Now then. Hmm. Excuse me, a moment. I'm just going through the contents of my hamper.
Let's see ... oh, yes. Lovely. Look forward to that. Gosh: how lucky am I?
Yes: on Christmas Eve, you see, to Mrs Angry's great surprise, a passing council grit lorry skidded to a rather undignified halt outside the Angry house, the doorbell rang, and when she went to see who was there, she found, you'll never guess, no, not an illegal delivery of black market pavement salt - an enormous wicker hamper, courtesy of Barnet Council.
Can you imagine the excitement? Well, at first, of course, she thought it was an abandoned baby, or an unwanted model for local government, but no, it was addressed to Mrs Angry, with a note, Alice in Wonderland style, saying 'Eat Me'. She couldn't help but notice the price tag: £350! Oh: no - hold on - looking a little closer ... actually, it was £3.50, but still: it's the thought that counts, isn't it?
So what have we got here? Let's have a look. You jealous, Brian? Any white truffle oil then? No. Oh. Bottle of Tarragon and Lime Mayonnaise? Nope. Vintage port? Champers?
Oh, well, after all, this is not just any old hamper, this is a One Barnet hamper, so: a Tesco value six pack of Cheesy Wotsits - nice. A Doner Kebab flavor Pot Noodle. Lovely. A pack of Chocotastic Pop Tarts, a tin of spam, a packet of Cheesestrings, (oh: six months past its sell by date?) and a bottle of Irn-Bru.
Thank you very much.
Mrs Angry is deeply touched by this generous gesture. In the interests of transparency she will of course declare all gifts in the opted out section of the Barnet Bloggers' register of interest. (Only if someone notices she hasn't done it yet, and lodges an official complaint, otherwise she won't need to bother, of course).
And it goes without saying, naturally, that this thoughtful gift will not in any way influence the opinions, judgement, objectivity, integrity or professional standards of the Broken Barnet blog.
Have I mentioned, incidentally, that for a long time now I have been thinking of quietly abandoning the name, "Broken Barnet"?
I am toying with something, well, a little less in your face, something a little more wholesome and edifying: something like 'Beautiful Barnet, a successful suburb' (apart from a few areas of social deprivation/slums) or 'One Barnet, One People, One Leader' (- a little too fascistic, maybe?) One Barnet, Two Nations? (Too divisive?) It's a work in progress, anyway.
And, frankly, I do increasingly worry that, in many ways, 'Broken Barnet' projects an unnecessarily negative image to our borough, and I have to ask myself, at a time like this, when times are so challenging and we are, as we know, all in this together, should we bloggers not try to turn away from the 'drip, drip, drip' of poisonous criticism of our beloved councillors, and learn to love them just as they are, warts and all? They are only human, after all. Well, human-oid, anyway.
Citizens of Broken Barnet: it is not our place to question our elected representatives. They know what is best for us, and must be allowed to get on with the important job or running the borough and raking in their allowances (oh dear, old habits die hard) -no, Mrs Angry - running the borough and what was it now, heading a ruthless drive for efficiency, delivering better services for - sorry, lost the last line of your message, councillor, what was it? Oh: less money? No, that can't be right, because it doesn't make sense, does it? What? Doesn't matter, no one listens anyway? Hmm. You could be right.
If Barnet is broken: let's fix it, shall we?
And, as part of our new sensitive approach to borough affairs, Mrs Angry has decided to gently encourage the darling councillors in their endeavours, supporting their stalwart efforts, and highlighting the magnificent work of the last few months.
As we approach the end of the old year, therefore, and the beginning of a new one, Mrs Angry has decided it might be appropriate to mark some of the acheivements of the last twelve months with some special awards. The lucky recipients have been notified, of course, and sworn to secrecy, and will receive their New Year Dishonour at a ceremony, date yet to be arranged, at the Arts Depot in - oh, hold on .... no, scratch that out, might not be open by then, er at a local museum: oh, maybe not, alright, arts or community venue - oh, there aren't any? Oh dear. Well, then, at Chipping Barnet Library - what? Banned? Mrs Angry? Do you know who I am?
Huh. Well, let's see then.
The Broken Barnet Awards for 2010 are as follows:
For unstinting labour on behalf of the community, in some cases, attending no less than two meetings a year of a Committee, and for a mere extra allowance of £15,333: step forward eight lucky Tories:
Councillor Andreas Tambourides, Licensing Committee, two scheduled meetings this year, saw his allowance rise from a stingy £9,974 to a slightly improved £15,333.
Councillor Brian Gordon, Policy & Performance OSC, two meetings scheduled, also now gets £15,333.
Councillor John Marshall, Pension Fund, four meetings, increased to £15,333:
Councillor Alison Cornelius, Health OSC, five meetings: increased to £15,333
Councillor Joan Scannell, General Functions, five meetings:£15,333 Councillor Hugh Rayner, Bus Mgt OSC sub: eight meetings, £15,333
Councillor Darrel Yawitch, Budget Perf OSC, nine meetings: £15,333
Councillor Wendy Prentice, Planning Environment, twelve meetings: £15,333
Well done, all of you for such timely and well deserved increases of 54% extra for these Committee posts. The council officers who write your reports and do most of the committee work for you are sitting at home re-reading their 90 day redundancy notices, as we speak, but I am sure they will join in the hearty congratulations.
Broken Barnet Charity of the Year; for bringing the true message of the gospel to the community, offering loving support for the less advantaged, especially to the homeless: Finchley Methodist Church.
The Broken Barnet Fiction Prize for 2010 goes to: the person(s) responsible for the Ideas Barnet website, of course. Rest assured that Mrs Angry has her admiring eye on you, and your creative talents!
A special award, now, for outstanding modesty and self deprecating shyness in public office.
Yes, step forward, the six councillors who have decided that putting the details of their interests, gifts and hospitality online might lead us to think they are showing off, and encourage outbursts of public envy, so kindly withheld their forms from public view.
Your thoughtfulness and discretion is most becoming, and an example to us all.
The 2010 joint Broken Barnet/Turner Prize award goes to a ground breaking example of installation art: "Four Useless and Unnecessary New Street Lights with No Lamps attached". This work has been on show in our street since the summer, and has drawn much admiration and gratitude from local residents, despite the multi million pound cost of the boroughwide project: a thought provoking, ironic piece of conceptual art, subtly playing on contemporary themes of meaninglessness, and the loss of idealism and principle in public life.
Broken Barnet Quotation of the Year: difficult one, this. The nominations, please, Mrs X ... no,no, no - don't open the envelope yet, you fool: firstly, of course, we are going to hear some highlights of the last year: unfortunately there really was too much choice, but we have narrowed the field to our special favourites:
A special commendation, therefore, for referring to those in the public sector as not having 'real jobs' 14th September, Councillor Tom Davey - who works for a tobacco company.
For informing us that 'there have been many cases in this country of people brought up in poverty who thrived on it.' Councillor Richard Cornelius, 20th October
But perhaps the last word, and the winning entry, should be from our dear Leader:
'You won't teach me anything about incompetence'. Lynne Hillan, 2nd November
No one is going to argue with you on that one, dear.
Finally, and most important of all: the Broken Barnet Civic Award.
This award is given to someone who, as the strict criteria of a certain other Civic Award demand, "deserves recognition", "works tirelessly for little or no reward" and gives up their time to volunteer for a good cause".
The winner of this award has dedicated an enormous amount of his time, energy and enthusiasm on behalf of the residents of this borough, taking the initiative when local press and politicians have failed to act, and campaigned on countless issues of concern to us all. I refer, of course, to Mr Roger Tichborne, and his Barnet Eye blog.
Commendations too to fellow bloggers Vicki Morris, for her eternal optimisim, Mr Reasonable, for his eagle eyed armchair auditing, and of course, the master, DCMD (when he just can't stop himself).
A very Happy New Year to all readers.