The very first column I wrote for the North Devon Journal was almost three years ago – doesn’t time fly when you're having fun! In it I reported that Pearl and her family, who used to run the Muddiford Inn, had called it a day. I went on to say “It's not altogether surprising that Pearl, the proprietor, has decided to call it a day. It seems almost every year, the road past the Inn has been closed for road works. One year, during a 12 week closure, I'm told the Inn had just 4 customers. No business can continue like that. Even if the rest of the year's business is enough to cover the lost trade, the heart ache of sitting around for weeks on end waiting for customers who never come must be devastating.”.
Have you seen the new fence erected along the path above the fishermen’s stores in the harbour? It seems to have been put up, by NDDC, to prevent stuff being thrown onto the fishermen’s stores below. There are several problems with this. First, it is ugly and destroys one of the most scenic views in town. Second, I do not think it will achieve its aim – all it will do is encourage the vandals to throw higher. There must be better ways of saving the fishermen’s stores from vandals. What is more annoying is that no one in Ilfracombe seems to have been consulted, certainly not the town council. Why not? It is like a small child who has a bright idea and rushes off to do it without realising the damage that may result.
When I was a child, you rarely saw disabled people on the streets. OK, there would have been the occasional person on crutches, but rarely a wheelchair. Of course, in those days, there were no such things as electric wheelchairs, let alone mobility scooters, so any wheelchair user had either to propel themselves or, more likely, have someone to push them. But even then your problems were not over – crossing a road was an adventure, since there were no drop kerbs, and most shops and offices required you to go up or down a few steps to enter. Municipal buildings, and others with aspirations to grandeur, were often the worst, being entered by a short, but impressive-looking set of stairs.
Just over a year ago, I recommended to you Children of the Wise Oak by Oliver Tooley, an Ilfracombe author. Mr Tooley has now brought out its sequel, Women of the Wise Oak. These form the start of a projected 9 volume series. I imagine we will be seeing a Men of the Wise Oak, but I can't help wondering where Mr Tooley will go from there: Dragons of the Wise Oak?
Last weekend saw Sea Ilfracombe, the last, I believe, of our big community events until Christmas – if you know different, please tell me. I was unable to go on Saturday, when, so I heard, the event was very well attended, not surprising, given the good weather. Sunday dawned damp and dreary, but the rain cleared up and, by early afternoon, I thought it worth popping along. There were a fair number of people there as well as several stalls and, of course, the musicians. I wandered round and bought a couple of pasties, but a few spots of rain persuaded me to seek refuge in the car, a wise move, as the few spots soon multiplied. I hope that a good day on Saturday made up for what is suspect was not so good on Sunday.
Good news from the Landmark Café & Toilet: last weekend, I was at the Landmark, along with hordes of others, and I had the pleasure of meeting Kay. Kay was front of house manager under the old management and, of course, lost her job when that lot sunk ignominiously. Good news for her is that the new management offered her back the job she loved, an offer she obviously accepted, so she is now back in that role. It is good news for us, in that it is an indication of the thinking of the new management. However, there is even better news, in that they are planning a full theatrical programme from January! I look forward to the time when I can, once again, refer to the place as the Landmark Theatre!
Marcus Hutchins. An American friend has written “Marcus should not accept any plea offer if he is innocent. The charges are Federal Felonies. The prison time can be decades. The cost of his defense could easily be a million US dollars as this is a Federal Case in Federal Court and excellent defense is going to cost around a thousand dollars an hour for an experienced attorney.” Thanks, Jim. If you would like help fund his defence, the only way I am aware of is via the internet. Here is a link to the page accepting donations: https://secure.lawpay.com/pages/torekeland/hutchins-internationalldf.
It is quite unusual for a resident of Ilfracombe to make the national news, let alone the international news, and it is extremely rare for the same person to do so twice in a few months. Marcus Hutchins has achieved this rare feat. The first occasion was when Marcus stopped a very nasty virus that was threatening to do damage to computers throughout the world, including many NHS computers here in Britain. Then he was hailed as a hero.
The rather large headline on the front of last week’s Journal read “It’s time to make the link road safe”. Much as I hate to criticise the incredibly intelligent and exceptionally erudite editor of that magnificent organ, I would respectfully suggest that that headline would better read “It’s long past time to make the link road safe”!
I read an interesting little report last week. Apparently, people in the Southwest, i.e. you and me, not only give more to charity than anyone else in the UK, we also volunteer more than anyone else. Not altogether surprisingly, volunteering was most common in people over 65, as well as those classified as “economically inactive”, in other words, lazy old gits like me, or, to put it more politely, senior citizens, the retired. Not surprising since we obviously have more time to spare than someone younger who has to earn a living and possibly also has a young family to bring up. Nonetheless, in Ilfracombe, I suspect that we probably exceed even the Southwest generally, at least in volunteering, and we see volunteers of all ages.