Proud to see that in the final copy of the Isle of Thanet Gazette I appear in, I have made it onto the letters’ page as both “idiotic” AND “inane”… 🙂
I’m sad to be saying goodbye to a column I’ve written for fourteen years but could not in all conscience and in respect for all other freelancers, write it for nothing (which was the only choice on offer).
So here are our final thoughts before we’re over and out.
Over to Mike Pearce first…
THE GRUMPY old man has left the building.
This is my final column and already I hear the cheers from the hipsters, the fraudsters, the spongers, the arty-tarty fakes, the posers, the far-left rabble-rousers and – well, probably anyone born after 1976.
But in a moment of untypical selflessness, let me give you, the readers, the final say.
Over the years you have said plenty, by email, post, phone and even by turning up on my doorstep.
Some, as is the way of such things, has been critical, abusive, obscene and very occasionally slightly menacing. But, as Socrates said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
As an ardent admirer of alliteration, I tip my hat to the man who wrote to the Gazette to dismiss my arguments as “geriatric garbage”.
For irony, it’s hard to beat the chap who accused me of wanting to stifle free speech – and in the next sentence, demanded that my column should be axed.
Nil points for the pompous Facebook fellow, who, after denying having heard of me or my column, offered his critical analysis: “Pearce is a poor writer”!
Later he accused me of “trying to be provocative, but failing”. What provoked him to write that, I wonder? He seems the type who likes to hold centre stage, so let’s not bother with his name
In the “Is that good, or is that bad?” category, a nomination for the man who described me to my celebrity co-columnist and dear friend Jane as “The bloke who writes the weeks that you don’t.”
And the other one, who suggested to her: “He’s very right wing, isn’t he?”
Not so much hurtful as surprising was the cheery assessment by one writer that I “look like a chap who enjoys a drink”.
After being nearly teetotal for 15 years, if only!
No criticism can be attached to the critic who pointed out: “He likes a moan, that one.”
I blame the world for giving me ever-more things to moan about.
The privilege of being afforded a column cannot be over-stated – the chance to champion causes that might otherwise go unheard; to expose lies that might go unchallenged; to prick the vanities of the great and the good.
While researching topics, I have been lucky enough to tour Ramsgate Tunnels (fabulous), Dreamland (loved the dodg’ems), the Turner Centre (oh dear!), Ramsgate’s Petticoat Lane Emporium (unpretentious and fun), Margate Old Town (pretentious and not much fun) and to examine in very great detail what’s going right and what’s going wrong at this crucial stage in Thanet’s development.
I do hope there will still be a voice for those who can see through Emperors’ clothes; who object to money being thrown at self-indulgent whimsies when there are so many real-world problems; who see the folly of trying to revive the rotting corpse of Manston airport; who still believe politicians should be there to serve the community, not stoke their egos.
I shall remain grateful for the opportunity the column has given to make new friendships, sometimes with people whose ages, beliefs, passions and ideologies are a million miles from my own.
And finally, let me tip my hat to Janet from Margate, who was kind enough to write and say: “I don’t think you’re deeply unpleasant”.
After nearly six hundred columns for this good newspaper, it is time for me to hang up my hat too.
There are those who will shout good riddance. The anti-Manston protestor who told me I was “worse than Goebbels” for wanting to save the airport, the councillor who attempted to argue the use of the apostrophe with me (I bow to no one in my command of the possessive), the elderly lady who warned me I drank too much and claimed my hair would fall out if I insisted on dying it pink and blue, and the regular and anonymous correspondent who never failed to tell me what rubbish I spouted.
But I also have a drawerful of letters – yes, real ones with a stamp and envelope – and many, many emails that have touched me beyond measure. I thank you for the comments, the tip-offs, the invitations, the cards and the occasional dodgy present.
I will always appreciate the time readers have taken to stop to speak to me when they have enjoyed – or thoroughly disagreed with – something I have written and I will treasure for ever the beautifully hand-inscribed and indignant missive sent to Gazette Towers from the chap who’d heard me on the radio and wanted to share his mother’s unwavering good judgement that I sounded “a right cow.”
As Mike-don’t-get-me-started Pearce – to whom I owe the opportunity in the first place (he upset people even more before he retired as editor), has intimated: having a space here has been an honour and a joy. But all good things come to an end – often when the money runs out – and our media has changed beyond measure since I first appeared on these pages in 2002.
I shall still be sounding off on Facebook where I’m happy to be friends (unless you claim to be a General in the US army or have serial killer’s eyes) and blogging on janewenhamjones.wordpress.com if you find you’re missing me.
I shall certainly miss all of you. xx