Monday, 12 April 2010

The team worked close to home today - great again!

We worked close to home today, Sue and I 'doing' parts of Bottisham in the afternoon and me in Burwell again this evening.

We are, of course, so well-known in our own immediate locality that few introductions are necessary, but an explanation of my independent stance is invariably of interest. As soon as I mention that I am my own man, that I owe nothing to any big backer, and that I now have no party line to toe, the eyes of those I am speaking to show renewed interest. They really want an independent MP upon whom they can rely to refer back to them from time to time and not, as is the practice with so many when they are sent to Westminster, to forget about their electorates and to take their speaking and voting orders from 'above.'

I do subscribe to the philosophy of Edmund Burke, however. He said, 'Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.' Please note that Mr Burke uses the words 'his judgement.' That is not without significance for it means what it says, 'his judgement,' and not the judgement of party bosses and party whips. If elected on the 6th of May, I will listen, take advice, think things through for myself and make up my own mind on the important issues of the day, and I will act and vote accordingly, hopefully in the best interests of the whole of South East Cambridgeshire - my life-time home and the home of the ancestors of both my wife and myself.

Mention of my wife, Sue, causes me to report with pleasure and gratitude that she was a street walker again today. She walked the streets of Bottisham almost to exhaustion. She is a splendid gal and I am very proud of her. We will have been married for 48 years next week. Not bad, eh?

Here is Sue at the entrance to Thomas Christian Way in Bottisham.

No doubt there are some among my readers who will be wondering why the street is called 'Thomas Christian Way.' Briefly summarised, the site was a military camp during the Second World War, first occupied by the RAF and then by personnel of the 361st Fighter Group of the United States Eighth Army Air Force. These heroes were initially under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Jonathan Jackson Christian, Jr. This gentleman was, in turn, the great grandson of Lieutenant General Thomas Jonathan Jackson (1824 - 1863), the great Confederate commander in the American 'Civil War.' My parents, living nearby at Chalk Farm, Bottisham, knew Colonel Christian and many of his men. Indeed, there are still ladies of Bottisham of a certain age who not only remember the men but whose eyes still light up at the thought of them. Bottisham 'girls' had never experienced anything like it, before or since.
Colonel Christian was killed in August, 1944, over Arras, France. His last P51 Mustang - Lou IV - was as pictured below.

There is much more information at -

When the old camp site came to be developed, a number of people, including the developers (Bellway Homes), thought that it would a nice idea if Bottisham's American heroes were commemorated. It was decided that this street should be called 'Thomas Christian Way' to commemorate the lost Colonel Christian. And, believe it or not, Bellway Homes found that Colonel Christian had a living daughter who had been born in the U.S. and whom her father had never seen. The daughter was called Lou, hence the names of the Colonel's successive 'planes. The mature and elegantly beautiful Lou was flown over from her home in Austin, Texas, and she was treated right royally by Bellway and we locals. She unveiled the memorial to the 361st Fighter Group and the 'Thomas Christian Way' street sign, both as pictured above alongside Sue. Immediately following the unveiling, there was a flypast by a real P51 fighter 'plane. The event was heart-rendingly moving and several of us were in tears. Bottisham had remembered and Bottisham still remembers.

(Incidentally, shortly after this event, Sue and I were vacationing in the U.S. and we visited the cemetery at Lexington, Virginia, where lies buried General Jackson. At the foot of his monument there is also a small stone commemorating the life and death of his great grandson, 'our' Colonel Christian. The latter is also commemorated at Arras, France, where he was killed). 

I concentrated today on what we used to call 'the new estate,' delivering leaflets and visiting homes in Beechwood Avenue, Cedar Walk, Maple Close, Mulberry Close, Rowan Close, Spring Lane, Trinity Close, Vineyard Walk and Willow Way. The 'new estate' arrived in the 1960s and so it is no longer new: it is mature. Moreover, the trees that were planted soon after are also more mature. In my opinion, any new estate development must have an appropriate number of trees and shrubs planted at the time of its development. I love trees and have planted trees wherever I have had ownership or influence. The trees in Maple Close, Bottisham, are beginning to show their leaves again after the long winter. Here they are.

I called on an old friend, Mr Owen King. Owen has always been a stalwart supporter of Bottisham. He is retired now but was a senior officer with Cambridge City Council. We fell to discussing the City and I mentioned that the best idea for solving Cambridge's parking problems that I had ever heard was from the late County Councillor Robert James who advocated an underground car park beneath Parker's Piece somewhat akin to the Park Lane one under Hyde Park in London. That may not be on, now, more's the pity. Owen King told me that a mock-up model of the car park had been made and was at the Guildhall until quite recently. He and I supposed that those now in charge of the City's affairs have thrown out the model in the same way that the idea was thrown out all those years ago.

It occurred to me whilst I was talking to Mr King that it would be nice if he or I could be photographed at or near his house. As I am more vain than Owen, he took my picture as I was pretending to break down his door. Thanks, Owen!

I went this evening to Burwell and canvassed Old School Close and Baker Drive. The latter includes Ness Court, a greatly valued sheltered housing development that is now run by Sanctuary Hereward, the Housing Association that purchased the housing stock of East Cambridgeshire District Council in a multi-million pound deal that some District Councillors are now regretting.

Here is Ness Court. Sue and I have friends there. They (our friends) are doing well and we have no complaints.

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