RNLI Chiswick crew rescue people cut off by the tide

Image above: Chiswick lifeboat

The Chiswick lifeboat crew rescued seven people on Saturday 27 February, who found themselves cut off by the tide at Black Lion steps in Hammersmith.

Earlier in the day three adults and two children were also rescued from Chiswick Eyot, when they found themselves stranded by the incoming tide.

“We have had a real flurry of people getting caught out by the tide on Chiswick Eyot as the weather has started to improve” they said.

This is happening quite a lot; 21 people have been rescued so far this year in a similar predicament.

“In the past couple of months, since the beginning of Lockdown three, the incidence of people being cut off by the tide has increased and the same happened last year” Chiswick lifeboatman David Clarke told The Chiswick Calendar.

More people are out walking, and especially if they’re new to the river and don’t realise it’s tidal, or don’t realise quite how tidal it is, they get caught out. At spring tide when the river is at peak flow the tide can rise by about a metre and a half in just an hour.

The maximum difference between low tide and high tide Kew Bridge at spring tide is five and a half metres.

“We’re finding the number of people we’re called out to help is about the same as usual” said David “but instead of going to the aid of people in pleaseure craft, it tends to be walkers”.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Car swept into the river at Chiswick Mall

See also: The invasion of Chiswick Ait

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Chiswick School gets ready to open on 8 March

Images above: Chiswick School Head teacher Laura Ellener; the school’s gym laid out ready for mass testing

School gym transformed into a mass testing centre

Chiswick School is getting ready to welcome students back to classrooms following the Prime Minister’s announcement that from 8 March children could begin to return to school.

The sports hall has been transformed into a lateral flow testing site where students will learn how to self-test before being given test kits to use at home.

Since January, teaching and support staff have been running the test site for those children still attending school on site and the school say they are very confident that they can manage the increase in students using the facility.

READ ALSO: Schools open but Hounslow still has highest infection rate in London

LB Hounslow’s Director of Public Health, Kelly O’Neill says it’s important for parents to play their part and allow their secondary school age children to be vaccinated.

Parents must be careful about social distancing and wear masks when dropping children up or picking them up from school and if they have any symptoms they should not go to school, but get themselves tested and self isolate.

Image above: Chiswick School Head teacher Laura Ellener talking to pupils

Exams this summer

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced the method that schools will use to arrive at students’ GCSE and A Level results. Schools will have to work out pupils’ grades themselves, using a combination of mock exams, coursework and essays.

The exams watchdog Ofqual has confirmed that there will also be optional assessments set by exam boards for all subjects, but they will not be taken in exam conditions nor will they be used to decide final grades.

The exams administrator also says results will be published earlier in August than usual, to allow students time to appeal against grades they don’t think are fair.

After the exam debacle of 2020, when teachers assessed students and 39% A Level grades in England were downgraded by Ofqual, and the system was abandoned in favour of using mock exam results, Schools minister Nick Gibb said this time the government had devised:

“the best system possible to ensure there is consistency and fairness in how teachers submit grades for their students”.

Chiswick School leader, Graham McNamara said:

“our students have been learning throughout this time and teachers have been delivering all lessons through live teaching. We are confident that students are in a great position to do brilliantly and we are proud of how hard they have worked during this difficult time”.

Image above: Children at Chiswick School

Summer Schools

Ministers announced on 24 February that funds would be made available to provide summer schools for Year Seven students. Sir Kevan Collins, who was quickly given the nickname ‘catch up czar’ when he was appointed at the beginning of February to address the problem of children missing out on learning, said:

“We know that ensuring all children and young people can make up for lost learning will be a longer-term challenge, and the range of measures announced today are an important next step.”

The Government has allocated £200 million for headteachers to run face-to-face teaching over the summer holidays as part of a the national catch-up plan.

Before the Government’s announcements Chiswick School had already been making plans to run a Summer camp, says Headteacher Laura Ellener, for current Year 6 students who plan on attending the school from September.

Big increase in children choosing Chiswick

On 1 March parents across the country will find out which secondary schools they have been allocated. Chiswick added an additional Year seven class in September 2020 because of the growing popularity of the school.

It is a year ago that Chiswick School was inspected by Ofsted and pronounced ‘Good’ and praised for its ‘Outstanding’ personal development.

“We were delighted to see a 62% increase this year in parents choosing the school as first choice for their child”said Laura, “a sure sign that the school is moving towards its aim of being at the heart of the community.

“We are delighted that parents can now have great confidence in their local secondary school and I cannot wait to welcome children from local primary schools to join us in September.

“We are planning a fun and exciting Summer programme where children can enjoy being with their friends and having a great time through a range of exciting activities”.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Interview with Laura Ellener, Head teacher of Chiswick School

See also: Chiswick Head Teacher “devastated” that exams have been cancelled

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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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.

Schools open but Hounslow still has highest infection rate in London

Image above: LB Hounslow’s Director of Public Health, Kelly O’Neill

The start of the Prime Minister’s ‘roadmap’ for the gradual easing of lockdown is the opening of schools nationwide on Monday 8 March.

“For some parents this will be a moment of elation” says LB Hounslow’s Director of Public Health, Kelly O’Neill, but for others “but for other parents this will be a very anxious time”.

In a video message to residents on Friday 26 February, she said:

“School head teachers and the staff have invested much of their time in making schools a very safe place for your children to learn. Added safety measures are in place within all schools. All school staff are being tested twice a week and secondary school students will start to be tested from their return to school”.

This, she said, would allow schools to be safer places, but she warned that Hounslow, even though rates rates of infection have dropped since mid January, still had the highest rate of infection in London.

Watch Kelly’s video message here.

 

Parents must play their part in keeping the infection rate down

It is important to children to reduce the impact of isolation and to reduce the loss of learning that we saw last term, but she said, it is inevitable that when the schools go back there will be a corresponding increase in infection levels.

“As parents, if you do have secondary school age children it is really important that you consent to them being tested.

“Children in primary schools and specialist schools do not require to be tested. As parents though, you can all play your part and help contribute to reducing the rates of infection. There are processes which schools have set up and put in place. Please follow those processes.

“Wear a mask and socially distance when you drop off and collect your child from school. That is really important.

She also encouraged parents to get themselves tested, to help her and her team understand the pattern of infection in the borough and to keep schools as safe as they can be.

“If you have symptoms of coronavirus, get tested and isolate. Don’t be irresponsible and put others at risk” she said.

Image above: The gym at Chiswick School, converted to Covid test centre for staff and students

Chiswick School ‘ready’ to start mass testing

At Chiswick School, staff are getting ready to welcome students back to classrooms. The sports hall has been transformed into a lateral flow testing site where students will learn how to self-test before being given test kits to use at home.

Since January, teaching and support staff have been running the test site for those children still attending school on site and the school say they are very confident that they can manage the increase in students using the facility.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: More cases of SA variant detected in Ealing

See also: Big campaign under way in Ealing to get people tested for SA variant

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.

 

ArtsEd receive £250,000 from theatre producer David Ian

Image above: David Ian

ArtsEd, the independent drama and musical theatre school in Chiswick which runs both a day school and courses all the way up to degree level, have announced a major donation of £250,000.

The gift has come from David Ian, who was appointed as a trustee to ArtsEd in November 2020. Chief Executive of the production company which bears his name, and the recipient of five Olivier awards and three Tony nominations, David is a world-renowned theatre producer with a highly successful career spanning over 30 years.

His donation launches the drama school’s fundraising campaign for the ArtsEd Playhouse, the final phase of a ten-year, £20 million investment in their Chiswick home.

Image above: Imelda Stunton in David Ian production Hello Dolly

New theatre for ArtsEd

Summer 2021 will see the official opening of the most recent element of this project, a three-storey extension into an underused courtyard that includes new rehearsal rooms, dance studios and classrooms. The project was launched in 2013 with the creation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Theatre.

The ArtsEd Playhouse will replace the old Studio Theatre, enabling students to ‘develop the skills required to perform in more intimate spaces and ensuring that ArtsEd can continue to stage more than 20 professional standard productions per year.’

ArtsEd is one of the UK’s leading drama schools, offering conservatoire training on three-year BA (Hons) degree courses from its school of Acting and Musical Theatre and home to a Day School and Sixth Form. The school has been repeatedly praised by Ofsted as ‘outstanding’ and is ranked in the top 10% of all schools nationally for ‘value added’. Its reputation as a centre for excellence lies in the industry-focused expertise and calibre of staff, its intensive and practical training schedule, and strong focus on pastoral care.

Image above: David Ian production Cats

David said: “As a long-time friend to, and supporter of ArtsEd, I was delighted to be appointed to their Board of Trustees last year. Their Chiswick home has undergone a remarkable renovation and extensive addition to its facilities, ensuring it will remain at the forefront of performing arts training in the UK for many years to come. I’m pleased to kickstart their final round of fundraising, which will allow for the building of the ArtsEd Playhouse and complete their capital campaign.”

David took a tour of the new building in December, and Chris Hocking, Principal of ArtsEd, was pleased to show him the rehearsal studio named after him.

Chris said: “David’s generous donation means we are now close to finishing what has been a ten-year project to improve and increase the facilities of our Chiswick home. This investment in ArtsEd demonstrates David’s commitment to supporting us as we provide world-leading training in the performing arts, despite the many challenges to our industry over the last year. I can’t wait to welcome audiences to the new ArtsEd Playhouse very soon!”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: ArtsEd ‘delighted’ with alumni on primetime TV shows

See also: David Tennant nominated for Broadcasting Press Guild awards

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.

Man arrested following series of knifepoint robberies

A man has been arrested following a linked series of commercial knifepoint robberies in west London and south west London.

The 45-year-old was arrested on the morning of Thursday, 25 February, in the vicinity of Northfield Avenue, Ealing. The arrest follows a series of seven incidents that are being treated as related. They took place between Friday, 16 October 2020 and Thursday, 25 February at a number of supermarkets in Hounslow, Ealing, and Richmond.

Officers also recovered a large kitchen knife during the arrest.

In each of the cases, the suspect is alleged to have waited for the store to be opened by staff members, before threatening them with a knife. He then stole cash from the tills, and on occasion, cigarettes, alcohol, and scratch cards, which were placed into a black holdall and a bin bag/Sainsbury’s bags.

In total, over £25,000 worth of cash and goods were stolen.

The man is in custody at a south London police station.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also:  More cases of SA variant found in Ealing

See also: Hounslow Leader and Cabinet members planning hefty allowance increases for themselves

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.

More cases of SA variant detected in Ealing

More cases of the South African variant of Covid have been identified in LB Ealing: in Acton, Greenford, Southall and West Ealing.

There has been a surge in testing in west Ealing since a single case of the South African variant was found there at the end of January.  The council has organised for staff to go door to door encouraging people to take test. Rupa Huq MP made a video with her sister Konnie Huq and her husband Charlie Brooker and community leaders to encourage people living in west Ea;ling to get themselves tested.

These new cases are not believed to be linked to international travel. The South African variant is more easily transmissable than the English version.

More surge testing will now be carried out in the borough. Normal testing does not identify which variant of the virus a patient has – that can only be done by genome sequencing, which takes about three weeks.

The council is now asking people to go to their local walk-up community test sites and get a rapid test from Thursday, 25 February. This will help identify people who have the virus and whether further tests need to take place to check for variants. One has been set up in West Ealing at Dean Gardens car park, Leeland Terrace, West Ealing, W13 9DA.

‘There are several different variants of Covid-19 in the UK and it is likely that more will develop as the virus changes over time” said a council statement. ‘Therefore, it is essential to drive down the number of cases of Covid-19 whichever variant people have.’

On Wednesday the government announced that surge testing would begin in the HP10 postcode in Buckinghamshire and SW8 and SW9 postcodes in Lambeth in London.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Big campaign under way in Ealing to get people tested for SA variant

See also: Rupa Huq gets celeb mates to make ‘get vaccinated’ video

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.

63 year old rejected for vaccine after ‘glitch’ in NHS app

Image: Hilary Atherton

A 63 year old woman was rejected, having booked an appointment for a Covid vaccine on the NHS app. Hilary Atherton, who lives in Chiswick, contacted The Chiswick Calendar to warn other in the 60 – 63 age group that they are likely to be turned away.

‘I have received lots of texts and emails over the last 24 hours from various friends and contacts publicising that if you are over 60 you can proactively book a Covid vaccine though the NHS Covid app Hilary told us.

‘I consequently went onto the app last night and saw completely open availability across several local vaccinations centres. I chose the one nearest to me in Clayponds Gardens in S Ealing and booked an appointment for this morning (Wednesday 24 February).

‘When I arrived I was told that they were very sorry but there is a glitch on the NHS app and the vaccine is only being offered to over 64s (I am 63) and so unless I was clinically vulnerable they could not vaccinate me – and I was turned away’.

News of the availability of slots for people aged 60 and over has been circulating among that age group and people all over the country have been booking appointments.

‘My name was on the list and a dose assigned to me’ says Hilary, ‘so I’m not sure what happened to that dose.

‘Also, the ease and availability of booking slots shows that there is ample supply and resources – so I am not sure why they are turning away someone one year out – (especially as GP surgeries are simply working through their lists by age and some are down to 60-year-olds – not mine!) but that is the reality of the situation. I hope this is helpful’

The Chiswick Calendar has asked NHS England to comment.

Image above: Chiswick Health Centre

Chiswick Health Centre vaccinating 60 – 64 age group

Chiswick Health Centre has confirmed that it is now vaccinating people in the 60 – 64 age group as well as anyone over 16 who has an underlying health condition. They start vaccinating again on Friday 26 February and have been using both the Oxford AstraZenica vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, depending which one they are given.

Chiswick health Centre takes referrals from GP surgeries locally, but as Hilary says, not all surgeries have get completed their list of people aged 65 and over.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Hounslow Leader and Cabinet members planning hefty allowance increases for themselves

See also: Design unveiled for Yeats sculpture planned for Chiswick

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.

Vigil held for taxi driver stabbed to death

Cab drivers have held a vigil outside the head offices of Bolt private car hire firm in Chiswick, after one of their drivers, Gabriel Bringye was stabbed to death.

Mr. Bringye was found stabbed in his car on 17 February. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the emergency services. A 15 year-old male has been arrested in connection with his death.

The vigil, which was held at the ‘Bolt Hub’ on Power Road in Chiswick, was organised by the App Drivers & Couriers Union as an act of remembrance of Mr. Bringye. There have been calls for Bolt to issue compensation to Mr. Bringye’s family.

Video footage of the gathering shows those who attended were initially refused entry to the premises by security staff. After a brief verbal confrontation, the group pushed through and held the vigil regardless.

A Bolt spokesperson told The Chiswick Calendar:

“We appreciate the importance of acknowledging a personal tragedy has taken place and that some would like to pay their respects to Gabriel Bringye.

“We’re in regular contact with the family of the driver. We have offered our condolences and are continuing to support them in any way we can during this difficult time. We have always allowed drivers and the public to leave their flowers and messages of support, with our own, at our Hub provided that the current UK Government COVID-19 guidance is adhered to.

“We’re continuing to highlight the in-app features available to drivers which help reinforce driver safety and protection on the relevant channels in light of this sad event.”

Video footage of the vigil is available Twitter, and can be seen below:

Assault of drivers “far too commonplace” – says union President

The App Drivers & Couriers Union have long been calling for greater protection of private hire drivers at work, and surveys carried out amongst drivers have shown that 50% of private hire drivers have suffered a physical assault and 85% have suffered hate crime during their time at work.

On the death of Mr. Bringye, Yaseen Aslam, the App Driver & Couriers Union President, said:

“My heart goes out to the family of Gabriel Bringye at this sad time. The assault and abuse of private hire drivers has become far too common place in London whilst Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police have done far too little to address the problem. We are now calling for a complete organisational overhaul at TfL and the Met Police Cab Enforcement Unit so that driver safety & security is appropriately prioritised.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Hounslow Leader and Cabinet members planning hefty allowance increases for themselves

See also: Man charged with murder of woman in Ealing

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.

 

300 years of Chiswick House Gardens – Part 3

Image above: Chiswick House, photograph by Anna Kunst

Part 3: Party time – Chiswick House as the venue for Georgiana’s lavish parties

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, wife of William, 5th Duke of Devonshire, was famous in the mid eighteenth century as a socialite, style icon, political organizer and activist (a Whig), and as an author. She made Chiswick House the location of her spectacular parties. She was known for her charisma, beauty, love affairs and gambling as much as for her political influence. Born a Spencer, she was the great-great-great-great aunt of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Georgiana and her husband inherited Chiswick House through William’s mother Charlotte. She was the daughter of Richard Boyle, 3rd earl of Burlington, who created the gardens at Chiswick House and built the Palladian villa, on a mission to reintroduce Classical architecture to Britain, having been inspired by his Grand Tours of Italy. The villa was completed in 1729; the gardens were then developed further by the great garden designer William Kent, alongside the 3rd earl of Burlington in the 1730s.

READ MORE: Part 1: Vision of Richard Boyle, 3rd earl of Burlington

READ MORE: Part 2: William Kent becomes involved

In the third of a series of features examining how the gardens were created and re-created over 300 years, author and garden historian Dr David Jacques looks at how Georgiana made her impact on the gardens with the introduction of what was quite possibly the first ornamental rose garden in England.

Images above: Georgiana by Thomas Gainsborough, 1783; With her siblings, Henrietta and George, by Angelica Kauffman, c. 1774. The painting was painted just before Georgiana’s marriage to the Duke of Devonshire

Chiswick is Frenchified and hosts garden parties for Europe’s royalty

By David Jacques

‘God bless my soul! Have you seen anything abroad to compare with Chiswick?’
– Charles Greville, 1843

In the middle of the eighteenth century landscape gardener Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown held sway as the the most fashionable transformer of the gardens of the wealthy. He designed some 170 parks, including Syon Gardens, Ancaster House in Richmond and Paddenswick Manor, now Ravenscourt Park. The 4th Duke of Devonshire employed him to landscape the garden and park at Chatsworth House, the Devonshires’ main residence.

But reverence for Lord Burlington’s Chiswick was such that its sculpture garden and formal wildernesses and escaped the attentions of Capability Brown and continued as a tourist destination into the 1780s. Matters were then to change under Burlington’s grandson, the 5th Duke of Devonshire, and his duchess, the notorious Georgiana.

Image above: Drawing of Chiswick House, 1795

The famous ménage à trois

This couple had married in 1774, she being only 17 at the time. They were contrasting in character – he private and slightly withdrawn, and she exuberant, witty and daring. The Duke’s family were prominent as Whigs, and Georgiana supplied a vibrant social life with balls at Devonshire House in town, summer house parties at Chatsworth, and a series of ‘breakfasts’ (taken in the afternoon) at Chiswick in support of the Whig party.

Images above: Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, by Thomas Gainsborough; Elizabeth “Bess” Hervey Foster by Sir Joshua Reynolds; William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire

In the 1780s the couple started a family, at first two girls. Of course there needed to be a boy to inherit the title, but matters did not run smoothly. She had miscarriages, and the Duke was becoming involved with Georgiana’s great friend, Lady Elizabeth Foster, having two children by her. With a wife, mistress and four children, the Duke needed to reconsider his domestic arrangements.

He chose Chiswick as his solution. He had already given attention to the grounds, informalizing the wildernesses and pulling down a couple of garden buildings in poor condition. Capability Brown himself was dead, so he employed his former chief assistant, Samuel Lapidge, to work the changes.

Image above: Walkway behind Chiswick House; photograph by Rosie Leyden

Creating the ornamental rose garden

The Duke kept the sculpture garden, with its multiple rows of urns and cypresses, unaltered, and visitors regarded this as a specimen of ‘Italian’ taste (in contradistinction the naturalistic ‘English’ taste). He also retained the villa, making it the centrepiece of a substantial modern mansion by giving it sizeable wings, but pulled down the original rather inconvenient house.

At last Georgiana produced a healthy boy, and settled at Chiswick most of the time. She took an interest in the garden, at first the Ladies Garden which had been Lady Burlington’s aviary garden by the Summer Parlour, and then the orangery garden where she entertained friends and poets. Her connections with France were strong and she was an admirer of Napoleon in his earlier years as ruler of that country.

Images above: Roses in Chiswick House Gardens, photograph by Jon Perry; the rose garden at the column in 1845

She would have known of the Empress Josephine’s rose garden at Malmaison, and was probably the first person to have created an ornamental rose garden in England. It was set around the column, and although quite small sported 120 varieties of rose. It was first mentioned in the accounts in 1804.

Georgiana died aged only 48, in 1806, but would have been pleased that her son, William, carried on her interests both in the garden and in giving extravagant garden parties. Succeeding his father in 1811, he purchased Sir Stephen Fox’s house next door, by then known as Moreton Hall, and added its seven acres to the Chiswick gardens. The walled gardens at Chiswick mostly remain from the Moreton Hall ones.

Image above: Conservatory, photograph by Jon Perry

William, 6th Duke of Devonshire, ‘the batchelor duke’, takes over

The new Duke pulled down the house and where the main garden had been, built the Conservatory that exists today. On its south side he wanted a parterre – again, a surprise, as there had been none in England for over 80 years.

The designer he chose was Lewis Kennedy who had supplied Josephine with plants and advised on Malmaison, even though Britain and France were at war. This new garden was to be known as the ‘Italian Garden’ – an addition to the surviving Italian garden next door – but the design of the parterre was taken from a French treatise on gardening.

Image above: The parterre in front of the Conservatory, dating from 1814

The 6th Duke’s interest in horticulture is well known. He provided the (Royal) Horticultural Society with its first premises at Chiswick, he ‘found’ Joseph Paxton (the designer of the Crystal Palace) in them, and he was President of the Society for 20 years.

Image above: Bust of Napoleon in the Rustick Arch

Chiswick gardens were recast in a whimsical style that reminded Sir Walter Scott of a picture by Watteau. They were one of the premier gardens of Regency and early Victorian England, famous as the venue for spectacular social events.

In 1814, after the Treaty of Paris following Napoleon’s exile to Elba, the Prince Regent invited the Allies to England, and the Duke entertained the Tsar Alexander I of Russia, the King of Prussia, Marshal Blucher, Count Platoff, and many illustrious persons in attendance on those monarchs at Chiswick.

Sir Walter Scott attended one breakfast in 1828 and described:

‘A numerous and gay party, assembled to walk, and enjoy the beauties of that Palladian demesne, make the place and highly ornamented gardens belonging to it resemble a picture of Watteau… the scene was dignified by the presence of an immense elephant, who, under charge of a groom, wandered up and down, giving an air of Asiatic pageantry to the entertainment…’

This elephant was Sadie, who gave rides, could use a broom, and could uncork champagne bottles.

Image above: A Fete at Chiswick House in the 1840s

A Tsar, Kings and Princes and the Shah of Persia come to Chiswick House

Tsar Nicholas I attended a fête at Chiswick in June 1844. The lawns were brown from a lack of rain. Then rain threatened and the wind got up, blowing everything over. As it turned out, there was blue sky on the day. The fête was magnificent and was honoured by the presence of the King of Saxony, Prince Albert, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Gloucester, and about seven hundred members of the nobility, besides Tsar Nicholas.

The royal cavalcade entered the gates of Chiswick House preceded by outriders in state liveries. On their arrival, the Imperial Standard was raised over the Summer Parlour and the Royal Standard over the Arcade and a 21-gun salute fired from a battery erected within the grounds. The bands of the Coldstream Guards and the Horse Guards simultaneously played the Russian national anthem. The general company were received by the Duke beneath the grand portico. The Tsar and the Duke most cordially embraced each other in the Russian fashion.

Image above: A Fete at Chiswick House in the 1870s

The Prince of Wales used Chiswick House in the 1870s both as a summer nursery for the children, and for entertainment. The Times reported on his garden parties, normally at least one a year. They were variously called dejeuners, breakfasts or garden parties; they started in the late afternoon and finished mid-evening. The Queen sometimes attended. However, a letter to her eldest daughter in 1875 suggests she was beginning to find them tiresome:

You say that Bertie’s breakfast must have been charming. I myself think them dreadful and very fatiguing bores, walking and standing about and seeing fresh faces in every direction – but it doesn’t last long and pleases people and so there it is and easily done‘.

Nevertheless, the Chiswick breakfasts were the forerunner of the Buckingham Palace garden parties. The Prince’s most famous party was one given in honour of the Shah of Persia who visited England in 1873. It was recorded in The Times thus:

On Saturday afternoon the Shah went to the Prince of Wales’s Garden Party at Chiswick. From Buckingham Palace to the gates of the Duke of Devonshire’s beautiful villa the route was crowded. Her Majesty honoured the party with her presence, the gardens were in their fullest beauty and the long list which we publish will show that “everybody” was there‘.

Next – The Men from the Ministry

Images above: Inside the Conservatory in early Victorian times; The orangery garden, or amphitheatre, in the 19th century

David Jacques

Dr David Jacques is a garden historian and the author of Chiswick House Gardens: 300 years of creation and recreation.

To pre-order a copy of the book, which has not yet been printed, go to David’s GoFundMe page. He has set up a crowd-funding page as the book will be published by a non-profit academic press (Liverpool University Press) which likes to ensure that its costs are covered, and so seeks pre-publication commitments. 

His other publications are: Georgian GardensThe Gardens of William and MaryThe Career of Christopher Tunnard and Gardens of Court and CountryDavid was for many years a trustee of Chiswick House and Gardens and his latest book is the culmination of 35 years commitment and research as consultant, inspector and trustee.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Garden historian David Jacques raises funds to publish definitive book on the history of Chiswick House Gardens

See also: Chiswick Garden ‘most important in UK’

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.

Anti-lockdown protest on Acton Green dispersed by police

Man charged with murder of woman in Ealing

Image above: Anna Ovsyannikova

Detectives investigating the death of a woman in Ealing have charged a man with murder.

Curtis Brown, 48, of Castlebar Road, W5, appeared at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, 24 February. He is due to appear at the Old Bailey on Friday 26 February.

Police were called at 3.45pm on Monday 22 February, to reports of an unresponsive woman at a residential property. A 48-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

While formal identification is yet to take place, officers are confident that the victim is Anna Ovsyannikova. Her next of kin have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or tweet @MetCC and quote CAD 4360/22FEB.

Information can also be provided to Crimestoppers, anonymously, by calling 0800 555 111.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Design unveiled for Yeats sculpture planned for Chiswick

See also: Hounslow Leader and Cabinet members planning hefty allowance increases for themselves

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.

My Corona – with apologies to Samuel Beckett

During the first lockdown period in March 2020, Keith Richards started writing the My Corona blog for The Chiswick Calendar – a mix of his observations from his daily constitutionals and the quiet enjoyment of his record collection. Since then he has continued to document the every day occurrences of this most peculiar time.

“Talking about things that are understandable

only weighs down the mind.”

Alfred Jarry

Be careful what you wait for – a stab at literary satire

Back in the day (1970 to 1984) the BBC had a regular, award winning live theatre series called Play for Today. The list of writers and directors who honed their skills on those programmes is like a roll call of the greats of the British film and television industry. If this was a podcast, you would hear me sigh deeply.

I am not sure Samuel Beckett ever wrote a Play for Today but I was pondering that if he was still alive and decided to write about our current times, what would he make of it all? Who Knows? If there was ever a time that reflected the ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ it is today. I pour a libation to the Master to apologise for my attempt to capture the mood of the day in a two act hybrid version of some of my favourite Beckettian moments what I shall call ‘Be Careful What You Wait For’. *

ACT ONE

Act One is set in a giant empty supermarket. All the shelves are empty except on one side is a massive pile of what appears to be rotten fish. On the other side is a large sign that says “Seasonal Covid Staycation. Now Is The Winter For our Discount Tent”. **

In the middle of the stage is a large, clearly dilapidated Christmas tree with the remains of some decorations though it has lost most of its spines. Hanging in the tree is a broken sign that says ‘Oven Baked’.

There is a continuous background soundtrack of a washing machine forever stuck on the Spin Cycle.

Cast List

Bojomir – tired figure, has a ‘put upon’ sensibility, talks and moves slowly. Dressed as a shabby Churchill figure.
Govagon – clearly exhausted but with a kind of adrenaline energy, talks and moves in a staccato manner. Dressed as a shabby Thatcher. Always carries a handbag.
Murzzo – edgy, aggressive. Wears a worn suit. Speaks in an Australian accent always leads Starmy on a long rope. Carries a whip.
Starmy – the youngest and smartest of the cast. Has immaculate hair. Follows Murzzo everywhere on a long rope and listens attentively.
One Boy

Scene 1

As the lights come up Bojomir is sitting on a box and Govegon standing near by both close to the tree. Bojomir is trying to tuck his shirt into his trousers but apparently without success.

Bojomir (clearly frustrated) Nothing to be done.

Govagon I could never hold that opinion. All my life I’ve tried to put it from me, saying Govagon, be flexible, you can always change your opinion again. And I resumed the struggle. (He broods, musing on the struggle. Turning to Estragon.) So there you are again.

Bojomir Am I?

Govagon I am glad to see you back. I thought you were gone forever.

Bojomir Me too.

Govagon But why did you leave? You left me waiting here all alone.

Bojomir The pressure became so hard. They didn’t understand. (Stands up, puts hand in pockets, plods stage right) (Mutters under breath)…….. “never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on……….” (Stares blankly into middle distance).

Govagon The trouble is you never had the courage of your lack of convictions. (Pauses. Sighs) So, why did you come back anyway.

Bojomir I was told there would be a delivery. Here. Eventually.

Govagon There will. Of course. Very soon now.

Bojomir (Walks disconsolately to the other side. Stares) Soon?

Govagon Of course, they’re just completing the paperwork. What was it you wanted exactly?

Bojomir Some good French cheese.

Govagon There’s some Wensleydale hidden in the back. They’ve not been able to ship it anywhere.

Bojomir (Raises his head. Looks as if he is remembering something.) No. No! Forme d’Ambert. Washed down with a good 1985 Burgundy.

Govagon (Pauses. Mutters irritably) The paper work …….

He is interrupted by the sound of banging off stage and Murzzo enters dragging Starmy along on the long rope. They cross the stage in front of the others. Starmy is carrying, with some difficulty a pile of boxes. Each one is marked ‘Values’, ‘Principles’, ‘Socialism’, ‘Green Policies’ etc. Eventually he drops them all in a clutter.

Murzzo (Turns back and stares at Starmy) I told you not to bring all that baggage. (Cracks The Whip) I told you, if you did what you are told, you will get your chance but you will never get anywhere unless you toe the line. Say hello to the nice people. (Starmy turns and looks at Bojomir and makes a kind of curtsey).

Murzzo (Looks at Govagon) Well? Is he here yet?

Govagon No, but we are expecting him soon. Aren’t we Bojomir? Bojomir?

Bojomir (has reverted to wandering about distractedly. Mutters) …. if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”
Murzzo (Looks distastefully at Bojomir, turns back to Govagon) I expected you to deliver but it has been….. how long now?

Govagon Soon, Soon. Please bear with us. (As Boy enters stage left) Look, here’s his boy now. He’s sent his boy. (Moves towards Boy expectantly) Boy, did he send it? Have you got it ? The paperwork?

Boy No, (hold up a single roll of toilet paper) but he has sent you something to be getting on with……….

CURTAIN
INTERMISSION

ACT TWO

Act Two is set on what appears to be a giant cycle lane. This is made clear by a number of confusing road signs, a pile of broken bicycle parts and a large banner with the words “OneChiswick says No”. There are signs of desolation with broken walls, piles of bricks and concrete. If possible there should be back progression of the effects of the Climate Crisis; bush fires, queues of economic migrants, melting ice blocks, frozen US states etc.

At the back but clearly visible are two large recycling wheelie bins. The sound track is of a gusting wind with the occasional siren of an emergency vehicle.

Cast list

Spamm – trapped on a wheel chair, apparently blind.
Splov – Spamm’s servant. Unable to sit.
Mag Kurran – Spamm’s father and lives in one of the wheelie bins.
Nell Bildoff – Spamm’s mother and lives in the other wheelie bin next to Mag.

For reasons of Brevity, Sanity and Gravity in this version the last two are non speaking parts but every now and again one of the lids pops open and Mag or Nell put their heads out and look around before sliding back down and shutting the lids behind them.

Scene 1

As the Lights come on we see Splov pushing Spamm in a kind of armchair with wheels.

Spamm (Irritably) Look. Look. I asked you to look. What can you see?

Splov (Resignedly looks out across audience) Same as before.

Spamm No. No! Look again. Tell me.

Splov (Looks the other side of the stage) Nothing.

Spamm There must be. Look again.

Splov I have been looking every few minutes for as long as I can remember anything. It is always the same.

Spamm What? What?

Splov Desolation.

Spamm I knew it. It’s their fault (gestures in the general direction of the Wheelie bins). Ask them.

Splov No, they’ve said enough and eternity is too long already.

Spamm So, look again. What do you see?

Splov What do you expect? If you keep doing the same thing you will see the same result.

Spamm I know, I know but what can you see?

Spamm Nothing.

CURTAIN

This week’s musical closing is in honour of one of the Jazz greats who passed away recently. Armando Anthony “Chick” Corea (June 12, 1941 – February 9, 2021) was, as a young piano and key board player, a member of Miles Davis’ band so could be said to have been present at the birth of Jazz fusion.

Amongst his other styles he too Fusion to its heights with perhaps his most famous band that included many developing Jazz musicians of note. This clip of that band, ‘Return To Forever’, is from 1974 and includes bassist Stanley Clark. Enjoy.

*. There are a number of versions of ‘Waiting For Godot” and “Endgame” available to stream on pay per view theatre websites. I particularly recommend Michael Gambon and David Thewlis in “Endgame” for free on You Tube. Beckett’s ‘Happy Days’ is scheduled to start at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith as soon as allowed.
** With acknowledgment & thanks to Tim

Read more blogs by Keith

Read the next in the series – My Corona – To everything there is a season

Read the previous one – Chiswick Reconfined: Lockdown 3: Now is the Winter of our Discontent

See all Keith’s My Corona blogs here.

See more of Keith’s work on his website – outsiderinside.co.uk

Feel free to post any comments or suggestions there or by email to Keith@outsiderinside.co.uk

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.

 

Hounslow Leader and Cabinet members planning hefty allowance increases for themselves

Images above: LB Hounslow Leader, Cllr Steve Curran; Deputy Leader, Cllr Lily Bath; Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Services, Shantanu Rajawat

The Leader of Hounslow Council and members of the Cabinet look set to award themselves hefty increases in the next financial year, despite proposing to put up Council Tax by 5% to make up for the shortfall in budget caused by the pandemic.

Councillor Shantanu Rajawat, Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Services, is recommending huge increases in their Special Responsibility Allowances, the Chiswick Calendar has learned. All councillors are paid a basic allowance and those who take on extra responsibility are awarded Special Responsibility Allowances (SRA) on top of the basic amount. Those who receive SRA include the Leader, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Members.

Steve Curran, as Leader, currently gets a basic allowance of £11,045 plus a Special Responsibility Allowance of £27,200. LB Houslow give his current remuneration as £42,332. Deputy Leader Lily Bath receives £11,045 plus a SRA of £16,000. LB Hounslow give her allowances as £29,586. Cabinet Members such as Hanif Khan (Cabinet Member for Transport) and Cllr Rajawat himself get £11,045 + £12,800. Their allowances are listed as £25,945.

The proposals are for the Leader’s SRA to be increased to £40,000, an increase of 47.1%, which added to the basic allowance totals £51,045. The Deputy Leader’s SRA would be increased to £25,000, an increase of 56.3%, allowances totalling £36,045 and a Cabinet Member’s SRA would be increased to £20,000, an increase of 56.3%, allowances totalling £31, 045.

Images above: Cllr John Todd; Mayor Cllr Tony Louki; Cllr Gerald Mc Gregor

Raises “wholly inappropriate” at this time

Chiswick Councillor John Todd, who says he was invited only to the final meeting of the cross-party committee which put forward these proposals, told The Chiswick Calendar he thought the raises were “wholly inappropriate at a time when they’re asking for a huge GLA precept and we’re told large numbers can’t afford to pay the Council Tax. It sends a bizarre message”.

The proposals have divided Labour members as well. At a meeting of the Labour group on 25 January a substantial minority voted against the proposals. The Chiswick Calendar understands that one member put forward the motion that the increases be shelved and the money instead be given to the Brentford Food Bank. This was ruled out by the Chair as a ‘wrecking amendment’.

The proposals have not yet come before a meeting of the whole council and it’s not clear whether the Cabinet Member for Finance intends to include them as part of the Budget presented to the Borough Council meeting on 2 March or whether he intends to present them at a Council meeting later in March.

It’s not just the 10 members of the Cabinet who would receive increases; there are 20 other roles – the Mayor, the Chief Whip and the Chairs of various committees who also receive Special Responsibility Allowances. Their proposed increases range from 10% – 56.3% – while the Chief Whip would be getting an increase of 284.2%, from £2,603 to £10,000 in his SRA.

By far the biggest increase would be in SRA paid to the Leader of the Opposition, Cllr Gerald McGregor. He is currently paid £11,045 plus £894. His remuneration is given as £12,416. His SRA would go up to £11,000, an increase of 407.4%, allowances totalling £22.045. He has told The Chiswick Calendar that he would donate the increase to charity.

Cllr Ron Mushiso, who is Deputy Leader of the Opposition, at the moment receives no extra payment for that role, but would receive £5,500, giving him allowances of £16,545.

Councillor Rajawat’s report also proposes that the increases be backdated a year, to take effect from 1 April 2020. The Council is also looking at introducing new deputy Cabinet roles, to give a wider group of councillors the opportunity to gain experience on important matters, and paying them Special Responsibility Allowances as well. Cabinet Members are appointed by the leadership, not elected by the party.

Images above: Cabinet Member for Communities and Climate Emergency, Cllr Katherine Dunne; Cabinet Member for Education, Cllr Tom Bruce; Cabinet Member for Transport. Cllr Hanif Khan; 

Allowances ‘unrealistic’ and not updated since 2010

Councillors’ allowances are paid on top of whatever earnings councillors receive from employment, as the role of councillor is not supposed to be full time. The Labour group have historically decided against paying themselves more and Special Responsibility Allowances have not been increased since 2010. Those who have argued for the increases say they are now a long way out of step with other parts of London. An independent report carried out in 2018 found that the workload and responsibilities of councillors was increasing and that their role had become more complex.

‘Councillors are faced with unenviable choices. Demand for local authority services continues to grow. In particular, there is rapid growth in the number of old people with a corresponding increase in demand for social care. London itself faces acute housing problems. Councillors have an increased responsibility for health. Thus the strain on and competition for resources increase the demands made on elected members. The responsibilities and accountabilities are made clear after a tragedy like the Grenfell Tower fire’.

The challenges posed by the pandemic have added considerably to this.

Given the extent of the responsibilities of leaders of London boroughs, the Panel’s first report in 2001 recommended that their remuneration should equate to that of a Member of Parliament (basic annual salary £81,932). At the time of that first report, MPs were earning £67,060; their pay has gone up considerably, but the Panel still maintained that the allowwances of London’s council leaders should be pegged to those of MPs, and if anything:

‘Leaders of London boroughs warranted a higher remuneration than an MP, because they had greater financial responsibility and legal burdens’.

For Cabinet Members they suggested remuneration of £47,962 to £54,505 and for the Chair of major regulatory committee e.g. planning, they suggested £27,252 to £40,842. (This includes the £11, 045 basic allowance).

The independent members of the Panel were a former chief executive of Westminster City Council, Sir Rodney Brooke CBE, the chief executive of the Audit Commission and chief executive of the London Borough of Camden, Steve Bundred and Anne Watts CBE, who has had an extensive career in and governance, spanning the private, voluntary and public sectors, with organisations including the Commission for Equality and Human Rights and the Appointments Commission.

Councillor Shantanu Rajawat’s report echoes their findings, saying:

‘The workload and responsibilities of Councillors continue to increase. There is evidence that it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit Councillors of quality, a major disincentive being the time commitment which is required. Whilst allowances should not be so high that they are an incentive to become a Councillor, it is also It is important that allowances are not set at a level which makes them a disincentive for people to take on the role. Service as a Councillor should not be confined to those of independent means’.

Images above: Cabinet Member for Highways, Recycling and Trading Companies, Cllr Guy Lambert; Cabinet Member for Leisure Services, Cllr Samia Chaudhary; Cabinet Member for Customer Services and Corporate Performance, Cllr Pritam Grewal

More people in Hounslow struggle to pay Council Tax as a result of the pandemic

LB Hounslow has recently published its budget proposals for 2021 – 2022 and is proposing a 5% increase in the council’s element of the tax, equivalent to £63.62 per year for a Band D property.

Council Leader, Cllr Steve Curran said there was a shortfall between the money the pandemic has cost the council and the grants being paid to local authorities by central Government, coming on top of a decade of cuts.

Already they have seen increased pressure on provision for people who are homeless or on the brink of becoming homeless through a reduction in their income during the pandemic. The crunch will come when the Government’s support in terms of furlough payments, a freeze on evictions and the provision of business grants, runs out.

“Those are providing a sticking plaster but we are expecting there will be a surge in people being evicted once the freeze on evictions stops, a surge of unemployment when furlough ends and a surge in businesses going bust once the grants come to an end”.

In October 2020 the council reported that 40% of the borough’s workforce was either unemployed or on furlough. Hounslow is projected to be one of the hardest hit London boroughs economically over the next few years, due to the impact of COVID-19 and lockdown, because of its previous reliance on Heathrow as a major provider of jobs.

Images above: LB Hounslow headquarters at Hounslow House; Cabinet member for Adults, Social Care and Health, Cllr Candice Atterton; Former Cabinet Member for Finance, Cllr Theo Dennison

Plans to make Council Tax support available to fewer people

When asked about the ability of poorer people in the borough to pay Council Tax, Steve Curran referred to the Council Tax Support Scheme. Hounslow Council tried recently to reduce the number of people to whom Council Tax support would be available.

A unanimous decision by the Cabinet in December to change the support arrangement was ‘called in’, ie. challenged by Cllr Theo Dennison, a former Cabinet Member for Finance.

As a result, the proposals were not able to be introduced for this year, but at a meeting of the Scrutiny Committee on 2 February Councillor Rajawat admitted that the proposals “to reduce the bureaucratic burden on families” would in fact mean that “a small number of residents will pay more”.

In fact, the proposed changes would have raised £6.8 million and thousands of the borough’s poorer households would have had to pay more.

Budget meeting – question lead councillors before the budget for 2021/22 is passed

The proposed budget for 2021/22 will be put to the Borough Council on 2 March. Before that there is an opportunity for members of the public to ask questions about it on Thursday 25 February at 6.00pm, when Leader of the Council, Cllr Steve Curran will be joined by Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Lily Bath, Lead Member for Finance and Corporate Services, Cllr Shantanu Rajawat, and Lead Member for Adults, Social Care & Health, Candice Atterton, to take part in a Budget Question Time.

The full budget proposal is available to read here.

Click here to find the link to join the meeting.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: LB Hounslow proposing almost 5% Council Tax increase

See also: 40% of Hounslow workforce now unemployed or on furlough

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.

Design unveiled for Yeats sculpture planned for Chiswick

Image above: Impression of how Enwrought Light would look outside St Michael & All Angels Church

A group in Bedford Park who have commissioned a sculpture celebrating the Nobel Prize winning Irish poet WB Yeats, has unveiled the design.

Yeats lived in Bedford Park with his family as a young man and the sculpture is planned to go outside St Michael & All Angels’ Church, on the corner of Bath Rd.

At first sight it might not be what you’d expect, but organiser Cahal Dallat, who is himself a poet and a resident of Chiswick, explained to The Chiswick Calendar that the WB Yeats Bedford Park Artwork Project didn’t want a statue of the great writer, but rather an art work which captured his spirit and illustrated how growing up in Bedford Park had inspired him.

Called Enwrought Light, by Conrad Shawcross, it was the line from Yeats’ poem He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven which caught the artist’s imagination, in particular the lines:

Enwrought with golden and silver light
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light

The artwork will catch ambient light, day and night, picking up on the theme of light which runs through Yeats’ poems, but also symbolising the Bohemian culture in which Yeats grew up, representing Victorian Bedford Park as a place of enlightenment: a place whose advanced egalitarian, spiritual, feminist, anti-colonial, multi-cultural, even vegetarian ideas, would become mainstream a hundred years later.

The sculpture can also be seen as a swirl of autumn leaves or a flight of birds.

Image above: artist Conrad Shawcross; Enwrought Light

A major artwork by one of London’s leading artists

The artist Conrad Shawcross is the youngest member of the Royal Adacemy of Arts. His work has been commissioned for several pretigious sites: The Dappled Light of the Sun in the Royal Academy Courtyard, the dramatic and environmentally sensitive Optic Cloak on the Greenwich Peninsula, Paradigm at the Crick Institute, Axiom at the Ministry of Justice and Manifold 5:4 at the Moorgate entrance of Liverpool Street Elizabeth line station are just a few of his pieces in public spaces.

His work is shown all over the world: in France, the USA and China, Italy, Spain, Germany and Mexico. He often uses geometrical constructions and illustrates scientific and philosophical themes.

‘As a committee – that’s Fr. Kevin Morris, vicar of St. Michael and All Angels and a real poetry enthusiast, Torin Douglas, director of the Chiswick Book Festival, Matthew Fay, whose great-grandfather formed the world-famous Abbey Theatre with Yeats based on Yeats’s initial Bedford Park drama experiments, local author Polly Devlin, and Councillor Gerald McGregor – we agreed’, says Cahal ‘it was Yeats as a young cutting-edge London artist that we wanted to celebrate, and so Conrad Shawcross, as a cutting-edge London artist of today, and, coincidentally the youngest Royal Academician, was the perfect find, especially as he’s excelled at contemporary design in heritage settings such as Wilton Crescent and the Royal Academy Courtyard.’

Conrad came to Bedford Park, took part in one of Cahal’s Yeats walking tours that he puts on for the Bedford Park Festival, he met the committee, and listened to local architects, planners, historians and literary historians. Conrad is the son of royal biographer, William Shawcross, and author and academic Marina Warner. Roy Foster, Yeats’s authoritative biographer, is a family friend.

Images above: William Butler Yeats by John Singer Sargent, 1908; house in Woodstock Rd where Yeats lived

Pledges of support needed by Friday 26 February

The WB Yeats Bedford Park Artwork Project has applied for planning permission. The application has been accepted and put on LB Hounslow’s planning portal and planning permission will be decided in a few weeks’ time.

Meanwhile they are fundraising against the clock to raise £136,439 for the sculpture to be made and installed. They raised £24,500 with Yeats talks and walks over the past few years, which has funded the project so far. They have received £30,000 from institutions: £5,000 from the Irish embassy and £25,000 from the Royal Academy’s Sir George Frampton Fund. 

Now they have launched a fundraising page in Spacehive  and since the page went up on Wednesday 17 February, they have already received nearly £6,000 from local residents. They have to meet their target £136,439 by 11 May 2021 in order for the project to go ahead.

So far the £35,828 pledged has come from 73 backers (including the institutional funding). They have to have at least 100 backers by Friday, so to meet that target it doesn’t matter if people give only £10 or £20. They need to show a breadth of interest from the local community at this stage. If they meet that target, there is a chance of major funding from the Mayor’s office.

The project has been designated a COVID-recovery project by the Mayor of London’s #MakeLondon team. COVID recovery projects are designed to enhance the environments in which people live, particularly as we are much more locally based because of the pandemic.

‘The local support since Wednesday’s launch has been incredible’ says Cahal ‘in terms of number and value of pledges. People are clearly inspired by the design and encouraged by the Royal Academy’s announcement.

‘An award like that wasn’t even in our sights when we started looking for an artist. What we did know from responses to our talks, and walks, and media coverage in The Chiswick Calendar two years ago, as well as via our own website and newsletters, we found local residents didn’t simply want a statue of Yeats – ‘we already have Hogarth at the other end of Turnham Green Terrace!’

‘What was needed was an artwork that would communicate a vision of how Yeats’s genius had been nurtured by the Bedford Park community and inspired by its intellectual and artistic ambience’.

Cahal, who has been a cultural commentator and art-critic on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Review for the past 20 years, describes the sculpture as ‘a dazzling and context-sensitive design’ and a ‘major’ artwork by a very exciting artist.

Torin Douglas, Director of the Chiswick Book Festival said:

“I think this sculpture would be an inspiring way to mark Bedford Park‘s influence on the life and work of Yeats, one of two winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature who lived in Chiswick.”

Read more about the project on the WB Yeats Bedford Park website.

wbyeatsbedfordpark.com

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Profile of WB Yeats in Chiswick by Lucinda MacPherson

See also: Explore Chiswick’s cultural history online and on foot

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.

Prime Minister announces phased easing of lockdown

Boris Johnson announced to MPs the new four-step plan to ease lockdown today (22 February) and said he could see all legal limits on social contact lifted by 21 June.

Shops, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality will reopen on 12 April in England if strict conditions are met under the plans set out by the PM. Up to six people from separate households could be able to meet in beer gardens from that date too.

If all goes to plan then from 12 April non-essential retail will open, along with hairdressers and public buildings such as libraries and museums; outdoor settings including alcohol takeaways, beer gardens, zoos and theme parks; indoor leisure such as swimming pools and gyms and self-contained holiday accommodation, such as self-catering lets and camp sites.

From 17 May, the rule of six will be abolished outdoors and instead replaced with with limit to 30 people meeting outdoors and two households mixing indoors. Cinemas, hotels, performances and sporting events reopen – though social distancing would remain.

The fourth and final step from 21 June will potentially see all legal limits on social contact removed, with the final closed sectors of the economy reopened – including nightclubs.

“Data led not date led”

The Government has allowed five weeks between each stage so scientists can assess the data on the effects of each stage of lockdown easing and give the public a week’s notice of confirmation that the next stage will go ahead as planned. The phased easing will be led by “data not dates” the Prime Minister said. At each stage they will look at whether the vaccination programme is progressing as it should be, how hospitals are faring, whether the rate of infection is likely to cause anotehr surge and what’s happening with the development of new variants of the virus.

Boris stressed that after the first step the subsequent stages of reopening could be subject to delay.

The Chiswick Calendar spoke to some of Chiswick’s entertainments venues to get their reaction.

Images above: Chiswick Cinema exterior under construction, Lyn Goleby

Chiswick Cinema

The timing of Boris’s roadmap could work well for the new Chiswick Cinema. According to Boris’s roadmap, cinemas are due to open on 17 May.

Work began on Chiswick Cinema in 2019, and proceeded well until the builders were halted by Covid in March 2020. The contractors weren’t able to work again for over a month.

The project director of the new Chiswick Cinema, Lyn Goleby, told The Chiswick Calendar in 2020 that the cinema would be ready to open in the spring 2021, coinciding with the planned release of the new James Bond film, No Time To Die, which had been also been postponed until April 2021. (Now the film has been pushed back even further to October 2021).

Lyn told us on Monday that all the main focus of the cinema will be on how the film calendar starts to come together. With certain movies, such as No Time To Die and Suicide Squad 2 postponed until later on in the year, Chiswick Cinema will be able to catch most 2021’s big blockbusters. But movies such as Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson might just slip through the net for them.

Images above: Headliners Comedy Club (picture taken before the pandemic), Simon Randall 

Headliners Comedy Club

Live theatre is also planned to restart on 17 May, with people from two households able to meet up indoors and indoor entertainment including theatres, play areas, concert halls and sports stadia opening up again.

Headliners Comedy Club is based in the Boston Room at the back of the George IV pub on Chiswick High Road and has put on top level stand up comedy there for nearly 20 years.

Organiser Simon Randall told us:

“It’s roughly what I was expecting. Live entertainment seems to have made an enormous financial sacrifice on behalf of the rest of the country. It’s us that seem to have borne the brunt of everything and unfortunately we have not been in the receipt of any of the help, the billions and billions of pounds which has been sprayed around left right and centre to everybody except us.

“We’re the ones who do all the sacrificing and we get the least back, which is a terrible shame.

“The whole purpose of us shutting back in March last year, Boris said: “nobody should suffer for doing the right thing for others” and the fact is because of deliberate decisions made by the Government we’ve suffered a lot in order to help others and I hope that’s addressed over the coming years. For example I don’t think live entertainment venues should be paying any VAT for the next 10 years, maybe even scrap it all together [for live performance venues].’

“There are a lot of ways the Government could pay us back for our enormous sacrifice and I certainly hope they do that, but sadly I doubt that they will.”

Image above: Chiswick Playhouse (taken before the pandemic), Fred Perry

Chiswick Playhouse

The Chiswick Playhouse is the small theatre above The Tabard pub. It produces its own in-house productions and works with other producers to bring ‘West End quality shows to West London, and at a fraction of the ticket price!’

Fred Perry, owner of Chiswick Playhouse told The Chiswick Calendar:

“From what we have heard so far, it looks like this is good news in terms of us being able to get back and welcoming audiences again. We’re really looking forward to doing that.

“We need to take a look at more of the detail about the phased opening that [the Prime Minister] has mentioned when more details are made available. But essentially it’s great, we have a programme that is ready to go which we have been building throughout the lockdown as well as preparing for whenever it would be that we can re-open.

“The phrase in the speech was open with ‘some limitations depending on capacity’ which I don’t fully know what that means but once we understand the detail of that then that will help us work out exactly what we’re doing.

“But the good news is that we have a really good and exciting programme of performances and shows, we just know what we need to do and when and then we will be publicising it.”

Image above: Chiswick House – Jennifer Griffiths, Xanthe Arvanitakis

Chiswick House and Gardens

Xanthe Arvanitakis is the Director of Chiswick House and Gardens Trust. She said she is “delighted but cautiously optimistic” about the phased easing of lockdown.

“We don’t know yet what it will mean [for events at Chiswick House and Gardens]. It’s cautiously optimistic because we need to go and speak to all of our partners, all of whom who have been waiting to see what is going to be allowed and whether they can go ahead with their various events. The next few days will be pretty frantic speaking to all our partners to see what people feel confident about.

“It’s good news though, finally some goods news. There’s more to come though we are working on the opening of the playgrounds and we’ll have a date on that in the next few weeks. Things are slowly coming together, it’s just all about timing now.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Hounslow Leader and Cabinet members planning hefty salary increases for themselves

See also: Stirling Road recycling centre closure “makes no sense” says Southfield councillor

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94 and 440 routes affected by bus drivers’ strike

Chiswick’s bus routes should be largely unaffected by the planned strike by bus drivers on 22-24 February.

More than 2,000 members of the Unite union said they would be taking action from Monday 22 February, but the majority of routes through Chiswick should see buses running as normal.

The only routes which look as if they will be affected are the 94 and 440 bus routes, going from Turnham Green to Piccadilly Circus & Gunnersbury Power Road to Stonebridge Park respectively.

The strike is happening because of a pay dispute between bus drivers and their employers, French-owned bus company RATP Dev London. Unite, the union representing the bus drivers, has said RATP is using the pandemic as ‘a convenient smokescreen’ to attempt to implement pay policies that could see some of their drivers lose up to £2,500-a-year.

Transport for London announced there are ’59 day routes, six 24-hour routes, six night routes and nine school routes – predominately in south west London – expected to be affected’ by the industrial action.

To ensure any potential disruption is kept to a minimum, TfL has asked customers who must travel on the potentially affected days to check online before they travel, leave extra time for their journeys, and where possible, consider alternative transport. Real time service updates are available on the TfL website, TfL Go app, with information on quiet times on the network also available on the website.

TfL is contacting all registered Oyster card users of the affected routes to advise of the potential disruption and encourage them to check before travelling. TfL is encouraging customers making shorter journeys on these dates to walk or cycle, highlighting Santander cycle hire services which are available at Putney and Hammersmith.

Claire Mann, Director of Bus Operations at TfL, said: “We’re sorry that some of our customers may experience disruption to their journeys early next week.

“We’re doing all we can to minimise this, but customers should check before they travel and leave more time for their journeys, while remembering the Government’s advice to continue to stay at home if they can.

“We urge all parties to sit down and talk through the issues to try and resolve them as soon as possible.”

Which routes are affected?

Unite’s regional officer for RATP, Michelle Braveboy, said: “The strike action planned for next week will go ahead at RATP, bringing serious disruption to services in the south, west and north of London.”

The total list of affected services are as follows:

The London United routes which will be affected between Monday February 22 and Wednesday February 24 are : 18, 33, 65, 70, 71, 72, 85, 94, 110, 111, 116, 148, 203, 216, 220, 223, 224, 265, 266, 281, 283, 371, 406, 411, 418, 419, 423, 440, 613, 662, 665, 671, 681, 696, 697, 465, N18, N33, N65, N72, N266, C1, H22, H32, H37, H98, K1, K2, K3, K4 and K5

The Quality Line routes which will be affected are : 293, 404, 413, 463, 467, 470, 633, S1, S3

The London Sovereign routes which will be affected are: 79, 142, 183, 251, 258, 288, 303, 326, 395, 398, 642, N5, H9, H10, H11, H12, H14, H17, H18 and H19.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Preparations made to clear the way for building new footbridge

See also: Stirling Road recycling centre closure “makes no sense” says Southfield councillor

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

ArtsEd ‘delighted’ with alumni on primetime TV shows

Image above: Omari Douglas and Isabella Pappas

Chiswick’s independent performing arts school, ArtsEd, have said they are ‘delighted’ with two of their former students featuring on recent primetime TV shows.

Omari Douglas, who studied BA Musical Theatre in 2015, and more recent graduate Isabella Pappas, who was at Sixth Form in 2020, have been front and centre on It’s a Sin and Finding Alice respectively.

Image above: Omari Douglas in It’s a Sin

It’s A Sin

In It’s A Sin, Omari plays the lead role of Roscoe Babatunde alongside Years and Years singer, Olly Alexander. The series is set during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s. Since its release on 22 January it has ben immensely popular. Omari has been interviewed on a number of platforms discussing Roscoe’s extroverted character, and how people like him shaped the gay landscape for future generations.

On 5 February, at the end of National HIV Testing Week in the UK, sexual health charity organisation Terrence Higgins Trust said that it had seen an enormous increase in HIV tests ordered after the show’s success.

The five-part series is available to stream online on 4 on Demand. 

Image above: Isabella Pappas in Finding Alice

Finding Alice

In ITV drama Finding Alice, Isabella plays the role of Charlotte, 16-year-old daughter of Alice and Harry, played by Keeley Hawes and Jason Merrells. The show also stars Joanna Lumley, another ArtsEd alumnus Nigel Havers, along with Gemma Jones, Kenneth Cranham and Sharon Rooney.

The plot revolves around the story of Alice and her ‘honest, dark and comical journey of grief, love and life after the death of Harry – her partner of twenty years – who falls down the stairs of their new dream home he designed.’

Finding Alice can be watched on the ITV Hub.

ArtsEd said: ‘We are delighted to see two of our alumni playing lead roles in new TV shows this year, and we hope you will be tuning in if you haven’t already!’

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: David Tennant nominated for Broadcasting Press Guild awards

See also: Design unveiled for Yeats sculpture planned for Chiswick

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.

Flat fire on British Grove

Six fire engines and around 40 firefighters were called to a flat fire on British Grove in Chiswick, in the early hours of Monday 22 February.

Part of a four-roomed flat on the third floor of the building was damaged by fire. There were no reports of any injuries.

The London Fire Brigade was called at 1.37am and the fire was under control by 2.33am. Fire crews from Chiswick, Hammersmith, Acton, Fulham and Richmond fire stations attended the scene.

Sub Officer Daniel Scarlett, who was at the scene, said:

“On arrival crews were faced with smoke coming out of the third-floor window and discovered a fire in the kitchen of the flat.

“The residents were out of the building before the Brigade arrived and crews worked quickly to stop the fire from spreading and causing further damage.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Hammersmith Bridge lit up red in protest by local residents

See also: Coroner slams west London mental health service after woman’s death

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.

Episode 43: Kashmir – where cricket has become a political statement

Cricket authors (and obsessives) Peter Oborne and Richard Heller launched a podcast early in 2020 to help deprived listeners endure a world without cricket. They’re no longer deprived of cricket, but still chat regularly about cricket topics with different guests each week – cricket writers, players, administrators and fans – hoping to keep a good line and length but with occasional wides into other subjects.

Kashmir contains some of the most beautiful settings for cricket in the world – but cricket there has been blighted for over seventy years by the political and military conflicts which were a legacy of the partition of India. It has become not just a game but a political statement, as is explained by a local journalist, author, historian and cricketer Gowhar Geelani, the guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their latest cricket-themed podcast.


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Gowhar explains the nineteenth-century history of Kashmir, when the entire territory, including the areas of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir now under Pakistani control, was sold by the British to a ruler who is described in some references as Hindu and others as Sikh, over the heads of its predominantly Muslim population. Under the terms of the Treaty of Amritsar executed in March 1846, it was sold for 7.5 million Nanakshahee rupees to Gulab Singh Jamwal (1792-1857), who was bestowed with the title of Maharaja and became the founder of the royal Dogra dynasty. 5-7 minutes

He introduces Maharaja Pratap Singh, ruler from 1885 to 1925, a keen cricketer who played to his own rules. His Highness did not bowl or field and would be summoned by (then rare) telephone to bat and transported to the field of play in his Rolls-Royce. He would receive a ration of dollies and use them to complete a sparkling hundred. At a meeting with Ranjitsinhji (Ranjit Singh Ji), he was able to enjoy bragging rights because he had never been dismissed for a duck. 8-9 minutes

In spite of the Maharaja’s enthusiasm, organized cricket was slow in reaching Kashmir. Visiting teams did not go there to play cricket, although English amateurs were often invited there to shoot by the Maharaja (inappropriately, the usual target was duck.) Drawing on memories from an experienced Kashmiri cricketer, Gowhar traces locally organized cricket to 1957, ten years after Partition, when teams began to visit Indian Punjab, and in 1960-61 Jammu and Kashmir entered India’s domestic competition, the Ranji Trophy.  11-14 minutes Its early teams, drawn almost exclusively from the minority Hindu Pandit community, had no success but were gradually reinforced by Kashmiri Muslim players in the late 1970s: Gowhar especially mentions the hard-hitting Abdur Rauf, praised by his victim Bishen Bedi. Only twice has J&K cricket team qualified for the quarterfinals in Ranji Trophy and never gone beyond that. He cites the first Kashmiri cricketers to gain international honours: Vivek Razdan, from the Hindu Pandit community, for India, and the Muslim Tahir Naqqash for Pakistan, both opening bowlers. During the 1970s radio and then television coverage in Pakistan built a big following for Pakistan’s increasingly successful team, but Gowhar reveals that it was actually dangerous for Kashmiris under Indian control to watch or listen to them. 14-19 minutes

Kashmiri Muslims nonetheless expressed their support for Pakistan, or any of India’s opponents. He cites the first visit by an international team to Srinagar, a one-day match against the West Indies in 1983, where noisy fans displayed giant posters of Imran Khan in the surrounding maple trees. Sunil Gavaskar later wrote in Runs n Ruins that he had never encountered such hostility in India and Clive Lloyd said it was like playing at home. The match was ended prematurely by a crowd invasion (some dug up the pitch) and a storm, in which the West Indies were declared winners by ten wickets. In 1986, Kashmiri Muslims cheered Allan Border’s visiting Australians (winners by six wickets) in a match Gowhar remembers as a child of five or six. 19-23 minutes

Since then, there have been no international men’s visitors to Jammu and Kashmir, but the tradition continues for Kashmiri Muslims to support India’s visitors. England are currently the beneficiaries, and Gowhar describes the earnest debates among local Kashmiri Muslims about England’s selection and rotation policies, and the impact they have had on England’s chances of winning. Unsurprisingly, Moeen Ali, from a family of Kashmiri origins, has a strong following. 35-38 minutes

Gowhar powerfully conveys the impact of unresolved conflict on all the cricketers of Kashmir, the pressures caused by divided loyalties and the choices forced on talented cricketers to commit to one country’s cricket or another. The pressures have been aggravated by mismanagement, factionalism, corruption of scandals and patronage in cricket administration in Jammu and Kashmir. 24, 27-30 minutes  He profiles Parvez Rasool, the first Kashmiri Muslim to represent India (in a solitary one-day international) and also the first to win an IPL contract. Others like Rasik Salam and Abdul Samad have since followed him. Gowhar describes a pattern in which players are adopted as symbols of political progress for one year, and then replaced by others. 30-35 minutes

He relates the haphazard attempts to promote a Kashmiri cricketing identity, particularly in periods of thaw between India and Pakistan among Kashmiris overseas. The latest initiative is a Kashmiri Premier League, in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. He reveals the Kashmiri word for a “shooter” or “gugger,” which translates literally as the “mouse ball”. 42-45 minutes

Indian Kashmir is now under direct rule from the Modi government in New Delhi, which extinguished the remains of limited autonomy in August 2019 and snatched the statehood as well. Gowhar gives a bleak assessment of its heavy policing and military presence, its crackdown on normal civil liberties, and political expression, and its subduing of local media. The internet was shut down for eighteen months. Curfews and bans on meetings (and the use of cricket grounds for political rallies by government ministers) have made it harder and harder for local cricketers to play proper matches. But such is the passion for cricket in Kashmir that players are using any available space, including hilltops, a frozen lake and even a graveyard. In the absence of conventional outlets, playing cricket and choosing which team to support have become substitute forms of political expression. 47-50 minutes

A BBC briefing on Kashmir can be found here https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10537286

Gowhar’s profile by the Frontline Defenders Organization can be found here  https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/gowhar-geelani

The literary event of the year is imminent: the publication of Wisden Cricketers Almanack.  Peter and Richard invite listeners to submit their nominations for the Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year to obornehellercricket@outlook.com. They will present the results in advance of Wisden’s.

Listen to more episodes of Oborne & Heller

Previous Episode – Episode 42: Maurice Turnbull – and other heroes of cricket in Wales

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.

Oborne & Heller cricketing partnership

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.

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 House Camellias 2021

Images above: Heritage Camellias in Chiswick House Conservatory; photographs by Lucinda MacPherson

Outdoors and online

Chiswick House and Gardens’ Camellia Show 2021 will be different this year. Usually at this time of year the heritage Camellias in the Conservatory are on show to the public, bringing thousands of visitors to the Gardens.
This year instead, Chiswick House & Gardens Trust are marking a trail around the Gardens for people to see those Camellias which are growing outside. Not quite in bloom yet, the trail map will be available to download from Chiswick House & Gardens’ website in a couple of weeks’ time.
Images above: Heritage camellias in the Conservatory; photographs by Jon Perry
There is also Camellia themed content planned on the website for the show, from 15 February – 26 March.
‘Since we are unable to welcome you all into the Conservatory at present, we are bringing the best of our camellias to you at home’ say Chiswick House & Gardens Trust.
‘Across our website and social media channels we will be hosting plenty of Camellia themed content – including behind the scenes footage with our gardening team, top tips for caring for your Camellias at home, and a photography competition, supported by the International Camellia Society’.
Chiswick has what is thought to be the largest collection of heritage camellias under glass outside Japan and China. The original plants were brought here by sea, having been discovered by Victorian plant collectors. The 1831 Chandler & Booth plant catalogue has 32 types of camellia on sale, of which Chiswick House still has 16.
Images above: Inside the Conservatory at Chiswick House; photograph by Anna Kunst; double flower; photograph Marianne Mahaffey

Photography exhibition and plant sale

The Trust is organising a photography competition. Entries should be sent to info@chgt.org.uk before 9.00pm on Sunday 28 February to be considered.
It is also planning a sale of heritage blooms, Covid restricitons permitting, some time in March, date to be confirmed.

This is the eleventh year of the Camellia Show. In 2015 The Chiswick Calendar’s editor Bridget Osborne interviewed Head Gardener Geraldine King about the heritage collection.

 

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: 300 years of Chiswick House Gardens, part 1 – guest blog by Dr David Jacques

See also: 300 years of Chiswick House Gardens, part 2 – guest blog by Dr David Jacques

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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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.

Stirling Road recycling centre closure “makes no sense” says Southfield councillor

Ealing council’s decision to close the recycling centre at Stirling Road in Acton “makes no sense” says Liberal Democrat councillor Andrew Steed.

LB Ealing is proposing to close the Acton Reuse and Recycling Centre on Stirling Road because it says it needs to save money. Earlier this month the council announced its plan to increase Council Tax by 5%, in line with other London councils including Hounslow and Hammersmith and Fulham councils and other Conservative led councils, to meet budget shortfalls exacerbated by the pandemic.

Image: Cllr Andrew Steed

Chiswick’s three Lib Dem councillors, who represent Southfield ward, oppose the closure, as the reuse and recycling centre is convenient for people in north Chiswick and south Acton. Councillor Andrew Steed told The Chiswick Calendar:

“Quite frankly it makes no sense. It discourages recycling, and encourages fly-tipping, it results in residents having to make longer car journeys, it goes against the council’s own climate change emergency recommendation. It makes no sense.”

No timescale has been set for closure but when it does close, the council has said residents living in the east of the borough will be able to use the recycling site at Abbey Road in Park Royal instead.

LB Ealing says it needs to make cuts in services to save money

A council spokesperson told The Chiswick Calendar the reason for the closure is the culmination of a decade of reduced funding from central government.

“Ealing Council is currently considering a number of budget proposals involving the borough’s waste services. One proposal includes consolidating waste and recycling operations to one main site at the larger Greenford Reuse and Recycling Centre.

“Funding from central government has fallen by 64% over the last 10 years. This means that, for every £1 the council used to receive it now gets just 36p”.

The projected revenue savings as a result of decommissioning the site at Stirling Rd are in the region of £125,000 per annum. In addition the land which is freed up by site closure is likely to be sold off to developers. A report commissioned by the Council’s regeneration team a couple of years ago valued the land at around £1.2m, so it is likely to be worth significantly more today.

Images above: LB Ealing Council Leader Julian Bell; Ealing Council offices

Reuse and Recycling centre at Stirling Rd is a target because it is relatively under used, says council

Earl Mckenzie, Assistant Director for Street Services at LB Ealing, told Cllr Steed that unlike most boroughs, Ealing currently has two household waste and recycling centres and according to the West London waste authority, Acton is probably the most expensive and least cost-effective site in London because of its size, through-put and user numbers.

‘Actual site usage and tonnages against all waste streams delivered to Acton have actually reduced year on year since 2017.

‘To be honest the site at Acton, although popular, provides a relatively limited recycling facility because of its small footprint and currently only 52% of waste delivered is recycled’ he said.

‘The site at Greenford has a throughput of 15,000t pa with a capacity for more than double that. The Acton site has a throughput of 4,064t pa so all of this waste could be accommodated at Greenford. That said, there is the availability of the site at Abbey Road and both provide better facilities for recycling, including DIY waste which is not accepted at Acton’.

The Abbey Rd reuse and recycling centre is 3.5 miles away from the Stirling Rd site, just off the North Circular Road, north of the Hangar Lane junction, in the borough of Brent NW10. Ealing residents are allowed to use it under an agreement between west London boroughs. The Greenford site is 6.2 miles away from the Stirling Rd site.

Petition against the closure

Ealing Liberal Democrats are organising a petition against the closure of the Stirling Rd centre.

‘Local opposition to closure is understood’ said Earl Mckenzie, ‘as the convenience of proximity will be missed. However this was the same when the Southall site was closed in 2012 and residents gradually became accustomed to using Greenford where the facilities are better.

‘With the new booking system across west London, access to sites is much better and the need for time consuming queuing has gone. To reduce the need for private car use, residents are encouraged to make use of the collection services offered by the Council and additional blue bins for recycling can be provided free of charge to all residents’.

Pressure on waste management provision is about to grow substantially in south Acton, as LB Ealing recently gave the green light to a development nearby on Bollo Lane of over 800 flats. The development will include ten tower blocks, one of which is 25-storeys high. Other planning applications for tower blocks of similar height are still pending approval in the area.

Ealing Council public meeting on the 2021-22 budget

Leading members of Ealing Council are due to hold a public meeting about the budget for 2021 – 2022 on Wednesday 24 February at 7.00pm. You can register for the Webinar with Cabinet Member for Finance and Leisure, Cllr Bassam Mahfouz and Council Leader Julian Bell here.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Bollo Lane ‘monster tower’ approved

See also: Latest tower block proposal for Chiswick roundabout

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.

Turkish food stall for Chiswick High Road declined by licencing panel

Image above: Area of Chiswick High Rd where the stall would have been; Google street view

An application to run a Turkish food stand at 257-259 Chiswick High Road, outside Betfred betting shop, has been turned down by Hounslow’s Licensing Panel following a virtual meeting.

The Licensing Panel decided to turn down Mr Gokhan Bozkurt’s ‘Flavour Land London’ after considering the concerns of local residents and businesses.

There were several opponents, including the art gallery Lemongrove London, who said it would have a negative affect on their business and resident Loraine Pemberton, who lives 50 yards away from the site of the proposed stall. The owner of the Wild Bunch Juicery at 402 Chiswick High Road, Mandana Kalati, also objected ‘to the opening of any food stalls in this area’.

Opponents claimed that allowing a stall would introduce unfair competition, that bricks and mortar businesses in Chiswick High Rd have higher overheads which Mr Bozkurt would not have to pay. They also stated that there were enough fast food business in the area which sold similar types of food, as well as concerns that the appearance of the stall may not be in keeping with the area.

Litter, smell and anti-social behaviour

Concerns were also raised about possible littering that may have been caused by the stall; food smells, noise and pollution from the generators which were planned to be used to heat food to be sold at the premises, as well as concerns about the late hours the applicant was applying for (from 6.00am-10.00pm).

Other concerns expressed were that there was a likelihood that granting the licence may attract crime and antisocial behaviour along Chiswick High Road and that the ability to socially distance in the light of the current COVID-19 pandemic may be compromised due to the additional stall.

After ‘carefully considering’ the representations made on behalf of the application the Panel decided to refuse the application for the following reasons:

Firstly, there was a large tree behind the premises where the stall was proposed to be positioned. This, the panel determined, would push the stall onto the pavement which would inconvenience people or vehicles using the street.

Secondly, ‘there were sufficient traders trading in the street or adjoining the Premises trading in the type of food/cuisine the applicant was proposing to sell from the premises’. These were items such as pizzas, pastries, dessert, cakes, hot and cold drinks.

Finally the Panel also accepted that ‘the preparation for the sale of the items the applicant was proposing to sell would adversely affect the general amenity of the area, which comprises of shops, flats, much of which was architecturally and socially significant buildings’.

The decision of the panel was final with no right to appeal.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Application for German sausage stall in Chiswick High Rd turned down

See also: Chiswick Cheese Market gets the go-ahead

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.

David Tennant nominated for Broadcasting Press Guild awards

Image above: David Tennant as Dennis Nilsen

David Tennant is up for Best Actor award in the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards 2021.

The 47th annual Television, Streaming and Audio awards – for work commissioned or premiered in the UK and screened in 2020 – will take place as a virtual event on 12 March 2021. The winners are chosen independently by TV and radio correspondents, critics and previewers.

Three BBC dramas – Normal PeopleSmall Axe and I May Destroy You – lead the nominations for this year’s awards, alongside two ITV dramas, Des and Quiz.

David Tennant, Chiswick’s most famous actor in residence, has been nominated for Best Actor in Des and Staged. Des is also nominated as Best Drama.

 

Image above: David Tennant as Dennis Nilsen, and Jason Watkins as his biographer, Brian Masters. ITV

Des

Des is the story of serial killer Dennis Nielson and is the ninth in the sequence of ITV miniseries about British serial killers, which has included This is Personal: the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper, Shipman, The Brides in the Bath and See No Evil: the Moors Murders. The latest in the sequence, broadcast in January, was The Pembrokeshire Murders.

Dennis Nilsen killed up to 15 vulnerable young men between 1978 and 1983. He preyed on gay men, homeless men, drug addicts or anyone who was a bit lonely.

Lucy Mangan, writing in the Guardian, described Des as ‘a sensitive, finely worked drama showing the unrelentingly bleak reality of the monstrous narcissist’.

Writing in the Radio Times, Thomas Ling described David Tennant’s portrayal of Nielson as ‘one of the best performances in an impeccable career’, saying he is ‘both believable and captivating as Dennis Nilsen in every scene’.

Image above: David Tennant and Michael Sheen in Staged

Staged

Staged is the comedy David Tennant filmed with Michael Sheen during the pandemic, using video conferencing technology.  The series premiered on 10 June 2020 on BBC One. A second series was broadcast on BBC One starting on 4 January 2021.

In the first series the two actors play fictionalised versions of themselves, trying to rehearse a performance of Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author during lockdown, while the underconfident director, Simon, struggles to keep control of the production.

The second series follows the “real” Michael and David following the success of the first series of Staged. Simon begins work on an American remake of the first series but Michael and David are not asked to reprise their roles.

David’s actor wife Georgia also has a main part in the series. A whole host of stars, such as Whoopi Goldberg, Samuel L Jackson, Judi Dench, Michael Palin, Ewan McGregor, Hugh Bonneville, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Cate Blanchett have made guest appearances.

Staged will be shown in museums as proof of how mad it all got at the start of the 2020s’ wrote Joel Golby in the Guardian.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Prime Minister announces phased easing of lockdown

See also: Stirling Rd recycling centre closure “makes no sense” says councillor

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300 years of Chiswick House Gardens – Part 2

Image above: Chiswick House; photograph by Anna Kunst

Part 2: William Kent becomes involved

In the early part of the 18th century, inspired by the architecture he saw on his Grand Tours of Italy, Richard Boyle, 3rd earl of Burlington set about realising his vision and creating a villa with associated garden all in the antique manner. It was a triumph. Chiswick House, his villa in the style of Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio was completed in 1729 and tourists came from Britain and abroad to visit the gardens and view his collection of fine paintings.

READ MORE: Part 1: Vision of Richard Boyle, 3rd earl of Burlington

In the second of a series of features examining how the gardens were created and re-created over 300 years, author and garden historian Dr David Jacques looks at how the Gardens’ creator perfected his great project in collaboration with with artist, designer, architect and garden designer William Kent.

Image above: The villa from the garden by William Watts in 1783

‘He saw that all nature was a garden’

By David Jacques

Lord Burlington’s gardens were a huge success, but he continued to experiment. In the restless pursuit of his aims he was constantly trying to achieve a greater perfection. He permitted his versatile and imaginative protegée, William Kent, to suggest refinements, one of which, his changes to the garden, were to have enormous significance across Europe.

Kent has been studied by art historians, architectural historians, furniture historians and garden historians. He is the subject of many publications, the most recent being the catalogue of an exhibition in 2014 – it is a tome in the true sense, with 688 pages contributed by 16 learned authors. If you want to weigh it, use the bathroom scales, not the kitchen ones.

Images above: William Kent portrait by William Aikman, 1723 – 25; Richard Boyle, 3rd earl of Burlington portrait by Jonathan Richardson, c 1717 – 1719, courtesy of the Nationanl Portrait Gallery

How did Kent achieve such lasting fame? He was a painter, but most agree that his work was no better than acceptable. Instead, it was his gradual evolution as an interior designer, architect and garden designer that was to have such an impact on Georgian design.

He spent ten years in Rome eking out an existence as a ceiling painter until meeting up with Burlington on his 1719 Grand Tour. Burlington was finishing off Burlington House in Piccadilly at the time and offered Kent employment on his ceilings and a room there.

After a couple of years Burlington asked the ‘signor’ to turn some of his drawings by Inigo Jones into prints in preparation for publication, and in 1725 he was employed to paint, decorate and furnish Kensington Palace for George I. These skills were fully employed from 1727 in Burlington’s new villa at Chiswick, where he undertook the complete interior decoration of mantlepieces, door frames, ceiling paintings, and the furniture throughout.

Image above: The Hermitage designed by Kent for Richmond Gardens in 1730

Rural chic – a fashion for wild and rugged scenery

Burlington and Kent were becoming good friends, and Kent joined the Earl and Countess at Chiswick for Sundays. He developed the habit of making sketches of more intimate scenes, such as Lady Burlington’s aviary garden, as well as of the wider garden, including ideas for alterations.

Perhaps through Lady Burlington, who was Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Caroline, Kent started in 1730 designing garden buildings at Richmond Gardens (now part of Kew Gardens). His first was a ‘hermitage’, and it could not have been more different from the calculated Classicism of the Chiswick villa. It had the appearance of a partly-ruined relic from antiquity, set into a wild hillside with pines. Perhaps this was a half-remembered scene from the mountains behind Rome; in the English context it was extraordinary and without precedent.

The interest in this Hermitage is not just its architecture, but its setting, for it was accompanied by a lawn at its front and the wild hillside behind. There were some parallel instances of wild and rugged scenery invoked as stage sets and there was even one example of a grotto that had wild planting over the structure, and which is usually assigned a date of 1724. Richard Bradley wrote that grottoes could be

‘planted on the Top with Flowering Shrubs, disposed in the wildest Manner they possibly can be, for the out-side Appearance ought to look Rural. The finest of the Kind that I have observ’d in Europe, is that belonging to Thomas Scawen, Esq; at Carshalton in Surrey’.

Image above: The view of the cascade by John Donowell in 1753

It was one thing to design a garden building with a rugged setting, but quite another to imagine an entire garden in this ‘rustic’ style. Kent’s fertile invention imagined it, though. The water at Chiswick was at first referred to as a canal, but by 1733 it was being seen as a river. At one end there would be a grotto/cascade which would suggest the source of a mighty watercourse. It would be an illusion of course, because the ‘river’ actually flowed the other way!

Burlington’s own idea appears to have been for a Classical structure, but Kent converted him to a rustic one with wild planting behind. The fall of water was to be provided by a steam engine situated on the other side of Burlington Lane.

Image above: The cascade; photograph by Anna Kunst

One of the best gardens in the country for statuary

Kent wanted to convert the whole lower end of the water to a rustic style, and in preparation certain hedges were removed in order to allow sweeping views down from the villa to the cascade, and also the Ionic Temple by the amphitheatre. To achieve this in full the labyrinth close to the villa would also need to be removed. Having had this planted less than five years previously, Burlington appears to have been reluctant, but then relented. Kent had had his way, no doubt by convincing his patron that having such a feature was another way to reinvoke the antique garden.

The area thus converted was only a small part of the Chiswick gardens – really only a snatch of a contrasting feel in an otherwise formal garden. Kent wanted to go further in informalizing the rest of the hedges and surrounds of the river, but Burlington’s interest had by then turned to the question of garden statuary. He even ordered more terms to be set in front of his yew hedges.

Image above: The three ‘Roman senators’ in the hemicycle at the end of the north vista

The lines of urns seen stretching away from the first-floor gallery in the villa, that is northwards towards the hemicycle with the ‘Roman senators’, were Burlington’s intention from 1735. He had designed a number of urn shapes already, and had them carved in Bath. The sequence started with a boar and a wolf under the north front, then urns alternating with cypress trees, then sphinxes flanked by cedars, then more urns down to the lion and lioness.

Together with statuary that he already had, and an accumulating number of terms, the number of pieces in the garden exceeded a hundred. It was amongst the foremost statuary gardens in the country.

Images above: Urns at Chiswick House Gardens; photographs Anna Kunst

This was the state in which the villa and grounds remained until the 5th Duke’s changes in the 1780s. They were much visited, and entry was by ticket only. The sequence was: the forecourt – the steps up to the piano nobile – the paintings in the domed saloon and the rooms to either side – down the north front steps to the garden – the collection of garden statuary. Although Burlington saw these features as a lesson in antique taste, most visitors emphasised the attraction of the white villa and statuary framed or set against the dark foliage of cedars and yews – a delightful and tasteful scene.

Images above: Statuary; Chiswick House Gardens’ lion; photographs Anna Kunst

Meanwhile Kent’s experiment with a more natural style in the garden blossomed into what is called the ‘English landscape garden’. Following Kent, its chief exponent was Capability Brown. It spread to most countries in Europe and even to the colonies in North America and Australia.

Next – the 5th Duke and his troublesome duchess

Image above: The sphinx and the villa; photograph by Mando Mendolicchio

David Jacques

Dr David Jacques is a garden historian and the author of Chiswick House Gardens: 300 years of creation and recreation.

To pre-order a copy of the book, which has not yet been printed, go to David’s GoFundMe page. He has set up a crowd-funding page as the book will be published by a non-profit academic press (Liverpool University Press) which likes to ensure that its costs are covered, and so seeks pre-publication commitments. 

His other publications are: Georgian GardensThe Gardens of William and MaryThe Career of Christopher Tunnard and Gardens of Court and CountryDavid was for many years a trustee of Chiswick House and Gardens and his latest book is the culmination of 35 years commitment and research as consultant, inspector and trustee.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Garden historian David Jacques raises funds to publish definitive book on the history of Chiswick House Gardens

See also: Alexander Pope, 18th century poet who lived on Mason Row

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.

Mayor proposes to invest millions to protect frontline police numbers

In the midst of what he called “huge financial challenges”, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced a further £30million investment in policing to ensure that more than 1,000 Metropolitan Police officers will continue to patrol the streets of the capital for the next four years.

The Metropolitan Police has recruited an additional 1,300 police officers over the past three years.

The announcement ring-fences funding from City Hall for the next four years for those additional officers, whose posts might have been at risk because of the impact of Covid-19 on business rates income.

On top of this, the Mayor has proposed a further £8million of new Council Tax funding on additional violence prevention programmes.

The new investment will fund a range of projects to reduce violence, such as expanding GPS tagging of violent offenders after prison release and extending the funding for youth work services for young victims of violence seen in London’s trauma centres and A&Es.

The level of policing in London has dropped to 30,000 officers for the first time in 15 years. London has 21,000 police officers fewer than it did in 2010.

City Hall says that violent crime had started to fall before the pandemic, and has continued to do so since the first coronavirus lockdown in March last year. Since 2016, it says, Mayor Khan has diverted more than £1billion of Council Tax and business rates receipts to policing.

Policing in the capital – which includes a range of additional duties, such as state visits, anti-terrorism units and diplomatic protection that tend not to be required elsewhere in the country – ‘remains underfunded by government by more than £160million per year’.

Government ‘continues to refuse’ to fully fund police

‘The government continues to refuse to fully refund the Met for the costs incurred in supporting the capital during the covid-19 pandemic’, the City Hall statement said, claiming that £21million of covid costs remain unfunded this financial year.

In his speech, Sadiq Khan said:

“Violent crime had been increasing across the country and in London since 2014, while serious youth violence had been going up since 2013. We’ve worked hard to tackle violence in our city, and it started to fall well before the pandemic hit and has continued to do so. But I am not content or complacent, we still have a long way to go.

“If we are to see the long-term reductions in violence that we all want to see in our city, we must continue to tackle the underlying causes of crime, such as poverty, deprivation and lack of opportunities for young Londoners.

“I’m doing everything I can from City Hall to reduce violence, but it’s clear we still have huge financial challenges ahead because the government has implemented a new era of austerity on public services in London.

“Ministers must now match my commitment to tackling this issue and fully refund City Hall and the Met for all the lost income and money spent tackling the pandemic.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Hammersmith Bridge lit up red in protest by local residents

See also: Coroner slams west London mental health service after woman’s death

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.

Preparations made to clear the way for building new footbridge

Image above: Barnes railway Bridge; photograph Nick Raikes

Sharp eyed walkers who take their exercise in Dukes Meadows may have spotted a bit of undergrowth clearance going on beside Barnes railway bridge. The work is in preparation for the installation of a crane, ready to lift the steel supports for the new footbridge which is to be built underneath it.

Image above: Computer generated image of what the new footbridge underneath Barnes railway bridge will look like

The pedestrian walkway was given the go ahead three years ago and is being developed by architects Moxon in collaboration with Hounslow Council, as part of a regeneration programme for Dukes Meadows.

The footbridge will allow walkers to follow the Thames Path from Hammersmith Bridge to Chiswick Bridge without having to cut inland away from the river.

Image above: Barnes Railway Bridge from the west; photograph Nick Raikes

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Pedestrian footway under Barnes Railway Bridge gets planning permission

See also: New avenue of Lime trees planted at Dukes Meadows

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.

Man in the Middle Chapter 60 – A Right Royal Valentine

This is the diary of a middle aged man. A man who walks the tightrope between the demands of his Mother, wife and kids when all he wants is more ‘me time’. Post Crash, Post Covid, Post Libido, Past Caring. Ecce homo. Ecce Boomer. Ecce Man in the Middle.

If you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read
No. 1: The Letter here

No.60: A Right Royal Valentine

‘Megan and Harry have been at it again.’

‘What?’

‘She’s having a baby. It’s all over the papers.’

I pass my laptop to my wife, who’s sitting next to me in bed, wearing a knitted beany, the colour of a pale raspberry.

(It’s been so cold this week that we’ve got back into the habit of sleeping hatted, which we pioneered when the boiler died in December leaving us central heating free for a month.)

She puts aside the cup of tea she’s been staring at blankly and peers at the picture of Megan lying on draped in Harry’s lap in a park somewhere. Seeing the picture, she starts to smile.

‘Sweet.’

Something in me starts to grumble.

‘Why isn’t he wearing shoes.’

‘This Valentine’s picture is putting a smile on the face of half the people on the planet and all you can do is criticize him for not wearing shoes?’

‘Look at the grass. It’s long and sharp as a needle. I think he’s been ill-advised to go barefoot on a photo-shoot on a lawn like that. He might have cut his feet on the photo-shoot.’

‘You’re not going off on one of your Royal rants, are you?’ says my wife, the smile slipping from her face.

My daughter walks into our bedroom.

‘Bickering already?’ she asks.

‘No. Just discussing the symbolism of the picture of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex,’ says my wife.

‘Awful, wasn’t it.’

A little smile creeps on my face.

‘How do you mean, darling?’ I ask.

‘Oh, you know. The usual paternalistic rubbish: pregnant woman swooning back on the thighs of her Royal knight. Looking up at him lovingly, while he ruffles her hair like she’s a pet pussycat. And then all that Christian symbolism. The two of them simply clothed in a lush landscape of palms and long grass. It’s clearly meant to suggest a prelapsarian Eden in which Megan is Eve and Harry is Adam.’

I am not sure what prelapsarian means. But I’m very happy to have support for my irrational irritation.

‘Excellent analysis. I noticed the long grass, too,’ I say.

‘I agree. The picture is totally heteronormative,’ says my son chipping in from the doorway.

‘I preferred her back in the day when she wrote articles attacking Trump,’ says my daughter.

‘Enough. I preferred it when you two weren’t so critical,’ says my wife. ‘Time for a nice family Valentine’s Day breakfast.’

‘I’ve already put some croissants in the oven,’ says my son. The look on his face suggests he should be awarded the Croix de Guerre.

After breakfast, we agree the house is a tip. All over the house, there are cardboard boxes stacked inside other cardboard boxes, like Russian dolls. Some are filled with household rubbish and newspapers. Their like brieze blocks randomly scattered around the house.

It hasn’t helped the paper recycling bin was refilled within an hour of it being emptied because of a large delivery of wine and beer boxes and that the glass recycling bin has been stolen. But things have got out of hand.

Shoes are scattered throughout the house, there are piles clothing in empty rooms, as if people have spontaneously combusted leaving their socks and shirts and underwear behind.

There are four crates of empty beer bottles in the kitchen and, in the hallway, an electric piano, two golf clubs, four cardboard boxes of rubbish and Lilly Allen’s autobiography have made the passageway almost impassable. There’s fliers at the foot of the letterbox like dribble.

‘We’re entombed,’ I say to the family, as we survey the task ahead of us.

‘Lockdown has turned us into hoarders,’ says my son. ‘Maybe we should leave it for another week and see how we feel then?’

‘We’ve got sloppy,’ says my wife.

We all agree that in a perfect world we wouldn’t want to clean the house on Valentine’s Day. It’s not romantic or fun. But this is an emergency.

‘We’re facing a major health and safety issue and we need to act now,’ says daughter.

My wife quickly puts together a plan and assigns us tasks. I am as fluffed as a randy peacock at my task which is to get all the cardboard boxes downstairs in the shortest time possible.

Instead of carrying them down, I kick them down the stairs and shout ‘goal’ every time one drops onto the next landing, which irritates my wife and daughter but half amuses my son, who then breaks the boxes up and puts them outside near the bins.

Three strenuous hours later, we reconvene for a coffee break in the kitchen.

‘You should be proud of yourselves,’ says my wife.

‘We couldn’t have done it without you, boss,’ I say, imagining I’m a football whose been given a half time stroke from their manager.

Everyone silently looks at the floor.

After a short while, my daughter breaks the silence and says: ‘It smells better in here.’

‘We must have been nose blind for a while,’ says my son.

‘We’ve all earned our Valentine’s Dinner Day treat,’ says my wife.

How could I have forgotten? Our Valentine Day’s treat is a slap-up dinner made by a local chef. The food is due for delivery in the next couple of hours. Then it’s down to us to turn on the oven and pop the food in.

My spirits lift and I start to recite the menu out loud, like a Gregorian chant.

‘Truffled beef tartare with brioche cubes.’

The family join in.

‘Tempura vegetables with chimichurri sauce and saffron ailoi,’ says my son.

‘Halibut fillets with a champagne sauce,’ says my daughter.

‘Passion fruit cheesecake,’ says my wife.

We laugh. Valentine’s Day is looking up.

‘We’ve had some great Valentine’s dinners over the years, haven’t we?’ I say looking at my wife.

‘Oh yes,’ replies my wife.

‘Which was your favourite?’ I ask.

‘Well, there was the one when you fainted into your bowl of stilton soup.’

‘Messy,’ I say.

‘Or the time at that restaurant where all the dining tables were high off the ground, like bunk beds. Or a nest. You fell off the ladder climbing up and we had to go to A&E? We didn’t even make it to the first course that time.’

‘Memories,’ I say.

‘But my all-time favourite was when you set fire to your flat with the fondue set.’

‘When the fondue burner exploded like a cannon?’

‘And shot flames across the table.’

‘Which burnt your eyebrows off.’

‘And my fringe.’

‘And the tablecloth caught light and then the carpet.’

‘Those were the days.’

I look out into the garden. There are three circles of purple crocuses huddled together but blooming in the cold air. The rain has stopped. Harry and Megan are having a baby. Dinner is on its way. This Valentine can still turn out OK.

Read more blogs by James Thellusson

Read the next in the series – Chapter 61: Moonpig, Mother and me

Read the previous one – Chapter 59: Hurrah for my free bus pass!

See all James’s Man in the Middle 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.

Property sales and residential lettings very busy at the start of 2021

Image above: Terraced housing in Chiswick

Guest blog by Julian Masson

The end of 2020 and the start of the New Year brought fresh impetuous to the sales market and despite the Prime Minister’s announcement to enter a third national lockdown on 4 January, buyers were still keen to make the most of the stamp duty holiday.

For us, this was demonstrated by the fact that we agreed the sale of seven properties in January, which was very encouraging. As we edge ever closer to the end of March and with the likelihood of an extension to the stamp duty holiday dwindling, many buyers have come to the realisation that they are incredibly unlikely to make the deadline and so are taking more time with their search and have lost a bit of the recent urgency.

Due to the pandemic, the average time for purchases to progress from a sale agreed to exchange has increased dramatically mainly due to a slow-down in the mortgage process, search results received from councils and general efficiency from various parties involved.

Now more than ever, it is absolutely imperative for a buyer and seller to instruct a proactive and efficient mortgage broker and solicitor, both of which we can highly recommend at John D Wood. It’s difficult to say what the future will hold for the property market and house prices but we predict a busy start to the spring with many buyers and sellers holding back for the lockdown restrictions to ease and for the improved weather and optimism.

Residential lettings up 400% in December

In regards to the residential lettings market, activity got off to a positive start in January 2021 off the back of one of the busiest Decembers John D Wood have seen in recent years owing to what we call ‘internal movement’ or ‘London movement’ due to the increased desire for outside space and additional internal space for people working from home.

In December, we witnessed a 400% increase in new lets from 2019-2020. Traditionally, January is a busy month and we certainly haven’t been disappointed with a 57% increase in viewings across our London offices from this time last year.

Many landlords have taken our advice to market their properties at realistic prices to ensure we secure a good quality tenant and avoid void periods. In regard to rental values, these should start to stabilise as the ongoing situation with the Covid-19 pandemic improves.

Julian Masson is Branch Manager and Head of Sales at John D Wood & Co. 

If you are thinking of selling your property, take advantage of John D Wood’s Club Card offer: 35% off agency feesJohn D Wood & Co sponsors The Chiswick Calendar.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Latest tower block proposal for Chiswick roundabout

See also: Judicial review of the cycle lane gets the go-ahead

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 Reconfined – Lockdown 3: Now is the winter of our discontent

During the first lockdown period in March 2020, Keith Richards started writing the My Corona blog for The Chiswick Calendar – a mix of his observations from his daily constitutionals and the quiet enjoyment of his record collection. Since then he has continued to document the every day occurrences of this most peculiar time.

“Thou knowest, winter tames man, woman, and beast.”

William Shakespeare

This weather is more like winters past!

My view of the featureless cold sky brings no cheer to my spirit. As I stand gazing into the middle distance like some lonely sentinel from days of yore (or Game of Thrones, same thing) I imagine that the windows to my flat’s balcony look over a medieval castle yard. I throw away my NHS crutch; bunch my shoulders under my isolation apathy tea-stained hoodie and, leaning through the crenelated battlements as I channel my latent Laurence Olivier, I declaim……

“Now is the winter of our discontent.”

I mean. What could be a better descriptor of where we are now?

And it is winter. Bleeding Norah, is it winter? *

I had to post a parcel on Friday. My weather App informed me it was zero degrees but ‘Feels Like’ minus six. I looked across the fortifications and beyond the thin columns of blue smoke drifting up from a hundred peasants’ fires and thought “Hmm, it is quite sunny so it can’t be that bad if I keep walking (hip replacement hobbling actually)’. Bad mistake!

To be fair, the Post Office on Heathfield Terrace is pretty organised these days but the distanced queue does stretch round the corner and on a good day the wait is twenty minutes. Further bad news was that the weak sun was behind buildings so my huddled sojourn was without even that limited warmth. It was so cold people weren’t even looking at their phones ‘cos they needed to keep their hands in their pockets!

Imagine that, a whole queue and no one was texting or watching Tik Tok for, like, minutes! After that wait and then others outside shops the phrase ‘wintery discontent’ does not even come close. Normally of course I would pop into one of Chiswick’s many cafes for a recuperating hot soup or even a cup of coffee but being caught doing that now would result in excruciating flagellation from an armoured sergeant at arms.

My other fall back, a take away ‘flat white’ from Good Boy café on the corner of Elliott Road and the Green, sipped relaxing on a bench watching witches being publically burnt at the stake just by Abundance London’s flower garden was clearly not on the agenda. So, it was hasten back to my castle keep, throw another serf on the fire and huddle over the flames and imagine the flickering shadows on the bare walls were of dancing maidens. **

Mixing my Shakespearian metaphors

In fact, that gave me an idea. To help distract me from my gloomy of pondering of a return to the dark ages I reminded myself of Macbeth’s Three Witches. In fact, I went back to an early draft Folio of ‘The Scottish Play’ and found that ol’ William had specifically predicated what was going to happen this winter. In the famous Act 4, Scene 1 witches’ tableau he actually prophesied Trump’s acquittal. Amazingly his original version was

“Double, Donald Trump is trouble;
Fire burn the Capitol bubble.”

This clearly refers to the failed indictment after a second impeachment and what that portends for the future of western democracy. He changed the final version a bit.

(“Double, Double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.)

Then he perfectly describes a press conference as Boris announces his latest magical solution to the UK’s dire Covid situation.

(“Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.”)

Thereafter, further recognising that the quality of Boris’ ministers leave something to be desired and that cabinet meetings have a certain archaic thinking to them he goes on to predict a new unseen variant only picked up through blood tests.

(“O well done! I commend your pains;
And every one shall share i’ the gains;
And now about the cauldron sing,
Live elves and fairies in a ring,
Enchanting all that you put in.

By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.”)

More political predictions?

Not convinced that the Stratford bard had an eye on our current predicament? Well, talking of wintry discontent I reckon Richard III could well reflect much of the history of Boris’ political life: opportunism, failure to judge the mood of the populace, being more about form than substance and ending up increasingly isolated from his political base. Sure, I don’t mean literally but, you know, there are echoes in that figuratively stabbing people in the back, multiple sexual partners and exotic dress sense that make you wonder. Even Dominic Cummings is like that shadowy character that critics and historians debate endlessly as the possible ‘murderer in the tower’ – didn’t he have links to Barnard Castle? Just asking?

I don’t actually suggest that Boris will come to a sticky end looking for his horse on Bosworth Field but. Picture this. The inevitable Gove coup takes place while Boris is out doing one of his painful hospital PR visits somewhere in the Midlands. It could even be Hinkley and Bosworth Community Hospital! As the news comes in the media scrum desert him to go and catch Cove’s announcement on a television somewhere.

The doctors and nurses who had been rounded up as camera fodder for the political circus wander off to do their proper job. Suddenly a distracted and isolated former Prime Minister appears all-alone. As the final camera pans away Boris is left looking desperately for BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg. “Laura, Laura, I promise one last exclusive if you let me explain to the people…..!” Just as Shakespeare wrote of a king’s desperation for his horse, that symbol of power and a means of salvation so a failing politician desperate reaches for the oxygen of publicity that might extend his political life.

Maybe this ‘Winter of Discontent’ refers as much to the political arena and as a metaphor for the criticism of the government’s Covid management as it does for my walk down the High St? Who knows? Eye of Newt anyone?

So, as my musical illustration I originally was thinking of some blizzard ridden rock video featuring Black Sabbath or Meat Loaf but as my mind meandered, as it is wont to do, I thought “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” might be the perfect send off. Then again, what version? Written in 1944, it first appeared in the 1949 movie ‘Neptune’s Daughter’ starring Red Skelton. Sung mainly by Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban it one that years Academy Award for best song.

Probably the most popular version was Dean Martin’s though Willie Nelson and Norah Jones had a good stab at it. However, I have gone for a version that contrasts the frosty, cold theme of my blog with a warm, comforting and affectionate live version by the late great Ray Charles and Dionne Warwick. I suppose I could claim a link in that the Earl of Warwick was a major player in Shakespeare’s Wars of the Roses plays but that might be stretching it. Just enjoy.

 

* Poor Norah. I wonder who she was and why was she bleeding? A quick Google brings up some weird suspects like a maid of the Duke Of Wellington who beat another servant to death in the kitchen and to a famous WW2 ‘Nit Nurse’, who went round schools to treat children suffering from nits. The real answer is that it is probably a form of ‘bloody horror’, much as ‘gawd blimey’ comes from ‘god blind me’.

** Look, you have to use your imagination in the 15th century. Shadow patterns were the medieval version of You Tube.

Read more blogs by Keith

Read the next in the series – My Corona: With apologies to Samuel Beckett

Read the previous one – Chiswick Reconfined: Lockdown 3: From the Mundane to the Magical

See all Keith’s My Corona blogs here.

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Feel free to post any comments or suggestions there or by email to Keith@outsiderinside.co.uk

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Coroner slams west London mental health service after woman’s death

Image above: Westminster Coroner’s Court

A senior coroner has criticised the response of the West London Mental Health Trust after the death of a woman who was referred to them.

Valeria Munoz Biggs took her own life whilst suffering agitated depression, ‘possibly on the bipolar spectrum’. She died on 20 September 2019 after jumping in front of a train at Holland Park Underground Station. She was 31 years old at the time of her death.

Professor Dr Fiona J Wilcox, HM’s Senior Coroner for the area of Inner West London, said in her report to the Clinical Director of West London NHS Trust’s Acute Mental Health Services, that the team who were assigned to Valeria contributed to her death.

‘Her symptoms were not taken sufficiently seriously… If she had been adequately assessed and admitted to hospital, her death would not have occurred at this time’.

In her report, Dr Wilcox said:

‘On 12 September 2019, Valeria was actively suicidal and sought help on the advice of her psychiatrist of NHS services.

‘She attended A&E where she was found by Liaison Psychiatry to be mentally unwell and admission was discussed. She was concerned about admission and so was referred to the CRISIS Home Treatment Team, with a recommendation for low threshold for admission if her risk escalated or her family were not coping. She was directed to Care in the Community by the Home Treatment Team.

‘Overnight she was actively suicidal, attending a train station with thoughts of jumping before a train. This continued the next day. The Home Treatment Team did not visit on 13 September 2019 as planned and did not assess her suicidality or speak with the family, despite a contact from police that afternoon, informing them that a member of public had found her wandering expressing a wish to take her own life. I find this to be gross failure on the part of the Trust.’

Valeria’s suicidal thoughts continued and were ‘underestimated by the visiting team’ even though she had left her residence on 15 September with the intention of taking her own life on four occasions.

‘The family were unable to keep her safe. There were delays in psychiatric assessment, failure to increase her drugs adequately and persistent underestimation of her suicidality and failure to adequately engage with and listen to the family and note their concerns’.

Culture of ‘risk taking’

The coroner concluded there was a ‘team culture of positive risk taking’ that the NHS Trust needs to address. The team showed a repeated ‘lack of engagement’ with those who were attempting to look after Valeria at home and she was not properly offered admission to hospital, but rather ‘pushed toward care in the community’.

Had all of the necessary steps been taken, then Valeria’s death “would not have occurred at this time” Dr Wilcox reported.

The coroner also flagged up an inappropriate comment by one of the team which showed a lack of understanding of her illness.

‘Comments of a personal nature were made to her: paraphrased as “you are so pretty why would you want to kill yourself”, by a male member of the team in a clumsy attempt to cheer her up which she and her boyfriend who was present found offensive’.

There was a lack of proper assessment of suicidality, she said. For example: ‘seeming to ignore her actions, and concerns passed by her brother who was caring for her and over reliance upon no active suicidality being expressed when directly asked. Even when she was at times so unwell that she would not talk or was incoherent there was no reassessment of risk.’

At the end of her report Dr. Wilcox submitted eight primary concerns about the handling of Valeria’s case which she said should be addressed in order to prevent future deaths, claiming that this case “seriously calls into question the operational ethos of the care in the community approach in West London.”

She has given the Trust 56 days to respond.

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