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SON OF GRIDKNOCKER last won the day on September 21

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    It never rains, but it pours at Plough Lane office

    I am full of admiration for Ragwert's investigative skills, but if Colin has any more job vacancies I think he should appoint Cambo as this site's Roofing Cost Consultant.

    Herefordshire Council Choose 'Red Route' for the Western Bypass

    The admirable George Monbiot, writing in The Guardian about the proposed £multi-million super-expressway which will connect Oxford and Cambridge and which has already been waived through by the toothless Infrastructure Commission:- "A recent study by the Campaign to Protect Rural England has shown that, far from relieving congestion, new road schemes create new traffic. But the treadmill must keep turning. Bypasses must be bypassed with new bypasses; new jobs must be created for the people living in all the new homes which will be built alongside the bypasses. Growth must continue until it destroys everything it claims to enhance." The man should be the next Prime Minister!

    It never rains, but it pours at Plough Lane office

    When I see the figure of £249K in any context, I put on my Dudley Moore nasal voice and say: " 'ello (sniff-sniff). Fu...nny!" Who do these people think they are fooling ffs? The council's prestigious Plough Lane Palace was originally the purpose-built headquarters and heart of the Bulmers empire. It was no architectural masterpiece, I grant you, but no expense was spared on its construction or fitting out. Since they acquired it, HC has been throwing money at it, internally and externally. So the news that close on a quarter of a million pounds now needs to be spent on fixing a leak in the roof makes me wonder whether "...there is something rotten in the state of Denmark."
  4. The surviving blast walls which AV refers to are perhaps the most poignant reminders of what went on at Rotherwas and of the minimal safety conditions there. Many of the ancillary operations connected with the munitions output (such as the preparation of fuses and detonators) were, in fact, performed in flimsy timber sheds - not unlike cricket pavilions - by small gangs of women, wearing virtually no safety equipment whatsoever. Hard hats? Don't make me laugh - contemporary site photos shows the headgear worn as not dissimilar to a maid's cap. So what was the purpose of these blast walls (huge 3m-high vertical slabs of reinforced concrete flanking all the sheds? If there was an accident and an explosion, only one gang of women workers would get blown to smithereens!
  5. "The Shell Store is not a Listed building." Quite correct, though Mr Manning Cox might have given it its correct title: "Shell Filling Store", since it was here that shells were hand-filled rather than stored. This next bit is probably apocryphal, but nevertheless worth a fresh outing. It seems that a group of Sir Humphreys up in Whitehall got to hear of the perilously fragile state of the old Shell Filling Store. An internal memo was duly sent to the Sir Humphrey in charge of listing significant historic buildings, who dispatched one of his minions down to Rotherwas. Sadly, said minion came armed with an inaccurate OS reference for the huge building; instead, wandering into some scrubland immediately to the east of the Shell Filling Store, where he happened upon an insignificant cluster of brick-built sheds, which a local farmer was keeping chickens in. This was the Picric Acid store, located away from the main Rotherwas munitions complex because of the acid's volatility. The minion duly listed the chicken coop!

    Jean Claude bloody Juncker.

    Anyone else here heard the term ‘Reverse Ferret’? Very complicated and said to have been coined by the legendary Sun Editor Kelvin McKenzie. Why ferrets? Insufficient space to go into that, but it is an obscure reference to the bizarre habit some northerners are said to enjoy from stuffing live ferrets down their trousers while intoxicated in local ale houses. So a reverse ferret, according to McKenzie, is to do the complete opposite. Are you following? Do try to keep up please! Two weeks ago, after dim-witted David Davis quit as Her Majesty’s Lord High Convenor for Getting Us out of Europe as Painlessly as Possible, Mrs May appointed someone called Dominic Raab to the post (no, I’d never heard of him either) and promptly dispatched him to Brussels to have a face-to-face meet with that smug, self-satisfied Monsieur Barnier, knowing that the bottom line in all these protracted negotiations is what is laughingly termed ‘the Divorce Bill’: a £39-billion tab which that old soak Juncker has described as “the price you must pay for leaving the EU Club.” So, employing McKenzie’s Law, why doesn’t Haab simply do a Reverse Ferret, telling old Barnier: “Sorry chum, but we ain’t paying the bill. See you in court!”

    Lost Opportunity

    It is probably fair to say that over the next eight days of the Three Choirs Festival, more people will admire the front elevation of Hereford’s 144-year-old City Library on Broad Street than at any other time of the year. This handsome Grade II-listed building, overlooking Cathedral Close, has just undergone a second emergency building operation. Two years ago it was dreaded asbestos removal. This time it is the steeply-pitched slate roof that needed fixing (‘joined-up-writing’ has never been practised at Plough Lane). But when the huge and costly (probably no change out of 30K) scaffolding structure was removed just four days before the festival opened, keen-eyed conservationists noted that the 10 stone gargoyles which line the roof’s parapet had been left uncleaned and are seriously stained with grime and algae. The decorative friezes which run across the four-storey building’s main façade are also intricate and unusual. And filthy. Using the existing scaffold platform, an extra two days expert water washing could have restored these unique carvings in time for the City Library’s 150th anniversary celebrations. That’s if Harry Bramer hasn’t sold it off as multi-storey car park.

    New Cyber Security Centre Rotherwas

    If you had told me this was a Russian KGB Torture Centre on the outskirts of Moscow, circa 1970, I'd have believed you!

    Change at the Council

    Anticipating the confirmation of King Bobby's appointment, Silly Name-Making Consultants inc (formerly Cambridge Analytica) have come up with: Director for Smiley People, Tree-Huggers and Feel Good Environments. Hoople has been commissioned to design a logo to go on all public toilets (currently closed), bus stops (services suspended due to the heat wave) and litter bins.

    Change at the Council

    May I formally propose that Bobby 47 be appointed HC's new Director for Economy and Place. £140k per annum is but a drop in the ocean for the breadth of intellect that this man will bring to the job. Apart from anything else, on his first days work at The Plough Lane Palace, King Bobby will be able to bring in a firm of Silly Name-Making Consultants, with the specific commission of dreaming up an even more absurd (and gramatically-impossible) title for this non-job than Director for Place & Economy.

    Capital investment recommendations to be considered by Full Council

    I know we shouldn't get too excited ('many a slip twixt cup and lip': that all saying is never truer than when it comes HC and spending money), but for me the good news in this announcement is para 6: viz extra money has been found to rescue the perilously-fragile structure of the old Shell Filling Store at Rotherwas.

    Choss & Haverick

    Voice followers of a certain age will know that this one is in the BBC Archives as one of the best bloops of all time (it was actually a tongue-tied bystander, attempting to describe the mayhem after a motorway pile-up). He probably was searching for 'chaos and havoc' but his brain unscrambled the syllables. Anyway, the train services yesterday between Bromsgrove and Hereford were choss and haverick, due to the warm weather, with unventilated relief coaches managing to convert the 1 hour train journey into a 5-hour nightmare. Failing Grayling has a lot to answer for.

    Oswin & Co

    @adamski: absolutely correct; my apologies for this oversight. I am sure that it will be fully booked for the Three Choirs Festival. Sorry.

    Oswin & Co

    It breaks my heart every time I walk past the Green Dragon to see the way it is going downhill. Time was when it was one of the jewels in the old Trust House group (before Charles Forte got his hands on it). Most English cathedral cities have one prestigious hotel that visitors can head for - whether to eat in or stay overnight. Except poor old Hereford!

    Violette SZABO GC

    I hope to attend as this brave woman has long been one of my heroines. At the time that the Old Market development was being planned by ESG Ltd - and years before a brick was laid - I wrote to the development company's chief executive with the suggestion that a statue of Violette Szabo should be commissioned by Herefordshire Council, and that part of the scheme should be called Szabo Square. I never even received a reply! To the best of my knowledge there is a small bronze head-and-shoulders of her located somewhere on the London Embankment, near Lambeth Palace. If HC would care to reconsider my suggestion, I would happily make a contribution to a Memorial Fund.