I’ve just spent the longest time out of Beeston for years, sort of by accident. Lady Beestonia and I attended a wedding in Dover (more on that in a sec), then decided to take a few days of recuperation in her dad’s caravan in a place called Winchelsea Beach; a beautifully quiet, shingly village between Rye and Hastings. I have a bit of a thing for the Sussex coast, twenty years ago I hitched down there en route to Brighton but got a bit lost and ended up in Pevensey, a small village near Eastbourne. Night was coming in and traffic light, so I pitched my tent in a campsite aiming to move in the morning. Yet on waking, I was so taken by the view, the stillness, the empty and dog-shit free beaches. I ended up staying a lot longer, before deciding I best get to Brighton, yet on doing so kicked myself I’d left a little bucolic utopia for the gaudy fleshpit that is Skidrow-on Sea. The journey there is a story in itself, the final leg in a car with three call-girls and their madam,but I’ll leave that for now.
Similarly, within a few hours of exploring the locale, with it’s shimmering chalk cliffs to the West and vast shingle and rock pool nature reserve to the East I was smitten, and we duly changed our train tickets at great expense and time to prolong our stay. I’m now a sort of mahogony colour, have remembered why I used to love cycling, and can now pay over £3.50 for a pint without bursting into explosive rage beforehand.
Yet taking the finger off Beeston’s pulse is never wise. While Winchelsea Bay greatest controversy over the last 20 years was the ice cream van’s switch from soft scoopt to Mister Whippy, Beeston never stops. So I’ll try and whip through stuff you may have missed over the last ten days while I was busy eating fish and chips on Camber Sands.
Palmer V. Soubry: It’s on.
I wasn’t at the vote to decide who would be standing as the Labour PCC in 2015, as I was at the aforementioned wedding in Dover, but I did have a couple of insiders there reporting back to me. My plan was to have the result texted to me, then get it on Twitter, FB and here instantly. Unfortunately, that failed to happen.
The first issue was the fact that when in Dover, your mobile phone will assume it’s in France and accordingly switch to a French network. Then a British one, then a French one, before your phone waves a white flag and surrenders. I decide to remedy this by walking from the wedding venue to our hotel, which I have been told ha a better signal range. Unfortunately, this is up a narrow, windy cliff road that I’d earlier been advised to not walk on by a taxi driver. Buoyed by a litre of Pimms, I eschewed this advice and set off.
The hill would have been hazardous if I’d been walking in proper hiking gear, sober, so doing it a bit drunk, with a load of luggage on my back, and feet shod in gripless brogues got decidedly hairy. I decided to see if a kindly driver would assist my ascent, so turned towards the oncoming traffic, stuck my thumb out, and was promptly glanced on the knee by a car, sent spiralling down the steep embankment and into a ditch, phone flown from my hand and glasses gone.
After an age I managed to recover both, but was disorientated, worried that it was now getting dark, and with my leg burning with pain. I got gradually more lost, until an hour and a half later I found the entrance to the venue and limped in. By this point, I’d forgot all about PCCs and suchlike. Sorry about that.
The upshot is this: Palmer won by a large majority, with Greg Marshall coming in second. As expected really, the other candidates, particularly Greg, were strong and serious but Nick has effectively kept in public view since 2010, consolidating his local popularity with constituents, perhaps even increasing it when put against the Soubz and her application of fingers-in-the-ears Soubzlogic (see Beestonia passim).
We now enter the final 632 days before the next election, and it should be interesting to watch. I will probably split off a sperate election blog from this one in due course: guest writers from all over the political spectrum will be invited to come on board and write commentaries and opinions.
On the subject of Soubz, some good nuggets have come my way from a variety of sources, one, incredibly, from someone I met on holiday. More in the week.
The precinct is now a pile of rubble, and I hear Wilkos will be razed on the 15th. Also hearing news of a new development by the station at Beeston Business Park: a hulking Costa Coffee could be setting up shop by the tracks. Just rumour right now, but seems strange when there looks like another Costa is being planned for the tram stop at the Square. Coffee shops ruthlessly swamping the market to drown out small local businesses who don’t have the collateral to compete, thus leaving the path clear for dull homogenous cafes to spring up and siphon the town’s caffeine addiction money to tax havens? Another nail in Beeston’s local retail coffin? I’m become ever more tempted to see if Winchelsea Beach needs a new Laird of the Manor…..