Saturday, 23 February 2013

A Nasty Virus

Roman Snails are armed and dangerous
A highly vexatious week at Hedges Towers. First I was hit by a computer virus. Every time I tried to type, all I got was row after row of Xs. They even typed themselves regardless of me. Twitter, email, Facebook: rows of Xs. And I couldn't delete or file anything  - just got flashing lines. Absolute panic hit as I thought of all the manuscripts I'd failed to back up (as you don't), the photos of DD's wedding and other precious family events that were even now melting away somewhere in cyberspace.

Shut down the computer, and rebooted it. Still the same. Rows and rows of Xs. By now I was total despair and near to tears. Desperate enough to contemplate ringing Computer Mendy Guy on a Sunday afternoon. It was only while I was rummaging through the little box of business cards by the keyboard that I suddenly noticed the X key looked slightly lower than the others. Closer inspection revealed that it appeared to be stuck down by something which, upon the application of a paperclip proved to be ginger cake. I'm sure there are many, many lessons to be drawn from this, and I shall leave you to draw them.

The best blackberries ever.
Maximus the Roman Snail (unarmed)
On a more serious note, the flawed planning application to force an 'access road' onto our playing field, destroying an ancient bank, seven mature trees, a colony of protected Roman Snails and all our lovely blackberries, was passed by a Planning Officer, which meant it was now heading for a committee of councillors to be ratified. Once again, I was faced with the prospect of having to prepare a 3 minute speech to give at the committee meeting. Have you, gentle blog reader, ever had to prepare a 3 minute speech? I only ask because if you haven't, you probably think 'piece of cake' (possibly not ginger ..).

 I have done many 3 minute speeches since I started this campaign. They are total buggers to compose. I would actually rather write a 70,000 word novel than write a 3 minute speech. It's like one of those You-tube things where a large cat attempts to climb inside a jam jar. Trying to condense all your points into 3 minutes is almost impossible. Finally got it down to 3 minutes 9 seconds, managing to get in the cost, the illegality of killing IUCN Red Listed animals, the health and safety concerns over kids running onto a field with diggers and spoil lorries AND the fact that if we got Town Green, the council could face action in the Magistrates Court to remove the road.
This is where the road would go: bye bye little one

All the time however, I knew that, given the twisty nature of the council, this stupid application would inevitably be passed despite all the lobbying I and the many wildlife organisations backing us had done, and the wonderful support we'd had from the local press. But sometimes, unbelievably, miracles happen. Two hours before I was due to appear, suited and booted in front of the committee, a Planning Wonk put in a call. The application had been pulled. The Head of Planning was 'dissatisfied with the Officer's report'.

They are now looking at it again, and 'may include a wildlife survey'. Or they may not, of course. Who knows? No admission of error, no acknowledgement that the report had more holes in it than Gorgonzola cheese, no apology for the glaring errors and deliberate omissions. Or the stress caused to local residents. So it seems we have a brief stay of execution while they faff around and try to extract themselves with enough credibility.

While we wait, I have submitted a formal complaint to the Monitoring Officer. I am in no doubt that it  will be ignored, and nobody will be held accountable. And then, like the Terminator, they will be back. What is it with these councillors? I am loth to speculate who they have got into bed with - but I certainly know who's getting screwed!

28 comments:

  1. Hold on! Did you say blackberries? Destroying blackberry bushes is sacreligious! How dare they! Oh yeah, and the snails. Sorry, forgot about the slimy little buggers. :D
    But look on the bright side Carol. You've got your speech done! And it's not made up of Xs. No worries on that account.

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    1. When I was collecting witness statements for the Town Green Public Inquiry, all the 'oldies' remembered picking blackberries as a child. They really are part of the life here.

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  2. I sincerely think you have done and, indeed, remain to do an excellent job regarding your flawless commitment to deter an extremely flawed body of councillors from their mindless, brutal, self serving molestation of the playing area and Roman Snails therein. With this in mind and your obvious stamina and determination to provide justice for all...I hereby submit my vote that you may become Pope Carol the First...Leader of Men...Saviour of Snails... bene factum!!

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    1. Thank you. Your support means ...umm....so much.

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  3. All this, and you have stayed sane - and rightly angry.

    What is it with councillors? What is it with anyone who tastes a titbit of power? They throw their weight about because they can - like the school dinner monitor. (I wrote to our local press once suggesting all members of our council should sit on the naughty chair and not be allowed out to play until they say sorry!) Let's just hope that you and your snails bring them to their knees!

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  4. I think that you should have a cake party on the Town Green, inviting local residents to learn how to make X the spot and to have their enthusiastic distribution of crumbs to the bird and animal life of the field photographed by the local press. Produce banners saying things like: This is the spot we X! I had my first X on that X over there! Say XXXX XXX to the council! Y is the council? (This last a deeply philosophical matter.) XXXXXXXXXX = a century of Roman snails. In other words, make the campaign super seXXXXXXXXXy! After all, this is the Harpenden Massive speaking. Right?

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    1. Hahahaha. <Love these ideas. Will implement.

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  5. I think that you should have a cake party on the Town Green, inviting local residents to learn how to make X the spot and to have their enthusiastic distribution of crumbs to the bird and animal life of the field photographed by the local press. Produce banners saying things like: This is the spot we X! I had my first X on that X over there! Say XXXX XXX to the council! Y is the council? (This last a deeply philosophical matter.) XXXXXXXXXX = a century of Roman snails. In other words, make the campaign super seXXXXXXXXXy! After all, this is the Harpenden Massive speaking. Right?

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  6. Replies
    1. Yes. Most amusing. Mock the elderly cake scoffer, why don't you!! Haha.

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  7. I second your call to the Papacy! Nice frocks, bit of waving, and don't forget to duck when you get in the car. Keep up the good work. x

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  8. :) Got to watch those keys. (At least you still have all your stuff!)

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  9. Wish I had time to join your campaign, Carol. I cannot believe they are still going ahead with this diabolical plan. Don't they listen to anyone in their community? Who puts these councillors there in the first place? Whatever happened to the notion of elected officials doing what those they claim to represent have asked them to do. Grrrrxxxxxxxxxxxxxx!!!

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  10. A computer virus is like my worst nightmare! I have an external hard drive that I try to remember to use to back up my work. I also email myself copies so I have them there, too.

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  11. I like the idea of a party on the green. Could you get the local schools involved with a project on the snails for nature study and ram it right down the councils throat? You could not have done more and I for one think you're amazing.

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    1. We've alrady planned one - if wwe geet Town Green status. And one of our 'friends' in the Open Spaces/Wildlife groups will officially open the green. NOT the Town Mayor!!

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  12. Hmmm, I think I'll do a bit of backing up because you never know where the dreaded ginger cake virus will hit next! As ever, good luck with the campaign. It's a long, hard slog and that's for sure.

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    1. I once lost two whole manuscripts on my old machine because I failed to do backup. It's an utter pain, but worth it!

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  13. I once booted my work pc and was wondering why it just kept beeping at me before Windows would even load..

    Turns out that a folder on my desk was impinging the 'esc' key..

    Felt like a prize walter when one of the techies pointed it out to me!

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    1. Bevjoneswriting(search her out)thought she had a virus - turned out her plate of toast was resting on the space bar! We are ALL daft. I am much reassured!

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  14. Carol, this should have come with a health warning. It is 5.30am and I have chosen to view your blog rather than write that fusty report on South-East London directory testing ... A wise choice. First, I laughed at the XXXX - mainly because I've done something similar, although I couldn't believe such a professional cake eater would have let a crumb escape - then at the large cat squeezing in to a jar.

    I think YOU should open the Town Green - I will bring the champagne bottle!

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  16. When I looked on Wiki it said that it was against the law to disturb the habitat of the snails as they are a protected species. Forgive me for not following this tale in avid detail, but is wot they is wanting to be doin', like, therefore, like, against the law, innit, like? Or am I taking a too simplistic viewpoint (like)?

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    1. No, you are right. They want to dump earth on top of the snails - which will kill them. Except that our beloved Town Clerk somehow managed not to mention that they were there when submitting the planning application - for which I have officially reported him. Hey - who cares about rare protected wildlife when there's money to be made from developing their homes!

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  17. So sorry to hear about your computer troubles! Not fun! When things like that happen it is so frustrating. I am not sure why people create viruses. Glad you were able to solve the mystery of the X.
    ~Jess

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  18. NOT a great week, then!! Councils are often totally confusing to deal with. And dont get me started on viruses!!! Grrr......

    John

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