The Pig Yard

November 10 - A relatively quiet month after the excitement of October. We went to the theatre a couple of times but it was difficult to get out a lot because Jane was working for South Northants Council helping with canvassing for the electoral roll. Our friends Dave & Lucie returned to their lives in Kenya and Martin & Kate took off for their house in Bulgaria for a couple of weeks.


Rabi Blue

Rabbi Blue at Royal Theatre

We have been great fans of Rabbi Blue on Radio 4 Today Programme when he has been doing "Thought for the day" for many years. His archetypal Jewish humour softens our anti religious views which is obviously his intention. He is now 80 and we were somewhat amazed that he was touring with a one man show so we bought tickets for the Royal Theatre out of curiosity.

The first half of the show was the Rabbi telling stories which were in fact jokes. He apologised that his memory was no longer as good as it used to be and he did ramble a bit, sometimes groping for the punch line which was a shame. The second half consisted of him walking onto the stage and asking the audience if they had any questions for him that he would answer openly and honestly. There were some questions about his belief in God and the afterlife which he answered but Steve thought his answers were obtuse and confused.

It was inevitable that we would see the evening from different points of view. Steve was very unforgiving of his mumbling and forgetfulness whereas Jane made allowances for an eighty year old man suffering from Parkinson's disease. Steve's view was that the Rabbi was well past his sell by date and although undoubtedly a lovely man he shouldn't be trying to put on a show - it was taking money under false pretences. There is a possible connection here to Steve's decision to retire from work whilst he was still at the top of his game.

Armstrong & Miller

In the same week as Rabbi Blue we also went to see Armstrong & Miller at the Derngate Theatre. The Rabbi Blue performance and this show were at two ends of the entertainment spectrum and the distance between the two was huge.

The comedy was fast and surreal which is just how we like it. They used technology to enhance their performances and enable some ideas that would be easy on television but would be more difficult on stage.

Jane did not like the Lara Croft type video which included a dinosaur? yes it was that weird, which seemed to be appealing to the male section of the audience, real schoolboy humour sadly and not up to their usual standard ( However it did give them time to change costumes and sets). She was pleased that they actually did the dance that introduces their TV show though.


Billinghay building plot

Billinghay Building Plot

Our land search specialist, Nick, came across a piece of land in Lincolnshire that looked on paper as though it would suit our needs perfectly. The site consisted of 1.2 acres and had outline planning permission for 5 properties. The village had a post office, shop, medical centre and two pubs so it ticked all of the boxes. We decided to take a look but only Nick and Val and ourselves were available to go.

We drove up on a Sunday morning, it was cold and overcast so it would be difficult for anywhere to look at it's best. The land was very overgrown and was overshadowed by two huge grain silos and considerable storage as can be seen in the image. We took a walk around the village to get a feel for the place and it was fairly soulless with a definitely depressed atmosphere. To get a feel for this area of the country, which we had no experience of we drove through a very, very flat landscape into Sleaford. As a small market town it had potential particularly as it had a windmill in the very centre.

Needless to say we decided against pursuing this site. When Nick informed the Estate Agents of our decision the owner dropped the price down to £300,000 but even this "bargain" would entice us to change our minds. Jane was of the opinion that even if the land was being given away, free, she wouldn't want to live there.

For a more detailed review click here...

Northampton Magistrates Court

Steve spent a morning at Northampton Magistrates Court as a witness after the theft of lead from the church opposite and the school next door. Setting aside the boredom of sitting for several hours it did give him an insight into the machinations of our justice system. As a younger man he would have fought tooth and nail to maintain the UK’s excellent judicial system but maybe that view was just naivety.

Of the three thieves, who were caught by the police on site, one had already pleaded guilty and had been dealt with but the remaining two who were already in prison for other offences, pleaded not guilty in the hope that the witnesses wouldn’t turn up and also it gave them a day out from their prison cells. When in court they were informed that all the witnesses were ready to give their evidence so they capitulated and pleaded guilty. None of the witnesses gave evidence and by midday we were thanked for our community spirit and dismissed. What a waste of time and money. They received an additional 12 weeks extension to their current sentences, hardly compensation for the damage they caused to the buildings. The cynicism of the criminals is now matched by my own. So would Steve phone the police again and volunteer to be a witness if he saw a misdemeanour being committed? Yes he would because his hope for justice would prevail. 

Northampton Magistrates Court

Electoral registration canvassing

Electoral Roll Canvassing

Jane decided to take two weeks off from the surgery this month to help South Northants Council with the annual electoral registration canvassing. In the past when she has done this it meant visiting all the properties in a town or village and firstly putting the forms through each door and then following up those who don't return them. Now the forms are sent through the post and she follows up any not returned. This year she covered Towcester and the Grange Park area of Northampton.

In the UK it is an offence not to complete the registration form with a potential fine of £1,000. We have never heard of anyone being prosecuted. Some households require a second visit and this is very time consuming. Jane was paid on the number of responses she managed to get but thankfully the maximum visits was two otherwise she would have been staking out some properties waiting for people to come home. At the end of the exercise she managed to get a 78% response which she was disappointed with.

Steve has a view that this is a total waste of time and taxpayers money. If people are not prepared to fill in their registration forms then they are unlikely to vote. Take away peoples votes and see how many complain!

Rothersthorpe Village Web Site

Steve has been busy developing a web site for the parish council. It wasn't too difficult to get the name registered and hosted but he wanted to make it look as professional as possible so he had to learn a lot more about web development and he continues to learn.

Of course the key to good web design is knowing what the reader is likely to want. He received some good advice from an ex colleague who runs the County Council's web site: Who is the audience? What do you want them to do when they go on the page? What is the task you want them to complete? and What message do you want them to take away from the page? Like all good advice I haven't applied this completely across the whole site but it has made him think and he is already considering changing the home page to make it more dynamic.

Of the course the by-product of his efforts is that it keeps him off the streets or annoying the neighbours with his chain saw.

Rothersthorpe millennium sign

As sure as November comes to an end so December begins and all the preparations for Christmas get seriously underway.

Steve & Jane wish all our readers a very happy Christmas and a healthy New Year!

Animated Snowman

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