General rants

Me venting my spleen over any manner of things.

For Art’s Sake


new beecroft gallery

In what is turning into a series of “good news for Victoria ward” blog posts, I can now confirm that the new home of the Beecroft art gallery in Southend is pretty damn awesome.

When Ash and I moved into our flat, it was a source of annoyance that the library had closed just before our move in date. I rather liked the old Southend Central library, with its multiple levels and wide selection of books. The new Forum which replaced it, more centrally to the town centre, has amply provided for library coverage, but the move left a big, well-placed building going begging in the town centre.

The new Beecroft Gallery opened at the weekend, but it was only on my lunch break today that I actually managed to get down to have a look around. And I was impressed. It’s still a bit on the empty side, but I’m confident that it will fill out given time. There are already a few exhibitions there, one a photography exhibition on football stadia across Europe, and another exhibition of swimwear of the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Both are well worth a look, alongside the Beecroft’s own collection of Southend-related artwork.

I spotted a few excellent maritime paintings, which appealed to my own tastes.

The new gallery sits alongside Southend Central Museum — also well worth a visit — on Victoria Avenue, down the road from both the courthouse and the civic centre. This is what I mean when I talk about the potential of this area; with the regeneration of the other side of the road which is now very much on the cards, Victoria really does seem to be taking steps towards fulfilling its potential as a cultural hub.

Meet the new me


Not, as it turns out, all that much different from the old me.

Please do not attempt to adjust your TV set (does anybody ever try that any more?), I have simply given my blog a long overdue facelift.

You see, the old theme was one I had been using since I graduated from university. Which doesn’t sound too long, but every now and then someone or something would remind me that that was a good three years ago. So I felt a change was in order.

It’s nothing terribly radical, and indeed the content will remain largely the same. But I wanted something fairly minimalistic, with a lighter colour scheme. The result is what you see before you. All feedback is, as ever, welcome, so let me know what you think.

I’m also subsuming the Reviews category (and all subcategories) under Geek-culture, as a part of what I see as recognising the two heads which have grown up in the content which I blog. This may evolve further, but I think that generally the categories feature has been under-used, and I mean to rectify this.

My blog did very well in terms of numbers over the election campaign, and I am determined to continue that trend, with more of an equal focus on geekery and political geekery. Julian (Ware-Lane) regularly bemoans “all the sci-fi stuff” on here, but these are my interests, and I think it gives a more holistic sense of who I am. Besides, my blog, my rules.

So as a great man once said, let’s see what’s out there!

Hiatus (ish)


With the local elections done, and the future of Southend now in hands other than mine, I am taking a well-deserved (or at least I think so) break to recuperate. My foot still hurts from doing my bit to see two Labour councillors elected in Westborough.

I figure a week in York, the once (and future?) capital of England, ought to do the trick.

So although I will still be blogging this week (and you thought you’d escaped), it will be all of the reviews which have fallen by the wayside in the last few weeks in favour of the push-and-pull of the minutiae of local politics. Hersey of the week will also be making a return, you lucky reader!

If any groundbreaking political news does make it to York this week, I don’t rule out giving my opinions, but it’s far from my first priority. And when I get back to Southend, I’m planning a bit of a makeover (the blog, not me!) so that’s something to look forward to.

But for now, time to rest.

Youth in Revolt


george osborne laugh

My generation are selfish bastards. It’s a well-documented thing.

We’re the “me” generation, I’ve been told more than once. We’ve had everything on a plate, we’ve had it so easy. When our parents had to work, we got awards just for turning up. Our exams got easier every year, not like the O-Levels Mum and Dad did.

It’s background noise, the hum which shapes our daily lives. Ungrateful. Undeserving. Spoilt. It gets to the point that we tune it out and carry on with our lives. Because what else can we do?

The truth from our perspective — from my perspective — however is quite different.

Read on…

An(other) Open Letter to Southend Odeon


ron woodroof

Dear Southend Odeon,

I’d like to open by saying that I am a fan. I love film, and I love cinema as a medium for experiencing it. Most often I pass through your doors at least once a week. But sadly, I don’t expect to be gracing your establishment this week.

Why? Three words:

Dallas Buyers Club.

Read on…

Lest We Forget


poppy field

Once more, Remembrance Day comes upon us, and the country is transformed into a sea of poppies.

It is with an especially heavy heart that I remember this year, my grandfather — who having served in the Grenadier Guards in WWII was my last connection to wartime armed forces — passed away earlier this year.

I will be remember him, and my other grandfather who fought with Montgomery’s armies in North Africa — but my thoughts will also be with any and all who have lost their lives in war.

Read on…

Baking Bad!


calendar girls buns

What’s the point of having a blog with thousands of daily visitors (Ed: Yeah, right!), if you can’t do a bit of plugging every now and again?

So, dear readers, I hope you’ll understand if I take a moment to plug Ashleigh’s new baking blog: Stiff Peaks.

Given that her irresistible baking is the primary contributor to my ever-expanding waistline, this is something to be paying attention to. Her first recipe on the site is for a pumpkin pie which I can personally testify is nothing short of delicious. I’m lucky enough to have a sneak peak of what’s upcoming, and it’s going to be very good.

So go and read. And subscribe, you don’t want to miss any of the yummyness to come. And almost certainly innuendo  (in-your-end-o!).

Remembering Allan Dent (6th Dec 1926 – 9th Sept 2013)


2013-09-28 11.46.31

On Friday, on a clear, sunny and warm day in Scunthorpe, I and the rest of my family laid to rest my Grandfather. Allan Dent passed away on 9th September, at the ripe old age of eighty-six.

I wanted to write something about him before this, but I didn’t know where to start. I still don’t. For the past five years Grandad suffered from an increasingly-worsening dementia which left him unable to recognise me, or other family members. It’s been a truly heartbreaking experience, like an open wound festering at the back of my mind. Watching parts of him washed away by an unstoppable tide, its something I wouldn’t wish on anybody.

But that, as horrific as it was, is not how I will remember my Grandad.

Read on…