LB Ealing launches Ealing Together

LB Ealing has launched ‘Ealing Together’, joining forces with charities, local groups, businesses and concerned residents to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Councillor Jasbir Anand, cabinet member for business and community services, launched the new coaltion saying:

“Ealing’s community is its greatest strength and across the borough, people are standing together to help our most vulnerable residents. Ealing Together is designed to support the good work already going on in the borough and plays a vital role for the whole community in the recovery phase.

“We know that this is a really difficult time for everyone and there are lots of different things many workers are worried about, including the very basics such as feeding their families or paying their rent. Through Ealing Together we are committed to supporting initiatives that help our businesses and communities through this crisis.

Behind the Ealing Together website is a dedicated team that will put the people who want to help others, and people who qualify for help, in touch with appropriate local organisations.

“We know that some businesses will have food and time-limited stock that they are no longer able to sell through dropping demand.  We are encouraging businesses to get in touch with Ealing Together to see if they can offer vital supplies, volunteer their time, give cash donations to local charities or support in another way.

“We have already had hundreds of contacts from the community who need our help for either themselves, or someone else they know who is isolated and struggling. As you are aware, this is a rapidly evolving situation and the council is working with businesses and wider community in many different ways to manage services, meet emerging local needs and protect the vulnerable. I’d ask that businesses in the borough visit the Ealing Together website to see how they can help”.

If you would like to volunteer to help, sign up here: Working together for Ealing

Owners of the Roebuck go into administration

The owners of the Roebuck pub in Chiswick High Rd, Food & Fuel, have gone into administration. Its future now looks very uncertain as 250 staff at the company are made redundant and the owners look for a new buyer at the worst possible time.

The Steam Packet, which opened last summer at Strand on the Green, is in the same group, but ok for the moment, as it was a later addition to the group and is owned by its parent company, The Restaurant Group, one of the biggest names in the hospitality business.

Operations manager Ian Slater told The Chiswick Calendar: “The Roebuck is a great pub. It’s an awesome pub. I hope a business of that calibre and location will be picked up by someone, even in these uncertain times”.

Regular patron James Thellusson said: “I’m gutted. Friday nights will never be the same. It was my second home”.

Hammersmith & Fulham reopen parks

LB Hammersmith & Fulham have decided to reopen their parks from 2.00pm today (Friday 27 March). Playgrounds will remain closed.

The council decided to shut the parks last Sunday after London was full of people out enjoying the spring sunshine over the weekend, ignoring Government advice on social distancing. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan urged people to “stop social mixing”, saying “people will die” if they don’t.

Since then, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that people must stay inside, leaving home only to buy food and medicine, to exercise once a day and to travel to and from essential work. Emergency laws have been passed by parliament this week, giving the police the power to enforce social distancing.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove gave a press conference today in which he said there had been a dramatic fall this week in the numbers of people using public transport, and that the “overwhelming majority” of people are now following the lockdown rules.

There has been quite a lot of criticism from the public during the week that with big parks such as Ravenscourt park closed, there is nowhere for the public to go to take exercise. Announcing the change today, leader of Hammersmith & Fulham council Steve Cowan said:

“Last weekend, despite the best efforts of parks police, the COVID-19 contagion was potentially being passed on by people socialising in Hammersmith & Fulham’s parks. Because of that public health threat to many thousands of our residents, the parks were closed on Sunday night.

“Yesterday the government’s new emergency laws came into force which introduce a series of restrictions on people’s movement and gatherings and give the police new powers to enforce the new laws. Apart from the once-daily exercise, people are now obliged to stay in their homes and only leave for exceptional reasons.

“Because these new laws will enforce the social distancing regime, backed up by our highly-visible public information campaign, our parks can now re-open and will do so from 2pm today. This will be on a trial basis.”

Hounslow launches Community Hub

Hounslow Council has launched its Community Support Hub to match the army of people locally who are willing to do something to help with the most isolated and vulnerable individuals who need support.

“The Hounslow Community Hub is here to harness that fantastic community spirit, connect people with each other and ensure food, medical supplies and other support reaches those most in need” says Steve Curran.

“Thank you for wanting to help out – it’s through generous people, businesses and organisations like you that we’ll make sure Hounslow’s most vulnerable are looked after”.

To volunteer to help, fill out the online form here.

Who is the Hub for?

If you or someone you know has been contacted by the NHS as being classed as at serious risk, please contact the Community Hub and the Council will support you – call 020 7084 9697 or email They are also reaching out to these people themselves, as the NHS updates them on who they are.

Please also contact the Hub if you or someone you know are isolated and vulnerable and have no other support, and you’re not sure if the NHS has been in contact.

The Phoney war

Image above: Flowers outside Strand on the Green school – photograph by Jennifer Griffiths

It was lovely to hear the sound of clapping all over Chiswick last night as people came out of their houses to applaud the staff of the NHS. There’s a real war going on on hospitals, with exhausted medical staff already at full stretch in some places, but for many of us who are able to work at home, this must feel very much like the phoney war did, when Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany in September 1939. British people expected bombing raids immediately, but nothing much happened for eight months.

I’m beginning to know people who know people who are intensive care, confirmed Covid-19 cases, and plenty of people who think they might have it mildly. Nobody’s sure because the testing isn’t available.

Street by street mobilisation

For now, unless you work in public services, NHS staff, supermarket staff, transport workers (hats off to you, thank you), I’m guessing most people in Chiswick are able to work from home, are working less or are not working at all. The sun is out, a lot of us are lucky enough to have gardens and the full medical and economic impact hasn’t yet hit. I find it comforting that people have been using their time productively to think how they can help others. Street WhatsApp groups have sprung up, with the administrators organising leafleting door to door so people who aren’t tech savvy are included. 

Chiswick’s Covid-19 Mutual Aid Facebook group acts as an umbrella for many of these groups, sharing information. More than 900 people have joined it in the past couple of weeks. The woman who initiated it, Philippa Griffin, told me they are very careful about safegaurding, aware that ‘volunteers’ may not all be benign. They don’t give out members’ details, but are able to put people in need in touch with people willing to help.

Find the Facebook group here.
Offer your support here.

Images above: Rev Thomas Couper; St Michael & All Angels Church

The churches have been quietly organising. Each of the five Church of England parishes which cover Chiswick has a small group of volunteers and are getting in touch with the elderly and isolated they know about, checking on them. Rev Thomas Couper from St Michael & All Angels told me they haven’t had many calls for help yet, as neighbours are looking out for each other, and little local help groups are springing up.

Nextdoor is also really coming in to its own. The ‘hyperlocal social networking service’ was set up in San Francisco in 2008 and is currently available in 11 countries. You can opt to join just your immediate local neighbourhood group or set the radius wider. Until now it’s been a useful way to get recommendations of local builders and advertise that your cat’s gone missing,
Now it’s full of messages like:

‘We went shopping at M&S in Kew Retail park at 5pm yesterday. No queues, easy to distance yourself from most people and plenty of stock except for eggs and flour’.

It also documents the low level guerilla war going on between runners, cyclists and dog walkers – but that’s another story…

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Lockdown – Things to do

See also: Covid-19 Help & Information – The Chiswick Calendar directory of where to get help

Answering the call

Images above: Grove Park surgery; Dr Sheila Hunt

Sheila Hunt must have dealt with thousands of patients over the years. She set up Grove Park Surgery in 1988 and retired in 2017, so is forever saying hello to people as she goes about her business in Chiswick (although a good proportion of those who’ve seen her and nodded have actually befriended someone else, as she has an identical twin sister).

She taken up art in retirement and is the treasurer of Chiswick Choir, who had their first ‘virtual rehearsal’ this week, with mixed success. She has also signed up for a 5k charity run, having never been a runner in her life before. She knows it will be cancelled, but is using her one opportunity per day to take exercise, to persevere with the training regardless.

Now she’s waiting to hear what contribution she will make to the Coronavirus emergency, as she is one of the many retired medical staff who have answered the call to help our in this national crisis.

“Most people who go into medicine want to make a positive difference” she told me. “That feeling doesn’t go away when you retire”.

Many of her peer group with whom she trained are also volunteering, and like Sheila are waiting to be told what to do next. When you apply to the General Medical Council (GMC) you are given the option of working directly with patients, or you can choose to non face to face work. She’s opted for the latter.

“There’s no point in going in and adding to the list of people who are sick” she says pragmatically.

The GMC has been waiting on the emergency legislation going through parliament to re-license former doctors. As soon as it becomes law (very shortly) retired doctors will automatically be re-licenced unless they have specifically opted out. You’d think after 30 years she would have absolute confidence in her ability, but she is slightly apprehensive.

“Telephone triage requires a very particular set of skills” she says. “When you meet a patient face to face they provide other clues you can work with”.

Having been her patient I’d be mightily relieved if I got through to Sheila for triaging, but with typical modesty she says “I have been out of it for a bit and doctors aren’t particularly good at tick lists”.

Her son is also a doctor and she is deeply concerned about the lack of protection for medical staff, which she says is “totally inadequate” in both GP surgeries and hospitals.

“The Government has had time to ramp up provision for both testing and personal protective equipment. They’re not testing anyone unless they’re admitted. The personal protective equipment is inadequate. It’s appalling. The Government should have done more testing much more quickly. They should have looked at what was happening in China and South Korea and reacted much more quickly. South Korea has had relatively few cases because they did widespread testing, they quarantined and traced contacts”.



Chiswick Confined – My Corona Blog Week 1

Keith Richards, writer and resident of Chiswick, living on his own, has started writing a diary of his Corona lock down. Beginning on 24 March, he’s documenting the experience from his last pint in a pub onwards. Here are his first two blogs from this week.

Day 1: 24 March 2020

So, like most of you I am stuck at home – or at least we are supposed to be – since BoJo’s announcement of a semi-lock down yesterday evening.  Or, if you are a Nigerian reader currently in Nigeria, you will likely be learning about the whole social distancing phenomena and wonder how you can apply it to a ‘face me, face you’ society (though probably not from your local pastor or iman – more rants about them later). If you are reading this from my sister Anne’s community around La Herradura in Spanish Andalucía this may also provide you with some balance away from the more sensationalist British media. I do not want to utter those words “I am bored”, because I have so many things I could and should be doing but, as is all too often the case, replacement activity is far too distracting and, yes, blogging counts as a replacement activity.

Even so, this is an interesting and, I guess, historically and social-behaviourally (is that a thing?) important time and worth documenting (along with the millions already doing it). This will be the record of my time here in Chiswick, West London: how I cope and what I see round about me.  For the record I am a 66 year old male and since yesterday afternoon living alone. George, my 26 year old son, was with me but as of yesterday is staying with his Mother, Pauline. That makes sense as he can continue with his University projects while helping out in her garden or walking the dogs – Fortnum, Bentley and Willow. Oldest son Tom is living and working down in Bristol. I am a social animal so like so many of us – you – it is going to be interesting to see how we cope with social distancing, solitude, maybe loneliness, in emotional, psychological as well as physical terms. My normal day would be to leave the flat, just off Chiswick High Rd, at least twice a day, ostensibly to do daily shopping but inevitably to stop in one of my regular cafés/coffee shops either on my own or to meet up with the many friends that live locally.  In the evening the walk would often end up in my local boozer, The Raven by Stamford Brook tube.  I might take a book and sit quietly on my own to read or I might equally stay at the bar and chat with one of the fellow regulars I have got to know.  Reading quietly alone in my favourite café or pub is still a social activity because I am surrounded, can observe and have the choice to engage with the people around me. Clearly, all that has now changed!  Nevertheless, current guidelines are that we are allowed to walk out for necessary shopping and to take exercise and while that is still possible – because the shops are still open, the regulations still allow it and I am still free of symptoms – I intend to utilize that option – as I did today.

Up until BoJo’s announcement and despite his repeated ‘requests’ and ‘soft warnings’ Chiswick had been recognisable as itself. Clearly quieter than normal with pubs, cafes and restaurants closed for sitting in but mostly offering deliveries and take-aways but nevertheless busy enough to make physical distancing tricky. For example, the queues in some shops were standing a couple of metres apart but others were too crowded or badly organised. Today (Tuesday) I popped out around 1 pm as I wanted to buy bread and post a book.  ( A Swedish PhD student has asked me for his studies!) There were very few people around, visibly less than the weekend.  The pharmacy where last week I queued for 30 minutes was completely empty. Most non- essential shops were shut and had signs of varying quality and clarity taped to the inside of their doors.  Obviously the many High Road Cafes were shut though some had tables outside selling their wares for carrying away and others had notices on how to order take-aways and whether they did direct deliveries. There were a few Deliveroo riders lolling around on their bikes in the weak sunshine though I imagine they would be busy later in the evening.  It was a somehow ‘discombobulating’ experience to see the popular trendy places such as High Road House, normally always busy, so eerily silent.  The few walkers were pretty focused on keeping a couple of metres apart as they passed and quite a few had masks.

So, I had two chores and they exhibited the best and worst of how traders are reacting to the challenges. As I approached the Post Office (on Heathfield Terrace) I could see a couple of people in front of a clearly shut door, straining to make sense of a square of white paper crookedly stuck on it. I kept my social distance until I too could approach the door and attempt to read, let alone understand the scruffy and tiny notice. Despite the website saying the Post Office was open with normal hours the notice was clearly saying it would only be open part-time. But what hours?  I leave you to see if you can read it? Apart from being in a twelve if not ten point font the times have been badly scribbled over so as to be illegible. While I was there a pensioner came over and was visibly distressed and had her face just a few inches as she tried to understand. When I explained and offered to help she wandered off muttering. Many pensioners still collect their pensions and allowances in cash from this Post Office and that notice was thoughtless and unhelpful. I have no problem with them reducing hours or taking steps to protect their staff but they need to communicate clearly. I already have a low opinion of the service from this Post Office and this confirmed it but several in the vicinity have now closed and my only alternative is down into Hammersmith’s King St.

At the other end of the efficiency scale was my experience at Source – the slightly hippy, plastic free, eco shop where I re-fill various containers of product as diverse as porridge oats, olive oil and washing up liquid. This trip was for dried nettle leaves (a pleasant tea and a herbal anti-hay fever remedy – with thanks to Dhill for the recommendation) and my evening treat (if I am not allowed down the pub I need a reward) of broken slabs of various dark chocolate (in this case with a hint of sea salt). In contrast to the Post Office, Source had their act together. A sign saying they were allowing 5 people at a time in the shop with a member of staff enforcing a ‘one in, one out’ system with a squirt of hand sanitizer as you go in.  That’s the way to do it!  I felt like they knew what they were doing and actually gave a shit about their staff (and their customers) so credit to them.

One of the themes of this blog will be that we all need to remember those traders and services who did give a shit during the crisis and give them our patronage afterwards. Those that are not looking after their staff, that price gouge and take advantage should be boycotted thereafter.

So, I think that is enough for my first ‘Corona Blog’ – I suspect this will be a long season, assuming I have the energy and someone somewhere actually reads it.

Please stay safe. More tomorrow.

Day 2: 25 March 2020

So, yesterday after starting this blog I went down the pub.  “How dare you do that?” “That’s irresponsible!” I hear you say.

Well, those that know me at all will also know that my local is the excellent Raven run by landlord Dave Finan and his team. When all this is over do drop in – it’s just opposite Stamford Brook tube. I knew that they were struggling when he told that me on his usual heaving St Patrick’s Day (17 March) they had about 30% of their normal Paddy’s Day volume – and that’s a lot of pints of the Black Stuff left un-drunk. On Friday 20 the sun came out so George and I took ourselves for a riverside walk along Chiswick Mall.  On our way back we just thought if the Raven was not too busy we could pop in for a sensible socially distanced pint.  At the very moment we walked in the few locals that were there were glued to the TV screen and Dave did a ‘ssshhhhhh’ from behind the bar with a finger to his lips.  It was the actual BoJo announcement that Pubs and Restaurants were to shut from that evening.  We felt for a glum looking Dave with a cellar full of un-drunk pints and a kitchen full of food ready for the weekend, so were morally forced to stay – duly distanced from the other regulars who we conversed with from afar – and consume several of those pints and eat what food we could. Which brings me to the point – why I went down the pub yesterday. The answer was to collect some eggs! Dave had messaged several of his locals to say he had so many eggs that would go to waste so we were welcome to pop down and pick up a few. So I did – and I sho

uld point out that he came out and gave them to me outside the pub and I was not allowed to sneak in for a quick one. I look forward to an omelette over the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, having deciphered the rubbish Post Office signage I took myself down this morning to catch it before it shut at 12 (or was that 12.30- who knows?) Well, today they did have a proper sign outside (was that because I tweeted a copy of the photo to the @PostOffice twitter feed?) but they also had a queue stretching 50 metres down Barley Mow Passage. Given everyone was clearly 2 metres apart it was probably only 20 people but there was a member of staff telling them that they were closing on time and would not be serving even those people already at the back of the queue. Raise a glass to customer service!  I had better go down before breakfast tomorrow.

Overall, the High Road was significantly busier than yesterday with queues outside Boots and the banks – all orderly and socially distanced. M & S had a very well organised waiting system supervised by a member of staff and my local Sainsbury’s (by the junction with Chiswick Lane) had a less well managed and more informal system. As I wanted some milk * I joined the queue.  There are always some tossers though, aren’t there? One guy turned up and went to walk in. On being stopped as the queue was pointed out to him he swore at us and marched off. I exchanged glances, bonding with my fellow pavement dwellers.  In fact, I did notice generally there was more eye contact between strangers in queues and on the streets than we would normally see in ‘reserved’ Chiswick.  Long may that continue.

Talking of supermarkets. Why is everyone rushing to the supermarket and then complaining their shelves are empty when nearly all the small, local shops in Chiswick have plenty of stock? Apart from eggs, which I am told are in short supply everywhere (not for me though, thanks to Raven Dave) I saw just about everything you need in the small businesses that we should be supporting along the High Rd. I leave you with a few pictures and a strong recommendation of where to go for your provisions if you are local.  Even the little Italian Restaurant on Elliot Road, Tarantella, is making the best of it and I will certainly try their bread at some point.

So, this is just my second of this series of blogs. Much of my writing reflects the many years I spent in Africa, particularly Nigeria. I still have many friends in Lagos and elsewhere, many that still treat me as a member of their extended family, and I am very worried about them as more and more news is coming in of the spread of the virus throughout that continent. Some of my future posts will cover what is happening out there and how that impacts their families here in the diaspora. My sister is currently in Spain where they are in the midst of what is becoming the worst outbreak any where in the world. I am worried about her and her friends as they are now in their second week of isolation. We are suburban London dwellers – and lets face it, if you are reading this missive from a privileged member of the middle class you are also pretty much going to be middle class. Remember, for many, if not most of us there are going to be many, many in worse circumstances than us.

Meanwhile, how am I doing isolated from my family? Well, I will share with you how I am determined to eat healthily – I am mighty proud of my home made soups so you may just get some of my own recipes. I am doing my best not to descend into too regular use of my pretty substantial booze stock (I do have a little bar in my apartment) nor do I want to use up my marijuana chocolate too quickly. On the other hand, as my Nigerian friends would say “Bodi no be wud o” **  and this is just the kind of circumstance that a good glass of wine, a strong bottle of Nigerian Guinness or a puff on my little pipe was designed for.  Watch this space!

* In cereal and my porridge I am now an avid user of Oat Milk but in my morning ‘cuppa’ it has to be the traditional cow’s stuff!

**  Pidgin. Literally – ‘your body is not made of wood’ an expression that means we are humans and not devoid of emotion, of one kind or another.


Coronavirus lockdown in Italy

Italy is ahead of us in the development of the pandemic. Here’s now Italians around the country have kept up morale from their windows and balconies. Video by Andrea Carnevali, Chiswick resident originally from Italy, who has family in Milan and Rome.


COVID Symptom Tracker

Scientists at Kings College London have launched an app which they hope will help slow the Covid-19 outbreak. They are asking members of the public to self-report symptoms daily, even if they are feeling well, a task which they say takes just one minute to do.

Researchers will use the data to study the symptoms of the virus and track how it spreads. From it they will be able to identify which are the high-risk areas in the UK, how fast the virus is spreading area by areas and who is most at risk, by better understanding symptoms linked to underlying health conditions.

The research is being led by Dr Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London and director of TwinsUK a scientific study of 15,000 identical and non-identical twins, which has been running for nearly three decades.

“I was rather depressed as they were shutting down everything in the university and I thought that twins are the best studied people in the country, so how can we use that information in this crisis?” he told BBC News.

Initially, the app was made available only to the twins taking part in his studies, but the professor realised it could be scaled up to the general public.

You can download it on the App Store or get it on Google Play.

Your NHS needs you

Public spaces crowded

Image above: Strand on the Green, Monday 23 March

The picture above shows how young people particularly have been ignoring the advice on social distancing. At the weekend the river bank was full of people out for a walk on the first sunny day of spring, and the same was still true on Monday (23 March) when this picture was taken. 

Although the Prime Minister says parks will remain open, in London a number of parks are being closed because there are just too many people using them and not staying the requisite two metres away from the next person.

Parks closed

The Royal Parks have made the decision to close Richmond Park to traffic, though it remains open to cyclists. They have also closed the cafes in Royal parks ‘as people are not adhering to social distancing guidelines’.

LB Ealing has announced it is closing its play areas, playgrounds, outdoor gyms, tennis courts, skate parks and other facilities.

LB Hammersmith & Fulham announced on Sunday that all parks in the borough would close until further notice, including Ravenscourt Park.

Gunnersbury Park and Chiswick House Gardens open

Gunnersbury Park remains open seven days a week ‘for the community to exercise, walk the dog and enjoy the spring flowers’, but the museum is closed and all public programmes have been suspended.

At Chiswick House the Gardens remain open but the House, the cafe and the playground are all closed. The toilets outside the cafe are also closed. They ask that you stay two metres away from people who are not in your party.


Kew Gardens closed

Kew Gardens is also closed until further notice.  Director Richard Deverell issued this statement: 

‘There is no salve quite like nature for an anxious mind.

‘We wanted to keep our botanic gardens open for as long as possible, to offer our visitors a space of tranquillity and beauty at this stressful time.

‘However, our absolute priority is the health of our visitors and staff. 

‘Given the increasingly reduced number of places for people to go, we were concerned that high numbers of visitors would not allow for safe social distancing at entry points and we wanted to avoid any unnecessary travel’.

The Gardens have been closed since Sunday.

Resurgence in cycling

People are getting their bikes out and turning to pedal power as the safest way to get around during the Covid-19 emergency.

When I spoke to Chris Ghadder, owner of Fudge’s Cycles on Monday, (before Boris Johnson’s speech) the shop was open and he said they were planning to stay open as long as they were allowed to, as they were seeing a spike in demand for repair work.

Yesterday they were working with the door of the shop closed, only letting in two people at a time, and very few people were interested in buying bikes or accessories. Most had come in for repairs.

Chris operates a collect and repair service. He will pick your bike up in his van, repair it and drop it back to you.

Tel: 0208 994 1485

London hospitals expecting to be overwhelmed

The Prime Minister said last night:

“Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment where no health service in the world could possibly cope, because there won’t be enough ventilators, enough intensive care beds, enough doctors and nurses”.

“To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it, meaning more people are likely to die, not just from Coronavirus but from other illnesses as well”.

Leaked memo gives details of terrifying situation

Currently the group of London hospitals which includes Charing Cross, Hammersmith, and St Marys (Imperial Trust) is looking after 99 patients with the Coronavirus, out of 234 patients in London.

According to a leaked NHS memo, the rate of the infection is spreading, and the number of new cases is doubling every three days, so by next Saturday, 28 March, the expectation is that there will be 1000 patients with the virus needing to be treated as inpatients across London hospitals, 300 of them being looked after by Imperial Trust. It is likely that at least 60 of these will need to be on ventilators in intensive care.

The Trust has in total about 1,300 beds, and are expecting the intensive care units at Charing Cross, St Mary’s and Hammersmith hospitals will all be full of patients with Covid-19 by early April.

The epidemic is expected to peak mid-April, by which time London is expecting to have 32,000 cases. The Trust will have exceeded both their bed capacity and the availability of ventilators before the peak hits. Almost all other work including for cancer patients has already been stopped in the Trust’s hospitals, and all others across London.

Urgent Treatment centres

The Urgent Treatment Centre at Hammersmith Hospital closed on Friday. Urgent treatment centres are an alternative to A&E. They are centres that treat minor injuries and illness that require urgent treatment that cannot be seen by your registered GP.

The Hammersmith and Fulham Clinical Commissioning Group, which runs it, issued a statement saying:

“This is an unavoidable decision, taken as an emergency measure to help us deal with the developing major incident around COVID-19. We plan to return to business as usual once the emergency is over.”

The Urgent Treatment Centre at Charing Cross hospital remains open.

Wake up Ministry of Justice and start social distancing

Images above: Wimbledon Magistrates Court; Ann Crighton

Let’s hope someone at the Ministry of Justice was watching the TV at 8.30 last night, with the rest of the country. While major criminal trials have been cancelled, minor traffic offences were still being prosecuted last week. Twice Ann Crighton, Direct Access barrister and foudner of Crighton Chambers, had to to set off last week, to magistrates courts in Wimbledon and Cheltenham, to queue up and be searched, to represent her clients. ‘Not a sign of hand sanitiser’. She felt compelled to write to to her MP and the leader of Hammersmith (her local) council about it.

Not a sign of hand sanitiser

The Ministry of Justice (probably better named Ministry of Injustice) seem to know nothing about ‘social distancing’.  Let me give you some examples of my personal experience in the last week.

Monday I schlepped off to Wimbledon Magistrates Court – client up for drink driving. Got to Court and showed security my MoJ pass (I sit on the bench of Employment Tribunal so have one with a photo and that is supposed to grant me access to any MoJ building).  Security refused to recognise. Fair enough so I then showed her Bar Council pass on my phone (Wimbledon Court supposed to be taking part in that scheme). Security person couldn’t get her phone to work, therefore, could not verify pass but spent 15 min trying to.  So, Security make me queue up with defendants and witnesses to be searched (thoroughly). Not a sign of hand sanitiser etc. What are the chances of a middle-aged woman bringing a fake MoJ pass to Court and, along with that, a fake Bar Council pass?  Doesn’t matter – automaton decides I am not to be trusted so searched I must be.

Wednesday, my friend Julian, another barrister emailed Luton Court to seek an adjournment on basis his client was in Spain and could not get out of Spain. Response (twice) was that he needed to attend and apply in person. So, off he schlepped from Wimbledon to Luton and the application was granted in a couple of minutes.  He too had to queue up to get through security. Anyway, after that waste of time, off he went back home to his very young children.

Friday, I rocked up at Cheltenham Court. Searched (along with everyone else entering Court). No gloves or hand sanitiser in sight (but they are more pleasant than Wimbledon).  In the Advocates room I was joking with other barristers quoting Shakespeare ‘First thing we do is kill all the lawyers’ and I was told that the week before there were bottles of hand sanitiser around but this week a member of the Court staff had collected them all and placed them in the Magistrates retiring room.  Don’t know if that is true or not (hearsay) but fact is I could see none around let alone being used.

My friend Julian and I deal with traffic offences.  The offence I dealt with on Friday was a youth charged with no insurance.  He had fully comp insurance for his car but the problem was his car was in the garage and he drove his Dad’s car but, despite fact he paid £3.5K for insurance it did not cover him to drive his Dad’s car.  Technical and PC should have let him off with a warning but that is not how money is raised for the Government.

So, minor traffic offences being prosecuted but if my client had been charged with murder, case would have been adjourned because of Coronavirus.

I am amused when I read those over 70 to be placed under (roughly) house arrest, bars closed, gyms closed and so on to ensure ‘social distancing’ whereas the Ministry of Injustice (a Government Dept) are intent on doing their best to spread Coronavirus (or given the state of the Courts any other disease).

Quite astonishing that you/the Government should shut parks but I am due in Brighton Court on Friday to represent a chief exec of a successful Co, a middle aged man who has never been to Court before, on a speeding charge. He will queue up to be thoroughly searched by security and, when the case is over, he will go home to his wife and kids and I will schlep back to London and cook dinner for my son and his friend who are off school because of Coronavirus.

Other friends/members of my family cannot believe this is happening but Secret Barrister and everyone else involved with the justice system knows that it is just typical of the MoJ BUT I thought I would write this long email to you because you ought to know because what is happening is just wrong & possibly dangerous.

Doesn’t seem to matter what madness the MoJ gets involved with e.g. sale of Hammersmith Court, endangering lives, etc. – they get away with it.

Interested in raising it?  It is controversial but can be corroborated and is definitely the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Man in the Middle – Chapter 28: Covid-19 didn’t ruin Mother’s Day

A middle aged man realises 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.27 Covid-19 didn’t ruin Mother’s Day

The Sun and our cat are celebrating Mother’s Day together in the garden. The Sun is dry combing the grass and the cat is trampolining on it while shadow boxing with clouds of insects. He’s happy the months of muddy lawn are past, and the magnolia is flowering.

This side of the patio doors, Mother’s Day isn’t quite so carefree. We’re having a Family Emergency General Meeting to decide if we can salvage anything cheery out of Mother’s Day without breaking Government medical guidelines. This is proving harder than we thought. In many ways.

One of them is the Mother’s not been able to follow the cut and thrust of family chit-chat as clearly since she gave back her hearing aid, last week. She believes her decision is an historic act of self-liberation and calls it her Unilateral Declaration of Hearing Independence. We think it’s the equivalent of ‘Sakoku’ the Japanese trade policy which isolated the country from foreigners for 200 years. The fact we now have to stand six foot away from her because of social distancing rules hasn’t helped, either. Which is why my wife is having problems trying to explain to Mother the difference between a lock-in and a lock-down.

‘Why does the Government want us to lock ourselves in the pub?’ asks Mother.

‘Lock-down. Not lock-in,’ says my wife, slightly ruffled.

‘His father enjoyed lock-ins. They had them at our local pub in the Seventies.’ replies Mother.

As I wait for my wife to work her way through this Gordian knot of semantic confusion, I gaze out at the cat. He reminds me of my father’s favourite Edward Lear’s poem ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’. I start whispering:

‘The Sun and the Pussycat went to play,
On a beautiful pea green lawn’.

‘What?’ says my wife, in a voice like weed killer.

‘Dad’s favourite poem,’ I turn to my Mother hoping the memory will kick start her reminiscing and distract my wife from the lawn mowing coming my way.

‘Did you behave like this in business meetings when you were a grown up?’ asks my son. Actually, I did spend one business meeting pretending to be a mouse for a bet. But I’m not going to admit it, now.

‘Let’s just focus on the issue at hand,’ says wife, calmly.

‘Don’t worry. Social distancing is something that happens to you inevitably as you get older. Your friends die, the phone stops ringing, you can’t go out much. I’ve been living with it for years. Today’s no different,’ she says, staring out at the garden where the cat has just done the most extraordinary somersault from the fence into the middle of the lawn. He thinks he’s caught something but it’s only the shadow of a passing cloud.

Only a sociopath wouldn’t be worried right now. We’re scared that being locked down at home with Mother for the next three months means one of us may expose her to Covid-19 with fatal consequences. It’s the unavoidable irony of our situation: she moved in to have a safer, more sociable life in her last years but now it could be a death sentence.

‘How about making today ‘Mothering Day Movies’? Granny binges on her favourite movies this afternoon. This evening, it’s your turn, mum.’

I almost tear up with admiration for my son. My favourite embodiment of XY chromosomes has smashed it. We’ve just installed a new, super powered Wi-Fi system, TV, speakers and super-woofer which could blow the roof off Wembley stadium. She’ll be able to watch and hear some old classics all day long. What better way to spend Mothering Sunday?

‘Brilliant. Better than spending the rest of the day, wiping down the bannisters and washing the floors like a Dutch housewife,’ says my wife.

Covid-19 is sulphuric acid to social bonds and rituals. It forbids hugs and handshakes. It separates marriage beds and turns families into disconnected passengers stuck in the same railway carriage. It scowls at fun and laughter. But it can’t control the TV remote. Covid-19 hasn’t cancelled our Mother’s Day!

Mother installs herself in front of the outstretched TV, a plate of Belgium chocolates nearby. The BBC ‘I Player’ is loading up Noel Coward’s war time classic ‘In Which We Serve’.
‘I worked on that,’ she says, a smile wrinkling her cheeks. ‘This is much better than going to that noisy pub you normally take me to.’


Supermarket chaos

I reported last week that the supermarkets had started rationing goods and opening for those over 70 only for the first hour. That was the theory. Several people reported to me that the scheme hadn’t quite gone to plan.

‘The so called special hour for elderly and vulnerable people in Sainsburys was APPALLING’ said one, who wishes to remain anonymous.

‘The few elderly there wandering aimlessly with  empty trollies while hundreds of mostly young people trashed the place. I was of course one of the elderly but more incensed than disconsolate! I arrived at Sainsbury’s in Chiswick at 7:15 AM, to find the car park completely full with barriers generously open, and the whole store heaving with people of every age, mainly young.

Over half the store had already been plundered as clean as the vulture-picked bones of an antelope on the plains of the Serengeti. The queues for the tills already stretched to the back of the store, consisting of people with trolleys crammed full, hardly any of whom appeared to qualify by the age criterion.

‘A relatively small number of elderly people, some of whom did appear quite frail, wandered the store, pushing empty trolleys, and looking like the souls of the dead thronging the banks of the river Styx, longing for oblivion. I neither saw nor heard of any indication that the management of the store either knew or cared about the ‘first hour’ promise.

Certainly there were no signs, and as far as I know no attempt by staff to protect the elderly and vulnerable. Neither did I see any sign of customers being limited in terms of the number of items purchased. Even a dedicated queue for us would have helped, as standing in a queue for over an hour is bound to tax the resilience of even the toughest pensioner.

‘I have to say I saw no examples of bad behaviour or micro-aggression, but the whole situation was entirely unacceptable and Sainsbury’s should be ashamed of themselves’.

The store in Essex Place has apologised to elderly customers. They were overwhelmed by the demand, which has been unprecedented, and say they have now taken on more staff.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: No shopping except for basic necessities

See also: Row over Councillor’s ‘go shopping’ advice

‘That’s when good neighbours become good friends…’

I swear I’ve never watched Neighbours, but you can’t help knowing the lyrics. Never have their saccharine and sentimental words been more apt. I’ve taken to meeting the neighbours for coffee every day. I’ve discovered one side has loo rolls and the other has pasta, so we’re good for a bit.

Whatsapp groups have sprung up street by street so neighbours can talk to each other and keep an eye on each other. If your street doesn’t have one, set one up.

Images above: Fr Kevin Morris, vicar of St Michael & All Angels Church; Fr Simon Brandes, vicar of St Nicholas Church

Churches organising volunteers

“The upsurge in community spirit has been fantastic” says Fr Kevin Morris of St Michael & All Angels Church.

I asked him what they were doing to support people who were isolated. “We’ve rather had the wind taken out of our sails” he told me. They’ve been busy organising the live-streaming of services, since the C of E announced last Friday that there would be no more public services. (The first time churches had been closed since the Black Death, he told me cheerily). “We’re on a very steep learning curve” he said. “By the time we’d sorted that out and started to look at who needed help, all these little self-help groups had already formed”.

That is not to say the churches won’t be providing support, they are. The five churches I spoke to all had groups of volunteers ready to help, taking calls and emails through their parish offices. At the moment they are using the people they know, conscious of the issue of safeguarding, but they are keen to get new volunteers DBS checked as swiftly as possible (anyone know how that can be achieved quickly?? Answers to – and potential volunteers, who we will pass on).

Fr Kevin told me he was touched to find that one person had delivered a piece of cake and flowers to a number of people who they knew lived on their own.

Fr Simon Brandes at St Nicholas Church in Chiswick Mall found himself with an embarrassment of daffodils on Sunday, ordered for the Mother’s Day service which was cancelled. They distributed them to nearby houses and left the rest on the church steps with a note saying ‘give a bunch to someone you love’.

“The Church has always been involved in community” he told me. “If the Church can support the community in any way, that’s its role and its function”. The Crosslight debt advice centre based at St Nicholas is no longer meeting people face to face, but continue to offer advice and help over the phone. Tel: 0207 052 0318. Director – Michele Rooney.

Images above: Martine Oborne, vicar of St Michael’s, Elmwood Rd; Nicola Moy, vicar of Christ Church, Turnham Green

Nichola Moy, vicar of Christ Church told me she and her volunteers are busy contacting the 500 or so people they have on their database, offering help to elderly and disabled parishioners. They have the freezer stocked with ready meals, and are poised to deliver them.

Sue Hearn told me St Paul’s Grove Park also has a group of helpers on call to do shopping for those who need it.

Martine Oborne, vicar of St Michael’s Elmwood Rd, said:

“We are doing regular phone calls to anyone who would like that and urgent food deliveries where we can”.

See details of their live-streamed services here.

People coming forward through social media

There have been lots of offers in social media from people wanting to help out. As people are wary of con artists preying on the vulnerable, it’s best to get in touch with one of the organisations which regularly operates with volunteers. Have a look at our Volunteer Chiswick directory for inspiration (though of course the charity shops listed are now closed).

A Facebook group has been set up to help those who may be quarantined due to the COVID-19 outbreak and to support vulnerable Chiswick residents.

The local councils are in the process of setting up Community Support Hubs to provide help to the most vulnerable.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Community Hub being set up by Hounslow Council

See also: Churches live-streaming services

Community hub 

LB Hounslow is setting up a new Community Support Hub to provide support and advice to our most vulnerable residents in the light of the Coronavirus pandemic.

In the latest Coronavirus Update from Council leader Steve Curran, Monday 23 March, says:

‘The Council will be working with voluntary and community groups to ensure that vulnerable residents have the support they need. There will be a dedicated email address and phone number alongside webpages to direct people to support and advice as well as a resource for those that want to provide help and join a local community or voluntary group.

‘In addition, the intention is for the hub to provide the co-ordination and distribution of supplies to those extremely vulnerable residents which the government has identified should be ‘shielded’ and self-isolate for at least 12 weeks. The NHS is currently contacting those residents and once we have the relevant guidance from the Government we will be able to provide further information’.

Watch this space, in other words. See his latest newsletter and sign up for update from the council here.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also:

See also:

Businesses ‘in limbo’

Restaurateur Michael Nadra closed his restaurant on 15 March.

“Over the last two weeks business had been slowing” he told me. “If we were the cause of an outbreak because of  a staff member or another customer that would have been a disaster”.

The award winning chef, who gets a mention in the Michelin guide, decide to close before Boris Johnson said all restaurants, cafes and pubs must shut, on Friday 20 March. Now he is now sitting back and considering how his business model might have to change once the current crisis is over.

Michael Nadra studied Naval Architecture & Ocean Engineering. As a student in the 1990s, at Glasgow University, he had no intention of being a chef. ‘When Michael walked into The Canteen in Chelsea Harbour he thought it was only going to be a summer job. But within two weeks he was cooking on the garnish section for up to 200 covers in a Michelin starred restaurant and was hooked’ according to the profile on his website.

From ocean engineer to top chef

When he graduated as an engineer he went to work with Nick Nairn, the Scottish celebrity chef who became the youngest Scottish chef to win a Michelin star in the early 1990s. He was opening his new restaurant and Michael got a part time job with him, as a Chef de Partie. He moved to London to work with Stephen Terry at Frith Street as Pastry Chef a year later, joins Petrus as Senior Chef de Partie and began baking for both Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road and Petrus, St James.

In 2000 he joined Bruce Poole at Chez Bruce, Wandsworth Common and soon became Sous Chef. After a spell at The Square in Mayfair and The Glasshouse in Kew, he joined La Trompette in Chiswick as Sous Chef, from there to Putney Bridge with Anthony Demetre. The Oak in Notting Hill and The Hempel in Lancaster Gate. He became Head Chef at The Waterway in Maida Vale for Tom Etridge in 2003 and moved to The Atlantic in Piccadilly for Oliver Peyton as Head Chef in the same year (who has recently set up Exit Here by Turham Green).

After such a meteoric rise Michael was ready to start his own restaurant. Fish Hook was his first venture, in Elliott Rd, a modern European seafood restaurant which he opened in 2005, but after a while he missed cooking meat, so he refurbished his Chiswick restaurant under his own name, Restaurant Michael Nadra in 2010, opening a second in Primrose Hill in 2012. His philosophy is to offer ‘high quality and great value, contemporary food, served in a relaxed and vibrant environment’.

Michael Nadra restaurant in Chiswick

His entry in the 2020 Michelin guide for his Chiswick restaurant reads:

‘Half way down a residential side street is this intimate little place where the closely set tables add to the bonhomie. Dishes are modern, colourful and quite elaborate in their make-up; it’s worth going for the sensibly priced set menu and the chosen wines’.

Closely set tables are of course the last thing that’s wanted at the moment, but Michael Nadra doesn’t seem to be the sort of person to throw in the towel quickly. He is trying to foresee how the economy will change once the current emergency is over, and how he should change his business model accordingly. They do say ‘every crisis presents an opportunity’ and he is trying to work out how his business can adapt and survive. They are, he said ‘in limbo’.

I asked him what he thought of the Government’s package of financial measures to support businesses. He welcomed the decision to cut business rates for a year. “That helps straight away” he told me. Premises with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will have no rates to pay in the coming year: an immediate saving of £10,000 on a property with a rateable value of £30,000. Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement last week that the Government would pay 80% of the wages of workers unable to work because of the Coronavirus emergency, was “great” he said.

“It’s a guessing game as to what people might want”

I wondered if he would consider doing takeaway meals, as many restaurants which haven’t previously are beginning to do. He is considering a ready meal service – providing “nice meals which can be cooked or reheated at home” but is waiting to work out the ramifications before he jumps to that decision. Before he closed last week he was offering a £69 six course tasting menu as well as a £20 express menu.

“We wouldn’t be making anything really” he told me. “We wouldn’t be making money on drink or a service charge and if I employ my staff to prepare food for deliveries, the Government wouldn’t pay 80% their salary” so he prefers not to take any risks at this stage. “In parts of Italy they did deliveries, but then they stopped it. I don’t want to start something and then find it is stopped”.

“After the initial reaction (to the Chancellor’s announcement of financial help) you think who is going to be paying for this? The Government has to do it, but there might have to be more taxes. And how is the economy going to work once this is over? Everyone will be cautious”. He will use these next few months he says to really consider how his business model should change to react to the changed environment. “It’s a guessing game as to what people might want”.


No shopping except for basic necessities

The Prime Minister issued the instruction last night “you must stay at home”.

Announcing that shopping would be allowed only for basic necessities – food and medicines, he also said people would be allowed out only once a day for exercise. Other than that only for medical care or to get to work if absolutely necessary. Weddings and baptisms are cancelled for the time being. Parks can be open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed. The police will have powers to enforce this.

The leader of Hounslow Council, Steve Curran said on Sunday that all shops should close except pharmacies and those that are selling food or takeaways.

“The government guidelines are quite clear, residents at risk should not be going out shopping especially those with underlying health issues” he told The Chiswick Calendar.

All weekend there had been rumours that Boris Johnson would close shops and put London into lock down. He announced the closure of restaurants, cafes. pubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and spas on Friday.

“Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment where no health service in the world could possibly cope” he said. “So it’s vital to slow the spread of the disease”.

Images above: Insider Dealings; Greige

Shops closing and adapting

Many shops in Chiswick have already closed of their own volition; some sell online and others are offering free delivery to the Chiswick area.

Sally Price, who runs the interior design shop Insider Dealings on Chiswick High Rd told me yesterday: “I am expecting them to tell us to close because people have been really stupid, just not listening to government advice. Watching everybody on the beaches at the weekend was just ridiculous”. She has been seeing one customer at a time in her tiny shop, with hand wipes at the ready. Hers is not the kind of business which can be conducted purely online, because people need to see the fabrics and she needs to go to their houses and measure up, so she has been finishing up existing orders and looking at the government financial help package with her accountant, in expectation of closure.

Greige, the home furnishing shop on Bedford Corner, closed on Saturday. Their shop is also not very big. “It was morally the right thing to do” co-owner John Farrant told me. Griege sells online through its website  and John is offering free delivery to anyone in Chiswick, though he says nobody is interested in home furnishings right now, quite understandably.

Images above: LA Menswear; Lizard ladies fashion

Clothing shops Wild Swans and Damsel on Devonshire Rd had already closed before the announcment, as had Jigsaw, which has cleared the shop of stock.  Lizard women’s fashion on Turnham Green Terrace was open yesterday. Owner Kambiz Hendessi was also expecting to be open “probably only for a few more days”. They have been letting people into the shop one person at a time and wiping down the clothes hangers and rails every few hours. Lizard sells online at and also delivers locally for free. LA Menswear was open on Monday but fully expecting the government to close shops. “Half the street is closed already. It’s quite weird and very sad” said owner Henrik Henson. LA Menswear sells online “but people aren’t going to buy new clothes until they get really, really bored” he said. They will also deliver locally for free.

Foster Books closed on Saturday. Stephen Foster told me he would continue to do mail order and would do free delivery locally.

Chiswick Lighting had also closed its doors. Penny Ledbury, who runs the business said on Saturday: ‘We at Chiswick Lighting have also decided to close the shop door. We are answering calls and emails and will deliver locally if we are able and it is safe to do so’.

Honest Burger were giving away bags of onions outside their restaurant over the weekend, rather than throw away food they couldn’t use, as they shut down.

Chiswick Cameras was planningn to be closed after today (Tuesday 24 March). Owner Andy Sands told me on Monday he would be there until 6.00pm sorting out existing orders, but after that would not be opening the shop and would not be able to fulfill online orders either.

Windfall Natural on Turnham Green Terrace was also open yesterday, but not letting people into the shop. Their staff were taking orders at the door and bringing goods to customers there.

Fudge’s Cycles was open too. Owner Chris Ghadder said they would remain open until they were told to close. He told me their main business now was repairing bicycles, which they have always done, but they have been seeing far fewer sales of bikes and accessories in the last few days and a surge in the repair business, because people are realising cycling is a safe way to get about, in terms of the Coronavirus at least. In the shop they have been operating a closed door policy, letting two people in at a time and wiping down between customers, but because most of their business has been doing repairs people haven’t been handling products and putting them back on the shelves much. Chris operates a collect and repair service. He will pick your bike up in his van, repair it and drop it back to you. Tel: 0208 994 1485 / Email:

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Row over councillor ‘go shopping’ advice

See also: Government help “far more than anyone was expecting” says pub manager


Row over Councillor’s ‘go shopping’ advice

Hounslow Council closes buildings and services not directed at fighting COVID-19

Hounslow Council has closed all public buildings and stopped providing public services which are non essential while they focus their efforts on protecting the vulnerable during the Coronavirus emergency.

A joint statement from Leader of Hounslow Council Steve Curran and Chief Executive Niall Bolger, published on Friday 20 March stated:

‘Following the Government’s direction to increasing social distancing measures and close schools from to the end of today, and the significant and rising pressures on frontline public services, the Council has made the decision to step up its response to the coronavirus to protect the most vulnerable and focus on frontline services.

‘This will see the temporary closure of public buildings and services from when they close today (Friday 20 March) and will be fully in place by the morning of Saturday 21 March, until further notice.

‘These currently include the following buildings and services:

  • Libraries (the Library at Home service will continue) Please visit or for further updates.
  • Leisure Centres and Pools – Isleworth, Heston, Hanworth, Chiswick and Brentford
  • Osterley Sport and Fitness Centre
  • Public halls – Chiswick town hall, Feltham assembly hall, Heston village hall, Isleworth public hall, Wellington day centre
  • Hogarth House
  • Community Halls
  • Member Surgeries
  • Resident access to SpaceWaye (open for trade waste businesses – 8am – 3pm seven days a week. Last entry is 2.45pm)
  • All schools will be closed, with the exception of those being used for vulnerable children and those of key workers. These have yet to be designated.
  • Bridge Road Depot public MOT testing service

‘Gunnersbury Museum also closed on Wednesday 18 March.

‘Hounslow House remains open, though please don’t come in person unless you think it’s absolutely necessary. Many queries can be managed on our website, and there will be increasing support for telephone and video appointments, including for housing, revenues and benefits from Monday 23 March.

‘Important services that keep the borough running, including waste collection, street cleaning, bulky waste collection, mobile and online library services, and many that support and protect our most vulnerable residents will continue as normal.

‘Please visit our website: for the latest information on council services, how to contact us, and advice and guidance on coronavirus.

‘The coronavirus is of course a grave concern for us all. Our priority, above all else, is the protection of our vulnerable residents and the delivery of frontline services on which people rely.

‘The Council is working closely with our local partners, particularly those in the NHS, as well as Public Health England and the Government, to control the spread of coronavirus.

‘We are also working with our community and voluntary sector to establish a community hub which will act as a focal point for queries from residents and businesses, and help manage the ongoing support effort for our most vulnerable. It is expected to be open and operational next week with a phoneline, email address and website through which queries can be channelled.

‘It’s so important that together, as a borough, we all pull together during these difficult times to support each other and help keep our more vulnerable residents safe. We all have a responsibility to follow the guidance from Government and the NHS to try to keep ourselves and others free from infection and help prevent the disease from spreading.

‘We want to thank everyone in the borough who has gone above and beyond in their efforts. We are very proud of the residents and businesses of Hounslow and are sure, if we all work together over these coming months, we will be stronger for it.

‘Information and advice is available on our coronavirus web page and we have a regular coronavirus e-newsletter too which we urge everyone to sign up to.

Cllr Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council

Niall Bolger, Chief Executive of Hounslow Council

Churches live-streaming services

Some of the churches have started live-streaming their services in light of the announcement by the Church of England that public worship is suspended until further notice. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York issued this advice on Friday 20 March:

‘Churches should be open where possible but with no public worship services taking place. Prayers can be said by clergy and ministers on behalf of everyone and churches should consider ways of sharing this with the wider community’.

The Archbishops have designated Sunday 22 March a  National Day of Prayer.

St Michael & All Angels Church

St Michael & All Angels Church on Bath Rd put up a video of Friday’s noon mass, conducted by Father Fabrizio Pesce, on their Facebook page.

They are live streaming the noon mass on Saturday 21 and the 10.00am Low Mass on Mothering Sunday, 22 March, which replaces the planned Choral Family Mass. Both of those services can be seen on the Pesce Fabrizio Facebook page. Weekday Mass at noon will be live-streamed henceforward each day on the St Michael & All Angels Facebook page.

Fr Kevin Morris, Vicar of St Michael & All Angels Church said in Thursday’s service that we need to put ourselves out to be of service to those in need and that hope can counter fear and isolation:

‘On the night before he was crucified, Jesus kneels and washes his disciples’ feet and gives them a new commandment: “to love one another as I have loved you”. As church services are suspended, and social distancing is encouraged, we are asked to ponder those words afresh, to work out what they mean in our present crisis. These words, echoing the words of Jesus on the first Maundy Thursday, remind us that it is by our love and service that Jesus Christ will be made known and the hope of the gospel, hope that can counter fear and isolation will be spread. We need to put ourselves out to be of service to those in need, but you also need to be aware how very difficult it is for some of us to receive the help of others, they’re so fiercely independent. It is receiving a ministry that Grace so often surprises and transforms us, not least as we turn to God in prayer, for where Love is, God himself is there’.

Click here to hear a five minute audio clip of Fr Kevin’s sermon Where Love Is God Is There, with music by St Michael’s Singers, led by Jonathan Dods.

The church will remain open for private prayer.

St Nicholas Church

St Nicholas Church at Chiswick Mall is lie-streaming its services via their Facebook Page at 9.30am on Thursdays and Sundays, starting Sunday 22 March.

St Nicholas Church will remain open throughout this period for prayer and reflection.

Christ Church, Turnham Green

Christ Church welcome anyone in the local community and beyond to join us for worship online using Facebook Live this Sunday (22 March). At 9.30am there will be a virtual communion service which you can join in at home, and at 10.30am our contemporary band will lead a service fitting for Mothering Sunday. This, and other resources, including videos of our children’s worker telling stories and singing songs for pre-schoolers, all available on our Facebook page @Christ Church W4. We will be improving the technology used over the coming weeks, but for now sit back and enjoy these authentic, homely experiences of Christian worship – whether you are used to going to church in person or are just curious. Further updates on

Government help “far more than anyone was expecting” says pub manager

Images above: Bell Bullman, General Manager; George IV

The instruction that all pubs and restaurants should close was expected by the hospitality industry, at least in London, but the speed at which events are unfolding still comes as quite a shock. Cafes, pubs and restaurants must close from tonight (Friday 20 March), except for take-away food, to tackle the Coronavirus, Boris Johnson has said. All the UK’s nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres have also been told to close “as soon as they reasonably can”.

In Chiswick, Fuller’s had already decided to close its six pubs by Monday; the Swan pub, Michael Nadra and La Trompette restaurants had also decided to close before the Prime Minister’s announcement. Staff have been bracing themselves for news that they would be out of a job, but the Government package of financial assistance for workers has come as a huge relief.

Ben Bullman, General manager of the George IV pub on Chsiwick High Rd told me that the package the Chancellor had announced was “pretty incredible” and “far more than anyone was expecting”. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that the government will pay 80% wages for employees who are not working, up to £2,500 per month.

The Prime Minister urged people not to go out tonight, saying: “For now, at least physically, we need to keep people apart.”

Ben told me his priority and that of the other General Managers in Fuller’s group of 204 pubs in the Midlands and South of England, was to look after their teams. Ben has 30 people working at George IV. “Our priority is to make sure they’re alright and for the pub to come out of this on the other side”.

“Running a pub is about more than running a business, from a social perspective it’s about delivering a service to my regulars. A pub is the backbone of a community and I love that side of it. I absolutely love my job. Hopefully the British public will want to welcome us back with a bumper weekend once we’re able to be open again”.

The Swan and La Trompette closed

Two businesses which have decided to shut up shop till the Coronavirus epidemic is over are The Swan pub in Evershed Walk, off Acton Lane, and La Trompette Michelin starred restuarant in Devonshire Rd.

The Swan has posted this message on its website:

‘It is with a heavy heart that we have closed and will be for the foreseeable future. We do this in the best interest of our staff as we have a duty of care to them. We look forward to serving you in the future’.

La Trompette’s website merely says:

“We are now closed until further notice”.

All Fuller’s pubs to close by Monday

All Fuller’s pubs are to close by Monday. Fuller’s has 204 pubs in the Midlands and South of England, with the highest concentration – 136 – in London.

In Chiswick they are: George IV, The PIlot, The Old Packhorse, Bell & Crown, One Over the Ait and the Mawson’s Arms beside the Griffin brewery. The brewery, now owned by Asahi, has already closed its shop and stopped tours of the site.

Simon Emeny, Chief Executive of Fuller, Smith & Turner, today said:

“The time has come to make the toughest of decisions and we have started the process of temporarily closing our entire Managed Pubs and Hotels estate. By Monday, all sites will be closed until further notice.

“As we navigate these difficult times, we promise our teams that we will be fair to our people, while protecting our business for the long term. We do not know how long these measures will last, but when the time comes our pubs, and the teams in those pubs, will be ready, waiting and delighted to serve our customers and our communities.”

The hospitality industry is waiting to hear from the Chancellor tonight details of what further financial help the Government will give them, so Fuller’s isn’t able to say yet whether there will be immediate redundancies as a result.

On Monday Boris Johnson announced that people should “avoid pubs, clubs and theatres.” Chief Executive of Fuller, Smith & Turner, Simon Emeny, reacted angrily, saying:

“The Prime Minister’s advice (on Monday) puts us in an absolutely impossible situation. His reckless attitude is effectively forcing pubs to close without a clear instruction to do so and with no financial support, putting jobs and pubs at risk forever. In many cases, these pubs may never reopen and, in the immediate future, many people will be left without an income to live off.

“As an industry, we need a comprehensive package of financial measures to see us through these unprecedented times – especially to prevent those businesses with low cash reserves from terminal closure. These measures should include a payment holiday on Business Rates, HMRC payments and VAT.

Decision not unexpected

On Tuesday Mr Emeny said: “In light of the ambiguity of Mr Johnson’s statement, at Fuller’s we are currently reviewing all of our pubs on a site by site basis to decide whether to remain open or not”.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday: “For those venues which do have a policy that covers pandemics – the government action is sufficient to allow them to make claims.”

But the Association of British Insurers quickly hit back with their own advice:

“The vast majority of firms won’t have purchased cover that will enable them to claim on their insurance for their business being closed by the Coronavirus. Standard business interruption cover… does not include forced closure by authorities.”

Their statement went on to say that while some companies might have purchased an extension to cover insurance for closure due to infectious diseases, any payments “will depend on the precise nature of the cover they have purchased.” As a new disease, Coronavirus is highly unlikely to be included in general insurance.

Business rates

Further to last week’s budget, the Government has now offered all businesses in the hospitality industry a business rates holiday, irrespective of their rateable value. Acknowledging on Tuesday that some sectors were facing “particularly acute challenges”, the Chancellor said the government would do “whatever it takes” to deal with Covid-19 outbreak.

“I am also extending today the business rates holiday to all businesses in those sectors irrespective of their rateable value. That means every single shop, pub, theatre, music venue, restaurant and any other businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector will pay no business rates whatsoever for 12 months”.

Grants and loans

In the same address he said  there would be cash available to struggling businesses in the hospitality industry:

“I announced last week that for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £51,000, they will pay no business rates this year. Today, I can go further and provide those businesses in those sectors with an additional cash grant of up to £25,000 per business to help bridge through this period”.

The industry is waiting to find out what further help the Chancellor has in mind. It is widely expected that pubs across London will be ordered to shut from tonight.

Transport for London closing 40 underground stations from today

Transport for London has announced a series of service reductions “to enable London’s critical workers to make essential journeys” amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Up to 40 Underground stations that do not interchange with other lines are closing until further notice, and the Waterloo and City Line will also close entirely from today (Friday 20 March).

TfL have issued this statement:

Following the Government’s advice to stop non-essential social contact, the Mayor of London has asked us to make a number of changes to our services to ensure a safe and reliable service and to enable London’s critical workers to make essential journeys. We are urging all other customers to follow the Government’s advice and cease all but essential travel.

The changes

From Friday 20 March up to 40 Tube stations that do not interchange with other lines will be closed until further notice. The full list of stations that could be closed from Friday 20 March can be found beneath my email signature. Anyone who needs to make essential journeys should check for live travel updates before they travel.

From Friday morning:

  • There will be no service on the Waterloo & City line
  • There will be no all-night Night Tube service on Friday and Saturday nights
  • There will be no all-night Night Overground service on Friday and Saturday nights
  • Late services on the Tube and Overground will continue to run, with trains running late into the night on all days for essential travel only
  • Available staff will be redeployed to ensure the resilience of regular Tube and Overground services

Frequency of services

From Monday 23 March, we will gradually reduce the frequency of other services to provide a service for critical workers to get to where they need to – ensuring that remaining services are not overcrowded

We will aim to run Tube trains every four minutes in Zone 1, with the possibility that this will reduce further

Similarly, from next week until further notice, London OvergroundTfL Rail, the DLR and London Trams will run fewer services

On buses, from Monday 23 March until further notice, a service similar to a Saturday service will run. Night buses will continue running to provide critical workers with a reliable night time option

Following the decision to close many schools completely, we will review which school buses should still run and which should be amended at a later date

Fewer Santander Cycle hubs will be open in central London. To see available Santander Cycle Hubs, visit or download the Santander Cycle app

Walking times between Rail and Tube stations can be found here:

Customers are asked to please check before they travel and allow more time, re-planning their journey if necessary if that journey is absolutely essential

These are the services we plan to run. However, if fewer staff are available we may need to alter these plans further. We are working closely with the Government and other agencies and keeping all services under continuous review.

List of stations which could be closed from Friday 20 March, 2020:

(Note: please check before you travel for live updates)

Bakerloo line

  • Lambeth North
  • Regents Park
  • Warwick Avenue
  • Kilburn Park
  • Charing Cross

Central line

  • Holland Park
  • Queensway
  • Lancaster Gate
  • Chancery Lane
  • Redbridge

Circle line

  • Bayswater
  • Great Portland Street
  • Barbican

District line

  • Bow Road
  • Stepney Green
  • Mansion House
  • Temple
  • St James’s Park
  • Gloucester Road

Jubilee line

  • Swiss Cottage
  • St John’s Wood
  • Bermondsey
  • Southwark

Northern line

  • Tuffnell Park
  • Chalk Farm
  • Mornington Crescent
  • Goodge Street
  • Borough
  • Clapham South
  • Tooting Bec
  • South Wimbledon
  • Hampstead

Piccadilly line

  • Caledonian Road
  • Arsenal
  • Covent Garden
  • Hyde Park Corner
  • Bounds Green
  • Manor House

Victoria line

  • Pimlico
  • Blackhorse Road

Councils mobilise to fight Coronavirus

Images above: LB Ealing leader Julian Bell; LB Hounslow leader Steve Curran

Our local councils are organising themselves to mitigate the effects of the Coronavirus. The London Boroughs of Hounslow, Ealing and Hammersmith have all launched special sections on their websites giving information about what they are doing.

Hounslow Council

LB Hounslow leader Steve Curran issued a statement saying:

‘I want to assure you that the Council is working closely with our local partners, particularly those in the NHS, Public Health England and the Government, to control the spread of coronavirus. Plans are in place to help manage any potential impact on services, and we’re meeting with local community and voluntary groups to see how best we can support and help coordinate this inspiring groundswell of good work.

‘Teams across the Council have identified our residents and staff who may be at particular risk and are supporting them to stay healthy and get advice at the earliest opportunity should they become unwell. Our priority for now, above all else, is the protection of our vulnerable residents and the delivery of frontline services on which people rely’.

The Council has a Coronavirus advice’ section on its website which is updated daily and pulls together a range of information and advice.

It is also going to be sending out regular e-newsletters to residents with updates on the latest information, access to support and ways you can get involved in the community effort. Sign up here.

You can read Cllr Curran’s full statement here.

Ealing Council

LB Ealing leader Julian Bell said this:

‘The council is working closely with government, our local partners, like voluntary groups and the NHS, and with business groups on our response to this fast-moving situation. Ealing CVS is offering advice and signposting for the local community and other voluntary groups.

‘I would like to reassure you that crucial council services are working normally and our priority remains to care for our elderly and vulnerable residents. We have robust contingency plans in place to ensure that we can continue to deliver these vital services over the coming months’.

Ealing Council has announced temporary closure of most of the borough’s libraries and the cancellation of council meetings as part of measures to slow the spread of the Coronavirus.

Cllr Bell point out that for most people this is a mild illness. For older people or those with pre-existing conditions it can be serious.

‘We can all play our part in delaying the spread and limiting the impact on the elderly and other vulnerable groups by following the chief medical officer’s advice on travel, social distancing and self-isolating’.

Here’s Ealing Council’s Coronavirus advice

Coronavirus updates here

Read Cllr Bell’s full statement here.

Image above: LB Hammersmith leader Steve Cowan

Hammersmith Council

LB Hammersmith leader Steve Cowan said:

‘Coronavirus is a huge challenge for everyone in our community. People are understandably worried about their health, the health of their friends and loved ones, and how they will cope. So I want to reassure everyone that Hammersmith & Fulham Council has been doing everything we can to prepare for this and is on your side.

‘There are many people in our borough who are extremely vulnerable: from people needing daily home care, families in food poverty, to homeless people rough sleeping on our streets. We have an extensive plan to help them. We will always do everything we can to support our most vulnerable residents’.

‘There’s already an extensive network of people and organisations who volunteer. People who run foodbanks, homeless shelters, youth clubs, community centres, residents’ groups and much more. We’re working with them to set up H&F CAN – a resilience network which will:

  • co-ordinate a borough-wide volunteer operation
  • provide an easy way to donate money that will be used to support vulnerable people

Sign up for Hammersmith Council updates here.

Read Cllr Cowan’s full statement here, including details of how to register for the Community Aid Network.

The Swan pub closes

The much loved local pub, The Swan, in Evershed Walk, off Acton Lane, has closed because of the Coronavirus emergency.

The pub has posted this message on its website:

‘It is with a heavy heart that we have closed and will be for the foreseeable future. We do this in the best interest of our staff as we have a duty of care to them. We look forward to serving you in the future’.

The Swan team.

Popular for its good food and atmosphere, the pub is described in Harden’s guide as:

‘Slightly “hard to find” on the Chiswick/Acton border, this “lovely” panelled pub serves “surprisingly good”“ambitious”, yet “unfussy” food with a distinct Mediterranean accent. Service is “friendly”, and there’s an “amazing garden” for the summer months’.

Let’s hope they’ll be open again in the summer months.

Councillors cancel face to face meetings

Images above: Cllr Joanna Biddolph; Chiswick library, where councillors’ surgeries are usually held

Leader of Hounslow Council Steve Curran has announced that, following the NHS Coronavirus guidance to stop face to face meetings, all councillor surgeries are cancelled with immediate effect for the foreseeable future.

In Chiswick, Surgeries with Hounslow’s Councillors usually take place at Chiswick Library every Saturday morning. These surgeries will not now take place. Councillor Joanna Biddoph, leader of Chiswick’s Conservative councillors, said councillors will remain available, as they usually are, by phone and email “to help residents throughout these extraordinary times.

“We don’t know what the impact of Covid-19 will be and hope residents will understand if we prioritise people who are vulnerable or at risk of, for example, being evicted or becoming homeless, perhaps dealing with everyday issues later.

“Our focus, and the council’s focus, will principally be on managing the crisis, maintaining essential services and following government and Public Health England guidance.  Please raise general concerns with us but knowing that Covid-19 related issues might have to come first.”

Steve Curran said: “Councillor Biddolph and I recently met and agreed that we will be working together to support the Council’s response to the coronavirus crisis in Hounslow. I know residents and businesses will be reassured that party politics will form no part of the Council’s response, this will ensure that councillors and officers are working as one for the benefit of Hounslow. We urge everyone to follow the Government’s and Public Health England’s guidelines so that together we can protect the most vulnerable and continue to deliver essential services.”

How to contact your councillor

Here are the contacts for Hounslow councillors representing Chiswick:

Chiswick Homefields ward

Cllr Patrick Barr
07976 703263

Cllr Gerald McGregor
07866 784821

Cllr John Todd
07866 784651

Chiswick Riverside ward

Cllr Michael Denniss
07976 703274

Cllr Gabriella Giles
07966 270823

Cllr Sam Hearn
07833 376222

Turnham Green ward

Cllr Joanna Biddolph
07976 703446

Cllr Ranjit Gill
07976 702956

Cllr Ron Mushiso
07976 702887

Here are the contacts for Ealing councillors representing Chiswick:

Southfield ward

Andrew Steed
07736 649 664

Gary Busuttil
07985 443 860

Gary Malcolm
07813 205 218