richard pierce

richard pierce

10 July 2017

Our Neighbourhood

I have spent the last few weeks wondering why the hell there is so much traffic on Church Street, but, preoccupied with other even more useless and mindless things, the thoughts have slipped into the back of my mind, along with a multitude of other things (which are actually more important - like old age and the hope that it's just an illusion; and the pain of other families at the loss of loved ones).

And then, watching the thousandth (or so it seemed) car pass me by when I was trying to cross the road to safety and pavement, I was struck by what for me was an irrational thought - what if planning was better than chaos?

So, as an ex-Parish councillor, I started to dig into what was happening with the Neighbourhood Plan. Because I realised, very late, apparently, that a decent Neighbourhood Plan is actually the best way to stop the government steamrollering villages into accepting unrealistic development without parallel infrastructure development, that it's a way of stopping developers from taking advantage of villages for profit alone, that it's the only way of ensuring villages grow organically by forcing developers and landowners of actually paying their statutory dues when they want to build houses on their land.

You may remember my very vocal opposition to the Grove Farm development, the one that some young parish councillors supported because it had a significant proportion of affordable housing on it. The affordable housing's all gone (which is not a surprise to me, as you know), because developers changed their minds after approval was given. Very frustrating, and, unfortunately, very predictable.

So I came across the agenda for the Parish Council meeting of 10th July, and all its associated papers. It turns out that the Neighbourhood Planning Committee (which was supposedly a sub-committee of the Parish Council) had no terms of reference at all, and was, effectively, being run as a renegade committee, something I was never made aware of in my brief six months as a parish councillor (enough time to get sufficient material for a long novel). I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by the non-disclosure nor by the lack of terms of reference. Feudal barons (or those aspiring to that status) have a way of hiding things from plebs like me (they probably vote Brexit, too, and curse my European flag every time they pass my house).

The thing is, some decent terms of reference have now been drawn up by the council (which seems, at last, to be free of dead and corrupt wood), terms of reference due to be voted on this evening (10th July 2017). Instinct tells me that there may be some bullies appearing from the woodwork to try to intimidate sitting parish councillors to vote against these terms of reference, that the feudal barons and their tenants may make an attempt to stop the modernisation of this parish. Try to be there and to silence this over-powerful minority which has been trying to make this parish their fiefdom for many years, using Masonry (not the brick type) and illegal intimidation. I will try to be there myself, although my writer's vanity (and ignorance) means that I'm on the radio tomorrow, promoting my latest song and novel.

It has become apparent to me, whilst watching the traffic pass my front door and trying to escape death from speeding locals (and non-locals) that the only way to ensure viable development of this village (and thanks to my very good friend Alan for opening my eyes to this) is to have a Neighbourhood Plan which forces developers and government to fund the infrastructure needed to cope with any further development.

We can't get any bigger without corresponding roads and schools and doctors' surgeries (paying fair rents - but that's another story) and water run-offs, and land-owners (direct or family-related) paying their dues.

See you later.

7 June 2017

#GE2017 - You have a choice

Tomorrow, on 8th June, you have a choice, a stark choice, which will determine not only your immediate future, but the future of your children, and your children's children.

You can either choose to make dystopian fiction real by voting for a Conservative government which aims to align the UK with the right-wing fantasy that Donald Trump is making real in the US, or you can choose to bring in a Labour government which will focus on the protection of human rights and equality.

You can either choose to make the UK insular and irrelevant in world politics, or you can choose to make the UK a country where you can still stand up for what you believe in, where political disagreement and discourse does not turn you into an enemy of the people.

You can either choose a government which blindly believes that a withdrawal from the EU means withdrawing from the single market and shutting down freedom of movement, or you can choose a government which will allow you to lobby it on preserving membership of the single market and of the freedom of movement.

You can either choose to continue the very real starvation of millions of people in this country, or you can choose a government which will make food banks a thing of the past.

You can either choose to be selfish, or you can choose to think of people other than yourself.

The choice is yours.

Choose wisely.


24 April 2017

This Time

With all the different lives you lead
It’s so difficult to get hold of you.

That’s what parents do, I suppose;
Chase youth until they run out of breath

And grow old.

Keeping track of the words I’ve put together
For you is almost impossible. They’re littered
Across two handfuls or more of machines
And scattered pieces of paper and billions
Of cells in this unordered mind of mine.

What we pass on to our children is the best of us.

Parents wind back time until they’re children
Again, and undivide from what created them.

You are not the child you were,
Because you’re a child no more.

I love the way you are becoming original.

The order of things changes. I read
What you write and I learn new things there.
It was the other way around, once.
I’m glad it no longer is because
I was never any good at teaching.

Time is just an artificial measurement of the vanishing of the sun.

Think of happiness in the darkest of times
And know it will return in your life-time.

Grab each moment you can
And make it your own.

R, 29th March 2017, 22:25

For Kara's 18th birthday

17 March 2017

Immortality (inspired by Derek Walcott)

I am thankful that words are immortal,
That we leave something behind when we go,
Some things our people can touch and read and understand.

I am thankful for the too many words I sometimes write,
Ignoring and forgetting the rules they tell us good writing needs,
When emotion and honesty are what makes the writing good.

And perhaps it’s writing that makes us good, that mends our souls
To keep us together in our hardest hours, to pull us away from evil,
And perhaps it’s writing that mends the grief of those we leave behind.

R, 17/03/2017, 17:27

11 March 2017

Birthday Song (a late posting)

We went to a gig on your birthday’s eve,
You and I, just another dad and daughter,
And you with a shirt in your jacket pocket
To give to your favourite singer,
A blonde androgynous boy you’ve met twice,
With the voice of an angel,
Walking into crowds like onto water.

Me upstairs, because we booked the tickets too late,
And you down there in the mosh pit,
Touching his hand, pulling his tie,
He suddenly famous,
You still in the crowd,
And his hug a memory that makes you feel old.

We have to leave early
Because the private trains have stopped
Delivering public benefit, and have to sprint
To catch that last train to the sticks
We foolishly live in.

So now it’s almost midnight,
And your mouth is full of water,
And your pocket still full of shirt,
And your heart full of that joy
We grab from our idols,
And your head full of music
And friends,
And words you want to shout out loud.

So you chose to sit near some men you didn’t know,
Strangers full of drink and song,
And they start to sing and no-one sings with them
On the full train, and you start that banter
That comes to you more easily than you admit,
And you tell them it’s your birthday in fifteen minutes,
And their leader walks the carriage to tell them to sing
For you.

You’re not afraid any more, girl,
Not of others,
Just still of yourself.

And on the stroke of midnight,
Rolling into Chelmsford, he stands up
And conducts a choir of strangers
A band of kind drunkards, for once,
And your best birthday present is made.

I wish you gentle men like those who sang,
I wish you gentle people like those who wished you well,
I wish you many happy memories like the one you made then.
I wish you glory that’s not reflected
Unless it’s yours in other people’s eyes.
I wish you everything this memory is, forever.

For Alex

R, 25/02/2017, 02:24