Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Deputy Blog

Intrigued by Labour Deputy Leader Harriet Harman's mention of Ramsgate on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday, I've tracked down her blog, and indeed she has some very nice things to say about the Cannes of Kent following her visit here in September:

Ramsgate really was very charming... very pretty harbour... it’s a lovely place.

Well, I must say my opinion of the Labour deputy leadership has gone up tenfold reading that! And she's so much easier on the eye than the previous incumbent!

Hall Poll

I've popped another of my seven day polls in the sidebar. This time I'm asking what you think would be the best use for our crumbling West Cliff Hall. You can vote for multiple options if you like.

Meanwhile I see Oasis Hong Kong Airlines have been replaced on the oozalum flightpath this morning by MK. According to their website, MK's 747 is at least 16 years old, so think of it as a 400 tonne, H reg Ford Fiesta roaring over your bonce.

Oh well, look on the bright side. At least it's a change of scenery!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Hall Truth?

Ho ho! I never tire of running this photo from the front page of Adscene back in April. There's Our Sandy handing over the keys of Ramsgate's crumbling West Cliff Hall to the Global Generation Church, just in time to make happy regeneration headlines before the local council elections.

Not long after, TDC's Chief Executive Richard Samuel issued a statement rubbishing the story [snigger]. So, what's happened to the clapped out Motor Museum since? Well, I myself have put up a couple of very worthwhile ideas, namely converting it into a Van Gogh Contemporary, or using it as a Centre of Excellence for Wind.

But now I've received an email from a Sarah Benfield, who says she put a detailed business proposal before the council last month. Her idea is to restore the place to its former glory and put it to work as a Victorian themed health spa. A splendidly imaginative idea, Sarah! Trouble is, other thoughts appear to be foremost in the minds of the powers-that-be. Sarah says: 'We've heard nothing and are being ignored.'

Rumour is that the council would prefer the usual solution, luxury apartments. An easy fix, given the building isn't listed and probably won't be. Another rumour involves one of our local hostelry magnates converting it into a fish restaurant. Let's hope he's got an effing good chef on board, otherwise it'll be less Gordon Ramsgate and more like Gordon Bennett!

To follow the sorry recent history of this fine building, just click on the tag below.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Strictly Kent Dancing!

by Isle of Thanet Gazunder Showbiz Editor Hans Neesenbumpsadazie

Stars of the hit TV series Strictly Come Dancing are flocking to Thanet for practice sessions, according to BBC insiders.

'The island has ideal facilities for celebrities and professional dancers alike,' a Strictly producer told the Gazunder. 'Where else could they practice their steps just by walking down the street?'

Performers such as EastEnders' Letitia Dean and Kent's own Kelly Brook have apparently praised islanders for providing plenty of pavement obstacles such as crushed White Lightning cans, chewing gum and barkers' nests, all of which have to be carefully avoided on the average trip to the shops.

'It's true,' confirmed a BBC spokesman. 'Many of the dancers on Strictly have been training in Thanet.' And he added: 'Where else could you nip out for 20 Rothmans and end up doing a perfect cha-cha-cha?'

Bruce Forsyth is 103.

Sandy Beach Sandy Beach Destined For Sandy Beach?

The Sandy Beach sandy beach which currently graces our harbour entrance could be destined to top up our, er, sandy beach. Reader Jane writes:

I've heard that Councillor Latchford and co, who are putting the new dredging contract for the harbour out to tender, are investigating the possibility of using a JCB with an extended arm based on the East Pier itself to dredge the harbour, following the trial of the barge-based JCB recently. The idea would be to hoik the sand over the other side of the harbour arm onto the beach and allow wind and tide to distribute it.

That's not something I've heard myself, Jane, but I suppose it would be a, er, cost effective solution. Although I'm not sure that huge mounds of rotting harbour silt would be my idea of how to regain Blue Flag status for Ramsgate Main Sands!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bob Marleygate

Well the horror flicks were all a bit predictable. But the after party at Eli's Sugar Lounge rocked! Well, reggaed actually.

The sign outside promised 'Bob Marley', testimony indeed to the restorative powers of the Margate ozone. It wasn't until I fished out the old pince-nez that I spied the word tribute underneath. But I wasn't disappointed, and the band played all the old favourites with a verisimilitude that had me wondering if Bob had indeed relocated to the Arsonists' Playground in his final days, and found it truly to be the invalids' last hope.

Oh well, next up, the comedy shorts festival. I might have a go at that myself. I think I've got a pair up in the attic, a remnant from my Butlins days.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Trick Or Treat

I see the funspoilers at Kent Police and Kent County Council have been divvying out these notices around the Ile for people to put in their windows. Quite what the orange blob is meant to represent, lord knows. But I'm sure if I opened the door looking like that, the poor mites would run a mile. Either that or they'd be spreading the word that mahogany man David Dickinson had relocated to the area.

Personally I don't mind tykes knocking at my door on Halloween. Last year I popped into that joke shop in Arlington Arcade, over on the seemy north side, and bagged myself a heap of those joke sweets. You know, the ones that taste of fish. Then, having devoured a box of Galaxy Celebrations, I carefully packaged the joke sweets up in the wrappers I'd saved. You should have seen their little faces! A trick and treat, all in one!

Anyway, talking of Halloween, I must dash, as I'm off to catch the 2 Days Later film festival over in the Arsonists' Playground. What more appropriate setting for a feast of horror flicks!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Harpers Bizarre

The debate over whether Harpers wine bar in Boredstares should or should not have been closed down by our beloved council rumbles on.

Two letters in today's Isle of Thanet Gazunder support the move. Meanwhile I see the owners have set up a Facebook group called SAVE HARPERS!!!, which at the last count had 842 members. About the same number as you'd have found queuing for the teeny-tiny toilet at the Harbour Street hostelry on a Friday night.

I have to declare an interest here. I was never a fan of the place. The bar staff were indifferent unless you were a mate, the place was rammed to capacity every night, and the facilities were cramped. I do, however, believe there is something in the argument that this would not have happened to one of the establishments run by the Ile's foremost landlord, if you catch my drift.

Anyway, it's only to be expected on the Dickensian east of the island, where their definition of a late night drink is a mug of Horlicks after Corrie. Now if they'd set up in Ramsgate, I'm sure they would have received a right royal welcome!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

Unless you're an MP that is. Then everything goes down on expenses, and today Parliament published its annual table of who claimed what and why. So, how did our local dynamic duo, Sir Roger Wind (Con.) and Dr Steve Ladyboy (Lab.) fare?

Well, Sir Rodge managed to clock up a whopping £134,308 in total, including £26,253 on 'office running costs', £80,497 on 'staffing costs' and £9,197 on 'staying away from main home' (hotels to you and me). He spent £4,901 on car travel, but a mere £187 on travelling on the rattlers.

Meanwhile, Dr. Steve claimed a relatively measly £129,436. Mind you, he spent considerably more on hotels (£21,549), and quite a bit more on the train (£945), but still had a sizeable petrol habit (£4,763).

I expect most people on the Ile will think these expenses pretty profligate, but I should point out that both MPs came in below the average of £135,600. And let's face it, the poor loves need a bit of extra folding. After all, it beats me how anyone could eak out a living on a basic annual salary of £59,686!

Download your copy of 'Members' Allowances' here and weep

Give Them An Inch

You know me, I haven't got a southern hemisphere-ist bone in my body. Not even after last weekend's rugby. But it was only a month ago that I spotted these chaps...

...moving in to their new luxury apartment at Granville Court here on Ramsgate's swinging East Cliff, and now they've shipped in three of their mates:

Has the government taken this into account in its recent population projection? I think we should be told!

More on parakeet immigration here

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Market Farces

Word reaches me from the seemier north side of the island that the recently inaugurated Margate market is suffering a few teething troubles.

If you recall, the Wednesday market was set up to help trade in the sickly lower High Street, where a hole in the wall literally means a hole in the wall. But some stallholders have already pulled out, quoting a lack of, er, trade. And the shopkeepers aren't too happy either, with burger vendors setting up outside fast food outlets, and cheap shoes being flogged outside shoe shops.

It's all very different here in the Millionaires Playground, of course. The market here caters for a very different sort of customer. I mean, where else would you be able to buy a four foot spanner for £3.99?

Separated At Birth?

Reader Samantha writes:

I wonder if anyone else has spotted a similarity between the outgoing Prime Minister of Poland, Mr Jaroslaw Kaczynski, and the President of Poland, Mr Lech Kaczynski? Are they by any chance related?
Prime Minister/President, President/Prime Minister

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pub Name Fame Game

I see in today's Thanet Times that pub group Barracuda are holding a competition to name the new hostelry they're opening where that querky indoor market used to be in Harbour Street. The new boozer will occupy a space approximately the size of Broadstairs, and will be part of their Smith and Jones chain. Here's what they say about their pubs:

Generally situated in high street locations or secondary towns (secondary? - Ed.) and cities across England, Scotland and Wales, Smith & Jones offers a venue for all occasions serving a broad customer base (dipsomaniacs welcome). This, in turn, generates customer loyalty while reinforcing the widely held belief that a pub is a place to catch up and be part of the community (until falling over time).

They're looking for a name with local connections, such as a famous person, place or activity. There's a 'VIP champagne meal' for four on offer for the lucky winner, who will also get to officially open the place (if they can still see to cut the ribbon). I've already sent them some suggestions. My favourite is, naturally, The Richard Eastcliff, but you've got to admire the irony of The Frank Thorley, Collis Browne's and Oasis.

I hear Barracuda, who bill themselves as 'the UK's fastest growing pub chain', will also be serving Ramsgate themed drinks. Dunkerque Spirit should prove popular, and they'll be selling a new brand of alcopop called TDC, although I doubt if that'll catch on as it's described as having a 'lingering aftertaste'.


Our local biblio-bloke Michael Child, who runs the splendid Michael's Bookshop on Ramsgate's trendy King Street, has emailed me to say that he's started his own biblio-blog. Check it out here.

Ladyboy To The Rescue!

I see my local MP, Dr Steve Ladyboy, has sent out a circular asking for views on the three post office closures that are proposed here in the Millionaires' Playground.

Well, when I last looked, the Post Office was still owned by HM Government, incumbents Gordon and Chums, the very same party that Dr Ladyperson represents. So couldn't they just tell them not to go ahead with it? I mean, a report out today predicts the UK population will rise to 157m by the middle of the century, and everyone's constantly urging us to cut our carbon footprints and shop local, so it's a bit short-sighted to shut local POs, isn't it?

In other news, the old Toyota Priapus was vandalised last night along with a number of other cars in the street. Must be the half term holidays.

Blimey! With Dr Biggles taking a break from Thanet Life at the moment, I seem to have taken over as the island's Chief Tory!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Cover Story

My Harley Street quack is deeply indebted to regular reader Mr X for the laughter-induced hernia I sustained upon reading an email from him earlier today. The email contained a link to a catalogue of the worst album covers ever created. Here is the link.

Do take the precaution of going for a tinkle before you look, though, as I would not want to be responsible for the dry cleaning bills. I've taken the liberty of reproducing three of my favourites below, just to get you acclimatised. But there are seventeen in all. Scroll down slowly and savour!

Tug Toff

I felt about as spruce as this old rustbucket outside the Maritime Museum as I walked around our Royal Harbour yesterday afternoon, in a vain attempt to blow the cobwebs away from the old Eastcliff attic, ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix. You see, I'd made the mistake of consuming several bottles of commiserative Krug after England's defeat in the rugby final.

Still, at least all I needed was six paracetamol and a good night's sleep to feel right as rain again. I suspect the Cervia will need more than this tub of Jizer to get her gleaming like a new pin:

Update: According to the Steam Museum, the Cervia is on long term loan to our Maritime Museum, and is 'a remarkably important ship, still in her original configuration'. Oh yes, they certainly knew how to configure a ship in them days. Upturned table, weeds growing out of the deck. All essential nautical equipment!

For lovers of old tugs, here's the 1927 steam tug Portwey making its way last month from Canary Wharf to Ramsgate. Not a drop of Jizer in sight!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Trying Time

As an expert who has spent at least eight minutes studying the rules of rugby, I can say with absolutely certainty that we woz robbed in Paris last night when that try was disallowed because of the, um, over the line thingy. I ran Elton after the match and he agreed. So, conclusive.

Still, who cares? Rugby's not much of a game. Motor racing, now there's a sport!

Update: OK, we came second in the rugby. Lewis came second in the F1 Championship. Er, Nobel Prizes. We won some Nobel Prizes recently, didn't we? Nobel Prizes, now there's a real sport!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Paris/H**ilton's Brazilian

There. If that doesn't get the old site stat counter-o-meter moving faster than a BOGOF on White Lightning in Cliftonville, I don't know what will.

I've taken the precaution of dusting the 52 inch Sony plasma and getting in a couple of cases of Krug for tonight's rugby match against the Saffers in Paris. Hopefully it won't have all gone before tomorrow afternoon's Grand Prix. With Lewis Hamilton in second place in the final practice session in Sao Paolo this afternoon, it looks like the Brazilian's going to be a close shave!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Lifeboat Rescue

Since the new owners took over that Costcutter near Mr Filthy Talk Talk's (soon to be ex-) Post Office, I've noticed that every week, when I go in to buy my Gra*ia, the teeny-tiny lifeboat that I usually drop the spare change in has become more and more marooned.

The other week, instead of being ready for action right by the till, it was washed up behind an enormous bank of Haribo, chewing gum, and all manner of cheap sugary crap. I'm afraid I berated the otherwise friendly owner for a serious lapse of civic duty, and this week I see it's back on display in pride of place. Hopefully the new dredging arrangements in our Royal Harbour will do the same for the real thing.

Unfortunately the same can't be said of the St John's Ambulance tin, and Beach Within Reach box, which have both been consigned to the retail equivalent of a Westgate nursing home, i.e out of sight and out of mind. Which is a shame, because only the other day I received this missive from Kim Twyman, the Treasurer of Beach Within Reach, Ramsgate's newest charity:

We have noted your comments about our charity boxes not having a charity number on them. We would like to let you know that we have now replaced the old labelling on the charity boxes with our new charity number. We apologise for the delay in replacing the labelling but as you can imagine there are numerous things to set in place when starting and running a new charity.

I wonder if it would be possible for you to put details of our charity on your website. I have attached a leaflet on our charity and a photograph (as a Jpeg) of the All-Terrain wheelchairs to give people an idea of what we are trying to achieve. These All-Terrain wheelchairs can be used by adults and children and can be fitted with accessories to enable severely disabled children/adults to use them. There will be no hire charge only a returnable deposit. Proof of ID will be required.

Hopefully these All-Terrain wheelchairs will be on Ramsgate main beach for the new season of 2008 and on other beaches in the Thanet area as funds permit. We hope this project will increase the tourism industry in our area. We are trying to reach charities, organizations and schools out of the area that run holidays/breaks/days out for the disabled.

Kim concludes:

Donations towards the purchase and running of these All-Terrain wheelchairs would be very welcome. Especially from millionaires!! Please send cheques made payable to “Beach Within Reach” to 28 Crescent Road, Ramsgate, Kent CT11 9QX.

Glad to be of service Kim!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Naval Gazing

Yes, I picked a good day to be watching the ships go by from my study here on Ramsgate's East Cliff, what with 1800 jobs going at the Beeb, and my old ITV chums Ant and Dec getting it in the neck for fleecing the viewing public with their mechanical pig.

Unfortunately it does mean, however, that my own proposal for a prime time comeback, Dickie's Big Dosh Dial-Up, will have to be put on hold for a bit. Shame, really. Only today Mr Ceaucescu (no relation) emailed me to say he was putting the finishing touches on the studio at his uncle's cowshed just outside Plovdiv.

Ramsgate Tops New Poll

Our beloved council are taking part in a national, online poll to find the best spots in England. And so far, Ramsgate's seafront architecture is way ahead of their other nominations such as Minnis Bay, Viking Bay and Margate Old Town. I say way ahead, what I mean is 'Ramsgate Seafront Architecture' has four votes, whereas their other nominations have one or none. And, um, two of those votes were mine.

So, what are you waiting for? Voting ends 30 November.

Thanet entries in Pride of Place poll

Separated At Birth?

Reader Samantha writes:

I wonder if anyone else has spotted a similarity between the new design for Margate's Turner Contemporary, and those ice cream kiosks down on Ramsgate front? Are they by any chance related?
Ice cream kiosk

£25m art gallery

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Getting Our Backs Up

Following last week's ECR fonejack, Thanet Council appear to have got a wriggle on and are finally replacing the backs of the shelters here on Ramsgate's swinging East Cliff, which they removed to 'repair' eight months ago.

You'll recall that the nice lady in the Foreshores Department, who was responsible for these shelters but couldn't help with the fountain that's 20 feet away because that's the responsibility of the Open Spaces Department, promised on the phone that, with the summer 'rush' now over, the department's contractors would be able to turn their full attention to the less urgent task of, er, keeping the foreshores looking nice. And it seems as if she was as good as her word!

Apparently they'd had a lot of trouble with shelters being vandalised. Rotters, those vandals. They come along, take half your shelter away on the pretext of repairing it, then they disappear for eight months. Shocking!

Turnip 2.2

I see architect David Chipperfield, still glowing no doubt from receiving the RIBA Stirling Prize less than a fortnight ago, has presented revised plans for Margate's proposed Turnip Centre.

The previous design was criticised in some circles for resembling a power station. But the lad's now really pulled out the stops, and his latest effort looks more like a bus station. He's quoted as saying:

If you do a good project, if you make a good institution where you get the architecture, the idea and the role in the community right - then you can be guaranteed that people will come and look at it.

Well, David, for £25m of our taxpayers' money (so far), I'm sure we'll all want to come and gawp!

Full story

Phone With The Wind?

Yikes! The telling bone here at the old cliff top mansion appears to have died. Although, as you can see, the interthingy seems to be working fine. Anyone else on the Ile having trouble with their BT line? Maybe it's something to do with this awful wind. Or perhaps our beloved council have come round and chopped my wires, following last week's fonejack!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Hole Truth

Crumbs! Or should I say crumbling? This hole has appeared over the last few days on our crumbling East Cliff. Having spotted a contractor's van parked in the vicinity last week, with a few council types milling around, I assume that it's part of the tendering process for the repairs.

Still, I'm not about to remove the counteriser-ometer from my sidebar just yet. 905 days and counting since the temporary fencing was erected. What's the betting we make 1000?

Smoke Gets In Your Square Eyes

I see those publicity-seeking Top Gear chaps have whipped up a bit more controversy by smoking pipes during last Sunday's programme. I say 'whipped up' because I suspect they knew exactly what they were doing, being an old hand at the TV game myself.

You see, the smoking ban in England covers workplaces and enclosed public spaces, but, unlike Scotland, excludes theatre stages and film and TV sets. So by lighting up their briars during the programme, they would have known that it would get the anti-smoking brigade, er, hot under the collar, but were safe in the knowledge that they couldn't be hauled off to spend time at Her Majesty's pleasure (where one can also, of course, puff as much as one likes).

A clear cut case of the BBC faking a controversy, if you ask me!

Fake BBC controversy on real BBC website

Monday, October 15, 2007

Storm And A Tea-Pot

I see veteran weather chap Michael Fish is in the news today, it being the anniversary of The Great Storm of 1987.

I was only nine at the time and living at home, unloved, with Mummy and Daddy. Our modest house was called Dun Researchin' (Eastcliff Senior's little joke), and the only damage we suffered was the minor loss of a couple of the letters of our house name. My how we used to laugh every time we recalled the night Dad's Rs blew off.

Mr Fish, who occasionally stands in for the rather manic Kaddy Tea-Pot on our local BBC news, now denies being a hurricane denier. And he's ditched those trademark sweaters he used to wear. Or perhaps they blew off the line.

Michael Fish on BBC website

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Political Football

Margate Architecture, one of the newer kids on the blog, has asked me to highlight the peculiar comings and goings over planning permission for the above building, close to Cliftonville Lido.

Locals will know that the place has been rotting away for many years, but now it seems Rams boss Jim Ward has come along and applied for permission to convert the place into flats. The lad done good, you might opine. Trouble is, it's in a Conservation Area, and is about to be spot listed by English Heritage. Yet Margate Architecture reports that planning notices - those yellow things you see appended to lamp posts - have been conspicuous by their absence. Not only that, but whilst awaiting a listed status inspection all the splendid old cabinets in the former pharmacy were stripped out - you can see before and after shots here. Presumably they've been recycled into trophy cabinets.

Personally I think it would be a crying shame to demolish the curvy, Victorian shop front and replace it with breeze blocks and one of those plastic portholes that pass for a door around here. But then I'm afraid the writing is already on the wall. Does anyone remember the Outfitters Gallery debacle last May? We were promised a full inquiry into that, since when not a sausage. Maybe it's gone into extra time.

Friday, October 12, 2007

PO Closure Poll Closed

Foregoing the delights of tonight's Mayoral supper, described as 'an evening of fish and chips and clairvoyance' (presumably the meal will come wrapped in tomorrow's newspapers), I'm bringing you instead the final result of my latest 7 day poll:

Question: Do you agree with the Post Office's plans to close three sub-post offices in the Ramsgate area?

Yes: 27% (10 votes)
No: 72% (27 votes)

An overwhelming majority, then, against the closures. Which is why it's surprising that, according to today's Isle of Thanet Gazunder, only five people have so far responded to Thanet Council's online consultation regarding the closures. Especially when you can respond as many times as you like. I think I must have accounted for all five just by myself.

You can also voice your objections by emailing:

And if you're really desperate you can sign the petition being run by Jonathan Aitken's wannabe successor as the Conservative MP for South Thanet. Try not to stare at her picture for too long, though. I did, and now I can't get rid of this strange voice in my head repeatedly whispering 'Vote Tory'.

Prom Service?

Word reaches me that some of you have been having a spot of bother getting through to the right department when dealing with our beloved Thanet District Council on the phone. So I thought I'd give it a go myself. Here's what happened (the voices have been disguised to protect the innocent)...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Huge Chopper

Yes, yes. I know what you're thinking. This is just an excuse to make a cheap joke. But seriously, it's been a lovely day here on Kent's Ramsgate Peninsula. Sun's been out, no training flights, hardly any wind. And when this thing throbbed over on its way to Manston it was quite exciting! See, I'm not totally against the airport.

No. No. On second thoughts you're right. It was just an excuse to make a cheap joke.

Drain Brain

I spotted those splendid chaps from Kent Highways this morning as I pottered down to the newsagents for my copy of Bliss For Brides (romance is in the air here at the CTM - see previous post).

It was only on Saturday that I posted my concerns about blocked drains here on Ramsgate's swinging East Cliff on that FixMyStreet site. And here they are clearing them with their de-bungeriser. Almost as prompt as sending up the Bat Signal! Well done the Kent Highwaysmen!

Update: On closer inspection I may have to take all that back. The drains I reported blocked are still, er, blocked. Maybe they've had to go back to the depot and empty their de-bungeriser. I'll keep you posted on these exciting developments as and when they happen!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pin Back Your Eraholes

OK, I'm off the crack now. I think. Mind you, looking at that headline, maybe not.

So the Biggles Brigade, clearly rather rattled by my Thanet Is Beautiful video, have aborted their scheduled landing on the East Cliff tomorrow night and gone round for another circuit. Instead of being graced by Infartil, the owners of RAF London Kent Ramsgate Manston International Airport, the Eastcliff Residents' Association AGM will instead be hosting a talk on 'The Pugin Family' (what did happen to David Cassidy?) by Nick Dermott, Chairman of the Pugin Society. It kicks off at 7.30pm at our crumbling Albion House.

Meanwhile I've received a reply from Oasis Hong Kong Airlines to my email complaining about their infernal oozalum flights. Here's what I wrote:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Yet another Sunday ruined here in the pretty coastal resort of Ramsgate, Kent, UK as your 400 tonne aluminium lump flies over every ten minutes, feet from everyone's heads, on its training circuits from Manston. I presume the Reverend Lee approves of people's Sunday's being devastated in this way, and that he is therefore more interested in Mammon than God.

Yours etc.

Here's what they wrote back:

Dear Mr Eastcliff,

Thank you for your email and your feedback. This is to let you know that we were doing pilot training. Please note that this happens on most weekends. Thank you for contacting us.

Yours sincerely

Johanna Chan, Oasis Hong Kong Airlines

Ah, the inscrutable Chinese. Johanna. What a lovely name. I wonder if she's got a boyfriend? I've replied thus:

Dear Johanna,

May I call you Johanna? I am a very wealthy millionaire here in England. Do you ever come to England? If so, perhaps we could sort this whole thing out over dinner?

Yours ever,


Cracking Up

I'm indebted to regular contributor 'Mr X' for the following, seasonal addition to my growing crack collection. Cheeky!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What's The Crack?

I can't for the life of me understand the fuss over this new exhibition at the Tate Modern. If you've been on the moon for the last few days, here's the griff. Someone called Doris has put her 500ft crack on show, and it's got all the tongues wagging. As usual, the Torygraph, among others, has got all huffy-puffy about it being a waste of public money.

Now, I'm going to surprise you all by agreeing with them. After all, we've got plenty of cracks here in the Millionaires' Playground, and not a single penny of the public's hard earned dosh has been spent on any of them. There's our crumbling East Cliff for a start. And what about this little, er, cracker I snapped in one of those grimy back streets the other day? It's got to be worth a Turner, surely?
Cracking good art

Eye News

The dreaded appointment with my new opthalmologist, Mr R. De Cock, is less than a week away, so you'll forgive me for being a trifle ocularly obsessed at the moment.

Lunching with my old satirical chum Ian at his mansion in the Kent countryside yesterday, he revealed that he's moved into that age where he requires bifocals, so he's no longer able to pop in the contacts. Hence the debut of the snazzy new goggles on Question Time last week. I expect they'll become a regular feature of the news-gnome's physog during the new series of HIGNFY, which begins again this Friday.

During the chit-chat he revealed that another prominent journo recently encountered similar age-related opthalmic difficulties. Vanity prevented her from donning bifocals, so she opted for laser treatment and now has one eye for close-up work, and the other for long distance vision. Modesty, of course, prevents me from revealing her name.

Meanwhile, Wossie's been chatting to me on Facebook about having his lumps removed over the summer break. I recall Elton pointing out on his show that the nodule under his eyebrow could easily be fixed, and he's confirmed that he had it off over the recess, along with 'a hard thing attached to a vein on my leg'. How us celebrity types suffer for our art, eh?

Still, it's worth it, isn't it? After all, who would guess that Brucie is 103?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Boeing, Boeing, Gong!

Well, I've posted my entry for Thanet Council's competition to find photos and videos of the Ile as part of their 'Thanet Is Beautiful' campaign. It's bound to win me that long-overdue BAFTA (Biggles Award For Thanet Arts) I richly deserve! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

On Yer Bike

Zoiks! Looks like it is too late to join the British Heart Foundation's Viking Coastal Bike Ride, which covers a 32 mile circuit of the Ile de Thanet today. I wondered what all the yellow signs and oldies in hi-vis vests were in aid of.

Still, there's nought wrong with the old Dicky ticker. And Alain is the only cardi-ologist I need. He's just knitted me a smashing purple number in mohair!

I'll Have Mine Well Done

Meridian text is reporting that there was a 'blaze' at the Tandoori in Harbour Street yesterday. If so, it's the second restaurant that's burnt down in Harbour Street this year. Cavallinos was cremated in April.

And they call Margate the Arsonists' Playground?

Update: The place still seems to be open. Just a bit of charring on the upper floors.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Dredgeful State

There's a mutiny among our local matelots! According to this week's Gazunder, fisher folk have been holding parties on the new beach that used to be the entrance to our Royal Harbour to protest the fact that, although they're charged for deep water berthing, they're unable to get in and out unless it's virtually a spring tide.

The blue tub in the photo is Ramsgate's The Ramsgate, and it's supposed to dredge the harbour and channels, keeping them free of all that estuary silt that builds up. But the cap's retired, and the boat itself should have been sent to the knacker's yard years ago judging by the state of it.

And who's responsible for this 'sandy' state of affairs, eh? Well the clue's in the question. Yes, you guessed it, none other than our wonderful Thanet District Council (Leader: Sandy Beach), who run the harbour. So what more appropriate epithet for the new facility they've created in the harbour entrance than... [drum roll] The Sandy Beach Sandy Beach!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Prize Nanas

I see those Chipperfield Circus people, whose design for Margate's putative Anthea Turner Centre currently resembles Richborough Power Station, are odds-on favourites to win this year's RIBA Stirling Prize for Architecture.

Hardly surprising, as they designed two of the six buildings on the shortlist - the America's Cup Building in Valencia, and the Museum of Modern Literature in Mar, er, bach. Both look like the kind of concrete lumps that would grace any orimulsion burning facility, and not much better than something that could be whipped up by a team of blindfolded, tartrazine-fuelled five year olds with a Lego set.

Still, if you're that way inclined, the entire gruesome, arse-licking architectural experience is being served up on Channel 4 at 8pm tomorrow night. Don't forget your sick bag.

Channel 4 listing

Bride And Broom

Winter draws on, as my old showbiz 'mum' Mollie Sugden used to quip, so I've been thinking about getting the chimneys swept here at my cliff top mansion.

Riffling throught the Yellow Pages, my glass eye alighted on the above advertisement for JLS Electrical Sweep, who is apparently available for weddings. Now, as Dick Van Dyke memorably informed us, a sweep is as lucky as lucky can be, but Ramsgate must surely be one of the last remaining places where cramming a large brush up your flue is regarded as a guarantee of reaching your diamond wedding anniversary with ne'er a harsh word. Still, it apparently worked (so far at least) for my snooker playing chum Stephen Hendry, who had a sweep in attendance at his wedding in 2003. So who am I to argue?

Mention of Mollie Sugden there reminded me of the dearly departed Ronnie Hazlehurst, who passed on to that great sitcom in the sky this week. Ronnie was the man who penned the theme tunes to many of the best known sitcoms and comedy programmes of the past 30 years, including Yes Minister, The Two Ronnies (three if you include him), and of course Are You being Served? I was astonished to read in one of the obituaries that the theme to Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em actually spells out the title of the programme in morse code. The man was a genius and we shall not see his like again. Sniff.

Ronnie Hazlehurst obituary

Thursday, October 04, 2007

No More Filthy Talk Talk

It's a sad day for Ramsgate's trendy East Cliff. As part of swingeing cuts by the Post Office, Mr Filthy Talk Talk's teeny-tiny sub-post office in Bellevue Road is likely to close by the end of the year. In fact he'd already put up a closed sign when I went round there for a book of stamps yesterday afternoon.

It seemed to me that the great man had been on some kind of customer service course recently, as instead of the customary effing and blinding, he'd taken to addressing me as 'Sir', and asking how my day was going. On one occasion he even got off the phone to serve me as soon as I walked in.

It was gratifying to learn, then, that he has reverted to type on the news of the pending closure. One of the locals reports that, on going in to get a photocopy made of a Victorian print of the street yesterday morning, he was greeted with the salutation: 'Eff Bellevue Road.'

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Thanet Council In YouTube Boob

Holy server errors! Pootling around the internet just now, I spied Thanet Council's competition (Prop.: B. Iggles) to find photos and videos of the Ile as part of their 'Thanet Is Beautiful' campaign. Their trailer on YouTube, a rather ham-fisted affair notable only for a soundtrack by Rochester's Hammond organ virtuoso James Taylor, has so far received a paltry 23 hits in the ten days it's been up. And they've only managed to recruit one group member, er, themselves.

Frankly, what they require is a TV genius like me to liven the competition up a bit. So it was with the best of intentions (honestly guv) that I attempted to join their BoobTube group and upload some of the videos that Mr Ceaucescu (no relation) has created for ECR TV.

At that point the mystery of why they only have themselves to look at was solved, with the screen of my old Del Boy laptop filled from top to toe with the above gobbledygook. Kuh! Amateurs! Nonetheless, I did manage to submit the photograph below which I took last year. Do you think I'll win the 500 smackers?

Plane Fascinating

To prove I'm not completely plane-ist I promised my old journalist chum Leo McKinstry that I'd plug his forthcoming history of the Spitfire. It's published on the 18th of this month, and will be available at all good bookshops and online. More details on Amazon, just click here.

Meanwhile, I see the Eastcliff Residents' Association have invited Infartil, the owners of RAF London Kent Ramsgate Manston International Airport, to come and give a chat at their AGM on the 11th. I do hope they give them a deafening welcome.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Name Game

It's official! Lib Dem leader Menzies Campbell should change his name to Gordon Brown if he is to up the ante in the leadership ratings. Or, er, Menzies Campbell Soup. Here are the results of my latest 7 day poll in full:

Question: What should Lib Dem leader Menzies Campbell change his name to to boost his ratings?

Gordon Brown: 35% (6 votes)
Menzies Campbell Soup: 35% (6 votes)
Sol Campbell: 17% (3 votes)
Naomi Campbell: 11% (2 votes)
Thing Campbell: 11% (2 votes)
John Menzies Campbell: 0% (0 votes)

I've been racking the old grey matter to come up with a timely poll for the Tory bunfight in Blackpool this week, but have decided that it wouldn't become a celebrity of my status to be seen mocking the afflicted.