Man in the Middle – Chapter 50: An appointment with the Memory Clinic

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.50: An appointment with the Memory Clinic

Mother is back home after ten days in the hospital and is the centre of a lot of attention. Not just from us. She’s on the care list of the NHS integrated community response service team, which includes a nurse, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, a social care assistant, a social worker and her GP. Even a handyman. All have been in attendance as the Court Circular might say.

‘I’ve got more flunkies than the Queen,’ Mother says. She’s wrong. The Queen has over 1,000 people in the Royal Household. But I see why she might think that, given the numbers going in and out of her bedroom asking her if she needs anything. Though she doesn’t have as many attendants as the Queen, I am sure not even the Knights and Ladies of the Garter could be more dedicated than Mother’s band of helpers.

It’s not just their practical help that’s impressive. It’s the way they speak to her. The tone in their voices sounds almost like love. I wonder if I sound as considerate when I speak to her. I’ve  nicknamed Mother’s helpers the ‘A-Team’. It’s my homage to the soldiers of fortune in the 1980s TV series, who specialised in getting people out of dodgy situations, which the legal authorities
couldn’t handle. Which is exactly what this team have done for Mother: got her out of hospital, where she didn’t want to be, and got her back home with us, where she did.

The only difference between the A-Team and Mother’s team is that the NHS team is armed only with blood pressure monitors, pills and PPE; not tanks, rifles and grenades. That said, if Mother asked them to get her a tank to go shopping, I’m sure they’d sort it out.

‘Our mission is to do anything we can to stop her going back into hospital,’ said the unit’s head honcho, reminding me of the pipe puffing Colonel John ‘Hannibal’ Smith, leader of the fictitious A-Team.

Mother was in hospital because of a fall. My daughter discovered her at seven in the morning on her back on the sisal carpet outside her bathroom, staring up at the skylight. Distressed and confused, she kept saying she didn’t want to disturb anyone. But could someone help her back to bed? ‘I’ll be alright after a cup of tea’, she said.

Of course, she wasn’t. We got her back to bed with the help of an ambulance crew but, despite a lakeful of sweet tea, her condition deteriorated. She became immobile and delusional: there was a man knitting flowers in the trees outside her window, she thought I was her husband and our house was a hotel.

After a few days, the ambulance came again. In hospital, they diagnosed an attack of acute delirium but no broken bones. A brain scan suggested her brain had shrunk, though. This isn’t unusual in someone her age, they said. But they couldn’t do a proper diagnosis until her delirium finished. The Memory Clinic had to be contacted.

‘She may have dementia,’ said the consultant. The word exploded shock waves through the family. What does this mean for her? For us? The day she returned home, she and I sat on the patio
next to a wilting tomato plant in a terracotta vase. She talked for over an hour in the sun without pausing. A dam broke inside her and a rag bag of memories, questions and thoughts came flooding out of her. Is this the dementia? Is this how it’s going to be now, I thought?

A week later, it seems she is recovering. Her old sociable self has returned. When the community team come, she turns it on the charm. It’s ‘darling’ this, ‘darling’ that. Lazarus walks again. But, for an unfathomable reason, she’s started to speak Franglais to her carer, which given the woman isn’t French and Mother has never spoken French before is both bizarre and comic.

‘Le toast est beau,’ she says gratefully waving the half-eaten piece of toast the carer’s given her. ‘Tres bons, les eggs’

The carer smiles, patiently. I hope it doesn’t sound patronising.

‘She thinks the carer’s French and is trying to be friendly by talking to her in her own language,’ says my wife. ‘It’s harmless.’

‘As long as she doesn’t start talking in tongues, we’re fine,’ says my son.

The doorbell goes. The delivery driver hands over a large box of books I’ve ordered about dementia. The first one I pick up is called ‘Breakfast with the Centenarians’. Is this book a prophecy? A sign that she will be breakfasting with us in three years? I make a note to call the GP to see if Mother’s appointment at the Memory Clinic has been fixed yet.

Read more blogs by James Thellusson

Read the next in the series – Chapter 51: My teacup overfloweth

Read the previous one – Chapter 49: Acute Deliriums episode one

See all James’s Man in the Middle blogs here

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Son bikes for lung cancer charity in memory of his dad

Construction of temporary Cycleway 9 due to start

Work is due to start shortly on the construction of a temporary version of Cycleway 9 along Chiswick High Rd and Heathfield Terrace.

The two way segregated cycle track was approved in September 2019, but the impact of Covid-19 on the finances of Transport for London has meant that instead of installing the Cycleway as planned, TfL and the local council have agreed temporary measures, using cheaper materials and methods.

Instead of a concrete curb segregating cyclists from traffic there will be ‘traffic cylinders’ placed at four metre intervals to mark out the three metre wide bi-directional track on the south side of the road. To reduce cost, the track, all the way from Goldhawk Rd to Heathfield Terrace, will be created entirely on the road rather than taking space from the pavements.

This meets many of the objections of Chiswick residents who did not want to lose pavement space to make way for the cycle track and it also means that no trees will be cut down.

It does however reduce the space in the road for vehicles.

Less space for cars and buses

‘In effect this means removal of a significant proportion of bus priority in the High Road’, according to a written statement by the Council’s Chief Officer for Transport, Mark Frost. But he thinks the effective closure of Turnham Green Terrace, meaning less traffic on the High Rd, will mitigate the effects and help reduce delays to buses.

In a couple of places, access to alleyways will be blocked off. Drivers will no longer be able to turn down Bleak House Lane beside the Lamb pub, or turn into the car park opposite George IV pub. Access to the car park will be from the Devonshire Rd entry only.

According to the statement, other key differences between the temporary scheme and the scheme as it was approved last year are:

– Removal of two lane approaches to signalized junctions, except Goldhawk Road

– Zebra crossings retained, rather than replaced with signalised crossings.

– A number of additional traffic and refuge islands will be removed.

– Closure of the central access to the car park, opposite Windmill Road.

– Waiting and loading restrictions altered to suit amended layout, whilst retaining suitable loading facilities for all businesses.

Construction of the Cycleway is due to start ‘late summer / early autumn’ and the cost will be entirely borne by TfL.

‘More congestion and air pollution’ says Leader of Conservative councillors

Cllr Gerald McGregor, leader of Chiswick’s Conservative councillors on Hounslow Council, says that the implementation of these changes is within the Council’s mandate but it is not a good idea.

He told The Chiswick Calendar there is already added congestion caused by the Council’s “wild and unsustainable” traffic management schemes, with “traffic backed up all the way to Askew Rd” because of the closure of Turnham Green Terrace.

“Buses will not be able to make progress down Chiswick High Rd and all this will add to the already high levels of air pollution.

“The council is not listening”, he says, to residents and the lack of enforcement of the recent measures in Turnham Green Terrace and Fishers Lane is making both Ealing and Hounslow councils look “ridiculous”.

“If you’re going to do it, then enforce it properly and responsibly”.

The councils are “hiding behind the Covid emergency”, he says, to introduce these traffic schemes.

Mark Frost’s statement references statutory guidance by Department for Transport on 9 May to local authorities instructing that changes be made to the network to accommodate social distancing and increased numbers of people walking and cycling and such changes be made ‘as swiftly as possible’.

It also cites the Mayor of London’s Streetspace programme and the inclusion of Cycleway 9 as part of his proposed ’emergency strategic cycle network’.

Traditional consultation process ‘broken’

Hounslow Cycling campaign told The Chiswick Calendar that the COVID emergency has made these plans more important than ever, given the reduction in public transport capacity.

They welcome the plans for the temporary protected cycle lane along Chiswick High Road, saying:

“The government expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians and the plans are aligned with this guidance. With more people now working from home, the protected cycle lane will enable people in the area to shop and eat locally on Chiswick High Road, and get some exercise at the same time.

“The temporary plans mean no loss of footway space, no impact upon trees and faster construction times so address concerns that some people had to the permanent Cycleway 9 design. It is now three years since the original Cycleway 9 consultation, a hugely unnecessary length of time for just a bike lane, demonstrating that the traditional consultation process is broken.

“Rapid implementation using temporary materials under the Experimental Traffic Order process will mean people can use the cycle lane and feed back their comments.
“We are looking forward to our first ride along Chiswick High Rd”.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: TfL announces student only buses, though not on key Chiswick routes

See also: Fishers Lane traffic measures ‘will not be enforced’ by Ealing Council

Police arrest 39 following two day operation in west London

A total of 39 arrests have been made following a large scale police operation in Hounslow, Hillingdon and Ealing.

Over a two day period (25 and 26 August) officers targeting violent crime used  search warrants, patrols and weapons sweeps in areas they regarded as hot spots, as well as using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology to target vehicles believed to be linked to violent crime.

The 39 arrests were made on suspicion of burglary, robbery, rape, possession with intent to supply class A and B drugs and assaults including Grievous Bodily Harm and Actual Bodily Harm.

Police seized more than £2,000 in cash, three knifes and drugs including 50 wraps of believed to be heroine and crack cocaine and 50 wraps believed to be cannabis.

“Important information” may lead to further arrests

Detective Inspector Andy Thrower, who led the operation, said:

“We’ve had fantastic results, with 39 individuals arrested, as well as a quantity of drugs and cash being recovered. We have also discovered important intelligence which may lead to further arrests … currently being investigated by detectives”.

‘Operation Perigree’ involved officers from several police units, including West Area Basic Command Unit local, West Area Gangs Unit, West Area Violence Suppression Unit and Territorial Support Group (TSG).

DI Thrower added:

“This was a proactive operation which not only focused on enforcement, but also prevention and engagement; elements which are all integral in reducing violent crime”.

Officers conduct talked to young people they believe to be at high risk and ‘highlighted various diversionary opportunities and charities’ they could be involved in rather than being runners for gangs.

They will be holding some interactive knife crime awareness and intervention sessions in the coming weeks.

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Police declare war on ’County Lines’ drug gangs

See also: Is Chiswick in the middle of a drug war?

Chiswick Flower Market will have a flower ‘crèche’

Chiswick Flower Market ‘unmissable’

Images above: August issue of Country Life; Evening Standard, Monday 24 August; September issue of The English Garden 

If you open the August edition of Country Life magazine, you will find a little article about the new Chiswick Flower Market. Ditto teh September issue of The English Garden magazine, ditto the floristry industry bible The Florist. Everywhere from Country Life to Secret London, including last night’s Evening Standard, the market’s fame has spread far and wide.The English Garden has us on a page titled ‘unmissable events’.

Image above: Owner of Pot Pourri, Dominic Hughes and florist Louise Smith

The Florist features Dominic Hughes, owner of Pot Pourri on Chiswick High Rd, as one of the stallholders at the new market when it opens on Sunday 6 September. Pot Pourri are a member of The Florist’s Good Florist Guide.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Flower Market traders – Jacques Amand

See also: Chiswick Flower Market traders – PlantBe-Studio

Another seal?

Residents of Strand on the Green and riverside pub goers have become used to seeing the seal who’s taken up residence somewhere around Kew Bridge. He regularly heaves himself up on to paddleboaads and poses for photos.

Now the Chiswick RNLI crew reckon they’ve spotted another one living nearby. Have a look at their video  and see if you could tell them apart.

Click here to see their video.

‘Catching some rays at Strand On The Green, this seal is taking a break from fishing to warm up and relax Not sure we’ve seen this one before, so we are coming up with names… What would you call him?’

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Playful seal pup learns to paddleboard

See also: Is Wayne the seal lonely?

Chiswick Book Festival 2020

Images above: Lady Antonia Fraser; Polly Toynbee & David Walker; Professor Peter Hennessy

Polly Toynbee and David Walker are among the names at this year’s Chiswick Book Festival.

The festival will be taking place entirely online this year, Thursday 10  – Monday 14 September.  I have recorded a podcast with them on their book about ten years of Tory rule: The Lost Decade and will also be talking to Oliver Soden, author of a biography of the composer Sir Michael Tippett. Peter Oborne and Richard Heller will be contributing a podcast with Mihir Bose on the history of Indian cricket.

Images above: Oliver Soden; Mihir Bose; Alexandra Shulman

They will be joining the headline speakers announced last month – Lady Antonia Fraser, Alexandra Shulman, Michael Billington, Loyd Grossman and Pat Davies (of the Codebreaking Sisters).

Also on the programme will be historian Peter Hennessy whose three books about the 20th century are being reissued in paperback; and political correspondent Steve Richards, with a new chapter on Boris Johnson in his book on Prime Ministers.

Broadcaster Jeremy Vine will be launching his novel The Diver and the Lover; Konnie Huq will be introducing her children’s book sequel Cookie and the Most Annoying Girl In the World.

A new book about the Portland spy ring – Dead Doubles by former BBC correspondent Trevor Barnes will also be featured and LBC’s Iain Dale, novelist Amanda Craig, and record-breaking children’s artist Rob Biddulph are among other well-known names in this year’s Festival.

Watch the videos on the Chiswick Book Festival website and listen to the podcasts on The Chiswick Calendar website, from Friday 11 September 2020.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Auctions week of sales 24 – 27 August

See also: Chiswick In Pictures 2020

An oasis of calm

One of the little unexpected pleasures of this summer has been the emptiness of Chiswick Business Park.

The Chiswick Calendar has reported in the past on the concerns of locals about the flood pf people morning and evening to and from Gunnersbury Station causing dangerous overcrowding, but since so many people have been working from home the Business Park has become an oasis of calm.

It is beautifully landscaped and Barbara Chandler is one of those locals who have been appreciating the opportunity to use it as a place of quiet enjoyment. These are her photographs from the summer of 2020.

Barbara has been exhibiting her work for 20 years in London and abroad and has sold her cards and prints in outlets as diverse as Portobello Rd market and the Conran Shop. The photographs from her Love London show in 2008 were reproduced in a book of the same name.

See more of her photographs on her Instagram account @sunnygran

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick In Pictures 2020 

See also: Chiswick Auctions week of sales 24 – 27 August

Chiswick Unbound – Escapes and Beyond II

Trials without juries?

The Coronavirus pandemic has led the Government to consider doing away with jury trials.

According to the Times, ‘sources’ suggest the Ministry of Justice in considering bringing in a law when Parliament reconvenes next month that would allow Judge only trials ‘in some circumstances’.

The change is being considered as a solution to the huge backlog of cases, which has been exacerbated by the coronavirus. Some criminal trials are being set for two years’ time.

Ann Crighton, a local barrister who has written for The Chiswick Calendar before about the deterioration of the court services, argues that it will lead to miscarriages of justice and we must not allow it.

Legal system in a perilous state

Coronavirus is being used as an excuse for all sorts of things, in particular, to cover up the state of the legal system in this country, which has gone from bad to worse because of austerity.

There is a huge backlog of cases. Last year about 12,000 jury trials were completed. Crown courts (which only see the serious offences, as lesser crimes are dealt with by Magistrates courts) currently have some 30,000 pending.

Virtually all cases start in the Magistrates Court and the most serious are sent to the Crown Court. Over 90% of cases are dealt with in the Magistrates Court, so if 30,000 cases are waiting to be dealt with in the Crown Court how many are waiting in the Magistrates Court?

The waiting list for trials just grew longer and longer because there were not enough Courts to hear the trials.

The attempts to save money have resulted in interpreters who cannot interpret properly so trials have had to be abandoned, tags that are not attached to offenders, prisoners who are not delivered to the Court on time so trials cannot start, and miscarriages of justice. All things which I have seen in courts myself, at first hand.

The Ministry of Justice has sold off hundreds of Courts, including Feltham, Brentford, Richmond and Hammersmith in west London. The sale of Hammersmith Court was particularly crazy – it was a busy purpose-built Court opened only about 20 years ago.

Long before Coronavirus there were tens of thousands of trials waiting months (or sometimes years) to be heard in both the Magistrates and Crown Court. The waiting list for trials just grew longer and longer because there were not enough Courts to hear the trials. Also because the Ministry of Justice would only pay for a certain number of Judges to sit, so even where court rooms remained open, they were often empty.

Coronavirus just an excuse

Since the courts reopened ten weeks ago, according to figures from the Criminal Bar Association, only 250 trials have been heard in England and Wales. Courts, like everyone else, have been acclimatising to the necessity for social distancing.

‘At that rate, even if courts sat every week of the year only 1,300 trials would be completed in 12 months’ writes Jonathan Ames in the Times.

Some trials are being set for two years’ time (and who is to say a date in two years’ time will be adhered to?) In that time, it is argued, witnesses will forget what it is they’re supposed to be testifying to, defendents, who may be innocent, will be under enormous stress and violent criminals will have to be freed because they’ve waited in jail for the full time they are legally allowed to be detained without trial.

So goes the argument, and the country’s most prominent retired judge, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, a former Lord Chief Justice and the first President of the Supreme Court, has spoken out in favour of judge only trials to solve the problem “because the alternative of rising delays to trials is horrible”.

My understanding is that this would in reality be in all cases and what the Times refers to as ‘in some circumstances’ just means during the pandemic.

Trials without juries more of a threat than coronavirus

Those in charge of the Ministry of Justice must be jumping for joy because now they have coronavirus as an excuse for the huge waiting lists, when in reality it has only made worse a situation that was already bad.

I believe that coronavirus is being used as the excuse to do away with juries. If you believe it’s necessary because of the virus, then you are gullible.

The attempt to do away with juries is a way of saving money and it will deny justice. Obviously it would be far cheaper to have trials with a Judge and no jury but we all know that we are far safer if our guilt or innocence is decided by ’12 good men/women’ because Judges do not live in the same world as the rest of us.

The Ministry of Justice are not interested in whether you have been unfairly dismissed, accused of a crime you have not committed, or even whether you have been a victim of a horrific crime. They are only interested in statistics, employing consultants, and saving costs.

Imagine how delighted those automatons in charge of the Ministry of Justice  are at the thought they can use coronavirus as an excuse to do away with Juries.  We must not allow it.

The coronavirus is a concern, but your chances of dying if you are under 80 and not vulnerable are 0.3%. As far as I am concerned, most of us should be much more afraid of the State doing away with Jury trials – because the chance of you, or someone you care about, being wrongly convicted is, in my opinion, more likely than dying because of coronavirus.

The irony is that it is the coronavirus which may enable it to happen.

Ann Crighton is a barrister and has her own law practice – Crighton Chambers at 11 Ravenscourt Pl, Hammersmith, London W6 0UN

Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Wake up Ministry of Justice and start social distancing

See also: Shocking misuse of police time

Junction of  Harvard Hill and A4 sees ‘extremely dangerous’ driving

Image above: Harvard Hill junction with A4

I reported a couple of weeks ago that I’d witnessed a driver manouevre around the ‘Road Closed’  barrier on Harvard Hill, blocking the entrance from the A4 as he did so, which would have forced anyone wanting to turn in from the A4 to stop and could potentially have caused a sudden tail back of traffic on a very busy, fast road. In other words, the classic recipe for an accident.

A succession of drivers have continued to make the same dangerous manouevre, according to locals reporting what they’ve witnessed on social media. When challenged, drivers have told them their sat navs have sent them that way. Some do a U turn when they realise their sat navs has misinformed them. Others carry on regardless.

Drivers following their sat navs

Brenda Pritchard posted:

‘The closing of Harvard Hill exit onto the A4 is clearing not working properly. I have witnessed on several occasions car simply ignoring the road closed signs and are still exiting onto the A4, which extremely dangerous… It’s only a matter of time before there’s an accident.

‘I spoke to a lady and a gentleman who where queuing up to exit. I told them the road was now closed to traffic. They both said their sat nav has sent them down to Harvard Hill’.

‘Google maps now redirecting’

Julian Money-Kyrle wrote:

‘A few days ago I tried to turn into Harvard Hill from the A4 and my way was blocked by a van trying to get round the barrier. They eventually reversed and the driver was quite surprised when I told him that the road was closed…

‘… I walked back to the junction after parking and counted about 40 vehicles turning illegally onto the A4 in the space of about half an hour. I approached some of the drivers who showed me that their satnav had directed them there. Most were happy to turn around once it had been pointed out that it was now no entry, though some went ahead regardless.

‘I phoned the Police to report a hazard, and reported it to Hounslow Traffic via their website, who emailed back to say that it wasn’t their responsibility but they would pass my concerns to Hounslow Council’.

Cllr Sam Hearn, one of the councillors representing the Riverside ward in which Harvard Hill is situated, answered:

‘There are mechanisms for communicating changes to the SatNav providers and LBH are doing this. However there is no legal requirement for the SatNav companies to update their systems’.

Richard Jones, from Grove Park commented:

‘Sam, tell Khan to put a barrier across the whole road . Sort it out – you’re our councillor?

To which Cllr Hearn replied:

‘Richard – the reason the barrier does not go all across the road is that there needs to be access on and off the A4/M4 in the event of an emergency e.g. multiple pile up’.

Iris Hill reported:

‘Google maps now redirecting (as of 12.42 on 24th August)

It will be interesting to see how quickly other systems catch up and what difference this makes.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Radical plans for South Chiswick 

See also: Chiswick traffic management changes, May – July 2020

Chiswick Flower Market traders – Jacques Amand

No new Covid cases in Chiswick 12 – 18 August

Image above: Housnlow Safer Business advisers Tony Martin and Boris Hristov

We haven’t had any new cases of Covid-19 in Chiswick in the last week (12 – 18 August), according to data from the Office of National Statistics.

The previous week Kelly O’Neill, Director of Public Health at Hounslow Council, issued a warning that there had beena ‘large rise’ in Honslow, naming Chiswick specifically as one of the places in the borough where there was a concentration of cases.

“The spread of cases suggests it’s due to wider family and friend groups meeting and not maintaining social distancing” she said.

‘Get tested if you have symptoms’

In his weekly letter Council leader Steve Curran reminded people who have symptoms to get tested. Hounslow hosts a Mobile Testing Unit every three days.

‘If you have symptoms of coronavirus, it is important that you get tested. You and your household should also self-isolate and only leave the house to go and get tested’.

If you are a Keyworker in Hounslow, you are entitled to be tested regularly, even if you do not have symptoms, to prevent asymptomatic spread of coronavirus

The locations of Mobile Testing Units are published on the council’s website. They usually operate from 10.30am-3.30pm. You need to book an appointment online before you go to the site.

To find out where the Mobile Testing Unit will be operating next, see LB Hounslow website

Appointments are open from 6pm the night before the testing opens e.g. if the Mobile Testing Unit is on a Sunday, appointments open on the Saturday at 6pm.

To book an appointment, book on the NHS website or call 119.

People living in the borough of Hounslow can also get a free test at local testing sites in Ealing. Visit the Ealing Council website for more information.

If you have any issues or queries, please contact the Public Health team at

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: ‘Significant’ backlog of patients in west London’s hospitals

See also: Hounslow coronavirus spike being ‘monitored carefully’


Maimuna gets her place at Cambridge

Maimuna Hassan got her place at Cambridge University.

She exemplified all that was wrong with the A Level standardisation system which was scrapped last week. She was marked down for being an ‘outlier’ – someone who performed much better than the previous record at her school.

Her predicted grades from her teachers at Chiswick School were A*s in Maths and Computer Science, and an A in Physics. The dodgy algorithm marked her down to A in Maths and a B in Physics. As a result she lost her offers from Cambridge University and Imperial College to read Engineering.

She wrote to the Prime Minister, telling Boris what this meant for her, explaining that she is the oldest child of Somali immigrants in a family of six and when she came to this country English was her third language. She persevered at Chiswick School in a period in which it had five head teachers in as many years:

‘Despite very disrupted teaching and offers from more academic sixth forms, I continued at my comprehensive school because I wanted to remain part of a community which had become very important to me and I was confident that I would work hard enough independently to achieve my ambitions, even if there were problems at school’ she wrote.

‘Thus, I spent a great deal of money (which was difficult to come by) on books and resources for extra home study, as well as attending as many extra-curricular courses as I could find. I studied Maths, Physics and Computer Science, subjects which I knew had a poor history of results at Chiswick, but I was determined to go into engineering. I started a Robotics Club at school in order to engage my interests more thoroughly and to give back to my school community. We ended up training younger students and winning regional competitions in order to compete at national level’.

The school has undergone considerable change over the past eighteen months. Head teacher Laura Ellener was brought in to turn it around and it has gone from a school which was marked as ‘Requires Improvement’ by Ofsted to one which was ‘Good’ and in the area of personal development ‘Outstanding’.

Now, after a rollercoaster week of upset and stress, I am pleased to report that Cambridge have re-offered her place and she is delighted.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick School told Ofqual their system was flawed in May

See also: Interview with Laura Ellener, headteacher of Chiswick School

Episode 18: Talking with Sports Writer and Radio Broadcaster Pat Murphy

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.

For well over forty years, as author, reporter and commentator with the highest standards of integrity, Pat Murphy has been telling the world about cricket as it really happened. He is the guest of Peter Oborne and  Richard Heller  in their  latest cricket-themed podcast.

More Platforms

He sets out his ideals as a radio commentator, above all, being authentic, the same person off air as on it – like Terry Wogan. He adds:  “you’ve got the best seat in the house, bring people alongside you.” The paramount need is to tell the score as soon as it changes. He shares the wonderful experience of a private seminar with John Arlott over 1 ½ days. He cites Arlott’s special gift for bringing in the crowd, one shared with other great commentators, in football and other sports, and how the  current  lack  of crowds is a handicap to sports coverage. He hails Test Match Special in the 1970s as the apogee of cricket commentary, but notes how commentary styles have to change to meet public demand.

He reveals his favourite commentary bloopers – including the one which earned him after 45 years his first mention in Private  Eye’s feature Commentator balls.

As a ghost writer and collaborator  with such greats as Ian Botham, Viv Richards and Imran Khan, he shares the secrets of getting sports personalities to speak in  their  own voice and be open about  issues which present-day readers expect to be discussed. He reveals which great cricketer could remember less about his on-field achievements than his celebration of them afterwards. He apologizes  for some terrible  punning titles of his books.

Pat Murphy dwells  on his collaboration with “Tiger” Smith, Warwickshire and England wicketkeeper, then umpire and coach, whose long life  covered a huge span of cricket history: he played with W G Grace and gave expert  advice to Mike Brearley, then England captain, in 1979.

He reveals the astonishing  pace (5000 words a day) at which he produced his recent detailed and multi-layered analysis of Warwickshire’s triumphs in the mid-1990s and the discipline he set himself to achieve this (including  shaving before writing).

He shares his withering contempt for Rupert Murdoch and his impact on British sport and public life.

Offered the post of dictator of British sport he sets out a personal agenda for English cricket:

-Abolish the Hundred (an “atrocity”)
-End the dominance of marketing people  at the English Cricket Board, and prevent them reducing and downgrading the County Championship
-Combat the marginalization of cricket in English life and declining  participation thanks to the Sky paywall
-Stop cricket becoming a sport only for white children who have been to independent  schools (just three black England cricketers so far this century).

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

Listen to more episodes of Oborne & Heller

Next episode – Episode 19: Talking with Journalist and Author Mihir Bose

Previous Episode – Episode 17: Talking with Lord Jeffrey Archer

Listen to all episodes – Oborne & Heller on Cricket


Peter Oborne & Richard Heller

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

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

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

Peter and Richard have played cricket with and against each other for a variety of social sides, including Parliament’s team, the Lords and Commons, and in over twenty countries including India, Pakistan, the United States, 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.

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Work starting on temporary Cycleway 9

Transport for London and Hounslow Council are starting work on a temporary version of Cycleway 9, to give people a safer journey cycling between Olympia and Kew Bridge.

The new plans are similar to the permanent scheme which was approved by the council in September 2019 and involve the construction of a new two-way cycle lane built along the southern side of Chiswick High Road between Heathfield Terrace and Goldhawk Road. The work is planned to begin in September.

TfL and LB Hounslow hope the new infrastructure will also help to relieve pressure on a busy section of the District line, as more people start going back to work in offices in central London. Construction work on the route is planned to start in early September 2020.

Not on the pavement

To reduce construction time and cost the majority of the temporary scheme is to be built largely within existing carriageway space, rather than using a mix of carriageway and footway as previously proposed. The temporary scheme will be reviewed in 2021/22 to determine whether or not to make these changes permanent or not. TfL and Hounslow council say they welcome feedback on it from users to help inform that decision.

‘The Mayor of London, TfL and Hounslow Council are committed to ensuring a green, sustainable and healthy recovery from coronavirus. This means that millions more journeys across London could be made by walking and cycling, which is why the Streetspace for London programme is creating the extra space needed for people to walk and cycle safely while distancing’.

The new lane along Chiswick High Road will fill in a ‘missing link’, allowing people to cycle on a temporary version of Cycleway 9 between Kew Bridge and Olympia for the first time, along nearly 6km of protected or low traffic roads. This follows Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s recent construction of a ‘pop-up’ cycle lane between Olympia and Goldhawk Road, as well as Hounslow Council’s creation of a low traffic zone along Wellesley Road in Gunnersbury.

London network of cycle routes

Cllr Hanif Khan, Cabinet Member for Transport at Hounslow Council said:

“The installation of this new temporary version of what will be the Cycleway 9 cycle route between Kew Bridge and Olympia will be a great addition to the borough’s cycle network, enabling people to travel safely and supporting a heathier lifestyle.

“The Streetspace programme is helping us create more space on our network to enable social distancing, whilst also offering residents and visitors viable alternatives to driving or taking public transport. The programme is therefore not only assisting in the fight to reduce transmission of the coronavirus, but also in helping address the major challenges outlined in our air quality and Climate Emergency Action Plans, as well as Hounslow’s wider green recovery plan.”

TfL is working with boroughs to build a strategic network for cycling in London. Around £30m has been allocated across all 33 boroughs for 859 schemes. 15km of new cycle lanes have been delivered across London so far, with many more planned or under construction.

Hounslow has been awarded TfL Streetspace funding for 48 projects, with a value of £1.3m. This includes 27 School Streets schemes and two new strategic cycle routes – along Chiswick High Road and Twickenham Road – as well as six schemes designed to create more space in town centres.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Decision time for Cycleway 9 – September 2019

See also: Chiswick traffic management changes, May – July 2020


Chiswick Flower Market traders – PlantBe-Studio

Images above: Karolina Kondratowitz; Plant Be plant holders

Karolina Kondratowitz and her friend Erica Luke met while working together at the Palace Gardener, the garden centre at Fulham Palace. Erica was the centre’s assistant manager, while Karolina looked after the gift department. Together they have a fair amount of knowledge about plants and what kind of ‘plant accessories’ are popular with customers.

‘Plant accessories’ makes it sound rather as it they’ll supply your ficus with a matching scarf and gloves, but what we’re actually talking about here is pots. Ceramic pots and metal plant holders.

Karolina has designed a range of plant holders, inspired by Art Deco style, which she has had made in Slask, at a small factory in rural Poland, whose work she came across on a visit home to see her mum.

“I drew something simple and asked them to make it up. I was very impressed with their craftsmanship and decided they are a reliable factory to make our metal plant holders”.

They have sourced the pots from similar small producers in Belgium and Denmark, set up the company, calling it ‘PlantBe-Studio’ as a play on words on Plan B. (Their first idea was to supply offices with plants and install them. That business plan died a death when we went into lock down). It’s also an exhortation, or maybe a note to self, to Be yourself and be creative.

They also sell Cyanotype kits for children to create designs from leaves and flowers using sunlight to develop the image.

Come and have a look at their wares at the Chiswick Flower Market – where you can also buy plants from other traders to go in them! Genius.

Mind Matters – Back to school with a difference?

There has been much in the media about the impact on the mental health of children and young people as a result of the pandemic, lock down and schools being closed.

This week the news has focused on GCSE, A level and college results. There continues to be much criticism of the government’s handling of situations and this will have an impact on how children, young people and their families feel about the return to school. However, the overall consensus appears to be that not being able to go to school has been detrimental not only to learning but also to wellbeing and so most people are in support of a safe return to school.

In our work as therapists we have seen a wide range of experiences and I personally see the return to school as an opportunity for children, young people and families to have conversations about how they are, what might helpfully change and agree what to do if things are or start to become difficult.

During the lockdown some families reported increased domestic violence, conflict and strained relations, while for others it has been a time for developing stronger understanding and better relationships. While some children and young people have really struggled without the structure and social interaction that school provides,  others have improved their relationships with the family and anxiety and challenging behaviours have reduced.

As schools return there will be the usual anxieties and excitements and range of emotions that come from a new school year and for some even a new school, but there will also be major changes and uncertainty.

If you are a parent you might be concerned about safety around COVID-19, you might be worried about infection, particularly if you have vulnerable children or other household members and so I am sure you will be eagerly watching for government guidelines and seeking assurances from the schools about the actions they are taking to comply with them. However there are also other considerations.

Do you know how your children are feeling and thinking about the return to school? This could be a great opportunity to check in with them and find out how they are and whether there is anything that can be done to support them.

Before speaking to your children I recommend thinking about how you feel and think about them going back to school, ensure you have all current information from their school, know the government guidance and what you would like from them.

Preparation is important because children and young people need their parents and guardians to be able to understand their concerns, be able to offer relevant advice and solutions and be clear about what is expected of them. If a parent / guardian is anxious or excited but has not thought things through they won’t be prepared sufficiently to have the best conversation and this can lead to children and young people feeling uncertain and more stressed.

Safety is of course of paramount importance but then wellbeing must also be thought about carefully. Listen to their concerns and whilst some of the guidance and school information might address them there might be questions left unanswered – in this situation either you or your child can look into things before you have another conversation to see if the information has been helpful.

It is likely that the change and uncertainty will mean that problems may well arise and so it is important that there is an understanding that if anyone feels uncomfortable or thinks that something is wrong it is talked about and action taken where necessary.

While going back to school will be great for many, it might prove challenging too. For example there might be anxiety about being behind with studies, or the social side of school if the lockdown and holidays have been isolating, children may also feel burdened by responsibility if they have family members who are vulnerable at home, finally, things will be different for example year group bubbles meaning no mixing with other year groups, fine as long as your friends are in your year group!

It’s important that everyone, both young and old, the child or the adult, remembers that whatever their concerns they are unlikely to be alone in them. For adults make sure you access information and seek support, raising concerns with the school and sharing with other adults, meanwhile children and young people should be reminded that it is natural to feel nervous, have difficult thoughts and seeking support and help is the best thing.

If you worry your child might not speak to you if they are struggling then the important thing is to let them know that talking to someone can help whether they speak to their friends, someone else they trust or access support either at school or through organisations like Childline or

And finally, it’s best not to see this as just one conversation but an opportunity to open a new line of communication to improve your communications going forwards.

Nicholas Rose
Psychotherapist, Counsellor, Couples Counsellor and Coach
UKCP registrant, MBACP (accred), UKRCP
PGDip, MA, Adv Dip Ex Psych

Nicholas Rose & Associates
Counselling, psychotherapy and coaching for children, adults, couples and families.

Read more blogs by Nicholas Rose

Read the next in the series – Mind Matters: Why the Boa constrictor?

Read the previous one – Mind Matters: How are you doing with the new face covering rules?

See all Nicholas’s Mind Matters blogs here

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Chiswick Unbound – Escapes and Beyond I

Woman charged with murder of boy, 10, in Acton