It’s an incredibly busy week for us here at Beestonia Towers; not only have we got a new print edition of The Beestonian coming out in the next few hours (impatient? Then read it online here) , but we’ve also got an election tomorrow, as you may have noticed, and we’ll be covering events at the polling booths tomorrow, and then blogging LIVE from the Broxtowe count. We should be the first to bring you the news on any changes, surprises and conclusions, so go over to http://beestoniabattleofbroxtowe.wordpress.com/ , click ‘follow’ and we’ll keep you up to date on developments. Alternately, follow me on Twitter by searching for me at ‘beeestonia’ (note the triple ‘e’, this was the result of a bad pun about the Libyan capital). I’ll tweet news and gossip live from the count.
A brief update on SoubzNooz: today Anna meets Eric Pickles in Westminster to see if he’ll obligingly turn down Broxtowe Borough Council’s recommendation to develop on Field Farm in Stapleford. Now, this could go two ways. One, Pickles relents under Soubry’s withering gaze and vetos the plans. Two, he refuses. If he plumps, and yes, that’s what Eric does when he makes a decision, for scenario one, he faces a legal challenge from Westerman, the developers ready with the bulldozers; as well as outrage amongst developments in places such as Essex and Stratford that he has green-lighted. Will he be willing to submit to this shit-storm?
If he goes for scenario two, which I imagine he will do, then one of the strong themes of Anna’s local activism is scuppered. Voters in tomorrow’s ballot may therefore see that Anna may have put up a decent fight to protect the green-belt, but eventually proved ineffectual.
Could there be a third scenario, one of compromise? The mechanism of Parliament and inner party lobbying are far from transparent, so who knows? Will be interesting to see if she chooses to announce the result before Broxtonians go voting.
A weird twist in the Anna free-speech thing. It seems I, and several others, have been put back on her mailing list after being kicked off recently. All very odd. I was looking in the legality of using a budget provided by all constituents to communicate only with those who didn’t dissent, but whatever the rules, it’s still an almost Stalinist approach.
I visited the newly done-up White Lion yesterday and was impressed. The pub has been a sleeping giant for years, ground into crapness by uncaring, asset-stripping PubCos. Now it’s in the hands of two Portuguese chaps who have redecorated it into something plush again, started up the kitchen and given it a Portuguese twist. I tried their tapas last night, and it was gorgeous and more than a fitting substitute for that offered up by the much missed Library. I also tried -in the name of journalistic rigour, of course- a shared jug of sangria. It was utterly fabulous, a fruity yet strong Med cruise in a wine glass. It slightly jars when you’re savouring the summer taste and imagining sitting in the warmth outside a beach-front tasca, before glancing out the window at the next door funeral parlour. Still, give it a try. Welcome back into the fold, White Lion / Branco Leão.
I’m especially fond of Portugal, having spent a few years living in the Algarve during a period of Beestonian exile. bizarrely, my dining partner last night was a guy called Stu who also lived there for a while, albeit a few years earlier. Today on twitter I’ve notice many people pointing out it’s the 16th anniversary of the 1997 Labour landslide, which I was away for.
I still remember how I found out though. I was trying to get from my prior job at a resort in Altea in Spain to Albufeira in Portugal, where I’d been promised a better contract. I packed my stuff, and left the Costa Blanca. However, the trains were all fully booked due to it being a Festa, so I ended up squandering a small fortune on a flight to Seville, then a taxi (!) to Huelva in Andalusia, where I was to be picked up from and taken to my new job.
I got there late in the day, and was told at the tourist kiosk it would be impossible to find a room as they were all booked up, due to people arriving for the Festa. Dejected, I wandered the streets before finding the worst Pensão in Spain, where the bed sheets were marked with the name of a hospital, and mosquitos were as thick in the air as a murmuration of starlings. I dropped my stuff off, went out into the evening heat and went to find a bar that would let me eat for a tiny amount of pesetas I still had left.
I stopped at one bar, and asked for a menu. A cursory scan made it clear I would struggle to buy a starter, let alone a full meal. I got up to leave. As I did, the bar owner stood up, shouted ‘Hey! Inglés?’
‘Then you stay. You eat. You no pay’. He ushered me back to my chair, as I stared at him bewildered.
‘You make Tony Blair the leader. He is a great man! ‘ He pushed the menu back in my hand ‘Now you choose. No pay’.
Blair’s legacy is still subject of fierce debate. Yet his win in ’97 instantly improved my life.
However, if I’d gone back after 2003 that same bar owner would probably have spat in my food.