Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Sir Peter Viggers, M.P. - the floating duck house on expenses - I've seen another one at Wicken!

Sir Peter Viggers, MP, was one of those 'exposed' for allegedly abusing the system of MPs' expenses. He only bought a floating duck house for his ducks. Surely that was a reasonable thing to do? After all, if one has a few ducks, one needs a floating duck house. In Sir Peter's case, of course, it was an expensive-looking floating duck house and I do wonder how this 'Knight of the Shires' thought that his expensive-looking floating duck house - reported to have had a price tag of £1,645 - should be paid for from the public purse. But that was the system. Sir Peter bought his floating duck house and the rest of us paid for it.

Amazing, isn't it?                                                         

Here is a floating duck house that is believed to be of the type that Sir Peter bought at our expense.

Splendid, isn't it?

Sir Peter Viggers is retiring from Parliament and has five weeks left to him as an MP if the election date of the 6th of May is confirmed.

Here is Sir Peter Viggers, MP. I guess he will be missed - by some.

Bit of a chump, eh?

As it happens, I was canvassing in Wicken (the home base of the National Trust's so-called 'Wicken Vision') today and I met many friends - as one would hope for and expect as the village is very close to where we live - and just two people who showed some favour towards the scheme. I would have thought that the Trust would be picking up more support than this on its 'home ground', but, no, many of the local people are as antipathetic as I am to what is evidently regarded as a bad plan. The old Wicken Fen was accepted as part of old Cambridgeshire and annoyed very few people, but the Trust's aim to buy up and ruin thousands of acres of fine food-growing Fen land is madness. They and it must be stopped. And their tatty sign needs a paint job, too.

It was bitterly cold but I had a splendid surprise in that I saw for the first time what I think is another floating duck house on the village pond. I guess that this was not the product of MPs' expenses for an individual MP's private enjoyment at public expense. It appears to be a public floating duck house and I guess that it was provided and paid for by a generous individual or, perhaps, by the Parish Council. Anyway, it's obviously a public floating duck house for public ducks. It is not as grand as Sir Peter Viggers's private floating duck house but it has a look of honesty about it. I lke it. I approve of it. I guess that nobody need resign about the Wicken floating duck house and I wish it and the village ducks of Wicken well.

The modest floating duck house, the village pond, and the village scene make a pleasant picture and I offer it to my readers for their enjoyment, at no public expense. People with an interest in and love for Wicken may copy it from my blog as often as they want. There is no charge. I do these things for free because I enjoy it.

Late news (Thursday): I now have up-to-date information on the Wicken pond public duck house. According to my very good friend, the great Fen artist Mr Tony Day, the duck house was provided by Mr John Woodroffe. A good and generous gentleman, that Mr Woodroffe: thank you, sir!

'The White Rabbit' - Wing Commander F.F.E. Yeo-Thomas (1901 - 1964) - a British hero in France and Germany during the Second World War

One of my most-treasured and much-read books is called 'The White Rabbit.' It is a biography of Wing Commander Forest Frederick Edward Yeo-Thomas, G.C., M.C., who was born in 1901 and died in 1964. The book was written by Bruce Marshall and first published in 1952. Mine is an early edition.

The book's 'blurb' reads as follows:

"The White Rabbit was one of the code names arranged to indicate the movements of Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas, G.C., M.C., during his perilous missions to occupied France. When the plain language broadcasts of the B.B.C. stated that the White Rabbit had gone back to his hutch, it meant that not only the French Resistance but later the Gestapo knew that Tommy had returned safely to Britain. Yeo-Thomas himself discovered this when the Germans captured him. In fact, he made such good use of it that everyone who reads his amazing story will agree that it could not have been published under any other title.

When Yeo-Thomas received his last briefing from the Prime Minister, Mr Churchill said: 'You have chosen an unorthodox way of doing things and you have short-circuited official channels; it might mean trouble for you, but I shall see that no such thing happens ... I am going to increase substantially the number of aircraft doing parachuting operations to the Resistance, and greater supplies and more armaments are going to be sent.'

Not long after the personal triumph of hearing Mr Churchill use these words Yeo-Thomas was in the hands of the Gestapo.

It may be too soon to judge whether the War produced great literature, but it has certainly thrown up some amazing tales of individual adventure and courage - and there can surely be few to equal that of Yeo-Thomas, who started and ended the war as manager of the famous Molyneux dress salon in Paris. How Tommy spent the 'phoney' war in the ranks of the R.A.F., was commissioned after the fall of France and thereafter became a specialist in organizing Resistance, is told in these pages. How he was captured and treated by the Gestapo, and how the long story of his suffering ended in his becoming one of the few British survivors of Buchenwald would be distressing were it not so triumphantly fortified by this man's enduring courage. His qualities were recognized by His late Majesty King George VI in the award of the George Cross and by the French Government in the award of the Legion of Honour."

Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas was a British hero whose heroism in France and Germany during the Second World War was rightly acknowledged in his life-time. I was pleased to hear on the B.B.C.'s 'Today' programme that he is again to be acknowledged as a British hero by the unveiling today of a blue plaque at his former home in Camden, London.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

To Linton - home of my great uncle Frank Woollard and Sue's ancient Chalk and Reeve ancestors

Samuel Francis (Frank) Woollard (1876 - 1956) lived at The Shrubbery, Mill Lane, Linton. Some might remember him. When he visited us at Chalk Farm, Bottisham, he got on my mother's nerves because he would invariably produce a couple of unwrapped boiled sweets from his pocket for my sister and I. My mother believed - not without reason - that the insides of his pockets were none too clean. The sweets always had bits sticking to them and had to be washed before we were permitted to enjoy them.

According to a lady cousin of Sue's, 'Uncle Frank' Woollard and her late father, 'Tom' Chalk, were at Gallipoli in the Great War, and according to the memory of the late Mr George Paul, of Bottisham, the two of them (Frank and Tom) 'played football in Asia, Europe and Africa' during their soldiering in that war. It is said that they dined together annually for many years after to mark the fact that they both survived.

In mentioning Tom Chalk (full name Thomas Philip Newlyn Chalk), who was born at Linton in 1884 and died in 1983, who was my Sue's cousin and who was the Chalk of the old Cambridge auctionerering firm of Grain and Chalk, I'm now into Sue's ancestry which includes the ancient Chalk and Reeve families who were once very numerous in Linton as farmers and millers. It is always amusing and interesting to go to Linton, though the place is now much larger than in the 1700s, 1800s and early 1900s.

The sun was out for some of the time and I visited more than 200 homes. I also obtained a nicer picture of the Dog & Duck than I was able to on the 1st of February. Here it is (today's picture). The rain clouds are gathering in the background and we later had some 'precipitation,' as our American cousins say.

No sooner had I seen this wonderful sight than along came a former Bottisham friend, Mr Jason Coles. Jason runs a business called 3D|EVENTS COMPANY - website - and I am reliably informed (by the boss himself) that the company can organise parties for up to 20,000 people at a time. Of course, if I am elected on the 6th of May, we shall need something even bigger than that in order to celebrate properly. In any event, I recommend Jason as a friend to any and all of my many other friends. I was permitted to 'snap' Mr Coles before he moved off and before I moved off.

I moved off to a fascinating and encouraging series of home visits. Once again I can report that there is widespread disillusionment with and distrust of the major parties and their people. Once again I predict that the election is going to be wide open, both nationally and locally.

'One Law For All - Against Sharia Law in Britain'

In response to what I have written about Russia and Moscow and 'Sharia Law,' I have been asked to publicise a petition entitled 'One Law For All - Against Sharia Law in Britain.' It can be found and signed at -

Spare a thought for Russia and the people of Moscow

In the midst of our General Election, it is easy to give events overseas a miss. I suggest that we spare a thought for Russia and for the people of Moscow.

Here (above) is a picture of just a small part of the death and devastation allegedly caused there by two female suicide bombers. Do we ever give a thought to what sort of monstrous motives must be in the minds of such creatures? It's as if, say, an English lady member of, say, a local Baptist church, were to pack her clothes with explosives, walk into, say, Ely Cathedral, and blow herself to smithereens, killing and maiming worshippers and visitors alike. We English have had our religious, cultural and political differences in the past, but that was hundreds of years ago. What worries me is that there is now an 'enemy within.'

How long will it be before we have another suicide bombing outbreak instigated by 'home-grown' terrorists who are already here? And don't tell me it's our appallingly wasteful adventure in Afghanistan that is either the cause of it all or, indeed, the cure. We have here, as the Russians have in Russia, a growing minority who wish to impose upon us a Sharia-based 'civilisation' that is five hundred years behind ours and is alien to all that we English hold dear.

Peter Brookes says with his cartoons what we all think!

Monday, 29 March 2010

The Three Chancellors - largely as expected

I watched the debate on TV between the three 'Chancellors.' Here is my quick reaction. Vince Cable performed much the best but, as George Osborne sneeringly pointed out, we are not going to get a Liberal Democrat government nor a Liberal Democrat Chancellor of the Exchequer. Alistair Darling looked and sounded like a traditional bank manager and, whilst he fumbled once or twice, he was - and is? - sound. George Osborne bested Mr Darling several times, but he came over as youthful and sneeringly clever. In other words, the whole thing was largely as expected. But what was more interesting was what they didn't mention at all.

To Landbeach and some old friends - and to Swaffham Prior and some more old friends

We went to Landbeach, initially to see some old friends, Mr and Mrs Alan Wyatt, and then to 'do' at least some of the village. Alan is retired now but was a distinguished and independent member of South Cambridgeshire District Council and its Chairman. He and Daphne are delights and always ready to help. Soon after visiting their home and the homes of their neighbours in Matthew Parker Close, I came across a housing development that I had not seen before and that pleased me much, for it is the product of the Hundred Houses Society that has such a good reputation hereabouts. Lo and behold, when I walked closer to the very pleasant-looking homes, there was a notice board stating that 'Chapman's Close' - the development - had been opened by Cllr. Alan Wyatt in March, 1995, just five years ago. Another good deed done by a good District Councillor. Here (above) is my picture of the notice board.

It didn't take long, even in inclement weather - spitting rain and a 'lazy wind' (one that goes through you instead of round you) - for me to realise that Landbeach is another of our charming Cambridgeshire villages. Take a look at my picture of All Saints' Church with the super show of daffodils in front of the village pound - another splendid feature.

Of course, not all is as it appears behind the charming façade and I heard a tragic tale from one person regarding family problems and how things can so easily go amiss. I promised the person that, if elected, I would take up the case with the authorities. There are some in this country who carry on a bit about 'the dependency culture.' Well, all I will say is this: it is all to easy to attribute peoples' problems to their fecklessness or their vices or their stupidity, but sometimes, just sometimes, things go wrong because of just one lapse of behaviour of judgement. When that happens, there needs to be someone or some body to be ready with a helping hand. It's not exactly like the parable of the Good Samaritan who didn't pass by on the other side. It's more a case of society as a whole, through its various agencies, being available to assist at a time of real need and/or real trouble. There were times when the old village people turned to the squire or to the churches for assistance. We can't resurrect those imperfect times but we can ensure that the fallen are given a helping hand or a leg up. We must continue to ensure this, for these people are ours and some of them live in Cambridgeshire.

Here is Swaffham Prior's superb village sign.

In Swaffham Prior, Sue saw a gentleman who was kind enough to say that I was 'the only one [of the candidates] with any sense.' Aw, shucks!

Of course, Sue was on our home ground and it would be a poor old do if I didn't have substantial support in and on my home ground, where all (or most) of my good (and bad) points are known only too well. One can't live in an area for nearly 72 years without gaining a reputation, for good (or ill). I hope that it's the former in the minds of most of my fellow villagers.

I made a point of saying in my leaflet for Swaffham Prior that I know Swaffham Prior very well; that we have lived at Chapel Farm for 15 years; that I farmed here; that my Woollard and Witt relatives were here from around 1800; and that Sue's cousin, Mark Dobito (1753 - 1813), was the licensee of the Red Lion pub in the 1770s. My picture of the Lion shows cars outside, one being mine.

I would love to know what the scene was like when Mr Dobito was behind the bar. There were probably horses tied up to a post outside and no tarmac road nor white lines. I guess that there was a lot of real poverty then, too, and maybe too much drinking, which would have helped Mr Dobito but no-one else in the village.

Letter to the Cambridge News from Mr Alec Sadler, of Waterbeach

This requires no elaboration or explanation from me.

"Why do people vote for parties?

May I question why so many vote for the political party rather than any real concern for the constituency.

Previous evidence of behaviour in Parliament confirms the dogmas of party allegiance have no representation of the wishes of the constituent.

Surely it is possible for some more independent representation for, perhaps, real confidence in how we are governed.

Alec Sadler
Denson Close

Good man, Mr Alec Sadler, of Waterbeach!

I predict that whoever gets in will raise VAT to 20%.

George Osborne has just said - and I quote - "Nobody will be worse off" [under the Conservatives].

I predict that whoever gets in - the Conservatives or Labour - will raise VAT to 20%.

I say, 'Bring 'em on!'

This image is from today's Independent. It appears as part of an article headed, "Tally ho! 'Barbour cavalry' rides to Tories' rescue - Fox-hunting 'Barbour cavalry' prepares to ride to the rescue of Tories in key marginal seats."

The link to the full article is here -

I have just posted an on-line comment as follows:

"I am an independent candidate against bringing back fox hunting and hare coursing in the supposedly safe Conservative seat of South East Cambridgeshire. The sitting MP has said that he will vote to repeal the Hunting Act 2004. I have lived in the constituency all of my 71 years. I am a countryman born and bred. I have been politically active for much of my life. I was a Conservative County and District Councillor and a Conservative activist until I got fed up (in 1999) with their leaders' deep-down and perceived priorities - fox hunting, hare coursing, etc. I know 'my' constituency like the back of my hand. I have been actively canvassing for eight weeks. Very, very few electors want the Hunting Act 2004 repealed. The people are with me on this (and many other things, like the dreadfully wasteful adventure in Afghanistan) and, if the Conservatives think that repeal of the Hunting Act 2004 will do them any good in this constituency, they are daft. Add this factor to the widespread disillusionment and distrust of all sitting Parliamentarians and it then becomes clear that South East Cambridgeshire is no longer a safe Conservative seat. It is another marginal. Add in some silly and ignorant invaders and we have the sure-fire recipe for trouble for the sitting MP. So I say, 'Bring 'em on!'"

Sunday, 28 March 2010

The National Trust, their contractors and VANDALS!

The National Trust's so-called 'Wicken Vision,' the mad plan to turn thousands of acres of the finest food-growing Fen land into a water-logged jungle, has involved successive and highly-paid contractors. The successive and highly-paid contractors, building costly new bridges over such as Swaffham Bulbeck Lode and Reach Lode - the latter structure to be some 600 feet long - have attracted the attentions of VANDALS.

Here is what the VANDALS did to Jackson Civil Engineering's sign at Swaffham Bulbeck Lode.

And here is more of the VANDALS' work - a broken sign from BAM Nuttall, the world-famous design and construction company that designed and constructed the world-famous Cambridge guided busway and are in the process of designing and constructing the bridge over Reach Lode. I spotted this near Burwell.

Finally, for now, I have seen the BAM Nuttall design and construction site notice board near Reach Lode. Look at that: some VANDALS have even hit it! And with what? What next? Who can tell?

Question: who are the real VANDALS?

And yet another British soldier is 'lost' in Afghanistan - Bring our boys home now before we 'lose' yet more

The BBC has news of yet another British soldier 'lost' in Afghanistan. I wish to God that he were just 'lost,' for someone who is lost can still be found. The word 'lost' is being abused in this case, for 'lost' means killed and, regardless of any faith that one might have, there is a certain finality about being killed. This soldier will not be coming back through Wootton Bassett alive: he is dead. Bring our boys home now. Go to -

'Changing the clocks' - I promise to change it

I wrote this piece on the 25th of October last year. My mind has not changed one bit, but we have now 'changed' the clocks yet again. It's stupid. It puts me and many others out of kilter. I promise to help to change it.

"If and when I am elected to represent South East Cambridgeshire in the House of Commons one of the first things that I will do (either alone or in support of other like-minded Members) is to seek leave to bring in a Bill to rid us of the need to 'change the clocks' in the Spring and the Autumn.

Last night, we put the clocks back and we were told that we would have 'an extra hour' in bed this morning. In the Spring, when we put the clocks forward for 'British Summer Time,' we were told that we would have 'an extra hour' of daylight. This is complete and utter nonsense for there are no extra hours of anything to be had in either the Spring or the Autumn. There are twenty-four hours in every day and there are more daylight hours in the Summer and less in the Winter. This was so before anyone proposed such idiocies as 'British Summer Time' or 'Daylight Saving.'

(Incidentally, I read in yesterday's Times that one of my historical heroes, Benjamin Franklin, thought up the whole idea of changing the clocks in 1784: I have read on Wikipedia today, with great relief, that Mr Franklin was not 'guilty' and was only responsible for the advice that I have tried to follow throughout my life, "Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise").

What I find personally is that the effect on sleep patterns and on one's general feeling of well-being or otherwise is that 'changing the clocks,' either back or forward, is much akin to jet lag: it takes me several days to adjust and I just wish that neither I nor others had thus to suffer.

I do not care if we have 'European' time, or continuous 'British Summer Time' or 'English Time' or 'Scottish Time' or, indeed, the old royal 'Sandringham Time' (the clocks were set at Sandringham House a half hour ahead of everywhere else because, it is said, King Edward VII and King George V hated to be late).

All I want is continuous and unchanged time throughout the year. So I shall try to alter the present rule.

Sunday, 25 October, 2009."

So there!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

A story from yesterday's Times - I missed it - Sue spotted it - The Times is to be commended

Go to -

"Abandoned by their mother when just a few days old after their den was disturbed, these three fox cubs seem to find comfort in a Basil Brush lookalike.

The cuddly toy and a teddy bear are helping to rehabilitate the cubs at the East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service.

Trevor Weeks, who runs the animal rescue service, said: “The vixen shot out of a hole and disappeared when some builders started lifting up sections of a concrete patio. They then found the three cubs hidden away.

“Once we had checked them over we returned them to the patio and put them on a special heat pad to keep them warm in the hope that their mother would come back.

“We sat in the kitchen of the house all night watching to see if she would return. She did come but it was very stormy and she was quite young and very spooked and frightened and did not take them.”

Animal rescue volunteer, hairdresser Monica Russell, takes the cubs to work with her at the Definitions salon in Hailsham."

I have commented on-line as follows:

"I missed this yesterday. My wife drew it to my attention. We both believe it to be a charming piece. The Times is to be commended for carrying it. The Tories are to be condemned for planning to bring back fox hunting. Shame on them."

27th March, 2010 - 277 British dead in Afghanistan - how many more are we to lose, may we please ask?

Today is the 27th of March, 2010. It has been announced that another of our boys has died in Afghanistan. The total of British dead is now 277. May we all please ask the politicians of all parties, 'How many more are we to lose?'

The Times carries the story as 'Household Cavalry soldier killed in Afghanistan' -

Super surprises in Soham and in Ely High Street

I had super surprises in both Soham and in Ely High Street this morning. I was picking up my papers from the BP filling station and convenience store at Soham and, whilst I was wearing my campaign rosette prior to another visit to Ely and should not have been surprised by being engaged in conversation, a gentlemen whom I didn't know personally came up to me and said, 'I'll be voting for you: we want to get rid of the others.' He didn't specify which others he had in mind but his statement encouraged more to agree, which they did and, before long, the whole of the queue waiting to pay Shaun at the till was in animated discussion, all of it favourable towards what I am trying to achieve. I was almost embarrassed, for it wasn't my intention to 'politick' in the convenience store for fear of it not being convenient, but I couldn't stop 'em!

The next super surprise was in Ely High Street where, amongst very many others whom I knew or who knew me by repute or from my websites or through my letters and literature, I met and had my picture taken with my friend Caroline Nicklinson (née Sennitt). We didn't talk much about issues 'cos Caroline and her family and I agree on practically everything, so her first question to me was, 'Have you still got Dash?' Dash was (sadly, now in the past tense) our first Dalmatian and was not only beautiful but, like most Dalmatians, a little mad. Nevertheless, Dash was a dear dog and she lived until she was she was nearly 14. We shall never forget her and nor, it seems, will Caroline. Here, first, is Dash's portrait from some years ago -

And here (below) is the record of my pleasurable encounter with Caroline. Her parents formerly resided at Upware and now live at a house called 'Dunfarmin' at Ely. Unfortunately, I missed seeing them today. 

By the way, I met a number of visitors in Ely, and I questioned some of them about the recent report that derided Ely as a tourist attraction. If my small sample is anything to go by, the report is rubbish, as we all know. Ely is great for visitors.

Ely, I might add, is also great for me. I know that the election is going more and more my way at Ely and elsewhere in South East Cambridgeshire. The only comment that I can make to comfort my opponents is to say what I say in public to the general public, 'It's wide open, both nationally and locally.'

Friday, 26 March 2010

This message came in from Lode today - very helpful

"Dear Mr Woollard

While in the car this morning, I heard the back end of a radio interview with Adrian Ramsay, Deputy Leader of the Green Party.

One of the points he made was how important it will be in the future for us all to source more of our agricultural produce locally for environmental reasons.

This seemed to me to be rather at odds with the National Trust's promotion of the Wicken Fen Vision and the support of this continually voiced by (to my mind) the rather sanctimonious and self-righteous Cambridge Green Party candidate, Tony Juniper.

I was interested to hear recently that you're standing as an independent in South East Cambs in the forthcoming general election. I imagine, and hope, that you'll get votes not only from people who back your stance on Wicken Fen and hare-coursing but also from those who are disillusioned with the political establishment.

Best wishes

*** ********
** ********* *****

Why would any normal person want to kill this fine creature, for fun? Consult the Conservative Party

I have asked this question before, but with a different picture to illustrate it. Why would any normal person want to kill this fine creature, for fun? For the answer, consult the leadership of the Conservative Party.

To Ashley - home of the ancestors' thunderbox!

We split our forces again today. I went to Ashley (proper name - Ashley cum Silverley) and I suppose that it really ought to have been Sue who went there. We are both fairly well-known in the Ashley and Newmarket and area already but Sue descends from the old Bocock family, farmers and butchers, of Ashley. We have good reason to believe that one of their homes was Butchers Farm, where my friends, Mr and Mrs Peter Bridge, live in retirement. Peter was for for 27 years Rural District and District Councillor for Ashley and Cheveley and also Chairman of Ashley cum Silverley Parish Council. I recall his service to the District with admiration and affection.

In Peter's garden there stands still a magnificently preserved red brick and flintstone outhouse or 'thunderbox.' Perhaps Sue's ancestors used this very place for - well, you know what!

Peter and I put the world to rights and I then saw the result of the recent conversion to a superb home of the old slaughterhouse that would, also, have been used by Sue's ancestors in their butchering business.

I expected to see Ashley's famous pond and its equally famous ducks. Well, it (the pond) is still there, but it is in the process of restoration, as can be seen in my picture (below). Peter Bridge told me that the old records show that when 'the horse pond,' as it was then called, was cleaned out many years ago, the cost was £16. He also told me that the restoration is costing many thousands of pounds this time. However, the pond is - and has always been - a major feature of the village and I am sure that it will look wonderful again when the work has been completed. I am encouraged in this by the knowledge that my good friend, Mr Martin Mead, of Swaffham Prior, has been overseeing much of the work. Martin is known for his sound judgement and for the quality of what his businesses produce. Here is the unfinished pond without the famous Ashley ducks.

I had a great time in Silverley Way, Ashley, where my late 'Auntie' Peggy Woollard lived for several years. Several people expressed fond memories of her.

I hit the area of Toyse Lane, Burwell, later and, again, I couldn't help but be moved by the welcome of the very pleasant residents, many of whom knew me as their County Councillor. It was a wonderful experience to be warmly greeted at one house with the following words, 'It's James's grand-dad!' Our grandson James is better known than Sue and I in certain places. If I say, 'Thanks a million for everything, Tonia, Josh and Tony,' it will soon be known by some of whom I write.

Sue walked the streets of Swaffham Bulbeck again today. Is it right that this 70-year-old lady should be a street-walker? I'm really not sure, but she's very enthusiastic and you know the old saying, 'Better an enthusiastic amateur than an old pro.'

Peter Brookes's cartoons are wickedly to the point

"We can’t go on like this ... Tories rehire Saatchi brothers for election campaign"

The Times reports as above with the tired old slogan as illustrated. The link is here -

My on-line comment follows:

"Much as I love the old TV series 'Dads Army,' I can't help thinking of the Tory party as an antique amalgam of Captain Mainwaring and Private Godfrey. Corporal Jones is shouting, 'Don't panic,' and they are panicking. So much so that the Saatchis of the 70s are coming back. They've lost the election already, with or without the Saatchis, because they have no policies and no substance. The country can see this, as plain as a Private 'Pike' staff."

Thursday, 25 March 2010

One of those days - but I was delighted with Covent Garden, Willingham. Ain't it great?

It's been one of those days - lots of telephone calls, letters and E-mails, the local newspapers full of relevant 'stuff' and my latest leaflets gone to press - and, though I enjoyed a too-brief visit to Willingham, I got rained orf.

I worry that some of our Cambridgeshire villages have grown too rapidly and have been almost over-developed whereas others, often the smaller ones to begin with, could really benefit from, say, 20 to 50 more homes in order the better to keep local facilities and services going. Wicken comes to mind in the latter category and I just hated being a member of the County Council when the decision was taken to close the little village school. Part of the problem then was that there was an active element in the parish's affairs that was determined to stand in the way of any additional houses - and the children who might have inhabited those houses and helped to fill the school. A Mr H*** was vociferous in that negative element. He, of course, has long since moved on but the damage that he and a handful of others did remains. What a shame.

I had thought that Willingham was one of our over-developed villages. That is, until today. I spent some time in an estate that was new to me - Covent Garden - and I was delighted with all that I saw. Apparently, Bovis Homes were the developers and the people whom I met seemed to be pleased with both themselves and their houses. Well done, the Councillors, the planners, the architects and the builders

There are several different street scenes at Covent Garden. This is but one. Ain't it great?

My afternoon was somewhat spoiled not just by the rain but also by having to pass over - yet again - the line of the still inactive and now infamous guided busway. Many of us look upon this scheme as the result of local people getting ideas above their station - literally and metaphorically. I hope that the busway will not prove to be the white elephant that it presently appears. The great lump of concrete in the middle of my picture doesn't make me feel optimistic.

Meanwhile, my campaign's best asset, Sue, was out visiting with a friend from Swaffham Bulbeck. They went on to Queen's Court, the excellent residential home for the elderly at Bottisham, where another dear friend is in residence. After this, my good wife delivered leaflets and posters back in Swaffham Bulbeck, which parish, of course, was my birthplace and home for 57 years and Sue's home for 33 years. We were married in 1962 and will soon be celebrating our 48th anniversary.

I made the point in my Swaffham Bulbeck leaflets that I know the village very well. I was born at Chalk Farm, the address of which is Bottisham but the location of which is mostly Swaffham Bulbeck. I followed my father, my grandfather and my great grandfather farming at Chalk Farm. My father was born at Downing College Farm which is in the village and is now owned by Mr David Turner and his family. At one time, my great grandfather and my grandfather farmed the two farms mentioned. My great uncle, Mr Philip Singleton, a County and Rural District Councillor, followed my grandfather at Downing College Farm and it was he who eventually made way for David Turner's late grandfather, Mr Harold Turner.

My parents are buried at Swaffham Bulbeck, as are my grandparents, my great grand parents and several other relatives. Curiously, since I have been studying family history, Sue and I have learned that it is actually she who has the most and the longest links with Swaffham Bulbeck for her Chambers relatives, originally from the Woodditton area, owned and farmed Burgh Hall from the 1770s and were successive Lords of the Manor. 

Therefore, Sue and I both have ancestors and relatives who were born and who died at Swaffham Bulbeck. Of course, we have many living friends there, too. I was a Parish Councillor there for 20 years and the County Councillor until 1993. The village sign, pictured below, was designed and made by my friend, Mr Richard (Dick) Bourne. It stands at the edge of the village's recreation ground, known as The Denny and cared for and mown succesively by my late and very good friends, Mr Don Yeo and Mr Dennis Badcock.

Conservatives say they want to ‘un-ban’ hunting. Shame on them!

This is from my Election leaflet: "I disagree with Mr Paice [the sitting Conservative MP for South East Cambridgeshire] regarding hunting and hare coursing. I have long held a special hatred for hare coursing but Mr Paice said to me (in a letter dated 12th June, 2008, i.e. well after the anti-hunting Act of 2004 was passed), "I personally dislike hare coursing intensely but would be reluctant to ban it because of my libertarian instincts." By that logic, we would still have bear-baiting and cock-fighting. Conservatives say they want to ‘un-ban’ hunting. Shame on them."

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

PMQs, the Budget, and warm Dullingham and Burwell

It's been a busy day, what with Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) and the Budget on TV as well as the ongoing campaign. The viewings caused me to run later with my electioneering than I wished. However, both were enlightening.

I thought that 'Dave' Cameron made a good point at the expense of Gordon Brown during PMQs when he alluded - again - to the latter having authorized the sale of some of our country's gold reserves at a much lower price than is available in the market today. That aside, however, I think that the Prime Minister did well and made the most of the Government's right decisions throughout the international financial crisis, from which we now appear to be emerging. It is surely true that this crisis, which has had worldwide effects, started in the United States with their banks lending too much to NINJA (No Income, No Job, No Assets) clients, some of whom had no hope of repaying the loans.

The collapses of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and the Fed rescues of Citigroup, American International Group, Bank of America and others followed and these had dramatic effects on our own London banking businesses, which are very valuable to our overall economy despite what we might think about the bankers' bonuses. Northern Rock went down - and nearly out - and RBS and Lloyds TSB (now Lloyds Banking Group and doing well) were saved by Government share buying which will probably prove profitable to the public purse. It would have been very different if Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling had taken no action. It was no time for mere hand-wringing or hand-washing and those two didn't just wring their hands or wash their hands of the troubles that we were then in.

I am relieved that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his Budget speech, made it clear that, at least so far as this Government is concerned, there is to be no banking tax or levy without international agreement. The Tories seem to be thinking of unilateral action and Mr Simon Heffer, of the Daily Telegraph no less, believes this to be 'bonkers.' For once I agree with him.

For the full Simon Heffer article, together with on-line comments, go to -

Alistair Darling did well in the circumstances and it is evident that we have a level head at the Treasury, at least for a while. Many first-time home buyers will be helped again by his Stamp Duty changes, as will the building industry. The question remains: should more dramatic action be taken on the deficit now or a little later? That seems to be the principal Budget argument and, to be quite frank, I doubt that there are any other major differences between the major political parties on the economy. On balance, I think that Mr Darling is right.

At last, it's been warm out today, and Sue and I went this afternoon to 'do' parts of Dullingham, a village that we know well and where we are well-known. We started off at Vicarage Close where we were entertained at the home of old friends. They are good supporters - now independent by conviction and not just through friendship: it seems that thought processes are very much the same throughout the constituency - and it was great fun seeing them. One of our posters is now in a prominent place in their window. Thanks a million, Trev!

After that we went into the main part of the village and to the closes on the way to Stetchworth. It is a joy to canvass even when the weather is inclement but it is even better now that the sun is shining and there is some real Spring warmth.

I had a cup of tea at home and then went alone to Burwell for part of the evening. As the weather is much better and the nights are 'drawing out,' going door-to-door is now an evening job. I like it all and, what's much more important, it is very clear that people are warming more and more to the idea of an independent MP.

Gosh, I am glad that I am out of the old party political hypocrisy.

BAM Nuttall again in Cambridgeshire - is the National Trust completely crazy to entrust such a firm?

The National Trust people have just delivered to my house yet another glossy eight-page brochure boasting of how wonderful they and their so-called 'Wicken Vision' are.

I learned just one thing from the brochure. The contract for the design and construction of the huge new bridge over Reach Lode has been awarded to civil engineering contractors BAM Nuttall. This is the same firm that was entrusted by Cambridgeshire County Council to produce the infamous guided busway that, despite endless promises to the contrary, has still not opened, is beset by serious faults in its design and construction, has massively over-run its estimated cost, and is increasingly regarded by many locals as an embarrassing white elephant. Is the National Trust completely crazy to entrust their (our?) money to such a firm?

"'No peerage for Dorset lobby MP" - I was a fool

"No peerage for Dorset lobby MP" is the headline of a BBC story. Go to -

The story itself reads as follows:

"Tory leader David Cameron has said a Dorset MP who was filmed claiming he was "likely" to be made a peer will not get a place in the House of Lords.

Sir John Butterfill was secretly filmed for the Channel 4 programme Dispatches saying he was a useful contact to lobby a future Conservative government.

The Bournemouth West MP, who will stand down at the election, denied "knowingly breaching the MPs' code of conduct".

It is understood Sir John has referred himself to the Standards Commissioner.

He has denied any wrongdoing, adding: "I never knowingly breached the MPs' code of conduct nor have I sought to do so.

"I have never carried out consultancy work for people seeking government contacts."

'Incorrect advice'

Mr Cameron said the programme featured "a Conservative backbencher who attempted to up his value by suggesting he will get a peerage", adding: "I can tell you that's not going to happen."

Three former ministers, Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon, have been suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party over lobbying allegations.

The programme showed undercover footage of various politicians who were approached by a fictional US firm looking to hire them for lobbying work.

Under Commons rules MPs can work for companies, but must declare payments and may not lobby ministers directly.

Last May, Sir John agreed to repay £20,000 in tax and mortgage payments, much of which was claimed from public funds towards staff quarters in his home.

He said he was given incorrect advice about what he could claim for a section of his house, later sold for £1.2m, occupied by a gardener."

And all I can add is, 'I was a fool,' because I was one of dozens drafted in by the Conservative Party when the then plain Mr John Butterfill was first up for election at Bournemouth West. I should have stayed at home and done something useful for Cambridgeshire.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

To Ely and Burwell - very pleasant and rewarding

The campaign went to Ely this afternoon and to Burwell later. Both were very pleasant and most rewarding. In Ely I had the good fortune to come across a former Liberal Democrat District Councillor whom I won't name lest it embarrasses him. Suffice to say that he is pleased that I am standing as an independent and he is supportive of me. Thanks, J.W.!

Here are Sue and I pictured in St. John's Road, Ely. A kind lady used our own camera on us. As you can see, we are both thriving and don't look at all tired. Appearances can be deceiving, though, and I am actually quite exhausted when I finally turn in at night - alongside Sue.

The campaign posters arrived from the printers today - they are excellent and some are out at their planned sites already - and if you live in South East Cambridgeshire and are willing to put one in your window or on a board in your garden, please give us a call on 01223 861823 or e-mail us at

At Burwell, I called on my dear friend and former District Councillor colleague, Mr Cyril Durrant, and his wife, Olive. Cyril has kindly signed my nomination paper and he and Olive are enthusiastic in their support. Mr Michael Michalak, also of Burwell and a gentleman with whom I have had friendly debate for many years, had no hesitation in signing, too. Michael (whose late father was of Polish birth) and his wife, Ingrid, are fine allies. My support is from right across the old political spectrum. The other signatories will be revealed soon.

What is going on in our country? What are we coming to? How much longer are we to put up with it?

When Sue and I were farming more actively, we got up very early in the mornings. Now that we are less pressed, one of the great 'pleasures' of the day is being woken by the radio at 6 a.m. It is set to BBC Radio 4 and I, for one, find the Today programme extremely helpful, particularly during the run-up to this General Election, in enabling me to have an hour or so of surveying the latest British and world news. The presenters are intelligent and most of the time the content is well-produced. On occasion, though, I nearly jump out of bed in shock. This morning was one such.

Go to -

There was a senior police officer describing the difficulties of policing the Greater Manchester area. Greater Manchester embraces the traditional former Lancashire cotton town of Salford. The senior police officer described the particular difficulties involved in the recent Iraqi General Election. Please don't get me wrong. I was all for the deposing of the dictator Saddam Hussein and I am all for democratic General Elections for Iraqis in Iraq. But in Salford?

According to the senior police officer, there was a polling station for the Iraqis in Salford and, again according to him, there were also serious fights between the Iraqi Sunnis and the Iraqi Shi-ites in Salford.

Now, I know that Iraqis have had a difficult time recently. Some have felt the need to come to this country. But, Saddam Hussein having been deposed and democratic General Elections having been re-introduced for Iraqi people in Iraq, is there still a need for so many Iraqis to be in this country in general and in Salford in particular?

May I respectfully suggest that the Iraqis who are here be requested to go back to their own country and not to fight their religious and political fights in Salford - or anywhere else in England - causing hassle for our police and expense for our people.

What is going on in our country? What are we coming to? How much longer are we to put up with it?

And, yes, I know that the Americans who are 'over here' can vote in their General Elections at the American Embassy but, so far as I am aware, Democrats and Republicans don't usually have religious or political fights that require the attentions of British police and expense for British people.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Home End, Fulbourn, where Joshua Woollard (1806 - 1867) lived and farmed - and lost half a family

Today's electioneering was going to include canvassing in Fulbourn with Sue and an independent dog. We decided that the independent dog, name of 'Milly,' might be a mite too independent, so I went to Fulbourn with Sue only.

My late great, great grandfather, Joshua Wooollard (1806 - 1867), lived and farmed at Home End, Fulbourn, probably based at the house pictured below. According to the 1851 Census, Joshua farmed 245 acres, employing 13 'labourers.' By the time of the 1861 Census, Joshua was down to 161 acres and employing 7 men and 2 boys. He was also by then a widower, for my great, great grandmother, Elizabeth (née Clack), had died of 'fever' in 1860, aged only 40. By that time, Elizabeth had borne no less than 13 children, 7 of whom died young. Not everybody recognises the transformation of women's lives wrought by birth control and better child care and medicine. I thank goodness that the eldest son of Joshua and Elizabeth, Joshua Samuel Woollard, who was born at The Biggin, Fen Ditton, in 1844, before the family moved to Fulbourn, lived and prospered until 1929. He was my great grandfather and I would not have been born had he not lived.

But back to Fulbourn. As in everywhere I have been, I have found from active door-to-door canvassing and on the streets that what people want are more independent-minded MPs who will make up their own minds on issues of the day and not be party puppets. Too many members of the House of Commons are regarded as in it for themselves and only too ready to toe the party line - of whichever party - as opposed to what they are supposed to be doing: representing their constituents.

We met many of the residents of Fulbourn. We found them interested in the General Election but unsure of what to do. A few have old party loyalties but many are with me and independent to boot. It is extremely surprising that hardly anybody brings up the names of the other candidates, not even that of the sitting member who, like others, may have 'sat here too long.' I often think of Oliver Cromwell's famous speech to the Rump Parliament in April, 1653:

“... It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money ...

... You have sat here too long for the good you do. In the name of God, GO!”

I'd rather not mention it - ever again

A news story relating to a town in 'my' constituency has hit the headlines again. I'd rather not mention it again, so nothing will come from me - ever again.

It's not my direct business, but ...

Today's Times carries a report on yesterday's debate in the U.S. House of Representives on a better health-care system for America.

It mentions the efforts of President Theodore Roosevelt to achieve this a century ago.

My comment is this:

"And President Theodore Roosevelt was a Republican. He's one of my historical heroes and maybe his dreams of a century ago will become reality."

Sunday, 21 March 2010

My Achlles tendon - luck played a part last Summer

Did I ever tell you about my troublesome Achilles tendon? Perhaps not, but, as it had a lucky outcome that is relevant to this General Election, here goes.

A few years ago, I was doing some work at the back of 'The Little Chapel in The Fen.' The work involved doing something that doesn't appeal a lot: cutting down a tree. The tree was becoming a threat to the roof of the Chapel and it had to be dealt with. (Actually, during last Spring, we completely re-roofed the Chapel - see picture above - having raised over £8,000 to do it and the Trustees are very grateful indeed to all who made contributions). Anyway, I was dealing with this tree and had nearly got it down. It lodged against another and so I decided to give it a push from the ground. I pushed and I pushed. It wouldn't move. I pushed again and I then heard a 'click' and felt a sharp pain in my left foot. I knew I had done something and hobbled back to the house. Sue said that I should go to hospital. Well, stubborn old fool that I am, I took no notice and had a hot bath instead. (I'm a great believer in hot baths: none of those sissy showers for me). I put the offending foot up for the rest of the day. The next day, it was no worse and, having 'diagnosed' my problem as just a sprained ankle, I carried on as if nothing had happened. Walking was awkward, running was out of the question and driving, whilst OK in our then automatic car as I didn't 'need' a left foot at all, taking the dogs out in my old (1989) Land Rover Discovery - our 'dogmobile' - was difficult, for it had a clutch and a pretty stiff one at that.

(Incidentally, the Discovery has served me well in its 21 years, taking me on many a London trip to such as Conservative Central Office and meetings of the Association of County Councils. The rear of the vehicle is pictured below. The rest of it is even more scruffy but it is kept going by the tender and loving care of my friends at Wicken 4-Wheel Drive, to whom many thanks. The distinctive registration - JFL4W - belonged to our son, James, who now lives in the United States and has no use for it).

Back to the Achilles tendon. Sue persuaded me that I really ought to get it checked out. Several weeks had passed and, whilst it was improving, it was only doing so slowly.

I made an appointment at dear old Addenbrooke's Hospital and was eventually seen and examined by a Miss Thorisdottir, a very beautiful Icelandic-born consultant orthopaedic surgeon. Miss Thorisdottir was obviously of the opinion that she or someone should have seen me sooner, but she was very gentle with me and understanding of my stubbornness. After X-rays, etc., she diagnosed not a sprained ankle but a ruptured Achilles tendon and said that it might improve without surgery. She asked me to come back again - and again, and again. 'The thing' did improve and Miss Thorisdottir seemed pleased which, of course, pleased me. She asked me to come back one more time for consideration of possible discharge. My foot wasn't right by any means, but I wasn't keen on surgery and it was still improving, but slowly. I went in to Addenbrookes to the same department and what did I find? No Miss Thorisdottir. Instead there was a gentleman consultant of obvious Eastern extraction. He, too, was very gentle and understanding and we agreed that there was nothing more that the NHS could do for me and that 'the thing' would eventually heal itself. I was officially discharged.

I thanked the Eastern gentleman and then said a tactless and thoughtless thing. I asked what had happened to Miss Thorisdottir. He said that she had 'moved on.' He then looked me in the eye and said, 'I'm not as beautiful as Miss Thorisdottir, am I?' I said, in the most tactful and thoughtful manner that I could summon up, 'No.' We both laughed and parted on excellent terms.

A year or so passed and still 'the thing' wasn't completely cured. I could walk OK, but still couldn't run. However, I was using my ride-on mower during last Summer and got it stuck up on the Fen Rivers Way, a wonderful public walk that goes from Cambridge to Ely and is close by our house on the River Cam floodbank and of which I keep a stretch mown. I had to push the mower back on to the track. I pushed and I pushed and I pushed and, suddenly, I heard a 'click' and felt a sharp pain in my left foot. It's good that nobody aside from Sue was nearby for the air was blue for a few minutes. I thought that at the least I was back to square one and would have to undergo surgery on the offending tendon. I came off the track driving my mower and then realised that, far from 'the thing' being worse, the 'click' had done something that had made it improve dramatically. I can now walk ten times better than hitherto and, whilst I still can't run fast, I can nip about sufficiently rapidly to satisfy a 71-year old's needs.

So, if 'the thing' had not 'clicked' a second time, there would have been little possibility of my 'running' for election this year. One has to be fit for this and I am now very fit. Luck played a part last Summer and the candidates standing as representaives of the Conservative, Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat and UKIP parties in South East Cambridgeshire have a very active independent to oppose them. I am aiming to win and, in my opinion, the election, both nationally and locally, is wide open. I like that sort of 'click.'

P.S. The sticker on my Discovery that says 'I Love Belgians' does not mean that I love Belgian people. It means that I love Belgian horses. Sue and I owned three beautiful American Belgian mares. Sadly, they are no longer with us but, gosh, they were lovely animals.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

To Fordham - and I couldn't get my leg over the butcher's boy's bike!

Fordham welcomed me with warmth and a few open doors today. The weather was not the best for canvassing - spitting with rain from time to time, just enough to dampen my leaflets and to make the printing run but, hey, this is England - we expect 'weather.'

I canvassed a substantial part of the village, including all of Newport Avenue, St. Peter's Place, Sharmans Road, Thirlwall Drive, Trinity Close, and parts of Mildenhall Road and River Lane. I had meant to do more, but was rained 'orf' on a number of occasions.

I really mean warmth (as above), with one exception, where I can only describe my initial welcome as 'hot.' The gentleman said, 'I don't want nothing to do with you.' And do you know what the problem was, dear readers? He initially thought that I was a party politician. I explained that I was not from or connected with any political party and am independent. His tone changed immediately and he undertook to read my literature. I know that he was very forthright and he was only one of many who are less so, but the message I get from him and many others was and is this, 'All of the major political parties are the same: we're fed up with them and their representatives.'

Lots of people say something like this and I, for one, am pleased that I have not been involved with any political party since 1999, when I resigned my membership of the South East Cambridgeshire Conservative Association. I make the point nowadays that there is surely a lot to be said for a truly independent candidate who will listen, take advice, think things through for himself and make up his own mind on the issues that affect us all, and then act and vote accordingly. I will no longer toe 'the party line' or any party line because the party line is often wrong and is subject to changes anyway.

There is good and bad in all of the major parties and I want to support that which is good and to throw out that which is rotten. Sadly, there is a lot that is rotten in British politics and we must restore trust in Parliament, both in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords.

Let's now lighten up a bit. My calls included one on my sister and brother-in-law. They produced something which I didn't know that they had - an old butcher's boy's bike, fully restored and with the name and address of my late father on it. I don't know who the butcher's boy who rode the butcher's boy's bike was, but I reckon that he had longer legs than me, for I couldn't get my leg over the butcher's boy's bike!

Here's a picture of me trying - to get my leg over - and I just couldn't. ("L.W.J. Woollard, Farmer & Butcher, Chalk Farm, Bottisham, Telephone: Bottisham 9" was my late father). I felt something of a fool, but so what. Please enjoy a laugh at my expense!