Written by tjmstroud
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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Dear Constituents

I have had a most hectic weekend.

Saturday morning saw me having to get up at the crack of dawn to attend the local Farmers market where I was booked to stand behind a rickety decorators table covered with a cloth to support the RSPCA. Why these country people get up so early on a Saturday I don't know. Neither do I understand why some people prefer things covered in fur more than their own kids.

And they over feed them, too. I could solve Africa's famine problem just by shipping out the tins of dog and cat food on Tesco's shelves. It looks and smells pretty tasty to me and with a bit of care I reckon anyone could make a tin last a week. But I suppose there's more money in feeding cats and dogs. I'll be writing on the theme of "pets" at some stage.

But I did my bit for the RSPCA, got there promptly at 11am and stood behind their table handing out a few leaflets whilst watching some who clearly voted for the opposition candidate pass by, in total disinterest at the plight of our sick and badly treated animals.

And yet, despite their refusal to vote for me, these passers-by still receive the full benefits of the National Health Service for their own ailments. Perhaps they would prefer it funded through charitable donations and the proceeds from second hand shops. I might sway a few votes by claiming that this is the opposition candidate's opinion.

The only problem on Saturday morning was the competition from the table run by the Cats Protection League and a middle aged woman wearing a knitted shawl and loose, furry boots who deposited bundles of glossy Green Party leaflets on the table when I was temporarily distracted. I last saw her in a long skirt disappearing down the High Street. Those leaflets must have cost a fortune and I'm highly suspicious about how they were funded. I'll be asking some pertinent questions about that. Also, the paper was non-recyclable, which was in complete conflict to their stated policy. I always insist on recycled paper for my leaflets. When my photograph is printed on recycled paper, it enhances my masculine, swarthy look designed to evoke a feeling of trust, experience and deep gratitude to those who voted for me.

By the way, I'll be discussing recycling and waste management as a theme in future communications.
I have strong opinions on this since I was told I could no longer put shredded waste paper and banana skins from my constituency office into the wheelie bin belonging to the House at No 63.

Meanwhile, if any Green party members read this, please note, I'll be using carrier pigeons to return these leaflets to you. This will be to save on fuel. Although, judged by the quantity of leaflets, I'll probably need a flock of them.

But there's no need to send the birds back - they get through more fresh grain than your friends in the local farming community can possibly replenish over the summer months. Instead, I suggest you wring their scrawny necks, roast them and bring to next week's farmers market as local produce. Use a local sage and onion stuffing and serve with local Bisto gravy.

By the way, a future theme will be farming and food supplies but that will be after my thoughts on genetic engineering and depleting fish stocks.

But let me return to my busy weekend and the theme of public transport. The only reason I got to the farmers market by 11am was because I didn't use public transport. Let me describe the scenario in the Kelp household so that you know how comfortable you'd feel in my home if ever I invited you.

Rise at 9am, check Blackberry, bath, shave, dress, check appearance in mirror, prepare and eat breakfast cooked by Millie the cleaner who fries decent crispy bacon as well as washing up. All this is done whilst watching BBC News 24 for an update on the Euro and BBC Parliament in case I was visible on the second row of the benches. Then a final check on hair and complexion in mirror, touch up if necessary, pick up Blackberry, check messages once more and then phone Anthea from privacy of my study.

By the time I'd done all that on Saturday it was almost 11am and I was overdue at the RSPCA table.
So, what should have done? Go and stand at the bus stop, wait for the next one which may or may not turn up depending on how many sick notes came in to the bus depot manager that morning? Or should I take the car?

It was quite clear. The decision was to get Charles to bring the car to the front door and drive into town. What's more he can drop me right in the middle of the pedestrian-only area and reverse down to the main road to wait until I call him.

But let me revert to my aversion to public transport.

Trains are a necessary evil. The particular evil is that French woman, Mrs Delloitte. She sat in my seat twice this week and I think it's now deliberate. She can't possibly be Green Party though, after all she reads the Financial Times. I think she's probably British National Party or the French equivalent.

But trains are inevitable. Not to be seen traveling by at least one form of public transport or riding a bicycle and smiling as though you are enjoying the experience is political suicide. Charles usually drops me at the station and, as he is registered with Krupton Council as a taxi driver, he fills in the day by running the general public around in his own Vauxhall Vectra. I could let him use mine I suppose but someone might be sick on the back seat.

But, my more precise theme today is buses.

I've watched bus passengers queuing in the pouring rain. I've watched them running along slippery, frosty pavements trying to catch a moving bus only to see the door close just as they put out a hand to grab the handle. I've then watched them go sprawling on that same frosty path. I've seen old ladies with their shopping, struggling to lug heavily laden trollies up three steps and then the bus moves before they're properly inside and they almost fall back out into the street. I've seen school kids munching crisps, Mars bars and drinking from fizzy drink bottles as they push and shove to be the one to get the back seat just so that they can jeer at the ones just getting in and practice snogging. I've seen bus drivers who are so miserable that they refuse a twenty pound note. I've seen bus drivers swear and kick triangular packs of half eaten sandwiches out of the bus door onto the streets of Krupton. I've seen buses with wrong destination signs. I've even watched an old man frantically flagging down a bus coming towards him as he stood at the bus stop and watched him jump out of its way at the last moment as it drove past at fifty miles an hour with the bus sign saying "Not in Service".

I've even been in my car when the bus in front refuses to move over or stop to let me overtake when I'm in a hurry.

My dear constituents, this is no way to run a bus service.

And this is why buses became the main topic of my Saturday "Meet Your MP" session.

These sessions are routinely held in the Red Lion so if you haven't yet joined me there, please come along. We start the session at midday every Saturday and carry on for as long as it takes. Towards the end of the meeting, having gathered views and evidence, I make profound statements on various aspects of Government policy. By then it is usually closing time, my speeches are flowing like the natural orator I am and the cheering can be heard all down Krupton High Street.

So to sum up, these are the conclusions made on Saturday.

We are going to take bus services back into public ownership and do away with bus passes.

Why? Well, a bus pass grants the right to an old person to travel for free in a rattling refuse cart with ill-disciplined kids, mothers feeding babies from leaking bottles and drunks going to the Accident and Emergency Department with blood running from cuts to their heads.

This is no way for a seventy year old ex-accountant, solicitor or MP to be transported. And as for the final destination of that bus - it's always a block of flats for unmarried mothers living on state hand-outs, opposite the care home that's just received bad inspection reports and next to the closed Chinese take-away.

Going by bus, my friends, is a journey to hell in a bouncing, hard seated box.

I went by bus once and that was enough. What's more they charged me 60p for the privilege and I couldn't even see out of the window for condensation.

So, we're going to bring it back into public ownership and let the people that ride in these contraptions drive them and collect the fares. It'll be the same solution as my idea for the Post Offices. The over seventies can drive the buses. They are the only ones who know the routes and certainly the only ones who know how to discipline kids. The kids will be forced to sweep the bus of debris after each journey or they can't get off. As for the drunks, they won't be allowed on at all. They can walk. It'll sober them up. Retired accountants will top up the receipts at the end of the day, take a small cut for themselves and give the rest back to the local Council. The Council will just supply the buses - nothing too modern of course.

I reckon it'll save millions.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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