A wet and windy autumn, but a very merry Christmas!
To my amazement, I find myself sitting here in mid-November writing the final Village Pump editorial of 2002. Where has the year gone? Maybe it is one of the symptoms of growing old, but the months now seem to fly by. And what a year 2002 has been?
We were all convinced that we had experienced the wettest and windiest winter in our memories at the beginning of the year. But the rains and the early winds were clearly just preparing us for the real storm. And what a storm! Talking to friends around the country, it seems that we in Norfolk were by far the worst hit. We were continually amazed at the force that must have been exerted on the trees to snap trunks of truly huge girth. But on the brighter side, I must say we have seen little evidence of building damage, thank goodness. Things were brought into sharper focus by the tragic death of Eric White in Whittington; our sympathy goes to all his family.
We were encouraged by the cheerful attitude of people to the hardships caused by the extended power cuts. Neighbours were boiling water for one another and on one occasion we actually entertained someone to dinner using a BIG K Portable, disposable, barbeque. And how tasty those burgers tasted after two days of bread and jam and an occasional cup of soup! Top of my shopping list, when importers can satisfy the demand, is a two ring portable gas cooker that runs off a full size cylinder. I for one will ensure we have in place an emergency survival kit for the next extended power failure. Perhaps 24/7 will do something similar to ensure customers can at least contact them in future emergencies, if only for re-assurance. I tried phoning them at 4 hourly intervals through the day and night and got nothing but a dial tone.
And what about the other major issues of the year? The total screw up of examination results in Scotland was quickly followed by an even bigger hash of A-level results in England and Wales. At least Estelle Morris had the courage to say that she didn't feel she was up to the job! But if you believe what has been quoted in the press since her resignation, the reason she gave was simply a cover up of her objections to certain draconian changes planned for schools and the teaching profession in general.
Perhaps the most tragic memory of 2002 for all of us will be the abduction and murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. The police have arrested and charged Ian Huntley, their school caretaker and, on a lesser charge, Maxine Carr their teaching assistant. But little information about the grounds for these arrests has ever been released. Is this simply because the police do not want to prejudice their case or are hard facts somewhat light on the ground? No doubt we shall find out when the case does finally move to The Old Bailey.
Let me conclude my final piece of 2002 by wishing all our readers, contributors and advertisers a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. May I also record my grateful thanks to all those willing workers who help to collate the Village Pump and ensure it's distribution to our readers. Without these un-sung heroes, my job would be impossible. See you all again next year.