My Corona – Me Radio Live

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. 

Clown: Good Madonna, why mournest thou?
Olivia: Good Fool, for my brother’s death.
Clown: I think his soul is in hell, Madonna.
Olivia: I know his soul is in heaven, Fool.
Clown: The more fool, Madonna, to mourn for your brother’s soul being in heaven.

-William Shakespeare, Twelth Night

Phone In Radio

Good Morning and welcome to the new radio programme “Me, Today, Live.” In which I interview myself about things going on in my head and share them all with me, the listener. As is the case with so much media, this programme is targeted at people who share the same views and agree with everything I say: me.

There will be a phone in section where I will be able to phone in and ask myself some questions about how I feel about things that are going on.

The moderator, me, will not allow any calls through that are deemed to contain material offensive to listeners, me mostly, unless of course they have been secretly planted by the producer, me, to support a point I am already going to make.

If you enjoy this programme and wish to support me, or people like me making programmes I agree with, please support me on Patreon and my MeFundMe page.

So Keith, let me start by asking myself how you are feeling about this new broadcast and whether this is just one of your joke blogs or if you are trying to make a serious point?

Thanks Keith. Well, as you know I believe humour is a way of making a serious point, so by mixing apparently spurious jokes with the odd moment of convincing sincerity I feel I am able to convey my message in a jocular manner.

Keith, would you say that generally your listeners do actually understand the point you are trying to get across? No Keith, because this isn’t a real radio programme so no one is listening except me. However, if you are asking about me, I would say I only partially know what I am trying to say because I am usually making it up as I go along. Though, if I want to be fair to myself, and I do, I generally have a theme in my head and expect anyone else to work out what that is.

What would you say was the theme of today’s blog Keith? You know Keith, I think I would answer by saying that you should work that out yourself.

Fair point. Before we take our first caller let me ask you what issues are currently at the forefront of our mind at the moment. OK. (Pause) What? You ask me what issues are at the forefront of my mind. Ah, thanks, so Keith, what issues are at the forefront of our mind at the moment?

The selfishness of mankind.

Right. I see. Ok, I hear we have a caller coming in, so we will break off for a moment to hear a message from one of our advertisers and then we will take the caller. Err, Keith. Yes Keith. We don’t have any advertisers. No, but I just wanted to put in a line that says “in 3, 2 1 seconds your programme will start again”. Why? Because it’s a subtle way of saying one of the things that pisses me off is the amount of advertising on social media and to ask, if these algorithms are so bloody clever why do I keep getting adverts for military hardware when I live in a country where they are illegal and even the police are usually unarmed?

So Keith, we have our first caller and his name is Keith. Good morning Keith, where are you calling from. Here. Yes, we know that but for the sake of our listener, where exactly? Chiswick. Thank you Keith, so what would you like to ask Keith? Thanks Keith, I would like to ask Keith what he actually means about the selfishness of mankind and could he give us an example.

Thanks Keith. When I answered that question I had in mind the abject failure of the world’s leaders to take the opportunity of this global pandemic to act cohesively for the welfare of humanity. Clearly, their collective inability to tackle what we might call the interests of the corporate industrial machine in ignoring the rapid destruction of the world’s environment via human induced climate change has been going on for decades but the sudden and clear threat of Covid-19 seemed like the perfect chance to act in harmony.

Instead we see countries and blocks acting only in the selfish interests of their own constituencies. From Trumpian USA and Johnsonian Britain to Bolsonarian Brazil and now, heartbreakingly and devastatingly, Modi’s India, we see leaders unable to make decisions clearly in the honest, best interests of the majority of their people.

Instead what we see is a mix of political opportunism, deceit, corruption and pandying to the privileged at the expense of the wider population. The corruption at the heart of the UK’s PPE contracts, the wealth accumulation of a small number of billionaires and now the sight of India’s ruling political elite being protected while millions are suffering and dying through a lack of basic infrastructure should be making everyone apoplectic with anger at the injustice of it all.

Keith, does that answer your question?

No. I was wondering whether Keith was referring to the controversy about the introduction of traffic calming measures and cycle lanes locally that is pandering to the selfishness of a minority of do-gooders at the expense of the majority of people who drive gas guzzling four by fours?

No, Keith. I wasn’t.

Thanks. But Keith, you have gone on record with your ‘Dick of the Week’ section of photographs of inconsiderate behaviour during the pandemic here in West London with a focus on drivers.

Well Keith. You are correct about that and since the spike in traffic following the easing of restrictions, I have noticed that we have enough mostly 4×4’s and white vans parking across the pedestrian crossing points at the corners of High Street junctions forcing pushchair and prams to actually go into the main road to cross a side street. This week I even saw a wheelchair having to negotiate the kerb and edge round a van parked irresponsibly.

Keith, why don’t you take a photograph and post it here to embarrass them? Because Keith, this is a radio phone in programme.

Yeh, fair point.
But Keith.
Yes Keith.
I have recently purchased a rocket launcher and a false beard so I can take my own remedial action! What do you think of that? Erm, well Keith, I thought you already had a beard.

Well Keith, that’s all we have time for today. I would like to thank our caller Keith and especially our guest for the day, Keith.

Thank you Keith, I am grateful for the opportunity to share my views with myself and agree with them without having any extraneous interruptions forcing me to consider views contrary to my own.

Well Keith, that’s what us Radio Phone in programmes are for, don’t you agree?

Next week, I will return to my blog, which I send to all my mates who have the same values as me and are not likely to be too horrible in response, as I am sensitive to criticism.

Thank you for that message Keith and for our listener Keith you can read Keith’s Blogs on Chiswick Calendar or on his website outsiderinside.co.uk and you can leave a comment but only if you are very nice as Keith moderates the comments and if you are horrible he will never ever talk to you again and will ban you from speaking at public events, but it wasn’t him that started the culture wars it was …….(Ed. That’s enough Keith. OK Keith)

So to close this morning’s show we are going to leave you with a song. This request has come in from Keith who asks can we play this for his friend Bridget who he knows will see the funny side.

Read more blogs by Keith

Read the previous one – My Corona – April is the cruellist month

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

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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.nbsp;

SW London Assembly candidate: Conservatives

In the run up to the 2021 local elections on 6 May, The Chiswick Calendar is interviewing the major contenders for the South West seat on the London Assembly.

Nicholas Rogers is hoping to retain the seat for the Conservatives by relying on his previous experience in the public service sector, which he says will translate well into a role on the Assembly.

See his interview with Matt Smith below.

Nicholas Rogers interview with The Chiswick Calendar

So Nicholas, I want to get a feel about who you are. Could you tell me a bit about your background and how long you’ve lived in the area?

“So I’m not originally from south west London, I’m from Kent where I was born and where I grew up. I moved to south west London about six years ago I think and we’re here because of my husband basically. His family have lived in Kingston for, we worked it out, well over 150 years! I’ve been coming here for years to see his family. We moved down and I’ve been in Surbiton ever since.”

What is it you do for a living? 

“I work in public transport, I’ve worked in railway operations basically for 10 years. I’ve been with Network Rail, I’ve been a manager of Waterloo Station and for five years or so I’ve been an incident controller, so I deal with any sort of accident, incident, emergency, anything like that that goes wrong on the railway network.”

What was it that made you want to get into politics?

“I’ve been interested in politics for some time. I’m a quite old fashioned person in some ways because I believe in public service. I feel if you have something to contribute you should step up and do so.

So I see standing for the Assembly as a way that I can use my real life experience in the railway and being a former special constable, being a community campaigner, I see the Assembly as being a good way to use those skills to step up and make our community in south west London the best it can be.”

Can you tell me about your candidacy platform?

“One of the main things I want to achieve is improving public transport and I want to use my experience to give me a sort of informed voice on that thing. In Chiswick that would mean, for example, fighting to get full service on the Piccadilly Line at Turnham Green which is I’m sure you well know is a massive issue to anyone who commutes in Chiswick.

“I also want to help reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and that’s using my experience as a former social constable to make sure that we have proper community policing and that the police are active and visible and out there in our neighbourhoods.

“I’m also keen to make sure that new development is appropriate as well. There’s been some, certainly in Hounslow borough, there’s been some examples of quite poor development so I think we need to make sure new development is beautiful and appropriate.”

Image above: Nicholas campaigning with Cllrs Sam Hearn and Joanna Biddolph

Realistically what do you think you can achieve as an assembly member? 

“It’s a scrutiny role, but I think being an assembly member is a unique role because you’re kind of pitched above the local, below the national and it gives you a platform and that’s the main thing, it’s how you use that platform.

“I would use that platform to be a champion for local communities. To engage in local issues, maybe issues which might be outside the remit for an assembly member but if they’re important to local people then I would be getting involved with them.”

What difference do you think you can make as an assembly member, I know the seat has been held by a Conservative for 21 years, would you do anything differently?

“Well I have my own approach, Tony Arbour has served south west London with honour for 21 years. Anyone who has interacted with him, any community group he has helped, is full of praise. Of course, I have my own approach, for example Tony doesn’t have a Twitter account whereas I do. I’d be active, visible and present in the lives of our communities here in south west London.”

Image above: Nicholas campaigning in Hounslow

And my final question is are you a better choice than any one of the other candidates, do you have anything to say about the other contenders?

“They are all, honestly I’ve been on hustings with my fellow candidates and they’re all decent public servants, their heart is all in the right place. If there’s anything that puts me ahead of them it’s my relevant, real-world experience, so going back to that stuff with the railway, my experience as a special constable and my experience setting up and running successful community groups. I think that’s what makes me stand out in this election.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: SW London Assembly candidate – Labour

See also: SW London Assembly candidate – The Green Party 

See also: SW London Assembly candidate – Liberal Democrats

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.

Andy Sands Photography – Slime Moulds

If you’ve ever looked close enough at a leaf or a log, you might have noticed the tiny extremities which Andy Sands now photographs in his spare time. These ‘Slime Moulds’, the informal name given to several kinds of fungi-like organisms, are the focus of Andy’s recent photography and have been featured in the BBC Science and Focus magazine.

Andy also owns and runs Chiswick Camera Centre he has had thousands of his wildlife pictures published, won competitions and received recognition at the highest level as a photographer of British wildlife. He has always had a life-long interest in natural history and wildlife from a young age, and he juggles running his camera shop with his passion for photographing the natural world.

Images above: Andy Sands in the wild, Andy’s shop – Chiswick Camera Centre

Humble beginnings

Initially Andy was not interested in working in retail or photography, but it was something he was almost forced into after leaving school.

“I came home in 1987 on the last day of school and my mum told I had to start paying rent, so I had to get a job. I went to a job centre, and there was a job at a camera shop in Watford where I lived. So I went along, got an interview and started on the Monday. I had no intention of ever working in retail and no interest in photography. I’m not quite sure what happened because that was 30 years ago and I’m still working in a camera shop.”

Andy learned his photography skills from colleagues in his first job, which he then combined with his love for wildlife.

“I focus on British wildlife specifically, the two tied well together. I’ve always had an interest in small things too, so macro photography and insects. Then I got very into fungi photography, and when you start looking for fungi you start to find what else is around too.”
Andy found these “weird very tiny things” which looked similar to mushrooms but were in fact ‘Slime Moulds’. He first discovered these slime moulds in the woods and began researching them. He discovered you can find them practically anywhere where there is organic material.
Most slime moulds are about a millimetre tall, so many people would never even notice they were there or think to look. Slime moulds to be formerly classified as fungi but are no longer considered part of that kingdom, which suits their almost alien appearance nicely.

Images above: Andy Sands examining Slime Moulds, Lamproderma Scintillans Slime Moulds on a twig 

‘Whatever you do think firstly of your walls’ William Morris

The Arts and Crafts movement is having a bit of a moment according to spring issues of home design magazines.

House & Garden features a London Edwardian home decorated by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s interior designer, Ben Pentreath and this and his own London flat are clad in William Morris wallpapers.

Emery Walker’s drawing room. Picture by Paul Highnam

Morris, who lived in Kelmscott House, Hammersmith, designed wallpapers with stylised fruit, flowers and foliage motifs expressing his love of nature, and his early designs also reflect his interest in medieval sources at the time.

They gained popularity in the 1880s and 1890s, but Morris’s work continues to inspire designers and decorators, as Sally Price at Insider Dealings, Chiswick High Road, confirms, ‘We have certainly noticed that Arts and Crafts is having a revival.  The hugely popular Ben Pentreath has recoloured Morris wallpapers which are very smart and relevant to today’s interiors. We also have various suppliers of bespoke wallpapers including some beautiful Arts and Crafts designs for those who want something a bit special’.

Could the current resurgence of this aesthetic, originally a response to industrialisation, be a reaction to digitisation and the pace of the modern world?

Wallflower, a rare design in Emery Walker’s House

William Morris extolled the virtues of the medieval guild producing good quality materials by skilled craftsmen and women. He translated these social and aesthetic aspirations to his wallpapers, rejecting roller printing which had been used increasingly since the 1840s,  in favour of hand-cut wallpaper blocks printed individually. Each part of this time-consuming process (only one colour could be printed a day, as it had to dry before the next block was applied) necessitated a team of skilled artisans.

Just across the W6/4 border is one of the most authentic Arts & Crafts interiors in the country, where small tours of just four visitors at a time are shown round Number 7 Hammersmith Terrace, the home of Emery Walker, a key member of the Arts and Crafts movement, and close friend of the Morris family.  This friendship is reflected on the walls which are decorated in original Morris & Co hand-blocked wallpapers.

Willow is in the dining room of Emery Walker’s house

Almost all of the six wallpapers you can now see at Emery Walker’s House are designs from William Morris’s most prolific creative period – the 1870s and 1880s.

Some designs at 7 Hammersmith Terrace are instantly recognisable. The Willow Bough, for instance, is perhaps best known for engulfing Mary Killen and Giles Wood as they watch TV on Gogglebox. Mary bought the wallpaper after she had written a feature on top taste brokers in London, and discovered a common thread had been that all ten had one room in their house decorated in the same William Morris pattern. “I immediately ordered it,” although Mary does admit, it does “make us look a bit obsessive.”

The Willow Bough has a tendency to take over – at Emery Walker’s House the pattern runs rampant up three flights of walls along the staircase as if seeking the sun at the top of the narrow, terraced house.

Emery Walker’s House reopens on May 29th for small, guided tours, prebooking essential at Emerywalker.org.uk.

Or discover more about Morris wallpaper with The Emery Walker’s House online talk this Saturday:

May 8th at 3pm Virtual Talk:  William Morris Wallpapers

A master-colourist, William Morris was a one-man pattern-making phenomenon, blessed, according to his daughter May, with a ‘god-given gift’ for creating harmonious and beautiful designs.  And his wallpapers were not only the most commercially successful aspect of his company’s work, they also helped fulfil his ambition to bring art and beauty into ordinary homes.  This lecture explores the history and production of Morris’s work within the wider context of Victorian wallpaper design.

Joanna Banham is a freelance curator, lecturer and writer, and was formerly Head of Adult Programmes at the Victoria and Albert Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain and the Royal Academy of Arts.

Book online here.

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.

SW London Assembly candidate: Liberal Democrats

In the run up to the 2021 local elections on 6 May, The Chiswick Calendar is interviewing the major contenders for the South West seat on the London Assembly.

Gareth Roberts, the Liberal Democrat candidate for the seat, is already a pretty well established face in SW Londons politics. Gareth is a the leader of Richmond council and believes his experience in politics qualifies him for the seat on the assembly.

See his interview with Matt Smith below.

Gareth Roberts interview with The Chiswick Calendar

Gareth Roberts Can you tell me a bit about your background Gareth, and how long you’ve lived in the area?

“Well I’ve lived in south west London since I went to university which was in the last millennium and that was at St Mary’s where I read classics and history, so that would have been the early 90s. I came down from Derby and never really left because it was just a step back and if you’ve ever been to Derby you’d know why.

“So I stayed down here, got a job and I’ve been involved in local politics for the last 10 or 12 years.”

And what is it you do for a living?

“Being Leader of the council is a full time job at the moment but my background is in market research. Rather than do the research itself we were the people who facilitated the research, so all of those people with clipboards in the street. Not the ones who ask you for money because they’re pains in the backside but the ones who will invite you in to test three different types of new Mars bar variants or something. So I effectively arranged for those people go to and harass other people on the street so I apologise for that.

And what made you want to change from that and go into politics?

“Well it wasn’t so much as I wanted to change, it was we won the election in 2018 and there was a job to be done so obviously duty called. We still keep our hands in, my wife does market research too so I’m able to do a small amount of work with her company, but it is a full time job being leader of the council at the moment.”

Can you tell me a little bit about your candidacy platform?

“Yes of course. Well, there are some key issues we need to get right in south west London because it is a very nice place to live. It’s full of very nice neighbourhoods, very nice locations and is historically one of the lower-crime areas of the capital.

“But what we have of course is a shortage of police and that’s something which is an ongoing trend both under Boris Johnson and Sadiq Khan, and really to be honest also under Ken Livingstone which was sort of the whittling away. When I first became a councillor, each ward in Richmond had a dedicated ward sergeant and then slowly and inexorably you would find two wards shared sergeants and then three and now I think there are some places where you’re up to four or five.

“What we need to do is get back to the idea of community policing. Having a proper, decent structure of police which is going to serve the needs of local people because, even if the police do an excellent job locally, one of the main complaints I hear as Leader of the council is that we just don’t see the police on the streets as much as we used to and that’s what we need to have.

“Because one of the key competences of the London Assembly is to hold the Mayor to account on his policing promises, we have to make sure we are getting a fair deal for south west London and that we’re not just going to see all of the new officers posted within zones 1-3 which is what Mayors of London always seem to do, they forget that London continues beyond zone 3. So that is one of the key planks but obviously there is going to be support for businesses and energising and revitalising the high streets.

“And also lobbying and influencing the decisions of the Assembly to make sure that once again SW London is getting a a fair share of the funding because we provide a large amount money that goes into City Hall because we cover three of the 32 boroughs. If we are going to be sending one tenth of the money we have to make sure it doesn’t all sit in the centre and to make sure that money is coming back into this area, especially if we are going to be living in this this post-pandemic world where fewer people are going into the city on a daily basis then we need to make sure those services are there for them.”

Image above: Gareth (right) campaigning in Richmond

What difference do you think make realistically as an assembly member?

“I think all of the difference is the key thing, because for the last 21 years we’ve had a London Assembly member who’s effectively appeared with all the frequency of the Brigadoon. He will turn up at election time and then you’ll never hear from him again.

“I’ve been going door to door to various households campaigning and when I meet somebody who is a staunch Conservative the one question I will always ask is: Who’s your London Assembly member for south west London? And I think three people so far have been able to tell me what his name is, even though he’s represented them and taken those Tory votes for the last 21 years.

“So what difference can I make? All the difference. I will be visible, I will be someone who stands up for south west London and if there is an issue such as Hammersmith Bridge, Stamford Brewery, the Osterley Tesco development, you’ll hear from me. I will speak out for residents, I won’t always agree with everything they have to say because that’s the worst sort of politician in my view, the constant yes-man who moves with public opinion and just being terribly populist. However they certainly will have a voice, that’s the thing and that’s something which has been denied to them over 21 years of neglect.

“Another thing I can offer is experience, again this is going to be a two horse race between the Lib Dem’s and the Conservatives. Labour certainly have a base but only in Hounslow and both the Lib Dems and the Conservatives have got bases in Kingston and Richmond.

“The Conservative candidate, whilst a nice guy, lacks any real political experience and in a chamber of just 25 members, if you’re going to send someone into city hall to stand up the Mayor and to get something done for your local area, you need to send somebody who knows what he’s doing, who’s got political experience. This isn’t the time for work experience, it’s somebody who needs to someone who’s sensible and has experience governing south west London.

Image above: Vote Liberal Democrats signs in SW London

I see, well you’ve kind of eaten into my final question which is how are you a better choice than any one of the other candidates, do you have anything to say about the other contenders?

“Well first and foremost, let me take them in turn. I think that really, for Andrée Frieze has said that she is unlikely to win and I think that we can win we have the data to prove it because we went through 2017, 2018 and 2019 first past the post elections and we saw the Liberal Democrats gradually moving up into first place and then we had the 2019 European elections and again we were first place then. It’s an opportunity to not have another four years of a Conservative candidate and I’m the person who could beat them.

“In terms of Labour, I’m sure that Candice is perfectly nice and capable however she does not have the experience that the time requires. I sit on various committees including the leader’s committee of London councils and I know what it takes by working across party. What you will get with the Labour candidate is somebody who will be in the pocket of, it looks to be Sadiq Khan who’s going to in, you’ll get somebody in the pocket of Sadiq Khan and if you vote for the Conservative candidate you’re going to get someone who is soul aim will be to nip nip nip, quibble quibble quibble and not work constructively.

“If you elect me, then you’ll have somebody who will be a seasoned, experienced political operator and somebody who will both work with and offer challenge to whoever is Mayor after May the 6th. Because that’s what we need, it cannot just be somebody who is in the pocket of a Labour mayor or somebody who’s going to offer nothing but opposition to a Labour mayor, if of course Sadiq Khan is elected which does, unfortunately, look likely.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: SW London Assembly candidate – Labour

See also: SW London Assembly candidate – The Green Party 

See also: SW London Assembly candidate – Conservatives

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.

SW London Assembly candidate: The Green Party

In the run up to the 2021 local elections on 6 May, The Chiswick Calendar is interviewing the major contenders for the South West seat on the London Assembly.

The Green Party’s candidate, councillor Andrée Frieze, is hoping to rack up some votes by prioritising the climate crisis and, what she describes, as London’s housing affordability crisis. Andrée has worked closely with the current Green Assembly Members in City Hall – Sian Berry and Caroline Russell.

See her interview with Matt Smith below.

Andrée Frieze interview with The Chiswick Calendar

Andree FriezeWhat is your background and how long have you lived in the area?

“I’ve lived in Kingston for 20 years, but I actually moved to Twickenham as a teenager back in 1984 so I’ve known this area on and off for nearly 40 years, it’s my home, my dad still lives in Twickenham. My two sons have gone to the local school, my younger son is still at Grey Court.

“I’m a trustee at the educational fund at Grey Court and I’ve been a governor of a couple of primary schools in the area and I volunteer at the Ham Parade Market. I volunteer with the Ham & Petersham SOS which is a not-for profit organisation which helps elderly people in the area and I also volunteer in the Ham & Petersham Neighbourhood Forum.

“I’m very involved in my local area, I’m also an elected councillor in Richmond and I have been since 2018.”

Do you have another job?

“I used to be a journalist up until 2014. I worked in the homes and interiors industry so I worked for magazines and something called the Home and Holidays document on the Sunday Mirror. My last job was Ideal Home which is the best-selling interiors magazine on the market.

“Then in 2014 I left for various reasons, journalism was changing a lot and I needed to spend more time with my children. Then I was also looking at getting involved in politics. I’ve worked for a couple of not-for-profits in the environmental sector.

“I’ve been working at City Hall for the last 18 months, supporting the current, or the previous, two [Green] assembly members Sian Berry and Caroline Russell. So I’ve been writing briefs for them, writing speeches and articles for them, doing their case work, basically being a civil servant. I’ve seen City Hall from the inside and I’ve helped them prepare for Mayor’s Question Time and all the different committees they sit on – so I understand how the London Assembly works from the inside.

What made you want to get into politics?

“I guess I found it really hard that after the crash, we got the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government and the blame was being put on poor people. Labour was blamed for causing the crash when it was the bankers that caused the crash.”

“We had austerity which made people pay for the crash caused by bankers and the financial system; we had the bedroom tax; people with disabilities were losing their allowances, then we had sanctions put on and Universal Credit where people were losing money and losing support and it makes me very angry.

“At the same time successive governments have done so little on the climate crisis and that has always been a big passion for me. I’ve been a member of Friends of the Earth since I was 18. We need to put the planet and the people at the heart of it, not the economy. 

“One of my lines that I always say is ‘we can’t keep asking the wrong people to do the right things’ because the Conservatives, they care about big business and Labour care about the unions and jobs. So if you want the climate crisis to be dealt with you have to ask the Green Party people to do that.”

Image above: Andrée protesting outside Kingston station

What is your platform?

“Our platform is very much about tackling air pollution we need to ensure that it is dealt with. Bringing in more measures for walking and cycling across the whole of London, protecting the green belt, all the usual kind of things you’d expect from the Green Party.

“Protecting social housing by trying to stop demolition, we need to lobby to stop Right to Buy because we can’t keep losing council houses. At the moment we have a net loss of council houses each year in London. We don’t have a housing crisis in London we have an affordability crisis. So we need to put in proper housing policies that deal with the affordability crisis, which means bringing in proper social housing and housing for key workers. 

“We need to bring in rent controls too. We will build homes on brownfield land – not Metropolitan Open Land or Green Belt. On transport, we will bring down the cost of travel outside zone two – by scrapping outer London fare zones and on the environment, we will fight for action on the climate emergency so we can create the greenest city in the world.”

What do you think you can achieve as an assembly member? 

“Having worked on the inside, I can tell you that as an assembly member it is difficult to actually have real concrete achievements because the role of an assembly member is to hold the mayor to account.”

“But within that there’s still much you can do, so the current assembly members have written reports and submitted research – one thing Sian Berry has done that she’s focussed on massively has been to look at youth services across the city and how they’ve been cut. She persuaded the Mayor to put £70 million of funding back into youth services. So that’s a key example of things you can do.

“I think what I would want to do is build on the work that Sian and Caroline have done and housing is a key focus of mine. Sian sits on the housing committee and a lot of money is spent on putting people into temporary accommodation and we know that people who live in overcrowded accommodation were worst affected by the pandemic. So we desperately need to sort out that housing crisis and that is one area I will absolutely be focusing on – trying to stop the loss of council housing and change the affordability of housing our city.”

Image above: Andrée (left) campaigning with The Green Party’s Mayoral candidate Sian Berry (centre)

Why should voters choose you over the other candidates?

“Well, for one I would say my experience as councillor. I understand a lot about how politics works, how you can bring pressure to bear, I’ve done casework, sat on committees and those kind of things so I have the experience as an elected councillor that I can then take up to the assembly.

“But also the fact that I’ve worked there for the last 18 months means I know how the system works, I know the people who work there, I know how the committee structure works and I know all the systems that enable you to put pressure on [the Mayor].

“Another thing I want to do is to bring the voices of people into City Hall. One big thing I keep hearing about is that communities are not getting any say over housing developments. Developers get too much access to the Mayor. One thing I would really work on will be trying to make sure that communities have access to the planning department so that we can have community led development and green development.

“Build back better rather than have developer led housing across the capital.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: SW London Assembly candidate – Labour

See also: SW London Assembly candidate – Conservatives

See also: SW London Assembly candidate – Liberal Democrats

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.

SW London Assembly candidate: Labour

In the run up to the 2021 local elections on 6 May, The Chiswick Calendar is interviewing the major contenders for the South West seat on the London Assembly.

Hounslow councillor, Candice Atterton, is standing for The Labour Party. She says she hopes to utilise her passion for working to better young people’s lives to flip the seat to Labour for the first time in two decades, in what she says is a two horse race between her and the Conservative candidate, Nicholas Rogers.

See her interview with Matt Smith below.

Candice Atterton interview with The Chiswick Calendar

Candice AttertonJust to start off Candice, I was hoping you could tell me a little bit about your background and how long you’ve lived in SW London?

“I grew up in Leeds and I went to university in Manchester and moved down to London after I graduated. I’ve been here almost 18 years and moved because my husband, fiancee at the time, is from down here.

“My first job was at Hounslow Council and I worked for Hounslow youth offending service. But prior to moving down to London, even in my late teens, I started doing youth work, mostly through my church.

“Alongside university I was part of a youth and community project. I saw a lot of domestic violence and anti-social behaviour. I was doing detached social work, meeting kids from all kinds of different backgrounds, lots of them getting into trouble with the police.

“I left university thinking I always want to live and work in areas where there’s a lot of deprivation and I want to try and make a difference.

“When I moved down here and got a job on the youth offending team on Hounslow Council, we chose to live in Hanworth where I got involved in youth work on the Butts Farm Estate. I was seeing more and more that the challenges were structural issues, with people trapped in poverty and inequality. I can make small differences doing youth work and community work with these people but really I want to try and challenge some of the things that get them into the problems in the first place.

Is that still what you do for a living?

“Now I work in Feltham young offenders and I work for Bernardos charities which is a children’s rights and advocacy role.

“A couple of years ago I did a masters in global health and that’s where I sort of found my first love again for the children that get involved in the criminal justice system. At the time there was lots of press on serious youth violence and I was wanting to do something about that.”

Image above: Candice in a promotional image for the SW London Assembly election

Are your experiences what made you want to get into politics?

“Definitely yeah. So going back to the Butts Farm estate in Hanworth where I lived for 14 years, it was that which really made me think I want to change things upstream and try to figure out why these people are in crisis in the first place.

“It was around 2010 when Labour lost the election, we got the coalition government and I was shouting at the TV about stuff and I decided I can’t just shout at the TV I need to try and do something.

Can you tell me a bit about your candidacy platform?

“It’s probably quite clear already that my first love is for young people, I have a huge passion for young people. One of the things I would want to achieve is to get a really good, strong offer to young people. London is the greatest, possibly in the world, but we still see so many young people that are not thriving and making the most of all the great opportunities we have in the south west.

“There are kids that I work with in Hanworth who’ve never even been to central London. I worked with a young girl and took her on the tube for the first time and she was terrified because she had never travelled on the tube, she’d never been to the Thames.

“So there are children in London who’s worlds are very small and mostly spend time on the estate where they live and go to school.

“A big thing for me too is that I’d love to work with Sadiq Khan. I really am pleased with the Young Londoners Fund that has been set up and that has really plugged some of the gaps. It’s been really hard being a Hounslow councillor and seeing the cuts and the decisions we have had to make because we have faced massive cuts as local councils and I’ve been part of some of that decision making.

“I would also really like to work with Sadiq around tackling serious youth violence. Sadiq has incorporated all of the violence against women and girls work into his violence reduction unit, and I’d love to do some work around that and making sure people know how to get support.

Image above: Candice attends a meeting with Hounslow Youth Counselling Service with Dr Rosena Allin Khan MP

And if you were elected as an Assembly member realistically I know you have these goals but what do you think you’d be able to achieve?

“I definitely think around this offer for young people I think I can achieve that, even if it’s just some clear communication around belonging. I think I would really want children and young people in the south west to know that they’ve got an assembly member who cares about them, who wants them to know that this is their area, their city and they should have full access.

The seat has been held by a Conservative for 21 years. What difference do you think you can make as an assembly member, would you do anything differently?

“Well the community engagement is really important to me. I’ve lived here for 18 years and I’ve never heard from Tony Arbour, he’s never knocked on my door, never put a leaflet through my door, never sent a newsletter to me. What I’ve learnt from all the canvassing that I’ve been doing is that it is a huge area, it’s not as easy to get around as say a constituency. But in 21 years I would like to think that I’d be a bit more known than Tony Arbour.

“Another big area of need is the green agenda, I’m really passionate about green issues and really proud of Sadiq’s record so far. I think he has some really brilliant ambitions for cleaning the air even more, protecting our green spaces and encouraging walking and cycling. I would want to be pushing for us to go even further and I do think some of that requires lobbying and supporting City Hall to really lobby the Government to put money into the south west to improve cycle infrastructure and more affordable transport, protecting the Freedom Pass for older people and free travel for young people.

My final question is, why are you a better choice than any of the other candidates, do you have anything to say about the other contenders?

“I’ve talked to a lot of them we’ve been in hustings and things like that now. Everyone has got good things to bring to the role, but I think I’ve got the personal, professional and political experience. I was from a working class background and had opportunities through school, through community and through faith groups that meant I didn’t end up as some statistics that might have been expected based on my childhood.

“I understand some of the troubles people are going through in London, but even coming from a certain background we did have security of housing and I really see how housing is important and if that’s not available to you how it impacts on your health and well-being.

“My professional experience is obviously around young people and around youth justice, young offenders and public health such as obesity, drugs and alcohol, sexual health, mental health which are the big areas of work I’ve been involved in.

“I’ve also had opportunities to lead the council, make decisions and I’ve chaired the Housing, Environment & Scrutiny Panel. The role of an assembly member is a lot of scrutinising so I have experience of that too.

“I think the Green candidate is brilliant but if you want a green assembly member in south west London then you need to vote Labour, it is essentially a two-horse race. If you don’t want the Tories than you need to vote Labour.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: SW London Assembly candidate – Liberal Democrats

See also: SW London Assembly candidate – The Green Party 

See also: SW London Assembly candidate – Conservatives

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.

Italian guitar maestro Antonio Forcione gives concert in Chiswick

Image above: Antonio Forcione; photograph Anna Kunst

The Chiswick Calendar has pulled off something of a coup – at least our Jazz aficionado / promoter partner Larry Pryce has.

Antonio Forcione is a world famous, multi award winning Italian guitar maestro who just happens to live in Chiswick. He doesn’t usually play locally, but he will be giving a concert for us on Thursday 11 November as part of our Jazz at George IV programme.

He’s put together something very special for us: “Motown and Magic”, a vibrant and original blend of jazz, Latin, African, flamenco and soul sounds where he will be performing songs by Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, The Beatles and Sting as well as original numbers of his own.

“The most appealing aspects of Forcione’s show are its rampant eclecticism and good humour” wrote the Guardian about one of his shows. Be prepared to both laugh and be moved as he celebrates the unexpected elements in life with delicacy, humour, and passion.

Image above: Antonio Forcione; photograph Anna Kunst

Antonio has been travelling the world for over two decades and has released 20 albums, collaborating with many major artists. The last one, with Secku Keita and Adriano Adewale, ‘Joy’, won Best World Music Album in the 2019 One World Music Awards.

“Antonio takes the guitar to new levels of expression and his numerous awards around the world are a testimony to his genius”, says Larry.

“Forcione boldly goes where no guitarist has gone before and the results are quite spectacular.” ….. The Stage.

Antonio has toured the world over, from Australia and Hong Kong to Russia, the Caribbean, USA and all over Europe, where he has shared the international stage with some of the world’s most accomplished musicians, his albums variously topping UK and international jazz charts.

“Forcione is mesmerizing ….. passion, grace and fire” ….. The Times.

He spends a lot of his time in Cuba, where he’s been making a video documentary about the traditional music of Cuba, but you can catch him in Chiswick on Thursday 11 November.

Book tickets here: eventbrite.co.uk

For the whole programme of Jazz at George IV gigs this summer – Jazz at the Musicals with the Jo Harrop trio, Shireen Francis and the Small Island trio, Giulio Romano Latin jazz trio, The Blues Engineers, Gypsy Jazz exponents Trio Manouche, New Orleans Jazz pianist Dom Pipkin and The Ikos trio, Stealing Dan & Don, The Mississippi Swamp Dogs, Barb Jungr sings Leonard Cohen, the Sarah Moule trio celebrates Duke Ellington and Billie Strayhorn, Fallen Heroes, the Joanna Eden Band and more … have a look at our Jazz at George IV pages.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Al Fresco theatre at Syon Park

See also: Life Lessons at Chiswick House

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.

Woman’s body recovered from Brentford canal identified by residents

Image above: Eva’s photograph, posted on the Brentford Friends’ Facebook group

A woman’s body has been recovered from a canal in Brentford on Tuesday 27 April. She has been identified by local residents as a woman called Eva, who was homeless.

Police were called at 6.48 am on Tuesday to the Grand Union Canal near Transport Avenue, to reports of a body in the water. Metropolitan Police officers attended the scene along with paramedics, an incident response officer and the hazardous area response team.

Police said her death was being treated as unexplained but not suspicious and she was yet to be identified formally.

Members of the Facebook group Brentford Friends have paid tribute to Eva. It is believed she was homeless and lived along the towpath. Residents recognised her from living there over a number of years. Leigh Carrigan said:

So sad, knew Eva from walking the towpath for years. There are a group of guys that I used to fear would hurt her. Offered many times to pay for a ticket home to escape the life Eva had ended up being in. Rest in peace Eva, you’re safe now.’

Eva’s photograph was posted on the Friends’ Facebook group.

Image above: Police and paramedics at the scene where Eva’s body was recovered (Photo: Steve Haskett).

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Ravenscourt Park Farmers Market will defy council and continue

See also: Thousands march on Ealing Council demanding end to LTNs

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.

Al Fresco theatre at Syon Park

Events companies have been trying to work out Covid-proof entertainment that they can plan ahead, that they can deliver outside in a socially distanced way without fear of it being cancelled. Where there’s a will there’s a way!

Al Fresco theatre at Syon Park in June, like its sister event to Pub in the Park at Chiswick House in September, offers outside entertainment with gourmet food from ‘some of the most exciting and well-known chefs in the UK’.

With this event you drive in, park in your socially distanced spot and have your food brought to you in your car, or picnic outside the car while you enjoy theatre, comedy, music or a movie.

Wednesday 9 – Sunday 13 June.

Entertainment

Comedy

Mark Watson’s Carpool Comedy Club on Friday 11 June at 6.00 pm and 9.00 pm presents Nina Conti, Mark Watson and Ivo Graham.

Nina Conti is an outstanding talent, an actor and a stand up comedian whose television credits include Live at the Apollo, Comic Relief and Russell Howard’s Good News. She appears with her puppets Granny and Monkey. She’s actually a pretty good ventriloquist, though as she says on Twitter, these days you wouldn’t know it!

Mark Watson is a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has performed at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival as well.

“I’m really excited that Carpool Comedy Club is back” he says. “We had a great time last year, bringing live comedy safely to the Drive & Dine tour, and we were overwhelmed both by the demand and by the response from audiences”.

Ivo Graham was the youngest ever winner of So You Think You’re Funny in 2009 and was snapped up straight away by the biggest talent agency in the UK, Off the Kerb. He has also become a regular at the Edinburgh Festival. His television appearances include Live at the Apollo, Mock the Week, Russell Howard’s Stand Up Central and Richard Osman’s House of Games.

Live music

The Bootleg Beatles are performing on Saturday 12 June at 6.00 and 9.00 pm. They are “off the scale fabulous” according to Rdio Two preenter Chris Evans. Jonathan Ross has declared them “Terriffic” and even the Liverpool Echo – surely the severest of critics – reckon they’re ‘Glorious’.

Children’s theatre

The Gruffalo is live on stage at 12.00 and 2.30 pm on Sunday 13 June. Join Mouse on a daring adventure through the deep, dark wood in Tall Stories’ magical, musical adaptation of the classic picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

Drive-in movies

The film programme includes all time favourites Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Dirty Dancing along with more recent films Bohemian Rhapsody and JoJo Rabbit. They also have two sing-along films in the schedule: The Greatest Showman and Grease.

Food

Foodwise, we’re looking at exclusive dishes and menu crafted by  some of the most  exciting, talented and well-known chefs in the UK – including Tom Kerridge, Rick Stein, Atul Kochhar, Paul Ainsworth and Jason Atherton

‘Brand new for 2021, The Alfresco Theatre Drive-in Tour (from the creators of Pub in the Park) has revealed the hottest line-up of UK chefs that will be bringing tasty dishes to your town this summer!

‘The Alfresco Theatre team have created the ultimate travelling restaurant; The Alfresco Diner with superstar chefs Tom Kerridge, Rick Stein, Atul Kochhar, Paul Ainsworth and Jason Atherton all joining forces to create an exclusive menu of one-off, not-to-be-missed dishes.

‘The band of travelling chefs will be bringing fantastic food and good times to six locations across the UK, for a highly anticipated weekend of excitement and much needed fun. The Alfresco Diner is the only place in the UK you’ll be able to taste these incredible dishes this summer – all while enjoying a live show, comedy gig or big-screen movie! The mouth-watering menu will be revealed in the coming weeks and will be available to pre-book ahead of arrival at your chosen Alfresco show.

Tom Kerridge:

“I’m so excited to be working with some great pals and top chefs to bring a lush menu to The Alfresco Theatre Drive-in Tour. We all deserve a bit of fun this summer and I can’t wait for everyone to dig into some great food whilst watching some quality live gigs!”

Jason Atherton:

“We’ve all missed digging into some fantastic food over the past year, and I’m so excited to be working with other amazing chefs to bring such a great menu to the tour. I can’t wait for everyone to experience the dishes we’ve created, whilst watching some brilliant live entertainment!”

BOOK TICKETS

Book tickets to Al Fresco theatre at Syon Park here: thealfrescotheatre.co.uk

This page is paid for by Al Fresco theatre.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Pub in the Park tickets now on sale

See also: Chiswick in blossom – Photogallery

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.

 

Man in the Middle 65: I drink therefore I am

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 65: I drink therefore I am

The catkins are hanging off the willows and lolling on the walls of the houses on the Mall, thick as butcher’s fingers and yellow as nicotine. Spring is here.

I’m pondering nothing very much as I potter along the river towards a piss-up with pals in a pub in Putney when the sun and the scent of the sap seeping from the buds on the trees start to stir up my imagination.

I’m not saying I’m having an apotheosis like Wordsworth in a field of Lake District daffodils or about to go all weepy and whiny about my wasted life like ‘Ozymandias’, after a basin full of laudanum.

Of course, not. After all, this is only the Thames path, not nature red in tooth and claw, or even Richmond Park. But the fresh air and sap has got me thinking.

I’m in the sort of trance you get just after the third pint of lager or Aperol Spritz kicks in, on a summer’s day. I’m filled with the peace which comes from graciously laughing at a friend’s joke, even though you’ve heard it 42 times before and never, ever, ever found it funny. (This is a feeling familiar to wives and women in long standing relationships, apparently).

The trance is throwing up big questions, too. If I have a problem with my tax code should I call my accountant or Boris Johnson? Will the Human Tissue Authority be willing to take my body for medical science or will I have to pay them to take it as the children suggested last night? Trickiest of all: am I pointless?

This last question, which lurks in the mind of every aging male Boomer as they find themselves stranded above the high tide mark of their careers and libidos, is the easiest to answer.

No, no yet.

Why? Because if I have two mates willing to put up with me for a couple of hours, then I have meaning. It doesn’t matter if I’m to be the only person in history to pay his way into the medical morgue at the Human Tissue Authority or that I don’t have the PMs personal number to call when things get taxing.

As long as someone’s willing to meet you for a drink, even if it’s only for a single round of schnapps, YOU are not pointless.

As long as there’s a campfire somewhere where other people will bear with you while you roast some old chestnuts, there’s an alternative to the despair of the local MAMILs bike club and Sundays spent in padded lycra shorts.

Ergo Bibendum sum. I drink therefore I am. QED.

A few days ago, I watched a TV programme about Socrates, the Greek philosopher, and I wonder if his rigorous approach to logic and problem solving has rubbed off on me? Is it possible that with ‘ergo bibendum sum’, I’ve moved western philosophy forward an inch or two? It may have taken me some time to have a serious thought about life, but Socrates left some of his best thinking to the end of his life, maybe I have too?

‘I don’t get it,’ says one friend, after I explain my philosophical epiphany to them, at the pub.

‘What he’s saying is that life is more bearable with friends,’ says the other.

‘And booze?’ asks the first.

‘Sounds like Epicurus to me,’ says the second, trying to sound positive.

‘It’s more than that?’ I reply.

‘Is it?’

They both look at me. It’s clear that they are not as excited by my towpath epiphany as I am. In fact, they don’t seem to get it at all. They’re looking at me benevolently bemused. It’s a look I see on my wife’s face quite often.

‘When you said campfire were you being literal?’ asks one of them.

‘It was a metaphor for human conviviality,’ I say, beginning to get frustrated.

‘Oh. Got it.’

There’s a pause as I soak up the fact that my idea is nothing new nor any great shakes. In fact, I realise it’s probably too late to have any new or original ideas, at all, at my age. The scent of blossoming nature conned me.

‘Time for another?’ I ask.

‘Why not,’ says the other.

‘Same again?’ says one friend, the only one who has managed to download the pub’s app.

‘Do you think we should take up bowls?’ says one, looking around.

‘Cheaper than golf,’ says the other.

‘There’s a novel idea,’ I say, getting excited again. ‘Let’s order some chasers while we chat it through.’

Read more blogs by James Thellusson

Read the previous one – Man in the Middle 64: Should men wear Alice bands

See all James’s Man in the Middle blogs here

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

My Corona – April is the cruellist month

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. 

“April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.”

T S Eliot

When T S Eliot wrote his opening to The Waste Land he was pondering the cycle of death and rebirth, fertility and sterility and the impotence of desire. I, on the other hand, was thinking more about how bloody cold it has been sitting in pub gardens drinking much-anticipated pints held in shivering hands.

What weird weather has accompanied our return to the first stages of what I am compelled to call normality! Clearly, in climate terms, there will be no more normality as we are increasingly exposed to the impact of the impending catastrophe caused by the behaviour of humanity over the centuries. The luxury of a warm sun contrasts with an unseasonably bitter wind that has seen frost and even snow showers across the country.

This dry cold wind and lack of traditional April showers has resulted in dry scorched earth to the extent that Northern Ireland’s Mourne mountains have been aflame while, at the same time, plummeting night time temperatures have been devastating vines throughout Europe. As I have shown the poor tadpoles in the Ravenscourt Park nature pond have almost no water left to swim in.

While changes in weather patterns have major implications, my selfish concerns are more immediate. What am I going to wear down the pub? One minute the warm sun has me loosening scarves and stripping off layers but then as soon as the sun goes behind a cloud I am thinking of putting on a woolly hat and switching my pint for a bowl of soup.

Apart from my personal dress code this weather makes life tricky for publicans and eatery proprietors. One only has to walk down a daytime High Road to see any place with tables in the sunshine are jam packed while those in the shade on the other, southern, side of the road, are not. Many places have spent a great deal of money to prepare for the new regulations including new outdoor furniture, heaters and compliant inside toilets and so on.

Any evening walk along the same route is very different as only the most stoic of customers are still willing to face the drop in temperatures later than about 8.00 pm. Although the lifting of some social restrictions he has meant a bumper couple of weeks for many venues, as the novelty wears off, volumes are already settling down. Daytime trade is visible at those pubs able to maximise outdoor seating as crowds around The Roebuck and The Crown attest and I am told the sheltered gardens of those pubs and the George IV are also full.

The Raven has also invested in additional pavement seating and has opened up its conservatory to allow it to comply and again being busier in the daytime than in the evening. Country pubs, now available to locals or those willing to escape the city report the same pattern and many are actually closing at 9.00 pm. the weather is going to be a great deal warmer than it is now for us to be more Mediterranean in our socialising behaviour.

So, replete with my dress code of ‘layer maximisation’: jacket on, jacket off, zipper up, zipper down ad infinitum, I have wandered out everyday. Even so I have got it wrong a couple of times, having been fooled by that afternoon glow so that by eight o clock I am almost spilling my pint held in shivering hands.

Oh Boy, I have been enjoying this newfound freedom! Of course, as referenced by last week’s joy at extra roasties and gravy at The Raven a full roast was a priority. I have also been able to enjoy a stroll along the river down from Richmond for a pint at The Crown near St Margaret’s. They are one of the few pubs this way that serve ‘Shere Drop’ the Surrey Hills Brewery’s nectar. I have even been able to take a day trip to visit friends down near Billingshurst in West Sussex, take a stroll through woods with a carpet of late blooming bluebells, have tea and Jane’s homemade cake in their garden and have a pint in their local, The Lime Burners.

Talking of pubs. I stumbled across this 1943 US Army training video explaining to ‘Yankee’ soldiers how to behave themselves in a British pub.

Fascinating in itself it made me think. At first I smiled and thought how things had changed. However on my second viewing I paused. Sure, trendy Soho multi-gender identity bars and pickle-juice swilling Shoreditch Hipster hangouts are hardly comparable but is this 1940’s picture really that different to the kind of local pubs I extoll in these blogs? The narrator (recognise him? *) says early on that a pub is ‘not a saloon, but is more like a club.…..where people don’t drink for the sake of drinking but for the company’. Well, its not completely true but I understand where he is coming from.

Pubs were still very similar to this when I grew up with little food except pickled eggs and the occasional sandwich. Our parents were not really pub people but on holidays on the south coast in the ‘60’s my sister and I would have sat outside with a soft drink (later I was allowed half of cider) and a packet of crisps with the little screw of blue paper with salt in. Some pubs had a children’s room or it would be in the garden or a bench outside. The beer was pretty flat then though, just as it looks in the picture. I would say any pub today would not survive if it did not keep its ale in better shape than was wont in those days.

Anyway, back to post pandemic today. I haven’t restricted my self to alcohol on my jolly jaunts. Having breakfast on the Ritz’s new out door furniture and coffee on the side bench that is in the sun at Parle Pantry are signs that life after Covid is becoming visible though we are not there yet. April is still a cruel month in that it hints of better days to come. Our better days are still dependant on preventing another wave.

The horrors that we see of the suffering in India should remind us that we need to remain vigilant. Those of us that have had our second jab can relax a little but not completely. It is not a 100% guarantee, there are potentially new variants out there and many people are still to be vaccinated at all.

Just as Eliot said, I have the memory of and a desire to return to a full social life. I am enjoying the first green shoots, lilacs or otherwise, of a ‘normal’ life but just as our unseasonal frosty nights have withered early crops so too is there a chance of a cruel return to a crisis. Stay safe.

*Burgess Meredith who become famous as The Penguin in the original Batman TV series.

Meanwhile, if you are still pondering whether to leave the warm, safe confines of your living room I leave you with Mike Sarne and Wendy Richard. “Come Outside” ……. There’s a luvverly moon out there……

Read more blogs by Keith

Read the previous one – My Corona – Feeling grateful

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

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Chiswick has a new mural

A mural of the singer and songwriter Eva Lazarus has been painted on the wall next to the Villa Di Geggiano restaurant.

The ‘Spring’ artwork was created from a photoshoot by the street artist Zabou, who then hand-painted the edited picture onto the wall.

Zabou is a French street artist based in London. She creates large-scale murals mainly focusing on realistic portraits. She travels and paints “to make the world a more colourful place, one wall at a time”.

Villa De Geggiano said of the mural on Twitter:

‘Celebrating Spring with our new resident artist @zabouartist who painted the outside wall, making it a colourful place for us and our wonderful neighbours to enjoy. The subject is the highly talented @EvaLazarus who has recorded at Metropolis’.

Images above: Eva Lazarus

Zabou’s art

Working mostly with spray paint, Zabou creates large-scale black and white portraits with colourful backgrounds. Her artworks are both striking and thought-provoking, and focus on the expression and emotions of her subjects. She says she likes to push visual and spatial boundaries, sometimes creating playful pieces.

Zabou explores a variety of themes, finding inspiration in the history and the surroundings of where she paints. Her artistic world revolves around “humans, art, music, movies, nature, empowerment and love”.

She takes part in festivals and art projects all around the world, from Europe and Asia to South America. Her work has been exhibited multiple times at Saatchi Gallery in London. Later this year, the gallery will host her first solo exhibition.

A behind the scenes time-lapse video of the mural’s process was posted to Zabou’s Twitter, which you can see below:

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Design unveiled for Yeats sculpture planned for Chiswick

See also: Hounslow planning officers approve Yeats sculpture

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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How to get the most from a small garden

Image above: Rosy Hardy at Chiswick Flower Market; photograph – Anna Kunst

Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants have become regulars at the Chiswick Flower Market. They have won multiple gold awards at Chelsea Flower Show over the past 25 years. As Chelsea has been postponed till September this year and they sell herbaceous perennials, they are retiring from the show, but they will be at Chiswick Flower Market on Sunday 2 May.

Rosy Hardy writes a blog in which she offers tips on gardening. One of her top tips for designing a small garden is to choose plants which flower repeatedly and really earn their place in a small city garden. She and her husband Rob grow all their plants at their nursery in Hampshire. Here are some of their favourite long flowering perennials that she recommends for a small garden.

“Choosing plants that flower repeatedly”

Rosy Hardy

When space is limited every plant really has to earn its place!

Image above: Doronicum Harper Crewe

Spring into summer

Doronicum Harper Crewe  Height x Spread: 90cm x 60cm

This wonderfully cheerful daisy really adds punch to a spring border and with occasional deadheading, they will flower for weeks on end.  It thrives in dappled shade, shining brightly out of the gloom. A moist but free-draining soil that has been enriched with organic matter is best.

Flowering from mid March in the south of England, until May, it combines well with late flowering Narcissus and the sulphur yellow flowers of Euphorbia such as E.epithymoides  syn.polychroma.

Images above: Doronicum Harper Crewe; TROLLIUS ‘Dancing Flame’ 

TROLLIUS ‘Dancing Flame’ – Height x Spread: 80cm x 50cm

Trollius ‘Dancing Flame’ is a very vibrant orange, large-flowered form, much prized for its ability to repeat flower. It has multi-headed stems and flowers for at least eight weeks during late spring and early summer. It makes cracking big clumps and holds itself up well.

It thrives when planted in a moisture retentive soil in either a sunny or partially shaded aspect. A fantastic plant for bog gardens, edges of ponds or stream banks. It can cope in drier conditions providing you water during any dry spells. Hardy’s launched Trollius ‘Dancing Flame’ at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014 on behalf of Patrick Fairweather who developed this stunning plant from a seedling of Trollius yunnanensis at his family wholesale nursery in the New Forest.

Images above: NEPETA grandiflora ‘Summer Magic’

Summer Magic is a robust, free-flowering catmint that has a very long season

Summer

NEPETA grandiflora ‘Summer Magic’ Height x Spread: 35cm x 45cm

This excellent variety would be an ideal substitute for a lavender hedge in soils where lavender does not thrive. Bred by Malcolm Spencer, Summer Magic is a robust, free-flowering catmint that has a very long season. It produces branching stems with wonderful lavender flowers. It was a new introduction in 2013, launched by Hardy’s at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

This Nepeta holds itself up well, which makes it a good edging plant. It will perform well in any reasonable, free-draining soil in full sun. Repeat flowering through the year can be aided with the occasional cut back in the growing season.

Image above: VIOLA ‘Avril Lawson’ 

VIOLA ‘Avril Lawson’ (Va) Height x Spread: 30cm x 60cm

‘Avril Lawson’ is a vigorous viola which if allowed, will clamber its way through shrubs. Giving the plant a cut back will encourage it to flower throughout the summer and if desired, keep its growth controlled. It’s happy to grow in partial shade or sun and in virtually any soil type.

We had to choose Viola ‘Avril Lawson’ as one of our Top Performers because its easy to grow, it flowers for months on end and its large fragrant blooms are a joy!

V.’Avril Lawson’ is often used as underplanting for roses or to edge beds, borders and walkways.

Images above: GERANIUM sanguineum var. striatum 

Summer into autumn

GERANIUM sanguineum var. striatum Height x Spread: 30cm x 40cm

This ankle-high ‘bloody cranesbill’ forms a carpet of finely cut dark green leaves studded with delicate upward-looking pale pink flowers with darker pink veins.

Lauded for its long flowering period from summer into the autumn, it is a superb ground cover plant, successfully suppressing weeds.  It looks particularly attractive sprawling over the edge of a path or framed in a gravel garden.  A veritable bee magnet. It prefers a free-draining soil in full sun, but can tolerate partial shade too.

Images above: Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’

Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ Height x Spread: 90cm x 50cm

Masses of single, soft tangerine flowers with gently scalloped petals dance on fuzzy stems above hairy, mid green basal leaves. One of the longest flowering perennials at the nursery, it performs continuously from early May into autumn, only stopped by the frosts. Introduced by Hardy’s, it has become a RHS Chelsea stalwart for its reliable and prolific flowering.

This very adaptable Geum combines well with so many colours, enhancing the mood of the planting. Try it with blues, yellows, whites, reds, purples – go on, try it with everything. As a sterile form, just remove stems that stop flowering altogether to encourage new growth. This fast growing plant flourishes in a free draining soil in full sun.

Image above: Anemone ‘Frilly Knickers’

Autumn

ANEMONE ‘Frilly Knickers’   Height x Spread: 60cm x 45cm

Now we have to warn you that we are biased when it comes to this plant as it’s one of our own.  Ever so pretty and delicate with its romantically ruffled semi-double petals, ANEMONE ‘ Frilly Knickers’ has already won the hearts of many people, winning the HTA Virtual Plant Awards 2020 with an amazing 33% of the vote.

It is an ANEMONE full of surprises. Its full buds hint of double flowers within but actually reveal semi-double blooms – each pure white petal being suffused with pale lilac and finely frilled, surrounding a boss of deep golden yellow stamens. Glimpse beneath and the petals are brushed with deeper violet, a gorgeous composition.

Easy to grow and full of flower, it creates an amazing display in the border from early July into September, effortlessly bridging the August downtime period that some gardens can suffer from.   It prefers part shade but can cope with more sun, if the soil is sufficiently good, moist and humus-rich. Ramp up the romantic vibe by combining it with dark leaved ACTAEA or AGERATINA.

Image above: ANISODONTEA El Rayo

Autumn into Winter

ANISODONTEA El Rayo – Height x Spread:  100cm x 100cm

This is a great evergreen shrub for a small, sheltered garden or terrace. Hailing from the South African Cape, it needs a sunny spot and free-draining soil to thrive and can be semi-evergreen in colder winters.

Through autumn and winter, it is most floriferous producing lots of large mid-pink single flowers with deep reddish-pink centres on airy, branching stems. This display lessens in spring and summer but it is still there to admire.

Images above: HELLEBORUS Walberton’s ® Rosemary

Winter into spring

HELLEBORUS Walberton’s ® Rosemary PBR (WALHERO). Height x Spread: 35cm x 60cm

Undeniably a top performer, this hellebore was bred by David Tristram of  Walberton’s Nursery, this hybrid cross of H. niger and H. x hybridus is a sterile Hellebore producing masses of outward facing flowers from December until the arrival of spring. These stunning dusty pink flowers stand above the deep green leaves.

‘Walberton’s Rosemary’ prefers a sheltered spot in partial shade with a humus-rich soil. Perfect for woodland gardens, under-planting of trees and shrubs and for flower beds and borders.

Image above: IPHEION ‘Alberto Castillo’

IPHEION ‘Alberto Castillo’

This perennial produces masses of dainty white honey scented flowers during late winter and early spring, if crushed gently the foliage smells of onion.

Perfect for some very early season colour, this plant thrives in gravel gardens, alpine beds or containers. Just ensure you give it a sunny spot with well-drained, fertile soil.It is a summer deciduous plant, which means it dies back during the summer.  There is no reason to panic though, as the plant will reappear during the following winter.  Just remember not to dig it up!

Don’t forget that adding winter flowering bulbs such as Galanthus (Snowdrops) will help to build colour as the year moves towards spring and of course bulbs don’t need a huge amount of space so you can fill the gap they leave with later flowering perennials.

Keep an eye on the website, over the coming weeks as we will be adding Penstemon, Gaura, Dahlia and Salvias all of which flower over a prolonged period of time, but ideally should not be planted until we have had the last of the spring frosts…

hardysplants.co.uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: The Junkyard Market comes to Chiswick 

See also: Chiswick Horticultural & Allotments Society elect a new chairman

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The Junkyard Market comes to Chiswick

Image above: Junkyard Market (not in Chiswick)

Chiswick is getting a Shoreditch style food and drink venue, with street food, vegan beer and cocktails, served from shipping containers redesigned as bars, and a bit of background music out in the open air.

The ‘Junkyard Market’ is so-called because it is defined by the furniture: in this case three recycled containers and the tables and chairs made from recycled tyres, and the location: somewhere previously industrial, not an existing restaurant or entertainment venue.

The concept has been tried out successfully in east London, but for the particular company running the Junkyard Market, it’s the first one in London. They have two other markets, in Ipswich and Norwich and after they open in Chiswick they plan to rollout more over the summer, in Oxford, Cambridge and on the beach in Bournemouth.

“We’re really excited to bring it to Chiswick” founder of After Dark Promotions, Michael Femi-Ola told The Chiswick Calendar.

The venue is behind Power Road Studios, which he describes as “a cool company committed to promoting start-ups”, in Power Rd. As we talked, the shipping containers were arriving and they were poised to start the build.

“Chiswick is a lovely area and up and coming in terms of the companies which are here” he told me enthusiastically. “There are a lot of young families in Chiswick and young people staying at home maybe longer than they would have done before the pandemic. They are exactly our demographic”.

Images above: Pop dog; Jubel beer; The Mac Factory Mac ‘n Cheese

The first of the container / bars will be offering Redemption coffee, using beans from ‘the world’s first prison-based coffee company’, as well as smoothies and other soft drinks. The second is dedicated to the production of cocktails. The third will be selling beer from Jubel, whose usp is vegan, gluten free craft lagers cut with natural fruits such as elderflower, grapefruit and peach.

Then there are the street food traders, 50% local and 50% not, which will include The Mac Factory, selling ‘gourmet Mac ‘n Cheese’ and Pop Dogs, selling vegan hot dogs.

The company is new, having started in 2020 during lockdown. Michael is an events organiser who, while twiddling his thumbs during lockdown, wanted to come up with a way for young people and families to be able to socialise despite the pandemic and also to offer work to local contractors. The first Junkyard Market opened in Norwich in August 2020. By the end of summer 2021 they plan to have scaled up to ten venues.

In Chiswick they’re here for seven weekends, starting on Friday 30 April, and if the market proves popular, they’ll apply for a longer term licence. Open Fridays 5.00 – 10.00 pm, Saturday and Sunday 12.00 – 10.00 pm.

When they started they didn’t sell tickets but found that although they were popular, because it was free there was a percentage of no-shows, while other people who would have liked tickets found they couldn’t get in. So now they charge a deposit to book a table, which is immediately refunded when you turn up. £10 deposit for a two seater. £20 for a four to six seater.

Book tickets here: junkyardmarket.co.uk/chiswick

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Ravenscourt Park Farmers Market will defy council and continue

See also: Ravenscourt Park considered for Parkrun location

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Ravenscourt Park Farmers Market will defy council and continue

Image above: Ravenscourt Park Farmers Market

The organisers of the Ravenscourt Park Farmers Market, RMS Markets, have said that they will continue to hold their weekly markets in Ravenscourt Park, Hammersmith on Saturdays and in Bishops Park, Fulham on Sundays, despite Hammersmith and Fulham Council withdrawing their licence to trade.

The Ravenscourt Park food market was set up in September 2020, after the success of the Bishops Park market. It closed during lockdown and was set to open again on 17 April. When the Prime Minister made his announcement about the third lockdown on 4 January, food markets were allowed to stay open, but RMS Markets say they were told by Hammersmith & Fulham on 11 January that they must close.

The council then gave them notice on 17 March that they could reopen, giving them the dates for 17 and 18 April (for Ravenscourt Park and Bishops Park respectively) for reopening. The council was itself tweeting about the markets reopening.

Image above: Tweet by Hammersmith & Fulham Council; Ross Spurrier, founder of RMS Markets

Then suddenly, the organisers say, the licence was withdrawn and they are mystified as to why. Ravenscourt Park Farmers Market spokeswoman Fiona Campbell told us:

“It’s all very strange. We don’t know why. We ran Bishops Park market successfully for eight years and we always had a very good relationship with the council, or so we thought.

“On 23 March last year we were told the markets were closing. We were notified we could reopen in June. We started Ravenscourt in September and people loved it, it just took off.

Image above: Ravenscourt Park Farmers Market

“Devastated” at being told to close

“We are absolutely devastated by this decision and our traders are heartbroken.

“We challenged it and were told it was a decision made by Steve Cowan (Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council) personally, but when we approached him he didn’t seem to know what we were talking about”.

In the period the market was open, she says they had six inspections in seven weeks:

“Not police or Covid marshals, but health and safety, food hygiene. They should come and see the Market Manager and say why they’re there but they didn’t announce their arrival or departure.

“Nothing came of it. We passed them all. The only criticism was that the boys selling mayonnaise shouldn’t shout”.

Closed ‘on public health advice’

Hammersmith and Fulham Council told The Chiswick Calendar:

“The farmers markets remain closed on public health advice, but we look forward to re-establishing such attractions in our parks when the current health crisis allows.

“The farmers markets were originally introduced to encourage foot fall but as the pandemic has taken hold, pressure on space within our parks has become extremely high. We have therefore prioritised all the space in our parks for the facilitation of sport, fitness, play and recreation.

“We also recognise that the pandemic has had a detrimental effect on local shops, cafes, and restaurants so we will take this opportunity to review the purpose of the markets and develop a new set of outcomes so we best support local businesses and residents.

“Once this has been developed the opportunity to operate markets in council parks will then be advertised through a competitive tender process.”

RMS Markets deny they have had a detrimental effect on local shops. They say pre-existing local traders who were worried about them opening have since told them how happy they are that their presence has increased fotfall in local shops and cafes, rather than the reverse.

Image above: Bishops Park Farmers Market

Hammersmith and Fulham acting “unlawfully, unreasonably, disproportionately and in breach of contract”

The organisers of Ravenscourt Park Farmers Market have taken legal advice. The advice they’ve received is that there is nothing legally to stop them from holding the market as usual, unless the council takes out an injunction to stop them. There are determined to tough it out and see if the council is prepared to go that far.

They consulted Robert Griffiths QC, who had this to say:

“This is an example of a council trying to get, through the back door, what it couldn’t get through the front door. It is action taken under the illegitimate cover of COVID-19 regulations to achieve an otherwise unlawful purpose.

“There is no justification, in either public or private law, for what this council is seeking to do. It is acting unlawfully, unreasonably, disproportionately and in breach of contract.”

The market organisers say their traders are very upset, as many of them have no other outlet for selling their produce and rely on the market for an income. They also say they have been inundated by support from customers.

“Hundreds of our customers have written to Steve Cowan” Fiona told us. They have set up a fundraising campaign to pay for their legal bills: justgiving.com where they have already met their initial target of £5,000.

Images above: Bishops Park and Ravenscourt Park Farmers Markets

Extra Farmers Market opening at Hogarth Club

Fiona told us that Hounslow Council has approached them to run a market in Old Market Place on Chiswick High Rd, on the fourth Sunday of the month. As of May 2021 there will be three Sunday markets there – Chiswick Flower Market on the first Sunday, the new Antiques and Vintage market on the second Sunday and the new Cheese market on the third Sunday.

The Hogarth Club in Airedale Avenue has also declared it is happy to host them.

“The Hogarth is all too well aware of how tough the last year has been and are keen to help us and our traders get back to work whilst bringing something new, vibrant and safe to residents of this lovely area of Chiswick” said Fiona.

They have a pool of around 50 traders out of whom only 30 can take part in the Ravenscourt Park market on any given weekend, so having the Hogarth Club as an additional venue will allow more of their traders a chance to sell their produce.

“We can see this is something the local community wants” Hogarth Club Director Tim Slater told us.

“We are trying to make sure that a good community event doesnt’ die a death”.

The Hogarth Club will accommodate 16 – 20 stalls just beyond the barrier at the entrance to the club on Airedale Avenue between 10.00 am and 2.00 pm on Sundays, startng Sunday 2 May. The Ravenscourt Park Farmers Market will continue in its usual spot at the entrance to the park on Kind St on Saturday 1 May from 10.00 am – 2.00 pm, unless the council gets an injunction to stop them.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Life Lessons festival at Chiswick House

See also: Hounslow planning officers approve Yeats sculpture

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.

Ravenscourt Park considered for Parkrun location

Image above: parkrun

LB Hammersmith and Fulham is considering Ravenscourt Park as a location for parkrun. The Saturday morning meet-ups have become popular in parks all round the country. Parkruns are free, community events which now take place all around the world. The runs are 5k and take place in parks and open spaces. There is one in Richmond Park, Gunnersbury Park and Bishops Park in Fulham already.

On Sunday mornings, there are 2k junior parkruns for children aged four to 14. The aim is to encourage people to engage in physical fitness, whether they walk, jog, run or just volunteer or spectate. The ethos is positive and welcoming, an inclusive experience where there is no time limit and no one finishes last.

The council has recently withdrawn licences for food markets to operate in Bishops Park and Ravenscourt Park. Organisers RMS Markets say they are “devastated”. Their markets are popular, their traders rely on the income from their market stalls and hundreds of people who use the markets have written to the council objecting. RMS Markets are taking legal action and fighting the decision. Their QC Robert Griffiths has said the council is acting “unlawfully, unreasonably, disproportionately and in breach of contract.”

The council says the pandemic has put pressure on public space and they want the parks to be used more for sport and fitness. They are asking residents to take part in a consulation on the parkrun idea by 7 May. Four different routes are being considered. You can take part in the consultation here: lbhf.citizenspace.com.

The consultation does not mention the markets. It is merely a consultation on whether people would like to see parkrun introduced and if so how often and by which route. Participants aren’t given a choice of whether they’d like a food market or a parkrun and ‘visiting the food market’ isn’t given as one of the options for why people choose to visit the park. There is however a space for ‘additional comments’.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Ravenscourt Park Farmers Market will defy council and continue

See also: Life Lessons festival at Chiswick House

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 Horticultural & Allotments Society elects a new chairman

Image above: Dennis Flaherty

Chiswick Horticultural and Allotments Society has elected a new chairman. Dennis Flaherty, previously the society’s Allotments Secretary, was voted in as chairman by 219 votes to 58, beating the incumbent Henry Gewanter by 161 votes.

There have been some ‘heated, emotional and bitter rows’ between members of the society over the past year, which became public in February when Henry wrote to the entire membership of over 600 complaining about ‘unacceptable levels of rudeness’. The election campaign for chairman was also quite fraught, with rival supporters ripping down the other candidate’s posters.

Four committee members resigned during Henry’s recent tenure, complaining of his high-handed approach to the chairmanship, accusing him of taking decisions on the society’s behalf without running them by the committee. These four members have now been voted back on to the committee, as has Henry. Four brand new members have joined the committee as well.

Henry has described the chairmanship as a “poisoned chalice” but Dennis hopes his 20 + years as a magistrate will stand him in good stead. He says his vision for the future of the society is that it should get back to being an organisation which puts its members first. His aim is to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard within CHAS, he says.

Image above: Allotment at Staveley Rd

The society manages the provision of allotments. It also provides up to date, useful horticultural information to its members and works with community organisations, running a schools programme and providing an allotment for school age children and teenagers to work on.

The allotments have been “a haven of peace and quiet”, he says, during this past year.

“Because of the pandemic the waiting list is horrendous.”

Hounslow has some 2,100 allotments, of which 600 are in Chiswick. Across the borough there is a waiting list of 400-500 for plots. The biggest issue the society is facing is the proposed hike in charges by LB Hounslow. About a third of Chiswick allotment holders live outside the borough, either just across the border into Hammersmith and Fulham or across the river. They face an increase in fees from £80 a year to £250. Many of these members are elderly, he says, and cannot afford the increase.

The society will decide next week whether they will hold their annual summer show on 26 June as a live show or a virtual one. They believe they were the only organisation in the country to put on a virtual show last year, but as the lockdown easing roadmap allows full socialising on 21 June they are hoping that this year they will be back to normal.

If you are interested in an allotment and would like to join the society, contact membership@growchiswick.org.

growchiswick.org

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Ravenscourt Park Farmers Market will defy council and continue

See also: Life Lessons at Chiswick House

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.

Bus strikes suspended as drivers consider new pay offer

Planned bus strikes which were meant to go ahead on Monday (26 April) have been suspended, following a revised pay offer given to drivers.

Bus drivers employed by London United, a subsidiary of French company RATP, based at seven depots in South and West London have been involved in a series of recent London-wide strikes in a dispute over pay.

Drivers feared losing £2,000 a year due to changes that would see them no longer receiving pay for breaks or time spent waiting for their bus to arrive. Instead, they would only have been paid for time spent “logged in” to their vehicles.

Strike action has been suspended so that details of the revised offer can be finalised. Once the offer is finalised, members of the Unite union who have been involved in the industrial action will be balloted on the proposed pay deal.

The strike would have affected 53 routes across south and west London, including the 94 and 440 which travel through Chsiwick. Unite have said if the offer is rejected by the drivers, strike action scheduled for May 6 and 7 will go ahead.

‘Positive development’ – says Unite

Unite regional officer Michelle Braveboy said:

“The revised offer made by RATP is a positive development and therefore strike action has been suspended to finalise the deal.

“If the offer is agreed by members, future industrial action will be called off.

“From the very beginning of this dispute Unite has always been clear that these matters could and should be resolved through negotiation.”

RATP have maintained their previous pay offers have been “fair” and accused Unite of not presenting other offers to their members.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: More bus garages vote for strike action after talks break down

See also: Bus strike cancelled at the last minute

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Episode 52: Wisden 2021 – cricket and class, race, plague and global warming

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.

Steven Lynch, International Editor of Wisden Cricketers Almanack, returns to the regular podcast by Peter Oborne and Richard Heller to celebrate a landmark edition which more than ever lights up the mighty issues which shape global cricket and the lives of all its players and devotees.


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He begins by accepting their thanks for a generous review of the podcast itself in that edition on page 182 by James Gingell.

“Peter Oborne and Richard Heller’s On Cricket evokes the plum and dust of parliamentary tearooms – never more than when Lord Jeffrey Archer of Weston-super-Mare claims that Ian Botham was Victoria Cross material – only with far more open-minded hosts. Tim Wigmore persuades them Twenty20 does have nuance, Mihir Bose that cricket is the only world sport run by non-white people. It’s outwardly fusty, inwardly modern, social and political as much as sporting: in some ways it was the Almanack to the Wisden Cricket Podcast’s monthly magazine”.

A very perceptive writer, James Gingell, clearly a man to watch.

Steven emphasizes the strengths of Wisden’s editor, Lawrence Booth, combining the ability to stay in touch with the whole world of cricket as a daily newspaper journalist and to take a wider view in selecting key topics and major contributors to fill “the front of the book”.

The three cite in particular the edition’s coverage of BlackLivesMatter and issues of racism and discrimination in English cricket, which is both topical (through the contributions of Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent) and full of historic depth. Harry Pearson describes the racism experienced by the great Learie Constantine in 1930s England (including, sadly, from professional cricketers). A remarkable essay by Tom Holland begins by describing a mysterious artefact apparently showing a West Indian slave playing cricket and then follows C L R James in exploring cricket as a passage to equality.  Wisden’s multiple coverage of the issues around BlackLivesMatter and the enduring legacy of subjection and servitude has played a key role in making English and global cricket belatedly aware of them and of the need to right them.

Steven gives the background to Wisden’s greatly expanded coverage of women’s cricket worldwide, another issue where it has lately been a progressive force, as also on class.  Steven also analyses its shift away from extended coverage of the feats of English public schoolboys (which in past editions might have helped to sell it to them and their parents). This year’s public school coverage was all but wiped out by the pandemic. Future coverage is uncertain, but is likely to continue in some form if only because English public schools continue to provide most of the members of the England Test team. This point is well made in Robert Winder’s article: Steven explains that this replaced the normal public school coverage and named, retrospectively, the top schools cricketer of each year since 1900 – every one from public schools (the only ones to play enough cricket and send in their statistics to Wisden) and almost every one a major cricketer afterwards.

Arising from the issue of social class and access to cricket and the previous week’s tribute to Prince Philip as former park cricketer, Peter and Richard suggest that saving public sports facilities, and creating new ones, would be a better memorial to him than a yacht or a statue.

Steven highlights the now regular annual contribution of Tanya Aldred on cricket and the environment. This year’s focuses on the insensate and often unnecessary demand for air travel created by the international schedule.  She has raised consciousness of a range of environmental threats to cricket which have already killed thousands of cricketers and threaten the game itself with extinction. A dramatic mark of Wisden’s now-progressive outlook is a sympathetic piece by Hugh Chevallier on the Extinction Rebellion cricket team.

The three hail Wisden’s coverage of the pandemic: Peter and Richard suggest that it will be an important resource to all historians, not only cricketing ones. Duncan Hamilton’s essay is deeply felt and conveys the emptiness of English life without the familiar rituals of an English cricket season. Essays by Steven and Patrick Kidd give historic depth to this topic. Steven describes his research into the “Spanish flu” pandemic of 1918-20, massively more destructive than the current one but almost ignored by Wisden in its apparent determination to celebrate the return of cricket as the return of normal life after the Great War. He outlines Patrick’s treatment of the wartime editions of Wisden, contrasting their content and tone between the two wars but suggesting that all the editions concerned were reluctant to talk about anything outside cricket – in contrast to the most recent ones.

Patrick cites Rupert Brooke’s Wisden obituary, concentrating on his achievements as a schoolboy bowler at Rugby and adding as a reluctant afterthought that he had “gained considerable reputation as a poet.” It was a template for Samuel Beckett’s later obituary as the only Nobel Prize winner to have played first-class cricket – early cricket prowess at length, literary output and Nobel prize almost with disappointment. Steven credits the former editor Matthew Engel for a changed approach to obituaries: he hopes now that famous people with cricketing connexions are commemorated for their real achievements. Returning to “his” current list of obituaries, he picks out Dean Jones, another brave, brilliant cricketer who died young, sometimes controversial but deeply loved.

In the category of unusual second lives he cites the late Mr Gayle – the Jamaican umpire who was a global authority on the cultivation of pimentos.

Next year’s Wisden is already in the making and Steven mentions the international series he expects to cover, including the current one between the newest Test-playing countries, Ireland and Afghanistan.

Listen to more episodes of Oborne & Heller

Previous Episode – Episode 51: Rich lives in a few words: the obituaries in Wisden 2021

Listen to all episodes – Oborne & Heller on Cricket

Peter Oborne, Richard Heller

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

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

Oborne & Heller cricketing partnership

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

Peter and Richard have played cricket with and against each other for a variety of social sides, including Parliament’s team, the Lords and Commons, and in over twenty countries including India, Pakistan, the United States, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Australia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Morocco.

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

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

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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.

Thousands march on Ealing Council demanding end to LTNs

Thousands of protestors marched on Ealing Council on Saturday (24 April) to protest against the council’s controversial Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes.

The procession stretched over a mile, travelling northbound along Northfield Avenue and turning right onto Uxbridge Road until arriving at the council’s premises Percival House and Ealing Town Hall. East bound traffic along Uxbridge Road was part-suspended due to the protest.

Rival groups claimed widely different estimates of those in attendance. OneEaling, a group opposed to LTNs, initially claimed 5,000 were in attendance. Better Ealing Streets, who support the measures, claimed a more conservative figure of 1,300. The Metropolitan Police have since estimated that more than 2,500 people took part.

Protesters say the Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes, which were introduced in 2020, have added more traffic to Ealing’s main roads, sending them frequently into gridlock. The route which protestors marched along has been particularly affected, they say, with journeys reported to take anything up to an hour to get to Ealing town centre at peak times.

Videos of the procession were captured and posted on Twitter.

Unexpected turnout say organisers

One of the events organisers, Lorna O’Driscoll said after the event:

“I’m kind of blown away by the people of Ealing and how they continuously support us and come out and stand up for what they believe in, which is essentially the democratic process.

“It’s been a really difficult and challenging nine months for everyone; we’ve been going through this extraordinary time with the global pandemic, and then to have something as bizarre as LTNs dropped upon us was both confusing and bewildering.

“There was no baseline data given, there were no reasons given, or indeed they kept changing the reasons given, it started with COVID, then it was obesity and it ended up as a climate crisis.

“So we don’t have any proper statement as to why the LTNs were introduced and indeed not why this area. This area [Northfields] in the whole Borough of Ealing is the least polluted area, so it just genuinely doesn’t make sense.

“We’ve asked for this information time and time again, we’ve asked for the baseline data. We’re confused as to what a trial means, how can you measure something when you don’t have a starting point.”

Images above: protestors gather outside of Ealing Council to protest controversial LTN schemes

‘Ever-growing numbers’ of walkers and cyclists, says pro-LTN group

Better Ealing Streets, a group who supports the LTN schemes released a statement prior to the protest:

“Since the introduction of the LTN schemes to reduce journeys by car, we have seen ever-growing numbers of residents walking and cycling locally, which is not only better for our personal health, but for our community and the planet.

“This is why the Conservative government, Labour’s London Mayor and councils run by many parties, including our local Labour council, continue to fund and support them.

“While there may be some who oppose LTNs, every serious independent study has shown the schemes have a majority support – and that support grows over time. “

“Removing LTNs would just cause more congestion, more air pollution and make our roads more unsafe.”

The LTNs are still part of a trial period and as such Ealing Council has a consultation under way, where residents can make their voices heard.

Rupa Huq joins protest

Ealing’s MP Rupa Huq commented on the protests on Twitter. She has been sceptical of LTNs in the past. She has criticed the lack of consultation with residents, querying the benefits for areas which have already been considered to have low air pollution and central Government’s role in the implementation process.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Ravenscourt Park Farmers Market will defy council and continue

See also: Ealing council consulting with residents on second phase of LTNs

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Great reviews for debut novel by Chiswick author

Interview with Susan Spindler, author of Surrogate

There are a surprising amount of books set in Chiswick, or which reference Chiswick. Not all of them are great literature, but this one I’d say is.

Surrogate by Susan Spindler is about a post-menopausal woman who decides she will give birth for her daughter and husband who have come to the end of their IVF treatment after many miscarriages.

The decision kicks off huge physical and emotional turmoil for her, as menopause is medically reversed and her rejuvanated body takes her back to her younger self. But it also upends her relationships, with her daughter, her husband and her business partner. Emotionally it has the effect of a bomb going off, with those around her experiencing collateral damage.

Although the subject is relationship territory, the pace is that of a thriller.

Unusually for a first-time author, Susan Spindler found herself at the centre of an auction amongst publishers bidding for the right to publish her book. Surrogate is Virago’s lead fiction debut for Spring 2021.

Reviews of Surrogate:

HEAT 

‘An absolute belter of a page-turner’

COSMOPOLITAN 

‘A gripping read on an under-discussed topic for fans of Apple Tree Yard’

Fascinated by the idea of surrogacy

I’m claiming Susan as a Chiswick author as she lived here for 25 years, bringing up a family and pursuing her career at the BBC. She told me about Surrogate, what led up to her writing it and why she chose it as a subject.

The first and most obvious question anyone asks her is whether the book is based on her own experience. It isn’t.

She has, like the protagonist of her book, had a successful career in television. Her character, Ruth Furnival, is a Bafta winning drama producer who has set up her own company with another woman, is always frantically busy with work and has that residual guilt of working mothers that they weren’t around enough when their children were growing up.

Susan is an award-winning documentary maker and has brought all those skills into play in writing the novel, doing her research by talking to doctors and surrogates who’d given birth for other women, particularly in the US where it’s more common and middle aged women who’d given birth for their daughters are to be found on TV chat shows.

As a TV producer she worked on Tommorrow’s World, Horizon and QED and has always been interested in science and the ethics of science. She made programmes about in vitro fertilisation at the time of Warnock report, which paved the way for fertility treatment, in the early 1980s. So she has the facts down. You can trust what she says about the medical procedures and legal framework.

I was amazed to find that under British law, not only does the surrogate mother have rights over the implanted foetus, the product of another man and woman’s sperm and egg, but so does the surrogate’s husband. That Ruth’s husband Adam has to give legal consent before she can go ahead with the process infers an ownership over her womb which Ruth finds outrageous.

Susan finds the reaction of men to the idea of surrogacy interesting. Her own husband was “semi-aghast” at the idea.

“I would talk to liberal, educated men about it and for some of them it crosses a line. They have that atavistic feeling, a primitive anxiety. Yes the uterus belongs to the woman but as a bloke you have a really big stake in it”.

Image above: Susan at her allotment in Chiswick

“Forget all you learned at the BBC” – Fay Weldon

Susan drew on her experience as a working mother in writing the book. She herself has three grown up children – two boys and a girl in their thirties and early forties.

“I had waves of maternal guilt during my career”.

And of course she and her character Ruth have Chiswick in common. Ruth’s children, two girls, were born in Queen Charlotte’s hospital. She goes for runs around the river between Chiswick Bridge and Kew Bridge and drinks coffee in local coffee shops.

The rest is fiction. Susan studied creative writing at Bath Spa University when she left the BBC. Her daughter Imogen encouraged her to do what she’d always said she wanted to do and try her hand at writing a novel, “deluging” her with details of creative writing courses until she signed up for one.

She found herself being taught by fabulous role models sych as Fay Weldon, (Down Among the Women and The Life and Loves of a She-Devil are among more than 30 novels she’s written), Maggie Gee (author of 12 novels including The White Family, shortlisted for the 2003 Orange prize) and Tessa Hadley (author of six movels, including Accidents in the Home, which was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award).

“Fay Weldon told me, what you need to do is to unlearn everything you learned at the BBC. Leave factual writing behind you and make it up. Just fly”.

So she did and she is slightly amazed at the result. It’s a “fantastic surprise” she says, to be the subject of a bidding war, and an honour to be published by Virago:

“Beyond my wildest dreams to stand alongside all those green spined Virago classics and new titles and be recognised as a kindred spirit. I’ve admired the imprint all my life.

“It’s not the easiest thing to get published at my age, or even to get an agent”.

Age is important to Susan. She is 66 and she wanted to explore the world of women who have served their usefulness as mothers and have come to the end of their careers and are thinking “what now?” Some women, she says, are a bit adrift, expressing the rather plaintive query “what am I for?”

“They can’t see beyond the thicket of domestic responsibilities”.

Role reversal and life after the menopause

For Susan, especially as her husband of 42 years had survived a life threatening illness and they were coming out of the other side of a very traumatic period, her sixties have been a time in which she wanted to take up a new passion, a new cause and explore her new-found freedom.

In the book, her character Ruth is bit of a megalomaniac. Used to being in charge of an office full of people, in a big career which brought her many accolades, when they were children she would helicopter in to take charge of her daughters’ lives, focusing on them intently when she was present, then going away to oversee a shoot abroad for weeks or months. She is also rather vain. Used to using flirtation in the armoury of weapons for getting her way, she finds the invisibility of being an older woman hard to get her head round.

While it is a courageous and generous thing to offer to carry the baby, it requires a submissiveness she finds hard. The role reversal with her daughter she finds infuriating. That’s very relatable. At some point that tipping point is reached by all of us. My sister and I realised we were the ‘adults’ when my father died of lung cancer when I was eighteen. My older sister took on the responsibility of organising everything and my mother became the ‘child’. Susan experienced the role reversal herself when she was coping with her husband’s illness a few years ago.

“You were floundering” said her daughter. “Sometimes I could be the grown up and you were grateful”.

“I loved writing the book” says Susan, “and I’m glad to say that my relationship with Imogen is better than ever. But I’ve realised that the role reversal we experienced arrives for all parents and children, sooner or later. So why aren’t we talking about it?”

Surrogate is an exploration of how it feels to be a woman at different stages of life and the relationship between a mother and daughter, but it also has a lot to say about marriage and its own power struggle.

Surrogate and Susan fit perfectly in to Virago’s panoply of women’s writers: Marilyn French, Daphne du Maurier, Rose Macauley, Patricia Highsmith, Muriel Spark, Molly Keane, Mary Renault, Rumer Godden … I’m looking forward to reading more from Susan Spindler and following her success.

Surrogate is available at a bookshop near you or online at:

Waterstoneswaterstones.com

Bookshop.orgbookshop.org

Amazonamazon.co.uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Life Lessons, Sunday Times festival at Chiswick House

See also: April Books 2021

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.

 

Life Lessons at Chiswick House

A weekend of conversations and debates from brilliant minds, in the gardens of Chiswick House.

Life Lessons is a new festival for Chiswick. Postponed from an earlier date because of Covid regulations, organisers the Sunday Times are excited to announce the new line up of world-class speakers at Life Lessons 2021. Claudia Winkleman, Ruby Wax, Prof Brian Cox, Mary Portas, Pandora Sykes, and many more will be taking to the stage and sharing their big ideas this July.

They will ask: How can we live better? How can we eat better, sleep better, feel better…? How can we live more sustainably? And in better communities?

‘We’ll be diving into all things well-being! You can expect fascinating talks, workshops, street food and bars, origami, and meditation with Lexus, Dr k’s Lifestyle Clinic, a marketplace, and much more! All offering you a fresh perspective on how to live a happier, healthier, more connected, and more inspired life’.

The programme is of course subject to change. If we weren’t already used to that, we certainly have become so over the past year. Currently it’s looking like this:

Images above: Dr Rangan Chatterjee; Ruby Wax

Friday 16 July Afternoon 1.00 – 5.00 pm

Health: From Nutrition to Fitness, Immunity and More

Talk 1: Professor Robert Thomas 

One of the UK’s leading oncologists, Professor Robert Thomas, believes in a 360 approach to health. In this session, he’ll examine how diet is linked to immunity and what we can eat in order to stay healthy. He’ll ask whether diet can be the key to supporting medicine and indeed, preventing the need for it.

Talk 2: Dr Alan Desmond

For the vegan-curious, a myth-debunking session from plant-based expert and NHS consultant, Dr Alan Desmond. From gut health to blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol, this talk will take the confusion out of plant-based eating and provide practical tips in integrating it into everyday life.

Talk 3: Dr Rangan Chatterjee

Meet the man behind Europe’s most successful Health podcast, Feel Better, Live More. Dr Rangan Chatterjee joins us on a mission to leave quick fix diets behind and provide a route to sustainable weight loss and improved physical and mental wellbeing that’s lifestyle-first – this talk will be full of simple, practical advice that all of us can start implementing into our lives immediately.

Friday 16 July Evening 6.00 – 9.30 pm

The Mind & Mental Health, Brain Health and Neuroscience

Talk 1: William Sieghart

The Poetry Pharmacy believes this simple thing: that when we are most in need of comfort, a poem can often best express and work through our emotions. Join them for this fun session and take the time out to stop, listen and find exactly the right prescription for your heart, mind and soul.

Talk 2: Kimberley Wilson

The brain is arguably the most important organ in our body. But how can we keep it healthy? How do we future proof it, give it the nutrients it needs and help it function at its optimum? Join expert Kimberley Wilson for a fact-driven talk packed with practical advice on building a healthy brain.

Author of – How to Build a Healthy Brain: Reduce stress, anxiety and depression and future-proof your brain.

Talk 3: Ruby Wax

Let’s face it, we all need some good news right now. Lucky that Ruby Wax – comedian, mental health expert and campaigner extraordinaire – has just the answer! Join her for an enlightening, funny, heart-warming talk as she pulls back the clouds and shows us the sunshine.

Ticket holders for this session will receive a copy of Ruby’s book –And Now For The Good News…: The much-needed tonic for our frazzled world.

Images above: Mary Portas; Robin Ince & Brian Cox

Saturday 17 July Afternoon 1.00 – 5.00 pm

Society and Community

Talk 1: Magid Magid 

A Somali-born black Muslim refugee, Magid Magid overcame adversity to become a Lord Mayor – and to ban Donald Trump from Sheffield. Radical, loving, funny and heart-warming, join Magid Magid as he gives us his recipe for disrupting the status quo and his dreams for a better society.

Talk 2: Nikesh Shukla and Emma Dabiri

Welcome to your masterclass in difficult conversations, where we ask: what’s next after BLM? How can we turn anger into everyday activism? How can we foster positive conversations about race, injustice and allyship? And how can we raise young people to do better than we’ve done?

Joining this panel is the brilliant journalist and host of podcast Brown Baby, Nikesh Shukla and author of What White People Can Do Next, Emma Dabiri.

Talk 3: Mary Portas

Business has done the biggest, fastest and cheapest; but what if it were to do the best? For us and the planet? Balancing the key principles of profit and social progress, Mary Portas asks in this conversation: what if we all just re-set and spent our money a bit better?

Attendees of this session will receive: Rebuild: How to thrive in the new Kindness Economy by Mary Portas.

Saturday 17 July Evening 6.00 – 9.30 pm

Nature, Science and the Universe

Talk 1: Bella Lack

For many, the climate crisis = despair. But where exactly are we? On the big picture – on policy, government action and international accord? And what can each and every one of us in our daily lives do to truly make a difference?

Bella Lack, 18 year-old climate activist, TEDX talker and colleague of Jane Goodall, as they get to grips with all this and more.

Talk 2: Professor Jim Al-Khalili, James Ball + two more speakers TBC

No one could have predicted all the many ways in which the pandemic has affected science, people and the planet. It’s been embroiled in economics, international power play, fake news and climate change. It’s taken us on a long journey, but where’s next?

Joining this panel is eminent science communicator and physicist, Prof. Jim Al-Khalili and two more very exciting scientists coming soon. Hosted by journalist and author, James Ball.

Talk 3: Professor Brian Cox & Robert Ince

From one of the biggest brains on the planet comes a conversation about the universe: about the life lessons it can teach us; and about balance and order.

Attendees of this session will receive a copy of Universal by Professor Brian Cox.

Images above: Chris Packham; Pandora Sykes

Sunday 18 July Morning 10.00 am – 1.30 pm

Living Better Together, Sustainably and More Simply

Talk 1: Julia Bradbury

One of the UK’s most loved TV presenters joins Life Lessons for a conversation about nature, mental health and conservation.

Bio: Julia Bradbury is a television presenter and outdoor walking enthusiast who has dedicated her career to sharing beautiful walks from all over the world. Passionate about conservation, she’s an eco-activist promoting a plastic-free environment.

Talk 2: Chris Packham

One of the UK’s most beloved naturalists, Chris Packham, joins life lessons to discuss conservationism, eco-activism and the little things we can do in our everyday lives to protect nature and wildlife.

Back To Nature: how to love life – and save it by Chris Packham & Megan McCubin

Talk 3: Simon Reeve

From life on the dole, to a TV presenter with over 20 series and more than 120 countries under his belt, Simon Reeve’s personal story is one of an extraordinary climb out of adversity. But his travels around the world have taught him much about community, climate change and what it means to be human. Join him for this fireside chat as he reflects on some of the greatest life lessons he’s learned in his career thus far.

Attendees of this session will receive a copy of his book – Step by Step: The Life In My Journeys

Sunday 18 July Afternoon 2.30 – 6.00pm

Overcoming Adversity and Learning from Those All-Important Life Lessons

Talk 1: Professor Christie Watson

We’ve clanged our pans for them, but do we really know the extent of what nurses do? From the nurses in the community, care-homes, military, schools and more? And how much courage it takes to care? Bestselling author and nurse of over 20 years, Christie Watson, shares her insights into the strength of the human heart in this moving and inspirational conversation.

Christie Watson is a writer and Professor of Medical and Health Humanities. She is Patron of the Royal College of Nursing Foundation. Tiny Sunbirds Far Away won the Costa First Novel Award and along with her second novel, Where Women Are Kings, was widely translated and achieved international critical acclaim. The Language of Kindness, published in 2018, was a number one Sunday Times bestseller and Book of the Year in the Evening Standard, Guardian, i, New Statesman, the Sunday Times and The Times. It has been translated into 23 languages, and adapted for theatre.

The Courage to Care: a call for compassion was published in September 2020

Talk 2: Pandora Sykes

Modern life is full of choices. But how do we know what our best life looks like? And what if we get it wrong? Join journalist, author and one half of the phenomenon, The High Low, Pandora Sykes as she explores the questions, anxieties and agendas that consume our modern lives.

How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right?: essays on modern life by Pandora Sykes. Published May 2021, RRP £8.99

About

Pandora Sykes is a journalist and broadcaster. She has written for the Sunday Times, Vogue, ELLE and the Telegraph amongst other publications, and was the co-host of The High Low, the UK’s No.1 podcast for women. She lives in London. This is her first book.

Talk 3: Claudia Winkleman

Friendship, family and the little things in life that help us get through the day… Join the nation’s beloved broadcaster, Claudia Winkleman, as she shares some of the heartfelt (and completely irreverent) lessons she’s learned from her career in showbiz and life thus far.

Ticket holders for this session will receive a copy of Claudia’s book Quite.

Tickets go on sale Wednesday 28 April if you sign up for their newsletter and on Thursday 29 they go on general sale.

lifelessonsfestival.com

This page is paid for by the Life Lessons festival.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Hounslow planning officers approve Yeats sculpture

See also: Chiswick in blossom

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.

Episode 11: The Super League that wasn’t

The Three Old Hacks discuss the one day wonder that was The Super League. It took from Sunday night till Tuesday morning for six top English football clubs to announce their membership and then withdraw, leaving the plan in tatters in the face of opposition from the British Government.

Mihir Bose, former BBC sports news editor at the BBC, David Smith, Economics Editor of the Sunday Times and Nigel Dudley, political commentator, examine the debacle, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new found interest in the game, in the middle of a local and regional election campaign, and decry the state of affairs where the dominance of global TV interests means the fans who actually turn up to the matches no longer matter.


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!

Chiswick in blossom

Chiswick looks gorgeous at this time of year, and nowhere more so than Staveley Rd in Grove Park. Thanks to Jennifer Griffiths and Edda Amon for these lovely pictures, taken at exactly the right time after the blossoms have come out fully and before they get windblown and start going over.

Images above by Jennifer Griffiths

 

Images above by Edda Amon

The residents of Grove Park were planning a blossom festival in 2020 and 2021. It didn’t turn out quite how they planned, but they did put together a virtual celebration which you can see here.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Where to eat outside in Chiswick April 2021

See also: Bedford Park Festival 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.

Royal Trinity Hospice welcomes “phenomenal” response of shoppers and donors as shops reopen

The local hospice for central and south west London has seen a “phenomenal” week of sales and donations in its charity shops since reopening on Monday 12 April for the first time in 2021.

As the shops reopened in the second phase of the Government’s roadmap for easing out of lockdown, 18 Royal Trinity Hospice shops reopened for shoppers:

“to indulge their love of sustainable fashion and for donors to drop off their preloved goods”.

The charity is celebrating a “phenomenal” week of sales and say they’re hoping for a continued stream of good quality donations to ensure the shops remain well-stocked and the great start continues.

Daniel Holloway, Director of Retail for Royal Trinity Hospice said:

“We couldn’t have been more excited to welcome customers back to our shops and their response and support has been phenomenal. Since reopening, the team have worked incredibly hard to ensure our shops are Covid-safe and stacked full of seasonal stock that will make a fabulous sustainable fashion statement. I’m delighted to say we’ve got off to a great start.

More good quality stock wanted

“Now what we really need is more great quality stock so we can continue this strong opening. Every donation of quality goods raises funds that will help our charity get back on its feet. We are especially keen for donations of good quality women’s and men’s fashion and I would urge our donors to ensure that their donations are in a good, saleable condition.

Royal Trinity Hospice runs shops across central and south west London as well as a range of online stores. Before the first lockdown, Trinity’s shops contributed over £5.5 million to help fund free specialist palliative and end of life care for over 2,500 Londoners every year.

For more information about donating goods and a list of goods that cannot be accepted, go to: royaltrinityhospice.london

For opening hours and individual contact information for shops go to: royaltrinityhospice.london/find-a-shop

If you’d like to see how Royal Trinity Hospice shops are keeping their staff and customers safe in their shops, go here: youtube.com

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Shops, pubs and salons reopened

See also: Where to eat outside in Chiswick

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.

West London Coroner blasts uncaring ‘care in the community’ after woman is stabbed to death

Image above: West London Coroner’s Court; photograph Nigel Cox

Uncaring ‘care in the community’ contributed to woman’s death

The Assistant Coroner for the Western Area of London, Dr Séan Cummings, has criticised the North West London NHS Foundation over the death of a woman who was stabbed to death by her housemate, and warned that more deaths could happen if they don’t take action.

Bathsheba Shepherd was killed by a young man with a history of violence who was moved into her home with no regard for her safety, despite clear and repeated evidence that he was a threat to her. Bathsheba Shepherd, known as Kay to her family, was killed in November 2015; her inquest took place in September 2020.

In his report, Dr Cummings said Kay, a middle-aged woman who suffered epileptic fits, was housed with a young man with paranoid schizophrenia and a cannabis or skunk dependence. They were both ‘extremely vulnerable individuals’.

The house they shared had two bedrooms, one living room and kitchen and one bathroom. There were problems with the heating and hot water system which caused escalating tension between the two.

Kay should have had a GP

Although she had visiting support workers, Kay did not have a social worker or care coordinator; neither did she have a GP because she needed ID to register and she declined to apply for a passport on the ground of cost.

‘The failure to have a GP meant that the source of any medication supply for her epilepsy was uncertain and I feel that it was overwhelmingly likely that she wasn’t being treated at all for her epilepsy’ the coroner wrote.

‘Not being treated put her at risk of physical injury occasioned through any fits and amounted to a significant gap in care and support offered. Not having a GP represented a missed opportunity to intervene in terms of her mental health.

‘In my view a much more assertive approach to this was required to ensure she was registered but it appears that without formal identification GP practices will not register individuals’.

Violent man moved into Kay’s home without concern for her safety

Kay was already living at the property when the Accommodation Panel approved the decision to move the young man in with her. He had been living in a psychiatric facility before moving into the house where he killed her.

Although he had been an inpatient for 15 months, neither a full psycho social assessment was undertaken nor a NHS and Community Care Acts needs assessment, the tools which are usually used to identify patients’ needs and to assess risks.

The Senior Support Worker ‘did not enquire as to the history of aggression’ before referring him to the landlord which, Dr Cummings says, was an error.

‘There is no documentary evidence of Kay being asked as to her views’ on the young man moving in.

‘There was clear and repeated evidence during stay in hospital between 31 July and 24 August 2015 of his distress at his living arrangements and that he posed a threat to Kay’s physical safety.

‘Despite this I gained the distinct impression that staff were more concerned about risks posed to them than those posed to Kay.

‘Indeed, Kay and her safety and security do not feature in the discussions or plans to ensure safety. It was as if she was not there’.

Forced to live with ‘an extremely dangerous young man’

‘The failure to expeditiously rehouse and to effectively risk assess him and manage those risks in the time between discharge from hospital and Kay’s death meant that she was living with and ultimately killed by an extremely dangerous young man who had himself recognized that he should not return to (the address, redacted) and had expressed his dislike of his flat mate to clinicians and asked to be placed elsewhere’.

The coroner’s report, which has been sent to the Chief Executive of the Central and North West London NHS Foundation and the Chief Executive of NHS England, flags up that future deaths could occur unless the health authority sorts out better liaison between the local authority (Hillingdon) and the NHS Trust.

A full five years after Kay’s death:

‘the issue of the way in which the Care Programme Approach was being conducted between the local authority and the NHS Trust was still the subject of discussion.’

It had not been resolved to the satisfaction of the manager responsible for the process.

Dr Cummings also says there must be action taken so that people like Kay can register with a GP.

‘Registration with a regular GP would in my mind have provided additional support to her. This may have enabled her to raise concerns or fears relating to her accommodation and housemate’.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

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

See also: Night tube “certainly not” returning before 2022

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Stage Ghosts and Haunted Theatres

Images above: Stage Ghosts and Haunted Theatres; Sarah Thorne, actor – manager at the Theatre Roayal, Margate, one of Nick’s ghosts

Tales both personal and sincere and apocryphal

There’s always something poignant about an empty theatre. They’re the nexus of such creative energy and high emotion, if ever there was a place where you might be inclined to feel the presence of past generations, a theatre would be it.

Nick Bromley, a West End Company Stage Manager since 1971, has just brought out a book full of tales of ghostly encounters in British and Irish theatres. Stage Ghosts and Haunted Theatres has at least two references to Chiswick.

Nick Bromley has not just dipped in to this subject and done a bit of research. He’s lived and breathed British theatre for fifty years and is intimately acquainted with many of the theatres and characters in this book.

He starts with the recollections of Harry Loman, at 91 the oldest stage doorman in the business, when Nick started work in 1971 at the Criterion theatre. Nick himself recalls the swish of a long white dress as a figure walked past his office, not seen by colleagues further along the corridor who the ‘lady in white’ must have walked past.

Not wanting to look a fool, he kept this information to himself until the day when one of the front of house staff was sitting in Harry Loman’s booth while he nipped to the loo. She started talking to a woman in a long white dress, who didn’t reply,

‘but continued to stare distainfully at her and she was just thinking ‘what a snob’ when Harry reappeared from the direction of the toilet. As he mounted the stairs she saw him literally walk right through the woman in white, completely oblivious to her presence. As he did so the woman just evaporated and vanished’.

Images above: Criterion theatre; Vaudeville theatre; Apollo Victoria

A chill in the Ladies’ loo

While actors may be a touch fanciful and given to embellishment for the sake of a good story, old timers like Harry and his lady friend were pretty down to earth.

‘They were rude and bloody-minded at times, survivors from a harder world, unsentimental about what seldom were ‘the good old days’. Harry, beneath the chirpy Kennington charm, could be as tough as they come… I once witnessed him throwing Rudolf Nureyev out of the stage door for daring to try to slip past him, ‘the prancin’ foreign git’. Even Ingrid Bergman was refused entry until I came to vouch for her’.

Stage Ghosts and Haunted Theatres is full of such characters. The Ladies loo by the upper circle of the Vaudeville is to be avoided; inhabited by ‘something horrible’ which has been known to disturb occupants. There’s a ‘presence’ in the lift at the Apollo Victoria, rumoured to be that of the caretaker who’d been stabbed to death in the base of the lift shaft. And should you feel something soft and slinky brush past your ankles at the Guilgud theatre it’s probably only Beerbohm, the long dead champion mouser who used to hang out in the dressing rooms of Maggie Smith, Penelope Keith and Michael Gambon.

Such tales are of course impossible to prove, or to disprove, but to worry about such things as veracity and provability is rather to miss the point. Nick’s book, full of tales well told and interesting illustrations of long dead luvvies both benign and malign, is the stuff of theatre lore and all part of the magic which makes a visit to the theatre so special.

Matinee idol murdered at the Adelphi

The two tales I noticed which reference Chiswick are of one long dead actor, William Terriss, ‘a matinee idol before the term was invented’ who was murdered at the Adelphi theatre; the other of Simon Reilly, the former manager of the Chiswick Playhouse theatre when it was still The Tabard theatre, and his colleague Krystina Kreculji. I know them both and would give character references in court if need be.

William Terriss was killed in 1897, in what has become one of the most infamous murders in stage history.

‘It was a murder which contained many of the elements of melodrama: a dashing, handsome hero, a beautiful woman, a demented villain and dire, predictive dreams’.

Since 1885 the Adelphi had become well known for its popular melodramas. William Terriss was top of the bill in plays such as Harbour Lights, The Union Jack and The Swordman’s Daughter. His leading lady was Jessie Milward, who always played the heroine in their productions.

‘He shuttled freely between his house in Bedford Park and Jessie’s flat in Princes Street in Mayfair’.

She began to have a recurring nightmare about him dying a violent death and then her anxiety was increased by the presence of a man who had started to haunt the stage door – ‘ a short, dark man with a squint’.

This villain was Richard Archer Prince, ‘an occasional actor and sometime supernumerary at the Adelphi and known throughout the lower levels of the theatre world as ‘Mad Archer’.

A failed actor with delusions of grandeur, ‘on the afternoon of December 16, four rejections tipped Prince over the edge’. To cap it all, ‘a prostitute working the circle promenade of the Empire Leicester Square, told him to his face that she ‘would rather see me dead in the gutter than give me a farthing’.’

Long story short, Prince stabbed Terriss to death at the back door to the theatre and his last words as he died in Jessie’s arms were exactly as she’d foreseen in her dream.

Nick Bromley reports that that Terriss’ death shocked the Victorian world:

‘Fifty thousand people lined the route as his coffin was borne from Bedford Park to Brompton Cemetery and ten thousand more crushed around his graveside’.

The ghost of William Terriss, wearing a frock coat and top hat, has been seen backstage on several occasions, according to Nick.

Images above: Tabard theatre; Simon Reilly (right) with colleague Sandra, David and Kevin McNally and Phyllis Logan

The tale in the Tabard theatre is much more prosaic. A bit of a let down frankly, after such a story of high passion. The Tabard’s ghost is benign and helpful. Their ghost mended some scenery overnight during a production of the Mikado in 2013.

As the theatres reopen and production staff get ready to meet their audiences, this is a great book to dip into so you know not only who you expect to see on stage on your visit, but who you don’t.

Reviews of Stage Ghosts and Haunted Theatres

Simon Callow: “This is the theatre as it really is. It may come as a bit of a surprise.”

Gyles Brandreth: “Absorbing, intriguing, spooktacular – this is my kind of theatre book, rich in history, great names, wonderful stories and stuff I never knew before.”

Stage Ghosts and Haunted Theatres by Nick Bromley is available from Nick’s website, priced £8.00.

lnpbooks.co.uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Simon Reilly, manager of the Tabard theatre, 2008 – 2019

See also: Chiswick Playhouse raises funds with ‘buy a seat’ campaign

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My Corona – Feeling grateful

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. 

“A Joyful spirit is evidence of a grateful heart.”

Maya Angelou

Grateful & mellow with a touch of funk

I am going to start this week’s blog with a simple thank you to the NHS staffers and volunteers who enabled my second AstraZeneca vaccine this week.

My jabs have been administered through my GP’s who are based in the Chiswick Health Centre in Fishers lane, soon to be demolished to enable a more modern, fit-for-purpose, facility. I have to say that the management, from phone calls to confirm dates, to well-organised queues and the jab itself, has been seamless. Both times I have been out on the street within 15 minutes of my allotted appointment time.

I did manage a brief conversation with the doctor who actually ‘gave me the needle’ about how much better the NHS & volunteer run vaccine programme had been than the out-sourced Serco and co ‘Track & Trace’ fiasco. She did tell me that in this area the testing regime had recently been handed over to the local Public Health England team but I could find no verification of this on-line.

Some of my friends and social media contacts have complained that the after effects of the second dose have been more pronounced with several feeling poorly for a day or two. However, as I write this some 48 hours after, I have not felt any symptoms that I can identify with the jab, though the glands in my neck seemed a little ‘up’ for a while. Yesterday, Sunday, I did feel a little more fatigued than usual in the evening but I suspect three pints of foaming ale and a massive Sunday lunch at The Raven may have had something to do with that.

So, this weekend I did my best to ignore all the negative aspects of current issues, both local and global and focus on affirmative emotions. I let myself float on a cloud of gratitude. I was determined to recognise and appreciate my great fortune to be living in a leafy suburb of this great city where there are parks and green spaces a plenty and to have the health and resources to enjoy them.

Feeling Mellow

As I came out of the health centre I cut across a Chiswick Common bathed in warm spring Saturday afternoon sunshine. The smiles of a population newly released from the worst of the Covid restrictions were obvious. The sounds of a group of children playing with their friends, possibly for the first time in many months mixed with the more urgent shouts: “space, space” or “down the line”, from the five-a-side football pitches.

The Rocks Lane courts for the recent phenomenon of ‘Padel Ball’ were full with clearly competitive participants. I sat on a bench with my take away coffee as all the outdoor tables of local cafes were occupied and was able to have the kind of relaxed conversation with a stranger that would have been unlikely pre-Covid. Suddenly, we have a shared experience of a crisis that has lowered barriers – at least for a while. Oh, that it may continue!

The lady that I chatted with had a fluffy dog of some kind; I am not a doggy person so don’t ask me what breed, and the poor thing was clearly unsettled. She explained that this was its first experience of a busy environment after months of quiet solitary walks and it was obviously getting sensory overload. It struck me that, just as many people are struggling with a return to social activity, that pets too had got used to being with just their owners with all the attention that resulted. This poor thing had just been secluded for probably ten ‘doggy years’ and was now having to get used to noisy children, bikes and joggers all within a couple of feet. Mind you, on Sunday in The Raven I noticed that Albert, the pub cat, was having no reservations and was clearly strolling around to remind everyone who was boss!

Knowing I was booked for my Sunday lunch the next day and in the knowledge that there was a chance I might have side effects that evening, my Saturday evening was a quite one. Come the next morning I decided to take a detour to the boozer for a stroll round Ravenscourt Park and check on the Egyptian Geese and frog spawn/tadpoles I have been commenting on. One of the great joys in life is to sit in a café or in a park with a book. I find it easy to shout out the external noises and concentrate on whatever I am reading. It’s a particular favourite travelling holiday pastime. Alternatively, particularly in restaurants, peaking over the top of the pages is great cover for people watching. So, I sat on a bench intent on reading a few pages but the opportunity to observe life unfolding was just too much to miss.

It struck me that many children would have had to forgo their birthday parties over the last year or so and clearly, there was now a chance to celebrate this or even last year’s birthday. There were several areas informally marked out with picnic paraphernalia and even bunting, with a parent organising some games for small children and others clearly catching up with the gossip. Some groups had dads clutching cans of beer and mums their plastic cups of Pinot Grigio whereas others, probably Muslims adhering to Ramadan, gathered talking but in abstinence. One of the joys of Ravenscourt Park over this year has been the wide diversity of people enjoying the facility in their own way. Looking across the various picnic groups I could see bikinis and shorts, saris and turbans, dreads and hijabs. Whatever the religion or ethnicity there is a shared humanity in having the kids let off steam in the fresh air instead of the living room.

The work out groups and youths kicking balls were out in force, the tennis and basket ball courts were full and the joggers ranged from full lycra-ed trim twenty year olds to forty-plus-somethings in baggy rugby shirts hinting at somewhat fitter times. The sun was warm enough that a few brave souls were either touching up the sun-bed tans or exposing alabaster white skins to the first rays of the year. There was a buzz of contentment that receded behind me as I headed for a proper pint. The rest of the day eased itself towards evening like a contented old geezer into his favourite armchair.

Is the crisis fully past us? I doubt it. Will there be Covid-idiots enough to kick off another wave? I fear it. I know when I switch on the evening news there will enough negativity to nag away at my sense of well-being but there are just times when you need to switch off. If you have got this far into the pandemic without losing a close loved one, if you live in a country with a health service that has already provided you with two vaccinations and if you have just been given extra gravy and roast potatoes without even having asked for them then you need to recognise your luck.

They’ll be plenty enough for me to rant about tomorrow.

Feeling Funky

Having shared my mellow mood I think I should shake you back up with a classic funk/disco song from 1979. I can’t really say that the name Al Hudson automatically springs readily to mind. Much of this type of dance music from the late ‘70’s was probably past its best and highly derivative. This track has obvious echoes of earlier, more innovative bands like Kool and the Gang and Chic but it has a simple energy that makes even old geezers like me spring (well, sort of) out of that easy chair and strut some moves from the days of revolving crystal balls. In this, should I say ‘one hit wonder’, “You Can Do It” Al Hudson and the Partners had a new vocalist in their ranks, Alicia Myers. I think it is her soaring voice that helps this song stand out.

Read more blogs by Keith

Read the next one – My Corona – April is the cruellist month

Read the previous one – My Corona – It’s Opening Time & Kick Off in the Fresh Air

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.nbsp;

We’re in Wisden!

Our podcast is reviewed in Wisden! And favourably at that.

Peter Oborne and Richard Heller have been delivering their cricket podast for a year now. They started with Wisden 2020 and have just reviewed Wisden 2021.

Wisden has noticed. Imagine their thrill when they opened this year’s cricketing bible to find that the podcast reviewer James Gingell regarded our podcast as a ‘welcome’ addition to the genre.

‘It’s outwardly fusty, inwardly modern, social and political as much as sporting.’

(I say ‘our’ podcast. The Chiswick Calendar produces it. Success has many fathers!) The reviewer was pretty rude about some of the others. Here’s what he wrote:

Wisden’s Almanack 2021 podcast review

Cricket Podcasts in 2020 by James Gingell

Hobby Horses and hang-ups 

In early spring, Covid-19 seemed to have inverted economic doctrine, with US oil prices going negative and a Conservative Chancellor paying people not to work. Podcasters seemed gripped by market madness too: while listeners dropped by as much as a fifth – probably caused by a drastic reduction in commuting – the number of new podcasts shot up.

It made for much surplus. Mark Nicholas named his show Rain Delay, presumably to steel his audience for the hours of aimlessness and frustration. It doesn’t take long to forget that Nicholas is an excellent sports broadcaster, or to recall that Alan Partridge began life in a similar vocation…. Still, Geoffrey Boycott’s Corridor of Certainty, three and a half hours of the same old hobby horses and hang-ups, was somehow worse.

Others were welcome. Peter Oborne and Richard Heller’s On Cricket evokes the plum and dust of parliamentary tearooms – never more than when Lord Jeffrey Archer of Weston-super-Mare claims that Ian Botham was Victoria Cross material – only with far more open-minded hosts. Tim Wigmore persuades them Twenty20 does have nuance, Mihir Bose that cricket is the only world sport run by non-white people. It’s outwardly fusty, inwardly modern, social and political as much as sporting: in some ways it was the Almanack to the Wisden Cricket Podcast’s monthly magazine.

James Gingell is a civil servant whose only partiality is to Somerset CCC.  

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Oborne & Heller on Cricket podcasts

See also: John Cleese swaps cricket stories with Peter Oborne & Richard Heller

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.