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First swine flu death in Europe

A mother of three from Glasgow is the first fatal swine flu case in Europe. Jacqui Fleming, 38, from Glasgow, died only two weeks after giving birth to her premature baby. She had been treated in the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, Renfrewshire, for the past three months due to underlying health problems.
Her family said in a statement: “Our whole family is absolutely devastated and we are doing everything we can to support Jacqueline’s two sons and her partner.” It is understood that her baby, who was born three months early, has not caught the virus.
The death comes just days after the World Health Organisation declared the H1N1 virus outbreak a pandemic. With fatal cases in the Americas, it comes as a shock that the virus has also become deadly in Europe, and let's just hope it doesn't get worse. No doubt this death will put more pressure on European Governments to take drastic measure. Meanwhile our thoughts go to Ms Fleming's family and friends.


Too much for Susan?

Susan Boyle is rumoured to be under pressure again as she has not yet confirmed her appearance on the Britain's Got Talent tour, just hours before the first show which will take place in Birmingham tonight. Susan has felt the strain of celebrity ever since she wowed the crowds with her rendering of "I dreamed a dream" on the show in April. Though her performance was viewed by millions worldwide on youtube, she lost in the final to streedance group Diversity. It was then cracks started to appear on the seemly jovial façade...The singer allegedly broke down at her hotel, claiming she hated the show and threw a glass of water at a member of staff. She was admitted shortly after to the Priory, a favourite with celebs suffering from substance abuse or mental issues. Though she was suffering from stress, she was out within five days. Now rumours are saying that she hasn't turned up for rehearsals for the tour, and one might ask the question, was it too soon for her to leave the clinic?Within just a couple of months she went from being an unknown Scottish spinster to a worldwide celebrity, appearing on Larry King's show and in a Simpsons' episode!The pressure of winning, getting a makeover and appearing in the media every day must surely have taken its toll...Let's just hope Susan will get better and remains the simple woman from Scottland everyone has learned to know and love, and with Simon Cowell backing up her career, she will no doubt have a fabulous album in store for us!


Swine flu outbreak declared a pandemic

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has just announced the swine flu outbreak has become a pandemic, after it emerged 25 more people had been affected in England, bringing the total to 822 cases. Though there have been no fatal cases of the flu, the virus has spread quickly after its first outbreak in Mexico in April.
There has not been a flu pandemic in 40 years and the fact that the H1N1 has been declared a level 6 global pandemic is a bit worrying. It is a bit reassuring to know that the pandemic announcement is due to the virus spreading globally rather than becoming deadly. But with many experts saying the virus will be at its worst next winter, the Government needs to act quickly. How to tackle the virus still seems a bit of a mistery...there are talks of using Tamiflu on at risk groups, but who does that concern?And why do younger people seem more at risk then older ones?Moreover with the media creating a mass panic, it is likely emergency rooms will be filled with people thinking they have the flu when they only have a cold, and that will leave real emergencies,well, waiting...
The next few months will be crucial to finding a solution, and only time will tell if the situation will get better. But with the Government having its hands full with reshuffling and expenses, who knows what its priorities will be?


"No thongs required"

Pole dancing is becoming the latest fitness craze worldwide. But what is it? An erotic dance or a sport?

When people think of pole dancing, the immediate image that comes to mind is that of an exotic busty blond strapping her half naked body around a pole. When people think of pole dancing, they associate it with the city nightlife and sleazy bars. What they do not associate it with is women of any shape or age doing acrobatics on a pole in the middle of the day.
That is however what happens every day at Zea Lann’s Polz Apart fitness club, based in Poole, as pole dancing becomes increasingly popular everywhere.
Zea, who is also a trained dancer in ballet and modern jazz, founder of Polz Apart, insists she never intended to start a company of her own. But what started off as her teaching a couple of her friends how to pole dance in her living room became recurrent busy and loud nights with an increasing number of students. As it was becoming too loud for her four daughters and her husband, she decided to re-mortgage the house and build a studio in the garden. It was an instant hit, and as more and more women found out that pole dancing was a bit more than just a sexy dance, Zea saw more and more students booking classes.

Zea Lann doing an invert in her Ferndown studio

Pole fitness

“To start off with I had three students, and now we have about three hundred and fifty” Zea says, during a break in rehearsals for an upcoming show at her Ferndown studio. In fact, the business has been so popular Zea has had to open four different studios in Ferndown, Parkstone, Wareham and at Bournemouth University. But why has pole dancing become so popular when just years ago it was frowned upon.
An answer to that question might just be those few words printed on every flyer Zea hands out to promote her company “Fun, and no high heels or thongs in sight”. Reading this instantly dissipates any fear students have of being depicted as strippers and they are relieved they don’t have to surrender to the pole dancer cliché. Jane Tran, one of the six instructors at Polz Apart insists that pole dancing is not about sexy dances at all.
“We’re trying to promote the fitness factor, that’s why in our classes we wear trainers, we don’t wear high heels, we don’t do it in our thongs because we are not a strip club, we are a fitness based club”, Jane, 32, insists. She goes on to say that this sport is for everyone, and the club boasts students raging from 16 years old to an impressive 62 years old.

Not all about seduction

Surprisingly enough, when students are asked why they chose pole dancing as a hobby, none of them answer “to seduce a man”. Tony Taylor, a 21 year old finance services student from Bournemouth University, says she chose this sport “ because I already did yoga and went to the gym so wanted to try something a bit different”.
Instructor Jane Tran herself wanted to lose some weight after her second pregnancy, and after trying out belly dancing, line dancing and yoga, all of which she didn’t like, tried pole dancing and was “completely hooked”.
When Zea Lann and Jane are asked what their partners think of their activity, they laugh it off. Zea says it gets boring : “When you first start you’re shit, and by the time you get good they’re so fed up with you going “oh my god you have to see this new move” it becomes all the same really”. She even adds her husband wasn’t too impressed with the couple of black eyes she gave him while trying on new moves on the pole.
Jane’s partner on the other hand thought, like most people, that he was going to get the royal treatment with a sultry routine. But when she started performing, he didn’t quite get what he was expecting : “when I did perform for him and did an invert he was like oh my god what are you doing, be careful!” she laughs.

Jane Tran doing the butterfly in the Parkstone studio

Pole Olympics

He indeed would have been rightly worried at seeing petite Jane swing herself upside down on the pole. Most students who take up pole dancing do not in fact realise how much exercise and technique is required.
“I was surprised by how much fitness was involved”, confirms Toni Taylor, who started taking classes last September. Because pole dancers need to emphasize their upper body strengh and flexibility to work around the pole, Jane gets irritated when her hobby is compared to lap dancing: “Dancing and pole fitness are two different elements”.
She interrupts the interview as boss Zea enters the Parkstone studio to criticise how other pole dancing clubs do not teach lessons appropriately. “They don’t use the pole!” cries Jane “they just do sexy moves around it”, and she goes on to demonstrate exaggerated leg and bum moves. It is a recurrent conversation amongst the pole dancing community that stripping is wrongly associated to what they do. Though the dance acquired its seedy image when it became popular in strip clubs in Canada in the 1980s, it is believed it took its origins in the 12th Century dance May Pole, which represented innocence and fertility. In recent years however it has evolved into an art form that involves much agility and athleticism. It has even now been introduced by The Cirque du Soleil as a Chinese pole act performed by a single male acrobat. To most of the pole dancing community pole dancing remains a fitness based sport, and a worldwide movement has even started to make pole dancing a discipline in the 2012 London Olympics.

Male pole dancing

The discipline is being so much dissociated from sex that even men are taking classes, following the likes of Jude Law, who tried out pole dancing with co-star Natalie Portman on the set of Closer. Several pole dancing clubs are springing up in the country and worldwide, offering male pole dancing lessons which they describe as the “latest craze in men’s fitness”. It is not of course taught in a seductive way, and men, who generally have more upper body strength then women, enjoy the challenges of climbing up the pole and doing aerial manoeuvres. When Zea Lann and her team inaugurated her studio in Bournemouth University, her husband and a few male friends themselves took a spin on the poles. Zea however admits she prefers men to stick to more masculine sports as pole dancing is “too feminine” for them, and it might take a bit of time for women to get accustomed to the idea of male pole dancers.But while some barriers such as gender might not be broken just yet, pole dancing is fast becoming a hobby and sport accessible to everyone, disregarding weight, age or looks. And when Jane is asked why she loves to teach it, she replies “It’s not just about pole dancing it’s about building people’s confidence, making new friends, getting people together. Pole dancing is definitely for everyone”.


Winnenden shooting: what next?

Germany is still recovering from the shock of the school shooting in Winnenden on Wednesday. Seventeen year old Tim Kretschner walked into his school and shot 12 people, including three teachers, and then fled from the scene, killing another three passersby as he was chased by the police. He finally shot himself in the head. He is said to have been angry at bullying and rejection from female pupils (most his victims were girls). After the tragedy, the Bavarian newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung published a statement saying Germany was the second country after the US that was affected by killings. Angela Merkel's government is now asking itself what the next step is. Laws on the sale of weapons had already been tightened in 2002 after two consequetive shootings took place in Erfurt and Freising, claiming the lives of 20 people. The legal age to buy a gun had gone from 18 to 21, and under 25 year olds had to provide a medical certificate to carry a gun. But these changes sadly did nothing to prevent the Winnenden tragedy, as the Tim Kretschmer grew up with a father who was a member of a shooting club. All but one of his father's guns were locked up in a cabinet, and that is the one he used to kill his victims.
A law had also been put in place to prevent minors from buying violent video games, which was thought to be an incentive to violence. But are these laws enough? Is that really where the issues lie? Adolescents being influenced by violent movies and games? Mr Kretschmer was clearly a young man with serious issues that started either in the playground or at home. Not only should laws be toughened even more on guns, but more counselling should be put in place for adolescents in schools. Parents should be more careful of what they preach at home, but also what they bring back. Mr Kretschmer should never have had so easy access to weapons...


President Bling Bling

President "Bling Bling" Sarkozy and his ex-model wife Carla Sarkozi have just created a new wave of uproar after spending thousands of pounds on their Mexican visit. President Sarkozy arrived yesterday to visit his Mexican counterpart Felipe Calderon and discuss the world recession. How ironic. With a mounting economic crisis and high unemployment in France, a designer clad Nicolas Sarkozy and a sparkling Carla (thanks to a diamond necklace and earrings) added a bit of glitter to a state dinner. It is no wonder that they are now being compared to louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who spent their country's money on frivolities while their nation was starving to death. And sadly, we all know how that ended...a trip to the guillotine. This is however the 21st Century, and the Sarkozys are not making a trip to the guillotine. They are instead making trips to the Bahamas, to the Alpes or the USA, all in very good taste with the presidential jet.

The French crowd is in the meanwhile showing its discontent, and everytime Sarkozy's photo appears in a new gossip or style magazine, he dropts down one point in popularity... maybe the presidential couple should take the hint.

Tragic death of Weymouth schoolgirl

Today was the funeral of 12 year old Sophie Llewellyn. Hundreds of friends and members of Sophie's family huddled in All Saints Church, Wyke Regis, to bid farewell to the "bubbly girl". Her older brother read a tribute to his sister and the ceremony was said to be emotional with all her favourite songs played in the church. Those included All for one, from High School Musical, a song from Britney Spears and Bella's lullaby theme from the Twilight movie. Everyone wore an item of pink clothing to match the child's pink coffin. All these elements heartbreakingly underlined the girl's young age. Twelve years old. One cannot imagine the pain her parents have to go through, the sadness of having to bury your own child.
The pain must be made so much harder by the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death. She was found by her parents hanging in her bedroom. Her family understandably does not want to comment about the tragic incident, but a police enquiry has been opened to investigate the death. Was it a suicide? A game tragically gone wrong? We will have to wait for a statement from the police to find out..
In the meanwhile, our thoughts are with Sophie's parents, her twin sister Amy, her 15 year old sister Lindsay, and her brother Scott, 17.

5pm TV Bulletin


Bournemouth residents object to a new gypsy site

Make a stand with bad jokes

Make a stand for Comic relief brought nine stand up comedians to the Old Firestation in Bournemouth last night. The event was the first of its kind at the venue, and all the acts were newcomers.
Although all the ingredients were there for a classic stand up show, lit stage, dimmed lights in the audience, individual tables, candles and drinks, there was something missing. And something very important. Fun.
Yes it was the first time for the comedians, and granted, making an audience laugh after a tiring day at work might not be easy, but the evening was an accumulation of cliché jokes.
Of course the usual sex ones were the most popular, one of the older comedians taking it a step further and coming on stage with a penis shaped hat, promptly asking the audience to call him “dickhead”. It made the experience a little disturbing by the fact that he was old enough to be my grandfather.
Some of the other recurring jokes included Aussies (made by an Australian), chavs, dwarfs, the NHS and celebrities. Although some comedians did get a laugh out of the audience, Michael Mooney being particularly good, others were only smile worthy. The comedian Colin Martin on the other hand was so bad that his whole performance was cringe worthy, and members of the public were actually laughing at him and not with him.Tough Bob Hope, host of the event, did manage to crack a few good ones between each act, the whole evening was lacking of energy and laughter.


Bournemouth introduces Muslim burial site

A dedicated Muslim burial site has been introduced in Kinson Cemetary to help meet the religious customs of the Muslim Community in Bournemouth.
Councillor David Smith and Mark Philips, of Faith Links, have created the site with the co-opreation of Majid Yasin, director of the Bournemouth Islamic Centre.

Mr Yasin said he was thrilled a Muslim burial was finally created :“It is important for us because there are 3000 Muslims in Bournemouth, and we didn’t know where to bury them.”
The new burial area means that Muslims will now only need a single grave facing the Mecca with a simple fence erected to mark the area in accordance with their religious custom.

Mr Yasin explains that before the project was introduced they needed two plots “Because our graves faced a different direction than the others, we needed two plots, and now we will only have one”.

That meant that Muslim families had to pay £700 for a plot, twice as much as Jewish or Christian families. Mr Yasin said he was pleased his community would now be provided with graves “like everyone else”.

Councillor David Smith added in a statement that “At a time which is difficult for families of loved ones to deal with, it is important that we meet the burial needs of all of our residents in the community irrespective of religion. I am very pleased that we now have this dedicated site in Kinson Cemetery.”

For further details, visit the Bournemouth Council website at http://www.bournemouth.gov.uk/
Or call the Bournemouth Islamic Centre and Central Mosque at 01202 557072

From here to there

A recent exhibition at the Arts Institute of Bournemouth takes you through a fifty year journey of photography. From here to there brings together recent graduates as well as older, more established artists that came from the Institute, formerly known as the Bournemouth and Poole college of Art and design.

The many photographs, old and new, black or white, could not better show the diversity and difference between various artists, styles and cultures.

Famous artists such as Philip Townsend and Michael Birt, who graduated respectively in 59 and 75, like to represent “old school” England through black and white pictures ranging from Westminster to the swinging sixties to the Rolling Stones on stage.

These photos clash all the more beautifully with the colourful portraits of modern life set next to them, frozen in eternal action by recent grads Sarah Turton and Spiros Politis.
With an edgy modern music in the background, you walk through a gallery of diversity.

Portraits of Poole and Bournemouth factory workers stand alongside the looks of celebrities like Duffy, Alan Rickman and Lewis Hamilton. Poetic representations of Dorset coasts and countryside stand out against the hard outlines of the latest sports cars.

But the exhibition does not only mix old and new students, it also blends recent and old technology together. Whilst on one end you can find black and white pictures, at the other you can flick through cyber galleries of digital pictures on state of the art computers.
From here to there gives an insightful overview of diverse artists who come from the same place.


Fight crime from the comfort of your home

Bournemouth residents will be able to prevent crime from the safety of their homes by making suggestions to reduce crime at a virtual meeting.

The Safer and Stronger Communities Partnership is indeed organising for the first time a virtual crime reduction meeting. On the February 24, from 5.30 to 7.30, residents will access the meeting via the Bournemouth Echo website, and will be able to make suggestions to help reduce crime.

Sian Jenkins, from the Safer and Stronger Communities Partnership, says it is an opportunity for people who have difficult timetables to be involved.

“some get stuck at home with the children and it makes it easier for them. Some residents are also reticent to go to council meetings as they have a stuffy old image, this way they don’t need to go”.

Residents will be able to virtually ask questions and make suggestions to representatives from Dorset Police and Dorset Fire and Rescue as well as with members from the Council and the NHS.

The annual meeting will aim at finding solutions to reduce crime in five priority areas, which are social behaviour, domestic violence, violent crimes, community cohesion and quisitive crimes such as theft or robbery.

Sian Jenkins is confident the meeting will help Borough : “there has already been a 28% reduction in crimes over the last three years because of our policies”.
A meeting will however be held at 3 at the Wessex Hotel that day for those who wish to interact in person.

You may make suggestions straight away at paula.roberts@bournemouthecho.co.uk.
Or call the Safer and Stronger Communities Partnership at 01202 454797.

No toughening of policies in Dorset

A new set of EU policies against employers of illegal workers is unlikely to change the law in the UK. Graham Watson, South West MEP, says there is already a tough approach to workers who employ illegal immigrants, therefore the new rules “may not require a change in law”.

The proposal, which was approved by the European Parliament in Strasbourg this week, would introduce stricter sanctions to employers. They would vary from administrative fines to criminal sanctions to a ban from public contracts for up to five years depending on the gravity, scale and persistence of illegal employment practices.

The directive is part of a broader package to prevent illegal immigration. “ We are trying to reduce effort into illegal immigration, whilst opening the door slightly to legal migration” Mr Graham says.

There are no definite numbers for illegal workers in Dorset, but Mr Graham says there is evidence that many migrants from Asia are trafficked in the UK.

He adds that migration laws are particularly important in the South West, with an economy dependent on legal migrants “The South West is a region which has the need for temporary seasonal workers in industries such as agriculture. Reports have shown how very hard pressed we would be here in the South West without a pool of immigrant labour”.

But Mr Graham is quick to add that we shouldn’t forget there are also many legal workers in the UK, and that while illegal migration should be fought, “ we must not turn Europe into a fortress”.

Giles Chichester, local MEP, was also adamant the UK would not adopt the new “sanctions directive”, which he feels is not necessary “there are already pretty onerous requirements on UK employers to satisfy themselves and the authorities that they are only employing people legitimately available for work”.

For further information visit www.europa.net


Bournemouth under the snow

Bournemouth hasn't seen a snowfall like this for nearly twenty years, and while more snow is expected over the next few days, the whole country is at a standstill. Schools and roads have been shut, and businnesses say the bad weather could not have come at a worse time. Dorset has registered a loss of 20 million pounds, whereas the whole of the UK has an estimated 3,5 billion pounds loss of costs.


Bournemouth Oakmedians 34-0 Blandford

The Bournemouth Oakmedians third XV proved they were players who “practiced their skills” according to their motto as they easily beat Blanford’s second team on Saturday.

A try from Jason Kier opened the score just minutes after kick off, with a successful conversion from captain Rhys Parker. The Bournemouth team were clearly on a roll as Jason Kier scored another try moments later, but this time Parker failed to convert on the 22 yards touchline.

Blandford got an opportunity to score when they were given a penalty at a scrum, but Jim Mathieson failed the kick drop. The Oakmedians had to be warned several times during the game about their scrum, their coach Alf Changchao yelling for a “tidier scrum”.

The Blandford team showed a lack of technique as they missed another try when Adam Yates was tackled shortly before the touchline and the ball diverted by the Oakmedians’ defence. Another Oakmedian try ensued, with Rob Hunter successfully scoring, while Parker again missed the 22 yard conversion.

Meanwhile the game had to be stopped as Oakmedian Yusei Shimoda kneeled down after an eye injury, but quickly stood up and resumed the match. Not the same could be said however for Blandford Henry Wates, who was applauded off the pitch after a leg injury. Moments before half time, another try is scored for the Oakmedians, this time successfully converted by Parker.

Both teams were asking for more as they were back in the game after just five minutes’ break.
Dan Willis was replaced by Tony Holthom who wasted no time in scoring another try for the Oakmedians. Parker narrowly missed the conversion, the ball hitting the bar.

It wasn’t a lucky game for Blandford number seven Henry Wates, who had to leave the pitch a second time, crying over his leg injury. A few exchanges took place on the Bournemouth side with notably Oakmedian coach Alf Changhao taking over James Norris in the last fifteen minutes.

The game ended with the Oakmedians scoring one last try without converting, leading them to victory with a comfortable 34-0 score. The Blandford team didn’t however seem too sour as they were clapped in the tunnel as they left the pitch.


Woman steals for her sick mother

A Bournemouth woman stole food, clothes, flowers and beauty products to help her sick mother, a court heard today. Ms Fitzgerald, 39, appeared in the Magistrates Court on Monday on various accounts of theft, for possession of morphine and for failure to surrender to bail.
The defendant was supposed to appear in court on November 8th for theft charges, but failed to turn up, and was found guilty in her absence. Her defence attorney, Mr Elliot, argued that she had not been able to attend the hearing because she was at the time “all over the place and suffering a nervous breakdown”. Concerning the thefts, he added that Ms Fitzgerald’s father had just died from a long illness and her mother diagnosed with cancer. “She wanted to get her flowers but had no money”. She was also seven months pregnant at the time, and moved into her mother’s house with her twelve year old son. The defence accepted her record was not good and that she was guilty of not turning up in court, but added that since November, she “hadn’t further offended”.
The case has been adjourned until the 26th February, date at which the court will have received the defendant’s Drug Rehabilitation Requirement assessment. The chairman of the Court, Mr Larshley asked Ms Fitzgerald to “clean up her drug problem” until then. She has meanwhile been released on conditional bail, providing she report to Winton police station daily.

"Unlucky" man charged for driving without a licence

A Kinston man who was charged for driving without a licence claims he wasn’t aware of the situation. Mr Nicholas Gollop, aged 48, appeared in front of Bournemouth Magistrates Court on Monday for driving without a licence or insurance, and with defective tires. He chose to represent himself, and pleaded guilty for driving with defective tires, but not guilty for driving without insurance.

The chairman of the court, Christopher Larshley, asked Mr Gollop if he had tried to contact his insurance company to shed light on the situation, the defendant replied “I did try to find the files, I looked in my house”. He added he didn’t investigate further because he didn't know who his insurer was “I lost everything to do with insurance company”.

The defendant also said he was unaware that he was driving without a licence. The prosecutor, Mr Griffin, said his licence had been revoked because he had not passed medical exams in 1993. When questioned about it, Mr Gollop said that as far as he was concerned, he wasn’t banned from driving: “As far as I understood, I had passed these tests”. When asked if he had anything to add, the defendant said : “I’m just one of those persons who’s unlucky a lot of the time”.

Mr Gallop had first appeared in Wimborne before Christmas on these charges, and was found guilty of driving with no insurance, decision which he appealed.
The Magistrates Court decided to fine Mr Griffin £260 pounds and added six points to his drivers licence.


Bournemouth, shopping haven for Europeans

One man’s sorrow is another man’s joy. That could not better explain the current economic situation in Bournemouth, as Europeans flock to Britain to spend their cash.
While the pound’s value is continuing to decrease, the euro is staying steady, permitting Europeans to have a more advantageous exchange rate. And Bournemouth being a popular destination, it is enjoying the effects of tourists’ spending spree.
Eurozone shoppers are particularly interested by fashion bargains, as Claire Jones, manager for Ann Summers in Bournemouth, notices: “Foreigners represent 20% of our clientele. And because of the current situation, our clients, who are mostly from eastern Europe, can buy our luxury products at better value”.
While the British are trying to refrain on spending, Europeans are thinking the opposite way. Jean-Pierre Foray, a retired head teacher from France, often travels to Bournemouth, and is particularly appreciative of the current situation. “If think I have spend a bit more this year than usual, especially with my credit card as they don’t charge transactions. I would definitely consider coming more often to England this year because of the prices.”
Lee Watkiss, employee of Eurochange in Bournemouth admits that there has been no better time for Europeans to spend money in England : “Currently 1 euro buys 84 pence, whereas 12 months ago it was only 71 pence. The pound has hit its lowest point in five years, and it will probably get worse before it gets better”.
But most of European customers are undeniably students, therefore aren’t necessarily the biggest clients. Alex Falkiewicz, a Polish floor manager at Monsoon, says : “We have loads of German people on school trips who buy a lot of small things”.
Allyson Farnes, manager at Miss Selfridge, agrees that there is a high population of international students in Bournemouth, and that it affects her sales. She particularly noticed an increase in September.With this positive income from across the channel, it is no wonder most shop managers in Bournemouth aren’t too worried about the credit crunch. “We have no concern about it” says Miss Jones, “and we expect as much Christmas shopping as last year”.

Bournemouth town of literature

Bournemouth is renown for its beautiful historical buildings such as the Pier and the Old Opera House. But what few people seem to know is that it has a rich cultural heritage, having been the home and inspiration to many authors over the centuries.
According to John Walker, a Bournemouth guide, the most famous was Stevenson, who came here “because of his health, to a town which reminded him of his favourite Mediterranean cost”. During the three years he lived here, from 1884 to 1887, he wrote his most famous novel, “The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”, which would later inspire many filmmakers. Other residents included Tolkien, who spend his holidays at the Miramar hotel because his wife had fallen in love with the seaside resort. “He used to sit at the hotel terrasse to work on his novels, including the Silmarillion, published after his death”, Mr Walker says.
Victorian Bournemouth was a peaceful town, similar to the French Côte d’Azur, and this was the reason it inspired authors so much. Tomas Hardy, resident of the area in the 19th century, refers to Bournemouth in “Tess of the D’Uberville” as a “Mediterranean lounging place of the English Channel”, and in Roald Dahl’s “The Witches”, the main character finds himself surrounded by sorceresses in one of the town’s hotels!
But Bournemouth is however mostly known to the literary world as Mary Shelley’s final resting place. Frankenstein fans are drawn every year to St Peter’s church to see the novelist’s tomb. “She never lived here” says John Walker, “but her son did, and that’s why her wish in her deathbed was to be buried here, alongside her philosopher parents, and her husband’s heart”.
Bournemouth is not known as a “great town of literature”, but people will maybe now rush to libraries to learn a bit more about their past…

The Last Goodbye

Members of Bournemouth’s Jewish community inaugurated “The Last Goodbye” exhibition at the town library on Monday evening. The exposition retraces the steps of the thousands of children who were separated from their families in 1938-39 and brought to safety in Britain in Kindertransports. It is funded by the Jewish Community and is part of the Jewish Museum. Vicki Goldie, one of the organisers, said it was important for Bournemouth to house the exposition as “we have the oldest and largest Jewish community outside of London”.
The many photographs, letters and historical facts of the exposition are part of the Holocaust Remembrance Day which will take place on Monday 27th January. And this year’s commemoration of the Holocaust being focused on hate, it was chosen to represent the children’s’ suffering during the war. Vicki Goldie says she hopes local schools will come and visit, as it is important for children to understand what previous generations have been through. But it is also the opportunity for adults to relate to the hatred directed at Jewish children during the war. Miss Goldie declares “The Last Goodbye” has a much broader meaning: “Whether you are gay, disabled, muslim, it covers all those aspects”.

The exhibition will last until Friday 30th January.

Tesco's shows it's credit-proof

Despite opening during a time of economical crisis, the new Tesco Express, at the Bournemouth triangle, has had a satisfying first month of sales.
At first, it seemed the store, which opened on 8th December, would have trouble opening, as it was first refused an alcohol licence. But it was finally granted and Tesco’s opened four days ahead of schedule.
Although Bournemouth’s economy has been on a downturn, with small businesses closing everywhere, Jason Wignore, team leader at Tesco’s, says that there were never any worries the store wouldn’t do well. He adds there was no real competition from other stores, except Marks and Spencer, which in fact might not be doing too well: “Someone who works at Marks and Spencer told us their budget had dropped a bit since we opened”, he says.
According to Mr Wignore, the sales figures, which he wasn’t allowed to disclose, are above average for a small store, and even match the profit of rival stores and other Tescos.
The supermarket’s success is largely due to word of mouth, he thinks, and to “a lot of foreign students and business people on their lunch breaks”.As for the future of the business, Mr Wignore has no doubt the sales figures will stay the same, or maybe even grow.

An unusual policewoman

By Penelope Travers

As I walk into the Christchurch Police Station on this clear winter day, I ask for “Brenda”, as instructed, at the desk, and am told to wait, as she is just coming from a visit to Lapland. Moments later, a door to my right opens, and a woman in casual wear and a smile on her face appears, “Hi I’m Brenda”, she says as she ushers me into a small impersonal room, which I find out later is the room where people get arrested by appointment.
Brenda Traylen however quickly brightens the atmosphere of the room as we set down for the interview and she starts talking freely of her life.
A woman of slim built, and short ash blond hair, it is hard to believe that in just sixty years she has travelled around the world for charity, worked for the police force and the territorial army for two decades, met the Queen and managed to raise a daughter.
Although Brenda Traylen retired in July, she wasn’t yet prepared to become inactive, and loved her job on the Safer Neighbourhood Team so much, that she decided to return as a Special Constable. “As a special I have no paperwork, I can just go out and chat to people and make them feel safe”, says the woman who is averse to sitting at a computer desk all day.

No technology fan

In fact, computers is what pushed her into joining the Police in the first place! She was 42 at the time, and was working as a data technician for Wessex Water, when she realised the job was more about staying in the office than going out to collect data. She decided there and then to change careers, and happened to stumble upon an ad in the paper for police officers.
While she admits she was quite half hearted about it at first, she soon changed her mind : “By the time the interview came I really wanted the job, I was stopping police officers in the street and asking them what it was like”. Although she had to go through extensive fitness test, “which at 42 is quite difficult”, she succeeded and became a Beat officer.
Brenda reveals one of the best sides of her job is seeing how people she has arrested in the past have become better behaved. She happily recalls a young lad, the “bane of her life” who she had dealt with on several occasions for public disorder. She came across him while she was on the watch at a nightclub on New Year’s eve, and she thought he was illegally trying to get in as he was only seventeen at the time. “He walked across the road as if he was going to go in, and he just came up to me and gave me a kiss and wished me a happy new year, and that was wonderful” she says proudly.
She has nonetheless had to deal with the sadder tasks her job entails, and recalls the day she had to wait for undertakers to come collect the body of a ten year old autistic girl who had died naturally. In these cases, she finds it hard to be like the detached police women she saw when she first arrived on the job “you need a release, if you become hard, there must be something inside that’s not right”.
"I cry for England"

Brenda says that officers often have this conversation, and that whilst some of them leave their feelings aside, she feels when an event changes someone’s life forever you cannot remain impassive, “having no husband at home I do think about these things and do indulge myself in a weep”.
Brenda doesn’t limit herself to her job however and, as Ian Frew, desk officer at the station puts it, she is “not your run of the mill officer, she does charity work and has a very caring attitude”. For as well as seeing to the safety of Christchurch people, she has been actively involved in charity for most of her life.
In 1998 and 1999, she cycled in the Israeli desert and rafted down the Zambezi to raise money foe Mind and Scope. Four years ago she was among the three out of seven who finished climbing mount Kilimandjaro, although it was no pleasure cruise “I’m quite proud I’ve done it now, but at the time I didn’t, I was like just take the photograph and let’s get out of here!”
And she readily admits that those extreme days are over, and now she’d rather go build schools in Africa, an activity she thinks is “very much appreciated and you feel good at the end of it, you don’t feel like death, like after Kilimandjaro”. She especially hopes to involve one of her three grandchildren in her trips, so they can teach African children to play rugby.
Going over her personal life, Brenda jokes that she had a good life because she was an independent woman, and that she was only married once but “ got rid of him a long time ago”. She can in fact be branded as a “free spirit”. Pregnant at sixteen, married at seventeen, and divorced just shy of her twentieth birthday, she managed to find a job and raise her child. “It was the bravest thing I’ve ever done, people didn’t do that in the sixties”, she realises. Although she had a little help from her parents, she remembers it “ being particularly hard, making a chicken last most of the week, but I did enjoy it”.
"The hardest thing ever"

And her daughter Jackee, now in her thirties, remembers she never missed on anything : “I think my mum did a fantastic job raising me in very difficult circumstances. Although money was extremely tight I can honestly say that I did not miss out on anything”.
But although Brenda prides herself on having a tight bond with her family, a shadow hovers over her. When she was just twenty-seven, she had to deal with the tragedy of losing her younger brother. He was only three years younger than her, and she admits it has hard: “Losing my brother was the worst thing ever, he committed suicide over a girl, it was the hardest thing ever . I do miss him, we were very close, we used to laugh and laugh”. Although she admits she felt very strange towards the girl in question, she has come to forgive her, and both women have remained in contact over the years.
However a happier mood was in order when Brenda took her family to London in 2004 when she received the Member of British Empire award for her services, by the Queen herself. And though Brenda relished the memory of meeting her Royal majesty, she has a particular moment she doesn’t want to forget “we had the most fantastic meal, and to see my mom get slightly inebriated was wonderful”.
But at the end of the day, the reward Brenda Traylen will no doubt treasure, is how her daughter sees her : “I am very proud of what my mother achieved in her life. She has done so much, and not just for herself, but an awful lot for others”.