Sunday, 27 May 2012

FEW WORDS TONIGHT - just a portrait of some Wisbech folk who have been out and about during these last days of sun and fun. If anyone has been photographed here, and would rather the picture wasn't published, then get in touch, and I will remove the photo.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Streets Of Shame, and Roads of Ruin

PICKWICK WOULD LIKE TO APOLOGISE for the confusion caused by his putting a 'trailer' picture on our cousin Facebook page, Wisbech…Oh Dear. The picture showed two provocatively dressed ladies trying to drum up business at the kerbside. If this led web surfers into thinking that tonight's blog update was about vice and illicit sex on the streets of PE13, then it has to be said that the ploy was absolutely intentional, and was a cheap and shabby trick to try and drum up more traffic. Just for the record, here's the picture again, and no, it wasn't taken in Wisbech. It just demonstrates the depths to which Pickwick is prepared to sink to get more readers.
BUT NO! Tonight we look at the appalling state of some of the roads in  Wisbech. Pot - holes that will rip your tyres off. Yawning chasms that will have you queueing round the block at Kwik-Fit to have your suspension replaced. Crevasses that will send your wheel covers cartwheeling off into the bushes. Why are the roads in such a dire state? Well, I suppose it's because there is no money to repair them. No money?, you say. Well, the last time I checked on what I pay to the government for the privilege of swerving round on these hazardous tracks humorously called roads, it looked like this. Every time I put fuel in the car, most of the money goes to the government. Each year I pay nearly £200 in tax for a little piece of embossed paper which is sellotaped inside my windscreen. I realise that central government is not responsible for maintaining roads, but I believe that the government of the day writes a cheque to local authorities so that they can keep roads safe and in good repair.

I REALISE that the awful roads of Wisbech are not unique in the UK. But they are unique to me, as I live here, and expect to be supported by local authority personnel and politicians whose wages I contribute to. Here follows a little photo-essay on some of the choicer spots in this fair borough. All the pics were taken when I was on a bike-ride. And don't get me started on what some of these chasms do to cycles and cyclists. Yes, I ride on the pavement whenever possible, much to the disgust of pedestrians, but that's an argument for another day. 

A SECTION OF HIGHWAY which we can proudly call put up for comparison with anything in the Third World, is a short stretch, no more than 200 yards, between the Town Bridge and the end of Old Market. This is getting rapidly worse, while traffic can no longer go beside the river due to the flood defence work.


SOUTH BRINK AND CROMWELL ROAD have been excavated more times than The Valley Of The Kings, and there is no sign that the Highway Engineering Consultants are becoming any more adept at their trade. I am old enough to remember Steamrollers, and their diesel successors. Road repairs didn't simply consist of dumping a bit of tarmac into a hole, slapping it with the back of a shovel, and then popping off for a McDonald's somewhere. Roads used to be levelled, graded, rolled, and cambered properly. But that was then.


PART OF THE PROBLEM IS THE ENDLESS UNCO-ORDINATED AND RANDOM TRENCHES driven across the highway by a motley collection of 'Service Providers', including Telecoms, Power, Drainage, and Water, No-one seems to talk to anyone else. There is no-one with an overview. No-one seems to plan, no-one seems to be able to pull projects together. The result is the haphazard mess of humps, ditches and trenches which crop up in the most unlikely places.


 ONE OF THE GAPS IN MY EDUCATION was that I was never privileged to quaff a pint of foaming ale in that most curious of Wisbech watering holes, The Flower Pot. Friends told me it had a lurid reputation, but at least no-one had met their death by stabbing or violent assault within its walls, unlike several other venues of choice in PE13. Currently, the road outside it leave much to be desired.


MY ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE is this completely unexplained, unexplainable and unfillable crater at the top of a quiet, secluded suburban street. maybe the street name is something to do with it…? A stray cluster bomb from a passing V-Bomber, perhaps…?

BEFORE ANYONE CHIPS IN TO SUGGEST that we only have to visit the Cambs County Council Highways website and report the fault…I have been there, done that…..and got the meaningless brush-off. I reported the traffic chaos caused by the mismatched signage and road markings as drivers approach Freedom Bridge roundabout from Churchill Road. Within 48 hours, the report was annotated online as 'Case Closed', despite nothing whatsoever having been done to resolve the issue. So please, please, pretty please DO NOT point me in that direction.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

TODAY'S UPDATE is to thank everyone who has responded to my request for unwanted guitars. The Fenland Citizen and the Wisbech Standard were good enough to publish my letter, and I have spent the last few days motoring around Fenland picking up instruments from some really generous people.

I have been busy re-stringing,polishing, adjusting and repairing where necessary, and we now have enough instruments not only to run the classes at the Rosmini Centre, but to loan instruments out to youngsters so that they can practice between lessons.

I made this point in my letters to the papers, but will emphasise it again now. These lessons are open to any young person, no matter what their personal circumstances are, or where in the world they come from. All we are asking is that they are willing to learn and work hard at acquiring a valuable musical skill.

THE INSTRUMENTS WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN range from cheap, cheerful but playable guitars, to a really beautiful Brazilian Di Giorgio from the 1970s with a wonderful bookmatched back. For the uninitiated, this is where a piece of wood is split down the middle, and the two halves opened out beside each other so that the grain gives a mirror-image appearance. How lovely is this just to look at, never mind the warmth of the sound?

The gentleman who gave us this guitar also provided a real 'lump in the throat moment'. He had been a musician all his life, but as he showed me his hands, gnarled and lumpy with arthritis, he said, "I can't play it any more, but I'd be delighted if someone else could."

IF ANYONE HAS ANY FURTHER HELP TO OFFER, or wants their child to be considered for lessons, these are the contacts. The Youth Worker at the Centre is Daina Zagurskiene, and her email is

The Centre phone number is 01945 474 422