Out in the Field with Herald chief reporter Annemarie Field: Less attitude, more gratitude

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n AS I WATCHED the public sector workers striking this week and bemoaning the fact they’re going to have to work longer, their pensions are going to be worth as much as a chocolate lampshade, they’re having to do more work with less staff, blah, blah, blah, I couldn’t help but think, welcome to my world.

Because here at Beckett Towers, like the majority of the private sector, we’ve had pay freezes, recruitment freezes, countless waves of redundancies, and everytime the axe starts swinging, I duck my head down and bless myself - thankful that I’ve still got a job.

There’s lots of people out there in the aforementioned private sector, not to mention the self-employed, working 80 odd hours a week, who don’t get paid when they’re off sick or on their holidays and there’s not much left in the pot when it comes to paying into a pension.

As I said last week I have the greatest respect for teachers as well as nurses and public sector workers and everyone has the right to voice their opinions and strike for something they’re passionate about.

But as they picked up their placards and sat on the picket lines, four words came to mind: less attitude, more gratitude.

n AND WHILE we’re on the subject of an unscheduled day off school for the little treasures on Wednesday - when, let’s not forget, lots of mums and dads had to fork out for childcare - it seems rather ironic that an Eastbourne couple were fined £100 for taking their daughter out of school to go on holiday because, due to their jobs, they were unable to get away from the office for two weeks at any other time of the year.

This child had never been taken out of school before and their holiday included the half term break. Yet the headteacher, whose decision it was, said the holiday was not exceptional circumstances and recommended penalty notices be issued to mum and dad ordering them to pay £50 each. So I phoned the county council’s education authority to find out where the £100 fine goes as to me it smacks of yet another money making racket and don’t we already hand over enough money in our council tax payments?

I was told the cash from the penalty notice goes towards issuing yet more penalty notices and taking legal action against parents who take their offspring out of school at the drop of a hat.

Maybe I am being naive but in the week when the little ones had a day off school because of the strike it seems a bit off for the education authority to be handing out penalty notices to parents for taking their children out to go on the holiday of a lifetime.

We all know how important schooling is. But on one hand we’re being told our children’ education is so important they can’t miss any time off school, yet on the other hand it’s okay for them to miss a day when the teachers go on strike. Strange lesson that is.

n CHRISTMAS began in our house yesterday when we dug our deccies out of the shed and, as we do every year, put them up on December 1.

So, seeing as it’s the season of goodwill and giving, I must mention Jurgen Matthes - he of the student organisation which brings thousands of little Germans dipped in bright yellow along with their money into the town each year - who showed the true meaning of Christmas and treated all of his host families to a lovely very enjoyable meal at Pomodoro Mozarella this week to say thank you.

It reminded me of when I took the Little Treasures to Harrods several years ago to see Father Christmas. As we queued to see the man himself, staff handed out free cookies to the children and when we got to see him each child was given a present – all at no cost at all – and it was such a lovely gesture.

I thought then as I still do now how ironic it was that it took a devout muslim like Mohammed Fayed to show us the true meaning of Christmas.

n BE CAREFUL before you buy a semi detached property if the neighbours are old.

I live in a quiet cul-de-sac in Willingdon but our tranquility has been destroyed for the last six weeks after builders began gutting a semi detached bungalow in the road, which was sold after its elderly occupant went into a home.

I know builders have to do just that and build but the banging, vibrating, drilling and hammering from 7.30am to 5.30pm seven days a week, not to mention up to seven vans arriving and parking up each day, has been relentless without so much as an apology.

It would seem that nothing can be done by the council and everybody – including those living next door to the property who are at their wit’s end, can’t hear their television above the building work going on and can only talk on the telephone if they go into their bathroom to escape the noise – just have to put up with it.

n THE LAST time I ate anything in the Wish Tower Cafe it was a sausage roll and it was yuk, like toes off a corpse so I never went back.

Until last Friday that is when I went back with council leader David Tutt to have a look at the place now that the previous incumbents have left and the keys have been handed back to the council.

And I feel very, very sorry for anyone who has eaten there in the last couple of years. Even though it has been cleaned, it looks more like an Eastern European canteen than it ever did when it was open.

It’s absolutely filthy, your feet stick to the carpet, there’s old food laying about which looks as if it came out of the ark, there’s holes in the roof, trees growing out of the walls and grease everywhere you look.

The council has got its work cut out in getting it back open in any shape or form and it’s obvious it needs hundreds of thousands of pounds spending on it.

Three things struck me while I was there. Firstly, and I must be careful as this is a family newspaper, how on earth could the tenants left it in such a filthy state. Dirty, dirty people.

Secondly, I asked the council what had happened to the fish whose home was the pond outside and am told they’ve gone to good homes and the pond has been drained.

And finally, now that it’s all boarded up looking unloved and neglected, there are plans to paint the outside with art murals. They can decorate the outside with pressed teabags as far as I’m concerned but I do want a cuppa when I get there after a stroll along the seafront.

It would be lovely if some little enterprise – like the tea and coffee kiosk in the railway centre – could set up home outside. Or what about a mini bar to blow the cobwebs? Just a thought........