Ready for a laugh? Well, how many jokes can you take?

July 6th, 2015 by Roger Darlington

I have lots of serious material on my web site, but there are plenty of jokes too. Check out these sections:

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A review of “Terminator Genisys”

July 5th, 2015 by Roger Darlington

He said he would be back and Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to the “Terminator” role at the age of 67. So, was it worth the wait? You can read my review here.

Posted in Cultural issues | Comments (0)


The future of our post offices

July 4th, 2015 by Roger Darlington

I’ve been interested in post offices since 1978 when I became Research Officer at the Post Office Engineering Union (POEU) which later became the National Communications Union (NCU) and is now the Communication Workers Union (CWU). I spent 24 years as a trade union official before taking early retirement.

This week, I chaired the Post Offices Advisory Group (POAG) of Consumer Futures which is now part of Citizens Advice. This is something which I have done for seven years now, dating back to when I was on the board of the then Consumer Focus (before that I was on the board of Postwatch, which was merged into Consumer Focus, when I attended the predecessor body to POAG).

At its post-war peak, the size of the post office network was around 24,000, but today it is down to about 11,500 and the Government has committed to maintain the network at this number of outlets. I can remember when Post Office Limited (POL) proudly claimed that there were 28 million customer visits a week but that figure is now down to about 17 million a week.

So the network is currently undergoing its third major change programme in a decade. Urban Reinvention involved the closure of nearly 2,500 post offices and the Network Change Programme required another 2,500 closures with around 500 new outreach locations. The current project is called the Network Transformation Programme and, while the size of the network should stay the same, every office will be modernised, redesignated or relocated.

Outside the 370 or so Crown offices (owned and staffed by POL itself), the network will consist of three models: Main Offices (open plan section in another retail operation), Local Offices (till in another retail operation) and Community Offices including outreaches (effectively the last shop in the community).

The Network Transformation Programme has so far involved around 4,500 physical changes – about 2,500 Mains and 2,000  Locals – with something like 40 conversions every week around the country. The whole programme is due to be completed by March 2018.

So, if you value your local post office, please use it.

Posted in Consumer matters | Comments (0)


A review of the film “Danny Collins”

July 4th, 2015 by Roger Darlington

You might not have heard of this movie and the title is hardly a come-on, but it’s treat – full of warmth and pathos. You’ll find my review here.

Posted in Cultural issues | Comments (0)


Trade unions are central to improving productivity

July 3rd, 2015 by Roger Darlington

As someone who was a national trade union official for 24 years, I was pleased to see this short piece by John Earls, Head of Research at Unite, arguing the case for involving unions in the drive to increase productivity in the UK economy.

Posted in British current affairs | Comments (0)


Today is Employee Ownership Day – so what’s it like working for a mutual?

July 3rd, 2015 by Roger Darlington

Created by the Employee Ownership Association in 2013 and supported by business, an array of trade and industry groups and across the political spectrum, Employee Ownership Day is a unique opportunity to highlight and celebrate the significant benefits employee ownership delivers to the UK economy.

Now, as it happens, I am on the Board of a mutual organisation which is owned and controlled by the staff. Only this week, I chaired a Board meeting of the Tinder Foundation which approved a suggestion – from one of the newest and most junior staff members – that has changed the remuneration policy of the organisation.

You can read her observations on working for the Tinder Foundation, together with the thoughts of a longer-served staff member, here.

I am proud to be associated with an organisation with such great staff that does such wonderful work.

Posted in British current affairs | Comments (0)


My 17th short story: “Nostalgic Reminiscence”

July 3rd, 2015 by Roger Darlington

I remember being at school at the aged of 15 and, in our English class, we had to study a poem. Our teacher told us that the work was imbued with “nostalgic reminiscence”.

At the time, i had no idea what this emotion felt like; half a century later, I certainly do. So I offer you now a very short story called simply “Nostalgic Reminiscence”. Enjoy.

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The impossible escape from North Korea of Ji Seong-ho

July 1st, 2015 by Roger Darlington

Ji Seong-ho is a North Korean defector who grew up during the country’s terrible famine in the 1990s. In order to survive, Ji would exchange stolen coal for food on the black market.

While taking coal from a train car in 1996, a malnourished Ji lost consciousness and fell onto the tracks, losing his left hand and foot when a train ran over him. After a gruelling amputation surgery, Ji was left to fend for himself.

In 2006, he escaped to South Korea, where he is now a law student at Dongguk University. Ji is also the president of Now Action and Unity for Human Rights, where he helps broadcast information into North Korea and facilitates the resettlement of defectors in South Korea.

This is the short, but incredibly moving, speech he made to this year’s Oslo Freedom Forum:

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Thought the western had bit the dust? Think again.

July 1st, 2015 by Roger Darlington

One of the best films on current release – at least in the UK – is an independent work by a first-time writer and director. He’s British but the subject is a western called “Slow West”. You can read my review here.

Posted in Cultural issues | Comments (0)


Enjoy your extra second in bed tonight

June 30th, 2015 by Roger Darlington

Midnight will come later tonight as, for the first time in three years, an extra second is added to the official time set by atomic clocks.
The “leap second” means the last minute of June will have 61 seconds in it.

Leap seconds – and leap years – are added as basic ways to keep the clock in sync with the Earth and its seasons. However, there are concerns the extra second could cause problems for some computer systems because it has to be added manually.

More information here.

Posted in Science & technology | Comments (0)