BRAKESPEARE: ‘Tastefully designed’ pet coffins, Ken Follett in Ely and the new Fenland typeface

FORMER Ely man Reg Kemp’s plan to complain to the standards board over the appointment of March’s town crier is also featured by our diarist this week.

THE manufacturers from Royston assure me they are “tastefully designed” and biodegradable (even though I think they resemble home delivery pizza boxes) but these are in fact pet coffins.

Suitable, says pet crematorium firm CPC, for most family pets from the smallest through to cats and small to medium-sized dogs.

“The Hibiscus range of pet coffins is available in four sizes,” their spokesman tells me. “They are tastefully decorated (that phrase again!) and have space on the front to leave a handwritten special message or tribute.”

The range of cardboard coffins start from 76p.

ON Facebook 444 people said they liked the comment from author Ken Follett that it was his Last filming day for “Ken Follett’s Middle Ages.

“I’ll be freezing my toes at Ely cathedral (but warmer than a monk in sandals),” he trilled.

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Oh go on make that 445.

ONE of the truly great ‘sporting’ characters of our age is Hilda Boyce, from March, who warmed readers’ hearts last year when she set up a kissing booth to raise money at a summer fete.

In fact Hilda raised �31, and at 50p a peck you hardly need be an Ely maths scholar to work out that it was a considerable effort on her part to raise so much!

Now Hilda’s written in to tell me of a party at her beloved Morton Avenue Social Club on Saturday to celebrate her 97th birthday.

There will be no kissing booth but plenty of hugs and kisses no doubt to celebrate Hilda’s remarkable milestone.

A THIRD of the workforce of Cambridgeshire social housing group Luminus – in total 101 employees - have been given a day’s holiday to ‘reward’ them for not having pulled a sickie over the preceding 12 months.

In terms of media awareness Luminus, and particularly their chief executive Chan Abraham, is a company that just goes on giving!

Mr Abraham believes all his workers are “inspired, motivated and helped to feel part of a highly professional business and a caring family”.

Workers also get subsidised gym membership, free counselling and monthly seated massages.

HE may have been baffled but your diarist’s sharp team of investigators soon helped unravel the mystery of why carpenter Thomas Kynes received a College of West Anglia qualification after dropping out the course after just ONE DAY.

The 61-year-old from Whittlesey decided the SmartLIFE Low Carbon Skills for Work course wasn’t for him after just a few hours at the Isle College.

But more than six months later, he received a certificate confirming his completion of the course.

Mr Kynes said: “You shouldn’t be given certificates for something you don’t know anything about. It’s just not right. It’s like they are handing them out left, right and centre.”

However Thomas needn’t be too alarmed and I can reassure him that neither COWA nor anyone in their employ is doing anything untoward.

The college DID run the course, with the help of EU funding, and insists there was no qualification as such attached to the maximum eight sessions over four weeks.

However, all participants received a “personalised certificate” confirming which bits of the course Thomas attended and, accurately, it confirms his attendance on one day only - September 28 - and lists the single subject covered... safe and healthy working.

“I am not sure why Mr Hynes has contacted the press about this,” says a college spokesman. “I can only assume that he has misread the certificate he received.”

ONE of the best holidays I can recall was on a walking tour of North England with a group of college chums, staying each night in some glorious youth hostels all attractively positioned within walking distance of a decent hostelry.

So I can only then but commend the initiative of the Youth Hostel charity, the YHA, which from July to September this year is opening up its hostels to cash-strapped families providing family rooms for just �99 for a five-night stay.

The YHA says it has reacted to reports of a massive squeeze on household budgets and believes it is throwing families a holiday “lifeline”.

SOME of you may remember him from his days on City of Ely Council from 1998-2002, but Reg Kemp has now taken his talent for creating mischief and mayhem to March.

He’s built himself a formidable array of things to do but despite trying has never secured a town council seat. That, of course, hasn’t stopped him from being a constant thorn in its side.

Reg forwarded me a copy of his most recent letter, to town clerk Clive Lemmon, setting the wheels in motion for a standards board complaint over the appointment of a town crier.

“This is to give formal notice therefore, that I intend to make a complaint about the way the selection process for the appointment of the March Town Crier was carried out,” writes Reg.

“I believe it contravenes the rules in at least two categories of the Model Code of Conduct for Parish Councils (General Provisions).”

It’s all too tedious to go into detail but I did notice that Reg surprisingly absented himself from a jubilee arrangements committee on Tuesday populated by the very people of whom he is complaining.

A SURPRISING cultural shift can be discerned from figures released by Cambridgeshire County Council about the number of permits issued to children enabling them to work part-time.

The law has, for some years, insisted on permits but since 2006 there has been a surprising drop – 1,400 then but only 1,008 last year.

Among 15 to 16-year-olds the number of permits has doubled to 149 from 70 four years earlier, whilst among 13 to 14-year-olds it has dropped from 593 in 2007/8 to 345 in 2010/11.

Biggest drop though was in 12 to 13-year-olds seeking work (the age at which your diarist first became a 2p a line village correspondent for his local paper) where the figures showed just 152 Cambs children seeking a license in 2010/11 compared to 336 in 2007/8.

ONE party to which I dearly wish I had been invited was at London’s Kemistry Gallery a few days ago which was packed for the launch of a new typeface.

Not just any old typeface as it turns out but Cambridge typographer Jeremy Tankard’s latest creation which he has labelled Fenland.

The gallery was aglow with “good curatorial thinking” according to the critics demonstrating how the typeface could be used.

“The idea behind Fenland is also a critique of mainstream contemporary type design” noted the critic Alex Cameron.

Mr Tankard himself was clear about what he intended his new typeface to convey.

“Fenland began as a way to find new shapes that didn’t rely on the usual method of structure,” he said.

One social commentator thought Fenland “a daring typeface, not a pretty one” after he had joined the throngs at the launch “pointing and poring over the results of Tankard’s labour”.

Mr Tankard is a formidable talent indeed for I discovered he recently entertained a Cambridge audience of 20 on the theme of “talking typefaces”.

His other famous fonts include Bliss, Aspect and Redisturbed.