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East Suffolk

Back in my day East Suffolk was much like this map, except it also contained Ipswich, with West Suffolk having Bury St Edmunds as its major town. In 1974 that all changed, and my little town became part of Suffolk Coastal, which was the better half of east Suffolk!

Recently Suffolk Coastal (1st April 2019) was merged with Waveney District Council, and together they are now East Suffolk District Council. Above them is Suffolk County Council, and below any number of town and parish councils.

Felixstowe, where I live, is at the southern edge of this new council. Its port is owned by Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH) Group, a company based in China. The port has always been privately owned. In 1951, Gordon Parker, an agricultural merchant, bought the Felixstowe Dock & Railway Company, which at the time was handling only grain and coal. In 1976, Felixstowe was bought by European Ferries.

June 1991, P&O sold Felixstowe to Hutchison Whampoa of Hong Kong for £90m. In June 1994, Hutchison Whampoa’s Hutchison International Port Holdings bought out Orient Overseas International’s 25% stake in Felixstowe for £50m.

It’s now the 48th largest container shipping port in the world, handling about 50% of all the UK’s traffic.

Increasingly it will be automated, meaning that many workers will lose their jobs. This will happen to many foreign-owned UK-based companies. There is an obvious lack of control of UK interests, as foreign owners will look after their own national concerns. Covid-19, and its attendant economic contraction will multiply the effects of such policies.

These changing times will have lasting effect upon the local area, yet this is not reflected in the East Suffolk Plans.

There has been bias in the housing allocation to the previous areas. Suffolk Coastal has exceeded its allocation, and its demand (by some 128%). In Felixstowe that’s because of the demands made by a large local land owner. Trinity College. Every decade this large developer comes to Felixstowe and builds a new estate. This is on land it owns, having pad about £13 an acre in he 1930’s. It exercises a stranglehold upon the local populace building cheap, classless dwellings, failing to provide any infrastructure support or listen to any pleas.

Admittedly the local Council tend to be complicit, eager to receive the extra Council Tax revenue, often without due regard to the continuing obligations it will then be obliged to provide.

Local government is complex, and that often helps confuse the public. ‘Aah,’ they shout, ‘that’s not our responsibility, that’s one of the other councils.’ Happens all the time.

District Councils, like East Suffolk, are obliged to publish five-year plans. These cost a fortune to produce, and are often ignored. There’s a constant battle within councils about interpretation.

That’s enough for one day. The allotment calls.

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Allotment

Allotment

I’ve now got an allotment. It wasn’t easy, but that’s a short story that can wait. I have a photo, taken on my phone, but for some reason my phone is not recognised by my cmputer – is this an anti-Chinese plot?

Anyway, I have five rods of land. The rental is a a few bob more than I’d pay to rent an acre of land but that’s what local Councils do! Five rods is enough land to feed an old man (I hope). It’s enough to keep me busy, that’s all I require.

It has about two-thirds covered in black sheeting – that’s killed off the weeds but encouraged mice, snails and insects of various kinds. I started on the bit not covered in black plastic – and dug up a few weeds. The soil was dry, but looked OK. I planted a few squash seedlings, all of which have taken, and one now has four healthy offspring. I pushed a lump of concrete under these three to keep the slugs and snails away. That may work.

Planted a small row of supermarket potatoes, but they haven’t appeared, so I presume they are F1 hybrids. Incidentally a state in the USA, OK it’s Michigan, says it is illegal to grow vegetables in your front yard (they don’t yet call them gardens, but then they call soil, which provides life for us all, ‘dirt’).

Hopefully in the Spring, if the virus will allow, the Suffolk Potato Fair will take place in February. The organisers of this annual Potato Fair at Stonham Barns are doubtfully keeping an eye on http://www.eapd.btck.co.uk/ It’s a great event, usually having 80 or more varieties, and you can buy one of each, if that’s what you want and can remember. It’s great fun to try out varieties.

A favourite are Sarpo, https://potatohouse.co.uk. You will not find these in a supermarket. They do not conform! Sarpo Axona (whites) and Sarpo Mira (reds) are blight resistant. Do you hear me Northern boyos where it’s always wet? They are blight resistant!

I lived in Catalonia for a number of years. My Catalan neghbour argued with me about planting spuds. Ferran said you should cut up each tuber to leave just one sprout. I disagreed. We did agree to test the dispute, and divided a four-acre field in two. He planted his half Catalan fashion, and I planted my spuds whole, having laid them out in trays, and allowed them to chit (sprout) before putting them in the ground. Chitting gives them a good start.

We had the wettest Spring for many years. Ferran’s plot was in the West of the field. It was there I first spotted the signs. The spuds showed early signs of blight.

https://www.horfieldanddistrictallotments.co.uk
early sign of blight on potatoes and tomatoes

It was a disaster. I left harvesting what I could of my crop until the next day. It was too late. I felt sorry for the Irish, who suffered terribly from Blight in 19th Century, starting around 1845 Phytophthora infestans attacked the potato, upon which poor Irish people relied. One million died and many more emigrated, most to unknown lands in North America.

That was one of the many periods of British history when the ruling elite need to reflect seriously upon their guilt.

Picking up what appeared to be a decent potato it was heartbreaking to push it in with your thumb to find the whole potato was black, a slimy mess.

During this time the English landowners increased the exports of meat and butter, peas, beans, rabbits, fish and honey from Ireland to England. It was shameful.

blighted stages

It’s hot now. I went to the allotment midday, and was so glad I did. The squash were all wilting. I threw buckets of water at their roots, and I’m now hoping all is well.

Pulled back a small part of the tarpaulin and sowed some mustard seed, which I hope will act as green manure by the Spring.

In hope.

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Podcasts

Passwords

When I was a working peasant, dutifully toiling most days, paying my taxes, conforming to the diktaks of greedy controllers I had about 220 passwords. Sounds a lot, and there were reasons for my being registered at so many web sites. Ask Dominic Cummings what it’s like to be a spy, that’s a subject for another day.

I had a Master Password, a useful bit of software. That went to pieces when I forgot the Master Password, and the system I used had no way to recover a lost password, understandable but of no use to idiots, like me.

Interestingly PayPal and other systems recognise my computer and don’t require a password.

The worst, from my point of view, are Apple. Logging in to my elderly Apple the password is not recognised. That’s maddening enough but it gets worse. Changing login details seem to take several minutes for Apple to recognise. There’s always a time delay. Change your password, login again but Apple needs time or you will be rejected.

It’s interesting that the web sites can gather all sorts of information about us, and then reject our answers without appeal. Their databases have become very powerful, and assertive.

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Podcasts

Hirsute?

Stuck in lockdown, unlikely to see anyone, then standards began to slip. I still took daily showers, changed my clothes every day but those other essentials of maleness fell away. I didn’t shave every day and couldn’t get to a hairdresser.

As a result my beard grew quite respectably and it still contained elements of its original hair colour, and had not turned white like the stuff on my scalp. I’d make a passable Father Christmas with some care.

My hair soon reached down to my shoulders, and became unruly. It needed to be washed every day, which being very light meant it blew in my face all the time. Lacking a professional barber it always looked lack-lustre. It was not my best feature (no idea what is?).

It was a welcome day when I could walk into my local barber’s to get my hair cut. As locks fell to the ground we discovered we’d lived within a few streets of each other in the London suburbs. It was a lovely encounter as my small rural town has been taken over young men describing themselves as ‘traditional Turkish barbers’. No idea what that means, except in a small town rumours spread. They were not Turkish, but Syrian, or Armenian. Who knows or cares? I could see that they relied on clippers to shave the sides leaving an unruly top-nob that looked uncontrollable. Not my style.

I was very happy with my West End trained London barber. So pleased that I bought him a bacon roll. As a result he used his razor to remove most of my beard. Back home a proper shave had me looking pristine again. A neighbour said, ‘Oh there’s a human,’ as I passed her.

Why do men sport facial hair? I don’t want to imagine what it feels like being kissed by all that hair. The moustache is the most difficult, followed by the goatee. Both require regular maintenance, so defeating the real reason for allowing the stuff to sprout, to save time!

Don’t expect me to understand the logic of women, or what makes men attractive to these beautiful creatures. I’m seriously heterosexual (I can say that can’t I?) loving women, and cannot understand how they can adore smelly, arrogant, uncaring men. That is another story.



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Podcasts

Back at Last

It’s been a long while. I’m now back. It probably should be a relief as I have had a web presence since early 1990. In those days I made a website but had to use dial-up to access Compuserve so submit a hand-coded web site in html. I never saw that site. My equipment couldn’t cope. Not sure that anyone else saw it either.

It was very encouraging and I had belief in the value of the Internet. Many were sceptical but slowly that has changed. Emerging technologies have also contributed

It’s done well, providing a communications platform that much of the world can now use. There are obvious weaknesses. It is no longer just a military or academic linkage. It has been taken over by the current Mammon: commercialisation.

It motivated me. The arrival of the Docutech printing system also helped. It was a photocopier linked to a book binding machine. It’s great advantage was that it allowed single copies to be printed, and made short runs economic. In those days we had an efficient library service. Any book published was able to guarantee sales of about 200 copies as libraries acquired copies for their collections.

It got me going. With my LSE colleagues we published ‘A Student’s Guide to Geography’. That sold 2,000 copies after the feminist page of the Guardian newspaper was scathing about an article I wrote about the differences between male and female school head teachers. Controversy can awaken interest. That’s unfortunate really as such inanity allows the reader to divert from substance.

Together with John Dawes I formed Author Publisher Enterprise (APE) and we were soon linked to the Society of Authors, who were dismissive of self-published books. Quite rightly because many authors were persuaded to hand over cash to vanity publishers, who promised much and gave little.

APE did well. We organised events, published articles, and were part of an emerging movement. I played Secretary at APE, and made friends with another Secretary, the lovely Christina Manolescu https://christinamanolescu.com/tiki-index.php?page=Biography who now lives in Canada.

In those days there were many small independent publishers. Today abut 90% of the books you find in those bookshops that remain have come from one of the seven conglomerates that control the industry. It does little for literacy, nor does it encourage new ideas. Those that make it do so because accountants have assumed they will make a profit. Many books are produced on the back of a successful career elsewhere; perhaps as a cook, a footballer or singer. Literary worth has little to do with it.

Through Braiswick, my own publishing company, I published about 150 titles, moving on to audio books and online productions. I never made any money but it was all interesting and some of my authors have gone on to be recognised elsewhere. My determination was to provide a platform for those who seemed to need an audience.

War and Peace cartoon

There were good times. My good friend Ken Ward, really Ken Wurtzburger, had arrived in England from Salzburg through the Kindertransport scheme. He joined the Tank Regiment, losing four tanks, as he battled back to Berlin. We published …and the Band Played On (could still be available as an ebook if required).

There will be more.

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After Virus

Moving On

That just seemed amusing this morning. It doesn’t apply to me now, I’m not married.

Most of the world is in lock-down. Strange that government leaders should be prepared to throw away their income, and therefore their power. I love to hear government ministers tell us they are going to award money to a project. They don’t have any money of their own, that comes from various forms of taxation.

I’m not sure about the democratic process. At least with Vlad the Impala you knew where you stood (often in morbid fear). With democracy, as we have allowed it to develop we have lost all power of persuasion.

We vote for a candidate who suddenly appears as ‘our candidate’. My present MP had never been to my county before being selected. She was seen as a ‘safe pair of hands’ by central office, and her resume matched Margaret Thatcher’s.

A better way is to live ‘off piste’. Don’t ever allow the bureaucratic system to realise you exist. I suspect this is the way for many folk. The CEO of a successful company can do that quite easily. All their expenses can be eased out of the company income. A salary can be turned into spending money.

Amazingly our governments allow the CEOs of large corporations to get away with the plunder. Company HQ are normally hidden away, often in a tropical paradise. Company accounts are manipulated. All is quiet. I wonder why?

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Lockwood personal Podcasts

Days of Joy

Kate
Kate

We sat, nervously, waiting for the big event to happen.

The midwife was a wonderful example of her profession; large-bosoms, with a smile for us both, she oozed confidence. She lived at the other end of the crescent. She was at Oxford, our modest terraced house was at Cambridge Gardens.

It was a blissful day. Now, with the passage of years, it has become idyllic. My wife, Sue, looked radiant if apprehensive. She’d chosen to have the midwife come to our house. It was the right decision. She was relaxed and the midwife was our neighbour.

I was at home. This often felt like a rare event. Newly promoted I wanted to make an impression but really I would grab any opportunity to work overtime. As Sue never worked during those early days of motherhood it was clearly my job to be the bread-winner. I doubled my pay with overtime, often at the most inconvenient times.

Not today. I was at home.

The midwife stood up. ‘I think it’s time we went up upstairs,’ she said, ‘can you make us a cup of tea.’

Nervously I went to the kitchen, and made tea. How long did that take? It seemed like moments.

Racing upstairs with the tea tray I was greeted by the wonderful sight of my new daughter snuggled against my wife’s chest. Magical.

I don’t remember any baby cries. Kate (really Katherine Louise) seemed very content to be in our world, her new world.

Sue had made a crib, covering the wicker-work with soft cloth. New bed linen, all hand-made, waited for the new occupant.

What can you say when looking at your newly-born child? It’s a miracle of nature. Sue was exhausted but radiant.

Eventually it was decided to let Kate go to sleep. What a moment to remember as I picked up this precious bundle and lowered her into the crib. Her small hand grasped mine. Absolute perfection.

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After Virus Podcasts

Our Prime Minister

Having heard the Tory rhetoric for many years about Tory “back to basics” family values and their revulsion towards unmarried mothers, the romanticising of Boris Johnson’s behaviour by the British media and tories smacks of hypocrisy (to say the least). In fact Johnson’s history of radical selfishness, duplicity and betrayal towards his wife and children should have us all very worried indeed For any who are unaware of this man’s sleazy past, be aware that it makes for unpleasant reading.

We cannot even begin to guess how many casual flings and one night stands he has engaged in, but here is the gist of his career with women.

Johnson’s first wife was Allegra Mostyn-Owen whom he married in 1987 after they met at Oxford. The marriage ended when he had an affair with Marina Wheeler who gave birth to the first of the couple’s four children just five weeks after they married in 1993.

After their marriage Johnson then conducted a four year affair with Petronella Wyatt while he was editor of The Spectator and she was one of his columnists. MS Wyatt subsequently disclosed that she had an abortion and that she also suffered a miscarriage.Mr Johnson initially responded to allegations of their affair by stating that it was an “inverted pyramid of piffle”.

In spite of his assertions he was forced to resign as shadow arts minister and party vice-chairman in 2004 by the Tory leader Michael Howard for his lack of honesty about the affair, with a Tory spokesman stating that it was an issue of “personal morality”.

Far from learning from his mistakes and regardless of the pain and humiliation he heaped on his wife who was openly deeply distressed and furious with him, he began yet another sexual relationship with Anna Fazackerley, a journalist on the Times Educational Supplement. Contemporaries state that the affair with Ms Fazakerley actually overlapped with the affair with Ms Wyatt.

Undeterred Mr Johnson then fathered another child with arts consultant Helen Macintyre, once again leaving his wife profoundly distressed and humiliated. Details of the affair with Ms Macintryre were disclosed after Ms Macintyre lost a three-year legal fight to prevent the the press naming Johnson as the father of her daughter. The Appeal Court also heard that Ms Macintyre’s daughter was alleged to be the second child conceived as a result of Boris’s extra-marital affairs.

Lawyers for the Daily Mail argued it was in the public interest to reveal Mr Johnson’s extra-marital affairs and children because it “went to the issue of recklessness and whether on that account he was fit for public office”.

(The same Daily Mail currently eulogising the birth of this latest child with the headline, “Beaming Boris Johnson looks every inch the proud father as he’s pictured hours after leaving bedside of fiancée Carrie Symonds and newborn son to return to tackling Britain’s Covid crisis in No 10.”)

In 2018 his long-suffering wife had had enough after 25 years of being with the serial philanderer as the affair with another worker from his office came to light (Carrie Symonds) and the couple’s intention to divorce was announced.

Marina Johnson was subsequently diagnosed with cervical cancer which required surgery twice in 2019 while her husband simply abandoned her and the couple’s four children. He added insult to injury by announcing his latest lover’s pregnancy and their engagement three days after the death of his wife’s mother.

His ex-wife was reported as being devastated and his children furious. Not being one of those leopards that changes its spots he also began a liaison with American Jennifer Arcuri who described herself as “heartbroken” by his treatment of her.

Let’s not ignore the facts of this man’s history in the face of the media’s current lionising of the supremely selfish and compassionless PM. This is the level of honesty and morality he employs in his personal life towards people he allegedly cares for. Imagine what he would be willing to do to us if he thought it was in his personal interests to do so.

God help us all.

I must admit that I’m not the author of most of this piece, but the facts, as stated, are widely known.

There is no reason why the citizens of this country should have to put up with this outrageous behaviour by a man who purports to be our leading citizen.

It is reported that he does not work weekends, that he missed five Cobra meetings. Is he fit to do the job?

He was not born in this country, his family has no real connection with this country. He can claim to have gone to Eton, a noted private school. Where the funds to pay for that education is not immediately apparent.

He has one option: that is to resign immediately.

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After Virus

When it’s Over

When will it be over?

Despite the worried looks on the faces of government ministers at daily press conferences nobody really knows. Certainly not the variety of medical experts standing alongside the minister. None inspire confidence.

Although the Chief Nurse is very attractive.

The present strategy seems intent on stopping our under-funded NHS from being unable to cope. It’s like everyone gathering around the stable to rescue horses with the building on fire. Action now being taken is insufficient to cover the weaknesses that have been allowed to develop over the last decade. It’s a divisive form of conservatism.

We are now struggling to flatten the curve. 800 people a day dying is better than 1,000. Politicians seize upon statistical trends as if they are gospel. They are not. The only statistics we are given deal with those collated at hospitals. Many more are probably dying at home, in care homes or on the streets.

What happens when the death rate falls to 50% of the maximum? That still means thousands of people will suffer.

Hospital staff have few weapons to fight viral infections. Care and love are not always enough. Corona viruses have been known about for years. Coronavirus 2019 may be slightly different as it is easily transmitted from person to person. There is no effective remedy, other than the body’s natural reactions.

Changes will have to be made. Reserves of equipment, such as face masks, coveralls, and respirators are needed. Incidentally so are body bags and coffins. Just in time supply is not always appropriate, particularly as global supply systems are far too slow to react. Chancellors of Exchequer will try to resist.

Entrepreneurs, like Bill Gates, jump in to spend tax-deductible money. There’s a moral dilemma that allows one man, or a group, to make billions from a product, especially when they play no real part in its production. Merely because investors put money into an enterprise should not allow them to take precedence over workers, for example.

The assumption is that once the death rate slows below its peak all will be well. Why knows? Even so how and when do we restart?

Spain is planning to ease restrictions. We shall see if this works. It will still be a long haul to get back to what once we had. That is a highly unstable strategy.

Should we try to recover? Our economic structures are in need of reform. There will be resistance. Big commerce will resist. We really need the regrowth of small local industry. At its simplest it shows that globalisation does not work,in all caeses. A form of community liaison is urgently required. Convincing the masses that they can ignore large corporations will need societal change akin to the French revolution. Time will tell to see if people can see the advantages of community cooperation.

Where is Dominic Cumming, an architect of the early disastrous policy?

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Hand picked collection

Coming Together

Our diverse democracy is now leaving the European Union, after 47 years. Our governments have never been really happy in this club yet for nearly fifty years we have avoided war in Europe. That must mean something after centuries of conflict. Our present Prime Minister was elected, with an increased majority, largely on the slogan ‘Get Brexit Done’.

His stated aim now is to bring the two broad factions of the country together. One for, one against remaining in the EU. As usual with Boris there’s no clear plan to achieve his stated intention.

Ever eager to please I have a plan. One small caveat before it is revealed and that is that Dominic Cummings be sacked. He has dubious links with Russia, is far too arrogant, and, in my opinion, looks Machiavellian.

Cummings has designs to change, notably the BBC. This institution may be in need of change, but not by Cummings. It is top-heavy and cumbersome and carries too many staff, some of whom get paid far too much. It lacks a clear vision but with a few tweaks could be a perfect vehicle for Boris to use.

We all know the BBC. Most of the world knows the BBC. It’s a great marketing device which is precisely why it should not stoop to the archaic advertising-revenue system of support. That immediately hampers its freedom.

To support the BBC we must insist that all major sporting events are covered by the BBC. That need not prevent other stations from broadcasting the same material – indeed the BBC could also sell their own content. A careful look at some TV channels will reveal that is already common practice, although usually old content. We have a national broadcaster – let’s use it effectively, and openly state how much cash is made.

That it must retain its independence is obvious, and perhaps a panel of populace could be chosen to oversee that function. The present system is not powerful enough.

The next year will be interesting. I’m no lover of bureaucrats but the EU also could be improved. Maybe, one day, we will be allowed to return.

For now we face the threat from the USA that seems intent on making us a lackey-state, if not the 51st State of the Union.