Automatic traffic counters ripped out in Grove Park

Images above: Automatic traffic counters ripped out in Gordon Rd, Grove Park Terrace and Hartington Rd 

The automatic strips for counting traffic which have recently been installed in Grove Park to measure the number of vehicles driving through have been systematically ripped out by vandals.

Residents noticed on Bank Holiday Monday (31 May) that the cables had been cut and thrown to the side of the road in different locations around Grove Park. In all, 20 of the 37 fittings have been vandalised.

Traffic schemes were introduced in south Chiswick during 2020 to try and stop commuters cutting through a residential area to shave a couple of minutes off their journey time.

The Streetspace schemes were introduced in the area south of the A4 which includes Grove Park and Strand on the Green, to try and dissuade drivers cutting off the corner on their way from the A316 to the A4 to avoid Hogarth roundabout.

There has been a dramatic fall in traffic in the area since the street schemes were installed. Hounslow’s traffic mangers installed automatic traffic counters in September 2019, then again in September 2020 and again in May 2021 so they can compare the traffic flow after the end of lockdown, to make a more realistic comparison on which to base future decisions.


Cllr Guy Lambert, a member of the Cabinet on Hounslow Council who has supported the introduction of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, told The Chiswick Calendar: “such appalling vandalism doesn’t really help anyone”.

“I can only assume whoever’s done this doesn’t want the facts to come out, which isn’t very clever. Now things will be delayed, the traffic officers will have to go and buy more and reinstall them, which will add to the cost. Things will be delayed. It’s very counterproductive”.

Cllr Sam Hearn, a member of the Conservative opposition on the council, in whose ward Grove Park falls, told us:

“It’s mindless. Without data you can’t make proper judgements. You can have a sensible debate and dispute data once you have it, but you can’t discuss it sensibly if you don’t have the data. All you’re left with is assumptions”.

But he added: “When the council doesn’t communicate with people it’s not surprising a few of them take exception to things they don’t understand. There was no explanation as to why they’re there”.

Automatic traffic counters vandalised in Burlington Lane, Burnaby Gardens, Devonshire Gardens, Fauconberg Rd, Grove Park Bridge, Grove Park Gardens, Grove Park Rd, Grove Park Terrace, Hartington Rd, Kinnaird Avenue, St Mary’s Rd and St Thomas’ Rd.

Traffic counters under discussion

The Facebook group OneChiswick, who are taking the council to Judicial Review over the cycle lane through Chiswick, published a list of locations where the traffic counting strips had been placed a few days earlier. There is no suggestion that the organisers of OneChiswick are behind the vandalism. They told us:

‘A discussion thread was started on the OneChiswick Facebook page five days ago asking where traffic counters were being located.

‘A discussion ensued in which contributors discuss the purpose of the traffic counters, including the benefit such data to the debate over low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) and other streetspace measures.

The discussion references locations, including why certain locations do not have traffic counters, namely those roads onto which traffic has been displaced by the low traffic neighbourhood and other streetspace measures, such as the A316, Burlington Lane and Goldhawk Road. (In other words, the thrust of the thread is whether Hounslow Council has sought to manipulate which data it has chosen to collect.)

The location of sites in this thread are provided in 45 different posts over five days by several dozen contributors. They are NOT provided in a list published by OneChiswick. The 45 posts reference counters all over Chiswick, and in other boroughs, in locations such as Isleworth, Acton, and as far away as Dulwich.

‘OneChiswick abhors vandalism of any kind and would never seek to encourage it’.

Images above: Snapshots from the OneChiswick thread listing places in Chiswick where there are automatic traffic counters

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See more: Dramatic drops in traffic in south Chiswick

See more: Brentford FC join the Premier League

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.

Could it Be Magic?

Magician and comedian Paul Aitchison is performing his show Could It Be Magic? on 11 and 18 June at The Chiswick Playhouse.

Paul plays a number of characters competing in a magic competition in his show for people who love magic but might not love all the egos that perform it.

“Magic, at best, is taking something fascinating that people can’t understand but have a lovely time watching,” said Paul.

“When magicians make it all about ‘look how clever I am, look how cool I am, look how handsome I am’ and not about the audience, that’s when I get frustrated watching it and turn it off.”  Paul has taken what he doesn’t like about magic and made it “fun and joyous and silly.”

“It takes some really high pressured situations, when things start to crumble around them, which I find inherently funny”

Paul has a background in improvised comedy so the audience make suggestions throughout. “The audience are most of the show,” explains Paul who is excited to be back on stage with a live audience, “That adrenalin you have in the dressing room waiting to go on, you never really have that  in a Zoom waiting room about to entertain a group of accountants.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: What’s on in Chiswick

See also: Chiswick Cheese Market gets off to a cracking start

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.

High Road Lights up with local art

Did you notice some colourful new artworks while waiting for the bus this weekend?

Future Visions, is the result of a collaboration between Hounslow Council and local artists. It went up on Sunday and will be shown across the borough on digital screens for the next two weeks, aiming to brighten up our streets with bold and hopeful works created during the pandemic.

Miguel Galue,  Reaching for the Sun. Photograph Lucinda MacPherson

Miguel Galue, pictured above holding his work Reaching for the Sun, lives near the Russian Church in Chiswick. Originally from Venezuela, Miguel moved to Chiswick in 2007, attracted by its green spaces and the river.  You might have seen him around, as he prefers the immediacy and energy of outside space when painting or sketching. Although he studied for a short time at The Slade School of Fine Art and originally trained as an architect,  Miguel describes himself as self-taught, and credits London Transport as his classroom, where he often gets out his sketch books to draw the passengers.

He also sets up his easel by the Thames, and one of his favourite paintings is an acrylic sketch on canvas called Pink River, “I love the river, it’s a place of meditation. I went there to relax, especially during the lockdown and the painting captures that sense of peace.”

Miguel holding his favourite painting of the river. Photograph by Lucinda MacPherson

“Going to all the museums and galleries in London was also a great way to learn from the masters themselves.” Miguel has a particular passion for the landscape artist J.M.W. Turner “When I visited Tate I became obsessed with his work and his sketch books, which are so inspiring”.

Miguel originally studied architecture in Venezuela and was a musician, but when he felt  his home country had became too violent and dangerous in 1998, he made his own way, alone, and at the age of just 18, to the United States where he fostered ambitions to make his living as an artist, before coming to London in 2004.

The work chosen by Hounslow Council to go on display across the borough is a departure from his usual style, as he explains,

“My work is quite fluid, I am a very restless person. I do a lot of line figure painting, but also mixed media and collage. This piece is a bit different from my usual work; it’s quite abstract and not realistic at all. But when you break out of your routine you find surprises. It’s literally a very quick drawing in pastels and I just did it during the pandemic.

“I was having a really hard time and, just like everyone else, I lost a couple of family members, and this simple drawing of two arms reaching out to the sun is a basic expression of us wanting to come out of this and see an end to what we were going through. It was expressed in the simplest manner. Very raw.”

He has signed the painting Piqueras, which was his maternal grandfather’s surname.

“He has been an inspiration in my life in general, but in recent years he was really encouraging me to pursue my art with everything I had.”

“About five years ago, we had a good chat about art at his home in Madrid over a glass of wine and he shared with me some stories about his trips through France and Paris in his youth. On that day, I told him I had started signing my latest work with his surname. I am very glad I had that conversation with him as he and my grandmother both passed away during the first wave of the pandemic.”

“In one of my recent trips to Madrid, before the pandemic, I visited him at the Retirement Home and he told me in private to go into his closet and bring back to London four framed sketches he received in Montmartre during his trips; these pieces by artists Michel Simonidy and Antoine Mayo are now hanging here at home and are a constant source of inspiration and remembrance – they definitely inspired my Reaching for the Sun piece.”

“I didn’t expect it to go this far and be exhibited like this. But I hope people find a message of positivity in it.”

Miguel’s and other local artists’ work can be seen on digital screens at bus stops near Prebend Gardens, the Power House, Mayfield Avenue, Brackley Road and Windmill Road for two weeks and will be exhibited in libraries across the borough thereafter.

LtoR Giacomo Giannelli, Blue Flower; Krystle Patel, Bewilderment of the Vanguard are also in Future Visions

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Turner’s English Coasts

See also: Harold Pinter lived in a small flat in Chiswick High Road, the inspiration for one of his greatest plays.

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 13: Chaos and confusion at the heart of government

Incompetence and chaos at the heart of government is the theme of this week’s podcast from the Three Old Hacks.

Dominic Cummings’ seven hour session in front of a parliamentary committee, pouring bile on the heads of both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock, has given them plenty to talk about.

Dilyn’s lookalike, Alfie

The Three Old Hacks, aka writer and broadcaster Mihir Bose, Economics Editor of the Sunday Times David Smith and political commentator Nigel Dudley have worked with both politicians in their long careers as journalists, and for them the Cummings testimony has the distinct ring of truth.

Meanwhile Nigel’s dog Alfie is getting jealous of all the attention Britain’s first dog Dilyn has been attracting.

More Platforms

Listen to more episodes here.

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

Episode 54: George Headley and a supporting cast of two emperors, one king and Evita Peron, in Latin America’s cricketing drama

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.

Timothy Abraham and James Coyne are co-editors of the perennially fascinating and expanding section of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack on cricket around the world. Together they completed a long-cherished project, a personal odyssey into Latin American cricket, which took them from Mexico to the southernmost tip of Chile. They have just published an unputdownable book about it called Evita Burned Down Our Pavilion. They discuss it with Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their cricket-themed podcast, which returns after a short interval.

More Platforms

Timothy and James set out their aims for the book in uncovering the riches in Latin America’s cricket story and set out their contribution to the global history of cricket. They describe their regular thrill at discovering lost cricket stories, especially in the oral memories of Latin American cricketers or their families or descendants. The British generally left detailed records of the cricket clubs they founded and the tours that they made, but Timothy and James uncovered very much more in newspaper archives and online research and personal contacts, including two men in their nineties who had played cricket before the Second World War. They were occasionally mistaken for spies from the International Cricket Conference. 2-7 minutes

Latin America’s greatest contribution to cricket was George Headley – born in Panama where thousands of West Indian migrants worked in grim conditions on the Canal or in the mines. Remarkably, Headley had his early sports upbringing as a Spanish-speaking baseball player. Timothy and James met people who had seen him play in exhibition matches in his native land. Often played on pitches burnt by kerosene to dry them after downpours, these may have helped his superlative bad wicket technique. 8-12 minutes

They reveal some of the astonishing individual stories within the book:

  • Philip Whitcombe’s could be a John Le Carré novel, the teenage wicketkeeper at an English public school, whose natural father was the notorious drug baron Pablo Escobar, and whose adoptive father was an MI6 agent 13-18 minutes
  • The first-class tour of Argentina led by Plum Warner in the 1920s, and his harsh captaincy of a future British Prime Minister 24-28 minutes
  • The early prowess of Simon Bolivar, the liberator, as a bowler: in an act of high symbolism he knocked off the cap of the future King of Spain 51-53 minutes
  • The two Latin American emperors who loved cricket 46-48 minutes
  • Brian Johnstone’s early adventures in Brazil in the family coffee business, including keeping wicket in a state fixture 41-44 minutes
  • CLR James trying to explain cricket to a bemused Trotsky in exile in Mexico City 55-58 minutes
  • the England footballers who played two challenge cricket matches in Mexico 49-50 minutes
  • The Smith Vaughan cricketing family of Nicaragua and their encounter with the Sandinista revolution 28-34 minutes
  • The title story: why Evita Peron instigated the arson of the Buenos Aires Cricket Club pavilion after thinking herself snubbed by the British Royal Family 21-24 minutes

In almost every Latin American country, cricket was established as part of Britain’s commercial expansion ahead of other sports. Timothy and James offer explanations why it was overtaken by the contact sports of football and rugby, especially the insistence in the best British-run clubs on carefully prepared grass pitches. For native Latin Americans without money or connexions, it was simply much easier to play and progress in football, rugby or other sports than in cricket. The interwar period was the apogee of cricket in Latin America, especially Argentina, but it failed to recruit enough local players outside the British-led élite. After the war, cricket was also hit by the loss of Britain’s commercial influence and assets in Latin America to the United States, and by the advent of left-wing or populist governments. 18-23 minutes

For all that, organized cricket is still played in every Latin American country, and is gaining young adherents in many countries, where cricket projects often have a special role in rehabilitating children and young people have lived with violence. 59-63 minutes

Get in touch with us by emailing, we would love to hear from you!

Listen to more episodes of Oborne & Heller

Previous Episode – Episode 53: The County Championship – past, present and future – by its great historian Stephen Chalke

Listen to all episodes – Oborne & Heller on Cricket

Peter Oborne, Richard Heller

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

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

Oborne & Heller cricketing partnership

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

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

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

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Chiswick Flower Market celebrates British Flowers Week

Image above: Window boxes by Finest Plants; photograph Frank Noon

British Flowers Week in June celebrates the beauty and variety of British cut flowers, foliage and plants, as well as the florists, growers and wholesalers who make it all possible.

Chiswick Flower Market on Sunday 6 June is one place you can come and buy British. Several of our stall holders grow their own and others make a point of buying British when they can.

Chiswick House Gardens, the award winning 65 acre estate developed by the 3rd earl of Burlington and eighteenth century landscape gardener William Kent, will be supplying heritage plants: pre-1850 varieties of pelargonium, beautifully scented stocks from heritage seed supplier Thomas Etty and the strongly scented pink Jacques Cartier roses brought over from the Empress Josephine’s gardens in the 1820s by Louis Kennedy, which adorn the Italian Garden.

Apart from the strange satisfaction of knowing you have an English garden that looks much as it might have looked two hundred years ago, the benefit of heritage plants is that you know you couldn’t buy anything more suited to the English garden and climate. “You don’t have to look after them too much”, says head gardener Geraldine King.

Zero carbon footprint too. Chiswick House volunteers cycle their cut flowers all of the thousand metres to the market on Chiswick High Rd in an elephant bike donated by broadcaster Jeremy Vine, a supporter of both enterprises.

Image above: Chiswick House Italian Garden; photograph Jennifer Griffiths

Gardening royalty Rosy and Rob Hardy have become regulars at Chiswick Flower market. They have won 24 gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show. This year the great and good of the flower world came to them, including Gardeners World presenter Adam Frost and BBC Breakfast presenter Mike Bushell.

The Hardys retired from Chelsea this year and created their Chelsea garden at their nursery in Hampshire instead. They’ll be bringing the herbaceous perennials for which they have become famous to the Chiswick Flower Market in June, including top sellers Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’, Thalictrum ‘Chantilly Lace’ and Penstemon ‘Rich Ruby’.

Images above: Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ and Penstemon ‘Rich Ruby’, Hardy’s plants; Rosy Hardy at Chiswick Flower Market; photograph Anna Kunst

Steve Burridge is a Columbia Rd trader of many years’ standing, who has had a stall at Chiswick Flower Market since it opened last September. For the past 25 years he and his brother Peter have owned their own nursery in Hertfordshire to supply their stalls.

Finest Plants also has a smallholding in at Kings Langley in Hertfordshire. Grower Danny Molina puts together beautiful hanging baskets from the flowers they grow. The weather has been atrocious but he’s hoping to bring Lupins, Delphiniums, Armeria (sea thrift), Phlox, Eryngium (Blue Hobbit) and Lavender (Munstead) as well as bedding plants – Bizzy Lizzies, Begonias and Petunias – grown in St Albans and Geraniums and Dahlias from Essex.

British growers struggle to compete with Dutch growers, where horticulture is the national industry. We don’t cultivate flowers in anything like the same volume and supply is therefore less reliable.


Image above: Steve Burridge

Traders such as Rose Lily Flowers and Isabella florist buy mainly from continental Europe but buy English where the opportunity arises. Joe Brown from Rose Lily Flowers buy from one of the biggest UK flower growers, Smith & Munson and is hoping to sell English Lillies, Scabious, Larkspur, Delphiniums and Peonies at the June market. Stephen Hudson from Isabella florist is planning on bringing Chrysanthemums and Irises, which he gets from a greenhouse at Nazeing in Essex.

Several of our traders buy from London’s wholesalers at New Covent Garden market, which is organising British Flowers Week, 14th – 20th June. Lily Fitch, who runs Lily Matilda, buys a lot of her English flowers from Pratleys Flowers and Plants, and GB foliage.

“I would love to have the June market filled with English Roses and branches of old roses, Peonies, late sweet peas, Foxgloves, Sweet William, Geums” says Lily. “Of course all flowers are dependent on the weather, so fingers crossed”.

Chiswick Flower Market takes place in Old Market Place on Chiswick High Rd, W4 2DR (outside George IV pub; nearest tube Turnham Green on the District line). Selling cut flowers and live plants, bedding plants, herbaceous perennials and houseplants, hanging baskets, pots and planted window boxes, strawberry plants and grow your own mushrooms. 9.30 am – 3.00 pm, Sunday 6 June.

Visitors can explore all that Chiswick has to offer, with its many quirky independent shops, cafes and restaurants, riverside walks and the newly reopened Chiswick House.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Brentford FC join the Premier League

See also: Turner’s English Coasts exhibition

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.

Bedford Park Festival Latest News

Calling all young bakers!

The Bedford Park Festival is looking for up to 18 ‘star bakers’ aged 8-12 years to enter its Bake-Off Challenge on Saturday June 12th.  It’s one of the highlights of the Children’s Fun Day that will open this year’s Festival in place of the annual Green Days weekend, which cannot be held because of COVID restrictions.

The Bake-Off Challenge is to produce 24 cookies or 12 fairy cakes, decorated with images of The Animal Kingdom – the Fun Day theme. The cakes will be assessed by a panel of judges, headed by cookery writer and broadcaster Jo Pratt (pictured), one of the team behind Chiswick’s Cookbook Kitchen and the monthly Chiswick Cheese Market – and a former parent at Orchard House School, which is sponsoring the event.

“It will be a fun, relaxed event and, while it’s a competition, it will primarily be about the enjoyment of cooking, so please encourage your young bakers to take part” says Christina Balmer, who is organising the Children’s Fun Day which will be held in St Michael & All Angels Parish Hall, from 12.30 to 2.30pm.

Entrants must provide their own ingredients and bring with them the utensils they need to use (mixing bowl, wooden spoon, rolling pin). Scales will be provided, but they can also bring their ingredients already measured out. The event will be held under COVID restrictions, and no more than 18 young bakers will be able to take part.

The entrants will have 20 minutes to prepare their mixtures which will then be baked in the oven (handled by the Festival’s kitchen team). After allowing time for the bakes to cool, entrants will have a further 20 minutes to decorate them ahead of the judging. The judges’ decision will be final! The cakes and cookies will then be sold on the Bake-Off Cake stall in aid of the church and its charities.

The Children’s Fun Day will begin with the annual Fancy Dress Parade – a highlight of the Bedford Park Festival for more than 50 years (see pictures). Children aged 10 and under are invited to dress up as members of The Animal Kingdom. The winners will receive book prizes from Trotters in Turnham Green Terrace and all entrants will be given ice cream vouchers from Fouberts.

There will also be fun fitness games with Reiss McGrath, the sports coach at Falcons Pre-Preparatory School, in two separate age categories. And in the Story Corner, there will be readings of Anthony Browne’s Ernest the Elephant and Gaspard’s Foxtrot, written by Radio 4 newsreader Zeb Soanes and illustrated by James Mayhew. (Illustration from Gaspard’s Foxtrot © James Mayhew). The Story Corner is supported by Chiswick & Bedford Park Preparatory School and Young Veterinary Partnership.

The Covers Are Off: Civil War at Lord’s – talk by Charles Sale on 17 June

Elsewhere, this week saw the publication of The Covers Are Off: Civil War at Lord’s by former Daily Mail sports columnist Charles Sale, prompting this headline in The Times: “Bitter feud over expansion of Lord’s stands revealed”. Charles will talk about the book on June 17th in St Michael & All Angels Church and ticket-holders can pre-order signed copies at the discount price of £12 (up till June 4th). The evening is supported by Whitman & Co, which also sponsors Chiswick Cricket Club.

Art and Photography exhibitions plus Flower Festival

There is still time for people (of all ages) to submit their artworks for the Bedford Park Summer Exhibition and the Photography Exhibition and to register entries for the Bedford Park Flower Festival on the theme ‘New Beginnings’, marking the 50th anniversary of the first Flower Festival.

The Bedford Park Festival runs from Saturday June 12th to Sunday June 27th. Full details of all Festival events, and how to enter and buy tickets, can be found at

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Bedford Park Festival Photography Competition 2021

See also: Fancy That!

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 – Parting is such sweet sorrow and other rants

“Gilly Oh golly, how I love my lolly,
Down to the very last lick,
But when you are through with it, what can you do with it,
All you have left is the stick.

When you come to the end of a lollipop,
To the end, to the end, of a lollipop,
When you come to the end of a lollipop,
Plop goes your heart!”

Max Bygraves

Max hit the right note.

So, we come to the end of this particular lollipop.  I am not sure how many hearts will go ‘plop’ but I certainly think I have nothing much left to lick.

Indeed, as we come to the end of this particular iteration of the pandemic I feel that continuing to blog ‘My Corona’ would be a bit like chewing the end of the lolly stick.  While it is clearly far too early to say we are anywhere near the end of the covid crisis, any more blogging about it and my proverbial mouth would taste just like it had chewed the end of a particularly stale stick.  No, in Ravenscourt Park my favourite Egyptian geese have grown up and are ready to leave the roost, (if that’s what geese do) the tadpoles have seemingly disappeared from the nature reserve pond and when it is raining I can drink my coffee inside a café instead of sitting on a wet park bench. It’s time to move on.

And what a year!

Some 320,000 words in 160 plus blogs over 14 months (ten months in Chiswick Calendar) have described how I coped with each wave of Covid and the short periods between them. I have generally tried to put them in the context of my physical space: being confined in my flat during lock downs and contained within my West London locality at other times.  However, I have, sometimes to The Calendar’s editor Bridget’s trepidation, wandered into the political, both in a local and a broader sense.  How could I not?  During the period I have been blogging the world has seen the OrangeShitGibbon prized from his populist throne in the White House, my second home of Nigeria suffer judicial slaughter during the EndsSARS protests and the murder of George Floyd (amongst others) by American police sparking world-wide protests by Black Lives Matter and others.  Here in the UK that helped catalyse the Colston Statue incident and stir the establishment media into the gammon inspired culture wars.  I even attended and wrote about Chiswick’s own BLM demonstration.  Behind all this the backdrop has been a government, dubiously incompetent at best, deeply elitist and corrupt at worse, mismanaging the UK’s response to the pandemic.  Even further, above and behind, the perpetually looming and visible signs of a planet near breaking point: wild fires from Australia to California via the Amazon and South Africa, Caribbean island destroying hurricanes, Texas freezing storms and platitude spouting politicians bigging up their environmentalist qualifications while signing off climate destroying policies and programmes. Yet, here, in my neighbourhood the thing that most gets the good burghers of Chiswick upset is not the pandemic, the corruption in high places nor the looming extinction event. No, what steams them up is that their rat run to their favourite Café has been blocked off and they can’t park in the way of cyclists anymore.

Thanks for the opportunity

So, at this point I have to express my gratitude to Bridget for gritting her teeth and occasionally letting me off the leash.  After all, my argument is that much of my writing has been about the mental health aspects of this crisis and all of these topics have certainly impacted on my psychological well-being.  After all, to quote Jiddu Krishnamurti: “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

Nevertheless, the vast majority of the words I have tapped out sitting in my Chiswick flat with the broad skies streaming in through the balcony windows have reflected the gratitude I have felt at being where I was during these dystopian times.  To be sheltering in a leafy West London borough with parks and green spaces is such a privilege.  Though separated from one son, I have been able to enjoy the company of the other and we have both benefitted from the sense of community that the pandemic has engendered along our corridor of apartments.  To develop from ‘nodding’ neighbours to supportive friends has been exceptional. On my daily shopping and exercise stroll the smiles and be-masked conversations in the independent shops and take-away cafes have been like little jewels.  If I have banged on about the importance of a proper local pub with a sense of community it is because I believe in the importance of proper local pubs with a sense of community. In the knowledge that these are disappearing under the steam hammer of the property companies, I cherish The Raven as one of the very few within walking distance.  As we opened up to be able to go back in and sit at the ‘locals’ table is yet another privilege to be recognised.

So, my thanks go to Bridget and all The Chiswick Calendar crew for allowing me this platform and my gratitude to anyone who has the patience to have been a regular reader.  I am a big fan of the website in any case for local news and the support given to local businesses and the community.  I hope to pop up occasionally with the odd review of ‘Jazz at George IV’ but will be mostly focussing on my own creative writing.  Who knows, I might one day get my own stuff reviewed at the Chiswick Book Festival!

One aspect of the blog that has remained constant whether I have been in rant or ‘count my blessings’ mode has been the closing music video.  Early on there was usually a connection back to Chiswick or West London but as it became harder to keep finding those geographical links, they became more a reflection of the blog content itself.  Funnily enough, I have had more mail and comments about the music from CC readers than anything else.  A couple of regulars have sent suggestions, links and even recommended vinyl shops.  By a long way, the issue that has had most comment on my website has been that of mental health.  Anytime I wrote about how some people struggled or if I was open about any struggles of my own it seemed to strike a chord and someone would write to me of their personal battles.  I do not believe we yet know the full extent of any crisis in the mental health of NHS and key workers, as well as the public at large.

In consideration of those in India

I thought quite a bit about my final music selection.  I almost went for one of my all-time favourites, listened to in Hounslow High Street music shop booths, which would have pushed me towards Jimi Hendrix or Otis Redding.  However, I have gone for something else.  I have long been a fan of Indian music prodigy, the bassist Mohini Dey.  Touring since she was just 11 years old, now in her twenties she is already a ‘maestro’ of the bass guitar.  So, it was following her that took me into this 2014 clip of Berklee Music Academy honouring Indian musical genius A R Rahman. Born as A S Dileep Kumar in Madras in 1967, Rahman is probably the pre-eminent composer of Indian (particularly Tamil) film soundtracks music combining western, Hindustani, Carnatic and other styles.  This video is of a version of one of his apparently better known tracks ‘Thee Thee’.  I know very little about Indian film music but the breadth of this composition and the little matter of Mohini Dey’s unbelievable bass playing just blew me away. I believe she is still just 18 in this performance!

I also chose it in solidarity to the ordinary people of India suffering from the terrible wave of what has become known as ‘The Indian Variant’ and in the knowledge that Chiswick is in the borough of Hounslow with many people of Indian Sub-continent background who will be fearful for their loved ones back there.

Read more blogs by Keith

Read the previous one – My Corona – Mississippi Swamp Dogs

See more of Keith’s work on his website –

Feel free to post any comments or suggestions there or by email to

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

From Hogarth to Peter Blake

By Adrian Biddell

Local resident and Head of Paintings & Fine Art at Chiswick Auctions, Adrian Biddell, talks paintings in this month’s guest blog.

From William Hogarth to Sir Peter Blake, Chiswick has long been a favoured haunt of artists. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the Fine Arts are flourishing at Chiswick Auctions. We have had an incredibly busy start to 2021, with picture auctions during February, March and April totalling well north of £1 million.

Sales have included the inspirational Collection of Allen and Beryl Freer, packed with Modern British art; our sale of Urban and Contemporary Art featuring pieces with Charles Saatchi provenance; 19th & 20th Century European Paintings & Works on Paper including Portrait Miniatures, and most recently a bonanza of three specialist sales in one day: Middle Eastern & North African Art; Old Master Paintings & Drawings (including a ‘white glove’ frame sale)#; and Modern & Post-War British Art.

The Freer sale in February, subtitled The Delighted Eye Part II, followed Part I held at Christie’s a year earlier. Delayed by the pandemic, pent up demand ensured it was a virtual sell out and prices notably strong. Teeming with names who have moulded the popular ‘Modern British’ aesthetic since the War, the likes of Prunella Clough, Eileen Agar, Terry Frost, Ivon Hitchens and John Nash were extensively represented, with the highest price in the sale by Agar (£9,687). For Huon Mallieu in Country Life it was subjects from nature that truly ‘delighted’. Describing lot 53 by Mary Newcomb (sold for £3,264; estimate £500-700), he wrote lyrically: ‘…one could almost hear the buzz of her 6¾ by 8 inch pencil, chalk and gouache drawing of a bee’ (Country Life, 10th March 2021).

Holding Hands, STIK

In March our Urban & Contemporary sale was peppered with the customary subversives. These included French street-art ‘old masters’ Mr Brainwash and Blek Le Rat, the American KAWS, and British artists Banksy, Messrs. Doodle and Brainwash, Xenz, and Pure Evil. The highest price was achieved by STIK, whose five prints Holding Hands (Yellow, Turquoise, Orange, Blue, Red) achieved £10,000. Behind the Urban noise, were other more established names (hard though it may be to so describe them): Americans Christopher Wool and Keith Haring; the ever-inventive David Shrigley; a sketch by Bob Dylan; the pulsating colour of Anish Kapoor and the work of one-time young British YBA tearaways Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin. Of the works boasting a Saatchi connection, 60% were by female artists.

The Magic Fish, Marie-Louise von Mesick (left) and Portrait miniature of Thomas Ashton, George Engleheart (right)

One week on, the sale of 19th and 20th century pictures was a category best at Chiswick, realising £332,500 against a combined low estimate of £222,500. The Magic Fish by Austrian émigré Marie-Louise von Mesick was the catch of the day, achieving a new world record for the artist (£18,750). Friend I of 1931 by fellow Austrian Louis Christian Hess also sold well (£10,625). Both artists were keenly influenced by German Expressionist Max Beckmann. Post-War painters that attracted attention included the ‘underground’ Czech painter Mikulas Medek and New Zealand Modernist Pat Hanly whose three oils quadrupled pre-sale expectations to achieve a combined £23,500. Traditional 19th century tastes were assuaged in the shape of ten oils of cardinals, cavaliers and gentlemen of learning by the leading artists of this distinctive genre: Landini, Brunery and Vibert. Rounding off the sale were sixty portrait miniatures, the highest price for which was by George Engleheart (£4,000). Elsewhere a work by Laurence Hilliard, son of the eminent Nicholas Hilliard, realised £3,750.

The Toast, Andrea Landini (left) and La danse, Baha Mahieddine (right)

Our second sale of Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern & North African art kicked off the trio of sales on 22nd April. A tightly curated 45 lots, it featured 32 artists from Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia and the Gulf. Interestingly, 25% of the artists were women, their works accounting for a third of the sale by value, including the top two prices: £21,250 for La danse by Algerian painter Baya, and £20,000 for Le village of 1951 by Egyptian Tahia Halim. These are notable results in view of the geopolitics of the region, and that women artists worldwide account for a mere 2% of the auction market. The sale attracted collectors internationally, was 75% sold by lot and totalled just shy of £160,000.

Portrait of a lady, half-length in a floral embroidered gown and lace ruff,circa 1580, Italian School

Hard on the heels of the Middle Eastern and North African sale was our auction of Old Master Paintings and Works on Paper which realised £152,000 with a strong 75% sell rate by lot. It is a recurring source of wonder that works of such elegance and style painted three or four hundred years ago are still available for relatively little. Corner stones of the sale were the ‘four’ graces – a beauty parade of elegant ladies from the 16th and 17th centuries. Portrait of a lady, half-length in a floral embroidered gown and lace ruff from circa 1580 and ascribed to the Italian School was most prized, selling to a collector on the Continent for £20,000 (estimate £4,000-6,000). The second highest price was £12,500 for a Classical landscape by Dutch painter Abraham Jansz Begeyn (1637-1697). The final 35 lots were a collection of antique and period frames. A novel departure for us, it proved to be a frame feeding frenzy. 100% sold – hence the earlier reference to a ‘white-glove’ sale – the highest price was £4,375.

Wall Painting,  Bridget Riley (left) and Central, Harold Cohen (right)

Thanks to such post-War Chiswick luminaries as Julian Trevelyan and Mary Fedden who began the annual artists ‘Open Studios’ in Chiswick in the 1950s (now the successful ‘Artists at Home’ held each June), it is unsurprising that our thrice-yearly Modern & Post-War British sales are so keenly followed. The third and final auction on 22ndApril, the sale attracted more than 300 registered bidders from around the world and was 84% sold by lot. Top prices were for an abstract by Ralph Rumney of 1956, the third highest price at auction for the artist; a new record price for In an old book (1966) – the etching by David Hockney (£6,875), and Central by Harold Cohen, which was exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1966 sold for £5,500. Other highlights included Duplex by Robert Adams (£5,625); portraits by Graham Sutherland (£5,000) and Oliver Messell (£5,500) and Wall Painting I by Bridget Riley (£5,750), the second highest price at auction for an example from this edition. The sale also featured a varied selection from the estate of Putney sculptor Alan Thornhill.

Our forthcoming summer series of picture sales include Urban & Contemporary Art on 11th June; 19th & 20th Century Paintings & Works on Paper on 29th June, and Modern & Post-War British Art on 8th July. Our next sales of Old Master Paintings & Drawings and Middle Eastern and African Art are slated for early autumn, as is our specialist Orientalist sale: A Middle Eastern Journey. Deadlines for the inclusion of works is six weeks before each sale date.

Adrian Biddell
Head of Paintings & Fine Art

# A white glove sale is when all lots are sold. According to Antique Traders Gazett,e it is believed to refer to the traditional award of a pair of white gloves to an auctioneer after every lot had sold.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Auctions

See also: Upcoming Auctions 

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.


June 2021 books

What’s new and good to read this month? Annakarin Klerfalk has a look at what’s on offer and chooses three good reads, Yours Cheerfully, Still Life and Sleepless, which are are all out in June.

Yours Cheerfully

Yours Cheerfully is the sequel to A J Pearce’s bestselling debut Dear Mrs Bird. 

Emmeline Lake’s adventures as an aspiring journalist continue in London, 1941. She is madly in love with her boyfriend Charles and is offered a job as a wartime advice columnist. Her best friend Bunty, struggles with the nightmares of the Blitz but together they decide to make the most of their situation.

When the Ministry of Information calls on Britain’s women’s magazines to help recruit female workers for the home front, Emmeline steps in but quickly finds herself in a moral dilemma between doing her duty and standing by her friends.

Ericka Walker, author of Dog Days, said: ‘Yours Cheerfully is a joyful world I happily escaped into. Engrossing, engaging and charming. I finished reading with a smile, ready for anything.’

Yours Cheerfully is published by Picador on 24 June.

Still Life

Sarah Winman, bestselling and prize-winning author of When God was a Rabbit, is back with her forth novel, Still Life.

The story begins in 1944, when two strangers meet and share an unforgettable evening together. Evelyn is an art historian- and a possible spy- Ulysses is a young British soldier and their instant connection turns them into soulmates. Evelyn has a deep effect on Ulysses and her passion for truth and beauty changes him and shapes his future.

The novel moves from the Tuscan Hills to the piazzas of Florence and is a wonderful read after so many months of travel restrictions.

4th Estate, an imprint of HarperCollins, will release Still Life on 10 June and pitched it as: “A big-hearted story of people brought together by love, war, art and the ghost of E.M. Forster.”


Sleepless is a psychological thriller, written by Romy Hausman. Readers know him from his international bestselling debut, Dear Child.

Sleepless tells the haunting story of Nadja Kulka, who is fresh out of prison and longs for a quiet life: a steady income, a nice flat and some friends. And when she meets Laura von Hoven, the beautiful wife of Nadja’s boss, things are looking up – until Laura kills her husband.

Laura begs Nadja for help, who gives in, and together they head to a remote house in the woods to bury the body. Things don’t go as planned and Nadja finds herself being pushed into a twisted game in which she is both the victim and the murderer.

Sleepless is published by Quercus on 24 June.

Annakarin Klerfalk

Anna is a literary agent based in Chiswick who is keen to hear from authors trying to get their books published. Contact her on She used to run the Waterstones bookshop in Chiswick. You can read more about her and Intersaga here.

See more of Anna’s book choices 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.

Tideway Tales

by David Clarke, Chiswick Lifeboat Crew 2002-2004

The Lifeboat’s vhf radio squarks “Chiswick immediate – persons cut off on Lot’s Eyot!”

We are on exercise in Corney Reach within sight of the station; helmsman Glen rams the throttles forward and the E-class lifeboat leaps ahead, reaching its top speed of 40  knots in a few moments. We get an update from the coastguard – “four children stranded on the foreshore!”.

We arrive on the scene in Brentford, three miles and five minutes later, to see four children standing against tall steel pilings on a visibly diminishing strip of shingle. The tide is rising fast, their narrow piece of dry land would only last another few minutes. We quickly gather the children into the lifeboat and check that they don’t have any injuries. They are soon landed back on the ‘mainland’ safe and sound. It turns out that they had been given pocket money to go to the swimming pool but bought sweets instead and went for a walk along the river. They crossed at low tide onto Lot’s Eyot to explore the derelict boatyard (now operating again, and with new footbridge access) and found themselves cut off.

In Chiswick Lifeboat’s patch the tidal range is over five and a half metres. Because of the shape of the tidal river the flood tide takes only four hours while the ebb tide lasts just over eight hours. This means the current is much faster on the incoming tide causing a rise of 1.5 metres in an hour at peak flow. This rapid rise catches people out on a regular basis. Walkers on Chiswick Mall are often tempted to walk out to Chiswick Eyot at low tide. By the time they have crossed to the other side of the island their return route has disappeared. On peak spring tides the island is completely inundated; we once rescued two lads who had clambered into a tree to escape the rising water.

The height of the river at high tide varies significantly between springs (highest) and neaps (lowest). Springs occur at full and new moons when the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon combine.

The speed of the tide also means that people (or animals) who find themselves in the water can be nearly half a mile away from their initial immersion in the minutes it takes for the Lifeboat to arrive. Crews monitor the state of the tide all the time when on shift so take the tidal movement into account on a search.

There are times when we wonder whether people are just not aware that the river is tidal. Many times a year we are asked to check cars that are half submerged and sometimes they can they float and need to be secured to prevent a hazard to navigation.

A bizarre phenomenon that can also catch people out happens after prolonged periods of heavy rain when huge amounts of rainwater flows through the weirs at Teddington resulting in the surface current continuously running downstream even when the tide is rising. Car drivers who are familiar with the tidal river may have seen the signs warning of risk of flooding but confidently park as they see the current running downstream only to be dismayed when they return to see their precious motor having a paddle.

Another strange effect occurs when the Thames Barrier is used to prevent fluvial flooding. After periods of heavy rain there is a risk of significant flooding when increased flow of rainwater from upstream combines with a tidal surge created by easterly winds. To prevent this, the barrier is raised at low tide to create a basin to fill up with the rainwater run off. When this happens the there are no normal tides in our patch.

Chiswick RNLI lifeboat usually operates between Battersea and Richmond lock. Two hours either side of high tide the barriers alongside the lock are raised so vessels can proceed without locking through. In this period the lifeboat can reach incidents further upstream within in its 15 minute target response time. The notice board in the crew room has the tide times at Richmond posted each day so that the duty crew know when they have this option.

As well as rescuing people in difficulty in the river, Chiswick’s crews often respond to casualties on the foreshore where access from the towpath is impossible. After falls from the river wall there is always a risk of spinal injuries when casualties should not be moved hastily. Often these incidents coincide with a rapidly rising tide so the casualty has to be taken to safety immediately. All lifeboat crews are trained to deal with this dilemma and the boat carries a spine board as well as neck braces and a basket stretcher so the casualty can be immobilised before being moved.

Although tide tables generally predict accurately, weather conditions can significantly change water levels so it is important to be vigilant when going on or near tidal rivers. If you see someone cut off by the tide or in difficulty in the water the RNLI encourages people to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. Chiswick RNLI Lifeboat is manned 24/7 and has a launch target of 90 seconds so can reach incidents very quickly.

Chiswick RNLI lifeboat station is the second busiest in the UK and Ireland. Since the RNLI search and rescue service on the Thames started in 2002, Chiswick Lifeboat has attended over 3,700 incidents and rescued over 1,750 people. The RNLI is entirely funded by public donations.

Check Tide Times On The Chiswick Calendar Website

Don’t get caught out by the tide! We’re delighted to announce you can now check the tides at both Chiswick Mall and Strand on the Green in a brand new section on our website here:

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: RNLI Chiswick crew rescue people cut off by the tide

See also: Chiswick Lifeboat urges caution to river pub-goers

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Mind Matters – Can we change our lives in just a second?

It seems that as we emerge from the various lockdown restrictions many people are finding themselves struggling to adjust, with accounts of relationships under strain, unhealthy patterns of behaviour around food, alcohol or other substances, anxiety disorders and anger management problems.

But times of change can also bring opportunities for us to change in positive ways too and I think that now is a great time for us to consider addressing those things that make us feel less than happy about ourselves. This week I have been reminded how in just a split second something can happen that results in the opening of a new possibility – one that can transform how we experience life. Have you ever had a moment of realisation where you can see clearly and for the very first time how you have been holding on to something, an assumption, opinion, belief, fear or action that you now realise you have control over, where there are suddenly more options or choices available to you?

The experience is one that words struggle to capture – revelation is one that comes to mind, another word and my personal favourite is an old word from Greek philosophy – “epochē”. The translation of this is “suspension of judgement” – in my personal experience and from pivotal moments in my work as a therapist it comes about as a result of something that disrupts a person’s sense of self in such a way that it reveals something previously hidden to them.

Outside of therapy such moments often happen because of something unexpected and often we hear about this occurring to other people in the context of a horrible accident, a near death experience or an illness. As such we might find ourselves not wanting to think too much about this, seeing this as something that is either out of our control or requiring huge pain but I don’t believe this to be the case. Such moments are undoubtedly hugely powerful but actually can contain huge relief and a sense of catharsis – crucially I believe we can safely create the conditions ourselves for this to happen – without needing something horrible to befall us.

What is required is that we decide that we want to allow change, that we are willing to risk what we know being challenged and disturbed, that we have become so tired of something that we will allow something different to happen. An example of this is how with physical pain such as toothache, it is natural for people to reach their point of tolerance before booking an appointment with the dentist, meanwhile in therapy it is the moment that someone commits to therapy that enables this to occur.

Here though I want to talk about risk and safety, while we are talking about letting go of something, the one thing not to let go of is what you can tolerate, what you are prepared to do and what your boundaries are. It is possible to get so tired and upset as to want to just give away your responsibility to someone else. A “safe” someone else will always be careful to attend to your boundaries, ensuring you are consenting and that you know that at any time you can withdraw your consent. This is crucial because if this doesn’t happen an experience can cause trauma, or worse – so the main point here is to ensure that when you decide you want to change then always remember that whilst another person might have skills and experience that might help, ultimately you need to be in charge and if you feel that the dynamic puts them in charge you really need to address this before proceeding.

Back now to the process of “epochē” and how to harness it for change. Here I will share an experience from my own life. I do not like heights and in the past I did not like myself for not liking heights, I remember reaching a point whereby I realised that I no longer wanted to feel that way and so for my fortieth birthday I bought myself a parachute jump training. The training was highly professional and very well organised and all the risks were carefully explained with the training rigorous. Throughout I understood that I had a choice, that I could change my mind at any time. When it came time to jump out of the plane it was then down to me. These fourteen years later I still do not like heights but I no longer dislike myself for that.

If there is something you do not like about yourself then the thing that will need to change is not necessarily the thing itself but your not liking yourself because of it. In the treatment of anxiety and phobias therapists work with patients to find a way for them to face their fears. We can change our lives in a split second but it most probably takes time to get us to that transformative moment of epochē.

Nicholas Rose
Psychotherapist, Counsellor, Couples Counsellor and Coach

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

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

Read more blogs by Nicholas Rose

Read the previous one – Mind Matters – How are things in the world of you?

See all Nicholas’s Mind Matters blogs here

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

How Brentford beat Swansea and history is forgotten

Image above: Brentford vistory over Swansea at Wembley; photograph Brentford FC

Brentford 2, Swansea City 0

EFL Championship play-off final

It took a long time coming but was so stunningly sweet when it arrived. At the tenth time of asking, Brentford competed in end-of-season play-offs that would gain them promotion if they triumphed, only they never did. History showed the Bees constantly to be the runt of of the Football League’s more talented litter, often thereabouts but never actually the last men standing come the competitions’ climaxes.

Until a balmy Saturday afternoon at Wembley Stadium, that is. Then and there. having finished third in the Championship and once again facing ignominy before sweeping aside Bournemouth, they demolished a tough if limited Swansea side to demonstrate that history really is bunk.

That’s more or less what Henry Ford said early in the last century, adding, ‘It’s tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today.’ You can say that again, Henry!

Brentford’s head coach, Thomas Frank, possibly deciding to get retaliation in first in case that prized place in the Premier League might still be just out of reach, made a half-lap of honour prior to kick-off. The Brentford faithful – around 5,800 of a 11,689 crowd – loved that.

Image above: Before the match; photograph Liz Vercoe

Even more, they relished all the preliminaries, the bursts of flame belching skywards and the lusty singing of the national anthems conducted in the shadow of a giant effigy of the trophy up for grabs. The atmosphere positively crackled. How different to ten months ago, when Fulham had convincingly won 2-1 in the Covid-delayed final.

‘Everything old is new again,’ said my mate Charlie, wisely if hoarsely.

Viewed retrospectively, the game was won in the first twenty minutes. After ten, Sergi Canós left the Swansea defence flat-footed with a penetrating pass to Bryan Mbuemo, only for goalkeeper Freddie Woodman to race from his line to upend the Bee. Referee Chris Kavanagh had no hesitation in awarding a penalty, which Ivan Toney stroked into Woodman’s right-hand corner for his thirty-third goal of the season.

Swansea looked decidedly grumpy at this turn of events, but even grumpier after ten more minutes when a breakaway saw Mads Roerslev Rasmussen welcome a Mbuemo pass and feed the on-the-run Emiliano Marcondes, whose crisp shot inside Woodman’s near post might have been parried by the keeper but wasn’t.

Toney hit the crossbar shortly after this and there were signs that a drubbing might turn into a rout, but Swansea hung on, producing attractive football to test the opposing defence yet allowing it to fizzle out near goal. Chances for the Swans were as rare as Brentford play-offs victories, said Charlie, somewhat unkindly.

The red and white army continued to march forward until the break and an opportunity for Swansea to regroup, which indeed they did. Their defence tightened, striker Andrė Ayew once more became the pest he’d been in each of the two sides’ league season draws and Brentford’s possession statistic took a dive.

But with twenty-five minutes still to play, fate – no friend to the Bees in the history we don’t talk about – took a hand, Matthias Jensen being clattered clumsily by midfielder Jay Fulton. Once again referee Kavanagh reached for the pocket where he keeps his naughty-boy cards, but this time producing a red one from the pack.

Two goals up and the opposition reduced to ten men! ‘Is anyone else having an out of body experience?’ tweeted one ecstatic fan.

A shot from the marauding Ethan Pinnock looked goal-bound before it struck his skipper, Pontus Jansson, and spun into touch – not much of a 28th birthday present for Pinnock – and the Bees continued to dominate. And although in football terms Brentford’s second-half performance failed to reach the standard of the first, by then nobody much cared.

Substitutes Marcus Forss replaced Canos and Saman Ghoddos, Winston Reid and Mads Bidstrup also brought fresh legs into the action, although Bidstrup’s appearance was so fleeting that the sound of the final whistle almost served as his entrance music.

‘There’s only one Matthew Benham,’ chanted the crowd, possibly mindful of the owner’s considerable financial commitment to the club and the £170million that’s now coming its way.

‘If you love Brentford, stand up’, instructed the choir behind the goal at the Brentford end, and mostly everyone did.

Image above: Head coach Thomas Frank being ‘bumped’ after the match; photograph Liz Vercoe

‘I’m relieved, happy and proud,’ said coach Frank before being ‘bumped’ high into the air three times by his jubilant players, as well he might be after achieving the club’s return to football’s top flight after seventy-four years.

What a difference a year makes, I mused again as the post-match delight spilled from the pitch into the stands.

‘Ten months,’ corrected Charlie. ‘And we’re going up.’

Brentford: Raya, Dalsgaard, Jannsen, Pinnock, Rasmussen, Jensen, Jannelt, Canόs, Marcondes, Toney, Mbeumo. Substitutes: Daniels, Norgaard, Fosu-Henry, Forss, Ghoddos, Goode, Reid, Stevens, Bidstrup.

Swansea City: Woodman, Naughton, Cabango, Guéhi, Grimes, Roberts, Fulton, Hourihane, Bidwell, Ahew, Lowe. Substitutes: Hamer, Bennett, Manning, K Smith, Dhanda, Whittaker, Cullen, Latibeaudiere, Freeman.

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor to the Bees United supporters’ group.

Images above: Emeliano Marcondes with Mathias Jensen with the cup; Henrik Dalsgaard and Pontus Jansson; celebrations after the match; photographs Liz Vercoe

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Brentford FC join the Premier League

See also: Brentford FC victory put it one match away from joining the Premier League

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Anti-Vax passport protesters march through west London

Thousands of people took part in a march through central and west London on Saturday 29 May, resulting in the closure of Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush.

The marchers were protesting against the whole range of anti-Covid measures. This from one of their leaflets:

‘Behave as you did in 2019. Do not wear a mask. Boycott business enforcing the pointless rules. Refuse vaccination if you do not want it. Shop in the high street. Hug who you want to when you want to. See your elderly parents when you want to. Use cash! Refuse to be tracked’.

Another leaflet claimed: ‘There is no pandemic”.

When the march reached Shepherd’s Bush, hundreds of protesters entered Westfield shopping centre at about 6.00pm. While police blocked one entrance, they entered from another.

The Guardian newspaper reported:

‘Hundreds made it into the shopping centre where they stayed for about half an hour chanting “no more lockdowns” and “take your freedom back” before they were cleared by police with batons drawn, although without scenes of violence’.

Images above: Marchers walking through Notting Hill; speaking inside the Westfield centre at Shepherd’s Bush

“F*****g with the wrong generation”

Piers Corbyn, elder brother of Jeremy Corbyn, a conspiracy theorist who has campaigned against lockdowns and against vaccinations, addressed the crowd inside Westfield through a megaphone, saying:

“We’re here as free people, spending our time communicating, to prepare for the summer of discontent, where we’re going to organise in every community to prevent any more lockdowns. No more lockdowns!”

After being evicted from the Westfield shopping centre the protest headed down Goldhawk Rd. Barrister Ann Crighton, who got caught up in the crowd on her way home, told The Chsiwick Calendar:

“They were mainly young people. I saw one wearing a T shirt saying ‘Boris you’re f*****g with the wrong generation’ and another with the slogan ‘the only virus is the media’.”

The march was relatively peaceful she told us. As they headed towards Ravenscourt Park someone shouted “get it off” at a passerby wearing a mask and another shouted “don’t be ruled by them”.

“Please go away”

Actor Lucy Briers, who lives in Chiswick tweeted:

“Thanks for bringing a huge amount of people to my neighbourhood, which is very close to Hounslow, which is at present battling a huge rise in the Indian variant. I mean genius, really. Please go away and let my neighbourhood carry on the battle to keep Covid numbers down”.

On the same day, a senior manager in the NHS, Chris Hopson, NHS Providers chief executive, called for a “much better quality of debate” on the implications of easing lockdown fully. NHS staff are “going full pelt” he told the BBC, dealing with patients with complex needs who required longer stays in hospital because their earlier treatment had been delayed by the pandemic. The system does not have the capacity to cope with a significant increase in Covid patients, he warned.

The average number of Covid cases reported daily is slowing rising again and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the spread of the Indian variant could affect the timing of the last step in England’s roadmap out of lockdown on 21 June.

Latest Covid figures show that on 27 May 2021 the daily number of new people tested positive for COVID-19 in London was reported as 403. In the most recent week of complete data, 16 May 2021 – 22 May 2021, 1,976 people tested positive in London, a rate of 22 cases per 100,000 population.

NHS figures show that about five million people in England were waiting for surgery in March, the highest figure since modern records began.

Read more stories on The Chsiwick Calendar

See also: Covid travel advice “a complete shambles”

See also: Vaccinations stepped up in Hounslow because of the Indian variant

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.


Brentford FC join the Premier League

Image above: Victory at Wembley; Ivan Toney leads celebrations; photograph Brentford FC

Brentford FC join the Premier League after beating Swansea 2-0 at Wembley. This is the first time the club has been in the Premier League since it was created in 1992, though not the first time it has played top flight football. The club played at the top of the English game from 1935 – 1947.

Striker Ivan Toney scored the first goal for Brentford just 10 minutes into the game and ten minutes later midfielder Emiliano Marcondes scored again and the team managed to hold Swansea at bay for the rest of the match.

The victory is particularly poignant for Brentford fans as it their tenth time of trying. On all previous occasions they’ve got as far as the play-offs and lost five times in the final. Former Brentford player Alan McCormack (2013-2017) said:

“What a result. For everyone involved, it is truly deserved. But for one person this is truly a dream come true. Peter Gilham, you deserve every bit of success this club receives. There’s always one person behind a club and Peter Gilham is that man. Congrats to everyone at Brentford FC”.

Peter Gilham is the Player Welfare Manager at Brentford and has been the voice of the match as PA announcer for 51 years.


“Amazing achievement”

Brentford captain Pontus Jansson told Sky TV:

“I’m so proud of this squad – we were here last year with a big disappointment and it’s been a hard year but we finally got here. We felt so disappointed after Fulham last year”, (when they lost 2-1 after extra time in the Championship play-off final)

“but from day one we promised each other we’d be clever and focus on the next game, and now we’re here. I am so proud and so happy that I could go home to Sweden and retire because this is what I dreamed of. But I will stay here and play Premier League football.”

Peter Crouch was amongst those to congratulate Brentford “Amazing achievement” he said.

BBC’s Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker Tweeted:

Congratulations to @BrentfordFC on winning promotion to the Premier League. Look forward to introducing you on @BBCMOTD next season.

Benefit for Chiswick

Brentford moved into their new home at the Brentford Community Stadium in October 2020 but fans have as yet had few opportunities to watch their team play in their new home. Work on the 17,250-seat stadium began in early 2018 and was almost complete at the start of 2020 when restrictions on movement were put in place due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The new stadium took two decades to develop and is part of the wider regeneration of the area known as Brentford East. It will deliver more than 900 new homes around the stadium, a new purpose-built location for Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, and a public square with shops and cafes.

Now that the club has joined the Premier League, businesses around Kew Bridge rail station and along the western end of Chiswick High Rd, from Gunnersbury tube station are expecting to see more business coming their way.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Brentford FC backs calls to get fans back to watching in stadiums

See also: Brentford FC move into new home

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.

Fancy That!

The Annual Fancy Dress Parade has been a highlight of the Bedford Park Festival for over 50 years.

This picture, taken back in 1980, prompted the question: where are they now? And did they grow up to be a lollipop man, racing driver, or cow girl?

James Taylor,  holding the Stop sign just right of centre, decided against a career as a lollipop man, choosing instead a life in academia as he explained when we caught up with him in the USA 41 years on. He’d settled in Ohio via St Andrews University, Scotland,

“I loved my time there, and the academic experience convinced me that I really needed to spend my life doing philosophy. Of course, I might have contributed more to the sum of human happiness by becoming a lollipop man, but from a purely selfish perspective, teaching and writing philosophy was far more fun!”

James lived on Blenheim Rd as a child in the 1970s and into the very early 1980s and believes that that picture shows his very last Green Day, and the woman working the Farah Fawcett hairflip was the daughter of the celebrity who opened the festivities that year, Magnus Magnusson.

“ Bedford Park was very different then than it is now–this was when it was still rather run-down and louche. Bedford Park was a magical place in which to grow up – the nearby TV studies and the area’s continuing artistic reputation, and affordability, meant that it was home to TV stars such as Richard Briers, which made local kids like myself feel very sophisticated as we spotted “people on TV” around. It didn’t hurt that Mr. Briers was also incredibly friendly. Now I’m older I can appreciate things I had no understanding of as a child, such as living down the street from where Yeats wrote, and walking streets painted by Pissarro.”

“ In the 1970s there was still a “rag and bone” man with a horse-drawn cart who appeared occasionally calling for “Old iron, any old iron,” James recalls.

“We moved in the early 1980s so my brother and I could attend grammar schools outside London. From there, university at St Andrews, a year studying at the University of California, Berkeley, then a PhD in philosophy from Bowling Green State University in Ohio–I’d decided to go into academia and there were far more jobs in the US than the UK. I now teach and write Philosophy in New Jersey (at a liberal arts college, The College of New Jersey) just outside Princeton. A far cry from Bedford Park in the 1970s!”

Turns out, James’s special interest is applied ethics and he is known for pushing the boundaries in libertarian thought, especially with his arguments for the commodification of human organs, votes and parental rights. And he has the unusual claim to fame that The Times once branded him a heretic! # James is now finishing a book which argues (in part) against the view that there should be markets in votes and admits, “Sometimes my past views turn out to be wrong!”

James now lives with his wife and daughter on a former dairy farm.

“We’re slowly renovating the Victorian farmhouse, we now have almost-working plumbing, and are bringing the farm itself back into production; in addition to domestic cats and dogs we have chickens and bees also rare-breed ducks and critically endangered turkeys–Beltsville Small Whites, the original commercial Thanksgiving turkey from the 1930s and 1950s.”

James, who enjoyed taking part in Green Days, was once presented with a prize by the actress Hayley Mills, for his costume of playing cards, and still has fond memories of the festival,

“I loved Green Days as a child, and I’m delighted that this continues! I’d love to attend another Green Day–maybe next year, when things are a bit more normal.”

Where are the Green Days Children?

Where in the world are the other Green Days children now? We know of another with a US connection –  Charlotte Borger lived locally in the 1970s and sent some of the pictures in from that time of her and her brother Julian, who also grew up in Bedford Park. Julian is The Guardian’s world affairs editor, and was until recently their US correspondent.

Do get in touch, if you have any stories to tell of Green Days, we’d love to hear from you.

And, of course,  come along to this year’s Fancy Dress Parade on Saturday 12 June. It’s free to enter, and all children 10 and under are welcome to join in. Just come along dressed in the theme of The Animal Kingdom and register at 10.15am at St Michal & All Angels Parish Hall. And take lots of pictures, we might be giving your children a call in 40 years’ time!

# In a review of his book Stakes and Kidneys: Why markets in human organs are morally imperative in The Times’ “Science Notebook” August 29, 2005 claimed that his position was “heretical.”

Bedford Park Festival fancy dress 2013

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Bedford Park Festival Latest News

See also: Chiswick Flower Market celebrates British Flowers Week

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.

What makes a winning photograph?

I will be judging this year’s Photographic competition and The Chiswick Calendar asked me what I will be looking for as a judge.

I have judged many professional competitions – from the Sony World Photography Awards to the Taylor Wessing (National Portrait Gallery) Award and ask the question myself, “ What images stand out for me that could win a photographic competition?”

I will look for images that draw my attention and ask me to discover the message within, something different, eye-catching!

A moment in time captured in a thoughtful way, such that it evokes an emotional reaction in me.

It could be the subject matter, the setting, an interesting composition or an incredible use of light or a combination of any or all of those things.

Don’t win? It doesn’t matter. Your reward is in taking part – you will have taken the first step of gaining confidence to take yet more photos and enter more competitions.

Analyse the winners’ photos or ask your judge for a critique. Increasing your knowledge and improving your judgement of suitable entries will improve your chances in the future.

I look forward to seeing your entries and wish you all the best of luck!

Julia Fullerton-Batten

Text and pictures copyright Julia Fullerton-Batten

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Bedford Park Festival Photography Competition 2021

See also: Bedford Park Festival Latest News

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.

Ealing Broadway’s new station opens to commuters

The new station at Ealing Broadway has opened to commuters today (27 May), with new lifts allowing for step-free access to Central, District and TfL Rail services. The station is staffed at all times while trains are running with ramps available for those that need them to board trains.

Ealing Broadway has undergone a significant transformation by Network Rail to build a large new ticket hall with more space for customers. The station is one of several west London stations which have been upgraded prior to the launch of the Elizabeth Line, or Crossrail, in 2022.

The new station has a glass front entrance with a longer line of ticket barriers, replacing the dark and cramped entrance previously used to enter and leave the station.

The extended platforms are capable of accommodating the longer Elizabeth line trains, which are more than 200 metres in length. The station also benefits from improved lighting, signage and customer information screens which TfL say will provide a better customer experience.

Originally opened in 1879, Ealing Broadway is also served by the District and Central lines on the London Underground. The new lifts enable step-free journeys, improving accessibility for those needing to travel to stations between Paddington, Heathrow and Reading.

TfL have said work around the station to improve the local environment will continue until spring 2022. These works will include improving the area’s roads, pavements and pedestrian crossings to better complement the new station.

Deputy Leader welcomes opening as ‘great news’

Councillor Deirdre Costigan, deputy leader of Ealing Council and member for climate action said:

“An improved Ealing Broadway station is great news for residents and commuters – particularly as we continue to recover and respond to the pandemic and some people may be beginning to use public transport a bit more.

“We will continue to work alongside our partners TfL and Network Rail to improve and enhance local transport facilities across the borough as we move towards the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in the coming months.”

Andy Lord, Managing Director of London Underground, said:

“Ealing Broadway is a crucial interchange on the TfL network for TfL Rail, London Underground and Great Western Railway customers. These improvements bring the Victorian station up to modern standards whilst enabling customers to make step-free journeys. The station is now equipped for future Elizabeth line services and more pleasant for those using the transport network now.”

Images above: the new step-free access lifts at Ealing Broadway, the new entrance and ticket barriers 

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Ealing Council scraps LTN as trial ends

See also: Opponents scent victory over Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes in west London

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.

Council leader sets out his vision for future development in Ealing

Ealing council’s new leader, Councillor Peter Mason, has announced a new approach to development in the borough that he says will put community-led development in ‘the driving seat of regeneration.’

Cllr Mason claims this approach will ask more of developers, whilst focusing on bringing back jobs and employment for local people, re-greening neighbourhoods and maintaining genuinely affordable homes as the priority for any developer looking to build in Ealing.

In order to try and reset the council’s relationship with developers, Cllr Mason has written to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, asking him to work with Ealing to produce a new vision for the development of Southall, revoking the Opportunity Area Framework.

Extra measures announced, to be put in place by the new administration to make the council more open, transparent and inclusive, include:

  • An immediate review of council policy on tall buildings, setting out where tall buildings are inappropriate in the borough
  • Implementing town development plans, created with communities, setting out the vision and infrastructure needs of the borough’s seven towns
  • Ceasing using the ‘ailing in London inward investment brand
  • Encouraging green development and sustainable jobs and investment instead
  • A publicly accessible register of any meetings between developers and councillors
  • No Ealing councillor attendance at the MIPIM conference in France.

‘Local communities need to lead the process’ – Cllr Mason

Cllr Mason said: “COVID-19 has changed the way we live and work forever. We’ve spent more time in our local areas than ever before; more of us are working from home and lots of us either want to keep it that way or to work more locally and flexibly. People are feeling more invested in the future of their neighbourhoods than ever before.

“Many people don’t feel in control of the areas they live in, and I want to change that. From now on, communities will be in the driving seat when it comes to regeneration in Ealing. Local communities need to lead the process of changing our borough, not developers.

“I want to ensure that local people know their council is on their side and to build an open, transparent and inclusive culture. That’s why I’m announcing steps to make interactions with developers more transparent.”

Cllr Shital Manro, Cabinet Member for Good Growth, said: “We have a long and proud history of industry and creativity in Ealing, and our borough should be a place where people can live and work in good, well-paying jobs. Space for jobs and employment will be at the heart of our new approach to regeneration.

“We look forward to starting a conversation with local people about what they want to see happen in their communities, and how we can shape the future of Ealing together.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also:

See also:

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.

Covid travel advice “a complete shambles”

Image above: LB Hounslow Leader Steve Curran

Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council, started getting phone calls at about 10.30 on Monday night (24 May). The BBC was reporting that people were advised against travelling to Hounslow, or out of it if they lived there, unless strictly necessary.

Their source? The Government Covid advice website, which had been changed at some point the previous Friday. The reason? Hounslow was one of eight named areas where the Indian variant of Covid had been detected in the population, considered a hotspot where people were now advised not to visit.

Had the Leader of Hounslow Council received any prior warning about this? ‘Absolutely not’ he told The Chiswick Calendar.

Spool forward some 16 hours to a cloudy Tuesday afternoon, with rain threatening, and there’s a little gaggle of press and media assembled on the pavement outside the civic centre in Hounslow, with their signature collection of tripods, microphones and lenses. This is what passes for a press conference these days.

The story had blown up over the morning, with council leaders and health officials in the eight named areas – Bolton, Blackburn, Kirklees, Bedford, Burnley, Leicester, North Tyneside and Hounslow – all saying the same thing, that they’d heard nothing about it and were urgently seeking clarification from the Government. Government spokespeople were equally adamant they had been consulted.

Image above: Press conference outside Hounslow House

LB Hounslow was deluged with calls from the national media. Officials spent all morning fielding anxious calls from schools and councillors whose constituents wanted to know whether they could still travel to countries on the green list the following day, and from Brentford Football Club, 5,000 of whose fans desperately wanted to know whether they would be allowed to see their team play in the final at Wembley on Saturday, with promotion to the Premier League in the balance.

We were wondering whether we’d have to refund the tickets to The Chiswick Calendar’s Jazz at George IV night on Thursday. Friends were unsure whether it would be legal to drive home from Scotland. Everyone set about re-evaluating their plans. The website statement was after all underscored by the slightly menacing reminder that it was ‘underpinned by law’.

So what, the assembled media wanted to know, was the score? What had gone on? A hastily convened meeting between (unnamed) Government officials and the local councils concerned had elicited the information that the advice was a mistake. Whose mistake was unclear, and very deliberately so, but it would be rectified and the wording on the website changed.

They are not locking down the eight areas. We are free to go about our business as usual. People are allowed to travel in and out of the borough without restriction.

The misinformation on the Government website came to be there by an ‘unclear process’. I’ll bet it did. No one in their right mind would put their hand up to a cock-up like that, would they?

So that’s alright then, a storm in a teacup, no harm done and no one to blame.

“It’s been a very difficult day” said Council Leader @CllrSteveCurran “It’s a shambles. It’s diverted me and my Director of Public Health from doing what we should be doing and dealing with testing and vaccinations”.

“I’ve spent the whole day dealing with schools and people who are concerned about the travel restrictions instead of doing what I should be doing and dealing with surge testing and vaccinations” said Hounslow’s Director of Public Health Kelly O’Neill.

Image above: Kelly O’Neill

Quick fact check

There have been 81 cases of the Indian variant identified in LB Hounslow so far, since 3 April. 50% of them have been identified in last 10 days.

Every positive Covid test is sent off to the lab for genome sequencing. They’re waiting for the results of a further 141 positive Covid tests submitted over the past seven days. The cases are clustered in the west of the borough: Feltham North and Bedfont, Hounslow Meadows (which includes Cranford), Hounslow Central, Hounslow Heath and Hounslow West.

Hounslow’s Asian population is a little over a third of its total population. Of the Indian variant cases, a third are returning international travellers, a third are their families and friends and in a third of cases they’re not sure where the infection originated. Some have been passed on through schools. One school near Bedfont had a family member in every year group, which has caused havoc.

Kelly is clear that we suffer from having Heathrow, since such a high percentage of the working population have jobs which depend on the airport. There have for example been cases of Covid in the hospitality industry in hotels where travellers are quarantined.

She is politely baffled that it has taken until now for Heathrow to decide to keep arrivals from ‘red’ countries separate from mingling with everyone else in arrivals. It’s “embarrassing” that red route weren’t segregated from amber and green, she said.

Government “risks lives” by not communicating with councils

All the angst and wasted effort of the travel ban that wasn’t could have been avoided if the Government talked to local councils. But they don’t. They haven’t over the past 14 months. Why break the habit of a pandemic? Every twist and turn: lockdowns, tiers, testing and tracing, essentialness and easing, they have learned about from press conferences and ministerial announcements like the rest of us.

“We’re continually running to catch up” says Kelly.

And clearly they’re sick of it. You’d think giving the people charged with organising testing and vaccinations, the management of business grants and advising the local populace would get a bit of a heads up, but no.

“This Government needs to step up and start communicating with councils properly” said Steve.

“It needs to inform us directly of decisions and give us time to put measures in place to inform, protect and support our communities. Anything short of that risks lives.

“We need clear, joined-up thinking and communication between Central Government, the NHS, Public Health England and local authorities. The current communication from Government on our national COVID response is woefully lacking”.

The official statement from Hounslow following the day’s deliberations is this:

Official statement from Hounslow Council

‘Following the national coverage of recently revised guidance we have met with national officials and confirmed there are no restrictions on travel in or out of Hounslow:  There are no local lockdowns.

‘In areas where the new COVID variant is spreading we are all working together to boost testing and vaccination and to support self-isolation. There are sensible public health precautions people can take as individuals in line with the sorts of advice we have all been following throughout the pandemic.

We will keep sharing that and working with national officials to make sure people understand what they need to think about as they go about their daily lives’.

Kelly O’Neill

Director of Public Health

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Government “risks lives” by not communicating with councils says Steve Curran

See also: Vaccinations stepped up in Hounslow because of the Indian variant

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.


Government “risks lives” by not communicating with councils says Steve Curran



Leader of LB Hounslow Steve Curran says the Government “risks lives” by not communicating with local authorities.

LB Hounslow, along with other areas where the Indian variant of Covid has been detected in the population, only found out by coming across it on the Government website that it was advising people not to go to LB Hounslow, or to travel out of it if you are a resident.

The information was changed on the Government website on Friday 21 May but there was no ministerial statement, no press conference and apparently no consultation or conversation with any of the local authorities which the Government is now advising people not to go to.

“It is unbelievable that new guidance came to light only by checking the Government website” Cllr Curran told The Chiswick Calendar.

“Hounslow Council was not informed that we were subject to surge testing and vaccination in advance of the Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock’s announcement in the House of Commons last Wednesday.

“Ministers have been saying that we were informed prior to the changes. This is simply not true. Unfortunately, history is now repeating itself and again, we were not informed in advance of changes to the Government’s travel guidance for Hounslow.

“To date I have received no communication at all from the Government. This is another example of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. It’s shambolic”.

The advice not to travel to ‘affected areas’ – listed as Bolton, Blackburn, Kirklees, Bedford, Burnley, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside. – was only noticed by a journalist at the BBC, who published a story late on Monday night.

When The Chiswick Calendar told Hounslow’s Leader about it and asked whether he’d had prior knowledge, or found out about it from the website like the rest of us, he said they’d been told “absolutely nothing”.

“To try and limit travel within its borders is not only impossible, it’s a ridiculous idea”

“This Government needs to step up and start communicating with councils properly” said Steve.

“It needs to inform us directly of decisions and give us time to put measures in place to inform, protect and support our communities. Anything short of that risks lives.

“We need clear, joined-up thinking and communication between Central Government, the NHS, Public Health England and local authorities. The current communication from Government on our national COVID response is woefully lacking.

“Thankfully, through the great work of the Council with NHS colleagues, we have mobilised and stepped up for our communities, rolling out extra testing and vaccination sites, and we are seeing a strong community response to that.

“For one of London’s most connected boroughs – with Heathrow on its doorstep, the M4 and A4 running through it, the Piccadilly Line, the main line from Waterloo, plus the North Circular via Kew Bridge – to try and limit travel within its borders is not only impossible, it’s a ridiculous idea.”

Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford and Isleworth, echoed Steve Curran’s remarks.

‘Hahaha Keep out of @LBofHounslow area?!’ she Tweeted. ‘Does anyone in @DHSCgovuk realise the Picadilly line & A4 through the borough are main routes between Heathrow and Central London? Was there any plan to actually discuss this with the Council (or even perhaps look at a map)?’

Josh Blacker, councillor for South Acton, commented:

‘Utterly baffling from Whitehall. Local government working hard to deliver surge testing and support vaccine roll out – and this is how government thank us’.

What about the Premiership final at Wembley on Saturday?

The Brentford Canal Festival has been cancelled after the organisers heard the news and now anxious Brentford FC fans are wondering whether they will be able to go to Wembley on Saturday to watch the final match in their team’s titanic struggle to get into the Premier League.

LB Hounslow is seeking ‘urgent clarification’ or the Government’s advice, as no doubt is Brentford FC. The Government website refers to ‘affected areas’, listing the eight local authority areas without spelling out whether people are to avoind the entire local authority area or just specific places in them.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Government advises people not to go to LB Hounslow or to leave it

See also: Vaccinations stepped up in LB Hounslow because of the Indian variant

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.

Government advises people not to travel to LB Hounslow or leave it

Image above: Wellcome Sanger Institute Covid-19 Genomic Surveillance map showing Genomes per week



The Government has issued guidance to people not to travel to LB Hounslow – or to travel out of it – ‘unless it is essential’ because of the presence of the Indian variant of Covid.

LB Hounslow is listed as one of eight areas where the virus is spreading fastest. They are Bolton, Blackburn, Kirklees, Bedford, Burnley, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside.

Data published by the Wellcome Sanger Institute shows Hounslow as having 20 Genomes per week of the Indian variant in the two weeks up to 15 May.

People living in these affected areas are also asked not to meet indoors.

The Government has updated its advice about Covid on the Government website to say this:

‘If you’re in an area where the new COVID-19 variant is spreading

‘The new COVID-19 variant spreads more easily from person to person. To help stop the spread, you should take particular caution when meeting anyone outside your household or support bubble.

‘In the areas listed above, wherever possible, you should try to:

  • meet outside rather than inside where possible
  • keep 2 metres apart from people that you don’t live with (unless you have formed a support bubble with them), this includes friends and family you don’t live with
  • avoid travelling in and out of affected areas unless it is essential, for example for work (if you cannot work from home) or education

LB Hounslow not told by the Government

We spoke to LB Hounslow Leader Steve Curran to ask if the council had had any warning. “Absolutely not” he said. They just found out from the Government website, the same as everybody else.

Ruith Cadbury, MP for Brentford & Isleworth, told us:

“You can’t lock down a London borough in isolation, let alone one that is on the busy transport route between Heathrow and Central London.  It might have been better to address the causes of the spread of the new variant, and properly support people to self-isolate by covering their lost  income – too many people in the borough cannot afford to take days let alone two weeks off work”.

They are both now seeking clarification. Does the Government really mean we shouldn’t move in and out of the borough or does ‘affected areas’ really just mean small localised areas such as Cranford and West Hounslow where, in collaboration with Public Health England, the Council is carrying out surge testing.

Hounslow’s Director of Public Health Kelly O’Neill told The Chiswick Calendar last week:

“Because there is a lag in identifying cases due to the genotyping step, the data we have is out of date in terms of numbers, so there will be more variant cases circulating than we are aware of”.

This makes it hard to identify where exactly the ‘affected areas’ are.

The advice on the Government website continues:

‘You should also:

  • Get tested twice a week for free and isolate if you are positive
  • Continue to work from home if you can
  • Get vaccinated when you are offered it, and encourage others to do so as well

‘Restrictions have been eased following the move to step 3. However we must continue to exercise caution. You should follow this guidance on what you can and cannot do. It is underpinned by law’.

The BBC reports:

‘The guidance appears to have been updated on Friday, without any government announcement, to include the eight affected areas.

‘A televised Downing Street briefing on Wednesday focused heavily on the Indian variant – but did not outline any specific rules or guidance for those areas’.

Image above: Layla Moran MP

Guidance risks causing “confusion and uncertainty” says chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus

The BBC quotes Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat MP who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus, saying this risked causing “confusion and uncertainty”.

‘She said: “This is a major change to policy that will have a huge impact on people’s lives. Simply updating the government website without an official announcement is a recipe for confusion and uncertainty.

“Local people and public health leaders in these areas need urgent clarity from the government. Matt Hancock must come before Parliament and make a public statement to explain these new rules.

“It seems crucial lessons have still not been learnt about the importance of clear messaging during a pandemic.”

The Chiswick Calendar has asked LB Hounslow what they have heard about a travel ban on people coming into Hounslow and leaving it.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Vaccinations stepped up in Hounslow because of the Indian variant

See also: Indian variant in Hounslow and Ealing

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.

Opponents scent victory over Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes in West London

Image above: Map of the West Ealing Low Traffic Neighbourhood – LTN_21_West_Ealing_South_Map

Ealing Council rips out West Ealing Low Traffic Neighbourhood

Ealing Council has ended the West Ealing Low Traffic Neighbourhood trial and pledged to give local people the final say on LTNs in their communities.

The decision to end the trial, which covered the area between Ealing Broadway to the north and Swyncombe Avenue to the south and from Boston Rd to the west to Northfield Avenue to the east, was taken after LB Hounslow decided to close Swyncombe Avenue for a period of two months for roadworks, which says Ealing, makes their scheme ‘unworkable’.

The Council said the decision has been taken to end the trial and remove the LTN over the weekend, before the Swyncombe closure and take immediate steps to restore traffic controls to how they were before the LTN was brought in.

Decision sparks angry debate on social media

‘Absolutely devastating’, ‘Backward’

Predictably the decision sparked angry debate on Twitter, where Mark Eccleston posted:

‘They rip out the LTN during the school run and a kid on a bike has to dodge a crane. It’s truly embarrassing to live in Ealing right now’.

Sarah Jones Tweeted:

‘I feel so upset that this has been the outcome. It feels so backward’.

Ellie Lock added:

‘It’s absolutely devastating. The drivers are already racing down the street honking in triumph. One drove onto the pavement to get round the lorry taking out the planters. They couldn’t even wait that long.’

Warwick Rd Action Group wrote:

‘This is so depressing – what a backward step. So sorry to see the needs of drivers put above the health & well-being of people – especially children who were beginning to get used to safer streets’.

Cllr Gary Malcolm demands Ealing now remove all the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

On the other side of the argument, Chiswick Councillor Gary Malcolm, who represents Southfield ward, wrote to the newly elected Leader of Ealing Council Peter Mason:

‘This LTN as well as the others in Ealing have caused a great upheaval and distress to the lives of many vulnerable users as well as those who need their vehicles as part of their livelihoods.

‘I press you to remove all of the LTNs as soon as possible as well as the Fishers Lane scheme in Southfield. Liberal Democrats and residents will continue to campaign on this vital local issue until every single LTN is removed’.

Cllr Peter Mason was elected as Leader when the ruling Labour party deselected their leader of ten years’ standing Julian Bell ealier this month. Cllr Mason challenged Cllr Bell over his handling of the highly controversial Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes. Protests against them have made national news both on television and in newspapers during the past year.

But opposition to Low Traffic Neighbourhoods does not seem to have translated into votes in the recent Mayoral election. Chiswick swung to Sadiq Khan, giving a Labour candidate the majority after the final runoff in its four wards, for the first time since 2004, when Ken Livingstone was Mayor.

Sadiq Khan campaigned on a range of issues, leading with jobs and housing, but made it clear he was not giving up on his ‘active travel’ strategy. Construction work started in March on new or upgraded cycle infrastructure for four new routes which will add a further 8km to the capital’s network of safer cycle routes and Transport for London is appealing a High Court ruling in January that its traffic reduction policies were unlawful.

Khan was behind after the first preference votes, but saw second preferences, almost all from the Greens and the Liberal Democrats, split 3:2 in his direction, which prompted safe cycling campaigner Dr Edward Seaton to comment:

‘Lib dem mayoral vote in Southfield has halved: 2016 – 413, 2021- 252. And you were third in the GLA vote. Perhaps the aggressive anti active travel stance in our ward is not working out’.

Jubilant reaction to decision to end Turnham Green Terrace trial

Hounslow Council also announced its decision to take out a Streetspace scheme, the controversial trial introduced last June to take out parking spaces and prevent through traffic on Turnham Green Terrace. The trial was effectively ended in November 2020, when roadworks made it unworkable.

The Council announced the decision at the same time as it published the results of a seven month public consultation during which 10,000 people gave their views on the various Streetspace initiatives throughout the Borough. In Chiswick the Streetspace schemes were given an overwhelming thumbs down by those who took part.

Chiswick’s Convervative councillors who represent this area on Hounslow Council described the Council’s announcement as:

“classic face-saving exercise necessitated by a self-inflicted public relations disaster”.

They welcomed “the long overdue announcement that Hounslow Council has begun to recognise the damage that its badly thought through, poorly implemented and potentially illegal Streetspace measures have wreaked on local businesses and the lives of so many Chiswick’s residents”.

‘The Silent Majority has spoken’

OneChiswick, the Facebook group of residents which is taking LB Hounslow to Judicial Review over its implementation of the cycle lane through Chiswick High Rd, said this about the publication of the consultation:

‘The silent majority has spoken. In accordance with the public’s wishes, OneChiswick calls on the Council to reverse all Streetspace Schemes by 21 June’.

‘This local opposition is very understandable and follows on from the judgement handed down by Justice Lang in January 2021 that both the Mayor of London and TfL’s London Streetspace Plan (and the associated Interim Guidance for Boroughs) were unlawful.  Many Councils wisely ripped out their schemes following this judgement. Only the most extreme are holding out’.

Hounslow Council has said final review for the scheme will be published in July 2021, along with decisions about which schemes will be made permanent.

READ MORE: You can read the feedback from members of the public who took part in the Streetspace consultation on the various schemes around Chiswick here:

Council ends Streetspace trial at Turnham Green Terrace.

READ MORE: You can read the full statement from Chiswick’s Conservative councillors here:

Conservative councillors’ response to Cllr Hanif Khan’s announcement 17.5.2021

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Vaccinations stepped up in Hounslow because of Indian variant

See also: Brentford FC victory puts it one match away from joining the Premier League

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.

Vaccinations stepped up in LB Hounslow because of Indian variant

Image above: Brentford Leisure Centre; photograph Google street view

Vaccinations have been stepped up in LB Hounslow because of the presence of the Indian variant of Covid in the borough. The Secretary of State announced on Wednesday 19 May that surge testing and increased vaccination would be taking place in the London Borough of Hounslow to help tackle ‘new variants of concern’.

Residents in the west of the borough, particularly Cranford and Hounslow West are being asked to get a PCR test as soon as possible and get vaccinated when they can.

‘We will be door knocking in certain areas, delivering PCR home test kits and letters of information and support over the coming days’ says a message on the council website.

Young people in Chiswick getting the call for vaccination

In Chiswick, residents can go to Brentford Fountain Leisure Centre – 658 Chiswick High Road, Brentford TW8 0HJ – Open 8.00am-8.00pm. At the moment you can only book if you are 32 or older, or you turn 32 before 1 July, or you are in usual categories: at high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable), you have a condition that puts you at higher risk (clinically vulnerable), you have a learning disability, you’re a frontline health or social care worker or you get a Carer’s Allowance, get support following an assessment by your local authority or your GP record shows you’re a carer.

You have to have an appointment, which you can book here, and are asked to join the queue no more than five minutes before the time of your appointment.

They are however texting younger people when they have extra vaccine available. The Chiswick Calendar’s reporter Matt Smith, who is 26, received a text on Saturday afternoon offering the Pfizer vaccine ‘because the vaccine centre has obtained further supplies’ and was vaccinated the following day. His flatmate (24) also received the call.

“There were dozens of young people at the vaccination centre when we turned up on Sunday” he said.

Image above: Covid testing centre at Clayponds Community Centre

Pfizer and Astra Zenica jabs work against Indian variant

Hounslow’s Director of Pubic Health, Kelly O’Neill, confirmed to The Chiswick Calendar that the Indian variant was present in LB Hounslow as well as in LB Ealing on Monday of last week, though because of the time lag in testing positive Covid results further to find out the strain, she wasn’t able to say how many.

Since then a study has been published showing that both the Pfizer and the Astra Zenica vaccines are highly effective against the Indian strain after people have received two doses.

Public Health England, which ran the study, found that both vaccines were only 33% effective against the Indian variant three weeks after the first dose, compared with 50% effectiveness against the Kent variant, but both vaccines were highly effective after two doses. They found the Pfizer vaccine BNT162b2 is approximately 88% effective and the Astra Zenica ChAdOx1 is approximately 60% effective after two doses.

Public Health England say they expect the vaccines to be even more effective at preventing hospital admission and deaths.

‘Numbers of cases and follow-up periods are currently insufficient to estimate effectiveness against severe disease, including hospitalisation and mortality, however, previous vaccine effectiveness estimates with other variants have shown higher levels of effectiveness against more severe outcomes. Therefore, higher levels of effectiveness against severe disease may be anticipated with the B.1.617.2 vaccine’.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the findings made him “increasingly confident” the final stage of easing restrictions in England could take place on 21 June. The data showed getting both doses of the vaccine was “absolutely vital”, he added.

A third of the adult population of LB Hounslow has been double vaccinated

Government figures for the rate of vaccination of adults up to Sunday 23 May show that 30% the adult population of LB Hounslow have now been double vaccinated and 50% have received their first dose. Hounslow Council is vaccinating people at a rate of 1,677 a day with the first dose and 1,033 with the second.

Slightly less in LB Ealing

In LB Ealing the percentages are slightly lower: 47.2% adults had received their first does of vaccine by 23 May; 26.2% had received their second dose. Ealing Council is vaccinating people at a rate of 1,002 a day with the first dose and 464 with the second.

Review of social distancing rules delayed by Indian variant

We were expecting to find out this week about further easing of Covid measures. The Prime Minister promised to give details by the end of this month, but the spread of the Indian variant has delayed the Government’s review of social distancing measures.

A spokesman for Nubmer 10 Downing St said on Monday that the review of social distancing rules would be published:

“as soon as possible based on the latest data, which will help inform us what measures we can take around certification”.

Asked by journalists to explain the slippage in the advertised timetable, the spokesman added:

“I think it’s reasonable for a new variant such as this and the need to gather as much data as possible to inform our decisions. It’s right to take the time to get that information before making those final decisions.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Indian variant in Ealing and Hounslow
See also: Londoners urged to take part in surge tests as flights continue to arrive from India

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.

Ruth Cadbury on her six years as the MP for Brentford and Isleworth

Ruth Cadbury is the MP for Brentford and Isleworth constituency, which also covers all of Chiswick. She has been the area’s MP for just over six years, having been elected on 7 May 2015.

In an interview with Matt Smith for The Chiswick Calendar, Ruth reflected on the changes the community has faced over the last six years as well as ongoing challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic and the cladding scandal which are facing her constituents today.

Ruth Cadbury MP’s interview with The Chiswick Calendar

How would you you say your constituency has changed in the last six years?

“I think conditions for many people in the constituency have changed in two big ways. One I think is obvious to everybody, COVID has had an incredible impact. So many people I serve are dependent on aviation, hospitality and arts & culture jobs and many people have been affected in a devastating way. 

“COVID has disproportionately affected people are low-paid with zero-hours contracts who live in and around Hounslow, and or work at Heathrow. The baggage handlers, the catering workers and particularly those who work in the supply chain who don’t work for the big employers.

“These are people who are already the working poor, who have high rent and are reliant on Universal Credit top ups already. Now they will have had to rely on Universal Credit entirely, because most, if not all, would not have been eligible for furlough.

“We’ve also got high-earners who have ended up on Universal Credit, unless there is another earner in their household then they’re not even eligible for Universal Credit. The impact on people who have been professional, high-earners means that peoples homes are at risk and there’s the risk of family break up which is just devastating as well.

“The second big group of people who’s life has changed over the last two to three years, are those living in relatively new blocks of flats built with flammable cladding. Whether they’re tenants and living in a risk of fire, or whether they’re leaseholders living with threat of fire and risk of bankruptcy and resulting severe financial hardship.”

What is your opinion of the planned closure of Chiswick’s Barclay’s bank?

“Barclays is about to close in Brentford as well, and it’s the last bank in Brentford. So we’re going to lose Barclays and Santander in Chiswick, as well as the last bank in Brentford, I think it’s a real worry. Although more and more of us are going cashless, there are still older people who often use cash and businesses who rely on cash, or their customers rely on cash. 

“There’s a lot of businesses who will be put out and the security and safety risk of staff members having to walk further or go on public transport carrying cash because the nearest bank they’ve been using is closed is a real worry.”

In what ways would you say you’ve been an effective representative?

“Sometimes I wonder, particularly being in opposition, how much I can do. But when I get acknowledgement by email or on social media, people say they feel I am making a difference even if it is just to a specific issue in their lives that I can help with in my capacity as an MP, such as raising issues with ministers or speaking to government departments.

“The other week I helped raise an issue in the commons about brain tumour research for a constituent and that’s when I’m not just helping one family I’m helping families across the UK, so that’s when I feel like I’m making a difference.”

Is there anything that has taken you by surprise being an MP? Has the job lived up to your expectations?

“I knew it would be hard work because I was a councillor for many years. I worked and was friends with MPs for 20 years prior so I knew it would be hard work. It’s hugely rewarding, although being in opposition is hugely frustrating.

“I didn’t realise how awed I would be by the Palace of Westminster, it is a really special place to be in and its grandeur, its history, does add to the feeling that I’m hugely privileged and honoured to be there representing my constituents. I can’t wait to be able to show people around again, children and community organisations or constituents who have managed to get a ticket for Prime Minister’s Questions. 

“It will cost billions to get it repaired and fit for purpose, because it’s not. It’s dangerous and falling apart. But I think it’s worth it because of what it stands for. It’s not about making it a comfortable workplace for people like me, it’s about it being made safe and suitable for the generations to come.”

How has the pandemic affected your ability to represent you constituents?

“My team have not physically been in the same room together since the first lockdown last year. So we’re responding to the casework and doing surgeries online, having meetings online and all of that sort of thing.

“Until recently I’ve been speaking remotely, but now I’m vaccinated and, being a London MP, I feel safe on the transport so I generally go to the chamber to speak. I have flexibility that colleagues who live a long way from London don’t have, so they have to make a decision to stay up in their constituencies and speak remotely.”

Do MPs physically present in the House of Commons get prioritised?

“No, they changed the system. So in normal times, pre-COVID, you have to be in the chamber to speak and you have to catch the Speaker’s eye which meant unless you’re the front bench spokesperson you have to keep bobbing up and down, it’s very good for the thigh muscles! Unless you’re on the order paper for Ministerial Questions, then you have to keep bobbing.

“Now that all had to stop because there was no way to have an equal system whilst having absolute minimum numbers down in the chamber… So now in order to ensure equality you can only speak if you’re on the call list. If you’re not on it then that means there’s no point coming whether that’s virtual or physically.”

Would you say you’ve had more chances to speak since COVID or less?

“Actually less. Because you can speak remotely it means that lots of people enter the ballot and try to get called. Even if you’re not in the chamber, but you are drawn, you know you will be able to ask your question or make your speech and it goes in Hansard.

“The key issue is, in one sense, having spoken on the record in Hansard is an important proof of what you’ve done and what you’ve said. People track that and I can use it when I’m trying to research what other MPs have said, particularly what ministers have said.

“In the old days, on Thursdays, it was quite easy to get in to speak because most MPs want to get back to their constituencies on Thursdays, but that’s no longer the case.”

Sticking with COVID, how do you feel about the fact that 110 direct flights from India have landed in the UK on the last three and half weeks, since it’s been placed on the red list for travel?

“I think it is very worrying. Our area, Heathrow is just to the west of us and we have the Piccadilly Line coming from Heathrow too. Though, it’s not so much that 110 flights have come in, rather it’s once they arrive at Heathrow there’s no proper separation. 

“One suggestion has been to reopen one of the mothballed terminals to make sure flights coming from countries on the red list were going to a different terminal. I’m really concerned about what I’m hearing and seeing on social media and what staff from Heathrow are telling us.

“Overcrowded, badly ventilated arrival halls, little separation between red, amber and green arrivals. Border Force should be maxing out their staff to get people through the gates quickly and I heard they had something like six gates open? It’s ludicrous.

“Then there’s the quarantine issue in the hotels which are poorly managed and not fit for purpose. I’m not averse to fairly strict border controls so we can live more freely within out country in the same way people have in New Zealand and Australia. You can’t have it both ways.

“Even though we’re one of the countries with one of the highest levels of vaccination, we’re still learning a lot about Long COVID amongst adults as well as children. People can be asymptomatic and then have quite severe post-infection symptoms which affect their ability to work and ability to study. What’s going on now at Heathrow is just yet another example of the disorganisation and lack of ability to make clear decisions and stick to them by this Government.

On that point, considering the way the Government have handled the pandemic, why hasn’t Labour been able to capitalise on this? Why do you think Labour have done so badly in the local elections?

“The real problem is we’re not in power. If you look at areas where Labour did really well, practically the equal best result we’ve had in Wales, is because we’ve had a good government in power which has been clear and consistent with its messaging. 

“They have been making clear decisions and were explaining why they are there. I’ve not picked up a lot of negative briefing of the government in Wales. We have a Labour government in Wales and we did well in the elections.

“It’s a bit like after the end of the war or whilst the war was still finishing, it’s very difficult for an opposition party to do well whilst the crisis is happening. In my view I think Keir Starmer has done a stunning job challenging the Prime Minister at Prime Minister’s Questions but that’s not filtering out into the mainstream narrative for whatever reason.

“We also did well in council elections, doing well in Manchester, Preston and Salford and Kirklees where we are in power, delivering and communicating. I admit it’s not easy being Labour wanting to be back in power, but… we’ll get there.”

Do you think Keir Starmer’s position on Brexit prior to 2019, and your own position supporting the People’s Vote movement, in any way damaged Labour’s credibility in places like Hartlepool or other leave-voting areas? Do you regret your support for the People’s Vote movement?

“I don’t regret my support for going for a second referendum. I think if Jeremy Corbyn hadn’t gone for an election rather going back to the people on the nature of Brexit, we might be in a different position now. I think that’s all history. The reason we have done badly in red wall areas is more complex than merely Brexit.

“I went door knocking in Hartlepool for a couple of days and many of my colleagues did as well. Brexit wasn’t really coming up on the door step, that’s done and we’ve got to move on. There’s issues around industrial decline, there’s people saying we should give Boris Johnson a chance and give the Government a chance because it’s difficult at the moment. 

“Then there’s the Tory mayor of Teeside has managed to get shedloads of money and promises for Hartlepool from his friends in Government in a way that Sadiq Khan has had opposite issues and is being punished for being a Labour Mayor of London.

“So it’s a lot more complex in Hartlepool, I think it’s a lot more complex than just Brexit and we can’t put the clock back.”

Keir Starmer’s most recent personal disapproval rating was 65% in a most recent YouGov poll. It took Jeremy Corbyn three years to to that point. Do you think leadership of the party might be an issue?

“No I don’t think it is. I think Keir is a good leader and I think in his speeches he’s made and his challenges of Johnson at the dispatch box at PMQs has been really really strong. As I said, its difficult to get traction in the mainstream media and particularly on social media as well at the moment, particularly when we are not in government. 

“It’s been difficult to cut through and we have got a mountain to climb. When people spoke to me in Hartlepool about how they were going to vote, those who mentioned the Labour leader were basically very glad we had got rid of Jeremy Corbyn and we’re either positive or didn’t know a lot about Keir Starmer. 

“So that’s the challenge, it’s really difficult to get those messages across in the time we have had. It was only a month or two ago that Keir actually met any of us face to face. Even his own team were working remotely, he could only recently go out and talk to the public. We even restricted any kind of election campaigning in Hartlepool until after Easter so it is really quite difficult.”

Do you think the Conservatives’ legislation to require photo ID for voters will affect your seat and Labour’s chances more broadly to win elections in the future?

“I think it’s a very disingenuous political move. It will disenfranchise so many people as has been shown in the trial areas and yes I think it will affect votes here! There are an awful lot of people who don’t have photo ID or have or need a driving licence, particularly older people who don’t have or need a passport.

“In theory apparently you you can go and get ID and it will be free from the local authority. The process of administering any kind of card ID system costs money because will need staff to run it, then there’s the cost of the card itself and whether it’s got a chip or anything in that will add to the cost. 

“If local authorities are going to have to pay that’s just another added burden on them at a time when they have lost so much grant income from Government already, and can’t make up the difference from hard-pressed council tax payers.

“I think it’s an appalling policy, It’s anti-democratic. The level of non-voting, either the people who will be turned away at the polling station because they’ve never had to use ID before so haven’t brought it with them or the people who won’t even bother trying to vote because they don’t have ID and just leave it.”

What are your biggest local policies of concern at the moment? 

“I guess the one I have been spending a lot of time on is fire safety in residential blocks and the consequences of Brexit on people’s income and goes across the board from our numbers of the three million excluded from Government COVID support schemes to the tens of thousands who work at Heathrow and in hospitality who have lost income. 

“The other one that is going to be bubbling under in a couple of weeks is the end, the final end, of the eviction ban for private tenants. Because of the shortage of council and Housing Association housing, we have tens of thousands of families living in private rented accommodations.

“If they’ve lost income and are in rent arrears, then I fear the evictions will shoot up and we will get so many more homeless people and homeless families. Homeless families are gonna be put up in hotels or hostels and might eventually get further low quality private rented housing they’d been living in anyway. And for those who are not eligible for council help, particularly working age adults who are not disabled, they’re going to be sofa surfing or even worse be on the street homeless.

“I’m not getting the case work yet, but it is a worry and the council are worried too.”

What are you most proud of in your six years of being an MP?

“I think being responsive. I will always have people who say that I never responded to their email but we really do try to respond to everyone who makes it clear where they live by putting their address in their email or gives their address on the phone.

“Hopefully I’ve responded when people have written to me about a personal issue, such as with the DWP or Housing, areas where I can unlock an issue. I hope I have been able to make a difference, certainly I’ve got the ‘thank yous’ from everybody who comes to me that way.

“Then the people who have written to me about a particular issue like the environment or the hundreds of emails I’ve received about the violence in Israel and Palestine, I hope I give a response and some might not agree with my response but I hope I’m able to serve and on the whole people are satisfied.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick voted for Sadiq Khan in the Mayoral elections

See also: Council ends Streetspace trial at Turnham Green Terrace

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.

Brentford FC victory puts it one match away from joining the Premier League

Image: Brentford FC

Brentford 3, Bournemouth 1 (aggregate 3-2)

Championship play-off semi-final, 2nd leg

Following Brentford’s tortuous trail towards Premier League football has been like a stroll down nightmare alley. No other club in the Football League has on nine previous occasions reached the play-offs – the last-gasp opportunity for those nearly teams that just missed promotion via finishing in the top two of their respective divisions – but failed to win through in any of them.

The loyal faithful can recall the horrors of a chain of failure as if each link was yesterday. Indeed, the latest hurdle with which their favourites abruptly collided rather than soared over was only a year ago, when Fulham beat them 2-1 at Wembley Stadium despite having lost both their Championship league encounters that season.

Yet that old acquaintance déjà vu has visited once again as the latest league programme ended with Brentford finishing third in the table for the second year running and being called upon to face recent Premier League evacuees Bournemouth to decide over home and away ties which of them should revisit Wembley.

The smart money was on Brentford at last to succeed, what with stuttering form having seen the Dorset club resulting in sixth place in the table, three below the Bees. But, as so often happens, the smart money soon revealed itself to be no reliable weathervane when it comes to the winds of football fortune.

I’d watched Bournemouth enough on television in this lock-down, closed-doors season to know they brimmed with talent and, reminiscent of Fulham, were perfectly capable of avenging the two league defeats inflicted by Brentford, including one when reduced to ten men after the referee despatched Brentford’s skipper Pontus Jannson to the dressing room following two clumsy tackles. And, sure enough, the sweetly nicknamed Cherries deservedly won the first leg by the only goal at the Vitality Stadium.

What could the Bees offer in the return, which as in the first game was was to be watched by a live, socially very distanced audience of home supporters? Well, atmosphere to begin with. Most of them were unfamiliar with the spanking new stadium in Lionel Road, Brentford, which had been ready at season’s start to replace the old, creaking, but much-loved ground less than a mile away to the west, yet as kick-off time approached last Saturday it became obvious that they had brought the Griffin Park ambience with them by the pocket-load.

With the giant screen atop the east stand bearing the legend ‘Bees Together’, the team arrived on the pitch to conduct a pre-match half-lap of honour, followed by head coach Thomas Frank at a sedate jog. The 4,000 onlookers responded with the volume turned up – ‘This is worth a goal start’ I said to my loyal companion, Charlie, as the roar from the crowd reached a crescendo.

Image: Brentford FC

I’ve been wrong before and Bournemouth didn’t waste time proving my fallibility. Stirring music reminiscent of ‘Chariots of Fire’ had barely given way to club anthem ‘Hey Jude’ and the diversity message ‘One family, One community, One club’ faded from the screen before the visitors were in front. A Brentford corner attended by what seemed the entire team was cleared for Arnault Danjuma to outpace a chasing pack attempting to assemble a defence and beat goalkeeper David Raya easily.

Down 0-2 on aggregate before the crowd had finished clearing their throats. Brentford supporters walk hand in hand with calamity, but this was a dream-shredder too early, too far.

‘Not to worry’, said the irrepressible Charlie. ‘We lost 1-0 at Swansea last year and went on to win the second leg 3-1. Even favourable history can repeat itself.’

Whereupon a corner from Emiliano Marcondes struck defender Lloyd Kelly on the arm, which was unfortunate for him, especially as he was in the penalty area at the time. Ivan Toney despatched the spot-kick with his usual nonchalance and things were looking up, even if Toney, together with Bournemouth keeper Asmir Bokavic, was yellow-carded for an unseemly squabble over possession of the ball following his thirty-second goal this season.

More drama was to follow. Busy Bryan Mbuemo took off on a solo run that threatened to bring a goal until centre back Chris Mepham, once of the Griffin Park parish, tumbled in seeking to prevent him but not before clipping Mbuemo’s heels and dumping him on the turf just outside the penalty area. It was a straight red card for Mepham and probably the most crucial moment of the game.

Image: Brentford FC

With Brentford rampant and Frank utilising his tactical skills in making key substitutions the pendulum swung the home side’s way. The statistics (67 per cent possession against 33; 18 shots against just 2) tell a story of a ten-man team having to take on eleven-plus hungry young athletes determined to dispel memories of past disappointments.

A spooky goal from midfielder Vitaly Janelt, when his shot took on a trajectory nobody could have predicted and looped into the far corner of Bokavic’s net, put the home side on terms – 2-2 now, from then on it was to be a shootout to see who could get the deciding goal. And eight minutes from normal time it was Bournemouth who blinked as Marcondes delivered a cross to the feet of substitute striker Marcus Forss for him to clip it home from close range.

‘Told you so,’ said Charlie.

And so it is back to Wembley and a final against Swansea – 2-1 aggregate winners over Barnsley in the other semi – and the glittering prize of promotion to the Premiership.

Prior to that, a few glasses of red would celebrate this victory, said Frank, but ‘we will be prepared, come flying out and give everything, and we pray and hope it’s enough this time.’

‘I’ll drink to that,’ said my mate Charlie.

Brentford: Raya, Dalsgaard, Jannson, Pinnock, Rasmussen, Jensen, Jannelt, Canos, Marcondes, Toney, Mbeumo. Substitutes: Daniels, Goode, Forss, Ghoddos, Reid, Fosu-Henry. Stevens, Bidstrup.

Bournemouth: Begovic, A Smith, Carter-Vickers, Mepham, Kelly, Lerma, Pearson, Brooks, Billing, Danjuma Groeneveld, Solanke. Substitutes: Wilshere, Long, Surridge, Stacey, Riquelme, Rico, Travers, Kilkenny, Anthony.

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor to the Bees United supporters’ group.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick voted for Sadiq Khan in the Mayoral elections

See also: Flying Scotsman comes through Chiswick

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Turner’s English Coasts

Christine Riding and Andrew Marr before A Shipwreck at Turner’s House. Photograph Kilian O’Sullivan

Broadcaster and art enthusiast Andrew Marr opened an exhibition of J.M.W. Turner’s original maritime watercolours and prints on Friday 21 May in the artist’s former home in Twickenham.

Turner’s English Coasts focuses on English marine and coastal subjects at a pivotal time in his career when he was living at Sandycombe Lodge – the house he designed and lived in between 1813 to 1826.

This is a special place to have an exhibition like this,” said Andrew, remarking on how much he enjoyed viewing the exhibits in such an intimate space,

“ We are all aware of the huge, blockbuster shows …the problem with a blockbuster show is there is too much most of time. You have room after room and your feet get sore and your eyes glaze over and you feel slightly guilty because you are not looking properly.”

“ In a small show like this, in a domestic space, which Turner himself knew very well, you are able to dwell on a relatively modest number of absolutely beautiful pictures and look at them for some time in detail. And these are some of the most gorgeous works by Turner. They may be small but they are utterly gorgeous and everyone who comes here is going to be transformed by them.”

Top Andrew Marr studying A Shipwreck & in front of a portrait of J.M.W. Turner in the sitting room at Sandycombe Lodge, the artist’s former home. Photographs Kilian O’Sullivan

Christine Riding pointing to the gin smugglers in J.M.W. Turner’s Folkestone from the Sea, c.1822. Photograph Kilian O’Sullivan

Andrew Marr, whose TV series, Great Paintings of the World, included a programme about JMW Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire last year said that while making the programme he had realised that,

“ All the great ships in Nelson’s navy were media stars in their own right in the Britain of Turner’s age. Everyone knew The Temeraire and the rest of them and their nicknames and stories, so when The Temeraire was towed to be broken up huge numbers of people poured down to the coast just to watch it go by and to say goodbye. When it was broken up huge quantities of oak and other timber were used all across London for making chairs, and pulpits for churches, everybody wanted a little bit of The Temeraire, which gives you a sense of the intimate relationship between the navy, the sea and the English people at the time Turner was making these pictures.”

Comparisons were made to current COVID-19 travel restrictions and The Napoleonic Wars from 1792 to 1815 which had forced British people to take staycations along the English riviera.

Andrew said, “This is absolutely the right time for a Turner sea show…because most of us are trapped on the island.”

“Turner was a great British patriot but he was not a xenophobe in any sense. For Turner, the regular trips to Switzerland and to Venice were absolutely essential to his art. And his looking at Italian and above all Dutch art again and again. He was always looking outwards, but his great love was for these islands and particularly the sea.”

“Before this was an agricultural nation or an industrial nation or a colonial nation, it was first and foremost a nation of seafarers, the whole country was looking at the sea. England gets her wealth, commerce and fishing, but also her security from the sea. The Navy keeps us secure at this period, which is why Turner is such an important national painter, because he is looking at this watery barrier that defines these islands. He went round all the estuaries and harbours and coasts looking at them in detail as you can see upstairs.”

Guest curator of the exhibition, Christine Riding, Head of the Curatorial Department and Head Curator of British Art at The National Gallery and formerly of Tate Britain and The National Maritime Museum said,

“I’ve worked on a lot of exhibitions…but this is the first time I’ve worked on an exhibition in a house that the artist actually lived in, and what makes it even more special is that he actually designed and built the house, so this is a really special moment for me to have that intimate connection between the work of the artist and the house where he lived.”

Christine explained how Turner enjoyed and was energised by the sea and maritime heritage, “This was someone who intimately understood, visited and immersed himself in these places and saw himself as a traveller artist and was very aware of past artists particularly Dutch artists of the 17th century and the misadventurer…experiencing storms to better understand the power of nature.”

“There was a lot invested in Turner’s responses to the sea; it’s not just about British tourism which developed during the Napoleonic war period…but also about British identity, about artistic identity and about the maritime nation, which is why the works upstairs are not only a very personal response but also a national response to the sea, so I’m hoping that is what people will get out of it.”

Folkestone from the Sea, c.1822-4  Joseph Mallord William Turner Photo ©Tate

Ramsgate. 1812 Joseph Mallord William Turner Photo ©Tate

Other Turner experts attending the exhibition, hung in what is thought to be Turner’s father’s bedroom upstairs, included Franny Moyle,  whose biography, The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Times of JMW Turner was published in 2016 to critical acclaim and whose latest book The King’s Painter is published this week and was serialised this month on Radio Four’s Book of the Week  had this to say of the exhibition,

Franny Moyle at Turner’s House. Photograph Lucinda MacPherson

“It’s an exquisite exhibition. You sometimes forget the brilliance of Turner’s sense of colour when he is working in watercolours. They are like little jewels, the watercolours on show here. The exhibition reminds us that Turner was a really popular artist and that in his time …(he was) finding ways of giving a wider public access to his work. Well worth a visit.”

To learn more about J.M.W. Turner’s life and times watch this specially commissioned seven minute video by Turner’s House Trust of Franny Moyle here.

Turner’s English Coasts runs until Sunday 5 September 2021, Wednesday to Sunday 10am to 4pm. Prebooking is essential via Turner’s House, Sandycombe Lodge, 40 Sandycoombe Road, St Margarets, Twickenham TW1 2LR.

If you missed last year’s sell out exhibition, Turner and The Thames, an interview with last year’s guest curator Andrew Loukes is available here.

Ship in a Storm c 1823-6 Turner Joseph Mallord William. Graphite and watercolour on paper  Photo ©Tate

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Thomas Becket – Troublesome priest or people’s martyr?

See also: First pop up Antiques Market a success

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.

Ealing Council scraps LTN as trial ends

Ealing council has ended one of the borough’s Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) schemes in West Ealing South.

The decision to not renew continue the scheme after the trial’s end comes after months of significant protests from disaffected residents. In April, more than 2,000 people marched on Ealing’s town hall.

The council said the scheme was being torn out at Swyncombe Avenue, a key road linking Hounslow and Ealing, which was being closed for at least two months for road works. 

Recently, LB Hounslow made the decision to remove the controversial ‘Streetspace’ scheme at Turnham Green Terrace, which was installed during the first national lockdown. LB Harrow has removed similar schemes within the borough too.

Since the previous leader of Ealing council was ousted by the incumbent, Peter Mason, his tone has been more conciliatory to residents opposed to LTNs. As the West Ealing South scheme was removed, Cllr Mason vowed “a vote for local people on whether [LTNs] will work in their neighbourhoods.”

Campaign group One Ealing said the council had “divided our community by installing CCTV cameras, bollards and placing planters in an unsafe and undemocratic manner.

“We are all for cleaner air, but not at the expense of the residents and schools on the main roads.” 
Deputy Leader of Ealing Council, Cllr Deirdre Costigan, added: “Implementing active travel initiatives without community support is unsustainable — we can’t do this without the support of local people.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Opponents scent victory over Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes in west London

See also: Residents group files for Judicial Review on Cycleway 9 installation

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.

My Corona – Mississippi Swamp Dogs

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

Bob Marley

Live Music Rules, OK?

Live Music!  It’s a joy on any occasion but after months of exclusion from the delight of the shared enjoyment of sitting in a room with like-eared folk, supping beer and wine and engaging with sounds coming from real people instead of flickering screens, a proper gig this week was just shivers down the spine time.

Suddenly, there’s a skip (metaphorically for those of you that know me) in my step: a skip of hope, really.  I have two socially distanced live theatre evenings booked, including Becket’s ‘Happy Days’ at the newly refurbished Riverside Studios in Hammersmith.  That in-itself signifies hope as it reopened in 2019 and has been shut almost all the time since then.  A gig at Jazz Café that has been postponed twice has been given a new date.  I have a walking holiday with my sons and some mates in Yorkshire arranged and eagerly awaited, while other excursions are rapidly filling a diary that for months has only contained entries commencing with the words ‘Zoom with’, ‘walk with’ or finally, ‘vaccine appointment’.

Yet, along with that hope there remains nagging doubt and apprehension.

Let’s Not Ruin It!

The first trepidation is that we people do not screw it up.  Certainly, we can have a stronger degree of confidence now that such a high percentage of the population has had one or two vaccinations but over-confidence is not to be encouraged.  The unseasonal wet and cold weather has probably been a blessing, though I would not have said that while sitting in a pub garden with rain plopping into my pint during the last bank holiday.  It has probably helped damp down the socialising surge (no pun intended) as any evening stroll along Chiswick High Street shows reasonable footfall and much alfresco dining it has not been too manic.  Most places I have been in or peered into seem to have well distanced tables and, judging by the gaps, there is still some reticence towards sitting inside.  Yet, there have been exceptions.  One pub that shall remain nameless but is just by Kew Bridge station, made me so uncomfortable that I gave up a booked table and walked out.  In their desperation to make money the tables were so close I felt that the people next to me might as well been sitting on my lap. I have also heard that their gent’s toilets are like Piccadilly Station.  I know places need to recoup their losses but encouraging the next wave will not help their recovery.  Fortunately, most boozers I know, including my oft blogged local, have taken the sensible option and ensured a responsible and therefore relaxed environment.

Part of my worry about post lock down behaviour is a reflection of the government’s attitude.  Their messaging can still be unclear and their attitude towards airports and foreign travel is ambivalent and confusing. It is clear that delays in closing down airports contributed to the first spike and I do not understand why it took so long to restrict travel from India this time. Well, I do understand of course but I wont go into that now!

Talking of India, this brings me to my second niggling fear: new Covid mutations.  For recognised reasons, two West London Boroughs are designated areas of concern for what have been dubbed the ‘Indian variants’. There are, as I write, some 3,000 cases in the UK and rising.  There is still some doubt about how much more contagious it is and how effective the current vaccines are against it.  It seems the government and the scientists believe there is currently no need to be alarmed but we have heard that before.  What it does mean is that I harbour a residual fear that my plans over the next few months will fail to come to fruition.

The possibility of new variants is also playing in the minds of responsible hospitality providers.  As Chairman of Old Isleworthians RFU I have been part of the team assessing the protocols for returning to full contact training, opening the club-house bar and allowing use of showers and changing rooms.  Apart from our ‘rugby section’ we have cricket and football and each group gets conflicting advice from their constituent bodies.  While our players’ facilities are compliant according to some guidelines, they do not conform to the rugby authorities’ so they remain closed.  In addition, if we do allow showers after training, for example, the cleaning protocols are expensive and administratively heavy.  I am sure volunteer committees running sports and social clubs all over the country are grappling with these same issues.  Inevitably, there is pressure from younger members desperate to get back to playing the sports that keep them physically and mentally healthy while at the same time; older and family orientated members are calling for caution.  However, what was a joy was the reopening of our Clubhouse bar on Friday to coincide with a Vet’s (over 35’s) evening of touch rugby.  To see the place full of beaming smiles and happy that our carefully drawn up distancing and serving rules were observed was satisfying.  Our Association treasurer and bar committee would have been equally relieved after months of no income.

All That Jazz

Meanwhile, The Mississippi Swamp Dogs were just the ticket for a return to live music last Thursday at ‘Jazz at the George IV’.  Four blokes visibly enjoyed being back to doing what they love best, in front of an enthusiastic and appreciative audience.  With a range of good ol’ Southern US classics from Doctor John to Professor Longhair from the funky jazz of the Neville Brothers to the oompapa of the New Orleans ‘trad’ funeral march plus some bonuses like Nat King Cole and Chicago Blues we were treated royally. Front man Jeff Williams on vocals and trombone kept us amused with his patter as well as impressed with his full gusto top notes. With some solid driving rhythm and variety of guitar styles the evening rattled along at pace.  This was all the more impressive as, with a smaller, COVID gig compliant, band than usual, vocalist and key board virtuoso Paul Millar had to provide bass with his left hand as well as provide melody with his right.  At their July 15th return to The George IV they will have a fuller band replete with saxophone and, one assumes, a bassist. (Delighted to report Larry has confirmed there will indeed be a bassist for the gig. Ed).

Our table of six covered ages from mid-twenties to mid-sixties, proving that the joy of returning to some form of social life is a multi-generational one. The audience’s enjoyment was clearly unanimous with widespread agreement that it was an evening to be repeated.  There is something special about musicians when they are relaxed and comfortable and performing timeless music in a laid-back environment so well done to Larry Pryce and The Chiswick Calendar for bringing us a great opening night of a new series that will now be a regular weekly hang out for aficionados of Jazz and, well, any good music really.

So, when there is live music to be had, there is hope. Hope, and that it is all it is at this stage, that we can start to think about putting the crisis behind us – at least, in this fortunate country.  Hope that, although the virus will be forever with us, we have sufficient protocols and science to keep it at bay.  Hope that I can turn my creative juices to writing something that is not called “My Corona”.  I have been writing this blog for about fifteen months and it has appeared in The Chiswick Calendar for around ten so I think, and hope, that it is time to move on. Next week’s will therefore be my last blog in the Corona series either for The Chiswick Calendar or on my own website.

However, there is always time for a musical treat.  The first song by Mississippi Swamp Dogs was by my favourite New Orleans band, The Neville Brothers.  Formed in 1977 by four brothers: Art and Charles (who both have sadly passed away) and Aaron and Cyril who are still performing, The Neville Brothers are not classic New Orleans Jazz but have influences from that genre as well as funk, R&B and even reggae.  Their cover of ‘Way Down The Line’ was the theme tune of the second of the acclaimed series ‘The Wire’.  However, one of their signature songs, written by two of the brothers, is ‘Yellow Moon’ and this live version is from the famous New Orleans Tipitana Club.

Now, The Tipitana Club is legendary and has been the venue for several live albums, including The Neville Brothers, Dr John and Professor Longhair. So, as our Mississippi Swamp Dogs’ set included tracks by all three artists I am going to leave you with their version of Professor Longhair’s tribute to the club he loved so much.  This clip from the Hideaway bar in 2014 has the full band that I am hoping will be available for the July 15th gig. As they say in New Orleans “man, be there or be square’. Enjoy.


Read more blogs by Keith

Read the previous one – Plundered History. Stolen Culture.

See more of Keith’s work on his website –

Feel free to post any comments or suggestions there or by email to

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;

Man in the Middle 67: Not all that’s said is clear 

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 67: Not all that’s said is clear

Mother is in a chair by her window, looking out.

‘I’ve been crying.’

‘Why?’ I ask.

‘I thought you weren’t coming.’

‘I always come on Fridays.’

‘Is today Friday?’

I nod.

‘Oh. Are you late?’

‘No, I’m on time.’

She raises her eyebrows.

‘The doctor was here just now.’

‘What did he say?’

‘He wanted to know if I could look after myself. I said if I’m allowed to, I’m very good at it. If someone pops in and wants, you know, a scrambled egg, I can prepare it without any fuss.’

She has no cooking facilities in her room. The last time she cooked for herself at our house she went to bed with the gas on and the smoke alarm raging.

‘Of course, you could,’ I say.

‘He asked me do you know how old you are? Oh, yes, I said, I’m not an idiot. I had an enormous birthday cake only the other day and they gave me a party. He was impressed by that. I think.’

I give her a large print edition of her favourite short stories to replace the edition which has disappeared. She turns the book over in her hands a few times.

‘Does anyone ask after me?’

‘Terry rang yesterday.’

Her brother Terry lives in Canada.

‘When I was a child, the people in the street used to say where’s Granny ‘SoAndSo’? And they’d say oh, they’ve put her in a home. It was shameful. It sounded like somebody had been put on a shelf and forgotten.’

I look at my shoes.

‘Anyway…He was asking about my, my…domesticity. Is that the right word? He wrote something down. I don’t know what.’

She pauses. I know she will start talking again soon because of the way her lips tremble, like a croupier shuffling the cards before dealing.

‘Of course, I can look after myself, I said. Of course, of course. All my life I’ve looked after myself and others. I used to look after three kids, when I was only nine. Jonny. Pat. Terry. Got them to school, made sure they had breakfast. Oh God, poor Jonny.’

I’ve never heard of a sibling called Jonny. Pat is a dead sister.

‘He asked where I was brought up. Now you’ve got me, I said. I don’t know! What was that famous film all about vegetables? He laughed like a drain. He said I know the one you mean.’

‘Passport to Pimlico’?’

She shrugs and shakes her head.

‘We were very poor. You had to think carefully if you wanted to spend money. Which reminds me. I need a new toothbrush.’

Her mind has teleported from her childhood in the Thirties to the present quicker than the Tardis could carry Dr Who to the edge of the galaxy. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

‘I brought you a new one last week. Is it lost?’

‘Cost? About £1?’

I laugh.

‘Is my hearing a little funny?’

‘A little,’ I say.

She smiles.

‘Putting your socks on at my age is a terrible bore. That’s why I wear these most of the time.’

She points her walking stick at her slippers.

‘Your legs are looking better,’ I say.

‘They swell up and down like a trombone. Where do you live now?’

I tell her.

‘You lived there, too.’

She shakes her head.

‘The one with a balcony,’ I say.

She turns away from me.

‘And a view of the garden?’ she says with the enthusiasm of a child waking.


‘Such a lovely room. What are you doing with it now?’

Her bedroom has been reconverted to an office. But I don’t want to say so. It would be an admission we have moved on, that part of her has been erased. Would it help to be honest?

‘Nothing,’ I say.

‘Is Terry coming over?’

‘No, he just sent his love.’

‘Of course. Are the children, OK?’

‘They’re well.’

She asks if my son has decided which university to go to.

‘Exeter, probably. He may end up studying Italian in Venice?’

‘Vanish? Oh, no. I hope he doesn’t vanish.’

‘Venice, not vanish. Though he might vanish in Venice. Like in that Donald Sutherland movie.’

She shakes her head. She doesn’t approve of my joke. She’s still anxious with the thought her grandson might vanish. I wish she would wear her hearing-aids, these conversations can be like playing Blind-Man’s-Buff.

‘I’m sorry. It was a joke. He won’t vanish.’

She looks down at her lap.

‘Yesterday, they moved the entire building. Spun it right around. But today, I’m still in Room 51. Wasn’t that clever? To move it all and then to move it back. How do you think they do that?’.

I shrug my shoulders. The door opens with a gust of good humour.

‘Sorry, sorry,’ says one of the carers. ‘How are you, my darling?’

Mother grabs the carer’s arm with both her hands and nestles her face against her arm.

‘Wonderful. This is my son. He’s put on weight.’

‘Hello,’ I say.

‘Hello, darling’ says the carer.

Mother points at the carer and mouths the words ‘wonderful’.

‘Tea and biscuits,’ says the carer and retreats.

Mother sips the tea.

‘Not bad. Lukewarm, though. If I go to the canteen, the girls who know me well, the ones I really get on with, well, then I get a really special cup of tea.’

I wonder if the tea is lukewarm deliberately, so the residents don’t scald themselves.

She takes another sip.

‘I never thought it would come to this. I thought I would be stronger.’

She points to her head. ‘Here.’

I put my hand on hers. We look out of the window at time passing away, silently waiting for the moment, when both of us know, I will decide to leave.

Read more blogs by James Thellusson

Read the next in the series – Man in the Middle 68: Escape to the country

Read the previous one – Man in the Middle 66: I made a terrible error

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.