Saturday, June 30, 2012


Figures published yesterday reveal that over £2million of taxpayers` money was handed over to Prince Charles in the last year - an increase of some 12% over the previous year.  In the same year, his personal income, principally from the Duchy of Cornwall estates and those infernal Duchy Original biscuits and stuff, rose to £20.8million, again up on the year before.

So, in these times of financial stringency, belt-tightening, barrel-scraping and all being in it together, here`s a  suggestion that might help relieve us taxpayers of the £2million we keep shelling out.   It`s clear from the figures that HRH is doing very nicely thank you with his Duchy business turning in a useful net profit, so stop giving him any more of our cash and let him rely, like the rest of us, on his own personal income.

If he doesn`t agree then we should just stop buying the Duchy Original stuff which is overpriced and not awfully wonderful anyway.

Friday, June 29, 2012


For some years now, I`ve not been at all sure about David Beckham.   In his younger playing days he was a highly talented player for Manchester United and England, with the memories beginning, I suppose, with that imperious goal he scored from inside his own half against Wimbledon all those years ago.   It still sticks in the memory.

After that, he enjoyed many triumphs at Old Trafford until being thumped in the face from a boot hurled at him by the impossible Ferguson.   He left after that and then played for Real Madrid, Los Angeles Galaxy, Milan on loan and along the way he acquired 115 caps for England for whom he was something of a talisman, a hero, a marquee player until his international career came to an end in 2009.  

As a footballer, he has an enviable record of achievement and I`ve no quarrel with that.   But it`s his antics away from the football field that have made me unsure about him.   First his marriage to the pouting Posh Spice, their £125million fortune and their property portfolio which included Beckingham Palace in the Hertfordshire heartland.   Then there has been his constant change of image, like Madonna and other fallen angels who deem it necessary to change their style so people don`t get complacent about them.   We`ve had the daft haircuts, the grotesque tattoos and more recently the facial hair; we`ve had the topless fashion shoots and more endorsements than my driving licence.

But one thing Beckham has been superb at is hobnobbing.   It seems he`s been everywhere where it has mattered - booting the ball into the crowd at the end of the Beijing Olympics; being part of the `bid group` for the London Olympics and England`s woeful World Cup bid; lighting the Olympic Torch at Lands End.   He`s hobnobbed with royalty, lords a leaping and ladies dancing. In short  he hobnobs for England.   He`s already been given an OBE for his prowess as a footballer and there is much expectation among those who know about these things, not least his dearly beloved, that he will shortly be knighted for services to hobnobbing and become Sir David, which will please the establishment figures and Lady Posh no end.

All of whom are reportedly `stunned` that the Great Britain Olympic Team manager Stuart ("Psycho") Pearce has had the temerity to leave Beckham out of the Olympic Football team.   Ah, but Stuart Pearce is different, you see.   Not for him the limelight hogging, the gong hunting, the hobnobbing.   No tattoos on him, no fancy haircuts, no image changes.   He just gets on with being a football man and has selected his team, sans Beckham, on the basis of who is best going to represent the country on the field of play. For Stuart Pearce knows full well the difference between selecting a team on merit and selecting one based on patronage and mawkish sentimentality.

And so Beckham, the once revered international footballer turned great pretender and his quest to gain yet more recognition, has hit the buffers of Pearce`s realism, for which I for one am truly thankful.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


`Awesome` is another word that is too often misused, especially in America and the less literate of our own sub-cultures.   But yesterday, awesome was the only word to describe the fortitude of Ben Parkinson as he carried the Olympic Torch through the streets of Doncaster.   Ben, of course, suffered terrible injuries when a roadside bomb exploded in Afghanistan, resulting in the loss of both legs, a broken back, hips, ribs and brain damage.

Now, there has rightly been extensive coverage of Ben`s heroic effort, but watching his latest personal triumph yesterday, a couple of things occurred to me.   The first was how much more fitting it was to have a real life local hero having the honour of carrying the torch than it was to have it carried by imported corporate placemen and Z list celebrities and how, in the 27 minutes that Ben struggled through his part of the relay yesterday, he had rescued just a little of the spirit that should be behind the Olympic ideal.

The next was that, rather than our outdated and abused honours system showering gongs on time serving bureaucrats, political inadequates and assorted `celebrities` in a quest for populist support (Blair/Ferguson anyone?) it would be far better for the country to restrict its honours to those such as Ben Parkinson who, by his heroics in Afghanistan and in his determination to overcome extreme disability, has set a truly awesome example for us all.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


It seems longer than a mere two months ago that the `opinion formers` in the media were  united in calling for the appointment of Harry Redknapp as England manager.   Well, they got Roy Hodgson.    And it doesn`t seem as long ago as 1971 when I, along with a couple of small sons and a number of mates, used to stand on the terraces of the Charrington Shed at Maidstone United`s London Road ground, where we saw Roy Hodgson playing left back.

And now he`s manager of England after a distinguished career in management that has taken him to Sweden, Italy, Switzerland and provided him with unique qualities that the overlooked Mr. Redknapp can only dream of.   And those qualities are many.  Roy Hodgson is clearly a man of the world, much travelled and greatly respected throughout the football world.   Curiously, he seems more respected in Europe than he has been at, say, Blackburn or Liverpool, but that is simply a reflection of his experience and his character.

Now, before the European Championships there was wide expectation that England would do well to reach the quarter-final stage and probably then go out on penalties.   They did not disappoint.   As a result, there are a number of issues for Roy Hodgson to address - overcoming a predilection to give the ball to the opposition, finding more quality in the final third, possibly abandoning 4-4-2 for a more inventive style of play, persisting with Manchester United players just because they play for Manchester United - and it will be instructive to see how these and other issues are faced in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

But Hodgson`s resounding success has been the reappearance of qualities in the England party that I thought had been lost forever.   Things like the whole group looking dapper in their smart suits and ties;  the whole team singing the national anthem;  a restraint in off-field activities and in particular creating a rapport with the host countries.   But the most impressive difference to previous incumbents has been the manner in which Roy Hodgson has led this quiet revolution by the manner in which he has conducted himself.   

Press conference questions have been met with considered, measured, intelligent responses and not just from the English media.   When asked questions from the Italian press, Hodgson seamlessly replied in fluent Italian, as he would in Swedish, French, German or any of the other seven languages in his repertoire.  They are just some of the things that have  brought Hodgson the respect he deserves and through his personality has come a renewed  and widespread respect for the efforts of the national team he now leads.  Why, even the  clamouring press have changed their tune.

The quiet restoration of pride in the England team through their new manager is welcome, overdue and something to build on for a more enlightened future.   Losing with dignity is sometimes much more preferable to winning ugly.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


There may be some truth in the old saying that `it`s better to travel than to arrive,` but I guess that depends on where you`re going to or coming from.   We`ve just enjoyed another week in Cornwall, this time revisiting favourite places on the north coast.  To get there, it`s a 300 mile drive from here in Kent and I have genuinely lost count of the number of times I have driven up and down the A303, the 92 mile stretch from Basingstoke until it joins the A30 just before Honiton in Devon.   The simple truth is that to go `on holiday` has always resulted in an almost unconscious automatic choice of heading south west to various destinations in Devon and Cornwall.

And so, over the years, the A303 and I have not only come to know each other rather well but also to have become friends.   I like the A303.   I like the way it shrugs off the crowded, fast paced, manic south east and within a couple of miles of leaving the M3 you are swept through the north Hampshire countryside to Andover, famous for Reg Presley and the Troggs; and I begin to feel it in my fingers and feel it in my toes that this road is once more taking me to places where I want to be.

It sweeps across the wide open spaces of Wiltshire, flirts with the north Dorset outpost of Bourton and enters very rural Somerset, where you are treated to glimpses of Cadbury Hill with its shades of Camelot, then the Somerset Levels and signposts to tempting places like Compton Pauncefoot, Stoke Trister,  KIngsbury Episcopi and even Wales, until the A303 finally enters Devon and is transformed from the strident dual carriageway it was 80 miles ago into an almost apologetic single lane carriageway to become subsumed by the A30.   If Tom Fort had not already done so I think I could write a book about this magical highway to the sun but I`ll content myself with the comfort of reconnecting with all it has to offer and all it has to say - I don`t even mind the threat of traffic hold-ups on the approach to Stonehenge or the idiosyncratic Ilminster by-pass.  Gives you time to think. And look around.

Polly Joke this time last week

And so, thanks to the A303, last week I was able to make another reconnection, this one devoid of anything man made.   Most of the joys of my life are simple.  One of them is to stand on the shoreline on a quiet Cornish beach, like Polly Joke pictured above, to feel the wind, hear the waves, breathe in the air, look out at the sky and the ocean and, for a fleeting while, feel part of it all and feel reconnected with the real world and where we all came from all those millions of years ago.   And to wonder whether, after all, the arrival might not be better than the travel.  The jury, as they say, is still out.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Sometimes it`s not easy deciding which has been the least prepossessing sight in the last few days.   With some justification, some might opt for the spectacle of Madonna displaying bits of her creaking body to a Turkish audience that, at her age, would be better left firmly covered.  It`s another act of desperation from someone who may at last have woken up to the fact that she can`t sing, can`t dance, ain`t funny and thinks her devotees will be happy to settle for fleeting glimpses of areas that have hitherto been out of bounds.

For me, I think the departure from Tottenham Hotspur of `manager` Harry Redknapp and especially his parting comments have been as revealing as the rest of his `interesting` career.   You see, once again we have had `Arry in full defensive flight, reminiscent of his departures from Bournemouth, Portsmouth (twice,) Southampton and even the steps of Southwark Crown Court.   "Not my fault.   I want to get back into football.  I`ll be bored in a few days.   I`m not too old - just look at Alex Ferguson, he`s in his seventies and still the best manager in the world........"

And so on.   The self delusion just keeps coming and although the Tottenham faithful may be concerned at this turn of events, they might reflect on the trail of destruction Redknapp had left behind at those clubs he previously `managed.`  And I do wonder whether at 65 he shouldn`t now just shuffle off back to Sandbanks, leave us all in peace and count his money rather than inflict his particular brand of skills on some other club. 

He and Ferguson are two of a kind and whilst in their day their achievements may have warranted approval, their respective personae have always made one wary and it`s surely time for Tottenham and Manchester United to move on from  the age of the dinosaur to a more enlightened future.

Anyway, enough of this madness - I`m off to Cornwall (again) tomorrow for a week to escape from a world which, day by day, seems to become yet more baffling.  F`sure.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

There`s all the fun of the fair at the Leveson Inquiry as a succession of former Prime Ministers, the current incumbent,  various `personalities` and media people provide ongoing entertainment as we look deeper into the murky relationships between the media and politicians.   Goodness knows how long it will go on for or how long it will take before the Inquiry finally issues its report.

But if the experience of the Chilcot Inquiry into the lead up to the Iraq war is anything to go by, then we`re in for a very long wait indeed.   That Inquiry began as long ago as 2009 and here we are three years on and well over a year since it stopped taking evidence and still no sign of any outcome.   My suspicion is that the conclusions were in fact reached some time ago but the process of consultation and negotiation is such that we`re still waiting.  The last we heard was that these processes would take until Summer 2012 and probably longer to complete before even the draft report could be produced.   Well, summer`s here and it`s all gone quiet over there. 

Regrading the Leveson Inquiry I have to confess to being a bit impressed with how it`s been going.   Elvis Costello`s incisive questioning of witnesses is measured and assured and Lord Leveson himself seems to have it all under control whilst displaying a kind of avuncular benevolence and all in all I have the feeling something positive might emerge from it all.

Sadly for Chilcot and his cronies, given the interminable delay, one is forced more and more to the conclusion that the longer we wait, the more they hope the whitewash has been lost in the long grass and that we will have forgotten what it was all about....or whether it ever happened at all.  But as Cameron said only yesterday, "That`s politics."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I see that the Government of the Falkland Islands has decided to hold a referendum `next year` on whether the islanders wish to remain as a British overseas territory.  It`s worth remembering, of course, that 255 British and over 600 Argentinian military personnel were killed in the conflict 30 years ago - an event being marked in both countries shortly.   The President of Argentina will be addressing the United Nations tomorrow on her country`s claims of sovereignty over the islands and the announcement for the referendum seems a well timed and clever response.

Trouble is, referendums have a chequered history and it seems that they are only held when the outcome is known beforehand.   There`s no way the Falklands one would have been announced if the government were not certain of a 98% vote in favour of staying as a British territory.   Similarly, we have so far been denied a referendum on Britain`s membership of the EU because successive governments have known the likelihood of a vote in favour of getting out of Europe.   And those referendums, like those in Ireland, where the electorate have come up with the wrong answers have simply resulted in more referendums until they come up with the right one.

But now it seems that at least some UK politicians may be softening their attitude towards the EU referendum - maybe they think they can`t get away with it any longer now that 80% of voters are apparently calling for one - but still the mixed messages keep coming.   Only yesterday a Downing Street spokesman is reported as saying that `the people don`t want a referendum` suggesting that there were other more pressing priorities occupying our minds at the moment.  Maybe he meant the European Football Championships? 

What`s needed is clarity.   Enough ducking and diving, enough fudge, it`s time for decisive action.   And the only solution is to hold a referendum now on whether to hold a referendum.  

After all, democracy rules.  OK? 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


My last post about the Round Oak at Padworth Common has brought back memories of times very much past, so beware of a self-indulgence alert!   Before my parents took over the pub, it was owned by an elderly brother and sister named Brown.   Bert Brown ran the pub and his sister was a nurse.   I never knew her first name as she was always known simply as Nurse Brown.   As well as running the pub, Bert was also something of a small scale farmer and he owned a field just up the road from the pub which was given over to barley or wheat.

As a very small boy during the latter stages of the war and just afterwards, I used to look forward to the annual event when Farmer Brown`s field was due for harvesting.   It was something of a local ritual - the old Fordson tractor would come out of mothballs and harvesting would begin.   He used to start by going around the edges of his field, meaning that the uncut crop became smaller and smaller as the tractor went round in ever decreasing circles until there was just a  small area left.

It was then that the rabbits would emerge in their dozens, having been reduced to huddling together as the tractor advanced until they worked out that it was time to make a run for it.   What they could not have known was that, by this time, quite a group of men had assembled, each armed with a double barrelled shotgun, ready to bag as many bunnies as they could.   

Those were the days when rabbit formed a sizeable chunk of the rural diet and I remember having rabbit pie, rabbit stew or just plain rabbit for some time after the harvest was safely gathered in.  It`s also a safe bet that rabbit was also the dish of choice from the Round Oak`s cordon noir menu - quite possibly the only choice.   Even today, however, I find it difficult to look a rabbit in the face.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


I don`t know what it is about me and buildings.   Maybe it happens to everyone that, over the course of a lifetime, places you have known, lived in, worked in, disappear under the relentless inevitability of change.  The picture above is a case in point and just the latest in a series of places I have known in a trail of destruction lasting over 70 years.

A few quick examples.   After the war, my first permanent boyhood home was a cottage, circa 1735, in the Waterside village of Hythe on the western shore of Southampton Water.   After we moved out, the cottage was demolished and for some years the site formed part of the test facility for Sir Christopher Cockerill`s hovercraft development.   It`s now a small residential close named Sir Christopher Court.

After we left Hythe, my parents decided to enter the `licensed trade` - the pub business -  and they learnt the trade in a big South London pub, the Dover Patrol, at Kidbrooke.   It`s now a small residential close named, err...The Dover Patrol.   We then moved to an Off Licence in Engleheart Road, Catford - not one of south London`s more agreeable areas - and I recall coughing my way through the London Smog of 1953 and watching the Coronation and the Matthews Final on a small black and white television with a magnifying glass stuck on the front.   What was the site of the Off Licence has been a small residential development for years now.

Work wise I have occupied offices too that are now given over to residential development and the latest in this saga of demolition, conversion and development is the pub shown in the picture above.   It`s in the hamlet of Padworth Common right on the Hampshire/Berkshire border and it`s where my licensed trade parents made their final move, keeping the pub for some years before finally retiring.   As you can see, it`s now boarded up, on the market and, surprise surprise, has planning permission to be converted to residential use.

My parents were happy there.   The pub did pretty well and I recall many an evening in the convivial company of local regular customers who were also customers of my grandparents` bakery just up the road and my aunt`s village shop.   So I have many happy memories of Padworth Common and my family`s businesses there and it`s more than a shame that the Round Oak has become the latest in the series of buildings to suffer from the dead hand of my occupancy.

For the Round Oak, the song may have ended, but the melody lingers on.

Friday, June 08, 2012


It`s an odd feeling for England to be going into a major international football tournament without the usual expectations.   Those have sometimes in the past taken the form of an aggressively rampant assumption that England will win it just because we`re, well, England.   Others assume that, because we`re England, we`ll face either the accustomed early exit or one a little later on by going out on penalties - a kind of default withdrawal.

Under former England management my own hopes, rather than expectations, sometimes took the unpatriotic form of wishing for dismal failure if for no other reason than I thought the pampered millionaires strutting the football field deserved the nation`s unbridled disdain.   So, have things changed now we have the worldly, urbane Roy Hodgson in the hot-seat?   

Well, we still have the pampered millionaires - the unfathomable Rooney, selected despite being banned for the first two games;  the forthright John Terry of whom much is alleged; and the perennial overstatement that is Ashley Cole.   The squad has been beset with injuries and unfortunate events such as Jermaine Defoe`s family bereavement and Rio Ferdinand`s surprise omission for `football reasons.`   So maybe on this occasion any failure will not be seen as dismal so much as something expected, forgiven even, in the circumstances.

And this leads me to the notion that the overriding attitude among England football followers might on this occasion be something approaching indifference.   Shoulders may be shrugged, lessons may be learned and moving on at the end of the day may be a cliché whose time has come; unless that indifference reaches a tipping point and becomes total disinterest, which has its attractions.   Even so, I`m reminded that Denmark and Greece both won the European Championships despite not being given any chance by bookies, pundits and assorted `football men.`   

So who knows?   Perhaps, just perhaps, the indifference surrounding Roy Hodgson and his charges might just work in their favour, see them grab an unlikely victory from the jaws of predicted defeat and end up winning the thing. At which point, all the strident, rampant, jingoism will doubtless return to haunt us once more and so it may be as well to hope that expectations remain small and become realised.   That`ll do nicely.

Thursday, June 07, 2012


News from Oxfordshire about the Olympic Torch Relay is disturbing.   Not content with providing some obscure American warbler by the bizarre name of with the honour of being a guest torch-bearer on a stint in Taunton, an even greater tarnishing of the flame has emerged from Oxford.

Residents and community leaders have criticised plans by Coca~Cola to fly over 22  even more obscure Americans to carry the torch in Oxfordshire, in preference to local people who had been nominated for the `honour` to recognise the contributions they have made to their communities.   Coca~Cola are, of course, one of the main sponsors for the Olympics and as such have been allocated 1350 torch-bearer `places` with over 100 of them coming from overseas.

This episode seems to sum up much of what the Olympics is about these days - with multi-national companies turning it into a vast marketing and advertising campaign, getting further and further away from the Olympic ideal and upsetting genuinely disappointed local people along the way.   In a way it doesn`t surprise me as it seems to go along with all the other Olympic absurdities - the VIP treatment, the freebies, the fawning to `leaders` in politics and sports governing bodies, inflated ticket prices, the crass `merchandising` and all the rest.

Maybe it would be a good idea to scrap the Torch Relay tokenism altogether.   I see it`s due to pass about five miles from where I live before long, in a curious arrangement whereby it appears out of nowhere at one end of a nearby village from where a `relay` of three torch-bearers will take it 800 yards down the road before it is bussed off to its next venue which might be Sevenoaks or Guildford.   By such arrangements, the incentive to go and see it is lost, along with any significance it might have had and this, together with the Oxford and Taunton examples, tarnish and diminish still further any sense there might have been that the Torch Relay matters.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012


Strange how what started off as a weekend when I was determined to avoid bunting and frolics at all costs ended up by leaving me with an odd sense of gratification following the Queen`s Jubilee celebrations.   Now being just as curmudgeonly as the Duke of Edinburgh, I will not drift into, or get caught up in, the patriotic outpourings witnessed over the past few days;   but I confess to being genuinely impressed by Her Majesty who, at 86, has shown dignity, fortitude and determination in coming through a strenuous weekend of appalling weather, endless events and functions and the concern for her husband, taken to hospital with a bladder infection.   I suspect she could do with a nice cup of tea and a sit down.

But it all got me recalling my own experiences with royalty;   in all my nearly 73 years, there have been four, not one of which could  in any way be described as memorable.   The first was in 1953 when, as a callow youth of about 12, we were marched from school to occupy a roadside kerb past which our newly crowned monarch was due to progress  as part of her nationwide whistle stop tour of the country.   I vividly recall the moment when the royal car swept past and the way in which Prince Philip`s eyes seemed to mark me out and fix me with a knowing gaze.   I swear I could see him muttering, "Look, there`s young Snopper."

My next encounter was many years later when, as a national serviceman, I was part of the  regimental guard for the visit by the Duke of Gloucester to our headquarters in Germany.   The sun blazed down as we went through our choreographed sword drill in our best blues and white webbing, only for the Duke to completely ignore me, clearly just having had a good time in the officers` mess.

About 25 years ago I was invited, along with Mrs. Snopper, to attend a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace, an invitation I respectfully declined with as much grace as I could muster, for the simple reason that I really didn`t want to go.  I just didn`t fancy all the dressing up and the formality of it all.   By this time, unsurprisingly, my reputation among royal circles was in sharp decline.

And lastly, about ten years ago I was chairman of the Friends of a local hospice when the Earl of Wessex and the beguiling Sophie came to officially open a big extension project.   Now given my reputation, I thought it best to resign the chairmanship just before the royal visit, which enables me to keep in the shadows, despite shaking the royal hand.

So there we are. A series of narrow squeaks, near misses and lost opportunities and at the end of it all I wonder who is left the most disappointed.   I think I know the answer.   And it`s not me.

Sunday, June 03, 2012


Many years ago, in yet another of my former lives, I was forcibly but mercifully fleetingly conscripted into the world of twinning.   It`s a device by which communities in one country can develop links with those in others and I`ve often wondered at the motives behind such ventures.   I`m sure some are entirely genuine - fostering ties that encourage mutual understanding and all that - but I also wonder about the cost in time, effort and money for cash strapped local councils who are normally behind the funding of these twinning arrangements. 

My own experience of the twinning business is admittedly sparse but I discovered enough to understand that exchange visits can involve lots of travel, a hefty bill and a degree of anxiety as one blunders into foreign parts, struggles with language, customs, gastronomic uncertainty and diplomatic guesswork.   And this is going on all over the place, as witnessed for example by the fact that the charming Somerset town of Wincanton is twinned seriously with somewhere in Germany and another in France.  (See picture above.)

But look closely and you will see that Wincanton is also twinned with Ankh-Morpork, an entirely fictional place featured in Terry Pratchett`s Discworld novels.  Now I would guess that if Wincanton is known for anything it might be its racecourse and the name on those lorries you see doing their articulated thing up and down the highways of the land, even though their head office is in Chippenham in Wiltshire.   But I suggest that Wincanton may have stumbled upon the solution to the question of how to get involved in twinning without it costing anything and without actually having to do very much.  It is, after all, the only place in the country twinned with somewhere that doesn`t actually exist

It`s a clever, bold initiative and one of which the good folk of Wincanton should be proud as they lead the country out of the misty and uncertain world of formalised twinning.  And Wincanton has done its best to take the Ankh-Morpork twinning seriously - you can buy Discworld sausages in the local butchers and there`s a shop in the High Street, the Discworld Emporium, which claims to be `the official Ankh-Morpork Consulate.`  And some of the streets in a new housing development have been named from Ankh-Morpork in the Discworld series - Peach Pie Street, Treacle Mine Road and so on .   

There are obvious candidates to extend the policy of twinning with fictional locations - Milton Keynes, for example, might sit happily alongside Never-Never-land.   Closer to home, the sanitised, neatly choreographed community of Kings HIll here in deepest Kent might comfortably exchange with Stepford, whose respective wives would surely have much in common.   And here in Dibley we might welcome a tie-up with Camberwick Green....or even the Land of Nod.   With twinning having peaked in Wincanton, surely the rest of the world will follow its lead.   Anyone for Wonderland?

Friday, June 01, 2012


There`s a lot going on about the press right now especially with the Leveson Inquiry into press intrusion, phone hacking and other alleged dark journalistic arts and where Elvis Costello continues to interrogate a seemingly endless succession of assorted celebrities, personalities, politicians, alleged victims, scamps and rascals.   That one will obviously run and run.

But there`s also much to report in the press, for the world seems beset with real issues that quite rightly command the attention and grab the headlines - the Eurozone, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, the Jubilee, the Olympics and so on.   And it`s against this background that I look forward each Friday to the publication of our own local `newspaper.`  And it truly is an event that makes me feel safe and secure in our little enclave, for when I read the headlines, then all the troubles of the world melt away and are replaced by the comforting assertion that none of those things concern, trouble or matter to the editor of our local paper.

So, today not a word about any of that.   Instead, we have the front page banner headline and a full page spread telling us that after a five year struggle and paying out £10,000 in the process, the owner of a local pizza shop has finally been allowed to open for business.   It seems the local councils have been ganging up on him over problems of parking, noise and smells and other objections which have now finally been overcome.   My, what a titanic effort it must have been to fend off the slings and arrows of outrageous officialdom and come out victorious at the end of it all.   So congratulations to Mr. Pizza and I hope his business thrives as it deserves to do.

One day I guess the huge problems of the wider world might impact on our insular environment here in our Kentish backwater but until that happens then we`ll keep calm and carry on dancing in the streets in celebration that `PIZZA SHOP OPENS AFTER FIVE YEAR WAIT.`