Month: January 2015

The Man in the High Castle – A Review

the man in the high castle

I read Philip K. Dick’s alternate history novel “The Man in the High Castle” whilst I was at university. Truthfully, I went through a bit of a PKD phase, and to this day I still think he was a magnificently talented writer. Though I’m never quite sure if I prefer Robert Heinlein, Dick’s politics at least align more closely with my own.

Anyway, “The Man in the High Castle” was probably my favourite of his novels. I’ve been hearing rumours of attempts to make a TV or film adaptation for a while, and truthfully when I heard that it was going to be one of Amazon’s gimmicky Prime pilots, I was a little disappointed. I would have preferred Netflix, really. They made a fantastic job of House of Cards, and I’m sure they would with this.

But hey, you work with what you have. So this is an hour-long pilot episode for a potential new series to be produced by Amazon Prime (formerly LoveFilm), if the good people of the world vote for it enough for Jeff Bezos to think he can make money off it (Well it can hardly be worse than the Fire Phone, can it? -Ed).

So is it worth investing (your) time and (Amazon’s) money in?

Read on…

04 “The Blitzkreig Button” (Agent Carter season 1) [SPOILERS]

agent carter

I have no idea why US TV shows insist on taking random weeks off. The “mid-season break” is bizarre enough, but I can see no reason why Agent Carter was not broadcast last week.

Well, perhaps absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

And Marvel’s newest TV show is back this week, so I guess we can pick up where we left off, in 1950s America racing to beat proto-Hydra to various Stark-flavoured McGuffins.

The first three episodes have felt on the verge of breaking into something bigger and better, story-wise, but still held back rather than advanced by the trappings of its setting and its heritage in the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Fourth time’s the charm?

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

Working for Blenheim Park: an update on Harridge Road

harridge road storage container

Two weeks ago I blogged about a planning issue in Blenheim Park ward, surrounding a large storage container in front of a house in Harridge Road. The container had no planning permission, and was something of an eyesore in the local area.

So I wrote to the council, enquiring about the possibility of a Planning Enforcement Order to remove the offending installation, and requesting that such a solution be looked into. Earlier in the week I received this response:

Dear Mr Dent

Thank you for your recent email in this matter.

It is correct that the fact the Council owns this property does not necessarily preclude the service of an Enforcement Notice under Section 172 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended). Under the relevant legislation, Notices would have to be served on all those having an interest in the land i.e. the tenant and any other occupiers, South Essex Homes and the Borough Council itself. In order to serve such a Notice, authorisation would first need to be obtained from the Council’s Development Control Committee.

However, SEH have agreed to deal with the matter as it is a Council tenant who is responsible for the breach of planning control and this is deemed the most appropriate route to tackle the issue.

I trust this information clarifies the position.

Kind regards

Neil Auger

Neil Auger – Planning Enforcement Officer – Southend-on-Sea Borough Council

A collaborative solution is certainly a preferable one, provided it is effective. I hope that South Essex Homes will manage to resolve the issue quickly and without further ill-feeling — but I do note that when I was out campaigning in Blenheim Park at the weekend, the storage container was still in place.

I will be keeping an eye on the situation.

13 “Welcome Back, Jim Gordon” (Gotham season 1 review) [SPOILERS]


So with Gotham‘s return — to being a good show, not its disappointing post-Christmas return to broadcast — and the ending of American Horror Story: Freak Show, Gotham is probably my favoruite TV series of the moment. It’s a close thing though — the field is very strong, and Gotham has shown a remarkable tendency for troughs as well as peaks.

But we’re being positive. Gotham has already been renewed for a second season, which is more than Constantine can say, so it’s clearly doing something right.

The last episode ended in a classic Gotham cliffhanger, so let’s see what it’s got for us next.


Why are Southend Tories against saving £825k on waste collection?

rubbish bags
When the news first emerged that Cory Environmental had lost the contract for Southend Borough Council’s waste collection service, I thought it odd that the local Conservatives decided to position it as the lynch-pin of their opposition campaign.

For one thing, they are the party of privatisation. I wouldn’t describe myself as a completely implacable opponent of private sector involvement in public services but…well, let’s say I’m sceptical.

This, though, is surely the model of how it should work? A contract comes up for renewal, and all comers are invited to bid. They are whittled down to the best offers, and then a choice made between them.

So why were the Tories so against Cory losing the contract? And why are they now so against the £800k saving as a result of changing provider?

Read on…

Were we lied to over the Shoebury sea defences?

shoebury common sea defences

It feels a little redundant to describe the Shoebury sea wall debate as the defining issue of the last local elections in Southend — at least in the ward where I was the Labour candidate, West Shoebury.

At the time I was, I feel, more moderate than my opponents on the matter. Whilst UKIP’s James Moyies (who went on to win) damned the council’s preferred scheme as wrong and unworkable, and Conservative then-Cllr Tony Cox backed it to his last electoral gasp, I took the middle way.

I said, whenever asked, that the decision should be reviewed. That the process should be scrutinised. That the choices should be looked at afresh. But given that sea defences are vital — and I still believe that — I could not, I felt, dismiss the then-administration’s preferred plan, given that it was the most cost effective.

That, however, has now been brought into question. In the review initiated by the new joint administration, the preferred scheme has been found not to be the cheapest, but indeed the second most expensive.

Read on…

02 “Mentally Divergent” (12 Monkeys season 1) [SPOILERS]

12 monkeys

So I watched the first episode of the 12 Monkeys TV adaptation with a little trepidation, but found I actually enjoyed much of it. It had some issues, but it had the potential to overcome them, certainly.

That doesn’t mean it will, though.

TV, as Constantine is discovering, is a cut-throat world, and many a better series has gone to the wall for far less (*cough*Farscape*cough* -Ed).

So the message, if there is a message, is to hit your stride as quickly as possible, and innovate ceaselessly. And maybe know where you’re going…

So, episode two.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

Kipperwatch! Waterworth & Moyies have destroyed Southend UKIP

reservoir ukip
I really don’t like blogging so much or so frequently on the same subject. It can feel, at times, like flogging a dead horse.

But with Southend UKIP a dead horse might be about the best metaphor.

In a short week, UKIP have gone from an awakening force in Southend to a shambolic joke. Five councillors were elected in May, to the general surprise of those political watchers of the town.

Now, eight months later, the UKIP Group on Southend-on-Sea Borough Council effectively doesn’t exist.

Read on…

10 “Quid Pro Quo” (Constantine season 1) [SPOILERS]

constantine title

I think it’s definitely arguable that last week’s Constantine heralded the beginning of what the show should have been from the very start. The biggest shame of all is that it has come so late in its first season. Had it been doing this sort of thing from the very beginning, the axe would definitely not be floating over its head.

And believe me, there is an axe. It has yet to fall, and there is still the chance that it may not, but on balance I think that Constantine is for the chop.

Which, as I say, is a shame. But that’s where we are.

Read on… (and mind the spoilers!)