BRAKESPEARE: Shenanigans in Chatteris and baring all at Fenland variety show

A “COMMON fire-yob” and the most popular excuses for not purchasing a TV licence also feature in our Diarist’s column.

DODDINGTON, 1998, and February was it? Were you there? In the audience?

Or maybe on the stage – one of these fearless eight performers who took to the stage for goodness knows what in a variety show?

They may have thought their appearance had been erased forever from the annals of local publishers but that’s what happens when you move home!

The photo turned up (I have to add among many hundreds of others) as we sought to move our editorial office from one part of March to another.


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Photographer Brian Purdy slipped it across my desk.

“Thought this might brighten up your column?” he chirped.

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He also discovered a second version – a rear view of the performers – but you’d surely not expect me to dare to publish that?

WERE he not a Fenland district and Chatteris town councillor, then in all probability I would not be that interested in the nocturnal habits of John Chambers.

But since he is both, I feel obligated to bring you up to date with the shenanigans at The George, in Chatteris, on Saturday involving Cllr Chambers, caterer Dickie Housden and former nightclub boss Viv Salisbury.

You may be forgiven for not knowing how they became inexorably linked but Cllr Chambers did some work for Mr Salisbury on the Palace when it was a nightclub but it has since closed.

Mr Housden was at one stage going into business with Mr Salisbury to open a restaurant on the lower deck of the Palace but then didn’t.

That’s the simple bit of a complicated set of relationships.

Anyway, Mr Salisbury and Cllr Chambers got involved in a ‘it’s all your fault’ spat which resulted in the latter, as chairman of the town’s Conservative Club, moving to have the former removed from membership.

Quite then why Cllr Chambers turned up at The George remains unclear, with Mr Salisbury and Mr Housden insisting he hadn’t been there for years.

Mr Salisbury alleges there was an argument in the pub and that Cllr Chambers grabbed Mr Housden’s throat, and says the ongoing row involving the threesome “is clearly getting to John Chambers”.

Mr Housden admits to being “a bit sarcy” by teasing Cllr Chambers over his presence in The George by asking him if he had been banned or suspended from the Conservative Club.

There was some sort of incident and Mr Housden says, indeed, Cllr Chambers did grab him by the throat.

“I asked him a civil question about why he was in the pub,” says Mr Housden. “He came into the George for trouble knowing Viv was going to be there.”

Mr Housden alleges he could have pressed charges but has called police to say he doesn’t wish to although he’s adamant CCTV will support his version of events.

Meanwhile Cllr Chambers tells me there were “no punches thrown, no beer spilled” and that rumours to the contrary are false.

“The truth is Viv wouldn’t leave me alone,” says Cllr Chambers. “Three times I asked him politely to go away. I eventually pushed him out of the way.

“They’re out to get me because they think I got them closed down at The Palace but Viv did that himself. It was him that didn’t do the correct paperwork.”

Cllr Chambers says he’s a regular at The George, has “a dozen witnesses” who will back his story, and points out that it was Mr Housden who got banned from the George and not him.

“If he wants to press charges, I have no problem,” he says.

Mr Housden says the landlord “wants me to apologise but what for? John Chambers has been to the pub to apologise to the landlord – that means he knows he was in the wrong”.

A RATHER odd e-mail from Wendy Simpson, who felt more might have been made on the success of Wisbech (and de facto Chatteris and March, probably) in Anglia in Bloom.

Wendy would have liked it to have been front page news, believing fulsome coverage encourages new volunteers. It’s a valid point and a word in the ‘shell-like’ of the editor has been achieved.

However, I did sit up when I noticed her insistence that “if it was not for knowing a member of this group personally, I would not have known that the wonderful volunteers of the Wisbech in Bloom group only missed the first place to Bedford on the toss of a coin!”

That set alarm bells ringing, so off I popped for a word with Fenland parks manager Bob Ollier who, coincidentally, is also chairman of Anglia in Bloom.

“Definitely, absolutely not,” he told me. “Bedford won by a few points and although it would not be right of me to tell you how many, there was a clear margin.”

I can only imagine Wendy must have misheard and it would most unexpected for anyone to contact me to confirm otherwise!

“With the Olympic year coming, I can only hope we can achieve it again next year,” she added, echoing a sentiment shared by us all.

A COMMON fire-yob has relived his lucky escape from a kitchen blaze at his Terrington St Clement home.

Well, at least that was how our well-spoken reporter Rob Setchell began his ‘report’ on the drama that unfolded in the household of his colleague on Wednesday morning.

“Gavin Caney, 23, was in the shower when disaster struck this morning,” reported Rob.

“Hearing the smoke alarms, Caney rushed down to find he had absent-mindedly placed his man-bag on the hob.

“In a moment of madness, the football-loving peasant had switched the hob on – inadvertently cooking his bag for breakfast, complete with griddled stopwatch and flame-grilled contacts book.”

“Mr Caney, who rushed into the kitchen to find, what he described as, a load of smoke, was physically unharmed in the incident. Mentally, however, he has taking a roasting on social networking website Twitter.”

Gavin told me he “always put my bag on the hob – I’d never thought it was dangerous until now”.

Our former reporter Emma Cousins, now a press officer with Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, heard about the incident and was quick to send Gavin some advice.

“We would advise people not to place rucksacks or store any other flammable objects on their kitchen hobs as these controls can be turned on accidentally quite easily,” she said.

“He should log on to our website for further information on fire safety, or he could like us on Twitter and Facebook and get regular safety tips.”

THE 150 people in Wisbech caught during the first eight months of this year may not find it funny, but �Brakespeare certainly did when he read the top 10 list of excuses used by people for not buying a TV licence.

TV Licensing revealed their top 10 “unbelievable evasion excuses for 2011” – including a fling with the postman!

Mark Whitehouse, TV Licensing spokesman for East Anglia, said: “Some evaders are very inventive with their excuses which can be quite entertaining.

“But the point is that watching or recording live TV without a licence is against the law.

“In fairness to the honest majority of people who pay the fee, we will prosecute those who try to avoid it.”

Here’s the excuses top 10:

1 Since I had a bit of a fling with the postman I haven’t been receiving my mail so I didn’t get my TV Licence reminder.

2 No-one watches TV apart from the parakeet. It calms him down and stops him ripping out his feathers.

3 I went to the PayPoint to pay for my licence, but I had to leave before I could pay as my kids were stealing sweets and I had to get them out fast.

4 My Payment Card fell in the toaster so I had to iron it and now the PayPoint machine won’t accept it.

5 I can’t afford a TV Licence as the repayments on my new car are cleaning me out!

6 I never got the reminders because my two year-old hides all my post in her toy box.

7 I would have to sell my TV to pay for a licence so I can’t do that.

8 I don’t need a TV Licence, I already pay for my �electricity bill.

9 I’m getting married and am too busy picking �flowers, colours and things to buy a TV Licence.

10 I cannot go out to buy a licence because I am allergic.

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