A Fenlander's diary

FEW stories brighten up this wizened old curmudgeon s brow these days, but the news that a couple from the Fens plan to get married at Butlins brought a smile to his face. What a wonderful streak of pure family magic. The bringing together of two families

FEW stories brighten up this wizened old curmudgeon's brow these days, but the news that a couple from the Fens plan to get married at Butlins brought a smile to his face.

What a wonderful streak of pure family magic. The bringing together of two families for a wedding breakfast and confining them in one room for a whole evening, has never struck me as boding well for future relations.

But giving them free reign for a weekend at Butlins, with all the tomfoolery and high jinx that only a holiday camp can offer, seems to be the most perfect of recipes for a great occasion.

Good on you Mark Newall and Sallyann Rust.

Please may I come?

A FRIEND, prematurely retired by her employers, has taken to visiting local garden centres, to while away her days.

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She's unsure, however, which of the craft and hobby demonstrations on offer at Huntingdon Garden Centre to sign up to.

Having missed the one day class on 'latchhook kits' last week, she's torn between 'iris folding' on August 6, or 'tea bag folding' the day before.

BRAKESPEARE was drawn to a recent court report from Fenland magistrates of a couple's attempt at reconciliation after a particularly harrowing outbreak of domestic violence.

He pondered the observation offered to magistrates that reconciliation was being attempted by their planning of a "trip of a lifetime to Iceland."

As an experienced shopper, Brakespeare suggests the ambience of Tesco, the background chatter of Asda, or the refinement of Sainsburys might offer a better chance of lasting peace.

But Iceland, alongside all those freezer cabinets? Definitely not!

AMONG the correspondents to Brakespeare this week was "a member" of the Whittlesey Ivy Leaf Club who poses an intriguing question.

The "member" wants my assistance in settling a dispute which has arisen among member about a quiz question put up on the board: the question being what was the ancient capital of England?

"The prize was given to the person who said Winchester, but Winchester was never the capital of England," writes my correspondent. "The encyclopaedia says that Winchester was the Saxon capital of Wessex not England. The encyclopaedia says that Colchester was the ancient capital of England.

"I should be more than pleased if you could settle this."

Well sorry to put a dampener on those hoping for me to bestow upon Colchester this historic title, but I'm sticking to Winchester. Colchester is the oldest recorded town from Roman times (AD43) but Winchester's claim to fame is more recent, being chosen for the crowning of Egbert, as the first King of England in 827.

Given the difficulties I have in being asked, periodically, to adjudicate on the which town is Capital of the Fens, I'm going to stay well clear of this topic in future.

UP for grabs is a new contract to be awarded by Fenland District Council to the PR firm it says can best improve the council's image.

Brakespeare delved into the tendering process and discovered Fenland wants the successful applicant to demonstrate how they can deliver "an increase in the percentage of positive news stories relating to the council relative to negative stories"

The winning firm will also be expected to generate "at least 20 positive press releases per month, relating to key projects and service developments."

PR is not really Brakespeare's cup of tea but anyone inclined to undermine this most noble of professions might bear in mind what Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, once said: "If I was down to my last dollar, I'd spend it on public relations."

ON PR, it was a subject touched upon by Malcolm Moss, defending the Parliamentary three-month break.

"I go to my family home in France but I have a phone, a fax and email so I am always available," he says.

"The work does not stop when Parliament is away. Constituents continue writing in and problems have to be sorted out."

He adds: "I don't think we should come back in September, just as a PR stunt."

Quite right too Malcolm.

WAS it really only three years ago that Florence Newell lost by her seat on Fenland District Council by 76 votes to Peter Murphy?.

"If I say something now I might say more than I mean to," Mrs Newell said at the time, and her anger has hardly diminished ever since.

But fast forward three years to last Thursday night and, just weeks after de-shackling herself from the Lib Dems and into the warm embrace of the Conservative Party, she is back on Fenland council.

And among those at the count to offer their congratulations? Cllr Murphy...of course!