TfL appoints operator to run temporary Hammersmith ferry service

Image above: Hammersmith Bridge

Transport for London (TfL) has chosen a boat operator to run ferry services across the river near Hammersmith Bridge and the service should be operating by the end of the summer they say, subject to consents.

After a competitive procurement process, TfL has selected Uber Boat by Thames Clippers to run the temporary Hammersmith ferry from a point near to Queen Caroline Street in Hammersmith to the Hammersmith Bridge approach in Barnes and back, providing the planning application for landing points is passed.

‘There will be a full programme of engagement with the local community and other river users ahead of any planning application being submitted’ says TfL.

The service will take foot passengers and cycles over the Thames while Hammersmith Bridge undergoes vital repair and refurbishment works. The boats, 25 metre long high-speed catamarans, will have a minimum capacity of 800 passengers an hour at peak times, with services running daily from 06.00-22.00.

Fares are expected to mirror buses at £1.55, subject to necessary approvals.

‘This would include a Hopper option and the acceptance of the same concessions, including freedom passes and free travel for children. The Hopper option will allow people who arrive at the ferry by bus to change onto the ferry at no further charge, as long as they change within an hour of starting their original journey’.

Uber Boat by Thames Clippers is licensed to operate TfL’s River Bus on the River Thames. Founded in 1999 as Thames Clippers, their fleet now serves 23 piers across the capital at 20-minute intervals between key London piers.

Pre-Covid passenger numbers reached 4.3 million in 2019. A ticketing partnership with Uber, launched in 2020, saw the business rebranded as Uber Boat by Thames Clippers, but the service continues to be fully operated by Thames Clippers with no change in ownership; AEG, owners and operators of The O2, own the majority stake in the company.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Radical plans for temporary crossing over Hammersmith Bridge

See also: More than six years before Hammersmith Bridge could reopen to vehicles

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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Episode 10: The pandemic poll boost – Why?

This week the Three Old Hacks discuss a year of the pandemic and how it is that the Government is still popular in the polls.

They talk about the fall out from the Meghan and Harry interview; sexual abuse in boarding schools and flags on government buildings – “ridiculous, insecure and pathetic”.

Join former BBC Sports News editor Mihir Bose, Economics Editor of the Sunday Times David Smith and political commentator Nigel Dudley for this week’s podcast.


More Platforms

Listen to more episodes here.

Get in contact with the podcast by emailing threeoldhacks@outlook.com, we’d love to hear from you!

My Corona – Another Year Another Life

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. 

“She speaks in a voice almost too low to be heard over the music. But I hear her – I always did. “Who are you, George?”

“Someone you knew in another life, honey.”

Stephen King

Bringing back memories – my first ten days under Lock Down last March, according to my daily blog

Day 1 – Tuesday 24th of March

On the first day, I started what were to be themes that continued during the first lock down. One of them was how fast traders adapted to the new conditions and in particular my travails trying to post a parcel. ….

“So, as I approached the Post Office (on Heathfield Terrace) I could see a couple of people in front of a clearly shut door, straining to make sense of a square of white paper crookedly stuck on it. I kept my social distance until I too could approach the door and attempt to read, let alone understand the scruffy and tiny notice. Despite the website saying the Post Office was open with normal hours the notice was clearly saying it would only be open part-time. But what hours? I leave you to see if you can read it?

Apart from being in a twelve if not ten point font the times have been badly scribbled over so as to be illegible. While I was there a pensioner came over and was visibly distressed and had her face just a few inches as she tried to understand. When I explained and offered to help she wandered off muttering. Many pensioners still collect their pensions and allowances in cash from this Post Office and that notice was thoughtless and unhelpful. I have no problem with them reducing hours or taking steps to protect their staff but they need to communicate clearly.”

“One of the themes of this blog will be that we all need to remember those traders and services who did give a shit during the crisis and give them our patronage afterwards. Those that are not looking after their staff, that price gouge and take advantage should be boycotted thereafter.”

Day 2 – Weds 25th

I was still battling away to post my parcel ………

“Meanwhile, having deciphered the rubbish Post Office signage I took myself down this morning to catch it before it shut at 12 (or was that 12.30- who knows?). Well, today they did have a proper sign outside (was that because I tweeted a copy of the photo to the @PostOffice twitter feed?) but they also had a queue stretching 50 metres down Barley Mow Passage….. but there was a member of staff telling them that they were closing on time and would not be serving even those people already at the back of the queue. Raise a glass to customer service!”

I was learning that some shops had adapted quicker than others, though it appeared that some customers had not!

“Overall, the High Road was significantly busier than yesterday with queues outside Boots and the banks – all orderly and socially distanced. M & S had a very well organised waiting system supervised by a member of staff and my local Sainsbury’s (by the junction with Chiswick Lane) had a less well managed and more informal system. As I wanted some milk, I joined the queue. There are always some tossers though, aren’t there? One guy turned up and went to walk in. On being stopped as the queue was pointed out to him he swore at us and marched off. I exchanged glances, bonding with my fellow pavement dwellers.”

“Talking of supermarkets. Why is everyone rushing to the supermarket and then complaining their shelves are empty when nearly all the small, local shops in Chiswick have plenty of stock? Apart from eggs, which I am told are in short supply everywhere …. I saw just about everything you need in the small businesses that we should be supporting along the High Rd.”

Day 3 – Thurs 26th

It was only the third day but it appears I had an early ‘down day’. Reading back I am surprised that it happened so early. Maybe something unrecorded happened to trigger it but as we were all to learn this was to be an apparently common experience.

“Today, outside my balcony, the sun is shining. The beautiful sound of my neighbours’ four-year old daughter playing on their patio floats through my open window. Yet today my mood is somewhat darker and I may forgo my daily walk. From my conversations with friends, particularly those living on their own, I know that in the coming days some will be brighter than others. I tell you what though. Right now, I feel lucky to be in my Chiswick apartment rather than Lagos, Bergamo or ……. “

Day 4 – Fri 27th

Four days in and I had still not posted that parcel so I changed direction …….

“Having given up on Chiswick’s unwelcoming Post Office I thought I would give the smaller one on King Street (No 168, not the main one in the soon to be Ikea Mall a try). What a difference, whereas Chiswick have reduced their hours, the chap here has increased his. It is a small premises with just enough room for 2 or 3 people inside at properly distanced intervals and was apparently busy early on but at about 12.30 there were just three people ahead of me. “

One my way back I attempted to do what these days is part of my routine – a stroll in Ravenscourt Park. I had almost forgotten that in those early panic days many parks, open spaces and playgrounds were shut down. It was only later that it was recognised how important those out door areas would be for our mental health.

“Just time for a quick rant before I finish. I understand the reasons why Hammersmith & Fulham have closed all the parks but is it really necessary to completely shut the gates. Surely, it would be easy to cordon off children’s play areas, tennis/basketball courts and such but allow space for people to exercise in a responsible socially distanced manner. Like me!

So even though I knew Ravenscourt Park was locked I bought a take away coffee in the hope that I could sit on a bench or walk slowly in the normally empty little jewel that is the garden in Westcott Square. It was not to be. I did chat, properly separated, to a couple of local residents who were taking in the sun on their front door step (because their aforementioned garden was closed) and they assumed the square was shut otherwise the ‘overspill’ from people who could not get into Ravenscourt would come their way.”

Images above: A bacon butty on a bench, but not in Ravenscourt Park

Days 5/6 – Weekend 28/29th

Being the weekend my thoughts turned to the last two weeks of the season that was not to be. As Chairman of Old Isleworthian Rugby Football Club I had been excited as we were expecting to win our Merit Table and were due to play the Vase Final. No such luck as there have been no proper games since. Fortunately, though no more matches were allowed we had done enough to win promotion as champions.

As I write this today we are allowed to resume certain forms of non-contact play again and, indeed, social training is resuming at the Wood Lane Club ground on Wednesday.

Day 7 – 30th

By now I was learning that those plans to use the Lock Down productively were not as they might seem ……

“I now have this blog to keep me active and have commenced a new occupation that will keep me busy for a couple of weeks – organising and archiving all the old family photographs that I brought home when my father died about seven years ago. It is amazing how much stuff you amass over the years. Anecdotally, it appears this is a new global corona isolation induced activity but it does have its dangers. At the best of time nostalgia is a drug and as we sit inaccessible and reclusive it is very easy to sit staring at pictures of old family gatherings, departed loved ones and, in my case, short-trousered, polished-kneed, homeknit-sweatered, heavyleather-booted posed back-garden embarrassments.”

Did I complete that task? You know the answer, don’t you?

I also had my early introduction to the emerging Zoom culture – and its dangers!

“This is genuinely a phenomena that is taking off. Already some of my friends – and not just the younger ones – are becoming booked up for days ahead. “Sorry Dad, I am doing a virtual pub quiz Tuesday, am meeting some old school mates Wednesday and having dinner ………..“! I had done a couple of family meals sharing a screen but being introduced to new Apps like Zoom is quite an adventure. In fact, so much of an adventure that some of us got over excited. Yes, that is a bottle of gin you can see on my bar and, yes, it did seem to go down rather well. So much so that the next morning I did ponder that the symptoms of a hangover are not that dissimilar to Corona Virus – though clearly, much shorter lived. Cheers!”

Day 8 – 31st

Wandering in different directions each day tended to focus on the reward of a sausage roll or bacon butty. However, the new rules created new obstacles to the enjoyment of my daily treat …..

“It was blooming cold yesterday and I really felt it after being cosied up in my flat the entire weekend. Nevertheless I was determined to get some exercise and, in any case, I wanted to check out Plum Duff Café at the top of The Avenue. So, as there are no longer tables and chairs outside and we are not supposed to be sitting down on benches I had planned to eat my butty and drink my coffee on the go.

This already proving logistically more difficult than I expected, probably because I also now had a bag of shopping and I am not a wonderful juggler, then it started to rain. And I mean that steely cold, penetrating type. This was not the sandwich experience I was planning until I fled to a bus stop, put my shopping on the weird half seat/half rail thing that many bus stops have these days and gave my brunch the attention it deserved.”

Transport workers were very much in the front line in those early days with a much higher percentage of cases than other jobs until bus companies introduced safeguards.

“The bus that plies The Avenue from the High Road is the E3 and I noted that there did seem to be one every 5 minutes or so and they all seemed to have just two passengers on. I am fortunate that I walk for my joint exercise and shopping excursions but once again, a big thanks to London Transport and allied staff for keeping services open for those that need them.”

On Day 9

I must have thought better of writing on April Fools day!

Day 10 – 2nd of April

Taking a stroll up the gentrified Devonshire Road I mused how in my youth, this was a far from the ‘posh’ area it has become.

“The inhabitants of that part of Chiswick were far from the high-income owners of today…..By the time I used to catch the bus from Hounslow to meet (my friends) in the ‘Packhorse’ or the ‘Packhorse and Talbot’ my memory of Chiswick High Road was of greasy kebab shops. No organic, free trade products in sight. Not that we came this way very often for fear of the ‘Devonshire Road boys’. My usual hang out was the bowling alley in Hounslow close to The Bell Inn. ….. In those days the old Hounslow Town Hall (I don’t believe the building still exists) was the place to go for the ‘Saturday Dance’.

I certainly remember seeing Simon Dupree and the Big Sounds play there and still have the 45-rpm single “Kites” that I must have bought at the time. However, the evening I do remember, for all the wrong reasons was when the singer and Children’s TV presenter ‘Ayesha’ came to play. It turns out a number of ‘The Devonshire Road” had infiltrated (everything was highly territorial) and a skirmish broke out. One of ‘The Hounslow’ was hit over the head with a fire bucket and the skirmish turned into full-on mayhem. I managed to squeeze out and I remember the fighting carrying on into the street.”

So who does remember Ayesha? Well, though she was born in Highgate I found out writing this that she went to Arts Ed School, so can almost be called a local girl. Her first single came out in 1965 when she was just sixteen so a couple of years later when performing at the Hounslow Town Hall gig/punch up she was probably a bit shocked at the way it came to a premature end. I was also a bit shocked to read she was then romantically linked to half the UK music scene including Steve Winwood, Chas Chandler and Rod Stewart (according to Wikipedia) and married Cat Stevens’ producer Chris Brough.

It was as Ayesha Brough she presented the children’s programme “Lift Off’ – sometimes with ‘Ollie Beak”! So here is a sneak view of her, no punch ups or talking owls visible, but as her music guests include Bay City Rollers there is plenty of tartan on view. Trust me, this is the only time I will ever, ever, be guilty of including ‘The Rollers’ on this blog again.

 

Read more blogs by Keith

Read the next in the series – My Corona – Forget 1984 – 2024 is coming

Read the previous one – My Corona – #proudofourkids

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.

 

Treasure trail around Chiswick’s ‘pocket’ gardens

Image above: Abundance London mini meadow at Turnham Green Terrace; photograph Barbara Chandler

Chiswick is full of flowers, not just in private gardens and public parks but on odd little scraps of land such as beside the railway line, at the side of the road in the curve of the bridge on Sutton Court Rd, or outside the Town Hall.

If you’ve noticed them at all, you may just have assumed they’re cared for by the council, but actually they are the product of careful tending by environmental not-for-profit Abundance London and their volunteers.

Abundance London has been creating little gardens around Chiswick for the past decade. Small corners that fell through the cracks which had become areas for fly-tipping and rubbish collection have now become small ‘pocket’ parks.

Images above: Abundance London flowers; photographs Barbara Chandler

Treasure Trail

As an activity for children (or anyone else for that matter) they’ve put together a map of twelve sites they look after to make children aware that the urban environment is not just ‘there’, it needs to be cared for.

Follow the Treasure Trail around Chiswick, stamp the orienteering punch you will find in each garden in the correct square on the map. Each month Abundance gardeners will draw winners from the entries, who will receive gardening vouchers to spend at your local garden stores.

Image above: One side of the pocket gardens treasure trail map

How to get a map

Download to print out here: Chiswick pocket gardens treasure trail map

Or pick up a map from: Chateau (213 Chiswick High Road W4 2DW), Postmark Cafe (2 Bedford Corner, South Parade, W4 1LD) or Sabel Pharmacy (446 Chiswick High Road W4 5TT).

Urban Planters, a wonderful local company that design, source, install and maintain indoor and outdoor plants, has generously sponsored this competition, so Abundance can offer voucher prizes to those completing their Treasure Trails.

Rules

One entry per person. Please leave the punches in position. If a punch is missing, please email them on info@abundancelondon.

To send in your completed Treasure Trails: Either scan and email (make sure the punch holes show, you might need to add a black dot on each hole), along with a photo of yourself at one of the gardens. Or drop completed maps to one of the pickup points. Make sure to include your contact details.

Treasure trail available from 29 March 2021. Read more about the treasure trail and the other work Abundance London does on their website.

abundancelondon.com

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Seal signs – Freddie’s legacy?

See also: New sport Airball launched in 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.

Mayoral candidates pledge mobile data rollout on Tube

London’s leading Mayoral candidates have come out in favour of 4G mobile phone coverage on the city’s Tube lines.

Incumbent Mayor, Labour’s Sadiq Khan pledged the rollout of 4G mobile phone coverage across all Tube stations and tunnels if re-elected on 6 May.

Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey matched the pledge and pointed out that the Mayor had already pledged this in August 2017 (to have been completed by 2019). At the moment, only one portion of the Jubilee Line has mobile data coverage. The connectivity on the Jubilee Line between Westminster and Canning Town was introduced as a pilot.

Entire Tube network to be covered “by mid 2020s”

Mayor Khan said:

“It has long been clear that poor mobile connectivity is a major barrier to growth.

“The expansion of 4G on the tube and 5G city-wide will enable Londoners to do everything from preparing pitches and applying for jobs to catching up on emails on the go.

“I will ensure that all Londoners can benefit from the vast opportunities improved digital infrastructure can provide.”

The mayor said that if re-elected on 6 May, he would authorise TfL to award a contract for the expansion of 4G coverage across the entire Tube network later this year.

Following the start of the trial last year, TfL said that the entire Tube network could potentially have mobile connectivity by “the mid-2020s”.

Mayor has “made a mess” of TfL’s finances

shaun baileyShaun. Bailey told City A.M:

“Because he made a mess of TfL’s finances, Sadiq Khan hasn’t been able to invest in TfL’s future.

“So as mayor, I’ll set up a London Infrastructure Bank to fund long-term projects and investment — including 4G on the tube network.

“And I’ll introduce corporate sponsorship to the tube, just like Santander sponsor our bike-hire scheme.”

The Mayor of London election is set to take place on 6 May, with Khan the overwhelming favourite. Current polling suggests he will win a landslide victory.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: The roadmap out of lockdown 2021

See also: LB Hounslow criticised in parent’s battle for education for her autistic son

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Seal signs proposal

Image above: Freddie; photograph Mary Tester

The story of Freddie, the popular seal which was mauled by a dog near Hammersmith Bridge and had to be put down because of the severity of his injuries, was reported as widely as the US and Israel.

Local people in Chiswick who are actively involved with life on the river have formed a group to try and capitalise on the publicity to improve the lot of seals in the River Thames. Environmental activist Paul Hyman, who runs paddleboarding company Active 360 from premises at Kew Bridge, has got together with Mary Tester, the local volunteer representing the British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR), marine scientist Wanda Bodnar, lobbyist Felicity Burch and film director Patrick Schulenberg, who lives on a houseboat.

As river users, they know where seals like to haul out of the river and the BDMLR, which has recently been given £10,000 as a result of fundraising following the attack on Freddie, is willing to spend some of that money on creating signs along the river bank warning the public about where the seals are likely to be.

Image: Seal on a paddle board; photograph Active 360

Seal watch

There are now thought to be nearly 4,000 seals in the River Thames, so this is unlikely to be the only encounter between a seal and a dog unless owners know where to expect them to be and when to keep their dog on a lead.

As the River Thames has got cleaner in recent years, there are more fish, which has attracted seals. Harbour seals, grey seals and harbour seals have been spotted, as well as porpoises. The Zoological Society London, who make regular surveys, reckon there are now more than 3,500 seals in the Thames. Mostly they are in the estuary, where harbour seals have established a breeding colony. In their last survey they counted 138 pups.

Few make it this far up the river, but they have gone as far up as Teddington in search of eels and flatfish, flounder, bass, and grey mullet. Paul Hyman has given The Chiswick Calendar several photographs of seals who’ve hopped up on paddleboards while they’ve been out on the water. He thought they were just being playful and friendly.

Marine scientist Wanda Bodnar, who works for the Thames Estuary Partnership, tells us as the water gets cleaner with the introduction of the Tideway Tunnel in 2024 we can expect more encouters with seals, especially in the spring. She is also a paddle boarder and takes a more scientific approach to close-up encounters. She thinks it’s more likely that they simply confuse rowing boats, kayaks and paddleboards with a natural floating object or with a protruding patch of sandbank to haul onto to rest and dry their fur.

Image: Freddie; photograph Nick Raikes

Seals moult in spring and during process, as they lose their coat they spend more time out of the water, hauled out on sandbanks or on the foreshore, which helps them can help them conserve heat and stay warm. That’s also why they adopt their signature banana shaped pose, whre they lift their head and flippers off the ground to avoid getting cold.

“In most cases, when hauled out, they are simply getting warm or resting while digesting their food, thus it is best to leave them undisturbed. In fact, the best way to enjoy their company is to keep them completely unaware of human presence” says Wanda.

The trouble is, the places which have easy access where they haul out are also the places humans are most likely to have access to the river. The group have formed ‘Seal Watch’. which Mary says is “to better log seal sightings and behaviours, increase public awareness and aid in crisis prevention”.

Image above: Freddie; photograph Mary Tester

Seal signs

The British Divers Marine Life Rescue has agreed to fund signage along the river bank telling the public where seals are likely to be. Initially along the riverbank in Chiswick, “ideally this team would grow so that territories from Hammersmith to Brentford would be covered” says Mary.

It should be obvious to all not to touch, feed or chase them. They also don’t like loud noises. The advice from wildlife experts is to keep at least 50 metres away from them.

It will now be obvious to dog walkers, if it wasn’t before, that dogs should be kept on a lead near seals. What is less obvious at the moment is where you might expect to see them, so the Seal Watch group hope signs will help remind the public, particularly dog walkers, of where they are likely to be.

Images above: Freddie; photograph Mary Tester

The BDMLR is looking for volunteers, particularly vets and vetinerary nurses or anyone who is experienced in wildlife rescues. Contact Mary at sealwatch.mary@gmail.com is you can help. Mary is herself a vetinerary nurse and has worked at a marine mammal care centre near Los Angeles.

Recording seals you see by photographing them for the Zoological Society London is also useful (though they probably have thousands of pictures of Freddie by now!) There is a dedicated website for seal sightings, which helps them keep track.

If you see a seal or other marine mammal injured or in distress, call the British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 01825 765546.

If you see a dead marine animal, call the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme on 0800 652 0333. There was a dead seal at Strand on the Green just recently.

For more information about seals in the River Thames these links are useful:

Image above: Freddie; photograph Mary Tester

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: ‘Freddie’ the seal attacked by dog near Hammersmith Bridge

See also: RIP Freddie – a short but adventurous life

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.

 

 

New sport Airball launched in Chiswick

The sports clubs have reopened and what better week to launch a new sport. ‘Airball’ is a cross between football and tennis – that is, tennis played on a tennis court and using tennis rules, but instead of using a racket or your hands, all you use is your feet and your head, like football.

My first question – the obvious question, it seems to me, is why? Don’t we have enough sports already?

Apparently not. Rebekah Wiltshire, who plays foorball for Brentford FC’s Women’s first team, says it’s more fun, more social and a good fitness workout, so good for training. Professional players use it to develop reaction time, control, touch and general fitness.

Images above: Rebekah Wiltshire, playing for Brentford FC

You’d get a lot more contact time with the ball than you would hanging about on a football pitch hoping someone passes the ball to you. It’s also easier to get a team together – like tennis, you play either singles or doubles – and because it relies on skill rather than strength and is not a contact game, it can be played with any combination of men and women.

The first Airball tournament is being held on Easter Saturday at the tennis courts at Gunnersbury Park. The organisers have four teams booked to take part and could take a couple more, if you are interested in giving it a go. As it’s in the open air, outside, they are also welcoming spectators, if you’d like to just see what it’s like.

After this trial tournament there will be more to come. The organisers PlayAirball.com are planning that this trial tournament will be lead to major regional tournaments and league competitions in the future.

Image above: Rebekah serving 

See details of how to get involved on the Play Airball website. To take part in this one, email the organisers at customerhelp@playairball.com to register. You don’t need previous experience, though you do have to be 15 or over and be able to kick a ball over the net and get it to go roughly where you want it to go. It’s a free tournament. There is no entry fee but there is a cash prize of £150 for the winners.

playairball.com

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: The roadmap out of lockdown 2021

See also: A year of pandemic – how has Chiswick fared?

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.

Sports clubs busy on first day open

Images above: padel tennis and Friday Night Fives at Rocks Lane sports centre

Sports clubs in Chiswick were busy on their first day open for outside sports.

Rocks Lane

Rocks Lane sports club sounded manic when we called. They offer football, tennis and netball for children and young people at their site off Turnham Green Terrace. Rocks Lane has seven multi-use floodlit courts for tennis, five-a-side netball and jockey to be played all year round. It also has ten pitches, including an all weather pitch. They’re recently celebrated their 15th birthday in Chiswick.

Outside sport is what they mainly do. Everything they used to do is now back up and running, with the exception of their indoor soft play area. Friday Night Fives is where Chiswick’s kids go to play football on a Friday night. Kick off between 4.10pm and 8.10om. Padel tennis is also very popular.

rockslane.co.uk/chiswick

Images above: Tennis, gym and fitness activities at the Hogarth Club.

Hogarth Club

The Hogarth Club has gone through several reincarnations during the past year, investing in outside facilities so they can do outside a lot of what they normally do inside. They are open for outdoor tennis and fitness classes, including HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and Body Pump.

They’ve also removed the tables and chairs from the outside pods and filled them with gym equipment, so you can use a cross trainer, rowing machine, running machine and bikes outside in your own secluded pod and you can also do weight training.

Images above: Outside gym facilities at the Hogarth Club

The Hogarth Club are members of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme and offer Club Card holders an exclusive membership package.

thehogarth.co.uk

Dukes Meadows

At Dukes Meadows golfing bookings opened on Saturday 27 March. Both the driving range and the outdoor tennis courts are open. Book tee times and tennis sessions two days in advance. Their Easter camps for children are already fully booked.

dukesmeadows.com

Images above: Paddleboarders on the Thames

Active 360

Paddleboarders were back on the River Thames on Monday as well. Paddle boarding is by definition socially distanced, but Active 360, which runs the paddleboarding company at Kew Bridge, is limiting groups to five plus the coach. They hire out wetsuits and hose them down between sessions anyway, so they are able to provide them, but the weather is almost good enough not to need them.

active360.co.uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: The roadmap out of lockdown 2021

See also: Calling all would-be fashion designers

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

April 2021 books

Man in the Middle – Chapter 63: The scent of despair

A middle aged man realises his elderly mother can no longer cope alone, so she moves in with them. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intact?

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

No.63: The scent of despair

Our car is as ancient as a Viking long ship and as glamorous as a discount warehouse baked bean can. Something inside the old jalopy smells bad, like sweaty moss or mushrooms, but it’s not so bad that you want to puke and with the windows open it’s bearable over short distances.

However, I’m driving to Mother’s nursing home, which may be too far away to survive the smell, even with the windows open. It may be time to purge the pong.

‘What’s that smell in the car?’ I ask.

‘Eau de Despair. The scent of Boomer dreams rotting,’ says my son.

I turn to my wife hoping for a sensible answer.

‘When did we last clean the car?’

‘2004.’

‘But we only bought it four years ago.’

‘Oh, sorry. When you said ‘we’ I thought you meant ‘you’. The last time ‘you’ cleaned a car was March 12, 2004. It was my birthday and you cleaned it because you had forgotten to buy me a birthday present and hoped that by cleaning up the car, I would forgive you for not buying me a birthday present.’

‘Did it work?’

My son watches my wife carefully.

‘I’m still here, I guess,’ she eventually replies.

He’s not old enough to remember what happened in 2004, but he’s assessing the value of this new fragment of his parent’s past, like an archaeologist studying a new hieroglyphic in an alphabet he doesn’t yet fully understand.

This is a moment when I can shape how he sees me forever. I just need to decide what I want him to remember. A caring, car cleaning husband or a ‘Chore Coward’?

I have a sudden vision of the future. I’m dead and hovering on the sitting room ceiling, looking down on my grandchildren, who are weeping at my wife’s feet. They’re asking: ‘Grandma, did Grandpa know how to jump start a motor? Or what the colours of the wires in a plug stand for?’

Her answer is devastating. Frankly, my dears, he never gave a damn, she says and starts singing the Temptations hit ‘Papa was a Rolling Stone’ only she’s changed the lyrics to ‘Papa, never cleaned the home.’

I’m shaken out of my reverie. If I am to rescue myself from going down as a ‘Chore Coward’, I must stride outside immediately and clean the car. But, instead, the thought of cleaning the car fills me with such boredom that, instead, I offer my son ten quid to do it for me.

‘No, you do it,’ he says. ‘It’s good for old people of your age to try new things, it’ll help keep you mentally agile.

‘Oh, for God’s sake,’ says my wife.

She pulls a red bucket out from under the sink and waves it at me.

‘This is called a bucket. Fill it with hot water and soap.’

‘Then, dip one of these into it and rub it slowly over the car,’ says my son, holding out a cloth to me.

After an hour’s cleaning, the car is presentable and I’ve made friends with three men in the street with whom I’ve never spoken before. (In fact, i didn’t even know they lived in the street). They drifted over to chat, while I was cleaning the car, and talked to me about car waxes and something called a chamois leather, which I plan to look up when I come back from seeing Mother. Car cleaning is like a Masonic signal to some men.

At the nursing home, I slip into a pair of plastic gloves and a thin strip of PPE barely big enough to wrap around a lamb chop, but which is meant to cover my body. I look like a sumo wrestler heading for the buffet bar with a bib fit for a child.

Mother is sitting in the window holding a book up to her face sitting. She’s dressed in a green velvet jacket and a blouse. She’s wearing a mid-length black skirt and has gold earrings on. But she’s shoeless and wearing red and white striped woollen socks.

‘My feet are swollen,’ she says, seeing where my gaze has gone. Then she quickly asks: ‘How are the kiddie winks?’

I am allowed only twenty minutes with her, so I rattle off what’s been happening to the family like a Town Cryer on amphetamines. I’m not sure how much she hears or takes in, but she stares at me intently, as I speak.

‘What about you?’ I ask.

‘We have our moments,’ she says.

Then, like a burst pipe, Mother talks non-stop for ten minutes.

She tells me about a male resident who complains every breakfast about the porridge (though it’s fine) and how the builders redecorating the residents’ sitting room curse all day long.

‘They think we’re stone deaf and can’t her them,’ she laughs.

She tells me about the nurse who fixed her broken spectacles after finding them under her bed and how she wants to meet her new bank manager, which strikes me as quaint and old fashioned as driving gloves and as pointless.

Her voice is as strong and clear as a woman 20 years younger than her. But her stories are not as coherent as they were before her falls. Past and present overlap, characters drop in and out of the plot randomly, and words occasionally evade her. Sometimes, it’s like listening to a glorious free form poet, at other times, it’s like watching a drunk driver swerving across a motorway. But it could be so much worse.

Suddenly, she stops and says: ‘I haven’t been out in a year.’

I wonder if this is an accusation against me.

‘It’s because of Covid. We’re all in the same boat,’ I say.

Immediately, I regret saying it. The idea she and I are in the same boat is cack handed and almost offensive.

There is a knock on her door.

‘Time’s up,’ says a carer.

‘I’m sorry. I have to go now, mum.’

She gets up to say goodbye. The carer and I watch her winch herself up from her chair. I can’t remember if the rules allow me to kiss her. I decide not. I should hug her, but if I am clumsy, I could knock her down. I feel awkward.

I put my arms around her shoulders and embrace her slowly. It feels like I’m squeezing air from a feather pillow. She’s shrunk so much and her body seems to be buried deep beneath her clothes. It takes an age before my arms come up against flesh and bones.

‘Bye Mum,’ I whisper into the top of her head, which I’ve unwittingly drawn forward onto my chest with my embrace.

‘Off you go now,’ she says, breaking away. ‘You’ve got lots to be getting on with.’

In the car park, the car coughs into life. Two birds have shat on the car bonnet and a branch has fallen into the trench where the windscreen washers rest. I start to get out of the car to clear it all up. Then I think ‘fuck it’, I’ll up the offer to my son when I get home or sort it out myself in a few years.

Read more blogs by James Thellusson

Read the next one – Man in the Middle Chapter 64: Should men wear Alice bands?

Read the previous one – Man in the Middle Chapter 62: Melvin Bragg is in my bathroom

See all James’s Man in the Middle blogs here

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Episode 48: The man who discovered Eoin Morgan (and other stories)

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.

Over twenty years ago an expert watcher predicted that a boy called Eoin Morgan would make his name in world cricket. These and other wonders of Ireland’s rich cricket story are related by author, cricketer, lawyer and all-round man of letters Charles Lysaght, returning by popular demand as guest on the latest cricket-themed podcast by Peter Oborne and Richard Heller.


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Charles downplays with respectful disbelief a new theory that cricket actually has its origins in Ireland, in a local stick-and-ball game called cattie. He notes that no cricket terms have been rendered into Gaelic, with the possible exception of “ciotóg”, a general word for left-hander. Ireland has produced a higher proportion of left-handed batsmen than other countries, which he suggests might reflect the cross-over grip used by right-handers to make shots in hurling.

Charles traces the many links between Irish and Scottish cricket, beginning with the future Duke of Richmond, an early patron of both, who bowled out the future Duke of Wellington (history does not record whether they used a Dukes cricket ball), and continuing with the much-travelled mid-Victorian figure of Charles Lawrence. He took an Irish team to England in 1858 which gained a stunning victory against the MCC.

Charles takes forward the story of Irish cricket before and after Independence, and notes where and with whom it was strongest. Like most sports in Ireland other than association football it remained unified. Apart from one serious incident, cricket was not affected by Ireland’s civil wars. He notes that the revolutionary and IRA chief of staff Cathal Brugha had been a fine cricketer for the Pembroke Club in Dublin under his birth name of Charlie Burgess.

Charles says that the MCC maintained a strong relationship with Irish cricket before and after Independence and there were frequent cricket exchanges between England and Ireland by good players (including Samuel Beckett). However, for many decades Irish-born cricketers did not have much presence in the England team or with English counties. This changed sharply with the big improvement in Irish cricket from the 1990s.  An exodus of Irish cricketers to England has been checked by the arrival of Test and first-class cricket in Ireland, with central contracts for some players. He analyses the economic, social and cricketing factors behind the uplift in Irish cricket, particularly the influence of overseas players and coaches. He tells the vivid story of the discovery of Eoin Morgan, a boy prodigy from the small community of Rush, at around age 11 by the notable Irish wicketkeeper (and many other things), Lingard Goulding.

He picks out highlights from the history of women’s cricket in Ireland, including a major contribution by the sisters of Ed Joyce of Middlesex.

Sporting its magnificent multi-coloured blazer, Charles tells the history of the celebrated Leprechauns cricket club, of which he became President. Its founder, the enigmatic Ted Bowlby, had a fascinating serial life which might have been a subject for a Graham Greene novel. He narrowly escaped prosecution for wartime treachery (with Lord Haw-Haw he broadcast for Hitler) through his Irish and was able to reinvent himself in Ireland as Charles Salvin Bowlby, schoolmaster and cricket loving Anglophile.

He describes his own experience of playing cricket in Ireland and at Cambridge in the 1950s and early 1960s – including an unusual “mutual assistance pact” with Mike Brearley, then Cambridge University captain.

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 Please remember that players cannot appear twice in the Wisden Five, to avoid wasting a nomination!

Listen to more episodes of Oborne & Heller

Previous Episode – Episode 47: The great Pakistani fast bowler who nearly became a Hollywood movie star

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

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See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

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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.

LB Hounslow’s planners give green light to new Chiswick Health Centre

Image above: Planned new Chiswick Health Centre building

The plans for the development of Chiswick Health Centre are due to be discussed by LB Hounslow’s Planning Committee on Wednesday 31 March, with Council planning officers recommending the development goes ahead.

The planning application before the committee seeks permission to demolish the existing building and to erect of a new health centre along with 55 residential units, ‘all of which would be affordable and social rented.’

The proposed building would range between four and six storeys in height.

Image above: Chiswick Health Centre as it is currently

Current health centre “way past its sell-by date”

The development would deliver a new health centre with increased capacity. North West London Clinical Commissioning Group, which covers the Chiswick area, say Chiswick Health Centre does not meet the relevant standards for health care and patients are not receiving the level of care expected.

The proposal seeks to redevelop the site to provide ‘a modern, fit for purpose Health Centre to replace the existing Chiswick Health Centre, with a modernised facility which would accommodate an increased range of services within the community’.

Robert Flann, Pratice Manager at the Chiswick Health Practice, one of several  surgeries at the centre, told The Chiswick Calendar in October 2019 that the short term upset entailed in the building work and relocating patients would be worth the long term gain. The population is growing and it is also ageing.

“The building is way past its sell-by date and once we have a brand new building we will be able to offer our patients a better service”.

Attention then was focused on how far patients would have to travel to see a doctor while the work was going on. Since then has become less of an issue, as we’ve all become used to patient consultations by phone.

Hounslow Clinical Commissioning Group is reliant on a developer for the capital to carry out the redevelopment of the medical centre.

The 55 dwellings would all be affordable housing (100%) and would be let at Council rent levels. The proposal seeks a mix of one, two and three bed units, of which 10% are to be wheelchair accessible. The developer is proposing a  fifth floor garden terrace and a landscaped central courtyard at the first floor to provide shared amenity spaces.

Planners consider development plans ‘appropriate’

The Council has carried out a process of consultation with residents over the past year. The Council directly notified 767 neighbouring residents and business and received 39 responses.

Among the objections were concerns about alternative provision while the building work was carried out, the overall size of the building dominating the area and overlooking surrounding residential properties, the lack of disabled car parking and inappropriate provision for ambulance drop-off. Also the loss of car parking spaces for residents of Arnott Close and lack of car parking for the new health centre.

The proposal seeks the provision of eight parking spaces for staff including one disabled space and 18 long stay cycle spaces for the 68 (full time) employees of the new facility. The residential element of the development would be car-free, but there would be three disabled parking bays located on the northern side of Dolman Road.

Although the proposal would result in the removal of eight trees, a total of twelve trees would be replanted.

Hounslow’s planning officers are recommending planning permission be granted and planning permission issued on 31 June 2021. Building work would start within three years of that date.

They say: “It is considered that the proposal would be of an appropriate height, scale and design which would contribute positively to the street scene and general townscape without appearing as an unduly prominent or overbearing feature”.

There will be a temporary health centre at Stamford Brook to cater for the  current centre’s 20,000 patients.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Plans for Chiswick Health Centre unveiled

See also: First vaccinations being carried out at Chiswick Health Centre

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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Plans for larger events at Chiswick Business Park have locals worried

Local residents have voiced their concerns at proposals by Chiswick Business Park to start holding larger scale events.

The company which manages the site, Enjoy Work, has put in a planning application to hold events with up to 999 attendees on a regular basis. The application states no more than 12 events per year would exceed 999 persons, with those exceeding 499 attendees requiring a risk assessment and management.

Matt Coulson, CEO of Chiswick Park EnjoyWork, hand-delivered a letter to some addresses in nearby Silver Crescent. The letter indicated the park has applied to vary the licence with events “primarily taking place in their (Guests) lunchtime as well as a few early evenings”. 

The planning application requests a time slot of 12.00pm to 22.00pm Monday to Friday and 10.00am to 14.00pm Saturday to Sunday for the showing of films. Other events, such as plays, live music and dance would be allowed to take place between 12.00pm to 21.00pm Monday to Friday and 10.00am to 14.00pm Saturday to Sunday. The sale of alcohol would be allowed outside in the Events Plaza from 12.00pm to 22.00pm Monday to Sunday.

Image above: Chiswick Business Park; photograph Jennifer Griffiths

Events would constitute ‘a significant noise nuisance’ say locals

Local residents group the West Chiswick an Gunnersbury Society, say there is ‘a serious mismatch’ between the reassuring tone of the letter and the proposals outlined in the application.

The current licence permits plays, films, performance of dance, live music, recorded music and anything of a similar nature on Fridays from 10.00 to 16.00 and live and recorded music or anything of a similar nature on Sundays from 10.00 to 16.00 – limited to no more than one Sunday in any one calendar year. Capacity for any event is set at 500.

The West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Society asks:

‘Is the Chiswick Business Park suffering from an identity crisis? It does not seem to know whether it is a business park, a spectator car park or an event venue.’

‘The Society is raising this matter because, when events are held on the plaza, especially those involving activities with amplified sound, they can be heard within properties in the neighbouring residential streets at a level which constitutes a significant noise nuisance.

‘The possibility of these events happening over extended hours on any day of the week or weekend is therefore of great concern, as is the increase in capacity. We would encourage local residents to submit comments to the Council before the deadline of 13 April 2021.’

The West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Society is encouraging local residents to object and comment on the changes via LB Hounslow’s licensing panel. They have said they are ‘seeking clarification’ from EnjoyWork on the proposals.

Images above: Chiswick Business Park; photograph Jennifer Griffiths

Changes will have a “very low” impact on the local area – EnjoyWork

A spokesperson for Chiswick Park Enjoy Work told The Chiswick Calendar:

‘We have applied to vary our premises license for Chiswick Park. If granted, it will extend the hours for the existing licensable activities including at weekends.

‘We foresee limited use of any extended hours, which will have a very low impact on the activity of the business Campus and the local area. If the application is granted, we will also have numerous new conditions on the premises license to ensure there is no disruption to neighbours.

‘Our annual programme of events will continue to support the wellbeing and engagement of our Guests primarily taking place in their lunchtime as well as few early evenings. We will also continue to welcome the local community to join our key events while providing a safe environment for everyone to enjoy.’

If you would like to view the application or leave a comment, you can click here for the LB Hounslow licensing webpage. The specific application in question can be found here.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: LB Hounslow’s planners give green light to new Chiswick Health Centre

See also: The roadmap out of lockdown 2021

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Calling all would-be fashion designers

Image above: Future Fashion competition

The Westfield Centre in Shepherd’s Bush is holding a fashion design competition, in collaboration with the Royal College of Art.

‘Future Fashion’, is ‘a sustainable fashion competition offering London creatives the chance to showcase their work in an exhibition dedicated to eco-friendly art and design, recognising local talent as well as promoting sustainable consumption’.

Applicants are asked to submit design plans of their proposed works to be assessed by a panel of judges. The judges will select six finalists, awarding them £2,000 to complete their proposed works and offering them an exhibition window spaces at Westfield London to display their work.

The judges are from internationally recognised brands such as John Lewis & Partners, Save Your Wardrobe, Emily Carter London and Love not Landfill as well as the Royal College of Art.

How to enter

Entries to the Future Fashion competition are now open and the deadline to submit applications is 12 April 2021. Email: ukwlcommunity@urw.com

For details of entry requirements: medium, message, format, content, terms and conditions, visit the Westfield London website.

uk.westfield.com

Competition schedule

12 April 2021: Deadline to submit applications.

3 May 2021: 6 finalists announced.

21 July 2021: Deadline for the final commissioned pieces.

August 2021: Exhibition goes live.

Images above: Judges Hasna Kourda, Hannah Carter and Emily Carter

Judges

Harita Shah, Director of Brand, Creative, Media, Comms and Events at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield

Harita has over 20 years of fashion marketing experience and oversees all creative campaigns in Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s 12 markets, working with leading brands and talent.

Hasna Kourda CEO and Co-Founder of Save Your Wardrobe

Hasna Kourda is the CEO and co-founder of Save Your Wardrobe, a digital wardrobe platform that offers users personalised recommendations and connects them with third party service providers.

Emily Carter Director and CEO of Emily Carter London and Emily Carter Studio

Emily Carter is an award-winning British designer, specialising in hand illustrated silk accessories, stationery and furnishings. Each product is intricately illustrated by hand and made in England. Emily is a member of the British Fashion Council having exhibited at London Fashion Week since 2016, and has been featured regularly in publications such as British Vogue and The Financial Times, where her scarves have been worn by icons such as Kate Moss. Her luxury accessories are also stocked internationally in stores such as Selfridges.

Flora McLean Senior Lecturer at The Royal College of Art

Senior Lecturer at the Royal College of Art, Flora McLean also has her own label, House of Flora. Skilled in hat design, making and embellishment, fine art, craft techniques, design and photography, Flora leads the Footwear Accessories Millinery and Eyewear pathway inside MA Fashion at the Royal College of Art.

David Donovan Head of branch, John Lewis White City

David Donavan is Head of Branch at John Lewis White City, the four-floor department store which opened three years ago as the anchor shop of Westfield London’s extension. David joined the John Lewis Partnership 23 years ago in John Lewis Brent Cross.

Hannah Carter Campaign Manager for Love Not Landfill, ReLondon (previously London Waste & Recycling Board)

Hannah joined ReLondon in August 2017 to create and run the Love Not Landfill campaign, which urges people to put clothes they no longer want in a clothes bank, give to charity, swap them and buy second hand.

‘In the UK, 38 million items of new clothing are bought every week and 11 million go to landfill – that needs to change and that change starts with you’.

Image above: Emily Carter silk scarf design – emily-carter.co.uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: ‘Freddie’ the seal attacked by dog near Hammersmith Bridge

See also: RIP Freddie – a short but adventurous life

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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Award winning theatre director Jonathan O’Boyle joins ArtsEd

Image above: The Last Five Years

Award winning theatre director Jonathan O’Boyle is joining ArtsEd as Director of the School of Musical Theatre, from November 2021.

Jonathan won Best Director of a Musical and Best Musical Production at the 2021 Off West End Awards for his production of The Last Five Years (Southwark Playhouse).

“The Last Five Years was one of the only bits of joy in 2020 for me, in what was for most of us a particularly dark, tough and challenging year” he said when he received the award.

Looking forward to a better year in 2021, he said:

“I am truly thrilled to be joining the ArtsEd family as the Director of the School of Musical Theatre. As one of the leading drama schools in the country, with the UK’s premier training course in Musical Theatre, ArtsEd is firmly at the top of its game. I have always had the most joyous time working with the students at ArtsEd, and I can’t wait to continue that work and shape the future of the course.

“We are entering a challenging time in the arts sector. As we begin the road to recovery after the devastation of COVID-19, drama training will continue to evolve and change with the times. I am looking forward to that challenge, being at the centre of a school that strives for excellence.”

He has already directed a production with Arts Ed students. He directed Nice Work If You Can Get It in 2019.

Under normal, non Covid, conditions, tickets to ArtsEd productions are available to the public as well as ArtsEd students’ freinds and families. When the school reopens to the public later this year it will be unveiling the new theatre facilities which are part of the major reconstruciton of the building which has been going on over the past year.

When he take s up his post, Jonathan will be directing a production of The Wedding Singer.

Image above: Hair

Jonathan’s extensive CV includes directing credits for Bill Kenwright (Cruel Intentions, Rain Man), This House, for Headlong and National Theatre, and a series of plays at Trafalgar Theatre; BASH, Rasheeda Speaking, and A Guide for the Homesick. He directed The View Upstairs (Soho Theatre) and for Southwark Playhouse, Pippin, and Aspects of Love. In 2019 he directed Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella at Cadogan Hall.

His 2017 production of Hair (UK Tour/The Vaults/Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester) won Best Off West End Production at the WhatsOnStage Awards and will continue to tour internationally when theatres reopen.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: ArtsEd receive £250,000 from theatre producer David Ian

See also: David Tennant wins Best Actor in Broadcasting Press Guild Awards 2021

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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Education system “simply isn’t working” for autistic children

Image above: Tim Nicholls, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the National Autistic Society

The current education system “simply isn’t working” for many autistic children, according to the National Autistic Society.

Tim Nicholls, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the National Autistic Society, talked to The Chisiwick Calendar after the Local Government Ombudsman upheld a complaint against LB Hounslow for failing to provide education to an autistic child for a year after his mother said she was no longer home schooling him.

In the report by the Ombudsman for social care, it was revealed that not only were the local mainstream schools unable to met the child’s needs, but of the two special schools contacted by the Council, one couldn’t offer the right support. The other had a waiting list of 75 before he was added to the list. The Council then took a further six months to organise tuition at home.

Tim said the complaint raised in Hounslow is not an isolated case, and is indicative of a national trend which sees those who have special educational needs regularly slipping through the safety net.

Tim told The Chiswick Calendar:

“The education system simply isn’t working for many autistic children and young people in England. Up to four in ten parents are being turned away when they first ask for an assessment of their children’s needs. 70% tell us they had to wait six months for support, and 50% waited for more than a year.

“Families can often only get the support their children need through expensive and stressful legal action. This is unacceptable.

“The Government is set to publish a new autism strategy in the coming months that will include children for the first time, as well as a review into the whole SEND system (Special Educational Needs and Disability). This must be a priority for ministers and lead to far-reaching change. Otherwise, autistic children will continue to be held back.”

What is the SEND system?

The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities system is meant to support children and young people, aged 0-25, with additional needs throughout their education.

Children and young people who require special educational needs are entitled to extra support by law. This includes anything from more accessible information, to one-on-one support at a school or college.

Every local authority must identify which children and young people have special educational needs or disabilities, so that it can plan how it will go about meeting their needs.

Children and young people with special educational needs will be identified in many different ways. Some may have their needs identified by a health worker or a paediatrician in their early life, or some later in their lives such as when they enter a certain stage of education.

In all situations, the families of children under the age of 16 must be told about their child’s needs, and families of young people over the age of 16 should ordinarily be involved in this process as well.

Local provision

Local authorities are required to publish information about provisions they expect to be available in their area for children and young people with special educational needs, which known as ‘The Local Offer’. Local Offer websites aim to help parents/ guardians understand what is available to them as well as how to access services and support.

Hounslow’s Local Offer is available here. The website has an interactive map which lists all of the special educational needs providers in Hounslow, as well as surrounding boroughs. There’s also a similar map which finds local activities for children, young people and families with special educational needs and disabilities.

LB Ealing’s Local Offer page, found herehas a number of different tabs which link to topics including but not limited to: healthcare plans, support in education, parenting support, benefits, housing adaptations, transport assistance as well as things to do locally. You can also subscribe to a newsletter and speak to SEND officer online for additional help.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: LB Hounslow criticised in parent’s battle for education for her autistic son

See also: Acton woman convicted of killing of her son

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

LB Hounslow criticised in parent’s battle for education for her autistic son

Local Government Ombudsman for social care upholds complaint

The Local Government Ombudsman has upheld a complaint against LB Hounslow for failing to provide education to an autistic child for a year after his mother said she was no longer home schooling him.

The Ombudsman who looks at social care cases said the Council was at fault for delays in reviewing the child’s Education, Health and Care plan and for failing to provide alternative education to him while he was out of school.

‘This meant he was without suitable education for a year and caused the complainant unnecessary stress, time and trouble’.

‘No evidence’ the Council contacted mainstream schools

The child, referred to as ‘Y’ in the Ombudsman’s report, was diagnosed with autism in May 2019. His mother had contacted the Council in January to say she no longer wanted to home school him. The Council offered to contact three mainstream schools to see if they would accept her son. She said one was unsuitable, she had contacted another and the last was full.

The Ombudsman’s report says:

‘The Council discussed amending Y’s Education, Health and Care plan to name a mainstream school and said Mrs X should choose her preferred one. The Council did not amend the plan or carry out an early review or re-assessment. There is no evidence it contacted the mainstream schools to find out if they could accept Y’.

Special schools either not suitable or had a huge waiting list

When he was diagnosed with autism, they contacted a special school but they did not review Y’s Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan based on the new diagnosis. The special school said it could not offer the provision set out in his care plan and the support he needed was greater and different to the kind it could provide.

The Council then contacted a second special school. The Ombudsman’s report says:

‘The Council has not provided evidence of when it contacted School B, but a SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) panel held in late July noted the Council should chase the school for a response.

Requests for home tuition ignored for six months

‘In early August 2019, Mrs X contacted the Council to ask what other schools could accept Y and also asked if any home tuition services were available. The Council did not respond. She continued to chase it in late August and September. The Council responded in late September to say it had not had a response from School B yet.

‘Y’s EHC plan was due for review in October 2019. Mrs X contacted the Council in late October as it had not arranged the review. The Council responded in early November to say Y was on its annual review list. The Council chased School B for a response in early December. The School replied to say Y was 76th on the waiting list for a place’.

The Council held its annual review in mid-December. It issued the draft amended EHC plan in early January. The plan still recorded Y as being electively home educated. It wasn’t until late January 2020 that the Council began providing Y with ten hours of tutoring per week.

Council admits failures

The Council told the Local Government Ombudsman for social care it thought it issued the final plan in late January 2020 but had not.

‘It said the mistake was due to a high turnover of staff in the department. At the time of this decision, (1 February 2021) it has not yet issued the final EHC plan’.

In its response to Mrs X’s complaint in December 2019, the Council accepted it should have been treating Y as out of school from early 2019. In a later complaint response, it recognised Y’s annual review was late. It said it made improvements to its systems to prevent the issue happening again and had carried out staff training.

The Ombudsman recommended the Council made a payment ‘to Mrs X and to Y’ and makes service improvements to prevent the fault occurring again.

Steven Forbes, Executive Director of Children’s and Adults Services at LB Hounslow told The Chiswick Calendar:

“The Council accepted the outcome of the investigation by the Ombudsman. We were sorry for the distress this caused and have accepted that the resident had not received a satisfactory service. We apologised to the resident and have made a compensatory payment to remedy the injustice.

“We have taken onboard the recommendations of the Ombudsman and have implemented procedures to monitor consultations as well as updating our procedures to avoid situations like this arising again.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Acton woman convicted of killing of her son

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

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Seal attack dog owner apologises

Image above: Freddie the seal by Hammersmith Bridge

The owner of the dog which attacked Freddie the seal on the riverbank near Hammersmith Bridge on Sunday has apologised ‘unreservedly’.

In an interview with the Evening Standard Rebecca Sabben-Clare QC said she was “heartbroken” that Freddie had to be put down. She said she wanted to “apologise unreservedly” for the “terrible accident” and regretted her dog had not been on a lead.

Freddie, named after singer Freddie Mercury by animal sanctuary staff in the Netherlands, was attacked at 12. 30 on Sunday as the riverbank was full of people out walking. Passers-by jumped in to try and pull the dog off and three of them – a vet, a photographer and an unnamed cyclist – then pinned the seal down, to stop it slipping back into the river badly wounded, until they could get help. Eventually he was transported by LB Firebrigade officers by boat to an animal hospital where he was examined and euthanised because of the severity of his injuries.

Runa Bousquet saw the whole thing and stayed to organise help. She gave her account of what happened to The Chiswick Calendar.

READ ALSO: Freddie the seal attacked by a dog near Hammersmith Bridge

She told us:

“I’d say we were about 500 metres away from the seal and there was a lady up ahead running towards us and her dog was racing towards us and it suddenly shot down the side of the bank – it was a terrier, I think, some kind of terrier.

“It shot down the side of the bank on to the riverbed. It was low tide and she was yelling after the dog”.

On Tuesday Police put out an appeal for witnesses and said they wanted to talk to the owner of the dog. The Daily Mail then identified her, adding ‘The Oxford-educated QC … lives in a £5.8million mansion nearby’.

Social media has been full of criticism of her for not having her dog on a lead.

The Daily Mail reports that she went to the Police, who told her no crime had been committed.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Fundraiser set up after seal attack raises almost £6,000

See also: RIP Freddie – a short but adventurous life

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

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Bus strike cancelled at the last minute

The planned strike by London’s bus drivers has been called off at the last minute, following “significant movement” in negotiations on Tuesday 23 March.

The strikes, over pay and drivers’ working conditions by the French owned bus company RATP and its three subsidiaries (London United, London Sovereign and Quality Line), were due to affect routes in Chiswick and across London.

The trade union Unite said a draft agreement has been produced on proposed changes to workers’ contracts, with negotiations ending on Thursday 25 March.

Since February there have been six strikes, with bus drivers fearing a £2,000 on average cut from their salaries. RATP’s new offer saw over 2,000 drivers work on Wednesday, instead of taking part in strike action.

Unite said a deal is still yet to be made for London Sovereign drivers and if agreements are not found, drivers from London United and London Sovereign could still go on strike on Wednesday, 31 March.

RATP had intended to implement a new clock-in system for drivers, which would have seen them losing their paid breaks, and pay earned whilst waiting for their bus to become available before switching with another driver.

Members ‘prepared to stand up against low pay’ – Unite

Unite regional officer Michelle Braveboy said: “Unite has been clear from the outset that we believed that these disputes could be resolved through negotiations.

“By suspending strike action Unite is allowing further talks to resolve the dispute to take place and for members to vote on an improved pay offer.

“RATP is now realising that our members will not be browbeaten and are prepared to stand up against low pay and attacks on their pay and conditions.”

A statement from RATP said: “In these difficult circumstances, RATP has gone above and beyond what the company can do to make the best possible offer to staff and Unite last week, especially with an exceptional lump sum recognising the efforts of our drivers through the health crisis.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Bus routes facing more disruption from another round of strikes

See also: Seal attack dog owner apologises

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.

Mind Matters – time for a psychological spring clean

Spring cleaning for psychological wellbeing and your relationships

Having marked the first day of spring, with positive news on the vaccine rollout and with COVID restrictions set to ease further on the 29th March, now is an ideal time for a spring clean both in the traditional way but also for psychological wellbeing and our relationships.

Irrespective of how your winter has been the transition into spring is a great time to reflect on where you are with things in life and to come up with some good intentions for the new season. The great thing about a change in the seasons is that we change our behaviours and in doing so we think about new and different things that often shine a light on some things in our lives that are not so great whilst also awakening new possibilities.

Winter is often the season when we are least active and sociable however this winter has of course brought restrictions that most people have never experienced before. Thinking about life can be overwhelming so you might find that a spring tidy up is the perfect way for you to get going in positive ways.

The great thing about a spring clean is that it provides us with a bit of time travel, we constantly move in our thoughts between the present, the past and the future and this helps us to find our way everyday, and it is in this movement of thinking that we also tend to reflect on other aspects of life – our relationships, health, security, interests and spirituality.

For example, having a wardrobe sort out, where you move clothes around triggering memories and thoughts about life is a great way to think about what you would like to be better. This is a particularly good time to put focus on relationships because the transition into spring and the lifting of restrictions is a shared experience, so starting conversations can feel more natural.

That said, starting conversations can often feel daunting and the more daunting the feeling then the greater the likelihood that a conversation might not go according to plan. The reason for this is simple, if we feel nervous about having a conversation then the person who we are speaking to will sense your nervousness – heightened emotions on both sides greatly increases the potential for misunderstandings. Also we tend not to have these types of conversations very often and so for they can naturally feel awkward.

Of course the last year has applied an unprecedented pressure on our lives and this naturally impacts on some if not all of our relationships in different ways and so again this fact can provide a good reason for starting a conversation.

The best way to go about this is to be clear about what you want to happen so that you can start the conversation feeling as relaxed as possible. Then there are some simple rules that can help:

Do:

Start by making a request – for example, “I’d really like us to find a way to spend more time together – can we talk about that?”.

Talk about why it matters to you – for example, “during the winter there were times when I felt distant from you, I missed you and wanted to feel more connected”.

Offer a solution that you think might work for your relationship – for example, “can we find time each weekend to go for a walk?”

Allow the other person time to think about what you has said

Don’t:

Blame the other person – for example, “you have upset me”

Criticise or make judgements – for example – “you aren’t any good talking about things”

Bring up old problems – for example – “you are always late”

Push / apply pressure – for example – “why aren’t you saying anything?”

Nicholas Rose
Psychotherapist, Counsellor, Couples Counsellor and Coach

UKCP registrant, MBACP (accred), UKRCP
PGDip, MA, Adv Dip Ex Psych

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

nicholas-rose.co.uk

Read more blogs by Nicholas Rose

Read the next one – Mind Matters – Fear of Re-entry

Read the previous one – Mind Matters – Looking out for young people

See all Nicholas’s Mind Matters blogs here

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

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My Corona – Deja Vue all over again

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. 

“Looks like nothing’s gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the same, listen…… “

Otis Redding

The Bell Strikes One

So, little did I know exactly a year on since the start of the first Lock Down that I would still be blogging about my Covid experiences.

I posted just about everyday for the first four months, clocking in well over a hundred blogs. As the summer gave us a little respite I reduced that pace somewhat and including my weekly Chiswick Calendar contribution carried on until we find ourselves where we are today.  I expect to be posting until at least 21 June and even then, do we really know what the future holds?

My first Blog, excerpts of which are here, seem more than a little naive today……….

“So, like most of you I am stuck at home – or at least we are supposed to be – since BoJo’s announcement of a semi-lock down yesterday evening………………

I am a social animal so like so many of us – you – it is going to be interesting to see how we cope with social distancing, solitude, maybe loneliness, in emotional, psychological as well as physical terms. My normal day would be to leave the flat, just off Chiswick High Rd, at least twice a day, ostensibly to do daily shopping but inevitably to stop in one of my regular cafés/coffee shops either on my own or to meet up with the many friends that live locally.  In the evening the walk would often end up in my local boozer, The Raven by Stamford Brook tube.  I might take a book and sit quietly on my own to read or I might equally stay at the bar and chat with one of the fellow regulars I have got to know.  Reading quietly alone in my favourite café or pub is still a social activity because I am surrounded, can observe and have the choice to engage with the people around me. Clearly, all that has now changed!  Nevertheless, current guidelines are that we are allowed to walk out for necessary shopping and to take exercise and while that is still possible – because the shops are still open, the regulations still allow it and I am still free of symptoms – I intend to utilize that option – as I did today.

Up until BoJo’s announcement and despite his repeated ‘requests’ and ‘soft warnings’ Chiswick had been recognisable as itself. Clearly quieter than normal with pubs, cafes and restaurants closed for sitting in but mostly offering deliveries and take-aways but nevertheless busy enough to make physical distancing tricky. For example, the queues in some shops were standing a couple of metres apart but others were too crowded or badly organised. Today (Tuesday) I popped out around 1 pm as I wanted to buy bread and post a book…..  There were very few people around, visibly less than the weekend.  The pharmacy where last week I queued for 30 minutes was completely empty. Most non- essential shops were shut and had signs of varying quality and clarity taped to the inside of their doors.  Obviously the many High Road Cafes were shut though some had tables outside selling their wares for carrying away and others had notices on how to order take-aways and whether they did direct deliveries.  There were a few Deliveroo riders lolling around on their bikes in the weak sunshine though I imagine they would be busy later in the evening.  It was a somehow ‘discombobulating’ experience to see the popular trendy places such as High Road House, normally always busy, so eerily silent.  The few walkers were pretty focussed on keeping a couple of metres apart as they passed and quite a few had masks………….

One of the themes of this blog will be that we all need to remember those traders and services that did give a shit during the crisis and give them our patronage afterwards.  Those that are not looking after their staff that price gouge and take advantage should be boycotted thereafter…….

So, I think that is enough for my first ‘Corona Blog’ – I suspect this will be a long season, assuming I have the energy and someone somewhere actually reads it.”

Ravenscourt Park – a solace in crazy times

One thing that strikes me is that I clearly realised that my daily ‘constitutional’ would become a life saving element of my survival kit.  Before then I may have visited Ravenscourt Park a few times whereas now it is like a cherished old friend.  It seems in my head to symbolise the mental ups and downs of this year.  The different seasons, changes in the numbers and types of people and the uses they put to the open space: can I walk with one friend socially, less than six, sit down on a bench with my coffee or keep on moving under the watchful eye of a zealous community officer?

Sometimes it has felt like I am in a time lapse bubble standing on the path while a world of differences flash past me.  I am standing still surrounded by small children on bikes, dogs in little coats, joggers in lycra, huddles of schoolgirls catching up on gossip, mums following toddlers on the loose, dad’s wearily kicking the ball back to four year olds with Chelsea shirts, picnickers, park keepers  and policemen while different weather and cloud formations zoom past time lapse fast in my ‘like sci-fi but it isn’t’ head.

Yet despite this the park bird life has ignored the human saga rampaging all about it and carried on its seasonal cycle as it did last year and will next.  To close my eyes and focus on the sound of birds and push the people noises into the hum of background…… pauses …… breathes ……. sighs.

I posted just three weeks ago a picture of the early breeding Egyptian Geese and their family.  They are certainly growing and Mum and Dad are still chasing away any duck that encroaches on their space.  See for your self the difference.

I also strolled with some friends into the little ‘wilderness’ and we checked on the pond. There has been some slightly random attempt to hack away some of the undergrowth and clear the accumulated weed but as can be seen the frog spawn is at its cyclical pre-tadpole stage.  Said friends had in the past stocked their garden pond with some of the same genetic material and years on it looks a great deal healthier in cleaner and better oxygenated water than the natural mud pool. Memories of short trousered, brown kneed returns home to Mum with my tadpoles in a jam jar or a newt in a match box.

We will be processing our memories of this last twelve months and the whole Covid experience for years to come.  What will be the same?  What will be different?  My relationship with Ravenscourt Park will never be quite as it was.  When Dave welcomes me back to The Raven for that pint of my dreams there will be a little Park mud on my shoes as there will be forever in my Lock Down memories.  I just hope I am not still writing this same blog in a year’s time.

The song nearest the contemplative mood of today’s Blog, that I can think of immediately but delighted to hear other suggestions, has to be this one.  It was written in 1967 and released as a single posthumously in 1968.  Listening to it always makes me wish I could whistle.

Read more blogs by Keith

Read the next in the series – My Corona – Another year, another life

Read the previous one – My Corona – #proudofourkids

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.

 

A year of pandemic – how has Chiswick fared?

Image above: Bell & Crown pub, closed spring 2020; photograph Joanna Raikes

It’s a year since Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock announced in Parliament that “all unnecessary social contact should cease”. He made that announcement on 16 March 2020 and a week later Boris Johnson told the country that people “must” stay at home and that certain businesses must close.

The Chiswick Calendar has been talking to people in Chiswick about how their year has been. For some who have lost loved ones it has been a year of tragedy. For some it has been financially disastrous. For others it’s just been a boring and depressing time. But people have made the best of it and adapted and are now just hoping that the end of this lockdown is truly irreversible, as the Prime Minister has said he is determined it should be. Most of us can’t wait to get out there and meet people and do things again. Young people in particular want to get on with their lives.

Oliver Peyton: Owner, funeral directors Exit Here 

Funeral directors have “borne the brunt” of people’s emotions

We’ve had 55 Covid-19 deaths in Chiswick, up to the end of January, according to the Office of National Statistics. For most of us, fortunately, that means that someone you know knows someone who has died, perhaps not even that. For most of us the statistics aren’t personal.

Coping with death is never easy. Oliver Peyton, best known as a successful chef with a string of restaurants to his name, opened funeral directors Exit Here on Chiswick High Rd in November 2019, hoping to make the experience better. He was planning to offer a different type of send off – a personally customised celebration of life, planned by the person who’s died years in advance, leaving none of the stress to the recently bereaved; a revolution in options for funerial style.

Instead he’s found himself catering for recently bereaved people who have been even more distressed and burdened than they would normally be and he has been able to offer them none of the social celebratory events he’d been planning.

People who have lost friends and relatives over this past year have had to cope with their loved ones going into hospital and not being able to be with them when they died to say goodbye. Then they’ve had to make decisions about who could come to the funeral, adding extra painful conversations to an already emotionally fraught time. For a period it was only ten people who could go to a funeral. Currently it’s 30.

“At the beginning we had funerals booked for 500 or so which had to be cut down to ten and people had flown in for the funeral from all over the world. They got here to discover that not only could they not go to the funeral but that they couldn’t get home again”.

He says what has made the pandemic so difficult for funeral directors is that they have borne the brunt of people’s emotions. That’s what their job is, I point out, but he says Covid has made the process much more difficult because people have had to make more difficult decisions about who was going to attend the funeral and how it should be carried out.

“The personal relationship is so much more intense because it’s so much more difficult”.

Exit Here decided early on that they would do viewings so people had at least some chance for a final goodbye.

“That was a big thing for us. Other funeral directors weren’t doing that”.

They also had to learn a new set of skills, like so many people, and get to grips with livestreaming funerals. This is one occasion where you really can’t have someone saying “turn the vicar’s mic on, we can’t hear him”. Or “I’m getting feedback”.

About 30% of the deaths they’ve handled this past year have been Covid deaths, Oliver estimates, though most of the deceased have been at the end of life or very overweight, so overall they have handled 10 – 15% more funerals than anticipated.

He’s finding now that they are getting many more enquiries about catering for wakes and people are booking memorial services to give their loved ones the send off they’d like to have given them last year.

He thinks that now the clergy are comfortable with livestreaming from churches, the live streamed element of funerals will continue. He’s also detects a much stronger sense of community as a result of the past year’s pain.

“People are pulling together and want to help each other and we’re all valuing our lives more now on a daily basis”.

Images above: Chiswick High Rd; photograph Joanna Raikes

Not as many empty premises as we feared

I’ve spent days crying and wake up in the middle of the night with panic attacks

I’ve taken out a business loan and a personal loan and I’m just praying that when we open again we will stay open

Two comments from restaurateurs The Chiswick Calendar has spoken to.

There have not been as many losses of businesses in Chiswick High Rd, Devonshire Rd and Turnham Green Terrace as perhaps we might have expected. In fact there has been much greater turn over and more gaps in the High Rd in previous years and Jeremy Day, Commercial Director of Whitman & Co, says prospects are good, with hardly any gaps currently in the High Rd.

We have lost L’Appetit Fou from the Terrace. The artisan bakery Fortitude, which opened last summer with great hopes of doing better business in the suburbs than in central London, closed after a short term tenancy, as did Bread Ahead on the High Rd. Both were ‘pop-ups’, hoping to take advantage of the much vaunted ’15 minute economy’, with people working at home and shopping locally. But the amount of trade they were able to do has not been sufficient to promote them from pop-ups to permanent fixtures.

Hush Hush on Chiswick High Rd is also a pop-up. Their in-house freshly prepared salads, filo pastries and coffee have proved popular and they are planning on staying, but they are now having to look for cheaper premises.

Pop-ups have seen us through a year in which nervous landlords preferred to have short term tenants rather than none. The new, incoming businesses that Jeremy Day is currently dealing with are all taking long term lets, he says, which bodes well for the future. But there is no denying it has been a disastrous year for retailers and hospitality businesses.

Images above: One of Chateau’s trademark cakes; Anette Megyaszai, Chateau’s owner

“All I’ve had is bankruptcy notices in my inbox”

Anette Megyaszai runs two businesses. She changed her cafe / restaurant on the corner of Chiswick High Rd and Linden Gardens well before the pandemic, from offering mainly fabulous handmade cakes (as ‘Chateau Dessert’) to offering fabulous handmade cakes, a range of multicoloured salads, all-day breakfasts and Lebanese food in the evenings, (as ‘Chateau’ plain and simple). She is currently offering a Click & Collect service (20% off until the end of November) and will be opening her outside tables on 12 April and opening fully in May.

Her other business, Chateau Dessert, is a wholesale business based in Heston which supplied hotel chains, restaurants and airlines with cakes. She has lost 95% of that business and many of the people she dealt with have gone out of business.

“All I’ve had is bankruptcy notices in my inbox” she says.

Despite this, the wholesale business has not attracted any of the business support that the Chiswick cafe has – she’s still paying rent, utility bills and rates “for a business that’s dead in the water”. This she says is because it is a food wholesaler, but there seems to be no recognition that her client base has gone out of business.

The cafe  was “crazy busy” for the duration of the ‘Eat out to help out’ scheme.

“We had two good months of trade and an OK December before closing again.”

She launched her Click & Collect service in November. For her, the Furlough payments have been ‘a godsend’ and the Business Rates holiday and the Business grants have enabled her to stay afloat. She still has both businesses, but she’s had to survive on savings made from many years of careful planning and building up her businesses and now she feels she has returned to square one.

Image above: Staff at Casa Dino in Devonshire Rd; a Casa Dino dessert

“Year of hell”

Dino Kastrati, who owns Casa Dino in Devonshire Rd, has only been able to open his family run restaurant for two months out of twelve. It has, he says, been a “year of hell” and they are really struggling.

Like Anette, he has benefitted from Business grants, the Furlough scheme and the Business rates holiday, but unike other restaurants he was unable to open in July and August to take advantage of Rishi Sunak’s lifeline for the hospitality trade, as he couldn’t get the ingredients he relies on for his home cooked Italian food – Italian cheeses, pasta flour and tomato sauce. Italy was so badly affected by Covid-19 that the supply chain was severely disrupted. His father in Trieste was severely ill with the virus and his mother in law died from it.

He will be opening his outside tables on 12 April and the whole restaurant in May, if Boris Johnson’s roadmap goes to plan. He says he can’t afford Deliveroo’s 30% commission charge, so he doesn’t do takeaways.

Like Chateau’s food, Dino’s Italian food is fantastic. I look forward to them both opening fully.

Images above: Simon Randall, owner of Headliners Comedy Club; Simon introducing Headliners in the Boston Room at George IV

“I put income ‘0’ in the box on the application form and it wouldn’t accept it”

Headliners Comedy Club, which operates in the Boston Room at George IV on Chiswick High Rd, celebrates its 20th year this year. It’s lucky it’s made it this far. It has only been open for a handful of nights in the past year, and that with a reduced number of tickets on sale, accommodating only people from the same household or bubble at socially distanced tables.

Owner Simon Randall says he has had not a penny of support from the Government as he is a ‘sole trader’ (ie. a freelance) and he doesn’t own or have a tenancy agreement on a premises. Usually he contracts the entertainment room in the back of the pub for Friday and Saturday nights eight months of the year to put on stand up comedy.

“If you fall into a category where you don’t have a high street premises then you’re in trouble” he tells me.

“I don’t know what they’ve got against sole traders, but individuals who work for themselves seem to be completely out of favour and as a sole trader I can’t apply for an Arts Council grant either”.

If he had earned less in previous years, he would have got some support, but in a normal year he earns just over the cut off point of £50,000.

“What defeats me utterly is the logic that says if you earn £30,000 or £40,000 you need help but if you earn £50 – 60,000, as I do, then you can live on nothing”.

What has particularly infuriated him is that he applied for the most recent iteration of business support, wrote ‘0’ for income and was told that the system wouldn’t accept that, it had to be ‘0.00’ to be recognised by the computer. Since he put in that application to LB Hounslow (with the correctly designated ‘0.00’ income) in November he has neard nothing, he says, not even an acknowledgement.

Images above: Headliners Comedy Club line up for the weekend of Friday 21 / Saturday 22 / Sunday 23 May

Mayfest 2021

He has to overcome his sense of humour failure by 21 May, when he will be compering the Headliners Mayfest weekend. On three nights (instead of the usual two) – Friday 21, Saturday 22 and  Sunday 23 May – and for Friday 28, Saturday 29 and Sunday 30, he will be hosting a mini comedy festival before closing for the summer, as he doesn’t have the Boston Room room in June, July and August.

“The response has been amazing” he told The Chiswick Calendar. “I sent out an email to our database of people who have booked before and in 24 hours we sold 200 tickets – over half the tickets available. That’s absolutely incredible”.

People don’t usually book stand up comedy much in advance, he says.

“People are desperate to go out and to get something booked up so that they have something to look forward to”.

The same applies to the comedians.

“Usually it takes about a week to fill the slots (eight per night for the Mayfest) but it was all done in an afternoon. The performers can’t wait to be on stage again”.

He is still waiting to hear from Ealing Council whether the Ealing Comedy festival which he usually runs each hear at the end of July, will be allowed to go ahead.

Club Card discounts

Chateau, Casa Dino and Headliners are all members of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme. They all have discounts on offer to Club Card holders, the pandemic notwithstanding.

Chateau – 10% off food at the restaurant (reopening outside tables on 12 April) / 20% off Click & Collect. Online promotional code: Chateau at home 20.

Casa Dino – 10% off food at the restaurant (reopening outside tables on 12 April)

Headliners – Simon is able to offer Chiswick Calendar Club Card holders £10 tickets to anyone who contacts him on the day of a show for returned tickets. Ring 0207 221 4450 or email: info@headlinerscomedy.com

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Exit Here, a new concept in caring for the dead

See also: Anette Megyaszai, owner and founder Chateau Chiswick, profile

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.

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The roadmap out of lockdown 2021

Image above: Chiswick House Gardens; photograph Jennifer Griffiths

March

The schools went back on 8 March; colleges have reopened, and university students have returned to practical courses.

Care home residents can have one nominated visitor, with testing and social distance precautions.

From 29 March

We can meet outside with one other household, or in groups of up to six, including in private gardens.

The stay at home rule comes to an end, though the Government is still urging people to stay local.

Outdoor sport facilities will reopen, including golf courses and tennis and basketball courts, and formally organised outdoor sports can restart.

Weddings attended by up to six people can take place in any circumstances.

Images above: The Italian Job, Deveonshire Rd; The Pilot pub, Wellesley Rd

April

If the roadmap goes to plan, from 12 April

All shops are allowed to open, including close-contact services such as hairdressers and beauty salons (including in people’s homes)

Restaurants and pubs are allowed to serve food and alcohol to customers sitting outdoors

Gyms and spas can reopen, as can zoos, theme parks, libraries and community centres

Members of the same household can take a holiday in the UK in self-contained accommodation

Weddings attended by up to 15 people can take place

Image above: Jazz at George IV; Stealing Dan & Don, October 2020

May

No earlier than 17 May

People can meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors

Six people or two households can meet indoors

Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues can seat customers indoors

Up to 30 people can attend weddings or other life events, such as christenings

Remaining outdoor entertainment, such as outdoor theatres and cinemas can open

Indoor entertainment such as museums, theatres, cinemas and children’s play areas can open

Performances and large events can restart, but with limits on audience numbers

Hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen

International leisure travel may resume

Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes can restart

June

No earlier than 21 June

All legal limits on social contact will be removed

No legal limits on the number of people who can attend weddings, funerals and other life events

Nightclubs will be allowed to reopen

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Award winning theatre director Jonathan O’Boyle joins ArtsEd

See also: A year of pandemic – How has Chiswick fared?

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Remembering those the pandemic has taken – David Stewart

Images above: David Stewart

We now know that the number of people who died from Covid-19 in Chiswick between March 2020 and the end of February 2021 is 61.

That’s 61 groups of family and friends for whom the pandemic represents rather more than a financial loss or an inconvenience, who have suffered real loss.

Local funeral director Oliver Peyton told us how hard people have found it not being able to mourn in the normal way. You can read an interview with him here:

READ ALSO: A year of the pandemic. How has Chiswick fared?

Here we remember David Stewart, who died in the very early days of the pandemic, leaving his wife Robyn and sons Tommy and Jake.

David was a musician. Not the David Stewart who partnered Annie Lennox in the Eurythmics, but the one who played at Glastonbury with Steve Hillage in 1979, toured with Thin Lizzy and built and managed British Grove Studios in Chiswick with fellow studio engineer Dave Harries. Together they launched the careers of the next generation of musicians and associated technicians, recording a wide range of music at the highly successful studios.

David and Robyn’s son Tommy is also a musician. (Instagram: tommysinging) Tommy, now 18, is embarking on a solo career as a singer-songwriter. Jake is building his own business, not in the music industry, but also inspired by his father. The two have recorded a version of Cowboy Song, originally written and recorded by Phil Lynott.

“The song was one we used to play a lot together” said Tommy “so it had a lot of significance”.

David played lead guitar, rhythm guitar and bass and the house was full of guitars when the boys were growing up, so it’s no surprise that they both play. Tommy is on lead guitar and vocals; Jake on rhythm guitar and bass.

The whole family is steeped in the music industry; Robyn too is involved, as long term PA to Mark Knopfler. He commissioned David and Dave to build British Grove Studios in the early 2000s to record Dire Straits’ music, and he still owns it.

Mark suggested Tommy and Jake record the tribute, after they played it to him last summer. What was “brilliant” Tommy told The Chiswick Calendar, was how Jason Elliott and Andy Cook, who manage the studios now, got behind the recording, with all their father’s old colleagues and employees. The song is a tangible expression of warmth and love from his music community.

Tommy is studying at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music, at their base in Fulham.

“Dad taught me everything I know about music, without forcing anything on me.

“He was a brilliant dad. We were a very close family.

Images above: Flowers outside their house after David died; David with Tommy and Jake

“When I first started at uni I was given a tour. It was the first time I’d been out of home for months and months”.

Talking to the woman who showed him round, the conversation inevitably turned to Covid. He felt compelled to tell her his father had died from it.

“The way her face fell, I’d never experienced anything like that. It’s something that everyone feels affected by.

Reading his peers expressing their frustration on social media at the boredom of lockdown was hard for Tommy at he beginning.

“At first it really bothered me. I thought ‘you don’t know how good you have it. I’d give anything to be in lockdown with my dad’”.

Images above: David, Robyn, Tommy and Jake at Glastonbury 2019

Robyn is very grateful that David got to see Tommy play at Glastonbury in 2019, 40 years after he had played there himself. Tommy won ‘Best demo of the year’ and got an hour’s set on the acoustic stage. In the same year he’d also played at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire and the Albert Hall.

“It was lovely that David got to see that.

“David got ill before the first lockdown. He went into hospital on 26 March. The day he went in was the day the tsunami hit London. He passed away on 9 April.

“He was a much-loved member of the community. He was kind, he helped people. He had a lot of friends and a fantastic relationship with his two teenage sons, which not all fathers manage to do”.

A family thing they used to do together was to make David’s version of Limoncello, which is what Jake is now developing as a business. www.cellochiswick.co.uk

Both boys in their own way are carrying on their father’s legacy.

One piece of advice David used to give Tommy has found its way into the lyrics of one of his songs.

“I used to play football at Rocks Lane on a Friday night and I was quite hot headed. Dad always used to say: ‘do your talking on the pitch’.

“He was very good at not getting too caught up in stuff that didn’t really matter”.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: A year of pandemic – how has Chiswick fared?

See also: David Stewart, Manager of British Grove Studios, dies from the coronavirus

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’s ‘Concierge Cabbies’

How London’s embattled black car drivers are faring after a year of the pandemic

It’s been a tough year for many trades. But few have been as badly hit as London’s black cab drivers. With the City shuttered, and travel severely curtailed, their livelihood has all but disappeared.

Pictures in the national press last November showed a black cab “graveyard” in a field near Epping Forest, with hundreds of cabs abandoned there. Around the same time, the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) said it believed that only 20 per cent of cabbies were still driving their vehicles. So is the London black cab – already a rare sight on Chiswick High Road – about to become an endangered species?

I know of a number of black cab drivers who’ve been forced to give up the trade, at least temporarily. One’s become a forest keeper, others have taken jobs in Smithfield Meat Market, or an upmarket West End store.

I spoke to an enterprising group of tour-guide cabbies who have been working as concierge shoppers in West London, including Chiswick, for the past year, to get their views.

Ray Winstone set up the Concierge Shopping Club last March with fellow drivers from the Black Taxi Tour London company. They were seeking ways of keeping their cabs on the road after their work, ferrying American tourists around London, dried up. We featured them in The Chiswick Calendar a year ago.

Images above: Ray Winstone (left), driver Moses Gonzalez with his black cab (right)

 “A lifesaver”

A year later the Club is still going, with a small group of drivers still whizzing around the supermarkets and delis of West London, serving a hard core of customers in Kensington and Chiswick. Certainly its clients, many of whom can’t shop for themselves, have found it invaluable.

One of them, Chiswick resident Diana Lea, has had her shopping delivered by the cabbie-concierge team since last March. “It’s been a real lifesaver,” she says. “I don’t know what I would have done without them, particularly when I was waiting for a hip replacement operation.”

It’s also helped the cab drivers themselves. Ray admits:

“The Concierge Shopping Club has probably kept the company alive for the few drivers that have tried to stay as taxi drivers. And it’s kept our admin department at BTTL going – we still have a few enquiries coming in for tours. ”

But although drivers managed to make some money doing Christmas Lights tours of London before the latest lockdown, it seems unlikely BTTL will be running large numbers of tours for foreign tourists in the near future.  Most of the drivers are now actively seeking other work, with some thinking of leaving the trade altogether.

Images above: Driver Moses Gonzales delivering food and essentials in Summer 2020

Delivering dogs and paying off debts

Ray no longer works as part of the Concierge Shopping Club, but has diversified into other work.

”Lockdown’s been really good for me,” he says. I’ve probably never earned so much money. I’ve paid off all my debts.”

He’s returned to his family roots in the building trade, doing specialist roofing work as well as building walls and doing tiling. During the lockdown boom in pet-purchasing, he acted as a courier, delivering dogs from his brother’s licensed dog breeding business to their new homes around the country.

“I’ll still keep the cab,“  he says, “But it’s  full of tools at the moment, and smelly blankets for dogs! “

More than 160 job applications

Moses Gonzalez has been a cheerful stalwart of the West London Concierge Shopping Club since the outset. He’s also done a bit of tour guide work over the past year, including Christmas Lights tours, and, briefly, another delivery job, which he quit because of concerns over health and safety. A year on, he’s hoping to get out of the trade for the time being.

Moses says he’s has applied for around 160- 170 jobs in the past year. But it’s been a dispiriting process. He’s only had four interviews during that whole period, with the latest one this week.

His main aim is now returning to his previous career, with the hope he can earn enough to pay his bills, mortgage and cab costs.

“I’m going back to do a refresher course to get back into the maritime industry, where I can earn some money,” he says. “I previously worked in anti-piracy security and am classed as merchant seaman. In between contracts, I can do some cab driving, and if any tours come up, I can do those as well.”

Images above: Drivers Stella and Barry with deliveries 

“Devastating financially”

Fellow concierge-shopper Stella Wood has also been forced to diversify. She says she hasn’t picked up a passenger on the street since the first lockdown. While she’s been helped by a Government grant for the self-employed, she’s been supplementing her income with the Concierge Club, and by delivering meals from upmarket Mayfair restaurants to hungry customers. Like many drivers, she’s taking work wherever she can find it. Her latest job is encouraging people to complete their census questionnaires.

“It’s been devastating, financially,” she says. “I feel like I’ve had a year of my life taken away”.

Stella’s keen to stay in the cab trade, particularly tour guiding, but knows she mightn’t be able to rely on the foreign tourist trade for some time. She’s also worried about how much custom the City might provide in the future.  “I don’t know how many people are going to be full time workers back in the office. So it’s quite a concern, really,” she says.

Image above: Barry with a delivery

“I don’t want to do anything else”

Another concierge shopper, Barry Ivens, has been doing deliveries for wine shops and West End restaurants, as well as delivering Covid tests to testing centres. Like Stella and Moses, his last work as a tour-guide cabbie was doing Christmas Lights tours.

Nevertheless, Barry’s says he’s “quite optimistic” about the future. “I think we’ll miss out on a lot this summer”, he says, “but things will improve, the more vaccinated we get.”

And, unlike some of his cabbie colleagues, Barry doesn’t seem himself leaving cab work.  “I’m a Londoner,” he says. “I love helping Londoners. I don’t want to do anything else!”

Image above: a Tweet showing the black cab “graveyard” in Epping Forrest

Cabs not being replaced

Ray remains pessimistic about the future of the cab trade. Quite apart from Covid, black cab drivers are facing tough competition from the likes of Uber.  And then there are the problems caused by Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Asking a taxi driver to work without access to roads, says Ray, is “like a chef without knives, or a hairdresser without scissors. If the “tools” are taken away, it’s hard to do your job”.

He says many black cab drivers have surrendered their taxi licence plates (the white ones displayed in the back of the vehicle) as part of TfL’s recent decommissioning scheme. Drivers were offered thousands of pounds to decommission their older, polluting, diesel cabs. The idea was they’d use the money to buy new electric taxis. But that’s not always happened.

“It started before lockdown,” says Ray, “but everybody’s jumped on it since lockdown, as an opportunity to get rid of their taxis, and nobody’s replaced them. So we’ve gone from about 20,000 cabs down to about 13,800. So when it all starts up again, there’s not going to be any cabs to rent.”

He’s not even sure how many, if any, people are currently doing The Knowledge, the gruelling, lengthy course you have to pass to qualify as a London black cab driver.

“I’ve been a cab driver 35 years,” muses Ray, “and I’ve always said to people, ‘do The Knowledge, it’s another string to your bow’. But now I say, ‘don’t do four years’ studying. Do a bricklayer’s course or a plasterer’s course if you want another string’!”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: A year of pandemic – how has Chiswick fared?

See also: Young people who started their own business during lockdown

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Retail: “I’ve never had to work so hard in my life”

Image above: Sally Price at Insider Dealings; photograph Anna Kunst

Retailers have had a tough year. Trying to work out whether what they sell is ‘essential’ or not (flower stalls weren’t essential but garden centres were); redesigning their premises to lay out social distancing, refitting them with screens to protect their till staff and customers; closing, opening, closing again … Most have benefitted from business grants, a hold on business rates and furlough payments, but they’ve still had to pay a quarter of staff costs, rent and other overheads.

We’ve talked to three Chiswick retailers to see how they’ve fared.

Image above: Insider Dealings, 135 Chiswick High Rd; Interior design scheme

Insider Dealings

Sally Price, who owns the interior design shop Insider Dealings says she’s never worked so hard in all her life. She’s been at 135 Chiswick High Rd for 27 years. The shop is long and narrow and is a treasure trove of fabrics and colours. She’s been able to talk to people at the door, and carries on conversations with people pointing at things through the window.

She’s been working on her own a lot during the past year, as her staff have been furloughed for periods. The furlough payments have been a godsend, she says, but has left her working quite a bit by herself.

“It’s been unbelievably exhausting. I haven’t had a day off” she told The Chiswick Calendar.

Her work relies on her being able to meet people, showing them fabrics, feeling fabrics and measuring up. Technically interior design is considered part of the construction industry, so she could go into people’s houses, but she’s managed, more than she initially thought she would, to do quite a lot of work without visiting her clients’ homes.

She’s worked mainly with clients who she’s worked with before, with a few new clients. Everything has taken much longer, everybody’s working much more slowly. Instead of getting back to her straight away it’s been “we’ll get back to you when we can.” Overall the business has done half its normal turnover.

insiderdealingsw4.com

Origin 40

Origin 40 are not sure if they’re essential. They think they are – Holland and Barrett are open – and they sell products which are similarly bought for the purposes of health and well being. But they decided to err on the side of caution and stay closed, they told us, opening only for specific appointments and for click and collect.

Origin 40 opened the doors of its Chiswick shop at 288 Chiswick High Rd in July 2020, selling products which contain cannabis extract. Initially called ‘Beleaf’, it changed its name in January 2021.

The Chiswick store, the second Origin 40 shop to open in the UK, holds over 170 different products, from creams and balms, to drops, oils, chocolates and tonics, curated, they say, from some of ‘the largest and most reputable’ producers from across the globe.

Managing Director Marcus Fox told The Chiswick Calendar that whereas before most of their customers had come to them with complex, chronic illnesses such as arthritis, seeking relief from pain and discomfort, during the pandemic they’ve found that people have come to them almost exclusively for mental health reasons – looking for help dealing with stress and anxiety, or because they’re unable to sleep.

“Most of our customers want to have conversations. The majority have heard about products and want to come in and find out more about them”.

People who are already customers are happy to re-order online but overall he estimates that while the shop has been closed they’ve only been doing about a quarter of the business they were when it was open. Despite that, the company is planning to open two new shops in central and west London, believing that business will be booming when they reopen.

Origin 40 is a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme, offering a 10% discount to our card holders. Telephone: 07851 246767 / Email: hello@origin40.com. Use the promotional code CALENDAR10 for purchases.

origin40.com

Image above: Chiswick Camera Centre; staff, with Andy in the centre

Chiswick Camera Centre

Chiswick Camera Centre has had a particularly bad year. Not only have they been closed, offering click and collect and mail order only, but they lost £40,000 in a break-in in November. Closed from April to June; open from July to October; then closed again for November with just two weeks’ trade in December, owner Andy Sands reckons they are at least 50 – 60% down on the previous year.

Andy is himself an expert wildlife cameraman. Photographers come to him as much for his advice as anything. To enable him to be competitive selling new equipment, he makes very little profit on new equipment but makes more on second hand gear.

When his shop at 4 Chiswick Terrace, Acton Lane, was broken into, he lost a lot of second hand stock. The insurance company only paid him cost price, so he has lost out on the profit he was relying on from those sales.

He’s been grateful for the Chancellor’s business grants and has claimed 80% self-employed profits. His staff have been furloughed and one has taken redundancy at his own request. He’s in the shop on his own handing the click and collect purchases from 10.00 – 2.30pm. He’s seen his online sales increase and has been doing a lot of click and collect trade.

“I am hoping that when we reopen we stay open. After the first lockdown there were a couple of quiet weeks and then we were very buoyant.

“There are people out there with cash in their pockets, who haven’t been able to spend it on holidays or restaurant meals. I am hoping they will spend it on their hobbies”.

Chiswick Cameras is a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme, offering a 10% discount to our card holders on all camera accessories.

Telephone: 0208 995 9114 / Email: sales@chiswickcameras.co.uk

If the roadmap continues to go to plan the shops will be open again on Monday 12 April (13 April for Chsiwick Camera Centre, as they are normally closed on Mondays).

chiswickcameras.co.uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: A year of pandemic – how has Chiswick fared?

See also: Clare Balding – I’ve never been at home as much as this

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.

Young people who started their own business during lockdown

Images above: Rita Kastrati; Olivia and Francesca Johns

“We just thought, we have this long summer holiday stretching ahead of us with nothing to do and nowhere to go, so we’d go for it”

Francesca and Olivia Johns are 22 and 20 respectively. In the summer of 2020 Francesca graduated from Kings, with a degree in Geography; her sister Olivia had just completed her first year studying Criminology at Oxford Brooks University.

Did they spend the summer in pyjamas watching Netflix? No they did not. Well, maybe a little, but mainly they decided to act on an idea they’d been mulling for some years and set up a business together selling soft furnishings.

READ MORE: Francesca and Olivia’s lockdown business – Boeboes

Rita Kastrati, 21, graduated in the summer of 2020 with a degree in International Political Economy. She had a job lined up in New York which she wasn’t able to take because she couldn’t get there. She has gone into business with her mother, selling flowers.

READ MORE: Rita’s lockdown business – Bea’s Flowers London

Francesca, Olivia and Rita are all lucky to have learned a certain amount about the trade in which they’re embarking from their parents, but they have all seized the enforced inactivity of lockdown as an opportunity and recognised the potential for running a business online.

Images above: James Willcocks; Jake Stewart

“The experience of this past year has shown me that you no longer have to go to London to be working at the top in the tech industry”

James Willcocks, 24, lives on Dartmoor. Coming from a farming family, he wasn’t convinced that he wanted to work in London, but thought he should at least give it a try. He moved to Chiswick in September 2019 but during the following year, as central London offices emptied and he improved his network of contacts, he realised that actually he could live in Devon and work perfectly well as a software engineer and web developer from home.

READ MORE: James’ lockdown business – web development

“I’ve always fancied running my own business”

Jacob Stewart, 23, started Cello, a one-person company making and selling his homemade Limoncello, in late 2019.

When he left school he taught fencing, football and cricket in a school for a couple of years before starting a degree in aeronautical engineering. But he quickly decided university wasn’t for him and decided to try his hand at what he really wanted to do: to set up his own business.

READ MORE: Jacob’s lockdown business: Cello

Young people have had it especially tough in 2020, not being able to socialise, not having the usual opportunities to enjoy college and university life to the full, finding themselves in a much tougher job market.

These four have seen an opportunity in being able to work online, from home, and made the best of it. Good luck to them.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: A year of pandemic – How has Chiswick fared

See also: Retail: “I’ve never had to work so hard in my life”

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.

 

 

On being ‘elderly and vulnerable’ in a pandemic

Image above: Rainbow from the window of Barbara’s flat

It’s a pandem, and all stations panic

Text and photogrpahs by Barbara Chandler

Today, Tuesday, I will get my second Covid jab, thanks to the admirable enterprise of the local doctors who are selflessly running the large Chiswick vaccination centre. It’s within the 12 week window, with a week to spare.

Will it bring some sort of “closure” to this dire year of medical muddle, missing-out and multiple miseries? Here’s hoping – I do feel so much more positive about things now. Looking back, memories, events and unhappystance whiz into the pin-sharp automatic focus of a high-spec digital camera, not necessarily in any particular order.

There was the blind cramping fear at the beginning, watching the triple whammy of those ugly TV lecterns with their yellow fringe of disaster-scene tape sitting in a vast swirly sea of Wilton c1970. We were now to be “locked down” without a decent logo – not for weeks but months.

There was the inelegant scramble to find masks and the new power potion of hand sanitiser – what on earth was that? Well, not anti-bacterial handwash as I discovered to my discomfort. It had to have a very high alcohol content, and no, vodka would not do. We put in orders on the internet and eventually something limped through …from China – but wasn’t that where it all started?

And could the virus spread on Amazon cardboard? Bank notes? Lettuce leaves? An internet crawl said not likely, but the pundits continued to dish out the panic. Best to wash the lettuce in very mild disinfectant and rinse thoroughly. Really. But I became horribly hand obsessed, swiping lift buttons and communal door-knobs with some alcohol wipes I had also squeezed out of the internet.

 

I triumphed with three advance bookings on ASDA – Waitrose and Sainsbury’s had long since thrown in the bookings towel. But one van just didn’t turn up. They may have simply gone away as the entry system of our block has been dodgy for many months. And they were unaccountably incommunicado.

So I switched to Iceland – no need to be snooty – and found out just how cheap things could be. And how nice – when they missed a delivery, someone at the end of the phone sent the stuff out again the same day. We supplemented this with some high-fresh fruit and veg from Covent Garden, now in surplus thanks to universal cafe collapse. Their guys bothered to ring before scarpering. We left them tips on the doormat until the coins ran out.

We’re pretty elderly, and my husband has had heart trouble so I went into “shield” mode right from the start – but who knew really what that weird verb with no object meant in the early days? So I registered with the NHS for a “supporter”. The rest was silence.

I switched to a Hounslow help service and a wonderful woman immediately rang – she’d be happy to collect our prescriptions. “Where are you based?” I asked. “Three floors down,” she said… and duly looked after us for the duration. Nothing if not neighbourly…. and cheerfully adding emergency milk-runs and an arcane request for a packet of Paxo to the relief rota.

Now, finally, at this late stage, we are getting calls regularly from many pleasant people (different each time) “checking up” on us. I fielded one just now. I say we’re really through the worst and I thank them (it is indeed very considerate), and they say they’ll ring again soon. It seems churlish to bat a “don’t bother.” When I did get into conversation with one woman, she said she was actually phoning from Surrey. Tricky for the milk, then.

We went out on daily walks, methodically clocking the sinisterly-silent streets of Chiswick where a growing rash of rainbows was taped to windows and chalked on pavements – and a heart on the bark of a tree. Some people still there then.

VE day in early May was blisteringly hot and residents in a posh road opposite had a sort of socially distanced street party in deckchairs as their front gardens are rather big. Inexorably my nail gel peeled away. Weekly, clapping was duly observed but who could hear it save our smug selves?

All sorts of chancers suddenly discovered the Gunnersbury Triangle, which I have patrolled for solo solace over many, many years. The strangers seem to have dropped away now.

My sister in Australia sent us a cream tea – well, it came from a local hamper outfit – and we took it the river, sat on a bench, spread clotted cream on scones and jam, opened a small bottle, and sent her an email with photo attached. Even more elderly, she is distraught: “I shall never see you again.” Lockdown is a multi-faceted life crusher.

Then came freedom, with the summer lift-off. I timidly crept to the little Co-Op opposite Gunnersbury station. Here I was in an indoor public place for the first time in months. Cold sweat, heart pounding. Oh God, there’s a man without a mask. On exit, punctilious protocols: saturation of sanitiser, mask unhooked with near contactless care, and instant binning.

Gradually I got more confident…indeed perhaps a little Covid cavalier. The tubes were virtually empty, surely not too much of a risk, and I went to the Royal Academy, avid to catch the end of Picasso/Paper.

Sitting on a chair outside a café in Piccadilly, I was amazed – if not appalled – at my own audacity, and at the empty seats and street. And, in a breakthrough moment, ordered tea. The bill seemed rather small. “Eat out to help out, madam,” admonished the waiter gravely. Even in Mayfair. For a single cup.

Vanity triumphed and I went back to the nice-nails Chiswick Beautique a few doors down, and over to Ken-the-hair in Changes, West Ealing,

I took my younger daughter and grand-children to Andy Warhol at the Tate, where everyone wore masks and was very well behaved. Plenty of high-ceilinged space. My elder daughter drove up from Dorset and we bagged a table in the garden at the back of the Chiswick Fire Station.

We actually thought of going away for two or three nights and made a tentative booking, then lost our nerve and cancelled… besides it was so terribly hot. The landlady was painfully polite more in sorrow than in anger. What a horrible thing to do to her.

It couldn’t, didn’t last, and the autumn in my mind is a jumble of terrible tiers and lousy lockdown – I couldn’t honestly tell you accurately what happened when. I know we managed a trip to our other daughters in Bath and Devon, booking separate accommodation, and meeting (more or less…) out of doors.

We were Airbnb virgins and surprised to find that “Barbara and Ben did not put their rubbish out” was a black mark on the communal comments, when the owners of really quite an expensive property never came near us all weekend, despite their incomprehensible central heating controls.

We must have been relatively unfettered on the run up to Christmas as I did a High Road shopping report for this Calendar, only to see all “my” shops taken out of commission the very next week. And some items on my list sold out before I could get back to buy them. As a long-standing hack, I filed my weekly home design pages to the Evening Standard right through the pandemic, plotting virtual events, paint shortages, garden gizmos, on-line décor sessions, and everything else we could think of.

My daughter came up from Dorset again, and we exchanged gifts in our vast underground car park. I slipped her a cup of tea from a Thermos – here’s one I made earlier. Why is it “social-distancing” when it is manifestly so unsocial? Same goes for social media, I suppose.

Christmas Day was a doorstep rendezvous (rule or not rule – who knew) and some rather unsuccessful video calls. Cooking Christmas dinner for two certainly beats peeling a mound of spuds and the food is wonderfully hot. Merci for the small mercies.

Then, wham bam Boris puts the boot in yet again. This time I was more frightened than ever. I really had been a bad girl and would be punished accordingly. But if I was, it was asymptomatic (another long word we’ve learned to trip).

After the first jab, when I think I was squeezed in on the back of a cancellation, euphoria gradually lapped in and around the rocks of angst. It seemed odd that people waiting were complaining about the queue. Now I’ve even booked the nails and the hair. Which brings me back to where we came in.

Barbara Chandler writes for the Evening Standard Homes and Gardens pages and lives in Chiswick. She has written features for The Chiswick Calendar on retail over the past year. See more of her photographs @sunnygran

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: A year of the pandemic – How has Chiswick fared?

See also: Remembering those the pandemic has taken – David Stewart

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The Felix Project and Cookbook Kitchen provide basic supplies and simple cooking ideas

Pandemic hits poor

Almost 700,000 people in the UK, including 120,000 children, have been plunged into poverty as a result of the Covid economic crisis, according to the thinktank the Legatum Institute.

The Institute says it is only the Chancellor’s temporary £20-a-week boost to Universal Credit which is stopping a further 700,000 people being in the same position.

There are various definitions of ‘poverty’; the Institute measures povery using the methodology developed by the independent Social Metrics Commission. They reckon that overall, the pandemic has pushed the total number of people in the UK living in poverty to more than 15 million – 23% of the population.

In London poverty is higher than in any other region of the UK, where the costs of living in London are 15-58% higher than the rest of the UK. All the indicators show that the pandemic has had a huge impact on disadvantaged people. There was a 21% increase in rough sleepers in the capital in 2020. One in five people report they are feeling helpless, experiencing stress, having parenting problems and worrying about financial insecurity.

Image above: Cookbook Kitchen’s Jules Kane and Fran Warde attending the launch of the recipe card programme at The Felix Project’s Park Royal depot

Simple cooking with basic supplies

Cookbook Kitchen is working with The Felix Project to provide easy ways for people in receipt of food parcels to cook for themselves.

The Felix Project charity takes good quality, surplus items from the food industry which cannot be sold and would otherwise go to waste and delivers it to those most in need. Working with contacts in schools, they get food parcels to children who teachers know come to school hungry.

The food they collect is sorted and delivered to over 400 front-line charities, primary schools and holiday programmes in London. Food that would have gone to waste is reaching vulnerable people, homeless people, those with poor mental health or those who simply can’t afford to buy regular, healthy food.

Cookbook Kitchen are a non-profit group of ‘food aficionados, restaurateurs, chefs, cooks and cookbook authors’ in Chiswick. They organised the Cookbook Festival in 2018 and 2019 and are currently planning a monthly Cheese Market to open in May.

They have developed a set of recipe cards for The Felix Project to include in their food parcels, with meal suggestons tailored to the food available.

The recipes accompany the food distributed to 170 primary schools across London who are taking part in The Felix Project’s Schools Programme. The organisers hope to inspire parents and children to make nutritious meals.

The Felix Project guarantee the food they supply is high quality and nutritious. A high proportion of their stock is fresh fruit and vegetables, baked goods, salads, meat and fish. The charity receives and food from over 450 suppliers, including supermarkets, wholesalers, farms, restaurants and delis.

See some of the recipes below.

Images above: Apple and cinnamon compote, pumpkin fritters

Apple and cinnamon compote

‘Lovely warm with ice-cream or cream for a quick pudding, or spoon on top of yoghurt or porridge for a fantastic breakfast. Also works brilliantly as the classic sauce with sausages, roast pork and pork chops. Use a dairy-free substitute instead of the butter for a lactose-free, vegan-friendly version.’

See recipe here: Apple and cinnamon compote

Pumpkin savoury fritters

‘Make a BIG batch – these lovely pancakes can be cooked ahead of time and will store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in a hot oven for 5 minutes or until heated through and crispy. They can also be popped in the freezer: freeze layered with baking parchment so that they don’t stick together.’

See recipe here: Pumpkin savoury fritters

Images above: Sprout and carrot slaw, spiced pumpkin soup

Sprout and carrot slaw

‘So quick and easy to make. Great as a salad or add to sandwiches with grated hard, or spreadable soft, cheese.’

See recipe here: Sprout and carrot slaw

Spiced pumpkin soup

‘Simple nourishing and warming: the addition of lentils adds protein. If possible, don’t peel vegetables, just give them a good wash. There are a lot of vitamins and minerals just below the skin.’

See recipe here: Spiced pumpkin soup

Mixed Mash

‘Mash doesn’t need to be JUST potato. There are lots of starchy root veg that work just as well. Although beetroot can make everything look a bit odd!

‘Serve as a side dish or top with nuts, seeds or cheese for a more substantial meal.’

See recipe here: Mixed mash

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar website

See also: Lockdown leftovers fishcakes

See also: A year of pandemic – How has Chiswick fared

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.

Clare Balding: I’ve never been at home as much as this

Images above: Torin Douglas; Clare Balding

The Boat Race on Easter Sunday will be the first major sporting event Clare Balding has done for the BBC for over a year.

Normally jetting all over the world to cover sporting events, she talked about how a year full of lockdowns has been for her, in the first of the 2021 Spring Lectures for The Upper Room.

Torin Douglas, Director of the Chiswick Book Festival and former Media Correspondent for the BBC, interviewed her in the online event to raise money for the west London charity which supports people who are homeless. He asked her about how she had spent 2020, about her career and what it was like growing up around a racing stables, with the Queen popping in for breakfast.

Being at home has been “lovely”

“I’ve never been at home as much as this, which has been lovely” she told the audience. “I make sure I walk every day, so the tow path between Chiswick Bridge and Kew Bridge is very well trodden for me. I try and do five miles a day minimum … I understand much more now what I need to keep me on track”.

Clare, who as a broadcaster has covered everything from horse racing to rowing and Wimbledon to the Olympics, is not used to being home bound.

“Luckily for me, although a lot of the sports events I do were delayed or cancelled last year, because I do write as well, I could keep myself busy. I managed to write two books last year and I’m meant to be writing another one, but I’m finding it rather difficult to concentrate”.

Because she doesn’t have a regular show, she said she’s not hidebound by a regular pattern.

“I like variety. I like to be stimulated and I make decisions to do things based on the key questions: Will it be interesting? Will it be fun? Will I learn something? Will it be challenging? If those questions are all in the affirmative then I say yes, I’ll do it”.

Nervous about presenting the Boat Race?

The Boat Race on Easter Sunday will be the first major event she’s done for the BBC for some time. Out of practice doing major live events, is she finding re-entry a little nerve-wracking?

“I don’t think I did even a single day for BBC Sport last year apart from Sports Personality of the Year, so I’m really glad I have been doing other things, because otherwise I’d be so nervous.

“If you don’t do live television and you suddenly pop up and you’ve got a massive audience, it’s like getting back in the car and driving when you haven’t driven for a year, you do slightly think ‘can I still do this?’”

The Boat Race used to be a local event for her, but this year it’s taking place in Ely because of the pandemic, with the organisers wanting to avoid the London crowds, which she said was “sad for Chiswick”.

Prioritising women’s sport

She does a lot of broadcasting about women’s sport.

“When I stopped going racing, which was in 2016, I absolutely made a commitment to trying to do as much women’s sport as I could and making a positive impact in terms of promotion. So women’s football I do quite a lot of. I’ve got Women’s Championship League matches coming up.

“When I started at the BBC, it seems a lifetime ago now, but Grandstand was absolutely, the aim of every sports presenter was to present Grandstand and I was very lucky, I did that in my twenties.

“Grandstand doesn’t exist any more. It’s very much a world of specialists and I’m still a generalist and I like being a generalist, so there’s less on offer but when the big events come along like the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games, the Winter Olympics or the Paralympics, at the moment I do still get the call”.

Images above: Some of Clare’s books

Writing books

Clare has the perfect mix of being able to pick and choose what broadcasting she wants to do and being able to schedule her own projects in between.

She really enjoys writing and already has an impressive pile of books to her name, both fact and fiction. She started with an autobiographical account My Animals and Other Family and has gravitated towards writing stories for children. Her output from 2020 has been factual – one adult book about animals and one, intended for older children, about how to be self-confident.

“It’s fun to create something that’s a bit more long-lasting” she told Torin.

“You know this Torin. Everything we do in radio and television, it’s wonderful but it’s gone. As soon as it’s on air it’s gone. Unless you make a right mess up, in which case it seems to live a little longer”.

“It’s there forever” Torin agreed.

Talking about the isolation of lockdown, “I particularly feel for teenagers” she said. I think for teenagers missing a year … I really, really feel for them. It’s important to recognise it and address it and try and help and even though I don’t have children myself, I’m very conscious of the effect that you can have on kids when you’re not their parent and you’re not their teacher, but you say something that resonates with them”.

Fall Off, Get Back On, Keep Going

Her latest book is Fall Off, Get Back On, Keep Going – ten ways to be at the top of your game, aimed at 9 – 11 year olds.

“About that age when you’re moving school, when you’re going from primary to secondary … and I think you suddenly become terribly self-conscious.

“So there’s a chapter called ‘The Cloak of Confidence’ which is about taking that cloak out of the cupboard, putting it on and giving yourself a chance to feel stronger.

“But also one of my big theories in life is that if you can get yourself off selfie mode turn the camera out and look at the world and look at other people and you can be concerned for other people and you look to try and be a good friend or a good support, you actually stop obsessing about yourself and I think that can be quite helpful”.

Breakfast with the Queen

Torin asked how much was inspired by her own childhood, which was “unconventional”. Her father was a successful racehorse trainer and she was a leading amateur jockey before she went into broadcasting.

She has told the story many times of how she had gone out for an early ride and came back in looking for breakfast. When her father had owners visiting they tended to come early to see the horses exercising, and stay for breakfast. Seeing two men in the kitchen (the Queen’s protection officers) she didn’t think much of it and went skidding into the dining room in her socks and jodhpurs, focused on the prospect of a cooked breakfast. There sat the Queen.

“I panicked. I didn’t even curtsey, which I should have done, I was so surprised”.

She literally did fall off horses and get back on again from a very young age.

“Me and my brother grew up surrounded by dogs and ponies. We weren’t really allowed near the racehorses because that was serious business, you can’t have kids running round the yard, but dad said to us pretty early on, you have to fall off a hundred times if you were to be a proper jockey.

“So I learned how to fall off and that’s sort of what inspired the title. When you learn to fall off, you actually stop being scared of it and weirdly that makes you less likely to fall off and I’ve kind of carried that through in life.

“Fall is only one letter different from fail. We are all going to make mistakes and it is about how we are going to recover. And actually if you are so scared of making a mistake when you start doing something, you will come across as being terrified. Certainly in television people watching you will then be scared that you’re going to make a mistake and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy”.

Image above: Volunteers serving a meal at The Upper Room

Clare’s interview was the first of the Upper Room Spring lectures 2021.

The Upper Room offers homeless people a cooked meal. They also provide driving lessons for men who have come out of prison and are looking for work. They offer counselling and practical support with job applications and welfare applications.

During the pandemic they have been giving online workshops but have not been able to fundraise. Meanwhile homelessness and poverty has increased massively. The number of people claiming Universal Credit has doubled to six million.

£25 pays for a case work session, a counselling session or a driving lesson. Donate to the Upper Room here: theupperroom.org.uk/get-involved/donate

The next lectures in the series are Michael Frayn on 21 April and Jeremy Paxman on 19 May.

Book tickets

theupperroom.org.uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: A year of the pandemic – how has Chiswick fared?

See also: The Upper Room ‘braced’ for more people needing help

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.