MARK FRANKLAND

I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A HUGE THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO CAME ALONG TO SUPPORT US ON SATURDAY AND GOT US OVER THE LINE.

Monday morning. Usual routine. Greggs for fifty loaves of bread and then up the Nith valley for seventy packs of sliced ham from Brown Brothers in Kelloholm. There are two ways of making this particular journey. You can fume your way north behind tractors and trucks and curse the lack of overtaking opportunities. Or you can take the second option which takes half an hour or so longer and is worth every second when the morning is sparkling bright. 

A morning where the views are longer than long. A morning when it is easy to understand why Scotland is the most popular tourist destination on this choked up planet of ours.

Usually my back road drive gives me the chance to clear my had of clutter and sort of free wheel the miles. But yesterday there was a nagging feeling. An itch. The all too familiar feeling of waiting on the phone. And when is all said and done, what is there to like about waiting on a phone to ring?

Regular readers will know we had our fight to win a share of the Council's anti poverty money on Saturday. Many regular readers will know this for a stone cold fact for the simple reason many regular readers of this blog turned up to give us their vote. I couldn't believe how far some of you travelled to gives us your support. Bloody amazing to be frank.

The bare bones were as follows. There were twenty five charities vying to win the support of 350 voters. A lot of talking! When we packed up our stuff at the end of the day, we really didn't know how it had gone. Sure, lots of people said lots of supportive things and lots of people told us we had been their first choice. But would there be enough of them? Impossible to say. It was very much our first experience of being at the sharp end of the democratic process.

Colin, the Council guy in charge of running the thing, promised he would let us all know one way or another on Monday. So there I was. Edging around the pot holes and watching the sparkling sunlight bounce off the waters the Nith. And waiting on the phone.

Well it didn't ring all the way up the Nith valley. And it didn't ring al the way back down again.

But when I got back to First Base and cracked open my e mail account there was a message awaiting. Ahh. So the moment of truth wasn't going to come through the phone after all. No point putting it off. When you take off a plaster the best bet is just rip it, right?

My eyes scanned the screen and the key words jumped out at me.

'I am pleased to inform you........'

A wave of relief. No air was punched. No high fiving. Just relief. And only at that very moment did I realise just what a bitter pill it would have been if we hadn't made it. 15 years and tens of thousands of food parcels. It would have been tough to take if our local community hadn't deemed us worth the nod.

But it didn't happen. We got the nod. And it is certainly high time to say a huge thank you to everyone who turned out to give us the nod.

Well the relief passed and yesterday I spent several hours sawing, splitting and stacking timber. And I got to thinking just how absurd all of this is. For eight years now the most inept and brutal Westminster government I have ever known has been sticking pins into poor people because the Daily Mail demands it. And for the last eight years the likes of First Base have been scrambling to try and alleviate the misery Whitehall has caused.

And still they have the front to put on their pious faces and play the part of being the grown ups who are determined to put the country's finances in order. And for eight years their serial incompetence has seen the national debt double whilst hundreds of thousands of Brits have been thrown into lives of abject misery.

Remember the Bedroom Tax? Thankfully we don't have to suffer the infamous Bedroom Tax up here in Scotland. Thankfully our Government in Edinburgh has seen it for what it is - gratuitous nastiness that costs way more than it ever saves. Casual cruelty served up on a silver platter to satisfy the vicious needs of angry old people who read the Daily Mail and hate just about everyone.

Anyway. I digress. The Bedroom Tax was supposed to save £100 million a year. In practice it must be costing at least twice that as the tax payer picks up the tab for tens of thousands of families being evicted and parked up four to a room in run down B&B's. One star guest houses have never had it so good. You don't need to worry about TripAdvisor when the local Homeless Department ensures your 'No Vacancies' sign never has to be taken down.

What do you call it when you try to save £100 million and instead you spend £200 million? Complete ineptitude. That's what you call it. And all the while the likes of First Base have to fight to keep the poor sods the clowns of Whitehall have screwed over afloat.

HMG has recently been trying to clean up the various nuclear power stations which have run their course. Now this is complicated stuff, right? Complicated as in a half a century's worth of hyper toxic radio active waste. Not the kind of job you would really want to leave in the hands of serial cock up merchants. So they asked for companies to put in their tenders whilst trying to fix the game to make sure the cheapest bid won the day regardless of which bid offered the safest bet. Well of course they blew it. Can you seriously imagine these idiots managing this kind of complicated corruption successfully? Aye right. The cheap and cheerful outfit won the bid and the better, more professional outfit lost out and were understandably pissed off. In fact they were so pissed off they took HM Government to court and duly rinsed them. The cost of this particular ineptitude? You got it. £100 million. Oops. And now the cheap and cheerful boys are slowly but surely going bust and by the time the radioactive dust settles the whole thing will have cost us billions.

And for what? And in a desperate attempt to get even close to balancing the books they will once again heed the Redtop clarion call and continue to slam the poor. Over and over and over again. And all the while the bitter and twisted septuagenarian readership of the Daily Mail will revel in the suffering because that it is what they do. And all the while the likes of First Base will scratch and scrape for every penny whilst we make like King Canute and try to hold back the tide of Westminster uselessness.

And on and on it will go. A Groundhog Day of grinding poverty played out in a world where less than a hundred people own half of everything

But I digress from the main purpose of these words. On Saturday we had a win. And this particular win will mean we can help out 500 or so people over the next year who have had their lights turned out care of the DWP. Who have had their heating switched off care of the DWP. Who have been royally screwed by the DWP.

It is a win thanks to you guys. Saturday's win means King Canute can brace his knees and carry on with holding back the tide duties.

Not for the first time in this blog I'm going to look to 'Apocalypse Now' for a wind the thing up quote.

 Willard:   “It was the way we had over here of living with ourselves. We’d cut them in half with a machine gun and give them a Band-Aid. It was a lie—and the more I saw of them, the more I hated lies.”



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