Home   Kent   News   Article

Blog: Medway at Large - Reporters' Notebook

End of an era - Deputy editor David Jones has left the building. Back row - The team: Alan, Wendy, Lynn, Hayley, Jenni and Keyan. Front row - Sarah C, David J and Lee. Guest appearance by Lawrence Dallaglio
End of an era - Deputy editor David Jones has left the building. Back row - The team: Alan, Wendy, Lynn, Hayley, Jenni and Keyan. Front row - Sarah C, David J and Lee. Guest appearance by Lawrence Dallaglio

Monday, April 6


With our slimmed down numbers it's going to be even more trickier than usual to keep you updated with our daily office shenanigan. It hasn't really been the same since the desecration of Lawrence Dallaglio in the corner by snapper/graffiti artist Grant Falvey a couple of weeks ago. This blogger, with regret, is putting this blog into mothballs while he plots a exciting interactive replacement. If you've got any credit crunch cheap ideas on how it could look email medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk marking it Medway at Large - The Blog II. The new look version will launch at some point next month. Watch this space...


Thursday, April 2


This is the last day of self indulgence as we say goodbye to KM legends old and new on the day our slimmed down operation kicks into gear. It has been a strange one, as you might expect, and for us lot left behind it will take time to get used to our friends and colleagues being gone.

The biggest loss for us in the Medway office print corner is the departure of David Jones, our deputy editior after nearly 38 years of service.

This blogger has been going through the archives to see if we could find anything that we could take him to task over from his first week for the KM Group back in August 1971.

But his first piece of printed copy was of course journalistic perfection albeit a conservative tale about fights in the thicket [this blogger's double speak for a classic Medway saga about chopped down trees.] It's the end of an era. We're going to miss him.


Wednesday, April 1


Our April Fool about Napoleonic soldiers found intact at Fort Amherst had no-one fooled although it was the most read for a while on what has been so far a quiet news day.

It won't be quiet for long with a 25 gun salute due to sound shortly from Chatham's Historic Dockyard celebrating the quarter century since it emerged from the demise of the former Royal Navy base.

Jenni is there covering the special events today - starring Margaret Beckett and a host of other dignataries - with full reports here later. We're slightly concerned for her hearing and well being given her propensity for jumping at the slightest noise, particularly old cannon.

It is also the last day here at Medway for Canterbury bound Katie Alston one of the stars of our award winning coverage of last summer's Climate Camp. Her smash and grab interview with Arthur Scargill has entered legend. If only she'd been more than a smidge during the miner's strike. She could have changed the course of history.


Tuesday, March 31


Today will be spent thinking up an hilarious April's Fool for your delectation tomorrow. Some of the nationals yesterdays were already at it with one about bears on the loose in Suffolk the best to date. Let us know your faves before midday tomorrow. Cows nests and flying pigs are banned.

A battle meantime has commenced over who is the real Kent Journalist of the Year - our Alan or a rival albeit a former KM'er based up at Sidcup called Melody. An investigation by the Press Gazette has found the London Kent editor/this blogger's pre-KM boss is refusing to give up the title earned in 2005 but not won since. We are awaiting Alan's opening salvo to protect his throne.


Friday, March 27


Why is it that departing people leave it to the last minute to reveal all? Take Martin Goodhew. Yesterday he was just a pillar of his community. Now we're told he's actually more showbiz than kmfm for Medway's Oli Kemp. Martin popped in earlier after finding out about the clip we popped up yesterday from Hi-de-Hi [details of his starring role included in yesterday's posting]. In his hand was a picture showing him stood in a pencil lift - a shot taking from the movie version of 1980s children's favourite The Borrowers - also starring Jim Broadbent.

Apparently his Extras career lasted 1,000 days in total including two series of Noel's House Party-where he appeared as a milkman - and a close-up scanning shot in medic drama Casualty. His biggest on screen role came in 1996 when he got the part of a policeman jumping on board a runaway earth digger in the TV show - 999 lifesavers. Martin performed all his own stunts. He was also a stand-up comic on the Isle-of-Wight.


Today is also the last day for kmfm freelancer-in-chief Helen Richardson who is departing after eight months of tireless tea making and comedy sneezing.

This blogger is always happy to recommend future career paths thanks to tracking skills passed down by his Apache ancestors. In my opinion Helen has a great future in the diplomatic corps - sorting out the Middle East etc - thanks to skills shown in getting us print journalists to think audio and remembering to record interviews that can also be used on our radio network rather than just be lost in scrawled shorthand. She is also likely to earn a fortune in ad-jingle making. Whereas most people sing top chart hits when making soup in the kitchen Helen would hum songs about carpets. In these hard times it could be a winner. Look out for her at the X-factor auditions soon.


Thursday, March 26


Martin from newspaper sales who runs about with bills - sheets of paper scrawled with variations of read all about it placed outside newsagents - is among those leaving us next week. It will be the end of an era as he is regularly the source of revelation. Today was no exception. One venture he might consider post KM is a return to acting. Fans of comedy classic Hi-De-Hi will no doubt remember him being pushed in the pool by Sue Pollard after she was made a redcoat in the final series of the 80s take on holiday camp life. It's a crime quite frankly he didn't get a BAFTA for that dramatic plunge. Watch out for him on an episode of Casualty soon.



Two coffees in and deadline day is gradually coming into focus. As ever there are some issues. We have a whole raft of pictures to post up here and in our Friday paper. Trouble is our IT pipe is blocked and none of the potentially award winning snaps are in the system. If it ain't sorted sharpish we're calling in Dyno-Rod.

It's a full house today - bar Alan who is taking a day off to recover from spin exhaustion. Lynn is back from her hols and has already delivered a major exclusive involving trolls, gremlins and being lost in a maze. Trouble is it was all a dream so might be tricky to get comments.

If you can help feel free to leave your comment at the bottom of this blog about a mile down. More later...


Tuesday, March 24


Am having a sort. After spending much of yesterday at the KM's Larkfield HQ in a last bid to save some jobs today is back to VDU business starting with clearing some of my 1,634 email backlog. The inbox today has included a wildlife missive from Alan about colliding eagles and a proposition to reporter Keyan from a potential Eastern European bride called Yuliya.

To bring you up to speed. Our esteemed newsdesk chieftain David Jones confirmed his departure last week after 37 years and five months with the KM. It is going to be very strange here without him post April 2.

Gone will be his daily Carry On moments and the rare treat that was him going downstairs to make a round of tea.

In addition Jenni found Sixties legend Chris Farlowe slightly lost in showbiz when she interviewed him for her On the Towns column. Most people answer the phone with a hello or an Elvis style Uh-uh. Mr Farlowe came to the phone with "Out of Time" the title of his biggest hit. It has inspired this blogger to answer the phone saying Puff the Magic Dragon after my third place duet in the 1982 Oaklands Primary Eisteddfodd. Who knows where it might lead?


Thursday, March 19


We were all rather proud of our political writer of the year today after the standards of crime coverage in the local press drew criticism earlier today.

Alan Watkins sat in fuming silence as a senior officer stood up at a conference held to combat perceptions of crime in the Medway Towns to lambast articles like the one a few months ago about Rochester High Street having the most crime in the county. Alan wasn't having any of it pointing out in no uncertain terms that the story was based on statistics Kent Police themselves had provided us with.

In the meantime we are still trying to get to the bottom of the earthquake that struck Upnor apparently this week while Alan was supping a pint in the Tuder Rose. Rumours that the tremor was caused by him falling off his stool have yet to be confirmed. More on this in David J's Between the Lines Column in our next Friday print edition.


Wednesday, March 18


Have spent the morning trying to be organised - effective junior management training volume 1 chapter 6 - including the office equivalent of doing lines.

This Friday is Winners Night for the 2009 Pride In Medway awards - our annual championing of unsung heroes living amongst us and nominated by you.

I should have done it as I went along but being deadline driven left it until Monday to sort. I have now got all 60 or so entries on the system ready for you to browse - once slightly tweaked. Look out for our PiM special report late tomorrow afternoon once Friday's print deadline is out of the way.

In the meantime we have had our first call for one of Keyan's Get Medway tidy bibs. Someone's popping around in a bit for six. If you want one pop us an email on medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk.


Monday, March 16


Just finished reading a cheery piece on a national newspaper website about the numbers of regional journalists falling off a cliff - jobs not literally.

Thank the lord for internet editor Sandra H, just back from holiday somewhere Eastern - Prague, possibly Chelmsford - and her gift to the office of a distracting slab of chocolate cake.

Hope you all had a good weekend. The weather looked lovely through the blinds of Strood HQ yesterday as we put today's print edition together.

This blogger is hoping the powers that be will set us free early today so we can start shedding the pasty Wintry look that is so-ooo December 2008. Have spoke with Donna on reception downstairs about setting off the fire alarm so we can all have a bit of a sun soak in the car park evacuation area near the 4x4 with Tony Blackburn plastered over the back.

As for news well Keyan is working on a great ghost story that involves a poltergeist who loves fishing. Other than that it's a bit quiet - What are you up to? If there's anything going on leave your comments on the Your Views Speak Out section or on the comments section about a mile down. Alternatively email medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk - with pics and videos of any breaking news story -especially anything odd and quirky too if you have a camera to hand.


Friday, March 13


It's Red Nose Day and Hayley is out on the cadge. Got in an hour or so ago to witness her cellotaping a plastic beaker/money making device to the kitchen worktop. If you're passing it I'm afraid you will be obliged to empty your pockets - cash is preferred but if anything more valuable drops out then sorry, but it's going on.


Thursday, March 12


So, the week then. Let's bring you up to speed. Not a lot we can share to be honest because of our internal shenanigans. Suffice to say there's been a bombshell or two.

The new arrangements in the kitchen appear to have restored a sense of community at Medway HQ. With the dishwasher off limits the long neglected sink suddenly seems to have got noticed.

Someone has invested in a bowl and some sponges. It's become this blogger's equivalent of a gym workout, which I'm sure is true for many here.

The only other exercise available for us Ginsbury Close residents at the moment is running upstairs two at a time - or wandering aimlessly up to the sandwich shop and back. It's a miracle we're not all the size of Wales [the country].

In the meantime today we've been talking about the reports of police tactics during last summer's Climate Camp.

According to the protesters speakers were pointed into Lodge Hill farm blasting out the Clash hit - I fought the law and the law won. You couldn't make it up.



It's a cyclical thing. Every other week we dish out an apology for getting too distracted to share the latest on our working day. Today is no different but have created a window - as part of a fresh time management drive - post deadline to bring you up to speed on the week's events at Strood HQ. As we say in these parts...standby.


Friday, March 7


I'm not sure if it's the shimmery

Medway sun out there through the blinds but there has been an outbreak of spring madness in the office this morning. After a week of mulling and occasional forced laughter things erupted into unbridled nostalgic joy among the County Desk and Kmfm teams thrown when Paddy asked innocently a colleague to name their favourite Thunderbird - obviously an important issue in the unsettled times. It was the catalyst for an outpouring of TV nostalgia starting with He Man, Skeletor and Shera moving on to Hero or Ninja turtles and Air Wolf. Normally respected broadcaster Rhona C dared to diss Danger Mouse describing it from an adult perspective as : "dull". Unbelievable. Radio boss Ant Masters moved things onto musical laments remembering when Groove Is in Heart was kept off the top of the charts back in the day by Timmy Mallet's Itsy Winsy Teeny Weeny..[taste alert, taste alert]

For the record I liked Thunderbird 2 - the green one from memory - for its whale like qualities.

In the meantime regular contributor David Gutteridge has emailed in support of Hayley woe earlier this week at the price of cucumbers and the grief it is causing viz a viz the cost of rabbit feed.

He writes: "When I was a boy, we fed our rabbits with potato and other vegetable peelings, and he seemed quite happy with that diet in the winter months."

Never let it be said we don't keep you informed.


Wednesday, March 4


Hayley has just thrown a tantrum at the cost of rabbit feed. Apparently the price of cucumbers from her supermarket of choice have soared in two weeks from 70p to £1.28. Don't get her started on carrots. As far as she's concerned it's the thin end of the veg.



This blogger spent the majority of yesterday holed up in the bowels of KM Group's Larkfield HQ trying to save some jobs. Fingers crossed.

It meant that attention has been swayed from updating this here blog with any detail of any further office shenanigan or seismic Medway activity. It's all a bit quiet for my liking. Just off to sort out some roadworks and to think up some excuse for not doing any training for the Town and Gown 10k and will return with some gubbins later. Obviously if you've heard anything let us know. See Monday's entry for details.


Monday, March 2


It's a beautiful Spring-like afternoon here in Strood perfect for getting out and about and in touch with newspapers and online newsdesks. If you've spotted anything going on email us on medwaymessenger.co.uk or call 01634 227847. We're standing by.

Nothing much to report from HQ. Lawrence Dallaglio is still with us, a factor which one reader has already commented might have affected England's performance against Ireland on Saturday. It has definitely had an effect on Lynn who keeps forgetting the 7ft burly bloke behind her screams each time - web ed: slight exageration alert - she gets up from her desk.


Friday, February 27


It has just been pointed out that the Lawrence Dallaglio in our office is THE kidnapped one taken from a Rochester pub last week. We thought it was the living, breathing one but began to get suspicious when Keyan spotted dart holes on his jersey. He also wasn't saying very much, which is very unlike the Lawrence giving forth his opinion on the BBC on Saturdays.

It appears the captors of the cardboard Twickers favourite have seen the error of their ways and the consequences of their demoralising actions so close to Saturday's crunch game with Ireland.

As you can see from the picture above - or at least until we swap it for something else - apart from the dartboard torture Lawrence appears to be unharmed and is currently being rehabilitated into society learning some fruity language behind Lynn C's desk.



This blogger smiled wryly - sort of a smirk with rolling eyes - the other week when a reader vented his spleen about us running a story about redundancies at County Hall. It's easy for you journalists to write these things when your jobs are safe he essentially said.

Sadly us recorders of your local daily happenings are not immune to the impact of the worst recession in living memory.

As a blog of our office working day it would be wrong not to mention yesterday's announcement about the proposed restructure of the KM Group although I won't go into too much detail. Suffice to say it wasn't pleasant - [actually that's possibly the understatement of the year. ]If you're going through anything similar our thoughts are with you.

With a month or so to go before decisions are finalised it's business as usual for now and the atmosphere today has been pretty good all things considered.

There are a couple of things that have helped - a box of chocolates courtesy of multimedia reporter Caroline M, a huge chocolate cake courtesy of kmfm's Antony Masters and the arrival of Lawrence Dallaglio. He arrived this morning after hearing the plight of his kidnapped cardboard cousin. We will be presenting him to the Who'd Ha Thought It - to be located in the kidnapped one's former home next to the TV - in time for the England vs Ireland Six Nations game at 3pm on Saturday.


Thursday, February 26


Sadly there are no happy endings today. Luckily where there's misery there's a rant from Old Codger Peter Cook to cheer us up. Here's an excerpt from his column which appeared in our last Monday print edition about Mid-Atlantic sub love:

Don't you wish you could have been the customer service operative at Direct Line, when the captain of that submarine reported his “dunch-up” with a French boat?

“I’m afraid I’ve had a bit of a prang.”

“Did you get the name and address of the other driver?”

“No but there was a distinct pong of garlic coming from his exhaust pipe so I think it must have been Johnny foreigner.”

Of course it was an accident waiting to happen. After all, we and the French drive on opposite sides of the road. Or rather the same side but in opposite directions.

Actually I have a theory about that bump. I think the nuclear subs were emulating the mating habits of that leviathan of the deep, the blue whale.

When a male blue whale fancies a bit of nooky, he sends out a low frequency sonic “boom” which travels thousands of miles. When she hears it, Mrs Blue Whale, browsing on the other side of the Atlantic, goes all goose bumpy.

With a flick of her flukes she heads off in the direction from which the “boom” is being generated, and when the two meet, kerpow – the ocean moves.

Now this sounds a bit fanciful I know, but think about it. Nuclear subs are packed with all kinds of computers loaded with a variety of intelligent software. It’s only a matter of time before this technology is assembled in such a way that real intelligence comes to life.

Along with intelligence will come real emotions, so that our nuclear deterrents will start to have feelings for one another.

It’s just a theory, but I think the MOD should give it some thought.


We're getting reports of a 999 search just down river in Strood. Hopefully on what is already turning out to be a grim news day we're hoping the man they're looking for is found safe and well.

One thing we've not been able to solve is the mystery of the loud bang Jenni's mum heard up Rainham on Tuesday night. Any ideas let us know. In the meantime it's time to plunge into Thursday morning's print deadline fun. More later.


Wednesday, February, 25


Post-script from yesterday - former Medway snapper Barry C had trousers bought for him from Matalan, Strood, not Bond Street, Chatham, as previously stated.

That aside it's all relatively quiet. This blogger is building up to editing his first video and is trying to build up a plot as opposed to losing the plot as is usual.

I really want it to be a great success given the UK's success at the Oscars and have already emailed John Williams to do the score. I say John Williams, he's a mate of my mothers who plays the organ at the chapel next door to her valleys pad in Aberbeeg.

The only office action so far has been an outbreak of car park war. It's been like a game of Tetris out there on the river front this morning.

It took at least 20 wheelspins, 14 handbrake turns and a fair dollop of sheer determination to squeeze me Corsa in next to the disabled spot at the front of the building.

Getting out will be another adventure altogether.


Tuesday, February 24


It's always lovely to hear what our ex-pats are up to. Reporter Luke H is somewhere in South America. The Major is still erming about his media consultancy in Manhattan. Former news-ed Sarah H has joined the boys/girls/men/women in blue up in proper North Kent - a press officer as opposed to a walk the beat one. Snapper Barry C meanwhile popped in for a tea earlier while his beloved Ginny popped into Chatham to buy him some trousers. He apparently tried to pick up some bargains from the London Fashion Week shop in Bond Street but turned back to the Towns' style heartland after getting stuck in an A2 queue. The Pentagon Centre is of course - bar Hempstead Valley [to avoid accusations of favouritism] - Medway's answer to Milan. Or at least it will be once its post-regen make-over gets a wriggle on.

Meanwhile this blogger has just cleared a bit of the general e-mail basket. Some exclusives for you...

Rustie Lee is returning to our TV screens for the first time since undergoing a double hip replacement.

She'll be on the Alan Titchmarsh show on Feb 26 where she will be cooking Jerk Chicken and dumplings.

We've also had an email from a law firm saying I've been wired $7.5 million and will get it paid into my account if I sent them $150 first. May or may not be back in the morning.


Monday, February 23


We've just taken a call from an anonymous sort with a possible sighting of Lawrence Dallaglio - the one kidnapped from a Rochester pub. He's been seen on Maidstone Road, Rochester walking rowards the Math school still holding his golf club and slurping on a pint. He appears to have a black eye possibly endured during an escape scrummage. The witness said he looked in a bit of a bad way. Will keep you posted.



Do you ever get those moments when you're blamed for something you can't ever remember doing? This blogger received a stern email a short while ago from someone writing not unlike a solicitor asking to explain why some pictures and a video apparently obtained by us had appeared in the Sun this morning. Suffice to say as lovely as it is to have exclusive pictures and videos on this occasion it wasn't us. As part of my management training I have delegated/passed the buck a senior person to make a response on my behalf. Phew all around.


Sunday, February 22


I went to the cinema yesterday afternoon with relatively nothing to put on the front page of Monday's edition bar a story about a former England rugby star being 'kidnapped' from a local pub.

I emerged from three hours with a bloke who ages backwards to a missed call from Hayley R detailing the latest on a plane crash at Rochester. It turns out to be more dramatic than initial reports suggested. Full details first thing. For once - given the newsagenda of recent weeks - it had a happy ending, but it could have been so different. The two onboard the training flight had a very lucky escape.

Hayley had a banker up her sleeve though in case of nout happening. She got home last night to be told a strange tale by her beloved. Turns out there are youths up there trying to bring back some festive spirit which has been missing these past er eight weeks.

Her husband-to-be answered the door only to find a Christmas tree on the doorstep, albeit a naked one minus baubles.

Finally for now, thought you might like an update on spider-gate. The biting creature set free by departed reporter Luke put an appearance last week on the ceiling above kmfm's Susan Hilder's coat. The multi-limbed terror has been, you'll no doubt be pleased to hear, dealt with humanely by Darren from advertising. We're forever in his debt.


Friday, February 20


A few months ago departed reporter Luke Hollands released a spider in the carpark from Frindsbury that apparently bites. We think it's back.

We first spotted the multi-limbed critter last night on the ceiling above the water cooler in the hallway between editorial and advertising on the first floor.

Who knows what it got up to overnight but it is still in the same position eyeing up Suze Hilder's coat. We fear it might have got lost on the way to London Fashion Week up the smoke.

This blogger has tried to coax it down using the same techniques used in that horse whisperer film but to no avail. Will keep you posted. If nothing happens this weekend it could make a decent splash for Monday.



Sarah C is off today and David is working on a supplement and so isn't technically here leaving this blogger in charge of the news agenda. My beef of the day is/are [delete as grammatically appropriate] potholes. If you have one and want to rant about it - especially if you're still stuck down one - pop a comment at the bottom or email medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk.


Thursday, February 19


There have been slight ructions of late about the state of our kitchen. Creative time it seems doesn't stretch to filling up the dish washer let alone filling up the sink and grabbing a brush. Today it all reached a crescendo when this blogger was forced to eat his coriander and carrot soup with a tea spoon. Could have had a plastic spoon courtesy of Jenni H but refused on a point of principle. We'll be forced to slurp from the bowl next.

While down there I had a fascinating chat with marketing guru Nicola about her husband's breadmaking. Apparently the secret of success is to pop your dough in the airing cupboard - or somewhere dark and closeted - take it out, accidently drop it and then put it in again. Voila, I'm told, you get a lovely loaf - once cooked.

It is also a cheap alternative to the lunchtime supermarket run and has started this blogger thinking about greater self-sufficiency and money making opportunities from colleaugues. Nicola produced 17 cucumbers, a tonne of tomatoes and some caulis from her allotment last summer.

If we all tried a bit of The Good Life we could maybe turn part of the office car park facing the river into a sort of farmer's market where we could sell each other our wares. Alternatively it could be a sort of lunch fruit and veg swap shop. If it gets busy we can always make it a car boot sale.



Well thanks for your contributions this morning. The print edition looks lovely, if a bit grim.

As for the online version have you got any ideas? It is still a bit too one way for this blogger's liking so anything you can send in - particularly videos of Medway happenings that have caught your eye - the wierder and wackier the better email medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk. More of you are now sending us your snaps for our Picture of the Day feature. Keep those coming too. No pressure.



Deadline morning. There's still blank pages to fill for the Friday print edition. If you have a story don't keep it yourself. Email us at medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk or call our newsdesk on 01634 227847. Pictures preferred.

If you want to make us a cup of tea to help us through the next couple of hours - mine's semi-skimmed, stirred twice with no sugar in the mug with a dragon on it.


Wednesday, February 18


We've been following up claims made in the Sun today about the tragic story of Medway toddler Rebecca Hopper swept into the sea at Folkestone.

If you wondering why we've yet to mention what they've mentioned it's because there's always the danger its been made up or at best factually incorrect. Our legal advisor is already having a mild breakdown after we put said national tabloid claim to him. We're awaiting his verdict.

To explain the process we've contacted Kent Police and asked them about the turn of events published elsewhere. They in turn have come back to us with a vague statement that could be read any number of ways - which makes things slightly tricky. Will bring more on this later.

In this meantime this blogger and reporter Keyan M are off up to Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre to shoot a video at the first photograpic session of this year's cute tots competition - Kids Galore. Standby.


Tuesday, February 17


Well, where were we? First day back and the atmosphere is a tad downbeat. Not surprising given the gloominess of the news agenda here in Medway since I've been away.

Tried to lift spirits by not gloating at Wales' hurtle towards rugby Grand Slam success but all I got back were tuts and a threat of a scrum five from our political guru Alan Watkins, which quite frankly no-one wants.

Today has been part of this blogger's latest lurch into the bright new future of multi-media - radio training.

The good thing about print journalism is that you can be a mumbling, incoherent celt but still get pretty good copy especially on subjects that have a sniff of controversy about them. You waffle on and give the interviewee a false sense of security thus revealing a lot more than they ought or would have done.

With radio there is nowhere to hide. I have obviously been picking up bad habits since moving across to the newsdesk, including answering questions just asked before the subject gets a chance. It's a sort of clairvoyance thing that might be good to put a stop to in future.

The rest of the team including deputy ed David J have already had theirs and have proved audio whizzes. Listen out for their efforts in future on our radio station for Medway KMFM.

In the meantime has anyone got a good, cheery story to lift us out of our tragedy-laden, recessional slump? If you have a scouser parrot that can sing Ferry Across the Medway for instance or have the Beast of Blue Bell Hill as a pet let us know. Email medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk.


Monday, February 16

Oh dear, it looks like more apologies are due .... in our defence, we thought we had updated this blog late last week but some unknown malfunction seems to have wiped our words of wisdom off the page.

It's been a very busy time in the Medway Messenger newsroom with so many amazing tales of human interest.

You've probably seen the story about Sonny Pataria, the 18-year-old whose body was found in the River Medway last week.

Almost immediately tributes began to appear on websites and the momentum of that has continued.

Sonny was obviously a very popular young man and he seems to have made a lasting impression on everyone he met if the messages are anything to go by.

Hopefully that will be of some comfort to his grieving family as they face the future without him.

We've already begun work on Friday's Medway Messenger. One big change is that our well-read Homes and Motors and What's On supplements will be relaunched as a new section of the paper.

The idea is that the all-in-one publication will be easier for readers to handle but it will still have all the regular items you look for.

Deputy ed David's arrival in the office today has been delayed by the discovery of a large nail in one of his car tyres. Rather than tackle it himself, he's waiting for Kwik Fit or the equivalent to do their stuff.

Tuesday, February 10


Apologies for the lack of blogging yesterday. Ben the Blogger inconsiderately took a week's holiday, newsdesk chief Sarah C had the day off (she's working next Sunday) leaving deputy ed David to soldier on alone. What with keeping the website up to date, putting pages together for this week's papers, answering calls and dealing with about 300 emails, poor old David barely had time to breathe, let alone visit the loo.

There was also a yesterday afternoon visit to Medway House by several representatives of Ofcom, the offical UK regulator for

broadcasting and telecommunications. Not that we have done anything naughty, we hasten to add. Medway House is the centre of the KM Group's multi-media operation - print, radio, online - and a series of

visitors have been shown around to see how we do things. And they have all been mightily impressed. As our editor said: "I feel a bit like a tour guide."

Meanwhile, as you read this, Medway Towers is being battered by strong winds and rain. Well, it makes a change from snow. Incidentally, can you rememember how long it's been since we've had so many consecutive weeks of cold and wet weather.

Friday, February 6


By the time our Monday print edition goes to press the murder inquiry should have gathered apace.

Jenni has been up to Dale Street and spoken to some of the residents there, who as you'd expect are a bit surprised to be so close to a murder scene. The victim appears to have only lived at the bungalow style property a short time, according to one neighbour we spoke to. Police say he was unemployed. Hopefully we'll get a clearer picture in due course.

We will bring you more as the facts emerge but as ever rely on your help. If you know anything about this incident first of all contact police but then give our newsdesk a call on 01634 227847 or email medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk



This is the latest release in from Kent Police sent a few minutes ago:

Kent Police's Major Crime Department this afternoon are continuing a murder investigation following the discovery of a man's body inside a property in Dale Street, Chatham.

Officers discovered the body of a man in his 30's at 9:25pm on Wednesday 4 February after concern was raised about his welfare. The man had suffered a fatal stab wound.

He is believed to have lived alone in the bungalow on Dale Street and is thought to have been unemployed. However, at this time there has still been no formal identification.

DCI Dominic Kilbride said: "Kent Police in Medway are keen to stress that we believe this is an isolated incident and officers are carrying out door-to-door enquires as part of the ongoing investigation."



Police have yet to formally announce the ID of the Dale Street man, whose death has sparked a murder investigation.

We understand police do know who the victim is and have notified his immediate next of kin. Statements, we're told, are in the process of being taken.

Jenni H attended the police press conference earlier, the details of which were largely those included in a press release sent first thing.

A further update, may come later with the murder inqury team set to discuss the latest state of play this afternoon. We will update the story here on www.medwaymessenger.co.uk and the county service www.kentonline.co.uk as soon as we get more details.



There is a press conference at 12.30pm at Kent Police's HQ with the latest on what is now a murder investigation in Chatham. We will bring you the latest as it comes in.

In the press release sent earlier detectives used the phrase "fast moving investigation" which is often police speak that an arrest or charge could be imminent. Watch this space.

If you have any comments about the incident scroll down to the comment section or send them in by email to medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk


Thursday, February 5


This blogger and reporter Keyan were delayed getting in today after some bright spark decided it would be a good idea to carry out resurfacing work on the coastbound A2 near Bluewater, reducing the four lanes to a single track during the morning rush hour. Do these people not know what the Medway Messenger Friday print edition deadlines are?!

Wonder if it might be time to add us Kent journos to the list of people that can use bus lanes, hard shoulders and maybe one of those flashing bluelights. Might be stretching it a little bit to make the KM the fifth emergency service, but still...#


Wednesday, February 4


Everything is taking an age today. I am putting the blame on a decision to walk miles to a restaurant across a heath last night populated every few yards by icemen emerging suddenly from the gloom. It was terrifying.

This morning shortly before this blogger's arrival our editorial director Simon Irwin journeyed from the far reaches of Larkfield to officially present Kent Journalist of the Year Alan Watkins with his prize. This time, unlike Friday, there was no need to send out a search party to the North Kent marshes or the labyrinth that is Medway Council's Gun Wharf HQ over the river.

Will put up some pictures later.

In the meantime we are gradually getting through the emergency provisions bought in case we got snowed in at out desk - Hayley's chocolate bourbons have proved a life-saver.


Tuesday, February 3


Have spent the mid part of this morning in the dungeons of KMHQ at Larkfield learning new things to make blogs like this more interesting. As you can probably tell it could take some time.

Have emerged from the depths to watch the weather on the TV in the staff canteen which is predicting lots more ice and snow in typical Beeb armageddon fashion come Thursday.

In the meantime due to the bad weather tonight's jazz event at The Brook Theatre has had to be postponed. The band, Heads South, will now perform at the venue on Tuesday, July 7 at 8pm. All ticket holders will be notified. For further details call the box office on 01634 338338.

No-one has bothered yet but you can easily be the first to add your comments simply by scrolling down to the bottom of this blog. You're close once you get to the end of August, last year. Don't forget you can send your snowy pictures and videos to medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk



Well it's the day after? How did you cope yesterday? What did you do with your day? Did you end up trudging up the A2 to work or did you join the sledging throngs up on Jackson's Field. Were you left shivering by power cuts like the residents of Rainham? Or did you implement your emergency 20-year snow event plan. We want to hear your snow fun tales - pun intended. Add your comments by scrolling a mile down to the bottom. Send your pictures and videos to medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk


Monday, February 2


Only the poor radio reporters remain on guard at Strood HQ until 6pm. We're still on duty though, albeit remotedly, and will continue to keep you updated as much as we can.

The roads as predicted to quote Jade are "minging." If you're thinking of heading out don't. If you're thinking of heading for Bluewater - as I did on the way home - well your shopping choice will be pretty restricted. Most of the doughnut is shut with just M&S - open to 9pm apparently - and a shop selling oversized rubber ducks were open when I passed through 30 minutes or so ago.

We will update this blog first thing plus the reports on both this site and the county-wide service kentonline. But we need your help in ensuring we bring you the best coverage. Add your comments by scrolling a mile down to the bottom. Send your pictures and videos to medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk



Still trying to leave the office, but first... a bus update

The situation is as follows in Medway with Arriva bus services:

Weather deteriorating and following services not operating:

105 to Davis Estate, 145 to Warren Wood, 164 to White Road estate.

The 166 is running between Chatham and Princes Park only, the 140/141 is terminating in Strood town centre.

Other services are under review.

Consideration is being given to suspending services later in the day.



We've had reports in from the Vineries estate in Gillingham of Medway's first snowball casualty - the postman.

He came under attack while braving the chill like a trooper at lunchtime delivering the mail.

Our source tells us the pelting by estate youths caused his glasses to fall off. He later found them smashed.

A concerned neighbour called us earlier asking if we - or you if possible - could help get him a new pair.

She said: "We were lucky to get post in this weather. I am sure these kids were having fun but to break his glasses just isn't on."

In the meantime this blogger has been ordered back up the A2, but will be continuing to update this blog at regular intervals today and the reports on both this site and the county-wide service kentonline. But we need your help in ensuring we bring you the best coverage. Add your comments by scrolling a mile down to the bottom. Send your pictures and videos to medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk



Just spoken to Katie A about the weather. She is to the Medway Messenger what Wincey Willis used to be years ago on breakfast TV.

Her weather report for this evening doesn't bode well. There is more snow - or there was the last time I looked through the blinds - but it will turn to drizzly sleet come 6ish with a smidgin of freezing rain before turning back to snow circa midnight. It means that we cannot overuse the term treacherous or hazardous for driving conditions overnight and first thing. Be careful out there.



Well it took about half an hour to dig out the car and prepare for the journey south - the back seat of the car was soon full of essential emergency accroutements in case of breakdown including a flask of coffee, a pair of fetching wellies and a copy of Men's Fitness for some reason.

The A2 and the Wainscott bypass were slushy but much more passable than last night, but with more snow predicted it might be wise to invest in some snow shoes or failing that tennis rackets in case of any enforced trudge.

The journey was, of course, spectacular helping to make even the Vanessa Feltz phone in radio show entertaining - when intermixed with kmfm for medway of course. Cutest call came from a four year old called Amy who had never seen snow like it before so had made a snowball and put it in the freezer to remind her what it was like when it eventually disappears.

The senior newseditor meanwhile has kindly offered this blogger emergency accommodation should this freeze turned out to be a longer term return of the Ice Age. Problem is it's me wedding anniversary so come thaw or blizzard I'll need to get home - via Bluewater for flowers and a card.


We will be updating this blog at regular intervals today and the reports on both this site and the county-wide service kentonline. But we need your help in ensuring we bring you the best coverage. Add your comments by scrolling a mile down to the bottom. Send your pictures and videos to medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk



This blogger's other half is running around the flat shrieking with joy. She may work here in the hood but with public transport at a standstill in the Capital she won't be going into work today. This blogger is having a cup of tea, putting on his thermals and heading in. Medwayvostock - Standby.

We will be updating this blog at regular intervals today and the reports on both this site and the county-wide service kentonline. But we need your help in ensuring we bring you the best coverage. Add your comments by scrolling a mile down to the bottom. Send your pictures and videos to medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk



This from the Beeb. Transport for London said all London buses had been withdrawn from service due "to adverse weather and dangerous driving conditions"

There are also problems on some London Underground lines, with the Circle and Hammersmith and City lines suspended.

And all services are currently suspended until further notice on Southeastern Trains.

The M20 was shut for a short time overnight but some very cold reporter is on the side of the A2 through Gravesend where traffic appears to be moving, albeit very slowly.

There are also lane closures on the QE2 bridge up at Dartford.

We will be updating this blog from first thing and the reports on both this site and the county-wide kentonline. But we need your help in ensuring we bring you the best coverage. Add your comments by scrolling a mile down to the bottom. Send your pictures and videos to medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk



Does anyone remember lucozade bottles when they were wrapped in a sort of brown plastic that you now get on last minute forgotton anniversary supermarket bouquets? Well that's what it looks like out there as I write this.

The Met Office appear to have been spot on with their forecast. There has been a veritable dump of the white stuff overnight - the most for 18 years apparently.

Will do a quick scan of all news sites and give you the wrap up gist. Standby.


Sunday, February 1


Just got home after crawling along the A2 from the Medway Towns back to this blogger's London chez. Advice for anyone thinking of going to work in the morning - leave now.

It may be better by rush hour but the roads are pretty hairy - as in treacherous not folicles - particularly the Wainscott bypass and the icerink a.k.a the Medway Messenger's HQ carpark.

Our Monday print edition has led on the arrival of the latest blast of Siberia to Strood and its surrounds. The Met Office were predicting lows of minus two overnight. The Medway City Estate was a balmy minus three when I left the warmth of the office for Strood's newly formed arctic wilderness according to the car's thermometer by which I swear.

We will be updating this blog from first thing and the reports on both this site and the county-wide kentonline. But we need your help in ensuring we bring you the best coverage. Add your comments by scrolling a mile down to the bottom. Send your pictures and videos to medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk


Friday, January 30


Our globe trotting recently departed reporter Luke H and his beloved - kmfm's Anna S - have only been gone a fortnight but they're already clocking up the miles. So far they've ticked off Argentina and Chile with a pop up the Andes. As of writing[ish] they're on a bus heading for Bolivia -as you do. Will keep you informed on their progress. In the meantime this blogger is signing off until Sunday morning or sooner depending on weekend drama. If you've had any don't forget to let us know. Have a good one.



Excellent news for the Medway Messenger - which includes our print edition and this online cousin. We've won News Service of the Year at this year's Shepherd Neame Kent Journalist of the Year awards. Alan Watkins was named News Journalist of the year and overall Kent Journalist of the Year. KMFM's Aurelia Allen was named Kent's Broadcast Journalist of the Year with Katie Alston highly commended in the Young Journalist of the Year category. Us few unable to make it/not invited to the awards shindig Faversham have celebrated with a cup of tea and a slice of Battenberg.



Alan has just strolled in and is refusing to go anywhere until he's changed his trousers. Apparently there is photographic evidence of his breakdown drama. We will bring you the full story of his adventures later once he gets his breath.



We have traced Alan via his wife to the North Kent marshes where he was last seen looking on as his car was dragged out of the mud by an army Range Rover.



We're missing our political reporter Alan Watkins. The judges of the Shepherd Neame Journalist of the Year Awards taking place this afternoon are after him. If you spot a well proportioned gentleman with a beard garbling council jargon let us know.


Thursday, January 29


Deadline over for Friday's print edition but for this here web version it's all go until, well about half six and later if anything drastic happens.

The mildly tranquil period between editions have given me at least five minutes spare to clear the in-tray including a three-line whip about an eye test dated October and a press release celebrating the centenary of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation.

It includes news that a rifle bullet can be lethal at three miles - but twice as many people are hospitalised by cotton buds. Good fact to know for the next time this blogger ventures into the hood or a warzone.


Wednesday, January 28


There's been quite a debate this week on the Jack Blanchard video posted last week after two youths were locked up for their part in the fight that even diplomatically put went slightly too far.

Most of the comments are about the blame game of who did what and why and whether our reporting of the incident fairly reflected what happened. Others have shone a light on the local patois [nicely used by one of the more irate contributers] and the latest lingo favoured by the next generation - "noink" as in "You don't know "noink" is a particular favourite, which I now intend to include as much as possible in order to sound more street.

In the meantime we have sadly failed to get an interview with the Medway seal although from looking at the photograph sent in I'm not surprised. It looks more like a sack of something unsavoury than a flapping mammal. Other members of the family have meanwhile been spotted off Deal. Hopefully we can get them back together Surprise Surprise style. Come back tomorrow for an update - print edition deadline day pressures permitting.



Apologies if you look at our website this morning and think everything is looking slightly similar to yesterday. The system is on go slow.

I can't confirm it but I might have hit on the cause. A seal is currently at large in the Medway and may have struck something vital. KentOnline video reporter Chris S is currently out on the river with a large ball and a bucket of fish hoping to entice said seal down river so we can get on with our work. Will bring you more as it happens. Morning by the way.


Tuesday, January 27


Where did that day go?

To quickly bring you up to speed before I head back up the A2:

Radio newseditor Antony M is back from swearing in Obama. He had a great time in Washington DC apparently but has got into the habit of speaking with a drawl. He was only away a week but you could be mistaken for thinking him a descendant of one of them pilgrims off the Mayflower.

All he's done today is walk around saying change this and change that.

KMfm broadcaster Helen R meantime is getting prepared for meeting Prince Charles down in Folkestone tomorrow. She has been practising her deportage to ensure a follow up invititation to Court and a future Damehood.

On this traditional print side of the office Jenni H is still blushing after being presented with a picture of a Strood football team for a charity story she wrote last summer. It's taken pride of place next to the trophy cabinet which, fingers crossed, will be full to the brim with Shepherd Neame Kent Journalist of the Year awards this coming Friday. We'll keep you posted on how we get on - complete with Kate Winslet style outpourings of acceptance gushing [if we can remember who to thank.]


Monday, January 26


It looks like a beautiful, bright winter's day today. Makes a nice change from yesterday when it rained almost incessantly.

The Chinese community took advantage of one brief break in the rain to stage their New Year parade.

The event provided a welcome splash of colour on the type of grey day that reminds us why we hate January.

We are now in the Chinese Year of the Ox. It seems like a great year to be born in as you are likely to be bright, happy, easy going, trustworthy, alert, competitive, a natural mentor, sensitive, poetic and a good friend. Oh, you are also likely to be hard-working determined and dedicated. In other words, an all round good egg.

So if you know anyone born in 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985 or 1997 - do they match this description?

Thanks to illness, shift patterns, days off, the Medway Messenger news team is on the small side today, but still beavering away to bring you the news via our website and making a start on Friday's print edition of the Medway Messenger.

Chief blogger Lee will be back in action tomorrow so we'll have more then.

Friday, January 22


You, the reader, rightly expect us to be suspicious. It's an essential part of our journalistic make-up - to question, raise eye-brows and tut.

Earlier this week I wrote about a press release about the difference Medway's new team of neighbourhood officers had made to anti-social crime since hitting the streets in September.

Lynn and I were convinced the rosy figures were more spin than substance, but er we were wrong. We'll finally post a story later - once written - after getting some comparative crime figures for the last year. Always worth checking.


In the meantime some more from yesterday, which failed to mention on what was a pretty hectic day here at Strood HQ.

Chatham's Historic Dockyard, as you may have read here or elsewhere, been chosen as the location for the first ever Armed Forces Day.

The announcement came on deadline morning for our Friday print edition. We had everything prepared - a photographer booked, video journalist Chris armed with his tripod and reporter Jenni H poised for instant reaction.

As you will see from the main story index - at least while it's still on site - the video was fine - one tick for our multi-media credentials, but we got a bit unstuck with the pics.

It all started getting a bit tense when Peter Still - our on-duty photographer - broke down in the Medway Tunnel - car not in tears.

His engine malfunction couldn't have come at a worse time - deadline day and blank space for pictures still on his camera that we needed for the edition. Having had word of Chatham's success we were also hoping for some pics from the Dockyard event, due to start around 15 minutes later.

We immediately despatched Hayley armed with a didge camera to salvage the situation waving to Peter on her way.

It was only when Hayley got there that she realised the full enormity of the job in hand - climbing up to a vantage point high on HMS Gannet - in heels. We only found out on return about her fear of heights and the laughter of our esteemed Medway rivals as she wobbled terrified up and down the stairs.


Boris Johnson is out in a boat in the Thames Estuary looking at a possible site for his pet airport project just off the Isle of Sheppey. Deputy Ed David J has just looked at an island yacht club web cam which indicated he is being bobbed about in gusty force 7 - 38mph - winds with a spot of rain drizzling his view.


Thursday, January 21


Yesterday senior news ed Sarah Clarke and I were called down to the video studio to watch the mobile phone footage taken by a witness to the horror that unfolded at Parkwood Green last July.

Our job was to select how much of the film we wanted to put online. I for one had never seen anything like it. The way the watching youngsters whooped and crowded in as Jack Blanchard fell was almost as sickening as the blows to the head delivered without thoughts of the devastating consequence. It was like, as our deputy ed later commented, like a scene from the book Lord of the Flies in which previously civilised youngsters stranded on an island turned into savages.

As journalists you have to try and stop yourself from getting too emotionally involved or affected by the stories we cover. It was impossible with this one.

When I got in today there were already comments left, mostly by visitors who were equally shocked by the edited version that we felt able to post.

There was one comment there from a friend of Jordan Akehurst, the 14-year old who can be clearly seen on the video repeatedly kicking Jack as he lay unconscious on the ground.

It accused the press in general of mis-reporting the story, that we should check our facts pointing out that Jack had wanted to fight. Jordan is a good guy, he said.

But the images paint a different story showing a complete loss of control. This was no playground tussle between classroom rivals that some could excuse as being all part of growing up. This brutal and ugly one-sided attack crossed the line by a mile.


Tuesday, January 20


One thing us reporters have to watch for at times are apparently headline grabbing press releases that are not all they seem.

This afternoon an email pinged in from Kent Police about the success of new neighbourhood teams in Medway, introduced on September 1.

It said that anti-social behavior had been cut by two-thirds in Medway as a result of the deterrent effect and action of the Kent Police Authority Neighbourhood Task Teams.

Calls went down from 41 to 16 compared to the six weeks before the teams were put in place in towns across the county, the release said.

This is obviously a really good news story and this blogger is sure they have made a difference, but the statistics don't mention the fact that the six weeks prior to their arrival were the school summer holidays when outbreaks of anti-social behaviour tend to peak.

Therefore it is no surprise that the number of incidents came down. They would have done anyway.

Suffice to say we have asked Kent Police for some more details so that we can bring you a clearer idea of how the teams are getting on.



Happy New Presidents' Day - can't believe we didn't get the day off to welcome Mr Obama to the hot seat. We will of course be trying throughout the day to get a local angle on the biggest story to date - apart from the one about Kelly Brook being dropped as a judge. kmfm newseditor Anthony Masters is currently moshing his way through the crowds on Capital Hill in Washington using techniques last used to seize 10cm of space on Murray's Mound at Wimbledon, formerly known as Henman Hill. Keep an eye out for him if you're watching the coverage on TV later. He should be easy to spot - look out for someone showing someone else how to work the cook a bagel gadget on their glitzy new life changing Iphone. Medway Messenger emigree Luke Hollands will also be watching the rather historic inauguration from an airport lounge/hotel room somewhere in Miami. Why he couldn't have just pulled up a pew like the rest of us in front of the big TV at Strood HQ I don't know. Does seem slightly excessive.


Monday, January 19


Getting in from the Smoke this morning was a lesson in how not to avoid traffic queues. This blogger switched on his accident avoidance radar on his way in after getting stuck in a snarl within shunting distance of the A2.

Thought it would a smashing idea to get around the congestions by doing a quick handbrake turn into the ancient Kent hamlet of Welling, only to find everyone else had had the same idea.

Finally got here in time for elevenses and an hour to spare before the shriek of production desk reached fever pitch ahead of the first of this week's deadlines - for the Medway Extra. Apologies if it looks a bit rushed.

An hour later Jenni and I headed for Chatham town centre to collect a couple of last minute farewell gifts for departed Luke Hollands who got a splendid send off by all accounts at Ye Arrow in Rochester, on Friday night and another one at lunchtime in Brompton. Not sure how many more he has planned before his plane heads off for South America in the morning. Just to let you know - given our promise of the occasional bit of office intrigue - that having looked through some of the photographs from the night, it appears the do was largely free of scandal and sackable shenanigan. Just lots of shiny teeth and red noses.

I meanwhile appear to have an accident curse. When Jen and I returned to office we were prevented from doing so by a kind officer of the law guarding a couple of cones blocking off Sir Thomas Longley Road. When we asked him what was causing the delay he said it was us two stopping on a roundabout to ask. Oops.

The story of that accident is currently still up on the site together with news of a gasleak in Rainham. The first appears to be over - bar Jenni having to walk a mile to recover her car; will bring more on the second as we get it.


Friday, January 16


Where did that week go? Has been a slightly manic one. This blogger has been on training for the most part, including the art of videoing a departing reporter on a Spacehopper.

Senior news ed Sarah C was ill for some of it leaving our deputy ed in a state of panic when he came in on Wednesday with the small matter of about 29 pages to fill for Friday's print edition - alone.

Tonight is Luke Hollands' leaving do in Rochester. Feel free to join if you're in the vicinity. It'll be packed with KM media glitterati. Actually it's probably best avoided.


Monday, January 12


Handed the biscuit tin back to Hayley..erm empty. She did say help yourself and it was too windswept quite frankly to head out for megapacks of Wotsits at lunchtime.

Today persuaded our kmfm broadcasting friends sat behind to read some stories Jackanory style. You'll hear the results over the coming weeks as we build towards the final of this year's KM supported Medway Creative Writing awards.

First up tomorrow - or whenever you get around to reading this - will be the tale of Henry Gumble's Garden which won last year's contest. It includes mention of Space Aliens, which is always a plus and is well worth a read. Tales of shrinking violets and a modern parable about overflowing bins will follow..



With web courses, holiday absences and the need to run about the place to keep warm this blog has been a tad neglected.

To bring you up to speed Keyan has been practising transcendental meditation on the editor's desk - nominally for a feature he was doing on coping with stress.

He seemed to get into the role a bit too much for our liking and was soon perfecting the art of yogic flying.

Eagle-eyed Hayley has spotted a slight chink in my newsediting of one of her epic tales used in today's print edition although it would be difficult to spot unless you're in the know.

Meantime her attempts at expanding my waistline has stepped up a gear after bringing in one of those boxes of biscuits usually set aside as an emergency festive gift for use when someone unexpectantly hands over a voucher. So far am keeping strong.

Aurelia meantime has introduced hot water bottles as the must have office accessory.

On the news front. Well as ever anything could happen. David Cameron is popping by later. Another celeb - Sarah H, ex of this parish, may breeze by in the morning. If anything else happens..let us know.


Wednesday, January 7


Well it's a balmy minus 2 outside but in here you could be mistaken for thinking it's the Med. It can only be a matter of time in these cash-strapped days that HQ switches off the heat and send out a fact file to us newsgatherers on the merits of wearing layers and vests plus late Christmas jumpers, perhaps branded with the KM logo.

As ever there is plenty going on but could always do with more. If you've spotted something and think it's worth a mention email us this second at medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk or phone our newsdesk on 01634 227847.


Tuesday, January 6


Just to update you on a few things that failed to mention during the festive rush. Hayley R is engaged [to be married not stuck on the phone.] The batteries on the screeching howling catapaulting monkey which Lynn C bought me in her guise as Secret Santa are also running low. It now sort of yelps.

Feeling slightly in need of a 10 mile run after a delicious lunch of fish and chips courtesy of the office hunter and gatherers Lynn C and Keyan M. Like a scene from that Monty Python film with the wafer thin mint Hayley - who I may have mentioned is now engaged - has returned from Medway's polar ice-cap with cakes to tempt me from my New Year resolve to cur down my chocolate intake to one tin of Quality Street a day. Am trying to be strong.

In the meantime have just turned off the heat that was sending everyone into a snooze including the KMfm broadcasters sat behind. Katie A has suggested we set the air con to minus 12 and see how productive it makes us. Will keep you updated on progress subject to the keyboard freezing over.


Happy new set of weeks for those for whom January 1 2009 signifies nothing more than something made up by the Romans and then put in a calendar by someone called Gregory.

Am writing this from home knowing full well that when I get to the office in approx 40 minutes time this blog will have to play second fiddle to something you online readers might vaguely remember as print newspapers.

We've got Friday's edition to sort and newsdesk chief Sarah C has dared to take a week off. I might live up in the Smoke but you can see the panicked looks everywhere - including my bathroom mirror a few minutes ago.

Anyway must dash. Remote working is all well and good but now that deputy ed David J has started making rounds of tea I want to take full advantage. Standby. More later..possibly.


Monday, December 30


Writing this remotedly from from home up northish in the hood. Didn't have time to update today but just wanted to write a few lines to keep up appearances before this blog returns with a proper regular flourish in the New Year.

Just checked the SpeakOut section where a number of people have been paying tribute to Stewart Fleming who died over the weekend.

There have been also been comments left on the story posted on our sister website KentOnline, some by former railway colleagues; some by friends; others by complete strangers shocked and stunned by the 37-year old from Rainham's premature death.

Us journalists come across tales of woe and abject misery on a sadly too regular basis and this one has particularly touched those of us working at Medway HQ. Our thoughts also go to the family.

Over the coming days and months we hope to be able to shed some light on what went wrong at Medway Maritime Hospital on the night Stewart and wife Sarah entered A&E with a letter asking for a bed. If the comments by some of our readers here is anything to go there were no beds available that particular evening. The strains on the hardworking and professiona' staff who work in that department is undoubted.

But that doesn't mean that there aren't lessons to be learnt and we hope in due course the hospital is able to tell us what measures - if any - can put in place to stop such a tragedy happening again.


Sunday, December 29

So that was Christmas then. It's this blogger's first day back after a week in the Valleys and quite frankly it's a bit of a shock. Hope you're coping better?

It's always a strange period this between Christmas and the New Year. Officially its the fourth day of the festivities but to be honest the mince pie I had this morning for breakfast at 6ish was a tad stale and the brandy butter was a bit gone off. I just want to bring on 2009 and be done with it now.

In the office with me today are Luke H for whom today will be his last weekend shift before setting off to conquer the world next month.

Antony M, KMfm's newseditor, was here on Christmas Day and is still going strong, although I do think he has slight cabin - or in the spirit of the festivities - grotto fever. He was very excited to have got a washing machine from Santa.

We have just been joined by today's sports team - Matt, Alec and Luke C - two of whom will be off to Priestfield for the latest Gills clash later.

In the meantime we're on the search for some news. Got anything happening? Email medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk or phone our newsdesk on 01634 227847.


Tuesday, December 23


A busy morning here in the newsroom, with our deadline for producing Medway's finest newspaper two hours earlier than usual. So apologies for the late start to the blogging.

Just had some shock news. King of the Jungle Joe Swash is ill and has been forced, temporarily, to pull out of Cinderella at Chatham's Central Theatre.

We discovered this piece of news quite by chance. Newsdesk chief Sarah C must have had some kind of premonition and found the story when she logged on to the Daily Mail website.

We heard a loud exclamation from her and assumed someone important must have died.

But, no, it was that Joe Swash shocker.

Incidentally, we were not best pleased at

the total silence from Medway Council on the subject. Not a single call or press release to tell that Joe Swash had pulled out and that a stand-in had stepped into the

role. Still,we guess that's the kind of publicity the council doesn't want.

Curiously, we didn't receive a single phone call from any member of the audience to tell us that Joe Swash failed to appear. Maybe his stand-in, David Jensen, was really good.

More cakes in the office, to mark Andy R's birthday. Tough one having a birthday 48 hours before Christmas - must cut the

number of pressies down considerably.

We are all getting noticeably fatter.


Monday, December 22


The end of term feeling is still here, as the number of staff at work continues to shrink in the run-up to the BIG day.

Much consternation in the corridors of the Gun Wharf council HQ at a survey in the Daily Telegraph which claims Medway Council is the worst-offending local authority in the UK for dumping recyclable rubbish in landfill sites.

The council is promising a response by way of a set of figures, presumably to rubbish the Telegraph's survey, but the response has been a long time coming.

We're still waiting for a denial (or an admission) three or four hours after we asked the "Is it true?" question.

In the fast-moving world of websites and radio that's just too long for a response.

Even a brief holding statement, at least hinting that the council thought the survey was rubbish, would have been useful.

The world doesn't wait for the council's timetable. The longer the delay, the more the mud will stick.


At last - we have a response from Cllr Phil

Filmer, the council's portfolio holder for Front Line Services, who has indeed rubbished the Dail Telegraph report.

Meanwhile, the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali finds himself caught up in another controversy (no change there)

as the year comes to an end.

It's the kind of story you couldn't make up.

A confidential list of church job vacancies and potential candidates found its way into the public domain.

In it, a reference is made to the a*******

Bishop of Rochester.

We shall be having a top-level meeting later to decide whether we can publish the word, although national newspapers have already used it.

It is, of course, an insult but an office

wit has pointed out that a set of asterisks could be mistaken for "anarchist," or, even worse, "atheist."


Luke is panicking about Christmas presents

and has decided to risk the horrendous traffic jams at the exit to Medway City Estate to head for Bluewater, where it will no doubt be hell on earth. We think he is very brave. However,as a female colleague pointed out, why is it that the male of the species always waits until 48 hours before the big day to buy presents, despite knowing that Christmas is on the same day every year and that there are 364 days in which to prepare for it?

Friday, December 18


There's definitely an end of term feel in the office today ahead of Medway HQ's Christmas party in Rochester.

Arrived to find a chocolate rabbit on my desk - only to discover later it was a reindeer. A Christmas Card also arrived from Codger Pete, which appears to have married me off to Katie A off the radio. I am in fact betrothed to a former sweet-shop assistant from Bwlch.

Our radio and County Desk friends meanwhile have had their Secret Santa gift sharing. No-one thought of getting someone a schreeching masked catapault in the shape of a howler monkey, although Katie A did get a pencil sharpener - in the shape of a cat.


Thursday, December 17


I've spent the last couple of hours going through the archives for some of The Major's finest Old Codger rants and nostalgic rues [is that a word?] from the last couple of years...

• Fellow Codgers

"My best kept secret - the combined elixir of life and supplier of eternal youth has been made public.

It is lycopene, the magic ingredient in common tomatoes, which apparently keeps me looking much younger, fitter and infinitely more handsome than fellow Old Codgers Watkins and Cook. I have striven for years to keep this secret from those old perishers, who get ever older, crustier and more gnarled by the day but blast my secret is out."

• De-suited oiks

"So what on earth is this crazy world coming to when young men arrive at work dishevelled, tie-less, scruffy, unwashed and distinctly suit-less?

“Suit? I’ve never owned one,” breathed a 20-something car salesman, sans tie and without any vestige of grooming, trying to sell me a Ford Focus and failing abysmally."

• Major upfront

“As a young officer I was attacked by them at dawn, as a Sandhurst exercise in trenches was ending - I will never forget their effectiveness, or having a Gurkha bayonet stuck partially up my left nostril for nearly 15 minutes as they routed us.”

Don't miss Gerry's swansong in our next Monday print edition out on Dec 29.



There was so much buffet left over that we were still chomping scotch eggs at 9.30am today. David J even attempted to juggle them as the e-numbers kicked in.

Other highlights of the Medway Messenger Christmas buffet 2008 included an appearance by departed snapper and credit crunch casualty Barry C and his beloved complete with new snazzy red leather sports motor which he didn't mention once. More like four times possibly more.

We also had a game of Secret Santa which didn't go particularly well after some colleagues failed to realise the key rules of the game i.e not to tell people what they'd been bought or not buying anything at all. David J for instance pulled Hayley R's name from the hat a couple of weeks ago only to shout out "Oh I'm Hayley."

Of those who remembered a lot of thought was put into the gifts. Reporter Jenni H got some writing implements, Luke some Toblerone and David Jones a signed copy of Greg Dyke's autobiography with only the slightest of digs about the deputy ed's aversion to making tea. Newsdesk chief Sarah C's feeling of loss at the disappearance of Benji the daily sandwich van was at last dissolved with some Latte coffee sachets and a funky mug. I meanwhile got a screaming stretching catapaulting howler monkey.

Sadly, our plans for a rare gathering of the

three Old Codgers failed to materialise. Peter Cook didn't make it because he was ill. He emailed Lynn C to give her the news, but unfortunately, Lynn was off for a few days and we never got the message. We made the assumption, unkindly as it turned out, that he had taken advantage of a sunny day to dig some manure in around his allotment rhubarb.

Alan W, the third member of the wrinkly triumvirate, was there. In fact, he was there an hour before any of us arrived and

was already full of festive cheer/beer and in fine form. It should be added at this point that staff outings like this are as rare as hens teeth. Believe or not, we just don't have the time or the money to spend every lunchtime in pubs. Though we might

reconsider this if ever a pub is built near our office on Medway City Estate.



Yesterday we said farewell to our eldest Codger, the Major (Retired) Gerald Bartlett esq after centuries of military service for the Medway Messenger.

We marked his escape at the King George V pub in Brompton where we also held our first annual Christmas buffet.

It was a surprisingly emotional farewell from the Major as he remembered his time here at Medway House and down the road at our old HQ in Chatham.

He was particularly appreciative of the support given by our old [no age pun intended] ed Bob Dimond, Sarah C and David J during his late wife's illness.

Over the past two years he has been ranting like a parade ground Sergeant Major about anything he could find a survey on. In our December 29 print edition he will be having one last Codgers Column hurrah. We'll also be adding in some of his gems, like the time he was on training and a gurkha stuck a bayonet halfway up a nostril.


Tuesday, December 16


Today we were finally able to confirm Medway Council's third academy plan. To be honest we guessed weeks ago - a hunch confirmed by whispers from people connected to New Brompton College. But when we approached the Council about it all we got was some wooly talk about nothing being fixed. Now we hear consultation will begin in the New Year.

In the meantime have just asked newsdesk for their predictions on what is going to happen next given our spectacular hit rate to date.

David thinks something is going to take place in Chatham High Street although doubt it could possibly match the Swashamania at the Pentagon last Saturday. Sarah C is currently stumped and is going to consult her tea leaves.

Feel free to share us your tips for the biggest stories of 2009 - fictional or factual. Email medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk


In the meantime Keyan has been attempting to build a tower of 50 pence pieces to illustrate the latest promotional vehicle for our Christmas campaign to raise tens of thousands for the Oliver Fisher Special Care Baby Unit at Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham. He managed 108 before the thing collapsed. Any non-stick tips on how we get £25,000 worth of 50ps stacked up would also be gratefully received. Email href="mailto:medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk">medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk

or add your comment by following the instruction at the bottom of this blog about a mile down.

Monday, December 15


This opinion piece appeared on the Liberal Democrats website today following the publication of the results of a Freedom of Information request submitted by the party.

Let us know what you think by adding your comment on the SpeakOut section. Just click on the prompt at the bottom [it's about a mile down]:

"When the Camp for Climate Action rolled into Kingsnorth this year even veterans where suprised by the over the top policing.

"Being searched–often illigally-two or three times before getting onto site was quite common.

"This despite the history of the camp as a place of education, sustainable living which eschews physical violence…and our open meeting with our minutes online.

"It was quite clear that political policing to clamp down on the energy of a growing social movement was what we where seeing.

"Despite this many in the media had no problem with reporting police claims of a weapons stash.

"It turns out that at the end of the operation no weapons where recorded in the list of confiscatred materials.

"Now it turns out that the ‘70 injuries’ being reported by the police do not exist, and those injuries that did occur where due to mosquito bites and toothache!

"The Home Office has now admitted that the protesters had not been responsible for any injuries.

"In a three-line written answer to a parliamentary question, the Home Office minister Vernon Coaker wrote to the Lib Dem justice spokesman, David Howarth, saying: “Kent police have informed the Home Office that there were no recorded injuries sustained as a result of direct contact with the protesters.”

"Only four of the 12 reportable injuries involved any contact with protesters at all and all were at the lowest level of seriousness with no further action taken."



The irony that Penguin and Husky class pupils at a Strood school have been sent home because the heating has packed in has not gone unnoticed in the newsroom.



Just looking around the office and our efforts to be seasonal are looking a bit drab to say the least. Radio guru Anthony M tried to get the ball rolling by giving each of his team an advent calendar. They also have a countdown clock which shimmers a shimmer of blue, red and silver to help the velvety voiced newscasters with their bulletin time keeping. It is also doubling at this moment in time as our sole Christmas decoration.

I've never been a fan of festive tat pinned to ceiling tiles but we could do better surely. There are least six rubber plants and a palm type thing strewn around the Medway Messenger and KMfm editorial nerve centre crying out for a bauble.



Interesting to read the Guardian report today about the kinds of injuries Kent Police allegedly sustained during the course of Climate Camp in August.

From the list of bites and such it seems that insects have joined the ranks of the eco-warriors with their dastardly anti-coal stings.

Our reporters were close to the action throughout the week and on the day of action and from our neutral standpoint it did seem the police - albeit not our own Kent boys and girls in blue - who were ever so slightly over the top at times.


Not lot into and the immediate crisis facing us today is the breakdown of the fancy water boiler in the kitchen. Got in 20 minutes or so ago hoping to launch into my final working week before the festivities with a winter warming cuppa.

But was stopped in my tracks by a queue of advertising staff all waiting for the kettle to boil. It is another blow in these gloomy economic times. Was forced to walk upstairs empty handed. Am thinking of bringing in a flask tomorrow.

Will keep bringing you up to date with any office happenings during the course of the day. The biggest thing to happen so far - try and contain your excitement - newsdesk Sarah C has won a raffle chicken.


Sunday, December 14


This office is a very different place on a Sunday evening. During the week it is buzzing with life, lots of people around.

At the moment it is just this blogger and a small sports team working flat out to finish off Monday's Medway Messenger.

Although it's getting to that time of year when every story or picture seems to have a Christmassy theme, there's plenty of non-festive stuff for you to read tomorrow if you're not yet in the tinsel and crackers mood.

I saw The Brook Theatre's production of Treasure Island on Friday and it's an excellent show.

It's put on by the Blunderbus Theatre Company who have a really magical way of bringing classic stories to the stage.

If Friday night's audience was anything to go by, there are plenty of tickets left and it's a great idea for a family Christmas outing.

If you've seen Treasure Island, or Cinderella at Chatham's Central Theatre, let us know what you thought of the show. You can do so by scrolling down to the bottom of this blog or drop us a line at medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk. Look forward to hearing from you.

Chief blogger Lee will be back in action tomorrow so goodnight for now.


Friday, December 12


Apologies for the blog silence. We're entering that time of year when deadlines appear - double cliche alert -like buses drawn er to bus stops like honey.

Suffice to say it's been busy here although there have been the usual surreal moments - this time involving the throwing about of penguins - toy not zoo - by our kmfm colleagues yesterday. Think it was some sort of team bonding exercise.

It's been a bit of a grim day news wise with the death of an elderly driver in Rainham at lunchtime today.

Fatal accidents are awful at anytime of year, but particularly now with less than a fortnight before Christmas. Our thoughts go out to the family.

This will be it until Monday [unless Sarah C gets a spare mo over the weekend]. It is the start of the Panto run at the Central Theatre tonight. You can still see our video interview with star Joe Swash on this site. If you're going and have time let us know what you're thinking by scrolling down to the bottom and adding your comment to the bottom. Have a good weekend.


Thursday, December 11


Given the quietness of today's online offering you could be forgiven for thinking that we've given up and all gone home.

As nice as that would be you couldn't be more wrong. Sarah C - our newsdesk chief has gone out to buy us afternoon pickles and cakes, as you do but the rest of us are still here trying to cope with the daily headline avalanche.

I've just come off print deadline and am at last poised for afternoon web action. As we say in these parts - standby.


Wednesday, December 10


It's a bit of surreal morning this. First up everyone was in the kitchen - well two - cleaning up their mugs instead of chucking them on the side with their mouldy soup bowl.

Then Jenni H and Hayley returned from a cosy dressing room chat with new King of Jungle Joe Swash. They accidentally bagged an extended interview with Joe Swash after failing to see the PR doing the universal sign for 'Your time is up.'

Hayley did a great job this blogger thought without descending into OK style gush. Joe Swash revealed that he would have learnt the words in the jungle but for his mother forgetting to put them in his back when he jetted off to Oz for his I'm a Celebrity shin-dig.

Panto-fans will be relieved to hear that he reckons he has the role of Buttons er buttoned up - despite being half an hour late for his rehearsal today.

Unfortunately us press lot have been barred from opening night but that shouldn't stop you from sending us your reviews if you're lucky enough to be going to the Central Theatre this weekend. Email: medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk

You'll have to wait a few more days for our official verdict.

Lynn and Keyan meanwhile have just spotted Bart Simpson in Rochester High Street. Explanations available on request.

Oh and did I mention former BBC director general Greg Dyke will be here in a bit.


Tuesday, December 9


It's a beautiful day to be spending eight hours on an industrial estate in Strood. With the sun streaming through the blackout - well they're technically petrol blue - blinds Team Medway are raring for some creative action. Just need something to happen. If you've got an event on, can pass as a top celebrity or are up to no good pop us an email medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk



The demise of Woolworths has certainly touched a chord with this office and many of our readers.

John Wright from Gillingham was even moved to verse. Here is an excerpt from his Ode to Woolies:

"There will be sadness in its going

Its a shame that we must part

There's an evil wind that's blowing.

A chilling of the heart.

"There's Pride still in our Woolies

For years we did you adore

You've been hounded out by bullies [quite a claim - ed?]

And been forced to close your door.

"There must now come 'goodbying'

As you melt into the mist

Tears for you we will be crying.

As you will be sorely missed."



Regular readers will have noted much tutting and rolling of eyes through the power of words on this here blog last month when the latest 48 hours of direct action by Climate Campers appeared to end with a damp squib - at least in the Medway Towns.

How wrong we were. While Jen and her Luke were on standby for a pitch invasion at the Gills' FA Cup game with Stockport eco-warriors were busy at Kingsnorth turning off part of the national grid.

Apologies for not keeping our Kingnorth-dar on full volume over that weekend. We'll try and learn for next time by keeping a beady eye out for sudden dimming lights and Chimney flags.

May also see if we can get a reporter to live permanently outside the perimeter fence at least until the protesters declare the war over and/or E.ON capture all the carbon from any new coal-fired plant they may or may not get approval for next year. All applications welcome - preferably with a NCTJ qualification, digital camera and a waterproof tent or yurt.


Thursday, December 4


Thanks to David Gutteridge and Christiana Bryan for their contributions to the Reporter's Notebook SpeakOut - the first since I first started this here blog at erm the end of August. Good to know you're there.

Christiana is less than happy with our print edition story from a couple of weeks back which reported on a council decision to demolish the Civic Centre, Strood including the older parts.

The building is set to make way for a car park until the housing market improves and the site can be sold off for trillions. The council keeping the building standing empty could cost them £200,000 a year.

Christiana argues that apart from Temple Manor - now hidden away on an industrial estate - the Civic Centre is Strood's only historic building. Rochester has its Castle? No-one is talking about knocking it down to save on costs? May have left it a bit late to save the Civic Centre but interested to hear whether or not you think the right decision has been made. Email medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk or add your comment to the SpeakOut.



Meant to write yesterday and let you know about our radio colleagues trip to the panto in Canterbury, but someone shouted 'No you won't' so I didn't.

It's a blustery old day out there today with everyone in Team Medway wearing a ruddy, weathered look as they stumble in from the dark ready for more deadline day shenanigan.

We've got plenty happening, which is welcome, but there's always space for more. Is there anything going on? Let us know and we'll stick in a nib at least. Email medwaymessenger@thekmgroup.co.uk

or pop your comment on the SpeakOut using the prompt below [scroll down about a mile to find it].


Tuesday, December 2


Luke H returned from a week in Morroco today. Normally this is a time of great celebration as the tea round gets complemented with holiday snacks. But there was fear and dread in this quarter of the office at what he would pull out of his bag. Last time he went there departed sports writer Andy R got more than he bargained for after chomping on a maggot cleverly disguised in some traditional sweets. You'll be pleased to hear we have tasted the new batch and to date we all have survived though this blogger is feeling slightly ill after mixing them up with a handful of Carolyn M's skittles and a seasonal batch of Jenni H's mincepies.



All over. Turns out Asda received 'a coded threat' which they too seriously enought to call in the police. Most probably a hoax call. Will update story as more details come in.



We're getting reports of a bomb scare at Asda's Chatham store. Hopefully it'll be nothing more serious than the pack of bin bags which sparked a full on security alert in Chatham last month.



Good morning. Still not able to work out how many of you are looking at our look new website because of a missing full stop. Our IT team have launched a dot hunt. Will keep you posted on progress.

Apparently our Christmas lights picture gallery is one of the most popular stories today in Kent but have no way of knowing for sure.

If you're looking at this and want to tell us why you're not doing something else pop us a line on the still empty blog SpeakOut forum down at the bottom...

A tad concerned we're stunning you to silence. It would be good to know you're out there.


Monday, December 1


More on the non-area specific protests taking place across the UK by those miffed at plans for a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth, Hoo.

Twenty five eco-warriors dressed in Santa costume raided E.ON's Coventry HQ at 9am using some not very good glue to stick themselves to reception.

Sadly it wasn't very strong and Security have been able to move them to an area that apparently can be blocked off to enable staff to work without being distracted what has become an impromptu carol concert, including the classic chestnuts roasting on a wind generated non coal fired fire.

Police arrived a short time ago. The Eco-santas are appealing for anyone with sleighs park on the roof on the off chance thet find an escape chimney to shimmy up.



New shifts started for the newsdesk today

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More