Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
Posted: March 25th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: About retirement - Howard Croft | No Comments »
Regular readers of Howard’s columns will recall that he has decided to dip his toes into the maelstrom that is local politics and he will be sending back to us regular dispatches charting his progress between now and the local elections on 5 May
A bit of a confused start. When enquiries were made on my behalf at the District Council HQ as to the earliest date candidates are permitted actively to campaign we were told, verbally, Friday 25th of March. On reflection, and in light of other deadline dates that I had in writing, I wondered if this might not be correct so I toddled down there myself and asked again. There is no mandated “not before” start date – we can do as we like; the helpful lady from the Elections Department who told me this was a bit flustered as she was about to go and train a hundred people in fifteen minutes. When I told her that incorrect information had been previously given out she didn’t seem very interested, saying only “not by anyone in my department”. I thought – but did not say – you don’t work for your department, you work for our Council. Not a battle worth fighting I think, and not one likely to be won either.
But, much has been achieved. Fiona built me a website
in about two days, which has been widely admired, and together we have written and revised leaflets and posters with which to litter the district. I collected them from the printer today. I’m a bit worried about the amount of red that has come up on my photograph (above); I look like a bit of a drinker. What I had hoped for, a resemblance to David Niven in his younger days, has not been achieved but instead I look like an enraged Alf Garnett. Still, it will have to do, I can’t afford to reprint, and anyway even with modern print technology and expensive German machines there are limits to what can be done.
I’m off to the Royal Oak tonight with a couple posters and a few leaflets where, in addition to drinking a bottle of Shiraz and eating a pie, I’ll try to perfect a style of patter that will excite the voters. I am thinking the shy charm approach will suit me best, with a hint of consumptive fatigue thrown in. That should do the trick.
The candidates from the two main parties, and from one that no longer exists, will be sporting rosettes in approved team colours but I shall be in episcopal purple. I bought them from a local saddlery that supplies them for horse-riding events – the roundel at the centre carries the word First, which I had thought to cover with a small photo of myself but given the bucolic effect I wonder if it’s wise.
Tomorrow I’m on the stump trying to persuade local shops to put up my poster.
Posted: March 18th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: About retirement - Howard Croft | Comments Off
Regular readers of Howard’s columns will recall that he has decided to dip his toes into the maelstrom that is local politics and he will be sending back to us regular dispatches charting his progress between now and the local elections on 5 May.
As you know, I have decided to stand as an Independent in the District Council election on May 5th. Strictly speaking the campaign has yet to begin. There are some rules about the off; we obviously can’t have the kind of untidy scrambling you sometimes see at the start of steeplechases, with horses all over the shop. But there are preliminaries, which are important for sole traders such as myself who have arrayed against them the full power of national party machines with all their money and familiarity with the knavish tricks of political scrapping. I shall have to draw heavily on my reserves of slyness if I am to prevail.
I have received some family advice – from a cousin: “Don’t forget, you’ll have to try to be nice to people” – and encouragement – from my daughter: “With no policies and no principles, you are the ideal candidate.” Buoyed up by this warm encouragement I set about nailing together campaign literature. I was lucky enough to unearth the perfect photograph in which I am not only wearing a suit and tie, but also smiling, the only such snap known to be in existence. I showed it to my clever economist friend who, with unconcealed astonishment, remarked that I look like someone you can trust. The girl at the pet shop saw it and said I “look like a matinee idol, but reliable”. A promising start. In fact I’m having two photos on my leaflet, a second with the dog. More people know Rosie than know me, and if you enjoy the affection of a dog you are regarded as an all-round good egg.
My first official outing was to a presentation at the Council offices, given by the chief executive to prospective candidates, a mixture of malcontents, idealists and the deluded as far as I could make out. I see myself as an idealist. The chief executive confided, unwisely in my view, that as the returning officer she could lose her house and go to prison if we were to break the rules (there are many rules) and she to fail to get us into line – I noticed the malcontents perk up at this point, but she’ll have no trouble from me.
I am lucky enough to have as my rabbi a seasoned councillor who is not standing this time round. I expect you know the type: when they laugh heartily and say things like, “You don’t want to listen to me, I’m just a simple soldier” you know you are in dangerous company, precisely the kind of company you need if you are going into a jungle. He is my William Whitelaw. My expectations of him are high, especially in the way of strategic vision and low battlefield cunning.
Our first job was to decide which ten people should sign my nomination papers. My lot, in addition to him, includes my hairdresser, the landlady of the Royal Oak, a retired vicar and a chap from the Civic Amenity Site where I am a popular tipper and loyal frequenter. It is particularly important to have your hairdresser on board – he will be there at the count with can of spray and a comb to keep me looking fresh. With the army, the licensed trade and Holy Mother Church represented on my team I am holding many aces.
On the advice of my rabbi, I attended a Council meeting last week. It was a bit hair-raising – a lot of waspish observations about the weaknesses of others and a certain amount of self-admiration. Were it not for the iron control of the Chairman I fear that fighting might have broken out, and in a rural area like this where most people have shotgun licences, that is something best avoided. Maybe I am naive, but I was surprised by the amount of time that was expended talking about procedure as opposed to substantial issues.
Well, there it is. Soon we’ll be under starter’s orders and I’ll be rushing round town, spreading my personality about like cheap margarine. I’ll keep you posted.
Posted: March 8th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: About retirement - Howard Croft | 1 Comment »
I’m limbering up for what for me is what invading Poland was for Hitler – I’m planning to stand in the May local elections for Ryedale District Council. I shall be standing as an independent. As my daughter ungenerously observed, “being unburdened by principles or policies, you are the ideal candidate”. We shall see.
My initial preparation involved having a cursory medical, which revealed a blood pressure reading that encouraged me to press ahead – 83/141. It used to be said that your “big number” should be no more than 100+age, which in my case would be 166, but my actual reading shows that I have the BP of a man 25 years my junior; of course, the restless medics have abandoned this neat rule of thumb, saying now that I shouldn’t exceed 150. I’m sticking with the old system.
The task now facing me is to compose what is grandly referred to as my manifesto – in reality a list of obvious targets. A more shallow, self-serving man would be tempted to promote policies from which he himself would benefit – free bets on the Grand National for OAPs, a bottle of sherry a week for people with hearing-aids, that kind of thing. But I see a bigger picture: fears for our local hospital despite reassurances from slippery officials, patchy provision of flood defences, often bizarre planning decisions inadequately explained. If elected, I am looking forward to finding out more about the Council’s obsession with obesity, which is very strange. Certainly there is a problem, but even if the Council were to abandon all its services and divert its efforts to its solution, nothing would change; it is a complicated and difficult issue with multi-factorial causes, and one which local government is, perhaps more than any agency, incompetent to address.Were it no so, there would be fewer chubby employees in town halls.
I have been given extensive tuition on what to expect from politicians: passive-aggressive behaviour, character assassination, delusional beliefs, halitosis etc. Pretty much what you find in business in other words. What I hope to find is altruism, saintliness and high standards of personal hygiene. I shall keep you posted. Eight weeks to polling day.
Posted: March 2nd, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Miscellaneous | Comments Off
Now, I am a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to all things chocolate and today I was treated to the most wonderful sea salted caramel pecan brownie from Paul A Young’s fabulous boutique chocolaterie at the Royal Exchange in London.
Ronnie Fox who introduced me to this chocolate heaven (and kindly bought me the brownie) assures me that the hot chocolate which is made on the premises is also particularly good. And it certainly smelled divine.
Paul was in the Royal Exchange shop today and told us that he is busy working on his mother’s day collection. We have offered to act as tasters – if the current selection is anything to go by, the mother’s day chocolates will be sensational!
If you ever get the chance to visit, do so. Paul also has a shop in Camden Passage in Islington where he hand-makes the chocolates. And there is a website where you can look longingly at some of his creations (but sadly can’t yet buy).
A word of caution to anyone planning to buy Paul’s chocolates as presents for other people or indeed asking someone else to buy them for you – there are many stories circulating of chocolates being consumed on the way home and never reaching their intended recipient…You have been warned!!
For more information, visit Paul A Young’s website http://www.paulayoung.co.uk/
PS Since I first posted this, I have been in touch with Judith Lewis who is a big fan of Paul and regularly blogs about his work at http://mostlyaboutchocolate.com/ A great blog for chocoholics!