As Deputy Mayor and Mayoress David and Anne take their share of attending Christmas Concerts on behalf of the Council. An outstanding feature of these concerts is the involvement in and talent of our youth.
The Wolstanton Schools Partnership concert at the Victoria Hall was an inspiring evening enhanced by musical talent from all the schools involved. The world premier of “A Portrait of Wolstanton was outstanding. The work was a collaborative musical project with Manchester Camerata Orchestra which has taken Portraits as its season theme.
The enthusism shown by the College Glee Club at the Newcastle College Christmas Concert in St Georges Church was infectious, they shared with the audience a real sense of enjoyment.
Betley Church Choir is outstanding for a small village, and the Choir includes a group of youngsters with remarkable talent.
The youth of today get a poor press and are facing considerable difficulties as they start to make their way in the world. It is inspiring to witness what youth can achieve. As Mayor next year David’s chosen charities will be those that help our youth get a start in life.
As a leading local politician with a stammer I welcome the debate on stammering brought about by the release of The Kings Speech. Not only is the subject of interest but the film is one of the best I have seen for years.
My experiences are similar to those described by Keith Austin in the Guardian of 10th January. I was not bullied at school, but it put paid to learning a foreign language. Telephones were a problem, one of my difficult sounds is the “B” sound. Before the days of automatic dialing (a boon to stammerers) you had to ask the operator for the exchange. My parents lived at Bognor Regis, I rarely phoned home.
There are many causes of stammering, which is one reason why it is difficult to treat. I am not a shy or nervous person, but a noisy and forceful local politician. However I am dyslexic and my thought pattern is much quicker than my speech pattern. I can experience my thoughts racing ahead of my speech, a recipe for disaster.
I have battered it into submission using similar techniques to those employed by Keith Austin. I use body language, my verbal vocabulary is restricted, so my speeches may be effective but not dramatic. I use humour, if they are laughing with you they are not laughing at you.
I was interviewed on Radio Stoke *last week, and made many of these points, the stammer was only just noticeable. If I was of a nervous disposition none of my techniques would have succeeded, but if I was nervous I would not have entered politics. My political hero is Nye Bevan, not that I agree with many of his views but I admire his achievements. He had an advantage, as shown in the film voice intonation helps, English is a flat language whilst Welsh has a musical quality.
* The availability of the I Player Link has now expired.
At the foot of Heathcote Road in Miles Green is one of the remaining Staffordshire Oatcake Bakers. The Staffordshire Oatcake is reputed to have been brought back to the UK by soldiers returning from India attempting to reproduce the Chapatti. It resembles a soft pancake and is made from oatmeal following closely guarded secret recipes. It was popular with miners and potters, eaten hot at breakfast and cold as part of the midday snapping. It is usually contains a savory filling, cheese and/or bacon are popular. A close relative, also found in Oatcake shops, is the Pikelet, thicker and filled with currents.
The Staffordshire Oatcake is mainly confined to North Staffordshire plus a few outlets in Cheshire, Derbyshire and North Wales where the potter traditionally went on holiday. Rumor has it that there is an outlet somewhere in South West Wales, but I have no confirmation.
Betley residents need not travel to Miles Green to appreciate this local delicacy as the Betley Village Shop takes delivery of Oatcakes and Pikelets from Miles Green on a Friday.
Representing a ward with two centres I alternate my attendance at local remembrance services. This year it was the turn of the Methodist Chapel at Halmer End and then to the Cenotaph at Alsagers Bank. We remembered 47 who fell in the great war, but there was a far more poignant memory at that chapel. It contains the memorial to the 155 who died at the Minnie Pit in January 1918 whilst mining coal for the war effort. Three times as many died at Minnie as died in the war. It is difficult to comprehend the effect that would have had on the community.