An idea for an outing

I was recently invited to Osterley House to see the exhibition of silver tableware. ‘Made for the Table’ shows how our ideas about beauty as represented in table decorations have changed from 1600 to the present day.

The exhibition includes Osterley’s own rare and antique silver, typically ornate and ostentatious as befitted the status of Sir Francis Child, founder of Child’s bank, whose family restored the house (originally Tudor but fallen into disrepair) in the late eighteenth century with the aid of architect Robert Adam. Among the collection is a solid silver wine cooler it apparently took five men to carry. The exhibition also includes an exquisite collection of modern silverware from the Goldsmith’s Company.

‘Made for the Table’ is open until the end of February and the National Trust house, the cafe in the old stable block and the park, with its lake and landscaped gardens, is lovely to visit at any time.

Is now the right time to sell your house?

Guest blog by James Waight

Welcome to our first Chiswick property market update. This is an overview of what we are currently experiencing in the local market.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the numerous negative headlines relating to the London property market, we have had an extremely encouraging few months leading up to Christmas. In November we have agreed the sale of six properties, which have ranged from one bedroom flats to four bedroom houses. Many of these purchasers were keen to secure a property before the New Year and take advantage of the record low mortgage rates.

We recently completed on a property in Grove Park within seven weeks from instruction to completion, achieving 95% of its asking price which was a phenomenal result. This just shows, with the right pricing and marketing strategy, the process of selling your home in Chiswick can still be swift and without complication. Another success from last month was agreeing the sale of a house in Bedford Park for 99% of its asking price. I believe that many purchasers are starting to recognise that this is a great time to buy and if they delay and wait to see what happens after Brexit, it is likely they will be paying more money. I have to say that I myself fall into this category, I am currently selling my flat and although I am selling for far less than I would like, I am happy to accept the reduction because the properties I want to buy have come down just as much in price if not more!

For those who are not yet ready to take the plunge and market their home but would like to move in the near future we have a soft marketing approach that has proved to be extremely popular in 2018 and will no doubt continue in 2019. The premise of this approach is to not externally advise your home but only introduce it to specific buyers registered with John D Wood & Co. We have recently agreed a number of sales with this off-market approach in the last few months, so if you are not actively registered with us and are searching for a property to purchase feel free to get in touch. If you are considering selling and would prefer a soft-marketing approach then we would be happy to talk you through the process.

If you are interested in selling or curious about the value of your property we would be very happy to offer you a no obligation complimentary market appraisal. Feel free to get in touch as we will be open between Christmas and New Year. We hope you’ve had a lovely Christmas and wish you a Happy New Year!

johndwood.co.uk

James Waight is Associate Director, John D Wood & Co in Turnham Green Terrace, which sponsors The Chiswick Calendar

Photograph below – John D Wood & Co’s Chiswick team, with James on the left. Photograph above – Chiswick Street by Anna Kunst.

Chiswick’s new entertainment venue

When St Alban’s Church on South Parade was rescued from the prospect of redevelopment as flats, the argument put forward was not that Chiswick needed another place of worship, but that the space would be an asset for the community as a whole.

A huge effort has been made to raise funds to renovate the building over the past couple of years and that is now bearing fruit. Last weekend the church’s new stage and lighting rig was put to use for the first time for the production of Ebony Scrooge, the Street Dance version of Scrooge, featuring street dance crew I.M.D. Brilliant performances from the dancers, aged between 8 and 23.

The high energy production, choreographed by Omar Ansah-Awuah and produced by James Narh and Rhian Williams was sold out all three days. It’s a pity they didn’t have a longer run as they could have sold out several times over, but I look forward to more productions from James and Rhian’s company Jarhia.com. If this one was anything to go by they will bring a breath of fresh air and something of interest for the area’s underserved youth.

Photograph above – ‘Tiny Tim’ in December 2018 production of ‘Ebony Scrooge’. Video below – the Ghost of Christmas Present.

Chinese state TV opens in Chiswick

Chinese state broadcasting company CGTN has opened its European hub at Chiswick Business Park. The broadcaster is now listed on Chiswick Park’s website in the list of ‘Who you’ll find at Chiswick Park’ and is reportedly occupying 30,000 square feet in Building 7. They have been recruiting journalists, news anchors, presenters and producers as well as technical staff since early summer. Job adverts state that the digital and television hub will be producing “news, online, and other content to feed into our global English language platforms.”

The move is highly controversial as the broadcaster is the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist party and is accused of recording forced confessions for the government. British fraud investigator and former Reuters journalist Peter Humphrey has filed an Ofcom complaint seeking to revoke the Chinese broadcaster’s UK license for their complicity in human rights crimes.

Mr Humphrey and his Chinese wife Yu Yingzeng were hired by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline and while working for them were detained and charged with “illegally acquiring personal information” of Chinese nationals. In his Ofcom complaint he documents how he was forced to make confessions which were recorded by and broadcast on state television in August 2013 and again in July 2014 ‘under conditions tantamount to torture.’ He says ‘Neither of these instances qualify as journalism or true media activity. CCTV was working in active collusion with the police and the Chinese state’. In the first instance the interviewer was a police inspector, in the second it was a CCTV interviewer. He says the interviews prejudiced his ‘sham’ trial.

Mr Humphrey’s complaint to Ofcom has been backed by journalists working for BBC World TV who say “This NUJ Chapel condemns moves to deepen control by the Chinese Communist Party of news and information and the online surveillance of its citizens. We also condemn how forced televised confessions, filmed and broadcast by CCTV, are now commonplace in China”.

Mr Humphrey points out that Ofcom has a duty under section 319 of the Communications Act 2003 to set standards for the content of programmes in television and radio services. Citing the sections which explicitly ban abusive or derogatory treatment of individuals and require that News must be reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality and broadcasters must avoid unjust or unfair treatment of individuals, he reminds the regulatory body that they are required to act in a way compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Televised forced confessions are conducted systematically in China by the state broadcaster and broadcast before trial, according to the human rights organization Safeguard Defenders, detailed in their report ‘Scripted and Staged’.

Deputy Commander promises action on crime

Photograph: Superintendent Gary Taylor addressing the meeting in St Michael & All Angels Church

Chiswick has a crime problem, the police recognize it and are acting on it, was the message of Superintendent Gary Taylor at a packed meeting at St Michael & All Angels church on Thursday night.

As one person after another stood up to speak about how their teenage child had been mugged, there had been more than one stabbing recently and a shooting incident, it became apparent that there are a lot of assaults, especially on teenage boys, which go largely unreported by local media because the police don’t talk about them. What we hear about crime in Chiswick is largely anecdotal but personal experience of assaults on teenagers was common among the audience of 250 or so people who came to the meeting organized by Chiswick’s Conservative councillors.

There has been a spate of muggings in the area around Turnham Green tube station, on Chiswick Back Common and in Bath Rd and the stabbing of a young man in Chiswick Park tube station on Thursday 13 December by a gang who apparently followed him off the tube train, has shocked the community.

Superintendent Taylor told the meeting they have noticed a pattern of assailants coming in to Chiswick by tube and that they are working with British Transport Police to try and track the gangs responsible.

“We know there is a problem here”

The officer, who is Deputy Commander of West Area, the tri-borough command of Hillingdon, Ealing and Hounslow, an area covering more than 100 square miles with one million residents, said he knew that “things aren’t going so well” and that he understood the frustration and concern of residents.

“We know there is a problem here” he said. He promised to come up with a plan and to report back in three months’ time about how effectively they were dealing with it. In formulating a plan, he said police looked at “where is the crime happening and why and what can be done”.

He told the meeting that 80% crime is opportunist, that on his way to the meeting he’d driven around the area and noticed how dark it was. Improving lighting and using moveable CCTV cameras were both ways of “designing out” crime, making an area less attractive to would-be attackers who would go elsewhere. Displacement is also a factor in the pattern of how crime is committed.

Three arrests

What the police can do is to target known habitual knife carriers and take them out of the equation by stepping up stop and search. He announced that three people had been arrested the day before the meeting who police believe are responsible for knife point robberies, as a result of work by undercover officers over the past week.

“Some people have the attitude that we can’t do anything about crime like this” he said, but this is not true. “We need a plan” he said, “a contract; what we will do, what the council will do and what residents will do”.

Photographs: Left – Local police officers based in Chiswick. Right – Torin Douglas, Sergeant Anil Sharma, Inspector Dee O’Brien and leader of the Conservative group of councillors Sam Hearn

Better street lighting

Better street lighting is the responsibility of councils. The Conservative group of councillors have already talked to officers at Hounslow council. Street lights are being dimmed to save money. Sam Hearn, leader of the Conservative group, told the meeting that they had asked the council to look again at the policy and to install new lighting and CCTV cameras. Ranjit Gill, councillor for Turnham Green ward, said the lights had already been switched back to full strength in two roads – Windmill Rd and Chiswick Common Rd.

Sam was jeered when he began to criticize the council for mismanaging finances, as was Ruth Cadbury MP when she addressed the meeting briefly and said talked about the effect of government policies on local councils. “Knife crime doesn’t happen in a vacuum” she said, “we can’t get way from the resources issue”.

It was clear from the meeting that people were in no mood for party political blame and counter blame. Former BBC correspondent Torin Douglas, who chaired the meeting, said at the outset that the event was to be “a practical and un-party-political meeting” because “people feel extremely strongly and are very concerned”.

Shooting in Clovelly Rd

The meeting heard from one woman about how there had been a shooting incident in Clovelly Rd. The target was in a neighbouring house. She had kept her sons in but she was angry that police had not warned people there was a gun man free in the neighbourhood. Police were in attendance after the incident at 3.00am in which three shots were fired, but didn’t catch him and the gunman came back the following night. “The police never told any of our neighbours. I kept my sons in  but it could have been your sons caught in the crossfire”. “How can we trust you” she asked Superintendent Taylor “when you don’t tell us what’s going on?” He answered “telling the media can have a negative effect. We put our efforts into trying to arrest people, and we have. Two people have been arrested and there is a closure order on that address”.

Police inaction

Another woman who preferred to be anonymous said her 12 year old son had been mugged outside Arts Ed school, they’d reported it straight away and yet nearly two weeks later no police officer had come to talk to her son about it. “It was at 6pm on a Thursday. That area is very well lit. These were 14 or 15 year old boys wearing blazers. We could identify the school.” Not taking action was just giving these young people the idea that they could just get away with crime, she said.

Torin Douglas said delays in contact from the police was one of the biggest complaints they’d received. Gary Taylor apologized and said that was unacceptable. “Communication might not be right. Maybe we could improve that”. More than 60 questions had been submitted prior to the meeting and he said he would answer them all.

Reduction in police recources

On the resources available to the police he said the police service had had huge cuts made to their budget. “It’s quite a big ask to keep everyone happy with reduced resources” and “the money saving journey is not yet finished.”

A teenager in the audience spoke of how he’d been chased by “three guys with knives. I was quick enough to run away but I worry that my two younger brothers would not have been”. Responding to Gary Taylor’s statement that the police aimed to respond within 15 minutes, he said “15 minutes is too long to wait. You need to get away from danger immediately. What we need is a safe place.”

Asked whether the closure of Chiswick Police Station had taken away that opportunity of a safe place to go to, the superintendent said under the new way of working they were actually better able to respond as they were more flexible.

The manager of the Rocks Lane sports complex Barry Murray said they have over 6,000 people visit them each week. Young people turned to the football coaches because they’d been threatened or mugged on a daily basis. “They run into our centre for protection”.

Sarah Spateri said when her 12 year old son was mugged last year police took just 11 minutes to arrive and followed text book procedure, driving him around to see if he could spot the mugger, but when a similar thing happened to her friend’s son recently police took over an hour to respond.

James Thellusson told how his son had been followed home from a burger restaurant on the High Rd. He’d been assaulted within 20 yards of his house. He’d been told by the police that if there had been more CCTV available they’d have been able to track them through Chiswick and that the more crime that was reported the more resources were made available.

Superintendent Gary Taylor has promised to return to Chiswick in three months to report back on progress.

Cycle superhighway not so super

The Mayor of London has launched a major Action Plan to get Londoners cycling. Confirming that CS9 will be constructed in 2019, the Mayor has also announced new routes to be built next year, including one between Tottenham Hale and Camden, and another between Hackney and the Isle of Dogs. New quality standards will be introduced which will ensure cycle routes are ‘welcoming’ for all Londoners to use and the ‘world’s first Cycling Infrastructure database’ will make more information available for people wanting to plan their bike journey across the capital using the app.

Promising the ‘largest funded investment in improved cycling infrastructure of any city in the UK’ the Cycling Action Plan sets out how TfL and the London boroughs will ‘use cycling to help address poor air quality and congestion, while improving infrastructure to make cycling even easier safer and more accessible for everyone’.

The Mayor wants to increase the proportion of people walking, cycling and taking public transport to 80 per cent of journeys by 2041, from 63 per cent now.  Announcing the plan, Sadiq Khan said “I’m determined to ensure every Londoner feels comfortable and safe getting on a bike, whatever their age, experience or background.”

 

Hammersmith hiccup


‘TfL continues to work with Hammersmith & Fulham and Hounslow Councils on plans for a major route between Kensington and Brentford’. The details of how those plans are to be amended following last year’s consultation and now not due to be released until January. Originally they were meant to be announced in September, then October, then November. The fly in the ointment has apparently been Hammersmith and Fulham borough, who wanted to fully pedestrianise King St with no vehicle access and no cycle lane. A spokeswoman for Tfl told me they’d now reached a compromise in which King St would be ‘more of a pedestrianised area’ and a ‘vast improvement for pedestrians’ while still permitting some vehicular access and including the cycle lane. 

The labels ‘Superhighway’ and ‘Quietway’ are being ditched, as one summons up the image of a high speed cyclists’ equivalent of a motorway, with lycra louts flashing past and the other conjures up a gentle meander peddling gently through hushed meadows, neither of which actually describe the experience of using a roadside cycle path in London. Their market research has confirmed what any fool could have told them, that the term ‘superhighway’ is ‘polarising’ so they’ve decided on something more neutral across the cycle network, such as ‘cycle way’ but the spokeswoman told me they hadn’t quite decided what to call it yet.

What a relief that after all this kerfuffle we’ll just be getting a cycle path.

Councillors in talks about better lighting

Chiswick’s Conservative councillors have had talks with officers of Hounslow Council and persuaded them not to dim the lighting around Chiswick Back Common, in an effort to reduce crime.

The Council had decided to use less power as a cost cutting measure, but after a spate of muggings around Turnham Green tube station the lights on Chiswick Common Road and the the lights on Windmill Road have been taken out of the computerised dimming regime.

The councillors have also received a commitment that the council will provide additional lighting and brighter bulbs in the ‘heritage’ lamps around Chiswick Back Common. CCTV provision in and around Chiswick Common and the surrounding area are also to be reviewed as a matter of priority.

Image: The Cold Night – Jon Perry

Public meeting on policing

The councillors have organised a public meeting on policing in the area tomorrow night, Wednesday 19 December at St Michael & All Angels Church, Bath Rd. W4 1TX. The meeting will be chaired by former BBC correspondent Torin Douglas and attended by Superintendent Gary Taylor, the Base Command Unit Deputy Commander. West Area, the policing area we are now part of, covers the three boroughs of Hounslow, Hillingdon and Ealing. Doors open at 7.00pm for the meeting to start at 7.30pm.

Councillor Ranjit Gill commented: “We are grateful to the police and the London Borough of Hounslow Council for listening to our recommendations and responding so quickly to the concerns of our constituents. We look forward to continuing to work together to further promote the safety and security of local residents”.

Teenager stabbed at Chiswick Park tube station

There was a serious incident last Thursday when a teenager was stabbed at Chiswick Park tube station. The victim was attacked inside the front entrance of the station just after 5.00pm by a gang of four youths who had apparently followed him off the train. He received first aid from Eban Djima, who owns Chiswick Park Dry Cleaners.

Anyone with information is asked to contact British Transport Police by sending a text to 61016 or by calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 424 of 13 December

For the Love of Music

A new film by Kelvin Murray, a two minute video celebrating young musicians in West London, has been put together to promote the St Michael’s Advent Calendar and Christmas Charity Appeal (of which The Chiswick Calendar is a sponsor).

St Michael’s & All Angels has a charity appeal every year. Buy charity Christmas cards, see the Advent Calendar with pictures by local children, donate money to the church’s charities and watch the film featuring 20 young musicians, including two members of St Michael’s Choristers – Wilfred Morris, playing a clarinet in St Michael’s Vicarage, and Rory Johnston playing saxophone (pictured above). Scenes of other young musicians were shot in St Michael & All Angels Church and its sister church, St Peter’s Acton Green.

Watch the video here

‘Chiswick Underground’ video

A group calling themselves ‘Chiswick Underground’ has made a video which they hope will make us all more community minded this Christmas. Featuring local food banks and community projects, they ask that you watch it and share it. Watch the video here

Food Bank needs drivers

As the video says, some 18,000 people have found they have needed to resort to using Hounslow Community FoodBox in Brentford this year, twice the number of people who used them last year.

In Chiswick our nearest food banks are:

Hounslow Food Box
Brickfield Community Centre, Brickfield Close, Brentford TW8 8JN.
Tel: 07718 263614
Website: hounslowfoodbox.org.uk

Hammersmith and Fulham Food Bank
67 Studdridge Street, SW6 3TD
Phone: 0207 731 3693
Website: hammersmithfulham.foodbank.org.uk

Both need money, volunteers and food donations. Hounslow FoodBox has also recently been appealing for drivers:

‘We are in urgent need of drivers that can pick up fresh food deliveries during the week and drop into Foodbox HQ in the evenings. We struggle to get fresh food for those in need because of a shortage of drivers.’ Petrol and mileage paid.

The regular food items they require are: Tinned potatoes / Tinned meat – casseroles, corned beef, ham / Tinned Fish- tuna, salmon, sardines / Tinned vegetables- sweet corn, peas, carrots, beans / Pasta sauces- Tomato sauce / Tea / Coffee / Sugar / Cereals / Jams / Preservatives / Small cooking oil / Tinned soup / Baked beans / Rice / Flour / Tinned custard / Rice Pudding / Tinned fruit / Squash / Long life milk

Story of a remarkable war hero revealed

I have just finished reading the biography of Mike Cumberledge SOE by local author Robin Knight. Mike was a wartime hero who was killed in the German concentration camp Sachsenhausen. Though recognized for his bravery with a Distinguished Service Order and medal bar, and with the Greek Medal of Honour, his story has not had much publicity, perhaps because he disappeared at the end of the war and was forgotten because no one knew the details of his death.

Now Robin Knight has brought his story to light in the first biography of the man who as part of the Special Operations Executive served in undercover roles based in Egypt, at Alexandria, taking part in the fighting in Greece. He attempted to blow up the Corinth Canal, escaped from Crete, was wounded and returned to the island three times clandestinely. It was on his second attempt to attack the Corinth Canal (which gives access from the Gulf of Corinth to the Aegean Sea, a vital strategic link) that he was captured.

Through a combination of meticulous research and lucky breaks Robin has been able to unearth a lot more detail of Mike Cumberledge’s life, both the charmed existence of the 1930s sailing expensive yachts around the world for rich Americans, enjoying literature and writing poetry, and the high octane adventure of the war years. Crucially he has also been able to find out more about the truly awful circumstances of his imprisonment.

Read more about Mike Cumberledge in the review of Robin’s book on The This is Chiswick Pages. You can buy the book here.

Where else for Christmas booze but the local brewery?

If you want to avoid the queues in supermarkets to stock up on your Christmas booze, pop in to the shop at Fuller’s Griffin Brewery.

There’s something pleasantly Dickensian about buying your beer in the premises of a two hundred year old brewery. The brewery may be old but the shop is new, or at least it has had a major refurbishment this year.

You can tell from eavesdropping on consumers’ conversations that it clearly attracts afficionados and the enthusiasm of the customers is equalled by the cheerfulness and pride in their product of the staff.  The really good news is that you can use your Chiswick Calendar Club Card in the Brewery Shop for 10% discount.

I had the pleasure of meeting Fuller’s Head Brewer Georgina Young last week. For the past three months she’s been trying out her new Pilot Brewery, a micro-brewery which enables her to experiment with recipes, making batches of ten barrels at a time. She’s like a kid with a new toy and her enthusiasm is infectious.

Georgina is hugely respected in the brewing industry. You can read about the beers she’s currently producing and those she’s planning for next year in my interview with her on The This is Chiswick pages.

Chiswick on Evening Standard’s Christmas shopping list

The Evening Standard’s Christmas Shopping Guide singled out Chiswick High Rd as a good place to go shopping: ‘This wide tree-lined street is packed with eateries and bars for Christmas cocktails while you shop’. Our High Rd was featured in the Homes & Property section along with the trendy Broadgate Circle next to Liverpool St station and ‘homeware heaven’ Marylebone High St.

But that wan’t even the best bit. The Chiswick Calendar website got a mention in the article as a ‘dynamic local news site’ because of our A-Z guide of Christmas present ideas from local independent traders. Greige on Bedford Park Corner was picked out for its attractive Danish tin Christmas light decorations. Click here to see our A-Z guide.

The Chiswick Collection

The Chiswick Calendar has got together with interior designer Angela Corden, painter Arabella Harcourt-Cooze and photographers Anna Kunst, Jon Perry and Barbara Chandler to create a beautiful set of items which would make lovely Christmas presents or would add a little something to your own home perhaps.

We had a stall at Sunday’s Food Market at the Pavilion in Dukes Meadows. The day started inauspiciously as we’d borrowed a cheap and cheerful gazebo but, as we discovered during a rainy squall, it had come without the instructions as to how to put it up. If anyone’s looking for an idea for a leadership exercise on a management training day I recommend it.


Arabella Harcourt-Cooze placemats

On sale next Sunday at the Food Market

We’re on a promise of a more sturdy gazebo for next week, so we will be there again next Sunday (16 December) flogging our merchandise at the Pavilion, Market Drive, Chiswick W4 2RX (behind the flats opposite Chiswick School on the A316). You can of course also buy your fruit and veg, meat, fish, olives and bread for the week.


Jon Perry lampshade

On Sale Online …

You can also buy the Chiswick Collection online. Starting up an e-commerce site has been a learning process. You can opt to pay for postage and packing to have your items delivered to your door or (we have now worked out how to give you the option) you can click and collect from Greige, the homeware shop at 1 Bedford Corner, South Parade W4 1LD.

… and at Greige and Decorexi

You can also place an order for The Chiswick Collection items at two local shops where they are on display: Greige at Bedford Corner and Decorexi at 58 Chiswick High Rd, W4 1SY


The Chiswick Collection – Christmas cards

Get Your Christmas Cards Here!

The Chiswick Collection includes a beautifully presented boxed set of cards – cunningly designed with no writing in so you can use them as notelets or give them as a gift – lampshades, placemats and coasters make up the collection.

Chiswick reclaims Trump

And of course we’re selling Chiswick Loves Trump merchandise in honour of William Hogarth’s blameless little pug dog. Mugs £10. T shirt s £12 / £14 on white / black cotton. (Sizes S,M,L,XL).

Chiswick Collection online

Local views on national Brexit indecision

The postponement by Theresa May of a ‘meaningful vote’ on Brexit in parliament has met with an unusual amount of political agreement locally. Helen Cross, Liberal Democrat spokeswoman for Hounslow, who stood for Turnham Green ward in the recent local elections, said she felt a mixture of horror and massive disappointment. “It’s so uninspiring” she said “as a spectacle it is rather pathetic”… “There’s no leadership”.

Her party has been campaigning consistently and almost unanimously for a second referendum. “I come from the north of England and so does my other half. We do a lot of canvassing and meet a lot of people and I can tell you people are changing their minds. They realise they’ve been lied to. We can’t trust parliament when it’s broken down and people deserve the respect to be able to have another vote”.

Sam Hearn, leader of the Conservative group of councillors in Chiswick, believes it is not the place of local councillors to comment on national politics over which they have no influence, especially as the Conservative party is so split on the issue, but Julian Tanner, chairman of Brentford and Isleworth Conservative Association, is happy to comment.

“It has been an incredibly difficult process to get so many diverse factions to come together and coalesce around a solution and the Prime Minister has been doing her honest best. All we can hope is that the EU will see that and help to find a solution to this impasse”.

Though more willing than Helen to give his own party leader the benefit of the doubt, he agrees with the Liberal Democrats that there should be a People’s Vote. “Personally I would like the opportunity for a vote” he told me “as this is the most important decision in a generation and when the referendum took place we voted based on promises that have since been shown to be either not achievable or just not true. I believe another vote would be the most democratic step to take”.

Ruth Cadbury, Labour MP for Brentford and Isleworth, says “By cancelling the vote … the Prime Minster has just deferred her inevitable defeat on the Withdrawal Agreement vote. Listening to her answers she gave to MPs’ questions this afternoon, it’s clear she has no room to manoeuvre between the European Research Group and the EU. This is basically because leaving the EU was always going to be far harder than the Leave Campaign made out during the Referendum campaign, and it will make the UK and its people far worse off than the deal we have now as full voting members. If we can’t have a general election, we need to put the vote back to the people, with all the implications made clear, and including the option to remain”.

A rare moment of cross party agreement in Chiswick.

We wants it … my preciousssss

Meanwhile in Number 10 Downing Street … Andy Serkis, the actor who does the voice of Gollum in Lord of the Rings does a very unnerving spoof of the Prime Minister arguing with herself about her Brexit deal.

Watch the video here

Spider brings Lyric panto to a halt

A spider literally stole the limelight in Friday night’s performance of Dick Whittington at the Lyric Hammersmith. I was in row B and had a clear view of a large spider dangling from a very long thread about a foot in front of the stage at the actors’ eyeline.

Watching it wriggle around in the spotlight I was completely distracted by it. Then the actors noticed it. Luke Latchman (Dick Whittington) lost his composure and stuttered to a halt as he clocked it right in front of his face. Kesiah Joseph (Tom the cat) bounced across to try and help him out, then she too noticed it and lost the plot and it took them a little while to regain their composure. Jodie Jacobs (Bow Belles) saved the day. She marched across the stage, seized the spider’s thread between finger and thumb and escorted it off the stage to riotous applause.

The pantomime is great fun. The Lyric is celebrating ten years of panto this year and always has six young actors doing their first proper paid roles on the stage, so it’s full of youthful exuberance. Carl Mullaney (ex Arts Ed, usually to be found hosting cabaret in the Freedom Bar in Soho) steals the show as the dame, but even he is upstaged by his own fabulous costumes.

Stig of the Dump at the Tabard

If you’re looking for a bit of theatrical entertainment this Christmas look no further than Stig of the Dump at the Tabard. It’s brilliant. Clive King’s classic tale which many of us read at school tells the tale of eight year old Barney who falls over the edge of a chalk pit and meets a real live caveman.

No one will believe him but as the play goes on both his sister and the local yobs, (a realistically intimidating teenage gang, who double as cavemen later) come face to face with the sweet but very forceful Stig. Although most of the attention is on Julian Bailey-Jones and Lewis Meagor as Stig and Barney, the whole cast is very talented and there’s not a weak moment in the production. The set is fantastic.

Belgravia’s loss is our gain

The phrase ‘hidden gem’ is over used but what else do you call an Italian restaurant which is run by a chef – patron who has cooked for some of the finest restaurants in London and has been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand for his own restaurant – in our neighbourhood?

Andy Needham opened L’Amorosa at 278 King St, Hammersmith four years ago, setting up home in west London with his wife Lynne and two young children. Prior to that he had been top chef at Zafferano in Belgravia during 12 years when it not only held a Michelin star but was named by Tatler as the most consistently excellent restaurant of the decade.

In celebration of L’Amorosa’s Michelin success Andy is offering Chiswick Calendar Club Card members 25% off all bookings from 5-7pm Tuesday to Saturday or for lunch Wednesday to Saturday. Scroll down for booking details but be aware you may have to book well ahead to get a table.

Food writer Emily Manson has interviewed the consistently excellent chef for The Chiswick Calendar. Apparently it was a Yorkshire pudding which caught him his big break. Read more here.

For details of how you can use your Club Card at L’amarosa, click here.

A little bit of country living in the city

Living in London has much to recommend it but we do miss out on the outdoor life. Riding is a skill and being around horses is a pleasure that most city kids just don’t experience, as riding is an expensive hobby and riding stables are few and far between, so we are lucky in Chiswick to be in range of Ealing Riding School, run by Chiswick residents Ailean Mills and Charles Meynell.

We are delighted to welcome them into the Club Card scheme, so if riding lessons might answer one of your Christmas present quandaries, scroll down to see their Club Card offer. 

Charles is a tree surgeon and woodsman who took over the stables four years ago after the death of long term owner Geoff Edwards, who established Ealing Riding School in the 1970s. Ailean has had a very successful career in advertising and like Charles has worked all over the world, but originally from the Hebrides, she joined Charles as a co-owner and director as they are both passionate about horses.

I went to visit the busy stables and judging from the happy faces, their enthusiasm rubs off on their clients. You can read the full interview with Ailean on The This Is Chiswick pages of the website.

Public meeting on policing in Chiswick

Chiswick’s Conservative councillors have called a public meeting on policing in the area, after a recent spate of muggings near Turnham Green tube station, in which young people have been targeted for their phones.

Gary Taylor, the Deputy (Tri) Borough Commander will discuss policing from 7.30pm on Wednesday 19 December at St Michael & All Angels Church, Bath Rd. W4 1TX.

Peter Blake ‘artists proofs’ go on sale

Chiswick’s best known artist Peter Blake has donated two ‘artists proofs’ of his collage of the Empire theatre to raise money for the Chiswick Piazza project.

Abundance London, who brought us the Chiswick Timeline under the railway bridge at Turnham Green Terrace, are now looking to develop the space alongside on Chiswick Back Common into something more attractive than it is currently. 

Abundance is offering one print for sale now, with a closing date of 20 December (reserve price £750) and the other with a closing date of 31 January 2019. To bid, and to find out more about the project, visit chiswickpiazza.org

You can see Peter Blake talking about the Empire theatre montage in an interview we did with him here

Parking changes concern allotment users

Allotment holders at Dukes Meadows have expressed concern at the impact on them of the proposed introduction of parking restrictions in Dukes Meadows. The council has launched a consultation. 

Hounslow Council is proposing to create parking bays along Dan Mason Drive, where at the moment anyone using the area can stop for free. The tarffs would include Sundays, when most people go to work on their allotments.

On Twitter @HamishPringle commented that ‘the relatively infrequent major traffic problems are caused by major competitions, either on sports grounds, or the river’, not by locals using the area ordinarily.

@ChiswickHigh Rd  wrote: ‘If you use the park informally (e.g. playground, dog walking) then you definitely need to respond – otherwise the responses will favour users of the sports clubs. (Not that we’re against them, just that non-organised usage of the Meadows is very important).

To comment on the proposals go here. You have until 21 December to comment

Christmas present ideas from independent traders

Last week we introduced our A-Z of Christmas presents that you can buy from independent traders locally, with ideas of presents beginning with the letters A-M. We’ve now published N-Z on The Chiswick Calendar website (or N- Y to be truthful because we couldn’t find one beginning with Z! All ideas gratefully received.) 

X is also a bit of a cheat as it’s X for Xmas decorations, including Christmas trees. I see that Ealing Council has once again rented out a bit of grass for fly-by-night Christmas tree sellers to come in and undercut local traders. Unlike those such as Collins and Bakers fruit and veg stalls or Wheelers garden centre on Turnham Green Terrace, they’re not having to pay rent and rates all year round. So in the spirit of Small Business Saturday, here are some present ideas you can buy on Small Business Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as well.

For the animal in your life  … Chiswick Pets

L.A Menswear and Riccado have a great range of socks, shirts and ties for men. Wild Swans offers women’s wear by Scandinavian designers not known in this country, so will guarantee you an outfit that won’t be the same as someone else in the office.

Simon. who has been selling shoes at Rift in Turnham Green Terrace since 1994, has a lovely line in sheepskin slippers. 

We have a selection of vouchers from businesses in our Club Card scheme, including Neil the blacksmith, who offers one day blacksmithing courses. You may not be able to create a copper and gold leaf weather vane but you will be able to knock up a pair of fire tongs in a day. 

And for the animal in your life, Eileen and Raymond at Chiswick Pets have the answer. 

For ideas for presents starting A-M, Click here
For ideas for presents starting with N-Z, click here

Lovebox & Citadel festivals to return

Gunnersbury Estate CIC has announced that Gunnersbury Park will host the Lovebox and Citadel festivals again next year, following the success of this year’s festivals, which attracted over 100,000 people to the park.

David Bowler, Gunnersbury Estate CIC CEO said: “We are putting West London and Gunnersbury Park firmly on the map as one of London’s leading cultural destinations.”

Over the past 16 years, Lovebox has become one of the most respected and well known city festivals throughout Europe. The move to Gunnersbuty Park has been welcomed by young people who see Chiswick as a bit of a cultural black hole for their age group.

Gunnersbury Estate CIC says it is working closely with event organiser MAMA Festivals, Ealing Council and London Borough of Hounslow to ensure that residents and stakeholders are kept informed and both festivals are delivered successfully, with minimal disruption to the local community.

Lovebox will take place in Gunnersbury Park on Friday 12 July and Saturday 13 July, with Citadel following on Sunday 14 July 2019.

Chiswick Oasis reaches its target

The campaign to raise cash to build a ‘green wall’ alongside the A4 at St Mary’s RC Primary school has reached its target. The Chiswick Oasis project announced on Sunday that It has raised £75,000. The school had to raise a required amount to attract funding from the Mayor of London’s fund in order to build the wall. The aim is to absorb some of the pollution from main road. They are continuing to fund raise in order to buy eight air purifiers for the classrooms, at a cost of £4,000 each. gofundme.com/chiswickoasis

St Nick’s weather vane restored

Church weather vanes are something you rather take for granted so it was a bit of a shock when the one at St Nicholas Church at Chiswick Mall fell off a few weeks back.  The bottom mount had snapped, due to rust and fatigue and the whole thing was quite badly mangled by the fall. The frame, the flag and the figure within it were bent and twisted, as was the north / south / east / west lettering.

The church called in Neil Brown, blacksmith at the London Museum of Water and Steam, whose forge in the museum grounds is the oldest forge in continuous use in London.

Three weeks later the weather vane, with its strange figure, is as good as new. “No one seems to know much about it” says Neil, neither who the figure is supposed to be, nor how old it is. The church tower dates back to 1425 and the modern church was rebuilt in the 1880s but the weather vane is modern: “From the look of the workmanship I’d say it was 1940s at the oldest” says Neil.

Neil Brown

Re-established in its rightful position

They chose a particularly wet and windy day to put it back up, but Neil together with Lionel Hatch, Neil Melliard, Mandy Melliard and Julie Brown hoisted it back up the tower and refixed it in position yesterday.

I think you can tell from the white knuckled grip and fixed grin that he wasn’t too keen to hang around longer than he had to up there for pictures!

See Neil’s pictures of the renovation on The This Is Chiswick pages .

Hilary Benn: People’s Vote looking more likely

Senior politicians are now saying that a People’s Vote is looking increasingly possible. Theresa May said for the first time last week that the only options open to us were her Brexit deal, Brexit with no deal or no exit from the EU at all. Since then other senior figures have acknowledged that  the option of a People’s Vote has begun to look more likely, allowing the possibility that after all this we could change our minds about staying in Europe.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove told Andrew Marr on Sunday that a second Brexit referendum is now a real possibility. In his first televised appearance since negotiations in Brussels concluded, the Environment Secretary said that if MPs vote down Theresa May’s deal on 11 December, there could be a majority in parliament for a fresh public vote.

Amber Rudd said last week “I think a People’s Vote could be the result of an impasse.” Asked by ITV’s Robert Peston whether she would back that vote if it was the only alternative to leaving with no agreement, she replied: “Is that preferable to no deal? Absolutely.”

Meanwhile Chiswick resident Hilary Benn MP is gaining ground with his ‘no to no deal’ amendment.  As Chair of the Select Committee on Brexit he has been across the details of the issues involved and told BBC Radio 4 “Frankly no deal all along has been the worst possible outcome and its really important that we close that off. Because we can’t afford to fall over the edge of a cliff at the end of March.” His amendment to the 11 December vote, ruling out the no deal option, was supported by two Tories and has since gained the support of the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and Labour MPs.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the amendment had his “full support” and Jeremy Corbyn told ITV’s This Morning on Thursday that “nobody is going to allow no deal”.  

Political pundits expect the Prime Minister’s deal to be voted down but there is also a growing concensus against a no deal Brexit. Hence the impasse allowing the possibility of a People’s Vote as the only practical way forward.