Friday, 21 October 2016

The Friday Joke - 21/10/2016 - France vs USA

An American and a Frenchman have both recently become widowed. They both book a cruise and end up sharing a dining table. Both are still greiving, but being competetive, their conversation inevitably becomes competetive. We will call them Donald and Francoise for the purposes of the joke.

Francoise - I miss my wife, every morning we would walk down to the cafe, share a shot of espresso and a cigarette.

Donald - I miss my wife, she had great boobs, I spent $10,000 at the finest cosmetic surgeon making them perfect.

Francoise  - Yes, I miss my wife, she was chic and she always looked a million dollars, even when she was was washing the dishes

Donald - Yes, I spent a million dollars on my wife and hired a maid so she didn't have to wash the dishes!

Francoise - Oh, I miss my wife so much she was a great cook, every meal was like a banquet, she could take the cheapest cuts of meat, vegetables from our garden and make the finest dinner. She could always get the best wine at the best price.

Donald - Yes, I miss the banquets I shared with my wife, I hired her a cook and a somelier and we ate only the finest cuts and the best vegetables from the supermarket.

Francoise - Oh I miss my wife so much, she tended our garden and it was ablaze with the most beautiful flowers and the tastiest vegetables.

Donald - I hired the finest gardener for my wife and we bought only the best plants from the finest nursery in the state of New York. Our Garden was the finest in the state.

Francoise - Oh I miss my wife, every year we would drive to the South of France for the summer holiday. We would stay in a lovely Gite that was very cheap and very good, it was beautiful. My wife would drive me everywhere, so I could enjoy the wine and she could watch her figure.

Donald - I hired a chauffer for my wife and we used to stay at the finest hotels. I paid for liposuction for my wife every year so she could keep her figure.

Francoise - But most of all I miss my wife because we made love every night, she would spare nothing to please and satisfy me. There is nothing in life, better than a beautiful woman who loves you and wants to make you happy.

Donald -  Do you play golf?

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Barnet Eye 8th Birthday Party back story - The Origins of The False Dots part I & II

A page from my scrapbook
Intro - There have been two major things (apart from friends and family) in my life that I have great pride in. One is my music and the other is my blog. My blog is clearly documented here. My music is documented in a far more fragmented manner in my scrapbook and various press cuttings, blogs, videos and articles. I am in the process of writing a screenplay of the early days of the band, up to our chaotic first gig. The way bands get together is the most interesting bit. Once they have settled down, it all gets a bit dull. Anyway, I thought that as the band and the blog collide tomorrow night as we play at the Barnet Eye 8th Birthday Party, I'd share a bit of the story of the origin of the band with you. This is the story of 1979 and 1980, recorded verbatim in my scrapbook, this is the world through the eyes of a 16-17 year old Rog T, when my band really was the most important thing in my life (the brackets are my added notes from today).

1979 - The Beginning - A lesson in how you can never know what is really happening.

Line up R.M Tichborne  Guitar, Dave Edwards, Mandy Spokes Guitar then vocals, Pete Conway - the Cadillac Kid Bass/vocals

Formed to this line up 14th February 1979. Most of the songs were 3 chord thrashes with highly political lyrics. This line up never gigged. Dave was thrown through a shop window in August 1979 and the band only rehearesed twice more before splitting up (Sep 3rd 1979). Sole claim to fame is an interview with fanzine Xpert i which came out in October 1979. The set consisted of The Mill Hill Song, Power Game, Never Free, Factory, Political Warning, Wrong, Bone, I wanna be loved (Heartbreakers cover), Wild Thing (Troggs Cover), Bonjour Mon Chere (Plastic Bertrand pisstake), Johnny B. Goode (Chuck Berry Cover), Rockabilly Guy (Polecats Cover), Live Fast Die Young, No Confidence.

(Rogs Note - Interesting to note the covers, mostly these were an unambitious collection that were easy to play. Apart from Bonjour Monsiour (which was a Pete Conway Special), we have performed all of them at various times with subsequent line ups as set fillers, when we had long shows to perform. We never performed any of originals, mostly because they were rubbish. The page is also littered with nasty comments about ex band members scrawled on after the acrimony of the break up. I wince at a few of them).

1980 - First go at Stardom - it's amazing how your future becomes your past.

After the non achievement of 1979 Pete and Roger and a girl drummer called Deb (in truth recruited because Pete fancied her) decided to resuscitate the band. The first rehearsal was Jan 1st 1980. That line up lasted four rehearsals until Debs left for personal reasons (yep, you can probably guess). Lou, a girl singer then joined. Paul Marvin (son of Shadows Guitarist Hank) then joined as drummer. That line up lasted a couple of months. First we sacked Lou for not turning up to rehearsals thenw e sacked Paul Marvin for not being a good drummer. Dav (a brilliant session drummer, mate of Alan Warner of the Foundations) stepped in to replace him for a studio session in June and stayed till Christmas. Pete Conway was sacked in September for not turning up to rehearsals. Paul Hircombe (who had joined as lead guitar when Paul Marvin was in the band, but this wasn't recorded, they were mates at Moat Mount School) took over bass while Craig (Withecombe) joined on Lead/Rythm guitar. The band rehearsed a few times but then we got offered a gig at Harwood Hall (The Union Church in Mill Hill. This was actually a lie, I set the gig up to try and keep the band together). We decided to do it. We asked Pete (Conway) to rejoin as vocalist for the gig. He never turned up and we had to play reading songs from bits of paper during a couple, but we got a good reaction and in the end were O.K.


There is so much more that went on. I hadn't read that for probably 30 odd years, it is amazing how far the band came. The actual gig was perhaps one of the greatest triumphs of my life. Not because it was any good, I suspect we were pretty dire, but we got carried through on a wave of energy and I think we cobbled together a good show. The local press did a write up and put a picture up, which gave us some profile. Paul Hircombe, Craig and Dav were actually great musicians. What I hadn't said was that Pete and myself had really worked hard on the song writing in 1980. The set was really strong and although I was a rubbish guitarist, the songs had really strong riffs. Craig was able to pull these together and Dav and Paul made us sound like a proper band. At the time, I felt an incredible sense of betrayal at members who didn't turn up for rehearsals and gigs. Paul Hircombe played with the band until shortly before his death from cancer in 2012. I think we've become a great unit. I fell out pretty badly with Craig when he eventually left in 1983. I'd love to catch up with him and have a jam some time, maybe even rerecord a couple of the numbers from that period. I'd also love to know what happened to Dav. He moved back to Shrewesbury and I never knew his surname.


Please come down to The Chandos Arms tomorrow at 8pm for the Barnet Eye party and to see how the band has evolved. It should be fun.

Wise and foolish

'Beware of the Jester, for he sees us as we really are'. I can't remember where I read that but it is a quote that has served me well. If I've ever been in a difficult situation, I've learned that humour can be a great tool.

But the recent 'killer clown' craze has highlighted just how dangerous a mask can be, perhaps more dangerous than a gun or a knife. With an offensive weapon someone may injure or kill you, but with ill intent masked behind a phoney smile, they can gain your trust, turn friends against you,  destroy you and leave you in the gutter.

I was pondering these thoughts as I read the reports of the final US presidential race. It is clear by now that Trump is a clown. Any vestiges of being a serious politician have evaporated. His braggart tendencies and wild exxagerations have long since ceased to be funny. If I were a Republican, I would be distraught. I believe Hillary is a poor candidate. She may well be a good President, as she is clever, serious and tough, but she is a lousy campaigner. A decent republican would have beaten her.

The difficult truth for the Republican Party is that when we stopped laughing, the mask dropped and we saw what Trump really is. Democracy may have its flaws, but at least we get some sort of say. It is looking ever more likely that Trump will flounce off, defeated and discredited. The Republicans deserve to lose badly. It may make them wake up to the fact that a devisive candidate cannot win.

Trump is likely to also damage campaigns in the senate and House of Representatives. It is possible Clinton will be in the strongest position of any President in living memory. For the sake of democracy, let's just hope that the US parties learn the lessons and we move on to a more sane and rational phase of the political cycle.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Outsourcing and consultants at Barnet Council - spiralling out of control

Since the mass outsourcing started Barnet Council Agency/Consultancy spend has been accelerating out of control from £7,732, 269 in 2012 to a scary £17,907, 052 in 2016.

In the last quarter they have spent £6.9 million, if they carry on there is a high risk that the Council could go over £20 million on agency/consultancy spend.

Just to give a flavour of where the money is being spent, Commissioning service headcount is 170 and their agency spend Quarter 1 16/17 is £1,013,000 compared with Family Services headcount is 638 and their agency spend Quarter 1 16/17 is £1, 782,000.
The other day at the Environment Committee a couple of residents begged the committee to save a partially sighted/blind bowling club from closure over what was a pitiful amount of money. We truly have a Tale of Two Barnets. One set of rules for the multi millionaire consultantcies, another rule for those of us who need a partially sighted bowling club to bring a little joy into their lives. 

The details of the council spending is detailed here -

In the pre Capita days, Barnet Council had a plausible argument that council staff were leaving and it was difficult to recruit with staff likely to be made redundant once Capita took over. Now we have had Capita in place for three years, a steady state should have been reached. In some meetings when challenged, they have been shroud waving saying it is all because they can’t recruit social workers but by analysing the detailed Comensura figures which they publish separately, not within the monthly expenditure, it proves that the problem is much more widespread and that is confirmed in the latest DPR. The total agency and interim spend since 2010 to July 2016 is £83.4 million.

Anyone who has ever run a business or worked in a management position (or even on the shop floor) knows that short term agency staff can never replace qualified and experienced staff. Such staff should only be used to plug short term problems or if there are specific projects, where there will be no jobs at the end of the project. Agency staff are more expensive and generally have less experience than full time employees. I would be interested to know just how many of these consultants were formerly Barnet Council staff, who were given large, tax payer funded redundancy packages, only to be re-employed at inflated contract rates soon after. We all have a vested interest in this because we pay the bills. 

(Many thanks to John Burgess, Derek Dishman and John Dix for input & figures supplied in this blog).