Felixstowe – my town

I woke up to a heavy cold. OK, I’ll tell it to go away, that always works, but my voice is not working well so there’s no audio today.

There’s a useful social media called Streetlife: http://www.streetlife.com. I like it as it appears to be British- yes, isn’t that great! It covers local areas, and I’m a member for my part of Suffolk.

It’s about the only platform people have to discuss local issues. It works well, but needs many more people.

One or two of our local Councillors ventured on to the site but soon disappeared. When questioned by one of their colleagues they apparently said they were put off by personal attacks by certain individuals. Searching through the site it’s difficult to find these attacks. Clearly people have questioned some Council decisions, and very rarely an individual has been identified but these Councillors are in the public domain, they are there to represent the local people. They will never please all of the people all of the time. Criticism comes with the post.

I’m often asked why I don’t stand for Council.

I have tried. At the last election I contacted the local Conservative Party and asked for my name could be included. I never received a reply, despite several requests.

My critics tell me to ‘Do Something’, don’t just criticise.

It’s time just to list some of my activities over the last decade:

1. The Spa Pavilion management contract came up for renewal. I built a team of about twenty local people to take over the management. They included experts in theatre management, film and TV, restaurants, builders, lawyers and accountants. We were told that the Council would not give us a penny. We went ahead, with a carefully costed plan that split the theatre in half, added a fly tower (to take West End shows), had an internationally-famous chef managing the restaurant and created a continental-style cafeteria and shop. It was to open at 8am and close after midnight. Plans included an outside performance area, a multi-storey car park (we had a sponsor for that) and much more.

We were turned down because, as a group, we had no financial experience. As one example I was the money man behind any number of shopping centres, including Lakeside.

The chosen contractors, an international company, were immediately given £175,000, that rose to £225,000 – by which time they managed just 30 performances a year!

2. Herman de Stern Built as a convalescent/retirement home it was purchased by the Council for £54,000. They paid for plans to turn it into a small theatre. Along came Bloor Homes wanting to build on 17.6 acres of prime coastal land, owned by the Council. They wanted the Herman removed. Planning permission was granted and the day after that the Herman caught fire. Insured for £1 million I suggested we could still go ahead with the theatre. The Council paid £27,000 to have it demolished. To date we have no idea how much Bloor Homes have paid for this publicly-owned land, which must be valued at about £30 million.

3. Felixstowe Radio 107.5 FM was started in my small front room. For four years I worked ceaselessly to obtain a licence and raise funds, and we built a studio at Great Eastern Square and had 65 great volunteers.

To support that initiative I became a trustee at Suffolk Association of Voluntary Organisations, a director of Social Enterprise East of England, a Council Member of the Community Media Association and a director of Community Media Forum Europe. Collectively they were more than a full-time job, and I never received any payment.

4. I have run Author-Publisher Network, helping many hundreds of writers to publish their own work. I’m a member of several local associations, and try to play an active role in the community, including the Felixstowe Seafront Gardens Committee to which I was elected. A further meeting was held and I was thrown off – in order to do that they had to rewrite the constitution – so they did.

Hemlock by Joyce Doré

Hemlock book coverJoyce Doré is a very special person. She once gave me a kiss as I left her home after a meeting – a kiss that stays in my memory even now! (I can be an old softie).

There’s a magical quality about her that has me transfixed. Her story about the life of Boadicea, Queen of the Iceni is different from that found in novels and learned accounts. They are all wrong.

Joyce was there. I believe her version.

Braiswick publishers

Publishing

APE moneyIt occurred to me that I’ve been publishing books for 25 years so perhaps it was time to record some of that work. It’s always been fun, rarely have I considered the financial possibilities, so they have never arisen. The poor tax-man has never made anything out of me, and the whole exercise has drained most of my cash.

http://www.braiswick.com

http://piccolonyc.com

Just a Feeling

Keep Calm, Start a RvolutionThere’s change in the air. Nothing positive so far but there are signs of change. Heartening news that young people are moving away from binge drinking, many have given up alcohol all together. That’s good, and it could have far-reaching consequences.

Alcohol can be fun, but it does have after-effects that can be very unpleasant. It’s a poison that the body has to work hard to remove. Bit silly really. Especially when we were only encouraged to drink alcohol, in the form of weak beer, because the water supply in most towns was deadly.

Another encouraging sign is that we are showing our discontent, if not disgust, with politicians. They are all labelled as liars, that’s probably not a bad idea. I find our Prime Minister’s responses at PM Questions undemocratic. He is supposed to answer questions, but he never does. Instead he usually accuses the Opposition of starting it all – quietly forgetting that he’s had five years to correct the mistakes he now finds so abhorrent.

My local MP is now a Tory Whip. We get platitudes not action. There’s little chance that she will not be elected in May, this area is staunchly blue. It would be good if no MP was allowed to stand for more than two terms.

I digress. It’s good that the political leaders of Germany and France went to Russia and negotiated a cease fire. Early days, but at least they tried. It was a missed opportunity for our PM Cameron. He could have learnt something about diplomacy and how to do deals. He seems to have stayed away because he did not want to upset the USA.

Now what has the USA go to do with European affairs? We’ve laboured under the yoke of NATO for far too long. All NATO means is that the rest of  us do as the USA says. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the USA are just warmongers. Obama’s solution to Ukraine is to sell weapons to one side or the other. It’s a familiar pattern, and it seems that folk are beginning to see through the subterfuge.

Another encouraging sign is rejection of Trident. The deal is about to be renewed, and it will cost billions over the next 30 years. Why? I’ll leave you to justify such expenditure when we are told how poor we are. Invasion by conventional warfare is no longer necessary. Over half of British commercial companies are now foreign owned. Any profit we make is sent abroad. We are wage slaves, with little control over our own lives.

People are beginning to react against the obvious inequalities we now face. The rich and powerful need to recognise the changes. Leave it too long and the disquiet could turn to bloody revolution. We can only take so much.

Recovery

doctor-patientI’m recovering. Saw my doctor two years ago about a hernia, looked as if my belly button was going to undo. He said it was all my fault. In that he was right, it is my body. He suggested I was carrying too much blubber. Again how could I demur?

His solution was to lose weight and then my six-pack (an old friend I’ve lived with for many years) would pull its two halves together, and the hernia would disappear.

I was unsure that would work, but had no alternative.

Two years later I was invited to the Practice Nurse at the GP’s brand new building (how they got that money is another story). Elaine (shall we call her) is wonderful. We got through the Old Man’s checkup and she asked if I had any other questions. Now, I shall digress. In October I’d pulled my quads doing yoga. Quack had sent me for an X-ray and to a back class (clearly my back had slipped to my legs).

I asked (in February) if the October X-ray had found anything. ‘Ah yes, haven’t you been told? Do you have pain in your back?’ I confirmed the pain. ‘I should think so because you have severe osteo-arthritis of the lower back and could break your back at any time’

Bit frightened by that news. My mother had fallen, hit a door jamb, broken her neck which had severe osteo-arthritis. Pity no-one at the surgery had bothered to tell me.

‘Anything else?’ asked Elaine. I talked about the hernia. She sprung into action and four days later I saw a consultant surgeon who wanted to take immediate action. That is another long story but it is why I am now recovering.

We spend billions training doctors, then pay billions more for them to sit around dishing out prescriptions or referring us to specialists. What else do they do but play a preliminary guessing game?

Would it be better to have thousands more like Elaine? Trained nurses who could perform that initial diagnosis, often with a more sympathetic ear, and (let’s be frank) with more practical experience than the average GP.

The doctors could then be employed doing whatever was needed – and I mean ‘doing’ not just acting as expensive sales staff for drug companies, or as door-keepers for hospital specialists.

 

Election

nagaland_meghalaya_electionThere’s little to get excited about as the political parties slander each other as we head towards an election.

We’d like a huge corporate plan; preferably one that said ‘we are all resigning, we will let you get on with it’. That’s unlikely to happen. What will happen is dire.

Politicians, like policemen, get younger. They are also much more inexperienced than they have ever been. Most are now selected because they will toe the party line, have a modicum of charisma, and have reliable networks. If they pass the centralised selection tests they are allocated to constituencies, and given an appropriate amount of support. It’s outsiders who decide which MP an area should have, despite all the fatuous rhetoric about democracy.

The locals don’t matter that much, except as a demographic entity that can be assessed. This bunch will vote red, or blue, or are rather deviant and are best left alone. In those latter cases there may be collusion as a plethora of candidates stand, just to confuse the electorate.

Where’s democracy? There isn’t any. Tactics are those of the playground. ‘You did it!’ ‘No, you started it’.

There’s something in this squabbling as both the major parties have become indistinguishable – apart from their leaders. Cameron becomes more ridiculous by the day, clearly mugging up on his Guide to Public Relations’ every night so that another fatuous promise can be made the next day. It has to be PR as that is the closest he’s ever come to a proper job. He remains keen to tell us all that we must keep working – bit of a cheek really. Perhaps he should spend a week or two on the shop-floor – be good to see if he could stand the pace.

Miliband comes from a different stable. His father was an influential political idealist, ensuring that Ed Miliband has a good grounding in history. He lacks the dominant personality that this country seems to demand of its leader, and his policies can be a bit too complex for our media to understand. Whether there is a racist component is difficult to judge. He doesn’t seem to have played his recent immigrant status enough to ensure that he attracts votes from that arena.

Beyond that we have a very biased media. Rather like McDonalds stealing the word restaurant for their fast-food outlets the media has stolen, in most cases, the word ‘newspaper’. The Red Tops are little more than comics. The Daily Mail is my favourite villain, partly because I had some contact with their team years ago. Contact that left a very nasty taste in my mouth.

That our communications should be controlled by a creased Australian is laughable. That we allow him so much control is terrifying. I learn today that the BBC has lost out to Sky in the world of golf. Hopefully that will encourage the demise of golf clubs, but that’s a dream for another time.

My unbiased advice? Vote for anyone who is not at present an MP. It’s time for a spring-clean and May 2015 is good time to begin.