Wednesday, 31 October 2012
JEWELLERY-maker Lindsay Anderson moved from Hertfordshire to Dorset in 2003, spending the last seven years in Dorchester. Her experience in the craft world led to her founding Shop Dorset – a shopping website dedicated to promoting local businesses. The 43-year-old lives with her partner, Neil, six-year-old daughter Daisy and Lottie, the rescue lurcher.
WHAT is Shop Dorset?
Shop Dorset is a new, networked shopping website featuring a great mix of independent local retailers, food producers, artists and craftspeople. It shows off what a fantastic variety of small enterprises exist in our beautiful county, drawing on a fashionable desire for shopping locally. We now have nearly 100 local enterprises on board and are still growing weekly with space for many more to join.
WHAT inspired you to set it up?
I have run the Dorset Art and Craft Show for over six years now, as a series of quality events in different venues around the county. I found many of our exhibitors were unsure how best to harness the marketing opportunities the web now offers in terms of developing their businesses and retailing to a wider audience. Having always worked in marketing, I felt I could bring my experience to build something which could really help a wide mix of Dorset businesses pull together to jointly promote their fantastic wares.
DOES it help customers or businesses?
Both! We are obviously trying to connect shoppers with businesses who offer what they are looking for, and businesses with potential customers for their products. If your Christmas list seems like a daunting challenge this year, just click onto www.shopdorset.co.uk and you will find a whole host of original ideas for all, including those hard-to-please family members and friends, all available from the comfort of your own home.
HAVE you ever turned away a business?
No, not yet luckily. I think the ethos of the site is quite clear, so retailers understand that we are only aiming to attract those businesses who offer quality, appealing products with great customer service.
HOW did you start making jewellery?
I have been making bead jewellery since I was a child and I have lost none of the simple pleasure that creating your own designs brings since those early attempts. I now specialise in sterling silver designs with gemstones, freshwater pearls and beautiful beads and sell my work through Walford Craft Mill and Shop Dorset.
WHAT are the influences on your designs?
The endless combinations of colours, shapes and textures inspires new pieces - necklaces, bracelets and earrings from easy-to-wear items to special occasion designs created for that wow factor.
HOW do you manage to juggle work and family life?
A very supportive partner who is man enough to use an iron or oven without it threatening his masculinity. I know I’m lucky to often pick my daughter up from school although it regularly means working late into the evening to repay the privilege but I would be bored if I wasn’t so busy and relish new challenges as a way to keep life interesting.
IS the internet killing the high street?
I think people will always enjoy visiting the high street and the more sociable experience it offers. But with busy lives, the internet can offer an alternative shopping experience when we haven’t the time to pound the pavement for what we are looking for. With Shop Dorset you don’t lose the personal touch as you are dealing direct with each of our retailers, many of whom are one-man or woman bands.
WHAT does your daughter make of your jewellery?
She says she wears it and she really likes how pretty it all is. She is very sweet and kind to her mummy! It’s lovely to see how all small children are so easily absorbed by crafts, the creative instinct is something we should nurture throughout life.
WHO would you most like to see wearing your jewellery?
Kate Middleton for the obvious exposure and Aung San Suu Kyi for the credibility.
WHAT is your favourite shop in the world?
My local deli, The Potting Shed (Olives Et Al) in Poundbury whose chilled and friendly café is a favourite after-school haunt with my daughter. Now they have launched in America, which is a fantastic inspiration for all Dorset enterprises. I also love Kaniki, the Uttam shop in Bath, whose great online presence also reflects the quirky fashion sense of the store.
WHO would play you in the biopic movie of your life?
I would hope for Cameron Diaz but fear that friends would cast Barbara Windsor instead – something to do with my distinctive laugh!
Click onto www.shopdorset.co.uk for great Christmas gifts and enter the site’s Christmas Free Prize Draw which offers a Lush gift box worth £100 amongst its great prizes (see site for T&Cs).
The Dorset Art & Craft Show is at the Corn Exchange in Dorchester on Saturday, December 8th, 10am to 4pm, with over 50 local artists and craftspeople exhibiting.
Second place will do for me -
at least I’ll get home safely
FORMULA One driver Lewis Hamilton’s switch from McLaren to Mercedes is under threat after scouts for the German giant were spotted checking out drivers at Weymouth traffic lights.
The town’s new traffic system has dramatically changed driving habits and produced a ruthless breed of motorist who is fine tuning their starting skills to Grand Prix standards in a bid to ensure they are first away from the lights to beat queues.
This in itself has been laughable in recent months since, even if they are quicker than every other waiting driver, their speed only ensures they are first to get to the next traffic light queue!
To watch them go at it is an object lesson in an accident waiting to happen.
Light approaches often have two lanes, both lanes merging into one beyond the junction.
Those who devised the system claim it speeds up traffic clearance and operates smoothly with both flows of traffic dovetailing into each other.
That’s true in a perfect world, but there are some very imperfect drivers out there whose brutal determination to get the jump on everybody else is starting to create a real traffic threat.
Only the other day a speed merchant in the outside lane learned that his days are numbered after the driver in the inside lane got away at the same speed he did when the lights turned to green.
They both shot across the junction side by side and arrived at the bottleneck on the other side with neither prepared to give way.
The predictable result was a flare of brake lights, a blare of horns and a display of mutual appreciation in the time honoured fashion by the raising of middle fingers.
All this is clearly rich pickings for Mercedes who must be contemplating dumping Hamilton in favour of some Weymouth warrior seeking speed at any cost. For the rest of us I’m afraid a more sedate second place beckons but at least we’ll get home safely.
Step away from the coffee pot!
Perhaps you’re with a friend and you’re chatting while the cafetiere steeps, unaware that you could be risking life and limb.
But take a closer look at your coffee and incredibly you may see a set of instructions on how to prepare and drink it!
Ye Gods! Aren’t our lives controlled enough as it is? But, yes, there are now guidelines on what you need to do to enjoy a cup of coffee in safety, some of which seem to actually be written on cafetieres.
For instance, drinkers should watch out because coffee can be hot! And never take your eyes off the plunger, an apparently wilful mechanism which seizes every opportunity to attack the drinker.
There are more mind-numbing observations on safety but here’s one they’ve forgotten – serious hand burns caused by the coffee drinker getting distracted by reading a load of unnecessary warnings while trying to pour their cup of coffee.
So remember to be on your guard against the dangers of coffee not least because you might break a rib laughing so much at the ludicrous descent into farce that our ordinary lives increasingly seem to be taking.
Now, I must break off here to write a cheque. Can’t afford to let my personal injury insurance lapse for enjoying my cocoa tonight.
Beauty in the eye of the beholder
THIS column has debated the question of what is art before, but the recent death of Weymouth artist Trevor Lawrence and the vandalising of a painting at the Tate Modern are keeping the pot simmering.
Lawrence was in his prime and could command several thousand pounds for his top works displaying colourful impressions of life in tenement-style buildings, a number of his paintings being snapped up by Hollywood legends such as Jack Palance.
By contrast, the last work by the late contemporary artist Mark Rothko – whose Black and Maroon painting was the one vandalised at the Tate – fetched a mind-boggling £53.8 million.
I believe that art is personal and if someone wants to pay a king’s ransom for a painting of a blurred window then that is up to them, but it’s not for me even if I had £53.8 million, which I don’t.
On the other hand, Lawrence’s silhouette-like works will also not be everyone’s cup of tea but at least they challenge the eye.
Neither is likely to please purists of the Constable school of art, so we’re back once again to a personal interpretation of the value of individual works.
Believe it or not, what few paintings I have embrace all three styles. I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder, whatever strikes a chord.
Stick to original shelters plan
THERE are a few people around Lyme Regis, particularly from the indigenous population, who are muttering “I told you so” after hearing that the new Marine Parade shelters are losing the town council £26,000 a year.
There was a small but vociferous group of locals who thought the £1.4 million development of the shelters was over ambitious and were of the opinion that the inclusion of the two community rooms was a step too far which would prove to be a financial burden in years to come.
One of them, town councillor Owen Lovell, pointed out that Lyme was already overstocked with halls and meeting places available for hire and the last thing the town needed was two more.
It is difficult to argue that Owen and a few others who shared his views were wrong. But I’m going to try…
My view is that the two glass fronted Lister and Langmoor Community Rooms, with fabulous views over Lyme Bay, offered a brilliant marketing opportunity but have been badly managed by the town council who have failed to cash in on their potential.
I was the first person to recognise that potential and have used the facilities of the Lister Room on three occasions to raise over £1,000 for Cancer Research UK, my favourite charity.
I first booked the Lister Room on Red Arrows Day in 2011, making sure that the Lifeboat Week committee did not intend to use the facility and giving them £50 for the privilege of doing so during their big week.
This was soon after the shelters had opened and the council had not agreed a proper structure for charging fees. In the end I insisted on paying £30 for an afternoon’s use. The council was kind enough to offer it for free as we were a charity but if I book the Woodmead Halls or Uplyme Village Hall I pay the going rate.
I fully accept that charities should be offered free facilities in the two covered areas at parade level as this has always been the case and local groups over the years have raised many thousands of pounds with book and beach stalls, etc.
I also accept that there should be two fee levels for the community rooms, a lower rate for charities and a higher fee for commercial activities. But facilities of this calibre should not be given away for free.
I booked the Lister Room again for a curry evening during last year’s Bonfire Night, again making profit, for which we were charged, and again for this year’s Red Arrows when the facilities were given free because the council finally agreed the charges.
Had I been responsible for the marketing of the community rooms I would have emailed all local organisations in and around Lyme Regis drawing attention to the quality of the facilities and location. I would have also produced a corporate leaflet distributed to firms and potential hirers within a 15 mile radius of Lyme extolling the virtues of using this prime location for company events and presentations. And I would also have promoted the shelters at various business exhibitions which take place. In sort, adopting a proactive approach to selling the facilities.
The Jubilee Pavilion is also grossly underused. Chris Boothroyd and his team of willing volunteers, who man the information desk in the shelters, have done a brilliant job. But after two summers of having someone on site at peak times, the most asked question is still: “Where’s the toilets?”
Visitors to Lyme think the shelters are a wonderful improvement but there’s just not enough going on inside the pavilion to amuse them. Of course, that was never the intention. The concept was for people to come in and ask what was going on, then go out and do it.
But not everyone who comes to Lyme wants to go fossil hunting or cliff walking. In the face of rising losses, the new deputy town clerk John Wright, who seems to me to be the sort of chap who gets things done, has now been instructed to investigate the possibility of leasing out one of the community rooms and one of the two parade-level store rooms on a commercial basis.
In this day and age, the council has to maximise its revenue opportunities but I wish more consideration had been given to the economics of running the shelters and its commercial potential before the construction work started.
Their time would be better spent on such matters rather than devoting so much debating time trading insults, as happened yet again at last week’s special meeting over the granting of permission for the Jurassic Airlines to use the Jubilee Pavilion.
The town deserves better than having to witness this continual petty squabbling. They don’t have to like each other but they should respect each other’s views.
The original plan for the shelters was to have two quality commercial units (Boyloys and the National Trust), both of which are a credit to the seafront, to finance the £500,000 loan from West Dorset District Council.
But two more shop or cafe outlets will increase deliveries and Lyme’s prized traffic-free seafront will be commercialised even further and will create additional nuisance through deliveries, etc.
With a more pro-active approach to the marketing of the shelters, I think a big dent could be made in that £26,000 loss.
The budget for running the shelters will include the allocation of staff costs. Does this mean that if the shelters were not occupied there would be a reduction in council workers? If not, then that cost should be taken out of the equation as the personnel would be used elsewhere on council matters. It is not a genuine additional cost.
It is true that Lyme has many competing meeting rooms - but none with the marketing potential of the Lister and Langmoor Rooms.
During all the discussions that took place prior to their construction, I heard very little about them having to make a profit.
The council are to be praised for turning the un-loved former shelters into a great amenity. Now they need to maximise its use - but not by abandoning their original intentions.
IN last week’s column on the unkempt state of the Cobb I referred to the Cobb mason being Frank Stone. As many of your have pointed out to me it was, in fact, Jim Stone, who took great pride in his work. Frank Stone, known as Flint, was one of the great characters of the town, and was a plumber, not a mason.
Wednesday, 24 October 2012
KEVIN Payne, from Bridport, in Scouter-in-Charge at the 1st Charmouth Scouts Group, which is currently seeking a new cub leader. Born in Epsom, Kevin lived in Surrey for his whole life before moving to West Allington, Bridport, in 2011 with his long-term partner. He retired early from a career in science and technical public relations and has been involved in scouting since childhood.
WERE you a scout as a child?
Yes, a long time ago, in the 7th Malden (St James) Scout Group. The best parts were summer camps, constructing monkey bridges and building our own HQ. I think some of my back problems stem from mixing concrete every weekend for three months!
HOW long have you been a scout leader?
Some of the scouts joke that I camped on Brownsea Island with Baden-Powell in 1907, when he founded scouting, but that’s not quite true! I have only been a leader for 36 years!
HOW did you become involved with the 1st Charmouth Scouts?
I offered my services as soon as I moved to Dorset and was asked to help out at Charmouth as the scout troop was about to close through a lack of leaders. Fortunately, I now have two brilliant assistants, plus additional help, meaning we can run a really attractive programme of activities for our 18 scouts.
HOW would you encourage others to join the scouts?
Helping with beavers, cubs or scouts is great fun and it’s very rewarding to see young people develop self-confidence and self-reliance by participating in a wide range of activities in a non-school environment.
HOW do you think scouting can benefit children?
It encourages both personal development and team work. It also gives them a real sense of pride when they learn new skills, gain a badge or do well in a competition. For example, we had 11 scouts on our Survival Skills Badge Camp and they had great fun building shelters, lighting fires without matches, making traps and cooking rabbits.
TELL us about Charmouth Scouts’ current 'Going For Gold' campaign...
When I arrived in Charmouth, I was shocked at the state of our HQ and worked with our group chairman, Tom Summers, to develop the Going for Gold fundraising campaign aimed at making it fit for our 21st century beavers, cubs and scouts. We have had fantastic support from the local community, and have started re-staining the outside walls. However, the whole future of the group is under threat as we have yet to find a new cub leader and may have to close the pack at Christmas.
WHAT are your other personal interests?
I play golf regularly, enjoy walking coastal and inland paths and try to travel behind a steam locomotive at least once a year.
WHAT do you like about living in the area?
The variety of the countryside and the friendliness of the local people.
WHAT would you change about or add to the area if you could?
I’d build a by-pass around Chideock as this would make my weekly journey from West Allington to the scout hut far more predictable.
WHAT three items would you want with you on a deserted island?
A nice long piece of rope, as this would be essential for shelter building; a sharp Swiss Army knife; and a digital radio, capable of picking up both Classic FM and Planet Rock to keep me sane (as long as I blocked out the incessant adverts!).
WHICH three people would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Bear Grylls (the current Chief Scout), as he would have some great survival tales to tell; Isambard Kingdom Brunel, so I could find out what made him such a brilliant engineer and Jack Nicklaus, so he could pass on some useful golf tips!
The 1st Charmouth Scouts is currently seeking a new cub leader. For more details on the role or to volunteer contact Kevin Payne by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01308 459080.
Anybody want to rent my shed?
AVAILABLE for Rent: Bijou shed with door and two windows, own electricity and spiders, suitable for social advancement project. Rent: £3,000 per annum.
Well, I thought it was worth a try to test the market and see what I could hire my garden shed out for after the council placed the same rental rating on a former public toilet at Wyke Regis which they’d just approved for converting into a youth club.
Naturally my little garden building is in a much more pleasing landscape, so social reformers looking to branch out in Westham should find it irresistible.
Of course there may be a few noses out of joint with neighbours but it is for a good cause (me) and who knows, maybe I can gazump the council and encourage the youth club to forsake the odorous delights of an ex-toilet in favour of letting their hair down at my place.
That plus proposals to relax planning laws so householders no longer have to get permission for trivial schemes such as 21-bed extensions to their chalet bungalow or a nightclub to create a bit of extra income and everything seems to be looking good for homeowners.
Just one thing though. If you do wish to apply for renting my shed then it’s cash only, no fancy cheques or cards please. You can’t be too careful with funding for these social projects. You never know just how short of cash the council may be.
The delights of Fuggle-De-Dum
ALL the world’s in a name, so what can you deduce from Smokey Bastard, Silent Slasher, Fuggle-De-Dum and Rectors Revenge?
Quite a bit if you are a beer drinker, so you probably know all about Bucket of Blood, Monkey, Anastasias’s Exile Stout and the delicious delights of Mary's Ruby Mild.
Being a teetotaller I can only relate these wonders through a tasting I was forced to endure for this column... twice.
Ciders, too, were on offer – Blakeney Red Perry was a particular delight, not least because some burke had been chopping the trees down. What a surprise that orchard owners are starting to realise that they’re junking a goldmine and are now hastily replanting.
Those of us lucky enough to sample what bar manager Rich Gabe had organised at the Pavilion Ocean Room were more than happy to pay his surprisingly reasonable surcharge on paracetamol.
The experience left our lives the merrier for Lamplight porter, Smugglers Vintage Ale, Gadds Dogbolter and Bleary Eye, the last not being a beer but the state I found myself in the next day when trying to pour a cup of tea!
Much ado about nothing?
A TEMPEST could be brewing in Weymouth and Portland after a national survey revealed that 30 per cent of children under 13 didn’t know who Shakespeare was.
The much ado about something may not be as you like it for scholars but, measure for measure, it perhaps hints that schools may be facing a comedy of errors in the way they try to make sure that the Great Bard makes a memorable impression with pupils.
Shakespeare appears to be a bit of a midsummer night’s dream for some youngsters and the figures seem to show that teachers have a lot of ground to reclaim before they can say that all’s well that ends well.
And all you adults shouldn’t be getting too cocky either since more than a quarter of us said we’d never read one of his plays while an incredible 12 per cent didn’t know Shakespeare was British... and it gets worse.
Apparently five per cent of people aged 18-34 thought that Shakespeare’s most famous play was Cinderella while two per cent actually thought he was fictional!
I’m sure that Weymouth and Portland’s teachers have done a good job and our youngsters are not representative of the survey, but it is still a bit of a winter’s tale for education.
The town that never sleeps
HALF the town seemed to be awake the other night when a gale struck.
I had to get up and go outside at 3.40am to rescue our bins when they blew over and I was struck by how many homes had lights on at such an ungodly hour of the night.
So without going too far – it was pretty wild conditions – I had a brief look at the neighbourhood and saw scores more homes lit up with many more showing lights towards Wyke.
Perhaps some were just nervous or elderly people who had left their lights on overnight, but they couldn’t all have been doing that so a good few must be people either up late or just getting up to go to work.
It is only on rare occasions like the gale that I’m ever outside that early and it brought home that Weymouth is a town that never sleeps.
Protecting our prized asset
WHICH is the best loved building in Lyme Regis?
Is it the Guildhall? The museum perhaps? How about St Michael’s Parish Church? Or is it the Cobb?
The Cobb is undoubtedly the most iconic building in town – made famous in recent times by Meryl Streep, home port to ships that sailed against the Spanish Armada, and to Admiral Sir George Somers, who colonised Bermuda, the back drop for trendy TV advertisements and photographed a million times a year (a rough estimate that).
But it is certainly not the best loved – not if ongoing repairs to the surface of the harbour is anything to go by.
Since the 13th century the Cobb has stood proud protecting the town from the ravages of the English Channel. Once among the biggest ports in England, this unique construction has dominated the maritime history of our town, featured by Jane Austen in 'Persuasion' and immortalised by John Fowles in 'The French Lieutenant’s Women'.
With just a few commercial fishing boats operating out of Lyme, the Cobb is now primarily a recreational harbour which has been reorganised in recent years by harbourmaster Grahame Forshaw, resulting in the creation of more moorings and therefore more income.
The harbour is operated and maintained by West Dorset District Council and over the years it has been the cause of much falling out by its users and disputes with those who run it.
In recent times harbour users’ meetings have been lively to say the least. Grudges and grievances have simmered for years.
When I was mayor I was given a good piece of advice by former councillor Ken Meech: “Never go west of the Marine Parade clock”. It turned out to be wise counsel.
I suspect it’s pretty much the same in most harbours where the needs of those who earn their living from the sea have to be balanced with those who get their thrills from it.
But one thing that has remained constant for the last 800 years, the Cobb is Lyme’s greatest asset and over the years has pumped millions into the economy of the town and coffers of the local councils.
One would have thought, then, that this prized asset, the jewel in the crown of the Pearl of Dorset, would be top of the list when it comes to keeping it shipshape.
Regrettably, that does not seem to be the case.
On one of my too infrequent early morning walks I could not help noticing on Saturday morning how the main harbour walkway, mainly cobbles in keeping with its longevity, has been repaired spasmodically with what I can only describe as lumps of tarmac.
The unsightly repairs were raised at the last Coastal Forum meeting by former boatman Ken Gollop who for years has been complaining about the out-of-keeping repairs to the Cobb. I gather the response from district council officials was not altogether satisfactory.
In days gone there used to be a Cobb mason whose sole purpose was to repair and lovingly restore the harbour walls and walkways.
It was a job carried out with great pride and skill. Remember Frank Stone? Those days, of course, have long gone.
West Dorset District Council has done a brilliant job on the ongoing coastal protection schemes and I am sure will do likewise with the next phase to the east of the town.
Funding is clearly not available for a major scheme at the Cobb at present - I seem to remember £2 million being mentioned at some stage - but I have no doubt that when East Cliff is finished they will be turning their attention to the Cobb for phase five with equal professionalism.
But at the moment there is no money available for this or a time scale. However, I am assured by Grahame Forshaw the matter is very much in the minds of the council engineers.
Following the severe gales in the spring during which the Cobb took a real battering from the south/south-east, the decision was taken to take a close look at the structure of harbour.
A team of surveyors monitored the Cobb and came to the conclusion that there had been no significant movement, although the high seas had ripped out a great deal of mortar from the surfaces.
Grahame Forshaw was then left with the problem that a huge number of people were about to descend on the Cobb for their summer walks with many dangerous potholes having been exposed.
As a temporary solution the harbourmaster was instructed to get the holes repaired with a tarmac-looking substance which, in fact, has no tarmac content at all. That means when the filling is washed away no obnoxious substances are left behind.
One of the problems down the years of repairing the Cobb has been the influence of English Heritage - a quango that exists to protect England’s spectacular historic environment - over the materials to be used and their insistence that a permanent solution had to be found.
These discussions have been going on for 20 years and more at a huge expense (I am told that English Heritage has taken a photograph of every stone on the Cobb).
But progress is, at last, being made. I am given to understand that English Heritage and the district council engineers are committed to finding an early solution and that English Heritage are providing a list of materials that can be used in repairs and coming up with some suggestion for possible funding.
It has always been the view of those who know the Cobb best that it must be possible to repair the Cobb using a more appropriate material than the unsightly black stuff.
If you owned a 13th century listed building in Lyme Regis, do you think you would be allowed by the ever-vigilant conservation officers at West Dorset to carry out surface repairs in a tarmac-like substance, irrespective of whether you could afford it or not?
Look at the farce that continues at the parish church over the replacement of the old railings!
Wednesday, 17 October 2012
PAUL Violet is superintendent for Bridport Cemetery, living in a lodge in the graveyard with his wife and daughter. Born in Drimpton, the 47-year-old has lived his whole life in the area, moving to Bridport when he married 25 years ago. As well as caring for the cemetery, Paul has been responsible for the running of the Town Hall Clock for four years.
DO YOU enjoy the job?
I love it. March, April, walking through the banks of primroses and daffodils - it’s just fantastic. I see the buds get fatter and fatter and then a few pop and overnight the rest come out. You see nature day-to-day and it’s brilliant. The wildlife is fantastic.
WHAT does the job entail?
I look after the grounds, do the maintenance and liaise with the undertakers for new burials. I dig the small ashes graves, 2ft by 2ft. We get the machine in to do the full internment graves. If we have a re-opener – a burial that’s going to take place in an existing grave – then you’ve got to double-check, triple-check to make sure you are in exactly the right place.
DO MANY people visit the cemetery?
Some days you might not see anybody. Other days people come in and out all the time. Now, because of the TV programme Who Do You Think You Are? more people are delving into family history so want to find where their relatives are buried. So I spend quite a lot of time looking for burial plots for relatives that have come from all over England, all over the world. I’ve had people from New Zealand, South Africa Canada, all over. It’s not very often we can’t find the grave, although some don’t have a headstone because they were never purchased so it’s a common grave. But if the name’s in the book I can find them in the grounds.
IS IT spooky to live and sleep in a cemetery?
No it’s not. The dead aren’t going to hurt you are they? Quite often I’ll come out here of an evening and just have a wander. It’s peaceful. I wouldn’t say I believe in ghosts, but you never know do you?
HOW did you get to be responsible for the clock?
It was by chance. I went into get a suit one day and Roger Snook used to look after it. It’s a voluntary thing. He’d offered to look after it for three months and ended up doing it for 11 years. He was looking for someone to take it on. When I said I’d do it his eyes lit up and he said: 'I’ll meet you at the town hall clock and I’ll show you what to do.'
IS IT a lot of work?
The first few years it wasn’t too bad, but it always gained a few minutes every few weeks so I was always up here adjusting the time. Then when we had all the work done on the Town Hall there were lots of issues because I had to stop the clock when the scaffolders were up there and every 15 minutes the workers were getting an earful. When the scaffolding came down everybody was moaning because the clock wasn’t going: I was on holiday. When I got back and restarted it the painters had moved the hands round so we had problems. That was when the clock stopped at the start of the year.
WHAT was wrong with it?
It took me a hours and hours to sort out. It turned out to be a very tight bearing and since then we’ve had it looked at and repaired. Now it runs really well. I haven’t touched it since July and it’s keeping good time. In spite of what people might think it is accurate to my watch which I set to the speaking clock every day.
DOES it need winding?
No, it’s wound with electric now. But back when they had a clock winder he used to have to come in a side entrance and up a spiral staircase. The entrance is still there next to where the ladies toilet used to be.
DOES the clock really strike 13 on New Year’s Eve?
Yes, it’s a tradition in Bridport. As far as I know it’s always been like that. I know it’s 13 strikes because it’s me up there in the clock tower New Year’s Eve doing it. The mechanism is on silent at night so I have to do it by hand.
THE clocks go back this month. Will you be adjusting the Town Hall clock?
Yes. I’ll go into town Saturday and at about 11 o’clock I’ll stop the clock and go to the pub for an hour. Then I’ll go back and restart it. That’s about the science of it!
HOW much do you enjoy your roles in the town?
I love it. For quite a few years of your life you’re around the town and you feel you’re like everybody else – you’re taking things from the community. But now working for the town council you are putting things back into the community. And Bridport is a lovely vibrant town. I have always loved Bridport. When I left school three was never any chance of me working anywhere else apart from here. Bridport has been a good town for me and now I’m putting a lot back into the town, which is really good.
WHO would you have round for dinner?
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the Apollo crew who landed on the moon and my grandparents who all died when I was in my early teens. I’d love to hear their stories.
Shall we be spending millions on a terminal with no ferry?
I’M reminded of a very famous first line of a cooking recipe when I consider the latest saga surrounding the repairs to Weymouth ferry port’s stricken harbour wall.
There were numerous warnings about not spending almost all the harbour revenue on other things - warnings which were ignored.
Then all hell broke loose when the harbour wall began to crack into the sea after which there was great anguish as Condor steamed off to Poole and councillors checked their piggy banks to stump up the money for repairs and a wider scheme of upgrading the ferry area.
Worse followed when the overall cost was found to have risen sharply to nearly £4 million, but “stay calm” statements continued to highlight ongoing “favourable” discussions with Condor about their return in spring 2013 once repairs are completed.
Well, I’m sorry, but I didn’t buy Town Bridge when some conman tried to sell it and I’m not buying Condor returning in six months time, not yet anyway.
The problem that the authorities don’t want highlighted is that the whole situation puts Condor in an absolutely impregnable position.
Poole isn’t stupid and definitely won’t be telling Condor how nice it is to have them if only for a few months. Far from it. They’ll be moving heaven and Earth to try and entice the ferry company to stay there.
Condor have made all the right noises about wanting to come back to Weymouth, but wanting to and the sight of a ferry actually mooring up again near the Pavilion are a world apart.
The bottom line is that Condor is not going to resume operations in Weymouth unless the ferry terminal is fully updated and the quay wall properly repaired so it doesn’t look like a Swiss cheese.
Fail to do that and Condor will stay in Poole. Achieve the upgrade and there’s still no guarantee that they won’t stay in Poole anyway if the inducements are right. The next six months are critical.
All of which brings me back to this famous quote for a recipe from the 19th century for jugging hare which began: “First catch your hare...”
Weymouth needs to make sure that they’re really certain Condor is coming back here before millions are spend on an upgraded ferry terminal which doesn’t have a ferry... otherwise we’re cooked.
Get rid of the bricks and the water splash
MOST of my clothes are now dry but, on behalf of several other half-drowned pedestrians, I’d like to draw authorities’ attention to a teensy weensy flaw in their transport master plan for Weymouth.
Naturally there was an influx of visitors for the Olympics and Paralympics, we are told that there will be a sharp rise in “legacy” visitors from that in future years and, of course, we can expect our usual holidaymakers for 2013 assuming they’ve forgiven us for all the disruption they’ve had to endure.
So it was perhaps almost inevitable that transport bosses keen to cope with this potential influx have created a new problem in their efforts to solve the old problem of busy traffic meeting pedestrians when turning from Lower St Alban Street into St Thomas Street.
Their solution to make drivers slow down at the entrance to the turn is a line of bricks sunk across the road as a cheap traffic calming measure, but there is an old saying that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys.
The monkey in question here has been created by vehicles compressing the road surface where it meets the bricks to create a depression.
It’s practically invisible to the naked eye... until it rains and fills with water to create a nice water splash for drivers to go through and soak passing pedestrians.
It happened to me, I saw it happen to several other people and none of us is happy.
Sort it out quickly or my next pair of soaked trousers will be dry cleaned and the bill sent to those responsible for the bricks.
Toast, but hold the butter
MODERN supermarkets often come with a cafe now, but they offer something less than value for money.
One Weymouth supermarket charges 10 pence for a tiny pat of butter to go with a round of toast and it is no more and no less than unwelcome penny pinching.
You wouldn’t think ten pence would make that much profit, but when I checked it out I found that a standard 250g packet of Anchor butter in the same supermarket cost £1.40.
The tiny pat for toast was also Anchor and weighed 6g so to consume the equivalent weight that way – 250g – would cost the shopper £4.16p making the tiny pat of butter nearly three times more expensive than a standard packet.
People act surprised at how much profit supermarkets make. With little wrinkles like charging triple price for butter to go with toast going on then it’s no wonder supermarkets are doing very nicely thank-you.