Tuesday, 28 February 2012

INTERESTING NEWS FROM SPALDING - IT'S NOT JUST US, THEN. It seems that some Spalding residents are feeling the same way as some people in Wisbech.

THE DIFFERENCE SEEMS TO BE that the Spalding local press are giving some column space to their readers' concerns. To be fair, it is a very tricky path to negotiate. It is almost impossible in Britain to have a rational debate about immigration. The 'race cards' are stacked up on every available shelf, and will come clattering down on anyone unwise enough to say, "Can't we just at least have a discussion about this ..?"

Here is the link to the actual website:


Monday, 27 February 2012

WELL, HERE GOES. I set up the survey, and so here are the first results, warts and all. I have recognised the shortcomings of the format, and issue the following caveat.

THE GRAPHICS BELOW ARE  BASED ON EXCEL FILES, informed by the survey data.

THERE WERE MANY COMMENTS posted for each question. I have pasted most of these into separate Word documents. Those for Question 1 can be found below. I have not edited grammar or spelling, but I have removed comments which some people might have found offensive.YOU NEED TO CLICK ON THE 'MY DOCUMENTS' FOLDER, and you should be able to read the .doc file.


AND QUESTION 2 - same reservations apply as for previous question ....

COMMENTS HERE : Click on the 'My Documents' folder, as before.


CALL ME A SAD OLD GIT IF YOU MUST ......... (pausing for the inevitable chorus) but I am interested in bits of the past which are still with us, but not obviously so. For example, later in the week, we are going to explore parts of the old canal route, in search of half-buried remains of hardware and ironwork. For a few months now, I have been searching for one of these:

It is, as everyone will recognise, a 1940 spigot mortar emplacement. These were put up all over England, but particularly in places where the jackboots of the Nazi hordes were hourly expected to be stamping their way along the cobbles. A mortar would have been slotted onto the central pin, and a crew of highly trained Corporal Joneses and Private Frasers would be able to rain down high explosive on the advancing oppressors. The Archaeology Data Service shows that there was one of these somewhere near Wisbch Rugby Club's clubhouse. I searched, but found nothing. Then, after some kindly advice from the club chairman, I found it.

PUZZLED, I CONSULTED THE RESIDENT BATTLEFIELD ARCHAEOLOGIST, Young Pickwick. He informed me that where appropriate, these emplacements would have been built in a pit, and that the pit would have been filled in after the war. He expected that if someone were to dig down and around the top metal plate, they would find the bulk of the concrete support column. Who says University education is a waste of time?

Sunday, 26 February 2012

THE SURVEY HAS NOW CLOSED. Many thanks to all those who took time to make their views known. The results will be published on this blog as soon as they have been analysed.

Friday, 24 February 2012

IN WHICH MR PICKWICK LEARNS IT IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE TO BE TOO MUCH OF A SMART-ARSE. While not quite repeating the nation-wide panic which Orson Welles' famous radio broadcast of 'The War Of The Worlds' engendered in 1938, my feeble satire has convinced some people that Wisbech is, indeed closed for business. Despite the fact that one of the photos clearly shows an Abbey National branch which we haven't had since Adam was a young lad, some people have cancelled their shopping trip to Wisbech tomorrow. 

NO, EVERYTHING THAT WAS OPEN IS STILL OPEN. You can still buy a pair of 58 inch waist elasticated slacks at Evisons, a bag of Brancaster mussels from Mrs Finnis, a mouth-watering haslet from Mr Williams at Franks, and so on and so on at all the brilliant shops which Wisbech still has.

FOR THE CURIOUS, the photos come from May 2010, on the eve of the riot that never was, when local shopkeepers took fright at the prospect of a battle between the National Front and gangs of Travellers, over the Tony Martin issue.

WHILE YOU ARE IN TOWN, call in at the excellent Number 10 cafe and buy tickets for this late (or early) panto. It looks like another example of one of the many excellent things that go on around the town, despite the moaning and negativity. Rumours abound that the show-stopping final to Act III features Steve Tierney singing his version of the Bob Hope classic, 'Fangs For The Memory'. Let us all hope that it is not merely a rumour!

AHEAD OF TONIGHT'S TOWN MEETING, councillors and business leaders were too distressed to comment after the sudden collapse of most of the established shops in the town centre.

One long established retailer, who refused to be named, but described himself as 'Horrified Of The High Street', said, "That's it - we can't take any more - I'm setting up in a layby on the A17 - it's a lovely location not far from Kelly's Big Baps."

"This wouldn't have happened if we still had the railway and the canal," said one disillusioned retailer. "We told the council that this would happen, but they just wouldn't listen."

Councillor Jeremy Smirks-Widely, who chairs the local Planning Committee, said."It's all too easy to be negative at times like this. What people have to remember is that times change. We are a dynamic community, and I see a bright future for the town centre.

Councillor Smirks-Widely added, "My desk is already covered with applications from viable businesses wanting to take over these vacant premises." Under a Freedom Of Information request, it was later revealed that these included submissions from an Albanian dating agency, seven bookmakers, a firm based in Colombia selling hydroponic equipment and leather goods retailer called 'Sleaze 'n' Tease.

APOLOGIES TO ANYONE WHO HAS TRIED TO ACCESS THE SURVEY THIS MORNING (FRIDAY)- I closed it for a couple of hours to check on some technical issues. It should be available again now.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

IN WHICH YOUR INTREPID BLOGGER revisits the North Norfolk coast in the company of an Archaeology M.A., enjoys a Victorian lunch, addresses a board meeting of the international Media Corporation, Wisbech...Oh Dear PLC, then is humbled by a conversation with people from seven different countries.

Let no-one rubbish the value of education for its own sake in my presence. I may not have the strength of olden times, but I can still deliver a fairly savage kick to the balls (Gender politicians - please substitute an anatomical region of your choice) I went for a day out with my third son 'up past Hunny'. Avoiding about 700 cranky, glaring, self-righteous RSPB zealots at Titchwell, we retreated to Thornham Marshes, where I trailed in the lad's wake, being educated by the minute on subjects as varied as migrating waders, Roman seafaring, shellfish consumption in 18th century East Anglia, and the true story of Holme's 'Seahenge' To the depths of hell with modern history teaching. This bloke ACTUALLY KNOWS STUFF

I am sure that eating whitebait is illegal. It is too deep-fried, too delicious, too much like infanticide (all those innocent baby fish) too crunchy and too eco-unfriendly. That actually makes it taste even better. To the eco-warriors and sustainability freaks, I offer the charitable thought that I hope you choke on your lentils and ethically-sourced soya mince..
AND THEN - a quick burst down the coast road to a select venue, where the executive board of Wisbech...Oh Dear were assembled for their quarterly meeting.

I tried, but I tried in vain. You will notice the various admins seated around the table, and responding to my exhortations. "WOD - please try to stop referring to middle-aged ladies breaking silent wind on the X1 in the morning - it is unedifying." "HJ - Your obsession with romantic nights with plump MILFS at Mendis is doing nothing to help rejuvenate Wisbech Town Centre, and S M - your jokes are testing the patience of all but the most tolerant of our readers.

YOUR BLOGGER DECIDED TO PUT HIS EXPERIENCE WHERE HIS MOUTH WAS and offer to help out with some English teaching at The Rosmini Centre. I spent a couple of hours in the company of a group of really lovely people. This sounds like the lead-in to a bad joke, but here goes..."There was this Estonian, this Greek, this Lithuanian, this Bulgarian, this Portuguese, this Vietnamese.." And I am not making this up. Warmth, enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn and integrate. Only a handful of people, granted, but let's take a deep breath before we let fly with torrents of rage against migrants.

TOMORROW I CLOSE THE SURVEY, and I expect that the results will please no-one, and that your blogger will be skating on thin ice (Very unsubtle link to picture, above)

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

DOES ANYONE READ ‘THE PICKWICK PAPERS’ THESE DAYS? For those not in the know, it was the first novel published by Charles Dickens, and told the tale of a kind and wealthy old gentleman who, with some friends, decided to ‘extend his researches into the quaint and curious phenomena of life’ I was forced to read it at school, and I have remained fond of it ever since. It is not side-splittingly funny by modern standards, but is a kind of ‘Last Of The Summer Wine’ set in the 1820s.

It occurred to me that I have many similarities with Samuel Pickwick. I hope I am kind, and I am certainly an old gentleman, and I do try to extend my researches into the quaint and curious phenomena of life – in Wisbech.  In the original book, each chapter was headed with a teasing summary of what lay ahead, something along the lines of, ‘In which our hero discovers a disagreeable truth, is reunited with a relative, and finds that his habits are disagreeable to one he admires.’

If I were in Pickwickian mode, I would preface today’s chapter as follows. “In which a kindly gentleman receives an early visit from a nationally – known figure bearing a rejected letter, is contacted by a researcher from a publicly-funded broadcaster, then after making a heartfelt apology to one he has wronged, hears an astonishing proposal.” Certainly wordy enough for Dickens, but all true. I will reveal some, but not all. My nationally known early visitor was a lady who has had several brushes with the law – as in Civil Courts Of, not the local beak. She is a campaigner on moral issues, and many years ago, took on the might of the medical profession over contraception, parental rights and patient confidentiality. She had sent a letter to the local paper, quite unprompted by any debate this blog might have started, and was frustrated that they had chosen not to print it. She brought it to Pickwick Towers in the hope that I might be able to give it some exposure. I will publish her letter in full at the weekend, when I publish the results of the survey.

Regarding my apology, I will not go into details, because that would compound the felony. Suffice to say, the offended party has graciously accepted my apology, and I will be more thoughtful in future when playing around with Photoshop. The call from the publicly-funded broadcaster, and the astonishing proposal will have to wait for another day.

I have been reminded, quite forcefully, that the only people who fill in the survey are bigoted activists and people with an axe to grind, and anyway, it is flawed because the filtering which is meant to prevent multiple replies can be circumvented....and on, and on.....and, probably, on. I will attach the largest possible Health Warning to the survey results when they are available, and will wriggle, squirm and grovel on demand. But many of you have chosen to fill in the survey, and I will publish the results. People can draw whatever conclusions they choose to. One mischievous thought; cries of “not statistically viable..”, “unrepresentative...” do not sit too easily with examination of the turnout in various wards in local elections. An unworthy thought..? Absolutely, and I withdraw it unconditionally. Ooops, the delete key seems to have stuck.



Monday, 20 February 2012

THERE HAS BEEN AN AMAZING RESPONSE TO THE SURVEY! WHEN I LAST CHECKED, THERE WERE OVER 100 REPLIES! I know it's still not scientific, but the poll software prevents people from doing multiple replies, so when I close the survey at the weekend, and start to collate the findings, it will mean there is a genuine body of local opinion to take to those who are setting themselves up to solve 'The Wisbech Problem'. I have a genuine fear that any solutions which these people come up with will be guided strictly along party political lines, and tempered by the overiding interests of local businesses and landlords. PLEASE, PLEASE, SOMEONE PROVE ME WRONG!
I was mildly diverted by the fact that after The Wizzy Standard had produced their lavish 'souvenir pull-out' featuring all that was awesome about Wisbech, their bitter rival The Fenland Citizen countered with a front page splash featuring their own group of high powered troubleshooters. I really don't know any of the worthies featured on the photo, but couldn't resist bringing in a couple of other notable problem-solvers who have, between them, several lifetimes of experience at sorting out dilemmas.

I WAS ALSO OVERJOYED TO HEAR that the official Opposition in these parts, the Lib Dems, were fully committed to restoring the Wisbech-March rail link, with fully functional passenger services. Bearing in mind the millions and millions of private finance, erm, sorry, YOUR money, that this would take, I am backing a twice daily Space Shuttle service from The Horsefair to Mars and, in response to several calls from my OAP compatriots, I am pleased to announce that your bus pass WILL be honoured on this route.

WORK IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN SHORTLY ON THE LAUNCHPAD, once a few little local difficulties have been resolved with the taxi-drivers. I will close with a little selection of pictures of some of the nicer parts of Wizbekistan, somewhat romanticised with the help of Photoshop, but still Wisbech, nonetheless. Bon Nuit.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

THIS SURVEY IS NOT PARTICULARLY SCIENTIFIC, BUT I WILL BE INTERESTED TO SEE HOW PEOPLE RESPOND - please click on the link below, and it will open as a pop-up.

Friday, 17 February 2012

FOLLOWING ON FROM MY RAMBLINGS YESTERDAY I spent an interesting hour on the web today, prompted by this.

The sign is in the window of what used to be M&Co in the High Street. I followed up the landline 'phone number, and discovered that it belongs to a Market research company in Kent.

Nothing wrong with that of course, but it does tend to back up my feeling that a large part of Wisbech town centre is owned by people 'out-of-town', who may have little or no connection with Wisbech.Further research led me to the Estates Gazette website, which revealed the kind of rents which town centre shopkeepers can be expected to pay.

I did email the address on the poster, and was pleasantly surprised to hear back almost immediately from a gentleman who said, yes, the property was owned by his company, Merlin Research Ltd.

ONE OF THIS MORNING'S HEADLINES was the depressing news that town centre chain stores are closing shops around the UK at an alarming rate. It seems that there are three main reasons for this:
  • Our continuing love affair with out-of-town retail parks and the free parking they offer
  • Our ever-growing use of the internet
  • Rents which many retailers simply cannot afford to pay
SO, IF ANYONE IS PREPARED TO OPEN UP A SHOP IN WISBECH, be they migrants or blue-blooded sons and daughters of the Fens, provided they are keeping things legal and financing the business by hard work and initiative - ALL THE VERY BEST OF LUCK TO THEM!

Thursday, 16 February 2012


One of the mantras from those who take a totally negative view of the presence of migrants in Wisbech goes something like, ”They come over here, take over our shops, ruin our town ....” At first glance here does seem to be a disproportionate number of foreign-run shops, whether or not you accept the claim that over 30% of the town’s population are migrants.

Let’s have a closer look at this; firstly, it is highly unlikely that the people managing these shops have bought them. They will be leasing them from, I would argue, owners who, if not local, are at least UK nationals. But who are the owners? That information is, technically in the public domain, but can only be extracted from the Land Registry for a fee. If there is anyone out there who has a contract with the Land Registry, and could do a few ‘pro bono’ searches for me, then I would be extremely grateful.

Also remember that shops selling alcohol need to have a license to do so. Before 2003, licenses were granted by magistrates, but since then, it has been up to the local Council to grant alcohol licenses, and Fenland seems to have a very generous view of how much alcohol needs to be sold in Wisbech  town centre. There have been recent cases where they have ignored the advice of the police, and granted or extended licenses.

"We don’t need another car-wash/24/7 boozer...” is the cry. Well, the one thing about commerce is that it is totally blind. If shops and businesses are trading well, then they will stay open. If it is losing money, then it will close. Whether or not these various migrant-centred businesses are all operating within the law, then that is another question. Older readers will remember a friendly, locally run TOTAL service station on Chapel Road. It closed years ago, stood empty for ages, and is now a hand car-wash, which appears to be doing well enough. Is anyone official asking the right questions there?
  • Are the blokes who work there in all weathers legal migrants?
  • Are they being paid the minimum wage?
  • Are the managers complying with tough waste-disposal and anti-pollution regulations?

I am a great supporter of local blogs and websites, and direct you to another one today. It seems to be the sister page of ‘Wisbech....Oh Dear’, but even with my basic Lithuanian, it does seem to have a number of adverts advertising cheap rolling tobacco. Is all this legal, or might it be brought in on some of the many minibus runs also profusely advertised on the page? I couldn’t possibly comment!

TO FINISH FOR THIS EVENING I do have some genuinely cheerful news. With a little help from The Fenland Citizen, I can report that a crack team of troubleshooters and experts has been assembled to help guide Wisbech out of the doldrums towards a bright shining future. Bon Nuit, mes enfants....


Monday, 13 February 2012

THIS CERTAINLY AIN'T THE ONLY BLOG IN TOWN .....  There are two that I would certainly want to bring to your attention as being worth a read. In no particular order, one by a local teacher, who always has something powerful to say - not necessarily about Wisbech, but always thought-provoking.

And then, something completely different from a lady who is away at university at present, but is something of a rarity - a Wisbech youngster who writes beautifully - reflective and full of insight.

OFF NOW TO FURTHER BOOST WALMART PROFITS - I see that our membership has actually reached double figures, so I am going to treat myself to my favourite tipple- Buckfast & Creme de Menthe Cocktail, with a dash of Lea and Perrins - by way of congratulations. Before I go, just in case you thought satire was dead, I leave you with this not-so-subtle cartoon which, like most of my stuff, has been nicked from elsewhere and adapted. Bon nuit, mes enfants..

Sunday, 12 February 2012

I HAVE NOT YET FOUND THE RIGHT BUTTON to enable your comments to show on the blog page. Until I find it, I will copy and paste them, unedited, from my email feed.
‘HONEST’ commented, “I love this blog. It is so nice to see Wisbech and to remember the history of this town over the years. Personally I feel that the Dail Mail have hidden agendas as to their portrayal of this town as this as present is no different to any other town.
I for one am an advocate for bridging any divides that have arisen over the years in relation to nationalities that have moved to Great Britain. I truly hope that something positive can come out of this. Keep up the good work and making us giggle on facebook :)”

‘SOCRATES’ said,” And it customary to rely, even if you hate the commentator, especially if you've only one comment and the whole blog. It's the way to build Community ;) Yea? It's like, you don't like the guy because he's foreign, but put-up with him because he does the gutters for £20, and then you meet his three year old daughter, and student-nurse wife, and she tells you how her grandmother was shot by Stalin, and how happy she is that Estonia is now part of the EU and she could leave... (Most of this commen
t happened) and then said, “Are you related to Cambridge Scraper? You're both clearly in love with Johnny “two pencils” Elworthy.Not so keen on the Tory, myself, walnut cake or no walnut cake, what with being disabled and all that, but a bloody good effort all round - let down only by the lack of Boobies.
Could we have a post on the Tribal War with March? Or is that as touchy a subject as the Armenian Genocide to a Turk?”

'JAY TURNER' posted, “Excellent Articles, I personally think its all been blown totally out of content and the media are full of their usual c**p as regards Wisbech, migrants etc, were no different than any other town of this size, yes things could be better as it is deprived at present but hope for the future, this publicity needs to be turned towards a positive! Well done, I'd vote for you! :)

I AM NORMALLY A GREAT FAN OF OUR LOCAL PAPER, ‘The Wisbech Standard’, and more particularly of its editor, John Elworthy. He has a great track record of campaigning journalism, and in particular, he has been the scourge of what he sees as local political buffoons, skulduggery in the council chambers, and misuse of public money. With this week’s edition, however, I am reminded of the following lines from ‘Silver Blaze’, a Sherlock Holmes story.

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."
Holmes: "That was the curious incident."

In the light of the recent lurid accounts of Wisbech in Daily Mail, I would have expected TWS to take a long hard look at the town, and examine whether or not there was any substance behind the hysteria, and perhaps talk to ordinary local people about their perceptions. Instead, what did we get? Pages of bland waffle, led by Steve Barclay, MP, Alan Melton, leader of Fenland District Council, and Nick Clarke, leader of Cambs County Council. Oh, and I nearly forgot – there was a reassuring letter from Councillor Simon King, telling us that The Bramley Line was safe in his hands. Followers of John Elworthy’s Twitter feeds will know that he has been a considerable thorn in the sides of some of these gentlemen, and yet now, they are wheeled out to make comforting statements about what a wonderful place Wisbech is. Are there any conspiracy theorists out there? Contact me, please, if you have your own theories!

Readers of this blog, and followers of my posts on Twitter and Facebook will know that I have a great deal of affection for Wisbech and its eccentricities, but they will also know that I am not delusional. If it quacks, has webbed feet and paddles about in the pond, it is probably a duck. Therefore, I recognise there are serious problems in Wisbech, which actual residents of the town are well aware of. These need discussing and addressing, not submerging under a blanket of political ifs and maybes.

INCIDENTALLY, who noticed the little visual irony in the photo-montage under the masthead?  A little picture of Mrs Strudwick, Head of Thomas Clarkson, shaking hands with Mr Barclay. It was only in the last fortnight that the following sequence of events unfolded.

  • It was announced that Mrs S was going to have to apply for her own job
  • The Brooke Weston partnership says “No thanks.” to Mrs S, but they have made an appointment
  • TCCC announced as 16th worst school in the land
  • The ‘new appointment’ mysteriously disappears
  • The Grande Fromage of Brooke Weston, Sir Peter Simpson, to take over as Head

Ah well, only in Wisbech!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

JUST IN CASE I SHOULD BE ACCUSED OF LACKING FAITH in Wisbech, I would like to post, Julie Andrews-like, a few of my favourite things. Starting with Local Retail And Sales Opportunities (shops, to you). I have to state that I have not received a penny piece for these endorsements, not a sausage, let alone a slice of smoked haddock, a packet of washers, let alone a pair of XXXL Y-fronts. These emporia get a mention because they are, simply, bloody good shops. In no particular order - Discount Cycles. One of my sons, who is a Trianthlon enthusiast, actually brings his bike (which is worth more than my car) up from darkest Balham (Gateway To The South) to be tinkered with by the gentleman who runs this shop.

Just across the road, is another rarity - a proper hardware and ironmongery shop staffed by (hushed tones) people who actually know stuff about what they sell. Ironically, given the amount of incoming fire being generated at the moment by the question of our Eastern European cousins, the main man in Anglia Locksmiths seems to be from those parts, and very knowledgeable he is too. Yes, I know it doesn't open on Sundays, and some people may actually LIKE wandering the aisles of a well-known DIY chain for hours, unhindered by interruptions from staff or experts, but ....well, I'll stop there. They have lawyers.

I LOVE FOOD. I may not have the appetite I once had, but I am one of those pub bores who knows that most food simply doesn't taste as good as it used to, particularly if you only contribute to the pre-tax profits of Messrs TESCO and Walmart. There are at least two Wisbech  destinations that deserve 'National Treasure' status.  Firstly, Rout's Fish Stall on the market. I don't know how long ago in the mists of time anyone called 'Rout' ran it, but the lady who runs it now is worth a visit even if she didn't sell delicious fresh seafood. She is funny and an inveterate gossip, with an abrasive wit - so much so, that if she gets up a head of steam, I am often completely distracted, and end up with a bag of goodies far in excess of what I set out to buy. Perhaps that's the plan, but for mussels, crab and samphire in season, this stall is a complete joy.

For more blood stained and fleshy pleasures, stroll twenty yards into Franks. A brilliant, chloresterol-boosting, artery-constricting, blood-pressure spiraling old fashioned English pork butcher. Even as I write, I can hear the sinister clatter of the jackboots of the Food Nazis as they stamp along Wisbech's cobbled streets. Yes, I know we don't have any, but The Daily Mail thinks we do, so be quiet. In Franks, you can buy absolutely any part of a pig (apart from its reproductive organ and its tail) turned into a delicious meal. I am actually not certain about my caveat in brackets, but no matter. Good things of a very different kind can be found in the area's only proper music shop - Wisbech Music Centre. Guitars, amps, PAs and sheet music are the speciality, but Carmen has a lifetime's experience in the music business, and you will always get straight talking, good advice and an honest deal.

TO CONCLUDE THIS PIECE OF VIRTUAL RETAIL THERAPY I would like to take you through the doors of Wisbech's Premier Ladies' and Gentlemen's Outfitters. OK, sorry, Robert Goddard, but if I want an XXXL pair of long-johns with a button fly and a no-shrink guarantee, you are simply not going to have it, are you? And anyway, I would be too embarrassed to ask your impossibly glamorous and tanned assistants for something so sordid. Please don't sulk. When I am adding a post about where slim-but-powerfully-built, lantern-jawed, steely-eyed estate agent types go to buy their apres-ski stuff, you will be uppermost in my thoughts. I digress. EVISONS. It is an established fact that Evisons appears on every Lilian Ream photograph, and also every mezzotint and engraving of Wisbech dating back to the 15th century. So it's well established, OK..? It sells clothes that are warm comfortable, practical, hard-wearing, and possibly still made by turbaned lasses in t' mills of 'uddersfield and Stalybridge. AND BY THE WAY - those of you who are addicted to 'Desperate Midwives', or Midwives' Wives', or whatever it is called, check the closing credits. It says COSTUME AND WARDROBE PROVIDED BY MESSRS EVISONS OF WISBECH. Would I lie to you...?

 HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK...? Well, apart from the astonishing ‘Wisbech Commemorative Edition – Yours To Pull Out And Keep’ from The Wisbech Standard (of which more later) my gob was well and truly smacked by watching a video, posted on YouTube, and then linked on Facebook. 

 It is called ‘Overcome’, and would be a good enough piece of work in its own right if it had appeared on MTV, but when you consider it was made by, and featured, local young people from the migrant community, that adds an extra dimension to it, particularly in the light of recent events.

 The music is, of course, from further afield, but the final mix is pretty special. Watch and listen for yourself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxcYVXuZE3w&feature=youtu.be

Friday, 10 February 2012

DOES THIS FAIR CITY, THIS GLISTENING JEWEL IN A SEA OF MUD, THIS TEMPLATE FOR INTERNATIONAL TOLERANCE AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY have much of an online presence? Oh, my golly gosh, yes indeed it do. We should really start at the bottom here, with the proud website of Wisbech Town Council.
LOOKING FOR ALL THE WORLD IF IT HAS BEEN DESIGNED BY A FAILED GCSE STUDENT, this site links you, at the click of a mouse to the heady world of the power brokers who shape your world - if you are are fortunate enough to live under the PE13 postcode. You will be transported, in an instant to the movers and shakers who, pausing only to brush the toast crumbs from their cardigans, meet in the highly charged atmosphere of the council chamber, and totally fail to agree on anything at all. If this fails to entrance you, you could visit the wonderful world of Twitter, where there is much more entertainment to be had.
THE VERY FIRST PERSON YOU MUST FOLLOW is the wonderful and whacky campaigning editor of the Wisbech Standard - the only local newspaper worth reading, despite the fact that JE lives in his ancestral home in Suffolk, Elworthy Towers, and conducts most of his business from East Anglia's answer to Wapping - March High Street. seriously, he is a bloody good journalist, and is highly entertaining when he gets his teeth into the overfed flanks of local politicians.
Scoring 9 out of 10 on the 'I'm On Your Side And I Feel Your Pain' chart, is local Tory councillor Steve Tierney. Of all of the local politicos, he is the only one worth listening to, and despite his ill-concealed loved affair with the dafter aspects of Conservativism, he is someone who is worth following. AND he runs the best cafe in Cambridgeshire. (Don't get me started on his Coffee and Walnut Cake)

FOR BROADER AND MORE ROBUST BRUSH-STROKES you need to to visit the shark-infested waters of Facebook. There is an excellent page called 'Wisbech...Oh Dear'. It is best experienced rather than described, but will feature, on more or less a regular basis, ill-informed rants, subtle social judgments, diatribes which bear witness to the sad level of state education in Wisbech over the last 20 years, and sublimely funny social comment.

SADLY, IT APPEARS THAT OUR EASTERN EUROPEAN VISITORS  have taken the measure of our little town, and contributed to the carnage. In June 2003, the body of Dainus Kigas was found in his burnt-out van. The Lithuanian national was thought to be involved in transporting his countrymen to and from his homeland.

And then, in 2011, Tomas Acas was found guilty of the brutal murder, by stamping to death, of a young woman, Jolanta Dumciuviene. The poor soul was found under a mattress in a house in Milner Road. It seemed that she had left a husband and children to come and find a better life in England, only to meet an untimely and squalid death.

Another sad case, which attracted screaming headlines from national tabloids and broadsheets alike, was the as-yet-unsolved murder of teenager Alicja Dmitrijeva. She had been reported as missing since the late summer of 2011. At Christmastime, human remains were found by a dog walker on land owned by The Queen, near Sandringham. The headlines wanted the scene to be more or less in the Queen's back garden, but the truth is, the body was found on a very remote part of the extensive royal estate, actually near the hamlet of Anmer. It was only after very complex forensics were carried out, that the remains were identified as those of the teenager. There was much lurid speculation about her sex life, and her relationship with local 'Drug Barons', but the case still remains a mystery.