00:00 april 18, 2022

Members of Ilfracombe Golf Club are saddened by the decision of popular steward Dean Richardson to step down to care for a family member. Its enviable reputation is well deserved.

In 15 years, Dean helped transform the club founded in 1892 from a struggling location into a successful operation, welcoming visitors from home and abroad. Ilfracombe has one of the most popular courses in England. Its memorable slogan, “See the sea from every tee”, attracts golfers from all over the country.

Players love to relax in the bar or restaurant and discuss the merits and disappointments of their game. IGC’s hospitality facilities have improved significantly under Dean’s supervision.

Last week I attended a coffee morning dedicated to marking his tenure, and with characteristic modesty he seemed taken aback by the tributes paid. Many non-golfing Ilfracombers who use the club’s premises for lunches and meetings never fail to praise its warm and friendly atmosphere. Creating this atmosphere requires a special skill. His successor has an above-par act to follow.


When I was 12, I was delivering newspapers daily to homes in Ilfracombe Avenue, Southend-on-Sea. I didn’t know then where Ilfracombe was, and I didn’t care. It certainly never occurred to me that in the distant future I would be living in this distant place.

The most dreaded morning was Thursday, the day of publication of the large format Southend Standard. Publishing this weekly journal through openings designed for Victorian letters wasn’t easy, and I probably shredded a few. Thursday’s round was to be tackled in two parts, and all before school in good or bad weather.

Wet clothes were dried on the classroom radiators, along with those of other “paper boys”; it did not concern the teachers who, as Japanese prisoners of war, had suffered inhumane treatment during the construction of the Burmese railway.

Yesterday I visited Ilfracombe Avenue again, but this time on Google Street-View. What a disappointment to discover that most of its once maintained gardens have been concreted over and sacrificed to the car. Most accommodated two vehicles. Take a peek yourself if you wish, and despair.
Paving even more front gardens could become universal if electric cars become the dominant form of family transportation. Councils will never allow cables to be draped over pavements, so lawns and rose bushes will be replaced by the clutter of reel racks and charging points.

We need to rethink whether electric cars are really the solution to pollution. They may not produce exhaust fumes, but the microplastics and rubber dust from their tires are as effective at reducing air quality as gasoline and diesel engines.

Less visible is the widespread environmental damage in Asian countries resulting from the lithium battery manufacturing process. Vast regions are devastated by land clearing while rivers and lakes are poisoned. Disposing of used batteries is likely to overshadow the problems caused by fossil fuels, but dozens of factories are being built on deforested land to manufacture them.

Moreover, the working conditions of the people employed in these hells, as one would expect, are more than appalling. The cobalt used in electric vehicles presents another dilemma for virtuous drivers looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Cobalt is mined in the “Democratic” Republic of Congo, where human rights abuses are rife in an industry that cares little for the well-being of its employees. Out of sight, out of mind, but worth pondering while the cement dries on your facade.


The cost of a first class stamp has increased to 95p. Bad news for the greeting card industry and a boost for Jacquie Lawson’s range of celebratory email messages. Like the banks, the Post Office seems determined to speed up the closure of its brick-and-mortar network, and with long queues and unstaffed posts, using those left has become an unpleasant chore. Virtually all of the functions it once performed are now readily available online. As a physical entity, the Post may soon be redundant, stolen from the post via the Internet.