Sunday, September 30, 2018

India v England at Chennai, January 1973

There is not much cricket footage from my early years of following England on Youtube, but I have found this.

England won the first test on their 1972-3 tour of India, but lost the second. This video shows them losing the third. The last two tests were drawn, giving India a 2-1 victory.

England took four spinners on that tour. Norman Gifford and Pat Pocock are playing here, so Derek Underwood must have been injured. The fourth spinner in the party was Leicestershire's Jack Birkenshaw.

We would love to have such an embarrassment of riches today, particularly when you recall that a fifth spinner, Ray Illingworth (who missed this tour), came back into the team as captain in the summer of 1973.

The opening bowlers are Geoff Arnold and Chris Old, with Tony Greig as third seamer.

Arnold, who is still coaching at Surrey, is rather a forgotten figure, but he was a fine swing bowler. Only Jimmy Anderson and the young Ian Botham stand ahead of him in my experience.

Old was one of those bowlers who looked much faster live than on television.

It is nothing new for sides to find conditions much easier at home. When India came to England 18 months later, Arnold and Old skittled them for 42 at Lord's.

Now Culloden Battlefield is under threat from development

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I don't know if its just a coincidence or a sign of the pressure for development across the country, but Bosworth is not the only historic British battlefield being encroached upon.

Today's Observer reports on what is happening at Culloden:
A development of 16 luxury houses by Kirkwood Homes has been approved despite pleas to the Scottish government by conservation groups to have the plans called in for further scrutiny. Several other planning applications are in varying degrees of progress. 
The developers maintain that the new buildings will be on the periphery of the ancient battlefield, and that the site itself will not be disturbed. Opponents, though, are aghast at the prospect of the hallowed site being eventually hemmed in by an extensive multi-use development that, they say, will alter drastically the fundamental character of the place. 
Less than the length of a field away from the scene of battle a digger can be glimpsed amid mounds of earth as a building site begins to take shape.
The Observer goes on to say that a demonstration against the development will be be held on the battlefield on 13 October.

And a petition against development garnered almost 100,000 signatures.

The 5th Dimension: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In

I know what they say, but I remember the 1960s and the picture we have of it now as a musical wonderland is only half the story.

Simon Titley used to say that if you picked a Sixties chart at random Ken Dodd was generally at number 1. And what I remember from the era is the songs from the shows.

Seemingly by law, every request programme played Harry Secombe singing If I Ruled the World and Stanley Holloway singing I'm Getting Married in the Morning.

And if you went to a friend's house their parents would have, not Ogden's Nut Gone Flake or The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, but the cast recordings of Oliver! or My Fair Lady.

There was more fun to be had at one friend's house as his parents had the cast recording from Hair, which we used to play.

Hair was the hippy musical that made into the mainstream. Its West End production, which opened 50 years ago this week, was delayed until theatre censorship had been abolished in Britain. Wikipedia reveals that the London cast contained someone who is now a Liberal Democrat peer.

The 5th Dimension had a worldwide hit with these songs from Hair. Being good Christian folk, they were not naturually part of the counterculture, but that's show business.

Now listen to The 5th Dimension singing Wedding Bell Blues.

Huge cannabis farm found at Heinz mushroom soup mine in the Westcountry

DevonLive wins our Headline of the Day Award.

The judges praised the insight the website gives into Heinz's production methods while questioning how long it is that "West Country" has been one word.

Circus elephants at Leicester station

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From the mid 1960s, when a performance by Billy Smart's Circus was a big deal on television.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Gobowen to Welshpool to reopen?

The story does not have that much weight when you read it closely, but the Shropshire Star is getting excited about the possibility that the railway line from Gobowen to Welshpool may be reopened:
The Gobowen to Welshpool rail route was shut in the 1960s, however an idea was mooted by a Powys councillor about reopening the route back in June. 
Now the proposal has been put to transport secretary for Wales Ken Skates, who was asked this week by Mid and West Wales AM Helen Mary Jones whether a study will be commissioned as part of the Mid Wales Growth Deal. 
Mr Skates said the line would be looked at as part of a strategy to reopen lines across the country.
According to the Star, the line was closed to passengers in 1966 and to freight in 1971.

My photograph is taken from the footbridge at Welshpool, where the tracks have been slewed away from the station building to make room for a new main road.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Long Eaton's second tin tabernacle

I found St Mary's near Long Eaton station earlier this summer, but there is a second tin tabernacle nearer the town centre.

Derbyshire Places of Worship tells its story:
This is a classic "tin tabernacle" building, with a central porch, sides of four bays, each with a window, and painted pale blue. According to The Long Eaton and Sawley Archive the building started life as a Railway Mission, for which meetings were held in Midland Street. 
This cause became defunct, and the building and its furnishings were purchased by the United Gospel Mission, who had been meeting in the former Primitive Methodist Church in Chapel Street. They renovated the Mission Hall, and re-erected it further down the same street, where it was in use for 27 years.
It is still in use as commercial premises, though it has now been painted green.

Mortal thoughts on the Lib Dems and a new centre party

A sobering paragraph* in Isabel Hardman's Evening Standard article on the prospects for a new centre party:
 It is certainly the case that none of those wavering Labourites would defect straight to the Lib Dems if they ever do manage to find the courage to leave their own party. Many of them confess to feeling very politically close to certain Lib Dems such as Norman Lamb and Jo Swinson, but feel the Lib Dem brand is damaged beyond repair. 
Even those Lib Dems who think their party can lead the change agree that there are significant branding problems. They’re quite comfortable, for instance, with the idea of the party’s name changing, and it not being what one thinker describes as ‘too precious about what we stand for, beyond being liberals, of course’. 
But isn't the Lib Dem brand so damaged because we weren't precious enough about what we stood for when we went into coalition with the Conservatives?
Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice
* It's one paragraph in the Standard. I tend to break up newspaper paragraphs when I quote them to make them easier to read online.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Cardinal and The Corpse: Deeper into Iain Sinclair's world

Reminiscing about a lost Stamford bookshop, I mentioned Iain Sinclair's novel White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings.

This film takes us deeper into its world of disreputable book scouts.

We meet - still alive and thoroughly respectable - Michael Moorcock and Alan Moore.

Then there's David Seabrook (dead), Michael Stone (dead) and Driffield (disappeared, though see the recent court case).

Maybe Iain Sinclair is right to say that his London has come to an end.

Six of the Best 819

An alternative to conventional overseas aid? USAID, the American foreign aid agency, is conducting a trial that measures the impact when poor people abroad are simply given money with which to decide what’s best for themselves. Marc Gunther reports.

Sophie Scott examines the science behind the UN's laughing reaction to Donald Trump.

"According to the card shop, we are all glitter-loving, cupcake-scoffing prosecco princesses, just waiting for gin o’clock." Olivia Gagan on what greeting cards tell us about society's narrow view of women.

"Underpinning Google’s increasing and seemingly magical ability to predict what you want to search for, when you want to search for it, is an ever-growing pool of data." Mic Wright doesn't want Google to take him on journeys, he just wants it to answer his questions.

Glen Browder and Terri Ann Ognibene investigate the mysterious 'Turks' of South Carolina.

Go on a journey beneath the streets of Shrewsbury with Chris Schurke.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A Melton Mowbray kebab shop window

Early 19th century? It's to be found above a door at a kebab shop near Melton Mowbray station.

Seal slaps kayaker in his face with an octopus

Thanks to a nomination from a reader, Boing Boing wins our
Headline of the Day Award. Well done everybody. 

Photo by Fred Heap on Unsplash.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Chaos in the Stiperstones

From the Shropshire Star:
Severn Trent Water has been accused of causing more chaos on Shropshire roads after a short-notice closure shut the road between two rural villages. 
School buses, commuters and the service bus between Snailbeach and Stiperstones all found themselves turned away when they ran into unexpected roadworks. 
The water company said no notice could be given as it was an emergency closure, but this has not gone down well with residents who reported the leak more than two months ago. 
Councillor Heather Kidd, who represents Chirbury and Worthen, said: "Severn Trent fail to deal with leaks until they get pretty serious. They ignore problems until things get worse and then suddenly close a road, claiming its an emergency."
It's good to see Heather is on Severn Trent's case and this does give me an excuse to post another photograph of one of my favourite roads.

Permission granted for test track on part of Bosworth Battlefield

This evening the planning committee of Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council approved a planning application from the Japanese engineering firm Horiba Mira Ltd to build a test track for driverless vehicles on part of Bosworth Battlefield.

The decision was deferred from last month's meeting after heritage organisations began to express their concern.

I am finding it hard to feel happy about this decision.

It seems to arise from a small council's natural anxiety to please a major local employer and from the lack of an initial outcry from the heritage lobby.

The conclusion seems to be that sites of national importance should be protected at a national level.

Rutland county councillor charged over Facebook posts

This summer Richard Alderman from the 'Democracy Rutland' group won a county council by-election by the drawing of lots after he and the Liberal Democrat candidate polled an equal number of votes.

Less than a week later, he was arrested over some Facebook posts he had made.

Now, the Leicester Mercury reports, he has been charged with three counts of sending, by public communication network, an offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing message.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Another telephone exchange that should have been a chapel

I have a weakness for telephone exchanges that look like chapels. I have even found a chapel that used to be a telephone exchange.

So it is high time I showed you this one in Market Harborough. (Little Bowden, actually.)

Later. It has been suggested to me that it is a mere electricity substation, but I still like it.

Lord Adonis to speak for a People's Vote in Leicester on 4 October

The European Movement is organising a meeting in Leicester in support of a 'People's Vote'.

Andrew Adonis will be the speaker and the meeting will take place at the Secular Hall on Thursday 4 October from 6pm.

Book your place on eventbrite.

The Secular Hall is part of the history of Leicester radicalism and, back in the 1970s, Leicester Chess Club met there.

In those days the Market Harborough team included a vicar, and I suspect he was rather disconcerted by its busts of great atheists.

Iain Sinclair on health and architecture

There is no sign of short time in the psychogeography industry.

Iain Sinclair has a new book coming out: Living with Buildings and Walking with Ghosts: On Health and Architecture.

It takes him far from his Hackney haunts, with visits to Mexico and to Jonathan Meades in Marseilles.

Julian Mash says:
This is a thought-provoking book in which Sinclair, as usual, raises more questions than he answers, forging links between people and places as he makes his inquiries. 
It is clear from his arguments that it is not a simple equation of well planned buildings leading to well balanced and healthy residents. It is the individuals inside the buildings coming together to form a community that ultimately leads to a healthier and happier existence.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

A Stamford plaque for Sir Malcolm Sargent

This modest house in Wharf Road, Stamford, as the plaque records, was the boyhood home of Sir Malcolm Sargent.

Sargent began as the church organist in Melton Mowbray - there is a plaque on the house where he lived there too -  but thanks to his extraordinary musical talents and skill at social climbing he ended as a celebrated conductor and star of the Proms.

His nickname of 'Flash Harry' may tell you something of his reputation among orchestral players. Yet I was seven when he died and remember it being a big news story and how sorry people were.

There is a good piece on Sargent's current reputation by Ivan Hewett.

Masters of Reality: John Brown

This, I understand, is what the young people used to call 'stoner rock'.

It is a live version of a track from the Masters of Reality's first LP, which was released in 1989.

There are some versions around with Ginger Baker playing on them, but I like this one best.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Melton Mowbray: How closed urban railways used to be

So there I was walking beside the River Wreake,* which saw commercial traffic between 1797 and 1877 as the Melton Mowbray Navigation.

On the edge of town I came across a railway embankment. The bridge that had taken it across the Wreake was gone, but it had been replaced by a footbridge.

I knew what I had found: this was the GNR & LNWR Joint Railway. It started just north of Market Harborough and, branching at its northern end, ran to Nottingham and Bottesford.

Passenger services (including Northampton to Nottingham via Market Harborough and Melton Mowbray) ceased in 1953, but it remained open for goods until 1964. Bits and pieces of it survived even after that.

I was interested to find that, either side of the bridge, the embankment was in use as an unofficial footpath.

This was what it was like in the 1970s, before old railway trackbeds through towns were redeveloped to provide space for housing, roundabouts and retail parks.

In those days they were the haunt of dog walkers and truant schoolchildren. If you came across a derelict railway hut, the odds were its floor would feature a scattering of torn up porn mags.

I guess that is why they now call them permissive footpaths.

* In fact it is still the River Eye here. The Eye becomes the Wreake a mile or two downstream of Melton.

Alistair Darling and councils setting illegal budgets

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I see Dawn Butler has spoken in praise of Labour councils that refused to set a balance budget because of the limits Margaret Thatcher's government set for them.

Which gives me a perfect excuse for reprinting one of this blog's favourite quotations.

Here is George Galloway reminiscing in 2008:
When I first met him 35 years ago Darling was pressing Trotskyite tracts on bewildered railwaymen at Waverley Station in Edinburgh. He was a supporter of the International Marxist Group, whose publication was entitled the Black Dwarf. 
Later, in preparation for his current role he became the treasurer of what was always termed the rebel Lothian Regional Council. Faced with swinging government spending cuts which would have decimated the council services or electorally ruinous increases in the rates, Alistair came up with a creative wheeze. 
The council, he said, should refuse to set a rate or even agree a budget at all, plunging the local authority into illegality and a vortex of creative accounting leading to bankruptcy. 
Surprisingly, this strategy had some celebrated friends. There was "Red Ted" Knight, the leader of Lambeth council, in London, and Red Ken Livingstone newly elected leader of Greater London Council. Red Ally and his friends around the Black Dwarf were for a time a colourful part of the Scottish left. 
The late Ron Brown, Red Ronnie as he was known, was Alistair's bosom buddy. He was thrown out of Parliament for placing a placard saying hands off Lothian Region on Mrs Thatcher's despatch box while she was addressing the House. And Darling loved it at the time. 
The former Scottish trade union leader Bill Speirs and I were dispatched by the Scottish Labour Party to try and talk Alistair Darling down from the ledge of this kamikaze strategy, pointing out that thousands of workers from home helps to headteachers would lose their jobs as a result and that the council leaders - including him - would be sequestrated, bankrupted and possibly incarcerated. How different things might have been. 
Anyway, I well remember Red Ally's denunciation of myself as a "reformist", then just about the unkindest cut I could have imagined.

Layla Moran calls on Lib Dems to stop hiding under the duvet

There was a positive interview with Layla Moran ("The bright new face of the centre") in the Evening Standard the other day:
She’d like her party to come up with more "exciting, liberal policies". 
"Since coalition we’ve stopped doing that. When we lost badly in 2015 we were sad and hid under the duvet a bit and we didn’t develop policies that are clear about what it means to be a liberal democrat." 
Would a different leader have changed this? 
"I think that passes the buck." 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Pax et Lux: Long Eaton's Carnegie library

You come across this striking library on the long walk from Long Eaton station to the town centre.

The Carnegie Legacy in England will tell you about its history:
Designed by 1906, by architects Gorman and Ross of Long Eaton and built by Messrs J & J Warner of Mickleover.  Above the entrance is a "mosaiced tympanum with the figure of Learning set against a golden sunburst." 
The library also has a large stained glass window by Stoddart of Nottingham. ... 
Awarded Grade II listing in 1986. To east of the main entrance is a pair of free-standing iron gates, all that now remains of the original Art Nouveau railings that encircled the library. These are also included in the listing.

The exotic sprism bounce? Lib Dems at 13 per cent in new poll

An exotic prism yesterday
There is a little encouragement for the Liberal Democrats in today's Ipsos-MORI opinion poll:

Conservative          39%

Labour                    37%
Liberal Democrats  13%

Of course, bloggers only notice polls where they are favourable to their party, but this is our highest share in any poll since the general election.

And it follows a number of recent polls in which we have recorded double figures.

Baby steps, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and all that.

Headline shamelessly stolen from Michael Noller on Twitter.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Lost bookshops and Iain Sinclair in Stamford

In Stamford the other day I mourned the loss of secondhand bookshops. I could think of three that have disappeared from the town (though one of them has moved to Uppingham). These days, when most trade in books is done online, there is less point in paying the rent on a shop.

Another of those lost shops was to be found in the Wharf Road part of town. I seem to remember an old warehouse that you entered from the yard at the rear.

When you don't visit town often the buildings tend to shuffle themselves, making individual shops hard to find. But I am pretty sure that the warehouse has been demolished and the site redeveloped. I suspect the modern flats beside the Welland in the photograph above stand on that site.

My reason for blogging about the shop is that I suspect it has been immortalised in Iain Sinclair's 1987 novel White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings, where the narrator and three other bookdealers descend upon 'Steynford':
Mossy Noonmann's bookshop, if we afford it the courtesy of that title, was probably the only one open in the whole of the Midlands, from Wolverhampton to Boston, and out into the North Sea. And he was the least likely proprietor. How he come here nobody knew and few cared to guess. ... 
Noonmann was a New Yorker, veteran of Peace Eye Bookstore, who, not fancying an engagement in South East Asia in the mid-60s, had returned to the Europe of his forefathers by way of Liverpool, then, briefly the centre of the universe. A single evening disproved this conceit: Noonmann found a mattress in Westbourne Grove. 
There were minor misunderstandings over rent books, social security paperwork, import/export regulations concerning self-administered resins from the Middle East; there was a misplaced briefcase of ounces, and Mossy decided to hit the road. 
Two hours up the A1 and the Camberwell-domiciled holder of a Heavy Goods Vehicle Licence was ready to turn it in rather than carry Mossy another mile. He walked down the hill into Steynford. He's been there ever since, and never walked so far again.
One must allow for Sinclairian exaggeration (and avoid libel suits), but I remember the proprietor of my bookshop as a large, shambling American who rather fits this description.

And if the shop was as decrepit as Sinclair painted it, it is no surprise that is has long since been demolished.

Layla Moran questions some of Vince Cable's party reforms

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The conventional wisdom holds that once a political leader starts to talk about standing down, he or she is drained of authority.

In the case of Vince Cable (whom I have always rather admired as a political operator) the conventional wisdom is being proved right.

Suddenly he looks his age and his leadership is being openly questioned.

Business Insider (which normally gets its Liberal Democrats stories from 12-year-old workers at party HQ) has an interview with Layla Moran:
Moran said that while she supported "really well-respected" non-MPs from inside the movement leading the party — like councillors, or parliamentarians from Scotland or Wales  — she did not want a "celebrity" to get the job. 
"I have concerns about a celebrity coming into the party and saying they're going to lead us to the promised land," she said. "If they weren't a Lib Dem before, why the hell would they want to be now?" 
"The party, in general, would be really sceptical if that happened." 
Asked whether she would support an MP formerly of another party taking control of the Lib Dems — like Labour's Chuka Umunna, who is frequently tipped to walk away from his party — Moran said: "Absolutely not."
I sense there is widespread support for the idea of Lib Dem 'Supporters', though debate over the privileges that status should bring with it.

As I have blogged, successful parties naturally attract a wider circle of people who wish them well but do not want to join.

Of course, there is no guarantee the process will work the other way round. Attracting that wider circle first will not necessarily lead to success.

I am a sceptic about a leader from outside the parliamentary party, while the idea of allowing people to stand for the party as soon as they join is surely aimed at making things easier for MPs of other parties who decide to join us.

There was another problem with Vince's announcement that he will be standing down. He said he would go when Brexit is "resolved or stopped".

The idea that Brexit can be resolved quickly is a Leaver fantasy. And that fantasy fuels the voters who say they cannot understand why the governments hasn't "just got on with it".

Featured on Liberal Democrat VoiceVince should not have given this fantasy any credence,

If he waits until Brexit is resolved he will be Lib Dem leader for decades.

Six of the Best 818

"One thing I heard a few times at Liberal Democrat Conference was an assertion along the lines of 'most people are centrists, therefore they’ll want to join us and vote for us if we just give them a chance'." Nick Barlow unpicks this centrist fallacy.

Want a guide to making your voice heard on the proposed changes to the Lib Dem membership and constitution? Paul Walter is your man.

Antonio Garcia Martinez says Silicon Valley's economics are fuelling a new caste system: "One of the most refreshing things about living in Europe (or small towns in the rural US) is  knowing that the poor aren’t condemned to a completely separate, and inferior, life. Your place in the world isn’t wholly defined by wealth. The story is rather different in San Francisco."

"Like a shooting star, Willkie burned brightly, if briefly, over this country’s political landscape, leaving behind an astonishing legacy of bipartisanship that had an outsize impact on the outcome of the war." Lynne Olson reviews a biography of Wendell Willkie, the unsuccessful Republican challenger to FDR in 1940.

Alex Evans argues that we should address political polarisation as a clinical psychologist would help the traumatised.

Richard Bratby shares tales of UFOs and mysterious big cats from Cannock Chase.   

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Watch a talk by the real Frank Abagnale

Remember Catch Me If You Can?

Here the real-life Frank Abagnale - the character played in the film by Leonardo DiCaprio - talks about his life and career.

Herbert Morris, Loughborough, from the canal towpath

Last time I blogged about the threatened Herbert Morris industrial buildings in Loughborough, a commenter recommended the view from the canal towpath.
He was right and here it is.

Back to the siege of Weston-under-Redcastle

Veteran Shropshire journalist Frank Fuller has never worn his siege tie in 50 years and is not about to start now. 
It was produced to mark an event in September 1968 which went down in British history. 
"It was the longest siege in British police history, and I think that still holds good today," said Frank, 88, of Market Drayton.
I have blogged about the siege of Weston-under-Redcastle  before. .

An article in the Shropshire Star tells the story again, with some quotes from people who were involved.

I like to think that the comments on my first post on the siege are even more enlightening.

Where the Grantham Canal joined the Trent

Having got a taste for canals joining the Trent - at Shardlow and Long Eaton - I though I would seek out the point where the Nottingham Canal did so.

I did so, but on the opposite bank of the river I found something even more interesting: the remains of the lock where the Grantham Canal reached the Trent. It stands in the shadow of the Brian Clough Stand at Nottingham Forest's City Ground.

The short stretch of canal that remains above the lock was today covered by a lurid bloom of algae.

Miles to the east, strides are being made with the restoration of the Grantham, which was formally closed in 1936, but its route through West Bridgford to the Trent is lost under road schemes. Another cut will have to be made if boats are again to reach the Vale of Belvoir and Grantham.

You can read about this waterway and its restoration on The Grantham Canal Society website.