BRAKESPEARE: Memories of The Full Monty, more on ‘volatile spat’ in Chatteris and why soundbites are good

OUR diarist also talks about a rather startling statement from the Mayor of Wisbech as he opens a charity shop in the town.

THE decision by Bill Ingram to sell the remaining shares he owns in the company he founded to chief executive Steve Rawlins is not a surprise, given the extraordinary dynamics of his Wisbech company Anglia, long divested of its secondary Components title.

I recall lunching with Mr Rawlins and found him a remarkable, driven, purposeful and slightly audacious boss who joined Anglia as a salesman in 1976, just four years after Mr Ingram launched what was to become a multi-million pound global concern.

A northerner by birth, Mr Rawlins has embraced Fenland like no other and should the Freedom of the Fens become a courtesy title at some stage in the future he would surely be an early contender upon which it ought to be bestowed.

Last time I checked, Anglia was turning over some �40million a year, providing rare and vital skilled employment in Wisbech and leading the way in demonstrating how to nurture and retain quality staff.

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Mr Rawlins says Anglia “has always been a great place to work and a great company to deal with, and that is something that won’t change” which Mr Ingram, as he contemplates severing links, will find most satisfying.

SOME may have thought “not before time” as they spotted the tweet from March Festival parade organiser Reg Kemp whose ambitions, thus far, to secure a council seat of any description in Fenland have been thwarted by an unwilling and unenthusiastic electorate.

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Fresh from a trip to Manchester, Reg had, in the space of 24 hours of his return, lambasted Salford as being a “God-awful place”, claimed the Wisbech by-election success for Conservatives to be a “hollow victory”, and reckoned he was glad that “most of my future is behind me. Wouldn’t want to be here in 30 years time thanks”.

He also felt “this country has gone to the dogs since women’s lib. Why can’t they mind their own business and leave us men to rule the world?”

And for good measure, he told an RI teacher from Wisbech that “just because you’re an Islamaphobe doesn’t mean you’re an authority on Islamic law in Saudi or anywhere else”.

Reg pointed out he had “spent a month in Saudi (three weeks too long) and have had two visits to Dubai. I do know something of what goes on”.

Once he had shaken off the Mancunian air he appeared marginally contrite.

“Sorry if I’ve upset some people recently – not for what I said but fact it upset them. Am seriously worried about society we live in,” he tweeted.

ALL eyes have been on Ed Miliband and much has been written about the importance of his party conference speech.

But what makes a good political speech?

Phil Collins, who wrote many of Tony Blair’s speeches, says great political speeches need a big event or a rallying cause and there are fewer of them than in the past.

If you want to know more, he will be will be speaking in a debate on political rhetoric at this year’s Cambridge Festival of Ideas next month.

Collins justifies the use of soundbites and says that not only are they vital in a world where a 24/7 media edits chunks of speeches down to one phrase, but all the great writers are full of them.

“We should guard against the derogatory association of the word soundbite,” he cautions.

“All we mean, really, is a pithy way of capturing the essence of the point. To be or not to be – that really was the question. It was a sound bite too.”


AMONG correspondence this week was an e-mail from Dick Mandley, keen to retain momentum in an increasingly volatile spat between Chatteris town and Fenland district councillor John Chambers and nightclub entrepreneur Viv Salisbury.

Mr Mandley’s e-mail takes issue with a fundamental of the recent story and that is to whether the assertion by Cllr Chambers of his being a regular at The George is an altogether proper assertion.

“The fact that Cllr Chambers stated that he’s a regular at the George Hotel, in Chatteris, and that he has a dozen witnesses who will back his story, had me in stitches,” writes Mr Mandley.

“Who are his witnesses as the real regulars don’t appear to know who he is?”

A lengthy section of the e-mail goes into detail about a Conservative Club Extraordinary General Meeting some six years ago for which verification hasn’t come easy so we will let that pass (editor’s note: the lawyers are watching).

The next section deals with the suspension of Mr Salisbury from the Conservative Club and, in truth, I daren’t go there either (well, not at least with Mr Mandley to accompany me!).

I think I’m safe with this bit so here’s Mr Mandley’s challenge – for Mr Salisbury to be called before a special Tory club meeting “to get to the truth of this matter. Mr Salisbury is prepared to produce documents to prove his case and will stand or fall on these documents. Are others prepared to do the same?”

As someone once remarked: “The truth will set you free but at first it will make you miserable”.

HE’S such a wag you never know if you’re being bowled a googly, told a porky or being mauled by a frilled neck lizard.

But no matter ... the legend that is �Councillor Jonathan Farmer lives on.

Donning the civic robes as mayor of the esteemed town of �Wisbech, he and his good lady Susanah popped into Union Street on Monday to open a charity shop.

“Most of what we are wearing has come from charity shops – apart from our underwear and socks,” he told a somewhat startled early-morning crowd of bargain-hunters.

“This charity shop is most welcome in �Wisbech and we wish it all the best for the future,” he declared while performing the ceremonials at The Hospice Shop.

The shop is the �charity’s first outside Norfolk to raise money to help run a new �4million full-service hospice near King’s Lynn.

Karen Chambers, the shop’s manager, said: “The opening is a positive step to move into a new area to help raise awareness of what we do.”

MEMORIES came flooding back for one member of the group who went The Full Monty at a village show 13 years ago.

Frank Howarth now lives in Bankfoot near Perth but always keeps up to date with the latest news in Fenland via our e-Edition.

And he was stunned when he saw the picture of himself and seven others baring all for Doddington Village Show in 1998.

“We did something similar every year,” he said. “One year we performed as a group of gay Scotsmen in kilts and I remember once we did the Riverdance wearing wellington boots.”

The Full Monty rendition was a far cry, however, from their planned performance.

Mr Howarth recalls: “We were going to do a sketch on the Tellytubbies but my wife Marlowe, who was involved in the production side of the show, said they didn’t do or say anything.

“She suggested we did The Full Monty because the film had just been released.

“Some of us went to see it at the cinema in Peterborough before we performed it – and on reflection I think our performance was much better than the film.”

But it didn’t end there – the group also performed their act at care homes and clubs across Fenland.

“I remember going to the post office at Edgoose’s in March to get some road tax and was identified by staff as being one of the group,” he said. “It was like being a pop star for a few weeks.”

Mr Howarth, who took part in the show from 1994-2000 before moving north, also performed a tribute to Buddy Holly in 1998.

He said: “One night my daughter and two grand-daughters visited from Blackpool to watch the show. The elder one, who was about six at the time, had to write a diary at the time for her school work.

“She wrote ‘I went to see my grandad. He sang Bloody Holly and then took his clothes off’.”

Mr Howarth “named and shamed” fellow performers in our picture,� �including Dave Malkin, left, �Maurice Bishop, third left, Ged Bishop, third right, and Tick Few, right. He is second right.

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