It’s Bedlam out there!


Miranda held for 9 hours

Mac said he was struggling to write anything in the last few days, because he was still in shock at the arrest of Miranda. He couldn’t understand why the Intelligence Services (surely that contravenes the Trade Descriptions Act?) held her for nine hours. Mac has watched most of her programmes on the BBC and thought that she was actually quite funny. Why anyone would send in men with hammers to destroy the computer hard discs in her Joke Shop cellar beggars belief. Her comedy surely isn’t that bad. Holding her for all that time must also put a bit of a strain on the men involved too, cos she’s a large lass and tends to fall over quite a lot, breaking the furniture. She’s very well connected too, with loads of aristocrats and admirals in the family, so you would have thought that young Cameron would have been at Eton with them all. Well certainly the rear admirals. Maybe the effects of the cannabis he took there are longer lasting than we thought. Mind you it was probably that nasty Maggie May. Wake up, Maggie.

Larkin poe

Larkin Poe were a highlight

Talking of folk songs, didn’t the Broadstairs Folk Festival go well? Well, apart from the low life morons who put glass in the children’s play area. Mac spent three days there and enjoyed every minute. Larkin Poe were the highlight for him, two young American sisters who were simply terrific, but all of the acts were good. The costumes of the Morris Dancers were so colourful and contrasting, tatter jackets et al, and clearly put together with love, passion and presumably a fair amount of alcohol.  He didn’t see enough Loose Women for his liking, but there were Kent Korkers, Brooms, Bricks and Bowlers, and Wild Hunt Bedlamers to  ease the pain. Mac tried to look everything up, but then got confused between the Border and Cotswold styles, the Mollys and the North West Cloggers. We used to play football like that, because it was always easier to kick the man than the heavy leather ball we all used. ‘Clogging’ is good.


Happy memories

His friend John was going to drive him round the town in the Popemobile, but actually you needed to be on foot to enjoy the atmosphere. Good to see all the people on the sands, and the beach huts being used. Mac’s family had a beach hut down on Westbrook Sands during the 60’s and 70’s so it brought back happy memories. The Albion beer garden was a good base for the third day, with its wonderful views across the bay – until the band started up. Mac had been joined by a collection of very old school friends from Chatham House and one or two of them are a bit deaf now. One is actually a Mayor somewhere in East Sussex and had travelled to Broadstairs hoping for a free drink or a food bag.  We had hoped he might have brought some of the mayoral funds with him, as he could have argued he was beginning some form of new twinning relationship with St Peters, but nil desperandum. Anyway let’s hope they can recover the mayoral chain from the pawn shop at the end of his term. Mac also enjoyed Sunday lunch down in the harbour and he was convinced he saw one of those feisty female Guardian journalists at a neighbouring table. She writes some cracking prose. He wasn’t at all sure it was her but then she ordered the men’s testicles for a starter. Mac says he just had the pint of prawns. Very nice though.

A fertility rite..?

The original Morris Dance was, of course, thought to be based on some sort of circle dance around a female figure. Some think it a fertility rite, some an assertion of the ancient religions, others as some form of satirical protest against the national and local ruling dynasties and councils. It was the only form of protest ordinary folk could get away with. Strange though how so little changes with time.  Juvenal, the Roman poet, wrote a number of satires lamenting the value systems and morality of those who seek to govern us. He wrote scathingly of liars and crooks, and much about avarice. His very first satire claimed that since the dawn of history, greed and fiscal corruption have never been worse – so you could argue that Rome was no different to the present day. And you thought we were just unlucky with our current crop of great men and women.  Look more closely at the Morris troupes and you will see that many have a squire or leader, most have a bagman and there are always one or more fools. Surely that tradition could no longer be based on our local councils today? Thank goodness. Mind you, it’s a good idea to follow the bagman. See who benefits directly or indirectly from the financial dealings. See who joins the boards of the companies who have been granted the contracts. Sadly, integrity and probity are all too often trumped by cronyism and avarice. Mac went to images-4college with a guy whose sole ambition was to become an MP and he quickly succeeded. Became a Junior Minister. Still at least Attila the Hun had some company on the backbenches. You always hoped that as in the old films, justice would prevail ‘when the boat comes in’, but often by then the money has disappeared ‘over the hills and far away’.


Wild Hunt Bedlam

The Wild Hunt Bedlam troupe may look scary but at least they are inspired by great legends and traditional values. A simpler time when mostly a man’s word was his bond. Mind you, you could be hanged for just stealing a loaf.  The authorities could lock you up for hours on end with no rights at all. Thank goodness for Magna Carta. Tony Hancock’s wonderful aside, “Did she die in vain” is suddenly topical again. Now it is less bells, whistles and big sticks and much more a case of smoke and mirrors. Maybe that’s why they raided the Joke Shop. All in the cause of power and control. Madness. Don’t think Robert Owen was ever a Morris Dancer but he did know a thing or two about madness and Bedlam. As he rightly said, “All the world is queer save thee and me, and even thou art a little queer.” Or as Miranda succinctly put it, “Is it just me?” Hope they leave her alone in future or they’ll have that Patricia Hodge on their tail. OMG.


The Loveliest Skies in Europe

darinbobby“Every night I hope and pray, a dream liner will come my way”

Do you remember Bobby Darin? His real name was Walden Cassotto, from the Bronx, and he died tragically early from a heart condition almost forty years ago come December. As a successful song-writer, singer and actor he lit up our lives briefly in the 1960’s. I never knew that he was with Robert Kennedy when he was assassinated, or that he was the mentor of Roger McGuinn of the Byrds. Mac says he played with a few sporting McGinns in his time in Thanet, but not sure they could ever hold a tune. A pint maybe or a young lady. ‘Dream Lover’ actually hit the number one spot in 1959, if there is anyone still alive who remembers those heady days.


Fly through the air with Pleasurama?

Aeroplanes have been much in the news locally this summer. Air shows and traffic delays; BA training flights with 787 Dreamliners and A380 Airbuses; Manston trying to regenerate again. Before they built across the Garlinge allotments at the back of Goodban’s yard, you could just about see the airfield in the distance. The Americans had a base out there for a long time after the war and the All Saints church choir sang carols there a couple of times. Mac says he and his brother were rewarded with their first iconic bottles of Coca Cola and a burger each for their efforts, sadly not “If I were a Carpenter”, but more on the lines of “Ding Dong merrily on high”. Thanet even seems to have its own Biggles, flying merrily through the clouds and blogging the results. Maybe the business could support a sky diving venture, inviting holiday makers to plummet downwards through the loveliest skies in Europe. Pleasurama sky diving, eight miles high naturally, amongst the byrds. Fly through the air with Pleasurama and it is as if time stands still and nothing has ever happened. The brown envelopes stuffed down the seat in front of you are merely for travel sickness, just in case. If you wanted to match the Mary Portas initiative in the Margate chocolate willy shop, then perhaps give people a choice before pulling the ripcord. Fly with the Pleasurama sky diving team to complete your perfect dirty weekend.  Jump by yourself or be tossed off, by our specially trained crew. Well every little helps when you’re looking to publicise the recovery. Maybe Tesco would be the sponsors – their sales have been heading downwards for some time.

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Boris’s airport plans taking off?

More seriously, are JW Turner’s skies at risk now from the various airport schemes which guys like Boris Johnson throw out in such cavalier fashion? Yet back in 2012 the Air Traffic Chief Executive,  Richard Deakin, described the Thames Estuary schemes as,  “the very worst spot you could put an airport”.  He added rather amusingly, “we’re a little surprised that none of the architects thought it worthwhile to have a little chat”. Yet here we are again, still discussing the schemes and looking at potential flightpaths and their impact on people, wildlife and the environment. These are highly paid professionals. How often have we been told by assorted experts and consultants that if we don’t pay exorbitant sums of money we will not get the correct calibre of people to run our large corporations? So salaries escalated and the pay differentials soared. Performance schemes were required so that people were encouraged to do what most of us would consider a normal day’s work. What a joke. Wherever you look, hospital trusts, councils, government departments, we find the equivalent of the ‘knobhead’ world in the Premier League. Largely average players grossly over-paid. We are now paying a heavy price.  For example, look at the salary structure in the Kent County Council. How on earth did we allow this to happen?

EinsteinAlbert Einstein once memorably said, “not everything that can be counted, counts; and not everything that counts, can be counted”. Try telling that to accountants, who seem to dominate many of the senior positions in the business world. Most are normally pretty sound at holding the money (there are always exceptions) and cutting costs, but very few are at all entrepreneurial. Harvard some twenty years back did a serious piece of work on business ventures. They discovered that there was little difference between those who researched their projects and did test markets and those who just pushed on, changing and amending projects as they went, learning on their feet. Uncle AlbertAccountants like to know the outcomes before they invest, they are loath to take risks. Sometimes you need to be out there smelling the coffee to spot the opportunities. Politicians are not much better, unless they can sense a good sound bite, as much of their world is about image and perception. The world is sadly full of the other type of Uncle Albert and you wonder whether we are the real fools and horses.


…or should that be ‘a tragedy as a poet’?

By the way, Mac has now finished reading the entire works of McGonagall, the world’s worst poet, many of whose poems are about disasters. You may recall he mentioned the poet in an earlier blog so you should get the spelling right. William Topaz McGonagall, to be precise. ‘A Tale of the Sea’ is as awful as the rest and describes a tragedy where the survivors in a small boat turn on each other. These were not ferrymen though but fishermen. Men just trying to earn a living, not casting around for someone to blame. Strange how most council websites now contain the tagline, “What ward am I in?” Might be better to replace that with the words, “What planet am I on?” By the way, if you are ever tempted to pick up any of McGonagall’s works for holiday reading, you would do better to beat yourself over the head with a jar of Keiller Dundee marmalade. ‘Mack the Knife’ was fortunately not one of William’s compositions, but actually one of Bobby Darin’s greatest hits, written of course for the opera. However if you really want to read a book over the summer about how government has traditionally worked, then  Brecht’s ‘The Threepenny novel’ always amuses. For the record, Macheath had no connection to our own Edward Heath, who used often to be found in the Tartar Frigate at weekends. Now if ever he was a fan of Bobby Darin, it could have only been for ‘Beyond the Sea’. A dream lover and a girl to hold in my arms never ever seemed to feature in his repertoire. If your shoulders are continually shaking, as his uniquely seemed to do, a dream lover would quickly be ‘all shook up’. But that’s a different story.