Monday, 18 October 2010

Livestock on the Line

This evening the train I was travelling on back to Ramsgate from London hit something. The driver asks for the guard to get in touch and then the guard says the train has hit some er, and then correcting himself says "livestock". The train stops, and then after a wait drives on slowly to Marden station. The guard announces that he will have to check the train for damage.

Speculation on the train is that we have hit cattle. Descending the guard carefully walks round and inspects the train.

After a further delay the guard announces the train will proceed slowly as no trace of the pheasant (livestock???) can be found. The train limps late into Ashford International.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Roy Ford

I am sorry to hear that former Labour Dane Valley Thanet District Councillor Roy Ford has died. Roy was a Mayor of Margate and Tony Ovenden details here how Roy helped to preserve Margate's history.
I have heard a fund of stories from my Labour colleagues about Roy and I will ask to see if one of them will write a more detailed obituary.
Roy also served in the Second World War, notably at Arnhem I understand. We shall never forget them.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Everybody Needs Somebody to Love

I started the day with an optimistic meeting of Kent County Labour Party in Sittingbourne first thing this morning. Everybody was reporting new members with Faversham pleasantly surprised at how many new members they were attracting from their innovative leaflets. Gravesham reported lots of young people joining so an optimistic mood to face up to some coming difficult political challenges.

A lovely sunny day saddened by the news on BBC Kent radio as I returned that Solomon Burke (great website) has died. Not many people write a song that is also a philosophical statement - Everybody Needs Somebody to Love. I first recall it being performed by the Rolling Stones, and the song is part of that musical movie masterpiece the Blues Brothers. Here's the great man himself, rest in peace Solomon. Love somebody, Solomon said so.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Imitation - the Sincerest Flattery

I am reading Tony Blair’s book A Journey. It is far superior to most political biographies so it is easy to see why it has become the fastest selling political biography of recent times. Blair clearly divides many people but there are many nuggets of information and insights into the political process, so if you follow politics I recommend a read.

I have got a fair way to go still but was struck by what Tony Blair wrote about his speech to Labour Party Conference in 1997:

“I specifically went out of my way to pay tribute in my own political heritage to Lloyd George, Keynes and Beveridge..” p118

His actual words were:

"I'll tell you: my heroes aren't just Ernie Bevin, Nye Bevan and Attlee. They are also Keynes, Beveridge, Lloyd George."

In this year’s speech to the Labour Party’s Conference, Labour's new leader Ed Miliband said...

"I also know something else. Wisdom is not the preserve of any one party. Some of the political figures in history who I admire most are Keynes, Lloyd George, Beveridge, who were not members of the Labour Party."

Ed Miliband then generalisedin his speech, but I doubt his conclusion is that different from Tony Blair's 13 years ago:

"Division among radicals almost one hundred years ago resulted in a 20th century dominated by Conservatives. I want the 21st century to be the century of the radicals."

Monday, 4 October 2010

Time for Youth

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am unhappy at how unrepresentative Thanet's councillors are of Thanet's population. At age 48 I am frequently the youngest elected representative in the room at meetings - it's nice to be young again!
Tonight I am delighted to hear that 21 years old Margate man, Will Scobie has been selected as one of Labour's candidates for Dane Valley ward in Margate for next year's District Council elections. Will is pictured here graduating from York University.
Will's outstanding academic record has lead him to start a Masters course at the University of Kent this autumn. My colleague Sandra Hart has proven herself a most effective councillor following her spectacular by-election win, after one of Thanet Conservatives regular scandals. Congratulations to Jon Edwards who is the third member of a hard working team for Dane Valley.
I hope other political parties in Thanet will be selecting similarly youthful candidates.

A Sporting Chance

I recently had Sunday lunch at the Sportsman pub in Cliffsend. At a time when times are tough for pubs, hosts Steve and Nikki are showing how to innovate and adapt. It’s the first pub I’ve seen offering an Ann Summers adult evening, as well as the usual quizzes and karaoke nights. Pop in on the wrong evening and you may struggle with the “what is this object?” round of the quiz!

First impressions count and I liked the desire to sit our group in the pub, despite other reserved tables. Too many publicans seek the earliest opportunity to send you off to the annex restaurant area, where sometimes there are hardly any other people present, and the atmosphere can be fairly soulless. I’m happy to decamp if the pub is full, but it will always be second best to being near the bar.

The Sportsman is a Shepherd Neame pub so the beer is fine and the wine was too. Service is thoughtful and attentive. Those with special diets will encounter every effort to adapt to their needs. Sunday lunch is excellent value and our group sampled all 3 meats on offer chicken, lamb and beef – all quality.

Vegetarians do not have the greatest choice but will have something created to order by the chef. The bar area has sofas for coffee, tables for food, television for the sports addicts and a pool table all squeezed into a building dating back to 1750.

Steve and Nikki will soon be celebrating their first anniversary since arriving last November. Here’s to many more years of great service to the community. They certainly deserve to succeed from my experience.