Saturday, 16 January 2010

John Heywood’s 1904 Guide to Ramsgate and a bit of a ramble.

We have just completed the facsimile reprint of the above guide and it is coming out of the printer now, it should be in sale in my bookshop on Monday.

Those of you with an interest in Margate will be pleased to know that I am also doing its companion the guide to there.

I was very lucky to be able to borrow these from a customer of mine, these little ephemeral guides are so scarce that it isn’t a matter of money, getting hold of them is much more a matter of luck.

I suppose it would be fair to say that most of the information in the guide is already in the other publications that I produce, so you don’t actually need to rush out with your £3.99 and buy it. It is also fair to say that the printing of the original owes much to the potato school of printing so the pictures aren’t up to much either, so why? I can only speak for myself here and say that reading it just now gave me considerable pleasure, as much related to the sense of spending time in a different age as anything else.

There was one minor conundrum in the guide which was it referred to The Thanet Light Railway, this turned out to be the local tram network.

I will now ramble on a bit, so no apologies if you continue reading.

I am sorry about the lack of posts recently, truth of the matter is that I have been writing a lot recently but not for publication, I have been trying to teach myself to touch type and I am afraid the strain on the old brain meant that although I could type words this way, writing anything coherent has been another matter altogether.

I wouldn’t say that I have mastered the skill entirely but things are improving markedly, so that I can at last think to some extent about what I am saying as well as just the making my fingers go in directions that they plainly don’t want to.

There is also another problem and that is that we are in somewhat depressing times at the moment, so that it is hard to think of something cheerful to say.

The news, something that I watch at breakfast and at lunch time is mostly about the earthquake in Haiti frankly things couldn’t be much worse there, making our problems in the UK pale into insignificance.

People are starting to talk about the forthcoming general election and from what they are saying it seems be going to be decided on the least of evils principle, with the MPs expenses scandal the whole system of British politics was shown to be mostly people in it for themselves first and the benefit of the country a long way second.

Talking to various other business people that I know I am sensing a distrust in Cameron and his cuts, there is very much a sense of we are just about hanging in there at the moment and any sort of major cut in expenditure now would finish a lot of businesses off.

Many of the traditional Labour supporters don’t seem to be very keen on Brown either, there is a sense that neither man has what it would take to get us out of the mess that we are in.

There is a very real sense that our system of government has failed, mostly that there are too many levels and a huge bureaucracy that we neither need nor can afford.

There is also a sense that reforming the system would probably break the economy, by this I mean that although there are masses of unproductive government departments at every level of government that we can ill afford, the people working in them spend their wages in real businesses.

Locally I have been battling on with the councils core strategy consultation, something that has to be submitted by Monday, it really is an up hill struggle as the thing has been written in a way that people don’t normally write or speak in, so that after a short time it seems ones brain is turning to putty.

The bottom line her though is if you want to have any say in Thanet’s direction over the next fifteen years, you have to respond to it.

I have had another nonsensical reply from the council about Pleasurama, they still seem to be in a state of denial about the condition of the cliff façade and the flood risk assessment.

I have to admit that dealing with our local council leaves one with a sense of hopelessness that goes beyond the reasonable, with the foundations business and the cliff façade they just wont accept that the whole thing is a terrible mess that has cost us a million pounds. My latest information is that they haven’t gone and taken the consulting engineers and the contractor to task over the bad job, but as none of the officers want to admit that there was any mistake, they have got another firm in to patch up the bulging bit at a further cost to us taxpayers of about £15,000. as far as all the cracks in the façade that were supposed to be filled before it was painted, but weren’t so started sprouting plant life after less than a year, the seem to think that weeding it is a good enough solution.

It would be funny if it wasn’t our money, imagine having your house re pointed and painted only to discover afterwards you would need to budget to have it weeded annually.

One is reminded of some alien culture where losing face is more important than getting a workable job done, how one goes on to explain to people that their home has collapsed because no one at the council would admit to being able to tell the difference between concrete and chalk, I don’t really know.

The good news is that we should be going into a period of brighter weather so I should be able to get out and take some pictures.

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