Teenage girl missing from west London home

Clementine, a teenage girl from Twickenham born in 2007, is missing from her home in Twickenham. She was last seen in Acton at 3pm on Thursday 21 April. She left home without her mobile or money.

Richmond police are asking the public continue to assist by calling them with sightings and any help you can offer. If you have any information, or if you see her, please call police on 101 with reference to 22MIS013222.

Facebook groups and friends of the family, including Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Georgia Tennant, have put out messages on social media asking people in west London to be on the look-out for her.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Calls for Joanna Biddolph to apologise for “inaccurate and insulting” comments

See also: Hounslow Green Party launch manifesto

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 – Ennio

Ennio ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

A documentary on the legendary film composer Ennio Morricone. Out in selected cinemas and available to buy on most of the major streaming platforms.

34 years after Cinema Paradiso swept us away with all those “stolen kisses” in one of the most beautiful and iconic endings in cinema history, director Giuseppe Tornatore has found his voice again, and even if this time it’s through a documentary, his ability to melt our hearts, make us laugh, to inspire us and move us to tears seems unchanged.

Ennio, the film, covers the life and works of music composer Ennio Morricone.

I don’t think I need to state here what a huge film buff I am (though some people may call me “film-nerd”, or “film geek”), but even I was oblivious to most of the stories told in this splendid documentary.

I’ve always considered Morricone one of the greatest film composers, certainly up there with John Williams (my ultimate favourite), Bernard Herrmann, John Barry, Max Steiner and Hans Zimmer, but it was only by listening to extracts from some of his pieces, one after the other throughout the two hours and 47 minutes of this documentary, that I realised not just the incredible body of work (around 500 scores and apparently 20 of them in 1968 alone!), but also how revolutionary they were, as well of course beautiful.

Tornatore has made a real letter of love to the man and to cinema itself, not unlike his Oscar winning Cinema Paradiso. Through dozens of interviews, little hidden gems from the archive and hundreds of snippets from classic films, all spectacularly weaved together by editor Massimo Quaglia (who’s at times a bit too enthusiastic, but he really delivers when it comes to editing to music), Tornatore is able get us as close to Morricone as I had never hoped I’d be.

And what a treat this is! The film also makes you want to go back and re-discover many of those less-seen films (not to mention the ones we watched over and over).

Morricone speaks like a man from another era, with his oldfashioned ‘polished’ and refined Italian. We learn so many little stories from the horse’s mouth (his interview, which runs throughout the documentary was filmed just before he died in June 2020), as well as from all the key players in his life.

I don’t think they missed a single one, from Clint Eastwood, to Tarantino, Dario Argento, Barry Levinson, Terrence Malick, Bernardo Bertolucci, Quincy Jones, Olive Stone and even (quite randomly) Bruce Springsteen and many others. And for those who have passed away (like in the case of Sergio Leone or Gillo Pontecorvo), they found old interviews and some great archival footage.

And so we learn about Ennio’s early life and how he wrote music for some of the most iconic Italian songs in ‘60s. I really had no idea! In fact I think it’s a film that certainly speaks even louder to Italians I guess and will touch a special chords to those who remember those early compositions which are so iconic today).

So many wonderful little bits of trivia, like how writing music for films was considered to be almost “vulgar” among composers and how that pushed Ennio to use a pseudonym for some of his first few films, because he was “ashamed” in front of his peers. Well, who’s ashamed now?

As well as all the many entertaining stories (too many to tell here), we get the chance to listen to some of his great scores and learn how they came about and what the reaction was at the time.

This might also be one of the few chances you’ll get to hear some of these wonderful pieces, as some of these films have never actually been released outside Italy.

The film came out less that 24 hours ago in the UK, but I’ve already seen it twice.

Cinema lovers, music lovers, art lovers and everybody else with good taste for anything Italian and more, this documentary is a sublime and inspiring piece of work, which I will never forget.

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

Ennio is out in selected cinemas and available to buy on most of the major streaming platforms.

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

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 – Firebird

Firebird ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Firebird follows a handsome, soulful young soldier who embarks on a clandestine sexual affair with a charismatic fighter pilot on a Soviet Air Force Base at the height of 1970’s Communist rule. Out on Friday in selected cinemas.

Firebird had its world premiere at the BFI Flare Film Festival last year, but its release now could not be more timely. Based on a true story about closeted-love in the repressive Soviet military, it may be set in the 1970s, but sadly it’s just as relevant in today’s landscape.

Back then homosexuality in the military was outlawed and punishable with five  years of prison or labour camp, all which gives this story a certain tension throughout.

However, beyond those stakes and the Estonian setting, everything else about this forbidden love story feels very much like going through a well-trodden path. It was only a couple of years ago that Moffie, a much superior film in my view, raised very similar themes.

The rather melodramatic script of Firebird is riddled with clichés, predictable scenes, two-dimensional, and at times even a bit cartoony, secondary stock-characters (the KGB “bad guy” for example was almost a parody of himself) and clunky dialogue in which people constantly seem to speak their thoughts aloud, in a rather distracting fake Russian accent.

British actor Tom Prior (from Kingsman: The Secret Service) has definitely got the right face for the main role of young Sergey. He’s a very likeable and believable presence, despite being surrounded by people not as good as he is and forced to wear a terrible wig in the second half of the movie, which not only looks fake from miles away, but also makes him look younger instead of older.

Interestingly Prior is also the co-writer, co-producer and the music supervisor for the film: clearly this must have been a project close to him and I honestly wish I could have liked it more than I did.

Despite its clunkiness and predictability, its heart is in the right place. It’s nicely filmed, always watchable, never boring and it has a moving ending, which makes you want to forget about all its shortcomings (and annoyingly, it made me tear up a bit, old softie that I am…).

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

Firebird is out on Friday in selected cinemas.

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

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 

Calls for Joanna Biddolph to apologise for “inaccurate and insulting” comments

Image above: Cllr Joanna Biddolph, Cllr Hanif Khan

Labour have called on Turnham Green ward councillor Joanna Biddolph to apologise for her “factually inaccurate” and “insulting” comments about residents living in the west of Hounslow borough.

The row erupted over comments in Cllr Biddolph’s column on ChiswickW4 website. Cllr Biddolph claimed residents in the west of Hounslow “don’t routinely report everyday issues” such as fly tipping, graffiti and out of control waste and lived in “very different circumstances” compared to people in Chiswick.

Cllr Biddolph wrote:

“I never forget that here in Chiswick, where residents are very engaged in their area, the arguments are significantly different from those in the west of the borough where, along many roads, residents don’t routinely report everyday issues (fly tipping, graffiti, dumped or out of control waste) and therefore live in very different circumstances. As I repeatedly say, I want better for everyone; I do not want the same for all if it means lower standards for some.”

Her comments have angered community organisers in Hounslow and Labour councillors, including her Chiswick Gunnersbury rival candidate Hanif Khan. Cllr Khan, who represented Hanworth Park ward before standing in Chiswick Gunnersbury, has called on Cllr Biddolph to apologise, while one community organiser accused her of dogwhistle racism, as the west of the borough has a significantly higher Asian population.

Images above: Richard Clarke, Bridge House Pond in Feltham

“There’s a big group of people who care”

Like Chiswick, the rest of Hounslow is home to various environmentally conscious ‘Friends of’ community groups, dedicated to the upkeep and maintenance of their local environment. These groups are largely independent charities or volunteer groups set up by local people hoping to keep their parks and communities clean and tidy.

Some, such as the Friends of the River Crane Environment, hold community engagement projects which include programmes of education with local schools, community learning of traditional conservation skills, walks and talks. Others, such as Friends of Bridge House Pond exist to ‘improve and celebrate the heritage of the area’ and they organise regular clear ups, planting days and other activities.

Responding to Cllr Biddolph’s comments, organiser for Friends of Bridge House Pond, (a large pond in a park in Feltham, fenced off with benches overlooking it) Richard Clarke, told The Chiswick Calendar:

“There’s a big group of people who care, I’ve been organising litter picks and working around the Hanworth Park area for the last two years and the numbers involved in litter picks have continued to increase. Whether it’s people reporting it or picking it out themselves, people see it as a simple thing they can do to make a difference.”

He added:

“The first time I organised a litter pick in Feltham in 2014, we had our councillors, we had our local MP here. I’ve organised a number of stuff and we’ve had Labour councillors come and join.  We’ve only got one conservative councillor at this end of the borough and I haven’t seen her at any.”

Image above: CB Hounslow FC

“She’s just trying to cause segregation” CB Hounslow FC coach

Vijay Tiger, known locally as Tiger VJ, is a football coach and community organiser at CB Hounslow FC, where he manages the under 15s. Teams at CB Hounslow often take part in community organising, including working in food banks to feed the homeless or less fortunate. 

Tiger VJ said he was “shocked” at Cllr Biddolph’s “hurtful” assumptions. He said her comments segregated Hounslow between affluent white people and poorer people of colour. He told The Chiswick Calendar:

“She’s trying to create a divide – which we already have in the community. We fight day in day out to fight to keep the community together and when you get comments like this from a posh white woman, she’s just trying to cause segregation between everybody. Why is Chiswick more affluent than this side of the borough?…

“It’s one of them ones, you can’t say it out loud but everyone’s thinking it… Basically it’s because there’s more white people in that area than there are down here. I’m a disabled man, I’m in a wheelchair, I look at [councillors] with respect because I genuinely think what they do is pretty good. But what I’ve seen from this lady, all I can think is why would you do that? Why segregate? People from this area are gonna think they’re no good and the people in Chiswick will think they’re too good.”

“Her comments have just not helped anybody, it’s absolutely shocking that somebody that high up would just even dare to say something like that.”

Image above: map taken from FixMyStreet showing all recently reported local issues, including fly tipping & graffiti, across Hounslow (Wednesday 20 April)

Labour say Cllr Biddolph is “woefully out of touch”

Labour said there were 11 open cases of fly tipping, offensive graffiti and non-offensive graffiti in the three Chiswick wards compared with 64 open cases in the Hounslow wards west of Chiswick on Tuesday (19 April). They said this showed there was no difference between the average number of cases reported in Chiswick and the rest of the borough.

After citing data from FixMyStreet, a website which allows residents to report, view, or discuss local problems such as fly tipping, Cllr Hanif Khan responded to Cllr Biddolph’s comments:

“After spending eight years as a councillor in the west of the Borough, growing up in Hounslow, and spending more than two years working with residents in Chiswick and other ward councillors, I am astonished to read such ill-informed comments from Councillor Biddolph.

“East or west, north or south, wherever people live in the Borough, they deserve and expect streets free of refuse. When we receive reports of fly tipping or graffiti, we take action, and those reports come in from across the Borough. To imply that residents in the west of the Borough are willing to put up with filthy streets is factually inaccurate and insulting, and Councillor Biddolph should apologise.”

Feltham West Councillor Alan Mitchell added:

“Her casual comments would be greeted with anger and dismay by residents and community groups who are proud of Feltham and do so much to enrich it. Residents in Feltham and all across Hounslow are deeply engaged in their local communities. As Labour councillors, we hear from our constituents in the west area every day.

“They care about their streets and pavements every bit as much as residents in Chiswick. They are passionate about their local areas and want to work with us for a cleaner and greener borough. And yet sadly we see comments such as those from Cllr Biddolph which are woefully out of touch.”

Cllr Biddolph in turn has replied:

“If the Hounslow Labour Party genuinely believes that the issues affecting Chiswick are the same as the issues affecting residents in the west of Hounslow, then that is further proof that their councillors simply do not understand our borough.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Cllr Joanna Biddolph apologises for abusing her position and leaking confidential security information

See also: LB Hounslow gives homeless camp on Turnham Green five days to disperse

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 – Russian Doll

Russian Doll ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

A cynical young woman in New York City keeps dying and returning to the party that’s being thrown in her honor on that same evening. She tries to find a way out of this strange time loop. Available to watch on Netflix.

The first season of Russian Doll came out of nowhere back in 2019 (Only three years ago, but as anything before Covid, it feels like a long time ago). As it happened, it turned out to be one of the best series released on Netflix.

What started off as a Groundhog-Day-stuck-in-a-time-loop story, soon evolved into something which really transcended the whole premise, moving from comedy to a deep emotional journey through mental illness, trauma, life and death.

At the centre of all that, Natasha Lyonne as Nadia is a true force of nature. Her powerful multi-layered performance, just like a Russian doll, hilarious and sad, strong and broken is brilliant to say the least.

It was a tightly-scripted perfect season, an intriguing puzzle, full of unexpected twists and turns. Nominated for 13 Emmy awards and directed entirely by women, the series constantly played with the audience’s expectations and just when we thought we had a grip on it, it introduced us to a brand new main character after a few episodes, pulling the rug under our feet and hooking us to the screen like only the best TV can do.

When Season 2 was announced many wondered how could they possibly top that?

Wisely they decided to follow a completely different direction and yet they still managed to maintain that same vibe, mood and capture that irreverence that made the first season unique.

Just like in season one, the least you know about it, the better, but I’ll just say that it’s still about “playing with time” except that now it’s all about “time travel” and about searching the past in order to fix the future.

This feels a much more complex, deeper, weirder (yes, even weirder) story. It is also possibly a little bit too convoluted in its construction and consequently it feels like bumpier ride and it’s not as fun to watch as the first time around.

It’s a very audacious series which at times suffers from the weight of its own ambition. Some of the metaphors are a bit too much in-your-face and the two main storylines this time don’t gel as fluidly as they used to, but there are plenty of good moments throughout and when the ending comes it’s just as rewarding and its final message is undeniably powerful.

The first season of Russian Doll came out of nowhere back in 2019 (Only three years ago, but as anything before Covid, it feels like a long time ago). As it happened, it turned out to be one of the best series released on Netflix.

What started off as a Groundhog-Day-stuck-in-a-time-loop story, soon evolved into something which really transcended the whole premise, moving from comedy to a deep emotional journey through mental illness, trauma, life and death.

At the centre of all that, Natasha Lyonne as Nadia is a true force of nature. Her powerful multi-layered performance, just like a Russian doll, hilarious and sad, strong and broken is brilliant to say the least.

It was a tightly-scripted perfect season, an intriguing puzzle, full of unexpected twists and turns. Nominated for 13 Emmy awards and directed entirely by women, the series constantly played with the audience’s expectations and just when we thought we had a grip on it, it introduced us to a brand new main character after a few episodes, pulling the rug under our feet and hooking us to the screen like only the best TV can do.

When Season 2 was announced many wondered how could they possibly top that?

Wisely they decided to follow a completely different direction and yet they still managed to maintain that same vibe, mood and capture that irreverence that made the first season unique.

Just like in season one, the least you know about it, the better, but I’ll just say that it’s still about “playing with time” except that now it’s all about “time travel” and about searching the past in order to fix the future.

This feels a much more complex, deeper, weirder (yes, even weirder) story. It is also possibly a little bit too convoluted in its construction and consequently it feels like bumpier ride and it’s not as fun to watch as the first time around.

It’s a very audacious series which at times suffers from the weight of its own ambition. Some of the metaphors are a bit too much in-your-face and the two main storylines this time don’t gel as fluidly as they used to, but there are plenty of good moments throughout and when the ending comes it’s just as rewarding and its final message is undeniably powerful.

Season 1 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Season 2 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2

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

Russian Doll is available to watch on Netflix.

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

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 86: Wisden 2022, the global publishing event of the year, and its editor Lawrence Booth

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 arrival of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack is the global publishing event of the year. It makes butterflies stop flapping their wings in the Amazon. On their latest cricket-themed podcast Peter Oborne and Richard Heller celebrate it with Lawrence Booth, its distinguished editor since 2011.


More Platforms

He reacts to the news of Joe Root’s resignation as England captain: inevitable and the right decision after he had had time to digest a long sequence of defeats which had exposed his lack of tactical acumen. He names Ben Stokes as the only possible successor, reluctantly given the extra stress it would add to his existing responsibilities as the side’s all-rounder. But if his workload could be managed, captaincy might lift his on-field performances, as it had done for Imran Khan and others in the past. Ben Stokes has a fine cricket brain and an aggressive mindset and should get his own way on selections and tactics. He would command respect from his teams. Root’s departure made especially timely Tim de Lisle’s thoughtful Wisden piece on the problems of establishing metrics for captaincy.

In spite of the enduring influence of the pandemic on cricket schedules, the 2022 edition is considerably thicker than last year’s, with many more matches and competitions to cover. A record number of pages are given to women’s cricket, but ten times more are given to men’s. Lawrence explains that Wisden is trying to repair its long neglect of women’s cricket, but it has to balance this against the need to report accurately the cricket played worldwide during the year. The new edition contained 44 men’s Test matches against two women’s. The coverage was constantly reviewed, and he agreed that disability cricket might get more next year – and possibly a new award of its own. He describes the year-long process of planning its content, especially the feature articles, and the constant pressure to cut back some areas to allow breathing space for others. Sometimes Wisden falls victim to late-breaking news, as in its optimistic account of Ukraine cricket, written before the Russian invasion.

With English cricket in deep crisis, Lawrence reviews his fierce criticisms in his Editor’s Notes of the England and Wales Cricket Board, especially of the bonus for its chief executive, Tom Harrison, which had left a terrible public impression. He did not enjoy writing negative notes, but it was his responsibility to Wisden as “the conscience of cricket”. He did not favour political intervention in cricket administration but he noted that the House of Commons Culture Select Committee had made the ECB more accountable over the crisis of racism in English cricket.

Wisden’s treatment of the crisis leads its features section, with a first-hand piece by its main victim, Azeem Rafiq. Lawrence explains its prime motive, to get English cricket to admit the existence and scale of racism in its midst. Apart from the strong features by Rafiq and David Hopps, that message emerged starkly from the bare narrative of Wisden’s timeline of the crisis. Rafiq had been a spur for other victims to give their testimony: English cricket must respond immediately rather than pick over the failings which he himself admits.

Lawrence explains the selection of the Five Cricketers of the Year. Only one was English, Ollie Robinson, and his entry also had to reflect the racial crisis. Three others were obvious: Jaspit Bumrah and Rohit Sharma for India, Devon Conway for New Zealand. The possible surprise, Dane van Niekerk, acknowledged her performances in the Women’s Hundred and the latter’s strong if unplanned contribution to the advance of women’s cricket.

Wisden pays special tribute to three great cricket journalists who died in 2021, David Foot, Martin Johnson and, especially, a past editor, John Woodcock. Lawrence notes that they flourished in a very different era of cricket writing, summed up in Woodcock’s description of The Times’ demand on him on the boat to Australia: “200 words by Ceylon.” Wisden had a special role in giving cricket writers the space and time to write reports and features without the constant modern demands for copy – and for an independent publication not committed to any broadcasting deal or any vested interests in cricket. He relishes his complete editorial freedom.

Lawrence and Peter and Richard pick over some notable parts of Wisden this year:

  • Andrew Miller’s piece on the rebel tours of South Africa, contrasting the treatment of English and West Indies participants, was prompted by the 40th anniversary of the first one. It drew on survivors’ memories.
  • Charles Barr’s piece on Philip Larkin’s had been unsolicited: it coincided with his centenary and revealed the surprising depth of his absorption in cricket.
  • Tuba Sangar gave vital first-hand testimony of the impact of the Taliban on women’s cricket and women’s lives in Afghanistan.
  • Raf Nicholson’s piece on women’s cricket in the Second World War reflected Wisden’s aim of revaluing its lost history.
  • Tanya Aldred’s now regular piece on cricket and the environment focused this year on the campaigning efforts of cricketers themselves, notably Pat Cummins. Lawrence notes how little action they had prompted from cricketing authorities, let alone governments.
  • Among many strong candidates, Vic Marks had made a fine selection of Book of the Year, by a past podcast guest David Woodhouse. His book on England’s dramatic 1953-54 tour of the West Indies, Who Only Cricket Know, reflected Wisden’s ambitions to put accurate cricket reporting within the wider contexts of the game.

The podcast concludes with a poetic tribute to Wisden as it might have been written by Wordsworth (an early Glamorgan supporter).

You can purchase Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack 2022 here: wisden.com/shop/wisden-cricketers-almanack-2022-hardback

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 85: Suing the ECB? Former board member and Somerset chairman Andy Nash suggests how to resist its destruction of English 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.

Hounslow Green Party launch manifesto

Images above: some of Hounslow’s Green Party candidates

Hounslow Green Party have released their manifesto for the local elections next month.

The Greens say that they will make the London Borough of Hounslow a greener and more pleasant area, “where we can all be proud to live”. They pledge to take local measures to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, cut pollution, clean our rivers, and make it easier to get about. They also pledge to “ensure more local services are provided before any new buildings are finished”.

The manifesto extensively covers climate emergency, local planning, pollution, transport, health, policing, greener and more vibrant neighbourhoods, jobs and businesses, parks and open spaces, local democracy, waste, divestment and procurement.

The Greens conclude:

“The promises made by the council to tackle pollution, congestion, and climate change are meaningless without informed and proportionate action. The council is just not going far enough and quickly enough. We need Green Party councillors elected in Hounslow to ensure change happens. You can help, Vote Green on 5 May 2002.”

To view the full manifesto, you can see it on The Green Party’s website here:

hounslow.greenparty.org.uk/manifesto

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Calls for Joanna Biddolph to apologise for “inaccurate and insulting” comments

See also: Woman caught on camera stealing a cat ornament

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 Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

In this action-packed comedy, Nicolas Cage plays Nick Cage, channeling his iconic characters as he’s caught between a superfan (Pedro Pascal) and a CIA agent (Tiffany Haddish). Out in the cinemas next Friday.

Nicholas Cage stars as himself… or at least a version of himself (for example, he doesn’t have a daughter, like in the film, nor is he divorced from a make-up artist). Nick Cage (the character) is a former A-list star who hasn’t really been in the public demand for a while, mainly because he’s made some pretty unwatchable movies lately, most of which have not even been released in the cinema.

It’s hard to separate the actor from the character and clearly the film plays a lot that notion, poking fun at Cage and to a degree at Hollywood itself.

Cage was apparently against the idea of playing himself and he turned down several offers for this film, but eventually agreed as he understood that satire is the ultimate compliment. In fact this is clearly a celebration of Cage’s work rather than just an excuse to mock him as an actor.

The gamble seems to have paid off. The film premiered about a month ago at the SXSW Festival to glorious reviews, getting an almost perfect score on Rotten tomatoes, something of a rarity for Nicholas Cage these days; more than half his filmography of 100 films, barely register on the “tomatometer ® “.

I was less wowed by it, but I guess my indifference to the actor must have played a part in it.

The idea of an actor playing and mocking himself is nothing new. In Being John Malcovich, the “titular” actor played along with the idea that actors are a bit full of themselves (who can forget the scene into Malcovich’s head?). Here Nicholas Cage pushes those boundaries even further, laying bare the harsh reality that he’s now basically mostly a “living meme” from his old glories and he’s just working to pay the bills.

If it all sounds very “meta”, believe me, it is! Though I’m not sure the film is actually as clever as it thinks it is.

Obviously your enjoyment of the film will depend a lot on how much you know (and ever revere) Nicholas Cage, the actor. Constant references to his old films (good and bad) are spread throughout the film, some of them are so obscure that I didn’t even get them myself.

It actually can get a little bit too pleased with itself and not all the jokes hit the marks as they should. Also, after a while quoting from Face/off, Gone in 60 seconds or Leaving Las Vegas can get a bit tiresome.

But luckily there’s a bit more to the film that simply Nick Cage being himself, which otherwise would make it even more unbufferable for those who don’t care about the actor.

This is a buddy action-comedy after all and even though the action is not particularly exciting or much worth talking about, it’s the bromance between Cage and Pedro Pascal that keeps everything afloat.

In fact ironically it’s Pascal, a revelation with great comedic timing (he’s the man behind the mask in The Mandalorian), who pretty much steals the show in every scene he’s in. He plays a rich super-fan who offers Cage $1 million to attend his 40th birthday and then tries to convince him to play in his own script.

There’s a whole plot involving the CIA, a dangerous criminal and Cage finding himself acting up as a secret informant, just like in one of his movies, but if you focus on the actual story everything will really fall apart. It is all really just an excuse for a whole series of gags about the actor and some more or less funny moments with Pascal.

The film should probably be commended for trying something different, but even though there are funny moments, I do think it stretches the joke a bit too thin and ultimately it never really rises much above the level of the material it’s trying to poke fun at.

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

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is out in the cinemas next Friday.

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

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 

 

 

Icecream seller at Strand on the Green seeks to trade again outside the primary school

Image above: Non Solo Gelato’s tricycle ice cream stand

An ice cream salesman who is seeking to again trade outside of Strand-on-the-Green school is facing fierce opposition from parents and school leadership.

Marcele Detomaso, who sells artisanal gelato from his tricycle, has applied to LB Hounslow to park his ‘No Solo Gelato’ stand outside Strand-on-the-Green Infant and Junior Schools for another year, where he will intermittently sell his product over a period of six months. Councillors will decide whether to grant or reject his application on Tuesday (19 April).

In 2021, a Hounslow Licensing Panel panel granted Mr Detomaso’s six-month temporary licence application to station the gelato bike more than 30 metres away from the gates on Brooks Lane. The application went through despite objections by the head teachers of both schools, who claimed they receive negative feedback every year from parents who have no choice but to walk past Mr Detomaso with their children whenever he is trading.

Mr Detomaso’s application this year is has met further objections, with parents claiming his mere presence puts them under undue pressure to buy ice cream for their children. Some parents argue if they do not cave in to their children’s demands for ice cream, this creates conflict that would otherwise have been avoided.

Dismayed at the successful application in 2021, Strand-on-the-Green’s Infant and Junior schools have upped their efforts to get the application rejected this time around. The school surveyed 255 parents in March this year to make sure they were ‘accurately sharing the views’ of the school’s community. The survey revealed a majority of parents (57.3%) objected to the vendor selling his ice cream.

Mr Detomaso has rejected descriptions of him by some parents as a “cynical” trader targeting young children with his product and disagrees he is fuelling childhood obesity. He says he sells his organic gelato only with the consent of parents and claims his trading is more ethical than the school’s own meals policy, which offers children a choice between a selection of daily desserts including flapjacks, cake, jelly, crumble and cream, chocolate cookies, brownies, shortcakes or ice cream.

Image above: Strand-on-the-Green school, reults from Strand-on-the-Green’s ice cream vendor survey

Opponents cite safety concerns, obesity fears and pressure from their children

Parents opposing the Mr Detomaso’s ice cream stand have largely echoed objections raised by the school’s headteachers in 2021. They cite childhood obesity, long lines forming near a busy road and ice cream causing unnecessary arguments between them and their children as their main issues with Mr Detomaso selling near to the school gates.

One parent answered the survey saying:

“There is an obesity epidemic. Many local authorities do not grant licenses to trade so close to schools and Hounslow has a moral responsibility to protect our children. Everyone has the right to choose what to give their children, but a pitch so close to the school effectively in the exit path from school for many children, is not providing them with a healthy environment.”

Another said they “cannot get past easily” when Mr Detomaso is trading and added the stand was “too close to main road where his customers congregate and it means others with children have to walk out on to the road to get past. It is too much at home time”

Another parent said they never ordered from Mr Detomaso out of principle:

“Personally, I have made a point of never purchasing from him (despite my children “begging” almost daily). This is not because I think my children should never eat an ice-cream (they do), but because I think an ice cream vendor should not be encouraged if he positions himself immediately next to a school (and ditto next to the recreation ground, to catch the second wave of those same kids). This man should simply know better and if you can get him moved, all the better.”

Image above: Marcele Detomaso

Supporters say “Let him sell his ice creams. He makes people happy!”

Parents who support Mr Detomaso’s ice cream business, though a minority in the poll carried out by the school, were perplexed by the wave of opposition by parents. One said:

“I am not sure why so many parents oppose the ice cream vendor. It seems like they lack the discipline to manage their children therefore hoping if the vendor is not there, the problem goes away. The shop around the corner sells Ice cream too, should that be closed because some parents cannot enforce good habits?

“Yes, I appreciate the school is aiming for healthy eating but there is also a lot to be said for rewarding good behaviour similar to the schools numerous stars and stamps system. My son is allowed one a week when he is there and we do not discuss the ice cream person the rest of the time.”

Another parent said:

“I see no problem in having an ice cream vendor on the corner. Occasionally we bought ice cream as a treat from the man too. Children know that we do not buy ice cream every day and never had any issue with just passing by when others were queueing to get one. Of course, I understand that the views may be different for other families with smaller children.”

Another parent in support of ice cream said:

“Because it is a lovely thing to do on a summers day. I cannot see the issue in having him there. He is next to a shop that sells chocolate and ice creams and a post officeselling sweets and he’s not bothering anyone more than the shops are. People can walk home another way if they do not want to go past him. Let us be sensible about this! Let him sell his ice creams. He makes people happy!”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Rock & Rose opening in Chiswick High Rd Tuesday 19 April 

See also: Chiswick’s new Vinyl shop opens Friday 15 April

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist).

Click here to support us.

London hospitals in crisis

Emergency care in deeper crisis than ever before

Last week the most senior doctor in London working in emergency medicine broke cover and warned urgent and emergency care is in a deeper crisis than ever before. Katherine Henderson, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine published the truth about the full extent of the crisis in hospitals, that there are severe and dangerous delays:

“Patients waiting hours at home for an ambulance or waiting hours to be seen and treated in our emergency departments.”

Now Professor Jeremy Levy, an NHS consultant who lives in Chiswick and works in London hospitals has shared his experience with The Chiswick Calendar:

“Ambulances are queuing because patients seen in emergency departments cannot be admitted, because no beds are available, because patients cannot be discharged into nursing homes or their own homes when needing community nurses.”

He receives ‘Black alerts’ on his phone almost daily, issued when a hospital is stretched to capacity and is under extreme pressure, with patients building up in emergency department awaiting admission.

Thoughts from the NHS front line

By Professor Jeremy Levy

So Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, and their supporters, really don’t think that breaking the law was a problem, and many of their supporters think their behaviour was just what we all did during the Covid-19 lock-downs of 2020 and 2021. Attending parties was normal, apparently. And of trivial importance. And this seems to be the general belief of the Conservative party.

I am an NHS consultant working in London. During April and May 2020, I repeatedly worked on wards looking after patients with Covid-19. From my first day on a Covid ward, large numbers of patients died. During my first ward round in April 2020, three people died on a ward of 22 patients within 24 hours, from Covid-19. Without relatives comforting them.

Patients, families and NHS staff suffering huge distress. Even forgetting the people who could not attend weddings and funerals, loved ones in care homes, dying relatives, over two years I did not attend a single party. There were none.

No parties in the NHS

Colleagues died and we could not join in any memorials. Long standing colleagues retired and we did not celebrate. Colleagues were promoted and won accolades and we did not celebrate. Not once. We worked, we went home, we worried about infecting our families.

We did not socialise at all at work or after work. We did not bring bottles to work. But for the prime minister, the rules he made were irrelevant and not made for him and his colleagues. The callous disregard and breath-taking lying is astounding, and simply confirms that they believe “they” are not “us”.

Covid-19 has NOT gone away. Do not believe the Tory ministers. Every day we are juggling huge rates of staff absences because of Covid. Operations are cancelled. Clinics are cancelled. Ambulance crews are absent. Patients are piling up throughout the system and not getting the treatments they need.

Patients still get Covid and those with compromised immune systems get ill. We still have over 100 patients in my hospitals with Covid, and this is not diminishing, and across the UK thousands of people are still dying from Covid-19.

Image: Black capacity alerts – Texts Professor Levy receives telling him his hospital is is under extreme pressure until they have freed up some more beds 

Black capacity alerts ping on my phone warning his hospital is under extreme pressure

Wating lists to see a Neurologist are now over a year in many places, ongoing Covid making this unremitting. In my speciality area, patients often wait in outlying hospitals for my specialist care for over a week before we can move them, with treatment delayed and potentially care compromised. And our political leaders do not seem to care.

Some friends, active members of the Conservative party, simply believe the NHS inefficient and these problems are not caused by politicians. Look, they say, at the Cromwell Hospital in Kensington or King Edward 7th Hospital off Harley Street.  We never have to wait for a bed there, they say. They are well run, and this is the problem with the NHS, they say.

This is simply not true. Private hospitals are efficient because they do not accept any emergency patients, no patients who just walk in, no patients needing social care, no patients with complex needs nor mental health problems.

No patients with acute heart attacks, acute strokes, needing emergency kidney transplants, with multi-organ failure. And if they are full, they just say “no”. And if the patient has complex or expensive needs, they just say no. The NHS cannot say “no”.

Ambulances are queuing because patients seen in emergency departments cannot be admitted, because no beds are available, because patients cannot be discharged into nursing homes or their own homes when needing community nurses … because there is no money from government to fund community services, to fund district nurses, to support a living wage for care home staff, and of course Brexit has removed many European staff. And Covid is reducing staff too.

The government has been in power for 12 years. This is a problem of their making. An underfunded NHS, with too few doctors and nurses, too few beds, too few scanners, too few care-home staff too badly paid, and no actions in hand.

And of course now it is not solvable overnight. But fundamentally a problem owned and caused by the party in power for 12 years. Who blithely partied when telling all of us to stay home in a pandemic.

Did you party when lock-down was imposed? Did you miss a birthday or funeral or wedding or leave a loved one unsupported in hospital or a care home? And are you now waiting a prolonged time for medical care, which should not be happening in a wealthy 21st century country?

Professor Jeremy Levy is an NHS consultant who lives in Chiswick and works in London hospitals.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Rwanda deportation plan “cruel and inhumane” says Ruth Cadbury

See also: Four arrested in oil tanker protest at Chiswick roundabout

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.

A Chiswick resident, a stepson fighting in Ukraine and his dog, now also defending his country

Image above: Roman Romanovich with Morty

While most of us are able to watch the news with a kind of detached horror, for some the war in Ukraine is personal. The world is now so interconnected of course there are people in Chiswick with relatives caught up in it.

Stuart Kerr has written for The Chiswick Calendar about the experience of cheering from the sidelines, doing whatever their family can to support his wife’s’ son, his stepson Roman Romanovich, a 42 year old computer expert with three children of his own, who has signed up to fight for his country.

Read Stuart’s first guest blog on ‘Romchick’ joining the Ukrainian army here:
A glimpse of Romchick in Putin’s war from a little house in Chiswick

Stuart has recently heard that Roman’s family dog, pining for him in Lviv, has been allowed to join him in the Ukrainian volunteer army.

Breaking News From Ukraine – Morty Signs Up!

by Stuart Kerr

Breaking news from somewhere secret in Ukraine is that Morty, Roman’s 10 month old miniature Schnauzer, has signed-up and gone to war against Russia. Private Morty is now with Romchick in the trenches, guarding against any incursion onto Ukrainian soil from somewhere other than the east or the south.

Fact is, when Roman went to war over a month ago and disappeared from his happy little world in Lviv, Morty decided that life wasn’t worth living and was seemingly content to fade away – or whatever doggies do when they’re pining and want to give up the ghost. So eventually, after getting this news, Roman sought (and was granted) permission for the doggy to join him on the front line. To see how he gets on.

As it happens there was precedent to this. Morty isn’t Ukraine’s only canine soldier. In fact, the National Guard has quite a few highly trained canine combatants, all brilliant at sniffing-out important things and listening for hidden danger long before it becomes audible to the human ear. Most of them fully grown Caucasian Shepherd dogs.

Image above: Morty and Roman on duty

Thankfully and even though Morty is somewhat on the small scale as dog-soldiers go, he was soon to prove himself and become accepted by his new colleagues at arms. Obviously they can’t physically look up to him because of his rather short stature. But they’ve certainly learned to “look down” upon their latest proud recruit. Look down with well-deserved admiration.

Apart from his size, there’s a lot of the Muhammad Ali about our Morty. In the sense that, both at play and in combat, he’s incredibly fast on his paws – with a natural tactical instinct to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”. A bit like some kind of pretty cross between a cobra and a mongoose.

Extremely clever beyond his years, it soon became a foregone conclusion amongst army experts that, given any opportunity, Morty would readily bite off anything of diminished peanut size within any Russian’s trousers and fast reduce the pillaging murderer to a quivering piece of shrivelled jelly, screaming for mercy. Widely respected and highly popular, even the human Ukrainian soldiers adore him. He’s now been granted permanent leave to remain.

It’s Morty’s brain that separates him from the average canine soldier and defines his character. This dog simply learns quick. Very quick. From the very beginning, thrown into a world with no carpets, doggy bowls or even a sofa to jump on, Morty simply fitted himself into everything new, almost as if soldiering was already in his blood, just waiting to be unleashed.

Images above: Morty with Ani; Morty with Roman

Straightaway he understood and accepted that serious dogs simply do not bark whilst at war. On the front line and often on duty with Romchick throughout the night, Morty’s chosen means of communication with his master has become a very controlled quietly low-pitched growl. Sitting on a platform high in the trench he stares silently into the distance, with ears pricked listening for any movement out there in the darkness.

From the very first, Morty also learned to be bi-lingual. It’s a basic fact of life that dogs cannot whistle. Just as humans cannot bark. Even though some think they can, in reality those noises are but a silly imitation of the real thing and mean absolutely nothing to a dog.

Anyway, clever Morty has now picked up from Roman a secondary language – the quiet whistle. By which means Roman is able to tell him exactly what he has to do next. Something like one whistle meaning follow me, two whistles meaning keep your head down and don’t say a word… and so on. All top secret. Like the Enigma Code only with a bit more enigma and a lot less code. No talking. No barking. He loves it. Basically Morty loves being out alone with the boss.

Off duty is entirely another matter. As it turns out, this innocent little chap, not yet a teenager, seems to have developed an embryonic eye for beautiful women. Not any old woman. Just the one, proving that Morty’s certainly no womaniser. Quite the opposite in fact, he’s always behaved like a thorough gentleman in the company of the fairer sex. Up until the time, a few days ago, when he first clapped eyes on the gorgeous Ani and immediately went all of a quiver in all four knees with his tongue hanging out.

At least six times Morty’s size, he and Ani are almost inseparable. Almost – because up to now Ani has been locked in a huge cage whilst she undergoes more training and a period of familiarisation. So the two of them meet through wire and kiss through wire and coo at each other through wire, leaping and yelping about going round and round in circles with their tails wagging like mad. Spring is in the air. Even on the battlefields of Ukraine.

Images above: Roman

“Unlike Putin I don’t trade in cannon-fodder”

A week back he drove his mum in Chiswick to the edge of a nervous breakdown when he announced that the head of his “Dad’s Army” platoon, an experienced professional sergeant, was bored now the Russians have retreated from Kiev – and wanted to be transferred east to the Donbas where the main battle will now continue. Roman and a few of his mates had told the sergeant they wanted to go with him.

Thankfully a big Ukrainian army boss arrived and told everyone to shut up and behave themselves. “Unlike Putin I don’t trade in cannon-fodder” he commanded. “So every one of you lot are staying put until I say otherwise.”

He added that the Donbas in the weeks to come will be no place for volunteers with just a month’s experience. Besides which, wherever they are exactly, is still considered highly dangerous and sufficiently important to keep guarded.

Meanwhile, Stryy is a pretty town south of Lviv in the western Ukraine. Roman was born there. In the central square once stood a late 1940’s statue of the Liberating Russian soldier with his arms outstretched holding a baby (spot the irony). This exact same statue was replicated in squares across eastern Europe, commemorating Russia’s great victory over Nazi Germany. Telling how gentle soldiers from this great Russian nation saved women and children from the evil dictator Hitler. No mention of rape, pillage and murder of innocent citizens.

Anyway – after winning independence from USSR in 1990 right through until about 2014, Ukrainian cities were renamed and purposely De-Russified. Whilst thousands of statues including all the ones of Lenin and famous Russian generals and including this ridiculous bronze statue in Stryy were dragged off their plinths and destroyed by cheering Ukrainian locals.

Image above: ‘Soviet Soldier’ statue toppled in Lviv

Cancelling Russian propaganda

There was a 25 feet high commemorative slab beside that statue, detailing the names of all those towns and cities which after May 9th1945 were awarded “Hero” status by Stalin the new Soviet “owner” of Ukraine. Last weekend, with Mariupol reduced to blood and dust and with news of Russian war crimes making worldwide headlines, the good citizens of Stryy returned to the square, fixed ropes around that slab, and with gleeful applause, unceremoniously dragged it to the ground.

A futile gesture no doubt. But necessary. It is now just another small pile of unwanted and uninvited Russian disinformation meeting its deserved end. By the time this war is over there’ll be massive piles of honest and innocent Ukrainian rubble to keep it company.

PS:- Romchick’s baby sister Iryna wishes to thank all friends and colleagues who contributed so generously towards the armoured equipment sent to protect the volunteer army in Ukraine.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: The west London families preparing to host Ukrainian refugees

See also: Chiswick’s ‘Russian spy’ Sergey Brilev sanctioned by British Government

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.

 

Do your plants need repotting? Lewis Cox of Urban Tropicana explains how you know when they do

Urban Tropicana, 21 Turnham Green Terrace

How do you know when your plant needs repotting?

Guest blog by Lewis Cox

Houseplants can be repotted at any time of the year but spring really is the ideal time. Longer days means more sunlight which stimulates our little green friends and helps them produce new growth.

If you’re unsure whether your houseplant is in need of repotting then check for the following signs:

If you remove the plant from its container is there only roots and no soil? This is what’s known as ‘pot bound’ and in most, but not all cases it is a good sign that your plant needs repotting.

Has your plant stopped growing? A fresh soil change and a slightly larger pot might fix this.

Roots popping out of the pots drainage holes? One of the clearest indicators that your plant needs a bigger pot.

Your current soil is looking a little meh and doesn’t hold any water when you’ve watered it? Soil ages and eventually will lose all of its nutrients. Repotting with fresh substrate will be to your houseplant what an English breakfast is to a hangover – heaven.

Images above: Snake plant, (aka ‘Mother in law’s tongue); Jewel Orchid, (Ludisia Discolor); Alocasia (‘Dragon Scale’)

A few simple rules

When repotting always follow a few simple rules:

Use a pot with drainage holes. If you’re potting straight into a decorative pot without drainage holes (not something we would advise) make sure it’s made from porous material like terracotta otherwise you run this risk of creating a little reservoir at the bottom of your pot which will eventually lead to root rot and your plant ending up in the big nursery in the sky.

When repotting, upsizing from your current pot makes total sense, go one size bigger and if you’re recycling an old pot then make sure you give it a good wash beforehand to prevent the possible spread of fungus or bacteria.

Images above: Philippine Orchid (Medinilla Magnifica); Sweetheart Plant (Hoya Kerrii); Calathea (‘Makoyana’)

Urban Tropicana’s new repotting service

If you think your houseplants might be in need of a repot and can’t think of anything worse than doing it yourself then fear not, just drop them off to us at Urban Tropicana, 21 Turnham Green Terrace and we’ll do the mucky work for you.

We’ll take your plant, remove its current substrate and give its roots an MOT. We’ll then replace the soil with our hand mixed, peat free blend which is packed with everything you plant needs to thrive. We’ll then end the plants pampering session with a good soak in our 100% natural fertiliser.

House plant re-potting costs:

Small Pot (up to 12cm) – £5
Medium (12cm to 19cm) – £7
Large: (19cm +) – £12

Cacti & succulent re-potting costs:

Small Pot (up to 12cm) – £5
Medium (12cm to 19cm) – £9
Large: (19cm +) – £20

For larger plants which can’t be transported to us we can arrange home visits. Please ask for further details about this service.

To book a slot please email us at contact@urbantropicana.co.uk or call the store on 0208 616 0910. You can bring your own replacement pot or purchase one in store. To ensure we have the right replacement pot size available please let us know when booking your appointment.

Lewis

Images above: Hoya Linearis; Money Tree (Pachira Aquatica); Asparagus Fern

Urban Tropicana
21 Turnham Green Terrace
www.urbantropicana.co.uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: West and Hunter – the luxury barbershop with the air of a gentlemen’s club

See also: Houses in Chiswick fetching well above the asking price

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.

Woman caught on camera stealing a cat ornament

Image above: Woman caught on camera

A woman was caught on camera stealing an ornamental cat from the porch of a house in Grove Park. On the porch video you can see her look around before picking up the cat and taking it away.

She failed to look up and see the camera however and now homeowner Kate Bee wants anyone who recognises her to ask her to give the cat back.

“At 1am last night, she saw it, liked it and decided that it was okay to take something belonging to others” Kate wrote on nextdoor on Easter Monday.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Icecream seller at Strand on the Green seeks to trade again outside the primary school

See also: Rwanda deportation plan “cruel and inhumane” 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.

Man in the Middle 86: Do I owe you anything?

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, you can read No. 1: The Letter here

No 86: Do I owe you anything?

It’s Easter Sunday. The sun has a smile on its face wider than Jurgen Klopp’s after his FA Cup semi-final win yesterday against Manchester City.

Mr Blue Sky is on every radio station. Hey, hey, hey.

At the roadside, daffodils sway like choirs of evangelical lollipop men singing their favourite songs from the Highway Code hymn book and the Archbishop of Canterbury has just called the Government’s plan to hand asylum seekers a one-way ticket to Rwanda ‘ungodly.’

The world feels, for a moment, clear eyed and righteous.

As I turn into the car park of Mother’s nursing home, I slip the gears into neutral, turn off the engine and try to glide the last few feet into a parking space imagining that I am Lewis Hamilton pulling up with a flourish at his favourite casino in Monaco.

Unfortunately, our ancient 1.4 litre Vauxhall Astra is not a Mercedes. And I am not Lewis Hamilton. As I disengage the gears, it splutters like a coal miner with emphysema, stalls and then stops dead sideways across two parking places at the front door of the nursing home. It’s a pitiful pit stop, more Mr Bean than Lewis Hamilton.

Luckily, no one is there to see it. In fact, the car park is completely empty. Strange. It is only ten o’clock. I guessed more people would be here today of all days. This is Easter Sunday, after all. The Day of the Resurrection. A day when miracles might happen, perhaps. A day when one might hope to arrive at a place like this to find the tired minds and crippled bodies of its residents rewired and restored to working order.

Some hope.

I haven’t visited my mother for ten days. She’s been boxed in her room with Covid for a second time. They say she’s brushed it off. Let’s hope so. Each time I see her after a break as long as this, I’m not sure who I’ll meet.

I finish parking properly and head into the home with a little less va-va-voom than before.

Mother is in the resident’s lounge leaning on a table with her head in her hands.

The woman next to her is asleep, head on the table, a Cadbury’s mini-egg nestled next to her grey hair.

Mother sees me and winds herself up from the table, slowly.

‘Do I owe you anything?’ she asks.

It’s an odd opening remark. It feels as if I’ve arrived as she is auditing her annual accounts.

‘Like what?’ I ask.

‘Money, you fool.’

‘No, you don’t owe me anything.’

I wonder for a moment if she’s asking me a metaphysical question: is there anything she still owes me before it’s too late. An explanation? An apology? A racing tip?

Survey after survey shows that old people fear running out of money more than death itself. Mother has a nuanced take on this. She fears dying in debt or with some unpaid or unacknowledged obligation.

I’ve had this conversation before. It tends to go badly, stirring up anxieties from her childhood like mud in a flooding estuary. It is an irrational issue and a conversation which is hard to calm or close down.

‘But I must owe something to someone?’ she asks. ‘I had a haircut last week. And who pays for the meals?’

‘You do. Every month.’

‘But I don’t have cheque book.’

‘You pay by direct debit.’

She shakes her head. She’s forgotten what direct debit means.

‘But I don’t have a red card, so I can’t be paying anything.’

By red card she means cheque card.

‘You don’t need a cheque card to pay,’ I say. ‘It’s all taken care of automatically. Don’t worry, please.’

She shakes her head again. She is frustrated. Something is not right but she doesn’t know what. The world isn’t what it was or how it ought to be. She wants to continue.

‘Why won’t you give me my cheque book? I want to give the sisters a little something for their kindness.’

She calls the carers ‘sisters’, as if they were catholic nuns.

‘It’s better you don’t have a cheque book and card while you’re here,’ I say. ‘We have talked through this before.’

Oh shit, I’ve slipped into school master mode and I’ve only been with her for three minutes.

‘You don’t owe anyone anything,’ I say. ‘Don’t worry.’

She pauses and then starts up again in a more wistful voice.

‘Are you sure?’

‘100%,’ I say.

‘Last night, they held a farewell party for me. But my speech went flat, and nobody understood a word I said and when they brought the bill for the cake, I didn’t have a cheque book to pay for it. It was so humiliating.’

I look at the floor and choke back a tear.

There was no party. This is a recurring dream. A dream about leaving life in debt and dishonour and the hope of a fresh clean start on the other side.

Read more blogs by James Thellusson

Read the next in the series – Man in the Middle – Willy Wonka should run adult social care

Read the previous one – Man in the Middle – We were students here 40 years ago

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

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 and Hunter – the luxury barbershop with the air of a gentlemen’s club

Image above: West and Hunter

Going all out for customer care

It is a bit odd writing a piece about a gentlemen’s luxury grooming place, not being a gentleman (or any kind of man – she / her and always have been) but West and Hunter on Chiswick High Rd is such a pleasant place to hang out I could almost wish I qualified.

It’s comfy, in a luxurious way (big leather sofas, cigars, coffee, an interesting choice of drinks, big screen TV for watching the sport du jour) good for chilling, but also has that spa smell – citrus I think – which gives you the impression you’re in for a refreshing and revitalising experience.

You are, if Zamaine’s recommendations online are anything to go by. A trip to West and Hunter is universally regarded as a five star experience, and that takes some doing that there’s not one moaning Minnie wanting to take the shine off their reputation.

How does a male grooming place achieve five stars? Excellent customer care. Zamaine and his two colleagues are all very experienced in the business of barbering. They offer a ‘bespoke’ service Zamaine told me. I raised an eyebrow. Surely every haircut is ‘bespoke’ by definition? His explanation of how they talk to customers about what they want, how they want their haircut to look, and the whole package of services they offer made all clear.

Images above: A client having a beard trim; West and Hunter exterior

More than 30 years of barbering experience

A flashback to the 1980s and an encounter with a hairdresser in Streatham. “Have a look through this magazine and show me which cut you’d like”. I looked at these impossibly glamorous women with big hair curled and teased and dutifully picked one. “Let’s look at the photograph and look at your actual hair” he said sorrowfully. I slunk out, humiliated with the regulation Farrah Fawcett ‘shag’ haircut, never to return to that particular salon.

A depressingly common experience, according to Zamaine Ismail, founder-owner of West and Hunter:

“A lot of people are intimidated by hairdressing salons and often it is the people who are intimidated who become the most loyal customers. Once they find someone they like coming to, they stick with you.”

A trip to his salon is about as far from my 1980s experience as you can get.

“You will notice there’s not a single picture of a hair style on show” he says. With more than 30 years’ experience between them, they don’t need a manual. Paul Dos Reis was until recently the manager of Genco. Shadia Alex worked in a luxury barber in Fulham for 13 years only changing because she wanted to go part time. Every member of the team has more than 12 years experience as a barber.

Zamaine himself is a Master Barber who had established himself over the previous ten years as a hair stylist whose clients included pop stars and footballers, before opening his own luxury male grooming emporium.

Images above: Zamaine give’s Chiswick Calendar reporter Matt Smith a haircut; photograph Alanna McCrum

Many customers work from home now

I am delighted he is doing so well. Opening the shop during a pandemic could not have been a more inauspicious start. He opened on Friday 16 October 2020, in the premises that had previously been Cath Kidston’s bag shop, thinking the worst of the pandemic was behind us, but within two weeks we were in lockdown. With the cost of refitting the shop to pay off, Zamaine has only been able to open it for less than 12 of the past 18 months, but he has not only survived but thrived.

READ ALSO: West and Hunter, luxury barbershop opens

Despite the drawbacks of the pandemic, Covid, it has also benefitted the business in an unexpected way, because Zamaine is finding quite a lot of his customers now work from home and he is busier during the week than he is on Saturdays.

Images above: West and Hunter and Balmain products

Coconut, argan oil and silk

He has developed relationships with other local businesses such as Soho House and Enjoy Work, which runs the Chiswick Business Park. He has expended his service menu, so loyal clients get reductions for repeat haircuts or for introducing a friend. West and Hunter is also a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme, offering our subscribers 15% off bespoke haircuts or luxury shave services, all year round.

Zamaine has launched his own range of male grooming products, exclusive to West and Hunter:

“We’ve used coconut throughout the range – a light, natural fragrance which is distinctive but not overly masculine”.

They are a prestige partner of couturiers Balmain. Each line has its own distinctive fragrance: Argan oil and Silk as well as coconut.

The five star customer care experience includes facials, with an optimal skincare routine, and even a bowl of water and snacks for you dog.

Image above: West and Hunter private hire for a social event

A great start to a stag do

One of the things which is different about West & Hunter, making it more like a gentleman’s club, is the social side. Because of West and Hunter’s clientele in film and television, the Aquaman II wrap party was held there.

A visit to West and Hunter also makes a good start to a stag night. We all know how those end up, but the equivalent of a women’s hen do starting with sessions at a spa is to start your stag do with canapes and sushi, a drop of whisky and a nice shave. A good ice breaker for friends from different parts of the groom’s life and something they can feel comfortable doing with the father in law to be.

Explore the world of West and Hunter through their website, or wander in and have a chat with them.

West & Hunter
125 Chiswick High Road
London W4 2ED

Tel: 0203 874 7741
Email: info@westandhunter.com

westandhunter.com

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: The Chiswick Calendar Club Card scheme

See also: Chiswick Indian restaurant Republic added to the Michelin guide

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

Andrea’s film review – Better Nate Than Ever

Better Nate Than Ever ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2 Review by Andrea Carnevali

13-year-old Nate Foster fantasizes about becoming a big Broadway star. He and his best friend Litty mastermind a daring trip to New York City to audition for Lilo and Stitch: The Musical. Available to watch on Disney +

A pre-teen-musical-comedy from Disney+ wouldn’t really be my natural choice, but since I do have a nine year old son and it’s our weekly movie night family date, I decided to put my cynicism aside and give it a try.

And you know what? I was pleased I did that, because surprisingly this is a snappy, vibrant, funny, joyful, charming and heart-warming little film, which I would never have found otherwise. I’d be happy to recommend it to anyone with kids or, failing that, anyone with a passion for Broadway musicals and light comedies.

Yes, it is terribly predictable and let’s face it, a bit schmaltzy, but in a way that’s part of its charm, in an unapologetically crowd-pleasing sort of way.

Written and directed by Tim Federle, Better Nate Than Ever is adapted from his own semi-autobiographical novel in which Nate, a musical lover, dreams of  becoming a star on Broadway and sneaks out from his home in Pittsburgh to go to an audition for a production Lilo & Stitch: The Musical (in the novel it was ET).

It is a glossy, slick, ultra-saturated film which mixes old fashion comedies, like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Billy Elliot with a hint of the underrated (and very little seen) TV series Smash produced by Spielberg, and the vibes of Glee. And at the centre of it all, Nate, beautifully played by Rueby Wood. He is a real force of nature and his talent both as a singer and as actor is undeniable, especially considering that this is his first role. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day we see his name next to some Tony Award.

Also in the cast Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe in Friends, who can forget her?) who is also as delightful as ever. Time hardly seems to have passed for her.

In the end this is a just a bright, lovely (and yes a bit corny) film filled with positive messages throughout, about acceptance, about being true to yourself (there are hints at Nate being gay, which are never heavy-handed, nor contrived) and about following your dreams.

You’ve got to have a heart of stone if you’re not smiling throughout this.

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

Better Nate Than Ever is available to watch on Disney +

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

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’s Big Jubilee Sing

Image above: St Michael & All Angels Church Parish Hall, Chiswick

Come and sing all the best songs of the Queen’s reign

St Michael & All Angels Church and The Tabard pub are inviting Chiswick residents to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June by singing some of the best-loved songs of her reign.

‘The Big Jubilee Sing: 70 Years of Songs’ will take place on the afternoon of Saturday 4 June 2022 on the piazza and lawn outside St Michael & All Angels Parish Hall. Singers will be provided with song sheets and there will be a band and an outdoor bar.

Fr Kevin Morris, the vicar of St Michael & All Angels, and John Higginson, landlord of The Tabard, said:

“We’re inviting everyone to sing some of the most popular songs of the Queen’s reign, from the 1950s to the 2020s. And we hope lots of people will help us choose which ones to sing!”

Image above: Tabard pub

Not the first collaboration between church and pub

‘The Big Jubilee Sing’ has been scheduled to run from 4.30 to 5.45pm on Saturday 4 June so as not to clash with any ‘Big Lunch’ street parties taking place on the Saturday and Sunday of the Jubilee weekend.

People are invited to send their suggestions of songs from each decade to Newsletter@smaaa.org.uk. They can download a form if they wish at www.smaaa.org.uk.

The last time St Michael’s and The Tabard came together for a royal event was in 2011 for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Over 40 couples took part in a service reaffirming their wedding vows, followed by drinks at the Tabard. Ten of the couples had been married for over 40 years, and seven for over 20 – helping celebrate more than 800 years of marriage in total.

The Arts & Crafts church and pub face each other on Bath Road W4, two minutes’ walk from Turnham Green tube station. They were designed in the late 1870s by the influential architect Richard Norman Shaw, as focal points of Bedford Park, the world’s first garden suburb.

Image above: Couples who reaffirmed their wedding vows in 2011

Strand on the Green Jubilee event

The Big Jubilee Sing is one of several events taking place around Chiswick over the Jubilee weekend. Strand on the Green is holding a Queen’s Jubilee celebration on Sunday 5 June, the Sunday of the bank holiday weekend. Thames Road will be closed from Kew Bridge down to the Steam Packet pub, with live music and Morris dancers and the Fuller’s horses and dray offering rides up and down the road.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Queen’s Jubilee celebrations – Strand on the Green

See also: Chiswick In Pictures launch at the Clayton hotel

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.

Queen’s Jubilee celebrations – Strand on the Green

Image above: Strand on the Green; photograph Jennifer Griffiths

Strand on the Green is holding a Queen’s Jubilee celebration on Sunday 5 June, the Sunday of the bank holiday weekend. Thames Road will be closed from Kew Bridge down to the Steam Packet pub, with live music and Morris dancers and the Fuller’s horses and dray offering rides up and down the road.

Organised by the Strand on the Green Association, the event will be open to all. They are also planning retro themed stalls and a boat race at the end of the afternoon, at 5pm. All the food businesses along that stretch will be offering Jubilee specials – the Bell & Crown and the Steam Packet pubs, Strand Cafe and the Coffee Traveller cafes and Hammonds Butcher & Delicatessen. Local celebrity, ballet dancer Wayne Sleep will be running a keep fit class.

The residents association has received a grant from LB Hounslow to cover basic running costs but they are looking for volunteers to help out with an hour of their time to put up gazebos and run activities. There will also be a cake stall, if anyone would like to donate a home made cake.

If you would like to take part in running the event please contact Anne Collins at ann.collins9@btinternet.com or Lucy Cufflin at lucycufflin@gmail.com.

Image above: Fuller’s horses at the Chiswick Flower Market last year

Competitions

The organisers are holding several competitions – poetry, art and photography.

Do you love Strand on the Green? Are you a budding bard or a lover of a cheeky limerick? Perhaps you’re handy with a camera (or phone) or want to unleash your inner Turner?

There are four competitions to enter. Winners to be announced & prizes presented at Strand on the Green Jubilee Celebration on Sunday 5 June.

Photography

Submit a photograph that captures ‘The Spirit of Strand on the Green’

Art

Design a coat of arms that represents Strand on the Green to you

Poetry

Compose a poem inspired by ‘What Strand on the Green means to you’. Maximum length 25 lines.

Limerick

Write a limerick starting ‘A [lady] from Strand on the Green…’ (Could be a dachshund from Strand on the Green or any other two syllable subject).

How to enter

The entries will be on public display for all to see outside Fuller’s offices on the day and also on the Strand on the Green Association website and on The Chiswick Calendar website.

Categories – 18 and under or 19 and over. All entries by email to lucycufflin@gmail.com marked ‘Jubilee Competition’ (including arrangements for delivery of original artwork submissions).

Judging criteria are originality and inspiration. Decisions of the judges are final.

The copyright of each entry remains with the author. However, authors, by entering the competition, grant the SOGA and GPG residents associations and The Chiswick Calendar permission to publish, broadcast and / or use their submission in promoting displays including on the SAGO, GPG and Chiswick Calendar websites and social media.

The Queen’s Jubilee celebration at Strand on the Green is supported by Fuller, Smith and Turner and The Chiswick Calendar CIC.

The Big Jubilee Sing

The Strand on the Green event is one of several taking place around Chiswick over the Jubilee weekend. St Michael & All Angels Church and the Tabard pub on Bath Rd are jointly organising The Big Jubilee Sing on Saturday 4 June on the piazza and lawn outside St Michael & All Angels Parish Hall. Singers will be provided with song sheets and there will be a band and an outdoor bar.

‘The Big Jubilee Sing’ has been scheduled to run from 4.30 to 5.45pm on Saturday 4 June.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick’s Big Jubilee Sing

See also: Rock & Rose opening in Chiswick High Rd Tuesday 19 April

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 the Old knives

All the Old Knives ⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Two CIA agents and ex-lovers (Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton) are brought back together years after a failed rescue attempt and blur the lines between profession and passion in a tale of global espionage, moral dilemma and deadly betrayal. Available to watch on Amazon Prime.

While I appreciate the noble attempt to make a “cerebral” spy thriller, or an “anti-Bond” if you like, free of the usual action-packed scenes, explosions, car chases and gadgets, if this is the result, then please give me a Martini shaken and not stirred anytime!

The pace of this film is so slow that I found myself wishing I were watching a Michael Bay film, more than once.

There’s probably a good film somewhere to be made with this same story and possibly even these same actors, but having them spend most of the running time of the film talking to each other in a dimly-lit restaurant, as if this was a play on a stage, however slick it all looks and however hot the players are, doesn’t do All the Old Knives any favours.

Considering the plot is all about a terrorist attack on a plane, innocent victims at stake and finding a mole inside the CIA, it’s amazing how dull the proceedings are and how little tension runs throughout.

Everything here is so sombre, from the music to the slow pace of editing, to the lines exchanged between two people who are supposed to be madly in love, but seem to have as much chemistry as two frozen vegetables.

And no, having a gratuitous sex scene, with a fleeting view of Chris Pyne’s perfectly-chiselled butt (yes, I am jealous), and even quicker view of Thandiwe Newton’s breasts, doesn’t make it any more edgy or interesting or even real. In fact it brings me back to those cheesy ‘90s films by Paul Verhoeven, if anything… But again, I actually would prefer to be were watching one of those too.

Director Janus Metz spectacularly fails to inject any tension in the film. Even the constant time-jumps and different timelines end up mostly hurting the pace and the actual drama it’s trying to build rather than serving the story or creating any sense mystery.

At the end of the day, there’s no escape from the fact that this feels like a short story stretched beyond believe to fit a feature length movie.

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

All the Old Knives is available to watch on Amazon Prime.

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

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 

 

Lucinda MacPherson interviews Dr Lloyd (Meadhbh) Houston, the Gender Consultant on Scandaltown at the Lyric, Hammersmith

Image above: Dr Lloyd (Meadhbh) Houston with publicity for Scandaltown at the Lyric, Hammersmith; photograph Lucinda MacPherson

Lucinda MacPherson interviews the show’s Gender Consultant, Dr Lloyd (Meadhbh) Houston

Scandaltown, a Restoration comedy for the twenty-first century, romps onto the Lyric Hammersmith stage for its world premiere this week.

A glittering cast of twelve, including Rachael Stirling (Tipping the Velvet, Detectorists) and Richard Goulding (The Windsors), play characters with delicious names like Lady Susan Climber, Miss Phoebe Virtue and Hannah Tweetwell, as they raucously vie for influence amid the fraught social scene of post-pandemic London.

Mike Bartlett, the mind behind Cock, King Charles III, and BBC One’s Doctor Foster, has written this boisterous social satire specifically for the Lyric stage, and director Rachel O’Riordan’s maximalist production feels absolutely at home in Frank Matcham’s flamboyantly gilded fin-de-siècle auditorium.

Among the crew is Dr Lloyd (Meadhbh) Houston, a non-binary academic and theatre practitioner specialising in Gender and Sexuality Studies, who has been discussing this new, rather naughty production and their role as Gender Consultant with Lucinda MacPherson.

Image above: Henry Everett and Annette McLaughlin in Scandaltown; photograph Marc Brenner

Firstly, please tell me a bit about the play. What can audiences expect?

The unexpected! Scandaltown is a big, sexy romp of a thing, and Mike, Rachel, and the team have done a beautiful job of creating a show that plays upon our expectations – theatrical, social, and political – only to subvert them in hilarious and revealing ways.

Like the Restoration comedies it playfully emulates, Scandaltown tackles the major debates of its day (the commodification of social media outrage; the hypocrisy of unaccountable politicians; generational divides over the nature of personal freedom and collective responsibility) with a mix of incisive wit and bawdy bravado, finding common ground (and a great deal to laugh at) amid an increasingly polarized political landscape.

Image above: Dr Lloyd (Meadhbh) Houston with publicity for Scandaltown at the Lyric, Hammersmith; photograph Lucinda MacPherson

What is a Gender Consultant?

I see gender consultancy as an extension of the amazing work done by trans consultants, who help facilitate better representation and working conditions for trans and gender-diverse people across the media, and intimacy professionals, who help to ensure that scenes involving sex and intimacy are rehearsed and performed under safe and consensual conditions.

Basically, my job is to ensure that gender, in all its messy splendour, and with all its personal, political, and social ramifications, is something that people at every level of the production can engage with safely and creatively. This might take the form of offering feedback on scripts, participating in the casting and rehearsal process, providing inclusivity training for production, administrative, or front-of-house staff, drafting marketing materials, or providing support to actors throughout a run or shoot.

The reason I favour the term ‘gender consultancy’ is because I believe that having a gender consultant involved is not only useful in productions explicitly dealing with gender diversity and trans experience, but in any creative context where gender is a significant theme or conceptual element.

There’s a common assumption that gender is only an ‘issue’ for gender-non-conforming people: that only those like myself, whose gender identity or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth, need concern themselves with how they inhabit or relate to their gender. But, of course, as anyone who’s ever been told their haircut was too ‘butch’ or that ‘men don’t cry’ will tell you, gender is something with which we all grapple, in complex and evolving ways, at every stage of our lives.

The feminist philosopher Judith Butler famously framed gender not as an inherent quality a person possesses, but as a social activity in which they engage. In Butler’s view, through the (usually unconscious) repetition of particular behaviours and forms of self-presentation – dressing, speaking, gait, sexual activity, etc – a person’s gender ‘congeals’, becoming a seemingly immutable part of their identity.

In the light of this insight, it seems to me that any rehearsal process that doesn’t take these aspects of gender and processes of ‘gendering’ into account is going to deny itself a huge amount of its creative potential.

At the same time, by helping creative teams rethink what conventionally gendered traits like ‘aggression’ or ‘power’ (which tend to be coded as inherently ‘masculine’) and ‘compassion’ or ‘vulnerability’ (which have traditionally been framed as ‘feminine’) can look like in performance, and how they might be embodied in ways that don’t reinforce gendered norms, a gender consultant can greatly expand the expressive range of even the most familiar material.

Image above: Ami Okumura Jones and Chukwuma Omambala in Scandaltown; photograph Marc Brenner

Why were the Lyric team keen to involve a gender consultant? Are there other examples of productions that have used gender consultants or are you a rare breed?

At its heart, Scandaltown is about the tension between freedom and responsibility, and, in many ways, the process of developing the show has been about balancing those considerations. To be free to explore questions of desire, pleasure, and power as boldly (and amusingly) as the play does, Rachel felt a responsibility to ensure that there were figures in the room who could help the production engage with those issues sensitively and inventively.

I was chuffed to be asked, as, while trans consultancy is increasingly common in film and television (shows like HBO’s Euphoria, for example, have a dedicated trans consultant), gender consultancy is still fairly novel in theatre.

In gender consultancy terms, Scandaltown is an interesting case in that, despite not featuring any trans or gender-diverse characters, it does involve a lot of what might be called ‘gender play’.

Most obviously, Phoebe Virtue – the fresh-faced embodiment of all that is woke, ethically-sourced, and socially-responsible, who elects to go to London incognito to ensure her twin brother Jack, hasn’t strayed from the path of (self-)righteousness – spends much of the play’s first half in comically exaggerated boy drag.

While this is undoubtedly disguise, rather than a more lasting or meaningful form of transition, it was important for us that the experience of inhabiting this caricature of the sorts of ‘toxic masculinity’ she would otherwise decry should complicate Phoebe’s understanding of herself. The exploratory work Rachel and I did with the actress who plays Phoebe was really exciting, and I felt lucky to be able to provide a frame-work for that creative process.

Image above: Aysha Kala and Rachael Stirling in Scandaltown; photograph Marc Brenner

Why should audiences hot foot it to Hammersmith?

Well, aside from the fact it looks and sounds breath-taking, with glittering costumes, choregraphed dance numbers, and an original soundtrack that channels everything from Succession to David Bowie, I think the real joy of the show is that is has something just a little bit eye-watering to say to everyone who comes to see it.

After the first preview, I saw someone on Twitter describe it as a show that ‘pokes the woke and lambasts the libertarian in equal measure,’ and I think that’s right. Hearing parts of the auditorium erupt in laughter as others wince, only for that dynamic to be reversed a few moments later, never fails to make me smile. I think people will find it bracing, in the best possible way.

Dr Lloyd (Meadhbh) Houston is a non-binary academic, writer, and activist based at the University of Alberta, where they are SSHRC-CIHR Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in English, and Goldsmiths College, University of London, where they are Associate Lecturer in Theatre and Performance.

Their research explores the cultural politics of sexual health, queer history and culture, and the history of censorship and obscenity. In tandem with their academic work, they also serve as a gender diversity consultant and creative facilitator, working with theatres, production companies, and arts organizations to help them produce sensitive and engaging work in an inclusive environment.

Their writing has been featured in the Times Literary Supplement, the Irish Times, and on RTÉ, and their first monograph, Irish Modernism and the Politics of Sexual Health, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Happy 150th birthday Heath Robinson

See also: Interview with actress Suzette Llewellyn

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.

Houses in Chiswick fetching well above the asking price

Guest blog by Julian Masson

The property market in the first quarter of the year has been extremely competitive in Chiswick, due to an increase in demand combined with a lack of supply.

According to Rightmove, the number of available properties in W4 for the first quarter of 2021 was roughly 25% more than in the first quarter of 2022, which is a substantial drop in any period. With the lack of supply, the house market in particular has continued to perform very well.

In fact, ten of the last twelve houses we listed on and ‘off-market’ achieved impressive offers with the majority reaching levels at or above their asking price, a very encouraging result and suggestive evidence that house prices in the area have indeed increased.

To provide a couple of examples, we listed a house on Wavendon Avenue which has been agreed substantially over the asking price. Within a week we received over thirty viewing requests and multiple sealed bids.

Another we listed on Rusthall Avenue had the same experience with over twenty five viewings, six sealed bids and an offer agreed well above the asking price, which was also within the space of the week. In my opinion, how an agent presents your property is absolutely crucial to achieving a premium price.

Image above: 69 Rusthall Avenue, sold by John D Wood, Chiswick

One of the toughest challenges we have faced over the past few months has been trying to find our vendors a suitable onward purchase. Many of the sales we have recently agreed have been left with an open chain with the continued lack of available property. A number of our sellers who have been prepared to break their chain and move into temporary rented accommodation or found alternative arrangements have capitalised on motivated buyers.

With interest rates rising and increasing inflation, inevitably prices will be affected. As we move further into the spring market, we believe more property is likely to come on which will provide buyers with more choice and hopefully a bit more time to make a decision, which will in turn stabilise prices and subdue the current competitive nature we have recently witnessed.

Image above: College House on Chiswick Mall, recently listed for £3,000,000

John D Wood & Co moving to bigger premises in Turnham Green Terrace

In other news, we are delighted to announce a move across the Terrace! We recently secured much larger premises for our Chiswick office, a far more prominent location at 45 Turnham Green Terrace.

With substantial window displays, the new position will allow us to provide our clients with greater exposure for their properties and a comfortable place to meet and discuss all of their property needs. The team and I are very excited about the move, which is likely to take place within the next few months and we very much look forward to welcoming future and past clients to come to see our lovely newly refurbished office. What a perfect year for us to make the move as we celebrate our 150th Birthday!

With the return of sunnier days and blossoming trees, coupled with the current market conditions, spring is a fantastic time to sell a home. We invite all to request our services in providing you with a complimentary up to date market appraisal. Our highly professional, well-trained and passionate sales and lettings teams have a thorough understanding of the property market in Chiswick and would be more than happy to provide helpful, honest advice when it comes to selling, buying, renting or letting your property.

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

John D Wood sponsors The Chiswick Calendar and is a member of our Club Card scheme, offering Club Card holders a 35% discount on their standard sole agency fees. For full terms and conditions please visit their branch or website.

johndwood.co.uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Andrea’s film reviews

See also: Books of the month

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 Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window

The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

When a handsome neighbour moves in across the street, Anna, a heartbroken woman for whom every day is the same, starts to see a light at the end of the tunnel; that is, until she witnesses a gruesome murder. Or did she? Available to watch on Netflix.

In fact I had watched this back in February, but with all the Baftas and Oscars nominated films around at the time, I had completely forgotten to review it. What better excuse to resume watching the series than the Easter holiday when people are looking for some mindless bingeable fun stuff to watch?

From such a title I was expecting a real spoof on the genre, almost a farcical film like the Naked Gun series, or even the (dreadful) Scary Movie franchise, and while there are some funny moments here and there, they’re few and far between and certainly not as outlandish as the title might suggest.

The plot is a bit of a mishmash of several things we’ve seen before: The Woman in the Window, The Girl on the Train and Rear Window are the most obvious references, though some of the atmosphere reminded me a little bit of the silly mysteries from TV series Desperate Housewives, minus the funny bits.

In fact I have to say that it took me a while to realise that this was not meant to be taken too seriously… To be honest I’m still not sure whether I was supposed to laugh at what I was watching or not. If I was, then the jokes were much too subtle.

Let’s face it, if the title had been something more bland or normal like “The mystery across the street” or anything else less flamboyant than the mouthful it actually is, I probably would have thought that this was just another thriller featuring a woman who thinks she’s witnessed a murder next door, which is essentially what it is.

Having established that as a comedy this didn’t really work for me, nor as a spoof, I have to say that as a thriller at least there were enough twists and turns to keep my attention throughout the eight episodes.

I wouldn’t call it edge-of-your-seat stuff, but both my wife and I binged it in no time. Arguably the short episodes format (about 25 minutes or less each episode) made it very easy to watch, but they were also helped by a very likeable performance by Kristen Bell, whose shoulders this entire series stands on.

I feel a bit dirty at giving it three stars, but I have to be honest, we enjoyed it for what it was, probably a lot more than the average viewer out there and especially the average critics, judging by some of the scathing reviews I have glanced around the web.

In short, it’s crisp, it’s nicely made, you can turn off your brain and still enjoy it and it goes down easily like a glass of a cheapish wine (Says the man who doesn’t drink…).

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

The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window is available to watch on Netflix.

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

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 – Hacks

Hacks ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Review by Andrea Carnevali

Explores a dark mentorship that forms between Deborah Vance, a legendary Las Vegas comedian, and an entitled, outcast 25-year-old. Available to watch on Amazon Prime.

Finally available in the UK on Amazon Prime, months (in fact possibly even a year!!) behind its original US release, we can finally see what the fuss was all about and why this series has been winning awards left and right.

In Hacks Jean Smart plays Deborah Vance, a legendary veteran stand-up comedian in Las Vegas, who is paired up by her agent (against her will) with a young writer, Ava Daniel, in an attempt to make her act feel more ‘relevant’ and more appealing to younger crowds.

Neither of the two really wants to be with the other one. Ava, who is in hot water because of dodgy tweet she posted, desperately needs a job and she doesn’t really feel she has a choice.

What begins as a sort of Devil Wears Prada rip-off, soon develops into something which goes well beyond the tropes of the genre. The electric chemistry and the culture clash between the two characters forms the spine of the series.

Hacks is billed as a comedy and while it is about stand-up gigs (of which, wisely, we only see glimpses) and there are certainly laughs to be had, it is in the most intimate and emotional (and yet unsentimental) moments where it really excels.

The writing is particularly clever, as we are given a new bit of information about the various backstories in each episode. And so just when we think we know everything about the two leads, we learn something new, which adds an extra dimension to what are already well-rounded characters and changes our preconceptions of them.

But who am I kidding here? None of this would be as powerful as it is, without Jean Smart’s astonishing, multi-layered performance: she manages to be lonely and vulnerable as well as ruthless, spoilt, feisty. At times she’s a real bitch, and yet one who I love spending time with.

The series starts strong right from the first episode. The pace is sharp (how refreshing it is to have 30 minutes long episodes, especially in an era of bloated TV series), the filming is clean, crisp, handsome, the acting is top-notch (yes, you can hardly take your eyes off the amazing Jean Smart, but Hannah Einbinder as Ava holds her own spectacularly well) and the side characters are funny and intriguing in equal measure.

But to me it was really from about half way through (episode 6 is TV Gold), when it just started to transcend the formulaic episodic nature of these sorts of series and it became one of the best TV comedies of the last few years. Subtle, insightful, funny, poignant, revealing, powerful and very bingeable.

It all just builds and builds until the masterful season finale which had me laughing and crying in the space of seconds and possibly at the same time.

I cannot wait for season two.

Hacks is (finally) available in the UK on Prime.

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

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

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 

Rwanda deportation plan “cruel and inhumane” says Ruth Cadbury

Image above: Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford & Isleworth

The Home Secretary’s plan to send Asylum seekers to Rwanda for their applications to be processed is “cruel and inhumane” says MP for Brentford & Isleworth, Ruth Cadbury.

Priti Patel announced on Thursday (14 April) asylum seekers would be flown to Rwanda to claim asylum there. The scheme will initially focus on single men crossing the Channel in boats or lorries from France and could start “within weeks” the government has said.

The prime minister has said he wants to “break the business model” of people traffickers and Priti Patel has even said the policy would be “fairer”:

“More than 28,000 migrants crossed the channel last year by small boat in very dangerous and perilous conditions. The UK asylum system is collapsing under a combination of real humanitarian crises and evil people smugglers profiteering by exploiting the system for their own gain.

“Criminals are exploiting the hopes and fears of migrants, pushing them to make dangerous journeys to the UK with fictitious and false promises that they can settle in the UK if they make it.

“This has devastating consequences for the countless men, women, and children who have tragically lost their lives or lost loved ones on perilous journeys.

“It is also deeply unfair, because it advantages those with the means to pay people smugglers over vulnerable people who cannot.”

She also makes it clear she is expecting the migrants to stay in Rwanda:

“those who are resettled will be given support, including up to five years of training to help with integration, accommodation, and healthcare, so that they can resettle and thrive… the UK is making a substantial investment in the economic development of Rwanda.”

There has been a chorus of voices condemning the new policy from politicians, legal experts and refugee groups.

“Inhumane and cynical”, “unworkable and extortionate” – cross party condemnation

The Conservative peer Sayeeda Warsi called the scheme inhumane and cynical:

“This proposal of offshoring asylum seekers to Rwanda is ineffective and costly,” she said. “It’s also inhumane and shames our proud history as advocates of human rights and the refugee convention.

She said the plan was inconsistent with the UK’s “generous response” to the Ukraine crisis and described the timing of it as cynical and political.

Leader of the Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer said Boris Johnson wanted to “distract from his own lawbreaking” with the announcement of the asylum processing deal with Rwanda. He also described it as:

‘Unworkable, extortionate” and said “Britain deserves better”.

The British Red Cross executive director, Zoe Abrams, said the humanitarian network was “profoundly concerned” about the plans to “send traumatised people halfway round the world to Rwanda”.

“We are not convinced this drastic measure will deter desperate people from attempting to cross the Channel either. People come here for reasons we can all understand, like wanting to be reunited with loved ones, or because they speak the language. Making it harsher may do little to stop them risking their lives,” she said.

 The UN refugee agency has opposed the plans and said they could be challenged under the Refugee Convention.

“[The UN High Commissioner for Refugees] remains firmly opposed to arrangements that seek to transfer refugees and asylum seekers to third countries in the absence of sufficient safeguards and standards.

“Such arrangements simply shift asylum responsibilities, evade international obligations, and are contrary to the letter and spirit of the Refugee Convention,” said UNHCR’s assistant high commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs.

“People fleeing war, conflict and persecution deserve compassion and empathy. They should not be traded like commodities and transferred abroad for processing.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: LB Hounslow gives homeless camp on Turnham Green five days to disperse

See also: Four arrested in oil tanker protest at Chiswick roundabout

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.

 

LB Hounslow gives homeless camp on Turnham Green five days to disperse

Images above: the Christ Church encampment, LB Hounslow five day notice 

LB Hounslow has given the homeless people camping beside Christ Church on Turnham Green five days to disperse with the threat of police eviction should they fail to comply.

A notice issued by the Council has been attached to one of the tents since Monday morning (11 April). The notice highlights which byelaws the camp violates. Hounslow’s Byelaw 8 and 9 restricts the erection of structures and camping on parks and open spaces/ council housing land.

While Turnham Green itself is public land, the bit immediately around the church belongs to Christ Church. Though the land is owned by the church, the open space is maintained by contractors hired by the council, which gives LB Hounslow authority to disperse the camp.

The people living at the site have so far turned down approaches by LB Hounslow’s Outreach team, charities and the church to persuade them to move elsewhere, indicating their intention to stay put.

The Chiswick Calendar has tried on multiple occasions to speak with the people camping at the site, to better understand their reasons for remaining put. Each time they have not been present. On Wednesday afternoon (13 April), all tents were unzipped and unoccupied for a number of hours. Closer inspection of the camp revealed the Council’s letter attached to one of the tents.

“Our priority is the safety and welfare of the people living in the tents” says Hounslow Council

The Council’s notice states any offenders not complying with the byelaws ‘may be removed by an officer of the Council or a Police constable’ and that the Council will seek to ‘recover all costs related to damages or the enforcing breach of byelaws.’

A Hounslow Council spokesperson said it was ‘not possible to say at this stage’ how much the occupants might be expected to pay, should they be physically moved on. They reiterated alternative accommodation has been offered and declined, with the occupants apparently preferring to remain in the tents.

The spokesperson added:

“Our priority is the safety and welfare of the people living in the tents. Hounslow Council has been supporting the church as they try to find a positive resolution to the unauthorised use of their land.

“Unfortunately both the Council and the Church’s attempts to persuade the occupants of the tents to leave have so far been unsuccessful and further action is now necessary to resolve the situation.

“The council and our partner agencies have attempted to engage with the adults in the tents and have offered shelter at an alternative location. We will continue to attempt to talk to the occupants of the tents.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Christ Church Chiswick want homeless people camped on their land moved on

See also: Four arrested in oil tanker protest at Chiswick roundabout

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Man appears in court charged with rape of woman in Shepherds Bush

Detectives investigating the rape of a woman in Shepherds Bush have charged a man. Salad Ahmed Mohamed, 36, of Islington, was charged with one count of rape on Wednesday 13 April.

He was kept in custody to appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, 14 April. He has been remanded in custody to appear at Crown Court on a date and court to be arranged.

The charges follow an incident that was reported to have happened on Thursday, 7 April in Wormwood Scrubs, W12. A woman reported she had been assaulted in a vehicle and police appealed for the public’s help.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Man jailed for raping and filming woman in Ealing

See also: Ruth Cadbury MP calls on Government to close loophole causing ‘soaring energy bills’

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist).

Click here to support us.

Four arrested in oil tanker protest at Chiswick roundabout

Image above: Just Stop Oil protest at Chiswick Roundabout; still from video by ITV News

Four people were arrested after a group of protesters glued themselves to an oil tanker at Chiswick roundabout on Thursday morning (14 April). The activists, from the Just Stop Oil group, were protesting against our reliance on fossil fulels.

The protesters held banners in the middle of the carriageway and climbed on top of the Eddie Stobart vehicle as the driver stopped at a red light. Some stood in front of the driver and told him his tanker was being ambushed while others scrambled on top.

The tanker was in the middle of three lanes and quickly surrounded by police, causing traffic james in all directions. The location was well chosen to disrupt traffic on the intersection of the M4 and the north – south circular at the beginning of Chiswick High Rd.

The protest closed Chiswick Roundabout between the A4 and M4 and created tailbacks along the M4 from J2 (Brentford),  along the south circular to Kew Retail Park, and along the north circular to Gunnersbury Park.

Image above: Just Stop Oil protest at Chiswick Roundabout; still from video by ITV News

Police used a crane to reach the protesters and get them down. It was over an hour before a specialist unit arrived with a hydraulic platform. Arresting them, they gave the protesters a safety harness, helmet and protective goggles to wear while they lifted them off the tanker.

Protestors published a video of the incident in which one described the scene in mock David Attenborough style:

“Welcome to Black Planet, with me your host, David Attenborough Jr Jr.

“Here we have the strange homosapiens that wear the yellow jackets and the black jackets [police]. They follow the orders knowing full well that the order that they’re given will ultimately kill everything they love.

“But instead, they continue to protect the cans of black death [fuel] that get carted around… because they just love money so goddamn much.”

Image above: Just Stop Oil protest at Chiswick Roundabout; still from video by ITV News

Drivers vox popped by ITV news expressed frustration that their journey was being delayed, but others appeared  supportive.

“Fair play, they’re not causing anyone any harm are they?” said one.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Rock & Rose opening in Chiswick High Rd Tuesday 19 April

See also: Staveley Road – Park Road permanent barrier completed

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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

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

Andrea’s film review – Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Albus Dumbledore assigns Newt and his allies with a mission related to the rising power of Grindelwald. Out in cinemas now.

After the previous two films from the Fantastic Beasts franchise, my expectations were pretty low. Can you blame me? A cacophony of too many characters, most of them rather bland and all revolving around one of the most convoluted plots of any family-oriented film.

While this is still not quite at the level of any of the Harry Potter movies, I thought it was an improvement on the previous chapters. J.K. Rowling, probably coming to terms with some of her weaknesses as screenwriter, is now paired up with Steve Kloves, whose experience in Wizarding World is second to none, as he’s written seven of the eight “Harry Potter” movies (he only missed out on the fifth).

Gone are some of the many peripheral (pointless) characters and the central plot too seems to be a little bit more focused and slightly clearer this time around (though on the way out of the cinema I still heard people talking to one another asking about some of the slightly more obscure subplots and being utterly confused).

The first most apparent difference is of course in the casting of Mads Mikkelsen as the evil Grindelwald (replacing Johnny Depp only a week before production, following the former star’s libel case against the Sun).

While a choice was forced on the film, as opposed to being organic development, this last minute decision was an inspired one and it might very well have saved the series. Mikkelsen brings a whole new layer of menace to the role. His presence alone is truly terrifying in a way Dep never was and his chemistry with Jude Law is possibly one of the best things about the film.

Director David Yates takes it all very seriously, possibly too much (lighten up mate!), keeping the laughter down to a minimum, while preferring to keep the tone of the film dark and veeeery moody: an innocent deer-like creature is slaughtered right in front of our eyes, bodies are being torn apart by unseen monsters with tentacles in a sequence which seems straight out of an Alien movie and the parallels with Nazis as the Second World War gets closer to the timeline are now a lot more pronounced.

All of this takes us further and further away from the cuddly magic of the Potter films and from some of the most child-friendly imagery from the first Fantastic beasts, which makes me wonder whether JK knows who these films are actually for.

The Secret of Dumbledore is still too long, or at least it feels that way, as Yates seems to be so in love with close-ups of characters staring out at each other in “meaningful ways” for very long periods of time. Not to mention that “multi-ending syndrome” that many films these days suffer from, which seems to be alive and well here too.

As ever I’m using my son as a judge-o-meter for these types of films. He was a bit restless in a few scenes half-way through and at one point he even asked me how long was the film going to be. But he did find his grove during the most entertaining sequences, including the above mentioned monster with tentacles and an army of scorpion-like creatures (which also received possibly one the biggest laughs of all three films), and a fun diversion with some identical suitcases.

I’m still not particularly in love with this franchise (who is?), but at least this third film has not turned me off completely from seeing the next one. Three down, two to go.

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

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is out in cinemas right now.

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

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 – Operation Mincemeat

Operation Mincemeat ⭐️⭐️ 1/2  Review by Andrea Carnevali

During WWII, two intelligence officers use a corpse and false papers to outwit German troops. Out in cinemas, including Chiswick Cinema, from this Friday.

The true and relatively little-known story about a bizarre deception plan by the British during the Second World War at the expenses of Hitler’s troops, is a very intriguing set up. Whether there’s enough to fill a two-hour-plus movie, I’m not completely sure.

In fact it seems those same doubts must have gone through the minds of the film-makers too: Michelle Ashford’s script is padded with some really unnecessary storylines, including a very badly handled romantic subplot, which I could have definitely done without. These not only hurt the overall pacing and tension the film is trying to create, but they are also a distraction and take the focus away from the core of this otherwise fascinating story.

Director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin), wants to make an old-fashioned film with a timeless quality to it, but it all ends up feeling a bit dry and rather unimaginative. Madden relies a bit too heavily on dialogue and not enough on action. I’m not saying I needed to see bombastic explosions and fist fights, but I can’t help feeling there was a better film to be made from this stranger-than-fiction real story.

Interestingly a musical with a comedic twist has also been made from the same story. I wonder whether it would have worked better as a farce rather than a straight story.

In the film the endless discussions among the various key players acting behind the scenes to orchestrate the stunt after a while begin to feel repetitive and not even the strong British cast can help. Among the names in the film are Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Jason Isaacs, Simon Russell Beale as Winston Churchill and of course Colin Firth, who is usually a likeable presence, but here, playing a character who’s actually restrained in his emotions, comes across a little bit lifeless.

Look out for Johnny Flynn playing a Pre-Bond, young Ian Fleming, at that time a Naval intelligence officer involved with the operation. One wishes he’d also been involved with the script of this film: it would have certainly given it more bite.

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

Operation Mincemeat is out in cinemas this Friday.

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

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 – Procession

Procession ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

A group of survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests battle for justice. Available to watch on Netflix.

Tired of watching mediocre movies and since I’ve seen pretty much everything out there, I decided to check on Rotten Tomatoes some of the latest highest-rated films I might have missed..

This documentary released just at the end of 2021 popped up out of the blue. Its shiny 98% score and the fact that it was easily available on Netflix made it the perfect candidate.

Little did I know the emotional journey I was going to submit myself to.

It’s a film that blurs the lines between documentary and therapy. It chronicles how six middle-aged survivors from sexual abuse by Catholic priests from Kansas try to reclaim their lives by taking part in an unusual experiment.

In their battle for justice and their search for healing from the trauma they all experienced, accompanied by a crew of film makers and therapists, they embark on a series of workshops to eventually create and film fictional scenes from their abusive stories.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t go as far as one might fear and if the whole experiment sounds exploitative or intrusive, rest assured the perceptive and elegant direction by Robert Greene is almost invisible, allowing the “players” to work through their own often devastating memories.

They say images speak louder than words and Procession puts that to the test as the six men from Kansas start writing their “scripts”, hunt for locations, build film-sets, look for props and costumes, cast each other into the various roles and even have auditions for the role of a child victim and re-enter that painful space in order to face their ghosts, whether in a church, a bedroom, an isolated cabins by a lake or even during a meeting with an independent review board, which dismissed one of the cases.

In their re-telling they will go through cathartic experiences by either accepting the past, distancing themselves and even changing the outcome.

It’s interesting to notice that none of the stories have been judged by a court of law, nor any of the priests involved convicted (one is a fugitive and the others have died). We are meant to take these stories as truth and to be honest I have no reason to believe otherwise.

This is not so much a film about investigating crimes, nor a journalistic exposé on sexual abuse, nor does it want to be shocking for just for shock value. This is all about understanding the damage, the pain, its rippling effect and it’s about healing and recovery.

Amazingly this strange enterprise seems to work, at least for the six men involved in the documentary.

As you can imagine, it is not an easy watch, but, considering the subject matter it’s surprising how the director was able to find some occasional humour to filter through.

Of course, I did my share of crying, but at times I did feel that some of the conversations taking place were slightly forced to prove a point.

Also as a film I found it somewhat patchy and uneven, both in its execution and its construction.

But its message is so powerful and honest that I almost feel bad at criticising any aspect of this undoubtedly important and original work.

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

Procession is available to watch on Netflix.

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

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 

On Netflix