Tube strikes planned for weekend evenings for six months

Tube strikes are likely on weekend evenings for the next six months, beginning on Friday 7 January.

Members of the RMT union are striking over plans for all drivers to put on the rota to work overnight shifts to fulfil Transport for London’s promise to reintroduce the night tube service. They are threatening a programme of strikes to run until June.

Victoria and Central lines could be severely disrupted from 7pm onwards on Fridays and Saturdays until 19 June. TfL is advising customers to check before they travel and use buses to complete their journeys where required. Night services on London Overground will run as planned on Friday and Saturday nights between Highbury & Islington and New Cross Gate.

Transport for London (TfL) says it is urging the RMT to join it for talks “as TfL seeks to try and avoid this unnecessary action and resolve this dispute.”

The RMT says TfL has “ripped up” an agreement on staffing the night service and the new rosters would “wreck the work life balance of drivers.”

They say “We remain available for further talks.”

The union has made it clear that the mandate extends to other lines, not just to the Victoria and Central lines and that they will consider broadening the action if London Underground fail to respond.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said;

“If London Underground and the Mayor thought this fight for progressive and family friendly working practices was going away they need to think again.

“Our members have been reballoted and have delivered a solid mandate for action ‎and its the failure of LU and Sadiq Khan to address the grievances at the heart of the dispute that leaves us no option but to confirm the programme of action today.

“RMT has repeatedly put forward cost neutral proposals that would repair the damage unleashed by deleting 200 driver posts and which would dig LU out of this mess. They have ignored us and that approach will have severe consequences for Londoners in the New Year.

In defence of the new night rosters, TfL say:

“This strike action has been called despite the new rosters including assurances that there will be no job cuts, providing certainty and the option of permanent work for those on part-time contracts, and only scheduling up to four night shift weekends per year. Where preferred, these night shifts can be swapped with colleagues for duties at other times of day.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

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

See also: Gunnersbury Park becomes Jurassic Park

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Visitors banned in West London hospitals

Hospitals in North West London have banned visitors because of the spread of the Omicron variant.

The NHS Clinical Commissioning Group for NW London (CCG) said on 5 January that it had banned visitors to its hospitals from Friday 31 December:

‘To keep everyone safe, we can only permit visitors in exceptional circumstances, including:

·         Visiting a child

·         Visiting a patient at the end of their life

·         As a birth partner

·         As a carer

‘Before coming to visit a patient in hospital in exceptional circumstances, please contact the ward or unit to confirm you are able to visit. In areas or on wards where there have been several cases of Covid-19, greater restrictions may be in place.’

Visitors are not currently permitted to go to outpatient appointments or to Accident & Emergency apart from in exceptional circumstances such as where a patient has a regular carer or where the patient is a child (under 16).

NHS NW London CCG said Covid cases had risen significantly, specifically in the over 60s and that the challenge for January was to manage increased hospitalisations.

Care homes and other setting with vulnerable people are being closely monitored for outbreaks, outbreaks already being reported.

‘While we await further information from scientists, what we do know is that Covid in all its variants has the potential to cause significant harm, especially with the very high rates of community transmission we are seeing. It is therefore important that everyone eligible for the vaccine comes forward, including for second and booster doses, protecting themselves and loved ones’ they said.

The NHS Clinical Commissioning Group for NW London include all the GP practices in eight boroughs.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Residents object to Betty’s application for late license at weekends

See also: Gunnersbury Park becomes Jurassic Park

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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Residents object to Betty’s application for late licence at weekends

Image above: Betty’s bar

Residents living close to Betty, the bar-restaurant in Barley Mow Passage, have expressed concern about the restaurant’s application to extend their business opening hours. The owner of Betty Steve Novak has applied for later opening on Friday and Saturday nights.

Betty offers ‘casual dining’ – sharing platters and traditional pub standards, with a range of beers and cocktails and an extensive wine list. The premises also has a lively bar and hosts regular weekend events, which last year included a Halloween fancy dress party and a number of ‘December Discos’.

Since they opened in August Steve has positioned Betty to attract a younger crowd. He has applied to extend the hours in which he can sell alcohol and provide recorded music from 23.30 to 01.00am on Friday and Saturday nights.

Image above: Owner Steve Novak, at Betty’s bar

Residents complain about potential for noise

Margaret Chadderton, Director of Devonhurst Place, has objected to the application on grounds of protection of children from harm and prevention of public nuisance. Devonhurst Place consists of two blocks of flats next door but one Betty. According to Ms Chadderton there are 105 flats and a number of babies and children live there.

Writing to the council, she said:

‘It is not acceptable to have the noise and movement of drinkers extended well into the early hours when children (and adults!) need their sleep. It is bad enough now.

‘Residents have complained about the number of people congregating outside our gates here after they have left Betty. Things will get even worse in warmer weather when residents have their windows open and Betty drinkers will linger longer outside. Betty is surrounded by flats and the people who live in them should be allowed a reasonable quality of life.’

Jardine Appleton wrote that she had already made a couple of noise complaints against Betty premises, in particular during the last Anthony Joshua fight and on Halloween when they were open until 2am.

‘The passage way is basically a noise funnel as everything echos, particularly at night when there isn’t much other sound to block out the music coming from Betty.’

Ms Appleton also said she was concerned about her own safety as a single woman:

‘I am also concerned about public safety as I come home at all hours from my job as a landlady. I do not want random, intoxicated people directly outside my flat door until 3am on weekends. As a single female, I am concerned about my own safety.’

Image above: Devonhurst Place

Turnham Green Ward councillor Joanna Biddolph suggested Betty’s be required to ensure its customers leave quietly and leave the area completely. This would require ‘firm management to intervene’, not just signs put up.

‘There is great concern about disturbance from regular late nights’ she wrote, ‘the change has hit residents hard.

‘One of the difficulties is that this site has not before had a late night (other than very occasional) clientele. Both recent occupants, Sam’s and Foxlow, were more family orientated and / or attracted a quieter customer so demand for late night events was rare.

‘We want our night-time economy to thrive but, given that every road in Turnham Green ward is also a residential road, it is essential to have a mutually respectful coexistence between hospitality businesses and people trying to get a decent night’s sleep before work the next day.’

Images above: Betty, Barley Mow Passsage exterior and interior

‘No neighbours have been negatively affected’ since Betty opened, says owner

The Chiswick Calendar contacted Mr Novak to ask if he would like to respond to any of the representations submitted to the council. He said he would prefer not to comment on specific objections prior to the upcoming licensing panel hearing on Tuesday 11 January, where he will plead his case to councillors.

In his application he states:

– The premises has traded for nearly six months without incident.
– Temporary event notices have been used on several occasions without incident.
– No neighbours have been negatively affected by the operation of the premises and no police have attended any incident and this is expected to continue by adhering to professional operational standards

On preventing public nuisance should the licence be granted, Mr Novak said:

‘No increase in volume will be required in the later hours requested. No live music will be performed in the hours requested… All customers will be requested to leave quietly by staff and signage.’

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: A Weatherspoons in Chiswick?

See also: Gunnersbury Park becomes Jurassic Park

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.

Traffic-free Fisher’s Lane given final sign-off by LB Hounslow

Image above: Fisher’s Lane

The traffic restrictions at Fisher’s Lane, making it cycles and buses only, have been made permanent, following a decision by Hounslow’s department for Traffic, Transport & Parking.

LB Ealing councillors ratified a recommendation in September 2021 to make the traffic restrictions on Fisher’s Lane permanent and the last thing needed to make the change permanent was approval from LB Hounslow.

The road, which goes under the railway bridge, linking South Parade with Chiswick High Rd, falls partly under the jurisdiction of LB Hounslow and partly under LB Ealing, with the borough boundary at the rail bridge. The change was introduced under a joint experimental traffic order published, and made by LB Ealing on behalf of both authorities and widely consulted on.

READ ALSO: Fisher’s Lane traffic ban here to stay

READ ALSO: Motorists still ignoring Fisher’s Lane closure

Hounslow took into consideration the consultation feedback as well as prior data analysis. Cycle counts were done on Fisher’s Lane before and after the closure of the road to general motor traffic, showing an increase in cycling of 140% between November 2019 and September 2020. Further counts, undertaken in September 2021, show an increase of 150 – 200% in cycle volumes compared with pre-covid data from late 2019.

The council said this indicates the scheme has been successful in one of its main goals, to create an environment more attractive to cyclists. Further counts and surveys will be done this autumn.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Residents object to Betty’s application for late licence at weekends

See also: Gunnersbury Park becomes Jurassic Park

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.

Consultation launched for 4.1km extension of Cycleway 9

Transport for London is asking people to comment on newly unveiled plans for a major extension to west London’s Cycleway 9 route. The plans include an extra 4.1km of new, protected cycle lanes stretching from Brentford High Street to Hounslow High Street.

On some sections, the cycle lanes would be ‘bi-directional’: this means that there would be two adjacent tracks for cyclists, one in each direction. On other sections, there would be a single cycle track on each side of the road and pavement space being used where it is sufficiently wide.

But just like Chiswick HIgh Rd, the new measures would require the conversion of at least 18 bus stops in the Brentford and Isleworth area to ‘bus stop bypasses’, meaning bus passengers would have to cross the cycleway to wait for a bus.

A number of parking bays will be lost with some single yellow lines replaced with double yellow lines.

TfL says the planned changes between Brentford and Hounslow would make thousands of walking and cycling journeys each week safer and easier, enabling more people to use healthier and more sustainable forms of travel. They add that enabling alternative forms of transport in the capital is vital in reducing air pollution.

“Too many people are being hurt in collisions in the local area. In the three years up to May 2021, there were 102 collisions on the A315 between the junction of Brentford High Street with Alexandra Road and the junction of Hounslow High Street with School Road which resulted in someone being hurt. Four people walking and nine people cycling were seriously injured, and that’s simply too many.

“There is too much traffic in the local area. Some trips can only be made with a vehicle, but there are a huge number of much shorter trips that are currently made by car that could be walked or cycled. But people often tell us that they are put off cycling, for example because they are frightened of traffic. Our proposals are designed to give people the confidence to give cycling a go.”

The changes would form part of a series of infrastructure upgrades by TfL, Hammersmith & Fulham Council and Hounslow Council along the busy Cycleway 9 corridor, which TfL says enables thousands of residents, visitors and families to cycle safely.

Work on Chiswick High Road has created a protected route for cycling using light segregation wands, while Hammersmith & Fulham Council is constructing a Safer Cycling Pathway between Goldhawk Road and Hammersmith Gyratory. A protected space for cycling has been created on the South Circular Road by Kew Bridge and TfL started work in November 2021 to transform the Hammersmith Gyratory for cycling.

The consultation is now open and people will be able to have their say on the plans until Wednesday 16 February 2022. Construction on the extension would be dependent on TfL securing a sufficient long-term future funding agreement with Government. TfL is consulting now will allow time for assessment of public responses and ensure the design is deliverable while discussions with the Government are ongoing. 

Image above: proposals to extend  and link up Cycleway 9 from Hounslow into Brentford – Image by TfL.

TfL working closely with LB Hounslow to extend Cycleway 9 

TfL is working closely with LB Hounslow on proposals to extend Cycleway 9 farther west into Brentford. The proposals will be launched formally in early in 2022.

Michael Robinson, co-ordinator Hounslow Cycling Campaign, borough group of London Cycling Campaign, welcomed this. He told The Chiswick Calendar:

“The objective of Cycleway 9 plans in Hounslow have always been to link the town centres of Hounslow, Brentford and Chiswick and the section between Brentford and Hounslow is the last section to go to consultation. This will provide borough residents with better choice to use healthy and non-polluting transport.
“When complete, this will provide a protected cycling route all the way from Hounslow town centre as far as Greenwich and Stratford with the only gap being through the shameful Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
“Hounslow Cycling Campaign will be going through the plans in detail and providing our feedback as part of the consultation.”

Image above: proposals to extend Chiswick’s section of Cycleway 9 to Brentford though these have not been launched yet – Image by TfL.

Council recommends public take part in consultation

Councillor Hanif Khan, Hounslow Council Cabinet Member for Transport, said:

This consultation is a great opportunity for anyone who lives, works or visits our borough to give their views on TfL’s proposal to extend Cycleway 9, from Brentford to Hounslow. I would like to encourage as many people as possible to get involved in the conversation.

“The ability for more people to have safer cycling journeys, and to connect more areas of London to a cycling network, is a vital part of our work to support healthier lifestyles, free up space on public transport, and encourage more people away from private car journeys.”

Read more about the detail of the proposed changes here:
TfL Brentford to Hounslow walking and cycling changes.

Take part in the consultation here: C9 extension consultation

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Traffic-free Fisher’s Lane given final sign-off by LB Hounslow

See also: Gunnersbury Park becomes Jurassic Park

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.

 

Andrea’s film review – Hawkeye

Hawkeye ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Series based on the Marvel Comics superhero Hawkeye, focusing on the adventures of Young Avenger, Kate Bishop, who took on the role after the original Avenger, Clint Barton. On Disney +

I hate to say this, but all the nerdy and geeky online criticisms about this latest Marvel series on Disney+ I had glimpsed across over the past six weeks (even though I was actively trying to stay away from spoilers), turned out to be true.

This is a baggy, slow, low-key series that should have been four episodes and not six.

For a start, for something that’s named Hawkeye there doesn’t seem be enough of him, especially in the earlier episodes. In fact Marvel seems to be more concerned about setting up the character Kate Bishop (though bagging Hailee Steinfeld is quite a coup).

I’m sure they’re trying to plant the seeds for some future films especially now that Black Widow has gone and they need to raise the women quota, but I thought the balance between the two characters was definitely wrong and we should have arrived to her character via Hawkeye instead of running the two stories in parallel.

It’s as if the makers of this latest entry in the multi-million-dollar franchise machine, didn’t quite trust or believe their own main character and felt they had to pair him up with somebody else. They even jokingly admit that throughout the series itself (though acknowledging it doesn’t necessarily make it any better, to be honest).

Also – and this is my biggest complaint – the whole thing really felt drawn out and padded with superfluous scenes and slow character beats and crucially lacking on any real momentum to push you from one episode to the next.

The first real “wake up call”, a rather impressive car chase sequence, only happened on the third episode, but beyond that, there’s very little to impress the average viewer. In fact, after watching it only about a week ago, I’m already struggling to remember anything else.

There are a couple of nice surprise appearances in the last few episodes (don’t worry, no spoilers here), but they’re mainly for the hard-core fans and one in particular feels a very much wasted in the end.

The fights scenes go through the motions, the dialogue is not as sharp as they would like you to believe, the plot is very predictable and the twists are so apparent that even my nine year old son saw them coming.

Of course this is a perfectly serviceable product, with enough tongue-in-cheek / wink-wink lines, action and fan-service to pass by, but in a time when Spider-Man: No Way Home is aiming so high and breaking all the records out in the cinemas, being modest and low-key (even if it was intentional) felt to me slightly disappointing and I was almost watching it out of duty.

Nowadays, this MCU such an intricate soap-opera-like affair that you feel like you have to catch up with all of them, rather than out of pleasure.

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

Hawkeye is available to watch on Disney +

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.

Brentford FC’s Peter Gilham awarded a BEM

Image above: Peter Gilham; photograph Brentford FC

Brentford FC announcer & community volunteer awarded prestigious honour

Peter Gilham has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours list with a British Empire Medal for services to Association Football and to the community in the London Borough of Hounslow.

While Peter has served the club in a number of roles over the years, it is primarily his voluntary role as match day announcer and his work in the local community that have been recognised by this honour.

Peter joins an elite list of medallists of the Order of the British Empire as part of the first New Year Honours list to be signed off by King Charles III.

Image above: Brentford Community Stadium

Brentford FC “thrilled” Peter’s services recognised

Cliff Crown, chair of Brentford FC, said:

“We are thrilled to hear that Peter has been recognised for his services to football and to the local community.

“He has announced at more than 1,500 Brentford games and is the longest-serving match day announcer in the United Kingdom.

“That dedication has rightfully earned him the name ‘Mr Brentford’ from our fans. Peter’s the voice of our club and we are so proud that he has won this award – our heartfelt congratulations go to him.

“In addition, his work with the Brentford Lifeline Society and charities such as CRY and Hounslow Community FoodBox has helped so many local people, driving awareness and fundraising for such important causes.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Former leader of Hounslow Council awarded MBE in New Year’s Honours

See also: Planners recommend approval for TfL car park on ‘wildlife reserve’

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.

Brentford 2 Aston Villa 1

Image above: Brentford v Aston Villa, 2 January 2022

It is a much-repeated maxim that Brentford always play much better against highly talented teams. Witness their bravura against Manchester City when edged out by the only goal of the match just four days prior to Aston Villa’s visit to the Community Stadium. Witness also their uncoordinated scramble in the early stages of this game, conceding a goal after a quarter of an hour and threatening capitulation to a side that played prettily but rarely dangerously.

For half-an-hour the defence struggled to contain a lively Villa attack, in which Danny Ings and Emiliano Buendía linked up to negate the mysterious absence of ex-Bee Ollie Watson. Indeed, it was this pairing that put the visitors in front, with Buendía turning on a sixpence, whatever that may be, to feed Ings with a superb ball through the middle. Ings placed his shot perfectly beyond the reach of Alvaro Fernández.

Image above: Under pressure: 0-1 down, Bees defend a corner

As for the Brentford attack, Ivan Toney and Yoane Wissa foraged willingly but fruitlessly in front of a midfield in which only Mathias Jensen made much impression, hampered as he was by having to help out at the back and a tendency to overhit some of his airborne creative passes.

With only three minutes of the forty-five first-half time remaining, Mads Roerslev produced the pass that enabled Wissa to break free of the defence and score a goal as excellently executed as Ings.’ The shot curved away from Martinez whose dive at full strength could not prevent it whistling inside a post.

Image above: Brentford v Aston Villa, 2 January 2022

Scoring just before the break is believed to pep up a side and it certainly seemed to do so for Brentford. The pattern of play looked much the same after the interval, but there was a greater urgency and precision from the Bees even if Villa continued to have the beating of them in retaining possession.

The home side struggled to get into the Villa half, but then they did and the introduction of Vitaly Janelt brought discipline and grit to the midfield.

With the referee, Craig Pawson, displaying eccentric decisions that hindered both sides, the sort of cohesive rhythm we have come to love from Brentford began slowly to re-establish itself.

Frank Onyeka, despite being clattered several times by the opposition, drew a fine save from Martinez and Toney, while not offering his trademark dominance of the opposition back four, was always a danger. And so it was left to Roerslev to snatch the winner, finding himself in space and producing a fierce shot that the goalkeeper could only parry into the wing-back’s path. The follow-up shot was too much for Martinez and Roerslev became the hero of the day, even if his overall contribution had been patchy at best and worrying at worse.

Villa, whose goal-scoring opportunities had been rare, almost snatched a draw, but Fernández saved at full stretch from Ings. And then, as devotees of social media were soon to know, inside the final minute Villa substitute Trézéguet, shepherded by sub Saman Ghoddos, progressed into the Bees’ penalty area before throwing himself to the ground in the worst piece of acting since Dick Van Dyke’s cockney accent in the first Mary Poppins film.

Ghoddos departed with the ball and the Villa supporters headed for the exits, although it wasn’t clear whether it was the result that dismayed them or sheer embarrassment at Trézéguet’s ludicrous dive.

Image above: Play on: McGinn hits the turf between Onyeka and Canós 

At the final whistle the home crowd exploded as if their team had won the League and the music blasting from the PA system saw spontaneous dancing break out, including some funky arm-waving from Player Welfare Manager Peter Gilham near the technical area. Once again Brentford had snatched victory from the jaws of disappointment and the crowd loved them for it.

‘We should have taken at least a draw out of the game,’ Villa superstar coach Steven Gerrard told Sky TV. ‘That’s what stings more than anything.’ And Thomas Frank told the BBC, ‘We’ve played half our games in the Premier League; with the injuries we’ve had I think it’s incredible what we’ve done.’

The dancing fans would have agreed with every word.

It’s all very catchy, I observed to my mate Charlie.

‘Okay, but only if I lead,’ said Charlie.

Brentford: Fernández; Pinnock, Jansson, Bech Sørensen; Roerslev, Onyeka (substitute Janelt), Nørgaard, Jensen (sub Baptiste), Canós (sub Ghoddos); Wissa, Toney.

Aston Villa: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Hause, Targett; McGinn, Douglas Luiz, J Ramsey (sub Sanson); Traoré (sub Trézéguet), Ings, Buendía.

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

Photographs Liz Vercoe.

 

A big thank you to Chiswick Calendar readers 

Presents stacked up at Outsider Tart

A huge thanks to Chiswick Calendar readers who made a bunch of refugee children’s first Christmas in this country memorable in a good way.

The owners of Outsider Tart, David Lesniak and David Muniz, gave Christmas lunch to some 100 refugees who are being housed in local hotels, including 25 children.

One of their regular customers Ray Elias put out a call for Christmas presents for the children and Chiswick Calendar readers responded, dropping off enough for the children to have four presents each, with three sacks left over which will go to other refugee children or to a children’s hospital.

“It went really well” David Lesniak told The Chiswick Calendar. They held a buffet style lunch on Christmas day so people could come and go as they pleased and eat at the cafe or take food away with them as they preferred.

They had invited refugees who the Home Office has housed temporarily in west London hotels, through the charity West London Welcome. There were several translators on hand but the language barrier meant communication was mainly in nods and smiles.

“You could tell how much they enjoyed it because the kids were playing and smiling. It was lovely to see” said David.

Image above: Ray gives a thumbs up to all the contributions

Ray set himself the goal of getting each child three presents, which he surpassed, with a total of 450 presents.

“I was shocked and stunned by the generosity of people in Chiswick” he told us. “People already on holiday, one in Poland, one in Switzerland, a couple in America even responded by buying toys off Amazon and getting them delivered to the cafe.”

He had a major task to wrap and tag them all, making sure all the children got appropriate presents. On the day, a family who go to Outsider Tart regularly went and helped out with the organisation.

Both Ray and the two Davids wanted to say a big thank you to Chiswick Calendar readers for their contributions.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Vanessa Redgrave leads list of west London people to receive New Year’s honours

See also: Richard Osman talks about addiction and success on Desert Island Discs

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 Post Office redevelopment backed by LB Hounslow

LB Hounslow are set to consider a report outlining visions for the future of the borough’s town centres, including Chiswick, at an upcoming cabinet meeting.

Councillors will be presented with a series of ‘big ideas’ for the future of the High Road. Many of the ideas are described as ‘aspirational’ but the report does reveal confirmation that a major redevelopment of the Post Office building is being considered and will have the active support of the council.

A new ‘civic cluster’ is being recommended in the centre of Chiswick, which would provide links between the library, the Town Hall, the Church on Turnham Green and the new development on the Post Office site. The cluster would aim to unlock new potential uses for the library and the Town Hall.

The report talks of ‘bringing forward’ the redevelopment of the delivery office and some form of community use being maintained on the ground floor but with no specific mention of a Post Office.

The projects set out within the big ideas for Chiswick are designed as a starting point to understand how the vision could be realised. An economic resilience strategy sits alongside and underpins the vision, setting out the approach and practical steps needed to achieve the vision for Chiswick town centre.

Hounslow’s town centres and neighbourhood parades have been severely impacted by the pandemic. Retail, leisure, cultural and hospitality have had to adapt to ongoing, changing restrictions on their operations. The impact of the pandemic has exacerbated and accelerated pre-pandemic trends such as a shift to on-line shopping and challenges historic business models.

Image above: Chiswick High Road

Removal of clutter and more green planting planned

The report states:

“Chiswick has many strengths which require a commitment to careful and sensitive management, rather than change.”

It is proposing a range of measures that would serve to improve the local street scene including the reduction of street clutter and more green planting, more support for independent businesses and building on the success of initiatives such as the Flower Market.

Surveys taken earlier in the engagement exercise for developing the strategy showed a high level of opposition to the Cycleway in Chiswick. When asked in a subsequent survey last year what they would consider to be a ‘quick and easy’ way to improve the High Road, the largest group of respondents (19%) said that Cycleway 9 should be reconsidered with the second largest group saying Street Space projects could be considered.

14% suggested improved walking and cycling routes with 7% saying more traffic calming was needed. The survey also showed a strong desire for improved community engagement from the council among Chiswick residents.

The report concludes that Chiswick should have:

“A holistic movement strategy that recognises Chiswick High Road is a town centre that should support a balanced mix of modes and local access movements.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Met to increase number of police officers on the street

See also: Gunnersbury Park becomes Jurassic Park

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.

Discover Bedford Park with poet WB Yeats

Images above: CGI of new Yeats sculpture planned to be unveiled in June; WB Yeats

LB Ealing pledges £8,000 to Yeats project

London Borough of Ealing have just pledged £8,000 to the project, Discover Bedford Park with poet WB Yeats, as one of a number of community-led projects to receive grants under the Future Ealing transformation programme to improve the borough.

Along with a gift of £2,000 from Irish author, journalist, and Bedford Park resident Polly Devlin, this takes the organisers to 61% of their fundraising target just three weeks after launching their crowdfunding appeal.

The project will provide what the Yeats committee describes as “a total education/arts/heritage poetry-places visitor-experience bringing local people of all ages & backgrounds, and arts/poetry-lovers worldwide, to explore Yeats’s boyhood London neighbourhood”.

It encompases school work packs and resources as well as a programme of live events and online ways of discovering more about Yeats, such as a trail around his childhood neighbourhood you can download to your phone.

The grant from LB Ealing recognises the fact that Bedford Park is 60% within Ealing borough and makes Ealing one of the larger donors to the overall WB Yeats Bedford Park Project after London Borough of Hounslow, Royal Academy of Arts, Embassy of Ireland and local Chiswick-based Irish poet Anne-Marie Fyfe, followed by The Josephine Hart Poetry Hour, Dukes Education and almost 400 others including actors, writers, musicians, celebrities, architects, academics, artists, community organisations and – mostly – local Chiswick, Ealing and West London residents.   

And it recognises the fact that the Yeats family, after living in Woodstock Road (now in Hounslow) when young WB Yeats was a teenager, lived at No.3 to Blenheim Road (in Ealing Borough) from 1888 to 1902, with many of the key landmarks on the planned Discovery tour within Ealing’s borders.

Conrad Shawcross Studios are already in the process of creating the project’s dazzling Enwrought Light artwork for delivery and installation at the “gateway” to Bedford Park in time for Irish Nobel-Prize-winning poet WB Yeats’s “birthday” on 13 June which falls during this year’s Bedford Park Festival.

Project organiser, Irish poet, broadcaster and long-time local resident, Cahal Dallat, has written this guest blog for The Chiswick Calendar to persuade us we should all “discover” Bedford Park through the life, times and poetry of its famous former resident.

Image above: the Bedford Park Yeats trail

What’s to “discover” in Bedford Park and why we need Yeats to lead the exploration?

Guest blog by Cahal Dallat

In some ways Celebrate Yeats in Bedford Park was an easy story to tell visually, with, at its centre, Conrad Shawcross’s dazzling vision of poet WB Yeats’s genius springing from the very ground on which the young poet walked between the “roadway” and the “pavement grey” of his much-loved poem The Lake Isle of Innisfree: the place where, like Shawcross’s spiralling gyre of “golden and silver light” to quote from another very-Bedford-Park poem, he “bade his soul rise upwards”.

Now the artwork phase of the project’s coming to fruition, thanks to our having reached our £135K crowdfund target in July, we’re coming up to the final hurdle on the last lap and appealing once again for a much smaller sum to create a free, public, living “open-air museum” of arts, architecture and ideas around the Yeats/Bedford-Park story.

Enwrought Light will bring locals and international visitors alike to Bedford Park as a literary and cultural landmark, and we want them all, simply by clicking a QR code on the information signage with a smartphone, iPad or tablet, to unlock the magical story of how the uniquely Utopian, progressive, aesthetic Arts-&-Crafts atmosphere and Bohemian/artistic community of nineteenth-century Bedford Park, a pastoral haven in the middle of industrialised Victorian London, fostered the genius of an Irish migrant family and produced the only Nobel-Prize-winning poet to have been raised in England, with Bedford Park as the crucible that transmuted a young London schoolboy’s love of Irish landscape, legends and lore into Nobel gold!

Image above: Yeats’ house

Why Yeats and Bedford Park matter to the world

Yeats’s influence far outreaches his poetry, of course, having created a cultural revival in his native Ireland (he was born in Dublin but the family moved to London before he was two) which would lead to his country taking its place among nations – just as many of his Bedford Park friends were influential in campaigning for Indian independence and shaping the modern world – just as so many of Bedford Park’s “ideas” (multi-culturalism, egalitarianism, independence, vegetarianism, a anti-imperialism, votes for women, ending sex discrimination and seeking Eastern spirituality) would become the template for the 1960s and the second half of the twentieth century.

That’s a cultural heritage in which all of us in Chiswick and Ealing should take pride: yet until now local school children have learned little about the local schoolkid who became not only an outstanding literary genius but a poet whose work speaks to, and is loved by, ordinary people in poems such as Down by the Salley Gardens, When You Are Old, He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven and Innisfree.

Local migrant and migrant-heritage families, including London-Irish, have little idea not just of how the Bedford Park community nurtured, even created, artistic genius, but how its multi-cultural ambience was central to its art and ideas, with one of Britain’s first Asian MPs living here alongside Russian and Ukrainian exiles, French painters, Icelandic folklorists, Buddhists, Theosophists and Transcendentalist Americans!

Images above: a sketch of Yeats, Yeats’ blue plaque in Chiswick

Googling our way around history

Our smartphone “walk” – which expands on the story we’ve been telling on our Yeats Land of Heart’s Desire guided strolls for many years – will take anyone with a personal device (and we know this will engage so many, teens and young adults particularly, who wouldn’t go to a formal lecture or enroll on a literary tour) around ten key Bedford Park locations, the Yeats family’s two addresses, St Michael and All Angels, the family’s parish church whose symbolism so inspired Yeats, the Bedford Park Club (now the London Buddhist Vihara) where young Yeats attended Buddhist lectures and saw the local amateur dramatics that inspired his theatrical career and the world famous Abbey Theater… and many more.

Google directions will take the visitor to each point-of-interest, radiating out from newly-erected Enwrought Light (we need to raise funds to launch the discovery project at the same time as the artwork’s unveiling) and will tell the Yeats/Bedford-Park story of that location, with images, a short info-talk, on-screen and audio, and a Yeats poem read by National Theatre actor Ciarán Hinds who’s one of our project patrons and whose reading of He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven inspired Conrad Shawcross’s gold-and-silver Yeatsian vision.

The Total Package

But Discover… doesn’t end with the smartphone tour: we’re developing Yeats/Bedford-Park poetry workbooks with the help of local schools to have children learn and understand selected Yeats poems, own their local literary heritage, and – inspired by suitably simply Yeats themes, from those poems everyone knows, loves, and quotes from as easily as they quote Shakespeare – to write their own poems as a start on their route to the next generation of Nobel literature prizes!

As the total visitor-experience can be experienced individually or collectively we’re reaching out to community groups across Ealing and Hounslow, just as we’re involving schools, to ensure that everyone shares ownership of this unique heritage and exciting cultural moment in the area’s history, inviting everyone to an open lecture on Yeats and Bedford Park before the June launch/unveiling explaining the story, the artwork the importance of Yeats to Bedford Park and vice versa: and the unveiling itself will be an open-air public event but with invited speakers, celebrities and a post-launch reception for invited schools and community representatives, plus a celebrity Yeats poetry reading in the evening as part of the Bedford Park Festival.

And to take the message to the wider world we’re having a promotional video made for social-media platforms and arts and tourist what’s-on sites… inviting visitors, individuals, families, cultural tourists, Yeats fans, and art and architecture enthusiasts from around the world to visit Bedford Park: all good for the area and good for local small businesses including hospitality, on the terrace and at Bedford Park Corner and South Parade, springing back into life after two inhospitable years!

After raising £25K to launch the organisation, cover talks, consultations, professional surveys and planning application we were astounded by the generosity that took us to £135K so quickly in July 2021.

For the final phase, the last lap, the icing on the cake that gives everyone a share of the Yeats story and Bedford Park’s unique legacy, we need £24.5K, £5K already raised from donations and, with today’s announcement of £8,000 from Future Ealinand £2,000 from Polly Devlin ,we just need another £9.5K to kick off the whole web, video, school-work pack, lecture and readings programme, that will tell the world of Bedford Park’s, and Ealing and Chiswick’s outstanding contribution to world culture.

Pledges via: spacehive.com/discover-bedford-park-with-wb-yeats

Info on: wbyeatsbedfordpark.com

Contact: cahal.dallat@wbyeatsbedfordpark.com

Cahal Dallat is the Discover Bedford Park with poet WB Yeats project organiser, Irish poet, broadcaster and long-time local resident of Chiswick

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Vanessa Redgrave leads list of west London people to receive New Year’s honours

See also: Richard Osman talks about addiction and success on Desert Island Discs

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Vanessa Redgrave leads list of west London people to receive New Year’s honours

Vanessa Redgrave has been made a dame in the 2022 New Year’s honours. The veteran actor and campaigner was awarded for her services to drama.

Others from west London to be awarded this time round include Chiswick businessman Steven Cooper, CEO of Aldermore Group and Co-Chair of the Social Mobility Commission, who was awarded a CBE for services to banking and social mobility, and a Sixth Form student at Latymer Upper School, Nina Andersen, who was awarded a British Empire Medal for services to the elderly.

Vanessa Redgrave ‘surprised’

Vanessa Redgrave is regarded as one of Britain’s greatest actors and has received a number of awards, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Television Award, two Golden Globe Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and a Tony Award.

She is known almost as much for her politics and campaigning as she is for her acting. She joined the Workers Revolutionary Party in the 1970s, running for parliament several times without success.

She funded a documentary about the situation of Palestinian people, The Palestinian in 1997 by selling her house and in 1984 she sued the Boston Symphony Orchestra, claiming that the orchestra had fired her from a performance because of her support of the PLO. Redgrave won on a count of breach of contract, but did not win on the claim that the Boston orchestra had violated her civil rights by firing her.

She has served as a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador and in 2004, she and her brother Corin Redgrave launched the Peace and Progress Party, which campaigned against the Iraq War and for human rights. She has been an outspoken critic of the so-called ‘war on terror’.

She made her directorial debut in December 2016 in Hammersmith Town Hall with her documentary film about refugees, ‘Sea Sorrow’ about the camps at Calais and the danger and desperation of the Channel crossings. She lives in Hammersmith.

Image above: Vanessa Redgrave in Murder on the Orient Express

Vanessa Redgrave rose to prominence in 1961 playing Rosalind in As You Like It with the Royal Shakespeare Company and has since starred in more than 35 productions in London’s West End and on Broadway, winning the 1984 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Revival for The Aspern Papers, and the 2003 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for the revival of Long Day’s Journey into Night. She also received Tony nominations for The Year of Magical Thinking and Driving Miss Daisy.

On screen, she has starred in scores of films and is a six-time Oscar nominee, winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the title role in the film Julia (1977). Her other nominations were for Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966), Isadora (1968), Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), The Bostonians (1984) and Howards End (1992). Among her other films are A Man for All Seasons (1966), Blowup (1966), Camelot (1967), The Devils (1971), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), Prick Up Your Ears (1987), Mission: Impossible (1996), Atonement (2007), Coriolanus (2011) and The Butler (2013).

One of her recent parts was the narrator, the older Jenny in Call The Midwife. She also played the overbearing mother of painter L.S. Lowry in Mrs. Lowry & Son, with Timothy Spall playing Lowrie.

A member of the Redgrave family of actors, she is the daughter of Sir Michael Redgrave and Lady Redgrave (the actress Rachel Kempson), the sister of Lynn Redgrave and Corin Redgrave, the mother of actresses Joely Richardson and Natasha Richardson, the aunt of British actress Jemma Redgrave, and the mother-in-law of actor Liam Neeson.

Now 84, she was given the award for her services to drama and told the Press Association:

‘I’m surprised and grateful to join this wondrous group of British artists whose work has inspired me and audiences the world over. My generation fought for freedom of expression. Long may this remain.’

Chiswick businessman ‘honoured’ to be awarded a CBE

Chiswick resident Steven Cooper, CEO of Aldermore Group, said he was honoured to receive the CBE and that he was passionate about social mobility. The commissioners wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister in October highlighting how ‘the choices people make are circumscribed by the impacts of economic status and place.’

‘The fundamental truth of social mobility remains stark’ it said and ‘we need to move fast.

‘We write now at clearly the most critical time in living memory. The pandemic will have an enormous impact for decades to come. People have lost their jobs, their loved ones, their way of life.

‘With the ending of furlough, benefit changes and a cost of living crisis there are more difficulties ahead. But there is now a huge opportunity to rebuild people’s lives. Trains, bridges and roads are important but people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, should not be overlooked. They need skills, training, opportunity, support and hope, wherever they live.’

Steven has lived in the area for 15 years. The Aldermore Group consists of two operating companies: Aldermore Bank plc provides finance to business owners, homeowners and landlords, while MotoNovo Finance Limited provides financing for buying cars, vans and motorcycles.

Before taking over as CEO of Aldermore Group Stephen was previously Group CEO of C. Hoare & Co, a leading UK private bank, and a senior executive at Barclays. He spent 30 years at Barclays, starting as a branch cashier and working his way up to lead several of their major businesses

Commenting on his CBE he said:

“I am humbled to receive this honour. I’m passionate about increasing social mobility and it’s been a privilege to work with so many fantastic people over the years who are committed to addressing disadvantage and exclusion.”

The Social Mobility Commission is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Cabinet Office.

Latymer sixth former gets BEM for letter writing initiative

Image above: Nina Andersen with some of the hand written correspondence

Nina Andersen, a Sixth Form student at Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith, has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM), which are awarded to people for a ‘hands-on’ service to the local community.

Nina, 18, who lives in Putney, is being recognised for her intergenerational initiative, known as ‘Community Senior Letters’, a non-profit community project which matches students in schools with residents in care homes.

It has given the elderly people involved a human connection which has helped to ease feelings of isolation and loneliness, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

The idea of connecting primary and secondary schools with care homes was inspired by her visits to care home residents before COVID-19. Nina felt writing letters could really help to lift spirits and put a smile on the residents’ faces, while the students involved develop valuable skills – not just writing but also kindness and empathy.

She single-handedly linked almost 70,000 school children from primary schools in London, Edinburgh and Dublin as well as schools over 20 different countries internationally with care homes in their areas.

More than 250 care homes and more than 250 schools, both in the UK and internationally, have become involved, writing hundreds of thousands of letters. There have been letters sent from all corners of the globe – North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The scheme has had coverage all over the media, including items in CBBC Newsround, The Telegraph and The Independent. Nina has also been recognised in the prime minister’s Points of Light Award, Children and Young People Now: Children’s Achievement Award and Hammersmith & Fulham Covid-19 Champion Award.

Nina and her initiative also feature in One Hundred Reasons to Hope, the book that Captain Sir Tom Moore was working on before he died and Nina is now working with The Captain Tom Foundation to promote her own book, as they share a similar mission – reducing loneliness and bridging the gap between young and old people.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick RNLI celebrates 20 years of search and rescue on the Thames

See also: Met to increase number of police officers on the street

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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

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January books 2022

What’s new and good to read this month? Annakarin Klerfalk has a look at what’s on offer and chooses To Paradise, The Christie Affair and The Woman Who Came Back to Life, all out in January.

Hanya Yanagihara, the author of the highly acclaimed books The People in the Trees and A Little Life, has her third book coming out.

To Paradise

To Paradise consists of three stories, all set in New York City, a hundred years apart. The first part opens in an alternative version of America, in 1893, where New York is part of the Free States. A place where people may live and love anybody, despite their gender.

The second part is set in 1993, during the AIDS epidemic – and the final and third part takes place in 2093, in a world that is consumed by pandemics.

Hanya Yanagihara told The Cut magazine that her hope is that “readers will see reflected in its pages some of the questions we’ve all been asking about this country’s premise, especially over the past four years.”

Alice O’Keeffe from The Bookseller said “it is an extraordinary novel; powerfully imagined and deeply moving.”

Picador will publish this epic, contemporary classic, on 11 January.

Images above: To Paradise cover, author Hanya Yanagihara

The Christie Affair

The Christie Affair, by Nina de Gramont, tells an intriguing new theory of why Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days.

Agatha Christie and her husband Archie, lived in a world of London town homes, country houses and tennis matches – and in the middle of it was Nan O’Dea; Archie’s mistress. Christie and Nan O’Dea come across a dark secret and, despite all their differences, they turn into allies.

What is Nan after, really? And why does she hold the key to the secret?

Author Elizabeth Macneal, said “I was enthralled, moved and entertained by The Christie Affair. This is a book which has it all – romance, enigma and wit in bucketloads. What’s more, its devilishly good plot could out-do those written by Agatha Christie herself.”

Macmillan will release The Christie Affair on 20 January.

Images above: The Christie Affair front cover, author Nina De Gramont

The Woman Who Came Back to Life

The Woman Who Came Back to Life is Beth Miller’s fifth novel and early readers say it’s “funny, moving and uplifting.”

The story is told in three separate narratives: Pearl, Carrie and Francis, giving the reader different perspectives on what happened.

The main character, Pearl Flowers, lives alone in a cottage in France. She follows the same, strict routine every day because it stops her thinking about the past. But then her distant father, Francis, dies, leaving her his old diaries. As she reads them, Pearl realises that each page is addressed to her and she is forced to face the truth.

Will Pearl let the world back into her life again and take a second chance at happiness?

The Woman Who Came Back to Life is published by Bookouture on 5 January.

Images above: The Woman Who Came Back To Life front cover, author Beth Miller

Annakarin Klerfalk

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

intersaga.co.uk

See more of Anna’s book choices here

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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Chiswick RNLI celebrates 20 years of search and rescue

Images above: Chiswick lifeboat rescues

In January 2022 Chiswick RNLI and the other three Thames lifeboat stations celebrate 20 years of search and rescue on the tidal river. The stations at Chiswick and Tower Bridge are now the busiest lifeboat stations in the whole of the UK and Ireland, but it took a major disaster for the need for an emergency service on the river to be realised.

The judge in the inquiry into the tragic sinking of the Marchioness in which 51 people drowned, recommended that the tidal Thames needed a dedicated search and rescue service. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution stepped in and established four lifeboat stations which became operational on 2 January 2002. Three of these, including Chiswick, have crew on standby 24/7.

No one anticipated how busy the Thames stations would be. Altogether 4,308 people have been rescued and 622 lives saved.

Alongside the operational side, Chiswick RNLI’s education and fund-raising volunteers work in the community. Thousands of children have learnt about the RNLI from school visits and visits to the station where the duty crew demonstrate the capabilities of their craft.

A fund-raising comedy night at the George IV is now an annual event (with Covid exception in 2021) as is the stall at the Chiswick House dog show each September. Many local businesses have supported the comedy nights and regular talks.

Above: a cat is rescued from the river in 2020

Incidents over the last 20 years

There are many memorable and many tragic incidents from the last 20 years, some of which The Chiswick Calendar has reported on. In total to date Chiswick crews have saved 179 lives and rescued 1,828 people.

Stand-outs include:

During 2015, 60 Boat Race spectators were cut off by the tide. The rescue was widely reported and broadcast on BBC News.

2007 there were 50 racing rowers rescued, whose boats sank during one stormy weekend.

2008 a mother and baby were recovered from the water in Isleworth.

2013 the Chiswick crew went to the aid of a broken down passenger vessel with 122 passengers.

2021 Chiswick lifeboat crew featured in a popular TV documentary series Saving Lives at Sea after it rescued an ungrateful cat the previous year. His family were unaware he had been stranded and rescued until they saw the rescue on the news.

Animals play quite a large part in their day to day work. Rescuing dogs who have gone for a swim and got into trouble, and their owners who have gone in after them, is something which happens quite a lot.

The Chiswick crew transported Freddie the seal to South Essex Wildlife Hospital in 2021 after he was attacked by a dog, though his injuries were so bad he had to be put down. They were also involved in the attempted rescue of a baby minke whale in 2021. The whale needed to be put down after getting stuck in Teddington Weir.

Image above: Chiswick RNLI volunteers

RNLI gets record funding year after right-wing attacks

The rescue service is such an essential part of the emergency services it is easy to forget it is entirely voluntary. Funding is a continuing battle, though this year nationally the RNLI is on course for the highest annual fundraising total in its near 200-year history. Donations swelled after the charity attracted huge public support following right wing attacks for helping save the lives of asylum seekers at risk of drowning in the Channel.

The RNLI said it has received a significant increase in support, with online donations rising by 50% in 2021. The UK’s network of RNLI volunteers say they have been inundated with donations and messages of support after high-profile attacks from individuals such as Nigel Farage and elements of the media, who have called the charity “woke” for fulfilling its humanitarian mission to save lives at sea.

Jayne George, the RNLI’s fundraising director said the hostility appeared to have had the opposite effect to what its architects would have wanted.

Above: a video by Chiswick Lifeboat commemorating 20 years of search and rescue

Number of rescues show how essential the service is, says Chiswick station manager

Chiswick RNLI station manager Wayne Bellamy was involved in setting up the RNLI search and rescue service on the Thames in 2001 and has been running the station ever since. He said:

‘Following the inquiry into the Marchioness tragedy it was clear that a dedicated search and rescue service on the tidal Thames was needed. Over the last twenty years 622 lives saved and 4308 people rescued shows how essential this service is.

“Our contribution at Chiswick with 179 lives saved and 1828 people rescued shows that the upper tideway is not the quieter stretch some thought it would be; though not really surprising if you see our stretch of river as equivalent to 25 miles of busy coastline with several million people living close by.

“Chiswick lifeboat station is one of three which has a duty crew of four on standby 24/7 with a launch time of 90 seconds and arrival on scene within 15 minutes, though the typical time is usually much less than this. This is only possible with the dedication of full-time crew and a panel of over 60 volunteers working 12 hour shifts. We have established a close working relationship with the PLA and the other blue light services on the river and work seamlessly together on major incidents.

“When they see the scale of life saving activity of the Thames lifeboats people are often surprised to hear that the life saving service run by the RNLI is entirely funded by public donations; we are very grateful for the local and national support that makes it all possible.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Met to increase number of police officers on the street

See also: Gunnersbury Park becomes Jurassic Park

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.

Met to increase number of police officers on the street

London streets should see an increase in the number of police in coming weeks.

The Metropolitan Police announced in the autumn they would increase the number of ‘bobbies on the beat’ after data revealed a spike in unsolved minor crimes. The Met announced an extra 650 officers would be put back on the beat and that the new teams of officers would be in place ‘by spring 2022.’

The decision to bolster police presence comes after evidence revealed the proportion of minor crimes being solved has plummeted, with as few as one in 50 thefts of property such as bikes being solved. The proportion of thefts resulting in a charge has halved in the past five years, from 9.9 per cent in the year ending March 2016 to 5.6 per cent in the year to June 2021.

Public demand more police on the streets

A study also showed a lack of public confidence in street policing. The study by Office for National Statistics for the Police Foundation, carried out in 2020, showed nearly half of those asked said they never saw a police officer walking the street anymore. This is the highest figure on the lack of police presence since records began over 12 years ago. Only 16% public asked said they had seen a foot patrol at least once a week.

In response the Metropolitan Police announced 500 officers would form town centre teams across the capital and would be based permanently in busy neighbourhoods. A further 150 officers would join London’s dedicated ward officers.

‘The public regularly ask for more visible policing presence in their local areas. Placing them in these locations is a really important part of how the Met is responding to helping communities feel and be safe. The extra officers will patrol at the times that will have the most impact on crime as well as on public safety, such as in the evenings.’

Their role would be to ‘tackle anti-social behaviour, as well as to focus on street harassment and violence against women and girls’.

Hounslow among the boroughs to receive more staff

It is unclear whether there will be any extra police deployed in Chiswick, though LB Hounslow is on the list of boroughs getting extra staff.

The Police announced just before Christmas that as part of the ‘StreetSafe’ scheme, officers would be 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 for anyone to anonymously tell us about public places where you have felt or feel unsafe, because of environmental issues, eg street lighting, abandoned buildings or vandalism and/or because of some behaviours, eg being followed or verbally abused.

READ ALSO: Police patrol poorly lit areas in Chiswick

Met Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave, said:

“Our growth enables us to increase our presence in busy neighbourhoods and town centres and be even more focused on protecting people and solving the long-term crime and anti-social behaviour issues we know people care about most – like violent crime, and violence and harassment committed against women and girls.

“Local policing is at the heart of everything we do and we know that we are so much more effective if we are in communities and neighbourhoods, working side-by-side with all Londoners, listening and engaging with them, tackling the issues that make them feel unsafe.

“We want communities to regularly see and get to know their local officers, so that they trust and have confidence in them, knowing they are there to protect and keep them safe.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Jeremy Vine films package thief

See also: Sadiq Khan pledges review of cycling infrastructure on Kew Bridge

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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Andrea’s film review – The electrical life of Louis Wain

The electrical Life of Louis Wain ⭐️⭐️⭐ Review by Andrea Carnevali

️The English artist Louis Wain rose to prominence at the end of the 19th century for his surreal cat paintings that seemed to reflect his declining sanity. Out in the cinema now and on Amazon very soon.

If ever there was a manual with a list of tips for directors on how not to execute a biopic The electrical life of Louis Wain would be on it as the perfect example of a great story, with evocative settings, some wonderful actors and potentially broad appeal, completely wasted and reduced to an average Sunday afternoon TV film (with a bigger budget of course and actually looking very pretty), which will pass by almost unnoticed and will be quickly forgotten.

I know some people will probably enjoy this, but I can’t help feeling that it could have been so much better if it hadn’t been for the very bland direction and an even more pedestrian script.

It really felt like somebody had gone through Louis Wain’s Wikipedia page and written quick scenes for each of those entries and then strung them together with a terribly misjudged voice-over (A waste of Olivia Coleman really), joining the dots in some sort of half-coherent plot. If something didn’t quite work, we are told how we were meant to take it.

People spoke lines as if they had hindsight knowledge and a literature and philosophy degree. Lines like ‘’How you manage to conjure images of such delight in such a dark time?’’ or ‘’the world is full of beauty and it’s up to you to capture it and to share it with as many people as you can’’ are not just devoid of any subtlety, incredibly forced and clunky, but also treat the audience like children who need to be spoon-fed everything; they never ring true anyway.

The result is a biopic where people actually feel fake, because they are mainly going through the motions that the story requires rather than shown feeling any real emotions, so that the viewer can empathise with them.

Everything was “half-baked“, so I only half-smiled  during the funny scenes, I felt rather indifferent to the cats (this should have been a love-fest for cat lovers) and was only able to half enjoy the lovely painterly-looking moments because they were crowbarred in the film.

Crucially I was not moved by any of the tragic turns (and I am one of those who tears up at Christmas commercials too!) Despite the film focusing on one misery after another (another mistake in my view; it should have celebrated the genius of Wain a lot more) and despite the sweeping syrupy music making sure every single emotion was underlined with a few notes.

A perfect example what I am talking about is when, at a key moment of the film, we are told “the death of a pet drove Louis into such despair that he wept for years” (cue sad music) and then we’re off to the next scene. I mean… do I need to say more?

The film is episodic at its best, with so much crammed into it that it felt more like a SparkNotes version of Louis Wain’s life. It’s as if the film doesn’t quite know which story to tell and so it throws everything at the audience hoping something will eventually stick.

Thankfully the great talents of the whole cast, especially Claire Foy and the ever-so-busy Benedict Cumberbatch (this is the third film I see with him in the space of just a few weeks), make the journey slightly more pleasant and worthwhile despite the terrible script (“I feel electricity”… another ‘great’ line).

Enough that least to get to the end without feeling completely robbed of a great character with a fantastic story and some beautiful cinematography (Erik Wilson we are all waiting for you to get that Oscar soon).

So yes, three stars…  but really just about.

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

The electrical life of Louis Wain is on in cinemas right now and will be available on Amazon very soon.

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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Man in the Middle 80: New Year Dreams

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 80: New Year Dreams

My dead father visits me now and again. And always at Christmas. He stands at the side of my bed and whispers ‘I forgive you.’ Just that.

Then he vanishes before I can ask him what the Hell he thinks he’s forgiving me for? It should be the other way round. He should be asking me for my forgiveness.

‘The cheek of it,’ I say to my wife. ‘Didn’t even have the courage to hang around long enough to listen to my side of the story.’

‘He was never much of one for a long intimate chat,’ she says.

‘Just buggered off, like the ghost in Hamlet, just when I was about to tell him what I thought,’ I say.

‘How long did you go on drinking after I went to bed?’

‘Couldn’t we just consider for a moment the possibility that something special, magical even happened? Like in a Christmas Carol when what’s-his-face…’

‘Jacob Marley.’

‘Visits the miserable one…’

‘You mean Scrooge.’

‘Yes, Scrooge and tells him to loosen up?’

‘So, your father came back from beyond the grave to tell you to loosen up?’ she concludes.

‘It’s not impossible.’

*

An emotionless Mother, Eton, the army, Jonny Walker Red Label and a late life business failure turned my father whiskey sour by the time he reached his second marriage. When my brother and I arrived in his late middle age his joie de vie was the local pub, not us.

On Saturday’s, in Richmond Park, my brother and I would plead with him to play hide and seek or play football with us, like other fathers seemed to do with their kids. But he didn’t see games as part of his parental package.

‘I’m terribly tired, boys,’ he would say as he stretched himself out on the grass, legs together.

‘Why don’t you run around for a bit, like good little puppies.’

‘What will you do, Daddy?’ we’d ask.

‘Imagine that I’m dead,’ he would answer, as he folded his arms across his chest and closed his eyes.

‘Off you go, now.’

*

‘How funny,’ says my wife. ‘He slept like that, too.’

‘Like what?’

‘Like he was laid out in a coffin. I’d walk past your parents’ bedroom door and see him there motionless and think he’s dead. But then he’d start talking to you but without opening his eyes.’

‘Like a corpse in a horror movie,’ I say.

I can’t help but laugh. He had a gallows sense of humour. As kids, he told us he slept on his back with his arms folded because it would be easier for the undertaker to roll him off the bed straight into his coffin if he died in the night. On other occasions, he’d tell us he didn’t want us to fuss about his funeral and we should save on the funeral expenses by dumping him in a motorway lay-by in a black refuse bag.

‘One of the sturdy garden ones, though’ he’d say. ‘And after dark, of course. Or you’ll be charged with tipping.’

Sometimes, it was hard to tell if he was serious. He had a Tyburn sense of humour, a delivery like hardtack biscuit and a mouth as thin and straight as a pencil line which neither scowled nor smiled.

‘Perhaps that’s what he wants to forgive me for,’ I say.

‘I don’t get it?’ says my wife.

‘For not burying him on the motorway in a bin bag.’

*

During the week, Dad was the President of the Cynics & Sceptics Club. No motive was too low for him not to believe someone somewhere was capable of embracing it and his conversation turned into a caustic soda fountain if politics or the ‘blood sucking’ royal family were mentioned.

In 1977, when the BBC banned God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols he was so furious he bought a ‘Boogie Box’ from Woolworth’s so my brother and I could play the song over and over again at full volume to annoy my mother, who half admired the royal family and thought it was right to ban the song out of respect to the Queen and her Silver Jubilee.

‘She can’t help it boys,’ he’d say. ‘It’s in her blood. Centuries of being told to tug your forelock and curtesy in front of them takes its toll. It’s a form of Stockholm Syndrome,’ he’d rage as his head pogoed off-beat to the sound of the Sex Pistols complaining about the fascist regime.

(Strangely, Dad didn’t like Anarchy in the UK as much. He was a Tory who wanted to see the monarchy dismantled, not the rule of law destroyed.)

At weekends, cut loose from the drudgery of work and the daily commute, he would cheer up occasionally for an hour or so, and we would laugh.

He played us The Goon Show, worshipped Spike Milligan and laughed with us as we listened to Derek & Clive Live, the drunken, foul-mouthed ramblings of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, which most other parents were trying to ban.

‘I’ve had worse jobs than shoving lobsters up Joan Crawford’s arsehole,’ he told us referring to the most infamous sketch on the record. But he never told us exactly what that job was.

*

My son is back from university where he is studying Italian and French. My wife, who’s studying Italian, too, thinks he speaks the language beautifully.

‘How do you know?’ I ask.

‘He’s been reading to me,’ she says.

‘Umberto Eco?’ I ask.

‘the panettone box,’ she says.

‘Wow. He can read the whole box including the ingredients and E numbers?’

‘I’m just saying he has a beautiful accent given he’s only been studying Italian for a term.’

When my daughter was one years old, my mother told my wife that her granddaughter had ‘good hair’. Morally good? Better than others? The comment symbolised the blind admiration that grand parents can have for their offspring. My father would never have said such a thing. He didn’t believe in any form of compliment.

I pick up the panettone box and study it for a while. Time to be a supportive father.

‘There’s a lot more text on here than I thought. The lad must be doing really well to read all this,’ I say to my wife.

‘Why don’t I go to the Italian deli and get him some more packets to practice on.’

*

After three days at my mother-in-law’s house, my son tells me that when our cat dies, he and his sister are going to get tattoos of it. I wonder if Christmas, Covid or the close proximity of all his relatives for so long has driven him mad.

‘Where are you going to put it?’ I ask.

‘Under the arm or on my back,’ he replies.

‘Will you get a tattoo of me or your mum when we die, too?’

‘Are you nuts,’ he says. ‘If we did that, you’d be with us forever.’

‘When you die where just going to put you in a black bin liner and dump you in a motorway lay-by,’ says my daughter.

‘That sounds familiar,’ I say.

‘Yes,’ she says. ‘Grandpa told us it was a family tradition that all the men should be buried that way.’

‘Nice,’ says my son. ‘What’s your favourite motorway, dad?’

Read more blogs by James Thellusson

Read the previous one – Man in the Middle 79: My Covid Diary

See all James’s Man in the Middle blogs here

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See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Gunnersbury Park becomes Jurassic Park

An animatronic company is planning to take over a section of Gunnersbury Park during the Easter holidays to put on a display of life sized dinosaurs, which move and roar.

Dino Kingdom. the creators of the award-winning Lightopia Festival, which has brought crowds to Chiswick House Gardens in previous years, has applied for a licence to take over part of the park from 25 March, with the live event occurring from Friday 1 April –  Monday 18 April.

Dino Kingdom puts on ‘entertaining and educational’ family-orientated events around the UK, filled with life size dinosaur structures, animatronics, virtual reality activities, food and drink and fun fair rides. They are planning more than 100 installations for the event at Gunnersbury Park.

The event would be open to the public from 10.00am to 7.00pm with last admission at 4.00pm. The company has applied for a license to cater for 4,999 people. The park would be cleared of all structures by 25 April.

Dino Kingdom say the event promises the opportunity to get up close and personal with moving and roaring dinosaurs including the T-rex as well as Triceratops, Spinosaurus, Brachiosaurus and Velociraptors, with a walking trail within the event space up to 50 different animatronic dinosaurs with discovery zones and interactive content.

Where can you find the dinosaurs?

Image above: plan of the proposed site in Gunnersbury Park

If approved, the event will take place in the green field opposite the boating lake and will be fenced off to the general public with a mixture of steel hoarding and fencing. Visitors will need tickets to access the site, which will be accessible via a gate in front of the lake. Ticket prices are not available yet but Dino Kingdom charged £15 for adults and £13 for children at events held elsewhere in the country.

The application states that all public paths will be maintained during the event, including the build and the break down and access routes will be maintained. Consultation has started to take place with the park management team and, as with the events at Chiswick House, it will be part of the contract that park assets should be protected.

Gunnersbury Park & Museum are inviting local residents to a meeting in January to discuss 2022 events in the park, which includes Dino Kingdom. You can sign up for a place at the meeting for free here:

visitgunnersbury.org

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

See also: Books of the month by Annakarin Klerfalk

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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.