Brakespeare: Festival security, cheque book journalism and tourism under spotlight

Welney Parish Council, the Luminus Group boss’ opinions on the British workplace and the job of a carrot procurement director also come under our diarist’s scrutiny.

Split decision

CHAN Abraham, pictured above, boss of the Luminus Group which runs the Ferry Project in Wisbech and the Fens, has the capacity to amaze and irritate at the same time.

Which boss, after all, tells his employees they can choose between ice lollies, strawberry splits and ice cream cones?

The invitation came on a hot summer’s afternoon when Mr Abraham authorised the purchase of said items.

“In 2010, our year of Renewing Hope and Inspiration, Luminus employees have been working to change the world for the better where we are,” he says.

“On a hot summer afternoon an ice cream treat is a way to say thank you for their hard work.”

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The Luminus website quotes one happy employee as saying “this really is the best company in the world” whilst another added that Luminus “salts and peppers my life with treats and surprises”.

Whilst building up a formible reputation for his own company’s work ethos, he remains disparaging of others, telling, for instance, a Church Times journalist recently “that we must recognise that British workplaces are sick and deficient, with poor attitudes to service”.

Too little time, not enough ice cream then.

Skylark’s the limit

THE Guild of Food writers pay a visit to Fenland and contribute a generous article on the attributes of a breakfast at Cafe Skylark at Wimblington.

“A mere �2.99 will buy you free range eggs and Fenland chips (made with potatoes from nearby fields), piled high on a simple plate, fluffy and crisp,” writes Andy Pietrasik.

It continues for several paragraphs and the publicity will, no doubt, be most appreciated among the cafe staff.

The fact it’s in a compendium of suggested places to refuel off the motorway hopefully won’t deter some readers, even though the nearest motorway must be at least 30 miles away.

Pictured, Skylark owner Edward Gowler, left, and Bart Woodbine, right, with cafe staff Rebeka Payne and Ashleigh Blows.

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AS a young boy growing up in Norfolk and eager to supplement my pocket money I, like many others, turned to carrot topping to make some extra pennies.

The process involved standing in a freezing cold shed, awaiting a conveyor belt to start, and then grabbing as many carrots as possible and cutting off their tops across a sharp blade before throwing them into a waiting container.

Luckily most of us had learnt first aid, and were able to tend, quite quickly, the many cuts that came our way and soon we were returned to action, heavily plastered to continue our work.

Modern methods of harvesting carrots have changed and as I discovered, so have the job descriptions of some of those involved.

We had a foreman in charge of the shed where we worked but over in Soham I was intrigued to discover the boss is now called a carrot procurement director.

The title belongs to George Rivers who took part in the BBC One Show discussing the trials and tribulations of harvesting new season carrots.

“The midnight harvest has a wonderful mystical feel”, says George. “In the still of the night the machines work their way through the fields pulling up the new season carrots and next morning the fields stand empty, as if nothing had been growing there.

“They really are something that shouldn’t be missed.”

Not a carrot topping blade in sight.

Boarder control

A NEW correspondent, David, pens me a note about last week’s diary item on Fenland’s supposed two million tourists which he says has me more than a bit concerned.

Young David explains that on September 1 “an attractive widow I have known for many years is coming to visit.

“Do I need to warn her that she will be stopped at the border and questioned as to her intentions?

“If she states that she is a ‘day tripper’ then decides to stay the night (I should be so lucky!) will she need to notify someone?”

You can, of course, see his problem but, as he also notes, “when she drives back out of the Fens will she have to produce receipts for everything she has spent, divided between money spent with local businesses and local branches of multinationals?

“If she spends more than the average �5 will she get a badge?

“Or is this just another example of overpaid chair polishers trying to justify their existence? Not that I am biased having once applied to FDC for a well paid post as Market Town Regeneration Coordinator.”

As Benjamin Disraeli is supposed to have said there are lies, damned lies and statistics.

Disraeli also said that we should never take anything for granted so perhaps, even he would acknowledge this quest for the truth behind this statistics.

Light relief

PUBLICATION of the next set of minutes from Welney Parish Council is eagerly anticipated, if only to find out how Christmas is shaping up.

The minutes for March record that on the issue of Christmas lights “Cllr Bennett agreed to speak to the appropriate party to ascertain the situation the availability”.

In May the parish clerk noted “confirmation from Cllr Bennett that he was dealing with this” and the following month it was also noted “Cllr Bennett was dealing with this”.

Fast forward to July, however, and we now learn, under the agenda item Christmas Lights, “that none available”.

I can’t believe for one minute they’ll leave it there - watch this space.

Elsewhere in the July minutes, councillors will no doubt be amused by the clerk noting she had “reported the broken food(sic) gate on the bridge” to highways and on the purchase by Elgood’s of the village hall site “confirmed that the wale(sic) would probably not be completed for 2-3 months.”

Cheque list

A COLLEAGUE tells me of a pleasing phone call from a young lady named Caroline who mentioned her surprise at bumping into Sunshine, pictured, from Big Brother in John Lewis in Peterborough on Saturday.

“She spoke for a while to Sunshine and apparently got a story out of her, what she thinks of the current housemates, so on,” he told me.

However, if we would like that story she will only sell it, he added.

“Because of that, thought I’d pass this to you!”

Before indulging in a spot of cheque book journalism, Brakespeare thought he’d better find out a little more about Sunshine and what she’s been up.

“Beauty and brains collide in medical student Sunshine”, trilled the Big Brother website. “With only one year left of her medical degree she has taken a year out to study medical journalism in London.

“Sunshine describes herself as ‘beautiful and intelligent’ giving herself 9 out of 10 on both counts.”

There is more, indeed much more, on the Channel 4 site. In the meantime the cheque book stays where it is.

Festive dogs

ORGANISERS of next year’s March Summer Festival may have chanced upon a solution to the vandalism which saw a caravan broken into (and a tin of biscuits stolen) and what was described by organisers as “much boisterous behaviour until about 4am” on West End Park.

At Monday’s committee meeting it was agreed to investigate the “possible provision” of a Whitemoor Prison guard dog to help with next year’s event.

Perhaps the guard dog could find useful work in Wisbech judging by our picture of graffiti which workmen had to remove in advance of the Green Flag ceremony in the Park on Tuesday.

Gym’ll fix it

JOHNNY Dee has assumed the mantle of consumer champion on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire but the March-based entertainer has other attributes, too.

Recently he popped out to Manea to report on the new mobile gym and decided to enliven the broadcast by trying out some of the equipment.

Quite what the photo of Johnny, complete with tight fitting lycra gym wear, tells us of the man or, come to that, the gym is another thing.

I’m tempted to suggest he sticks to his day job but then, of course, this has now become his day job!

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