I was out canvassing in Snodland this morning for the Town Council by-election on Thursday and had one of those moments you really don't know what to do about. I knocked on a door and a rather good looking man opened the door with just a pure white towel wrapped around the lower half of his body. He was well tanned and to be honest it was rather difficult not to notice his sportsman-like physique. Naturally the first thing I spluttered was how sorry I was to disturb him etc etc but then by complete mistake said "I am finding it hard to concentrate...(nervous laughter by me)..." before finally getting out the point I was trying to make which is to see if he was going to support the Conservative candidate on Thursday. He replied "we don't vote" before hollering into another room "we don't vote do we love". A female voice replied "yeah, I vote Labour" before he yelled back "WHAT? THAT LOT ARE RIPPING US OFF - YOU CAN'T SUPPORT THEM...". At which point I could only apologise profusely for starting a domestic and scuttled off quickly to the next door. I didn't really know what to put down on the canvass card so entered a W for won't vote - he'll probably be at the gym anyway!
After Snodland, I headed up to one of my favourite lunch time venues - the Robin Hood Pub - for a Ham, Egg and Chips to celebrate Proud of Pubs Week. I love a good pub - one with atmosphere and a proper pint - and would much rather head to a pub than a bar for a decent bite to eat and to relax with colleagues and friends. Sadly the pubs are having a rough time of late with nearly 30 closing every week and with the extra 4p being added to the pint following the last Budget the outlook is quite gloomy. Pressure is being put on pubs to diversify in order to meet costs and if they are not selling out to the high volume bar trade they are being turned into other commercial operations. Some research has been done into pub closures by Professor Preece of the University of Teeside and he makes an extremely good point about the value of the local pub: "In many cases the pub is the last community facility left – the village shop went years ago and the Post Office and bank have gone. There may be a village hall but it is not an inviting place to sit and chat. The pub was the place where the football team and the darts team were run from. Their loss is a great shame." Sadly if the pubs continue to close then alongside the closure of Post Offices we will lose our last bastions of the community.
(Tracey & Adrian Gulvin enjoying Ham, Egg & Chips at the Robin Hood Pub)