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.
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.
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?
Albert 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. Accountants 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.
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.