June 2015

July 7, 2015

I read the ‘Ballad of a Small Player’ by Lawrence Osborne, but felt disappointed with it by the end. If you are thinking about starting to gamble or trying to stop or simply learning more about the psychology of a gambler, this is a good book to read, but towards the middle of the book I started to lose all sympathy for the main character and didn’t really care what happened to him.

It was my birthday in June and I was treated to a good seat at the Royal Opera House to see one of my favourite operas: La Traviata. There are lots to do and enjoy during the intervals too. My idea of a great night out.

The Welsh Government finally published its ‘map’ for the future organisation of local government. It seems the Government believes that the argument for two local authorities in North Wales is as strong as the case for three. You will recall that our case for voluntary merger with Conwy was rejected because our outline business case was ‘not convincing enough’.

So, when I heard the Welsh Government is seriously thinking about merging us with Flintshire and Wrexham instead, I quickly contacted a senior civil servant to ask for their ‘outline business case’. Guess what the answer was? Yep, there isn’t one! Apparently simply publishing a ‘map’ is good enough. Perhaps that’s what we should have done, instead of doing all that work!

What’s not so funny though is the state of the NHS in our region. We know from our own experiences that there are hundreds of excellent nurses and doctors in North Wales, but the depth of the failings in leadership and corporate governance are very worrying indeed. Turning this around is no simple task and will probably take years. We must now avoid quick fixes and instead work together on a sustained effort to transform this organisation to one that we all deserve. This will require much more openness about the problems, both with the public and key partners.

May 2015

June 4, 2015

My book of the month for May was “The Last Asylum” by Barbara Taylor. This is an excellent book which details how the author descended into self professed ‘madness’ and recovered from it as well as a fascinating history of asylums.

The general election result for the Vale of Clwyd was close and there was a recount to confirm it. Close elections must be stressful for the candidates involved but I don’t think people appreciate how stressful they are for the staff who are actually doing the count. As soon as a recount is requested and agreed the attention is focused on the counters and everyone becomes slightly nervous. At one point of the evening, when it became clear that the result was going to be very close, a member of staff whispered to me: ‘I don’t care who wins, I just hope it’s not very close’. I just smiled, but knew exactly what he meant. When the recount was confirmed to be almost exactly the same as the first count there was relief on all of the staff faces.

I would now describe myself as a ‘better than a beginner’ DIY person. I find it almost therapeutic, like some might find gardening. I have recently painted out kitchen cabinets and replaced an old cooker hood. I’d thought about tackling the work tops, but decided to hire a professional for that. I actually think that the job I’ve done is pretty professional and a great way to take my mind off real work.


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