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Archive: March 2011  EDITORIALS
EDITORIAL: 27th March 2011
Life on a magazine like this is a continual evolution. Apart from the usual interviews, two things have occurred this week that, hopefully, will make this an even more interesting place to come to regularly. Our ‘stats’ tell us that well over half of our hits are returning readers, so we’re pleased that we’re starting at least to become a regular read for some. Ideally our goal is that we have a very high returning regular readership.
However, back to the matter in hand: two innovations from this week on. The first one is the introduction of a new writer - Penny Glen - who is a film buff but, I suspect, much more than that. So initially, on a fortnightly basis (as we change all our ‘recreational’ pages fortnightly) we’re letting Penny loose on home entertainment, but once she’s found her feet it wouldn’t surprise me if her ‘rants’ don’t spread their wings and cover other things as well. So, see how you get on with her.
The second innovation is the addition of an “RDC News” button at the top of the page which will take you instantly to a Contents Page for District Council News to help focus our minds on some of the things happening in Rochford and Ashingdon as encouraged on by the District Council. We have long maintained that most people don’t know what is happening in the town, so this is an attempt to help work towards remedying that.   We are investigating the possibility of doing something similar with the Parish Council.  
A lot of work goes on in the background inviting people to contribute and following through leads which accounts for this week having been a week of ‘catch up’  and ‘follow up’ as well as implementing the two innovations above.  You will find this week a follow-up on these pages on JJW Designs who are really worth taking note of, together with a revealing interview with Michelle Maton of Rochford Extended Services, which is also worth a read. JJW Designs are an example of a business who regularly take us up on our offer to update their pages. Why don’t you?  RES are an example of an organisation that approached us seeing the value of the link, which is increasingly happening, so if your shop, business, club, group or organisation doesn’t have space here, why not? Give us a ring. It’s free after all!
Have a good week!

EDITORIAL: 20th March 2011
My temptation this week, was to write about all that many Japanese have been experiencing for the last week or so, with a major earthquake,  a major tsunami, and radiation leaks. One might also comment about the goings on in Libya. A third area of comment could have been the size of the moon just above the horizon yesterday evening about 7.00pm, because it was the closest a full moon has been to Earth in almost 20 years and because as it also reached peak of the full moon about an hour earlier, that caused it to appear 30 per cent brighter and 14 per cent larger than it appears at its farthest point from Earth. It was quite spectacular!  Yes, all of these would have been legitimate subjects for comment and for the first two at least, they are of such potential significance that we might feel guilty for not mentioning them. Well, OK, we have mentioned them, so now we can move on.
Our role as a local community magazine is to provide an ongoing ‘commentary’ on the life of Rochford. It may be that the events in Japan and Libya may indeed have serious and lasting consequences beyond anything we can imagine at the moment - but that is the point, it is beyond our imaginings at the moment, it is largely speculation and that may be entirely fruitless in the long term. Which bring us back to the humble and apparently mundane activities of the life of Rochford. These things may appear incredibly insignificant but they ARE the real things that make up our lives. If we had lived three hundred years ago it is probable that we would not even have heard of events abroad until months later and, in fact, our lives would not have been affected by them at all.
So it is today that we struggle with news which may or may not affect our lives in the long run. Meanwhile, our children go to school, shops remain open, businesses continue to survive, the Council continues to operate, and daily life carries on as normal. So mundane is it, that much of the time we hardly notice it. Mundane it might be, but it is still what makes up our lives. So this week, people in the Hall Road area have continued to be concerned over a possible 600 houses turning up on their doorstep, a little group of people are in the process of setting up an historical archive, Haynes the florist continued to sell pleasure in the form of bouquets of flowers, Arthys continued to dispense pleasure in the form of good food, people continued to dig their allotments, a group of little children called Little Splodgers made a mess in the Methodist Hall, while parents in one school exalted over the goodness of the experiences of their children, while the parents of another school worked to start up a Farmers Market. And no, it is not as earth shattering as a major earthquake, tsunami or nuclear leak but it is life and it is significant and meaningful because it is our lives. And here’s the wonder: because it is mundane and ordinary, it helps keep our feet on the ground and helps us cope with the anxieties from around the world that just, perhaps, may not bring the sky down on our heads. Until that happens, enjoy life for there is so much for which to be grateful.  Have a good week!

EDITORIAL: 13th March 2011
Well, the editorial office of Rochford Life has returned to normal and your Editor is back in place here in Rochford after his American wanderings.  That said, he did not get back until Tuesday and Wednesday was written off by that intangible “jet-lag”, a weariness of mind and body as this person tries to adjust to an eight hour time difference after a day of travelling half way around the globe. The next three days picked up five interviews which will shortly be appearing on these pages. Life quickly came back to normal!
The first one is actually here giving us an insight into the anguish of local owners who basically say, “Do we have to have six hundred houses dumped on our doorstep to transform the locality we have known for so long?  Is such a thing inevitable?” WRAGS, or the West Rochford Action Group, are concerned  house owners who are daring to stand in front of the steamroller of “modern progress”. Many of us in the community may look with envy at the houses of Hall Road and the other houses to the West of the railway but we would be hypocrites if we said that  in their shoes we wouldn’t mind about such a development.  A year back the battle was raging to the east of the town over the Coombes Farm development; now it has moved to the west. Watch this space!
Fortunately for most of us, life isn’t full of such contentious issues and so the other interviews that will be appearing soon, simply show us again the life of Rochford that has flowed on peaceably through the years. If you have read some of the shop interviews over recent months you will know that we have noted a number of shops that have been around for many years. When we called in on Haynes the florists and Bill Haynes refers to your grey-haired editor as “young man” you know you are in the company of a long-standing resident. Watch for the article coming in the next few days and you’ll see just how long he’s been around. Almost certainly the longest standing, we would suggest. Make a guess, those of you who have lived in Rochford for many years!  
At the opposite end of the scale is Rochford Archive, a new kid on the block who has only been around a year and whose web-site will come online in the next month. Arthy’s, at the bottom of West Street is a restaurant of indeterminable age (we didn’t ask!) and, of course, if you mentioned age on the allotments they would have probably yawned and simply carry on digging. When you’re turning the soil to produce a harvest later in the year, today is the most important day.  So it is that we’ve slid back into harness and enjoyed the people of Rochford again. It’s good to be back!   Have a good week!

EDITORIAL: 6th March 2011
Well I have to confess that I have wondered about giving the editorial a miss this week at I sit in sunshine and temperatures  about eighty degrees (sorry I’m on American temperatures still) but, risking your ire I thought I would nevertheless. So often on these pages I have commented about variety of people and of life, as Rochford Life has gone out and about but I suppose my present location in Los Angeles  highlights differences perhaps more than anything we have noted in days past.
For the past couple of weeks I have maintained contacts with people in Rochford via e-mails, which has given a certain measure of continuity and I have carried on adding pages as the Council have continued to send Press Releases, but the greatest contact has been with my family by the simple operation of Skype, which is free, and been able to talk with family members face to face. It has been this in particular that has kept me in touch with such things as the weather - often bitterly cold, I understand!  So, as my work here draws to an end, I steel myself to face the cold again and the realities of Spring in England - when it eventually gets here. For the moment and the next couple of days I must suffer the rigours of sunshine and heat - most strange.
But all these things together work to create a sense of continuity of life. When I get back, Rochford will still be there, the shops will still be there, the Council will still be there, schools, will still be there, and so on, all waiting for me to pick up the threads again, of life in Rochford. Perhaps absence does make the heart grow fonder. A number of councillors, especially, have extolled the virtues of Rochford and working my way through some of the workings of the town I too have come to appreciate it more, so that I am even looking forward to getting back and wandering through its streets and talking to the people who make it work - whether it raining and cold or not!
Various people this side of the water have asked me what I do - and I have told them, and as I have done that I have realised afresh something that I have said before on these pages in the past, I really do appreciate all the people that I have had the privilege of interviewing over these past months. I have enjoyed each and every person without exception. Admittedly I get a one-sided view of people because they are invariably enthusiastic when I speak with them because we are talking about what they enjoy doing, but whether it is one-sided or not it is good! I enjoy the people of Rochford, often people who I would never otherwise have come across in life and I have, therefore, a very privileged place in our community.
That hits me afresh when I am away from it and in a culture that is so very different. The other side of the coin which says “absence makes the heart go fonder” is, of course, the one that says, “familiarity breeds contempt” so I am left wondering if our familiarity, that must be there most of the time, means that we just fail to appreciate that little town that has been there since the days of the Doomsday Book. From a land that is so much younger, have a good week.