Letters to the Editor February 2024


Laura editor of the BV Magazine
Laura editor of the BV Magazine

That was a quick three weeks since I was last here – although at the same time I suspect we may have just completed the longest January ever in the history of ever.
But here we are, out the other side at last and breathing in those faint fresh scents of spring.
My brain turned repeatedly this week to the phrase ‘don’t get it right, get it written’. It’s a great mental kick when I’m dithering over how to make the first sentence flow; it really doesn’t matter, just write something! It’ll work itself out as I go, and then I can always come back and fix the start once I know where I finished.
The funny thing is, I learned the phrase from a journalist friend of mine who, as a young graduate, worked in a newsroom where the older editor would stand in the doorway and shout the phrase across the noisy room at people – he apparently had an uncanny knack for spotting the procrastinators.
A man who I have never met, whose name I don’t even know, helps me on a weekly basis.*
It made me wonder what small parts of me I have left, entirely unknowingly, with others. And the next thought is obviously that if there are some I hope it’s my wit and my brains, and not just the time I fired a hunk of lobster at one of the world’s greatest winemakers …
This month, for a magazine that doesn’t do much sport (and actually the one sport discipline we do cover – equestrian – is on a winter break), we’ve come over all sporty. Quite by accident, obviously (if you think we have a smartly themed plan for each month then quite frankly you’re in for a little disappointment). We have some incredible rugby with an ex-All Black, Shaftesbury ice mile swimmers that made my jaw clench, a good news golf story, and a good news / bad news balance of community leisure centres.
Sport aside, not to brag but there’s some absolute peaches in this issue. We are so lucky to have the writers we do. Andrew Livingston’s Slurry Shuffle is unmissable, be sure to make it as far as Farming.
I’m starting to suspect Barry Cuff of picking the ‘then’ images for Then & Now just for the delight of where he’s making Courtenay go to get the ‘now’ version. Last month it was the middle of the A357, this month … it’s literally a roundabout.
And oh, the reader’s photography … but I can’t bang on about that again. Just don’t miss it

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When writing, please include your full name and address; we will not print this, but do require it.

On the small things
In the January issue, editor Laura wrote about the small things she has found joy in to lighten a very long grey January. Others were keen to take up her invitation to join in:

I was touched by Laura’s list of small joys. It’s a wonderful reminder of how the simplest things can lift our spirits during the gloomy winter months. For me, it’s that snappy crisp air during an early morning walk, and the steamy warmth of a home-cooked meal. Let’s all share and celebrate these moments of happiness!
Joyce Green, Shaftesbury

I was charmed by Laura’s list and felt compelled to add my own everyday delights. How about the smell – and that first sip of the first coffee of the day? The satisfaction of solving a difficult crossword puzzle, and the unexpected find of a forgotten £10 note folded into an unused handbag. It’s these small surprises that brighten our days.
Nan Bellingham, Wimborne

Laura’s letter resonated with me, especially her appreciation for the simple pleasures of winter. For me, it’s the (sadly rare this year) frost patterns on the garden, the chilly silence of an up-before-the-sun morning, and the weight of a warm blanket with a good book. All things to cherish, even in the darkest of Januarys.
Hilly Pearce, Blandford

Can I add a few things to Laura’s list that I’ve noticed this weekend? Realising that accidentally overcooking last night means there’s no need to even think about dinner tonight, because LEFTOVERS! That yes I did get another jar of coffee, it’s right there, comfortingly where it should be, and we were not, in fact, coffee-less. That Pom-Bear crisps are not just for six year olds – apparently I like them too. Knowing ALL the words to Maui’s rap in Moana. Sleepy bedtime hugs.
Ginny Baker, Shaftesbury

On the (lack of) sparkle in Stur
Yes, we totally agree that the battery operated lights do not give the degree of sparkle we would wish, but this year it was the best we could do. Its not as simple as your correspondent suggests to access the necessary mains electricity. That requires safe and accessible electric sockets and increasingly the flats above the shops are independently occupied, nothing to do with the business below, so we cannot just use their supply and put wires through their windows. We are trying to find a way round this for as many trees as we can, but it is not straightforward.
The Christmas trees in Stur are nothing to do with the Town Council – the businesses buy their own little trees and SturAction pays for lights where needed and for fitters to put them up and take them down.
The big tree is paid for by sponsors, organised through SturAction and SturBiz. SturAction put well over £3,000 into the SturSparkle event this year and we will do our utmost to make it sparklier next year, but sadly, do not expect every small tree to be as sparkly as we would all wish. If your correspondent has an answer please come and show us, we are all volunteers and would appreciate the help.
Cllr Pauline Batstone,
Secretary, SturAction

On Mr Loder & the Post Office
In January’s BV, Chris Loder MP criticized Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey over his handling of the Horizon/Post Office scandal, and declaring he had ‘questions to answer’ (mirroring sentiments in the broader Tory media landscape).
It’s important to note that Sir Ed Davey served as Postal Services Minister for just 21 months, from May 2010 to February 2012. During the two decades that spanned the wrongful convictions of numerous sub-postmasters, starting with Mr. Bates’ case in 2003 up to the 2024 ITV drama, a total of six Labour and nine Conservative Postal Services Ministers were in office – yet none addressed the issue.
Chris Loder’s focus on Sir Ed Davey’s role, without acknowledging the inaction of the numerous other ministers from both the Labour and Conservative parties, seems to lack a broader perspective. A more balanced view that considers the collective oversight over the years might lead to more constructive discussions rather than singling out individuals with a gleeful pointy finger.
Tom Hocket, Sherborne

On Robert Cowley
What a fascinating article this month’s Dorset Island Discs turned into! I started thinking I knew about ‘Robert the plumber’. I did NOT know he had graduated from Cambridge and chosen to return to Sturminster to work in the family firm. I was unaware of his huge involvement in the old market site development (I’m a blow in, we arrived in 1996), and I certainly wasn’t aware that the exchange is in a sticky situation right now.
We cannot let such a brilliant community resource vanish – not just for Sturminster, but for the much wider community. Where’s the next nearest 300-seat theatre venue? – is it time to begin rallying the troops once again?
Name and address withheld

On Sherborne West
Has Sherborne Council gone mad? In its response to the Sherborne West development proposal they have said they concerned about the infrastructure stress created by 2,400 extra cars, and to this end they intend ‘civilising’ the A30, bringing it down to a single carriageway to reduce the potential for speeding. You’re going to knowingly add 2.5k cars to our town, and then NARROW the main arterial route through it at one of the busiest junctions?
Benedict Rose, Sherborne

On the North African Pirates
Terrific article from Rupert Hardy on the Barbary Pirates – a long read, but definitely worth it, I had no idea they had struck so close to home. The additional footnote on the Wolfgang brothers and their abduction was also a fascinating little rabbit hole for me to wander down – the whole collection of engravings is well worth taking the time to browse through. Thank you!

Want to reply? Read something you feel needs commenting on? Our postbag is open! Please send emails to letters@BVmagazine.co.uk.
When writing, please include your full name and address; we will not print this, but do require it.


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