235 bus rises from the ashes again
Thursday was a long day. I had to go up to Stockport to meet with the people behind Fair For You, the new alternative to high cost weekly payment stores. I had been introduced by local resident Tom Levitt, the chair of the Fair For You charity and I wanted to meet the people who run the business day-to-day and understand how they fit with Credit Unions and how we can work with them. A fantastic day, very dynamic people who are so determined to help people get out from under crazily overpriced hire deals for white goods and furniture (so far – more later). A little problem they have encountered is people buying huge American fridges because they cost less than a modest European one from ‘the competition’ and then finding they can’t fit them through their doorway! We concluded that Fair for You should be working hard to develop their very new business and credit unions like ours should do our best to support them. Technically they are competition but as we have about 1000 members out of a catchment area of nearly 1 million, the market for ethical lending isn’t exactly saturated!
In the evening to Brentford’s Brilliant Holiday Inn for a Sadiq Khan fundraiser organised by MPs Ruth Cadbury and Seema Malhotra. As I mentioned last week us rich Labourites really push the boat out and I paid £5 for a strip of raffle tickets. Wonder of wonders, I won a prize, no less than a Sadiq Khan for mayor mug, signed by our hero. Swoon.
Friday was mainly catching up with emails etc then our weekly canvass. We were supposed to do Whitestile Road but there’s nothing worse than soggy canvass sheets so we went off to do a couple of our trusty towers instead. We love doing the towers, nice people, stunning views, and all the stairs are downhill.
On Saturday I went to the open day at Johnson’s Island artists (I’m far from an art buff, but there as some pictures there that take my breath away) and Town Wharf, yet another tucked away little houseboat place. Just lovely, and the trick is going to be how to preserve the spirit and beauty of all this when the Ballymore development finally materialises and this secret Brentford gets exposed to the light. It seems to me imperative that we find a way to embrace it, not only to protect the community that lives there but also to lend some character and charm to our town centre.
Sunday, more canvassing, this time up in Chestnut Avenue and the Garths, North of the A4 and then a training from the Big Bad Regional organiser about how to manage polling day which is now getting very close. What will I do with myself after all this is over? Oh yeah, it’s the EU referendum next so that’ll keep me off the streets. I mean on the streets.
On Monday morning weird and unlikely rumours begin to circulate. Has the pollution on the A4 suddenly mutated into hallucinogens? Has the world gone quietly mad from watching too many Scandinavian dramas? Has the 1st April had a rerun? No it seems… Myra texts me so someone eminent is affected… surely it cannot be so…. but it is. The 235 is risen from the dead. Let’s hope it last a bit longer this time, or one of the 8 solutions I have provided to TfL will be implemented if it dies once more.
Monday evening is free, so for once Mel and I can accept the invitation from the Friends of St Paul’s Rec to attend their meeting at The Griffin. Discussions about outdoor gyms (RIP), restoration of various features and potential events for the summer. Good people working to improve their local park and working together very well. Afterwards Mel made his excuses and left but I was enticed by wicked persons into that den of vice called the Griffin Bar, there to imbibe heavily of fine ales and porters etc which are offered to an unsuspecting public. My progress down Brook Road South and across Ealing Road for my ritual inspection of the ridiculous parking on the Haverfield Estate was a touch on the wobbly side but my epic journey home was completed without a major incident.
Tuesday finds me out in the sticks again at the quarterly meeting of the six credit unions who work with the same back office provider. The parallel with The Godfather’s meeting of the five families has been rather shot in the foot by the addition of a sixth family – Herts Savers Credit Union - and CEO Don Tomlinone omits to make us any offers we can’t refuse. So we’ll all muddle on, each credit union making modest progress. In the evening I was supposed to go to an economics seminar up in far north London. Since Google maps said it would take 2 hours by public transport but only 40 mins by car I made a dreadful mistake, suffered a satnav malfunction, experienced the fun of the North Circular in the rush hour (taking me back to 15 years working in Hemel Hempstead) and gave up in disgust. I could have been the next John Maynard Keynes, but fate intervened.
Wednesday I was out of town again, quite the explorer, in Cambridgeshire meeting my sisters, then back for a blitz on postal voters who should have received their ballots (but it turns out many haven’t as yet). Thursday the latest in the series of discussions about Lampton 360 and the new arrangements we are gradually developing for major developments and planned repairs to the council housing stock. Mel is in a good mood because his long standing (pardon the pun) problem with his feet is improving. After the meeting we go across to seek out the head of transport. He sees us coming across the office and tries to hide under the desk: he knows we will be talking Haverfield. But too late: the two intrepid councillors track him down like a pride of lions and trap him in his lair. Claiming he is late for a meeting, he sees our gimlet eyes and slavering teeth and decides he’d better talk to us. Seriously, it’s great to have a head of transport who actually listens and does his level best to come up with solutions and I think we’ll get there, though it may take a while yet.
April 22, 2016