Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A 1967 advertisement for The Oxney Ferry Inn, Kent


Another advertisement from my 1967 guide to Rye.

The Oxney Ferry Inn is still flourishing, though it seems to have dropped the 'Oxney' from its name. Malcolm Saville fans may recognise it as the Smuggler's Rest of Treasure at Amorys:
Just over a mile to the north of Amorys, and standing well back from the road was an old inn called the Smuggler's Rest. It was a low-pitched, straggling building with white-washed walls and with several shabby sheds and outbuildings at the rear. 
It is probable that this isolated building was once a toll-house with a toll-gate across the road, for still on the wall today is a board with faded lettering stating the toll to be levied on carriages, horses, cattle, sheep and pigs.

For Halloween: The scariest recording I know



This must surely be from the soundtrack of a lost British folk horror classic.

Read more about it on this blog.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Walking the Nottingham canal from the station to the Trent


I first walked the canal through Nottingham has a student almost 40 years ago. I remember  it as a landscape of abandoned warehouses and derelict railway land.

This September I found it altered almost out of recognition. Almost.











Six of the Best 827

"Hammond presented a narrative that explained who the Tories were, what they had done and where they were going that was fathomable and even a little compelling to the objective viewer." Nick Tyrone finds Philip Hammond a more impressive politician than his leader.

Silkie Carlo explains why we should be worried about the mass surveillance of shoppers.

"As the years went by the idea of a confident working class taking its destiny into its own hands - either collectively or through some individual expression of rebellion such as Arthur’s - gradually went out of fashion." James Bloodworth debates the meaning of Alan Sillitoe's novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, 60 years after its publication

"To this day the sacrifice of thousands of watermen who worked on Britain’s canals before serving on the front line has yet to be commemorated." Phil Hoad has news of plans to put that right.

Parul Sehgal explains the persistence of the ghost story in American literature: "In the modern ghost story, especially the American kind, something different occurs. Ghosts protest norms - slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration - the norms that killed them."

Phil Hoad on the career of Muriel Box - Britain’s most prolific female director you've never heard of.

Mark Oaten has left the Liberal Democrats

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Mark Oaten, who was Liberal Democrat for Winchester between 1997 and 2010, has left the party.

We know this from a report in the Hampshire Chronicle and because he has tweeted the letter he received from Great George Street confirming his resignation.

Oaten, who now works as the chief executive of the trade body for the fur industry, even stood for the leadership of the party in 2006. He had to abandon the contest once the press took an interest in his private life.

He tells the Chronicle
“I have resigned from the party so I can take time to see what happens next in British politics. I hope that there will be change. The old parties need to reform or perhaps a new party will emerge and provide a better alternative. 
“I have not been involved in politics for eight years but I hope that in the future I can re engage and become more involved - but at the moment I could not support any party."
Is that a come-and-get-me aimed at a possible new centre party?

Anyway, I am sorry to see him leave, if only because his success in gaining Winchester is such a happy memory for Lib Dems.
Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice
At the 1997 general election Mark Oaten beat the sitting Conservative by two votes. A re-run of the contest was ordered by the courts and he won by 21,556 votes.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Derek Fowlds: How I fell in love with Basil Brush



He was also Bernard Woolley and Oscar Blaketon, but people of my generation will always be grateful that he was Mr Derek.

Should Twitter scrap retweets not likes?


There have been reports today that Twitter is considering scrapping its like button, though the Independent says it will not be happening any time soon.

But, says Taylor Lorenz on The Atlantic site, it is not likes that are Twitter's problem:
if Twitter really wants to foster more healthy conversation, the like button is a puzzling target. "Given so much hate and bile and disinformation and harassment on this website it’s not an immediately obvious move to eliminate the heart shaped button people use to show each other support and appreciation," my colleague James Hamblin tweeted. 
Besides, retweets, not likes, are Twitter's most powerful method of reward. 
The quest to accrue retweets regularly drives users to tweet outlandish comments, extremist opinions, fake news, or worse. Many users knowingly tweet false and damaging information and opinions in an effort to go viral via retweets. Entire Twitter accounts have been built on this strategy. If Twitter really wants to control the out-of-control rewards mechanisms it has created, the retweet button should be the first to go.
And he refers us to an earlier Atlantic article where Alexis. C. Madrigal describes life without retweets:
Twitter has a tool that lets you turn off retweets from one person at a time. But I follow thousands of people, so my office mate, who happens to be a skilled programmer, wrote a script for me that turned off retweets from everybody. 
Retweets make up more than a quarter of all tweets. When they disappeared, my feed had less punch-the-button outrage. Fewer mean screenshots of somebody saying precisely the wrong thing. Less repetition of big, big news. Fewer memes I’d already seen a hundred times. Less breathlessness. And more of what the people I follow were actually thinking about, reading, and doing. It’s still not perfect, but it’s much better.
It's nice to get a lot of retweets, if only because it may bring you more followers, but I think there is something to be said for this idea.

MP: Hammond must 'wake up and smell the coffee' on beer tax





Not for the first time, the Shropshire Star wins our Headline of the Day Award.

You may not be too astounded to learn that the metaphorically confused MP is Shrewsbury's Daniel Kawczynski.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The last remains of Loughborough Derby Road station are gone


Forty jobs are on offer at a new Lidl store in Loughborough, the Leicester Mercury reported earlier this month.

But what interests me is this sentence:
The new store, which will include an on-site bakery, is taking shape on a brownfield site previously occupied by the former Charnwood Forest Railway building and a petrol station.
I photographed those buildings in the spring of last year. The photograph above shows the goods shed that belonged to Loughborough Derby Road station, and the one below shows the petrol station.

The station's platforms vanished long ago - the petrol station was built on the land they had occupied - but you can see them in an aerial photograph of this part of Loughborough from 1947 that I posted here recently.

Trail of the Stamford panther


Exciting news from the Rutland & Stamford Mercury:
A Stamford man who claimed to have seen a black panther on Tuesday night returned the following day and took a photograph of a large pawprint. 
Steve Kelly was so intrigued by the sighting that the following day he returned and managed to capture a photograph of a pawprint left by the creature. ... 
The father-of-four has since contacted BBC wildlife expert Chris Packham and is trying to get in touch with a university zoologist to find out more.
It is two years since the same newspaper reported a sighting of "the elusive Rutland panther" between Teigh and Market Overton.

Rebecca Storm: The Show



Last week Stephanie Beacham led us to The Colour of My Love, so let's stay with her.

The Show was the theme song from a 1985 drama series called Connie. The title character was played by Beacham and - very Eighties - it was set in the fashion world.

This was the role that brought her to the American attention and led to her going on to star in The Colbys and Dynasty.

Connie also did great things for Pam Ferris, who played the villain. She has been on our screens ever since.

With its big, booming synthesisers, The Show is very much of its era too, though I don't suppose it would have got into the charts without the television exposure. The music was written by Willy Russell.

Rebecca Storm sounds rather like Barbara Dickson and starred in Russell's Blood Brothers. And you really can't get more Eightes than that.

She went on to have a successful career in musical theatre and now lives in Ireland.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Six of the Best 826

"Justice requires civility as well as rectitude. The bombastic and the wrong can be stopped, as Joe McCarthy was stopped." Cicero's Songs makes the case for civility in politics.

"The songs on Village Green Preservation Society aren’t really about village greens and steam trains, or saving ‘little shops, china cups and virginity’... the subject Ray Davies was writing about was nostalgia – or rather, the ways in which nostalgia can lead you astray, falsifying memories and leaving you yearning for something which may never have existed in the first place." Andy Miller says the Kinks' great album is more relevant than ever.

London Reconnections explains how a London Overground train coming to a sudden halt outside Peckham Rye station began a chain of events that led to over 80 passengers standing at trackside beside the live rail.

Blitz Detective on fatalities and bombings in Lincolnshire during the second world war.

"As big-budget musical epics go, Camelot, with its glorious Oscar-winning costumes and production design, is nothing short of a dream; the film’s vast scale emblematic of Arthur’s full-to-bursting idealism." Liz Smith makes the case for the film musical often dismissed as a flop.

Susanna Zaraysky introduces us to the Bosnians who speak medieval Spanish.

The Little Stranger: A ghost story or a film about social class?



Yesterday I claimed to like ghost and horror films. Today I went to the pictures as The Little Stranger, which is based on a novel by Sarah Walters, is currently showing at the Phoenix arts centre in Leicester.

It is set just after the second world war and features a country estate that is on its last legs. A young doctor befriends the family who live there. The parallels with Brideshead and Satis House are obvious.

We soon learn that his mother was in service at the big house and that he once visited the house and was overwhelmed by it.

The only weakness of the film is that we are told about his love for it but never really get to see it. Otherwise is beautifully shot and features a uniformly strong cast.

As the doctor befriends the family, we learn that there is an uneasy atmosphere to the house. We come to suspect that it is haunted by the ghost of a dead child.

At first the doctor seems a good man as well as a good doctor, but later we come to doubt his motives.

We also begin to wonder if the house is haunted by the child, something quite different or not haunted at all.

This being England, it is as much a film about social class as it is a ghost film.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Victorian polychromatic brick: St Andrew's, Tur Langton


The Victorian polychromatic brick church of St Andrew is always an unexpected find in such a picturesque village as Tur Langton, but over the years it has grown on me.




The story behind She's Not There by The Zombies



She's Not There is a sold gold classic. It was also the second or third song Rod Argent ever wrote.

In this video he and Colin Blunstone tell the story behind its recording.

Why Halloween doesn't do it for me

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I could do another "Why oh why oh why do we celebrate Halloween now and not Bonfire night?" piece.

But I have already done that act for the Yorkshire Evening Post and the New Statesman and the truth is that Bonfire Night was anti-Catholic propaganda grafted on to much older Halloween traditions.

Besides, I am reaching the age where you have to be clear whether you are playing an old fogey or have really become one.

So let me try another reason for explaining why the fact that shops now fill with Halloween tat at the start of October does not fill me with joy.

Halloween is All Hallows' Eve - the night before All Saints' Day.

It was once the one night of the year when the religious order was overturned. Ghosts and demons walked abroad and, as Horatio once put it, the sheeted dead did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets.

In 2018 we barely have a religious order. It follows that the idea of overturning that order has lost most of its power.

And in an age where children are accompanied by their parents when they go trick or treating, there is little dark or wild about the custom.

I remember a report on local television news about a church or cathedral that had revived the tradition of the 'boy bishop'.

This was not a Halloween tradition - it was most associated with St Nicholas's Day and the Christmas season - whereby, as Wikipedia tells it:
a boy was chosen, for example among cathedral choristers, to parody the real bishop, commonly on the feast of Holy Innocents.
But the modern version, as shown in the television report, featured no parodying at all. A religiously minded boy preached a sermon before the congregation.

So what was once a transgressive custom was shanghaied to shore up what remains of the existing religious order.

Still, no hard feelings and all that. Let me end by recommending The Evolution of Horror podcast to all those with a taste for ghost and horror films.

I am one of them.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Why the Sixties were necessary: Wizz Jones in Newquay


If you want to know why the social revolution of the 1960s was necessary, have a look at this Alan Whicker report on Newquay from 1960:
"The council wrote official letters to all the shopkeepers, cafes and bars urging that they refuse to serve beatniks, and at the same time wrote to the hotels association suggesting that beatniks be given no employment, not even as 'washer-uppers'."
Newquay Urban District Council died in 1974, but Wizz Jones is still with us.

What put me on to this film was seeing a tweet about a concert he is giving in Wanstead on Saturday week.

You can read about his music career on FolkTracks:
‘Wizz Jones was a watched man.’ So writes Keith Richards in his memoir Life. Richards remembers him as a ‘Great folk picker, great guitar picker…’ The soon-to-be Rolling Stone learned ‘Cocaine’ from Wizz and recalled that ‘Nobody, but nobody, played that South Carolina style. He got “Cocaine” from Jack Elliott, but a long time before anyone else… Wizz Jones was a watched man, watched by Clapton and Jimmy Page…’

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Tur Langton village hall came from Cannock Chase


The saga of Tur Langton village hall and Merton College, Oxford, was amicably settled, but on Saturday the hall looked as though it was out of use,

Perhaps it is showing its age? A look at the Victoria County History for Leicestershire shows the hall has an unexpected history:
The village hall, near the west end of the street, is a wooden army hut brought from Cannock Chase, erected by public subscription after the First World War.
Still, that history has nothing on Mowsley village hall.

Lead mines and poetry: A podcast on W.H. Auden


A.E. Housman is not the only poet honoured with a London Review of Books podcast.

Among the others is one on another of my favourite poets, W.H. Auden. It takes a little while to get going, but it is very good when it does.

Like me, Auden had a fondness for ruined lead mines. The photograph above shows the Tankerville Mine in Shropshire, but Auden's favourites were those of the Northern Pennines.

Ludlow Lib Dem councillor Andy Boddington on the buses


Andy Boddington, the Liberal Democrat councillor for the Ludlow North ward of Shropshire Council, has submitted written evidence to the House of Commons transport select committee's inquiry into the health of the bus market.

His evidence addresses the committee's interest in "how bus services are provided to isolated rural and urban communities and their dependence on services."

It argues that buses are "a social service that promotes wellbeing and should be funded on this basis, not just as a means of getting people from A to B".

Andy writes:
Clun with population approaching 700 people has only two bus services a week, both in the middle of the day. Ditton Priors is a similar size and has no bus services. This is leading to premature ageing of the populations in these settlements as young people leave our smallest towns and villages because they have no access to transport. 
Buses are vital to the wellbeing of our rural communities. In a rural town like Ludlow, buses are a social service acting as a "community centre on wheels". They provide access to shops and medical facilities, and to a lesser extent employment. They are an important part of the social fabric of our town of 11,000 people.
He goes on to give examples from his experiences of life in Ludlow to support his contention that:
If people are isolated in their homes, if they can’t socialise, their wellbeing suffers. Buses make a significant contribution to wellbeing in our area. I have no doubt that the contribution to wellbeing exceeds the annual subsidy of £89,000 for services in Ludlow.  
You can read Andy's full submission to the inquiry on his blog.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Great Hucklow celebrates King George V's Silver Jubilee in 1935


These gorgeous scenes of Great Hucklow capture the Derbyshire village's preparations for the celebration of King George V's Silver Jubilee. Shot by one of its most famous residents, British screenwriter L. du Garde Peach (who's probably better known as Ladybird Books' most prolific author), it's a charming portrait of life and laughter in the Pennine village. 
We also see a glimpse of the Village Players, a local theatre group led by Peach. The same year this film was shot he worked on the script for The Tunnel, a spectacular sci-fi tale about the troubled construction of a transatlantic tunnel (also available on BFI Player).
Click on the still above to watch the film on the British Film Institute site.

L. du Garde Peach fought Derby for the Liberal Party at the 1929 general election. He also wrote the book for a musical play, The Charcoal Burner's Son. I once appeared in a school production of it.

Six of the Best 825

Paul Walter on the proposed changes to the Liberal Democrat constitution: "One of the frustrating things about the debate over Vince’s two constitutional proposals is that I am yet to hear Vince come out and actually outline why they are needed."

The rubbish you so carefully sort for collection and recycling may end up on illegal dumps in Malaysia. Alice Ross investigates: "Packaging for Fairy dishwasher tablets, Yeo Valley yoghurt and Tesco Finest crisps was scattered across the pile, alongside plastics from Spain, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan and Australia. Use-by dates indicated the packaging was left there in recent months."

In 1971, the UK government closed 100 Irish border crossings and cratered them with explosives. Gearóid Ó Faoleán describes what happened next.

Kate Starbird explains how Russian information operations infiltrated online communities in order to influence the 2016 US Presidential election.

"The landscape around Avebury is a sort of huge time machine anyway so the sense of temporal dislocation is already present in the land itself. But Jarman’s film brings something else to this ritual landscape." Corse Present shows us Derek Jarman's 1971 film A Journey to Avebury.

Simon Garfield explains the appeal of model villages.

Monday, October 22, 2018

The former Congregational chapel in Tur Langton


As well as its incongruous but magnificent Victorian church and the remaining fragment of its predecessor, Tur Langton once had a Noncomformist chapel.

According to The Churches Of Britain and Ireland page for Leicestershire, it was Congregational and closed before 1957. (Later. But see the comment from Mark Cox below.)

Like the chapel in nearby East Langton, it appears to have suffered the indignity of being turned into a garage.

But it still looked fine in the autumnal afternoon sunshine on Saturday.



All My Life's Buried Here: The Story of George Butterworth



From the website seeking funding to make the film All My Life's Buried Here:
For the first time in a film, the story of George Butterworth: composer, folk song collector, folk dancer and prime mover in a radical era for British music before World War One. 
This is your opportunity to support a comprehensive and lovingly crafted journey through George Butterworth's life and music.  By supporting our campaign you can help put this powerful documentary on cinema screens in the UK and bring George's story to the widest possible audience.

Andrew George: Still campaigning in West Cornwall


Andrew George, who was Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives from 1997 to 2015, is still campaigning hard.

His website says:
The Conservatives may have successfully clung onto this seat at the last General Election with a narrow majority. But there’s a growing campaign team of people who will fight for those the Conservatives can never speak up for. The struggling majority, the inadequately housed, our NHS, our schools and colleges, small businesses and the self employed, those who care for our environment. 
Andrew George has vowed “not to walk away”. You can join a growing campaign team. We’re determined to win this seat back at the next General Election, to make a big difference, to change the direction of this country for the better.
Today the website Cornish Stuff quotes him crossing swords with St Ives' current Conservative MP:
“Since the 2015 General Election Liberal Democrats have not been there to ensure the Conservatives honoured the previously agreed financial support for the post office. If the Government continues as it has done since 2015 we’ll lose many more much valued local post offices.”
It would be good to see Andrew back in the Commons. He was always one of the more interesting Lib Dem MPs/

Sunday, October 21, 2018

A souvenir of Rye from 1967


They say that if you can remember the Sixties you weren't there. But I do remember them and I was there.

I even remember the Summer of Love, though it may help that I was that I was only seven years old at the time. I wore shorts, sandals and those T-shirts with horizontal stripes and three buttons at the neck that were suddenly fashionable again a few years ago.

In 1967 we had a family caravan holiday on Winchelsea Beach.

The songs that bring it back to me even after all these years are Up, Up and Away by the Johnny Mann Singers and All You Need is Love by The Beatles.

I own a souvenir from that holiday in the shape of a guide to Rye we bought then. It cost1/6.

The advertisements in it now have period interest, if not period charm, and I shall post some of them here.

This is the first.

I seem to recall that we took a trip via Robertsbridge and Tenterden, courtesy of the East Kent Road Car Company Ltd.

Six of the Best 824

Caron Lindsay went on yesterday's march demanding a referendum on the final Brexit deal.

"At every stage of the Brexit process we have seen complete indifference to the fate of Northern Ireland. The “precious union” stuff is a gaudy orange garment borrowed from the DUP to cover the most nakedly obvious attitude: this Irish border stuff concerns a faraway people of whom we know nothing and care less." Fintan O'Toole says the Brexiters don't care about Northern Ireland.

Penelope Gibbs on the rudeness of judges and why it matters.

"The article on ringcraft ... notes approvingly that former British and Empire champion Len Harvey ‘maintains that every boy should take up boxing’. The conclusion is as unremarkable in the 1951 book for children as it would be inconceivable today." Paul Saffer reviews Every Boy’s Book of Sport 1951, which was edited by Denis Compton.

"Few holloways are in use now: they are too narrow and too slow to suit modern travel. But they are also too deep to be filled in and farmed over. So it is that, set about by some of the most intensively farmed countryside in the world, the holloways have come to constitute a sunken labyrinth of wildness in the heart of arable England." Robert Macfarlane takes us into a secret landscape.

Tom Cox remembers the cold and isolated stay in Derbyshire that inspired his new collection of ghost stories.

Barry Ryan: The Colour of My Love



Talking Pictures TV has started showing the series Public Eye, which ran between 1965 and 1975. Oddly, I have no memory of watching it.

The other evening a 22-year-old Stephanie Beacham came on screen. She was carrying a transistor radio and it was playing this tune.

I managed to catch enough of the words to look it up. (Thank God for the internet.)

Like the might Eloise, The Colour of My Love was written by Paul Ryan and sung by his twin brother Barry.

It was released as a single in the UK, but was not a hit. The tune does not really go anywhere, but there is still something appealing about it.

Just the sort of song you used to hear on someone else's radio.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

King Charles's Well at Tur Langton


After the Royalists were defeated at the Battle of Naseby, Charles I fled north to Leicester.

According to Roy Palmer's Folklore of Leicestershire and Rutland:
At some stage he visited Tur Langton, where he watered his horse at what is still called King Charles' Well. (This was once the only source of water in the area, and even during the drought of 1976 it did not run dry.)
Today I went to Tur Langton and found the well. It stands three fields from the village, along the footpath towards Stonton Wyville.

On the way you come across some old quarrying, which has marked the landscape, and the local livestock takes an interest.

When I arrived at the well there was a fine red kite circling overhead. Until recently these scavengers were rare in Britain, but it would be surprising if one did not watch Charles and his horse.

The well itself looks unhealthy - a horse would have to be thirsty indeed to risk it. The brick surround, says The Megalithic Portal, dates from 1813.





Friday, October 19, 2018

An Easter tradition at St Mary in Arden, Market Harborough

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This photograph has turned up on Getty Images with the caption "Graveside Hymn, Market Harborough."

As those houses in the background look like the bottom end of Great Bowden Road, the explanation for it is to be found on a page about the ruined church of St Mary in Arden:
A Service is still held here every Easter Saturday at 6.00pm, in accordance with the bequest of William Hubbard, whose gravestone is one of the few remaining in situ. In 1786 he left a rent-charge of one guinea to the church provided that ‘the Harborough singers’ sang the Easter hymn over his grave every year on Easter eve. The choir from St Dionysius church has continued this unbroken tradition for (at the time of writing) the last 225 years.
I will go along to see the fun one Easter.

In the mean time, there are some photographs of St Mary in Arden on this blog.

Charles Masterman and the pit-brow lasses

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Helen Pidd had an article in Sunday's Observer on an exhibition at Bishop Auckland Museum that celebrates the role of women in British coal mining.

This put me in mind of my favourite Edwardian Liberal, Charles Masterman, as he was the minister responsible for taking the Coal Mines Act of 1911 through the Commons.

Masterman's wife Lucy wrote about this episode in her biography of him:
The Coal Mines Act went through with little trouble except for a struggle to keep pit-brow lasses their right to work. Masterman had made enquiries into the question when he had been to Lancashire ... and had also received a deputation of the lasses themselves, sturdy, strapping girls obviously in far better health than the majority of factory of shop girls; and was determined they should not go. 
He laid down the principle: that women should not be forbidden any type of work unless it was proved to be (1) unhealthy, (2) in a situation dangerous to morals, (3) of a degrading and degraded character, and that a Parliament in which women were not represented should be chary of excluding them from any work they wished to do.

On refusing to be outraged at Nick Clegg's new job

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Nick Clegg stopped being deputy prime minister almost three-and-a-half years ago. By modern standards he has waited a couple of aeons before taking the corporate shilling.

Fairly or unfairly, Nick is unlikely to able to continue a career in British politics and is still too toxic to be of much help to the Liberal Democrats, so he does need to find something to do with his life.

And I suspect he was always cut out to be a Eurocrat or corporate insider than a campaigning politician.

As James Kirkup once wrote:
Politics is about arguments, about persuading people, by fair means or foul, to lend you their votes and their permission to rule. And this is what baffles Clegg.
The idea that a politician has used the prominence we have given them as a stepping stone to riches will never be an appealing one, but that may be a diminishing problem.

Now that the Tony Blair Playbook no longer contains all the answers (it says nothing about what to do in an economic crisis, for instance), politicians no longer have to be attractive young men with families.

So we will see retired politicians being left at a loose end after they leave written their memoirs.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Secrets of the Glasgow Subway



This is the third oldest underground railway system in the world. Only London and Budapest got there before Glasgow.

Six of the Best 823

"We need to reinstate the need for more leisure time as a political ideal and work on the sound evidence of its benefits rather than dismissing it as unaffordable." Darren Martin makes the case for a shorter working week.

Anne Applebaum on the murder of journalists across the globe: "The murders are the consequence of the clash between a 21st century technological revolution, which has made it possible to obtain and spread information in new ways, and a 21st century offshore banking revolution, which has made it possible to steal money in new ways, to hide it in new ways and to use it to maintain power."

Human Rights Watch is concerned about the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill: "The draft law punishes a single click on terrorist content online with up to 15 years in prison."

"On November 9, 1918, extra editions of newspapers flood the center of Berlin. One of them, from the socialist Vorwärts, falls into the hands of Käthe Kollwitz as she is strolling in the Tiergarten. 'The Kaiser has abdicated!' says the banner headline." Daniel Schönpflug looks at the artist and at Germany in defeat.

Curved or straight, the banana is at risk of dying. Matt Reynolds examines the race to reinvent it before it's too late.

Icy Sedgwick takes us along the old corpse roads.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Peter Sellers in The Optimists of Nine Elms



I remember seeing this clip from the 1973 film The Optimists of Nine Elms on Clapperboard, an excellent film programme for children that Chris Kelly introduced on ITV in those days.

Peter Sellers used to claim that his father had taught George Formby to play the ukulele, though I don't know the truth of that.

You can hear Martin Cathy and Dave Swarbrick performing I Haven't Told Her elsewhere on this blog.

There's life in Adur Lib Dems yet

Having made Sunday's Lib Dem Voice Golden Dozen with a post asking "Whatever happened to Adur Liberals?", I am pleased to report that there is still life in the party in that part of West Sussex.

A report in the Worthing Herald tells us about a debate in Lancing. What should be done about the town's former police station?

The paper says
Members of Lancing and Sompting Liberal Democrats released a statement last month calling on the council to provide social housing on the site. 
Doris Martin, chairman of the Lancing and Sompting Lib Dems, said: "We urge Adur District Council to pursue this objective vigorously. 
"We believe it would be a major lost opportunity if the site is sold off into the private sector for flats. 
"It seems to us that few suitable sites become available for a significant addition to the social housing stock and this opportunity needs to be grasped."
And if you were given a home on the site you could call in Dunploddin'.

Hares in the Euston Road


After live-tweeting an academic event at University College London for my day job yesterday, I needed a restorative pint on the way back to St Pancras.

I made my way through darkest Bloomsbury before coming across The Resting Hare on Woburn Walk.

It opened a year or two ago and its website explains how it got its name:
The architect behind Woburn Walk, Thomas Cubitt, noted the tameness of the hares on his early morning constitutional. After the opening of Woburn Walk, the newly laid paving stones became a magnet for the local hares, who could easily be seen late at night resting peacefully along the walk. 
Indeed, famous poet W. B. Yeats who lived on Woburn Walk in the 1920’s, wrote of "a handsome old grey hare taking rest" outside number 6. 
Development and increased traffic on the Euston Road had made the crossing too difficult for the hares, and by the start of the 1930s they had disappeared into history.
A remarkable story - and there used to be a pub called The Hare's Foot in nearby Goodge Street.

This week came news that myxomatosis - a disease introduced to Britain in 1953 to control the rabbit population, which it did only temporarily - has jumped the species barrier and is now infecting hares.

Nature is resilient and forgiving, but we do seem determined to trash it.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Loughborough Derby Road station from above (1947)


Remember when I went to look for what remains of the old Loughborough Derby Road station and was taken for an explorer by two boys who probably were not ghosts?

This aerial photograph shows the station in 1947, when it had long closed to passengers but was still open for goods services.

It is halfway down the photo towards the right-hand side. You can clearly see the goods shed that still stands there and the low station buildings are next to the main road.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Six of the Best 822

Photo: Alan Light
Adam Bernard does not think much of Vince Cable's proposed changes to the Liberal Democrat constitution: "There is no practical way for the party to verify that each 'supporter' is a different person, let alone that they’re who they say they are. It is trivial for anyone to make a dozen or a hundred 'supporters'. It is near-impossible to weed them out."

"Our education service is poor value, poor quality and incredibly expensive. Successive governments have spent vast amounts of money on creating a National Curriculum; a vast bureaucracy and an expensive inspectorate. There is little sign, however, that the way we spend the money and what we do with children is in the long-term interests of them or our country." Whereas Richard Kemp strongly supports the new Lib Dem education policy.

The Conservatives' target seats are short of candidates, reports Mark Wallace.

Ailbhe Finn says our approach to mental health isn't working.

Do journalists pay too much attention to Twitter? Matthew Ingram thinks so.

"In an industry keen to ignore women once they get past middle age, the widowed Fletcher is something of a unlikely feminist icon." Tanya Jones celebrates Angela Lansbury and Murder She Wrote.