All posts tagged 'Gun-Wharf'

Dockyard could take lesson from the 'boyos’ in how to transform

by The Codgers' Club Friday, March 2 2012

by Alan Watkins

The other day was my eldest son’s birthday. His son, Max, was born just over a month before, while his daughter celebrated her third birthday yesterday.

If that wasn’t enough for the family’s birthday card-buyers, Gramps celebrated his 65th birthday with a trip to Wales.

It is a long time since I have been down the Valleys. They don’t change very much.

Most of the slag heaps have gone. You can actually see how green was the valley that Richard Llewellyn immortalised.

The docks have been transformed in a way that leaves me speechless – and must frustrate the Medway councillors who expected similar glory at Chatham Maritime.

It was where my grandfather occasionally visited as a merchant seaman and 40 years on I went in search of scrapheaps to photograph.

Half a century later, there is a Welsh Assembly in Cardiff Docks, copper-clad and more glittery than the University of Kent building. The Welsh, Irish, Scots, Manxmen, Channel Islanders all have their own parliaments, but the English are still ruled by a mixture of Welsh, Irish, Scots…you already had the picture, probably. 

Chatham Maritime as the government’s mindbenders chose to rename the naval dockyard has a handful of shops, the obligatory iconic building (which actually does look like the artist’s impression we dubbed the Two Towers), half a dozen good restaurants, a housing estate, a new school with old problems, a working dock that could be swept away for more dormitory dwellings if its owner gets its way, and a splendid historic dockyard.

Oh yes, and Gun Wharf. Nearly 30 years after the dockyard closed, there are still large tracts of waste land waiting for someone, anyone, to build on it.

The dream is becoming a nightmare, and the quality jobs explosion that we expected? – it seems unlikely ever to come.

When you visit Chatham Maritime you are rarely stopped from entering any of its eateries.

At Cardiff Bay (the twee name dreamed up for the transformed Tiger Bay) there must be 150 restaurants and cafes vying for custom. They don’t take bookings on Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays – the queues of hungry customers waiting for an empty table prove that marketing ploy is unnecessary.

Back here, the other day I was asked where I could recommend for a small group to go for a quiet drink and a bar snack. I’m still trying to find an answer in Medway.

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Categories: Chatham

Who needs technology? Bring back the quill!

by The Codgers' Club Friday, November 5 2010

by Alan Watkins

Grab the New Jerusalem (I gather that’s this week’s in-phrase for the World Wide Web). Seize the communications powers..... I did (puff). I have (puff). I will – if only I can keep up with developments.

These days my legs don’t move as quickly as they used to. Did you know we Codgers now blog and tweet? Now in my younger day tweets were certainly an insult, and might have been grounds for selecting weapons at dawn in Gillingham Park.

Having blagged for most of our lives, we are having to get used to calling ourselves bloggers. Back in the early Eighties I was one of the first to have a computer attached to the internet.

It allowed me to send quick letters to customers and clients. It was a strange device, however, big, grey, extremely hot and noisy.

It needed lots of words set inside funny brackets that might have escaped from a British Railways misguided notice board.

Now, as it happens, I have been blogging for a little time, picking up various tales from Gun Wharf and relaying them to the wider world for Medway Messenger’s on-line readers.

Incidentally, I thought playing on line was dangerous: my old gramp told me you should never play on railways, then took me to a loco shed to look at the brutes on which he worked. I also Google (but the doctor says it is all right providing I keep it under control).

In the past few years new words have appeared, and old ones have been corrupted (something that apparently happens occasionally to hard drives).

There are things I draw the line at undertaking. I refuse to socially network on something called Facebook (whatever it is).  I even have a tag (which, for Mr Cook’s benefit, we used to call a handle).

I have a digital camera. It has a piece of plastic the size of an undernourished thumbnail. Somehow it holds 16,000 pictures, and thanks to an army of pixies (I think that’s what they call themselves) can be uploaded to a computer in a matter of nanoseconds.

You can let loose a Paintshop professional who lives inside your computer. He can turn them green, add faces, words and nu merous other things to distort your original image.You can write a document using a similar number of fonts in different sizes.

As for vocabulary, heaven help my 20-month-old granddaughter. She already knows how to choose TV channels, call grandma on her parents’ mobile phones (another device that deserves kicking into touch) and change the music on the multiplayer at home.

What will she have to confront when she is a Codger herself? It is time for Codgerdom to demand: Bring back the quill!

At least David Cameron should be delighted at the savings that will achieve for the British economy.

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Categories: Moans and groans

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