Thursday, July 27, 2017

Nene Park, where Rushden & Diamonds played


Rushden & Diamonds was formed in 1992 by a merger between two non-league team from Northamptonshire, Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds.

The merger was promoted by Max Griggs, owner of the Doc Marten shoe brand, who funded the new club.

The new club was remarkably successful. It rose through the non-league divisions and were promoted to Division 3 of the Football League (as its lowest division was then called) in 2001. Two years later they won it.

After that they began to struggle, particularly after Griggs handed the club to its supporters. They were soon out of the Football League and were wound up in 2011.

I was at the site of Rushden & Diamonds' ground, Nene Park, today.

Once they brought Leeds United and Sheffield United here in the third round of the FA Cup and staged under 21 and non-league internationals.

Even after Rushden & Diamonds folded, Kettering Town (a club with its own problems) played here for a while, and there was even talk of Coventry City being based here.

But Nene Park was demolished earlier this year. A Northamptonshire Telegraph report said:
"The building is in a dangerous condition and is unsafe. 
"The stadium represents a major fire risk. 
"The site is derelict and subject to wanton damage."
It is not known what will become of the site - nothing has happened at Leicester City's old Filbert Street ground - but at least that was nice use of "wanton".

And for the time being the blackberries growing there are very good.







Jonathan Meades on album covers and cooking


If you enjoyed film of Jonathan Meades at Marsh Court that I posted recently, here are two more contributions by the great mean that may be to your taste.

He has reviewed a book on album covers for the Literary Review:
Three hundred pages of photographs of egomaniacal longhairs trying their utmost to look insolently delinquent (as only the alumni of Harrow, Charterhouse, Haberdashers’ Aske’s, Oundle, the Perse and numerous other public schools can). An introductory essay weighed down by cliché. A commemoration of the last century’s over-denimed, over-flared sartorial nadir. A vanity project that exhumes ephemera – mere record sleeves! – and binds them boastfully in hard covers. That’s one way of looking at this book. 
Another is to consider this doggedly thorough doorstop as a comprehensive celebration of a gloriously impure mix of photographic surrealism, graphic ostentation, inventive mise en scène, darkroom experimentation (Photoshop was far in the future), palaeo cut and paste (using cowgum, of course), hoary jokes, bricolage, inspired ad hocism and, above all, sheer cleverness.
And in June he spoke to John Mitchinson of Unbound Books at the London Review Bookshop about his career and in particular his new book.

You can listen to the evening as a podcast and it is well worth doing so as Meades was in good form.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The tombs of the Dukes of Rutland in Bottesford church


St Mary the Virgin, Bottesford, is a beautiful church, known as "The Lady of the Vale" - the Vale of Belvoir, that is.

But it is devoted more to the glory of the Dukes of Rutland than to the glory of God.

So much so that the altar has been moved to near the chancel arch. After that it is tombs all the way. 

The result is a wonderful collection of 17th and 18th century sculpture after that the dukes were buried in a mausoleum at Belvoir Castle.

 One of the tombs has some dark history attached to it, which I shall write about another day. Back to chancel arch.

It is impossible to miss the arms of Queen Victoria (who, even in Bottesford,outranked the Duke of Rutland), but there is also has a faded medieval doom painting of the sort I photographed in Lutterworth.






Sunday afternoon teas to do justice to Richard Jefferies


Richard Jefferies, the 19th century author I wrote my dissertation about, deserves to be better known.

So it is good to read this on the Swindon Advertiser site:
The work of Victorian nature writer Richard Jefferies is being brought to a new audience this summer. 
A series of cream tea and culture Sundays is being staged at his birthplace near Coate Water and it is proving popular. 
"The museum is dedicated to Richard Jefferies but a lot of people have never heard of him," said manager Mike Pringle. "Just wandering around looking at books in cases isn’t really doing justice to him. 
"We thought on Sunday afternoons when we’re open why not up the game a bit and make it an event rather than just a visit?"
You can read more about the plans on the museum's website.

Labour's only councillor in Oadby and Wigston resigns


The Leicester Mercury reports:
A Labour councillor has quit after being deemed not a fit and proper person to drive a taxi by his own authority. 
Gurpal Atwal has resigned as the member for the Uplands Ward on Oadby and Wigston Borough Council.
The resignation followed the failure of Atwal's court appeal against his council's own finding.

You can read the allegations made against him, all of which Atwal denies, in an earlier Mercury report.

Atwal blames a former business partner for those allegations and, in a statement issued today, blamed others for his resignation too:
"Oadby and Wigston Council officers and one or two local councillors have taken positions in this matter that impact on my ability to concentrate on working effectively as a councillor on behalf of the Uplands Ward constituents. 
"On that basis, I resign my seat as a Borough Councillor for Oadby Uplands Ward forthwith."
Intriguingly, though he doesn't give a source for it, Guido Fawkes claims:
A witness claimed in a statement that Atwal once boasted of having “Keith Vaz in my right pocket”.
Elected in 2015, Gurpal Atwal was the first Labour councillor to win a seat on the Liberal Democrat run authority for some 30 years.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Approaching St Mary the Virgin's Church, Bottesford


Yesterday I was locked out of a church full of monuments to the local aristocracy - Exton in Rutland.

Today I got into St Mary the Virgin's Church, Bottesford, where the Dukes of Rutland are buried.

More of their tombs another day. For tonight, let's just enjoy the view of the church's 212ft spire as you approach it across a field path from the village's railway station.

The Bonkers tombs in St Asquith's are very fine too, of course.

Six of the Best 712

"During last month’s election campaign, I made the most important political decision of my life. I resigned from the Conservative Party, for whom I had stood as a parliamentary candidate in 2015, to join the Liberal Democrats." Azi Ahmed explains why she is proud to be a Lib Dem newbie.

Jay Rayner was asked to a meeting by Michael Gove so that he could share is expertise on the implications of Brexit for our food supply. He declined, but this is what he would have said.

"The council’s advisors were clear that if planing guidance had been applied strictly then the council could have demanded over 1000 more affordable homes. They choose not to." George Turner dissects Wandsworth's mishandling of the Battersea power station project.

Mark Collins on the extraordinary bonfire of paperwork that accompanied the end of the British Empire.

Alexander Star examines Friedrich Nietzsche's influence on America.

"It occurs to me that watching the women’s game now is rather what it must have been like watching the men’s game in the earliest days of the modern era (in the 1870s and 1880s) : predominantly medium pace bowling and spin, well-pitched up, with the batsmen playing off the front foot with a straight bat." Backwatersman is variously ecstatic, bewildered or indifferent watching the Women's World Cup.

Passenger who stuffed £10 into a barrister's mouth after being asked to stop pinching snacks from first class trolley found guilty of assault

The judges were unanimous in their praise for the reader who nominated today's winner, the Daily Telegraph.

Monday, July 24, 2017

On not being able to get into St Peter and St Paul's, Exton


Pevsner says:
There are no churches in Rutland and few in England in which English sculpture from the C16 to the C18 can be studied so profitably and enjoyed so much as at Exton. The church contains nine important monuments, and several of them are of outstanding value.
And the church's webpage says it is open during daylight hours.

But when I got there today I found that, despite notices about CCTV and Church Watch, not to mention Divine Omniscience and the possibility of Eternal Damnation, it was locked.

So I enjoyed a wander round the churchyard and the views of parkland. The church was largely built after being struck by lightning in the 19th century and given a slightly eccentric tower and spire combo in the process.







Alistair Carmichael: "Liam Fox is acting like a tinpot dictator"



Andrea Leadsom demanded that BBC journalists should be "patriotic" - which in her mind consisted in telling everyone how well the negotiations with the European Union are going.

Now Liam Fox has written to  the BBC’s director general complaining that the corporation consistently runs negative stories about the economic effects of Brexit and demanding a meeting.

The Guardian report quotes someone giving the right response:
The Lib Dem chief whip, Alistair Carmichael, called the letter “a blatant attempt at intimidating the BBC and undermining the independence of our media”. 
“The BBC shouldn’t be bullied into publishing government propaganda and has rightly stood its ground,” Carmichael said. “Liam Fox is acting like a tinpot dictator. He can’t blame the media for his inability to deliver on all the trade deals promised by the Brexiteers.”
At the back of all this nonsense lies the fact that the Conservative Party is no longer Conservative.

Far from taking pride in British institutions - the National Health Service, our schools and universities, the BBC - they despise them.

All must be punished by continuous reform, with the inspiration coming from abroad - usually the USA (though other models are available).

There is something unpatriotic about the whole enterprise.

But then it was also unpatriotic of Theresa May to allow Liam Fox back into the cabinet after he was forced to resign the first time around for putting people at physical risk by breaching the ministerial code.

Corbyn's economics - the Alternative Economic Strategy of 1976



If Peter Harrison, a fellow member of Wrekin Young Socialists with whom Jeremy Corbyn once climbed that Shropshire hill to plant the red flag, is right to say:
"I knew him when we were 18 or 19, and his views have not changed. We are talking about the thick end of 50 years ago."
it follow that we should look back to those days if we want to understand the Labour leader's economic views.

And that brings us to the Alternative Economic Strategy which Tony Benn put to the Labour cabinet (with some support from Peter Shore) in the autumn of 1976.

Bob Rowthorn has listed its proposals as follows:
  • reflation of the economy to raise output and create more employment;
  • import controls to protect industries on the verge of collapse and to keep imports in line with what Britain can afford;
  • price controls to prevent firms from exploiting the sellers' market resulting from import controls and economic expansion;
  • compulsory planning agreements to force big firms, especially multinationals, to pursue different production, employment and investment policies;
  • nationalisation of key industrial firms to provide the public sector with the skill and knowledge required to control the private sector - following the example of the British National Oil Corporation (BNOC) set up by Tony Benn;
  • public ownership of the major financial institutions to give the state control over the investment policies of pension funds and other sources of industrial finance;
  • new powers for workers and their trade unions to bargain with big companies and monitor their activities;
  • withdrawal from the Common Market and abrogation of the Treaty of Rome which outlaws many of the above measures;
  • expansion of the social services to restore the Tory cuts and deal with new problems created by the present crisis;
  • a reduction in military expenditure to help finance expenditure for other purposes;
  • redistribution of income and wealth to eliminate some of the gross inequalities in Britain today.
Note that withdrawal from Europe is central to this strategy, so we should not be surprised at Corbyn's comments on the single market yesterday.

I am up for a fair bit of curbing capital's freedom of operation, but it is obvious that if that is to be done then it must be a multi-national enterprise.

To pretend Britain can act and then prosper in isolation is a nonsense - and a nonsense that Corbyn shares with the Conservative right and Ukip.

Concorde was the Brexit of 50 years ago



I was going to include Tom Kelsey's Guardian article drawing parallels between Concorde and Brexit in a Six of the Best, but it deserves an article in its own right.

Kelsey shows that Concorde never had a hope of making money for Britain:
As secretary of state for industry, Tony Benn revealed to parliament in 1974 that Britain would not recover any of the £600m that the government spent on Concorde. Putting sixteen Concordes into production would also cost another £200m, at the very least. Due to their high running costs, Concordes could not be sold for more than a fifth of the price of manufacturing, so the cost could never be recouped ... 
Only the captive national airlines of Britain and France ever operated Concorde. It was to be described by one economist as among the three worst decisions in civil investment in the history of humanity.
Both Harold Wilson and Ted Heath wanted to cancel the project, but both had political reasons for not doing so, Then, when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, Michael Heseltine attempted to be Concorde's salesman.

Meanwhile:
The newspapers were saying what the powerful wanted them to say. Optimistic estimates about the future profits Concorde supplied by the British Aircraft Corporation filled the pages of the broadsheets and tabloids. 
The only journalist who called for Concorde to be cancelled with any persistence was the much-derided Andrew Wilson of the Observer. Other media voices were aware of the flaws in the project, but found their efforts to expose them hampered. 
In the late 1960s, the BBC reached a compromise with the BAC: the broadcaster could question the project as long as they gave Concorde’s manufacturers the right to reply. "You may not realise it but this was a very considerable movement forward", wrote a BBC news journalist.
One difference between the two projects, I would add, is that Concorde was a thing of beauty whereas Brexit is very ugly indeed.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Leicester's sweary statue chills out



If you live hereabouts you may have seen a street performer dressed as a silver statue swearing live on East Midlands Today. He told the Leicester Mercury why he did it.

Anyway, I saw him by the clock tower yesterday, hanging out with the Hare Krishna people.

I hope they will prove a calming influence on him.


Six of the Best 711

Mark Mills was never Kaiser Bill's batman, but he did learn a lot from being Vince Cable's intern.

Jeremy Corbyn will never be prime minister. Or so Louis Mian reckons.

Anoosh Chakelian reminds us that children's fiction can be political: "Although The Demon Headmaster: Total Control ... is not explicitly political, the effects of successive Tory government education reforms since the last book in 2002 weigh heavy on the plot and pupils."

"The 'tough guy' narrative is seductive. It suggests we have control over our fate, that we can will cancer away. These are lies we tell ourselves. And for some patients that’s helpful. It gets them through the day. For them, it’s a useful tool. But courageousness is a standard that no sick person should feel like they have to meet." Josh Friedman, a cancer survivor himself, thinks some of the reaction to John McCain's diagnosis has been unhelpful.

When Saturday Comes says Glasgow’s ghostly Cathkin Park, once the home of Third Lanark, stands as a warning to football’s wayward owners.

"The internet tells me that Jane's Country Year was Malcolm Saville's favourite of his own books." Front Free Endpaper reproduces Bernard Bowerman's illustrations (one of which you can see here).

Thompson Twins: You Take Me Up



Another song from the reruns of Top of the Pops.

This was a hit in 1984, and sounds much better today than I had remembered.

But I still don't believe the Thompson Twins know what it means to work hard on machines.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

This is Their Life by Jonathan Meades (1979)

Published in 1979 complete with a foreword by Mike Yarwood, this is a collection of brief pen portraits of television stars of the day.

Just to list those thought worthy of discussion brings back a lost era. James Galway, Wendy Craig, Ron Pickering, Dickie Henderson. Max Boyce, Pam Ayres, Brian Glover, Penelope Keith.

And because this is 1979 no one on television is gay and only Trevor McDonald is black.

But the real interest of This is Their Life lies in the identity of its author. It is Jonathan Meades.

Meades turned 32 in 1979 and fame was still some years away. So on first inspection this looks like hack work. But a bit of browsing reveals it is more interesting than that.

There is the choice of subjects. I doubt any other young television journalist would have included Ian Nairn and W.G. Hoskins in his list.

Look for it, and the acerbic comment is there too. David Hamilton, for instance, is “the lowbrow’s Michael Aspel”.

The gruesome Ted Rogers is suitably dealt with:
Most of his material is written in conjunction with Wally Malston, who is apparently known as ‘King of the One-Liners’, and says that Rogers is ‘a barometer of what the public is thinking’. 
So be it, but he is hardly a barometer of what the public is doing. His passion is polo – he has four ponies and plays at Cowdray Park, which is also a regular haunt of Prince Charles. 
Meades gets his Foxes right too:
Described by his mother – herself an actress and the widow of the theatrical agent, Robin Fox – as ‘the world’s worst actor’, Edward Fox was for years overshadowed by his younger brother, James, who was arguably the world’s best actor, at least in certain roles. 
But the neatest digs are aimed at two targets who are still very much with us 38 years on – the Dimbleboys, as Meades says Bernard Levin used to call them.

Their father, as everyone would have known in 1979, was Richard Dimbleby, who had been the most famous broadcaster of his day.

Here he is on David Dimbleby:
Even before he became a professional journalist, he had to learn to live with accusations of privilege. At Oxford, where he took a third in PPE, his appointment as editor of Isis was opposed by the outgoing editor Kenith Trodd, who is now a noted drama producer, and his staff. Dimbleby countered with a swingeing attack on ‘the left-wing clique’. 
A couple of years later, some journalists took it upon themselves to advise him publicly not to attempt to follow in his father’s footsteps at the BBC.
On the face of it it might appear that he has done just that, but, of course, his route and approach have been very different from Richard Dimbleby's. Whereas the father was ever reverential, the son - despite his looks and his smooth cap of hair - is rather an abrasive fellow.
 Jonathan, meanwhile, had:
wanted to be a farmer, and his father succeeded in getting him a job on the Royal farm at Windsor, where he trained to be a showjumper. 
You can find This is Their Life on Amazon for a penny, which represents good value for students of popular entertainment and Meades enthusiasts.

Accordion player Sandy Brechin joins horse therapist in fundraising gig

The Ludlow Advertiser wins our Headline of the Day Award.

Many thanks to the reader who nominated this one.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Football mascots observing silences before games


I was introduced today to the comic gold that is photographs of football mascots observing silences before games.

Here, borrowed from The Peterborough Defect, is a shot of Fleetwood Town's Captain Cod remembering the dead of two world wars.

Why Liberal Democrat members should subscribe to Liberator



I have already posted Lord Bonkers' Diary from the current issue of Liberator and given you a taste of the party gossip to be found in Radical Bulletin.

But there is more to Liberator than that. As well as being the Liberal Democrats' Private Eye, it also aspires to be their New Statesman or Spectator.

You can download two articles from the new issue as pdfs.

There's Liz Barker's account of her attempts to address Tim Farron's line on gay sex. And there's Liberator's traditional questionnaire to party leadership contenders (even though there was only one contender this time).

Subscribers to the print magazine will also have read Tony Greaves, Michael Meadowcroft, Paul Hindley and others on Lib Dems' election result and Marianne Magnin on the French election.

The conclusion is clear. If you are a new (or old) Liberal Democrat you should subscribe to Liberator.

Six of the Best 710

"Within secure children’s homes, regulations limit the use of restraint to prevent injury, serious property damage and to stop a child running away. Escort officers, however, are permitted to restrain for 'good order and discipline'." Carolyne Willow shows that the deliberate infliction of pain is still used on children in care.

Alan Jay Levinovitz says economists turned economics into a highly paid pseudoscience because of their fetishising of mathematical models.

"If I put food on the table from writing BuzzFeed columns, or were up for course renewal at a local journalism school, this piece of writing would not exist." Jonathan Kay on what social media is doing to our intellectual landscape.

Sam Kitchener reviews a new exhibition of British realist painting from the interwar years at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and asks if those artists were scared of the modern world.

On the night of Friday 16 May 1941, a single German bomber killed 11 people in the Leicestershire town of Hinckley. Read about it on Hinckley Past and Present.

"One of the most distinctive actresses of the 20th century, with her inimitable, tremulous voice, arrestingly unusual features and irresistible presence, guaranteed to wrench your attention away from everything else on screen." Rick Burin celebrates the wonderful Wendy Hiller.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Travelling for a Living - a 1966 documentary on the Watersons


Here is an unexpected pleasure. The whole of this documentary about the important folk group is available to view for free on the British Film Institute website.

Click on the still above to view it there.

As the blurb on the BFI site says:
"These are the Watersons, a very important part of the revival of traditional British music. They live in Hull." 
A British road movie of sorts, this rich and vital film follows the group on the folk club circuit, at home and in studios. 
It's rewarding on several levels - whether your main interest is Hull, the folk revival or documentary filmmaking - and repays repeated viewings. Seminal and superb.

Lord Bonkers' Diary: The Democratic Unionist Party meets the Rutland Water Monster

And so another week with Lord Bonkers draws to a close. His diaries appear in each issue of Liberator magazine as well as on this blog.

Sunday

It is the day of the annual fixture between Lord Bonkers’ XI and the Democratic Unionist Party. The Ulstermen are rather pleased with themselves, having had handfuls of banknotes stuffed down their trousers by the Conservatives in return for their votes.

Playing the DUP is always something of a trial: they will not allow two to their batsmen to be in at the same time in case it leads to immoral practices.

During the tea interval I hear them saying that there were never any such as thing dinosaurs. I have a word with my old friend Ruttie, the Rutland Water Monster, and she makes a point of sticking her head in through the window of their team bus and sticking her tongue out as it prepares to pull away.

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South-West 1906-10.

Previously in Lord Bonkers' Diary...

Government announces that the Midland main line will not be electrified north of Kettering

We will see more disappointing news like this around the country as HS2 eats up all the funding for rail investment.
That's what I wrote last December when it was announced that planned access improvement at Market Harborough station were to be postponed.

Reading between the lines of that post, it should already have been clear that today's announcement that there will be no electrification of the Midland main line north of Kettering was inevitable.

The transport minister Paul Maynard had declined to confirm that work north of Kettering would take place. 

And BBC News had quoted his boss Chris Grayling:
He said that rather than passengers from Northamptonshire having to board trains coming from the further north down to London, they would have a service originating from Corby and Kettering.
So services on the Midland will be operated by hybrid trains that use the overhead wires from St Pancras to Kettering and then switch to diesel to get to Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield.

The photograph below was taken in Kibworth Beauchamp (between Market Harborough and Leicester) and shows work being carried out to rebuild a road bridge to give room for overhead electrification to be installed on the railway.


This was done to numerous bridges north of Kettering and now turns out to have been a waste of money.

What appears to have happened is that the electrification of the Great Western line took too long and cost too much, with the result that the government felt it had to postpone the work on the Midland.

That in turn meant that the government was going to have to order hybrid diesel-electric trains to run on the Midland.

And if they had those, reasoned the government, then there was no need to electrify the line north of Kettering at all.

Note, incidentally, how intimately the government is involved in the running of our 'privatised' railways.

The railways had far more autonomy in the days of the nationalised British Rail.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The remains of the Hanbury mausoleum at Church Langton


So I went to Church Langton churchyard to pay my respects to J.W. Logan.

I was sorry to see that one of the other Logan family monuments has been damaged, but please that a couple of plaques inside the church that a family member has recently contributed to restoration there.

But the structure in the photograph above is the remains of the Hanbury family mausoleum. I have blogged about William Hanbury and his ambitions for Church Langton before.

John Throsby saw the mausoleum in 1790:
Near the above, in a seat, is a rude pile of bricks which incloses the body of the late Mr. Hanbury. For its reception, he built a mausoleum in the church-yard; but thither it, at present, has not found its way, although I am told, that some of the ashes of his kindred rest in it. It seems somewhat a pity but his will was complied with in this instance. The mausoleum is built of wrought stone, plain and lofty.
It was taken down in 1865. All that remains today is the base, which home to a rather fine statue of an angel.

Lord Bonkers' Diary: A glimpse of Theresa May's girlhood

Lord Bonkers tells me he no longer shows Belted George Galloways - "Not a reliable breed."

Saturday

Years ago I spoke with a red-faced farmer at some county show or other – I must have been there with my Belted George Galloways. He complained to me that the local vicar’s daughter was in the habit of running through his wheat fields and doing awful damage.

I now realise that the obnoxious child must have been Theresa May. For the farmer said to me: “I wouldn’t mind, but she keeps changing direction.”

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South-West 1906-10.

Previously in Lord Bonkers' Diary...

Six of the Best 709

"The Chagos Islands, a beautiful archipelago of seven atolls in the Indian Ocean, comprise of more than 60 individual tropical islands of sun swept beaches and palm trees. Yet, for nearly 50 years the local Chagossian people, known as the Illois, have been denied the right of return. Their story is one of expulsion, lies, betrayal and severe poverty." Ollie Taylor on a dark episode in postwar history.

Y Cneifiwr on Carmarthenshire County Council's persecution of the blogger Jacqui Thompson.

"More than 500 streets across England have been temporarily closed for play over the past few years, with support from around 45 local authorities, and the idea has recently spread to Canada and Australia." Divided cities can be brought together by children playing in the road, says Apolitical.

The British government wants to put all pornographic websites behind an age-verification wall. But, as Jerry Barnett points out, this ambition could affect many other sites too.

We have replaced regular church going with visits to sacred sites, argues Lousie Hampson.

Adrian Yekkes takes us to five Art Deco and modernist buildings across London.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

To Market Harborough and the Beerhouse by canal



An amiable travel video that appeared on YouTube today.

The 1985 Liberal Party Assembly was organised from two semi-converted narrow boats moored at Foxton. That mooring was through the brick bridge you see at about 1:03 when they stop to open the swing bridge.

Lord Bonkers' Diary: How to keep Vince Cable lithe and limber

The old boy goes on about that cordial so much that, despite his complaints at its cost, I would not be surprised if he were on a percentage from the Elves of Rockingham Forest.

Friday

Vince "High Voltage" Cable keeps himself lithe and limber with his ballroom dancing, but if he is determined to be leader – and there does not seem to be anyone else prepared to pick up the mantle - then he needs to look to his health.

I stop him in a Westminster corridor today to give him some advice. "You need to bathe annually in the spring of eternal life that bursts from the hillside above the former headquarters of the Association of Liberal Councillors in Hebden Bridge," I say.

I also offer to introduce him to the Elves of Rockingham Forest. "You want to get your hands on some of their cordial. They do drive a hard bargain. though, so don’t accept the first price they offer you. Still, you’re an economist so you should know all about that."

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South-West 1906-10.

Previously in Lord Bonkers' Diary...

Hamidullah Qadri: the future of English spin?



This blog takes an interest in the emergence of young English spin bowlers. Both Adil Rashid and Mason Crane featured here early in their careers.

Today's Guardian introduced us to another bright prospect:
Last month Hamidullah Qadri did much more than become the first person born in the 21st century to play county cricket when, at the age of 16, he was picked for Derbyshire against Glamorgan. 
Qadri did much more than inspire Derbyshire to their first four-day victory in two years when, as an off-spinner, he opened the bowling in the final innings of a match which ended as he took his fifth wicket amid excitement and joy. 
He did much more than explain why Iain O’Brien, who played 22 Tests for New Zealand, calls him The Magician.
Qadri has since been called up to the England under-19 one day squad.

Why is the thought of a new England spinner so enticing?

In part it is because really good ones are so rare. In my long cricket-watching careering England have had precisely two consistent match-winning spinners: Derek Underwood and Graeme Swann.

And in part it's because it is good to craft and guile triumphing over strength and power in the modern game.

But I think it is also because one of my favourite cricket memories is Phil Edmonds' debut against Australia at Headingley in 1975. He took 5-28 in Australia's first innings and they were skittled for 135. (England did not win: the game was abandoned after protesters vandalised the pitch overnight.)

Edmonds was about the first young player I saw being picked for England. In those days a batsman could be promising at 30 and the selectors specialised in recalling former players. Both Ted Dexter and M,J.K Smith, who might as well have batted with dinosaurs, reappeared in the test side.

So as long as there are young England spinners, I will not feel entirely old myself.

Philip Hollobone meets the Kettering branch of Ukip



Philip Hollobone, the Conservative MP for Kettering, has met the local Ukip branch, reports the Northamptonshire Telegraph:
The local UKIP branch and long-standing Brexiteer Philip Hollobone agreed a memorandum of understanding in April whereby UKIP didn’t put up a candidate against Mr Hollobone because of their shared views on certain issues. 
Senior UKIP member locally Jonathan Bullock said: "Philip Hollobone kept his promise from the General Election and met with senior members of UKIP’s Kettering branch recently to discuss the progress of Brexit and his support for outlawing face coverings in public, reducing overseas aid and opposition to HS2 ...
"Philip gave a detailed briefing as to how he saw the Brexit negotiations progressing and also confirmed his support on various other issues upon which UKIP has campaigned. We saw eye to eye."
Hollobone is in the habit of wearing a Union Jack jacket. He must think it makes him look patriotic. In truth it makes him look an idiot.

Which may not be entirely misleading.

Let me take you back to November 2008 and a House Points column I wrote for Liberal Democrat News:
The death of Baby P ...was raised again when Ed Balls answered questions on Monday. He tried to slip a statement through. Mr Speaker cut him sort short and said he would have to come back another day and do it properly. The atmosphere was tense. 
At which point the Tory Philip Hollobone took it into his head to stand up and ask Balls this question: 
On another subject, the ocarina is an easy-to-play, easy-to-learn, easy-to-teach circular flute, and the centre of the UK’s ocarina industry is in Kettering. My constituents, David and Christa Liggins, actively promote the use of this low-cost musical instrument in schools across the country. Would the Secretary of State agree to meet my constituents and me to discuss how this low-cost instrument might help the Government to teach more school pupils how to play musical instruments?
You can see why he got on so well with Ukip.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Old Manor House, Kibworth Beauchamp


After watching the cricket at East Langton on Saturday I ended up in Kibworth.

The bookshop was closed, but I found that the Old Manor House in Kibworth Beauchamp high street was undergoing pretty far-reaching renovations.

Pevsner describes it as
C16 to C17, with two symmetrical gables. Stone below with mullioned windows, timber-framed and stuccoed above.
But it was clear on Saturday that there is still a lot of wattle and daub involved too.