Friday, 24 August 2012

Trouble in Margate Town Team

Robin Vaughan-Lyons and Rox Tesla have resigned as Chair and Vice-Chair of Margate Town Team. This comes after secretary Louise Oldfield’s resignation last week who left stating: “I have been subjected to public bullying by individuals that are seeking to further their own personal interests rather than the aims of the bid.”

As a result, Margate Town Team now has no executive officers at the helm – all of whom were originally crucial in winning the Portas Pilot bid for £100,000 to regenerate Margate’s High Street. Sadly, Robin’s statement of resignation casts a murky spotlight on the whole affair. In a post on Facebook, it was written:

"My resignation from margate town team is not in the Gazzette but here it is for what its worth.
Im sorry Margate. I too will continue to do what I can. I still love Margate
As we are all aware this week has been extremely traumatic.
I joined with you all to put in this bid, full of energy and enthusiasm, hoping we would win and looking forward to us actually making a difference in our town.
My job has literally been 24 hours a day. My life has revolved around it since we won. I have worked very hard to promote Margate and TDC.
I cannot continue to work in a situation where people are going away to hold secret meetings and publicly running down other town team members in front of TV cameras.
I have been blackmailed, bullied and torn to shreds by team members. I do not deserve this.
I am offering my resignation to Madeline Homer tonight.
Robin Vaughan-Lyons"

This mass exodus of key Margate Town Team figureheads should remind us how cliques can be a dangerous thing. Dan Thompson’s blog highlights what might be the real bone of contention here: “Mary Portas has continued to film in the town,” writes Dan, “but has never offered the community-backed town team a role in her TV programme. Her filming has caused friction, with the town team’s winning bid focused on Margate high street, while Portas concentrated on the already regenerated Old Town quarter.”

The claim that people are ‘running down other town team members in front of TV cameras’ suggests the efforts of Robin, Rox and Louise to rejuvenate the High Street have been undermined by the participants of Mary Portas’s TV show and has led to an ugly case of small-town political backbiting. Having found myself at the mercy of cliques in the past, Robin, Rox and Louise all have my sympathy. It’s just a real shame that everybody couldn’t work together for Margate’s benefit rather than allow some turn it into a demeaning exercise in skulduggery.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Keane as Mustard

The Winter Gardens will be welcoming Keane to Margate on December 3 as part of their upcoming UK tour. Tickets are £29.50 and go on sale from 9am tomorrow (10 Aug) so please make sure you head on over to to snap 'em up! 

The news that Keane will be gracing the main stage at Margate Winter Gardens is a testament to how Thanet Leisureforce are competently pulling in big names to our little seaside town. Enticing bands of Keane's stature to our local music venue is a sure-fire way of establishing Margate as a cultural destination in its own right, so I'm very pleased with this recent spate of bookings, especially coming hot on the heels of Blur's superb gig at the Winter Gardens last week. 

In the past, it might have been easy to see Thanet as a far-flung corner of Kent which gets neglected by music promoters. Often, top bands such as Editors, The Zutons and The Wombats have chosen to play in Folkestone Leas Cliff Hall instead; and that's if we're lucky. Most rarely even venture past Medway. For that reason, it's refreshing to see big name acts like Keane, Blur and even McFly choosing to play in Margate, so I hope this flush of goodwill towards the Winter Gardens will continue. I'm taking this as a sign that our star is on the rise! 

Hopefully see you there! If you wish to buy tickets, please you visit from 9am tomorrow (10 Aug).

Monday, 6 August 2012

It Really, Really, Really Did Happen

Britpop legends Blur played at the Margate Winter Gardens last week, whipping the crowd up into a frenzy of rowdy nostalgia and singalong choruses. In the first of three warm-up shows in preparation for their headline slot at the Olympics closing ceremony in Hyde Park, it’s even caught the eye of the NME magazine who rightly called it a ‘triumphant live comeback.’

It felt quite surreal standing in the crowd watching Blur run through all their greatest hits such as “Country House,” “Beetlebum,” and “Parklife” – in fact, I almost had to pinch myself that it was actually happening in Margate (of all places!), but yes… it really, really, really did happen!

Earlier in the day, I’d heard the news that Blur arrived in Margate by train and stopped off at Peter's Fish Factory for a bite to eat, signing autographs and shaking hands with fans. You can even see some photos of Albarn posing outside Margate Police Station on the Isle of Thanet Gazette website, although I am confused how one fan just so happened to be carrying a vinyl copy of their 1997 album Blur. A remarkable coincidence, don't you agree?!

During the gig, I bumped into Paul Palmer, Entertainments and Facilities Manager at the Margate Winter Gardens, and had a quick chat with him. He told me that, true to all the speculation, the members of Blur – Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree – turned up spontaneously in the afternoon and greeted the main hall by saying: “Wow!” 

And who could blame them? The Winter Gardens really is a magnificent and historic place. You know you’re living somewhere special when you have a venue on your doorstep where The Beatles once played, that’s my theory. The fact that Blur’s management saw fit to choose Margate to play host to such an intimate show is a real privilege and I’d like to hope that it will lead to more big name acts pencilling in a date at the Winter Gardens in the not-too-distant future. Let’s hope so!

There did appear to be a few teething troubles with Blur guitarist Graham Coxon’s amp at some point towards the end of “Trimm Trabb,” leading him to frustratedly toss his guitar on the floor and hurl his drink across the stage. However, after a quick crowd-pleasing hug between Graham and Damon – an amazing moment considering there used to be animosity between the two – such technical difficulties were soon ironed out.

All in all, the gig was a truly memorable occasion to bear witness to. There were anthems galore and it was truly magical to behold. I sincerely hope they televise the Hyde Park Olympic closing ceremony gig, because I’d love it if the rest of the UK could experience what I had the good fortune to see. Oh, which reminds me, as I was leaving, I saw this:

By all accounts, this picture (see above) is apparently Damon Albarn’s harmonium. I was exiting the rear of the Winter Gardens building and I saw a bloke loading up a van with musical equipment. Immediately, my mind went into overdrive. 

“Is that Damon Albarn’s?” I asked. 

The bloke was reluctant to confirm it, but his silence spoke volumes. 

“It’s a harmonium,” he replied. “He bought it today.” 

“What, bought it from Margate?” I said. “Excellent, this is going on my blog.” 

So here it is. If you spot Albarn on the festival circuit next year and he’s playing this same harmonium, you could very well be looking at something he originally bought in Margate. Now that’s a claim to fame, isn’t it?!

First image © Copyright Lindsey Scott (@zinzi_amp) via Instagram. Many thanks to her for allowing me permission to use it.