Man in the Middle – Chapter 5: The Will

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intact?

If you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read
No. 1: The Letter here

No.5: The Will

Since my father died, I’ve been trying to persuade Mother to make a will. It’s been a decade long guerrilla war fought on behalf of the principles of Good Sense and Forward Planning. But I’m making no headway. She’s deep down in a trench and any attempt to parlay about the future is greeted with outright rejection.

‘No. No. No,’ she repeats, like Margaret Thatcher asked to return the British EU Rebate. ‘I do not wish to make a will. Or talk about it.’

She has many arguments for this. She pretends there’s no point in making one because she has ‘nothing to leave’. She rejects the process of making a will as ‘vulgar’ and complains that she ‘hasn’t spent ninety years counting every bean I have. I’m damned if I‘m going to start now’, like a Dowager Princess.

Wife calls this on-going farce the ‘War of the Wills’.

I suspect the real reason is she doesn’t want to confront the finality of dying or the choices which making a will imposes. Wills are not just about allocating assets; they’re about allocating affection, too. She realises writing a will is a risky business easily open to misinterpretation, which can’t be corrected. Why would she take that risk at this stage of her life?

I don’t want to force her to confront anything she doesn’t want to. But everyone – including my accountant – tells me it is the responsible thing for her to do. What they don’t know is that she is as stubborn as a silver backed gorilla. And gorilla trumps guerrilla in the war of the wills.

One day, I find her in her sitting room putting a white sticky label onto the frame of a painting. I look around the sitting room and see that everything in the room has got a white sticky label on it: tables, sofas, vases, pictures even the carpets. The flat looks like an auction house in which every object is labelled ‘Sold’.

‘What on earth are you doing?’

‘My will,’ says Mother, feverishly.

‘Putting stickers on things isn’t making a will.’

‘It’s my will and I’m doing it my way.’

I realise Mother has tagged every object everywhere in the flat with the name of one of the family. It’s so we can each see what she wants us to have when she dies. She’s been so thorough that even our family cat has a tea saucer with his name on it.

‘When did you decide to do this?’

‘I listened to a phone-in on the law of ‘Bona Vacantia’. It is an ancient law that gives the Royal family the right to take control of your things if you die without a will. It all goes to the Duchy of Cornwall. Or Lancaster. Or maybe the Queen.’

I don’t know if Bona Vacantia is real or even applies anymore. But this is not the time to correct any misunderstanding. If an irrational fear of the Royal Family getting their hands on her tea cups and cutlery gets her to make a will, then the end justifies the means.

‘We need to put all this down in a proper will, too.’

‘Yes. Yes. Whatever,’ she says still slapping stickers onto things.

The war of the wills is at an end. The gorilla has decided to surrender.

First published in Age Space

Read more blogs by James Thellusson

Read the next in the series – Chapter 6: Shopping with Mother

Read the previous one – Chapter 4: The Kettle

See all James’s Man in the Middle blogs here

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Time to make a move?

Guest blog by James Waight

Welcome to our latest Chiswick property market blog. The last three months have been eventful to say the least, we have a new Prime Minister and still no certainty on when we will be leaving the European Union. We are yet to meet any locals who are pleased with the current political situations. So if you would like to escape the chaos, don’t forget we have an International Department that can assist with your search abroad or indeed your sale.

However, most people are getting on with their lives and despite the political paralysis we have had a healthy number of transactions over the last three months. After receiving multiple bids we recently sold a house on Beverley Road achieving 98% of the asking price and exchanging contracts in under four weeks. We agreed the sale of a house on Kent Road in less than three weeks of marketing achieving 95% of the asking price.

This is testament to the desirability of Chiswick and highlights the main challenge we currently face, a shortage of houses (please help if you can). You may have seen us at the annual Chiswick House Dog Show on Sunday 22nd September, which we sponsor. Although property is our first love, dogs come in a close second place. To celebrate our love of pooches and property, we held a John D Wood stall with a ‘guess the price’ competition. The winner received a doggy hamper.

If you would like any advice on selling, buying or renting please don’t hesitate to contact us, alternatively feel free to pop into our office on Turnham Green Terrace.

Thank you!
James Waight

James Waight is Associate Director of John D Wood & Co estate agents, 68 Turnham Green Terrace, Chiswick W4 1QN. Tel: 020 8995 9394 | 07921 749 875. Email:

Photograph by Anna Kunst

October 2019 Books

What’s new and good to read this month? Annakarin Klerfalk has a look at what’s on offer and chooses three good reads for October.

The Giver of Stars

Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You sold over 14 million copies and was followed by After You and Still Me. Her new novel, The Giver of Stars, is historical and opens in 1937. Alice Wright marries a handsome American to escape her dull life in England but the small town in Kentucky proves to be equally insufferable. So when a request goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s traveling library, Alice signs up immediately.

The ladies soon become known as the Horseback Librarians of Kentucky and a classic drama of loyalty, passion and justice unfolds. The Giver of Stars is based on a true story rooted in America’s past and is both funny and heartbreaking. The Bookseller reviews it as Jojo Moyes best yet. The Giver of Stars is out on 3 October.

The Lying Room

Nicci Gerrard and her husband Sean French write together under the name Nicci French. As a couple they are known to most people as ‘the bestselling author Nicci French’. The Lying Room is a standalone thriller by the bestselling author Nicci French. In a modern London apartment, Neve Connolly looks down at a murdered man but doesn’t call the police. Instead she cleans it. Thoroughly.

Neve is a wife, a mother, and a trusted collegue. But she has made a mistake. Her mistake escalates and brings those around her into danger. She can’t tell the truth and becomes a liar and a cheat. Could she also be a murderer? Novelist and poet Sophie Hannah said “Nicci French’s sophisticated, compassionate and gripping crime novels stand head and shoulders above the competition”. The Lying Room is also published on 3 October.


Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room, is back with a contemporary novel called Akin. A retired New York professor, Noah Selvaggio, receives a phone call from social services, as his young great nephew is suddenly an orphan. Noah feels obligated and takes Michael to the French Riviera in the hopes of uncovering his own mother’s war time secrets.

Noah comes to appreciate the boy’s wit and they both find that they are more akin than they thought as they share their painful life stories and start to write a new one together. Akin has both psychological tenderness and humour, published by Picador on 3 October.

Anna Klerfalk

Anna is a literary agent based in Chiswick who is keen to hear from authors trying to get their books published. Contact her on She used to run the Waterstones bookshop in Chiswick. You can read more about her and Intersaga here

See more of Anna’s book choices here

Read about the annual Chiswick Book Festival here

Marthe Armitage – Artist and Patternmaker

Marthe Armitage, the celebrated maker of hand-crafted wallpapers who lives at Strand on the Green, has brought out a book which illustrates her development as an artist-craftswoman over some 60 years.

She studied at Chelsea Art College, but her talent wasn’t fully recognised until quite late in life when she decided to sell her designs commercially.

She now runs the business, which sells fabrics as well as papers, with her daughter Jo.

“Strand on the Green is a hard place to move away from”. Marthe came here as a child, when her parents moved across the river from Kew, and she has never left, apart from a period spent as a wartime evacuee in Oxfordshire, a spell at boarding school in her teens and a couple of years in India as a young woman when her husband was there working on an engineering project. “The river is so amazing, nobody can build on it, the tide goes up and down, there are the boats, the bird life, it’s endlessly fascinating” she told me. The river is a source of inspiration for an artist and many of her motifs include plants, birds and animals.

As a nine year old she saw houses four and five Strand on the Green being built and as a young mother she walked her three children to school At Strand on the Green school. She now lives in a modern house designed by her architect son Jeremy and his wife, and the old family house is her workshop, where she designs and produces her prints with her daughter Jo. In her book The Making of Marthe Armitage Artist and Patternmaker there is a chapter devoted to life by the river. “Strand on the Green is an oasis within the bustle of London” writes

Arts & Crafts influence

“I left a very expensive school with nothing” says Marthe, nothing that is except her School Certificate and “vague artistic leanings”. Fortunately the family’s neighbour at number five was the headmaster of the Chelsea School of Art, who encouraged her to pursue those vague artistic leanings. She studied at Chelsea but always considered herself somehow less of an artist than others she studied with. “The people I’ve always admired could only draw; that’s what they wanted to be doing all the time. I wasn’t like that”. She counts herself very lucky to have studied there and says it was “an exciting time”, but as was the custom of the era she married and wasn’t expected to pursue her own career.

As a young mother at home, with no money to spend on luxuries, she designed her first wallpaper for her own house, then some for an acquaintance and gradually built up a small but faithful clientele. Her her first design, Angelica, was produced as a simple floor print. Having observed Indian printers using block prints in the early 1950s, she experimented with her own. Inspired by the pattern making of William Morris and CFA Voysey, she found that linoleum was the perfect material for creating her printing blocks. She still uses lino in preference over other materials developed later, and still follows the same process of drawing, tracing, cutting out the pattern, inking and printing that she has all through her development as a pattern maker.

The way she works is to start with a grid of four boxes and draw her design in each, building it up bit by bit. I watched as she sketched out first a flower in each quadrant, then a swirl. Essential to do it that way, she explained, to see how the pattern flows across to borders of the grid. The drawing is key and though for a long time she undervalued herself as an artist, it is her talent at drawing, honed at Chelsea Art School, which enables her to be such a good patternmaker.

After the drawing, the print-making: ‘Then the real stuff began’ writes Jo, ‘with the smell of the turps, the stickiness of the ink and the magic of the impression left behind when the block was pulled away from the paper’.

“Drawing is very different from print” says Marthe. “The first time you take a print off it’s such a shock because you can’t tell what it will look like. Usually I think it’s a failure and put it away. But then I get it out again and I show it to someone else and I think maybe it’s alright”. The whole process from initial sketch to printing takes about two months and about one in seven designs she abandons.

Her success has come slowly, partly because she had so little faith in herself, but also because she says it’s only recently that hand crafted designs have become fashionable again. “I took one or two of my designs to interior designers in Fulham Rd but my designs weren’t fashionable”. Fortunately Hamilton Weston took an interest in her work in 2004. The showed it in their showroom and the features editor from World of Interiors wrote a feature about it. Hamilton Weston sell her wallpapers while Marthe and Jo’s own company handles the sales of fabrics.

“Pattern is not talked about enough”

“Would you prefer to be described as an artist or as a craftswoman?” I asked her “I’m an artist – patternmaker” she says. She quoted me the English philosopher RG Collingwood: “the difference between craft and art is that a craftsman knows what he’s aiming at. Artists don’t know where it’s going to end”. She first did lino cuts at school, but at art school she learned drawing and painting. “Pattern is not talked about enough” she told me. “The composition is all-important – the satisfactory balance of things”.

“Abstract art has a pattern. Music has a pattern. It’s the abstract part of figurative work. With abstract art you start from balance and rhythm and composition. There are some lovely paintings which have been very badly composed”.

Marthe is a member of the Art Workers Guild, ‘a body of more than 350 artists, craftspeople and architects working at the highest levels of excellence in their professions’. You have to be elected as a member by your peers. She is one of only four female past presidents.

She is also a born again Christian. She worships at Christ Church on Turnham Green, where you can see one of her designs etched into the glass doors of the church. One of her pieces is also permanently on show on the Chiswick Timeline mural, on the railway bridge over Turnham Green terrace.

Her book The Making of Marthe Armitage Artist and Pattenmaker is absolutely gorgeous, with far more pictures than writing, which is important in an art book. The publishers Graphical House haven’t stinted on full page, beautifully printed, very detailed designs as well as old family photographs and images of her studio. It’s available in a variety of covers – all hand blocked prints in her trademark muted colours. She would be pleased to think of it being used in art schools and hopes it might give some inspiration to young artists just starting out.

You can buy Marthe’s wallpapers from Hamilton Weston –
The book and the fabrics from Marthe Armitage Prints Ltd –

Betjeman and the Battle of Bedford Park

Image above: The Battle of Bedford Park cartoon, courtesy of the Victorian Society

By Kate Bowes of the Bedford Park Society

“We sat around John Betjeman, on the lawn, in an adoring circle,” recalled Eleanor Greeves, wife of Tom Affleck Greeves, (architect and future co-founder of the Bedford Park Society), after having tea in May 1952 at Betjeman’s house, The Mead in Wantage, brought together by a mutual friend Peter Clarke.

Betjeman (poet, writer, broadcaster and later Sir John Betjeman, Poet Laureate) was becoming a prominent advocate of Victorian architecture, then widely despised, and would be instrumental in the foundation of the Victorian Society in 1957 for its defence. Eleanor and Tom Greeves had moved to Bedford Park in 1952.

Photographs above: Tabard pub; Tom Affleck Greeves; John Betjeman

A prototype for suburbia

Betjeman saw Bedford Park as the “prototype” of the suburbia he celebrated and satirised. He wrote six months later to Clarke:

“I am thinking of little else than Bedford Park. I am going to try and get “Patmac’s” who now own the Tabard Inn, to allow me to decorate it in the Norman Shaw style”.

However, things began to move in a very different direction and Greeves, a regular at the Tabard discovered that destructive plans were about to be implemented by the owner’s architect. He contacted the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings who recommended Betjeman’s intervention but the latter’s call to the architect proved unproductive.

The following day Greeves was at the Tabard and tackled the architect, who happened to be there, over the planned removal of an original fireplace with Walter Crane tiles. The protest resulted in the more drastic plans being abandoned and the Crane and De Morgan tiles were left in place.

Photographs above: Bedford Park chimneys by Barbara Chandler –

“The most significant suburb built in the last century”

When Betjeman started a weekly architectural column in the Daily Telegraph in 1960 his article ‘Suburbs Common or Garden’ would identify Bedford Park as “the most significant suburb built in the last century, probably the most significant in the western world”. His recognition of its significance would provide a battle cry when Bedford Park came under threat.

He added that:

” It is sad… that the fences so carefully designed as part of the whole composition are dilapidated or altered. But the spirit of Bedford Park is still there and it is probably one of our most charming and important monuments; nor is its usefulness past.”

He described the Tabard as a place where “men could play the clavichord to ladies in tussore (fine silk) dresses and where supporters of William Morris could learn of early Socialism.”

Photograph above: Bedford Park architecture by Marianne Mahaffey

Need for statutory protection

At the time of Betjeman’s article, few buildings had been destroyed but in 1962 Tom Greeves was outraged when Acton Council demolished The Bramptons, a large house in Bedford Road, and built a five-storey old people’s home in yellow brick on the site. His first attempts to form a group to protect Bedford Park failed but his considerable research into the buildings of architectural interest reinforced the need to have them protected by statutory listing.

At this time, he was alerted to an article in the Acton Gazette by community activist Harry Taylor, who lived in Ramillies Road, declaring “war on Town Hall progress planners” who were “destroying the unique nature of Bedford Park with their barrack-like building and ugly developments,” and suggesting ”it is about time the Bedford Park people started a protection society like the one at Strand-on-the-Green.”

Greeves and Taylor got together and Betjeman suggested they should print some headed paper and start writing letters of protest as if the Society already existed. The first attempt to have houses listed was rejected; a sympathetic member of the then Ministry of Housing and Local Government’s listing committee described it as having “lost the battle over Bedford Park.”

Peter Clarke and Tom Greeves were inspired to design a Christmas card with an illustration representing “The Battle of Bedford Park” (after the battle of Turnham Green fought during the Civil War), depicting Betjeman and others defending Bedford Park with umbrellas and sticks. The original is kept by the Victorian Society at 1 Priory Gardens.

Photographs above: St Michael & All Angels Church, designed by Norman Shaw. Photographs by Barbara Chandler

The creation of 50 years of tradition – The Bedford Park Festival

At the first public meeting of the Bedford Park Society in May 1963 Tom became secretary and Harry vice-chairman. Betjeman accepted the invitation to be patron, saying:

“God bless you for encouraging so excellent and vital a society. Afraid I am away such a lot I cannot do more than give advice.”

Nonetheless, he made a speech at a party on 19 July 1966, held on the St Michael and All Angels’ lawn, to launch a campaign to restore the church roof, declaring:

“We are standing right in the centre of the world’s first garden suburb” and praising the Norman Shaw church. He also continued to promote Bedford Park on television.

The turning point in saving Bedford Park was the 1967 Bedford Park Festival, when the Society organised an exhibition in the vicarage to highlight the history of Bedford Park and the dangers it faced.

One visitor was a Ministry of Housing & Local Government inspector, Arthur Grogan, who was told by Betjeman, also present, “It’s scandalous that this place has not been listed.”

Grogan was so impressed by his experience that he recommended the Grade II listing of 356 buildings, including the former Stores (now offices), the Tabard Inn, the Club (now the London Buddhist Vihara), St Michael and All Angels and its Parish Hall. The Church and Tabard have since been promoted to Grade II*.

The second Bedford Park Festival in 1968 celebrated this success and Betjeman’s “message from our patron” in the programme read:

“The dogs do bark in Bedford Park,
The Festival to praise,
There’s not a flaw in Norman Shaw:
The sunflower gardens blaze.”

Photographs above: Architectural detail in Priory Gardens by Barbara Chandler

Bedford Park’s debt to Betjeman

Conservation Areas were declared by the boroughs of Ealing (1969) and Hounslow (1970), who administer the two halves of Bedford Park. These areas were expanded to take in more non-listed houses: in 2001 Hounslow implemented an Article 4(2) Direction, which gives greater protection to the non-listed buildings and, similarly, Ealing in 2008.

Bedford Park owes much to Betjeman for bringing his public fame to the “battle” and for keeping it in the public eye.

Material sourced from Betjeman: The Bonus of Laughter by Bevis Hillier and Bedford Park Society archives.

Photograph above: Bedford Park in Spring by Jon Perry – Flickr

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Bedford Park Society

See also: Bedford Park – how the first Garden Suburb came to be built

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.See also: History of Bedford Park

Chiswick couple book non-existent luxury penthouse

Chiswick couple Denise and Ian Feltham have had the story of their ruined holiday splashed across the British press.

Many newspapers carried the story yesterday of how they believed they had booked a VIP penthouse apartment with a hot tub, Turkish bath and a five-star experience in Ibiza through airbnb.

Instead of that they found that though the luxury apartment complex existed, the penthouse did not and they had to make a swift booking at an apartment 64 kilometers away.

Ian Feltham, 75, told The Times: “A gentleman who lived in the building said they get tourists turning up all the time, and that it’s a very big problem”.

Airbnb has apologised, and is investigating.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: A quiet week in Lake Wobegon

See also: Bring on the Summer Holidays

Chiswick House Gardens win a heap of awards

Chiswick House has once again won a clutch of awards in the annual London In Bloom competition.

They’ve won both Heritage Parks & Gardens of the year 2019 Gold and overall category winner, and Walled Garden of the year 2019 Gold and overall category winner, plus another five awards for the excellence of their volunteers, and even one for their allotment.

The judges said:

‘Overall, the site is exemplary and an asset to those fortunate to have it as a local green space and to those who visit from further afield.‘

Don’t we know it! Huge congratulations to Geraldine King and her team.

Photograph above by Jon Perry

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Lantern Festival returns to Chiswick House

See also: Queen Victoria at Chiswick House

Hounslow Council ‘must get rid of shares in fossil fuel companies’ says Green Party

Victoria George, the Green Party prospective parliamentary candidate for Brentford and Isleworth, used the “Quiz the Cabinet” session at Hounslow House on Tuesday 24 September 2019 to ask for Hounslow […]

Primary school pupil presents ideas for making a difference to climate change

While our parliamentarians are locked in acrimonious dispute over Brexit, the current generation of school children are in despair over the future of the planet. Eloise Durn, aged nine, who goes to Strand on the Green Junior School, was so upset by watching the BBC’s War on Plastic that she went straight to her room to research plastic waste on the internet. She presented her ideas on what she personally and other children at her school could do about it, in an assembly at the school yesterday. Her ideas are practical and easily achievable.

Specific to her school, she has asked that on trips pupils take a rucksack instead of a plastic bag and a water bottle instead of juice boxes. She has also written to the organisers of the school’s after school club to ask that instead of using disposable plastic plates and throwing them away every day, they use solid, reusable plates (which she is prepared to raise funds for) and get the children to do the washing up on a rota.

These are a few of the slides from her presentation. If you would like to invite her to come and give the full presentation to your school, email us at and we will pass on the request.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: A year of planting and art

See also: A ‘Sleeping Beauty’ hedge planted beside Chiswick School

Boris ‘reckless and un-prime ministerial’

Sonia Purnell, who lives locally and who wrote the biography of Boris Johnson Just Boris: A Tale of Blond Ambition told me she considers his use of language, using words like ‘surrender’ and ‘collaborator’ be be “incendiary, reckless and un-prime-ministerial.”

“It’s hard to imagine how a prime minister could behave worse” she said.

Sonia used to share an office with Boris in Brussels, just the two of them together, when they were both reporting on the EU for the Telegraph. She recently told Sky News:

“When he’s under pressure, when things aren’t going his way, when he thinks he’s being slighted or contained in any way, he does have this ferocious temper. The first thing you notice is that his eyes kind of narrow and his face changes colour and it it is quite an intense, quite an aggressive temper. I used to feel quite uncomfortable being a woman on my own. It wasn’t physically threatening but it was intimidating”.

Asked whether she was frightened of him she said: “I was a bit frightened of him, yes”.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: I wouldn’t marry Boris – says Conservative candidate

See also: Peter Oborne publishes website of Boris lies

‘Get Brexit done’

Seena Shah, who has just been selected as Conservative candidate for Brentford & Isleworth, voted Leave in 2016 and believes ‘we need to get Brexit done by 31 October’. When I asked her whether that meant without a deal if none had been agreed by 31st October, she said ‘yes’.

Seena, from Chelmsford, is currently at the Conservative Party Conference, where on Sunday she chaired a meeting of Conservative Young Women, of which she is the President. I asked her what did the young women at the meeting care most about? “They were passionate about being empowered to get involved in decision making” she said.

So how does she feel about the language being used in parliament – words such as the ‘surrender’ bill, ‘collaboration’ and ‘betrayal’, which women Labour MPs say actively fuel threats against them – the very opposite of ’empowering’.

“I think the language in politics over the last three and a half years has been really disappointing. But when Boris Johnson uses the word ‘surrender’ he is expressing his opinion.

“I don’t think his calling it a ‘surrender bill’ has forced people to behave in that way. What has forced them to behave in that way is parliament not respecting Brexit. They’ve been told their voice does not matter. That’s what’s pushed these people to that point, their frustration that we’ve not acted on what they voted for.

“Hate has been pedalled on both sides of the benches. It’s not just the ‘surrender bill’ rhetoric”.

She says she personally has been on the receiving end of hatred but says “I’ve had more hate from the left than I have from the far right”.

No third runway
Seena describes herself as a passionate environmentalist, telling me that at the age of 14 she campaigned for a wild flower meadow near where she lives in Essex. She is against a third runway at Heathrow, telling me “If we build a third runway, a whole generation of voters will never forgive us”. What she wants to see, she says is “a proper environmental impact assessment and proper consideration of alternative travel methods to flying” but she says she is open to persuasion on the development of new technology to make flying cleaner.

“I mis-spoke about emissions”
Seena told W4 news website “I’m quite a big environmentalist so I am very acutely aware of the air quality in the area particularly the C02 emissions and I have huge concerns about voting for something that will make life even worse”. Her statement was jumped on gleefully by prospective Green Party Candidate for Brentford & Isleworth, Victoria George.

“The Green Party is always pleased when other parties include green issues on their agenda, and so I was genuinely heartened to see that Seena Shah has reservations about the 3rd runway at Heathrow and states she is a ‘big environmentalist’. But a full grasp of the issues is important if she is to evaluate policy options correctly. Seena worries about air quality, ‘particularly the CO2 emissions.’ But the emissions that affect local air quality are NO2 (Nitrogen Dioxide) and PM10 and 2.5 (Particulate Matter), not CO2 (Carbon Dioxide). The 3rd runway would increase air pollution as a result of NO2 and PMs from the inevitable increase in road traffic to and from Heathrow. Seena wants the air ‘cleaned up’ by offsetting. There is no evidence for effective local offsetting on the scale that would be needed to neutralise local air pollution from this volume of traffic”.

When I asked her about this she fessed up straight. “I may have misspoken on that. This takes me back to chemistry at school but I do know the difference between CO2 and NO2”.

It appears the next general election campaign has already started in Brentford & Isleworth. And before anyone can criticise her for living outside the borough, she assured me she would be moving to Hounslow (where she has family) next week “just as soon as the Conservative Party conference is over”.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: I wouldn’t marry Boris – says Conservative candidate

See also: Peter Oborne publishes website of Boris lies