Saturday, January 30, 2010

East Of The Wantsum

Here's this week's East of the Wantsum. And before anyone moans, remember you get it for free. You don't even have to pay 60p to see it smudged all over this week's Isle of Thanet Gazunder! Er, they get it for free too.

Yep, this blog has been proudly unfunded since 2006. No products, services or political party to plug. No sponsors to please, no licence fee to cough up, no pesky ads to get in the way of your reading enjoyment. You don't deserve me!

While we're at it, congratulations to Ramsgate's very own Age & Sons for winning the Best Cafe category in the Kent Restaurant Awards on Thursday. And also to top Ramsgate butchers J C Rook, fantastic Ramsgate fishmongers Eddie Gilbert's, Minster's Chai Stop and bestest brewer Gadds' of Ramsgate for getting into the finals of the Taste of Kent Awards!

And, er, if any of you would care to sponsor this blog, do get in touch. I'm desperate.

Click here for finalists in Taste of Kent Awards
Don't bother clicking here for Kent Restaurant Awards as they haven't seen fit to publicise them on the internet.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Regeneration News

As the eagle-eyed will know from the What's On in Thanet section in my sidebar on the right, Margate has played host for the last two days to a national conference on regeneration, and the launch of a new 'Coastal Handbook'. Oh the irony! Anyhow, fresh from the fray, one of my (Labour, you'll no doubt correctly surmise) spies has sent this report:

From someone who attended the Coastal Communities Alliance two-day event. You are free to use any of it if you wish, bearing in mind TDC tried to prevent Labour councillors from attending.

Wednesday commenced with two separate trips, one for the Margate regeneration/history and the other for commercial sites. When we went into Dreamland, who should be there to open the gates? Only the supposedly very ill Mayor of Margate [And alleged kitten killer - Ed] Ted Watt-Ruffell. He seemed fine as he strode to open two heavy security gates.

Also on Wednesday a very hot and flushed Latchford came rushing over to Ezekiel with the Yourthanet. Page 2 (the report of the ECR poll to find a new leader for Thanet Tories) has got him rattled. This was in the middle of the conference!

The conference was okay, but repeating everything we all know already. The book was £20 but free to delegates. Steve Ladyman had not been on the list to speak as they didn't really want Labour there, but as the Labour national spokesperson Gordon Marsden couldn’t get there they asked Steve to fill in. He was excellent. Roger Gale chaired the session and referred to Laura Sandys, his fellow Tory candidate for South Thanet, as ‘the lady over there’, as if he had never seen her before!

I put them straight on all the Government has been doing for Thanet… Surestart, Building Schools for the Future, doctors' surgeries, better hospital and promised poly clinics. As it was the Tories in Lincolnshire who suggested to the Tories in Thanet that they should run the event, the last thing some of them wanted was a good news Labour story.

I have been to much better conferences and fortunately some of the people there knew how Thanet has gone down under the Tories. The good news items were done in our time.

I had complaints about Smith Court Hotel from 4 people. The rooms were freezing and apparently the radiators that were working were on timers, and this was the recommended hotel for delegates!!

Ladyman Survey Backs Flight Blight

It's late, but I wanted to be the first to bring you this drivel without breaking the embargo. Actually I've only just got back from the pub, otherwise I would have added it earlier as I don't give a stuff about embargoes. Needless to say, I will be putting even more resources into my campaign to unseat the dolt at the forthcoming General Election!

From: LADYMAN, Steve
Sent: Thu, 28 Jan 2010 18:26
Subject: Embargoed press release: Not to be published before 00:01 hrs 29.1.2010

3 out of 4 people in Thanet back Airport Development says survey.

A survey into Thanet attitudes, carried out by local MP Stephen Ladyman and the Labour Party, has shown 3 out of 4 people support the development of Manston Airport.

'This is an overwhelming majority in support of Airport development. Even in the areas of Ramsgate closest to the Airport, including the Nethercourt Estate, Southwood and Central Ramsgate, 60% backed the growth of the Airport' said Dr Ladyman.

The survey was carried out over twelve months and received 1501 replies. There were over 600 replies from people living in Ramsgate on the flight path and close to the Airport.

'The average newspaper opinion poll quizzes fewer than 1100 people so our survey of 1501 replies is certainly enough to give us a clear idea of local feeling.'

There was, however, a warning for Thanet Council and the Airport owners in the figures. The survey included 728 replies to a questionnaire that included questions about airport noise. Those replies showed that 50% of people are worried by aircraft noise and night flying and, among people living close to the airport, about 62% are worried. The Council and the Airport owners are currently in discussion about night flying policy.

'Many of these people are currently backing the Airport but clearly their support could easily shift if night flying grows or noise becomes more intrusive. If the Council allows too much flexibility and fails to protect the quality of local life then support for the Airport will quickly turn into opposition' concluded Dr.Ladyman.

Note to editors:

The survey included general questionnaires delivered in Ramsgate, Broadstairs, Cliftonville and Margate. 641 replies were received.

3000 detailed questionnaires were delivered in areas of Ramsgate on the flight path and near the airport and 728 people replied.

132 people completed an on-line survey

Total respondents were 1501, of which 626 replies were from people close to the airport.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kent Of The Year Awards

This year I'll be running my brand new Kent of the Year Awards, culminating in December in a star-spangled festival of glamour and glitz at Ramsgate's very own sleb hotspot, the Granville Theatre and Cinem!

And the first nomination is already in! Step forward Sir Terry Farrell!

Internationally renowned architect Sir Tel has joined forces with Kent County Council's Ruddy-Faced Man, geographically challenged Tory leader Paul Carter, to produce this steaming pile of crap which was published today:

One of its chief 'highlights' is the expansion of Manston landing strip into a 'major regional airport' with its own railway station by 2030, whilst promising to transform the area between Margate, Canterbury and Folkestone into a 'cultural triangle'.

Now we all know that Paul Carter doesn't know his Ramsgate from his Margate when it comes to this part of his fiefdom. He thinks planes from Manston fly 'straight out to sea'. Here's the page where he drones on about the Kent Coast:

Notice anything? Yes, that's right. He gives it a 'Dover', ooh and a bit of 'Canterbury' and 'Folkestone', topped off with a splash of 'Herne Bay, Whitstable and Margate'. No mention of Ramsgate though. Except the photo illustrating the Kent Coast 'coming back to life' is of our Royal Harbour here in Ramsgate, the jewel in the crown that he wants to fly knackered old 747s over every five minutes. And yet he hasn't got the balls to attend a meeting of Ramsgate residents concerned about the airport.

It would be too easy, though, to nominate Carter for my Kent of the Year Awards. He makes a stupid Kent out of himself every time he opens his mouth. His report bangs on about the county being the 'UK's front door'. Well, I'd personally be more than happy, if he ever shows his face in this neck of the woods, to insert this cods in his, er, back door.

More surprising is that Sir Terry Farrell, who coincidentally specialises in airports and railway stations, has appended his name to this bollocks. After all, he is none other than the Patron of the Ramsgate Society. A worthy candidate, then, for 'Kent of the Year'!

Click here to read more on the Gazunder website
Click here for 21st Century Kent on KCC website
Click here for the Ramsgate Society website

Singing Songs Of Love

A break now, methinks, from the rough and tumble of Thanet politics. And what better way to refresh the jaded old brain cells than with a bit of music?

Not that a massed band consisting of bagpipes, middle eastern percussion and hurdy gurdies is going to do much to sooth the troubled spirit, but anyhow, that's what's on offer here in the Millionaires' Playground on 20 March. Fittingly called 'Ramsgate Buzz', the day's being organised by the isle's very own, internationally renowned hurdy gurdyist Claire Dugué. There'll be workshops in the morning and afternoon, culminating in a concert at the Sailors' Church kicking off at 7pm.

And what better way to celebrate the news than with this clip of the late, great, lovely Donovan [He's still alive you twerp - Ed] singing his psychedelic 1968 hit Hurdy Gurdy Man? Although I'm pretty sure it's a sitar, not a hurdy gurdy, that features on the track. Ah, those were the days! When everyone was pin-thin from heroin, dressed in weird clothes, jazz cigarettes hanging from their gobs, and had sex with anyone they met. Not unlike some of the more demotic parts of today's Ramsgate, when you come to think of it!

Click here for details of Ramsgate Buzz
Click here for Claire Dugué's website

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

'An Anonymous Spouter Of Spiteful Drivel'

Yes, dear reader. That's what I've been called by Cllr Wells in today's yourfannitinnit, in a comment on my recent Tory leadership poll. All the other Cons seem to have taken it in the spirit it was meant (apart from Cllr Wise who describes it as 'mischievous in the extreme', but that's probably just sour grapes as he came last).

That's the thanks you get from Thanet's Tories. And there I was, ever ready to praise Cllr Beardy as one of the few Duffers who seem to have integrity, particularly after his intervention to save Revolution Skate Park back in 2006. What a short memory he must have.

Although... hang on... perhaps it's a case of protesting too much? Maybe there's even the possibility of some sexual tension between us? He's probably seen my photo and, like most red-blooded chaps, has got the urge. And without the face fuzz, he's probably quite good looking too! Yes, that's almost certainly it! Chris, you know the poll wasn't my idea, don't you? Do forgive me, it was all Bertie Biggles' fault!

Click here to read more in yourfannitinnit

KCC Chief In Secret Airport Talks

Hats off to today's yourfannitinnit for breaking the story of clandestine collusion between Kent County Council leader Paul Carter, our very own Sandy Beach and Manston boss Matt Clarke!

If you recall, the Tories' ruddy-faced man failed to tip up to a 150 strong meeting of the Kent International Airport Consultative Commitee (KIACC) in June last year (the day after he'd voted himself an 8% expenses increase) to discuss flight blights, citing other commitments. But now, thanks to a FOI application by regular ECR contributor Malcolm Kirkaldie, it transpires he did have time to chinwag on the phone with chief Tory duffer Beach, and the outgoing airport manager. At which point he presumably learnt that the mood of the meeting would be more 'Get Carter' than 'Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine'.

The snub led to a vote to report geographically challenged Carter, who thinks planes from Manston fly 'straight out to sea' and that it has 'one of the longest runways in Europe' (it's the 14th longest in the UK), to the Standards Committee.

Here's the full text of the FOI:

Thank you for your request for information.

Kent County Council's Leader, Mr Paul Carter, spoke with Sandy Ezekiel, Leader of Thanet District Council and Matt Clarke, Chief Executive of Kent International Airport prior to withdrawing from the KIACC meeting on Friday 26th June 2009. These were telephone conversations which took place in Mr Carter's car whilst travelling between meetings, and therefore there are no notes recorded from these conversations.

Mr Carter was also due to have a pre-meeting with a KCC officer from the Regeneration and Economy department prior to his attendance at KIACC. However, this pre-meeting did not take place in light of the fact that Mr Carter was no longer able to attend the meeting that this pre-meeting was intended to brief him for.

I have also attached a copy of the email sent to you by Paul Carter's PA on 30th September which included a statement issued by the Leader regarding his non-attendance.

I can confirm that Mr Geoff Wild, KCC's Director of Law and Governance and Monitoring Officer has seen your request and has approved this response.

Carter's happy to plug Chas 'n' Dave Margate International as an alternative to Boris Island, but when the proverbial looks like hitting the fan, and he's faced with the prospect of meeting the real people whose lives he wants to blight, he runs like a chicken with its bum on fire. Yet more proof, if you ask me, that he doesn't care much about Kent beyond his Maidstone manor!

Click here to read this week's yourfannitinnit
Get Carter! in ECR last June

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Flog It!

I've received a few emails regarding the council's asset-flogging meeting later today. I could moan on about selling the family silver (Albion House), or the bollocks they've made of negotiating with the leaseholder of the dilapidated Coach House in Northdown Park, a former TDC councillor.

But I won't. I'll just give you the link to the council's latest assets update, and let you make your own minds up!

Click here for TDC assets update

Manston Pickle

News that Chas 'n' Dave Margate International Airport's cherubic chief executive Matt Clarke is quitting must surely put a spanner in the works for the landing strip's expansion plans. Word is that the place is also without a business development manager these days too.

Rather than appoint a replacement for the Kiwi Kid, the airport's owners Infratil have asked Tom Wilson to act as boss. Mr Wilson is described as 'Chief Executive of Infratil Airports Europe' which means, after the sale of Lubeck in Germany last year, just Prestwick and Manston.

Masterplan Matt is apparently back off to his homeland to take up another position at Infratil, which used the Lubeck dosh to buy Shell's forecourt business in NZ. Let's hope he'll be doing more than pumping gas and selling meat pies. Anyway, I'm sure the No Night Flights people will have a whip round to give him a good send-off!

Click here for full story in yourfannitinnit

Monday, January 25, 2010

Poll Positions

Thanks to everyone who voted in my seven day poll to select a replacement for Sandy Beach, should he decide to take the honourable way out and resign as the leader of the Thanet Duffers this year. A record 181 votes were cast thus:

Question: Who would you prefer as the next Tory leader of Thanet?

Orville The Duck: 51% (94 votes)
Cllr Bruce: 23% (42 votes)
Cllr/Dr Moores: 7% (14 votes)
Cllr Wells: 6% (11 votes)
Cllr Bayford: 4% (9 votes)
Cllr Jarvis: 3% (6 votes)
Cllr Gideon: 1% (3 votes)
Cllr Wise: 1% (2 votes)

I hereby declare Mr Duck, Orville The, the winner! And guess what? He's already given me a sneak preview of his new cabinet:

Right Royal Cock-Up And Chips

Talk about dumbing down! Did anyone else see Rock and Chips, the Only Fools and Horses prequel on BBC1 last night? Set in 1960, the show followed the adventures of a young Del Boy and Rodney's dad, Freddie 'The Frog' Robdal, played by Nicholas Lyndhurst.

The famous jolly boys' outing to Margate was re-created but sadly 'Margate' looked more like Beaconsfield dressed up by the props department. Not a wave, slot machine or seagull in sight. Most of the action took place in the 'Duke of Margate' pub. And then there was the above. Surely everyone knows the only Royal Harbour in the country is in Ramsgate! Kuh!

Still, it doesn't surprise me, after hearing a chap on Radio 4 at the weekend saying: 'The army's not as regimented as people think.' Think about it.

I suppose if Rock and Chips had actually been filmed in Margate, it would have taken an Avatar style budget to make it look anything like it did in 1960. Back in 1989, when the original jolly boys' outing episode was filmed, they stood half a chance of finding something to film, as this BoobTube clip demonstrates:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Last Chance To Go To The Poll

With just one day left in my poll to find the next leader of Thanet's Tories, it looks as if you've gone all out for a duck! He's winging it! [Geddit!!????!!!!] Of those of you who haven't put your hands up for Orville, top billing is going to geology nerd Cllr/Dr Alasdair Bruce, with Cllr/Dr Moores currently nestling between a Rock Doc and a hard place (Cllr Wells).

If you haven't voted yet, there's still time to wade in if you want a real doctor rather than a quack at the top of the pecking order! A day is a long time in politics. As they say, you never know 'waddle' happen!! [That's enough duck jokes - Ed.]

Saturday, January 23, 2010

East Of The Wantsum

Another week, another strip. No one could ever accuse me of not playing to the crowd!

The old bonce is throbbing today, following a shindig in the Village last night. It was one of those 'significant birthday' bashes where you peer at someone you haven't seen for ten years, who looks vaguely recognisable apart from Hammer's make-up department having run riot on their physog in the intervening period, and struggle to put a name to the wizened face. Naturally I took the easy way out by gulping down a couple of bottles of fizz in quick order, then passing out in the cab on the way back to the old Chelsea pied a terre.

Snoozing under the goose down doona this morning, my nightmare about tempus fugiting was rudely interrupted by the postman delivering a parcel from Australia. Inside was a DVD of Mr Ceaucescu (no relation)'s latest masterpiece, Dodgy Didgy Gang Bang. Having watched the first few minutes, I can assure you it's not for the fainthearted. The disc was accompanied by a note from the auteur himself saying he's hooked up with my old chum Jimmy Wicket the Human Tripod for his next epic, working title Wankenstein's Monster. Apparently he's already got the funding in place!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ramsgate Harbour Goes Down The Drain

One of my spies has emailed me this (click on it to enlarge):

Eurgh! As if there wasn't already enough sh*t floating around in our lovely Royal Harbour, now it appears the drains from the Royal Sands (Pleasurama in old money) development will run into the inner basin! Admittedly, it's only the water off the roof, but as my correspondent writes:

I have never seen anything written about this, then a couple of days ago I found this leaflet had come through my letterbox.

I personally think that Ramsgate Royal Harbour and Marina should be left out from the Royal Sands Development. Yachtsmen, after investing thousand of pounds in their yachts, will surely not be happy to share the water in the harbour with the sewage (it remains to be seen if it's just 'rain water') from the new development.

I haven't seen any planning application regarding this. I feel that some questions should be asked of TDC's planning and environmental department, KCC and Southern Water, who should surely be providing a proper 21st century sewage system for Ramsgate, where every time there is a downpour something floods.

Quite! How much are the mooring fees down there? And when was the last time anyone from the council got off their poop deck and scooped out the captain's log, let alone dredged the blasted thing? I think we should be told!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wonderwoman To Save Planet Thanet

In case you hadn't noticed, there's going to be a general election this year. Already I've had my knocker rattled by a nice young man from the Lib Dems. And this morning a leaflet extolling the virtues of Laura Sandys, Tory candidate for South Thanet, plopped through the letterbox.

As you know, I announced my backing for Laura after the current incumbent, Labour's Dr Steve Ladyman, accused Thanet bloggers of lying during that spot of bother with Euroferries last November. With only 664 votes in it, lovely Laura should only have to spin round a few times to walk it.

But it's not just her winning smile, flowing locks, sparkling eyes and gleaming gnashers that make me think of Wonderwoman every time I see her. No, she's 'committed to real change' and 'will serve every resident, with care for those in need, with a commitment to a better future, and with a determination to fight injustice'. A true superhero! She supports 'green collar jobs', 'local tourism jobs', and, of course, our poor beknighted fisherfolk, who can barely scrape together the dosh to run their 09 plate Range Rover V8s these days. She backs savers and pensioners, promotes local tourism, campaigns for safer roads, protects our environment, and raises money for charity.

Not only that, but she's posh totti too! Phwoar! No wonder her husband's Randy!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

East Of The Wantsums

Lumme! Ploughing through a plenitude of emails that have been festering in my inbox for the last few weeks, I was reminded that I've also neglected to publish the last three EotWs on the blog.

For those of you in the dark, every week I do a hilarious strip for the Isle of Thanet Gazunder, our local blue top. Now, when I say 'hilarious', I do understand that there are those of you out there who think it's utter gusset. But in my defence, it's bloody hard to come up with drivel like this week in, week out, especially when you're not being paid for it. The only thing that keeps me going is the crystal meth my kind friend Josh supplies from that clapped out HMO on the corner.

By the way, if there are any publications out there who would be prepared to help supply my habit by offering real money for this sort of cods, do get in touch!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hartfelt Response

Cripes! One of my moles has just sent me a copy of an email exchange between Thanet Labour leader Clive Hart and Westgate Blue Rinser Brian Goodwin.

Sir Clive, via a round robin email, had asked the Margate Mayor's Parlour (Prop. Mrs Sandy Beach, currently sunning herself on a, er, sandy beach) to include his missus on the mailing list for the Margate Charter Trustees, seeing as she was recently elected to the Dane Valley ward following the resignation of the Tory member for Panama, Steve Broadhurst.

Back came the response from Cllr Goodwin:

great mind you like her other half she will not turn up so we don,t have to worry
cllr b goodwin

Oops! Methinks cllr b goodwin hit the 'reply all' button there by mistake! The white-haired knight has now sprung nobly to the defence of the other half of his Hart to Hart team with a stinging rebuke, viz:

Cllr Goodwin

Thank you for your garbled and virtually incoherent message (below) that you sent to me in response to my perfectly legitimate request for Cllr Sandra Hart to be added to the mailing list as a Charter Trustee.

I believe you owe Sandra an apology for the nasty manner in which you refer to her in your message. Sandra has been a council member for just over a month now and already she has been made to feel very intimidated and unwelcome on two previous occasions. She certainly doesn't need you to add any further to her disappointment.

I personally have very good reasons for not attending Charter Trustee meetings for some time now, ever since I witnessed the disgusting and appalling behaviour of one Trustee at the Winter Gardens. As my wife, Sandra was with me at the time, and she has never received an apology for the disgusting behaviour and appalling language she was forced to witness and hear that was used by a fellow Charter Trustee towards myself and other Trustee's.

The fact is that the 'we don't have to worry' wording that you use in your tiny little message says it all. The Charter Trustee's are supposed to act in a non-political manner but in your haste to discharge your venom your guard has dropped and you've exposed what is now clear for all to see.

Cllr. Sandra Hart may or may not attend Charter Trustee meetings - she has her own mind - please do not attempt to pre-judge her or me!


Cllr. Clive Hart.

Politics, eh? Doncha just love it!

Smug shot: cllr b goodwin

Monday, January 18, 2010

Going To The Polls

In response to a request from fellow Thanet blogger Bertie Biggles, I've popped one of my seven day polls in the sidebar on the right. It's based on the premise that the current Tory leader of Thanet Council, Sandy 'Two Hats' Ezekiel, could be chucking in both of them this year, thus precipitating a leadership election and/or selection.

Personally, not being the least bit inclined towards the Blue Rinsers, I'd prefer to see them all cast off into the North Sea. Hence I've made my own suggestion, which would be a much more honest choice if you ask me, given that we could all be pretty sure whose hand was up his fundament, working him from below.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tiptoe Through The Poo Tips

Now that I've recovered somewhat from the jet lag, I thought I'd take an inaugural toddle around the Millionaires' Playground. As I weaved past the thawing dog nuts and piles of uncollected rubbish on the pavements, a familiar feeling came over me.

On the one hand the startling beauty and setting of this town in the magic hour when the sun's setting can still take my breath away, just like the first time I clapped eyes on it all those years ago. Indeed, you could see it in the eyes of the hoards of newcomers who were strolling along the prom. You can spot them by the wistful glint as they survey their new manor, and the fact that they've not been dressed from a skip. They've been lured here, no doubt, by the new high speed train link (posters for which have sprung up everywhere in my absence), the Regency and Victorian properties at knock down (before they fall down) prices and the wondrous Thanet coastscape.

Only this week, Ramsgate was yet again named, along with Plymouth, as a national property hotspot, just as it was at the end of 2005, prompting my move here and spawning these feeble jottings, now in their fifth inglourious year. But after five years, the scales have well truly fallen from my eyes, the barker's nest on the cake being our local administration, guided, as it is, by lacklustre, dimwitted yokels who'd roll their trouser leg up and sell their granny, along with a free tube of KY, if there was a quick buck to be made.

But it's not all bad news. Ramsgate Council and the Eastcliff Residents' Association (of which I have never been a member, and of which I am never likely to be now they've had some sort of palace coup and a website revamp which has deleted the link to the eponymous area's most famous resident) have both come up with retorts to the Duffers' planning consultation which goes as far as they can in saying 'up yours' to the airport without being accused of stifling the (non-existent) 'jobs effect' so often touted by its supporters. Remember, more than a decade ago they were promising 10,000 jobs. So far it's created less than 100.

Back to that property report, and one of the stated reasons for Ramsgate being touted as a speculators' paradise is the new (also non-existent) fast ferry link to Boulogne. I see our local good egghead and biblio-bloke Michael Child has been blowing the whistle on this. Well, he may say that, but I couldn't possibly comment, still being held to ransom as I am by the putative operators. Suffice it to say that Visit Britain (the British Tourist Board in old money) thinks they've been running since 14 November (see link below), and that's good enough for me.

Even the high speed trains hardly covered themselves in glory, I hear, during the Big Snow of 2009. As I've been writing this, the sun's gone down, and the tracksuited youths are marching up and down outside, threatening to set fire to a discarded estate agent's sign that's cluttering up the pavement. Oh dear, I feel the old cynicism creeping over me again!

Southeastern high speed trains
Ramsgate tipped as property hotspot on
Ramsgate to be 'millionaires' playground' (from 2006)
Latest on fast ferry to Boulogne on Thanetonline
Visit Britain's quarterly update (pdf download)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

TV Dinner

Well, after a jolly old think, I finally decided to return to our septic isle and am currently sitting here in my cliff top mansion, freezing my butt off. As a, er, sensible financial precaution I turned the heating off before my trip down under, not expecting a second ice age to descend and transform the place into Santa's grotto. Brrrr!

In fact I should really say 'butts', as being crammed into an economy class seat for 24 hours has had the effect of drawing a horizontal line across my arse cheeks, giving the old Eastcliff derriere a curious, four-buttocked profile not unlike the the rear view of one of those track-suited Margate mums who's made the mistake of cramming her size 20 behind into a pair of size 12 panties. A sort of hot, cross bum if you like.

For the next few days I'll be chillaxing and catching up on the latest Thanet goss. One piece of news that has already caught my eye is the start of a new, online Thanet TV station. Apparently they've been handed £100,000 worth of taxpayers sovs on the basis that they'll be getting unemployed youngsters to post videos on BoobTube. The words 'money', 'old' and 'rope' spring to mind. And their qualifications for this largesse? Well, leading light Rachel Saint runs something called 'Busy Mummy', which helps young mums.

It's left me pondering how much someone (moi) who has actually worked in grown-up television might expect for popping in an application and ticking a few boxes. It's got to be worth half a mill, surely? I think all my financial problems may just have been solved. Ker-ching!

Click here to read Thanet TV story on the Gazunder website

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Dim

With the mercury currently up to 43 degrees C (110 in old money) here in the Australian outback, the prospect of going home to face the coldest winter in 1000 years is not exactly grabbing me by the goolies.

When I think about it though, it's not so much the change of temperature as the hassle of getting home, and what awaits when I get there, that's putting me off. Let's face it, 24 hours in an aluminium tube breathing 400 people's recycled farts is hardly the stuff of dreams. Crammed into a seat that would make even my diminutive old showbiz chum Ronnie Corbett claustrophobic and picking at a rubber meal while the fat bloke next to you elbows you in the ribs for the tenth time, with Captain Caruthers muttering something about it being 'a bit bumpy' up ahead over the Tannoy, really doesn't do it for me.

'Why not go first class?' I hear you shout. Well the truth is, dear reader, that's the other half of the equation. The old ECR finances are in a woeful state and have been for some time. 'Thank you for choosing Cathay Pacific' they intone on your way out. Truth is, there was no choice involved. They were the cheapest. Like Tiger Woods, who I snapped above in an ad for Accenture at Terminal 3 as it awaited the sponsor's sponge, my career is in the doldrums. And I haven't even had the pleasure of boffing a few cocktail waitresses along the way.

'It's what you do next that counts,' says the slogan in the ad, as poor old Tigger looks forlornly at his ball, stuck on a ledge by the creek. It says it all really. Both for him, and for me. Downstairs I can hear Jimmy Wicket working on his human tripod routine in the rumpus room. A bright new career awaits me writing his gags, dressing his massive prosthetic, and fending off the pot throwers at the local RSL. The words 'rock' and 'hard place' spring to mind.

Maybe I will brave the flight and the snow after all.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Bush Tucker Trial

While you lot freeze your knackers and/or clackers off, I'm suffering in my jocks in 40+! I've moved up country to Jimmy Wicket's holiday home (he's taken a bit of a shine to me), where I'm undergoing ordeal by barbie and esky, which involves being force fed juicy steak, yummy prawns and slabs of ice cool stubbies. At this rate, I'm very tempted to take up Jimmy's offer of becoming his stooge and making Oz my permanent place of abode.

Mind you, the heat brings its own risks. The whole state is dry as a nun's nasty, and everywhere is on bushfire alert. When you consider that almost 200 people lost their lives due to bushfires in this area a year ago, it puts a few Poms whingeing about a bit of snow, some disrupted trains and a lack of grit into perspective, doesn't it?

I'll leave you with that thought, and to show I'm not totally out of touch with the latest happenings in the Cannes of Kent, here's a couple of shots a reader sent me of how the Pleasurama/Royal Sands/Titanic development is coming along!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Postcard From Victoria

Or Melbourne to be more precise. Here I am enjoying a well deserved cold one on Fed Square, watching the Aussies getting their arses whooped on the big screen by the Pakistanis in the second test.

Melbourne looks a bit like Croydon on steroids, but most of the tour I've been stuck in hot, sweaty bush razzing up the cobbers with my old schtick. Bev, my agent, got her wires crossed and it turned out I wasn't standing in for Jimmy Cricket after all, but an Aussie comedian called Jimmy Wicket who specialises in a rather more crude version of Rolf Harris's Jake the Peg act. Still, I've only been pelted with prawns once.

The weather's been very variable. 40 degree heat with flies chasing the tucker down your throat, followed by torrential thunder storms, floods and English temperatures. Whilst perusing the shops on Brunswick Street earlier, I bumped into my old mucker Mr Ceaucescu (no relation), who's wangled a visa to relocate his film/plumbing/card cloning outfit to Melbourne. He's recently been given a grant from the Australian Film Commission to make a short about an aboriginal musician who takes his native instrument into a repair shop and gets more than he bargained for. He's calling it Dodgy Didgy Gang Bang and asked if I'd be prepared to contribute a small part. Needless to say I declined.

Brunswick Street is apparently one of the trendiest parts of Melbourne, despite looking slightly shabbier than Cliftonville. It's amazing the difference a few good coffee shops, some cool clobber boutiques, the odd vegetarian restaurant, a smattering of jewellery studios, trams and a shedload of white dudes with dreadlocks on skateboards can make. Maybe there's a lesson there for the Ile de Thanet!