How are you all? OK I hope - Life has been busy here......constantly busy with what feels like no let up at all.
In the last few weeks we've painted the inside of the summer house - now you would think that it was a straight forward job wouldn't you?......Oh no it wasn't - for a start off it took 4 coats of that Cuprinol wood paint and I know that it is a large summer house, 10ft by 12ft but it felt like we were painting forever!
We brought one of those new spray and brush things that are being advertised by Cuprinol on the TV - thinking that it would make the job easier but it didn't - if you were thinking of buying one (at a cost of £30!) don't bother - save your pennies and just buy a good brush and resign yourself to the hours that it's going to take you to paint something.
The summer house is my craft room - I've got a large table in there and a shelf and storage unit and 2 very comfortable easy chairs so I thought I would make myself some curtains for the room - now it's been a few years since I last made any curtains but when did curtain material go so expensive? its a ridiculous price now. I couldn't find anything in Dunhelm for less than £9.00 per metre and there's nowhere else that sells material round here. I went round all the charity shops to see if I could find any curtains that I liked that I could unpick but nothing so I resorted to buying some fabric off ebay and that was £6.00 per metre! and it is awful stuff. I've only got the door curtains to do now and I shall be sooo pleased when they're finished.
I can remember the days when I could go to Birmingham's Rag Market and buy curtain fabric for £2.00 a metre and it was brilliant stuff - those days are long gone!
Returning to my days as a Housing ASB Team Leader - we very often had to deal with other agencies mostly the police and social services. I found them to be 'adequate' sorry but I can only speak as I find and that is the best that I can describe both agencies. I'm sure that there are some good coppers and social workers out there, but I was never fortunate to come across them.
Mind, I'm sure that there are social workers out there who thought that I was only 'adequate' as an Housing Officer. I had one on the phone one day insisting that I found her the keys to a bungalow, as her client was bed blocking in hospital and refused to leave until he had a bungalow to move into. I explained to her that we had no bungalows available any where in our area, would her client consider a ground floor flat (could find one of them at the drop of a hat) but she just stamped her foot and said 'No, I've got to have the keys to a bungalow' so I said to her 'look my dear, what don't you understand about the words (and now I got quite loud) we do not have any available!) She finished the call with 'well, it's your fault he's bed blocking' I put the phone down Ian looked at me and said 'heres one word to describe her? Thick! I said 'dead right Ian, dead right.
The police were as bigger crooks as some of our customers were. We had a family of drug dealers in one of our blocks of flats, the pushers used to turn up for the drugs between 4pm and 7pm every day and during that time period you could sit and watch the CCTV camera on the communal doors and there would be someone buzzing to be let in every 90 seconds - that's how much they were supplying to the pushers. We told the police, got them there to watch the cameras, provided them with a door fob so that they could get into the building without them suspecting and guess what - they raided that flat 3 times and each time they did a raid - there were no drugs in the property...........of course there wasn't a copper on the take, warning them when they were going to be raided was there? How absolutely cynical of me to think that. The Police didn't even pull in any of the pushers.
That block of flats had such a bad drug problem - this was back in about 2005 and we'd had reports that people were shooting up in the stair wells - not pleasant for someone to come across when they were going up to their property, so we installed a covert camera, panning onto one of the favourite stairwells - in those days you had to sit and view the footage yourself each day, if it was in your working area, (now its viewed in 'live time' by a trained operator) that's when I saw the worst thing that I think I'll ever see on a small screen - a couple with a young child probably about 10 months old, had been to the above flat and then gone onto the stairwell - the baby was secured in it's pushchair, and they both sat on the top step and shot up - they were then both out of it and then the baby started to cry and cry - it was a horrible situation to witness, the baby's cries echoed through the multi storey stairwell, it was the middle of winter and the wind was blowing through the building and nobody went to the little mite to comfort it. We didn't know who the couple were or where they'd come from and as we viewed the footage a day after it was recorded, so the footage was a day old - there was just nothing that we could do for the little poor soul - it was a horrible to sit and watch.
Then there was the time that a flat was broken into - it had obviously been a cannabis factory and whoever had broken in had stolen the plants and had taken them back to their own flat to finish cultivating them - trouble was though the leaves of the cannabis plants had fallen off in the move and had left a clear trail from the one flat across to the other! We called the police - here they had the opportunity to nab 2 offenders but guess what? they didn't have anyone available to call out - it was left to H to go out and video the trail of leaves from the one flat to the other so that we at least could take action to remove both parties from their tenancies. That complaint went to the top and they finally got their act together and came out a day later.
I always got on much better with the PCSO's - they were the ones patrolling the patch - they knew who the trouble makers were and they would help us with info on our customers when we needed it - The police officers would expect you to provide info on residents but always failed to work with us to help us when we needed info, so to my mind the PCSO's were more helpful.
Now I'm afraid that I'm not a big believer in University education - I can understand people going when they're doing something like medicine or science or engineering but sometimes young people go for the silliest of reasons and all their doing is running up a load of debt. I used to have a lad who worked in my last team doing all the environmental work and he had a degree in drama.......what use is that to anyone? When a maggot filled fly tip job came in, he used to go out with the other lads and roll his sleeves up and graft to shift it and I used to think what use is that piece of paper and debt round your neck to you now. My sons ex girlfriend went for photography.........erm excuse me - point and click???!!!
The council that I worked for had always had money problems and so employed a lot of young people with university decrees, especially in social services, because they were starting out, they were cheap - now to my mind a social worker needs to have backbone, common sense by the bucketful, and above all else not be afraid to say 'No that's not right - you're not doing that'. Something a young girl straight out of university has little of.
There was a case recently where a young girl was starved to death by her Mother and fancy bloke, in Birmingham. Social services had been to the door but weren't allowed in - so they left without seeing the young girl and she died - now if that was me I would have said 'Sorry dear but if you don't let me come in now - I'll be back with a van load of police officers and we won't stop to knock your door we'll just come through it - now are you going to let me in?' and if they hadn't let me in then I wouldn't have rested until I had gone back and got access to see the child - there are some things that you just don't walk away from. Pity those social workers didn't have the same approach - that poor girl may have been alive today if they had.
I was taught never to trust a social worker and every interaction that I ever had with one was recorded in writing and put on the file and a copy sent to social services by recorded delivery - I had to visit a block of flats where it had been reported that a young girl who only lived with her 18 month old son could be heard screaming at him 'you stupid paki bastard' time and time again.
H and myself made it a habit of at least twice a day, one of us would go to the flats and stand there in the communal area, outside her door for 10 minutes and just listen to see what we could hear. Lo and behold I was there one day and heard her scream it at him. I got in touch with social services and asked them to call out as I was concerned for the child, I also got in touch with the woman's Doctor and Health Visitor and followed through by recording my request in writing and sending them out - It took this young girl in social services 2 weeks to get out there (the Health Visitor was much quicker) and then she came back with a pathetic 'Oh it's just the way she speaks to him' I said to her but she is screaming at him, telling him he is a paki bastard - that's not right or acceptable' and this silly girl said 'its just how she is'
I gave up and said ok, on your head be it - recorded what I'd been told and put it on the file. So there's a little chap out there who has grown up having those awful words screamed at him and who knows no different. its a sad world isn't it?
Strangely enough all the social workers in children's services were sacked about 18 months ago and the council employed a new team - I've often wondered why.
The next 2 posts involve ineffective police and social workers, then I'll do one about all the animals I've come across whilst doing the day job, then I'll call it quits.
I'm off to see Fleetwood Mac again on Monday, my final retirement present - can't wait, speak soon and take care all