Have you noticed how the firefighters in Britain have gone from being heroes to money-grabbing civil servants in a matter of ten days? The change in their fortunes obviously lies with the Blair public relations supremo Alistair Campbell and his cronies who have quite literally turned public opinion. Quite amazing and now the public's perception of a firefighter is someone who works four days a week, has the luxury of being able to have a second job and who spends a sizeable part of the shift asleep in a warm station. You get the impression that most people would support a pay cut for the former heroes rather than a rise. The new heroes are the armed services who earn less that a firefighter and after a week's training can do the same job with a outdated vehicle and a couple of hoses. And once they finish this shift they'll be off to Iraq to fight for Queen, Country and Blair (is that the right order?) in yet another New Labour crisis. But let's get back to basics. Firemen deserve a pay rise, not 40 percent, but a decent working wage for the simple fact that they are a highly efficient and professional outfit. They are not villains and probably one day they might even save your life. The armed services are doing an excellent job simply because they have highly specialised teams who have trained long and hard to fight fires caused by warfare. The drivers of the Green Goddesses are also highly trained and not just ordinary squaddies who have just finished basic training. Let's not all fall into the trap of spin and more spin. If the Blair government can put aside one billion pounds for war with Iraq they can pay the firefighters a bit more. If Blair wants to prove he is tough perhaps he should get a bit tougher with George W. Bush rather than a group of honest hardworking individuals.


We all know what an absolute disgrace England's cricketers are. To add further insult to injury (excuse the pun) they appear to be in the dark on who they play for. I was watching a press conference given by captain Nasser Hussain and as it was so depressing my attention span moved to his baseball cap, a state of the art piece of kit. Plastered bang in the centre was the logo for a mobile telephone giant and tucked away at the side was England's three lions. So my advice and to save further blushes perhaps it would be a good idea for our cricketers to become the Vodafone XI and the England XI will be put out to pasture until we have a team capable of playing Test cricket over five days rather than three and a bit.


I was looking at our office diary yesterday and basically it is a mass of forthcoming events. Monday morning opening of new motorway, minister to visit new sewage works, President to open new school, council to visit hospital and open new wing, Minister to announce how public money to be spent, etc, etc, etc. Now as we all know this is extremely unusual as Christmas is now just around the corner and basically most politicians are already planning their hols with December being a notoriously quiet month. But then I remember, next June, we go to the polls for the local elections. Stupid me, and I thought our local politicians had finally lived up to their New Year resolutions.

Jason Moore