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EDITORIAL: 26th December 2010


So here we are on Boxing Day, and the last weekend of the year. This has to be a time of looking back before the New Year is on us and we starting pondering the future.


We have been running for three months. We tend to use this editorial each week to reflect on aspects of producing Rochford Life, to emphasise our goals and to observe the process, as much for posterity as for celebrating the present. But this week, at the end of the year, is a week for overview. Yes, amazingly, it’s been three months since we launched at the beginning of October and over those three months we’ve had the privilege of interviewing six councillors, six church leaders, three head-teachers, one chair of governors, five ‘community people’, eleven shop keepers, three businesses, five community groups, three organisations, and some people or groups who are difficult to classify, as well as providing a variety of community information.


We started up the site using some old software and were pleased at the kind remarks we received from many. My son, a professional web-site designer, summed it up when he said, “You know Dad, there’s a saying in the industry that ugly sites do the best.”   Basic is the word we prefer, not ugly. We delight in repeating the praise that one of you gave us a number of weeks back: “I like your site because it is simple, straight forward, very readable and very easy to navigate around.” That, we felt, was the highest accolade we could receive, for those four characteristics were exactly what we wanted. We’re not glossy or smooth and we have nothing to sell. It is entirely free (courtesy of that son of mine - thank you!) and we’re out to demonstrate only one thing - this is a good community to belong to.


Somebody asked us recently, “Why are you doing this? Answer? Because we want to help build the community. We might add, having being doing it for three months, and because it is fun. Over these weeks we’ve met and talked with people we’d have never spoken to otherwise, and we have had the privilege of hearing your concerns. Possibly one of the main ones that often surfaces, especially in shops, is that “people don’t know we are here.” That is the odd thing we have seen and it’s been confirmed again and again: we live in this community but so much of the time we really don’t know much about what goes on around us - which brings us back to our existence - to bring people into focus or, if you like, to make people known. We’ve only just started, but with your encouragement, we’re going to keep on through the coming New Year. So, we hope to talk to many more of you in this year ahead, and we wish you a happy and prosperous year, as part of this community we call Rochford and Ashingdon.

Have a good week.


EDITORIAL: 19th December 2010


And so the snow returns again with a couple of inches yesterday and temperatures that stay below freezing. But the snow is just a distraction - good or bad depending probably on how old you are, so let’s ignore it!


The interviews this past week or so have highlighted two distinct areas of interest. The first one has been the time element. Interviews tend to fall into two distinct categories, I have learnt. There are those that tend to be factual about products, as with a shop say (see the ‘Sweet Times’ page), or activities such as those carried out by various groups in the area. The other sort focus much more on the person,  on their history and how they have arrived at this point in history. Teachers and church leaders tend to be classic examples of this group and we’ve had several of them recently. These are the ones who convey ‘history’ or what I have called the time element. They do tell of what they do today but the focus of interest, at least in the preliminary interview, tends to be on their history and that has been fascinating to listen to with each of those teachers or church leaders we have talked with.


The second distinct area of interest, as I have referred to it, is the knowledge and experience element. In everybody we meet there is a knowledge content but every now and then we encounter people who appear to have exceptional knowledge. This is not to make the rest of us feel lesser mortals, just to recognise experience (and subsequently knowledge) and enjoy it when it is shared. Within this group appears Ken Massow, who shared with us last week about gold, gemstones and diamonds. As he talked we began to realise we were really scratching the surface (sorry for the pun) - but we hope you’ll find what he had to say as fascinating as we did. We hope to get Ken to share more in the new year. Also within this group was Terry Cutmore, leader of the District Council (who will be appearing on these pages within a day or so). Again his breadth of knowledge about the workings of local authorities and those they deal with, left us realising how little we knew of the world around us. Again we hope some of what are just glimmers of this world will raise your interest in the workings of Rochford. Similarly Terry offered to share more with us in the year ahead.


So there we are - people! Fascinating people. Thank you again each of you who have have shared your lives and your work with us over this past week, as we have sought to “bring people into focus”

Have a good week.

EDITORIAL: 12th December 2010


What a relief, the sun has shone again! This time last week we were lamenting the grey skies that accompanied the snow. Gradually, so gradually, the temperatures have been rising and now we are left with just the occasional dirty piles of ice, signs of our past endeavours. The pundits are prophesying more and worse snow next week, but as one of our ‘Seasonal’ articles pointed out recently, the science of weather forecasting is not so exact as we’d like it to be, so don’t be too dismayed yet!


The week that has just passed has truly been a troubling one with riots on the streets of London over student’s fees, and the ongoing rumblings following the WikiLeaks disclosures. Is the world any more unstable because of what has been revealed? I really don’t know; time alone will tell. I have a feeling that many of us are thinking, “What’s all the fuss about? They’ve only been revealing what we’ve all known has been said behind closed doors.” We live in a messy world and assessments have to be made about the attitudes and antics of other nations - unfortunately. It’s not always good to let everyone else know though, what you think of them - you might change your mind along the way, and hey, who of us is so perfect anyway?


I think that has been a comment in the back of our minds as, over these past eight weeks, we’ve had the privilege of interviewing people from all walks (OK, some walks) of life in Rochford. You may tire of reading it on these pages but it is the backbone of this magazine - that people are interesting and great. They may not be perfect but we’re happy to leave each of our imperfections out of sight. Two of the church leaders we’ve interviewed this last week were not ashamed to confess their frailties, but those weren’t the things that stayed with us. As with most of the other people we interview it is their ‘all-out’-ness that stands out. All-out enthusiasm is great to read and we keep coming across it. (We’ve actually got a further superb example of it coming up this next week in an interview we conducted yesterday and which will appear early next week.) ‘Life’ coming to us through the world’s media may be in tumult but good lives carry on day by day on our doorstep. We used the word ‘privilege’ earlier on, and it really has been a privilege to share more of your lives, so thank you again.

Have a good week.


EDITORIAL: 5th December 2010

Did November and Autumn slide away with a crash or a whimper? Well, let’s see, that was Tuesday wasn’t it, the last day of Autumn? Ah yes, that was the day we had a least three inches of snow!  So it slide away in virtual silence. What words have described this past week? Well obviously white and cold. Yes, but also silence and slowness.  How quiet it goes with a blanket of snow, and how slowly we all start moving as we gingerly make our way to the shops, or inch our way along the back roads in cars without chains (we don’t do chains in this country; we’re not in the Alps after all, are we.)


Silence and slowness have also tended to typify life in Rochford Life this week. As meetings get cancelled so there has been an air of silence over our activities. Suddenly we’ve had to slow up our reaching out into the community and much of the week has just been catching up on the interviews left over from last week or managed on Monday before the snow hit. It’s been the slowest and quietest week we’ve had since we started in the beginning of October. Yes, we have interviews tentatively lined up for next week but they are largely ones that had been arranged before the snow came. No one likes to make appointments until there are signs that movement will be easier.


It hasn’t actually been the snow that has brought a slight air of gloom - it’s been the lack of sunshine. There we have been ready with camera in hand to dash out and record for posterity the beauty of the closing month of the year - but it hasn’t been beautiful; it’s been cold and bleak, and who wants to see cold and bleak photos?  Well we have got one, just to remind ourselves in a week or so what it was like before the thaw. (There’s optimism for you.)

Have a good week.