Fenlander's Diary

A DRINKING chum has always maintained a discreet silence over his working day (he s a prison officer at Whitemoor) and so our conversation generally drifts around shared passions for red wine, folk music and lousy jokes. However he broke ranks, so to spea

A DRINKING chum has always maintained a discreet silence over his working day (he's a prison officer at Whitemoor) and so our conversation generally drifts around shared passions for red wine, folk music and lousy jokes.

However he broke ranks, so to speak, to toss across the bar the latest edition of ConVerse which labels itself 'the quality national legal newspaper for prisoners."

What got his back up was this picture on page 5, a mock up of The Queen armed with a handgun and silencer with the legend "HM the Queens beefs up on her personal security."

My pal reckons it's all been done in the worst possible taste and, apart from pointing out that effectively she's his boss (detained at Her Majesty's pleasure and all that) offers the observation as to whether the publishers would dared to have depicted any other religious leader in such a light.

Without wishing to detract from the jollity of this publication (a "chilling series on the lifers who must die in jail" offers compelling reading) he has probably got a point.

CHECKING on the progress of Wisbech Town FC's ground move (I regard it as something of a hobby), I discover an interesting exchange of letters between an opponent and the planning boss at West Norfolk Council.

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Mrs Quibell of Lynn Road penned a letter to Geoff Hall, head of development services at the council, conceding she had "finally lost the war" to stop the stadium going ahead.

"I now would like to know how I stand with regards to being recompensed for the loss of my view by the blot on the landscape which will appear over the forthcoming months and be a permanent blot in the future," she told Mr Hall.

"My immediate neighbours and I are still not happy with the outcome."

Her letter- sent on April 18- finally got a response from Mr Hall on June 2 after he claimed "staffing and workload problems." No matter, he had little by way of comfort.

"The planning system does not entitle neighbours to compensation as the loss of a private individual's view is not a material planning consideration," he wrote.

"I trust this clarifies the situation."

Quite, thank you.

A CHARMING letter from Grace Plumridge thanks the paper for the "generous time and space" given over to her late husband Keith's obituary, who for many years ran the 'Gracetitles' bookshop in Wisbech.

Grace, now retired to Somerset, enclosed some poems written by Ena Pedley of Tydd St Mary who was a regular visitor to 'Gracetitles' in the 1990s.

"Miss Pedley was a real character, a lady of the Fens," recalls Grace. "She worked on the land throughout her life until ill health prevented her from doing so.

"As she had no television set, her main joy in life was reading fantasy fiction and writing poems to amuse the folks in Tydd St Mary at various village functions."

Streakers, knickers, fillies and follies all abound in her wondrous verse, and it was a delight to spend part of the weekend poring over her poems.

If anyone has some time to take on the task of typing up the hand written letters, I would be delighted to publish them - either on line or possibly in a small booklet- and would hope some museum might care to store the originals.

Contact me if you can provide more memories of the delightful Miss Pedley or can offer some assistance.

A CORRESPONDENT from Wisbech expresses concern about three of her cats which have disappeared in as many years.

"They have all been micro chipped but have still disappeared," she writes.

She has her theories but it would be improper of me to air them in print. However I have promised her I would raise the matter and await news if this is an issue affecting others.

THE abject misery endured by Brakespeare in many of his traditional watering holes (where have all the tea time drinkers gone?) may mean a slight diversion in future via Whittlesey.

For the Great God of the licensed trade - JD Wetherspoon no less- is coming to town, and with a war chest of some £2 million to spend, the transformation of the George Hotel will be complete. It's going to provide 45 jobs and historians will no doubt cheer the news it will be revert to its original name of the George and Star.

A brace of curries and a couple of large glasses of the old red stuff for under a tenner- what more could anyone ask for on a dank autumnal night in the centre of Whittlesey?

EACH year Fenland Council produce figures on homelessness and each year they're asked to quantify - for central Government purposes- the numbers "sleeping rough on a single night within the area of the local authority."

And each year, for as long as I recall, the target has been one and the actual number sleeping rough has been one and the forecast has been......one.

This year's figures, out this week, maintain the trend. Actual? One. Target? One.

All highly commendable but I'm left wondering why we don't find this one person and do something about him!

I'D like you to draw breath, sit back and promise not to skip to end to discover what I'm about to describe.

According to a report in front of me, this site - nearly five acres of it- will be transformed with a building that consists of "a series of exciting simple forms that respond to the functional requirements of the process. Their careful composition gives a striking modern appearance. The curved roof allows the building to merge with its surroundings and minimises the appearance on the local area."

Intrigued? Allow the author to continue his rapturous assessment, for the buildings will have "green 'anchor' elements at each corner to provide subtle breaks in the elevations. The underlying principle is to provide a group of buildings that offers architectural character, while adding equality and aesthetic enhancement to the immediate vicinity"

However this is not, as you may have thought, the College of West Anglia's new campus at March but a waste treatment plant planned for March Trading Park that will have 42 refuge collection vehicles per day, 12 bulker movements, contain a building 36 metres wide by 75 metres long, and will annually handle 20,000 tonnes of mixed household waste, 11,500 tonnes of green waste, 7,tonnes of dry recyclables, and sealed bags of bonded asbestos.

Mind boggling stuff- and that's just the prose!

TERRIBLY sorrow to Margie McArthur for in a diary piece last week I got the name of her school wrong! She is in fact a maths teacher at the Thomas Clarkson Community College, Wisbech, and not at Neale-Wade which I wrongly stated.

I think she's forgiven me because she kindly provided the answer to last week's maths conundrum- an example from her school's maths challenge- which posed the question: on a digital clock displaying hours, minutes and seconds, how many times in each 24 hour period do all six digits change simultaneously?

"The answer to the question is 3," says Margie. "The only such occasions occur when the clock changes from 09 59 59 to 10 00 00; from 19 59 59 to 20 00 00 and from 23 59 59 to 00 00 00."

LET'S face it, a 275 page book documenting the post war history of Conservative Party agents may not be everyone's cup of tea- but then you're not Geoff Harper, Leader of Fenland Council and the man who helped the Tories defeat Clement Freud in 1987.

Cllr Harper has contributed an essay to the book - Between The Thin Blue Lines- and compares the job to be "somewhat akin to a circus ringmaster. The golden rule of a circus ringmaster is 'don't turn your back on the animals.' In preparing any individual for a career in the party organisation, is it essential that this is borne in mind."

That's all very well, Geoff, but despite reading your contribution a couple of times I came away no clearer or wiser as to the animals were! No matter, the book's editor Jean Lucas has done a splendid job compiling what she hopes will be a "celebration of a valuable profession."

It's also a profession where the gongs get handed out, too. Alongside Cllr Harper's own CBE, the contributors number five OBEs, two MBEs and another CBE.

Ms Lucas, MBE, also noted the number awarded honours and tells of one "irreverent" agent who suggested she should entitle the book 'Going for a Gong.' Quite rightly she was having none of his churlishness.

Contact me, should you feel the urge, at: brakespeare@googlemail.com