Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas....

Merry Christmas, Ho, Ho, Ho and all that to all Tonbridge bloggers. Have a good 'un....

Sunday, December 7, 2008

In case of TBlog being down.....

Use this as an alternative or buy a newspaper and wait for a week until TonbridgeBlog is back up or you could maybe take a walk, go for a week's holiday or perhaps talk to your husband, boyfriend, wife or girlfriend instead of sitting clicking away on a sodding computer all day and all evening long!...

Friday, October 31, 2008

So long Courier....

Welcome everyone to Alternative Tonbridge blog. It seems that my mentioning T blog in my Courier coloumn this week has caused the site to temporarily crash due to it having "exceeded its bandwidth" whatever that means. Actually I've come to the conclusion that it means the site administrators (123-reg) get more money if they send that message up every so often. I've already topped up the meter this month so they're not having any more! Why have I stopped writing my column in the Courier? Quite simply they were taking the Micky Bliss; they sent out a general letter to all us community correspondents saying that they are no longer going to pay us but that they wanted us to carry on writing the column anyway in the form of a blog and then they would choose the best bits for the weekly bit in the paper. Well guess what Courier? I'm already blogging and I beat you to it by two and a half years. In any case yours will probably be highly censored and not really reflective of the views of the good people of the town. Oh and they also wanted us to sell advertising to local businesses on their behalf to go along side the blog and we could keep the revenue from that. I'm afraid that I'm not the only one who has been outraged by this suggestion. If you look carefully at the end of the community columns this week you'll see that many of the long standing columnists have mysteriously decided that now is the time to jack it in. They include Philip Codd of Bidborough and Geoff Watts, Hildenbourough, both of whom have been putting their columns together tirelessly and faithfully for the last 13 or 14 years. I'm a mere novice with only 4 years under my belt! It beggars belief that they think that just because as they said in their letter to us that "...in responding to our recent survey, many of you told us that money was not your motivation for becoming a community correspondent...." Of cause it wasn't YOU WERE PAYING US TEN QUID A WEEK, what the hell did you expect the response to that question to be. But that doesn't mean that we'd be happier with nothing does it! The money isn't that important to me, but I suspect that for a few of them the £500 a year might pay for Christmas or even the family holiday. So I've decided not to write it anymore on principle. By the way what about the people, like me, who didn't fill out a questionaire and what about those people, like Mr Codd of Bidborough, who I happen to know (cos he told me) said that money WAS the most important reason. I suspect that they'll be very few local columns in next week's newspaper, let's wait and see. As the man at the end of each failed Dragons Den pitch might say "Good luck with that Courier!"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pop ups at the West Kent Book Fair in Tonbridge last weekend...

Thanks Clive Sayer for letting us all see these amazing pop up books....


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

PORC clips....

Here's a selection of video clicks from my day at PORC, that's Penshurst Off Road Cycling, some amazing stunts:
First this...

Then this...

And this...

These were just the ones I managed to capture on my camera phone. Go there if you want to see some quite incredible stuff....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Poetry, Poetry and more poetry please....

Don't forget that it's National Poetry Day on Thursday October 9th, which unfortunately does not this year coincide neatly with Poetry at the Pub, as it did last year, which is a shame, which takes place on on Thursday October 2nd at the Ivy House pub at the corner of Bordyke and the High Street in Tonbridge, where, I'm told the mentalist landlord is going on hunger strike in protest of the death of the pub trade because of greedy property owners who know nothing about running a boozer; and if you've really not had enough Tonbridge's West Kent Book Fair will take place at Tonbridge School on Sunday October 26th all day and will include Traditional Storytellers and Poetry at the Fair, another open mic session but this time in the amazingly accoustics of Old Big School Hall, which (pause for breath) is at the tail end of Tonbridge Arts week, which this year goes on for a whole month. Now that was a long sentence, which is why poetry is so much better than prose!...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The week so far....

For those of you looking at Alternative Tonbridge blog for the first time a very warm welcome. If you haven't worked out how to click on the right link then you probably won't be reading this anyway. A summary of the week's blogs so far: Tonbridge Juddians Rugby club beat Folkstone by a whapping 124 points to nil; that's a hell of a lot of tries, conversions and penalties. You have to feel sorry for the opposition (not) being on the end of all that pent up anger and frustration the TJ's must have had after such a crap season. It shows how much work has been done in the close season behind the scenes. Susan Adams has thrown in the trowel (geddit) with the annual Tonbridge garden and home show, she has informed the stall holders that she's 'ad it up to 'ere with the spiralling costs and all the red tape. It looks like Tonbridge is about to loose it's "purely local" KMFM radio studio; we may still get the radio shows but will they be the same without Myma, Ness and co. moaning about the traffic down Tonbridge High Street and those inane Just MOT ads for Morley Road Tonbridge?! Oh and apparently there were three people eaten by a tiger because of climate change and we thought that the parking attendants were our biggest problem(oh, that's right, actually that was in Bangladesh) More later....

Friday, September 5, 2008

I have seen the future....

I have seen the future and it is murder! So goes the the Leonard Cohen song and if you've ever been to Future World near the Lizard in Cornwall you'll know what he meant. He's a vision of what it could be like if we let robots take over the planet. Before you know it they'll be doing Gene Kelly and Bob Deniro impressions....

Dog diving....

On my recent holiday in Cornwall I managed to capture this quite amazing new sport of dog diving. This incredible Labrador, called Barney, was diving off the harbour wall at Mullion Cove into the fairly choppy sea. What dogs will do for a rubber ball eh....

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Whats on?...

What's on in Tonbridge? Well quite a few things actually. There's Heritage weekend on the 13th and 14th of this month, Tonbridge Castle, Somerhill, the Parish Church and other local buildings will be opening their doors free of charge as part of this. So if you ever fancied going to the top of the Castle and having that superb panoramic view across the town and the surrounding countryside, but where too tight to fork out for the gatehouse tour then now's your chance. The same weekend there's Art on the Railings, hosted by the so-called Platonic Artists Sue Vass and Wendy Asprey, which brings a flavour (ok a pinch) of the Rive Gauch to our fair town. Go down to the river, beneath the Castle and you'll be able to view (perchance to buy) some really quite stunning artwork mostly by artists who actually make a living from it. No disrespect to Tonbridge Art Group and the like, but your stuff is relatively crap and their's is pretty good and thought provoking. Not forgetting Poetry at the Ivy which is this Thursday at the Ivy (funnily enough) 8pm in the main bar. Read out a couple of poems, chill out with a few beers, or wines, have a chat with some fellow poetry fans. You'll everything from hip hop and spoken word, Scrubious Pip-type material to Shakepeare and Shelley. Come along and grab yourself some culture before the new Autumn TV schedule sucks you in to a life of couch potatoery....

Butterflies....

The kids are mostly back at school now, give or take the odd private school whose holidays seem to go on forever, and I still get that nervous feeling myself. I felt nervous for my children last night and I had butterflies this morning as well. It was almost as if I were the one who would be meeting my new teacher, as if I'd be starting my GCSE subjects and be on the long winding road to A levels, perhaps university and a postgrad course; not to mention having to choose a career and meeting a girl/boy of your dreams, marriage, children of their own and all those responsibilities. But then again, the wild parties, the lifelong friends still to meet, the rock concerts, the girlfriends/boyfriends along the way, Olympics 2012? (who knows) the gap year travel, that first job in London, learning to drive, their first flat and home, ah independence....

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Yellow Peril beats Brown Bomber by a whisker....

This is one of the best summer fete activities I've ever seen. It was 50p a bet and drew a large crowd of eager people keen to bet on the "horses" at the St. Minver church fete, which I stumbled across during a recent holiday in Cornwall. I've never seen it before so it could be a one off; they should market it as a national game....

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Why can't skateboarding be an Olympic sport?...

They've done it again! Those idiots at 123-reg, who are the administrators for Tonbridge blog, have taken the site down again. How it can exceed it's bandwidth when I've only been around for about three days of the month is anyone's guess! So over to alternative Tonbridge blog once again, unless I put more coins in the meter. I don't know I come back from holidays in Cornwall all refreshed and bursting with blogs which need to be written to get them all off my chest and I'm frustrated once more. Here's one for you; if Tonbridge were hosting the Olympics what would we put into our eight minute slot at this year's closing ceremony? How about Kelly Holmes singing with Keane with the 2012 GB skateboarding team doing trick jumps outside a makeshift Sainsbury's! Any other thoughts?...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Can't stop us laughing....

Apparently 300 dogs have escaped from Battersea Dogs home after thieves broke into the charity's offices. At present the police have no strong leads!!! They can't stop us laughing, it's the only thing we've got left....

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Welcome to Alternative Tonbridge blog....

If you've just discovered that there is an alternative Tonbridge blog then a big warm welcome. It is in fact Tonbridge blog with a slight difference. The occasional new posting which you won't find on the other Tblog, the odd different camera angle here and there. Its main purpose at the moment though is to be the only Tonbridge blog until those greedy sods at 123 reg put the other site back up. (Which will be on August 1st) I keep putting shillings in the meter but it just keeps on running out. So I've deceided to just blog here instead. In the long run the whole site might be redirected here because firstly it's free and, more importantly, it's free!!..

Enemy at the gates?...


Is this an invasion by the infidel; are the French attacking Tonbridge? Have we gone back in time? Are the enemy at the gates? No it's just the rather unusual sight of a climbing wall at the bottom of Tonbridge Castle (in fact on the High Street. Actually it's a publicity stunt for Carroty Wood and the Barnabas charity, but a really good one. If it wasn't for me gammy leg I'd have had a go meself!....

Friday, July 25, 2008

Murder and Black Witch Moths....

Come to think of it I watched a film called "Unfaithful" again last night, with Richard Gere and a lovely female actress who's name escapes me. Anyway by chance she meets a good looking and slightly weird bookseller, which ends up in a passionate and slightly violent affair. She is wracked with guilt but has fallen for him utterly, husband gets suspicious and hires a PI who gets photographic evidence of the affair. The husband secretly goes to see the bookseller, to warn him off but this turns into a murderous meeting when the jealous husband (Gere) spots a collectable snow ball, which is also very heavy, which he has given to his wife and now the wife has clearly given it to the bookseller as a love token. Result: sudden loss of control on the part of Gere's character and a whack over the head with the thick glass snowball, which almost instantaneously kills the bookseller. Then a cover up and later guilt and all the rest of it. The snow ball having been returned to the family home gives the game away. So let's recap: a bookseller gets murdered, then a black witch moth flies into my shop this morning; and I didn't even get to have the affair! Surely just my imagination running away with me!....

Black Witch Moth in Tonbridge?!..

I swear to you a bloody great big black moth floated past me and into my shop today as I was opening up. It had to be at least four inches across its wing span. Brief research leads me to think that it may be a Black Witch Moth which is often mistaken for a small bat, which was my first reaction. If it is then there is all sorts of mythology attached to this insect ranging from a bringer of death, to a loved one departed coming to say goodbye, through to a bringer of wealth. If I've got a choice I'll take the latter please! The thing is these particular winged creatures are native to Mexico and occasionally Texas, so what the hell is it doing in my shop in Tonbridge?! Anyway I hope to bring you some piccies later if I can spot the little blighter. It's here somewhere still, lurking behind an old tome, perhaps it's looking for its friends in Britiash Butterflies and Moths! The good news is that they are completely harmless to humans.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bank job update....

See earlier post for Tonbridge blog's first on the spot report! It just shows you how wrong you can be and how we mustn't jump to conclusions. After holding the two men in the red BMW for at least twenty minutes, and in hand cuffs, I've just seen the Police shaking hands with the two lads and sending them on their merry way; so I guess it must have been a letting off then....

Bank St. Job....


Blimey another incident right under Tonbridge blog's nose; this really is too much excitement for a sleepy market town to bear! It was a fairly average, even slightly dull Tuesday until just a few minutes ago. This time a High Speed chase, albeit a short one, followed by a search, handcuffing and probable arrest of at least two men who were in the red car. You should be able to just about make them out in the photo. Lights blaring, siren whirring, five or six coppers in flack jackets. I don't mind telling you that I felt the adrenaline flowing and a strange urge to go in and help out. So imagine the excitement that the police must have felt. Is this Tonbridge or down town Miami?!

Another murder in Tonbridge??..


It seems that there could have been another major incident in Tonbridge, possibly even another murder; and down Church Lane of all places. If it weren't so serious it would remind one of an episode of Miss Marple or Inspector Morse. There were Police cars strung across the pavement, there were ambulances, white vans, detectives with clipboards surveying the crime scene, men and women in those white suits with hoods on that you see in Waking the Dead. But this was no TV programme this had happened right on our doorsteps in the centre of the old part on Tonbridge. The scene would appear to be the flats above the boarded up old shop on the corner of the lane leading to the Church and the High Street. Tonbridge blog will update you if any hard news surfaces. Has anyone else heard anything?...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Stranglers eat your heart out....

Even when I'm happy people often say to me "Cheer up mate!" So I must appear to many as a miserable bugger. I'm not altogether sure that that's a fair assessment of my general mood but I do know that I can often be amused by the simplist and obscurist of things sometimes. Like earlier this week when I atttended the Slade School music evening and listened to all sorts of singers, choirs, recorder groups, piano scale players, flutists, even a clarionettist and some guitar players. There was a lot to take in and it was a warm afternoon, so you'll forgive me if I didn't give it my full attention for the whole two hours worth. I was however awoken from my semi comatosed state when one of the young guitar players began strumming some very recognisable notes. Dum da da, da da da dum da... yes it was the distinctive opening bars of the Strangler's well known 1970s hit "Walking on the Beaches (Looking at the Peaches)" I'm not sure how appropriate it was coming from a ten year old lad but it certainly made me chuckle....

Choosing the right Tonbridge school....

We are a high achieving academic school. We prepare our students to achieve at least 2 A grades at GCSE; we want our children to enjoy life outside of the school curiculum whilst still achieving high grades. We are a highly sought after specialist performance arts school. We have a high level of pastoral care. Tonbridge blog has been visiting some of the local schools trying to select which one(s) are suitable for one of my kids. I have my strong views on the selection procedure etc. but, for a change, have decided to tread a little carefully on this subject (for now) So come on then, what do you all think? Is it right to have grammar schools at all? Should those grammar schools be able to be super selective from a very wide area, including out of county, or should they serve the local community first and foremost? Should boys and girls as young as 11 be encouraged to travel up to one and a half hours a day each way? Could their time be used better than this? Do schools really specialise in the subjects they say they do or is it just a way of seeking more grants? That's a lot of questions for a wet Wednesday morning so let's hear a few views; have your say....

Be careful out there....

Be careful out there on the information super highway! That's the message to all you fellow bloggers, Beboers, YouTubers and especially, it seems, Facebookers. You never know who's tuning in. You'd have thought that young Crystal Palace contender, Ashley-Paul Robinson would have realised that by telling his facebook friends list that he may be moving to London rivals Fulham he was also telling the whole football world. But apparently he didn't. I mean it would be a bit like me mentioning online to a few people who I know read Tonbridge blog that I was hoping to complete a buy out of John Adams bookshop shortly and then being annoyed that I'd let the information slip. It wouldn't be true but it would be a bit like it....

Tonbridge Tunnels?...

Has fresh evidence of the existence of the network of tunnels emanating from Tonbridge Castle finally been unearthed? Tonbridge blog likes to believe that there's no smoke without fire and that these tunnels do exist; laying dormant, waiting for hidden treasures to be revealed one day perhaps, as foretold in the wonderful book "Tonbridge Legends." The reason for my sudden exitement? They are digging up the road at the junction of Castle St and Bank St due to a supposed collapse of a sewer. A likely story! Sounds like a cover up job to me. I shall be keeping a close eye as events unfold in this latest twist in the mystery of subterranean Tonbridge. In the meantime, if you are driving, then avoid the area if you can as there'll be a one way system in place down Castle Street and you won't be able to access Bank Street for about two weeks; this is bound to cause near chaos up and down the High Street also. Oh what joy! It might be a good time to dust off that push bike....

Libr8 yrself wiv a text....

Thrs a gr8 rticle on the Grdn www abt how th written word is bin ruined by texting. Actually it is saying the opp. that in fact it's a gr* eg of how the english lang is evolving. In fact, as the article points out this is nothing new. IOU was in use, for instance in the 1600s. I can well remember the Glam Rockers, Slade, with their "Gudbuy T Jane" and others trendily mispelt, in the 1970s, well before the age of the mobile phone. So I think I might set a challenge for you all. Come up with an short poem using texty type language; it concentrates the mind, have a go and I'll post the best few. As I said in the last posting: poetry can b v libr8in....

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Incident at Tonbridge Castle toilets yesterday?...

Does anyone know what happened around the Castle carpark yesterday morning? I've heard a rumour that a paedophile, who had been watching people in the nearby public lavs, may have been arrested. There were at least two Police cars and an ambulance on the scene and ty wenet away with sirens and lights ablazing....

Poetry can be liberating just like blogging....

And so Poetry at the Ivy came and went. There will be no August poetry night so it was nice to see a really good turn out and some more new faces. There must have been 25 people there; the trouble for me is that I never know whether they'll be 3 people of 33. I sort of compere the evening and fill in with some of my favourite poems (and, unluckilily for some, a few of my own!) when there are long pauses. As the drinks flow most people tend to loosen up and let rip sometimes with frivolous material, as it's easier to hide behind the cloak of comedy, but just occasionally with some deeply personal stuff. The first time I read one of this type of poem out was at the Sevenoaks Arts Festival about four years ago and I don't mind telling you I had to fight back the tears; I learnt an important lesson that day; some poems are for yourself and close friends, others are to be performed and shared. A similar thing happened at Thursday night's event when a youngish woman, who was there with her group of friends performed one of her's; it was moving, meloncholy and a rather erotic and dark poem but boy what a moment in the evening. She was clearly moved herself, as were most of her audience; she commented later that she felt really good and liberated to, as it were share her thoughts publicly. Actually, thinking about it it's not so very different a feeling from blogging, except there's no hiding if you blub half way through reading something out in front of a group of strangers. It takes guts sometimes but most people think it's worth it just to reach one or two people....

Thursday, July 3, 2008

This is not just a cock up....

Tonbridge is crying out for an M&S in the town! Or at least that's what I always used to think; that a Marks and Spencers would symbolise that Tonbridge was a quality High Street and not one to be avoided by big name retailers. Now it seems that the store chain is in deep trouble and I'm not altogether surprised. They have just thrown away a million pounds by hiring and then firing (less than a year later) Steven Essom, formerly of Waitrose who got, get this, a "Golden Hello" of £500,000 and now, no doubt, has got a similarly ridiculous Golden Parachute! I wonder what the news of that has done for staff morale among the £6.50 an hour floor sales assistants. This is not just a cock up, this is an M&S cock up. When I worked in advertising for the Daily Mirrror a few years back we held discussions with the group in more rosy economic times, regarding them advertising in the Mirror, which we liked to call the "quality popular newspaper" M&S were embarking on their now famous campaign: This is not just cream, this M&S thick double cream from only the finest rare breed Highland cattle in the outer Hebredes! Okay they didn't go quite that far but almost. Do you know what they actually bought it and placed several expensive colur pages across Mirror Group's titles. The problem wth M&S is that they just don't listen to market forces until it's too late. They used to lose bucket loads of customers, me included, for only taking M&S store cards and no other credit cards. They lost even more business, and still do to an extent, by pig-headedly refusing to stock lines other than their own label. They have relented a little more recently, but it's still too little too late. They have an old fashioned, middle market, middle of the road image which an awful lot of people have now switched off from. They don't know where they are going and it shows. If they ever do open a Tonbridge M&S, that is if John "I'm proud to stock Golliwogs" Bartram doesn't stand in their way I'll be queuing up for the job of Head of Strategy and my suitable Golden Hello, it would take me half an hour to tell them what they've pissed a million quid away to find out....

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What a shower!...

Speaking of councils, Tonbridge blog loved the piece in the local rag over the weekend about the new name the council have dreamed up for Brain storming: "Thought showers" At first glance it seems like a fairly light hearted story and fairly slow news day stuff, but when you think about it it does typify the kind of time wasting that these very well paid people indulge in. If you didn't catch the story the gist is that certain do-goders in the council thought that "brain storm" might be offensive to people suffering from epilepsy! It seems that the people suffering from epilepsy hadn't even considered the matter as you can imagine (they probably have too many real problems on their plate.) The irony is that they probably had to have a "brain storm" to come up with the new name before they'd thought showered it! That said at least Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council are off the hook as it was Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's idea/brain storm/shower. It would be interesting to know when brain storm was invented and whether there was similar ridicule then. In my experience these ideas sessions are a complete waste of time anyway and just an excuse to procrastinate, but then that's just me. I'm just off to make a coffee and buy a few nice biscuits in wrappers to put on a plate, so I can have a storm/ ideas session/ thought shower/ thinking out of the box type meeting with myself to decide whether I should do any real work today or just keep blogging, or think of an entirely new direction for the business which I hadn't even considered; Hey you know what, there might be something in this blue sky thinking after all; careful though I don't want to offend people who like grey skies....

My way, or The Highways'?...

Tonbridge blog has reported the absence of adequate street lighting at the North end of town on a few occasions. The root of the problem seems to be that "the council" doesn't seem to know its arse from its elbow have worked out whose responsibility the lamps are; given that they are in the a conservation area (which is under review) in which case they might be Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council's responsibilty or whether they are just treated as part of "the Highways" in which case they are Kent Highway's (Kent County Council's) responsibility. Either way we still don't have any ruddy lights. Silverman's the jewellers have had two lights out on the Bank Street/High Street corner, right outside their shop for almost a whole year now. It really is pathetic and could make the area a haven for crime if they are not careful and don't sort out their act. How many council workers does it take to change a light bulb anyway? About 8,000 it seems, and they still haven't managed it! I've personally seen a letter from Steve Humphries, the Chief Exec of TMBC, who probably gets paid more than the Prime Minister and half the Cabinet combined, to Mrs Silverman in which he says the matter is in hand and being dealt with, and that he cannot understand why Kent Highways can't provide the right bulbs immediately; that was around two months ago and still nothing. I've also seen a reply from (don't forget the Sir) John Stanley, also nearly two months ago, who also says that he's looking into the matter and waiting for replies from the right people concerned, still nothing done, rien, nada, null. I know the council(s) are slow at the best of times, but really, these are light bulbs for Pete's sake!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Good Old Bill....

I'm sitting here at my old fashioned-style desk in a back street in the old town centre of Tonbridge, listening to Paul Weller's new album (22 Dreams is excellent by the way) having just stopped Victoria Derbyshire from rattling on on Radio 5 Live at the click of a mouse; I've logged onto the admin site for Tonbridge blog and I'm just about to check on a book website whether or not I've got any sales coming in today which could turn around an otherwise slow day in my bookshop, once I've posted this blog that is. I've checked my emails three or four times this morning, I've read bits of the Guardian online and dipped into the Telegraph's electronic version. No interesting Tonbridge books on ebay today or any new listings for the first edition booker prize winners which I'm collecting. What's all this got to do with anything? you may well be thinking. Well even ten years ago I wouldn't have dreamt that any of this would be possible. Ten years ago I think I'd just discovered this new thing called the internet, which everyone was starting to rave about. In the office where I worked at the time otherwise sane people were behaving like boys with new toys, pinging emails around to each other with all kinds of unsavoury video clips attached. It really is incredible how far we've all come in such a short space of time (ok not all for the better.) All of this has been made possible and accessable by one man; or at the very least he paved the way for this brave new world, Bill Gates, who retires from active service for Microsoft today. This is a company he set up, I believe in his garage, after dropping out of college. His is an amazing story and I well remember that most people thought he was some kind of geeky crank when he announced to the world that his intention was to see a PC in every home, and that it was realistic and achieveable in out lifetimes. What a lunatic! I don't know about you but we have a PC, two lap tops, a palm top, to i-pod Touches, Sony Playstation, three Nintendo DS's and they are just the ones I can think of. We must have exceeded even Bill Gates' wildest expectations. Good on yer Bill (I think) and I hope you do manage to put all of those $billions to good use in your new philanthropic projects; and if there is a scheme to help out the ailing book world to bring people back to the printed word then so much the better, you probably owe us mate!...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Grumpy old T blog....


Tonbridge blog has been a little caustic this week I have to admit. Upsetting the Traffic Wardens, sorry: Civil Enforcement Officers, and before that the Police. I'd just like to point out at this point that this was never meant to be a "Grumpy Old Man" site as one person has recenty insinuated, but equally it isn't meant to be a smaltzy site either. If you want that sort of thing go and log on to Three Beautiful Things, another local blog. There's a link on the right hand column. It's just that if you only mention the nice things, and I do quite a lot actually, most people don't see the point of it and start turning off. Why do you think newspapers are full of bad news! If I've caused anyone offence, then if you didn't deserve it then I humbly apologise, and if you did (and you know who you are!) then tough....

Civil Enforcement Officers 1: Tourists none....


Oh isn't it nice to see a lively Tonbridge High Street. Maybe it's a tourist just arrived into our lovely town; just gone to check in at the Rose and Crown and ask where the car park is before going in for a nice refreshing cold drink and maybe a shower before having a look around the Castle and wandering along the river on a lovely June day. What a lovely sight. But, but what's that? Look a little closer. Oh no, bad luck tourist you've just been done by one of Tonbridge council's welcome staff, otherwise know as a Civil Enforcement Officer (That's the new word for Parking Attendant, which was the new word for Traffic Warden.) Still, she's only doing her job. Her job of driving away all the trade from an already ailing town centre....

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Olympic Games 2016?...


I had the pleasure of watching the Tonbridge primary schools district athletics championships yesterday evening. It really was uplifting and wonderful to see so many children shouting and encouraging their team to to do well. What ever the so-called Nanny State does to stiffle the competitive instinct in our school children, these sort of events just show that they just can't. It's in-built and part of life, children will learn about success and failure early in life. Yes the few girls who fell over, will probably have cried for half an hour afterwards because they felt like they'd let their school's team down, but you know what they'll get over it and learn from it. Anyway surely it's better to try and fail than not to try at all. Even better to win though! There were almost certainly one or two boys and girls with real prospects, you can just sense the ones who are the true naturals. Maybe one of them will end up competing in the Olympic Games in 2016, wherever that will be held. Let's hope so. Now did I ever mention my having ran in the 110m hurdles at the English Schools Championships in 1979? No? That's probably cos I don't lke to brag about it!...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Tonbridge Police Station "Opening Hours" 8am to 8pm....




The last posting on "wheel spinning oiks..." has provoked a few interesting comments including one which raises the question of Police Station opening hours once again. To reitterate: how is it that gangs of teenagers can gather, make a nusiance of themselves, create unsightly litter every day, intimidate passers by, and indulge in illegal underaged drinking? and all this right under the noses of Tonbridge Old Bill, lireally in the shadow of a large regional centre Police Station? I'll tell you how, and the answer is very simple: Tonbridge nick closes at 8pm; they proudly display Their "Opening Hours" as 8am to 8pm on their web site. Now those hours might be impressive if they were a retailer on the High Street, that said I reckon Monsoon could be open longer than them and Sainsbury's definitely are. Ok, I'm not suggesting that the Tonbridge Boys in Blue stop working and are home for the six o'clock news although most of them probably are but surely, if they are serious about increasing their perceived public profile, they should bring back the desk Sergeant and have an open door throughout the night so that crimes can easily be reported. If someone has to wait until office hours to report something, or hand in a wallet or jewellery they've found in the street then they'll probably just not bother and keep it instead. It's not long since a major robbery was committed in Tonbridge within a few hundred yards of the Cop Shop. Would the Securitas robbery have happened if there had been a greater Police presence in the town? We'll probably never know the answer to that one. But please Rozzers don't let kids take the piss out of you night in and night out....

Wheel spinning Oiks in Tonbridge....

In the morning Tonbridge blog occasionally listens to that great local radio station for all my fave pop tunes(that's said with a sort of Smashy and Nicey tone). What am I talking about? Well KMFM of course! Apart from being woken up to the sounds of 80s favourites Shalamar's Baby I Can Make You Feel Good, Neil (Poptastic) Faraday caught my attention by complaining about "those oiks" (his words not mine) who go up and down Tonbridge High Street at 2 in the morning, doing wheel spins and the like. He said that that was one good thing about the high price of fuel at the moment, that the oiks wouldn't be able to afford it. Well I'm not sure I agree with you there mate (stop that Smashy stuff!) but I take the point. I've heard about this latest nuisance joy riding in Tonbridge, but didn't know where or when it went on. What can be done about it? oh I don't know, maybe have a decent police presence on the streets and keep the cop shop open after 8 at night; or haven't the Old Bill yet worked out that that's when all the drinking starts and all the trouble makers come alive....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Strawberries and cream anyone?...

Where can you still pick your own around Tonbridge? I remember when I moved here nearly twenty years ago that Mabledon Farm was a lovely place to stroll along to on a summers day to fill up a few punnets and stock up on strawberries for the seemingly brief time they were in season. More often than not, if I'm honest, I have to admit that I would not only fill up the punnet, but also fill up my gob as I merrily picked away, deluding myself that I was some kind of hunter gatherer! Thinking about it that's probably half the reason you don't see so many PYO signs any more. The sight of me with my punnet half filled and pink stain around my mouth at the check out must have been anoying at best. Sorry about that farms, but I'm sure that it wasn't all my fault. I did laugh out loud today though when a news item brought up the demise of the PYO farm, citing one example of a farmer who even spotted pickers carrying pots of cream to dip their strawberries into while out in the fields! I wish I'd thought of that!!..

Cycle carriers, Swastikas and Aryans....

Don't worry Tonbridge blog isn't a closet Nazi who has suddenly 'outed' himself by displaying an uncontrollable urge to display a swastika on the site. No this piece of information that I bet you didn't know is that the swastika is an ancient symbol, perhaps even Neolithic in origin and certainly dating back to the Indus civilization of at least 2,500 BC. The Aryans, who were of Nordic origin, migrated South, West and East (we don't know why) around that time and invaded the area we now know as northern India. There they adopted some of the cultures and practices of the more ancient civilisations which they had overthrown, including the swastika. To this day the symbol is a good luck charm in many, especially Hindu and Buddist, cultures, with no association with Nazism, which has, perhaps forever tainted it with ideas of master race, racism and rapid ruthless conquest in The West. If you look at the date over the one above, which is the emblem of the Thule Society of Germany, you'll see that it is not 1939 but 1919. Now the Thule society, who were essentially an intellectual study group, did have Nazi links in that they believed in the legend that Thule was a Nordic island and the origin of the ancient Aryan people, who had almost super heroe like strength and magical powers. Thule, it seems, is a sort of Nordic equivalent of the mythical city of Atlantis. And all this because I bought a cycle carrier from Halfords in Tonbridge and wondered about the Swedish brand name Thule. I really must get out more!...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Simply Poetic Pride....


Gerry Stubbs served in World War II, he boasts about meeting big band leader, Glenn Miller, while serving with the Royal Signals Corps in 1944. And why shouldn't he? He remembers landing on the beaches of Normandy over sixty years ago, he remembers some of his mates who were shot to pieces in the landings. He's an old man with a young heart. Unbelieveably he's 88 years old, he still does all his own shopping, cooking and cleaning, he walks everywhere and could easily pass for a sprightly 70 year old. What's his secret? Well, as mentioned here already, he's young at heart; he attends the poetry night at the Ivy House on most occasions, so I've come to know Gerry quite well, and now he has a new poetry anthology just published called Simply Poetic Pride. Come along and listen to this proud man perform his own poetry at the Ivy on Thursday July 3rd and better still buy a copy of his book. It took him great sacrifices and a long lifetime of experience to be inspired to write them, all you have to do is fork out seven quid to see if you like his poems. We could all learn from Gerry; I hope that I have the same youthful spirit if I live anything like that long....

Outdoor Lounges....


Not that I go out that much, but the smoking ban seems to have started an interesting trend: the rise of the outdoor lounge. The old smokers' corner became a couple of picnic tables, then a patio heater appeared here and a gazebo there. Now, less than a year on after the ban there are virtually rooms outside springing up absolutely everywhere as pubs and restaurants compete for the smoker's pound. I notice at the oldest drinking hole in Tonbridge (or at least I think it is) the Rose and Crown they have a black board advertising a smoking and drinking area in the courtyard. I went in to investigate and found not just a couple of tables and patio heaters, but a whole outdoor covered lounge complete with large plasma screen TV. At the Somerhill on Pembury Road they have a similar area with an added extra, a full size pool table in a covered outdoor area. It's amazing how innovative landlords can be when they have to be. At this time of year the inside of pubs are virtually empty and the outside is positively bustling. Maybe I'll close the bookshop down and buy a marquee to plonk on the park or by the river; I'll open a pub in it, where people would presumeably be allowed to puff away to their heart's content, I'd sell cigarettes, cigars, even sheesha pipes it would become the Mecca for smokers all over Kent. Any suggestions for a name? How about Mr. Fags!...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Hildenborough Farmers Market (Sponsored by Dame Kelly Holmes)


Tonbridge blog hears that our very own Dame Kelly Holmes was in Hildenborough on Tuesday to open the first weekly farmers market at the Church Hall. Let's hope that she eats lots of Kent apples and strawberries or that the 200 or so people who turned up to see her will bother to visit the market every week. So that's one in Shipbourne and now one in Hildenborough; when oh when oh when will Tonbridge and Malling council or someone else see the light and decide that Tonbridge could have a weekly farmers market in and around the Castle grounds, the focal point of the town, instead of that apology of a one down River Walk which happens just once in a while and nobody goes to it because they have no idea when it's on. We are supposed to be a market town after all, aren't we? I for one would pick up my bread, cakes, cheese and fresh local fruit and veg from it every week without fail. It would save me money, save my health and save me the stress of going to Sainsbury's. We could get that local Bafta winning fellow to open it if Kelly's not free. Maybe in the meantime I'll have to drive over to Hildenborough every Tuesday until they sort their act out....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tonbridge Twirlerval....


I missed the Tonbridge Carnival at the weekend due to a trip Up North to a family Christening; I'm pretty sure that it will have been much the same as in previous years give or take a Kelly Holmes here or a Twirler there. Anyway, if you missed it yourselves and so that you don't feel cheated heres a picture from last years event. Does anyone have anything to interesting or unusual to report?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Death of Tonbridge?....

Rumours of the death of Tonbridge have been grossly exagerated. I've just been Up North, which I still call "home" even though I've lived Down South for as long. I went for a very lovely family Christening at my sisters house in an idylic little Lincolnshire village near the coast. I only spent two days there and came back late last night feeling tired but mentally refreshed. When I came off the M25 and onto the home straight (the A21) as I appproached Tonbridge I noticed a twinkling of lights in the distance. Yes sure enough Tonbridge was in fact still there, pretty much as I left it. There may be a few shops closing, but other retailers will soon enough be along with bright ideas, and unique selling propostions, and, full of hope, many will make a go of it. So let's all keep this credit crunch nonsense under control, stop worrying about whether or not Marks and Spencer have made 2% less profit this year and get back to using our own common sense. Let the City Boys make (or probably lose) their fast buck but's let's rise above all of that; we can because we're made or better stuff. We're alive and well, we are Tonbridgeians! (OK let's not get carried away....)

Is Tonbridge Closing Down?....

There are a worrying number of shops with "CLOSING DOWN SALE" signs in the window or Estate Agent's "SHOP TO LET" boards fixed to the wall, along Tonbridge High Street. Klan, Tonbridge's only designer label fashion outlet , have deceided to call it a day after sales, name changes, relaunches and all manner of retail tricks to keep up the interest levels. I now see that Cross's the well established art equipment shop are also closing their doors with 25% off this and massive reductions off that. Impact Coffee shop closed recently, Baldocks which became Twinkle Toes for a year or so lays vacant still, Alpha Baby didn't last long in the arcade, Thomson's Holidays have deserted the town. There are many more and I now hear that John Adams bookshop is to close after its lease runs out next year, they have been in business, albeit under different ownership for over thirty years. Is it a sign of the times or is Tonbridge just falling behind it's neighbours? Is it the credit crunch or is Tonbridge just crap at keeping its retailers? Believe you me I know how they feel, because some weeks in the retail trade at the moment you just wonder why you bothered opening up. I've only been in the business about 3 and a half years and others with greater experience tell me it has never been worse (in the book trade that is.) If that is the case then, being optimistic, it can only get better. If we are about to enter a full blown recession and this is just the start of the bad times then God help me and God help the rest of Tonbridge High Street. I must say that on a recent visit to Bluewater shopping centre I didn't notice much evidence of a slump there, but maybe it is just all relative. On the other hand maybe we will always be a town struggling to keep up with more progressive neighbours. Somebody better work out a stategy to overcome this and sharpish....

Credit Crunch

Credit Crunch
(Don’t you feel so sorry for those City Boys?)

Those City Boys
Love their little toys
They love their cars
With Sat Nav n’ anti-speed check radars.
They’re the boys with loadsamoney
So I ‘ave to say it’s not very funny
That now we suffer from the “credit crunch”
Those City Boys are out to lunch!

No not with champagne and caviar
(Like normal)
But, with the rest of us,
Queuing up at the sandwich bar!

Guess what? It's poetry at the Ivy House again tonight. Open mic so come along and listen or better still bring some poems to read out and some money to buy me a drink or two....

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A memory of Gazza....

Most people will remember him for crying as England were beaten in the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup but I'll always remember seeing Paul Gascoigne scoring that goal against Scotland in Euro 96; I was actually sitting at that end of the old Wembley Stadium as he took the ball with outstretched leg. He had one man to beat and I think it was Hendry the big Scottish defender with the flowing blond hair. He didn't just beat him, he completely out foxed him by delicately chipping the ball over his head in one move, completely wrong footing the experienced back in the process and then on the volley with the other foot scoring in the right bottom corner across the face of the goal keeper. With the ball the man was a genius. I don't go to many football matches and will never forget that goal and the euphoria it created as Gazza celebrated his goal by immitatating the "dentist's chair" as his fellow players squirted water from a plastic bottle into his wide open mouth as he lay down on the pitch. (A reference to the wild, letting-off-steam preparations for the tournament (well it was the Venables days and the end of a different age in football) The celebration showed us all a glimpse of Gazza's character off the pitch, the character which the press have made us all too familiar with. I think it was Bobby Robson who inadvertently summed up Gazza in the early 1990s when he described him "as daft as a brush!" As it turned out he was probably spot on; although at the time it made him appealing in a rather childish, laddish way. He was a football genious, but also a football fans, one of the lads. It a great shame to hear about him in his current predicament, I'm not quite sure what "being sectioned" actually means but I'm sure it's quite a big step away from being in some detox "rehab" expensive hotel, which seems to have become trendy these days. I'm sure everyone wants to see him make a full recovery so that he can relive some of his best moments in later life with a clear head. I was never very good at the beautiful game but in a quiet moment I'll always be able to lay back, close my eyes and remember that early summer day back in 1996 and picture that awesome skill once more. Gazza gave me that memory....

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Bird's eye view....

Now this may sound a little like Tonbridge blog has turned into a great big softie but I was a little sad this morning as it appears that I may have scared a mother bird away from it's nest. Over the weekend I had noticed a black bird (I'm no ornithologist but I think it was) flying in and out of the bush between our conservatory and next door's fence. On closer inspection I saw something I've never seen before: a nest with mother bird sitting on its eggs right there through the window next to us. Yes I know you see it all the time on programmes like Bill Oddie's Springwatch but this was live right there in front of me! A mother bird protecting its eggs, with its beak sticking over the top of the nest. It looked frightened, its left eye keeping a good watch on its new found giant neighbours, perhaps that's what they always look like all the time close up, but I would say it was scared. Of course I couldn't resist taking a few close up photos, although the nest was well camalflaged so it's actually quite hard to spot the bird on the snap, even close up, mainly due to the reflections in the glass. All of this understandable attention to our feathered friend though has, and this is the sad bit, resulted in the bird flying the nest leaving four beautifully colourful eggs in the bottom of the nest. At least it wasn't there yesterday at night fall, nor was it there at around 8am this morning. I hope I'm wrong but it does look like the eggs will not hatch. So no chicks being born, no chicks being fed to show my kids and no more priceless photos. I tried not to interfere, but us humans just can't stop ourselves can we....

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Does "the council" read Tonbridge blog?...

Coincidence it may be but credit where it's due. The weedy excuses have stopped and the weeds beneath the trees at the corner of Bank Street and High Street have been dug up. Only three days after Tonbridge blog launched its mini-campaign for better coordination between "the councils." Please don't stop there though council: can we now have street lamps that actually light up at night (there are around half a dozen out in the N end of the High Street) buildings that have been boarded up for more than a year compulsorily purchased or at least extreme pressure put on the owners to do something with them, and while we're about it car park stickers which stick to the wind screen instead of flimsy things which blow off the dash board onto the floor resulting in unjust fines for unsuspecting motorists.Better still let's get rid of Traffic Wardens- sorry "Parking Attendants" sorry " Civil Enforcement Officers" altogether (OK that's not going to happen is it!) Any other suggestions?....

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Really weedy excuses....


Now I'm no gardener or tree expert but I'd hazard a guess that a jungle of weeds growing around the roots of a young whip would not do much to enhance growth! The trees on the corner of Bank Street and the High Street are a disgrace. There can be no doubting that. They don't look nice, in fact they look terrible. Worse though is that they typify what's wrong with "the council." Tonbridge blog has highlighted this problem before and the main problem seems to be that there is no "the council." What we have is a clutch of departments, leisure, conservation area buildings, planning, engineering, safety etc etc. You would have thought that you'd be able to, with a few phone calls, identify which of these departments would be responsible for a couple of trees in hideous containers which were put there to replace two perfectly sound mature trees which were there before these pathetic specimens appeared. But oh no! because, apparently, trees on the pavement and especially if they are moveable pieces of "street furniture" fall into Highways Department's juristriction and guess what? That isn't even anything to do with good old Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council; that down to KCC. That is to say Kent County Council. Just like schools, libraries and roads, this is someone else's fault and definitely not TMBC's. Good so what happens now that we know who's fault they are? The trees at the corner of Bank Street, I'm convinced are really just the tip of a very large ice berg, the fact that they haven't been weeded for a year, when they badly need it, is for me a minor annoyance. The reasons behind why they haven't I find intensely irritating. If we want to be taken seriously as a tourist town, or town in which we're proud to live and work, we ought to be able to sort out a couple of trees without all these weedy excuses....

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Curved balls....

"Good wood 'arry!" "Your end Pete!" These were some of the cries I remember being shouted as a lad as I caught a glimpse of the world of bowls over the fence at my local park. No not bowling. Bowls. Proper bowls, not the American ten pin variety which most youngsters now play with such enthusiasm. The type you do on a green which has been kept like a snooker baize, by a faithful semi-retired groundsman, so that old men and ladies can skilfully curve their woods into the jack (small white ball) Well why should it be just for oldies when actually its an immensely enjoyable and skilful game and can be highly competitive, but is usually wonderfully gentle. Most importantly of all, it gets you out the house and into the great outdoors. In fact I remember playing the game as a ten or eleven year old with other kids from my neighbourhood; I grew up in a seaside resort right near some beautifully kept greens. I wouldn't say that I'd become an expert but was able to play with a degree of competence; anyway life took over and I can't remember playing for at least twenty years. Tonbridge Bowls club, who are based at Tonbridge Farm, and have a history going back to 1906, is keen to encourage more people to try out the sport, or is it a pastime, or is it a game (who cares it's good fun and moderately energetic) and why shouldn't you. They have "roll ups" on Thursday evenings throughout the Summer, I think that means try-out sessions rather than sitting on the side lines rolling tobacco into cigarette papers (although I dare say some members do that as well!). Check out the club's web site for more details. Now do any other clubs want a free advert before Tonbridge blog starts charging for them?...

Catch Hay fever....

Hay on Wye Literary Festival is on right now until Sunday or Monday so if you fancy overdosing on culture then get yourself over there now. I believe they have over 500 authors, from every corner of the world, booked to appear. Everywhere you look, in the marquees, restaurants, cafes and in the town itself, there's a famous actor, poet, commedian or writer. Oh and there are 40 secondgand bookshops there as well! It really is heaven on earth if you like that sort of thing. Unfortunately I can't make it there this year for various reasons I won't go into, so that's one less person to compete with as far as accomodation goes. Be prepared to rough it in the car if necessary, but even then it would be worth the trip, I promise you....

Odd mods clash with Rockers in Tonbridge High Street....

This was the scene last Sunday when the Old Bill were forced to intervene as the aptly-named Odd Mod Squad clashed with a gang of Rockers outside Retro 66 Barbers in Tonbridge High Street last Sunday in a flashback to the 1960s violent altercations along Brighton Seafront! Or at least you would have been forgiven for thinking that. Actually what happened was that motorists passing by couldn't help stopping to view some of the lovelist pieces of tin this side of Turin which had gathered for a scooter club outing. Traffic was held up for all of two minutes, which apparently caused an "angry" motorist to nearly lose himself with road rage and call the police. (Obviously this guy had listened to Teddy Boy Rock n Roll bands and not The Who and the Small Faces in his youth!) The close circuit, Big Brother, cameras picked them up and the boys in blue were there in the time it takes to pull on a parka coat with a target on the back and adjust your spare wing mirror. Despite the slight hold up of traffic there was, I'm told, good humour all around as the scooter club were given ten minutes "to disappear", which they eventually did; but only round the corner as far as the Ivy House beer garden. There is no truth in the rumour that one of the police officers was heard to remark, in echoes of the film Quadraphenia, "What's wrong 'as yer mavva's 'airdrier broken daan?" The scooter nutters actually have a great web site if you want to see more piccies and stuff....

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Angel of the South....


Peter York, the retiring Chairman of the Tonbridge Civic Society was presented with this beautiful sculpture by Ev Meynell at the society’s AGM earlier this week. One wit at the meeting remarked that it looks like a mini Angel of the South! Quite appropriate really being as we were in the Angel Centre at the time. Tonbridge blog thought that in actual fact the piece was far more beautiful and subtle than that; in fact I want one as well! Maybe I'll have to become Chairman in a couple of years after the new man, Peter Charlton, has become bored of it. If I serve for maybe fifteen years or so (instead of Mr. York's 33!) then just maybe they'll award me with something similar. Although knowing my luck they'll probably raise about enough to buy a candelabra from Wax Lyrical!...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Life begins at Forty (six)....

The FORTY SIX steps
Forty six ways to lose your lover
Forty six steps beyond
46 deadly sins
46 Pillars of Wisdom
Only, 46 hours to....
What a Difference a Day Makes....46 little hours
46 Below Zero
The Secret of Life the Universe and Everything (Number 46)
Joe 46
Space 1946
Blakes 46
46 Men in a Boat
The 46th Lamentation by William Brodrick
1446 by Gavin Menzies
Plead the 46th Amendment
46 Fahrenheit
Biggles of the 46th Squadron
46th Night (Shakespeare)
46 Charing Cross Road
1046 And all that!
The 46th Parallel
2046 Space Odyssey
46 Nights With You (Elvis Presley)
1946 By George Orwell
1946 By James Blunt
Now there are 46 Steps to Heaven
Clickety Click 46 (Bingo Call)
46th Heaven
Five...46 Pick up sticks, seven eight open the gate....
World War II 1939-1946
The Arab Israeli conflict (Palestine 1946)
Revolution #46 by The Beatles
Booby Moore, Bobby Charlton lift the World Cup, 1946
Fortysextraphenia by The Who
The 46 Seas of Rye
2 4 46 8, Never Too Late (Tom Whatisface)
Number 46 Downing Street (Prime Minister)
Number 46 Downing Street (Chancellor of the Exchequer)
46 Bank Street (Mr. Books Bookshop)
XXXXIV
The Hollow by Agatha Christie (Published in1946)
Crime in Cabin 46 also by Agatha Christie (Also published in 1946
1962 (46 Years ago)
46 Red Balloons Go By
Life begins at Forty (six)... not that I'm obsessed with the number 46 this week or anything....

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Bluewater birthday blues....

Blue skies yesterday morning, it's my day off, it's nearly my birthday so what better day for a trip to Bluewater shopping centre. I allowed myself five hours to basically have a good browse and buy a few essential things. I wanted a decent pair of what I would call summer-weight jeans. I like wearing jeans and I don't spend money on suits, shirts and ties anymore so I thought maybe Hugo Boss or Ted Baker, Diesel something a bit nicer to wear than Gap or the usual predictable Levi's. Now I thought that being a 38 waist and 32 leg wouldn't be too difficult a thing to obtain in a place the size of Bluewater. I went in the Boss shop first only to be served by an incredibly gay guy of a simlar age to me; now I'm no homophobe but the idea of taking off my trousers several times within a few inches of this man who referred to me, old school-style, as "the gentleman" did worry me slightly I have to admit and it did remind me rather of those characters in the Fast Show with the catch phrase "Ooh, Suits you sir!", then I went in House of Fraser, on to the Ted Baker shop, River Island, Diesel, French Connection, the new Bench store, yes and I even tried Gap and Marks and Spencer in desperation. I reminded myself of my parents who refused to go in those fashion shops which played loud music as I strained to hear the sales assistants as they advised me to "try on a pair of thirty sixes mate, they come up big sometimes..." I actually walked out of one shop, because I just couldn't stand the thumping beat, imagining my mother's "turn that racket down" ringing in my ears. By 1 o' clock I was getting worried. I'd had no lunch, I had nothing to show for my three hours of trundling around the giant two-level triangle. I must have been in thirty shops, looked at 400 pairs of jeans only to discover that I was a freak and that I should be a size 32/34 if I wanted the proper stuff to fit. I couldn't even find a decent sports shop that sold a running vest that would A fit and B not cost over £30 and C didn't have a Nike trade-marked swoosh on it. (How is it possible to trade mark a tick anyway?!) I decided that I have to get down to at least a 36/32 in time for my next Bluewater trip if I'm to stand any chance of getting those jeans before the end of the summer, either that or go back in time 15 (oh alright 20) years. There I was with about £200 burning a hole in my pocket, desparate to be spent, I wanted to give it to a grateful shop assistant and be pleased with the goods I'd handed over the cash for; but by 2-15 I just knew that it was going to be my unlucky day. On my way out via John Lewis I panicked and bought some pasta bowls just to have something to show for my half a day shopping trip. (Actually they were very good value at twenty quid for a set of four plus a large serving bowl and I did sort of need them.) I had to be back in Tonbridge by 3-30 and had no time to loose, so off I went to the car park, carrying my pasta bowl set, feeling every one of my forty six years, feeling frustrated and annoyed that the mighty Bluewater couldn't satisfy my urge to spend some hard earned lolly....

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Mark-shaped hole in the Universe....

I'm reading The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy at the moment and I wouldn't say that so far (p.119) that its the best book I've ever read; but there was a nice image painted on one page I've just read. It refers to Joe having been killed in a car crash and that there is now "....a Joe-shaped hole in the Universe...." Without wishing to be preachy, or morbid or anything like that I wondered for a moment if there'd be a Me-shaped hole in the Universe when I'm gone. Maybe in the shape of an old book or something! Probably not. Just a thought, what are we all here for and all that?....

A Life of Rhyme....

I read a really uplifting poetry book this morning given to me by a guy who wandered into my shop to see if I'd take them on sale or return. I get quite a few of these requests and not all of them are up to much. I liked this one though; A Life of Rhyme, by Neal Towner, is essentially a life story in brief and in rhyme. It begins by talking about a baby having his nappy changed and swifting moves through early childhood, schooldays, youth, first lads holiday, meeting the girl, getting married, having kids, getting stressed out, kids growing up, moving to a cottage in the country and present day (sound familiar?) Much of it is fairly frivolous, funny and uplifting and also there is some quite moving and deeper stuff mixed in. I liked it, so thanks Neal if you are out there (although he's probably not cos he said that he didn't have the internet, which is probably why he has the time to write poems instead of, like the rest of us becoming obsessed and consumed by this electric box which is slowly taking over out lives!) Anyway don't be tight, help a struggling, aspiring local poet and buy a copy. It probably took Mr. Towner a lifetime to think about, mull over and eventually commit to pen and paper, considerable time and expense to get it published and printed, time and effort to distribute the thing to retailers (who will only take it on sale or return) and all you have to do is walk into a bookshop, mine preferably, and fork out £5.95....

Roll on Summer....

Cheer up, I know it's raining and a whole 13 degrees c colder than the same time last week (according to the weatherman on last night's news. But we're still here, still alive and (most of us) well. Summer holidays are almost upon us, bright skies, clear blue seas, ships going to exotic destinations floating by in the distance; ah yes Cleethorpes again this year!...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Scooters to invade Tonbridge High Street....


Watch out for an invasion of 1960s Lambrettas and Vespa scooters this weekend as scooter clubs descend on Tonbridge High Street. The event, if you can call it an event, it certainly looks set to be eventful, has been arranged by Retro 66 barbers, who have a Vespa in their window, which attracted one of the club members in to have his barnet chopped (1960s style of course!) Let's hope that the Rockers don't get wind of it otherwise we could have Brighton 1967 on our hands all over again. Running battles between Mods and Rockers down the street, on the sea front, scuffles with the law, ice cream, getting hit over the head with a bike chain, Quadrophenia, a knee trembler with a young and attractive Lesley Ash down an alley way just away from the violent scenes developing nearby as the Ace Face (Sting) gets thrown into the back of a Black Maria....Marvelous days I hear some of you quietly saying to yourselves!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Out of the Dark Ages....

The Tonbridge Historical Society website is worth a gander; I'm not sure how long it's been around, whether it's fairly new, or, God forbid, did I miss it? There seem to be some good piccies of the town as well as some good stuff about its history of the town and it's people and businesses. I would say from the fact that the site's Tonbridge People page contains only 3 entries suggests that it is still in the early stages of being built because I'm pretty sure that there are at least twenty fairly famous folk with links to the town. The Jane Austen one seems to be a little tenuous since, as they state on the site, there is no evidence whatsoever that she ever actually came here, despite having relatives from the area. Anyway it's good to see that the society, which, maybe understandably, has a rather crusty and fuddy duddy image, has finally wrenched itself out of the Dark Ages and into the Twenty First Century....

Twenty times a day for Twenty Years!...


One of the highlights of the Tonbridge Garden and Home Show at the weekend, especially if, like me, you're not that much into bedding plants and shrubs, was the demonstration of a food blender. Don't mock, yes you had to be there to appreciate what I'm talking about, but it was quite a performance by the young(ish) couple from the American company. The lady demonstrator could have, and probably is, on one of those dreadful shopping channels where they mix a great patter with subtle and sometimes damned right blantant sales messages. She made fantastic juice mixes, wonderful hot soup, refreshing smoothies, and ice cold ice cream all from lovely fresh ingredients, including the stalks of grapes (full of nutrients we normally disgard) she used the core of pinapples (full of antioxidants or something) and even put some carrot and cabbage (yes really) into the ice cream (more goodness) Everything was so mushed up in the end all that was left were very subtle tastes and none of the texture that would put you off eating it. I marvelled at their salesmanship, although did sense a little that they were doing the demo for the 100th time that day (and they probably were) I wanted one of these machines by the end of the demo, I wanted to enjoy the simplicity of this light commercial quality supa duper blender, mixers, maker of lovely drinks. I wanted to take advantage of its "one second clean" switch, I wanted its ability to be used "twenty times a day for twenty years" (although curiously they only offered a five year guarantee!) I was impressed and would have had one, it should have been mine but oh yeah, did I forget to mention the price? £450 in crome finish (only available at the show) £399 in black or red, £379 special show price in white. I saw at least three people actually buying one but I think I'll stick to the odd Innocent Smoothy treat for now but thanks for the free samples and the very entertaining demo....

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Who'd be a bookseller....


Well I hope you all enjoyed the sunshine over the bank hoiliday weekend. On Saturday I was stuck in my bookshop all day, and on Sunday I had, in a mad moment agreed to do the Tonbridge Garden and Home Show. When I say do, what I mean is, I'd booked a table at the event; this was an experiment and one which was going to cost me my Sunday off (for the second week in a row) and the not inconsiderable sum of £61.10, being the fee for stall for one day and the hire of a tressle table. I did get some valueable advertising to an audience which I would estimate to have been around 1,500 people. Alot more than the average book fair, but nowhere near the 16,000 across three days which the organisers claim on their web site. They let me put my board up on the Saturday and my delivery bike with its advertising sign near the entrance. I put a great deal of thought into what books to take: gardening (well duh!) also craft, woodwork, country pursuits, natural history, art, birds, butterflies; right down to which ladybird childrens books such as Mr. Pepper and Mr. Peach. I was given quite a big pitch, bigger than I'm used to at book fairs, but hey it was outside (well in a marquee actually) I took aprox 500 books with me. I had to consider the logistics of getting books across a soggy field (no cars were allowed on the site itself due to the rain in previous weeks) and also of preventing the heavy book shelves sinking into the mug. I managed all this and feeling rather pleased with myself was ready to start trading by the opening time of 9-30am. I managed to sell only 24 books to a total value of £93. The quick witted among you will say that that's not worth a days work, especially if you consider the cost of the pitch, petrol getting there, lunch and drinks. In fact my son (who was helping me) ended up with more than I did, which wasn't that difficult. But I did make many contacts which may lead to future sales, I may even have made a few friends amongst the other traders which can't be that bad either. It's hard to put a price on advertising and good will but that must have been worth half the stall fee at least. Will I do it again next year? Probably unless I need a day off more than I need to earn ten quid....

Saturday, May 3, 2008

We must stop meeting like this....

Sorry for name dropping but I've just bumped into the Mayor Anne Kemp and her (Consort) husband. Recently it was at the Civic Soc. Awards Dinner and just now at the Tonbridge Garden Show on the park. I think she was there to officially open the event not just to buy a few shrubs like the rest of us. Anyway this year there'll be a special reason to visit the show (on Sunday at any rate) I'll be there. Stand M39 if you want to buy a gardening book, or craft book, or local history book, or show jumping book.... what books should you take to a Garden and home show anyway, I'm used to book fairs. I hope my book shelves don't sink into the mud too early in the day!...

Aufweidesen pet....

As mentioned in a previous posting I had a German boy "Tino" staying with my family this week as part one of my son's school exchange visit. (or should that be sons, or sons' see apostrophe postings) It's been interesting but to be honest I've hardly seen him. The German group have been off to London (twice), Brighton, The Pantiles, I think they spent one half day in lessons. Sounds like a complete jolly to me! We did have a sunny day earlier in the week when we played basketball, juggling and football in my back garden. Tino it seems is an exceptionally good footballer, in fact I think he said that he was transferred for a fee to another club near his home town and trains 4 times a week! Do we do that here with 15 year olds? His party trick was ball juggling, ending up with the ball perched on the back of his neck and then, get this, he removed his T shirt completely whilst keeping the ball balanced on his neck. I was impressed anyway! I think I'll stick to watching it on the telly. This session did end up with a 'friendly' game in the garden my son and Tino versus my daughter and me, with a very small goal to make up for the lack of space in the garden, calling for some really good close control, which neither my daughter or myself had. We played that for a bit, and then Tino suggested that it should be him versus my family, in other words, 3 against one, although, it has to be said, my daughter was keener on playing on the climbing frame! He seemed confident as he went one nil up in the match which he'd called as the first to three. Then, I'm sorry for sharing this with you in a way, I'm almost ashamed to admit it but the competitive instincts kicked in, and 1966 and all that sprang to mind as I stepped up to the challenge. It had become England vs Germany! I couldn't help myself. England we managed a 3:2 victory (shame it couldn't have been 4:2 I hear some of you say. Geoff Hurst would have been proud of us!) I swear that Tino, a really lovely polite lad, went into a bit of a sulk after that; me raising my arms in victory maybe was a little over the top I'll grant you. Then last night we planned a farewell supper for him, but since I had to be somewhere at 8pm the lads were under strict instructions to be back early so that we could all eat together. The call came at around 6 that they had just arrived at the bowling alley and were just about to start a game! So that put paid to the farewell dinner. Tino threw his cloths around the room, left food in his draw, didn't unpack his bag all week, took ages in the bathroom in the morning, lounged around in bed at the weekend and do you know what I concluded by the end of the week? He's German yes, but above all else HE'S A TEENAGER just like my son. Anyway I saw him off this morning and I'll miss him, he's welcome to come back any time and he's promised to send me a ticket to the European Champions League final when he's playing for Bayern Munich or Man United in a few years time....

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Who need's ones' apostrophes'....

After last nights' excellent episode of The Aprentice there'as been much debate today about the use of the good old a'postrophe. Apparently the use thereof is a'lot more flexible than you may 'of' thought! The debate on the programme was whether the new celebration day they'had created for unattached people should be Single's Day, Singles' Day, Singles Day of just avoid the problem altogether and call it Single Day. Then we are on to whether it's Mother's Day of Mothers' Day, whether its' a Visitors' Book you sign or a Visitors Book (no apostrophe) Should we care or should not we? As one bright spark on the Radio 5 Live phone in programme pointed out there isnot one on mobile phone text symbol menu's, so ther'fore it's' day's r doomed @ any r8! So s'' it!...

Paul Watson BAFTA winner of Tonbridge....

Excuse my ignorance but I knew very little of documentary film maker Paul Watson, let alone the fact that he lives in central Tonbridge. He's won a special award at this year's ceremony and, in the words of regular T blogger Mike, he is "The Father of Fly" (that's on the wall documentaries to the uninformed among you, me included!) Apparently he has been nominated at least 8 times in previous BAFTAs before eventually coming up trumps this year. I'm looking forward to meeting him at tonight's POETRY AT THE IVY; perhaps he's written one or two verses about his experiences with The Family back in the 1970s. If not he can just nip in for a pint or two and listen to me babble on....

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Judging a book by its cover....

Yesterday I was robbed in broad daylight! Literally because they were books and also literally cos it was daytime. It's so obvious after the event when you think back on it; two middle aged men came in one asked for philosphy books, while the other went straight to the back of the shop to eye up the children's books. The first man, who looked too simple and badly dressed, to be asking for the philosophy section came to pay for two books (value aprox. £15) with a credit card which didn't work, thereby distracting me from his accomplice; he'd chosen them too quickly as well so I sensed that something was wrong. My suspicions, having been aroused, meant that I was trying to keep an eye on the tea leaving scally at the back while he, as I found out later was trousering (actually bagging and coating) several Billy Bunter Annuals (aprox value £100) While I'm being distracted by the man trying to pay the scally walks out in a bit of a hurry and pays for one of the Billy Bunter annuals, presumeably to throw me off the scent. I think I noticed that his bag looked a little heavy, but could swear that it wasn't when he walked in. Half an hour late the penny drops and I look at the shelf of Billy Bunters with a large gap missing. Tea leaves long gone off to their secret hideaway to devide up their booty! Or at least that's what I thought had happened until this morning when the man who'd tried to pay on his card and asked me to keep the two books for him turned up, with cash this time, to pay for his books. Such was my surprise to see him that I couldn't help myself, I stopped short of violence or even actually accusing him of the crime, but I did ask him if he was with another man yesterday and implied that it was a huge coincidence that the books were going missing at that exact time. I have to admit that it wouldn't have made any sense for him to come back for his books (unless he's a philosophical cleptomaniac or something) and he did stay awhile and bought two more books also. He made a sort of feeble, I've been hurt, joke as he opened his carrier bag to show that he wasn't hiding anything! I've learnt a valuable lesson from this: you just never can jump to conclusions, no matter what someone looks like, or sounds like, or however obvious something looks. Dare I say it, I really will from now on never judge a book by it's cover....

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Go on Go on Go ON....


Taking lunch with the vicar was a first for me yesterday. It wasn't just me and him, I'm not that important and as far as I know I haven't done anything too damning recently; no it was myself and a mixture of teachers from local schools, local business people and some of the church wardens and staff. The Rev. Mark Brown is the new(ish) vicar of the Parish of St. Peter and St. Paul, in other words the parish church. What I didn't know, but as of yesterday do now, is that Rev. Brown also looks after three other churches in the same parish, St Saviours, I knew about, Christ Church on the High Street and also one I didn't even know was there, St. Philip's (I think) out at Cage Green. It was quite odd and a little awkward at first, like all of these gatherings can be, but I decided that there was no harm in mingling and just being myself; a couple of glasses of lovely Gallo red wine helped to mellow me out a little (which I needed as I had just left a plummer at my house and only half an hour before there had been water spurting from the hot water tank as we frantically cleared the under-sink cupboard to turn off the stop cock! That's another story though.) The buffet was excellent: lots of mini quishes, small two-bite sized sandwiches with a whole range of fillings all with crusts cut off, vol au vent thingies, and of course cakes, buns and more cakes. We were asked to sit down and listen to a short sermon speech from the vicar and I must admit that I was thinking at this point "here we go, we've all got to come to church or we're going straight to hell..." but not a bit of it. He was friendly, asking us to join in wherever we could, offering his services to school assemblies, informing us about the new look Contact (church) magazine and most importantly of all keeping it brief. In fact I got the impression that he is a genuinely nice man. I then mingled and chatted as the sandwiches were now brought to us on trays, I chatted to church committee members, (more sandwiches,) I chatted to the curate (would I like cake?) I chatted to Slades Head Teacher (go on you can have another piece of cake.) Go on, go on now! There was no way that any of that beautifully prepared buffet was going in the bin. Honestly it was just like Mrs. Doyle on Father Ted; in fact it was more like having four Mrs. Doyles all at once! You just daren't say no. A very entertaining and satisfying lunch time, I should do it more often....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tonbridge Library Cafe....

There's a good comment on the Guardian web site today about how the British Library has become a trendy place to hang out and order a cappucino. Once the haunt of 'mad old women' and only very serious academic types the recently changed admissions policy has made it the undergraduate place to be. So much so that post graduates with real reasearch to do are finding it increasingly difficult to get a seat. Tonbridge blog wonders whether Kent County Council could do the same with Tonbridge Central Library. It already has computer terminals upstairs in the reference library, which always seems busy with students from West Kent College and elsewhere clicking and tapping away. (I remember when you could hear a pin drop in a library, instead of this racket!) There are cds and dvds for sale and for hire downstairs, they sell cards, keyrings and other gifts, there are even some books in there somewhere! So come on then KCC why not a little cafe to make it a trendy teenage hang out joint. It may stop a few of them from becoming hooked on alcopops and other intoxicating substances; they might even read a few books in between gigling and rabbiting on about who they fancy and which disco rave thingies are in at the moment, or how many aliens they've maimed playing Halo 3, or whether this Nokia has more mega pixels than that Sony Erickson (or whatever young folk talk about these days) Or should libraries just continue to be boring places to sit quietly sifting through old volumes of Charles Dickens?...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Willkommen zu Tonbridge und Tunbridge Wells....



This week I'm going to be doing my bit for Anglo-Euro relations. We will be having a German kid staying with us as part of my son's school exchange visit. He'll be going over there soon (cos that's the way it works you know!) It will be a bit of an upheaval having Constantine stay but I'm actually looking forward to it. My own command of the German language stretches as far as: eine beer und eine bucke mit caiser bitte (sic) which, loosely translated means: can I have a beer and a cheese roll please. You may mock but that phrase could mean the difference between a miserable journey or a satisfying snack. I ought to point out that I'm a lover of most cheeses, except from memory I don't think cheese is Germany's strong point. Fortunately my wife saves the day, yet again, as she's pretty much fluent, having studied German to at least O level standard. As far as I know she's never actually been there but that hasn't stopped her putting me to shame on numerous foreign holidays by having proper grown-up conversations with our Teutonic cousins. Anyway, no obvious war jokes please (I had to go and mention it didn't I!) I'll report back and let you know how the invasion week went if you want to hear. It takes me back to my school exchange visit to Konigswinter, near Bonn, when I were a lad. Ah yes, the lager, the football, the athletics matches, Abba, Sorry I'm a Lady, Black is Black I Want my Baby Back, the 1970s discos, the open air swimming pool, the girls in swimsuits, Claudia in particular; now that's another story and one which you will probably never hear!....

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A trip down Happy memory lane....

When my wife and I first moved to Tonbridge in the late 1980s an average Friday night would be a well earned few pints in the Ivy House, a couple of nice drinks in what used to be called the Office Wine Bar, maybe a cheeky one in The Castle and then on to the Happy Cuisine down Avebury Avenue for an excellent Ruby Murray. On successive Friday nights we probably ate the whole menu between us. Then we had kids and, although we tried to pretend that we could still go to restaurants and that it wouldn't change our lives like it had so many of our friends', all that gradually changed. These days we hardly ever go out; so last night we decided that we would. It seemed really odd walking down to the Punch and Judy, in St. Stevens Street. When we walked in the bar we felt a little like the American tourists walking in to that pub in the Yorkshire moors in American Werewolf in London. The place was pretty dead for a Friday night, perhaps the in-crowd were already at the Humphrey Bean or the Slug and Lettuce, not in a coppers' pub, as the P&J is probably thought of. We had a couple of pints of their rather excellent London Pride which went down very well on a cold night, as last night was. Then on to our old favourite haunt, The Happy Cuisine. Again hardly anyone there, three groups of people in the whole time we were there. It was different and yet so familiar, a paint job and a little refurbishment, but unmistakably our old place, the waiters were very friendly, especially the owner's son and we had a really nice meal. Predictably I had a Chicken Tika Mossala, always a banker, and my wife plumped for an old favourite of her's, a Korai King Prawn, and we had all the old trimmings like Sag Aloo, popapums, naan breads, lime pickle, mango chutney etc. etc. Yes and after the meal they still brought the hot towels and After Eight mints, as they did fifteen years previously, a tried and trusted restaurant technique to soften the blow of the bill and to maximise their tip potential. We left them a rather good tip of around £3 (against my better judgement, but then my wife always was more generous than me on that score) well at least it would have been generous in 1989! We left feeling reassured that life in the Happy Cuisine carries on, the waiters who served us are probably the sons and nephews of the waiters who served us before but they're every bit as friendly and attentive. I like the more up market Indian restuarants like the Alishan, which are springing up every where but, for me, I'll always have the best memories of sitting by the table next to the fish tank in the good old Happy Cuisine....

Even more uplifting tale....

For all of you who have followed the story of Stuart (who used to be rather cruelly nicknamed Duvet Dave) which was originally posted on T blog a couple of weeks ago and then appeared in this weekend's Courier there is another, even more heart warming chapter to report. Stuart's mother has been in contact with me after a friend showed her the article in the Kent and Sussex Courier. She is delighted to hear that her son seems to be back on his feet as she hasn't been in contact with him for several years. Stuart if you are reading this I wish you a long and peaceful life doing whatever makes you happy....

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tonbridge blog shocking journalist....



This is what regular commenter and fellow ranter MattieG labelled me as in a recent comment posted on this site. And I have to agree with him on this occasion that he's right! I was riding a strange contraption (actually it was one of those fold-up bikes, which are extremely handy little things and a possible part of the solution to parking and traffic chaos in Tonbridge and perhaps even the climate change debacle, but that's another story!) I did see the police cars and ambulances and road blocked off and several cars at angles across Pembury Road. My whole body and mind was screaming to go and investigate; every fibre of the journalistic streak within me cried for me to pedal down to the scene of the crime/accident/incident or whatever it was. But I'm afraid the fold-up bike had a mind of its own and decided that I'd had enough excitement running the bookshop and blogging for one day and that my legs just about had one more big climb in them so up I went to be crowned, once again, the King of Le Quarry 'ill, the imaginery Polka Dot Jersey was mine once more (sorry that was last year wasn't it!) Looking back I am ashamed that I ignored my journalistic instinct and didn't turn back, whip out my Sony Erickson camera phone and bring Tonbridge bloggers the world over those exclusive snaps. So as a consollation here's a picture of a lovely spring scene instead. What was occuring on Pembury Rd anyway, does anyone have a clue? Perhaps I should appoint MattieG as chief South Tonbridge correspondent and general busybody....

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

No Impact Cafe update....

I went in yesterday to clear out my books from the now bankrupt Impact Coffee and Cards, the charity coffee shop on Tonbridge High Street, which opened at 9-45am, just after you'd had a coffee elsewhere and closed at 3-30pm, just before you fancied afternoon tea. Apparently the charity, Instant Muscle, which owned the cafe, went into administration and is subject to a possible investigation by fraud officers, was just left as it was on the day the staff walked in for a day's work only to receive their marching orders, and no money! The evidence of a sudden departure inside the coffee shop was evident; crumbs still left in cake stands, washing up piled up on the draining board and not done, till open with receipts spilling out, silver and copper cash left, notes taken, food still in the fridge, basically just abandoned. I would take it on as a bookstore cafe but the landlords want £27,500 annually for it. Not even Mr. Books can stretch to that! So maybe over to Costa Coffee, Burger King or another hairdresser then....

A brush with the HSBC Police....

I witnessed mild road rage yesterday.... my own that is! To cut a long and infuriating story short I decided to drop my son off at HSBC Bank in Tonbridge so that he could pay in some money. He said that he wouldn't wait if there was a queue, but it was the first time he'd actually paid money in on his own. (He's good at taking it out!) So I decide to wait a little while outside the bank tucked in out of the way on River Walk. I swear to you that within 1 minute a Goon aka Parking Attendant had spotted me and signalled for me to move off the yellow lines. The dilema now was what do I do about my son? so I stopped the engine, as I was causing no blockage in the road, and ran into the bank to see how long he was going to take. Then I ran back out, reversed a bit went forward a bit (felt ridiculous, but at least I was technically manoeuvring so could not be caught out there. Then an HSBC employee was waiting to move into the narrow entrance to the road that I was, by now, at the junction of debating with myself whether to wait a little longer or to pull away, drive round needlessly for a few minutes and then come back in the hope that my son would have read my mind. (He's recently had his moble stolen so that wasn't an option either!) This HSBC worker, I knew she was that by the red sweat shirt which said HSBC on it, (I'll make a sleuth yet!) by now was rolling her eyes as if to say get out of the way I'm a busy lady. Due to that road rage feeling we all get in these sort of circumstances, this eye rolling annoyed the hell out of me, why was her day more important than mine! As she drove past me she rolled down her window and said that it was a private road (I'm pretty sure that that was a bare faced lie) so I said sarcastically why don't you call the police then and just lingered where I was for a few moments longer quietly fuming inside, in the hope that the lad would come out of the bank. I then saw in my rear view mirror that this bank lady was in her car (by the way now completely blocking the narrrow road herself) on the phone, seemingly writing down my number plate. So I got out of the car and walked up to hers, trying to keep my cool, being careful not to touch her car, signalled for her to wind down her window and said words to the effect that for her information I was waiting for my young son, who was a customer in her bank. Slightly taken aback by my boldness, she murmurred something about the traffic wardens being keen on booking cars in that zone, to which I spattered back to her that I'd already encountered one. It could so easily have turned nastier, but we both left it at that; it's plain to see from these mild examples of road rage how they can develop into a major incident. To cut an even longer story short I then had to drive round to Somerfield car park, only to find that they now charge 60p, and pay to park for the first time in Tonbridge for over three years (yes really, you just have to know where and be prepared to walk a little); but that's another story. And the moral is, don't mess with the HSBC Police, especially if they've got your money....