Friday, 27 March 2009
I read an interesting article in the Gazette this week about some geezer from London who came to Colchester to encourage local businesses to register for work for the 2012 Olympics in Stratford. I'll try for some of that, I thought, so I signed onto the website and filled in me details. What could my company do? How big are we? How many employees? Now I am getting a bit wiser with age nowadays and I know you don't get owt for nowt. Slowly it dawned on me that I was being drawn into a PC world of tree hugger paradise. They never ask those sort of questions at the beginning, just like they never put the fruit and veg at the other end of the supermarket. The questions started to veer away from my company's field of expertise. They wanted to know how many women we employed. How many women in managerial positions? Do we have any lesbians or gays or bi-sexuals and various other categories that me mum never told me about. Do we have any atheists, jainists, buddhists, moslems, and various other categories. Do we employ disabled people, old people, young people, etc? Have we got a health and safety policy, an equal opportunities policy, how many millions worth of insurance, etc? I answered as best I could, not really knowing or wishing to know the sexual or religious proclivities of my employees (but having a fair idea) and completed the questionnaire. On clicking the final button to send my application on its way, I was instantly informed that my company did not meet their requirements as we didn't operate an equal opportunities policy (or something like that) - apparently! Well! I have to put my hand up to simply wanting to know whether potential employees can do the ?*&$? job and that their references are up to scratch. This came to me at a similar time to that when I had learned from one of my fellow business colleagues that they had won a contract from a Spanish firm to provide equipment for the Olympics. Said Spanish company clearly had inflated their bid to allow sufficient profit in the job to sub-contract it to a British firm! So, who needs the Olympics anyway?
I took time off work yesterday to attend a Colchester2020 meeting at the new football stadium at Cuckoo Farm. It was the first time that I had visited and the place is impressive. If only the VAFiasco had run as smoothly in its realisation. So anyway, the great and good of Colchester were there to put Colchester to rights. They entered the bubble at the door and found themselves transformed into a world where anything is possible, money no object. The ideas flowed and kept flowing. I attended a group session that was entitled 'Transport'. The group comprised council employees, borough councillors, a county councillor, public transport lobbyists, car drivers, local authority workers - and a smattering of business owners. The only bloke who made any sense to me was the businessman who commented that traffic congestion and high parking charges are driving people away from Colchester. He was a voice in the wilderness as we listened to various car drivers who complained about traffic jams, seemingly oblivious to the fact that it is they, themselves, who cause the jams. Another moaned about the inconvenience of the traffic associated with school chucking out time. All we need, apparently, is less cars on the road, 4 lanes through North Station Road roundabout, a monorail from Mile End into town, a travelator along High Street. Then the bus users complained about the infrequency and unreliability of buses and the lack of a bus station, again, seemingly oblivious to the fact that buses are provided by private companies who respond to demand. No passengers, no money coming in, no profit, goodbye. I sat there, with a view of the car filled car park, that also had one motorcycle and two bicycles, having been told about Colchester2020's Carbon Emission plans. No. It was too much for me. I don't do 'head in the sand'. Whilst I would have enjoyed lunch at the borough's expense, I felt that my time would be better spent at work, doing something useful. I left the cosy comfort of the feel good bubble and out into the real world headed for the office - on two wheels!
My lady and I went to the Mercury Theatre last night to see Blonde Bombshells. This has to be one of the most enjoyable performances that we have seen at the Mercury. The place was packed. We have also enjoyed several other performances there recently: Richard Digence, Brilliant Baroque, Just a Song at Twilight, The Lifesavers, Fascinating Aida, etc. If it is one thing that Colchester does well it is its theatre. Long may they escape the long knives of those who are responsible for bringing so much upset to our town, the destruction of roadside flower beds being just one of the latest instances. Oh well! We have tickets for Tony Benn next week. That should be interesting!