Tuesday, 31 May 2011


© Copyright Nick Smith and licensed for reuse. This is not an endorsement of my post.
A study by York Aviation on the economic impact of night flights – paid for by Manston Airport's owners Infatril – has tried to quash the case for 'no night flights' arguing that allowing flying between 11pm and 7am would help bring more than 3,000 jobs to the area. Would it be fair to speculate whether this is merely the PR machine cranking up the ante, pushing the results of a study which undermines the logic of those who campaign for 'no night flights'? 

Is this study really trying to imply that opposition to night flights will only keep people unemployed? With the closure of Pfizer and the loss of 2,400 jobs or more, it's easy to see how this might sway local people into feeling that allowing night flights is the sensible option, on the basis that it will magic jobs out of thin air. But is there more to this story than meets the eye? Of course there is. Would Infatril really pay for a study which contradicts their preferred business plan for Manston Airport? I say no.

From the outset, this study was probably bound to have an implicit pro-night flight stance, so we should definitely treat it with some misgivings. It even states on This Is Kent that:

"York Aviation is in the process of finalising the second part of the research which will assess the impact that the imposition of a stringent night movement policy would have on the airport's economic impact and commercial operation."

In other words, I'm willing to guess that these studies are more than likely going to lend credence to Infatril's masterplan. This first study, stressing the amount of jobs that may be created by allowing night flights, has an optimistic spin, so the second one will probably be more pessimistic, replete with doom-laden predictions intended to spook people into allowing Infatril to do whatever the hell they want. However, judging by the large amount of publicity this story has been getting, there is a risk that people will take this study at face value and lose sight of the bigger picture.

According to the latest unemployment figures, 4,382 people are unemployed in Thanet, so it's clear that jobs are sorely needed. But to take heed of a study which is eager to present itself as the saviour of the local economy may not be particularly wise, especially if an AEF study by Brendon Sewill on the “dubious statistical concepts” which airport consultants use to make future job forecasts is anything to go by. Sewill states:

“The suggestion that a new or expanded airport will create more jobs is a sure way to attract support from the public and a fair wind from the planners. Naturally airport companies and airlines make the most of this. Yet because they have a commercial interest in magnifying the number of new jobs, their figures need careful examination.”

Sewill also states the following:

“With the current recession, when thousands are losing their jobs, any promise of more jobs is welcome. Airports and airlines for their own commercial reasons tend, however, to exaggerate the number of jobs that will be created by airport expansion.”

Exaggerate, you say? For those of us who like to hear both sides of this argument, it's worth heading over to the No Night Flights website in which they argue that in comparison to job forecasts by other airports such as Gatwick and Stansted, Manston's job forecasts are by far the highest. This should ring alarm bells to people and does warrant further scrutiny.

Ultimately, we need to remind ourselves that Infatril's goal is to make a profit. What matters so much more than that is making sure the wishes of local residents are respected. Therefore, if this study really is built on hyperbolic statistics, then it's important to resist the urge to be convinced by its obvious one-sidedness. I hope people take a more balanced view on the pro's and con's of this issue rather than merely taking this study as gospel. After all, we may want jobs, but it should be on our terms, not Infatril's.

Monday, 30 May 2011


Image from http://www.jonathanmeades.com/pictures/brandwagon_01.jpg
The opening of the Turner Contemporary last month has certainly got a lot of tongues wagging. Will it regenerate Thanet's economic prospects, or will it end up just being a 'white elephant'? Is there a genuine cause to be optimistic? Chair of Turner Contemporary and respected journalist, John Kampfner, certainly seems to think so. In this week's Thanet Gazette, he writes that: 

"Culture-led regeneration works – almost always. There have been one or two examples of failure over the past decade and a half, but these have occurred through poor management or governance. The principle is not at stake. The Guggenheim in Bilbao is held up as the great example, and it is."

Reading Kampfner's mention of Bilbao, I was reminded of a Little Atoms podcast about urban renaissance which was released four months prior to the opening of the Turner Contemporary. In it, critic and broadcaster Jonathan Meades (in the picture above) was a guest speaker and voiced his opinion on 'the Bilbao effect'. 'The Bilbao effect', for those not in the know, is a term used in reference to the Guggenheim Museum to describe how building a piece of architecture – an art gallery, usually – can magically transform an entire region into a cultural destination.

Since Thanet has been blighted with social deprivation problems and a declining tourist trade for many years, it's easy to see why decision-makers felt that building an art gallery in Margate could indeed bring 'the Bilbao effect' to East Kent. A lot of this is just wishful thinking really. Even the Guggenheim's architect Frank Gehry has dismissed 'the Bilbao effect' as "bullsh*t." All I will say is, I hope those who decided to spend £17m to build the Turner Contemporary are correct and don't end up with pie in their faces if it all goes pear-shaped.

Jonathan Meades recognises 'the Bilbao effect' as being a key driver in modern architecture these days, arguing that "everyone from Bremen to Bristol thought 'if Bilbao can do it, we can do it too.'" He went on to elaborate on his point: 

"There are thousands of projects across the world which attempt to replicate what Gehry did in Bilbao. In Manchester, you've got the Imperial War Museum of the North and the Lowry. All these museums and galleries incidentally beg the question of 'What do you put in them? Is there enough art to go round?'

There's also the implied idea with museums like the Guggenheim, like the Lowry, that art is somehow good for you. It seems to overlook the fact that every member of the SS could play Schubert concert standard and did so after a little light gassing.

Art is not good for you – this is not the way to improve cities. The money that is spent on a particular gang of forever peripatetic architects – this money could be spent on useful things like literacy or pharmaceutically perfect drugs for people.”

Well, there's not much chance of pharmaceutically perfect drugs once Pfizer packs its bags, is there?! All in all, Jonathan Meades raises a very interesting point about art as a tool for cultural regeneration and the possibility that the money might perhaps have been better spent elsewhere. This is something which I'm sure many local people may sympathise with, but who am I to judge? I too am guilty of occasionally wondering why it's so tempting for people to believe that art can cure so many of society's ills, particularly Thanet's. Will Auguste Rodin's The Kiss solve our problems of chronic unemployment? Does Russell Crotty's star chart promise to stem the problem of rogue landlords or address the need for affordable housing? 

No, of course not. The gallery was only ever intended to be a catalyst for change, something which has the potential to usher in a new wave of investors and business interest which can boost the local economy, even I can understand that. Whether that change occurs or not is yet to be seen, but the signs so far are definitely promising, especially if you also consider the booming popularity of Margate Old Town's shops. But what do you think? Is Jonathan Meades right? Is art bad for us? Can an art gallery bring a reversal in our area's fortunes? Would the money have been better spent elsewhere? Is seeing a fancy painting in a gallery enough to set us free? Art macht frei? Only time will tell. But for those of us whose hopes and aspirations are tied to the local area, we can only hope so.

Sunday, 29 May 2011


Image from http://www.pavilionpanto.com/images/cast/Jim_Davidson_680.jpg 
You might be aware that comedian Jim Davidson – and I'm using the word 'comedian' very loosely here – slammed Margate and slated the Turner Contemporary last month on his blog. Quite what the washed up former TV host of BBC's Generation Game knows about art is beyond me. It's worth reminding ourselves that Jim Davidson is a man whose stage play was scrapped due to poor ticket sales, so I'm willing to bet that his lashing out at Margate is merely a case of sour grapes because the belligerent old fart's career appears to be on the wane.

It may even run deeper than that. Could it be possible that Jim Davidson is envious that the Turner Contemporary can pull in more punters than Davidson probably does during the whole Christmas panto season? This view is shared somewhat by Tony Flaig at Big News Margate who did a post on this story last weekend. Now, I'm not a fan of this 'lowest common denominator' comedy of the sort Jim Davidson and Roy Chubby Brown are eager to peddle, so I can't really help myself from being repulsed by anything that comes out of Jim Davidson's mouth.

But if Jim Davidson could see beyond the dummy he spits out of his pram, he'd understand that not everybody can afford to swan off to Dubai whenever the going feels like it's getting tough, so anything which might actually improve the area of Thanet is none of his bloody business. Then again, there are reports that Davidson was declared bankrupt soon after he returned to the UK, so he's hardly in a position to get on his soapbox. This is what he said:

"What the f**k is an arty-farty art gallery doing in Margate? Build a theatre or some shops, anything that the people of Margate want. This is the most stupid thing I have seen for ever…someone must have thought, “Hmm, no jobs, no shops, a theatre that needs condemning – I know we’ll build an art gallery the no-one wants,”...f**king idiots!"

It's funny how he reckons building a new theatre would be a good idea – it's not like he'd be able to sell it out! What worries me most about what Jim Davidson said is whether some people agree with him. I've already met a plumber who slagged off the Turner on the basis that “it's a load of old shit innit” so it's difficult to know what local people really think of the gallery yet.

However, the statistics on the Turner Contemporary's success don't lie, so I think we should let the numbers do the talking for now and tell Jim Davidson to stick his opinion where the sun don't shine. We should also remember that Jim Davidson also came 20th on Channel 4's list of Worst Britons, so I'm sure he sleeps like a baby at night, don't you?

Saturday, 28 May 2011


Photograph: BBC News. Image from http://bit.ly/oeEkfr.
Local Tory MP Roger Gale (North Thanet) has voted 'Aye' to the first reading of Nadine Dorries's Abstinence Bill. The bill aims to encourage 'schools to give girls aged 13 to 16 extra sex education, including the benefits of abstinence.' Nothing unreasonable with that, you might say, but these classes are for girls only, so what kind of message does that send to the boys? That they're not to be trusted? Are males the only ones guilty of corrupting the UK's poor damsels? Why aren't boys allowed to learn about saying 'no'? Are they incapable of it?

"The answer to ending our constant struggle with the incredibly high rate of teenage sexual activity and underage pregnancies," says Nadine Dorries, "lies in teaching our girls and boys about the option of abstinence, the ability to 'just say no' as part of their compulsory sex education." Forgive me, but isn't abstinence practically the default setting of all sex education anyway? This all seems so pointless. If all teenagers have got to do is say 'no' then what's the bloody point in even doing sex-ed in the first place?

The point of sex education, in my view, is not to make schoolchildren put condoms on bananas and go out getting busy in the bushes, like Nadine Dorries seems to think the current curriculum does. Sex-ed is about teaching teenagers the value of making sure they are physically and emotionally ready for sex before they consent, teaching them about the risks in doing so (STDs, pregnancy, etc.) but not scaring them into thinking it's something to be ashamed of. If teenagers want to say 'no' then that's fine, but there's no harm in making them informed about the wider issues about sex, and if this Abstinence Bill challenges the scope of sex-ed or shifts the emphasis too drastically, then is that really in the best interests of the UK's teenagers?

Besides, should Dorries really be in a position to preach moral values when it comes to sex, especially since she's previously been accused of being a 'marriage wrecker' after having an affair with a friend's husband? Fact is, you can't stop teenagers from having sex. You can try, but Nadine Dorries is a bit like King Canute trying to stop the tide coming in, so I doubt this bill will solve anything. Teenagers will either have sex or they won't – you might as well make sure they're educated and informed should they decide to make that choice (or not).

If anything has contributed to the rise in teenage pregnancies in the UK, it's peer pressure – that's what Dorries really needs to conquer, but that in itself is still an elusive goal which can only be cured by education anyway. Also worth mentioning is the lack of job opportunities and low pay available to the young once they leave school. If all teenage girls have to hope for is a minimum wage shelf-stacking job at TK Maxx, can you really blame them for deciding to have a baby and escape the rat race? After all, tax credits and child benefit do make a significant difference to a young person's financial situation. I've seen it first-hand. Maybe if the problem of youth disengagement were remedied on the employment and salary front, that'd be a more worthwhile goal, and could also be a way of addressing welfare dependency.

I'm not surprised Roger Gale MP has decided to say 'yes' to Dorries's proposals to teach girls to say 'no' to sex. But it strikes me as only being a symbolic bill designed to convince 'true blue' supporters that Tory MPs are at least trying to instil conservative sexual mores into our education system, as a corrective to the notion that Labour promoted promiscuity (which is arguable but, like I said, symbolic). There's nothing wrong with taking a moral stance on sexual practices amongst teenagers, of course, but this bill seems like a hollow gesture, because ultimately you can't control what people will or will not do with their bodies. I guess they don't call her 'Mad Nad' for nothing.

Friday, 27 May 2011


It is with great delight that I can announce I've been featured on Episode 86 of The Pod Delusion talking about Dr. Richard Scott, the Margate GP from Bethesda Medical Centre who has been rapped for talking about God with a patient. The Pod Delusion is a weekly news magazine podcast which often discusses politics, science, culture and philosophy. It's out now – so you can listen to it below or download it here.

I've been a keen listener of The Pod Delusion for quite some time, so it was a genuine honour to offer my take on Dr. Scott's story. I discussed how I understood why people would disapprove of his actions but that I defended his right to religious freedom, and felt it was unfair to bulldoze his reputation as a doctor merely in the name of promoting secularism. However, my view does seem to be at odds with fellow contributor Salim Fadhley, who interviewed Naomi Phillips at the British Humanist Association, and the podcast appears to make a couple of sarcastic quips which I interpret to be digs at my expense.

Even host James O'Malley introduced the story by saying ironically: “Personally I can't see anything wrong with people in a position of trust using a situation where their patients are in a state of emotional or physical frailty to push their religion on people. But apparently this is controversial.” If that doesn't automatically discredit my opinion before I've even started, I don't know what does. In any case, I do agree that Dr. Scott made a severe error in judgement in bringing his faith into the medical consultation room - it's just I obviously feel differently about the rebukable extent of Dr Scott's actions. 

Malley later said: “Do remember there is no room for nuance in this debate, you have to pick a side.” Hmm. I was under the impression that my interpretation of Dr. Scott's story was quite nuanced, exploring valid points on both sides of the argument, before concluding by advocating religious tolerance rather than being reactionary and potentially alienating people of faith. I also took issue with the fact that Salim Fadhley appeared to paint my piece as arguing there's an "evil secularist conspiracy to exclude religion from all aspects of public life" so I sent him an e-mail in which I wrote (paraphrasing):

My initial suspicion was that this story was an overreaction, caused mainly due to an aggrieved parent, and not the patient themselves, which should automatically ring alarm bells to anyone. My points about secularism are due to my anxieties about whether - though a virtuous cause (and like I said, I do support secularism, and the good work the British Humanist Association are doing) - there's a potential danger of it alienating people of faith if invoked heavy-handedly in a way which provokes religious outrage. Ideally, it shouldn't in my view, but judging by Dr Scott's appeal, that's exactly what it seems to have done.

I appeal to 'moderates' of any faith and I certainly don't believe there is a 'conspiracy' against them. But if secularism leads to paranoia to the point of giving credence to evangelists who make persistent holy crusades for 'religious freedom' in the courts thanks to the likes of the Christian Legal Centre, then I'm more tempted to take a less reactive conclusion to this story in the hope that I could find a middle ground which doesn't offend religious people's sensibilities too grossly, while at the same time honouring secular humanist goals. That may be a futile endeavour, on my part, but I'm afraid that's just my nature.

My goal is tolerance. Even Michael White, the Assistant Editor at The Guardian, wrote an article in which he appeared to echo my point exactly:

OK, religious conversation may not be what you want to hear from your GP – but it's not waterboarding, and the doc has been doing it for 28 years without any previous trouble.

The problem here seems to lie with the GMC. It's OK to complain – there are always people who take offence at very little provocation – and such complaints should be treated seriously even if they are obviously nonsense.

Was this one nonsense? We don't know. Perhaps it is Scott who is being the nuisance, seeking to make a martyr of himself and his faith. I suspect not, because there has been a steady stream of cases in which the wearing of crosses, and other acts of public Christian symbolism, have been ruled out of order by public officials and by firms.

It all strikes me as showing both a lack of common sense and of tolerance. If we let Sikhs wear turbans and some Muslim women wear face-covering veils – and I think we should – we should not get excited about a few crosses or a Kent GP's suggestion that the Bible may be more rewarding than a copy of Nuts magazine and a six-pack of Red Bull (if that's what he did say).

Michael White also spoke of "secular folk" and the notion of intolerance, saying:

“Well, you may say, Christians were sometimes pretty intolerant when they had the upper hand – squire and parson stuff in the local magistrates courts – and you'd be right. But should secular folk be intolerant now the condom is on the other foot? I'd say no.”

That's exactly where I'm coming from. If secularists appear intolerant, then I personally feel that undermines their cause, in much the same way as religious people undermine their cause by being intolerant too. If people become intolerant, in any walk of life, there's a risk of becoming illiberal or bigoted, which only gives those with reactionary opinions a high horse to ride upon, so I think we should cut Dr. Scott some slack in this instance. It's not like he 'prescribed prayer' instead of prescribing warfarin, is it?! Let's see if the listeners of The Pod Delusion enjoy deriding me as a crank!

Monday, 23 May 2011


Dr. Richard Scott, a local GP from Bethesda Medical Centre, has come under fire by the General Medical Council (GMC) for talking about God with a patient. The complaint against him was filed after he openly discussed his faith with the possible intention of sending the patient on an 'alpha course.' The patient's mother subsequently reported Dr. Scott on the grounds that he was "pushing religion" on her son and this has led the GMC to accuse Dr. Scott of "exploiting a vulnerable patient."

As a person who is not religious, I do feel this sounds like an unfair and unjust accusation, especially as all Dr. Scott appeared to be doing is offering to help somebody, albeit with evangelical motives. The NHS Choices website does also make it clear that Bethesda Medical Centre is home to GPs who are practising Christians and states that "the offer of talking to you on spiritual matters is of great benefit" but that "if you do not wish this, that is your right and will not affect your medical care." This sounds reasonable to me, but I suppose it depends how vehemently opposed to religion the patient happens to be, but this is a complex issue, depending on your viewpoint.

According to BBC News, Niall Dickson at the GMC says that doctors should not "impose their beliefs on patients, or cause distress by the inappropriate or insensitive expression of religious, political or other beliefs or views.” As a result, it sounds to me like Dr. Scott is caught up in a secularist agenda intended to discourage doctors from allowing religious views to influence their professional conduct. In my opinion, there are many benefits to secularism which certainly deserve wider public support, but sullying a man's reputation as a doctor and destroying his career is not one of them.

I've already seen an entry by Matt on Thanet Star about the Dr. Scott story, so I left a comment on his blog which I am going to cross-post here, as I feel it accurately illustrates the point I'd like to make:

Now, I absolutely defend Dr. Scott's right to religious freedom. But what's happened here appears to be part of a wider media narrative about the difficulty of squaring science and religion. Many secularists campaign for religion to be excluded from civil affairs and education. In their view, how should excluding religion from healthcare be considered any different? I'm definitely sensing a secularist agenda here in relation to Dr Scott's treatment.

The argument is that doctors are in the business of medicine. Medicine is a science. Science is an enterprise founded, in the main, upon rationalism. Some critics (à la Dawkins) consider religious beliefs to be irrationally held, founded only upon personal faith and not on scientific evidence. These are big talking points.

I'm guessing this persecution of Dr. Scott is due to people's anxieties about doctors in general. Can you be a man of science, as well as a man of faith? If religious views are irrational, does that impinge on the scientific rationalist nature of being a doctor? Do religious views have a negative impact upon a doctor's professionalism or medical practice, or do they enhance it?

Is prescribing religious 'complimentary therapy' tantamount to prescribing homoeopathic medicines which are scientifically unproven and positively placeboic? In the same way I'd agree that homeopathy is an affront to science and to medicine (and I'd be quick to admonish a doctor who prescribed homeopathic drugs) I'm also sceptical that this non-medicinal 'complimentary therapy' Dr Scott speaks of is any different. But that's just me.

In my view, if a doctor's treatment doesn't yield a measurable biological or physiological outcome for the patient's well-being or physical health, should it really be encouraged that doctors resort to prescribing such therapies (or medicines) in the future? I would be bewildered if I felt a doctor was fobbing me off with dummy treatment. Is being sent to an alpha course really any different?

However, if it's the patient's mother who filed the complaint, I am suspicious about the full story. Dr. Scott certainly doesn't deserve to lose his job over this, nor have his record tarnished. He obviously had good intentions. That's as plain as day, and it would be religious discrimination if his reputation suffered as a result of this.

But I do feel people need to feel free to discuss to what extent (if any) religious beliefs have upon the medical profession and whether we're OK with it, or whether we're not. Personally, I'm OK with it, even though I am an agnostic, but I can see why some people wouldn't be comfortable with it. Particularly secularists.

But what do you think? This is obviously a very interesting story, as it opens many doors for discussion depending on whether you see religion as a force for good, or a delusion which has a corrupting influence. My view is ambivalent, but on the whole, I am inclined to believe that Dr. Scott is a good man who has suffered an injustice here, so I wish him well should he come to face disciplinary proceedings. What are your opinions on the matter?

Sunday, 22 May 2011


Image from http://node2.bbcimg.co.uk/iplayer/images/clip/p00f15g4_640_360.jpg
Mic Righteous – an up-and-coming MC raised in Margate – rattled BBC execs after his freestyle rap on 1Xtra was censored because he dared to spit a rhyme about Palestine on a late night radio show. The offending lyric – "I can still scream 'Free Palestine' for my pride" – was masked with sound effects in what seems like a chilling attempt to stifle an artist's right to freedom of expression.

The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign has written a press release about it, calling the BBC's decision to edit Mic Righteous's rap "an extraordinary act of censorship." Sarah Colborne, Director of PSC, said:

"Ironically, the lyrics were “I can say Free Palestine”. Well, apparently, you can’t if you try to say them on the BBC. What kind of Orwellian world are BBC directors living in? How can the BBC possibly justify removing these words? This kind of censorship of artists should be strongly opposed by anybody who believes in a free society, and anybody who wants to uphold the centuries old tradition of making political comment through art."

This is what the BBC had to say in response:

"All BBC programmes have a responsibility to be impartial when dealing with controversial subjects and an edit was made to Mic Righteous' freestyle to ensure that impartiality was maintained."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't hip hop supposed to encourage listeners to engage with social issues and political concerns? The best MCs over the decades have been the ones who are socially conscious and don't shy away from rapping about politically sensitive ideas (such as KRS-One, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, etc.). Afrika Bambaataa, one of the founding fathers of hip hop in the early 1980s, said it best:

"Well, a lot of people within government and big business are nervous of Hip Hop and Hip Hop artists, because they speak their minds. They talk about what they see and what they feel and what they know. They reflect what's around them."

In this instance, this is exactly what Mic Righteous was doing. Within the wider context of his rap, he was trying to engage with the political issues facing the modern world. Clearly, that made the BBC nervous. Tell me, what is the point of the Beeb running a radio station specifically for urban, hip hop, R&B, drum 'n' bass, dancehall and garage if they're going to get the collywobbles whenever an MC voices a controversial opinion?

I'm aware that the BBC has its remit to consider on the subject of political impartiality, but this seems a bit OTT to me. Politically, whatever side of the fence you're on regarding the Israeli-Palestine debate, the Beeb shouldn't feel obligated to deny someone's right to an opinion and quash a potential debate on subjects they're not comfortable with. I guess Joe Strummer of The Clash was right: "You have the right to free speech as long as you're not dumb enough to actually try it."

Sunday, 15 May 2011


It's quite common for people to stereotype unemployed people as idle slobs who sit at home all day and do nothing but play Xbox 360. But imagine my surprise when I saw the following advert for Game 4 Gain in a local newspaper appealing for unemployed 18-24 year old gamers to get off their backsides and volunteer to... erm... sit on their backsides playing video games as part of a ludicrous 'employability skills' programme:

It even uses the strapline 'it pays to play.' I find it hard to believe that it's finally come to this. Has unemployment really become so difficult to tackle in Thanet that the only way training providers can reach young people with no qualifications is to offer them phony courses which delude them into thinking that playing video games is a valuable skill to have in the workplace? I've gotta be honest, I'm not convinced.

I may be trenchant, but I can't see for the life of me how going on online multiplayer and shooting foreigners on Call of Duty: Black Ops teaches people about 'communication skills' and 'teamwork'. In my opinion, 'leadership ability' is not defined by possessing skills which involve immersing yourself in a 3D fantasy world staring gormlessly at a TV screen and thumping a joystick. This is not Ender's Game, people.

I honestly fail to see how this course can benefit people who have never had a job in their entire lives. Or people whose existence has only ever revolved around buying second-hand games from Gamestation with their JSA money since the day they flunked their GCSEs. These sort of people do exist. Trust me, I know. I've known unemployed people whose gaming habits have eaten up a great chunk of their lives, so it seems counterproductive to pretend it can improve your job prospects.

Game 4 Gain may very well be different. The kind of FPS and RTS games they offer may indeed offer a different experience to Halo or Black Ops, but I'm afraid I'm not convinced that being able to 'bring your A-game' is going to spruce up your C.V. well enough to get a decent job. To pretend otherwise is just plain daft. If I was an employer, it'd take a lot more than a high score on Wii Tennis to win me over. There has to be a better way to instil confidence and teach employability skills to 18-24 year olds without feeding their heads with the fallacy that video gaming will bag them a job. Because it won't.

Then again, maybe I'm wrong. If you're unemployed and you like video games, what have you got to lose? Especially if you're one of those unfortunate PS3 junkies who have been suffering withdrawal symptoms since the PlayStation Network went down last month. Why not enrol on this course and let me know what you make of it? The course might be more worthwhile than I give it credit for. I personally just thought it sounded silly and – to put it bluntly – a little bit desperate. What do you think?

Saturday, 14 May 2011


In the wake of the news that we now have a hung council after no party won a winning majority in last week's local election results, Roger Gale MP says the following in the Thanet Extra:

“Thanet's Tories do not have an overall majority but were the figures to be reflected in a national election the Queen would be asking Cllr Bayford to form an administration.”

What a frightening thought. Bob Bayford as our Prime Minister? Can you imagine what that would look like?

© Copyright Captain Snaps, modified in accordance with this license

... Yikes!

Thursday, 12 May 2011


Photograph: Channel 4. Image from http://bit.ly/QHI75.

Former Big Brother contestant 'Nasty' Nick Bateman officially completed his move to Thanet last weekend. The reality TV star who wrote the book How to Be a Right Bastard revealed he was moving to 'Planet Thanet' on his Twitter account earlier this month, telling his followers that he was "moving house shortly and packing boxes for move to Thanet, only 9 miles away."

Eagle-eyed local news hounds will not be surprised by this news, as Nick Bateman was interviewed in the Thanet Gazette last month telling journalist Paul McMullan that he was considering buying The Constitutional Club in Cecil Square and opening it up as a new private members' club in Margate, modelling it after the upmarket Soho House private members' club in London.

"The future for Margate is bright and I plan to invest in that future," Nick said, who is currently a travel and property blogger for the KM Group, adding that he anticipated that many authors and artists will be attracted to Thanet during the next decade, thanks largely to the opening of the Turner Contemporary. Clearly, since Nick has now moved here, it's shown he's willing to put his money where his mouth is, so Thanet's prospects do seem to be on the up among the media hoi polloi.

I personally think it's great that media personalities like 'Nasty' Nick are finally seeing the potential in our area, so I welcome the fact that we have a (sort of) celebrity in our midst. I've also noticed that Nick's actually following me on Twitter, so the man clearly has impeccable taste in online reading habits! Anyway - welcome to Thanet, Nick! All you need now is a 'status dog' and I'm sure you'll be right at home!