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It’s party time!

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What is beneath the gloss?

So now that the Diamond Jubilee parties are over and we bask a little longer in the glow, the next party is upon us from tomorrow in the shape of a footballing feast known as the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine. Another few weeks of supermarket prodding will have us overfilled with lager, beer, and frozen pizzas, our homes and cars will be draped with the flag of St. George, the “red tops” will exhort the England football team to glories well beyond their reach (they have only ONCE reached the semi final of this tournament), the new flatscreen TVs will be overheating, and when it all ends……….well there are the Olympics and Paralympics to look forward to in London, along with commercially sponsored torch bearers. One only hopes that South Tyneside Council is NOT tempted to mount the giant screen in the park again, I fear the demand will not be there to sit and watch in a South Shields park!

Of course our politicians will probably be a little more sanguine than myself, especially having invested so heavily in the London Olympics, and I confess most of the Olympian sports hold little interest for me even though there will be some football in Newcastle, but for others this will indeed be a veritable feast of summer sports with Wimbledon and Test Match cricket thrown into the mix. David Cameron and News International will be hoping to share the glory of English and British sportsmen and women as the medal count increases the “feel good” factor and the national index of good cheer. Parliament will be enjoying its long summer break with only the Leveson inquiry interrupting the good news, yet quietly gurgling away beneath the veneer of good cheer and “gloss” will be ……………………the economy.

Let’s not forget, that this is the main event!

After two years of a Conservative led coalition government the track record is not that impressive, the deficit continues to grow (albeit at a slower pace), the national debt is still woefully out of control, borrowing is still at record levels and getting higher, public expenditure is higher now than in the last years of Brown’s disastrous administration, so much for the cuts eh? The slight saving grace is that unemployment has not yet broken past levels which might lead to the sort of civil unrest witnessed in Greece. The Eurozone crisis refuses to go away, banks still appear to need recapitalisng (again) and none of the major European players seem willing to take the bull by the horns and dismantle the single currency. All the while the pan European policy appears to be one of further austerity, less public spending, and increasing taxation, as near every nation in the EU other than Germany slumbers along on virtually zero growth.

Growth? Did I mention growth?

Ah yes, who has the secret elixir which will put more money into the hands of consumers or savers? It is they alone who can provide the demand and stimulus that economies need, and any person in South Tyneside who tells you that they couldn’t use a few extra quid a month is madly deluded. Banks rely on savers to swell deposits, greater deposits create more capital, more capital creates greater liquidity which normally leads to easier lending and investment, yet the current economic cycle has brought us interest rates which creep closer to zero and discourage any saving at all. Similarly current personal and indirect taxation levels do nothing at all to inspire consumer confidence and help us to prioritise our spending on essentials such as mortgages and rents, fuel, and keeping our older cars on the road for even longer. It is almost a pan European deflationary cycle. Our own government is caught up in the very same frame of mind as Labour’s outgoing Chancellor Alistair Darling who was equally determined to reduce the deficit whilst raising taxes and sending out hopeful signals on government expenditure. Neither Labour nor the current coalition appears to have had a “plan B” that might have included some major initiatives to promote economic growth and rekindle consumer demand.

So, sadly, whilst we are in the summer party of love mood we have to remind the politicians that “it’s the economy stupid”, and with that in mind I’ve asked some of our prominent politicians in South Tyneside, along with some business people and other bloggers for their ideas on what we need to do to get our local and national economy on the move. Of course your own ideas are very welcome too.

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A right Royal weekend

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South Shields really shines in the sun

I’ve had a great weekend, and hope you all did too, the early spring sunshine has helped to show South Shields at its very best with thousands of visitors enjoying our coast, beaches, parks, and restaurants. Friday’s Royal Wedding was a joy to watch whether at home in front of the TV or in the South Marine Park where I reckon about 1000 people were sitting on the grass with their picnics in front of a giant screen erected in front of the restored bandstand, it would be churlish NOT to congratulate the people at South Tyneside Council for arranging this. The picture quality was first class even in the strong sunlight, just a pity that a sharp shower temporarily got in the way, but it didn’t force people to leave, it really was quite festive.

We managed to do some supermarket shopping in the morning and it was the easiest experience you could find, the place was near deserted and we were finished in less than twenty minutes, I had a chat with some of the staff and discovered that they had all volunteered to work on Friday  and rewarded with overtime and a day off in lieu. It was also interesting to note that each year they nominate two of the available eight Bank Holidays to work and rotas are arranged on that basis, a pretty good way of satisfying almost all of the staff and ensuring that they get a good amount of Bank Holidays to themselves to enjoy with their families.

Saturday also found huge crowds in the parks enjoying the weather and I can see in future years that the cafe available inside the new swimming pool will be well used, certainly if we fall victim to the odd shower. Just disappointed that the afternoon was marred by a pretty inept display from Sunderland who surrendered without a fight to Fulham.

Yesterday saw me delivering leaflets in the Harton ward of South Shields in delightful warm sunshine, which made the task that much more rewarding, even had a very friendly chat with a congenial Labour councillor, as well as adding to some sterling work being done in the Beacon and Bents ward. Met many prominent members of our Bengali community yesterday evening on a full tour of every one of our restaurants in the town centre and Ocean Road, it was pretty cheerful and the reception was great, once again it was apparent that South Shields was the place to be as just about every establishment was busy with queues forming at two or three of the most popular, but boy the aromas of the spices were inviting. Just wish I could have sat down and joined in the feasting, but it was a bit early in the evening for me.

I have to say that I’ve been very encouraged by the responses we’ve received whilst campaigning for Mr. Hayder in the Beacon and Bents ward, no hostility at all, and I think people welcome the additional choice and a return to the days of more activity from the local Conservative candidate, far better than the days when a name was offered as a choice but no effective campaigning took place. This is far, far different to recent years.

We may be taking a trip out today if the kids can decide to agree, then it’s back to normal from tomorrow, hope you all enjoyed this great Bank Holiday weekend.

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William and Kate

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Prince William and Kate MiddletonEd Waugh’s satirical look at the Royal Wedding at The Customs House

Many think that the Royal Wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey on April 29th will be one of those events not to be missed, I know that Mrs. Curly will be sat at home with the children watching the proceedings on television, the world will be agog as the signals are beamed from one satellite to another and hopefully there will be tremendous tourism and business spin-offs as a result of the wedding. Naturally, we all hope that there will be far greater success in the future for the couple and that the marriage will not suffer the bedevilments of William’s parents’ relationships.

However, and I accept this, for others the hype is just too much – already. Unlike myself, there is a sizeable minority who do not support our Royal family and cannot get themselves excited about the event, so for South Shields and South Tyneside people there is an another type of entertainment on offer. Veteran left wing South Shields playwrite Ed Waugh has penned a satirical script for your enjoyment based around Cinderella and it will be presented at The Customs House at Mill Dam, South Shields on the day of the Royal Wedding. Ed tells me:

We will be staging a script-in-hand read through of a play that highlights the problems the pantomime heroine Cinderella has after her marriage to Prince Charming.

Cinderella 2, which was written by myself, (Ed Waugh) and Trevor Wood – who previously killed off Margaret Thatcher in the hit play Maggie’s End – will be staged as a one-off acted read through in the Customs House community room on Royal Wedding Day, Friday, April 29.

Our back catalogue of plays include the international hits Dirty Dusting and Waiting For Gateaux, and we wrote Cinderella 2 after seeing a pantomime in which the put-upon Buttons has to stand back and watch as Cinderella, the love of his life, is swept off her feet by a wealthy prince. But the royal marriage isn’t a happy one and Cinderella turns to her best friend Buttons for help.

Gareth Hunter, who is producing and directing the show, explained: “As you can imagine, coming from the pens of Ed and Trevor it is very, very funny. It will offer light relief to the saturation coverage of the real royal wedding.

“The show will feature professional actors reading from the script and doing some moves. There will be very little set but lots of audience participation, so we want people to come along and have a great time.”

A similar read through of  our controversial play God Only Knows – about the teaching of creationism in state schools – attracted 110 people, so Gareth is urging anyone intending to come along to buy tickets as soon as possible as seating in the Customs House community room will be limited to around 100 people.

Cinderella 2 begins at 6.30pm. Tickets cost £4 (£3 concessions) and are available from the Customs House box office on (0191) 454 1234.

So there you are, if you are not a fan of “the Firm” there is an alternative to the day long television coverage for you.

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Written by curly

March 8, 2011 at 9:26 am

French snub to the Queen?

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Sunday ExpressOr was it a Downing Street manoeuvre?

There has been much comment and disquiet over the fiasco about the 65th Anniversary of D-Day, for those remaining members of the Normandy Veterans Society in South Tyneside this will be the last ocassion when they travel together to revisit the beaches of Normandy where so many of their fellow brothers in arms fell in the defence of Europe from Nazi tyranny, yet the Queen, the only head of state to have served in uniform in WWll will not be there to represent one of those nations to whom the majority of the French are eternally thankful for their liberation. Instead, the Prime Minister Gordon Brown has taken it upon himself (as though he were a head of state) to represent us in her place.

Veterans gathered in Northern France next weekend will have to make do with saluting an MoD lackey at a memorial parade because the Queen, head of Britain’s armed forces, has not been invited.

Andrew Rosindell MP will ask to be allowed to pose an Urgent Question, demanding to know why the Prime Minister failed to follow protocol.

If Speaker Michael Martin agrees to the move, which is expected to have the backing of the majority of MPs, Mr Brown will be forced to attend the Commons and explain his actions.

“It is shocking and disgraceful that the Queen, who is not only head of state but also head of the British Army, has not been invited to France for such an important event,” said the Tory MP for Romford last night.

“There are two theories as to why this could be: hopeless disorganisation or a deliberate attempt to hog the limelight for himself.

“But I am not going to judge the Prime Minister until he is given an opportunity to explain exactly why and how this has happened.”

So did President Sarkozy, who the Queen entertained with his wife Carla Bruni at Windsor Castle recently, actually send an invitation via Downing Street to reciprocate that hospitality or not? France are claiming that it was up to Downing Street to decide who ought to represent us (which is just another illustration of their ability to surrender when under fire) and critics are claiming that the Brown bunker totally misread the situation and gloriously screwed up on what will probably be the last major event to mark the anniversary of D-Day.

“Normal protocol is for the Prime Minister’s Office to extend an invitation of this type to the Queen. After all, both Mr Sarkozy and Mr Obama are heads of state. Mr Brown is not,” said royal expert Margaret Holder.

Critics have accused Mr Brown of “sitting on the invitation” until it was too late to extend it to royalty.

“I think it is very evident that Mr Brown wanted the focus to be on him, standing with Mr Barack and Mr Sarkozy,” said one MP last night.

“Tony Blair would have basked in the reflected glory of standing side by side with the Queen but Brown feels threatened by this.”

Of course other Heads of State will be there including POTUS Barack Obama who Gordon Brown would love to be photographed next to, yet Obama himself ought to be reminded of the conversation between one of his predecessors and President Charles de Gaulle:

There is a story about a conversation between General de Gaulle, who, as president of the French Republic, telephoned his American counterpart Lyndon B Johnson, to inform him that France had decided to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty alliance.

Since its foundation nearly two decades earlier, Nato had had its headquarters in France. Now Nato would have to move.

Furthermore, de Gaulle added, it was his intention that all American service personnel should be removed from French soil.

“Does that include,” Johnson is said to have replied, “those buried in it?”

Just kind of reminds you starkly what these events are all about doesn’t it, and of the over 4500 allies who died on D-Day only 19 of them were French. If further reminder is necessary just go back to this famous Google search about French Military victories.

It seems to me that neither Sarkozy nor Brown will come out of this smelling of roses as both show a scant disregard for history, tradition, or real pride, the thoughts of Phil King, chairman of the Southport and West Lancashire Normandy Veterans Association stick in the mind as being telling and pertinent:

“First it was the Gurkhas, then the D Day veterans. This Government has proven again and again that it has no interest in history, no pride in those who have given or risked their lives to protect it in its time of need, unless there is suddenly media interest.

“As far as I’m concerned, we may have beaten the Nazis, but Mr Brown has proved to be the enemy within.”

Quite – just what is he playing at exchanging the importance an international day of remembrance for a photo opportunity without Her Majesty the Queen present?

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Written by curly

May 31, 2009 at 9:45 am

Boris and St. George

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Boris JohnsonBoris flies the flag for England

Thankfully St. Patrick’s Day passed in a rather muted fashion in South Shields for a change, no huge binge drink celebrations with the ‘black stuff’, not many pubs disguised as leprechaun huts decorated with shamrocks and the supermarkets seemed to miss it altogether.

Are they starting to get the message?

This is England, and unless you are in the midst of an Irish community domiciled here, then there is no need to celebrate St. Paddy, but because we live in England there is no reason why we should not be proud to celebrate on April 23rd, and commemorate our national saint, Saint George.

Putting aside all of the historical myths. legends, and facts about this “Johnny Foreigner” (George was not English) we should recognise his symbolic attachment to the English and not be embarrassed about his Christian martyrdom. All right so the business of slaying dragons is a myth, but he was destined to become a symbol for England from the moment that Edward ll decided to dedicate the Order of the Garter in George’s name and Knights of the Garter fought under the flag of St. George. The cult of George was strengthened during the Hundred Years War against France when his saintly exploits and martyrdom were recalled to rally the troops, the feast day of St. George on 23rd. April each year was declared by the Synod of Oxford in 1222. George is the patron saint of many other countries, not just England, and also of the worldwide scouting movement.

So I am delighted that the Conservative Mayor of London has decided that St. George’s Day is worth celebrating, Boris said:

‘St George’s Day has been ignored in London for far too long, but I’m truly pleased to announce some fantastic events to mark this occasion.

‘We have much to be proud of in this great country. England has given so much to the world, politically, socially and artistically.’

In recent years, many local authorities have banned taxi drivers, builders and firemen from displaying the Cross of St George – often citing spurious health and safety reasons. However, Labour in government have not been exactly lavish when it comes to celebrating England’s national saint’s day, over the past five years, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport spent just £230 promoting St George’s Day (maybe, it’s because there are so many Scots in the government, huh?)

So here’s hoping that a few people in South Shields can follow Boris’ lead, let’s see Boy Scouts marching on St. George’s Day, lets have pubs and restaurants making an effort to heavily promote English food and beverages, let’s see a celebration of English beers, let’s see schools creating artworks that celebrate England and her history, lets see the flag of St. George flying all over South Shields – it does NOT belong to the football fans or the fans of the far right, it’s high time we claimed it back for England!

Last year my local was well decorated in the flag of St. George, inside and out, we enjoyed Yorkshire puddings filled with roast beef, we played jingoistic music (Last Night of the Proms stuff) and The Beatles, it was great fun and it was someone’s idea of traditional England, shame we didn’t have Morris dancers. There were still two idiots drinking Guinness though.

What is your local planning to do on St. George’s Day?

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Written by curly

March 23, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Happy Credit Crunch

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The Queen on credit crunch card

Cheery news for some!

OK so don’t expect too much good news to come out of today’s Queen’s Speech (provided by Mr. Broon), apparently it will detail even more ways for the state to make us prove who we are and make us carry an ID Card, secret inquests may be introduced, councils may be given the power to use lie detectors against you, and just to cheer you all up those who are unfortunate enough to lose their jobs under the economic direction of Herrs Brown and Darling will now be “hassled” as they claim Job Seeker’s Allowance.

Looking on the bright side you will be able to purchase some Credit Crunch Cards to send to your less fortunate friends and family this Christmas, just to remind them of the economic conditions caused by this Labour government the Americans, something to remind them that they do have a sense of humour buried deep down in their depressed minds.

Oh well, I’m glad to see that someone has managed to find an enterprising idea that will make a nice fat healthy profit out of Broon’s economic mismanagement!

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Written by curly

December 3, 2008 at 9:57 am

Leave Act of Settlement alone

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Pressure on PM over Peter Phillips engagement

Brendan Carlin and Jonathan Petre writing in The Times today appear to be supporting calls for the repeal of the 1701 Act of Settlement which forbids heirs to the Throne either becoming or marrying adherants of the Roman Catholic faith. However they conveniently miss the most central point in the Act’s intentions, which, as Archbishop Cranmer reminds us, is to prevent a Roman Catholic becoming King and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

The more important question for these quasi legal journalists to pursue ought to be whether to disestablish the Church of England from the apparatus of State.

Written by curly

August 4, 2007 at 8:59 am

Royal visit for South Tyneside

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Princess Anne in South ShieldsPrincess Royal inaugurates new Tyne ferry.

Princess Anne (click thumbnail to enlarge), the Princess Royal, visited South Shields this afternoon to inaugurate the new Tyne ferry “Spirit of the Tyne”. She was greeted by the Mayor and Mayoress Cllr. Ed. Malcolm and his mother Alice Malcolm, as well as the Lord Lieutenant and executives of Nexus, the ferry operator. On hand to try and warm the rather chilly atmosphere was the South Tyneside Pipe and Drum band and representatives of the borough’s uniformed youth organisations as well as a contingent of children from the nearby Marine Park Primary School.

I had arrived relatively early to allow myself time to find a reasonable spot with a good view, having experienced the speed of entry by our last royal visitor, Sophie Countess of Wessex, I knew that I’d be lucky to get one decent shot, and I was right! The six police outriders swept into Ferry, Approach, South Shields at the head of Princess Anne’s Volvo and within two seconds she was out of the car for a quick chat with the Mayor, then down the ramp for a quick sail on “The Spirit of the Tyne”. (Actually it took her an age to get anywhere near the boat – I’ll publish pictures on South Shields Daily Photo over the next couple of days to illustrate why.)

One has to remark that Princess Anne is not afraid of standing around in the most awful weather, it was biting cold with a stiff breeze today, we’ve often seen her standing at the touchline of Murrayfield in the driving rain in her capacity as President of the Scottish Rugby Union, so our weather in South Shields won’t have fazed her at all.

The big question being asked by a few in the crowds was where was the Mayor’s chain of office, the Mayoress was proudly sporting hers, but where was “the big one”? (Perhaps someone was afraid it might have an accident onboard and fall to the bed of the Tyne.)

All in all, I’m sure South Tyneside gave a good account of itself today.

Written by curly

March 1, 2007 at 8:25 pm

Countess of Wessex – update

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Further engagements announced.

Just remember – you read it here first!

The Royal household has announced further engagements for Sophie, Countess of Wessex for her visit to South Shields and Sunderland on 30th. January. Whilst I had details of some of the places she was to visit when I first posted the story last week, it would have been foolish of me to post them before the Royal household had finished the business of running security checks of the premises involved.

The additional engagements announced today include a visit to the West Harton Churches Action Station in Boldon Lane, South Shields, and Sunderland AFC fans will be able to see her at The Stadium of Light for the home match against Crystal Palace, she will also be attending a reception at the stadium in the afternoon in her role as Patron of the SAFC Foundation.

Seems like two good reasons to get your tickets!


Royal Diary

Written by curly

January 22, 2007 at 10:58 pm

Royal visitor for South Shields

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Sophie, Countess of Wessex to visit South Shields at end of month.

Curly learns that H.R.H. Sophie, Countess of Wessex will be visiting the South Tyneside Arts Studio in Derby Terrace, South Shields on January 30th.

This will be her third visit to the town having visited the Simonside Youth Centre in 2002 when she received a fluffy yellow duck, comments were also made about her likeness to the late Princess Diana of Wales. She returned to the town last year to visit a Mencap facility in Candlish Street, South Shields where she joined residents for a cup of tea in her capacity of President of the charity.

It is understood that further engagements in the town are planned for the Countess at the end of this month.

(Looks like a good photo opportunity for South Shields Daily Photo)


Royal Diary

Written by curly

January 17, 2007 at 11:27 pm