Wednesday, 29 July 2015

How did I have time for a full-time job?

WHEN I walked in to Weymouth Pavilion Ocean Room to give a short speech at full council confirming my semi-retirement and thanking everyone for their help over the last 40 years I never expected to get such a welcome.

People came on foot, by taxi and by car, some of them travelling considerable distances. There were nearly 80 of us there and I’d like to think that some of those attending were due to me and not to the popularity of an agenda item on public complaints about dog poo!

Whatever the reason for people being there, it was nice to be able to thank so many different groups I have worked with down the years.

Inevitably I will have missed some people and organisations simply because of the volume of people who know me, but I meant no disrespect.

When I sat down I was given a standing ovation and I was also grateful and touched by the number of kind comments made about my coverage of the Weymouth and Portland area since I first moved down here in 1980.

The Mayor even presented me with a vintage bottle of wine and a special retirement card on behalf of the council, a nice and very unexpected touch which I really appreciated.

It was a true evening of nostalgia and I never realised just how many stories I’d written which had struck a chord with the community until the same members of that community reminded me of them when we met later in the Piano Bar or The Boot for a drink and a natter.

A particular thank-you must go to the council itself which, because of the circumstances, allowed me a little more licence time-wise than the normal three minutes given to public speakers. I hope I didn’t overrun that much!

Finally I’d like help answering a question that apparently a lot of other people have asked when they became semi-retired or retired. How the devil did I have the time to hold down a full-time job as well as all the things I seem to be doing now?!

A barbaric way to kill a fox however you change the details

PROPOSALS which would relax the ban on fox hunting have been hastily put on ice by the Government which feared getting a bloody nose.

The postponement came after the Scottish National Party said it would vote against the proposals meaning the reforms were unlikely to win a majority in a free House of Commons vote where three Dorset MPs said they would support the change.

The proposals would make it legal for foxes to be hunted with packs of dogs instead of just two, provided it was “appropriate” for the terrain and done “efficiently”.

One of the grounds for this change is to bring England and Wales in line with Scotland which already allows dog packs.

The first point to make is, why bring us in line with Scotland? Why not bring Scotland in line with us? And the answer is, because the hunting fraternity don’t want it done this way.

What they do want is a chance to widen their ability to hunt foxes in England and Wales.

This particular fox hunting gambit is a wolf disguised in sheep’s clothing with all sorts of reasonable arguments from the need to protect livestock to what is claimed to be a simple desire to level an inconsistency between English and Scottish law.

But the bottom line is killing foxes.

Three Dorset MPs back the proposed move, one of whom claims it is only a “technical” change. I suppose that depends on whether you are technically going to get savaged to death or not.

As with all these things, the Devil is in the detail because what is “efficiently”? And who decides what is “appropriate”?

The ban was brought in on a wave of public support because people felt that to hunt a fox with a pack of hounds followed by red-coated country cavalry was barbaric.

Nothing has changed. It is still barbaric. Hopefully the proposals will stay on ice.

Excluded from my own garden

IT comes to something when you are reduced to the role of skulking round your own garden.

I recently mentioned that a seagull chick’s initial flight from a neighbour’s roof saw it crash land in our garden. Well, it is still here.

So are the parents who make their displeasure known every time we go out into the garden by alarm cries, dive bombing us and releasing air-to-ground seagull poo and vomit missiles.

This is fraying nerves because we’ve never had this before and often forget we do now, ambling out forgetful of the situation to pick a few vegetables only to be scared out of our wits by a seagull strafing sortie.

All this without mentioning that the area closest to the house is starting to look like a midden or some artist’s “early ordure period” entry for the Turner Prize.

Bird experts assure me that the chick’s wing feathers are quite advanced and that it could take to the air soon. Not soon enough for me.

My only hope is that if the chick lives and if it survives to take flight that it doesn’t somehow develop fond memories of our property as home. Just go away and stay away!

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