Fuller’s Griffin Brewery Christmas party

Asahi threw a party on Saturday for workers at the Griffin Brewery and their families and also their neighbours on Chiswick Mall.

Several hundred people went, including the Mayor of Hounslow Councillor Bishnu Gurung, the Epsom and Ewell Silver Band, Chiswick Choir (recently renamed the West London Chorus), who sang carols and Professor James Arnott & Mr. Punch.

There were games and activities for the children and beer and food for the adults. A more low key affair than usual because of the uncertainty of the times vis a vis the new variant of Covid, but a good time was had by those who went.

Pictures by Stuart Bailey, courtesy of Asahi.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick School shortlisted for ‘Outstanding drama department’ award

See also: Cheap theatre tickets on sale to support West End recovery

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Andrea’s film review – The French Dispatch

The French Dispatch ⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

A love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional twentieth century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in “The French Dispatch Magazine”. Out in selected cinemas.

Let me just start by saying that I really think Wes Anderson is one of the most gifted directors alive today; his distinctive and unique visual style has been studied and analysed in hundreds of essays and books and has now entered the popular culture, copied in countless viral videos and commercials and even parodied in an episode of The Simpsons – that’s a sign that you’ve really made it!

The symmetrical compositions, the long sideways tracking shots, the crash-zooms, the colour palette, the different screen aspect ratios are just some of the director’s trademarks. The themes about grief, dysfunctional families, adultery, unlikely friendships, rivalry are always infused with a dry deadpan wit which makes them feel unique.

All of the above are present in this film too. In fact, this might be one of the best-looking films he’s made. You could pause the film at any frame, somehow print it and hang it in any art gallery and it would look stunning.

So, how can a film so beautiful feel so dull, distant and ultimately quite boring?

One word that comes to mind: indulgence!

Wes is so intent at making his frames look perfect that he seems to have forgotten to give us a story to latch onto. He’s so keen to make his characters quirky, weird and eccentric, he failed to make us care or even be remotely interested in any of them, beyond the odd smile here and there.

I find no pleasure in rubbishing this film, but one has to be honest. I was bored, bored bored. I found it almost impenetrable and not even the infinite array of actors kept me interested. Just to mention some of them: Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Bill Murray, Christoph Waltz, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Liev Schreiber, Jason Schwartzman and Anjelica Huston as the narrator, or at least one of them.

The pacing seems to be on one note, with this constant piano music playing under every scene, which makes it all feel even slower.

It is possibly true that for every Rushmore to The Royal Tenenbaums there’s always a The Darjeeling Limited and for every The Grand Budapest Hotel (one of the most enjoyable of the last few years) there’s a Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou.

I’m very aware that there are Wes Anderson fans out there who will still think this is another “masterpiece” and I’m happy for them. So take my comments with pinch of salt.

Wes has never been too interested in storytelling or in engaging with his audience on an emotional level, but with this film he just lost me completely.

The fact that it all looks so good makes the disappointment for The French Dispatch even greater.

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

The French Dispatch is out in selected cinemas (but you can also stream it online).

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.

 

Chiswick School shortlisted for ‘Outstanding School Drama Department’ Award 2022

Chiswick School say they are ‘delighted’ that the school has been shortlisted for the ‘Outstanding School Drama Department’ award in the prestigious National Music and Drama Education Awards 2022.

Over the past few years the performing arts have thrived at the school, with staff saying it has emerged as a ‘real strength’. Performances have ranged from Peter Weiss’s Marat/Sade, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, and many other original pieces lead by the Director of Performing Arts, Mr Robinson. A recent dance show involved over 70 students and included choreography by Georgia Knight.

The awards ceremony is in March and the school is planning many more productions before then.

They have just finished a production of Alice, which head teacher Laura Ellener said was:

“A brilliant show and wonderful collaboration with the art dept who helped create a spectacular set. As usual Tom Robinson makes the magic happen with some truly incredible young people”.

Image above: Production of Alice, December 2021

Chiswick School “Inspirational”

Laura Ellener said:

“At the end of the summer term we had a three week extravaganza planned for when Covid restrictions were lifted. Unfortunately this didn’t happen until the last week of term. Unfazed, we went for five different productions in the same week!  We have a mantra at Chiswick School ‘make it happen!’ and we do.”

Year 7 parent Professor Shahmanesh said:

“Drama, dance and music bring such joy and have such an important place in young children’s learning. After over a year of disrupted learning, where music, drama and other enrichment has been particularly hard hit, it was so wonderful for my twins to come to Chiswick and find such a committed team providing huge extracurricular activities in dance, music and drama.

“The enthusiasm with which my twin daughter and son have spent hours after school and weekends preparing for the dance show and now Alice is such a joy to see. I am truly grateful for the time, effort and enthusiasm the teachers bring to all these extracurricular activities. The team are inspirational. The quality of the end products (shows) have been wonderful. I, and my family, am overwhelmed by gratitude for the joy that the shows this term have brought”

Images above: previous performances at Chiswick school

Mrs Emmett the Director of Transition said:

“The school is oversubscribed for the first time in recent years and it has been great seeing the new Year 7 students get the opportunity to perform for the first time since year 4. It has also been lovely to see parents and carers enjoying seeing their children in such high quality productions.”

Images above: December 2021 production of Alice

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Environmentalist Rebecca Frayn attacks Chiswick councillor Joanna Biddolph’s “undemocratic” and “deranged” behaviour

See also: Estate garden manager Geraldine King to leave Chiswick House

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 – Clifford the big red dog

Clifford the big red dog ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

A young girl’s love for a tiny puppy named Clifford makes the dog grow to an enormous size. Showing at Chiswick Cinema.

The stories of Clifford, a red oversized dog – and I really mean a giant 10 feet tall and 25 feet long dog – and his friend Emily have been around since 1963 in a series of books for children by American author and cartoonist Norman Ray Bridwell. There are about 80 of them, mainly short whimsical and heart-warming bedtime stories about friendship and love.

The books were first adapted into an animated TV series for young children back in 2000, which retained its charming and innocent look and feel, though infamously one episode was temporarily banned in the US for featuring a lesbian couple.

Its first attempt to hit the big screen in 2004 in the form of a CGI-animated feature, with the voices of John Ritter and John Goodman, resulted in a modest success among the audiences (let’s be honest, mainly young kids and their hostages…. erm.. I mean, parents or carers), but it received very mixed reviews.

And now after being in the pipeline for almost a decade, here’s the chance to redeem the character in a real-life version… Well, sort of “real life” because actually the dog is completely CGI, with very mixed results. Even the photo they use to publicise the film looks a bit fake… Not that the children would know anyway, so who cares?

In its translation to film, the story has lost a lot of that charming innocence from the originals, to make way for slapstick, action, some superfluous subplots about “being yourself” and a gratuitous baddie.

It goes without saying that nothing here is at all surprising: everything goes through the motions, exactly as you would expect, in a rather undemanding way.

Jack Whitehall was probably the highlight for me: charming and at times actually quite funny. He speaks with an American accent, only to break into his own voice pretending to be British at some point in the film just to annoy his sister. On the other hand John Cleese, who probably did one or two days’  work on this, is instantly forgettable.

Of course, despite being slashed to pieces by the critics, it’s perfectly fine for what it is and it really has no pretence to be anything else but a slightly old fashion, undemanding (and uninspired) story with plenty of cheesy moments, toilet humour… and a cute puppy.

The children are likely to enjoy this, so I guess on that front it does the job. However we know only too well from two Paddington movies (incidentally a third one will begin filming next year), that these sort of stories could be done so much better.

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

Clifford the big red dog is on in cinemas now.

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.

NHS website crashes as people rush to book booster jabs

Rush to book booster jabs

As I write this on Monday night (13 December) the NHS website for booking Covid jabs has crashed. The prime minister went on air on Sunday (yesterday) to warn of a ‘tidal wave’ of the Omicron virus and brought the vaccination programme forward.

All over-18s who had their second dose of the vaccine at least three months ago are now entitled to get their booster. More than half a million people booked their Covid booster jab on Monday despite the website crashing and long queues formed at walk-in vaccination sights.

Health practitioners have voiced their doubts as to whether it is possible to administer the one million doses daily which would be required to get the population triple jabbed by the end of the month. Dr Andrew Parker, a medical doctor in Kent commented on social media:

“Nobody has anything left in the tank Boris, let alone enough to double vaccinations. I’m supposed to be on leave next week, sorely needed. I’m sat here wondering if I should cancel it, whilst crying over the thought of it.”

Another healthcare worker wrote:

“I’m an APM, on leave next week. Our PCN  (primary care network) just opted back into the booster campaign & I was heavily involved in running our clinic last time. I’m not cancelling my leave though, I haven’t had a full week of leave since December 2019.”

To find the nearest walk-in centres enter your postcode here.

Image above: No testing kits available notice

No testing kits available

From today (Tuesday 14 December), fully-vaccinated people in England who come into contact with any Covid case should take lateral flow tests for seven days.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has been doing the rounds of TV News studios urging everyone to ‘take a free lateral flow test’ before meeting with people, to combat the Omicron Covid variant but even as he was giving this message on Monday the government website was temporarily suspended amid high demand.

Rupa Huq MP for Ealing Central and Acton Tweeted the picture above and the comment:

“Same story everywhere… this daily testing malarkey not going to the most flying start ever.”

People cancel bookings for parties and meals out as new restrictions come into force

Covid restrictions were reintroduced on Monday:

  • Face coverings are required by law in most indoor settings
  • Office workers who can work from home should do so
  • From 15 December, certain (mainly large) venues and events will be required by law to check that all visitors aged 18 years or over are fully vaccinated, have proof of a negative test in the last 48 hours, or have an exemption

The rules governing restaurants and pubs have not changed but even before the prime minister made his announcement on Sunday, businesses in the hospitality trade in Chiswick were already experiencing a deluge of cancellations of meals and parties.

One pub, which would not thank me for naming them, said they had received 60 cancellations in two days. Another local business, a high end caterer, told me they had lost big corporate clients whose business was worth thousands of pounds. First they rang to say they were cutting back on the numbers at their Christmas party, then they rang to say they were cancelling it altogether and wanted their deposit back.

Pubs are “safe and welcoming environments” says Fuller’s chief

Chief Executive of Fuller’s Simon Emeny

The Chief Executive of Fuller’s Simon Emeny put out a statement on Friday on a bid to stem the flow:

“I wanted to reassure all of our guests that you can continue to enjoy the festive season in our pubs and be confident that they are safe and welcoming environments.

“While masks are not required in hospitality settings, we understand that some people feel more comfortable with them on – and we are supportive of any team members and customers who prefer to wear them. We also continue to be vigilant about the cleaning and sanitising within our pubs to ensure they are safe places for our teams to work and our guests to relax.

“I am so proud of the way our teams, across all of our pubs, have reacted to the challenges they have faced both this year and last – and I’m so proud of the way our customers have supported them.

“Working in a pub or hotel is a very sociable job, and our teams are friendly people who survive and thrive on social interaction. I’d like to thank you for giving us your custom and recognising the steps we’ve taken to keep you safe. Your visits mean the world to us – and I know how pleased our teams are to see you all during these difficult times.

“Our pubs are warm – and the welcome is even warmer – so we hope to see you very soon.”

The Griffin Brewery welcomed friends and family on Saturday – workers at the brewery with their families and neighbours who live around the brewery. There were games for the the children, beer and food for the adults and carols from Chiswick Choir, recently renamed the West London Chorus.

In previous years the brewery has held an open day, publicising it much more widely to the whole of Chiswick, but this year’s event was kept deliberately low kew.

Covid numbers in Chiswick

Most of England has turned purple again on the government’s Covid tracker map, indicating case rates of between 400 and 799 per 100,000 people. Parts of Fulham and Hammersmith, including Brook Green and Brackenbury are coloured black on the map, showing case rates of higher than 800, as are parts of South Ealing, Elthorne Park and Hanwell.

In Chiswick the latest figures for the seven days to 8 December are these:

Chiswick south west – total (new) cases 60, up 9 (17.6%). Case rate per 100,000 people – 724

Chiswick south east – total (new) cases 57, up 10 (21.3%). Case rate per 100,000 people – 643.7

Chiswick Park – total (new) cases 59, up 17 (40.5%). Case rate per 100,000 people – 662.3

Bedford Park – total (new) cases 34, down 19 (-35.8.5%). Case rate per 100,000 people – 492.3

Chiswick north east – total (new) cases 55, up 11 (25.0%). Case rate per 100,000 people – 656.1

Chiswick north west – total (new) cases 45, up 1 (2.3%). Case rate per 100,000 people – 660.4

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Environmentalist Rebecca Frayn attacks Chiswick councillor Joanna Biddolph’s “undemocratic” and “deranged” behaviour

See also: Gunnersbury station rated worst Underground station in London

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.

Episode 74: Two festive offerings from Henry Blofeld

Cricket authors (and obsessives) Peter Oborne and Richard Heller launched a podcast early in 2020 to help deprived listeners endure a world without cricket. They’re no longer deprived of cricket, but still chat regularly about cricket topics with different guests each week – cricket writers, players, administrators and fans – hoping to keep a good line and length but with occasional wides into other subjects.

The incomparable Henry Blofeld switches on the festive lights as the guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their latest cricket-themed podcast. Henry explains his choice of the nailbiting finishes in the cricket matches beautifully described in his latest book Ten To Win… And The Last Man In. He also describes his recently-completed project: a three-part documentary of his full and vivid life.


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Henry opens with a simple theory to explain England’s Ashes successes in Australia – or more recently, failures: the presence or not of reliable opening batsmen. Minute 1

As to the book, Henry distinguishes the matches he actually saw, to which he gives some personal perspective and the earlier historic ones which have always fascinated him. These begin with “Spofforth’s match” in 1880 (“I was late for that one”). Nearly all of them are Test Matches, which he regards as the highest form of the game, although one pushed to the margins by the proliferation of shorter-form competitions. 2-5 minutes

One exception is “Fowler’s Match”: Eton versus Harrow 1910. Henry tells the hilarious story of the senior Etonian who abandoned the match in despair only to hurtle back to Lord’s in mid-haircut on learning the score in Harrow’s second innings. He reflects on the melancholy casualties among the players in the Great War, but also describes the huge social significance the fixture retained, with fashionable crowds in tens of thousands attending the two matches he played in the 1950s. 5-11 minutes

Another non-Test match he selected was the surprising victory of the side selected by the veteran former England captain, Archie MacLaren, over the all-conquering Australian visitors of 1921. It was watched by MacLaren’s chief cheerleader, Neville Cardus: the hero was another veteran, Aubrey Faulkner. 12-17 minutes

Turning to his choice of the Sydney Test between Australia and England, Henry describes its hero, Frank Tyson, and shares Don Bradman’s assessment that he was the fastest bowler of all time. Henry describes a memorable confrontation of his own with Tyson after he had retired from cricket and was living in Australia – provoked by a borrowed sweater. 21-24 minutes

He reflects on Bradman, whose massive accumulation of runs is remembered less fondly than the artistry of Victor Trumper and Ranjitsinhi. He describes two delightful memorabilia of Ranjitsinhi which were recently given to him. 25-27 minutes

Henry is able to share his love and knowledge of P G Wodehouse, by recording his presence in the crowd at “Jessop’s Match”: England’s victory at the Oval in 1902, earned with a legendary last-wicket stand between George Hirst and Wilfred Rhodes. Another spectator was a schoolboy who would become the playwright Ben Travers. Henry recalls his excited recollections of the match (in his 90s) as a guest on Test Match Special.  28-30 minutes

One of the great finishes Henry saw himself was the draw in Georgetown in 1968, earned by England’s last pair, Alan Knott and Jeff Jones, against the West Indies. He reveals the remarkable content of their mid-pitch conference before the last over, faced by Jones, a number 11 with no batting pretensions, against the great Lance Gibbs. His experience in the press box that day leads him to describe his up-and-down relationship with E W Swanton. 31-36 minutes

Henry defends his choice of the 1957 Birmingham Test, when Peter May and Colin Cowdrey wore down the West Indian spinner Sonny Ramadhin with pad play in a massive stand. Ramadhin bowled 98 of the 258 overs in the England innings: it was no consolation to him that the Laws of cricket were changed to prevent a repeat performance. It leads Henry to  mention the record sequence of maiden overs bowled by the Indian spinner, Bapu Nadkarni, at a touring England side in the 1960s of which he (Henry) nearly became an emergency member. 37-44 minutes

Henry outlines the three one-day matches he selected, including the 2019 World Cup Final and the Women’s World Cup Final in 2017, won for England through a late burst of wickets by Anya Shrubsole. They had shown the same dramatic unpredictability which made his Test Matches so memorable. 44-47 minutes

Henry then describes the shooting at his beautiful home in Norfolk of the documentary of his life, in substitution for a planned theatrical tour wrecked by Covid. It has been edited into three half-hour sections. The first deals with his cricket upbringing, in Norfolk and then at Eton and Cambridge, terminated by an innings defeat at the hands of the examiners. The second tells the story of his escape from the City into cricket reporting, commentating and broadcasting, the third is about his post-broadcasting life, including theatre and television, the Best Marigold hotel, and cruise ships. He describes his other home in Menorca and its delightful (and arduously created) cricket club. 48-56 minutes

Ten To Win…And The Last Man In is published by Hodder & Stoughton.

The documentary, At Home With Henry, can be downloaded from Henry’s Twitter feed @blowersh from December 18.

Get in touch with us by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com, we would love to hear from you!

Listen to more episodes of Oborne & Heller

Previous Episode – Episode 73: Tanya Aldred and the global pressure to save cricket from climate change

Listen to all episodes – Oborne & Heller on Cricket

Peter Oborne & Richard Heller

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

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

Oborne & Heller cricketing partnership

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

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

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

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Chiswick Computers – lifesavers in the modern world

Images above: Chiswick Computers, 349 King Street

“We build computers, fix them and support”

Chiswick Computers has an unassuming little shop front on King Street in Hammersmith, next to Tesco, but inside they do miracles. Or so it seemed to me when Steve Bonnici and his team rescued The Chiswick Calendar a couple of years ago when my old computer died.

They were able to access all my data and save it for me, without which The Chiswick Calendar would have been no more. It is perhaps a little glib to call them ‘lifesavers’ but when every aspect of your life is recorded in a plastic box that refuses to play ball, it is at the very least disconcerting.

I am not the only one to have found their services efficient, reliable, speedy and reasonably priced. Chiswick Computers has more than 500 Five Star reviews –  75 as a Which Trusted Trader, every review individually reviewed by the Which Trusted Trader team to ensure its authenticity, others on Yell, Google and Facebook. Other local businesses attest to their quality too. They have been voted one of the top three computer shops in London.

“It’s very important to all the staff and engineers here at Chiswick Computers that you get a very positive experience when you come to us” says Steve.

“We understand how important your computer is to you – not just the hardware but the data on it: the photos, the music and all those personal documents – and we will always strive to give you the best experience possible.”

Steve set up Chiswick Computers in 2003 and quickly established a good reputation amongst residents and businesses alike. His team troubleshoot, diagnose, build, maintain and repair any brand of laptop and desktop computers.

About 50% of their repairs are now on Apple computers including iMac’s, MacBook’s and Macbook Pros. Chiswick Computers also offers a computer repair service for printers and repair most makes of tablet or mobile phone including both Apple and Samsung. Other services include remote support, backup, virus removal, data recovery, help with Windows problems, MacOS support.

Image above: Services on offer on Chiswick Computers’ website

“We offer three main services: we build computers, we fix them and we support.

“Support comes in many different flavours. You can come in to see us or we can come to you. Of course we can talk to you on the telephone and give you help and advice, or by email, and when you’re travelling or maybe it’s just a very small job, we can just do it by remote support. Remote support helps us cut down costs for you.”

Chiswick Computers carry out a range of repairs including liquid spillages, hard drive replacement, screen replacement and keyboard replacement as well as software repairs like updates to Windows and non booting computers.

“We offer a no fix, no fee guarantee, which means that if we cannot fix your laptop or your desktop we won’t charge you a penny.

“We can also build you a new computer. We like to build high-end, quality desktops. They’re built for performance, for speed and for reliability and they’re usually aimed at the client who wants more from his or her computer.

“If you are a gamer then talk to us because we have built some very high end gaming machines as well as entry level ones” explains Steve.

Images above: Laptop repair; Business computer build; Gaming computer build

“They are able to provide tremendous, detailed support and help and advice”

Their clients range from for home users, through small business to corporates. They offer a wide range of support services from one off support to monthly remote monitoring and management.

Francesca Roberts, CEO of Crash, has worked with Chiswick Computers for over ten years.

“I think for small businesses or small charities it is really difficult to find good quality IT help and support and one of the great things about Chiswick Computers is that regardless of the size of the organisation, they are able to provide tremendous, detailed support and help and advice.

“We’ve found their prices are extremely fair, the advice is excellent and that they are able to give us a tailored service, a bespoke service that is absolutely right for our charity.”

Local estate agent Andrew Nunn said he would recommend Steve to other businesses because of the personal service he was able to offer and the speed of his response and also his problem solving abilities:

“I don’t think we have ever had a problem that Steve has said ‘Oh I can’t do it, we need to get somebody else in. To be honest the service has been fairly faultless so far”.

Hugh Caldin, a director of the International Refugee Trust, said:

“Chiswick Computers have helped me in every way with computers because I know nothing about them. They have helped maintain our computers while I’ve been developing my business and if I have any problems I can bring them straight in or I can just phone and Steve listens and will deal with the problems I have online.

“And also we buy our computers through Steve. Again it’s an excellent experience because he listens to what we need, he understands what we need, he interrogates us as to what we need and as a result what we buy in the end is exactly what we want.

Image above: Desktops – they can make it look like this, but it’s up to you to keep the desk space clear!

Chiswick Computers is open Monday to Friday 9am until 6pm and on Saturday from 12 noon until 4pm. Closed Sunday. On a weekday the shop can often be found open as early as 8am but always call in advance if you plan to visit before the official 9am start time. They offer appointments for people who can only get to them outside regular office hours and will open early or stay late to accommodate them.

Their labour carries a 75 day warranty. Replacement parts and new computers or peripherals come with different warranty lengths of which you will be notified about at the time of your repair or purchase.

With more people working from home it has become increasingly important for them to get their home office set up right. We are delighted that Chiswick Computers are part of The Chiswick Calendar Club Card scheme.

See their current offer to Club Card holders here.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

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

See also: Police patrol poorly lit areas of Chiswick

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.

Hundreds of Chiswick homes at “high flood risk”

Image above: Flooding in Acton Lane earlier this year

Council report published

Hundreds of homes in Chiswick are at high risk flood areas according to a report commissioned for LB Hounslow.

The details emerged with the publication of the Updated Surface Water Management Plan (SWMP), commissioned to help Council understand the causes and effects of surface water flooding and to assist them in finding the most cost-effective way of managing flood risk in the borough.

Surface water flooding occurs when the volume of rainfall exceeds the capacity of drains and surface water sewers and is unable to drain away through drainage systems or soak into the land. It is intensified in urban areas were there is much impermeable ground.

Excess water can pond at local low points and often forms flow pathways along roads, built up areas or open spaces. When heavy rain falls, water tends to flow down from the Bollo Lane area into the middle of Chiswick towards the Thames. In recent storms businesses along the High Rd were flooded and cars stuck in flash floods.

In the report the borough is divided into a number of catchment areas to assess the risk of surface water flooding. Consultants Metis concluded more than 400 properties in Chiswick were at risk from a once in a century weather event with over 3,000 at risk from a once in a millennium event.

The report identified 35 hot spots across the borough of especially high risk, five of which are not part of ongoing modelling projects by Hounslow and other boroughs. Two of these hotspots which have not as yet been modelled are in Chiswick, one in Edensor Road.

Part of the report which shows more detailed information as to the location of the at risk properties has been prepared but not yet published by the council.

Image above: Chiswick High Rd flooded earlier this year

Council implementing flood prevention measures

To help mitigate the problem of surface water flooding in Hounslow, the Council says it has already put into place some measures.

The Council is working with Thames Water and the GLA on the feasibility of several long-term projects around Hounslow to introduce improved and sustainable drainage systems to help tackle flooding in the future.

The Thames Water Strategic Partnership (TWSP) is a five-year project running from 2020-2025 which will see ‘£3million invested to improve surface water management by incorporating sustainable drainage systems across the Borough’.

LB Hounslow is also working with the Environment Agency on area-specific Flood Alleviation schemes which will cover Northwest Hounslow; Feltham; Isleworth and Brentford End; Chiswick and Grove Park which will involve installing sustainable drainage systems.

Hounslow Highways already uses specialist equipment regularly to unblock gutters and drains around the borough to prevent localised flooding issues.

Images above: Drains failing to cope with the amount of surface water in Hammersmith and Barnes earlier this year

Sign up to flood warnings, warns councillor

Cllr Pritam Grewal, Hounslow Council Cabinet Member for Contingency Planning, Resilience and Flood Risk Management said:

“Unfortunately we saw a number of flooding incidents during heavy rain this summer and this Plan sets out what we intend to do to try and minimise the effects of flooding for residents as part of our wider Climate Emergency Action Plan.

“Every flooded house causes considerable expense, not to mention the stress and emotional toll, so we would encourage residents to also take action to reduce the risk of flooding if they can, and make sure they are prepared in advance if flooding does occur.

“Planning ahead can mean checking your home’s flood risk and signing up to flood warnings, as well as taking some simple steps such as checking your insurance, knowing how to turn off your gas, electricity and water or finding out where to go to get help.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Climate change: ‘no time for delay and no room for excuses’

See also: Gunnersbury station voted worst London Underground station

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.

Police patrol poorly lit areas in Chiswick

Police have started to patrol poorly lit areas of the Chiswick, after safety concerns were raised by residents.

As part of the ‘StreetSafe’ scheme, officers are patrolling alleyways in Chiswick which have been flagged as areas where people feel unsafe, such as the alleyway which runs parallel to the Turnham Green Tube station.

StreetSafe is a pilot service which allows anyone to anonymously report public places of concern. Concerns may be related to environmental issues, such as street lighting, abandoned buildings and vandalism. The police want worrying behaviours, such as being followed or verbally abused to be reported on it also.

London Underground users ranking London’s Tube stations have rated Gunnersbury the worst, with one describing the alleyway behind it as ‘rapey’.

For more information on StreetSafe or to flag an area you are worried about, click here.

Hounslow councillors clash over improved street lighting

The Conservative group on Hounslow council have been lobbying to increase streetlight levels across the borough in order to reduce black spots, since the fatal stabbing of Rishmeet Singh in Southall. They think improved lighting would make streets safer at night.

LB Hounslow voted against improved street lighting in the borough, with Labour councillors claiming street lighting had no impact on crime in the borough. The Cabinet Member for Highways, Recycling and Companies, Guy Lambert, said there was “no evidence that lighting is contributing to crime in Hounslow.”

The Cabinet Member for Communities and Climate Emergency, Katherine Dunne, agreed that improved street lighting would make no difference and said women did not want to be “fobbed off by increased street lighting.”

In response the Conservative candidate for Chiswick Homefields, Jack Elmsey Tweeted:

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Gunnersbury station rated worst London tube station

See also: Environmentalist Rebecca Frayn attacks Chiswick councillor Joanna Biddolph’s “undemocratic” and “deranged” behaviour

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 wildlife – Birds

What’s happening at the birdfeeder?

Guest blog by Jo Gilbert, WildChiswick 

A lot more than you think you see! A fascinating and informative talk by Mike Toms from the British Trust of Ornithology (BTO), hosted by WildChiswick, revealed some facts that may surprise you.

BTO is one of those fantastic British institutions that has been around many years and without which we would know very little about our native birds and migratory visitors. BTO and their staff have been studying birds since the 1930s and at present have over 60,000 volunteers on the ground helping them with their research.

With so much data at their fingertips BTO can track changes in avian behaviour and reasons for any change can be investigated.

Mike spoke to us about why gardens are good for our birds. It appears that your garden is very important for our feathered friends, but they still take time out in the countryside as well.

In Britain, we love our birds. We spend £200 million a year on food to feed them. Other than the attraction of the food with which we supplement our birds’ diet, they are also attracted to gardens by water and the presence of trees, either in the garden, or nearby.

One garden alone is not enough. The importance of our gardens is that together they can create a green space, so it is collectively, that our gardens are important. If you look at a map of London, the area is quite green, and this is due to our gardens. The greener and more wildlife friendly we can keep our gardens then the more birds (and other wildlife) are likely to visit and flourish.

Image above: Robin on a fork; photograph Tommy Holden for the British Trust of Ornithology

Our gardens are supplemental for our birds. They are aware that food is there when they need it, yet many of them will eat wild foods from the surrounding countryside before moving into our suburban and urban areas.

Not all species find breeding in our gardens as suitable as the countryside either. A good example of this is the long-tailed tit. BTO Garden Watch data shows that this species will be in our gardens through the winter and autumn yet disappear during the summer months when they breed.

Robins too, find the countryside more attractive for breeding. More robins are found in the countryside than suburban and then urban environments. Of course, some of us are lucky to have birds breed in our gardens, not every bird stays in the countryside, but the preference remains.

In the suburban/urban environment there are pros and cons for our birds. The temperature stays warmer than out in the countryside and combined with global warming, migratory birds are staying longer on our shores.

Supplemental feeding is proving to be important for birds whose natural foods are being reduced in the countryside due to changes in agricultural methods. Wood pigeons are much more common in our gardens than previously, and they do tend to stay all year round – one species that is quite happy to breed in towns.

The beautiful goldfinch is another bird which now visits our gardens more often. This is due our feed mixes now containing a wider variety of seeds than in previous decades. This is proving a good supplement for a bird that is finding its food sources much rarer as wildflowers disappear from the countryside.

Birds visiting urban environments show changes in behaviour. Some species are beginning to show bold traits.  Blue tits for example are usually the winners on the bird feeder.  Shyer birds may miss out on the best of the daily meal.

You may have heard robins singing at night. This is not due to the street lighting as first thought but is because they can be heard at night by other robins when it is quieter. Birds need to be heard to find a mate and for young chicks to call out and be heard by their mothers. House Sparrows, for example, breed less in noisy environments. Blackbirds also change their pitch and drop notes from their call when the environment is noisy, so they can still be heard.

It appears that like some humans, birds can suffer from stress in the urban environment.  Research on Blackbirds show that those in urban environments suffer from genetic damage. Chromosomes are protected by telomeres which sit at the end of each chromosome. In urban blackbirds these are shorter than those in the countryside. This means they may die earlier consequently. However, it is believed that the benefits to be found in the urban environment outweigh the possible risk of an earlier death.

A more pressing cause of death for our birds is disease. Green finches are a good example of this. As a species they were stable from 1996 until 2005. From 2006 onwards there was clearly a steep decline in numbers. It was found that this was due to a protozoan parasite called Trichomonosis. This is normally found in aviary birds such as doves, pheasants and pigeons. It is believed the disease was spread via bird feeders as wood pigeons began to visit urban sites more frequently.

Unfortunately, a quarter of our green finches were lost, and they are struggling to regain their numbers. Some of you may have noticed a reduction in our blackbirds this year. I certainly have, and several people have asked me the cause. BTO has also noticed this decline through their data collection this year.  The decline is quite prominent in the London Area. BTO are of the belief that this is also caused by disease, and they will be sharing their finding shortly.

Images above: Jay bird (left); photograph Mark Lawson; Blackbird photograph Edmund Fellowes for the British Trust of Ornithology

BTO say that overall feeding and taking care of our birds in the urban environment is a good thing. Mike recommends we look at how different species use our gardens. He recommends sunflower hearts and seed mixes for our urban bird feeders. He suggests looking at where to feed birds.

For example, birds such as wrens and robins prefer to be ground feeders. They feel safer amongst shrubbery. Look at what you grow in your garden. Plant a tree if you can. Shrubs and ground cover too. Shrubs with berries are also good for our birds.  Include water in your garden – a pond or bird bath. Clean your bird feeders regularly to help stop the spread of disease. If you see a bird looking lethargic on you bird feeder then clean the bird feeders straight away and do not put food out for another two weeks.

As mentioned already, most birds prefer the countryside or wooded areas for breeding. If you do want to encourage breeding, then put out bird boxes.  Mike suggests that again you think about what type of bird visits your garden as this will affect what kind of nesting box they will like. The box needs to be a reasonable so for a brood to hatch and grow in. The size of hole should be about 32mm for a sparrow and down to 26mm for a blue tit. Do not place next to a bird feeder, in the prevailing wind or where there is full sun. Find a bit of cover to put it amongst if you can.

Finally, Mike asked us to look at the food we are buying. Not all foods are equal with regard their impact on climate change. Some are imported from quite far abroad. I had a quick check online and found several British Grown bird food suppliers, so it is possible to buy British!

If you would like to join the BTO as a volunteer and contribute to their research, then please visit bto.org where you will find out how you can get on board.

WildChiswick is a local community group with the aim of creating more awareness of the wildlife around Chiswick and inspiring people to protect or enhance our urban wildlife habitats.  

wildchiswick.com

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Environmentalist Rebecca Frayn attacks Chiswick councillor Joanna Biddolph’s “undemocratic” and “deranged” behaviour

See also: Estate garden manager Geraldine King to leave Chiswick House

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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To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Christmas is coming – get the cheese ready! Sunday 19 December

Guest Blog by Donna Freed

The December Chiswick Cheese Market will be amped up for Christmas this Sunday, 19 December. Think a Christmas market – gifts, the waft of pine, warming wassail wine – with a cheesy flair!

At the Chiswick Cheese Market headquarters we will be giving away a cup of hot, mulled cheer. Also at our stall you will find work from two local artists.

National food treasure Elisabeth Luard’s cheese and food themed watercolours (£15-£18 unframed) were included in the ‘great gifts’ list in November’s Observer Food Monthly.

Celia Pickering is a local artist and art teacher whose rich and colourful, cheese inspired works on cotton paper will be available both framed and unframed.

Image above: Stilton by Elizabeth Luard

Last few tickets for top tasting!

Robin Skailes of the historic Cropwell Bishop Creamery – who have been making Stilton and blue cheese in the traditional way for three generations – will guide you through his award-winning, signature cheeses.

Enrico Messaro of Heritage Cheese, sponsor of the tasting, is known as the King of Cheese but hails Robin Skailes as the God of Cheese! Robin will be bringing his heavenly Cropwell Bishop Blue Stilton, Beauvale and Blue Shropshire to the generous tasting.  

Tickets are £8, 12-1 PM 19th December at The Crown, Chiswick. Tickets available on Eventbrite here.

Images above: paintings by Celia Pickering

Crazy for Kimchi!

We are proud and honoured to be able to welcome Love Fermented to the market. They fit our bill in every way – an entirely home-made and local, cheese-friendly product that is outstanding on its own and is a marriage made in heaven with cheese.

The Kimchi toastie will be the must-eat dish of 2022. Get in early and start making your own gut-friendly toasties with the Good Food awarded kimchi! 

The kimchis and pickles are unpasteurised and naturally fermented for jars jam-packed with live, gut-friendly bacteria, proven to promote gut health and boost immunity. From their Pineapple Kimchi, Kick Ass Kimchi to the Beautiful Beetroot, they bring added zest, zip and gut goodness to any dish. 

Chloe’s Cheese Club is back and she will be offering this month’s rare and wonderful finds. Among her cheeses will be a 1780 Aged Reserve Blue (Tuxford and Tebbutt), a Rougette Bavarain Red Amber Mist and a Crotin St Ella Truffle Brie. A monthly subscription to the club is a perfect gift for the cheese-lover in your life.

The Olive Bar is your first and last stop for Chirstmas nibbles by the tree while the turkey is roasting away. You’d be welcome anywhere you turned up with Olive Bar tubs under your arm.

Any serious cheese lover needs a cheese board and we are lucky enough to have two purveyors of beautiful cheese boards and cutting boards Bradgate Woodwork and Kin Boards. Room and Roots also sell a selection of vintage bread and cheese boards.

All our regular traders are back and will be offering their regular wares alongside phenomenal gift ideas already packaged for you. Look for the hampers and boxes from Bianca Mora pairing their superb Red Cow parmesan with balsamic vinegar – a dreamy pairing, La Latteria have prepared Nonna-approved Italian goodies, 2 Pound Street and Marlow Cheese will also have a variety of hampers.

Making its market debut, Feltham’s Farm has created a beautiful bloomy white-rinded cheese from Somerset just in time for Christmas 2021. It is not a camembert or a brie but it is in that creamy and luxurious style.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Sophie Ellis-Bextor turns on Chiswick’s Christmas lights

See also: Is this the best restaurant in Chiswick?

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.

Brentford 2 Watford 1

In Brentford’s topsy-turvy history, ten minutes of this game will rightfully claim to remain long in the memory of those privileged to have been at the Community Stadium this chilly December evening.

Remove those specific ten minutes – including five added for stoppages – and it is a different story. For during much of the action, such as it was, the crowd could have been forgiven for thinking they were watching two sides auditioning for places in the Championship.

There were mitigating circumstances of course, especially in the players available for Thomas Frank’s team selection. What with Ivan Toney and Ethan Pinnock sidelined by Covid and a long injury list headed by David Raya, it was a makeshift group that lined up, Vitaly Janelt dropping into the back three and Yoane Wissa, later replaced by Marcus Forss, joining Bryan Mbeumo up front.

And it all started so well. Shandon Baptiste saw a shot finger-tipped over the bar and Mbeumo was thwarted only by Daniel Bachmann at full stretch (Watford’s England international keeper Ben Foster is one of head coach Claudio Ranieri’s own injury problems).

Images above: (left) no Raya, no Toney, no Pinnock: injury and Covid attempt to wreak havoc to the starting line-up, (middle) team captain and master of defence Pontus Jansson scored his first Brentford go, (right) final whistle and Joy to the World

Then the game went off-script as far as Brentford was concerned, with Joshua King clipping a post before – disaster! – the lively Emmanuel Dennis became the invisible man to the home defence to head a precise corner easily past Alvaro Fernández.

From then on it was a contest of toing and froing, with Brentford doing most of the toing – or is it the froing? – with bursts of attractive close passing that fizzled out by the edge of the penalty area, should it manage to get that far. Watford behaved similarly, but less frequently. BBC statistics show that the Bees had 63 per cent of possession against the opposition’s 37, which could be described as commanding if they could only have scored.

A note on the referee: those stats also show that Watford committed 18 fouls to Brentford’s 12 that demanded the attention of referee Michael Oliver. He distributed yellow cards to four of the home team and none to the visitors. He also managed to incur the ire of the Brentford players – and the crowd, who chorused ‘Can we have a referee! – which was just about his only noticeable contribution to the game.

Deep into the second half, Brentford were still making only minimal progress and their frustration grew with every failed attack. But six minutes from the end of normal time, perseverance paid off, a Janelt cross finding Forss and a possibly fortunate back header allowing the lurking Pontus Jansson to nod the ball home from close in.

It was the first Premier League goal for the captain, who has been lurking in similar positions in the hope of this very achievement for most of the season. He careered away in celebration with Charlie Goode racing ahead of him, which so confused those unable to identify instantly the scorer that Goode was credited with the goal over the PA system. All very Brentford, but there was more to come.

With just a minute of added time remaining, Saman Ghoddos bustled dangerously into the Watford penalty area and, having played the ball, was unceremoniously, and foolishly, brought down from behind by William Ekong. A penalty, but with Toney, the majestic converter in such situations absent, who to take it? Up stepped the master’s apprentice, who with a slight shimmy sent Bachmann tentatively to his right while Mbeumo clipped the ball into the vacant gap near the opposite post.

Pandemonium seized the day. The home fans immediately erupted into a celebration of such elation that heaven knows what they can do to top it should Brentford win the FA Cup. In the technical area, Thomas Frank put his hands over his eyes and his knees buckled in a spasm of released tension. Mbeumo took off in a joyous sprint, as well he might – he had played magnificently throughout and scored one of his recently rare goals imperiously.

Hard to believe, I observed to my mate Charlie, but it should give whatever team Thomas can put together a great lift for the next home game – Manchester United with quite likely Christiano Ronaldo hunting for goals

‘Who’s Christiano Ronaldo?’ said Charlie.

Brentford: Fernández, Goode, Jansson, Janelt; Roerslev, Baptiste, Nørgaard, Jensen (substitute Ghoddos), Henry (sub Onyeka), Mbeumo, Wissa (sub Forss).

Watford: Bachmann; Femenía, Troost-Ekong, Cathcart, Ngakia; Kucka, Sissoko, Hernández (sub Sema); Cleverley (sub Joäo Pedro) King, Dennis (sub Tufan).

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

Photographs by Liz Vercoe

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

A book publisher has come up with a novel and creative way to bring a bit of joy to terminally ill children.

The children’s publisher Ventorros Press is running a Christmas project to raise money to produce personalised, illustrated adventure stories in which the child to whom the book is given is the main character.

Not only are they the hero, but their book will be individualised with characters named after pets, friends and family members and illustrations allowing them to see themselves represented in their very own story.

This project was inspired by Ventorros’ publication of I give you The Moon by author Ffion Jones, inspired by the true story of Baran Akarka, an eight-year-old boy with a rare form of cancer, who died in January of 2021.

She wrote the touching personalised story for Baran and his sister Leyla after following updates about his illness and their relationship on Facebook.

Image above: Ffion Jones’ book I give you the Moon, published by Ventorros Press

Her story is about the power and endurance of sibling love. Gareth Jones’ illustrations bring that love to life on the pages.

Following Baran’s passing, his mother Annabel spoke about just how much the book had meant to both Baran and his family:

“When a child becomes seriously ill most of their time will now be spent in hospital and we know how physically and mentally draining this becomes for the child and the whole family,” she posted on Facebook.

This was the last book they read to Baran as he passed away, and this “one last adventure” gave “Baran and ourselves a lot of joy and comfort” she said.

“We’ve already sat down and read the book quite a few times as Leyla is mesmerised by the fact that her and Baran are in the book together.”

It is a “wonderful way to keep Baran’s memory alive” and will continue to “show Leyla how amazing her big brother was and still is.”

Managing director of Ventorros Press Graham Mulvein commented:

“When we heard how much Baran had loved the book, having it by his side when he passed away, we saw that there was a way we could bring a little light to other children in similar circumstances.”

Baran’s mother Annabel agreed:

“We believe many more children and families deserve this gift too.”

Given enough support, the publisher hopes to extend this venture to children with long-term health conditions, whose life is spent travelling in and out of hospitals.

For now, though, they hope their project will be able to provide some of the most poorly children with their very own magical escapism this Christmas.

A spokesperson for Ventorros Press said:

“If we can raise just £10,000, we will be able to brighten-up the days of around 15 children and their families.”

With two weeks left on their Kickstarter campaign, Ventorros have raised around a quarter of their £10,000 goal.

The campaign ends on 26 December and the fundraising page can be found here.

The campaign was highlighted to The Chiswick Calendar by the owner of literary agency Intersaga, Annaklarin Klerflak, who works with Ventorros. Anna is a regular contributor to The Chiswick Calendar with her monthly book recommendations.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Misbehaviour: feature film created by Rebecca Frayn

See also: Estate garden manager Geraldine King to leave Chiswick House

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Man in the Middle 79: My Covid Diary

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

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

No 79: My Covid Diary

Ground Zero

I realised something was wrong at about 2am. Normally, I just sleepwalk to the loo for an early morning pee. Mainly, this is uneventful.

But this morning, I woke with my joints aching and shaking involuntarily like a Mexican Jumping Bean after a heavy night out, downing shots of mezcal.

Even though I was wearing Santa Claus woollen pyjamas and socks, I was freezing. If I don’t get warm again soon, I thought, I’ll die of hypothermia and my wife will wake up next to a stone-cold yule log of a former husband.

I got up, turned the central heating on and the thermostat up to Climate Armageddon and returned to my bed.

‘What’s the matter?’ asked my wife, roused by all my huffing.

I held out my arms.

‘I can’t control my arms from shaking,’ I said.

‘It’s too late for jokes,’ said my wife.

‘Seriously. Either I’ve been possessed by the spirit of a Body Popping dancer or I’ve got Covid,’ I replied, rolled back under the duvet and slept for most of the next 24 hours.

Day 2

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Tea.

Day 3

Zzzzzzzzzzzz. Tea. Soup x 2. Clean teeth.

Day 4

Tea. Toast. Sausage sandwich at lunch. Watch Dog Soldiers on C4 (laughably bad). Advised to bathe by wife. Requires too much energy. Explain I fear drowning and clean teeth to show goodwill and commitment to household hygiene instead.

Day 5

Tea. Toast. Chicken salad. Soup. Attempt to read a book, but immediately fall asleep. Watch entire series of Shetland on BBC I Player in one sitting (nice place, quality woollens). Agree to wash AND clean teeth.

Day 6

Tea. Toast. M&S prawn sarnie and cheesy wotsits. Watch The Awakening (v.good). Craving for take away curry. Wife agrees as long as I commit to a daily bath, teeth washing and opening a bedroom window. Curry = excellent, few spillages. All agree it was time sheets got washed anyway.

Day 7

Tea. Toast. Sushi for lunch. Think a bit. I now know why Netflix will win the content war. Nothing new to watch on I-Player or Amazon Prime after only four days of intense goggling. Read newspaper. Boris Johnson lying again. Wonder if mother will be able to come out of her nursing home for Christmas Day.

Day 8

The bedroom door creaks opens and wakes me up. Through one tired eye, I can see my wife in the doorway. She’s smiling broadly, as if she’s got good news.

Praise be, I think. We’ve finally won the Lotto Roll Over after years of trying. Why else would she look so happy this early in the morning?

‘We’ve won the Lotto, haven’t we?’

‘Not yet,’ she replies.

‘Oh God, that’s so unfair,’ I say.

‘What’s unfair about not winning the Lotto?’

‘Twenty years of hard graft week in week out, gambling in support of charitable causes and nothing in return. That’s what’s unfair. We’ve never even won enough to buy a packet of crisps.’

‘It’s not about the winning,’ she asks.

Not about the winning? I close my open eye and lean back into my pillow. What sort of an attitude is that?

‘Can you imagine the value of all those £10 flutters on the Lotto, if we had invested them in an equity index tracker instead?’

‘Not really,’ says my wife.

The smile is sliding down her face like rain off a window.

‘How are you feeling?’ she asks.

‘My head is full of cold porridge and my joints ache like a chicken’s egg about to hatch. But don’t worry. I’ll be alright here poaching in my own sweat. You get on with your life.’

Unconsciously, my inner Benedict Cumberbatch delivers the last sentence in a faltering, faint voice and makes a noise like a little pony whinnying for good measure.

‘Ah,’ says my wife. ‘You’re definitely getting better. Your self-pity has returned.’

Day 9

My wife is taking away my breakfast plate, which is smeared with tomato sauce and mustard, like a Kandinsky painting. Apart from the sauces the plate is clean and clear of anything edible. I’ve just downed a full English breakfast and feel So Money Super Market. Covid is in retreat.

‘I don’t know what I’d do without you,’ I say.

‘Lose weight?’ she replies.

‘I just want you to know I appreciate everything you and the kids have done to support me in my fight against this terrible virus.’

She makes a choking sound, as if something has stuck in her throat.

‘We’ve learnt a lot over the last week, for sure,’ she says.

‘The fulfilment which comes with kindness? ’ I suggest.

‘More, what it’s like to be Jacob Rees Moggs’ nanny. Or run Room Service at the Savoy.’

‘You’ll be glad to hear then that I’ve used this week in bed to think hard about our future. Undistracted by Matt Hancock’s makeover and his newly pert buttocks, I’ve been tackling the Big Issues. I think I’ve found a cure for capitalism and created a new manifesto for mankind.

‘Oh God,’ she says. ‘Not now. Save it later when I can have a drink.’

I’m a little dispirited by this reaction. But, luckily, moments later, my daughter pops her head into the bedroom. She’s dressed in her running gear and wearing a purplish bandana.

I wonder if she sleeps in running gear. Each night she and her brother come back late from their responsible jobs and go running. Not to the pub to drown their sorrows at the ghastly legacy bequeathed them by the Boomers or to drown out the pain of their day at work, like my father did. But to stay fit. Or something like that.

‘Howdy Old Paps, how yer feeling?’

Often, my daughter and I talk to each other as if we were characters in Little House on the Prairie. Don’t ask why. But today, I’m not up to the game.

‘I’ve found a cure for capitalism.’

‘Ohhhhhh,’ she says. ‘Interesting.’

‘And rewritten the ten commandments,’ I say.

‘Good going for just one week,’ she says.

‘That’s what I thought,’ I reply. ‘Do you want to hear my new version of the commandments?’

She looks at her watch.

‘Umm. Actually, I’ve arranged to meet a friend for a run and I’m late,’ she replies and swifter than Usain Bolt she’s gone.

‘It’s genuinely new and fresh thinking,’ I shout after her. ‘You’ll never heard anything like it before in your life.’

‘That’s what worries me,’ she shouts back as her Nike’s carry her down the stairs and away into her own future.

Read more blogs by James Thellusson

Read the next in the series – Man in the Middle 80: New Year Dreams

Read the previous one – Man in the Middle 78: Becoming a detectorist

See all James’s Man in the Middle blogs here

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

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Gunnersbury Station rated worst London Underground station

Gunnersbury station in Chiswick has been rated as the worst Underground station in the capital, with one reviewer describing it as “the worst station imaginable”.

The station, which is served by the London Underground District line as well as the London Overground, is ranked at 2.4 out of 5 on Google. The overground part of the station scores slightly higher at 3.7.

The majority of reviews criticise the station environment or its strategy for dealing with crowding, which makes passengers queue to leave the station. Another aspect which passengers have criticised is the exit-only policy when matches are being played at Brentford Community Stadium, which they say contributes to congestion.

Google enables all 272 London Underground stations to be rated. Tube stations can be rated between one and five, though no station has a perfect score of five out of five.

Newly opened Battersea Power Station scores 4.9 out of 5. Commuters have been impressed by its spacious, modern design and the new connections it offers to the area.

Image above: Gunnersbury Station – Grange Road entrance

‘Worst station imaginable’

The two platforms at Gunnersbury Station share one platform face, meaning when two trains arrive at once many people all head for the exit at the same time, which can lead to overcrowding. The same can occur if there are delays and two platforms’ worth of passengers have to wait in the same area.

According to reviewers regular technical faults occur, with one notable example being the matrix screens at the station showing waiting times of over 21 and a half hours.

Reviewers left scathing reviews, leaving comments such as:

‘The worst station imaginable – at rush hour they can’t control the amount of people so they hold everyone before the one barrier. Their system is so illogical and extremely dangerous.’

One reviewer criticised the lighting and alleyway into the station, claiming the overall vibe ‘is a bit rapey’.

Another wrote:

‘Station is not fit for purpose. In fact, at rush hour it is positively dangerous. Stairwell is too small, very few people keep to the left, staff are lazy and unhelpful and signage is often not working. It is also the UGLIEST station on the network.’

A recent review praised station station staff for making the best of a bad situation:

‘Agreed with all negative comments above. A second entrance from Wellesley Road would be great. Only positive is the staff are clearly trying to do their best with what is a severely sub-par situation.’

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Environmentalist Rebecca Frayn attacks Chiswick councillor Joanna Biddolph’s “undemocratic” and “deranged” behaviour

See also: Estate garden manager Geraldine King to leave Chiswick House

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.

Back to the Future The Musical – review

Image above: Back to the Future: The Musical, at the Adelphi Theatre

Review by Tim Hiley

Great Scott! The Adelphi Theatre has fired up the DeLorean and is taking the audience back to the 1985 classic film Back to the Future, as a musical stage production.

It follows the adventures of Marty McFly, a streetwise, high school kid with dreams of being a rockstar, and Doctor Emmett Brown, a seemingly crazy mad scientist who has invented time travel inside a stainless-steel DeLorean car.

Image above: Roger Bart as Doc Brown and Olly Dobson as Marty McFly in Back to the Future: The Musical; photograph Sean Ebsworth Barnes

Well, as Doc Brown says, “if you’re going to build a time machine out of a car, you might as well do it with style!”

Of course, anything to do with time travel is fraught with the possibility of catastrophic error, and sure enough, during a test run, Marty ends up back in 1955.

Image above: Olly Dobson as Marty McFly in Back to the Future: The Musical; photograph Sean Ebsworth Barnes

What’s the worst that could happen?

What is the cardinal rule of time travel? Every self-respecting time traveller knows they must not alter the path of history.

So what does he do?

He alters the course of history. And after causing his mother to not meet his father, he now has to find a younger Doc Brown, still near the beginning of his scientific career, in order to get back to 1985.

The story is ridiculously silly, which is the joy of it, and like Christopher Lloyd and Michael J Fox in the cult classic, Roger Bart as Doc Brown and Olly Dobson as Marty McFly ramp up the silliness to make a thoroughly enjoyable night of nostalgia.

Image above: Roger Bart as Doc Brown and Olly Dobson as Marty McFly in Back to the Future: The Musical; photograph Sean Ebsworth Barnes

While the musical deviates from the film in places, it is mostly a faithful recreation of the movie. The audience reacted with glee whenever their favourite lines or scenes from the film were recreated on the stage.

The experience created by the production team is outstanding. Without spoiling the effect, the way the DeLorean travels through time not only defies the logic of the space time continuum but also defies the logic of staging practicalities, and it leaves the audience breathless with excitement and wonder.

It truly feels as if you have travelled back to 1955; full credit to the incredible production team, especially video designer Finn Ross, lighting designer Tim Lutkin, illusion designer Chris Fisher, designer Tim Hatley and associate set designer Ross Edwards. They have created a spectacle unlike anything musical theatre has seen before.

Of course, just as iconic as the time travelling car, are the classic characters from the movie. Legendary West End and Broadway star, Roger Bart had the daunting task of taking on Doc Brown, after Christopher Lloyd’s beloved and celebrated portrayal in the original trilogy of films. Bart doesn’t try and replicate the original, but instead puts his own spin on the character.

All the mannerisms and catchphrases are still there, but the character is more layered than the original. It explores more closely the relationship between him and Marty and, while he is initially more crochety, the story is more satisfying for having a more nuanced Doc Brown.

Images above: Roger Bart as Doc Brown and Olly Dobson as Marty McFly in Back to the Future: The Musical; photographs Sean Ebsworth Barnes

The other half of the duo, Marty McFly, is played masterfully by Olly Dobson who embodies Michael J Fox’s mannerisms and characterisations so accurately that if you squint, you could almost believe he was the original.

They are supported by good performances by a stellar cast but the songs were a bit more hit and miss. Apart from The Power of Love and Johnny B Goode from the original film, most of the music has been newly written for the musical, but the songs don’t stick in the mind in the way that the catchphrases do.

Images above: Olly Dobson as Marty McFly and the cast of Back to the Future The Musical; photographs Sean Ebsworth Barnes

It doesn’t have a stand-out ironic, hummable song like One Day More from Les Miserables, Defying Gravity from Wicked or You Will Be Found from Dear Evan Hansen, which stay in the memory.

However, that’s not what this musical is necessarily about. It’s about iconic characters, witty lines, incredible staging and an off the wall plot that brings audiences to their feet.

Back to the Future: The Musical is running at the Adelphi Theatre and is now booking through to 3rd July 2022

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Aladdin at the Lyric – review

See also: Book, Film and Theatre reviews

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.

Mind Matters – Lost and found

In something lost, something is found and in something found something is lost.

I don’t know about you but the extent to which the last couple of years and the pandemic appear to have accelerated changes to how I live my life reveals itself to me at the most unexpected times and in unexpected ways.

Last week I went to meet with a colleague in Hampshire. I used to think nothing of jumping in the car and heading to a meeting and it was only in the doing of it that I realised how unfamiliar it had become and also how the experience of it had changed over the years.

My thinking was that of course with experiences that are unfamiliar there are heightened senses, things require more thinking about and take more energy but no matter, the unfamiliar is familiar and we just need to pace ourselves, allow a little extra time and also expect and plan for being a bit more tired.

All went well, I made the meeting in good time, it was enjoyable, indeed the unfamiliarity made it enjoyable, until it was time to leave. Having arranged a meeting nearby the next day I had found somewhere to stay for the night and needed to travel a bit further.

Getting back into the car I could not get my phone to connect to the car and so I couldn’t get the navigation to work. I turned the car on and off, I unplugged and replugged the phone to the car, I turned the phone off and back on again – nothing. Sat in the cold and the dark, with it pouring with rain and being somewhere I’ve not been before I was annoyed and a bit agitated but then what I noticed most was my feeling of alarm and sudden sense of being thrown back on myself.

Of course without the technology I was a bit stuck but hey, I was only in Hampshire not stuck up Everest so why such a strong reaction? Before the technology I used to be able to find my way easily enough? Then I realised I didn’t have a map in the car and again there was a surge of alarm before the thought that I’ve found places in the past without a map. Of course there are still road signs and then people to ask!

Having reordered my thoughts and feeling much more at ease I drove to the place I was due to stay, noticing how nice it was to be looking for road signs rather than listening for instructions. I enjoyed the peace and quiet, the feel of driving, the anticipation and pleasure of finding my way using the trusty old road signs. It was a different kind of journey and one that reminded me of how it had felt when I was in my late teens being able to just jump in the car and drive. To take my time, follow signs that interested me, enjoy the driving and the journey.

The next day the technology was working again, for a moment I thought to keep it turned off and then having a ferry to catch, I decided that the nowadays familiar technological solution was probably safer than the now unfamiliar non technological road signs solution. As I drove to my next meeting I was happy to feel my watch vibrating every time I approached a junction and hear that robotic voice issue its instructions but I also felt sadness because I’d also enjoyed what I had rediscovered in the absence of them. I reflected that in something being lost, something had been found and now in something found something was lost.

In my work as a psychotherapist it is invariably loss that brings people to meet with me, be it loss of loved ones, health, happiness, possibility, opportunity, ease, work, meaning, identity, relationships, faith, security, sense of self, reason to name just some. At the moment when people are confronted by loss and feeling overwhelmed and traumatised I always feel humbled in being there with them, to think and feel with them and bear witness as they come to terms not only with what has been lost but also what is then found.

Finally, as the festive season approaches my thoughts turn to how for many it will be a time to find joy, companionship, relaxation, fun and cheer but for many others it will be an experience of being confronted with loss. This is nothing new but I wonder about the potential for this one to be even more challenging; after all we are yet again facing uncertainty from a new variant on top of what for many has been another year of further losses.

If you are struggling then you are not alone, if your own attempts to try and cope aren’t working then don’t suffer in silence – there are people out there who can and want to help. And if you think you know someone who might be struggling then ask them if they are ok and remember it’s quite often the case people will say they are ok when they are first asked, so do be ready to ask a second time.

From all of us here at the practice we wish you all the very best for the festive season.

Nicholas Rose
Psychotherapist, Counsellor, Couples Counsellor and Coach

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

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

nicholas-rose.co.uk

Read more blogs by Nicholas Rose

Read the previous one – Mind Matters – The ‘kind’ communication that really isn’t kind at all!

See all Nicholas’s Mind Matters blogs here

Read a profile of Nicholas here

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

 

Ma House – a new Chiswick service for pregnant women and new mums

Women with a wealth of experience supporting other women through birth

Chiswick has a new service for pregnant women and those with new babies. Ma House offers everything from bath salts to doula support to the new and about-to-be mum – Mummy MOT, Wellness Therapies, Nutrition & Health coach services as well as SPA & Beauty treatments – putting the mother first.

Put together by social worker Vânia Mendes, herself a Chiswick mum, this new business aims to offer women a package of support to help them through the whole process of birth and after, supplementing the medical attention they receive.

You’d think that new mums would be well catered for, and they are, but what Vânia found was that she had to shop around, researching and sourcing products and help from different places, so her bright, entrepreneurial idea is to offer one stop shopping for a range of services and products and making it a whole lot easier.

“There aren’t many places which only focus on pregnancy and immediately after and it took me a long time to find the right people”.

Vânia is a mental health social worker with a psychology background who has been working within the mental health field for more than 16 years. Seeing a large gap in the market for the support and care of pregnant women, she has got together with Dr Sophia Kasasa, a practising psychiatrist for more than 20 years and a health coach for more than a decade, and Maria Menendéz, a physiotherapist for over 20 years, with several other equally experienced women.

Images above: Vânia Mendes, Dr Sophia Kasasa, Maria Menendéz, Silvia Charepe Dias from the Ma House team of specialists

Slightly nervous about recommending the services of anyone about to lay hands on pregnant women, I asked how people could check their credentials. You can (we did) with the relevant professional bodies relating to their specialisms.

Doulas are not regulated as such; they are trained companions, often not healthcare professionals, who support others through a significant health-related experience, making the client feel safe and comfortable and complementing the role of the healthcare professionals who provide the client’s medical care.

The Ma House team’s doula, Silvia Charepe Dias, is a chartered physiotherapist specialising in women’s health with more than 12 years’ experience. She is a certified practitioner of the Mummy MOT, a specialised post-natal assessment recommended by major healthcare organisations such as the Nuffield health charity for all women following delivery – from six weeks to many years later.

A trained specialist assesses the strength and function of the tummy and pelvic floor muscles to help prevent long-term childbirth related complaints such as incontinence, low back pain and ‘mummy tummy’. Only midwives, osteopaths and physiotherapists are accepted onto the programme to gain accreditation.

“I needed to be myself without the baby”

Having got the serious business of due diligence out of the way, I asked Vânia more about how they were planning to operate in Chiswick. They don’t have a premises; instead the team, all women, will come to the client and work with them in their own home. They are based in Chiswick but will travel to other areas of west London.

Physiotherapy, reflexology, acupuncture and massage are all services which they offer in the comfort of their clients’ own homes, which takes a little bit of the stress out of the experience in these Covid-anxious times. It’s also just nicer and more convenient. Massages are offered only after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

What Vânia found was that she needed some space once her children were born (now two and four).

“I needed to be myself without the baby. I wanted to do my hair, to drink a cup of coffee and to just be on my own”.

All mothers can identify with that feeling that for short periods of time you just want to be on your own, captured perfectly for my generation by Jill Murphy’s beautifully illustrated children’s book Five Minutes’ Peace.

Images above: Manicure; massage; pedicure

New mothers also need to replenish the nutrients they’ve handed over to the baby. It’s all very well being told to eat liver and drink Guinness (both disgusting tasting in my own opinion) but today’s sophisticated and conscientious mother is perhaps looking for something a little more nuanced.

That’s where Dr Sophia Kasasa comes in with the Postnatal Depletion Assessment – an assessment of the client’s levels of zinc, potassium and Vitamin A for example, and dietary suggestions and supplements to boost what the client is lacking nutritionally.

New mothers also deserve to be pampered and the Ma House website has various options for gifts from ‘The Final Push’ tea bags (a caffeine free herbal infusion of raspberry leaf tea, long considered to be effective in aiding the contractions and delivery process) to spa products such as aromatic candles and ‘stretch mark butter’ and clothing such as comfy slide-on sandals and pregnancy loungewear sets in soft fabrics, designed for breast-feeding.

Images above: Examples of Ma House hampers

If you’re feeling flush they also have hampers with options such as the ‘Maternity / hospital bag special’ and the ‘Baby shower special pampering treat’.

If any of that sounds useful to a pregnant woman or new mother near you, you can contact Ma House by email at hello@mahouse.uk, or via their website and you can buy their products directly from it.

mahouse.uk

Club Card offer

Ma House are members of The Chiswick Calendar Club Card scheme. See their current offer to Club Card holders here.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: An itch that led to a successful business – Pai Skincare

See also: A feat for the eye – The Pink Elephant takes table dressing to a whole new level

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.

Environmentalist Rebecca Frayn attacks Chiswick councillor Joanna Biddolph’s “undemocratic” and “deranged” behaviour

Image above: Rebecca Frayn; photograph James Willcocks

The chair of Friends of Turnham Green, environmentalist Rebecca Frayn has launched a furious attack on councillor for Turnham Green ward Cllr Joanna Biddolph, calling her behaviour “undemocratic” and “deranged”.

Frayn says the work of her group of community volunteers is being made “increasingly untenable” by the “high handed autocratic and self-serving behaviour” of the councillor.

In a letter to the Leader of Hounslow Council Cllr Steve Curran and Cabinet Member for Leisure Services, Cllr Samia Chaudhary, she says Biddolph’s “new outburst” in the W4 newsletter, her latest Twitter post and her open letter “ranting on” to Cllr Chaudhary amount to a:

“one woman mission to prevent any new tree planting on Turnham Green”.

Biddolph is, she writes:

“apparently prepared to go to quite extraordinary and undemocratic lengths to achieve this goal. Not content with having crashed Friends of Turnham Green, a well respected community group of 14 years standing, Cllr Biddolph has now launched a deranged attack on the council’s tree consultation – a consultation solely designed to resolve the very problem that she herself single-handedly created last year.”

Images above: Avenue of cherry trees on Turnham Green – photograph by Andy Murray; disappointed volunteers who turned up to plant trees in February 2020

Cherrygate round two

She is referring to the sequence of events dubbed ‘Cherrygate’ when in February 2020 Friends of Turnham Green, working with the Council’s Parks department, paid for ten cherry trees of the non-fruiting Prunus avium Plena variety to be planted on Turnham Green to fill in the gaps in the existing avenue of cherry trees, but were prevented from planting them because Cllr Biddolph challenged the decision.

The Council owns Turnham Green and maintain it at a basic level. The Friends have worked with them to enhance the park with their own designs and extra planting, but the Council has to take overall responsibility. If a councillor ‘calls in’ a decision by a council officer, they have no choice but to delay and reconsider.

Volunteers turned up with spades in hand, ready to plant the trees, to be told it had been cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice. The planting had been placed on hold because Joanna Biddolph had questioned the democratic nature of the decision.

The choice of trees had been made at the Friends’ AGM the previous month, where the 28 people present had voted unanimously to plant more trees and 21, three quarters of those present, had voted for cherry trees.

Trees have to be planted with a certain period of time because of weather and ground conditions, so while to political ramifications continued, the trees were planted elsewhere. In the fall out Frayn resigned as chair and the society went into abeyance while it was reconstituted and new elections were held.

Rebecca Frayn was re-elected chair in November 2020 with 79% vote. Jill Spencer, who had opposed the planting of cherry trees and complained to Cllr Biddolph about the decision, stood against Rebecca, winning 21% the vote. Frayn would now like to get back to where they were two years ago, ordering cherry trees to fill in the gaps in the avenue.

READ ALSO:  Life is just a bowl of cherries – not

READ ALSO: Rebecca Frayn re-elected as chair of Turnham Green Friends

Image above: Turnham Green

Tree consultation

This year the Council launched a tree consultation, aimed at giving everyone in the area an opportunity to approve or reject the tree planting proposals. They have produced a map of Turnham Green and a list of the trees proposed and even a link to the Woodland Trust website explaining the form, habit and growth potential of the trees listed.

The trees include an Indian Bean tree, a Tulip tree, a Foxglove tree, a Magnolia, a Hornbeam, a Whitebeam, an Elm, a Crab-apple a Wild service tree and nine Cherry trees.

Image above: LB Hounslow map of tree planting proposal for Turnham Green

LB Hounslow points out the need to plant more trees as part of the fight to slow down climate change and to the importance of trees as food sources for insects, birds, and mammals, as well as the well being of the human population.

‘The Council has received proposals for tree planting on Turnham Green. The Councils GreenSpace360 (GS360) Tree Manager has reviewed the proposals, taking into consideration the suggested locations and species of trees. Based on this they have advised what would be the most suited species of tree for each location.

‘Following a previous request for tree planting on the Green in 2020. It was considered that wider consultation was required before any trees are to be planted on the Green.

‘We would like to ask residents and users of Turnham Green for their views on the proposals.’

See the map here:  Turnham Green Tree Planting Proposals

Take part in the survey here: Turnham Green Tree Planting Survey

The consultation lasts until 7 January 2022.

Cllr Biddolph’s complaints

In her blog on the W4 website Cllr Biddolph described the consultation as ‘wholly inadequate’.

She complains that it is digital only, though paper copies are available in libraries.

She complains that there is ‘No list of the names and numbers of each existing tree’ in the plan.

She complains that the planting proposals were not discussed with a particular specialist from Kew, who she heard speaking on Radio 4 about threatened species.

The council officer who chose the trees is an arboriculturalist with a Level 4 Diploma in Arboriculture from Merrist Wood College.

She complains that participants are only able to like or dislike specific proposals, and that they are not able to add an infinite variety of other species which the Council would then have to go away and research for suitability.

She complains that the form doesn’t require an email address ‘or any other limiting factor’ so she was able to fill it out four times. When I filled it out, as well as capturing my IP address, the form asked for my email address and postcode.

‘I had asked for the survey to be withdrawn and revised so we can take it seriously but that hasn’t happened’ she wrote.

Biddolph’s “Compulsive need to crush all local initiatives”

In her letter to Steve Curran and Samia Chaudhary, Rebecca Frayn goes on to say:

“Biddolph’s compulsive need to crush all local initiatives such as tree planting, street parties, the delightful and successful flower and cheese markets, her bizarre poster campaign, ‘Hounslow destroying Chiswick’ and her bogus use of the lobbying group Taskforce Chiswick which purports to represent local traders despite the fact she is it’s only member, raises serious questions about her conduct as a councillor.

“It has become only too apparent that Biddolph is abusing her role as a public servant by using it as a platform to exclusively represent her own views and try to prevent any local initiative, regardless of the proposals merits or popularity, and to intervene with a completely inappropriate level of micro-interference.

“She has certainly made no attempt of any kind to canvas what the majority views might be on any of the issues she has so vitriolically and energetically opposed…

“The vast majority of locals enthusiastically support the council’s borough-wide planting schemes designed to constructively contribute to the climate crisis. The voting on the Consultation will almost certainly support this initiative, which is presumably why she has decided to spuriously attempt yet again to subvert a democratic process.”

She finishes her letter, written in her personal capacity, not representing the Friends of Turnham Green:

“my request to you is this – can you please help Cllr Chaudhary hold the line on new tree planting on Turnham Green and stop this relentless subversion of local democracy in its tracks?”

Frayn: One of the Most Influential Environmental Campaigners

Rebecca Frayn is a novelist, screenwriter/ film maker and environmental activist. In 2008, she co-founded the environmental lobbying group Climate Action Now with a group of fellow female journalists and writers, and was nominated by the Evening Standard as one of the 100 Most Influential Environmental Campaigners of the year.

She founded Friends of Turnham Green in 2007 and has worked ever since to renovate what had been quite a neglected park. Friends of Turnham Green have successfully lobbied to remove derelict buildings and in their place establish a natural play area for children together with a large wild flower meadow.

Since then they have also established more insect friendly planting and as a result, the park has received the Green Flag award from the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy for the past four years.

Read her letter to the Leader of Hounslow Council Cllr Steve Curran and Cabinet Member for Leisure Services, Cllr Samia Chaudhary here:

The Letter

Dear Steve,

I usually go to great lengths to avoid the endless skirmishes and spats of local politics.  But as chair of Friends of Turnham Green, I am part of a group of community volunteers whose work is being made increasingly untenable by the high handed autocratic and self-serving behaviour of Councillor Joanna Biddolph. The vast majority of community volunteers in Chiswick share my frustration at her methods which is why I’m writing to you.

You may or may not have seen her new outburst on last weeks W4 newsletter.  Or her latest twitter post.   Or her open letter ranting on to Cllr Samia Chaudhary.  All of which make it plain she continues on her one woman mission to prevent any new tree planting on Turnham Green and is apparently prepared to go to quite extraordinary and undemocratic lengths to achieve this goal. Not content with having crashed Friends of Turnham Green, a well respected community group of 14 years standing, Cllr Biddolph has now launched a deranged attack on the council’s tree consultation – a consultation solely designed to resolve the very problem that she herself single-handedly created last year.

In overriding the members’ wishes at the 2020 AGM of Friends of Turnham Green, as you know she sparked a debate that was quickly dubbed Cherrygate in the local press and led to my resignation.  With local elections now only 6 months away, Biddolph’s compulsive need to crush all local initiatives such as tree planting, street parties, the delightful and successful flower and cheese markets, her bizarre poster campaign, ‘Hounslow destroying Chiswick’ and her bogus use of the lobbying group Taskforce Chiswick which purports to represent local traders despite the fact she is it’s only member, raises serious questions about her conduct as a councillor.

It has become only too apparent that Biddolph is abusing her role as a public servant by using it as a platform to exclusively represent her own views and try to prevent any local initiative, regardless of the proposals merits or popularity, and to intervene with a completely inappropriate level of micro-interference.  She has certainly made no attempt of any kind to canvas what the majority views might be on any of the issues she has so vitriolically and energetically opposed.  Not only did she override our members vote, but she has never made any attempt to contact the Friends of TG committee and she doesn’t even consult with her fellow ward councillors since Ron is pro cherry trees.  Her risible letter on the tree consultation condemns the council for not providing dimensions for scores of proposed trees, not consulting with Kew’s rare tree experts and not analysing historic documents to discover earlier plantings etc etc. Furthermore, she has subverted the whole process by voting four times, an illegal and foolish action entirely consistent with her general approach.  Her demands are no more than obfuscation designed to further delay and derail the urgent need for more trees to be planted.

In doing so, not only is she showing total contempt for local democracy, but also for the fact that we are facing a climate crisis and that trees are the best form of carbon capture known to man. The vast majority of locals enthusiastically support the council’s borough-wide planting schemes designed to constructively contribute to the climate crisis. The voting on the Consultation will almost certainly support this initiative, which is presumably why she has decided to spuriously attempt yet again to subvert a democratic process…

… it seems to me the time is long overdue to confront how poorly we in Chiswick are being served by her self-serving implementation of cancel culture.  She has brought nothing but toxicity to the borough she purports to serve. Officers waste hours of time dealing with her complaints, and residents are beginning to realise that asking her to intervene on their behalf has exactly the opposite effect.

Hounslow council’s website tells us, ‘Councillors represent everyone who lives in the area they are elected into.’ Well apparently not this councillor, who seems to represent only herself and her compulsive need to prevent local initiatives of any kind.

So my request to you is this – can you please help Cllr Chaudhary hold the line on new tree planting on Turnham Green and stop this relentless subversion of local democracy in its tracks?

Best wishes,

Rebecca Frayn

Though I have been chair of Friends of Turnham Green for 15 years now, I write in my personal capacity.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Misbehaviour: feature film created by Rebecca Frayn

See also: Estate garden manager Geraldine King to leave Chiswick House

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 – The Power of the Dog

The Power of the Dog ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Charismatic rancher Phil Burbank inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love. Available on Netflix.

Just when I am writing this, I’m also very aware that this Western without guns is typical of the sort of film which critics love and the average moviegoer hates. The current score on Rotten Tomatoes proves my point: 93% vs 63%.

This divide is usually a sign of a pretentious or boring film, and while The Power of Dog is definitely not either of those (though it might be considered a bit slow if you’re just used to watch Marvel stuff), it is certainly a film that requires patience, attention and sensibility.

For those with a more refined taste the reward is an elegant and evocative film, which tries to be both understated and powerful (the emphasis on the word “tries” might give away where I stand in all this).

Director Jane Campion hasn’t made a feature film in about 12 years, but she certainly remembers how to work with actors and how to frame her story with a camera.

The film looks beautiful and it’s incredibly atmospheric constantly shifting between wide and epic landscapes, burnt by the sun and lingering tight close-ups on the faces of a strong cast as if to expose the many layers of repressed emotions.

The 1967 novel by Thomas Savage, on which the film is based, has been around in Hollywood for a while. At one point Paul Newman and Gerard Depardieu were said to be interested in it. But in the end main role went to Benedict Cumberbatch, who’s delivered a performance that’s likely to take him to the Oscars. His character is full contradictions and insecurities, at times hateful, cruel, brash and insensitive, but others weak, lonely and ultimately a sad broken man.

But to me it’s young Kodi Smit-McPhee who is the real (cold) heart of the film.  I remember being impressed by him as a child about a decade ago in Let Me In and The Road. I wish I could say more about him but I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending which not only caught me by surprise, but left me incredibly eager to talk about it and unpack with anyone who has seen it.

This is not a perfect film by all means, it’s a bit too long for a start and yet some of the key transitions and changes in the relationships between some of the characters seemed to happen too fast for me and because of that I didn’t quite buy into it the film completely.

More crucially, Jane Campion’s conscious decision (or stubbornness) to keep it all understated and just about bubbling under the surface, too often backfired and resulted in me watching it cold, from a distance, rather than actually caring about the characters.

Obviously one doesn’t always have to care about the people on screen to appreciate what’s happening, but having now seen how it all develops and especially how it ends, I’m sure there was a much more powerful film (and a more emotionally engaging one too) somewhere.

So basically in the end I’m pretty much in between a critic and an average moviegoer… There you go, the story of my life.

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

Don’t Look Up is available to watch on Netflix from 10 December.

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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Andrea’s film review – Back to the Outback

Back to the Outback ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Tired of being locked in a reptile house where humans gawk at them as if they were monsters, a group of Australia’s deadliest creatures plot a daring escape from their zoo to the Outback. On Netflix from this weekend.

Let’s face it, not every single animated film can be of the Pixar calibre or even try to break the mould as Disney’s Encanto has just done.

Most of the stuff out there for kids is actually rather generic and mostly unchallenging. And yet, even among those mid-range offerings, you can still find some nicely packaged stories which will keep the kids entertained without offending the parents’ intelligence or bore them to death.

Back to the Outback is one of those. It’s a story of a group of deadly creatures – a snake, a scorpion, a spider and so on – who plot an escape from the zoo where they are kept and where they’re only considered for their ‘ugly’ appearance and their poisonous qualities.

Needless to say, over the course of their adventure, they will all learn there’s more to you beyond just your looks: basically don’t judge the book by the cover.

It’s an easy lesson to grasp, even for the young ones, with lots of other talking points to draw from for the slightly more mature kids. Because at the end of the day, this film has no pretence to be anything but one for the kids. My son,  always my go-to point of reference when trying to judge films like these,  seemed to enjoy it.

It’s nicely drawn, easy on the eye, it moves along at a brisk pace, it has cute moments, some easy laughs and its heart is in definitely the right place. I was just a bit surprised by the number of innuendos aimed parents. At some point a male spider talks about being “aroused” when in the presence of a black widow. Mmm… not really sure we needed that, but obviously the passed by unnoticed by the eyes of innocence.

I’m sure I will forget about it by this time next week, but it was fine while it was on.

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

Back to the Outback is available to watch on Netflix from this weekend.

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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Andrea’s film review – Being the Ricardos

Being the Ricardos ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Follows Lucy and Desi as they face a crisis that could end their careers and another that could end their marriage. Out in the cinemas this Friday and on Amazon Prime on 21 December.

Anything new from the amazing mind of Aaron Sorkin (the genius behind classic Cult-TV The West Wing and Oscar winner screenwriter for The Social Network, just to mention two of the great things he’s done) is always a time for celebration as far as I’m concerned.

His unique style of fast-paced dialogue, his sharp wit and his ability to turn gripping and intelligent stories from potentially heavy subject matters such as politics and law, make him one of the most celebrated modern writers working in Hollywood.

This time he’s not just writing the screenplay, but directing too, as he takes us being the scenes of one of the most popular American TV shows from the 50s: I Love Lucy.

Back in the day this was huge, drawing as many as 60 million viewer per episode. Apparently 71% of all American television sets tuned in for the episode where Lucy gives birth and it made the two stars, Lucille Ball a Desi Arnaz, feel part of everyone’s family.

The film takes place during a fictional week of preparation and rehearsal of one of the episodes of the series, leading up to its filming.

A very eventful week in fact, in which Lucy is being accused by the media to be a communist, rumours and incriminating photographs surface and appear to expose Desi’s infidelity and a week in which the couple also decide not just to announce their pregnancy to the producers of the show, but also their intention to feature the pregnancy across a whole series of episodes.

This is a time when even mentioning the word “pregnant” on tv was considered too much. In reality all the events depicted in the film took places over months, but the condensed time gives some great dramatic drive to the film.

Sorkin is a master at telling this sort of story, whether it’s behind the scenes of a newsroom, a comedy show, a sport event, or even the White House, he’s clearly having a ball at portraying what’s going on in behind the desks of production offices, on the set while rehearsing and crucially in the writers’ room: some of the best scenes take place while lines of the script are being discussed.

While on the surface we might be watching an episode of a TV series being born, Sorkin’s smart writing and carefully calibrated direction add a whole series of subtexts and layers hovering between comedy and tense drama and make it all gripping and actually very entertaining.

A lot has been said about the choice of casting Nicole Kidman in the main role of Lucy and to a degree Spanish Javier Bardem in the role of Cuban Desi Arnaz. While a lot of the nasty and pointless criticisms were made before the film was even finished and shown to anyone, it is true that Nicole is a bit old to play the part (she’s currently 54, which makes her 13 years older than Lucy was back then), and also she doesn’t really look much like her.

But despite all that, if you can put that aside, as well as the honest and slightly sad truth that her face is beginning to look a bit too heavy with Botox – please Nicole stop, please! – there’s still no denying that we are in the hands of one of the greatest actresses in Hollywood. Her chemistry and friction with Bardem is what makes the film so compelling, but they’re also aided by a very strong supporting cast including JK Simmons, born to be a scene-stealer in anything he does, and Nina Arianda, playing  the two I Love Lucy regulars co-stars.

In among all that Sorkin uses some mocumentary-style (i.e. fake) talking-heads interviews, supposedly filmed recently, to comment on the events seeing in the film: not sure we really needed those, but they certainly help keeping the mood light and add a few extra laughs.

Overall I had a lot of fun with it and I would definitely recommend it.

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

Being the Ricardos is out in the cinemas this Friday and on Amazon Prime on 21 December.

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.nbsp;

Andrea’s film review – Don’t Look Up

Don’t Look Up ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Two low-level astronomers must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth. On Netflix from 10 December.

An astronomy student (Jennifer Lawrence) and her professor (Leonardo di Caprio) discover a comet on a collision course to Earth which will destroy all life on the planet.

If this sounds familiar and reminds of the plots from one of those catastrophic films from the 90s, like Deep Impact or Armageddon, you’d be surprised to discover that Don’t look up! is actually a comedy… Or at least it tries to be.

In fact once the film gets going it does eventually turn into an absurd journey along which Lawrence and DiCaprio try to get the world to believe their story. They go to the authorities, to the media and even get to meet the US president herself (played by Meryl Streep). Alas, nobody takes them seriously.

It is of course a not-too-veiled metaphor for the constant alarm calls about the impending danger of climate change. It’s not surprising that we find DiCaprio involved here, both in front the camera, but also behind the scenes as one of producers as well.

But the film clearly wants to make fun of (or rather shame) the people at the top, those with power, the media, the big corporations and those catastrophe-deniers, all of whom are just as dangerous as the killer comet.

This is potentially a very clever concept, a great a satire in fact, with writer and director Adam McKay at the helm (Oscar nominated for his recent films, The Big Short and Vice).

If you then add to that one of the greatest casts assembled in recent years – Di Caprio, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett, Mark Rylance, Timothée Chalamet and even Ariana Grande – you would think there’s enough here to make it a masterpiece.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, I have to be honest, I came into this not knowing anything about it, other than its stellar cast, but it was only about 15 minutes into the film that I realised I was meant to be laughing. In fact, the first attempt at real (whacky) comedy in the film, which came in the form of a caption on the screen, took me so much by surprise that I thought it was just a badly designed title.

The film does indeed have some inspired moments and I have to confess I did laugh a lot too, but they are just too spread out in among puerile humour,  pointless subplots and huge indulgences. Somewhere in the third act the film grinds to a halt as we are treated to a full song which plays during a concert. There is absolutely NO reason for this scene to be there, aside from the fact that Ariana Grande’s fans will be happy.

Even Meryl Streep, though I’m sure she’s having the time of her life playing essentially female version of Trump, feels very much one-note and her over-the-topness (is there such a word? Well, there is now) becomes a bit repetitious and slightly grating after a while. Same goes for a lot of the secondary characters in the film, though I have to say, both DiCaprio and Lawrence are excellent.

The secret of great comedy is in its timing and here I’m afraid there is just too much padding, which works against the laughs and crucially dilutes the sobering message it’s trying to convey. In the end it all comes across as a bit too silly and rather smug.

What’s missing in Don’t Look Up is the unity of tone, the sharp witty commentary and the anger at being screwed by the ultra-rich that had fuelled McKay’s previous film, The Big Short, and made it so compelling.

Here the only thing infuriating is the waste of huge talent on the screen (Timothée Chalamet is criminally underused) and the fact that hidden somewhere there was actually a great film to be made.

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

Don’t Look Up is available to watch on Netflix from 10 December.

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

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Andrea’s film review – Home Alone

Home Alone ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

An eight-year-old troublemaker must protect his house from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation. On at Chiswick Cinema.

Who would have thought back in 1990 that this film would have become an undisputed Christmas classic?

Yes of course, it is crass, silly and puerile but none of that seems to matter,  mainly because Macaulay Culkin is just too irresistible in the role of little Kevin who gets forgotten at home. And if you ever wondered if the film would have worked just as well with somebody else in the main role, just head off to Disney+ right now to try to watch the very recent (and pointless!) remake.

It is of course a film aimed mainly at children and it has no pretence to be anything else: it’s just simple and good old fashion “family entertainment” but judging by my nine year-old son’s reactions when we watched it for the first time, I can safely say, it works today just as well as it did then. And when it comes to these films I really have to judge them through his eyes and put aside any preconceptions or any snootiness I might have.

He was transfixed all the way through: he laughed, he jumped excitedly he shouted at the screen, and basically went through all the right motions (and emotions) and all at the right times.

Today we take most of it from granted, but some of the film’s inventions (the mannequins dancing in the house pulled by strings, the VHS tape played to the pizza delivery boy and all those traps set up by Kevin) are actually quite clever. Once the two goons come into play and the slapstick begins, it all becomes a little bit Tom & Jerry, but if you’re willing to go with it, that’s part of the fun too.

Yes, of course, the film does get very sentimental and very cheesy in a few places, aided by the splendid and iconic soundtrack by John Williams, but hey, it’s Christmas after all… We all need a bit of cheese once in a while, don’t we?

Watch it with your kids, or borrow some of your neighbour’s kids and I can assure you, it’ll be a winner.

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

Home Alone is on at Chiswick Cinema this weekend.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: December book reviews 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.

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Ruth Cadbury MP votes against “inhumane” Nationality and Borders bill

The Nationality and Borders Bill is “inhumane” and breaches the UK’s international commitments to refugees, says Ruth Cadbury MP.

The MP for Brentford and Isleworth voted against the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill at its third reading in the House of Commons On Wednesday (8 December).

The bill is a new piece of legislation in relation to the UK’s asylum system. Clause nine allows the Home Secretary to strip a naturalised British citizen of their citizenship without any notice at all on the grounds that it is ‘reasonably practicable’ to do so or under the guise of ‘national’ or ‘public interest’.

The bill also threatens anyone travelling to the UK via ‘illegal entry’ points with up to four years in prison, and criminalises anyone who assists them. Organisations such as the Joint Council for the Welfare of Refugees describe the bill as “cruel and dangerous.”

The nationality and borders bill was passed by the Commons, with 298 MPs in support and 231 against, giving the government a majority of 67 votes.

Government abandoning its commitment to refugees, says Ruth Cadbury

Speaking after the bill passed through the House of Commons, Ruth said:

‘‘The Government’s nationality and borders bill is simply inhumane.

“Rather than focusing on how to support vulnerable people who are seeking refuge this bill will see the Government abandon our historic commitment to supporting refugees.

“The UK has historically played a leading role in supporting refugees and asylum seekers – whether that was through the Kindertransport program to welcome Jewish children in the 1930s, or providing asylum to East African Asians in the 1960s and 70s.

“This bill sees our Government turning its back on this tradition. I also know that many people locally are extremely concerned about Clause nine of this bill, which would give greater powers for the Government to strip citizenship from individuals in the UK.

“The Government’s own policies such as the bungled withdrawal from Afghanistan, the decision to cut overseas aid have all contributed to the instability and turmoil we’ve seen across the world.

“I’m proud of the work done locally by groups such as Refugees Welcome Hounslow, who’ve done amazing work to support refugees, including those arriving from Syria. It’s beyond frustrating that our Government are not doing more to support community groups and councils such as Hounslow who are supporting refugees, including individuals who’ve recently arrived from Afghanistan.

“I will continue to campaign for our Government to show some compassion and provide safe, legal routes for those fleeing war, persecution and oppression across the world.’’

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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Cheap theatre tickets on offer to support West End recovery

Tickets to some of London’s most popular theatre productions are on offer for as little as £10, as part of an effort to encourage visitors back to the West End.

The promotion, run by Official London Theatre, was was launched on Tuesday (7 December) by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, along with celebrity photographer Rankin and stars of the West End.

Discounted tickets will be made available for around 60 theatre productions in January and February, which will be priced between £10 and £50. The general sale begins on 7 December.

Consumer footfall is still 30% lower than pre-pandemic levels according to the New West End Company, which represents businesses and brands in the area. They say it is still not increasing as much as they had hoped.

Government messaging about the Omicron variant of Covid-19, as well as fear of disruption due to Tube strikes are both thought to have contributed to lower figures.

London has seen a 40,000 increase Covid-19 cases in one week according to figures released on Sunday (5 December), and the Government’s scientific advisory committee, Sage, have said they think Omicron could cause 1,000 hospitalisations a day in weeks.

Watch the world’s finest plays for a tenner

Announcing the offer on Twitter, the Mayor said:

‘Thanks to creative talent on and off-stage, London’s West End theatres are bouncing back from the pandemic. Great to meet so many of them tonight and see @RankinPhoto‘s incredible homage to their work on the big screen here at Piccadilly Circus.’

‘To help encourage audiences back to the West End, @London_Theatre is launching a special new year sale—£10, £20, £30, £40 and £50 tickets to nearly 60 London shows in Jan & Feb. A fantastic gift idea.’

Sadiq added:

“It’s really important that after the last 18 months we’ve had where our theatres have really struggled because of the lack of footfall, that we support London’s economy safely. I’m encouraging Londoners to take advantage of this brilliant offer. Sixty of our theatres are giving reduced tickets so you can go and watch one of the world’s finest plays for a tenner.”

The offer is being promoted as part of the mayor’s ‘Let’s Do London’ campaign, which has focused on attracting visitors back to the capital to boost the economy.

To see theatre ticket prices, see below:

officiallondontheatre.com/new-year-sale/

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Further Tube strikes likely as TfL plans to cut 600 jobs

See also: Rowing club leaves Chiswick Boathouse while site is redeveloped

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Rowing club leaves Chiswick Boathouse while site is redeveloped

The Thames Tradesmen’s Rowing Club has left Chiswick Boathouse on Dan Mason Drive, while site is redeveloped. The rowing club, which first took up residence there in 1985 is moving temporarily into University of London’s Boathouse on Hartington Road.

LB Hounslow have taken possession of the site to knock the boathouse down and build what they say will be a state-of-the-art new boathouse. The rebuilding is expected to take two years.

The Council say it has been a long held aspiration to redevelop the site as a rowing facility for the benefit and use of all Hounslow residents. The new facility will be ‘ideally situated’ to take advantage of the improved accessibility to transport links, offered by the soon-to-be-completed Barnes Bridge walkway.

The project has cross party support on Hounslow council, with Council Leader Steve Curran and Cllr John Todd, who represents Chiswick Homefields ward, supporting the development of the boathouse and the wider aspiration of improving sport and leisure facilities at Dukes Meadow.

Established in 1897, Thames Tradesmen’s Rowing Club has a proud heritage stretching back to the 1960s and is a keystone of the UK rowing community. Olympic medallists Sir Steve Redgrave CBE, James Cracknell OBE, and Martin Cross are just a few of the rowing stars who have raced for Thames Tradesmen’s Rowing Club.

Image above: University of London’s Boathouse

Rowing club will endure for years to come, say club officials

Speaking after vacating Chiswick Boathouse Nigel Brophy, the club’s Chairman, said:

“We hope to return to the new boathouse and continue our successful long-term relationship with Hounslow Council for at least another 36 years.”
The club had originally fought the Council’s plans, fearing that the site would be sold off to a private developer and they would be excluded.

Speaking on the club’s future Paul Arnold, the Thames Tradesmen’s Rowing Club’s Captain, said:

“Thames Tradesmen’s is one of the oldest and most successful rowing clubs on the Tideway. It has been around for 123 years and we want it to be around for another 123 years. Our ambition is to work with Hounslow Council to introduce the local community of all ages and backgrounds to the camaraderie, discipline and health benefits of this wonderful sport.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Work about to start on Barnes Bridge Walkway

See also: Further Tube strikes likely as TfL plans to cut 600 jobs

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Uber prices could rise by 20% after court ruling

Uber could soon start charging its UK customers VAT, making fares 20% more expensive, after a High Court judgement ruled the taxi service’s business model was unlawful.

Uber sought further legal action following a Supreme Court ruling in February, which declared its drivers were employees and therefore entitled to appropriate benefits, such as sick pay and the minimum wage.

During the Supreme Court case, Lord Leggatt had suggested that Uber’s claim to be simply acting as an “agent” for drivers could violate transport and employment law administered by TfL, though no definitive ruling was made.

A High Court judge ruled that UK private hire taxi operators must make contracts with their customers, rather than the passenger only having a contract with the driver of the vehicle.

The ruling could have far-reaching consequences for the industry as other private hire firms may also have to add VAT to fares. There are more than 1,900 licensed private hire vehicle operators in London.

Image above: App Drivers & Couriers Union protest 

Ruling will ‘transform the London minicab industry’

The case referred to the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 which only applies in the capital, but Uber and the App Drivers and Couriers Union, a defendant in the case, both expect the ruling to be followed by licensing authorities across the UK.

An Uber spokesperson said the court ruling would impact all private hire operators, adding:

“Drivers on Uber are guaranteed at least the National Living Wage, holiday pay and a pension plan but we’re not the only player in town. Other operators must also ensure drivers are treated fairly.”

James Farrar, General Secretary of the App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU), said:

“Rather than fix its broken business model, Uber was determined to double down on misclassification at the cost of worker rights, passenger safety and the avoidance of VAT.

“Our victory will now make misclassification unlawful, transform the London minicab industry for the better and finally eradicate sector wide worker rights abuses.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: TfL confirms OneChiswick has withdrawn Cycleway 9 legal challenge

See also: Further Tube strikes likely as TfL plans to cut 600 jobs

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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Further Tube strikes likely as TfL plans to cut 600 jobs

London’s transport network is likely to be disrupted by further strike action, as unions fight back against Transport for London’s plans to slash hundreds of jobs.

Transport bosses recently outlined plans to shed up to 600 positions, savings which they say will mitigate the effects of the pandemic on London’s finances. The positions are in customer service, where about 250 jobs are currently unfilled. TfL is considering imposing a recruitment freeze on customer services jobs, losing a further 350 posts as and when staff leave.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union said TfL’s proposals are the opening shot in a programme of ‘jobs carnage’ that will target positions which are critical to the safety of Tube stations.

The RMT union confirmed on Tuesday (7 December) it will begin a ballot of over 10,000 members across all membership grades. The union says it will be campaigning for a yes vote in the strike  ballot and made clear that it will take ‘whatever action necessary to prevent staff paying the price for a financial crisis that is not of their making.’ The ballot will close on 10 January.

TfL said discussions were still at an early stage, but insisted the underground would remain well staffed, with more than 4,500 customer service staff remaining across the network.

Strikes have already been called over changes to working conditions involving the Night Tube. RMT members on affected lines are walking out on Friday and Saturday evening shifts every weekend until Christmas. A 24-hour strike is also scheduled for 18 December.

Image above: Tube trains line up at Northfields switching station

TfL’s financial woes make cuts ‘urgently necessary‘ 

TfL has lost billions in tube fares since passengers were told to avoid public transport at the start of the pandemic. London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has appealed to the Government for more emergency funding to cover the shortfall in revenue.

Talks have started between TfL and the Government before an 11 December deadline, when the current deal runs out. TfL is looking for a further £1.7bn in funding until April 2023 and under the existing settlement it has already committed to reduced expenditure.

While demand has come back to around 60% of pre-pandemic levels on weekdays, a TfL report on travel trends published this week said that demand may stay below previous forecasts. The expected rise in journeys after “freedom day” in July when Covid restrictions were lifted.

TfL have said 84% of workers expect to have some form of hybrid working in future, with only about 70% of people yet returning to city workplaces at all.

Nick Dent, London Underground’s director of customer operations, said:

“The devastating impact of the pandemic on our finances has made a programme of change urgently necessary.

“The safety and security of customers and colleagues is still our top priority, and we will ensure in all circumstances our staff will continue to be visible and available to help customers at all times – including offering the on-demand turn up and go service to assist disabled customers.”

Crisis ‘cynically engineered’ by Government

General Secretary Mick Lynch said:

“A financial crisis at TFL has been deliberately engineered by the Government to drive a cuts agenda which would savage jobs, services, safety and threaten the working conditions and‎ pensions of our members.

“Today we have seen the opening salvo in what will become an all out assault on safety critical staff posts with 600 jobs on the block, mainly amongst our station members.

“The ballot opens Monday and we will be campaigning for a massive yes vote. The politicians need to wake up to the fact that transport staff will not pay the price for this cynically engineered crisis and we will coordinate a campaign of resistance with colleagues from other unions impacted by this threat.”

Planned strike action

  • 8.30pm 10 December – 4.29am 11 December Central and Victoria.
  • 8.30pm 11 December – 4.29am 12 December Central and Victoria.
  • 8.30pm 17 December – 4.29am 18 December Central and Victoria.
  • 4.30am 18 December – 4.29am 19 December Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria.

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See also: TfL confirms OneChiswick has withdrawn Cycleway 9 legal challenge

See also: Council urges residents to check new ward boundaries

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Tottenham Hotspur 2, Brentford 0

Just when we thought the Bees had overcome their drop in form, Spurs handed out a salutary lesson while proving that new Italian manager Antonio Conte fully deserves his stellar reputation.

Thomas Frank fielded the same starting line-up as that which saw off Everton just four days previously, and they again looked handy enough during the exchange of opening salvos. But after only 12 minutes an unruly visiting defence rapidly became chaotic, with the ball ending up in the net, don’t know how, don’t know why! The live TV coverage soon revealed that Pontus Jansson’s headed attempted clearance had cannoned from Sergi Canos’s head to speed past keeper Alvaro Fernández.

It may have been that Spurs’ stroke of fortune, by no means unwarranted, deflated Brentford’s ambition. Certainly, as the game progressed they made little headway against a team that gained in confidence.

Images above: Brentford V Tottenham Hotspur on 2 December (Photos via Brenford FC)

Into the second period and Tottenham seemed to move up a gear. Fernández made one spectacular save, for which we were truly grateful, but his distribution was poor, with some of his kicked clearances reminiscent of Hackney Marshes. There seemed to be a timidity about much of Brentford’s work, although not in the case of Ivan Toney – he doesn’t do timidity, or nervousness come to that.

A splendid goal on the break settled the outcome, with Sergio Reguilón collecting from Harry Kane and settling off on a run that took him wide of the Bees’ defence before slotting a perfect cross that the unmarked Son Heung-Min despatched with the minimum of fuss.

Oh well. You can’t win ‘em all, I said to my mate Charlie.

‘Why not? Said Charlie.

Tottenham: Lloris; D Sánchez, Dier, Davies; Leite de Souza Jr (substitute Tanganga), Skipp, Højbjerg, Reguilón; Lucas Moura (sub Winks); Son Heung-Min (sub Bergwijn); Kane.

Brentford:  Fernández; Goode, Jansson, Pinnock; Canós (sub Wissa), Onyeka (sub Baptiste), Nørgaard, Janelt (sub Jensen), Henry); Mbeumo, Toney.

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