|Jackson's Garage Westgate on Sea|
There's a great deal been said in recent days over the myths that now surround the 'Iron Lady.' Few people know or even wish to know that Harold Wilson closed more pits than Margaret Thatcher but being reminded of Maggie's legacy, even today, in Thanet's own council chamber, isn't that unusual.
Like many lads of my generation, I left Thanet with a few school qualifications at the age of eighteen and went to look for work in the big city; which was mostly labouring and temporary work. One of these jobs was at the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition where the IRA planted a bomb, which maimed some lovely girls I was working with one Saturday afternoon. I had the afternoon off, I recall to play rugby for Rosslyn Park against Esher and so was lucky but it was Margaret Thatcher who came to came to visit us at the show afterwards, still very nervous indeed, as the exhibition continued into the following week.
Another early job I had, was working at the old Times newspaper building in Grays Inn Road. I still have my original TGWU union card, that the shop steward forced me to go and get from somewhere near Tower Bridge, because I had arrived as casual labour and was non-union. He had been on to me like a shot within an hour of starting work.
The printing presses maintained the old 'Spanish practices contemporary post-war socialism at its finest, with three or four men working a single printing machine. What would happen is that two men would be present, one would normally be 'off' sick and the other away, not unusually, claiming unemployment benefit.
If Thatcher's controversial reforms hadn't swept away Britain's plunge towards an East-German-style socialism, I wouldn't not have been able to start my own business or indeed, wouldn't be writing this today. So while I understand the deep-seated grievances of many communities I also grasp that Thatcher's premiership marked the end of the politics of the industrial revolution and the beginning of the economic globalism that surrounds us today. Our economy at the time was sick to the point of death . Left in the hands of characters such as Wilson, Callaghan and Foot, we would never have seen the confident national resurgence of the 1980's and perhaps, not even the end of the Cold War, where Thatcher played a pivotal role in brokering the meetings between Reagan and Gorbachev.
So everyone has a view on the funeral and many readers may not share my own but it does mark the end of an important chapter in our political history; that is until the time comes, one day, to hold a funeral for Tony Blair.
This month, I'm speaking at a government conference in Prague and the Thatcher funeral oddly reminds me of 1968 and the 'Prague Spring' as the Russian tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia. For some reason I can still remember reading the story in my father's newspaper, one hot day on the beach at Westgate.
I'm told that on Wednesday night, only forty places are available in the council's public gallery for the decision on whether to approve a Tesco in Westgate's Station Road or not. This time, the Council will be enforcing the health and safety regulations and so once that figure has been counted into the lifts from reception, that's it I'm afraid.
When it is finished and the decision made, I will come downstairs immediately to speak to any residents who may be waiting to hear the news outside the Council offices.
Of late, I've seen provocative and negative comments being spread around by persons or person unknown, attempting to lay the blame for the original planning decision which granted retail use for the plot in Station Road at my feet. I'm accused of being in favour of the application and voting it through the Council's planning committee but I'm afraid the truth rarely gets in the way of a good story and the fact that I've never been a member of the planning committee, doesn't appear to be a problem.
In fact, Westgate's former councillor Brian Goodwin was and so presently, is Cllr Tom King. Inquiries should really be directed to them although in Brian's case, that could be a little difficult, as he is now sadly deceased. So if people are going to invent stories about me, it's always best to do a little research first.
Michael Child and I have been comparing weblog notes of late and both of us might agree that a few obsessive individuals posting anonymously or under pseudonyms, perhaps with personality disorders, can be a worry and I'm having to watch what I publish as comments very carefully. I may be forced along the route of only allowing people with real identities to leave remarks and comments. As an example, I'm now the subject of a Standards Complaint to Thanet Council for in principle 'Not' allowing one individual to post his remarks about former councillors, surrounding events that happened in the distant past; a chronic waste of my time and your taxpayers money.
So, please be aware of my acceptable use policy when you make comments and that I have no reason to publish allegations or personal abuse, pointed at me or indeed, anyone else in Thanet, alive, undead, deceased or gone-away.