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Good grief. It's nearly half way through February and my poor deprived readers have had no news and whinges from me since the festive season. Fear not, brave public, you are not forgotten. At no cost to the country's economy and tattered finances, without the need for UN convoys and airlifts, without the need for drone and bombing attacks to clear obstructions, I bring the latest, and I mean late, news from the Rushey Platt Villa. [bSnowfall [/b] There I was, knee deep in cardboard boxes, stuffing them into a crushing machine while fending off colleagues who saw my job as an easier option than theirs, when I spotted it. Snow? Was that snow falling outside? Of course I couldn't miss the opportunity to head over to the door of the warehouse and have a looksee. It was. Nothing special or disastrous, just a few flurries of wintery weather to please the British heart after our lacklustre Christmas. "What is that stuff coming out of the sky?" Asked a forklifter. He really didn't know. That was the first time he had ever witnessed snow in his life, and in his far off homeland in sub-tropical Goa, snow just does not happen. Another Goan was nervous, not really understanding what snow was, and worried about possible side effects. One the other hand, one Polish girl prayed the snow would get heavier so she could build a snowman like she did back home. Well, despite the repeated warnings on weather reports, the snow flurries across England were fairly feeble and here in rainy old Swindon we got almost nothing. Fighting Hunger There are times we think our employer gives us almost nothing. Oh sure we get paid, but there's an insidious lack of morale as the targets we have to meet only get higher with fewer resources to achieve them. Maybe I'm whinging a little. After all, the company did pay for a Christmas dinner and a week or two ago we got a free fish and chips. Yummy. I notice the bottles of tomato ketchup and mayonnaise left on the tables afterward quickly started evaporating. President Of The Week Who else but Donald Trump? Clearly expecting to rule by decree and change the face of the Earth with clicks of his fingers and swipes of his expensive pens, he has run straight into a lesson on co-operation mounted by the judiciary branch of American government, one we never normally hear anything about in Britain. The funny things was that I debated with a colleague at work about whether Trump would get a lesson, but I confess I thought it was going to be from the security services, not the judges. So his executive order to ban travel from suspicious states achieves almost nothing. Thus he threatens to make another. How the Russians must be laughing. All that effort to rig the electoral system, all those spies wandering around taking photographs and exchanging envelopes of secret information, all those bugs and whistleblowers and Wikileaks.... All the Russians have to do is follow Trump on Twitter.
Another local newsletter fell through my letter box the other day. It seems our fair town of Swindon wants to change, wants to progress, wants to become a cultural vanguard. Yeah? Really? The civic leaders and planners trumpeted that line thirty years ago, which shows how little vanguarding they managed to achieve. One of their former pet projects, the 'circus tent' market hall, is to be demolished which has alarmed local traders who can't afford the high street premises. The planners haven't said so, but clearly that building wasn't the success they dreamed of. Worse is yet to come. Finally approving a plan to restore the old Victorian era Locarno building, currently a burned out shell, what do I see? Restaurants. Lots of restaurants. Swindon was once known for having the greatest concentration of drinking dens in one square mile, now it wants to be known as the place where you stuff yourself silly. As if it has escaped the attention of planners that many of our local restaurant premises are vacant or closed for business. But it seems you can't have culture without places to consume expensive gourmet food. Hmmm... But most of those premises aren't open commercially.... A Bird In The Rafters At work I left the rest area and headed back toward the warehouse floor, a daily ritual that one must complete with strict adherence to the timetable or suffer the wrath of management. On this particular day I met a guy by the forklift garage, holding an extensible plastic rod that was wobbling right up the top of our modern tin shack. A bird was trying to nest in the steel beam rafters. Not the usual pigeon - those birds seem to nest anywhere and don't much care who walks underneath - but a large heron, a bird more accustomed to natural waterside surroundings. I watched as it got fed up of being prodded and effortlessly winged its way to another perch, where it would await another prodding. Lovely bird, but it can't stay in the warehouse. I wonder why it came inside? To find a safe nesting spot? Seeking a warmer nesting spot? Or perhaps it was looking for a restaurant? Working With Machines One job I regularly undertake is compacting cardboard and plastic rubbish in hydraulic baling machines. They're powerful beasties, crushing the waste with 3,000lbs/sq in (Hey, imperial measurements buddy - we're talking Brexit here). The amount of packaging used by car parts suppliers is enormous and you would expect it to be, since each article has to arrive at the production line absolutely spotless and perfect. The only problem is of course that I have to let the other two shifts use 'my' machines when I'm not there, and what a mess they make. Wires not properly installed making it difficult to extract the finished bale, or more usually, simply over-filling the machine until it isn't possible to bale it at all. Oh no. They've done it again. So I have to open the doors and let the rubbish cascade out onto the floor and repack it properly. And stop well meaning colleagues from trying to stop the rubbish coming out. Life is full of action and adventure in waste management. The managers of course know the problem exists. They would do - I've told them - but nothing seems to improve. Oh well. At least there's been no weekend working for me to put right. One of the welding robots stopped working and its replacement caught fire. Technology is great isn't it? Election Ploy Of The Week Okay, against all odds, Donald Trump won enough Electoral College votes and that makes him President-Elect. But what do I hear? One party in America has decided the voting system has been hacked, and wants a recount. If enough states do that, and it only needs one or two, Hilary Clinton is technically the winner. Imagine that? Of course if Donald gets trumped at the last call - can they do that in America? - Clinton would likely be the least popular president ever. Now there's an achievement.
Right now - this moment - it just started pouring with rain. Sunshine and showers the report had said and lo and behold as soon as I risk a journey to the local library, fate punishes me for my presumption with a cascade of water down the windows. So now I'm trapped in the same building as the rest of library going public. Oh ye gods, the rain it doth rain harder. It has just become a veritable deluge out there. Stand by for more updates as we go Live At The Library. Changes at the Industrial Estate Every day as I plod back and forth from work I pass through an industrial estate, and in particular, the back of one factory. Over the years a growth of silos, ducts, electrical transformers, cabling, piping, and extractor fans has spread out of the back wall like some industrial fungus. The racket it used to make was extraordinary. I swear one of the reasons I got into trouble not so long with benefit payments was because I answered my mobile in that locality and the person on the other end thought I was stood next to a jet airliner at an airport. Now it's all gone. Swept away by the cutting torch. All the myriad holes in the wall covered over with plywood and wire mesh. And in it's place the inevitable result of a blank canvas. The graffiti mice are busy decorating the wall with the usual urban hieroglyphics. More Foxy Stuff I saw three foxes hunting together a week ago. Three. If that's a mating trio, something strange is going on in Fox-Enders. Having spotted a number of foxes I don't recognise, clearly the wee beasties are doing well. Bertie the Badger still noses around peoples houses late at night, and Herbie the Hedgehog still snuffles in the grass beside a main road. Oh... Hang on.... Weather Latest The rain has stopped. yes, ladies and gentlemen, in a surprise move Nature has decided that Swindon will be spared any further downpour, or at least until I venture out of the library. And now, back to the normal program.... Yet More Foxiness I was told something interesting by a work colleague. He keeps a young cat and because he lives close to a main road, he only lets it out late at night. One night he'd gone back out to the call the cat in. It didn't answer. Naturally he began to worry. Again and again he called but no cat. Fearing the worst, he was about to give up when his precious pet wandered back through the undergrowth happy as larry, with his latest friend, a young fox, walking beside him. Awww.... Cute. Secure Shopping Now that the new shopping mall is available and just around the corner from where I live, I have begun availing myself of its products and produce. This frequent visiting has resulted in the security guards watching me closely, and to be fair, some of the comments made by the fresh meat staff haven't been exactly complimentary. The other day I'd had enough of the close scrutiny, so as the security guard passed me, I followed in a non-provocative manner watching him. He got the message. Now they watch me from thirty yards further away. And Finally The sun is out so it's bye for now. This is rainy old Swindon you know. Use that sunshine while it lasts.