Monthly Archives: June 2017

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.

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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…
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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.
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The website.  
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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.
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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.
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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.
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I said that I wanted some tap water.
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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.
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Finding the place
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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.
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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.
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Neither the Ceroc site nor the Massey Ferguson site helps with this at all, which is a shame.
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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.
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On entering the club
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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.
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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).
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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.
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  • 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.