You Cannot Run a Public Service Like a Business, and Here’s Why…

This article is unashamedly stolen from “Scriptonite Daily” and all credit must go to the author at that site.


One of the greatest myths of our time is that public services can be made more efficient if we run them as businesses.  The commercialisation of our public services has been a manifest failure, and the response offered by the mainstream parties is that we simply haven’t commercialised them enough. What they fail to understand is that a public service and a business are inherently different beasts and asking one to behave as the other is like asking a fish to ride a bicycle.

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So farewell, Sweet Warwick …

It’s not every day of the week that you blow a bass amp. So it was a bit of a shock when, towards the end of what had been a great gig at the Britannia in Southend-on-Sea with Collibosher, that there was suddenly no sound from my bass amp half way through the second encore! A later examination from Jeff’s dad, somewhat of an expert in the field, revealed that the speakers had blown and short-circuited everything else, leading to a totally dead amp with a very uneconomic repair.

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Modding my Bass Guitar part 2

Updated 23rd-24th June….

I wrote the other day about the modifications I made on my Fender Jazz Bass. Yesterday, I took my friend Robben to see it, for a more extended look. The first time I took it to the basement where Collibosher rehearses, I thought it was good but to be frank I was just relieved that it all worked after the money I’d spent. Let me digress on that one for a moment. The guitar has now cost:

  • £150 to actually buy it.
  • £26 for a set of Rotosound Tru-Bass Black Nylon Flatwound Strings
  • £205 for the stuff from Audere after import duties and postage.
  • £78 for the replacement pickups.

That’s £459. So I guess the real test is: did the cost justify the result? Well, co-incidentally, £459 is a typical price of an Ibanez SR500 bass, and Robben has one. So her opinion is very valuable. And she fell in love with the strings so is thinking about adding them on hers! Though maybe at the next change….

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Arise Sir Brendan!

Or: How even a Trade Union leader can get a knighthood under the Tories.

Just to prove that they’re fair, our ConDem government has knighted a Trade Union leader. For looking after the needs of Trade Union members? Well, you judge:

Brendan Barber, former General Secretary of the TUC, is now Sir Brendan Barber. His lifetime of “services to employment relations” has been rewarded. As an ordinary Trade Union member, I was hard-pushed to know exactly what services these were.

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Modding my Bass Guitar

I was getting increasingly frustrated with my bass guitar. Lovely Fender Jazz Bass though it is, beautifully resprayed in electric blue, there was a problem – despite the lovely bodywork, every so often it would sound out of tune even though it wasn’t. You could hear how nice and clean the strings sounded when plucked, with no amp, in a quiet room, but not necessarily through the amp. It never went out of tune, though, unless I knocked a machine head, and the action is very nice.

One thing about my bass, is that it had once had an active unit in it. There was an unused battery box and an extra output socket (which was wired wrongly so couldn’t be used). Hums, pops and clicks were the norm, and occasionally a very loud hum cured by fiddling around with the lead in the socket. Clearly, at some point, the owner had taken out the active stuff for another bass, and put in a passive unit and cheap, non-matching pickups. And didn’t make a very good job of it.

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A lot’s been happening!

How do you sum up the last month or so? It’s been crazy to say the least! Where to start?

After over 39 years in my job, I decided to take retirement, 8 months short of my retirement date. This was not an overnight decision, but one that I had been thinking about for a while. I’ll be a free man come October. Obviously going early means that, instead of 8 months’ wages, I get 8 months’ pension, which is at a reduced rate (for life) because I took it early, but I can honestly say that I value my sanity above financial matters. And I think I’ll be OK.

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Vote Left Unity in PCS Elections!

PCS Members will be receiving a ballot paper for their union elections around now. Many members organised into groups (departments) will receive two ballot papers, the second for their group executive committee. My group is the DWP so I receive the following two:

  1. The National Committee
  2. The DWP Group Committee

I support the Left Unity group. There are, of course, other people standing. There is a group that says that the current Left Unity leadership is not hardline enough. There are others that say that it is too hardline! The “Independent Left” group bases itself on members who are impatient and aren’t prepared for the less militant layers to catch up. I suspect that an IL leadership would be very militant on paper, but in practice, would lead very few struggles because the bulk of members would not follow them. They tend, as a group, to come in third in these elections. In my view they should throw in their lot with Left Unity, both groups want to fight back against what this Government are doing, and the differences are mainly over tactics, something that could be resolved.

The group who have been coming in second are the so-called “4TheMembers” group. In my view they should be called 4TheManagement. One of their leading lights has tried to undermine every action our union has taken over the last few years, circulating stuff criticising the union, with the tacit support of management. Their view is that members don’t really want to fight back, and that the union should do its best to negotiate what little it can. The problem with that is, management won’t give us anything. We have to take action to get any gains or concessions at all!

When 4TM are saying that, as a union, we are too militant, and IL are saying that we are not militant enough, I tend to conclude that Left Unity has got it about right. It’s not about taking action as a knee jerk reaction, nor is it about rolling over and playing dead. It’s about a leadership that picks and chooses our battles wisely, and in a way that takes members as far as they are willing to go, in order to get the best agreements possible.

It’s a hard struggle. Vote for these candidates for a union that continues to fight for your interests!

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Back Home, More Illness, and a more welcome Death

Back home from Malta, had a great weekend. Got a few songs in at the Karaoke and a huge applause for my first ever attempt at “Here Comes The Night”. And after the long Easter Weekend returned refreshed to work on 2nd April. Had a quite easy, stress-free day at work which is unusual after such an absence, but still managed to wake up sick the following morning. I had all this around June last year, one thing after another, and here it was again. I felt better on Sunday but by Monday it was back to square one. Monday the 8th April 2013. A day that started badly until ….

Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead

I was chatting on line to a friend when she told me that Thatcher had died. I had to start checking every news source, and they were all confirming it. The woman that had led a huge change in British Society, where our communities had been replaced with individual greed, the whole culture of “I’m all right Jack, sod everyone else” had started. It had shamefully continued under the government of Tony Blair PM. An anagram of Tony Blair PM is “I’m Tory Plan B”. And so it proved. Monetarism, privatisation, attacking the conditions of workers, putting people out of work, whilst all the time transferring huge amounts of money from the poor to the rich, it had all started with Thatcher.

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Bronchitis, Holiday, and the Death of a friend.

I woke up Friday 1st March feeling very tired and groggy – I wasn’t breathing properly, and decided to phone in sick. To be fair I thought I’d be back on Monday, and by the end of the day I was feeling much better. I even joined in the Karaoke at my local – a first! I had never been in there before, the place is supposed to be dead rough and nothing but trouble. But appearances can be deceptive. OK one bloke fell over drunk whilst trying to leave the pub, but actual trouble? Nope. OK the people there weren’t exactly fashion victims, but then neither am I. The only thing that really bothered me is that, when I sang “Handbags and Gladrags” there was a slight feeling of discomfort in my throat.

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Not posted for a while! Scattershot summary…

I was looking back at this site, something reminded me of the last thing I wrote in October and I realised that I hadn’t posted anything here since! Oops! So, what’s been happening?


Well loads really. Quite a few of my posts were about the relationship I was in at the time. I stopped writing about it. Although I kept her identity off this page, she asked me not to write about her any more. And I respected that. I will summarize that phase of my life to say that the problems kept recurring. There are times in your life when you realise that the easy way forward actually leads you onto a circular path and you end up back in the same place. Sometimes you have have to make harder decisions and I made one. That finished in November 2012.

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