Monday, 30 August 2010

Raspberry Jam 2010

With supplies of 2009 raspberry jam running very low a start has been made on the 2010 vintage. It looks good, smells good and soon we shall know if it tastes good.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

My doppelganger

One lunchtime I accompanied a few friends to the local pub for a drink. The landlord was sporting a huge bandage on a thumb. After a while he accosted me and said he was disappointed I had not shown a keen interest in his thumb. It took a while for me and my colleagues to convince him that I was not employed at the local hospital in the A & E department. There followed a profuse apology and free drinks for my party.

A week or so later I am standing at the bar in another pub when I receive a hearty slap on the back and the comment: 'mine's a pint' directed in my direction. On turning round my assailant had a double-take. 'Good god' he said, 'you aren't my brother-in-law'. Apparently my shape and mannerisms were identical to this other person. And, yes, he did work at the local hospital. A free drink followed.

I never did get to see my identical twin.

Gardening notes

I have been pleased with the display in the garden this year. Plenty of colour and variety. The new plants have settled in well, the runner beans are cropping nicely and the raspberries are ripening, although they are later this year. I put this down to the prolonged hot spell. Raspberry jam making will start soon.

To water or not to water the garden in hot weather? I water tubs, anything newly planted and the vegetable patch. Other than that I think it is preferable to let nature take its course. Roots will burrow down for water so established plants should be left well-alone.

The recent heavy rain and winds has played havoc with some of my plants, so tomorrow I shall be cutting back damaged growth as well as giving some of the shrubs a hard prune. Then I hope to be able to leave the gardening for the rest of the year, apart from collecting raspberries and runner beans.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Blundering Kent Police (2)

I return to my previous blog concerning the councillor in Medway who resigned after just thirteen days. I have gleaned the following from the BBC News website:

A Kent Police spokesman said: "We recognise the decision David Craggs has made.

"It is very important that policing is politically impartial and seen to be impartial, and we are pleased that Mr Craggs will now be able to continue to serve the community in his role as a special constable."

This is a load of tosh. The Police Authority has elected councillors as members. Six are Conservative, Labour has one as does the Liberal Democrats. One of the Conservative members recently hit the headlines for being drunk in Parliament, so it must have been bad given the propensity MPs have to over- indulging in alcohol.

Could it be that Mr Craggs has been caught up in the opposition being voiced by Kent Police Authority and Kent Police to elected police commissioners? This whole episode stinks to high heaven and I trust the Home Office will launch an inquiry in to this blatant interference with the democratic process.

Not a peep from Ann Barnes.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Blundering Kent Police

A couple of weeks a go a Conservative won a by-election for a seat on Medway Council. He is a headteacher and by all accounts a well-respected member of the community. A few days later he resigned and a by-election has been called to fill the vacancy.

It transpired that he resigned as he had been informed by Kent Police (I assume the Kent Police Authority) that, as he was a special constable, he could not be a councillor. My initial reaction was to question why he and the Conservative Party had not sorted this issue out before he stood for the election. Apparently they did and were informed there was no problem.

However, after the election the advice from the Police changed and the new councillor had to decide if he wished to remain a councillor or a special constable. He chose the latter.

But there is a further twist to the story. After he resigned the Police decided that there is no legal basis to preclude a special constable from being a councillor. What a shambles.

It has been suggested by a fellow Conservative councillor that the individual at the centre of this crisis should stand again and that opposition parties should not contest the election. Two reasons are advanced. The first is that the cause of the resignation can be laid clearly at the door of Kent Police. The second reason is that an uncontested election will not cost any money.

I understand the reasoning, but feel that there should be a contest and that its focus should be to put Kent Police (Authority) in the spotlight.

So far I have seen no comment from Ann Barnes, the Chair of the Kent Police Authority, who is for ever regaling the press with stories of how wonderful the Police Authority is and how unnecessary it is to replace her with an elected police commissioner.

The buck stops with her. She should resign, but I doubt if she will. The electorate will not have an opportunity to pass judgement on the crass ineptitude over which she presides. An elected police commissioner would have to run the gauntlet of the electorate.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Sheffield concerts

Many, many years ago I attended concerts at the City Hall, Sheffield. Indeed I purchased a season ticket for the fortnightly Saturday series. Orchestras from around the country played, indeed we had the occasional overseas orchestra.

The Halle Orchestra were regulars, conducted by Sir John Barbirolli. The fact they came from Manchester was forgiven, indeed they were enrolled as honorary Yorkshire men and women. The audience adored Barbirolli. He would shuffle on to the podium, strike up the National Anthem, turn to the audience to conduct their singing, shrug his shoulders as the audience uttered not a note and turn to the orchestra shaking his head. It was a ritual enjoyed by all.

I recall Sir Adrian Boult conducting one of the London based orchestras and Sir Charles Groves was a regular visitor with the Liverpool Philharmonic.

Part of the enjoyment was the interval drink. Not in the crush bar, but a dash out of the City Hall, down the steps (tricky in winter) and across the road into the pub. Just time for a 'steady' pint and then back for the second half. We knew the repertoire well enough to know that one pint meant a comfortable second-half, more and it became a mite uncomfortable!

Some of the audience sat behind the orchestra, only a couple of paces from the percussion instruments. I often wondered how an orchestra sounded listening to it from behind.

After the concert it was a dash to The Talbot Arms in Dronfield Woodhouse for a couple of pints. In those days the pub was in a terrace and very popular. A roaring fire beckoned on cold evenings, but one soon discovered that proximity to the fireplace had its disadvantages in a crowded pub!

The Talbot Arms closed and was replaced by an estate style pub which took the name of the old pub. It was never the same, the atmosphere created in the old pub was destroyed in the barn like proportions of the new building.

Our party transferred to The Green Dragon in Dronfield - but that is another story!

Urgent Petition: Tunbridge Wells Town Hall Complex

To : TWBC Planning Department.
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council,
Town Hall
Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1RS.

OR :

Marked for the attention of: Mr. Jonathan MacDonald, Director.
copy to :


Royal Tunbridge Wells

We object most strongly to the Council’s proposed redevelopment plans for this wonderful Grade II complex. It highlights an architectural period of between-the-wars quality, both inside and out, which must not be lost to future generations. Designed by the then RIBA president, we are fortunate that it retains all its original art deco and art nouveau features including its lights and finishes.

The Town Hall Complex is unique in that in one town centre location it houses the council function, the 1,000 seat excellent Assembly Theatre, the central library, the high quality museum, a purpose designed art gallery, the architecturally special Adult Education Centre (also Grade II listed), and the Police Station. The loss of these vital and excellent cultural and community amenities would be devastating to the town and local community. For example, it will mean the end of the wonderful RTW Symphony Orchestra and the other art and entertainment organisations based at the Assembly Hall.

If planning consent is approved for this redevelopment it will be a far-ranging disaster
affecting everyone who lives in the town and surrounding area. This is URGENT, must be received by 30TH AUGUST

We the undersigned strongly object to these plans :



I have a Facebook page. Sadly it has become an addiction, almost. Evenings spent adding posts, commenting on the posts of others, engaging in conversation either on the pages or by instant messaging, quite apart from contributing to other sites.

At the last count I had 194 friends.

It is all too much. I have decided to cut down my activity to one hour each day. Doubtless I shall suffer withdrawal symptoms, but I shall be strong!

My discourse on Facebook is eclectic, I have friends with diverse political views: from the far right to the far left and at most points between the two. One of my friends commented that he could not work out my political allegiance as I disseminate information and comment on the foibles of all the political parties. So far I have not been accused of 'trolling'.

Now what is this Twitter?

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Parish Council for Rusthall: process rumbles on.

Today I received a letter from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council informing me of the next stages in the process to decide if Rusthall should have a parish council. My main concern is that parish councils have very few powers and if it is worth all the cost and effort that is entailed.

However, I have been encouraged by noises emanating from, amongst other, the Local Government Association, proposing that parish councils be given additional responsibilities to deliver the Big Society (a vague concept in many respects). How this would be achieved is uncertain, but it would be a challenge for parish councils and might attract more people to stand for election. We shall see.

Lewes-Uckfield and more....

On the list of links to the right of this page is one entitled: New Railway for Brighton. An interesting site. Last Friday the Courier newspaper carried a two page spread article on the proposals by the Wealden Link to re-open the Uckfield-Lewes line and much more besides.

The Courier's editorial was devoted to supporting the proposals. More and more people and realising the value of re-opening this short section of railway and but for the intransigence of East Sussex County Council it is likely that we could be looking forward to the re-opening of the line in a few years time. Eventually, the line will be re-opened: but only after years of travel misery for many.

The Courier also reported on plans to drive a new road into the North Farm Retail Park. Again, this should have been done years ago. Longfield Road is hopelessly congested and matters are not helped by the traffic jams which build up at the junction of Longfield Road and the A21. When Bluewater was planned a key element was building suitable transport infrastructure before the centre opened. Sadly, this has not been the case with North Farm.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

More trains on time!!

Recently I had to travel by public transport between Gravesend and Tunbridge Wells. Which way to travel - via London Bridge or Strood? Price determined my decision - £13.60 via Strood, a whopping £20.60 via London Bridge. What adds insult to injury is that there is little in it time wise -indeed the trains I caught resulted in an overall journey time quicker than the dog-leg via London Bridge. Daylight robbery.

Had I a desire to be really adventurous I could have paid £29.00 and travelled from Gravesend to Ebbsfleet, then via the high speed line to Ashford, thence to Tonbridge and finally to Tunbridge Wells! Seriously, this is one of the options offered by the Network Rail Journey Planner site!

All the trains were on time. On the Gravesend-Strood leg of the journey the train consisted of the new stock used on the high speed commuter trains. The air-conditioning and ride were superb. The only problem was the announcement, made every thirty seconds for the entire ten minute journey, of stops - Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham, Sittingbourne and Faversham.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Stop the press: trains on time!

Yesterday I travelled from Tunbridge Wells to Woodford Green. All the trains I caught were on time. The Underground services were all running well. No delays or long gaps between trains.

Indeed, the times I have been to London this year have been ones of trouble-free travel.

Kent Police Authority

The following appeared in Kent News on-line as a response to Anne Barnes defence of the Kent Police Authority. Whilst it is somewhat rambling there are a few nuggets.

A school governor, Ken Little wrote to KoS refuting the defensive denials of Anne Barnes and the scaremongering of police federation statements. The police force used to be more responsive when it was run military style. It's character changed the more the police were allowed to abuse sick pay, overtime and get away with using excessive force. Ms Barnes sounds very much like the woman who fronts the Banker's association. Self-praise is no praise. She has been in harness for long enough to have met and greeted families and individuals affected by violent crime or hidden abuse, eg suffered by children and women in their own homes, or intimidation and blackmail suffered by whistleblowers in the NHS, local councils, police and other institutions is routinely swept under the carpet or settled with gagging orders. The police and so called independent police authorities are symptomatic of widespread social malaise and decline, as despicable as teachers who turn a blind eye to bullying in school / neighbours who ignore their eldery or vulnerable neighbours. I believe what is wrong with police is systemic failure, government interference, warped priorities, racism against black police officers / prejudice against certain sections of the community, a sense of entitlement to overtime, targets, questionable statistics, much untransparency, ie we are told only what the police want us to know. The public are also to blame, uncaring, unquestioning, or indifferent where £billions are not spent in our best interests and civil liberties eroded.


I had never been to Faversham until last week. Apart from the town having a brewery and being at the end of Faversham Creek I knew little about the place.

Delightful town, pedestrian free centre and a dearth of the high street national retailers. Much to see and do.

Well worth a visit.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Who would you nominate?

Epping Forest District Council has received a formal petition calling on the Council to change its system of government to one which has an mayor elected directly by citizens of that fair district.

Set me thinking. Let's suppose Tunbridge Wells Borough Council had an elected mayor. Who would you nominate to be a candidate?

I think I will suggest to the Courier that it runs an article on this.