Category Archives: Uncategorized

Freisland School, Sandiacre, Nottingham

Freisland School, Nursery Avenue, Sandiacre, Nottingham
NG10 5AF
Freisland School is run as a venue by Ceroc Heaven, primarily with a weekly class and occasionally as a freestyle venue.
.
The occasion on which I visited it had two rooms in operation, one playing the standard Ceroc music through the night, and the other playing Motown at the start and then Blues in the later part of the evening.  One was in the school hall, and the other what I believe must be the canteen.
.
The rooms are not large but they are plenty large enough for the number of people who turn up and they have a decent atmosphere, and are not reminiscent of a school hall.
.
But as with all Ceroc Heaven venues what makes it work is the drive and enthusiasm of those involved.  They want to venues to happen, and so no matter how much it takes they make them happen.
  • Air conditioning: None – it is after all a school, but it didn’t seem to get too hot.  It might do in very hot weather however
  • Atmosphere: 5 out of 5.  These are just regular rooms but it really works –  again because of the enthusiasm.
  • Do ladies ask men: 5 out of 5.  I didn’t know too many people there and went on my own, and maybe I got lucky, but it certainly worked for me.
  • Facilities: 5 out of 5.   Free water, food, plenty of space to sit out if you need to.
  • Free water: Yes
  • Friendliness: 5 out of 5.  Totally warm and welcoming.
  • Location: 5 out of 5.  It is very close indeed to the motorway which makes it ideal for anyone travelling north/south along the M1.
  • Music: 5 out of 5 – nothing I couldn’t dance to and plenty that are a challenge
  • Parking: 3 out of 5: There was no problem when I arrived but I noticed some cars parked on the pavements when I emerged near the end of the evening.  The problem is there is nothing that can be done about this within the school grounds as far as I can see, so it would be a case of parking in the road.  I don’t think this would be a problem as it is in a residential area and there seemed to be a lot of parking available.
  • Space: 4 out of 5 – just beware if it becomes more and more popular.
  • Venue overall: 4 out of 5 – but getting close to 5.

 

How to be successful, make money and have friends

How come some people are wealthy and successful?  How come some are happy?  What’s the secret?

Is there a reason why some people are wealthy and others not?  Obviously in one sense there is, because a fair number of wealthy people have be born into wealth; they haven’t earned it or worked for it, it has just been presented to them.  Others indeed have been very lucky and have won the lottery.   But both of these groups are minorities.

Since none of us choose our own family, and luck is well, luck,  I am not going to think about these as an option.  But rather I’m going to focus on the fact that a significant number of people who are successful and happy, have achieved these ends without being given a useful financial start in life.

Indeed I think it is fair to say that many people who are given such family support don’t actually make the most of it – which suggests it is not quite as helpful as it might seem.

As it happens I have met a fair number of people who have gained wealth, success and happiness through their own volition, and I’ve tried to work out, with the help of a fairly large number of books on psychology, and on “how to win friends and influence people” as the famous original volume is titled, what the key is to self-made success in life.

And then I have tried to boil it down into a few hundred words.

But let me say at this point there is no selling or anything like that in this little article.  It is straightforward and comes with no suggestions that you send me money, or buy this or that, or anything else.  It is just a simple summary of my findings resulting from a number of years of talking with people who have made a success of their lives, often from modest beginnings, and without being given the gift of some special talent such as the ability to play football brilliantly or have a remarkable singing voice.

The very first point that links all the people I have met who are successful (no matter what their area of success is, nor how they define success) is that they know what they want.  Although often not in the sense of being specific, but in general terms.  

So rather that say, “I want x to fall in love with me,” or “I want to be a millionaire” they consider what lies beneath these desires.  Generally they explain this to me as having wishes which will give them happiness.  So it is not specifically that they want x to fall in love with them, but rather that they want to be happy, and they see happiness as arising because x falls in love with them.  For those who seek money, often they don’t actually quite know what they will do with millions of pounds, but they think it would make them feel good.

The first step that the people who become happy or successful take therefore, is a step backwards – a step to the origins of their desire.   They generalise, and in doing this realise that what they want is to be happy.   So they say to themselves “I want to be happy.”  Indeed I have met some people who simply have the mantra “Something amazing will happen today” which they say over and over again each day.  It tends not to work for a few weeks but then slowly starts working until… they find their luck hard to believe.

And how does that work?   Largely because a person who believes something good will happen tends to have a positive outward going approach to life.   That has come about by saying the mantra.

But… and this is one of the most important things I have realised – the people who have such an expression that they say to themselves over and over also take action to make what they want happen.   They are not like teenagers who say “nothing exciting ever happens here” and leave it at that.  They think of how they can put themselves into situations in which something good will happen.

And above all they do this logically.  I’ll explain this with two examples: but there are many more which I am sure you can find.

Let’s consider a person who is lonely, or who more than anything else wants to have a girlfriend or boyfriend.  They do not sit at home waiting for the said person to knock at the door, just saying to themselves “Something amazing will happen”.  They find activities in their lives that will make it more likely that something will happen.

So they go out and find situations in which meeting a partner is more likely.  This might be through the fairly obvious internet dating, or it might be through joining a club in which there are people who get together.

I’ll give an example here from my own experience.  After my wife left me I did indeed feel lonely and bereft, and realised I did not have a lifestyle that was likely to bring me into contact with new friends.  So I went looking and found two local folk clubs and a dance club.   Now when I have said this to people they have sometimes replied to me “that’s no good for me, I hate folk music, and I can’t dance”.  In fact the latter argument is not valid since all dance clubs teach newcomers to dance.   If you are going to say, “I can’t do this” and “I don’t like that” then you are shutting yourself in your box and no one is going to be able to help you.  The people who do get what they want in terms of fun, enjoyment, and indeed wealth, are those who are willing to go out and try things and really work at it.

So in effect we have two basic ideas: one is that you know what you want to happen, you generalise it, and you repeat the mantra.  The other is you start to put into your life, situations that might make this happen over time.

Now for the final part of how all this works.   The people who I have met who have begun to get what they want out of life follow these ideas, once they have set up the basic vision of the mantra and the activities.

1:  It’s not the world around you that determines your happiness it is how you see the world around you

Two people sit next to each other on a bench in a shopping centre.  Neither has much money to their name.   Neither has any appointment to keep, nor anything else to do.   One is extremely happy, the other extremely miserable.

Of course there can be many reasons why each feels this way, but imagine this: one is miserable because he/she has just been made redundant, is bored and has nothing to do.   The other has just been made redundant but has always wanted to write a book, and now has all the time necessary, and is observing the people walking by and considering them as characters for the novel.

The moral is, it is not the world that makes you what you are, it is how you see the world.  And how you see the world is up to you.  

2:  Sometimes do nothing

In a society like ours it can be difficult to do nothing.  We rush from place to place, get the meal in a hurry, check the clock, and generally keep going.  It is not a recipe for happiness.  When we do stop we suddenly find we need to fill up the time so we turn on TV or start working our way through Facebook.

But there is a huge amount to be said for spending some time just sitting, looking, listening, considering.   Even if it is very difficult for you to do it, find just five minutes a day to sit, or lie down, and stop.

Then when you have got that sorted, try ten minutes.  Then 15.  No one ever became successful without actually putting some thought into it.  Not worry, just free flowing thought.

3:  Get to know yourself better.

Most of us have only a hazy idea of who we are simply because we never bother to think about it.  We have automatic answers to questions of our identity, expressed in terms of our job, or our family etc.  But we are all so much more than that.

Consider yourself, your personality, how others see you, your good bits, you bad bits.  And then, very gently, think what it is in your power to change.

And if you find a bit within you that isn’t so good, think about how to make it better. Tackle something very small, and then feel good about that change.  Then move up to something bigger.

4:  Do something good and engage

Much of the time we do what we have to do – what life pushes us into.  We work, we feed the family, we sort out problems, we plan.

But just finding something good to do can give you a very positive feeling.  It could be just ten minutes work on clearing out a room that is in a mess.  You know that will not finish the job, but it’s a start.  You can do another ten minutes another day.  It could be visiting a friend who is not well.  It could be getting in touch with someone who you have lost touch with…

But also, engage with people.  Mental health research has shown that people who feel lonely and who also just read what others are saying on Facebook tend to make themselves worse.  If you are using Facebook, engage and be positive.

However some tell me that they can’t because they feel miserable and nothing happens in their lives.  They try and write something else.  Make up something funny.  Find the best thing that has happened to you today and write two lines about that.

If you want me as a friend on Facebook fine – you’ll find me there.  There are a few people on the site with my name, but I’m the one with the picture of me dancing and who is a director of Websites and Blogs Ltd.   You’ll find that I don’t often write about me.  Mostly I write really short invented situations.

I don’t know what they do for everyone else but they make me smile.

5:  Take control

It is your life after all.  So why not make it YOUR life, rather than a life controlled by others?

OK, the children need feeding, the bills need paying, there’s always something to do, but as with all change, start small.   Today, take control of your life for five minutes.  Five minutes in which you simply do something just for you.

Tomorrow, up that to seven minutes.  And don’t worry if on the third day you just don’t get around to it.  Don’t give up.  Try again the next day.

Conclusion

Here’s a simple point.  This works.  It is up to you if you use these ideas or not.

 

Lose weight, get fit, no cost, guaranteed.

The total, absolute and utterly guaranteed way to lose weight.  Better still it won’t cost you a penny in books, special diet, or clubs to join

There is one absolutely guaranteed way to lose weight, and it arises from a new understanding psychologists and nutritional scientists have developed as to why so many people fail to lose weight despite their best intentions.

It is very simple, you can start it at once, you’ll see results in a week, and major changes in a month.

The understanding behind this approach comes from the recognition that most people who eat or drink at a level that causes them to put on weight, and who also don’t exercise enough to remove that weight, do so because of habit.

Now we all have lots of habits – habits in the way we talk, walk, sit, scratch our ear,…. and in a thousand other aspects of our behaviour.

Scientists have recognised that while habits are very easy to form, they are actually much harder to stop.  We might say, “I am going to have smaller portions,” and keep up that resolution for a week, but then the habit of having larger portions slips back.

We then feel bad about ourselves, and feel we can’t reduce our food intake, and so our self esteem battered, we slip permanently back into our old ways.

The habit system within the brain is installed for a very good reason to allow us to put lots of our daily lives under subconscious control, so that the brain can be on the look out for the different or the unusual.   Habits take over our everyday actions: walking, driving, talking and so on.

The problem is that certain things can get established as habits which we dont want.   People who bite their nails do it out of habit the habit has been established and is no longer under conscious control – but there is no value in it.  

People who say the phrase I mean in every other sentence do so out of habit.  Weve all got habits, and they can be very hard to shake off.

Not impossible, but hard.

This is the problem: habits are very easy to establish, and very hard to remove.   There is a survival benefit in this because it allows us to learn quickly and act without thinking in emergencies, but is also very annoying if there is a habit we wish to remove.

So eating more than we actually need is a habit, and your task if you want to reduce weight is to stop the habit of eating as much as you do.

Now because habits are hard to eradicate, there is every chance that when you start trying to reduce the amount of food you eat, you will fail, and eat more than you really should.   That does not mean you are a failure.  It just means that you are falling under the pressure of your habits.

But habits can be overcome.  Dont feel guilty, dont feel like a failure.  Just recognise that this is normal and start again.

So this new approach to reducing weight still involves the two obvious things: consume less food and fattening drinks that you do now (sugary drinks, alcohol, sweets, ready meals, crisps etc).  And exercise more.  

The best way to handle this is to have something clearly identifiable to reduce, such as no puddings, or maybe no alcohol two days a week etc.  Or cut down sugar from two teaspoons in coffee to one.   Or don’t buy any more packets of crisps.  

Absolutely don’t try everything at once, just choose one thing to cut down on, and when you’ve sorted that, add another.

At the same time, up the level of physical activity you undertake.  If you are taking no physical activity other than what you have to do, start by walking 200 yards on day one, then 250 yards on day two, 300 yards on day three and so on.   Don’t sign up to a gym or buy a load of running gear or a new bike.  Start with walking, and then move up to something else like swimming once a week or whatever you want to do.

You could do this by choosing to park at the far side of the car park at work, so you have further to walk to the office.  Or it could be walking round the garden once each evening.  

Then, when you find yourself slipping back by eating or drinking too much, or by not taking your exercise, DON’T GIVE UP.

Just remind yourself that habits are hard to break, but you can do it over time.  Pick up from where you were and carry on.

That final bit is the key.  Most people stop the moment they slip back into the old ways.  They typically say, “I tried but I just couldn’t do it.”   What they actually should be saying is “breaking habits is hard – you need to try it a number of times to get it sorted.”   

In fact some people make a mantra out of it which they say to themselves each day.  A mantra that says, “habits are hard to break, but I am trying” and you pick up again from where you got to.

Maybe you’ll have four days success before you slip.  Next time aim for five days success.  Then six days…

It works.  Just try it.

So let’s go through this.   The four parts of the programme are

1: Understand the nature of habits.

2: Eating a little less each day

3: Eating a little better each day

4: Increasing exercise very slightly each day

Here’s a couple of final thoughts.   First do you tell other people or not?  Some people like to, some people don’t, but here’s one possible issue to consider.  If you are slightly over weight then the chances are that you have friends who are also slightly overweight.  So if you tell them about your new approach they might feel guilty that they are not doing it.  As a result they might tell you this approach doesn’t work.

This is of course very much a matter for you, but if you want to reduce weight and feel that your friends might not be helpful (and also that you don’t want the embarrassment of admitting you have slipped back), find ways to avoid telling them.

For example, if you give up crisps, just say, “I don’t know what it is but I just don’t like the taste any more”.  If you don’t want people to see you taking an extra walk in the morning or evening, don’t announce it.  If seen just say, “I’ve been getting a real back pain and the doctor said I should just take a short walk each morning to try and ease it after keeping it still all night in bed.”

Sometimes not telling anyone what you are up to, can be the easiest way to cope with the moment the old habits return.

Second, should you try this with a friend?  It is of course up to you, but if you plan for (say) a short walk each night is dependent on a friend, then if your friend gives up, that puts your plan in jeopardy too.   If you do work with a friend, it can be good to have a fall back plan if your friend proves to have less resolve than you.

If you are made redundant or are threatened with redundancy, you must read this first

This article is part of a series known as Untold Social…

Other articles


 

Being offered redundancy by your employer can seem like a terrible thing (if you want to carry on working and there’s not much chance of another job) or a good thing (if you wanted to leave anyway, and you’re offered a good redundancy payout).

But either way you need to be cautious, because while some employers do everything according to the law and in a totally straight way, some can get matters wrong, either accidentally or deliberately, and it can be very much to your disadvantage if you don’t take simple steps to challenge them.

There are very strict rules about redundancy which effectively stop employers simply picking on a member of staff they don’t like and then saying “you’re made redundant”.  But there are two simple tests you can make to see if your employer is being fair and reasonable or not.

First, your employer should not be making a person redundant but instead making the job redundant.  That is a very clear distinction.  It is the non-existence of the job that causes the individual to be asked to leave the company.   What this means is that the employer should hold meetings with staff to advise staff that because of declining orders or for some other reason, one or more jobs are no longer needed, and so one or more staff have to go.

You and your colleagues should be engaged in this process.  If not the employer is not following procedures the redundancy could therefore be invalid.

Second, the state lays down how much redundancy pay you should get if you are made redundant.  It is very easy to work out how much redundancy pay you are entitled to – you can do it on line with a simple government calculator.  This is at…

https://www.gov.uk/calculate-your-redundancy-pay

If your employer says, “we can’t pay you that” on the grounds they don’t have the money, then the company has to stop trading, because it cannot meet its debts.

Now when this point is made, some employers will say, “well if you close us down you won’t get any money at all, but if you accept half what the calculator says, we can keep trading.”

This is untrue and unreasonable.   If an employer ceases to trade and does not have the money to pay the redundancy payments, the state will pay instead – at the full rate.   This applies to anyone who is entitled to redundancy pay.  Once again there is a government on line service to do this for you, which can also be used for holiday pay you are entitled to.

https://www.gov.uk/claim-redundancy

There is one final point however: supposing you are made redundant and the terms are agreed, but then suddenly your employer comes back to you and says, “We’ve got an upturn in orders so we are not making you redundant.  You’ve got to keep working.”  What then?

Now of course that might be great news for you – you want to keep working and you’ve got your job.  In that case you accept, and of course your rights to redundancy pay remain, should your employer get into difficulty again later. Meanwhile you take your old job back, and you carry on uninterrupted.

But supposing you have already got another job, or you have started to make arrangements to use the redundancy pay to set up your own company, or go on a big family holiday, what then?

The law is fairly clear on this – but there is some leeway.

Once notice of redundancy has been issued to an employee, it is legally binding and cannot be withdrawn by the employer, even if the employee is still working out his or her notice period – unless the employee agrees.

However section 141 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 also says that an employee who is dismissed by reason of redundancy loses the right to redundancy payments if he or she unreasonably refuses an offer of suitable alternative employment.

This offer to keep working must be made before the end of the employee’s employment under the previous contract and must take effect either straight away at the end of the current employment or within four weeks after that.  

The employment must either be on the same terms and conditions as the previous contract or be suitable alternative employment in relation to the employee.  So you can’t be moved from being a manager to being a cleaner, but you can be moved from being a manager in one department to another department, as long as that is within your sphere of knowledge.

If, after notice of redundancy has been issued, the employer makes an offer to the employee of his or her old job back on the same terms and conditions of employment, but the employee turns it down, the employer can argue that no redundancy payment is due because the employee has unreasonably refused an offer of suitable alternative employment.

Of course there can be an argument about the suitability of an offer of alternative employment  – that would be argued in front of an employment tribunal.

However if you have already got another job then the employment tribunal will almost certainly say that refusal to return is quite reasonable, and you must be paid your redundancy money.

But a refusal to accept a job back simply in order to get the redundancy payment is likely to be deemed to be unreasonable.   

It short if your employer changes his/her mind, you can only refuse the offer of the job because of something that is quite reasonable such as

a) You have accepted an offer of another job

b) You have set up your own business, or made arrangements to work with your partner in his/her business.

c) You have moved away, or have made the arrangements to move away.

One way to help yourself through all this is to join a Trades Union, but do remember, if you join the union after the redundancy process has started the union probably won’t help you.

Many employers are known to use a certain amount of bullying tactics to tell employees that they don’t have any rights in these circumstances, or even that the amount of redundancy money they are due is far less than it is.  A union should help you through each step of this process – but if you don’t want to join a union, do use the calculators shown above.

Other articles

Why you should beware the caller who asks if you had a car accident that wasn’t your fault

You may have received calls like this at home or at work.  A person calls you out of the blue and says that they hear you have had a car accident that wasn’t your fault.

If you agree to listen and say that this is true, you have had a car accident that wasn’t your fault, the caller might then say that you could well be able to claim compensation, no matter how tiny the accident.

What lies behind this is the notion of claims for minor damage to the car, and for injuries to yourself, particularly whiplash, can be made with impunity for any accident.  And these claims are based on the notion that insurance companies just pay out of whiplash claims with only a minimum of evidence.

All this has come about because whiplash is very hard to diagnose by a GP.  You say you can’t focus, that you’ve got headaches, couldn’t work and so on, and basically the GP has to take your word for it.  So since the accident wasn’t your fault you put in a claim for it, and the money is paid up by the insurance company representing the driver who caused the crash.

What could go wrong?

Well, in fact everything, because the following true story concerns a lady who had exactly such an accident – it wasn’t her fault at all – and who was persuaded by a cold caller to make a claim against the other driver’s insurance company.  It was a no-win no-fee claim, so there could be no loss to her.

Except, actually there could and there was. In the case I am going to outline below, which is a case in which I was personally involved, there certainly was a loss – it cost the lady making the claim £6000.   Yes, there was no fee because she lost the case.  But what the insurance company didn’t tell her was that if the case was lost, she would be personally liable for all the costs of the court and the expensive barrister hired by the insurance company of the driver who admitted he caused the accident.

No win, no fee is true.  But it omits the fact that if you lose, you can end up paying the costs.  In this case £6000.

The accident in question happened on a 3-lane roundabout.  A truck changed lanes on the roundabout without indicating.  The car in the middle lane swerved to avoid that truck, and then as a result of that swerve had a side-to-side scrape with the car on the inside lane.  Both cars stopped, there was a scrape to the car in the middle lane, but nothing else.  The drivers went on their separate ways, and a week later the lady driving the car that was on the inside line got the no-win no-fee call.

Her problem was that these days, contrary to popular belief, some insurance companies are resisting these whiplash claims, knowing that 90% of them are wholly or mostly invented.

In this case the driver of the car that caused the scrape (by trying to get out of the way of the truck) said he wanted to fight the case (as he didn’t want to lose his no claim bonus), and so his insurance company fought the claim and the case went to court.

In court the defending insurance company put up a barrister who is one of a dozen or so such people who do nothing but fight these whiplash claims.  The lady on the no-win no-fee deal had a very junior barrister with very limited experience.

Throughout the build up, the lady who made the claim had been encouraged to increase the level of the claim.  By the time she came to court she was claiming the need for a new child’s car seat, scrapes along the side of the car, physiotherapy and support from a psychologist for the trauma she had suffered.

The case lasted all day in court as largely the defence representing the driver who had caused the accident pulled the lady’s evidence to shreds by questioning her on every point of detail.  As she finally admitted she had not attended all the physiotherapy or psychologist sessions, she had no receipt for the new child’s seat, her story of where she was going made no sense, she had taken her time to make the claim, and above all she was unprepared for the nature of the court hearing and the cross examination.

The driver who had caused the scrape in his efforts to get out of the way of the truck was clear and precise.  He had reported the accident the next morning to his insurance company, he had taken photos of the scrape to the side of his car, he had not bothered to get it repaired as it was so minor, and above all his evidence was consistent and assured.

At the end of the case after a full day of hearing the judge stated that the lady’s story was inconsistent and untenable, and that he didn’t believe she had suffered the injuries or losses she had claimed.  The claim for compensation from the insurance company for whiplash and associated issues was dismissed, and the judge criticised her for making the claim.

All of which might seem the end of it, except that the defence then rose and began a discussion on costs.  The costs of the court, the costs of the defence barrister, the costs of the solicitor who instructed the barrister, and even the costs of the driver who openly admitted that in his effort to avoid the truck which was changing lanes, he had caused the accident.  Yes he had scraped the lady’s car in trying to avoid a much worse accident which was not his fault, but he had, in law, caused the minor accident to the lady’s car.  And he admitted that.

The case by the lady, now being lost, meant she had to face the bill even for his costs, and that was the cost of taking a day off work to attend the hearing, and his travel costs to get there.  Not much compared to the cost of the court fees and the cost of the defence barrister.  But another cost.

Added together these costs came to £6000, and that was the bill she faced.

To  summarise, in this case “no win no fee” meant that if she lost the case, she could face ruin through the costs of the case.  The “no win no fee” scammers who make these telephone calls never tell you that.  It is worth to be cautious.

Why you should pause before you pay that parking fine

In 2015 the Supreme Court ruled that a fine of £85 against a person who overstayed their time in an off street car park was fair, even if the actual cost of the parking, had the driver paid up front, might have only been £1.

Since then however the private parking companies – those who run car parks for local councils, for bus, underground, tram and other transport companies, and who build their own car parks, have taken the Supreme Court ruling to give them the right to trigger fines of lunatic amounts – often amounting to far more than the £85, against anyone who infringes even a tiny amount of the parking regulations.

However Jiving.info – a website that encourages creativity and an independent lifestyle – decided to take up the challenge when one of us got caught by National Car Parks.

Now it is important to say from the start that NCP may not have fully given up on this case.  We haven’t heard from them for four months, after their solicitors returned the details of the case back to NCP, without taking the action that they had repeatedly threatened, but so bizarre has NCP’s actions been thus far, it is quite possible that they might suddenly start up again.  If they do, we’ll let you know.

The original case that led to the Supreme Court ruling came about because a driver, Mr Beavis, appealed against a parking charge for overstaying at a car park in the Riverside Retail Park in Chelmsford in 2013. He’d left his car for 56 minutes longer than the allotted free two hour wait time and was issued with an £85 parking charge. He believed the charge should be ruled unlawful, including under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations (which are now part of the Consumer Rights Act 2015). Parking Eye argued – and the Supreme Court agreed – that the charge was justified to discourage people from overstaying at a site close to the railway station and law courts.  The Consumer Association is asking the government to look at the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations again, but so far this has not happened.

So let’s look at what car parks are now doing.

Of late in many car parks the old barrier and ticket approach has gone and instead a camera takes a picture of the car number plate as it enters, and again as it leaves.   The parking company asks that you declare your car number when you buy a ticket, and the whole process is matched digitally.  If you drive out without having bought a ticket and allocated it to your car, or you have overstayed, they automatically fine you.

This means they no longer use wardens to check the cars and their tickets, and everything including the issuing of the fine notice and subsequent notices is done automatically.

But they consistently make mistakes, and this is where you may well have a chance of seeing them off, if you do inadvertently overstay or make some other mistake.

First, the terms and conditions of the car park must be on display in a place where you can read them.  It is no good having them on a huge board as you drive in, because it is clearly impractical to stop the car and hold up other road users while you study 2000 words of rules and regulations.

So by driving into a car park with a barrier and the regulations outside the barrier does not make you beholden to the rules.  It might be possible for a car park to argue that in such a case you should have parked and gone back to read the rules, but this seems unlikely to win, and could only win a case if it is possible to leave the car park without paying, having read the rules.

Clearly that is ok in a non-barrier car park and indeed many systems are set so that if you leave within 15 minutes (the time taken to park, read and leave) you will not be picked up by the system.

The rules and regulations do have to be clear, and they have to say, “do pay for your ticket when you arrive” if that is what they insist.  If they don’t say that, you can obviously pay for the time you have had, when you leave – so if doing that, make a note of the time you arrive.

The terms and conditions have to be reasonable and easy to understand for everyone.  If they are not, they won’t stand up in court.  They also have to be clean and easy to read at night, if you are parking at night.

Infringements within barrier operated private car parks

In one case we were involved in, an off duty nurse took a disabled patient to a hospital, entered through the barrier and then found there were no disabled bays available as a delivery truck was parked across two of them.  The nurse parked as best she could and took the patient into the hospital.  She returned to find she had a ticket for parking partially in a special needs bay.

She wrote to the company and to the hospital pointing out that by the time she found there was no bay in which she could park she had entered the car park, and thus it was the car park operator that was at fault since it was offering a service (parking, including disabled bays) and the service was not available she did not have to pay.

The hospital said the letter had gone to their appeals committee but had been turned down.  The driver wrote back and asked for details of the hearing, who was there, and why she was not invited.  The hospital refrained from replying.

The parking company wrote four times demanding money, but the driver repeatedly threatened publicity for the case, and the parking company then gave up.

The ticket machine is poorly placed or the numbers are not clear

In some locations you may be asked to enter your car number into a machine when buying a ticket, having parked  the car.  Many of these machines have very small numbers and letters which are set very low down so it is difficult to read them.   Some become very worn so the numbers and letters are impossible to read.

We have seen cases where parking companies are sending out £85 fines to people who entered one digit wrong on a machine where the numbers and letters are set very low.  This most certainly should be appealed because it is the duty of the car parking company to make the system usable by all road users.  They put the numbers low for those in wheelchairs – which is of course very reasonable.  But people who stand say six feet tall also have to be able to use the machine.

If the numbers have been rubbed out by over use, or if it is too dark to see the numbers clearly, then it is not your fault.  Likewise if you have a bad back and can’t bend down, but are able to get in and out of a car, the parking company has no case.

In all these cases do take a picture on your mobile phone if you can.

You paid, but they say you didn’t

This was the case Jiving fought.  In this case a regular user of NCP car parks used a mobile phone to pay.  The system recognised his phone number, repeated the car number and the credit card number, and then confirmed the bill had been paid for the amount of time required.

The driver needed to press “1” each time to say that the information confirmed by the system was true, which he did.  The system did not ask the expiry date of the card.

Having parked and paid, the driver then received a call from NCP saying “your card did not go through – have you been issued with a new card with a new expiry date?”  This was indeed the case, and information was given, ending with the driver asking, “Is that all paid?” and the employee confirming it was.

Two weeks later the driver received a demand for £85 for parking without payment.  He wrote back and said he had paid, and reminded NCP of the phone conversation.  They denied this, and said that the driver had not given the new information and had cut the call.

The driver then appealed through the supposedly independent appeals procedure and his appeal was rejected on the grounds that the driver had opted to have a confirmatory text message to say he had paid, and this had not been sent.  The driver rejected this notion on the grounds that the human voice saying he had paid overrode the need for an automatic message.

NCP continued to write and demand payment.  The driver wrote back and said he was not paying and wanted NCP to take him to the county court where he was sure he would win, and would then be able to quote the court case in subsequent publicity.

NCP then threatened to send bailiffs around, and the driver wrote to say this was harassment given that he had said he was not paying.   Despite this a firm of bailiffs wrote to the driver demanding the money pointing out that it would be hard to gain any credit once the driver had a county court judgement against him.  By this time the “bill” had escalated to around £200 since it was now adding in the bailiffs fees.

The driver replied to each letter, and then the solicitors of NCP, wrote to the driver.  They now escalated the costs further, and clearly had not seen any of the details of the case.

They also phoned the driver five times, but on four occasions an automatic system took over asking the driver to press various numbers depending on his situation.   The calls then ended either with the line going dead or else the driver being told there was no one available.  Eventually the driver did speak to one representative of the solicitors, explained that he was not paying, and suggesting that they read the case notes.

After a further letter from the solicitors, the driver sent copies of all the documentation and a letter explaining why he was not paying.

The driver also said that as the case was clearly going to court he wanted, in advance of the hearing to have a copy of the recording of the conversation between himself and the NCP representative, and of the CCTV footage which would show him on the phone – thus proving that he did not cut the call at the start.

The solicitor replied that the driver would have to pay to obtain this evidence – something which is of course against all county court rules.  NCP did not have to provide such evidence, but since without it, they have no way of backing up their claim, it was obvious that the court would want to see such evidence.  Defendants do not have to pay for the evidence presented by the person taking them to court.

The solicitors then replied that they had returned the case to their client as they had no further instructions from the client.  And there it stopped.

The whole case shows quite clearly that no humans are involved in most of these processes, as well as showing that the supposedly independent appeal system is capable (at least in this case) of reaching a farcical conclusion.  Also it appeared that the solicitors were letting the cases be handled by unqualified clerks, although we can’t prove that.

The parking ticket flipped over

We have seen a number of cases of car parks still using the old machine and ticket system requiring the ticket to be displayed on the dash board.   In several cases we have seen cases of the ticket being  bought but flips off the dash board as the car door is closed.  The car park company asserts that displaying the ticket is part of the requirement of the contract and thus a fine must be paid.

So far, each case we have seen challenged has been accepted by the car park.  The regulations do suggest we should all check the ticket remains in place after the door is shut, but if one can produce the ticket to show it was bought then the car park accepts that.

If it doesn’t the argument is that the car park is amiss at not providing tickets with a sticky section so they can be stuck to the windscreen if the driver wishes, and that the display failure is clearly an unintentional error.  It would be a brave and stupid car park company that tried to take that to court – although as the examples above show, there are some very stupid, or very greedy car park companies around.

The terms and conditions

Companies can change the details of their terms and conditions but if they do they have to tell users that this has happened – it is unreasonable to expect car park users to read a mass of regulations each time they drive in.  Also there needs to be clarity in the regulations – they need to be understandable and readable by the users – which includes people from all walks of life.

What can be done if you get a fine?

First, if  the terms and conditions of parking in the car park are clearly displayed and can be read either outside the car park or inside with the option to leave then the rules of the Supreme Court that overstaying can result in an £85 charge have to be complied with.  If you don’t like these rules, don’t park there.

If not, fight.  Answer each letter clearly and unemotionally.  If you want to take it all the way through, tell them that from the start.  Then their action of putting the matter with bailiffs and solicitors can be shown to be harassment.   They have no reason to call on you or phone you, or send you more than one letter, as long as you have replied.

Keep all correspondence, answer promptly, tell them you will go for maximum publicity at the outcome, and if you are going away for a while, tell them that so they can’t claim they wrote and you did not reply.

Jive X at Larkhall Village, Nottingham

Larkhall Village, New Rise, Nottingham NG11 8BF.   (Off Nottingham Road, Clifton)

The first thing to say is two of us making our way to the club got lost.  Partly our own fault because we have not seen the map on the web site, partly the club’s fault because the map isn’t on a page marked MAP in big letters for idiots like me (go to this page and click on the event you want and then scroll down), and partly because my Sat Nav is out of date.

Fortunately the site is near one of the university buildings in the city, and some passing students took pity on an old timer and whipped out their mobiles and had the directions in a trice.

Larkhall Village is a new development of housing for older people, and it is a magnificent development – well thought through, right next to the tram stop, which itself has a large carpark that can be used by dancers.

The dance area itself is superb: a brilliant floor, a superb room, a bar next door, the look and feel of the whole place is terrific – as it should be from a modern, new environment. The only issue at the moment is the same problem that faces all new clubs – the numbers.  I have no doubt the club will grow, but for the moment (June 2017) the numbers are small.

Certainly other clubs in the area have grown from humble beginnings, and I have no doubt this one will as well.  But there is one virtue with small numbers – everyone gets involved and everyone dances with everyone else.

One other positive about the club is that there is a desire to put on dances when no one else is doing so.  Sometimes of course it can’t be helped – and the night I went coincided with another event in Nottingham, plus the Southport weekend, but most of the time there are no rival attractions locally and this helps.

  • Air conditioning: 5 out of 5.  Seemed the right temperature throughout to me.
  • Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 – everyone I met was friendly and welcoming.  In this regard the numbers to help because everyone works together to make it a good night.
  • Do ladies ask men: 5 out of 5.  Yes indeed.  I was asked as much as I asked.
  • Facilities: 5 out of 5.  It’s got a bar in the next room, places to sit outside if you want to chill, and it is all smart and clean.
  • Free water: Yes
  • Friendliness: 5 out of 5 for the Ceroc crew, and everyone I met there.
  • Location: 2 out of 5 – this is the problem of finding the place.  Indeed even after we found it, we couldn’t quite work out where to park and how to get from the tram stop to the venue.  But this is a minor point – you find it in the end, and of course there are other people around the ask..
  • Music: More than 4 out of 5.  Varied and different.  Not always to my taste, but still very acceptable indeed.
  • Parking: 4 out of 5.  Big free carpark which of an evening is fairly empty – it is there for commuters.   Because I can never work these things out, I wanted a big sign up that says “Larkhall Village this way”.
  • Space: 5 out of 5 – for now there is more than enough.  Might get crowded if it catches on.
  • Venue overall: 5 out of 5.  Excellent – if the numbers do start to turn up as I expect, then this will be a place to put on your dance agenda every time it is open.

 

Jiving as a way a living

Jiving is not just dancing – it is a description of a way of life.  A way of living that values creativity and endlessly questions the way we are told the world has to be.

One can jive through dancing, and through the way one sees the world.  And the two are of course linked – the more you dance the more you are likely to change the way you see the world.

The first part of this project – writing about dance and dance clubs is well under way.

The second part – the series “A woman asked me to dance” has also got going.  It expresses an artistic response to jiving – the dance.

Now for part three – how jiving is an expression of a way of living one’s life that is liberating, exciting and eventful.

In this third part I want to try and express the view that the world is not something that is out there and happening to us.  Rather the dominant force in the way we live is the way we see the world.

The problem is that most of us there is a perception that this is the world, and this is my place in it.  Here I want to try and show that this is not right.  The world can be anything you want it to be.  I want to show this through every day events and through how one can change the world in which one lives.

In this regard this web site is about having a good life.  Doing what you want to do, staying fit and healthy, not letting other people push you around, being a strong and independent person.

We’ve taken “Jiving” as the name, because jiving, the dance, embodies such a lifestyle, and it is one thing that those of us involved with the site do, and it is something that enjoy.

But also it symbolises a whole approach to life – a way of being that says, no matter what your age, what your background, you can get up and get involved.  You have the power and opportunity to be what you want.

Of course this view of the world takes in a million different actions and activities, and it is going to take a long time to build this site up into something that reflects this fully.

There is an index to all the articles on jiving, jive clubs and the like, here.

And because we’ve only just started the notion of articles about other issues in life, those articles will be listed below.  They will cover all sorts of issues from life.  The aim is to add several each week – and they might seem quite random, but put together they will represent a choice in the way you see the world and react to it.

Well, that’s the aim.

 

 

 

 

Cambridge Ceroc at the University sports club.

University Sports And Social Club, Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RX

The first thing to say is that this club is currently hard to find online – largely because the links with UK Jive don’t work, and typing Cambridge Ceroc into Google brings up The Cambridge Motel, Dunsbridge Turnpike, Shepreth SG8 6RA.

What is frustrating is that the links via UK Jive still don’t work, over a month after I pointed this out to Ceroc.  I really don’t know how it can be that hard to get this sorted.

So, in case your are here because you have typed in into Google, “Ceroc Cambridge”, let me say that the club meets at 7.15pm on Mondays, but not bank holiday Mondays.  It follows the normal Ceroc timetable, although at a slightly earlier time than most clubs, with the beginners’ class starting at 7.30, and the evening closing at 10.30pm.

And let me also say, this is just about the most buoyant, fun and enjoyable Ceroc club I have ever seen.   The numbers are about as high as you would want in what is a modest sized room, and the commitment from the members is palpable.  The teacher is the most energetic positive and driving personality I have ever seen on a dance club stage and he gets everyone involved.

Then when the freestyle periods come along there is none of that sitting on the sidelines having a natter stuff that some venues have – this is everyone joining in, and (certainly in my case) welcoming in an outsider.  I didn’t have to go looking for dances – I was asked to dance all the way through the evening.

The vibrancy and energy of the evening can be gauged by the fact that if you compare this with other clubs where the numbers are getting a bit thin by the end of the evening,  in this case everyone is still there by 10,30pm at the last dance.  And as a celebration of the evening the dancers have evolved a game in which couples change partners throughout that last dance.  It’s great fun – but be prepared for it.

In fact so enthusiastic is everyone that after that last dance everyone stands on the dance floor and applauds.  Compared with many Ceroc venues where at the end of the evening people are slinking away or gathered in their little cliques, this is something very special and well worth a visit even if it means going way out of your way.

The only negative I have is the old issue of water.  Ceroc Cambs proclaims that no bottles or drinks can be brought into their venues.  That’s fair enough, but the law says free water must be provided where alcohol is sold.

Ah but we don’t charge for water, we charge for the plastic container, say the licencee that seek to get around this.   Well, since plastic cups sold in supermarkets normally cost about 0.2p each charging 50p for the plastic container would make this illegal in that here is case law of theft by overcharging.  Not that anyone is likely to bring a case, but 99% of venues don’t do this – it just happens in a handful of venues (Rugby, St Neots, and Leicester are three they have refused to back down although Rugby do provide a tap in a room that is very hard to find).  Anyway, it’s just my personal hang up.  No one else seems to care, not even the licensing authorities, and I suppose it gives me something to mumble about.

  • Air conditioning: 5 out of 5.  Seemed the right temperature.
  • Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 – everyone I met was friendly and welcoming.  I couldn’t have asked for more.
  • Do ladies ask men: 5 out of 5.  Every time I turned around I was asked, unless I started asking first.
  • Facilities: 3 out of 5.  It’s got a bar downstairs and a good dance floor. but it could be bigger – but of course there is a shortage of viable venues in Cambridge.  Signage would help pointing to the bar.  It need sprucing up, but the jive club can’t do anything about that.  They are using the location they have and after the first dance you don’t notice it is a bit shabby.
  • Free water: No – it is 50p for a plastic cup.  Literally and metaphorically criminal.
  • Friendliness: 5 out of 5 for the Ceroc crew, and everyone I met there.
  • Location: 3 out of 5 – it is in Cambridge which means it is down a small road with no car park.  Make sure you have a street map if you don’t know the area.
  • Music: More than 5 out of 5.  Don’t think I heard one standard Ceroc song – it was all hugely adventurous and great fun.  How wonderful to dance to songs you don’t know.
  • Parking: 0 out of 5.  It’s not the club’s fault, as no matter where you put a club in Cambridge there is not going to be parking.  I parked at the underground car park about five minutes walk away.  Tons of space, perfectly secure.  It costs £1.25 an hour at night – which if you are used to free parking is a lot.  But I am sure if you don’t mind walking for ten minutes there will be places much closer.
  • Space: 4 out of 5 – there’s a limit, but for the numbers when I was there, it is fine.
  • Venue overall: 5 out of 5.  It could do with a freshen up, and if numbers grow it is going to be very crowded, but it is all compensated by the energy and vibrancy of the instructor and anything less than five would be churlish.     A real find.

Rhodes Arts Centre, Bishops Stortford,

Rhodes Arts Centre, South Road, Bishops Stortford,Hertfordshire CM23 3JG

This is a true find, recommended to me by friends from Cambridge, and I’m glad I went.

It’s a very modern Arts Centre with its own parking.  There are sign posts to the Centre from the various approach roads, but if there is actually a sign on South Road saying that one has arrived, I totally missed it and drove on by, having to do a dodgy u-turn a mile further up the road.

The parking is on site, so that makes it easy – but…  It was easy for me on a Sunday afternoon because I arrived soon after the start, but when I left half an hour before the end it was virtually impossible to get my car out of its bay, because others had parked illegally.  That suggests that the note on the web page “Easy Parking” was not quite accurate.  Easy parking, if you arrive in time, I think is the correct statement.  I didn’t think to look as I drove away, but I suspect the local streets are all either “no parking” or “permit holders only”.

But this was my only negative: the rest of the Ceroc advertising (the events are run by Ceroc Metro) were accurate: Comfortable Lounge Area, Complimentary Refreshments, Chilled-Out Ambiance, Great Crowd. I’d say that is right.

I went to Boogaloo, a three hour sunday afternoon session, and the venue really did pick up a good crowd.  I expected more blues type music but it was more upbeat than that.  The lounge certainly is good and spacious and there is outdoor seating too for sunny days.

The website is better than many a Ceroc website and is fairly comprehensive, and indeed up to date, although the Venue list in the Diary section has, in many cases the word “Venue”.  As in “Venue” “Venue” “Venue”.  The idea is that you click on the word Venue.  Maybe it is obvious to everyone else.  I got there in the end.

There was a bit of a delay in going in as despite being a Ceroc member for about 2000 years I was asked to fill in my name and address, and date of birth, and sex and…   They said it was for insurance reasons.  If so, what is the point of having a membership card?

But I am being picky.  It was a great place and a great Sunday afternoon.

 

  • Air conditioning: 4 out of 5 – it got warm, but not particularly and the room was full.
  • Atmosphere: 4 out of 5.  It was bright outside and dim inside, and it took my eyes a few minutes to adjust.  But after that, great.
  • Do ladies ask men: 5 out of 5.   I’ve never been before, and actually knew about four people in the club, but I was asked to dance all the way through.  Maybe it was because I am a mega-dancer, or maybe they are just nice people.  I think the latter.
  • Facilities: 5 out of 5 – I can’t imagine how you might do better, although if it got many more people in, it would be crowded.
  • Free water:  Yes – help yourself from the bar just outside.
  • Friendliness: 5 out of 5.  No cliques, no tight nit friends groups.
  • Location: 4 out of 5.  Maybe I did just miss the sign, but if you are new to the town, give yourself a bit of extra time.  Roadworks, complex junctions, cars queuing to get into a pub car park… It is right in the town which is great if you live nearby, not quite so good if you are an outsider.
  • Music: 5 out of 5.  Varied and interesting.
  • Parking: 3 out of 5 – as in my notes above, I was fine getting in, but struggled to get out, and if I had arrived late, I suspect I would have driven for hours trying to find a place to park.
  • Space: 5 out of 5 – although a 10% increase in the numbers might have might it a bit too crowded.  But the reception and food area was the best I’ve seen.
  • Venue overall: 5 out of 5.  Nothing is perfect but this is one of the best so anything less than five out of five would be churlish.

 

Coventry: the Massy Ferguson Club

Massey Ferguson Club
Broad Lane
Coventry
West Midlands
CV5 7NL
This venue is very nice – good dance floor, chairs around three sides, bar at one end.  The people dancing therein are friendly, the music is fine if unadventurous, and I’ve enjoyed my two visits.  But…
.
But there are some problems.  Once you are there and settled they don’t stop one having fun, but they are just a bit annoying and reduce the impact of what could be a really brilliant club.
.
The website.  
.
In June 2017 when  I was looking for details of the dance, the home page (a standard Ceroc page) had rotating details of forthcoming dances … showing details for March and April.   Second, given that the location of the dances is really hard to find (see below), it is a shame that the page dedicated to the club has nothing other than its address.
.
The bar.   I arrived at around 8.10pm, and there were a handful of other hardy early arrivers sitting around.  I went to the bar where they had helpfully put out a big jug of water, but no glasses.   There was no one on the bar apart from a lad who looked way under age, and on seeing me standing at the bar he quickly disappeared back stage.
.
I thought he had maybe gone to get a grown up, but no one appeared so I left the bar area for a while.   Eventually when a bar lady was on hand I approached.  She looked at me and raised an eyebrow.  No smile, no “can I help you?”  An eyebrow.  With a sort of “what the **** do you want?” look.
.
I said that I wanted some tap water.
.
She scowled and looked me up and down, then looked at the jug of water, saying nothing.  Patiently and in clear, simple terms (fearing that I may have space warped into Ulan Bator by mistake) I explained that I would like a glass into which I might pour some water.   She scowled again, and looked down, clearly expecting to find glasses, and thus prove the stupidity of all people crazy enough to enter her bar.  On finding none she turned on her heel (again without saying a word) and placed a glass on the table.  I said “thank you,” she did not reply.
.
Finding the place
.
Broad Lane is very long, and stretches either side of a main dual carriageway.  Choose the wrong way off the dual carriageway and you will drive miles out of your way looking for the club which isn’t there.
.
The only way around this is to head for the intersection of Hockley Lane and Broad Lane.  If you are driving along Broad Lane it is between the junction with Hockley Lane and Back Lane.
.
Neither the Ceroc site nor the Massey Ferguson site helps with this at all, which is a shame.
.
A banner is put up at the entrance for the club car park showing that Ceroc is on, but when driving along and not sure where the club is, the banner cannot be seen from the main road, so it is still easy to miss.   What Ceroc needs is a map on its site and guidance on how to get there.  I am just amazed that Ceroc gruppenführer for the region doesn’t just do this for all venues.  After all, surely they all want to make money by getting more people in.  Or maybe they don’t.  Maybe it is a conspiracy by franchise holders to run the clubs into the ground and so bankrupt Ceroc so they can take the clubs over themselves.
.
On entering the club
.
It is not at all clear where the dance is being held.  In fact you have to walk up stairs and there it is, but if you don’t know, it is not clear.    A sign as one enters – even a hand written one sellotaped to the door would help.
.
And yet despite all this, it was a nice club.   Sometime after 11pm the lady who runs the club with her partner came onto the dance floor and went around asking men to dance.  She is a terrific dancer and very friendly, and it was a pleasure to dance with her.  So why wasn’t she on the dance floor earlier?  It would have made for a more enjoyable experience for quite a few men on the floor (not that the other dancers were not good – some were terrific).
.
The answer in terms of this approach is usually, to save money by not paying anyone to do it.  Lots of clubs do this, but it is a false economy.   Let’s say you paid someone £20 to work the door from 8pm to 10pm.   That would release the club manager to dance through the evening.   If as a result of the terrific dances they got, three more men turned up to the dance next time the expenditure has paid for itself.
.
  • Air conditioning: 3 out of 5.  It got a bit warm as time went by, but not hopelessly so.
  • Atmosphere: 4 out of 5 – everyone I met was friendly, but I felt the way certain men just grabbed a lady dancer and pulled her onto the dance floor was lower than the level of politeness I expect.  Perhaps it is a Coventry thing, but if I were a lady I’d have sloshed said men around the face with my handbag.  Thus proving I am not a lady.
  • Do ladies ask men: 2 out of 5.  I got asked three times during the evening.  Much better than some, but still…
  • Facilities: 3 out of 5.  It’s got a bar and  a good dance floor.  The toilets are modern and clean.  Signage would help as would a polite person on the bar.
  • Free water: Yes – when the bar lady overcomes her problems with having to serve customers.
  • Friendliness: 5 out of 5 for the Ceroc crew, minus several million out of ten for the bar staff.
  • Location: 1 out of 5 – this is the problem – if you don’t know the area, take maps and provisions for five days in case you get lost.
  • Music: 4 out of 5.  Fairly standard with nothing adventurous, but a decent mix.
  • Parking: 2 out of 5.  There are two carparks but both are small.  I have no idea where you can park if the get full up.  A note on the site would help.
  • Space: 4 out of 5 – there’s a limit, but for the numbers when I have been there, it is fine.
  • Venue overall: 3 out of 5.  Could easily be four by improving information on the website and signage.  To get the five: change the bar staff.

Higham Ferrers, Northants

Higham Ferrers WMC
6-8 Westfield Terrace
Higham Ferrers
Rushden
Northamptonshire
NN10 8BB

Higham Ferrers is an interesting club in that when I went there it had an enthusiastic group of dancers who go regularly to what is a very small venue.   To cope with the numbers lessons were help in the round rather than in rows and it was tough to find space on the dance floor.

But clearly the people who go there like it, and it seems to be as much as social event as anything else.

As such it can be a little hard to get dances unless you are willing to push yourself forward and ask, ask and ask again.  You won’t get asked much because everyone is there meeting their friends, which of course is fair enough.

The venue is a traditional Working Men’s Club of the old variety, and there is no car parking so you have to drive around the local roads looking for a space.

  • Air conditioning:  3 out of 5.  It got warm when I was there but never too hot for comfort.
  • Atmosphere: 3 out of 5.   The problem is that there are so many regulars that as an outsider you can be ignored not through hostility but because people are there to meet their friends..
  • Do ladies ask men: 2 out of 5.   Again it is the problem out of having so many regulars – people know who they are dancing with.
  • Facilities: 2 out of 5.  It’s a traditional working men’s club.
  • Free water: Yes
  • Friendliness: 3 out of 5.  It isn’t unfriendly, it’s just that the regulars have no need to ask outsiders and so no one makes the effort.
  • Location: 2 out of 5.  It’s in the side street of a small town, without particularly brilliant street lighting.
  • Music: 2 out of 5.  It seemed to me to be pretty much standard Ceroc fare from about five years ago.
  • Parking: 1 out of 5
  • Space: 1 out of 5.  On occasions it can get very crowded indeed.
  • Venue overall: 2 out of 5 but declining. There is not too much that can be done because of the nature of the building – it is what it is – a working men’s club of the traditional sort.

The Saints, Northampton

Franklins Gardens, Weedon Road, Northampton NN5 5BG

The Saints consists of rooms under one of the stands at Northampton Rugby Club in the town of Northampton.  The venue is modern with plenty of on-site parking for a dance event.

The venue has been used on a number of occasions over the years by Ceroc, as an alternative to the Cripps Building at Northampton General Hospital.

The Saints is a building in much better condition than the Cripps, although there are suggestions that the Cripps building is being upgraded in 2017, hence the move away from the building in the spring of 2017 by Ceroc.  No information that I could find was readily available as to what the long term plans were.

The only problem with the Saints is that being a room under a stand, it has supporting pillars within the dance area.   There is a bar along one of the long sides of the room, while the DJ operates from a table opposite.  There are seating areas at each end of the oblong dance floor.   A second room opens off the first.

2017 is the second time I’ve known Ceroc move to the Saints from the Cripps, and on the occasion I went there the numbers were tiny.  Arriving at around 8.20pm for a saturday evening dance I found half a dozen people sitting around with no one dancing.   By 8.30 a few more had arrived but then they all vanished into a side room for a lesson, meaning that the freestyle didn’t get going until gone 9pm.

Even when it did there was still only around 30 people in the room.

From my perspective (and of course this might be just me) part of the problem can be summed up by the fact that even with these small numbers the room did start to get warm, and although there were fans none of them were switched on.   I went to the lady on the door (the only person present “in authority” as it were) and asked for the fans to be switched on but she said, “I don’t do the fans.  Ask the DJ”.   I did and he said, “why on earth did she tell you to ask me?”   The fans stayed off, and we got hot.

It is symptomatic of Ceroc in this region.  Once, after three or four years regular attendance every week on Monday and Thursday at Ceroc in Wellingborough and Kettering I managed to arrive without my wallet.   I was of course well known to the lady on the door and explained my error, but despite having admitted me to the venues maybe 150 times by then, she utterly refused to allow me in with a promise that I would make good in a couple of days.   It’s that sort of franchise.

On another occasion I arrived and found the franchisee and the lady on the door having a discussion.  I stood ready to hand over my cash, and they just continued to talk to each other and ignore me.

  • Air conditioning: 2 out of 5.  As noted above, it needed fans on, but no one knew how to do it!
  • Atmosphere: 0 out of 5 – you can’t get an atmosphere in a big room like this with such a tiny number and such an attitude.
  • Do ladies ask men: 3 out of 5.  The handful of us who were there were desperate to get any sort of dance so certainly some did.
  • Facilities: 5 out of 5.  It’s got a smart large modern bar.   The bar staff must have been bemused having nothing to do all evening.
  • Free water: Yes.
  • Friendliness: 0 out of 5.  See notes above
  • Location: 5 out of 5 – it is a little way out of the town centre but easy to find off a main road, and the car parking is within the rugby club’s environs.
  • Music: 5 out of 5
  • Parking: 5 out of 5 – lots of it and always enough even when I went many years ago with a much larger crowd.
  • Space: 4 out of 5 – obviously with such a tiny crowd, there is no shortage.
  • Venue overall: 4 out of 5

Spondon Village Hall, Derbyshire

Spondon is a small club held in a village hall.  It’s still quite a new venue on the dance scene (as of 2017) and so on the different occasions I have been the number of dancers has varied quite considerably.

One thing to notice is that it does close at 11.15, rather than the usual 11.30pm, when holiday a dance night at the weekend.

Normally however there is a good number of dancers for the size of the venue.  Like most village halls it doesn’t have a bar, although I believe there are some drinks on sale.  The water is free.

It’s a modern venue, with tables and chairs on both sides and at the far end, so if number did rise they could always increase space by stacking up the tables and just having chairs along each side.

The car park is behind the village hall, and although I am sure it is adequate for village hall business I have found it pretty well full by the time I have got there.  Always managed to sneak in, as I often arrive quite early, but it could ultimately be an issue.

The music is always excellent and varied – none of this hanging on to the same old set of jive standards that some venues do.

  • Air conditioning: 5 out of 5.  I am not sure there is air con, but I’ve never over heated.
  • Atmosphere: 4 out of 5 – like so many of these small dance clubs based in village halls people who go tend to be committed to the club so they turn up early, and are really welcoming to friends.
  • Do ladies ask men: 3 out of 5.  Not totally, but there are always some who will.
  • Facilities: 5 out of 5.  It’s got a small bar and if you go there for a drink they may well not have your tipple, but otherwise its spacious, modern, clean.
  • Free water: Yes.
  • Friendliness: 4 out of 5.  Because it is a small club, and they want new members, newcomers are noticed and welcomed and asked for a dance if not getting one.
  • Location: 3 out of 5 – it is out of the way unless of course you are a native of the area.  But the satellite found the way, so I was ok.
  • Music: 5 out of 5
  • Parking: 3 out of 5
  • Space: 4 out of 5 – it is a modest sized venue, but I have never found it over crowded.
  • Venue overall: 4 out of 5

Cambourne, Cambs

Venue: Cambourne Village College

Address: Sheepfold Lane Cambourne Cambridgeshire CB23 6FR

The problem with this venue at the time of writing is the difficulty about finding the Ceroc site that covers this venue.  The site has changed, but the new one is not linked to the main Ceroc site, nor to UK Jive, and Google doesn’t seem to know about it either.

I have reported this fact but it still doesn’t seem to be resolved.

Which is a shame because this venue used to be a great Friday or Saturday night dance outing, often packed with good dancers.

I went back for the first time in several years in 2017 and walked in at 8.15pm to find… I was the only person there.  A few more turned up and at 8.30pm I got my first dance.

Again this is a shame because the venue is nice, the sound system is much improved from the old days, and there is free water, free food and a small bar laid on.

The location is outside of the town, and takes a bit of finding – head down Sheepfol Lane out into the countryside, over the bumps, turn left and you find this gigantic modern secondary school situated in a field.  A nice place to dance, and when I went back in early 2017 some great dancers – when they turned up.

So why are the numbers right down?  Well, in part because of the web site problem, which has now been going on for a couple of months – although of course maybe by the time you come to look that will be resolved.

  • Air conditioning: 3 out of 5.  It used to get very hot but last time I was there with a much smaller number it was ok.
  • Atmosphere: 4 out of 5 – once people turned up they danced with enthusiasm, and generated their own atmosphere.
  • Do ladies ask men: 5 out of 5.  Maybe I was lucky but I got asked all the time.
  • Facilities: 5 out of 5.  It’s got a small bar and if you go there for a drink they may well not have your tipple, but otherwise its spacious, modern, clean and with a big car park.
  • Free water: Yes.
  • Friendliness: 4 out of 5 once the numbers started going up
  • Location: 3 out of 5 – it is out of the way and a bit hard to find in the dark the first time you go.  Just keep driving along the road.
  • Music: 4 out of 5
  • Parking: 5 out of 5
  • Space: 4 out of 5 – it used to get crowded but now its great with loads of space.
  • Venue overall: 4 out of 5

Kettering Corn Exchange

Kettering Corn Exchange is the latest in a series of venues that Ceroc has tried in the town.   It started at the spacious Wicksteed Park, moved on to the Athletics Club, moved across to a venue in Wellingboro, and then eventually got to the Corn Exchange.

It’s a modern building with a very large free car park attached, so it is a matter of just a few yards walk from the car.  Access is easy – it is on a main road that comes into the town from the A14.

The problem with jive at Kettering is that is seems to have been in terminal decline for years as it has shuffled from venue to venue and it is not to hard to see what puts people off.  The issues are all quite small, and by and large would be ignored if it was a venue that attracted a lot of decent dancers.  But it doesn’t because of the issues.

There is a Ceroc club night once a week (Thursdays) and occasional dances at the venue (usually two room affairs with a blues room along the corridor, although it is not widely used, and on poorly attended nights tends to reduce the number of dancers on the main floor still further).  Some free snacks are provided too.

The main dance room is good – it is modern, and there is air conditioning.   There is a bar (not open on club nights but open for weekend dances) at one end,  and chairs along two sides (no tables).  The floor is good, and the place feels modern and like a nice place to dance.  But…

I think the issues are actually quite small, but added together they seem to put people off.  Certainly if you turn up and the numbers are small that can be dispiriting.  Also there is often to be found a group (I have heard them called a clique) who sit together in one corner.

These are actually charming people of the younger variety, and several of the ladies in the group are exquisite dancers.  And of course they have every right to sit with their mates, but when the numbers are small, you need to be fairly confident of yourself to go and ask them to dance.  I have done it and never been turned down, and indeed always had a good dance, but you can see why they might put others off.

Then there are the little details.  Like the fact that the class nights finish at 10.30pm rather than the normal 10.45pm.  Or the fact that although there is air conditioning, it sometimes isn’t switched on.  Or the fact that the fans aren’t there because someone forgot them.  Or a door which could be opened to reduce the heat is not opened.  Or the fact that it is not at all uncommon for a request to be made for a song to be played, and for that never to happen.

Or indeed that one night when I turned up for the last hour I found eight people on the dance floor and 12 people in the kitchen area having a natter.  Of course everyone can do what they want, but it is just so off-putting to arrive and find that sort of situation.  In the end I walked into the kitchen and said “would anyone like a dance?”  No one took me up on the request.  And really, I’m not that bad a dancer.

Actually to go back a step, that issue of not playing a track is interesting.  This isn’t the only club where it happens, but there are some places that will find your track within a trice, and others who just nod, as if it will happen and it won’t.  It’s just frustrating.

Class nights when I have been have been small – maybe 30 or fewer.  Weekend dances might have 50 or more.  It’s not huge, and you might have to work to find your dances, but if you can do that, it’s fine.

  • Air conditioning:  5 out of 5 – when it is turned on in good time.
  • Atmosphere: 2 out of 5.  There isn’t really much of a way to make a good atmosphere, except by the dancers, and the existence of a clique is a bit off putting.  .
  • Do ladies ask men:  4 out of 5.  Yes they do, but because the numbers can be small, this means that the gender balance can go either way, and then make it hard to get a dance if you don’t know people.
  • Facilities: 5 out of 5.   It is a modern venue with modern facilities throughout.
  • Free water:  Yes
  • Friendliness: 2 out of 5.  Because of the clique who occupy one corner (who as I say are thoroughly nice people but because they always gather together and dance primarily with each other, give a feeling of being less than friendly) other people start to do the same.  Go on your own and it can feel anything but friendly.
  • Location: 5 out of 5.  It’s close to the town centre, on a main road, and with a huge carpark.  Perfect.
  • Music: 2 out of 5.  It seems to me very much the standard norm Ceroc type.  Nothing particularly adventurous or exciting.
  • Parking: 5 out of 5.  Right by the venue entrance, free and very large.
  • Space: 3 out of 5.  It is a small venue.  It could get very crowded if the numbers suddenly lift, but for now, it is ok.
  • Venue overall: 3 out of 5.  It could be five out of five, but isn’t.

 

Daventry

Daventry did at one time exist as a regular Ceroc venue with classes, and also occasional  dances catering for people from the area and club members, in a rather fine room suitable for the numbers.

That has all gone now and we are left with the four times a year Daventry Balls, which are huge occasions and attract many dancers from across the country.

These events themselves used to be bigger, with the large sports hall that is used decked out with decorations to make it look less like a big sports hall.  But following a dispute with the owners of the venue (I presume Daventry District Council) this has stopped.

Numbers seem to have declined in the last couple of years but for most of us this is a good thing, since it does mean there is more space to dance and it was getting just too crowded for comfort.

So, to the details.

What you get are three rooms – the gigantic main sports hall, a fair size blues room and a tango room.   The blues room is always well populated (in some locations only a few people go in and dance the blues, here that is not the case – many head straight for it).   Most events have a theme or colour for the evening.  At one event recently about 80% of the people there were dressed in red as per instructions – the ones who really stood out were the people who deliberately went in different colours.

The main room has seats and tables on three sides, the fourth side contains the stage.  Many people go in groups, and that can be a bit intimidating for those who come alone and maybe don’t have anyone to latch onto.  But of course everyone is there to dance, so walking around the tables and asking for dances will keep you going for as long as you like – normally speaking that means 2am or 3am.

The big problem has been that the venue has attracted a number of couples who come along with the prime intent of showing how wonderful they are on the dance floor.  These couples tend to dance right in front of the tables and chairs, and utterly give way to no one so that they can show off,.  This gets very boring, makes them look thoroughly prattish, and makes it hard to walk around the edge of the dance floor to get to and from one’s own table, or to look for dancers to invite to dance.

The DJs change regularly, which is good, and so the music can be varied although in the main room it never gets very far away from Ceroc mainstream.

There is a bar within the blues room, and a coffee bar in the large reception area between the three dance rooms.   Because of the size of the event, many do gather there to take a break and have natter.

There has on occasion been quite an aggressive policy against bringing one’s own drinks in, which is understandable for alcohol but ludicrous when it comes to people who have brought in their own bottle of water.  If you do take a bottle of water in, keep it in your dance bag.

You don’t have to be a great dancer to have fun here, but I suspect anyone with under 6 months of jive dancing experience would find it intimidating.  But really you are going to get the most out of it by tagging along with a group of friends and sharing their table.   And incidentally tables can all be taken quite quickly so it is worth getting there within the first hour or so.

There is usually a break around 10.30pm when a cabaret comes on.  This is made up of dance couples or companies doing their routine, so dancing in the main hall stops for about 20 minutes.   Some of the performances are quite stunning, others look what one might call “under-rehearsed”.  I don’t think dancers are paid to do the gig, so I suspect occasionally there are last minute cancellations, replaced by a local teacher and partner. Not everyone watches – many do, but many others stay in the blues room, or use this as a time to get some free food (snacks are provided), coffee etc in the reception area.

Booking in advance is possible, and usually cheaper, but I’ve never known it sold out.  However it is a very popular venue, and so most people seem to book in advance.  Be prepared to queue to get in.

  • Air conditioning: 5 out of 5 – it is a huge venue so the heat rises and seems to dissipate.  Never felt over heated at the venue.
  • Atmosphere: 4 out of 5.  The hall isn’t designed for atmosphere but after half an hour there, one easily forgets that.  In many ways the sheer number of people can make it wonderful, but if you go alone and don’t know people or have problems with the “look at us” types at the edges, that takes the shine off.
  • Do ladies ask men: 4 out of 5.  Yes they do, but again outsiders can suffer.  If you have not gone before and you are going alone, be prepared to have to ask for dances all the time.
  • Facilities: 4 out of 5 – it is a huge sports hall with no decorations (although they used to put a lot of effort into that).  Good toilets facilities, it is modern, there are even lockers where you can store clothes etc (as you would expect in a sports venue).  Take a £1 coin.
  • Free water:   Yes, but they have a silly habit of only supplying very tiny plastic cups.
  • Friendliness: 2 out of 5.  For the complete outsider, no it isn’t friendly.  But that is because this is one of the big gigs of the year and many people go in groups.  It is a place where old friends who have not seen each other in months meet by chance.
  • Location: 3 out of 5.  It’s on the outskirts of Daventry, Northants.  Not too far from the M1 if you are travelling from north or south.  From the east use the A14, go on to junction 1 of the M6, double back and follow the M1 south – unless of course you know your way through the villages.  But Daventry is a place that is near nowhere.
  • Music: 4 out of 5.  None of the DJs are that adventurous, but they are varied so if you get one you don’t like, they will be moved on anon.
  • Parking: 1 out of 5.  This is the problem.  There is a  car park a few minutes walk away, but it gets absolutely full within the first hour, and after that it is a case of driving around and taking your chance, or parking illegally.   I have found a residential street nearby and walked – but even these places get very full very quickly.
  • Space: 4 out of 5 – at the moment it seems fine – around 2013 it just felt too crowded and anyone who wanted to dance expressively was either forced into one corner, or basically unable to dance as they wished.  But if we stay at the levels seen in 2017 it is ok.
  • Venue overall: 4 out of 5

 

Uxbridge

The Middlesex Suite
Uxbridge Civic Centre
High Street,  Uxbridge, Middlesex.  UB8 1UW
I have no doubt in saying that my visit to Ceroc at Uxbridge was one of the worst dance events I have ever been to.   Indeed the few locations that I can think of that were worse have now been shut down.
.
I went as a total outsider, on my own, and found people sitting all the way around the dance areas in little groups, mostly chatting, few dancing.   I thought I might give it a few more minutes so went to the bar and bought a glass of wine.
.
Back at my table, I took a sip (it was pretty revolting) and then thought the only way I am going to get a dance is by asking.
.
I got turned down two out of three dances, the implication, as far as I could work out was that the people on that table only wanted to dance with each other, but for now were quite happy talking, thank you very much.
.
Eventually I got a couple of dances, and after each I returned to my lonesome seat.  But the second time I came back I found my glass of wine empty, with remnants of the red wine spilled across the table.
.
Quite how anyone could have “accidentally” knocked it over, given that the table was right out of the way, and no one would have had to squeeze by to get to their seat.  I looked around for anyone who might come forward and volunteer that they had done the deed, but no one wanted to.
.
I continued to ask for dances, but in the end there are only so many rejections one can take.  I gave up.
  • Air conditioning:   No idea – I didn’t get enough dances to get hot.
  • Atmosphere: 0 out of 5
  • Do ladies ask men: 0 out of 5. No they don’t.
  • Facilities: 3 out of 5.  It is a modern centre in the heart of Uxbridge.
  • Free water:    The bar is, I believe, now closed, and free water is now provided.
  • Friendliness:  Minus 10 out of 5
  • Location: 2 out of 5.  Difficult to find if you don’t know the area at all.
  • Music: 2 out of 5
  • Parking: 2 out of 5.
  • Space: 3 out of 5.  OK for the numbers there on the night I attended
  • Venue overall: 0 out of 5

Some of the ratings are above 0, but when an outsider is treated as fundamentally unwelcome, nothing can redeem the venue.

Chiswick Town Hall

Chiswick Town Hall
Heathfield Terrace
Chiswick
London
W4 4JN

The 2017 advert on the regional Ceroc site calls this “A majestic building, an fabulous venue with a dance floor to die for” and notes a little later “Also one of Ceroc Londons prestigious weekend freestyle venues hosting our very special monthly Saturday night social party nights.”

I have only been there once, and it was a few years back, but my recollection of the event was not like that at all.  The evening started with a easy intermediate lesson and then went into freestyle.  The number of people was modest – about 60 or so I’d guess.

Friendliness was in short supply largely because most of the people who went, turned up as couples.  So yes they would swap partners, but the men half of the couple seemed decidedly miffed to see a solo male try to pinch the lady – even if it was for only one dance.

As for the venue – it is a traditional Town Hall with the central room used as a dance floor.  It was perfectly fine, but not that special

  • Air conditioning: Can’t say.   The number of people there was modest so the chances of getting too hot were limited.
  • Atmosphere: 1 out of 5.  The hall isn’t designed for atmosphere sadly.   It’s not bad but it is not brilliant.
  • Do ladies ask men:  0 out of 5.  I didn’t get asked once, and had to ask all the way through the night – and got turned down quite a few times.
  • Facilities: 2 out of 5 – it is an old town hall.
  • Free water:  Yes
  • Friendliness: 0 out of 5.  I was there right at the start, but no one came up to say “hi, haven’t seen you here before.”  Not the organiser, not the early arrivers, not no one.
  • Location: 3 out of 5.  Just off the main road and I found parking in a side street.  But I was there early.  I am not sure where else one would park.
  • Music: 3 out of 5
  • Parking:  See location.
  • Space: 5 out of 5 – what is needed is more people there not more space.
  • Venue overall: 2 out of 5

Hucknall known as “Temptation”

John Godber Centre, Ogle Street, Hucknall, NG15 7FQ

This venue is run by Ceroc Heaven, but watch out – it is not listed as Hucknall on their Diary Page on the website.  Rather it is just “Temptation”.  Nothing wrong with calling an event something – except for old timers like me who are easily confused and expect a venue to be named after, well, the venue.

Anyway, Temptation it is.

Hucknall town centre is a building site at the moment (2017) so beware the road closures, but Ogle Street has remained open throughout.  There is parking in Ogle Street itself and there is a car park on the corner before you come into Ogle Street, plus a raised car park just beyond.  (Drive past the venue with the venue on your left and then turn left up the ramp).

The venue is on the first floor and perfectly adequate for the size of the crowd with chairs along two sides and tables and chairs at one end.  There’s a standard type stage at the other end.  Off the dance area there is a separate room with the bar and places to sit and chat, which is rather nice.   There is always a free array of food as well.

I have always enjoyed this venue because there’s never a shortage of dances to be had.  I’m asked, and there are always ladies to ask – it works well.  On one occasion they did run a blues class on a dance night at 8.30pm, which meant that just as the dance floor was getting going, so then people left the dance and went to the class, which I felt interrupted the whole flow of the evening, but maybe that was just me wanting to dance.

 

  • Air conditioning: Never seems to get too hot. No problem.
  • Atmosphere: 5 out of 5.  It is just a regular room but it really works – not least because people who want to drop out for a while, have the room by the bar to do so in.
  • Do ladies ask men: 4 out of 5.  Maybe I got lucky but I got requests to dance from beginners to advanced dancers.  All the time – in fact.
  • Facilities: 5 out of 5.  What else do you want at a dance?
  • Free water: Yes
  • Friendliness: 5 out of 5.  Totally warm and welcoming.
  • Location: 4 out of 5.  It is along a side street and the first time I was there I wondered where the venue was, but really it’s not too hard to find not least because it is the only place in Ogle Street that looks like a club.
  • Music: 5 out of 5 – nothing I couldn’t dance to and plenty that are a challenge
  • Parking: 5 out of 5: the street and two car parks.
  • Space: 4 out of 5 – just beware if it becomes more and more popular.
  • Venue overall: 5 out of 5 – but getting close to 5.