Chiswick High Rd closed Sunday 27 September

Chiswick High Road will be closed on the morning of Sunday 27 September in the eastbound lane from Turnham Green Terrace to just beyond Chiswick Lane. The planned closure is for work on the construction of Chiswick’s new cinema. A crane will be removing portacabins from the site.

Chiswick Cinema say the road will need to be shut for up to four hours from 7.30 to 11.30am.

The following bus routes are being diverted:

Routes H91, 267 and 391 towards Hammersmith
Route 190 towards West Brompton
Route 237 towards White City

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Flower Market cancelled for October 

See also: Elvis the cat Returned to Sender

Chiswick Flower Market cancelled for October

Chiswick Flower Market, which was held for the first time in September, will not be going ahead in October. The organisers (of whom The Chiswick Calendar editor Bridget Osborne is one) have released this statement:

‘It is with great regret that the organisers of the Chiswick Flower Market have decided to cancel the October market, which was due to take place next Sunday 4th October.

‘The decision was taken in the light of the worsening national Covid-19 situation and in consultation with London Borough of Hounslow’s Director of Public Health, local businesses, our traders, local residents and our marshals. Whilst open-air markets can be held legally, we felt that it would not be appropriate to go ahead at this time.

‘We have been carefully weighing the pros and cons of following up the hugely successful inaugural market and sadly came to this decision today. (Friday 25 September)

‘We would like to thank all our traders and marshals who have patiently supported us in the ongoing discussions and who will be as disappointed as we are by this decision. The September market brought great benefit, both economically and socially to the area.

Images above: Chiswick Flower Market in September; Photographs by Frank Noon

Hope to return first Sunday in November

‘We hope to return in November with a bigger and better market, with strengthened safety measures including ticketed slots, and a well-regulated queuing system, as well as a dedicated early morning shopping session for more vulnerable flower lovers.

‘We are determined that despite this set-back, our work will continue to bring the community together, to revitalise our High Road and to help new and established independent businesses.

‘We are exploring methods by which the traders could still sell their plants, bulbs and flowers. Please note that on our website www.chiswickflowermarket.com most of the traders have online shops and you can support them by purchasing your flowers and other horticultural goodies direct from them

‘We are very disappointed to have to take this step, but given the current surge in infections throughout the country, it seems to us to be the right step. We hope to see you in November and wish everyone a safe experience through the next months’.

Images above: Chiswick Flower Market in September; Photographs by Frank Noon

“Right decision” says council Leader Steve Curran

In response to the statement received from the Chiswick Flower Market organisers, Cllr Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council said:

“Chiswick Flower Market is a fantastic addition to the borough, and the first one last month was a great success.

“It’s a real shame the October one has had to be cancelled. I and hundreds of other people were looking forward to its return.

“However, given the new national guidelines which came into force this week, cancelling it was the right decision. People’s safety must come first.

“I’d like to thank the market organisers for being so responsible and the Council looks forward to supporting them to hopefully make the November market go ahead in a Covid secure way.”

Images above: Chiswick Flower Market in September; Photographs by Frank Noon

Support from Chiswick residents

The organisers of the market have had lots of supportive comments from both traders and local residents, including this from Tim English:

“It’s a shame, the first was wonderful, but I think it’s the right decision. I look forward to coming to the next, whenever that might be”

and this from Emma Renton:

“Hopefully there will be many more markets in the future”.

Cllr Ron Mushiso, who is deputy leader of the Conservative councillors in Chiswick added:

“Chiswick Flower Market was a resounding success when it launched in early September. I was delighted to have played a small role as one of the Marshalls on the day and was looking forward to continuing my role on Sunday 4th October. But the decision by the organisers is the right one given the current circumstances. I know a lot of people will be disappointed but public safety has to take priority”.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Decisions on hold because of Covid

See also: Covid figures do not reflect the real picture – Kelly O’Neill

Elvis the cat is returned to sender

New winter market coming to Acton

Staveley Rd protest ‘not acceptable’ says council

The Cabinet Member for Transport on Hounslow Council, Cllr Hanif Khan, has described the protests by residents of Park Rd in Grove Park against the installation of a road barrier as part of a new traffic scheme as “illegal activities” and “not acceptable.”

The council is installing a number of new traffic measures throughout the area of Chiswick south of the A4 to try and stop Grove Park and Strand on the Green being used as a rat run by commuters trying to shave a couple of minutes off their journey time.

Traffic surveys have shown that 70% traffic through the residential area just drives straight through. Staveley Rd is a residential street which has high volumes of traffic and drivers also routinely speed down it.

The council’s solution is to put in a diagonal barrier which would make it impossible to drive the whole length of the road. Instead motorists will be forced to turn off it into Park Rd. They hope that by forcing drivers to take a detour the route will cease to be a shortcut, obviating the reason for commuters to use it as a cut through.

On Monday 14 September Park Rd residents occupied the street corners at the junction and the traffic island in the middle of Staveley Rd. A team from Hounslow Highways decided not to try and carry out the work and went on to their next job, after talking to the protesters. The local residents have kept up a token presence every day since.

Hounslow Highways returned on Tuesday 22 September, this time with several police officers present. Again they left without the work being done.

Protesters “do not represent the whole community”

Cllr Khan said:

“We are installing a barrier at Staveley Road / Park Road junction in Chiswick as an experimental trial to prevent motorists using it as a rat-run and make the road safer for walking and cycling. Currently, road traffic and average speeds on the road are excessive, with many residents concerned for their safety. On 14 September our Highways team was prevented from starting works on the road by a group of residents, and we have learned this morning our team was once again prevented from starting work.

“It is not acceptable for a small number of people to prevent the Council from starting this trial simply because they don’t like the idea of it. This group does not represent the whole community.  We know that many residents in the area are fully supportive of the trial taking place and want to experience it in situ so that they can feed back and be part of the decision-making process on whether or not it becomes permanent. In addition, their actions so far have wasted resource and public money by preventing our team from doing their job.

“We strongly encourage those engaged in these illegal activities to step back, follow the law, consider the views of the wider community and give their valued opinion through the consultation process that will run alongside the trial.  It is only by trialling different approaches that we can understand what works and what doesn’t. We will not be deterred from implementing this experimental scheme as a means of finding the most appropriate way of dealing with the issue of excessive levels of traffic on Staveley Road.”

Images above: Protesters in Staveley Rd; photographs Andrea Carnevali

It is unclear what law he thinks the protesters are breaking. There were at maximum about 30 people there, mainly middle aged and older, one in a disabled motorised scooter, occupying the island and the street corners, talking to the police and Hounslow Highways workers. The police did not attempt to move them forcibly.

The Chiswick Calendar has received correspondence from a resident of Staveley Rd saying Staveley Rd residents agree with what the council is doing because they are fed up with their street being a dangerous rat run.

Images above: Protesters in Staveley Rd; photographs Andrea Carnevali

“Nothing could be further from the truth”

The protesters deny that they are doing anything illegal. “Nothing could be further from the truth” said a member of the Park Rd residents group, who does not want to be named.

“The police complimented the residents present on their peaceful and socially distanced behaviour” he said.

“The police observed that it was not illegal to stand or walk across Pedestrian Refuge Island. There was no breach of the peace or obstruction and no one was either threatened with arrest or arrested”.

They say the council’s stance is “provacative” and “bullying”.

Their case is as follows:
The design of the junction is fatally flawed and dangerous because it removes Pedestrian Refuge Islands. The council undertook a flawed Road Safety Audit and is placing lives at risk. It has not consulted with residents, nor has it checked the plan with the RNIB or Accessibility groups.

They say although the council is using an Experimental Traffic Order procedure, which has to be reversible, it actually has no intention of it being reversible. They also say they understand a class action against the “inappropriate” use of Experimental Traffic Orders is being considered in other boroughs.

Images above: Protesters in Staveley Rd; photographs Andrea Carnevali

They are demanding a meeting with the council to discuss the plans before they are implemented, saying that they are concerned about cyclists but are not as concerned about the safety of pedestrians.

Staveley Rd has proved to be dangerous for cyclists. The correpondent who wrote to The Chiswick Calendar told us that he has answered the door to a cyclist “dripping in blood” on more than one occasion when they’ve been knocked off by a car.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Park Rd residents prevent Hounslow Highways from installing road barrier

See also: Protests in Staveley Rd as workmen return to install barrier

New restrictions could lead to ‘substantial job losses’

More stringent coronavirus measures announced

Protests in Staveley Rd as workmen return to install barrier

Man in the Middle – Chapter 52: My diet got stuck in the buffet car

I am standing naked on the bathroom scales with my eyes shut tight and my head bowed like a criminal in court, waiting for the judge to pass sentence on me.

I already know the verdict: guilty. The only question is how severe the sentence will be. My crime? My diet has gone off the rails and got stuck in the buffet car and I have broken all the dietary vows I made so recently to myself and my family. Again.

My diet had been going so well. I had shed a lot of tummy tonnage thanks to a home-made puritanical regime in which I basically stopped eating and drinking for three weeks. Fasting not feasting, I said to myself every morning, like a monk reciting a litany.

And for a while it worked, kilograms folded away like salami slices at a deli counter.

Unfortunately, the last four days have been a dietary disaster. I have put back on all the weight I had lost in a Bacchanal of liquid lunches, saucy dinners, cheesy snacks and takeaways. This morning I have to face up to the fact that my Götterdämmerung against my gut is heading towards defeat.

I started to lose the battle a few mornings ago when I ate Mother’s half eaten bacon sandwich, which her carer had left on a plate next to the recycling bin. Unconsciously, I picked it up and then it was gone. From that moment on, it’s been one long Fresher’s week for me and a few other like-minded, ‘getting-to-be-old-timers’. In short, I have been on a four-day Boomer bender of stupendous self-indulgence.

I have drunk stouts, ales, beers, lagers, wines and even a quarter of a bottle of Madeira, sometimes at the same sitting and from the same glass. I have eaten out at lunch time and dinner (even though Dishi Rishi’s foodie sales promotion is over) and filled my face excessively with a complete disregard for portion control or carbo-counting.

I have sampled platefuls of pleasure from France, Italy, Spain and India and, best of all, I have discovered cicchetti, those small Venetian snacks, which would bring about World Peace instantly if they were made compulsory at every diplomatic shin-dig across the globe or wherever else people with power gather.

Mae West said: ‘You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough’ and, in the last few days, I have done my very best to live up to her epicurean philosophy, in a social distanced way, of course.

Frankly, I don’t think I have had so much fun since I stayed up all night with a bottle of brandy replaying the news footage of Teresa May holding Donald Trump’s tiny hand so he could make it down a staircase without tipping over.

Of course, the family will be disappointed by my self-inflicted dietary defeat. This isn’t the first time I have made them promises about my beer gut and ended up on the losing side in the Battle of the Bulge.

But this time, I feel more guilty than usual. They are genuinely worried that my bulk may increase the risks of me suffering badly if I catch Covid19 and they’ve have been gently nagging at me for a while to do something about it.

‘Lose the love handles before the next wave,’ said my daughter, a marathon running, yoga loving girl whose idea of a blow-out is a Caesar’s Salad without the croutons or mayo dressing.
‘I can’t help it if I am a gourmand,’ I replied.

‘Gourmand is French for greedy pig. You mean gourmet,’ she said. ‘But whatever you want to call yourself, it’s time for a change.’

Faced with this caring onslaught what father would not try to do something to reassure his family that he really does want to carry on living? The question was how to lose weight? Every diet I had ever followed has been a failure. What could I do?

‘How about some gentle fasting?’ said my wife.

‘In the siege of Stalingrad, the Russians were allowed only 250 grams of food a day. If you copied that you’d lose the pounds pretty quick,’ said my son.

‘That’s inappropriate in so many ways,’ said my wife.

A light breeze comes in through the bathroom window and I realised I am getting cold standing naked on the scales.

I lift one eyelid open a millimetre at a time, like a weightlifter slowly raising a heavy barbell which may be too much for him. My wife calls from the bedroom.

‘What do the scales of justice say today?’

‘Are you sure these scales work?’ I reply, having spied the number staring back up at me from the bathroom scales.

‘That bad?’ she says.

‘It’s a small set back,’ I say.

‘Sounds more like Dunkirk,’ she says.

She’s right. The number staring up at me from the bathroom scales represents a full-scale retreat. As Joe Strummer might have said if he had made it to middle age: I fought the gut and the gut won.

‘Today’s a new beginning,’ I say. ‘I’ll soon be back on track.’

Behind me, I hear something that sounds like ‘hah’.

Decisions on hold because of Covid

The Government’s chief scientific and medical officers have made it clear that Britain is “heading in the wrong direction”, issuing a statement on Monday 21 September that we are at a “critical point in the pandemic” and warning that we could be looking at 50,000 new Covid-19 cases a day within weeks, if the current rates of infection aren’t brought down.

Anxiety and indecision at every level

As politicians debate what to do for the best, the divide in opinion between keeping things open and continuing with normal life or shutting down and staying at home is replicated at every level, from the Prime Minister and his Cabinet down to small businesses and families trying to make up their minds whether a sniffle means they should keep their kids off school and not go to work themselves.

Image above: Chiswick Flower Market. Photograph Frank Noon

Chiswick Flower Market

Chiswick’s new flower market is next due to be held on Sunday 4 October and the organisers (of whom The Chiswick Calendar’s editor is one) are now considering whether it should go ahead. The organisers are working closely with LB Hounslow and their officers, and are being guided by the national guidance on open air markets.

The first one had more than 7,000 visitors and was hugely successful in social and economic terms. Not only did the stallholders do well but existing local businesses saw a huge boost to their trade. Open air events are deemed relatively safe, but none of us wants to be responsible for spreading infection.

We may have to consider postponing the market, but we are also making some changes to the way in which we marshal future markets, based on the experience of the first one, including a ‘tender perennials’ hour for older people and those who are shielding, from 08.30 – 09.30am.

Image above: Dom Pipkin performing at George IV, Thursday 17 September

Hospitality and Entertainment

 

The Chiswick Calendar held its first Jazz at George IV session since March on Thursday 17 September. The layout of the Boston Room was changed, with the tables spaced out and the number of tickets available halved. The law, at least at time of writing (Monday 21 September) is that you are allowed to have no more than six people sitting together and no more than two households per table. The atmosphere was fantastic, with people clearly delighted to be able to see live music again and the artist, Dom Pipkin, equally grateful for an audience.

“It’s something we normally take for granted as live performers, but it’s so good to have you guys here to play to” he said.

Tickets are selling well for our next event, Oriana Curls’ Piaf Remembered show due to take place on Thursday 1 October.

The idea being discussed over the weekend that pubs should be closed again was firmly dismissed by Simon Emeny, CEO of Fuller’s:

“That would be illogical” he said. “Why close down a sector who (a) are regulated. (b) have been successfully working with strict guidelines, (c) have been and continue to work with Government on track and trace. Pubs are not the problem but can be part of the solution”.

 

Image above: Arts Ed online production Love & Information

Live entertainment is only just beginning to reopen after the summer. In the past week Watermans in Brentford has announced the return of live shows with their Friday night cabaret nights on 2 October.

ArtsEd is back, with students in school but their first performance of the term Love & Information by Caryl Churchill by MA acting students, will be streamed rather than performed in front of an audience. Available to view from Monday 28 September. Their weekend classes are also all online.

The Lyric Hammersmith is waiting to see what happens this week before they decide what they are able to offer in the run up to Christmas. They have already cancelled this year’s pantomime, postponing it till next year. Currently they are allowed to put on plays, but with social distancing the capacity of their 600 seat auditorium is reduced to 180.

“We’re waiting to see what happens and we’re trying to work out what we could do. Obviously the number of seats we could sell and social distancing back stage hugely dictates the kind of show we might be able to put on” their spokeswoman Amy Belson-Read told us. For the time being they are just running theatre courses for young people online. Courses in dance, ‘theatre making’ and directing for people up to the age of 25 start this week.

Images above: Watermans Cabaret nights planned for October – Lili La Scala; Nikki & JD – Knot – Photograph by David White

The Chiswick Playhouse is likewise in limbo. They were due to announce their autumn and winter schedule this week, but are now holding off to see what the Government announces.
Their 96 seats are reduced to 40 with social distancing. Currently they have a programme of one night only performances – a concert of musical theatre on 25 September and an evening of comedy and magic on 2 October – which they are holding outside in the pub’s courtyard. They are also advertising a musical Now Hear This, with a cast of four to be performed inside the theatre. Now Hear This is scheduled to run from 27 – 31 October.

“We are desperately doing everything we can to stay open and viable. We are determined to keep going until this thing is over” owner Fred Perry told The Chiswick Calendar.

Like everyone else he is watching and waiting, wondering which school of thought inside the Cabinet will win the argument as to whether personal safety or the economy should be considered more important at this point.

The children’s theatre classes on Saturday mornings, which Chiswick Playhouse launched at the beginning of September, are proving hugely successful. The theatre will continue to run them unless told otherwise.

Hogarth’s House reopens

Hogarth’s House has only just reopened to visitors on Tuesday 22 September. You can book timed entry tickets here in groups of up to six people.

Chiswick House is still haemorrhaging money. They have raised £75,000 in donations since they launched their campaign at the beginning of the summer. Their aim was to raise £120,000 by the end of September to replace the revenue they lost from commercial events and private functions such as weddings. They have been able to host small weddings, with a maximum of ten people inside the House and 30 people outside. The Chiswick Festival brought them a little bit of revenue, but they are still reliant on the goodwill of local people to make up the continuing loss of commercial revenue.

Lightopia, from the company which brought the Chinese lantern festival to the Gardens, was briefly advertised, but the organisers pulled out because they didn’t think they would be able to make enough money on it this year, as even though it’s an outside event, the costs of running events have been substantially increased by the coronavirus.

Director Xanthe Arvanitakis told The Chiswick Calendar she is hoping to run a Halloween event for families and some form of Christmas market in Chiswick House Gardens and some form of carol concert, depending on what will be permitted.

Image above: Fortitude Bakehouse, Turnham Green Terrace

High Rd Businesses

Paradoxically the High Rd appears to be having a mini revival. Whereas a year ago we were all bemoaning the 30 or so empty properties on Chiswick High Rd, these days empty properties are hard to come by. The take up of properties and the level of enquiries in the last two months has been “incredible” says Whitmans Commercial Director Jeremy Day. He has had 25 enquiries from people wanting to rent the property that was Byron burger restaurant and the good news, he says is that they’re all either restaurants or retailers such as grocers who want to sell things we might want to buy.

The combination of the fall in rental values, the holiday on business rates and the coronavirus inspired sudden love affair with all things local has brought many of the businesses who were doing well in central London and now find they aren’t any more, to try their hand at doing business in the suburbs. Fortitude Bakery, Hush Hush and Beleaf are all cases in point.

Image above: Grove Park surgery

Health services

GP surgeries are still not seeing people in person unless it’s absolutely necessary. Anecdotally, booking an appointment to talk to a GP locally, unless it’s urgent, takes about a week to ten days. Middlesex Hospital are still not doing any elective surgery and were unable to tell The Chiswick Calendar when they might resume.

Three major west London hospitals have gone on the record to explain how the coronavirus pandemic is causing a huge backlog on waiting lists for elective treatments and appointments.
The board of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (ICHT), which runs Charing Cross Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital and Hammersmith Hospital discussed a report in July which outlined the size of the problem. It said then that by that stage hundreds of patients had been waiting a year for a variety of different treatments, after being referred by their GP. Elective surgery has now been resumed at Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals.

Image above: Chiswick School head teacher Laura Ellener

Education

The lack of available testing has been playing havoc with children’s school attendance. About one in every 20 children in England is out of school because of issues linked to the pandemic, according to Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield.

Social media has been full of comments like this one from Dr Emma Kell:

“I’ve been trying to get a Covid test for my daughter, who has a cold, since Sunday. I’ve refreshed the site thousands of times. There is NOTHING. She and her sister had just started school again. We can’t go to school. It is at best frustrating, at worst a scandal”.

The frustration of parents like Emma has been echoed by headteacher of Chiswick School Laura Ellener. When Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee tweeted:

“Eton Head confirms to me that every pupil had a Covid test on arriving at school. Imagine if every child and teacher in the country had access to those private tests. Instead growing numbers stuck at home for lack of a test..”

Laura responded:

“This is the inequality that makes me mad. Not because they have it but because we don’t. I can provide everything: good teaching, aspiration, character and values but some things are simply about £££££££££”

Chiswick School has moved to a two week half term holiday this term, in line with private schools such as Latymer and Godolphin and Latymer (19 – 30 October) but teachers will still be providing classes for Year 11 students in one of those two weeks because they have missed so much this year.

“It is a source of great frustration that the testing facilities are not as straightforward as they need to be” she told The Chiswick Calendar. “School leaders have urged the government to take action to ensure that the testing facilities are readily available”.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Londoners expecting Covid restrictions

See also: Coronavirus cases across London continue to rise

 

Londoners expecting new Covid restrictions

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan says there is “no choice” but to introduce more measures to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. He met London council leaders on the afternoon of Monday 21 September and is expected to meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the morning of Tuesday 22 September, after which the Prime Minister will make a statement to parliament.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg is reporting that it sounds “very likely” that pubs and other venues in England will be forced to close at 10.00pm, alongside other measures.

Earlier on Monday the Government’s chief scientific and medical officers issued a statement saying that Britain is “heading in the wrong direction”. They warned that “we are at a “critical point in the pandemic” and that we could be looking at 50,000 new Covid-19 cases a day within weeks, if the current rates of infection are not brought down.

“New London plan”

Sadiq Khan said on Monday night:

“Without adequate testing or contact tracing in London we have no choice but to look at other measures to slow the spread of the virus. I firmly believe that acting early, rather than having to impose more stringent measures later, is the right thing to do both for public health and the economy.

“I have just met with local council leaders from all parties and public health experts to agree a new London plan to slow the spread of the virus and save Londoners lives. This includes some new restrictions. We will collectively be asking the Government to implement this plan as soon as possible and I will be discussing it with the Prime Minister tomorrow morning.

“I will be as clear as possible with Londoners about the full details and what it means for them as soon as it is agreed with Government.

“Stricter measures are needed”

After meeting with London Mayor Sadiq Khan, other borough leaders and public health experts, the Leader of Hounslow Council Steve Curran said last night:

“It’s clear that stricter measures are needed to slow the spread of coronavirus across the capital. Cases are rising exponentially and, with the current woefully inadequate test and trace system, extra steps need to be taken to protect our most vulnerable residents and control demand on hospitals”.

“If we act early we can hopefully save lives and reduce the likelihood of needing more stringent measures later. I urge the Prime Minister to listen to the collective voice of London and bring in the measures requested by the Mayor”.

Coronavirus “roughly doubling” each week

In Monday’s press briefing Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, said the UK could see 200 deaths every day if fast action is not taken to curb the spread of the disease.

Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer, told the press conference that over the next six months we would have to continue to take the pandemic “collectively very seriously”.

Sir Patrick said the spread of the epidemic is “roughly doubling” in the UK every week. Professor Whitty added that the UK should “break unnecessary links between households”.

The rate of infection in London (total number of people with at least one lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 test result) is at 503.4 per 100,000 people since the beginning of the pandemic, compared with 927.7 in the North West, 762.1 in the North East and 784.1 in Yorkshire and The Humber. The rates quoted do not take account of the different rates of testing.

“Pubs are not the problem”

The hospitality sector has been anticipating further restrictions, as various scenarios for halting the increase in infection have been discussed by the Prime Minister and those around him over the past few days. Some of the ideas floated over the past couple of weeks have included the possibility of early closing for pubs and a two week ‘circuit break’ imposing a short lockdown around half term.

The idea that pubs should be closed again was firmly dismissed by Simon Emeny, CEO of Fuller’s over the weekend:

“That would be illogical” he said. “Why close down a sector who (a) are regulated. (b) have been successfully working with strict guidelines, (c) have been and continue to work with Government on track and trace. Pubs are not the problem but can be part of the solution”.

Cabinet split

We are told the Cabinet is split over what to do. It’s reported that a full shutdown of the hospitality sector was discussed in Downing Street on Friday 18 September, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak against. He and Home Secretary Priti Patel are understood to be urging caution about causing long-term damage to the economy. They argue the Prime Minister should weigh up the effect of recent measures such as the introduction of £10,000 fines on those who break quarantine and the limitation on socializing to groups of six people, before making decisions that would have a negative impact on the economy.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove are reported to be encouraging Boris Johnson to take decisive action to prevent a sharp rise in cases over the next few weeks.

Frustration at prospect of more restrictions

After Monday’s meeting with London’s council leaders, Sadiq Khan acknowledged the frustration many Londoners will feel at the prospect of further restrictions:

“I know that many Londoners, like me, will be deeply frustrated at the likelihood of imminent new restrictions. Londoners have shown incredible resolve by steadfastly following the rules and doing the right thing – at great cost. However, taking firm action now to prevent a deeper and longer lockdown in the future is without a doubt the best thing to both save lives, and protect jobs and our economic recovery” he said.

Cllr Curran echoed his words:

“If we act early we can hopefully save lives and reduce the likelihood of needing more stringent measures later. I urge the Prime Minister to listen to the collective voice of London and bring in the measures requested by the Mayor.

“We all need to play our part too and follow the key government guidance – washing hands regularly, wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces, keeping two metres apart where possible, and no social gatherings in groups of more than six.

“We should never forget how awful things were during the peak of the first wave. We had 238 people die in Hounslow and hundreds more made seriously ill. Coronavirus is still out there, it can spread without symptoms and it is still lethal.

“I’ve been extremely proud and inspired by how Hounslow residents have stepped up to support each other during the pandemic, with the vast majority acting responsibly. We all have a duty to keep following the rules to protect our most vulnerable residents and the NHS.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Decisions on hold while we wait to hear

See also: Coronavirus cases continue to rise

Protests on Staveley Rd continue daily

Image above: protesters at Staveley Rd on Monday 21 September 2020

After their success in stopping Hounslow Highways workers from installing a barrier across Staveley Rd last week, protesters have kept up a daily presence at the junction of Satevley Rd and Park Rd, including over the weekend, in case the workmen return.

The barrier is due to be installed as part of the ‘Liveable Neighbourhoods’ scheme which is meant to stop motorists using residential streets in Grove Park as a cut through from the A316 to the A4.

Protesters “selfish”

A resident of Staveley Rd wrote to The Chiswick Calendar after last week’s story asking that we make it clear that:

“It was Park Road residents (NIMBY) NOT Staveley Road residents who were protesting. Staveley Road residents, who desperately need traffic speeds reduced on our road, are in favour of the planned work”.

Park Rd residents were being “incredibly selfish” he said and Cllr Sam Hearn’s involvement in the protest was “a disgrace”.

The protests started on Monday 14 September, when a team from Hounslow Highways turned up to remove the traffic island in Staveley Rd beside the junction with Park Rd and to install a diagonal barrier which would make it impossible to drive all the way along Staveley Rd from one end to the other.

The idea is to make it useless as a cut through, as cars travelling east to west to get onto Sutton Court Rd from the A316 would have to take a detour by turning left onto Park Rd. Cars going in the other direction would also have to turn left, heading north on Park Rd.

Some 8,000 cars a day pass along Sutton Court Rd each day, most of them just passing through Grove Park to shave a couple of minutes on their journey time by avoiding Hogarth roundabout. Traffic surveys have shown that over 70% of traffic entering Hartington Road from the A316 by Chiswick Bridge is driving straight through the area. LB Hounslow is trying to make the environment of Grove Park better and safer.

A group calling themselves ‘the Park Rd neighbours group’ is objecting because they say they have not been consulted on the scheme and the removal of the traffic island and Give Way signs will make Staveley Rd more dangerous to cross. Their spokesman declined to be named.

Julian Dunn, who lives on Staveley Rd, told The Chiswick Calendar that he had lived on the road for 19 years “with traffic flying up and down at 50 or 60 mph”.  There are road markings indicating the speed limit of 20 mph, but they make precious little difference, he says.

“Twice I’ve answered the door in the morning to cyclists who have been knocked off their bikes, blood pouring from their wounds, asking for help” he said.

“The difficulty is that Park Rd has always been a quiet road and has some very vocal people. I think they’re being incredibly selfish.

“The new scheme would divert some of the traffic down their quiet street, but it would make a huge difference to Staveley Rd.

“If they just waited until the council had implemented the whole scheme across Grove Park, in an organised way”, he said, “they will in time see that after a few months it will cut the amount of traffic throughout the whole area”.

Cllr Sam Hearn a “disgrace”

Julian described Cllr Sam Hearn as “a disgrace” because “he’s out there on the street orchestrating it. He should be representing all the people in the neighbourhood, not just those that live on his road”.

Cllr Hearn lives on Park Rd. He told The Chiswick Calendar last week that he was not “orchestrating” the protest, but was there only in a “supporting role”. He did however talk to the team leader of the Hounslow HIghways crew and tell him that the safety audit for the job was incomplete, after which the workmen left.

The Chiswick Calendar has also heard from a resident of Park Rd who has two young children with a medical condition which makes it difficult for them to understand danger. Their father told us that their own road would be busier and crossing Staveley Rd would be more dangerous for them without the central traffic island. He and his wife had chosen to live there partly because it was a quiet road.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Park Rd residents stop Hounslow Highways installing road barrier in Staveley Rd

See also: Cllr Sam Hearn’s blog on proposals for south Chiswick from May 2020

Tidy Coaching – Does your home ‘spark joy’?

South Western Rail refunds over 36,000 season tickets

“Unprecedented demand” for flu jabs already

Episode 21: Talking with Huw Turbervill and Simon Hughes of The Cricketer

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.

The Cricketer, on the edge of a well-deserved century, is the oldest surviving cricket magazine in the world – and shows no sign of leaving the crease. With Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their latest cricket-themed podcast are its managing editor, and historian, Huw Turbervill, and its editor, Simon Hughes, known to millions from his televised appearances as the Analyst.


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They reveal that another distinguished centenarian, Captain Sir Tom Moore is a subscriber and an avid cricket follower.

They trace the history of The Cricketer, from its foundation in 1921 as a worthwhile activity for Plum Warner after his retirement from first-class cricket. Although it followed the Great War and the Spanish flu pandemic but neither figured much in its early pages. Initially a weekly newspaper (at six old pence, about the price of a pint of beer), it began a tradition of securing famous cricketers and distinguished authors as contributors for little or no money.

Besides being general editor of The Cricketer, Warner was cricket correspondent of the (ultra-conservative) Morning Post newspaper. He combined these roles with managing England’s Bodyline tour of Australia in the 1930s an arrangement unthinkable today, which caused Warner considerable stress.
In 1939, The Cricketer greeted the outbreak of war with a memorable cricket-themed editorial. Gallantly, the staff coped with paper shortage and the Blitz to bring out issues throughout the war, which were much appreciated by British prisoners-of-war.

Huw and Simon share vivid memories of two distinguished contributors – E W Swanton, grandiose and overbearing but devoted to cricket and good writing, and Christopher Martin-Jenkins, gentle, humorous and always running late, who inspired deep loyalty.

They analyse the innovative competitions in English cricket introduced and still supported by The Cricketer, the Cup for old boys’ teams, and the highly popular National Village Trophy, which gives village teams the chance of playing at Lord’s (even in this Covid year.)

Huw and Simon reveal the ructions caused by their two-yearly attempts to name the players and writer with the greatest influence in cricket. They reveal those who objected to being demoted or under-placed.

They describe The Cricketer’s tight relationship with its readers and its determination to cover cricket at all levels. Recent issues have had a more social focus, and Simon outlines the magazine’s treatment of BlackLivesMatter and the loss of black people to English cricket.

Outlining his latest book A New Innings, co-authored with Manoj Badale owner of the IPL team, Rajastan Royals, Simon charts the generally benign effects of T20 on global cricket. He also sets out the revolutionary implications of the new relationships between cricketers and spectators through sophisticated digital platforms. These could make cricket thrive even if live spectatorship remains off-limits due to Covid (or the next virus).

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

Car removed from Chiswick flyover

The car which forced Chiswick flyover to close all afternoon and evening on Thursday 17 September was removed later that night at 11.00pm.

A red four door Vauxhall Astra appeared to have misjudged the width of the entry point onto the flyover on the A316 Burlington Lane, which takes traffic northbound over the Hogarth roundabout, and ended up being part-suspended on a bollard after mounting the kerb. The road is narrowed to prevent wider vehicles getting onto the flyover.

The accident caused tail backs all along the A2316.

The Roads and Transport Metropolitan Police Service Tweeted:

Avoid A316 Burlington Ln @MPSHounslow due to a car having failed to negotiate width restrictions at the Hogarth Flyover. @BBCTravelAlert

This driver is not the first to have misjudged the gap. The area around it is often littered with the remnants of wing mirrors.

Our thanks to Chris Lucy for the pictures.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Traffic collision on A316 causes gridlock

See also: Staveley Rd residents stop Hounslow Highways installing road barrier

Hogarth flyover closed after car accident

Council hits back at Staveley Road protesters

Coronavirus cases across London continue to rise

LB Hounslow’s Director of Public Health, Kelly O’Neill, issued a statement on Wednesday 16 September warning that coronavirus cases were on the rise across London.

‘We must work together to bring these numbers down, control the spread of the virus, and continue to protect people who are vulnerable to severe symptoms of the virus. These vulnerable people will be members of our family, our friends and our neighbours for whom catching the virus could be serious and need hospital care. We must not allow a return to the high numbers of people in hospital we had between April and May – with your help we can avoid this.

‘The rise in numbers has coincided with the easing of lockdown restrictions, the start of the school term, of working-aged people returning to their workplaces and people socialising. Similar to the national picture, the majority of our cases are working age adults aged between 20 and 50. As of today, there were 88 people who have had a confirmed positive test in the last seven days, and this number is increasing even though access to testing is proving to be a challenge.

‘Our rate is still below the figure where a local lockdown would be considered, but it is one of the highest rates in London. None of us want to see more restrictions in place, we need to be able to carry on our daily routine, keep our children safely in school, and support our shops and local businesses. We can all play our part to help keep Hounslow open for business. Unless you are exempt, please wear a face covering when you’re inside public spaces or out and about and can’t maintain a two metre distance, and remember to wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds.

‘We have beautiful green spaces in our borough, but it is crucial that you don’t meet up in groups of more than six people, unless they are from your household or social bubble. Don’t be the one to break the rules they have been imposed to address rising infection levels and you can be fined if you are found to be breaking them.

‘If you develop symptoms of the virus, please immediately self-isolate and book a test. If you cannot get a test, please be responsible and self-isolate – this is really important. The national testing programme is struggling to manage the high demand for Covid-19 tests. It’s important that if you don’t have symptoms, and have not been advised to take a test that you don’t book one – tests need to be prioritised for people who are symptomatic. I know this is frustrating for everyone.

‘I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the majority of residents who have been following the guidance, and shown so much resilience and community spirit throughout this crisis. Let’s continue to work together to keep Hounslow safe’.

Kelly O’Neill

Director Public Health

London Borough of Hounslow

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Almost a third of Hounslow residents furloughed

See also: Government setting up task force to restore Hammersmith Bridge

Almost a third of Hounslow residents furloughed

Hounslow Council held a conference on Monday on the regeneration of the borough post-Covid. There were some eye-wateringly shocking figures bandied about. With the Chancellor’s furlough scheme due to end at the end of October, the council is braced for a spike in unemployment.

Nearly a third of Hounslow residents have been furloughed; 55,600 people, or 31% working age population. As companies find they can no longer afford to keep people on once the Government subsidy is removed, the unemployment rate is expected to rise to over 10% in the borough, with the expected loss of 8,000 jobs by 2021. This is largely because of the borough’s dependency on Heathrow, with most of the impact being taken by those areas closest to the airport, but the council’s projections show that no area of the borough is immune, with job losses expected even in the affluent eastern end of the borough.

Hounslow is not used to having a long term unemployment problem. The borough’s 15,000 businesses include some big players – not just Heathrow, but Sky, Glaxo Smith Kline and Brentford Football Club as well as the many national and international businesses whose UK headquarters are at the Chiswick Business Park. Between them they generate £14 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy – the seventh highest of the 33 London boroughs.

But all that looks set to change with the flatlining of the air travel industry since the outbreak of the pandemic. 12,000 businesses in the borough reported that they had suffered a negative impact because of the coronavirus. 8,000 suspended trade during the lockdown and the resulting reduction in Hounslow’s GVA is projected to be £2.7 billion (15%).

Images above: LB Hounslow Chief Executive Niall Bolger; Council leader Steve Curran, who chaired the conference

A third of residents think it will take more than a year to get back to normal

Chief Executive Niall Bolger told the conference that the borough were proud of the way in which they’d coped with the pandemic. At its peak they were delivering more than 800 food parcels per week, aided by 450 residents who volunteered to help. The borough has 23,000 residents who have been shielding.

In a survey carried out for the council it was revealed that 32% of the borough’s residents think it will take more than a year for things to get back to normal, if ever. There are still a considerable number of people who are worried about food supplies, with 12% of those surveyed believing that no one would come to their aid if they were bed bound.

Huge increases in homelessness and domestic abuse

Job losses are expected to have the greatest impact on lower skilled, lower paid and older (50+) people he said. There has already been an increase of 157% in the number of people needing temporary accommodation during lockdown and 1,000% increase in the number of rough sleepers.

As has been reported in the national media, the lockdown had an adverse impact on those who are vulnerable to abuse. In LB Hounslow domestic abuse referrals were 139% up on figures for the same time last year. Child protection services saw a 60% increase in referrals over the same period as last year.

The council’s response to all this is to have set up specific task forces looking at economic recovery, community ties, social and well-being impact and the environment. They are looking for engagement from people with relevant skills and seeking the advice of the borough’s big businesses in beginning to reshape the local economy.

Children have returned to school “relatively successfully” said Niall Bolger, but he warned the borough has one of the highest adult and child rates of diabetes in the country. Currently we are at 29 per 100,000 Covid infections, but the council is gearing up for a second wave.

“We will be ramping up our response” he said, on the day that the Government introduced the maximum of six people from two households for social gatherings.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Hounslow Council ends leisure centre contract with Fusion

See also: Councillors write to Transport Secretary protesting Chiswick’s traffic changes

OMP

Private Eye worthy page layout

The protests in Ealing over the introduction of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods were reported in the Express newspaper on both Friday and Saturday, as hundreds of people marched to the town hall to object to the council’s plans.

Over the past few weeks there have been bollards and planters overturned and defaced; oil was poured along the road in an apparent attempt to handicap cyclists and council workers have been abused and threatened. According to a statement from Ealing Council, a number of people have been arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage.

Image above: Express report Friday 11 September 

The page layout of Friday’s article was particularly unfortunate. Either their sub editor needs a refresher course on page layout or they live in Ealing and they agree with the protesters.

express.co.uk/news

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Protests against Ealing’s traffic restrictions make national news

See also: Staveley Rd residents stop Hounslow Highways installing road barrier

Protests against Ealing’s traffic restrictions make national news

The protests in Ealing over the introduction of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods were reported in the Express newspaper on Saturday, as hundreds of people marched to the town hall to object to the council’s plans.

Over the past few weeks there have been bollards and planters overturned and defaced; oil was poured along the road in an apparent attempt to handicap cyclists and council workers have been abused and threatened. According to a statement from Ealing Council, a number of people have been arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage.

Organisers of the protests, which have for the main part been peaceful, distanced themselves from the vandals – with one campaigner, Laura Begg, saying:

“It is not what the anti-LTN (low traffic neighbourhoods) group stands for – it doesn’t achieve anything removing the bollards as it doesn’t show the council the true build up of traffic”.

“It’s not a specific group of people doing it and it’s not an organised thing, it is just random acts by very angry people”.

Image above: protesters spray painted over one of the planters, a bollard was removed and oil was poured along the road (Source: Facebook)

On Saturday 12 September hundreds of protesters gathered, many with banners and placards objecting that the council was introducing traffic restrictions without any consultation.

‘Not fit for purpose’

The council says it has introduced a package of measures to reduce rat-running through residential streets, improve road safety for pedestrians and cyclists and improve air quality.

Critics say the measures introduced have lead to increased to congestion on nearby main roads and could prevent emergency services vehicles from getting to their destinations. They insist they support the council’s aims of improving air quality, road safety and cutting traffic in the area, but claim the road scheme is not fit for purpose.

Resident Scott Jones said: “The LTNs have been deployed without consultation of residents.

“Ealing Council has stated that their actions have been in regard to ‘future’ rat-runs.

“Why then have they not published the data in regards to ‘future’ scenarios?

“Anecdotal and documented evidence via entities ranging from the London Ambulance Service to district nurses shows that key workers were unaware of these changes; changes that have been detrimental to their work in their duty of care.

“The lack of reasoning in conjunction with supporting data in the sudden changes is concerning to all”.

Images above: protestors with placards criticising council leader Julian Bell, more protestors 

Wandsworth Council to suspend their ‘Low Traffic Neighbourhood’

Wandsworth council has decided to suspend their Low Traffic Neighbourhood measures which were introduced over the summer.

The changes, they said, were part of a series of measures introduced to free up additional space on the highway to support social distancing and to promote alternative forms of travel as commuters return to work, but an initial review of the trials identified concerns with emergency access and traffic flows. The scale of the A24 changes, coinciding with the council’s efforts to establish Low Traffic Neighbourhoods on residential streets, had caused confusion and long traffic queues.

Wandsworth Council’s cabinet member for strategic planning and transportation, Councillor John Locker said:

“We have monitored the traffic flows and listened to feedback from residents and businesses. We have also spoken to our partners including local hospitals and key services to hear the impact on them.

“It is clear that the LTNs are not delivering the benefits we want to see. In fact it looks like the combination of changes in areas like Tooting, where TfL are making changes to the main high road, are unfortunately having the opposite effect. That is why we have taken the difficult decision to pause and re-think about how we can achieve our objective of delivering healthier, safer streets.

“We all want to do what is right environmentally, whilst maintaining people’s ability to travel and making sure town centres and high streets function properly. It’s important that we listen to what people are saying so that we get this right”.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Councillors write to Transport Secretary protesting Chiswick’s traffic changes

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

Park Rd residents stop Hounslow Highways installing road barrier in Staveley Rd

When Hounslow Highway workers turned up today to take out the central traffic island in Staveley Rd at the junction with Park Rd and install a barrier as part of LB Hounslow’s new traffic restrictions, the local residents were ready for them.

Protesting is difficult while observing social distancing, but they opted for six on each corner and a small group in the middle of the road – a maximum of 24. That was enough for the electrician and labourers employed to start installing the Grove Park ‘liveable neighbourhood’ to give it up as a bad job and go on to their next engagement.

“No consultation”

“We all see the problem of rat-running”, said Cllr Sam Hearn, whose own house is on Park Rd, “but these things have been foisted on us with no consultation”.

A spokesman for the Park Rd neighbours group, who preferred not to be named, told The Chiswick Calendar they had been “overlooked” by the council and that the ‘have your say’ survey on the council’s website was biased against opposition, as he says it allowed people to agree with comments but not to oppose them.

The ‘liveable neighbourhoods’ plan is aimed at stopping commuters following their sat navs’ instructions and zig-zagging through a residential neighbourhood to avoid Hogarth roundabout, in order to shave a couple of minutes off their journey time. Traffic surveys have shown that over 70% of traffic entering Hartington Road from the A316 by Chiswick Bridge is driving straight through the area. Sutton Court Road has over 8,000 vehicles per day.

Part of the proposed ‘liveable neighbourhood’ scheme for Grove Park is to build a diagonal barrier across Staveley Rd to prevent people speeding down it and using it as a cut through. Some local residents are in favour of the scheme, but others are not. The barrier would allow people living in Staveley Rd to access their properties, but would force traffic from the east to turn south, the opposite direction from their planned cut through. Westbound drivers would be forced to head north, effectively stopping commuters using the road as a rat run by making their journey longer.

“Pitting neighbour against neighbour”

This scheme is tantamount to bullying the Park Rd residents group spokesman told me.

“It’s pitting neighbour against neighbour and friend against friend”.

Conservative councillors support those who are against the introduction of the barrier. Cllr Hearn told The Chiswick Calendar he was there in a supporting role rather than as an organiser. He told us he informed the Hounslow Highways superviser that the safety audit for the job was incomplete.

Cllr Hearn initially welcomed the liveable neighbourhoods proposals generally, which include the introduction of ‘school streets’ at Chiswick School and Grove Park Primary School, and making Hartington Rd from Chiswick Bridge to Kew Bridge into a no through route.

No consideration of pedestrians

The spokesman for the Park Rd neighbours group told us that taking out the traffic island in the middle of Staveley Rd and the give way signs at the junctions with Park Rd north and south would make the junction dangerous for pedestrians. If there had been a proper road safety audit done, this would have taken the interests of pedestrians into consideration.

He was also highly sceptical that that the changes would be temporary.

“People don’t trust the council. The flyover at Hogarth roundabout was temporary and that was introduced 30 years ago.

“TfL is bust and local authorities’ finances will be even more constrained in the future so the chances of this being reversed are zero”.

What next?

After quick consultations with their HQ by phone, and coffee with one of the local residents, the Hounslow Highways team were on their way. 1-0 to the protesters.

What the Park Rd residents group would like to see happen next is for LB Hounslow to enter into a consultation with residents.

“They need to listen to us” their spokesman said.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Councillors write to Transport Secretary protesting Chiswick’s traffic changes

See also: Radical plans for south Chiswick 

 

Episode 20: Talking with Former First-Class Pakistani Cricketer Qamar Ahmed

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.

Qamar Ahmed is a legend in global cricket. He reported 450 Test matches – about one in six of all those ever played since 1877 – and 738 one-day internationals, including nine of the twelve World Cups. He is respected throughout the cricket world for his authority and integrity. He recently published his memoir Far More Than A Game. He is the guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller on their cricket-themed podcast.


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As a boy, Qamar Ahmed experienced the sudden and traumatic end of an idyllic childhood in Bihar, in pre-Partition India through communal violence. Movingly he describes the heroic Hindu family who sheltered him and his family from mobs looking for Muslims to kill – and even more movingly, re-visiting them in Bihar some thirty years later.

Relocated in Pakistan, Qamar Ahmed became a cricketer. He shares vivid memories of the vanished world of first-class cricket there in the 1950s, playing for ten rupees a day (about 50p or ten shillings). He played against the great Mohammed brothers (including a thirteen-year-old Mushtaq), faced the party-loving spin bowling genius Prince Aslam, and had to endure on début a complete duffer in his first-class team – because he had selected himself as Secretary of the local association. He describes his relationship with the great early Pakistan coach, Master Aziz – and years later, his son Salim Durrani, who became a star in Indian cricket and (briefly) movies.

As a journalist, Qamar Ahmed had meetings with many famous people in and out of cricket. He gives a close-up account of four of them: Kerry Packer, Sir Don Bradman (introduced to him in a generous gesture by Bill “Tiger” O’Reilly) and Nelson Mandela. But there was one person he refused to meet: General Zia ul-Haq, then ruler of Pakistan. Qamar Ahmed explains why.

He reflects on the current state of Pakistan cricket, laments the general decline in the quality of Test cricket (after 450 samples) and expresses his fears for its future, especially if a “two-tier” system of Test-playing countries takes hold.

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.

Government setting up task force to restore Hammersmith Bridge