Random Jottings Of Gildersleeve

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Location: United Kingdom

Perhaps you'll learn more about me as you read my blog. For anyone who translates my blog using the translator facility, don't forget if you wish to read the comments in your own language to click on the title of the post down the left hand side otherwise they will remain in english. Also I assume that the translation is accurate but I don't know, so please allow for errors.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Back To Radio Matters...

I will write more personal views and thoughts but as I mentioned previously BBC Radio Essex Pirate broadcasts happening in August with many of those great broadcasters taking part...

And also some of the many radio stations that were on ships around the UK coast in the 60's(really only for as little as approx 3 years)but are held in such high regard by those who listened back then, I linked to and talked of Swinging Radio England and Britain Radio...

Well guess what!

Two of the most popular pirate radio stations from the 1960's are coming back in August to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Marine Offences act. The special programmes from Swinging Radio England and Britain Radio will be available for one week only.

Radio Today

And here's even more details of this special event which will be available online

Swinging Radio England And Britain Radio

If you have broadband...enjoy!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I'm not finished with my radio rant, just deciding what to write next as we have a lot happening regarding anniversaries and events to remember the "Pirates" of the 1960's/1970's and their part in where broadcasting has reached in the UK today and the 40th anniversary of the main 4 BBC radio networks(though that has expended with digital radio in the last few years...)

But briefly I return to...Politics.

It was only a few entries ago I mentioned that twice this area has been pushed into accepting that a large council should be introduced to serve a wider area and twice there has been a postal vote asking whether the population wants the change and a straight forward Yes or No ballot paper.

Overwhelmingly the population has said no. Twice. So tonight as I look through the teletext pages on my television I see that our Government is to introduce nine new such councils UK wide and...you've guessed it, we are included and they will be up and running in 2009.

So you could say why were any of us asked our opinion and what was the point. So as far as I can see the only hope would be a change in Government before such changes can be introduced but as the groundwork will probably be passed before the next election is called, I doubt that the decision can be reversed.

Its said it will give the local population a say in what happens, not if they are ignored as they seem to have been this time...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Nostalgia 2...

Before Radio 1 and Radio 2 etc...the reason for "Pirate Radio" on the high seas was that due the attitude of the national broadcaster and to some extent the society and the establishment of the day refused to play pop music by the original artists. There was also some kind of restriction on how much music could be played that became known as "Needle time" so it wasn't all the BBC's fault.

I wonder what it would've been like had the Government of the day had allowed the Pirates to come on land and broadcast nationally? Instead of closing them all down. Leaving it to the BBC and then 7 years later launch a network of commercial stations but of course they wanted them regulated and sanitised. That does not necessarily mean that I am a fan of the Pirate radio stations that exist today. And they probably do need watching over.

But whilst everyone probably thinks that all the pirates did was play The Beatles, The Who, Manfred Mann and whoever, even the pirates realised that there was an audience for "Light" music and would play Sinatra, Fitzgerald, Matthis etc...or Instrumental etc...hence Swinging Radio England/Britain Radio(that was the American backed outfit with some programming supplied directly from the States)when it was closed down, it was missed as much as any station. We had our own station doing similar programme Radio 390 and that had an interesting history as it was not broadcasting on a ship but from Red Sands Fort.

Swinging Radio England

I found out too late that Red Sands Radio started broadcasting a short term radio station from the fort on 14th July on AM and also on the net with a streaming service but that ends on the 23rd July.

There are plans what they would like to do with the fort even now but if you see any pictures of it from the outside and inside, it is in such a state and it really is a rust bucket. It's a pity, as even from an historical point of view they should've been saved as part of our history and others that once existed were blown up. These never were.

Red Sands Fort

Anyone wanting to relive Pirate Radio as it was(for perhaps the last time) and its rather ironic but its being carried on BBC local radio in Essex in August so if you live in that area or have broadband access there is a stream(I am envious)

BBC Radio Essex Pirate Event 2007

The point is that here we are in the 21st century being offered more stations, in theory more choice and yet in most cases many stations are chasing after the same audience and ever honing their output at who they think have all the spending money and looking at the "Yoof" market. And ignoring great swathes of music.

Back in the 60's you had difficulty finding pop and rock but easy listening was around now its the opposite situation.

Yet the amount of older or easy listening artists that are still recording new material and being discovered a new or people trying to build up their collections of music on CD or digitally there is still a demand for the material. But the broadcasters would have us believe otherwise. Even if the demand was small I am sure the market could support one station playing "easy" music using a mixture of the back catalogue already recorded and the new artists that are going in the studio to do it again.

Nostalgia...Ain't What It Used To Be...

Decades ago(too many years than I care to remember)I tuned into Radio 270. It was the nearest and probably easiest "Pirate" radio station that I was able to pick up in the North East Of England. In hindsight, I don't know if Radio Caroline(probably the most famous of the broadcasters)with programmes originating from ships anchored in the various seas around the coast of the UK. Maybe I did hear it(but I honestly do not remember)the same would be true of say Radio Scotland.

One that seems to be remembered with great affection would be Radio London because of the money that was available to it(I understand that it was financed by wealthy businessmen from the States and I am sure that the wife of President "Ladybird" was also involved...or was that the ship that actually ran two stations from the one vessel "Swinging Radio England/Britain Radio) the rota of dj's that passed through and eventually became household names when BBC Radio changed in 1967 and were then heard in reasonable quality across the whole of the UK. Of course that station was aimed at the London area so there is no suggestion its signal was likely to reach much of the UK as a whole.

I wish that it had. Being a lover of radio, I wished that I had lived in the Essex area as that's where all this radio stuff seemed to be happening and it all sounded so interesting and exciting as a listener, whether it was as a dj is another matter. And yet for those around at that time I believe that it was and for those still alive I think that it still is. They've never lost it.

Most of today's radio is formula. It's lost it's originality and sounds similar. Kenny Everett perhaps the most original radio dj that the UK ever produced and let loose on the airwaves was very positive when Commercial Radio started in the UK and saw it as a chance to do something like they had succeeded in doing as Pirate Broadcasters and probably also saw it as a way to introduce something like the American model which seemed so exciting.

In reality because of all the regulations and those that eventually became involved on the management side, for me most of them started to sound just the same as each other. Any originality, was taken out of the schedule and everyone was expected to do things in a particular way. If you went from one town or city to the next, it could be the same station.

There is a lot of talk from the commercial radio sector about the disadvantage that BBC Radio has over the commercial sector but the fact that until now(some 34 years since legitimate commercial radio came onto land)that we will start to see the largest quota of commercial radio broadcasters available UK wide within the next year. Commercial radio was set up on a local/regional model and it's only recent years we have seen Virgin, Classic FM and Talk Sport be offered to all. Maybe that was the biggest error.

It was ok when some of these stations started as they did offer more than just "Music" but in time that's all they offered and few did anything else but the charts hits. The only stations to remain original(probably because the revenue more available)and the talent was there on the doorstep were stations based in the cities like Manchester or London.

But in time because of buy outs and companies coming in and owning numerous stations again, they've suffered.

Most of the DAB push(that's digital radio to anyone reading this blog abroad)is coming from the commercial radio sector but if I switch on the DAB Radio, I hear very little difference again from one station to the next. Many are in mono(which is a backwards step)some are broadcasting at a lower quality threshold and already some stations that offered something different have gone out of business or been pulled and so far those spaces have not be filled. Unless you count a station that reads traffic news 24/7.

Is it a problem exclusive to the UK?

Probably not. There are suggestions that much of American Radio has been taken over by a few companies and it's all starting to sound alike. That there are so many commercials between the records or interrupting the programmes that even those who love their radio are growing tired and switching off. Or rather discovering satellite radio and the reason it's working is because on it's 100 or so channels it does offer different genres from speech to music, commercials are lost altogether or are fewer and some stations are daring to be different and exciting. The listener subscribes and pays a small fee(its a bit like returning to the old radio licence)but they are getting something that they want to hear and if the Satellite station messes up, the audience is going to withdraw their money so the audience is probably influencing the output.

All these years on for all I see things worth complaining about BBC Radio for me it is still the best and I really would miss it if I awoke one day and found it was no longer available. It still does more speech radio than any commercial station regarding news, documentaries, drama and comedy. It still offers a more diverse music policy across it's stations(though that is suffering more and starting to sound like commercial radio without the ads)

As I mentioned RNI in the comments section this is quite an interesting article(some of the later information is even news to me)

(This is rather long so I'll split this up over a number of entries)

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Results Are Due...

BBC News 24 says the turnout was only 38% and the same party is expected to hold the seat again but it now depends on by how large or small the majority is. BBC Radio 5 says that the campaign was less than exciting in the by election here.

A reporter talking from the other by election happening in a part of London says that is more exciting(and closer) but made the point that by elections and he mentioned the London one in particular are known to be nasty with lots of name calling.

Well, it happened here as well. In general, from one party. The others seemed to mainly stick to criticism of policies rather than getting personal. It's believed Labour will take first place and the Lib-Dem's in second place.

The result will follow as soon as possible and later I'll try and put up the figures and percentages.

We'll pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again...probably within two years as a national general election has to be called sometime within that time frame.

Now, lets see if the Save Our Town element actually has any effect on the town. The trouble is, if things do start to happen rightly or wrongly the public will think the campaign worked and the winner tonight will seen as responsible and be given the credit.

Votes As Cast In The By Election
Phillip Wilson - Labour 12,528 (44.77%, -14.11%)
Greg Stone - Liberal Democrat 5,572 (19.91%, +8.02%)
Graham Michael Robb - Conservative 4,082 (14.59%, +0.19%)
Andrew Spence - British National Party 2,494 (8.91%)
Paul Gittins - Independent 1,885 (6.74%)
Toby Horton - UK Independence Party 536 (1.92%, +0.36%)
Christopher Michael Haine - Green Party 348 (1.24%)
Tim Granger - Christian Party Proclaiming Christ's Lordship 177 (0.63%)
Stephen Paul Gash - The English Democrats Putting England First Party 177 (0.63%)
Alan Howling Laud Hope - Monster Raving Loony Party 147 (0.53%, +0.15%)
Norman Scarth - Anti-Crime Party 34 (0.12%)

Labour Majority of 6,956(24.86%) (compared to 18,500 in 2005)
11.06% swing Lab to Lib Dems

Victorious MP is full of local pride

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Another Day, Another Political Story...

The dirtiest trick I have seen(locally)regarding flyers put out by any party in any election(and I am talking decades)has arrived the day before the election.I am saying this purely as an observer.Not because I support a particular party.

I do have my ideas but more than ever I do find it difficult to nail my colours to a particular mast.The flyer has been produced in the Lib Dem colours and the Lib Dem logo has been doctored.

It's full of statements from people only named as Glenda from and Local Resident Maxine said etc...One example being Jim from Newcastle who says "The Lib Dem candidate said he'd always put me first when he wanted my vote. Now he's saying the same thing in Sedgefield. You can't trust a word he says"

Even if this quote is true. You work for the people of the area you are successfully voted in as an MP. That's commonsense.

Initially, I said as I picked it up "It's another flyer from the Lib Dem candidate" That was the reaction they wanted. Then I realised it was a spoof. I was at a loss to see who had issued it.. I could not see any reference so thought its just someone that dislikes the Lib Dem's etc...and then in writing so small you need extremely good eyesight(or a magnifying glass)I am not sure it can be measured...I find it has been printed and promoted by the person who issues all the printed material for...The Labour candidate.

Its been put out so late(the day before the election)so the rival candidate has little or no chance to refute or answer back. As a voter this tactic would make me look to someone else or possibly decide not to vote.It is a nasty piece of work. It goes beyond spin. Its too late now but I really think the Lib Dem party needs to take this to the media and through any Parliamentary Standards procedure that exists to see it doesn't happen again.

I have no problem with things being brought up as fact and some things being slanted in a certain way but this isn't right. If needs be have a debate or discussion with your rival. But this is gutter politics. Follow this route and anything goes.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Dirty Deed Has Been Done...

Our postal votes have finally been filled in and mailed. I think I know who will be elected. It's a safe seat(or has been for around 70 years)But if this town had behaved the same as it did for the local election, probably not. But to have the same effect this trend would have to be followed across the whole constituency.

Whoever wins it will be a short lived victory because there has to be a national election within two years. And we'll go through it all again.

In passing today, I noticed another candidate has travelled North hoping to canvass(using another empty retail unit in the town centre that everyone wants to save)didn't seem particularly busy, he represents some party that has Religion in its title. I think he's based somewhere like Middlesex but hey, The Raving Looney Candidate comes from Hampshire.

Meantime, did I mention last week that the Labour Candidate brought in the heavy brigade?

We had some lightweight soap star in town telling us to vote for him as he is the local man and knows and cares for the area. It was none other than the vicar out of Emmerdale plated by John Middleton. The flyer had pictures of him in the town on Market Day.

A week later and the "Big Guns" are brought in...don't know if she did a personal appearence as the new flyer has been prepared before the visit as by the time it would've been despatched with photo's of her visit, the election would be over. So who was the next "Soap" star to grace the campaign? Coronation Street's Vera Duckworth(Actress Liz Dawn)

So all it takes it seems to swing a local election is to bring in people who appear as character in a tv soap, what does that say about how the candidate sees his electorate? Liz seems a nice person but the script on the flyer has her urging us to vote for him because he's local and really cares about the area.

How does she know?

Unfortunately, the stunt will probably will work.

BTW the neighbour who had his sign broken...has put another logo back onto the end of the post.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Someone's Knocking At The Door...

I know it's our right to say who we are voting for and for many years you'll find people putting notices at their windows saying who they are supporting but this is the first time in my life I have seen this kind of sign at someone's home. Which I can see from my own. Discreet it is not!

UPDATE July 15, 2007:Sometime in the night someone has been busy and removed the sign so all that remains is the pole...I'm amazed that it lasted this long.

The following are not the greatest photo's in the world(taken behind double glazing and with the strongest digital zoom lens setting possible) but they show the prospective Labour Candidate canvassing and in the remainder with his Campaign Manager who until recently was a member of the cabinet in the Government.

That's Hilary Armstrong. I did not know it was them knocking at our door but from what I saw very few doors were opened and within minutes they were going back in the direction of the Town Centre and their HQ. What I did notice what looked like a load of helpers who could've been students, they did not look very old probably intending to become Parliament researchers and helpers.

Like so many MP's these days Hilary has her own website.
Here's another link from The Guardian Newspaper site.

Save Our Town(2)

Update:A local freesheet(The Advertiser) has popped through my letterbox just a few minutes ago and amongst the coverage of the By-election and its emphasis on my town and playing on the "Save Our Town" aspect of the campaign even the Lib Dem candidate has echoed what I had said in my previous entry...

I quote:"The point of petitions is to raise controversial issues and demand action. This petition is not addressed to anybody, it doesn't demand any action and quite simply I'd ask what is the point of it? The problems and the neglect of the town centre are caused by Labour and have had the MP for over 70 years."

The only thing I may disagree on is mentioning that just because they've held the area for 70 years is why the town's retail centre is neglected. I'm sure that you can question and point to failings in any local area and any local party politics with any party point scoring against another and the people living in the area are the losers but as this town is relatively new and took off after the Second World War. I would say our problems started in the last 25-30 years and involves selling the centre off and large property companies based in London taking the tenancy over and lots of other business deals I am not privy to.

Had the town centre remained in local hands this redevelopment probably would've progressed(we'd hope)more smoothly and quickly. We'll never know of course.

We do have an Independent candidate who was a shopkeeper in the town and even he says(according to the newspaper article)that the attention on the town is Window Dressing to get an MP in parliament.

We have lost many shops over the years. And having visited his shop over the years business did drop considerably and then the building it was situated was to be demolished seemingly quite some time ago...that's still planned but as I write this...it's still standing, boarded up and falling into even greater disrepair.

I think I am right to say it's the last 25-30 years that the town has suffered as the paper quotes him as saying "Having a background of 27 years of vast experience running my own shop I have first hand knowledge of all issues and concerns relating to town centres."

I'm not sure that I have to abide by the same rules as broadcasters as views expressed in a blog are personal but I would hope on what I see as a news story I am unbiased.

However, I will list those candidates that are standing for fairness and to give you an idea of the range of political views being offered in this constituency. Of course there are the usual candidates that are unlikely to retain their deposits.

Bookies put the Conservative Candidate at the longest odds of the three main parties and Labour at the shortest so surprise, surprise the Lib Dem's are in the middle. Only 8 days to go...

Paul Gittins - Independent
Phillip Wilson - Labour
Graham Michael Robb - Conservative
Greg Stone - Liberal Democrat
Norman Scarth - Anti-Crime Party
Andrew Spence - British National Party
Tim Granger - Christian Party Proclaiming Christ's Lordship
Stephen Paul Gash - The English Democrats Putting England First Party
Alan Howling Laud Hope - Monster Raving Loony Party
Toby Horton - UK Independence Party
Christopher Michael Haine - Green Party

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Save Our Town

I'm hoping this is my last entry on politics for a little while. The latest is prompted by the resignation of the local MP that has served this area for 13 years and became leader of his party and finally for around 10 years Prime Minister of the UK.

I am not for or against any particular party but see this as a news story.

I hoped that there was a way that time could've been put aside for the area that voted our previous Member of Parliament into office and allowed his political career to succeed, to give some attention to our concerns.

I'm sure some could point to some instances that show this was the case but the local press saw things very differently.

After resigning I was hopeful the term would be completed before taking up another high profile position on the world stage but as I had prophesied many months ago(perhaps years)the decision was made to leave parliament altogether. In a letter sent to constituents it says that we deserve a member of Parliament that could give full attention to our needs.

Well, we have a local election being rushed through for July 19th. Instead of choosing councillors for local government, its to choose the MP that will represent this area.

Ironically, I mentioned in a previous entry a leaflet and some press releases that came out around the last local election regarding the delay on improvements to my town and how local councillors(now ex officials)mentioned things were moving and they had requested or asked our MP to step in and help negotiate over the problems. A community paper published by the local council droped through my letterbox days later and in the text it states that he continues to take a keen interest and that he had called a meeting over the problems. Well, that is past history now.

Suddenly, the spin put onto the campaign is all about our town and there is a petition to sign called "Save Our Town" it could just get them the votes that they need. Dare I suggest and that's all it can be, the increase in presence in my town is because this town is the only one to give the local ruling party a kicking in the last local election and using the demise of the town centre as the rally cry may see them getting the disillusioned voter back on board. They don't have to convince the rest of the area as its seen as a safe seat whether Nationally or Locally.

The question is...who are they giving the petition to when it's completed? If it's the local councils, they are run by the same party as the Labour Candidate. A couple of retail units in the older part of town are being taken again after some years but nothing exciting...the last one is offering to cash cheques not unlike a pawnbroker might and BTW we have one them already.

A local market trader told me earlier today....they were out with balloons and making a fuss of the children and babies.Is that still all it takes to win the hearts and minds to your political ideals?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Patronising, Chummy And Empty Headed...

What seems to be trend in certain sections of radio broadcasting in the UK is breaking out. A lot of what could be very good speech/news/lifestyle type shows are going for presenters and guest so light in their style, you feel you have wasted time listening and where I would welcome a way divert some time and relax(I'm not asking that all we have is serious and dull)I enjoy a laugh as much as anyone but even the lightness being offered is poor. It's like listening to polite inane chatter at a small exclusive dinner party.

It's not on commercial radio but on one of the BBC's main speech orientated networks supposedly aimed at a news and sports audience.

And just so commercial radio doesn't feel left out, one of the few speech stations in that sector now has a daily programme to promote healthy living and lifestyles but again though getting the information out there is important and many of the guests talk sense, it also gets a lot of fuzzy, airy fairy guests who IMHO are making a nice living out of what is a load of bunkum. And the presenter is so light and inoffensive, I feel I want to turn off even if occasionally it has something that should be heard. He's too good to be true. Today, he spent what seemed like ages apologising because he didn't bike into work as he promised yesterday(and then proceeds to give excuses why and what he's doing the rest of the day and therefore hopped onto a London bus)

Or he'll start off his first show of the week apologising because he enjoyed a lovely Sunday Lunch with family and friends.

Unless, you have a medical complaint not of your doing or are taking medicine that affects you in some way. It's common sense how to look after yourself. Most things will do you now harm and its a case of everything in moderation, if you fall away one day, you make up for it the next day.

If you can, a little exercise is a must and to some extent watching that you take in less calories than are burned off but it's more of a worry to me if you spend all your waking hours thinking about dieting and chastising yourself for doing something a little naughty by treating yourself. How boring life would be.

The media and by that I mean books, television, magazines etc... create as many problems as they cure and unfortunately too many people let it all wash over them and never question or make decisions for themselves. I know some need help but all these programmes play on the vulnerable.

Just as some of the so called TV shows that exist in the US and UK that claim to be helping people with problems but actually practically throw their subjects into a bear pit with a studio audience often laughing at them or shouting abuse. And I think you can prove these people are in serious trouble by the subjects they are willing to discuss in public and be seen on national television just as often someone is brought on supposedly not knowing why until they walk out in front of the cameras but I don't know about you but if you were invited along to a TV studio for no particular reason, wouldn't the alarm bells start ringing and if you walked out and saw what was being played out, wouldn't you turn around on your heels and disappear?

Also, don't you have to sign a contract allowing the material for release. It's a sleazy side of broadcasting these days. Maybe, its always been there but I would say I became more aware of it in the last 25 years or so which is quite a large chunk of my television viewing time but thankfully I don't watch. I have seen enough to say I have a right to an opinion but that's as far as it goes.

The worst thing is that so many of these programmes then try to excuse themselves by offering help and counselling to offset the criticism of viewers or possibly broadcasting regulators. To me it's the least that they can do.

Digital Radio In The UK Can Be Pants...

We have music stations offering in some cases music neglected elsewhere and what happens? Some of the stations close and some broadcast in mono. If its music originally recorded in Mono, it doesn't matter but best part of it is recorded in stereo so to offer it any other way and at a reduced bitrate is just crazy.

So it's been a while since I scanned the stations available. Now, there may be an excuse for broadcasting some traffic reports especially as I see it when the weather is very extreme but it makes more sense to listen to a local station to get upto date and immediate help but who would sit and listen to a station that does nothing but broadcast traffic reports and nothing else? Well, someone thinks it's a winner because I have found a station doing just that.

I'm sorry but I just see it as wasting another space on what is proving to be an overcrowded and over hyped medium of broadcasting. Well, if we had gone for a different system as other parts of the world have and we look as though we plan to many years in the future(missing out until then)it might be ok and there might be space for this station offering a niche market.

I resent it taking up room that another station could use to greater use. I haven't listened long enough to see how it's financing itself(if it's through advertising revenue)who really sees this station bringing in enough people to make it viable?

I also thought that RDS which many radio's in a car have within the technology was there to interrupt to give appropriate traffic information if something important was needed to be known in the area you are motoring. The idea being it will override whatever station you are tuned to.

Maybe I'm wrong. I know that radio and television is not there just for me and others have a right to have something to suit them.

Update:I understand that the winner of the new licence and next stage of DAB stations will be announced on Friday July 6th by the broadcasting regulator Ofcom.