Hammersmith and Fulham to freeze their portion of Council Tax

The London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Council has announced plans to freeze their portion of Council Tax in response to the cost of living crisis. The Labour-led authority says it will keep Council Tax rates the same, after an increase of more than £70 last year.

The portion of the Council Tax which is set by the Mayor of London is set to rise by an average of £31.93 to cover the huge hole in funding for Transport for London caused by the pandemic.

In addition to freezing their part, LB Hammersmith & Fulham announced plans to invest £7.4 million in services, including more than £5 million on adult social care and public health. This will be supported by cutting £4.85 million from services such as environment and children’s services.

The Council Tax rate in the borough is currently £1,195.62 for band D properties, the band which most properties in the borough fall into.

This is the third lowest rate of council tax of any authority in the country, after Wandsworth and Westminster.

Neighbouring boroughs Hounslow and Ealing have proposed an increase of almost 3% increase in Council Tax recently. Hounslow Council said the rise:

‘will represent the cornerstone of a robust post-pandemic recovery plan to protect vital services, while allowing the council to strengthen its commitment to making Hounslow fairer, greener and stronger’.

Hammersmith & Fulham freeze ‘will ease burden’ on taxpayers

A report by LB Hammersmith & Fulham’s council officers confirmed they are proposing the freeze of Council Tax rates in light of the rising cost of living. The report said:

‘a tax freeze will provide a balanced budget whilst not increasing the burden on local taxpayers.’

There are 92,148 households in Hammersmith and Fulham, and just over half are liable for full Council Tax rates while the rest receive support or discounts from the council.

The Council’s gross budget for 2022/23 is £533.5 million; it needs to fund £160.4 million of this through income streams such as Council Tax and business rates.

Central government is expected to give the council £44.45 million from April, an increase of £6.2 million from last year.

English councils are allowed to charge an extra amount of Council Tax to go towards social care known as the adult social care precept. Hammersmith and Fulham council is not planning to charge a 1% increase in these fees, as it is allowed to do under UK Government outlines.

The Council’s cabinet will discuss the authority’s budget and Council Tax rates on Thursday 24 February.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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

A member of the House of Lords visited Chiswick School recently to speak with students, ahead of a parliamentary debate about reducing the voting age to 16.

In the debate Viscount Stansgate, Stephen Benn, argued in favour of the bill and quoted the views of Chiswick students, saying:

“it is very important that their voices be heard.”

Chiswick School said they were “delighted” to welcome him to speak with their A Level Politics students. On his visit he spoke about his role and the work of the House of Lords. 

He sent students the voting age bill to read, along with a survey to complete to share their views. Two thirds came out in favour of reducing the voting age.

He read out several of the students’ comments including these:

“16 years old have the ability to participate in society and be as independent as adults. At 16 you can work, leave home and enlist in the military etc. If 16 year olds are somehow too immature to vote, then they shouldn’t be allowed to do this things either.”

“It would increase participation and encourage young people to get involved in politics, however, many 16 year olds can be easily misinformed by social media and might not know how to smartly vote.”

 

Video below: of Viscount Stansgate quoting Chiswick School’s students in the House of Lords Debate

Chiswick school ‘immensely proud’ of participating students

Fatima-Zahra, a Year 13 politics student who has just been accepted to read Human, Social and Political Sciences at Cambridge, said:

“It was fantastic to meet Viscount Stansgate because it opened my eyes to a whole new perspective on British politics. The insight he gave me led me to appreciate the value of the House of Lords in a way I hadn’t before and made me even more excited to study Politics at university!”

Somah, a year 12 Politics student said:

“It was nice to have someone with real authority come and ask us for our opinion, especially because it is our future being affected and we don’t get many opportunities like this. It was brilliant to be able to see exactly what we said being passed on.”

Curriculum Area Leader for Humanities Miss Nonnenmacher said:

“I was immensely proud to see our A Level students participate so fully in the parliamentary process. As a school and as a Politics department, we have always encouraged our students to be active citizens and this was a fantastic reward for them.

“Their enthusiasm about the political process and their own role within it has exploded since Viscount Stansgate’s speech and we are looking forward to harnessing that in lessons! We are truly grateful to Stephen Benn for his efforts in bringing Parliament closer to our students and taking their voices into the House of Lords.”

Image above: politics students at Chiswick School

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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Tube journeys still disrupted by Acton Town fire

Tube services are still disrupted today (Wednesday 2 February) after a huge fire broke out at a garage next door to Acton Town Tube station on Tuesday. The tube station was forced to close and around 35 people were evacuated from their homes while firefighters brought the blaze under control.

Flames and smoke could be seen billowing out of a building above the platforms of the west London station. Ten fire engines and 70 firefighters rushed to the blaze next to the station on Bollo Lane. There were a number of gas cylinders inside the garage, which firefighters cooled to an ambient temperature to prevent them exploding.

The London Fire Brigade was called at 5.10pm and fire crews from Acton, Chiswick, Ealing, Park Royal and other neighbouring fire stations attended the scene. The cause of the fire is not known at this stage but investigations are ongoing.

Those who were evacuated from the area as a precaution on Tuesday were allowed back to their homes and businesses on Wednesday morning. As of 8.27am, Ealing Council said all households had returned home and all roads had reopened. There were no reports of any serious injuries.

Images above: Firefighters tackle the blaze, the garage roof destroyed by the fire (credit: @BTPNetworkResp)

No service on District Line between Turnham Green and Ealing Broadway 

At time of writing at 11.00am on Wednesday (2 February), there is no District Line service between Turnham Green and Ealing Broadway. Tube tickets are being accepted on local buses, C2C and Southwestern Railway.

There were severe delays on the rest of the District Line on Tuesday due to an unrelated incident, signal failure at Putney Bridge. This has been resolved and there are now only minor delays on the rest of the line.

According to London Underground’s tube app, the Piccadilly Line, which also runs through Acton Town station, is open as normal. Bollo Lane remains closed at the junction with Gunnersbury Lane.

Image above: the fire as seen from Acton Town platforms (credit: @city_aviator), the fire as seen from local shops (credit: @shaheenauddin)

Video of the fire posted to social media

A ‘Freelance Crime Videoographer’ posted this video of the scene to Twitter last night at 10.00pm.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

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

Redacted it may be, but “Sue Gray’s “update” has more than enough information to suggest an honourable person should resign, or that those around the PM should force him to do so” says MP for Brentford & Isleworth Ruth Cadbury.

Speaking after the report into parties at No.10 during lockdown was published yesterday, she said:

“It’s clear that he does not have the personal integrity to lead our country through the difficulties we face.

“Throughout the pandemic people locally did the right thing and followed the law. They were unable to be with terminally ill family members, were forced to watch funerals on Zoom, and so many went through great emotional hardship.

“I’ve had a countless number of emails from constituents who are outraged and disgusted at the Prime Minister and his flagrant breach of the rules.

“With the cost of living rising and an international crisis in Ukraine we are stuck with a Prime Minister who is unfit for office, and is solely focused on saving his own job. He needs to do the right thing for once and resign.’’

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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Man in the Middle 82: The cost of fixing kitty

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

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

No 82: The cost of fixing kitty

Our cat has been bitten by a fox. The wounds on his leg are weeping yellow pus and the skin around the teeth marks are receding like a sneer. I’m at the vet with my daughter waiting to be told what the cost of fixing Kitty will be.

‘We found two fractures in his pelvis,’ says the vet with an Irish accent as unruffled as brandy cream.

He points at an x-ray of our unconscious cat manspreading his thin, ghostly back legs.

‘You can see them. Here. And there.’

His fingers circle the fractures on the x-ray.

‘And what is that there?’ says my daughter pointing elsewhere.

‘Oh. That. Yeah. That’s a dislocating kneecap.’

The vet recites the long list of injuries to the cat as undramatically as the clerk of a court reads out the charge sheet against a multiple murderer.

I feel a wave of nausea sweep over me. My knees tremble. The cat is uninsured. What will be the final cost of fixing Kitty? I knew there’d be a price to pay. Nothing comes free these days except the wallpaper at No 10.

I was expecting to fork out for a shot of antibiotics, the x-ray and a band-aid or two. I thought I’d be in for £150? Maybe, £250? But a dislocating kneecap and a double fracture of the pelvis sounds like enough injuries to fill an entire series of ‘Casualty’ and equally expensive to fix.

I don’t admire myself for thinking this way. But every time the vet moves to open his mouth, I hear a till register ringing in reception and my bank account squealing like a pinched pig. Behind the look of concern which I’ve nailed onto my face for the sake of my daughter, there’s a sour faced accountant in the banking department in the basement of my brain throwing his calculator out of the window and shouting: “I told you to get insurance, years ago, you dim-witted, dunderhead.”

‘A dislocating kneecap you say?’ I ask.

‘Two of them,’ replies the vet.

Two dislocating kneecaps. I hear another ring on the till, another abacus bead sliding in the wrong direction. My blood freezes a little. I know the government has introduced legislation to recognise animals as sentient beings. But at what point does my responsibility to finance a new pair of bionic kneecaps for the kitty end and my need to save up for this summer’s tour of Italy’s vineyards begin?

‘I’m not worried about his kneecaps, though. They’re only a one on a scale of one to four,’ says the vet. ‘So don’t need any intervention.’

‘Praise be,’ I mutter. My relief doesn’t pass by my daughter unnoticed.

‘I’ll pay for him, if that’s what’s worrying you.’

The vet looks at me. Parent shaming. He’s seen it before, I suspect.

‘Maybe you could make a contribution which we could offset from any future inheritance?’

Suddenly, the vet peers at the x-ray as if he’s seen an alien.

‘I hadn’t noticed that before. Can you see that?’ he asks.

‘Is it a speck of dirt or dust?’ I say as my wallet sags like a winded boxer.

‘If you look just here you can see he’s got a fractured sternum, too.’

‘Poor cat,’ says my daughter.

‘Sours on the paws. Nobbled knees. Pelvic fractures and a shoddy sternum. That’s like a Full House in Poker, right?’ I say.

‘Dad!’ says my daughter. ‘This is serious.’

‘You’re telling me,’ I say. ‘I’m going to have to put back my retirement by a decade.’

The vet straightens up and turns from the x-ray. He’s well over six feet and looks down on me with kind patient eyes. Like any half decent animal psychologist, he knows that at this moment I need a sedative more than the cat.

‘The good news is that we don’t need to operate. On anything,’ he announces.

‘Brilliant’ says my daughter.

‘Two grand off if we did,’ he says, looking me in the eye.

‘Booosh. Barolo here I come,’ I say, while my inner accountant lifts his shirt over his face and runs around like he’s scored the winning goal at the World Cup.

‘So, the pelvis heals itself?’ asks my daughter.

‘It should do. In a month or so. But you’ll need to keep him in a cage or restricted space, so he can’t jump on tables. And don’t let him go outside. He’s been hit by a car.’

‘The fox looked at him limping and thought: ‘That’s a very slow moving double cheese burger, I’m going to have a go at that,’ I say.

‘I don’t get your drift,’ says the vet.

‘Ignore him,’ says my daughter as she eyes the floor of the surgery. ‘He’s just excited the cat’s alright.’

‘You’ll be wanting some anti-biotics before you go,’ says the vet.

‘No, thanks’ I say. ‘Just a glass of wine if you’ve got one.’

Read more blogs by James Thellusson

Read the next in the series – Man in the Middle – The lady of the lake

Read the previous one – Man in the Middle – Fathers and Sons

See all James’s Man in the Middle blogs here

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

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Hounslow announces almost 3% increase in Council Tax

LB Hounslow has announced a 2.99% increase in Council Tax for 2022-23.

The Council’s new budget proposals ‘will represent the cornerstone of a robust post-pandemic recovery plan to protect vital services, while allowing the council to strengthen its commitment to making Hounslow fairer, greener and stronger’ they say.

On a band F property for which the tax iss £2,458.78 in the current financial year, that would represent an increase of £73.74. Put together with the increase in the mayor’s part of the tax, that makes a total increase of £105.67 in Council Tax this year.

Here’s what the Council says about the increase:

‘The Council’s budget sets out the funding required to ensure essential resident services, including housing, recycling, business support and apprenticeship programmes are maintained whilst providing critical additional investment in Adult and Children Social Care.

‘Over the past four years, the council has delivered 1,300 new council homes, secured 4,000 training and apprenticeship opportunities and planted 4,500 trees across the borough. Targets that were delivered against the backdrop of the pandemic, which saw devasting economic effects for the borough. This budget aims to build on the existing success of these programmes and continue to tackle the ongoing effects of the pandemic.

‘To make this possible, the budget proposes to raise council tax by 2.99% in the new financial year – to help cover the cost of rising inflation and significant additional demand in some services such as children’s social care and provision for those with special educational needs.  This is in keeping with expected rises across the country due to pressures on local authority finances and services. The 2.99% proposed rise includes a 1% adult social care precept to help meet the rising demand for those services.’

Hounslow’s budget will be considered at the next Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 8 February, with recommendations going forward to be discussed at a meeting of the full council on Tuesday 1 March.

“A fairer, greener and stronger borough”

The leader of Hounslow Council, Councillor Steve Curran, said:

“As widely reported, Hounslow’s economy was one of the worst affected in London during the pandemic.

“We’ve been proud to keep essential support and services running, whilst managing the pandemic response and helping in a range of other ways – for example, supporting 1,000 local business through the crisis and more than £1 million has been invested in the local economy through the council’s ShopLocal initiative.

“I want to ensure Hounslow emerges from the pandemic as a fairer, greener and stronger borough. We must build on our existing support packages, maintaining essential resident services, especially for those most in need, whilst ensuring we are ready to meet future challenges.”

Hounslow was awarded ‘Council of the Year in the Local Government Chronicle awards last November. Judges named Hounslow the best Council in the country for consistently delivering high quality services and making significant improvements to the lives of its residents.

Sadiq Khan puts up Council Tax to cover huge hole in TfL finances

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan announced in December that he was reluctantly planning to raise Council Tax in April, increasing bills by an average of £31.93 a year to cover the huge hole in funding for Transport for London caused by the pandemic.

He has been locked in battle with the government, saying London needs around £1.7 billion to fund TfL until April 2023 and the funding must come from central government. The Department of Transport says it is up to get the capital’s public transport “back onto a sustainable financial footing.”

Khan said:  “The pandemic is continuing to have a serious impact on London’s finances and the Government is still refusing to properly fund our public services, particularly the Met police, Transport for London and the London Fire Brigade.

“Raising council tax by £2.66 per month is not something I want to do, but the Government is leaving us with no choice if we are to help prevent the collapse of TfL and ensure our police officers and firefighters have the resources they need.”

His draft budget for 2022/23 is due to be signed off by the end of this month.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: LB Hounslow wins Council of the Year

See also: Hounslow expecting a leap in unemployment as furlough ends

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

Whether you were or whether you weren’t observing dry January, the good news is it’s now February and the Griffin Brewery tours are operating at full capacity.

If you haven’t taken a tour of the brewery, it’s a really interesting thing to do, as tour guides take you through several hundred years of brewing history at the site and explain how it’s done, with the added bonus if you’re a beer drinker, that you have the choice to sample brewery-fresh Fuller’s beer at the end of the tour.

Fuller’s Griffin Brewery offers our Club Card members a 15% discount off the £25 cost of a tour and 15% off anything on sale in the shop (at any time) except spirits.

We also have a London Pride Tour Experience gift set to give away this week:

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

As always, the first person to email us at info@thechiswickcalendar.co.uk with the correct answer to this question wins the prize:

The question is:

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

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Griffin Brewery – Bartley Chipchase takes the tour

See also: Top ten things to do in Chiswick

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

 

Music line-up announced for Pub in the Park

Tickets go on sale later this week for this year’s Pub in the Park at Chiswick House, 2-4 September.  The organisers have published the music line-up, which will include a DJ set on Saturday night from one of the most famous electronic bands on the planet – Faithless – and top British Soul artist Beverley Knight on the Sunday afternoon.

Over the whole weekend you can party to Craig David TS5, The Sugar Hill Gang, Beverley Knight, Faithless DJ, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and The Christians. And of course the food is provided by some of the country’s best known chefs from The Mariners, Hoppers, The Begging Bowl, Kerridge’s Bar & Grill, Atul Kochhar Restaurants, The Star Inn and Cue Point, with Tom Kerridge hosting.

Friday evening

Headlining is Craig David with his TS5 show – a combination of his best hits and some of the top Ibiza anthems from R&B and swing beat, to garage and dancehall.

The Sugarhill Gang ft. Grandmaster Melle Mel, The Furious 5 + Scorpio will be providing authentic hip-hop. (Remember Rapper’s Delight?)

I said-a hip, hop, the hippie, the hippie
To the hip hip hop-a you don’t stop the rock
It to the bang-bang boogie, say up jump the boogie
To the rhythm of the boogie, the beat…

Saturday afternoon

Headlining are British rock band the Lightning Seeds, playing some of their best known songs – Lucky You and Sugar Coated Iceberg.

And hot on the success of Get Up, Stand Up in the West End are the Bob Marley Revival.

Saturday evening

Headline DJ set from Faithless (Insomnia) and Chiswick’s own disco queen, Sophie Ellis-Bextor (Murder on the dancefloor).

Lazy Sunday

The line-up for the Lazy Sunday includes Beverley Knight (Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda) headlining. Opening the show is everyone’s favourite Fun Lovin’ Criminal, Huey Morgan with his DJ set, with a mix of funk and soul, disco and hip-hop. And iconic rock band The Christians will be performing Forgotten Town and Ideal World, amongst others.

Tickets go on sale at the end of the week – Friday 4 February, or Thursday 3 if you’re signed up for the Pub in the Park newsletter for presales.

Get tickets here: Pub in the Park

This page is paid for by Pub in the Park

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Pub in the Park announces line-up of chefs for September 

See also: Top Ten things to do in Chiswick 

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

David Juritz stands for Green party in local elections

Image above: David Juritz playing at the Chiswick Flower Market in May 2021

David Juritz is standing in the local elections in May as a candidate for the Green party. David is a professional musician whose career as a soloist has taken him all over the world. He is considered one of the most versatile violinists currently working in the UK, dividing his time between solo performances, chamber music and directing.

A long time resident of Bedford Park, he raises money for charity and has played at the Chiswick Flower Market, to support its endeavours to bring people to shop in the High Rd, but he is standing as a candidate in Isleworth rather than Chiswick “because they asked me” he said. Isleworth has the most active group of Green Party members in the borough.

“I’ve been a member of the Green Party for about as long as I have lived in Chiswick – since about 1985 06 ’86” he told The Chiswick Calendar.

“We all know we’ve only got one planet and we have to look after it. I was worried then about the environmental degradations, the extinctions and as we’ve learned more about climate change my concern has grown.

“Joining the Green party is one way of expressing those very deep concerns.”

“We need to send a signal that environmental concerns trump everything else”

The obvious question always put to Green candidates at every election is whether or not it’s a wasted vote, given our electoral system.

“I think about that every single election” he told me. “Generally I’d say voting Green is never a wasted vote because we need to send a signal that environmental concerns trump everything else and there is political gain to be had by acting on environmental issues.

“It can be very frustrating. We might lose battles but our children need us to win this war.”

“Uncomfortable” change is necessary

On the Cycle lane he said he realised that it had been deeply divisive and had very good friends on both sides of the argument but it was important to change the culture.

“Holland in the ’40s / ’50s / ’60s and ’70s was very much a car culture but they wouldn’t go back now.”

“It means less confident people will cycle and that’s good – it’s a very efficient and clean way of travelling.”

David rides a bike himself and finds it’s the most efficient way to get around London: “You know exactly when you’ll arrive.”

And the idea that there is more congestion because the High Rd is narrower and traffic has to stop every time a bus stops to pick up passengers? And that makes for more air pollution rather than less?

“It doesn’t. What adds to air pollution is the number of cars. We all have to think carefully about the need to use our cars. If there are fewer cars on the roads then people who really need to use cars will still be able to.”

How does he feel about Low Traffic Neighbourhoods?

“I live on a very busy road which is used as a cut-through. I’d be delighted if it were made a Low Traffic Neighbourhood.

“I recognise these changes are uncomfortable but I think we have to make some uncomfortable changes. All change in uncomfortable. We have to think ‘what are we going to do so our children don’t have to make some really drastic decisions in future’.

“I have two children who are young adults, and I feel a huge responsibility.”

Image above: David Juritz playing at the Chiswick Flower Market in May 2021

“My carbon footprint is not one to be proud of”

As a professional musician who travels the world to perform, he is very conscious of his own carbon footprint and feels guilty about it. Born in South Africa, he has just been back there to perform and also to see his mother, who he had not seen for two years.

“My carbon footprint is not one to be proud of and I am trying to cut down on flights. I also own a car and sometimes I need to use it if I am playing out of town and have an early morning session the next day, but I don’t use it much.

“I think there should be a progressive tax on flights”.

His next concert is very local. He plays with the London Tango Quintet, who have a concert at St Peter’s Church, Acton Green on Saturday 12 February.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Giffords Circus tickets go on sale

See also: Chiswick musicians Vanessa Rose and Sandy Burnett playing Jazz at George IV

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.

 

Giffords Circus tickets go on sale

Tickets for this year’s Gifford’s Circus are now on sale. The traditional circus sets up its big top in the grounds of Chiswick House every year. The new show for 2022 is Carpa!

The word Carpa originates from the Spanish word ‘tent’ and refers to a removable canvas roofed structure used for a travelling theatre, much like a circus. ¡Carpa! was a type of theatre that flourished in the 1920s and 1930s in Mexico and the southwestern states in America.

“Our 2022 show will evoke the sights and sounds of rural Mexico. I have directed in that splendid country several times it is a place that I greatly admire. Mexico’s incredible art, music, history, and people will be our inspiration. We are bringing Mexican performers over to join the troupe and with them we will create a show full of skill, humour, turmoil and excitement.” – Cal McCrystal, Director.

The circus will be at Chiswick House from 16 – 27 June. It is tremendously popular, with celebrities flocking to the opening night in London. Giffords Circus is “the most fun you can have in a tent” says Hugh Grant. “Giffords has an intimacy, charm, innocence that transcends nostalgia” – Max Hastings.

Book tickets on their website.

giffordscircus.com

Image above: Giffords Circus at Chiswick House

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

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

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.

Chiswick Book Festival donates £6,000 to charities

Image above: Author Gyles Brandreth at the 2021 Chiswick Book Festival; photograph Roger Green

The Chiswick Book Festival has donated £6,000 to charities, following last September’s Festival featuring Gyles Brandreth, Ed Balls and Clare Balding. It was one of the first Chiswick events to be held in front of live audiences following the lockdown, though numbers were limited for safety reasons.

The Festival is a non-profit community event which gives all its surplus income, after costs, to reading and community charities. £1,500 is going to each of its 2021 charities:

– Doorstep Library, which recruits volunteers to bring the joy of reading to children in their homes

– InterAct Stroke Support, which provides actors to read books to stroke patients

– The Felix Project, which collects surplus food and delivers it to charities and schools

– and to St Michael & All Angels Church, which hosts, runs and administers the Festival and is itself a charity.

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

READ ALSO: Interview with Susan Spindler, author of Surrogate

Images above: Authors Ed Balls and Jane Thynne, Director of the Chiswick Book Festival Torin Douglas at the 2021 festival

Nominations sought for new charities to support

Since it started in 2009, the Festival has raised more than £109,000 for charities – and it has now invited the public to nominate new charities for consideration.

Torin Douglas, director of the Chiswick Book Festival, said:

“We were delighted to be back in front of live audiences again and pleased to be able to make these donations, even though we limited the capacity of our venues. We’re very grateful to our authors, audiences and sponsors, who made it possible.

“We are now reviewing our charities, as we do every few years, and inviting people to suggest reading-related charities we can consider for support, alongside our existing charities. Nominations should be emailed to admin@chiswickbookfestival.net by February 28th 2022 – and you can read more on our Charities Review page.”

Chiswick Book Festival Charities Review page

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See also: Customers of Chiswick’s Leyland DIY store raise £2,263 for Macmillan

See also: Devonshire Day Nursery employees receive bonuses of up to £1500

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

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.

Micky Stewart’s service to English cricket began in the 1950s as a county cricketer for Surrey – a stylish opening or top-order batsman and one of the finest close catchers in the world. He played eight Test matches. He captained the county from 1963 to 1972, winning the County Championship in 1971. He was Surrey’s cricket manager from 1979 to 1986, and then England’s from 1986 to 1992. For another five years he was England’s Director of Coaching and Excellence. He shares highlights of his career and reflections on English cricket past and present as the latest guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their cricket-themed podcast. In Peter’s unavoidable absence, Roger Alton replaces him as co-host.


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Micky gives his view of the factors contributing to England’s recent Ashes disaster. It was always hard for English batsmen to adjust to the bounce and lateral movement of Australian wickets which were quite unlike English ones. He has some sympathy for the present England players, whose task was made more demanding by a cluttered domestic and international programme and pandemic restrictions. He notes especially the failure of so many English batsmen to judge when to leave the ball alone.

Over the longer term he traces the impact of continually whittling down the deliveries in each new short form of English cricket – from 390 (65 overs) each innings in the first Gillette Cup year in 1963 to the Hundred today. He recalls a gloomy prophecy by Tom Graveney at the end of his first John Player League match of 40 overs that this process would lead to the inevitable decline of batting technique. He describes the early impact of limited-over cricket on his great contemporary, John Edrich. Although Australians have also come to play more and more short-form cricket, he believes that their top players are better prepared for long forms by their passage through Grade cricket and its system of matches played over successive Saturdays.

Micky helped Stephen Chalke to produce a fine book on himself, subtitled “the changing face of cricket”. He picks out some stories and themes from his early days which illustrate this and recapture a vanished world of cricket.

He contrasts the all-day cricket children used to play amongst themselves outdoors with the highly organized cricket activity for thousands of children today. For a talented child today the cost of equipment, clothing (to be outgrown), coaching and other fees, transport can reach £2000 a year – a major burden for families. He recalls the 1965 price of a lesson at Alf Gover’s famous indoor school in South London – 75p. A lesson of comparable standard today could be £50 or more.

He wonders whether the tempo of long-form cricket which dominated the game for so long (and made him want to play it) is compatible with the temperament of modern generations of players and spectators, who expect rapid satisfaction from leisure and have many alternative ways to pursue it.

He describes his dramatic induction into National Service and assesses the impact on English sport and national life.

He describes the double sporting life he led as a professional cricketer and amateur football international who later played professionally. He mentions other 1950s cricketers who were able to combine both sports in a way which is now impossible given the demands of both and the overlap of seasons. He tells the entertaining story of negotiating his first wage packet as a professional for Surrey – £8 a week (around £160 in today’s money). He makes a telling comparison between the best year’s earnings of a capped professional colleague of his time and modern professionals at Surrey.

The amateur/professional divide was still in force in English cricket at the time, although increasingly reliant on “shamateurs” – people given undemanding or even nominal jobs to maintain the pretence that they were not being paid to play cricket. It was even more prevalent in amateur football. He describes one contemporary amateur cricketer who was paid for three years as “Assistant Secretary” of his county without ever finding where his office was. Micky had a chance to follow that route, but thought it lacked integrity. This was the value most inculcated by his father – and the basis of the latter’s success in the betting industry of the time, especially as  its youngest“tic-tac” man (settling and communicating odds). Micky’s status as a professional cricketer cruelly deprived him of the chance to represent England as a still-amateur footballer at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

Micky analyses the deep loyalty inspired by Surrey and the Oval. He attributes it principally to Surrey’s strong focus on the interests of its members. This led the club into deep financial difficulty in the 1960s: he describes the efforts of the people, led by the late Bernie Coleman, who rescued it without sacrificing the membership ethos. These included the first advertising board, which horrified Gubby Allen. He hails the county’s present administrators as outstanding.

On the playing side, Micky describes the experience of learning to play on a wide variety of uncovered pitches. He never encountered a wicket with a true fast bounce where batters could hit the ball “on the up” in his first three years of professional cricket, until a private tour of the West Indies under Jim Swanton. He sets out his one-ball-at-a-time philosophy which allowed him to face seriously fast bowlers like Frank Tyson and Fred Trueman, without helmets and flimsy pads and gloves on those uncovered pitches. Without even the protection of a box, Micky fielded regularly at short leg, where he took six of his still-record seven catches in a single innings in 1957. Batsmen did not sweep so much in the 1950s, he recalls. Micky shocked colleagues by diving in the field. One asked him if he knew what it cost to dry-clean his flannels: he learnt to avoid the bill with a damp cloth and talcum powder.

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

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Peter Oborne, Richard Heller & Roger Alton

Roger Alton, guest host for this episode, was formerly editor of The Observer and The Independent, and is currently the Sports Columnist for The Spectator. 

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.

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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.