1 June 2011 (Wednesday) - A Rant. (Sorry!)
Yesterday I ranted about kites being banned at Bexhill. Today I’m going to rant some more about it. Because it’s important, and because if you don’t stick up for yourself, you get walked all over.
And because I’m sick and tired of being banned by officialdom.
Many years ago, together with a gaggle of mates, I'd go to "Star Trek Events". Between 1993 and 1997 we'd go to all sorts of trekkie-related things. Conventions in the University of London. Booze-ups at the Star Trek theme pub in the West End. Trekky/Gaming festivals at Camber Sands. “Trekky Nights” in the gay pub in Canterbury, and in the “strangely normal” pub in Margate. To the cinema, all dressed up as Captain Kirk. In full Star Trek costume at the end of Southend Pier. On one memorable occasion there was over fifty of us (all dressed up) at the pictures in Folkestone.
But not any more – it all got banned.
I used to keep large snakes as a hobby. At first sight you might think it's a dangerous thing to do, but you would be wrong, as anyone who’s ever held a royal python would know. No one in the UK has been eaten by their pet python. Nevertheless there were those who sought to ban snake keeping, and by the early years of this century the ban had pretty much succeeded. Where in 1999 I was spoilt for choice for a pet shop, within a few years there was no pet shop with an hour's drive of my house that supplied snakes, equipment or food. In 1999 there were four reptile societies within an hour's drive of my house. Today there are none that I know of.
(Having said that, the hobby is once more picking up, but realistically it is but a shadow of what it once was.)
One of the pastimes for many years has been mass outings to a lovely picnic site at Kearsney Abbey where anyone who knows me will tell you what I do there. I guzzle two bottles of beer and fall asleep.
Not any more! I can’t do that any more as the area is now a “zero tolerance for alcohol” zone.
I enjoy a cigar. I used to sometimes have as many as six in a year. Now thanks to the smoking ban I can’t remember my last cigar.
In 2001 I bought my first power kite. It was great fun. A few months after that we experimented with the fun and frolics of people lifting and “arsing”, but it didn’t take long to realise that what we were doing was potentially dangerous, not only to ourselves, but to passers-by, so we formed a formal kite club and got insurance. Very soon after this we began hearing rumours of certain councils banning kite flying on their land. Wonderful! There is a Google group called rec.kites. If you go back far enough on that site you’ll find my comments on the subject are still there, some years later.
But then – Salvation!! This bloke in Yorkshire was getting in touch with all of the kite clubs in the UK. Together we’d be able to form an organisation that would work with councils to educate kite fliers, to formulate a code of practice, to be a unified voice for kite flying across the country. Here was an organisation that would stand up for us.
So we joined up with them from the start, enthusiastically supporting them. Mind you, they were never easy to support. It took some weeks to get a straight answer to the question of how much they wanted off of us as a subscription fee. Our enthusiasm was somewhat blunted by the observation that as members we were liable for anything they did wrong, and incredibly blunted by their flat refusal to take the problem seriously.
We let our affiliation lapse until such time as the liability issue was sorted. During this time my support for the ideals of this club remained as enthusiastic as ever. I would regularly post on their club Internet forum, but as time went on, my enthusiasm was more for the ideal than for the club itself. Having drawn up a constitution and having very rudely told me how important said constitution was, the BKFA then flaunted it several times.
And so I for one rather resigned myself to losing yet another hobby. And I was right. The ban at Bexhill is the thin end of the wedge.
Whilst there is some pyrrhic satisfaction in saying “I told you so”, didn't I spend years ranting at the kite flying community that this would happen? Didn't I? And did anyone listen? Did they?
Let’s no one act surprised about this. I ranted about this over six years ago……
But ranting is easy. Doing something about it….. is easy too. Should this ban be enacted at Bexhill, does anyone fancy joining me in some mass civil disobedience?