Friday, January 24, 2020

The only landside remains of Trent Station

Since that trip I have discovered that Trent Station, once an important Midland Railway junction, was not by the cottages but a little further down the line. So I will have to go back and photograph the arch that is the only thing that marks the site on public land.
That's what I wrote about a trip to Long Eaton when I looked back on 2018.

Well I did go back and here is that arch.

It's heavily overgrown now,but in its day it was the only public access to Trent, which was built largely so people could change trains.

The arch took people under the high level goods lines and there must have been a subway so they could then reach Trent's one island platform.

If you doubt me, have a look at the photo below, which I salvaged from a website about the station that was about to disappear.

Six of the Best 906

Without the BBC we could be facing a post-truth dystopia, says Jonathan Freedland.

But certain Beeb programmes may be taking us there. Here's Fiona Sturges on Question Time: "At a time of entrenched tribalism, experts remain thin on the ground while showboating 'characters' reign supreme. As contrarian columnists spew bile on one side, terrified junior ministers trot out pre-rehearsed platitudes on the other. Meanwhile, viewers roar in fury on social media."

GrĂ¡inne O’Hare recommends a podcast on the history of general elections.

"When it comes to brain development, time in the classroom may be less important than time on the playground." Jon Hamilton on the power of play.

Sam Dresser explains why Margaret Mead became a hate figure for the right.

"In the early 1960s, Boothby, known throughout his life as Bob, was one of the country’s more famous politicians, albeit now in the House of Lords." Rob Baker introduces to a scandalous figure.

Vazectomy? Leicester East Labour Party to rerun vote for new chair

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Last week came news that Keith Vaz had turned up as the chair of his old constituency Leicester East.

Today the Leicester Mercury reports that the position will be voted on again 'in the coming weeks'.

The East Midlands Labour Party says this was always the plan.

Others will be struck by the Mercury's account of the meeting where the first vote was held:
Some Labour members have claimed they were barred from attending the vote, and one reported being assaulted at the meeting. 
Current MP Claudia Webbe was not present at the constituency Labour party ... meeting which was held on a Tuesday night when she was in Westminster. She told LeicestershireLive she only became aware of it on the night it was held

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Farmer says 'all hell will break loose' if he's offered milk alternative in Ulverston Costa

Our Headline of the Day comes from the North-West Evening Mail.

The judges thank Jonathan Healey.

C.B. Fry and the Training Ship Mercury

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Access to my photos of Repton still comes and goes, so let's stay with C.B. Fry and his training ship Mercury.

The photo above shows Fry with his inmates inspecting a statuette of himself as a cricketer.

The one below shows Winston Churchill watching the boys in training.

And quite what the one below that shows I do not know.

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Embed from Getty Images

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

One, two, three, look at Philip Lee

I wondered how many of the MPs who joined the Liberal Democrats only to lose at the last election would be seen in the party again.

One is certainly staying around.

Wokingham Today reports that Dr Philip Lee has been appointed by the local Lib Dems as parliamentary spokesman for the year ahead and quotes him as saying:
"I was very proud to be asked to become the Wokingham Lib Dems parliamentary spokesman for the coming year and was delighted to accept. 
"With their large majority, it will be essential to hold the Conservatives, and their representative in this area, to account in order to ensure that neither runs roughshod over the interests and wishes of the local community."

Monday, January 20, 2020

Repton, C.B. Fry and feet of clay

Readers with a good memory will recall that I had begun showing you photographs from my days out  during last summer's holiday.

I had got as far as Repton, with its Saxon crypt and stamp machines, when my Photobucket account went tits up.

That was five weeks ago and only today have my photos started to reappear. It all seems very fragile at present, but let's hope that soon improves.

Repton is one of the folders that has come back, so I can carry on with my visit.

St Wystan's does not just have a Saxon crypt to boast. It also has the grave of C.B. Fry - or rather the resting place of his ashes - who was educated at the public school next door.

Who was C.B. Fry? I hear you ask.

I once reviewed a biography of him for Liberal Democrat News and that review was reprinted by the Journal of Liberal History:
lain Wilton’s new biography reveals some heavy feet of clay, but first it is important to appreciate just how compelling a figure Fry was in his prime. Born in 1872, his fame came originally from his extraordinary ability as a sportsman. 
He equalled the world long jump record while a student at Oxford, was reserve for an England rugby trial, won an England soccer cap and played for Southampton in the FA Cup final. Contemporaries likened him to a Greek god in appearance. 
As a cricketer Fry was one of the giants of the golden. years before the First World War. Batting for Sussex with Ranjitsinhji, the silk-shirted Indian whose wristy stroke play ravished Edwardian crowds, he turned himself into the most remorselessly effective batsman in the country.
Fry was twice a Liberal candidate, assisted Ranjitsinhji when he became one of India's representatives at the League of Nations and was himself offered the throne of Albania.

Backwatersman has blogged about Fry's eccentricities, but there is a darker side to his story.

As I wrote in my Lib Dem News review:
 In 1898 he married Beatrice Holme Sumner, ten years his senior. She had long been involved with Charles Hoare, a married banker, and the relationship had resulted in a scandalous society divorce. Her marriage to Fry has been seen by some as a business arrangement: Fry made an honest woman of her in return for Hoare financing his cricket career. 
Wilton rejects this theory, yet his revelation that the first child of the marriage was probably fathered by Hoare seems to support it. 
Hoare had established the Mercury, a training establishment for boys wishing to go to sea. On Hoare’s death in 1908 Fry became its nominal head, but the real power was Beatrice. Her rule became increasingly brutal, and the rigours of life under it proved fatal to one young inmate. 
That reliable arbiter of morals, The Cricket Statistician, has gone so far as to describe both Fry and his wife as psychopaths.

Moving the House of Lords to York

Maybe moving the House of Lords to York isn't practical. Maybe it's the sort of idea that good for a newspaper column but can't survive in the real world.

Still, Britain does have a bad case of overcentralisation. London is our political, commercial and cultural capital. Other countries manage to spread the jam more fairly.

And shouldn't the Liberal Democrats be full of exciting, radical idea for solving this problem? What I have heard today is us speaking up for the status quo.

I admit I am biased: I love York and went to university there. But I would like to hear what the Lib Dem answer to London's overweening importance is if it's not this.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Shrewsbury Prison from above, 1927

As well as the town's prison, this also shows the Severn and Shrewsbury railway station.

The poet Housman adds:
There sleeps in Shrewsbury jail to-night,
Or wakes, as may betide,
A better lad, if things went right,
Than most that sleep outside.

Kevin Ayers: Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes

Time for some more Kevin Ayers.

This track from his album Whatevershebringswesing was relesed as a single in 1971 and again in 1976, but failed to chart both times.

But who cares about that?

Six of the Best 905

"Who displayed the strength and bravery to keep calling it out? Two women. Margaret Oliver, a former detective loathed by senior police command; and Joan Agoglia, the grandmother of a vulnerable teenage girl whose death she simply wanted investigating." Jennifer Williams on the Manchester child abuse scandal,

Chris Dillow points out the massive difference between the sort of conservatism Roger Scruton championed and free market economics.

"British tweeters skew left and toward remaining in the European Union, which reflects their demographic makeup." Helen Lewis reminds us that the Twitter electorate isn't the real electorate.

Anna McKie asks if standing up for expertise is a fool's errand.

Christopher Bray sees David Bowie's career as a Thatcherite parable of hard work by a boy from the suburbs.

Two Dario Argento films - Suspiria and Inferno - are discussed on the Evolution of Horror podcast.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Braybrooke, Great Oxendon and mud

It was a bright winter's day, so I decided on a walk across muddy fields. Very muddy fields, it turned out.

I caught the bus to Braybrooke and made it to the Canvas Cafe at Great Oxendon.

On the way, the low sun showed up the medieval ridge and furrow to great effect and, as ever in this part of the world, the walk was often accompanied by the sound of more or less distant shotguns.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Goodbye Mr Derek

I was very sorry to hear of the death of Derek Fowlds.

His selflessness as an actor was central to the success of Yes Minister, but as a working-class lad he was worried about playing a Whitehall high-flyer. So he turned up to rehearsals with a pair of glasses and a posh accent.

When he saw this Paul Eddington said: "Just talk to me the way you used to talk to Basil Brush."

And here is Derek Fowlds with Basil Brush. Together they produced some of the happiest television moments of my childhood.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

A 1937 film on the dangers of pollution from burning coal

It's a while since we have looked at the BFI's Britain on Film collection, but if you click on the iamge above you will be taken to a fascinating 1937 film on coal pollution.

The blurb for The Smoke Menace on the BFI site runs:
Smog was the deadly downside of Britain's industrial might, as this powerful and revealing documentary spells out. In 1937, coal was Britain's lifeblood; it fuelled her industry and heated most homes. 
But coal was wasteful and dirty, and it had an unpleasant, even lethal by-product. Smog wasn't just nasty and disruptive, it took its toll on buildings, the economy, child development and adult health - and it was a killer, claiming scores of lives every year. 
By 1937, the battle against smog was already being waged: the film points to processing technology to convert raw coal into oil or smokeless fuel, the increasing use of cleaner energy from gas and electricity, and improved housing. 
But another 15 years of periodic outbreaks of smog still lay ahead, before London's Great Smog of 1952 finally spurred Parliament into action in the form of the Clean Air Act of 1956.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Keith Vaz is the new chair of Leicester East Constituency Labour Party as police investigate alleged assault

If you thought you had heard the last of former Labour MP and part-time washing machine salesman Keith Vaz you were wrong.

This evening he was elected chair of the constituency party in his old seat of Leicester East.

If you want to know why this may cause some disquiet, have a read of Vaz's Wikipedia entry.

And there's more.

The Leicester Mercury reports:
A woman has claimed she was assaulted when she was barred from entering a meeting in which Keith Vaz was elected chairman of the Leicester East Constituency Labour Party. 
The Labour activist says she suffered an injury to her right wrist as she attempted to get into the meeting at Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre, in Belgrave, Leicester, on Tuesday night.

She told LeicestershireLive she visited a police station and a walk-in centre to get treatment after the meeting. 
Leicestershire Police has confirmed it is investigating the allegation.
Just another day in Leicester politics.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Paddy Ashdown profiled in 1988

Taken from an edition of This Week broadcast in May 1988.

At that point David Steel and Robert Maclennan were acting as joint leaders of the new party known as the Social and Liberal Democrats.

Row over potatoes at a wake saw 'over-sensitive' man, 59, smack victim with his crutch

A potato yesterday

The judges had no hesitation in choosing Teesside Live as the winner of our Headline of the Day Award.