SUNDAY 19  MAY 2024


Breezy Bridlington is so full of history — including an attempt to kill an old Queen

I ENJOYED Christopher Wilson's tale of our greatest living artist David Hockney giving up the glitz of LA for not very bright but breezy Bridlington to be near his old mum on Blighty's East Coast with its Arctic winds, chippies and pubs.

But although Brid is not the Costas by any stretch of the imagination it does have an historic claim to fame … and another famous resident, (well to us Drone readers anyway) — former Daily Express Deputy Editor Paul Potts. He lives just up the road on his farm these days and can often be found on the Bridlington beach walking his dog, when he's not being Professor of Journalism at Sheffield Uni.

That doesn't make Brid famous of course, but the history books do. For it was the place where the Queen of England was nearly assassinated. Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles I, was attacked in the Yorkshire town on the North Sea at the height of the English Civil War in 1642. The news spread all over the country and made Brid, known as Bretlinton, famous. 

As daughter of the King of France, she had sailed across the channel to beg her father for weapons and ammunition for her husband's army in return for some of the Crown jewels. She returned with a fleet of 7 ships carrying Dutch arms and troops but the next morning as she sheltered in a house by the pier, Brid was bombarded by Cromwell's navy chasing her. She fled with her ladies-in-waiting and hid on the banks of the Gypsy Race stream which runs through the town, leaving a pair of her royal gloves to the householder who helped them. 

Henrietta Maria famously wrote to Charles: "…before I was out of bed the cannon balls whistled over me and you may imagine I did not like the music." 

The stream, west of the pier, is today a sad little stretch of muddy water leading to the North Sea, and full of litter and discarded shopping trolleys. But 400 years ago, it was a full flowing river. One of Henrietta's gloves is now in the Bridlington Museum and many historians make the pilgrimage to see it. I often wonder whether Paul has made that pilgrimage? He is a passionate lover of history. I expect so.

I remember giving him a lift to our old Express buddy Gordon Ducker's funeral in Cambridge. As we approached Peterborough, Paul suggested that we popped into the city's famous cathedral. It was there, he explained, that Henry VIII’s first wife (and longest) Catharine of Aragon, was buried in her tomb in 1536. She was probably the only woman he truly loved.

The tomb was vandalised by Cromwell's troops in April 1643. But a new memorial slab was installed in 1895 after a national campaign for the 'Katharines of England' to each donate a penny to the cause, organised by the wife of one of the Cathedral canons, also named Katharine.

Paul was a lover of Tudor history and knew that I enjoyed the lutes and flutes of Tudor music, so off we went. The trip into the city took longer than expected, parking up and all that. But we visited the tomb which was covered in pomegranate flowers from her family crest, and read all the inscriptions, before quickly making our way back to the A14.

We were running late and hoping we could make up some time when we passed Ducker in his hearse on his way to the crem with his RAF cap on his coffin. I saluted and Paul did a respectful wave as we slowly passed him and arrived for the service with ten minutes to spare. It was a good turnout.

I hope that Paul and Hockney, now 86, meet up on Bridlington beach one day. Hockney too is a lover of dogs. He once produced a notebook of oils depicting his much-loved dachshunds, 'Stanley and Boodgie At Play.'

The notebooks went on sale a few years ago with envelopes to match. Will Paul send him an invite to dinner on the notepaper, I wonder? What a guest.

Meanwhile, Christopher Wilson is still right about Brid. Like so many of our seaside towns it has not managed to come into the glitzy world of the Spanish Costas … one armed bandits; burgers, buns and Union Jack trunks still abound. And the English weather keeps our seasides poor. Brid has had a bad summer and traders are going bust. What a beach though.


Here come the Owenites

As we approach another General Election the Corbynites gird their loins like gladiators for battle without a thought for what most of the country may want and be good for it … only what a minority deem to be good for it.

Not least of all the excitable Mr Owen Jones, who last week warned us of the dangers of the Blairites rising like a tsunami in the Labour hierarchy. Owenites of course, are what we really need, he explains in the Guardian following Starmer's Cabinet reshuffle: “Labour now has a shadow cabinet dominated by politicians opposed to taxing the well-to-do; sceptical about public investment, fixated with expanding the private sector in public services and uncomfortable with the welfare state!”

That may well be, but for Labour to continue to be riddled with the worst elements of the nutty hard Left, would bring more electoral disaster next year, surely? Mr Jones can't grasp the fact that a government must represent all the people, not just the few who share his point of view. He already has their votes. 

And in truth, the majority of both former Labour and Tory voters are more comfortable with Blair than they are with Corbyn and Owen and other Red Flag Brothers. He was aspirational. He understood the masses and was a breath of fresh air when he swept to power. 

The Owenites forget too easily and love to rant about Blair and Iraq. They call him a traitor and if you back him, you are a traitor too. But someone needs to make them understand that voters who may hold the balance of power feel that our system is against them. 

There is no fairness if you work hard; behave yourself; pay your bills; keep your garden tidy; respect your neighbours and save. They see their taxes being paid out to shirkers who don't want to work; illegal immigrants getting free accommodation while they get more taxation and debts. Not that Sunak's high taxation, weak and squabbling Tory Government is the answer to their problems. 

Far from it, they have lost so many of us voters and many are still considered relics of the leather armchairs in Gentlemen's Clubs. Every time most households see scores of illegal African males on their TV sets, waving from our beaches, they believe the lads are just coming for a good night out and not fleeing intolerable persecution. And no one can stop them. Where are our Drakes and Nelsons? Would Churchill let them storm the beaches? As I said in an earlier column, they are shouting at their screens.

Sunak has no balls is the consensus out there. He should kick the anonymous pyjama judges at the Court of Human Rights out of bed for stealing our sovereignty late at night and stopping the Rwanda flights. That's what most of our country thinks and our own judges too.

It is incredible that we pay millions in overseas aid to the very countries these fit, young, unidentified men flee for our so-called streets of gold. What will our cosy Emmerdale villages of perhaps 800 residents do when 2,000 single males plod through the streets and sit on their fences and gates all day? And please don't tell me it won't happen. No wonder Belgium has banned them. It may be wrong, but for many it is right.

As one African immigrant told a TV reporter last week as he watched King Charles attend an event where there were protests against royalty: “Britain is different now. It needs to change to a new society, new monuments, and cultures.” Really, why?

Not that most angry voters in the cities care much. They care about the stabbings on our streets; the food banks; our own homeless. Paying their mortgages and rents.

But it's not just immigration. We are tearing ourselves apart. All over the country you can hear the echoes of the Neasden Omnibus Company canteen where stories abound of firemen and policemen falling over and faking disability payments; of massive payouts to water bosses who pollute our rivers and seas then walk off with million-pound nest eggs; of single mums with seven children from three partners, demanding bigger houses and getting them … of the council tax system not everyone pays for. And of councils breaking their budgets for ideology.

There are stories too, of Wokeism … and hospitals banning the word 'mother'. Of gender free toilets our women don't want. (Depending on how you identify). The list goes on. We're a mess. No wonder so many people are confused about how to vote. I am balancing on a wobbly fence.

Labour may be ahead in the polls, and more so now following Starmer's cabinet reshuffle with the Blairites. But Mr Jones should remember how many of us feared the utopian world of Corbynism? It came with an economy-busting cost.

Free broadband; free adult learning; free dental care and the biggest council house building programme in decades. Open borders; cuts in the armed forces; cuts in the secret services and policing; abolishment of student tuition fees and more … even nationalising football and the Premier League … and ultimately all private homes. For private property is theft, some Corbynites believe.

It was to be all paid for by the so-called rich and the horrible bankers, businesses and bosses who are 'traitors' to the State. Let them leave the country, so what? This hard left ideology is, of course, why the majority of the British public turned away from Corbyn and his placard-carrying army of Joneses in the first place.

No one it seems really has the answers to all this and we will probably roll on the same old way with a hung parliament and endless wrangling on whether we should rejoin Europe. Even Corbyn's bicycle bottom was sore sitting on the fence for so long over on that one. Watch this space as he would endlessly say. We did until there was nothing there.


Where are the deniers?

WHERE have they all gone, they are very quiet? You know, the people who ranted at us claiming there was no such thing as Covid. My God they were angry, weren't they? And knew it all.

There were no packed wards full of patients struggling to breathe, some said, others told us there was no new pandemic, it was just flu, like every year. Some even claimed to be scientists. Science of what? Knitting? There were thousands of them.

I was on Twitter then with a following of 26,000 and it was a minefield of abuse, especially from those who saw plots in plots – namely the conspiracy theorists. You know the type: Hitler lived on; the Moon landing was really in an American desert and Elvis still rides his motorbike around the shores of Hawaii. Not to mention bonkers David Icke and his underground dragons.

They called doctors, Government Ministers and nurses, liars and even refused to heed social distances as many still packed beaches and parks. And my God, if they knew you worked for the Daily Express then you were Tory scum (where have I heard that before?).

But now a worrying new coronavirus variant called Pirola is ripping through the UK. Positive cases have been doubling almost every few days in the past weeks and the new fast-mutating virus is quickly taking over as England's dominant Covid strain.

It has made experts worry so much the World Health Organisation has placed it on its watch list after it was confirmed the variant has more than 30 different mutations, making it difficult for scientists to analyse properly.

It's thought that there will be a huge surge of cases from the BA.2.86 strain as the country heads into Autumn – like when the Coronavirus Pandemic was at its most dangerous in 2020 and 2021. Vaccines are being sent out to medical centres, as I write...

Which makes me remember the silliness of people who genuinely believed that the vaccines were microchipped by the government to make us servile. Remember them? It was a Boris plot.

You have to worry about our country all the time, don't you? As my grandfather always said: "There's more out than in!" Terry.

King of the Hollywood Jungle

I couldn’t resist sharing this picture with you from the Department of Grainy snaps at MGM. It’s the day they took their risky picture of Leo the Lion in 1957. He has long passed to the lion’s den in the sky, but this is him making his audition debut before he became the eighth and last lion to be used in the opening of their movies.

Born in Dublin Zoo, he was the youngest of his co-stars to be filmed roaring, that’s why he has a smaller mane than the others. And some of them wouldn’t roar for the cameras so MGM had to use sound recordings. For those anoraks like me, who might be interested and are still reading this, his first movie was Tip on a Dead Jockey. From the Department of utter bollocks and picture editor Kristine Bogcanovitch.

Life’s a beach

The Brothers have done it again. Just at a time when so many of us former Tory voters are desperately searching for an alternative to Rishi Sunak and his impersonations of the Sheriff of Nottingham, robbing the less well-off to stabilise the lives of the well off, with his stealth taxes, we are told that Birmingham council has gone bankrupt.

But they claim it’s the Government’s fault of course because of Sunak’s austerity rule. Oh, come off it, Labour. Why is everything the Government’s fault? Even the school buildings crisis is apparently. But Sunak didn’t mix the cement, did he?

The news about the Brum Brothers breaks the week we discover that Labour authorities are twice as likely to let their staff work from home, the beach or even abroad, than any other political party. Nice work if you can get it.

But as if the battalions of clerks who normally have their coats on the back of their chairs at 10 minutes to five, ready to go home, are going to stare into their laptops for eight hours on the sands every day. I don’t believe it.

Meanwhile, as the lid comes off the pandora’s box of Birmingham, we learn that the Brum Brothers stomped their way through a budget of £3 billion with their red flag in one year alone, spending £84 million more than they should. Close, eh? But get this, they had already overspent by £413 million in the four years to 2022.

We can all argue the rights and wrongs of their equal pay for staff mess, that was badly managed and was the last straw. But the thing that gets me and others most is the fiasco of the £17 million paid to a local transport company last year to take disabled children to school.

Not that there’s anything wrong in providing the service. But £17 million? Rival companies were offering to do it for just £6 million, according to the Daily Mail. The apparent rip-off is now the subject of an investigation.

It’s stories like this about, in the main, maverick Labour councils, that make Middle Britain wary about a certain kind of socialism bubbling beneath the surface. What a shame.

There is no doubt that Starmer has his work cut out to keep his lead in the polls. And we haven’t heard about any corruption in Brum yet. I wonder if we will, perhaps not, eh?


Surrender or else!

Why is it that the Kremlin war lords in the pocket of St Putin the Great, endlessly threaten the West, and dear old Blighty, with their rusting weapons of mass destruction?

Week after week they announce they will sink Britain like an aircraft carrier with the most powerful weapons known to man; wipe out the west and leave the earth scorched. Russia’s news presenters, journalists and churchmen often knee deep in millions of roubles from their master, appear to mean what they say. But do they really think we will just throw snowballs or rotten tomatoes back at them? Don’t they care about their countrymen and loved ones being incinerated?

As their hero Major General Alexander Vladmirov, tells them: “If you want peace - fight until you win. If you want a long and strong peace, bury the hatchet on the territory of the enemy along with him!”

No wonder Russians never seem to smile.



11 September 2023