The Long Road Home is a travelblog written a fellow minion of the Baron who is cycling across China, Central Asia and Europe for charity. Really interesting stories, plus the occasional podcast for real local flavour.

Meanwhile, in sunny Southwark, I’m trying to get my useless umbrella company and almost-as-useless new agency to talk to one another. Here’s the background. The Baron decided to route all its recruitment and contracting through a single agency, which meant that my contract was ‘sold’ by my current agency to the new Official agency. However, nobody seems to want to tell my umbrella company this, even though I have asked them to speak to one another several times, and I’m now getting a bit cross. This situation is not of my making, and I don’t see why I should waste the Baron’s time trying to get people to do their jobs, but I suppose I’ll have to otherwise I’ll lose money.

Not as interesting as cycling across China (I could do the travel bit, but not by bike), but horribly relevant.

watching-butterflies-feeding We went to the Butterfly House at Syon Park on Easter Sunday. A magical place full of giant butterflies and moths fluttering about your ears in a tropical greenhouse. Charlie loved watching the butterflies eat, chasing the butterflies, dragging Grandad around the greenhouse…

The council elections are upon us. I think we’re in a hotly-contested ward because leaflets are pouring through our letterbox. Mainly from the LibDems and the Labour lot – the Conservatives don’t even bother trying, though I wish they would so that I can have a laugh.

The Labour leaflets feature the “Action Team” looking grim beside yet another example of LibDem neglect in our area – piles of rubbish outside the “community garden”, the broken cable box at the end of our street…etc. There’s usually a picture of Harriet beaming at the Action Team as they point to a non-functioning street light or listen patiently to a pensioner.

The LibDem leaflets talk a lot about Simon Hughes and what wonderful things the LibDems have done. In Bermondsey. That’s the other side of the Old Kent Road – in Simon’s patch, funnily enough. Apparently our bit of the ward doesn’t merit attention because we’re too middle-class or something.

We met one of the LibDem candidates on Friday. Nice enough chap. Still not voting for him, and here’s why.

Yesterday, the most bizarre leaflet dropped into our letterbox. It was a broadsheet-sized 4-col glossy from the departing LibDem councillor. According to him, the Powers That Be in the council had barred him from standing again, even though he had been cleared of all wrongdoing by the Electoral Standards Commission (working from memory here, so the name might be wrong). But anyway, he was off to work abroad, but he just wanted to say that he’d done a lot to expose corruption in Southwark – that’s the council run by his party, by the way – and he definitely isn’t a racist, and here are the pictures of him smiling with black people to prove it. The leaflet had the LibDem logo on it, and the obligatory big picture of the councillor, so it looked to all intents and purposes like a LibDem election leaflet. But there were no policies, no pictures of the Sainted Simon, and it spent a lot of time saying rude things about the Southwark LibDems. It was all terribly confusing, and I wondered if it was a joke?

The thing is, why should I vote for a party that can’t even be bothered to tell me what they have done for my street, and that allows its elected representatives to publish such self-serving tripe in the middle of an election campaign? I’m all for freedom of speech, but this kind of thing benefits nobody.

Memories of Brixton: 1981
There have been a few reminiscences of Brixton in 1981. I remember it as a brilliant place, full of fun and music and colour – totally different from Croydon.

My abiding memory of the Brixton Riots is of a Militant activist (now a Socialist Alliance organiser type) boasting that the Militant Tendency were the first on the streets on the Sunday morning after the riots. Selling their papers. That’s all you need. You’ve been beaten to a pulp by the boys in blue, your kids are in a cell, your business has been trashed by looters, and your home is a mess, and you’ve got a hangover. Then, as you’re working out which part of your life is still in working order, some wart-nosed Trot comes along and tells you to maintain the proletarian vanguard and the campaign for £100 a week minimum wage by buying his paper. The fact that he didn’t get his head kicked in is a testament to the patience and tolerance of the people of Brixton.

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