Georgia on our mind

PUBLISHED: 13:28 11 May 2007 | UPDATED: 22:47 28 May 2010

Pics: Brian Purdy - Top left: Checking on the Nene Waterfront Development site at Wisbech, top right: tasting Cambridge bitter Elgood’s chief brewer Alan Pateman, bottom left: Meeting John Gawthorp, who is waiting for his home to be demolished by the coun

Pics: Brian Purdy - Top left: Checking on the Nene Waterfront Development site at Wisbech, top right: tasting Cambridge bitter Elgood's chief brewer Alan Pateman, bottom left: Meeting John Gawthorp, who is waiting for his home to be demolished by the coun

On Friday a party of three journalists from the former Soviet bloc state of Georgia, together with their interpreter, visited the Cambs Times and Wisbech Standard as part of an EEC-funded project through the BBC World Service Trust. News Editor JOHN ELWOR

On Friday a party of three journalists from the former Soviet bloc state of Georgia, together with their interpreter, visited the Cambs Times and Wisbech Standard as part of an EEC-funded project through the BBC World Service Trust. News Editor JOHN ELWORTHY hosted their visit and, slightly tongue in cheek, sent this postcard to Georgia's President, Mikheil Saakashvili, telling him how the day went

Dear President Michael

THOUGHT you might like these postcards from Fenland, although it may not be all good news I bring you since three of the four are journalists, and you know what mischief they can get up to.

I have to say, however, on this occasion they behaved impeccably and were keen to find out as much as possible about Fenland in the short time they were here.

Our first port of call was March Town Hall where the mayor, Councillor Jan French, turned out to greet us, before the assistant town clerk Les Denzey regaled us with a potted history of where the town council stands in the grander scale of things and gave us some history of this historic 19th century building.

From the grandeur of March to the relative wilderness of the countryside and I thought it would be instructive to show our visitors some of the stories we tackle. We dropped in, firstly, at Bedlam Bridge where John Gawthorp is waiting for his home to be demolished and then on to Elm where Ray Griffin watched last week as his house was demolished. Tricky issues these, Mr President, since they involve real Fenland characters battling it out with the planners over whether an Englishman's home is his castle. It's tempting, of course, to side with the underdog but as I explained, Mr President, the Fenland underdog has a nasty habit of ripping your hand off - so I'll leave you to work through any hidden meanings in those particular words.

Our next stop was altogether more civilised, and courtesy of head brewer Alan Pateman we enjoyed a whistle-stop tour of Elgood' Brewery at Wisbech and an even more convivial pint or two of its fine Cambridge bitter.

Time was running out, but not before we stopped off to see how the £50million re-development of the Nene was progressing, and we rounded off a busy day by watching the votes being counted at the local elections.

Luckily council leader Geoff Harper was on hand to explain how it all works (you might know him, he often lectures in eastern Europe on democratic voting systems) and then it was time to bid farewell.

Hoping one day to visit your country, and I do apologise for telling colleagues in advance I was expecting a group of Russian journalists. After 70 years of being part of the Soviet Union you are most definitely a free country, and I wish you the very best.

John Elworthy

News editor

PS: I tried to explain why it is that so few people bother to vote in the country but I'm not sure I was altogether successful. Perhaps if we didn't take democracy so much for granted more of us might turn out to vote.

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