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Sunday, 01 October 2006
Bluemeanie on TV

bluemeanie on News 24

I have re-edited this entry because I had problems loading the video. First I loaded it to Google video because at just over 11 minutes it is over the 10 minute limit imposed by YouTube. After some problems there, I split the video into two parts and loaded it into YouTube. The first time I did so, I lost the sound of Part I, so had to redo it.  Anyway, the background to the issue is that Ofsted released a report into how the subject of Citizenship is being taught at schools in the UK:

One in four secondary schools in England is failing to offer pupils adequate lessons in citizenship, the education watchdog has warned.

Most citizenship teachers were non-specialists working “far from their normal comfort zone”, inspectors said.

They said guidelines for schools must be less ambiguous.

Citizenship became compulsory for pupils aged 11 to 16 in September 2002, but inspectors said only a minority of schools taught it “with enthusiasm”.

They had worked hard to make citizenship a key part of their curriculum.

“Others, also a minority, have done very little,” the report said.

See article: Citizenship lessons ‘inadequate’ (BBC).

Anyway, on Thursday night a taxi came and whisked bluemeanie off into London where she appeared on a panel discussion on the BBC News 24 channel, discussing the Ofsted report. Here is the excerpt. The first bit is the background piece (just over 4 minutes long).  The second part is the actual panel discussion on the item (Just over 9.5 minutes).

Part I: Teaching of Citizenship at Schools

Part II: Panel Discussion on this

Posted by bigblue on 01/10/2006 at 10:22 AM
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Indian Deli in Hounslow

Indian Deli in Hounslow

Ten years ago I lived in Cape Town and used to frequent a simple and inexpensive (good value) restaurant in Sea Point at least once a week, called Little Bombay. If I remember correctly, the owners of the restaurant had immigrated from Kenya (or somewhere else in East Africa). The prices were so reasonable I used to wonder how they made a living.  At the time Sea Point (once the epicentre of Cape Town’s restaurant and nightlife scene) was experiencing a bad patch due to the commercial and retail development of the harbour and the shift in the night scene to this new area.  This article from 1998 talks about the impact on Sea Point of the changing economic and social situation in Cape Town at that time, and even mentions Little Bombay (as having recently closed its doors).

I thought of Little Bombay on Friday night: of its excellent quality menu, of the cheap prices, of the formica tables and plastic chairs, of the gaudi plastic decorations, of the Hindu calendars and ornaments on the walls, of the elderly uncle who worked as a waiter and gave me detailed instructions on how to properly eat a Thali. The elderly uncle of the early years was later replaced by two young neices, who were better at customer relations (they never gave me instructions on how to eat my food). I thought of little Bombay because my colleague Ragu took me to his local vegetarian restaurant in Hounslow, The Indian Deli.  Lacking the tackiness of Little Bombay, the Indian Deli has the same excellent good-quality food and friendly service. Raghav told me that the owners of the restaurant are from Sri Lanka, having come to the United Kingdom as refugees.

I sampled the masala dosa while Rags had a buffet meal. We shared two desserts: both were sweet and creamy.

Posted by bigblue on 01/10/2006 at 07:24 AM
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Saturday, 30 September 2006
Oxted Parking - Nursery Road

Oxted Nursery Road

This photograph is the one that triggered the unpleasant incident with the man with yobbish tendencies. I took it in Nursery Way in Oxted. As a private road it does not appear on all maps (e.g. Streetmap) but it is visible on Google Earth), and I wonder if the friendly parking attendants will be able to enforce the private parking regulations on this road. If there is money to be generated in issuing parking tickets then I am sure that the answer is yes.

As I took this photograph I felt quite sorry for the motorists who had parked there. I had discovered that there was no parking available in the designated spaces in the town centre as they were all full. When the man came and suggested he would kick my teeth in, my compassion faded: I saw the immediate benefits of a zero tolerance approach to crime. Prosecute the bastards for parking on yellow lines, before they move onto more serious crimes, like kicking teeth!

On a more serious note, I was concerned that down this private road is a nursery school. If there was any urgent incident the car of the man with yobbish tendencies would potentially be blocking access by the emergencies services: fire department, ambulance, etc.

Posted by bigblue on 30/09/2006 at 08:19 AM
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Oxted parking - Station Road East

Oxted Station Road East

This photograph shows 3 delivery vehicles and 2 cars parking contrary to parking regulations in Station Road East.  Shortly after I took the photograph a third car pulled into the space behind the white truck to make it 3-3.  When I took the photographs I had been hoping to see (and speak with) the local parking attendants at work. However they were only due to start the following day (28 September 2006).  Perhaps scenes like this are already a thing of the past.

It’s a wacky suggestion - but another way to alleviate the problem might be to provide more loading bays and parking spaces. If they ever get around to dismantling the unused gas cylinder, that might provide space for a few cars, or a multi-story garage.  Another suggestion would be to pedestrianise the high street, plant trees down the centre, and a cycle lane down one side.  I’m not sure what the traffic impact would be on the surrounding (residential) streets though, especially as it would probably mean reducing the total amount of parking available. Some space could be reserved for short-stay parking, taxis and loading bays.

Posted by bigblue on 30/09/2006 at 07:55 AM
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Oxted Parking - Delivery II

delivery van in Oxted

This is the delivery van blocking half of the high street (Station Road East) in Oxted a day before local parking attendants arrive on the scene to enforce parking regulations. It seems as if the new local supermarket has a loading area round the back, but many of the existing shops rely on the ability of their suppliers to flout the parking regulations.

Meanwhile I remain to be convinced that the presence of “friendly attendants” will solve the underlying problem of parking - a shortage of space for customers and businesses.

Posted by bigblue on 30/09/2006 at 07:47 AM
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Oxted Parking - Delivery I

Delivery vehicle in Oxted

Not only is there a shortage of parking in Oxted, there is a shortage of loading zones too. Here we see a delivery to the shop Cook obstructing traffic for over half an hour as the delivery van parks on a yellow line, within a few metres of an intersection, and facing on-coming traffic.

This photo was taken at about 11am on the day before local parking enforcement was due to come into effect. I would like to go back sometime and ask the friendly parking attendants where a delivery van is supposed to park if there is no loading zone, and where a shopper is supposed to park when the parking areas are all full?  Perhaps the answer to the second part of the question lies in enforcing parking time limits - those things that stipulate you can only park for one hour, and may not return within one hour between 8:30 am and 6:30 pm from Monday through Saturday.

parking sign

Posted by bigblue on 30/09/2006 at 07:19 AM
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Oxted Parking - New shop site

Oxted Sainsburys Local

After my little rant the other day I decided to investigate the parking problem in Oxted, as I mentioned yesterday.  First up, above, is the to-be site of the new Sainsbury’s Local in Oxted. It was sweet of our local counciller to welcome them back with these words:

My wife and I have been living in the area for years so we can remember the first Sainsbury’s.

I imagine this one will be welcomed as it is a small store and I would have thought that would be very convenient for older people living on Beatrice Road. So it will be good for them, and good for the retail trade in Oxted.

I doubt a shop that size can survive just off the custom of Beatrice Road, so clients from further afield will need somewhere to park.  On the (weekday) morning that I did this investigation the public parking areas in Alice and Johnsdale Roads were full, as were all the marked bays up and down Station Road East (the high street).  My photo even shows a car parked illegally in the bus stop.

Posted by bigblue on 30/09/2006 at 06:59 AM
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Friday, 29 September 2006
Stranger Danger

stranger danger

Earlier this week this man swore at me (the f word) and threatened to kick me in the teeth. He later denied it. His daughter then arrived, and also denied it. He threatened to call the police to report me for taking photographs (in which he and his wife appeared) in a public place. He accussed me of taking a photograph of his (grown) daughter (which wasn’t true) and suggested I might be a paedophile, adding that there was a nursery school around the corner (!). He said I must be a stranger, not from around these parts, which is an ironic accusation from a man who is is part of a multi-ethnic family. He asked me to hand over the film in my camera and seemed surprised when I told him there was no film in the camera (welcome to the digital age - ask your daughter to explain).  For about 15 minutes a very polite bystander tried to explain the law of taking photographs in public places to this aggressive individual.  It didn’t sink in - clearly the man with yobbish tendencies (and his family) believed that they enjoyed the rights of privacy that celebrities expect when on private property. The polite bystander left, after suggesting to me that I wasn’t doing my own case any good. Other bystanders suggested to me that the problem might go away if I left.  I did leave, after taking a close up photograph of the man’s car.

stranger car

So how did I not do my own cause any good? I didn’t shout back at this individual, accuse him of any crime, or threaten him with violence. I simply refused to give him any explanation for what I was doing.  He had come at me shouting and threatening me, and I therefore felt I didn’t owe him any explanation whatsoever. In fact I had popped out to pick up a prescription from the chemist and was taking some photographs of the parking situation in Oxted town centre. (See upcoming post/posts). I wonder if the fact that this man was parked illegally, and partially blocking access to the childcare nursery (e.g. for emergency services), had anything to do with his unpleasant and aggresive behaviour?

Posted by bigblue on 29/09/2006 at 07:24 AM
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