Friday, February 26, 2010

Blow For Manston

Cripes! Yet another consignment of rotten bananas flown into Chas 'n' Dave Margate International Airport has been discovered laced with something to sniff at! 3kg of cocaine was found in amongst veggies on a flight from Ghana on Tuesday, according to the Kent Messenger.

It's not the first time cargo flights have concealed contraband. At this rate, it'll be snowing in Thanet all year round!

Click here for more on KM website
Yams. Apparently it was yams.

North Of Yer Transom

Yes, the memoirs are coming along nicely, since you ask. I'm just in the process of writing up my encounter with Matt Lucas at the checkout at Budgens in Finchley.

More Smoke On The Water

Rumours that there's been a fire, possibly arson, at the controversial Lilybrook development in Pegwell. More later.

Update: The story's now running on the Gazunder website. Click here for more. Thanks to derick97 for the info.

Further update (6 March): Police have now said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding this fire.

Click here for more on Lilybrook at Pegwell in the Times

Turner Contemporary - An Apology

Hahahahahaha... ha... yes, er, well it was good to get that off our chests yesterday. However, now that we have I'd like to apologise to Turner Contemporary and the good people of Margate (but not the bad ones).

As my photo shows, despite rumours to the contrary Margate is still (70%) open and much of this is due to the 'Turner effect'. Roger Gale pointed out recently that now is the time to pile in, fill your boots and buy up every dilapidated edifice within a quarter mile radius of the new gallery. Roger has long had confidence that Margate's fortunes were on the turn, which is why, over the past 27 years as the town's incumbent MP, he's invested heavily in property in London and France.

Finally I'd like to add that my new found love for the Arsonists' Playground and its £20m gallery has nothing to do with the fact that I received a letter from the Turner this morning confirming that they will be funding my new summer exhibition Bury My Head In The Sand. This conceptual piece will see me entombed from the neck up on Margate Sands for 60 days over the summer, something for which I've had considerable backing and support from the people of the town.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Right, well it looks like I've got enough of these to fill up an entire day now. So here goes. Just rename the blog... tip tap tippety tip... da-da (Geddit!!!???!!!)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Turner Centre - Latest Pics

If, like me, you don't get to Margate much these days, you, like me, will be surprised how quickly they're getting on with the Anthea Turner Centre! One of my few remaining chums north of Winterstoke Crescent has just sent me these photos he took over the weekend:

Actually, that's given me an idea. Last week I let you scrawl all over the Pleasurama hoarding. How about this week we scrawl all over the Turner hoarding? Given the revelation that a 'very senior' Thanet Council apparatchik believes anyone who thinks the Turnip's a bad idea is an 'arsehole' (his words not mine), how about this to redress the balance:

Everybody Needs Good Neighbours

Noticing that Thanet ranks 50th out of 370 UK authorities on my iPhone's ASBOrometer, with 214 ASBOs issued and a moderate 26.4% level of anti-social behaviour, it got me wondering about some of our larger neighbours.

After all, getting an ASBO slapped on the meat cleaver wielding, crack crazed maniac next door is a piece of cake these days. But what about council sponsored developments such as Chas 'n' Dave Margate International Airport, China Gateway, the two huge offshore windfarms, and the Ike and Tina Turner Centre? Are they behaving like good neighbours?

To kick off this occasional series, I thought I'd take a timely a squiz at Thanet Earth. After all, the Beeb are running a controversial docco tonight about immigrant workers, and the more xenophobic Thanet blogs have frequently whined that this massive uPVC conservatory on the eastern edge of the patio of the garden of England only employs foreigners. Indeed, 500 jobs were promised when the project was announced back in 2007. But their recruitment agency, Kent Staff Services 2000 here on the East Cliff's Bellevue Road, seems permanently unstaffed whenever I walk past. And it doesn't exactly imbue confidence to find that, according to their website, they think they're on 'Belview' Road.

So as far as I can make out, none of Thanet's 4,372 unemployed are queuing up there.

We were also promised a visitor centre, but that hasn't materialised either. Thanet Earth's website says: 'We have planning permission for a visitor centre which is still very much at a drawing board stage.' They're not too keen on giving talks or tours to local schools and societies either: 'We very much regret that our capacity for evening talks in 2009 and 2010 has now been reached.' Donations to local charities and voluntary groups? Not a dickie bird.

Then there's the light pollution, very ably captured by this pic on Bertie Biggles' blog recently. What do they have to say about that? 'The two glasshouses which are scheduled to include artificial lights will not be lit until around midnight. In addition to this, those glasshouses are fitted with a system of electronically-controlled blinds which exist to trap the light inside. We have no desire to light up the night sky either! The blinds are designed to retain around 95% of our artificial light within the glasshouses.'

That's not the way it looks when you drive down the Thanet Way at night. The sky's lit up like a U2 concert! And what about the water they're using which doesn't find its way into our lovely aquifer?

So, Thanet Earth. Here's my Good Neighbour rating:

Economy: 2/5
Environment: 2/5
Community: 1/5
Overall: 1.6/5

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Unhappy Clampers

Intrepid yourfannitinnit newshound Tom Betts has emailed me a link to this video he's put on BoobTube. It appears to show a firm of private clampers preying on an old lady who has had the temerity to leave her vehicle in the Dreamland car park. We know she's over 60 'cos we hear her plead 'The only form of identification I've got is my bus pass' as they ask her to prove whether she's good for the 120 sovs they want to rinse out of her. What makes this seem even more like legalised mugging is the opening shot of the ticket machine - clearly out of order and wrapped in plastic and gaffer tape. Where was she supposed to buy a ticket in the first place?

Tom has obviously filmed this clandestinely, hence the rather Roger Cook style of camerawork. In the clip he is repeatedly told to go away by the irate clamping operative, but manfully stands his ground. Good on yer Tom!

I wonder if the clampdown is run by Probe, the people who are responsible for Dreamland security? If so, it looks like another nice little earner for cat-killing ex-Tory Councillor Ted Watt-Ruffell, and his absentee boss, ex-Tory Councillor Panama Steve Broadhurst!

Update: This story is on the front page of today's (Wednesday's) yourfannitinnit. According to the paper, the clampers are a company called CSS Parking Solutions about whom very little seems to be know, except that they have a postal address at the Kent Innovation Centre in Broadstairs.

Click here to read yourfannitinnit online.

Walk Of The Town

With the latest figures showing the number of empty shops in Ramsgate up from 12.5% to 16.4%, I thought I'd take a toddle around the Millionaires' Playground and assess the damage.

Here on the swish south side of the island we're not as badly off as the seedy north side, where Margate has almost 30% of its retail outlets boarded up. But I did notice one or two outlets have vanished from the scene. I can't think why people wouldn't have wanted a windy milk shake:

I'm not sure if their Boredstares branch has closed too. If it hasn't it probably will shortly along with all the other shops there, if the nuff-nuffs at Kent Highways, who are digging up the high street for the third time in a year, get their way.

It's not all doom and gloom in Ramsgate though. A few things that have popped up in the last six months or so, including this east European food-cum-hairdressers dubbed Baltic Branch:

A nosh shop next to a barbers eh? I tried the haircut, which was excellent, but I passed on the pies. And where else could you see a set of massive, yellow fart farm piles at the end of your shopping trip?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rare Bird?

Knowing that there are a fair few twitchers in the area, I wonder if any of them could put a name to this annoying little non-stop tweeter who's been going cheep here on the East Cliff all day? Or is it the dreaded, lesser spotted burglar alarm?

Up The Arseholes Of Thanet!

My word! There seems to be a right to-do following Mike Pearce's excellent column in the Gazunder last week in which he revealed that a very senior Thanet Council officer had once referred to the isle's electorate, i.e. the people who pay his wages, as 'arseholes'.

Mike had asked the full-time council official why the good people of Thanet appeared so anti the multi-million pound Turner project. He smirked and said: 'If you ask arseholes, that's the answer you would expect.'

My network of spies at TDC confirm this is the general view held by those in senior, well -paid positions. They treat the island as their own personal fiefdom, with 'consultations' only held for show. I mean, who's ever heard of anything being overturned by a TDC consultation? No, what tends to happen is they decide what they want to do and then do it, willy-nilly.

Bertie Biggles has already written an excellent piece about this on his Thanet Strife blog, and now the real Dr/Cllr Biggles has chimed in on Thanet Life. And, as ever, Simes has missed the point. For once this isn't a party political argument. We're not talking about councillors of whatever hue here. We're talking about 'very senior' council employees who are paid full time to do the elected members' bidding.

It's a case, I'm afraid, of the tail wagging the dog, with the rest of us having to put up with what comes out from under the dog's tail.

Click here to read Mike Pearce in the Gazunder
Click here to read more about arseholes on Thanet Strife
Click here for no mention of arseholes on Thanet Life

Parking? Fine!

Finding myself short of folding ahead of my trip to the Baftas yesterday, I resorted to an old trick to raise a few sponds.

I shouldn't really be giving away trade secrets, but what the heck! There's money to be made, and why shouldn't I share my bounty with you? Donning my captain's cap and brass buttoned blazer, and armed with a notebook and digital camera, I made my way down to the Western Undercliff next to Port Ramsgate where the foreign lorries illegally park. There was a pretty good crop ready to be harvested:

Most of the drivers were dozing in their cabs, but my camera, notebook and official demeanour soon got their attention, and it was quite easy to explain in pidgin English that they were facing a €100 fine if they failed to hand over €10 on the spot for the, er, parking fee. I netted €120 before the rest got the jitters and moved on!

Flush with cash, I treated myself to a glass of fizz at the St Pancras champagne bar when I arrived in the smoke! Well, there's no chance of Kent Highways or our beloved council performing this service, so the way I figure it I'm doing everyone a favour, myself included. Go on, fill yer boots! There's enough gold in that there undercliff for everyone!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Baftas Get Dafter

Phew! What a night of glittering twitterati at the Royal Opera House! Unfortunately my own epic, Smell the Profit for the Polish Cheese Board, didn't make the cut. But I did get to cut the cheese, serve the wine and hand out the vol au vents, which weren't exactly going like hot cakes I can tell you. And what a shame little Dusty got, er, tired and emotional. Still, he's so short I don't think anyone noticed any difference when he sank into the red carpet.

Back here in my London pied a terre I'm still perplexed by what Prince William is rumoured to have whispered to dear, lovely Uma!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Real Deal

Unlike some ferry companies I can't mention, LD Lines seems like a proper, reliable outfit and are forging ahead with advertising their new service between Ramsgate and Oostende (Ostend in old money).

48 sovs for a car and up to five passengers return seems like a snip. In fact by going direct to the LD Lines website I shaved another three quid off that. For comparison I tried booking Norfolk Lines from Dover to Dunkerque (Dunkirk in old money) with five people and a car, and they wanted £27 more!

LD Lines have also constructed a full page on their website about the delights of the Millionaires' Playground, so it's just possible we could get some visitors from t'other side in return, a stark contrast to the tourism-job-sapping Manston - Edinburgh flights.

And while we're on the topic of deals, don't forget that Ramsgate's very own Eddie Gilbert's, easily the best fish and chip shop in Thanet if not Kent or indeed the entire world, is currently offering free chips with every large portion of fish to celebrate National Chip Week. The offer ends tomorrow, so hurry! Sadly LD Lines have left EG's, Age & Sons and many other top Ramsgate eateries off their website, so they need to pull their finger out there!

Click here to book LD Lines Ramsgate Ostend
Click here for Ramsgate page on LD Lines website
Click here to read more about free chips at Eddie Gilbert's
Click here for more about National Chip Week on Guardian blog

Friday, February 19, 2010

East Of The Wantsum

Here's this week's East of the Wantsum - click it to big it. My spies tell me that so far none of our kilted brethren have taken up the offer to fly from their capital to our septic isle, despite my attempt to advertise its obvious attractions.

So any Thanet 'jobs' that the flights may have created have been cancelled out by the jobs we'll be losing in the Thanet tourism trade. After all, the people flying to Edinburgh won't be spending their money on food or drink or leisure in Thanet, will they?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ramsgate Development Rejected (Again)

Good news! The revised application to cram another crappy terrace of mock Georgian houses into a small hole here in the Millionaires' Playground was 'strongly rejected' by the Duffers' planning committee last night!

If you recall, Thanet builder DJ Ellis (he who sponsors the Chrissie lights and tarmacs church car parks in Westgate when the call goes out from distressed Doctor/Councillors), has spent three years trying to nudge this one through on an old bomb site in Adelaide Gardens.

National conservation campaigners SAVE (Save Britain's Heritage) wrote to our Jurassic Junta protesting at the proposal, arguing that the plans contravene guidance policies and that the right thing to do in this conservation area, surrounded as it is by proper, Grade II listed Georgian houses, would be to reinstate the three houses demolished by Hermann Göring's planning department 65 years ago. Now the demolition ball is well and truly back in the builder's court!