Tag Archives: Bedford

In Which Debs Reads The Sunday Times!

17 Mar


Eagle-eyed readers of the Sunday Times will have spotted Bedford’s modest entry in their 50 best urban places to live in Britain 2015.  I thought of doing a blog about this until I realised that no one would believe me – but now it’s all over the front page of local paper the Times & Citizen, so here goes.

Always plenty to see on warm summer night!

Always plenty to see on warm summer night!

The original article starts off cautiously, stating that Buckinghamshire has the cash, Cambridge the brains, and Bedford is the less-favoured piggy-in-the-middle.  The local university is so-so and the architecture is humdrum, but we ought to pay more attention to this overlooked market town.  Not exactly bigging the place up, there’s usually a good reason why a place is overlooked – and the Sunday Times has just given several.  However – it only takes 40 minutes to get to London by train, Castle Ward has cafés, gastropubs, museums and desirable Victorian housing which is cheaper than the Cambridge equivalent – a five bed house here is the price of a three bed there – and Bedford School has climbed from 180th to 154th in a ranking of private schools.  The local paper baulks at the Sunday Times use of the word “gentrification” – Castle Ward has always been regarded as a good place to live, never exactly a post-industrial hell hole – but apart from that, it’s all good.  The Times & Citizen misses out the cautious beginning, and lists all the features that the Sunday Times has carelessly omitted, like a growing cultural scene, green spaces and attractive surrounding villages. You know, stuff that no other town has.  So – the reasons Bedford has made the list:

  1. it’s quick and easy to escape to London if you have to work there or when you can’t stand Bedford any longer.
  2. The brainiacs of Cambridge can buy up comparatively cheaper housing in desirable Castle Ward, leaving less for the locals and pushing up average house prices higher than the already ludicrous £261,879.
  3. Bedford School is slightly less of an also-ran than it was last year. Never mind that it is a private school for boys, so of no interest to people who don’t have school age sons or who don’t have the means or inclination to go private – league tables are sooo vital.
Mayor Dave personally greets every visitor each Saturday!

Mayor Dave personally greets every visitor each Saturday!

The Sunday Times ends with the damning with faint praise – “The perennial wallflower is gradually coming into bloom”.  Will all this make the slightest bit of difference? Last year, one of the Bedfordshire villages made the list of 50 best rural places to live in Britain.  A similar song and dance happened in the local paper, then it soon died down.  I tried to Google it as I’d forgotten the name of the village, but only subscribers to the Sunday Times are allowed to access the site, so that was me scuppered.  Never mind, it’s all good clean fun and Bedford really could be one of the 50 best urban places to live in Britain.  We won’t let it go to our heads.

(Apparently our usual Editor is Wales somewhere!)

Eeeh...when I was a lass!

Eeeh…when I was a lass!


Conjoined twins seen in Bedford again!

20 Jan

As you enter the town from Tavistock Street, just before the boarded up sports pub  (12 years since it closed) you can’t fail to see the

Welcome to Bedford!

Welcome to Bedford!

former Charles King car showroom that’s been rotting and crumbling for some years and giving a clear sign saying “Welcome to Bedford” runner up in the latest Crap Towns book!

It’s been a real shit heap and dumping ground for at least the last five years with, at one point, sheet asbestos, the odd methadone syringe, human excrement and the usual items littering the ground including condoms like those given away from the VD clinic next door. Not very nice but Bedford Borough Council were fully aware of it when I worked there and was paid very well for just hanging around town talking to people. I got to know the shopkeepers on Harpur St that backed onto the former showroom who complained to no avail. There was a similar place off Midland Road, an illegal abattoir dumping all the goo in council recycling bins!

News clearly travels fast and up at the showroom quick as a flash conjoined twins Cllrs Colleen Atkins and Louise Kings have brought this well known issue to the fore by standing in front of the car park and spouting off about how they have “demanded” action and blah de blah whilst at the same time being good enough to take a break from their hectic schedules to have their photo taken!

A real eyesore...say our councillors!

A real eyesore…say our councillors!

Cllr Atkins has so far since last being elected claimed £80,000 in expenses for her sterling public service while Cllr King limps along with a paltry £21,000 though she does have her part time job as an MPs researcher to help through the bad times!

Both have two years worth of expenses to claim before election time trundles round so given form Cllr Colleen (in pink) can expect to have been paid approx. £120,000 for ensuring that we are all aware of the bleeding obvious!  We offer our profuse thanks and gratitude to both councillors and hope the operation to separate them is a success!

Syrian Attrocity: Obama and Cameron talk TOUGH!

27 Aug

What was that? Did someone say something?

What was that? Did someone say something?

You naughty naughty man, bad naughty man, horrible nasty man, go to your room, now!!! You heard me…and no telly for you! Bad Bad naughty man, you will learn to behave! Do as you are told or we will give you …”the look”! The one that says no cream cake for you after dinner!
Naughty naughty Assad! Go on, stand in the corner and if I see you peeking I’ll just have to shout even louder! What did I tell you about peeking? Right this is your final very last chance!

Online Shopping with Bedford Bypass!

11 Apr

Wow…your opportunity to wear what all the best dressed anarchists round Bedford are wearing! Yes we are giving you the chance to wear what we wear whilst supporting a very very very good cause!
Now you might notice our little strapline at the top has changed and we are proud to say we are “Prone to Mischief: All is True” as it sums us up, but more than that its from Shakespeare’s Henry VIII and appears thus

To th’ King I’ll say ‘t, and make my vouch as strong as shore of rock. This holy fox, or wolf, or both, for he is as prone to mischief as he is subtle, and as prone to mischief as able to perform it, only to show his pomp as well in France as here at home, suggests the King to this last costly treaty, the ceremony that swallowed so much treasure and like a glass did break i’ th’ rinsing.

Topless photograph shocker!

Topless photograph shocker!

The “All is True” bit is an alternative title to the little seen play and together they make a perfect tee shirt to wear whilst sitting in The Bear of a late Saturday afternoon! The slogan is also available as a badge and like we said all purchases go to an extremely good cause and will in a small way help to maintain a time honoured tradition so if you want to go out in style and get all your mates asking what it means for just over £11quid plus postage you’ll be able to quote the above and really impress people with your literary knowledge! Best learn a few bits from other Shakespeare plays to add to the effect i.e. drink a few pints, show your bum and say I’m a lord (Sly from Taming of the Shrew although they sometimes dispense with his character).
Anyway show your support for the new Bedford Bypass strapline of “Prone to Mischief: All is true” and by clicking on the link below you will be transported in an instant to our favourite virtual shop! Head for the clothing section or feel free to wander about!


Cloth or metal, your choice!

Cloth or metal, your choice!

The Sun Does Rise

7 Jun

I’d put it down to climate change and land erosion. Our UK Atlas ended rather abruptly with a perfectly straight line just after Cambridge, I assumed the A11 fell into the sea along with Thetford so when we bought a new atlas complete with pages 85 and 86 we realised there was a huge bit of Britain that we’d totally missed. A roundy bit from the Wash to the Thames estuary. So off we set to a place called Norwich!

The journey’s been an epic
Sometimes I’ve been so down
Stranded in a lonely bar the other side of town
Yes we’ve travelled day and night for many a poor mile
Now it all makes sense as we see the morning smile.
(Jah Wobble, The Sun Does Rise!)

En route we toured the printed presses of The Cunningham Amendment, a most wonderful anarchist publication hand printed on a rescued printing press and took tea with Peter the Printer and Lady Caroline, Before departing a tribal offering was made of an old piece of printing paraphernalia rescued from a skip, now in a good home.
Then to Norwich in search of the Now or Never team, another anarchist magazine that enlightens and amuses in equal measure. Clues were followed. Questions asked of shop keepers, street entertainers, a man in a top hat was consulted and eventually we located them in a place called the Forum where their non editorial meetings take the form of an afternoon drinking session. We approached cautiously and respectfully, “we have travelled far so may we join you? “ we asked! Another enjoyable day in the company of people that like writing and hard copy rather than just web based offerings although Now or Never can be viewed at .


Latest issue

Now I appreciate that the grass is always greener but round Bedford the graffiti amount to “Poz woz ere” type of stuff with the “ere” bit trailing off as the artist started running off to soon. Over in Norwich it’s of a much better quality. Here’s an example from St George St!

Then to the roundy bit, Cromer to be precise for several days worth of mooch before heading back to Bedford.
Now I don’t know whether it’s an age thing or what but I simply adore books and magazines, I can’t really be doing with too much gadgetry and I’ve surprised myself with this blog to be honest. If it’s a quality publication I store them in archive quality files and lend them to people. Sometimes I get them back!
I’m considering a hard copy of Bedford Bypass, just a four page affair more as a sort of elaborate flyer for the blog than anything but also to indulge my liking for printed matter! There’s more than enough stuff to put in it and a growing number of persons I can call on for snippets so I’ve made it my summer project with a view to getting something ready for when the students return from their summer vacation (late October if I recall). One of the other options is to bulk buy say 20 Now or Never’s and put it in as a supplement. Two bottles one stone! (animal friendly phrase). We have about 10 regular readers that are connected, one of which I assume is our observer from the council’s legal department and “D” has suggested we hold a Sunday drinking session to see who turns up, see what comes into our heads after a bit of fine company and watching the sea!
Sad to say our offspring Hemel Bypass lasted a few weeks before the author had to go back to the drawing board. It’s not easy maintaining a blog and keeping it up to date especially when its main component is an uninspiring dot of a town on the map between Oxford and Cambridge but we seem to be doing OK. Debbs’s contributes mostly in spirit or by memory stick as her PC contains fuses and valves and crashes when she loads the site so we are working on this. Gill has bought three Alpacas that just make me laugh when I see them. Her back is on the mend after a sort of Tenz thing has been fitted near her hip!

And if you thought that last blog about bedding plants was a bit vague we hear that a certain senior officer at Bedford Borough is having to answer a few poignant questions!
Anyway a bit random this offering, still in holiday mode to be honest and I’ve got a cracking book to read called A Trail of Burnt Paper by ex Bedford and Now or Never writer top chap Paul Knight who we met over on page 86 of our new atlas!

The Road to Bedford Pier

23 Jan

We ended up in Wigan last Saturday, I’ve not been there for twenty years or more but the opportunity came our way. Gill opted to use the car to “quickly” scoot over to Liverpool so that left three of us stranded in this northern town. What to do then? Well we decided to scour the second hand shops of which there are many looking for a copy of George Orwell’s “Road to Wigan Pier” eventually giving up after four hours and still no sign of Gill and the car.
We altered the rules to include WH Smiths so Debs set off to find the local history section whilst we ordered another coffee in a wonderful little shop called The Coven (a Pagan vegan restaurant). She returned empty handed so rather than bend the rules again and go into Waterstones we called it quits and gave up!
To say Wigan is down on its knees is wrong as wherever you go there’s a gritty determination to see things through. Some planning cock up has resulted in the town centre having three shopping arcade, one features all the regulars, Waterstones, HMV and so on and once you are inside you might as well be anywhere. An earlier arcade opposite was like the House of Commons on a Friday, empty units festooned with signs and just one shop open for business. Sneak off the main road and that’s when Wigan and most towns start to show that flare for uniqueness. The genuine independent shop! Someone’s quest and gamble and once we’d found these the money started flowing in a one way direction and we started to get over the disappointment of not finding George Orwell.

By venturing off the main drag  we discovered The Coven and it seems the local Christians don’t like them there, two days after eating some yummy cheese cake I’m not toad shaped or overly influenced by the moon as yet! We also found a statue of George Formby who away from his ukelele strumming character made his disgust of apartheid very clear whilst touring South Africa many many pagan moons ago. And Wigan loves him for this as much as his “silly” songs and films.
Back to Bedford and it’s the same though our town spawned Ronnie Barker (dead) and Carol Voorderman (alive)* neither of whom wanted / want anything to do with Bedford. Years of botched planning, ill thought out ideas like demolishing the oldest surviving buildings in town and losing the bits that were saved for prosperity, grand schemes that common sense tells you won’t work and then bad investment that all result in some seriously sterile areas that have done as much for the town as the plague did . Filled with shops but no soul. Then there’s the shops that add to the town rather than detract, the ones that you need to hunt down. There’s Pensieri down Ram Yard where you can get a bite to eat, next door is Lady Ks for all things burlesque, Batman stands guard outside the comic shop and tucked away off Lime St is Rose Tinted Vintage. We’ve featured some of these places on the rather lacklustre Things to do page which was someone else’s idea and which with a bit of work will be updated later this week. Bedford’s a nice little town spoilt by two things, a bunch of councillors who at any one time seem content to just muddle through and bodge and then there’s a population that seems indifferent to the whole thing. We have some interesting shops some of which give me a kick up the rear and make me get into Bedford on Saturday. There’s even County Town books which clings on. I’m going to go there next Saturday and buy George Orwell’s “Road to Wigan Pier”

* and John Le Mesurier of Dads Army fame before anyone thinks to tell us!