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It's open! It's all open! The supermarket at the Old College site is open for business! Drop everything and rush down there at once before everything goes in the Swindon store's grand opening. Or not. Depending on whether you actually care. It's still a building site of course but at least the public and wander in awe along the aisles admiring the low low prices and bargains galore. The supermarket isn't the only new store opening here recently. There's the toy shop at the old shopping cente too. As it happens that wasn't particularly of any interest to me but imagine my suprise turning a corner when I spotted an imperial storm trooper looking for androids in a Swinbon street. No really, fully dressed in up and carrying one of those short barrelled blasters they couldn't hit a barn door with. It's a wonder he wasn't arrested for carrying an offensive weapon. [My Jedi Training Begins This morning I dragged myself out of bed for that most unusual of job searching activities, the early morning start. For today I'm off to 'Boot Camp', Basic Training for Jobseekers 101, at the local college (the new one, not the mass of bricks, scaffolds, hi-vis vests, and bewildered shoppers at the Old College site). After a decade of intermittent quests for employment the Job Centre have decided I'm a useless klutz who must be re-educated and indoctrinated into the ways of the Force, findings jobs with the blast shield down, stretching out with my feelings, sensing terrible disturbances, although at my age leaping several hundred feet in one go and getting into intense laser sword fights isn't quite so easy. No wonder Ben Kenobi lost his final confrontation with Darth Vader, but then he was long term unemployed too as I seem to remember from the films. Mind you, living in a cave out in the desert wastes of Tatooine, he didn't have a brand new supermarket to find food in. The Job Centre couldn't wait to send me on this two week course, the joke being that it turns out only the first meeting was mandatory. But hey, let's be positive, at least at the end of this I'll be able to prove to employers that I, Old Ben Caldrail, am fully presentable and employable with my new certificate. What? Another one? Oh yes. In two weeks I shall be a Jobseeking Jedi, learned in the ways of employment. The Job Centre will expect nothing less. Jedi Prowess Of The Week There are roadworks along the pavements of the street outside my home. I know this because the local population collide with the plastic barricades in a drunken attempt to stagger from one pub to another each evening. You see, a little bit of Jedi training, and they would sense the presence of obstructions and dark holes in the ground.
There's a strange mood in the town right now, and I suspect, across England, because once again our national football team has failed to reach the heady goal of winning the World Cup. This time they failed to get out of the starting blocks, so I understand, but then I don't have any time for football. Nothing wrong with the game as such, but I resent the expectations that I should be interested and discuss the subject at every opportunity. I don't like the blatant commercialism and outrageous incomes football stars can earn, or for that natter, I remain baffled as to why a bloke who kicks a football for a living can be seen as important as politicians on the world stage. All those national flags displayed in peoples front windows... But I suppose that's nothing other than a sense of disappointment. For David Cameron, it means a major reorganisation of his social diary now that he doesn't have a football team to be seen with at press events. A few less new years honours to promote. Unfortunatetly it also means that David Cameron has more time on his hands, and with busy politicians who like telling the British how to go about their daily lives, it means he'll have time to think up new ways of getting his face on television, and since trampling on the unemployed is his most popular game plan right now, I dare say it'll get worse for those of us who can't afford football tickets. As it happens I'm shortly to be put on a work placement. Unlike previous years where you get a small premium payment to make the idea worthwhile, now I have to work for my benefits. Those of you with well paid jobs will no doubt say that's a good thing. But ask yourself this - would you want to work a thirty hour week for sixty odd pounds? Especially if you want to earn a living instead of dossing at public expense? In a country that's so strident in its call for National Minimum Wages and assistance for those unable to pay their ever increasing bills? Now the Job Centre has warned me that twenty-six week placements are coming soon to a own near you. On the one hand it's a means of engaging those without jobs in some useful social capacity. On the other, the need of a politician to win popularity by forcing those on benefits into what amounts to slave labour. I'm almost willing to support the England soccer team from now on. As much as I hate football, as least a few goals will keep our politicians busy for a while. They Are Working On It. The Old College site is starting to look like a shopping centre now. Not complete you understand, but getting there. At the back, the car park has the metal underlay almost fitted, obscuring the dark interior and presenting a very bright spectacle when the sun gets low in the evening. Won't be long before the muffled thuds and rumbles from the cinema start intruding upon the normal traffic noise and singing contests. I saw a man from Morrisons, one of the supermarket chains that are going to inhabit the site. He stood looking dejected on the traffic island, watching the work in progress. "Give 'em a chance," I told him, "They are working on it." Sex And Violence of the Week The local park is proving to be a popular hoilday destination for alll manner of birds. Geese, ducks, coots, moorhens, pigeons, an assortment of white sea birds, but none of the swans you used to see every year. I watched a flock of geese arrive, circling down in formation and performing a coordinated landing on the water. That made quite a splash. With such a condensed population of birds you might expect the odd confrontation or two, animals being what they are. I watched a goose making a hasty and noisy retreat as another pecked at its tail feathers in furous pursuit. A coot chased a duck continuously, while the duck cleverly evaded its nemesis by swimming underwater in a random direction, the chase resuming once the coot spotted its quarry again. I watched amused as a fat pigeon sidled up to every other female asking for a date, or preferably, a chance to make eggs. He danced and strutted his stuff, but the ladies really didn't take to his display and wandered away. If that pigeon was a human, he'd be arrested as a sex pest. or perhaps given a starring role on a comedy show. But he's working on it nonetheless. Maybe one day he'll find love. Must be difficult for pigeons. I mean, it's not like they understand the internet or know how to use dating agencies. I noticed a certain cat too. It's the black and white one whose face bears an alarming resemblance to Adolf Hitler. I had no idea this feline adventurer ever prowled this part of town, but as cats do, sometimes they travel some distance to find a hiunting ground. It's all sex and violence, really. Oh well, it was a nice day at the park, but if you'll excuse me, I have work to do. Whether I like or not.