Surreal and stupefying, discourse in Southend-on-Sea

The continuing conversation I am having with residents in Southend-on-Sea occasionally throws up the surreal and the stupefying.

I will start with the stupefying, and I can find no better adjective for this particular piece of information. A conversation with a nurse elicited the fact that she failed to take a blood sample from someone (at their home) because she was unable to find a parking space. That stress is a by-product of the hunt to find a place to park is not news, but this is the first time I have heard of a medical procedure being abandoned because of parking policies put in place by the council (and, to be fair, by the large numbers of cars competing for too few places).

The problem, it seemed, arose from a parking scheme that allowed no visitor parking, and the neighbouring streets being full of those displaced once the scheme was implemented. (Parking schemes often ‘fix’ a problem for residents in a particular street, but the knock on effect is usually a much worse problem in neighbouring streets. Parking schemes almost always merely shift a problem rather than solve it.)

If a special permit does not exist for health workers then I will inquire about having one set up. It worries me somewhat, and I only hope that the example told to me was a one-off. The parking problem in Southend-on-Sea is bad for one’s health, if this example is anything to go by.

Conversations about insect numbers found on country walks are few and far between in my experience. I enjoyed one of these rare moments recently, and it did remind me of recent campaigns about the plight of the bumble bee. I was asked whether I counted the number of insect encounters on my last perambulation through rustic surroundings; I confessed not. I do, though, take a keen interest in the insect world and often seek inspiration from the tireless and selfless activities of ants. Socialists and social insects are a good match.

I am not sure which category (surreal or stupefying) conversations about the relevance and importance of voting are, and whilst abstention is part and parcel of the democratic process I cannot help but feel that we politicians are collectively failing the electorate. Mind you, it could be the other way around; are local politics and politicians being subject to any rigorous scrutiny if only a quarter of the electorate vote?

Jobs and disability, the cuts to benefits, policing – all hot topics at the moment, as is that old chestnut development. Pot hole conversations, pot hole conversations, and more pot hole conversations also feature.