Best movies ever?

I like films, and have watched a few over the years. I subscribe to IMDB, and mark the films I have watches. I can provide a top ten, based on the 932 that I have apparently marked, and here it is:

1. The 39 Steps (1935)

A man in London tries to help a counterespionage agent. But when the agent is killed and the man stands accused, he must go on the run to both save himself and also stop a spy ring which is trying to steal top secret information. (86 mins.)
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Lucie Mannheim, Godfrey Tearle

2. Bleak House (2005 Mini-Series)

A suspenseful tale about the injustices of the 19th-century English legal system (510 mins.)
Stars: Anna Maxwell Martin, Denis Lawson, Carey Mulligan, Finn Morrell

3. The Apartment (1960)

A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue. (125 mins.)
Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston

4. The Good Wife (2009 TV Series)

Alicia has been a good wife to her husband, a former state’s attorney. After a very humiliating sex and corruption scandal, he is behind bars. She must now provide for her family and returns to work as a litigator in a law firm. (60 mins.)
Stars: Julianna Margulies, Chris Noth, Josh Charles, Matt Czuchry

5. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Upon admittance to a mental institution, a brash rebel rallies the patients to take on the oppressive head nurse. (133 mins.)
Director: Milos Forman
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Michael Berryman, Peter Brocco

6. Casablanca (1942)

Set in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II: An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications. (102 mins.)
Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains

7. Pride and Prejudice (1995 Mini-Series)

Jane Austen’s classic novel about the prejudice that occurred between the 19th century classes and the pride which would keep lovers apart. (327 mins.)
Stars: Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle, Susannah Harker, Julia Sawalha

8. The Bridges of Madison County (1995)

Photographer Robert Kincaid wanders into the life of housewife Francesca Johnson, for four days in the 1960s. (135 mins.)
Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep, Annie Corley, Victor Slezak

9. North & South (2004 Mini-Series)

North and South is a four part adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s love story of Margaret Hale, a middle class southerner who is forced to move to the northern town of Milton. (235 mins.)
Stars: Daniela Denby-Ashe, Richard Armitage, Tim Pigott-Smith, Sinéad Cusack

10. Black Adder the Third (1987 TV Series)
Episode: Ink and Incapability (1987)

Baldrick burns the only copy of Samuel Johnson’s dictionary, and Blackadder has only one weekend to rewrite it. (180 mins.)
Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Hugh Laurie, Helen Atkinson Wood

I guess you have spotted that it is not all films, some TV creeps in. Anyway, what this says about me I am not entirely sure.

The Cliffs Museum must not be built with public money

My objection to building on green spaces is well documented. Whilst I would not say ‘never’, I need to be convinced of real need before I would prepared to endorse concreting over any of the remaining green spaces in Southend-on-Sea. This was largely why I objected to the proposals for the Cliffs Museum. I accept I lost that argument, not enough in the council chamber shared my views. However, I am still convince that putting a museum on the beautiful cliffs is a mad and bad scheme.

However, it was approved, and only awaits sufficient funding. This funding, it has so far been hoped, will come from private backers; I take solace in my belief that this is unlikely to provide the estimated £40 million required.

I hope, though, that no idea surfaces suggesting that any shortfall should be made up from public coffers. Aside from the issue of what has to be sacrificed (that is , cut) to make this happen, the lack of private investment surely suggests that this project is not a money maker. Public money should not, again, be wasted on a project in Southend-on-Sea that sees good money effectively thrown away. The last administration was very profligate, a fate thus far avoided by the Joint Administration.

I wonder how much has been donated so far? I expect it is a fraction of what is needed, and long may that continue. It may soon be time to consider alternate venues for the Prittlewell Prince (or whatever his actual true title). Maybe the old Beecroft Gallery, opposite the Cliffs Pavilion, could be adapted.

Corrigendum, a weekend

With Cllr Nevin at the vintage fair

With Cllr Nevin at the vintage fair

I recall one conversation where the promise of a vote depended on my knowledge of Thomas Paine. This really was a unique conversation, and eleven years later it is still a strong memory. There have many memorable doorstep encounters over the years.

Recently I was seen off with “you only ever come around at election time”; this was some eleven months before the next election, so self-evidently untrue. Whilst many are welcoming, some, it would seem, have been storing up their prejudices in anticipation of a politician’s visit. I have been called a liar, a cheat, only in it (trying to serve) for what I can get out of it. These are rare, and never as frustrating as the seeming legion of disenchanted and disengaged for whom voting is something other people do. However, there are some who are so convinced by the accepted narrative that they will not allow the contradicting evidence to deter them from repeating what they’ve allowed themselves to be convinced of.

“Cheers, dude”; and thus one conversation ended thus. It was a conversation notable for the “what is it with UKIP?” comment; this resident was no fan.

I am trying to find out what put people off from supporting Labour this time. This is not a conversation to be had with those who backed us this time; those supporting us in our electoral nadir are the nearest thing to a sure thing in voting terms. It is the Tory and other parties supporters who interest me. Of course, many would never lend their vote to Labour, but nonetheless it is illuminating to hear their views. This is not a political comfort zone, but it is (in the humble opinion of this observer) a necessary discourse.

One thing I think I have detected is the unravelling of the shy Tory phenomenon. In the run-in to May 7th it is apparent (with the benefit of hindsight) that there were many Tories who were reluctant to admit as much. Cameron’s victory appears to have encouraged them to out themselves. This is how it seems to me, in my small snapshot.

This weekend I paid a visit to the High Street to watch the march for Armed Forces Day. I also went to Warrior Square Gardens for the vintage fair being held there. and to Old Leigh for the folk festival. Of course, the highlight was the overnight stay of my granddaughter, Nellie.

Leigh Folk Festival

Leigh Folk Festival

Tracks no more

Station Road, Westcliff-on-Sea

Station Road, Westcliff-on-Sea

I am pleased to note that the long-standing eyesore that was Tracks has been bought and looks like it will be an eyesore no more. It was not just an eyesore, it was also a home for vermin, a magnet for the homeless, and the subject of much grumbling from its neighbours.

I am not able to claim the credit for this undoubted improvement, not all of it anyway. But I have been vocal in my condemnation of its dilapidated state, and have sought, and achieved, council officer intervention on several occasions.

So, I do claim a little credit. I believe that my prodding has encouraged about change, even if only to wake up the previous owners to the reality of this (former) blight on the community.

Those dancing pigeons will now have to seek a new home.

What Labour achieved, lest we forget

Politics and Insights


1. Longest period of sustained low inflation since the 60s.
2. Low mortgage rates.
3. Introduced the National Minimum Wage and raised it to £5.52 per hour.
4. Over 14,000 more police in England and Wales.
5. Cut overall crime by 32 per cent.
6. Record levels of literacy and numeracy in schools.
7. Young people achieving some of the best ever results at 14, 16, and 18.
8. Funding for every pupil in England has doubled.
9. Employment is at its highest level ever.
10. 3,700 rebuilt and significantly refurbished schools; including new and improved classrooms, laboratories and kitchens. 
11. 85,000 more nurses.
12. 32,000 more doctors.
13. Brought back matrons to hospital wards.
14. Devolved power to the Scottish Parliament.
15. Devolved power to the Welsh Assembly.
16. Dads now get paternity leave of 2 weeks for the first time.
17. NHS Direct offering free convenient patient advice.

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Thorpe Voice


#HearMe #VoteFeminist

unnamedThose who suffer domestic violence should be helped. Bearing in mind the economic straights we are still in I would do what I can to help find the funding to help those who are suffering.

I am happy to pledge support for this.

Shoebury News

ShoeburyNewsThere is going to be quite a tussle in Shoeburyness ward. Labour are working hard, the Conservatives fancy their chances, and the defending member of the Independent Group won’t go without a fight.

The first thing you notice about Anne Chalk’s leaflet is that there is no mention of her fellow Independent Group ward councillors, and only a passing reference to the Joint Administration that she is part of. Anne clearly believes her best chance of remaining a councillor lie with her showing true independence.

I think it has been a broadly successful year for the Joint Administration, although I know that Anne has had her gripes. I confess to be a little puzzled by her strategy – we will not have to wait long to see whether it is successful.

This leaflet has no imprint.

Labour’s plan to tackle tax avoidance

Labour is setting out the measures it will take to tackle tax avoidance in the first months of a Labour Government.

With campaigners and NGOs backing calls for a “Tax Dodging Bill”, Labour’s first Finance Bill will act to tackle tax avoidance. Labour will set out the measures in an Opposition Day Debate on Wednesday 11th February.

Labour’s motion also notes that just one out of 1,100 people who have avoided or evaded tax have been prosecuted following the revelations of malpractice at HSBC bank, which were first given to the government in May 2010.

It also calls upon Lord Green and the Prime Minister to make a full statement about his role at HSBC and his appointment as a Minister in 2011.

Labour will act in our first Finance Bill to:

  • Introduce penalties for those who are caught by the General Anti-Abuse Rule
  • Close loopholes used by hedge funds to avoid stamp duty
  • Close loopholes like the Eurobonds loophole which allow some large companies to move profits out of the UK and avoid Corporation Tax
  • Stop umbrella companies exploiting tax reliefs
  • Scrapping the “Shares for Rights” scheme, which the OBR has warned could enable avoidance and cost £1bn and is administered by HMRC, and so ensure HMRC can better focus on tackling tax avoidance
  • Tackle disguised self-employment by introducing strict deeming criteria
  • Tackle the use of dormant companies to avoid tax by requiring them to report more frequently

Labour’s measures to tackle tax avoidance will also include:

  • Ensuring stronger independent scrutiny of the tax system, including reliefs, and the government’s efforts to tackle tax avoidance
  • Forcing the UK’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to produce publicly available registries of beneficial ownership
  • Making country-by-country reporting information publicly available
  • Ensuring developing countries are properly engaged in the drawing up of global tax rules

Another year in books

Here is what I have tackled in 2014. I guess it is an odd assortment, which rather mirrors my undisciplined approach to reading.

Highlight? I would plump for The Second World War by Antony Beevor, with honourable mentions for A Greedy Man in a Hungry World and The God Delusion.

Alexander McCall Smith The Sunday Philosophy Club
Alistair Cooke Letter From America Collection
Ann Widdecombe Strictly Ann : The Autobiography
Antony Beevor The Second World War
Beverly Donofrio Riding in Cars with Boys : Confessions of a bad girl who makes good
Billy Connolly Billy Connolly’s Route 66
David Attenborough Quest under Capricorn
Guy Walters The Real Great Escape
Helen Simonson Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
Jay Rayner A Greedy Man in a Hungry World
Kate McCann Madeleine
Laurence Shames Welcome to Paradise
M. C. Beaton Agatha Raisin and the Fairies Of Fryfam
Mary Soames A Daughter’s Tale : The memoir of Winston and Clementine Churchill’s youngest child
Peter Moore Damn His Blood
Peter Robinson Before the Poison
Pip Grainger Alone
R. H. Tawney Religion and the Rise of Capitalism
Richard Dawkins The God Delusion
Robert Dimery (general editor) 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die
Robert Sellers An A-Z of Hellraisers : A Compendium of Outrageous Insobriety
Robert Service Lenin : A Biography
Robert Wilson Astronomy through the ages : The story of the human attempt to understand the Universe
Ruth Rendell The Monster In The Box
Stephen Fry Fry’s English Delight Series 3
Suggs That Close
Susan Ottaway Sisters, Secrets and Sacrifice