Goodbye Old Friend!

It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my old friend, Jago, who ‘fell asleep’ in the middle of the road recently as my husband was driving back from Birchington. Just round that dangerous corner near Quex, it was. Distraught, he phoned the emergency services, who arrived an hour and a half later, by which time Jago was no longer asleep, but had completely flatlined.

   Arriving on the scene, the knight-of-the-road errant took one look and shook his head in that sorry-for-your-trouble-mate fashion reserved for grieving relatives. ‘Knackered,’ he pronounced after a cursory examination, following it up with ‘Banjaxed,’ in case he had failed to make his diagnosis abundantly clear. ‘How old?’ he asked, head still in sorrowful metronome mode.

‘Er, nineteen,’ my husband confessed, manfully trying to hold back the tears, which resulted in his voice skidding into the girlish register and making him look, and sound, very silly indeed. A bit like Dolly Parton.

‘Yer ‘avin a larf!’ came the response, although it was clear from the machinations of said husband’s face that his funny bone was not at that precise moment tuned to comedy.  Belatedly observing this, the knight tried for sensitivity. ‘Hovis!’ he said in a voice sonorous with empathy. ‘Brown bread! You wuz lucky you ‘ad ‘im so long. These days yer lucky if they survive the first frost. I blame China!’

‘Is . . . is there anything . . .’ the husband asked hesitantly?

The knight made so bold as to scratch his head. A long groan issued from between his lips. ‘Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Told ya. Ee’s a gonner. As gone as me granny’s teeth and they went back in nineteen-undred-and-frozen-to-death.’

‘So there’s nothing you can do? Nothing at all?’

‘Do I look like Jesus, mate?’ The knight sighed? ‘Does that sign on me truck read worker of miracles? The best I can do is chuck him up back and drop him off at your friendly local mechanic. ’

Which he did and maybe the mechanic there really was Jesus because, in a few days, Jago had staged a Lazarus-like resurrection and was back on the road again.  ‘Timer-belt,’ Jesus aka the mechanic  said. ‘Lucky it didn’t knacker the pistons’.

Sadly, our joy didn’t last for long. Jago is due for his MOT next month and there are not enough donor organs in the world to get him through. So, we have taken the decision to retire him to that great scrap yard in the sky or somewhere nearer if we can find one.   And, silly though it sounds, my heart is broken because Jago was more than just a car. He was emblematic of great changes in my life.  I bought him when I took the decision to move from London to Thanet. He was my first ‘fun’ car, a two-seater rag-top, kept purely for the joy of meandering up and down country-lanes with the roof down. I drove him down to the beach and sat, sun streaming in, roof down, stereo playing gently, whilst I worked on a novel one blissful summer a few years ago.  He was with me when I met my husband, a confirmed Jag man. He is now a reformed MX5 man.

So, goodbye my lovely, little, British racing-green friend. Thank you for the good times.  And even though I am replacing you with a slightly younger model – yes, exactly like you, only in black – I want you to know I still love you and always will.  Toot! Toot!

Advertisements

Hot tempers, Cooling Towers – Richborough Towers – should they stay or should they go!

I remember my first walk on the West Cliff of Ramsgate, gazing across Pegwell and, shock, horror, seeing three ugly cooling towers looming like squat ogres in the distance. But, it wasn’t long before I came to regard them with great affection.  True, they won’t win any beauty contests – they are what they are – 1960s industrial architecture. Nevertheless, there is a pleasing symmetry to them. They have grown into their surroundings and give scale to an otherwise flat and featureless landscape. I love to watch the play of light as the sky changes above them or see them gently enshrouded in early morning mist. They are affectionately known in our family as The Three Fat Sisters (the chimney is the anorexic!). When returning from our travels somewhere, there is a contest to see who can spot the towers first, and a sigh of contentment goes up that we are almost home.

Now, of course, this is all sentiment and progress isn’t built on sentiment. If, as has been suggested the towers are unsafe then, of course, there is an argument for tearing them down. If they can be replaced by an industry that will bring employment into the area, then I can see the logic in that too.  However, I wonder if the full potential of the towers has been explored, if, for example they could be turned into a museum, art gallery or restaurant, the land roundabout landscaped into a pleasant park or designated an official nature reserve. There are, I believe, some plans to build a recycling plant, including an incinerator which, presumably, will require chimneys with ensuing blasts of pollution. Is this likely to be any less a blot on the landscape than the towers?  Surely not.

My position is plain. I like them and, ideally, I’d like them to be given a new lease of life, long to reign over us.  On the other hand, the devil on my shoulder tells me that I am not an engineer, I have no knowledge of what is entailed in such a venture, the feasibility or the expense. I just hope that whatever decision is made, it will be the right one for the area and that we will all be happy. But, what are the chances of that?

Have your say. Write to Thanet District council on planningservices@thanet.gov.uk

PS.  A page on Facebook has been also been set up, Save the Richborough Towers,

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-the-Richborough-Towers/233694336688325?sk=wall&filter=1