Plans for a Flower Market in Chiswick

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a flower market in Chiswick, once a month on a Sunday morning, to attract people here to spend money in the area?

That is one of the ideas which will be discussed at a meeting this Thursday evening at 7.30pm in the Boston Room of George IV.

The Chiswick Calendar is pleased to be part of a consortium of businesses and residents who have ideas for improving the economy of the High Road,

The problem of empty shops in the High Road is as bad as it has ever been, so we’ve been looking at ways of making Chiswick more of a ‘destination’ where people come for an experience – especially one you can Instagram – rather than purely to shop, which you can do online.

Other ideas include a vintage clothing market and an association of landlords and tenants so businesses can share information and new businesses coming in don’t get ripped off by being charge an extortionate rent higher than the market price.

The group includes Abundance London, which brought Chiswick the mural at Turnham Green Terrace, the refurbished piazza there including the ‘W4th plinth’ community art work and a variety of planting schemes in urban spaces.

It also includes commercial surveyor Ollie Saunders, surveyor Steve Nutt and landscape gardener Stefano Marinaz, all local residents and businessmen who would like to see some community action to improve the vibrancy of the High Rd.

Please come and contribute your thoughts on the subject. Click on the Book tickets button to register for a (free) ticket, just so we have an idea of numbers.

Book tickets here.

Man in the Middle – Chapter 23: Laurence Fox

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone, so she moves in with them. 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.23: Laurence Fox

My Wife and I regularly watch the police TV series ‘Lewis’. But I wouldn’t call us fans. Usually, we’ve forgotten by breakfast what we saw the night before and we often find ourselves half-way through an episode and realise we’ve already seen it.

We have a catch-phrase for this moment of déjà vu: ‘The professor. In the quod. With a signed copy of Gerald Manley Hopkins’ Collected Poems.’ The first to say it is excused a household chore of their choice the next day. It’s one of those little tropes which give meaning to marriage.

The fact we’re not really absorbed by ‘Lewis’ doesn’t undermine our commitment to the show, though. We watch it because it is one of a precious few TV shows we can easily agree to sit through together. It’s a pro forma trade deal which can be done quickly without facing any potential high-stake conflicts of interest and allows us to stay up beyond 9pm without having to acknowledge we have nothing more left to say about the day just gone or the one to come.

Laurence Fox, the actor, plays DS Hathaway in ‘Lewis’. In the series, he’s always seemed sensitive, even a forerunner of more woke men to come, but his real-life views on women and race are causing a furious furore. I haven’t followed what he has actually said, but he’s appearing on Top Gear, a programme which has always struck me as the propaganda wing of the Fossil Fuel & Patriarchy Party. So the women he’s angered may well have a point.

I’ve also heard Laurence self-identifies with broccoli. I’m not clear if this is ‘bants’ (as my kids call it) or a recognised condition (if that’s the right word) but he does have a broccoli icon on his Twitter feed. I once became obsessed with lentils, especially puy lentils, which I later realised was an early sign of my mid-life crisis brought on by early onset paunch, loss of hair and a growing sense of impending economic irrelevance. I wonder if Laurence’s identification with broccoli may have the same root causes?

I need to speak to my daughter about his views and the way he’s expressed them. She’s informed, intelligent and balanced. She will understand what the furore is all about and why he’s wrong to say he won’t date women under the age of thirty-five. She’s down from University for a job interview so tonight is the perfect the moment for me to get to grips with the issue.

When I suggest this to my Wife, she turns pale. She makes it plain to me that our marriage now hinges on me doing two simple things: first, never mentioning Laurence Fox again. Second, not asking my Daughter about his views on women the night before her job interview.

‘Are you an idiot? This man is poison to her generation. She’ll flip if you even bring his name up. She may not recover her focus in time for tomorrow’s interview.’

‘You’re right. She cried the night Donald Trump won the Presidency because it symbolised the triumph of toxic masculinity.’

‘Didn’t we all,’ she stares at me, as if I am hiding something.

‘Of course, we all did.’ I puff out my chest. ‘Which is why we must now take a stand with our daughter and women across the country.’

‘What on earth are you talking about?’ says my Wife.

‘We must follow through on our principles and boycott ‘Lewis’.’

‘Boycott ‘Lewis’? How will that help?’

‘Solidarity,’ I say.

‘But we’ve seen all nine series, already. Boycotting ‘Lewis’ is hardly a sacrifice or much of a political gesture.’

It’s not often that my wife shows even a faint flittering of panic, but her face is changing as she speaks. Something dreadful is dawning there.

‘How will we get through the evenings without ‘Lewis’?’ she asks me.

I put my arm around her.

‘Midsomer Murders. We’ve only seen eight series. That means we’ve got another 12 still to go.’

Read more blogs by James Thellusson

Read the next in the series – Chapter 24: Goop

Read the previous one – Chapter 22: Rice Pudding

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

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Life is just a bowl of cherries – not

Photographs above: Cllr Joanna Biddolph; Karen Liebreich MBE

Whatever Doris Day or Johnny Matthis might have thought, life is not always just a bowl of cherries. Certainly not for Karen Liebreich of Abundance London, who had to stand on Turnham Green on a wet and windy morning last Saturday explaining to volunteers who turned up, spade in hand,  why her widely advertised cherry tree planting was not happening.

That is to say, she told them it was cancelled, but not really why, as she herself doesn’t know. All she knows is that the leader of Chiswick’s Conservative councillors, Cllr Joanna Biddolph,  complained to Hounslow Council and demanded that it be stopped. The council’s officers were legally bound to take notice.

Photograph: Friends of Turnham Green Chair Rebecca Frayn (left) putting up a notice about the cancellation

“High-handed and anti-democratic”

In the ensuing row which erupted in social media over the weekend, the councillor has been called ‘high-handed and anti-democratic’ and residents have demanded she break her silence and explain her action.

The residents group Friends of Turnham Green decided at their AGM on 14 January that the 10 cherry trees should be planted. The vote was carried by an overwhelming majority. Hounslow parks department had signed off on it, the trees bought and paid for, but in a last minute intervention the councillor called a halt to the planting and has so far refused to explain why. So what’s gone on?

It all started back in November, when Karen met with other residents to discuss how they could work with businesses to get more trees planted in Hounslow. Everyone agrees we need more trees. Hounslow has committed just over £2.2million to be spent on ‘community led sustainability projects’ which include ‘improvements to green spaces’ and ‘tree planting’. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to plant 30million trees a year, with the Environment Secretary adding on 8 February: “Trees are vital in the fight against climate change, to tackle air pollution and help us achieve our net-zero target by 2050. But for local communities they are so much more.”

So far so good.

She discussed it with Rebecca Frayn, Chair of the Friends of Turnham Green, who have 160 members and over the past 14 years have improved the Green in a number of ways, including renewing the pathways, sowing a patch of wildflower meadow and replacing the grotty old public loos with a rockery. A few days later an anonymous donor offered £5000 for trees on Turnham Green, especially cherry trees, to fill the gaps in the existing cherry tree avenues along the paths and the edges of the Green.

Enter the members of the Landscape committee. Friends of Turnham Green have a Landscape committee, of which both Rebecca and Karen are members. Jan Hewlett, another member, expressed the view that the new trees should not overshadow the rockery or the wildflower meadow.

‘I like the cherry avenue especially in spring’ she wrote. ‘I suggest at our next AGM … we might ask people what they would like and where. Let’s try to keep up the democratic approach’.

Photograph above: avenue of cherry trees on Turnham Green – Andy Murray

Consultation with the membership

And so to the AGM on 14 January. The proposal put forward was to plant seven cherry trees along the path at the north west end of the Green and three more along the path east of the Church and parallel to the High Street. ‘However’, the minutes of the meeting record, ‘the choice of cherry trees proved controversial. Various people noted that the falling fruit causes a mess on the paths; the floor of the church hall had been stained by people who had trodden on fallen cherries’. One woman was concerned about security, with the suggestion that muggers might hide behind the trunks.

It was then put to the vote, with everyone present (28) unanimous that the donation should be used to pay for trees, and 21 people voting for the planting of cherry trees.

Consultation with the council

Karen talked to Stefania Horne, Hounslow’s Head of Parks, who was delighted that the Friends group was not only in favour, but would be providing the trees. The council runs the parks but doesn’t have the budget to do all they planting they’d like. Karen walked round the site with Dave Horgan, Parks officer, to work out exactly where they should go. Ten Prunus avium Plena were ordered, which do not fruit. Tough on the birds, but good for the church floor. She then walked round the Green again, with the council’s Events officer Sonia Ferdousi, to make sure the new trees wouldn’t impede the positioning of the funfair’s generator.

The event was organised for Saturday 15 February and widely publicised, on The Chiswick Calendar amongst other places. The council was providing a digger. Chiswick Rugby Club were putting together a team to come and help dig. A group of runners were coming. At the previous community planting event organised by Abundance London with a Friends group, 200 people turned up to help out, in a jolly community day out.

Cherrygate

On Thursday there began to be indications of trouble. Rumblings that a couple of the members of Friends of Turnham Green who had opposed the cherry tree planting but been outvoted, had collared their ward councillors to complain. Cllr Biddolph wrote to Stefania Horne, Head of Parks. She replied, explaining that every hoop had been jumped through.

Not satisfied, Cllr Biddolph escalated her complaint to the council leader Steve Curran, who passed it to the Head of Environmental Services, Wayne Stephenson. When a councillor ‘calls in’ a decision made by a council officer, they have no choice but to pause and reconsider. So they stopped the planting on Friday afternoon, too late to stop all the volunteers turning up on Saturday morning.

Photographs above: Disappointed volunteers; notice of cancellation

Why?

I wrote to Wayne to ask for an explanation. I asked how much time and expense was being wasted on reconsidering? What would happen to the trees? (which need to be planted by the end of February) and how did this fit in with the council’s environmental plan and promise to plant trees? This was the answer I received.

Cllr Samia Chaudhary, Cabinet Member for Leisure Services, said:

“Hounslow Council has ambitious plans to see thousands of trees planted across the borough. We were aware of the tree-planting event organised by the Friends of Turnham Green, and like to support community initiatives such as these which really enrich our local areas.

“However, Ward Councillor Joanna Biddolph has raised some concerns from the community and requested the planting be put on hold. Hopefully a meeting can be held to resolve these concerns as soon as possible and we will then happily support the Friends group in their efforts to plant more trees.”

I wrote to Cllr Biddolph for an explanation. She replied:

“When I have something to say please be sure that I will let you know”.

‘High-handed and anti-democratic’

On Saturday it all kicked off on social media.

Paul Campbell: ‘Why is this happening? Why is a Councillor opposing Friends Of Turnham Green and objecting to trees being planted? I think the electorate needs to know that their representative is attempting to wield their power to veto the decision of a local organisation’.

Edward Seaton: ‘If this is true it is atrocious’

Ken Munn: ‘I wonder what the rest of Chiswick’s Tories think of Biddolph’s high-handed and anti-democratic behaviour’.

The flak is not reserved only for the leader of the Conservatives.

Edward Seaton: ‘Is this Chiswick’s equivalent of Cummings and Johnson stopping ministers going on the Today Programme? It is a strategy? … Her colleagues are also pretty quiet’.

It does call into question the power a local councillor wields if they are able to overrule a majority decision made by a well-run, well-regarded and long-established community group. Councillors surely also have to be accountable. It is not good enough to trash a community event without giving any explanation. Whatever the explanation is, it had better be good when it comes.

Soccer schools to run in half term

Brentford FC Community Sports Trust will be hosting Soccer Schools during the February half term holiday. The Half Term holiday in Hounslow will run from 17 to 21 February 2020 and the Trust have activities on for the week. The Trust’s Soccer Schools will run on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday – 19, 20 and 21 February – and each day there will be activities between 9am and 4pm at GOALS Soccer Centre, in Osterley, and at Uxbridge High School.

Brentford FC Soccer Schools provide every participant fun and technical football sessions during the holiday period. Test skills on new challenges and develop core technical and social skills, whilst having a great time in a safe and fun environment. Participants can be between five and 12 years old. All coaching staff are FA qualified and have completed their Safeguarding Children, CRB and Emergency Aid certificates.

Discounts are available for buying multiple sessions in one transaction. A promotional rate of £55 for three days for one child is a big discount on the £25 per child per day rate. Full information on the Soccer Schools and how to book can be seen here.

Buzz joins in 90th birthday party

Brentford fan James Passey kicked off the new decade with a surprise visit from Brentford’s mascot Buzz at his 90th birthday on New Year’s Day. James, who has been attending Brentford matches since the 1930s, couldn’t quite believe it when Brentford’s iconic mascot walked into The Bridge Hotel in Chertsey. Growing up on Distillery Road, a quarter of a mile from Griffin Park, James started supporting Brentford from the age of eight.

His granddaughter, Kerry, believes it will be a birthday he will never forget. She said: “Buzz’s surprise visit to his 90th birthday gave my Grandad the biggest smile. He absolutely loved the surprise and everyone was talking about it after – it was definitely the highlight of his birthday.”

“I remember walking to the stadium with my dad and the sound of the fans getting louder and louder as we got nearer,” James said. “In those days they were no seats – we used to stand in the Ealing Road end. My favourite memory of Griffin Park was when Sir Stanley Matthews played at Griffin Park in a charity match – it was an incredible atmosphere that day.”

With Brentford’s new stadium set to be ready for the 2020/21 season, The Bees are using their last season at Griffin Park to commemorate fans’ favourite memories. If you would like to book a mascot package for Brentford’s last season at Griffin Park click here or contact us at matchday@brentfordfccst.com.

Premium Season Tickets sold out

With rising attendances at Griffin Park and our move to the new stadium this summer, there’s never been a better time to join the Club. Thousands of supporters have already booked their Premium Seats and Season Tickets at Brentford Community Stadium. We’re also pleased to announce that our Premium Season Tickets which include access to the Dugout, our sports bar concourse, are now sold out.

2020/21 Season Tickets are on sale to current Season Ticket Holders and will be made available to Club Members in April and to supporters on the waiting list in May. If you want to secure your place at the new stadium now, don’t forget all Bees supporters can already secure Premium Seats. Our Club Level packages range from private dining and luxury seating to a more relaxed matchday experience with a little extra comfort and a prime view of the pitch. All our Red and White package offer a great range of food and drink options with a high-backed padded seat and good legroom. Enjoy a premium experience at our new stadium from as little as £44 per match*. 

Don’t miss out, simply join our waiting list at newstadium.brentfordfc.com and a member of our team will contact you to invite you to our Reservation Centre to discuss your premium seat options. 

Register your interest now

*Price excludes the licence fee and is based on 23 home League games (plus the pre-season friendly and first three home cup matches).

Brentford Remembers 2019

At our home Sky Bet Championship game against Queens Park Rangers in January, we paid tribute to all those fans, players, and staff of Brentford Football Club who died in 2019.

#TakeYourSeats: John Huggins

John Huggins attended his first Brentford game during the 1949/1950 season. He’ll be joined at our new home by sons Stephen and David, who have our highest ticket access points for supporters over eight years.

In case you missed it, Early Bird prices at the new stadium will expire on Thursday 30 April and will not increase should we get promoted to the Premier League. It also means that current Season Ticket Holders, Members and their guests will have exclusive access to the Early Bird prices. Full prices, estimated on sale dates and more information about 2020/21 Season Tickets can be found here. You can also find the answers to frequently asked questions about 2020/21 Season Tickets in our FAQs here.

Cherry tree planting on Turnham Green

There are gaps in the avenue of cherry trees crossing Turnham Green, which provide such a magnificent display every spring.

Abundance London, in partnership with Friends of Turnham Green, will be filling in those gaps, planting 16 additional cherry trees on Saturday 15 February. They need help to do the planting. Come with a spade, wearing sensible shoes and gloves.

Saturday 15 February, from 9.00am. Just look for people standing around with spades!

Feeling sluggish?

The RHS at Wisley are looking for someone to count slugs. I kid you not.

The RHS and Newcastle University are carrying out a one-year study of slugs in gardens, which involves citizen scientists surveying their gardens and sending slugs for identification to RHS Garden Wisley. This important research project will help develop the understanding of slug species and their abundance, the impact they are having and shape advice for gardeners in the future.

They need someone, a volunteer who will be based at Wisley one day a week, ‘to assist with the day-to-day running of the experiment, particularly the receiving of slugs through the post and processing them for further scientific work’.

I assume by this point the slugs are mostly dead. Details here if, as I say, you’re feeling sluggish.

Chiswick School students seek elderly recollections 

Students from Chiswick School are looking for elderly residents to share their recollectons of the past for a creative project based on the Chiswick area. They’ll be lucky to get residents old enough to remember the days of the horse and cart shown above, but they are hoping for pre-war recollections, says Tommy Robinson, the school’s Community Arts Coordinator.

“My Nan remembered the war, but she also remembered stories she was told by her parents” he says.

He’s organised for a group of students to visit Age Concern at The Friendship Club, Oxford Road North, London W4 4DN on 27 February and 12 March, between 1.00 and 2.00pm. Spread the word to anyone in their 80’s and above who may have recollections of Chiswick, that their presence is required.

Their stories will be used as the basis for a theatrical production performed by the students in the early summer. Its working title is The Cherry Tree, after the cherry orchard that was once on the site of the modern-day secondary school.

Urban Pantry’s Kate Frobisher wins award

Owner of Urban Pantry, Kate Frobisher, was invited to the Rosewood hotel last week to be celebrated as one of the ’30 under 30′ movers and shakers in the hospitality industry. The award, from the industry’s journal CODE, marks her as a rising star. The editors wanted to showcase hospitality as a viable career path in this country.

Kate, who is 29, won first prize in the National Breakfast Of The Year Awards last year, for her Australian inspired cafe on Devonshire Rd, which she opened in 2015. The cafe has also won three Time Out London Awards.

The good news for The Chiswick Calendar’s readers is that Urban Pantry is a member of our Club Card scheme, offering subscribers 10% off food and drink.

Kate trained at Leith’s School of Food and Wine before spending a year in Sydney, where she fell in love with their breakfast culture. She is now planning to open a second cafe in east Twickenham, just by Richmond Bridge.

Extension to deadline for comments on closure of Bedford Park Surgery

I reported on Tuesday that the owner of the building which houses Bedford Park Surgery is seeking planning permission to convert the building into flats. Dr John Keen, the doctor who runs surgery in South Parade and also owns the building, is retiring from the practice. He has been a GP in Chiswick since 1988. He has applied to Ealing Council to convert the GP Surgery house into three self-contained flats with a single storey rear extension.

The Design and Access statement from architects 2PM says: ‘ It is intended that The Bedford Park Surgery will close and all patients will be allocated to nearby GP surgeries in accordance with NHS procedures’.

Images above: Bedford Park Surgery, 55 South Parade; architect’s drawing of the proposed front elevation, by architects 2PM

Local residents are concerned that if the change of use is approved, it will leave them without a nearby GP, as Chiswick Health Centre, on Fishers Lane, is also due to be demolished, with the three practices which currently occupy the space being moved to a building on Stamford Brook Avenue while it is redeveloped.

Deadline for comments extended

The notification of consultation was published on 22 January, and initially residents only had until 12 February to oppose the development.

‘Unfortunately, the Council (conveniently?) only posted the notice on lampposts, at the end of last week’ says Owen Grainger…  ‘If you object to the loss of the Doctors’ Surgery, you need to go onto Ealing Council’s Planning Department’s website and make your objection very quickly’.

Cllr Andrew Steed, a Lib Dem councillor for Southfield ward, contacted the planning office at Ealing Council to ask for an extension and Planning Officer Smruti Patel has now confirmed an extension. Residents have until 11 March to get their comments in to the planning office.

Grounds for objection

‘Objections should be on “planning grounds”. The loss of such an essential facility and purely for the financial benefit of the building’s owner, can be mentioned, as permission for the conversion of the original surgery, around the corner, in Rusthall Avenue, was the provision of 55 South Parade as a replacement surgery’ says Owen Grainger.

But Cllr Andrew Steed, a Lib Dem councillor for Southfield ward, told me as far as he was aware, the overall number of GP places available in the area was not in itself a reason for the planning officers to turn the application down. That is not what ‘planning grounds’ means.

Go here to submit your comments to Ealing Council’s planning team.

Planning permission sought to convert Bedford Park Surgery to flats

Dr John Keen, the doctor who runs Bedford Park Surgery in South Parade, has applied for planning permission to develop the building into flats. Dr Keen, who owns the building, is retiring from the practice. He has been a GP in Chiswick since 1988. He has applied to Ealing Council to convert the GP Surgery house into three self-contained flats with a single storey rear extension.

The Design and Access statement from architects 2PM says: ‘ It is intended that The Bedford Park Surgery will close and all patients will be allocated to nearby GP surgeries in accordance with NHS procedures’.

Images above: Bedford Park Surgery, 55 South Parade; architect’s drawing of the proposed front elevation, by architects 2PM

Local residents are concerned that if the change of use is approved, it will leave them without a nearby GP, as Chiswick Health Centre, on Fishers Lane, is also due to be demolished, with the three practices which currently occupy the space being moved to a building on Stamford Brook Avenue while it is redeveloped.

One day left in which to object

The notification of consultation was published on 22 January, and residents only have until Wednesday (12 February) to oppose the development.

‘Unfortunately, the Council (conveniently?) only posted the notice on lampposts, at the end of last week’ says Owen Grainger…  ‘If you object to the loss of the Doctors’ Surgery, you need to go onto Ealing Council’s Planning Department’s website and make your objection very quickly’.

‘Objections should be on “planning grounds”. The loss of such an essential facility and purely for the financial benefit of the building’s owner, can be mentioned, as permission for the conversion of the original surgery, around the corner, in Rusthall Avenue, was the provision of 55 South Parade as a replacement surgery’ says Owen.

But Cllr Andrew Steed, a Lib Dem councillor for Southfield ward, told me as far as he was aware, the overall number of GP places available in the area was not in itself a reason for the planning officers to turn the application down. That is not what ‘planning grounds’ means.

Cllr Steed has asked for a ten day extension on the deadline for comments. Check The Chiswick Calendar website news page tomorrow to see if he’s heard whether he’s been successful, but if this is something you feel strongly about, get your comments in quick.

Go here to submit your comments to Ealing Council’s planning team.

Ruth Cadbury signs anti deportation letter

Ruth Cadbury is one of more than 170 cross-party MPs who have signed a letter urging the Prime Minister to halt a flight deporting 50 people to Jamaica today. The flight may have been delayed in any case because an Appeal court judge ruled last night that not all those being deported had had proper access to legal representation.

The Home Office says they are ‘foreign criminals’ and Home Secretary Priti Patel told the House of Commons those on the flight had been convicted of “serious offences” carrying sentences of more than a year.

Among those due to be deported are several people who came here as children, among them Reshawn Davis, 30, who was convicted for robbery ten years ago and spent two months in prison. He was convicted under the “joint enterprise” rule, which has subsequently been scrapped as unjust. ‘Joint enterprise’ meant you could go to jail for just being there when someone else committed a crime. Reshawn Davis, who has had no further convictions over the past ten years, has a six month old baby with his British wife and has no family or contacts in Jamaica.

Priti Patel walked out of the chamber to cries of ‘Shame’ from MPs yesterday, as David Lammy MP asked her when the Government would publish the report on lessons learned from the Windrush scandal.

‘The Government have still not learnt the lessons of the Windrush scandal & it’s unacceptable that the Government are pushing ahead with this’ said Ruth Cadbury.

Night Czar visits Chiswick

Amy Lamé, the Mayor of London’s fabulously titled ‘Night Czar’ visited Chiswick last week to hear from a few of the residents and business people involved in the night time economy, about what support we need in Chiswick.

Chiswick has been singled out as an area which has a night time economy because we have so many restaurants. We also have a theatre and quite a healthy live entertainment culture in our pubs.
Simon Randall, who runs the Headliners Comedy Club, was invited to speak to her and her team, alongside leader of Hounslow Council Steve Curran and his team. Larry Pryce, the Jazz promoter who works with The Chiswick Calendar to run Jazz at George IV, spoke about the importance of keeping music live and local.

Fuller’s, who run many of the  pubs in the area, were represented at the meeting, which took place in George IV, a Fuller’s pub. Georgina Wald, Corporate Communications Manager at Fuller, Smith & Turner said:

“Pubs play a huge role in the night time economy and it was great to see the Night Czar showing an interest in suburban areas like Chiswick. There are some interesting thoughts about extending the night time economy – and encouraging shops to trade later too, which would help create a more balanced mix of people later in the evening. However, I think the first step to improving the night time economy – and our high streets in general – would be for the Government to complete it’s promised root and branch review of business rates. You can’t replace a great evening out with an online experience – and to start to lose the high levels of empty retail units, we need to address this digital tax imbalance to stimulate further growth.”

Karen Liebreich and I were invited to chip in our tuppence worth as residents who organise events in Chiswick. The Night Czar also visited the site of the new Chiswick Cinema, and the Italian Job pub in Devonshire Rd. She listened; her team took notes and she promised to report back. If Sadiq Khan is re-elected and the role of Night Czar continues, don’t hold your breath, but it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that there may even be a bit of economic support coming our way …

‘Suburban task force’

Ealing Central and Acton MP Rupa Huq raised concerns about the decline of London’s suburbs in a Westminster debate last week.

In her speech she touched on transport, schools, cultural heritage and planning issues that are changing the physical nature of suburbia, and asked  the Minister for Local Growth, Jake Berry for a cross-departmental nation-wide suburbs task force to be set up, which would formulate policies to improve the lot of areas on the periphery of big cities which are often forgotten, as policy initiatives focus on city centre regeneration.

She was met with positive commitments from the minister, who gave her the green light for the creation of a cross-departmental suburban taskforce to address issues faces areas at the edge of our cities.

Worried about the High Rd?

The problem of empty shops in the High Road is as bad as it has ever been. The issue of why businesses are closing down is complex: the shift in shopping habits to buying online, competition from Westfield, high rents and rates are all important factors.

The Chiswick Calendar is pleased to be part of a consortium of businesses and residents who have ideas for improving the economy of the High Road, which include a flower market, a vintage clothing market and an association of landlords and tenants. The group includes Abundance London, which brought Chiswick the mural at Turnham Green Terrace, the refurbished piazza there including the ‘W4th plinth’ community art work and a variety of planting schemes in urban spaces.

It also includes commercial surveyor Ollie Saunders, surveyor Steve Nutt and landscape gardener Stefano Marinaz, all local residents and businessmen who would like to see some community action to improve the vibrancy of the High Rd. We’re holding a public meeting to outline these proposals and invite other ideas.

Public meeting

7.30pm on Thursday 20 February in the Boston Room of George IV, 185 Chiswick High Rd.

Please come and contribute your thoughts on the subject. Click here to register for a (free) ticket, just so we have an idea of numbers.

Photograph of Chiswick High Rd by Anna Kunst – annakunstphotography.com

Chiswick Playhouse – Tryst review

Tryst is a two-handed play performed by two very accomplished actors, which is so well acted and directed, it could easily be a West End show. It’s dark, unpredictable and keeps you guessing right to the bombshell of an ending, at which point you find, to your consternation, that it’s based on a true story.

Set in Victorian England, a conman sets out to find his latest victim – a vulnerable woman with a nest egg, to marry, rob and abandon. That much is explained in the first two minutes, so I am giving nothing away here, as the conman, played by Fred Perry, makes an opening address to the audience outlining his plan and explaining his modus operandi. The play is partly dialogue and partly narrated by him.

His victim, played by Scarlett Brookes, is a shop girl, tired of living at home with her parents, and having to work in the back room of the milliner’s shop because she’s plain looking and shy. It’s painful to watch how easily she falls for his charm and patter, but as events progress it emerges that she’s not so daft. She turns out to be more feisty than he expects. Not only that but through her probing we find out that he is more vulnerable than he first seems. Both actors make their characters utterly believable and they keep up the pace with perfect timing.

I went on Friday night, Gala night, when the patrons of the newly rebranded theatre were in attendance, along with some well-known guests. Broadcaster Jeremy Vine told me the production was “great, wonderful, top notch; a suspenseful classic that left you wanting to know more”(about the real story). Good enough, he said, that it could easily be a West End production.

Jeremy’s wife and fellow broadcaster Rachel Vine said it was “very clever, the way it messes with your mind. You think ‘Oh understand what this is’ and then it changes. You think you’ve nailed it, then there’s another twist, right to the end.

Actor Phyllis Logan also thought the production was “terrific”. The actors gave “two wonderful performances. The characters’ emotions spin on a sixpence and they kept you guessing all the way”. She also praised the “very slick” direction.

Phyllis is now a patron of the theatre, a role which she is very proud to take on, she told me, as we are so fortunate to have a local theatre. Torin Douglas MBE has also been made a patron. He opened the evening by welcoming the audience with a reminder of what a rich theatre heritage there is in this area, with previous theatres, and famous actors and playwrights such as John Osborne having lived and worked in Chiswick.

Tryst, written by Karoline Leach and directed by Phoebe Barran, is on at the Chiswick Playhouse until 29 February. I urge you to go and see it. But if you do, don’t Google the story before you go!

Man in the Middle – Chapter 22: Rice Pudding

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone, so she moves in with them. 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.22: Rice Pudding

I am making a chocolate rice pudding when my Mother asks me if I plan to poison her. She’s crept up next to me at the stove and is pointing at the rice pudding with a wooden spoon.

‘Not yet,’ I say, ‘though if you start stirring the pudding while I am trying to mix the rice with the melted butter and sugar, I can’t guarantee anything.’ I get very anxious whenever anyone stands close to me while I am cooking.

‘Don’t you remember it was rice pudding that did for your father?’ she says.

She’s right. Rice pudding did kill my father. A grain or two of milk sodden rice slipped past his trachea and blossomed into clostridium difficile, the super bug. The doctors sucked on his lungs and pricked him full of antibiotics, but he was old and frail.  After a few days the bug shut him down.

A year or so before, he had been diagnosed with throat cancer. He survived the operation but the muscles in his throat were so weak afterwards that he never ate solid food again.

My father loved cooking and eating. If he were still alive, he would self-identify as both a gourmet and a gourmand. So, this final year of dining on mashed foods and semi-liquid puddings was probably as humiliating as any of the other indignities he had to bear during that time: unable to dress, unable to walk and wearing diapers.

I don’t know how to answer my mother’s question, so I pour a glass of Cointreau and a handful of white chocolate chips into the pot and keep stirring.

‘It wasn’t the way he’d have chosen to go. He never liked sweet things or desserts. If he’d had a choice, he would have rather choked on a boeuf bourguignon or something classically French.’

This could be a joke or a statement of fact. It is perfectly possible my foodie father would have spent most of his final year lying on his bed thinking about his last meal, like many a condemned man before him.  But the question which has grabbed me is not what my father would have preferred choked on but why has my Mother asked me if I am planning to kill her? I haven’t studied Freud, but everyone knows there’s no such thing as an innocent joke. Could it be making a chocolate rice pudding is actually a subliminal act of aggression, even something Oedipal?

‘I think he’d have chosen cheese. Roquefort and French bread,’ I say, deciding to let Oedipus go and follow the flow of my Mother’s macabre conversation.

‘Snails swimming in garlic and butter,’ says my Mother, jauntily.

‘Both. With steak frites in between. A three-course meal was the least he deserved, ‘I say. We’re both smiling at the thought.

‘I remember a Roald Dahl story in which a woman murders her husband with a frozen leg of lamb and then eats the lamb to destroy the evidence,’ says my Wife, coming at the conversation from a different angle, but one I can’t help feel is equally laden with Freudian menace only for me.

‘Meat is murder,’ says my vegetarian Son, chipping in.

‘If I were going to murder Granny, I would probably use old eggs under cooked. Or lightly cooked sprouts, which are a breeding ground for bacteria. I was reading about them the other day,’ I say cheerfully.

The conversation stops. The room fills with silence. The rice pudding pops. I’ve gone one step beyond.

‘How does the pudding look,’ says my Wife, after a short while.

‘Not bad,’ says my Mother. ‘His father would have been proud of him. It looks better than the stuff I used to give him out of a tin.’

Read more blogs by James Thellusson

Read the next in the series – Chapter 23: Laurence Fox

Read the previous one – Chapter 21: New Year’s Resolutions

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

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The Chiswick Calendar freebie – winner

Who won our competition for a meal for two at Little Bird cocktail lounge and restaurant, opposite Chiswick rail station?

Ailsa Sheldon  @ailsasheldon

Congratulations to Ailsa, who wins a meal for two up to the value of £80.

All you had to do was to:

1. Follow @thechiswickcalendar and @littlebirdrestaurant on Instagram
2. Like our Giveaway! post on Instagram
3. Tag a friend you could share the offer with⠀

The giveaway closed last Thursday – but we will be having another one soon for a meal for two at Annie’s restaurant. Watch this space, as they say…

Little Bird Chiswick
1 Station Parade, Burlington Lane, Chiswick, London W4 3HD

littlebirdrestaurants.com

Pub in the Park 2020 tickets go on sale

Tickets have gone on sale for Pub in the Park 2020, in the grounds of Chiswick House 4-6 September.

The popular food and music festival is returning to Chiswick for a second year, hosted by Master Chef judge Marcus Wareing, with Basement Jaxx playing on the Friday night, The Feeling and Kaiser Chiefs on Saturday; Marc Almond and Reef on Sunday afternoon.

Music

Basement Jaxx duo Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe are regular transatlantic club chart-toppers and won the BRIT Award for Best Dance Act in 2002 and 2004. Their Friday night DJ set won’t be their first performance in Chiswick. They played here before at Chiswick House in the summer of 2012.

The Feeling, playing on Saturday afternoon, have toured the world and made five studio albums together. Currently working on their sixth album for release this year. Over the last decade ‘so many incredible experiences’ included playing at Wembley stadium for the Diana tribute concert and playing the pyramid stage at Glastonbury festival.

Kaiser Chiefs, playing on Saturday night, had a new album out in 2019: Duck, their seventh album. They have become one of Britain’s most successful bands, with hits such as ‘Oh My God’, ‘I Predict A Riot’, ‘Everyday I Love You Less And Less’, ‘Ruby’ and ‘Never Miss A Beat’ having achieved the status of ‘anthems’.

Marc Almond, playing on Sunday afternoon, also has a new album out: Chaos And A Dancing Star, released on 31 January 2020. His career, spanning over four decades, started with Soft Cell in the early eighties, best known for the 1981 hit Tainted Love. He embarked on his solo career in 1984 when they disbanded and has sold over 30 million records worldwide.

Reef, also playing on Sunday afternoon, have a huge following from their long career, with five studio albums so far and many years of touring the world. They achieved commercial success in the mid-nineties when they toured with Paul Weller and The Rolling Stones. In the last couple of years they have been touring the UK promoting their fifth album, Revelation.

Images above: Kaiser Chiefs: Basement Jaxx

Food

Tom Kerridge is the driving force behind Pub in the Park. The Michelin-starred chef is best known for his pub in Marlow, The Hand & Flowers – the only pub in the UK with two Michelin stars. He is currently presenting a BBC 2 series Lose Weight and Get Fit with Tom Kerridge.

He has established Pub in the Park as a touring festival of good food and live music. The 2020 tour starts in Marlow in May, continues through Chichester, Warwick, Bath, Dulwich and Tunbridge Wells, before reaching Chiswick in early September and ending in St Albans.

Images above: Marcus Wareing; Charlotte Nicholson

Tom and his chef mates have put together a programme featuring some of the biggest names in food and music. At each venue, there will be ‘Michelin-starred and award-winning pubs and restaurants serving tasting dishes showing their signature style … chef demonstrations, top quality shopping and other festival fun’.

In Chiswick the ‘Pop-up pubs’ include: The Hand & Flowers, Atul Kochhar’s VaasuThe Star InnJosé PizzaroThe WigmoreTredwellsSaborCornerstoneClaude Bosi and Rick Stein.

The chefs taking part include Marcus WareingAtul KochharAndrew PernJose PizzaroChris KingChantelle NicholsonNieves BarraganTom Brown and Claude Bosi.

 

 

Kaiser Chiefs & Basement Jaxx headline Pub in the Park, Chiswick

Tom Kerridge’s touring food and music festival Pub in the Park has announced their music line up for September.

Playing in Chiswick, in the grounds of Chiswick House, will be the Kaiser Chiefs, Basement Jaxx, Marc Almond, The Feeling and Reef.

The weekend- long event, from 4-6 September will be hosted by Marcus Wareing, one of the most respected and acclaimed chefs and restaurateurs in Britain.

Over the last 30 years, he has been involved in the creation of some of London’s most celebrated restaurants, including Marcus at the Berkeley, The Gilbert Scott and Tredwells.  

Danny Mac opens in Pretty Woman

The London premiere of Pretty Woman: The Musical opens on 14 February at the Picadilly theatre, with Danny Mac in the lead role, opposite Aimee Atkinson.

Danny graduated at the ArtsEd, graduating in 2009, and has gone on to perform in musicals such as Wicked and Sunset Boulevard and most recently in White Christmas.

Come From Away

But if you only see one thing at the theatre this year, make it Come from Away. On the face of it an odd choice for a musical – the people of a small town in Newfoundland find themselves swamped with travellers from all over the world when their planes are diverted on 9/11 – it is hugely entertaining and uplifting, and has won a stack of awards. I loved it.

The Chiswick Calendar freebie

Fancy winning a meal for two at Little Bird?

For your chance to win simply enter our Instagram competition…⠀

1. Follow @thechiswickcalendar and @littlebirdrestaurant on Instagram
2. Like our Giveaway! post on Instagram
3. Tag a friend you could share the offer with⠀

Giveaway closes Thursday 6 February at 23.59 GMT. The Winner will be drawn on Friday 7 February and notified on Instagram, and in next week’s newsletter.

The voucher entitles the winner to a meal for two up to the value of £80, to be used within a three month period any time Monday – Friday. (UK residents only – This contest is not affiliated with Instagram).⠀

Good luck and get tagging!⠀

#W4 #Chiswick #London #LondonLife #Giveaway #Competition #Offer #Win #Restaurant #Bar #GoodLuck

Valentine’s Day specials

Do people still celebrate Valentine’s day? Yes they do says Spencer Wheeler, owner of Wheelers Garden Centre and the flower stall by Turnham Green tube station.

Do they still buy red roses? ‘100%’ he says. It’s red roses all the way. We’re a conservative bunch when it comes to showing our affections.

Since romance is not dead, we’ve put together a little guide of which restaurants in Chiswick are making a special effort for Valentine’s day, which this year falls on a Friday.

Annie’s will be serving a special three course seasonal Valentine’s menu on 14 February for £45.

Casa Dino is doing the same for £47, and including a complementary Bellini on arrival.

One Over the Ait is offering a sharer steak platter (though that could be a disaster if your partner is not one who likes to share their food!) They’re also offering a 50% discount on the wine.

All of these places are members of The Chiswick Calendar Club Card scheme. Have a look at what’s on offer here.

New initiative to get girls active

There is an ‘epidemic’ of childhood inactivity, according to the World Health Organisation, which says that children’s health is being damaged as well as their brain development and social skills.

Girls come off worse than boys, with 85% of girls taking too little physical exercise, compared with 78% boys.

Brentford Football Club’s Community Sports Trust has joined 13 professional football clubs to tackle physical inactivity of girls in disadvantaged areas across London.

Funded by The London Marathon Charitable Trust, Brentford will join the likes of Arsenal, Crystal Palace and Chelsea to encourage 5,000 inactive girls and young women to participate in football and physical activity sessions.

Read the full story on here.

Strand on the Green residents unhappy with Bell & Crown’s glass box

Strand on the Green’s residents association (SOGA) is asking local residents to write to Hounslow Council and complain about the way in which the pub has glassed its outside seating area.

The association complained about the addition of the conservatory and Fuller’s is now having to seek retrospective planning permission.

‘There is now a chance to have this removed, but that is reliant upon objections being received by the Planners at Hounslow Council’ writes Residents Association chairman Richard Griffith.

Residents who have complained about it say it’s ‘unsightly’ and ‘uncharacteristic of the Strand on the Green Conservation Area’.

Not in the EU but still in Europe

So we left the EU, after all that. I didn’t see much celebration in Chiswick.

I was taken by the words of German born Friedrich Ernst, who spoke to the Times:

‘I am so upset. I have been upset for more than three years. I have lived for 27 years in this country and I have done so much for it – I have been a school governor, a member of the neighbourhood watch and joined my local park friends’ group. I am a Londoner but I no longer feel like one’.

I hope anyone in Chiswick who comes from continental Europe knows that as far as Chiswick is concerned nothing has changed in terms of the way British born locals feel about our fellow Europeans. Chiswick voted 70% Remain.

Most people in London come from somewhere else. That’s the joy of it! People come here to be designers and software engineers, bankers and bar staff and we value the contribution they have made and continue to make.

The most obvious benefit to Chiswick has been the growth of our cafe society, largely influenced by continental Europe. Remember what food in pubs and cafes was like in 1973?!

Have a look at our European Chiswick guide here. If you feel the need for comfort eating, there are plenty of choices of homemade fresh pasta, Polish pancakes, tapas style sharing platters and haute cuisine.

February 2020 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 February.

Saving Missy

Readers who loved Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine should definitely pick up Saving Missy, written by Beth Morrey. Missy Carmichael is 79 and lonely. Her husband died not that long ago and she is pottering around her big house in Stoke Newington. She blames herself for her own lonliness; her daughter is distant and her son and grandson have emigrated to Australia. An unexpected friendship with a single mum opens a new door for Missy. Is her life about to change?

Nina Stibbe praised it and said “Bittersweet, tender, thoughtful and uplifting. Reminds you that everyone deserves a second chance. I loved it.” Saving Missy is HarperCollins’ biggest debut for 2020 and it’s out on 6 February.

Little Friends

From Jane Shemilt, the bestselling author of Daughter, comes another stunning suspense thriller called Little Friends. Three families are brought together by their children’s friendships. But despite barbeques, dinner parties and a holiday in Greece, their marriages are over. Their resentment leads to an affair and they lose track of their children. Then a tragedy strikes. The couples revert to parenthood and realise what they have done.

Ebook bestselling author Suzy K Quinn reviewed it as: “Extremely clever, readable and elegant…perfect for fans of Big Little Lies. Domenstic noir at its best.” Little Friends is published by Michael Joseph on 20 February.

Grown Ups

Grown Ups is Marian Keyes’ 14th novel. Her debut, Watermelon, was a huge hit and all her following novels have been equally loved. The Caseys are a glamourous family; Johnny Casey, his two brothers, their wives and all their children spend a lot of time together. On the outside, all appears well and happy. But under the surface lurk personality clashes and infatuations, and when Ed’s wife Cara gets concussion, all the secrets are about to leak out. Is it perhaps finally time to Grow Up?

Graham Norton said its “Magnificently messy lives, brilliantly untangled. Funny, tender and completely absorbing!” Grown Ups is published by Michael Joseph on 6 February.

Annakarin 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 anna@intersaga.co.uk. She used to run the Waterstones bookshop in Chiswick. You can read more about her and Intersaga here.

intersaga.co.uk

See more of Anna’s book choices here

Read about the annual Chiswick Book Festival here