Much the same could be said about the dumping of those with mental or social problems. The Thatcher government’s Care in the Community programme, which closed many mental hospitals, left lucky mental patients as a burden on their families, while the less lucky ended on the streets or in police cells. However, the Blair/Brown government of 1997-2010 did nothing to rectify the situation, even though it had a massive majority in parliament and the benefit of a booming economy, which could easily have funded a relatively cheap social welfare programme. Although there is a tendency now to demonise Blair, it should be remembered that, electorally, he was the most successful Labour leader ever and that he was not a dictator – without the overwhelming support of the Labour Party, or, at least, the party in parliament, he could have done nothing.
Perhaps the answer is “a plague on both your houses”?
I have mentioned Oliver Tooley and his three time travel books before. I have just learnt that he has a Kickstarter project going to help him publish the first of what is projected to be a 9 volume series of children’s books set in a fantasised Iron Age Europe. Well written children’s books are vital to encourage children to start and continue reading, and, judging by his time travel books, Mr Tooley has the right touch. Mr Tooley is a local author, living in Ilfracombe, and deserves our support. A 9 volume series is an enormous undertaking, so let’s get him off to a good start and support him at
I have put my (small) money where my (big) mouth is and have pledged something. If you can afford it, please do the same. The deadline is 18th April.
This year’s Victorian celebration looks as though it is going to be the biggest and potentially most successful for ages, thanks to David Alexander, the volunteer artistic director, not to mention a bunch of enthusiastic volunteer helpers. The event was launched a week ago at the Lantern, where the programme was introduced. Harking back to earlier days, the programme is now free, although donations are welcome – like everything, it costs money to produce. The Victorian committee now has a much improved website – see ilfracombevictoriancelebration.co.uk, where you can also see the programme.
Now, I know that there are some folk in town who don’t much like the Victorian week, but the same could be said for most events in town. At least with this one, if you don’t like it, it’s pretty easy to ignore. I have also heard the view that the week is just an excuse for a small clique to dress up as toffs and ponce around town looking down their noses at the plebs. If that ever was true, it is not now. The Victorian committee is anxious to involve as many of the town as possible, as can clearly be seen from what they say in the programme. As for dressing up, you can be as elaborate or casual as you wish. For men, it is quite easy. A working class man would have worn baggy trousers, a shirt (collarless, if you can manage it; if not, don’t worry) open at the neck with a scarf or cravat and possibly a waistcoat. He would have worn a hat of some kind.
Women have it slightly more difficult since they have to wear very long skirts/dresses, which are unfashionable now, lest we men become uncontrollable at the sight of a well turned ankle. Calm down, gentlemen. I know it is a little risqué even to mention certain anatomical parts, but we are all adults here. I am told it is not too difficult to knock up a passable skirt from a suitable piece of material, but I suspect that this would not be one of my skills. In addition, a mobcap, which is readily obtainable or, again, allegedly easy to make.
Anyway, why not try – you might find you enjoy it. In any event, this is the sort of thing that keeps the tourists coming. Personally, my favourite bit is shouting sexist insults at the suffragettes. If I did it in any other context, Rita Clewes would probably beat me up, but here I can shout “Get back to the kitchen where you belong” and pretend I am only pretending!
I am always a little hesitant about commenting on court cases on the basis of a newspaper report. The case lasts hours, days or weeks, and the report, however detailed, can never cover all the points raised and may well fail to include matters crucial to the verdict or the sentence, especially when the report is just a few column inches long. However, sometimes, something leaps out at me. In this case, a young man was given a suspended sentence, a fine, community service and a driving ban for an accident in which an elderly lady was killed. I believe he was convicted of causing death by careless driving. There is a greater charge, which I believe is causing death by dangerous driving, which carries greater penalties, but I understand that the burden of proof is much greater. Anyway, I not infrequently read reports of this sort of incident, where an innocent passer-by is killed as a result of what is found to be careless driving, the driver walks away with a relatively minor punishment – often less than if (s)he had mugged the victim – and the victim’s family is left feeling that justice has not been done.
The knee-jerk reaction is to say that killing someone is such a serious matter that you should lock up the perpetrator and throw away the key, and, as a victim of a drunk driving a stolen SUV in America some time ago, I have considerable sympathy for this point of view. On the other hand, why should a person’s life be wrecked, as can often be the result of a prison sentence, simply because of what might be a moment’s inattention?
In a sad situation like this, it is impossible to come up with an answer that suits everyone, and, in any case, each case must be judged on its merits. However, my view, for what it’s worth, is that we currently tend too much towards leniency and that the penalty should be more severe, if only to encourage others to consider whether, at any particular day or hour, they are fit to drive. What do you think?
Last night I had dinner, for the first time in several years, at the Terrace Tapas. It has been under new management since the beginning of the year. However, not much has changed, presumably on the basis that, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The wine list is different – very few Spanish wines. I had a decent Chilean Chardonnay and a very pleasant New Zealand Pinot Noir. I also noted a NZ Sauvignon Blanc that I might well try next time. Still, a bit more of a Spanish influence would have been nice. From what I ate, two dishes stood out. One was patatas bravas – very garlicky and with a delightfully fresh tasting tomato sauce. The other was habitas con jamon, baby broad beans with garlic and Serrano ham. If you like broad beans, you would love this. If you haven’t been there recently, I suggest you give it a go.
If you look towards the top left of any page of this blog, and click the “Links” link, you will be taken to a page of links to useful sites having something to do with Ilfracombe. If any business, charity or other organisation would like to appear on this page, please let me know.
Finally, a plea to restauranteurs. Please put your opening times on the home page of your website if you have one or on your Facebook page. Since the opening times vary from season to season and change as a result of the individual judgement of each restaurant, no one can ever be sure whether a particular restaurant is or is not open. Judging by the number of times I see posts on Facebook asking about opening times, this must be a big problem to your customers.