Tim’s Blog

February 2020

Just coming back to normal after the huge disappointment of the General Election result back in December. I worked full time for the Lib Dem campaign here in Cheltenham where after a strongly fought 5 weeks we reduced the Conservative majority to just 900 votes. It wasn’t enough though. We’d had 10 years of a Tory MP who though a “Remainer” himself, consistently refused to back the 57% of his constituents who voted that way. He preferred to go with the smaller percentage who voted leave nationally. He also persisted in claiming credit for several Cheltenham initiatives that owed at least as much to the local Council or to other citizens, as to any efforts he himself put in. The result was nonetheless a step in the right direction – his majority in 2015 was an impressive 6,500. In 2017 it dropped to 2,500 and in 2019 it descended to 900. I just hope I’ll still be around to campaign actively in 2024.

Last year I did more of my talks than ever before and this year looks just as promising. I’ve talked to meetings of Probus, the Women’s Institute, the University of the Third Age, Arts centres, Village halls and many more. If you think your group would enjoy an entertaining talk about the world of radio with a selection of audio clips to illustrate the changes it’s been through over the last few decades then do get in touch – there’s a contact option elsewhere on this website. It’s been fun to meet several former colleagues who’ve pitched up to remake contact, perhaps in the hope of enjoying the funnier clips or in extremis even hoping to learn something new.

Cheltenham now has a two-hour train service to London Paddington but increasingly we try to use Birmingham for the big music events such as our regular attendances at concerts by the CBSO in the city’s magnificent Symphony Hall. The Jazz and Music Festivals here are usually well worth the price of a few tickets and there are some excellent performances up the road at the Cleeve Barn or around the corner at Chapel Arts.

Last year I completed my second book: ‘A Man of Many Gifts’ is a biography of my late father the Reverend Harry J Blackmore whose career as a Methodist Minister was a huge influence on thousands of lives including my own. My first, ‘A Little Bit Famous’ continues to prompt regular emails from readers, as those who received copies share them around their own contacts. A recent message came from a woman I hadn’t seen since my Blyth Youth Club days in 1962, but whose photo is included in the story.

April 2019

Somehow I missed the addition of a new page at the start of this year. It must have been the everlasting saga of whether we are to Brexit or not to Brexit, that stopped me from functioning normally. In that respect we are still pretty much where we were in June 2016. What has changed is that we now have confirmation that ‘Project Fear’ wasn’t fear at all, it was harsh reality and that quite definitely we will all be poorer after Brexit than would have been the case without it.  Several truths are now self evident: You cannot leave an organisation and hope to retain the benefits of membership, and no deal will ever be better than the deal we already have. I can see three definite outcomes from Brexit:

  1. 1.The UK mass market car industry will finally die.

  2. 2.The Conservative party will split and probably never form a majority government again.

  3. 3.Ireland will be reunified, thus marking the end of the historic United Kingdom.

Radio is now firmly on the path for its greatest change since the wireless set first emerged. The replacement of Commercial local radio by National commercial radio is simply establishing what should have been the logical launch system back in 1973. The BBC is well on the way to end broadcasting altogether and replace its traditional platform with the internet. Broadcasters will save millions from their current transmission costs because it’s the listeners themselves who pay for the internet platform, and the government will save millions more from the sale of the frequencies. By the time the transmitters are switched off, almost everyone will be comfortable with using an internet that by then will be fast and ubiquitous.

My connection with the radio industry is now limited to giving talks about its past to all sorts of social groups including U3A, WI, and Probus - it’s something I and most of my mature listeners find hugely enjoyable.

LIfe in Cheltenham involves working for the election of our LIb Dem prospective parliamentary candidate Max Wilkinson as well as helping to campaign for Cheltenham in Europe. In both respects I can’t help wishing more young people were involved in such crucial issues. My generation seem to me currently to be the most active politically, whilst those who are to inherit what we’ve done so far are involved far too little. At least climate change seems to motivate their consciences more effectively.

Here’s to more clarity as the year progresses.

February 2018

At least to my surprise, 13 months have shot by since I last added any thoughts to this page but I’m sad to report that not a lot has changed. OK, so Tony Blackburn has been reinstated by the BBC but with no sign of a public apology for the gross error of judgement by the management responsible for his sacking.

The Brexit bound Conservative party still seems hell bent on terminal self abuse, whilst Labour continues to nail its colours firmly to the fence. Neither of them seems genuinely interested in protecting this country’s future prospects. With a new report suggesting a serious economic downturn, irrespective of whatever this hapless government manages to cobble together, the Japanese Ambassador has now made clear that his country’s UK car factories will have no future here without unfettered access to the Continental market.

No trade deal could possibly be more advantageous to UK producers that the one we currently enjoy under our membership of the EU, yet the government is still trying to convince voters that we can indeed retain all the advantages of that membership without any of its responsibilities. As their court jester Boris Johnson continues to believe: you can have your cake and eat it – a proposition that sits plausibly alongside the idea of energy free perpetual motion or an effective cure for baldness. Can it really make more sense to export our outputs to markets thousands of miles away rather than to our near neighbours? Are carbon miles suddenly back in fashion?

There is already a growing increase in the public awareness of just how self-harming Brexit will be. My hope is that it can soon be even more widely understood. It is about time that we looked at some of the realities in our situation. There was nothing in the Referendum Act that committed government to treat it as anything other than an opinion poll. It is not true that the majority of British people voted for “Leave”. 63% of UK adults did not vote “Leave” – the 17.4 million who did, constituted just 37% of the adult population. Huge numbers of “Leave” voters did so, not because of any desire to cancel our membership, but because they were justifiably unhappy with the way their lives were turning out.

Our country’s difficulties have not arisen because we joined the EU, they have arisen because investment into our infrastructure, our education system and our health and welfare policies has been allowed to drift into dysfunction. If only the time and money being wasted on Brexit had been focused there instead. How about us taking back control of those areas before another year is done?

January 2017

So here I am one year on from that first blog and not a lot has changed in the Blackmore world. Not that is, apart from the momentous vote on June 23rd last year. We were in France that week and I tweeted that seeing the Normandy landing beaches was a strong reminder of what happens when European nations fail to hang together. I remain very disappointed that so many British voters failed to realise that the very real problems we face as a nation owe very little to our membership or otherwise of the EU and will not be solved by our leaving. No doubt the government will do its best to resolve the mess into which they’ve led us but it leaves me a sadder European than I was before. Among other things I cannot see how the Border between Northern Ireland and Ireland itself can be resolved. Both countries have said they do not want to see the return of a formal border but how else can the much vaunted control of immigration be achieved ? Without a hard border, any EU citizen can fly to Dublin, travel across the open border to Northern Ireland and thence enjoy unimpeded access to the mainland of the UK - what am I missing? If  border control posts are re introduced it’s hard to see how the current patterns of life for citizens of either country can be safely maintained. The next few years will deliver much that  demands our attention.

Cheltenham continues to provide a wealth of activity with the many Festivals, the Everyman Theatre and music performances across a range of venues. I’m writing this while staying with friends in Portugal and later in the year we’ll be visiting several of the Baltic Cities. I’ve started to accept invitations to speak to various groups including U3A, Rotary, Probus and the WI and mostly I try to offer a glimpse at the development of UK radio with an emphasis on its contribution to popular culture with a few laughs along the way. I try to stay in touch with the industry through regular lunches with a range of former colleagues and that’s an activity only constrained by the disappointingly slow train service between Cheltenham and London.

Last year’s sacking of Tony Blackburn by the BBC was for me an appallingly low point in the BBC’s performance record and still remains unexplained - one cannot help but see it as a clumsy attempt to deflect attention from past management failures. The Corporation has a track record of seeing popular music in a lesser light than other areas of its output and I conclude they saw the inevitable damage to Tony’s reputation as acceptable collateral. As 2017 advances I’ll be hoping they find ways to compensate him for this gross error of judgement.

With the completion of Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States, we must now prepare for what may well be a meaner, less tolerant and a self satisfied America. If Trump’s campaign statements had any honesty within them it will be a bad time to be a woman, a Muslim, a Mexican or an intellectual, let alone one of those ghastly “liberals”. The jury is very definitely out.

January 2016

To be honest I never before thought of creating a blog, but since I think I’ve now retired, I wanted to put my career on record, if only  for the benefit of those lonely people who spend their days surfing the web for lack of anything else to do. Maybe there are other Tim Blackmores out there who’ll have come across this as they search for references to their own names. Anyway, after 54 years of professional activity Margaret and I have now chosen to live in Cheltenham where hardly a week goes by without some Festival or concert or other enjoyable event taking up our time. The town also has a terrific range of eating places, and since moving here twelve months ago we’ve tried more than 20 of them .... several of them, more than once.

I wondered how my radio listening might change now I no longer needed to know what was being broadcast and the answer is that apart from Radios 4 and  2, I hardly listen to anything. Radio 4 continues to delight and inform with an astoundingly broad range of programming. Almost every slot delivers food for thought whether through straightforward statements of fact, or the provision of intelligent and informative discussion. Serendipity is the greatest source of joy - coming across an item or a programme to which one might never have chosen to listen, but which nonetheless enriches the day. Radio 2 gives me access to an unrivalled team of musical experts and surely the very best mix of musics from any station in the world - and I love ‘Popmaster’. Of course there are some Radio 2 presenters whose appeal fails to engage me at all, but happily with more than 60,000 music tracks in my personal collection, I can always find something else to satisfy my musical needs whenever they’re on the air.

Some days I miss my links with the Radio Industry. After so many years chairing meetings, organising events or producing shows in one medium or another I suppose it’s only natural, but the opportunity for more self indulgence than has ever been possible before, does bring its own compensations. Last year we went to China, Germany, Madeira, Holland and France and soon we’ll be back in Madeira and then the USA with trips later in the year to Geneva, Guernsey and France. I subscribe to ‘The Economist’, ‘Private Eye’ and ‘The Week’ and still love to browse the shelves in our local bookshop for something I don’t yet know about. New challenges continue to be important and my discovery of video editing has proved thoroughly rewarding - the family may sometimes be uncertain about my making them watch the results, but I’m loving the production process.

Our children have seen a year of change with both families’ eldest offspring leaving home to begin their new lives at University. Joanna and Simon, with their spouses  are now both running nurseries. Simon and Michele’s helps young plants to grow whilst Joanna and Steve’s helps the growth of young children. Looked at from this perspective, life is good, so at the start of this new year, I raise my glass to even more of the same.