Are you going to Thanet’s Comedy Festival in Margate this Weekend?

Why not kick off at Bernie’s Chocolate Bar (bottom of the High Street on your left at you face the Turner). An all female line up of funny women:

one foer the ladies

And there are loads of shows on over the weekend.

Check out the website:

comedy isle

In case you can’t get to the Festival’s official website let me share some details with you:

There is more at Bernie’s FREE on Sat afternoon 3pm-6pm.

Comedy & Magic for KIDs FREE on Sunday at The Diner, 3 Duke St (limited places) show starts at 1pm

Musical Comedy at 3.30pm at The Britania FREE

And on Fri & Sat 6-8pm there are two FREE shows/competitions each evening for new acts.

I think these are taking place at:

  1. The Lighthouse Bar, Stone Pier
  2. The Underground, 3 Duke Street

before the two big shows that are on each evening.

There are about 8-10 stand-up comedians in each of the main shows.

We have an ansaphone but who knows how to use it?

There are people who ramble on an on until they get cut  off – that’s me, the crime I’m guilty of.

There are those who leave a message but forget to leave their number. Accidents happen, we all do this sort of thing.

In our office there are those who do not give their name, they just start talking to Mr TP. If he were there he might recognise there voice and know what they are talking about but I have no idea who they are or what job they are referring to.

But absolutely top of my list of people who need to be trained in how to use an ansaphone are those who do this one thing:

They clearly articulate the message and then

they race through their phone number at breakneck speed

such that I have to listen to the message four or more times.

I want to say to them, “Surely, how to contact you was the most important part of you message.”

Excited to be going to Broadstairs Folk Week today

Will we see you there?

Weather’s looking good for it too, not too hot and only one day with a rain forecast (wednesday).

What’s Happening in Ramsgate & Margate this summer? 2015

6 weeks of school holiday just isn’t enough to fit it all in. I have just updated my own page of See & Do in Thanet which you can find via the top  tabs or click HERE.

I use this myself to try and plan what we’ll be doing. Considering we live at the coast we spend very little time at our local beaches, like I said the holiday just isn’t long enough.

Anyway. Looking ahead to September we will have the very first 3 day Comedy Festival in Margate. I think it’s going to be brilliant. I will be at One For The Ladies at Bernie’s Choc Bar on Friday 25th. Here is a film about the event:

And we want to try to get to Ellington Park in Ramsgate on Sundays as there is lots happening there.

And good photo in Gazette here:

I notice the Gazette say the music is at 4-6pm but I think it is at 2pm because Friends of Ellington Park must be right and they say 2-4pm.

The Rights & Wrongs of Too Many Clothes – the Naked Rambler and SAS v The European Court

Humans are the only species on this planet that cover their natural bodies in manufactured clothing. A million years of evolution and our skin, with its covering of fine short hair, is not up to the job, it seems. How would Darwin explain that one? It’s a rhetorical question but I can imagine creationists may have an answer:

If the good lord had intended us to go naked she wouldn’t have created sunburn and skin cancer.

On the whole, UK law is fairly sensible and there is no law against going nude, no legislation to say we must wear clothes in public places. That is why I’ve seen a whole lot of Stephen Gough, otherwise known as the naked rambler. I’ve seen him many times and mostly naked except for sensible footwear. It seems he was born in the wrong time and place, he’d have been right at home in ancient Greece. Or actually anywhere for most of human history. Or even in some other parts of the world now. The social taboos and culture around decent dress are limited in human history.

In case you are unfamiliar with the Naked Rambler’s story in 2004 he walked, without clothes, from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Of course, he makes great TV (of the channel 4 or 5 variety). When I say i’ve see him, I mean on my TV. I’ve never met him, in the flesh. I’ve deliberately watched documentaries about this crazy anarchic libertarian. For many reasons, not least I admire people who are willing to stand out from the crowd for their beliefs. Mr Gough does more than this, however, he challenges and exposes some of the tensions in the UK between individual freedom and law and order.

It is worth repeating:

  • It is not illegal to be naked in a public place in the UK.
  • We are all wearing clothes due to social convention and possibly peer pressure (and the weather, of course).

Unfortunately, life went downhill for him and he has spent most of the last decade in prison essentially because he insists on taking his clothes off, in public places. He has been charged with the common law offense of “outraging public decency”, breach of the peace and served with civil anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs).

To spend the greater part of a decade of your life in prison for doing something that is not illegal, for simply walking around naked, does seem a bit harsh.

So Mr Gough took a case to the European Court of Human Rights claiming the UK government was restricting his freedom of self expression in contravention of European Convention on Human Rights, which was drafted in 1950, long before the European Common Market (EEC) or the EU. Note, the European Court of Human Rights was established by the Council of Europe in 1950s, it is nothing to do with the European Union. Leaving the EU, or not, makes no difference to our relationship with the Council of Europe and Human Rights.

I have been to the Court in Strasbourg and had the privilege of sitting in on a hearing in the 1990s. It was fascinating.

It is impressive that 47 countries have signed up to this process whereby a case can be considered by a bunch of judges, as many as seventeen at a time. The judges are independent experts from each of the 47 countries, so they have both great experience but no vested interest in the outcome of a case. They do not make laws but only consider each issue in relation to the European Convention on Human Rights. Judgements relate to this and only this.

The Court’s function is to ensure the enforcement and implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR drafted in 1950, as a direct consequence of the atrocities committed in Europe in 1940s).

Among other things the convention:

  • Protects the right to life.
  • Prohibits torture and “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”
  • Countries may not deport people who might be subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in the recipient state
  • Prohibits slavery and forced labour
  • Demands the right to a fair trial (the McLibel trial is very interesting in relation to this one).
  • Right to respect for private and family life
  • Right to freedom of thought & religion
  • Right to freedom of expression

The European Convention on Human Rights  is not essentially controversial. The UK government is signed up to it (and at the time was instrumental in writing it) and, in recent statements about repeal of the UK Human Rights Act, the current conservative government expressed support for the Convention and has reaffirmed its intention to remain a member of the Council of Europe.

It is notable that the government has won in the vast majority of cases against the UK, which means overall our society is very good at protecting those basic rights and freedoms that we take for granted.

Some examples of the UK losing:

  • Aslef, a trade union should be free to decide who can join. Ie can exclude people with opposing views such as BNP & NF members.
  • Spycatcher, when the UK government wanted to gag our newspapers from reporting on a book that was available for purchase all over the world except in England & Wales.
  • Not all convicted prisoners should be denied the right to vote.

In total contrast to going bare what about completely covering up?

I was very interested to follow a French case in recent years. in 2011 France outlawed full face coverings in public. If you want to rob a bank in that country you can’t wear a balaclava or a crash helmet. As soon as the law was introduced in 2011 a woman (SAS) applied to the court to defend her right to religious freedom, freedom of expression and the freedom to a private family life. The French had taken the bold step of banning the full veil, the niqab.

I couldn’t imagine such a ban in the UK where we expect to be able to wear anything (or even nothing) and we are very tolerant of other people whether they are eccentric or religious or both.  It seems a very anti-British rule, no wonder we were always at war with the French.

On the other hand I could see that the new law wasn’t a bad idea. If you are not about to mug someone at the cash point machine, why completely cover your face in a way that can frighten and intimidate others? Seeing the full face of other people is reassuring and a part of social interaction. In relation to the full veil covering the face of women, i am pleased we do not live in a society where that is the norm and note that such headgear is associated with societies that discriminate against women rather than support full gender equality.

In 2014 the Court delivered its ruling upholding the French law. Two judges held the minority view that her religious freedom was breached by the ban but all unanimously agreed that the lady had not suffered discrimination because the ban was not sole enforced on against religious or cultural garments but all full face coverings. In conclusion, the French government won and the law is still in place because showing our full face as part of living together as a social group is legitimate.

In the UK you can still walk around totally covered up from head to toe like the Stig or a ghost of the white bed sheet variety but when you cross to Calais you must alter your costume.

In 2014 the Court also delivered its decision on the naked rambler’s case, he did not win. I’m no lawyer so my interpretation may not be quite accurate but it seems similar to the French. It is legitimate for the state to curb an individual’s freedom to dress in as much or as little as s/he pleases in the interest of us living together as a social group. It doesn’t matter that the nudity of the naked man is not illegal, it is antisocial, it might upset or alarm other people and so the state is right to protect us from repetitive antisocial conduct.
Personally I don’t agree with every decision arrived at in the European Court of Human Rights, but what is marvelous about this institution is that a whole bunch of independent experts will consider the issue and evidence in relation to a clearly defined and agreed set of Human Rights.

The repeal of the Human Rights Act

Finally, the current government propose to scrap the UK Human Rights Act, I think this is about politics. About being seen to repeal laws passed by a Labour government and being seen to keep British courts free of European influence. The Human Rights Act came in in the late 1990s, the European Convention in the 1950s.

The repeal of the Human Rights Act will have

no impact on our rights

as long as the UK remain committed to the Council of Europe and the European Convention.

Jazz Festival in Ramsgate this weekend.

One of the good things about living by the seaside in Thanet, is the many great events that happen locally over the summer. I can’t get to them all, even though they’re on my doorstep.

10-11-12th July brings the annual Jazz event of Ramsgate. The Seaside Shuffle is a traditional Jazz event and includes some morning/lunchtime free music on all three days.

ramsgate jazz


Originally posted on thanetwatch:


An extraordinary book about the immigration experience gets its launch in Thanet this Saturday.

The book, Pilgrim State, published by Hodder, is written by Jackie Walker, who first moved to Broadstairs five years ago.

In 1960s Deptford seven-year-old Jackie got a crash course in racism.

“You smell wog,” said a little blonde girl she thought was going to be her friend. “Don’t you ever come near me.”

When it was first published in 2008 Guardian called the book: “a survival tale to warm the chilliest heart.”

It tells how Jackie’s family came to this country from Jamaica in the 1950s.

Jackie’s mother Dorothy had an abusive father and experienced recurring mental illness, poverty and racial discrimination.

But she set out to keep her family together – and, despite all the odds, she did.

Says Jackie: “People become immigrants to improve their lives. And while they do that, they improve the…

View original 84 more words

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