Tracey Crouch MP introduces Seal Protection bill

Image: Freddie the seal; photograph Mary Tester

Tracey Crouch MP introduced her private members’ bill in parliament last Wednesday amend the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, to make it an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb or harass a seal.

Giving Freddie as an example, she said:

“Seals are not without challenges but, sadly, they come from us humans. Like many people, I was horrified by the dog attack on Freddie the seal near Hammersmith bridge last year.

“I know through my work with Mary Tester, a British Divers Marine Life Rescue medic who was in charge of Freddie, how he brought joy to the local community and visitors alike, especially during lockdown.”

The attack on Freddie, after which he had to be put down, made headlines worldwide.

READ ALSO: ‘Freddie’ the seal attacked by dog near Hammersmith Bridge

Images: Freddie the seal; photographs Mary Tester

Tracey Crouch speech to parliament introducing the seal protection bill

Her bill was read the first time, unopposed, and is down for a second reading on Friday 18 March. Read her full speech here:

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to make the intentional or reckless disturbance or harassment of seals an offence; to make further provision about the protection of seals; and for connected purposes.

We are very lucky in this country to be home to more than a third of the world’s grey seal population. A globally rare species resident in the UK, grey seals are the equivalent of an African elephant. In addition, the UK is home to 30% of European common seals, which are, sadly, in alarming decline. Seals are present around the UK coastline, with some areas being more visible breeding grounds than others.

I was thrilled to hear from the Zoological Society of London, which conducts surveys on the number of seals in the Greater Thames estuary, that the latest population survey estimated that 700 harbour seals and 3,000 grey seals live in the Thames estuary. As a Medway MP, I was pleased to discover how many seals are drawn to the Medway and Swale estuaries to rest and pup on the excellent mud flats and salt marsh habitat, due to the abundance of prey, including smelt and sea bass. I am pleased to see some Essex colleagues on the Benches, for I know they will be just as interested in the estuary population.

In fact, the Medway houses the largest no-take fish zone in the UK, making it the perfect restaurant for seals. The essential top predator role performed by seals recycles nutrients, helping to keep a balanced marine ecosystem. Notwithstanding the obvious environmental benefits of seals, it is important to recognise, in some parts of the UK, the economic boost that wildlife assets such as seals provide, through tourism, to communities on the coast. But that brings with it dangers—ones that can be overcome but none the less are still there.

Seals are not without challenges but, sadly, they come from us humans. Like many people, I was horrified by the dog attack on Freddie the seal near Hammersmith bridge last year. I know through my work with Mary Tester, a British Divers Marine Life Rescue medic who was in charge of Freddie, how he brought joy to the local community and visitors alike, especially during lockdown. The injuries that Freddie suffered, sadly, resulted in the decision being made to put him down.

Unfortunately, that is not the only example of the devastating effects that disturbance, whether intentional or reckless, has on seals. Last month, a runner in the north-east of England caused a stampede of more than 100 seals after he ignored the advice of seal stewards and approached the group that were resting on the rocks. The distressed seals fled back towards the water; the Yorkshire Seal Group confirms that the reckless behaviour would have undoubtedly caused numerous injuries to the fleeing seals and may have led to loss of life for some of the pups.

Seals face a range of issues and pressures, such as habitat loss and chemical and plastic pollutants, that require global solutions. However, preventing disturbance is something we in this Parliament can do with a minor tweak to existing legislation. Doing so would also result in greater awareness.

Disturbance has serious and potentially life-threatening effects, but it can easily be avoided. It is defined as any action that disrupts a seal from a settled state in response to a perceived threat. Disturbance causes stress and wastes vital energy reserves, often resulting in injury, while broken ribs or jaws can prove fatal. Conserving energy is vital for survival in the wild, and seals can quickly enter a fatal energy deficit spiral through chronic disturbance.

Actions resulting in serious disturbance can be intentional, reckless or negligent. Serious disturbance is caused when people are too close, too visible or too noisy. The harm done to disturbed seals may not be immediate or obvious, but minimising serious or chronic disturbance will greatly improve any seal’s chances of survival. I am pleased that the Government, together with the Seal Alliance, launched a new awareness campaign in spring last year. The “Give Seals Space” campaign asks for the public to be aware of the impact their behaviour can have on vulnerable wildlife. That includes keeping well away from seals so that the seals cannot smell, hear or see them, keeping dogs on a lead, never feeding seals and taking all litter home. However, there is still more to be done and there is a call for action from across the country.

In a response to the parliamentary petition “Strengthen laws protecting seals”, which gained more 26,000 signatures—one from every constituency in Parliament—the Government confirmed that they would be providing funding for signs to be put on the banks of the Thames to help to raise awareness of the impact of disturbance on seals and the importance of keeping dogs under close control. I assure the House that I will be contacting colleagues at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Seal Alliance to ensure that we can have some of these fantastic “Give Seals Space” signs on the River Medway, and I encourage other hon. Members to look at the material provided by the Seal Alliance.

Sadly, we cannot rely solely on goodwill and human behaviour. We need the legislative back-up to make intentional and reckless disturbance illegal. Seals are currently afforded a number of protections. They are covered by the 1979 Bern Convention, and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee recognises that the UK has a special responsibility to protect seals on behalf of the rest of the world. Thankfully, numerous pieces of legislation have made it an offence to “take, injure or kill” a seal within 12 nautical miles of the British coast.

However, as I have made clear, disturbing a seal, whether intentionally or not, can have fatal consequences. Therefore, my Bill calls on the Government to make a simple yet crucial amendment to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, whereby someone who intentionally

or recklessly disturbs or harasses a seal shall be guilty of an offence. That would ensure that seals are treated the same as whales and dolphins in British legislation. The Joint Nature Conservation Committee’s quinquennial review suggested such amendments be made to the Act to help address the issue of disturbance. It is crucial that existing legislation is reviewed to avoid legal loopholes that prevent prosecution for disturbance caused by a third party: a dog, vessel or drone under human control.

I know that colleagues at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs recognise the issue, and I applaud and thank them, especially the Minister, for the work that has been carried out so far to raise public awareness. I believe the cross-party support for my ten-minute rule Bill and for my early-day motion, and the outpouring of public emotion following Freddie’s death, shows that there is the political and public will to make a positive change.

Finally, I would like to say a special thank you to everyone who has helped to get us to where we are today: the public, commercial operators, conservation groups including the Marine Conservation Society, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Wild Justice, and individuals such as Chris Packham and Dr Ben Garrod. I thank leading seal charities the Seal Alliance, Seal Protection Action Group and the Seal Research Trust, the numerous local wild seal organisations and rescue and rehab centres in the UK and Europe, and British Divers Marine Life Rescue. I also want to say a special thank you to Mary Tester of Marine Life Rescue, Sue Sayer of Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust, and Anna Cucknell, project manager at the Zoological Society of London.

I hope that we can work together to ensure that we enjoy our coastal habitats, fully appreciate them, and share our seas successfully with wildlife now and for future generations.

Question put and agreed to.

Ordered,

That Tracey Crouch, Duncan Baker, Andrew Rosindell, Ben Lake, John McDonnell, Henry Smith, John Nicolson, Sammy Wilson, Sarah Olney, Jim Shannon, Dr Neil Hudson and Dame Caroline Dinenage present the Bill.

Tracey Crouch accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the first time; to be read a Second time on Friday 18 March, and to be printed.

Source: Hansard

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: RIP Freddie – a short but adventurous life

See also: Life in the River Thames

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.

Cressida Dick resigns as Met Police Commissioner

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, has announced she is to stand down as police chief.

In a statement she said:

“It is with huge sadness that following contact with the Mayor of London today, it is clear that the Mayor no longer has sufficient confidence in my leadership to continue. He has left me no choice but to step aside as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.”

Last week the Independent Office for Police Conduct released a report which found there to be misogyny, discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment within the ranks of the Metropolitan Police.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick journalist Guto Harri to save Boris Johnson from himself?

See also: Police appeal for information after knife fight on Bollo Lane

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.

Manchester City 2, Brentford 0

The trouble with being a bus stop in Hounslow is that every now and then it is likely to get run into by a number 267. Brentford, having already suffered four consecutive League defeats, were steamrollered by the best team in the Premier League, which, barring accidents, is purring like a Rolls-Royce on its way to the Championship.

But the news from the Etihad Stadium is not all bad. Despite the absence of Ivan Toney – a ‘minor calf strain‘, reported Thomas Frank – the side that lost its way against Everton picked itself up, dusted itself down and, with a shuffle of personnel, started all over again to justify a place in the England game’s top division.

The travelling supporters helped. With a large majority of the more than 51,000 crowd presumably expecting the Bees to roll over when facing a side in which Jack Grealish, a snip at £100 million quid from Aston Villa, is just one of its internationals, the Brentford faithful were still in fine voice.

Grealish didn’t make the starting line-up here and the eleven who did all have represented their home countries. Lambs to the slaughter was a phrase that came to mind.

But with their five-man defensive wall displaying commendable bravery and determination, the Bees soon made it clear to Messrs Foden, Mahrez and Sterling that they were not going enjoy a walk in the park. All right, if the line of five defenders sometimes looked as though a line of ten would be preferable, the City strike force still found it difficult to penetrate as far as the visitors’ penalty area.

As halftime approached, they didn’t have to. With Raheem Sterling cutting in from the left without a challenger in sight, Mads Roerslev covered ground before stopping Sterling with a spectacular but illegal tackle. The mercurial Riyad Mahrez’s ensuing penalty kick was struck with breathtaking finality.

And it was another Brentford mistake that in the second period sealed the match for City. No, make that a David Raya mistake – his wayward distribution reached Sterling instead of a teammate and although the City striker’s shot was parried by Raya, Kevin De Bruyne’s resultant raking low drive wasn’t.

Franks’ substitution of Bryan Mbeumo and Josh Dasilva for makeshift strikers Sergi Canós and Saman Ghoddos saw Brentford’s breakaway raids on goal shake up a surprised and sometimes hesitant City defence. But what would have been a consolation goal failed to materialise.

All of which left head coach to ruminate that while the home side had been prevented from creating chances, two self-inflicted blunders had denied the visitors a much-needed point.

Three from next Saturday’s clash with Crystal Palace would do nicely, thank you. Get well soon, Ivan.

Manchester City: Ederson; Stones, Rúben Dias, Laporte, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rodri, Bernardo Silver; Mahrez (sub Grealish 67), Foden (sub Gϋndogan 71), Sterling.

Brentford: Raya; Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock; Roerslev, Onyeka (substitute Wissa 70 minutes), Nørgaard, Jensen, Henry; Canós (sub Dasilva 62), Ghoddos (sub Mbeumo 62).

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 Book of Boba Fett (season 1)

The Book of Boba Fett (season 1) ⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Bounty hunter Boba Fett & mercenary Fennec Shand navigate the underworld when they return to Tatooine to claim Jabba the Hutt’s old turf. Available for streaming on Disney+

I should probably give a little bit of basic background before I start talking about this latest series available for streaming on Disney+.

To say that I am a huge Star Wars fan would be an understatement: I’ve obviously seen all the movies (some of them multiple times), I have seen the excellent animated series Rebels and I’m almost through The Clone Wars (which I am actually enjoying even though the characters look terrible).

I’ve even read some of the hundreds of books available out there and finally, despite some initial hesitation, I ended up loving the two seasons of The Mandalorian (also on Disney+).

The irony of all this is that now I have a nine-year-old son, who beats me at any Star Wars trivia game… but that’s subject for a different discussion.

With all that in mind, I have to confess that I never really felt the need for a whole TV series about Boba Fett. After all, this was a minor character (albeit with cool armour), with only six minutes and 32 seconds of screen time and a total of four lines across two films. To me he worked because he was a complete mystery.

Then George Lucas had the not-so-brilliant idea to give us an ‘origin story’ for him, in the rather infamous Star Wars prequels, ruining the mystique around this legendary bounty hunter and over-complicating things.

After a couple of brief and rather innocent appearances in The Clone Wars and in The Mandalorian, he’s now been promoted to a full seven episode TV series.

Or at least this is what we are led to believe, as Boba Fett only seems to be present in its name.

The character the series presents feels like completely different from the deadly, feared, cold crime lord we thought we knew.

His silent and unfeeling demeanour here are replaced by a sort of monk-like attitude. The great bounty hunter is now depicted as somebody who wants to rule people in a just and fair way…

Really!?

It’s as if the series had been written with somebody else in mind and then it was decided, a week before the filming, that in order to draw more viewers it would be called Boba Fett, in complete disregard for everything that was cool about the character.

In this series he’s played by Temuera Morrison, an actor who might have had the right voice for when he was wearing a mask in the previous incarnations, but who certainly, at least for me, doesn’t seem to have the right presence, nor charisma to carry a whole series on his own. He’s an aged and slightly overweight bald man, who is hardly believable as a strong and even fear-inducing anti-hero.

Even the film-makers seem to be aware of that, since they cram the series by rescuing beloved characters from everywhere else, even side-lining poor Boba for two entire episodes (in which he only appears for a few seconds).

The result is a series which is just a huge mess: a hodgepodge of ideas and characters which make even the three prequels look like the most coherent films ever made.

The first four episodes are really bad and could probably have been squeezed into one. Yes, there are some decent action scenes here and there and it’s well filmed, but these days that goes without saying. The overall pacing was really slow, most of characters are uninteresting and the storytelling feels repetitive. Many of the choices are baffling (for the reason mentioned above).

If it wasn’t for my unconditional love for everything that’s Star Wars related, I would have easily turned off after the third episode.

Then, after the first four boring, uneventful episodes things started picking up a bit, thanks to some bizarre and blatantly fan-serving moments, when the focus switches completely from Boba to… guess who? The Mandalorian and the best thing that made his TV series so compelling, baby Yoda (Grogu, if you’re into names).

Plus the return of an impressive CGI-created young Luke Skywalker, which was completely superfluous but at least it made me interested again.

Finally I had somebody to root for again, but let’s be clear, all that should have been part of the next season of the Mandalorian, not here.

In its defence, I have to be honest, the last episode was actually really good, full of good action and excitement. Finally all the elements seemed to come together, but my goodness it took all my will to get to that point. If it wasn’t for the fact that I wanted to review this, I would never have got there.

Overall, this was a huge disappointment: a betrayal of the original character of Boba Fett and just a bad idea to start with, saved at the last moment by the Mandalorian.

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

The Book of Boba Fett is available for streaming on Disney+

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.

Months of ‘transport misery’ look likely as more Tube strikes announced

Months of tube strikes look set to go ahead as various disputes between TfL and the RMT union continue. As a result, commuters as a result are facing months of ‘transport misery’, with a series of strikes that will severely disrupt regular Tube services.

While strike action on the Night Tube is set to continue this weekend, (11 and 12 February) the RMT union announced on Friday (4 February) that another series of walkouts will take place next month over a separate dispute.

Tube services potentially will now be affected by three rounds of industrial action over the coming months.

Night Tube strikes

The RMT union announced in January that Tube drivers on the Central and Victoria lines would walk out between 8.30pm and 4.29am every Friday and Saturday night until June.

This follows a dispute between the union and London Underground management about changes to the rota for Night Tube drivers.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has said the issue is about “protecting the work/life balance” of Tube drivers and has called on TfL to “end their deafening silence” on the issue. He claims “there are simple and cost-free options that would enable us to consider suspending the action” and RMT “stands ready to get talks back on”.

A spokesperson for TfL has said the organisation is also “open to talks” with a view to calling off the strike but that “it’s become clear that there are no new or workable proposals”.

TfL has defended the changes to Night Tube driver rotas as “a positive change for the organisation and our staff” which has led to “no job losses”.

A TfL spokesperson said:

“Despite the strike action, we’re running a good Night Tube service on the Victoria Line and a regular service on the Central Line, with at least two trains per hour through central London.

“We’ve made changes to driver rosters to preserve a near-normal Tube service while also giving drivers the opportunity for full-time work, new flexible part-time work and long-term job certainty.”

Image above: a tube station at night, trains lined up at the Northfields Tube depot

March strikes

The March strikes which have been called in addition to the Night Tube strikes are about job losses. RMT has instructed all 10,000 of its members not to turn up for work on Tuesday March 1 and Thursday March 3. If it goes ahead, the strike is expected to force the entire Tube network to close.

The threat comes amid a dispute about TfL’s plans to axe between 500 and 600 jobs across London’s transport network in a bid to salvage its dire financial situation.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has said the plan is the “opening shot in a programme of jobs carnage” which would “savage jobs, safety and threaten working conditions and pensions of our members”.

TfL has said that there are no plans to make staff redundant. Instead, the positions would be culled by not filling around 250 current vacancies and by not replacing a further 250 to 350 staff when they retire.

Andy Lord, TfL’s chief operating officer, said:

“The devastating impact of the pandemic on TfL finances has made a programme of change urgently necessary and we need the RMT to work with us, rather than disrupting London’s recovery. We’re urging them to do the right thing for London, talk to us and call off this unnecessary action.”

Images above: RMT union members in a previous dispute, Covent Garden Tube station closed during a strike

Pension strikes

As part of the emergency funding deal provided by the Government last summer, TfL is required to carry out a review of its “generous” pension schemes in a bid to save around £100 million a year.

Chair of ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) and former Trades Union Congress general secretary Sir Brendan Barber was appointed to lead the independent review last autumn, which TfL commissioner Andy Byford said would have “no predetermined outcome”.

While RMT members will also be protesting potential pension cuts when they go on strike in March, other unions have also expressed an intention to strike over the issue.

Last year, members of the ASLEF union voted 98.8% in favour of strike action if TfL pushed ahead with changes to staff pension schemes without consultation, though no dates have been confirmed yet.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Hounslow announces almost 3% increase in Council Tax

See also: Chiswick journalist Guto Harri to save Boris Johnson from himself?

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

LB Hounslow launches ‘vaccine bus’

LB Hounslow have launched a ‘vaccine bus’, which will be touring the borough for the next two months bringing Covid-19 jabs to residents who have found it difficult to get vaccinations.

The bus is offering the first, second and booster doses of vaccine to anyone 16 or older, and will operate ​between five and seven days a week until 31 March 2022. It will be visiting areas that are ‘easily accessible’. Some of its first stops were on Hounslow High Street, by supported accommodation and homeless hostels.

The bus is provided in partnership with North West London CCG Hounslow Borough Team, LB Hounslow, and Hounslow’s Primary Care Networks, with the aim of reducing health inequalities in the borough. Staff will be available to discuss vaccination with anyone who has questions and would like a chat. The Health Outreach Team are also able to support residents to talk about their health more widely, not just vaccinations.

LB Hounslow says new joint NHS and local authority team is staffed by ‘a wide range of local healthcare and engagement personnel, utilising broad range of skills available within Primary Care Networks and the Local Authority, including speaking community languages’.

The bus schedule can be viewed at hounslow.gov.uk/vaccinationcentres with more stops being announced soon. In the current schedule the bus will be at West Middlesex University hospital on  Twickenham Rd in Isleworth most days.

Image above: Cllr Candice Atterton with the vaccine bus

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Paediatric doctors seek to reassure parents over vaccines for 12-15 year olds

See also: Chiswick journalist Guto Harri to save Boris Johnson from himself?

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.

Hounslow residents urged to sign up for Green Homes Grant worth up to £10,000

LB Hounslow are urging residents to sign up for the ‘Green Homes Grant’, which could help to cut fuel bills, keep homes warm and help to reduce carbon emissions in the borough this winter.

In partnership with 12 other west London boroughs, Hounslow has secured a £26m extension to the Green Homes Grant. Under the scheme, eligible householders could be entitled to up £10,000 worth of government funding to pay for energy-efficient measures like wall, loft and hot water tank insulation. The scheme also offers support with fitting environmentally-friendly technology such as heat pumps and energy-efficient boilers.

The Green Homes Grant scheme is open to homeowners and people in social rented accommodation, where the home has a reduced energy rating and a low annual income.

The project is being coordinated by Warmworks in Hounslow. The company will arrange a survey with residents who are eligible and agree on what work needs to be done. All work carried out will be independently assessed.

You can find out more about the scheme, including links to an online application form, at hounslow.gov.uk/greenhomesgrant or by calling Warmworks for free on 0800 233 5655.

Improving energy efficiency key to climate goals

Hounslow Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Climate Emergency, Councillor Katherine Dunne, said:

“We all need to use our heating systems more over the winter months. The Green Homes Grant scheme offers vital improvements which could benefit people across Hounslow who are on low income and find it hard to heat their homes.

“Improving the energy efficiency of our homes will also help to reduce carbon emissions in our borough which supports our ambitions around climate change.

“I would urge everyone in Hounslow to check if they are eligible to get help from the Green Homes Grant.”

Ross Armstrong, Warmworks Managing Director, said:

“I’m delighted that Warmworks is working in partnership with Hounslow Council to deliver the Green Homes Grant scheme.

“Not only does the renewable heating technology available under the scheme offer local people an opportunity to reduce their carbon emissions and support the transition to Net Zero, but in colder weather months, one of the most important benefits we can offer through the scheme is to help people feel warmer, healthier and happier in their homes.

“A few minutes to complete our short application could help your home stay warm for years ahead.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Hounslow announces almost 3% increase in Council Tax

See also: Chiswick journalist Guto Harri to save Boris Johnson from himself?

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 Worst Person in the World

The Worst Person in the World ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

The chronicles of four years in the life of Julie, a young woman who navigates the troubled waters of her love life and struggles to find her career path, leading her to take a realistic look at who she really is. Nominated for two Baftas, it is officially out in March.

Director Joachim Trier seems to have a knack for subverting genre expectations. His previous film Thelma, from 2017, was a supernatural / psychological thriller that somehow morphed into a beautiful and heart-breaking coming-of-age story.

With the delightful The Worst Person in the World, which has just been nominated for a BAFTA for “best foreign film”, he tackles the well-trodden tropes of the romantic comedy and creates the perfect ‘anti-rom-com’, a film that effortlessly feels fresh, real, and very honest.

Life is full of complicated layers, ups and downs, and infinite possibilities. We all make mistakes and that’s what makes us human. This film seems to embrace this message to its fullest as it follows Julie (A fantastic Renate Reinsve, also nominated for a BAFTA for this), as she navigates through love at an age when you’re perhaps too young to really be ‘in love’, struggling to find the meaning of life and her place in the world.

“You seem to be waiting for something. I don’t know what… ” says her boyfriend, Aksel, played by the charismatic Anders Danielsen Lie, a recurring presence in Trier’s films.

Julie might be described as “the worst person in the world”, but she’s actually a very relatable “Millennial” with all the contradictions, fears, dreams, and doubts we all have. Does that make us “worst people” too?

This ‘dramedy’, for lack of a better term, is the third in his so-called (and unplanned) Oslo Trilogy, after the beautifully observed debut film Reprise, which followed a group of friends in their 20s striving to make their dream come true (it’s on Netflix) and the fantastic Oslo, August 31st, a film about a drug addict who takes a day off from his rehab centre (on Amazon Prime).

The Worst Person in the World feels like a natural extension of those two films, but it also stands on its own, showing a director at the top of his game, who’s matured and has now a full grasp of his material.

This is a film which is intimate and universal at the same time, humorous, without being quirky or whimsical, as many comedies these days, but it is also deeply moving too, without being sentimental or contrived.

The Worst Person in the World has just been released worldwide and it’s going to have a preview on 13 February at the Curzon in Soho, but won’t be coming out to the UK on general release until 25 of March. Make a mental note, because this is one of the best.

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

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

See also:  February Books 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.

Ofsted rates all inspected Hounslow schools ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Good’

Schools in Hounslow have received very positive reviews from regulatory inspector Ofsted. Hounslow Town Primary School, which was the latest school to be visited in this round of inspections, was rated as ‘Good’.

Every school which has undergone an inspection the borough is now rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. Ofsted regulates and is responsible for standards in education, children’s services and skills. Four schools in Hounslow have yet to undergo Ofsted inspections due to mergers.

A total of thirteen Primary Schools, six Secondary Schools and two Special Education Schools received the highest rating of Outstanding from inspectors.

On Thursday (3 February) Councillor Tom Bruce, Cabinet Member for Education, Children and Youth Services, visited Hounslow Town Primary School, the latest recipients of a successful ‘Good’ Ofsted report, to meet with pupils and teachers to hear about the positive changes implemented at the school to ensure rapid improvements were made.

‘Fantastic news’

Cllr Tom Bruce said:

“This is fantastic news for the borough. These reports show that our schools are helping to provide bright futures for every child in the borough.

“I’m immensely proud of the hard work and dedication shown by our teachers and school staff despite the significant challenges and disruption caused by the pandemic.

“Learning in a safe and happy environment is critical to ensure our children reach their full potential and achieve their academic and vocational goals.”

In recently published reports, Ofsted praised several areas across the various school settings. Ofsted inspection reports from all Hounslow Schools can be found on the Ofsted website.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Hounslow announces almost 3% increase in Council Tax

See also: Hammersmith and Fulham to freeze their portion of Council Tax

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 Hubble 3D

The Hubble 3D ⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

An IMAX 3D camera chronicles the effort of seven astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Shown at the IMAX Cinema at the Science Museum.

Exhausted by being locked up at home, we took advantage of the seemingly low COVID restrictions to pay a visit to the lovely Science Museum. While there I could not resists dragging my son to the Imax cinema where they were showing Hubble 3D.

Narrated by none other than Leonardo DiCaprio, this short piece (45 minutes long) filmed with mostly IMAX 3D cameras chronicles the effort of seven astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Or at least that’s how it was sold to me.

I have to say, I was very disappointed by the whole enterprise. This might have looked impressive in 2010 when it was first released and we were all much more into 3D gimmicks, but today it feels dated, boring and pretty pointless.

I’m sure they had some Imax footage in space and they must have thought to themselves: “What can we do with it? Ok, let’s milk it as much as we can and show it in science museums around the world!”

Almost a third of the film is spent watching a wide shot of some astronauts trying to screw/unscrew a piece of something onto the telescope. The rest feels like stock footage we’ve seen thousands of times before of rockets firing off to the sky.

Yes, some of it takes place in space, but it might as well be on a film set because I don’t get much out of the excitement from actually being there.

Even my son, who’s a space nerd, asked me at some point “how long is this going to be?”… And it’s only 45 minutes long! After a while even that fake jeopardy gets boring.

Leo’s voice gets half-eclipsed by some loud (i.e. badly mixed) mushy music and those wide shots went on and on and on, so I started looking around the auditorium looking at how many people were actually wearing face masks (not many by the way).

The film makes no effort to make us care for any of the characters on the screen. I have no idea who they are, how many they are and what they are feeling, aside from some quick interviews right at the start, when it’s just too early to care about any of them.

It’s badly constructed, directed and put together, just an excuse for some 3D Imax stuff.

The film is padded out by some CG recreations of space, which might be the thing most people will remember from this, though nowhere in the documentary do they tell us that those images are fake.

Leaving the auditorium I heard people talking about those moments as if those shots were real…. I was about to tell them, but then I thought to myself “why ruin it for them?”

If you ever go to the Science museum and want to try the “IMAX experience”, go for Antartica, where at least you’ve got some cute animals to keep you company.

My two stars are just for the effort to take those BIG cameras on space and for getting di Caprio to agree to voice this (he was probably lured in by the ending of the film looking at Earth from space and realise what an amazing place we all live it), but it should really be a one star.

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

The Hubble 3D is being shown at the IMAX Cinema at the Science Museum.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

See also:  February Books 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.

 

Andrea’s film review – The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man – (2020) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

When Cecilia’s abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see. Available to watch on Netflix.

It’s a slow week out in cinemas this week. Very little has been released, so what better excuse to dip into some of the (too) many streaming platforms?

This week, the 2020 version of The Invisible Man has appeared on Netflix.

I remember this was one the last films to be released just before the pandemic hit the world and consequently it stayed in the cinema for ages, since everything else was put on hold… That is until they closed down too.

I remember being very impressed by it and watching it again tonight I was surprised to see how well it held up, even on a second viewing.

We’ve certainly come a long way from the usual “invisible man” tropes with the man wrapped up in bandages with his evil laugh. I have actually watched the original from 1933 very recently and it’s pretty laughable (and don’t get me started on Hollow Man with Kevin Bacon from 2000).

This is really an elegantly made, very solid and incredibly tense film.

It’s all held together by a magnificent performance by Elisabeth Moss, whose raw emotions are laid bare for all of us to see; she’s really the driving force of this, but also heart and soul of the film.

Director Leigh Whannell loves to play with the audience’s expectations, as his camera lingers on empty frames, aware that we came to see a film entitled The Invisible Man and we can all fill the blanks… or rather the empty space. At times the tension is unbearable.

The concept of The invisible Man itself also gets updated for the modern audience… I can’t say more because that would be a spoiler, but it’s a great and new take on the genre.

There are countless unexpected twists and turns which keep the film moving along and even if the end itself is telegraphed from miles away, there are some great surprises here and there.

I still remember when I first watched this, at some point about half-way through the film, during one of the many twists, my audience literarily exploded in a “Nooooo” in support of our heroine… And watching it again tonight I have to confess a little expletive escaped my mouth during the exact same bit.

Yes, after a while the fact that nobody EVER believes poor Elisabeth Moss gets a little bit repetitive and slightly annoying, and also somewhere around the last act the film does lose a little bit that wonderful tension it had created up to that point, but on the whole, this is certainly one the best thrillers I have seen in a long time.

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

The Invisible Man (2020) is available to watch on Netflix.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

See also February Books 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.

 

Mind Matters – How to talk to someone who is really struggling

Again in the news we hear there is a huge increase in people struggling with their wellbeing, with anxiety and depression rates soaring. Services are being expanded but it is getting more and more likely that someone close to you might be needing help.

Being a psychotherapist people often seek my advice when they are concerned about a friend or family member. In response to this I always start by asking “Do you believe you are unable to help – that you can’t think together about a way forward?”

Often I hear the problems appear so big and complicated there is a sense of not being able to help, of feeling overwhelmed and feelings of fear such that they have thoughts that anything they might try to do and say could make things worse. It is natural to experience such a response because it is likely the person you are concerned about is thinking and feeling this way too.

At this point many people become nervous that they are not equipped to help, particularly if powerful feelings are expressed and words come up like suicidal, crazy, murderous, out of control, psychopathic or any of a whole range powerful words or the many psychiatric terms that are becoming so widely used nowadays.

Instead it can be useful to recognise that actually your experience of being with them is potentially helping you to develop a good understanding of what is happening for them and that this means you are already helping.

These thoughts and feelings are most likely coming from a place of isolation, loneliness and desperation and the most effective way to start dealing with things is not to panic but to see if you have understood correctly. Do this by asking something like “I am wondering whether you are thinking the problems are too big and complicated, things can only get worse and you are feeling isolated, lonely and desperate?”

In doing this you will already be helping with the feelings of isolation and loneliness and your willingness to ask questions will already be challenging the feeling of desperation.

Now start to consider whether either of you might be struggling to talk freely. One of the most frequently given reasons people give for choosing to talk to a therapist is they don’t need to worry about what impact sharing their problems will have on either the other person or that relationship. So if you think that the conversation isn’t flowing freely then ask. You can then both think about whether there is someone else who it would be easier to talk to.

If you both decide to carry on talking then the next thing is to ask for as much information as possible. If suicide has been raised or if you find it enters your thinking then ask about it. Where suicide is spoken about then an organisation that offers really great information for helping people speak more easily is zerosuicidealliance.com. You might for example suggest looking at the site together?

Assuming you both feel it’s proving helpful to talk then you can think through together the basis of the concerns. Consider questions like: What is going on? What if anything has changed? Why might the concern have become apparent now? What has been tried to sort things out? What is different that means you are not coping like in the past?

Is this a completely new experience, if not what happened last time? What options have been considered and why have they been ruled out? What would you like to do if you could do anything you wanted? What would you say to your best friend if it was them in this situation? Ultimately think of questions that help the two of you to think through what to do and where to start in making their situation better. Often of course, if isolation is a key factor then talking may in itself be enough.

Remember although you are asking questions it is not for you to answer them. You might have opinions or think your own experiences are relevant – it can be helpful to share these but ask whether the person wants to hear them. Opinions can be really helpful if you know the person well enough, however remember answers are only really answers when we find them for ourselves – to give or be given an answer is rarely the answer! The most important opinions and experiences are the person’s own.

If after having talked things through the other person is still really distressed, ask what they would like to do now and what they want from you? If you are concerned, tell them what you would like to do. If you are struggling with feelings and thoughts because someone close to you is struggling then get support from others. Speak to friends or family you trust or speak to a therapist.

Finally, if you think there is an immediate threat to safety dial 999 or go to your local Accident and Emergency.

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 next in the series – Venturing out in storm Eunice

Read the previous one – After two years of Covid, how are your relationships?

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.

Why Afaf Belcaid gave up being an engineer to set up dance2happy

From Peugot-Citroen to Amazon, by way of MIT

dance2happy is ‘Zumba with a twist’ – the fun way to keep your body and mind fit, according to owner-founder Afaf Belcaid. Her philosophy is genuine because it is the path she has taken in her own life for her own wellbeing.

Afaf, who grew up in Morocco, graduated from engineering school in Paris and worked for six years with Peugot-Citroen for six years in logistics and manufacturing. It’s tough being a woman in that world. It comes as no surprise that a pretty 24 year old woman working with men in their fifties wasn’t always taken seriously, despite her qualifications.

She stuck it out but ultimately decided engineering was not for her; she would get a qualification in business and move into a more business oriented role in the corporate world. Not one to do things by halves, she applied to MIT in Boston and got in to their MBA course in Business Studies.

Her husband Christian sounds equally tenacious. She had met him on the engineering course in Paris and they had reconciled themselves to a long distance relationship for a bit, while they both studied MBAs.

“What were the chances of us both getting into the business school in Boston?” she laughs. They did and their relationship continued to flourish alongside their ambitions, which is not always an easy thing to manage.

She got a job with Amazon in London and had her son Ilian the same summer she moved here. (It’s ok, he’s kept pace. He also secured gainful employment in London). Starting in category management with footwear, she graduated to marketing, becoming head of marketing for books.

“It’s a great company” she says “but they give you so much responsibility. I was working 11- 12 hours a day.”

She found she got to the point where, giving her son a meal at the weekend, she realised she did not know any longer what he liked to eat. He was five when she had her second child Yaris and after five full-on years with Amazon she decided to pack it in and concentrate on the kids.

Image above: dance2happy

dance2happy Zumba classes

Two years of full-time parenting and she realised she was still stressed, not eating, and it was a psychologist to encouraged her to think about what gave her energy. Dance was the answer. She had always danced for fun, never thought of it as a job or a means to earn money. But she thought she would give it a try and dance2happy was born.

“The classes are not about perfection” she says, “they’re about enjoying moving your body and different bodies move in different ways. It’s not a judgemental class. People can release stagnant energies and get a boost. You feel good about yourself.”

What was it Victor Kiam said of Remington shavers? “I liked them so much I bought the company”.

This is not quite in the same league – not yet anyway – but the principle is the same. It’s worked for her. She sheds her stress through dance classes and, she says, it can work for you.

Her in-person Zumba classes are held at ArtsEd on bath Rd on Saturdays at 2.15. She runs online classes Tuesday – Thursday.

Image above: Stefania and Afaf

dance2happy for arthritis

dance2happy for Arthritis is a contemporary dance class designed to release stiffness located in the joints and to broaden your range of movement. The class has been designed for people with arthritis by professional dancer, Stefania, who has had arthritis for 11 years herself. Diagnosed at 19, she decided to make it her mission to keep as flexible as possible for as long as possible.

She went on to defy all the rules and expectations of what her body can or cannot do with arthritis and she is passionate about empowering people to discover that living with a condition like arthritis does not mean that you should stop dancing or that your body cannot become stronger and more flexible.

Cosmopolitan magazine have just ranked the class number one in their recommendations for inclusive fitness classes.

Club Card offer

dance2happy are members of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme. Afaf offers Club Card holders a free session to try out a class. Click on this link to book: dance2happytrialclass using this code: 1STCLASS.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: American University offers to provide volunteers for Chiswick organisations

See also: Music line-up announced for Pub in the 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.

The Chiswick Calendar freebie – answer

London Pride Tour Experience gift set give away

Last week we offered this Fuller’s gift set with a free tour of the Griffin Brewery to the first person to contact us with the correct answer to the question:

How did Fuller’s London Pride beer get its name? (What is it called after and why?)

The answer is Saxifraga x urbium (London Pride). After World War II the evergreen perennial sprang up on post war bombsites and the profusion of pink flushed white flowers were taken as a sign of life and hope for the future.

NoëlCoward wrote a song about it. The story goes that he was sitting on a seat on a platform at Paddington Station in the spring of 1941 ‘watching Londoners going about their business quite unfazed by the broken glass scattered around from the station’s roof damaged by the previous night’s bombing.

‘In a moment of patriotic pride, he said that suddenly he recalled an old English folk song which had been apparently appropriated by the Germans for their national anthem, and it occurred to him that he could reclaim the melody in a new song.’ (Wikkipedia)

The opening lines of the song are:

London Pride has been handed down to us,
London Pride is a flower that’s free.
London Pride means our own dear town to us,
And our pride it forever will be.

Images above: Saxifraga x urbium at the brewery in winter; Saxifraga x urbium flowering in summer – photograph Dominicus Johannes Bergsma licence

The winner was Nathanial Matthews, who will be receiving a London Pride Tour Experience gift set comprising:

2 x London Pride pint glasses
8 x London Pride 500ml
1 x London Pride Keychain Bottle Opener
1 x Fuller’s Brewery Tour Voucher 1 or 2 person

Watch out for more Chiswick Calendar freebies in The Chiswick Calendar’s weekly newsletter.

Not a subscriber? Sign up here: Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

The Chiswick Calendar Community Interest Company is sponsored by Asahi, owners of the Griffin Brewery. They are members of our Club Card scheme and offer holders of a Chiswick Calendar Club Card 15% off tours of the brewery (usual price £25) and 15% off everything in the shop (at any time) except spirits. To book using your card please go in to the shop on site and show your Club Card.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Fuller’s Griffin brewery celebrates 30 years of brewery tours

See also: Music line-up announced for Pub in the 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.

 

 

Episode 77: Class and the myths of English cricket analysed by historian Duncan Stone

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 sports historian Duncan Stone has written a thoroughly irreverent book about English cricket. Different Class destroys many cherished myths about his history. It smashes many icons of English cricket writing. All this has a moral purpose, to tell the true story of English cricket and strip it of the class-based ideology that has stunted its growth as a national game. He explains this to Peter Oborne and Richard Heller as the guest in their latest cricket-themed podcast.


More Platforms

Duncan outlines the central theme in the book: how the culture of English cricket, originally socially open and highly competitive, was subverted by southern élites, especially after the Great War, to become a genteel non-competitive pastime played by the right sort of people in “the right spirit.” This (he argues) became the template of the entire national game, achieving paramountcy over other popular forms of cricket and scarcely acknowledging their existence. As a performer himself in social non-competitive cricket he does not deny its practitioners the right to play it: he objects to their self-proclaimed right to declare it the apex of the game, to control cricket clubs and associations – and to go on selecting themselves for sought-after fixtures over more talented players. 1-5 minutes

He suggests that amateur élites not only in cricket but also other sports learnt from the professionalization of association football: they came to view meritocratic competitive leagues as a threat to their control over sports and as a model for working-class empowerment. He cites especially the long resistance of the Club Cricket Conference to competitive cricket and the splits in southern villages between amateur-controlled middle-class clubs with élite fixtures and working-class competitive ones. He was shocked by the intensity of middle-class fear of meritocratic competition in sport, expressed in the clampdown on professionalism. 5-9 minutes He believes that most of those who ran English cricket from 1870 and after were actually determined to make it less popular. 40-41 minutes

Duncan does not deny the paramountcy in skill and content of three-day and Test cricket (developed to suit the mealtimes and habits of wealthy and landed Victorians) over shorter forms of the game, or object to the space which longer forms occupy in cricket history. But he criticizes cricket historians and writers who have perpetuated the amateur élite narrative and virtually denied the existence of successful competitive leagues in the Midlands and North. 12-14 minutes He has some stern words about myth-making literary figures, especially Neville Cardus, and about privileged writers of self-mocking narratives about their own incompetent performances. He reflects on the contribution of popular children’s literature in establishing the image of cricket as a game for public schools and players with public school values. 31-39 minutes

He attacks the “shamateurism” which had to sustain the County Championship as the apex of English cricket, especially after the Second World War, and the general myth that the best cricket was played by gentleman amateurs. He traces the critical importance of the greatest “shamateur” of all – Dr W G Grace – in establishing the Championship and the myth, with the help of prolific sporting media. Without him, the already anachronistic Championship might have collapsed and yielded to the League cricket which was far more accessible to a working-class audience. 15-19 minutes The model of association football in professional leagues was always a more realistic one for cricket and, in Duncan’s view, it remains so. 20-21, 43-45 minutes

A major theme of Duncan’s book is the impact of Thatcherism and free market economics on cricket. He argues that they restricted access to cricket for poorer people particularly through pressures for longer and more flexible working hours and through losses of local authority and state school playing fields and those of privatized companies and others who decided to  develop their playing fields as commercial assets. The disappearance of workplace cricket was a particular loss to minority ethnic players. Thatcher’s successor, the cricket-loving John Major, reinforced these trends with the abolition of the Sports Council and its credo of sport for all. Poorer people also lost access to cricket as spectators by its removal from free-to-air television. 25-31 minutes

He also gives a full and almost up-to-date account of the racial crisis which has engulfed English cricket. Without underplaying the pervasive influence of overt and covert racism, Duncan still believes that issues of class and inequality remain the dominant threats to the future of English cricket. 51-59 minutes

Duncan Stone’s Different Class is published by Repeater Books. https://repeaterbooks.com/product/different-class-the-untold-story-of-english-cricket/

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 76: The shocking sight of a dive in the field – Micky Stewart remembers highlights of a vanished world of cricket

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.

Life in the River Thames

Image above: River Thames; photograph by Anna Kunst

Guest blog by Joanne Gilbert

Joanne Gilbert set up WildChiswick during lockdown, researching Chiswick’s wildlife and working out how best to support it. She writes a regular guest blog for The Chiswick Calendar. Here she looks at life in the River Thames, based on a recent report by the London Zoological Society.

Did you know that one of the inhabitants of the Thames travels over six thousand kilometres to visit us? Or that another creature living in the river is thought to be the only species where the male gives birth?

With the current scrutiny of the state of the water quality in the UK’s rivers and the release of State of the Thames report by Zoological Society of London last November, there has been interest in the river and what is living in it.

Image above: River Thames at Strand on the Green; photograph Joanna Raikes

From fresh to salt and dead to alive

The River Thames is the second longest river in the UK, being beaten to the title by the River Severn which is five miles longer.

The source is believed to be at the Thames Head near Kemble in the Cotswolds. As it heads down to the estuary into the North Sea the river contains both salt and fresh water, the salinity increasing as it leaves Teddington lock.

The salinity depends on the state of the tide coming up and the volume of fresh water coming down stream via the tributaries. Interestingly, the fresh water passes over the top of the salt water, so the salinity increases nearer the riverbed, but by the time the river has snaked its way from Teddington to the North Sea, the salinity has equalled out from the surface to the bottom.

Large sections of the river were declared “dead” back in 1957. The river was heavily polluted with sewage and the oxygen levels dropped so low that few species could survive within its waters.

Image above: Fisherman taking part in the annual competition at Tidefest; photograph Anna Kunst

Improvement and things to keep an eye on…

Improvements in water and sewage treatment and a reduction in heavy metals being dumped into the river are just two reasons why, from approximately the 1960s, the river began to be cleaner. Now 70% of London’s water is supplied by reservoirs that collect water from the Thames.

Oxygen concentrations, phosphorus and nitrate levels have been monitored in the Thames over the years. The Zoological Society’s analysis showed that dissolved oxygen concentrations, critical for fish survival, show long-term increases. Phosphorus concentrations have reduced in both the long and short term, showing the effectiveness of improved sewage treatment. However, there has been a long-term increase in nitrate concentrations, which can negatively affect water quality through enrichment.  Too many nitrates can cause algae blooms blocking out the light that can affect the ecosystems within the river.

Water temperature and sea levels continue to rise above historic baselines. This may be caused by global warming and, according to the Zoological Society, will affect the estuary’s wildlife, leading to changes in life-history patterns and species ranges.

Where the levels mentioned above have been monitored in the Thames for a while and therefore trends can be recorded, there has been no such ongoing monitoring of plastic waste in the Thames – until now.

The report gives an annual average of the five most common plastic items found in the river since 2015. The main culprit really amazed me; it is cotton buds!  Why on earth are we putting such a quantity of cotton buds into our waste and it ending up in our rivers?  Crikey!

Look at the downward trend once the Government banned them from being made of plastic. One assumes they are still dumped in this manner despite not being plastic. Stop putting cotton buds down the loo folks!

Image above: Common plastics found per 1msampling area – Credit, Zoological Society of London (ZSL)

A quick snapshot of a few species

Sensational Seahorses

I have always found seahorses intriguing; such beautiful creatures, and I was fascinated to learn they have been found in the Thames.  I always thought they dwelled only in more exotic lands.

Two species are found off the shores of Britain, the Short Snouted and the Spiny. It should not really have been a surprise they were found in the Thames, as they like estuaries and seagrass meadows. However, they are quite sensitive to changes in water temperature and quality, so their appearance is an indicator that the water quality in the Thames is improving.

Seahorses are a fish, in the same class as tuna or salmon. They cannot swim well and use their prehensive tail to hold onto seagrass or seaweed, so they do not get swept away. They have no teeth and suck up plankton and shrimp.

Image above: Seahorse; photograph ZSL

I also read their snouts expand to allow larger prey to be eaten, which left me with quite a comical image in my head! Another interesting fact is that the males give birth. They are believed to be the only creature on earth to do this.

After going into labour, the male gives birth to anything from a few to several thousand embryos (depending on the species) that float about in the water like plankton and require no further parental care.

The Short Snouted have been sighted in the Thames around Greenwich. Several individuals have been seen, which makes researchers believe they are living and breeding in the Thames rather than just passing by.

In 2008 both British Sea Horses were protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981 as amended). They are a ‘Feature of Conservation Importance’ for which Marine Conservation Zones can be designated.  In the Thames there is work underway to establish more seagrass meadows with the hope of conserving the Seahorses within its waters.

Image above: River Thames at Strand on the Green; photograph Joanna Raikes

Sharks out there…

There are three shark species to be found in the Thames, and I am pleased to report that there is little chance of anyone being pulled off their paddle board and used as a snack by any of these species.

One is the Tope which is critically endangered globally and appears on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They can grow up to 190 cm long, live more than 50 years and mature between 10 to 17 years old. They only give birth to pups every two to three years.

They are highly migratory and move towards the poles in the summer to pup and towards the equators in winter, returning to the same spot every three years. Adult Tope feed on cephalopods and pelagic fishes, juveniles prefer to feed on benthic invertebrates (creatures that live in the sediment and have no backbone).

We then have the Starry Smoothhound, commonly referred to as ‘Hound Sharks’ and listed by the IUCN red list as Near Threatened – meaning that their population trend is decreasing.

This is a smaller species of shark growing to about 140cm. They have a splattering of small, bright white spots along their back, which give them their name “starry”. They are the only species of Smoothhound to be found in British waters and can be found at depths of up to 200 metres, feeding almost exclusively on crustaceans.

It appears they are quite promiscuous with one litter having been found to have three different fathers. They are understudied as a shark, so hopefully their presence in the Thames means we can learn a bit more about them.

Finally, we have the Spurdog, also known as the Spiny Dogfish, Cape Shark, or Piked Dogfish. They can inhabit waters up to 900m deep but are more usually found in waters shallower than 200m. They are a schooling shark with gestation periods of up to 24 months and can live for up to 40 years.

They have sharp spurs at the front of each dorsal fin that are believed to be used to fend off predators. These can inflict swelling and pain. Best admired from a distance, I think.

Image above: Glass Eel; photograph ZSL

Just a boring eel? – I don’t think so!

The fact that sharks and seahorses are living in the Thames is very exciting and makes great headlines. However, the creature that really got my attention was the European Eel. Its lifecycle is a pure marvel!

For centuries no one knew where eels spawned. It wasn’t until 1904 that a Danish man, after many years of casting fishing nets to capture young eels (in various stages of growth), found where we still believe they originate today – the Sargasso Sea.

The Sargasso Sea is a vast patch within the Atlantic Ocean named for the free-floating seaweed called sargassum and is located off the coast of America, by the Bermuda Triangle. It has no land border and is the only sea not to do so. It is believed the European eel returns here to spawn and the amazing life cycle begins.

Image above: European Eel lifecycle – credit Thames Rivers Trust

An amazing life cycle

The eggs are laid and eventually hatch into larvae called Leptocephalus – not a nasty disease, but leaf-shaped creatures that are carried toward Europe on the ocean currents.

This journey takes two years and covers over 6,000 km, the longest known migration of any eel species. Once they reach our shores the larvae again change into what are known as glass eels measuring about six inches long.

Before they leave the sea to find a home, they change yet again into elvers.  Their colour changes to brown so they are less likely to be seen and eaten by predators which are numerous ranging from fish, birds, and mammals. Elvers are feisty determined little creatures that will surf tides, cross land, and crawl over obstacles to reach that perfect patch of fresh water to call home.

Once a good home is found containing places to hide and food to eat, the elver will live and grow there, turning into what is known as a yellow eel. Males will live there for up to 12 years and females for up to 20 years and grow up to a metre long.

Again, what happens next is a mystery. No one knows what mechanism takes place to make an eel decide to return to the sea. As an eel heads back from fresh to sea water it turns into a silver eel, its stomach shrinks so it needs less food on the journey, and its pupils grow big so it can see the way through the murky waters of the deep sea.

It is believed the eels return to the Sargasso Sea to spawn but this spectacle has never been witnessed. It is also thought they die there, but again we are not 100 percent sure. How about that?

 

Image above: Eel pass; photograph ZSL

European Eels are critically endangered. They have been overfished and suffer from pollution and habitat loss. A recurring theme with our wildlife habitat loss is that of fragmentation. This is something I mention a lot when talking about hedgehogs having their green space accessibility reduced by concrete, building and fences.  This is also a problem for the European Eel.

Research along the Thames and its tributaries has shown that eel numbers leaving the Thames and travelling up the tributaries have reduced by 90% since the 1980’s – truly shocking!  Over 2,000 barriers to eel migration have been listed and every river off the Thames has at least one such barrier such as a weir or a lock.

In the eels’ favour, is its feisty nature. Being willing to cross ground and over obstacles means that organisations such as ZSL and Thames Rivers Trust are now building access passes over these barriers to allow eels to continue their migratory journey. It is thought that about 138.5 hectares of additional habitat have so far been created, which is great news indeed.

Image above: Freddie; photograph Mary Tester

Seals, a top predator in our midst

We can’t really talk about creatures living in the Thames without mentioning the animals we have grown to love and enjoy being able to see.  There are two types of seal that visit the Thames – the harbour and the grey.

Grey seals are the most populous, with approximately 3,500 to be found in the Thames Estuary.  Harbour seals have suffered population plummets due to disease over the years but the population in the Thames has been growing and is now at approximately 900.

Image above: Seals on the Thames; photograph ZSL

The seal numbers are surveyed each year and the trend shows numbers increasing. Seals are now spotted as far upstream as Teddington, and they also haul out and breed along the Greater Thames Estuary.

It cannot yet be said that the increase in population is down to a cleaner Thames as there is not enough data to support it, however there must be a healthy ecosystem to be able to sustain a food chain that will support a top predator such as a seal.

I am sure some people will remember Freddie the seal who lost his life last year after an attack by a dog. Shortly after this Mary Tester, a British Divers Marine Life Rescue medic, set up Thames Seal Watch with other concerned regular users of the river.

Mary has been working with MP Tracey Crouch to provide seals with stronger legal protection and Tracey’s Ten-Minute Rule Bill to protect seals from harassment will be read in parliament on Wednesday 9 February. Let us hope they are given the protection they need.

Images above: People out enjoying the river at Tidefest; photograph Anna Kunst

Recreation on the Thames

The Zoological Society of London’s report gives data on how we recreationally use the Thames. Rowing is the most popular activity on the river with over 5,800 people taking part in rowing activities in a year.

Surveys aimed at measuring use of recreational areas around the Thames showed 43% of respondents visited the paths, 31% parks, 21% beaches and 5% the nature reserves. The Thames is clearly used by a lot of us for sport, education and cognitive health.

With ongoing monitoring and work to improve the state of the Thames, including the new Thames Super Sewer, we should all be able to continue enjoying this “blue space”.  Whilst we enjoy the outdoor pleasures of having this wonderful river on our doorstep, we also need to acknowledge that cleaner water and climate change could continue to invite other creatures into the Thames. We need to show them the respect and distance they require to fulfil their lives too.

Want to know some more?

The State Of The Thames 2021 – Download the full report by the Zoological Society London here.

Thames Catchment Community Eels Project – Thames Rivers Trust website here.

The Seahorse Trust – British Seahorse survey here.

Thames Seal Watch – Sealwatch London website here.

WildChiswick – Learn a bit more about WildChiswick, what we do and why we do it here.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Equivalent of 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools of sewage spilled into Thames on each of two days

See also: Chiswick’s Tidefest organiser Martin Salter instrumental in forcing Government’s U-turn on environment bill

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 journalist Guto Harri to save Boris Johnson from himself?

Image above: Guto Harri; photograph from Twitter

Guto Harri tells The Chiswick Calendar his experience working with Chiswick’s lifeboat crew will help him in new job as Boris Johnson’s Director of Communications

Guto Harri, former BBC journalist and Chiswick resident, has been appointed Director of Communications for Boris Johnson.

He’s one of the ‘grown ups’ being parachuted in to get a grip on Number 10 this week after five advisers dramatically left Downing St, as the number of letters from Tory MPs announcing they have no confidence in their leader rises to the mid 40s reportedly (the magic number being 54 to spark a leadership contest) and Dominic Cummings promises more damaging revelations.

Guto is no stranger to managing high stakes crises and big personalities. He’s worked with Boris before, when he was Mayor of London, and he helped Rupert Murdoch to rebuild the reputation of NewsUK after the phone hacking scandal. He is on the board of Hawthorn, which offers ‘corporate reputation and leadership’ services.

Images above: Guto Harri’s Tweets showing him with Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It) and Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London

“Stay calm, keep perspective”

Guto announced on Twitter on Sunday that he was taking the job, with a picture of himself with actor Peter Capaldi, who played the vituperative Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It, saying:

‘Having taken advice from a distinguished predecessor, I’m delighted to confirm that I have accepted the role of Director of Comms for @BorisJohnson.’

When he is not engaging in power politics he is a volunteer lifeboatman with the Chiswick crew and he told The Chiswick Calendar his experience with the RNLI will help him get a handle on Boris’s current crisis.

“It’s an enormous privilege and a very big challenge.  Fortunately my wonderful colleagues at RNLI Chiswick have taught me over many years to focus on the task in front of you, stay calm, keep perspective and co-operate and communicate properly with your colleagues.

“A more experienced, competent and professional team in No.10 will hopefully allow the Prime Minister and his cabinet to concentrate on the issues that really matter – delivering what they promised to the British people.”

Images above: Guto Harri as RNLI lifeboatman; Chiswick lifeboat 

Remainer who said Johnson as prime minister would be “divisive”

Johnson’s allies have been using the word ‘grown-up’ to describe the new team in Downing Street, with Cabinet Office minister Steve Barclay as the new chief of staff. Guto used the word himself when he spoke to the Guardian.

The Guardian’s Deputy political editor Rowena Mason writes:

‘Harri’s appointment was for the main part welcomed by Tory MPs despite his having backed remain in the EU referendum, with two senior Brexit-supporting MPs saying it was “very positive” and a return at long last to “sensible” appointments.

‘One said it would hopefully provide more stability after the era of Cummings and the subsequent era of aides close to the prime minister’s wife.’

Guto has spoken out in support of Boris Johnson several times over the past few weeks in media interviews, saying to LBC’s Nick Ferrari:

“Are we really so prissy a piece of cake being brought into a meeting is considered sickening?

“… we’re losing our sense of perspective”

and saying he would not describe Boris Johnson as a ‘party animal’. But he has also said in the past that he thought Johnson would be a very “divisive” prime minister.

Dominic Cummings’ reaction to Guto Harries’ appointment was this:

“Message from No10: ‘So our new boss is a pro-Remain lobbyist who’s said the PM is ‘sexually incontinent’, ‘hugely divisive’, ‘destructive’, ‘dragging the country down’, & picked ‘wrong side’ in referendum’ GREAT.”

Guto’s response was swift and equally to the point, referring to an article he wrote in 2020 in which he described Cummings as:

“powerful unelected official cultivating a high profile, disagreeing with the prime minister, undermining the cabinet, picking on special advisers, hiring weirdos who can’t survive a week in public life and providing us all with a detailed running commentary of how wonderful this is all meant to be”.

He starts his first week in the job just as historian and former newspaper editor Max Hastings publishes an excoriating piece on Boris Johnson in the Times. Headlined ‘Has this experiment in celebrity government given us the most disreputable leader in history?’ Hastings argues the prime minister’s ‘systematic deceit and frivolity have undermined our democracy at home and shamed our nation abroad’.

That’s some reputation management job.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Peter Oborne lists Boris Johnson’s lies in new website

See also: Comedy Night 2022 at Headliners Comedy Club, in support of Chiswick RNLI – 15 March

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.

 

Residents’ group objects to Lisa Armstrong’s plans to build in her back garden

A group of residents have raised objections to the celebrity makeup-artist Lisa Armstrong’s plans to build several structures in the garden of her recently acquired riverside home.

The No Garden Grab group, which successfully opposed a residential development in another riverside garden at 17 Hartington Road, is now aiming to prevent this project on similar grounds.

Lisa, who is the ex-wife of celebrity TV presenter Ant McPartlin, has submitted four planning applications to LB Hounslow in order to build structures in her 226ft long garden. She is seeking permission for a gazebo, pergola, swimming pool and pool pump room.

The pergola would be at the immediate rear of the house with a 30sqm metre pool in the middle of the garden. Further down would be a 44.4 Sqm gym and a timber summerhouse with a deck right next to the river, which could be up to four metres high.

The No Garden Group says the structures, some of which have already been erected and for which retrospective planning permission has been sought, should not be built on a ‘functional flood plain’.

Lisa has recently bought the house after her widely publicised divorce from McPartlin in which it was reported Lisa received a £31million settlement. She has employed a designer friend to create a ‘dream home’ to live in with her new partner, having bought the property in September 2020, for £3,725,000.

The No Garden Grab group said there had been no notice posted outside of the property since the submission of the applications and residents were unaware of any consultation regarding the proposals. The group said they had discovered the plans had been submitted ‘by accident’.

Image above: highlighted in red are the proposed structures submitted in Lisa Armstrong’s combined planning applications (taken from Hounslow.gov), a birds-eye view of the property (taken via Google Maps)

Planning committee recently unanimously rejected riverside luxury homes development

LB Hounslow has a policy of no buildings in back gardens, as part of its environmental policy to retain as much green space as possible. It also tries to avoid building in functional floodplain.

A Hounslow Council planning committee rejected a proposal to develop housing behind 17 Hartington Road on 6 January 2022.

Councillors voted unanimously to reject the construction of four houses in the garden of a Victorian house in Hartington Rd, a decision which was made despite borough planners recommending the scheme’s approval.

The No Garden Grab group had gathered more than 500 signatures for a petition started in objection to the plans. Some argued the proposed development garden was a prominent wildlife habitat, home to protected species including bats, nesting geese and owls. Others argued about the importance of a natural defence against surface flooding when the river overflows.

Developers told The Chiswick Calendar a mistake had been made by the Environment Agency in designating the site a ‘functional floodplain’. The Environment Agency changed their advice when the developer made them aware of existing flood defences – a river wall.

Residents groups and environmentalists argued the proposed new houses would require a complex, expensive, high maintenance underground drainage scheme consisting of tanks and electric pumps to mimic what trees and soil does already.

Image above: developments were proposed for this site at 17 Hartington Road and were rejected unanimously by councillors

‘All development is prohibited on 3b Flood Zones’

Speaking about Lisa Armstrong’s planning applications, The No Garden Grab group said:

“The back garden, like others along this stretch of Hartington Road, falls in Flood Zone 3b – functional floodplain which is designed to act as a safe storage area for floodwater in the event of a tidal breach of the flood defences. That is why all development is prohibited.

“A proposal in 2020 to construct a 2-storey pool house at a neighbouring property was rejected for being unacceptable development in Flood Zone 3b. This proposal for a large gym, pool pump room and summerhouse should be refused for the same reason.

“The back gardens in this area are also at high risk of surface water flooding as shown in the mapping of Hounslow’s latest Surface Water Management Plan (November 2021). Increasing the impermeable area through construction means excess rainwater cannot drain away safely.

“It is vital that there is greater awareness of these very real flooding issues amongst homeowners and that Hounslow Council is consistent and transparent in applying existing planning policy to avoid increasing the risk of flooding in this vulnerable area.”

The application references are P/2021/4940; P/2021/4941; P/2021/4942; P/2021/4943.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

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

See also: Lisa Armstrong shows off her new home

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 appeal for information after knife fight on Bollo Lane

A 20-year-old man who suffered a hand injury following a knife fight on Bollo Lane has been arrested. The man was arrested on suspicion affray and police are seeking the other males who were involved in the altercation.

Police were called to Bollo Lane in Acton at 3.30pm on Friday (February 4) following reports of a group of men fighting with a knife. Officers and the London Ambulance Service attended the scene.

The 20-year-old  who was arrested was later treated in hospital for his hand injury. The Met said they are keen to locate the other parties to this fight and are asking anyone who has information to call 101 quoting ref 4629/04FEB.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: West London police officer sentenced for causing death by careless driving

See also: Hounslow announces almost 3% increase in Council Tax

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.

West London police officer sentenced after causing death by careless driving

A serving west London police officer has been sentenced after being found guilty of causing death by careless driving, following a collision on Whitton Road, Hounslow in November 2019 in which a pedestrian died.

PC Daniel Francis, 33, attached to the West Area Command Unit, pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, 7 December. He was sentenced on Friday, 4 February at the Old Bailey to 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.

He was also ordered to complete 240 hours of unpaid work, 20 days rehabilitation activity, and given a four-month electronic curfew. He was suspended from driving for 18 months and will be required to take an extended test.

The matter was referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct who carried out an independent investigation. PC Francis was charged following a referral to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Image above: Whitton Road

PC Francis remains as a serving police officer

The victim, 23 year-old Andrew Brown, died from his injures in hospital after being hit by a police vehicle on a zebra crossing. A 16-year-old boy was also injured in the incident.

The incident occurred around midnight on 1 November 2019 in Whitton Road, Hounslow as PC Francis, who was driving a marked police vehicle, accelerated after a car from which a firework had been thrown.

The Metropolitan Police said their thoughts were with the family and friends of the victim and that they have co-operated fully with the IOPC at every stage.

PC Francis remains subject to a misconduct investigation and is currently on restricted duties, having not been suspended or sacked.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Ealing proposes maximum Council Tax increase of nearly 3%

See also: Hounslow announces almost 3% increase in Council Tax

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.

 

American University offers to provide volunteers for Chiswick organisations

Image above: Chiswick Business Park, where the American International University will be situated

The American International University in London, which will be moving into Chiswick Business Park in July, is looking for opportunities for its students to do voluntary work.

From charity shops to Chiswick House, Chiswick’s many charities and not-for-profit organisations offer all sorts of opportunities for volunteering, so the influx of young people who will be attending classes at the university’s new campus from September may provide an answer to the perpetual problem of finding help.

President and Vice Chancellor Phil Deans told The Chiswick Calendar as a liberal arts university they expect their students to spend part of their time doing voluntary work as part of their broad based approach to learning. They also arrange internships with companies for their students and are on the look-out for opportunities for both volunteering and internships in Chiswick.

Image above: CGI of how the university campus will look

“We hope the impact we have on Chiswick will be positive, on not just in terms of the impact on the bars”

The university, which is celebrating its 50th year this year, is currently based in Richmond and is moving to Chiswick for more space. Being situated in the business park puts them in the perfect location for arranging work placements. This is the time of year when students usually apply for internships.

“We are really looking forward to moving in. We’ll be unpacking boxes from July, with the first students through the doors in September” he told me.

“We hope the impact we have on Chiswick will be positive, on not just in terms of the impact on the bars.

“We would like to get to know our neighbours and would like people to get in touch with ideas of how we might contribute to the local community.”

Image above: CGI of how the university campus will look

The university was founded in 1972 as away of offering Americans opportunities to study abroad, but over the years it has evolved.

“In the 1990s it became increasingly British” says Phil.

The students come from more than 60 different countries, about a third from the US, a third from the UK and EU and the remaining third from elsewhere. The mix is about 80% studying undergraduate degrees and 20% postgrad.

“People choose it because it’s in London”, he says, “they love the idea of its internationalism.”

Though it has become increasingly British, it retains the American style broad-based first year, in which students are required to take ten core curriculum courses  alongside courses relating to their chosen subjects.

‘These courses reach across disciplines, building connections between different academic areas such as philosophy, writing, science, business, creativity, communications, digital futures, international relations, history and psychology.’

‘By exploring a wide range of subjects, it enables students to gain a broader perspective of the world around them, developing their intellectual curiosity. It also makes for a much more diverse student experience, working with students taking other subjects in a truly multi-cultural, international learning environment.’

Image above: Lanterns in the trees at Chiswick Business Park for the Chinese New Year; photograph Jennifer Griffiths

The university has a virtual open day on Wednesday 23 February from 4 – 6.30pm. It has launched an initiative to widen participation and attract more students from Hounslow. The university has reconstructed its first year as a foundation for British students who do not have A levels and there are some scholarships available.

Students are not expected to be living in Chiswick. There is no accommodation on campus and the university is in negotiation with several large housing providers, one of which is in Hammersmith.

Professor Deans is not what I expected at all. He is not American, but from Newcastle. The first generation of his family to go to university, he took the opportunity to go and study in China in 1983 and stayed two years. When he graduated he won a scholarship to Japan.

He has taught at SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and run an American university in Japan. He plans to welcome visitors to Korean and Chinese seminars and food evenings once they settle in to their new premises.

For more information, go to The American International University in London (Richmond) website.

richmond.ac.uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Running legend Sir Mo Farah joins schools sport conference in Hounslow

See also: House of Lords member visits Chiswick School and quotes students in parliamentary debate

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.

 

February 2022 books

What’s new and good to read this month? Annakarin Klerfalk has a look at what’s on offer and chooses Hear No Evil, 12 Hours to Say I Love You, and Breathless which are all out in February.

Hear No Evil

Hear No Evil, is a historical novel, written by Sarah Smith. The story was inspired by a landmark case in Scottish legal history – and it begins in Glasgow, in 1817, when a young deaf woman is accused of throwing a child into the River Clyde.

The main character, Jean, is being held in Edinburgh’s Tolbooth prison and a teacher called Robert is trying to help interpret the world for her. Jean confides in Robert, but he quickly turns from interpreter to investigator.

Is there more to it than guilt and innocence?

Author Anita Frank reviewed it as: “A meticulously researched, sensitively executed novel, richly evocative of its period & inspired by the true case of one woman’s fight for compassion & justice at a time when ‘other’ was viewed with suspicion & distaste.”

Hear No Evil is published by Two Roads on 3 February.

Images above: Hear No Evil front cover, author Sarah Smith

12 Hours to Say I Love You

Olivia Poulet and Laurence Dobiesz are writers and actors based in London. Their comedy drama, Blessed, was written by them for Radio and broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

12 Hours to Say I Love You is a gripping love story, told from two perspectives. The reader is introduced to Pippa Gallagher, who has been in a traffic accident and is rushed to hospital. Pippa is unconscious but memories come back to her; when she met Steve, the love of her life – and her best friend.

Steve sits by her bedside, heartbroken and feeling guilty for not being there when she needed him.

During the next twelve hours, Steve tells Pippa all the reasons why he loves her. But is it too late?

Tom Allen said it’s “Not just a beautifully tender love story but also a wonderful journey of exaltation, desperation and heartbreak – life affirming.”

Headline will release 12 hours to Say I Love You on 3 February.

Images above: 12 Hours to Say I Love You, authors Olivia Poulet and Laurence Dobiesz

Breathless

Amy McCulloch has written eight novels for children and young adults, including the number one bestseller The Magpie Society: One for sorrow with Zoe Sugg. Breathless is Amy’s adult fiction debut.

Breathless tells the story of Cecily Wong, who is a journalist on an expedition to climb one of the world’s highest mountains. But things start to go wrong. There’s a theft, followed by an accident – and a note, with a clear warning that there is a killer hiding in her team. Being so far up, there’s nowhere to hide. And then Cecily finds the first body…

Joel Richardson, who acquired the book for Michael Joseph, said “This is a really special thriller. It’s full of wonderfully claustrophobic suspense with a killer hiding amongst a small group of people, but a classic formula is made totally fresh by its extraordinary setting, which no-one but Amy could have written.”

Breathless is published by Penguin (Michael Joseph) on 17 February.

Images above: Breathless front cover, author Amy McCulloch

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.

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.

 

Fuller’s Griffin brewery celebrates 30 years of brewery tours

Image above: Fuller’s Griffin Brewery; photograph Nick Raikes

350 years of brewing and 30 years of brewery tours

Fuller’s Griffin Brewery is celebrating 30 years of its famous brewery tours. There has been brewing on the site (now beside the Hogarth roundabout) for 350 years and the tour guides take visitors through both the history and the practice of brewing.

Though Japanese global beer brand Asahi took over the brewery in 2019, the beers are still very much Fuller’s brands. The partnership of Fuller, Smith & Turner dates from 1845; they still run Fuller’s pubs and inns.

Cask beer used to be produced in open fermenters, and it was head brewer Reg Drury, who died in 2015, who transformed and modernised the brewery, perfecting Chiswick Bitter, London Pride and Extra Special Bitter (ESB) in the 1970s and ’80s.

The woman who took the first guided tour, Jill Rigeon, still shows visitors round. She told The Chiswick Calendar what people like is to see the brewery in action, with people working around them as they tour the site.

Image above: Jill Rigeon giving a tour in the early 1980s

Jill’s first experience of working with Fuller’s was as a student in 1980, when she was studying for a Home Economics degree at Manchester University and came to the brewery for work experience in the laboratory. Her third year thesis was on aspects of brewing.

She shot herself in the foot career wise, as she started going out with the laboratory boss Simon, so could not apply for a job there. It turned out well, as they got married, they still are married and she has had a very successful career with another company.

None of which has stopped her taking tours of visitors around the brewery. In the early days the visitors were area managers with customers from their own pub. As time went on, the tours were opened out to the general public.

“I was the only one doing it in the beginning. I wrote the tour, with information on how the beer is brewed, what it’s made from and how it’s packaged. The history is really important and people like that it’s small enough to see everything.

“They love that it’s small and intimate and that people are working around them. They’re in a real working brewery.”

Image above: Gates to the Fuller’s Griffin Brewery

The Chiswick Calendar’s reporter Bartley Chipchase went on the tour and was amazed at the depth of information and the complexity of the process. The tour is an absolute must, he says, for anyone who’s serious about beer, or brewing as a whole.

READ ALSO: Fuller’s Griffin Brewery tour – Bartley Chipchase

The Griffin Brewery is a Chiswick Calendar Club Card member, offering holders of a Chiswick Calendar Club Card a 15% discount off tours and everything in the brewery shop (at any time) apart from spirits. See their Club Card page here: Fuller’s Griffin Brewery and shop

Image above: Talking to Jill Rigeon by Zoom

Champion beers of Britain

Perhaps best known for their signature London Pride, a wide range of Fuller’s beers are distributed to pubs across the country and exported to more than 80 countries worldwide. Their beers have consistently earned praise from ale drinkers and awards from groups such as the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), with brewery tours themselves earning excellent reviews on Tripadvisor and through word of mouth.

Jill says the good thing about London Pride is its consistency:

“It’s brilliant because of its quality and consistency, compared with craft ales, which can be quite variable. Also the way the beer is looked after in the pubs. Fuller’s offer great training and their cellar service is second to none.”

London Pride, Chiswick Bitter and ESB have all been named champion beer of Britain in the Campaign for Real Ale annual awards.

Images above: Aerial view of the brewery; kegs

More than a million pints a week

Pre-Covid the brewery was delivering more than a million pints of beer a week. When Asahi bought the brewery in 2019, they vowed not to mess with the beer’s winning formula. It is after all Fuller’s beers that they wanted to sell worldwide.

I asked Jill about the tales of people drowning in vats – all apocryphal apparently. Like Beefeaters at the Tower of London, some of the tour guides like to embroider with a few legends. It is true that the coppers used to be cleaned by hand – a hot and dirty job which took several hours, for which the men were awarded extra beer.

True also that the dray men used to consume quantities of beer prior to the introduction of breathalysers and drink-driving laws. ‘Alan the gallon’ was reputed never to drink less than a gallon if he sat down to take ale, and only have solid food at night, preferring to keep going on beer during the day.

Jill is more comfortable talking about the science of brewing. She told me all the barley used is grown on the east coast, they use over 30 different types of hops and even though the UK only has a very small hop growing industry now, the majority still come from the UK.

Image above: Fuller’s dray horses at the Christmas open house 2021, to which they invited brewery workers and neighbours

Fun beer facts

She is a mine of information, among the fun beer facts she told me being:

Fuller’s was the first brewery to Contract Bottle Guinness (in the 70’s). Not just ordinary Guinness this was ‘Bottle Conditioned’ Guinness with yeast in the bottles. Guinness actually installed bespoke Guinness tanks in the cellar for us, which have never been removed. (They would have to be cut out).

Before the 1980s the beer that was destined for the bottling hall, ran through Pyrex Glass mains from the brewing department, so you could actually see the beer moving across the yard (These days they are all stainless steel pipes).

The tours are not just a one-way flow of information though.

“I learn a lot from the visitors” Jill says. “They come from all walks of life. We used to get servicemen – when battleships docked they came over and took a tour as a jolly. The police are a good laugh. We get lots of students, a lot of Scandinavians, and now South Americans. Draft beer was until quite recently rare in those countries because of the climate, they’re used to having cold fizzy beer.”

The most popular question from visitors? – “What is the difference between ale and bitter?”

I could explain, having talked to Jill, but much better that you hear it from her or one of her fellow tour guides. Currently tours operate Tuesday – Thursday and Saturday at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm. On Friday, tours are at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm. On Sunday, there are tours at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm.

Price £25 (£21.25 with a Club Card).

Images above: Fuller’s Griffin brewery

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Music line-up announced for Pub in the Park

See also: Chiswick Book Festival donates £6,000 to charities

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 Art School offers sculpture classes

Image above: Gillian Brett sculptor, working on portraits of two boys; photograph by Julia Fullerton Batten

Chiswick Art School, which regularly offers classes in photography, pottery, oil and watercolour painting at their premises in Dukes Meadows, is offering new taster classes in sculpture.

We spoke to sculptor Gillian Brett, who will be taking the classes.

“I started out as a designer” she told The Chiswick Calendar, “but as I moved into management I moved further and further away from the creative side”.

Hence ten years ago she decided she would go back to her first love and do something creative. She studied at the Art Academy in Borough, a two year training in the atelier method, which equipped her to become a sculptor.

Images above: Sculptures by Gillian Brett

Her work is mainly figurative, working from life (challenging during lockdown) with live models and producing lifesize and half lifesize busts, smaller figurines and bigger sculptures intended for gardens.

She uses mostly ceramics, with some other sustainable materials such as paper and fabric, working from her home in the Glebe estate in Chiswick, and getting her pieces fired in Putney. She also has sculptures cast in bronze resin or Jesmonite, a more environmentally friendly option.

She likes the peace and calm of working with clay, finding it soothing compared with the stresses of corporate life as a brand executive. But she also enjoys the camaraderie of working in a group, helping others achieve their creative aims and just having a bit of company, which is why after the successive periods of lockdown the pandemic has wrought, she approached the Chiswick Art School to see if they would like to offer sculpture as part of their course schedule.

They would, and they are starting a series of ‘taster’ classes this month.

Images above: Sculptures by Gillian Brett

Gillian’s sculpture ‘taster’ classes are on Thursday 24 February, Thursday 10 March and Thursday 24 March, each one a group activity (maximum six people) in which every student will make their own piece to take away at the end of the day.

Thursday 24 February

Portrait sculpture, creating a head in clay

Thursday 10 March

Figurative sculpture, creating a whole figure in clay

Thursday 24 March

Low relief sculpture, creating a slightly 3D image as a wall plaque, using a photograph as subject material

Chiswick Art School is expanding this year, with bigger studios opening in the summer. Gillian hopes to be able to offer longer courses then.

To book her taster classes or other classes with Chiswick Art School, including some for children, register on their website.

chiswickartschool.co.uk

Images above: Sculptures by Gillian Brett

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Music line-up announced for Pub in the Park

See also: You’ll have to be organised to see the Chiswick House camellias this year

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 – Petite Maman

Petite Maman ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Nelly has just lost her grandmother and is helping her parents clean out her mother’s childhood home. She explores the house and the surrounding woods. One day she meets a girl her same age building a treehouse. Out on 18 February on Mubi.

Nominated for a BAFTA for best foreign language film, Petite Maman is a beautifully delicate meditation on grief, loss and motherhood, masked as a kind of magic fairy tale, seen through the eyes of a child… with a time travel twists to it.

I was reminded of an old episode from the classic Twilight Zone (how l loved some of those old stories), where two people were able to speak to each other across several decades. Similarly here a child, Nelly, finds herself face to face with another young girl of her own age, Marion, who will soon turn out to be her own future mother.

Don’t worry about spoilers here and don’t be misled by the slightly sci-fi plot, director Celine Sciamma is not really interested in the mechanics of time travelling, nor she is questioning how it is at all possible. In fact it’s all laid out as if this was the most natural encounter, exactly as children would see an event like this.

This is no Back to the Future; what Sciamma focuses on is the emotional journey of Nelly and her mother, as they are both dealing with the loss of their grandmother / mother.

Sciamma had already shown us her great skills in directing children with her delightful Tomboy (2011) and in writing about children with the little masterpiece in animation My Life as an Aubergine (2017).

Here the two young stars, Josephine and Gabriel Sanz, who are in fact twins in real life, are so wonderfully natural that at times it feels like the camera was running in the background and it just happened to capture some of their raw emotions, particularly their laughter. A scene where the two are making pancakes in a kitchen is a case in point.

The pace of the film is deliberately quite slow and very naturalistic (virtually no music, aside from one scene), which might be a bit trying for some people, but it does add to the feeling of serenity and poignancy throughout.

It is a sweet little film which might be small in scale and length (only 72 minutes! Hooray!) but it carries great depth and warmth.

Having said all that, by resisting all the usual film-makers tricks and by trying to be as un-manipulative and as subtle as possible, despite some beautiful moments throughout, the film was to me slightly held back from delivering the real emotional punch that I was hoping for.

In the end it was probably a little bit too gentle to leave any long-lasting impact on me.

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

Petite Maman is out on 18 February on Mubi.

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.

Rishi Sunak’s energy plan “too timid” to deal with cost of living crisis says Ruth Cadbury

Ruth Cadbury has attacked the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s plans to deal with the energy crisis, branding them “too timid” to deal with the combined cost of living increases facing the country.

Speaking in parliament the Brentford and Isleworth MP urged Rishi Sunak to take urgent action, after Ofgem announced energy bills could rise by up to £2,000 a year.

She criticised the Chancellor for framing his new energy loans as ‘rebate’ or ‘discount’ when customers will have to pay them back over five years.

She also called on the Chancellor to introduce a windfall tax on energy companies such as Shell, which recently announced profits of nearly £20 billion.

The Chancellor announced all households would receive £200 off their energy bills in October. But the ‘discount’ needs to be paid back by £40 a year over five years from 2023. In addition, council taxpayers in England in bands A to D would receive a rebate of £150 from their bills in April, which will not have to be paid back.

Local authorities are also receiving £150m to make discretionary payments to the neediest and the number of low income households eligible for the warm homes discount – worth £150 from October – is to be increased by a third to 3 million.

LB Hounslow & LB Ealing have recently announced plans to increase Council Tax by the maximum amount allowed, a rise of almost 3%.

“Far too timid and far too late”

Speaking after her question in the Commons, Ruth said:

‘‘Today’s announcement from the Chancellor is far too timid and far too late to help families struggling rising cost of energy. It’s not fair that today’s announcement will see people waiting until October for a £200 loan, which they will then be forced to pay back. People locally can’t afford to wait over six months for a loan – they need urgent action today. The Chancellor’s statement also offered nothing for businesses, or schools, which are also faced with unaffordable energy bills.

“That’s why I have called on the Government to take urgent action by cutting VAT on energy bills- as the Prime Minister promised in 2016. On top of this the Government should expand the warm homes program to cover more families and ensure they have direct financial support. Additionally we need to see urgent action to insulate homes across the country, which would reduce bills and create well paid green jobs.

“This could be funded through a windfall tax on the energy producers who’ve made huge profits from the energy crisis. Previous Chancellors from both major parties have introduced windfall taxes in the past. I know how worried many people locally will be about this huge spike in prices and I will continue to campaign for the Government to do more to support people at this difficult time.’’

Responding to Ruth’s question, Rishi Sunak said:

“Without government intervention the increase in the price cap would leave the average household having to find an extra £693. The actions I’m announcing today will provide to the vast majority of households just over half of that amount, £350.

“In total the government is going to help around 28 m households this year. Taken together this is a plan to help with the cost of living worth around £9bn.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Ealing proposes maximum Council Tax increase of nearly 3%

See also: Hounslow announces almost 3% increase in Council Tax

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 – All of Us Are Dead

All of Us Are Dead ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2 Review by Andrea Carnevali

A high school becomes ground zero for a zombie virus outbreak. Trapped students must fight their way out or turn into one of the rabid infected. On Netflix.

If a zombie apocalypse is your kind of thing and you are looking for something to fill the hole that The Squid Game has left behind, but also if you can somehow stomach about 12 hours of another pandemic, though of a different kind, then this new Korean series All of us are dead should be on your watchlist on Netflix.

Even though this series has only just come out, I sense it has got all the credentials to become the series everyone talks about. It is gruesome, tense, funny, incredibly inventive and constantly surprising… and yes often a bit silly too.

But is it actually any good? Well, yes and no is the simple answer.

I actually hated most of the first episode: the incredibly superficial (and rather insulting) stereotypical depiction of the bullies and a very tasteless scene centred around a girl being abused, which almost made me turn it off.

Yes, there will be some sort of redemption to that storyline at some point, but having persevered through all the 12 episodes and seen where it all ends, I still don’t think it was justifiable enough and actually it didn’t need to be there.

Having said all that, once the series switches to action gear, it really sings. There are some truly astonishing sequences spread across the series which left me speechless for how well there were executed (both in terms of visual effects and camerawork), how inventive they were (a sequence in a library in episode five was genius) and how incredibly scary too.

I won’t hide that more than once I jumped from my sofa as to retract from the tv (and the zombies).

You’ll be forgiven by getting a bit lost among the huge cast during the first couple of episodes. Between reading the subtitles and the fact that they all wear pretty much the same uniform I often found myself a bit confused.

Not that it matters much: the premise is so simple that, at least for the first few episodes, it almost doesn’t matter who’s who. Most of them are just there to be slashed to pieces or eaten.

As you might have guessed, the story centres around a virus that turns people into zombies, which is spreading across a school in a small town in Korea. Needless to say, mayhem follows and by the third episode the virus reaches the town too.

We’ve seen enough of this stuff to know what the rules of the games are. In fact even the kids in the series constantly make references to what they have learnt from movies: “Have you seen Train to Busan?” asks one of the characters at one point, referencing one of Korean’s latest (and best) zombie flicks.

The series is perfectly constructed and obviously somebody must have planned it all out right from the start: I loved the way seemingly pointless early sequences (and even characters) ended up paying off much later.

However, let’s face it: it is too long and very oddly paced. At times, in among those stellar chases and action sequences, the whole thing literally grinds a halt for allowing more comedic and emotional scenes.

Not all of them work, especially in the first half of the series, when we don’t really care much about any of those characters, but as the series progresses there are some surprisingly moving moments too, which give weight to what otherwise would be just another death by zombie.

I wish it had been a little bit shorter (8-10 episodes), but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I found myself completely addicted to it, and binged it as if there was no tomorrow.

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

All of us are dead is available to watch on Netflix.

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 Tinder Swindler

The Tinder Swindler ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Posing as a wealthy, jet-setting diamond mogul, he wooed women online then conned them out of millions of dollars. Now some victims plan for payback. On Netflix.

This is the latest of a long series of true-crimes documentaries that Netflix seems to come up with almost weekly.

Apparently there’s a huge appetite for them ever since The Making of a Murderer, though my ultimate favourite is The Jinx from 2015, which I highly recommend (it can be bought on various streaming platforms like Amazon or iTunes).

But while most of these stories are usually dragged on for far too many episodes, often for no real reason, this one manages to squeeze it all in one single feature length documentary. And while some it is a bit repetitious, it does a great job at keeping the pace up and by the end it actually leaves you wanting to know more.

It is one of those stories which must be seen and heard to be believed and as ever with this type of thing, the least you know about it before you watch, the better.

So I’ll try to be as vague as possible here, though you get enough hints that this story about online dating is not going to turn out well right from the start when a grabby and flashy pre-title sequence sets the tone for dark things to come serving as a warning for the dangers lurking behind Tinder (other dating apps are available).

Cleverly, director Felicity Morris chooses to tell the facts from the point of view of the victims, as opposed to the usual investigators or news reporters, and even though the professionals at some point will come into the story too, she never loses sight of the people who have been hurt and scammed.

This adds an emotional intensity to the story which is the real driving force and the heart of this film.

A fairy tale, almost Disney-like, which will soon turn to a nightmare through a series of twists and turns which are bound to keep you hooked to the end.

Beautifully told and paced, with tasteful reconstructions which don’t draw attention to themselves and are seamlessly integrated with real footage, photos and WhatsApp messages, this is one of those that you won’t be able to forget easily whether you use dating apps or not.

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

The Tinder Swindler is available to watch on Netflix.

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.

Sir Mo Farah joins schools sport conference in Hounslow

Sir Mo Farah CBE joined more than 200 representatives from schools across LB Hounslow to ‘champion’ the role that physical activity and sport plays in the lives of young people across the borough.

The annual conference, which was hosted by Sport Impact and funded by Hounslow Council, promotes the importance of children being active and developing a lifelong love of activity and sport. The event was held at Twickenham Stoop Stadium to inspire teachers through a variety of workshops.

As a child Mo Farah attended Isleworth and Syon School, and Feltham Community College. Now Sir Mo Farah CBE, he is a multiple Olympic, World and European champion. Since 2017 he has also been an ambassador for Save the Children He led a fundraising campaign for the charity’s East Africa Appeal and donated £100,000 himself from the Mo Farah Foundation.

For many he is Britain’s greatest ever athlete having accumulated ten global titles which includes the ‘double double’ of gold medals over 5,000m and 10,000m at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games. He holds numerous European and British Records and has the World Bests for two miles indoors (8:03.40) and the One Hour Run (21,330m).

He lives and trains in South West London with his wife and their four children. He famously dedicated each of his four Olympic gold medals to his four children.

Image above: Sir Mo Farah at the sports conference organised by Sport Impact and funded by Hounslow Council

Mo wanted to play for Arsenal before becoming a runner

At the conference he spoke about his incredible journey from local pupil to sporting legend. He revealed earlier this year that when he was young he wanted to play football professionally, for Arsenal.

“I would have loved to play for Arsenal, but I was never good enough” he told The Guardian. in January. “I played at school and for the local club until I was 14, but I was only good because I could cross the ball and run forward and run back. I didn’t have any other skills. I joined a running club instead.”

He represented Hounslow at cross-country in the London Youth Games.

His athletic talent was first identified by then P.E teacher Alan Watkinson, who is now Director of Sport Impact. He said:

“We were delighted to host more than 200 people from the education and sport sector at the Sport Impact conference last Wednesday. The overriding message was the need to ensure children from all backgrounds had full access to opportunities to be physically active.

“This has never been more important because of the pandemic and we hope that delegates had some excellent insight into, not only why we need to do this, but how they might apply this to their schools. It was great to be able to access some outstanding key-note speakers and to round the day off with an interview with my famous ex-pupil Sir Mo Farah. That was the icing on the cake!”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Kew the Run: 10k and Half Marathon

See also: Social Run Group launched in Chiswick by running specialists Up & Running

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Ealing proposes maximum Council Tax increase of nearly 3%

The London Borough of Ealing is proposing an increase to Council Tax by the maximum level allowed, nearly 3%. The final decision will be made at the full Council meeting on 1 March, when the Labour majority is expected to sanction the increase.

The Council’s draft Medium Term Financial Strategy envisages an increase of 2.99% of which includes 1% for the the social care precept, which would raise £1.5million. Ealing spent nearly £84 million on adult social care last year and around 60p in every £1 that it spends goes towards supporting adults and children.

The Council is obliged by law to balance its budget and additional grant funding from central government is predicated on the council raising tax levels by the full amount. Over two thirds of councils are considering implementing the maximum increase.

READ ALSO: Hammersmith & Fulham freeze their portion of Council Tax

READ ALSO: Hounslow announces almost 3% increase in Council Tax

The total rise in Council Tax for Ealing residents will be more than 3% because the Mayor of London’s precept is also increasing. The total Council Tax bill from this April will increase by £82 a year for Ealing residents with a property rated in Band D.

Ealing’s Council Tax support scheme, which provides up to 100% discount on bills to the most vulnerable, will remain in place. Around 16,500 working age Ealing residents, and 7,400 pensioners, currently receive help paying their council tax through this scheme.

Like all local authorities, Ealing Council has seen its core government grant slashed since 2009 while seeing demand for high-cost services, such as adult social care and services for children with special educational needs and disabilities, rise. The COVID-19 pandemic, and what the council calls its legacy on jobs and local businesses, has placed extra pressure on already stretched Council finances.

Decade of Government cuts ‘means council tax increase is inevitable’

Cllr Steve Donnelly, Cabinet member an ‘inclusive economy’ said:

“We want to do everything in our power to help our communities, particularly hard-up households, who bore the brunt of the pandemic and are now on the frontline of the cost-of-living crisis. Now, more than ever, we need to make sure that our services can support and protect them as much as possible.

“When government announced their financial settlement for local councils, they made it clear that a 1.99% rise, plus their 1% social care precept, was part of the plan. With this built into government calculations, we are left with some tough choices. Unfortunately, after 10 years of government cuts, inflation at a 30-year high, and with more people needing our help, we must consider raising council tax.”

Councillor Peter Mason, Leader of Ealing Council, said:

“We expect more people than ever to turn to us for help in the coming year and, when they do, we want to be in the best possible shape to support them and keep them safe, which is why we are considering this rise.

“Everyone was affected in their own way by the pandemic and lockdowns, but we know that hard-up people on zero hours contracts and Black and ethnic minority households were hit particularly hard.

“The community rightly expects us to provide support when they need it, but we have been left once again with a short-term, inadequate and unreliable funding settlement. This leaves us vulnerable to shocks and unprecedented events like COVID-19. It also makes it incredibly difficult to plan long-term, especially for high-cost, complicated services such as social care.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: David Juritz stands for Green party in local elections

See also: Sue Gray report enough to prove Boris should resign, says Ruth Cadbury

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.