Saturday, October 27, 2012

Blown Away

It's a pretty awful morning outside and along the seafront, difficult to remain upright in the howling north-easterly wind, which is busy blowing the wheelie-bins around my back yard.

I've had to move my aircraft to Manston this week because of the bad weather but it's presently tied-down with concrete blocks to prevent it flying away on its own and in this wind, it would.

The last few days have proved a bit of a trial. We managed to get a banner flying to celebrate the Royal British Legion poppy appeal over Shoreham airport on Thursday, in very marginal weather and I'm trying very hard to get a marriage proposal flight done for one client, who returns to Afghanistan on Friday. The weather has already put an end to two attempts; one of these this morning, so third-time lucky I hope. I would hate for him to have to return to duty without having been able to 'pop-the-question' to his partner as he's been planning for several months now, emailing me from Camp Bastion.

I'm not going to be around to 'Blog' next week and so I'm declaring a short intermission.  In the meantime, the No10 petition over the future of Manston airport closes in just under two weeks and if you wish to add your own name to it, please follow the link here.

If you happen to live in Westgate, then Molly's Bar has its re-launch this evening at 7pm and I hope to be able to pop-in to support it.

Michael Child has beaten me this year, to putting-up the local schools A Level results and they make interesting if not sobering reading. With a personal interest in local education, what immediately springs to my attention are those of the Ursuline College in Westgate in contrast with previous years and particularly with the Charles Dickens School in Broadstairs.

That's all for now, if I can think of anything else, beyond Tony Flaig's surprise announcement that he's given-up on BigNews Margate and the more obvious dangers of leaving the loose Labour and TIG coalition in charge of our local finances and with this the collective misery of an anticipated Council tax increase next year, I will add more later.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Repel Boarders

With Sainsbury's, now temporarily retired to lick its wounds after the Council's refusal to support its plans to build a supermarket on the Canterbury Road in Westgate, next-door to the Ursuline College, it looks as if residents and traders in the town also plan a campaign to repel plans for a Tesco Metro in Station Road.

Seaplane at Pav's Cafe
Just to recap, this is an application for the erection of a two storey retail unit at the Former Goods Yard, Station Road, registered under application number F/TH/12/0769.

I was asked to call the application in to the Planning Committee this month. Local traders have been busy, working-up a petition, which was delivered to Thanet District Council yesterday and which in total, included 466 letters, whilst the petition has around 2,000 signatories. The planning officer informs me: "These have not, however, been counted and the numbers cannot therefore be verified."

I'm aware, from the regular Residents' Association meetings, that there's a wider range of different opinions surrounding whether we should or should not have a Tesco Metro in the town. Even Sir Roger Gale, our Thanet North MP, emailed me from the Ukraine today, asking for a conversation on the subject, as he has also been lobbied on the subject, receiving letters and emails from local people.

Clearly, local traders and as many as 2,000 signatories wish to challenge the development for the land opposite Beano's cafe but I would like to invite readers to have their say here about the project and whether they think that it's a good idea to put the Co-Op under pressure or as I've warned, it may set a precedent for development in Westgate's already embattled conservation area.

When it comes before the Planning Committee, for decision, most likely in December, as the ward councillor requested to represent the objectors, I need to make a short speech which will neatly summarise, why we should not have a Tesco in our town. Obviously, parking is a significant issue and a potential objection from Kent County Council, as I see absolutely no space for delivery lorries to park-up and we've seen already, the often dangerous parking chaos, caused over at Westbrook, through the recent arrival of the Tesco Metro there.

So, is this a step forward for the town or do you object to the building of a Tesco Metro in Westgate and if not, please let me know why. Much like Sainsbury's, any objections have to be valid in planning law because personal opinion on the company or competition carries no weight.

I've also added the poster for next month's neighbourhood engagement meeting with the police, opposite, for those who might wish to come.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Shaz is Back

By popular demand, 'Shaz' is back (see photo) but I actually wanted to write a short comment on the Police & Crime Commissioner elections coming-up on 15th November.

From the news today, Sunday papers and TV, it's pretty clear that most of the population haven't the foggiest idea what the elections are all about and it's quite likely that the new commissioner, when elected, may stimulate the lowest political turn-out in modern history and may not actually hold a democratic mandate for the role, if people don't vote.

If you are still vague about the Commissioner's powers, I am too, then here's a useful link.

What people really want is not the politicisation of policing warned-of by Sir Ian Blair but real control of local policing priorities beyond the power to hire and fire Chief Constables.

David Cameron is expected to make a 'Tough on Crime' speech this week but if we are brutally honest, it's very difficult to be sent to prison for anything less than murder or tax evasion these days. From local experience, £30,000 worth of Benefit Fraud can deliver a suspended sentence and a £5.00 a week fine and I have real concerns over some of our young tearaways who are moving through the revolving door of the criminal justice system, with crimes steadily becoming more serious after each suspended sentence. I know that the police often feel the same way.

Here in Thanet, it's very obvious what people want from their policing and the courts and I have written about it before. Leaving aside the curses of domestic violence, vandalism and anti-social behaviour which blight some areas, people want a restriction on the large number of registered sex-offenders housed on the island and the same applies to serious juvenile offenders in care (a local cottage industry). Add to this the probation service sending their newly-released clients to cheap rented accommodation in well-known and deprived wards around the island, with no hope of finding employment.

None of this lies within the remit of the Police or the new Police & Crime Commissioner who exists to replace the local Police Authority make the Police more democratically accountable and performance-oriented and place 'Key Decisions' in the hands of the public. Except that the public clearly don't know what these key decisions are and what powers the new Commissioner actually has to implement them.

However, I do hope that readers will exercise their democratic right to vote for a candidate in the hope, at least, that the improvements promised by Government, will arrive as a consequence.

Finally, another word about Facebook and discretion. I trust our Council Leader had an enjoyable holiday in Taipei, China appearing quite popular as a destination of choice for our local politicians. At a time when local people are taking-out record pay-day loans, one should, I believe, really be a little more circumspect or even conservative, with holiday snaps on Facebook. I was passed one of these today but I've decided not to put it online as it might offend and today's photo of 'Shaza' the pet store dog, is a lot more amusing, I'm sure!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Portas Presence

I've been in Margate this morning, seeing what's happening with Mary Portas filming in the town today and opening two more shops, as well as a promotional effort to turn the lower High Street into a pier attraction.

Mary Portas Filming in Margate
Mary was surrounded by photographers and a film crew. I'm not quite sure what the collective noun is for media 'Luvvies,' not a flock I'm sure but someone is bound to tell me. Here are a few of my photos and the remainder are up on Flickr.

I  thought it was a lost opportunity to put an aircraft with a banner overhead for a little filming impact but of course, I'm biased. was delighted to see that new shops are now opening on the sea front near Primark, to add to the pizzeria. At this rate of progress, we'll have a thriving new look to Marine Parade within two years, despite the recession and great credit goes to everyone involved in making this possible, Mary Portas and the hard-working Town Team included.

If you have a chance today, pop down and have a look but watch-out for the traffic wardens. Really positive activity of this kind around the town is something to be pleased about. Margate was chosen as one of 27 "Portas pilot" areas to receive part of a £1.2m government funding to rejuvenate the High Street.

I've added one of my aerial photographs of Margate Old Town. You can find a direct link to my aerial photo library on this weblog's sidebar links.

Finally, I've created a little Margate cameo, a photo montage here.

Poppy Saturday

It's 'Poppy Saturday' here in Westgate on Sea this morning and you can see that the 'Hambidge Hound', Bobby the Spaniel, will be out once again, collecting for the Poppy Appeal, one of our oldest and most popular national charities supportin teh men and women of our armed forces.

I have a Royal British Legion air display booked at Shoreham airport next Thursday and the forecast for the week ahead is looking promising.

Just to remind readers for their diaries, Remembrance Sunday falls on 11th November this year and if you live in Westgate, the procession from St Saviour's Church to the War Memorial in Sea Road is scheduled to begin at 11:30 am.

I'm out with my dog now to buy a poppy and may see you in the town.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Even More Bananas

The rather long-winded Council inquiry into this weblog will shortly grind to its conclusion. With no public expense spared by our present administration, an independent external investigator has been retained, statements taken, web sites trawled and several small trees sacrificed for paper.

So for the sake of readers' amusement, if nothing more, I thought that in advance of going out to buy today's Thanet Gazette, just to see if Smudger is really dead after all, I would once again, run the Woody Allen video clip which lay behind the story causing so much furore and complaint earlier in the year.

Satire, in any form, directed particularly at local councillors, is about as welcome in Thanet as criticism of Vladimir Putin in Moscow's now deceased equivalent of Private Eye. Any loose but unrelated reference or reader comment in this weblog to subjects involving alcohol, senility, incompetence, megalomania, allowances or simply political insanity - see video clip - may, by Council diktat soon need to be replaced by properly approved expressions.Among them, warm, cuddly, diverse, astute,vibrant  intelligent and of course generous. 'Sober' may be regarded as pejorative in any context and any mention of Sasha Baron Cohen may be unacceptable.

I should add though that if this weblog were to be edited by the mysterious and missing Mr Fox, then of course, I could simply wash my hands of any responsibility for the content, however potentially offensive, as a 'blogging' councillor.

So watch this space in a couple of weeks once the Inquisition has completed its task and arrived at its proper verdict but best not ask who sits on the jury.

A little later.... I'm wrong! The Gazette's Smudger is not dead or not even resting but still smarting from my carpetbagging of the Thanet Times Web title, has instead been busy preparing a clever riposte. I must admit, it does become a little tedious correcting her about technology, as the Thanet Gazette, only quite recently, did away with the typewriter. This time, it's a sarcastic poke at my Twitter feed, seen opposite @simon Moores for having only a modest 223 followers.

Lots of people can have lots of followers on Twitter. Lady Gaga has over a million and Homer Simpson even more I'm told. However, what counts most in social media circles is not the quantity but the influence, quality or reflected reach of one's followers. This could be one's KLOUT score or the number of re-tweets; the size of the audience reached by one's Tweets as rated in Crowdbooster. As an unusual example, one of my own 'Tweet's this week reached 30,000 people.

So Smudger, I'm afraid that beyond becoming a little obsessive, this is yet another 'fail' on your part so you really are going to have to try harder!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Full Employment

News of the country's record employment figures were greeted today, by the latest successful work-experience applicant at Westgate's pet supplies store in Station Road.

It's a real pleasure to be served by friendly and furry staff with an in-depth knowledge of the cornucopia of goods on display.

If I had one small remark to make on the service, it's that he swiftly ate the small dried sausage I had bought as a treat for my own old blind dog, the moment I put it on the counter, to pay for it; temptation obviously proving too much for him.

Tonight, it's the Council's planning committee and the application for a micro-pub on the Lymington Road is on the agenda. I will let readers know the result, when it's finished, later this evening. (result.. back to planning officers for conditions and then back again for further approval. So a score draw this evening! James Maskell's report is here.

As requested, I've 'called'-in the application for a Tesco Metro store in Station Road and I'm told this is likely now to come before the planning committee in December for decision. In the interim, as you will see from the poster below, Halloween is coming!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Age and Ageing

Lots of media discussion this morning, surrounding the Macmillan Cancer warning over the enormous strain that the NHS will soon face from treating breast-cancer in its ageing population. It predicts that nearly 1.7 million will be coping with the illness by 2040; three times as many as today

Simultaneously, the Nuffield Trust warns that the total cost of looking after dying patients is nearly £5 billion a year, with two thirds of the bill being passed to the NHS.

Quite obviously, we are all worried by the strains the health service is facing and of late, several politically-motivated individuals have been running a busy disinformation campaign on the future of the QEQM in Margate. To reassure my own readers, I've attached the latest information, in the form of a letter from the Hospital Trust's Chief Executive, Stuart Bain, to our Thanet MPs, Roger Gale and Laura Sandys.

Back to the point of today's column then, which is that it's up to all of us, to make a conscious effort to stay fit and healthy as the collective beneficiaries of the world's finest health system.

Last month, I watched a BBC programme on health and ageing, Presented by Dr Michael Mosley and followed some of its more radical suggestions on diet and exercise. The result has been a personal weight loss of 9 kilos and higher overall fitness.

As a former endurance athlete, it's not that I was unfit in the first place and I know from my regular and rigorous CAA pilot's medical that my own physical age is a good ten years less than my actual age. I simply wanted to get back control of my weight before I became any older, as I have a sweet tooth, which forces my wife to hide any chocolate in the house.

What has surprised me is how little I have to eat to remain stable, in contrast to how much junk I used to eat, with days where one can eat what one likes and days where carbohydrates are tightly restricted; I've even halved my modest alcohol consumption. The big question though is can I keep this self-imposed asceticism up indefinitely?

If you happen to be my age, in your mid-fifties and are relatively fluent with the controls of a PlayStation or an X-Box, you will also notice, when playing popular games like Modern Warfare 3 online against teenagers, that fading reaction speed makes it quite impossible to go head to head with the younger players who at times appear to be moving around at an impossible blur of virtual speed. It can be deeply frustrating and the only viable strategy to win points is age and cunning, through setting tactical traps. That said, games like Chess and even the X-box which demand extreme concentration, will slow the effects of ageing on the brain, as does exercise for the muscles.

There are some brutal truths about the ageing brain, once we start to go through middle-age; slowing of speech and loss of memory being the most measurable and seen at its worst in some politicians I can think of. By the time we reach the age of seventy, our brain mass has shrunk back to the equivalent of a six-year-old child, reportedly losing almost two thirds of its mass, with the principal casualty areas being those closely linked to memory and coordination. Living here in Thanet, one sees the results on the roads almost daily with drivers, who are no longer safe. One basic test is to see how long you can stand on one leg with your eyes closed. If you are in your twenties, fifteen seconds wouldn't be unusual but we become older it becomes more and more difficult to hold the one-legged pose for more than a few seconds; one reason perhaps that Tai Chi is so popular among the elderly population in China.

It all sounds great, I'm sure but typing away here, I've developed a sudden craving for a chocolate croissant, the negative effects of which could quite possibly cost the NHS £100,000 in twenty years time.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Past and Present

St Clements Hotel 2012
Westgate-on-Sea, in its heyday, was famous for many of its buildings and the characters that once lived in or visited the little seaside town in the early part of the 20th century.

The St Clements hotel is still standing on the corner of Westgate Bay Avenue and Sea Road and here's a then and now look at the building for readers with an historical and architectural interest.

When you think of former glories and the trees that once lined its streets, it's difficult to resist the sense of nostalgia. I'm reminded of the film of HG Wells 1895 novel, 'The Time Machine'  which would have provided a fascinating setting for the town from the Edwardian days to the present, where we are frequently attempting to make time stand still and resist the advances of developers, intent on building more tall, square, retirement blocks to change the face of a once familiar and much loved seafront scene.

St Clements Hotel early 1900s

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Best Laid Plans

It's a grey and rather miserable Friday morning and before I have to go flying and hopefully find some sunshine on top of the cloud-cover, here's a little Westgate news.

Westgate Paper
This morning's Thanet Gazette majors on residents' opposition to the plans for a micropub in Lymington Road. (F/TH/12/0674) Apparently their political champion is Labour's Cllr Jodie Hibbert.

Cllr Iris Johnston is making a habit of standing-up at the monthly residents meetings, to apologise for the absent and 'Hard-working'Westgate councillor, who is reportedly very busy being Mayoress of Margate. This might be embarrassing if it weren't funny! The Gazette, known for the 'forensic quality' of its investigative journalism, has missed the fact that this planning application is now in it's second incarnation the first being kicked into touch by residents, represented, to set the record straight, by me, in July.

It's coming-up again next Wednesday at the Planning Committee for public speaking and strangely enough, it's me again, representing the residents and traders, with a 200+ supporting petition, the second time around. Readers may wonder at the lengths our local paper is now going to in its efforts to airbrush me out of the local news wherever possible.

Local people will already be aware of the advanced but controversial plans to build a Tesco Metro in Westgate's Station Road, opposite Beano's cafe. After seeing-off Sainburys on the Canterbury Road, at least temporarily I have been asked by concerned local traders to call this one into the planning committee for debate. The new Tesco Metro in Westbrook, which is causing visible parking chaos and road-safety issues, is raising concerns here in Westgate and to be frank, I have to agree with them. While I quite understand that many people wish to see the Co-Op having some real price competition and extra choice for local people, I am worried that building a new Tesco will set a development precedent along the southern side of Station Road, which is out of keeping with the town's history and conservation status. I would value opinions here and you will find a petition, should you wish to sign it, in several of the local shops.

I have to go to work now, so more later perhaps. Today's local aggregated 'Thanet Times' newspaper can be found here.

Footnote: I'm delighted that after persistent intervention with council officers, one of our more colourful local residents, who had been making neighbours' lives absolute hell over a period of time, has now been moved away and is reportedly receiving the proper 'support' required from the authorities. Westgate enjoys the unfortunate reputation of having a small local concentration of mental health and dependency issues but what the authorities don't see is the negative impact that this can have on the surrounding community.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Spitfire at Sywell

It's been a fabulous Autumn day and I've been working from Sywell aerodrome outside Northampton, where they were busy having some kind of corporate day, a two-seat Spitfire and the 'Blades' display team included.

I had a personal banner to display up near Junction 20 of the M1, about 18 miles from Sywell and was surprised to discover a giant windmill farm, adjacent to the target, which doesn't appear on any CAA charts. This just illustrates how fast these things are springing-up, like giant mushrooms, all over the countryside and faster than they can be marked as a hazard to low-flying aircraft like mine.

Anyway, here's another Spitfire photo for enthusiasts and the video I shot this afternoon. Apparently this is not Caroline Grace's two seater but the new one based at Duxford. It still gave an impressive display, with the characteristic throaty growl of its Rolls Royce Merlin engine.
Spitfire at Sywell

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Westgate Community Centre Survey

I was at last night's public meeting of the Westgate Community Centre, with KCC councillor Robert Burgess, where the future of the building was discussed and you can find this and other local news stories in your local virtual paper here.

Westgate Community Centre
Clearly, at the very least, it needs urgent renovation and ideally a totally new building. In the present financial climate, the latter may be over-optimistic but certainly and with help from the local community and local business, I'm sure that some kind of renovation is a possibility.

What we need to understand first is how the public are using it and what they want from it? It's already used for a broad range of activities from pre-school classes to adult yoga but if the committee are going to search for sponsors and approach the likes of Thanet Council to seek support, then they need a proper business plan for the future.

I offered to put-up a short survey from the one distributed last night and if you live in Westgate, I would be grateful if you could complete it to help build a better picture of how the centre is perceived and used locally.

If you are able to offer help, please either send me an email or visit the centre's Facebook page.

WCC free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, Community Centre Survey.

Today's edition of your local online paper can be found here.

Monday, October 08, 2012

There Must be an Answer

If you live in Westgate, don't forget there's not only the monthly meeting of the WWRA this evening at 7pm at Westbrook Bowls Club but a second meeting at the Westgate Community Centre at 8pm to discuss its future, and I will try and attend both.

Misty Olympic Site
Police Inspector Impey wrote to me on Friday, to let me know that following our recent meeting, he will be placing some extra resource into Westgate, to address the prevailing anti-social concerns. I'm sure that vandals  setting our much-loved cricket club ablaze, was a good enough reason for me to labour the point that we needed rather more support from our local Police service than we may have been receiving of late.

As I've written here before, I quite understand, that with examples of murder and mayhem now happening in Margate and Cliftonville on what appears to be an almost regular basis, scarce Police resources are focused very much on dealing with community problems in key areas, which have been thrust upon us. We have several characters here in Westgate, who are passing through the fast revolving door of our criminal justice system, with little or no sanction and who are giving me cause for concern. Perhaps this is something the new Police Commissioner can address but without the cooperation of the courts, communities like our own, have good reason to have little faith in our overloaded criminal justice system to find a vigorous and effective answer  to a pervasive and prevailing problem in society today.

On a lighter note, I was at Wolverhampton yesterday, flying over a wedding reception and here's the video if you are interested. An RAF friend of mine noticed I was at Halfpenny Green airfield from my Twitter feed and you can see he joined me in his Christen Eagle to add a little extra punch to the display for the couple below. I tried to take a photo of the Olympic site with a London background on the way north but it didn't come out well as you can see. Visibility was very poor first thing.

Finally, today's aggregated Thanet virtual newspaper can be found here.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

A Daily Thanet Newspaper

For readers who prefer a newspaper look and feel to their local news, I'm working on an aggregated daily view of  all Thanet's news sources into a single digital broadsheet. It's still 'work in progress' but if you like it, let me know.

It's updated every day at 8am and you can find it here if you wish to bookmark it.

Westgate Heritage Centre Re-launch

Westgate 1872
I've been at the re-launch of the Westgate-on-Sea Heritage Centre this morning, at St Saviour's Church.

For readers unfamiliar with the project, the Centre aims to tell the story of Westgate on Sea, a unique Victorian development, from 1865 the year when the first houses were built to the present. Today, it's founder, Dr Dawn Crouch handed it over to a new working committee of volunteers, whilst retaining her role of Consultant Historian and Honorary Curator.

I have uploaded three old maps from 1872, 1898 and 1936 to illustrate some of the dramatic changes that took place in a relatively short period of time. If you expand the photos, you can see that Roman remains were found on the site of what is now the remains of the St Mildreds hotel.

Westgate 1898
The event was well attended and I met Clr Iris Johnston and Cllr Tom King among others. Sir Roger Gale, just back from Georgia, in his role of a parliamentary election monitor, made a short speech and lit the candle on the celebratorycake. In fact, it was more of a Roman Candle!

I collected some photographs along the way to share.

Westgate 1936
Sir Roger Gale Lights the Cake

Friday, October 05, 2012


The pallid corpse of local journalism was not even cold, before the dastardly 'Biggles' had grabbed the Thanet Times lifeless and still-twitching web-address; resurrecting the poor mad creature, like a ghastly digital version of Frankenstein, to taunt the demoralised and dyslexic hacks, tapping away at their ageing typewriters at Margate's Gazette towers.

Not even the  Editor's desperate offer of appearing topless on page three, as part of a squalid Naked in Thanet,  photoshoot, outside the Turner Centre, had not been enough to save The Thanet Times from its own dwindling popularity and thinly-developed editorial.

If any consolation exists, outside the barely disguised irritation at the editor's lack of foresight in missing the 'bleeding obvious' in registering the paper's domain name for their own company, it's that the English language has been saved for another day; they only had 116 years to get around to it!

Verbs and nouns and even simple grammar, can now breathe a sigh of relief, together with the newspaper's former readers, as it migrates to a better and bolder online world; waiting patiently for the Thanet Gazette to join it in the grave.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

The Westgate Time Machine

From Michael's Bookshop excellent reprint of "Westgate-on- Sea - Descriptive Booklet and Official Guide," let me remind readers of times past, when Westgate could "claim to have a perfect system of drainage, a constant supply of pure water and an efficient lighting system, which are essential items towards success in a high-class watering place."

At the time, early in the last century, vistors would have been pleased to hear that: "No hawkers, barrel organs, etc, are allowed within the precincts of the town. In fact no one is allowed to disturb the quiet seclusion that reigns."

Times change and not always for the better, as we are only too well aware here in Thanet. You'll observe the trees, lining the streets in the photograph,  for which Westgate was well-known.

There's a presentation on Westgate's history by Dawn Crouch at the heritage centre at St Saviour's Church, this coming Saturday at 10:30 for those readers interested in re-visiting the town's distinguished history.

Westgate on Sea - Early 1900s

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Goodbye - Hello Thanet Times

Michael Child reports the demise of The Thanet Times over on his weblog this morning, and the writing has been on the wall - see opposite - for a long time, as the internet steadily overtakes the popularity of local printed media and advertising revenues.

That said, I've rescued the top-level domain, and after a short period of virtual mourning for the title, that first started in 1896, The Thanet Times will be resurrected here with perhaps a new look to match.

Moving-on, I'm sure all my readers are waiting for Ed Miliband's conference speech today, as the Labour leader seeks to show that he is indeed Prime Ministerial material and a better choice than his better-looking big brother and not simply a character from Wallace and Grommit's 'The Wrong Trousers.'

Monday, October 01, 2012

Happy October 1st

Wing Walker Stearman
I'm being asked if I can provide the same dot matrix sky writing that was seen in this weekend's Ryder Cup and the short answer is firmly "No.' Among the reasons are enormous expense and airspace restrictions that would prevent it happening over most of Britain's urban landscape. In the States, for those of you who have watched, 'Flying Wild Alaska,' they don't have the same problems and you can event take a flight to downtown New York and look at the gap left by the Twin Towers.

Meanwhile, looking out of my window as I work on my Fujitsu presentation for London this week, there's little doubt that October has arrived and in a few short weeks it will be dark in time for Halloween and the BBC evening news.

I'm particularly disappointed in Andrew Marr's BBC History of the World at the moment, described by one newspaper review as a mix of 'Mangled Wreck' and 'Hollywood Schlock'. I had hoped that an ambitious production of this kind would be up to the highest BBC standards but instead discovered the childrens' 'Horrible Histories' pays rather more attention to historical detail and fact. I was so annoyed yesterday that I turned it off after forty minutes as I couldn't bear to watch his trite and very-much 'dumbed-down'  account of the Persian Wars and the campaigns of Alexander the Great any longer. This kind of production the BBC should leave firmly to Michael Wood and concentrate instead on East Enders and Holby City.