Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Handbags in the Guildhall

I MISSED the shenanigans in the council chamber last week. I very rarely attend these days, leaving the coverage to Francesca, except when I think there might be an interesting or fiery debate. 

Also, I’m not impressed with the behaviour with some of our councillors, mentioned in this column on numerous occasions,  and I don’t want to listen to so much spite and back-stabbing. 

I’m not influenced by my own time in the council chamber but by the early years I spent covering council meetings as a reporter, when the standard of debate was of a much higher level intellectually.

But it seems I missed a corker. A number of eye witnesses were shocked by what they saw and heard during the break, tempers boiled over and at least one of those I spoke to thought that blows might have been struck.

But as we say in football, it was probably no more than “handbags”.

Had a punch or two been thrown (and let me emphasise this was not the case), it would not have been the first time.

I can remember former councillors Jack Nutall and Victor Homyer, who disliked each other with a passion, swapping blows outside the Guildhall on an election night.
There are clearly some members on our council who have a distinct disliking for each other and that is not likely to change.

We can only hope they are able to put their personal feelings to one side and get on with running the town. There is nothing anyone can do about such crass behaviour until the next election - but that’s not until 2015.

At least one councillor is blaming me for the altercation because I revealed in this column Mark Gage’s description of himself on his Twitter feed as “hating Tories and royalists”. 

I suspect that was put up as a bit of fun, but in a town like Lyme that could be offensive to a huge number of people and is hardly likely to win any votes.

Spreading the Lyme message far and wide

I RECENTLY wrote about the formation of the Lyme Regis Business Group after attending a committee meeting and commented on how much they had achieved in a relatively short time.

Evidence this week of their first major project in the publication of what is to become a regular newsletter to be sent out to potential visitors, appropriate titled “Love Lyme”.
The newsletter has been supervised by LRBG chairman Tony Colston and his wife Stephanie, and as someone who has spent his whole working life launching new publications of one sort or another, I have to say I’m mightily impressed.

“Love Lyme” has been sent to local businesses to distribute via email to their customers and so will get an extensive distribution.  It is hoped to build up a database in time of those who visit Lyme regularly, or are planning to do so, and a couple of thousand hard copies will be printed to be given away in local shops and cafes, etc.

The first issue of “Love Lyme” contains five good reasons to visit our town with the following being highlighted - the World Heritage site, excellent shops, outstanding food, a family friendly beach and lots to do.

Forthcoming events are also highlighted, including the appearance by cricket commentator and raconteur Henry Blofeld at the Marine Theatre on October 31st, the forthcoming walking festival (November 2nd to 10th), fireworks on The Cobb (November 2nd), the switch-on of Lyme’s Christmas lights (November 30th) and The Great Christmas Pudding Race (December 7th).

The newsletter also features three local traders (as will happen in each edition) - Jon Gleeson of Ammonite Fine Foods in Broad Street, Teresa Fowler of House of Flowers in Broad Street and Richard Surtees of the Town Mill Brewery.

There is also a feature on two families who have been visiting Lyme for 25 years.

I’m sure there will be no problem in finding enough material to interest those who “Love Lyme” and I wish the venture every success.

A good lesson for the town council here - it is possible to achieve something if you actually get on with it and not just talk about it!

I WENT back to school this week - St Michael’s Primary to be precise - to enjoy lunch with the children from the new healthy autumn menu now on offer. It was delicious. good value and certainly much more tasty than I remember when I was at school.

I never had school dinners until I went to Lyme Regis Grammar, later to become The Woodroffe. It was a long time ago.

At the Grammar School there was a system referred to as “trollies” when you had to take your turn serving your fellow students. 

Girls served the boys and boys served the girls.  The food was collected from the bottom corridor canteen and delivered on trollies to the main hall. Being a shy and retiring type, I hated serving the girls.  We also had to take it in turns to serve the staff, which I disliked even more.

I have distinct memories of swinging the trolly through the hall doors only to see the pudding - some sort of sponge with a jam topping - flying onto the floor, followed by my frantic efforts to scrape it all up and serve it as if nothing had happened. The girls were not amused.

I loathed sitting down to school dinners. We all had set tables with a senior pupil responsible for handing out the food. 

First formers sat at the bottom and invariably got a raw deal, literally. If I remember correctly, Harry Larcombe was the head of my table and just for the fun of it he would often smother our main course in salt before passing it down the table.

It wasn’t funny at the time but we often laughed about it in later life.

Lunch at the primary school last week was a pleasant occasion, polite company and lovely food. 

My, how times have changed!

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