May is that time of year in the UK when villages start to become alive. Hipsters gather their trailers and converted caravans to vend organic vegan fat-hen flavour ice cream shampoo and barbecue slow cooked artisian oven baked allergen free squid rings to shuffling Guardian reading zombies. While village community association members bicker about who is in charge of procuring the orange squash and tombola this year.
May is also the time of year when bearded Arran sweater wearing ukelele and folk instrument players gather to play arcane tunes and songs devoted to John Barleycorn, the Green Man and other ancient deities of agriculture and fertility. They then sometimes dance around a pole waving their hankies or bopping sticks together or maybe they will cart a village teenager around in a wagon before sticking her on a pile of faggots and setting her alight.
Ah traditions. Long may they continue.
Sadly this year and last year most of these celebrations have failed to be performed causing the ancient gods of fertility and abundance to rouse and show their displeasance by causing Brexit, disease and embarrasment to the Prime Minister.
Although, as the plague is now on the wain, it is possible that such village celebrations will reemerge in 2022 and once again, people can wave hankies at each other while dancing around a pole. Lech Wałęsa need not apply.
I can’t remember why we went. It was possibly to see the Bell inn, a haunted inn mentioned in Marc Alexander’s Haunted Inns but it turned out that it was the annual Cheese Rolling day in Stilton. Cheese rolling is where, for some forgotten tradition, people gather to chase a “cheese” down Stilton high street.
Sometimes I like to turn my pictures into little videos. I’ve been doing this since about 2008 when I learned how to do it while doing a degree in Television Production. At least it makes me feel like it was worthwhile eh?
Anyway, here is a collection of photos taken today in 2014 at the Steam Fair in Bloxham. Although I go to a lot of steam fairs I do not own an anorak nor do I enjoy flasks of weak lemon drink.
Today’s picture was taken in 2014 during a visit to Great Yarmouth. It depicts a fine example of the Millenial Waste Paper Basket Scheme of the late 1990s. Since then, I have endevoured to document these post industrial premillenial relics of well spent public funds during my travels around the UK.
Set up as part of Tony Blair’s New Labour’s Millenial celebrations schemes, those that gave us excellent value for money public investments such as the Millenium Dome, the Millenial Waste Paper Basket scheme was a joint enterprise between artisian metal workers, bearded artists and sandaled environmentalists. The baskets were sited in various locations – mostly parks, elevated places and coastal regions – with the intention to encourage the public to throw away their waste food wrappers in handy recepticals which would then be ritually set on fire.
I believe the intention was to have them ignited on regular occasions but, due to reallocation of funding to support the post 9/11 Iraq war and ultimately withdrawal of funding by the Conservatives in 2010, they have mostly remained dormant since their last ignition during the 2012 Olympic Games.
As you can see from this picture, there is not much waste paper in the basket as the local seagulls frequently steal the chip wrappers to line their nests but also, it was taken in 2014, nearly two years after its last ignition. These days, the waste paper baskets have mostly fallen into a state of disrepair and some, if not many, have been demolished, their original purpose often forgotten. However some have been inventively redesigned and reallocated into things as diverse as street food vendors and luxury accomodation.
Now, considering that Daventry is a crucial Conservative hot spot you would expect a lot of campaigning by the opposition parties. Not so here in sleepy Norton. Sure, European election leaflets have fluttered unbidden onto my door mat but local candidates seem to be few and far between. Considering the election is only a few days away, the opposition candidates had better get a move on if they want possible swing voters to make their minds up.
I have no leaflet for Ms Collins. I knew nothing about her, her policies, what issues she feels strongly about or whether like Mr Smith she likes to have a poo in a field before standing up and fighting builders. With her fists.
So, using my l33t skills and well honed research methods, I had a poke about on the internet to see what I could find out about Ms Collins. It’s scary what you can find about people online, or so they say. Heh, that’s why, I suppose, I don’t use my real name online.
And never have.
Anyway, I know where she lives but where’s the fun in that. I mean this kind of information is given by the election’s returning officer and in the election notices. Turning up unbidden on her doorstep is a bit creepy so I wouldn’t do that. Although I suppose I could go canvassing. You know like candidates do only as a voter…Or will that get me arrested…Maybe not eh?
So the first port of call was Google. Using a bit of Googlefoo, I was able to find Ms Collins’ twitter account. So let’s do this in real time and send her a tweet…
I’ll post her response if it comes….
Her feed seems to be akin to Mr Chris “I’ll block you if you question my insistence that Margaret Thatcher was the best thing that happened to the UK” Heaton-Harris. Jokes, asides and retweets of the odd bit of opposition political linkage. Nothing that says “Hey, intarwebz, I am young and clued up about social media and know how to market myself as a potential politician! Vote for me!”
Nothing that says “I’ll have a fight with navvies in a field if they so much as look at it through the windscreen of a JCB”
In fact there’s nothing. Nothing political…Couple of possible leads but out of decency I won’t mention those. But I did find three Emma Collins on Facebook in the Northamptonshire area. None of which, look like the tiny picture above, they all look like they’re still in school.
Ok, so let’s check the old Twitter feed….
Oooh! Look! She’s replied!
So it’s off to the local press.
Good old Gusher. They are now part of Johnston Press so their website isn’t very good. Their weekly newspaper is often a bit low on gripping local news and is more akin to the old “Man who Once Passed through Daventry Met Elvis” kind of headline. But none-the-less, we should all use our local press or we will lose them. And then where would we be for news about Angry People, new toasters in Estate agents or cats stuck up trees.
Anyway, a quick search on the site brings me:
Not a peep.
A few articles containing the words “EMMA” and “COLLINS” but nothing about our candidate. Meh.
Maybe my skills aren’t as l33t as I think. Maybe Emma Collins is still waiting for her leaflets to come back from Vistaprint. Maybe she’s going to pull out all the stops on Thursday by filling the sky with giant letters explaining what her policies are. Maybe now she’s heard of me, she’ll take me up on my offer of joining me in the White Horse in Norton so she can tell me why I should vote for her.
Or maybe not.
I’ll let you know if she gets back to me before Thursday…
One of the differences with local elections that I have noticed here in Daventry is that the local candidates like to shove leaflets through the door.
In Brierley, I think we only had one or two leaflets through the door with the majority of local political news coming from the Barnsley Chronicle.
Here in Daventry, the local press The Daventry Express or “The Gusher”, is as political as The Beano. I understand that such is the fate of local newspapers.
I’ve also noticed that local candidates here don’t seem to use the internet effectively. So as a favour, I will examine each of the candidates that shove leaflets through my door. Right here….On the internets…..for ALL to see.
Today is John Clifford Gale
John Clifford Gale is, according to his leaflet, my UKIP candidate for Daventry District Council Weedon Ward. He has lived in Northamptonshire for 35 years and has worked on the parish council in Brington
On the front of his leaflet:-
We Don’t Just Need a Breath of Fresh Air. We Need A Gale
Really? We need strong winds in the area? Damage to trees, chimneys and rooftops? I don’t think so
Not only is this country governed by Brussels – your local councils are governed by their political parties.
Curious. There I was thinking my taxes went to fund booze orgies for the privileged in London. So what’s with all the goings on in London then? If the country is being governed by Brussels why am I paying for Cameron’s cronies?
Then you say that my local councils are governed by their political parties…
Ok, let me look at the list of candidates again. Yep, UKIP, Tory, Labour, Libdem…nope….I can’t see any parties from Brussels there. Christian Democrats? Nope can’t see them. Social Democrats? Nope. Oooh ooh LIBERAL DEMOCRATS! I can see them. But they’re only a weak ineffective wedge in government and hardly swamping us with ineffectual laws and policies.
On the reverse of the leaflet:-
John Gale believes that:
The new housing development planned for New Croft Weedon should be questioned
Really? The residents and the buildings? The planners? Or the people on the council who allowed it? Well, it’s UKIP so I suspect he means the residents. Drag them in for questioning! Why do you not conform? Why?! Why?!
We deserve a review of our local bus services
Why? There are more buses here in the Daventry district than anywhere else I’ve lived. Heck, there’s even a bus that goes past my house once a week. Unless you mean that the only thing we deserve is a review of local bus services. You know, so you can carry on with your sinister shenanigans in the council chambers unbridled.
Let’s see more Police around our district
More police? Oh yes of course, because as a member of a local council you have control over police budgets and policing levels. No doubt the need for more police will be so that Mr Gale and his jack booted friends can make sure the electorate are conforming and doing as they are told.
Dog fouling is out of control
Out of control! That must mean that there are heaps and heaps of dog shit filling the streets. Poor little urchins wander through the lanes and byways of the region, knee deep in festering poop crying and begging for a small morsel of food. Oh the horror. The smell. The humanity.
The only shite I’ve seen around Norton is this leaflet Mr John Clifford Gale has pushed through my door. That’s out of control.
Wind farms will ruin our stunning local landscape
“Oh the railways/canals will spoil the countryside and go through our lands”. That’s what your lot said about the railways Mr Gale. We dun’t liek change round here
Windfarms will bring lots of lovely cheap energy and remove the need of marching pylons in the area. Moreso than a high speed white elephant stretching from London to Birmingham sucking all the regional talent away from the areas that need them most.
There should be more Local Surgery Facilities
Really? Is this so your jackbooted friends can perform labotomies on those that don’t conform? Or do you mean Surgeries run by the local politician? Or perhaps you mean more facilities in the local surgeries? You know like slides, snack bars, bingo for the over 60s…that kind of thing?
Pot Holes: Enough is enough
I had a pot hole once. Curiously it was filled the other week.
I’m sorry Mr John Clifford Gale, UKIP candidate in Weedon ward, Daventry. Your beliefs as advertised on your leaflet do not appeal to me. Tell me about what you’re going to do about the shit broadband speed in the area. Tell me about what you are going to do about the speeding idiots that pass my house every day? Tell me what you’re going to do to encourage employment, education and facilities in the Daventry area. Dog shit, windfarms and coffee shops at the doctors aren’t going to cut the mustard.
Come on. John Clifford Gale, UKIP Candidate for Weedon, Daventry. Take me up on my challenge and tell me face to face why I should vote for you.
It’s the local elections in Daventry in May this year. As readers of my last post will recall I mentioned that I do something during election time. As long term readers will recall, every election time I offer the opportunity for all candidates to present their case as to why I should vote for them to me personally, in my local pub over a pint or on my couch over a cup of tea.
Historically, I have offered this opportunity since the dark days of Livejournal when I lived in Liverpool and only had two candidates to choose from in my local area. Since then I have offered it both in Barnsley and Leamington Spa where no candidates took me up on my offer.
I was almost not going to bother this year but something happened last year when I moved to Daventry that made me think I’d give it another go.
Daventry is an odd place. It’s older than the hills and yet as modern as Milton Keynes or Warrington. It was as if Daventry was used as a practice during the design of new towns. Thoughtfully zoned areas linked by expressways and peppered with green space. It’s lovely. Internet is a bit pants mind but I couldn’t think of anywhere nicer to live. Except maybe Monaco. Or maybe Bonaire.
The people are very friendly in a way that is akin to one of the more northern areas than one would expect from a small provincial town teetering on the borders of the great North South divide. Yes, that’s right, people actually talk to each other. Something unthinkable in London.
Last year when I moved to Daventry I had a knock on the door from a canvassing local politician. I was so shocked. Unfortunately I had only just moved into the area and hadn’t had time to register to vote in time for the election. So I would have been wasting his time.
Since then I have tried to become more involved with local politics when my work allows. I’ve done this by annoying the local MP Chris Heaton Harris by asking him, via Twitter, to think about his heroine, Margaret Thatcher’s, impact on miners which resulted in him blocking me and having my tweet removed from my feed.
SMITH David — The Conservative Party –—Look after the Bankers Party
None of which seem to inspire. None of which actually say anything about themselves on the internet. None of which have knocked on my door and asked how they can represent my interests on the council.
The last time I had this level of choice was when I lived in Liverpool and had the option of BNP (Racist wankers) or Labour. Of course Labour won that particular election but only by 4 votes or so. It’s like having to choose between horrible death by red hot nails being driven into your eyes and dying from an eye infection of red hot nails .
Every election I tell myself, the next time, I’m going to run. As an independent. Make a really good marketing campaign and actually put myself out there.
Its simple. Engage with your voters, convince them you’re not as bad as the others, make and keep promises and don’t be one of those tossers who tweet shit jokes and referee bollocks on Twitter all day. (Heaton-Harris, yes I mean you!). Actually engage with the electorate. Be accessible and accountable.
And so once more I open my offer to Mssrs Collins, Gale, Price, Salaman and Smith…get in touch. Speak to me. Let’s chat. Tell me what it is that makes you so deserving of my vote. We can do it over a pint in the White Horse in Norton or you can come and have a cup of tea with me, the cats and the missis. You can bring the press along too. Make a big deal of it. I’m sure the Daventry Express or Gusher as it is known in these parts would love the scoop. Barnsley Chronicle did (or at least they kept my letter to them on file for shits and giggles).
2014 is the year of European elections in the UK. There are also local elections taking place, which I will discuss in another entry.
The European Union is a fantastic idea on paper. Open borders, centralised law making, distributed wealth and a currency. In reality, as with all political things, its corrupt, bloated full of wasted opportunities and surrounded by those who want to kill it dead.
I’m very pro EU. Sorry, but I am. I’ve actually followed developments in Brussels and I’ve embraced the positive changes that being a member of the EU has brought us over the years. I’ve looked on agape at the frequent attempts by the British government to hide positivity and smother democratic union by claiming to the electorate that they alone develop the policies handed over by Brussels.
I’ve seen and understood why and how Television sans Frontiers has tried to quell the swamping of European culture by American candy coated drivel. I’ve even watched Broen and Salamander.
I’ve crossed borders, lived in a city regenerated by large amounts of EU redevelopment funding and I’ve taken advantage of a health card that entitles me to healthcare in the EU. There are many other reasons why I am pro-EU. But this is not the place.
Sadly in the UK most people don’t feel any benefit from voting in EU elections. Which is a shame. It’s pretty much the same feeling that the Germans had in 1930. Apathy opens the door of doom and disaster.
In Daventry we fall under the East Midlands. In the East Midlands we have 9 possible political candidates to choose from. Dishearteningly, none appear to be openly pro-EU. The parties running this year are:
Not much variety really. There is a choice of Fascists, dreamers or wankers. No wonder the UK is disenfranchised with the whole EU thing. I truly believe that there needs to be a pro-EU party in the UK which none of the parties running seem to be. A party that extols the virtues of being in the EU.
Of course, long term readers will recall that usually during election time, I invite candidates to come to my house and tell me why I should vote for them. However, as these are parties in the European election, most of the people running don’t even live in the same area. So it’s highly unlikely that they’ll join me in the pub or even knock at my door. Besides, I don’t want to be seen in public with thugs, toffs or hippy types as it may damage my credibility.
Chris Heaton-Harris is our local MP. He didn’t take me up on my offer at the last election. In fact he blocked me on Twitter for unknown reasons. Several elections before this, the local candidates didn’t take me up on the offer either. It’s almost as if they don’t want the free publicity or, for that matter, my vote. Our current MEPs are:
But despite my concerns of being brushed with the same brand of tar as hippies, thugs and toffs by association, I am opening up my usual “Come and tell me why I should vote for you” offer to European Parliamentary Election candidates.
As for the lack of choice? Well I am concerned that we are heading back into an era of discontent and nationalism. The political conditions are Reich.