Anne’s View Uncut – Week 29

Image: Ely Parking Charges

As usual the local council has prompted a bewildered … “What the hell …?â€? from me. I swear It’s almost as though someone somewhere has it in for little ole Ely. Because once again the squad has let down the Ely traders (and
patrons) with yet another line of attack. Next we’ll be reading that shoppers are banned from the shops or that pavements are to be removed due to the cracks!
So for me, it’s all about the parking this week. And for a light hearted chuckle at my expense I have included an article I recently came across depicting the ultimate American tourist (with expressed permission, I might add)!

To Pay or Not To Pay – Parking Charges for Ely

You don’t have to be Einstein to deduce that the introduction of parking fees in Ely is going to cause further displeasure.
Just as you didn’t have to be a prophet to know that the council playing hidey-hole with pedestrian days would bring about confusion! I mean, I still don’t know which days vehicles are permitted to choke up the High Street and which days they are banned – and I’m not alone.
Why? Because I like many, many others have given up trying to figure out what the hell the local council is playing at. And trust me, there are far easier ways to shop for the essentials of life without being at the mercy of individuals who obviously don’t shop, trade or live in Ely – yet make major (and injudicious) decisions for those who do!

Although, to be brutally fair, the excessive number of charity shops, cards shops and travel/estate agents in our fine city hardly brings in the masses either.

Although, to be brutally fair, the excessive number of charity shops, cards shops and travel/estate agents in our fine city hardly brings in the masses either.
Aside from the inadequate parking, the relentless road works and a serious deficiency in decent clothing stores (and a lack of good restaurants) must all play a large part in the decline of what was once a good and thriving hub of assorted enterprises.
Unless you’re looking for a house, a greeting card and a second-hand pair of shoes or in the mood for Oriental cuisine or planning a trip to Fiji, there’s really nothing to shop for in Ely. Thus, I suspect, is why the council isn’t too bothered that they’ve all but sounded the death knell with this latest dud!
Ok, maybe that’s not entirely true – I do love the Honey Pot shop in the passage. And I often go to the new Woolworth’s now that there’s enough room to browse. And I frequent the Chic Face and Beauty salon on Forehill regularly – so perhaps the place isn’t a complete waste of time – yet! But then again, I have walked out of more eating establishments in Ely due to poor service, bad food and a lack of staff than I have eaten in.

The last one out of Ely turns out the lights!

Anyway, all this argy-bargy is pointless because regardless of popular opinion, pay for parking in Ely we will! But since we’re going to be forced to cough up for the privilege of hunting for insufficient spaces, could we at least put our petitioning powers to good use and demand less duplicated, more varied places to shop in?
And speaking of petitions … at the bottom of the posters presently adorning most shop windows there’s a declaration stating that writing to the local council about our displeasure at the proposed charges will hold a lot of weight. Yeah, and President Blair is a conscientious leader! Well, you didn’t think I was going to go an entire week without taking a shot at our lily-livered leader, did you?
But perhaps if everyone who did write in to protest pointed out that if this unproductive drift towards utter melt down goes ahead, soon there will an abundance of parking spaces – long stay, short stay, up the High Street and down Broad Street – and the council can charge what it likes because no one will be there to notice!
The last one out of Ely turns out the lights!

What it means to be American

Image: Typical American Tourist

I recently found this article by an American author – here’s an excerpt … and I thought only I felt this way! Enjoy!

First things first, my name is Les, and I am an American.

I am planning a trip to the UK. I say UK, because I have recently discovered that a journey to England would not include Ireland or Scotland. However, I am not certain if I would be visiting Wales. Is there such a place as Welshland? Here is my problem. I had the social misfortune of being born and raised in the United States.

We Americans view the world through our USA rose-colored glasses and with our abundant American-egos.

We Americans view the world through our USA rose-colored glasses and with our abundant American-egos. We see people driving on the wrong side of the road. We want to come over and demonstrate upon which side of the automobile to position the steering wheel. We want to explain that it is uniquely correct to chill your beer in the fridge. And isn’t a bubbler a porcelain personal hygiene appliance designed to sit next to, what is it, the loo? We want everyone to be blissful and correct, like us. Apparently we are the only society in the history of mankind to have ever achieved this state. We can fix everyone’s flaws. Or similar silly nonsense such as that.

In light of my imminent travels, I have made a genuine effort to “smooth� my Americanism; to learn about other traditions and be capable of experiencing the richness of other cultures. These cultural experiences should be unspoiled and as unaffected by mine as much as possible. I don’t wish to travel abroad and Americanize everything. If I desired such adventure, it would be less costly to head for Detroit, Los Angeles, or even Chicago.

I watch a TV programme called “The Amazing Race,� a show that puts teams of two Americans into difficult and challenging situations in far away lands. Then it records the “gentle� ways Americans handle these trying moments. This show is exceptional it its ability to provide a detailed display of just how intrusive some Americans can be.
I have seen my fellow countrymen race about the world and have confirmed the reason why certain peoples want to shoot at us, desiring to cause us harm. Sometimes I myself desire to cause us harm.

We, as individuals, have a deserved reputation for heavy handed, flat footed, insensitive trampling of other people’s customs and cultures. It has nothing to do with US military might, political mumbo jumbo, or altruistic attempts to help the world. On more than one occasion in the show my English speaking counterparts, frustrated with the language barrier, were asking, “Where did all these foreigners come from?� And while obnoxiousness, grouchiness, and rude characteristics are universally understood, I feel relieved when the local citizens encountered in those countries do not know our language.

These people, the Americans of course, are completely ignorant of their ignorance.

These people, the Americans of course, are completely ignorant of their ignorance. They are offensive without even trying. They step heavily, unaware of that upon which they may be stomping.

And herein lies my dilemma. I question myself. What if it isn’t arrogance, but ignorance? What if it is a type of cultural blindness? What if we, meaning I, can’t help it because that is our/my, culture – or lack thereof? I know better than to think I can waltz into a new land and command the local social graces. But I also tend to believe I can do a reasonable job at keeping the peace and not offending every man, woman, child, and pet I encounter.
Yet I must wonder if this is true or if my American upbringing tells me that I am fine, I will be correct and everyone else is doing things all wrong. What if, in my exhilaration to see new places and feel new things, I become the cultural “bull in the china shop?� Does my American title automatically create an environment of cynicism? Is any social blunder considered inexcusable or dismissed as, “he’s an American idiot (as opposed to merely an idiot)?�
I am afraid I may go to a Pub, or to a park, or to whatever a Shire is, and make the Grand Canyon of Social Faux Pas. (The Grand Canyon is a giant hole in the Earth here in the South-western United States – but EVERYBODY knows that.)

Perhaps I should travel as a Canadian – wear a red maple leaf and finish sentences with, aye. “Good day, aye?� Is anyone aiming to shoot Kanucks, aye?

Brace yourself England, the American is coming!

14 replies
  1. John Glover
    John Glover says:

    Parking Charges for Ely

    I suspect that the complainers prefer to park ascloseastheypossiblycan to the shop they want to go in. I often see wobbly-bellied men virtually ram-raid newsagents to get as close to the door as they can to speed up their purchase of 20 Benson and Hedges and a Lucky Dip lottery ticket.

  2. Jamie R
    Jamie R says:

    Parking Charges for Ely

    Ely’s historic look’s and picturesque setting is going to look great once the streets are covered in parking signage, and parking zones. And the only shops that survive are the one’s that we use, it’s no use complaining about it, if you want certain shops to stay or be attracted to the area then we must use them, Ely is becoming a great place to shop for cards and have a coffee or tea.

  3. Lee B
    Lee B says:

    Parking Charges for Ely

    The proposed parking charges for Ely are surely only being proposed to subsidise the need for a park & ride to the glorious(!) new council offices on the outskirts of town.

    I am lucky enough to work in Ely’s centre at Alexander House, adjacent, for those who don’t know, to the large short and long stay car parks in the town centre. My office overlooks these car parks and except on market day on Thursday’s I can honestly say the short term car park is rarely, if ever full. The long stay car park is admittedly often full but there is a poorly sign posted car park just around the corner in Lisle Lane always has space, however I was informed by the recent consultation representatives that this land is not owned by the council and the lease would not be renewed by the current owners who wish to develop on the land (adding to the parking problems).

    Whilst I applaud any long term ideas and planning for Ely, I do hope the council come to the conclusion that parking charges are not necessary just yet, or at least until other options such as a park and ride scheme is in place, not before. Charges will only drive people 20 minutes to Cambridge, where, lets face it, much more is available for a very small park and ride fee.

    As an aside I have to say I can’t agree with many of the negative comments here regarding the development of Ely. Surely, time softens the edges of harsh memories. I remember Ely as being quite run down and souless in the early eighties. Its benefitted from the regional strength of the area and it’s well served train station, but i do believe, on the whole development of Ely, which will always be a compromise, has been sensible and helped to make it the vibrant and young growing city it is today.

    I only wish Ely’s residents were truly consulted more on changes rather than the thinly veiled attempts to sell decisions that the council calls “consultation”.

    Great site… nuff said…

  4. John Glover
    John Glover says:

    Parking Charges for Ely

    I am 42 years old and have been driving since 1982. In all of that time I have lived in the Ely area. In 25 years of driving I have never failed to find a parking space in Ely. Never. Not once.

  5. Michael Still
    Michael Still says:

    What it means to be American

    First I want to say as an American and a proud one, you are right. We do have those who feel they must push every part about us onto others in other lands. Which is so strange because really since we did the slick job on the Native Americans here in this counrty we are from every other land.
    Knowing that we seem to melt everything together and it becomes the gospel, we want everyone else to see it that way.
    Than you have the totally ironic thing in this country. We push the fact, people should be able to maintain thier own heritage and have thier way of life preseved at the price of our own that we so adamantly push onto the rest of the world.
    I guess it is hard to see things when you are living them, but for all of our short falls I am still a proud American who sees the value of knowing and being respectful to others who say or do things a little different than myself.
    Thank you for this chance to put my 2 cents in, not sure how that equates into English currency.
    Mike (mike pete)

  6. David Brown
    David Brown says:

    Parking Charges for Ely

    I can’t quite see what the problem is. It should be obvious to anyone that there are too many cars in Ely town centre and that it’s a much pleasanter place during the periods when it’s pedestrianised. Whether that’s a sufficient reason for introducing parking fees is another question, but it’s not the self-evidently stupid idea some people seem to think it is.

    And what’s so terrible about the shops? There’s a music shop, an excellent and enterprising book shop, and a smattering of independents selling bags, repairing shoes and so on. What do we want? Top Shop? A Virgin Record Store? To turn Market Square back into a car park? For goodness’ sake…

    Ely’s not perfect, particularly late on Friday and Saturday nights when the yoof of the town race along the High Street in their little cars, or stumble out of the night-club shouting endearments or obscenities at each other as the mood and alcohol takes them, but it’s not bad.

    There’s quite a bit going on in Ely, as this ezine attests. It lacks the vibrancy of Cambridge of course, it’s short of good restaurants, and I’m unaware of even a single decent cafe, but be fair – it’s only a little town.

    There you are – a supporter, albeit with some reservations.

  7. Anne de Bondt
    Anne de Bondt says:

    Parking Charges for Ely

    Since I have never heard a good comment yet concerning the transformation and restoration of Ely … I thought it might be interesting to ask if such a person does exists! Is there anyone out there anywhere … in the universe … who thinks the look of Ely is an improvement and the amenities are up to scratch – aside from the local city council that is?
    I’m sure there’s at least one person who can say that their aesthetic and consumer needs are met in Ely!

  8. Karl Bedingfield
    Karl Bedingfield says:

    Parking Charges for Ely

    Nancy does have a point, in the early 80s Ely was a bustling Market (Town) City, on Thursdays as well as the Market on the square we also had a very busy cattle market and auction house where Waitrose now stands. And lets not forget the wonderful White Hart Pub that was converted into retail units. How on earth this historical building (dating back to the 15th century) never got a preservation order is beyond me.

  9. Dad Pete
    Dad Pete says:

    What it means to be American

    Hmm, I sometimes forget what a wonderful command of the english language you have and it makes me very proud when I’m reminded.
    I think anyone traveling anywhere that maintains their own dignity will be accepted and small errs of any kind will be over looked. I have complete faith that you will always maintain your dignity so you shouldn’t fret.
    However, in Canada its “eh” and aye, so far as I know, is a nautical expression.
    Love, Dad Pete

  10. Nancy King
    Nancy King says:

    Parking Charges for Ely

    Lets face it whatever ECDC touches ends in disaster. You only have to look at the disaster that is the Market Square (or red square as it is now known), it is busy on the market days (Thursday and Saturday), but the rest of the week it is a great empty space. At least a few years ago it had a use when not used for the markets, it was a car-park.

    And don’t get me going on the feeble attempt at pedestrianisation where we have a High Street that is ACTUALLY WORSE than it was prior to the renovations.

    Twenty five years ago Ely City Centre was a hive of activity and had all it’s High Street & Market Street premises occupied. It had a purpose built Post Office, a Bus Depot (with waiting room), a City Centre Cinema. Today all these have been renovated into retail outlets while we have a temporary Post Office, part-time cinema and people having to crowd Market Street pavements waiting for buses. Progress indeed!

    So ECDC is doing a great job in convincing the public that what they propose is the way forward.

    And then there is the absolute madness of spending millions on relocating their offices. Maybe that money should be used to keep Ely FREE!

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