As you may know, he now presents a BBC2 programme “Great Continental Railway Journeys” on Tuesdays at 9pm.
I’ve had an interesting week. Let’s start with Saturday. I participated in the Ilfracombe demonstration against the wrecking of our hospital services. There was a very good turnout. I couldn’t count the number there, not even if I took off my shoes and socks, but there must have been at least 100. Pretty good for a rainy Saturday afternoon. The same day, I read that Teresa May says there will be no more money for the NHS. Well, let me give Mrs May some friendly advice. At the last election, at least in part due to promises from your party that you would correct decades of underfunding in this region, the political map of the Southwest peninsula turned almost monochrome blue, except, of course, for the redoubtable Ben Bradshaw keeping aloft the Socialist flag in Exeter. If you preside over the destruction of our local hospital services, you will not see the same for many generations, and that would be a shame for the many in your party who are aghast at what is happening to the NHS, not least our local MP, Peter Heaton-Jones.
It may even be that the NHS as a whole does not need more money, although there is no doubt that North Devon has been underfunded for decades – popular opinion has it that much is wasted on unnecessary management and marketing consultants, and perhaps the market-led structure is wrong for the service. However, whatever the cause, it is for the government to sort it out, and the buck stops with the government.
The next demonstration is in Barnstaple on Saturday 22nd October, from 11am, congregating at Mermaid Walk and processing to the Square. Those who may have difficulty walking might like to meet us at the Square. We expect to be there from about 11.45am until perhaps 3pm.
You can find more information on the SOHS website at www.sohs.org.uk, or on their newsletter, http://www.sohs.org.uk/documents/SOHS-newsletter-5-1-October.pdf.
Last Thursday, I attended a county court hearing in Yeovil. Now, why on earth should a civil dispute between two North Devon organisations be heard in Somerset? Once again, our region is treated as a poor relation.
That evening, I was at the Victorians’ AGM. I am not sure how – perhaps I didn’t duck quickly enough – but I ended up as chairman of the Victorians’ committee. You probably already know that I support the Victorians, but I never expected to be in this position. Since, I am, I intend to do my best to ensure that the celebration is relevant to more people in our community and, with luck, restore it to something like its popularity of yore. It obviously needs to keep its feet in the past while looking to the future, and I loved the introduction of the Steampunk element, which I hope will continue to be a major part of the event, and perhaps expand even further. The previous chairmen, Carol Slinn and Michael Seckington, presided over considerable improvements to the event and handed it over to me in a much better condition than it was when I first came upon it. However, I am sure there is more we can do. If you have any ideas or would be prepared to help, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be assured, I will treat all sensible suggestions seriously.
The Victorian and Steampunk “Week” is a tourist attraction, bringing tourists to our town during what was once a dull period. As such, it benefits us all, even if we have no connection to the tourist industry since it helps support many of the shops and attractions that make our town what it is.
The front page headline in last week’s Journal made my blood boil. Not because of anything the Journal had done wrong, but because it is yet another example of the police criminalising the victims. The headline read “Ilfracombe Police warn people could be arrested for punching a clown”. Of course, it goes without saying that, if you spot a clown walking peacefully along the road, you would be committing an offence if you went up and punched him. But that is not likely to happen. What is much more likely is that one of these idiots dressed as a creepy clown comes up and harasses you or frightens children in your care. If the law says that you cannot take whatever steps are necessary to protect yourself or children in your care from such harassment, then the law is an ass. I suggest that the next time the police are interviewed, they should make it clear that the focus of their attention will be on stopping people dressed as clowns from harassing the public, rather than threatening law-abiding members of the public.
Finally, I don’t normally promote restaurants outside our town, but I had a lovely dinner on Friday at Fatbelly Fred’s in Barnstaple. It is mainly a fish restaurant, but carnivores are well catered for, as are vegetarians, and Geoff, the chef, tells me he hopes to add game to the menu shortly. See http://fatbellyfreds.co.uk/home/.