Lyric theatre’s ‘Letters from lockdown’

The Lyric theatre, Hammersmith, together with Hammersmith & Fulham Council, has launched a new play-writing project for the children of key workers who are attending school during the lockdown. Working with Lyric Artistic Associate and award-winning playwright, Simon Stephens, they hope the project ‘will ensure continued creative enrichment’ for vulnerable children across Hammersmith & Fulham.

Teachers from across the borough have been asked to volunteer to provide the sessions which have been designed ‘to encourage curiosity, unlock the imagination and develop creative writing skills’.

Digital opportunities

Over the course of three weeks, the children will create characters and monologues, which will then be performed by emerging actors from Young Lyric. The performances based on the children’s scripts and digitally recorded will be shared with all participants and their families, giving them the opportunity to see their words, characters and stories come to life.

Young Lyric exists to provide opportunities for young people across West London to develop their talent. While the theatre is closed, Young Lyric is still working to come up with ideas to reach young people from all backgrounds.

This video shows an example of the work from Queenswill Primary School.

Video from Lyric Hammersmith’s YouTube channel

Rachel O’Riordan, Artistic Director of the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre said:

‘It is our mission to engage with schools using our specialism of theatre to develop creative talent. This project has been developed for the children in our borough whose parents are working on the front line and who will need that extra care and opportunity to express themselves imaginatively. Hammersmith is our home and we will support the young people of Hammersmith even whilst our theatre is closed. We hope that this project supports the health, well-being, and creative energy of all these children.’

Simon Stephens, Artistic Associate of the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre said:

‘I’m thrilled to be working with the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre’s to take our play-writing work out into the community for the children of key workers who are still coming to school. Primary school children have fearless imaginations. They inspire me to be more daring in my own writing. I can’t wait to see what they come up with.’

Simon Stephens is an award-winning playwright having written over 30 plays. His plays for the Lyric include: Punk Rock, A Thousand Stars Explode in the Sky (with David Eldridge and Robert Holman), Three Kingdoms, The Seagull and Fatherland (with Frantic Assembly).

If you’d like more information, or to make a donation to the Young Lyric community, click here.

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: National theatre announces final set of online productions

See also: Explosion in demand for kittens

Man in the Middle – Chapter 42: Cannabis Gravy

In America you can buy Thanksgiving gravy infused with cannabis which my daughter cites as one example of how good gravy can enhance a meal.

‘Enhance is one word for it,’ I say thinking about the havoc a dose of THC, the chemical in cannabis, might have upon Mother who loves gravy like F Scott Fitzgerald loved Gin Rickey’s.

We’re debating the merits of gravy because we’re planning a BBQ to celebrate my daughter’s recent graduation and the question is: should we serve gravy or not?

For many this would be a non-issue. But I am passionately anti-gravy for many reasons, the key one being that gravy obscures and overwhelms the natural taste of everything it envelops. Poured over meat, it competes with the wonderful umami taste of cooked animal flesh. Slopped over steamed vegetables, the delicate flavour of the vegetable is drowned in a meaty fluid and can anyone tell me what is the point of producing dry, crisp roast potatoes only to soak them in a tsunami of hot, brown liquid with lumps in it like slurry from a quarry? Gravy is fog for food.

‘Gravy is the glue in any roast meal,’ argues my daughter.

‘Gravy is like glue full stop,’ I reply.

‘Only if made badly. Anyway, jus is just pretentious name for the same thing,’ she quips.

‘Gravy is starch gelatinisation disguised behind a homely word,’ I reply.

‘What?’

‘When flour is added to pan juices and heat applied the mixture thickens in a process called starch gelatinisation. That’s what gravy really is.’

‘You need to spend more time thinking about more important things than gravy,’ says my daughter.

‘I accept gravy is a First World problem.’

‘With you, it’s more of an OCD problem,’ says my son.

Clearly, most people wouldn’t waste three minutes of their lives, let alone thirty, debating the pros and cons of gravy. In Maslow’s hierarchy, gravy is a nice to have like self-actualisation, not a necessity like food and shelter. Nor is gravy integral to Boris Johnson’s ‘Bounce Back’ strategy, though I could imagine the word ‘jus’ being banned from all restaurant menus to send a signal to Michel Barnier we won’t hesitate to take back control of our sauces as well as our coastal waters, if the Brexit negotiations get a any more choppy.

‘Surely, it’s important for children to learn to discriminate between jus and gravy?’ I turn to my wife, who’s been sitting quietly beside us through this debate.

‘Let’s not get side-tracked,’ says my wife. ‘We’ve got other more important things to get on with for the BBQ. This argument about gravy is a storm in a tea-cup.’

‘You mean storm in a gravy boat,’ I say, smiling.

‘No. I don’t,’ says my wife.

My mother perks up.

‘You used to have gravy by the bucket as a child. Virtually drank it like water, especially with the Sunday roast.’

‘Really?’

‘Yes. Your brother and you loved it. We used to give you your own separate gravy boats you loved it so much. But you were paranoid about peas.’

‘Paranoid about peas? What do you mean, granny,’ says my daughter hoping her gentle question will unearth the smoking gun to give her victory over me in the case of ‘Gravy versus Jus’.

‘If they didn’t get exactly the same number of peas they’d fight. The only way to stop them fighting was to count the peas onto their plates one by one until they had the exact same number. Imagine it. Literally, counting peas one by one onto their plates before we could get on with the meal.’

‘That explains quite a lot,’ says my son.

‘I was more like a dinner lady in a canteen than a mother,’ she continues.

This complaint seems a little portentous but it does remind me of my brother licking his roast potatoes the moment my father put a plate of Sunday roast goodies in front of him to discourage me from stealing them. I suddenly remember gravy fights, messing around, the dog snaffling food as it tipped from the table, too.

‘My God, there aren’t many good things about getting old. But not having to deal with you and your brother fighting over peas and potatoes is one of them,’ she says.

A shroud falls on the conversation not unlike a grey leaden gravy. Mother lifts a cup to her lips with both hands and sips her tea, silent. My wife googles something, my daughter leaves the room to find her boyfriend. My son asks me a question.

‘You know all this chlorinated chicken business?’

‘The UK / USA trade deal, you mean?’

‘Yup. Do you think we’ll be allowed to import cannabis gravy when it’s done?’

‘I don’t know,’ I say, while realising that cannabis gravy has come fifty years too late to help my Mother stop the Sunday’s squabbles between my brother and me.

Read the next in the series – Chapter 43: Mirror in the Bathroom

Chiswick Confined – My Corona blog Week 15

Explosion in demand for kittens

There has been a surge in demand for the adoption of kittens in LB Hounslow, with at least one adoption centre not able to keep up with the demand.

“I have a huge huge list of potential adopters, and a lot of them just want kittens, which we haven’t got.” Carol Atkinson, Trustee and Treasurer of Hounslow Animal Welfare Society told The Chiswick Calendar.

“The ones we do have are very very young or they’re very very timid because they’ve been born outside and not had a lot of human contact, so they require a lot of work and socialising, so it will be a while before they’re ready”.

People have had a lot more time on their hands over the last couple of months and while this might seem to be the perfect time to adopt, Carol said that is not necessarily the case.

“I think a lot of people have been wanting to adopt more and I think a lot of it is because a lot people are stuck at home and they’re bored, but we’re being very careful because that is not the right reason to adopt anything. What’s going to happen when life goes back to normal? Are they suddenly going to decide that they can’t look after it properly?”.

Population explosion expected

It’s expected that, nationally, around 84,000 extra kittens could be born this year because fewer cats have been neutered during the lockdown, with vets only being able to respond to emergencies.

“We were unable to complete non-essential procedures, such as neutering, which means more fertile cats are on the street which causes a higher number of kittens to be born. Summer is primarily breeding time for cats anyway, so this is just going to lead to an even higher spike” veterinary nurse Anna Garrity told The Chiswick Calendar.

“With more people being at home, more kittens have obviously been bought or adopted which means that more cats are about that aren’t neutered. More cats means more kittens, which then often end up in shelters” she said.

Her grim prediction is born out by the RSPCA, who say since the lockdown began, they have taken more than 600 cats into care. Unwanted kittens have been found dumped in carrier bags and left on doorsteps of veterinary practices, with the RSPCA responding to 6,630 incidents since 23 March. They fear the situation will get worse.

Cat owning ‘a long commitment’

Hounslow Animal Welfare Society has a robust neutering system in place and runs a foster home-style adoption operation. Potential adopters can arrange a meeting with the fosterers in their gardens, where the animals live in big pens. Meeting people this way helps fosterers to evaluate the prospective pet owners suitability and helps to prevent impulsive adoptions.

Carol wants adopters to understand that a cat or kitten isn’t just something you should get to entertain you over the lockdown period.

“I think we’ve all been doing this for so long that we don’t find it difficult to weed people out just by having a chat with them. We’re not asking any specific questions we’re just letting them talk to us and usually does become quite obvious that the ones who are genuine adopters and the ones who are doing it just because they’re a bit bored.”

“These days they can easily live until 20, it’s a very long commitment.”

If you would like more information about adoptions or to make a donation to HAWS, please visit their website:

haws-animals.org.uk

And if you’d like a cat and aren’t bothered about getting a kitten specifically, you might consider giving a home to one of these two beauties. Pumpkin, on the left, and Gucci, right, are both in urgent need of adoption.

 

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Rescued cat’s family completely unaware of rescue 

See also: RNLI rescues ungrateful cat

‘School Streets’ – Parents views

Image above: Cllr Hanif Khan, left, Cabinet Member for Transport at LB Hounslow 

Introducing School Streets to Chiswick

LB Hounslow is introducing ‘School Streets’ in Chiswick, to try and break people of the habit of taking their children to school and picking them up by car. At selected schools, drivers will not have access to streets adjacent to their child’s school at peak drop off and pick up times, but people who live in those streets will still be able to drive there as usual.

How do parents and teachers feel about this? We talked to parents at St Mary’s RC Primary School and Grove Park Primary School in Chiswick to see what difference they hope it will make, and to parents in a couple of neighbourhoods where ‘School Streets’ have already been introduced, to see what impact it has had.

Image above: Bessemer Grange Primary School

Bessemer Grange Primary School – Camberwell

Henrietta Rooney is a parent at Bessemer Grange Primary School in Camberwell. Her school was the first in LB Southwark to have a ‘School Street’ introduced, at the beginning of the 2018 – 19 academic year, when she had three children at the school. Henrietta told us:

“Bessemer Grange Primary School has sites on either side of a road, and narrow pavements, so it was an obvious place to introduce a School Street.

“Probably fewer than 10% parents dropped their kids off by car. There was a subset of people who displayed quite obnoxious behaviour around parking. All that’s stopped. The air pollution levels outside the school no longer breaches the EU safety limit and it’s good for the concentration of the children in school that they’ve had a bit of exercise before they sit down to work in their classroom.

“It’s also changed the social dynamic at the school gate. Whereas people used to be anxious about the road and quite concerned about safety, now they’re relaxed and people stop and chat more”.

There’s now a 300 meter section between the two school sites which you cannot drive through between 8.00 and 9.30am and 2.00 and 4.30pm, unless you live in the street. The school has an arrangement with their local Sainsbury’s that parents can park there if they need to drive. The school is a 10 minute walk (at the pace of a small child) from there.

“We carried out a survey of parents before the change was carried out” she said. “There was one very revealing comment from a parent who said: ‘I won’t be able to park on the double yellow line any more'”.

Image above: Bessemer Grange Primary School

“The school gate felt dangerous and intimidating”

Amy Foster, a teacher at Bessemer Grange Primary School, had this to say:

“As a teacher, the biggest change has been that the start of the day is no longer dominated by altercations and stress related to dangerous parking. We found that many parents who drove to school welcomed the changes simply because even the very short journey from where they’d parked their car to the school gate felt dangerous and intimidating.

“The senior leadership team had many emails from parents citing things like drivers mounting the pavement into family groups, verbal abuse from people asked to turn the engine off and stop idling and people saying they felt ‘there was a fatality waiting to happen’.

“It was consuming huge amounts of staff resource attempting to police the situation; time and energy that ought to have been spent engaging with our families on their well-being each morning.

“One of my responsibilities is to lead the school council and the children on it who have been elected as ‘active travel ambassadors’ say they appreciate the calm and safe space at the end of the day, to chat or hang out with their friends, whereas they were previously rushed away as quickly as possible to get away from what was quite a stressful experience.

“This is echoed by the parents who talk about how it has helped support networks develop due to the fact they can talk to other parents without worrying about the conflict between their children and the traffic”.

First School Street in London introduced in Camden

The first London Borough to try out School Streets was Camden, in 2017, though the first in the UK were in Scotland, in 2015. Camden council made this video with parents and teachers at St Joseph’s Primary School.

 

A Youtube video from Camden Council. 

Funding for School Streets in LB Hounslow

LB Hounslow has been allocated £352,500 by Transport for London for the introduction of ‘School Streets’ across the borough. TfL has also allocated £140,000 to make south Chiswick a ‘Liveable Neighbourhood’. They plan to make the part of Staveley Rd beside Chiswick School a ‘School Street’ and introduce them for Grove Park Primary School and Cavendish Primary School.

Councillor Hanif Khan, the Hounslow Cabinet Member for Transport told The Chiswick Calendar:

“St Mary’s and William Hogarth are already included. Strand on the Green will also benefit from reduced traffic in the vicinity as a consequence of the restricted access zone implemented. We have contacted all schools to ask whether they wish to work with us to reduce traffic and parking issues outside their sites and we are standing by waiting to do so.”

Images above: The School Street at Hounslow Heath Juniors

Image above: St Mary’s RC Primary School, Chiswic, Google Street View

St Mary’s Catholic Primary School – Chiswick

Andrea Carnevali is a parent at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School. Andrea was the driving force in getting funding for the creation of ‘Chiswick Oasis’, the wall of greenery alongside the playground designed to lower air pollution. Speaking to The Chiswick Calendar, Andrea praised the new restrictions that are being introduced, although he prefers not to call them that.

“It’s not so much for the pollution because it’s not a huge difference as the school backs onto the A4, but actually it was a question of safety, because the street is a dead-end. You had all these cars coming all the way down trying to reverse and children, kids all sorts of ages, nursery students, little children were around and it was mess, a real mess. So, we looked into various options, one of them was to close the road completely, which is what they’ve done, the last section of it.

“It can only be a good thing. It’s not going to cause any problems for anyone really, because residents are exempted anyway and parents who still really want to come by car, which I’m hoping will be fewer and fewer people, they just have to stop a little bit before and turn around, sort of like 100 metres before where they used to stop, it’s not too bad really. There’s very very few parents in our school who drive to school anyway really, the ones that do is because they have to go somewhere else in the car.

“We’re kinda getting used to it and getting into the habit of not driving on the way down to school and then eventually, actually we’ll be able to keep this thing in place, this restriction in place. You know, we call it restriction and actually it shouldn’t be called restriction it should just be called what it is. Which is: letting the children walk to school properly, without being almost run over by cars trying to reverse down a narrow dead-end street, so the word restriction is wrong in my opinion”.

St Mary’s has been trying out ‘no car Fridays’ over the past year.

“People really took it on and started using their bikes and the most heart-warming thing was people coming up to me a couple of weeks later saying ‘Do you know what I’m actually going by bicycle, its great’. “It’s about getting people to change their habits, sometimes we just do things by default. So hopefully these new measures in place, lets call them measures not restrictions, will make people get used to something else and actually then realise that, oh you know what, it’s not too bad after all”.

Image above: Grove Park Primary School, Nightingale Close, Google Street View

Grove Park Primary School – Chiswick 

At time of writing, the council is still finalising the exact details of the scheme planned for Grove Park Primary School (which roads will be affected and the hours of operation to be put in place).

The school is broadly supportive of the aim to improve road safety around the school, reduce harmful emissions from idling cars and to encourage children to travel by more active means such as by bike, scooter or walking. In correspondence with LB Hounslow as part of the consultation, Chair of Governors for the school, Professor Neil Taylor described to Tom Sharland, the Senior Engineer for Traffic, Transport and Environmental Strategy, the way commuter traffic cutting through Grove Park is endangering children at the school.

‘Grove Park Primary School welcomes the opportunity to comment on the South Chiswick Liveable Neighbourhood Project. Our response centres on our concern for the health and safety of the children at Grove Park School.

‘The roads around Grove Park School are heavily used during peak periods and the morning school run. We recognise that the volume of traffic has increased substantially since the closure of Hammersmith Bridge, however even if and when it reopens, we feel that the volume and speed of traffic is still a major safety and health problem in the area around the school. Residential roads in Grove Park are used as a cut-through between the A4 and A316 with Hartington Road, Sutton Court Road, Grove Park Terrace and Fauconberg Road especially affected.

‘We are pleased that the Council is monitoring the volume and speed of road traffic.

‘We would like to see a 20 mph speed limit on all residential roads in the area and any other traffic-calming measures, which would encourage drivers to lower their speed or avoid using the local roads altogether. These measures should be backed up with more enforcement.

‘As a school, we encourage sustainable transport and are pleased that so many pupils walk, scoot or cycle to school. However many parents are discouraged from allowing the children to walk, scoot or cycle to school because of the speed of traffic and poor road crossings. Currently the only zebra crossings are on Sutton Court Road. Children from Year 5 (age 9+) upwards at Grove Park are given permission to walk to and from our school on their own (to encourage independence), but they face real challenges crossing local roads.

Not only do cars drive so quickly, but also there are so many parked cars along the roads that it is hard for the children to see round them when they try to cross – indeed they often have to step part way onto the road to do so. The state of local footpaths and roads is poor due to cracked and broken paving stones and potholes in the roads, creating a safety hazard for pedestrians and cyclists.

‘Any measures to improve and maintain footpaths, road crossings and cycle lanes would be welcome.

‘We recognise that a number of pupils are delivered and collected from school by car. These cars occasionally create congestion on Nightingale Close and St Thomas’ Road, often parked on restricted spaces.

‘We would like to see greater parking restrictions and enforcement on these streets in order to reduce congestion, improve road safety and to be more considerate of the school’s neighbouring residents. We have been impressed by the benefits of the ‘school street’ schemes in the London Borough of Hackney and would like the Council to consider the efficacy of a ‘school street’ scheme around the school site.

‘Owing to the volume of traffic around the school, we are concerned about car emissions and their dangerous impact on children’s health. We are particularly concerned about vehicles stopped with engines idling at the level crossing on Grove Park Terrace.  We understand that the Council has a number of air quality monitoring schemes, some of which involve pupils as part of its behaviour change work.

‘We would like to see stricter enforcement against cars with idling engines. In the interests of improving air quality, we would also like the Council to consider air quality monitoring and if appropriate, to work with the Council on some of these projects.

‘We look forward to hearing the results of the consultation and are happy to discuss our comments further with the project team.’

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Hounslow gets funding for traffic schemes

See also: Grove park residents petition against ‘liveable neighbourhood’ proposals

The Reopening of Restaurants and Cafes in Chiswick

Images above: Cakes and salads at Chateau

Since the Lockdown began, we have all been denied the pleasure of enjoying the meals and drinks that Chiswick has to offer, sitting relaxing in the restaurants pubs and cafes, but thankfully our abstinence need no longer continue. As per the Government guidelines, some are to reopen their doors to customers on Saturday 4 July 2020.

In order to ensure the safety of both customers and staff, new measures are being introduced across the retail sector. In restaurants and pubs customers will be asked to make bookings with a limited number of guests per party. Customers will have their table for a limited time so that restaurants and bars can maintain a high customer turnover. In addition, tables are being placed further apart resulting restaurants and pubs will be operating with a reduced capacity.

Among those opening next Saturday for sit down meals will be Pizza Treat, Tarantella, TOR Thai Bistro, Villa di Geggiano, Laveli’s Bakery and Nikki’s Bakery. All are adhering to social distancing measures by removing tables to increase the distance between customers.

Others opening a bit later include No.197 Chiswick Fire Station, opening on the Tuesday 7 July. Social distancing plastic screens have already been set up; customers will be prohibited from standing at the bar and will instead be seated at their booked tables, seating up to six people.

Annie’s restaurant at Strand on the Green will open on Thursday 16 July. Casa Dino in Devonshire Rd has told The Chiswick Calendar they will be reopening just as soon as they can get produce from their regular suppliers in Italy. Bill’s restaurant chain is opening premises in other parts of London, but not in Chiswick as yet.

Images above: Urban pantry’s avocado smash; Angie’s Little Food Shop salads; Chiswick and rice at Pepper’s Indian restaurant in Fauconberg Rd

Many of Chiswick’s cafes and restaurants have remained open throughout the lockdown period, for takeaways and deliveries. Urban Pantry are doing takeaway brunch boxes, Outsider Tart offer cakes, pastries and American soul food and take orders for bespoke birthday cakes. Hack & Veldt, Angie’s Little Food Shop, Tarantella and The Italians have all been doing takeaway food, as have the Grove Park Deli and Peppers in Fauconberg Rd. Tamp coffee shop in Devonshire Rd has undergone a total refit during the lockdown, so customers can come in off the street, queue and buy their coffee and pastries, and carry on past the counter and out the back in a one-way flow.

Images above: Le Vacherin

Some of Chiswick’s best restaurants are saving themselves till last. Le Vacherin is planning on opening on Wednesday 22 July. This date was chosen as the restaurant wishes to gain greater clarification on social distancing guidelines before reopening due to the ‘ambiguity of advice’ provided. La Trompette say they they may not open until early August.

Images above: La Trompette

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Bears ice cream is expanding

See also: New Tex Mex restaurant opens

ArtsEd school ‘over-subscribed’ despite crisis in performing arts

Image above: National Theatre

Influential voices in the theatre, among them Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, President of ArtsEd and Chiswick resident David Tennant, are asking Government to come to the aid of the performing arts. A letter from arts bodies including the Society of London Theatre and One Dance to the Prime Minister, dated 11 June, said:

“COVID-19 has removed all the sector’s trading income at a stroke and thrown business into crisis. Overall, the impact has been immediate and devastating.”

The theatres are haemorrhaging money on expensive overheads, some have already closed for good and some 200,000 job losses among both employed and freelance theatre workers are anticipated.

Not an economic climate in which you’d really want your child to pick a career in the performing arts. I wondered what the impact of all this had been on the Arts Ed, Chiswick’s performing arts schools, which offers secondary school education and BA degree courses as well as a variety of short courses.

Image above: ArtsEd production of Edwin Drood

Growth period for film

Arts Ed’s day school head Adrian Blake was surprisingly upbeat.

“Arts Ed is not a drama school” he was at pains to point out. They teach drama and musical theatre, but they offer an all-round education which is regularly deemed ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted and judged to be one of the best in the country by any league table. They were judged as ‘excellent’ in all categories by the Independent Schools Inspectorate in November 2019. The work they do in performing arts also develops a range of soft skills such as a strong work ethic, positive experience of relationship building and team work. Their students are very employable, whatever they go on to do.

Yes, he acknowledged, if they’d chosen to specialize in musical theatre they may have to ride out the storm for a while as a singing teacher or an acting coach rather than making their debut on a West End stage, but there is plenty of work available in film. Filming is starting up again, in ‘production bubbles’ and Adrian has a number of students waiting to get their filming schedules for the summer.

“If you think about it there’s never been such a growth period for film. Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Google, they’re all making their own content. They’ve just announced the opening of cinemas and it won’t be long before they roll it out to theatres”.

Image above: Arts Ed Day School Head teacher Adrian Blake

Arts Ed ‘over-subscribed’ for September

I suspect that being one of life’s optimists, and radiating positivity are core skill requirements for a head teacher of a performing arts school. But this is not someone who has his head in the clouds. Far from being, as I had feared, under an existential threat, ArtsEd day school and sixth form is, if anything, over-subscribed for September.

“Three vocational schools are closing their doors – the Barbara Speake school * (where Phil Collins’ mother famously taught), Redroofs theatre school in Windsor and the Italia Conti day school. We’ve had over 60 applications just from those three schools”.

*I spoke to the Principal of the Barbara Speake school, Shereen Boucher, who said they were relocating and still hoped to be open again in September, though the impact of Covid-19 on top of the relocation has put their future in doubt. Redroofs closed as a full-time day school In April. Italia Conti announced in May that their school for 10 – 16 year-olds would not reopen next year.

‘Never worked so hard in my life’

The day school at Arts Ed closed on Wednesday 18 March, the day it was announced that schools must shut that Friday, in two days’ time.

“I saw the way it was going and we decided to use the time so we could reopen with full-time online timetable of classes the following Monday”.

The school has been giving its students eight periods a day of online tuition since the first Monday of lockdown and the parents have appreciated it.

“I’d say 40 – 50% of the parents have reached out directly to say ‘thank you, you’re doing a fantastic job’.”

Comments such as:

“…amazing collaborative effort to keep the “ArtsEd show” on the road” – Year 11 parent

“unbelievable effort and a credit to how resilient and inventive you are all being. Well done” – Year 10 parent

“My child is behaving as if he has school. It’s amazing!!” – Year 10 parent

Adrian is an experienced head, who mentors other head teachers, so the school’s success is in large measure down to his leadership, but he says:

“I am enormously proud of the whole school”.

He has 83 students currently in school (at time of writing on 25 June 2020), all of year 10 and all but four of year 12 (who went to their homes abroad and haven’t been able to come back yet) as these are the cohorts who will be taking exams next year.

The year groups are split into two groups who are in school either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday, with a deep clean on Wednesdays. They’re only doing the core subjects in school – Maths, English and Science and either Acting, Dance or Musical Theatre, so they can stay in their ‘bubbles’. Optional subjects such as History and Geography are continued online.

“I’ve never worked so hard in my life” he told me.

Image above: Isabella Pappas in the Arts Ed Concert 2019

The school surveyed its parents about what they wanted them to focus on. He’s aware that he needs to provide not just the academic curriculum but have a mind to the students’ emotional well-being.

“They’ve come back with big smiles on their faces and are just picking up with friendships, but it’s not just about learning loss, but social loss and actual loss of loved ones. A number of students have lost grandparents”.

The assessment of GCSE and A Level grades has proved easier than you might think.

“We do a data drop every half term. Every head of department looks at how their students are doing and how they might help them do better”.

That means that if examiners question the marks, they have a solid factual record to which they can point for evidence. The results will be published on the dates they would normally have been: A Levels on 13 August and GCSE results on 20 August.

In an economic environment where it’s estimated that 10% independent will struggle to stay open, the Arts Ed’s prospects are looking very healthy.

Images above: Zoe Brough in the Arts Ed Concert 2019; Olivia Beaumont in Sex Education

Arts Ed students currently filming

TV, Film and stage production companies which were in the process of filming or rehearsing, have stayed active with virtual rehearsals and script reading sessions. Here are some of the students currently engaged in professional filming.

Isabella Pappas (Year 13) had just completed filming for Finding Alice (ITV) with Keeley Hawes, Joanna Lumley, and Nigel Havers (also an ArtsEd graduate).

Becky Ineson (Year 12) in The Northman for Disney with Nicole Kidman and Alexander Skarsgard.

Louis Moffat (Year 13) was set to be filming Midnight Mass for Netflix in Vancouver but the shoot was postponed due to lockdown, rehearsals have continued but filming has now been re-scheduled.

Zoe Brough (Year 12) due to appear in The Still Room at The Park Theatre.

Olivia Beaumont (Year 9) in Sex Education for Netflix

Find out more about ArtsEd day school and sixth form from their website: artsed.co.uk

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

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Fortitude Bakehouse opens in Chiswick

Fortitude Bakehouse has opened in Turnham Green Terrace in the premises which used to be Borough Wines. The artisan bakery complements Mackens Brothers butchers, the Covent Garden Fishmongers and Lemon and Limes greengrocer, to complete the Happy Families card game set in what has long been the Foodie heart of Chiswick.

The bakery oozes confidence, as befits a shop opened by the couple who run it – Jorge Fernandez and Dee Retalli – who are pretty much royalty in the artisan cafe world.

Jorge is considered one of the pioneers of ‘London Progressive Coffee’, having worked with the Monmouth Coffee Company in its early days, providing a variety of interesting coffees and promoting sustainable trade. They began roasting in 1978 and opened in Borough Market in 2001. Jorge went on to found Fernandez and Wells with BBC journalist Rick Wells.

Image above: Jorge Fernandez behind the counter at Fortitude Bakehouse in Turnham Green Terrace

‘Ten years after meeting in a coffee shop, Jorge Fernandez and Rick Wells have London’s luxe café scene cornered’ wrote David Sexton in the Evening Standard in 2015. They had seven in all, mainly around Soho, in Lexington St, Beak St, Denmark St and St Anne’s Court, as well as a concession in the fashion retailer Jigsaw in Mayfair and a larger venue in Somerset House. Each cafe had it’s own character, but they all maintained the same purity in the quality of the food, the coffee and the look of the place which Jorge has now brought to Chiswick.

The new bakery has the look of a business which knows what it’s about. The look is very simple, stripped back, nothing cluttering the floor-to-ceiling main window so you can see everything on the counter from the street: solid wooden trolleys on castors with a small selection of the day’s freshly baked goods: a variety of buns, muffins, quiches, galettes, beef and onion rolls, spinach and feta filo pastry parcels and a small selection of loaves on the day I went in, laid out on big chunks of wood which are attractive in themselves. Plants from Urban Botannical complete the look.

“It’s the first time we’ve opened anywhere so far out of central London” Jorge told The Chiswick Calendar. “What I love about Turnham Green Terrace is that it’s a shopping destination. We think the Bakehouse will be a good fit”.

The baking is done by his partner Dee, or Deirdre as he prefers to call her. Originally a pastry chef from Ireland, she is credited as the first certified organic baker in Europe and a trailblazer for vegan and gluten free baking in the late ’90s. She was also one of the first to apply sourbough baking to cakes.

Try her Morning Buns. They’re made of ‘triple fermented’ sourdough. I have no idea what that means, but they’re not like anything I’d ever tasted before – light, yet really filling, with the sweet and sharp tastes of the fruit filling and a smidge of custard perfectly complementing the dough. To call it a bun doesn’t really do it justice. We also tried the vegan quiches and the spinach and feta filo pastry. All delicious. She learned how to make the Moroccan buns while living in Morocco, where she also learned the local language. Look out also for her live yoghurt soda bread.

Jorge and Dee met when she was supplying his cafes in central London with cakes, and went into business together when Jorge and Rick decided to part company and wind up Fernandez and Wells. The couple, who are both life partners and business partners, established the Fortitude Bakehouse in Bloomsbury, supplying cafes all over London.

As wholesale demand fell off a cliff during lockdown, they were busy creating their next venture, astutely zeroing in on the new preference for staying local. What’s amazing is that they put the shop together in a week.

“We managed to turn it round in a week from when we picked up the keys” says Jorge. “We’re running it as a six month pop up initially, with an option to take on a longer contract if it pans out”.

So I guess it’s up to us to make sure it does pan out. I am pleased to say that the Fortitude Bakehouse has joined The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme and is offering Club Card members 10% off all that they sell in the shop.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Bears ice cream is expanding

See also: New Tex Mex restaurant opens

Bears Icecream is expanding

Since 2016 Bears ice cream has had a shop in Goldhawk Rd: ‘Bears Parlour’ opposite Ravenscourt Park. Despite the inauspicious times, English / Icelandic husband and wife, Phil Harrison and Vera Thordardottir have just opened a second shop, ‘Bears at the Pavilion’, at the kiosk on Brook Green and are also expanding westwards, offering deliveries to homes in Chiswick, brought to you by pedal power.

The shops are Icelandic style ‘soft serve’ shops, in the tradition of Vera’s home country, where lots of different toppings are on offer and you can create your own flavour combinations.

Besides their soft serve, which is only available in store, they recently launched Bears Scoop Club, an online ordering service of ice creams tubs delivered to your home. These ice creams are all freshly churned & designed by Phil and made to order, using Jersey milk, or rice, oat and soy for their vegan selection. The flavours include unusual combinations such as ‘Salted Pumpkin Seed Nougat’ ice cream and ‘Blueberry, Lavender Jam Meringue Swirl’. Their Double Dark Chocolate Vegan received a Great British Taste Award in 2019.

 

Creatively delicious

Phil used to be head chef at The Anglesea Arms, a gastropub in Brackenbury Village. When they had kids, he decided pub hours were no longer for him, and they set up their first ice cream shop, which quickly gained quite a large fan base.

‘From Salted Pumpkin Seed Nougat ice cream to Blueberry, Lavender Jam Meringue Swirl, Phil’s mission is to surprise and excite the ice cream lover who dares to go off-piste but also appreciates the more classic flavours.’

Where else could you try Beetroot, raspberry and wasabi ice cream, or a Grapefruit & Tonic sorbet G&T, to pair up with your own favorite gin?

Vegans are well catered for, with options such as ‘Choccy Cornflake Danger’ ice cream and ‘Lime, Chilli and Coriander’ sorbet. Children can amuse themselves with the ‘Keep the Kids Happy’ pack.

All their ice creams are made to order. Currently they deliver locally on Tuesdays and Fridays to W3, W4, W6, W12 and W14 post codes. On Wednesday to W5. On Saturdays to SW15, SW13, W11 & W8.

Club Card offer

Bears would like to offer Chiswick Calendar Club Card holders 10% off their ‘Scoop Club’ flavours, delivered to people’s homes in west London by bike on Tuesdays and Fridays. Tubs cost £8.50. Two tubs is the minimum order for free delivery.

Order online here using the promotional code CCC10

Bearsicecream.co.uk

Episode 13: Talking with West Indian Commentator Fazeer Mohammed

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

Fazeer Mohammed has been delighting global audiences since 1987 as a cricket commentator combining ebullience, eloquence and erudition. In anticipating the coming West Indies series, he comments powerfully on support for the BlackLivesMatter agenda not just from the team but among all the people and nations of the West Indies.

He analyses acutely the recent weakness of West Indies in traditional cricket in contrast to their resurgence in T20, and the deep-seated social and structural factors behind it. Offered the role of supreme dictator of West Indies cricket, he offers a set of remedies in 90 seconds.

Above all, he speaks with passion and insight about the art of cricket commentary, especially on radio: for the commentator, it means being a guest in someone’s home and he describes the standards he sets himself for this role.


More Platforms


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, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Australia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Morocco.

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

Classic car show planned for charity

Several owners of classical cars are planning a mini car show next month in order to raise money for Hounslow Foodbox, a local food charity.

The event, which is the first of its kind, will take place on Sunday 5 July on Homefield Road, starting at 11.00am, finishing at 1.00pm. It will showcase a selection of vintage vehicles from the 1940s up to the 1990s.

Howard Sharp, one of the event organisers, told The Chiswick Calendar:

“We want to try to raise money and awareness, so we’re planning an event. We’ve got a few people with classic cars from brands such as Porsche from the 1970s, Daimler from 1960s, MG from the 1940s, a Mini from the early 90s, a Volkswagen Beetle convertible from the 1970s, and possibly one or two other cars.”

“We’ll be displaying by the garages at the top of Homefield Road, where it meets the Chiswick High Road,  and what we want to do is get the people to come and pay a donation, say £5 per person, to come and have a look around the cars and have a socially distanced chat with us or they could just bring a simple bag of food to contribute.”

Food charity sees sevenfold increase in demand

The charity, which is based in Brentford, provides emergency food and support and advice to those who are in need and live in LB Hounslow.

Since the pandemic has taken hold, Hounslow Foodbox has seen a substantial increase in referrals. At the beginning of April, there were as many referrals received in one week as in two months last year which almost exhausted the charity’s food stores completely.

Now more than ever, they are relying on the kindness of the community in order to fulfil referrals to help those less fortunate by donating their time, money or food during this crisis.

If you would like more information about Hounslow FoodBox, or would like to make a donation, you can view to their website here:

hounslowfoodbox.org.uk

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Food bank pick-up points in Chiswick 

See also: Food banks make urgent appeal

Traffic changes – What the Traders think in Devonshire Rd

The traffic restrictions recently implemented on Devonshire Road by LB Hounslow have provoked some strong reactions from traders since they were announced. We spoke to them when the plans were first mooted and went back to see how they felt a week on, (Monday 22 June) now the signs have gone up (Friday 19 June) and it’s become clearer what the new traffic scheme actually involves.

Their initial outrage has softened a bit once it became clear there would be access for customers to drive into the street to load and unload for 20 minutes at a time, but still, many have said that the plans are not working properly in their current form, the signs are unclear and the potential benefits are overshadowed by the problems they will cause.

Hazel Gardner – Frivoli

             
Images above: Owner Hazel Gardner; and Frivoli’s storefront on Devonshire Road

Hazel Gardner has had the Frivoli gallery in Devonshire Rd since 1991, and next year will be her thirtieth anniversary. Her gallery showcases original works of art by artists of many disciplines and exhibits many famous names whilst always seeking out new talent. The gallery is home to many beautiful paintings, items of jewellery, silk scarves, woven hangings, ceramics and sculptures.

Hazel says the traffic restrictions (introduced on Friday 19 June 2020) are already stifling her business and may force her to close up shop.

“It’s just absolutely outrageous, the council is supposed to is supposed to work for the local community not against it.”

“I’m 100% pro-cycling but I can’t get to work without a car, there is no means that I can do it, to get there means a good ten minute walk to the bus stop, then waiting for the one bus that goes anywhere near Chiswick. At the moment with a bus with about seven people on it, so it would be full up in any case [due to social distancing].

Particularly frustrated with the lack of consultation by the council, she says there’s no meaningful way to respond:

“There was no requirement for public consultation with any of these measures from any council, this is a government directive, so they just go ahead and do it, and they were all given very large cash grants in order to make these changes to the infrastructure, but they had to be in place by the end of June which is why it’s happening at a rate of knots.

“But people were not informed until the day that the streets were being blocked off, while it was happening. We received letters telling most of us, not all of us, what is taking place, so there was no prior notice whatsoever.

“On the  website there was this lovely thing that said that they were prioritising cyclists and pedestrians without any clarity about what it is, not any real information, there were these four emojis which you could pick the one that applies to how you feel: A big smile, smaller smile, ambivalent and sad, so nowhere where you could say actually ‘what are you doing?’ or ‘no I think this is appalling’ or ‘why are you doing it here?’… nothing.”

“I’ve sent a number of emails over to Hanif Khan (Cabinet Member for Transport) and to Mark Frost (chief transport officer) and the council which simply, they’ve just blocked them, some came back undelivered and just bounce back.”

“My business is not going to survive, even on Sunday, this Sunday, which is normally a busy day, not a soul. Nobody came by.”

Cecilie Brinckmann – Wild Swans

       
Images above: Inside Wild Swans on Devonshire Road; an example from their website of clothes currently available in store

Wild Swans is a Scandinavian boutique which offers individual, personal styling with an ever evolving selection of labels. Their owner mixes up-and-coming designers with the more established ones and is constantly adding new designers who are not usually represented in the UK.

They are all about about creating a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere in which to shop. Champagne is always served at the weekend and toys are provided for children.

Cecilie Brinckmann, the manager of the Chiswick branch of Wild Swans, is one of the few traders who is happy about the traffic restrictions being put in place but admits that there are problems that have yet to be addressed.

“There’s still cars driving down the road just normally, I feel. There’s lots of traffic still, you can’t walk on the road, you’ll be run over. Cyclists are even going both ways and I’m not sure they’re that they’re allowed to do that.”

“I cycle here, and I don’t know I might be too obedient to the law, but I do respect the one way system and it’s really annoying when other cyclists don’t, and these are grown up people too not like children or teenage boys, it’s like normal grown-ups but I think that’s because… cycling in London they aren’t brought up with cycling rules, cause I’m from a country where we’re taught in school how to cycle and the law and the rules and anyways we cycle everywhere. That’s why I’m so excited about the pedestrianised street because I’m not super fond of cars unless you’re travelling far.”

wild swans fb page     
Images above: A model taken from Wild Swans’ Facebook page; a cycle rack on Devonshire Road

“I know that people here, that’s one of their pet peeves, that cyclists are going the wrong way. So when it is pedestrianised you have to really look out for where you’re going because traffic can come from both ends.”

Cecilie thinks that these problems can be solved with appropriate signage and with the introduction of fines.

“Yeah so I’ve seen the signs that were put up last week which are a bit confusing. Even the people putting them up agreed it was quite confusing as to what it meant.”

“There is still traffic, but I feel like, depending on fines, habits might change.”

​Mike Moran – Top Hat Dry Cleaners

         
Images above: Owner Mike Moran; Top Hat’s storefront on Devonshire Road

Mike Moran is the owner of Top Hat, which was founded in 1967 when Mike’s parents opened their first shop in Kingsley Road, Hounslow. Mike had started in dry cleaning while still at school, starting at ‘Welcome Laundry’ in Isleworth and moving on to ‘Reliable Cleaners’ in Feltham.

By the time he left school, Mike was already an old hand at dry cleaning and was soon ready to open his own business. Top Hat offers a range of services across its Chiswick and Hammersmith branches, including dry cleaning, laundry, repairs and alterations.


Images above: Behind the scenes in Top Hat Cleaners

Mike has criticised the council for being misleading about the plans that were initially proposed and also with the signage that has been introduced.

“We were told initially that is was going to be a three month trial and it’s for social distancing, because the virus is there people will need a bit more space to walk around the pavements. We’ve got no problem with that at all we want people to live to then come back and shop with us again. But now, it’s changed to a six month trial which means people will change their habits, because they will go to another dry cleaners that’s easier to park near.”

“They’ve put these two big great concrete boxes in, which are really great for the environment to make those, and then they’ve put signs on them and if you look at the signs, they are completely inaccurate.”

“People aren’t driving down the road, vans are stopping at the end of the road and then trying to reverse back out onto the High Road.”

“So how would my customers know that it’s actually okay to come down and park for me for five minutes, in and out?”

     
Images above: The concrete planters & signs which have been installed at the top of Devonshire Road

“The signs are very very poor, the signs outside the loading bay still only says commercial vehicles only which basically excludes cars.”

“Whoever has designed this plan should not have a job. Or, they come down to the road and have a look and see what the problems are and say ‘I’ve dealt with this before we need to do it this way or the other’ but none of that has happened unfortunately, and unfortunately as much as people want to blame central government this is what Hounslow council want to do. This has been heavily led by local Chiswick people who want to cycle the wrong way down a one-way street.”

Mike is worried that the benefits, if any, of the traffic restrictions will be short lived and will negatively impact his business in the long-term. He says that he even may be forced into an early retirement, if the situation does not improve.

“Come September … a lot of the fair-weather cyclists won’t be cycling so they’re looking to close a road and it’s not going to be giving us the benefits that they want.”

“If they continue this for six months and then further on, I won’t be here, I’ll have retired, I’ll have sold my shop for a pound and I’ll have gone.”

Chris Couch – Tribe Contemporary Rugs

     
Images above: Rugs in-store

Tribe, which sells contemporary rugs, was started in 2001 by husband and wife team Derek Owen & Rebecca Tyndall, with Chris Couch joining the team in 2004, building on their early success. He previously worked in the London design and branding industry where he gained his eye for colour and design.

Chris says there are plenty of issues about the implemented traffic restrictions, and is worried about the repercussions if they are left in place.

“I think there’s massive challenges to be honest, because unless you change the signage… unless it’s made a little bit clearer for people then, you know, people are sort of driving up to the sign and then sort of trying to turn back onto Chiswick High Road. It will cause more congestion and it will probably cause an accident. So, I think until the signage is physically changed it’s going to continue to cause problems, for us as traders but also just generally for people trying to move around Chiswick.”

The temporary infrastructure put in place, along with signage, is Chris’s biggest worry on the matter.

“Signage is definitely the issue, I mean you’re not going to change the fact that we’re losing a lot of parking spaces, but they’re about to change the two metre rule, I mean obviously we don’t know that for definite, but it seems pretty likely.

“So the whole exercise seems to be poorly executed and doesn’t seem to be planned terribly well. Now I know the council has been under pressure about having to do something quickly, but the signs are very misleading and there’s also sort of no evidence that the parking has been suspended because the cones that are put out, which are like standard traffic cones, just get moved and there’s no camera enforcement.

“The signage is confusing people, they look at the road and the road doesn’t look any different, so sort of visually some people sort of expect to be able to drive down the road some people are stopping and turning around; it’s not really working as they want it to work.

“It has been a massive issue for traders who are coping with COVID and we’re just coming back as well. I couldn’t open properly until last Monday and we’re dealing with very low footfall and then the council does this as well so it makes it doubly difficult. They don’t seem to have put any effort into thinking how it’s going to affect traders in this current environment and they’ve not helped at all.”

Chris has made attempts to contact the council about the changes, but feels that talks won’t yield much fruit.

“I have started some sort of dialogue with Hanif Khan but I don’t see how that’s going to lead to something positive. They need to try and work with us instead of seemingly trying to work against us. There’s definitely gonna be an accident or there’s going to be some sort of road rage incident if they don’t pull their fingers out. Either do it properly or don’t do it at all.”

Penny Ledbury – Chiswick Lighting Company


Images above: Chiswick Lighting Company’s storefront; examples of lighting they sell

Penny Ledbury grew up in Chiswick as did her father and grandfather, and the Chiswick Lighting Company has been around, in some shape or form, since 1965. It sells a wide range of decorative & elegant lighting. Penny says there are a few challenges which need to be addressed in order for the plans to work as intended. She agrees that the signage is confusing.

“To the layperson it looks like you might not be able to come down at all so it’s not clear that you can come down for loading, so I think they need a bit more clarity to be honest.”

“Guy Lambert and Anif Khan both said that. They are considering changing the plans because they’ve had multiple comments on that, I do think they need to be much clearer.”

Penny was not impressed with the planters which have been installed, which she says don’t particularly make sense.

“I really don’t understand why they’ve put massive grey planters on the pavement if they’re trying to encourage social distancing either? I think they were bought to block the road and then they realised they couldn’t block the road so they’ve plonked them on the pavement.

“They’re horrible. They look like something from Chernobyl, they’re horrible. And think as well if they’re trying to encourage cycling it would have been far better to plonk on more cycle racks where there already are some, so people can park their bike, where are they meant to park their bikes when they’re shopping? You know, I don’t know where they’re meant to put them.”

Penny feels that the plans were rushed through and left local traders in the dark.

“There’s Steve Curran saying we’ve all got to work together, but to do that we need to know what’s going on. When Mark Frost walked down the road last week it was ‘Yes you can turn right into Glebe Street’ and this week you can’t. The problem is just not being communicated with really, I think.

“We’ll see, we’ve all kind of accepted that it’s happening but it seems a bit of a rush and a bit of a hash-job to be honest, those planters I don’t understand at all.”

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Transport Schemes – details

See also: Councillors admit there will be traffic chaos at first

Sales of ‘beautiful book’ vital in supporting Gunnersbury estate

Friends of Gunnersbury Park and Museum have been encouraging park-goers to buy a ‘beautiful book’ about the estate’s history.

Using three decades of research, Friends of Gunnersbury Park & Museum have collaborated with Scala, a specialist publisher for museums and art galleries, to make the book a reality.

Described as “The story of the place and the people” is told using local and specialist archives, images from the museum collection, archaeology and oral history. It is richly illustrated, with maps, paintings, prints and photographs making it feel interactional for readers.

Gunnersbury 3      gunnersbury 2
Images above: a watercolour painting by William Payne in 1792, on display in Gunnersbury Park Museum (left) and a photograph of a gathering at the 1926 public opening, where Neville Chamberlain gave a speech (right).

“We’ve been gathering information about the estate for 30 odd years so we’ve got fantastic information. We thought that when the museum was reopening, the one thing they really ought to have in their shop was a little book about the estate.” Val Bott, a co-author of the book, told The Chiswick Calendar.

“We wanted to produce something beautiful, and Scala produced a beautiful book. They specialise in heritage books and they use fabulous paper, good designers and everything is illustrated.

“It absolutely isn’t a guidebook, it’s a story. Everything you read in the book and see in the pictures relates to things you would see on-site. You can still see part of the 17th century Garden Wall, you can still see the 18th century Royal Garden and we’ve talked about the way the landscape has changed. There’s also lovely historical maps and watercolours in the book so you can stand in the park, with the book and imagine what it was once like.”

The book takes the story of the park from the Middle Ages, when Gunnersbury initially belonged to the powerful mistress of a medieval king, covering centuries of history up until the present day. The book marks the completion of the recent and extensive conservation programme, leading up to the park’s centenary in 2026.

The book was being sold in the Gunnersbury cafe & museum which brought in a steady level of sales.  Unfortunately due to the coronavirus pandemic and last month’s fire, the cafe is in ruins and is still considered a crime scene, blocking off a vital stream of revenue for the foreseeable future.

“The burning down of the cafe is a real disappointment as they were about to re-open for takeaway which would have increased sales. We lost stock too, around 200 copies” Val said.

With sales now nearly completely online, Friends of Gunnersbury hope they can increase the online footfall so they can continue their support of Gunnersbury estate.

If you would like to buy the book, go to the Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society at:

brentfordandchiswicklhs.org.uk

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Fire destroys Gunnersbury Park cafe

See also: Rothschild carriages go for a checkup

MPs support Rupa Huq’s bill to stop anti abortion protests outside clinics

MPs have voted in favour of Rupa Huq MP’s Private Member’s Bill to put a stop to protests outside abortion clinics.

A Private Member’s Bill, or Ten Minute Rule Bill allows a backbench MP to make his or her case for a new Bill in a speech lasting up to ten minutes. If the MP is successful the Bill is taken to have had its first reading. Rupa’s bill was passed by 213 votes to 47.

Just the first step for the bill – but great to see such support for women being able to access healthcare without fear of harassment or intimidation” Tweeted the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

The bill would create “buffer zones” around the health centres and keep demonstrations 150 metres away from facilities.

The MP for Ealing Central and Acton said women should be able to access abortion clinics in “safety and dignity.

“This is about the rights of vulnerable women to access healthcare in safety, anonymity and dignity without accompanying paraphernalia to induce guilt like grossly inaccurate quasi medical leaflets or being filmed or live streamed entering and leaving the clinic which no other procedure would attract.”

Ealing Council voted in April 2018 to ban anti-abortion protests outside clinics, when women with appointments at the Marie Stopes clinic found they were having to get through a crowd of anti-abortion protesters to gain access. The protesters, who call their demonstrations ‘vigils’ are usually religious groups. Nearly 4,000 residents signed a petition to ban the protesters from the site.

At the time, Ealing was thought to be the first council in the country to issue such a ban. Rupa’s bill seeks to make it nationwide.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: LB Ealing launches Ealing Together

See also: Ealing Councillors highlight Trust’s young carers project

 

 

Man in the Middle – Chapter 41: The Death of Patriarchy

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 41 The Death of Patriarchy

Father’s Day. 07.30am. I sneak downstairs hoping to catch the family by surprise as they lay out a smorgasbord of gifts for me.

I’ve cleaned my teeth, shaved for the first time this week and put on fresh pyjamas because I want to look respectable opening my presents at the breakfast table.

Last Father’s Day, I shuffled downstairs a little the worse for wear and with an old egg yolk stain on my T-shirt to receive a volley of abuse from Mother, who said my slovenliness was disrespectful to the efforts of my wife, children and those who died to defend freedom in the world wars.

I want to avoid this year’s celebrations getting off on the same footing. If my family have made an effort to buy me lots of presents and prepare me a full English the least I can bring to the party is fresh breath, a pink chin and jimmy jams as clean and straight as a brand new ruler. I’m feeling so money supermarket.

I creep past Mother’s room. She is asleep, snoring gently, probably dreaming about ‘Avengers: The Age of Ultron’, which we watched as a family last night.

She enjoyed the movie but was horrified at the number of cars, houses, shops, trains, planes, office blocks and streets which were turned over, smashed up, pulled to pieces, bombed to the ground and generally messed up by the Avengers team.

‘We would never have destroyed so many sets when I was at Denham. We couldn’t have afforded the insurance,’ she says, reflecting on her war time role as an assistant editor. My daughter, who’s back from university, tries to explain the sets are not real but made with CGI and the devastation wasn’t inflicted on real streets and buildings.

‘It’s more like a cartoon than anything,’ she explains. This explanation seems to satisfy Mother.

‘The stuntmen are much better than in my day, especially that green one,’ she says pointing at Hulk as he tears up the outside of a tall office block, ripping out windows as he goes.

As I tip toe down to the ground floor, I am not worried by the fact Mother is not awake. She’s been delegating her gifting obligations to my wife or daughter for years now and has probably had her full of watching me opening presents. Or maybe she’s had a bad night with cramps.

But as I step into the sitting room, I start to feel something is amiss. The curtains are still drawn, a coke can lounges on the carpet. There are no cutesy Father’s Day cards or packages with name tags on them only the sagging balloons saying Happy Birthday left over from my son’s 18th birthday earlier in the week. In the kitchen, no one is around. There are no piles of gifts, just plates in the sink.

The place is like the Marie Celeste, devoid of life, not even a pot of coffee warming on the stove for me. I can almost hear the walls mocking me with the faint echo of my son’s last game of ‘Mortal Kombat’, finished only a few hours before: ‘Die, die, die’, it says.

This is how the patriarchy ends, then. Not with a bang, but a whimper. Not with a sold-out farewell tour to Fatherhood, but a sink full of unwashed plates. I realise I have no right to be disappointed, of course. For Millenia, women have woken up every morning and faced a sink full of dirty dishes with no thanks. Why shouldn’t I suffer the same? And, to be fair to the family, there’s been lots to organise this week: two events for my son’s 18th; the return of my daughter after months in lock down and a crunch week at work for my wife. Father’s Day was understandably just one event too many for them to think about. Perhaps they thought letting me watch both Premier League football games yesterday was gift enough?

I give myself a little time to brine in vengeful thoughts, like a Medici Pope. I invent sarcastic jokes for when the family come downstairs, but none of them quite zing:

Q: Who put the fun into Father’s Day?

A: I don’t know. I couldn’t be F***ing bothered to get out of bed that day to find out.

OR

A: I don’t know, I outsource that sort of stuff to Serco.

I realise I’m going to have to work a lot harder before I get anything into the Father’s Day Book of Jests and Japes, when my daughter’s boyfriend comes into the kitchen.

‘Morning,’ I say.

‘Morning,’ he says.

‘Father’s Day,’ I say.

‘Jeez, I had no idea. I better go text my Dad right now. Thanks for reminding me,’ he says and shoots upstairs to get his phone.

Father’s Day is a $12bn event worldwide, apparently. I don’t believe this is a real figure based on hard cash and goods. It’s just fraudulent accountants toting up the so-called goodwill value of tweets, texts and WhatsApp messages hurriedly sent by guilty family members when they realise that they’ve forgotten to put the date in their diaries.

To console myself I unwrap a couple of my favourite sausages from Huntsham Farm, who produce the finest rare-breed meats. I pop them into a pan on a low heat. These sausages will be solace enough for any Father’s Day breakfast.

I look out into the garden, any vengeful feelings slipping away slowly as the sausages spit and sizzle. The cat is sitting in the middle of the lawn, meowing. I open the patio door. The cat leans forward and picks up a dead mouse in his jaws and slinks towards me, dropping it at my feet, like a gift.

Read the next in the series – Chapter 42: Cannabis gravy

Chiswick Confined – My Corona blog Week 14

Keith Richards, writer and resident of Chiswick, living on his own, has been 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.

Day 91 – Tuesday 23rd June 2020

“In the midst of each epoch, I fully realize that a new epoch will dawn.”
Marcel Duchamp

Looking east from Chiswick I wonder if there really is the dawn of a bright new post-Covid world on the horizon. Is it a responsible government in Westminster or the financial imperatives of the City that is dictating policy? Every day there is another step towards ‘normalisation’ I wonder if our government is managing this process or whether there is another process that is managing the government. Whether it is from anecdotal conversation or just what I see with my own eyes it seems that the daily briefings just seem to announce ‘decisions’ that just confirm what is already actually happening.

The lack of confidence in the official control of the progression just seems to enhance the anxiety that some people feel, while giving licence to those who no longer feel briefings and guidelines actually mean anything. It seems to me that we are in a kind of limbo world that superficially looks as if we are heading to what people laughingly call the ‘new normal’ yet somehow is some distorted half dream, half nightmare. I seldom watch these ‘briefings’. If I catch glimpses on the news or on twitter, posted inevitably to illustrate some new act of insensitive folly, my head superimposes a soundtrack of some maniacal organ grinder in which Hancock is some demented dancing monkey.

The platitudes that come out of politicians’ mouths just seem so contradictory to any genuine analysis that at times I feel I am part of some real life disaster movie. The Orange-Kungfluquoting-Klansupporting-spittoonbrained numbskull’s dysfunctional election campaign against a backdrop of BLM protesters and right-wing lynch mobs just makes the moment even more surreal.

Sometimes I just feel that I. Do. Not. Know. What. The. Fuck, is going on. Is anyone out there in charge of anything? Is there a driver of the bus that I am sitting in? Or maybe I really am in one of those 1940’s style psychological thriller cum horror movies where the tram is hurtling down the hill and the driver turns round and the face is a grinning skull – except in my movie the face is no skull, it’s a weirdly alternating Trump/Johnson visage.

Bump. Ugh. That feeling when you suddenly dream you are falling out of bed and wake up with a lurch.

I went down the pub on Saturday. In fact, over the weekend I went twice. Now, I have made it clear that this ‘Corona Blog’ started with my last pint in The Raven and it will officially end with my first pint back at The Raven. So these pints don’t count. They are, errm – research! There are so many boozers open for take away pints near parks, public spaces and particularly the riverside and they are booming.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing? It is not for me to deny anyone the right to do what I was happy to do. Saturday afternoon son George and I walked along the river and across to Barnes. There were plenty of people out but generally there was reasonable respect for people’s distancing. There were a few cyclists where they are not meant to be but it was relaxing. Walking along there was a mix of ages and of multi-generations of families but once we crossed over and joined the queue at The Waterman’s Arms in Barnes the average age was well down into the late twenties/early thirties.

I have to say, the organisation, the sanitation and insistence of distancing in areas within the control of the pub, was excellent. That too is my experience of The Black Lion by the Upper Mall along Hammersmith Riverside. In Barnes, a ‘milk carton’ of four pints of Harvey’s Sussex Bitter between us went down a treat as we lent against the wall along by the river and it was pretty easy to maintain a distance from other ‘pods’ of people. I suspect that as the evening wore on that was going to become more difficult.

This picture is the Upper Mall around 8.00 pm Saturday. Relaxed, mostly but not exclusively a young crowd but more of a mix than Barnes. However, the closer you got to the pub the denser the crowd. And here is the problem. No matter how responsible the pub is, it was pretty obvious to me there is only so much they can do when their customers are out in the open. After a couple of pints, the inhibitions start to slip and, with it, all those things like distancing, personal space and sanitisation.

Then of course, the bladder gets full. Some pubs seem to have opened their toilets. I think that is technically against whatever rules there are but is clearly the right thing to do because I know that some residents near public spaces are suffering from anti-social urinating around or in their gardens and driveways. These issues all illustrate the difficulty of the move to open pubs on 4 July that the government have been signalling along with a reduction in the required distancing down to one metre.

The details on how to order, how staff sanitise themselves and the toilets, how any food is served is yet to be made clear. That the dementedly dancing monkey said on the Marr show that customers could sit ‘back to back’ in pubs showed how utterly out of touch he is – has he actually even been to a proper pub? There are suggestions that people will have to register and I hear some pubs will only allow customers who pre-book a table.

I want to have that pint in The Raven. I want the shops and cafes and small businesses in Chiswick to be able to re-open and to survive the Covid crisis. I want to be able to jump on a bus or a tube and visit friends. I want to meet them in a restaurant in town and compare post-covid feelings over a glass of wine on a clean white table-cloth. I want to be able to take a Euro train or a ‘plane to visit my sister in Spain. But, I won’t deny it – these things make me apprehensive.

I do not want to see more of the build up in traffic. I do not want to see the queue of ‘planes on the skyline beyond my balcony. I do not want my rediscovered love for birdsong to be submerged back into the cacophony of urban living. I have enjoyed the sound of children riding their bikes, following their parents like baby ducks and breathing air that is substantial less polluted.

I want the NHS to get back to looking after patients whose operations have been postponed or whose cancers have resurfaced. I want all those doctors, nurses and key workers of ethnic minorities who have suffered exponentially so that the rest of us have an NHS to turn to, to stay safe. I want children and students to return to their studies but I want teachers and care workers to stay virus free. I want a government that can consider these contradictions in an open, transparent manner, in the best interests of all residents of the UK regardless of ethnicity, colour, gender and religion and devoid of pandering to the vested interests of an unelected elite. Some chance. I am going down the pub.

* Dawn Photo Credit – George Richards after all all-nighter to complete a Uni Assignment.

Please comment by email to keith@outsiderinside.co.uk or on twitter @outsiderinside1 – check out the daily Blog on my website outsiderinside.co.uk

 

Design by appointment at Neptune

By Barbara Chandler @Sunnygran

Neptune – an interiors brand whose first product was a hammock made by founders John Sims-Hilditch and Giles Redman in 1996 – is now a nationwide chain, which encompasses most everything for the home from candles and cushions to paint, lighting, furniture, upholstery, beds and even a complete kitchen.

Of their 26 showrooms nationwide, just three are in London, and one of those is in Chiswick, an impressive affair with a good run of windows towards the Gunnersbury end of the High Road. “And we’re open again and ready for business,” says store leader Anne-Marie Stavros. On her team are Bethany Brown, kitchen designer, and interior consultants Leva Kivakaite and Lucy Kidd (Bethany and Lucy are in the picture).

Neptune have an easy-going elegant style that oozes relaxed chic, with a broad palette of neutral shades and natural materials. “But we can be traditional or contemporary,” adds Anne-Marie. Dive in and you’ll find a surprisingly large warren of rooms, all carefully kitted out, with the surprise of a courtyard at the back. Ready to explore are four kitchens, three living rooms, and two bedrooms. At the centre, a studio with paint charts, fabric samples, curtains poles and other ingredients to complete a beautiful room.

There’s oodles of space to keep your distance, and a one-way traffic flow. Nevertheless, they are currently restricting visitors to 15 at a time, or seven couples.

Design sessions are by appointment, and you can start with a free consultation for any part of your home. Lasting up to 90mins, this can be by video should you prefer. Then the design for a complete room costs £350, which is deductible from orders over £5,000. Installation and styling complete the service – but may be delayed due to Covid.

Shining out from the window is their beautiful new Saffron paint shade. And inside you’ll find a cosy den all done out in Ink, a blue that’s nearly black. “We’re getting a lot of orders for both of these,” says Anne-Marie. “They’re the slightly unexpected colours you need to see to realise how well they work.”

So what makes up the Chiswick clientele? “This area is full of families,” says Anne-Marie, “but we also get a lot of cool young professionals. We’re a little bit out of the way, and people are thrilled to find us.”

305-307 Chiswick High Road, W4 4HH; Tel: 020 3814 1220;

Neptune.com

Barbara Chandler writes for the Evening Standard Homes & Property section.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: “Sofa distancing” at Sofa Workshop

See also: Shoppers discover loyalty to local traders

 

Business as usual at the Fuller’s Griffin Brewery

Return to work? Some workers never stopped!

For the Griffin Brewery it has been business as usual over the past couple of months. They’ve had to make a shift from producing keg and cask beer when the pubs shut, to filling far more bottles and cans, as we’ve been drinking a lot more at home. Now they’re gearing up for the pubs reopening and they’ve also reopened their on site shop.

The brewery is usually open for tours. Climbing around the steel staircases which wind between the vats of fermenting beer with a guide is a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours, especially as the tours end in the Hock Cellar for a tasting. Public tours, free to holders of a Chiswick Calendar Club Card, were sadly the first casualty of the lockdown at the brewery. The brewery shop, where the tours usually start and finish, was also closed to the public at the same time as pubs and most shops across the country.

But production has continued apace. While the pubs have been closed, at home alcohol purchasing increased on average by 40% (between 20% and 60% depending on the brand). According to The Grocer, trade magazine for food and drink retailers, the British public splashed out an extra £160m on supermarket booze in the first three weeks of March ‘as the coronavirus crisis swept shoppers into a frenzy’.

In March off-licence sales of alcohol soared 31.4% in volume terms. Online sales jumped to more than 22% of all sales, compared with an average of 18% over the last year. With pubs closed it suddenly became all about bottles and cans rather than kegs and casks.

“We’ve certainly been keeping busy here!” says Steve Hadcroft, General Manager at the Brewery. “While pubs and restaurants have shut up shop, demand for our products has remained high. So we’ve been working hard as a team to get them out to our customers across the UK and beyond.”

“These are extraordinary times but there’s a terrific team spirit. Everyone has pulled together to tackle the challenges and to ensure we’re operating in the right way. Our number one priority throughout has been the safety and well-being of our colleagues. We put in place a number of measures including social distancing controls, adjusted shift patterns and enhanced hygiene practices.”

“We’ve also been looking at the small things we can do to support the community. Alongside the London Pride campaign to fundraise for the National Emergencies Trust, we’ve donated several thousand products to the grocery points that have been set-up at various hospitals across London, for doctors, nurses and other staff to enjoy on their much-earned downtime. We’ve also been making our own hand sanitiser on-site in Chiswick, using a WHO approved formula. We felt was important to have enough for our staff while helping to preserve external supplies for key workers.”

Online sales up 1500%

Asahi’s other facilities have all been carrying on production too, and people have been turning to online shopping to get their hands on their favourite pints. That has kept Jessica Davis and her retail team in the brewery shops on their toes:

“With everyone locked-down at home, we’ve been handling a huge increase in online orders – probably 1500% more than normal for this time of year which we have managed with no interruptions and most items being delivered the very next day. Lots of those orders are local customers who might normally come into the shop, but we get orders from as far afield as Inverness.

In the first few weeks, a lot of people told us they were missing a proper pint in the pub, so we’ve also brought back our five and ten litre mini-barrels that we usually do during the festive season. The challenge here was for our production team who have had to find a way to fill these by hand and who have gone out of their way to help us keep up with the demand.”

“We are happy to announce we reopened the brewery shop on Wednesday (17 June). It will be open every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 2.00-6.00pm. We’ll have all the precautions in place – hand sanitiser, protective screens, contactless payment, capacity limits – so that’ll take some getting used to, but we’re all really looking forward to seeing customers again”.

Fuller’s London Pride supports the National Emergencies Trust

The brewery have also launched a London Pride campaign to support the National Emergencies Trust – a fundraising appeal which supports a range of charities helping people affected by the coronavirus emergency. If you make a donation through London Pride’s donation page or through the online shop, Asahi will match your donation, up to £50,000.

dowhatyoucan.net/LondonPride

The focus for the brewery now is on gearing up for the ‘new normal’. Initially, that will mean supporting the tricky task faced by pubs across the UK, forced to shut due to CoVID-19, of disposing of old beer that’s been sat in kegs in cellars.

Keg beer will have to be thrown away

The shelf life of a keg of beer is only three or four months, and it will be July at the earliest before any of the pubs reopen. The British Beer & Pub Association estimate that some 70 million pints of beer will need to be destroyed. But the brewery team are already gearing up to start supplying keg beer again as soon as they’re able. Ian Olner is the man in charge of making sure the Fuller’s London Pride pumps can start flowing again:

“Most of the cellar and bar equipment has been dormant for a couple of months, so actually three weeks isn’t that long to get the pumps ready for restart”, he says. “My team are already going into customer’s pubs (suitably distanced) to give everything a once-over and provide technical support where needed.”

“The whole industry has been through an incredibly tough few months and I’m very proud of how all our colleagues have risen to the challenge. Our focus now is on helping pubs and restaurants to get back on their feet and pouring as quickly as possible”.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: 15 June Shops reopen

See also: LB Hounslow economy expected to be second worst in whole of London

 

Iconic Riverside Studios Bounces Back

If the importance of an arts venue can be measured by the number of celebrities who gallop to the rescue at a time of crisis, Riverside Studios is a true cultural icon.

TV personalities Stephen Fry, Jo Brand and Eddie Izzard are just some of the famous names who came to its aid when the venue was closed by COVID-19. Since the end of April they’ve been presenting online quizzes to raise cash for the embattled institution.

Because, while all theatres are currently struggling, March’s lockdown came at a particularly calamitous time for Riverside. The brand new complex, including studios for TV and theatre, cinemas and a top-notch restaurant, had only recently reopened after a five year closure for rebuilding work. Worse still, the project had left the Studios with a debt of more than £20 million.

Enter Fry, Brand and Izzard, along with fellow Riverside quiz hosts Gyles Brandreth, Dara O’Briain and actor Robert Bathurst. John Lloyd, producer of quiz show QI and Blackadder, devises the questions and helps with presentation.

Tony Lankester

The centre’s Interim Executive Director, Tony Lankester, says “We’re not paying the presenters, we haven’t paid John. Everyone’s done it just out of generosity, which has been fantastic.” So far more than 1,000 people have attended the events. And, in keeping with Riverside’s dual commercial and charitable functions,ten percent of the proceeds are going to help five local NHS hospitals.

Presenting his quiz in May, Fry told the audience the celebrities were all keen to help.

That’s because Riverside is part of Britain’s cultural DNA. Many of the quiz presenters have appeared at the Studios. And even if you haven’t physically attended a Riverside show yourself, you’re likely to have seen something that’s made there.

From the 1930s, it was a film studio, producing classic British films. Then the BBC took it over, using it to record iconic programmes like Hancock’s Half Hour and the early Dr Who series. Later still came Top of the Pops, Chris Evans’ TFI Friday and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Writers like Samuel Beckett, Allen Ginsberg and Margaret Atwood have worked there, as have stars like Helen Mirren, David Bowie and Amy Winehouse.  

Samuel Beckett leaves rehearsals at Riverside, 1984 Photo credit: John Minihan/University College Cork

So when Tony Lankester left his home in South Africa last September to join Riverside, he knew expectations were high. Less than a year later, he’s facing the Herculean task of getting the massive arts centre up and running again in an era of social distancing, while chipping away at that £20 million debt.

Asked about the debt, Lankester admits “It is a big number. It’s a scary number”. But he’s quietly confident. He says Riverside has taken up assistance offered by the Government, including furloughs for some of their staff. And, he adds they’ve been lucky to have an understanding Dutch bank, Triodos.

He’s constantly in touch with the bank, keeping it up to date on new plans. “So they can see we’re not just sitting around and being all gloom and doom, we’re being proactive about it, we’re doing things. We’ve mapped out the next couple of months and we know that we’re going to see it through, bar any sort of curve balls that might come our way”.

And Lankester is certainly doing a lot. The quizzes have helped to raise cash, as has reopening the bakery and coffee shop for takeaways. When the Government gives the go-ahead, the restaurant will reopen. And Tony hopes to be able to reopen the cinemas by the end of July, to coincide with the release of the much-anticipated Christopher Nolan film, ‘Tenet’.

“Our fortunes are tied to the release of that film at the moment”, he says. “That’s going to be the one big film that gets people back into the cinemas worldwide, I think, not just in west London… people have been waiting for the film, there’s a lot of buzz around it, it’s going to create a lot of noise.”

The biggest question mark of all hangs over relaunching live theatre at Riverside. Even when the Government gives the go-ahead, Lankester says, it’s a question of weighing up public appetite and financial viability, given the challenges of social distancing.

“Because it’s all very well putting a film on a pressing ‘play’. You‘re not incurring huge expenses to do that. But as soon as you put a live production on stage, then immediately you’ve got actors to pay, you’ve got the director to pay, you’ve got lighting designers and so on. So there’s a whole ecosystem that needs supporting. And if your capacities are only 15 – 20 – 30 people in the theatre, obviously it’s difficult to cover those costs.”

“So it’s a juggling act. We’ll open the theatre as soon as it’s financially viable and practically viable. I would like to think that it will still happen this year. But we just have to keep an eye on it.”

Meanwhile, Riverside continues to earn cash by renting out its studio space to TV companies. One studio is being used to film BBC One’s Peter Crouch: Save our Summer which goes out on Saturday evenings. A different production company has just signed up to use another studio until October.

Riverside’s TV facilities, Lankester says, means  “we have an advantage that not a lot of other theatres have. A lot of them are really in distress and they’re staring at the bottom of the barrel.”

In the interim, Riverside is continuing with its online community engagement programme, Digital Dive In, offering everything from yoga to film and book clubs, storytelling and dance classes for children.

And, of course, those online celebrity quizzes, which have attracted publicity and quiz fans from all over the world. But Tony says they won’t continue beyond the current run of six, which ends on July 8th.

“We’ll draw it to a close. We’re not going to go beyond that. Because by mid-July, I think, Zoom-fatigue will have set in. I think, frankly, far better to say we’ve done six, they were great, let’s draw the curtain. And from the middle of July, I think we need to turn our attention back to opening up in the real world. We just don’t want to overstay our welcome.”

riversidestudios.co.uk/community/digital-dive-in

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Bedford Park Festival online talk: Frank Matcham and the Chiswick Empire

See also: Bedford Park Festival online radio play: Dusted with Sugar

 

 

 

 

 

 

Councillors admit there will be traffic chaos at first

I phoned Cllr Hanif Khan, LB Hounslow Cabinet Member for Transport, and Cllr Guy Lambert, Cabinet Member for Highways, to try and clear up a few things about the traffic changes in central Chiswick which I was still unsure about (Monday 22 June). I’m not sure whether I should be outraged or reassured at their refreshing honesty. The truth is they weren’t sure either.

My first question was:

The new signs were installed at Devonshire Rd and Turnham Green Terrace on Friday (19 June). When do (or did) the new restrictions come into force?

Cllr Khan, to be fair, was on a roof at the time, struggling with Japanese knotweed. He opted to phone a friend. Cllr Lambert (who answered the phone ‘Public Enemy Number Two’) decided to wing it.

“We haven’t actually got the cameras yet” said Guy. “We work on the basis that most people try and obey the law. We’re very unlikely to be fining anyone for quite a while because it will take time for people to get used to it. People are still trying to drive down Wellesley Rd (closed to through traffic on 4 June) ignoring all the signs and having to turn round and drive back. They’re even still trying to drive down Church St in Isleworth” (closed in 2015).

After consulting with his traffic officers, Cllr Khan told The Chiswick Calendar:

“The scheme is currently in force, however the council is reviewing the signage and continues to work to improve compliance with the suspensions. Enforcement can commence when all works are complete.”

Ah yes, the signage.

“What does ‘except for access’ mean and how will people know what it means?

They are both unhappy about the lack of clarity in the signage and the way in which the changes have been communicated to residents. The delivery of an explanatory letter detailing the proposed traffic changes in Chiswick (which you can find here) was somewhat patchy. It went to some households but not others. The sign itself, taken as read, without further elucidation, would leave you none the wiser.

The fact is you can access the road to get to the shops and restaurants, but only if you are disabled, and a blue badge holder, or if you are loading or unloading, in which case you can stop for 20 minutes. You can drive in to Devonshire Rd to access Prince of Wales Terrace, so you can get to the garage there – Capital Motors, but you can’t turn right from Devonshire Rd into Glebe St. You can drive in to Turnham Green Terrace to access Turnham Green Terrace Mews. What you can’t do is just drive through without stopping.

They weren’t prepared to be too specific on the issue of better signage, but they were clear that there will be further refinements to the signage in due course (meaning, I think, as soon as they can order it and get it printed). The pressure from the Government on councils to introduce measures to dissuade people from using their cars means there’s a similar frenzy for buying traffic signs and planters now as there has been for PPE in recent weeks.

Images above: Cllr Guy Lambert; Cllr Hanif Khan

What if you drive in, with the intention of stopping to load or unload but there isn’t a space, so you have no choice but to drive straight through?

Or you mean to go to the garage in Devonshire Rd, or to Chief coffee shop in Turnham Green Terrace Mews, but you accidentally overshoot, as both have narrow entrances which are easy to miss?

TBC.

Hanif said: Good points both, which they will take away and consider.

Guy said: Assessment of violations will be judged with the opportunity to make your case as to why you have apparently transgressed. It won’t be enforced rigidly.

Is the one-way system for cyclists on Devonshire Rd still in force?

They both confirmed it was. In practice there is very little enforcement of traffic rules for cyclists.

Guy lived in Chiswick for 20 years before moving to Brentford, so knows the area well and also cycles here. He would like to see Devonshire Rd become two-way for cyclists.

Hanif told The Chiswick Calendar:

“Devonshire Road is currently one way southbound from the High Road to Ingress Road and that applies to cyclists too. The council is actively looking at where we can make one way streets two way for cyclists and Devonshire Rd may be a location we will consider for this programme in time.”

Why has this been introduced with such haste, without being completely thought through?

Guy:

“We were instructed by the Department of Transport to introduce schemes which would encourage walking and cycling. It’s a large borough, with a lot of schemes and we’ve had very little time. Some of the details will be modified undoubtedly”.

“We believe it will not harm business. It will be good for the environment in Chiswick and in other parts of the borough”.

Hanif:

“The network is behaving differently at the moment and government requires us to take steps to reallocate road space away from private cars as ‘swiftly as possible’. These changes will then be monitored and any impacts reported at the point where we determine whether or not we should make them permanent.

“There are over 1300 parking spaces in Chiswick town centre. We have suspended less than 50 and also put on 9 extra disabled parking bays so those with mobility impairments have more chance securing parking”.

Both promised to listen and make adjustments once the initial confusion over the changes has settled down. Both stressed that the council planned to err on the side of leniency until people have had a chance to get used to the changes.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Transport Schemes – details

See also: Hounslow gets funding for traffic schemes

Hounslow gets funding for traffic schemes

Hounslow has received more than £1m from Transport for London to carry out its walking and cycling schemes, more than many of the other of the London Boroughs which have applied for money.

Transport for London has allocated £22.26m to 24 London boroughs for ‘emergency interventions’ such as strategic cycle routes, school streets, low traffic neighbourhoods and pedestrian space in town centres.

The budget has been made available to encourage ‘active travel’, as part of the Mayor of London and central Government’s strategies for responding to the COVID-19 epidemic.

According to the Cycling website Road.cc, the bulk of the money, £12.64m, has been allocated to strategic cycle routes, with £4.29m for low traffic neighbourhoods, £3.56m for space in town centres – things like widening pavements – and £1.75m for school streets.

Money spent in Chiswick

In Chiswick, LB Hounslow bid for money to make changes to Turnham Green Terrace and Devonshire Rd, and to make the area south of the A4 a ‘Liveable neighbourhood.’ That includes the introduction of traffic cameras along Thames Rd, which cost £20,000 each and the installation of signage to create three ‘School streets’ beside Chiswick School, Cavendish Primary School and Grove Park Primary School.

Hounslow has been allocated £352,500 for the introduction of ‘School Streets’ across the borough – ie. closing them temporarily at drop-off and pick-up times to anyone who is not a local resident, to stop parents dropping of their children by car.

The borough has been given £250,000 for creating space for walking and cycling in town centres. Work has already started on that in Chiswick with the installation of big concrete planters and new road signs in Turnham Green Terrace and Devonshire Rd.

TfL has allocated £140,000 to make Chiswick South a ‘Liveable Neighbourhood’ by introducing a variety of measures designed to prevent people just driving through the area to get from Chsiwick Bridge to the A4, avoiding Hogarth roundabout.

It has also earmarked £10,000 to make Wellesley Rd and Stile Hall Gdns a ‘Low Traffic Neighbourhood’, which the council has already done by closing off both roads to through-traffic.

Hounslow comes ninth in the table published by Transport for London for the amount of money they’ve been allocated, with £1,062,500 for nine projects. LB Ealing comes 18th on the list with £205,714 to cover eleven less ambitious projects.

You snooze, you lose

Faced with a barrage of criticism that Chiswick residents hadn’t been consulted, Leader of Hounslow Council Steve Curran told The Chiswick Calendar last week they ‘didn’t have time’ to consult more widely before bringing in the changes in Chiswick as temporary measures under their emergency powers. If they hadn’t acted fast they would have lost the opportunity, he said.

This appears to be bourne out by a comment made by a spokesperson for TfL to cc.road reporter Laura Laker:

“We are checking in with each borough weekly, as the pace of delivery is going to be so fast, so that if there are any delays we can switch the money to other projects” they said.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said:

“We’ve now approved 3 rounds of funding for my #SteetspaceLDN plan to keep our roads free from congestion, supporting 508 projects worth £22m across 24 boroughs: 114 low traffic neighbourhoods, 154 school streets, 202 town centre changes, 38 strategic cycling schemes.

The money handed out by TfL represents about half their budget for walking and cycling schemes, with more to be announced in the coming weeks.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: All Chiswick Transport Schemes – details

See also: New traffic system installed on Devonshire Road and Turnham Green Terrace

Chiswick Transport Schemes – details

New traffic measures introduced in Chiswick

Hounslow Council’s Transport officers sent out a notification to Chiswick residents on Friday 12 June of the details of the various transport schemes which they are introducing, and in some cases have already introduced in Chiswick. Not all households have received the letter and many people are still unclear exactly what is being introduced where, and when.

The Wellesley Rd and Stile Hall Gardens changes were made on Thursday 4 June, along with the change to the railway bridge in Dukes Meadows. The Wellesley Rd and Stile Hall Gardens changes had already been notified as part of the adoption of Cycleway 9.

The Devonshire Rd and Turnham Green Terrace planters and signage went up on Friday 19 June. At time of writing, the changes have yet to be introduced to South Chiswick.

Letter from Hounslow Council’s Transport department

From: Environment, Culture & Customer Services Transport, Parking & Environmental Strategy

London Borough of Hounslow
Hounslow House,
7 Bath Road, Hounslow TW3 3EB

Your contact: Transport
Contact Number: 0208 583 3322
Email: traffic@hounslow.gov.uk

Our ref: Chiswick Transport Schemes

Date: 12 June 2020

Dear Sir or Madam,

Hounslow Streetspace Programme
Chiswick Area Transport Schemes

In line with statutory guidance issued by Central Government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Hounslow Council is accelerating the introduction of measures to reallocate road space to pedestrians and cyclists, and to create more space for businesses to safely reopen.

These measures are designed to provide more space for people to observe social distancing and will improve road safety for those making trips on foot or bike. The number of people using these modes has increased significantly in recent weeks given official advice remains to avoid public transport. The measures have been informed by responses to out Streetspace consultation and will also support wider council priorities to improve air quality and address the climate emergency.

As part of this programme a variety of schemes are being accelerated and details of these can be found below.

Devonshire Road – Trial Road Closure

The council are progressing a trial road closure of Devonshire Rd, between its junctions with Chiswick High Rd and Glebe Street, with the intention of reducing traffic volumes by preventing through traffic. The closure will still allow access to Prince of Wales Terrace for residents, businesses and associated visitors, whilst some loading / unloading and blue badge parking facilities are being retained in Devonshire Road to ensure those requiring these facilities are not adversely impacted.

The loading bays in Devonshire Road will be for all vehicle users who are picking up or dropping off items at businesses and not just those traditionally classified as ‘goods vehicles’. Loading / unloading will be limited to a maximum stay of 20 minutes.

The existing pay and display parking bays, where not being used for loading or blue badge parking purposes, will be suspended thereby ‘widening’ the footway and increasing the social distancing capabilities for pedestrians.

Page 2

Direct access from Chiswick High Rd to Glebe Street through Devonshire Road will not be permitted as part of the trial road closure. The existing southbound one-way system in Devonshire Road, from Chiswick High Road to Ingress Street, will be retained as at present.

The scheme will be enforced by CCTV rather than physical measures, therefore, ensuring the permitted exceptions identified overleaf are not prevented by the changes.

Duke Road – No Entry (except cycles) from Chiswick High Rd

A restriction on motor vehicles entering Duke Road from Chiswick High Rd will be introduced, resulting in fewer turning movements at the junction, reducing the risk of conflict with cycles and pedestrians.

Access will be maintained via Dukes’s Avenue – Bourne Place. Cycles will be exempt from the Duke Road restriction.

Fishers Lane – Trial Road Closure

We are looking at options to reduce motor traffic movements at the railway bridge, to improve the environment for cyclists. Access for buses will be maintained, to ensure services are not disrupted. We are in discussion with London Borough of Ealing (as part of the Borough boundary lies immediately south of the bridge) to agree the details, and the final proposals will be clearly signed as and when they are introduced.

Stile Hall Gardens and Wellesley Road – Road closures

Road closures at the junctions of Stile Hall Gardens and Wellesley Road with the A205 (South Circular) were introduced on Thursday 4 June. Access for cyclists has been maintained, as has access for motor vehicles into Stile Hall Gardens from A205.

South Chiswick Liveable Neighbourhood

This combines a range of schemes across the Grove Park and Dukes Meadows area that focus on increasing the number of trips made by foot, bike and public transport while improving local public space.

The projects include, but are not limited to, the closure of Dan Mason Drive underneath the railway line to traffic, limiting traffic to ‘access only’ in Strand on the Green and Thames Road, school street schemes around Grove Park Primary School, Cavendish Primary School and Chiswick School and a closure of Harvard Hill to northbound traffic.

Further details on the Liveable Neighbourhood project can be found via the council’s website, including more detail on the trial measures, a report on the consultation work undertaken to date, traffic data for the area and a frequently asked questions section:

houslow.gov.uk/info

Turnham Green Terrace – Trial Road Closure

The council are progressing a trial road closure of Turnham Green Terrace with the intention of reducing traffic volumes by preventing through traffic. The closure will still allow access to Turnham Green Terrace Mews for businesses and associated visitors, with some loading/unloading and blue badge parking facilities being retained in Turnham Green Terrace to ensure those requiring these facilities are not adversely impacted.

Page 3

The loading bays in Turnham Green Terrace will be for all vehicle users who are picking up or dropping off items at businesses and not just those traditionally classified as ‘goods vehicles’. Loading/unloading will be limited to a maximum stay of 20 minutes.

The existing pay and display parking bays, where not being used for loading or blue badge parking purposes, will be suspended thereby ‘widening’ the footway and increasing the social distancing capabilities for pedestrians.

The scheme will be enforced by CCTV rather than physical measures, therefore, ensuring the permitted exceptions identified on page 2 are not prevented by the changes.

In addition to the trial road closure, the council will also be constructing a buildout to extend the footway adjacent to the bus stop outside Nos. 2-12 Turnham Green Terrace which should improve social distancing capabilities for both those waiting at the bus stop and pedestrians using the footway.

The changes mentioned in this letter are being implemented in response to new central government guidance which requires local authorities to make changes to their networks “within weeks”. It is anticipated that some of the changes mentioned in this letter will become operational towards the latter part of June or early July, however, all changes will have on-street signage in accordance with relevant legislation.

The government requires councils to introduce measures “within weeks”, and it is anticipated that some of the changes mentioned in this letter will become operational towards the latter part of June or early July. All changes will be signed on-street in accordance with relevant legislation.

Further information about Hounslow Council’s Streetspace programme can be accessed via the Council’s website: hounslow.gov.uk/streetspace

A number of these changes are being introduced as Experimental Traffic Orders and the council will review feedback received over the next six months before determining whether they should continue beyond that time. If you have any questions or comments, please get in touch using the contact details above and referencing the relevant scheme, eg. ‘Devonshire Road Closure’, ‘Duke Road Closure’, etc. in the subject line.

Yours faithfully,

Transport, Parking & Environmental Stragery
London Borough of Hounslow

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: New traffic system installed on Devonshire Road and Turnham Green Terrace

See also: Traffic schemes “upset traders” – Cllr Joanna Biddolph

Traffic schemes “upset traders” – Cllr Joanna Biddolph

Turnham Green Ward councillor, and leader of the Conservative Group on Hounslow Council, Joanna Biddolph has criticised LB Hounlsow’s new traffic measures in central Chiswick, and called on Cabinet Member for Transport, Cllr Hanif Khan to change his mind about the scheme, which restricts vehicular traffic to Turnham Green Terrace and Devonshire Road.

“In over 20 years of involvement with retailers and businesses in Chiswick, initially working with them and now as a councillor and through the Chiswick Shops Task Force, I have never known any proposal from Hounslow Council to arouse more opposition from traders and residents” she said.

“Nor have I ever seen traders more worried about their futures. Just as they were about to re-open after an enforced closure, with determination to rebuild their businesses for our benefit, they learned that Hounslow council doesn’t want to help; it wants to make it even more difficult for them.

“It is not just the technical deficiencies in the proposed schemes for Turnham Green Terrace, Devonshire Road and Chiswick High Road that have upset our shopkeepers. Nor is it only because of the decision to ignore the government guidance to consult traders (including those who haven’t re-opened yet). And it isn’t just the absurdity of trying to carry out major changes when other significant road works had already started on Chiswick High Road, and others were already scheduled on Devonshire Road. It is the council’s refusal to listen, even now, to their concerns or to consider modifications to ease the worst impacts”.

All about ‘public safety’ says Hounslow Cabinet Member for Transport

Introducing the first phase of the new traffic scheme in May, Cllr Khan said:

“A range of traffic management measures are being rolled out across Hounslow in west London to help keep pedestrians and cyclists healthy and safe during the coronavirus pandemic. The projects will create more space for people to follow social distancing guidelines. They include closing some roads, widening pavements, improving cycling routes and introducing more ‘school streets’.

“Hounslow Council is also launching a public consultation to get ideas from residents on ways they think traffic can be managed better and streets made more pedestrian and cycle friendly.

“The council has a duty to ensure that people can get around the borough safely while following the government’s strict social distancing guidelines to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

‘Ill-thought out’ says Cllr Biddolph

Cllr Biddolph says:

“We all accept that the Coronavirus pandemic has changed everyday life. We have to live with social distancing now, and might again later if there is a second peak. There is a willingness to try new approaches – introducing school streets, for example, has been widely welcomed. But the pandemic has also made the already precarious lives of many traders in Chiswick even more difficult. They do not deserve the imposition of ill-thought out changes in road use and parking that in some cases could cause their businesses to close.

“The council must stop claiming that traders do not need the stop and shop parking that the council was itself until now keen to support.

“The council must stop pretending that vehicle access is just about deliveries. It is about shopping – residents spending in several shops in one trip, loading carrier bags into their cars, deliberately supporting our local retail economy. And it is about making life easier for older or disabled people.

“The council must stop claiming that Devonshire Road is a “rat run”. Traffic is light because it’s a road to nowhere else, it’s a road to here – to our homes in the Glebe Estate, to the alphabet roads, to the river, back to the High Road, to our friends’ homes right here in Chiswick. And to the local neighbourhood shops we value and want to succeed.

“The council must stop claiming that Turnham Green Terrace is a “through route”. It is a B road, a local road for local people that takes residents from one part of the ward they live in to another, and from one Chiswick ward to the next. We don’t live our lives within local authority ward boundaries; we all have friends or family – and go shopping, to the doctor, to the vet, to church – in all wards in Chiswick, in the three Hounslow wards and in Ealing’s Southfield ward.

“Since the announcement of these proposals I have been determined, with my Chiswick councillor colleagues, to work with the majority group to find a positive way forward for residents and businesses.

“We now need the cabinet member for transport, Cllr Hanif Khan, to listen to the concerns that have been so powerfully expressed by the people whose lives and businesses will be the most significantly affected – and to change his mind.

“It is not too late. Sometimes in politics it takes more courage to admit you have got something wrong than to stick to an indefensible position. Come on Hanif. Stick up for Hounslow residents. Stick up for Hounslow traders. Stick up for Chiswick. And ditch these unnecessary and unwanted restrictions on your residents’ lives and your traders’ livelihoods.”

‘We had to do it quickly and want community feedback’ Cllr Hanif Khan responds

In response to Cllr Biddolph, Cllr Khan had this to say:

“Yes, I have seen her letter and have noted her points. The Government’s own guidance requests that we make changes to the network as ‘swiftly as possible’ which precludes widespread engagement ahead of implementation. Consultation is being undertaken on these schemes in tandem with the trial however and we look forward to community feedback which will be taken into account when we determine whether to make any aspects of the programme permanent or not.”

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Residents and traders react to car ban

See also: Bedford Park residents split on car ban

 

Episode 12: Talking with Mickey Arthur, Sri Lanka’s National Coach

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

Mickey Arthur has been Sri Lanka’s national coach since February this year. He has resumed his work there with the players after a strict lockdown. Before Sri Lanka, he coached three other national sides – his native South Africa, Australia, and Pakistan. This represents a world record which will take a long time to equal.


More Platforms


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, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Australia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Morocco.

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

Artists (Staying) At Home

The annual invitation into the homes of some of west London’s best loved artists has become a virtual invitation this year, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since 1973, artists based in Chiswick, Shepherd’s Bush & Hammersmith have been inviting members of the public into their homes to view (or buy) their jewellery, paintings, sculptures, drawings, photography, ceramics, glassworks and textiles.

‘This year, it is not possible for us to open our homes and meet you face to face, but our artists still have so much to share with you. On this site, you can browse our work, make enquiries and save your favourites. If you wish to purchase something this can be done directly with the artist.

‘This is an exciting chance to discover new original work for your home and to talk to artists about how they create’ said the organisers.

The event starts at 6pm on 19 June.

Images above: a selection of work by various artists taking part in the event.

If you would like to preview artists work before the event, you can sign in or register for a free Artists at Home account.

For more information see the Artists at Home website:

artistsathome.com

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

Artists Stay at Home – Annette O’Sullivan

Artists Stay Home – Arabella Harcourt-Cooze

Rescued cat’s family completely unaware of rescue

The family of a lucky cat recently saved from the Thames river have said that were completely unaware of the incident until seeing it online several days after the event.

The black cat, Merlin, was rescued by Chiswick Lifeboat on Tuesday 9 June from the rising tide, whilst a concerned crowd looked on. Reported by The Chiswick Calendar and picked up by the Daily Mail, the video of the panic stricken cat cut off by the tide, hissing, spitting and clawing as a Chiswick Lifeboat crew tried to save it, was all over social media and broadcast by Sky News.

Speaking to The Chiswick Calendar, Nick Delmas, the cat’s owner said:

“To be honest, I had no idea he had gone through this until I saw it on one of the news pages. We were out on Sunday and my son was here. And I think it was on Wednesday I found out that this had taken place. I saw a video and said ‘That looks like Merlin our cat’, so checked it a few times and was like ‘Yes it is!’.

‘I spoke to my son and said “Did Merlin come back wet on Sunday afternoon?” and he said “Yeah, he came back wet and I didn’t know why.”

 

Video above: The rescue operation, courtesy of the RNLI

Grateful for the RNLI’s help in getting Merlin back home safe, the family wanted to give a shout out to the incredible work the organisation does.

“We see the RNLI every time we go down [to the river] and yeah we’re big supporters. The work they do is great”.

Nick’s son Etienne popped down to the Lifeboat station to say thank you in person. Merlin was unavailable for comment.

If you’d like to make a donation to the RNLI please visit their website:

rnli.org

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: RNLI crew rescues ungrateful cat

See also: RNLI: Don’t get caught out by the spring tides

Councillors say traffic plans make south Chiswick ‘unliveable’

The three councillors for Chiswick Riverside ward have said that new traffic proposals for the area south of the A4 are transforming south Chiswick into “an unliveable neighbourhood”.

In an open letter to Councillor Hanif Khan on Tuesday 16 June, the LB Hounslow Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transport, Mike Denniss, Gabriella Giles and Sam Hearn wrote:

‘As councillors representing the Chiswick Riverside Ward, we write to express our deep concerns about the impact on residents of the measures announced on Monday 8th June. These measures emerged from a poorly advertised fact-finding exercise carried out late in 2019 that most residents were unaware of.

‘We believe that none of the measures currently scheduled to be implemented between July and September should be introduced until a full public consultation has been held and officers have had the opportunity to amend the experimental traffic orders accordingly.

‘The work by officers in 2019 confirmed that there was a serious problem caused by car drivers using the area as a cut-through between the A316 and the A4. Following the closure of Hammersmith Bridge, November traffic volumes of over 8,000 vehicles a day were recorded on certain streets and across the ward speed limits were being routinely ignored.’

‘The plans, which are designed to try and stop vehicles using the area as a shortcut to avoid Hogarth roundabout and the A4, have come under increasing scrutiny recently with a petition by residents reaching almost 1000 signatures in just under a week’.

 

Image above: The proposed plans that LB Hounslow wishes to introduce

The letter continues:

‘We fully support measures that will reduce or even remove rat-running and speeding but cannot support measures that will make it impossible for residents to make essential short car journeys within the neighbourhood. In addition, the proposed measures will force residents to make significant detours when leaving and returning to the area. As a result, many will be forced to drive along residential streets in the ward or along already highly congested roads on the ward’s boundaries that they currently avoid such as Barrowgate Road and the A316. The restrictions on travel within in the ward are unnecessary and serve only to confuse and inconvenience residents.

‘Whilst we understand that detailed plans needed to be developed quickly in order to obtain emergency government funding, we are shocked that you propose to implement these complex measures before any public consultation has even begun. This is not the way that public bodies should behave even in times such as these. The project is wide ranging with many inter-connected measures. Residents need to understand how the scheme will impact on their lives. The use of automated number plate recognition technology is new to everyone including officers, and few know what a School Street is.

‘Having studied the proposals in detail we believe that the project could be greatly simplified. In addition, with a few modifications the measures could achieve the desired aim of enabling people to travel more safely around the area on foot and by bike without preventing essential internal journeys.

‘Our neighbourhood is poorly served by public transport. Car journeys within the ward and indeed from the ward to other destinations, are therefore an essential feature of the lives of many households. It is the rat-running commuters that have reduced the quality of life for all residents in South Chiswick and it is they, and not local residents who should be penalised by these measures.


Images above: The radical plans aim to reduce traffic queues massively, forcing residents to rely on other modes of transport.

‘Traffic speeds as well as traffic volumes remain a serious concern for cyclists and pedestrians alike. The existing proposals contain no “traffic-calming” measures. If South Chiswick is to become a liveable neighbourhood then measures to reduce traffic speeds must be introduced as an integral part of the project for all key streets for example Staveley and Hartington Roads. Such measures have been included in other Liveable Neighbourhood schemes.

‘As you confirmed, officers are proposing to run a consultation in tandem with the implementation. This is simply not good enough: There is time to run a full consultation before September when key measures such as School Streets are set to be introduced. We are assured that the measures are temporary and can be modified. However, the council has little credibility in this matter and few residents accept the proposed measures in their current form. Shortage of funding is no excuse for introducing insensitive and heavy-handed measures when other equally effective options are available.

‘We would welcome a dialogue with you on how to improve the scheme and to that end we would be more than happy to organise a private, socially-distant visit to the ward so that you can gain a better idea of how the proposed measures would affect residents’ lives.’

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Under 30s are a car-free zone

See also: Understanding the traffic plans for Grove Park

Under 30s are a car-free zone

Images above: Grove Park Rd in spring; Cameron Kerr

By Cameron Kerr

Residents are losing their minds over a ‘car-free Chiswick’, but for some under 30s, that’s the norm.

In case you missed it: Covid 19 turned TfL’s motto from ‘every journey matters’ to ‘are you sure your journey really matters?’. Because a Boris Bus has become a potential biohazard, the government is realising that active transport – walking, cycling and running – will be key to getting us around town without having heart palpitations every time someone goes to sneeze.

So Downing Street allocated a large sum of money to help councils rapidly make our habitat more people and bike friendly. To make use of the funds, Hounslow Council is fast-tracking plans to cut off rat-runs in south Chiswick between the A316 and the A4. The end result might be that residential streets in Chiswick become largely car-free. It suggests that even residents would be discouraged from driving around the local roads.

Naturally in a politically engaged community, a petition was formed and soon it was the talk of the town. But I couldn’t help thinking … why?

So for context, I am one of the under 30 year olds that was woefully underrepresented in the initial consultations by the council and well – my entire life has been car free. The same goes for practically all my friends. Sure, some of our parents have cars – we’ve been in them often as passengers – but I can count on one hand the number of local people my age I know who own one. I also can’t think of a single person in that group who is likely to buy one any time soon.

Why would we? Most places in Chiswick are a walking distance of 30 minutes maximum. Pre-Covid, TfL with all it’s flaws provided a bus or tube stop within a short walk of most destinations further afield. Kids used to commute on public transport as far as five miles to get to my secondary school. My teenage years and twenties have been spent on foot, buses and tube trains. Oh, and occasionally when we all went out and got quite drunk, the push of a button on our phone summoned a magic genie in a Prius, and they would whisk us helpfully home. From Whetherspoons door, to front door.

Now post-Covid nobody is going anywhere anyway, though we all keep dreaming about some holiday, somewhere … I’ve heard you plotting as you walk around these streets. So I am somewhat confident that getting around Chiswick car-free is completely doable.

Before you accuse me of being stuck in my youthful ways, I understand there are exceptions. Large family shopping trips weigh as much as the Tesla’s they are ferried home in. People have accessibility needs that don’t allow for a podcast-power-walk, and those Ubers need to be able to drop you off at your house in order to be a practical alternative.

So yes, the plans may require modification and exemptions. Also, no, walking and getting buses everywhere isn’t always fun. There has been many a cold rainy winter’s night where I have envied those passing by in their heated private boxes.

But here’s the thing: In current circumstances, when everyone gets their own heated metal box that seats five, there is something else that children get as well as a ride to school – nitrogen dioxide. Straight into the lungs.

Even with the rise of electric cars, the energy and resources required to convert every private vehicle from petrol/diesel to electric would produce so many emissions that it would cancel out the advantage clean vehicles provide. To solve climate change, we have to have less vehicles on the road to begin with.

Because we are on an overheating island in the vastness of the universe. Someone I spoke to born in the 60s joked that he wouldn’t be around to see the worst of it. I quickly reminded him that his children would, and so would his grandchildren. Felt like it’s been a bit hot recently?

With fewer cars on the remaining artery roads, there will be more space for those who really need them to get around. Private-hire vehicles, and in years to come, driverless taxis will provide the door-to-door convenience of the car. If you think the latter sounds like a pipe dream, so ten years ago was the genie with the Prius.

The challenges we face mean we have to rapidly evolve the way we live and think smart. For anything else, we literally do not have the time. Near forty degree peak summer temperatures used to be a European thing, now it’s a British one. Dangerous large-scale wildfires, these days you find them near Manchester, not just Marbella.

‘What happens when everyone starts driving again?’ is the wrong question. The question is: ‘how do we make sure a lot of us never do with the same frequency again?’.

A petrolhead I know commented that under these new measures, you may as well not own a car in Chiswick and, yes. That is kind of the point.

Cameron Kerr is a resident of Grove Park in his early 20’s

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Understanding the traffic plans for Grove Park

See also: Grove Park residents petition against ‘Liveable Neighbourhood’ proposals