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.


8 thoughts on “The Loveliest Skies in Europe

  1. Think you’ll find it’s Jools Holland. His New Year’s Eve show on the BBC is actually better than going out. Does that confirm my boringness?

    Beggars Belief are playing at this year’s Folk Week in Broadstairs but I don’t think they’ve been on the Jools Holland show.

    • Dear Marcus
      You obviously fancy yourself as some sort of proof reader, so just a couple of tips if you ever take it up professionally. It is very important from time to time to make one or two deliberate mistakes. It sort of keeps your reader on his toes. Hilary and Salman both do it and even old William S found it amusing. You know the sort of thing. ‘Much ado about not a lot’ or ‘Macbath’.

      I do plan to run some courses on creative writing shortly, so if you would like to subscribe then please post your bank details on the website. My Nigerian financial adviser will be in touch.

      ps I am sure you are not that boring, but are you by chance a Morris dancer?

  2. Dear Mac,

    Or is it? I do get confused, because sometimes you are Mac, and sometimes you write about Mac. Is he your brother? Because sometimes you write about your brother. Maybe he is the other Mac.

    Anyway – I told my husband about you not liking Boris, and he was very upset. Because his mother, who is 81, lives in Hillingdon, and she’s always complaining about those awful noisy planes, and my Andrew thinks it would be good if all those planes were over the sea. I let him see what you had written, but it didn’t change his mind, Mac. Anyway, live and let live, I always say.

    Andrew has an older brother, George, who remembers Bobby Darin, but George liked Eddie Cochrane. You see, I do tell people about what you write, Mac, and they all think it’s interesting, even if they don’t understand.

    I was making better progress with your book until the dog chewed the corner. I have it under the
    Encyclopedia Britanker now, so it will be better soon.

    • Dear Kryptonia
      I only just scraped Use of English at my grammar school in the depths of Ramsgate, but you may well think the quality of my writing reflects that. What saved me was being able a little later on to mix with some classical scholars and linguists, who were able to learn me better. I blame my editor, who is now Managing Director of some venture called Fingertips. She is a young slip of a girl, who by sheer coincidence studied (I use the word loosely) at the same place.
      I am sure Boris has taken note of the blog and of your comments and will stop any more nonsense, so Andrew’s mum can rest easy.

      By the way I had a nice note back from that Jules Holland, who is actually one of the Deputy Lieutenants of Kent. I had hoped he would want to set “The Vagaries of Swing” to music but I think the piece about urination was causing problems with the wind section. Perhaps I should try Andrew Lloyd Webber.
      May you have many sons

  3. Young Buster Merryfield (picture inset – The Lovliest Skies in Europe) would sit in his favourite tea-room and be served cream scones by my daughter. She, neither a fool nor a horse, regarded him as a treasured but not always easy customer, as cream is maybe not the food of choice for a man with a full beard, and there was often a little commotion.

    But there were two Uncle Alberts. Have I got the right one?

    • Dear Collie
      There was also a Buster Bloodvessel, who had extremely bad manners and actually ran a hotel in Margate called ‘Fatty Towers’. He supported the football club for a while, until the hotel closed in 1998.
      You are absolutely right that there were two Uncle Alberts and spot on with your name check. I hope your daughter, whoever she is, was not put off men with beards. It rather takes the shine off Christmas Eve.

  4. It is amazing that Mac Carty still has time to blog even though he has just taken over as the new Governor of the Bank of England.

    Ah, Boris’s airport fantasy. Bonkers – good description of Boris too on more than one level. To paraphrase what someone else said, Boris is the Mayor of London, not the Mayor of Kent.

    Kent County Council are totally opposed to an estuary airport. Hurrah, one positive thing to say about KCC. Now come and fix the potholes.

    An answer (but probably not the complete answer) is expand the use of Manston Airport – Kent International Airport. Perhaps a Korean car manufacturer would like to sponsor it (not Hyundai, the other one). Connect the high speed train and the dual carriageway to the airport and it could be as quick to get to London as from Heathrow.

    From Dreamliners to Dreamland. Dreamland is apparently going to re-open in 2015 as a historic amusement park and the cinema will also be restored. Great news. Really hope it works.

    Now Marcusred is off to stay with his big brother in Northumberland for a few days, including a day at the Ashes Test at Chester-Le-Street, before returning to Broadstairs and Folk Week on Sunday. Having got away with a draw at Old Trafford, England must win at least one of the two remaining tests to prove their superiority over Australia.

    • Dear Marcus
      Why on earth you are up with the lark at 7.57 am, at the age of eighty five, beggars belief. Shouldn’t you be polishing your shooting stick, in preparation for those long hours at Chester-Le-Street. Remember to pack your kit as well, just in case Cookey is injured early on.

      I suspect you have been studying Boris’s haircut and wrongly concluded that he is actually from North Korea. The latter country may well be attracted to investing in Kent International Airport as they are often the closest thing to ‘bonkers’ this side of Uranus. Be careful of what you wish for or it could just result in one large pothole.

      I would also ask you to hark back to the launch in Margate of that unique pop group called ‘The Decoys’, back in those heady days of 1963. One of the founders, “Comb Man”, is now a Mayor somewhere in East Sussex, or so he tells us. All those years ago I did suggest that I could become their Bongo player, but the suggestion was received with some derision.I even went so far as to research the whole Bongo experience to the extent of wondering if there was a special place where the instruments were made – a sort of Bongo land. From today’s press I think the initial premise was probably correct, so I will be looking for the two remaining members of the Decoys who might be at the Albion later this month to apologise.

      Sadly I did not bother to attend the final interview for the Governor’s job so am a bit short of funds at present. Hopefully the Mayor will bring enough of the council entertainment funds to enable him to buy the first round. If not, could you see if there is any of that Trans Europa fund left? We just need some sort of small sub. No ferries though.

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