Watching live theatre on the TV

Torin Douglas ventures into new territory, watching a National Theatre production at home

I’m very grateful to The Chiswick Calendar for telling me that the National Theatre would be live-streaming James Cordern in its huge hit play ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’.

I watched it go out live – and the play and performances were every bit as funny on the screen as I remembered in the Adelphi Theatre eight years ago. That is saying something, because it was a very physical production – a highly theatrical experience – with audience members being dragged onto to the stage every night, including, most memorably, a reluctant Max Hastings, who wrote about his experience in the Daily Mail.

Having said that, getting the play onto my screens at home was a journey of discovery. I found and subscribed to the National Theatre’s YouTube feed and popped the time and date in the diary, but I wasn’t quite clear what would happen next. Would I have to download it? Would it crash the internet? Was it best to watch it live, or to catch up with it later (it’s available for a week). I’d already decided to watch it later, but fortunately I’d recommended it to my son Michael, who lives in Manchester. He started watching it live from the start and WhatsApped me:

‘Watching “One Man, Two Guvnors” on YouTube and enjoying all the comments in the chat box saying “my drama teacher is making me watch this, I don’t get it” “whyyyyyy”’.

And then: ‘Very good ! I’m enjoying it and am categorically NOT a fan of James C!’

So I decided to catch up with it live too. I looked for it on my iPad and, sure enough, there was the feed – filling the top left quarter of the screen, with a stream of comments rolling down the right hand side, punctuated by bright yellow emojis and green symbols showing that people had made donations. It was interesting – and there was lots of laughter – but it wasn’t the ideal way to watch a big National Theatre production with a big cast and a big set. I’d once tried and failed to get YouTube on my allegedly ‘smart’ television set  – life generally being too short to watch YouTube on your TV –  but this seemed the moment to have another go.

Usually I watch TV via a Sky box, which is why I don’t normally use the ‘smart’ element of the TV set unless I’m watching Netflix (which has its own red button on the keypad). I had to disengage Sky and find the TV set’s home page, which then offered me a selection of apps (who knew?) – BBC News, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport, Amazon Prime… and YouTube. I clicked on that and after wrestling with a pretty clunky search function I found the National Theatre’s ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’.

These days, our 27-inch screen is seen as titchy – hardly bigger than some people’s mobiles – but suddenly it was filled with the manic figure of James Cordern, charging round the stage with suitcases. Success! And the production really was laugh-out-loud funny.

I noticed that 317,000 people had subscribed to it and were watching it live. The play’s director Nicholas Hytner was on the Today programme the following morning, explaining why it was the perfect production for these times – being pure entertainment, based on Carlo Goldoni’s comedy ‘The Servant of Two Masters’ – a theme he expanded on in a Guardian interview. In it he recalled that when the show went to Broadway, Donald Trump was lured onto the stage – much more willingly than Max Hastings!

By Monday, 2,045,000 people had watched ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ – and there are still several days to go. I dug out my Adelphi programme and was surprised to see how much I’d forgotten – and also that it was exactly the same cast as on the screen. I’ll be watching it again before Thursday, this time with programme in one hand – and maybe an ice cream, or something stronger, in the other….

You can catch it on YouTube until Thursday 9 April 9.







Riverbank still too crowded

Enforcement officers and police were out and about over the weekend, visiting local parks and open areas, to ensure that people were adhering to the Government’s instructions on social distancing. They report that most people across the borough of Hounslow were behaving responsibly – staying at home apart from essential journeys and a local walk/exercise once a day.

But people who live along Chiswick Mall are unhappy with the number of visiting walkers, joggers and cyclists they are still receiving as soon as the sun comes out. One riverside dweller wrote to The Chiswick Calendar:

“A plea from us along the river here if there could be reinforcing of social distancing rules in The Chiswick Calendar for Chiswickians to take note, especially for the increased number of joggers and cyclists along the river. It’s a hazard for walkers who are zigzagging trying to avoid them and then possibly susceptible to being mown over by a cyclist coming from behind.

Joggers are huffing and spitting right by people – not two metres as they jog on swiftly past the next person. Like the London Marathon and busier than Oxford St! Literally. Not nibyism but particularly affecting the many elderly residents”.

Police in the Riverside ward put out this message last week:

‘We have noticed an increase in members of the public congregating in the Chiswick Riverside area. Please can I remind people to stay at home unless leaving the house for a necessary reason’.

This from another Chiswick Calendar correspondent:

“I think people are walking quite a long way to walk around the river footpaths. Also I observe people not being as careful / thoughtful in scenic areas as they might in their own street. Also a request for medium sized shops like the local Co-op to have ‘one-way’ aisles please.

And this from the leader of Hammersmith & Fulham council, Steve Cowan on Sunday:

“Yesterday, too many irresponsible people disobeyed social distancing rules in our parks and riverfront. #SocialDistancing isn’t advice, it’s law. Today, extra police and CCTV will be in force. If parks or riverfront is too busy, please go somewhere else or exercise later”.

Hammersmith & Fulham reopened their parks last week ‘on a trial basis’ after keeping them shut for a week because people were too close to each other.

Plea for one-way aisles in supermarkets

We have also received this comment from another Chiswick Calendar reader:

“Today I had to go out food shopping. I used Marks and Spencers and I was astonished as to how many people were not following the government’s rules. ie. social distancing. We have been told and told about this. I was extremely stressed and worried when I left the shop. Why are people being so stupid. Feeling extremely annoyed about this. I can’t understand them. Do they want Covid-19? I don’t.


First Coronavirus clinics open in LB Hounslow and LB Ealing

The first GP-run Coronavirus clinics have been set up in LB Hounslow and LB Ealing. The one in Hounslow is at the Grove Village Medical Centre in Feltham. The one in Ealing is at the Community Health Centre in Mattock Lane.

These clinics are being set up across North West London for patients with symptoms of Covid-19, where they can go to be treated. An NHS source has told The Chiswick Calendar there are to be two more in LB Hounslow – one in the central part of the borough and one in the east, ie. Brentford / Chiswick.

The clinics are staffed by a nurse and a doctor, on a rota provided by local GP surgeries. They will only take patients who have been referred to them from 111 or by a local doctor. The clinic in Feltham is open daily from 8.00am – 8.00pm.

There have been discussions about opening a clinic in Chiswick; two surgeries have been considered but discounted. The location is expected to be announced in the next few days.

If you think you have symptons of Covid-19, check in with 111 online or call 111.

Brentford FC stops work on new stadium

The developers building Brentford FC’s new stadium have stopped work because of the Coronavirus emergency. In an open letter to fans on the club’s website, published on Friday, Chief Executive Jon Varney and Chairman Cliff Crown wrote on behalf of the board:

‘Our new home at Lionel Road was due to achieve what is known as Practical Completion during April leaving the Club on track to complete our move in July 2020. Last week Buckingham Group, Stadium Principal Contractor to the developer, Eco World, had to take the serious, but prudent decision, to urgently pause the bulk of the works underway to allow time for the position to be assessed’.

Until recently more than 400 people were travelling to and from work on the stadium site each day. Just three weeks ago Brentford FC were preparing for a West London derby against Fulham and the final nine games of the season, including their Farewell Griffin Park celebrations. Things were looking very positive for the club, then the football authorities announced an indefinite suspension of the game and public gatherings were stopped. The players were no longer able to train as a group, the offices were closed and such staff as are able were asked to work from home, while others have been put on furlough.

Image above – Brentford FC current ground. 

Players wages payment deferred

Premier League clubs are in talks with their players about taking pay cuts. At Brentford FC the Chairman and Chief Executive’s joint statement says:

‘Last week a conversation was initiated between a group of the senior players at Brentford FC and the Club management about how the players could support the Club as we face this challenge as one united team. The outcome of that and subsequent conversations was the First Team players have deferred a significant proportion of their wages until football is back and games are being played without restrictions’.

Captain, Pontus Jansson said:

“The players have been speaking about how we could show the Club our support through a difficult time. Our team spirit has been a big factor in our results this season, so I am very pleased that we, as a united squad, are able to show how much we appreciate being part of this Club.”

Supporting the NHS

The Chairman and Chief Executive’s joint statement continues:

‘The Mayor of London has asked us if we can make facilities and medical staff available to assist with the work being done to tackle the spread of the virus. We are in an open dialogue with the Mayor and local health authorities to see how we can help.

Tickets for next season

Two weeks ago, the club took the decision to move all Season Ticket renewal appointments to telephone calls or online. By 3 April they had sold more than 6,000 Season Tickets and a further 950 Premium Season Tickets in the area known as The Dugout. Once the club has completed selling to their existing Season Ticket holders, they are moving on to contacting their 6,000 Members followed by supporters on their 4,000-strong waiting list.

‘We are confident we will have a record number of Season Ticket holders when we move into our New Home’ the Chairman and CEO said.

“What keeps me awake at night is the thought that we might miss someone”

I’ve spoken to several friends in the past few days who have had their letter from the NHS telling them that because of their underlying health conditions and the drugs they’re taking for them, they need to be ‘shielded’ from the Coronavirus, as they are especially vulnerable. There’s usually a slightly embarrassed reaction to this, or at least in the telling of it, as they have never before seen themselves as vulnerable. These are the educated middle class, more used to managing other people or writing stories about unfortunates who are in some way ‘victims’, than embracing victimhood themselves.

With modern drugs, people who have quite serious lifelong conditions can be high functioning professionals, going about their lives with their condition unknown to friends and colleagues unless they choose to mention it. Now they have to mention it, and to rely on other people. Most of those I know have networks of good friends, enough money to support themselves and access to all the information they need. So far they’ve said “I’m alright thank you”.

But what about those that don’t? Those who are normally quite self-sufficient, but socially isolated and reliant on an income source which has now dried up? Those are the people who councils up and down the land are attempting to reach out to, in order to include them in the help networks being established.

Steve Curran has been a councillor for ten years, and leader of Hounslow Council for six. The Coronavirus epidemic is the biggest challenge he’s had to face.

Images above: Hounslow House, closed and empty

Launch of the Community Hub

Last week the council launched its Community Hub, aimed at providing support to all those who are isolated and vulnerable. His team is working through lists – a list provided by the NHS of those who need to be ‘shielded’, a list of all those who have had dealings with the council’s Social Services, lists of council tenants and people who have contacted their housing department, and those new lists of people provided by the police and by members of the public ringing the council hotline. It’s a huge task, finding all the people who might need help and coordinating the council’s response. Those who are most likely to need help in the way of food parcels and other practical assistance are precisely the people who don’t have computers, smart phones and access to social media.

“What keeps me awake at night is the thought that we might miss someone” he told The Chiswick Calendar.

The council has put in place its command – control systems for emergencies. Chief Executive Niall Bolger is the Gold Commander. He describes himself as a business development professional , a qualified town planner with a PG Diploma Public Administration from Warwick University Business School. He works in conjunction with his own team of council officers, many of whom have been drafted in from other jobs such as librarians, and with the elected Cabinet Office of councillors.

The Community Hub has been a ‘slow burn’ says Steve, because they’ve been waiting for the list from the NHS and for food parcels from the Government, but they received both last week and have started ringing round, asking people if they needed help and delivering food accordingly. The Government food parcels when they got them were “pitiful” he says, with “the wrong type of food. Lots of sugar.” The council has since swapped to its own provider and stocked the food parcels with “juice, milk, fresh fruit and veg, eggs, bread – proper food”.

The people they’ave delivered them to so far have been very grateful. “The urgent and critical list is building up”, he says. “Most people keep themselves to themselves, but we now have a few hundred people on the list who we know need support. We are adaptable and flexible.”

“The response from the public has been fantastic”, he says. At the moment they have more volunteers than they have jobs to give them. “It really has brought out the best in people. I’m very proud of that.” They aren’t able to get people DBS checked quickly enough to be confident to send them out to vulnerable people on their own, so volunteers are channelled through established volunteer organisations.

Images above: Messages left out for the rubbish collection teams. Photographs, Jane Davies

“Let’s build on the positives”

The council now also has access to those volunteers who have answered the call to help the NHS. I ask him what he thinks of all the hyper-local, street based groups which have sprung up over the past couple of weeks.

“It almost goes back to a bygone age” he says, “when there were real communities in the streets. People coming out and clapping has brought a lot of communities closer together. People have got to know their neighbours. I hope that is one good thing that will come out of this, the local groups are very good indeed and we should do more of this in the future. I hope it builds stronger communities and more involvement. Let’s build on the positives”.

Among those who have offered support are Brentford FC, which has put both staff and premises at the council’s disposal. “We’ve had some lovely emails and letters from people offering help” says Steve.

Council Tax Relief

It’s unfortunate, says Steve, that the automated release of Council Tax bills for the coming year happened just as everything was shutting down and people were wondering how they were going to make ends meet.

“Depending on your financial situation, you don’t have to pay your Council Tax right away. In fact you can get up to 100% relief on Council Tax. Ours is one of the most generous schemes in the country”.

Hounslow is not chasing anyone for late payment of Council Tax right now, neither is it chasing rent arrears, or going ahead with any evictions or repossessions. Most of its staff members are able to work from home.

“We’re lucky that when we built Hounslow House (opened a year ago)one of the reasons we moved was to downsize. There are not enough desk spaces, so everyone has been encouraged to work from home for the past two years – the first year on a trial basis before we moved offices, so people are set up to work from home and are used to it”.

Building a new morgue

There is one aspect of this the council leader is not able to put an optimistic spin on. They are having to build more morgue facilities. This is a pan-London response to the epidemic, being organised along the lines of coroners’ areas. A temporary morgue capable of taking 1600 bodies is being built in Hillingdon, he tells me.

“There are well-rehearsed plans in place for this sort of thing, and those plans are now being put in place. I have a weekly conference call with all the leaders of local authorities around the country, chaired by Robert Jenrik, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and another weekly call with leaders of the London councils, chaired by Peter John, leader of Southwark council”.

Not enough testing or protective equipment

Steve Curran is also worried about the insufficient availability of PPE, Personal Protective Equipment. “There still isn’t anywhere near enough coverage” he says. “I am concerned about care homes and the inability to test people for the Coronavirus”.

Does the responsibility for all this keep him awake at night? Yes it does. “I’ve not been sleeping well. I worry about my (nearly 3,000) staff, about the grave diggers and the waste disposal crews, the registration staff. But most of all I worry that we will miss someone”.

If there is anyone you think is in need of council support through the epidemic, they can ring themselves or you can ring on their behalf to have them added to the list for a phone call or a visit.

Call 020 7084 9697 or email


Episode 1: A Preview of Wisden 2020

Cricket authors (and obsessives) Peter Oborne and Richard Heller have launched a new podcast to help deprived listeners endure a world without cricket. They will chat regularly about cricket topics – hoping to keep a good line and length but with occasional wides into other subjects.

In the first, they anticipate the imminent joyous arrival of Wisden Cricketers Almanack, all the more joyous for recalling the most glorious English summer of cricket in living memory. They guess at its nominees for Five Cricketers of the Year and the Wisden cricket book of the year. They share memories of the notable cricketers who died, including Bob Willis, the great West Indians Basil Butcher and Seymour Nurse and, especially, their personal friend, Abdul Qadir, the Pakistani genius who reinvented legspin bowling. They also recall Gary Sobers scoring his last Test century with a monster hangover. They constantly exchange the esoteric facts beloved of cricketers, including Bhutan’s astonishing win over the might of China. In the present crisis, when cricket is banned, they wonder if illegal cricket matches will be played in secret and imagine the easy tactics the police could use to suppress them.

Episode 1: A Preview of Wisden 2020

More Platforms

Not only cricket-lovers should enjoy the humour and insight although music-lovers may quail at the introduction in which the world’s cheapest pianist (Richard) plays his composition Rubato’s Theme.

Get in contact with the podcast by emailing, we’d love to hear from you!

Listen to more episodes of Oborne & Heller

Next episode – Episode 2: Publication of Wisden 2020

Listen to all episodes – Oborne & Heller on Cricket


Images above: Richard Heller with Abdul Qadir; Peter Oborne with Imran Khan

Listen to more episodes of Oborne & Heller

Peter Oborne has been the chief political commentator for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, a maker of several documentaries and written and broadcast for many different media. He is the author of a biography of Basil D’Oliveira and of Wounded Tiger, a history of Pakistan cricket, both of which won major awards.

Richard Heller was a long-serving humorous columnist on The Mail on Sunday and more briefly, on The Times. He worked in the movie business in the United States and the UK, including a brief engagement on a motion picture called Cycle Sluts Versus The Zombie Ghouls. He is the author of two cricket-themed novels A Tale of Ten Wickets and The Network. He appeared in two Mastermind finals: in the first his special subject was the life of Sir Gary Sobers.

Jointly, he and Peter produced White On Green, celebrating the drama of Pakistan cricket, including the true story of the team which lost a first-class match by an innings and 851 runs.

Peter and Richard have played cricket with and against each other for a variety of social sides, including Parliament’s team, the Lords and Commons, and in over twenty countries including India, Pakistan, the United States, Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Australia, Ireland, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Morocco.

More than enough to talk about in a cricket podcast about a season when there isn’t any.

The Podcast was produced by Bridget Osborne and James Willcocks at The Chiswick Calendar.

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

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Hogarth Centre hit by closure

The Hogarth Centre closed its doors on Saturday 28 March. The Centre, which had been doing well with fundraising following a new initiative to involve the local community in fundraising efforts to provide youth services, will now struggle to find funds to continue.

But they say: “We are absolutely determined to return from this enforced period of hibernation, reopen the Centre and restart the youth programme as soon as it is practical to do so”.

Before the Corona virus

Since Christmas the centre has recorded a 14% year on year increase in youth programme attendees. January and February saw a 38% increase in attendances which included a successful February half-term programme. The youth team delivered this 3% below budget.

“The Centre’s submission for the London Youth Silver Quality Mark was very well received” says Chairman Fred Lucas “and we are confident that we will secure this shortly”.

Funding and Awareness

The youth team won a £7,500 Council grant from its Reducing Violent and Serious Crime Grant Programme. They have also gratefully received a £1,000 donation from the Good Luck Charity and £500 from the Rotary of Chiswick and Brentford including Hammersmith. Prior to the shutdown, the Centre had secured a new long term licensee to occupy the only vacant room, found new short-term users of both halls and agreed inflation-linked license fee increases across the Centre. They continued with essential maintenance and also installed the Centre’s first defibrillator to protect both young and old Centre users.

There was to have been a second Open Evening on 14th May to raise the Centre profile with local residents’ associations and church groups, led by Pam Morrow, but this has now been cancelled.

New to the team

Our new part-time Centre Manager, Eilis Devendra, brings a wealth of  useful charitable experience. Jamilla Amra ensured a smooth transition during March and continues in her original role of Centre book keeper.

We have welcomed Jonathan Walker, a retired banker who lives locally, to the Board of Trustees.

Impact of Corona virus

From mid-March attendance numbers and licensee business activity both tapered rapidly. The government’s tighter controls on gatherings and movement left all licensees unable to operate and the youth programme without attendees as parents elected to keep their children at home. We offered to support three local schools with their care programmes for children of key workers, but they were able to cope with the limited numbers attending.

On Saturday 28th March we therefore closed the Centre for all activities, saving money on heating, lighting and cleaning. This is the first time in the Centre’s 50+ year history that it has been forced to close. The second Open Evening on 14th May has been deferred.

The Future

Every UK charity is experiencing difficulties. We have fortunately built some limited financial resilience since starting our journey of independence in January 2019. We continue to minimise expenses and operate as efficiently as possible, adapting as necessary. April sees the Youth Team and Centre Manager working from home and redirecting their efforts to fund raising opportunities.

We are absolutely determined to return from this enforced period of hibernation, reopen the Centre and restart the youth programme as soon as it is practical to do so.

We are especially grateful for your continued support during these most challenging times.

Once again I ask you please to let us know of any organisations, trusts or foundations which you think might support our work.

Chiswick Confined – My Corona Blog Week 2

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 2020, he’s documenting the experience from his last pint in a pub onwards.

Image above: “Devonshire Road this week.  Not as we have been used to seeing it and certainly not as it was in my youth.”

“When we think of the past it’s the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.”

“The Hand Maid’s Tale” –  Margaret Atwood

On being local

If you have read some of my previous Blogs * you will know that I have referred to myself as a ‘local’ (or, as my Lagos friends will say “Omo Ile” or ‘son of the soil’, which sounds so much more earthy) but what is a local?

I was not actually born in Chiswick but was brought up down the road in Hounslow. I was born in a council flat in Pimlico, which was the area where my father’s family were based and where they were bombed out during WWII. My Mother’s family lived next to Hounslow Bus Garage and she went to school at the old ‘Spring Grove Central’. She told plenty of stories about life in this neck of the woods during the war. When my parents were courting the tube only reached as far as Hammersmith so if they went to a ‘dance’ (not discos or clubs in those days) he would walk her home to Hounslow from Hammersmith and then walk back again. Occasionally he would miss the last train and walk all the way back to Warwick Way, near Victoria Station! So many of those stories – but that would be a digression.

When I was about six my parents bought their first house and we moved to Maswell Park Road close to what was then called “Hounslow Southern Railway Station”. After primary school nearby I went to Isleworth Grammar and my sister, three years later, joined the first ever intake of Chiswick Comprehensive that was merged from the Stavely Secondary Modern and Chiswick Grammar Schools. The union of those two schools into a single ‘comprehensive’ school was rushed for political reasons and the first few years were a disaster. The two schools were too far apart and the preparation for what was a very large school for the time was incomplete. The disorganisation gave opportunities for massive truancy and my sister has plenty of tales of bunking off down Chiswick High road with her new mates who came from an estate at the top end of Devonshire Road. Devonshire Road was not then the twee boutique, restaurant and antique-shop filled treasure it now is but was actually the home of the most violent gang of skin heads in West London, as I shall recount.

There are those that bemoan modern life and denigrate attempts to create a multi-cultural contemporary society with the cry ‘it was better in the old days’. There are echoes of this in the resurgence of the ’blitz spirit’ urban myth that falls so easily from the lips of populist politicians. Much of the West London and, indeed Chiswick, of my adolescence was pretty tatty and, it has to be said, violent. One of my closest school friends was from Dale Street, parallel to Devonshire Road.  His childhood memories of those streets were of houses, now selling for around one and a half million pounds, with no bathrooms and broken windows. Most of them were not owner occupied but rented from absentee landlords or the council. In fact, in the early ‘80’s he was effectively squatting in the house that was officially rented to his grand parents (long since deceased), when someone came to the door. The Housing Association was auctioning off these run down terraces and the caller was thinking of bidding for one. He asked my mate Ian if he was prepared to move out for an ‘inducement’. The house was bought for 25,000 pounds and Ian accepted five thousand to vacate!

The inhabitants of that part of Chiswick were far from the high-income owners of today. Ian has a childhood photograph of himself and a neighbour, Mel Smith of Alias Smith and Jones fame, sharing a tin bath in the kitchen. He claims that his grand parents and other neighbours refused to speak to one family in the street because they had been moneylenders during the war. Many blitz families relied on what we now call ‘pay day loans’ with exorbitant rates just to get by – another nail in the ‘blitz spirit’ coffin. By the time I used to catch the bus from Hounslow to meet him in the ‘Packhorse’ or the ‘Packhorse and Talbot’ my memory of Chiswick High Road was of greasy kebab shops. No organic, free trade products in sight. Not that we came this way very often for fear of the ‘Devonshire Road boys’. My usual hang out was the bowling alley in Hounslow close to The Bell Inn. That was the home of “The Hounslow” where on a Saturday night the older boys would stream out to catch the 727 bus to Southall where they would attack young East Asian immigrants. I was too young and already disenchanted with this violent sub-culture and around that time there was an incident that turned me off the skinhead culture forever. **

In those days the old Hounslow Town Hall (I don’t believe the building still exists) was the place to go for the ‘Saturday Dance’. I certainly remember seeing Simon Dupree and the Big Sounds play there and still have the 45-rpm single “Kites” that I must have bought at the time. However, the evening I do remember, for all the wrong reasons was when the singer and Children’s TV presenter ‘Ayesha’ came to play. It turns out a number of ‘The Devonshire Road” had infiltrated (everything was highly territorial) and a skirmish broke out. One of ‘The Hounslow’ was hit over the head with a fire bucket and the skirmish turned into full-on mayhem. I managed to squeeze out and I remember the fighting carrying on into the street. That was the last straw for me and I switched my allegiance to more peaceful activities. However, I was a later a regular on the 727 on a Sunday night to the Farx Music Club in Southall. I would love to hear from anyone who used to go there as there is very little on-line about it.

So, being a local can have different connotations to it. When I was eighteen my parents moved away from Hounslow and I took a different path. Much later and entirely co-incidentally one of my closest college friends moved to Chiswick and his two sons attended Belmont. My work had taken me away to Nigeria where I lived for twenty years or so, but when I did come back for breaks I would always pop round and visit my friends, gradually also getting to know more of their community as Chiswick became more as we know it now. Eventually, when my sons left home and retirement approached I sought a place where I felt I could finally settle and Chiswick was it.

** In fact the original skinhead phenomena had nothing to with the later violent hooliganism.  In our early days that trend was music based and was a code to reflect a love of Blue Beat or Ska music that was, given its Caribbean roots, multi-cultural.  Locally, the epitome of style was ‘The Ivy’ shop in Richmond. Their shoes in particular were so expensive that my first pair were actually second-hand. They also sold Ben Sherman shirts and the ubiquitous ‘monkey jackets’. Doc Martens came a lot later. Around 1968 to 70 (using the respectability they were given by Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech) the National Front high-jacked the fashion as a recruitment tool by getting violent football yobs to sell their newspaper ‘The Spearhead” outside the grounds on match days and racism became a key part of the Skinhead’s make up, which it not originally been.

Read more blogs by Keith

Read the next in the series – My Corona blog Week 3

Read the previous one – My Corona blog Week 1

See all Keith’s My Corona blogs here.

See more of Keith’s work on his website –

Feel free to post any comments or suggestions there or by email to

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.


April 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 April. The Glass Hotel, The Switch and Joy at Work: The Life Changing Magic of Organising Your Working Life are all out in April.

The Glass Hotel

Emily St John Mandel, the award-winning author of Station Eleven, has written a new book called The Glass Hotel. This time it’s not a dystopian or post-apocalyptic tale, instead it’s a story around a life-changing event; the collapse of a massive Ponzi scheme in New York in 2008.

A New York financier, Jonathan Alkaitis, meets Vincent, a beautiful bartender who works at the Hotel Caiette. It’s the beginning of their life together. On the same day, a mysterious figure leaves a written threat on one of the hotel windows. Thirteen years later, Vincent disappears from the deck of a ship.

The Glass Hotel braids together the stories of the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan and the wilderness of British Columbia together. Mandel welcomes the reader into a dream-like landscape of greed, guilt, fantasy and the horrors of our past.

The Glass Hotel is published by Picador on 30 April.

The Switch

The Switch is the follow-up to The Flatshare, Beth O’Leary’s bestselling, breakthrough debut novel. The Switch is a warm and funny story about a grand-daughter, Leena Cotton, and her grandmother, Eileen, who swap houses for two months.

Leena is an over-worked Londoner who is ordered to take a sabbatical. She escapes to her grandmother’s house in a small Yorkshire village for some much needed rest. Eileen is nearly eighty and single and she would like a last chance of love but the village doesn’t have much to offer. Leena comes up with the briliant idea of a life swap but it doesn’t quite turn out how they expected…

Gillian McAllister, bestselling author of The Evidence Against You, reviewed The Switch as “I am blown away. I didn’t think Beth could top The Flatshare but she has. It sparkles with wit, warmth and compassion. It deserves to be huge!”

The Switch is out on 30 March.


Joy at Work

Joy at Work is written by the international bestselling author Marie Kondo, who had her breakthrough with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This time she focusses on the process of tidying up your work life.

Joy at Work promotes the idea that if you simplify and organise your work life properly once, you will never have to do it again. Kondo teams up with organisational therapist Scott Sonenshein to help you focus on what’s important at work so that you can concentrate on building the career you want. What sparks joy in an open-plan office?

Joy at Work is published on 7 March.

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 She used to run the Waterstones bookshop in Chiswick. You can read more about her and Intersaga here.

See more of Anna’s book choices here

Read about the annual Chiswick Book Festival here

Chiswick Playhouse raises funds with ‘buy a seat’ campaign

Chiswick Playhouse has expressed its heartfelt thanks to those who have dontated to their crowdfunding campaign to ‘Help the Chiswick Playhouse play on.’ In just one week they have raised nearly a third (31%) of their target

‘Your words of encouragement and support are keeping the Chiswick Playhouse team’s spirits up during this uncertain time and we are sending a genuine thank you’ the theatre management says.

They are looking for sponsors for the remaining 72 seats and welcome donations of any size. They are asking £200 or more to ‘buy a seat’ but are grateful for any donation.

‘As a self-sustaining company we receive no government funding so your donation really is key to keeping the Chiswick Playhouse alive’.

The theatre closed its doors on 17 March, in response to the Government’s request that theatres, pubs and restaurants close.

Go to Crowdfunder to Help the Chiswick Playhouse Play On.


NHS setting up new Coronavirus clinics

The NHS is setting up special GP-run clinics across North West  London for patients with symptoms of Covid-19. The plan is for there to be a nurse and a doctor, staffed by a rota from local GP surgeries, where people with Coronavirus symptoms can go to be treated.

The location of the clinic serving Chiswick has not yet been confirmed. Plans to make the Wellesley Rd practice the Covid-19 centre were discussed and dismissed. The Holly Rd practice was also considered.

A statement issued by the North West London health and care partnership on 1 April says:

‘The eight Clinical Commissioning Groups in North West London are establishing a joint primary care response to COVID-19. This will include patients being managed both face to face and remotely by GPs. Face to face appointments and support will require dedicated clinics which we are establishing in each borough. If patients have symptoms GPs and 111 will be able to refer patients to these clinics for an appointment when it is required’.

An earlier bullietin on 23 March said:

‘We are setting up special GP-run clinics in Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster for patients who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and need to see a doctor. Doctors from the local NHS will staff these clinics. More information about these clinics will be available very soon’.

GP Surgeries

Those eight London boroughs all come under the umbrella of North West London in a ‘collaboration’ of Clinical Commissioning Groups.

‘Temporary changes are being made to NHS services, to help us deal with the coronavirus pandemic’ they say. They advise checking with the local service you are planning to use, ‘to see if any further changes have been made’ before trying to use them.

GP practices are focused on helping their patients who have COVID-19 and are not operating normally, but are all open 8.00am-6.30pm. They are helping as many people as possible over the phone, only seeing urgent cases face to face.

If you think you have covid-19 symptoms, you should always use the 111 online service for advice. If you cannot get online, telephone 111. Do not go to your GP surgery as this may lead to the virus spreading further, including to practice staff. If you need a GP appointment about another matter, you should stay at home and ring the practice in the first instance.


Hospitals are focused on treating people who have COVID-19. The statement from North West London health and care partnership continues:

‘Do not go to hospital if you think you have COVID-19 symptoms. You should always use the 111 online service for advice. If you cannot get online, telephone 111. You should only call an ambulance in what you think is a life-threatening situation.

‘Operations and surgery that are not clinically urgent or emergencies are being delayed as we need our doctors and nurses to focus on dealing with the pandemic. We are sorry we have delayed treatment and hope to return to business as usual as soon as possible.

‘Our hospitals have dedicated areas for treating covid-19 patients, to keep them separate from other patients. The hospitals are working closely together so that if one hospital has a high number of cases, patients needing a bed may be transferred to another local hospital.

‘Hospital visiting has had to be restricted to one person per patient and visiting hours have been reduced.

Emergency care for patients who do not have COVID-19 symptoms

Emergency care for patients whose condition is serious but not related to COVID-19 will continue as normal. In a life threatening l emergency, you should call 999 as usual.


During this period, we will not be offering outpatient appointments except in the most urgent cases. The hospital will contact patients and some follow-up appointments may be by telephone.


No Post Offices open in Chiswick

Both the main Post Office in Heathfield Terrace and the small Post Office at Strand on the Green have now closed because of the Coronavirus.

The Royal Mail gave out a statement saying:

“Chiswick Post Office is temporarily closed due to staffing issues caused by the covid-19 pandemic including underlying health concerns. It is not known at this stage when this branch and Strand on the Green Post Office, which is also closed due to staffing issues, will re-open.”

Ruth Cadbury MP told The Chiswick Calendar:

“This shows the vulnerability of this vital service that is too dependent on small family businesses”.

Images above: Signs up at the main Post Office, 1 Heathfield Rd

Delivery Office open

The Delivery Office is still open 7.00 – 9.00 am every day except Wednesday and Sunday. They will take prepaid items and returns. See the Royal Mail website for latest information.

Nearest alternative Post Offices

It apologises for the inconvenience and advises that the nearest alternative Post Offices are:

  • The Vale Post Office, 125-127 The Vale, Acton, W3 7RQ
  • Starch Green Post Office, 7 Kings Parade, Askew Road, Starch Green, W12 9BA
  • King Street Post Office, 168 King Street, Hammersmith, W6 0QU

Pay for postage online

The postal service has been inundated with parcels since the shops have closed and the public has switched to ordering most things online and many Post Offices, especially the small ones are closing as they are hit by the double whammy of extra work and staff off sick.

Royal Mail is developing a new way to buy postage online. Once you’ve paid online, you print out a label. If it’s small enough to go in a post box, there is no need to go to a Post Office. Buy postage here.

Find out your family history

Image above: Old Chiswick 

Professional genealogist Gill Thomas suggests how to get started

Gill Thomas is a professional genealogist who has worked on events such as the Who Do You Think You Are? exhibition, helping the public with queries about how to trace their family history. Like the rest of the world, she’s taken her activities online and is planning some interactive sessions about how to do family research. Read her introductory blog and let her know if you would be interested in taking part in one of her online Ask the Expert sessions.

Family history “so compelling I left my job”

Welcome. I seem to have joined the ranks of the ‘bloggerati’ as part of The Chiswick Calendar’s Lockdown-things to do. I began my own ancestral research many years ago when I worked in Marketing, and found it so compelling that I left the corporate world, re-trained and have run my own research practice Who What Where Research ever since.

This is the first blog of the series. I will be covering different topics such as tips on interpreting Census returns; searching for parish records; researching military ancestors; organising your own One-Street Study and DNA testing, but if anyone has a particular topic that would be of interest do get in touch.

I need to gauge your level of knowledge and interest so I can target sessions most usefully, so the more feedback and questions I get from you, the better. I am also going to be researching Chiswick Calendar editor Bridget Osborne’s ancestral history as part of the series, so you can follow the project as it unfolds.

Images above: Gill’s two grandfathers, James Percy Davies (L); Benjamin Arthur Thomas (R)

No time like the present

If like many others you have always intended to start researching your family history but never had the time before, the good news is that there have never been as many online resources available as there are now. Normally I spend a lot of time telling researchers to get out there and visit archives, but in the temporary absence of those – where to begin?

Use your living family

The best starting point is to collect relevant information for all your family members starting with yourself, working backwards through the generations listing key dates (i.e. Births, Baptisms, Marriages, Deaths). Involving older relatives in the project might well reveal useful information about ancestors.

Some family historians like to record everything on paper and there are many free options available online which you can access by searching for family history charts, using sites such as Alternatively, there are various genealogy software packages available so you can store all the information you collect in one place. (This can be doubly useful if you want to share information with other family members and can also be used to print out ancestral charts). Family Tree Maker, Family Historian and Legacy are some of the best-known packages. The internet is full of advice as to which might offer the best solution for your needs. (See for reviews.)

Image above: 1911 census for retired army officer Samuel Moores’ household in Woodstock Rd

UK civil and religious records

Following on from what you have gleaned from family members, your research will most probably lead to UK civil and religious records. Census returns made between 1841-1911 are available online, as is the 1939 UK Register taken for the purposes of evaluating rationing needs.

The subscription websites Ancestry and Find My Past have extensive datasets available, as does Family Search (which is free to access). Scottish information can be accessed via Scotland’s People, a credit-based service.

I should at this point issue a genealogical health warning … do not assume that the family trees posted online by other researchers are correct. Do your own research and keep a note of where you found the source. When I began researching my own ancestral history many years ago, this was the biggest rookie error that I made, which led to lots of wasted time and effort.

Sometimes this can arise as a result of what I term Victorian vanity publishing syndrome, the result of a researcher finding a published/printed family history and accepting it at face value, when instead it might just as easily be re-classified as a work of fiction, no matter how well-intentioned the author.

Images above: Front cover of the West Middlesex Family History Society Journal, March 2020 issue; 1915 pram advert from a shop in Turnham Green Terrace

Family History Societies

If you are not familiar with the area from which your ancestors hailed, it could be very useful to join the local Family History Society. Not only do they have experienced volunteers, but they will have local knowledge. For me, local societies are the unsung heroes of genealogical research. Not only to do they provide unique sources of information, they tend to charge very modest membership subscriptions and often publish a journal a couple of times a year.

Don’t forget to walk the dog

Embarking on your own family history project could be just the thing to engage with during these challenging times, especially to keep the ‘grey matter’ ticking over. But I warn you, it can be all-consuming! Just remember that the dog still needs a walk and you really ought to get up for a screen break and to make a cup of tea every now and again, but on the plus side you can stay in your pj’s as long as you like and no-one will know!

To make this blog as useful as possible, do please send me your questions and thoughts. My next blog will include tips about interpreting Census returns.

Gill is a professional Genealogist and Member of the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA). She also lectures at the Society of Genealogists. If you don’t feel like starting a research project yourself or are looking for a gift for a special occasion, she is also available to take commissions including house histories.