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Archive: January 2011  EDITORIALS

EDITORIAL: 30th January 2011


Richard Nixon was known for three things: for having a big mouth, for being involved with his advisors over some less than acceptable practices, and for recording everything he said in the Oval Office. It was this last thing that ultimately helped bring him right down. So why did he record his every word? I suspect he was a forerunner of what I am sure will eventually come; he had a sense of history and of being part of it, a part that needed keeping for posterity.


Modern technology enables us to record every meeting, every encounter, if we wished, but there are four problems. First most of us don’t see the possibility or realise the potential, second, it requires money to be spent on people archiving it, third, it requires an easy retrieval system and, fourth, it requires home technology to easily access this. There is a market out there for someone to exploit!


Already we see the early somewhat limited days of this, in the ability of the TV companies to replay on your computer whatever programmes you want. In business and commerce we do this in a small measure with the keeping of minutes of meetings. U-Tube on the Internet has developed this a lot more, even if it tends only to be snippets. Imagine a world where you have the ability to view on screen any meeting of any group or organisation in the District, either live or for however long afterwards. I suspect there might be some serious social implications there - and possibly financial ones as well.


The above reflects why we create this weekly editorial - we feel part of history. But this week has had a twofold historical dimension to it. First of all we have added a tour around “The Old House” in South Street, one of Rochford’s best kept secrets, and then we attended the Holocaust Memorial Service and talked to a survivor before listening to his talk on his experiences and how he survived. Harrowing stuff, but stuff of which we need reminding. (Unfortunately the quality of the amplification was so poor it was impossible to obtain a recording that could be transcribed.)


In these ways we contribute to history and, of course, the knowledge of history relies on the evidence of what has happened. More technology means that there has been an unquantifiable leap forward in the sheer volume of that evidence. Welcome to a new day in history.

Have a good week.


EDITORIAL: 23rd January 2011


On the Internet it is not hard to find writings deploring the mundane repetitiveness of modern life. I nearly quoted one such piece of writing but concluded I neither wanted to lead you to their somewhat depressing site nor have them track back here. There are some people best left alone. Now my reason for making this comment is that last week I commented on the variety of people I have been coming into contact with via Rochford Life, but this week I have been marvelling over the variety of groupings who exist in Rochford. Life in Rochford Life is not repetitive!


A week back I had found myself focusing on individuals largely in shops, and the front page still shows the back end of that list, with Ruth Harley of Animal Fayre and Colin Bowers of Snobs appearing. Yes, in this week we did interview individuals and in two cases those individuals represented two different organisations, thus this week we focused on five organisations. One of the notable things is that each of these organisations has been around for a long time. Andrew Leach may only have been around ten years but the Rochford Congregational Church, which he represents, has been here for a very long time. Following a fairly close second, I think, are the two Women’s Institutes that we have in town, the Rochford Women’s Institute that meets on an afternoon, that will have been here for a long time, and then the Roach Women’s Institute, which meets in an evening, that sprang out of that and so will have been around not so long. Now I didn’t ascertain when the Rochford Hundred Historical Society came into being, which I was next introduced to, but I suspect it might have been even earlier than the Roach WI. Similarly what was the Rochford and District Fuchsia Society, the fourth of my groups this week, has also been up and running for some thirty years and so is a strong contender.  My apologies if I have ‘order of age’ wrong, but the point is that here this week we have five different organisations meeting the needs of numbers of people in different parts of the community - and they’ve been doing it for a long time!

As three of those organisations focus their activities on the WI Hall (which has a lot of other users as well), we see a building in the centre of Rochford which probably gets more use than any other. Following up an invite, we sat in on a Meeting of the Historical Society on Friday evening, and listened to a good talk on the history of finger prints and crime scenes. The room was packed, the talk was good and tea for 30p!!! Who could complain about that! The WI may not be for me, but I’m keeping an eye on the Fuchsia Society! There’s some good stuff going on in our town.

Have a good week.


EDITORIAL: 16th January 2011


New Year seems to drift gently away, rather like the river bank as our raft of life moves gently away with the current and the bank is seen at a distance, and loses some of its interest. In a couple of weeks time quite a large number of earth’s population will move from the year of the tiger to the year of the rabbit.  The Tiger is rebellious, passionate and generous. A person born in the year of Tiger is theoretically here to make a splash in whatever area they choose. They are tolerant, staunch and vigilant.  Rabbits are gracious, kind and sensitive. They like to express themselves through art. They have strong memories and like to make other people laugh. They are good at creating fun and excitement in their lives and the lives of others. (That’s what the Internet tells me anyway!)

Putting aside the fact that lots of Chinese born last year almost certainly didn’t exhibit the characteristics of a tiger, some perhaps being premature rabbits or one of the other ten animals of the calendar, what these animals do say to us, is that here is a recognition that humanity is going to be incredibly diverse.


Now I happened to note that last year was dubbed the International Year of Bio Diversity by the United Nations, which obviously didn’t impact large numbers of us because we didn’t even know that was what it was. I presume it was about recognising the diversity of the great land of Bio.This has made me realise that I need a new dictionary for it’s a word that doesn’t appear in any dictionary in  my office. The Internet says it refers, somewhat obviously, to the variety of life on Earth.


Now I mention this in this rather roundabout and tortuous manner, because as I have reviewed the many people, groups or organisations we have had contact with in this past week or so, I have been struck by the variety of people and the variety of activities that go on in this world around us, and especially here in Rochford. Now this isn’t to say that Rochford is more diverse than any other place, merely that it’s our town and it comes under our scrutiny. Rather in the same way as I (and possibly you) were not aware of last year being a year of Bio Diversity or of the Tiger, I continue to realise how much I was not aware of, in respect of the life and activity of Rochford. I conclude that each of us, in reality, really know so few people around us, and as for what goes on in the shops of Rochford, for example, I have been thinking about revealing our collective ignorance by a questionnaire.  If you are part of this diverse world of shops, businesses, schools, groups or whatever out there that we haven’t reached yet, if you read this, why not give us a ring and we’ll come and see you and reveal you to the community (for free!).  In the meantime, have a good week.


EDITORIAL: 9th January 2011


Somewhere around the middle of last century (1964 to be precise) a character by the name of Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian professor, coined the phrase, “the medium is the message”. A writer on Wikipedia  suggests that, “McLuhan proposes that a medium itself, not the content it carries, should be the focus of study,” and it is for that reason that we unashamedly, week by week, carry out this exercise in navel gazing (which is nothing to do with oranges or ships).


Our anticipation is that in three years time we will look back to see just what went on in these early months in the life of this web-site magazine. A friend of mine has become an archivist for a school in London whose records go back to the 1700’s and is frequently called on by people wanting to check out the past. (My American friend gets upset that we have buildings older than his country!) But history is important, how things happened and what went on, which is perhaps why we get so fascinated here at Rochford Life in hearing people’s life stories, how they came to be here in Rochford. In our business section, John Lewindon is a recent example of that. I felt sad when we came to write up his interview that we had to edit it so much, because he has a long and fascinating story, but we recognise the fact that Internet readers prefer short and sweet. New Year is a time that makes you conscious of the past as well as of the future.


We had a break of two weeks over Christmas - you wouldn’t have wanted us badgering you for interviews over Christmas and anyway, we needed the rest. Getting back into full stride was difficult but suddenly offers of interviews flowed thick and fast this week, so much so that as at this moment we have three interviews waiting to be typed up.


We have also become aware of another difficulty. Over the Christmas period we updated our rather antique software and we now have a new “all bells and whistles” upgrade - that we don’t have time to use! As every computer user knows, learning the software is THE crucial stage to success. So here we have this dilemma, requests for interviews are coming in and we want to do them and while we do them we are having to hold back on development. So, bit by slow bit, we hope you will see subtle changes to the working of the site to improve it, but because we want to continue with the central purpose of Rochford Life, and we want to add to the information base, it will have to be slow development. Let’s see in six month’s time how that has gone. This is history.   Have a good week.


EDITORIAL: 2nd January 2011


The New Year has arrived!  Happy New Year to you and may it be a really good one for you. I find it always difficult to qualify that wish. In the light of the present economic climate, is it realistic to wish someone a prosperous New Year when the odds are that most of us will be worse off as we try to dig the country out of hock?  A happy New Year? Well obviously, but what does happy actually mean? Free from stress? For that to happen some of us would have to change our jobs. Free from anxiety? Some of us would need the NHS to perform a miracle on our decaying bodies. Free from upset? Some of us would somehow have to do some amazing relational rebuilding to stop the divorce proceedings that are going ahead. My dictionary gives a first definition of good as “having the right qualities, satisfactory, adequate” and later adds, “gratifying, agreeable, favourable, advantageous, beneficial”, so I think I’ll feel more comfortable in wishing you all of that. May it be that sort of year!


New Year is the time for taking down the old calendar and putting up a new one. It’s funny, when you take down the old, I find you look more at the pictures and words than you did all through the year. The old calendar that had been hanging in our kitchen throughout 2010 had paintings by American artist Thomas Kinkade who goes in for a somewhat ‘romantic’ style of picture with lots of light pouring out of every window in sight. Each one of the pictures has a saying attached to it, attributed to Kinkade. There was one that stood out to me. It simply said, “Discovering new possibilities close to home is another kind of adventure that can make a life romantic.” I confess I had to think what romantic meant when I read this. The best I could come up with was an emotional feeling that transcends the ordinary with pleasurable senses, lifting us above the mundane. (If you’ve got a better definition, feel free to send it to me!)


I like the idea, especially in the light of the experience of the last three months of running Rochford Life, that “discovering new possibilities close to home” comes as an adventure which can lift me above the ordinary and mundane. I never thought of it like this when we first considered the possibility of Rochford Life, but I’ve come to see that this is exactly what it has been like. Finding out what makes Rochford tick (and I realise I’ve only been sitting on the very tip of the iceberg) has indeed been an adventure and I, personally, have been lifted by it. Thank you yet again to those of you who have opened up your lives, groups, businesses etc. to us. We are here to serve you and the community, and look forward to be able to do that more in this new year of 2011.  Have a good year, and a good week.