Monthly Archives: September 2012

Just Kidding

Today the Lady in Malcolm’s Life and the Pert Young Piece headed off to risk their credit cards against London’s mercantile finest. This is what gets called “retail therapy”.

Malcolm was left, bereft, solitary, and told to have a meal ready by seven p.m.

What’s to do?

Well, down to Highbury and Islington, catch the “Overground” to Wapping, and investigate a couple of boozers in Ratcliff(e) Highway. Wapping station, incidentally, is one of the most likely locations of Execution Dock, where we shall look in shortly

Malcolm’s emotional tie here is his Dear Old Dad, who was a Thames Division copper only a year or two before the picture below. That’s the River Thames police, the oldest official police force in the world. Therefore Wapping Police Station is also the oldest in the world. It’s also another possible site for Execution Dock.

In these degenerate days, it’s merely the Marine Support Unit.

Shiver me timbers, matey!

A couple of doors short of Wapping police station is the Captain Kidd.

Now, don’t get carried away here. Curb your romantic propensities. It’s a bit of contrivance. Despite its venerable appearance — and it was carved out of another of those warehouses and counting houses, the pub dates back all of a couple of decades.

It’s hardly prepossessing from the street: you even have to look for the hanging sign to locate it. You enter by an alley-way, and all is revealed. Which is worth waiting for.

For once the pub interior decorators worked with what they’ve got. The result is more than passable. Banquettes around the wall under non-memorabililia of the eponymous Kidd fore-and-aft. Other tables in the space of the room. A peninsular bar. Those fine windows and the magnificent view of the Upper Pool of London. Slip out the side doors, to the terrace, and it’s even better. It’s a Sam Smith’s house, so Old Brewery Bitter at well-below-London prices. There’s the standard pub menu, too (and, it is rumoured, a restaurant upstairs). All plus points.

The really instructive point is the mixed clientèle. Wapping hasn’t forsaken its working-class roots. The river side of the Highway has the seven-figure apartments with full river views. A bit back are the Peabody Buildings and and the local-authority flats. Both sides of the community seem comfortable here.

A very political pirate

The story of William Kidd is well known: the son of the Greenock manse who went abroad to make his fortune, served King (Billy, since you ask) and country

  • and Governor Codrington against the French in the Caribbean
  • and Richard Coote — the earl of Bellomont and newly designated governor of New York and the Massachusetts Bay — against the Dutch in the New York colony.

He had already made some powerful political friends (and, the obverse of that coin, similarly enemies) when he  fell in with another conniving Scot, Robert Livingstone, who owned lands and businesses in New York. Livingstone and Kidd and Coote cooked up a scheme, to get London merchant interests to finance a scheme to clean up the piracy of the Indian Ocean, and turn a pretty profit. So Livingstone, Kidd and Coote had their their names on the prospectus, but behind them covertly were the Whig grandees: the earls of Shrewsbury, Orford, and Romney and John Lord Somers.

In April 1696 Kidd left London, kitted out with the potent Adventure Galley. He sailed first to New York, where he recruited some ninety hardened pirates, and then set sail for Madagascar, which was HQ for Indian Ocean pirates. Rather than take on the pirates, Kidd then went north and raided the pilgrims in the Red Sea. he found the pilgrim convoy protected by an Indiaman, and so his scheme was flushed out into the open. Kidd then took his Adventure Galley to prey along the Indian coast. Those pirates in Kidd’s crew were less than satisfied with the results, so far, of their efforts; and Kidd seems to have been threatened with mutiny. Somehow he laid out and killed a gunner, William Moore, with a metal-banded barrel. This would have consequences.

Back in Madagascar Kidd was in full league with the local pirates. He had a bit of luck taking half a dozen ships — though only two were French, and so covered by his privateering licence. By now the East India Company, under pressure from the Mughals, wanted Kidd’s head. Influence was peddled back in London, and Kidd was an outlaw. Coote, in New York, was told to lay hands on Kidd when he showed up.


Kidd retraced his outward voyage, first via the Caribbean, where he discovered he was on the Most Wanted list, then along the east coast of the Americas, down-sizing his crew and depositing his considerable winnings (just where is one of the great treasure-hunting myths and legends). He retained just enough to tempt Coote into a deal. Coote knew which side his bread was buttered: he arrested Kidd, and sent him (and some remaining loot) to London. The rest of Kidd’s wealth (about £6,000) was requisitioned by Coote as “expenses”, and went to buy land in Greenwich Village.

In London Kidd was approached by the Tories, now firmly in power, to peach on his former Whig backers. He refused (presumably because he wasn’t prepared to annoy anyone at this stage). The Whig lords, who stood too close for comfort to charges of treason, quietly let Kidd go to trial. Kidd was found guilty of piracy, and the murder of William Moore. About all that was remarkable about this stitch-up of a trial is that Kidd’s privateering documents had gone missing, and were turned up only in the last century. Those documents wouldn’t have saved Kidd, but their absence goes to show that someone in authority had his card marked.

At Execution Dock on 23 May 1701 Kidd was swung from the gallows. The rope broke. Its replacement worked a treat.

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On the way to a bum deal

Doubting Thomas was more perceptive than he knew:

B****r me boy. North Norfolk’s a going to be as posh as Southwold and Aldeburgh with the Londoners coming down for their country weekends. When do the artsy fartsy culture fests start? Poor old Alan Smethurst’ll be spinning in his grave.

No sooner said, than provided.

The Pert Young Piece does an early Saturday gymnasium session, and returns with the Saturday papers. Nice. Out of the Guardian‘s dinky plastic jacket falls that curious Guide — doubtless indispensable for couch potatoes, clubbers and so full of totally-pointless listings. Hence it goes ignored by Malcolm.

On this occasion, by chance it fell open alongside Malcolm’s coffee, at page 37, events (all headings are tastefully lower-case). And this:

Norfolk F00d & Drink Festival

As this annual East Anglian event approaches its end, there’s still plenty of culinary-based fun to be had. Forget talk of nostril-sizzling mustard, the highlights are a lot sweeter with the scone competion at the family-friendly Wroxham Barns and an open day at the Institute of Food Research, where future Ferran Adriàs and René Redzepis can find out how our bodies interact with food. It’s not all serious science though: there’s a disco with music inspired by food proteins (Soya sub-bass anyone?) and a giant inflatable colon to explore.

Malcolm freely admits he has never heard of Ferran Adrià and René Redzepi (though he assumes both of those were in the plural above, and included simply to test keyboard-knowledge of accented characters).

But … pause for wonder … “a giant inflatable colon to explore”?

Norfolk was never quite that perverse. But it would definitely have amused the Singing Postman.


As that Smethurst gem plays, the Lady in Malcolm’s Life opines:

“If that’s the Singing Postman, you seriously need help.”

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Here is an election result, for Norfolk County Council, you probably missed:

It’s for Clenchwarton and King’s Lynn South:

  • Alex Kempe (Lab) 824
  • Paul Foster (Con) 424
  • Kate Syers (LibDem) 282
  • Michael Stone (UKIP) 271

Labour gain.

At the last outing the Tory candidate, the late David Harwood, had a smidgeon over 39% of the vote. This time round Labour took 45.5%. Yes, the turn-out was just 22.5% — but that’s par-for-the-course in mid-term local elections.

Labour gain from Conservative.

The real issue (apart from Labour increasing its representation by about a third) was the incinerator. Back in June the County Council (a massive Tory majority) went A-OK for a waster incinerator at Saddlebow. The ConDem government was set up to offer Cory Wheelabrator £91 million in PFI payments to construct the thing.

The local people were less than enthusiastic. West Norfolk Council ran an plebiscite with 65,00o voting against the plan. Every legal action made by the district council was closed down. When a Lynn resident, Joy Franklin, e-mailed Cliff Jordan, Norfolk County Council’s Tory “cabinet member for efficiency” to clarify his views in support of the incinerator, she was told:

I have no intention of answering any enquiry you ever make, rude and badly behaved people I have no time for and that includes you.

Have a happy life, which I doubt you will have.

By this stage there was something of a Peasants’ Revolt impending. For once, Eric Pickles, in Westminster, took heed, and called in the application. In effect, this resets the whole argument.

There’s a footnote to all this, which the Conservative Home website missed.

The campaign group against the incinerator, KLWIN, opposed the election of Tory Paul Foster in Clenchwarton and King’s Lynn South. He had conspired and plotted against the Tory councillors on the King’s Lynn Borough Council (who themselves opposed the incinerator). Meanwhile, the candidate for the vacant Borough Council seat was Sheila Young — another Tory, but who was on record supporting the campaign against the incinerator. She won, with a handsome majority.

Now Mr Cameron, what was your guff about “localism”?

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Overy and out

That previous post, which ended with Bedfords trying to flog a cottage at “Burnham Overy Town”, was milling in Malcolm’s mind a while after.

You see, he was along Bankside again last weekend. The Pert Young Piece had a groundlings ticket for the opening night of Twelfth Night at the Globe, and it is essential to reserve a place at the front of the queue. The Lady in his Life and Malcolm were nominated as place-holders.

Since you ask, yes — PYP was greatly impressed; and thoroughly recommends the production. The Globe run, however, is sold out — though it transfers to the Apollo Theatre at the start of November.

That isn’t the point. The stroll back towards London Bridge and the 43 bus (not excluding a brief moment of refreshment at the Thameside Inn) is. At least in part.

When I go, I wanna go like Elsie …

Or, as Juanita.

On the way towards the Globe the Cathedral bell had been counting the long numbers of a death toll. On the way back there was a merry peal. The Southwark version of a New Orleans Jazz Band funeral, perchance.


That short walk takes us along Clink Street. Far more historic than the ersatz Golden Hinde (though the kids may not agree) is the residue of the Bishop of Winchester’s Palace.

Which, in a way, is why we, following Will Shakespeare and all that mob, are here in the first place.

The City of London was very respectable. The authorities had a down on most forms of entertainment. Bear-bailing, ratting, cock-fighting, bull-baiting, brothels, low-dive boozers and theatres — all the things that make for an enjoyable life — were singly and collectively a no-no north of London Bridge.

On the Southwark side, the Bishop of Winchester held sway. Either he was a very laid back bish, or away in Winchester doing his bishoping, or he recognised good ways to turn many a semi-honest groat. So Southwark was a happening place. Pause for Stephen Whatley including this in the three volumes of his 1751 England’s gazetteer: or, an accurate description of all the cities, towns, and villages of the Kingdom:

In the times of popery, here were no less than 18 houses on the Bankside, licensed by the Bps. of Winchester … to keep whores, who were, therefore, commonly called Winchester Geese.

Not just in the times of popery, Stephen, my friend. It was still very much the mode in Good Queen Bess’s Golden Days. We have no less an authority than Will Shakespeare himself for that. Not just in I Henry VI, Act I, scene iii, but also in  Pandarus’ epilogue to Troilus & Cressida:

Brethren and sisters of the hold-door trade,
Some two months hence my will shall here be made:
It should be now, but that my fear is this,
Some galled goose of Winchester would hiss:
Till then I’ll sweat and seek about for eases,
And at that time bequeathe you my diseases.

After Clink Street we pass that Golden Hinde. It is moored in St Mary Overie’s Dock (which seems to have been redesignated as Winchester Square), and there is an official plaque to inform us:

This dock is a free landing place at which the parishioners of St. Saviour’s Parish are entitled to land goods free of toll.

So we are back to Overie

There are two versions of the origin of this word. One is etymological, and straightforward. The other is a fine piece of London fancy. Take your choice.

Southwark, from the London perspective, is “over there”, the other side of London Bridge. London taxi drivers still have this belief that sarf uv de riva is alien territory, especially around pub-closing time. We have a perfectly good Old English adjective ofere and its variants — but always feminine or neuter in gender. Middle English has ufore as an adverb. Hence: the Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Saviour and St Mary Overie. Job done?

Well, perhaps not.

John Stow has a short account in his Survey of London:

The originall foundation of London bridge, by report of Bartholomew Linsted, alias Fowle, last Prior of S. Marie Oueries Church in Southwarke was this: a Ferrie being kept in place where now the Bridge is builded, at length the Ferriman & his wife deceasing, left the same Ferrie to their onely daughter, a maiden named Marie, which with the goodes left by her Parents, as also with the profites rising of the said Ferrie, builded a house of Sisters, in place where now standeth the east part of S. Marie Oueries Church aboue the Queere, where she was buried, vnto the which house she gaue the ouersight & profites of the Ferrie, but afterwards the said house of sisters being conuerted into a colledge of priests, the priests builded the Bridge (of Timber) as all other the great Bridges of this land were, and from time to time kept the same in good reparations, till at length considering the great charges of repayring the same, there was by ayd of the Citizens of London, and others, a Bridge builded with Arches of stone, as shall be shewed.

It all makes an instructive story …

The long version  of that, and less decent but more London, is John Overs was more than a bit tight with his money — and he had made a fortune running his waterman business. He was very wary of suitors for Mary, his only daughter and therefore heiress. He was convinced — with some reason — that the one in particular to whom she seemed attracted had a greater interest in inheriting the business than in the person of Mary.

He was so much of a miser he faked his own death, and involved daughter Mary as an accomplice. The intent was to save a day’s vittles among his servants, who would be expected to fast until the funeral. The servants, alas, were so taken with the old bloke’s apparent decease that, far from fasting, they held a party. This incensed the “corpse” to the extent that he burst out of his winding-sheet, fuming, furious and frothing. One of the servants was shocked by what seemed an apparition of the Devil himself, took an oar which lay conveniently to hand, confronted and brained the risen dead.

The servant was put on trial for murder, and acquitted. Overs was held responsible for his own death.

Mary’s suitor, hearing she had now inherited, rushed to Southwark to seal the deal. Unfortunately in his haste his horse threw him, and he broke his neck.

Mary, two deaths on her conscience, had yet a further problem. Her father had been adjudged a suicide, and properly was refused Christian burial. With some difficulty, and a bit of palm-greasing, she prevailed upon the friars of Bermondsey Abbey, in the absence of their abbot, to allow a bit of spare ground for a grave.

When the abbot returned he took an interest in this new grave. Realising the circumstances, that his friars had accommodated a suicide and taken money for it, the abbot ordered the body be exhumed, loaded onto a donkey, and the donkey set to wander where it might.The donkey headed off down the Old Kent Road until it reached a roadside spring, dedicated to Thomas Beckett — St. Thomas à Waterings.

Chaucer’s pilgrims passed this way one April day around 1386 or 1387, guided by the inn-keeper, Harry Bailly, until they reached the second milestone out of the Borough. Their horses took a draught from St Thomas’s watering, and steadied themselves for another stretch.

Let Geoff the Shoemaker’s son (there he is, posthumously and piss-elegantly represented, right, though Malcolm prefers the Paul Bettany version) pick up the pace:

Up roos our host, and was our aller cok,
And gadrede us togidre, alle in a flok,
And forth we riden, a litel more than pas,
Unto the watering of seint Thomas.
And there our host bigan his hors areste,
And seyde; ‘Lordinges, herkneth if yow leste.
Ye woot your forward,and I it yow recorde.
If even-song and morwe-song acorde,
Lat se now who shal telle the firste tale.

However, this became the place for executions in north Surrey. In Tudor times it was the grimmest of spots.

Here in 1539, for denying the supremacy of Henry VIII, the Vicar of Wandsworth, his chaplain, and two others, were hung, drawn, and quartered. 25% of Sir Thomas Wyatt, also put through that butchery for rebellion, in April 1554 was put on display here. It remained a grisly place of execution down to 1740.

Our wandering donkey (remember him?) arrived at St Thomas’s spring, and paused for needed asinine refreshment. In that process the beast mislaid its burden; and so departs from this tale of woe.

The decaying and rather ripe remains of John Overs now lay beneath a common gibbet. Nothing to be done: they had to be buried in disgrace and ignominy at the crossroads, in unconsecrated ground.

Mary Overs (remember her?), stricken with guilt,  refused any other proposals of marriage; and retired to the nunnery, settling her considerable estate on the Church of St Saviours — henceforth the Church of St Saviours and St Mary Overie.

Believe all that as you wish.

Burnham Overy, Malcolm?

Ah, yes: where we started and to which we must return, if only for the purposes of literary art.

Let us refer to Francis White’s History, Gazetteer and Directory of Norfolk from 1854:

Burnham Overy parish includes the large village of Burnham Overy Staith, situated nearly two miles N.N.E. of Burnham Market, on a rivulet or creek which crosses the salt marshes by two channels to the ocean …

So, it’s the Burnham “over the creek”? Not quite Old Father Thames, but as good as you’ll get in north Norfork. So, if Doubting Thomas wants to take further offence

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The past is ever with us

Just back a while, Malcolm was marvelling how certain, rather inconsequential posts, still keep attracting “hits”.

To that list he’d like to add one more: about a hill that became a mountain.

Not strictly true: it was really Malcolm reflecting that he had been born perhaps a dozen feet above mean sea level (to be honest, halve that — except the allowance for the first-floor bedroom), and how he had “risen” in the world ever since.

That would make him like Finnegan — though without the hod.

Contrived cue for (barely relevant) song

OK —blame it on yersel’s now. Ye twisted de ol’ fella’s arm:

At least it’s not that appalling Dropkick Murphys punk rendering. So be grateful.

Wooden? better believe it!

Now, also from Norfolk, there’s this:

The trunk of a giant oak-tree, thought by experts to be more than 5000 years old, has been unearthed from a field in Norfolk.

The 44ft (13.4m) Fenland Black Oak, or bog oak, was found buried in farmland at Methwold Hythe, near Downham Market.

Planks cut from the trunk will be dried over seven months in a specialist kiln.

A spokesman said the tree will make “a breathtaking table for public display giving an insight into the grandeur of these ancient giant forests.”

Bog oak is generally found buried in farmland.

One of the rarest forms of timber in England, when dry it is said to be “comparable to some of the world’s most expensive tropical hardwoods”.

Experts have said the Norfolk bog oak is “the largest-ever intact 5,000-year-old sub-fossilised trunk of an ancient giant oak”, but believe it could be just a section — possibly as small as a quarter —  of the original tree.

If he’s reading that aright, a “giant oak” trunk could rise two hundred feet high and more.

The trunk is on its way to the Building Crafts College in Stratford, East London. Out of that will come a huge “jubilee table, which will be gifted to the nation.

Note well: there is already a small civil war brewing.

Nor for nothing are there age-old Devil’s Dykes to keep the two sides apart.

One side (the honourable and deserving Norfolk-types) reckon this is a Norfolk oak, from — as you read authoritatively above — Methwold Hythe, near Downham Market. The mealymouthed Cambridgeshire untermenschen, via that partisan journal, the Cambridgeshire Timesdescribe it as coming out of  the fens around Ely, specifically the fen peat of Southery.

It’s ours! Malcolm tells you!

What Malcolm doesn’t tell you is that he should be none too assured of his Norfolk roots, oaken or not.

He has a great-grandfather born (like his great-great-grandfather) at Wisbech St Mary.

And that is in Cambridgeshire.

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Dumb cluck

When today’s Times [£] runs out of “news” (it’s page 20), Simon de Bruxelles (d’ya want sprouts with that?) gives us:

£150,000 hen house is just chicken feed for millionaire

Do a quick squint around the rest of today’s press, and you have the complete set of plans for this erection:

Let’s break through the Murdoch pay-wall for a peep:

One of Britain’s richest men is building a stately home — for his chickens.

Crispin Odey, a 53-year-old hedge fund manager, ism erecting the Palladian-style hen house at his country estate in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.

His birds will enjoy the run of a property built from local stone that features stone colonnades and windows made from English oak, topped by a decorative “anthem” design.

The palatial premises were designed by Smallwood Architects based in Chelsea, West London, which is known for designing multimillion-pound dream homes, though usually not for chickens.

The hen-coop will stand 16ft high and cover 775 sq ft, roughly the size of a typical two-bedroom flat.

The £150,000 building will replace a dilapidated warehouse at Eastbach Court, Mr Odey’s Grade II listed home in the village of English Bicknor. Mr Odey, who has a personal fortune estimated at £455 million, hit the headlines when he predicted the credit crunch.

Despite foreseeing the economic collapse, Mr Odey appears to have confidence in the property market, for chickens at least. Since planning permission was granted in 2010 he has applied to make the premises 30 per cent larger than originally planned.

Forest of Dean District Council and his local parish council raised no objections to the structure, which is designed to blend in with the main house and not “mock the nearby listed building’s historic features”. The doors will be painted Hague Blue to “match the doors around Eastbach Court”, according to the plans.

In her report to the planning committee, Anna Welsh, a planning officer, said: “Whilst it could be considered that the design and materials are rather grandiose for its purpose as a chicken shed, it is in keeping with the character and appearance of the listed building.

“It also replaces a concrete block building which was not in keeping with an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The chicken house is an individual and unique structure within the landscape and these materials will ensure that its character and appearance is enhanced.”

Mr Odey runs Odey Asset Management, which controls around £4.5 billion of assets and made £64 million in 2008 by successfully gambling on bank shares falling. Mr Odey was listed as the sixth wealthiest fund manager in The Sunday Times Rich List 2012.

His wife Nichola Pease is a former chief executive of J O Hambro Capital Management and is on the board of Shroders.

But, wait a moment, we’ve met Mr Odey previously!

Before Malcolm Redfellow’s Home Service became so unique, there was also the World Service on Blogspot. There, back in September 2009, we had Malcolm narrating the sad death of Declan Ganley’s Libertas, and his attempt to rescue Ireland from the European Union. The late Brian Lenihan went ballistic when he:

told a press conference in Dublin that “one of the main backers of Mr Declan Ganley, who has lately taken up the cudgels against Lisbon again, is a London-based hedge fund which could hardly be described as being interested in the economic wellbeing of this country.” In fact, “quite a number of these hedge funds have taken out specific bets” on the insolvency of Ireland , Mr Lenihan said.

Lenihan had discovered, from the UK Electoral Commission, Odey had divvied up £3,000 in cash and £13,964 otherwise to Libertas.

Malcolm’s account then went on:

Odey has previous political form:

Hedge-fund Boss Crispin Odey has threatened to move his firm out of Britain to avoid the 50% income-tax rate on high-earners…

“We are seriously considering leaving,” said Odey, who runs the £3 billion Odey Asset Management. “This government is not interested in keeping London alive as a financial centre. Hedge funds are not yet flying but they are fluttering. Everyone is thinking about leaving.”

There’s also the curious business that:

he had added £28million to his personal wealth in a year that his £3billion fund management group had been among those short selling the stocks of failing banks — notably Bradford & Bingley.

It would, of course, be invidious to note that Odey’s wife, another banker, just happened to have been on the board of Northern Rock, with — doubtless — insights into other boardrooms. Odey is co-treasurer of the Tory Party (which may be relevant here), and believes Britain is going to hell in a handcart:

Foreigners have been busy selling gilts and the Bank of England busy buying them. The answer is that if you carry on, that is called Zimbabwean and that is monetisation. Probably we are going to have a visit to the IMF.’

Obviously Mr Odey reckons himself an authority above mere national governments.

But there’s more!

Back in 1st October 2009 Malcolm engaged with the Tory shill, Iain Dale (then running his Iain Dale’s Diary). This was recorded here on the Home Service:

This mid-day Iain Dale set about a Daily Mail style defamation of David Miliband, coupled with a defence of the creepy Kaminzi and the other eastern European allies the Tories have mustered up.

Malcolm deposited the following on the thread, for Iain Dale’s moderation:

In the modern Tory Party, if you speak your mind and are seen to be out of line, you lose your job (consider Alan Duncan);

If you vote with your conscience, because your principles cannot compromise with some very dodgy characters, including Kaminski, you are given the heave-ho (consider Edward McMillan-Scott);

If you donate to political parties standing against Tories — say £13,000 here to Declan Ganley’s Libertas and £25,000 there to George Hargreaves’ theocratic, homophobic, anti-abortion campaign (the “Christian Party”, as of today, had no other policies on its website) — , you are celebrated as a co-treasurer of the Tory Party. Well, Crispin Odey did, and is.

Now, lecture the rest of us on what we should do and what we should say.

No: I’m not calling it hypocrisy. I’m merely saying that in the upper reaches of Toryism, money (£30,000 in Odey’s case) speaks louder than words or votes.

The response was:

Iain Dale said…

Who is Crispin Odey? Never heard of him.

October 01, 2009 3:51 PM

Malcolm replied:

Oh, Iain @ 3:51 PM, do try to keep up to speed.

Crispin Odey is one of the few leading lights in the City who genuinely qualify as a “grandee”. The renowned investment manager and founder of Odey Asset Management, who has just collected an annual performance bonus of almost £28 million, is married to Nichola Pease, the chief executive of JO Hambro Capital Management and part of the dynasty that founded Barclays.

He and his wife are, between them, worth £300 million, according to the Sunday Times Rich List, although that was reduced from £338 million last year.

That’s all from:

As you will see there, and elsewhere (the Daily Mail money pages also like Mr Odey), Ms Pease was an independent director of Northern Rock, into the bargain. He and she are touted as (ahem!) the “Posh and Becks of the City”.

October 01, 2009 4:12 PM

So there was a further example of Mr Odey’s eccentric approach to loose change:

  • First his money, the use and abuse of it was above the law. Irish electoral law is pretty elastic (as recent former Taoiseachs have exploited); but it properly looks askance at imperialistic foreigners muscling in to lobby.
  • Second, how can a Tory co-treasurer (we met another of those in the morally-flexible Peter Cruddas) finance no fewer than three political campaigns — two of which were in direct competition with the Tories?

It all seems pretty fowl stuff.

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Filed under banking, BBC, blogging, Britain, broken society, Conservative family values, Conservative Party policy., Daily Mail, Ed Miliband, Elections, EU referendum, Iain Dale, Irish politics, Law, politics, Private Eye, sleaze., Times, Tories.

“Pretentious? Moi?”

Over the weekend there was a story that silver-tongued Andrew Mitchell, whose Ciceronian eloquence has fascinated us the last week, had a letter from a constituent:

I see you’ve been a banker, and now an MP. Do you intend to retrain as an estate agent?

So, from troubles of the world, we turn to realtors  — as Malcolm’s Noo Joisey resident daughter would insist: she’s trilingual in English, American, and, when necessary, Tottenham.

In particular this gem from Sowerbys:

A charming, three double bedroom link-detached cottage, situated in the fishermen’s quarter of the old part of Wells-next-the-Sea, just a short walk from the Quay.

Le quartier des pêcheurs

The fishermen’s quarter of the old part of Wells-next-the-Sea

O, my Dogger Lane, Wells, my Newfoundland, 
My kingdom, safest when with one man mann’d, 
My mine of precious stones, my empery ; 
How am I blest in thus discovering thee!

Now, when Malcolm wor’ bu’ a lad, and knew Dogger Lane rather better than these bijoux delighted second-home latter-days, it wasn’t quite the home of many fishermen. Exposed flints, rather than the wonders of Dulux, was the usual choice for external cladding — as it had been for centuries.

As he also recalls, “fishermen” was not the normal argot — in Wells they were more specialist, and the proud term was “whelkers”. And they congregated around East End, which is the far side of the Quay: many lived in the new estate around Northfield — which, paradoxically but normal for Norfolk, was again on the eastern extremity of town. In fact, before recent developments (the inspirationally-named “Mainsail Yard”, for example), Dogger Lane was where Freeman Street reached the end of its tether, and became Holkham Road.

Stop codding around!

Yet, “Dogger Lane” clearly has a sea-going connection. Any potential purchasers of the cottage will have fixed in their heads the Shipping Forecast:

Forth, Tyne, Forties, Dogger: Northeast 3 to 4. Occasional showers, Moderate.

Sadly “dogger” has fallen down the spice list: since the turn of the millennium (though the OED has a citation back to 1982) the word has gained an extra connotation:

a person who watches others engaging in sexual activity in a public place.

That may not (or just may — depending on one’s bent) improve the sales-potential of this cottage; but it clearly is not the origin of the name. So let’s investigate.

The Lowlands connection

A wander round any of these north Norfolk towns shows the Dutch influence. This is beautifully illustrated in Matthew Rice’s Building Norfolk. You are quite correct, devoted reader — Malcolm has been this way before.

It isn’t just the structures: even the bricks may have come from Holland. Even when home-cooked products became available the kilns were on the Dutch pattern (there’s one at Baines Road, King’s Lynn and another at Mundesley). Look at a map: the main seaway from East Anglia always has been across the narrow seas to the Lowlands. Chaucer’s Merchant had a wish:

He wolde the see were kept for any thyng
Bitwixe Middelburgh and Orewelle.

Read that as Harwich to Vlissingen; and not a lot has changed in over 500 years.

The link is implicit in the culture, the landscape and the language.

Cod would be caught in bag-like nets — and Middle English and Dutch both indicate a link between the cod-fish (dogge) and the net used to catch them. As early as the thirteenth century we have doggedrave — the first root being that dog– bit, the second a variant of “draw”, “drag”. Dutch has doggher  as a sling, a small bag, a net. So a boat for catching cod would be a “dogger”. Dutch maps were identifying Doggerszand as early as 1659, and Doggersbank by 1782.

In the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, we come on a pencil-and-wash sketch, from about 1675, of A dogger at anchor by Willem van de Velde the Younger:

Malcolm would need expert guidance to tell the differences between that sturdy two-masted fishing vessel with bluff bows, resembling a ketch, formerly used for deep sea fishing in the North Sea (the OED definition), a Thames barge and a Norfolk wherry.

On a similar note … what makes a “town”?

By coincidence today’s Times [£] has its usual A Dream Home (the daily property porn spot) on the Daily Universal Register miscellany page.

We have moved just the odd mile or five down the road, to find Bedfords offering us, for the asking price of £345,000:

Burnham Overy Town, Norfolk

A two-bedroom cottage dating back to the 18th century …

That tells us a couple of things:

  • the halo-effect of “fashionable” Burnham Market has done wonders for house prices (or vendors’ expectations)  anywhere nearby;
  • we have a new geographical concept made for us by the estate-agents.

In the neighbourhood of Redfellow Hovel something similar happened. “Highgate” gained peripheries such as “Highgate borders” and “Highgate Spinney” to disguise the change from the prestige of the N6 post-code to the less-upmarket N8 of Crouch End.

But “Burnham Overy Town”?

Well, there’s Burnham Market itself, Burnham Thorpe, Burnham Overy, Overy Staithe, Burnham Deepdale, Burnham Norton. That should be enough for anyone to be getting on with. But “Burnham Overy Town“? And, yes indeed, Malcolm now sees this invention has reached Google Maps — and this is the entirety of it:

For the record, that advertised cottage faces onto the triangular road junction, where the B1155 bears east towards Wells: the cloud cover obscures the spot. You’d be convenient for the hourly (until Norfolk Green has to make further cuts) Coasthopper bus. The ever-useful (ahem!) Francis Frith has an image:

To be honest that’s about all there is to Burnham Overy “Town”.

In the 2001 Census the two villages of Overy and Overy Staithe amassed the grand population of 311. And most of those were in Overy Staithe.


Filed under advertising., History, House-prices, Muswell Hill, New Jersey, Norfolk, reading, Times, Wells-next-the-Sea

Here’s one for the diary


Dulwich Picture Gallery. Note the dates.

Get there early, enjoy, then retire for a leisurely lunch, with suitable imbibings, at the Crown and Greyhound (a.k.a. “The Dog”).

Oh, and if you’re in Norwich, the Castle Museum has two thousand — two thousand! — Cotman paintings and sketches.

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Filed under leisure travel, London, Norwich, pubs

“Plebs” revisited, revisited …

Nick Robinson, on his BBC political blog, reads between the lines of Danny “Ginger Rodent” Alexander’s LibDem conference speech:

If you thought the cuts were bad, stand by for more bad news – £16bn of cuts to be precise.

The Treasury Chief Secretary, Danny Alexander, has just declared at the Lib Dem conference that the government will soon have to set out “specific plans for the £16bn of savings that are needed” in 2015 — after, that is, the current spending round ends.

What the Liberal Democrats have been doing this week is setting out their negotiating position with the Tories for the next spending round — their red lines if you like on “who pays”.

What they wanted voters to hear is that they will veto Tory proposals for a benefit freeze and cuts of £10bn to the welfare budget. However, listen hard and you’ll hear that they are not ruling out ending the link between benefit rises and inflation or other cuts in the benefit bill.

This is what Danny Alexander said: “At £220bn, welfare is one third of all public spending — and despite our painful reforms it is still rising. We will have to look at it.”

It’s going to be the middle class, the elderly, the weak, the sick, the disabled, the already- underprivileged — and the unemployed who will pay.

School-age students already are, because the much-vaunted “pupil premium” simply  does not work.  The £560 million which went to Educational Maintenance Allowances was cut to £180 million for subsidy to “low-income learners”. At the same time the “learner support fund” was rolled into this cut-price new scheme. Disabled children — including the little autistic so close to Malcolm’s own heart — are left behind, helplessly, in this Goveian rat-race.

The hike in university fees (the promise which Nick Clegg regretted and apologised for) has succeeded. It has ensured:

the largest fall in applications for over 30 years as new figures show an approximate 10% decline for the first year of entrants.

And done it a second year in succession.

Despite the “generous” pensions rise last autumn (actually it was no more than the established policy demanded, and then paid a year in arrears of rampant inflation) the basis of pensions calculation was changed — to the disadvantage of pensioners. Other subtle cuts are already happening: “free” bus passes are now being compromised (as in Norfolk); cataract treatments are being rationed; hospitals are being over-crowded and waiting times increased dramatically. And when your semi-privatised GP service lets you down, the provider can lie about it (as Serco did in Cornwall).

Disability allowances are being salami-sliced. Atos, the agency commissioned to review disability payments (or, as Simon Hoggart precisely defined ittells disabled people on behalf of the government to stop whingeing and get back to work) shambles from cock-up to disaster.

Don’t say Neil Kinnock didn’t warn you:

It’s just that he was understating things. This lot are even nastier than Thatcher.

If all of this seems a little tired, a trifle repetitive, there’s a very good reason.

We have been here many times before. James Francis Horrabin was telling it the way it repeatedly is, for (now here’s a laugh in itself) Plebs, and deployed by Labour tat the 1929 Election:

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Filed under BBC, Britain, British Left, broken society, Conservative family values, Conservative Party policy., health, History, Labour Party, Lib Dems, Nick Robinson, politics, politicshome, social class, socialism., Tories.

“Politics is rough and I play like it.”

That’s out of the playbook of Ana Sol Alliegro (as right), whose name comes close to combining a bad pun, a Mexican beer, and the worst car even British Leyland managed to produce. She appears in the Miami Herald as the star of a convoluted Floridan political scandal:

From a shooting to shoplifting, David Rivera’s pal in FBI probe has checkered past

 Ana Alliegro, who has had previous run-ins with the law, isn’t cooperating with the FBI or a federal grand jury investigating the campaign finances of Justin Lamar Sternad and the possible ties to Rep. David Rivera.

When Justin Lamar Sternad met Ana Sol Alliegro at a Miller’s Miami Falls Ale House, he didn’t know the political consultant would help lead his campaign into the FBI’s crosshairs or that she had prior legal run-ins — including the time she shot at her ex-husband while naked.
Malcolm assures all and sundry that the rest of that story lives up to that early promise. To think that he had assumed Carl Hiaasen wrote satirical fiction. Improve on this, Carl! —

She then sat naked at a desk with her leg up and compared the gun to a male sexual organ.

“If you think your [expletive] is powerful (showing the gun), this is mine,” Alliegro told [“her ex-husband, Moshe Cosicher, at his Tigertail Ave. home in Coconut Grove”], who tried to ignore her by going to make coffee, a report said. Alliegro followed him and told him to sit on the couch.

She fired a round into the ceiling.

“You see. It’s loaded — this is business,” Alliegro allegedly said. He tried to leave.

Somethings must run in the genes: that story has three credited by-lines. One is Scott Hiaasen McAputo, “22-year-old son” of the aforesaid,

who once deflected questions from a high school typing teacher about his Father-The-Writer by saying his dad wrote how-to home repair books.

Our British domestic scene rarely manages such delights as Ana Sol Alliegro, and her direct approach to politics and personal relations. We do our best, even in these days of the ConDem degeneracy:

A Daley dose

All this, happily, is severely up-the-nose of Janet Daley at the Telegraph blogs. For all sorts of reasons what is about to ensue, the combination of author, subject, context and medium, seems almost as surreal as La Belle Dame (sans ou avec merci) Alliegro. Yet, here it is:

Time to tell the truth about the “nasty” party: as someone who has defended the Conservatives (or at least defended their arguments) for so many years, it is time to come clean. Tories can be bloody difficult to like. The Andrew Mitchell Debacle is not an uncharacteristic, deranged and inexplicable lapse. It is just an extreme example of the kind of attitude with which many people who circulate in this world are familiar.

While most of us who associate with Conservatives do not get sworn at or described at “plebs”, we (by which I mean those not included in a small circle of either known-since-childhood social intimates or devoted sycophants whose uncritical loyalty is beyond question) have been variously snubbed, dismissed, or found ourselves becoming pointedly invisible in the presence of people to whom we are no longer of use.

She is remarkably warm by contrasting all this:

with Labour politicians – even though we are clearly in genial disagreement over major issues. They inevitably greet me with warm recollection years after a joint radio or television gig – even if the occasion involved heated conflict.

Then it gets down and dirty.

Ms Daley expresses a variation of the distaste many of us, including Malcolm, have felt for some time:

it is the Tory modernisers – perhaps because they are more likely to  be “toffs” than striving achievers from ordinary backgrounds – who are the worst. It is not the Thatcherite, aspirational, state school-educated Tories who look over your shoulder when they are talking to you: it is the snotty, condescending “one nation” paternalists for whom you are only of interest so long as you are being “supportive” (ie as faithful as a Labrador). No names, no pack drill, but you know who you are.

Oooh, err, Missus.

In one episode (season 4, episode 1) of The West Wing, President Bartlet meets a young Congressman, Peter Lien. Bartlet has the handshake farewell line: Welcome to the game that never ends.

What Malcolm didn’t appreciate was here is a quotation — as many of Sorkin’s gems deliberately and referentially are. This one is from a life-long socialist, George Reedy —(below, laid back with the characteristic hair), LBJ’s press secretary:

Politicians will always see the press as an arena for warfare… The concept that newspaper or television news exists to foster the political dialogue in a free society is incomprehensible to the political mind. Welcome to the game that never ends and will pull you in all directions at once!

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Filed under Carl Hiaasen, Conservative family values, Daily Telegraph, David Cameron, leftist politics., Lib Dems, Miami Herald, Nick Clegg, politics, sleaze., The West Wing, Tories., US politics