Sunday 26 October 2014

Trainspotting some thoughts on railway books in my bookshop.

If ah git thit kind ah dosh ah'd git ah git train baks fir masel n gie one tae ma auld pa.

The top burds cannae keep away from bak loaded lads in anoraks.

Findin ah woman n hir lookin eftir the bairns, wi mi in mi shed, thit's the scene fir me.

Sorry about that, wrong title for a moment there, I have got slightly diverted into reading about the early days of railways from the perspective of railway books published around 125 years ago.

As there doesn’t seem to much newsworthy going on in Thanet at the moment and I didn’t manage to produce a blog post yesterday, here we go.

Back in the 1960s when I first became interested in and to some extent involved in bookselling, for the most part bookshops and most books were aimed at that part of English society which I will loosely class as above “working class”.

At some point or another, probably in the late 60s people in the publishing and bookselling world realised that book ownership wasn’t really a class based thing, the main mover in this was Paul Hamlyn, who started Hamlyn books. Later on he bought Odhams, with the associated Sun Printers and the associated union problems so he sold out and founded Octopus books.

I guess I think of this as the hamburger effect, Paul originally christened Paul Bertrand Wolfgang Hamburger, revolutionised the cookery book world by introducing something pretty much unheard of at the time the, test kitchen. This meant that at the proofing stage, someone was sent into the kitchen with a newly typeset cookery book and told to cook and test all the recipes in the book.

Another thing he introduced into the publishing and bookselling world was market research. What that meant in practice was that instead of sitting in their offices waiting for authors to come along with manuscripts, the editors would actively look for demand. So for instance, they would determine that there was a demand for book priced at £1.99 on sports cars in A4 format with 200 pages and 100 coloured pictures and then actively go out looking for authors, publishers and printers to produce it.

Previously most of the quality non fiction books had been priced in guineas increments of £1.05, in fact recently I found an example of overstickering publisher madness that suggests a strong desire to return to the past.

Now of course the nonfiction book buying fraternity – those who have interests beyond the obvious universal sex and death interest – to the point of having a collection of books about the subject they are interested in, is pretty much classless.

Anyway back to the railway books, we do have a small railway book section in my bookshop and also some older scarcer railway books, which the more discerning enthusiast has to ask for.

Anyway one of my jobs is called collation, which means with the more expensive books, checking that they have all their pages, hence my diversion into railway books.

Now back in the day when I was at school, the school libraries that I encountered mostly contained books that fall into the category I would describe as boring, but one of the had a marvellous book about trains, which had foldout illustrations showing the plumbing of locomotives.

I am not sure if one of the railway books I collated this week was exactly the same as the one in the school library, certainly most of the books it contained were very out of date, so 1880 to 1900 would be about right, but I suddenly found myself sucked back into the very early days of railways viewed from about this time.

Friday 24 October 2014

Supper at The Canterbury Bell, Westwood Cross, TDC’s Chief Executive Exonerated, followed by my evening of armchair carpentry from my bookshop, a ramble.

Friday evening is when the members of the fairer sex in my family retire to Westwood Cross, I haven’t passed my basic clothes shopping test yet, so I sit outside and sketch.

After this. Is experience the right word? Purgatory comes to mind. We repaired to WC’s new hostelry, The Canterbury Bell, we had several people of the junior persuasion accompanying us and this resolved into one of our better culinary departures.

Sorry about the rather flowery language, explanation further on.

I would say for a reasonable dining experience with children at under a tenner a head then The Canterbury Bell is one I would recommend, however it is very busy and if you don’t book in advance you may have to wait for a table. So use their website

I did the inevitable quick sketch.

The council TDC that is, have accepted the report of the DIP, sorry council speak: The complaint against the council’s Chief Executive, Sue McGonigal has been dismissed as unfounded following an investigation by a Designated Independent Person (DIP).

Anyone who has forgotten all this, we are looking at the time when the council’s last solicitor went and his notes on the activities of the chief executive leaked into the public domain.    

Next to what I hope will become regular bookseller’s rambles, or perhaps at least the ravings of a deranged shop assistant.

I have moved on from canals to carpentry and am busily engaged in armchair carpentry, I am reading “Practical carpentry, joinery, and cabinet-making [by P. Nicholson. by P. Nicholson, revised by T. Tredgold.” The edition we have in stock at the moment is the 1847 one. So in case you haven’t a copy to hand here are a few pictures from the book. 

Something that occurred to me was just how primitive the tools of this period were. Unfortunately this book doesn't have pictures of the tools and the only book I have in stock that does is a little earlier. However I hope the pictures from it will give you some idea. 

As you see it is written in a rather condescending tone so probably won’t be reading this one. 

Thursday 23 October 2014

Blog from the bookshop some sketches of Margate, dodgy till receipts that give you cancer and anything else I can think of to ramble about.

First off I should like to stress that I don’t use thermal printing anywhere and certainly not in the till so you stand no risk of getting cancer from the bookshop’s till receipts  Granted there can be dangers in buying books, but this isn’t one of them.

I also don’t use one of those UV money checkers which I am fairly convinced can give you cancer of the retina.

My day off today and I went to Margate to look at some books, went to Turner Contemporary to look at the Jeremy Deller exhibition again, this is a bit like Chinese food, you have a meal and after a fairly short time you are hungry again.

I had a Children's Ploughmans in the gallery cafe which is a fancy cheese sandwich which costs about £5 but does give a particularly good view for sketching, although the sketches didn't come out very well so i didn't bother to colour them.   

There is also a Platform Graduate exhibition (new Kent artists) here are the pictures of their artworks

Then a sketch from the car in Margate

It was at this point that i realised I had a problem with my felt tip pen and went to Lovelys the art shop in Northdown Road where i bought a different pen.
 The one I had been using is the one in the middle, it started out like the one at the top, but the tip gets pointed making it very difficult to sketch with, I am hoping that the one at the bottom, much more expensive won't do this.

What are you reading at the moment? I am reading a book about The Great Ouse, this is a river that I once had a boat on. Well to be honest it's much more a canal, one of the most canaled river systems.

There are a few canal books on the shelf in my bookshop at the moment so I may read another.
It has a fairly large Maritime section.

I am starting to get the feel of the new felt tip I think, it's an Edding 1600 that says 01 on the end.

I also bought this
 which is the business end of a watercolour brush
I am vaguely wondering if you can repair a worn out one.

Inevitably on to Manston apparently a team from RiverOak are in Thanet and there is both an new page on their website about Manston and there isn’t

So here is the RiverOak website with no plan for Manston and here is the RiverOak new UK website with a plan for Manston and even more bizarrely here is where the new plan for Manston was yesterday

Perhaps there are now two RiverOaks in the way that there were two SFPs however what this all means is anybody’s guess. 

All of the pictures of aircraft that were on their .com site earlier in the week have gone as have all the stuff about airport on their alternative assets page.

I will ramble on here

Wednesday 22 October 2014

A bad moment on the blog

Sorry about this but I have just inadvertently deleted the last 100 comments, about four days worth, I ticked the wrong box on the computer screen and selected the whole page of 100 comments instead of just the one comment I wanted to delete.

Anyway as I have been saying recently I am very busy working in my bookshop at the moment and frankly I really haven’t got the time to manage the blog comments.

The comment isn’t particularly bad at the moment, it’s just that I don’t have time to read it all carefully, so I have just set it on registered users only, the idea here is that combined with moderation this should mean a considerable reduction in comment.

The underlying problem at the moment is that I have been buying more books than I usually do, I can’t chose the amount of good books that I get the opportunity to buy, and like busses you don’t get many for ages and then a lot turn up at the same time.

I will leave it there with a few pictures around my bookshop which will be closed tomorrow because it is Thursday     

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Thanet Reggae Singer Prince Adebayo calls Thanet Councillor a Racist, the Council get their solicitor to tell me to remove a link to an article on the local paper’s website, Manston and Racism, a ramble.

Racism fascinates me, as do perceptions of racism and the way different people perceive things as racist. As a white English male I wouldn’t normally have been exposed to much prejudice, but as it happens I was fairly severely disabled as a child.

One of the things I had was St Vitus Dance and if you can’t figure out where I am coming from here you can put it into YouTube and get some idea of why I developed an interest in various forms of prejudice as a child. 

The school I went to was for the disabled so I was able to see things from a broad perspective and although there was a fairly broad prejudice in the 50s and 60s I don’t think it really got to me.

Anyway here is the video

and here is Simon's response in blue:

"It’s unfortunate but hardly surprising, that Prince Adebayo wasn’t shown the Tweet, which accompanied the picture he describes as ‘Racist.’

In fact, Christine Tongue, who made the video, hadn't seen the Tweet either and while happily ‘Tweeting’ that I’m annoyed,  she didn't carry any of my responses to her questions on it. She writes to me: “What was the text of the original tweet? We'll happily include that in the magazine, too.”

So it appears the singer was simply shown a picture out of context and asked if it was racist and was he offended?

The caption was actually this:

In the wake of the #ClactonByElection a comforting message from #Labour in #Thanet ?

And this was in the context of another Tweet you may have read: “Unless the Labour left stop conflating immigration with racism UKIP will continue to build momentum among its disillusioned voters.”

So in the satirical style of “Have I Got News for You” what did it mean for those who failed to grasp the clues?

As I replied, below, to Thanet Watch when they asked me to explain:

1) UKIP wins Clacton = migrants unwelcome?

2) Our Labour PPC remarks on migration (BBC Politics Show et al that immigration is not an issue locally. Immigrants are welcome in South Thanet - A good thing perhaps?

3) Clacton is opposite Thanet which is of course opposite Calais (which as you will see from the news this week, is experiencing immigrant riots as 400 attempted to storm a ferry this week and at least 2,000 migrants camped waiting to get into England of which BBC SE report 1,000 are from sub-Sahara). This, quite coincidentally, is illustrated in the photo of a large group of north Africans crossing the water in two trucks.

So in reality this is a satirical observation directed at UKIP, Thanet's own tolerance and Labour's local indecision on a policy issue, which featured significantly on the news last weekend but was willfully distorted by John Worrow and Ian Driver, who pumped it up and re-tweeted to their followers, who re-tweeted it to their followers.

It was seen at total of 665 times, with 12 comments, which is less than my equally satirical UKIP armoured column outside Rochester picture, which had 742 impressions.

Where racism fits into this is a conundrum but it does illustrate once again the danger the more extreme left faces here in Thanet by insisting on remaining loyal to the idea that questioning of the discredited dogma of uncontrolled immigration and racism are two sides of the same coin and by doing so, play neatly into the much cleverer hands of UKIP"

Can one have a favorite piece of Thanet racism, if you can then this Manston article is mine

On to the council I did genuinely receive an email from their solicitor today telling me to remove a link from by blog to an Isle of Thanet Gazette article about Pleasurama. Now from where I am sitting if a local blogger can’t link to a local paper article without risking prosecution by the local council, then one has to very careful indeed about what one can write on the blog these days.

On to Manston and now we all know that the council’s expert advice is not to proceed with the cpo, I will try to ramble on a bit about where this leaves the various political groups.

I guess that virtually every council up and down the land would give their metaphorical eye teeth to have the Discovery Park people buy one of their huge brownfield sites and promise £1bn investment coupled with thousands of local jobs.

Monday 20 October 2014

Short ramble about Manston and other stuff.

First it seems that the TDC Labour group has voted not to support the TDC cpo, this was reported on the Manston Pickle facebook page and was followed by one of the cabinet members enquiring how the information leaked out. The information there says this was 11 to 8 against.

Save Manston Airport Facebook page have just confirmed this: " Last week 8 Labour councillors said that when the CPO vote is taken later they will vote for the CPO, 11 Labour councilors said they will later vote to reject the CPO, some of the 11 feel they must follow the advice of the 151 officer (used to be the compliance officer),.." 

I guess this really means that the council officers and the expert advice the sought boils down to the council not being in a position to become involved in buying an airport.

Next it seems that the blog claming and the various facebook sites trying to discredit the Discovery Park people who aim to invest £1,000,000,000 in Manston creating thousands of jobs in Thanet over the next 20 years had out of date and wrong information, see

On the Pleasurama front TDC have served a high court injunction Cllr Ian Driver from disclosing some information about the issue and have tried and failed to do the same to The Isle of Thanet Gazette, see     

Bookshop wise I am busy rearranging the shop to cater for the rapidly changing demands for different types of book due to various things. I think most of this relates to the type of information that either is or isn’t easily available on the internet.

One section in the shop that has been very badly effected is the medical section, what I mean here is that up until fairly recently if either the doctor said you were suffering from some affliction that you had never heard of, you wanted to know something about the pills you had been prescribed, you developed a strange rash or you just had hypochondria; the book was really your only option. Another section that hasn’t been doing so well recently is the photography section, I think the main reason here is that most of us now have better cameras on our mobile phones than we ever had in the days of the film camera. You don’t use up film so you can take as many pictures as you like, so you don’t really need to be good at photography to take some good pictures, rather in the way that the monkey left with a typewriter for infinity will eventually type Great Expectations.

The other side of the coin is that the internet provides a great deal of free but not very in depth information, sparking peoples interest in a diversity of subjects. This combined with the change in leisure attractions moving much more towards popular and social history means this part of my bookshop needs expanding.

Recently I have notice much more demand for books about what ordinary people did in the past, so the demand for books on things like blacksmithing or rope making. Anyway I am endeavouring to make changes in the bookshop.

I am very busy at the moment and have not long finished work so I will endeavour to add to this post if i get the time.

Sunday 19 October 2014

Quick pen and watercolour sketch of Ramsgate Harbour, a quick ramble and RiverOak remove aviation from their website

First the painting of Ramsgate Harbour, this was from a bench on the westcliff, not something I would have expected to get away with two third through October.
Sketched in Pitt pen first.

Two things that interested me on the blogging front, one is that they have started treating people for “internet addiction disorder” and the other that the government have changed the law and imposed a two year sentence for internet trolling.

Certainly the only thing that puts me off bothering to post here is the time I have to waste moderating comments and I look forward to blogging with this new deterrent.

The expansion of businesses in the Military Road arches is still coming on a pace.

On the Ramsgate regeneration front the main downside last week was TDC buying a large shop in an otherwise fully occupied shopping parade in Ramsgate town centre and the granting themselves planning permission to put social housing on the ground floor. Just what crime the people housed with their bedrooms next to the pavement in a street where the late night takeaways close at 4 am and the very noisy street cleaning machine is often used at 6.30 am the council didn’t say.

I really don’t know that the council could have got further from expressing the wishes of Ramsgate residents than using council funds to do damage to Ramsgate town.

An irony here is that my own shop has been so much busier recently that I just hadn’t had the time to do much to oppose the application, I was told by one of my ward councillors that it was unlikely that such a bonkers scheme would get planning consent, but there you go.      

Politically I just don’t know the answer here, we have tried petitioning for and paying extra for a town council to look after Ramsgate’s interests, we have tried voting for Labour councillors at TDC after eight years of Conservative administrations left almost every council owned public site derelict, we have UKIP councillors at KCC now and this doesn’t seem to have produced much in the way of tangible benefits for Ramsgate.

Perhaps the most unusual discovery of the day is that RiverOak the company that may be TDC’s cpo partner recently added an aviation page to their website

Well the news is that they have now removed this page, here is the link to their website now so whether this means they have now moved out of aviation, in the way they suddenly moved into it a few weeks ago is anyone’s guess.

I now have an update on this; Tony Freudmann the recently appointed managing director of RiverOak says: “RiverOak is in the process of building a new website devoted to Manston Airport. More news of this shortly.”

Incidentally does anyone know what the position a managing director would mean in an American company structure?