Better late than never after a busy week
And so it came to pass, a week (nearly) in my old home city with my Labour party chums. But first, just to build up the excitement, it was the audit committee. I would love to give you a comprehensive report but a) it would probably put you to sleep and b) it would probably put me to sleep. Suffice to say that KPMG gave us a clean bill of health. I was hoping the meeting would be over quickly so I could get to the Floreat school/Layton Road presentation but no such luck and the meeting was actually interrupted by Councillor Melvin coming in and demanding his taxi as the planning presentation finished first.
On Friday I drove up to my old home village in the Wirral peninsula. When I was a boy people used to swim off the beach there but today they would have to walk for about a mile across boggy grassland before they found the water. Even worse, I went into my old local where all the same people used to prop up the bar 45 years ago and not one of them was in. Worse still, instead of 2 bob for a pint of bitter they wanted £3 something. Outrageous.
I was due to attend Jeremy Corbyn’s recoronation event on Saturday morning but the logistics went all crazy. First of all the hotel told me I didn’t have a booking (very welcome news, not), then I had to queue for about an hour for my credentials. A bit galling as I had my invite in my hot little hand. Anyway, I missed it but the hotel eventually admitted to my booking.
I found Liverpool depressing: down by the river there has been a lot of investment - modern hotels, museum, conference centre, shopping mall etc as well as refurbished old dock buildings and all very nice. But the grand old city centre with its Georgian and Victorian buildings looks terribly run down. I was shocked to see that Lewis’s, a huge department store which was once part of the Selfridges group (and had a nude statue which proved it was bigger than Owen Owen’s) is now derelict and the streets are full of homeless people sleeping in doorways, far more than I’ve ever seen in London. The Adelphi, where I stayed, used to be Liverpool’s answer to the Savoy, all grand ballrooms and marble and rich Americans off the liners, but hasn’t had a coat of paint since the Queen Elizabeth was at the Pier Head.
So to conference. Very vibrant, hundreds (thousands?) of people, loads of stalls from the Guide Dogs charity to the Government of Gibraltar, and speeches and policies and passion and votes. No hint of trouble though despite people having been worried and it felt a lot like a party coming together after recent traumas. It’s quite gratifying that Teresa May seems intent on helping us by appointing hopeless ministers who are making the country a laughing stock abroad (one of them has passable Latin though, I hear). And coming up with crazy policies which everybody who has ever thought about it – including half the parliamentary Conservative Party - know don’t work (yes, Ms Grammar School, I’m thinking of you). It’s quite helpful for an opposition to be reminded just why we need to get this lot out before they wreck the whole joint.
It’s quite frantic, with 10 or more fringe meetings to choose from all the way from 8 in the morning to 10 at night and the old hands (and the old gits) know you have to pace yourself. My favourite evening was focussed on the performing arts… lubricated by some free beer in ‘The Beatles Experience’ replica of the cavern club complete with replica Beatles playing all those old songs live. They wear silly pretend suits and ultra-silly wigs. Various people in their sixties and seventies, who you might think would know better, perform socialist karaoke, bopping around whilst murdering old classics but fortunately inaudible due to the loudness of ‘George’s guitar, etc. Of course, I could never be tempted into such indecorous behaviour, as I am sure readers will be all too aware.
I had assumed it would all wind down on Wed morning so had arranged to visit Manchester on Credit Union business in the afternoon, which meant I missed the leader’s speech, which seemed to be excellent and certainly went down well.
Back to Brilliant late on Wed evening when I feel an odd vibration in my ridiculous old car and realise a tyre has gone. So I hobble to the excellent Carrera Worx (well the service is excellent, the name and the sign can therefore be forgiven) to spend a ridiculous amount of money on a new tyre on Thursday morning. So it’s to the Civic Centre by bus for a meeting with the Lampton 360 planned maintenance team – joined on this occasion by Mary Harpley, the LBH CEO, so we are most honoured. Councillor Mulhotra (of whom more later) turns up in a baseball cap and I tell him he looks like Lieutenant Hunter out of Hill Street Blues but has forgotten his pipe. Despite this remark, he is so very kind to transport Mel and myself to Boston Manor Road which is severely not in his direction. We are therefore in time to meet Hounslow Highways, Mike from the Boston Manor Residents’ Association, Councillor Commoner Savin and her previously eminent pooch. We wander BMR, The Ride, Clitherow Road, Windmill etc and run into various residents who in their habitual way raise issues!
Mel and I then catch 2 buses up to Popes Lane in the border country. We alight from the bus warily but it seems on this occasion the natives of Ealing are not revolting so we proceed to the house where a lady owner and sundry builders etc explain why we should urge the planners to approve her extensions.
Call from Carrera, so I can drive to the Civic for a meeting of the pension panel. It transpires that Chairman Mukesh Mulhotra, who had already told me of his Hindu and Sikh heritage, is also a Scotsman. I inform him he will henceforth be known as Malcolm McHotra but I’m not sure he’s impressed. Genghis is his usual cantankerous self, asking the bankers/fund managers awkward questions, poor lambs, but we get through the agenda.
October 2, 2016