Sunday, March 29, 2009

Kippers and the new world order

So there's the G20 when as Gordon Brown put it "the world came together, to fight back against the global recession", and there's Northumberland where we're fighting it one job at a time.

This is the story of an ordinary man.
Once upon a time, there was a man (let's call him Andy,) who had two kids to look after on his own. Working as a single parent can be difficult, so he got hold of a catering van and a licence to park it in a village (let's call it Craster) and serve food. Craster is famous for kippers so he served hot buttered kippers in buns, and haggis and bacon in rolls, and home-made cranberry scones. He gave away fresh fruit to the health conscious, and dog food to dogs and those with strange snacking habits. He brought in tables and chairs for the weary to rest while they ate their haggis baps, and primroses in pots because there can never be too many flowers in the world. He worked for two years feeding the lads in the kipper yards, and the fishermen who work the harbour, and of course the walkers in woolly hats and laced-up boots. Andy made a living, not a fortune, but enough to feed the kids and feel himself a working man.

But heroes of stories never have it easy, their paths are never smooth and dragon-free. Time moved on and it came to pass that Andy rang the council (let's call it Alnwick District Council) and asked whether he'd have to tender again for his pitch. Six weeks passed as Andy rang and rang again. He got a councillor involved to find out what was going on and word came back (bearing in mind Alnwick district council was to be swallowed up in a new unitary authority on April 1st) that his licence would be extended for another year.

(Let's have a time line shall we. Let's not stint ourselves on time at least in a recession such as this.)
* On Monday March 16th, a council official confirmed his licence would be extended - there'd be no tendering. Huzzah. Huzzah. Thrice times huzzah. But wait. Oh No! Our hero is in peril yet.
* On Tuesday March 17th, another official explains the council does want him to tender. A sealed bid please to be in by Monday 23rd March.
* On Thursday 26th March at 4.30pm, an official left a message that Andy had been unsuccessful with his £1001.50 bid. An ice-cream van wins. Such a shame - Andy cannot trade past Tuesday 31st March. Game over for our working man.

And this could have been the end, would have been the end had bureaucracy triumphed, as bureaucracies are wont to do, when pitted against the Honest Joes and Andies of this world.

But what bureaucracies forget are the people they're supposed to serve. Local people outraged at the treatment of this Honest Joe sign his petition - 300 of them in a weekend, and the media gets involved to film Andy lamenting on his bagpipes (an unusual weapon of choice for a hero agreed,) and letters are written, and councillors think "Hmmm?" and an MP says "I don't think so." And there are meetings where Andy's friends (let's call them Sarah and Jeremy) explain in no uncertain terms how this hero needs a happy ending. And eventually, bureaucrats who'd said he had a "gripe", agree he has a point, a case perhaps. Andy gets his licence (the ice cream man does too). There's a new world order don't you know - thank God for the G20 is all I can say.

47 comments:

family affairs said...

Hurrah for happy endings!! What are you doing posting on a Friday night and more importantly what am I doing being the first to comment!! Lx

Di Foden said...

You see? Barak Obama can do ANYTHING.

occasional northerner said...

Quite right too. Whose car park do they think it is. I despair of local government.

Understanding Alice said...

i'm glad he got his pitch back, nie to see people care :)

MuMamman said...

I've just finished reading your book. Not only did it make me laugh, it also inspired me to start my very own blog. Thanks for your inspiration!

/Malin, Stockholm, Sweden

Alison said...

Ditto MuMamman as I read your wonderful book last year, was completely inspired, joined West Sussex Writers' Club to nurture my writing urges and then decided to try blogging for myself. Love it. Keep blogging Judith as you make me laugh out loud.

http://alisonsplanet.blogspot.com/

Raph G. Neckmann said...

How encouraging, heartwarming and inspiring!

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

We all love a happy ending.

As for G20, will someone for goodness sake tell Barak to stop putting his hands on people's backs. We've all read the body language books, we KNOW who's boss!

Miriam said...

Good on you all for standing up to bureaucracy!
As for the Obamas, I'm very disappointed to read in today's paper that Michelle is reduced to making tea- what a waste of a very clever and talented woman,when the wordl badly needs her, mimi

sunshine said...

This is the era of the populace exerting itself, and it is a lovely thing to see! Why not a second cart at the same location? We all like dessert after lunch, don't we?

Re:Michelle -- She sees her self-imposed job description to be supporting Barack in any way she can. If that involves tea, I'm sure she can do it very well. Her time to be a lawyer again is only eight short years away (please, God) -- she'll only be in her early 50's, then!!

What a lady she is!!!

Helen Romeo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Swearing Mother said...

Yay, let's hear it for Andy and his haggis baps!

John Woodman said...

A happy ending. In this case. Did you help I wonder?

The scary thought is that not everyone can get such a mass of support against council bureacracy which forgets why its there - to serve local people. Even worse, from 1 April the decision makers will not be as local.

Rebel Mother said...

Isn't it amazing what you can do when you all stand together? Andy is a credit to his children being a hard-working single parent and the local people just fabulous in supporting him! Well done to all. We have similar problems in Brighton, but with school catchment areas - but unfotunately nobody takes any notice, no matter how loud we shout!

.................................. said...

Heartwarming story. Next time I'm up in your neck of the woods I'll be sure to give him some business (probably the scones rather than the kippers).

billatbingley said...

What a wonderful conclusion to the saga of Andy! Here was a single parent trying to earn a living and get an honest days pay for an honest days work. No sponging on the State, or begging for handouts. So what does Alnwick District Council do in its Wisdom? Feed him misinformation and then try to stop him earning an honest crumb. It really amazes me that someone in authority can actually arrive at a sensible decision. But let's face it, if common sense had prevailed in the first place none of the hassle and aggravation would have needed to have been sorted out at a later date. Thank goodness that the Joe Publics were able to bring the local authority round to a sensible decision! There could still be hope for this country of ours - or am I living in cloud cuckoo land?
I note that the new unitary authority came into power on April 1st. This in itself must tell us something. Isn't the date April Fools Day?

Cath said...

And thank goodness for Sarah, Jeremy, MPs and common sense!

Honestly! I am speechless!

(Word verification = "blessem". Aaaahhh)

TexasRed said...

so glad to hear this story had a happy ending (at least for another year)

Rob-bear said...

I'm glad the story ended well.

As for the bureaucrats, sometimes the thing they need most desperately is a swat in the head with a cricket bat -- physically or metaphorically. Same applies on this side of "the pond."

Claire said...

Hurrah! I have tasted those haggis baps and they're fantastic and something I associate with Craster. So glad that everyone managed to persuade the council into seeing sense

More than Just a Mother said...

More power to the people! An excellent moral.

"Moaning Mum" said...

It seems the world is rife with 'New World Order' stories these days. Recently an x-ray technician took me aside and confidentially informed me that the end of the world was nigh and I had better watch out...apparently due to the G2O meeting kicking off something 'huge' this year (though she wouldn't tell me what). Why do these things always happen to me? :)

Helen Romeo said...

Talking about new world order, anyone up for a very female story of pre-credit crunch wealth, domesticity, marital problems, desire, friendship and more? Serialised now at: http://theprodigaldiaryofaprivateschoolmum.blogspot.com/ (Sorry about abusing the platform, Wifey, but one has to have initiative! 1000 thanks

Helen Romeo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Helen Romeo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Helen Romeo said...

Sorry folks I seem unable to get my computer to function tonight! Anyway, great disgust re. people like Fred the Shred of RBS and his misery greed, and great joy to read about ordinary people with extraordinary strength and integrity (of whom Obama was also one before he became 'extra-ordinary') - come to think of it, wifey, you've got much of that inner strength too...

Sally Morten said...

Didn't he do tea? lol

piperspitch said...

After a long, long week and many sleepless nights Alnwick District council, that was, have re-issued my licence. As you can imagine I am absolutely delighted. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support given - over 400 names signed the petition, 30 letters of protest and support and many e-mails from customers nationwide plus Canada and Australia. 3 people in particular (one of whom I’d never met) acted immediately, selflessly and in a professional manner giving a huge amount of their time, knowledge and clout, so that the Council had to sit and listen. Without them and without you I could not have achieved this fantastic outcome. What have I learned about all this? People do matter and people do care, from all walks of life we all pulled together supporting each other to make a difference in somebody's life. That life is mine and I shall be forever grateful and won’t ever forget what you have done.

Sandra Montgomery said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
cheshire wife said...

Good that this story had a happy ending but I fear that Gordon Brown will not be so lucky.

Helen Romeo said...

wow! piperspitch, was that you?! What an inspiring human story. No-one has the right to take someone's hard-earned and greatly sweated-inspiration and initiative translated into graft,away from them least of all for pointless red tape/administrative quango. Hurrah! may there be others saved by collective empathy at the last minute. Anyone who'd like to help me surmount my creative block and frustration welcome, too: http://frustratedstay-at-homemum.blogspot.com/ Best of luck to you and to all, Bless you!

wife in the north said...

I think the deleted comment on Obama was open to misinterpretation, so I'm erring on the side of caution here and deleting.
Happy Easter everyone.

mutleythedog said...

Thats much the same as my life except I had black puddings, latex underwear and the Masons to contend with. Otherwise the same...

davidtbreaker said...

Something with a happy ending at last! Although it's more like pushing someone in the water then saving them than actually saving them.

David T Breaker
http://newsjunction.co.uk

Sandra Montgomery said...

It was supposed to be tongue in cheek, dear.

AND, if the last line was what you claimed then it would have been worded 'to those who run the national banks and TO Obama'. Without the TO then it was to mean those who run the national banks and are running Obama.

Grammar is everything.

AlisonK said...

I had no idea about any of this! Thank goodness sense has prevailed. I too have been an extremely satisfied customer at this van and would have been very upset if it had gone for ever, especially in such a ridiculous manner.

Hope it will be there first week in October, which is when I'm next due to be in Northumberland. Hope the summer proves lucrative.

sunshine said...

Sandra, I do thank you for your clarification, dear. I, too, am a fairly strict grammarian.

I dedicated two years of my life, and a lot of money I don't have to get this man elected President. He gets more death threats, daily, than anyone else ever has. Those of us who love him live in constant fear of someone succeeding.

When "Obama" and "death" are used in the same sentence, somehow my tongue just cannot find its way to my cheek. I hope you can understand that for some of us, objectivity just is not possible on this issue.

mutleythedog said...

I like to put my tongue in other peoples cheeks... ahem.

Helen Romeo said...

Talk about new world order, check out the can of worms being opened on: http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/
Is expressing opinions virtually safe any more?!

Carol said...

So glad that common sense and fairness won the day. Watched the item on the local news ( am another southerner relocated to the tranquility of Northumberland!) Small minded politics trying to ruin small businesses. Great to see people rallying around in support.

ladythinker said...

And I hope it was a happy easter break for you and yours ...

Mimi said...

Guess what? I've just found your comment left on my first blog 6th Sept 2007!I searched for that blog several times after my son helped meset it up, could never find it! Luddite or what!
Thanks you for leaving it, and obviously I didn't keep up blogging. Have now started a new one, but will investigat merging the 2, as I prefer the old name. Hope all's well with you, mimi

sexy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
lakeviewer said...

This is precious! Hurrah for the little man.

Retiredandcrazy said...

Lest we forget......government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Mopsa said...

Just the thought of a haggis bap makes me yearn to be standing by that van...what a brilliant, yummy idea. Two please!

lou said...

Good for Andy and his baps (and the ice cream man)!