Month: February 2008

Full Monty club to be demolished?

Terrible news for fans of The Full Monty on the front of today’s Sheffield Star with the news that Shiregreen Working Mens’ Club which had a starring role in the film may be demolished for housing. Although the owners of the club deny any plans to sell the building, they have nonetheless applied for planning permission to build houses and flats on the site.

I suppose time moves on and working mens’ clubs are don’t doing as well as they used to (although I understand that the one in Shiregreen is pretty successful).  But it would be a huge shame if a building that is at the heart of the community there and that has been made famous the world over in one of the few major films set in Sheffield disappears.

The Lib Dems in Sheffield have recently put forward the idea that there should be local lists of buildings that are not of sufficient architectural importance to be listed by English Heritage, but are of local historical importance.  Perhaps this is one of them.

Earth tremor in Sheffield

Truly scary. There has just been what felt like a large earth tremor in Sheffield (not sure how widespread it was). I have never felt anything like it before. I was sat in bed and suddenly the whole building started shaking. My first thought was “oh God is there something wrong with the building and it’s about to fall down” and then more rationally you realise it must be an earth tremor. It only lasted about 10 seconds but for that 10 seconds your heart starts racing and you feel as though it is never going to stop. Truly scary.

Just after it happened I went in to the living room to see if I could see any sign of something having happened, but there was nothing. My housemates felt it too. Nothing has fallen over in our flat and so I suppose it can’t have been that hard, but I am still shaking a bit now and it was about ten minutes ago.

Thankfully Sheffield Forum has just reassured me that I didn’t imagine it. I expect I will hear more in the morning.

UPDATE at 01.29:
Well it seems it was an earthquake and it was felt all over the country. 5.2 on the richter scale and centered north east of Lincoln, so only around 50 miles from here. In the grand scheme of things 5.2 isn’t much, but it is pretty powerful for the UK and it is rare for the epicentre to be anywhere near here. The immediate period after was fairly underwhelming with no sign of anything having happened. But then about 15 minutes later loads of alarms in some of the surrounding buildings started going off – an unlikely delayed reaction. Given that nothing has fallen over or been damaged in this building (unlike some others in Sheffield) I do at least know that the building I live in is pretty sturdy. I feel calmer now although my heart is still beating faster than usual and I can’t settle in bed (hence me writing this update).

It has to be one of the strangest 10 seconds ever and one of the most bizarre sensations I have ever felt. When it starts you don’t quite know what it is and just wonder if it is heavy traffic or the people upstairs being noisy. Then you realise it is far more than that. Then you wonder if the building is about to collapse. Then you realise how much everything is rattling and shaking hard. Then you wonder if things are going to fall over. Then you wonder if there is something you should do or somewhere you should go. Then suddenly it is all over and everything is still and quiet as if nothing has happened. Then you have to talk to someone else about it, look out for people in the street or go on to the internet and find out what happened. All these thoughts over about a 10 second period.

The bottom-pinchers

In last Thursdays’ Guardian there was a brilliant quote from Simon Hoggart which should be on the wall of every Liberal Democrat campaign office:

Both main parties fear and loathe the Lib Dems because, like boozy bottom-pinchers at the office party, they can sneak up and grab your seat when you least expect it.

Well it made me laugh anyway, and it’s so true!

Welsh Lib Dems are the most fun

That seems a pretty bold statement I know. But from reading some of the other Lib Dem blogs it seems as though loads of people from outside Wales were at the Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference in Llandudno this weekend. Some to do training, some to speak, but what they all seem to agree on was that it was fun.

I suppose it is just that the Liberal Democrats in Wales are pretty sociable bunch of people. I’ve described the Welsh Liberal Democrats before as “big enough to do things, but small enough to actually make sure they happen” and this seems to be reflected in their social life. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are big enough for there to always be interesting people to chat to and for you to never get bored, but they are also small enough for you to get to feel as though you know everyone. The Welsh Lib Dem conferences also always succeed in having people there from all age ranges, from all parts of the country, and they all genuinely get along together. I’m not saying that the Welsh Lib Dems never fall out, of course they do, but it is far more common that they get on.

Mark Valladares has a pretty good account on his blog of what an evening with the Welsh Liberal Democrats can be like and it reminded me of the conference dinner when I was at the last Welsh Liberal Democrat conference in Aberystwyth. There I had the fortune to sit on a table with people like Kirsty Williams, Mike & Veronica German, Rob Humphreys, Ali Goldsworthy, Rodney Berman and Nick Tregoning. As well as having a good laugh during the dinner, it was then topped off by the issues we caused to Elgan Morgan during the subsequent quiz (I won’t go in to it, but anyone who was there will know what I mean). I accept that it was probably a “you probably had to be there” moment, but I definitely remember it was being good fun.

I once somewhat uncharitably described the Welsh Liberal Democrat conference as “a lot like an English regional conference, but with TV cameras, simultaneous translation and it runs for a whole weekend.” I say “uncharitably” because policy debates in Wales actually have some importance and because English regional conferences have a reputation for being fairly dire, for example over an hour was taken up at the recent Yorkshire and the Humber Conference with a debate on the regional constitution. What is missing from other party conferences is the same level of fun, the friendship and the genuine camaradery that the party has in Wales.

I have said it before, but there is something about Wales that gets inside you. I only lived there for ten months, but I loved it and I can’t quite leave the place alone. It isn’t just the country itself, but the people I met there. I still have a lot of friends in Wales and that is why I can still get enjoyment out of attending a conference for a part of the party that I am no longer a member of. Politics isn’t all about having fun, but in Wales it is certainly a part of it.

WILL HOWELLS: Something for the weekend: hen wlad fy nhadau

Nick Clegg on Europe

If you aren’t convinced about Nick Clegg’s argument for a referendum on our membership of the European Union as a whole then you should read his article in today’s Guardian.

Although I back the idea of a referendum on the EU as a whole, I have been less convinced by the Lib Dem stance on opposing a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. However, I do have to admit that this article by Nick is a very convincing argument as to why a referendum on the treaty is wrong.

As Nick points out. Voting against the Lisbon Treaty would simply be voting for the status quo. The huge majority in the country who want to the see the EU working better, whether as a europhile or a eurosceptic, would be better off adopting the Lisbon Treaty and then having a referendum on whether we want to remain a member of the EU at all based on the improvements that we would see. It’s a fairly simple argument, but it is a relief that Nick is putting it out there in such a clear way at last.

Now all we need to do is get it out to all those people who don’t read the Guardian.

My favourite photos: Rooftops High Street

This photo is of a group of buildings that every Sheffielder will know, but may not recognise from this viewpoint.

I happened to notice this collection of interesting chimneys, turrets and roofs on my way up Vicar Lane past the end of St. James’s Street. At the back is the top of Kemsley House (the distinctive building that houses Bradford & Bingley on High Street) and then in front is the top of the building on the corner of East Parade that houses a branch of Lloyds TSB, the offices of Natural England and a few other organisations.

I had to take this photo several times as I had to zoom in so far to get in all of the features that I wanted the camera shake was terrible. Fortunately I managed to get one good shot, but unfortunately this was the one photo that didn’t include the edge of Sheffield Cathedral that should be on the left of the photo.