Category Archives: Topical

HS2: A Catastrophic White Elephant That’s Trampling All Over Us (And You)

It’s happening…..

Apparently.  The ‘wonderful’ ‘much-needed’ and extremely expensive ‘White Elephant’ known as HS f*****g 2 in The Mad Shanks Residence has been given Royal Assent!

Why, is a question no-one in their correct, sane mind can seem to answer.


Fast or not… we don’t need it! And business people don’t need it either.

Our much-loved and incredible NHS is under so much pressure that it’s at breaking point, waiting times for operations are to increase and the wonderful people who work for the NHS are becoming disillusioned at having to do more with less and less money.

But, £50b+ for a train that goes from one station (nowhere near anywhere) to another, is, apparently, a great way to spend money that should be funding our future generations by overhauling our antiquated education system and keeping the entire nation healthy.


That’s just laughable.

Why am I ranting on about HS2 again?  Because we have yet another meeting looming with them which will no doubt result in the same old song from HS2 about there being nothing they can do and us reiterating, once again, that we’re caught between a rock and hard place and their house survey and valuation has been absolutely useless in moving us any further forward!

Oh yes, and according to them, the noise during construction and operation will be little more than we already experience!

Now if you’ve not been to the middle of the countryside you won’t know the silence we’re fortunate enough to be surrounded by.

We live in the middle of nowhere and can, literally, hear a pin drop outside our house at any time!  The heavy plant machinery and the high speed train that will follow, are again, apparently, silent! Incredible eh?

So much time wasted by so many people trying to fight HS2

We’re not the only people suffering with a monster that we never asked for but that we ‘just have to put up with’ according to the powers that be.

Expensive trips to London having already paid for the ‘privilege’ of petitioning the Government were a complete waste of time and money, time and money I can ill-afford.

The equivalent of weeks and months of my life have been spent researching, fighting and writing lengthy letters and petitions against something that I, and everyone else in our situation, has never asked for, but the onus is on us to present our cases.

To say that I’m pissed off would be putting it very lightly. Seven years of my life have been eaten up, both mentally and physically, by a beast that has had a huge effect on my family’s already fragile, mental health.

Do we have any course for redress?  Can we claim any compensation for distress caused?  Can we get any compensation for our lives being turned upside down by years of construction and then a sodding train running right past our door?

Any compensation for the fact that we’ve lived in absolute peace for 30 years and now that peace (the reason we moved here) will be gone forever?  NO, nothing, not until the train is operational in 20 years time so they can assess the impact it’s had on us.  Absolute bollocks!

Ah!….I’m so sorry…..I forgot one critically important thing!!!!  How could I be so dumb?!

I’m forgetting that HS2 is actually a giant ‘gravy train’ for back slapping businessmen and bureaucrats to make shed loads of money from.

The little people like us don’t mean a thing when there are such huge amounts of money to be made, it makes sense now!

Why on earth do I have any expectations that we would be treated like human beings with the right to live the peaceful life we’ve paid a fortune for over the years? Why would we expect people on whom HS2 will have no impact (everyone I’ve met involved in the project to date) to understand the distress and life changing impact it’s having?

Now I’m not anti-progress or anti-business. Not at all. But the journey time from Birmingham to London will be shortened by a whopping 10 whole minutes. The other end isn’t even going to link to Heathrow or the Channel Tunnel as per the original plans. As well as ruining miles of beautiful landscapes including protected wildlife, it’s set to use an ENORMOUS amount of electricity and is horribly environmentally unfriendly.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s only affordable for the super-rich anyway? Us normal folk won’t be hopping on it to travel to London any more quickly. This means it just won’t free up any capacity on normal trains.

There are better ways of improving the rail service. I’m not a rail expert so I don’t profess to know what they are. But the knowledge is out there.

If you want to see EVEN MORE reasons why this is a catastrophe for our country (and not just the Shanks household!) have a look here:

Useless rant over.  HS2 are impervious to everything, the train will go ahead regardless and folks like us will just have to subserviently bow our heads and keep quiet…..or will we?


Richard Branson, “Screw it, Let’s do it!”

Keep learning

“Screw it, let’s do it!”, a tiny little book written by Richard Branson containing so many true words.  I bought it years ago in Tesco, it was one the ‘Quick Read’ series for only £1, a great investment!  I read it, read it again some months later and then it got lost in the black hole known affectionately as ‘The Mad Shanks Residence’.  Over the past few years I’ve wanted to read it again but haven’t been able to find a copy, feeling determined a couple of days ago, I looked on Amazon and ‘Bingo’, the next day my brand new copy arrived and I was clutching it in my sweaty little mitt!

I’ve just been sitting in the sun reading it (only takes about an hour) but so much wisdom squeezed into such a small book.   He talks candidly of his successes and failures, about his philosophy on life and about being passionate about what you do, he also believes that life should be fun, and I agree with him.

Enjoy what you do and the money will follow

‘My doctor says I should try to have more fun at work.’

His philosophy is that once something you do no longer feels like fun, it’s time to stop or find of way of making it fun again.  Have fun and the money will follow, rather than focusing on making money alone.  I’ve brought my children up to follow their dreams and enjoy life, it’s too short to have it any other way, and thankfully, that’s exactly what they’re doing.  They may never be rich but at least they will spend their lives doing what they love and that’s the most important thing.

Love him or not, no-one can deny that Richard Branson has lived his life to the full and created a lot of great stuff along the way.  He’s not conventional (thank goodness!) and takes well thought through, calculated risks, we could all learn a lot from him and other people like him.  Keeping an open mind and being constantly in learning mode is a valuable thing, and make sure you’re having fun!

My TED Talk:-


New Year Resolutions

I’ve never been big on New Year Resolutions myself, I always feel that if you can achieve a new goal from the first of January then you should be able to do it anytime.  Therefore, I’ve always shunned the notion of making resolutions that happen to start on the 1st day of the year in favour of doing whatever it is I want to change when the time feels right.





This approach has worked fairly well for me over the years but 2016 has brought its own very specific and major challenges, so I’m feeling a little different this year.  This does feel like the right time to make certain changes and I’ve started some of them already (a little rebellion going on here I think?!), 2017 just HAS to be a better year all round!  So, here I am, sitting in my local Costa, making a flow chart of the things I need to change and how I’m going to go about making those changes.

I’m also setting goals which is something else I haven’t done for a while, life has been so unpredictable and changeable that goals have felt like an unachievable dream, better not to set them in the first place has become my way of thinking.  This, of course, is totally wrong of me, if you don’t know where you’re going how on earth are you going to get there?  Most of us don’t set off in a car without knowing what our destination is, why should we treat our lives differently?  I’m hauling myself up by the bootstraps on that one and giving myself a firm rap on the knuckles for being so stupid!

And I’m not just making professional goals, I’m setting goals for my health as well.  I’ve neglected myself over the last couple of years, which again, has been rather stupid of me, how can I care for anyone else if I’m not well enough?  Self care is not a selfish act, it’s a necessity, without our health we have nothing and the general aches and pains and lack of energy I’m currently experiencing has got to end, I have far too much to accomplish to allow my general health and wellbeing to hold me back.  I have a lot of changes to make in that area and I’m jolly well going to make them, and stick to them.

Work wise I know what I am going to achieve every day/week, health wise I know what I’m going to do in order to feel well enough to do them, and, in terms of personal development, I need to get back to some old, good habits that have fallen by the wayside.  It’s time for me to give myself a huge kick up the backside and I guess I’m pretty screwed as I’m making it all public!

Maybe this is a good time of year to review our lives and consider making any necessary changes, maybe I’ve been narrow-minded in not, at the very least, looking at my life from a different perspective at this time of year and considering what could be better in the coming year?  Well, this year I’m doing it, I will share update reports every so often to let everyone know how I’m doing and what has worked and what hasn’t, maybe sharing my successes and failures will help someone else?


Trump…….3 reasons why you shouldn’t panic!

IT WON’T!  That’s the truth…… just won’t.  Why?  Because we will continue living our lives just as we always have, we still have free will, we can still choose our destiny, our lives and whether we experience success or failure still lie within our own capacity to dream and make the things happen that we believe in.



Was I rooting for Trump to become President?….absolutely not!  But then, my leaning towards Hilary Clinton was based more on the fact that she’s a woman (and therefore possibly a little less likely to push the ‘red button’ on a whim?!….not the best of reasons!), so really I had no strong feelings either way.  Maybe it’s because I’ve seen so many Presidents come and go, all controversial and all coming with their own sensational cock-ups, that I no longer feel the need to panic about such things?  I’ve lived through Watergate, Clinton’s sexual shenanigans and having a Hollywood actor as President, and whilst I sincerely do believe that Trump is Narcissistic and possibly a psychopath, can he really be any worse on a global level?

Of course, I may be proved wrong on that one and he may well turn out to be a dangerous man, but as we as individuals have absolutely no control over the reality that he is now President of the USA, we might as well just focus on our own lives and get on with it.

Shades of Brexit panic spring to mind as well, has the world come to an end?  No.  Will Brexit enable us to trade globally more freely? Maybe.  Has it affected most people’s everyday lives? No.  And this is the same….

Belive in yourself and your dreams, work hard towards achieving your goals, don’t waste your energy on getting het up about something you have no control over.  Life, and how our own lives turn out is entirely up to us, the decisions we make and how hard we’re prepared to work to achieve them.

Some of my lifelong advice to my children include:-