Saturday 31 July 2010

Thanet at War a 1940s Weekend Today and Tomorrow Government Acre Ramsgate

Update here are some pictures of taken there today, click on the links below for them

Sorry I am late posting about this one, I didn’t get the poster to put in the shop and have only just remembered.
The council have put it up but unfortunately the poster is scanned in so small that it is difficult to read, here is the link anyway
Once again the council have failed us very badly on the internet publicity front, although they have put up an events section on the Thanet District Council website homepage, this event doesn’t appear there, see
As for trying to find it on the council’s tourism website at well all you can say is that it is there if you can find it.
This is an area where people, blog, readers, my friends and family, seem to have trouble understanding what I am talking about. My answer to this is, ok you know that it is there and appreciate that what I assume the council’s intention here is, is to get tourists who don’t know that the event is even on to find it, start from the council’s homepage and try and find the event.
I don’t think there are any grounds here for forcing the council to publicise it on grounds of political incorrectness as I did last week with Thanet Pride either.
The pictures are all of Ramsgate bomb damage during the war, click on them to enlarge.

Friday 30 July 2010

Shop assistant promoted to road sweeper

As you see from the picture above (click on it to enlarge) the situation outside the bookshop was pretty dire, I took the picture before I swept the pavement when opened this morning at 9.30.

You would think this was something to do with poor road sweeping, but I heard the road sweeper this morning at about 7am.

What this is, is a case of domestic rubbish put out by people living in the multiple occupation buildings in this part of Ramsgate, then seagulled and in all honesty picked up usually pretty promptly by council workers, there are also sweepers working in the town centre during the day.

It is rather a case of the council putting a lot of resources into the problem but the end result not working too well.
Here in King Street the problem is made much more difficult because the pavements are literally falling apart, with lots of long term dirt engrained into to the slabs, so even just after they are swept they look pretty bad.

Thursday 29 July 2010

Pictures go up on The Great Wall of Ramsgate

Click on the link for the pictures of the pictures taken this morning I think they must have gone up late yesterday.

I suppose the thing that stands out here is that with all of the evident local talent, why are the exhibitions that are being put on in the Droit House not better.

My understanding is that the Marks and Spencer building in Margate is still council owned and empty too, so surely something better could be done to kindle some sort of interest in the arts there.

Perhaps the problem is that conventional painted pictures are not elitist enough.

Oh well who knows what their remit can be, anyway here are the rest of the pictures from this mornings walk, and some thoughts on them

I don’t like the look of the blocked drain on the cliff top above the Pleasurama site, this is just the sort of thing that has caused cliff collapses in the past.

The boule park behind Harbour Street looks to be too weedy for play, suggesting that the thing was a bit of a white elephant.

The old police station seems to be vacant, I wonder if it is council owned.

The new bit of the Granville has been scaffolded so I wonder if anything has gone wrong with the construction, it’s probably the roof again.

The stone wall at the top of Augusta Stairs is sinking again and more cracks are appearing in it.

Work is well underway on the restoration work to the Granville Marina, pity about losing the parking spaces there.

I am a bit worried about the new pictures, looking at the situation under the pavilion shelter and wonder if there is any sort of graffiti proof coating that can be applied to them.

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Thanet District Council Audit Have Your Say

This is just a reminder that there is only a week left of the period where you can question the district auditor, request documents from him and make any complaints.

The link takes you to the relevant document about this

This can be useful for several reasons, as an example of what I mean, if you used the freedom of information act to request a document and failed, you may be able to get it from the auditor who has different terms of reference and so his rules for releasing documents are different to the information commissioner.

Anyway the main point here is if you think the council didn’t perform to the best value, or if you think there is something wrong with there accounts, now is your chance to ask questions and get independent answers.

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Pleasurama Thanet District Council and The Freedom of Information Act

I have just recieved the Pleasurama development agreement, as you can see from the picture there is a lot of it, probably over 1,000 pages, so it will take me a while to peruse.

This was the first time I have used the freedom of information act, so I can’t tell if my experience was representative.

The whole process of getting this document took nearly a year, god alone knows how much of my time and the council’s it took. I hate to think about what obtaining it cost the council.

What I also found pretty horrifying was that I didn’t get an electronic file but printed documents, as did the information commissioner who tells me that they will all have to be scanned onto their system.

It is obviously that all of the documents were originally produced as electronic files and then printed out.

This makes me wonder how many forests are being cut down, as one part of our government types out documents in MS Word prints them out and posts them to another part of our government, where someone then scans them back into a computer so that they can be accessed without government officers being buried under the mounds of paper.

As far as I understand the whole document is now in the public domain, although I doubt you will find it on the council’s website and you may encounter some resistance if you ask for a copy too.

I haven’t yet decided if I should put the whole thing online or not, does anyone want me to?

Monday 26 July 2010

Photography Diving Security and Ramsgate Harbour

Today when I went for my lunchtime walk, I was accosted by the harbour security staff about taking pictures of them and their beach hut, they didn’t seem to pleased about it, this was fairly difficult as I had my children in tow.

You have to appreciate that with a couple of eight year olds in tow one has to be careful not to get into a situation where one can't look after them properly.

I have to admit that now I know that the council are paying a private security firm to engage in the pointless farce with the beach hut, my attitude is somewhat different.

This is made very much more difficult by the security guards evident lack of understanding about photography in public places, although I suppose as the majority of the harbour belongs to the council they could theoretically ban photography there.

I was really quite surprised, first I was blamed for putting the photograph in the local paper, as I am not a journalist and there hasn’t been a local paper come out since I took it this seemed a bit unlikely.

Then of putting the photograph on facebook, I pointed out that I hadn’t but that anyone could have taken a picture of them and put it on there.

I pointed out that I had taken about 1,000 photographs this weekend that I had published on the internet.

When I go out taking pictures I always use a large professional camera, there are various reasons for this, the main one being that it means people can see quite clearly that they are being photographed.

It also means that it is pretty obvious that I could be taking the pictures for publication somewhere, this means that it gives people who don’t want their photograph taken to get out of the way.

I am pretty sure that they were talking about the one on Saturday’s post see

The security guard would certainly have been aware of me taking it, particularly as I stopped to ask her what she was doing there.

I pointed out that I had taken about 1,000 photographs this weekend that I had published on the internet.

After Saturday’s post about the crazy way the council have approached the problem of people diving into the harbour from the fish quay, I have had quite a bit of response about this from councillors and some comment on the blog, so I have been looking at both the problem, possible solutions and of course the historical aspect.

One concern here is that the council doesn’t seem to have grasped that wasting money in this way just isn’t on anymore, they just don’t have it to waste.

The solution that they sought was no more effective than a sign saying “don’t Jump Here” just ludicrously more expensive. I suppose had the hut been facing in the right direction the council officer in it could have at least seen what was going on and reported to the harbour authorities or the police, although I don’t see that this could have been any more effective than a cctv camera pointing at the fish quay.

The proper solution here of course is a safe place to dive, something that Ramsgate had and was lost, all the information that I can find points to this being due to incompetence at local government level.

I have had a quick look of the history of the situation here in Ramsgate and it is rather tied up with propriety.

In pre Victorian times the people here who wanted to go in the sea stripped off and did so, the picture above is of the main sands area in 1788, I would imagine that those who wished to jumped from the harbour wall. This issue became progressively more complicated as people were forced to swim from bathing machines. Such early swimming costumes that I can find seem to be designed to prevent swimming much, and diving altogether.

During Victorian times various swimming baths were built in Ramsgate and swimming in the sea was conducted from bathing machines, modesty was for the most part preserved, the sessions were not mixed and over a period of time more practical swimming costumes developed.
The first references I have found of diving into the sea in Ramsgate were from the iron pier, construction started on this in 1879, full details of this can be found in the book I publish about the pier, see and I would imagine that this was the main place that people dived from until it was demolished in 1930.
After the First World War people’s considerations about modesty and propriety were understandably diminished and by the 1930s the bikini had appeared on Ramsgate sands, see

Diving became a popular sport in our coastal towns and most councils erected various structures to help people throw them selves in the sea in different and exiting ways, the picture shows one at Here Bay in 1936

By 1935 Ramsgate’s Marina Swimming Pool was nearing completion and had been in use for some time, as you can see the sport of diving was encouraged.

Talking to older people in the town, those who could afford it obviously used the diving board as it was better, those who couldn’t dived from the fish quay.

At some time in the 1960s or 70s, I will have to check on this, council incompetence, poor maintenance and an attitude to Ramsgate’s leisure facilities caused the pool to be closed permanently and anyone who wanted to dive had to use the fish Quay

In the early 2000s one of the Pleasurama developers that wanted to incorporate an Olympic swimming pool that was to be a gift to the town in their design, the council turned this down.

When funding was available for a new swimming pool in the town I and many others suggested that this be built on the Marina Swimming pool site.

We have a situation where we had a council actively promoting Ramsgate people taking part in this healthy and invigorating sport and now have one spending a great deal of our money trying to stop them.

It is this type of thing that alienates our youth, causes them to engage antisocial behaviour, I can certainly say that it has alienated me.
In a way I suppose it is fair to say that the harbour must be a public right of way as this relates to the time that it has been open to public access, 1894 for the east pier I think, whenever the gate was removed.

And I suppose this right must extend to diving there, although I understand that the council intends to institute a bylaw to prevent people doing so, I would imagine that this will be without any public consultation in Ramsgate.

Now what we are talking about here about here is our historical rights, walking, taking photographs, diving etc things that make living in Ramsgate enjoyable.

The most normal way for extreme political regimes to justify the removal of people’s human rights, is to say it is for their own protection, reading Orwell or Huxley may help to understand this.

It is very easy for any organisation to justify this, being alive is a risky business, the only thing that totally prevents this risk is death and some of the more extreme political regimes have taken this to its logical conclusion.

The problem to solve here is what happens when an organisation that is supposed to improve peoples lives, directed by what we call democracy reaches a point where members of that organisation, forget the organisations fundamental purpose.

It is one best described as, “knowing best” so the council that was formed to be a vessel to carryout the wishes of the people, at some point collectively evolves to a point where it decides that it knows better than the people.

I am sorry if I have rambled along a bit in this post, lots of interruptions and the problem that I don’t really know the solution are part of the problem here, I have tried tackling various cabinet members about this issue, I think the problem here is that they misinterpret my intentions towards the council.

For some reason that I don’t quite follow they seem to think that I am both hostile to them and the council in general,

This is very difficult for me as the situation is much more one is that as a resident of this country, it says on the packet democracy and I want what it says on the packet.

Open government, proper representation of the people, proper consultation, proper accountability, decisions made democratically at open meetings, not rubber stamping decisions made behind closed doors.

With the harbour, in theory security has been increased there considerably over the last few years, certainly public access has been eroded without any consultation, the problem though is that the security has been implemented in an ad hoc way, without any overall plan. I suppose this applies to the whole development of the harbour during the last forty years that I have known it. What we have developed there is a bit of a mess and in terms of aspects of it being economically viable, including security, thing’s haven’t worked out too well.

I am not too keen on private police forces, nor am I keen on parts of the country that have public access, but try to operate some sort of law of there own, Westwood Cross is a case in point see

What worries me a lot more is when parts of our government try to apply this to public parts of the town where I live. I am not for one moment saying that proper law and order shouldn’t apply in all parts of the town, but fundamentally what we are talking about here is segregation implemented by an unaccountable private police force, paid for by taxation.

Sunday 25 July 2010

Ramsgate carnival pictures 2010

Click on the links below for the pictures of today’s carnival

the pictures are publishing as I write this and may take a while to all appear, if you want them for non commercial use just help yourself, if you want one large size just email me and I will try to send it to you.

If you want one for a commercial purpose, just email me, I am unlikely to charge you anything.

Saturday 24 July 2010

Thanet District Council, don’t jump! Ramsgate’s beach hut revealed.

The picture above taken today (click on it to enlarge) shows our one and only new beach hut in use, the council officer sitting in it is being paid out of our council tax to stop people from jumping from the fish quay into the harbour.

What is wrong with this?

Firstly as you can clearly see in the picture someone is jumping into the harbour, from the fish quay, behind the hut.

Secondly they have put one young female council officer on her own in the beach hut, with no authority to enforce anyone from doing anything they want, the youf don’t seem to like being told not to do what they want to do, at the moment their reaction is limited giving her verbal abuse. My own opinion is that the person in most danger here is the council officer.

Thirdly the beach hut is facing away from the fish quay, so she can’t even see what is going on properly.

The proper solution here is to encourage our youf in this healthy activity by putting up a proper diving board supervised by a lifeguard and offer them proper training in the sport.

Now I come back to the problem of what to do when the council has evidently done something completely crazy, this young women is from one of the European countries Poland of Hungary I would guess from her accent, she is sitting in this hut in the middle of Ramsgate periodically having verbal abuse shouted at her, obscenities, threats and racial abuse.

This isn’t like the Thanet Pride thing yesterday, where accusing the council of homophobia appears to have the desired result i.e. getting the event publicised on the councils homepage. I say this as I also asked them to publicise Ramsgate Carnival in the same way and as they didn’t I can only assume that it was because I couldn’t accuse them of political incorrectness.

I am afraid that this one is one of those insane actions by our council that really annoys me, my take on it is that the council at some high officer or cabinet level has identified that there could be some council liability here if someone is injured jumping in the harbour.

I don’t think there is any sense of the council wishing to protect local people or the wouldn’t have put this officer in an invidious position, much more a case of that they have given someone and impossible job to cover their own backs.

Oh and a few pictures from the camera these are yesterday afternoon these this morning before the fun fair had opened and these this afternoon

Ramsgate Carnival 2010

It’s Ramsgate carnival weekend (click on the poster above to enlarge) the weekend starts at midday when the fun fair opens and the carnival procession is tomorrow.

This link takes you to some pictures of Ramsgate Carnival 2008 and this one pictures of Ramsgate Carnival 2007 this lot are in a bit of a state the pages go sideways, I will try to sort them out later.

Friday 23 July 2010

The Stately Homo of England

Many thanks for to Thanet District Council for promoting Thanet Pride on their homepage today, so here is some explanation of what I was up to.

In our politically correct society it would seem it is quite ok to discriminate against most people and organisations, in the case of Ramsgate Carnival it seems OK to discriminate against a whole town.

In these circumstances, I understand the situation and so generally there is little I can do about this.

Some discrimination though is legislation protected, rather like listed building protection this creates areas where one can complain, examples of this are racism and discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation.

In a way because of this we have created, rather like our listed historical buildings something of an anachronism, with buildings and their listings their main protection comes from something called architectural merit, this means that you can have a whole area of a town where its whole atmosphere and charm is created by its Victorian architecture, but as it isn’t deemed to have architectural merit, then you can stick in double glazing knock down buildings in fact get permission for pretty much anything regardless of how out of keeping it is with the area.

Now as I pointed out in my previous post, most of the social groups protected by this legislation have no choice in being identified for what they are.

However with homosexuality there is a difference, which is that anyone may be homosexual and unidentifiably so, so it follows that anyone can reasonably make a complaint about a public body or an individual on the grounds that they have acted homophobicly and that public body can’t turn round and say you aren’t female, disabled, black or whatever.

Now one factor in complaining to a public body is that you have to show that you yourself have been directly effected, or in this case discriminated against, you can’t for instance complain that the council have damaged the whole town that you live in, the local government ombudsman – oddly enough there doesn’t seem to be an ombudswoman in the UK although plenty of them are female – can only take up a complaint about how the individual is effected.

Going back to architecture for a moment, it would seem that the government have created what I like to think of as, the stately homo of England, a phrase first coined by the famous homosexual Quentin Crisp. Now providing that it can be shown, as in this case that the council are promoting one similarly important council sponsored event in front of another and the event losing out in terms of promotion is primarily a gay event, then anyone can be the stately homo of England.

Now from my point of view I have been badgering the council to do something about the way they promote major events in Thanet for about a year now and I think last weekend, when they totally failed to promote the lifeguards championships on Ramsgate main sands, I realised that I had to take some sort of more positive action.

So in this case I am taking the role of the stately homo of England, that is I am defending a right to gay equality. With the lifeguards event this was unique event and very difficult to compare with anything else, in fact it would have made a very poor and difficult thing to complain about.

Thanet Pride is different particularly as it most closely compares to the Thanet carnivals, it is also very useful that Ramsgate and Margate carnivals are all in approximately the same time frame.

Today is the 23rd July

Thanet Pride is on 24th July

Ramsgate carnival 25th July

Margate carnival 1st August

So a simple test, Google “what’s on in Thanet”

Top link (TDC run website) no mention of any of the events on the page that comes up, only the following events are on the page 18th - 25th July: Big Sky Jazz Festival 6th - 13th August - Broadstairs Folk Week,14th and 15th August - Monster Bass Festival 16th - 21st August - Ramsgate Week 20th - 27th August - Dippers and Dunkers 28th September - 3rd October - Broadstairs Food Festival 2nd and 3rd October - International Kite Festival.

Second link only a link to Margate carnival on that page.

What the council should have worked out is that people should be arriving at the Thanet Events for the next seven days first, like you do if you go to – oh say Brighton council’s website or whatever – it isn’t rocket science.

Now for one reason or another I am trying to trade in Thanet and I would prefer the people Googling what’s on this weekend to come here rather than go to Brighton.

Anyway the blog post was linked to a complaint to the council click on the link for it and as the council are now promoting Thanet Pride on their homepage my email to them withdrawing the complaint

Thursday 22 July 2010

Are Thanet District Council Homophobic?

There are two major events in the main Thanet towns this weekend Thanet Pride in Margate on Saturday and Ramsgate Carnival on Sunday.

I just checked on the councils website for the times, there is a big splash for Dippers and Dunkers in Margate at the end of August and surprisingly as Ramsgate events are seldom mentioned there one for the Monster Bass in Ramsgate in the middle of August.

Well frankly I wasn’t that surprised to find nothing about Ramsgate Carnival as they didn’t put the lifeguards championships up last week, but it is very unusual for them not to give a major Margate event a big splash.

So why not Thanet Pride, I don’t suppose Brighton Council would – cover up their gay pride event – perhaps they would I don’t really know, what I am asking myself though is would the council have promoted it if was a major Margate event, but not a gay one.

Well I tried their sister site the front page is promoting Margate Carnival at the end of the month, which sounds about right for Ramsgate carnival week.

So I clicked on the “what’s on” link there and this came up.

18th - 25th July: Big Sky Jazz Festival

6th - 13th August - Broadstairs Folk Week

14th and 15th August - Monster Bass Festival

16th - 21st August - Ramsgate Week

20th - 27th August - Dippers and Dunkers

28th September - 3rd October - Broadstairs Food Festival

2nd and 3rd October - International Kite Festival

The picture is Ramsgate Carnival 1968 more of those here no historic pictures of gay events in Thanet as they would have been illegal, well certainly in 1968.

More to come on this one I think.

Yes more, it is always a bit tricky when one gets into discussing prejudice, women’s rights if one is male, racism if one is white and so on, gay rights are a bit different as one can’t necessarily tell who is gay and who isn’t. In a sense you are what you say you are although this isn’t always said with words.

I can’t for instance assume that this is because all of the major players in the council are straight, I just wouldn’t know.

In the book world most of us made up our minds some time ago, you either sided with Oscar Wilde or the Marquis of Queensbury, this was more a matter of taste and sensibility than anything else.

Now frankly the pink pound, in fact any pound is important to Margate, I was there earlier today and the traders I talked to didn’t seem exactly overjoyed about trade there at the moment.

I also get the impression that the amount that the council promote local events is directly proportional to the amount of our council tax they have spent on them. I don’t think that benefit to the local community can be a factor or they would have promoted last weeks lifeguard championships here in Ramsgate. It would be very difficult to argue a case that lifeguards weren’t beneficial to costal towns.

Margate and St Peters and Elvis Presley and some reflections on modern art

It was my intention to go to Margate today to take some pictures of the fencing that has appeared round Arlington House Margate I am sorry to have to admit failure here and I can only blame Elvis Presley.

We started out by going to Westgate I was trying to find a new back pack and one or two other bits, but instead wound up buying books.

We then went on to park on Margate Harbour Arm and succumbed to coffee and chocolate cake at BeBeached at just over a fiver each this isn’t cheap but with the view the excellent WiFi connection coffee, cake and cream it has become a must before facing Margate.

While we were eating this a large plume of black smoke appeared beside Arlington House, I wasn’t sure if this was a normal occurrence but took pictures of it anyway.

Having been set up by the coffee I set out for the High Street where I bought the Elvis Videos above, the problem from then on were that they were extremely heavy and I wanted the loo. I remembered one was in the old market, but when I got there could only find the sign. I did discover a comic shop there though, something that people are always looking asking for in the bookshop, so it will be useful to have somewhere to send them.

Anyway after struggling back to the harbour arm, where the loo was open I went to look at the exhibition in The Droit House. The clock on the Droit House was completely wrong, something that never bodes well for me. After this I took a few more pictures, here is the link to the first lot of pictures

I am afraid that the art exhibition, like the previous ones there now leaves me with completely the wrong feelings, well you can see the pictures, the problem is not so much about is it good, bad or even is it art, but much more that this is what public money is being spent on to rejuvenate Margate.

Anyway after this and the associated thoughts I forgot all about Arlington House car park and went off to St Peters graveyard for some sort of different visual stimulation, sorry some of the pictures of this are a bit wonky I was eating a Co Op Sandwich while it took most of them, see

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Ramsgate local government and where do we go from here

In the course of trying to get various Ramsgate issues resolved I am in the habit of contacting various councillors, council officers and other types, in different levels of government and public service that may either help the situation here, or have some ideas.

This extends back to about six or seven years ago when I first wrote to our then MP Steve Ladyman about Pleasurama and goes up to today. Does it make any difference? Well I don’t really know to be honest.

In recent times I have been very careful to keep the individuals names out of what I say and as pretty much everything I post comes from more than one source, or falls into the bracket of I have seen it myself or have the relevant official documentation, I don’t think I have as it were dropped any individual in it. I think this is important for several reasons not the least of which is that people would stop telling me things. Of course I still get the odd irate email from people saying something along the lines, I told you such and such a thing and you published it, sometimes I have to do a certain amount of smoothing.

What I still find amazing is that so many people involved in these organisations genuinely seem to think that keeping the public informed about what is going on isn’t a very good idea. There is a sort of culture of we know best, as though public savants have forgotten that that is what they are, paid to serve the public and elected representatives, elected to represent the public.

Now for the most part here in Ramsgate local government is carried out from offices in Margate by council officers and a working local Conservative majority and very few of the individuals concerned have any real up to date understanding of Ramsgate and its problems.

Twice in the last week, for instance I have been told by people supposedly governing us to put a particular problem to Ramsgate Town Partnership, an organisation that doesn’t exist any more.

Other people in Ramsgate have at different times tried to get some sort of realistic representation for the town at local government level, various organisations have been formed in the town, but seem to be pretty much ignored, collectively or individually.

The people of Ramsgate even went to the extent of voting to pay extra money for a town council and my impression is that this was done mainly so that there was an elected body to represent Ramsgate’s interests.

Now I am getting an increasing amount of information from people involved in this to the effect that this organisation is both ignored and sidelined by the district council.

I think the problem here is that the district council works entirely to a series of rules, these rules seem to have very little to do with the wishes of the local community, or for that matter even basic common sense.

A prime example of this is the attitude relating to the Pleasurama flood risk assessment, it is no good saying to either council officers or cabinet members that even the experts at the environment agency say that there is a likelihood that the thousand or more people in the new development may be killed or injured when there is a mixture of a high tide and a storm.

The only answer you get is that all of the rules have been adhered to and the council’s consent to build a potentially dangerous design is valid because of this.

However this then raises the difficult problem of just what does one do when it is obvious that the council are doing something wrong, stupid or even dangerous?

None of the checks and balances seem to be particularly effective, freedom of information legislation seems to only really result in the council releasing such information as they wish to, it may be that eventually after pursuing a request for a document that they don’t with to release that eventually one gets it. I made a request for one such document back in October and it is still going through the various processes.

Same with the complaints procedure I made one of these back in November and am still awaiting a result, I have to admit that once in the past I went all the way through the complaints procedure and managed to successfully get the environment agency’s report saying that the Pleasurama development needed a flood risk assessment to be safe.

Of course even after all of this no one can actually enforce this, so my time all of the officers time, the ombudsman’s time, the environment officer’s time and all of the associated money was, I suppose I have to admit, wasted.

One similar such problem came up today and this was from residents of Granville marina, this is the group of residences that are under the Victorian viaduct something that I have tried to get a weight limit imposed on. I understand that a heavy construction vehicle involved in the continuing renovation work on 1 Granville Marina went along this viaduct this week causing the whole structure to vibrate and alarming the people living in it considerably.

Asking the driver about the weight of the vehicle involved, the answer was unladen 22 tons laden you just wouldn’t want to know.

This raises the difficult question, what does one do about this sort of thing? Waiting until it collapses and saying, I told you so seems to be about the only option, has anyone got any other ideas?

Oh well some pictures from the last couple of days, see and the one above of the beach hut isolated, half way up the harbour wall also above, I thought it looke even funnier taken from the distance.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

New Beach Hut for Ramsgate

As I suppose most Ramsgate residents are aware that one way or another every last beach hut has been removed from Ramsgate.

Now one has appeared on the east pier facing away from the sea, let me be quite clear here, this isn’t some sort of security hut but one of the standard fairly flimsy beach huts the same as the ones put on pretty much all of the other Thanet beaches apart from the three in Ramsgate.

I am sure someone will suggest that I photoshopped it but no it is really there, click on the picture to enlarge it, it doesn’t look strong enough to survive very long there, so best take the opportunity to observe this particular folly while it is still there.

Arsenic Cyanide and the usual chemical cocktail for Ramsgate again

Once again someone is digging around in the contaminated part of the old Ramsgate Gasworks, I am not sure who or why.

I contacted the councils contaminated land department to ask them what was going on, but this was news to them too.

I do genuinely wish I was exaggerating about this one, this is a list of the chemicals identified as being on the site

And this link takes you to the other pictures that I took this morning

As far as I can see the short term risk here is likely to be with the way this work is being done, for example if they churn up the dust there because they haven’t damped down properly, we could have a cloud of dust containing the nasty chemicals over Ramsgate.

Longer term the main issues are: The ground water ones, this is about making sure that the old wells on the site that were used for the large quantities of water, used for coal gas manufacture, have been properly sealed off so as to prevent any of these chemicals getting into the local water supply. The general contaminated land issues if the site is to be used for any future purpose that people have access to.

Monday 19 July 2010

Council U Turn on Westcliff Hall Auction

I have just noticed that the mayor of Ramsgate has left a comment on ECRs blog to the effect that the council have withdrawn Westcliff Hall (The Motor Museum) from the residential property auction that they had put it in.

The picture above (click on it to enlarge) shows the cliff being cut out for its construction.

Westcliff Hall was built in the early 1900s and opened on the day the First World War broke out, not an auspicious start.

It was last used to house Ramsgate Motor Museum see and has been empty for a number of years.

As far as we understood here in Ramsgate negotiations were well underway with a local group supported by Ramsgate Town Council, with Thanet District Council the owners, to convert this into an arts leisure facility.

Then last week signs appeared on it saying that it was to be auctioned by a well-known residential property auctioneer.

Westcliff Hall is one of several prominent council owned sites that have fallen into disrepair and partial or total disuse here in Ramsgate.

Others are, The Maritime Museum, The Grosvenor Casino, Pleasurama, Nero’s, Tiberius, The Marina Swimming Pool and Albion House, to give them the names that we last remember them as.

I will be charitable here and say that it is an unfortunate coincidence that all of these are council owned.

Recently I have tried to find out from the council the status of these and frankly I haven’t been very successful, my understanding of the situation at the moment is as follows.

Please feel free to correct any information here.

The Maritime Museum, after first offering the museum operators security of tenure and then withdrawing it the council have again offered them security of tenure, I believe this will subject to various council committees meeting.

Grosvenor Casino the council have had negotiations with the leaseholder, The Rank Organisation who have agreed to carry out external repairs to the building.

Pleasurama, this ongoing carbuncle on our seafront has presented the council with various problems, apart from the obvious physical ones of the proposed development’s proximity to an unsupported chalk cliff and the intention to build in a high risk flood zone without a flood risk assessment, I think the council’s main concern here has been to protect its financial interest in the site.

Last year after delays starting the development because the developer couldn’t meet the council’s financial criteria, as set out in the development agreement I believe that the council officers decided it was time to get out of this one.

The council’s director of finance made recommendations that the council should pull out of the development on the grounds that the developer hadn’t upheld the terms of the agreement.

These recommendation were put to a full cabinet meeting and the cabinet decided to go against the recommendations of the director of finance and let the developer go ahead with a revised and less demanding agreement.

The last I heard is that the council have given the developer a 199 year lease on the site, so it could be some time before anything much changes there.

Nero’s although this was an important Victorian theatre, and a critical part of the Granville Marina complex for some reason it wasn’t listed.

With this one the council decided to demolish it without any public consultation and without any public warning.

Tiberius, this was previously the home of the casino, I was away from Ramsgate when this was dilapidated and destroyed, so I don’t really know what happened there.

The Marina Swimming Pool, I am pretty sure that this was destroyed by poor maintenance, this happened long enough ago to publish one of the funny stories about the council’s actions that contributed to its demise.

The story goes that the swimming pool was run by the maintenance and engineering side of the council and in some reshuffle – I expect the word stakeholders was used – the council decided to transfer it to their leisure department.

A large ferro cast structure in the sea is a complex piece of civil engineering, the forces of the sea acting upon the structure partially balanced by the water in the pool.

Anyway the long and the short of the story is that the council’s engineers gave instructions to the council’s leisure officers not to empty the water out of the pool.

No prizes for guessing what happened.

Albion House, this is still a rather sensitive one, but the story is that Thanet District Council offered it to Ramsgate Town Council under terms that were unreasonable, particularly considering the dilapidated state of much of the building. It is thought to be the only UK royal residence that has nets on it to prevent part of the crumbling structure falling on people as it crumbles off.

Over the years I have watched the significant council owned sites in the town destroyed one way or another and now I have reached the point where I have started to speculate on what there is that council be next.

So what else is there:

The Sailors Church, I am pretty sure this is council owned, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one go under the hammer in one sense or another.

Oh yes and Eagle Café, certainly prominent, disused and council owned, there was a rumour that there was some sort of court action, which was started and then dropped.

And another one the Tourist Information Office, also council owned, disused although not really in a prominent position, so perhaps I shouldn’t include it, I don’t want anyone to think that I am being unreasonable.

Having said all of this one would expect the privately owned properties in this part of Ramsgate to be similarly disused and derelict, particularly as private owners aren’t funded by council tax, but this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Ramsgate Harbour Dredging

The picture above shows the situation at low tide, there were no signs of dredgers working today, anyone know if what you see is what we get, or if we are due more.

Ramsgate Around the Town

I popped out to the town during my lunch break and noticed a few things, here they are.
First a new shop selling magic items, this is not magic tricks but the occult type, tarot cards and so on, I expect this will do fairly well as that section in the bookshop does fairly well.
The town centre itself was very busy indeed, as you can see, making photography there pretty much impossible.
The work on the Pleasurama surface drainage pipe seems to be finished, the workers on this should be commended on leaving harbour parade as they found it and not a mass of potholes usually left after major roadworks.
The nasty scum that may well be the results of problems with the sewers in harbour Parade is still there, although how you would go about finding out if this problem is being addressed I wouldn’t really know.

Sunday 18 July 2010

South East Region Beach Lifeguard Championships at Ramsgate main Sands Today

Events started at 10am and will be on all day today Sunday 18th July, sorry I only found out about this just now and rushed back from my walk to get some of the details online.

Events include; beach sprints; beach relays; cobra ski race; rescue tube rescue; beach flags; cobra rescue race; paddle board race; reel and line.
they may take a while to appear as my laptop is a bit of an antique, sorry about the bits in the camera – don’t change lenses on the beach – I will try to delete any really bad ones when I get time.
A few more pictures from this afternoon, more to follow later
Finally the last lot of pictures at
may take a while to appear
as I pointed out to several people running this event I have the original high definition files of the pictures and if any of you want any of them I will do my best for you.
Email me with the web address of the page it’s on (url starts http) approximately how far down the page it is and a description of the picture, the original picture file sizes are about 2 MB so I can’t send many by email.

Saturday 17 July 2010

Blogs and stuff

I have just noticed that the counter that I put on this blog about two years ago has passed the 100,000 mark, so a thank you to all of you who have put up with my ramblings.

Here follows a fast touch-typed rant during lunchtime in the bookshop, that will be in need of correction if I ever get around to it, very much thought as I go along tha something really intended for publication.

Looking at the various posts here and on the other blogs, one is very much aware of a sense of dissatisfaction with Thanet District Council, particularly over asset disposal and leisure facilities.

I am not really sure how much of this is real and how much of it is perceived and talking to people in the shop it is obvious that this feeling extends outside of the blogs and is almost universal.

I think much of the problem stems from poor communication with local people and frankly whith the internet this really shouldn’t be happening, the council has a whole press department that is supposed to tell us what they are up to.

Frankly it shouldn’t be difficult to extract the major things that are likely to effect peoples lives, from the masses of information the council publish, and publish information about these somewhere on the internet.

My last posting is a case in point, the planning application to decimate Hartsdown Park in Margate was hidden in plain view on the internet, published among the masses of planning applications for double glazing, shop signs and so on and I missed it.

The business over putting Westcliff hall into a residential property auction see ECRs post is another case of dreadful communication and bad pr, I asked Ramsgate Town Council about this yesterday and I know that they have been involved in the plans by local people to rejuvenate this.

The sad truth here is that Ramsgate Town Council hadn’t been told about putting it into this auction by Thanet district Council, so if they can’t be bothered to tell the town council what hope do local residents hope to have of finding out what is going on their town.

Another one is the Margate Caves site see my post about it something else that I hope Margate people will take up, however I am not sure that what looks like impossible access to what should be an important tourist attraction, would be grounds for objecting to the planning application.

The development on the slipways in Ramsgate is another one see although it is being talked about in Ramsgate as a done deal already, I can’t find anything about it on the council’s planning website. Once again the problem here isn’t likely to be something that would be somthing to object to it on planning grounds, nonetheless the question, will the harbour be viable with only one slipway? Is a vital one to the economy of Ramsgate as a town.

There is quite a bit of comment on the two posts about Manston airport see and and once again I find there is very much a sense of the council not taking local people with them.

It is quite ridiculous for people to suggest that the noise issue in Ramsgate is a new one, over fifty years ago the problem was such that the American air force decided that Ramsgate was only suitable coloured troops, who at the time they considered racially inferior or some such thing, possibly deaf. All of the officers were billeted in Margate away from the aircraft noise see

Perhaps the council are suggesting that Ramsgate people are racially inferior now, or possibly deafer than those in Margate, how it can be down to a council governing Ramsgate from what always has been and always will be our main rival town can decide fairly that Ramsgate should or shouldn’t have night flights passing over it is beyond me.

The question being asked here to our council dominated by cabinet members and Conservative members on the north of the island is; your biggest problem is Margate a large town with a leisure and shopping based economy that has collapsed, the main rival town Ramsgate appears to be regenerating from within, will you allow disruptive night flights over it?

Always for me though the airport issue comes down to our water supply and there are two aspects that won’t go away.

One is replenishment of the aquifer, by this I mean that amount of Thanet that can be concreted over is finite if we want to retain our essential water supply, this water supply has already been severely effected by various major pollution incidents and the low level but widespread pollution caused by the high level of population and associated infrastructure above.

The remaining mostly green bit of Thanet has Thanet Earth, with plans for expansion, China Gateway and the business park all with plans for more concrete and roads, the new road from Ramsgate to the main London road and the airport expansion.

The problem here is that you can have some of these things but you can’t have all of them and still have enough of a water supply for our domestic, industrial and agricultural needs.

The other problem is that over the commercial life of the airport there has been a lax attitude to water pollution safety issues, there is some information about this on this website I put up the last time I looked into the water pollution issue, see if people consider that there isn’t enough information here I do have some more I could publish too.

Truth is that I don’t want to scupper aspects of the airport that could be commercially beneficial to Thanet but on the other hand I don’t want us to go down the road to something that makes neither environmental nor economic sense.

One thing I find worrying here is that it is obvious that the airport has a long history of a lax attitude to safety in terms of water pollution and any airport with a lax attitude to safety in any area is a matter for concern.

Anyway is suppose I had better go and do some work now.

Friday 16 July 2010

The middle of Hartsdown Park to be disposed of.

The middle of Hartsdown Park is to be fenced off with a 2 metre high fence for a synthetic football pitch for Margate Football Club as this is connected directly to the similarly fenced and little used five aside pitch you can pretty much say goodbye to the middle of the park.

The map above says it all really, click on it to enlarge, what is going is the bit outlined in red, I was a bit surprised that I hadn’t noticed this one on the assets disposal list, as are the people who use the park who hadn’t seen any signs about this happening in the park.

Many thanks to Margate resident Bob for pointing this one out to me, this is what he has to say.

"Residents of Margate have been surprised to learn that Hartsdown DevelopmentCompany on behalf of Margate Football Club have been granted permission toconstuct in Hartsdown Park. a large artificial grass fenced in football pitchabutting the existing 5 a side enclosed pitches This will have the effect of denying the people of Margate, to whom the land was left by the Hatfield family, access to a further large part of the park, access having already been reduced by the construction of the 5 a sidepitches now rarely used.

The planning approval states that only two objections were received. Thisis hardly surprising as it is understood only households on Tivoli and Hartsdown were advised of the development. The users of the park were not consulted and notices of a planning application were not evident in the park. Surely a development of this kind should have had maximum publicity before a decision was taken?

In the past year the park has seen much greater use. Footballers, both boysand girls have put down their markers and practised their skills. It is wonderful to see the young children from the nursery school using all parts of the park. In the woods, on the logs and with their trundle trucks making expeditions to Tivoli Park.

If the development goes ahead they should still be able to get there but they will have to take the long way round because their usual route will be blocked by a fenced off football pitch.

I feel sure members of Margate Football Club are trying to do their best forthe club but please do it on your own land, not land that belongs to the people of Margate.

Thursday 15 July 2010

Art Exhibition in St Georges Church Ramsgate

I am sorry I was a bit late posting this one, the exhibition runs until Sunday 11 am to 5 pm Friday and Saturday and 12 to 4 on Sunday click on the link for the pictures of the pictures and the church, more to follow when I get there

Here are the rest of the pictures as promised

Coffins in St Georges Crypt

My children have been complaining that both my blog posts and pictures have been a bit boring recently, so this is one for them.

The church I don’t attend is St Georges in Ramsgate, I certainly wouldn’t not go to any other church, it is a gem of a Regency church pretty much completely in tact.

One unusual feature is that it still has coffins in the vaults in the crypt, so here are the pictures.

I will enhance and publish some more pictures later, as you can imagine the light wasn’t ideal for photography.

Due to modern health and safety regulations, mostly relating to the asbestos used on the old central heating system, children are now not allowed in the crypt.

At one time this was their favourite part of the church, most especially the small coffins containing the bodies of dead children.

Click on the link for the pictures

By way of explanation here to any adults who my stumble upon this post by mistake and not understand it, this is very much about children being very much aware that they are mortal and can die like the rest of us, but there is very little about to show them that they will get the same treatment as adults if they do. Proper coffin, buried with their relations and so on.

Here are the rest of the pictures as promised

Breakthrough at harbour for Pleasurama drain and the hanging gardens of The Royal Sands Development

Well not a very exciting post this one, some more pictures here

All bit sad the business with the weeds growing from the cracks in the cliff façade that is.

My understanding of the situation at the moment and please correct me if I am wrong, is that the council having spent £1m of our council tax having this structure filled repaired and painted have now responded to criticism that it wasn’t done properly.

This criticism isn’t just based on the rather obvious pictures of the weeds but also on the fact that the council have already had to pay to have part of the repairs repaired.

Oh yes back to their response, apparently this was to get the firm that supervised the faulty repairs to inspect them, word is – not surprisingly really – that the inspection reveals nothing wrong with the repairs.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Zen and the Art of Books and Bikes. Reflections on Top Gear, Reliant Robins, Motorcycles the internet, bookselling and computers

This is a long old ramble that wasn’t really intended for publication, the sort of thing that comes about, sitting behind the till in the bookshop between customers.

The recent Top Gear clips of the Reliant falling over so easily, have left me very suspicious that something is not right about them, some sort of set up that I don’t understand.

The same is true with internet bookselling and as these are both areas that I have some understanding in, here we go.

I learnt to drive by a rather eccentric method that didn’t involve conventional lessons, I think the same can be for secondhand bookselling, self taught is closest I can get to the description.

With the driving I started by buying a secondhand BSA motorcycle in a bits, this was a 1956 C12, I assembled this, got it insured, MOTd, taxed, drove it around for a bit and then took the test on it. This involved riding around the block in Margate while the examiner watched from the pavement, I passed first time, frankly it wasn’t difficult.

Passing this test meant that I was and still am licensed to ride all motor cycles, and I think over the years I have had over thirty of them, another thing passing this test does is that it provides one with a full licence to drive three wheeled cars.

This meant that when the winter came on I bought my first three wheeler, it was a Reliant Regal van like the one in the picture above, powered by a 750cc engine, it was quite quick reliable and economical.

The main difference between this Reliant that I think was manufactured in about 1958 and the modern ones though, was that it didn’t have an anti roll bar to help stop it from falling over.

The anti roll bar works by linking the two back springs together and makes it very difficult to get one to roll over, believe me I have tried to get the more modern Reliants up onto two wheels and it isn’t easy.

Now looking at the handling of the Reliant that they are using on Top Gear, it seems very similar to the handling of my early reliant without a roll bar, so I wonder if the Top Gear people have removed it.

But much more to the point here is what actually happens when you are driving a Reliant and it starts to roll over. First it goes up onto two wheels, at this point two things happen, one is that because one of the back wheels is off the ground it looses all power – like wheel spin due to the differential – the other is that ones natural instinct to balance it, like a bicycle or a motorcycle takes over.

I drove the van I had around for several years and although it went up on two wheels on numerous occasions, it never fell over. I am not saying that it isn’t possible to roll one over but it just isn’t easy, my brother managed to do this to another van of the same model without an anti roll bar but he did have three large German hitchhikers in the back.

One thing that I suppose you have noticed is that from top gear, is that they are very rugged indeed, but even so I think if you really did get one up to the speed where it would roll over just from cornering, then the damage from sliding along the road on its side would be much more that that shown.

I know that this is all a bit daft, but engineering things that don’t make sense bug me. Aspects of internet book buying don’t make much sense either and I have been trying to see where the secondhand book world is going now, so here are some thoughts on that, too.

In the first instance I suppose one wouldn’t expect the world of secondhand bookselling to be particularly advanced in the field of computing, I think it would be fair to say that most people who think about it at all tend to associate it with an age before the computer was invented.

On reflection too perhaps Ramsgate wasn’t the most obvious place to open a fairly large bookshop, like so many things in life though logic isn’t always at the top of the list.

I suppose the primary reason that I moved back to Ramsgate was the proximity of an aging parent, anyway in 1987 I rented a shop in King Street Ramsgate, put up lots of bookshelving and stocked it with a mixture of book remainders and the secondhand stock from my previous shop.

The first five years were fairly successful seeing year on year increases in sales and then in about 1993 the retail world started to change in this part of Kent. Most noticeable was the number of shops being converted to residential premises, something that went on until very recently and meant that over the past seventeen years I have gone from trading in the middle of a busy town centre street to trading right on the edge of the town centre.

By about 2005 it was becoming obvious that with decreasing passing trade and as always ever rising expenses I had to make some changes to the way in which I was selling books.

I think it would be reasonable to say that over this period of time passing casual trade here has pretty much ceased to exist, during the same time however the whole booktrade has changed dramatically, particularly in terms of retail outlets selling books.

When I moved to Ramsgate there were two other secondhand bookshops in the town and a large stationers and booksellers with a substantial stock of new books, also of course we had and still have the inevitable W H Smith.

Back in the early 60s and late 70s part of my engineering work involved computers so I had some experience with them, something that stopped completely in the mid 1970s when I went to work full time for the family bookshop business.

Around 2006 the internet became much more widely available in the UK as did the ownership of PCs and at this point in time I decided to buy a PC and see if there was some way to enhance the bookshop business with it.

At the time I hade some rather vague notion that I would photograph the book stock that I had and that potential customers would see on their computers how good it was and come here to buy it or contact me so I could post books to them.

What I hadn’t accounted for was the American factor, essentially what this boiled down to was that the American secondhand book world wasn’t like the one in the UK at the time. American secondhand booksellers had been using computers in very advanced ways to produce their book catalogues for a long time and with the coming of the internet they had produced both very advanced book listing software and several large unified online databases where customers could look at the stock of thousands of booksellers worldwide and search for the book they wanted.

We joined several of these databases as did many other UK booksellers and put a very large proportion of our stock onto them, about 12,000 titles, the net result of this was that a lot of our best stock got posted off all over the world, making the shop less interesting.

One way or another this happened to a great many other bookshops and two things resulted from this and the ever increasing expenses of running a shop, one was that most secondhand bookshops closed and the other was that most book customers found and bought all of the elusive titles that they knew that they wanted.

In about 2005 the whole situation changed again, two important things happened, one was that as most of the other bookshops had closed so we had very little competition in terms of shops and the other was that the firms running the larger online databases swallowed up the smaller ones.

What I did then was to look at the internet in a new way, this was mainly by identifying the ways in which it could be used to improve the bookstock in the shop, rather than use it to decimate it and to make the book prices in the shop competitive with those on the internet.

We now use a method for book pricing based around the combined cost of the book and postage of the cheapest copy of the book available online and frankly mostly because of postal costs in many cases we just can’t be beaten by the internet.

There is also a little trick that you can do with books that you never have enough copies of, which is to make them very slightly more expensive in the shop than you can get them online. This means that the proportion of people who are prepared to go through the rigmarole of first seeing the book in the shop, then checking to see if it is cheaper online and then buying it that way to save a small amount of money, make the stock much better for those who can’t be bothered.

From my own experience of buying secondhand books online, the proportion of purchases that go wrong in some way compensates for any money saved in this way.

Where the internet really comes into its own in improving the shop stock though is in terms of getting rid of books that ought to have sold in the shop but didn’t and books that have a scarcity value that makes them appear bad value for money in the context of similar books on the same subject.

This is particularly helpful in the competitive area of buying stock from the public, while new books have got considerably more expensive since 2005 prices of secondhand books have fallen on the whole.

You have to lift out of this equation those books that are produced in massive quantities for the supermarkets and the gift market, you will find the charity shops and boot fairs overflowing with these titles.

The great vat of unwanted books we deal with by pricing them at 10p or less and even at these low prices we are still taking about a ton amount for paper pulp.

Of course I am not saying here that there aren’t bargains to be had both online and in the bookshop for that matter, nor am I saying that the internet isn’t very useful when trying to get an elusive title that you aren’t likely to encounter on the shop shelves.

What I am talking about here is what I can only call the regular book buyer and although it is difficult to generalise the two most common can be described as, either the person who reads fiction and tends to accumulate all or most of the works of the authors that they like, or the person with an interest in a subject who likes to browse through a range of books about it and chose some to add to their collection.

In some ways it is looking as though electronic readers are set to replace a considerable amount of these sales and although I think that we are still a long way from a time where actual physical paper books become just historical curiosities, this new direction in publishing is bound to have a considerable effect on secondhand bookselling in the future.

Next a random look at some books on the shelf to see how they compare, obviously this is a situation that changes all the time as both the bookshop stock and the stock of online booksellers sells and gets replaced.

The three main online places that you can buy secondhand books in the UK on the internet are:

We buy and sell books using all of these and it is important to understand that when you are buying via these sites, apart from when you buy new books directly from Amazon, you are buying from a third party.

This means that every time you purchase a book via them your experience will be different and I the case of Amazon and Abe a large proportion of the booksellers listing there stock there have it listed on both sites and for sale in their bookshops.

Many of the booksellers that list on the internet fall into this bracket, this means that quite often when you order a book this way it will have already been sold to someone else, so you wont get it.

This happens to about 5% of the books I order this way, ebay works a bit differently and sellers state if the book is for sale elsewhere.

The next problem is the one of the books condition, if you understand the rules the books listed by a professional bookseller have condition descriptions that are fairly reliable, explained roughly here, poor means atrocious, good means not very good, very good means very good and fine means pretty much like new – not written in the dust wrapper not price clipped or the spine faded, no foxing and so on – this may sound all a bit picky, but for instance a lot of first editions can only be proved to be so if the price is present on the dust wrapper, so if the corner is clipped off you can’t tell if it had a price on it in the first place.

However the real problem here is that a lot of the people listing on these online sites are not professional booksellers, so I can say that about 20% of what you buy this way comes in a condition that you don’t expect.

OK I am now going to step outside the box for a bit and try and explain the non-fiction from a customer’s point of view but with a bookseller’s knowledge.

As I said I have an interest in interest in motorcycles, have often owned British motorcycles made mostly in the 1950s and have also a particular interest in how our motorcycle industry collapsed.

This means that come birthday and Christmas I often get given books with titles like “The Big Book of Motorbikes” most of the bikes that I have owned over the years have been Norton and BSA twin cylinder machines and so I though I would look on the bookshelves of the shop today and find a few motorcycle books that actually interest me that I haven’t already got.

The first one is Norton: The Racing Story (Crowood Motoclassics Series) by Mick Walker (Hardcover - 29 Aug 2002)

We have a fine copy on the shelf for £9.99

Amazon has it new for £18.95 this would attract their free postage offer, they also have six different people selling copies described as new, prices between £12.95 and £58.24 all also having the extra postage cost of £2.75 see

It also has six secondhand copies priced between £11.40 and £72.97 also plus the £2.75 postage.

Abe have twelve copies price between £10 and £65.87 all plus between about £3 and £24 postage, see

Ebay have one copy priced £15 with free postage, see

My favourite motorcycle of the ones that I owned was a Norton Dominator so the next book that took my fancy was “Norton Dominator by Mick Walker (Hardcover - 24 July 2006)” cheapest Amazon copy, £8.50 plus £2.75 post this is an ex library copy see cheapest on abe seems to be the same book at the same price see cheapest on ebay £10.95 plus £1.75 postage

The copy on the shelf in the shop is £9.99 and in fine condition.

I won’t go on as this could get very boring.

Both of these titles started out as new titles priced at £19.95, this was a real price, not like “The Big Book of Motorbikes” with £30 printed on the cover that has only ever sold for the most at about £10, usually at garden centres and via multiples.

These are both books that I paid £5 for to sell for £10 which then takes me to the person wanting to sell the book, in the past I suppose they would have taken the books to their local second hand bookshop got their £5 each for them and that would have been it. So what about the eight people that have put their copies of the book on ebay, will any of these sell, certainly all these people will pay listing fees.

One of the customers today was a chap who was off on a cruise and bought a big pile of Wilber Smith and Jack Higgins paperbacks to read, lose on the way, give to people he met and any of the other thing that happen to paperbacks on holiday. The 30 or so books he bought in various conditions came to about £45, and I tried to do something similar on the internet just now. Frankly you either do it expensively or you are looking at about a days work to get anywhere near the prices that he paid in the bookshop.

I suppose the problem here is that rather like the world of small shops the large multinational companies are always looking for profit, at the moment with the way they are running internet selling sites they are already getting a very substantial proportion of any profit, particularly with lower priced items.
The problem may be that as this goes on they want more and more of the cake.