Saturday, July 31, 2010

China Gateway Bigged Up In Property Week

Ooh! Somebody's spent a bob or two on this flashy CGI fly-thru of the putative China Gateway over at Manston, which was given planning approval two years ago amid Tesco bag accusations of freebie trips for councillors, and since when has come to, er, sod all.

It's part of a puff piece in yesterday's Property Week which begins: 'Building a 3.3m sq ft business park by the north Kent coast might seem like a risky idea in present economic conditions, but developer China Gateway International says it's entirely viable – if it can obtain investment from the Far East.'

Sounds to me like a case of which will come first, the 1000 year old chicken or the 1000 year old egg! It's worth watching the thing right through to the finish (if you don't end up airsick first), when you'll see night descend and the entire array of sheds glowing in the Thanet countryside like a freshly minted uranium rod.

Another One For IsleOne

I'm contractually obliged to point out that I've squeezed out another one for IsleOne. Do pop over there and take a sniff!

East Of The Wantsum

Sticking with the theme of unsafe, poorly maintained, knackered old cargo jets crashing into the Millionaires' Playground and wiping out half the population, here's this week's East of the Wantsum!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Knackered Old Jets Banned

This just in here at the big ECR newsroom... the loudest planes to use Chas 'n' Dave Tracey Emin Margate Manston RAF International Airport have been banned from Belgian airspace for safety reasons!

The ban on Meridian Airways, which operates the ancient DC8s that rattle your windows and your Auntie Gladys's teeth while taking off and landing over our septic isle, was introduced yesterday. The Flems are also recommending that the Ghanaian registered, Ostend based cargo company is put on the EU airline blacklist.

The news follows several safety inspections which found technical failures and issues with the maintenance of Meridian's aircraft.

So, hurrah for the Belgians! If it wasn't for them, KCC, TDC and Manston owners Infratil would be happily allowing these buckets to operate right over our heads. What a quality operation we have in our back yard!

Click here for more on Meridian ban (in French)
Click here to see Meridian still proudly advertised on Manston website

Asdy Asy Dy

Reader Bill has sent me the above cutting from today's Isle of Thanet Gazunder. As you can see, it shows a group of grown men clasping their, er, orchids with the caption 'Asdas tdt as dyy asdy asy dy asy dy asy dasy dy asy dy asd'.

Which translates roughly as 'Nob sub forgets to change caption place holder.' Honestly, the standards of journalism these days!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Visitor Information Information

My spies on what I like to think of as the Croisette here in the Cannes of Kent report that the visitor information centre in the newly renovated Custom House didn't open today, despite coachloads of crumblies and other incomers being deposited in the plethora of car parks that Thanet Council has so considerately conferred on us by knocking down all our amenities.

This is curious, as I was under the impression that Ramsgate Town Council had done a deal with diminutive developer Terry Painter to provide visitorial services on a 7/7 basis. Word has it that the man who has more fingers in more pies than Greggs has suddenly and unexpectedly pulled his finger out of this particular pastry. Anyone know any more?

Still, riding to the rescue is none other than my old sparring partner Cllr/Dr Biggles, who's emailed me with details of a new tourism application he's come up with. Simes writes:

If you can spare the 50p cost of an SMS then you might like to test and let others know of a tourism application concept that I came up with. It uses some very clever technology developed and patented by one of our local companies, that leverages the latest generation of mobile phones and we've already got the likes of Avis and 118 118 using the platform for marketing purposes.

Anyway, if you want to find out at any time what's on in Thanet, send the text "tourism" to 80012 and you'll get a link sent back to your phone. From the menu you can then choose Thanet!

It's not 100% comprehensive but we are using Thanet for proof of concept collating information on local events. What makes this so unique and interesting to the larger players is that we can attach one-time vouchers that can be redeemed at local businesses; i.e. 2 for 1 deals etc

All feedback appreciated!

Happy to oblige, Simes! Although forgive me if I don't try it personally. I'm still reeling from your 'trails of breadcrumbs' diatribe a few years back, and I'd hate to think this was some ruse to snaffle my mobile number!!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Goodness Gracious, Great Walls Of Mire!

Pootling around the interwhatsit just now, I thought I'd cop a butcher's at the Great Wall of Ramsgate website. The Great Wall is, if you remember, GO'D's project to get the Pleasurama/Royal Sands eyesore hoarding plastered. In paintings.

So far there ain't much to see, apart from the above Photoshop mock-up. Can anyone spot the deliberate error?

On The Buses

'Ere, Stan! Have you clapped eyes on that new clippy yet? She's a crackin' bit of stuff!

Er, right. I seem to have slipped into Reg Varney mode for a second there. Anyway it appears I've struck a rich vein with yesterday's bussy news, as reader Nick has sent me these two superb photos from his archive. Nick writes: 'Here's a photo of a nearly new Daimler Fleetline pictured at Cecil Square, Margate c1970. Curiously, it's the same bus in the colour picture a few years later in the Millionaire's Playground!'

Well thanks for those Nick. Nostalgia ain't what it used to be, eh!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Off The Buses

Reader Mick writes:

It has come to my notice that if one tries to hail the local stage heading for Broadstairs at around 9.00 am in the morning one will find that the trusty steed ignores your hail and serenely cruises by, seemingly oblivious to one's predicament. If by chance it does stop, one sees that it's full up and is merely stopping for the odd passenger to fight their way off. Although of doubtful legality a machete is recommended for this exercise.

The reason for this phenomenon is that it is full of our fellow youthful EU citizens who have invaded it en masse, like the Normans of old. They are, of course, heading to the Isle's renowned seat of learning known as Thanet College (famed as a celebrity chef factory), to learn our great language. Including, of course, the vernacular, no doubt hurled at the stage as it passes by irate Thanet citizens unable to board.

One Thanet resident informed me: 'I had to wait half an hour before I could get on one of these bloody buses. It was much better when transport was by East Kent Road Car Company double decker rather than these cut down charabancs. Ah those were the days!

Ah yes, Mick. Those were the days indeed. I don't remember them personally, but those, as you rightly say, were the days.

Er, has anyone else had trouble getting on a bus recently?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Airport Consultation Takes Off Again

Now that blighting night flights are back on the agenda at Manston, Kent's Chas 'n' Dave Margate Tracey Emin International RAF Airport, it seems the Consultative Committee, which liaises between residents, the council and owners Infartil, is set to meet again.

Here's what they'll be gassing on about in the airport terminal lounge at 3.15pm tomorrow:


1. Chairman's welcome & opening remarks

2. Minutes of last meeting

3. Introduction of our new secretary, Heidi Golden

4. Introduction of the new Airport CEO, Charles Buchanan

5. Complaints/feedback - at all stages (Charles Buchanan, Brian White)

6. The linked issue of the website (Charles B)

7. The planning application for the radar (Charles B)

8. Consultation on TMZ: transponders (Peter Thompson, Senior ATCO, Charles B)

9. Situation report on the Consultation on Night Noise (Brian W, Charles B)

10. The usual report on environmental issues from TDC (Brian W, another)

11. The usual report from the Airport management (Charles B)

12. Any other business, notified in advance to the Chairman or Secretary

It almost looks like a fresh start, what with a new boss at the helm of the airport (Charles 'Smug' Buchanan) and a new secretary at the helm of the committee (Heidi 'I Haven't Thought Of A Nickname For Her Yet' Golden).

Of course, the one constant is TDC's Director of Regeneration, Brian 'Eeh, Wouldn't An Airport The Size Of Stansted Be Chuffin' Lovely' White!

You Ain't Nothin' But A Newshound

Reader Steve writes: 'Knowing your proclivity for all things Gazunder-related, I thought you might like this snap I took of three Isle of Thanet Gazetteers at the Ramsgate Carnival yesterday. Can you name them? The carnival was a great success by the way, and very well attended.'

Well thanks for that Steve. I recognise the Greek god on the left - it's Andy 'Chopper' Woodman if I'm not mistaken. And that looks like Saul Leese behind the make-up on the right. But I can't place Wonder Woman in the middle. Any clues?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wish You Were Here Too?

Reader Kevin, who went on a tour of Margate's unfinished Turner Contemporary yesterday, writes:

I am completely disinterested in this project but I wondered if you would like my immediate impressions...

I arrived five minutes before the hour, brandishing the letter saying I’d been invited on the tour. The person I invited along and I were pleasantly shepherded in to Droit House to receive our fluorescent jacket and hard hat.

Assembling at the front entrance to the site, we paused as the KCC guy and the Turner lady welcomed us to the tour and mentioned facts, figures, safety concerns (it’s a building site, so try not to trip) and the ban on the use of cameras on the (spurious) reason of copyright issues.

Entering the site, we were then lead on a predetermined route through the concrete walls/hanging wires/scaffolding that is the Turner at the moment.

I don’t know how much of it, if any, you have seen but it is a lot bigger on the inside than can be seen on the outside. Tardis came to mind.

Our group of 25 were then led on a tour of the future reception area, cafe, shop, gallery, and conference space on the ground floor, and large gallery spaces and education space on the first.

Big windows. No, seriously big windows. They have put in big floor to ceiling windows in every space, and the roof is 60 ft in places, but to get valuable works of art down to a seaside setting they have an atmosphere controlled/we can control the natural light area, which means that as well as contemporary art works there will be ‘proper pictures' on the walls (sorry, I asked the question, but I prefer ‘proper pictures') including, from the opening, a ‘Turner’ on loan from the Tate.

Our group were invited to ask questions and they involved what type of floor in the gallery, the lift (it will be able to hold 100 people, apparently) and the type of art on display.

After 45 minutes we returned our safety gear and, passing the television cameras, left to make our own minds up.

Yes, obviously it’s still a building site.

It is a lot bigger inside than you would think.

It will have great views, though they were already there.

The people involved really care.

I asked Turner lady if she could give us a one sentence reply to pass on to people who moan about the ‘eyesore’ on Margate harbour. She said things about ‘Dynamic’ ‘Forward Looking’ etc.

I would suggest they just say ‘Give it a chance'.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wish You Were Here?

Regular contributor Millicent has sent me this charming postcard from Das Kunstbunker, aka the Turner Contemporary. She writes: 'It was given out free at an event I attended. According to the back, KCC, TDC and the Arts Council have all paid for this wonderful view of the Turner Contemporary under construction in 2010. Hardly the most awe-inspiring topic is it?'

Oh well, just wait until it's finished Millicent. Although that could be a big ask if the ConDem coalition pushes through its threatened 25% cuts in arts grants. Who knows, it could suffer the same fate as some of the schools round here. If that were the case, the lucky locals who were offered sneak peeks today could be some of its only visitors!

Still, the Turner could always go begging. Which, in fact, it has. All you have to do is pop along to the Just Giving website and pledge your sovs. Mind you, most Thanetians wouldn't stretch to 50p for the meter to keep their gran's life support machine going, so good luck to them with that.

And talking of Thanetians, I hear that many talented and well qualified DFLs have been rejected without even an interview for the slew of jobs that recently went begging at the Turner, purely for the crime of putting a Thanet postcode on their CV!

Friday, July 23, 2010

East Of The Wantsum

It's Friday! And that means only one thing, East of the Wantsum fans! Yes! It's East of the Wantsum!

A Bunch Of Anchors

Regular contributor Walter emails me to say: 'I dropped into the new visitor centre in the Custom House today to find that the Port of Ramsgate (wish you were here) cards exclaim that the harbour has four gold anchors. A quick visit elsewhere indicated that they have only three.'

Well spotted Walter! For earlier this year it was a case of 'anchors away!' when the Yacht Harbour Association removed one of their nautical plaudits, due the parlous state of, well, just about everything in our lovely marina. Give that man a, er, gold star!

Another One For IsleOne

Do pop over to IsleOne and read my latest bilge, or the brown envelopes will stop arriving. Ker-ching!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Alarming News

Ramsgate reader Pete writes:

We have a car parked outside our house. It isn't ours and it doesn't belong to any of our neighbours. Somebody who lives elsewhere has parked it there. It's quite a nice car so they have set the alarm. But the alarm is faulty. It goes off intermittently throughout the day and night. It's been doing this since Sunday night.

I phoned the police. They have access to the registration details and can contact the owner. However, they tell me they have no powers to make the owner turn the alarm off. They gave me a number to ring for TDC's environmental protection team.

The number they gave me took me to an answerphone message saying that this number was now defunct. It told me that TDC only works during office hours (in my experience they don't do much then, either). The call was then diverted to a call centre run by Amiscus Horizon in Sittingbourne. A cheery chap on the end of the line told me that TDC doesn't provide any service for dealing with noise complaints out of hours. He told me that I would need to make repeated complaints to the Council and that, eventually, they might issue some kind of enforcement notice to the owner. I'm assuming the battery on the car will have gone flat before this happens.

I'm just wondering what happened to the jack-booted militia who were all set to confiscate our stereos and ghetto-blasters. I was under the impression that Councils were supposed to enforce the legislation which had been introduced to deal with noisy neighbours. Just wait until the unwashed serving classes find out that they can crank up the volume and that granny next-door can do nothing about it. The Millionaires' Playground will soon become the Rappers' Playpen.

P.S. We have to create employment in Thanet, so we contract out answering the phone to a chap in Sittingbourne. Presumably nobody on the dole in Thanet is qualified to answer a phone?

Well Pete, I find the flying poodles pretty annoying at this time of year too, what with all their, er, 'fighting' at four in the morning. So I've taken to kipping in a pair of industrial strength ear defenders. Maybe TDC could save the dosh they spend on providing non-services by issuing a couple of pairs free to every household?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Never Let A Dayglo By

These bright orange 'Private Parking' signs in Pier Yard make an attractive addition to the heritage architecture, doncha think? Still, if I was paying close on a grand for the privilege of parking up my Priapus, I suppose I wouldn't want the oiks hogging my space either!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ramsgate Drug Dealers Go To Pot

Wending through the grimy, East Cliff back streets to the local Premier (Costcutter in old money) for my copy of Gra*ia last night, I spied the local drug dealer tooling around on his mountain bike. He'd occasionally stop, give his distinctive cheery whistle, and a ghost would approach him with the dosh for the necessary.

How different from three or four years ago when deliveries were made by dudes in top of the range Audis! It's tempting to think the umpteen raids on cannabis factories across the island have driven the poor chap to pedal power, but personally I blame the bankers. They just can't afford the stuff any more.

Let's hope that with Dave and, er, that other bloke now in charge we can ride out this economic crisis and at least get him up to an ice cream van with Brown Sugar blaring out of the Tannoy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Booze News

Noooooooooooooo! Eagle-eyed reader Ken has sent me this snap of an alcohol licence review notice which has gone up in the window of Waitrose, here in the Millionaires' Playground.

The supermarket is probably one of the few reasons there is any kind of discerning middle class still left in Ramsgate, if not the whole of Thanet, with the booze counter being a Mecca for anyone with a palate that stretches beyond White Lightning and cheap, fizzy leg opener. Ken says:

Apparently the police are requesting a review of Waitrose's licence because of the high level of reported incidents of shoplifting etc from the store. The store apparently reports all incidents and regularly provides names of offenders and security video confirmation but the police do nothing. They are now requesting a review of the licence because of the high offence levels reported. Who would blame Waitrose for shutting up shop because of such stupidity. So where is YOU CALL - WE WILL COME? [See previous item]

Quite. And knowing how jealous our Margate-centric council feels about Ramsgate's revival, I wouldn't be surprised if they withdrew the licence out of spite in the hope that it would drive out Waitrose, leaving us with another eyesore of a building in the centre of town. Or perhaps they're in cahoots with their friends at Tesco!!!??!!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Kent Cops Make Up For Budget Cuts By Running Sex Line

Lift Behind

Reader Bill writes: 'The sign on the door says 'Open weekends 10am to 6pm'. It's Saturday, 11am. It's closed.'

Aha! Time for TDC to eat another of my shorts!

Flog Your Assets

Shushing back to the Millionaires' Playground in the old Priapus yesterday evening, I almost drove straight on into the harbour as I passed West Cliff Hall (motor museum in old money).

Despite a well organised, well developed and well backed citizen-led plan to return the crumbling pile into a useful space for the people of Ramsgate, the rotters at TDC have gone and bunged it up for auction. And as residential too! What's that all about? A quick tour of the Harman Healy website revealed, er, west cliff 'all.

My spies tell me that the sign's appeared without notice, and despite a promise to consider carefully the proposal to turn it into a community arts space and cafe. A sort of Van Gogh Contemporary but at a fraction of the cost, if you like. Ah, er, now that may explain it. The Cecil Square duffers wouldn't want anything on the south side upstaging their precious, £24m Turnip, would they?

Meanwhile I see the whole of the Gazunder's second page is devoted this week to the World According to Chief Duffer Councillor Baywatch, in which he says he intends to conduct a review of all properties and sites for sale under the council's asset disposal programme. But presumably not this one. 'The lengths that people are prepared to go to to protect these sites may mean that we have misjudged public opinion,' says the Bearded One in a triumph of understatement.

Update: The Mayor of Ramsgate has now said in the comments to this post 'Auction has been suspended pending detail disscussion with interested group.' Phew!

Friday, July 16, 2010

East Of The Wantsum

Another week, another East of the Wantsum! Apologies for the 48 hour absence, but I've been getting a bit of peace and quiet up in the big city. Well, it's not exactly been all rest and no play, as you can read in my first item for IsleOne. A bientot!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Oozalum Bird

Flamin' Concordes! The training flights have returned! As a tribute, here's a short film I made a while back demonstrating just how crap it is to have knackered old 747s going over every nine minutes, a few hundred feet up. Doors and windows rattle and shake. Car alarms are set off.

Trouble is, there's no longer a complain button on the airport's website. With an important deadline to meet, there's nothing for it but to charge up the Priapus and charge up the M2 to the old London pied-a-terre for a spot of peace and quiet.

And there was me planning to spend a few sovs in the Millionaires' Playground tomorrow!

Update: Er, actually it's not a knackered old 747, it's this great big lump:

Meanwhile I see some doofus on the government's Spending Challenge website has proposed relocating freight flights from Heathrow to Manston. He/she/it says: 'Improvements to the infrastructure could be made at a lower cost than destroying villages in and around the current proposed Labour government preferred location (at Heathrow) [They've been scrapped, dillweed]. Noise and aircraft pollution would be directed out in to the North sea area.'


Any Portland In A Storm?

Word on the nautical grapevine (or scuttlebutt as it's known in maritime circles) is that a well known fast ferry company that can't be named for legal reasons (and can't provide a service from Ramsgate either, despite many promises), is sniffing around Portland Harbour near Weymouth.

Portland describes itself as 'the UK's newest commercial port', boasting the second largest man made harbour in the world, and a quick whizz around its website shows that a huge amount of investment has been made recently. Certainly there don't appear to be any holes that a boat hoist could fall down!

My guess is that it would be in the right place for services to the Channel Islands and St Malo. If they can find a boat this time, that is!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Quay Hole Surgery

Holy harbours! The salty seamen down in our lovely naval basin tell me that this hole, which has hastily been covered up with a metal Band-Aid, was caused by the boat hoist going through the tarmac! Here's the boat hoist:

The idea is it picks your floating gin palace up out of the water, and then drives it to the quay on the right where you can scrub the barnacles off your poop deck at your leisure.

Apparently it went in right up to its, er, ankles. But fortunately it wasn't carrying my £250K Sunseeker, or anybody else's, at the time.

It just goes to show what a parlous state the Cecil Square Duffers have allowed Ramsgate's Royal Harbour to get into. No wonder the marina lost one of its coveted Golden Anchors earlier this year.

Our beloved council have now fessed up, and the island's hacks were apparently invited down there to gawp today. According to my matelot mates, as part of the council's proposed groovy new staff structure at Maritime Services, there won't even be a full time engineer down there in future. I presume that's something the local scribblers weren't told!

Something For The Petty File

Reader Bill has sent me this photo with the comment: 'Given everything we read in the News of the World, I'm glad there's a picture of a dog there, just to make things clear'. Quite.

Monday, July 12, 2010

How Many Councillors Does It Take To Change A Lightbulb?

More than 16, it would seem, if this photo I was sent is anything to go by. It's from the interior of Ramsgate's teeny-tiny council HQ at the new Old Custom House, where only three bulbs on these magnificent chandeliers appear to be working.

I know some councillors can barely make it to the full 40 watts on their own account, but you'd think they'd want their brand new building to look a bit flasher than this! If they're bent on saving dosh and going Green (Geddit!?!???!) then they could invest in some of those energy saving bulbs that go on until the last trump and cost 3p a year to illuminate.

What with this and the lights out on the East Pier, it's all a sad cry from the days when the Millionaires' Playground prided itself on its illuminations. As we saw recently from our local biblio-bloke's blog, a mere 60 years ago our Mayor was proudly switching on 25,000 coloured lamps and expressing the hope that Ramsgate might become the Blackpool of the south, or that in future Blackpool might be known as the Ramsgate of the north.

I suppose these days the boast would be we're the black hole of Thanet!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Night Flight Blight Back

Yikes! I see The Duffers have put all-night knackered old jumbos on the agenda again! The council's Airport Working Party is set to meet on the 19th, and one of the items for discussion is 'Night Time Flying Policy' (aka the Stanstedification of Ramsgate and Herne Bay).

Meanwhile, I've been doing some background research on the new boss of RAF Chas 'n' Dave Manston Margate International. Infratil's new wunderkind, Charles Buchanan, used to be variously Head of Business Development ('Sales' in old money), Director of Strategy ('Thinking') and Director of Communications ('Bullshit') at London City Airport, before disappearing for a while and then turning up at Manston.

Charlie boy was put in the firing line by his bosses when London City applied to expand, and was described as 'the smug toad who sat crossed armed laughing and smiling at protesters and residents.' Ooh look, there's more here:

Such was the anger he instilled that people actually shouted at the speaker to ask him to stop his smug, smarmy little smirks. Such was people's ire after watching his actions at the planning meeting, we were inundated by upset people offering help and assistance.

Looks like Infartil have hired a right Charlie!

Click here to sign the NO NIGHT FLIGHTS! petition

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Word From Our Sponsor

For nigh on five years now, Thanet's Premier Blog has been bringing you all the news that's unfit to print, uncluttered by advertising or the need to plug some product, service or political doctrine.

Which means you haven't had to miss a single goal (ITV), or had useless tut from B&Q rammed down your throat just when you were about find out how to build a nuclear submarine (Quest).

But times are tough. Even for (Columbian Peso) millionaires like me. Yes, it's sad to say, dear reader, but I was recently reduced to buying a case of Shampagne from Aldi, steaming off the labels and replacing them with ones I'd photocopied from my last bottle of Krug. Shameful, I know, but after the tenth bottle nobody really noticed.

Where I work, in TV land, belts are being tightened. Top executives are seeing their pay slashed by up to 25%, leaving them with a meagre £400K-£500K a year to scrape by on. Nobody can afford to keep a Georgian town house in Chelsea and a villa in Tuscany on that sort of money.

So after much consideration I've persuaded the board of Eastcliff Richard (Virgin Islands) (2005) Ltd to allow some tasteful sponsorship. You won't be confronted by the kind of Googlesplatter you see on some of the more tawdry Thanet blogs. Just the occasional ad for useful things, carefully selected and road-tested by yours truly.

My first sponsor is IsleOne, a splendidly informative and superbly designed website chock full of luvvly Fannit fings, brought to you by top webmeisters freshfishdesign. I urge you all to pay a visit.

And if you'd like your name in front of thousands of readers a week, other slots are available. All it costs is less than a bottle of decent fizz a month, stuffed in cash into the customary brarn envelope, and deposited at an address of my choosing. Just email me at

Silly Cnut

Lumme! Have those wacky Top Gear types been up to their madcap larks again? Have they been filming another of their hugely entertaining and not at all formulaic 'challenges', this time driving a Mercedes estate from Broadstairs to Belgium without using a road?

No. In fact this chap reversed into the sea yesterday to get his boat out and got stuck. Then the tide came in. As it inevitably does. That's going to take a bit of, er, valeting.

Thanks to reader George for the footage.

Friday, July 09, 2010

East Of The Wantsum

Here's today's EotW. As ever, click it to big it.

It's anyone's guess which page it'll appear on in our local blue top from week to week. Today it was under Countdown to Turner, my old journalist chum John Kampfner's column, writing in his guise as chairman of the Turnip Centre trustees.

I'm sure John won't mind me saying (as he probably didn't write it, but only put his name to it) that I've never read so much fantasy guff in my life. If his column is to be believed, Margate is about to be transformed into some kind of Willy Wonka wonderland, where the streets will be paved with Saatchi gold, and fifty pound notes will spew from the top of the Turner Contemporary every day for the 'ickle Margit chilren to collect. And not a mention of any destination south of Westwood Cross.

You can read it all on the excellent Margate Architecture blog, where it's been scanned and reproduced, along with, as it happens, East of the Wantsum. I don't recall giving my permission for that!

Meanwhile John Kampfner has rather more reason to celebrate in his capacity as CEO of Index on Censorship, part of the campaign group that has been fighting our archaic and draconian libel laws. The ConDems announced today that they will review our ridiculous statutes, which have made us the laughing stock of the world, and London the centre of international libel tourism.

So, if all goes well, in a couple of years time, I may be able to tell you what really happened with Euroferries!

Golfing News

Lilliputian laughtermaker Ronnie Corbett will be opening the new clubhouse at Stonelees Golf Centre on Sunday. Here he tells the Isle of Thanet Gazunder about his Margate memories...

Thank you, thank you. Now when the Editor asked me to, you know, write something for this, for this newspaper, I remember it well, because we were having a drink at the time. And that's a very unusual thing. You know, for him to buy me, or indeed anyone, a drink. So I remember it quite vividly. 'Ron,' he said, 'Ron,' he always calls me Ron. Well, no, it's an interesting theory of his. He reckons that 'Ronnie' is too big a name for such a small person. No, he does. The fact that he's only 4 foot 2 and likes to be known by his friends as Aloysius doesn't seem to strike him as at all, you know, hypocritical. Anyway, anyway, to get back to the story. 'Ron,' he said, 'Ron, I'm editing this newspaper, and, you know, I'd like to give the little guys a chance to contribute. You're quite little, and you're opening this clubhouse, I think you'd be the ideal person to write our golfing column.' He's a bit of a charmer, you see, and, no, no actually, actually I was quite touched. And I had had several G and Ts at the time. So, no, no, to get back to the story, this man walks into a shop...

[That's enough golfing news - Ed]

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Back To The Future

Mooching through some of the Thanet films my old factotum Mr Ceaucescu (no relation) used to throw together in between masticating in the ensuite, it struck me how much improved Margate Harbour Arm is these days.

Only three years ago it was derelict and vandalised, as this grab from Margate - The Last Resort demonstrates:

Mooching along the East Pier in our lovely Ramsgate Royal Harbour the other day, it struck me how derelict and vandalised it is these days, as this photo demonstrates:

Only three years ago, these lights were a twinkly feature of the harbour after dusk. Now the pier's dark of an evening, and you'd be lucky to find a single light that hasn't been knackerated.

Of course, the council will blame the scallywags.

Of course, I will blame the council for not installing vandal proof lighting in the first place.

And the moral of this tale? Well, despite being unsurpassed at playing with their spheres while Thanet burns, it would appear that the Cecil Square duffers can only cope with juggling one ball at a time. Find a grant, do it up, let it rot. Find a grant, do it up, let it rot. No wonder I'm getting a horrible feeling of deja vu!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Pier Group Pressure

Reader Tom writes:

Hi ECR. I saw an article in the Telegraph yesterday about how they've just spent £51m restoring the pier in Weston-super-Mare after it burnt down in 2008. Apparently it's got brand new attractions like a laser maze, a 4D cinema and an aerial assault course.

Contrast that with the Dreamland roller coaster burning down in 2008 leaving Margate with a car park, and the possibility of a few bob being spent by 2012 on some old rides that nobody under 60 will touch with a barge pole. Why Weston managed to attract the money for this lord knows.

Keep up the good work. Tom.

Well, er, thanks for that Tom. And really, having read the piece I'm still none the wiser as to where Weston-super-Mare (Weston-super-Mud in old money) got the moolah.

Speaking of wise spending, reader Brian has sent me his idea for Tory Cllr Wise's ten grand plan to repaint the lighthouse on the end of Margate Harbour Arm (Pier in old money). Brian says it's based on the official flag of Fannit and would be a fitting tribute to an upstanding member!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

High Street Blues

Holy high streets! Has anyone else noticed the number of shops and restaurants that have closed in the past few weeks?

Two shops and a restaurant gone in Margate old town, a shop and a restaurant down and out in Ramsgate. Even Canterbury with its gazillions of tourists was looking a bit shabby last time I visited. I went there especially to shop at Gap, but they'd long scarpered, leaving a different kind of gap.

Still, at least petrol's six pence a litre cheaper in Canterbury, for those of you who are still reliant on gas guzzlers. That's because Tesco, who seem hellbent on treating the island as their own personal fiefdom, have a monopoly on 'cheap' petrol here in Thanet and can therefore make it as, er, expensive as our distorted local market can stand. Anyone for Asda at Arlington House?

Tesco invades Denmark:

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Bum And Bummer

Phwoar! I see Ramsgate's prude-defying hairdresser Marcello has, er, turned the other cheek!

If you recall, the top tonseurist caused a nationwide stir recently with a controversial erection featuring his lovely Cuban wife's booby bits. Now he's flipped her over and chucked up her backside!

The new look is featured in today's Daily Star Sunday (click on pic for full story). It's bound to get the old duffers at our beloved council all hot under the collar again!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Ramsgate Man Chuffed Off With Hornby

By Isle of Thanet Gazunder Tourism Editor Sandy Gusset

A Ramsgate man has claimed his idea for a Hornby Museum on the isle has been stolen - by Hornby!

The Margate manufacturer opened its doors to visitors this weekend, with millions expected to marvel at the Scalextric cars, Airfix models and toy trains on display.

Now Thanet millionaire and socialite Richard Eastcliff, 29, says he wrote to the firm last year suggesting a Hornby visitor attraction in Ramsgate's former Motor Museum.

'I told their marketing manager it would be a fantastic addition to the island's range of indoor tourism offerings,' said Mr Eastcliff. He added he had even suggested a name - Hornbyland.

Mr Eastcliff says he is now working on an alternative attraction for the disused West Cliff Hall called ThanetWorld. 'It will be an intriguing tribute to Kent's Ramsgate Peninsula,' he said. 'We hope to attract thousands of visitors a week with our displays of hair straightening products, double glazing and bad tattoos.'

Hornby was unavailable for comment.

Richard Eastcliff is 29.

Friday, July 02, 2010

East Of The Wantsum

Here's this week's EotW (click it to big it).

I'm dedicating it to the memory of my chum Mr Dickens of Broadstairs, who was prematurely taken from us in a tragic accident earlier this week. He was a regular contributor and commentator on this blog, with a devilish sense of humour and a particular way of pricking the pomposity of the puffed up and pointless politicians we suffer from on our septic isle. Mr D of B, you will be sorely missed.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Ramsgate To Get Jamie Oliver Treatment

I'm not talking here about the recent handbags at dawn between Sainsbury's favourite chef and the ConDem Health Minister, Andrew Lansley.

No, it appears that Jamie Oliver's TV production company Fresh One is making a Hotel Inspector style series for Five (Channel Five in old money). And their first target is a restaurant in Ramsgate!

They've imaginatively called the show The Restaurant Inspector. I think you get the idea. But if you haven't got the idea, the idea is that they take my old chum Fernando Peire to a restaurant, and he inspects it. Fernando, as the cognoscenti will know, is the boss of ever-booked sleb-haunt The Ivy, where I've spent many a happy hour listening to Kerry Katona howling into her pud on the other side of the room.

According to the Press Association, the hour-long programme, due to air this autumn, will see Fernando take on a yet un-named family-run restaurant in Ramsgate. Well, un-named until now, that is, as I can exclusively reveal that it's the excellent Alexandra Ristorante on Harbour Parade, where filming has been taking place over the past few months.

Well, what's the point of being a media luvvy if you can't not keep a secret?! Mwah!