Strand on the Green Association autumn photography competition

Image above: Couple drinking at the Bull’s Head; photograph Ljubima Woods

It’s almost impossible not to take a nice photograph of Strand on the Green – here’s a chance to show off some of your best

The Strand on the Green Association (SoGA) is open for entries to their 2023 photography competition. After the huge success of last year’s competition, which attracted more than 75 entries, they decided they would make it an annual event.

This year’s theme is ‘Autumn at the Strand’. There will be a prize-giving ceremony on Wednesday 29 November at the Steam Packet – everyone welcome. The winning photograph will be displayed on The Chiswick Calendar website (and they hope the winning entries will also be put on permanent display in the Kew Bridge Arch).

Maximum five entries per person. Please send high-res images to alangmcbride@gmail.com. Closing date Friday 24 November.

Here is some inspiration from photographer Ljubima Woods.

Image above: Window boxes at the Bell & Crown in September

Image above: Family of geese on the river

Image above: Feeding the seagulls, Strand on the Green in October

Image above: Strand on the Green in October

Image above: Strand on the Green in October

Image above: Strand on the Green in October

Image above: Thames towards Kew Bridge in October

Image above: Chairs outside the Bell & Crown at Strand on the Green in November

Image above: Kew Railway Bridge in November

Image above: Chiswick Bridge in December

Image above: Kew Bridge and Brentford beyond in December

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The Killer (2023) – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

The Killer ⭐⭐⭐⭐

After a fateful near-miss, an assassin battles his employers, and himself, on an international manhunt he insists isn’t personal.

I should probably start by stating the obvious: David Fincher is one of the greatest directors working in the industry today. His films may sometimes venture into uncomfortably dark and gritty territory, but the level of sleekness and precise craftsmanship that he brings to the table sets him apart from pretty much 99% of his Hollywood peers.

I remember studying every frame of Se7en back in film school: its blackest blacks, its clinical and meticulous attention to detail and the devastatingly dark (and yet, drenched in sunlight) twist-ending. I was left speechless after Fight Club and felt like wanting to see it again straight afterwards. I adore that quiet gut-wrenching tension created by Zodiac.

He even turned Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg into a fascinating and absorbing subject, with the magnificent Social Network. And you know what? I loved even The Game, silly as few films are, but slick like very few things.

With his latest, The Killer, Fincher once again cements his status as a master of his craft. This is, once again, a dark and enigmatic thriller, which perfectly encapsulates his unique directorial flair, taking us on a gripping journey and keeping us on the edge of our seats.

The plot, adapted from a French graphic novel and written by Andrew Kevin (the screenwriter behind Se7en,), couldn’t be simpler and could be written on the back of a stamp. The story revolves around a professional killer, as meticulous and precise as the man behind the camera. Indeed the style of the film mirrors the slick cynicism of the main characters.

Fincher remains as objective as the killer himself while at the same time he uses all the tools at his disposal to create an atmosphere so tense and captivating that hardly ever lets you go.

The cinematography by Erik Messerschmidt is beautiful, sporting Fincher’s signature cold and dark visual aesthetic, with sleek urban landscapes as well as dimly lit interiors. The calculated and deliberate camera work also intensifies a constant sense of unease.

The soundtrack does a lot of work too. The sparse score by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor, with its minimalist approach, allows the audience to become fully immersed in the on-screen events, heightening the impact of the visuals.

Even the sound design is astounding: every subtle sound has a purpose, whether it’s the creaking of a door, the tapping of footsteps, or the low hum of background noise. Each is purposefully chosen and placed to elevate the tension and build anticipation, creating a visceral and nerve-wracking experience as well as providing additional layers of storytelling.

This is a real masterclass in creating a tense atmosphere and gripping film-making…

Throughout all this, Fassbender’s presence commands attention. He might be a cold, remorseless killer, who hardly ever speaks throughout the film (though his voice-over fills the soundtrack loud and clear) and yet, we are glued to the screen, watching his every move. His ability to captivate the audience, pretty much single-handedly throughout the film, by keeping a seemingly emotionless and inscrutable face, is a testament to the strength of his talent and presence.

The Killer may not reach the pinnacle of Fincher’s greatest film making and it’s probably a little bit too slight and (deceivingly) simple as a film, to make a real impact, but it’s so expertly crafted that I couldn’t help falling for it.

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

The Killer is out in cinemas across the country.

Rock & Rose launches autumn menu with comfort food for rainy days

A cosy setting to relax and enjoy a meal on Chiswick High Road

Rock & Rose in Chiswick High Rd has launched it autumn menu. Owner Lorraine Angliss, who also owns Annie’s restaurant at Strand on the Green and Little Bird opposite Chiswick Station, told The Chiswick Calendar that she likes to give her customers crowd pleasing dishes that offer comfort on wet and windy autumnal days.

Lorraine opened Rock & Rose Chiswick in April 2022, following the success of Rock & Rose Richmond and her other two restaurants in Chiswick. People love it, she says, “they are blown away by the level of service and the quality of the food.”

It is very well reviewed on Tripadviser, where people praise the good food, friendly service and cosy setting. Cosy settings are very much Lorraine’s thing, creating spaces with quirky artwork, plants and comfortable seating which make give the impression of someone’s living home rather than a restaurant.

The menu is a blend of Mediterranean and Asian inspired cuisine and they specialise in cocktails. On the menu at the moment is a Red Thai Tiger Prawn Curry , Grilled Salmon, Sea Bass, Chicken Milanese and a Beef Massaman, slow cooked with Malaysian spices, coconut, peanuts and roasted sweet potato as well as the usual steaks and burgers. They also offer a selection of Sunday roasts and a set £10 Chiswick Lunch menu .

Rock & Rose is open for Christmas Day, with a £95 menu which includes options of turkey, salmon, lamb and a blush tomato, Champagne and saffron risotto for the main course. In the lead up to Christmas it also has a three course Christmas party menu for £45 a head.

We are very pleased to remind you that Rock & Rose is part of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme. See their current offer to Club Card holders here:

Club Card offer – Rock & Rose Chiswick

rockandroserestaurant.com

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Flooding in Chiswick Mall higher than usual

Image above: Water line on a home along Chiswick Mall showing how high water reached

Residents unable to get to their homes as tide floods Chiswick Mall

Unusually high tides along the River Thames have caused problems for the residents of Chiswick Mall, causing extensive flooding in the area.

Residents are used to the River Thames covering the road and their gardens, especially during the high tides of spring and autumn, but on Monday 30 October the tide came in further than usual and many residents described it as the worst they had ever seen.

Riverside ward councillor John Todd was alerted early Monday morning that the Mall was flooded and a basement had been inundated. He told The Chiswick Calendar Hounslow Highways operatives had carried out some work and were later replaced by Thames Water workers.

“Following on from some good manual work to clear the gulleys which improved the water level on the road, Thames Water are now on site dealing with a larger problem as the river bank has burst causing further flooding.”

Heavy rain over the weekend has aggravated the flooding in the area, leading to a situation worse than usual. The high tide, which peaked at 3.10 pm, inundated the streets surrounding Chiswick Mall and Chiswick Lane South.

Patricia Langley, Chair of the Old Chiswick Protection Society, and a resident along Chiswick Mall, told The Chiswick Calendar:

“It’s generally agreed that this is one of the highest tides we’ve seen. We’ve been here for over twenty years. Some have lived here since the early sixties. We couldn’t get into the front of our house.”

She pointed out that a blocked drain at the eastern end of the mall had left some residents stranded, unable to access their homes for four days.

“We saw garden furniture floating around; a neighbour’s rather stylish garden chairs ended up in our garden. One was last seen heading to Southend,” she added.

Images above: Flooding of Chiswick Mall – via Twitter / X

‘Vulnerabilities are evident’ 

Sarah Fabrizio, another resident, whose basement was partially flooded, raised questions about the Thames Barrier’s operation during the high tide. She wanted to know why it had not been raised during the high tide.

Her basement, which dates back centuries, is largely undamaged, such damage as their was being confined to “bits and bobs”. As we talked she was using cardboard to soak up the water.

Several homes along the east end of the Mall remained partially submerged well into the evening.

According to thamestides.org, the Thames Barrier was not closed during this high tide event, raising concerns among residents about its effectiveness and their dependence on it. Sarah added: “The Environment Agency needs to concentrate their minds in future proofing London… Here the vulnerabilities are evident.”

Further along the river at Strand on the Green, general manager of the Bull’s Head Barbara Smith posed for photographs in her wellies outside the pub, featured in the Evening Standard, and shared her photographs of the pub on social media, including one of the river water a couple of inches up the window pane.

“We had to move an elderly group of people off one areas of our dining yesterday,” Barbara told the Standard. “We’re so used to it happening, but bless them they felt a bit like there were in the Titanic – I think that was the comment – so we moved them.”

Shepherd’s Bush home of ‘My Boy Lollipop’ singer Millie Small gets plaque

Images above: My Boy Lollipop; Millie Small

The Caribbean’s first international recording star and its most successful female performer

Millie Small, the Jamaican singer who shot to fame with the song My Boy Lollipop and made Ska music popular all over the world, has been recognised in the London borough where she lived with a plaque outside her house.

On Saturday (28 October), Hammersmith and Fulham Council honoured the late singer with a plaque at her home on Netherwood Road, Shepherd’s Bush, where she lived for 27 years until her death in May 2020.

Millie was only 17 when My Boy Lollipop became a smash hit in 1964, reaching number two in the UK Singles Chart and selling over 600,000 copies here. It was the first international hit by a Caribbean artist, selling over 7 million copies worldwide.

Not only did the track popularise Ska internationally, it also launched Island Records, founded by the Jamaican/British music impresario Chris Blackwell, whose headquarters was later in Chiswick.

It was in the wake of Millie’s success that ska and reggae became part of mainstream of popular music in the following years. Island records went on to sign Steel Pulse and Aswad, Burning Spear and Black Uhuru as well as Bob Marley.

Image above: Millie’s daughter Jaelee Small, with the plaque

“Happy living a quiet life with her cats”

Fans, local residents, friends and family of the late singer gathered to watch the unveiling, accompanied by local councillors. ITV News also sent a crew. I talked to several people who knew her. Millie’s neighbour described her as a “very quiet woman, reserved, but very friendly”, and would often hear her humming along to songs in the flat below.

Family member Kamal Miller told me if it were not for Millie there would be no worldwide audience for ska, rocksteady and reggae. She had toured the world and had Otis Redding as her opening act.

Cleon Roberts, daughter of record producer Sonny Roberts who started one of the key Lovers Rock labels, Orbitone, said:

“My father would be delighted to know that Millie has been honoured.”

Image above: Unveiling the plaque

Once she left the music business Millie never pushed to return to fame. Despite her status in the industry she did not receive royalties from the record and was even destitute for a while.

A friend of Millie’s daughter Jaelee gave his view that:

“A part of her was happy to move away from the spotlight. She seemed happy living a quiet life with her cats’”.

Fans at the unveiling told me: “My Boy Lollipop is one of those songs that stuck in our memories”.

Councillor Sharon Holder, who began the proceedings, said:

‘This song showed the world where music was going, trumpeting the music of ska and heralding the arrival of reggae… Millie left a legacy which can still be heard today and we want to make sure her beauty and breadth are remembered”.

Jaelee Small asked that her mother be remembered as:

“A shining star in the constellation of Black history, for the joy she brought, the hips she made sway and the hearts she made race.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

November 2023 books

What’s new and good to read this month? Dan Coombes has a look at what’s on offer and chooses Mary Or, The Birth of Frankenstein; Heartstopper Vol. 5 and The Future.

Mary Or, The Birth of Frankenstein- Anne Eekhout

The trend for re-interpreting well known tales, their creation and the famed lives of their authors – often bringing *gasp* less well known female perspectives to the fore – has made for a lot of fun reads recently,  just like this one which grabbed me instantly because of the Frankenstein connection. Make no mistake though, this isn’t some novelty effort playing around for amusement value – it’s a powerful and intense tale with lots to say and an enticingly spooky edge.

It wants to scream, it wants to tear things apart. 1816. Mary, eighteen years old, is staying in a villa on Lake Geneva with her lover Percy Shelley. She is tormented by his infidelities, haunted by the loss of her baby daughter. Then one evening with friends, as storms rage outside and laudanum stirs their imaginations, Lord Byron challenges everyone to write a ghost story, and something fierce and wild awakens in Mary.

Memories surface of the long, strange summer she once spent with a family in Scotland, where she found herself falling in love with the enigmatic Isabella Baxter. She learned tales of mythical beasts, witches and spirits. And she encountered real monsters – both in the rocky wilds, and far, far closer to home… Illuminating the past like a flash of lightning, this brilliant reimagining of the birth of Frankenstein takes us into a feverish world of waking dreams-where grief mingles with desire, and the veil between beauty and horror grows thin.

Images above: Mary Or, The Birth of Frankenstein front cover, Author Anne Eekhout

Heartstopper vol. 5 – Alice Osman

The last four bestselling volumes of this sweet natured comic book series have garnered a huge fanbase, young and old, so plenty of folk are very excited about installment number five. One of those series that’s funny, warm and engaging without being too shallow, and  Alice Oseman tackles plenty of big issues with dexterity and lots of charm – and if you’re new to Heartstopper there should be just enough time to catch up before this comes out.  Also, fun fact: They’re filming the third series of the Netflix adaptation opposite my house.

Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love.

The bestselling LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between: this is the fifth volume of the much-loved HEARTSTOPPER series.  Nick and Charlie are very much in love. They’ve finally said those three little words, and Charlie has almost persuaded his mum to let him sleep over at Nick’s house …

But with Nick going off to university next year, is everything about to change? By Alice Oseman, winner of the YA Book Prize, Heartstopper encompasses all the small moments of Nick and Charlie’s lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us.

Image above: Heartstopper Vol. 5 front cover, Author Alice Osman 

The Future – Naomi Alderman

So okay, reading about a rapidly disintegrating near future all too relevant to our own may not be everyone’s cup of tea right now, what with the real world being a bit on the uncheery side and everything, but good dystopian fiction has always been a great way of examining the world around us, exploring ideas, getting us thinking and maybe even leaving us feeling a little better equipped to negotiate reality. At the moment not many writers are doing this as well as Naomi Alderman, happily crossing the boundary between science fiction and normality, and thankfully she’s an expert in gripping and brilliant storytelling too.

The new novel from the Women’s Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Power, The Future is a dazzling exploration of the world we have made and where we are going. The Future is where the money is. The Future is a few billionaires leading the world to destruction. The Future is a handful of friends hatching a daring plan. The Future is the greatest heist ever? Or the cataclysmic end of civilisation…

The Future is here.

Images above: The Future front cover, Author Naomi Alderman

Three Tabard shows win awards in the London Pub Theatre Awards

Images above: Next Door’s Baby; Kim Ismay in About Bill; Mark Farrelly in The Silence of Snow

Keith Strachan wins Best Director and Mark Farrelly wins Best Solo Show (Written By The Performer)

Three shows produced at the Tabard have won awards at the London Pub Theatres Awards.

Keith Strachan won Best Director, for Theatre at the Tabard’s productions of Next Door’s Baby and About Bill. Mark Farrelly won Best Solo Show (Written By The Performer), for The Silence of Snow, about the tragic life of Chiswick based novelist Patrick Hamilton.

Images above: Matthew Strachan; Matthew and wife Bernadette Gaughn; Keith Strachan

“I wish Matthew was here to see this” – Keith Strachan

Keith Strachan told The Chiswick Calendar he was delighted to have won.

“I have been working in the theatre for years and years and years and years and never won anything, but mostly I am pleased for my son Matthew and I wish he was here to see this.”

Matthew and his wife Bernadette wrote Next Door’s Baby – she the script and he the music. Matthew also wrote the music for About Bill and cowrote the theme to Who Wants to be a Millionaire, with his father. That and the Christmas pop hit Mistletoe and Wine are the compositions for which Keith, now 80, is most famous.

“I was listening to the news about Matthew Perry and his demons. My Matthew took his own life two years ago. His demon was vodka and he couldn’t take it any more.

“I wanted to try and regenerate some interest in those two pieces. I came out of retirement to do them and I hope this means there will be more life in them both.

Image above: Kim Ismay in About Bill

About Bill will continue to be performed

“About Bill was designed as a vehicle for Kim Ismay, West End actress and singer currently performing in Elf and the Dominion. It’s something she can do in between shows at cabaret venues when she has a few days together.”

He is not so sure whether Next Door’s Baby will continue to have a life in theatre, though it deserves to. Both were vey well received by Chiswick audiences.

READ ALSO: Next Door’s Baby – Theatre at the Tabard review

READ ALSO: About Bill review – Theatre at the Tabard

 Images above: Mark Farrelly as Quentin Chrisp and as Patrick Hamilton

If at first you don’t succeed …

Mark Farrelly also told The Chiswick Calendar he was very pleased to have won, but was quite surprised to have won, as he has been performing The Silence of Snow for nearly ten years now. He has four shows which he has written and performs as one man shows, about Frankie Howerd, Quentin Chrisp, Derek Jarman and Patrick Hamilton, which he takes on tour around small theatres.

“It just goes to show that if you believe in something, if you keep revisiting it, retuning and enjoying it, it does continue to have life.

“The standard model is that you do something for a few weeks and if it doesn’t take off immediately then it’s never seen again.”

READ ALSO: Two one-man plays by Mark Farrelly – Theatre at the Tabard

“Theatre at the Tabard exude quality at every level. I love working there” – Mark Farrelly

Accepting the award at Upstairs at the Gatehouse on Sunday 22 October, he picked up on a remark made by someone else during the evening that pub theatres were ‘stepping stones’ to reaching bigger audiences.

“These venues [pub theatres] are fantastic places in their own right”.

He prefers to perform his one man shows to an intimate audience, he told The Chiswick Calendar. Although he has acted in the West End (Young Vic, Trafalgar Studios), his usual venues for his one-man shows are many of the pub theatres that were nominated for awards: the Brockley Jack, which won the Pub Theatre of the Year 2023 award, the King’s Head and the Tabard:

Although there are no current plans for him to return to the Tabard there is every likelihood he will be back, as Simon and Sarah Reilly, who run it, are as complimentary about his shows as he is of their management.

“Theatre at the Tabard is so well run. The programming is amazing. It’s all of such a high standard. Sandra, who did the technicals for my show, is a pocket genius, and they exude quality at every level. I love working there.”

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The Silver Birch celebrate three years in Chiswick

Image above: Michelin star award winning chef Nathan Cornwell at The Silver Birch restaurant

Autumn menu being served, Christmas menu available to book

The Silver Birch restaurant in Chiswick is a fine dining experience which has quietly become very popular in the three years since it opened at 142 Chiswick High Rd.

The hallmarks of its success are there for all to see on the door – the logos of Andy Hayler’s restaurant guide and the Michelin guide.

Andy Hayler wrote in August:

‘Chiswick has a lot of restaurants but not many good ones, so it is nice to see this one on the way up’.

The Michelin guide agrees:

‘Among the numerous eateries on the bustling Chiswick High Street, Silver Birch stands out with its fresh, unfussy dishes that allow wonderful British produce to shine – whether that be meaty smoked eel from Devon, sweet scallops from the Isle of Mull or superb Lancashire fruit.

‘The surroundings are as clean and modern as the food, while the friendly team run the restaurant with genuine warmth.’

More to the point, the punters think the same.

“We get exceptional reviews on Trip Adviser and Google” says owner Tim Price. “99 out of 100 are excellent. It is very important to us that our general diners who come in to eat here want to come back. It’s a bonus if a critic also gives us a good review.”

Nathan Cornwell took over as head chef in March, having previously made his name at The Barn in Lancashire. Under his leadership the menu has completely changed this year and the menu has stepped up, so it is much more of a fine dining experience.

READ ALSO: The Silver Birch has a new Chef

Images above: From the current menu

Blackberries foraged from Dukes Meadows

The menu is of course seasonal, and the ingredients locally sourced, so it is completely different now than when he started, but rather than launching an autumn menu as such, the changes have been incremental.

The experience starts with snacks – crispy pigs head fitters for example or a tartlet with cured sea trout at the moment. The home-made sourdough foccacia has clearly been made with love. The idea is to hit you with their very best from the outset, making it clear you are in for a culinary experience, not just a meal.

Every dish is complete in itself, showcasing the best of British, both in cooking style and ingredients. There are no side dishes because Nathan has given very careful consideration to the mix of flavours and textures he has put together and frankly, in the nicest possible way, doesn’t want you to mess with it!

On the menu at the moment there is duck ragout, beef tartare, Devon smoked eel and Devon crab as starters. The mains include Shetland cod, Newlyn monkfish, South Downs venison and Yorkshire grouse.

Desserts include: Oakchurch raspberries, lemon verbena mousse, almond, Foraged brambles, sorrel ice cream, méringue, Victoria plums, brown sugar tart, gingerbread.

‘Foraged brambles’? I am always a little sceptical when I see things on a menu like ‘wild’ boar or ‘foraged’ fruit. Really?

Yes, really, restaurant manager Thomas Proden assures me. Every day the kitchen staff sit down to eat together after the lunch service has finished and then in their break before the evening service starts, very often they go off foraging together, he says.

Dukes Meadows alongside the river is great for finding blackberries, damsons and elderberries in season, and that’s what you see on your plate later.

The Silver Birch is now taking bookings for the Christmas season (closed on Christmas Day itself). Fine dining they may be, but not too posh to offer our Club Card holders a discount. They are a neighbourhood restaurant and want to encourage the locals to come.

See their current offer here: The Silver Birch Club Card offer.

silverbirchchiswick.co.uk

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Owners of Falcons school confirm closure and parents take legal action

Image above: Falcon’s pre-prep school

Legal action launched jointly by parents 

The owners of Falcons School in Chiswick confirmed their decision to shut down the pre-preparatory school at the end of this term.

The announcement was made on Thursday (26 October) following a consultation by Alpha Plus Group and Inspired Education, who cited declining enrolment numbers as the driving force behind their “difficult decision.”

The school, which is on Burnaby Gardens, is licensed to accommodate up to 180 pupils. The number of enrolled students had dwindled from 90 in 2021 to 62 when the closure plan was announced. The closure will result in the redundancy of 30 teachers and support staff.

At the beginning of this term, roughly sixty families still had boys attending the school. Now these families find themselves with only 30 working days to secure alternative schooling if they have not already done so.

A group of concerned parents is initiating legal action, arguing the school’s abrupt closure violates the requirement of providing a term’s notice. They were only informed of the closure on 7 September, the second day of the autumn term.

These parents also assert the consultation process offered no alternatives to closure and failed to consider options such as relocating to another site in Chiswick or admitting female students. Some parents suspect that the school owners aim to capitalise on the site’s value by selling it for housing development.

Multimillionaire owners “have refused to listen” say parents

A plea to keep the school open until the end of the academic year has garnered support from Brentford and Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury. Ms. Cadbury submitted two written questions to the Secretary of State for Education regarding the issue.

She was informed that the Minister had received no representations from the Alpha Plus Group and had not assessed the ability of nearby local authorities to fulfil their statutory duty to provide schooling following the closure.

The parents have expressed their frustration with the management of both Alpha Plus and Inspired Education, an investment company that recently acquired the school group, which operates a chain of prestigious independent schools across London, including Wetherby, attended by Prince William and Prince Harry.

The parents released a joint statement saying:

“The actions of Inspired Education/Alpha Plus are motived by pure financial greed. The distress and upset that this process has caused pupils, parents and staff has been immense. To be given less than 30 days to try to find alternative provision will be near on impossible and will be deeply damaging to pupils’ wellbeing.

“The multimillionaire owners have refused to listen to any of our concerns and have dismissed options to keep the school open out of hand, it is shocking that they have also refused to meet parents.

“They are also in clear breach of their own contractual obligations, and we will now be taking legal action against the owners. Their actions shame the independent school sector and it is clear that there are inadequate protections to safeguard pupils in the sector from the worst excesses of corporate greed.

“We would say to anyone thinking of sending their child to an Alpha Plus/Inspired School, don’t. It is clear that people who run these companies are motivated purely by money, not the wellbeing or quality of education of children.”

Network Rail commit to review of Brooks Lane footbridge

Image above: Brooks Lane Footbridge

Residents want the bridge to have step free access

Network Rail has informed Hounslow Council that it will not proceed with the replacement it had initially planned for the Brooks Lane footbridge over the railway line beside Strand on the Green junior school, and will instead be reviewing the bridge’s design.

The Brooks Lane footbridge is due an upgrade. Network Rail’s proposals encountered significant opposition because local residents wanted step-free accessibility. Led by Andrew Ross, the residents rallied against the proposed upgrade, arguing that the need for a replacement provided an ideal opportunity to ensure the bridge was fully accessible.

Andrew presented an alternative design demonstrating the feasibility of a step-free crossing, utilising land owned by Hounslow Council and the freeholder of the Chiswick Village estate.

In a crucial decision that further delayed the project, the Council rejected an application (PALL/2023/2425) for prior approval on 18 September. This rejection meant that Network Rail would be required to submit a full planning application, prolonging the process.

The company has previously said it was unable to commit to making the crossing accessible due to financial constraints.

Deputy Leader of Hounslow Council and Cabinet Member for Climate, Environment, and Transport, Councillor Katherine Dunne, confirmed Network Rail’s decision on Friday, (27 October). She announced:

“Given the current condition of the bridge, Network Rail has indicated that they may need to implement interim measures to ensure the bridge can remain open while exploring alternative design options.

“We await further confirmation and details on this from Network Rail but look forward to working collaboratively.

“We will continue to work with the local community on the design of a fully accessible bridge and will continue to provide updates as and when we receive them.

“As a Council we are committed to helping make travel around the borough accessible for all and will continue to work towards ensuring we, along with our partners are doing everything we can to meet the needs of the local people.”

Objections to “Taste of Palestine” falafel stall proposal in Chiswick High Rd

Image above: Area where the proposed stall would be; photograph from Mr Eid’s licensing application

Local businesses, some residents and councillors object to application

A proposal to open a falafel stand, called the “Taste of Palestine,” near the junction of the High Road and Chiswick Lane has received pushback from local shops, residents, and councillors. Mr. Fakhri Shaban Yussif Eid, the applicant, has submitted a license application for the food stall to operate outside 81 Chiswick High Road

The proposed stall, which aims to serve hot food, is set to operate from Monday to Saturday between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Residents have raised objections, primarily citing concerns over the potential obstruction of the pavement, lack of proper notification from the council regarding the application, and the possibility of littering and unwanted cooking odours emanating from the stall.

Local businesses have also voiced their disapproval. Blo Bar expressed concern that the falafel stand would spoil the visual appeal of the area and compromise the aesthetics of Chiswick High Road and Chiswick Lane. They went as far as suggesting that the stand could attract rodents to the vicinity.

Meanwhile, DIY shop Brewers noted that the presence of the stall might hamper their visibility and deter customers from entering the store, alluding to the issue of cooking smells penetrating their premises.

Image above: Area where the proposed stall would be; photograph from Mr Eid’s licensing application

Cllr John Todd made an objection on behalf of the recently established My Place café. He said:

“The proposed stall would obstruct an attractive and safe pedestrian walkway used by many. LBH Benches are provided for pedestrians to relax. They don’t want the cooking fumes to permeate their airspace. I want My Place to be able to compete with others on an equitable basis post a huge investment.”

Cllr Joanna Biddolph claimed street food stalls took business away from bricks and mortar businesses. She said:

“Street stalls have been shown, over and over and over again, to damage bricks and mortar food and drink businesses. This one will do the same. Licensing should not put at risk any of the borough’s existing bricks and mortar businesses in Chiswick in favour of a street stall.”

A decision will be made on the application at a meeting of Hounslow’s Licensing Panel, scheduled for next Thursday (9 November). If granted, the stall would still need to secure planning permission to use the pavement for its operations.

Two Bollo Lane tower blocks approved

Image above: the approved 20 and 11 storey towers 

Two tower blocks of 20 and 11 storeys will reshape the landscape of Bollo Lane

In a recent planning meeting held on 19 October, two new developments have been given the green light, promising to reshape the landscape close to Bollo Lane. The proposed developments, set to bring a mix of residential and commercial spaces, have been approved to address the growing demand for student accommodation in the South Acton area.

The first of these developments is a striking 20-storey tower block, soon to be built on the corner of Stirling Road and Colville Road on the former Chiswick Auctions site. Designed by architects Hawkins Brown, this structure will boast 429 purpose-built student flats, along with light industrial spaces at the lower levels.

Residents will have access to a rooftop garden, shared social spaces, a gym, a cinema, and a games room. While towering, this building will not surpass the nearby Bollo Brook House development, which will reach 25 storeys when completed.

The second approved development involves the demolition of the two-storey industrial buildings at 67-81 Stirling Road. In their place, an 11-storey residential building named Bollo Yard will be built.

This project, also designed by Hawkins Brown, will include 95 flats, with 38% of them classified as ‘affordable housing’. Additionally, the building will provide light industrial and warehousing space on its lower floors, fronting Bollo Lane.

The planning application for these developments highlighted a significant increase in the number of students living in the South Acton area, a staggering 48% growth since 2015. It was argued that purpose-built student accommodation was lacking in the vicinity, and these new developments would help reduce the reliance on privately rented housing for students, freeing up housing for local families.

Image above: CGI of the Bollo Yard development

Occupation of student units not permitted until affordable housing built and ready

A similar design was granted planning permission in April, but without the residential portion in the taller tower designated for students.

Joel Holland Turner of the planning department presented the findings during the meeting, asserting that these developments featured well-designed buildings that would elevate the local area. He also agreed with the developer’s assertion that student accommodation was in short supply in the region.

Not all were in favour of the new developments. Neil Sheppard, an objector, argued that the buildings’ height was incongruent with the Acton Gardens Master Plan, which advocated building heights in keeping with local structures, most of which are around six to eight storeys tall. He also raised concerns about the insufficient local facilities and infrastructure to support an increased population.

On the developer’s behalf, Harry De Lotbiniere explained that the proposed changes were necessary adjustments to a scheme approved in 2021, as economic, technical, and regulatory changes had rendered the previous plan unfeasible.

He emphasised that the application was part of the broader Hawkins/Brown masterplan for the area, aiming for a phased mixed-use redevelopment of the surrounding region across 10 sites. De Lotbiniere underscored the urgent need for student accommodation, revealing that there were currently five students for every student room in the borough.

Councillors were assured that couriers delivering to the development would be instructed to avoid using Bollo Lane, as it was a busy road.

The committee voted in favour of approving the scheme. But it was determined that occupation of the student units would not be permitted until the affordable housing units were completed and ready for occupancy.

130,000 Londoners to get 10% pay rise

Image above: Living Wage Foundataion Instagram post

London Living Wage set to increase to £13.15

Over 130,000 Londoners are set to receive a 10% pay boost, as the London Living Wage rises from £11.95 to £13.15.

The benefitting workers are employed by London’s 3,500 organisations signed up to the Living Wage Foundation (LWF). The foundation sets a new ‘real living wage’ every year, which is higher than the Government’s national living wage. The latter used to be called the ‘minimum wage’.

The LWF says its ‘real living wage’ is a more accurate calculation of rising living costs – and it sets a special rate for London workers to reflect the capital’s higher prices. Outside London, the rate is increasing from £10.90 to £12.

The Government’s national living wage, which applies nationwide and only to those aged 23 and over, is currently £10.42.

Image above: Sadiq Khan

Mayor emphasises “biggest jump ever” is “vital”

Mayor Sadiq Khan – who chairs the Making London a Living Wage City project – said this year’s 10% increase is “the biggest jump ever” for the LWF’s London Living Wage. He added:

“It’s vital that we also see an increase in Government support, especially for small and micro businesses, for whom paying a London Living Wage can be a challenge.”

Employers signed up to the LWF include Aviva, Burberry and IKEA.

According to the foundation, there are 3.5 million workers in the UK who earn less than their ‘real living wage’, and 575,000 in London. Recent LWF research shows that despite inflation easing, 60 per cent of these low-paid workers say they have used a foodbank in the past year and 39 per cent regularly skip meals for financial reasons.

LWF director Katherine Chapman said:

“During these tough economic times, it is heartening that record numbers of employers are signing up to join the Living Wage movement, protecting everyone who works for them – including cleaners – from rising prices and seeing the benefits of a more motivated and engaged workforce.

Hounslow Labour Group calls for cessation of hostilities in Israel – Hamas war

Image above: Hounslow Council Leader Shantanu Rajawat

The Hounslow Labour Group unequivocally condemns the killing of innocent people in both Gaza and Israel

The Hounslow Labour group of councillors have released a statement regarding the ongoing Israel – Hamas war. There are 51 elected councillors in the group, representing the vast majority of wards in the borough.

The statement comes a little over a week after the group lost one of their councillors, Lara Parizotto (Brentford West), who resigned from the party because they were “no longer aligned with my values.” She remains on the Council as an independent councillor.

READ ALSO: Hounslow councillor resigns over Labour’s stance on Israel – Hamas war

The Labour councillors’ statement says they “unequivocally condemn the killing of innocent people in both Gaza and Israel.” 

The war has today (27 October) entered its twentieth day with the World Health Organisation estimating that over 7,000 people have lost their lives since the conflict began. They also estimate that 3,000 of these fatalities were children.

Earlier today the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan called for a complete ceasefire as did Labour’s Scottish leader Anas Sarwar, who in 2021 became the first Muslim to lead a political party in the UK. 

The councillors’ statement can be read in full here:

“The Hounslow Labour Group of Councillors reaffirms our firm belief in peace, equality and justice. The communities in Hounslow are diverse and united. We seek to find common ground and reject division. It is unity which makes us Hounslow.

“Right now, hundreds and hundreds of innocent people are trapped in appalling and dangerous conditions in Gaza, while thousands have already lost their lives in just a few days across Palestine and Israel.

“We know that everyone in the Borough of Hounslow will share our shock and sadness at recent events.

“The Hounslow Labour Group unequivocally condemns the killing of innocent people in both Gaza and Israel. We also call for an end to the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Human rights and international law must always prevail. Hostages must be returned without delay.

“We call on parties to respect international law, and for a cessation in hostilities in order to allow the urgent delivery and ramping up of aid to Gaza including fuel, water, electricity and medicine.

“Ultimately, there can be a political solution to this crisis. We must do all we can to ensure this conflict ends and there is a meaningful, long-term peace, based on a two-state solution.

“The Hounslow Labour Group stand by all of our communities in Hounslow. Our diversity defines us, and hate cannot be allowed to divide us when there is so much that we have in common.”

Man stabbed in south Acton

Image above: Library image; Metropolitan Police

Injuries ‘not life threatening’

A man was rushed to hospital last night, Thursday (26 October) after being stabbed in Acton. The incident took place in Rosenburg Road, off Bollo Bridge Road, just before 8pm. Nobody has been arrested in connection with the attack as yet.

Police say the man stabbed is believed to be in his twenties was taken to hospital with non life threatening injuries. Road closures are currently in place on Corbett Gardens and Bollo Bridge Road.

Rosenburg Road is close to Acton Gardens Primary School, formerly Berrymede Primary School, and not far from Acton Town station.

In a statement a Met Police spokesperson said: 

“Police were called to Rosenberg Road, W3 at about 7.52 pm on Thursday 26 October following reports of a stabbing.

“Officers attended and found a male believed aged in his 20s with stab injuries. He was taken to hospital where he remains. His injuries have been assessed as not life threatening.

“Road closures are currently in place on Corbett Gardens and Bollo Bridge Road. No arrests have been made.”

Ruth Cadbury clashes with Rishi Sunak over investment in companies linked to his wife

Image above: Ruth Cadbury MP speaking in Parliament

Ruth takes advantage of Question Time to challenge Sunak over the transparency of his financial affairs

Brentford and Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury clashed with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs).

The Labour MP asked the Prime Minister whether he accepted that it had been “ill-judged” for him ” to fail to declare to parliament that companies linked to his wife had benefitted to the tune of two million pounds from a fund he had set up as Chancellor?”

“It is an honour to be elected to this place” she said, “and the standards to which we are expected to abide matter”.

Chiswick’s MP was referring to the Future Fund which was set up in May 2020 to help ‘innovative and high-growth British businesses’ to secure investment to help them through the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Prime Minister has come under scrutiny in recent weeks over his wife Akshata Murty’s involvement in the fund, which he set up while Chancellor. Carousel Ventures, a company part-owned by her venture capital firm, received £250,000 from the Future Fund to help fund its ownership of a luxury underwear business called Heist Studios.

Mrs Murty also has shareholdings in three businesses which received money from the fund and subsequently went into administration: Mrs Wordsmith, which was given £1.3 million; New Craftsmen, which received £250,000 and Digme Fitness, which received an unknown amount over £125,000.

None of these investments that benefited from the fund appears publicly on Sunak’s register of ministerial interests and Rishi Sunak has been criticised for the lack of transparency and the potential for a perceived conflict of interest, given he launched the scheme to help start-ups, a sector in which his wife is a known investor.

Image above: Rishi Sunak replying to Ruth Cadbury’s question in Parliament

The Prime Minister replied to Ruth by saying:

“It is worth bearing in mind that Labour Front Benchers backed the Future Fund when it was introduced—indeed, they were calling for more funding for it, not less.

“The House will be aware of my wife’s shareholdings in various British start-ups. That is her career. Those are on the record, and I am happy to put that on the record again.

“It is worth bearing in mind that the Future Fund helped more than 1,200 different companies. Neither the Government nor the British Business Bank chose any of those specific investments; it was open to any British firm that met the criteria.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

District Line west London stations closed 26 – 29 October

Image above: District Line tube

Closure affects every Chiswick tube station

The District Line will be closed through Chiswick and much of west London from today (Thursday 26 October) until Sunday (29 October) due to Transport for London’s (Tfl) upgrades.

The District Line is due to operate as normal from Monday 30 October. During this period of closure, no District Line tube trains will serve Chiswick Park station or Gunnersbury, Stamford Brook or Turnham Green. (Piccadilly Line trains will stop at Turnham Green station early and late as usual).

There is no service on the District Line between Earls Court and Ealing Broadway/Richmond/Kensington Olympia. There are rail replacement buses in operation and these are:

Hammersmith – Ravenscourt Park – Stamford Brook – Turnham Green – Chiswick Park – Gunnersbury – Acton Town

Turnham Green – Chiswick Park – Gunnersbury – Kew Gardens – Richmond. (Only available early morning, late evening and Sunday).

The ongoing works include renewing track at Hammersmith and a new drainage system at West Kensington. Both of these improvements are being carried out to try to reduce delays on the District Line long term.

Image above: Chiswick Park Station by Ljubima Woods – @ljubimawoods

Works disruptive but necessary say TfL

Richard Jones, TfL’s Director of Asset Performance, said:

“We understand that closures like this may cause disruption to our customers, but the track work being completed is vital to ensure that the Tube can continue to operate as reliably as possible in these areas.

“Rail replacement buses will operate throughout the work and the Elizabeth, Central and Metropolitan lines will run as scheduled to allow customers to complete their journeys. I would encourage customers to check before they travel using our travel tools and I thank them in advance for their understanding.”

For those who are travelling to Heathrow from Chiswick the E3 bus serves Acton Town where they can change to get onto the Piccadilly Line.

For people who are travelling into central London and further, they can use buses to get into Hammersmith and pick up the Piccadilly Line as well as the Hammersmith and City and Circle Line.

Base Face Pizza celebrates two years

Image above: Tim Thornton, founder / owner of Base Face Pizza

A pandemic inspired life change which has paid off

Base Face Pizza celebrated its second birthday this summer. The neighbourhood pizzeria was started by Chiswick native Tim Thornton at 300 King Street in June 2021, as a result of a Covid enforced period of reflection and reassessment.

Tim was a professional jazz bassist, a member of the house band at Ronnie Scotts until the pandemic hit. When that put paid to touring he turned his attention to his other passion: pizza, which he had consumed in vast quantities in far flung places on world tours, becoming something of a connoisseur during his time on the road.

Before opening the restaurant he first tried out his homemade pizzas on the neighbours, serving sourdough pizza from his driveway during lockdown to raise money for NHS charities.

Not all Covid inspired life changes have paid off, but Base Face Pizza has flourished.

“Base face in Hammersmith is tiny, we only have 26 covers. When we first opened we were doing 30 – 50 pizzas a night, not we are doing 300.”

Tim relies on takeaway custom as Base Face is situated in what he describes as the “no man’s land” between Chiswick and Hammersmith proper (opposite the small Tescos at the Chiswick end of King Street). Luckily for him pizza lends itself to delivery.

Image above: Classic pizza

Second branch opened in Barnes in January

He has also opened a second branch, by the river in Barnes, across the road from the Bull’s Head pub.

“I was out jogging one day and as I came across the bridge from Dukes Meadows I saw that the premises was up for sale. I knew it would be the perfect place for a pizzeria and put an offer in that same day.”

When he started the restaurant he was developing all the menus himself, but he now has a team of chefs – two Italians, an New Zealander and another Englishman also from west London. Together they dream up new toppings so that in addition to the core menu which stays the same, they can offer new specials and refresh the menu every three to four months to reflect the seasons.

At the moment they have a Halloween special, with pumpkin puree instead of tomato as the base, Nduja – a kind of spicy sausage paste with chilli – Stilton and Mozzarella. Tim and the New Zealand chef Mat Blak are about to spend a day trying out recipes to choose their Christmas special.

Images above: Chefs at work; (L) Mat Blak

Last year Tim created a ‘Devils on horseback’ pizza, based on his mother’s Christmas breakfast special involving prunes, pancetta and sprouts. In the pizza version the sprouts were shredded and roasted with garlic, so they came out crispy.

With such original toppings, he has caught the attention of restaurant critic and food writer Richard Harden, whose guidebook Harden’s London Restaurants is now the longest-established pocket guide to London restaurants. Base Face has appeared in the 2022 and 2023 guides.

Base Face has a focus on locally sourced ingredients from small independent suppliers, so Tim’s menu features Burrata made freshly in local La Lateria in Acton, beers from Mondo Brewery in Battersea as well as organic flour from Shipton Mill. The pizza dough is a slow dough fermented over a minimum of 48 hours.

Tim also prides himself on good service:

“I wanted it to be a neighbourhood restaurant with a welcoming atmosphere. We rely on repeat customers. We want people to go away and recommend us to their friends, not to be the kind of place where you’re kicked out after 45 minutes so we can serve someone else.”

Judging from the reviews they receive on Trip Adviser and Google, he has achieved just that.

Base Face Pizza is a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme, offering generous discounts to our Club Card holders.

You can see the current offers here: Base Face Pizza Club Card offer

basefacepizza.com

Woman moved into ‘cockroach, mice and bedbug infested’ property by LB Hounslow

Image above: Malacie and her two children; via Malacie Wall

Woman and two children ‘find cockroaches, mice and suspected bed bugs’ in emergency council property

A young mother was left deeply disturbed after discovering her emergency council accommodation had cockroaches, bedbugs and after finding a mouse in her son’s cot. Malacie Wall expressed her dismay at the conditions in which she and her two children were placed after seeking housing assistance from Hounslow Council.

The 19-year-old reported encountering a significant number of cockroaches, pests, and mould in the two separate hostel rooms she was assigned while awaiting temporary accommodation.  Malacie, from Hounslow, sought council assistance after her plan to move to Wales fell through.

She gave details of her initial experience of applying for help, noting that she was turned away before the Council eventually offered her a place in Southall.

“For the first four days, they put us in the flat, and I had to return to the Council daily because for the first two nights, they placed us in a room in a shared house with drug users and alcoholics,” Malacie said.

“The place was infested with bedbugs and incredibly unclean – it was truly appalling” she added.

After persistently pressing the Council for relocation, she claimed to have been moved to a place that was “20 times worse”.

“There were cockroaches everywhere, bedbugs, mice, and rats. It was genuinely so awful that I discovered a mouse in my son’s cot.”

Malacie disclosed that after spending two nights in the new accommodation, she refused to return due to her son developing a rash on his back.

In an effort to secure a safer environment for her children, she reached out to a local councillor. As a result, the council transferred her to Slough, where she currently lives in a compact one-bedroom flat.

Images above: Dead cockroaches in the emergency council housing, suspected bite marks on Malacie’s child; via Malacie Wall

Situation has caused family “significant stress”

According to Malacie, her eviction date was initially set for Monday, 16 October, days before she was compelled to begin the arduous process of relocating once more.

She started packing, notified her daughter’s nursery, and scrambled to find alternative housing before the deadline, only to receive a last-minute reprieve on the afternoon of Friday, meaning she could remain in the current housing until 6 November.

Speaking to the BBC’s Local Democracy Reporting Service on Friday, 13 October, after receiving the news, the young mother said:

“It’s very last-minute on their part, causing me significant stress as I tried to prepare for Monday.”

While Malacie expressed some relief at having more time, she emphasised that her situation remained unchanged. She said:

“The stress has made me feel depressed. I don’t typically have mental health issues, but since all of this, I’ve never been so consistently upset to the point where I’m in tears most nights because I don’t know what’s happening.”

Malacie explained that she has been classified as intentionally homeless after leaving Wales due to a lack of paperwork from her former landlord. Although she claimed to have discussed receiving a Section 21 notice over the phone, which typically leads to eviction, it was never executed.

As a result, the Council does not bear the same legal obligations to provide housing, making the 19-year-old responsible for finding her own residence, most likely in the form of private rental accommodation. As the mother of a one-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter, Malacie said that her inability to work makes securing private housing exceptionally challenging.

Malacie said she had moved frequently around the country during her teenage years and has had her children in and out of foster care. Her primary hope is for the Council to help her find a suitable home within the borough, which would allow her to remain near her support network of friends and family.

Image above: Mould in the emergency council property; via Malacie Wall, Cllr Sue Sampson

Council “urge anyone with concerns about the living standard of a property to contact us directly”

Councillor Sue Sampson, cabinet member for housing management and homelessness at Hounslow Council said:

“The Council has provided emergency accommodation to Ms Wall and her children whilst enquiries were carried out into their housing situation. We have been in communication with Ms Wall throughout the process and advice given on long-term housing options is now dependent on the outcome of those enquiries.

“We understand the concerns raised regarding the condition of the temporary accommodation and urge anyone with concerns about the living standard of a property to contact us directly. We work hard to ensure every property available is safe and secure and where this is not the case will act swiftly to make repairs or find alternative suitable accommodation.”

Jeremy Vine films London bus near-miss with Jason Donovan

Image above: Screenshot posted by Jeremy Vine of the near-miss on Twitter

Neighbours star filmed as bus drives dangerously close 

Neighbours star Jason Donovan, known for his role as Scott Robinson in the popular Australian soap opera, recently had a heart-pounding near-miss with a London bus while cycling in the city. The incident was captured on camera and shared on social media by Chiswick resident and renowned broadcaster, Jeremy Vine.

In a heart-stopping video clip posted by Jeremy, the pair are seen engaging in a casual exchange while waiting at traffic lights on the bustling streets of Oxford Street. In the clip, Jason Donovan is seen removing his earphones and exclaiming, “Is that you, Jeremy?” to which Vine responds, “Jason, it’s you.”

The two continue their conversation and Jason moves forward when the lights change and suddenly a London bus whizzes perilously close to the Neighbours star, prompting Vine to express his disbelief at the “terrible” driving.

He is heard in the video saying: “How can the bus do that, how can the bus go so close to you?”

Jason Donovan seemed unfazed by the close call and even compliments Vine on his helmet.

Sharing the nerve-wracking moment on his social media accounts, Jeremy Vine exclaimed, “Bloody hell. I just saw a bus nearly take out Jason Donovan.”

Above: Post on X by Jeremy Vine, showing the near-miss

Reaction split on social media

The incident garnered significant attention on social media platforms, with many users praising Donovan’s calm demeanour in the face of danger. One user commented:

“You could learn a thing or two from him Jeremy, he’s clearly a more confident rider.” Another remarked: “Scary but also brilliant vid of two proper legends.”

Some critics argued that their friendly chat was distracting and potentially contributed to the incident. One user said:

“Chatting to each other, and not concentrating, Donovan with earphones in, can’t hear anything, holds the bus up for no reason.”

Another noted, “Realises too late, but pulls over to let the bus pass, so what does the bus do, wait till you’ve both finished your ‘famous mates’ chat?”

Jeremy Vine, who is known for sharing his passion for cycling and his experiences on the road, has amassed nearly 800,000 online followers. Through regular tweets and helmet camera-recorded clips, he highlights the challenges and issues cyclists face while navigating the streets of London.

These videos have included encounters with swerving motorists and the abuse he sometimes receives while commuting to his jobs at the BBC and Channel 5.

Jeremy Vine has also courted controversy by advocating for better cyclist-motorist interactions, calling for motorists to allow cyclists to overtake them in congested city traffic. He argues that, in some cases, cyclists have become faster than cars in London due to the city’s slowed traffic speeds, a perspective that may not sit well with some drivers.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Appeal to trace man following murder of David Ackerley in Brentford

Images above: Photos of Jack Hill who police wish to speak with

Detectives have released images of a man they are keen to speak to in connection with murder in Brentford

Detectives from Specialist Crime are investigating the murder of 45-year-old David Ackerley from Hounslow have released several images of Jack Hill, who they want to speak to in relation to this matter.

Jack Hill (sometimes known as Jimmy or Jimmy Brazil) is a white man believed to be around 22 years of age, approximately 6ft 2ins tall, of an athletic/medium build with hazel eyes. He has dark blond/light brown curtain style hair and a surgical scar on his right wrist.

David Ackerley was reported missing at around 9.30am on Sunday 8 October. A short time later officers went to his address on Cedar Court, Boston Manor Road, where he was found dead. David is believed to have been assaulted outside his home between 6.15 and 6.30pm on Saturday 30 September.

Police urge anyone with information to contact them

Detective Chief Inspector Geoff Grogan said:

“David’s grieving family have many questions about what happened to him, and we are now trying to provide them with answers.

“A man has lost his life and it’s important that we uncover what happened to get justice for David and his family.

“This is why it’s really important that anyone who knows the whereabouts of Jack Hill, or has any information that might help us with our investigations, should get in touch.

“Please look at these images carefully. Do you recognise this man? Do you have any information about his whereabouts?

“If so, please get in touch with us. You can do some by calling 101 or post @MetCC reference 0524683/23 or to remain 100% anonymous contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

Conservatives choose Hammersmith & Chiswick General Election candidate

Image above: Cllr Andrew Dinsmore

Conservatives choose criminal barrister to stand against Andy Slaughter

Hammersmith & Chiswick Conservatives have selected barrister Andrew Dinsmore as their candidate for the next General Election, scheduled for 2024.

Mr Dinsmore, a local councillor and ‘high-profile crime fighter’, was chosen from a three-person shortlist during a meeting held on Saturday 21 October at Chiswick’s George IV pub. He will face the incumbent Labour MP Andy Slaughter, who has been a west London MP for nearly 20 years and served as the Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council before that.

Chiswick has been added to Hammersmith to form the new constituency of Hammersmith & Chiswick, one of a number of constituency boundary changes approved by Parliament in the summer. This newly-formed constituency combines three Chiswick wards and the central parts of Hammersmith.

Andrew Dinsmore, who made headlines earlier this year for his role in a petition to the Home Office resulting in the banning of “zombie” knives in the UK, said he was delighted to be selected:

“I look forward to taking my work as a councillor forward in this fantastic area to campaign on transport, housing, health and crime.”

Cllr Dinsmore is also the Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group on Hammersmith and Fulham Council.

READ ALSO: Hammersmith councillor calls for machete ban after having watch stolen

READ ALSO: Getting to know Andy Slaughter – probably our next MP

Chiswick Conservatives join newly formed Hammersmith & Chiswick Conservatives Association

Conservatives in Chiswick have also been reorganised to join the Hammersmith & Chiswick branch of the party rather than the Brentford & Isleworth branch (previously the Chiswick, Brentford & Isleworth Conservatives).

Outgoing Chair Joan D’Olier told members:

‘It has been a privilege to be your chairman for the past two and a quarter years. I inherited a well-run, highly regarded Association, one that we are told is among the top five best run constituency associations in the country. We should all be proud of that.

“I would like to think that our skills, experience and the high regard in which we’re held can be brought to bear and replicated in both new constituencies.”

Mark Loveday, elected as Chair of the newly formed Hammersmith & Chiswick Conservative Association at the meeting on Saturday, said:

“Andrew is someone who not only talks about soaring crime in Labour London, but does something about it. He beat a very good list of applicants for the nomination and will win for us here.”

Cllr Dinsmore visited Charing Cross Hospital on Monday (October 23) alongside Health Secretary Steve Barclay MP and Conservative Party Chairman Greg Hands MP. During their visit, they met with the hospital’s Chief Executive to discuss refurbishment plans.

Cllr Dinsmore has pledged to continue campaigning for the comprehensive refurbishment of the hospital, an initiative that the Government is ‘actively pursuing’.

Earlier this year, the Government clarified that refurbishment and rebuilding works at Charing Cross, Hammersmith and St Mary’s hospitals had all been pushed back and are now not expected to be completed until after 2030, with timelines “fluid”.

In July, a damning report by the National Audit Office found the Government was on track to break a key election promise from Boris Johnson from 2019 – to build 40 new hospitals in England by the end of the decade.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Five men sentenced for total of 39 years for drug and modern slavery offences

Image above: Library image

Drug gang exploited 15-year-old boy to carry drugs from west London to Hampshire

Five men have been sentenced for drug supply and modern slavery offences, after they were found guilty of  exploiting a 15-year-old child, using him to carry drugs from west London to Hampshire.

In September 2021 the boy went missing from west London and was found at an address in Andover, Hampshire, by Metropolitan police officers.

The missing child was found in possession of wraps of crack cocaine and heroin ready for sale, and it was established that the address was linked to 27-year-old Jordan Barnes, from Andover.

The child was being exploited to act as a “runner” on a ‘county line’ operating from west London to Andover, headed up by a senior gang member, 30-year-old Rhys Johnson, from Acton.

Investigating officers found the boy had travelled in a car driven by 31-year-old Michael Mcdonnell, accompanied by Johnson, 18-year-old Jaion Jacobs and 17-year-old Miguel Fiorenzi.

Police searched a safe house in High Wycombe and discovered large amount of Class A drugs, valued at around £40,000, a high-value Rolex watch, cash and correspondence relating to Johnson and Mcdonnell.

All five men were arrested, and charged with various offences including drug supply and modern slavery, and subsequently found guilty of these offences following a trial. During the trial the court heard the boy had been groomed by Jacobs and Fiorenzi before they introduced him to Johnson for the purpose of being a drugs runner.

Johnson and Mcdonnell were both sentenced to over 16 years in prison on Friday 20 October.

Arrests part of wider county lines drug dealing operations in London

Police Constable Tom Quinn, leading the investigation said:

“We know all too well that drugs are linked to violence in our London communities and ruthless criminals exploit children or vulnerable people to help carry out their crimes.

“This investigation is an excellent example of how our Met officers have successfully dismantled an organised gang who coordinated the distribution of drugs through the exploitation of children.

“Through the hard work and diligence of our team, we managed to secure a lengthy sentence for drug supply and modern slavery offences, as well as safeguarding the victim and ensuring they receive the support needed.”

The sentences came after the Met announced the results of a week of action to tackle county lines drug dealing which resulted in more than 290 arrests, 110 people safeguarded, the seizure of 16.9kg worth of suspected drugs and the closure of 92 drug lines.

Images above: Mugshots of the drug gang from left to right – Jordan Barnes, Jaion Jacobs, Miguel Fiorenzi, Michael McDonnell and Rhys Johnson

Sentences

Rhys Johnson (32) from High Wycombe and Michael Mcdonnell (33) from Greenford were both sentenced to 16 years imprisonment for conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine and for arranging or facilitating the travel of a minor with a view to his exploitation.

Jaion Jacobs (20) from Hammersmith and Jordan Barnes (31) from Andover were sentenced to two-and-a-half years imprisonment. Both were found guilty of for conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine. Jacobs was also found guilty of arranging or facilitating the travel of a minor with a view to his exploitation.

Miguel Fiorenzi (19) from Shepherd’s Bush, was sentenced to two years, suspended, having been found guilty of all three charges.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Killers of the Flower Moon (2023) – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

Killers of the Flower Moon  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

When oil is discovered in 1920s Oklahoma under Osage Nation land, the Osage people are murdered one by one – until the FBI steps in to unravel the mystery. Out in cinemas now.

Based on a true story and adapted from a book of the same name by David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon, delves into a chilling chapter of American history, in early 20th-century Oklahoma, exploring a series of murders that occurred among the Osage community of Native Americans, who found themselves wealthy almost from one day to the next, for being the land owner of lands rich with oil.

I’ll come out straight: my relationship with Scorsese’s films is a tricky one. As a film geek, I should love the guy, and to a degree I do, however I have never really fallen in love with any of his films. I do recognise the skills and the craft behind it, and I certainly commend his knowledge and love for film making and cinema itself (his work on preservation of classics is also astounding), but his gritty style and his (mostly violent) sensibilities never sit too well with my Spielbergian take on life.

Having said that, going through his filmography, from Taxi Driver to Goodfellas all the way through After Hours, The King of Comedy (two relatively minor titles which might be among my favourite of his), it’s impossible not to recognise a master at work. And now at 81, Martin Scorsese doesn’t look like he wants to slow down. And why should he, when the result is such a gripping and poignant film, like this latest opus of his?

I call it “opus” because Killer of the Flower Moon comes with a

massive running time of 3 hours and 26 minutes. I hope this review makes you a little less scared of the idea of sitting down in a dark room for 206 minutes (plus trailer and all the rest).

If I have to be honest, stepping into it, it felt like a daunting task for me too. I had to sneak my lunch into cinema and make sure I didn’t drink too much, because I knew I didn’t want to a miss beat.

I actually was surprised at how fast it all went by. The film never felt indulgent or padded and its seemingly slow or meandering pace at the start only serves to enhance the connection to the characters and make it all more powerful as the film unravels.

Some critics at the Venice Film Festival, where this was premiered in September, have said the grand story would have suited a mini-series better than an actual movie, and that in fact additional screen time and a backstory for certain individuals could have enhanced the overall emotional impact and investment.

While I agree with some of this sentiment, I do believe this film really gains something by being watched on a big screen, in a dark room, with no interruptions and no distractions: the injustices portrayed on screen are too great to be reduced on a TV screen (however big your telly is) and so is the scope and feel of some of the storytelling with its estimated $200,000,000 budget.

Martin Scorsese skilfully brings this historical period to life, shedding light on the injustices faced by the Osage people while at the same time weaving a captivating murder mystery.

His signature style shines through in his meticulous attention to detail (remember The Age of Innocence?) and the atmospheric elements throughout. From the hauntingly beautiful landscapes and its breathtaking cinematography, to the dimly lit interiors, every shot is masterfully composed. All of which enhance the suspense, the sadness and a true sense of unease which permeates the whole film.

Needless to say, the performances in the film are all Oscar-worthy. Leonardo DiCaprio, unsurprisingly, delivers another stellar masterclass. He may have started losing some of his good looks (which in a way suited his character), but his acting skills have hardly diminished since his magnificent turn in The Basketball diaries and the fantastic What’s eating Gilbert Grape? now more than 30 years ago.

Here his character is undeniably complex, blurring the lines between empathy and repulsion, leaving us questioning our emotions towards him.

Are we meant to sympathise with him or is he an absolute monster? This duality adds depth and intrigue to the film’s narrative, creating a palpable tension throughout.

Robert De Niro surprises with a restrained and nuanced portrayal, avoiding that tendency to chew the scenery that we’ve seen in recent years.

However, the true revelation is Lily Gladstone. She is the heart and soul of the film. Her honest and truthful portrayal adds a level of authenticity to the tragedy depicted in the film. Her eyes speak the volume of the tragedy her character suffers through and it’s hard not to see her getting all the way to the Oscars and possibly even winning.

Killers of the Flower Moon is not without flaws: given the enormous length, it’s surprising how the setup of the historical events (and sociopolitical dynamics around the Osage community) could be so very basic. At times the film seems a little bit too interested in the intricacies of the plot itself.

Having said that, this is undeniably a very solid film that will hold a significant place in Scorsese’s filmography. A testament to his skill as a director and storyteller. By the end, it’s very clear where his heart lays. His cameo right at the end serve as a personal statement reflecting on the injustice of this sad chapter of American history.

For those willing to embark on a compelling journey through this dark chapter of history, this film offers a thought-provoking and immersive experience that deserves to be witnessed on the big screen.

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

Killers of the Flower Moon is out in cinemas across the country.

ArtsEd announce plans for community choir

Image above: ArtsEd choir singers

Sessions to begin Tuesday 7 November

Chiswick’s performing arts school, ArtsEd, has announced plans to form a community choir, the proceeds of which will be channelled towards the ArtsEd bursary fund to support the university’s  students. The initiative is designed to bring music lovers together for a bit of fun, while supporting the next generation of artists.

The community choir will meet every Tuesday, starting from 7 November until 5 December. The sessions will run from 7.00pm to 8.30pm.

Participants can look forward to ‘engaging rehearsals led by experienced vocal coaches, expert guidance, and the culmination of the programme in a live performance’.

The five-week experience will cost £12 (or £3 per session).

ArtsEd has run a community choir before, along the lines of the Rock Choir, with a repertoire of popular hits rather than choral works or classical numbers. The major benefit of joining an ArtsEd choir is the experience of the choir master, as all their tutors have West End experience.

“It was really good fun. No one took it too seriously and we had a real laugh” said one former participant.

Those interested in securing their spot can visit this link or by call 020 8987 6666.

West London woman describes three month bed bug infestation as “hell”

Image above: A bed bug on human skin

Isleworth couple’s struggle with bed bugs 

London has recently found itself in the grip of a bed bug panic. Pest control firms say they have been ‘inundated’ with calls and internet searches for information about bed bugs have shot up after lurid tabloid headlines warned of a new infestation heading our way from France.

Reports from across the Channel tell of a bed bug epidemic wreaking havoc in Paris hotels and on public transport. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has admitted that bed bugs on Transport for London services are “a real source for concern”. Some commuters are now refusing to sit down on Tube services in fears they will pick up the blood sucking parasites.

The Chiswick Calendar has talked to a woman who lives in Isleworth who has had recent first hand experience of dealing with a bed bug infestation. She describes it as “three months of hell”.

She prefers not to use her real name, so we will call her Katherine. She spoke to us because she hopes the experience she and her boyfriend have had will help others prevent an infestation or at least spot it early, before the bugs manage to establish themselves.

Bed bug eggs are only 1 millimetre long – about the size of a pinhead. A single female bed bug lays eggs every single day and lays up to 500 in a single lifetime, which is why a single pregnant bug can wreak havoc quickly.

Images above: Katherine’s bed bug bites

Bitten on the couch, in bed and in the guest room

Katherine’s ordeal began in mid-August when she noticed peculiar bites on her body. “I woke up in the middle of the night because I was bitten, like, two, three times, but I never thought about bedbugs,” she recalls.

She and her boyfriend embarked on a thorough inspection of their home, unable to locate the culprit, and initially suspecting mosquitos. Katherine, who describes herself as “obsessive” was determined to find the source.

Her hunt for the elusive attacker continued for days until she couldn’t ignore the itching any longer. “I thought maybe this is not a mosquito,” she said. “So we checked all around the mattress, trying to see if there was anything.”

Later, Katherine was bitten again while watching a film on her couch with her boyfriend. “I felt something bite me on my feet, and it was much stronger than a mosquito,” she said. “So we turn on the light and and I saw one! I just grabbed it, and then we Googled it, it was bed bugs. and I said ‘Nooo!’.”

Katherine thought she had traced the infestation back to a visit from a young couple who had been studying in Paris for six months, who had stayed with them for a week. She and her boyfriend soon realised the gravity of their situation, realising the the bugs had spread all across her home including the guest room.

Their experience was marked by sleepless nights, paranoia, and a seemingly endless cycle of laundering and fumigating.

“And also by the way, my boyfriend has never been bitten” she added, “Yeah, it’s just me, apparently they tend to prefer women because they are more attracted to pheromones. So if they can, like they will bite men too, but like if they have the option they will try to go for for women.”

Soon after discovering they were infested, they showered, grabbed a pair of clean clothes (and thoroughly ironed them), their laptops and temporarily moved in with Katherine’s in-laws.

Image above: more bites on Katherine’s neck

Couple have spent upwards of £700 on ridding themselves of the infestation

The couple decided to seek professional help to combat the infestation, initially contacting LB Hounslow for their services. The encountered another shock when they were told that they would have to wait 12 days for treatment.

“And I was like 12 days? No! And I said okay, you know what? That’s okay. Bye. Thank you. They were charging £300. So then we called a private one, just to do it in the same day. And you know how much it cost? £1,500 pounds… So we thought, okay, maybe the difference between private will be double or something like that. No.

“… So we booked an appointment with Hounslow and they give you a list of all the things you need to do in order to to be efficient. And let me tell you it’s 18 October and I keep washing my clothes eternally. Because what they tell you is to empty everything. All the clothes, everything you ever owned. Everything that has fabric, everything has to be washed at 60 degrees or frozen for four days.”

Bed bugs are known to thrive in places where people sleep or spend extended periods, making bedrooms and living rooms prime targets. They hide in cracks, crevices, and even in bedding, rendering them elusive and difficult to exterminate completely. This is why fumigation is necessary roughly every 15 days to eliminate new generations of bed bugs as they hatch from eggs.

“My apartment is completely upside down… we put everything in bags, that’s what they tell you so they can’t move on easily through your bedroom and your things. So we emptied all the closets, emptied everything. Absolutely everything. And they came to fumigate once.

They have to wait for 15 days to come again because the fumigation just kills the bug but it doesn’t kill the egg. So you need to wait for the egg to hatch and then spray again. So you kill that next round of babies.”

Katherine added that the real nightmare is the constant washing and maintenance, buying and spraying shop-bought insecticides and fumigation bombs, all the while never really knowing whether the bugs are gone.

She says she has spent upwards of £700 on the infestation. She is still washing and freezing items three months on, because like many Londoners she only has a small freezer with three drawers, into which she has to shove coats, cushions and shoes.

Images above: Frozen items of clothing are still a regular sight in Katherine’s freezer, bed bugs Katherine found in her hotel room last week in (Thursday 12 October) in Paris

“It’s been a hell”

I asked the effect the infestation had on them. Katherine said it’s been “hell”.

“It’s been a hell. And basically, I suffer more more than him. Because I was so, I am so paranoid, you know. I’m a very like, and this is something that I didn’t know before, but for me like bedbugs, where if you were dirty, like if you didn’t clean properly.

“I suffer a lot that I’m very obsessive with with tidiness and cleanliness. You just have one and the bastards reproduce so quickly. So yeah, it’s been it’s been a hell.”

The stress has been significant. As the bed bugs prefer to bite women, she has felt like a primary target. She’s turned paranoid about the presence of bed bugs, even when traveling. The couple recently visited Paris for a friend’s wedding, where she was haunted by the fear of encountering bed bugs in her hotel room. Astonishingly, her fears turned out to be justified.

“It’s funny now, but it wasn’t funny at the moment. One of my friends just got married in Paris. And I had to go to Paris. And I was like, Oh, my God. I wish i could just not go. So I went on Thursday (12 October) and went with my boyfriend. And we went to a hotel, the first night in bed, I was like, oh, no, no, no I’m so scared. I’m sure there are bedbugs in the hotel. Like I’m sure.

“It took me like an hour and a half to fall asleep because I was paranoid about bed bugs. I fall asleep, one hour after… Why do I wake up? Been bitten by bed bugs. Can you believe it?!”

To prevent further infestations, Katherine has become hyper vigilant in her cleaning habits. She is continuing to wash all fabric-based items at high temperatures and freezes those that can’t be washed. She maintains a regular regimen of spraying her home with bed bug repellents for “mental peace”, even though she has not seen any bugs for three nights now.

Katherine’s advice to others facing a bed bug infestation is: “Act quickly. As soon as you have a weird bite, just check, check and don’t let it stay because the more you wait the more they’re going to reproduce and then the harder it is going to be.” She recommends using bed bug-specific products to reduce the risk and encourages caution when having guests.

“If someone comes over now, I need to spray all over your clothes… and your suitcase.”

Wish you’d kept your record collection?

Image above: Bookcase on Chiswick High Road; Underground Vinyl is in the basement

“If I had a pound for everyone who tells me they regret getting rid of their records”

Every day Underground Vinyl has people come in who regret getting rid of their record collection. The record shop which opened in the basement of Bookcase on Chiswick High Road 18 months ago is home to both new and second-hand albums across the whole range of music tastes – rock, psychedelia, jazz and blues, pop and classical.

Jazz and Blues is the most sought after, but the people who come in to buy records go right across the board, says Dan Coombes, who runs the shop along with colleague David Szunyog – musicians, a lot of DJs, young people who realise analogue sound is cool, and yes, older people looking to recreate the collections they so thoughtlessly gave away.

Dan Coombes talked to The Chiswick Calendar about the success of Underground Vinyl, now a rare find in west London in a high street that once upon a time boasted at least four record shops.

Images above: (L) Dan Coombes; (R) David Szunyog 

Jazz and Blues most popular

“Jazz and Blues records disappear really quickly” says Dan. “Any artist that everyone’s heard of – BB King, Muddy Waters, Fats Domino.

“People come in and buy records for different reasons. Some people love the sound of vinyl. Others just want to build a collection of beautiful objects. It’s a combination of people wanting good music and it being cool to collect vinyl.”

The beauty of an album cover is lost if it is stored conventionally (and efficiently), stacked in a line, but there are special pop-out picture frames that enable collectors to show off their albums and swap them over to ring the changes.

Image above: Underground Vinyl, downstairs at Bookcase on Chiswick High Road

“People are nostalgic for the sound”

The sound quality really is different apparently, it’s not just marketing hype. CDs are ‘better’ in one way because there is sound less interference, but vinyl is considered to produce a warmer, more life-like sound.

“You can tell the difference immediately” says Dan. “Sound on vinyl is richer and more enjoyable. People are nostalgic for that sound.”

Surely second hand records are likely to be scratched and crackly?

“Ah but that adds to the listening experience” says Dan.

If you’ve just bought a new record player the last thing you want is to ruin the needle on someone else’s dodgy old records, no?

“It’s a balance, you don’t want to play records that are too damaged, and it depends also how expensive your record player is”.

You can pay £100 for one, or you can pay over £1,000.

Images above: Album covers The Beatles – Abbey Road; The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers; The Doors

“Not a man cave”

Dan and David work in the bookshop and have taken over the record shop from Giulia Tonci Russo, who opened it in April 2022.

Dan’s music taste is rooted in the 1980s (he’s 43), so Michael Jackson is a staple, but he also likes ’80s pop (Ricky Martin, The Sugar Babes, Girls Aloud) as well as the classics from his parents’ collection (The Beatles, Black Sabbath, The Rolling Stones, The Doors). His personal favourites would be “bluesy rock”.

Daivd (a bit younger) is more into psychadelic rock – his favourite bands are King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (rock) and Khruangbin (known for blending global music influences, such as classic soul, dub, rock and psychedelia’. Thank you Wikipedia).

Images above: Album covers King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard Live at Levitation; King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard Live in Milwaukee; Khruangbin – Hasta El Cielo

Dan is at pains to point out that their own music taste in no way influences the record store’s vibe.

“It’s not a man cave. I hate those places with black walls where everyone is covered in tattoos from head to foot. It’s not like that at all.”

On the shelves you can find soul and reggae, folk and opera in amongst the rock and pop. It’s ok to ask for anything. No judgement will be made on your musical taste.

Images above: New arrivals at Underground Vinyl; the listening booth

If you still have a record collection, look carefully to see how Abbey Road is spelled

How much do records fetch?

“It depends on their condition and their rarity”.

Underground Vinyl tend to buy and sell for the average price (Discogs gives you a rough idea how much you might expect to sell your records for) and they stick to ‘second hand’ mostly rather than ‘vintage’ by way of description.

Discs which are widely available and not rare tend to sell for between £2 and £10 while rarities such as a mis-printed Beatles record (there were some printed as ‘Abby Road’ not ‘Abbey Road’) or a Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers album with the actual zip on the cover are worth a lot more. (Unofficial pressing from Iran anyone?)

Images above: Fats Domino Collected; Muddy Waters at Newport 1960; BB King Signature Collection

Business is brisk, and yes they are glad they took the plunge and converted the basement into a record shop.

“People are complimentary and very positive about it. We have regular customers, quite a lot that work here and live elsewhere and people have come from far and wide and sought us out specially.”

Best of all, the vinyl trend appears not to be a flash in the pan but a continuing trend. (In January this year the Digital Entertainment and Retail Association released data showing that vinyl had overtaken CD in terms of sales for the first time since 1987).

Plans for the future? To introduce board games and vintage comics to their offer (those are ‘vintage’, definitely not ‘second hand’. Go figure.)

Bookcase, including Underground Vinyl in the basement , is a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme. For their current offer to Club Card holders see here:

Bookcase Club Card offer 

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Riverside Cllr Amy Croft on speaking at the Labour Party Conference

Image above: Cllr Amy Croft speaking at the Labour conference in Liverpool

Cllr Amy Croft reflects on her first time speaking at a Labour conference

Guest blog

Last week I swapped the sunny suburbs of Chiswick and headed to the uncharacteristically sunny and warm (for October) Liverpool, for the annual Labour Party Conference.

I was struck by the very clean streets despite the large distance between litter bins, and heavy concentration of bars and restaurants, alongside historical buildings, sitting in relative tranquillity without adjacent high-rise, and the fact that the equivalent of Lime scooters far outweighed the alternative bike provision; your focus definitely changes once you become a Councillor, as two years ago my impression would have centred on entirely different things.

This year’s conference was by far the biggest Labour Conference to date, with a large number of delegates and observers from across the country keen to hear the Shadow Cabinet announce policies around our five missions of Economic Growth, Clean Energy, the NHS, Safer Streets and Opportunity ahead of a potential general election next year.

In addition, there were hundreds of fringe events which enabled everyone to engage in debate over issues as diverse as tackling violence against women and girls to fostering trade in a post Brexit economy.

Delegates from across the country are given seats on the conference floor and can vote and speak on motions, which have been submitted by local party members; these motions, if agreed by conference, are then adopted into policy, meaning that (unlike the Conservative Party Conference, where no votes are taken on party policy), members can vote on party policy.

There were many highlights of the conference for me, however if I had to pick a handful it would be the following.

The Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, former economist, Rachael Reeves, laying out Labour’s commitment to securing the highest sustained growth in the G7, to equally sustained applause. Details can be found at labour.org.uk

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and Shadow Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer addressing conference on proposals to make Britain’s Streets Safe. As Sir Keir served as Director of Public Prosecutions and Head of the Crown Prosecution Service from 2008 until 2013, he is acutely aware of the issues within the Criminal Justice System, and the effects of lack of funding to the police.

Labour must now rebuild our NHS fit for the future

As a delegate I had the honour of following Shadow Secretary for Health and Social Care, Wes Streeting, to address conference floor and second a motion on rebuilding an NHS fit for the future.

Here’s what I said:

“I am a delegate from Feltham and Heston’s CLP, first time speaker” (applause) “and also really proud to be the first Labour councillor for Chiswick Riverside in west London for close to 50 years”. (More applause)

“There’s a really deep security that we all feel in a quick, free and efficient access to diagnosis and treatment, that we’ve been lucky enough to have. When this is not available to us it also causes a deep sense of anxiety across the country. 13 years of Tory neglect has brought our NHS to its knees and that is unforgivable.

“Conference, our NHS is not for sale, nor will it ever be and Labour will always, always be the champion and protector of our NHS. But you cannot neglect a garden for 13 tears, even the most beautiful garden, and expect to be able to just pour water on it to get it back to its former glory.

“You need to nurture it. You need to prune it. You need to sow and you need to fertilize, so Labour must now rebuild our NHS fit for the future, talk to the people on the floor, talk to the nurses, the doctors; find out what works and what doesn’t work and build on the things that the NHS does brilliantly.

“Strengthen our social care system to give freedom to the NHS to do its job, improve mental health services, especially for our young people; streamline procurement, invest in technology and cut the waiting times. Let’s get Labour’s NHS back and let’s get Britain’s future back.”

Social care and policing priorities

Another of our wonderful Councillors (for Brentford East) Marina Sharma, spoke passionately to support a motion calling for a National Social Care service to ensure quality of care and working conditions of staff; along with a reduced burden on the NHS.

I was also interviewed by Robert Peston and had a front seat for the Leader’s speech; the glitter only adding to the buzz in the air around the clear set of funded policies he presented; something which was clearly missing from Rishi Sunak’s Leader’s speech from the previous week.

Back to Chiswick and I attended the Policing meeting in the Town Hall organised by my fellow Councillors on Tuesday 16 October, where there were clear frustrations by residents over the lack of safety on their streets. Whilst the police are clearly doing their best and deploying their resources to the greatest priority, this clearly does not provide the level of cover needed to ensure our streets are safe.

Labour’s mission to Make Britain’s Streets Safe includes the promise to “Restore neighbourhood policing with 13,000 new neighbourhood police and PCSOs, with mandatory guaranteeing patrols of town centres by dedicated officers.” Something that would undoubtedly benefit Chiswick. Full details can be found at labour.org.uk

Brentford 3, Burnley 0

Image above: Burnley’s Roberts before his second yellow card

Third Season: Singing in the rain

‘Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink’, said my mate Charlie as Brentford’s secured their first victory since 19 August to the accompaniment of torrents from the skies. It could have been worse: had the clouds decided to join the afternoon action nearer the kick-off, a flotilla of small boats might have been required to rescue the players and match officials from a flood.

As it was, the Bees found some of the form enjoyed in promising performances at the beginning of the season, most satisfying a 3-0 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage. But that was then and now was now, when supporters were busy calculating how close to the relegation zone their team might fall if failing to improve on the string of draws and defeats recorded since then.

With Neal Maupay making his first start since rejoining the club, hopes, while not high as kites, were certainly boosted. And with the opposition already languishing in the relegation box, three points was a definite maybe if the worrying list of walking wounded could be replaced in Thomas Frank’s squad shuffle.

Onyeka fends off O’Shea

A near-miss by Maupay – his inside-a-minute shot drifting wide as he bore down on goalkeeper James Trafford – was an indication of the Bees’ determination on the one hand, although on the other there were still those who believed the striker can’t shoot for toffee.

He did his best to convince those doubters after just eight minutes, finding the net from close in after defender Nathan Collins had contributed sterling work in attack. The VAR decision to rule out the goal because of Kristofferson Ajer’s alleged offside was about as popular with the Brentford faithful as losing to Fulham on a wet Saturday, but more of this later.

Bryan Mbeumo – the man who never stops

Later came after 25 minutes when Maupay sent Bryan Mbeumo – at his creative best for much of the game – down the right flank to provide a cross that Wissa was able to tap home at the far post. This could have been the signal for a deluge of chances that saw the Bees forge ahead, but Trafford coped well with them all. A deluge of a different type was to come.

What did arrive after the break was a more cohesive Burnley. As so often happens, Brentford appeared bemused by this and for fifteen minutes or so the game remained far from won. But a candidate for goal of the season so far was just around the corner.

Jensen and Mbeumo calculate the odds

Ajer and Maupay combined on the right with the full-back providing a cross for Mbeumo, cutting inside to find some wriggling room. His thunderbolt of a shot from outside the goal area left Trafford with nothing to do other than scratch his head as the ball zipped into the top corner.

With the balance of play restored and Burnley’s enthusiasm diminished, the visitors were once again reduced to attempts on goal that rarely troubled Mark Flekken, although an embarrassing miss of a gaping empty net by lively forward Luca Koleosho did nothing to lift the visitors’ spirits.

Second goal for Brentford as the storm clouds gather

And then the rains came; very wet rains at that.

Saman Ghoddos, having been substituted for Frank Onyeka, thumped a third goal almost as good as Mbeumo’s and, to complete a miserable afternoon for Burnley, full-back Connor Roberts was despatched to the lonely if dry dressing room for collecting a second yellow card.

Thomas Frank was to express the view that the first half was ‘a top, top performance’ in the team’s first home win of a season marred by injury as well as Ivan Toney’s long suspension. As for the rain, who cares about the weather? I asked Charlie.

‘Samuel Taylor Coleridge did’, said my erudite friend.

Brentford: Flekken; Ajer (substitute Roerslev 76m), Collins, Pinnock. Janelt; Onyeka (sub Ghoddos 84), Norgaard, Jensen (sub Yarmolyuk 76); Mbeumo, Maupay (sub Olakigbe 88), Wissa.

Burnley: Trafford; Roberts, Al-Dakhil, Shea, Taylor; Cullen, Berge (sub Brownhill 66); Trésor (sub Bruun Larsen 66; sub Delcroix 80), Amdouni (sub Redmond 76), Odobert (sub Koleosho 45); Foster.

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor for the Bees United website. Photographs by Liz Vercoe.

“Mortgage storm brewing” says independent mortgage adviser James Corden

Image above: Terraced houses in Chiswick; photograph Anna Kunst

Borrowers face huge hikes in mortgages as millions of fixed rate mortgages end over the next year

Millions of people are facing huge increases in their mortgages over the next year.

“There is a mortgage storm brewing” says Chiswick based independent mortgage adviser James Corden, of Fairfield Finance. “There is a whole chunk of mortgages coming off fixed rates before the end of next year.”

There were news stories about this last year when the interest rates started leaping up, but it is only now that the financial reality is starting to have an impact on people.

According to the Office of National Statistics there are 1.4 million borrowers who have already come off fixed rate deals in 2023 or will do before the end of the year, but there are 2.4 million more deals due to end in 2024.

Interest rates have risen from a historic low of 0.1% in March 2020 to the current 5.25%, leaving thousands of homeowners coming out of fixed term deals facing huge increases in their monthly mortgage payments.

Because people tend not to look at the details until the last minute, when their deal is about to run out, many are unaware of the financial impact which is about to hit them, says James. Someone who is currently on a five-year fixed rate of 0.75% could see their mortgage jump from under £500 to over £2,500.

Mortgage rates shot up last year after Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s disastrous budget sent shock waves through the financial industry. James has been a financial advisor since 1990 specialising in the mortgage sector. In his opinion mortgages are steadying at the moment, but the market has not fully stabilised yet.

Image above: James Corden

What to do? Take a more expensive short-term fixed rate deal, or a cheaper longer-term deal?

Mortgage holders whose fixed rate deals are about to run out will need to weigh up whether they are better off taking a two-year fixed mortgage or one of the cheaper, longer term deals that are available.

“We are now seeing five and ten-year fixed rates being reduced. Shorter term agreements used to be cheaper, but now they are more expensive.”

A mortgage may cost £1,800 a month on a five-year rate whereas the same amount of borrowing may cost £2,000 a month on a two-year fixed rate.

The gamble is whether to agree to pay more in the short term in the hope that rates will come down, or to go for a cheaper deal in the expectation that rates will remain high or even go up further.

“People think it can’t go up much higher, but when I started out as a financial adviser in 1990 the interest rate was 15% and a lot of people got caught out” says James.

Interest rates reached an all-time high of 17% in November of 1979.

The risk is that if rates do come down, you will be stuck paying over the odds for borrowing. All these deals have penalties for pulling out early. They also have product fees which have to be taken into consideration. So what should people do?

“There is no right answer to that” says James.

“It depends on the individual and how they see things.”

The advice he gives is what other reputable financial advisers are also saying:

“It is better to be certain in uncertain times”.

If you know what your mortgage payments are going to be, you can plan accordingly and avoid nasty unexpected shocks.

So far, he has not seen clients sell their homes rather than remortgage.

“There are investment clients who have sold because it’s not worth it. I haven’t seen in in residential yet, but it will happen.”

He also advises that you don’t wait until the very last minute to think about it.

“Most lenders will allow you to change within six months of the end of the deal.”

Labour’s Rachel Reeves offers “more stability”

Like former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, James likes the look of Labour’s finance spokesperson Rachel Reeves’ proposals.

Mark Carney, who was appointed by Conservative Chancellor George Osborne and served Boris Johnson also (2013 – 2020), made waves when he endorsed Rachel Reeves’ “serious” financial proposals in a video message to the Labour Party conference, saying it was “beyond time” her plans were put “into action.”

“She’s offering more stability” says James. “She is talking about bringing back stability and growth. Her plans for housebuilding will see prices start to come down. Stability is what we need. Boring is good for money markets.”

It used to be the case that 25-year mortgages were the norm, but most new borrowers now opt for 35-year loans. The overall cost of the mortgage is significantly more, because of the interest payments, but young people particularly are taking them out because the monthly payments are lower.

The government may announce an extension of its mortgage guarantee scheme in the Autumn Statement on 22 November, as a way of helping for first-time buyers. The Treasury is reported to be considering making the scheme, which makes it enables people to take out a mortgage with a five percent deposit, available for another year.

Image above: Houses alongside Dukes Meadows; photograph Anna Kunst

After 30 years in the business James now finds he is advising the children and grandchildren of his original clients

James Corden often gets disappointed looks when he checks-in to a hotel – not because of how he looks but because of who he isn’t. James has been offering mortgage advice in west London for more than 30 years. He may not be as well-known as the entertainer, but the is of considerably more use if you are trying to work out what to do when buying a mortgage.

Most of his clients are by referral, so he now finds himself advising the children and even grandchildren of his original clients.

As an FCA approved Mortgage Advisor he suggests mortgage solutions for individuals from the 200+ plus mortgage lenders, and their products, across the UK market, unlike the mortgage advisers attached to banks who offer their products, or those affiliated with estate agents, who also tend to have preferred trading partners.

“It can be baffling for many people to know where to start and what’s best for them in terms of mortgages. Especially in the current climate, when rates recently increased by over 60%. But also for more financially savvy clients who want to check on the best deals right now, we offer clients a view of the market and bespoke solutions.

“I don’t charge up-front fees for my services on the basis that clients tell me what their circumstances are & I offer them the best current deals proceeding through to placing a mortgage for them – at that stage I get a placement fee from the lender.”

As a long-term Chiswick resident you may also have seen him in a completely different role, as a ski instructor at Dukes Meadows, or flipping burgers at Chiswick House Dog Show.

You can email James at james@fairfieldfinance.com.

fairfieldfinance.co.uk

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