Monday, April 26, 2004

No Jobz but Lotsa Yobz

Thanet is apparently leading the nation in its jobless figures for last month. It appears that 2,652 are unemployed in the area - I assume this doesn't include those with refugee status - and this represents 3.8% of the population.

The local Police plan shows that while car theft and assaults are down, criminal damage and burglary is up, the latter suspected of being fuelled by the drugs habit of young addicts and the former by the boredom of teenagers in a quiet seaside town. Mind you, I grew up here and boredom was a constant companion in the days before consumer electronics and cable television but other than jumping on hedges, we managed to keep out of trouble and sport was one way out of the problem.

Today, the kids may dress in head to foot Nike track wear but in most cases, many are too overweight or lazy or uninterested to try anything more strenuous than lobbing beer cans at cars.

The bored and perhaps unemployed decided to run amok on Friday and smash shop windows along Birchington's Station Road. Bring back the village Policeman.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Costa del Kent

An unseasonally warm and almost Mediterranean day today. Flat calm with a sea like glass and children swimming on the beaches as if it were mid-summer. If the temperature remains relative, then we may once again break new records in August. Why bother with Spain, the weather in Thanet may be much better?

The Stampe is almost ready for its first test flight from Maypole Farm. It's a remarkable work of art - you can see - and I can't express enough admiration for the skill that Brian and Terry have put into it.

Today, Bob Shilling and I went off to a village West of Kettering, to tow a banner around a wedding service. We had to be there at five O'Clock on the dot and we were, finally spotting the tiny village church and the bride outside at five hundred feet, with a two hundred foot banner streaming a romantic message behind us.

I suggested to the local radio station the other day, Thanet FM, that they might want to think of having a 'flying eye' in the air over the bank holidays to issue traffic reports on our congested roads. At some point this Summer I expect the island to grind to a halt under the sheer weight of cars.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Aerial Photography

Young Charlotte and I have decided that her photo results from the aircraft are so good that she’s going to try her first steps at aerial photography to earn pocket money. So if you want your house photographed from the air, anywhere in the North Kent triangle between Dover, North Foreland and Whitstable, let us know. Going rate is £25.00 to cover her fuel costs and only if 100% satisfied by the results.

Cathedrals photographed at no extra price.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Jet Ski - An Accident Waiting to Happen

I've just returned from a short kayak trip with my small daughter between St Mildred's Bay and West Bay. In Between and less than a hundred metres from the high tide mark, a jet ski launched from the latter bay circled us at speed and then stopped in response to my frantic arm waving.

Once upon a time I used to be a young lifeguard here in Thanet and I have to say that the bays between Minnis and Westbrook are no longer safe places to enjoy the water, as a consequence of the steadily increasing number of recklessly driven Jet Skis.

In this morning's example I reminded the rider that he should be five hundred metres away and yet he had no idea of the difference between the high tide and the low tide marks and possibly had no training, no insurance and only limited intelligence as he sped off with a final "You don't own the *** sea".

Forty metres away from this conversation, children were jumping off the promenade and swimming and perhaps I'm the only one old enough to remember the death of one child hit by an exhibitionist in a speedboat in the same bay.

I'll put Thanet District Council's water safety department on notice. An accident is waiting to happen unless some control is exercised over the increasingly reckless jetski population. Placing signs up telling them where they can and cannot launch is not good enough, as much like the ban on using mobile phones while driving, people in this area will ignore it.

Jetski's operating in the tourist areas between Birchington and Margate are a menace. They are noisy and they are dangerous and they need to be kept offshore and away from small boats, canoes and most of all, swimmers.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Tilting at Maypole

I notice that the road through the village of Hoath has sprouted a couple more fluorescent orange posters protesting against "Commercial Development of Maypole Airfield".

It's probably time that the airfield owner fought back with equally colourful arguments with headlines such as "Completely Daft" or "Absolute Rubbish". In fact, he's put a poster up outside his own home protesting against the planned development of his own airstrip, which illustrates how ridiculous this campaign against the non-existent along Hoath's high street is.

You might think that people would have more sense and might even want to find out what's true and what's not? In this case however, they appear quite happy to tilt at windmills, like the celebrated and mildly insane Spanish knight, Don Quixote.

Seems rather silly behaviour from adults from where I sit.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Above the Below

Baghdad, Basra, Birchington and Falluja. I saw them all today from my aircraft window at thirty thousand feet and I have to confess that Southern Iraq is not the prettiest place on earth from above. Below, with a fierce battle raging against the Medhi army of Mullah Sadr, it must be much worse and a week in the region has convinced me that this fight represents a clash of cultures and beliefs which is expressed violently and openly in Iraq and simmers politely below the surface elsewhere.

Arriving at Heathrow after an uneventful but packed flight from Kuwait, I found myself quite visibly in the minority in the immigration queue for 'British Passport Holders'. Is that a multi-culturally incorrect thought I wonder or simply a sign of the times?

Still, arriving home on the Kent coast eight hours after having left the heat and dust of Kuwait City, leaves one feeling a little disoriented.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Margate, European City of Culture 2004

£20 million that is apparently the predicted total cost of opening a Turner Centre ( £7 million for the building) with no Turner paintings in the seaside town of Margate, better known for its amusement arcades and the Dreamland amusement park (now closed) than for any notable appreciation of art.

Ironically, Turner painted many of his most famous sunset scenes on this stretch of the Kent coastline and on many evening during the year, one can understand why as they can be breathtaking as the sun descends into the sea in the West.

A Cunning Plan?

Why the fiscally challenged planners at Kent County Council in conjunction with Thanet Council, believe that opening a gallery in a famous artist’s name, with none of his paintings on display, will suddenly transform Margate into a cultural Mecca and attract hordes of cultural day-trippers is anyone’s guess. It’s all rather like the fiasco of positioning the Royal Armouries in Leeds and not London with the net result that it’s losing money hand over fist because nobody wishes to visit Leeds when it’s cheaper and easier to visit sites such as the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao.

On the opposite side of the bay to the new Turner centre is the once and still famous Nayland Rock Hotel. In another century it was an exclusive home for the privileged tourist visiting the popular seaside Margate resort. Today, it’s a processing centre for refugees, mostly dispossesed Africans and Iraqis, who have injected an unwanted multicultural theme on an already disadvantaged area of the country, which goes a long way to explain the activities of the British National Party in Margate.

£20 million pounds for the Turner Centre means higher poll tax bills for the local population, already double that I paid in London last year and £20 million wasted, when it could have been put to much better use on other schemes, such as revitalising the crumbling façade of Margate seafront or knocking down the clock tower traffic lights; another on of the council's universally despised "bright ideas".

What comes next I wonder, the "Hanging Gardens of Cliftonville"?

If I want culture, then I’ll visit the Turner exhibition at the Tate Gallery and if I want noise, lager and fish and chips then I’ll visit Margate. Anyway and if I’m right, Turner painted many of his scenes further West in the village of Birchington, a home to many well-know artists of the 19th century, so perhaps the council should start building there instead!

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Busy Busy

Monday of next week starts with a magical mystery tour of the Middle East, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar on a Microsoft speaking tour before returning on Good Friday.

The Weblog has been a little quiet recently as I’ve been buried under research work. With luck, I’ll find something a little more profound to comment on the long flight home from Kuwait.

Meanwhile, I received a surprise circular through my door from The British National Party (BNP). With strong resentment against Government immigration policy in this part of Kent, it looks as if they are increasing their efforts in the area, which has seen its fair share of BNP marches along Margate seafront.

I very much doubt that the BNP will prove more than an irritation to the larger political parties but their presence and what appears to be a tacit and growing support for some of their policies should alarm a Government that appears quite ready to turn a blind eye to the public’s fears over uncontrolled immigration.