have ever walked down Headingley Lane in the morning and found it hard to breathe you will know what I mean.

But we have a bus service which is, quite frankly shit.

The buses are irregular, costly (though First Buses makes a huge profit), the drivers are rude, and they are permanently filled with little scrotes acting like cunts, which the driver does nothing about.

I remember one occasion when after waiting 45 minutes for a service which is supposed to be ‘every ten minutes or less’ I asked the driver if there were problems with the service that would affect my onward journey. I was told to ‘shut the fuck up and get on the bus’. Charming, by any standards. I have mentioned the somewhat early hour that the services stop. And the price.

It is not uncommon in the morning to wait for a bus and have three drive past full. Leeds is apparently the largest city in Europe to have no mass transit system. OK, that is a fairly useless statistic, but it certainly makes the point. Millions was spent on planning the Supertram which was then scrapped (though why they decided to try and put the first one up to Headingley which would have meant ripping up a load of beautiful buildings and half the side of Meanwood Valley I don’t know).

Something needs to be done. I would personally advocate an underground – this seems in many peoples eyes to be something that is only done in large cities, though it seems there is a plan for an outer London underground circular. Why not here? Deep-level tunnelling will not fuck up the last remaining green spaces. Berlin manages a 24 hour service on the U-Bahn. OK, I am slightly obsessed with the Underground in London, but something does need doing. Or we will all just live even more in our cars.


Evolution of sense

I am concerned.  Concerned about the basic life skills of some people in Hyde Park at the moment…

Spatial awareness is something that normally is acquired by the age of about 8. I don’t know if there is some new thalidomide like drug reaction that has damaged the parietal lobes of a whole generation, or perhaps some trend in baby bonnets that has created pressure on the brain.

It seems to me, to be a sensible thought that when one is trying to get into an enclosed space, it it quite helpful to let those already in there get out first. This has the effect of creating more space for you to get in. This is something that over 100 or so years of micro-evolution most Londoners have finally learned in relation to the Tube. I am thus hopeful that in time that talent will evolve in the users of Stop and Save.

Another issue would appear to be malappreciation of width, of pavements and stairways. Pavements in particular seems one that we would hope some natural selection will soon resolve, as walking four abreast, particularly if very slowly, tends to result in the dirtying of those lovely Ugg boots, when someone treads on your heels.

This is also a potential problem with door-ways. Whilst Leeds has some magnificent internal architecture on some of its buildings, stopping suddenly to marvel at this has quite a negative effect on the general flow of movement. If you really wan’t to stand and gawp at the ceiling, why not come and do it at a less busy time of day. This again makes things much easier for everyone concerned. The same goes for sitting on stairs gossiping, emptying the entire contents of your handbag out on the stairs, or standing around talking on your mobile.

We now move onto human machine interactions, this being a key strand in the evolution of the human race. Cars are one of the most common machines that we need to use, along with busses. Cars are quite bulky and need particularly developed spatial acuity to manage.  If you drive a car from up in Headingley to the vicinity of the University and dump your car in a stupid place it makes it harder to manage the matter of not blocking the pavement. The more astute will make the connection that if you then intend to get the bus the remaining 150 yards, this becomes a bigger problem as the bus cannot get up the street.

Of course, spatial awareness is only the beginning. I agree that it is normally about 16 when this skill develops – the effect of your actions of other people.

At some point, you really must learn about full time employment, and how that involves some people getting up at 7am, which can make them a little fractious if you have been making a ridiculous racket with your monkey noises until 4am. However you will learn that it also can make local residents a little annoyed if the night afterwards (whatever the situation with your hangover) you bang loudly on the wall when they are trying to have a shag.

Also important is that some people do have other things to do than wait in a gigantic queue behind you in Sainsburys and Stop and Save while you attempt to pay for a frozen pizza on a succession of cards all of which are declined. Giggling and trying to then find lots of change to cover your purchase is also likely to become quite irritating.

Advanced students and those with a particular interest in the Social Sciences will be able to discuss the meaning of the contested term “community” and how it is defined as something more than a geographical area. This will look at networks, and how their application can mean that local residents are allowed to stumble around the Kit-Kat shop with a can of Special Brew in their hand, because “exceptions can be made for certain customers”. This will also explain the reason why however much you would like to define Hyde Park as “a student area”, wearing a ridiculous “LS6” hoodie for the reason that you think it looks trendy does not make you a local so and only succeeds in making you look like a twat.

Making a Pigs Ear of it all…

I have swine ‘flu. So I am told, from the very thorough medical examination I underwent from some idiot on the end of the phone.  I have to say this is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Not because I get to spend a week in bed, alternately sleeping and complaining on facebook. But because if this is how the country manages in the ‘early stages’ of this supposed pandemic, I am really glad that I will hopefully be immune when the real thing kicks off…

This all started on Friday, when Aimee was sent home from work, having collapsed and become very poorly. Though, to be fair, I have felt worse from various other respiritory illnesses this is quite a bummer of a disease, not least because it seems to go in waves and one point you are sat there thinking ‘am I imagining all of this, have I succumbed to the media hype?’ and the next minute it hits you like a jack-hammer and you feel shite.

Anyway, Aimee phoned the helpline.  First they ascertained that she was not unconscious – ‘hold on, I’ll check… “Can you hear me? What is your name?” Slap, Slap… Oh my god I’m unconscious I’m in a tunnel and there’s a beautiful light at the end… Wham! Oh, no hold on I’m not unconscious…’

After a few questions she was duly  diagnosed. It turns out the nearest place to pick up Tamiflu is Seacroft. An hour each way on the bus. And only open office hours in the week, and 11-4 on Saturdays. I always said that I was not going to take the latest wonderdrug, as I am normally quite anti this sledge-hammer medicating of the masses. But I did ask the helpline what would be the procedure if I subsequently became ill, and we had problems finding someone who would take the morning off work to trek to the arse-end of chav-town to pick me up some drugs.

Despite the fact that anyone with even GCSE science could probably work out that even with the utmost hygiene the chances of my becoming ill and then not really wanting to have to trek across Leeds again were quite high, one cannot get any drugs in case. One suggestion was that I should ‘quarantine my girlfreind’. Bet you’re single love, ain’t you. The next was that whoever was feeling the least ill should go…

Now I thought, that becuase the illness is actually quite mild, the general dosing of the population (conspiracies about drug companies notwithstanding) was to keep people indoors and try and prevent the spread as this variant was one that most people have no resistance to. I was tempted to do this: ‘Oh yes, this batch is for me, Atischoo, oh, do excuse me, sorry did I splatter you…” But I persisted. After the helpline, NHS Direct, and my GP’s Out of Hours Service had all given contradictory information I gave up.

I went to Seacroft. Honestly, the place was like fucking Fort-Knox. Security at each end of the corridor. I was told to go to the end and speak to the nurse. Putting one foot too far over the yellow line resulted in a barked ‘Wait there!’.

You will recall that you can get this drug just by phoning and telling them you have a list of symptoms which you could, if you so chose, just recite of the website. Yet they seem to think that I am likely to be about to storm the doors and steal mine. Maybe it’s the leather jacket, that makes me dodgy it seems.

OK, I know there is quite a black market trade in Tamiflu, but it all seems a bit daft to me.

I did ask why one has to trek out to Seacroft, and they can’t set something up at LGI. It seems one of the main problems is parking. So (despite the fuck-off multi-story attached to the hospital) those of us who don’t drive have to trek miles on the bus because those who are surgically melded to their cars can’t be trusted to park nicely. Typical.

Anyway… Sure enough at some point on Sunday my temperature shot up to god knows what and I started feeling like I’d filled my system with scopolamine or some other vile poison. I called the helpline on Monday and then the hospital and informed them that they would be deliveing me some drugs. They did so.

After all this I decided that I probably would give it a go, also on the advice of the one medical professional I actually trust, who reminded me how ill pneumonia makes me. I think it’s helped, but at some points I actually wish I was feeling worse, so I could just sleep and not go through this I feel OK, no I feel like death would be a release, oh I feel OK again business…

One thing I will say from this. Don’t take shite from them. Challenge them, and don’t let them assume that you can expect your mates to disrupt their lives ‘cos the PCT has decided that the only place they will hold drugs is miles away. Everyone’s joining groups about I love the NHS… Hmmm. It’s better than most, but cut the fucking bureaucracy and it would be 20 times better…

Mr Nobody…

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

This must have been presented in every company around the world. It’s in our resources room, not that it seems to help the mess. It’s old, but it’s very clever. And it’s very much how I feel about LS6 at the moment.

It’s been a tense year, following on from the Hessle’s Party last summer, which was a bit of a blow for the relationship between students and locals in Hyde Park. No one can deny that it was a major fuck up, on the part of those present, and West Yorkshire Police, and the Local Authority. Now the wounds have healed, and half those who were up in arms have calmed, I think one of the biggest impacts of this, and this is down, I’m afraid to the police and their reaction to this event, is that many of the student population are feeling got at.

I reckon they have a point, though as ever when one presents oneself as this homogeneous subculture, one has to accept being tarred with the same brush as that subculture’s worst elements. This is ignored by the main demagogues of this viewpoint – Pete Beckett in Leeds Student Recently being one of these, who in trying to get his tiny mind round the issue sadly makes himself out to be a fool.

From his opening paragraph about “much needed student accommodation” he proves little grasp of figures, issues, or indeed reality. I found his article interesting, but when someone claims there to be a “need” for a service which exists with a huge surplus (around 3000 student bedspaces in Leeds surplus) one wonders if this is journalistic license, or lack of business accumen. I have not checked his figures for the supposed increase in economy The Univerity brings to Leeds (he does not cite sources, so his academic integrity seems lacking too), but whether the mulit-million facelift to Leeds is as he claims student funded or not he misses the issue by a mile. Those of us who live in the day to day grind of LS6 do not benefit much from this.

We see an inaccessible housing market, as even if we could afford the landlord inflated prices, converting what were once decent properties back from soulless HMOs will cost the purchase price of the house. We see the price of a drink skyrocket as each new bar milks the bottomless wallets of the overpaid clerical workers employed by the finacial services industries who have supposedly moved to Leeds because of it’s student workforce. Sure, business if brought to LS6: for the takeaways and convenience stores run by Asian businessmen who have had the sense (or opportunity) to ship out of Hyde Park to the suburbs. Oh yes, businesses are happy to take the student pound, when it’s flashed about by the rich kids from the south (few students in Leeds grew up here). But they’re not local, and not making money for the local people who apparently should be “on their knees in gratitude”. The gentrification so often attributed to studentification is not apparent in Hyde Park.

Anyway, I digress with that rant, but quite a lot of local long term residents are feeling somewhat got at too. And why? Because denying (in the face of all evidence) that something may be an issue related to students, because you feel got at, or because of the supposed benefits is going to do nothing.

Lets backtrack to the end of May, that lovely summers day when Hyde Park got totally trashed. It looked like a warzone, everything burned, rubbish everywhere. The reports are here if you want them.

So, as is pretty much the norm these days a facebook group was started – Clean up Hyde Park. Brilliant, we thought, some people (who let’s remember were probably not the ones responsible for the mess) taking some ownership. However, look at the posts. Instead of making sensible suggestions, much of the posts are bitching.

“Maybe it would help if the council emptied the fucking bins…” Well, aside from the fact they do, and provide 2 huge skips, which do tend to get full, that does fuck all about rubbish left on the grass. And no, lack of bins does not give one the right to leave the rubbish elsewhere. Just because there is a dispute does not mean you can ignore the problem.

Or the other one – “Why is it being blamed on students?”. So we’re back to the feeling got at now. Well, take of the paranoia specs, and you will notice that no-one is saying that no local long term residents, or non students are responsible. They are. But the population of Headingley is 61% student – maybe more now. So by simple mathematics, a good two thirds of the people on the park would be students.  Not withstanding the fact that if no students were responsible, no students were on the park as they were all revising (as stated by some folk on the facebook group, then the entire 18-30 population of Headingley would need to have been there.

OK, so this is rough and ready maths, it is a fair point that plenty of people from outside of LS6 use the park, but the general point is that anyone can easily formulate an argument that it is always someone else… And that is all that people are doing rather than trying to address the actual problem.

Here we have it again: “Student’s not to blame” these letters say. OK that is the YEP’s title for the page, and I fully agree with the sentiment that the media should perhaps be a bit more balanced on this one, as expressed in the first letter, but here it is again, a declaration evident in both letters that it is not students who a responsible, backed up it seems by the idea that no local residents could be seen doing anything to help, and once again, the skips were full.

Obviously whilst we cannot tell a student at ten paces in order to assess if it is student who is making a mess, students can tell a local, to assess whether it is a local “doing anything proactive”. Unfortunately last time I tried to do something proactive about people making a mess, all I got for my troubles was abuse.

But this is not the point, the point is that over and over again people just throw blame around.

And of course this is endemic with the people whose (one could say) job it actually is: This letter sums it up, the council blame the police, the police blame the park wardens. Though of course here we have a person acting like the own the place after living here 6 months, “long aware” of the notices that are at the entrance of the park… …though for not very long. The other side, throwing blame when they don’t really know what they are talking about.

Lets go forward to the normal end of year move-out. Despite excellent ideas from the University Union, there was still the standard mess at the end of the tenancy period

The residents of 19 Thornville Terrace are certainly students. At least ——- —– (I can’t be so cruel as to post her name) must be from the many details of her name, course, pitiful grades, bank account and underwear size that were evident all over the binyard. I had to spend a good half an hour of my time cleaning up enough to get in the binyard to put my own rubbish out. I wish I was an identity thief, or the kind of perv who gets off on sniffing women’s underwear, I’d have had a field day. Amusingly I got a pretty comprehensive collection of camping gear, abandoned by someone who obviously decided that now they has graduated they were too old for festivals. Good thing too that I removed and made safe the venting gaz stove dumped in the recyling bin.

I mentioned this to Mr Singh, the Landlord. His somewhat predictable response was that it was the tenants responsibility. I pointed out they had left, and he said I should not have cleaned up, but I should have called the council. Obviously Mr Singh has some secret hotline that gets the binmen out on a Sunday evening. I brought up the fact that if his tenants had left the garden of a house in a mess he would clean it and deduct it from their deposits. He said the binyards were up the the tenants. Odd this as he can get fined for waste in gardens, whereas binyards are shared, and from past experience all the tenants get a threat of enforcement action, even if it is flytipped…

Once again, it is up to someone else…

Of course by Monday morning all the mess I’d cleared up had been strewn all over again. I called environmental enforcement, they told me to call waste management. I called waste management they said it was my responsibility. Eventually they said they would contact the Headingley Streetscene manager for the student clean up and he would be able to arrange for it to be cleared before Friday.

It’s always some one else’s responsibility. This is the issue. It does not matter one shit whether a problem is student related. What matters is that all of us stop bickering and try and find a solution.

I’m sure plenty of people will read this and get the notion that I’m getting at students too. This is not the aim, though I’m sure some of the more petulant will take it that way. I moved to LS6 because of the place it was, and a lot of that was a thriving scene that owed a lot to the creativity and energy of many of the students living here. But people took responsibility. I remember soundsystem parties on Hyde Park – a great one in about 1998 or so when we bullshitted the Jesus Army into running us a power line for the soundsystem. But the park didn’t get trashed. People had respect for the land, the people around them and each other. We didn’t need enforcement orders, DPPOs (as we are soon gonna have banning drinking, possibly including the park), PCSOs and so on. OK, things got out of hand from time to time, but there was not the continuous war going on, or at least not since the Newlands.

And this makes me sad, as I am coming to the time where I am wanting to move from an area I have lived in and loved most of my adult life.

Leeds Biggest Wets…

Ahh.. The joys of summer. Waterfights, fun ain’t they… Except this one, it seems, was a bit of a fuck up.

Ok, I will expect that the thousands of pounds worth of damage might be an exaggeration, though lots of people don’t really get that mature plants don’t appear from no-where, and that pumping fountains full of foam might just fuck up the soil…

To be honest I’m slightly ambivalent about the damage to public property business, I mean I don’t like Leeds to look like a shit-hole, but Millennium Square is kind of “pretty” anyway, unlike much of Hyde Park, the difference being that Millennium Square brings in tourists, and hence money, and so gets more money spent on making it nice. Anyway…

…what I don’t quite understand is the naivety and down right selfish stupidity of some of the babies whining of facebook…

Don’t get me wrong. I’d love a big waterfight. I’m all for flashmob type actions to piss people off. But common sense needs to prevail…

For a start, it seems like people realised that it might be a problem having all the staging still there from the gig the night before the organiser (who apprently is not an organiser because although he calls himself one sometimes the event is not organised) thought it would be fine to carry on and cram it all into the gardens.

But then…

Last year the event went well. Approximately 300 people showed up and had an amazing time in the hot weather without causing any damage to the gardens. The police were present and happy with the event.

This year was organised in exactly the same way. Unfortunately a combination of circumstance beyond the organisers control (the square being closed off) and the actions of a small minority of people, has resulted in some very minor mess and damage to the gardens.

You sit and go on that “a few idiots” turned up and caused damage etc… How surprising with the thing advertised all over facebook. What fucking idiots.

Where were people who would step in and address these “few idiots”. Oh no one saw anything. Of course not.

When you realised the square was blocked of would not the commonsense idea be to rearrange for a more appropriate place or time?

Take the blame like adults. If you organise something and it goes wrong you are responsible. Period.

If, of course, no-one organised anything, ‘cos you think you can claim to have some cutesy little kowtow to the idea of anarchy or something, then everyone who took part shares responsibility. With “social anarchy” (as someone was loving it all with on the Wall) comes social responsibility. Look at the Reclaim the Streets Demo’s in Leeds in the 90s. They had some element of collective responsibility to them. And so they worked. Might have lost some money for the big businesses, but didn’t fuck things up for the man on the street.

But lo and behold, nobody is taking responsibility.

at the end of the day everyone involved with the water fight were there to have fun, none of us went out of our way to damage any of the plants, and to be honest i didn’t see anyone purposfully damaging anything. :/

Anyone else think that’s kinda irrelevant. The fact that you all had fun does not mean a monkeys arse.

For fucks sake stop whining that you’re hard done to and face the music. Then events (and it is an event and this group owner organised it) like this may have some credibility and not be a bunch of kids whining that they’re in trouble…

Running this kind of event takes brains and responsibility. Obviously most of you have neither.

Shame, ‘cos it’s a good idea, which could have be fun. I love the ethos of the event. But like barbecues on the park, sound systems in the streets and so and so on stupidity and lack of common bleeding sense means that controls on what we can and cannot do will just get tighter…

Yummy Tummies

Ended up watching that How to Look Good Naked thing last night…

This concerned me a little. The girl concerned had quite a sexy body (particularly the boobs), though it took the whole program for him to do something about the lank hair, and the vacuous tone of voice is probably beyond hope…

Anyway, what concerned me was this…

He spent the whole program telling her she had a yummy tummy, (this being the issue she was worried about), and we see shots of her buying sexy undies (good effort, ‘cos the ones she showed up in were fairly dire), yet half the time he is sculpting her clothes-sense he has her trussed up in some kind of flesh covered girdle. I mean this is not Bridget Jones and her “hello mummy” pants. OK I like curves and it would take quite a size of tummy to put me off someone when I saw them naked. But if I undressed someone and found them strapped up like a burns victim I’d run a fucking mile.

So much of fashion for “larger ladies”, at least in stupid programs like this seems to be hiding their shape and trying to look as skinny as the rest of them. Bah, I say.


Panic Stations… House prices are falling. Well kinda – they dropped this month and they’re only 1.1% higher than this time last year.

You’d think this signified the end of the world sometimes. Now, I fully admit that sometimes it galls me that had I had the nous to buy a house 10 years ago, I could have afforded one on my paltry salary (about £8.5k) that is where I live now and would be worth a 6 figure sum… And I do have some sympathy for people who have bought a house that may soon worth less than the remaining debt on it. Though that happens with computers… housing is a funny thing that is supposed to rise in value.

Yeh. Rather than a place to live, a house is this big investment that is supposed to make you richer. Ok, it might me good if you can make a bit of a return on your bachelor pad when you get wed and start dropping sprogs and need some space for them.

But houses are seen as a thing to make cash.

My main gripe is that I don’t have one. Not ‘cos I want to make it rich. Not even ‘cos I want to stop paying the rent to the pocket of a landlord – after all if you get a mortgage, a fair part of what you pay makes some banker rich, and I’d prefer it to go to the little old lady who owns my house (even if I suspect she was rich enough to pay for it cash…)

But I would like to be able to paint the walls whatever colour I want, convert the loft knowing I have the security to make it worth it, and not have the permanent worry that the landlady might peg it when I have no reserves for a deposit, or the 7.5 tonner it’ll take to move all my crap…

Sadly though I’d need to scrape aide a fair whack of cash and be earning twice what I do to even consider getting a mortgage on a 2 bed back to back in Leeds.

Of course the government has a little plan to try and ease this problem.

Well 2000 of them. If they are “key workers”, or social tenants. Key workers should be paid more. Period. We all should really, but if a nurse or a teacher can’t afford to live somewhere they should be being paid more. Its not fucking rocket science. But what about me..? I’m not a key worker. Nor a social tenant.

There was a time I could have been (and hence still be), when Leeds had slightly less of a housing crisis that it does now, a social tenant. I chose not to be, mainly because I didn’t need to. I got by. Now do I suffer for that mistake?

That still kinda disturbs me though… ‘cos like the “Right to Buy” fiasco they’ll all end up making a profit for these poor beleaguered key workers.

There is a “urgent need to build more homes”, the article above says. No Shit Sherlock. At the end of the day we are overcrowded, that’s why we need more homes, but there’s no palatable solution for that, it just strays into disgenics.

But where are they going to go? There’s loads of space in cities, but they are all second homes for rich folk who want a city pad and still kick up a stink when a lap-dancing club opens next door. And who owns them? If they are privately owned then they follow the same rise in price and become out of reach to many unless you earn a packet and/or are prepared for uber-debt. Are they state owned…? Association owned…? The last is bearable, but they they will be full to the brim from the very poor. Which is fine, but it’s us in the middle-low-skivvy bracket that suffer then.

I’m caught between the devil and the deep on my views here. I think I would like to own a home, but don’t want to get into the big money nonsense that goes with it. Neither do I subscribe to some watered down socialism of state or housing association properties.

Why can’t everyone have the house they need – no more, no less? Note I don’t say own. They should be owned, but not owned that you can sell them to make money. Owned in that they are yours, no one can take them away or tell you that you can’t paint the walls sky-blue-pink with yellow dots on. But not an extension of your bank account.

Oh… ‘cos that’s the sort of thing some free-thinking anarchist might think.