Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Attention The Failure Department 10 Downing Street

When I have published today's blog I plan to print off a copy and send it to THE FAILURE DEPARTMENT at 10 Downing Street. Actually every square inch of that address is part of the failure department but somehow I doubt I will receive a reply.

Does our prime minister buffooning around in a safety hat six sizes too small for him honestly think the public will take him seriously ?  After hiding away and failing to show leadership during lock down why has he suddenly emerged from hiding ?

Let me share some personal experiences of Boris Johnson's leadership failures. People stopped following government guidelines days ago, just look around you and see what is happening.

My wife has been trying to get medical help since March. Her hearing problem, as a result of not being able to get help, has now made her completely deaf in one ear.  After extensive efforts  to get help she was told yesterday that under NHS guidelines, presumable dictated from the failure department of 10 Downing Street, to have her ear syringed is too invasive. She can have her hair cur, she can go to the dentist but our failing government will not allow her to have simple medical treatment.

Needing a re-prescription of medication for my dog we called the vet. Before the pills could be dispensed he needed a check up, fair enough but the vet is not doing face to face consultations. There had to be a phone consultation !  My little dog can riot in Bristol and throw a statue into the river, he can defy social distancing in Liverpool and fire a rocket into the iconic Liver Building but he can not see the vet !

The NHS Blood Donor system messed up not only my appointment but that of dozens of other donors in May. I managed to negotiate and did indeed give blood but many did not. I complained to the NHS but have heard nothing. I can jam my way into the crowd on a beach in Bournemouth, I can street party in London and attack police officers but I can not give blood without a passport to navigate the failing system operated by NHS Blood Service.

A friend was yesterday trying to process a universal credit claim. Calling the government's failing department he was told he had to process his claim on-line. But I do not have a computer and I do not have access to the internet. OH DEAR - TOUGH LUCK - GO AWAY - NEXT PLEASE !  And Boris you sad apology for a leader you claim your government is helping vulnerable people. You a your cronies would not recognise a vulnerable person if one jumped up an smacked you on that silly hat you are wearing.

So The Failure Department at 10 Downing Street, get Boris a hat that fits him then ask him to contact me. I will show him what the real world under his leadership looks like !

What next ?

TUESDAY 30th JUNE 2020
Just what next ?

As of today I am still planning to stop writing this blog on Sunday but what next ?  How many days after Sunday before I start volume two and share how I am feeling during the second and bigger spike in the pandemic ?

So Leicester is facing a lock down. Is that Leicester  city centre, the whole of the city or is it as far as the entire county ?

If Leicester is spiking under the present lock down regime what good will it do to extend that regime ?  The people there need protection by returning to the original tough measures.

An official government spokesman said DOH ! WE HADN'T THOUGHT OF THAT !

While this is going on we have Boris prancing about in a hat that does not fit him, Dominic Cummings you messed up there didn't you, promising all kinds of things. Seriously, do you think he and his failing government will be able to deliver ?  Look at the government's record over the past three months !

Writing this blog I am trying to express how I feel during lock down. Before publishing my writing next week I will, of course, read through and check all of the draft text. I think I will find that I drift through being positive, to negative, to anger, to frustration. I take out my anger and frustration on Boris and his mates, fairly or unfairly. Right now I am feeling fearful. Understand my fears and spend a few moments thinking of those who are in Leicester. They need your support, for certain they aint getting it from Boris and his mates !

Monday, 29 June 2020

My Politics

MONDAY 29th June 2020
In much of what I write I poke my tongue into my cheek with great force as and when it comes to speaking about politicians.  When it comes to rating humanity where would you place a traffic warden and a politician ?  The traffic warden would be pone hundred or more steps up the ladder than a politician.

When I am asked what my politics are I have previously said that I am AN EXTREME FAR RIGHT SOCIALIST. Socialist because I love people, extreme far right because there us nothing I will not do to metaphorically flatten anyone who gets in the way of my caring for people.  However, I think I have moved on the political scale and am now a UTOPIAN. Utopian - I want the best for everyone and I want the best for everything of value on the planet. Please note the words everything of value.

Lock down has seen a beautiful increase in wildlife, nature and beauty. ALL life matters and in my book a human being is of no greater importance or value to a sparrow. In the christian religion is says he sees the meanest sparrow fall unnoticed in the street. Why is the word meanest used ?  It implies the sparrow is of no value in the eyes of the man-created god of this religion.

Speaking a while back with the Imam of our local mosque he said that god created all life but put man at the top of the various lifeforms. I added that if he did then man was put where he is in order to care for all life forms.

Politicians do not care for people do they ?  Of course not.  Have we not seen in the pandemic how politicians have failed to show real care ?

It may change but I am thinking to stop writing this blog on Sunday 5th July, that date may change but whenever I stop I will have written the first page as an EXTREME FAR RIGHT SOCIALIST and will be writing the last page as a UTOPIAN.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Suicide is painless

SUNDAY 28th JUNE 2020:
Are you familiar with the classic American TV series MASH ?  Set in the Korean War the theme tune for the series has become known as Suicide Is Painless.

In my teaching career I have a memory. A friend of mine who was a local GP and who was on the rota of police surgeons knocked on my door one morning knocked on my door saying he would take my children to school that day as I needed to get to my office. Police officers would be there at nine o'clock. One of my students had committed suicide !

Was it painless for this teenager ?  I'll never know but the pain for his family, his friends and everyone who had to deal with the aftermath of his death the pain was excruciating.

We have elements of society who right now are metaphorically trying to commit suicide with the pain for us all excruciating.

Our country is lacking leadership, unbelievable stupidity is being accepted as the norm and the media is burying the news.

Yesterday I switched on the TV news at five o'clock. The lead items were USA and India. Important though happenings in these two nations are they are not relevant to our situation here in England. I wanted to know what the death toll for the day was but the BBC was hiding it. I tried use in the NHS website to find out but that website is written using Braille and invisible ink !  Eventually I found it was 100 - ONE HUNDRED !  If  you believe our failing government figures are low at the week-end because of the way statistics are gathered. So what is the REAL figure ?  Will we ever know ?

We have had since lock down was prematurely CANCELLED - not eased but cancelled we have had black lives matter fuelling racism, we have had hideous gatherings on beaches, street parties, Liverpool FC bringing shame on its city and the entire sport.  Within this our police have had to run towards danger in order to prevent suicide of our nation. Many have been injured, some seriously. Have people been arrested and charged across the above ?  I don't know, the media has not reported it properly.

Facebook was a useful tool but now it is GARBAGE !  People are posting such nonsense for my money the sooner this bit of social media goes bust the better !

OH and by the way, I gave up trying to use Tumbledowndryer or what ever the blog system is, it's even more geeky and user unfriendly than Google Blogger.

Friday, 26 June 2020

Social distancing ? My posterior orifice !

SATURDAY 27th JUNE 2020:
What the hell is going on ?  Boris Cummings-Johnson when did you say pubs were re-opening ?  Was it yesterday ?

Yesterday I saw a pub - THE DOLPHIN in West Bletchley where people were sitting at tables in the garden - NOT SOCIAL DISTANCING - drinking cans of beer. The doors to the pub were open so it could be assumed the cans were purchased there although there is no evidence.


A police dispersal order was issued after Liverpool fans turned out for a second night to celebrate the club's first league title in 30 years.
While most Reds in the city and around the world have been celebrating the Premier League triumph at home, a minority descended outside Anfield on Thursday and in the city centre on Friday night.
One social media video showed hundreds of fans near the waterfront as a firework was directed onto a balcony of the Liver Building.
The Liverpool Echo reported that a small fire ensued in the landmark building.
Liverpool as a city should be thoroughly ashamed of this. Liverpool FC should be banned from all competitions next season.  SOCIAL DISTANCING ?  MY POSTERIOR ORIFICE !
Bottles were thrown at police officers who moved in to break up a street party in west London.
Footage on social media showed scores of young people in a stand-off with officers in riot gear outside a block of flats on Harrow Road on Friday afternoon.
One video showed police being hit by projectiles, with one officer swinging his baton at a group of people on the street.
Sky News home affairs editor Mark White tweeted: "[Police] trying to engage and persuade those attending to disperse, but some bottles and other objects have been thrown at officers."
Later he said that around 100 public order police officers had been called to an unlicensed music event in Maida Vale.
"Sky team on the ground reports some bottles and other objects thrown towards officers," he added.
It comes just hours after Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick revealed that around 140 police officers have been injured in London during the last three weeks.
Britons will be able to go on summer holidays abroad as the government prepares to announce that people travelling to certain countries will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning to the UK.
Ministers are poised to clear the way for trips to France, Greece and Spain after confirming the quarantine measures would be changed at Monday's review.
Officials will replace existing rules with a traffic light system that will see countries placed into green, amber and red categories based on the prevalence of coronavirus in each.
It will mean only passengers arriving back from nations in the red category - where the spread of coronavirus is deemed to be high - will have to self-isolate for a fortnight.
People will still have to reveal the address where they plan to stay on their return, no matter which country they are coming back from.
The government said the changes would provide a "vital lifeline for UK travel operators and those whose jobs rely on the travel industry".
How many people died of corona virus yesterday ?  I think it was 168 but the government, having closed down its failing daily briefings, is making it difficult to find out !  
Now let me turn to what has happened in Scotland.  Look  at the way Nicola Sturgeon spoke, what she said and how she said it. GENUINE is the word that comes to my mind. Posterior Orifice is what comes to my mind where Boris Johnson is concerned or should that be Dominic Cummings ?  I am not sure which one is running our country ! 

Ignorance - Stupidity !

FRIDAY 26th JUNE 2020

Today's blog is going to be a bit of a rant but before I begin writing let me explain I am going to experiment a bit today. I have been using Google Blogger for more than three years, it is nowhere as good as it was. When I first started I never got less than one hundred views per day, Google having screwed up I am lucky these days to get more than ten.

You will be familiar with: If it aint bust then don't fix it.  In Google terms that means if it is bust then totally wreck it !

Before the month is out Google is wrecking the system. Its geeks have gone into overdrive !  Therefore, today I am experimenting with Tumlr to see if that is any better.


Time for the rant !

We had a major incident on a beach. We had police officers attacked and injured at a party in London. We had brainless people in Liverpool celebrating some football event or other !  Where was social distancing in all this  ?

Also yesterday another ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY NINE people died from corona virus yesterday and the government is still proceeding with its folly.

Twenty children and staff have tested positive at a day nursery !

If you want to have your hair cut fine, go and get pissed at a pub ok, overcrowd a beach, jam the approach roads and it's all part of the government's exit strategy from lock down. ATTACK A POLICE OFFICER AND YOU'LL PROBABLY GET AWAY WITH IT. On that matter I would say a MINIMUM 25 year prison sentence should be mandatory for anyone and everyone who attacks a police officer during their course of duty.  Given what happened in Liverpool then would it not be unreasonable for that club to be banned from all competitions next season.

Will there be a next season ?  Not if madness continues this way. The second spike will make the last look like a pimple on the backside of a killer whale.


Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Black v White

I awoke at 3.30am to the beautiful sound of a blackbird singing in my garden. As the dawn chorus began this was followed by a white dove.

Of the two which had the best song ?  The blackbird without a doubt.

Of the two which is the most pleasing to look at ?  Marginally the white dove ?

Blackbird v White Dove ? Which is the best ? Impossible to pick one and that is a stupid question to ask. Both are special, both are life forms, both are important. Both have qualities of their own.

As part of my writing for MILTON DREAMS THE CITY THAT NEVER WAS I went yesterday to my local war memorial. These are the names recorded there:

1914 – 1918: Henry G Arber   William Caldwell   Douglas G Chadwick   Harry Day   Cyril Dickens   Harry Goss   John W Guntrip   Francis W Gurney   William H Hanton   Walter james   Edward H Keyte   Frederick J King   Edwin W Leonard   Cecil Selby Lowndes   Lawrence Meacher   Stanley J Morris   George S Palmer   Walter W Perry   George H Rose   William J Shouler   Albert Spring   Arthur Stairs   Herbert G Staniford   James F Steene   Thomas C Tooth   Percy C Troughton   John F Wallsgrove   George West   Benjamin W G Ward  Eric H Markham

1939 – 1945:  Richard E Ayres   Frederick B Brown   John Catterall   William Calver   Harry D Davis   George J Essa   Glyn Hankins   John W Jones   Albert E Knight  Leonard C May   Edgar C Mynard   Alec Peackock   David F Sinfield   Leslie F Smith   John P Whitley   Donald Baker   James S D Tompkins

2006 Afghanisan:  Ross A C Nicholls  

Names, many of them died more than one hundred years ago. When we celebrate Armistice Day we remember the dead as a group and not, I would suggest, as individuals. We did in the past but that is in the past.

From those names there are two who came from wealthy and influential families. Are they any more important than others ?

A while ago I visited the site of the 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge. There on the memorial were names of those who had lost their lives. Names. That's all they were. I then visited the graves in the cemetery where the names became people. Honestly, tears filled my eyes as I looked at the ages of those who had dies. Seventeen - Eighteen - Nineteen. Some in their twenties but few older.  The lives became real.

Yesterday another 154 people died from covid 19 and yet the government thinks we can move to normality on 4th July and reduce the social distancing rules.  Never mind the 4th July it's all happening now !

Perhaps if each day the names of those who have lost their lives were published in the front page of every newspaper they may become real people and those sad individuals demanding pubs re-open can be put in their proper place.

Black Lives ?  White Lives ? ALL LIVES.  Just as you can pick out differences between the blackbird and the white dove it is impossible to say which is the better. so it is with lives. ALL LIVES MATTER.  The lives on the war memorial still matter, the lives lost more than one hundred years ago at Vimy Ridge still matter. The lives lost yesterday matter. Boris Johnson and your motley crew of failing politicians open your eyes and start to recognise this fact.

Green Lives Matter

Following Boris Johnson effectively saying yesterday that we are back to normal I wondered if I should bring this daily blog to an end. As you can see I have decided not to. Normality ?  This appeared in the news this morning !

Health leaders are calling for an urgent review to ensure Britain is properly prepared for the "real risk" of a second wave of coronavirus.
Ministers have been warned that urgent action is needed to prevent further loss of life and to protect the economy amid growing fears of a renewed outbreak in the winter.
The appeal is backed by the presidents of the Royal Colleges of Physicians, Surgeons, GPs and Nursing - as well as the chairman of the British Medical Association.
It follows the prime minister's announcement of a reduction in the two-metre social distancing rule, as he gave the green light for pubs, restaurants, hotels, hairdressers and barbers in England to reopen from 4 July.  
In an open letter to the leaders of all the UK political parties published in the British Medical Journal, the health leaders call for a "rapid and forward-looking assessment" of the state of national preparedness in the event of a renewed flare-up.
"While the future shape of the pandemic in the UK is hard to predict, the available evidence indicates that local flare ups are increasingly likely and a second wave a real risk," they said.
"Many elements of the infrastructure needed to contain the virus are beginning to be put in place, but substantial challenges remain.
"The job now is not only to deal urgently with the wide-ranging impacts of the first phase of the pandemic, but to ensure that the country is adequately prepared to contain a second phase."
Sir David King, a former chief scientific adviser, told Sky News that easing of lockdown announced by the PM was "extraordinarily risky".
He also warned of the risk of a second wave of COVID-19, saying: "We know the winter is a likely period when the virus takes off again. We must therefore aim to get completely rid of the virus from this country before the winter.
"If we move too quickly, which is what I think is being proposed here, the risk of running into a second wave becomes very significant."
Sir David said England still lacked an effective test and trace system, which means it is "travelling in the dark" as lockdown is eased further.
I have decided I will continue writing until 5th July. Writing with my fingers crossed.
Driving to the radio studio this morning there was the most beautiful sunrise. I wanted to pull over, get out my camera and take loads of photographs. PROBLEM, the sunrise was obscured from the camera's point of view by the trees. Trees, the most beautiful and valuable life form on the planet.
Black Lives Matter ?  Do they ?  White Lives Matter ?  Do they ? All lives matter but I suggest GREEN LIVES matter more than all the rest put together. If we did not have green lives then no other form of human or animal life could exist.
During lock down carbon foot prints dramatically fell.  Earth Overshoot Day 2020 is calculated to be 22nd August. That is the day when we have used up all of the resources generated during the year, every day after we are destroying the planet. Earth Over Shoot Day 2019 was 29th July.
With lock down Green Lives were respected. Now with McDonald's and the like murdering animals and littering here, there and everywhere normality is back. Shopping centres opening with their hideous carbon foot prints normality is back. Roads are again packed with cars destroying the planet. Normality is back.
Green Lives Matter. I do so hope that we do not see a second spike in the virus but I am not optimistic. The government has so clearly shown that Black, White and Green Lives do not matter.  Business and money matter.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

It's all over !

TUESDAY 22nd June 2020
If you believe the news it will be hotter in England today that in Barbados. I love Barbados, it is a truly beautiful island and it has been far too long since I was last there, But it is not the beaches or the palm trees that make Barbados the paradise it is, the people make it such a beautiful island.

Yesterday fifteen people died from corona virus, fifteen more beautiful people who will never see another day. That is a false figure, of course, figures are always false over the week-end. Or so we are told !

I find it so hard that people are celebrating this low number of deaths, celebrating because it means normality can be restored. Normality but at such a price, such an unacceptable price in human life.

Today, if you believe the news, Boris Cummings-Johnson will announce in effect that lock down is over. Pubs will reopen, how many lives equal one pub ?  Anything and everything will re-open.  Climate cowboys will soon be back in action, wild life will suffer and we will back on mission to destroy our planet.

How many more days will I write my daily blog before I stop ? I'll keep going for a bit.

How long before I can properly access my doctor's surgery ?  Not that I need to but far too many administrators within our NHS have not been showing the dedication our front line doctors and nurses have.

How long before prisons stop using the situation to hide behind their 80% failure rate ?

How long before failing local authorities rebuild tent cities within their boundaries ?

Well all that's normal isn't and normal is what we want to happen. These things don't matter, it's Costa Coffee, McDonald's and giant shopping centres that matter !

How long before England becomes as beautiful as Barbados ?  Easy answer - NEVER !

Monday, 22 June 2020

Hnaging On The Old Barbed Wire

MONDAY 22nd JUNE 2020:
So Dominic Johnson, or is it Borris Cummings, is to make an announcement cutting social distancing to one metre. EXCUSE ME - we are not a part of the EU any longer so take note you TERRIBLE TWINS we measure in yards feet and inches !  OK YOU GOT THAT !

No announcement makes any difference, people are not observing social distancing. All the positive good stuff has gone. Back to normal, back to normal with people still losing their lives every day.

Government policy ?  Obviously reduce the death rate to a point where the economy is more important that lives.  Put up with the death rate until a vaccine can be found and then it's all over !

I am reminded of a World War Ono song:
If you want to find the General, I know where he is,
I know where he is, I know where he is.
If you want to find the General, I know where he is,
He's pinning another medal on his chest.
I saw him, I saw him, pinning another medal on his chest,
I saw him, pinning another medal on his chest.
If you want to find the Colonel, I know where he is,
I know where he is, I know where he is.
If you want to find the Colonel, I know where he is,
He's sitting in comfort stuffing his bloody gut.
I saw him, I saw him, sitting in comfort stuffing his bloody gut,
I saw him, sitting in comfort stuffing his bloody gut.
If you want to find the Sergeant, I know where he is,
I know where he is, I know where he is.
If you want to find the Sergeant, I know where he is,
He's drinking all the Company rum.
I saw him, I saw him, drinking all the Company rum,
I saw him, drinking all the Company rum.
If you want to find the Private, I know where he is,
I know where he is, I know where he is.
If you want to find the Private, I know where he is,
He's hanging on the old barbed wire.
I saw him, I saw him, hanging on the old barbed wire,
I saw him, hanging on the old barbed wire.

Saturday, 20 June 2020

A nation of shopkeepers

SUNDAY 21st JUNE 2020
Napoleon supposedly said that Britain was a nation of shopkeepers. In the late 1960's working as a management trainee in a giant Birmingham City Centre department store I thought he was right. I wonder what Napoleon would think about today's shopping with giant centres and on-line shopping with the likes of Amazon.

As the government uses you and I as pawns in its game, a further 128 people died yesterday, do not be fooled by official reductions in social distancing and the general attitude of the shopping public which considers social distancing to be optional. May I suggest we need to:
  • Shop locally
  • Shop on-line
  • Think twice before patronising a charity shop

The demise of the High Street would have made Napoleon think the fabric of British society was falling apart. The department store in which I worked had eight trading floors and employed two thousand people. I has long disappeared along with eight other stores in the chain although its London branch, Selfridges, remains to this day.  When I was still at school I had a Saturday job in a local hardware shop where profit margins were 30%. In that department store profits were 60%.  Which gave the better value ?

As we "emerge" from this pandemic I would urge you to shop locally. Avoid the carbon footprint of The Centre MK and The Intu. Use your local High Street and where you can privately owned shops.

Why can we not survive without Costa ?  What commercial addiction has drawn us to the brand. Reduce the mass slaughter of animals and the subsequent global warming of the likes of McDonald's and KFC. KFC = Kill Frightened Chickens. 

Do not patronise the covered open market of Central Milton Keynes. Prior to lock down I wrote to both Milton Keynes Council and the management of The Centre MK alerting them to the fact that some traders were knowingly receiving stolen goods and some traders were operating as illegal loan sharks. They were doing so as part of the Central Milton Keynes drug trade !  Neither Milton Keynes Council nor The Centre MK responded to my letters !

Shop on-line. As I opened my laptop this morning I found an e-mail from Amazon telling me how much royalties I am about to be paid for sales of my books. Please note that Amazon will only accept an author within its library who file tax details. Pity Amazon is not so observant of its own tax position. That said, shopping on-line is so easy. No matter what you want you can find it, not so in the shops of The Centre MK or the infernal Intu ! You will get a far better price than in a traditional shop, you will get a far better level of customer service.

I need a little bit of DIY stuff. I am not going to go to B & Q - The Everything and Nothing Store - Everything you need and nothing you can find store. The store where you need a sat nav to find you way around. I will buy on-line. I needed some ink cartridges but The Empty Shelf Supermarket did not have any !  Ordered them on-line and paid the same price as in the supermarket, ordered one day with delivery the next.

Now a cautionary tale about charity shops. If you see something you need, something you want then by all means get it BUT DO NOT FOR ONE MOMENT BUY ANYTHING TO SUPPORT THE CHARITY. Commercial charities with their vast chains of shops are businesses, commercial = business. In some such shops the money you spend which finally benefits the people the charity claims to work with can be as little as 19p !

So Napoleon what do you make of all this ?  If Josephine wanted a box of hair dye would you go to The Centre MK, pay £2 to park only to find it was out of stock or would you buy on-line for next day delivery ?

Milton Dreams - The City That Never Was - Legends Revisited

Within my 1994 publication Not The Concrete Cows there is a chapter which is entitled Let's Look At Some Legends. Allow me to revisit and share that chapter, I will then chat about some other legends.

Truth is one of the most precious things we own therefore it is only right that we try to be a little economical with it. No that is not a quote from the editor of one of our national tabloids, it comes from a newspaper editor working back in the mid 19th century one Samuel Langhorne Clemens better known as Mark Twain.

Mark Twain prefaced his Tudor England adventure The Prince And The Pauper with these words: I will set down a table it may have happened it might just be a legend but it might have happened. The wonderful thing about a legend is the truth and fiction become so inextricably entwined it is impossible to tell the difference and so the unedited account becomes a valued part of our heritage. Just where would we be without King Arthur And The Knights of the Round Table  ?  The likes of the Loch Ness Monster ?   Each one looks to go spinning off into future generations for as many as have enjoyed them in years gone to continue into the distant future. Milton Keynes is not without a legend or two of its own.  Does a ghost from the Fenny Stratford plague pit honestly haunt the local schools ? Why is an area of Newton Longville known as Dead Queen ? And did Dick Turpin honestly stay at the Old Swan Inn in Woolston ?

Truth is one of the most precious things we own therefore it is only right that we try to be a little economical with it.

In the late autumn of 1348 a terrible tragedy began to strike down the dense sparsely populated area of Milton Keynes. In June of that year a ship docked in Bristol having sailed from France.  One of the sailors was sick, he had bubonic plague better known as the Black Death.  In less than two years that disease spread right across Europe. Two years later one third of this nation’s population had been wiped out.

Our Milton Keynes ancestors living in the North Buckinghamshire countryside suffered extensively.  It is said that the area about Woburn Sands became established as a travellers bypassed plague centres on Watling Street.  

A chronicler of the time said the cattle roamed masterless over the countryside, crops rotted in the field for lack of hands to reap them and there were not enough priests alive to bury the dead.

One much acclaimed remedy for the plague involved the use of toads which folk gathered from the local fields. The toad was placed out in the sun to dry then sat upon the bulbous swellings which appeared in the neck groin and armpits. It was believed that the poison would leave the patient's body and enter the swelling toad.

Another remedy required the application of a concoction made from figs, yeast, onions and butter.

A third and grossly more painful remedy saw the whipping of the victim’s naked body. It was thought that as the plague was a judgement from God substituting the physical pain of flagellation and begging divine forgiveness could offer a hope of a cure. Little doubt our ancestors tried all of these and others but without success. The numbers of the dead were so vast that bodies were communally buried in deep pits. Legend dictates that the Fenny Stratford pit was located in a field slightly to work to the west of the town.

More than five hundred years later in 1897,  the Fenny Stratford School Board put up a school on that land and then the trouble started.

Very soon Victorian teachers and their children became aware of an unearthly presence in their midst. Doors are creak open and desperate strangely bang. Fleeting glimpses could be snatched from time to time of a small female figure chasing after the children as they went out to play.

Somebody decided to name the ghostly apparition Mary and explained her appearance is a child who had died during the Black Death and had been buried in the Fenny Stratford pit.  It was claimed that she was lonely, not being able to play any more with her friends and so she sought new companions among the children of the school.

Mary was the only child of a blacksmith who lived by the side of the lane that ran from Fenny Stratford to the village of Bletchley. She was a happy child although lonely not having any brothers or sisters. She was a popular figure in the area the father a respected member of the community.

Mary's mother was the first member of the family to be struck down by the plague. Two weeks later both she and her husband were dead leaving Mary an orphan. Mary wandered about in a state of helplessness grief estate of helpless in a state of helpless grief before she too fell to the terrible disease.

Over the years since 1887 the Fenny Stratford school underwent several changes but Mary steadfastly remained as an extra pupil.  When the school moved to new buildings on Bletchley’s Lakes Estate it is claimed that Mary went with it to the site of Leon School in Fern Grove. Nobody has actually seen Mary now for several years but doors sill inextricably open and footsteps are heard running down the deserted corridors as this particular lonely ghost chases after her friends.

Well there we are, I have set down my tale you can believe it or not if you wish. It may have happened, it might just be a legend but it could have happened !  Let me now move on and tell you about a very different lady.

We all know from school history lessons of the legendary Queen Boudica. That fearsome lady with knives on the wheel of wheels of her chariot,  that famous warrior championing the plight of the Ancient Britons against the mighty empire of Rome.  The widow who suffered under the whip and saw her daughters abused who now is immortalised in the bronze statue adjacent to Hyde Park Corner.

But what you may ask has Boudica got to do with Milton Keynes ? Where does her legend touch our area  ?  Draw a little closer and I will tell you.

Nero was the Roman emperor (presumably sometime before he took up violin lessons) and a certain Suetonuis Pauligus (Where did they get names like that from ?) was the governor of Britain. This was in about AD60.  Prastigus (Like I said where did they get those sort of names from ?) was the King of the Iceni tribe of East Anglia and his wife was the famous Boudica.

A roman writer described the Iceni Queen as a tall woman with piercing eyes and a loud voice. A great massive red hair hung down to below her waist. Round her neck was a large gold torc. She wore a full flowing tartan dress and over it a thick cloak fastened with a brooch.

When King Prastigus died he expediently left half of his property to Nero and willed that the reminder should be divided between his two daughters.

This appeared to have been more than generous, perhaps intended to ensure the future well being under the Roman occupation of his family. However, half was not enough for the governor who took the lot !

When Boudica and her  over-taxed tribesmen made protest the Icini Queen was whipped and her two daughters raped by Roman officers.  Boudica’s  resulted resulting rebellion very nearly evicted the Roman Empire from the shores of Britain.

Boudica and her followers marched on the Roman capital of Colchester which they sacked and burned.  The 9th Legion sent put down the uprising was all but wiped out by the Britons as they marched towards London.  Governor Paulinus, who was at that time in in Mona (The capital of Anglesey), ordered a strong cavalry troop to accompany him to London.  They found the city in a state of dire panic.

Marching his southern troops at Watling Street Paulinus intended to meet up with the army now moving post-haste towards Boudica from the north. It was his intention for the larger army to engage with her with a stronger force. In so doing London with left to its fate and was burned along with Saint Albans the Roman fortress in Verulamium. If the Roman historian Tacticus is correct no less than 70,000 Roman Citizens had so far perished under the anger of Boudica.

Surging through Milton Keynes Boudica met up with Paulinus and his army near to Towcester. Never before in the history of Roman Empire had such humiliation been suffered and if Governor Paulinus could not turn events it will be better he perish in the fray will have to report back to Nero.

Boadicea outnumbered Paulinus ten to one but hers were undisciplined tribal farmers and herdsmen against the might of two highly trained Roman legions.  She addressed the troops, we British are used to women commanders in war.  I am not fighting as an ordinary person for my lost freedom, my bruised body and my outraged daughters.  The gods will grant us the revenge we deserve. Think how many of you there are and why we are fighting; then you will be able to win this battle, or die. That is what I, a woman, plan to do. Let men live in slavery if they want to.

But the pride of every Roman soldier was hurt and that of Governor Paulinus above them all.  There would be no prisoners, there would be no slaves, if Roman rule was to survive the rebellion had to be crushed entirely and without mercy. The account of Tacticus records that 80,000 Britons are slain to just 400 Romans but perhaps it would be only right to credit him with just a little creative accounting.

Boudica was not among those lost in battle. After outfighting any man she escaped and made their way across country south to Newton Longville where she poison herself.  At least that's what the official story put out by the Romans said, perhaps to discredit their enemy by branding her a coward. Another writer Dio Cassius, telling the tale of the century and a half later explained that Boudica died from a sickness several weeks after the battle, perhaps as a result of wounds turning septic. She was then secretly buried in Newton Longville and greatly mourned.

Governor Paulinus did not stop there. He slaughtered thousands upon thousands more Britons in revenge before reporting back to Nero that this particular part of the empire was again at peace.

The publishers of my children's novels have their editorial artistic and design offices in the North of England, when I have meetings there I tend to leave home in the small hours in the morning in order to make a nine o'clock start. I was the only car on a lonely road just outside York when in the faint glow of the coming dawn I swerved to miss a horse and rider. Cursing the road sense of this particular equation fanatic, I looked back into my mirror and watched both figures, rider and  horse, disappear into the darkness.  

Had it really been a member of the pony club out for an early morning trot or had I just encountered the ghost of one of the many highway men who ply their trade up and down the roads of England ? With the spirit of Mark Twain that truth is such a precious commodity we should be economical in its use, I marked I reached for my dictaphone to record the experience.

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees. The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas. The road was a ribbon of moonlight across a lonely moor. As the highwayman came riding, riding up to the old indoor.  So wrote Alfred Noyes and his famous poem and I wonder if he was inspired by a similar experience to my own.

Returning to Milton Keynes I shared my thoughts but far from being shipped off to the funny farm I found I had something in common with many others. A former landlady of the Shoulder Of Mutton public house in Little Horwood explained it was quite common for people to come into her bar saying they had hit a phantom rider with their car. That was before they had a drink !

Pony trekkers to the south of the area have claimed another apparition gallops the Quantock Hills. This apparently is Catherine Furnace the Hertfordshire highway woman who was shot and killed during the hold up in 1659 when she was twenty-five years old. It is thought that her ghost is in search of that of Dick Turpin.

Since the days when the Roman first laid down Watling Street Milton Keynes has been a major point upon the country’s main arterial routes. But the road hardly resembles the A5 trunk road we know today.

An Act of Parliament in 1706 set up the Hockliffe - Two Mile Ash Turnpike but it was an unmetalled road riddled with deep potholes and puddles. In the immediate years after 1800 the inhabitants of Little Brickhill,  Great Brickhill, Soulbury, Bletchley, Simpson, Loughton, Shenley, Bradwell and Calverton were all indicted at the Quarter Sessions for not repairing the highway. But the road was perfect for the trade of the highwayman, the most notorious of who was the legendary Dick Turpin.

Dick Turpin robbed stagecoaches along the entire route from London to York. Was it he that I had met on my early morning drive ? Is it the ghost of this particular masked robber the haunts the roads about Little Horwood ?

Legend described him as a suave well-spoken gentleman relieving travellers in the nicest possible way of their belongings. In truth he was probably an unshaven and dirty wretch of small stature and pathetic countenance.

But whatever his appearance he was certainly only too well known to the local innkeepers. From Fenny Stratford to Stony Stratford and from Little Brickhill to Calverton he had his safe houses. One of these it is claimed is the Old Swan at Woughton On The Green.

Highway robbery was of course a capital offence and the site of the gallows at Denby Hall, near Bletchley on the Hockliffe - Two Mile Ash to Turnpike was a constant reminder to our Mr Turpin of the fate awaiting him at the end of his career.

It was a bright moonlit night and the redcoats were out with a warrant from Little Linford magistrates Justice of the Peace Knapps.  Their quarry was accursed Richard Turpin on whose head was a bounty of five hundred guineas. To stay on the main Turnpike would mean certain capture and so he headed north across country to Woughton.

With a flurry of  his coat  Dick Turpin astride his trusty mare Black Bess clattered into the cobbled yard at the rear of The old Swan.  Quickly dismounting, he led the horse into the stables where, assisted by the innkeeper, he nailed four new horseshoes on top of Bess’s existing shoes. But he nailed them on in reverse. After a quart of  the landlord’s best ale.  

Dick galloped off towards Willen leaving a false trail and throwing the redcoats into confusion.

It's a wonderful little story and one that has been told in Milton Keynes for the past two centuries. However the same tale is told about a dozen similar inns up and down the entire length of the road from London to York. The present day landlord Geoff Bevan is something of a local expert on the legendary Richard Turpin. When he took over Ye Olde Swan he set off in search of the infamous highway men and the stories surrounding the inn. Although researchers from BBC television series Living Legends have been unable to find it,  Geoff located Turpin's grave in the old Saint George's Church are near the city wall in York.  Mysteriously someone places fresh flowers on the grave every month.

Geoff pointed out a large stone near the front of the pub. That. he explained. is the old mounting block from which Turpin climb astride Black Bess. He went on to recount how the stone is supposedly haunted.

Anyone who moves it does so at their own peril. when the council came to tarmac the road they worked around it fearing they would disturb the curse.

Dick Turpin was finally arrested for stealing a mare and foal, brought before York Assizes and hanged on the 7th of April 1739. He was taken from York Castle to the gallows in a cart from which he waved to the onlookers,  doffing his hat and bowing. Once on the scaffold he calmly launched into a thirty minute conversation with hangman Matthew Blackburn before jumping off himself to his death.  His letters weighing some twenty-eight pounds can still be seen in York Museum. Newspaper reports at the time claimed that his body was dug up and taken to a surgeon for dissection only to be seized again and re-buried in quick lime.

The tale of our friend Mr Turpin makes a lovely little story and the difficulty of disentangling fact from fiction is near impossible.  Does it matter in the slightest ? Such is the magic and the power of the legend.  Why not drop in to Ye Old Swan dating back to the 14th century and one of the oldest buildings in the city of Milton Keynes ? Go and share a tale or two with Jack Bevan about the inn’s most famous patron.

Oh and by the way I wonder just how many of you have effigies of Dick Turpin and his illustrious colleagues sitting up on your mantle shelves ! To be the toby was 18th century criminal slang for highway robbery.  From it today we get Toby Jugs.

I was on the lookout in some fields across the river and not far from Milton Keynes. At last I came across some holes on the other side of the hedge by the side of the road and they looked like places for rabbits. So me, my brother and Billy Blunt made an arrangement to go there next Sunday.

We took ferrets in a bag and two dogs. Setting out about at about ten o'clock Milton Keynes Church bells were ringing for the main service. As we didn't want to be seen we climbed over the gate and looked about us but nobody was in sight. I took the ferret out the bag.  I knelt down at one of the holes put the ferret in then looked up to see a big man, like a great big blacksmith, standing a few yards from our backs.

We were fairly caught and expected him to ask our names for we thought he was on the lookout for poachers. We went to get the ferret back and in so doing took our eyes off him but just a moment and when we looked up he was nowhere to be seen. We ran to the gate to see if he were in the road but he had completely vanished. Old Billy was frit to death and so was my brother and I could tell you I was dead scared.

This is an unearthly encounter reported to have taken place near to Milton Keynes Village more than one hundred years ago and for certain this trio never poached again in that field! The tale was told in the local pubs and written down during the 1920’s in a little book Sketches of the Buckinghamshire Countryside.

Another story is to be told of a ghost Ole Curley who would roam the Newport Road about Woolstone in the company of a small dog. Part of the hedgerow was for many years known as Curly Bush. Curly was said to favour dark, moonlit moonless nights. Although the last time he was definitely seen was in 1850 there was a close encounter in 1919.

The story claims that a veteran of the Great War had been from his home in Woughton to Fenny Stratford in order to collect his army pension. On his return he apparently spent most of it in the bar at the Swan. Attempting a shortcut through the churchyard he slipped, fell into a bush and slumbered into a drunken stupor. More than one person thought they had found Ole Curly !

It would seem that Woughton and Woolstone have more than their fair share of spirit visitations, several people claimed to have seen a hooded horsemen ride across Newport Road in the direction of Milton Keynes Village. The crossroads there had been the site in the 16th century of a gibbet where many a poor fellow was dispatched from mortal existence.
Among these would have been the victims of Henry Turpyn, priest of Woughton Church, the local witchfinder general and seeker out of evil.

The landlord of one of the older inns in Milton Keynes went down to his bar one morning to find all the stools on the floor about the tables yet knowing they had been put on top of the tables when he locked up the previous evening.

The next night he awoke and thought he heard the television set playing. However, a closer listening revealed the sounds of a party going on in the bar and the clanking of pewter mugs on the bar tables. He declined to investigate any further !

But the area's ghosts are not confined to Woughton. Drivers on a lane between Buckingham Road and Little Horwood will be familiar with the slight dip in the road, and dip the highways Department has tried several times to remove.

The story goes that was a beautiful girl from Horwood who fell deeply in love with a young man below her social standing. Forbidden by her parents to marry, the young couple eloped one night but were chased by the angry father.  In the chase the bride's coach overturned and that on the young girl a mortally wounded. With her dying breath she cursed the spot declaring the road would never again have a smooth surface.

Fanny Leon came to Bletchley with her husband, Herbert, in 1882. For more than fifty years she made a home in Bletchley Park. She served as a JP, school governor and there was not a single aspect of the town’s business in which she did not concern herself. When she died in January 1937 Bletchley lost a dear friend and her estate was put up for sale.

Eventually the property was taken over by the secret services housing the enigma German wartime decoding machine. Now in the care of the Bletchley Park trust, the house was for many years the regional training centre for British Telecom. Staff had repeated several sightings of an Edwardian lady in full evening dress descending the oak staircase, but are perfectly certain it is Fanny Lady  Leon.

I asked someone who, as a young man, had known the Leon Family when the members lived at Bletchley Park if he thought that Lady Leon would have wanted to haunt her old home. That is put this put it this way he smiled if the old girl could find anyway to stay on a cheque up on all is happening she would do it .

If you believe in ghosts then are these the only members of the spirit world to reside in Milton Keynes ?

In the summer of 1988 construction work Wavendon Gate was temporarily suspended when builders uncovered or Roman burial remains. Do these members of Caesar's far flung empire still linger about the area and what of the Bronze Age burial mounds in Old Wolverton, Cotton Valley and Milton Keynes Village? Or the skeleton a young lady found at Blue Bridge? Or the Saxon woman uncovered at Tickford near Newport Pagnell? And what of the entire Saxon family excavated in 1990 at Shenley?

Is there any trace of their wanderings abroad now their rest has been disturbed after so many centuries? Or are such apparition nothing more than the illusions of an overactive imagination? What do you think ? Are you sure ?

At the far end of my garden there is a hedge which dates back to the eighteenth century Enclosure Act, it says within the deeds of my property that this hedge is a field boundary, it is protected and can not be grubbed out. Where my summer house now stands the land used to flood when it rained but not anymore. When my oldest son was born in 1980 I nicked a small silver birch sapling from Woburn Woods and planted in the garden. It now dominates my entire property and is known as The Peter Tree. This tree is a legend in our family, its roots have changed the land, no matter what the downpour the land by the hedge does not flood. Just as well as that is where my summer house stands.

I often wonder what the land on which my home stands was like when it was first enclosed. If the leaves on the hawthorn boundary could speak what stories could it tell. This boundary is a legend in my own home. So is The Peter Tree, I know what stories it can tell but when I am gone will others look up at the tree and wonder what legend planted it there ?

There was a time when I kept chickens in my garden, scratching near that boundary hedge one found a silver ring. My wife now wears it. Who did it originally belong to ? What stories could it tell. We moved into our home in April 1979, how long did this silver ring remain hidden until my chickens found it ?

It was not the chickens but yours truly who dug up a horseshoe in the garden, I found it near to what I believe was the area where the field entrance was. How old is it ?  Does it date back to the times of the Agrarian Revolution or is it Victorian. My home was built in the 1960’s and predates Milton Keynes Development Corporation. During World War One and during World War Two where I live was a field. I wonder what crops were grown or was it pasture. Certainly horses would have been used in the early part of the twentieth century and possibly also in the 1940’s. This is a large show, probably belonging to a plough horse. If only it could share its story.

So here are the legends within  my own property. If only they could speak what would my legends have to say ? What legends can you find in your own home ?

Joseph Maurice Ravel was born on 7th March 1975 and left us on 28th December 1937. He is perhaps best known for his Bolero. A Bolero is a slow tempo dance. Revel composed his Bolero in 1928 but I wonder how many people today had ever heard of it before 1984. It was at the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics that Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean won gold with a perfect score on 6.0 from every judge as they ice danced to Ravel’s Bolero. Nobody has achieved such a score before or after. Their performance was watched by a British television audience of 24 million people.

What has this got to do with Milton Keynes and how is it a legend ? Truth is one of the most precious things we own therefore it is only right that we try to be a little economical with it. Legend says that Torvill and Dean practiced for the dance at the rink in Milton Keynes where now stands Morrissons Supermarket.

As I write these words in June 2020 Milton Keynes is about to lose a landmark. Will that landmark once it is gone become a legend or will it be totally forgotten ? I wonder.

When Milton Keynes Development Corporation made plans for the city centre everything was to be built around three ley lines. I have talked about the ley lines of Avebury, Secklow and Midsummer in another chapter but I will refer to these important locations again as I tell this story.

On 23rd November 1985 the very first multiplex cinema in Britain opened in Milton Keynes and was located on the ley line Midsummer Boulevard. It’s architectural design was iconic so overnight it became a landmark in the New City. (Now the city that never was.)

In 1991 it hosted a royal premier of Harrison Ford’s film Presumed Innocent which was attended by Sarah, Duchess of York.  This unique cinema was named The Point after its pyramid at the front of the complex.

In the year 2000 as we entered a new millennium two things happened, two things sanctioned by Milton Keynes Council which ultimately pronounced a death sentence upon this important landmark. The ley line of Midsummer was torn apart when  a shopping centre, The Intu,  was  built across it !  In the same year Milton Keynes Council trashed the Development Corporation’s instruction that no building shall be taller than the surrounding trees, it gave planning for the 145 feet tall Milton Keynes Slug also known as The Xscape. Now serious carbon footprints upon the landscape ,The Intu and The Xscape brought about the demise of The Point.

Even English Heritage refused to support The Point and right now it is scheduled for demolition. Guess what is planned in its place ?  Another shopping centre ! I hope that the destruction of the ley line will ultimately bring about the demise of The Intu, I believe that financial administration is beckoning, and what ever folly is put up on the site of The Point.

When Aston Martin some years ago pulled down part of its complex in Newport Pagnell it sold off the bricks to individuals donating the money to Willen Hospice.  I did have the idea to try and get something similar happening when The Point is destroyed. Cut up bits of the landmark, sell them to people living in Milton Dreams and give all of the money to University Hospital Milton Keynes. I may try to engage support but I am not optimistic and am obliged to say WHAT IS THE POINT ?

The construction of a dinosaur project at the bottom of the field of Leon School was my project but the day-to-day construction and working with the kids from school was completely in the hands of artist Bill Billings, Bill who gave Milton Keynes the Peartree Bridge Dinosaur and the replacement Concrete Cows. Students who worked with Bill tell me they put a time capsule into the construction. I have no personal recollection of this happening but obviously happen it did.

Sadly the dinosaur management of Leon School some time ago expelled our dinosaur from its carefully chosen location and had it moved to the Warren Adventure Playground where it now happily resides.

So this time capsule. Was it buried in the foundation upon which the dinosaur stood ?  I don’t think it could have been, I would have known about it.  Was a hole dug somewhere near the finished giant statue once it was finished ? Possibly.  I tried to engage with the present school management but none of my communications were ever answered. I rather think, knowing Bill Billings, that the time capsule would have been put inside the structure. Sadly Bill left us some years ago so I can not ask him and my former students have not been able to tell me where the time capsule was located on that it existed. Still exists, hopefully.

So what was put into the time capsule ?  That is actually something for generations way into the future to know.

Talking earlier about my garden, the Enclosure Act boundary and the horseshoe that is a time capsule in a single item isn’t it ?  What makes it special is thinking about the item and how it allows my mind to consider all kinds of possibilities. I would like to think that my original book Not The Concrete Cows is in a way a legend and a time capsule as will be Milton Dreams The City That Never Was will be. However. tens of thousands of words take away the way in which a person’s mind can think about and speculate about, even dream about a physical item found in a time capsule.

I want to end this chapter by making a suggestion to my readers. You and your family put together a time capsule with some simple items from your everyday life. Keep it simple but make it special, very special. Then bury it, hide it away to be found in one hundred, one thousand or more years. In the twenty-first century make something which will become a secret landmark and a legend for you until it is eventually discovered.