THE TIMES, THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’
And yet, as the law gets more tolerant, it seems that some of our people are becoming less so. Xenophobia seems to be on the increase, the more so since the Brexit vote. It is particularly unpleasant when, as has happened recently, Polish citizens are involved. Many Poles fled to Britain when Poland was invaded at the beginning of the second World War, and many of these fought, and died, for Britain as part of our armed forces. I think most people would agree that some form of immigration control is necessary, but this does not mean we need regard foreigners as in some way inferior. Shakespeare put the argument eloquently into Shylock’s mouth:
“Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”
Did you see the carnival procession? If not, you missed quite a spectacle. Well done to the Ilfracombe Lions for organising it and well done, too, to all the participants. The Lions seem to have managed to get most of the many different organisations in town involved which undoubtedly added to the variety and fun. There were too many to name them all, but some that stuck in my mind were the young ladies dressed as, I think, Egyptian priestesses, the Victorians (some magnificent dresses on the ladies), the spoof on Top Gear, the theatre troops (one was A Christmas Carol, I can't remember what the other was), the fire fighters….. Sadly, I didn’t see the prize-giving, so I don’t know who the winners were, but I reckon that most of the entrants could easily have won. The judges must have had a hard task.
One of the great things about this town is the willingness of so many people to put on and participate in events for the enjoyment of others. One of the less attractive things is the number of people who do nothing for the events but who then criticise what was done. Now I am not trying to suggest that everyone should get involved – we all have different priorities and different abilities and, for many, family and work make it impossible. However, if you are not involved in these things, you probably have little idea of the problems, and even less idea of what is available for getting things done. Even a constructive suggestion may not be much help if it amounts to requiring more work from the volunteers. For example, it has often been said of events that they should be better publicised. Most get publicised on printed media – not much use if you don’t read it – or on electronic social media – not much use if you don’t have a computer. And it’s not much use suggesting that there should be posters in all shops and B&Bs if the organisation hasn’t the foot soldiers necessary for the tiring and time-consuming task of slogging door to door.
So, if you have any bright ideas, try to see if you can also spend a little time to help put them into practice!
Good to see both our local MPs, Geoffrey Cox and Peter Heaton-Jones, come out in support of the “There are red lines” campaign. But, please, if you haven’t yet written to them, do so now. The more they realise how important this is to our whole community, the more likely they are to stand up against any attempt to cut services. Remind them that voting Conservative will not protect you from becoming a drooling idiot if you suffer a severe stroke and it takes too long to get you to hospital because Barnstaple A&E has shut or no longer provides the necessary services!
The following appeared on the BBC News website a while back:
Sally Gainsbury, senior policy analyst with the [Nuffield] trust, said many of the plans at the moment appeared to be proposing shifting or shutting services.
"Our research finds that, in a lot of these kinds of reconfigurations, you don't save very much money - all that happens is the patient has to go to the next hospital down the road.
"They're more inconvenienced... but it rarely saves the money that's needed."
If reports I have just been reading are to be believed, we have support from a most surprising direction. Mr David Cameron, yes, the former prime minister. It seems that he said “Local mums want to have their babies in their local hospital. While a midwife-led unit can achieve great things, it won’t be able to look after all mothers’ needs. The importance of this service to local people is very clear to see from the public outpouring of concern at the temporary suspension.”
Talk about a Damascene conversion! I do hope he passes these thoughts on to his successor and to Mr Jeremy Hunt, who, he might need reminding, he originally appointed as health secretary.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the appointment of ambassadors to promote the interests of three North Devon towns, Barnstaple, South Molton and Ilfracombe. I queried why a Fremington man, Mr Rodney Cann, had been appointed to promote the interests of Ilfracombe. This week, we see the ubiquitous Mr Cann in a grand photo in the Journal promoting the interests of, you’ve guessed it, Fremington!!!!
I am speechless!
The story is about a plan to rejuvenate a building in Fremington using a pot of money which North Devon has been given to revive the economies of Lynton & Lynmouth, Fremington, Barnstaple and Ilfracombe. If it comes to deciding between Fremington and Ilfracombe for some of that limited pot of money, which worthy cause do you think “our” Mr Cann will support, us or his constituents in Fremington? I wouldn’t give much for our chances, would you?
I have nothing against Fremington – it’s a nice place, and one of my daughters lives there. However, I do think that Ilfracombe is entitled to be represented by someone who we can believe will put our interests first.
I mentioned at the beginning that I had been rather occupied with various things recently. One was that, in the run-up to a significant birthday, I went out to dinner at local restaurants four days running! The first, on Friday, was to the Tyme restaurant at Trimstone Manor. You may have heard that this was the occasion for an agency chef to take over the kitchen for the pilot show of a television reality programme. Assuming the show gets broadcast, there is a small possibility that my comments on the meal might be included – my 15 seconds of fame! If I hear anything, I will try to let you know.
I had been told that the agency chef was intended to be at Tyme for three days, so, when I went back on Sunday, I was expecting to have my meal cooked by him. However, it turned out that he and the television crew had decamped after just two nights, and so the cooking was left in the capable hands of Charlie, the apprentice chef. In all honesty, I not only enjoyed the meal on Sunday more than that on Friday, but I also thought it was much better balanced. If Charlie continues in this vein, he will go far. Meanwhile, I hope the owners of Trimstone will let Charlie do a bit more and encourage his further development.
On Saturday, I went to The Habit. I mentioned recently that they have closed Hancock’s restaurant, which is a loss to the town. However, they continue to serve meals (the so-called bar menu), but much simpler cooking than when Hancock’s was open. It was good to see that they still had the same waiting staff and wine list, including my favourite, a Greek Viognier.
Finally, on Monday, I went to 71, one of my all-time favourite restaurants, started with a pea, broad bean and asparagus risotto, then fillet steak, and finished with summer pudding. Very nice.
According to a report in the Western Morning News, Dorset is the best place for pensioners, in terms of quality of life. Devon comes in fourth place, which is really quite good. Certainly, I feel I am happier here than I would have been were I to have remained in London. However, one of the criteria for quality of life is access to healthcare, so I can see our position slipping a long way if the NHS plans for Barnstaple come to fruition.
Unless I have forgotten anything, the next big event in town is the Christmas Lighting of the Lights on 25th November. The Combe Christmas committee is working hard to make this the best Christmas ever, but, as ever, they need money and help. If you can give either, get in touch. You can contact me or Steve Trebble who is the chairman of the committee. Last year’s High Street Lighting of the Lights was the best and most popular I can recall, but let’s make this one even better.