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19 May 2008

Pedal Power

I've spent the afternoon at the NEC, wading through the Baby Show. Thought it might be a laugh. What it's really achieved is a sense of how lucky today's nippers are, and before you start worrying that I'm going to get all 'back in our day' about it, unfortunately that's exactly what it's made me feel and now I'm going to write about it. It's reminded me of my Grandpa, who died when I was about six years old. Maybe five. Didn't have Outlook, but I'm expecting 1979/1980.

I've been checking out a lot of the websites of the myriad companies that have flung free stuff my way all afternoon and have come across some truly excellent toy sites: not all battery-0perated, plug'n'play contraptions - real toys, made of wood or metal and involving manual craftsmanship. There's this incredible pedal car for 2-3 year olds and upwards. I'm starting to save now.

It's this that made me remember my Grandpa because, once upon a time (I am imagining my second birthday), he built me a metal pedal car, designed just like the one on the link. Yep, built it. He was a car mechanic before and after the war - and during it he served in Burma with the RAF as a mender of aeroplanes and other sundry engines. He would get on an old Norton or BSA and ride the Wall Of Death for japes and larks. He was that kind of bloke. Bizarrely, given the current Big News, he was based on the Irrawaddy Delta.

The sad thing is that my cream-liveried, SIMON 2 number-plated, all-metal pedal car has long since passed into the ether, and I've been trying to remember when it left me. And under what circumstances. It was one of those toys that I couldn't let go of, one that lived for many years in various garden sheds and garages along life's highway. Of course, it had been years since I had been able to fit inside it by the time I remember it not being around anymore. I just can't remember the day when it was discussed that it would be sold/scrapped/given away. I actually feel quite a pang for it now. It would have been a great thing to give to Max, but then - it does have my name all over it. Maybe he should get my father's watch. That's easier to store.

01 May 2008

All Change, Please

The Yanks must be looking at our political process - though, more than likely, they aren't - scratching their heads at how all this change occurred with nary a 'woo-hoo' or a 'yeah'. Or any chanting of slogans. Hardly any money spent. No buses. No flags. No rallies.

So what does my unimportant mind think is going to happen come tomorrow morning? For starters I was taken aback at the presence of a BNP candidate on my local ticket. Couldn't believe it. I worry that, in the current climate of ethnofear, the knee-jerk brigade might just cast their votes down this sorry route. I hope this is not so, it would be a victory for stupidity.

Locally, that leaves me with Lib, Lab, Con and Green. They let a BNP candidate in, but no UKIP. No independents. Labour seat here, by a whisker to the Lib Dems. Too many times already on this evening's coverage, I've heard words to the effect (from both Cons and Libs) that Gordon Brown's Labour party has been the best recruitment sergeant for their own party. One thing I can be sure of: Gordon is going to wake up sore tomorrow.

The London mayoral election is also a key part of today's shenanigans. Many are suggesting that it will be a forerunner to the next General Election, and if Boris gets in - Cameron and co are going to be high-fiving and whooping their way down Whitehall on Friday morning. Actually, they probably won't, but perhaps some analogous Etonian-style celebrations, I'm sure.

I have also been rather alarmed to hear that wheelie bins are such a pivotal topic. Clearly the system here in Birmingham is buggered: I've visited towns and cities where each house has nice big bins for paper, metal, glass, plastic, food waste - the way it should be done, and the way most Europeans have been dealing with the issue for years.

So, rubbish collections aside, GB will take a bloodied nose come tomorrow - whether by Libs or Cons in their respective patches. I reckon Boris will get it in London. And both Cameron and Clegg will be fnarring at the PM, whose party will now slide further into disrepute, before he loses the next election.