Link: The Waendel Journal.
Tony Sharp seems to be a modern English yeoman. Firstly, he's a conventional "unspun" Tory; an "active member" of his local constituency association in the shires. Secondly, he's a man rooted in his own community. I used to live in Northamptonshire. Wellingborough is by all accounts (except Tony's) an undistinguished town. Yet he clearly cares about it in a sturdy English way.
His attitude to France is that of Nelson. From the picture on his site (resplendent in the headset he wore in his former job as a local radio sports commentator) he looks like the kind of guy you would want at your shoulder, cutlass in hand, when boarding a French man o'war.
That a rootless cosmopolitan element such as I should find anything to appeal in Tony's blog is remarkable. It certainly surprises me. The urge to escape the narrow provincialism of my home town was the main engine of my early ambition. I wanted out of the sort of community where everyone knows each other's business and a nuclear strike on the capital would be reported in the local paper with the headline "Slight damage to local bus shelter". Yet, for reasons I can't entirely fathom, I enjoy reading his posts. Tony's blog is young (est. 19th December 2006) and he is still finding his voice. In his opening post, he stated his aim
"to comment on British politics in general, current affairs and particularly issues that affect the Northamptonshire town of Wellingborough and its surrounding area."
I am pleased that so far he seems to have focussed more on the "in general" bit. I have counted only three Wellingborough-specific posts. It will be interesting to see if his blog retains its wider appeal if he writes more about his home town. I guess it depends how he does it. I have no interest in fishing, but there is one fishing programme I love to watch on TV because the presenter's pleasure in his hobby is infectious! All things are possible.
So far, Tony's subjects have ranged from President Chirac's failed Google-killer, through the "surveillance society" to an obituary notice for a former Wellingborough councillor. All are written in a homely, good-natured manner, although his language about Gordon Brown (who can blame him?) is unparliamentary. His openness is so disarming that one can only hope his wife's boss (and perhaps even his wife) doesn't read his blog. He is conventionally warm about the NHS, an organisation that only its mother could love, and stoutly dismissive of UKIP.
Tony, in his short blogging career, has effortlessly pulled off something rather difficult - at least for me. Although he writes about political subjects, he reveals his own personality in the process. Not that his is one of those artfully "matey" blogs. I hate those. He just does it by accident and, whether you agree with him or not, you find yourself liking him.
In the end, I suppose what the Waendel Journal does for me is provide reassurance, amid the mad stories in the daily news, that the England I know endures; that ordinary citizens go about their business and that they challenge the bizarre behaviour of their mad rulers with good humour. Tony's is a voice of normality in the wacky, egotistical world of the political blogosphere. Long may it be heard.