Brentford 0 Manchester City 1

What a memorable evening at the Community Stadium, with Brentford punching above their weight despite having to field a makeshift side against the Premier League champions. No wonder head coach Thomas Frank expressed his pride in what he described as ‘a masterclass in defending’, restricting the visitors to just three shots on target while breakaways full of promise by the Bees constantly threatened to snatch a point.

Would it be deserved had they done so? It is impossible to disregard City’s domination in terms of possession – 76 per cent – and the wonderful fluidity of much of their football. But the Bees were missing six players who regularly start for the first team yet conceded only once to a star-studded team that earlier in the season thrashed Leeds United 7-0 and on Boxing Day put five past the Leicester City keeper.

Call this a draw, except of course it wasn’t. A perfectly directed Kevin De Bruyne cross that was met by Phil Foden with the sweetest of first-touch volleys made sure of that after just sixteen minutes.

Images above: Final fine adjustments for City (left), Eyes on the ball – Ivan Toney closes on the City defence (right)

Only a minute before, the Bees had so-closely gone a goal up, full-back Joãl Cancelo nodding the ball clear of the line after keeper Moraes Ederson could only push away a diverted Yoane Wissa cross. This after Mathias Jensen had seen Ederson straying from his line and smacked a ball from a little inside the City half that sadly drifted off-target.

If City were bemused by the skill and resilience of their opposition, they didn’t let in show. While admiring Brentford’s tenacity, many in the stands harboured nagging suspicions that City, who could at any time call the ever goal-hungry Raheem Sterling from the bench, had plenty left up their sky-blue sleeves.

As it was, the pattern of the game did not change: City in command, Brentford breaking free like a frisky terrier whenever the opportunity arose. The visitors did manage to get the ball into the net; twice more, in fact, the first patently offside, the second judged so by the VAR. Brentford continued to hunt the elusive equaliser, but even when Sergi Canós – a natural terrier himself – was substituted for Wissa, they couldn’t penetrate a defence as competent as their own.

As legs began to tire on both sides, a cluster of fouls drew the attention of referee David Coote. This drew the attention, in turn, of the home fans, who thought little of Mr Coote and made this clear with vocal disappointment expressed with increasing volume. The referee, whose reluctance to issue any yellow cards whatsoever despite pleas from both sides, was unmoved.

Images above: Clash of two tireless personalities: Brentford’s Thompson v City’s Fernandinho hit the deck (left), Frank v Pepe: both managers vociferous from the sidelines (right)

And so, with the technical area coaching of both Frank and Pep Guardiola stretching their own vocal cords, this highly-competitive match – the last of the year – drew to a close. The visitors went home with the spoils, the points that gave them an eight-point cushion at the top of the League, and for Brentford a performance of enormous character that will do their reputation no harm at all.

Special plaudits go to Jensen, in the absence of the suspended Christian Nørgaard for once almost running the midfield, Dominic Thompson, erasing from his mind the memory of a dismal match at Brighton until limping off to be replaced by Saman Ghoddos, and Ivan Toney, once again in the thick of it all, including the heart of the defence when required.

Earlier on, Thomas Frank had said, ‘I fully believe we can get something out of the game’ and ‘I massively believe our fans will be bang on it – they need to be so fantastic to encourage us through the game because it is football and anything can happen.’ He also said, I reminded my mate Charlie, that he had never met Guardiola – ‘It’s going to be a very good experience to meet him and face his team.’

‘Well, two out of three ain’t bad,’ said Charlie.

Brentford: Fernández; Pinnock, Jansson, Sorenson; Roerslev, Baptiste, Jensen, Onyeka (substitute Bidstrup), Thompson (sub Ghoddos); Wissa (sub Canós), Toney.

Manchester City: Ederson; Cancelo, Rúben Dias, Laporte, Aké; De Bruyne, Fernandinho. Bernardo Silva; Gabriel Jesus, Grealish, Foden.

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

Photographs Liz Vercoe.

John D Wood & Co report an outstanding year for Chiswick’s property market

Guest blog by Julian Masson

As we take down the Christmas tree and stash away the decorations, I think it’s safe to say we all hope that 2022 will be a slightly more normal and familiar year.

Interestingly, the property market in Chiswick and West London surprised us all and proved to be far more resilient than we had initially anticipated. The John D Wood & Co. Chiswick office recorded an exceptional increase in property transactions, almost doubling the number of sales and end of year result from 2020.

The house market got off to a flying start in 2021 with the initial Stamp Duty Holiday announcement followed by a further Stamp Duty Holiday extension and a mortgage guarantee scheme. Covid-19 created changes in lifestyle, changes in people’s commute and perhaps most importantly to the property market, changes in people’s needs and requirements.

The desire for more space for working from home and different uses of a home had a massive impact on the extraordinary bounce back from previous years. With a breadth of offices positioned across central London, our Chiswick office witnessed a surge in purchasers relocating from the likes of Notting Hill, Fulham, Kensington, Chelsea etc. which provided us with the buyers for our vendors selling in Chiswick.

We also experienced a dramatic increase in buyers and sellers moving within Chiswick, with many wanting to upsize whilst other long-term residents of the area needed to downsize.

The buying frenzy died down towards the end of the summer and beginning of the autumn as many sellers who would have typically sold in the autumn decided to make the most of the Stamp Duty Holiday earlier in the year. With the days drawing in and the return of the cold weather, a lot of our sellers decided to put their moves on hold until the New Year and enjoy a much-needed extended Christmas break.

Due to a lack of new properties launching to the market, the properties we did launch pre-Christmas experienced a phenomenal result, four of which we agreed within a matter of days at the asking price or above.

The number of purchasers registering with us in the autumn has been incredible, many of whom are desperately searching for family homes across different price ranges. Furthermore, the properties we have launched between Christmas and New Year ranging from £1,150,000-£2,450,000 have had a very positive response, with many people lining up early viewings within the first day of our return to the office in January.

I have no doubt that this year will be another unusual year for the property market and the demand for property in Chiswick and West London will continue to increase.

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

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

See also: Brentford FC match reports by Bill Hagerty

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Richard Osman talks about addiction and success on Desert Island Discs

Image above: Richard Osman; photo credit BBC

One of the best selling books this Christmas was The Man Who Died Twice, a sequel to The Thursday Murder Club, by Chiswick based author Richard Osman. At time of writing both books are in Amazon’s top ten.

The first, about a group of friends living in a retirement village in rural England who pool their considerable expertise to solve a murder, became the third best-selling hardback novel of all time when it was published in 2020 and was the Christmas number one that year.

Richard Osman talked to Lauren Laverne for the Boxing Day edition of Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4; he spoke about his gratitude for the phenomenal success he’s achieved.

The host of Pointless is one of the most recognisable faces on television, but did not become a household name until he was in his forties. He had spent the previous 20 years developing and producing TV shows as a television executive before he tried out on camera, including some of the most well known: Total Wipeout, Deal or No Deal and Eight out of Ten Cats.

He told Lauren Laverne they had always played board games at home. Only later did he realise the some of the rules were made up by his grandfather to suit himself.

Richard has enjoyed creating games since he was a boy and has always been fascinated by the process, so much so that the ‘luxury’ he chose to take to his desert island, according to the convention of the programme, was a pad of paper, a pen and dice so he could continue to make up games.

“Because I don’t see very well I was never a child who engaged with the world much. I was quite happy entertaining myself. I still do.”

He has an eye condition which he said made everything look fuzzy:

“It’s like being in fog the whole time… The haze in the distance which you see as a building, I see as a beautiful abstract painting.”

Putting the most positive spin on the condition, he said when he presented Pointless he was not able to read autocue, so he made up his script as he went along, which meant he stayed sharp and didn’t fall into the trap of reusing the same tired phrases.

“I have been able to use it to my advantage but I would love to be able to see properly.”

He was very lucky to get into a job he was born to do. He has always loved television and watched a lot of it, so he found he instinctively knew how to put together shows. He chose the Morcambe and Wise theme Bring me Sunshine as his first piece of music because it captured that sense of shared culture created by television, that we still have in our collective folk memory from the 1960s and ’70s.

“I love television. I love its presence in the corner of every living room in Britain and the sense of belonging that television uniquely can bring.”

His other great love, he said, was sport, and television helped him because he was able to see the action in slow motion replays which he missed watching live.

Image above: Lauren Laverne, Desert Island Discs

Struggle with food addiction

Lauren Laverne asked him about the traumatic event in his childhood which was to have a huge impact on him emotionally. Richard’s father left when he was nine, leaving his mother Brenda to look after him and his older brother Matt. It was all very English, he said, with never a cross word spoken until one night he just announced he was leaving.

“It was sudden and unexpected. He said he was in love with someone else. It was never explained to me.”

His father moved out instantly, which came as a complete shock and he lost touch with him, reconnecting only when he was in his twenties. Richard spoke about the impact on him, saying he shut a part of himself down.

He also opened up about the addiction to food he has had since that time. As an adult he sought help because he realised it was a problem. Despite having been to Cambridge University and established a successful career in television and having two children he adored, he felt directionless:

“If you have addictive behaviours you know something’s up.”

In the way an alcoholic cannot leave bottles of spirits in the house untouched, so he is with food such as chocolate and crisps.

“There hasn’t been a day in my life since I was nine when I haven’t thought about problems with food” he said.

Dealing with a food addiction is in some ways harder even than dealing with drugs or alcohol, he said, because you can’t turn your back on food altogether, you have to eat to live, but his addiction is now “more under control than not”.

Images above: Book covers for The Thursday Murder Club and The Man Who Died Twice

Best thing about success – being able to treat my mother

He told Lauren Laverne he was “beyond grateful” to his mother for the way she brought him and his brother up. They did not have much money but she would do things like booking a 48 hour coach trip to Italy and camping.

When his brother had success with his band Suede and they were on Top of the Pops, the young Richard Osman thought:

“There are opportunities out there. We can do it.

“My favourite thing about my success is being able to treat her. I will never be able to pay her back but just being able to give her these little things is nice.”

The ‘little things” include her house, which he said she loved, in a retirement village near where he grew up in Sussex. This was the inspiration for The Thursday Murder Club. He reads a lot of crime fiction and when he visited her there the idea popped into his head that it would be the perfect setting for a murder mystery.

He also realised that she was surrounded by people “with incredible skills who have done extraordinary things” now overlooked because of their age, and the producer in him realised he was on to a good idea.

His mother “panicked” that he would reveal her friends’ identities and secrets. She read it once with a legal eye and then again in a more leisurely way for enjoyment.

Steven Spielberg has snapped up the rights to produce a film version.

Richard said he is now at a point in his life when he is happy and grateful. He is living with “the woman I am going to be with for the rest of my life”, Ingrid and life is good.

You can listen to Richard Osman’s Desert Island Discs here on BBC Sounds.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

See also: Books of the month by Annakarin Klerfalk

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Andrea’s film review – Licorice Pizza

Licorice Pizza ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

The story of Alana Kane and Gary Valentine growing up, running around and going through the treacherous navigation of first love in the San Fernando Valley, 1973. On at Chiswick Cinema now.

With nine films under his belt in the last 25 years – Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Phantom Thread, just to mention three of my favourite – Paul Thomas Anderson is considered by many critics as one of the greatest filmmakers of his generation and Licorice Pizza does very little to alter that belief, even if the story this time might feel lighter.

His so-called trademarks are all here: the dynamic camerawork, the multi-layered audio/visual imagery and of course his use of music, so key in this film in particular, in evoking the vibes of the ‘70s.

Though, if I could dare criticising something about the film, I would say that there was probably a little bit too much music this time: there were moments, especially during the first half, when I was really craving for some silences. I found the over-present music was at times slightly intrusive and I thought that occasionally it was even joining scenes together which had completely different moods.

But aside from this, overall Licorice Pizza (the title itself refers to the slang term for a vinyl record) is possibly one of the most accessible films by the director.
Compared with some of his previous films like There Will Be Blood or The Master, this is a deliberately softer coming of age story, a sweet love/friendship relationship between a young woman searching for a way into adulthood and a know-it-all, at times smart-ass, teenager who acts as though he’s already arrived. His character is apparently based on Gary Goetzman, child star-turned-producer in early 1970s.

While the film’s structure might feel loose at times, meandering and seemingly digressive (and yes, as ever, they could have shaved off 20 minutes somewhere), it’s the interplay between these two characters that gives the heart and soul to the film: every single scene with them is a joy to watch: funny, lovable, heart-breaking and then hilarious again.

Credits of course to the two wonderful newcomers, Alana Haim, who manages to bring both the spontaneity of a young girl as well as the disillusionment of a well-experienced adult, and Cooper Hoffman son of late Phillip Seymour-Hoffman, a frequent collaborator of the director and the living proof that clearly acting talent runs in the family.

If you search for another weighty and punchy Paul Thomas Anderson film, you may be disappointed, but what you’ll get instead is some the evocative ‘70s nostalgia, utterly charming actors and great cameos, including Sean Penn and a hilarious scene-stealing Bradley Cooper. If all that doesn’t leave you with a smile on your face, I don’t know what does?

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.

Licorice Pizza is on in cinemas right now, including Chiswick Cinema

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: December Books by Anna Klerfalk

See also: Aladdin at the Lyric, Hammersmith – Review

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Brighton & Hove Albion 2, Brentford 0

Image above: Courtesy of Brentford FC

With trains as rare as stray reindeer, it was no surprise to see many empty seats at the Amex Community Stadium as Brentford set out to give themselves a Christmas present of three points. But fans of both sides who managed the journey on Boxing Day evening – shamefully an 8 o’clock kick-off – contributed to a special atmosphere that the television coverage couldn’t transmit.

Sadly, atmosphere was the only reward for the noble pilgrims from West London. A Brentford squad ravaged by covid and injury failed to get to grips with a home side anxious to record a victory after eleven games without one.

The Bees buzzed well enough in the early stages, despite a line-up born of necessity by Thomas Frank. As Brighton got into their stride, however, Dominic Thompson, a third choice full-back, and a defence lacking Kristoffer Ajer and Zanka began to look stretched as a post-Christmas waistband, while in midfield Mathias Jensen and even Christian Nørgaard failed to muster a creative thought between them.

Just after the half-hour a confident Brighton won the half and, as it turned out, the match, with the first of two splendid goals. Leandro Trossard lured Alvaro Fernández towards him as he advanced on goal before chipping it neatly over the keeper’s head and into the net.

Eight more minutes and and unmarked Neal Maupay, not long since a Bees favourite, ran on to a square pass from Jakub Moder and as a fast-wakening defence bore down on him unleashed a grand shot that swerved a little away from Fernández into the top corner.

The centre-forward was subdued as he was smothered by team-mates, but later was to explain that he didn’t want to celebrate extravagantly in front of the visiting fans. ‘They were very good to me and it’s a great club,’ he told TV. What a gent he is.

Revitalised by Frank’s substitutes, Brentford had the best of a second half in which they quite likely could have collected a point but for a display of acrobatics by home goalkeeper Robert Sánchez and a last-gasp headed clearance from under the crossbar by Marc Cucureller.

Next up for Brentford are League leaders Manchester City, their visitors on Wednesday this week.

That will be a tough one, ’I said to my mate Charlie.

‘Come back Maupay!’ said Charlie.

Brighton: Sánchez; Lamptey, Webster, Burn, Cucurella; Lallana, (sub Groß); Mwepu, Mac Allister; (sub Alzate), Moder; Trossard (sub Welbeck), Maupay.

Brentford: Fernández; Pinnock, Jansson, Canós; Sorenson, Baptiste, Nørgaard, Jensen (substitute Onyeka), Thompson (sub Ghoddos); Mbeumo (sub Wissa), Toney.

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

 

Jeremy Vine films package thief

Sadiq Khan pledges review of Kew Bridge cycling infrastructure

A review of cycling infrastructure at Kew Bridge is to be carried out by London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, according to The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

At one of the last Questions to the Mayor sessions of 2021, Sadiq Khan said the review would consider options to improve conditions for people cycling across the bridge, after concerns were raised about their safety following changes earlier in the year.

In April 2021 Transport for London decided to remove the northbound shared cycle lane, and there is a lack of connection between Cycleway 9 in Brentford and new segregated cycle lanes on Kew Road.

Andree Freize, speaking for the Green Party, described the decision to remove cycling provision along the bridge as “short sighted” and said it “reduces safety and does nothing to provide the joined-up cycle network needed to link with the cycle lane on Kew Road (A307) and beyond to Cycleway C9 where it will start on Wellesley Road, Brentford.”

Nicholas Rogers, who was elected to the South West London Assembly seat in 2021 for the Conservatives, questioned the Mayor on what work is being done to improve cycling infrastructure on Kew Bridge. He asked The Mayor to outline how he is are working with local authorities to improve the bridge.

Image above: Kew Bridge junction

Finding an optimum solution for all bridge users “challenging” says Mayor

Responding to Assembly Member Nicholas Rogers’ question, Sadiq Khan said:

‘Transport for London (TfL) completed Cycleway 9 works at Kew Bridge in March 2021, including new protected cycle lanes on the A205 Kew Road, and a fully protected route through the junction onto Brentford High Street.

‘The changes on Kew Bridge itself included slightly reducing the pavement on the west side to accommodate an additional traffic lane. This traffic lane was introduced to help maintain journey times for buses and general traffic whilst creating enough capacity for cyclists and pedestrians through the Kew Bridge Road junction. The bridge’s eastern pavement provides a shared-use space for people walking and cycling, which then connects into the Cycleway 9 protected cycle tracks at the junction.

‘I am aware that concerns have been raised about the quality of the cycling facilities across the bridge and I agree that the new layout is not the best provision from a cycling perspective. My Walking and Cycling Commissioner has kickstarted a process to review the new layout and consider options to improve conditions for people cycling across the bridge. In a constrained location such as a bridge, it is challenging to design an optimum solution for all users.

‘TfL continues to support the London Borough of Hounslow to improve cycle facilities on Cycleway 9 and is working with them and the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames to deliver further improvements. This includes making coach access to Kew Gardens easier and investigating cycle facilities on Kew Road which will link to Cycleway 9 on Kew Bridge.  This of course remains subject to funding.’

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Gunnersbury Park becomes Jurassic Park

See also: Jeremy Vine films package thief

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Covid hit pubs close before Christmas

Image above: notice on the door of the Roebuck on Chiswick High Rd

Several pubs in Chiswick have closed for Christmas, several days before the bank holiday which is normally their busiest time of the year.

The Roebuck put up a notice saying it would be closed from Tuesday 21 – Monday 27 December, despite having only opened their Alpine ski resort themed garden ‘Moose Hut bar’ only three weeks earlier.

The Old Packhorse is closed until 27 December, because so many staff are isolating because of Covid. The Lamb was closed at 4pm on Monday and the Crown & Anchor was also dark.

D Grande are also closed for the festive break, with a slightly vague notice on their website saying: ‘We’ll look forward to welcoming you back soon”.

As Covid figures have risen sharply in London, topping 100,000 new cases on Thursday 23 December, it has disproportionately affected young people, the age demographic of most bar staff.

Ben Bullman at George IV told us it had decimated his team but they were determined to stay open.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Andrea Carnevali’s film reviews

See also: Bill Hagerty’s Brentford FC match reports

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.

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Brentford 0 Chelsea 1

Image above: Brentford v Chelsea Carabao Cup – No 8 v No 8 Jensen v Kovacic

There was little preventing Brentford scoring against what is possibly the best team in the Premier League; little except Edouard Mendy, Chelsea’s Senegalese goalkeeper, and those sundry defenders who put their lives on the goal-line to keep out a marauding Bees side determined to plunder a point.

What a strange, if fascinating, game this was. Chelsea went off at a furious lick, looking to unzip the Bees’ defence with pin-point accurate passing and a speed quite likely to shatter the sound barrier. Having seen off West Ham with a last-gasp goal from Yoane Wissa clinching a 2-1 victory at the London Stadium in their last outing prior to the international break, Brentford’s Yes We Can confidence could surely deal with any opposition.

Unless that opposition turned out to be a whirlwind, that is.

To begin with, the home side’s own resolute defence kept Chelsea at bay, just, but almost visible nervous tension suggested they might have welcomed some nifty time-wasting even though only ten minutes or so of the ninety had elapsed. Then a Bryan Mbeumo shot hit a post, having crossed territory unfamiliar to a team so far on the back foot that one suspected they might be anchored in their own half unless supplied with a map.

Something had to give and it was that resolute home defence, taking a few seconds’ break from the dazzling domination of the opposition. With Romano Lukaku out of contention, midfielder Ben Chilwell met a César Azpilicueta cross with a first-time shot that took a feather of a diversion to beat David Raya on its velocity.

Image above: Brentford v Chelsea Carabao Cup – Who’s fastest? Chelsea on the break

Glum were the faces of the home crowd at the break, but they were about to witness a turnaround in fortune that would shake Chelsea so forcibly their teeth could well have rattled.

The visitors started off in the manner in which they had finished. But soon Chelsea were dropping deeper and deeper into their own half as the Bees established a rhythm that went from a brisk quickstep to a full samba without bothering to take in a polka.

Another post-thumping effort from Mbeumo – it’s beginning to be a habit – signalled a renaissance that saw the Bees rack up 15 shots in a non-stop barrage that intensified as the minutes ticked by. They threw everything at a wearying defence that managed to block those Brentford efforts that Mendy couldn’t deal with, which was a rarity – in remarkable acrobatic form, the keeper even finger-tipped away a picture-book overhead kick from Christian Nørgaard. Had a kitchen sink been available to toss into the penalty area, Mendy would have stopped that too.

Three substitutions by head coach Thomas Tuchel, including that of the largely ineffective Lukaku, allegedly the most feared striker in the League, supplied fresh legs to visitors hanging on grimly to retain the three points that would take them back to the top of the table. Then Mendy yet again pulled off a crucial save, this time from Brentford sub Marcus Forss, before Brentford ran out of time faster than Chelsea ran out of puff.

Image above: Brentford v Chelsea Carabao Cup – Wizard Wissa being closed down by Sarr

It was a sensational game to watch, even if the Bees were denied the point they so clearly deserved. Both teams ended up exhausted, with the apparent exception of match-winner Mendy. If he plays like that every week from now until next May, the Premier League title will be Chelsea’s, proving they are much more than a bus stop on the Fulham Road.

They were very lucky, said Thomas Frank, adding, ‘It’s crazy. Four months ago they won the Champions League on the day we got promoted to the Premier League through the play-offs!’

‘The last twenty minutes was hell on earth,’ said Chilwell.

‘Champions League champions, top of the Premier League,’ I said to my mate Charlie. ‘What do you think?’

‘Let that be a lesson to them,’ said Charlie.

Brentford: Raya; M. Jorgensen, Jansson, Pinnock; Canós, Onyeka, Nørgaard, Jensen, Henry; Mbeumo, Toney. Substitutes used: Forss, Ghoddos.

Chelsea: Mendy; Chalobah. Christensen, Barr; Azpilicueta, Kanté, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic, Chilwell; Werner, Lakaku. Subs used: Mount, Havertz, James.

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

Photographs by Liz Vercoe

 

Andrea’s film review – The Matrix Resurrections

The Matrix Resurrections ⭐⭐ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Return to a world of two realities: one, everyday life; the other, what lies behind it. To find out if his reality is a construct, to truly know himself, Mr. Anderson will have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more. Showing at Chiswick Cinema.

First of all I should say right ahead that I regard the original Matrix as one of those rare game-changers in sci-fi and in cinema history: a genre defying film which only comes once in a decade (or even two decades!). A smart and beautifully crafted film which combined spectacular visuals, cracking action and ground-breaking special effects, and left and endurable mark on cinema and pop culture to this day.

And because, like everybody else, I was obviously let down by the frankly inferior sequels from the noughties, the news of a new film, filled me with a sense of trepidation but also with hope that it would do justice to the legacy left by the original.

Matrix: Resurrection is naturally very aware of what came before and spends most of the first half retreading moments from the first film, copying them (though I guess, they would prefer if I said “paying homage to them”) desperately trying to re-evoke that atmosphere that made the original so special.

This is of course just the latest (and surely not the last) of a series of recently released films that seem to be fuelled by that sense of nostalgia for the source. Just in the last few weeks we’ve had Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Spider-Man: No way Home.

Director Lana Wachowski (this time directing solo, without the sibling Lilly) knows too well why we are here and what we are craving for. She’s aware of our feelings towards the previous sequels too and she even tries to admit their inferiority by having people actually saying it in the film. “They took something that was so dear to people and turned it in something trivial” somebody utters at some point.

After all ,“Nothing comforts anxiety like a little nostalgia” (another line from the film, yes, it is that meta!), so who cares if all this feels a bit redundant?

Unfortunately while the latest Spider-Man showed the whole world how you can take that nostalgia and love for what came before and ride with it, without taking yourself too seriously and produce one of the most entertaining popcorn-films of the last few years, this Matrix reboot (or re-hash…or sequel… or whatever you want to call it), doesn’t quite know what to do with that legacy, other than constantly quoting itself, making sure we know it’s doing it in a very self-aware way, just to avoid criticism.

But this over-referencing and meta nature of the film is obviously a double-edged sword, which only served to remind me how fresh, mysterious and original the first film was.

And so, Lana Wachowski gets lost in endless scenes where people are literally sitting in front of each other trying to explain the film to us in a series on semi-unintelligible Mumbo-Jumbo dialogue. And yet, despite all those efforts, I have to confess I still don’t quite understand what happens in the film or how was it possible that Neo (Keanu Reeves) was still alive and why some people are played by other actors (other than the fact that some of the actors just did not want to return: something even more disappointing coming after the huge reunion from the latest Spider-Man, once again).

All that convoluted, unintelligible, and frankly rather uninteresting exposition, drenched in clichés and pompous lines, delivered with an air of self-importance (and a little bit of “echo” to make sure it could resonate even more), wouldn’t be the worst thing in the film if at least the action made up for it. But that’s where I found the film even more disappointing.

The lack any original ideas was staggering. Aside from the constantly recycled imagery and concepts from the previous films (blue/red pill, fluid mirrors, bull-time shots, lots of shooting), the film does really nothing new.

As for the action itself, I was astonished by how pedestrian it felt, in its choreography, its staging and its film-making techniques: the messy and frenetic editing, some shaky camerawork and dark lighting tried to hide some of that, but not very successfully and so the result was apparent. This was just not as innovative or interesting and crucially not as exciting it should have been to justify its existence.

On a positive note I have to say that I had really missed Carrie-Anne Moss and she can still hold her presence, though Keanu (who I usually like) seemed to sleepwalk through it…

In the end The Matrix Resurrections, while it doesn’t ruin the memory of the original, it came across to me just as a desperate attempt to revive something that should have been left alone.

No more please.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.

The Matrix: Resurrection is on in cinemas now, including Chiswick Ciname.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: December Books by Anna Klerfalk

See also: Aladdin at the Lyric, Hammersmith – Review

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.

Andrea’s film review – Nightmare Alley

Nightmare Alley ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Review by Andrea Carnevali

An ambitious travelling carnival worker with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words hooks up with a female psychiatrist who is even more dangerous than he is. Out in cinemas early 2022.

Director Guillermo del Toro’s follow up from his Oscar-winning The Shape of Water is more than just a remake of the 1947 classic film with the same title – a film that was actually way ahead of its time, starring Tyrone Power. It’s a real love letter to those “noir” films from the 1940s and 50s. Most of the old trademarks of the genre are present here: the dark moody settings, the depiction of the “lone hero” (or rather the “antihero”) and of course the “femme fatale”. In fact there’s more than one in this film: Toni Colette and the elegant, devilish, scene-stealer Cate Blanchett, who seems to have been born to play this role (She is perfect!”).

There’s of course one obvious difference here: this version of Nightmare Alley is in colour, though apparently there will be a black and white version released at some point soon. And yet Dan Lausten’s cinematography with its green and gold tones, manages to retain the noirish mood of those old classics like The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity (one of my favourites), Sweet Smell of Success, and Touch of Evil, by setting most of the film at night and often in the rain. At times you can feel the humidity and the rain on you.

Also, being the year 2021, Del Toro cannot help himself in pushing the boundaries further than they were allowed at the time, both in terms of sexual tension and gore: the film opens with a dead body is being dragged across the floor, setting the tone for what’s to come straight away.

The violence in the scenes is quite extreme (people are beaten, strangled, run over by a car… and an ear gets blown off from a gunshot), but the camera rarely lingers on the gore.

As for Bradley Cooper (playing a part that was meant to be for DiCaprio), I have to confess it took me a while to buy into him as the dirty, beardy lost soul, an alcoholic, living on the edge type of lead, but by the time I got to the end of the film I was completely sold.

Whether the audience will be willing to accept him in such an unlikable role remain to be seen, but there’s no denying that Cooper brings a lot more depth to this character than his predecessor Tyrone Power did (thanks also to a more fleshed out script). I do think he’s got a fair chance at the Oscars this year. It’ll be between him, Will Smith and Andrew Garfield.

However what the film also inherits from the noir genre is the love for convoluted plots and a multitude of characters, in this case to the detriment of the film itself. There are definitely subplots here which go nowhere and characters who are really not needed for the overall story. For example, however much I like Willem Defoe, if you take him out of the film, hardly anything changes.

Nightmare Alley could easily lose about 20 minutes and be better for it. But as always with any of Del Toro’s films, it’s the look and the impeccable production design which really leave a mark; the film does look stunning.

The distinctive look of the grungy carnival (it reminded me of the vibe from the beautiful and yet short-lived  Carnivale from HBO), the beautifully detailed locations: those long corridors, spacious offices, and dark streets, all of which clearly obey Del Toro’s dramatic needs more than actually trying to represent the accurate period. He is clearly somebody who understands and loves the language of film-making and he should be commended for that.

Nightmare Alley may not be a film for everyone, but, despite some of its flaws, we should be thankful that films like these are still being made in Hollywood.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.

It comes out next year. Look out for it.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: December Books by Anna Klerfalk

See also: Aladdin at the Lyric, Hammersmith – Review

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Andrea’s film review – A Boy Called Christmas

A Boy Called Christmas ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

In this origin story of Father Christmas, an ordinary boy (with a loyal pet mouse and a reindeer at his side) sets out on an extraordinary adventure to find his father who is on a quest to discover the fabled village of Elfhelm. Available to watch on Sky.

The words “Sky Original” when it comes to feature films usually fill me with dread: you probably can’t even think of any of those titles (which probably proves my point, because they are so unremarkable that nobody even talks about them), but after having endured a few of those, I have learnt to expect the worst… the recent remake of The Secret Garden was one of them, and yes was abysmal.

So you can imagine my surprise when about half hour into this film I caught myself thinking “this is actually rather charming and very nicely made”. It’s certainly not going to win any award for originality, but as an undemanding Christmas family affair, you could do a lot worse.

The framing device though which the film plays out has Maggie Smith (scene stealer) telling a story to three disillusioned children about the invention of Christmas.

I adore this woman whatever she’s in and having had the honour of spending some time with her on several occasions I can confirm that she’s just as sharp and witty in real life… and surprising warm too.

The tale she tells takes place in the snowy North as and follows the adventures of a boy Called Nikolas (yes, that Nick, no surprise there) on a quest to find the village of Elfhelm, where he believes the elves live.

On a purely technical level one cannot fail to notice the inventive transitions from the modern-day London, as the story is being told, to the snowy landscapes, and vice versa.

In fact the sumptuous look of A Boy Called Christmas, very aware of being a fairy tale and filmed as such, is a step above not just the average Christmas junk we usually get fed around this season, but all those average mid-budget children flicks in general

It clearly tries to emulate the magic and mood of films like Harry Potter and Paddington (the visuals, the music, the cast) but it also does a good job in evoking that warmth we all seek from a Christmas movie, while at the same time avoiding being too sickly sugary by adding some darker and more melancholic elements to the story, in typical Grimm fashion.

A strong supporting cast tops it all up, with names like Toby Jones, Kristen Wiig (unfortunately underused), Jim Broadbent and Stephen Merchant providing the voice of a mouse.

And whilst I didn’t really buy into Sally Hawkins as the baddy – in fact her whole subplot is possibly the weakest link in the film – you’ve got to be a real Grinch, or Scrooge, whichever you prefer, not to warm up to this…  and eventually I did. I loved the final twist too.

And for the record, both wife and son liked it even more than I did (so I guess it’s 4 stars for them).

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.

A Boy Called Christmas is available to watch on Sky.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: December Books by Anna Klerfalk

See also: Aladdin at the Lyric, Hammersmith – Review

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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St Michael & All Angels Church Chiswick Advent art auction for charity

Image above: St Michael and All Angels Church Advent calendar

The art work from the St Michael & All Angels Church Advent calendar goes on sale on Friday, 24 December.  You have until 12 noon on Sunday 9 January to make your bid if you would like to buy one.

Every year the church has a physical Advent calendar on display, with the days of the month revealing work by local artists one year and children the next. This year it’s the grown ups’ turn.

Images above: The Adoration of the Magi by Jim Cox; Second Advent Bird by Caroline Whitehead; Out of Darkness by Mary West

The Chiswick Calendar has sponsored tomorrow’s picture (22 December). The money raised by the Advent Calendar & Christmas Appeal goes to three charities: The Upper Room, feeding the community in need in West London; Water Harvest, helping bring safer and sustainable water to people in rural India; and West London Welcome, helping refugees and migrants in West London.

You can see the advent calendar pictures as they are revealed each day online here: smaaa.org.uk

The artists are donating at least a third of the sale price to the church’s Christmas Charity Appeal. Bids must be made online via a computer or mobile device on the Auction site: 32auctions.com.

Image above: While Shepherds Watched by Ann Whitehead; Eglise des Jacobins, Toulouse by Nigel Woolner

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Choir changes its name to make professional recording

See also: Toy appeal for refugee children

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.

Toy appeal for refugee children

The owners of Outsider Tart David Muniz and David Lesniak are organising a Christmas lunch for refugee families who are living in local hotels. They have invited 150 adult refugees and their children, between 27 to 35 of them with an age range of five to 14.

One of their customers, Ray Elias, is organising a toy collection for the children, who are likely not to receive any Christmas presents otherwise.

“I have set myself a personal goal of three toys per child” he told us.

He contacted us to see if any of our subscribers would like to contribute – new toys, with a value of at least £5.

If you would, you can contact him at
rayjoeelias@gmail.com

He would like unwrapped presents, so he can see what he’s got, but some wrapping paper to go with them would also be appreciated. He has had a great response from people who have donated toys for younger children, but is short of presents for girls and boys between the ages of 11 and 14.

After Christmas Ray will be organising a collection of clothing for the refugees who are being supported by the charity West London Welcome.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Choir changes name to make professional recording

See also: Jubilant family cycle ride celebrates opening of C9 through Hammersmith

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 Choir changes name to make professional recording

Image above: Hilary Campbell conducting Chiswick Choir, now West London Chorus

Chiswick Choir has a long and proud history, created in 1976 by John Thackray, built up over 30 years under the musical direction of Alistair Jones and developed over the past five years by the award winning conductor Hilary Campbell, who works with a number of choirs, among them the BBC Singers and the Bristol Choral Society.

They are good, and they are big. “Choir sounds small”, chairman Tony Speakman told The Chiswick Calendar, “it suggests 20 – 30 people and usually a church choir, but before the pandemic we were regularly getting 95 people to our weekly sessions and we were packing out the church hall at St Michael’s in Elmwood Rd to the point where we thought we would have to find somewhere else to practice.”

They put on several concerts a year and in 2020 were practising Bob Chilcott’s piece On Christmas Night with a view to performing it at their Christmas concert. That of course got scrapped along with so much else that year, but as they were still allowed to get together in the church and sing, socially distanced and without an audience, they met and performed it anyway.

The performance was videoed by a friend for their own internal use, but their musical director Hilary thought it good enough to try and get a record company to record professionally. She approached Priory Records, who specialise in church music and they were sufficiently impressed with the quality of their work to offer to publish a recording.

Image above: Taking break during the recording at St John the Evangelist Church, South Norwood

All the best stars have to change their name, just ask Norma Jean Mortenson or Reg Dwight. And so it was with Chiswick Choir. The request came that they should change their name to something that would have more appeal to the American market.

‘Choir’ suggests to small a group and ‘Chiswick’ was thought too parochial. They kicked around the idea of being a Choral Society and decided that was “too old fashioned and frumpy”; the record company wanted ‘London’ in the name, so the West London Chorus was born.

(Has the A&R person at Priory Records never heard of the Pasadena Roof Orchestra? Would they have had quite the same appeal as the Orchestra from a city to the northeast of Los Angeles?)

The West London Chorus recorded two of Bob Chilcott’s works: On Christmas Night and Wenceslas in a church in south London.

“We were meant to record in June” said Tony but because Covid has made organising anything like this so difficult, they didn’t record until the end of October.

“There were about 65 of us and we had to get special permission from Bob Chilcott as we were recording the pieces with an organ instead of an orchestra.”

Image above: On Christmas Night cover

On Christmas Night is a musical celebration of Christmas presented as a sequence of eight carols; Wenceslas the story of the Good King with solo parts for the characters of Wenceslas (baritone) and Page (mezzo-soprano).

West London Chorus worked with two professional soloists for the recordings, Mezzo-Soprano Martha McLorinan and baritone René Bloice-Sanders. The smaller solo parts were taken by the Chorus’s four choral scholars. 

Sadly, because the recording date was pushed back, the CDs will not be available until the week after Christmas, which, Tony told us, is very disappointing, but they will be available from the West London Chorus through their website – westlondonchorus.co.uk and eventually on Spotify.

Their next public event is currently planned for Saturday 8 January where those who fancy it are invited to join them in person at St Paul’s Church, Grove Park, W4 3SD or online from 1.30pm to sing Vivaldi’s Gloria.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Jubilant family cycle ride celebrates opening of C9 through Hammersmith

See also: Fuller’s Griffin Brewery Christmas party

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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Cabinet split on Covid restrictions as Omicron cases rise fast in London

Image above: Boris Johnson; photograph Andrew Parsons / 10 Downing Street

There’s a distinct sense of déjà vu as the public braces itself for new announcements on Covid. Will Christmas be cancelled again?

The Guardian is reporting that Boris Johnson is understood to be looking at three options to try and curb the spread of the Omicron variant: limiting social mixing without legal enforcement, mandatory restrictions on household mixing, the return of social distancing, and forcing pubs and restaurants to close at 8pm and the third option of a full lockdown, a two-week ‘circuit breaker’.

As has happened before, the public seems to be ahead of the politicians, voting with their feet to cancel bookings for meals out, live entertainment and Christmas parties. The BBC reported a few days ago that schools are expecting to be closed down in January. More than 30 local authorities told the BBC that some classes had already moved online as a result of rising Covid rates.

Image above: Queue at the Clayponds community centre this weekend

Cabinet split

As has happened before, the Cabinet is split and sending out mixed messages. The FT is reporting that there is deadlock between ministers over whether to act to suppress Omicron rates before Christmas.

‘Boris Johnson on Monday faced a wave of cabinet opposition to new Covid-19 restrictions in England, forcing him to shelve decisions on a potential post-Christmas “circuit breaker” until ministers have seen new data.

‘The cabinet will meet again this week, and further data on the severity of the new variant is expected on Wednesday.’

Chancellor Rishi Sunak appears to be leading the charge against new Covid restrictions, while Health Secretary Sajid Javid is reportedly in favour. Speaking on Sunday, he said there was still a lot of “uncertainty” around the data as he refused to rule out introducing further restrictions before Christmas.

He has warned that the country is facing a “tsunami” of Omicron infections. More than two-thirds of Covid-19 cases in London are now estimated to be Omicron. Senior government scientists are saying extra restrictions are needed “within days” to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed by Omicron.

Image above: Charing Cross hospital

Imperial College hospitals on ‘black alert’ as Omicron explodes in London

The Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust told The Chiswick Calendar they had been on ‘black alert’ twice in the past two weeks. They operate three alert levels – amber, red and black – which indicate when the main hospitals are experiencing ‘capacity pressures’. In other words, there have been a couple of times when keyhospitals were full. The hospitals in the Imperial group are Charing Cross, Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea, Hammersmith hospital, St Mary’s hospital and the Western Eye hospital.

There has been an explosion of Omicron cases in London, with cases up by 500% among young people in the capital according to analysis by the Evening Standard. Hospitals, clinics and pharmacies have been working overtime over the weekend to offer vaccinations, but even so London has had 140,000 confirmed Covid cases over the past week, to 19 December.

‘Of more concern, the rate is also now rising among older people in the capital who are more likely to get seriously ill from Covid’ the Standard reports.

‘The seven-day rate among Londoners aged 74-79 has risen 174 per cent, compared to December 1, from a low base of 59.6 confirmed cases per 100,000 in this age group to 163.4’.

Anecdotally people who have been vaccinated seem to be getting Covid less severely, but the Standard reports that hospitalisations are also steadily rising. There were 201 Covid patients admitted to London hospitals on December 15 compared to 132 on the same day the previous week.

Image above: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan

Sadiq Khan declares a ‘major incident’ – no New Year’s celebrations

On Saturday Sadiq Khan declared the huge surge of Covid in the capital a ‘major incident’, meaning that there will be closer coordination between the mayor’s office and key public services. On Monday he announced that New Year celebrations would not be going ahead in the interests of public safety. The event in Trafalgar Square had been planned for around 6,500 key workers and members of the public.

“The surge in cases of the Omicron variant across our capital is hugely concerning, so we are once again declaring a major incident because of the threat of Covid-19 to our city” he said on Saturday.

“We are already feeling the impact across the capital and while we are still learning about this variant, it’s right that London’s key agencies work closely together to minimise the impact on our city, including helping to protect the vital vaccination programme.”

London councils have begun preparing for a New Year lockdown as almost half the boroughs have seen cases double in a week. The areas seeing the biggest increases are the inner London boroughs which have the highest proportion of unvaccinated people:

Southwark, Islington, Tower Hamlets, Lambeth, Hackney and Wandsworth all saw Covid cases rise by more than 150% in the week ending December 14.

Haringey, Camden, Merton, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Lewisham, Newham, Hammersmith and Fulham and Enfield all saw rates go up by over 100% on the previous week.

In west London, latest figures showed Hammersmith and Fulham had 2,654 cases, up 1,517 (133.4%) Case rate per 100,000 people 1,446.0.
Hounslow had 2,036 cases, up 713 (53.9%) Case rate per 100,000 people 749.2.
Ealing had 2990 cases, up 1,291 (76.0%) Case rate per 100,000 people 878.5.

Image above: coronavirus.data.gov.uk map showing Covid cases in Chiswick for the seven day period ending 15 December

New Covid cases in Chiswick – biggest rise in Bedford Park

In Chiswick, in the seven days to 15 December the figures looked like this:
Chiswick south west
Total cases 122, up 61 (100%) on the previous week. Case rate per 100,000 people: 1,472.2

Chiswick south east
Total cases 105, up 49 (87.5%) on the previous week. Case rate per 100,000 people: 1,185.8

Chiswick Park
Total cases 125, up 66 (111.9%) on the previous week. Case rate per 100,000 people: 1,403.2

Bedford Park
Total cases 109, up 75 (220.6%) on the previous week. Case rate per 100,000 people: 1,578.3

Chiswick north west
Total cases 100, up 55 (122.2%) on the previous week. Case rate per 100,000 people: 1,467.6

Chiswick north east
Total cases 127, up 72 (130.9%) on the previous week. Case rate per 100,000 people: 1,515.0

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Cancellations force Chiswick Playhouse to cut back on shows

See also: Worried about someone sleeping rough? Download the StreetLink app

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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Man given 18-year sentence for drugs offences

Image above: Heroin was seized at Mensah’s home

A man has been sentenced to 18 years in jail after Metropolitan Police officers investigating drugs supply linked him to the sale of one kilogram of heroin.

On Friday, 17 December, Kehinde Mensah, 35, from Shepherd’s Bush, was sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court as follows; the sentences to run concurrently.

  • Conspiracy to supply heroin – 18 years
  • Possession with intent to supply heroin – 11 years
  • Possession with intent to supply cocaine – 11 years
  • Possession with intent to supply crack cocaine – 5½ years
  • Possession of criminal property, specifically cash – 3 years

The conviction is the result of work by the Met Police’s Specialist Crime Unit on ‘Operation Eternal’. The unit launched an investigation into drug supply activities they came across on Encrochat, a Europe-based communications network and service provider used primarily by organized crime.

Police infiltrated the network in 2020 during a Europe-wide investigation. An unidentified source associated with EncroChat announced in June 2020 that the company would cease operations because of the police operation.

The Specialist Crime Unit investigated the drug supply activities of someone with the Encrochat handle ‘Bubatunde’. The messages established that this character was involved in the supply of Class A drugs, documented with the purchase and sale of one kilogram of heroin.

A thorough police investigation was able to attribute the Enchrochat handle ‘Bubatunde’ to Mensah, linking his address and phone number to the device and on 28 January 2021, a warrant was executed at Mensah’s home address and more than two kilograms of cocaine, heroin and crack cocaine, and almost £15,000 cash, was found.

Mensah was detained at the scene, charged and remanded in custody.

Shortly before his trial, a man handed himself into police claiming that the drugs found at the property were his. Police investigations into this man’s claims revealed a ‘crib sheet’ on his phone detailing what he should say to officers and further enquiries provided evidence to challenge his account. The jury later accepted that he had falsely claimed responsibility to alleviate the focus on Mensah.

Mensah pleaded not guilty to all charges and appeared at Isleworth Crown Court to stand trial. On Monday 6 September he was found guilty of conspiracy to supply heroin, possession with intent to supply heroin, possession with intent to supply cocaine and crack cocaine and possession of criminal property, specifically cash.

Since launching in the summer of 2020, Op Eternal has resulted in more than 600 arrests, 1156kg Class A drugs recovered and 75 convictions.

Detective Chief Inspector Driss Hayoukane, of the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said:

“Thanks to the thorough investigation by DC Anthony Dunne of the Op Eternal team, the evidence gathered against Mensah was overwhelming and the sentence he has been given reflects both the severity of his actions and his refusal to take responsibility.

“We know there is an inextricable link between drugs and violence in our communities. Our work to disrupt all routes of drug supply and prosecute those involved continues to be central to our work to tackle violence on London’s streets.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Cabinet split on Covid restrictions as cases rise fast in London

See also: Man arrested in connection with an unprovoked assault on a woman in Hammersmith

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Chiswick author presents Boxing Day appeal for Encephalitis Society

Catherine Jessop found out about Encephalitis the hard way. Her husband Alan collapsed with a seizure on Boxing Day, which led to a year in hospital and a permanent brain injury.

On a very fast learning curve about how to cope with her husband’s illness, Catherine realised she should use her new-found knowledge to help others in a similar situation. She wrote a handbook Pulling Through, which she launched at this year’s Chiswick Book Festival and on the strength of that she was invited to record this year’s Boxing Day charity appeal on BBC Radio 4.

“We are very pleased to have been invited to do the Boxing Day appeal” Catherine told The Chiswick Calendar.

“The most important thing for the Encephalitis Society is getting the illness recognised.”

READ ALSO: Chiswick’s local authors at Chiswick Book Festival 2021

Image above: Alan and Catherine with copies of Pulling Through 

Most people do not know what Encephalitis is. Surveys show 78% people have not heard of it.

“Sometimes it takes months to get a diagnosis” said Catherine. Because there are only 6,000 cases a year it is quite rare and it is not the first thing that GPs necessarily think of when presented with the symptoms.

The main symptom is seizures, which are easy to mistake for epilepsy, a stroke or a heart attack.

“We were lucky to be living in London. Alan went to Charing Cross where they diagnosed it relatively quickly.”

The other symptom people are likely to display is confusion.

“Confusion is almost too gentle a word. People are rambling and incoherent, talking nonsense. The doctors asked me whether Alan took recreational drugs, because the way it comes across is very like someone who smokes a lot of pot.”

Image above: Catherine introducing her book at the Chiswick Book Festival

The type of Encephalitis Alan has is Autoimmune Encephalitis, which is is the body’s immune system attacking itself. In about 50% of these cases it happens because the immune system has detected the early signs of cancer. Alan has regular tests but thankfully has not developed cancer.

Encephalitis can be treated with drugs which zap the antibodies attacking the brain but after the illness is cured, patients are still left with a brain injury, the effects of which are hard to understand and get used to.

“I was incredibly honoured to be asked to represent the Encephalitis Society on the prestigious BBC Radio 4 charity appeal,” said Catherine.

“To be featured on Boxing Day is extremely poignant for me and my family as it will be five years exactly to the day (in fact almost to the minute) that Alan first became ill.”

The broadcast will be at 7.54am, repeated at 9.25pm and repeated again the following Thursday.

“Raising awareness of this terrible illness is a vital part of both getting an early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Millions of people listen to Radio 4, so I am thrilled to be able to help spread the word in this way and really hope that the appeal will raise much needed funds for the Encephalitis Society!

“I really want to get across to the listeners just how devastating the impact of encephalitis can be, not just for the person who gets it, but also for their family and friends” said Catherine.

Her book Pulling Through: Help for Families Navigating Life-Changing Illness is available at Waterstones and from Amazon.

You can donate to the Encephalitis Society through their website: encephalitis.info

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Jubilant family cycle ride celebrates opening of C9 through Hammersmith

See also: Riverside residents campaign to prevent luxury houses being built on the floodplain

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.

Riverside residents campaign to prevent luxury houses being built on the ‘ functional floodplain’

Image above: Thames foreshore next to the garden being considered as the site of four new luxury houses; photographs Mukti Jain Campion

Hounslow Council is considering an application for four luxury homes on the riverside in Chiswick which the Environment Agency have advised against on the grounds that they would be in the Thames floodplain.

Developers Residence One (Hartington Ltd), based in Richmond, describe themselves as ‘property developers and creators of exceptional residences within London’s most prestige locations.’

They have applied to build four multi-million-pound homes in what is currently the garden of a Victorian house, the largest remaining garden in Grove Park.

Image above: Number 17 Hartington Rd, showing entrance which developers want to widen for an access road

The site, at 17 Hartington Rd, is right beside the river. The Environment Agency wrote to the council in September:

“We object in principle to the application because the proposed development is incompatible with the flood zone. We also object for inadequate assessment of the flood defences.”

In the letter from the Environment Agency planning adviser Tom Craig to Hounslow’s senior planning officer Leo Hall, the land where these houses would be built is classified as a ‘functional floodplain’, defined as ‘land where water has to flow or be stored in times of flood’ according to the West London Strategic Flood Risk Assessment.

Image above: West London Strategic Flood Risk Assessment map showing the site clearly marked as in the floodplain

With sea levels rising and severe weather also increasing with climate change, land where water can soak away is at a premium. In November 2019 the GLA reported that London already has the lowest levels of green space in all of the UK.

Images above: Views of the overgrown back garden at number 17, where the new houses would be built

Developers say the flood risk assessment was wrong and the Environment Agency will redesignate the site so it is not considered floodplain

In November a Hounslow planning officer confirmed to local residents that they were in conversation with the developers, the Environment Agency and the Lead Local Flood Authority to see if the ‘functional floodplain’ designation was ‘justified’.

Residents of Hartington Rd who object to the development were worried the Environment Agency would be persuaded to change the designation of the land from 3b (functional floodplain) to 3a (land having a greater annual probability of river flooding’) which would make it easier for the developers to get planning permission.

The Chiswick Calendar has spoken to the developers Residence One. Owner Ben Wilson confirmed they have been in touch with the Environment Agency and the authors of the West London Strategic Flood Risk Assessment, Metis Consultants.

He said Metis had made a mistake in designating the site a ‘functional floodplain’. The Environment Agency had made their recommendation to the Council based on their designation and had no option but to advise the Council against development. Now they have changed their advice because they have realised the designation was a functional flood plain was wrong because the site has flood defences – a river wall.

“It was never a flood plain. We did a full flood risk assessment and we wouldn’t have bought the site if it had been in a functional flood plain. It’s a bit embarrassing for Metis that they made that mistake, but it is a mistake.

“A functional floodplain is an area where the expectation is that it will flood once in 20 years. Where there’s a river wall the expectation is that it will flood once in a thousand years.

“When you stick a flood defence in front of an area how can you then argue that it’s designed to be a flood plain?

“You can’t have something that’s designed to flood and put something in front of it which is designed to stop it flooding in all but one year in a thousand and still call it a floodplain. It doesn’t make sense.”

We have asked Metis and the Environment Agency for their comments.

Plans to build are “reckless” and “irresponsible” say residents

Councillors on the planning committee have received emails from local residents urging them not to grant permission for the houses to be built and describing the plans as “reckless” and “irresponsible.”

Apart from the general principle that there should be land beside the river which floodwater can soak into, the neighbouring houses enjoy having the space between them and the river and householders want to preserve the natural habitat they overlook.

“The 30 mature trees are a balm for the eyes but also a green lung for the neighbourhood.

“The garden provides sanctuary for nesting woodpeckers and Egyptian geese, a hunting ground for owls and swooping bats.

“And as the land slopes towards the river it acts as an effective natural drainage system for surface and ground water, preventing flooding in the area.

“The proposed development would rip out the trees and increase the impermeable area more than five-fold.

“The new houses would require a complex, expensive, high maintenance drainage scheme of underground attenuation tanks and electric pumps to do the job that the trees and soil currently do.”

‘NoGardenGrab’ campaign group

The campaign group, consisting of around 25 residents of Hartington Rd and Chiswick Staithe have set up a petition against the development, which has had 50 signatures so far, including that of environmentalist Jonathon Porritt, formerly Director of Friends of the Earth and co-chair of the Green Party.

“It goes on, day after day, community by community: an inexorable war of attrition against the natural world at the hands of local developers. They often claim that they will ensure a ‘net gain’ for biodiversity in the process – but more often than not, this is a complete sham. We all have a duty to help hold the line against this mindless destruction.”- Jonathon Porritt

See the petition here: Save Grove Park’s largest garden

Image above: View of the back garden from the river bank

Hounslow responsible for flood policy

After the severe flooding of 2007, the Flood and Water Management Act was passed in 2010, making London boroughs Lead Local Flood Authorities.

As such, Hounslow Council is responsible for managing flooding in this area, it must identify the flood risks and interventions which could help to mitigate those risks.

In its policy statement, the West London Strategic Flood Risk assessment outlines the councils’ responsibility:

‘To meet flood risk mitigation requirements whilst facilitating housing development needs, local policy targeting the impact of future growth on flood risk is required’.

The policy recommends encouraging development in areas ‘not susceptible to flood risk impacts posed by climate change.’

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Jubilant family cycle ride celebrates opening of C9 through Hammersmith

See also: Cancellations force Chiswick Playhouse to cut back on shows

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Jubilant family cycle ride celebrates opening of C9 through Hammersmith

Hundreds of people cycled the length of the C9 protected cycleway from Hammersmith Broadway to Turnham Green on Saturday to celebrate its completion. LB Hammersmith and Fulham have been installing the segregated lane over the past few weeks, separating it off from the main highway with plastic wands for safe cycling and joining it to the stretch along Chiswick High Rd.

One of the organisers of the ride, Leo Murray from W6 Safe Cycling Families told The Chiswick Calendar:

“It was a lot of fun! The mayor of Hammersmith and Fulham PJ Murphy cut the ribbon, held by kids on both sides, and then came on the whole ride with us, which was lovely.”

He said the members of W6 Safe Cycling Families planned to use it “practically every day.”

Paul James, who took many of these pictures, said:

“I wrote to the council 20 years ago telling it I felt unsafe gong straight on to Chiswick High Rd at Chiswick Lane with drivers often left hooking me in a hurry to get past. It’s great to see it’s safe now for the next generation…

“it was such a life affirming event to see all the smiles on those kids faces, even the smallest ones rode for miles without complaining once …

“it’s so good to see this sort of thing happening on our streets.”

Images above: Jeremy Vine with his pennyfarthing; David Giles shouting from his car

Broadcaster Jeremy Vine took part on his penny farthing bike. The cyclists got support from a passing bus driver who tooted his horn and were shouted at by David Giles, formerly a prominent Conservative party member in Chiswick until he was recently expelled from the party for referring to Hounslow Council as the “Brentford Taliban”. A long term opponent of the cycle lane, he yelled “get off your bike” at Jeremy as he passed him in his SUV.

Ruth Cadbury MP for Brentford & Isleworth Tweeted:

“Thank you @LBofHounslow and @LBFH for the safe cycle route from Kew Bridge, which would be non-stop to Barking if not for the 1.5km in @RBKC.

Pictures courtesy of W6 Safe Cycling Families.

 

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Cancellations force Chiswick Playhouse to cut back on shows

See also: Worried about someone sleeping rough? Download the Streetlink app

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Andrea’s film review – Swan Song

Swan Song ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

In the near future, a terminally ill man explores a heart wrenching, emotionally complex solution to save his wife and son from grief by duplicating himself without them knowing. Available to watch on Apple +

Get some tissues out for this one, because Swan Song is a real tearjerker of a movie. I’ve just finished watching it and I can barely see in focus through my wet soaking eyes… So please forgive the odd typo here and there.

In a way this feels a lot like an extended episode of Black Mirror, and like many of those episodes, whilst on the surface it can be considered a science fiction piece, it’s clear that director Benjamin Cleary is less interested in what the future might look like – though there are some tantalising details here and there scattered throughout the film – but more in using that genre as a framing device to reflect on life, death, family, scarify and have to grapple with the idea of a clone replacing you and carrying on your life.

Cue tears and even more tears.

Set in the not too distant future, the film tells the story of Cameron (Mahershala Ali), a loving husband and father who is terminally ill with not much time to live, but he’s kept his condition hidden from his wife Poppy (Naomi Watts) for fear of breaking her heart.

Enter Glen Close, a doctor who set up a facility in the middle of nowhere (strangely resembling the house from another minimal cerebral sci-fi, Ex Machina), who presents him with the alternative solution of cloning himself, transferring all his memories and his personality and subconscious and let the new close replace him.

One shouldn’t really look into the set up and the dynamics of the plot too closely though, because the moment you do, it could all fall apart. The director conveniently avoids tackling certain big (and actually rather interesting) questions about the ethics of what they are doing, the legality and what it could mean for the future (does it mean that the doctor is a God who created immortality?).

But also there are some big plot holes too: questions like “why allow the two to meet each other and spend time together?”. Wouldn’t it just be easier to send the clone without the two of them ever coming across each other? Possibly yes, but that would have divested the film from some of the most beautiful and powerful moments too.

Mahershala Ali’s brilliant, nuanced and multi-layered performance succeeds in creating two identical, yet different characters and by the end we can’t help but loving them both.

The whole film mostly plays out (rather slowly and quietly one may argue) on his very expressive face, while the fragmented (and yet skilful) editing carries the audience through a series flashbacks weaving memories and key moments which will eventually inform the decision he has to make.

He is the heart and sound of this film. The rest of the cast includes a very good Naomi Watts, a very under-utilised Awkwafina and Glen Close, who is probably slightly miscast, as you always expect her, if not to pull out a rabbit from a boiling pot, to do something schemy or at least not quite right, and that’s really not the intent of the film.

Overall, Swan song is very gentle film, probably a bit too gentle to make a real long lasting impact. But even though I would have loved a little bit more edge, darkness (and some more changes in its pace) it is still a powerful and very moving film, with a towering performance at its centre which deserves to be noticed … but unfortunately very few will, because it’s on Apple+

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.

Swan Song is available to watch on Apple +

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Sadiq Khan: TfL have to plan a ‘managed decline’ of London’s public transport network

Image above: Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said on Friday that the Government’s refusal to agree long term funding for Transport for London meant that TfL had no choice but to plan for ‘managed decline’ of London’s public transport network.

On Friday night (18 December) TfL announced the emergency Government bailout to keep Tubes and buses running was being extended until February 2022. There have been a succession of short term deals done with the Department of Transport since the pandemic plunged TfL’s finances into crisis.

The most recent ran out on Friday. The new one will last until 4 February but Sadiq Khan says nothing has changed. They will still have to make cuts to bus and tube services:

“The Government is still refusing to properly fund Transport for London which has been severely affected by Covid, yet again only providing a short-term funding deal that will only last a matter of weeks. This means that nothing has changed in terms of TfL having to plan on the basis of a managed decline of the capital’s public transport network.

“As a condition of the emergency short-term funding TfL needs to avoid collapse, the Government is forcing us to raise additional revenue in London through measures, like council tax, that will unfairly punish Londoners for the way the pandemic has hit our transport network. Despite these measures, only a long-term funding deal with the Government, including additional capital funding, will be enough to avoid significant and damaging cuts to tube and bus services.”

About 100 bus routes are under threat and 200 more are looking at reductions in the service. Older buses and tube trains are not being replaced as planned.

READ ALSO: Sadiq Khan warns of huge cuts to Tube and bus services and cycle lane programme

From the Government’s side, journalists have been told extending the bailout until February would allow Ministers time to assess the impact of the Omicron variant on travel patterns and TfL’s fares.

Image above: Heidi Alexander 

Heidi Alexander steps down

It was announced on Monday (20 December) that Deputy Mayor for Transport Heidi Alexander would be stepping down. The former MP for Lewisham East had planned to leave the role at the end of Sadiq’s first term earlier this year, but stayed on to try and help secure funding.

The Mayor announced that former Labour MEP Seb Dance would be her successor as Deputy Mayor. He was Vice Chair of the Environment committee in the European parliament while he was an MEP (2014 to 2020).

Sadiq Khan thanked Heidi for her work and praised her leadership:

“In particular, I’d like to pay tribute to Heidi for tirelessly leading TfL through the pandemic – the most difficult period in its history.

“She is without doubt one of the most dedicated, resilient and respected politicians I have ever worked with and I wish her all the best for the future.”

Seb Dance takes on the job at an equally challenging time.

Image above: Seb Dance

London’s transport of ‘national importance’

Sadiq Khan made the case that London’s transport system isn’t just a local or regional concern, but a national one and the Government should recognise that:

“The Government needs to realise that a properly-funded transport network in London is an issue of great national importance. TfL has a critical role to play in driving the economic recovery in both the capital and the rest of the country. London’s net contribution to the Treasury was £36bn in the year before the pandemic, and TfL contracts contribute around £7bn to the UK economy while supporting 43,000 jobs around the country.

“The COVID pandemic is the only reason TfL is facing a financial crisis, and it’s clear the pandemic is far from over. The Government’s short-term deals are trapping TfL on life support, rather than putting it on a path to long-term sustainability. This damaging, unnecessary and clearly politically driven approach cannot continue. Over the next seven weeks, I urge Ministers to start engaging with TfL and City Hall in good faith so that we can finally agree a long-term funding deal that will protect London’s transport network – for the sake of the capital and the whole country.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Cabinet split over Omicron restrictions as Covid cases rise rapidly in London

See also: Riverside residents campaign to prevent luxury houses being built on the floodplain

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.

 

Andrea’s film review – CODA

CODA ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Review by Andrea Carnevali

As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) Ruby is the only hearing person in her deaf family. When the family’s fishing business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her love of music by wanting to go to Berkeley and her fear of abandoning her parents. Available to watch on Apple +

Somewhere among the multitude of titles on the ever-growing list of streaming platforms you might just stumble across a tiny little film called Coda on Apple+. The title stands for ‘Child Of Deaf Adult’. If you do, stop whatever you’re doing, do yourself a favour and watch it. You won’t regret it.

This is not just one of the most charming, sweet and heart-warming films of the year, but it’s also a real crowd-pleaser which is bound to leave a smile or two (and a tear of two!) on your face by end. And all without resorting in cheesy sentimentality or heavy manipulation – for a start, there’s very little music.

The story centres around Ruby, the only hearing person in her deaf family (a mother a father and an older brother). Ironically, given her background, she has a passion for singing, something that she finds very hard to explain to her parents who actually take that passion as a deliberate sign of rebellion towards them.

“If I was blind, would you want to paint?” Her mother asks her at some point.

When her family’s fishing business goes bust, she finds herself torn between following her love for music and wanting to go and study it at university, and her moral commitment to help her parents.

This on paper it has all the usual tropes we’ve seen before in hundreds of other films and yet somehow it manages to bypass that feeling of déjà vu, thanks to some beautifully nuanced performances and a huge heart driving it all.

The family dynamics are perfectly observed and, like the everything else in the film, they feel honest and driven by real emotions.

The result is one of the most gentle and sweet gems of the year, which not surprisingly has just been nominated at the Golden Globes for Best Drama.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.

CODA is Highly Recommended on Apple+

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: December Books by Anna Klerfalk

See also: Aladdin at the Lyric, Hammersmith – Review

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 arrested in connection with unprovoked assault of woman in Hammersmith

Image above: Metropolitan Police stock image

A man has been arrested as part of an investigation into an unprovoked assault on a woman in Hammersmith.

The 37-year-old was arrested on Wednesday, 15 December, on suspicion of grievous bodily harm. He was subsequently bailed pending further enquiries to a date in early January.

Just after 2am on Sunday 5 December officers on duty in the area of Uxbridge Road, W12 were flagged down by members of the public.

They found a 27-year-old woman who had sustained injuries after being pushed to the ground by an unknown man outside a pub. She remains in hospital undergoing treatment for a serious leg injury. A second woman was also knocked over by the man; she did not sustain serious injuries.

An investigation has been launched by detectives from the Central West CID, which covers Hammersmith and Fulham. Information can be provided to them by calling police on 101 and giving the reference CAD 901/05Dec, or by calling Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Sadiq Khan: TfL have to plan ‘managed decline’ of London’s public transport services

See also: Changes to the Congestion charge

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.

Changes to the Congestion charge

Image above: Congestion zone sign

There will be no congestion charge levied in London between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day bank holiday. The Mayor of London’s office announced the lifting of the charge, saying it would  support families and visitors over the festive period in what is traditionally a time of increased engineering work on the rail network and a quieter period on the roads.

In an attempt to support both the policy of long term traffic reduction and to help the capital’s hospitality industry, Sadiq Khan has opted to keep the congestion charge at £15 but to reduce the hours it operates from February.

Transport for London introduced temporary changes to the Congestion Charge in 2020 as an emergency measure in the pandemic to ensure traffic was reduced so that essential journeys could continue to take place. The charge was increased from £11.50 to £15 and the operating hours increased to include evenings and weekends.

Currently the congestion charge applies from 7am till 10pm every day of the week.

After ‘an extensive public consultation’ over a 10-week period, which saw nearly 10,000 responses, TfL announced on Thursday 16 December,  ‘permanent changes that will help prevent car use from rising above pre-pandemic levels’.

The current charge level of £15 will be retained but from 21 February there will be no charges in the evenings after 6pm. Operating hours on weekends and bank holidays will be reduced to 12 – 6pm.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Sadiq Khan: TfL hs to plan for ‘managed decline’ of London’s transport services

See also: TfL’s finances on a knife edge as funding package set to expire

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.

Where to get a Covid jab this weekend

Image above: 145 King St, Hammersmith W6 9JT on Google Streetview

King Street, Hammersmith

LB Hammersmith & Fulham have a pop-up vaccination clinic at 145 King St, Hammersmith W6 9JT this weekend.

Boosters are available to everyone aged 18 or over, three months after receiving their second vaccine. No need to book.

Dates: Friday 17, Saturday 18, Sunday 19 December.

Times: 10am – 4pm each day.

Image above: West Middlesex University hospital, Twickenham Rd, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 6AF

West Middlesex University hospital

West Middlesex University Hospital also has a clinic for Covid jabs, with extra drop-in clinics this Saturday and Sunday.

Address: Twickenham Rd, Isleworth, Middlesex TW7 6AF

Dates: Friday 17 December

Times: 8.30am-6.30pm

Dates: Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 December

Times: 8.30am till 3.30pm.

Image above: Clayponds community centre, 186 Clayponds Gardens, Ealing W5 4RQ

Clayponds community centre

There were queues at Clayponds community clinic at 186 Clayponds Gardens in South Ealing, but only a half hour wait even though the NHS website crashed again.

Run by South Ealing pharmacy

Dates: Monday – Friday

Times:  9am – 6pm

Saturday 18 & Sunday 19 December

Times: 9am – 5pm

The UK recorded it’s highest number of daily Covid cases yet on Wednesday (15 December) with 78,610 cases reported. Boris Johnson urged people to “get boosted now” and England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, warned that Covid records “will be broken a lot” in the next few weeks due to the Omicron variant and its “phenomenal” speed of transmission.

France has today announced that it will tighten Covid restrictions for travellers arriving from the UK. All non-residents will have to give a compelling reason for travelling to France from Saturday. Tourism and non-urgent work do not qualify as good enough reasons. Confirmed Omicron cases are currently much higher in the UK than in France.

To find other nearby walk-in centres, enter your postcode here.

Image above: Not how you’re supposed to wear the mask; photograph Danny Louki

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: NHS website crashes as people rush to book booster jabs

See also: TfL finances on a knife-edge as funding package set to expire

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.

Cancellations force Chiswick Playhouse to cut back on shows

Chiswick Playhouse has cut back on the number of performances of its shows after a deluge of cancellations following the prime minister’s announcement on the spread of the Omicron variant.

West End shows have also had to cancel performances owing to outbreaks of coronavirus among cast and crew. The Lion King at the Lyceum theatre cancelled shows on Tuesday and Wednesday, citing “Covid-enforced absences within our cast and crew”.

The Christmas period is crucial to theatres, generating about a third of their income, but rising case numbers and the spread of the Omicron variant have prompted a number of productions to shut temporarily.

At the opening of their latest show Songs by the Fire, owner / director of the Chiswick Playhouse Fred Perry thanked the community of Chiswick for supporting the little theatre through the pandemic so far. Last year he said, 450 people gave over £30,000 which kept the theatre alive. He is determined to keep the theatre going:

“This is where theatre starts and it matters. Small local theatres like this one are important to the local community and to emerging creatives: writers, producers, actors, directors”

There is still availability for December productions and events at Chiswick Playhouse, including Songs by the Fire, Santa’s Grotto, Flanders and Swann & Tom Lehrer, and Christmas comedy.

January shows are still planned to go ahead, and tickets are available to buy online as normal. See below for what’s still on:

Flanders and Swann – 16 December | 7.30pm

‘Come and see the gnu, the hippopotamus and poison some pigeons in the park. Join opera stars Graeme Danby and Valerie Reid, accompanied by Tim Jasper, as they take you on a journey through Flanders and Swann, and Tom Lehrer. A seasonal evening that will warm your heart!’

Buy tickets here: chiswickplayhouse.co.uk/opera

Songs by the Fire – 20 and 23 December  | 8.00pm

‘With an all star cast of your favourite West End performers you are not going to want to miss out on a cozy Christmas evening of festive songs as well as musical theatre hits. You might even find yourself singing along at times!’

Buy tickets here: chiswickplayhouse.co.uk/songsbythefire

Santa’s Grotto – 23 December 11.00am | 1.00pm | 3.00pm

‘We’re getting our chimney ready for a very special guest this Christmas, as Santa Claus is coming to the Chiswick Playhouse! Bring your little one along to hear Santa’s favourite story and meet the man himself. Tickets include a free present for each well-behaved child, and a glass of mulled wine for every naughty parent!’

Buy tickets here: chiswickplayhouse.co.uk/fatherchristmas

Comedy – 30 December | 7.30pm

‘Fancy some Christmas cheer? Join us for a night that’ll have you saying Ho Ho Ho, thanks to our triple bill of fantastic comedians. Featuring Bella Hull (2019 Yellow Comedy Young Comedian of the Year), Naz Osmanoglu (Plebs, Live at the Electric, Drunk Histories) and headliner Luke Kempner (The Last Leg, Love Island Aftersun, ITV2’s Stand Up Sketch Show).’

Buy tickets here: chiswickplayhouse.co.uk/hohohochristmasshow

January shows

Sophie, Ben and Other Problems – 4 – 8 January

‘Sophie and Ben love each other a lot, but sometimes, they make that a bit too difficult for themselves. Two twenty-somethings who are trying to find their way in the world, they guide us through their lives of low-key alcoholism, deeply rooted regret, and unfortunate sexual mishaps.

‘Join Sophie and Ben as they impart some words of wisdom on life, love, and modern day millennial relationships in a play that has been described by West-End Wilma as “quirky, wholesome, and desperately moving.”‘

Buy tickets here: chiswickplayhouse.co.uk/sophiebenandotherproblems

Narcissus – 11 – 15 January

‘A young man reflects on a has-been, would-be life, a never-ending party, all faded in the flash of a camera. A life so glamorous, so beautiful, he may well have dreamed it.
‘A monologue play about beauty, love, sex and fame that will leave you heart-stopped, heart-wrenched and heart-broken.’

This work premiered at Dublin Fringe Festival. This production is supported by Culture Ireland.

Buy tickets here: chiswickplayhouse.co.uk/narcissus

Al Murray returns to Chiswick – 20 – 21 January

‘Don’t miss your chance to catch Britain’s favourite pub philosopher, Al Murray – The Pub Landlord, as he tries out material ahead of his brand-new tour. This is a rare opportunity to catch one of Britain’s finest comedians as he polishes his legendary bar-room banter.  No room for half measures here.’

‘A national treasure’ – The Daily Telegraph

‘Delivers laughs by the barrel full’ – Evening Standard
‘Murray’s interaction with the crowd remains one of the wonders of the comedy world’ – The Times

Buy tickets here: chiswickplayhouse.co.uk/almurray

Women of Pensionable Rage – 25 – 29 January 

‘From the overly illuminated Vegas of the North to the depths of the darkest Suburbia, three glorious women of Pensionable Rage are finally standing up and speaking out!

‘It’s time for Linda Godfrey to tell all about ‘that’ Panto season in Fleetwood, Julie Tate to remember a life changing day in 1999 and Miriam from number 14 to make peace with all those who ‘turned a blind eye’.’

Buy tickets here: chiswickplayhouse.co.uk/women-of-a-pensionable-age

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Make a terminally ill child a hero in their own personalised adventure story

See also: Worried about someone sleeping rough! Download the StreetLink app

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.

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TfL’s finances on knife edge as funding package set to expire

Transport for London are hurtling towards another financial crisis as an emergency funding package handed to them by the Government expires this weekend.

Last week on Friday (10 December), the Government agreed to extend its financial support TfL for another week, with discussions about ongoing funding for the transport network to continue.

On 1 June 2021, TfL announced that an extraordinary funding and financing support package had been agreed between TfL and the DfT to support transport services in London and contribute towards TfL’s forecast revenue loss due to reduced passenger numbers using TfL services as a result of the pandemic. The Funding Package provided support for the period from 29 May 2021 to 11 December 2021.

The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, is under pressure to act swiftly to help TfL, in light of the huge losses it faces as Omicron deters passengers. There were about 500,000 fewer Tube journeys by 10.00am on Monday morning (13 December) after the Government’s guidance to work from home kicked in.

Mr Shapps said:

“We have thus far supported London with over £4 billion funding and will make sure services are protected whilst work on the next settlement is underway.”

‘There is no UK recovery from the pandemic without a London recovery’, says TfL

TfL says that if a comprehensive funding package cannot be agreed upon then significant cuts to the capital’s transport services. The Mayor said in November that 100 bus routes are likely to go and 200 more are likely to have the frequency of the services reduced. Older Tube trains and diesel buses, which were scheduled for replacement, will be kept in service and plans for new pedestrian and cycle safety schemes will be scrapped.

TfL is seeking £500m for the remainder of the current financial year, £1.1bn for 2022/23 and between £400m to £500m for the two subsequent financial years – plus guarantees on long-term capital funding to maintain and upgrade the capital’s transport infrastructure.

A TfL spokesperson said:

“We continue to discuss our funding requirements with the Government, who have today indicated their intention to extend our funding support for TfL through until 17 December 2021.

“There is no UK recovery from the pandemic without a London recovery and there is no London recovery without a properly funded transport network in the capital. We hope the discussions can be successfully concluded soon.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: NHS website crashes as people rush to book booster jabs

See also: Hundreds of Chiswick homes at “high flood risk”

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Andrea’s film review – Spider-Man – No Way Home

Spider-Man – No Way Home ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

With Spider-Man’s identity now revealed, Peter asks Doctor Strange for help. When a spell goes wrong, dangerous foes from other worlds start to appear, forcing Peter to discover what it truly means to be Spider-Man. Out in the cinema from today.

The fact that this film even exists is not just the closest thing to a ‘miracle’ for any superhero fan and for a Spider-Man freak like me, this is pretty much a childhood dream come true, but it also shows the power that the Marvel Machine has these days: basically they can do anything they want.

They had already proven themselves with the humongous Avengers: endgame in 2019 in which they were able to put together one of the greatest casts ever assembled, raking them up from more than ten years of previous films, into a very satisfying epic finale.

As it happened, it ended up being the most successful film in cinema history with a massive $2.8 billion gross worldwide (only to be beaten again by James Cameron who, like a sore loser, decided to re-release Avatar in China, thus adding enough money to get to 2.85 billion and pass its adversary). Wherever you stand on the Marvel franchise debate, one has to bow to such numbers.

With this latest Spider-Man (latest, but certainly not the last: mark my words, this is going to make a fortune and we’ll see more of Tom Holland in the suit) they went even further by creating a real crowd-pleaser which celebrates twenty years of the Spider-Man legacy at the movies and brings this trilogy to a great conclusion.

Needless to say, your appreciation for No Way Home will very much depend on how fond (and knowledgeable) you are about ALL the previous films: there are so many “call-backs”, “Easter eggs” and “winks” that the geek inside me was on over-drive and was just having the time of his life.

It is of course one that plays to the fans, and one wonders what it’ll do to the average moviegoer, but hey, how many of those are left these days anyway?

If this is what’s needed to get people back in the cinema, well please, give me more of this!

It’s very hard to talk about this film without giving away some BIG spoilers (even if some of those are possibly the worst kept secrets in movie history), but it’s a film that starts on top gear and hardly slows down.

However, beyond the spectacular fights, the astonishing visual effects, the vertiginous swings across New York and overall sense of fun that bursts from every frame of this film, the moments that I will remember more than anything else were actually the most intimate ones. There are some truly heart-breaking scenes in this film, including a poignant ending which will leave you wanting to see Spider-Man 4 as soon as possible.

Tom Holland is once again a very likeable presence, showing not just his charisma, but also his vulnerability and playing on the fact that he is actually very young superhero (in fact the youngest of all the actors who previously played the character).

In the end, while this might not be the best Spider-Man movie out there – that trophy still belongs to Raimi’s second film with Tobey Maguire in my view), this was certainly the most enjoyable experience I’ve had in the cinema in years. And apparently I wasn’t the only one to feel that: there were a couple of moments in the (packed) auditorium where I was, when the whole crowd exulted and screamed with happiness, clapping and cheering at the screen, like I have hardly ever seen or heard before.

If this isn’t the joy of watching a film with an audience in the cinema, then what is?

4 stars as a film, but 5 (and more) as an experience with a crowd of people (hopefully Covid-free).

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.

Spider-Man – No Way Home is out in the cinema from today (if you can find a ticket… that is)

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: December Books by Anna Klerfalk

See also: Aladdin at the Lyric, Hammersmith – Review

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Worried about someone sleeping rough? Download the StreetLink app

Rough sleeping is dangerous at the best of times, but it is especially deadly as temperatures drop during the winter. If you’ve ever passed someone sleeping rough and wondered how you can help, there’s an app for that.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, working in partnership with the charity StreetLink, have an app which members of the public can use to flag rough sleepers to outreach workers who can check on their safety, offer support and help them identify a route off the street. Someone who finds themselves sleeping on the streets can also report their situation using the same method.

Though the app has been around since 2012 it has since seen renewed popularity after going viral on the Mayor of London’s Instagram account.

In 2019, following a campaign by the Mayor, Londoners made a record number of referrals to StreetLink, with more than 5,000 rough sleepers helped as a direct result of alerts from members of the public.

Funded by the Mayor’s office, StreetLink developed a London website to give Londoners the latest information about homeless outreach services in the capital and what they can do to help.

You can download the StreetLink app from their website streetlink.org.uk.

Above: Tweet from StreetLink

Annual fundraising campaign underway and new emergency hotel opened for rough sleepers

Sadiq Khan visited a ‘homelessness hub’ in Hounslow at the beginning of December to launch what has become an annual fundraising campaign to help tackle homelessness and rough sleeping. Hounslow’s homeless hubs are services funded by the Mayor’s previous winter homelessness campaign. 

This is the fourth year TAP London, a volunteer-led non-profit organisation, has partnered with the Mayor to help improve the lives of homeless Londoners through contactless technology and online fundraising.

During the first lockdown, the Government’s Everyone In scheme provided additional emergency accommodation to rough sleepers. As the scheme was wound down earlier this year, 2,512 individuals were still living in hotels and other emergency accommodation. Homeless charities warned at the time that many of these people could end up returning to the streets when the Everyone In programme ended. 

As temperatures in London continue to plummet, the Sadiq Khan has stepped up additional measures for rough sleepers in the capital, including hotel accommodation in East London.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan plans to spend a record £1.25 million on Severe Weather Emergency Protocol services this year to ensure rough sleepers are off the streets on the coldest days of winter.

In London, one in every 53 people is homeless according to Shelter.

Image above: Sadiq Khan visits LB Hounslow (2 December) to launch annual homelessness fundraising campaign

Tackling rough sleeping ‘a priority’ for Mayor and LB Hounslow

Sadiq Khan said:

“Since becoming Mayor, I have made tackling rough sleeping a personal priority and we are finally starting to see sustained results with the number of rough sleepers falling in recent years – but there is still much to do.

“From City Hall and across London we are doing everything we can with the resources at our disposal to keep rough sleepers safe, especially during freezing conditions.”

Leader of Hounslow Council, Cllr Steve Curran, said during the Mayor’s visit in December:

“Hounslow Council works closely with the Mayor and the Greater London Authority to ensure we do everything we can to end homelessness, help individuals into temporary accommodation and provide the longer-term support they need for a better future.

“The Mayor’s visit to a homelessness hub in Hounslow today, a service funded by the Mayor’s previous winter homelessness campaign, is an example of the work the Mayor, local authorities and charities are doing to make tackling homelessness a priority and support anyone who is facing the prospect of sleeping rough.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: New strategy for tackling homelessness

See also: NHS website crashes as people rush to book booster jabs

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.