Skank – Chiswick Playhouse review

Images above: Clementine Bogg-Hargroves in Skank

Skank isn’t about sex as you might expect from the title, but about a young woman in despair, who sees no future. It’s a play, I would hazard a guess, that will strike a chord with a lot of young people at the moment.

It’s a one woman show which is funny and pacy and very well executed by writer and performer Clementine Bogg-Hargroves, but the humour is brittle – the wit and bravado of a young woman trying to find her way and failing.

“I’ve got a job, but it’s not my real job” says the bored office worker who’s never stuck at any employment for more than a few months. “I just have to do it so I can live”.

“My job here is so pointless that I managed to read Revolutionary Road over two days and nobody noticed.

“I’m just not where I thought I’d be. It’s not how I pictured it”.

She wants to be a writer and she’s experiencing the huge let down most of us have felt on leaving university, when suddenly we found we were no longer on a path laid out from one goal to the next, one exam to the next, but cut adrift to shift for ourselves to make our way in Life. It should be easier with an education. An Education is the holy grail, but when nobody wants to give you an interesting job or even answer your emails, it begins to feel like a sentence.

Comparing herself with Linda, who is, let’s face it, “simple”, Kate realises “it’s harder to be happy when you’re intelligent”; when you want more out of life. She wants to be a writer but it seems like an unattainable goal.

You’re probably wondering by now how this is in any way funny. It is and Clementine Bogg-Hargroves sparkles as the young woman who banters with her colleagues and takes the mickey out of them behind their backs. She does a good impression of a confident, sexy girl looking to pull the office dream boat at a party, laying herself out there through her exhibitionism on the dance floor and knocking back shots, but crumpling immediately when he shows no interest.

Like many a comedy, this dances along the top of the fence, teetering between fun on one side and despair on the other; slipping down into darkness and gloom increasingly as it’s revealed that Kate’s stress and anxiety are actually making her physically ill.

Images above: Clementine Bogg-Hargroves in Skank

I snuck into the tech rehearsal (which was perfect by the way) and met Clem afterwards. She has in fact put herself on the line. All that happens in the play has happened to her. She studied Arabic at Edinburgh University, chosen at random because she was good at languages.

“I never understood it when other people said they learned more at A level than they had in their degree. That was not my experience at all. I was learning something new every day”.

Then she found herself on the scrap heap, doing dead end jobs. She found she was so stressed and anxious that she suffered from tinnitus and experienced “derealisation”. It’s a disorder which makes the person feel lifeless and foggy. “The world slows down and things don’t seem real. It’s very scary. You almost hallucinate”.

Having been living independently, she moved back in with her parents.

“I got very strict with my day to day life, tutoring Chinese kinds in the morning and then going to body attack classes at the gym”.

She found both the structured days and the physical activity useful in getting back in control.

In her mid twenties she went to the ALRA, the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in Wigan and the play is directed by her friend and collaborator from there, Zoey Barnes and produced by Mark Ashmore.

“It’s quite surreal that it’s been so well reviewed” she says.

‘A tour de force performance’ – Number 9 Reveiws

‘This is seriously funny one woman stand-up’ – The Brighton Source

‘A constantly funny play’ – British Theatre Guide

Here’s my tuppence worth: A thought provoking and moving bitter-sweet play that makes you smile and laugh out loud.

Skank is on at Chiswick Playhouse from Tuesday 28 September – Saturday 2 October.

chiswickplayhouse.co.uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Autumn at Chiswick House

See also: Gorgeous young cocker spaniel ‘Chief’ wins Best In Show at Chiswick House Dog Show 2021

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New plant based Italian restaurant Pianta opens in Chiswick

Image above: Pianta restaurant CGI, Rory Cashin Design

Chiswick is getting a new concept in restaurants – Plant based Italian food. “Not vegetarian” says Stefano Fraquelli, owner of Pianta, opening shortly on Turnham Green Terrace.

“We won’t be using only vegetarian recipes. We want to encourage meat eaters to come here, but just eat more vegetables. Personally I’m a meat eater who wants to eat less meat and I know many dishes from my culture which use fresh vegetables, so we’ll be serving authentic Southern Italian food using organic vegetables”.

Stefano knows a thing or two about marketing restaurant ‘concepts’. His father started Spaghetti House with a partner in the 1950s. Now we are entirely used to pizza restaurants and steak houses, but back then Italian restaurateurs tended to open restaurants with their name over the door. Even Berni Inns, which brought prawn cocktails and steak and chips to the masses, were called after the brothers Berni. A two-word description of what food you might expect to eat there was a novel idea.

As a marketing concept it worked a treat. From the original Spaghetti House in Googe Street, at its height there were 17 restaurants in the chain.

Stefano grew up in the restaurant business, but unlike his father, who worked in restaurants from the age of 11, Stefano studied Business Administration. His father had a stroke when he was 19, so when he finished university in Bath, he went straight into the family business with his uncle.

“I had to unlearn everything I’d learned” he told me. “We had 400 employees, none of whom had stayed in school beyond the age of 16. They didn’t know what I was talking about”.

His uncle set him a six month schedule to learn every aspect of the business from the pot wash to front of house. Among the restaurants they ran were the Pescatori in Charlotte St, La Bussola in St Martin’s Lane and Cacciatore in Dover Street.

They also had their own central commissary where they did their own butchery and roasted their own coffee. It enabled Stefano to try out a new venture of his own – selling pre-packaged fresh pasta meals to Waitrose in the1980s; another new concept in food retailing.

Stefano eventually split the business with his uncle and went out on his own, opening a group of four Getti restaurants in the West End, in Wardour Street, Jermyn Street, Haymarket and Marylebone High Street and one in Istanbul (his wife was Turkish).

Images above: Pianta interior; cuisine

Why has he decided to open a restaurant in Chiswick? Though we may not like to think of ourselves as being in the sticks, we are relatively suburban for a man who has barely set foot out of the congestion zone.

The answer is of course, the pandemic. The impact of Covid on restaurant businesses in central London has been dire.

“It was sad having to close Zia Teresa, opposite Harrods. after 65 years”.

Stefano also wants to return to running a business where he is able to build up customer loyalty, rather than being reliant on the transient tourist trade. Lucky us. We get the benefit of several generations of restaurant experience and the recipes from Stefano’s mother Rosa, from Sicily, and his late father Lorenzo from lake Como.

Stefano has already transformed the premises, which when it was Charlotte’s Bistro was rather like entering a dark cave. The staircase up from the bar now leads to a glass roofed dining area which opens up the space beautifully.

Now it’s over to chef Pasquale Amico, whose experience of plant based Italian food includes having run two vegetarian restaurants of his own.

Examples of what to expect on the menu:

Arancini di riso, piselli, formaggio e salsa di pomodoro – Rice balls filled with peas and kinara cheese, spicy tomato dip

Burrata, nocciole e rape rosse – Burrata, toasted hazelnut and red beetroot purée

Ravioli menta e patate – Homemade ravioli filled with potato and mint

Malanzane alla Milanese – Breaded aubergine, tomato, peppers and olive salsa

Crocchetta di rape rosse, patate e funghi – Pan fried beetroot, wild muchrooms and potato cake with lentil ragout

Images above: Pianta cuisine

The restaurant’s will be open from Saturday 2 October. Opening hours Tuesday – Saturday, evenings only, from 5.00 – 10.30 pm and Sundays from 12.00 – 7.00 pm. Between 2 and 9 October Pianta is offering a 50% discount on food during its ‘soft’ opening, with its ‘official’ opening on Sunday 10 October.

Pianta restaurant
6 Turnham Green Terrace,
Chiswick W4 1QP

Tel:  0208 994 9777
@pianta_restaurant

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Autumn at Neptune 

See also: Autumn at Chiswick House

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Autumn at Neptune

Images above: Jane Cumberbatch; Jane’s garden

Interiors stylist Jane Cumberbatch will be joining journalist Fiona McCarthy at Neptune homeware store on Chiswick High Rd on Thursday 30 September and again on Thursday 14 October to talk about how to create a style for your home and garden that makes the most of what’s around you and finds beauty in the simple and everyday.

Jane has a string of books to her name; the latest Pure Style in the Garden, extends her style philosophy to a property’s outside space.

“It is about making the home and the everyday both beautiful and functional without scrimping on the essentials, like white sheets and a good loaf of bread” she says.

“From baking a cake and growing beans, to rejuvenating a room with a lick of paint, a brightly coloured blanket, or a revamped junk shop find, Pure Style is practical and creative”.

Image above: This season’s colour palette: Clove

Autumn colours at Neptune

She will feel at home at Neptune. There is no doubt the homeware store exudes style. The homeware company is in now in its 25th year, having been set up by two friends in the Cotswolds, John Sims-Hilditch and Giles Redman, in 1996.

“The design aesthetic is more and more versatile” says Neptune’s Daniel Boden-Wilson. This season’s colour is Clove – a rich, dark berry colour. They don’t actually expect people to repaint their homes every season, but they do look to offer something fresh and seasonally appropriate if you’re in the mood for a freshen up.

Clove goes beautifully with Old Rose, Mustard and Moss, a pale grey-green, in their existing colour palette. Paint colours and fabrics complement each other regardless of the season and show off the contemporary take on country style which typifies their furniture.

Images above: Wycombe collection

Autumn collection

They’ve brought out the Wycombe collection this autumn, described as ‘Arts and Crafts revival’, including the Wycombe bench featured in the shop window, a high-backed bench of solid oak with a woven paper seat, which you can dress up or use as it is depending on whether you’re going for a cosy or a stripped back look.

Selling everything from fitted kitchens to paints and fabrics by the metre, Neptune has its own in-house designers and its own factory in China. Like everyone else they are facing supply chain problems, but they at least are able to oversee every step of the production chain.

The creator of their autumn fabric range, Francesca Wardle, is a new young designer just starting out. Each season they are looking to add more UK suppliers, says Daniel, such as the Kersey throw made by the Bristol Weaving Mill and Isla velvet, woven in the UK.

The Chiswick shop is surprisingly large, divided up into a series of rooms with a patio space out the back where they show garden furniture. It’s laid out to feel as if you’re wandering through someone’s home, with a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living spaces leading off more conventional shop space at the front, with artfully placed accessories on a big table as you walk into from the High Rd, kitchen ware and candles and a body collection of lotions with fragrances developed in-house also.

Image above: Chiswick Store leader Anne-Marie Tavros

Store leader Anne-Marie Tavros tells me that since the pandemic people have tended to walk more up their end of the High Rd. She’s aware that they have suffered from being at the ‘wrong end’ of the High Rd which has less footfall, but once people find them, she says, they tend to come back.

I met Francesca and Peter in the ‘design library’ – an area with the floor space the size whole shops on Turnham Green Terrace, which is a quiet area where people can play around with fabric samples and paint colours and formulate their ideas without feeling the necessity of talking to one of the staff about it.

They’d bought their kitchen from Neptune and some other bits of furniture and were now looking at bar stools. In a moment of fun, Francesca said, she had bought bar stools with tractor seats in a playful nod to her husband’s suppressed desire to move to the country. Big mistake. They may look quirky and witty, but they’re really uncomfortable to sit on. Hence the return to Neptune and the sanctity of the design library to choose a fabric for their kitchen bar seats.

Image above: Francesca and Peter in the design library

“It’s brilliant because you can do it in your own time, not reliant on an assistant and there’s the space to mix and match and try things out”.

I confess to having gone away with a little pot of Clove Eggshell myself. Never let it be said that Chateau Osborne is not à la mode.

Jane Cumberbatch’s sessions are the first of a whole programme of events with makers, cooks and designer types, designed to entice us into the store.

Tickets £10. Price includes a copy of Pure Style in the Garden and a welcome drink. All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the charity Crisis.

Thursday 30 September, 6.00 – 8.30 pm – Register here.

Thursday 14 October, 6.00 8.30 pm – Register here.

Neptune,
305-307 Chiswick High Rd,
London W4 4HH

Tel:  0203 814 1220
neptune.com

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Gorgeous young cocker spaniel ‘Chief’ wins Best In Show at Chiswick House Dog Show

See also: Autumn at Chiswick House

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Chiswick’s petrol stations run dry

Chiswick’s petrol stations have run dry, after a weekend of panic-buying. I visited three petrol stations in Chiswick, one in Mortlake and one in Brentford and only at the Brentford station was there any petrol left by mid afternoon on Monday 27 September.

For several weeks now there have been reports of nationwide supply-chains being disrupted. Nando’s in Chiswick was one of those food outlets which were forced to close for lack of supplies as the post-Brexit shortage of Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) drivers, exacerbated by the pandemic, has sown chaos throughout UK supply chains. Some experts have predicted that disruptions and price rises will continue up to Christmas.

Over the weekend drivers have been queuing for hours to fill their cars at petrol stations that were still serving fuel. Two of the garages I visited had been rationing the amount people could buy.

The crisis has sparked calls from a senior doctor to prioritise NHS workers. Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chair of Council of the British Medical Association wrote a letter to the Prime Minister saying:

“While the government has said it is putting plans in place to allieviate the shortage of HGV drivers to transport fuel, the results of this won’t be immediate. Healthcare and essential workers must therefore be given priority access to fuel so they can continue their crucial work and guarantee care to patients”.

Images above: Shell garage on Goldhawk Road, ‘No Fuel’ written on an A4 piece of paper at the entrance to the station, petrol pumps with signs reading ‘Sorry out of use’ (Photographs by Matt Smith)

Shell station – 372 Goldhawk Rd, W6 0XF

Approaching the Shell garage on Goldhawk Road looked promising at first as there were a couple of cars parked by the pumps. But as I got closer and the cars began to drive away I noticed a small and easily missable sign at the entrance saying ‘No Fuel’. All the pumps at this station were closed, to the dismay of several drivers who only seemed to realise this when they had already parked up to refuel.

Explaining the station’s lack of fuel, the manager blamed the combination of panic-buying as well as the shortage of HGV drivers.

He told me: “If [demand] was normal up to now then we would have had the fuel – It’s the panic buying.

“Normally every second day we have a delivery because our stock level is directly connected [to suppliers]. If they can see we are low in stock then automatically we get a delivery. But because they have a shortage [of delivery drivers], they couldn’t do that.”

Asked when he thought the next delivery might be, the manager said:

“I haven’t received any messages, so in all honesty I don’t know.”

Images above: queues formed around Chiswick Roundabout, 2/10 of the stations pumps were blocked off by late morning; photographs by Matt Smith

Esso station Chiswick Roundabout – 1 Great West Rd, W4 5QJ

When I arrived at Esso at around 11.30am there were queues stretching around Chiswick Roundabout as well as down towards Brentford Leisure Centre. Only two pumps were open and the rest were either wrapped in plastic bags or blocked by bins or advertisement boards.

The station’s manager wasn’t around when I went in to ask some questions but staff told me he would be be in the branch in at 1.00pm. When I went back an hour and a half later, the two remaining pumps were out of use.

Images above: Bins, signage and plastic bags block off petrol pumps, a makeshift sign put outside later in the day (Photographs by Matt Smith)

Makeshift barriers blocked the empty pumps. Two huge and hastily written signs at the entrances to the station read: “Sorry No Fuel”. Drivers kept missing them though and drove into the station regardless thinking the pumps were free, only to be disappointed and drive off.

Staff told me it had been “crazy busy” over the last few days and blamed panic buying for shortages. They said they weren’t sure when another delivery of fuel would arrive.

Images above: BP garage on South Parade, all pumps were blocked off by cones and red & white tape (Photographs by Matt Smith)

BP stations –  70 South Parade, W4 5LG & Lower Mortlake Road, TW9 2LL

When I arrived at the BP on South Parade there were no queues, because the fuel had completely run out.

When I walked inside a member of the public was questioning a member of staff as to when they’d have fuel available again and he said he had no idea. The station’s supervisor told me the pumps had been closed since the weekend and referred me to BP’s head office when I asked when more fuel would be delivered.

Images above: BP Lower Mortlake Road, out of use petrol pumps (Photographs by Matt Smith)

The manager of the BP petrol station on Lower Mortlake Road, at Richmond Sainsbury’s, said the pumps had been closed since early Monday morning. This was one of the stations which had been rationing its fuel by limiting drivers to £30 worth of both diesel and unleaded, but this hadn’t stopped them running out.

Echoing the staff at the South Parade station, the manager said he didn’t know when more petrol would be delivered as they “haven’t been notified yet”.

At BP’s head office a spokesperson told me:

“I can’t provide information on situations at individual branches but generally across the country the fuel situation has been caused by lack of qualified HGV drivers and the shortages have been exacerbated by the intense demand that has been seen nationwide. We are making the great majority of deliveries and we are working our best [to resolve the shortages].”

Image above: queues at petrol pumps at Esso in Brentford (Photograph by Matt Smith)

Esso – Great West Rd, Brentford, TW8 9AD

Of all the stations I visited today Brentford Esso was the only one still serving fuel in the afternoon. When I arrived staff were busy serving customers inside and the manager was outside directing drivers to the side of the station where pumps remained open. The manager was speaking to drivers individually, informing them about Esso’s fuel ration policy.

Esso have released a statement telling consumers they have introduced a £30 limit on fuel purchases in response to reports of motorists filling up multiple jerry cans at their stations.

Images above: the beginning of the queue to get in the station, the end of the queue (Photographs by Matt Smith)

The Brentford station had some fuel left, but not enough to keep all the pumps working. The station was running at half capacity and queues stretched about half a mile down Great West Road to Brentford’s Toyota garage.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: South Chiswick LTN schemes sent back to LB Hounslow Cabinet to be reconsidered

See also: Man confesses to Chiswick Police an unsolved murder from 37 years ago

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Brentford 3, Liverpool 3   

Make no mistake, this was probably the greatest game ever played at a bus stop in Hounslow. Liverpool, the world’s fifth most valuable football club, had travelled from the top of the Premier League to West London for the clubs’ first league meeting since May 1947, when a draw could not save the home side from tumbling into the Second Division.

What a difference eighty or so years makes between then and last Saturday – the only similarity with this encounter at the Community Stadium was that the teams won a point each; the rest was pure, unforgettable magic.

With only one team change from the win at Wolverhampton – Frank Onyeka replacing Shandon Baptiste – head coach Thomas Frank’s judgement was questionable for the first fifteen minutes, when a visiting side as smooth as a Rolls-Royce engine made devastating play while the sun shone. Only a muscle-testing lunge by Kristopher Ajer to clear a Mohamed Salah shot off the goal-line prevented them from taking an early lead.

But as the minutes ticked by, Brentford almost visibly pulled up their socks and started to retaliate. And after twenty minutes the unthinkable happened – Ethan Pinnock, lurking near the far post, took full advantage of a cross by Sergi Canós – on Liverpool’s books prior to arriving at Brentford – that was neatly back-heeled on by Ivan Toney for Pinnock to put Brentford in front.

Images above: Brentford v Liverpool; photographs by Liz Vercoe

The crowd – all but the confidently vocal visiting fans – erupted. The home team celebrated as if the play-off final had been won all over again. The visiting team look bemused by this audacious turn of events.

But it took no longer than ten minutes for them to respond in kind, with a fine cross by Jordan Henderson met by Diego Jota, who eluded those defenders briefed to stay in his pocket to head home the equaliser. And only David Raya dual acrobatic saves worthy of gift-wrapping and keeping until Christmas prevented Curtis Jones and then Jota giving Liverpool the advantage before half-time.

If the pace of the game had been ferocious until now, it at times threatened to challenge Usain Bolt after the interval. Liverpool maintained possession that would be 67 per cent for the match. Jota continued to be a menace, as did Salah, and it was the Egyptian hotshot whose volley in the fifty-fourth minute beat Raya and convinced the VAR that the assistant referee was wrong in signalling an offside offence had been committed.

Images above: Brentford v Liverpool; photographs by Liz Vercoe

It was by no means one-way traffic, however, and Brentford’s defence still looked in good shape, so much so that Pontus Jansson deserted it temporarily to shake the crossbar with a shot that rebounded into the penalty area. Vitaly Janelt managed to nod it into the goal ahead of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s valiant effort to scoop it clear.

Two each and twenty-five minutes left to play. Could Brentford hang on to half of the spoils? It looked like a definite maybe, which became a definite no three minutes later when fortune smiled on the visitors and a bullet of a long-range shot from Curtis Jones clipped Ajer and was deflected enough to beat a despairing Raya.

Then Salah chipped a shot over Raya’s bar when he should have buried Brentford for good. But the final act of this extraordinary drama – the finest example of sport as theatre – was yet to be played out.

Entering stage left came Yoane Wissa, a recent addition to the Brentford squad and the third substitute to be employed by Frank. With Brentford pummelling anyone in the way, and Liverpool’s defence working manfully to see out the remaining eight minutes, the Congolese international managed to chip the ball over Alisson’s head and into the net.

Images above: Brentford v Liverpool; photographs by Liz Vercoe

More celebration, more delight in the stands. And it wasn’t quite the final curtain – that fell to Toney shooting into a corner of the net for what looked like a Brentford winner to all those failing to notice an assistant referee’s flag signalling offside.

As a dispirited Liverpool trudged from the pitch, with manager Jϋrgen Klopp hurrying after them and later commenting, ‘Brentford deserved a point because they put up a proper fight’. Thomas Frank, after the applause for his team had died down, said, ‘I am crazy, crazy proud of the performance and the players.’

With Liverpool still leading the Premier League, ninth-place Brentford next face West Ham away from home and then Chelsea at the Community Stadium, two of the sides above them in the table.

Onward and upward, I said to my mate Charlie, and reminded him of legendary Liverpool manager Bob Paisley’s observation, ‘Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you it’s more serious than that.’

Too right, Bob, said Charlie.

Brentford: Raya; Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock; Canós, Onyeka, Nøgaard; Janelt, Henry; Mbeumo, Toney. Substitutes used: M Jorgensen, Baptiste, Wissa.

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson. Fabinho, Jones; Salah, Jota, Mané. Sub used: Firmino.

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

Gorgeous young cocker spaniel ‘Chief’ wins Best In Show at 2021 Chiswick House Dog Show

Image above: ‘The Rolling Bones’; Best in Show Chief, with owner Relphine

By Beccy Bollard

The Chiswick Dog Show returned on Sunday after its one year hiatus due to the pandemic, and what a return it was! With excited tails wagging and tongues lolling, dogs and their owners came from all around to Chiswick House and Gardens to compete in and watch fun-spirited contests, vying for titles such as ‘prettiest bitch’ and ‘waggiest tail.’

The theme this year commemorated the 50th anniversary of Glastonbury festival. Camper vans serving mac and cheese and classic burger stalls aptly recreated the festival feeling. The outfits, whether human or canine, didn’t disappoint. The ‘Fancy Dress Children + Dog’ competition in particular provided some great moments, notably the winners, the ‘Rolling Bones’, a Rock n’ Roll septet complete with instrument-laden dogs.

The atmosphere throughout the day was a poignant reminder of why events such as this have been so missed; supportive crowds cheered and laughed along with the competitors – even when things (as they inevitably do with dog contests) went wrong. As comedian Herbie, the presenter of many of the day’s contests, observed: sometimes it’s funnier that way.

As the three acts who competed in ‘My Dog’s Got Talent’ and tried and failed to flip a treat from their nose into their mouth will tell you, the crowd was behind them whether they succeeed or not. That particular contest, performed for celebrity judges Neil Dudgen of Midsomer Murders fame and Harriet Thorpe (known for her roles in Absolutely Fabulous and Mamma Mia), also presented one of the most archetypal “Chiswick” moments of the day: when a delightful dog named Ginny played fetch and caught the cork from a bottle of champagne popped by her owner.

Images above: Chief and Hope; Mark with his ‘dog’ Stanley 

The competition for ‘Best in Show’ was fierce as usual, but the winners were the cocker spaniel Chief and his owner, 10 year-old Relphine.

At only 13 weeks old, Chief was a gift for her 10th birthday, and won the judges over with his laid-back charm and silky soft fur. When I spoke to Relphine and her mother Lulu after their win, with the sun symbolically illuminating the Dog Show for the first time that day, Lulu, tearing up slightly, told the Chiswick Calendar that this win was “exactly what [they] needed” after she sadly lost three of her businesses over the course of the pandemic.

Operating in the hospitality industry and owning a hotel, she was one of those hit the hardest by all the lockdowns. Chief and his twin sister (aptly named Hope) were bought to allow their family to focus their energy somewhere else rather than dwell on the negative.

Lulu even jokingly suggested that dog shows might be a “new business” venture for them. Their joy at their win, alongside the support from the crowd and the general atmosphere of the day, are a lovely reminder that bringing the community together (and doggies!) can provide us with some much-needed comfort after a tough year or so.

As always, the show owes its success to the volunteers who sign up to help. They ran it seamlessly and ensured the day was a success. A special shout out also goes to Mark who somehow managed to compete in the Best in Show competition with his ‘dog’ Stanley (constructed out of Wellington boots). He proudly showed me the ‘Well done!’ ribbon they received and truly proved that anyone, dog owner or not, can enjoy the Chiswick Dog Show!

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Autumn at Chiswick House

See also: Jazz at George IV Autumn programme

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Man confesses to Chiswick Police an unsolved murder from 37 years ago

Image above: Anthony Kemp; photograph Metropolitan Police

Anthony Kemp, 58, admitted to Chiswick Police that he had bludgeoned a man to death with an ashtray 37 years previously. He pleaded guilty to murder at the Old Bailey on Friday.

Kemp turned up at Chiswick Police Station on 28 July last year in the middle of the night and finding it closed but seeeing a light on inside, threw stones at the windows to attract their attention until an officer came down to investigate just after 4.00 am.

Kemp then confessed to the murder, telling the officer:

“You know what, I’m homeless, and I’m not going to sleep on the streets.”

He admitted murdering Christopher Ainscough, a 50-year-old head waiter who he had met on a night out, in December 1983. Mr Ainscough had invited Kemp back to his home in the early hours between 3 and 5 December. They had an argument and Kemp hit him with a heavy glass ashtray.

His body was later discovered by police officers who went to check on Mr Ainscough when he did not turn up to work at the Grieveson Grant and Co restaurant in the city. The original murder inquiry was closed in 1985 after no leads were found.

Angela Moriarty from the Crown Prosecution Service said:

“This case remained unsolved for more than 35 years before Anthony Kemp turned up at a police station to confess to a murder. He later retracted the confession and went on to blame another man, who had been dead for some years, before finally admitting the murder.

“In his initial police interview Kemp described how he had met the victim, went back to his flat where they drank and that the victim had said something that angered him. He saw an ashtray on the table and beat the victim on the head with it. In fact, this was a brutal and sustained attack, fracturing the skull of Mr Ainscough.

“The prosecution case included body worn footage which captured Kemp confessing to the murder. Further DNA analysis after this confession meant that we were also able to link Kemp to the crime scene by way of a cigarette butt left at the address.

“Mr Ainscough was a single man who lived alone. He had moved to London from Ireland some 30 years before his death. Although we have never been able to trace any of his family, I hope this conviction provides some sense of closure to all those who knew Mr Ainscough.”

Kemp will be sentenced on Wednesday, 13 October at the Old Bailey.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Last officers moving out of Chiswick Police Station

See also: South Chiswick LTN schemes sent back to LB Hounslow Cabinet to be reconsidered

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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South Chiswick LTN schemes sent back to Hounslow Council Cabinet to be reconsidered

Image above: Protestors going to the LB Hounslow Oversight and Scrutiny sub-committee on traffic restrictions in south Chiswick

A meeting of Hounslow Council’s Overview and Scrutiny sub-committee has decided that the Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes (LTNs) introduced in Grove Park and Strand on the Green over the past 18 months should be sent back to Cabinet to be reconsidered.

The councillors, (four Labour and one Conservative) decided unanimously that consultation on the schemes had not been fair and inclusive and that the traffic data provided was insufficient to be the basis for such important decisions. They were also concerned that impact on vulnerable people, such as elderly and disabled people and pregnant women, might constitute a violation of their human rights.

The meeting was open to the public and a group of protesters turned up to support Chiswick’s Conservative councillors who had ‘called in’ the LTN decisions. The members of the committee said they had received hundreds of emails from residents who were against the LTNs and they wanted them to know they had listened to their opinions and weren’t just there to rubber stamp council decisions.

Image above: Cllr Sam Hearn and Cllr John Todd

Existing traffic restrictions: “a very complicated scheme which people have difficulty in understanding” Cllr Sam Hearn

‘South Chiswick’, the rectangular area which forms a box south of the A4, bounded by the South Circular to the west and A316 to the east, the A4 to the north and the River Thames to the south, has had more LTNs introduced over the past 18 months than the rest of Chiswick put together. Most were introduced during 2020 under emergency measures; the Council’s Chief traffic officer Jefferson Nwokeoma wanted to make these permanent.

His report, which was being considered by the committee on Thursday 23 September, also covered two further schemes announced at the end of August – the closure of Burlington Lane to traffic incoming from the A316 and the extension of the hours during Staveley Rd was closed to traffic incoming from the A316, except to those with a permit. The meeting was delayed while members read a press release which had only just been handed to them, proposing further amendments to these two schemes.

“I’m really disappointed that the changes which have been announced were provided to us just before the meeting” said Cllr Javed Akhunzada

The LTN decisions were challenged by eight Conservative councillors, three of whom live in the area under discussion. When councillors ‘call in’ a decision made by a Cabinet member or a Chief officer, the committee decides whether there is a case for making the Council think again.

Cllr Sam Hearn, one of the councillors for Riverside ward, made the case that it was too early to make permanent schemes which had been introduced during lockdown. He also noted that three residents had referred aspects of the changes to the Local Government Ombudsman for consideration and said the Council should wait for their deliberation before deciding anything definitively.

“We have a very complicated scheme which people have difficulty in understanding” he said, which had been further complicated by the proposals in the press release.

It was more than two hours before anyone explained what those were – the inclusion of the area east of the A316 in Chiswick Homefields ward to those who had permission to drive into Staveley Rd from the A316 and a change to the hours governing access.

Image above: Cllr John Todd

Recent additional proposals threaten to “wreck the community” Cllr John Todd

Cllr John Todd, who represents Homefields ward, spoke of the thousands of emails Chiswick councillors had received, including one from the Sister in charge of the convent in Chiswick, who’d said she would not be able to deliver blood tests on time for patients to get to doctors and another from a carer who’d said she would have to give up her job.

The proposals “wrecked” the community, he said.

In particular he picked up on the issue of 64 Blue Badge holders who at the moment drive into Grove Park from the residential area east of the A316 who would not be allowed to do so because the Council had decided it was ‘too difficult’ to give them access.

He also highlighted that evidence regarding elderly and disabled people and pregnant women had been ‘mistakenly omitted’ from an Equality Analysis form and that the Governance officer had admitted that as drafted, it insufficiently documents the impact on elderly disabled and pregnant residents.

Image above: Chief officer Jefferson Nwokeoma

“It is not a referendum” – Chief officer Jefferson Nwokeoma

The Council’s Chief traffic officer Jefferson Nwokeoma said the measures introduced along Strand on the Green and Hartington Rd, and those in Staveley Road and Harvard Hill had been in place long enough for them to be able to see that they were working and they should be made permanent. There had been a huge reduction for example in the traffic along Staveley Rd, which had been 8,000 cars a day before the introduction of the barrier.

On air quality, he agreed there was insufficient data.

“The pandemic is not yet over. The challenge for us – there has been an improvement but we don’t know whether that’s because of the Streetspace changes or the pandemic”.

It’s not possible, he said, to have monitoring on every road and to have it prior to the introduction of a new scheme so they could make before and after comparisons, but they’d had to introduce the schemes too quickly for that to be the case.

He said there had been consultation with councillors but that when it came to decisions, they were “for the lead member and the chief officer to make … It’s not a referendum”.

Cllr Todd categorically denied that he nor anyone who lived in the Dukes Meadows area had heard of the proposed scheme to further restrict access to Burlington Land and Staveley Rd before it was announced at the end of August.

“I have not been engaged, informed or advised” he said.

Image above: Overview and Scrutiny sub-committee

More consultation needed

Cllr Javed Akhunzada (Labour), Cllr Gurmail Lal (Labour), Cllr Richard Foote (Labour), Cllr Ron Mushiso (Conservative) and Chair of the committee Cllr Daanish Saeed (Laboutr) all agreed there was more consultation needed.

Councillors were supposed to be improving the lives of residents and working in a transparent way, noted Cllr Lal. Cabinet Member Cllr Hanif Khan and Chief officer Jefferson Nwokeoma had agreed the schemes needed tweaking.

“The answers have not addressed the concerns brought to me by residents” he said.

Cllr Richard Foote (Labour) added:

“I think it’s vitally important to stop the rat race that occurs to avoid the Hogarth roundabout. I am uneasy. I think there’s quite a lot missing here about how we can help the large number of people who are affected by this”.

After the meeting Cllr John Todd told The Chiswick Calendar:

“I am very pleased that the Labour councillors conscientiously probed the evidence and readily identified the significant flaws in the respective schemes and the unacceptable treatment of Blue Badge holders and the disabled”.

Hounslow Council’s Cabinet must now decide whether to reconsider the LTNs or to ignore the sub committee’s recommendation and go ahead with making permanent those schemes introduced last year and introducing the further restrictions announced in August.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Anger as LB Hounslow increases traffic restrictions in south Chiswick

See also: Traffic data shows effects of traffic restrictions on south Chiswick

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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

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To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Brentford 7, Oldham Athletic 0

Image above: Brentford v Oldham Athletic, photograph Liz Verco

Problems-beset Oldham departed from the Community Stadium with a heavy heart and facing a bleak future. How have the mighty fallen, those riding high may muse. There, but for the grace of God, go we, tumbling from the heights to the outer reaches of league football. It’s tough at the top, certainly, but even more wretched at the bottom.

Among the 22 clubs that founded the Premier League in 1992, Oldham now find themselves in the basement of Division 2 and in great danger of being relegated from the EFL at the end of the season. Brentford, having beaten four Premier League clubs on their way to the Caracao Cup semi-finals in their promotion year, have been handed softer opposition this time around and, having despatched lively Forest Green Rovers 3-1, were on Tuesday able to field a team of young wannabes to take on a side so bereft of funds and inspiration that only four substitutes trooped on to the visitors’ bench. 

A forlorn sight, indeed, but for home fans one soon dispelled by a rampaging display of pinpoint passing and finishing of the highest order. It took inside three minutes for the Bees to go ahead, with Marcus Forss smacking a penalty home following a clumsy challenge on Yoane Wissa. Glum looks all round from the visitors. Was there worse to come?

There certainly was. In his outings with the first team, Forss has rarely gelled with the invention and sophistication of Ivan Toney. Here he ran free, a greyhound off its leash, and when not much more than ten minutes later Wissa let go a raking shot that rebounded from the far post, there was Marcus to pounce to score his second.

Image above: Frank Onyenka, photograph Liz Verco

Wissa was here, there and everywhere, shooting whenever possible and sometimes when it wasn’t. What a tremendous asset he will be when gently reminded that putting the ball into orbit when a chance is presented is neither wise nor fruitful.

After half-an-hour Oldham managed a shot on target which was easily gathered by Alvaro Fernández, who probably welcomed the exercise. Then Wissa penetrated a floundering defence to meet a magnificent through ball from Mathias Jensen and add his name to the scoresheet before poor Raphaël Diarra nudged the ball into his own goal as the Brentford hit squad bore down on him.

By now Forss had a hat-trick dancing before his eyes and he duly delivered one with his best finish of the evening. It must have been encouraging for head coach Thomas Frank to see a young man who always promises much to do so all in one match.              

Trailing 0-5, Oldham sent on three of their four subs immediately after the break, including the highly thought-of midfielder Harry Vaughan, slight of build, short and 17 years old, but obviously talented even if as glum as the rest of a team being hung out to dry.

Forss went one better than his hat-trick on the hour and then Wissa struck again with the finest of a very fine collection of strikes, Saman Ghoddos contributing a wicked, pacey cross that was met with an airborne overhead scissors kick that zipped into the net. No wonder Wissa promptly sat down in front of goal with arms spread like a potentate waiting for adulation from his people.

Images above: Midfield action, The two goalscorers Yoane Wissa and Marcus Forss, photographs Liz Verco

The home crowd was joined by Thomas Frank in applauding the despondent Oldham side from the pitch. Little consolation, one suspects, for a group of try-hards who face a turbulent future as the club flounders at the hands of owner Abdallah Lemsagam.

Our good wishes went with them on the journey home. 

Brentford: Fernández; M Jorgenson, Goode, Thompson; Roerslev, Ghoddos, Ghoddos; Jensen, 0nyeka; Fosu-Henry; Wissa; Forss. Substitutes used: Peart-Harris, Bidstrup, Stevens.

Oldham Athletic: Leutwiler; Fage, Clarke, Piergianni, Jameson; Keillor-Dunn, Bowden, Whelan, Diarra, Bahamboula; Dearnley. Subs used: Da Silva, Couto, Vaughan.

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0, Brentford 2

The previous Saturday to the Caracao Cup-tie saw Brentford head into the Midlands, looking for their first ever Premier League victory away from home. It was, as so often happens, Ivan Toney’s day – a majestic performance from the centre-forward fast becoming known as Mr Cool.

Both teams had lost their immediately past games and Wolves languished below Brentford in the League table. Thomas Frank selected an unchanged side from that which had been edged out by Brighton, while Wolves were also unchanged.

The Bees’ coach was unusually animated in the technical area as from the start the visitors worked hard to snuff out Wolves’ fluid attacks. As a result, the home side had difficulty in progressing beyond the edge of the 18-yard box. Frustration, or maybe plan stupidity, was their undoing just before the half-hour, when wing-back Fernando Marςal hung on to Toney from the back to impede him from any involvement in a Brentford corner. Toney ended up face down on the turf with Marςal still clutching him.

Image above: Wolverhampton’s Molineux Stadium

Toney, unruffled, tucked the penalty just inside keeper José de Sá’s left-hand post as the keeper hurled himself towards the opposite upright. That’s twelve out of twelve for Toney, for whom scoring from penalties has become something of an art form.

But for adverse decisions – one for offside, the other for handball – Toney would have scored twice more, once with a neat back-heel – and Brentford would have been four goals to the good and out of sight as far as Wolves were concerned.

No matter. Soon it was was that man again, racing down the left, surviving a defender’s desperate tackle and finding Bryan Mbeumo, waiting patiently in the goalmouth for an impeccably pass that allowed him to score easily.

Job done, although Wolves’ earlier sloppiness appeared to be contagious in the second half when Shandon Baptiste, already the recipient of a yellow card, committed a stupid foul that was the equivalent of a farewell note.

Thomas Frank was sanguine about the ending off but observed, ‘I was about to sub him!’ and adding, ‘We knew a win here today would be massive for us. We’re still learning, we’re just a bus stop in Hounslow.’

‘Some bus stop,’ said my mate Charlie.

Wolverhampton: de Sá; Kilman, Coady, Saiss; Nelson Semendo, Neves, João Moutinho, Marςal; Marchado Trincão, Jimenéz, Traoré. Substitutes used: Hwang Hee-Chan, Podence.

Brentford: Raya; Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock; Canós, Baptiste, Norgaard, Janelt, Henry; Mbuemo. Toney. Subs used: Onyeka, Roerslev, M Jorgensen.

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

LB Hounslow grants premises licence for new Room2 Hotel

LB Hounslow have issued a premises licence for the new Room2 Hotel on Windmill Road, Chiswick.

A Licensing Panel, held on Wednesday 22 September, reached its verdict following consultation with representatives from Lamington Group, which own the Room2 chain.

Chiswick Apartment Hotels Ltd applied for the provision of films, late night refreshment and the supply of alcohol between the hours of 8.00am to 11.30pm seven days a week for hotel residents and bona-fide guests, as well as from the end of permitted hours on New Year’s Eve to the start of permitted hours on New Year’s Day.

Members of the public will be able to enter the hotel as guests to eat in the restaurant or drink in the bar area, as well as to take away alcohol in sealed containers.

There are various proposed conditions attached to the application, including highlighting that the licensable activities provided at the premises shall be secondary to the main function of the building as a hotel.

Up to 90 people will be allowed on the ground floor of the hotel at any given time, not including members of staff. Members of the public will not be permitted on the ground floor of the premises for licensable activities outside the hours of 8.00am – 11.30pm to Monday to Sunday.

‘No noise generated by the hotel, or by its associated plant or equipment, shall emanate from the premises. Nor shall any vibration be transmitted through the structure of the premises which gives rise to a nuisance.

‘A direct telephone number for the hotel’s manager shall be publicly available at all times the premises is open. This telephone number is to be made available to residents and businesses in the vicinity’.

Image above: The Licensing Panel meeting on 22 September

Residents concerned the hotel would be turned ‘into an off-licence’

Residents had objected to the application, claiming it will be a public nuisance. Objections were put forward on the grounds that the general public would be allowed in the hotel, despite not being in-house guests – something which they say was omitted from the original planning application.

Martin Garnett lives directly opposite Room2 Hotel. He said it was clear in the original planning application there would be no public access and that the location of the hotel, in a ‘quiet resident street’, would be reflected in how the premises were to operate.

Objecting to the application, he said:

‘The proposed activities include off-licence sales, and would allow both take-away and delivered alcohol and food, in a quiet residential street, with sales available seven days a week, from 8.00 – 23.30 every day This is not what was originally presented as being the hotel’s purpose, both in itself and because of the public nuisance noise caused by delivery and collection.

Mr Garnett added:

‘The licencing application effectively turns the premises into an Off-Licence, in a quiet residential street, with sales available seven days a week, from 8.00 – 23.30 every day’ [sic].

During the meeting, Cllr Foot urged the applicants to be continually mindful of noise complaints and reminded them of the possibility of review in case any conditions were breached.

Mr Foot said that while these reviews do not happen often they are ‘there as something residents can take up if they feel that they need’.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Refurbishment to start on Ravenscourt Park tea house

See also: Chiswick telecomms box painted gold ‘to celebrate Paralympics GB’

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Fisher’s Lane traffic restrictions to be made permanent

A meeting of Ealing Council on Wednesday evening (22 September) has ratified a recommendation to make the traffic restrictions on Fisher’s Lane Permanent.

The meeting also confirmed the scrapping of six Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in the borough. The report presented to the Council argued that making the restrictions permanent benefits both cyclists and pedestrians in the area and that the closure has brought traffic levels down to those permitted by TfL for unsegregated cycle routes.

Cycle counts were done on Fisher’s Lane before and after the closure of the road to general motor traffic, showing an increase in cycling of 140% between November 2019 and September 2020. Further counts and surveys will be done this autumn.

The report claimed that opposition to the scheme was mainly triggered by the initial disruption when it was launched and the effect of the closure of Turnham Green, which has now been reopened. It concluded:

“It is considered that the benefits of the scheme for both cyclists and pedestrians outweigh the initial opposition.”

Prior to the meeting three Chiswick councillrs (Conservative) – Ranjit Gill, Joanna Biddolph and Ron Mushiso – had written to Ealing Council leaders asking them to reopen the lane. They argued that residents in the Southfield ward were experiencing higher levels of traffic than usual due to the closure.

In a recent Facebook post, the OneChiswick group, who are opposed to most traffic restrictions in Chiswick, said:

‘We will continue to campaign for [Fisher’s Lane] to be reopened as it is an essential route for so many and it is used so little at present causing heavy and polluting traffic along South Parade.’

However, supporters of the closure have been posting images of South Parade virtually empty at morning and evening rush hour, suggesting that drivers may have decided to take other routes or other transport alternatives.

The head teacher of Belmont Primary School, Elaine Lacey, wrote a letter in support of the initaitve and Chiswick School also received letters from parents in support of the  Lane changes, saying it makes their children’s journey to school by bike much safer.

A further consultation will now be held on the Fisher’s Lane restrictions, lasting 21 days, before a fixed Traffic Order is Issued. The Fisher’s Lane closure is a joint scheme with Hounslow Council and Hounslow’s approval is needed before a permanent traffic order can be obtained.

Detailed design of the scheme will take place in November with implementation of the permanent scheme planned for December.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: LB Hounslow asked to rethink decision on access to Grove Park from A316

See also: LB Hounslow to decide on licence for new Room2 hotel

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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.

Last officers moving out of Chiswick Police Station

The last police officers based at Chiswick Police Station are to move out by early October and the building itself has been put up for sale.

The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime gave the final approval to sell the station in June 2021, with Deputy Mayor Sophie Linden providing the necessary authorisation.

City Hall believes the sale of Chiswick Police Station, combined with sales of 16 other stations and two residential properties, will bring in between £79.9 million and £102.7 million to London’s coffers, saving up to £4.8 million in annual running costs.

Chiswick Police Station has been closed to the public for a while now, since the public counter was moved to Hounslow, although the front desk briefly reopened in mid-2020 when Hounslow Police Station was undergoing refurbishment.

The building, which is approximately 23,953 sq ft, looks likely to be demolished and replaced with a new development with shops on the ground floor and flats on three upper floors.

Tories criticise station’s closure

When the sales were raised at the Mayor’s Question Time recenlty, Sadiq Khan said:

“Thanks to the record levels of City Hall investment in the Met and the Government’s partial reversal of cuts, officer numbers are rising. Consequently, a review of the Met’s entire estate is underway in order to look at the long-term plans for police station buildings and the potential impact from the increase in police officer numbers. My top priority is to make Londoners safer – I have ensured that there’s a 24-hour police front counter in every London borough and the review of the Met’s estate will not mean changes to this commitment.”

In response to Ruth Cadbury MP praise for the Mayor’s record in London, Nicholas Rogers, London Assembly Member for SW London, (Conservative) Tweeted:

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Murder investigation launched in Ealing after death of 5-year old girl

See also: HGV driver shortages affect bin collections

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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.

Urgent appeal over missing west London teenager

Police have put out an urgent appeal for a 17-year-old missing from West London.

Sang, from Hayes, was last seen on 10 September. He has been missing for 10 days so far.

He is known to frequent the west London boroughs of Ealing and Hounslow so people in those areas are being asked to keep an eye out for him.

The police have released a picture of Sang in the hopes that someone may have seen him. In the image he has short black hair and is wearing a dark burgundy jacket with a black t-shirt.

 

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Murder investigation launched in Ealing after death of 5-year old girl

See also: Car stolen in the middle of a house move

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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.

Autumn at Chiswick House

Image above: Chiswick House lit up at night

Following a busy summer season with the reopening of Chiswick House and the Kitchen Garden, Giffords Circus, Luna Cinema and Pub in the Park, Chiswick House & Gardens have an exciting Autumn programme planned.

Chiswick House at Night

Chiswick House will be opening its doors for the evening on 8 October for its first ever ‘Late’ event. The event is a rare opportunity to experience Chiswick House at night at this special evening of workshops and performances after dark. From 6.00pm you can explore the House and experience the exhibition Bring Into Being, take part in crafty and meditative workshops and enjoy food, drink and music.

An artist and a physicist will share their reflections on consciousness; artist Ansuman Biswas and Astro Particle Physicist Professor Chamkaur Ghag will lead a 30-40 minute participatory discussion on consciousness, accompanied by music.

You can also make a bamboo fruit basket in a workshop led by Yiran Duan. Over an hour, using materials and techniques from the region in China where the artist grew up, she will help you create your basket to take home.

You can also blend your own herbal tea. There will be live acoustic music in the House, followed by a DJ set by Peter Adjaye in the Garden Pavilion. Peter Adjaye is a contemporary conceptual sound artist, composer, DJ-producer and musician. Peter performs DJ sets for art and design institutions around the world.

Reserve tickets at chiswickhouseandgardens.org.uk

Images bove: Yiran Duan, an example of a bamboo fruit basket, artist Ansuman Biswas 

Director Xanthe Arvanitakis says:

“At the end of October we say a fond farewell to our inaugural exhibition Bring into Being and temporarily close the House for conservation work over the winter months. But we are delighted to be bringing a whole host of exciting activities and experiences for the local community all year round.”

Image above: Dining Domes at Chiswick House

Dining Domes

Following the success of the Dining Domes at some of London’s top venues including Somerset House and Syon House, Chiswick House are excited to welcome the Dining Domes for what they say will be a truly magical dining experience this Autumn.

The Dining Domes will be open Friday – Sunday from 15 October – 7 November. Each Dome can seat up to 8 guests, for brunch, lunch and dinner.

A range of indulgent dishes have been designed by the Eventist Group’s award-winning culinary team. A sample of the lunch and dinner menus can be found online, but the menu is subject to change:

Dining Domes Sample Menu

Image above: dishes from the Dining Domes’ sample menu

All Dining Dome reservations are for 2 hours. After you meal you can enjoy drinks in the exclusive Garden Pavilion marquee where you can relax pre or post reservation.

While the Dining Domes are not totally step-free, there will be ramps for wheelchair users available. The Garden Pavilion where the bar area is, has step-free access. The toilets are fully accessible.

The opening times for the Domes on Friday and Saturday are 11.30am – 12.30pm for brunch, 2.00pm – 3.00pm for late lunch and 5.00pm – 8.30pm for Dinner. On Sunday the opening times are 11.00am – 12.00pm for brunch, 1.30pm – 2.30pm for Sunday lunch and 4.00pm – 5.00pm for late Sunday lunch.

You can book a dome at chiswickhouseandgardens.org.uk

Image above: Percy the Park Keeper map 

Autumn Treasure Hunt with Percy the Park Keeper

Aimed at families with young children, this unique outdoor event opens on 14 October with limited availability throughout half term and beyond.

Join Percy the Park Keeper on a theatrical treasure hunt, helping him get his animal friends ready for winter. Forest school meets puppetry, theatrical storytelling and clue-based adventure in this unique experience designed specifically for Chiswick House and Gardens. 

Demand is expected to be high so book early to avoid disappointment, Chiswick House are expecting half term to be the busiest time and the event will be promoted to local schools.

This is a theatrical live experience in the great British outdoors, designed to go ahead in all weathers. Suitable footwear (wellies) is recommended & outdoor clothing. Children may get dirty whilst participating.

Thursday 14 October at 2.00pm until Sunday 14 November 6.00pm. Peak tickets, including weekends and half term (25-29 October), are £25 for adults and £20 for children. Off peak tickets, weekdays (excluding half term), are £20 for adults and £15 for children. Family tickets are £60. Under the age of two children are free of charge but booking is essential.

Tickets can be reserved at chiswickhouseandgardens.org.uk.

Bizzy Buddies – Sporty fun and games

The Bizzy Buddies are back for October half-term. Join Reiss, Noah and their team at the Cricket Pavilion for sporty fun and games including dodgeball, football, athletics, tennis, rounders, cricket and more.

There are various booking options available, from half days to full weeks. There are sibling discounts available as well as a 10% discount on a full week booking.

The Bizzy Buddies team are strictly working in line with government guidelines. Children will be in groups of no more than 15 and temperature checks will be taken on entry to the camp each day.

The October half-term camp will be running 18 – 29 October. You can book tickets here: chiswickhouseandgardens.org.uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick House Dog Show 2021, Sunday 26 September

See also: Hands on History: Mudlarking exhibition at Chiswick Pier Trust

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

 

 

Chiswick House Dog Show 2021, Sunday 26 September

Chiswick House Dog Show is back this year, having been cancelled like so many other things in 2020. The Show, now in its 16th year, will take place on Sunday 26 September, held as usual on the cricket pitch within the Gardens of Chiswick House.

The Show is a great event. Thousands of people go with their dogs, to watch dogs take part in ridiculous competitions, such as ‘My Dog’s Got Talent’. Though it’s described as “probably the biggest dog show in London”, you don’t need a dog to enjoy the show so you can just turn up and watch free of charge.

Over the years the show has attracted an array of celebrity judges, including Kevin McNally, David Tennant and Mel Giedroyc.

“Chiswick House Dog Show is an opportunity for everyone who uses and loves Chiswick House & Gardens to give something back through being part of a fun day out for all the family” says organiser Jan Preece.

“Run by the community for the community, everyone’s efforts raise monies to fund the show and any money raised is used to maintain and improve Chiswick House & Gardens”.

Images above: Dogs taking part in a previous Chiswick House Dog Show

What’s on?

Covid has inevitably meant that some restrictions have crept into this year’s event, with competitors having to sign up online rather than register in person on the day.

Classes range from ‘Prettiest Bitch’ to ‘Best Groomed’ and ‘Best Veteran.’ There will also be puppy classes for all those who have added a new pet to their home in the past year.

“Every dog is welcome – big, small, pedigree, mutt, young and old – it’s a celebration of the canine world”.

It costs £4 to enter a dog into a class and you can register your dog or see the 2021 programme at:

chiswickhousedogshow.org.uk.

With a beer and wine bar and a range of food stalls, there’s no excuse not to make a day of it. There are around 60 stalls in total with an eclectic mix of dog related services and accessories on sale including pet portraiture, the latest in must-have collars and blankets, dog treats and the opportunity to support animal charities.

“Obviously there’s quite an emphasis on canine stores” says Jan, “but there’s lots of other things as well like there’s a candle store, dog portraits etcetera. There’s six or seven charity stalls including the RNLI, Chiswick House Friends will have their produce cart there too.”

Images above: dogs attending a previous Chiswick House Dog Show

Fancy dress theme

Every year the show puts on a fancy dress competition. Last year’s theme supposed to align with the 50th anniversary of Glastonbury music festival. But with Covid, last year’s show wasn’t able to go ahead.

“A bit like the Olympics we’re doing it a year late, this year we’re doing 50 years of Glastonbury” said Jan.

“[The winner] gets a big rosette saying ‘Best In Show!’ Every dog that enters gets a rosette saying ‘well done’.

Each class will have a first prize and a second prize and then at the end of the show all the winners of the 16 classes compete against each other to produce the dog considered to be ‘Best In Show’.

Image above: competing dogs getting kissed by their owner

Need for volunteers

The event is run by a team local of volunteers for the enjoyment of the Chiswick community, with the aim of raising money to maintain and improve Chiswick House Gardens.

It takes over 150 volunteers to run the Dog Show, so if you would like to volunteer to help even just for just a couple of hours, you can register via the website or email volunteer@chiswickhousedogshow.org.uk.

Even with less than a week to go, when asked Jan said they still need plenty of volunteers to sign up to help out.

“Oh god yes, we need volunteers right up until the very last minute” she said.

“We ask each volunteer to do about a couple of hours and we start at seven in the morning and finish at seven at night. So yes we are still asking for volunteers!”.

chiswickhousedogshow.org,uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick local authors at Chiswick Book Festival 2021

See also: Upstaged by a Muppet

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Hands on History: Mudlarking exhibition at Chiswick Pier Trust

Chiswick Pier Trust is putting on display some of London’s finest mudlarking collections. The ‘highly interactive’ two-day exhibition features the collections of 20 mudlarks and will take place on 25 & 26 September.

The collections of 20 mudlarks will be on display, with 10 featured on the Saturday and the other 10 on the Sunday, along with photographer Hannah Smiles’ large scale portraits of the mudlarks. This is a unique opportunity to meet London’s mudlarks and see their fascinating collections which have been passionately assembled over several decades of searching the exposed riverbed at low tide.

Chiswick Pier Trust said the exhibition ‘is the perfect opportunity for all the family to find out more about the history of London, from the ground up.’

You will have the chance to experience tangible ‘Hands on History’ and see large-scale portraits of the mudlarks captured by professional photographer, Hannah Smiles.

What is Mudlarking?

A mudlark is someone who scavenges in river mud for items of value. The term originated in London and was common in the late 18th and 19th centuries. For the original Mudlarks, searching the shores of the River Thames at low tide for anything that could be sold was a pretty unsavoury way to make a living.

Today it tends to be more of a hobby, made more popular by Lara Maiklem’s book, Mudlarking, a Sunday Times best seller which was featured on BBC Radio 4 in 2019.

In 2016 The Chiswick Calendar interviewed local mudlarker Ted Sandling as he delved into the shores of the Thames along Strand on the Green. You can watch the interview below:

Mudlark Webinar with Jason Sandy

As well as the exhibition, Chiswick Pier Trust is hosting a free webinar with Hammersmith mudlark and author Jason Sandy on Tuesday 21 September at 7.30pm, where he will discuss some of the extraordinary finds from west London riverbanks.

Artefacts range from Iron Age weapons to the Thames Victoria Cross and the Doves Press typeface created with Emery Walker which was hurled into the Thames from Hammersmith Bridge by his disgruntled partner T.J. Cobden-Sanderson.

Described as ‘quirky, fun and very interesting’, Jason’s talk is a window onto west London’s history from the ground up and a great introduction to the Mudlarks and the Thames exhibition

Images above: Jason Sandy by Hannah Smiles; Jason’s book Thames Mudlarking

Times & tickets

Jason Sandy webinar on 21 September 2021 at 7.30pm.

Tickets are free and Chiswick Pier Trust says donations are ‘very welcome’ – Tickets are available from chiswickpier.org.uk

10.00am – 5.00pm, Entry free, Chiswick Pier Trust, The Pier House, Corney Way, London W4 2UG.

Thames Festival Trust | Hands on History: Mudlarking Exhibition @ Totally Thames 2021 | Thames Festival Trust

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Butterflies and Flowers – Pop-up painting sessions all over Chiswick

See also: The New Climate War – The Fight to Take Back Our Planet

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

The New Climate War – The Fight to Take Back Our Planet

Image above: cover of The New Climate War by Michael E. Mann

by Nanette van der Laan

Drive less, fly less and turn off the lights. These are some of the ways we’ve been told that we can save the planet. But, as the pandemic has shown, our individual actions help very little when it comes to making a dent in CO2 emissions.

Some climate scientists called lockdowns an “inadvertent experiment”; a real-world global scenario to measure how big a role human activity plays in carbon emissions. The conclusion was unequivocal. The United Nations said the impact was “negligible” – or in the words of the World Meteorological Organisation a “tiny blip.”

As one of the world’s most renowned climate scientists Michael Mann reminds us in his latest book, individuals aren’t to blame for the climate crisis, even if vested interests want us to believe otherwise. The facts speak for themselves. Seventy-one percent of global emissions come from the same one hundred companies. In “The New Climate War”, Mann skilfully explains the sophisticated, decades-long campaign to blame individuals for climate change. It’s a fascinating insight into the dirty tricks used to block policies that could fix the planet.

This summer, my colleague Alex Thomson and I got a first-hand glimpse of that world. Together with Greenpeace, we worked on an undercover investigation for Channel 4 News which exposed the murky dealings of a senior ExxonMobil lobbyist, Keith McCoy. While he was being secretly recorded by someone posing as a head-hunter, McCoy happily admitted that the oil giant aggressively fought climate science and using shadowy front organisations. The footage offered a rare front-row seat to the secret war being waged on climate change legislation.

As McCoy tells the undercover reporter, what he was doing was perfectly legal. These are the sort of tactics by fossil fuel companies and their backers that Mann examines in a gripping study of how the architects of misinformation and misdirection work.

Mann is best known for his 1999 “hockey stick graph”, made famous in Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth”. It showed the rapid rise in temperatures since industrialisation caused by CO2. His work, alongside that of other climate experts, earned him the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. But his newfound fame also made him a target, resulting in harassment and death threats.

Times have changed and it’s rare to find climate change deniers these days, but the “inactivists” – as Mann calls them – are still fighting in the trenches. The tactics, he says, are just a “kinder, gentler form of denialism.” They are now engaging in a “multi-pronged offensive based on deception, distraction and delay.” This is the new climate war, he writes, and “the planet is losing.’

A favoured tactic he dissects is deflection; telling consumers that it’s “all our fault.” Take the NRA’s “Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People.” campaign, which diverted attention from the problem of easy access to assault weapons towards other (purported) contributors to mass shootings, such as mental illness or media depictions of violence.

Mann explores in depth the “Crying Indian” TV ad from the 1970’s – another fascinating deflection campaign. It featured a tearful Native American, looking on as his countryside is polluted by rubbish and litter. It told viewers to keep “America Beautiful” and that “People Start pollution. People can stop it.” However, the ad wasn’t quite what it appeared to be. It was created by the beverage industry, a group of large soft drinks and beer companies, who wanted to block bottle-return legislation. By blaming consumers for the problem, they managed to stop the so-called “bottle bill” that was designed to encourage recycling, but at a cost to the companies. As a result, Mann writes, “the global environmental threat of plastic pollution is still with us, a problem that has reached such crisis proportions that plastic waste has now penetrated to the deepest part of the world’s oceans.”

The fossil fuel industry has used the same tactics. In 2018, oil giant Chevron argued in court that they didn’t bear responsibility for rising sea-levels, but that “it’s the way people are living their lives.” During a hearing that was part of a courtroom showdown between California cities and oil corporations, the Chevron lawyer deflected when he said that “production and extraction of oil and gas are not responsible for increases in emissions, but rather “economic and population growth.”

With the COP26 Climate conference – arguably the world’s most important environmental gathering – just weeks away, it is a timely book.  Not only does it seek to debunk the myths that have derailed action on climate change, but it shows readers a real path towards saving the planet.

Nanette Van der Laan is a Senior Producer at Channel 4 News

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To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

HGV driver shortages affect bin collections

Images above: birds feed on litter in the streets (19 September), litter remains uncollected (16 September)

LB Hounslow is experiencing “minor disruptions” to waste and recycling collections due to the nationwide HGV driver shortage, they say.

Residents have complained about missed collections as well as rubbish left in the streets near local businesses for over a week.

The council is asking residents to minimise the amount of rubbish, recycling and food waste produced as well as avoiding doing big clear-outs at home, which will create more rubbish and recycling for council crews to collect.

‘We are committed to providing full service… despite challenges’ says Council

Councillor Guy Lambert, Cabinet Member for Highways, Recycling and Companies said:

“Disruption has occurred during a small number of rounds and where this has happened our Recycle 360 crews have been working tirelessly to remedy the situation, implementing additional collections shifts, including weekends.

“We recognise that delays are frustrating and we’re sorry for disruption where it occurs. We’re confident we have the right team to help reduce the disruption and will do our best to keep people informed. In any event, we will collect your waste and recycling, but it may not be on the schedule you are used to. For the last 18 months, despite the pandemic, our crews have ensured Hounslow could provide a full waste and recycling service, unlike so many other councils.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and update residents of any continuing problems.”

You can look out for further updates to the service on on the council’s Recycling and Rubbish webpage.

You can check what can and can’t be recycled in your collections on the council’s website. If you have had a missed collection you can report it, again via the council’s website or by emailing their recycling mailbox at: recycling@hounslow.gov.uk. You can also call on 0208 583 5555 to file a report.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Refurbishment to start on Ravenscourt Park tea house

See also: Chiswick telecomms box painted gold ‘to celebrate Paralympics GB’

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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 criticised after care workers fail to spot vulnerable woman’s serious sores

Report by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Ealing council has agreed to review whether it works with a home care provider in future after it was found to have falsified records during an Ombudsman investigation.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman was asked by a grieving daughter to investigate the care provided to her elderly mother by Metro Home Care, which was commissioned by the London Borough of Ealing, after she left hospital following a fall.

The daughter complained that during the 10 days she was out of hospital and cared for by the agency, her mother developed bed sores on her feet that were so serious, the hospital said they had become necrotic, and were at the most serious stage.

The agency had been commissioned by London Borough of Ealing to visit the mother four times a day to provide help with taking medication and personal care. However, the daughter complained the carers were not always on time, and sometimes did not show up at all.

The daughter also had serious concerns about the safeguarding investigation carried out by the council following the mother’s second admission to hospital.

The daughter provided the Ombudsman’s investigation with photographs of care notes taken when her mother was admitted to hospital. The notes provided by the agency were entirely different – they had different handwriting and the names of one of the care workers was spelt differently, and the times, durations and activities carried out for each visit were different on almost all occasions.

The falsified notes even recorded care workers had called the GP and district nurse on three separate occasions. The original notes showed no recordings of those calls, and this was backed up by the Ombudsman’s enquiries of the mother’s GP.

The Ombudsman’s investigation found there was no evidence the council took any immediate action following the hospital’s safeguarding referral. The social worker did not ask for the woman’s care records until five months after the council’s investigation started, in April 2019. The care agency told the social worker it had carried out its own investigation and found it had provided the mother with an appropriate level of care. The council accepted this.

Images above: from Metro Home Care’s website

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“When care workers are trusted to look after vulnerable people in their own homes, particularly when sourced by their local authority, families have a valid expectation the service they provide will be sensitive and professional. Sadly in this case, the care provided to the mother was inadequate at best.

“The care agency has not been able to provide me with any reason why the notes it sent to me were different from the contemporaneous notes provided by the woman’s daughter. The original notes I received suggest the care workers did nothing when it became apparent the mother was having difficulties standing, and was feeling unwell. Had medical professionals been called in, the mother’s bed sores could have been spotted sooner.

“Chillingly, the records the agency provided to my investigation show the care workers were either early or late on 21 out of a possible 36 occasions – and on three occasions the notes suggest there was no visit at all.

“Although councils can contract out care to agencies, they cannot contract out responsibility for that care, so I have also found fault with London Borough of Ealing for the care provider’s actions. I am pleased the council has accepted my recommendations to improve services – however they are delivered – to people in the borough.”

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services. In this case the council has agreed to apologise to the daughter and pay her £1,000 to acknowledge the unnecessary and enduring distress caused.

The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve processes for the wider public. In this case the council has agreed to provide feedback to the care agency about this investigation and consider its continuing working relationship with the agency, and the checks that the agency needs to put in place to ensure it is meeting the fundamental standards of care.

The council has also agreed to ensure any of its relevant staff are aware that care plans for people with pressure sores should include details of the care required to manage them, and they know of the procedures and timescales for carrying out safeguarding investigations.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: LB Hounslow asked to rethink decision on access to Grove Park from A316

See also: LB Hounslow to decide on licence for new Room2 hotel

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Man in the Middle 75: Who do you think you are?

Man in the Middle is the fictional diary of a Boomer coping with the demands of an ageing mother with dementia, his millennial children and his own impending obsolesce. Bowed down by Brexit, Covid and self-pity, all he wants is more ‘me time’.  Will he succeed? Or is he destined to be stuck forever in No Man’s Land in the war between the generations?

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

No 75: Who do you think you are?

Mother and I are answering a questionnaire called ‘Getting to Know Me’. It’s designed to give the staff at the new nursing home she is moving to an insight into her history and her likes and dislikes.

The questionnaire is a multiple-choice version of the TV series Who Do You Think You Are? Most of the questions are straight forward. We rattle through these quickly enough. No, Mother does not like beer festivals, carpentry or rock climbing. Yes, she does like tea, films and reminiscing.

There are boxes for you to make additional comments to help the staff better understand what makes their future residents tick. In the box next to ‘Do You Like Reminiscing?’ I write ‘Won a gold medal for GB at the Moscow Olympics’ and wonder if the new staff will notice or I will ever grow up.

Other questions are taking more time. Partly because the questions are complex. Next to ‘What makes you Happy?’ Mother asks me to write down ‘things that money can’t buy without having to work too hard’. I don’t think she’s horsing around but you can’t always tell if it’s her old sense of humour or the dementia responding.

Unfortunately, her hearing is poor. She’s mistaken bread making for bed making and dog petting for God petting. Several questions need repeating.

‘What was that question?’ she asks. She sounds offended.

‘DO-YOU-LIKE-RUG-MAKING?’ I repeat slowly for the third time.

She shakes her head in disbelief.

‘In the name of God, what sort of place are you sending me to?’

I am also bemused why the care home think she might want to take up rug making. Perhaps the Government has decreed that old people should pay for their social care by weaving rugs? I imagine knuckled nonagenarians at long benches hand weaving Union Jack rugs humming along to the ‘Best of Gracie Fields’ underneath a giant poster of the Queen.

‘Do you want to try Rug Making?’ I repeat, wearily. There are 50 more questions to be completed.

‘At my age? The idea is disgusting.’

‘Have you ever tried it?’ I ask.

‘Of course. With your father. What do you think you were an immaculate conception like Jesus Christ?’

My Mother has misheard rug making for love making. She thinks I’m sending her to a care home for Swingers.

‘I meant R-U-G making,’ I say. ‘The things you put on floors.’

‘Oh,’ she says.

We decide to let the embarrassment fade away over a few silent minutes. She looks out of the window. I pretend to study the questionnaire.

‘Here we go,’ I say. ‘The food section should be more fun. Do you like BBQs?’

‘Too rowdy,’ she says.

‘Sherry Afternoons?’

‘Can’t think of anything worse.’

‘Wine tasting?’

‘I’d prefer a pedicure.’

Her sense of humour is returning. The rug making faux pas is waving goodbye.

‘Favourite foods?’

‘Porridge.’

‘Anything else?’

‘Chips.’

‘And?’

She pauses.

‘Whelks.’

I haven’t seen her eat a whelk in 60 years.

‘Why?’

‘Chewy and very tasty. The wine gums of the sea.’

Would the Whelk Marketing Board would be interested in buying this slogan off her?

‘We ate whelks every Saturday,’ she says. ‘With a bag of chips and vinegar. Outside the pub while we waited for my parents to come out.’

She stops and stares at the net curtain rising and falling like an echo from a distant universe. Is this the start of a story or end of one? It’s not easy to know. Sometimes her stories stop abruptly like a path at the edge of a cliff or picked up again like a spoilt child returning to a half opened present previously tossed casually away.

‘The first time I tried to kill my mother was on St Patrick’s Day 1934. I was ten years old at the time. Or maybe eleven. But it was definitely St Patrick’s Day,’ she starts up.

‘On Paddy’s Day she drank from dawn to dusk. It was always the worst day of the year. She went from pub to pub until she could barely stand up. Then she came home, spitting like an angry dragon, lashing out with her fists, pulling at our hair.’

She lifts up her right fist and clenches her fingers together  like a claw. Her fist shakes. I can’t tell if she is re-enacting the moment her mother tugged the hair from her scalp that dreadful evening or if this gentle movement is just the incontinent tremor of old muscles.

‘I remember her on her bed almost unconscious from all the day’s drinking. She shouted at me to bring her a cup of tea. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. None of us had. And she was there dead drunk, screaming at me to bring her a cup of tea. I thought this can’t go on. This is the moment to end it. She’s so drunk she won’t feel anything. I can just put it in her tea and it will all be over.’

‘Put what in her tea?’

‘Stuff from the chemist.’

‘Stuff?’ I ask.

‘Cleaning powder. The chemist kept them in beautiful blue and green bottles. They looked like jars of sweets.’

‘You mean bleach?’

She nods.

‘We were houseproud even though we were poor. We were great ones for cleaning everything. We wanted to keep up with the Joneses.’

I’ve always known my Mother resented her mother. But I never knew she tried to kill her. Twice. Suddenly, ‘Who Do You think You Are’ is morphing into a Netflix crime confessional. I’m not sure what I feel about it. Curious? Yes. Ashamed? No. Shocked? No. Should I report her to the Police?

‘I gave her a dose thinking it would knock her out forever. But it didn’t. She was so drunk she just slept it off.’

‘You could have gone to prison.’

She shakes her head.

‘No one would have betrayed me to the Police. We all hated her. Anyway, I was so good at pretending and who would believe a ten-year old would poison their mother?’

‘Lots,’ I say.

Mother shrugs her shoulders.

‘Is that the end?’ she asks.

‘There’s a section called ‘My religious and spiritual beliefs’ left to do,’ I say.

‘I’m feel there is something out there,’ she says. ‘But I’m too tired now to discuss it.’

Read more blogs by James Thellusson

Read the previous one – Man in the Middle 74: Pig in the Park

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.

 

LB Hounslow asked to rethink decision on access to Grove Park from A316

Image above: Staveley Rd, quieter since the introduction of the Low Traffic Neighbourhood

Chiswick’s Conservative councillors have asked LB Hounslow to think again about the decision announced at the end of August to further restrict access to Grove Park from the A316. They have ‘called in’ the decision of the Chief Officer for transport, Jefferson Nwokeoma, for reconsideration. The Overview and Scrutiny Committee will decide on Thursday evening (23 September) whether the decision should be sent to Cabinet to be reconsidered.

Campaigners who oppose this recent addition to the traffic restrictions are calling on those who oppose them to demonstrate their feelings at the meeting, which will be held at Hounslow House, beginning at 7.00pm. The Council has said it would make a number of seats available for public viewing of this meeting, but as Hounslow House is currently still closed to the public, these places must be booked in advance on a first come first served basis.

Reduced access to Grove Park by car from the A316

The Council announced at the end of August that access would be restricted to Staveley Rd and Burlington Lane from the A316. The entry to Burlington Lane from the A316 will be a ‘hard closure’ – ie. the road will be blocked, allowing no access from the A316. The entry to Staveley Rd from the A316 will be restricted between 08.00 am and 5.00 pm to permit holders and local buses only.

The decision has caused outrage because it means Chiswick residents living east of the A316 will now need to drive up to the A4 and round to Sutton Court Rd to get into Grove Park by car (Hartington Rd beside Chiswick Bridge is already restricted to permit holders only).

READ MORE: Anger as LB Hounslow increases traffic restrictions in south Chiswick

Image: Map showing the detour residents east of the A316 will have to make to get to Chiswick rail station by car

Councillors Gerald MacGregor, Patrick Barr, Michael Denniss, Gabriella Giles, Ranjit Gill, Sam Hearn and John Todd, as well as Cllr Kuldeep Tak, Conservative councillor for Feltham North, object to the decision not being regarded as a ‘key decision’. They want the matter to be considered by Cabinet members, not just a council officer.

Cllr Ron Mushiso is a member of the Overview and Scrutiny committee and will be on the sub-committee scrutinising the decision.

They say there has been inadequate consultation, calling it: ‘superficial, incomplete and totally inadequate … Many residents were simply unaware of the online surveys and engagement sessions’.

They also say alternative ideas and options have been rejected by officers ‘with no good reason being offered’.

Cllr John Todd told The Chiswick Calendar:

“People who live east of the A316 will have no access to the shops, the chemist, doctors … it’s really splitting the community in half”.

Image above: Chiswick School, bordered by Burlington Lane and Staveley Rd

In their submission to the committee, the councillors say:

‘The changes to the Staveley Road access restrictions has necessitated the creation of new ‘white-list’ for certain residents. These are entirely new ideas on which there has been no consultation with residents, local businesses, the local school most affected or councillors.

‘An already complicated scheme is being made more complex without seeking any input from those most affected’.

Sophie Hart, posting on social media, said she thought the council was just ignoring objections.

‘We wrote letters, answered surveys, but LBH thinks our ‘pain is a price worth paying’.

She is referring there to a remark by Assistant Director of Transport, Parking and Environmental Strategy, Jefferson Nwokeoma, who made the remark in a public meeting while trying to explain his strategy of stopping rat running through quiet residential streets by reducing traffic through the area overall and funelling the remaining traffic onto a few kew roads, primarily Sutton Court Road.

Image above: Google Streetview image of Burlington Lane

New restrictions aimed at correcting huge increase in traffic on Sutton Court Rd and Burlington Lane

The decision to further restrict traffic into Grove Park from the A316 was made by the Council to try and deal with the extra traffic on those roads, caused by the introduction of LTNs in Grove Park.

The south Chiswick Liveable Neighbourhood project was introduced in 2020, to try and reduce rat running through the area. Traffic measurement studies have shown that overall there is less traffic coming into Grove Park from the A316, most streets are quieter and residents on those streets are largely happy about the changes.

The studies also show that there’s been a huge displacement of traffic from Staveley Rd, where a barrier was introduced, onto Burlington Lane and Sutton Court Rd. Michael Robinson analysed the figures for The Chiswick Calendar:

‘The greatest effect has been on Burlington Lane west of Staveley Road. In the September 2019 and September 2020 surveys this had about 2,500 vehicles a day. In the June 2021 survey, this had increased by about 4,100 vehicles to 6,600 vehicles a day…

‘Displaced traffic now travelling via Burlington Lane to Sutton Court Road has produced an increase of about 2,600 daily vehicles on Sutton Court Road south of Staveley Road from about 7,900 to 10,600 vehicles per day. However traffic on Sutton Court Road north of Staveley Road shows a decrease of about 1,100 vehicles from about 11,700 to 10,600 vehicles per day.

‘This indicates an overall reduction of traffic from the A316 to the A4 through Grove Park, but a main route has changed from Staveley Road to Burlington Lane. The barrier at Staveley therefore hasn’t been sufficient to deter drivers (or SatNavs) from using the route via Burlington Lane instead. There is a difference of only 0.2 miles between the length of the two routes’.

READ ALSO: Traffic data shows effects of traffic restrictions on south Chiswick 

Image above: Google Streetview image of the A316

School Streets made permanent

Key to this decision is the position of Chiswick School, which is bordered by the A316 to the east, Burlington Lane to the west and Staveley Rd to the south. It was never the intention that there should be increased traffic around the school.

In recent years there have been several accidents involving students being hit by cars in the roads adjacent to the school.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar website

See also: Anger as LB Hounslow increases traffic restrictions in south Chiswick

See also: LB Hounslow to decide on premises licence for new Room2 hotel

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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.

LB Hounslow to decide on premises licence for new Room2 Hotel

A LB Hounslow licensing panel will soon decide whether to approve or reject an application for a premises license for the new Room2 Hotel on Windmill Road, Chiswick.

Chiswick Apartment Hotels Ltd have applied for the provision of films, late night refreshment and the supply of alcohol between the hours of 8.00am to 11.30pm seven days a week for hotel residents and bona-fide guests, as well as from the end of permitted hours on New Year’s Eve to the start of permitted hours on New Year’s Day.

If they get thier licence on the terms they want, members of the public will be able to enter the hotel as guests to eat in the restaurant or drink in the bar area, as well as to take away alcohol in sealed containers.

There are various proposed conditions attached to the application, including highlighting that the licensable activities provided at the premises shall be secondary to the main function of the building as a hotel.

Up to 90 people will be allowed on the ground floor of the hotel at any given time, not including members of staff. Members of the public will not be permitted on the ground floor of the premises for licensable activities outside the hours of 8.00am – 11.30pm to Monday to Sunday.

‘No noise generated by the hotel, or by its associated plant or equipment, shall emanate from the premises. Nor shall any vibration be transmitted through the structure of the premises which gives rise to a nuisance.

‘A direct telephone number for the hotel’s manager shall be publicly available at all times the premises is open. This telephone number is to be made available to residents and businesses in the vicinity’.

Residents concerned application will turn the hotel ‘into an off-licence’

Residents have objected to the application, claiming it will be a public nuisance. Objections are founded on the grounds that the general public will be allowed in the hotel, despite not being in-house guests – something which they say was omitted from the original planning application.

One resident, Martin Garnett lives directly opposite Room2 Hotel. He said it was clear in the original planning application there would be no public access and that the location of the hotel, in a ‘quiet resident street’, would be reflected in how the premises were to operate.

Objecting to the application, he said:

‘The application seeks public access seven days a week, from 8.00 – 23.30 every day. As I live directly opposite the hotel, my only respite will be from 23.330 – 8.00.

‘The proposed activities include off-licence sales, and would allow both take-away and delivered alcohol and food, in a quiet residential street, with sales available seven days a week, from 8.00 – 23.30 every day This is not what was originally presented as being the hotel’s purpose, both in itself and because of the public nuisance noise caused by delivery and collection.

‘In particular, noisy motorcycles couriers. Up to 90 people would be permitted on site, with possible exit at 23.30 at night. I already suffer the noise from members of the public leaving other nearby eating outlets late at night, with loud voices, door slamming, taxis, etc.’

Mr Garnett added:

‘The licencing application effectively turns the premises into an Off-Licence, in a quiet residential street, with sales available seven days a week, from 8.00 – 23.30 every day’ [sic].

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Refurbishment to start on Ravenscourt Park tea house

See also: Chiswick telecomms box painted gold ‘to celebrate Paralympics GB’

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Murder investigation launched in Ealing after death of 5-year old girl

A murder investigation has been launched in Ealing after the death of a five-year-old girl.

Police were called at 12.56pm on Tuesday, 14 September following concerns for the residents of an address on Leyborne Avenue, W13.

Officers and the London Ambulance Service attended. Despite their efforts, the girl was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her next of kin are have been informed. A post-mortem examination will be held in due course.

A 31-year-old woman was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder. She has been taken into custody.

The girl and woman were known to each other.

Homicide detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command are leading the investigation.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Man gets ten years prison for attack on Acton Green Common

See also: Car stolen in the middle of a house move

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

How will the vaccination rollout work for 12-15 year olds?

Children aged 12 to 15 in England are set to get their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, after ministers heeded advice from Britain’s Chief Medical Officers.

The move has left many speculating how the rollout will work and whether parents will have the right to veto their child getting vaccinated if they disagree.

The vaccine minister, Nadhim Zahawi, said vaccinations will be made available for 12-15 year olds from Monday 20 September.

Parental consent will be sought by each school and the minister said sufficient time will be given for parents to provide their consent. Children aged 12 to 15 will be provided with information in the form of a leaflet for their own use and to share and discuss with their parents prior to the date of the immunisation.

Mr Zahawi added: “Parental, guardian or carer consent will be sought by the school age immunisation providers prior to vaccination in line with other school vaccination programmes.

“In the rare event that there is a situation a parent does not consent but the child or the teenager wants to have the vaccine, then there is a process by which the school age vaccination clinician will bring initially the parent and the child to see whether they can reach consensus and if not, if the child is deemed to be competent, then the vaccination will take place.”

Children will only be offered the Pfizer jab despite both Pfizer and Moderna being approved by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for all people over the age of 12. It is thought the reason why is because the Government has ordered much more of the Pfizer jab.

Image above: Anti-vaxx protestors at Parliament Square

LB Hounslow welcomes child vaccines and warns anti-vaxxers against disruptions

LB Hounslow have welcomed the news that vaccination will be given to to 12-15 year olds and is supporting school faculty to help deliver the immunisations smoothly. Councillor Tom Bruce, the Cabinet Member for Education, Children and Youth Services also issued a warning against anti-vaxx protestors disrupting this phase of the vaccination programme.

Many vaccine sceptics consider the safety of children against vaccination high on their list of priorities. Protestors at anti-vaxx  events often carry banners and placards which have ‘Don’t Vax The Children’ or ‘Save The Children’ written on them.

Anti-vaxx protestors have protested outside major vaccination centres, sometimes blocking those who wish to be vaccinated from entering.

Cllr Bruce said:

“Our schools have been asked by the Government to be the locations for the delivery of the vaccinations to 12-15 year olds and we are supporting them as much as possible as they prepare to carry out this important task by seeking consent from parents. Headteachers, teachers and the wider school community continue to pull together to enable children across the borough to stay on track with their education safely in their classrooms this term, as we all learn to live alongside COVID-19.

“We recognise their incredible, on-going, efforts to help keep everyone safe. Along with flu vaccinations, it is essential that schools are able to deliver the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations to pupils in a safe and efficient way for the benefit of all concerned as well as to help protect the NHS from the anticipated winter demand. We want to be clear: any attempts from outside the school community to disrupt this phase of the COVID-19 vaccination programme will be treated very seriously.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: West London Welcome seeks more support as Afghan refugees start to arrive

See also: RMT union launches campaign against South Western Railway cuts

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Fisher’s Lane traffic restrictions set to be made permanent

Image above: Fisher’s Lane, taken from South Parade

An independent report is to be presented to Ealing Council later this month which recommends making the traffic restrictions on Fisher’s Lane permanent.

The Cabinet meeting at which the report will be considered is due to take place on Wednesday, 22 September. The meeting is also expected to confirm the scrapping of six Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in the borough.

The report argues that making the restrictions permanent benefits both cyclists and pedestrians in the area. It states that the closure has brought traffic levels down to those permitted by TfL for unsegregated cycle routes.

Cycle counts were done on Fisher’s Lane before and after the closure of the road to general motor traffic, showing an increase in cycling of 140% between November 2019 and September 2020. Further counts and surveys will be done this autumn.

The report claims that opposition to the scheme was mainly triggered by the initial disruption when it was launched and the effect of the closure of Turnham Green, which has now been removed. It concludes:

“It is considered that the benefits of the scheme for both cyclists and pedestrians outweigh the initial opposition.”

The head teacher of Belmont Primary School, Elaine Lacey, wrote a letter in support of keeping Fisher’s Lane closed to traffic, saying:

‘Belmont Primary School is very concerned about the possible reopening of Fisher’s Lane to traffic on the grounds of children’s safety. We are in complete support of the continual closure of Fisher’s Lane to traffic.

‘Fisher’s Lane playground is used every day by many of our pupils and pupils from other local schools. Prior to the closure of the road, there was always an issue with crossing because of the four way interseciton and because parked cars blocked vision for both cars and pedestrians.

‘Many of our children cross the road to use the common and Rocks Lane and there is no doubt that they have been safer as a result of the changes implemented’.

Chiswick School has also received letters from parents in support of the Fisher’s Lane changes, saying it makes thier children’s journey to school by bike much safer.

Image above: Fisher’s Lane, taken from the south

Majority of penalty notices issued to people coming from outside W4

Earlier this year a Freedom of Information request showed that when the restrictions were first introduced Penalty Charge Notices were being issued at the rate of 60 a day. It was calculated then that if this rate of issuance were maintained, even assuming people paid up quickly and paid the lower amount due, the camera monitoring the Fisher’s Lane junction would be bringing in revenue to the council substantially in excess of £1 million per annum.

Since then the rate at which penalty notices have been issued has dropped, suggesting that people have got used to the change and are no longer caught out by it. A further FOI request for the period from 19 – 25 June showed an average of 23 penalty notices being issued each day and the vast majority being issued to people whose journey originated W4, with the biggest single group coming from outside London.

Image above: Graph showing information on where drivers who received PCNs for driving through Fisher’s Lane 19 – 25 June came from

Council to hold fresh consultation

The Fisher’s Lane closure is a joint scheme with Hounslow Council and Hounslow’s approval is needed before a permanent traffic order can be obtained.

The council plan to hold a further consultation on the restriction which will last for 21 days. This is required in advance before issuing the permanent traffic order. Detailed design of the scheme will take place in November with implementation of the permanent scheme planned for December.

In a recent Facebook post, the OneChiswick group, who are opposed to most traffic restrictions in Chiswick, said:

‘We will continue to campaign for [Fisher’s Lane] to be reopened as it is an essential route for so many and it is used so little at present causing heavy and polluting traffic along South Parade.’

Meanwhile campaigners for the road to remain closed to vehicles have been posting images of South Parade virtually empty at morning and evening rush hour, suggesting that drivers may have decided to take other routes or other transport alternatives.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Anger as LB Hounslow increases traffic restrictions in south Chiswick

See also: Man gets ten years prison for attack on Acton Green Common

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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

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Artists At Home 17-19 September 2021

Image above: Painting by Jill Revie

After a year of virtual events during the pandemic, Artists at Home, West London’s favourite open studios event, is back stronger than ever and is thrilled to be opening to the public again from 17-19 September 2021.

There are 93 artists taking part in this year’s Artists at Home, eight of whom are new to this year’s event. Artists at Home normally opens in the third week of June but this year has chosen an autumn weekend to ensure greater safety and confidence for artists opening their homes and for those visiting.

“We have all been busy creating over the lockdowns and are more eager than ever to open up our studios to visitors; the array and quality of work on offer this year is simply incredible” says Chair of Artists At Home Kathryn Davey.

Images above: Paintings by Alice Sheridan; Hugh Bredin; Annabel Hill

Among the artists welcoming people into their homes and studios to show and sell their work are painters, graphic artists, potters, jewellers, photographers and artists who work with textiles and mixed media.

You can browse the artwork available on the Artists At Home website: www.artistsathome.co.uk.

Find art by artist / studio. Quite often several artists show their work together, so you might find a painter with a ceramicist and a jeweller in the same space.

Then look at the map so you can plan your route and see several studios over the weekend of 17 – 19 September. Artists are opening their homes and studios in Chiswick, Acton, Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon.

Images above: Paintings by Christine Berrington; Ben Johnson; Jasna Bell

Artists at Home was the first event of its kind in London – founded by artists Julian Trevelyan and Mary Fedden in 1973. Last year we were forced to show our work online only for the first time in our history. This year we are excited to welcome you into our homes and studios in person once more.

READ MORE: How Artists At Home got started

Images above: Pot by Saskia Daniel; Glass picture by Francesca Boyd; Silver jewellery by Juliette Strong

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Butterflies and Flowers – Pop-up painting sessions all over Chiswick

See also: Vintage fashion fair returns to Olympia

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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.

Chiswick Cheese Market, Sunday 19 September 2021

Guest blog by Donna Freed

Our 19 September Cheese Market is set to be the best yet!

We are hosting our first Cheesewick event to coincide with the next Cheese Market on 19 September, an exploration of Irish cheese with the Queen of Irish Cheese, Marianne Kelly of Heritage Cheese (who will be selling their cheeses as usual).

The mission of Heritage Cheese is to unearth forgotten traditional recipes and discover today’s innovative cheesemakers throughout the Brittish Isles and Ireland. Marianne will introduce you to the history of her native Ireland’s most interesting new and historic cheeses. The unique landscape and weather of Ireland has shaped its agricultural practices and has given rise to some extraordinary cheeses. The legendary rain is one of the driving factors but is always counterbalanced by a bit of sunshine.

The generous tasting will be enhanced by exceptional Italian wines from Villa Sandi (The Crown 12.00pm). Get tickets on Eventbrite here.

Mont d’Or is coming! Mont d’Or is coming! The French Comtè are bringing this alpine wonder that is only available this time of year after the cows have spent the summer in the high alpine pastures. The cheese is wrapped in a band of spruce for added flavour – dig in!

New to the market this month is Chloe’s Cheese Club. Chloe will be bringing samples of the cheeses that she provides in her monthly subscription. ‘My mission,’ says Chloe, ‘is to simply provide you with a shed load of cheese, because I believe it to be the greatest healer and the ultimate treat we all deserve.’ Well, said!

Image above: The Frenche Comte cheese stall

Rooms and Roots are also market newcomers and will be selling all manner of vintage kitchenalia including cheese boards and lovely linens. Francesca sells antique, vintage and decorative pieces for the home and garden.

Make way for Cheese on the Wey! We love local stories and John of Farnham-based Cheese on the Wey is all about local. He has brought his experience of sustainable construction to his passion for cheese making. He has reduced the water, materials and energy in the cheese making process. All his cheeses are made from unpasteurised milk from the close by Pierrepont Farm.

Big Wheel Cheese just got even bigger! Fay has broadened her selection of hand-made British cheeses. Look out for Mayfield and Smoked Mayfield, Baron Bigod, Oxford Isis and Flower Marie to name a few of the goodies she’ll be offering along side the ever popular and delicious Pevensey Blue.

Returning to the market are Marlow Cheese,  makers of Cheesewick – the truffled brie made with truffles from Thee Olive Tree (who also bring the La Latteria cheeses) along with our other regular traders.

Organic farmers Feltham Farms, winners of the Virtual Cheese Awards 2021 – both Best British Cheese and Best Specialty Cheese, Roi The Cheesemonger, with produce from Brindisa and the Trethowan Brothers cheeses. Everything But The Cheese, with their delicious and inventive accoutrements; La Latteria will also have fresh pasta on the stall this month. Get your fill of cheese crackers from Cradocs made in Powys, Wales.

Image above: Chiswick’s Cheese Market

Max and his merry band of cheesemongers return with Drunk Cheese and a market must is the red cow parmesan from Emilia Ltd.

Ealing Relish Company – who have teamed up with Honest Burger – will be offering the featured Smoky Tomato Relish among others.

Godminster ill be introducing a new cheese this market, Daredevil Chilli Cheddar!

Emma the Cheese explorer will be on hand with Blackwoods Cheese.

Palace Culture will have their nut-based, vegan cheeses.

Look out for The Olive Bar, cheese boards from JG Oak Boards, Dispensamora who is adding Italian honey to his stall this month and champions of British produce No2 Pound Street.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick’s local authors at Chiswick Book Festival 2021

See also: Everyone Is Still Alive – first novel by Cathy Rentzenbrink

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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.

The man who discovered Sean Connery – Chiswick film director Alvin Rakoff

Image above: Torin Douglas talking to Alvin Rakoff in the Andrew Lloyd Webber theatre at ArtsEd; photograph Roger Green

The Chiswick Book Festival 2021 celebrated the work of Alvin Rakoff, a long-term resident of Chiswick who has had a long and distinguished career in film and television.

Alvin, 94, had just brought out his autobiography I’m Just The Guy Who Says Action! and Chiswick Book Festival Director Torin Douglas opened the evening with a reference to the recent book launch.

“It’s not everyone who has George Clooney ask the first question at their book launch”.

Alvin Rakoff is Canadian and has worked with many of the best actors in the business in a career spanning several decades. How did he wind up in Chiswick?

He’d come over from Canada in the 1950s, when British TV was just finding its feet and met Richard Briers, (The Good Life). Their wives were both actors and were working together on shows such as Dr Who. Richard told Alvin he’d found a great house in Bedford Park and as luck would have it, the next day the details for a house in Bedford Park dropped on the mat.

Alvin and his late wife Jacqueline Hill restored the house in The Orchard to its former glory. It had been ‘modernised’ by a DIY enthusiast who had lowered all the ceilings to preserve heat. The house has an artistic history; George Bernard Shaw had read The Devil’s Disciple there to friends in the living room.

Working with Laurence Olivier in Voyage Round My Father

Alvin is perhaps best known for directing A Voyage Round My Father, John Mortimer’s story about his father, which he adapted for television in 1982, produced and directed by Alvin. Laurence Olivier played the father and Alan Bates the son; Elizabeth Sellers the mother and Jane Asher, Elizabeth.

“It was one of the great joys of my life working with Laurence Olivier” he told the audience in the Andrew Lloyd Webber theatre at ArtsEd.

“He was terrifying. He didn’t suffer fools gladly. Terrifying but an inspiration to work with”.

He recounted how on one occasion he had to go and persuade the great actor to come out of his trailer. After three or four times a runner had been set to get him and failed, Alvin went to see what was the problem and found him trembling and saying he couldn’t go on. He was ill for the last 22 years of his life and died of kidney failure in 1989, aged 82. At this stage he had moments when he couldn’t remember his lines or his moves. They re-did some of the lines in post production and he delivered them with such perfect timing that no one would have known.

Richard Briars’ wife Ann Davies played one of the ATS girls, one of four of five neighbours who he inveigled into the film. Even then Chiswick was full of luvvies, as he told the audience at ArtsEd on Friday, his secret trademark was to people his films with actors who lived in his street.

He recalled how the film had come about almost by accident. He had started filming when the trade union ACTT told everyone to down tools because it was becoming apparent that the American backer didn’t have the money. “It was all bluff”.

Some seven years later he was working at Thames TV when the head of drama came in and asked if there were any projects he fancied doing. A film crew which was supposed to be flying to Saigon had become available at short notice when the TV company had decided it was too dangerous for them to go there.

Alvin collaborated with John Mortimer on another famous production – Paradise Postponed, which he remembers as a physical feat, recording as they did for five, sometimes six days a week over a ten month period.

In the early days of television, directors were gods. You had absolute power, he explained, as everything was live and every decision was yours, from where the actors stood to the camera positions to the wardrobe decisions. He rather regretted the advent of videotape, when the “suits” took over and scenes could be rerecorded.

“I’m not very good at taking orders”.

Image above: Alvin Rakoff in the Andrew Lloyd Webber theatre at ArtsEd; photograph Roger Green

Giving Sean Connery his big break

When he arrived from Canada he was told the BBC wouldn’t consider employing a Canadian, but found a job within four days of his arrival. Going from script to script eventually they offered him a full time job. He directed the opening episode of Z Cars, a police soap which was to run from January 1962 until September 1978.

He made a risky decision in offering a lead role to a young unknown, Sean Connery, to whom he’d previously only given walk on parts.

The production was Requiem for a Heavyweight, a play by Rod Sterling produced on live TV in the Playhouse series in 1956. The lead role was supposed to be played by American actor Jack Pallance, who’d played it before. He pulled out at the last minute, having got a better offer, leaving Alvin casting around for a replacement, ringing anyone who he could think of to ask them for suggestions.

His wife suggested Sean Connery. “Are you mad?” was his reaction. “He mumbles”. “Yes” said his wife “but women will love him”. Taking soundings from his secretaries he found he got the same reaction, so decided on taking the risk.

Sean was a body builder and the role was that of a heavy weight boxer, who takes a bad beating from a young up and coming fighter and shouldn’t fight again after suffering brain damage.

“He had the body of a boxer” said Alvin. “He had great presence but I was not convinced. I had sleepless nights about it. I was terrified this kid would screw things up. What if he panicked? It was a two hour live show”.

His superiors thought he was wrong to give the role to someone so inexperienced, but when it came to it, Sean Connery played the role superbly.

It opened the door for him to get the James Bond role.

“I had a call from Harry Saltzman (who co-produced the first nine of the James Bond film series with Albert Broccoli). They were considering Patrick McGoohan (The Prisoner), Roger Moore and Sean Connery. They picked Connery, who starred in the first James Bond, Dr No, in 1963. Roger Moore didn’t get his chance until 1972.

Working with Peter Sellers

Another of Alvin’s famous leading men was Peter Sellers, who played lonely, desperate businessman Benjamin Hoffman in the film Hoffman in 1970. He blackmails an attractive young woman (Sinead Cusack) into spending a week with him in his flat in London.

He and Sellers got off to rocky start, Alvin told the audience, as writer Ernest Gebler had convinced him Alvin wasn’t the right director for the piece. But Alvin was contracted, so they were stuck with each other. They were not at ease with each other as filming started, but there grew a mutual respect and after Alvin told him it was better for him not to cry in one scene, but to struggle with the effort not to cry instead, Sellers told him it was the best piece of direction he’d ever received.

Sellers was a hifi enthusiast and kitted out Alvin’s house in Bedford Park with the most up to the minute sound system, bits of which still remain in working order, he said.

Iterestingly Sellers didn’t like his performance in the film, deciding it was too revealing of him. He is most famous for his comedy roles, in which he could hide behind a character.

Gving Alan Rickman and Simon Russell Beale their first breaks

Alan Rickman was another actor to whom Alvin gave his first break.

“He came into my office at the BBC. I knew straight away he was right, (for the part of Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet) though I’d learned never to say yes or no straight away. I always slept on it”.

Likewise he gave Simon Russell Beale his first break in A Dance to the Music of Time for Channel 4.

“It was a massive undertaking” he asid. “Twelve books in the series condensed to four episodes”.

Others in the stellar cast were Alan Bennett, Edward Fox, Sir John Gielgud and Miranda Richardson.

Alvin Rakoff not only published his autobiography at the age of 94 but held the audience spellbound with his story telling and reminiscences.

His book I’m Just The Guy Who Says Action! is available from Waterstones in Chiswick.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick local authors at Chiswick Book Festival 2021

See also: Upstaged by a Muppet

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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.

Vintage Fashion Fair returns to Olympia

Image above: Hats at the Vintage Fashion Fair

The Vintage Fashion Fair at the Olympia Hilton Hotel in Kensington High Street reopens the doors to Visitors on Sunday 19 September with about sixty exhibitors.

The fair used to take place in Hammersmith Town Hall before it was redeveloped and Covid struck and has become something of a Mecca for fashion designers, costumiers, models, trend-spotters, vintage fans and fashion students.

Images above: Bits and bobs – trimmings at the Vintage Fashion Fair

Organiser of the popular fair Alberto told The Chiswick Calendar the September fair is going to be slightly different because it is not just going to accommodate many of the regular vintage fashion dealers but also fifteen specialist dealers offering for sale antique textiles, carpets and tribal art.

“The fair’s relaxed and informal atmosphere belies high standards” he told us.

“Visited by many at the forefront of fashion, the Vintage Fashion Fair has something for everyone whether the budget is big or small”.

In the vintage fashion section, visitors will be able to find handbags, lace, embroidery, gowns, chiffons, beaded dresses, necklaces, trimmings, costume jewellery, compacts, combs, fans, more competitively priced than in trendy shops and at auctions.

In the antique textiles section Visitor will be able to find genuine antique textiles, costumes and carpets pre-1930. For tribal art the dateline is more flexible, he said.

Images above: Antique textiles at the Vintage Fashion Fair

Some of the dealers

Clive Rogers – www.orient-rug.com

Aaron Nejad from Church Street – www.aaronnejad.com

Fuji Kimonos – www.fujikimono.co.uk

Rebecca from Stroud – www.strangenessandcharmvintage.co.uk

When and where

The Vintage Fashion and Antique Textiles Fair

Sunday 19 September 2021

Hilton Olympia Hotel
380 Kensington High Street
London W14 8NL

Trading hours: 10.00 am – 5.00 pm

Images above: Vintage fashion at the Vintage Fashion Fair

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Refurbishment to start on Ravenscourt Park tea house

See also: Upstaged by a Muppet

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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.

Upstaged by a Muppet

Images aboave: Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange; Kermit of The Muppets

Why no blue plaque for Anthony Burgess?

By Torin Douglas

It was a bit of a week for Anna Eavis, curatorial director at English Heritage.

She organises the London Blue Plaques scheme and some weeks ago she accepted my invitation to brave the lions’ den and speak at the Chiswick Book Festival on the decision not to award a plaque to Anthony Burgess. Best known for his dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange, the author lived for five years in a house at 24 Glebe Street in Chiswick.

The case in favour of Burgess was to be put by John Walsh, former Sunday Times literary editor and director of the Cheltenham Literary Festival. When the application was turned down in 2015, Walsh wrote a blistering article in the Independent headed “If Anthony Burgess doesn’t merit a blue plaque, then few do.”

It promised to be an enthralling discussion, further enlivened by the presence of Rose Sandy, author, publishing director and founder of the HarperCollins Author Academy, which supports writers from under-represented ethnic backgrounds – under-represented, not least, in the blue plaques that have been awarded over the past 150 years.

Images above: Jim Henson with puppets; Miss Piggy

A week ago, further spice was added to the debate. On Tuesday morning, the Festival organisers announced that Chiswick’s bid for a Burgess plaque had been turned down for a second time. At the same time, by total coincidence, Anna Eavis was set to go on the Radio 4 Today programme to talk about a new plaque that was to be unveiled on the Hampstead home of Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets!

As she explained later in our debate, Anna never got to speak on the Today programme. She was gazumped, by a puppet. Kermit the Frog stole her airtime, talking eloquently about Jim Henson and his achievements and legacy. At the end of the interview, the presenter Simon Jack said it had been one of his career highlights – and Nick Robinson sounded suitably jealous. We didn’t hear from Anna at all.

But the juxtaposition set up some intriguing cross-currents for our discussion:
Burgess vs Henson. A Clockwork Orange vs The Muppet Show. Chiswick vs Hampstead.

Image above: L to R Torin Douglas, Rose Sandy, John Walsh, Anna Eavis; photograph Roger Green

Chairing the panel session, I set out the context – how I’d felt that Chiswick’s literary heritage had been under-recognised and so set up the Chiswick Timeline of Writers & Books, spearheaded by a Writers Trail highlighting 21 distinguished writers who between them had chalked up one Booker Prize, two Nobel Prizes for Literature, three Oscars, four plaques and a Poet Laureateship.

When the Observer declared that “Chiswick may be the UK’s most literary location”, I’d felt that my work had been done. And yet… if literary worth were to be measured in blue plaques, Chiswick seemed hard done by compared with Hampstead, with its 38. Why HAD Burgess been turned down again?

John Walsh took up the banner, in an impassioned speech setting out Burgess’s prolific literary achievements – recognised with awards in other countries but not his own, barring a cheap plastic trophy given him by Margaret Thatcher at the British Press Awards. He quoted from a letter by Anna Eavis stating that “the high public profile of Stanley Kubrick’s film of A Clockwork Orange and the productivity of Burgess’s time in Chiswick” were outweighed by point that “much of his career was spent outside London” and that in the panel’s view “at present, the durability and extent of his overall literary impact is not sufficiently clear”.

Supporting Walsh in the audience were Andrew Biswell, director of the International Anthony Burgess Institute, and the current owners of 24 Glebe Street, who had painted the front door orange in tribute to his best-known work.

If Anna Eavis were daunted, she didn’t show it. With charm and a smile, she explained the background and how the scheme works. How English Heritage had inherited responsibility for the blue plaques from the Greater London Council and the London County Council; how just 12 plaques are awarded each year representing all fields, not just literature; how they are discussed and chosen by a panel, advised by experts, from nominations submitted by the public; and how they actively seek more nominations, and want particularly to recognise more women and those from ethnic minorities.

On the specific case of Burgess, she said there had been a lengthy discussion among the panel, the decision had been a narrow one and another panel might have made a different decision. But now that he had been considered twice, no further application could be made for another ten years.

Stretching the impartiality of my role as chairman, I asked why – in view of the statement that much of Burgess’s career was spent outside London – a plaque had been placed on Gerald Durrell’s home in Dulwich where he lived only till the age of three? Anna conceded that the panel’s decisions were not all entirely consistent but that the impact of Durrell as a naturalist and writer – and indeed of Jim Henson, as a puppeteer who had harnessed the enormous potential of television for entertainment and education – made them entirely suitable for recognition. When I asked why Hampstead needed yet another blue plaque, she said this was not a factor taken into consideration.

Rose Sandy said she’d been interested in blue plaques when she saw them round London, but had not thought much about them till being invited to take part in the discussion – and she would now invite her Academy students to explore whether there are names they might like to submit to English Heritage for recognition.

When the debate was opened to the floor, there was immediate support for the rejection of Anthony Burgess by the playwright John Caine, a Mancunian who lives in Chiswick. Despite coming from the place of Burgess’s birth, he thought the author’s objectionable moral behaviour and sentiments expressed in his novels made him unsuitable for recognition, particularly in the present climate. Others agreed.

Supporting Burgess, Andrew Biswell pointed to his growing international stature and popularity, a point backed by other audience members, while an art college lecturer said Burgess was highly regarded by students.

Anna Eavis was asked how many women were on the blue plaques panel and how many were from ethnic minorities. She said that when she started in her role in 2014, the panel was all white and overwhelmingly male. Now there are several women on it and two non-white members – and there are also vacancies which are publicly advertised.

So if anyone would like to change the balance of the blue plaques, please apply! Read more on the English Heritage website: english-heritage.org.uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Anthony Burgess house in blue plaque bid

See also: Blue plaque for Chiswick writer Anthony Burgess rejected

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