An evening with psychic, Tony Stockwell.

Walking between the station and Swingate, one passes by the Gordon Craig Theatre and you tend to see posters advertising upcoming events. On October 4, Stevenage hosts  ‘An Evening with Tony Stockwell’. Do you think that’s his real name or just a stage name?

I like to think someone told the then Dave Stockwell that they’d seen a hypnotist called Tony Le Mesmer on Alan Partridge’s “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” suggesting he should try that name, but he went and changed the first name instead of the second.

Tony Stockwell. And he's looking at YOU!

I was in Stockwell last week. Didn’t strike me as a hotspot for psychics though.

But you knew I was going to say that, didn’t you.

SuperDry season is back.

It’s started. As the days shorten and October beckons us with its gnarled twig-like fingers, we inevitably turn to parts of our wardrobe untouched since perhaps April.

We rediscover jumpers, cardigans, hoodies, scarves and long-sleeved t-shirts. And our trusty SuperDry jacket. I say this as I know this to be true. Every single commuter of blog-reading age and ability has one. Be the stitching white, red, green, orange, yellow and now pink (!), we all have the jacket of many zips. I know because I have conducted an unofficial census.

Here we go again.

They are warmer than they look, which is why it’s easy to jump the gun. I’m keeping my powder (super) dry but it seems at least one Technical Windcheater has emerged from the winter wardrobe just in time to say cheerio to the tortoises as they go into hibernation.

Now this chap disappointed me. As a wearer of the same jacket we are part of a wider socio-economic demographic. We dress the same: we are the same.

For a start his jeans were too short. Not in a Haggerston hipster way either. In a kind of Next or Asda way. And the trainers? Again, disappointing. Clumpy, perhaps suited to real running but not a credible accompaniment to the jean/SuperDry jacket combo.

And the way he walks? Up on his balls too early. Too springy. Too eager. We used to have a kid on our street we called Hooey because he’d bounce along the road calling “Hooey” to no one inparticular. Like him. Without the Hooey.

For the record, this chap had plumped for the white embroidered logo. Mine is red. Perhaps this is a more fundamental difference than I thought.

I certainly hope so.

Lady in waiting.

I pull into Swingate round about the same time every weekday. 8am give or take.

Lately I’ve noticed that there’s a car parked under the oak tree near the far end. Inside there’s a lady. Waiting. I don’t know what she’s waiting for.

...just like this.

Maybe she’s waiting to hear the news on the radio. Is she meeting someone here and giving them a lift elsewhere? Does she does like the Swingate vibe and so she just hangs out there for a bit?

If you see her, give her a wave. She’s in a dark green Golf. With a fag on.

Stevenage mourns a genuine heroine.

I was going to do my usual trivial update but yesterday saw an event that is infinitely more significant than the height of Stevenage’s street lights (tall as they are).

After a private ceremony in nearby Little Wymondley,  Dr Karen Woo was buried in a cemetary just outside Stevenage, the town she grew up in.

So, who is Dr Karen Woo? Karen was one of a humanitarian party of 10 killed while bringing medical aid to some of the poorest people in Afghanistan 4 weeks ago. They were ambushed, lined up in a forest and reportedly shot one by one.

Dr Karen Woo.

At first the Taliban claimed responsibility and then another group. Then the Taliban distanced themselves from the attack and vowed to find the perpetrators. Regardless of who carried out the attack, it’s pretty obvious it was cowardly in the extreme. And they’ve now deprived their own people of a team of brave medics who had so much yet to give – not to mention her friends and family of someone they referred to as ‘irreplaceable’.

She was due to marry 2 weeks ago and had just ordered her silk ballgown for the occasion.

Anyway, to put a little humanity into the statistics, here’s a link to Karen own blog, last updated 2 weeks before her untimely death: http://explorerkitteninafghanistan.blogspot.com/

It’s a fascinating read – but a curious experience to share in her obvious lust for life while at the same time knowing she’s no longer alive. It puts all our lives into perspective and certainly knocks this blog into a cocked hat in terms of significance.

The thing is, she would have known of the dangers, must have recognised her family’s concerns for her safety, yet she followed through on her desire to do good in the world and show the Afghan people not all Westerners shrug off civilian casualties as easily as our governments and military. In fact, her Wikipedia entry says that she gave up a lucrative post with BUPA to join the International Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. Strange then to think that she was just as familiar with Lytton Way, Fairland Valley Park and the Lister Hospital as much as the Afghan province of Badakhshan.

Others have summed up her contribution more fully and eloquently elsewhere, so I’ll end this small tribute here. The motto that accompanies the Stevenage coat of arms reads, “The heart of a town lies in its people”. Stevenage can rightly be proud of Karen.

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