Oh dear.

For the first time in ages I checked my short ‘Other interesting blogs’ list (cast your eyes right on the Home page to see it).

If nothing else, it shows what an ephemeral and patchy place the blogosphere is

  • My favourite blog – known to all its friends as WLLG – has ceased, it is no more, it is a dead blog, much to the regret of its followers. But still worth having a look at the archive they’ve left up for some of the posts and discussion if you’re interested in the world of public service
  • One has disappeared completely
  • The other two haven’t had new posts since 2010 and 2011 respectively.

It all makes me look quite assiduous and productive by comparison (hollow laugh off-stage from partner).

So do I drop the list or update it?

I’m inclined to keep it going and have one or two ideas for what to add. But this is my plea for ideas from all HelpGov readers.

Bearing in mind that I’m ‘trying to make sense of government and public services, and other stuff’ what would you suggest goes on my blogroll?

Click ‘Leave a comment’ to help.  Thanks.

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For those not in the know that’s the name of a blog that charts both the vagaries and wonder of local government in the UK.  You’ll always find a link to it on the right hand side of the HelpGov home page but if in doubt click here.

HelpGov has a special reason to like We ♥ local government today because they’ve just included us in a list of their own favourite blogs that also deal one way or the other with local government.

They are wise indeed because this is what they say about the HelpGov blog:

Helpgov’s helpful blog

Why? Because we love the style of the blog and the writing of the author, Roger White. It’s a mix of serious posts, helpful suggestions and serious dissection of published nonsense.

One to read: Check out this post about the employability of former local government workers.

I’m flattered.  Thanks people, whoever you are (as local government employees they sensibly choose to remain anonymous).  They in turn are well worth a read if you haven’t checked them out yet.

Postscript 27 June 2012 – I hope it’s not the curse of HelpGov but sadly We ♥ local government announced today that it will no longer be active.  Perhaps that’s why they were doing a round up of their favourite blogs yesterday.  In all seriousness, I think they’ve just found the amount of work needed to blog every day (and I might add in such an entertaining and thought-provoking way) too much effort for a small team also in full-time employment.  I hope they leave their blog online as a valuable archive of what the major and current issues concerning local government in the UK in 2009-2012.  Thanks, guys.


Once upon a time, there was a wee girl who lived in a beautiful part of one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

The school she went to was in a lovely new building that overlooked a sea loch near an old village.

The wee girl was very interested in writing.  One day her teacher asked everyone in her class to do a writing project.  She asked her mum and dad for ideas and decided to write a ‘blog’ about her school dinners.

With some help from her dad she started the blog, thinking that her family and maybe the children she went to school with might be interested in it.  Because it was about food she also asked anyone who read it to give some money to a charity that provided school dinners for children in poor countries.

It was a clever idea.  She took a photo of her school dinner each day, gave it a score on something she invented called a Food-o-meter and said what she thought about the food.

Of course, she didn’t like some of what she had to eat, even though she could choose from different things.  But children are like that everywhere.  And sometimes she said things like ‘Lunch was really nice today’ and ‘The fajita was lovely.’

Then some funny things started to happen.

Children from other countries began to send her photos of their own school dinners.  She put them on her blog and said what she thought about the photos.

More and more people started to look at what she wrote and eventually she was asked with her dad to visit a famous chef who was talking about school dinners.

The next day something terrible happened.

A newspaper from a big city wrote about her visit to the famous chef.  They had a headline that said ‘Time to fire the dinner ladies,’ something the wee girl and her dad had never said and was a very lazy and stupid thing to write.

Her school had been happy when she started the blog but now of course the poor dinner ladies were upset and afraid for their jobs.

The council, who ran the school she went to, wasn’t as clever as it could have been and said she couldn’t take photos of her dinners any more.  She was called out of a lesson to be told this, which wasn’t perhaps the most sensible thing to do, because children don’t like that and it might have been a good idea to tell her dad first.

Well, you wouldn’t believe the fuss it all caused.

The TV, radio and other newspapers all found out what was going on.  Suddenly what had happened was news throughout the world.  Millions of people looked at her blog and thousands tweeted about it.  People started to say that the ban on her taking photos was silly.

Within a day the council had to change its mind and said she could still take photos.  Unfortunately, by then people had started to write all sorts of unkind things about them.  Some puppets from Glasgow even sung a song about the council!

An important man from the council called the ‘leader’ said he would meet the wee girl and her dad and ‘seek her continued engagement,’ which was a strange thing to say to a wee girl.

Children, fairy tales are funny things.  They teach you lessons, if you think about them, but they don’t always have happy endings.  This fairy tale hasn’t ended yet.  What do you think its lessons will be?  Do you think it will have a happy ending for anyone and if so, who?

Also worth reading – Adrian Short’s more technical analysis of the council’s original press release on this subject (now disappeared from their web site)


As I write this, the number of page views of the HelpGov blog in its current incarnation has just passed 20,000. A milestone of sorts, I guess, although any half-decent statistician will tell you that the number has no more significance than 19,738, 24,444 or even 2.

My thanks to everyone who’s dropped by over the last 22 months to check out my ramblings especially the public sector types (or increasingly as hard times have bitten, ex-public sector types) who were the mainstay of readers when I was attempting to provide consultancy services to your sadly diminished sector.  I hope you feel able to stick with me as my mind wanders into less-constrained spaces.

My thanks also to those of you who arrived via various search engines – OK, 90-something% of you via Google.  Some of you seemed genuinely interested in what I write, a surprising number of you searched for information about Post-it notes or wheelie bins, and someone thought I might have a 2010 map of New York City lurking somewhere in the 185 posts I’ve written so far.  Bless you all. I hope you found what you wanted, even if it’s not here.

To the spammers who’ve tried to insinuate all sorts of bizarre information into the comment space on the blog about male growth supplements (sic), carpet cleaning in San Antonio and young ladies in strange places desperate to meet me, nice try guys but don’t waste your energy.

And if you’ve got any energy left after reading this, here are the most popular places you’ve all visited on the blog so far.

Happy reading in future.

PS Don’t blame me if the links in the list above come out in different colours.  It’s a quirk of the WordPress template I use.