Tuesday, 17 June 2014

New story - Sockey

“So” Guy, “when did you realise that you were good at this game? asked the Sky reporter.

“It was all a bit of a serendipity really” replied my internet avatar.  I happened to accompany one of my friends from the Watford Academy to the Arsenal training ground where they were having a game. One of the Watford boys was injured and they asked me if I would like to fill in. I score two of the goals in our 4-1 win and the rest is history”.

“Tell us a bit more about the game of Sockey please. Not many of our viewers may know much about the game.”

“Well it is quite straightforward really. It is a cross between six-a-side football and hockey. There is a small leather puck and players can either hit it with a small hockey like stick, or kick it with their feet. Most of the time players use the stick, but occasionally they kick the ball when it sits up nicely for a strike at goal.”

“As you did for that second goal.  That was well struck.”

“It just sat up nicely for me so I thought I would give it a go.”

“And the next thing we know is it is all round YouTube.”

“Yes, I was lucky there was someone there videoing it.”

“So where does it go from here?”

“Well we want to develop more interest in the sport, see if it can be picked up in other countries so we can get some international tournaments going.”

“And for you, yourself?”

“Well, just improve really. It really is still early days for me.”

“Well thanks very much and good luck for the future”.

My internet avatar returned to the training ground behind him to re-join his team mates.
Unlike the Guy in the real world, the avatar not only loves sport but is good at all of them (just like his real world brother and nephews!)”

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

In praise of whistleblowers

Why do we not seem to care?
Who knows about us, what, when and where?
The NSA and GHQ
Facebook and Twitter and other social media too
I praise the whistleblower
Edward Snowden you are a star
Calling him a traitor is off the mark so far.
For spying on us all without even a suspicion
Is something that should never be part of a government's mission
Wake up and join the protest while you may
Or democracy is dead for ever and a day.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Story Episode 16

So here we were, in Cape Town at last. The flight down had been good. It is great that you can leave London at about 9 pm on a Friday night and sleep a bit until you arrive in Cape Town with a whole day ahead of you.

The hotel we are in is fantastic; a five star place quite close to the Victoria and Albert waterfront. Meeting up with Ken and Tom was very emotional for us. We were so pleased to see each other and put our dreadful experience behind us.  Considering what they had been through Ken and Tom looked remarkably well and appeared not to be suffering too many after effects. 

The first thing we did was to order a bottle of champagne; after all G4S was paying for it so why not push the boat out. In fact we ordered a second bottle as one doesn't go that far between five people!

So far we have just been enjoying Cape Town itself. We have done all the usual tourist things; Table Mountain, the V and A waterfront for nice meals - even a bit of shopping. The exchange rate is very good for us Brits right now. Everything here is very cheap for us although of course it is very tough for the locals.

We discovered that the Woolworths chain of shops in South Africa is just like Marks and Spencer at home. The range of goods and the look and feel of the stores is just the same.

We talked about the deal we had made with G4S, that is agreeing to keep quiet about what had gone on in return for this wonderful holiday. Was it the ethical thing to do?
The consensus was that G4S employees had given us a bad time. Although we had come through it OK with not too many permanent physical or mental scars we had every right to get something back from them.

I asked Ken what he thought Barclays would do, if anything. He replied that they would want to hush things up too. They wouldn't want to see anything in the press about the bank being the victim of fraudulent financial activity.  I said that the university too wouldn't want things to come out. By now the Vice Chancellor would have been told what had been going on. He would be keen to ensure that parents of current and future students didn't get to hear that one of our students had gone missing from the university for so long without any of the staff noticing.

So now you know why you haven't seen anything about this story on the news. It seems that it is in everybody’s interests to keep it quiet.

Tomorrow we plan a trip out to Stellenbosch for a visit to a vineyard or two. I am particularly fond of the Boschendal red. The hotel has also organised a drive along a bit of the Garden Route for us. Also a visit to Simonstown to see the penguins.

I am not saying that I would gladly have gone through what we did so that we could have this holiday, but the truth is we would probably never have come here but for what happened.
And Dave too has something extra to show as he would never have met Mandy otherwise.
So sometimes good things can come out of bad things and there can be a happy ending.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Story Episode 15

As we drove away from G4S HQ I felt a bit deflated. G4S were going to let the Kelly cousins go to Spain, albeit without the money they had stolen, but still free. It was, of course, obvious in hindsight that this would happen. G4S did not want any more bad publicity. I aired my thoughts out loud. Penny said it really didn't matter. What was important was that Ken and Tom were free and apparently not too badly affected by their squatter camp experience. And it was good of G4S to give them a nice break in Cape Town.

Suddenly I had an idea. "Have you got a girlfriend or partner?" I asked Dave. "Not at the moment" he replied "But why do you ask?" "You will see" I replied.

"What about Ken?" I continued. "No" said Dave "He got divorced a few years ago and he hasn't had anyone permanent since then".

I asked Penny to find somewhere convenient to stop and to let me have the mobile phone. I said I just wanted to make an urgent phone call and would get out of the car to make it.

Five minutes later I got back into the car with a big smile on my face. "I have some rather good news" I announced.  I told them that I had been on the phone to Mr. Anderson and that I had said to him that I wanted G4S to pay for the three of us to go to Cape Town for a week; to join up with Ken and Tom. Anderson was reluctant at first, but when I reminded him what bad news it would be for G4S if our story got out he readily conceded. He has asked Mandy to fix it all up for us and she will arrange everything.

I explained to Dave that the reason I had asked about whether he and Ken had a partner was because, if they did, I would try to get them included in the trip too. Dave then revealed that actually he might soon have a new girlfriend. He had been chatting regularly to Mandy on the phone since our first meeting in Crawley.

"You sly dog!" said Penny "We never noticed that".

So now we had to think what we needed for our holiday in Cape Town. I had better check the web to see what the temperature would be at this time of the year. A whole week would be great. We could go up Table Mountain, visit the waterfront, and maybe even go out on a trip to some of the vineyards. I was very excited. And actually meeting up with Ken and Tom would be much better than just a Skype call. We could take our time coming to terms with what had happened to us; and enjoy a few nice glasses of wine while doing it.

Story Episode 14

Having had what in the end turned out to be an amicable breakfast time meeting with Nathan Roberts we were now ready to make our way to G4S HQ in Crawley for our meeting with Mr. Anderson. 

We drove up through West Sussex stopping at a nice country pub for lunch. Arriving at Crawley just before 2 pm we made our way to G4S reception where we were greeted by Mandy.

She told us that Mr. Anderson was waiting for us. We should take the lift up to floor five, turn left, and look for his office which has his name on the door. We found it OK, knocked, and following his call to come in entered the room.  It was similar in size and shape to Gavin's but much more luxuriously equipped. The sofa was a nice leather one; there was a thick carpet on the floor and pictures hanging on the wall. Anderson was behind his desk in his shirtsleeves, his jacket behind him on his chair. He had a thin looking face with a rather pointed nose and he was wearing spectacles.

"Do come in everyone" he said. "Please take a seat over there on the sofa". We did as he asked and he came over to join us. 

"First of all I must give you the good news from South Africa. Our representatives over there have found both your colleagues and got them out of the squatter camps. Not surprisingly they are very confused so what we have done is to take them to a nice hotel in Cape Town. They can rest there for a bit and gradually remember who they are and what has happened to them. Also they might as well enjoy something of the good features of the country now that they find themselves there".

I said that this sounded like a good idea but asked if I could have their contact details - the address and telephone number of the hotel. Then I could get in touch; maybe even have a Skype call with them.  Anderson said of course and picked up the phone to ask Mandy to have the information ready for us when we left. He then asked if we had the folder containing the report and the other files with us. I reached into my bag and handed it over to him. He briefly flicked through the contents and then opened a folder of his own. He took out a photograph of Kelly and pushed it towards us.  "Is this the man who imprisoned and questioned you down in Dorset?" he asked.

"Yes, that's Kelly" I replied.

"Oh, you know his name" said Anderson looking a little taken aback.

"Yes" I replied "We did manage to find that out",

Anderson told us that things had moved on a bit since we had spoken to Gavin. When Gavin had told him about our visit and what we had said he had not been surprised. He said that the senior people at G4S had been suspicious of Kelly and his cousin, also called Kelly, who worked at G4S HQ dealing mainly with the banks. As soon as he was told our story Anderson had sent someone down to Dorset to keep an eye on the Kelly down there and also to keep a watch on the Kelly at HQ. When they saw that Patrick Kelly, the one at G4S HQ, had booked two one way tickets to Spain from Gatwick they decided to move in on them. We might find it amusing to know that the two men were now being held down at the prison complex in Dorset being interrogated.

I asked what Anderson and G4S intended to do with the men. Were they to be handed over to the police? "Oh no" said Anderson. He told us that would create too much negative publicity for G4S at a time when they were trying to make themselves more acceptable to the public. Once they had been fully questioned and the money recovered they would be allowed to go on to Spain. Somehow this didn't surprise me although I couldn't help saying that I was disappointed in the approach they were taking. Anderson said that he could see our point of view, particularly after all we had gone through, but that he had a responsibility to put the best interests of G4S first.   At that point I told him that we were not pursuing the two jailers down in Dorchester either and he said he was very relieved to hear that.

He then turned back to our files reading through things very carefully. I thought he might ask Dave and I more as we were there but after a while he looked up, thanked us for our help, and said that Mandy should have the information we needed about the hotel in Cape Town ready for us by now, We took that as the sign for us to leave so, after shaking hands, we went back downstairs to reception to see Mandy.