Monday, 23 July 2012


THERE IS A FACEBOOK PAGE called 'Wisbech Town Wisbech'. It appears to be moderated by Eastern Europeans, mostly Lithuanians, I think. From what I can see, most of the posts are adverts for (possibly) dodgy tobacco, minibus trips to and from 'the old country', and accommodation. Not a shining light in the quest for better understanding and integration perhaps, but harmless enough. In the last few days, there has been a thread running which started with this post. (I have blocked out the names and the obscenities - the matter has now been referred to the police)

From this inspired and thoughtful comment on modern life, there then followed a succession of over ninety posts. Some were from articulate and puzzled migrants, whose spelling and command of English was somewhat better than that of their assailants. The poisonous responses continued.

A woman who had visited Wisbech recently weighed into the conversation, agreeing that some of the behaviour of some migrants left a lot to be desired, but revealing that she had been embarrassed and shocked by the language and attitude of some very obviously 'local' people during her visit. As this woman was obviously from the far-east, this then provoked another descent into the gutter.

There are many long and complex issues buried beneath the hate and obscenity of these Facebook posts. YES, it does seem virtually impossible to have a sensible debate about migration without the Race Card being flourished at the earliest opportunity by the ragged remnants of the professional left wing. YES, we are overcrowded, and there is intense pressure placed on our Public Services by migration, mainly from the EU. However, NO amount of frustration can justify this barely literate spew of hate and prejudice.

I close with this personal observation. I do volunteer work at the local drop-in centre, teaching English. Every Thursday night, without fail, we have a class of 20-odd men and women from all over Europe. In no particular order, we see Poles, Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians, Hungarians, Slovaks, Bulgarians…and some I have probably missed. Almost inevitably, they have worked a long day somewhere at some repetitive, poorly paid job. They drag themselves in to the language class to spend the next two hours grappling cheerfully with a complex and puzzling language. At the end, they are all ridiculously grateful and polite, but then they go home, usually to shared accommodation, sometimes two or three to a room. As I said to my colleague last week, "What on earth can things be like 'at home' if their lifestyle here is preferable…?" 

POSTSCRIPT - some common sense on migration issues from one of our local politicians.(and never mind the greengrocers' apostrophe - he talks sense!)

Thursday, 12 July 2012

I have amazing news, Wisbechians. After a carefully prepared bid, and extensive lobbying in the corridors and urinals of power, Wisbech Community Forum has secured finance to produce the blockbuster movie which the residents of Fenland have been salivating over for many years. Thanks to a grant from The Fenland Film Development Foundation, we start shooting in August. We have hired a stellar cast, and this should be the film which finally puts Wisbech in its rightful place.

Intrepid, scandal-busting local journalist Jack Elthansafety (Kevin Whately) has worked for six weeks to expose a cash-for-silence scandal which could bring down several public figures. After plying ex-mayor Jon Framer(Tony Robinson) with pina coladas, Elthansafety believes he has the scoop of a lifetime. Local crime-busting police chief Inspector Sizzle (Christian Bale) needs only one more piece of evidence from Elthansafety before he will order dawn raids on exclusive addresses the length and breadth of Woodcote Park.

Jack Elthansafety, Jon Framer, Inspector Sizzle

Then, Elthansafety fails to show up for work at the local media hub, The Gloathouse. A press conference convened for that morning breaks up in disarray. Stern-face council executive Arthur Milton (Alan Rickman) issues a statement, but he is interrupted from the floor by celebrity campaigner Vanessa Garrod (Dame Maggie Smith). She claims that Elthansafety has been assassinated by a sinister cabal of kebab shop owners, liberal doctors and members of Greenpeace For Gay Marriage.

Arthur Milton, Vanessa Garrod

Meanwhile, plucky blonde councillor and every kid's buddy, Sarah Hoyle (Kate Winslet) believes that there are dirty deeds afoot. She confides in her best friend, burly libertarian activist Stan Turner (Ray Winstone), but as she leaves his executive cafe and eatery, she is unaware of the sinister figure lurking on the corner. As Sam heads back to her illegally parked Mondeo, she fails to notice local gunman Terry Mitchell (Sir Anthony Hopkins) sidling into the cafe and ordering a Raspberry Tea with a slice of gluten-free beetroot cake.

Sarah Hoyle, Stan Turner, Terry Mitchell

As Sarah slides her Mondeo into the luxury garage beneath her Waterlees penthouse, she is aware of a gaunt figure having a pee against the wall. Shaking himself off, he approaches her. It is the legendary Bob The Tramp (Sir Ian McKellen). He shocks her with the revelation, "I know who done it, missus - it was Molly that told me - she came to me in the middle of the night.." He describes in precise detail how Molly (Miriam Margolyes)) appeared to him as a phantom, and told him all the secrets of PE13.

Bob The Tramp, Molly Watkins

What happens next… Has Eltheansafety been silenced by his corporate enemies? Have they gone one step too far in their desperate quest for global power? Has Bob been drinking too much lighter fuel? The film opens at The Luxe cinema, Alexandra Road, Wisbech on September 17th (corporate guests, sponsors, and WTC members only) For the rest of you suckers, you will have to wait until the remaindered DVD appears at a LIDL near you.


Saturday, 7 July 2012

ANOTHER JULY SATURDAY. Another Rose Fair parade. The rain held off for most of the day, and there were some lovely people out and about. I only saw the afternoon parade, and was fairly underwhelmed by the floats, to be honest. So much hard work, so much enthusiasm, but so little impact. Isn't it time for a radical rethink? Shouldn't those with the best interest of Wisbech at heart sit down and see what new ideas can be added to the tried and trusted successes of the past? I have lived in Wisbech for a quarter of a century, so I suppose I am still considered an incomer, but I despair of the small 'c' conservatism of so many of the local movers and shakers, Criticism, however benign and constructive, provokes an instant 'flinch' reflex, a retreat behind safe defences, and a putting-up of barricades. Expect noisy backslapping and mutual hugging from the usual suspects next week. I saw little on the floats to interest me as a photographer, but there were some very photogenic folk around this afternoon .....  

WITH THE EXCEPTION OF OUR LOVELY AND WIDELY ADMIRED COUNCILLOR, I have no idea who any of you are. HOWEVER, if you object to your photo appearing in this blog, then contact me via 'comments', and I will remove it. I have refrained from any comments or descriptions of these photos, but I have to say, if there IS a God, if there IS a greater wisdom somewhere out there, a being who creates only good things, then I can only offer as evidence the final photograph.