Welcome to Dick's Blog

Sticking up for the little guys...

Friday, 1 February 2013

Pony sales plummet as austerity measures reach Chipping Norton set

Angry residents of the Cotswold town of Chipping Norton have voiced their concerns to David Cameron that the Government’s austerity measures are having a direct effect on their children’s welfare.
In a letter to the Chipping Norton News one fuming parent detailed the trauma that her 10 year old daughter experienced after being told that mummy and daddy could not afford to buy her a new pony. ‘It has been absolute hell,’ she explained. ‘Little India hasn’t come out of her room for days after upturning the scullery table and cremating her teddy bear in the Aga. Thank God she’s got an ensuite.’
‘Other parents I have spoken to at our monthly Supper Clubs are experiencing the same issues. Hyperventilation, bruises to the feet following extreme stamping and fainting fits are affecting the health of vulnerable children across the county. It’s getting just like the Third World.’
There is evidence too that pony breeders and Gymkhana event organisers are feeling the pinch as a result of parental cut-backs. ‘In the run up to Christmas 2012 I’d already sold 12 Shetlands, 6 Welsh Ponies and 3 Grade Horses. This year I’m still left with 13 Ponies and now the only interest I’m getting is from the French and Tesco,’ said breeder Steve Braithwaite from Cheltenham. ‘Local charities are really suffering too with the annual Gymkhana getting hardly any sponsorship this year, even from Waitrose or Holland & Barrett.’
Other businesses have also reported a downturn in sales. Marjorie Sinclair-Smythe who runs True Blue Gifts in Charlbury said, ‘Things have got extremely tense lately, as a matter of fact I’ve had to take all of my Thelwell horse and pony merchandise out of the window as children are breaking down as they pass by. Last week someone even posted a steaming lump of horse turd through the letter box which really was the final straw.’
A shortage of social workers in the area has exacerbated the problem with parents forced to employ extra nannies, to deal with anger management issues and to wear saddles and harnesses when required.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

16. Dick moves on

Hi, I'm Richard Everyman but people call me Dick

It's been a while since my last report so please forgive the lack of information.  My last mission required that I infiltrate several organisations to look for evidence of the Big Society.  I'm obviously not at liberty to say where I've been as this will remain top secret for the next fifty years, so don't forget to come back and check - I suggest putting a reminder in your mobile or iPod calendar.

Anyway, you obviously want to hear about my findings.  Have I found the Big Society?  In a word - I've had absolutely no luck at all, okay so that was seven. 
The Eggheads urged me to go out into the world...

My mentors, the Eggheads urged me to go out into the world, so taking their advice I have been in touch with lot's of ordinary people who, for one reason or another are struggling together either against oppression or other common causes.  I needed to find out if they fitted into the Big Society or if they believed that it existed at all.  But as soon as I felt I had the right answers my dreams filled me with fresh doubt.  The dream that I call "The Institution" is one that recurs many times, taunting me and teasing me with its promise to reveal the secret of the Big Society.

It is always the same dream - the institution looms before me and I am unaware of what horror awaits me. Who or what lies behind its doors? I think I see a face at the window and I want to turn back but a strange force urges me to go inside...
a strange force urges me to go inside......
The corridors are long and foreboding and I think I hear the cry of poor unfortunate souls.  I am unsure whether they belong to the living or to the ghosts of residents past. I can only imagine what deprivation and suffering they experienced between these walls and how long they spent in incarceration.  I see no one, but behind closed doors I here faint mutterings and whimpers and occasionally a heart stopping cackle. 

I comfort myself that someone, somewhere will have the answers as I drift through the endless labyrinth, hoping that the Big Society has taken care of or is in the process of helping those that may be left...

And then I see the answer to my prayers - at last someone who will have the answers!

I see the answer to my prayers

This is Dick Everyman signing out.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

15. Dick the Hack

Hello I'm Richard Everyman but people call me Dick

My new job as a hack is going well, thanks to my visit to the Job Centre.  I've got a lot of competition from ex-News of the World hacks but hey, I'm an ex fighter pilot so I can lick anyone.

I'm still in search of the Big Society and hope to uncover it through my pages.  With your help we might discover it together.

Anyway, down to the nitty gritty - I'm releasing some stuff here that's been overlooked by my editor so hope you enjoy the private view.

I take a look at a new novel, 'Rebekah' an update of Daphne du Maurier's classic - Rebecca.....

"Last night I dreamt I went to Wapping again" is the opening line of ‘Rebekah’, the long awaited update to Daphne du Maurier’s novel ‘Rebecca’. In the story, ‘Rebekah’ recollects her past, telling the story of her rise and fall.
After meeting a wealthy Australian, Rupe de Murdoch she agrees to work for him, and accompanies him to his mansion, the beautiful News of the World HQ in Wapping.
But, Rupe’s daughter, Lizzy ‘Danvers’ de Murdoch tries to undermine her, suggesting that she will never retain the urbanity and charm of the Newspaper. Whenever she attempts to make changes, Lizzy describes the demise of former editors. Rebekah carries on regardless.
But she commits one faux pas after another, becoming convinced that Rupe regrets his impetuous decision to employ her and is too deeply in love with his empire to care about her. The climax occurs at the Newspaper’s annual dinner. Lizzy manipulates her into crimping and dyeing her hair red after showing her a picture of Mick Hucknall who, unknown to her, Rupe hates with a passion.
Then, in the early morning hours, a media storm that had been building over the Wapping estate leads to an absolute 'train wreck'. Hugo Grunt, an actor who had been researching the work of the Newspaper for a role in ‘Milly Dowler’s Diary’ uncovers Rebekah’s ruthless hacking.
Lizzy then reveals her contempt for Rebekah by encouraging her to commit suicide by jumping into a paper shredder, but is thwarted at the last moment by a knock on the door by the Metropolitan Police.
Rupe confesses the truth. How his concern for his flagship newspaper is nothing but a sham; how from the very first days of his take over, he loathed it. It was a cruel and selfish rag that believed it was the voice of the people and a paragon of virtue. In a violent rage he tries to axe it to death and dump it down a sewer.
But it refuses to die as devoted editors resurface in an attempt to tarnish him.
Then the newspaper is revealed to have been suffering from a cancerous condition and would have expired within a few months anyway. Rupe suddenly feels a great sense of foreboding and insists on driving through the night to return to Wapping. However, before he comes in sight of his empire, he sees a red glow on the horizon, Rebeka’s fiery red hair lit by camera wielding paparazzi as she is led away in handcuffs.
With Rebekah imprisoned Rupe and Lizzy return to foreign exile.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

14. Dick and the Dancer

Hi, I'm Richard Everyman but people call me Dick
As the bus made its way into the heart of the city I was struck by the dilapidation of the buildings along the way. There were closed shops with sad facades, relics of a more prosperous past. I recognised the spot where the West End Bazaar had once stood, where Billy and his sister bought their catapults and pea shooters on their way to the park. Now, in its place was a boarded up café and above it a sign which read 'Beryl Bites'. The apostrophe 's' on Beryl had long been removed.

Some of the empty buildings had been cleverly disguised with bright posters depicting happy traders. There was a fat butcher brandishing a joint of meat, a greengrocer holding a cucumber and a bunch of bananas and a barber grinning menacingly like Sweeny Todd behind his next client. "Why" I thought, "would people come here to shop if the shops weren't selling anything except a vision of what they could be selling if they were open?"
The bus stopped and I stood up. I let the young lady go before me, to demonstrate to the driver that he had not cornered the market on chivalry. She smiled in thanks and as we stepped off the bus I asked her if she could tell me where the job centre was.
"It's just across the road mate," she said pointing a long red talon in the direction of an ugly sixties edifice "what are you then, an army boy?"
The fact that I was wearing a blue uniform obviously escaped her so, not wanting to go into a long explanation I said I'd signed out of the forces and was now hoping to sign up to the Big Society.
"Well, bloody good luck mate. My last fella was in the Paras, he did Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, came back, got kicked out by his missus, couldn't find a job, started doing crack, then he found God and now he's a youth leader in Peckham."
"Wow, that's quite a CV." I said. "What about you? What do you do for a living?"
She leaned her head forward then swung it back to let her black hair sweep over her shoulders. "I'm a pole dancer mainly but I do a bit of lap dancing as well." She took a long drag on her cigarette.
I had not detected a Scandinavian accent but I was impressed all the same that an old English tradition had found its way north of the Arctic Circle. It brought back memories of our village fairs. The Maypole festooned with silken ribbons as dancers and musicians celebrated the blossoming Spring and of Billy tying his sister so tightly to the pole that she passed out.
As her fag end fell at my feet I asked, "Is there much of a call for dancing around poles? I'd have thought it was a very seasonal occupation."
"No mate. It's all year round. Here, take one of my cards, you'll have to come along." She rooted about in her clutch bag and gave me a small piece of card. "Good luck with the job hunting"
She turned on her stilettos and skipped across the pavement into the Pound Shop. I looked at her card. It was glossy and black with a photograph of a shiny piece of scaffolding pole from which was hanging a gravity defying and half naked old slapper. It read 'The Black Mamba Club'.
As I placed the card in my pocket I couldn't help feeling a tinge of sadness. I suppose that traditions have to evolve over time but I'm not sure that my grandmother would have been dancing for joy around that pole, at least not before a stiff gin and tonic and with a team of paramedics on hand.
This is Dick Everyman signing out.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

13. Dick goes to town

Hi, I'm Richard Everyman but people call me Dick

Patch and I considered what the Eggheads had said about using all the resources available to make our way in the Big Society.  "I think it's time to explore, " I said to him "I mean we've both been through a pretty rough patch Patch, all considered."
After he'd stopped licking his scrotum he gave me his full attention.  "What do you suggest then?"
"I think we should head straight for the city and see what's on offer."
Patch flopped down in his basket with a sigh. "Do you mind if I stay put, I'm all beat up?"
It was true he looked a little tired and so I agreed he should stay at home.  I was however slightly concerned that this could become a habit and I'd be left holding the baby or puppy or whatever the term was when talking about a lazy mutt.
I hopped on the bus...

And so I hopped on the bus and headed for the bright lights.

I was astounded at the price of a one way ticket for a two mile journey.  I politely informed the driver that in the old days £1.80 would have bought me a night out at the Odeon, a bag of fish and chips on the way home and I'd still have change for a bottle of sterilised milk in the morning. He just shrugged his shoulders and jolted the bus forward so that the inertia sent me flying down the centre aisle towards my very expensive seat.  I had not experienced such a G-force since my happier Harrier jet days.  Not bad for a clunky old diesel engine though I thought.

As people got on I could see that the white haired ones weren't putting any money in the slot.  Instead they had some kind of pass which they waved in front of the driver who ignored them before trying out his G-force experiment again to help them to their seats. At the next stop a very attractive young lady in a mini skirt mounted the step.  She smiled and paid her fare.  The driver smiled back and said hello before turning around in his seat to make sure she had found somewhere comfortable to take the weight off her stilettos.  Once she was firmly seated he smiled at her again before moving gently forward and we continued into the city.  Fares had risen but chivalry at least was not dead.

I looked around at my silent fellow travellers and detected a kind of sadness.  They all looked like they wanted to be somewhere else and not on the number 11.  Perhaps they were on a quest for a better life or maybe they were just going shopping? Whatever had caused them to mount this joy-mobile I did not know, but I for one could hardly wait to get off to find out more about the Big Society.

This is Dick Everyman signing out.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

12. Dick, the terrorist and a deaf dog

Hi I'm Richard Everyman but people call me Dick.

With their new found brain power the Eggheads kept me awake all night with their excited chatter.  They didn't wake Patch though, being half deaf he had devised a way of sleeping on his good ear to block out any intrusive noises.  In short he was a pretty useless watch dog but his companionship made up for all his other faults.  I switched on the radio and heard something about a massive international terrorist being killed and how the world was now going to be a safer place.  If society had to depend on Patch then they could forget that notion I thought.  But I was intrigued all the same.

I asked the Eggheads about him and they filled me in on all the gory details.  After a good half hour's chat 44 Lupin Drive had never felt so safe and Billy Boulton was a real pussy cat in comparison to the mass murdering terrorist they told me about.  The Eggheads then went on about democracy and freedom and the way in which a thing called 'social media' was uniting people and communities around the world and causing them to challenge their leaders to change society.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind
They spoke of a man called Mahatma Gandhi who used a campaign of non violence to finally win his country's independence until he was himself assassinated by people who believed in armed struggle.

He once said "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind" which made me think about the man they had just killed.  "Social media" said the Eggheads, "lets the world see everything and nothing at the same time..."

I pondered for a while and thought of poor Patch, "Being half deaf," I responded "means you have to listen harder too." 

I thanked the Eggheads for their wisdom and made myself a comforting cup of tea and some toast.  Was this what the Big Society is all about then?  I was confused, it was one thing bringing down governments and fighting tyrants but becoming a volunteer for the Women's Institute was quite another thing in my book unless perhaps they had an armed wing?

This is Dick Everyman signing out...

Friday, 29 April 2011

11. The Eggheads get their brains together

Hi, I'm Richard Everyman but people call me Dick

The farm was now behind us...
The farm was now behind us, but the road back home proved a hard one.  Yvette always said that before you embark on any journey you need to choose your travelling companions very carefully.  She was right.  Patch stopped to sniff at every tree along the route remarking on all the scents he came across.  "Huh, Snicker's been here, he's a chocolate labrador.  He lives over at Long Lake so don't know what business he's got around here.."  and so he went on and on.  But his own foxy smell was becoming more pungent and I told him he'd have to have a hose down if he was to meet the Eggheads. 

"I haven't had a bath in two years!  If this is the way of the Big Society I don't want any part of it."  He was adamant.  But so was I.  "Look Patch.  You either smarten up your act or you go back to the old shack.  I want us to have a clean start so think about it.  Just because you're down it doesn't mean you have to be out as well."  The closer we got to the house the more he started to come around to the idea of a good soak.

And so after a short while we were back at Lupin Drive where Patch dutifully stood under the hose pipe for his spring clean.  After a hearty shake he accompanied me into the kitchen where the Eggheads gave a cheer at the site of their new eggs. 

"Welcome back Dick!"  They said as I introduced them to my new companion. 
"This is Patch, he's an unemployed sheepdog, and disabled too as he's only got one ear."  The Eggheads looked at him with a great deal of sympathy.  I carried on filling their empty crowns as he returned their gaze and said, "I don't consider myself disabled, I mean I don't walk on my ear do I?"

As I put the final egg in place the surge of brain power was almost tangible.  They muttered amongst themselves then said excitedly, "Patch, you will need to learn how to use the system."
"System?  What system?" he asked.

Dick crowns the last Egghead
"The system that is in place to support all members of society be they black, white, gay or straight, old, young, able bodied or disabled."
Patch scratched his head.  "Well I'm certainly black and white but my sexual preferences are definitely not open for discussion."
I stepped in, sensing a long debate.  "You don't have to tick every box Patch.  Just one from the list of criteria will do.  They are just saying that all men, and dogs are equal."
He relaxed slightly and seemed satisfied with my explanation. 

"Well that's all right then, all things being equal." 
The Eggheads breathed a collective sigh of relief and continued.
"You must learn about these criteria.  These are the tools of the Big Society and so your disability may be a blessing in disguise."
I liked their reasoning. "So tell me Eggheads, where do we start?  How do we unlock the secrets of the Big Society?"
"Get out there and explore. Use the system and all of its resources and soon you will reveal the bigger picture."
A wave of excitement passed through me.  My quest was now underway.  Like Professor Cox I was on the verge of understanding a new system, a brave new world lay ahead of me, and Patch.  Soon I would discover the Big Society in all of its magnificent glory.
"Thank you Eggheads, thank you for your wisdom."

This is Dick Everyman signing out.