Saturday, November 20, 2004

Let there be light....

Well, Morley is now all lit up curtesy of the Town Mayor, special guest Suzanne Light, a Rhino, a Crocodile, Father Christmas, two Radio Leeds presenters and surprise celeb Peter Ash who is off Footballer's wives (apparently).

It snowed specially for the ceremony and young David enjoyed being a bit of a stage door johnny, being on the stage but not having to perform.

Afterwards the Morley Lions fed & watered those of us lucky enough to get backstage and after it was all over, we wandered back round the front of the Town Hall to see the crew packing away the equipment. The snow had gone but the roads remained wet which reflected the lights rather tastefully for one or two atmospheric shots.

The usual disappointment, however, were the two Christmas trees flanking the steps- impressively big but not a bauble in sight this year.

Posing for the Press

Queen Street

A very sad Xmas tree

Monday, November 15, 2004

Christmas lights switch-on

Morley normally gets a minor celebrity to turn on the Christmas lights, in previous years it has been Emmerdale or Corry stars (lesser ones, not the major characters). There was a bit of a muddle last year when local comedian Billy Pierce was available but not asked- it seemed his website showed him as busy. We did see him turn on the Batley lights a year or two ago- after they came on the visual impact in the town square was so underwhelming that he was heard to say "did it not work?" after he pulled the handle!

There is no mistaking the Morley lights, as they are strung across the street and continue down the lamp-posts all the way down to Morley Bottoms this year, although it is a little barren in front of the Town Hall as the two large Christmas trees aren't specifically lit and the decorations don't start until well above reaching height owing to the local scratters.

We have a "celebrity with a difference" this year, a local girl who has been fighting a life threatening illness. The story can be found here at, although it may no longer be there if you are reading this at a later date.

It is a nice thought and will be a brilliant night for the aptly named young Susannah Light but there was talk of getting the Chuckle Brothers in the papers previously and whispers of not having a very big budget so I suspect it is a fallback arrangement. My 7 year old is disappointed that he won't be meeting the Chuckle Brothers and the presence of Crocodiles and Rhinos won't cut much ice with a Disney veteran. Still, as long as there are biscuits, he'll cope. To me, to you....

Sunday, November 14, 2004

You could have heard a pin drop.....

....during the two minutes silence in Morley today. As the strains of "The Last Post" by a Salvationist cornet player died away, there was a reverent hush from the large crowd in the Memorial Gardens. As time passed, I became aware of distant sounds, the muted roar of the M62, an intermittent hammering, a crow cawing, sunday league footballers swearing words of encouragement at each other....

As the coughs started to quietly erupt around the park (they are as contagious as yawns!) the bugler played "Reveille" and the spell was broken.

I'm rather fond of tradition, a couple of stirring hymns appeals to this fat old secular agnostic, as does robust vocal celebration of the monarchy. I enjoy the spirit of togetherness, but I prefer to mix & match as suits my individualist whim.

I realise I've already blogged on this, the longer one didn't show up until after I wrote this one. Programmers, scum of the earth....


I took part in the Morley act of remembrance today as a Town Councillor. This meant that I joined the parade, got to stand near the Cenotaph during the service and was able to stand on the Town Hall steps where the salute was taken.

I have participated in the Batley equivalent as a Round Tabler the previous two years & it is a very rewarding occasion. Morley has a better setting and PA system, Batley has a more enjoyable march round the town. Batley is also better drilled- the two minutes silence tends to start straight after the clock chimes, today at Morley the Town Hall Clock was chiming whilst prayers were still in progress. It was a little early but it is often a couple of minutes out, being mechanical rather than radio controlled like my wristwatch.

The silence was poigniant, despite a large crowd with lots of children present it instantly muted at the appointed time. Gradually, distant sounds became apparent. The dull roar of the motorway traffic on the M62. A crow cawing. Delicate bird twittering. A very distant sporadic hammering. The grunts & encouragement of sunday league football on distant fields. The occasional cough. As time dragged on, coughs became contagious, the hacks & wheezes seemed to spread to the point where there was always one on the air, quiet but obvious if you listened out for it.

Then the spell was broken. The salvationist who had played The Last Post piped up with Reveille, the standards were raised, the old soldiers saluted and the wreaths were laid whilst we sang the stirring but melancholy hymn "O God, our help in ages past".

I may be a born-again agnostic but I do enjoy Hymns, the old ones are the best.

Afterwards, we were served Coffee in the Town Hall, although it felt more elitist than Batley, no tables out & the public appeared excluded. The Mayor presented our three visiting Gurkhas with commemorative Mugs & badges (with the Town Crest). They looked slightly bemused and I am sure the items will cause much interest when they eventually get taken back to Nepal!

Saturday, November 13, 2004

British Telecommunications plc...faster than a speeding snail

If readers have followed my election campaign they will be vaguely aware that I engaged with BT on the subject of fixing signs to telegraph poles. They advised that my query had been passed on to the right department who would deal with my query. That was back in July so it might be moving towards the top of the heap soon.

What prompted me to remember this was the arrival of a large grey envelope/sack from BT that puzzled me for a while. It seems that it is intended for the return of equipment but it doesn't actually say what equipment they are expecting.

I used to have BT broadband but I moved the service onto PlusNet in February 2003. Here we are more than eighteen months later and they have suddenly remembered that I owe them an Alcatel Stingray USB ADSL modem. The bag turned up flat & there is no packing material provided so I imagine most stuff sent back ends up trashed.

I do still have it, although I put it up in the loft last but one summer & very nearly put it in the bin. I had a vague inclination to flog it on ebay but will now happily return it- in my own good time. Maybe I'll leave it until autumn 2005, or next time I move house.

Hopefully they will contact me complaining I haven't returned it yet. That is a conversation I will take great delight in participating in!

Friday, November 12, 2004

They don't make 'em like they used to...

I was playing Mouse Trap with the young 'un this evening. Mouse trap is the game where you construct a mouse trap using plastic parts & attempt to trap your opponent under the basket.

I don't know how long the design has been around but I can remember it vividly as a nipper back in the 60s. Whilst the construction progressed, I was trying to encourage logical reasoning for the orientation of the various parts, something somewhat tricky considering the illogicality of the construction. It occurred to me that in some ways, the design had been over simplified to the point where it was not as reliable as the toy on sale four decades ago.

Firstly, the stop sign assembly that kicks the boot that knocks over the bucket- the basic alignment is now poor and there is insufficient force to knock over the bucket other than resonances and displacement after a few attempts. Increasing the tension via the elastic band just deforms the assembly. It is marginally more visually attractive, having decals of a hand on the stop sign and a lamp on the lamp post but the boot has less mass.

The breaking down of the crazy stairs into a three piece assembly has made it more fiddly but essentially sturdy enough for purpose, provided the boot kicks the bucket correctly. A steel ball has been retained for the design, although the larger bowling ball probably has lower mass. The helping hand assembly used to be spring loaded so that the steel ball would cause it to move upwards once displaced. The current simpler design just relies on downwards displacement although the bowling ball is precariously positioned adequately enough that the sharp force causes it to roll down, despite non-intuitive mechanism in use.

When it comes to the diver, however, it has been seriously skimped. It doesn't sit comfortably on the pedestal and generally doesn't land in the diving pool in a precision backflip, instead, it clouts it as it falls short. This is enough to initiate the cage ratchet effect, however, and the mouse is invariably caught.

The piece colours have changed from my boyhood memories, I recall the crazy plumbing being red instead of yellow, the stairs being red instead of blue and the boot being blue instead of green. The rules have been enhanced (?) by the introduction of cheese pieces although all they really achieve is speeding up the end game by providing the opportunity to trap the opponent more.

As a child I thought it was a very clever piece of engineering (at least for a couple of days, when I managed to cause a structural integrity failure of the crazy plumbing). I'm delighted that MB Games still sell this, although they also made some real stinkers, such as Buckaroo! and Ker-Plunk. The latter game first wised me up to the deceptiveness of advertising, it didn't make a ker-plunk noise at all, it was more of a crash- rattle rattle. It is still going & even harder to put the sticks in in the modern incarnation.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Town Planning

I'm on the Planning Committee on Morley Town Council. It is seen as a bit of a short straw, because it meets every two weeks, come rain or shine. (Well, to be more accurate, it meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month, so we get a week off four times a year).

I don't mind planning, as I enjoy looking at architects drawings and visualising what it actually means. Fortunately, our Chairman is very thorough in keeping track of the mountains of paperwork that turn up.

The planning authority is Leeds City Council, however Parish Councils are statutary consultees so Leeds have to take our views into account before they choose to ignore us.

The Planning process works something like this.

Developers put in big schemes to build housing.
Planners complain about it.
Developers tweak schemes.
Planners still complain about it.
Repeat the above for a while.
Develops engage good lawyers.
Local authority caves in, houses get built.

Simple, eh?

Next time, the joy of conservatories.