Fanning the flames….

  
The other day in London, a tower block in the west side of the city caught fire, trapping several people inside, and even more regrettably, leading to the deaths of several others.

Tower blocks were built in the 1960s in the UK, mainly for families on low incomes, in other words, social housing. This was the way forward, it was claimed. I’m not taking any political sides here, as governments of all persuasions have failed in their duty to build safe social housing.

Yes, let’s be like America, we said back in the 1960s. Let’s build 20 storey blocks and herd people in there. Let the social deprivation spread. Let the dangers of fire spread. Death traps.

I can quote some examples. I used to live in a tower block for the first six months of my life. Of course, I didn’t realise how dangerous they could be. I’ve seen some shocking tower blocks in my local area, thankfully, demolished and other builds, such as prefab or bungalows built instead. Tower blocks are an example of the deprivation that exists in all parts of the UK. People deserve better to live in proper social housing, with the appropriate safety checks and balances in place.

Tower blocks were built with asbestos. Asbestos was a fire retardant. Then the authorities realised that asbestos was a danger to people’s health. So they did away with asbestos. Very little fire retardant materials exist in modern day tower blocks. It’s a catch 22 situation. The terrible events of the other day in Kensington bring home to those who rule, that safety should never, ever be compromised.

The aftermath? Lots of anger, fear and disillusionment, especially over the failures of the local council on safety checks, and of the national government’s inaction. 50 odd years we’ve had, 50 odd years of problems with social housing. “They have to live somewhere” goes the refrain, they presumably meaning the less well off. But that doesn’t stop them being treated appallingly badly and herded into a high rise death trap that, inevitably, will turn into an inferno.

What now? Public inquiry. But that is not going to placate the anger of the residents of Grenfell Tower and it’s surrounds. The people who perished cannot be brought back. But answers need to be provided. The provision of safety and the provision of decent social housing is surely worth more than penny pinching and profiteering, or am I missing something. Tower blocks are a shameful indictment of how the poor are treated in the UK. Unless something is done, that indictment will stand for a very long time.

Allen Brooks xx

Hot pants…..

Before you think I’ve gone all risqué, read on.

Good morning. It’s a cracking morning in London. The sun is beating down and it’s hot already, even at 9 in the morning. I wish I could sound a little more enthused, but again, I’m in the middle of another panic attack. Except this time, I’ve gone out rather than staying in.

Off to volunteering at the cafe, you see. But waking up at 7.30 and getting ready, my breathing was already starting to feel shallow and I was starting to think of reasons not to traverse out of the front door.

It’s like a feeling of dread. What is in store for me? Well I was about to find out. Yet another bus fare dodger wanting a free ride. Having already witnessed this excuse for a human being spitting on the floor near me, I already had my mind made up. Not again, I thought, as he argued with the driver. The driver this time, was a lot more conciliatory than hitherto, and so the ratbag was allowed to travel. Not good for my state of mind. 

It’s getting hotter, I’m struggling to breathe properly, hence the blog title of Hot Pants. On the station platform, just trying to stay calm and focused. Not easy. But I managed it. I’m on the air conditioned train recalling my experiences thus far today.

I’m quite proud for not turning back. I could have done. Indication of my jittery mind that I could have stayed indoors on a glorious June morning. But I didn’t take the easy option. I’m on the way to see my erstwhile colleague, and hopefully to relax a little more.

Anxiety and panics? You think it’s easy to deal with? No, it isn’t. Sometimes it can be a real ordeal, even doing something quite straightforward. What is there to worry about? Nothing at all. But try telling that to my mind that is racing in a hundred different directions. 

1……2….and breathe

Allen Brooks xx

More bus pain…followed by some great Peer Support

Love buses. I really do. Enjoy travelling round on them. I’ve had so much ill luck with them recently that I carry a four leafed clover with me. Today was no different. 

To get from the station to the work office takes about 6-8 minutes. Usually. Today wasn’t one of those days. An accident and some roadworks saw 6-8 minutes turn into nearly an hour. I wasn’t pleased. Walked into the office and stomped around like Mr Angry.

But that was all to dissipate as the Peer Support group got under way. Due to the love and the great camaraderie of the group, the anger subsided and I thoroughly enjoyed the group. It was great fun.

Now, I’m relaxing before the music bingo. There’s little chance of staying up for the election results, so I’m just going to go all out and enjoy the evening. There’s no point getting annoyed about things you can’t control. I realise that. But the not moving for what seems like hours gets my goat. Still, that’s history now and we move on.

Looking forward to tonight

Allen Brooks xx

Bus jinx?

Well I seem to be at the moment. It’s a never a dull moment when I get on a local bus it appears.

There was the case of the driver going the wrong way earlier this year. Last week we had a stand off between the driver and two passengers over a non payment of a fare, immediately followed by a shouty woman sitting right behind me on the bus home deafening my delicate ears!

Coincidence or bad luck. Well today we had another example of just plain idiocy, this time by two bus drivers trying to bypass each other on a narrow local road. Ten whole minutes went by, nothing moved until the driver of my bus decided to reverse. Still no reaction from driver on other side of road. I was about three quarters of a mile from home. I should have walked.

After this farce had ended, our same driver then tried to get past a lorry on the other side. Cue more standstill and dimwittedness. Ok, it was the same time when the local school was turfing out their kids to be collected, but a simple 5 minute trip from one end of the road to the other took nearly 30. All because of a lack of common sense. Also, the driver of the bus decided to sit at a stop for 5 minutes for no apparent reason earlier on in the journey. If he got his arse into gear, the following pantomime would have been avoided.

I think I’m a bus jinx. Time to either walk everywhere or buy a car…..the world is a mad place at times.

Allen Brooks, finally home xx

Sofa….so good…

A quiet Monday. Not a lot happening, except this. The wonderful landlady of the pub I frequent has got an old sofa to get rid of. I took a look at said sofa the other day and it would look rather decent in my front room. 

I thought it had been forgotten about until I got contacted this morning. I certainly do want the sofa as somewhere else to park my ample backside on. I got rid of my old one as it was falling to bits, just good enough for a bonfire. All there is in the room is a chair as far as furnishing goes. So now I have a sofa ready to be collected on Friday. Result. 

There is a nice side issue to this story. The landlady of the pub is one brilliant human being. She got in touch over the weekend to give me some encouragement while I was not all that well. She will do anything for anyone, a real people person. She remembered me as I was interested in the sofa, and got in contact. That’s why I love that pub and the friends I’ve made there. The music bingo night restarts again after a break this week and I’m raring to go and win a bit of cash! 
It’s what I call a spectrum. A spectrum of kindness. From one end where people are warped enough to terrorise others (London twice and Manchester in recent months) to the end I prefer, the one where people are kind and considerate, and look out for others. That’s the British way, no doubt. 

Allen Brooks xx

Race to the Bottom….

Another week goes by, with yet another terrorist attack on UK shores, this time in London. 

Don’t the politicians who think they’re serving the public, really get it? I mean, taking part in ludicrous, pointless war is only fuelling the warped and depraved acts now occurring with frightening regularity.

Governments are meant to be protecting it’s people. They’re not. Countries citizens are being left vulnerable, time after time. After each attack, we hear the same words of condemnation from the same people. And what does that do? Nothing it seems. The killing on both sides goes on, unchecked and unabated. 

So, it’s a race to the bottom. Nobody in this world wants to get on, nor wants to live peacefully. The bombs will continue to rain down, the cars will still be driven at innocent bystanders, the blood on the hands of those who rule us. War solves nothing. It just causes more war. We have the war now in this country, the war on the streets. The world is a scary place. But those who rule us continue to bury their heads in the sand. While that happens, more people will die, it’s that simple. 

Terrible, terrible world.

Allen Brooks xx

Biblical deluge…

Though I hate thunderstorms, the one that this part of London has just experienced this afternoon has been quite spectacular.

Enormous claps of thunder, dark clouds producing a sepulchral gloom, followed by a biblical deluge that lasted for about 30 minutes. Torrents of rain lashing down after a hot and oppressive day. It does freshen the air up, and with a little bit of hay fever starting to clog up my nose and throat, a storm dampens down the pollen and makes the air more pleasant to breathe. 

I think the idiots on the buses last night could have done with a bucket of freezing cold water chucked over them to calm them down, but then it would have been a waste of good water. Just an observation!!!

Allen Brooks xx