Car overturns near entrance to Chiswick House

Image above: collage of the crash posted on Twitter by Jeremy Vine

Man injured in incident and was taken to hospital

A car overturned on Burlington Lane near the gates to Chiswick House and Gardens on Wednesday morning (20 July), causing injuries to the driver.

The vehicle was travelling along the A316 when it flipped over, ending up on the pavement near the entrance to Chiswick House and Gardens opposite St. Mary’s Nursing Home and Convent around 6.44am.

An ambulance attended the scene and closure of the road by the police was not required given the location of the car.

A London Ambulance Service spokesperson said:

“We were called at 6.44am today (20 July) to reports of a road traffic collision on Burlington Lane, Chiswick.

“We sent an ambulance crew and a paramedic in a response car.

“Our medics treated a man and took him to hospital.”

Above: a Tweet from James Rodgers about the crash

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Côte Brasserie Chiswick reopens after refurbishment

See also: Engineering work set to cause further disruption to SWR services

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Andrea’s film review – Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Thirty years after their popular television show ended, chipmunks Chip and Dale live very different lives. When a cast member from the original series mysteriously disappears, the pair must reunite to save their friend. Available to watch on Disney+

It’s ironic that out of all the family releases in the past few months (Pixar, Marvel, Disney and so on), the funniest and most original and most clever of the lot is actually this “straight-to-streaming” little unassuming animated film about Chip & Dale. The film pays homage (as well as being a sort of sequel) to the TV series with the same name from the late ‘80s and ‘90s.

While the plot itself might not be the most refined and interesting thing in the film, the overall message is still a positive one, but for the most part, it’s the huge amount of cameos and in-jokes from anything that’s Disney and beyond as well as pop culture references from past and present cartoon icons that makes this such a surprising delight. I could fill a whole page just by mentioning all the appearances and I’m sure I would still miss some.

The film combines live action and different styles of animation, depicting a world lived in by both humans and cartoon characters, so reminiscent of Who Framed Roger Rabbit (incidentally Roger Rabbit appears too). Even the two heroes Chip and Dale actually appear differently from each other.

Dale’s look is in fact photorealistic computer-animation as opposed to a 2-D hand-drawn Chip, which leads to one of the many inspired jokes in the film: “I got CGI surgery”. Another one is about the “Uncanny Valley”, a place where all those early CG-animated characters go, with their dead eyes and stilted movements. Indeed some of the jokes as so niche that probably only real nerds like me will get.

The tone of the cartoon is anarchic, irreverent, and very self-referential. A lot of that will apply more to the adults watching this, rather than the kids themselves, but those will be captivated by the fast-faced action/adventure and content with the slapstick and comedy.

In short, this feels like a Disneyfied version of Ready Player One and it’s a rare example of something which aims a lot higher than the title might suggest and it is actually so much better than it has any right to be.

(… and it’ll make you want to go back and watch the TV series too!).

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

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers 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

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The Chiswick Calendar Freebie – Tickets to Jungle Book

Theatre on Kew

Kew Gardens is hosting two open-air theatre productions this summer. Sixteenfeet Productions present Twelfth Night, 29 July – 29 August (Wednesday – Sunday) and The Jungle Book, 23 July – 21 August (Tuesday – Sunday)

We have two tickets to give away to any performance of Jungle Book (subject to availability).

We will keep the competition open until midday on Sunday and select a winner at random. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is to answer this question:

In the 2016 film version of Jungle Book, who is the actor who plays Mowgli?

Please put ‘Jungle Book competition’ in the subject line of your email to info@thechiswickcalendar.co.uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick In Film festival planned for autumn 2022

See also: Dame Eileen Atkins heads line-up for Chiswick Book Festival 2022

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 In Film festival planned for autumn 2022

Image above: Julie Christie in Darling, (1965) 

Chiswick’s film heritage

Very often in Chiswick you see the road opposite the Town Hall or alongside St Paul’s Church Grove Park filled up with catering trucks and film location vehicles and you know sooner or later as you are watching a film or a TV series there will be a scene which is vaguely familiar. Filming is big business in Chiswick, bringing in millions of pounds a year.

You may also have glimpsed David Tennant, Hugh Grant or Colin Firth at a local supermarket or the gym. Chiswick is full of film industry people, not just actors but directors, producers, designers, scriptwriters … even Foster’s Books gets in on the act hiring out antique books for anything from Cyrano to the Barbie film.

Chiswick Cinema, celebrating its first birthday this summer, is hosting a Chiswick in Film festival over the weekend 30th September – 2nd October, in collaboration with The Chiswick Calendar website, film editor and part time reviewer Andrea Carnevali and scriptwriter Rob Sprackling.

We are currently working on the schedule of films, all of which will have some connection with Chiswick – either in the personnel involved or scenes which were shot here. Each will be screened with a speaker connected with the film to talk about the making of it.

The list to choose from is long. Did you know all these (and these are just some) had scenes shot in Chiswick?

The Servant (1963) Film starring Dirk Bogarde and Sarah Miles written by Harold Pinter (Chiswick House)

Darling (1965) – Beautiful but amoral model Diana Scott sleeps her way to the top of the London fashion scene at the height of the Swinging Sixties (Strand on the Green)

Quatermass and the Pitt (1967) – A mysterious artifact is unearthed in London, and famous scientist Bernard Quatermass is called into to divine its origins and explain its strange effects on people (the graveyard of St Nicholas Church)

Goodbye Mr Chips (1969) – A shy, withdrawn English schoolteacher falls for a flashy showgirl (Strand on the Green)

An American Werewolf in London (1981) – Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists (interiors shot at Chiswick maternity hospital – since demolished)

Love Actually (2003) – Feelgood movie about eight very different couples, loosely interrelated, but all in love (interiors Rupert Road & Blenheim Road)

De Lovely (2004) – Musical biopic of Cole Porter (Chiswick House)

Never Let me go (2010) – Dystopian drama based on the book by Kazuo Ishiguro (Chiswick Town Hall)

The Theory of Everything (2014) – Biographical film about the life of physicist Stephen Hawking (interiors shot at Grove Park Vicarage)

Time this heritage was celebrated!

The schedule of films and speakers will be published towards the end of August. For updates on the schedule keep an eye on the Chiswick Cinema and The Chiswick Calendar websites.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Dame Eileen Atkins heads line-up for Chiswick Book Festival 2022

See also: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

Chiswick Repair Cafe – first meeting

Image above: Interested parties at the Repair Cafe first meeting – sewing group

“Delighted with the response and enthusiasm”

The organisers of the Repair Cafe, planned for an autumn opening in Chiswick, were delighted with the turn out to their first meeting. They had asked people interested in the idea to come and hear about how the Repair Café will operate.

More than 30 people came to find out about the initiative, by four people who describe themselves as ‘Environmental Champions’, involved with various green initiatives around Chiswick.

The aim is to help to address the challenge of how we can move away from being a throw-away society.  The plan is to open a cafe in October where people can bring things to be mended.

“It’s a voluntary initiative to reduce waste, share repair skills and enhance the local community.  People bring broken/worn items to the Repair Café and the volunteers help them to mend it, or advise them on what else can be done.  Visitors pay for the parts and are asked to make a donation to the Repair Café running costs” the organisers told The Chiswick Calendar.

They plan to operate monthly on Saturdays, between10.30am -1pm, starting in October.

The people who came to the first public meeting last Saturday heard what the organisers had in mind and discussed in groups how they might each be able to contribute to the project. Pictured above is the sewing group and below, the carpentry group.

Image above: Interested parties at the Repair Cafe first meeting – carpentry group

When the cafe opens, the offering will depend on the volunteer skills available, but they hope to offer:

Small electrical /electronic repairs

Carpentry repairs (e.g. gluing chairs)

Toy repairs

Computers & laptops (not mobile phones)

Sewing repairs: mending /darning

Small bike repairs

“We were absolutely delighted with the response and enthusiasm of all the volunteers who attended our coffee morning” they said.

If anyone else would like to get involved, either with skills / knowledge to offer on on how to repair things, or to act as hosts / receptionists / to serve refreshments or to move furniture, please get in contact with them at chiswickrepaircafe@gmail.com.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Dame Eileen Atkins heads line-up for Chiswick Book Festival 2022

See also: Heatwave causes travel disruption

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.

Ten: How a “happy accident” led to an award-winning health & fitness business

Interview with founder / owner of Ten Health & Fitness, Joanne Mathews

Ten Health & Fitness is celebrating 15 years this year. Cited by publications such as Vogue and Time Out as being among the top Pilates studios in London, it bridges the gap between pure fitness / gym experiences and medical. Clients go to classes to keep their already perfect bodies toned, but also for support recuperating from accidents and medical procedures.

They have just introduced a new programme specifically for people who are recovering from long COVID. They also have training for pre and post-natal women and for women who have breast cancer.

As with so many good ideas for businesses, Ten Health & Fitness grew out of the direct experience of its founder / owner Joanne Mathews, looking for a service she needed which didn’t exist, so she created it.

She had what she now calls “a happy accident”, though it did not seem that way at the time. She had a car accident in 2006.

“I was driving home at 2am on the north circular when a woman smashed into the side of my car” she told The Chiswick Calendar.

The result was a fractured back and rotated pelvis.

“There was a lot of soft tissue damage. There was bruising from the impact of the airbag and whiplash as well.”

Image above: Reformer Pilates; Ten Health & Fitness

“The classic Pilates in places like town halls was not very accessible”

Inconceivably, she spent four hours at a hospital which sent her home and told her to take paracetamol. No X-rays, nothing. There followed a round of visits to GPs and orthopaedic consultants who demonstrated “contradictory decision making” and “the absolute lack of joined-up care”.

As a former county-level swimmer and squash player, sport and exercise had always played an important role in Joanne’s life but it took her two years to get back to her previous level of fitness.

She lost her job as head of marketing and PR for Habitat during that time and it was after a trip to a small rehab gym in Highgate run by a man who had trained with Los Angeles fitness guru Sebastien Lagree, that she decided to set up her own business.

“The classic Pilates in places like town halls was not very accessible. Sebastian Lagree made Reformer Pilates mainstream, fast-paced. It is amazing for building up core strength.”

When she started she found it hard to get funding because “no one understood it, we are a boutique provider.”

Image above: Reformer Pilates; Ten Health & Fitness

A multidisciplinary approach and a well-trained staff

When I was waiting for my hip operation, I did an exercise class which effectively stopped me walking altogether. It transpired I had done a quite gentle movement which had been exactly the wrong sort of movement for a dodgy arthritic hip. When I saw my chiropractor, who clicked me back to functionality again, he expressed his disdain for “people who don’t know what they are doing” and Pilates instructors in particular.

I asked Joanne how I could be sure her training programmes wouldn’t do me further damage. A multidisciplinary approach and lots of training was the answer.

“We only employ staff who have PT level three and above” she said. The personal training qualification is the industry standard. Taking that as the baseline, they employ staff who have a Sports Science degree, a Ballet degree or equivalent and then give them eight weeks training and continue to update the training at regular intervals.

Ten Health & Fitness have physiotherapists and kinesiologists on the staff who use evidence-based research to treat and prevent injury and to improve movement and performance. They have clinical exercise classes designed for people who have had life-changing accidents or illnesses. They also have a system which flags up clients’ medical history so the person taking the exercise class can see the notes from the physio on the team.

Image above: Personal trainer consultation; Ten Health & Fitness

Having the self-discipline to keep going to classes

It all sounds marvellous but for someone who hasn’t historically enjoyed exercise and wouldn’t know an endorphin if it bit them, I asked her how do you overcome the initial fear of walking in there in the first place, braving the company of the chiselled and the toned, and how do you then make yourself do it on a regular basis?

Surprisingly, keeping it up is something she has grappled with herself.

“I fell out of love with it because I realised I was never going to be back to where I was” she told me, “but then I realised at 50 I shouldn’t be where I had been before.”

It is important to adapt to the changes in your body, and not give up. Having someone else monitoring your regime and keeping you honest definitely helps, which is why the personal training in the UK is worth £635.5 million.

Ten offers a “thoughtful” consumer experience she said. There are beginners, intermediate and advanced classes and though you may have been in the advanced class last week if you’re not feeling it this week you can go to a beginners or an intermediate class instead.

Image above: Massage session; Ten Health & Fitness

Chiswick studio one of Ten’s longest established

Joanne opened her first studio in Notting Hill in 2007; Chiswick was her second a year later. Based in the Barley Mow Centre, Barley Mow Passage, just behind the High Rd, it was refurbished last year to provide separate spaces for one-on-one sessions with physiotherapists and massages as well as exercise classes.

Ten is so-called because they keep the classes small, limited to ten people so the instructors can give individual attention. They are best known for Dynamic Reformer Pilates, using machines, as opposed to mat Pilates.

Having built the business up to the point where she owned studios in nine locations with 180 staff, opening studios at the rate of one a year or every other year, with branches in the City (Liverpool Street), Fitzrovia, Hatton Garden, Little Venice, St James’s, Tottenham Court Rd and Mayfair, when everything came to a grinding halt because of Covid they went online and still offer on-demand and live-streamed classes.

Now the business is expanding again. Joanne has opened her tenth studio at Notting Hill Gate, the next will open at Nine Elms in August and she plans to open another at Kings Cross at the end of the year.

Ten Health and Fitness is a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme. See the package of offers for Club Card holders here: Ten Health & Fitness Club Card offer

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Dame Eileen Atkins heads line-up for Chiswick Book Festival 2022

See also: Review: Dreaming the Impossible – The battle to create a non-racial sports world by Mihir Bose

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.

Dame Eileen Atkins heads line-up for Chiswick Book Festival 2022

Images above: Books by Dame Eileen Atkins, Chris Patten and Justin Webb

Will She Do? Act One of a Life on the Stage

One of the grande dames of British theatre, Dame Eileen Atkins, heads the line-up for the Chiswick Book Festival this year. The actress and occasional screenwriter who lives at Strand on the Green is a BAFTA and Emmy award winner and a three-time Olivier award winner.

Her memoir Will She Do? Act One of a Life on the Stage is the story of a girl from a council estate in Tottenham, born in 1934 to an electric-meter reader and a seamstress, who was determined to be an actress.

‘Candid and witty, this memoir takes her from her awkward performances in working-men’s clubs at six years of age as dancing ‘Baby Eileen’, through the war years in London, to her breakthrough at thirty-two on Broadway with The Killing of Sister George, for which she received the first of four Tony Award nominations.’

She co-created Upstairs, Downstairs and wrote the screenplay for Mrs Dalloway (for which she won an Evening Standard Award) and at the age of eighty-six, this is her first autobiographical work.

Images above: Books by Ronnie Archer-Morgan, Jeremy Bowen and Revd Richard Coles

BBC Centenary

Many of the authors at the festival this year are connected in one way or another to the BBC. Director of the Chiswick Book Festival Torin Douglas says:

“As a former BBC correspondent I am delighted to announce that this year’s festival will celebrate the Corporation’s centenary with a range of BBC authors.”

The list includes Ronnie Archer-Morgan of Antiques Roadshow, The Revd Richard Coles of Radio 4’s Saturday Live, the BBC’s Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen, former chairman Chris Patten and Today programme presenter Justin Webb talking to Jane Garvey about his book The Gift of Radio.

As you might expect from a former news correspondent, Torin always puts together a schedule with author programme director Jo James which is strong in the current affairs department.

Chris Patten will be talking about his time as the last British governor of Hong Kong, negotiating the handover to China in 1997. The Hong Kong Diaries describes in detail how Hong Kong was run as a British colony and what happened as the handover approached. The book gives ‘unprecedented insights into negotiating with the Chinese.’

He describes how it came as a surprise to him that some British businessmen were more concerned with not upsetting the Chinese than they were about safeguarding the institutions of democracy.

The book concludes with an account of what has happened in Hong Kong since the handover, ‘a powerful assessment of recent events and Patten’s reflections on how to deal with China – then and now.’

Jeremy Bowen’s book The Making of the Modern Middle East takes us on a journey across the Middle East and through its history.

‘He meets ordinary men and women on the front line, their leaders, whether brutal or benign, and he explores the power games that have so often wreaked devastation on civilian populations as those leaders, whatever their motives, jostle for political, religious and economic control.’

Images above: Books by Nick Higham, Mihir Bose and Alex Gerlis

Politics, current affairs, sport, fiction …

Nick Higham, formerly the BBC’s media correspondent, has written a book about the struggle throughout history to provide cities with clean water. His book The Mercenary River is a tale of ‘remarkable technological, scientific and organisational breakthroughs; but also a story of greed and complacency, high finance and low politics.’

Mihir Bose, formerly the BBC’s sports news editor, has written on race and sport. Mihir now hosts a podcast on The Chiswick Calendar Three Old Hacks, with friends David Smith, Economics Editor of the Sunday Times and Nigel Dudley, political analyst.

You can read a review of his book Dreaming the impossible: The battle to create a non-racial sports world and an interview with him here.

Historian Robert Seatter will discuss the BBC’s remarkable past and its uncertain future with Will Wyatt, former CEO of BBC Broadcast.

The book festival programme is broad-ranging, bringing together top authors and their readers for a week of history, poetry, biography, fiction, thrillers and writing about food, wine and gardening.

Alex Gerlis (another ex BBC journalist) will be talking about his new thriller Agent in Peril, while novelists Adele Parks and Sadie Jones will be talking about their latest books.

Images above: Books by Adele Parks, Sadie Jones and Greg James and Chris Smith

‘Best beach read of summer 2022’

Adele Parks’ book One Last Secret is being promoted as the ‘best beach read of summer 2022’ from the Sunday Times number one bestselling author of Both of You.

‘A week at a beautiful chateau in the south of France – it should be a straightforward final job for Dora. She’s a smart, stunning and discreet escort and Daniel has paid for her services before. This time, all she has to do is convince the assembled guests that she is his girlfriend. Dora is used to playing roles and being whatever men want her to be. It’s all about putting on a front.

‘It will be a last, luxurious look at how the other half lives, before Dora turns her back on the escort world and all its dangers. She has found someone she loves and trusts. With him, she can escape the life she’s trapped in. But when Dora arrives at the chateau, it quickly becomes obvious that nothing is what it seems…

Sadie Jones’ book Amy and Lan is described as ‘Fabulous: vivid and funny, sometimes heart-rendingly sad’ by the Guardian. The story is about two girls ‘having the best childhood’, growing up on a West Country farm with parents who are best friends also, originally from the city.

‘Jones’s evocation of childhood is spot-on: its fierce passions, disaffections, loyalties and suffering’ says the Financial Times.

As always there is something for children. Radio 1 breakfast presenter and children’s author Greg James will lead a storytelling session with Chris Smith.

Chiswick Book Festival will take place from Wednesday 7 – Wednesday 14 September. Tickets go on sale Tuesday 26 July. Early Bird tickets available now for Waterstones Local Authors Party, Wednesday 7 September, Dame Eileen Atkins, Thursday 8 September and Prizegiving for the Young People’s Poetry Competition, Friday 9 September.

chiswickbookfestival.net

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Review: Dreaming the Impossible – The battle to create a non-racial sports world by Mihir Bose

See also: Boris’s legacy – Peter Oborne

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.

Heatwave causes travel disruption

Image above: Library picture SWR train 

Luton airport cancels flights; Gatwick Express trains also cancelled

Luton airport has suspended all departures and arrivals to allow for “an essential runway repair after high surface temperatures caused a small section to lift.”

The Gatwick Express has been suspended and there will be no Thameslink services from Kings Cross or Moorgate on Tuesday (19 July). LNER has also cancelled all afternoon and early evening trains on Tuesday, as temperatures soar.

Transport operators serving London have urged customers only to travel if “absolutely necessary” during the record-breaking temperatures forecast for this week. The Met Office issued a red weather warning for extreme heat in parts of the country on Monday and Tuesday, with temperatures forecast to reach as high as 40°C in some areas, including London.

Very hot temperatures can affect rails, overhead power lines and signalling equipment. Track temperature checks are being carried out regularly across the Tube and rail networks to ensure they remain safe and that the track is not at risk of bending or buckling.

Network Rail and Transport for London have placed speed restrictions across the capital’s train network to ensure the safe running of trains, which could lead to significant disruption to services. Operators have issued revised timetables for their services.

Image above: Northfields Train Depot

Only 40% Tube trains have air conditioning

Transport for London is advising customers who do decide to travel to check their journeys before travelling and to ensure they are well-prepared, wearing cool clothes, taking handheld fans and ensuring they have plenty of water to drink. ‘Vulnerable passengers and those with health conditions should avoid travelling on these days.’

Great Western Railway and South Western Railway are allowing people with tickets to trave Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 July to use their tickets instead on Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 July, when the temperatures are expected to be cooler.

TfL say they are working hard to keep as many services running as possible. They are inspecting the air conditioning units on the Tube trains that have them.

Only 40 per cent of the Tube network has air conditioning. While trains on newer services such as the Elizabeth Line have it, on older lines such as the Piccadilly and Central lines there is none, a fact picked picked picked up by the New York Times today under the headline ‘England’s transportation network strains under the heat.’

Image above: Library image, train tracks in a hot summer

Expect short-notice cancellations and disruption, says SWR 

The speed restrictions on South Western Railway, which services Chiswick station, will particularly affect mainline services, with long-distance services to Exeter, Salisbury, Bournemouth, Weymouth, Southampton and Portsmouth most likely to be affected.

SWR’s Customer Experience Director, Christian Neill, said:

“These unprecedented temperatures will pose a significant challenge to the national railway infrastructure and we’re sorry for the impact they will have on our services on Monday and Tuesday.

“We are working on a reduced timetable that provides certainty for our customers, but changes are likely to come at relatively short notice, so if you do choose to travel, please check your journey as close to your time of travel as possible.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Engineering work set to cause further disruption to SWR services

See also: Côte Brasserie Chiswick reopens after refurbishment

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.

Barnes Bridge Walkway main section comes upriver from Tilbury Docks

Image above: Barnes Bridge Walkway main section being loaded at Tilbury Docks

Due to be installed at high tide on Sunday 24 July

The main span of the new bridge being built as a walkway to connect the towpath underneath Barnes Railway Bridge has been loaded onto a pontoon at Tilbury docks, ready to be brought upstream to be installed.

The bridge span is due to leave Tilbury for Dukes Meadows at 2am on Saturday 23 July. It expected to arrive at Dukes Meadows at lunchtime that day, mooring at Chiswick Pier, ready to be installed around noon on Sunday 24 July.

The plan is to float the structure in at high tide and then, as the tide recedes, the span will seat itself on its foundations.

This is what it will look like in situ.

Image above: Computer generated image of what the new footbridge underneath Barnes railway bridge will look like; Moxon Architects

“A wonderful engineering triumph” – Cllr John Todd

Moxon Architects created the initial design of the bridge and engineering firm Cowi has taken the design forward alongside construction partners Knights Brown. The bridge span has been constructed off site at Sittingbourne.

The bridge is one of the lowest carbon and most environmentally conscious bridges in the UK, according to its designer.

Cllr John Todd, who has overseen the project on behalf of LB Hounslow told The Chiswick Calendar he was delighted that after four years’ work the project was coming to fruition.

“It’s a wonderful engineering triumph” he said.

Until now pedestrians have had to leave the towpath, cut in land and make quite a big detour to continue their journey on the towpath the other side of Barnes Railway Bridge. All this year engineers have been working on laying the foundations, a task which has taken longer than expected because of the shape of the riverbed.

Once the main span is in place there is still a couple of months’ more work to be done before the new walkway is completed and ready for use.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Preparations made to clear the way for building new footbridge

See also: Barnes Bridge Walkway delayed by a 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.

St Pauls vicar Michael Riley retires after 33 years

Image above: Rev Michael Riley

Parishioners gather to say goodbye as vicar takes his last service

Reverend Michael Riley, who has been the vicar of St Paul’s Church Grove Park since 1989, has retired.

Michael’s farewell service on Sunday (17 July) was well-attended by parishioners wanting to thank him for his decades of service to the community.

Under Michael’s tenure as vicar, the church’s congregation has grown, something which Cassandra Barker, one of St Paul’s churchwardens, told The Chiswick Calendar was thanks to Michael’s engagement with the local community.

“The church was quite poorly attended when he joined”, Cassandra said, “he’s raised attendance phenomenally… Attendance in the church was around five to eight people before he came.

“[He started] Children’s Church and a Youth Club and has fostered a great deal of music and festival type things the gardens.”

Image above: parishioners gather for Rev Riley’s farewell service in St Paul’s garden on Sunday (17 July)

Festivals and concerts

St Paul’s Church Grove Park has regularly held concerts and festivals, including GroveStock, which became a popular annual community music festival until in stopped in 2013. This church has recently celebrated 150 years of the building itself and the area which grew up around it in Victorian times.

Among the events to mark the anniversary St Paul’s has hosted a Flower Festival, with displays by other local churches, horticultural and community groups and schools. The church has hosted a comedy night, a poetry evening and performances by local musicians.

Cassandra praised Michael’s inclusive attitude over his 33 year tenure, which she said was another reason for church’s popularity.

Image above: parishioners gather for Rev Riley’s farewell service in St Paul’s garden on Sunday (17 July)

“He’s always been a very tolerant priest”

In the early 1990s, a section of Michael’s congregation broke off and joined a different church, because they were uncomfortable with his tolerance of homosexuality.

While a “substantial” number of people remained loyal to St Paul’s and to Michael, Cassandra said the incident had been “distressing”.

“Conflict within your own group is distressing”, Cassandra told The Chiswick Calendar, “you know, the church carried on, the group left and the church carried on … 80 people turning up yesterday to say goodbye to him, it was a very substantial group that remained.

“He’s always been a very tolerant priest., he has accepted people into his community.

“Whereas some other parishes are more demanding, more judgemental, he has not been judgemental, he has accepted anybody who wishes to come into his community.”

“He’s always been a very good listener”, Cassandra added, “so people who want to talk privately about problems they’ve experiencing have been able to talk to him.”

Image above: Shaun Evans as Inspector Morse in the TV series Endeavour

St Paul’s regular site for film crews

St Paul’s, its vicarage and its enclosed garden are also often used as a location by film companies, and the work raises valuable funds for the parish, Cassandra told us. The vicarage features heavily in the TV series Endeavour, which follows the story of a young inspector Morse.

Scenes from the movie Sylvia (2003) in which Gwyneth Paltrow plays poet Sylvia Plath, were also filmed at the Grove Park church and vicarage.

Filming in the vicarage and on church grounds rakes in “substantial amounts of money” for the church, Cassandra said.

“Michael has had some filming in his house. Michael has often generously given the proceeds to the church. Filming has been quite regular, about two, three, four times a year.

“There hasn’t been filming in the church because in the church you have to ask permission from the diocese. They like to know what the film is going to be about and if they don’t approve of it then there won’t be any filming in the church.

“It’s made substantial amounts of money for the church, which has been very welcome.”

Image above: Rev Michael Riley poses with a parishioner Bea Vickers on Sunday (17 July)

Commenting on why he decided to retire early, Cassandra said:

“33 years is a long time, he feels quite wistful. He is, well aren’t we all, getting older. I think he just felt it was time to go, he’s going to a clergy college in Bromley. He reads a lot, he walks a lot, he loves to travel and he will have more time for that.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Pub in the Park unveils menus for 2-4 September Chiswick weekend

See also: Côte Brasserie Chiswick reopens after refurbishment

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Engineering work set to cause further disruption to SWR services

Image above: Chiswick Station; photograph Michael Nolan

Work to modernise railway signals will temporarily disrupt services

South Western Railway services will be further disrupted this summer by planned engineering works between Hounslow and Barnes.

As part of a programme to improve reliability by upgrading signalling, Network Rail engineers will be working on the line between Saturday 13 to Tuesday 16 August. Buses will replace trains on that line for those four days. Stations affected include Chiswick, Brentford, Kew Bridge, Isleworth and Syon Lane.

The closure coincides with the game between Brentford and Manchester United at the Brentford Community Stadium on Saturday 13 August, so fans will have to make alternative plans for getting to and from the match.

The work in August, on the section of railway known as the Hounslow Loop, will see bases for new signals installed and new cabling. The programme, due to finish in 2024, is replacing fault-prone 1970s signalling infrastructure which controls the safe movement of trains, with a modern equivalent that should be much more reliable.

Once all those renewals and upgrades have been completed, Network Rail will move control of the signalling system from Feltham and Wokingham to the Wessex Rail Operating Centre (ROC) in Basingstoke.

The project reached the halfway stage over the May bank holiday when new signalling kit was switched on in the Ascot and Virginia Water area, with new signalling technology on the Hounslow Loop set to go live in August next year 2023, before the final phase in Wokingham is switched on in 2024.

Image above: Network Rail engineers

Decision to close the railway for four days “has not been taken lightly”

Network Rail’s managing director for Wessex route, Mark Killick, said:

“This is part of a massive £375m scheme to improve the railway in the area. Resignalling schemes like this one, and the track work that goes with it, are one of the best ways we have of improving the reliability of our network, so it’s really important we do the job and I’m grateful to our customers for their patience.

“By doing this work over four days, rather that splitting it up between weekends, means we can get much more done and we can make more progress on improving the railway with less disruption to our customers.”

Christian Neill, customer experience director for South Western Railway, said:

“The modernisation work that Network Rail is carrying out will significantly boost the reliability and performance of the railway for many years to come.

“The decision to close the railway for four days, including two working days on the Monday and Tuesday, has not been taken lightly. We urge all customers intending to travel from Saturday morning until the end of Tuesday to check before they travel and make use of the alternative transport options available.

“We’d like to thank those customers impacted by these works for their patience and understanding as this vital upgrade is carried out.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Heatwave causes travel disruption

See also: Côte Brasserie Chiswick reopens after refurbishment

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.

Review: Dreaming the Impossible – The battle to create a non-racial sports world by Mihir Bose

How the Black Lives Matter campaign has been a catalyst for change

Mihir Bose is optimistic. Cautiously optimistic, but hopeful none the less that the institutions which govern sport in Britain are finally waking up to what needs to be done to tackle racism.

His book Dreaming the ImpossibleThe battle to create a non-racial sports world is full of accounts from sports men and women and administrators of their experiences from the 1970s onwards, beginning with his own of being pursued the length of a train packed with hostile football supporters by a large, fat Arsenal fan wielding a baseball bat and shouting ‘Coon, Coon, hit the coon over the head with a baseball bat.’

He survived to tell the tale and has written for the Evening Standard, the Financial Times, the Sunday Times and been Sports News editor of the BBC as well as writing 50 books – one for each of his years in journalism.

It was the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman in May 2020 and the Black Lives Matter movement which has concentrated minds, he tells The Chiswick Calendar.

“In 50 years in journalism I haven’t seen such extensive coverage of race as over the last two years.”

Without wishing to diss his colleagues, he says journalists, overwhelmingly white, did not see racism as an issue and sportsmen on the receiving end of racism did not want to talk about it.

Images above: Ebony Rainford-Brent; Michael Holding; pictures Sky Sports

A watershed moment

When the hugely respected Jamaican cricketer Michael Holding broke down in tears talking about the Black Lives Matter movement on Sky Sports in July 2020, talking with Ebony Rainford-Brent, the first Black woman to play cricket for the England women’s team and presenter Ian Ward ‘I could not believe what I was seeing’ Mihir writes. It was a watershed moment.

Sky had made a film about race in sport because Ebony had herself dissolved into tears in a production meeting discussing race and told her colleagues how she felt. She told Mihir:

“I talked about the fact that you walk into many rooms and you’re the only one of colour. [I said] in this industry you may be in front of a screen but often you go behind the scenes – I’ve been 25 years in the game – and it’s all white.”

She had watched the full eight minutes of video footage of Floyd’s murder, saying “I can’t breathe” with Derek Chauvin’s knee on his neck and her breakdown in the production meeting had been the culmination of several weeks of thinking about it.

“The pandemic in that sense helped” she told Mihir, “because we all watched it. Normally that would have been a quick jaunt, a quick story, and then it all got back to everything else. Whereas now it a was a time to reflect on something really, really important.”

It is telling that she thought the reaction to their film would be negative.

Mihir recognises this reticence. “Black and non-white people have not felt they could come out and say these things without being pigeonholed as having a chip on their shoulder” he told me.

It gave Ebony the opportunity to address the issue that “racism is a huge elephant in the room. I know it exists. Unconscious bias exists. All these inequalities exist, but it wasn’t recognised.”

Image above: Paul Elliott; Mark Bullingham; pictures Football Association

Changes to the selection of leaders in the FA

The kind of racism she describes there is institutional, often unconscious and unintentional but the kind of situation which arises when jobs change hands as people recommend their friends. If White professionals don’t have Black friends then Black people do not get those opportunities.

Mark Bullingham, chief executive of the FA, also saw the video of Floyd’s death.

“From our point of view, it put things on the agenda and allowed a momentum for change that we can see something positive coming out of” he told Mihir.

The weekend after Floyd’s murder he had a conversation with Paul Elliott, Chelsea’s first Black captain and FA Council member. The result was a new leadership diversity code which they put together in a matter of months.

“Normally you spend a few weeks putting together the terms of reference.”

The code lays down specific numbers of people from Black, Asian, mixed heritage and females who have to be appointed to senior leadership.

Image above: Graham Southgate; image from YouTube

Changes in the leadership style of the England team

Graham Southgate has also tackled racism head on.

“What he’s done and how he’s reacted has been amazing” Mihir tells me.

“He has been outstanding in the way he has dealt with this in a way others haven’t.”

‘Southgate came into football when many whites who ran the English game were convinced Blacks could never play football. But, as manager of England, he has shown an awareness of race which is exemplary’ he writes.

Raheem Sterling interviewed him when he was asked to guest edit the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4. He explained how he had begun to change his views on racism in football as a result of the racial abuse Danny Rose and Sterling had suffered during the match against Montenegro in 2019.

“I wasn’t aware of it until very close to the end when Danny got booked and there was a reaction from the crowd. So, when we got to the changing room I am having a go at Danny for being booked, and I had to apologise on the plane because it emerged that this [abuse] had been going on during the game. I didn’t like the fact that the boys felt they couldn’t mention it in the changing room at half time or report it.”

Image above: Luther Blissett; Good News Jamaica Facebook

Luther Blissett – “players spat on me”

This takes us right back to the 1970s and the early chapters of Mihir’s book where he interviews player after player who was abused, spat on and subjected to monkey chants by opposing fans.

Mihir wrote an earlier book on racism in sport The Sporting Alien, 25 years ago, and returned to many of the interviewees.

In the early days when they might be the only Black player on the team, managers’ advice was to ignore the chants.

Luther Blissett, a ‘legend’ at Watford who played 14 times for England was told by Graham Taylor, his manager at Watford:

‘Concentrate on your game, play your game and stick the ball into the net.’

Unlike Graham Southgate’s approach, which encourages the team to act as one to support Black players, Blissett was left to deal with it alone.

“If people spat at me, I ignored it” he told Mihir. “Players did spit on me, in isolated instances in the league, or supporters when I was going for a corner. As long as it was not against me in the face. But if anybody spat at me and it hit me in the face, I would have turned on them. Then the gloves came off.”

Image above: Kick It Out logo

Brendon Batson – “the authorities did nothing”

Brendon Batson, who played for West Bromwich Albion, remembered:

“The National Front were recruiting at football grounds. We saw them as we came up in our coach to the ground. In their bovver boots and their Union Jack. And as we were getting off the coach they would hurl abuse at us. They would spit on our jackets. There was no protection. The authorities did nothing.”

He tried to become a football manager when he retired from playing in the early 1980s: “but I never really got a chance. … Our generation was too early for becoming managers.”

The Kick It Out campaign tried hard to stamp out racism at football grounds and many thought the days of overt racist abuse were over.

Paul Camillin, who wrote a book about the first 100 years of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, says:

“I felt we had made terrific progress and then Brexit happened, and all of a sudden you feel a little bit like you’re back to square one.”

Social media is the latest vehicle for abuse from those armchair warriors who feel they can publish vile comments in the safety of anonymity.

Mo Farah, who has recently revealed he was trafficked to this country as a child, told the BBC only last year:

“I’ve had some shocking [messages]. I’ve had ‘You don’t belong’. It seems like it’s getting worse.”

Image above: Ian Wright; Facebook photograph

Hoping for a better future

Mihir writes about a sea change which happened in English football when Andy Gray, Tony Finnigan, Ian Wright and Chris Powell were brought in to play for Crystal Palace and Black players had some safety in numbers.

He writes about ‘the three sporting musketeers of change’ – the impact Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Lewis Hamilton have made on the public debate, not only within their sport but in wider society.

He addresses the lack of Asian players in football and the fallout from Azeem Rafiq speaking out about long term abuse at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

“Before speaking out I have been in pretty dark places” he told Mihir in August 2021. “The last 12 months have been very difficult. I wish I had come out earlier. But if I had spoken earlier, say I had spoken as a 19-year-old, would anyone have listened to me? Probably not.”

Isa Guha, the first woman of Asian heritage to play cricket for England, now a commentator for Test Match Special, feels the same way Mihir does. He writes:

‘When I ask whether we will achieve a non-racial sports world, she says “I have seen enough to be positive about the future. So I shall say yes”.’

Mihir Bose will be speaking at the Chiswick Book Festival this September (tickets go on sale 26 July).

You can pick up a copy of his book in Waterstones or in independent bookstore Bookcase London on Chiswick High Rd. Bookcase London is a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Station House pub reopens under new management

See also: Jeremy Vine tells court of “avalanche of hatred” directed at him by stalker

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 Railway Children Return

The Railway Children Return ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

A group of children are evacuated to a Yorkshire village during the Second World War, where they encounter a young soldier who, like them, is far away from home. Out in cinemas now.

This is officially a sequel of the original British classic from 52 years ago, but the story itself can really stand of its own and you certainly don’t need to have seen the previous film (nor any of the iterations of the original story) in order to follow what’s going on.

The only real connection to The Railway Children is the presence of Jenny Agutter, who had previous played Bobbie both in the BBC serial from 1968 and the film from 1970. She also played her mum in the adaptation for ITV in 2000.

Over half a century later she reprises the role of Bobbie, now a grandmother, as the story is set in 1944 in the threatening shadow of the second World War. Fans of the original are likely to get a little emotional as Bobbie at some point, when asked by her daughter “Do you remember arriving, mum?”, she murmurs “It’s like it was yesterday”.

Beyond those slight connections to the past (let’s be honest, Jenny Agutter is hardly in it and her role in inconsequential to the plot), this is just an excuse to cash in on that sense of nostalgia for classic stories from the past.

Despite the time jump from Edwardian times to WW2, the story follows some of the same beats from the original: this time three children who are evacuated from Manchester to a Yorkshire village in order to be kept safe for possible bombing. They are fostered by Bobbie, her daughter (Sheridan Smith), and her grandson (Austin Haynes).

During their time here they come across a kid named Abe, a black US army soldier who had signed up at the age of 14 to follow in the footsteps of his brother into war, but eventually defected after a racist attack by his own group.

Potentially there’s a lot of interesting themes and threads here, but the film keeps things rather light and dare-I-say a bit superficial. The racist subplot is clumsily handled and it feels more like an afterthought, but the rest of the story, albeit predictable, is still rather charming and has a nice old-fashion quality to it, both in its look and its pace: a refreshing and welcome break from most the latest family offerings out there.

The cinematography around the Yorkshire countryside is beautiful and gives a lovely idyllic feel to the world around the children, in contrast with the war happening around them.

It is a sweet and innocent enough film, though probably a bit too quiet and discreet and in the end not very memorable. It’s hard to see how it’ll manage to find an audience with all those loud Marvel films, the new Minions and The Sea Beast sweeping across all media.

As we came out of our screening my son started asking me all sorts of questions about the war. For that alone, it was worth the trip.

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

The Railway Children Return is out in cinemas 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.

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Station House pub reopens under new management

Image above: Chris Beauchamp and Katherine Griffiths getting ready to open the Station House

A traditional boozer

The Station House pub in Grove Park is due to reopen in the next few days. Chris Beauchamp has taken over the tenancy. His company Two Pillars will run it in partnership with Punch, the pub and bar operator which has some 1,300 leased pubs across the UK.

Chris told The Chiswick Calendar they were aiming for the evening of Friday 15 July but rather than put themselves under too much pressure they had decided on a “soft launch”, ie. opening the doors to the public whenever they have unpacked the last of the boxes.

The pub will be run by manager Katherine Griffiths and they plan to run it as a good old-fashioned boozer.

“It has such beautiful classic pub charm, we just want to keep as much as possible of that” said Kat.

They will be serving drinks only until mid-August – London Pride and Chiswick bitter – and hope to start offering food on 15 August once the kitchen refurbishment is finished.

“We’ll be serving tapas style food and British pub classics” said Kat, “but it won’t be a gastro pub.”

Image above: The Station House pub, Grove Park

Both Katherine and Chris have family in Chiswick. Chris was born in Hammersmith and grew up in Brentford, so they know the area well. Chris trained with Fuller’s and has been managing pubs for 15 years. He and Kat have worked together for several years.

There has been quite a bit of work to do on the pub to get it ready to open: fixing the ceilings, dealing with damp and sanding the floors. All that’s left now is the boxes, which on Thursday evening were still piled high.

They have taken over the tenancy from landlords who have tried several times to get planning permission to reduce the ground floor bar area and refurbish the upstairs as flats. The building is listed and each application so far has been turned down. The last tenants closed the pub when the pandemic started and it has remained empty and boarded up for a couple of years.

A new sign on the wall promising a packed summer of events is not to be taken too seriously. Standard issue from Punch, Chris says the most they aspire to in the near future is a pub quiz.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Pub in the Park unveils menus for 2-4 September Chiswick weekend

See also: Côte Brasserie Chiswick reopens after refurbishment

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.

Jeremy Vine tells court of “avalanche of hatred” directed at him by stalker

Image above: Jeremy Vine

“The Jimmy Savile of trolling”

Broadcaster Jeremy Vine told a court he had been subjected to an “avalanche of hatred” from former BBC Radio Leeds presenter Alex Belfield, who has been charged with eight counts of stalking against Vine and other BBC employees.

Opening the Crown’s case against Belfield at Nottingham crown court, the presenter of shows on BBC Radio 2 and Channel 5, who lives in Chiswick, said Mr Belfield had bombarded him with harassing tweets and YouTube videos.

He told the jury: “This is not a regular troll here. This is the Jimmy Savile of trolling.

“Watching this man [on YouTube] is like swimming in sewage.

“I thought, ‘It’s absolutely disgusting’ … I found it shocking and distressing and it made me worried.”

Mr Belfield has more than half a million followers on his social media channels. The court heard how he started out as a broadcast assistant on local radio but in recent years set up a YouTube channel called Celebrity Radio.

He is accused of causing serious harm or distress to Jeremy Vine, Stephanie Hirst, a former BBC Radio Leeds mid-morning show host, and Bernie Keith, of BBC Radio Northampton. He denies eight counts of stalking, alleged to have been committed between 2012 and 2021, including three counts relating to two managers.

Image above: Alex Belfield

Stalker affected Jeremy Vine’s family

Mr Vine told the court he had been stalked before:

“I have in the past had a physical stalker who followed me. That is a picnic compared to this guy. It’s like an avalanche of hatred that you get hit by.”

He described how it had affected his family too. He had had to explain to his younger daughter, then 13, that he was worried one of Belfield’s 500,000 online followers could “have a knife or acid or something”.

“I saw her shrink” he said.

It was a year before she regained her confidence in leaving the family home, he added.

“She’s his victim as well, and he doesn’t even know her name.”

He told the court he had received 5,000 to 10,000 hateful tweets after the defendant’s comments.

“I was brought so low. I just thought, ‘There’s no point broadcasting if the effect is that I’ve got this’.”

Mr Bellfield denies the charges. The case continues.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Rail strikes announced for July and August

See also: Chiswick-based ‘antenatal guru’ Christine Hill dies

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 Terminal List

The Terminal List ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

A former Navy SEAL officer investigates why his entire platoon was ambushed during a high-stakes covert mission. The Terminal List is streaming now on Prime.

Based on a book by real-life Seal Jack Carr, this glossy American action/thriller eight-part series stars Chris Pratt as Lieutenant Commander James Reece, whose platoon of Navy SEALs are ambushed while on a covert mission and are decimated.

On his return home Reece begins to question his memory of the event and slowly uncovers what looks like a conspiracy at the highest level of power.

It’s an intriguing start for a series which takes some really dark turns… I can’t really give away what happens at the end of the first episode, but let’s just say that events turn pretty nasty forcing Reece to become one of the most conflicted, harshest and nastiest anti-heroes probably since Rambo in the ‘80s.

There’s an amazing discrepancy in how the critics and the public have viewed this series: the score on Rotten Tomatoes is clear evidence of the stark contrast (40% versus 95%)

It seems a lot of critics have found the tone of the series too hopeless and too grim to deal with. Crucially they have found it impossible and maybe morally wrong to be asked to sympathise with somebody who’s doing really bad things. In fact Reece becomes a real vigilante as he eventually goes off a killing spree, knocking off one by one all those people he believes are guilty (the “terminal list” from the title).

As ever, I stand pretty much in the middle. I mostly enjoyed the series, though as is the case with most recent TV series, it could all have been a lot tighter: it really didn’t need eight episodes to tell this kind of story.

And yes, it was relentlessly grim. In fact the darkness didn’t just concern its subject matter, nor its ethical grounds, but it was quite a literal darkness too. You may often find yourself having to adjust the brightness of your TV set.

It’s also a bit disappointing to see it missing the chance to develop a good argument and compelling story around PTSD, soldiers coping with the aftermath of a tragedy at war and the abuse of power among politicians, preferring instead to just veer towards conspiracy theories, so reminiscent of those political thrillers from the ‘80s and ‘90s steeped in paranoia. A sort of X-Files without the Aliens.

So when you look at it closely, it’s all a bit empty and light, despite its seemingly heavy subject matter.

In its defence, it does have some cracking action scenes, which are as tense as they are gripping. When the action kicks in, it really works beautifully…. shame about all the padding here and there.

The cast is filled with recognizable faces, with names such as Jeanne Tripplehorn, who plays the  Secretary of Defence and Constance Wu, a journalist who gets dragged deeper and deeper into the conspiracies and serves and the only barometer for “good” in an otherwise hopeless, tragic and corrupt world.

As for Chris Pratt, he rises to the occasion as the anti-hero of the piece, though knowing his comedic timing from his previous films, it seems to me a bit of waste to cast him in a part which has ZERO humour.

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

The Terminal List is streaming now on 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

Rail strikes announced for July and August

Image above: London Overground services run through Gunnersbury Station in Chiswick

More nationwide strikes set to cause severe disruption

Train drivers have joined other railway workers in voting to strike this summer. Drivers from eight train companies associated with the ASLEF union have voted overwhelmingly for strike action in a dispute over pay.

The decision comes after passengers faced major disruption in June due to separate strike action by 40,000 rail workers in the RMT union..

RMT members 13 train companies and Network Rail walked out in what was the biggest rail strike in 30 years. Talks between the RMT union and rail operators resumed on Tuesday (12 July).

The RMT had already announced a strike for 27 July, the day before the Commonwealth Games opens in Birmingham.

The train operators involved in the RMT action are Chiltern Railways, Cross Country Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c, Great Western Railway, Northern Trains, South Eastern, South Western Railway, Transpennine Express, Avanti West Coast, West Midlands Trains and GTR (including Gatwick Express).

The Aslef ballot results are among drivers at Chiltern, GWR, LNER, London Overground, Northern, Southeastern, TransPennine and West Midlands.

Gunnersbury Station and Chiswick Station are served by London Overground and South Western Railway trains respectively.

Strike dates 

  • Wednesday 27 July: RMT workers, including guards and signalling staff, employed by Network Rail and 14 rail companies will stage a 24-hour walkout.
  • Saturday 30 July: Train drivers at eight train operators who are members of Aslef union will go on strike over pay.
  • Thursday 18 August and Saturday 20 August: RMT workers will walk out again if dispute not resolved.

“Strikes are always a last resort” 

Mick Whelan, General Secretary of ASLEF, said:

“Strikes are always the last resort… We don’t want to inconvenience passengers – our friends and families use public transport, too – and we don’t want to lose money by going on strike but we’ve been forced into this position by the companies driven by the government.

“Many of our members – who were, you will remember, the men and women who moved key workers and goods around the country during the pandemic – have not had a pay rise since 2019.

“With inflation running at north of 10% that means those drivers have had a real terms pay cut over the last three years. We want an increase in line with the cost of living – we want to be able to buy, in 2022, what we could buy in 2021.

“It’s not unreasonable to ask your employer to make sure you’re not worse off for three years in a row.  Especially as the train companies are doing very nicely, thank you, out of Britain’s railways – with handsome profits, dividends for shareholders, and big salaries for managers – and train drivers don’t want to work longer for less.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the government and rail industry needed to understand that the “dispute will not simply vanish”, calling for a pay offer which “helps deal with the cost-of-living crisis, job security for our members and provides good conditions at work”.

“Further misery” for commuters, says DfT

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who has just launched a failed bid to be the next Conservative Party Leader and Prime Minister, Tweeted that it wasn’t “fair for train drivers to hurt those on lower wages with more walkouts”.

The Department for Transport urged the union to reconsider. It said train drivers earn, on average, just under £60,000 per year – more than twice the UK median salary.

A spokesperson said:

“It is very disappointing that, rather than commit to serious dialogue with the industry, ASLEF are first seeking to cause further misery to passengers by joining others in disrupting the rail network.”

A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said:

“Instead of causing further disruption to passengers and businesses, we urge the ASLEF leadership to continue talks.”

Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail, said:

“By announcing even more strike dates, the RMT has dropped any pretence that this is about reaching a deal.”

He said the best interests of passengers and staff is taking “second place to the union’s bosses’ political campaign”.

Earlier this week, Network Rail made workers a fresh pay offer it said was worth more than 5% – but the offer depended on workers accepting “modernising reforms”.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Geyser erupts near Gunnersbury station as water main bursts

See also: How much electricity are you wasting and paying for unnecessarily?

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Hammersmith Bridge wrapped in foil to protect it from the heat

Image above: Hammersmith Bridge wrapped in foil; photograph LB Hammersmith & Fulham 

Engineers get creative to protect bridge as first ever Red warning for extreme heat is issued

Parts of Hammersmith Bridge have been wrapped in reflective material to protect it from the extreme heat. The first ever Red warning for extreme heat has been issued as temperatures are expected to reach 40 degrees in London next week.

The Met Office warned of an “exceptional hot spell on Monday and Tuesday leading to widespread impacts on people and infrastructure”.

LB Hammersmith & Fulham say engineers are working ’round the clock’ to keep 135-year-old Hammersmith Bridge open during the extreme hot spell.

The historic Grade II* listed bridge had to be fully closed in August 2020 when micro-fractures in its cast-iron pedestals widened during a heatwave.

Since then the Council has installed a ‘pioneering’ £420,000 temperature control system to keep the bridge at a safe temperature and alleviate any stresses on the pedestals.

“The successful operation of the system was a key factor in the decision by safety experts to allow the bridge to reopen to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic last July” say the Council.

“It effectively acts as a giant air conditioning unit on each of the four pedestal chains.”

The chains, which are anchored to the river bed, are regulated to be kept under 13C in the summer. If any of them reach 18C, safety engineers will shut the bridge.

Image above: Met office weather map for Monday 18 July

With the Met Office warning about next week’s temperatures, engineers have been working on an extra package of measures to keep the bridge chains cool which includes running the cooling system throughout the night and wrapping the parts of the chains that are above the water level in silver insulation foil which reflects the sun.

“The safety of the public is our first priority,” said Sebastian Springer, Arcadis Project Manager on the bridge works.

“The temperature control system allows us to track weather spikes and maintain a constant temperature. As we deal with the current extreme heat, we are also coming up with innovative solutions to keep the temperature within the threshold.”

If temperatures exceed expectations and the temperature threshold is breached, engineers state that the bridge would have to close on public safety grounds, but they say any closure would likely be only temporary until the heat subsides.

The first phase £8.9m works currently taking place on the bridge involves stabilising the micro-fractures in the pedestals to prevent the threat of future closures in extreme high and low temperatures.

Hammersmith Bridge, built-in 1887, is one of the world’s oldest suspension bridges which is why it is also one of Britain’s most expensive to repair. It is a Grade II* listed structure made out of wood and wrought iron with the suspension held in place by cast iron pedestals. It is part of Britain’s engineering heritage and a national landmark.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick-based ‘antenatal guru’ Christine Hill dies

See also: Air quality monitoring devices to be installed near Ealing’s schools

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Chiswick-based ‘antenatal guru’ Christine Hill dies

Images above: Christine Hill, her house on Grove Park Rd

Christine Hill died at the age of 74

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are among those mourning the death of Chiswick-based ‘antenatal guru’ Christine Hill, who helped the couple prepare for the birth of Prince George.

Mrs Hill has died at the age of 74 from lung cancer.

Prince William and Kate both attended antenatal classes at her home in Grove Park. Kate reportedly visited her twice for advice in the run up to giving birth to George, while William accompanied her on one occasion.

The Mirror reported one of the important tasks that William learned from Christine in the run-up to George’s birth, almost nine years ago, was the tricky task of fitting a baby’s seat into the back of a car, a task which she knew he would have to perform in front of the world’s media when they left St Mary’s hospital in Paddington and told him he must practice.

A spokesperson for her family gave a statement to the Daily Mail’s Eden Confidential column:

“She will be achingly missed. Her feisty, amusing, straightforward demeanour won her many friends.”

Mrs Hill, who lived in the black and white gabled house at the beginning of the towpath at Grove Park, was an obstetric and paediatric physiotherapist and the author of two acclaimed books about pregnancy. She gave advice on pregnancy, birth and on dealing with a newborn.

YOU magazine described her as “the ultimate baby guru: a tell-it-like-it-is straight shooter who delivers both practical and medical advice with the wit of Victoria Wood.”

Her obituary in the Daily Telegraph includes a quote from her from an interview in 2013, when she said:

“My philosophy has always been that no one prepares you for the true ghastliness of birth.

“There’s a sort of whimsical attitude that it will all be lovely and that everyone can have a natural birth, but that’s not true. I want my mothers to be prepared and well-informed. Then they can make the best decisions without fear.”

Her famous clients included Jerry Hall, Helena Bonham Carter, Darcy Bussell and TV presenters Mary Nightingale, Natasha Kaplinsky, Kirsty Young and Emily Maitliss.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Boris’s legacy – Peter Oborne

See also: Survey finds Brentford fans are biggest drinkers and drug takers in Premier League

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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‘Hard cheese’ to us all! – 17 July Cheese Market cancelled due to heatwave

By Lucy Cufflin

It is with heavy hearts we have to let you know that Chiswick Cheese Market is cancelled this month due to the forecast of intense heat on Sunday 17th June.

We do not have access to any electricity at the Market Place on the High Road and without power, our traders simply cannot bring their precious cheeses to us. Like us, I am sure that you love the batches of cheese perfection they bring to us each month and this extraordinary heatwave can simply ruin the cheese……… the traders are sad, we are sad and we are sure you are sad too but without electricity it is, as I say it is just ‘hard cheese’!

We have been in discussions with Hounslow but in the short term at least, it seems there is nothing that can  be done, but we are hopeful for a long term solutions so watch this space!

I thought we would share a couple of summer recipe ideas so that you can enjoy some cheese at home – of course fresh mozzarella or burrata with summer tomatoes and balsamic is never to be under-rated but what about changing it up a little?

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Michael Frayn opens exhibition of J.M.W. Turner’s nudes

See also: How much electricity are you wasting and paying for unnecessarily?

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Joint LB Hounslow and NHS initiative to tackle health inequalities

Image above: library photograph of a doctor with a patient

Eleven neighbourhoods in Hounslow among most deprived in England

LB Hounslow are working with the NHS on a new ‘Integrated Care System’ which they hope will help to better tackle health inequalities in the borough.

Hounslow has eleven neighbourhoods ranked among the most deprived 20% in England. It also has ethnically diverse communities. People from Black African, African Caribbean and South Asian backgrounds are at more risk of developing type 2 diabetes at a young age than their counterparts in the white population.

The majority of residents with type 2 diabetes are of minority ethnic origin – 66.1% in 2020/21, an increase of nearly five percent since 2016/16, when the figure was 61.9%. This is significantly higher than the average for the whole of England –  21.6% in 2020/21.

In the coming months a ‘community conversation” will be set up in the borough to discuss this and similar issues with residents, who will be asked to ‘help shape the future of healthcare in west London’. The community conversations will be open sessions – meaning all residents are welcome to attend and talk to health and care staff about their experience and what matters to them. 

The council says the sessions are expected to start in September and will be advertised in due course.

“This has to be the start of doing things differently” says NHS Chief

Carolyn Regan, Chief Executive of West London NHS Trust and joint Senior Responsible Officer for the North West London population health and inequalities strategy, said:

“This has to be the start of doing things differently. The variation in access, health outcomes and life expectancy between and within different areas across our eight boroughs is unacceptable. The NHS can’t solve these issues alone – we need to work with local councils, residents, the voluntary sector, Healthwatch and others if we are to develop a plan that truly meets people’s needs.”

Niall Bolger, Chief Executive of Hounslow Council and joint Senior Responsible Officer for the North West London population health and inequalities strategy, said:

“We have talked about addressing health inequalities for 30 years without making real progress. The passion with which local authorities and health service colleagues are now approaching this issue and putting it at the heart of our decision-making is really encouraging. ​

“To really change the way we work, we need to ask our residents what matters to them, how we can work with them to deliver healthier communities and better outcomes.  

“To succeed, the ICS will need to build real understanding through first-hand insights from our residents and communities – insights that will help identify and remove barriers to health equality across North West London.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Brentford Leisure Centre gets low carbon makeover

See also: Survey finds Brentford fans are biggest drinkers and drug takers in Premier League

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Air quality monitoring devices to be installed near Ealing’s schools

Image above: School zone sign in Ealing

98% of schools in London in areas exceeding WHO pollution limits

Air quality monitoring devices are to be installed around near schools in Ealing borough to gather data which, the council says, will help reduce harmful pollution.

Almost £240,000 is being invested in the equipment with grant funding from the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The funding will also help strengthen the council’s Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP), which is currently being developed in partnership with residents to reduce air pollution and improve health.

The investment will also support educational programmes for pupils, teachers and parents, which will focus on the impact of air pollution and traffic congestion on health and highlight how positive actions such as walking, cycling and scooting on the school run can result in cleaner air.

It is estimated that 3.1 million children in England go to school in areas where there are toxic levels of air pollution. In 2021, 98% of schools in London were found to be in areas exceeding World Health Organisation pollution limits, compared to 24% outside London.

How best to improve air quality and reduce congestion in Ealing has been the subject of a bitterly fought battle, with the council putting in Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and then ripping them out again because of the amount of protest from residents. After a change of leader the council has vowed to take the public with them in whatever policies they put in place to tackle the issue.

Image above: Ealing Council, Cllr Dierdre Costigan

Dirty air around schools “a serious concern for every family”

Cllr Deirdre Costigan, cabinet member for climate action said:

“London’s air pollution can be fatal and tragically it contributed to up to more than 4,000 deaths across the capital in 2019 alone. Dirty air around our schools is rightly a serious concern for every family.

“That is why tackling air pollution is one of the council’s top priorities and I am delighted that we have secured this investment, which will go straight into educational and ​monitoring equipment in our schools and education on how to reduce pollution on the school run.

“Added to this we will shortly be consulting with residents on our new Air Quality Strategy and action plan so they can have their say and help us make it successful”.

Cllr Costigan added:

“Even a small vehicle running on petrol, can emit an average of more than 19 grams of CO2 a minute when its engine is on. It all adds up to a polluting cocktail filling the air we breathe”.

Image above: map of early deaths in London attributable to pollution 

“School streets means cleaner air”

A total of 17 School Streets are now in place across Ealing borough with more on their way. The council say this is part of their ongoing commitment to cut air pollution and support active forms of travel for children.

School Streets work by temporary closing roads to traffic around a school at its opening and closing times. The council says they make areas around schools safer and more pleasant places for children to walk, cycle and scoot, and give parents the perfect opportunity to ditch the car on the school run.

Cllr Costigan continued:

“We are investing £500,000 in the programme and our 17 current School Streets already benefit more than 8,000 pupils across the borough. But we want to do much more – so our target is 50 School Streets by 2026, which means we hope to deliver at least four new School Streets every six months.

“As well as cleaner air at the school gates, there is overwhelming evidence that active forms of travel have a hugely positive effect on pupils, both for physical and mental wellbeing, as well as on learning in the classroom.”

The £237,502 funding comes from the government’s department of environment, farming and rural affairs (DEFRA).

The council is also backing an ongoing, city-wide anti-idling campaign aimed at reducing the amount of unnecessary time people spend leaving their engines on.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Cycle way 9 finally opens

See also: How much electricity are you wasting and paying for unnecessarily?

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

TfL given another short-term funding extension

Image above: Library photograph of London Underground

Funding deal extended again to final week of July

Transport for London’s emergency funding deal with the Government has been extended by two weeks.

The £200 million bailout agreed in February was set to expire on 24 June but a stalemate in negotiations over a long-term funding agreement saw the deadline extended until 11.59pm on 13 July. That deal will now continue until at least 28 July.

The Department for Transport said TfL had yet to show evidence it had found £400m of savings – a condition of the last bailout. TfL denies this claim.

TfL is facing a £2 billion budget black hole and has warned of massive cuts to services unless it gets more help. There have been repeated rows with the government over the funding of TfL and the cause of its financial woes.

In a statement, TfL revealed a two-week extension had been agreed with the Department for Transport so that discussions over a longer-term deal could continue.

Image above: Northfields Train Depot

Resolution of dispute still not in sight

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said:

“TfL have been unable to provide information sufficiently demonstrating that conditions outlined in the current settlement are on track and reassure the government that any long-term settlement will be in the interest of all UK taxpayers.”

A TfL spokesperson said:

“There is no UK recovery from the pandemic without a London recovery and there is no London recovery without a properly funded transport network in the capital.

“Whilst in receipt of government support, we have worked hard to progress all conditions placed on TfL, and continue to maintain that we have met them all.

“It is essential London receives the sustained long-term government funding that is vital for the coming years if a period of ‘managed decline’ of London’s transport network is to be avoided.”

Image above: Library photograph 

Public transport “will grind to a halt” without deal, say Unions

Unions have warned public transport across the capital will grind to a halt without a long-term financial plan.

TfL has previously said that cutting all “uncommitted” Healthy Streets funding, such as walking and cycling schemes, could save about £500m.

It is holding a public consultation on cuts to London’s bus services, which it has been warned could result in 16 routes being axed entirely and 78 routes being amended.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is keenly aware any changes made to the pensions or the pay of transport workers will be met with fierce resistance from unions, likely ending in further strikes and service disruption across London.

Union leaders have described TfL’s funding predicament as “a manufactured crisis” by a central government seeking to undermine TfL and the Mayor of London.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Strikes announced for July and August

See also: How much electricity are you wasting and paying for unnecessarily?

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Oddono’s adds vegan ices to its Chiswick menu

Image above: Oddono’s ice cream

Italian ice cream made fresh on the premises every day

Oddono’s has added a range of vegan ices to its offer. Now, as well as the traditional ice creams made with double cream and milk you can buy five flavours (not necessarily all on offer at the same time) made with coconut oil instead of dairy products.

They started offering the vegan range: Chocolate Chip, Pistachio, Hazelnut, Chocolate and Vanilla to meet the increasing demand from both vegans and people who have allergies to dairy, Christian Oddono told The Chiswick Calendar.

Oddono’s has been on Chiswick High Rd for six years now. Christian set up the company with his business partner Marco Petracchini in 2004 when, as homesick expatriates, they wanted some decent ice cream. He grew up in Verona and Rome with his grandmother going to the market every day for fresh eggs and milk to make gelato at home.

Now they have seven gelateria in London at South Kensington, Battersea, Hampstead, East Dulwich, Stoke Newington, Wimbledon and Chiswick.

Image above: Oddono’s ice cream

Christian and Marco had backgrounds in business and finance, not food, so they went to the professional school of gelato making in Italy to learn how to do the job properly.

“Making gelato is a very scientific process” he told me. While ‘gelato’ is Italian for ice cream, it really means artisan ice cream. They make their gelato fresh every day on the shop premises.

“That is our biggest usp. The quality of the gelato is a different level when it’s fresh.”

Their ice cream is denser, he told me, containing less air than the ice creams you will find in a supermarket, with more fruit and cream per scoop.

“The basic ingredients are milk, double cream and different types of sucrose, a blend of dextrose and glucose. Each kind of sugar has a different effect on the product.”

Image above: Oddono’s ice cream

Pistachios from Sicily, vanilla from Madagascar

They do not use colouring, which is why he said their pistachio is not the bright green you might expect, nor do they use preservatives. He would even go as far as to say their ice cream is better than what you might find in Italy.

“We have regular customers in a neighbourhood, so we rely on quality and flavour. We want them to come back. At many of the tourist spots in Italy the customers are tourists who by definition, aren’t regular customers so they are not so bothered about the quality because they know their customers won’t be coming back.”

Their pistachios are greenish / brownish, toasted to bring out the flavour and bought in from Sicily.

“We have tried buying pistachios from Syria, California, Greece and Iran. Syrian pistachios were wonderful but you can’t get them any more since the war. Sicilian pistachios taste the best because they are grown on rich soil on the side of a volcano.”

They buy their vanilla from Madagascar from a family who have been growing it for generations and their chocolate from Peru.

“The fruit is probably the only ingredient that’s not fresh. We buy it frozen to ensure consistency. We tried making gelato with fresh fruit but the sugar content changes with the ripeness of the fruit which makes it too difficult to do commercially.”

Consistency is important because they need people to be able to buy ice cream for the freezer. If you make it at home it can me delicious fresh but when you freeze it you find you have a block of ice.

They were voted Best Ice Cream Parlour in the UK in 2007 and have not looked back. What about Amorino opening up on the High Rd? I asked him, in addition to Foubert’s, Duci and themselves.

“Competition is good” he said.

Oddono’s is a member of The Chsiwick Calendar’s Club Card scheme, offering Club Card holders 10% off anything in store (ice cream cakes as well as scoops or tubs). Please note that is in store only, not when delivered by Uber Eats / Deliveroo / Just Easts.

oddonos.com

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: The Chiswick Foodie restaurant review – Tarantella restaurant

See also: The Chiswick Foodie restaurant review – The Silver Birch restaurant

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Andrea’s film review – Minions: The Rise of Gru

Minions: The Rise of Gru ⭐️⭐️ 1/2 Review by Andrea Carnevali

The untold story of one twelve-year-old’s dream to become the world’s greatest supervillain. Out in cinemas. 

When Despicable Me was first released in 2010, with its consistently funny and wacky humour and its big heart worn on its sleeve, it became an instant favourite among families and children everywhere and it turned those side characters called Minions into a worldwide phenomenon.

Fast forward 12 years, two sequels and one spin-off movie of their own and those yellow wide-eyed tiny creatures with their gibberish language (though you can pick up few odd words in English here and there… and Italian too) are now real cultural icons.

They appear not just on countless children products on sale, toys, sweets, clothes, but on most memes and gifs on the internet as well. If you haven’t come across a Minion in the last 12 years, you’re probably living under a rock.

But as the previous spin-off film clearly showed (and to a degree this one as well), these little creatures seem to work better in small doses, as side characters, which is how they were originally intended.

If you need any proof of this, go back and look at any trailer for this film: they’re all around two minutes long and they work perfectly well, enticing you into come to the cinema in the (false) hope that the film is going to be just as funny.

The truth is, even if you love the Minions, after 1 hour and 27 minutes they begin to grate a little bit.

Obviously, the 50 years old man writing this is not the target audience for this sort of film and I’m sure children all over the world will be delighted by it, but we’ve got to be honest and face the fact that there just isn’t enough to make a whole feature length interesting. Even my nine year old son, my barometer for family flicks, eventually admitted (without being probed) “I think I prefer Lightyear”.

I mean, it’s fine for what it is, but knowing what I have seen the Minions do in the original Despicable Me, I should have peed myself laughing with this one, and actually I only smiled a few times (and to be honest, the whole cinema packed with children didn’t seem to respond much either).

A good chase at the start and a nice a Bond-esque title sequence lulled me into a false sense of security, but while the pace of the film was pretty much on crack and allowed things to move along pretty swiftly without lingering too much on anything, the story began to feel forced, needlessly convoluted and actually all over the place (what the hell was going on with those Chinese dragons!?!) and most crucially the jokes seemed to run out of steam quite early on with only glimpses of the hilarity and originality that we hoped to find. In fact they even stole from other well-known franchises (the whole “sweet-eye stare” joke is blatantly taken from Puss in Boots).

On the plus side this is still better than the previous Minions film, which was essentially just a series of sketches throughout history with Minions in them: at least this time there is a sort of coherent story to glue it all together.

So to wrap it up (there’s only so much you can talk about Minions…) my son sort of enjoyed it, my wife hated it and couldn’t wait for it to finish and I’m sort of in the middle. Three stars is probably too much, and I can’t in my conscience give it a pass, but I’m aware the children will want to watch it and will probably enjoy it too.

Undemanding and forgettable and just about passable.

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

Minions: The Rise of Gru is on in cinemas.

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

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Pub in the Park unveils menus for 2-4 September Chiswick weekend

Pub in the Park returns to the gardens of Chiswick House on the first weekend of September, with an interesting mix of live music and good food produced by some of the UK’s top chefs

Images above: Good grub at Pub in the Park 2022

They have now unveiled the menus, which include everything from Afghan Barbeque dishes to Yorkshire Pudding with Old Peculier Beer Braised Shorthorn Beef, with a good range of vegetarian and vegan options and some tempting sounding desserts such as Bitter Chocolate Mousse with Spiced pear & honeycomb.

Tom Kerridge, the chef who is the driving force behind Pub in the Park, will be hosting the event in Chiswick. He opened his pub The Hand and Flowers in 2005 and in 2011 it became the first pub to receive two stars in the Michelin Guide. Since then he has opened The Coach in Marlow, which was awarded one star in the Michelin Guide in 2018.

Image above: Tom Kerridge on BBC1’s Lose Weight for Good

If you’ve not had the pleasure of eating at one of his pubs you may have seen him on TV. He first appeared on television in 2009 competing in the Great British Menu for BBC Two, where he won the main course and cooked at the banquet for Prince Charles and Camilla.

His current TV series is Lose Weight for Good on BBC 1.

At Pub in the Park Chiswick he will be offering Pork Belly & Smoked Coe’s roe Taco / Steak & Ale Pie / Deep fried Crispy Squid / Boston Bean & Cheddar pie (which I’m guessing are not from the recipes in Lose Weight for Good!)

Matt Tebbutt will also be hosting on Sunday. Originally in the RAF, Matt gained a diploma at Leiths School of Food and Wine in London, before working for some of London’s most prestigious restaurants, including Marco Pierre White at the Oak Room and Criterion.

Matt is currently presenting Saturday Kitchen and Best Bites on BBC 1, Food Unwrapped, which is in it’s 15th Series, on Channel 4.

Restaurants represented at Pub in the Park include Rick Stein, Hoppers, Holy Carrot, The Star Inn, Cue Point, Cubitt House, Cafe Murano, The Cadogan Arms x Buffalo Trace and Atul Kochhar restaurants.

Although the menus are subject to change, you can see what they have planned here: Pub in the Park restaurant menus.

Buy tickets for the Friday night / Saturday afternoon / Saturday evening / Sunday afternoon / whole weekend here: Pub in the Park tickets.

This page is paid for by Pub in the Park

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

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

See also: The Luna Cinema returns to Chiswick House Gardens 22 – 24 July

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Boris’s legacy – Peter Oborne

Image above: Peter Oborne

“Boris Johnson is the most venal, the biggest liar, the most amoral and the most incompetent prime minister in all British history”

Chiswick is home to a couple of journalists on the national stage who cottoned on to Boris Johnson’s penchant for telling lies early on and have doggedly kept pointing them out over the past three years.

James O’Brien is one, coming to prominence during the Brexit referendum, pointing out contradictions and inconsistencies on a daily basis on his LBC show. He’s now gone off on his summer holidays, with one last blast of invective before he went, declaring: “The absolute dregs of a long-drained barrel of idiots have just formed a government.”

Peter Oborne is another. Himself a traditional Conservative, having written for decades for publications such as the Daily Telegraph, the Spectator and the Daily Mail, when he tried to write about Boris’s lies in 2019 he found himself shunned by the mainstream media, so instead he wrote a book, The Assault on Truth and set up a website: boris-Johnson-lies.com.

“Boris Johnson is the most venal, the biggest liar, the most amoral and the most incompetent prime minister in all British history” he says.

Image above: Daily Mail, 7 July; photograph Andrew Parsons / No. 10 Downing St

“We are already seeing a rigorous attempt to create the myth of the lost leader”

There is going to be a battle fought over Boris’s posthumous reputation, he says:

“We are already seeing a rigorous attempt to create the myth of the lost leader – this magnificent, lonely, courageous politician who led Britain out the European Union – and this is a man who was brought down, to quote the Daily Mail, by ‘pygmies’.”

Peter has made a video with Double Down News setting out his view of what has happened in the Conservative party and what he thinks will happen next. Despite his character, Boris Johnson was able to rise “because of powerful anti-democratic forces” he says, forces which will ensure the continuation of their influence.

What will happen next?

“The Tory party no longer exists as it used to do,” says Peter, “until quite recent times as a manifestation of much wider civil society. It is now owned by oligarchs and by a handful of non dom press barons who successfully mobilised international capital in order to run the publicity machine which took Johnson into power.

“What we’re going to see now that Johnson has gone is the newspapers and the donors looking for somebody else who will serve their ends. They will seek to choose the next leader of the Conservative party just as they chose Johnson almost exactly three years ago.

“It’s too early to say who that person will be because they’ve got to show that they have the policies which will please the billionaires.

“Whoever wins will come in on tax cuts. They will continue the policy of confrontation with the European Union. They will continue the war against human rights. They will continue the weaponization of asylum seekers and they will continue the general attack on the rights and freedoms of the British people, particularly in the workplace.”

Peter Oborne divides his time between Wiltshire and Chiswick. He writes a political column for Middle East Eye and a diary column for the Byline Times. He also presents a regular cricket podcast with Richard Heller, Oborne & Heller on Cricket, on The Chiswick Calendar. 

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Geyser erupts near Gunnersbury station as water main bursts

See also: How much electricity are you wasting and paying for unnecessarily?

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Michael Frayn opens exhibition of J.M.W. Turner’s nudes

Image above: Michael Frayn and Claire Tomalin at Turner’s House

Latest exhibition at Turner’s house in Twickenham

The eminent author and playwright Michael Frayn, accompanied by his wife, award-winning writer Claire Tomalin, opened an exhibition of J.M.W. Turner’s nudes together on Friday 8 July in the artist’s former home in Twickenham.

Frayn revealed painful childhood memories about his own discovery of art whilst opening the exhibition. The author of an extensive bibliography of critically acclaimed and commercially successful novels, non-fiction and dramas, including Copenhagen and the comedy Noises Off disclosed that the first picture he ever hung on his wall was J.M.W. Turner’s, Rain, Steam and Speed followed by Yacht Approaching the Coast.

However, his introduction to art has painful associations.

A painful introduction

“I was 15 or 16 at the time and I was just discovering Art. A major experience in my life. And it was made more memorable by the circumstances in which I was doing it.”

“I suffered from catarrh” Michael explained, “and I was being taken out of school every few weeks and sent up to Harley Street to an ear nose and throat specialist so he could make holes in my sinuses;” readers of a nervous disposition are advised to avert your eyes now, “as I recall with a hammer and punch!”

This wince inducing revelation elicited gasps of horror from the assembled at a preview of the exhibition in the house Turner designed for himself.

“I first got to know the Impressionists and the Post Impressionists and, of course, their great precursor, Turner as I walked around with the local anaesthetic wearing off and pain gradually filling my face and blood filling the handkerchief I was holding over my nose. And maybe these circumstances made the whole experience of meeting Art more memorable.”

“Now, more than 70 years later another memorable experience; Turner again.”

Thankfully, this occasion was memorable for positive and entirely bloodless reasons.

Frayn had been unaware of Turner’s House 

Despite living locally in the Royal Borough of Richmond, Frayn had not heard of Turner’s House, which made the visit memorable and a “double whammy”.

“Firstly, this house, which I did not know about, which has been beautifully saved and restored. And secondly, this exhibition itself. The only human figure of Turner’s I knew was the self portrait of him as a young man. So, I was surprised, and others will have as big a surprise as I did, when they see this exhibition.”

The exhibition Between the Sheets: Turner’s Nudes has been commanding rave reviews in the media, for its unique focus on the private life and work of the otherwise much documented maritime and landscape artist J.M.W. Turner, and has been awarded the accolade Exhibition of the Week by The Guardian this very week.

Co-Curator Dr Jacqueline Riding, adviser on Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner (2014) and author of Hogarth: Life in Progress, (2021), explained that the House’s exhibition programme is intended to show the many facets of Turner,

“What is so wonderful about the show, and so wonderful about working on the show is that we are teasing out the personal aspect of Turner…a very private man”

“Scholarship has been done on many aspects of Turner and his diverse career as an artist, but this exhibition is the first one to focus on this particular subject”.

Image above: (left to right) Jacqueline Riding, Claire Tomalin, Michael Frayn, Franny Moyle

“You can almost feel his breath on your neck”

Co-Curator Franny Moyle, author of the critically acclaimed The Extraordinary Life and Momentous Times of J.M.W. Turner (2016) and, more recently, The King’s Painter: The Life and Times of Hans Holbein (2021), was the person who came up with the idea of exploring this novel theme.

“Here is a man who was called a recluse and a loner” she said. “I think this is a Victorian invention about Turner based on the last few years of his life when he was unwell. But in these intimate works you see him as a traveller, an adventurer, someone joining in social settings.

“You see a fascination with women as an artist compelled to describe them objectively, sometimes as a catalyst for other scenes, but also, we see some wonderful tenderness towards his subject.

“When you see Turner’s landscapes you get a sense of his awe and relationship to the wider world. In putting these very intimate drawings together you get a vision of the man close up. You can almost feel his breath on your neck.”

Between the Sheets will be open to the public from Saturday 9 July until Sunday 30th October 2022, Wednesday to Sunday 10.00am to 4.00pm. Pre-booking is essential via turnershouse.org. Turner’s House, Sandycombe Lodge, 40 Sandycoombe Road, St Margarets, Twickenham TW1 2LR.

You can hear both curators discuss J.M.W. Turner and the exhibition at The Chiswick Book Festival on 10 September at St Michael & All Angels Church.

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See also: Boris’s legacy – Peter Oborne

See also: Geyser erupts near Gunnersbury station as water main bursts

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Mind Matters – How big is your list of ‘micro oppressions’?

I’ve noticed a tinge of annoyance when reading in the media about ‘Micro aggressions’. Having reflected, I realise it is because it is a concept that encourages us to be constantly vigilant in terms of the behaviour of other people. Of course it can be a relief to have a concept like ‘micro aggression’ to help us make sense of our experience of others and yet at the same time the negativity of the word itself may well result in us feeling less comfortable. I’m not saying that feeling uncomfortable around difficult behaviours is not appropriate but is it always helpful? I wonder the degree to which conflict in relationships escalates as these negative labels make their way into everyday conversations?

Instead I prefer to change the focus away from labelling what is external to us towards finding ways to understand our internal experience. This is because when we become clearer about what feels wrong for us in all situations we are able to decide what action and change we can make. This I believe is so much more empowering than trying to use concepts and labels to try and get others to change and in my experience much more likely to succeed because when you are clear about something feeling wrong for you those around you generally want to help find a solution.

Of course we are not talking about abusive and unsafe situations, instead we are talking about those experiences that are such that life and relationships contain painful experiences that we are certain are unnecessary and damages feelings of trust and ease, in other words life would simply be better without them.

So I ended up thinking about a new term ‘micro oppressions’. I know that oppression sounds a bit dramatic and yet the dictionary does offer ‘mental pressure or distress’ as a definition and what I particularly like about it is that just thinking about sorting out oppression can be a positive experience before you even get started. What I mean by micro oppressions are those seemingly minor things in life which always cause some discomfort, make your day less enjoyable, make your interactions with people less satisfying and involve you in additional time, energy or even money. So thinking about your life, what are the things on a day to day basis that routinely oppress you?

In my thinking, and from what my patients share with me, things such as the alarm clock, Sunday evenings, the last afternoon each month filling out expenses forms, the dripping tap, when your partner forgets – as they do regularly – to put the bins out, feeling uncomfortable on a particular part of a footpath home, the way it feels when you are again waiting for the friend who is always ten minutes late, the way that family member always rolls their eyes when you say you are fed up with something or other, the way your colleagues split the bill when you go out for drinks even though they drink far more than you do, the software updates that ask you to accept their new terms and conditions, the self serve checkout thats dirty and won’t scan the barcode?

So what do you think now? Do you have micro oppressions in your life? How does it feel for you having micro oppressions in your life? Maybe you have just thought of them as a fact of life and to be put up with but isn’t that in itself a micro oppression?

So what is the route to freedom from these micro oppressions? The first thing to remember is that if it matters to you then you are being given a message that something needs your attention, not the attention you are currently giving it but a new attention. Something is acting to oppress you and so think about what is the actual source of that pressure or distress, think about what you have tried and ask yourself what you haven’t tried. Pay particular attention to things that you wouldn’t try and see if you can provide a concrete reason as to why that is. Think about the power of paradox and how doing the opposite of what we expect of ourselves can be a way to freedom.

Returning to the list of micro oppressions given as examples earlier then the following possibilities now come to my mind of things I might try:

  • Change the alarm clock to a wake up light clock
  • Make Sunday nights fun nights
  • Fill out your expense forms as you go along
  • Practise mindfulness using the dripping tap as your focus
  • Put the bins out yourself and stop doing something else that you don’t much like anyway
  • Go home a different way
  • Be ten minutes late yourself
  • Don’t tell that person when you are fed up
  • Start your own tab
  • When there is a new software update look at the new conditions and marvel at just how many there are
  • Go back to the manned checkouts and enjoy the little bit of extra human interaction

As this article comes to close I guess I am wondering – do you feel better from having spent a bit of time thinking about the things that oppress you and what you might do to gain greater freedom? And do you also think you feel better than you would have done thinking about things through the lens of micro aggression?

Nicholas Rose

UKCP accredited Psychotherapist

Psychotherapy, counselling, relationship therapy and coaching.

PGDip, MA, Adv Dip Ex Psych

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

nicholas-rose.co.uk

Read more blogs by Nicholas Rose

Read the next post – Mind Matters – Feeling fine or feeling F.I.N.E?

Read the previous one – Mind Matters – The power of nostalgia

See all Nicholas’s Mind Matters blogs here

Read a profile of Nicholas here

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Man in the Middle 91: Merci Beaucoup

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 90: Merci Beaucoup

The bathroom is whoosily hot. As I poach myself back into the Land of the Living after an excessive Saturday bacchanal, I wonder where my toes have gone and if they will ever come back. I watch my body turn the colour of a hot cure smoked salmon and doze.

I slip under the water. I can hear my mobile phone humming and humming and humming. I ignore it. I’m not ready for the world yet. It’s too early to talk. Even a desperate Prime Minister searching for a Cabinet wouldn’t call this early. It’s 7.30am and a Sunday morning, too.

When I come up for air, the bath water smells odd. It could be the Radox salts, but the odour is more like Vermouth. Herby. As if yesterday’s alcohol has infused the bathwater after fermenting overnight in my stomach. I reach for the phone, curious to see who’s called at this hour.

The missed call is from my Mother’s nursing home. There are two reasons the nursing home call. The first is to say you’ve won this month’s Friends & Family Tombola. But I haven’t entered the Tombola for a long time and good news is polite and would wait till brunch.

The arches, loops and whorls of my thumb are so flushed and swollen from my poaching so long in my vermouth bath that the phone doesn’t recognise my thumb print.

Again and again, I press my thumb down but the bloody, bloody, bloody phone won’t unlock. I start to like a mountaineer watching the first few stones of a landslide rolling away from beneath his feet.

I dry my right hand first and finally thumb open the I-Phone. I start to phone the nursing home but stop. I am naked. It feels disrespectful to make the call without clothes. On a Sunday, especially.

I pick up yesterday’s clothes from the floor beside my bed and ring. I’ve only lost a minute getting dressed, which will make no difference to the new reality waiting to introduce itself at the other end of the phone.

‘I’ll put you through to the duty nurse.’

‘Thank you,’ I say, in a sunny voice. You sound like you’ve won the Lotto, I say to myself. Pull yourself together.

‘It’s bad news,’ says the nurse and begins a litany of facts: who, when, what, where and how.

The nurse is professional. But her facts are meaningless and mute. They pass me by. All I can hear is the sound of a planet crashing out of the universe and a voice somewhere whispering ‘no more’.

I knock on my son’s bedroom door. He’s the only family member home.

‘Granny’s dead.’

‘How?’ he asks, waking up.

‘They told me, but I can’t remember.’

‘Oh. Do you want a cuddle?’

It’s an infinitely perfect thing to say.

‘Not yet.’

If I hug him, I will dissolve and I have things to do.

In the Uber on the way to the nursing home, I remember when my daughter came into the world, courtesy of a late-night emergency caesarean, I was stranded in a hotel in Copenhagen. When my mother left the world, I was in a bath with a hangover. I guess we don’t always get to choose our comings and goings, nor who’s with us they happen.

‘Pull over. Here’s fine,’ I say to the Uber driver.

At the nursing home, three of Mother’s carers come up to me as I enter the dementia wing of the home.

‘She was a lovely Lady.’

‘So polite.’

‘Whatever we did she always thanked us. ‘Merci Beaucoup’ was what she said. All the time. Even if we were just giving her a cup of tea.’

‘A cup of tea was the way to her heart,’ I say.

Mother used to say: ‘I don’t know why they do this. They do things others don’t want to. For a pittance. I wouldn’t do this if I were them.’ Politeness was her strategy for keeping people on side. She understood she was dependent on others, but also an insight into others.

She would have torn me off a strip if she had seen me today: a crimpled shirt and shorts, scuffed shoes, unshaven. Clothes maketh the men, she used to say. She’d have been shocked to see herself today, too.  Lying under a bedsheet on the floor in her nightgown, head back and eyes closed. In her open mouth a gold tooth is visible.

‘Why is she on the floor?’ I ask.

‘The bed was too soft to do CPR on,’ says the nurse.

‘Can we move her?’

‘Not until the Police come.’

I sit with her alone for five minutes. They’ve closed the curtains so none of the other residents can see in through her window.

Read more blogs by James Thellusson

Read the previous one – Man in the Middle 90: The Repair cafe

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

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