Bedford Park Festival Green Days 2023

Image above: David Bradley

Actor David Bradley joins the crowds enjoying Green Days

We spotted actor David Bradley (Harry Potter, Game of Thrones) at Green Days on Sunday, here in Chiswick to visit family. He was among thousands to turn out in the sweltering heat to enjoy live music at the bandstand, browse the craft stalls, drink beer, eat cake, play five aside football … at the start of the Bedford Park Festival.

Local MPs Ruth Cadbury (Brentford & Isleworth) and Andy Slaughter were there briefly on Saturday, before they rushed off to Uxbridge to support the Labour candidate Danny Beales in the hastily announced by-election for Boris Johnson’s seat. Green Days was opened this year by TV presenter Nicki Chapman.

Images above: Bacon butties from Macken Brothers; a selection of beers from the beer tent; stalls in the craft village; Fudge’s Cycles; Nicki Chapman with children taking part in fancy dress competition; MPs Ruth Cadbury & Andy Slaughter; book stall, five aside football; beekeepers; fun fair; The Chiswick Calendar team at work and at play.

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The Chiswick Calendar’s Green Days raffle prizes 2023

Images above: The Chiswick Calendar’s stall at Green Days; drawing the raffle prizes

The Chiswick Calendar Club Card raffle prizes offered by our Club Card businesses *

The Chiswick Calendar operates a Club Card scheme to encourage people to spend their money locally. If you subscribe to our weekly newsletter you are automatically entitled to a free card. Check out the list of businesses which offer deals and discounts to our card holders here: Club Car A-Z directory.

We held a raffle with prizes from our Club Card businesses at Green Days, the fete that marks the opening weekend of the Bedford Park Festival on 10 & 11 June. If you have won a prize we will have phoned you. Cut off point for choosing  picking up prizes is 5pm on Friday 30 June 2023.

Here are the raffle prizes:

Food & Drink

Capri Italian restaurant – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Meal for two voucher to the value of £60

The Bell & Crown – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Meal for two 

The George IV – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Meal for two (starter and main with a bottle of house wine)

The Pilot – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Meal for two

The Packhorse & Talbot– THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Meal for two

Base Face pizza – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Meal for two

Flame & Fire steak restaurant – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Meal for two voucher to the value of £60

Hothouse Café – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Meal for two voucher to the value of £30

Jules the Foodie – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
£40 voucher to spend on Jules’ home cooked, nutritious meals to eat at home

Planet Organic – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Goodie box containing: Organic mango slices, pitted dates, pumpkin & sunflower mix, coconut chips, walnut halves, sultanas, almonds (whole) and Brazil nuts (whole)

Wyndham House butcher – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
£40 voucher for use in store

Macken Brothers butcher * – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
£50 voucher for use in store             

Amorino – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Vouchers for ice cream – One box of 12 traditional or gelato macaron & two regular cones
3 x vouchers – each a separate prize

Fuller’s Griffin Brewery
A selection of Fuller’s beers, one pack of six per prize:

1 x 6 bottles of London Pride – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN

1 x 6 bottles of London Pride; – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN

1 x 6 bottles of London Pride; – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN

1 x 6 bottles ESB – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN

1 x 6 bottles Honey Dew – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN

 

Entertainment

Ealing Comedy Festival – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Two tickets for 27 July show with Omid Djaliliand Nina Conti

Theatre at the Tabard – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Four tickets to a show of your choice up to 31 December (subject to availability)

Chiswick Cinema
One Classic membership – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
One £30 gift card – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
(Two separate prizes)

Jazz at George IV – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Two tickets to any of our remaining shows in June – Papa George & Alan Glen on Thursday 15 June / Katriona Taylor Trio ‘An Evening of Jazz & Soul Divas’ on Thursday 22 June / The Liz Owen Band on Thursday 29 June.

ArtsEd – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Two tickets to a show in the autumn term + interval drinks

The Old Pack Horse pub – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Two tickets to their comedy night (takes place once a month on the last Saturday of the month)

Retail

Wheelers Garden Centre – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Pink hydrangea plant

Futon Shop – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Minis deckchair

Chiswick Camera Centre – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
National Geographic  VA Colour Weather Station

Ollie Quinn  – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Three pairs of sunglasses – each one a separate prize

Neptune * – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Box of bath goodies

Snappy Snaps
A4 ornate gold picture frame – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN

Bookcase independent bookstore
A selection of recipe books and children’s books – each book is a separate prize.

Children’s books: Amazing Space (suitable 6-10), Secret Lives of Mermaids (suitable 6-10), Human Kindress (suitable 6-10), Benzamin Zephaniah’s Nature Trail (suitable 3-6), Usborne Little Children’s Superheroes Puzzles, The Usborne Write Your own story word book

Recipe books: The Pastry Chef’s Guide by Ravneet Gill, Linda McCartney’s Family Kitchen, The Green Kitchen by David Frenkiel & Luise Vindahl, Gennaro’s Italian bakery, 10 Minute Sourdough by Dr Michael Mosley

Health & Beauty

The YOU Clinic beauty therapists – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
£100 voucher

Randox Health – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Discovery health check (range of diagnostic tests)

Services

Anna Kunst Photography – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
30 min location portrait photography session, voucher to the value of £150, valid until the end of August

Chiswick Computers – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
Computer health check – Mac / PC / Desktop / laptop full hardware and software check worth £80, offering advice and problem solving

Bone Ball Bark – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
One-hour private dog training session      

Activities

Gym Clinic
Boxing session

Personal training session – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
One month’s membership – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
(Three separate prizes)

Active 360
Two hours Stand Up Paddleboarding in a group on the River Thames – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
90-minute canoe hire (two-seater) for two people – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN

One hour personal training session at the gym in the arches at Kew Bridge – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN

Bene Yoga – THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN TAKEN
90-minute personal yoga session

Ballet4Life 
A trial class of your choice
(Four vouchers available, each as a separate prize)

*The businesses asterisked are not members of our Club Card scheme, but support The Chiswick Calendar in other ways.

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Winning photographs in the 2023 Bedford Park Festival Photography competition

Image above: Winning photograph by Steve Shotton

And the winner is …

This is the winning photograph in the 2023 Bedford Park Festival Photography competition, which took place over the weekend. Steven Shotton’s lovely picture of these two cranes in the snow was chosen as the overall winner by judge Anna Kunst.  It was also voted best in the Animals category by the public.

Anna, who is herself a professional photographer, said the picture stood out both creatively and technically.

“It’s elegant, atmospheric and just caught the moment of the two birds dancing. He must have crouched down really low and taken the time to capture the moment.”

These are the category winners:

Chiswick Life

Winner Stephen Nutt

Animals

Winner Steve Shotton

The Natural World

Winner Jennifer Griffiths

Landscapes and Seascapes

Winner Nigel Spanton

The Built Environment

Winner Mark Lawson

Serendipity

Winner Jennifer Griffiths

Portraits and People

Winner Michele Kalish

Through Our Eyes (Under 12’s)

Winner Mathilde Servais-Haigh

What the judge was looking for

The photographs were on show in the parish hall of St Michael & All Angels Church over the Green Days weekend (Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 June), marking the start of the Bedford Park Festival. The public voted for the winner of each of the seven categories while Anna chose the overall winner. The competition and exhibition were sponsored by Snappy Snaps and The Chiswick Calendar.

“It’s so nice to see the photographs in print” said Anna. “I always think they are not really photographs unless they’ve been printed.

“I was looking for composition, colour, sharpness and accuracy, but pictures also have to tell a story. They have to engage the emotions. The lighting is really important too.”

Win Mensah-Larbie, the organiser of the exhibition for St Michael & All Angels Church, said she had enjoyed putting the exhibition together.

“There was such variety and quality in the entries. It was really interesting, and fun.”

Each of the category winners receives a £50 voucher for printing and framing from Snappy Snaps Chiswick. The overall winner also receives a voucher for £250. You can see all the entries online here on The Chiswick Calendar.

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See also: Bedford Park Festival Green Days 2023

See also: The Chiswick Calendar’s Green Days raffle prizes 2023

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

Raiders of the Lost Ark ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐– Review by Andrea Carnevali

In 1936, archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis can obtain its awesome powers. Available to watch on Disney +

With less than three weeks away from the release of the new Indiana Jones film, The Dial of Destiny, (anyone who’s been more than one hour in my company knows how pivotal those films are in my life!), there is no better time to re-visit all the previous films, with the excuse to watch them all again with my son.

Everybody has a favourite Indy film, but as far as I am concerned this is not just the best of the lot, but one of the best films ever made.

What is a perfect film after all? A film I can watch over and over again (as I have) and never get bored of it. A film from which I would struggle to pick one favourite scene, just because they’re all so good. A film in which I wouldn’t change anything and where all its elements (story, direction, acting, music, cinematography, editing and so on) come together in a such a way that it’s virtually impossible to choose one over the other.

I still remember going to the movie theatre when it was first released: I was nine years old and I was absolutely blown away by it. At the time there was nothing like it (and arguably, that’s probably still true today).

Right from the word go, with one of the best first sequences of any action movies ever made, you know you’re in for something special. The Paramount logo dissolving into the peak of a mountain, the mysterious forest, the haunting music, the bloody  statue, the group of explorers, the old map, the hidden cave, the pulsating tension, the crawling spiders, the giant web, the deadly traps, the decomposed body, the big scares, the golden idol, the sliding  door, the traitor, the whip,  the rolling boulder, the French baddie, the wild Hovitos running after the hero, the arrows, the chase across the fields, the swinging vine, John Williams‘s Raiders theme, the snake on the plane, the jokes breaking the tension: and all this is just within the first ten minutes!!!

And I haven’t even mentioned the hero himself, Indiana Jones.

Harrison Ford deserves a lot of credit for the success of this film (who knows what would have happened if Tom Selleck had played the role?).

He manages to make Indiana Jones strong and frail at the same time, funny and sad, invincible and weak. Indy is a hero but he gets hurt, tired, dirty and sweaty. It doesn’t matter how far-fetched and over-the-top the action might be, Ford makes it feel real.

Spielberg, here in his golden age, directs it all with clockwork perfection, orchestrating it all with a mastery that’s never showy and always serving the story and the action. He uses all the tricks in the film-maker handbook to best effect: long lens shots to enhance the tension (like during a chase sequence with the Hovitos), amazingly long tracking shots (across the desert to show the scale of the landscape), single one-take set-ups (during a drinking competition for example), tight emotional close ups and wide epic shots which would make David Lean proud.

He also knows exactly how to pitch the film: helped by a carefully crafted script, all the improbabilities are always levelled by humour, the action is always counter-balanced by actual dramatic scenes, the magical sense of wonder is always routed to reality and however cartoony some of the characters might be, they can still be scary and feel real.

So many scenes have now become classic iconic moments in the history of film, whether it’s to do with snakes in  “well of Souls”, or ghost-like creatures during the opening of the ark, running though the streets of Cairo, or fighting with a bald guy by the plane, the truck chase, the warehouse with thousands of crates at the end (incidentally, one of the best “last shots” of any movie!!), the big boulder rolling after Indy, the fantastic moment where he shoots the swordsman… and so on and so on.

The film is just a rollercoaster of invention, action and fun. And I haven’t even mentioned John Williams’ score (not a wrong note) and Michael Khan’s editing (sharp, dynamic, but always clear  and smooth).

This is so much more than just pure escapism: this is a manual of “storytelling with pictures”.

Watching it today with my son is particularly meaningful. It is “Raiders” that at the age of nine made me realise: “this is what I want to do in life. I want to tell stories, make films and earn a living with those”. If it wasn’t for this film, I probably wouldn’t even be in London right now and you wouldn’t be reading this.

To quote the film itself: we’re only passing through history. This IS history.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (and the other sequels) are now available on Disney+

Harry Potter’s Hogwarts acceptance letter for sale at Chiswick Auctions

Image above: Richard Griffiths, Harry Melling and Fiona Shaw with Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone; image IMDb

One of hundreds delivered by owl, addressed:
‘Mr H, Potter, The Cupboard under the Stairs, 4 Privet Drive’, Little Whinging, Surrey

One of the best scenes in the first book of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, is the one where the Dursleys’ house on Privet Drive is bombarded with hundreds of letters for Harry, whizzing through the letter box and down the chimney, inviting him to take up a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

One of those letters, a prop from the film, is now up for sale at Chiswick Auctions and is expected to sell for more than £10,000.

As all JK Rowling fans know, it was on his 11th birthday that Harry Potter began to receive letters inviting him to enrol at Hogwarts, delivered by owl. The more his Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia tried to ignore them, the more owls arrived.

Image above: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone; image IMDb

The letters are addressed in green ink to “Mr H. Potter, the Cupboard under the Stairs, 4, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey.

The one on sale at Chiswick Auctions came to auction from someone who bought it in a school charity sale, donated by Mark Radcliffe, a producer and partner of 1492 Pictures which produced the first three of the films.

It bears an unbroken red-wax Hogwarts seal keeping the contents (a letter of introduction and a list of requirements from Professor McGonagall) untouched inside.

The lot is accompanied by a letter of provenance on Harry Potter Productions letterhead confirming that this is one of only a limited number of props given out by the studios for charity, plus a colour photocopy of the letter inside the unopened envelope.

Images above: Props department letter of acceptance to Hogwarts

The letter inside reads:

‘We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Students shall be required to report to the Chamber of Reception upon arrival, the dates for which shall be duly advised.

‘Please ensure that the utmost attention be made to the list of requirements herewith.

‘We very much look forward to receiving you as part of the new generation of Hogwarts heritage.’

The requirements set out on the second page include three sets of plain work robes, one plain pointed hat for day wear and one pair of dragon hide gloves as well as a list of textbooks to buy, one wand, one standard “size 2” pewter cauldron, ‘and may bring, if they desire, either an owl, a cat or a toad.’

Image above: Photocopy of the letter inside the sealed envelope

Chiswick Auctions specialist Valentina Borghi expects plenty of interest from Potter collectors.

“Harry Potter ephemera this good doesn’t come on the market very often. As a general rule, the props used in the eight films have tended to stay with the studios.”

The sale will take place on Thursday 22 June.

chiswickauctions.co.uk

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Heathrow passengers to face summer of “disruption, delays and cancellations”

Image above: An airplane flying into Heathrow Airport

Substantial roster of strike dates means significant disruption could be likely

Passengers planning to use Heathrow Airport during the summer months are likely to face “disruption, delays, and cancellations,” according to Unite, the union representing the airport’s striking security staff.

The union has announced an “escalation” in a pay dispute and has called for over 2,000 security staff to go on strike for a total of 31 days between June and August.

The strike action has been timed to coincide with busy family travel dates, including the start of the main summer holidays in England and Wales, as well as the August bank holiday weekend.

In response to the impending strikes, a spokesperson for Heathrow assured passengers that every effort would be made to minimise disruption.

With strikes taking place on 24-25 and 28-30 June, 14-16, 21-24 and 28-31 July as well as 4-7, 11-14, 18-20 and 24-27 August, the key question on passengers’ minds is if and how the strikes will affect their travel plans.

Image above: An airplane flying over west London

Which terminals and airlines will be affected?

The affected workers belong to the Unite union and are employed in security search roles at Terminals 3 and 5, as well as airfield checkpoints, collectively known as “Campus.”

Terminals 3 and 5 cater to several major airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, American Airlines, Qantas, and British Airways. The strike action is expected to have a significant impact on British Airways’ summer schedule.

Terminals 2 and 4 will not be affected by the strikes, and many airlines operating from these terminals, such as Aer Lingus, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Air France, KLM, and Qatar Airways, will continue to operate as usual.

To minimise the impact of the strikes, several measures are likely to be put into place, including airlines allowing passengers to check in cabin baggage free of charge.

Additionally, extra staff will be deployed before the security search area to assist travellers in ensuring their hand luggage complies with liquid restrictions and laptops are removed, reducing the need for detailed inspections. Heathrow may also request airlines at Terminals 3 and 5 to adjust their schedules to alleviate pressure on security checkpoints.

Image above: British Airways checkin at Heathrow Airport

Passengers will be entitled to rebook on alternative flights if flights are cancelled

In the event of flight cancellations, passengers are entitled to be rebooked on alternative flights as close as possible to their original timings. If the operating airline cannot accommodate passengers on the same day, they must be provided with a seat on another carrier. The airline is also responsible for arranging hotel accommodation and meals according to the duration of the delay.

The strike action will primarily affect outbound flights, potentially causing severe delays or cancellations. Passengers returning to Heathrow on strike days will be impacted only if their outbound flights are disrupted.

At this stage, it may not be possible to change flights to avoid strike days, although some airlines might offer flexibility closer to the departure date.

Previous strikes at Terminal 5 had minimal impact on travellers’ plans, with British Airways cancelling only one in 20 flights at the request of the airport during the initial round of industrial action.

But the scale of the upcoming strikes is more substantial, with Terminal 3 staff joining the walkouts, increasing the number of strikers to over 2,000. This will strain the airport’s resources and could potentially lead to greater disruptions.

Image above: Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham

Why are security staff striking?

The dispute between Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) and Unite affiliated security staff revolves around pay. Unite’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, says the strike action will persist until a fair pay offer is made to the workers. Ms. Graham said:

“Unite is putting Heathrow on notice that strike action at the airport will continue until it makes a fair pay offer to its workers.

“Make no mistake, our members will receive the union’s unflinching support in this dispute.

“HAL has got its priorities all wrong. This is an incredibly wealthy company, which this summer is anticipating bumper profits and an executive pay bonanza. It’s also expected to pay out huge dividends to shareholders, yet its workers can barely make ends meet and are paid far less than workers at other airports.”

Heathrow says its shareholders have not had a dividend since before the pandemic and that no pay-out is expected in the current financial year.

A Heathrow spokesperson said:

“Unite has already tried and failed to disrupt the airport with unnecessary strikes on some of our busiest days and we continue to build our plans to protect journeys during any future action.

“The simple fact remains that the majority of colleagues do not support Unite’s strikes. There is a two-year inflation-beating pay rise ready for colleagues, if only Unite would allow them to have a say.

“We will continue talks with Unite about resolving this issue.”

LB Hounslow’s Grow for the Future project gets Government backing

Image above: Allotment in Chiswick

Up to 27-acres of wasteland to be transformed into ‘growing spaces’ in Hounslow

A project by LB Hounslow to turn unused sites across the borough into allotments, community gardens and orchards has received backing from the Government.

The Grow for the Future policy, which Hounslow Council says is the first of its kind in the country, has been allocated £165,000 from the government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF).

The Council hopes the sites will provide cheap food for people in Hounslow and teach children about healthy living, sustainability and biodiversity.

Up to 27-acres of what is currently wasteland has been identified as suitable for potential use in the first phase of Grow for the Future – much of which is currently inaccessible or in some cases used for little more than fly-tipping.

Hounslow Council say this will help tackle the increase in demand for allotments and growing spaces since the pandemic and allow residents to cultivate their own fresh produce in the face of rocketing food costs.

Currently, there are 952 residents on the Council’s allotments waiting list. Recently, 2,000 allotment plots were filled in LB Hounslow, which now has one of the largest portfolios of allotments in London.

Image above: Chiswick School allotment

Schools to be paired up with growing sites

For the first-time ever in the UK, the Council will look to pair each new site with a local school and dedicate a portion of it to teach urban children, often in deprived areas, about where their food comes from.

The initial phase of Grow for the Future will look at unused council-owned land, but subsequent phases will assess unused and inaccessible private land that could be taken over by the Council and opened up to the public and schools as community growing spaces.

Hounslow Council expects to be able to create 500 new spaces for food growing from the first phase alone. It plans to bring online four new sites per year and expects the first sites to be ready this summer.

The council also plans to work with voluntary organisations in the community to help schools upkeep their plots and help teachers instruct kids on cultivating the land.

The UKSPF is part of the UK Government’s Levelling Up agenda, providing funding for local investment across the country and is supported in the capital by the Greater London Authority (GLA). The funds will help the council get the first sites identified as part of Grow for the Future off the ground before the programme is expanded more widely.

Image above: Cllr Salman Shaheen

Hundreds of growing spaces will help alleviate the cost-of-living crisis, says Council

Hounslow Council now hopes the grant will encourage councils across the country to come forward with similar initiatives.

Councillor Salman Shaheen, Cabinet Member for Parking, Parks & Leisure on Hounslow Council, said:

“Grow for the Future will provide hundreds of new growing spaces for Hounslow’s residents to put food on their plates as the cost-of-living crisis bites. We will take wasteland that has lain empty for years and put it to use equipping our children with vital life skills and educating them on biodiversity, sustainability and healthy living.

“I am delighted that the government and the GLA have given their backing to this unique new programme. I hope other councils across the country will be inspired to take unused land and open it up as a common treasury for all people.

“I want to give everyone in urban environments, young and old, so often disconnected from nature, the opportunity to cultivate land they can call their own and understand where our food comes from. To learn, and grow, for their future.”

South West London Assembly Member to stand down after just one term

Nicholas Rogers AM

Nicholas Rogers to step down at May 2024 election

Nicholas Rogers, the Conservative London Assembly Member for South West London, has announced he will stand down from the London Assembly in the 2024 May election after just one term.

A former Met Police special constable and a career railway worker, Nick was elected to serve as South West London’s assembly member on 6 May 2021. He announced on Thursday (8 June) that he would be standing down.

Mr. Roger’s predecessor, veteran Conservative Party member Tony Arbour, held the role for 21 years – from 2000 until his retirement in 2021.

In February 2023, Mr. Rogers was considering to a run for the Mayor of London against Sadiq Khan, pitching his tent in opposition to Mr. Khan’s Ulez expansion policy.

Referencing the mayoral competition in his resignation announcement, Mr. Rogers said he would work to ensure a Conservative Mayor is elected, but did not mention his own candidacy.

It is understood he has not receved the support he needed from a Conservative Party whose membership is maybe further to the right on issues than he is.

“Serving as an Assembly Member has been an honour”

Taking to Twitter to reveal the news, he wrote:

‘‘I have made the tough decision to stand down from the London Assembly at May’s election.

‘‘Serving as an assembly member has been an honour. I never expected my career would lead me here and I have enjoyed it immensely.

‘‘However, next year I will have been active in local politics for 23 years – more than the whole of my adult life. I have fought four elections, campaigned in others, served as a councillor and held multiple voluntary roles within the Conservative Party. I feel it is now time to move on to other endeavours.

‘‘I will always look back on my time on the Assembly as the pinnacle of my 23 year career as a Conservative Party activist. I will of course continue to serve my south west London constituents up to the election and will work to ensure that we hold the seat and that a Conservative is elected mayor.’’

He added:

‘‘I will be forever grateful to all of my colleagues and constituents for all of the support, encouragement and friendship you have given me along the way. It has been a splendid experience.’’

Two Brentford FC stewards praised for saving fan’s life

Image above: Abdul Hakazada (centre left) and Jake Mead-Baker (centre) are presented with the award during half-time; photograph Brentford FC

Matchday stewards presented with awards during half-time for their lifesaving actions

Two match day stewards at Brentford FC have been praised for their actions after they helped save a fan’s life mid-game.

During the game against Newcastle United at the GTech Community Stadium, Bees fan Raymond Harris was in the Dugout bar when he suffered a cardiac arrest. Jake Mead-Baker and Abdul Hakazada used CPR to give him vital time before the paramedics could arrive.

The pair were presented with two Heart of West London awards during half time at the final match of the seacon agains Manchester City, recognising their contribution to cardiac health in the community. Raymond and his wife Lesley were in attendance to thank Jake and Abdul.

Brentford director Nity Raj said:

“Ensuring we are all trained to perform CPR is so important to support cardiac health. This is evident in how Jake and Abdul made a difference to Raymond’s life within minutes.

“It’s one of the reasons why we’re encouraging everyone to take two minutes to learn how to perform CPR as a part of our Heart of West London initiative. It’s a crucial skill that really can save lives.

“We’re grateful to Jake and Abdul for their quick thinking and we look forward to hosting Raymond at many more games next season.”

“Ensuring we are all trained to perform CPR is so important to support cardiac health. This is evident in how Jake and Abdul made a difference to Raymond’s life within minutes.”

Heart of West London is Brentford’s long-term partnership and commitment to bringing together key players in the cardiac health world to make a difference. The club is partnering with Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity, Cardiac Risk in the Young, Resuscitation Council UK, A-K-A Day and Pablo London.

Hammersmith Council and Sadiq Khan clash over bridge toll plans

Image above: Hammersmith Bridge

H&F Council Leader highlights “discrepancies” of views within Mayor’s team

Hammersmith & Fulham Council and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan are at loggerheads over plans to introduce a toll charge when Hammersmith Bridge eventually reopens to vehicle traffic.

Councillor Stephen Cowan, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, recently emphasised that while decisions for Hammersmith Bridge ultimately rest with the Mayor of London and the Government, the iconic Victorian-era bridge, which has been closed to cars since 2019, would need to have its own stream of revenue to fund its ongoing maintenance.

Cllr Cowan said the bridge will remain inaccessible unless £230 million can be raised to fund vital repairs. During a Council meeting on 5 June, Mr. Cowan put forward Council’s view, saying:

“We are of the view that if you’re going to force us to open up the bridge then it’s going to have to be through a toll and the argument for a toll would be that, if the bridge is going to have a proper maintenance fund for the next 100 years, it needs to probably have its own income line.”

Cllr Cowan further highlighted what he described as the “discrepancies” within the Mayor’s team regarding the future of the bridge. He said:

“The Mayor of London told us two weeks ago that he’s not supporting a toll. Indeed, I believe there has been some discrepancies in the Mayor’s team, with some believing that the bridge would remain closed and opened for cyclists – some people believe it should be open to cars.”

Images above: Leader of H&F Council Cllr Stephen Cowan, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan

Council has spent £20 million repairing the bridge

Asserting that the issue extends beyond Hammersmith and Fulham, Cllr Cowan described the broken bridge as a “wider London issue” due to the traffic problems affecting residents outside the borough. He continued:

“I think it will be up to the Mayor of London to decide what will happen to the bridge, ultimately, because it is a London issue rather than a Hammersmith and Fulham issue.”

Emphasising the financial challenge, Cllr Cowan made it clear that no council, regardless of administration, has the capacity to allocate £230 million for the bridge repairs. He also revealed that the Council has already spent £20 million to stabilise the bridge.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council say they are being told by the Government to pay an “unprecedented” 33% of the original estimated repair bill which the might reasonably have expected to be  paid in large part by Transport for London and the Department for Transport.

There are ongoing discussions surrounding the future course of action, Cllr Cowan said:

“This problem is going to remain a problem and I think it’s going to be on others to decide and insist that we spend £230 million fixing this bridge or are they going to say that it has another scope for direction – and that’s what’s currently being scoped out.”

A decision on the bridge’s usage while it remains closed to cars will be made after the completion of stabilisation works at the end of summer 2023. Plans have also been submitted for the introduction of lightweight, electric shuttles to facilitate river crossings.

Image above: Plans for a two-tier temporary bridge at Hammersmith Bridge have been given the green light

Cllr Cowan accuses Tories of politicising issue

Describing the bridge repair process as one of the Council’s most stressful endeavours, Cllr Cowan accused the Tories of politicising the issue. Directing his comments at a Hammersmith and Fulham Tory councillor, he said:

“This is a national embarrassment. It is ridiculous that we have had the bridge closed and that we’ve not had any proper support because it’s being used as a political football.”

Cllr Cowan further expressed frustration at the lengthy bureaucratic meetings, remarking:

“I have wasted years of my life sitting in ridiculous task force meetings where it ended up with the minister involved ultimately saying this is a problem for Hammersmith and Fulham to fix and quite honestly, I didn’t need to sit in so many meetings to get that from a minister in the first place.”

Since the discovery of cracks and other significant defects in April 2019, engineers have been working on the project, with repairs expected to take approximately 10 years to complete. Hammersmith Bridge, listed as a Grade II* structure, is one of the world’s oldest suspension bridges, constructed using wood, wrought iron, and cast iron pedestals to hold the suspension in place.

Image above: Hammersmith Bridge

“Shocking” to accuse Tories of politicising issue, say Tories

Responding to Cllr Cowan’s comments, a DfT spokesperson said:

“LBHF is responsible for decisions regarding repairing and reopening Hammersmith Bridge, but we continue to engage with all relevant parties to find a cost effective solution, and are committed to providing up to one third of repair costs.”

They said decisions around what engineering options are taken and approaches to reopening are made by the Council and that reopening the bridge to all users, including motor vehicles, remains a Ministerial priority.

The deputy leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Conservatives, Cllr Andrew Dinsmore, said:

“It is shocking that Cllr Cowan alleged that the Conservative Party is politicising Hammersmith Bridge when it is the Labour Party that have been pursuing an anti-car agenda through (i) the closure of Hammersmith Bridge to cars, (ii) the closure of Wandsworth Bridge, (iii) the ULEZ scheme which punishes the most venerable in London, (iv) traffic schemes without proper consultation, and (v) extortionate parking charges.”

A spokesperson for Sadiq Khan said:

“Hammersmith & Fulham Council have been clear that the purpose of a potential charge on the bridge would be to raise revenue to repay the costs of repair works on the bridge, and not to deliver wider transport policy objectives.

“As such, the appropriate approach to introduce the toll is through a tolling order, which would be managed by the Department for Transport. The Mayor and TfL (Transport for London) are committed to supporting the reopening of Hammersmith Bridge and will continue to work closely with the local council and the Government.”

Shakespeare in Love Q&A with director John Madden at Chiswick Cinema

Images above: Jonathan Maitland and John Madden

The film turned down by several directors and actors as being too risky, which went on to win seven Oscars

It is 25 years since the film Shakespeare in Love was made, with a cast that reads like a Who’s Who of British actors and a script by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard. The film won seven Oscars, including Best Picture. Director John Madden was at Chiswick Cinema to talk about it a quarter of a century on from its creation.

“I was nobody” he told Jonathan Maitland. “Well, not nobody. I’d made Mrs Brown.”

Why was he offered the film to direct? It had had a particularly difficult gestation. Various actors and directors had been associated with the project. Julia Roberts had been interested in doing it with Daniel Day Lewis but the project had all fallen apart until Harvey Weinstein had picked it up.

“Whatever else he was, he was a brilliant producer” said John Madden. Weinstein recognised a good script when he saw one, and he had the money to pay the £6m price tag, which he did after the project had been dormant for six years.

“Weinstein had incredible passion and a ruthless belief in something once he was committed.”

Image above: Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes in Shakespeare In Love; photographs IMDb

Universal did not want to make a film with Shakespeare in the title

Tom Stoppard, who had written Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, happened to be on the payroll of Universal and was brought in to rewrite the script. “He is a brilliant writer”, said John Madden, and as he had made a couple of films before with Harvey Weinstein, Weinstein asked him if he would like to direct it.

The reason the path to production had been so tortuous was that Universal did not really want to make a film with ‘Shakespeare’ in the title, John told the audience, thinking it would give the impression of being dry and academic.

Shakespeare In Love is anything but, with very attractive young actors in the lead roles – Joseph Fiennes as Shakespeare and Gwyneth Paltrow as his muse, whose on screen chemistry could teach the Love Island lot a thing or two – not to mention Ben Affleck and Colin Firth.

There is a lot of running around, sword fights, banter, and a very witty script brought to life by the cream of British character actors – Imelda Staunton, Mark Williams, Martin Clunes, Tom Wilkinson – not to mention Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth, Simon Callow as Master of the Revels, Geoffrey Rush and Anthony Sher.

Image above: Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes; photographs IMDb

‘Romeo and Ethel, the pirate’s daughter’

It treads a very fine line between respecting Shakespeare’s ability as a story teller and taking liberties by creating a totally fictional love story which runs in parallel with the play the playwright is creating in the film – Romeo and Juliet.

Shakespeare is supposed to be writing a comedy, Romeo and Ethel, the pirate’s daughter, but junks it in favour of Romeo and Juliet when he meets Lady Viola de Lesseps, who becomes his muse and breaks his period of writer’s block. Geoffrey Rush’s character, the theatre owner, spends the whole film bewildered that there is no shipwreck and no slapstick scene with a dog.

“There was a long list of directors who fought shy of it” John Madden told the audience, because they thought it was too much of an ‘in’ joke. Actors too, though he declined to name the actors who had turned it down. “Some actors I thought were absolute naturals didn’t want to do it. They fought shy of it.”

Gwyneth Paltrow had not wanted to do it initially, until she was persuaded to meet Joseph Fiennes, “and it moved on from there.”

Colin Firth originally said ‘no’ too. John Madden revealed an interesting titbit of gossip about our local film celebrity.

“He was a little hurt that I accepted his ‘no’. I thought ‘no’ meant ‘no’.” But apparently it didn’t. Colin Firth wanted to be wooed.

Images above: Ben Affleck; Colin Firth and Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love; photographs IMDb

“There were definitely times I thought we weren’t going to make it.”

John Madden had his own moments of doubt about whether the film would work.

“I remember waking up in the middle of the night thinking: ‘There’s a woman in a moustache. This is never going to work’. I said to my wife ‘it’s all unravelling’. There were definitely times I thought we weren’t going to make it.

“I felt it needed to cleave to Shakespearean comedy. While we were making it I felt terrified because there were so many fragments. I told people ‘don’t look at the rushes, it won’t make any sense until it’s all put together’. I didn’t know it would work until we put it together. At the preview I relaxed, because people were roaring with laughter.”

There are lots of different threads and as if that was not difficult enough, he had to withstand Harvey Weinstein’s pressure to make Ben Affleck Romeo.

“What nobody knew about Joe [Fiennes] was that he had a really good comic gift. It’s really hard to be the serious one when everyone around you is cracking jokes.”

Weinstein was notoriously a bully, said Johnathan Maitland, so it was surprising that John Madden had managed to withstand the pressure.

“I was never, weirdly, scared of him” John Madden told him. “This was the third thing I’d done with him and when he wanted Mrs Brown I said ‘You can’t have it unless you agree in writing not to change it.”

Mrs Brown, about Queen Victoria’s relationship with her ghillie, with Judi Dench and Billy Connelly in his first acting role, was already finished and John did not want it messed about.

Images above: Jonathan Maitland and John Madden; audience

Compromising with Harvey Weinstein

Shakespeare in Love had several alternative endings, and one in particular which Weinstein was pushing for. When the film was first shown to an audience 65% thought it “excellent or very good”.

“I thought that was wonderful but for them it wasn’t good enough. Harvey wanted to rewrite the ending and Tom came up with a brilliant solution.

“Harvey wanted to test the film again after we’d finished it. I said ok, but I’m not coming back to change it.”

One alternative ending was, as Viola goes off to the New World and her ship is wrecked, as she struggles up the beach she asks the first person she comes to: “What country is this” and is told “This is America, lady.” “Well, good.”

John Madden told the audience: “That was not the poetic Shakespearean ending people wanted.”

They shot one version which he did not print. He did not want anyone to see it, especially Weinstein, but he felt they eventually got it right. Tom Stoppard, he said was “the consummate politician, who was entirely on my side.”

Images above: Geoffrey Rush as Philip Henslowe; Judi Dench as Quen Elizabeth; photographs IMDb

“This one was special”

Tom’s comment on Shakespeare: “He writes with extreme compression that results in an explosion of meaning.”

He showed Shakespeare to be something of a magpie, pinching ideas from all over.

“Tom pulls the rug out from under him, but at the same time treats him with respect” said John.

Does the film stand the test of time? He had not seen it for years, he told us.

“There are some things I can’t watch again, but this was special.” It also “was so anachronistic, it existed in a time of its own.”

He brought his grandchildren and their friends to the screening to see what they thought, and their reactions seem to confirm that yes it did.

Image above: Joseph Fiennes as Shakespeare; photograph IMDb

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Ruth Cadbury speaks out in debate against Heathrow expansion

Image above: Ruth Cadbury MP near Heathrow Airport

MP calls for ‘better, not bigger’ Heathrow and calls for action around workers’ rights and noise pollution.

The MP for Brentford and Isleworth, Ruth Cadbury, used a speech in a Westminster Hall Debate in Parliament to reaffirm her opposition to a Third Runway at Heathrow Airport, while also raising a number of other constituency issues relating to Heathrow expansion.

In her speech, Ms. Cadbury warned that even without a third runway at Heathrow there could still be a big increase in the number of flights arriving at Heathrow if runway alternation is ended.

During the day, when planes are landing and taking off to the west (westerly operations), Heathrow alternate the use of their two runways to provide local communities with respite from noisy planes.

The Brentford and Isleworth MP also said there is need for adequate noise insulation schemes to ensure residents locally could access double glazing and other improvements to reduce noise pollution.

She finally called on Heathrow to do more to improve the rights and conditions of the thousands of staff who work at Heathrow Airport.

Image above: Heathrow Airport

Third runway “would only make noise pollution worse”

Speaking after the debate, Ms. Cadbury said:

‘‘When I was elected in 2015 I promised residents locally that I would fight against Heathrow expansion and eight years later I was proud to speak out, once again, against the impact that expansion would have on communities locally.

‘‘Whether you live in Brentford, Isleworth, Osterley or North Chiswick the excessive noise from the existing two runways is already having a huge impact. A third runway or an expansion in the number of existing flights would only make noise pollution worse.

‘‘On top of this despite the improvements bought by the New Elizabeth Line a third runway would mean more congestion and crowding on our transport network locally.  Heathrow also needs to do more to support its hard-pressed workforce. I strongly opposed their decision to use fire & rehire tactics on their workers in the pandemic, and I’m concerned that many working in and around the airport are still facing low pay and poor conditions. Heathrow must be better, not bigger.

‘‘I will continue to work with campaigners, local community groups and residents across West London to protect our local community from expansion.’’

E-bike company Lime to investigate botched launch in Chiswick

Image above: Lime bikes in Chiswick; Photograph LB Hounslow

Users unable to park in designated bays over the weekend may discover they have been fined

E-bike providers Lime have said they will be investigating their botched launch in Chiswick, which saw part of the necessary technology introduced early, leaving Lime bike users confused and vulnerable to being fined through no fault of their own.

Lime bikes were introduced with the idea that you could pick one up wherever you could find one and leave it wherever your journey ended, the huge advantage being that users can make a one way journey and not have to worry about looking after a bike.

Because some users are inconsiderate and literally leave them in the middle of the pavement, a hazard for pedestrians, especially wheelchair users and people with prams and buggies, LB Hounslow decided to introduce mandatory use of parking bays.

Over the past few weeks new parking bays have been marked out all over Chiswick and Brentford as a pilot for the whole borough. Users activate a QR code when they start their journey, using either the Lime app or Uber, which enables them to find bikes and pay for their journeys. They are supposed to tell the app when they finish their journey.

With the introduction of mandatory parking bays in Chiswick, Lime should be able to tell whether bikes have been left in the designated parking spaces and users will be fined if they have not.

The new system was introduced at the weekend but someone at Lime appears to have been trigger happy because the technology to tell users to use the parking bays was introduced on Friday 2 June, when it was supposed to have been introduced on Monday 5 June.

As a result users got a message at the end of their journey telling them they had to park the bike in a parking bay, but the geolocator showing where the parking bays are located was not working. Even if they parked the bike in a designated bay, there was no way of letting Lime know that, leaving bike users vulnerable to being fined.

Image above: An a-bike parking bay in Chiswick (7 June); Photograph Jackie Elizabeth via Facebook

Teething troubles causing “chaos”

Nigel Walley was one rider who was fined £5. Others have  received warnings, but not been fined.

Nigel Walley took to Twitter to complain:

“This badly managed implementation has caused chaos so far. I was in a growing crowd of Lime users outside the pubs on Strand-on-the-Green last night who couldn’t work out why we suddenly couldn’t park anywhere??

“Eventually we worked it out, only to realise that the only areas to leave them were a really long way from the pubs – dramatically reducing the usefulness of the scheme.

“Then when we took some visiting friends on them to Gunnersbury stationfor their tube home there were no bike parking bays anywhere near the station. The nearest was Bollo Lane or Acton Lane.”

Drew White tweeted:

“We can’t park at *Turnham Green Terrace *Rocks Lane sports centre *TG Tube station *Devonshire Rd *Sainsbury’s Nearest “designated parking area” shows outside church on Ealing Borough side.”

Cllr Katherine Dunne, deputy leader of Hounslow and Cabinet Member for Transport, told The Chiswick Calendar there are parking bays at key infrastructure points, such as tube stations; they just were not showing on the app.

She responded to Drew on Twitter on Saturday:

“The new bays aren’t active until tomorrow when they will be populated by Lime. For a full list of locations see: e-bike rental scheme trial.

Seeing the barrage of criticism on social media, she posted:

“There was an error on Friday evening where the zones were prematurely activated but the pins were not uploaded – this caused some user frustration as users were asked to park in a bay but these were not yet in the system. We will identify all users who struggled to park and send some comms out this coming week to apologise for any frustration, reverse any charges and investigate why the geofencing was activated earlier that it should.”

Another problem which has emerged is that if you dump a bike near a parking bay rather than within it, the geolocator is not precise enough to know that, so Lime ask users to send a photograph of the correctly parked bike as well.

Above: Tweet by Deputy Leader of Hounslow Council – Cllr Katherine Dunne

Fleet of 700 e-bikes delivered to Chiswick

There are 56 designated e-bike bays positioned around Chiswick. E-scooters are not included in this scheme.

The Council announced the signing of an exclusive agreement with Lime, a San Francisco-based company, to operate the e-bike scheme within the borough. As part of this trial initiative, a fleet of 700 e-bikes was delivered to the area, to accompany the introduction of additional parking restrictions.

The borough of Ealing has not introduced mandatory parking bays, so Lime users in the part of Chiswick which is in the borough of Ealing will still have the flexibility to leave bikes wherever they finish their journey. There are plans for a London wide agreement next year, but until that is agreed and introduced the Lime bike system is a hotch potch of different rules in different boroughs. In some you can park anywhere, in some riders have to use mandatory parking bays and in others there are parking bays but their use is only ‘advisory.’

Unlocking a bike costs £1, followed by a charge of 23p per minute. Regular users can benefit from deals and discounts offered by the scheme. As part of the new scheme, Lime will offer 50% off the cost of e-bike rides for lower income residents via its Lime Access programme. The programme provides eligible riders – including concession pass holders, key workers, students and the unemployed – with unlimited discounts with Lime, helping them to get where they need to go in a ‘safe, sustainable and affordable way’.

Image above: A car parked in one of Chiswick’s designated e-bike parking bays; Photograph Cllr Katherine Dunne via Twitter, a Lime bike parked outside of a designated parking bay; Photograph Mark Izatt via Twitter

“We are working with them to resolve any issues”

Councillor Katherine Dunne, Cabinet Member for Climate, Environment and Transport Strategy told us:

“I am sorry to learn some riders were penalised over the weekend. Lime is contacing the users affected to reimburse them. We are working with them to resolve any issues.

Lime bikes told us:

‘The launch in the borough of Hounslow will be delivered in three phases. As we move forward with the rollout of bikes in the borough, the number of dedicated e-bike bays will also be increased in the coming months. Once all phases have been launched, we will continue to work with the council to ensure that the density of bays in the area is sufficient to meet demand.”

Lime say the vast majority of their 1.5 million users in the UK ride and part responsibly, helping to reduce congestion and improve air quality in their local area.

“For the few who don’t, we have a robust fining model in place, and roughly 80% of users do not reoffend after their first fine.

“When parking, all Lime users are required to take an ‘end-trip photo’ of how they park. These photos are reviewed, with users warned and fined for mis-parking. Fines start at £2 for the first offence, and escalate to £20 for the fifth offence under our progressive discipline policy. After this point, the rider will be permanently banned from our service.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Stand By Me (1986) – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

Stand By Me ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Review by Andrea Carnevali

After the death of one of his friends, a writer recounts a childhood journey with his friends to find the body of a missing boy. Screening Tuesday 27 June 2023 at Chiswick Cinema with Q&A with Andrea afterwards.

I find incredibly difficult to talk about Stand By Me without being completely biased or detached. My response to any movie is usually an emotional one: if it makes me laugh or cry or even just think then it means somehow it worked; but if it makes me laugh, cry and think… as is the case with Stand by Me, then there must be something more to it!

On Tuesday the 27 of June I’ll be showing this at the Chiswick Cinema and will have the chance to share it with people who might not have seen it before, or at least share my love for it with those who have seen it.

The word ‘classic’ gets over-used all the time. Any anniversary is an excuse to re-release any piece of junk that’s more than 20 years old. Most of those films carry that cheesy sense of nostalgia for the ‘80s, and that’s sometimes enough for them to appropriate themselves with a cult status. But when you look at them closely, you’ll find that they have actually aged quite badly, both technically (terrible matte paintings, visual effects or synthesised music) or stylistically (The look, the clothes and the hairstyles and the corny dialogue nobody seemed to mind so much at the time).

However Stand by me has the advantage of being a period piece (It is set in 1959… “a long time ago, but only if you measure it in terms of years”… to quote the film itself) and its simple, subtle and honest depiction of the period not only hides the cheesiness of the ‘80s but also adds a sense of timelessness to the proceedings. The film is 37 years old (oh my God!! Where has time gone!?!), but it could just as well have been made yesterday… except that they don’t really make them like this, do they?

I loved it at the time, for its sheer sense of fun, adventure and mischief and I love it today for its poignant look at the way we were… A childhood that’s gone, but never forgotten.

It’s the ultimate “coming of age” story, set in the hazy, warm, sunny and dreamy landscape of Oregon, as four friends set out on a journey along some railway tracks, looking for the body of a missing boy.

The film is adapted  from a novella called The Body included in Four Seasons by Stephen King, (The Shawshank Redemption was also adapted from the same book) and like all the best tales from King, finds its strength in the way the characters are fleshed out: rarely have teenagers been so truthfully depicted than in Stand by Me. The contrast between the way they try to act as adults in front of each other, by smoking or swearing and the way they reveal their real age by talking about the most childish and mundane things and yet making them sound profound and meaningful (“Mighty Mouse is a cartoon. Superman’s a real guy!”) is one of the beauties of this film.

Behind all that, there’s a pure and real sense of friendship that permeates the whole film, which is probably the thing that resonates the most with me.

That line at the end on that cold computer screen “I never had friends like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?” still echoes inside me, so many years later and it’s one of the most poignant and truthful line I can remember in any film.

The interaction between the four young actors is the real power of Stand By Me: never for a moment you think they might be acting. Will Wheaton’s take as the sensitive Gordie is impeccable. The way he pauses before delivering his lines, how he smiles and looks at his best friends, how he proudly tells them the silly story of Lard-Ass, how he breaks down into tears at the sad realisation that his parents might hate him and finally how he coldly threatens Kiefer Sutherland‘s terrifying bully, without even flinching (“Suck my fat one, you cheap dime store hood!”). They don’t give Oscars to performances like this, but God they should!

Both Corey Feldman and Jerry O’Connell are also spot on in their roles, bringing not only that amount of comic relief needed but also that sense of playfulness that kids at that age have (“I don’t shut up I grow up, and when I look at you I throw up!”)

But ultimately it’s River Phoenix who steals the show. The poignancy and sincerity he brings to the role of Chris Chambers is even more enhanced today by his premature death in 1993. The heartbreaking ending of the film (no spoiler here, we are told right at the start) leaves me with a hole in my stomach every time and a sour taste knowing what an incredible actor he could have become.

Beautifully photographed, as seen from the dreamy eyes of an adult (in this case Richard Dreyfuss) who’s obviously very fond of those memories, the film is also accompanied by the most wonderful soundtrack, a mixture of hits from the time, perfectly integrated into the film (like the moment the kids break into singing Lollipop) and the actual score made up with a subtle slowed down version of Stand By Me itself by Ben E. King

This film is a real little gem, a small masterpiece that still works today, not just because its timelessness, but because of its charming and honest look at childhood, a time of innocence when friendship really means something and when the most important question in life is “If Mickey’s a mouse, Donald’s a duck, Pluto’s a dog. What’s Goofy?“.

If you live in London, do make some time for it on Tuesday the 27  June 2023 and come and see it with me at 8pm at the Chiswick Cinema: you won’t regret it.

Book tickets: chiswickcinema.co.uk

Man who killed Ali Abucar Ali likely to spend rest of his life in mental hospital

Images above: Ali Abucar Ali; Betty Walsh

 Norris Henry court order

The man who killed Ali Abucar Ali, the 20-year-old from Brentford who was fatally stabbed in the street in November 2021, is likely to spend the rest of his life in a mental hospital following a disposal hearing at the Old Bailey on Tuesday (6 June).

Norris Henry was detained under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act 1983. A Section 41 Restriction Order was imposed on the same day.

The order is without a time limit and may mean he will remain in hospital for the rest of his life. If he ever gets better, the Metropolitan Police say he may face a murder and attempted murder trial.

On Thursday 13 April, at the same court, Henry was determined responsible for the murder of Ali Abucar Ali, 20, and the attempted murder of Betty Walsh, a woman in her 80s.

The trial was not a criminal proceedings, rather a determination of the facts due to Henry’s mental health. He has not been found guilty of any criminal offence, as he was unfit to plead, but a jury found that he did the ‘act’.

“A really sad case”

On the evening of 12 November 2021, Norris Henry was walking along Albany Road, Brentford, when he brandished a knife and stabbed Betty. She has since made a full physical recovery but her quality of life has been affected by fear of going out now.

After he had stabbed her, Henry walked further along the road and stabbed Ali Abucar Ali. Ali died soon after as a result of his injuries. A large scale police operation was launched and officers  found Henry wandering the streets in the hours after the attacks. He was subsequently charged with murder and attempted murder.

After his arrest, psychiatrists determined that Henry was suffering from treatment resistant paranoid schizophrenia and was not fit to make a plea or to stand trial as a result of his mental illness. He therefore faced a trial of the facts where the jury found that Henry committed the acts of stabbing both victims.

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Brian Howie, from Specialist Crime, said:

“This is a really sad case where the unprovoked and completely random knife attacks destroyed the lives of two families. Mr Ali’s family will feel his loss every day for the rest of their lives. The other victim endured a traumatic experience which she and her family continue to struggle with.

“We thank the surviving victim and the families of those involved for their patience throughout this investigation and court case and those people who helped both people on the night of the attacks. Their courage and resilience has been an inspiration.”

London Irish suspended from Premiership as financial deadline not met

Image above: library image

Rugby club has failed to meet deadline to provide financial assurances for next season

London Irish Rugby Club has been suspended from the Gallagher Premiership after failing to meet the deadline to pay players and staff. The club, which had until Tuesday (6 June) to complete a takeover or face suspension, will not be able to participate in any league next season.

Despite efforts by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and other stakeholders to secure the club’s long-term viability, the takeover by a US consortium did not materialise, and transparent evidence of funding was not provided. The suspension leaves the Premiership with only ten teams for the upcoming season, following the previous demise of Worcester Warriors and Wasps.

London Irish had enjoyed a successful season on the pitch, finishing fifth in the Premiership and reaching the final of the Premiership Rugby Cup for the second consecutive year. But off-field issues plagued the club, with debts totalling approximately £30 million and negotiations for a sale to a US-based consortium dragging.

The club’s owner, Mick Crossan, had to step in and pay overdue wages in April, narrowly avoiding breach-of-contract notices from players.

The RFU initially set a deadline of May 30 for the completion of the takeover or suspension from the Premiership. But due to ongoing negotiations, the deadline was extended to 6 June. In addition to the takeover, the club needed to provide evidence of funding for the next season and ensure full payment of salaries for May. At the same time, London Irish faced a winding-up petition from HM Revenue & Customs over an unpaid tax bill.

Image above: London Irish fans

“Desperately sad news”

The Premiership has experienced significant challenges recently, with the insolvency of Worcester and Wasps during the previous season. Both clubs went into administration within a span of three weeks and were subsequently expelled from the Premiership.

Wasps had their conditional offer of a place in the Championship withdrawn by the RFU, while Worcester was suspended after entering administration. Wasps will now compete at the lowest tier of English rugby, while the future return of Worcester remains uncertain.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney said:

“This is desperately sad news for everyone who is part of the London Irish community as well as all the players, fans, staff and volunteers for whom this club means so much.”

Brentford FC, the owner of GTech Community Stadium where London Irish played their home matches, has not commented on the club’s departure.

Sources close to the club have previously commented that the wear and tear of rugby matches on the ground had resulted in expenses that significantly ate into any extra revenue derived from London Irish playing there, so for Brentford the loss of London Irish is not considered disastrous.

The ChiswickCalendar reveals Chiswick’s most hardworking councillor

Image above: Cllr John Todd and Cllr Jack Emsley

Cllr John Todd, representing Homefield ward

The Chiswick Calendar can reveal who is Chiswick’s most hardworking councillor – Cllr John Todd, who represents Homefield ward.

Chiswick has nine wards represented on Hounslow Council. LB Hounslow keeps tabs on how much work the councillors do by recording the requests for help from constituents that they follow up. LB Ealing does not do this, so Chiswick’s Lib Dem councillors in Ealing’s Southfield ward may cry foul and take issue with our conclusions.

John processed 298 pieces of casework since he was re-elected last May. He is closely followed by Joanna Biddolph with 238 pieces of casework. None of the others even come close. The rest have only managed double figures. (To be fair, they do mostly have full time jobs such as teacher, head teacher, university administrator).

Leading the way with his exemplary casework, John Todd’s ward is the one in which you are most likely to get some help from your councillors. Chiswick Gunnersbury is not far behind, boosted by Joanna Biddolph’s powerhouse of activity, but Chiswick Riverside trails way behind, despite boasting the leader of the Conservative group Peter Thompson within its ranks (who has managed to do only about half the amount of casework the new Labour councillor Amy Croft has achieved).

One to watch is Jack Emsley – though only elected last year, and working full time in marketing, he has managed to get his head round the system and outshine all his colleagues with the exception of John and Joanna. The other new councillor, Amy Croft also appears to be working harder for constituents than some of her Conservative colleagues.

Here are the figures:

Image above: Table of casework carried out by Chiswick councillors representing wards in LB Hounslow; one to watch, Jack Emsley

The figures in the table above represent the work the councillors log in the Council’s casework system which have been acted on by Council officials. Councillors receive a request for help and notify the relevant department, for example in the case of flytipping, the waste management team.

Once it is logged in the system, officers have a statutory duty to reply, so the casework figures in the table represent the number of times councillors have raised an issue and received a response from an officer.

The biggest flaw in the system which councillors describe is that if there are follow-ups to a query, chasing the Council for updates on a family’s position on the housing waiting list for example, these are not logged.

Cllr Jack Emsley, Homefield ward, LB Hounslow

Jack Emsley, elected for the first time last year, told The Chiswick Calendar:

“I’ve loved getting stuck in as a new councillor over the last 12 months. The role has been incredibly varied, from working with our brilliant Assembly Member to secure a new pedestrian crossing at the Hartington Road/A316 junction, to taking action to protect local biodiversity by supporting the work of some of our fantastic local community groups.

“A quick breakdown of my casework shows that the biggest single issue has, perhaps unsurprisingly, been traffic and transport, with just over a third of my cases related to topics such as tackling speed or helping residents navigate the labyrinth that is the council’s poorly thought-out Grove Park traffic schemes.

“Housing, and in particular housing maintenance, has also been high on the agenda, as has tackling fly tipping and antisocial behaviour.”

Cllr Andrew Steed, Southfield ward, LB Ealing

Andrew Steed, one of Southfield’s three Lib Dem councillors told us Ealing does not monitor their work flow at all. Instead they rely on work of mouth reputation as to how effective they are as councillors.

“The amount of casework varies and in Southfield we will pass on issues if one of us has a particular expertise or knowledge of a topic or an issue. If particular issues or problems arise you can have a sudden flood of emails, this happened when Ealing Council restricted use of Fisher’s Lane for example.

“I think the main point I would make is that often we are contacted because residents have been unable to ‘get through’ to the Council, or they send an email that never gets acknowledged or answered.

“The problem may be comparatively minor and in theory easily fixable but if you are hanging on the phone for fifteen minutes and then get an unsatisfactory answer, you can and should contact your local Councillor. The advantage we have is that in most cases we know the officer to contact directly.”

How to contact your councillors

Chiswick Homefields ward, LB Hounslow

Cllr John Todd (Conservative)  john.todd@hounslow.gov.uk  / 07866 784651

Cllr Jack Emsley (Conservative)  jack.emsley@hounslow.gov.uk  / 07977 396017

Cllr Gerald McGregor(Conservative)  gerald.mcgregor@hounslow.gov.uk  / 07866 784821

Chiswick Gunnersbury (previously Turnham Green) ward, LB Hounslow

Cllr Joanna Biddolph (Conservative)  joanna.biddolph@hounslow.gov.uk  / 07976 703446

Cllr Ranjit Gill (Conservative) ranjit.gill@hounslow.gov.uk  / 07976 702956

Cllr Ron Mushiso (Conservative) ron.mushiso@hounslow.gov.uk  / 07976 702887

Chiswick Riverside ward, LB Hounslow

Cllr Peter Thompson (Conservative)   peter.thompson@hounslow.gov.uk  / 07977 395810

Cllr Gabriella Giles (Conservative)  gabriella.giles@hounslow.gov.uk  / 07966 270823

Cllr Amy Croft (Labour) amy.croft@hounslow.gov.uk  / 07977 396014

Southfield ward, LB Ealing

Cllr Andrew Steed (Lib Dem) SteedA@ealing.gov.uk  / 07736 649664

Clly Gary Malcolm (Lib Dem) gary.malcolm@ealing.gov.uk / 07813 205218

Cllr Gary Busuttil (Lib Dem) busuttilg@ealing.gov.uk / 07985 443860

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Pride month 10k Thames walk

See also: ‘Chiswick Oasis’ opened by Sadiq Khan in 2019 mentioned in his new book on air quality and the climate crisis

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Chiswick School arts programme for the summer term – come see

Images above: Chiswick School steel pan; Performing Arts Choir on Coronation weekend

It has been a bumper whirlwind roller coaster ride in the Arts department at Chiswick School

By Tommy Robinson

As with all schools we have had the pressure of exam expectations and deadlines. Music, Performing Arts and Art all had their year 11 practical exams this term and after five years of study, heartache and triumph it was time for them to show just how good they are.

In a term where Ofsted (and their procedures)  have been at the forefront of all teachers’ minds, the idea of being individually judged is never an easy one for anyone, let alone artists. This is also the first time since COVID that the exam process has “returned to normal”.

However the job of a school is relatively simple…get the students a level of education that can be assessed and quantified so employers and further education establishments can see where they are in relation to others. Government league table aside, and OFSTED grading…the outcomes for our students is our number one concern.

So for the past five years we have pushed and encouraged those students who have a talent or passion for the arts to ensure they get the best possible outcome. Now we wait for August!

Image above: Chiswick Voices Choir travelled to Oxford University, Somerville College, to sing in their Choral Contemplation

Public performances at Watermans arts centre, the Tabard theatre and Oxford University

Of course in the Arts it is not all test, test, test, it’s also about engagement and fun. It is this engagement that establishes in the mind of our students that the Arts are important and they can do well.

This term has been full of successes for Art, Dance, Drama and Music. We have performed publicly seven times over the past six weeks.

Included in this our Chiswick Voices Choir travelled to Oxford University, Somerville College, to sing in their Choral Contemplation. Our Dance group went to Featherstone High to participate in the Hounslow Dance Festival to great applause and our Drama department performed 12 at Watermans Arts Centre to a two-night Full House.

Our Arts department was extremely proud to announce that one of our year 12 students has been chosen to exhibit at The Royal Academy Summer Show. Drama also had student success with one of our year 11s being accepted into the National Youth Theatre.

One student taking part in the Royal Academy Summer Show, another headed for the National Youth Theatre

The weekend of the Coronation was a very busy one for us, with performances from our Steel Pans at Strand on the Green, our rock band “The Q” in South Acton and our Performing Arts Choir entertaining the crowds at the Flower Market. Earlier in the month the same group also performed at the W4 plinth reveal with a song and a dance.

The next and final term will be even busier, with a planned nine shows including our full school production of Charlie and Summer Arts Festival, a Dance show and our much-anticipated Arts Awards.

Images above: Left and centre, student headed for the National Youth Theatre; Right, performance of 12 at Watermans

Awards are also something that has defined this term for us in the Arts. In April our Music teacher Mr Moxon was shortlisted as Pearson Education New Teacher of the year and in May the school was proud to announce their short listing for the TES Secondary School of the year.

In addition to this the Arts department announced their own double shortlisting for TES Excellence in Creative Arts Award and  Subject lead of the Year (for Mr Robinson).

If you measure a school by its success, then it is clear just from the last term alone that we at Chiswick School can quantify that success.

Image above: Among the plans for the summer, a Dance festival

Forthcoming shows

No need to suffer from fear of missing out, we have plenty happening in the summer term.

Thursday 29 June Summer Concert – St Nicholas Church

Wednesday 5 July Summer Arts Festival – Chiswick School

Monday 10 / Tuesday 11 July Charlie! – Chiswick School

Wednesday 12 JulyAberfan and Dance festival – Chiswick School

Thursday 13 July Arts Awards- Chiswick School

Saturday 15 July Little Women – Tabard Theatre

Monday 17 July Metamorphosis – Chiswick School

More details on twitter and school website.

chiswickschool.org

Tommy Robinson is Coordinator of Creative and Performing Arts at Chiswick School.

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A Critical Stage – Theatre at the Tabard review

Image above: Barbara Wilshere and David Acton in A Critical Stage at the Tabard; photograph Charles Flint

New play by Chiswick resident Gareth Armstrong

Review by Simon Thomsett

James Agate was a key figure in English theatre during the middle part of the twentieth century, primarily as an influential and respected critic, most notably for the Sunday Times in an era when such a position conferred status on the holder. His printed opinions mattered and had significance for the success or failure of the shows he reviewed.

A Critical Stage is a new play centred on Agate, set during the war and currently playing at the Theatre at the Tabard. Written and directed by Gareth Armstrong, the play is a finely drawn character study of Agate and some of his immediate circle.

Image above: Jeremy Booth as the conceited and highly opinionated Agate

The first half is rather uneven. The start is decidedly Joe Orton-ish with some jokey business about bondage, casual sex and an unconventional use of a silver trophy. That frantic beginning suggests that what follows will be a bit of a lark, but the tone then shifts into drawing room comedy before settling for a rather calmer dissection of a character who may be little known now except to theatre historians.

Armstrong’s play sits in judgement of its lead: he doesn’t read the books that he’s meant to review, openly admits to leaving plays before the end and is driven by a desperate desire for a knighthood, which he believes is his due for his services to literature.

This is an interesting risk; Armstrong makes his lead unlikeable and rather self-obsessed. Jeremy Booth as Agate rises to the occasion and plays him as high-minded, not much interested in other people’s feelings and protective of his right to expose any flaws he perceives, even when the criticism seems rather personal.

Image above: Sam Hill as Spike, with Jeremy Booth and David Acton

When actress Gwen arrives (a poised and thoughtful Barbara Wilshere) following publication of a scathing review of her performance in one of Shakespeare’s most famous roles, she is reproachful and tries to unpick Agate’s apparent willingness to be cruel.

It is she who will confront him as the play moves on and ask awkward questions about the difference between the artist and the commentator.

Others are more indulgent: Spike, Agate’s general runabout, ever ready to do the great man’s bidding is played with cheeky charm by Sam Hill. Leo, an Austrian Jewish refugee and Agate’s secretary, is played by David Acton with apparently endless patience. But Leo is a man adrift, a talented pianist who is unable to play in public due to an initially unspecified “terror”.

Image above: David Acton as Leo, in full flow

The nature of that terror is chillingly revealed later with Acton commanding the stage as he relives a moment in his past that has been hitherto repressed.

In the end, the play is more character study than story driven and as such, it’s done with aplomb.

A word too, for Hazel Owen’s set, which feels both lived in and of its time, The Tabard’s production values impressing as ever. A Critical Stage plays until 17 June.

tabard.org.uk

Simon Thomsett

Simon Thomsett has worked in the professional theatre for a number of years. He started out as a stage manager and technician then became a venue director and producer, notably at the Hackney Empire, Fairfield Halls and most recently the New Victoria Theatre in Woking.

Since leaving full time work last year, he is now working as a consultant and on some small scale producing projects. He is a Chiswick resident and a passionate advocate for great theatre.

 

 

Pride month 10k Thames walk

Image above: Pride celebrations at the Black Lion

Raising money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association

By Lucinda MacPherson

More than 200 people signed up for a 10k Thames walk on Saturday 3 June, organized by the West London Queer Project in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Motor Neurone Disease is a debilitating neurodegenerative condition that affects thousands of individuals worldwide. It progressively damages the nerves responsible for muscle control, leading to difficulties with movement, speech, and breathing. The MNDA provides crucial support to those living with MND, as well as their families and caregivers.

Image above: Walkers with Jeremy Vine and Ruth Cadbury (R)

Jeremy Vine and Ruth Cadbury MP give support

Broadcaster Jeremy Vine and Ruth Cadbury MP were there at the start to give support. Ruth said:

“It’s great that one great cause and one great movement have come together today to support each other. Today’s event will raise awareness and funds for the MND association which does a great job.

”MND is one of those silent diseases, difficult to diagnose, that many GPs only come across once in their career.

“The West London Queer Project are a fantastic, enthusiastic group of people supporting each other across West London, here limbering up for Pride on July 1st.”

June is Pride month, with events happening all month, and the big London Pride parade takes place on Saturday 1 July.

Image above: ‘Beary Poppins’ with Vojin Soskik and Adam Jones from The Hogarth Club

Finishing with a sing along in the Black Lion’s beer garden

Vojin Soskik, and Adam Jones from The Hogarth Club got the crowd warmed up, gamely accompanied by Beary Poppins in vertiginous heels.

After a beautiful stroll along the sunlit Thames everyone came back to party in the Black Lion pub’s garden where we discovered, after just one pint and without ever having seen either, that we knew all the words to Frozen and Celine Dion’s greatest hits.

Images above: First the serious bit – the walk

West London Queer Project

The West London Queer Project is an inclusive community organization dedicated to fostering unity, acceptance, and empowerment within the queer community of West London. By organizing events and initiatives, WLQP aims to create a safe and supportive environment for all individuals, celebrating diversity and promoting social change.

The Motor Neurone Disease Association provides support to those living with MND, their families, and caregivers, while also funding research to understand the causes of the disease, investigate potential treatments, and ultimately find a cure.

Images above: Black Lion’s beer garden taken over for a sing along

Photographs and words Lucinda MacPherson.

West London Warriors celebrate one year anniversary

Image above: West London Warriors; photograph Aubrey Crawley

LGBT+ touch-rugby team in Chiswick

The West London Warriors, an LGBT+ touch rugby club, are celebrating their one year anniversary on Saturday 10 June with a BBQ, DJ, taster sessions and matches.

The event will take place from 2pm at Grasshoppers RFC in Isleworth and the team is encouraging anyone who would like to try (or watch) the game to register and attend for free. Touch rugby is a version of the game in which players do not tackle each other but instead touch their opponents using their hands on any part of the body, clothing, or the ball.

The West London Warriors is a mixed gender team. Co-captain, Julia Dahlgren, told The Chiswick Calendar the main thing she took away from her first session was “how good the vibes were” and that “the main reason I’d encourage other people to join is the community aspect.”

The club was formed in partnership with Pride in Touch and the West London Queer Project and Julia says coaches Tom Hall and Nick Heath do a “phenomenal job of setting the tone during the sessions: the focus is on inclusion, acceptance and celebration”.

Image above: Julia Dahlgren; photograph Ben Watts

“It’s not just ‘rugby light’, it’s got completely different rules”

Jake Norgrove,  told us before finding out about the West London Queer Project, he found opportunities to meet other LGBT+ people outside of going to clubs and bars were limited.

“There was basically nothing around and then I started seeing posts about the West London Queer Project but I never really plucked up the courage to go to an event… particularly the touch rugby stuff.

“I almost went six or seven times, and when I finally went it was exactly what I wanted to do. It just helps that everyone here is so open and welcoming and there’s no judgement, there’s just this cameraderie that I’ve never had with a group of guys.”

Jake, now 31, said he tried out for rugby at school:

“I played about three of four games, got pummelled to bits, and that was like, the end of me. And then, once I’d come out to myself, I decided it just wasn’t something I could do… that wasn’t an avenue I’d ever be able to go down”.

“I didn’t really want to go and end up getting knocked about, get concussion, cauliflower ears, and all that sort of stuff. So touch just felt more approachable, and actually once I started playing, it’s a completely different game, it’s not just ‘rugby light’, it’s got completely different rules, it’s exhausting, and a joy to play.”

Image above: West London Warriors; photograph Tom Hall

“A real community feel”

Des Fleming, who had never played any type of rugby before attending the first taster session told us:

“I thought there was a real community feel to the group, it was very welcoming. There was a great diversity in terms of gender and age and it was fun, very enjoyable”. 

Des says the team: “continues to grow and we continue to welcome new people into the group. And for me personally I find it very important to have an outlet where I can connect with people socially, but there’s an activity involved”.

If you would like to come and watch or try it out, register at the West London Queer Project website.

wlqp.org

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Richard Attenborough – A retrospective season at Chiswick Cinema

Images above: Richard Attenborough in In Which We Serve (1942); images IMDb

Actor, producer, director – one of the most prolific film makers Britain has ever known

The first time I was aware of Richard Attenborough as an actor was when I watched Noel Coward’s In Which We Serve as a child. Weekend television was full of Black and White war films and I saw it with my father, who had served in the navy on destroyers during WWII.

Like the sailors in the story, he had lived through the experience of having his ship torpedoed, twice, in the shark filled waters off South Africa. Watching the film brought it all back to him: the memory of being in the oily water waiting for rescue and as ships came and went, not knowing if he would be picked up. It was the only time he talked to me about what he had gone through in the war.

What I did not realise until I started doing some research on Richard Attenborough in preparation for meeting his son Michael, was that this had been Richard Attenborough’s first film role at the age of 19. His name did not even appear in the credits, but his performance as the young sailor who cracked up and deserted his post under fire was so memorable I can visualise it now all these years later.

By the time he was 26 he was one of the most popular actors in British film, after the success of Brighton Rock (1948) based on Graham Greene’s novel, in which he played the psychopathic gangster Pinkie Brown so creepily.

Image above: Richard Attenborough in Brighton Rock with Carol Marsh; image IMDb

There followed a slew of films in the 1950s and ’60s: I’m All Right Jack (1959) with Peter Sellers, The Great Escape (1963) and The Sand Pebbles (1966) with Steve McQueen, The Flight of the Phoenix ((1965) with James Stewart, and Doctor Dolittle (1967) with Rex Harrison, before he turned his hand to producing and directing.

His credits as director are equally if not even more prolific and impressive: Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), Young Winston (1972), A Bridge Too Far (1977), Gandhi (1982), A Chorus Line (1985), Cry Freedom (1987), Chaplin (1992), Shadowlands (1993) and Closing the Ring (2007), the love story set in Belfast during the Second World War starring Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer and Pete Postlethwaite which was to be his last film as producer and director.

Unless you are under the age of 30, tell me you have not been profoundly moved by at least one of these films, or that they do not serve as markers to various points in your life. No wonder he was President of RADA and BAFTA (and Chelsea FC. A man has to have a hobby).

Where to start though, when it comes to arranging a retrospective to mark the centenary of his birth? Michael Attenborough, no mean achiever himself in the world of theatre, has lived in Chiswick for more than 30 years and has chosen a programme with Chris Parker at Chiswick Cinema of five films to run this year and another five next year, to highlight his late father’s achievements.

Image above: Michael Attenborough at home in Chiswick with his father’s Oscar

Film programme

This is the programme for this year:

Sunday 18 June – The Angry Silence (1960) Actor

Sunday 9 July – Gandhi (1982) Director

Sunday 30 July – The Great Escape (1963) Actor

Sunday 10 September – Shadowlands (1993) Director

Saturday 11 November – Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) Director

Image above: Richard Attenborough in The Angry Silence with Michael Craig; image IMDb

The Angry Silence – “a landmark film”

“I chose The Angry Silence” Michael told The Chiswick Calendar, “because for me it was a landmark film.

“Before he did it, he said he was going to give up acting because he was fed up with being cast as the psychotic boy next door and he was always cast much younger than he was as well, so he set up Beaver Films with Bryan Forbes and started producing films.

“He couldn’t get anyone to put up the money for this film as it was controversial, so they made it as a profit-sharing venture and I think this was one of the first, if not the first example of a profit-sharing film. It got made because everyone did it for nothing. ”

The film is about a young factory worker who decides to stand up against his workmates and fellow union members when they want to hold a wildcat strike. An odd choice for a man who was a committed lifelong supporter of the Labour Party?

“It’s not a film against striking. It’s a plea for democracy, it’s about the abuse of democracy.

“The miners union in Wales said they wouldn’t show it and he asked if he could go and show it to them and talk to them about it. They ended up not only showing it but giving him a miner’s lamp, which I have upstairs. He was very active on miners’ rights.”

Image above: Michael Attenborough with a photograph of himself and his father

The film was a critical success and even though he had not set out to play the lead, doing so had the unexpected bonus of boosting Richard Attenborough’s acting career.

“It transformed his acting career. He was offered older parts and was offered big character roles which would never have come his way otherwise.”

It led to the role of serial killer John Christie in 10 Rillington Place (1971). After a stint as director he came back to acting again in the 1990s in the Jurassic Park films, Miracle on 34th Street (1994) and Elizabeth (1998).

Michael was ten when his father made The Angry Silence. He remembers it well because he went to the set with him and heard his lines in the car on the way there and while he was doing his make-up.

The family lived in a big house in Richmond: Michael, his two younger sisters and their parents. His mother was the actress Sheila Sim. Michael often went with his father to the film studio.

“For a while I was quite nervous, very aware not to be in the wrong place, not to stand in an actor’s eyeline for example, but he tended to use the same crew again and again, the sound man, the continuity woman and so on, so I got to know the crew quite well.”

Image above: Oh! What a Lovely War; Image IMDb

Oh! What a Lovely War – first film as a director

Oh! What a Lovely War was another turning point. The satire on WWI used the metaphor of a seaside pier as the entry point from which young men experienced the harsh reality of the trenches.

The music hall performers at the end of pier theatre (including a young Maggie Smith) enticed them up onto the stage to take the King’s shilling and the shooting gallery morphed into the battlefield.

“It was based on Joan Littlewood’s theatre show and he found a metaphor that stood in for the theatricality of it.”

Watching the filming of Oh! What a Lovely War in Brighton was how Michael met his first wife at the age of 18, the actress Jane Seymour. Jane was one of the chorus girls.

“I met Jane at 18. We married when I was 21, separated when I was 24 and got divorced when I was 26. We are still good friends.”

Richard Attenborough was nominated for a BAFTA award for Best Director for this directorial debut and went on to be nominated for Young Winston, A Bridge Too Far, Gandhi and Cry Freedom.

“Dad was so ferociously committed to his work, he led a completely crazy life, running around filing and doing political work.”

Their relationship was not always easy. With a father as successful as Richard Attenborough, the environmentalist / documentary maker David Attenborough as his uncle, and a university academic for a grandfather, failure in their family was not considered an option.

“He was a very different dad to me than he was to my two sisters. I was quite frightened of him as a child. He was an authority figure.”

Richard had a very combative relationship with his own father, Michael told me, especially as his father was Principal of Leicester University College and Richard did not want to go to university. He gained his father’s respect by winning a scholarship to RADA, but suffered an intellectual inferiority complex despite his achievements as an actor.

“David once said his older brother ‘failed exams with impressive regularity’, so I was pushed because he didn’t want me to feel the same way.

“I suddenly got a wonderful English teacher at Westminster and began to get interested in literature and as I got better academically he mellowed. I went to a radical chic university – Sussex, which was a delight.

Richard was given the honorary position of Chancellor of Sussex Univeristy in 1998, a position which he held for ten years.

“I used to joke with him that I got him into university.”

Michael grew up to be a theatre director who has been artistic director of the Almeida Theatre, Principal Associate Director and Executive Producer of the Royal Shakespeare Company and Associate Director of a number of other theatres around the country before that.

He is Director Emeritus of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and was awarded a CBE in 2013 for services to theatre.

Image above: Richard Attenborough and Sheila Sim with all eight Oscars

Gandhi – winner of eight Oscars

Back to the films in the retrospective season. Gandhi, the epic historical biography of the man who led India’s successful campaign for independence, won eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, so it is a no-brainer to include the film in the season.

“It is his momentous film” said Michael. “His stand-out biggest and best achievement. It was an 18 year obsession because he couldn’t get the money.”

The Hollywood studios would not back it because they wanted a big star to take the lead and in their minds there was no such Indian actor.

“They told him he was mad. Bigger fools them.”

Image above: Richard Attenborough filming Gandhi with Ben Kingsley

Michael claims the credit for suggesting Ben Kingsley, (an English actor who is half Indian). When Gandhi was made Michael was in his early 30s and already well established in his theatre career.

“He would pick my brains. I knew Ben. I knew his work and I knew him socially. I took dad to see him in Baal, a Bertolt Brecht play that was on at the Donmar Warehouse.”

Apparently Richard didn’t think much of the play, but did rate Ben, who went on to win the Oscar for Best Actor. Michael also introduced him to the composer George Fenton, who he signed up to produce the music. He and Ravi Shankar were nominated for Best Original Score but did not win. He and Richard went on to work together on Cry Freedom and Shadowlands.

“Actors liked working with dad” Michael told me. “Ben Kingsley paid him a very nice compliment. He said: ‘he democratised every space he walked into’.

“He inspired huge loyalty because of his sense of commitment, his passion and his energy.”

Image above: Richard Attenborough and Charles Bronson in the tunnel; Steve McQueen making a break for it

The Great Escape

“We picked this because it is just such an iconic movie. Even football crowds still sing the theme tune.”

Richard had always turned down offers from Hollywood when his children were young because he wanted to keep his family together. The Great Escape was deemed to be OK because it did not mean working in LA, it was filmed in Germany, and it saw the beginning of a “lovely relationship” with Steve McQueen, said Michael. They went on to make The Sand Pebbles together three years later.

“Many years later dad got a phone call from Steve McQueen when he was in LA. He went to meet him in a downtown bar. It was dark inside and down the far end of  the bar was this man wearing a baseball cap. They spend a couple of hours chatting. Eventually dad said he had to go to a meeting and he was on his way out when McQueen called him back and said ‘I love you, you know that, don’t you?’

“A week later he died. He didn’t tell dad he was dying of cancer but he was wearing the cap because he was having chemo and his hair was falling out.”

“I also had an extraordinary meeting with Robert Downey Junior after dad had died. He did the tribute to dad at BAFTA.

“I think Dad was a bit of a father figure to him. He gave him this walloping great break as Chaplin. Dad felt some strain during the filming, but stayed calm and thought Robert was a genius.’

“He had an avuncular / paternal relationship with some of these actors. He had an easy way with everyone.”

A hard person to come out from under the shadow of?

“I readily admit there was a Richard shaped monkey on my back for quite a long while, but he loved my career. He loved Sussex University and my theatre career.

“He was a devoted follower of everything I directed, but not (tactfully) at first nights. But when it came to my first on the legendary main stage, [at Stratford] he would not be deterred!”

Peter was directing Othello. 

“He said ‘are you kidding? You think I’m not going to see my son’s opening night? He was very proud.

“When I was awarded my CBE I was in my mid-sixties and he was in Denville Hall, a care home for retired actors. I remember thinking as I was driving down to see him how pleased he would be and realising that I was still trying to please him. He was thrilled.”

Image above: Debra Winger and Anthony Hopkins in Shadowlands; Richard Attenborough directing; Images IMDb

Shadowlands

Shadowlands tells the story of how C.S. Lewis, a world-renowned Christian theologian, writer and professor, lead a passionless life until he met spirited poet Joy Gresham from the US.

“I picked Shadowlands because it was his favourite of all the films he’d directed. It was the fifth movie he’d done with Anthony Hopkins. They got on like a house on fire.

“Tony said dad was just very practical. He understood actors and everything was just very straightforward. ‘He talked my language’ he said.”

Image above: David Attenborough speaking at an International Monetary Fund meeting; Image IMF

Staying with Uncle David

I could hardly let the opportunity pass to ask about “Uncle David” who as a result of his extraordinary career has won a place in the nation’s heart as a ‘national treasure.’

Of course he was also a fabulous uncle. Making an exception to his not-filming-in-Hollywood rule to make The Flight of the Phoenix in 1965 with a hero of his, James Stewart, Richard called Michael, aged 15, into his office to break the news.

“The bad news is I’m taking your mother and sisters with me to Hollywood but you can’t come because you’re doing your O Levels. But the good news is that while we’re away you’ll be staying with Uncle David.

“I was delighted. David is a lovely man and his house was full of animals. He had a pet gibbon called Sam who I spent a lot of time talking to. The first night I stayed there though, uncle David pulled the curtains to sit down for dinner and I got the surprise of my life. The curtains were covered with stick insects.”

He also made up for missing the filming by joining them for the summer holidays.

“Gregory Peck let us stay at his house while he was away. It was so plush, with a huge swimming pool. The beach parties there were great fun.”

Book tickets to the opening night

Michael Attenborough will be taking questions from the audience after the first of the series, The Angry Silence, on Sunday 18 June. He has many more stories where these came from!

You can book tickets here: chiswickcinema.co.uk

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Triangle of Sadness (2022) – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

Triangle of Sadness ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ – Review by Andrea Carnevali

A fashion model celebrity couple join an eventful cruise for the super-rich. Triangle of Sadness is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

For some reason this film had escaped me when it was first released, despite being nominated for an Oscar for best feature.

Some of my friends had told not to judge it by its title and that it was actually a hilarious dark comedy, others even counted it as their best film of the year, but some really hated the hell out of it.

Anything with such extreme views surely deserved to be explored.

Indeed Triangle of Sadness is a both interesting and flawed. At times brilliantly surprising as well as utterly banal, sharp and unfocussed, funny and depressing. All of which totally confirmed the polarised comments I had heard.

Director Ruben Östlund had already shown his talent with his 2014 film Force Majeure, an exploration masculinity, gender roles and expectations, which was thought-provoking, nuanced and overall as difficult film to watch, just as it was a hard one to forget .

Compared with Force Majeure, Triangle of Sadness feels a lot more scattered and disjointed, but the director’s trademarks and interests can be seen throughout.

The film touches on a variety of themes (and that’s part of the problem, it just “touches on them”), from the exploitation of young models, the emptiness of the fashion industry, even the idiocy of the world of influencer. But then, just when you think you’ve worked out what kind of film this is, the settings and the focus changes radically, as we move to a luxury cruise and meet a series of deplorable and outlandish, super-filthy-rich characters: the impeccably mannered English duo, the Russian billionaire who proudly declares “I sell shit” (meaning fertiliser), the ultra-polite crew, whose only job is to smile and please the rich, the drunken Marxist captain (played by Woody Harrelson) and so on.

When a storm hits the ship, most of the passengers give in to sea sickness and vomit the contents of their seven-course dinner all over the luxurious interiors (a scene which reminded me both of Stand by Me and The Meaning of Life). Meanwhile the sewer overflow from the toilets…

You can see where I’m going with this.

While some of the symbolism may be not very subtle, there are some hilarious and even clever moments in the film, as it launches into fierce criticism towards the rich, gender roles, social networks, patriarchy, capitalism, socialism, feminism and inequalities.

It is all over the place and there are entire moments which feel too self-congratulatory, at times even lazy at times, but I won’t deny that the absurdity of the characters and the over-the-top, the ridiculousness and the awkwardness of certain scenes, was quite a lot of fun.

But just when you thought the indulgencies could not be stretched any further, you realise there’s almost another hour to go and the film takes yet again another complete left turn for ‘part three’ for a spectacular “demolition” of modern life.

Whether the lack of focus can also be seen as a deliberate choice for allowing the film to be more of a character study, focusing on the relationships and interactions between the main characters, I can see why this also might alienate some viewers (just like its open end will), but at the same time it does invite you to draw your own conclusions.

In the end, Triangle of Sadness may not have the sharp edges of Östlund’s earlier work, but, despite its pacing problems (which undoubtedly dilutes the satire), his craft, indisputable talent, as well as the great chemistry between the two main lead at the centre of it, played by Harry Dickinson and Charlbi Dean Kriek, saved the film.

Dickinson is particularly strong, bringing a vulnerability to the role that makes his character sympathetic, despite the very questionable choices he makes.

Whatever you think of it, this is a film full of ideas and while some may not be as sharp as Östlund might have wanted them, some will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.

Triangle of Sadness is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick, and a co-creator of the Chiswick In Film festival.

Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse (2023) – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

Spiderman: Across the Spiderverse ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½ – Review by Andrea Carnevali

Miles Morales catapults across the Multiverse, where he encounters a team of Spider-People charged with protecting its very existence. When the heroes clash on how to handle a new threat, Miles must redefine what it means to be a hero. Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse is out in cinemas now.

I remember watching the first Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse back in 2018 on a preview screening, knowing nothing about it. The film seemed to have come out of nowhere, but it instantly blew me away and eventually became my favourite film of that year.

It was fresh, clever, original and ground-breaking, with its unique and innovative style, which blended traditional hand-drawn animation, with computer-generated imagery. It created a dynamic, vibrant and beautiful world that felt like a comic book come to life in the best possible way.

But it was also emotionally charged, moving and funny at the same time, tackling themes of identity, family, and responsibility and that anyone could be a hero, in a way that was both relatable and inspiring.

The film was a success with both critics and audiences alike and set the bar pretty high for superhero films in general (too high it seems looking at many other superhero films) and eventually it won the Oscar for best animated film that year (and very deservedly too!)

Across the Spiderverse, the first of two promised sequels (part three is due to come out next March) had a lot to live up to.

I went to see it tonight with my wife and son and each came out with a slightly different view, but we all agree that it felt a little bit like “Spider-man on acid” (though my 10 year old so didn’t quite express it like that).

The film does move at light speed (too fast for some, I’m sure) jam-packed with so many details, stories, information, visuals, music, emotions, that you might need a couple of viewings to take it all in.

Both my wife and my son got a bit lost towards the end and needed a guiding hand to help them through the labyrinthine, head-spinning plot. In their defence, it had been a long day and it finished quite late at night (the film clocks at around two hours and 20 minutes, maybe a tad too long).

Having said all that, I was pleased to see that everything which made the first one a success was present here too, though of course, this being a sequel, somehow it didn’t feel as fresh as the original.

One thing is certain: it is a feast for the eyes, with barely a frame that would not be worth hanging on a wall.

The animation is just as good as the first one and at times even more imaginative.

The concept of multiverse felt so new when the first film was released, but in the last five years it seems to have spiralled out of proportion, diluted by all those other (not so good) Marvel films, last year’s Oscar winning Everything Everywhere All At Once (which shares some of its madness with this one) and even in an episode of Riverdale. But here the overall scope and the detail of the drawings make each world seem limitless, reviving not just the concept of multiverse, but also reminding us all why it is that some films should stick to animation instead of trying to make everything look real and actually diminishing the effect (I’m talking to you Disney and your mermaids!).

But this isn’t just another movie about the parallel universes, or another Spider-Man or even another superhero adventure, this is actually an ambitious film with more energy, imagination and ideas than any of the latest superhero films from the last few years. For that alone, it should receive high praise.

It is at times a bit too chaotic and, however much I loved most of it, I did find that few of the action sequences went on for too long and felt too frenetic.

I remember feeling the same about the ending of the first film, but this sequel seems to want to go a few steps beyond, having raving-mad kinetic sequences popping up all the way through. But then again, it may have something to do with my age, so that’s probably a warning of caution for those above 50s.

However, when it does slow down and allows the emotions to shine and to guide you through the story, it is as magic as movies can get and works beautifully.

The way Miles interacts with his family, the nuances in their conversations, the body language when talking to the girl he’s in love with, even the attention to detail in the way his bedroom looks is not just high-level stuff for an animated movie, but for any movie in general.

I know I am going to watch it again and again, maybe even pausing at times to take a breath (possibly rest my eyes and my ears) and enjoy the gorgeous visuals.

I cannot wait for March next year to see how it’s all going to end.

Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse is out in cinemas now.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick, and a co-creator of the Chiswick In Film festival.

The Little Mermaid (2023) – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

The Little Mermaid ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ – Review by Andrea Carnevali

A young mermaid makes a deal with a sea witch to trade her beautiful voice for human legs so she can discover the world above water and impress a prince. In cinemas now.

Before I start talking about this latest remake, it might be worth mentioning that back in 1989 the original Little Mermaid was the film that almost single-handedly saved Disney Animation after a series of flops throughout the ‘80s (Oliver & Company, The Great Mouse Detective and the biggest flop of all, The Black Cauldron).

Not only was the film a huge success with both critics and public, but it created a new sort of winning formula, which many of the subsequent classics followed to the letter: the baddy song, the Broadway-style flashy musical number (Be our guests, I just can’t wait to be king), the funny sidekick and the cute one (with links to merchandising) and so on and so on. Look no further than Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Lion King, Mulan. They all followed that template.

Unfortunately these days the new templates seem a lot less inspired and more driven by numbers and CGI.

And so here’s another ‘live-action’ remake which follows the exact same beats of the story, with the same characters, with pretty much the same songs, the same score, just updating few bits and pieces here and there to be more in keeping with our woke society.

Ariel is now a black mermaid, the song Kiss the girl has subtle changes to make sure nobody sees Prince Eric as wanting to impose himself onto the girl by giving her an unwanted kiss (yes, really) and lines like “The men up there don’t like a lot of blabber” and “They think a girl who gossips is a bore” are cut out of Poor unfortunate souls because they may hurt people’s sensitivities (even though the song is actually by the baddie of the film) and finally the mere 83 minutes of the original are now stretched up by almost an hour, bringing the film’s total length to two hours and 15 minutes. Reports of kids falling asleep or asking their parents “when is it finished?” are flooding message boards all over the internet.

The extra length of course gives time for more backstories (something I’m sure you were all craving for, when you watched the original), three more songs, courtesy of Alan Mencken and Lin-Manuel Miranda, including a rap, which seems to have stumbled onto the film by complete chance and feels like it belongs to a completely different genre, and a whole extra bit on land (cheaper to film than underwater), which is all you want in a film called The Little Mermaid.

There are other pointless other changes too, like the fact that Ursula, the sea witch villain, is now king Triton’s sister, which might make their rivalry a bit more personal, but considering that she’s a squid, actually makes very little sense. There’s even a new character, Eric’s mother, in case you thought we needed a much better fleshed out Prince (after all parity goes both ways, doesn’t it?).

Anyway, I’ll stop here. I apologise , if you might have detected a hint of dismissiveness in everything I’ve just said above, but believe me when I say that it all comes from a place of deep fondness for Disney animated classics (of which The Little Mermaid is clearly one) and I just hate seeing them all ripped off, repurposed, rehashed and essentially made worse without a hint of imagination.

In fact I would go further and say that not a single animated character gains anything by being made to look real. Each of the animals lose their expressions, that sense of fun and outrageousness that only animation can bring. However proficient their voice talents are, nothing can replace let’s say the little fish Flounder’s eyes popping out of his sockets as he runs scared, or Sebastian the crab’s jaw literally dropping as he sees Ariel singing and caressing Prince Eric, or Scuttle the seagull’s mad look as he tries to explain what a comb is.

There’s hardly any surprise, no sense of discovery, fresh fun and crucially no magic, which is what used to make Disney films so special. Now they just seem to want to tick boxes and bring home some cash.

This has been a problem since The Lion King live-action version (or rather Computer Generated, since not a single animal was real), all the way through the Beauty and the Beast and Lady and the Tramp. Why can’t they just find new stories instead of tinkering with the old ones? Why do they have to make them exactly the same, forcing us to compare them with what came before?

But I’m wasting my breath… As I am typing this a live version of Lilo and Stitch is being made and just a few months ago they announced that ‘Moana’ is getting her live action treatment (though I don’t see how they can claim they want to update that for the modern audience since Moana was only made in 2016).

I rest my case.

OK, rant over, I can now tell you that, given all the above, this was actually the least annoying and insulting Disney live action remake I’ve seen so far. Still pointless, but at least it was well made (most of the mermaid effects are nicely rendered) and gave Halle Bailey a chance to show the whole word her star power and her amazing talent at singing.

In fact, if I really have to be honest, this was much better than I had feared it would be, but when I stop and think about it, most of the things I liked were things which were already great in the first film.

I know one should judge things in their own terms, but when something is such a carbon-copy of what came before it’s very, very hard not to compare it.

I am happy I saw it, but would I watch it again or show it to my kid over and over as I’ve done many times before with the original? Certainly not. Enough said.

So three and a half stars are more enough for this one, unless of course you haven’t seen the original, in which case you might want to give it an extra one.

Royal Paintbox – Q&A with Director Margy Kinmonth

Image above: Queen Victoria’s Paintbox; Royal Paintbox, Foxtrot Films

A documentary based on a conversation with King Charles about his art and that of his ancestors

There is a vogue at the moment for long, lingering camera shots of lovely paintings in very high definition. Vermeer: The Greatest Exhibition was the number one ‘event cinema’ release at the end of April. Foxtrot Films’ documentary about the Hammersmith artist Eric Ravilious – Drawn to War won a Big Screen Award and Best documentary Film at the 2022 LA Femme International film festival for the way in which it highlighted the artist’s work.

The Ravilious film was so successful here that Chiswick Cinema will be bringing it back later in the year. The same director, Margy Kinmouth, was at Chiswick Cinema last week talking about another of her documentaries, Royal Paintbox, based on a conversation with King Charles about his own and his ancestors’ art works.

Image above: Prince Charles talking to Margy Kinmonth; Foxtrot Films

50o years of royal artists

Mary Queen of Scots was the earliest royal antecedent who dabbled in art, as far as they could ascertain. Five centuries ago she occupied her time in prison, waiting for Queen Elizabeth’s decision on her fate, with embroidery.

It was not just an idle way of passing the time, Margy Kinmonth told the audience at Chiswick Cinema, but a way of asserting her independence by sending a subversive message – the vine in the embroidery symbolised continuity. Her line would continue and would continue to bear fruit.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine (1619 – 1682), a cavalry general who fought in the English Civil War, was an accomplished maker of mezzotint prints – a monochrome printmaking process which superseded the woodcut.

Prince Charles, as he was at the time the documentary was recorded, leafed through Prince Rupert’s paintings and prints – lots of pictures of soldiers and battles – chatting animatedly about them. You could see that the subject of art brought out the best in him. He is clearly very enthusiastic about it.

“Certain people who know him quite well have said this is the most intimate portrait of him they have ever seen” said Margy proudly.

“I wanted him just to talk quietly and respond to me rather than making speeches. I didn’t want it to be an interview as such. I wanted it to be more of a conversation. I wanted to have surprise and an emotional response from him.”

Image above: Margy Kinmonth

She had written to him initially not expecting much and was surprised to get an almost immediate response. She was invited to tea at Clarence House to discuss the project and he said yes straight away, which is very unusual.

Royal enthusiasm notwithstanding, it still took her more than two years to film, getting the most she could out of half hour sessions in the various palaces. She filmed at Balmoral, Birkhall, Highgrove, Windsor Castle, Frogmore and Osborne House and Prince Charles took her out into the highlands to show her some of his own favourite places to paint.

He loves to try and capture the snow on the hill, he told her. He used to take an easel and paint en plein air, but found our climate not conducive to such activity. You tend to get rain splotches, which are particularly unhelpful when using watercolours. He switched to making sketches and showed Margy his notes of where the light fell and what the colours should be.

“The light is so important” he said. “The colour of beech trees in winter when the bare branches go purple is difficult to get right.”

Image above: Silver birches in winter on the Balmoral estate in Scotland; Foxtrot Films

Margy managed to mirror the views in his watercolours with similar light at the same time of day in the same season in her film. She showed the highlands in winter and the lakes he had painted  with shafts of light illuminating sections of hillside.

Queen Victoria painted many of the same views in similar light. King Charles is a prolific artist but Queen Victoria painted literally thousands of pictures. He remarked on the similarity – not just of the views and the fact they both used watercolours, but the similarity in style.

“I’ve ended up doing the same sort of views [of Balmoral]. It’s home. I’ve tromped across these hills for over 60 years. They become part of your soul.”

Image above: Prince Charles walking on the Balmoral estate; Foxtrot Films

He sounded genuinely delighted as he showed Margy the paintings and drawings Queen Victoria had made of her children. They showed Victorian dress in great detail and gave some insight into how the children spent their time. There was a lot of dressing up and making theatre productions. Albert also drew, but his pictures were more of battles and soldiers.

It is very noticeable how Queen Victoria’s paintings changed after Albert’s death. She spent 40 years in mourning and painting was her solace. Before his death she always drew people, but after it she turned to empty landscapes.

Once of her daughters, Princess Louise, was a “seriously good artist,” said Charles. She became a sculptor and the first member of her family to exhibit in sculpture at the Royal Academy.

Image above: Lady Sarah Armstrong Jones at work; Foxtrot Films

Prince Charles was obviously chuffed to have inherited artistic skills from his ancestors and pleased that they are coming through in the next generation. Princess Margaret’s daughter Lady Sarah Armstrong Jones is a professional artist who sells her work through a gallery.

“It demonstrates the importance of being introduced to art at a young age”, said Prince Charles, “and of learning to look and observe.”

I learned that he has a drawing school in London – the Prince’s Drawing School, recently renamed the Royal Drawing School, which offers all sorts of art courses to young people and offers scholarship places for 10 – 18year olds.

The documentary is a very gentle watch. Margy has made the most of what she was able to take from their brief meetings, and padded it out with comments from Lady Antonia Fraser, Jane Roberts, Charles Saumarez Smith, Marina Warner, Jane Ridley, Catherine Goodman, Susannah Fiennes, Countess Mountbatten Of Burma, as well as Sarah Armstrong-Jones.

It is showing in selected cinemas around the country and wherever they go Foxtrot Films has a little book on show of the pictures of Prince Louis of Battenberg (1854 – 1921). He spent a lot of his time at sea and as a consequence many of his drawings are of his ships and of his travels. These were first shown in the Illustrated London News on 8 April 1876.

Images above: Watercolours by Prince Louis of Battenberg 

To find out more about Royal Paintbox and Foxtrot Films visit their website

foxtrotfilms.com

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A Man Called Otto (2022) – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

A Man Called Otto ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️– Review by Andrea Carnevali

Otto is a grump who’s given up on life following the loss of his wife and wants to end it all. When a young family moves in nearby, he meets his match in quick-witted Marisol, leading to a friendship that will turn his world around. Available to watch on Netflix.

I’ve always thought if ever there was a man who is impossible to dislike, it would be Tom Hanks (though I was proven wrong just yesterday, when chatting to a friend, she told me how much she detested him… Go figure?! I guess that might be the exception that confirms the rule). Tom exudes a warm and friendly persona that makes him instantly relatable and likeable whatever the film. A sort of modern-day Jimmy Stewart, as he has often been described. He seems to have a natural charm, wit, and affability which makes the audience feel like they’re watching a trusted friend.

Clearly the makers behind this film are very aware of Hanks’ superpower, so much so that they are willing to let him play against his type, as the grumpy and rather unlikeable Otto, trusting that the audience will still want to stick with him until they are finally rewarded as the film eventually turns into a heart-warming and touching story.

Hanks’ understated performance captures the character’s gruff exterior and inner turmoil with equal skill. He brings a depth and humanity to the role that is truly impressive, with a perfect balance of humour and pathos.

In the end it is impossible not to be moved by Otto’s journey.

Director Mark Foster certainly knows how to pull your heartstrings (his Finding Neverland was another one of those films which floored me at the time).

I have seen this film twice already and I have to be honest, it got me both times.

The film is a remake of the 2015 Swedish, Oscar-nominated, film A Man Called Ove (itself based on a book from a few years earlier) and follows the beats from the original pretty closely as well as keeping the same tone too, constantly switching from comedy to drama, rather successfully.

It is a film that constantly switches from one extreme to the other: at one moment Hanks is on the verge of suicide (these scenes are always hard to watch, but perfectly calibrated and judged within the film) and a moment later we are treated with hilarious sequences with his new quirky neighbours.

There are some moments of brilliant subtleties, like the way the camera lingers for just enough time for us to register two empty cups of tea, and as Hanks drinks from of them, we feel the emptiness left by his dead wife.

But there are also some undoubtedly corny lines from a script which is at times a bit too on the nose. The story overall is fairly predictable and a bit formulaic too, but despite the calculated schmaltz (which prevents the film from being really great) I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t fallen for it. I laughed, I cried and eventually loved being part of this world, with all those characters (Mariana Treviño is absolutely splendid as Marisol!).

So please, try to check your cynicism at the door and just go with it, I can assure you, you will like this too.

If you missed this in the cinema, you can catch it now on Netflix.

‘Chiswick Oasis’ opened by Sadiq Khan in 2019 mentioned in his new book on air quality and the climate crisis

Images above: London Mayor Sadiq Khan; His book ‘Breathe’

‘Breathe’: Part political memoir and part manual on how to tackle climate change

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has been out and about promoting his book Breathe, part political memoir, part practical guide to climate action, which addresses how to overcome some of the obstacles to effective climate action: fatalism, apathy, cynicism, deprioritisation, hostility, cost and gridlock.

The Guardian describes it as a ‘breath of fresh air‘; Marie Claire magazine headlines his key message: ‘that there is hope for the future‘ and describes him as ‘one of the most prominent global politicians advocating for green issues’. Even The Spectator asks: ‘Is Sadiq Khan really taking air pollution seriously?’

The Byline Times takes a different tack. Why, they want to know, if he is so keen on tackling air pollution, is he pushing through the £2.2bn Silvertown road tunnel, which Transport for London’s (TfL) Carbon and Energy Statement says will increase London’s operational transport CO2 emissions?

But by and large the blizzard of media interest has been positive.

Image above: Fog exacerbates air pollution

Khan unexpectedly diagnosed with asthma at age 43

Sadiq Khan reveals that he was unexpectedly diagnosed with asthma at the age of 43, and says his GP explained to him this had become an increasingly common phenomenon, a consequence of poor air quality in London.

He also says he was inspired by the activism of Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, whose daughter Ella died of asthma ten years ago, at the age of nine, because of exposure to south-east London’s toxic air.

He is about to run for mayor again, for what would be an historic third term, and lists the introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) as one of his greatest achievements, along with designating London a ‘national park city’ and his leadership since 2021 of C40 Cities, ‘a showcase of innovative and inclusive city-led climate action’.

Chiswick gets a mention in his book for the Chiswick Oasis – the ‘living wall’ bordering the school’s playground and the A4 which Andrea Carnevali, a parent at St Mary’s RC Primary School, along with the school’s PTA, raised money to create.

Video above: Opening of the Chiswick Oasis, June 2019; Andrea Carnevali

Chiswick Oasis – A good news story showing how it is possible to tackle air pollution

Sadiq writes in Breathe:

‘I’d been invited by James O’Brien, an LBC presenter who regularly grilled me on his daily radio show, to visit his local primary school as a guest at the summer fair.

‘The school, St Mary’s Primary, was located next to the A4 in Chiswick, and had built a 400 foot living wall, the longest in the UK, showcasing more than 12,000 plants along the perimeter of the playground.

‘Led by proud dad, Andrea Carnevali, the school’s parents, staff, governors and children took great pleasure in showing me the plants in the wall, the new greenery and garden. The garden was beautiful – a small, urban oasis.’

READ ALSO: Mayor of London opens Chiswick Oasis

READ ALSO: Chiswick Oasis appears to be working

 Images above: Chiswick Oasis; opening June 2019; Sadiq Khan addresses parents and children

‘If we could improve the air right next to the A4 in west London, there was nowhere we couldn’t make a difference.’

Andrea also took him on a tour of the classrooms, showing him the filtration systems which had been installed and the special paint with which the classrooms had been decorated, which purified the air by neutralising pollutants and harmful chemicals.

‘As I walked from classroom to classroom I reflected on how far we’d come. These kids got it, and their parents and teachers got it too. The climate crisis was a health crisis, and one that was happening right now. But it was a tackle we could tackle, and we would.

‘If we could improve the air right next to the A4 in west London, there was nowhere we couldn’t make a difference.’

What inspired Andrea to start campaigning to raise the money for the wall and redecorating the classrooms was a report which revealed St Mary’s was one of the primary schools in London most badly affected by air pollution.

The initiative received £32,000 in funding from the London Mayor’s ‘Crowdfund for London’ programme as well as other donations from public, local communities, small and large businesses alike eventually raising around £100,000.

Nine months after the green wall had been installed, the air quality in and around the school had improved by 37%.

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Nine-year-old Chiswick girl publishes her first book

Image above: front cover of Poems & Stories for Little People (written by one) by Miranda Sofia

Enter a world “brimming with imagination and creativity”

A talented nine-year-old from Chiswick, Miranda Sofia, has published her first book called Poems and Stories for Little People (written by one).

The book includes a collection of tales about friendship and family, thought-provoking poems and illustrations. Miranda and her family hope her book will inspire children to express themselves and explore their creativity through writing.

Wisdom House Publishing, the publisher working with Miranda, say they are thrilled to be giving life to the young author’s voice:

“At Wisdom House Publishing nothing gives us greater pleasure than bringing an author’s voice to life. Publishing Miranda’s book was particularly rewarding as she is the youngest author we have worked with. Her talent and vivid imagination shine through on every page. It is wonderful that someone so young has such remarkable writing skills…”

Image above: Miranda with her book; publicity for the book

Miranda, who comes from a Latino family with Venezuelan roots, has always loved reading. Miranda’s proud father, Javier Rosales, says the book invites readers to “enter a world brimming with imagination and creativity”, where they can enjoy Miranda’s vivid storytelling.

Miranda’s book has been selling quickly in Chiswick and has received positive reviews. It has even gained international success, with sales in seven countries. Readers have praised Miranda’s talent, giving her book many five-star ratings.

Poems and Stories for Little People is available for purchase on popular online platforms such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

You can find out more about Miranda and her book on her website: mirandasofia.org.

Painting at auction reveals Chiswick connection to Vorticist sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska

Images above: Henri Gaudier-Brzeska self portrait; painting of Maria Carmi sculpture

Patrons lived in Chiswick Mall

French Vorticist sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska came to London in 1910 to work as an artist and very quickly made friends in a very wealthy and well-connected circle which overlapped with the Bloomsbury Group.

His studio was in Fulham but he had wealthy patrons in Chiswick Mall – Mr & Mrs Thomas Leman Hare. Now that a unique painting of his has come up for auction the Head of Pictures at Olympia Auctions, Adrian Biddell, is trying to find out where exactly they lived.

“The painting I am selling is a west London phenomenon” says Adrian, “as it was inspired by a huge theatrical production at Olympia Exhibition Halls, an extravaganza with a cast of 1700 called The Miracle.

“In early 1912 Gaudier was commissioned to make a plaster of the leading lady Maria Carmi, in her role as the Madonna by Mr & Mrs Thomas Leman Hare. They subsequently commissioned Gaudier to paint himself with the plaster in oil, which is the self-portrait I have for sale.”

The portrait shows the artist peering out from behind the sculpture in a mirror, with a large window behind him. Adrian would like to find out which house it is. Thomas Leman Hare was a publisher and collector who in the 1920s became the editor of Apollo magazine.

“We know that it was painted in Leman Hare’s house on Chiswick Mall. The painting has since been passed down through the Leman Hare family, and for the last 40 years has been hanging in a private collection on the banks of the Thames in Kew.”

Image above: Head of Pictures at Olympia Auctions, Adrian Biddell

An artist who died tragically young, who influenced Henry Moore

Gaudier-Brzeska came over to London with Sophie Brzeska, a Polish writer over twice his age whom he had met at the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève in Paris, and with whom he began an intense relationship.

He made a name for himself very quickly, becoming a leading Vorticist sculptor alongside Jacob Epstein. His supporters included the writer, painter and critic Wyndham Lewis, who co-founded the Vorticist movement. He made a bust of the American poet Ezra Pound, who is credited with giving the Vorticist movement its name.

He influenced the best known British sculptor of the 20th century, Henry Moore, who acknowledged a debt to him. Jacob Epstein also expressed admiration for his work.

Gaudier-Brzeska worked for the Omega workshops, a design enterprise at Fitzroy Square closely associated with the Hogarth Press, founded by Leonard and Virginia Woolf, and the artist and critic Roger Fry.

“Fry was the Kenneth Clark of his generation” says Adrian. “He brought the Post Impressionist exhibition to the Grafton Galleries in W1 – the first time anyone had properly seen Picasso and Matisse.”

Adrian describes Gaudier-Brzeska as “the Rupert Brook or the Wilfred Owen of the early 20th century art world”. Like them he was killed in the First World War tragically young, shot by a single bullet to the head in the trenches in 1915 aged just 24 years old.

His work was saved by Jim Ede and preserved at the Kettle’s Yard gallery in Cambridge.

“He was an extraordinary talent and his death in the trenches was a great loss.”

The painting comes up for auction at Olympia Auctions on 14 June and if you are able to shed any light on which house the Leman Hares lived in at Chiswick Mall, Adrian would love to hear from you.

The painting has come on the market through Joia Shillingford, the daughter of Mrs Leman Hare’s god-daughter Genevieve Shillingford. The pre-sale estimate on the painitng is £15 – 20,000.

olympiaauctions.com