RMT end strikes but Aslef continue

Image above: Tube station closed during strike

RMT workers accept pay deal to end 18 month row

Rail workers have voted to accept a pay deal, ending their long-running series of strikes over pay, job security and conditions. Members of the RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers) union have agreed to an offer from 14 train companies, which includes a backdated pay rise of 5% for 2022-23 as well as job security guarantees.

Members will no longer be involved in the planned industrial action in the run up to Christmas and New Year, ending the 18-month dispute.

General Secretary of the RMT Mick Lynch said:

“Our members have spoken in huge numbers to accept this unconditional pay offer and no compulsory redundancies until the end of 2024.

“I want to congratulate them on their steadfastness in this long industrial campaign.

“We will be negotiating further with the train operators over reforms they want to see. And we will never shy away from vigorously defending our members’ terms and conditions, now or in the future.”

Aslef strikes 2 – 8 December

Train drivers represented by the union Aslef are still planning to strike. Aslef members are to take part in a “rolling programme” of walkouts between 2 and 8 December, with different train companies affected on each day.

Strikes by both RMT and Aslef members have resulted in train services being cancelled and disrupted during the disputes so far.

“This campaign shows that sustained strike action and unity gets results and our members should be proud of the role they have played in securing this deal” said Mick Lynch.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Plans to improve pedestrian crossing and cycle parking at Strand-on-the-Green

Image above: Strand-on-the-Green

Consultation period open until Monday 11 December

Hounslow Council have opened a consultation on plans to improve the pedestrian crossing facilities and the availability of cycle parking at Strand-on-the-Green.

The plans and the main changes proposed are:

  • Widening of the footways at the northern end of Strand-on-the-Green and the provision of a rain garden.
  • Implementation of pedestrian crossing points and tactile paving on Strand-on-the-Green and Spring Grove.
  • Vehicle access and drainage improvements to 2 Kew Road.
  • Repositioning of the parking bay on the western side. Please note that no parking spaces will be removed as a result of the proposals.
  • Implementation of approximately 26 new Sheffield style cycle stands at the northern end of Strand on the Green.
  • Implementation of approximately 19 new Sheffield style cycle stands adjacent to the river on Strand on the Green.

Sheffield style cycle stands are metal bent into the shape of a square arch.

Image above: Sheffield bike stands

The Council say the proposed improvements will “make it easier for pedestrians to cross Strand-on-the-Green and Spring Grove, particularly for people with mobility issues, visual impairments and who are elderly.”

The proposed additional cycle parking will provide formal places for cyclists to lock their cycles, which will reduce the obstructive locking of cycles to fences in the local area, particularly on G-Tech Community Stadium match days.

These proposals support the objectives set out in Council’s Transport Strategy to improve road safety, promote the use of active travel and improve local air quality.

The Strand-on-the-Green Association (SoGA) has encouraged members to take part in the survey and have said:

“We will be responding to LBH (London Borough of Hounslow) to reflect specific feedback provided to us by local businesses and individual members who share their comments with us. ”

Drainage issues

The Council also says:

“As part of the design, we will be considering how we can improve the drainage of surface water from the footway towards the carriageway and into gullies as it has been reported that downstream surface water ingress has occurred into a residential dwelling during storm conditions.”

To respond to the consultation click on the following link: Hounslow Council Consultation

Alternatively, you can contact them by emailing consult@hounslow.gov.uk or calling 0208 583 3322.

TfL announces tube journeys almost back to pre-pandemic levels

Maestro (2023) – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

Maestro ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A love story – A biopic which chronicles the lifelong relationship of conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein and actress Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein. Out in cinemas now.

A film that comes with both Spielberg’s and Scorsese’s names attached as producers in the front credits deserves to be seen, no matter what, at least in my book.

As it happens, this also has two of the best performances of the year waiting to score awards left and right.

A lot has been said about Bradley Cooper’s prosthetic nose in the film, but if you can get past the pointless debate (and to be honest, it’s not that hard to do that), you will not only find this is his best performance to date, but also it’s an immersive and compelling portrayal and a loving tribute to the iconic composer Leonard Bernstein.

If you are scared about the subject matter (Leonard who? somebody may ask), don’t worry, you don’t need to know anything about him. The depth of emotion and nuance he brings to the role transcends any discussion about his  nose, and makes him instantly interesting as a character whether you know about him or not.

The dedication and commitment that Cooper brings to the role is truly astonishing. Look no further than a scene in Ely Cathedral, when he’s directing his orchestra in a one-take wonder. It is one of the best pieces of acting I’ve seen all year. A “Self-serving Oscar bait”? Maybe, but what’s wrong with that when the result is such breath-taking bravura. Certainly my bets are all on him this year.

He put his heart and soul into this Maestro, not just as an actor, but as a director too.

He shows a remarkable command of visual artistry, pacing and rhythm, guiding the narrative with precision and finesse, delicately balancing scenes of quiet intimacy and grandeur. His attention to detail and his ability to transition seamlessly between these varying scales, contributes to the film’s overall richness and depth.

Yes, his style is a time a bit showy at times, but all in the best tradition of pure Hollywood glamour. In fact, the film feels a bit retro (in the best sense of the term), like the kind of stuff Hollywood used to make in the old days.

I’m not surprised that both Spielberg and Scorsese, both great movie lovers, wanted to be involved.

The film pays homage Bernstein as a composer, as well as painting a vivid picture of the world of music he lived in during the Golden Age of Hollywood.

But this is not your standard biopic, following the well-trodden formula, the twist is how it delves into the personal and emotional dynamics of Bernstein’s life and focuses on the complicated (and very modern) relationship with his wife Felicia Montealegre, beautifully played by Carey Mulligan (if it wasn’t for Lily Gladstone in Killers of the Flower Moon, I’d say Carey would be a shoe-in for an Oscar too).

Their love story and the profound influence Felicia had on Leonard’s life and career is the heart of the story. Cooper and Mulligan elevate it and make it all a lot more powerful, interesting, and ultimately more successful than it has any right to be.

If you then add the splendid production design, the sumptuous costumes and the out-of-this world make-up (here’s another Oscar coming up) you’ll get a real crowd pleaser, which only a cold cynic could falter.

Maestro is out in cinema from Friday and inevitably (way too early) on Netflix from 20 December.

Blood cancer charity in Chiswick hits one million registered donors across UK

Image above: DKMS workers at a donation drive; Credit DKMS

Chiswick-based charity celebrates ‘significant milestone’

DKMS, a blood cancer charity based in Chiswick, is celebrating a ‘significant milestone’ as one million donors have registered in the UK, including Chiswick residents, stepping up to save lives. The charity, which facilitates stem cell transplants globally, reports that since its launch in the UK a decade ago, stem cell donations have reached 42 countries, offering hope to those battling blood disorders.

Among the one million registered donors is Ashley Walker, a 35-year-old from Connah’s Quay near Chester:

“When I got an email about being a potential match, donating was a no-brainer. If it were my kids, I’d want someone to help.”

Despite their achievement, there is a pressing need for more donors. Every 20 minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with blood cancer, and the rates of eligible donors signed up with DKMS remain low across the UK.

In England, only 2.8% of the eligible population are registered. In Scotland it’s 2.4%, in Wales 4.2% are registered and in Northern Ireland it’s 5.7%.

DKMS is hoping to expand on their million milestone by adding more people to the donation register. They also want to fight misconceptions around stem cell donation and reach out into underrepresented communities.

Image above: James Moore – the first person to donate life-saving stem cells via DKMS in Sheffield; Credit DKMS

One of ‘biggest challenges’ is dispelling myths

DKMS told The Chiswick Calendar that dispelling myths about donating stem cells is one of the biggest challenges they face in getting more people to register. Many people who are unaware of the donation procedure believe it is intrusive, overly painful or damaging to their long-term health.

In truth, with peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) collection, which is used in 90% of donations, no surgery is necessary and donors can usually leave the clinic on the same day.

Bone marrow donation, which is used in 10% of donations, takes place under a general anaesthetic using a puncture needle in the iliac crest of the pelvis. The donor’s stay in hospital can last up to three days in total.

A stem cell donation is comparable to a blood donation, and does not lead to a permanent loss of stem cells. The body reproduces the blood stem cells within about two weeks. Four weeks after donation, a donor’s blood levels are checked to make sure the relevant blood values have returned to normal.

To minimise the strain on donors as much as possible, DKMS limit the number of times a donor can donate to twice for either PBSC collections or bone marrow collections.

Images above: Purity standing in front of a Kenyan flag, Purity with her stem cell donations; Credit DKMS

Reaching out to underrepresented communities

DKMS also face the challenge of making the donation register more representative of people from minority ethnic backgrounds.

Purity Kiarii, 49, who lives in Hertfordshire, is a busy mother of two teenage daughters and a ten-year-old son. She works as a session sister for the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and recently became a stem cell donor herself.

“I got registered back in 2013, after watching a news report on TV about the work of KKLT, the Kevin Kararwa Leukaemia Trust”, explained Purity.

“They were appealing for more potential stem cell donors from black and minority ethnic backgrounds to come forward. Kevin Kararwa had been diagnosed with leukaemia in 2012, but sadly died before a donor who was a suitable match could be found for him.”

“Look at me, I am 100% fine: really soon after I’d donated my stem cells the levels in my body were completely back to normal. Just go for it – get registered as a donor! You never know what might be around the corner and whether it might be someone you know who urgently needs a transplant, and all it costs is your time.”

Purity added:

“Because of my Kenyan heritage, I know there can be reluctance within African communities to register as potential donors. There can be lots of myths about donating being dangerous, a mistrust of the medical profession or even in some communities there are fears that witchcraft is involved.”

The NHS Blood and Transplant unit also have difficulty persuading enough Black and Minority Ethnic group families to agree to organ donation once a love one has died.

READ ALSO: Chiswick doctor Kok-Tee becomes poster girl for organ donation

They say it is commonly seen that patients and/or families of ethnic minorities refuse transplantation or donation due to misunderstandings and uncertainty regarding the unknown.

Image above: Potential donators speak with a volunteer; Credit DKMS

Register as a stem cell donor today

Blood cancers rank third in the UK for cancer-related deaths, with over 13,000 fatalities annually. Over 2,000 people in the UK require stem cell transplants yearly, but sadly, only a fraction find a match within their families.

For many, their only hope lies in finding an altruistic stranger registered as a stem cell donor with DKMS. Stem cell donations from donors based in the UK have gone to 42 countries across the globe. The furthest one has gone is over 18,000 kilometres, to New Zealand.

DKMS, founded in Germany in 1991, has expanded globally, with offices in the UK, working tirelessly to combat blood cancer. Their mission extends beyond donor recruitment, involving research aimed at improving patient survival rates.

For those interested in becoming a stem cell donor and potentially saving a life, visit dkms.org.uk register for more information.

Ealing man arrested after vandalism of Palestinian Mission and local mosques

Image above: A CCTV recording of a man throwing red paint at the Palestinian Mission in Hammersmith

“Hate crimes have no place in London”

A man from Ealing has been arrested after a series of attacks on the Palestinian Mission in Hammersmith, as well as a series of other attacks on mosques and businesses across west London.

On Monday, 27 November, a 61-year-old man was arrested in Ealing on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage after red paint was thrown or sprayed at the locations.

The offences took place in the boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, and Ealing on 12 separate occasions between Monday, 16 October and Saturday, 18 November.

The man was taken into custody where he remains.

Detective Superintendent Figo Forouzan, leading the investigation, said:

“Hate crime has no place in London. Its effects run far deeper than property damage, and the impact on victims can linger beyond the removal of the paint. Officers have been working incredibly hard to identify the individual responsible for these offences and provide the relevant support and reassurance to those affected.

“The victims are being supported by dedicated faith officers, and neighbourhood teams have changed their patrol times and routes to provide additional reassurance.”

Image above: Rupa Huq MP visits a mosque in her constituency of Ealing Central & Acton after one of the attacks

Attacks are increasing as Government “ignores” request for diplomatic protection, says Palestinian Mission

In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, following one of a series of attacks, the Palestinian Mission said:

“Increasing attacks against the Palestinian Mission to the UK as the British Government continues to ignore requests for diplomatic protection.

“On Saturday 18 November, 2023, at 23.05 the Palestinian Mission to the UK was attacked and vandalised. In addition to death threats, damage to vehicles and vandalism of property, this is the fourth attack in the last few weeks.

“All attacks and threats have been reported to the British police and the president of the State of Palestine has requested immediate diplomatic police protection to the Mission in London from the U.K. prime minister, holding the UK government responsible for the safety of the Palestinian ambassador, staff and families.

“Until today, the UK government has failed to provide such diplomatic protection, in line with international norms. The lack of any action by the British government, ignoring Palestinian rights and concerns, is inexplicable and unacceptable.

“It is the responsibility of the U.K. government to enable the Palestinian Mission in London to function unhindered. We urge, yet again, the British government to take immediate steps to ensure the security and safety of the Palestinian Mission, its ambassador and staff.”

Above: Post on X by the Palestinian Mission 

Christmas lights switched on in Chiswick – the first of a series of Christmas celebrations

Image above: Chiswick School students at the Christmas lights switch-on on Monday (27 November)

Chiswick lights switch-on goes off without a hitch

Chiswick welcomed in the festive season on Monday (27 November) with the annual Christmas lights switch-on. It used to take place outside the George IV pub and in the past there has sometimes been a Christmas market and the Fuller’s dray horses to admire.

Last year the switch-on moved to the area around Hogarth’s statue, which is where it took place again this year, with a group of students from Chiswick School leading the Christmas carol singing, under the guidance of Tommy Robinson, the school’s creative arts coordinator.

The festive ambiance was enhanced by mince pies and Tunnock’s Teacakes and Father Christmas himself made a special appearance, giving presents to the youngest members of the crowd.

The highlight of the evening came with the illumination of a magnificent tree on the corner of Annandale Road and Chiswick High Road, as well as the lights on Devonshire Road, Chiswick High Road, and Turnham Green Terrace.

Chiswick School students performed The Twelve Days of Christmas and then the crowd was treated to a special performance by acclaimed cellist Orlando Jopling and violinist Sijie Chen from the Wild Arts opera company, who will be appearing in Chiswick again on Saturday 9 December for a performance of Handel’s Messiah at St Michael’s and All Angels Church.

You can book tickets for that performance here: Messiah

READ ALSO: Handel’s Messiah – St Michael & All Angels Church Saturday 9 December 2023

This was the first of several public celebrations of Christmas planned for Chiswick. The flower market, the cheese market and the street food market will all have special celebrations on Sunday 3 December, Sunday 17 December and Sunday 24 December respectively, so if you missed this one fear not, there will be plenty more opportunities to stand around singing carols, eating mince pies and drinking mulled wine in the cold and damp!

READ ALSO: Chiswick Flower Market – Sunday 3 December

See below for a gallery of pictures from the evening

Image above: Cellist Orlando Jopling and violinist Sijie Chen playing pieces from Handel’s Messiah

Image above: The crowd turning their attention to Wild Arts after the lights had been switched on

Image above: Cellist Orlando Jopling and violinist Sijie Chen protected from the drizzle with Father Christmas nearby 

Image above: Chiswick Riverside ward PC Durr-e- Tariq and Chiswick area police sergeant PS Jim Cope with Father Christmas before the crowd arrived

Image above: The crowd gathering, listening to performances before the lights were switched on

Image above: Chiswick School students performing before the lights were switched on

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: EM Forster letters for sale at Chiswick Auctions

See also: Chiswick School teacher wins gold at prestigious National Teaching Awards

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Hounslow Council appoints new parking provider

Image above: Parking notices; library image

New parking provided to take over from SERCO

Hounslow Council has announced a new contract with NSL, a parking enforcement company, who will to take over parking services in the borough from 1 December.

The move comes after SERCO, Hounslow’s previous provided, gave notice of its intention to terminate a five-year contract prematurely. SERCO has been pulling out of parking related activities across the country.

Failure to appoint a new provider would have meant parking restrictions across the borough would have gone unenforced, but NSL has committed to no disruption to services.

The company will be taking over all parking activities including enforcement, payment for parking, issuing of permits and Blue Badges, with the agreement running until December 2025 after which the council says it will ‘consider all available options and providers’.

The annual value of the Hounslow contract was £3.6 million and has previously brought in an income surplus of over £1 million.

Existing bases for enforcement officers, such as those in Chiswick Town Hall and Bridge Road, are being made available to employees of the new provider.

Councillor Salman Shaheen, Cabinet Member for Recreation, Public Spaces and Parking, said:

“I am pleased that we have been able to move swiftly on securing a new provider and look forward to working with NSL over the next two years.

“As a council we always put our residents first and wanted to ensure there is no disruption to services whilst getting on board a new provider to deliver this very important service.”

Ras Dewan, Account Director, for NSL said:

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Hounslow Council to deliver parking enforcement services for the next two years. Residents should see no disruption to services as we mobilise the contract, and we are committed to providing a high-quality service to ensure Hounslow’s roads and communities are kept safe for all.”

Wish (2023) – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

Wish ⭐⭐ ⭐

A young girl named Asha wishes on a star and gets a more direct answer than she bargained for when a trouble-making star comes down from the sky to join her. In cinemas now.

As I am writing this, I hear the news that Wish, the 62nd original feature by Disney Animation, has underperformed at the box office on its first week-end of release (which incidentally is the Thanksgiving week-end in America), falling well short of the already pretty low predictions. And while of course, we shouldn’t really count it out yet (more holidays are coming soon and the film may eventually find its legs), it is clear evidence of the effect that streaming is having on family-oriented films.

Once upon a time a Disney release, in the weeks before Christmas was always an event and generally greeted by storms of families packing the auditoriums. These days nothing is certain any more. Kids seem to prefer to watch things from the comfort of their home, steaming on Disney+, where they can be paused, skipped and where you’ll be able to entertain yourself with your mobile device, with whatever the latest viral video on tik-tok, while the film is playing in the background. Welcome to the 21st century way of watching films.

It is true that the advent of steaming (especially after Covid) seems to have hurt cinema more than anyone could have anticipated, but let’s be honest, the quality of the outcome has also been lacking lately.

It is no secret that I have always been a fan of Disney animated features, but even I have to admit that I haven’t been wowed by the Disney ‘Magic’ in quite a while now.

But let’s go through it by steps.

Wish is being released on Disney’s 100th year anniversary and because of that, there is clear attempt pay homage to many of the previous outings from Peter Pan, to Mary Poppins, from Snow White to Mickey Mouse, but also Cinderella, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and of course to Pinocchio (throughout the film we hear phrases like “Wish upon a star”).

And while of course there is a certain pleasure in trying to uncover all the blink-and-you-miss Easter eggs and nods in the film, it all felt to me like ticking boxes rather than actually earned moments, or even integral part of the story.

Wish is also trying to arc back to that original formula that made Disney so… well, Disney: the book opening at the start, the strong heroine, the songs, the cute animals, the funny sidekick (ready to be sold all over the world as a stuffed teddy-bear-like puppet), the evil baddie, and so on. But despite all the right ingredients, there is no running away from the fact that this feels a film made by committee, with no heart or soul, more intent to be inclusive and modern, rather than worried about telling a good story.

The plot, after a slightly convoluted start, is very generic, and so are the (too many) characters that populate it. As for the songs, with the exception of probably one, I found them all pretty unmemorable not even worth talking about. Even the score itself constantly evoked some of the notes from the classic When you wish upon a star from Pinocchio (the first Oscar winning song in a “cartoon” and the one which has been famously used for the Disney logo for years), but the result is that you actually spent the whole time wishing you were actually listening to that score instead.

For a film that is all about magic, it’s ironic how little of it I found sprinkled across this film despite all the attempts at nostalgia. Instead, it all felt a bit tired, sterile and often dull. Even the laughs were very few and far between (at least in my screening) with only one single moment (a scene with chickens) getting a big laugh.

On the visual style, even the combination of watercolour and computer animation felt awkwardly disjointed and while some of it looks pretty enough, we are far from the spectacles of Moana, Frozen, Tangled and even further from the artistry in real masterpieces like Pinocchio.

Don’t take me wrong, it’s perfectly watchable, and definitely a step above the previous Strange World, but when you see several kids running around the cinema you know that something isn’t quite working. Even my son (in theory the target audience for this sort of stuff) didn’t seem too impressed and leaving the cinema he said he would give this film “3 stars” (Dear me… I’m raising a film critic!). So, blame him for this assessment (I would have probably taken half a star out).

It breaks my heart to see my beloved Disney missing its mark once again. Let’s hope for a change of course very soon.

Wish  is out in cinemas now.

EM Forster letters for sale at Chiswick Auctions

Image above: EM Forster’s personal correspondence with Bob Buckingham; Chiswick Auctions

Personal correspondence with Bob Buckingham, with whom the author had a long relationship

Personal correspondence that marks the deep relationship between author EM Forster and policeman Bob Buckingham and his family are being auctioned at Chiswick Auctions tomorrow (Wednesday 29 November).

The author of A Passage to India and Journey’s End lived in Chiswick and had a long relationship with Bob Buckingham. As well as the cache of more than a dozen letters, the Buckingham family is now selling more than 160 books and a couple of pieces of furniture that were Forster’s.

Edward Morgan Forster (1879-1970) had a relationship with Bob Buckingham (1902-1975) for 40 years until his death. They had met at a party on the day of the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race in 1930 when Buckingham was unmarried. Buckingham was 28 and Forster 51. The recent film My Policeman starring Harry Styles was inspired by the story.

The author was best man when Buckingham married his wife May Hockey in 1932; he was godfather to their son Robin (who was given Morgan as a middle name) and in 1949 he bought the Buckinghams their family home at Salisbury Avenue in Coventry.

The collection of autograph correspondence includes letters from Forster to Buckingham’s son Robin Morgan Buckingham (1933-1962) dated between March 1950 and July 1962 and his grandson Clive Morgan Buckingham.

In one letter written from Aldeburgh in February 1957 on King’s College, Cambridge headed paper, he writes:

“Here I am stopping with [Benjamin] Britten. I have just been taken to the theatre here – Donald Wolfit in The Master of Santiago – not a good play and he not suited to the part of an ascetic Spaniard.’

On a postcard to Clive he says: “I wonder whether you read my hand writing easily. It is said to be rather difficult”.

Image above: Chaise longue owned by EM Forster

The library of books and pamphlets includes many presentation copies and signed copies. Many, such as Tolstoy’s War and Peace (1930) and Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon (1932) were gifts from Forster to Bob Buckingham.

Others were books sent by a range of 20th century writers and poets to Forster himself. A copy of Rose Macaulay’s Life Among the English (1932) in its original dust jacket is inscribed ‘E.M. Forster from R.M’.

Towards the end of Forster’s life, he lived with the Buckingham family, with Bob’s wife May acting as his nursemaid, until his death at the age of 91. She later wrote:

“I now know that he was in love with Robert and therefore critical and jealous of me and our early years were very stormy. Over the years he changed us both and he and I came to love one another, able to share the joys and sorrows that came.”

Image above: Wooden washstand which belonged to EM Forster

The sale also includes two pieces of Edwardian furniture owned by EM Forster. Both a button upholstered chaise longue and a washstand together with elements of a blue and white pottery wash set come with accompanying letters of provenance from Clive Morgan Buckingham.

The letters explain: ‘Over the years Forster gifted many items to the Buckingham family, including books, pictures and furniture, and the wash-stand which was kept by my mother in her bedroom in west London.”

The chaise is expected to bring £1000-1500 with the washstand estimated at £200-300. The collection of letters and books will be offered as a single lot with a guide of £4,000-6,000.


Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Chiswick Flower Market – Sunday 3 December

Guest blog by Kathleen Mitra

As “it’s the season to be merry”, what better way to kick off the festive cheer than a Christmas Chiswick Flower Market on Sunday 3 December? Set against the backdrop of the Chiswick High Road, which is already busy with Christmas preparations, the market promises a day of blooms, greenery, merry melodies and family fun.

Wreaths Galore!

We are expecting to have the best selection of Christmas wreaths in London. Lots of our traders will be selling hand-crafted wreaths using locally grown foliage. From traditional to contemporary designs, there will be a wreath for every taste, style and budget.

For those looking to add a personal touch to their front door decorations, the Christmas Flower Market will host a wreath-making workshop by local award-winning Sara at Hen Corner. You need to sign up in advance here. This is almost sold out but check for tickets here.

Christmas Greenery and Gifts

Other than wreaths there will be an array of Christmassy plants, foliage and mini trees to bring natural seasonal decor to your home over the festive period.  Plus, there will be plenty of traders with flowery/garden themed gifts, ornaments and floral displays.

Mulled Wine

Warm up your spirits with the rich aroma of mulled wine.  Indulge in the seasonal tradition of sipping on this spiced beverage as you browse.  It will be available from No 197 The Fire Station, located in the middle of the market (outside their premises).  The Fire Station will also have a supply of free mince pies – come early before they run out,

Petting Ponies

Bring the whole family, including the little ones, for a special encounter with Dotty and Peaches, the friendly petting ponies from Ealing Riding school. They will be awaiting your visit opposite the George IV entrance between 10.30am and 12.30pm. They will be available for stroking, grooming, leading – and selfies!

Santa Visits

It wouldn’t be a Christmas outing without a visit from Santa who will be coming with a goodie bag full of chocolate coins between 10.30am and 3pm.

School Choirs and Brass Band

Join us for musical performances by local choirs and a brass band.  We have a packed schedule as follows:

10:10 – 10:40 W4Youth

10:40 – 11:10 Strand junior school

11:10 – 11:40 Rock Choir

11:40 – 12:20 CTA performing arts

12:20 – 12:50 Rock Choir

12:50 – 13:20 West London

13:30 – 14:00 BUSC Brass Band

14:00 – 14:30 Chiswick School

14:40 – 15:10 BUSC Brass Band

Free Mistletoe

Don’t miss the chance to take home a sprig of mistletoe, courtesy of the Chiswick Flower Market organizers. Pop along to the Flower Market HQ (tall white gazebo with bunting, lights and bags), say the password “HOLLY”, to collect a free sprig of mistletoe. Take it away, hang it up, and embrace the age-old tradition of sharing a kiss under the mistletoe with your loved ones.

Vegan Market

For those with a taste for plant-based delights, our Vegan Market annex is a culinary treat and home to numerous artisans with a wide range of gift ideas including candles and jewellery.  They will be located from the top of Devonshire Road, heading east along Chiswick High Road.

Christmas Gift Bags

What better way to present your gifts than in a timeless, sustainable Chiswick Flower Market jute bag.  Available in festive red (and other colours).  Large £5, small £4, all profits go back into the local community.

Images (from last December’s flower market) – Anna Kunst

Join Us for a Day of Festive Fun

The Special Christmas Chiswick Flower Market on December 2nd is more than just a market – it’s a celebration of community and the magic of Christmas. So, bring your friends and family, and join us for a day filled with seasonal cheer.

Chiswick Flower Market
Old Market Place,
Chiswick High Road, W4

Sunday 3 December 9am to 3.30pm

Kathleen Mitra is one of the directors of the Chiswick Flower Market

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Cinderella review – Lyric theatre, Hammersmith

Image above: Cinderella at the Lyric, Hammersmith, the company; photograph Manuel Harlan

The biggest ball in west London

As Christmas hurtles ever closer, the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre brings us its 15th annual pantomime. This year’s production is a ‘brand new take’ on Cinderella from the pen of award-winning comedian, actor and composer Vikki Stone.

Tilly La Belle Yengo makes for a sympathetic Cinderella, here updated as a sassy “boss-lady” selling diminutive clothes for rodents in Shepherd’s Bush Market (definitely a niche that no-one else has spotted!).

Most of the laugh-out-loud moments come when Emmanuel Akwafo takes the stage as the inevitable Dame, Lady Jelly Bottom, a terrifying yet exhilarating combination of Margaret Thatcher and B. A. Baracus from ‘The A Team’. Akwafo plays the part with great energy, mining his/her ridiculous character name for a string of ‘cheeky’ jokes and donning an array of wonderfully outrageous costumes.

Images above: (L) Tilly La Belle Yengo as Cinderella; (R) Emmanuel Akwafo as the dame; photographs Manuel Harlan

The cast as a whole is excellent and special mention must go to the often overlooked ensemble, who inhabited every one of the more minor roles with infectious enthusiasm and perfect comic timing.

For extra appeal to the many children in the audience, they even had to spend much of the performance sweating inside giant gerbil costumes. In spite of this, Jerome Lincoln stood out with his stage presence and is surely someone to watch for the future.

Images above: (L)  Jodie Jacobs and Damien James; (R) Meghan Treadway; photographs Manuel Harlan

Music is always vital to the lifeblood of a good pantomime. Composer and arranger Corin Buckeridge gives us a series of dynamic, frothy showstoppers alongside slick choreography from Arielle Smith.  Hits such as Pulp’s Disco 2000 and Taylor Swift’s ‘Anti-Hero’ are given the full panto treatment.

There is much to praise about the production and only a few obvious flaws – some of the vocals are a little shaky here and there and what should be a hilarious audience participation sketch, involving the cracking of eggs on Lady Jelly Bottom’s firm backside, fizzles out rather disappointingly.

My abiding feeling as the curtain fell was that something was missing, that elusive and hard to define ‘X-factor’. The show is colourful and fun and generates much warmth and goodwill but never quite transcends from a ‘good night out’ to a ‘sensational’ one. I left with a smile on my face but no aching ribs.

Scott Michell

Rula Lenska talks to The Chiswick Calendar about her new show: From Dzików to Willesden Green

Image above: Rula Lenska with her mother ‘Bisia’ (Elizabeth)

A homage to her mother – “a wonderful woman”

If you were asked to name three things about Rula Lenska, one would probably be that she is the actor who became famous in the 1970s in the TV drama Rock Follies and went on to work on both Coronation Street and Eastenders.

You might also remember her tempestuous relationship with Minder and New Tricks star Dennis Waterman – they kept the tabloids busy for years. The third thing you would probably remember about her is that she is a Polish countess.

She doesn’t use the title here, she told The Chiswick Calendar, because “over here it makes me sound like a stripper, and it became pretty meaningless when my family lost all their property and land in the Second World War”, but she finds as she gets older that her Polish roots are more and more important to her.

She has put together a one woman show from her late mother’s memoirs, telling the story of how her family lived as aristocrats in Poland, fled the Nazis, were imprisoned and survived Ravensbrück concentration camp to come here to the UK as refugees.

Image above: Rula at home in Chiswick

“We came from a very highly aristocratic background”

Rula, who lives in Chiswick, talked to us about the show, which she is performing at the Tabard theatre on Sunday (3 December) at 3pm and 6pm with a Q&A after each performance.

“We came from a very highly aristocratic background and when I was riding high from Rock Follies the BBC recorded our family’s story –  five hours of interviews with my mother. She was an extraordinary woman and it was fascinating, but of course they only used the most dramatic soundbites.”

The story is as dramatic as they come. Twelve of her immediate family, including Rula’s mother Elizabeth, then 18, her sister and their mother, fled their castle in Dzików in 1939 when the Nazis invaded Poland, with some of their servants – chauffeurs, maids and nannies.

Her grandmother took what she could of her jewels, which kept them alive, bartering their way through Romania into Yugoslavia, where they lived for three years under Italian occupation. Once Italy capitulated and they came under German control, they were arrested and the women sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp.

Images above: Rula’s mother Bisia (Elizabeth) as a young woman; Rula and her sister Gabriella with their father; Rula with her own daughter Lara and Elizabeth

Fleeing the Nazis and coming to England as refugees

Rula wanted to tell the story in its entirety, with the purple passages in context, so with a director friend she set about turning her mother’s memoirs into an hour-long stage show. She reflects the on very dark times her mother endured in the concentration camp, but there are also some light moments, she says.

“One of her jobs there was to make parts for V1 and V2 bombs. She made sure there was something wrong with every one of them, in her own personal war effort.”

Why has she chosen now to tell this story? I asked her.

She rolled her eyes. “With all that’s going on in the world? The world never seems to learn. Look at all the antisemitism that’s going on.”

Rula’s family were political prisoners, incarcerated along with other political opponents, socialists and communists, as well as anyone else who didn’t fit into the Nazi ideology: homosexuals and Jews.

It’s not hard to see why the Nazis would have wanted their land, with its forests, carp pools, and vodka distilleries. Rula went to see it for the first time in 1989 after the fall of communism.

“I felt like part of my soul was coming home”.

Born in 1947 in an army camp at St Neots, she is a Londoner and has lived in Chiswick for nearly 20 years. Her parents made sure she spoke only Polish when she came home from school – “which I hated at the time” – and learned about Polish geography and history, for which she is now grateful.

Images above: Rula with Hayley Mills in The Real Exotic Marigold Hotel; Rula with Charlotte Cornwell and Julie Covington in Rock Follies

Rula will be performing From Dzików to Willesden Green on Sunday, in between tours of The Real Exotic Marigold Hotel. She has just finished the English tour, with Hayley Mills (Wild at Heart, Pollyanna, The Parent Trap), Paul Nicholas (Jesus Christ Superstar, Just Good Friends, Eastenders) and Andy de la Tour(Notting Hill, Star Wars, The Young Ones). Next year she will be reprising her role on tour in New Zealand.

Book tickets for From Dzików to Willesden Green on the Tabard theatre website.


“We have a passion for Chiswick” – Mali’s cafe-deli and sister business Nikki’s Bakery

Image above: Homayoun Fahimipour, owner of Mali’s and Nikki’s Bakery

Mother and daughter cafés run by a very busy husband and father

It is nearly ten years since Nikki’s Bakery opened on Chiswick High Rd. The early bird café beside Snappy Snaps on the corner of the High Road and Turnham Green Terrace, open from 7.30am every day except Sunday (when they open a whole half an hour later) has become a firm favourite with Chiswickians for its good coffee, fresh pastries and cakes, sandwiches, quiches and seasonal salads.

It is always busy and owner Homayoun Fahimipour and his wife Mali have been able to branch out and open a second business in Chiswick: Mali, the café-delicatessen next to Waterstones, which Homayoun named after his wife and opened in June. (Nikki’s was named after his daughter, who once as a small child declared she was going to own a bakery. Now she’s 18, but is quite content for him to run it).

Can Chiswick support so many cafés? Why did he want to open another one here?

“Yes I think it can. It still has too many places which rely on packaged, frozen food. What we need is more places that sell quality, fresh products that are healthy and made fresh daily.”

Image above: Mali’s café-delicatessen

“I was thinking of calling it ‘Loose and Lazy’ “

Homayoun was particularly keen to secure this site. It was empty for three years after the previous incumbents Kitchen & Pantry left, because he says the negotiations with the landlords dragged on, drawn out by Covid.

“We have such a passion for Chiswick, it’s lovely, and it’s getting better all the time with the Sunday markets.”

Having explained that it’s called Mali’s after his wife, Homayoun confides that he had been thinking of calling it ‘Loose and Lazy’, with the intention of conveying the idea of somewhere people could hang out and relax. Thankfully her realised in time that the name could have had other connotations and given a different impression entirely.

It is a bonus that the property is quite big, taking up the frontage space of two houses, and also on a corner. Previous cafes on the site went for the dark and comfy vibe, with big sofas. Homayoun has opened up the space by putting in big windows facing Megan’s at the Flower Market as well as the windows facing the High Rd, and he has gone for a cleaner, lighter, more pared back design.

The food is very similar to Nikki’s – salads, quiches, sandwiches, pastries, cakes, freshly squeezed juices and smoothies made to order. The pastries and cakes are made at Nikki’s in the early morning; the hot food and salads made fresh every day in the kitchen at Mali’s.

Nikki’s meanwhile has branched out into offering made to order cakes online. Customers can see the cakes online and order by phone, because Homayoun and Mali like to have a conversation with their customer to make sure they get exactly what they want. Offering the cake service has expanded their business and made them known more widely than just Chiswick. They have one customer for example who has rung them from the United States to make a cake to deliver to her daughter in Chiswick.

Images above: Quiches and salads at Mali’s 

“We were the first business to start serving almond milk as well as cow’s milk”

Everything is made fresh using local ingredients – meat from Macken Brothers, eggs and dairy produce from Alan Reeder in Acton for example. I can vouch for the courgette and red pepper quiche with filo pastry, which I had with a salad involving crisp iceberg lettuce with sweet potato, mango and fetta cheese. It was light and tasty and accounted for at least three of my five a day.

Homayoun puts a lot of emphasis on the healthiness of their fare.

“We use fresh, quality products. Chiswick is a foodie place now. We’ve noticed over the years we’ve been here how that has changed. It used to be the case that people didn’t ask what was in the food. Now they want to know; they’re very health conscious.

“We were the first business to start serving almond milk as well as cow’s milk. Now we have about ten types of milk – almond, oat, coconut, dairy … I like to talk to customers about what goes into the food. We cater for customers who are on a gluten free diet, or who are vegetarian or vegan.”

Images above: Made to order cakes from Nikki’s Bakery: L to R Black Forest, Caramel Lotus Biscoff; Vegan lemon & raspberry

Homayoun learned about hospitality in Belgium. Leaving Iran as an 18 year-old he chose Belgium as the “gastronomic Mecca – even more so than France.” For ten years he studied every aspect of the hospitality business – event catering, restaurant management, customer service. He gained experience in Michelin starred restaurants before opening his own – Le Petit Paradis in Ghent.

It is noticeable that the customer service is good. The staff in Mali’s are young and welcoming and he interacts with them a lot, buzzing about chopping vegetables, popping something in the microwave, talking to customers. He expects the highest standards of his staff, and does not ask them to do anything he does not also do himself, with expertise, at speed.

It was his wife who wanted to come to London, to live in a truly international city – “one nation in one city”. What they like about Chiswick is that they find people friendly and relaxed, not too stressed, even though we are in the metropolis. The decision to move to London was also coupled with a promise that Homayoun would give up running a restaurant and run something which meant he could be at home in the evenings more.

So what plans does he have for Mali?

“We are planning to extend our hours into the evenings”. Ah well.

Images above: Cakes at Mali’s 

We are delighted to say that both Mali and Nikki’s Bakery are members of our Club Card scheme. See their current offers here:

Mali – Club Card offer

Nikki’s Bakery – Club Card offer

Image above: Adam, behind the counter at Mali’s

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Chiswick School teacher wins gold at prestigious National Teaching Awards

Image above: Zac Moxon (second from the right) at the award ceremony with Georgia Knight, Head of Dance (L) Tommy Robinson, Head of Performing Arts at Chiswick School, and Head teacher Laura Ellener (R)

Music teacher honoured at ‘Oscars of teaching’

Zac Moxon, the Head of Music at Chiswick School, has won the Outstanding New Teacher of the Year award at the 2023 Pearson National Teaching Awards. These awards, regarded as the ‘Oscars of teaching’, recognise the unwavering commitment of educators to their students’ development and learning.

The accolade was bestowed on Zac during a ceremony on Saturday evening (25 November). Judges praised his inspirational teaching style, remarkable contributions to both the school and the community, and his significant influence among peers and students.

Under his leadership the students at Chiswick School have had the opportunity to perform in some spectacular venues. Two weeks ago Chiswick Voices, the senior choir of Chiswick School, sang at a joint service of Choral Evensong with King’s Voices, the mixed choir of King’s College, Cambridge, and in March Chiswick Voices sang the whole of Vivaldi’s Gloria with Hounslow Youth Choir, even though the choir had only been formed in January 2022.

The school has several music groups which participate in community events around Chiswick, with students performing regularly at the Sunday markets in Chiswick High Rd. Tonight (Monday 27 November) the performing arts choir will be singing carols at the switching on of the Christmas lights by Hogarth’s statue. The school’s steel pan group also now perform across the area and have made quite a reputation for themselves.

READ ALSO: Chiswick School Choral Group sing at King’s College, Cambridge

Zac started at Chiswick School in 2020 as a trainee Maths teacher. When a vacancy in Music emerged a few months later, despite having no previous experience, he took on the challenge of revitalising the department, with the specific brief of  increasing participation.

‘He brought a whole new way of developing Music’ the Pearson National Teaching Awards noted. ‘Within only a few months, participation had risen and the school was producing twice as many concerts’.

In collaboration with fellow music and performing arts staff, he has achieved some remarkable milestones. He established the choir, facilitated student album recordings, fostered partnerships for the school’s steelpan group, and most notably increased GCSE Music uptake by 50%.

The Orchestra has grown to 30, and seven bands across the key stages are mentored by Zac and his colleague, ranging from Year 7 to 13. They all have their own name and style and Zac has established a healthy competitiveness between the groups. Zac has also initiated a scholarship programme offering free music lessons to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Well done, we are very proud of you” Chiswick School posted on social media.

Hounslow Council were among the first to congratulate him. @HounslowMusic, The London Borough of Hounslow’s Music Service posted:

‘Congratulations Mr Moxon, well deserved! This morning a @ChiswickSchool pupil waxed lyrical about how brilliant the arts are and how enthused they are, as a year 8 teenager, at 8.30am! What an impact you’ve had. We are so proud of you!’

The annual awards, managed by the Teaching Awards Trust, an independent charity founded by Lord Puttnam CBE in 1998, were established to acknowledge the pivotal role educators play in shaping young minds.

“A great teacher can enrich your life”

Michael Morpurgo, author, former Children’s Laureate, and President of the Teaching Awards Trust, said at the award ceremony:

“We all know that a great teacher can enrich your life, can help you rise to the challenge, believe in yourself, find your own voice. I know that because it happened more than once to me. That’s why these Teaching Awards are so important, and important to me.

“Every year, without fail, we see nominations which move and inspire us and this year we have seen stellar examples of life-changing role models for young people. I want to once again congratulate the winners of the 2023 Pearson National Teaching Awards and thank them for the incredible impact they have on our communities.”

Sharon Hague, Managing Director of Schools at Pearson UK, said:

“It’s an honour to celebrate and express gratitude to our teachers and the incredible impact they have on our communities. The hard work that goes into teaching and showing up for students day in and day out cannot be underestimated. Congratulations to all winners and thank you for your continuous efforts.”

Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan said:

“The impact of a teacher on a child’s life can be immeasurable – I know it was for me. I am so grateful to all the staff in our schools and colleges for everything they do. This year marks 25 years of the Teaching Awards Trust, which is a huge landmark. Teachers change lives and we should all feel a sense of gratitude to those we are celebrating today. Thank you again and congratulations.”

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Antonio Forcione & Adriano Adewale – Jazz at George IV review

Adriano Adewale (L) & Antonio Forcione (R)

World music / original music

Jazz at George IV regulars were treated to something quite different on Thursday (23 November). Once a year for the past two years we have been lucky that Antonio Forcione has been at home in Chiswick long enough to give us a concert. The multi-award-winning acoustic guitarist has played once on his own and once with fellow Italian Giulio Romano, who plays here regularly with Trio Manouche.  This time Antonio was playing with percussionist Adriano Adewale from Brazil, so the concert had a totally different flavour.

Antonio can play anything – it might be flamenco, it might be Stevie Wonder or the Beatles, all in his own inimitable style. He is charismatic, a showman, a comedian, but this time it was all about the music. We were in for an hour and a half of sensational instrumentalism, with tumbling sequences, joyous rhythms and surprising sounds that transported us to Spain, Cuba and Zimbabwe.

READ ALSO: An interview with Antonio Forcione

READ ALSO: Antonio Forcione on touring, and Trova – the singer-songwriters of Cuba

Adriano is also known for his unconventional and exploratory approach to music. The two of them travel the world, picking up musical influences and blending them into their music, creating atmospheres and soundscapes rather than just tunes.

Adriano Adewale & Antonio Forcione on stage at the Boston Room of George IV

Antonio and Adriano produced the album Joy with Senegalese Kora player Seckou Keita, which won  the 2019 Global Music Awards Best Album. They pinched the Moroccan rug from the bar to give Adriano’s percussion instruments (most of which I couldn’t put a name to) their proper resonance, setting the scene for  some sensational world music.

In the absence of Seckou Keita, Antonio made his guitar sound somehow like a Kora when required, while Adriano added vocal percussion to his array of instruments, with clicks and sounds like bird calls, in a fabulous blend of sounds which just washed over their very appreciative audience.

Antonio is now off on his travels again, playing a concert in Istanbul on Thursday with Turkish guitarist Cenk Erdoğan, while Adriano’s next gig is in London at the Wigmore Hall on Saturday 2 December – a family concert recommended for families with children aged 7 – 11.

Find out more about where they are playing and how to download their albums here:

antonioforcione.com  / aka-trio.com/adriano-adewale  / wigmore-hall.org.uk

Photographs by Anna Kusnt

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‘Pub In the Park’ will go ahead in 2024 run by a new company

Image above: Pub In the Park in 2022

Tom Kerridge salvages his festivals from collapse of Brand Events

Chiswick House Gardens will host the Pub in the Park event next year, despite the collapse of the organising company, Brand Events Limited.

Brand Events Limited faced administration earlier this year due to significant losses during the pandemic. Formed in 2017 through a partnership between Brand Events Holdings Ltd and Reach plc, the company organised big open-air events, including the Pub in the Park festivals featuring food stalls from top chefs and live music which have been a feature of the Chiswick House programme of events for the past three years.

McFly were the headline act at this year’s weekend event in September. Also performing were Ronan Keating, Squeeze, Hoosiers and Judge Jules. Sophie Ellis-Bextor has performed at the Chiswick weekend and another Chiswick resident, Jo Pratt, has featured as one of the celebrity chefs.

This year the festival weekend will be in June, run by a new company, Pub in the Park Festivals Ltd, formed by Tom Kerridge to salvage the festivals which he originated. According to The Times, reporting last weekend, the company invested £175,000 and took on Brand Events’ bank debts. This allowed the completion of the 2023 festival programme, with six events happening after Brand Events’ collapse. The Times reports the collapse left several creditors, including two local councils, with substantial losses.

The future of Pub in the Park was uncertain initially, but it has now been confirmed that four venues are scheduled next summer: Tom Kerridge’s home town of Marlow, Reigate, St. Albans, and Chiswick.

Tom Kerridge, although a significant promoter of the festivals, was not a shareholder in Brand Events or directly involved in its day-to-day operations. He received a 20% share of the festival profits and held a stake in the business’s intellectual property.

Pub in the Park Festivals Ltd say:

“Next year we plan to replace our regional touring format with four newly designed, bigger and better festivals. Each event will have its own unique characteristics that we are really excited about.

“We are sad not to be returning to towns where we’ve had so much fun in the past, but in the current climate our Pub in the Park smaller shows are unfortunately unviable.”

The Chiswick festival for 2024 is slated for June 28-30. Ticket details and new package offerings, combining food and entry, are yet to be announced. Last year, an adult afternoon admission ticket cost £47.20.

NatWest Chiswick branch closing in February

Nearest branch will be Hammersmith

NatWest is notifying customers that its branch at 314 Chiswick High Road will shut in February.

The bank said it was used by just two personal customers on a regular basis in 2022. There were 102 business customers who used the branch on a regular basis.

The report on the decision to close the branch says the number of counter transactions for personal customers was down by 49% between January 2019 and January 2023. Last year 80% of personal customers using the branch were also using online banking or the NatWest mobile app.

There has been a 60% fall in counter transactions seen across the bank as a whole during the same period.

The bank has written to its customers registered at the branch with a leaflet explaining the changes. The bank is running online classes over Zoom to explain how to use its digital services. It says that there will always be a member of staff available to talk to either by phone, video call or in another branch.

Customers based in Chiswick are now being advised to use the branch on King Street in Hammersmith which is 2.2 miles away. The report suggests that the cash machine outside NatWest will also be taken out of service.

There will be two free to use cash machines nearby, outside WH Smith at 370 Chiswick High Road and Nationwide at 304-306 Chiswick High Road.

The branch has its own war memorial commemorating three members of staff who worked for what was then the London County Westminster & Parr’s Bank, who gave their lives in the First World War. They are Leslie S Gander, Henry S Illing and Walter O Russell.

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Food Street market organiser eyes expansion

Image above: Food Street Market – photograph by Andrea Carnevali

Feedback encouraged for new application

The Food Street market, which made its debut last month on Chiswick High Road, is eyeing expansion plans for the coming year. Richard Johnson, the creator of the British Street Food Awards and a local resident of Bedford Park, was only granted a three month trial initially for the street food market on the fourth Sunday of the month. His third market will be on Christmas Eve.

Richard has now resubmitted the original plan, proposing markets which are more than twice the size those he has been allowed so far. The extended setup would extend beyond the car park at Old Market Place, continuing on the pavement along the south side of the High Rd to near the Packhorse and Talbot pub, as the Antiques and Vintage market does. Mirroring the original bid, this reapplication retains the 27 May start date without amendments.

The initial bid proved controversial. Soliciting feedback triggered one of the highest responses to any licensing application in the borough’s history. While a majority voiced support, some local residents’ groups and nearby businesses opposed it. Advocates argued for the market’s potential to amplify foot traffic and bolster High Road commerce. Dissenters raised concerns about unfair competition against traditional establishments, potential congestion, and increased littering.

READ ALSO: Chiswick’s first street food market claimed as “massive success” by organiser

 Images above: Food St market in October; photographs Andrea Carnevali

The early submission of the revised bid on 3 November initially set the comment deadline for 1 December, shortly after the second event and preceding the Christmas Eve market. The Licensing Panel deemed this timeframe inadequate for assessing the market’s impact. Consequently, the consultation period extends until 2 January. A meeting to deliberate on the application is scheduled for January.

The organisers hailed the inaugural October market as a triumph, with numerous vendors selling out of food in exceptionally pleasant weather. It was very crowded, with the permitted number of vendors bunched up at one end of the market place. This Sunday’s market looked a lot less busy, but it coincided with a drop in temperature.

Several local businesses are taking part in the market. The first one in October featured Mari Deli, the Whistling Oyster and Ma Ma Boutique Bakery. Sunday’s market had a stall from Le Vacherin. The food stalls offer a range of food from around the world, including Japanese Onigiri, Swedish ‘FIKA’ culture, Indian food, Taco, Cape Malay delights and handmade dumplings, running from 11.00am to 4.00pm in Old Market Place.

For those intending to offer feedback on the application, there is no obligation to wait until the final market, but the licensing panel’s recommendations suggest basing new comments on experiences from the market events, rather than any preconceived notions. Submissions should be emailed to licensing@hounslow.gov.uk with “Food Street Market” in the subject line, including name and address (which can be withheld from the applicant upon request).

Saltburn (2023) – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

Saltburn  ⭐⭐⭐

A student at Oxford University finds himself drawn into the world of a charming and aristocratic classmate, who invites him to his eccentric family’s sprawling estate for a summer never to be forgotten. On in cinemas now.

After leaving this film I found myself a bit baffled, not quite sure how I should really take it.

I kept on asking myself “Why?”. I won’t go into spoiler, but the whole thing didn’t quite click or made sense for me.

So I waited a couple of days, trying to see if, with time, I’d be able to digest it a bit more and see the good in it and whether anything had stuck.

Sadly the answer is ‘very little’.

On one hand, the story of Oliver (An ultra-creepy Barry Keoghan), the young closeted man infatuated by the good looking schoolmate Felix (the charismatic Jacob Elordi) and eventually drawn into his rich life in the opulent mansion, (the Saltburn of the title) would seem the perfect excuse to critique class dynamics and the secrets and deceptions behind the facade of wealth.

But on the other, the film constantly shifts between melodrama, intrigue, and social commentary, to over the top and cheap satire, devoid of any subtlety and cleverness, diminishing the overall impact and eventually making the whole thing feel a bit crass and a pretty pointless exercise.

But of course subtlety is never on the menu for writer/producer/director Emerald Fennel. This is after all the follow-up to her Promising Young Woman, a film which seemed to assumed that every single man on the planet only wishes to get into every woman’s pants and if given the chance he would take advantage of her, without a second thought (I really found that film insulting and the more I think about it, the more I get angry about it… but what do I know? It actually ended up winning an Oscar for its script).

Watching Saltburn I couldn’t help noticing how many similarities there are with The Talented Mr. Ripley, (That’s a film I really love): both delve into the complexities of privilege, deceit, and the allure of rich lifestyles. In both films, the portrayal of opulent settings masks the dark undercurrents concealed within, leading to a web of deception and moral ambiguity.

Both films explore the themes of identity and the yearning for acceptance within exclusive social circles. The Oliver of Saltburn and Tom Ripley yearn for a life that seems beyond their reach and eventually find themselves immersed in a world where appearances are everything, blurring the lines between real and facade.

So far so good, however while The Talented Mr. Ripley was a gradual journey that successfully immersed the audience into a beautiful world with characters that were not only believable but also fascinating, allowing us to comprehend Ripley’s infatuation, Saltburn takes an over-the-top and rather unbelievable approach, (look no further than the depiction of the posh family).

This exaggerated portrayal veers into a parody of itself, rather than depicting something aspirational, creating a confusion not just in the message but in the overall intentions of Oliver.

Having said that, despite some of the shortcomings of the film itself, the cast really gives its all:

Barry Keoghan as the mysterious Oliver carries a lot of the weight of the narrative admirably. A brave performance, unafraid to go to some really dark places (and to dance completely naked in front of the camera).

Jacob Elordi, soon to be seen as Elvis in Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla plays the charismatic Felix bringing depth and authenticity to the character. Both his on-screen presence and emotional range make him one of the few believable characters in the film.

The same cannot be said of Rosamund Pike who plays Felix’s mother with a hint of something which reminded me of her role in I Care A Lot. She may steal the spotlight with her compelling presence in every scene she’s in, but her character is so unbelievable and over the top that she seems to belong to a different type of film altogether. The same can be said about Richard E. Grant. No fault of their own, but just the parts they’ve been asked to play.

In the end Saltburn emerges as neither a resounding triumph nor a catastrophic failure. It is certainly slick, moody, stylish. It is filmed in a 1.33.1 boxed ratio to give more of an intimate and claustrophobic feel. The constant play with the reflections, while not subtle is also quite effective.

Overall, it’s intriguing enough to keep the audience glued and for most of it manages to weave together a tale of privilege, secrecy, and the allure of wealth, as well as the darkness around all of that quite successfully.

Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be able to resist the temptation to go for the shock value and to go over the top depictions of high class society. A little bit more subtlety, restrain and focus would have made this a much better film.

Saltburn is out in cinemas now.

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

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

Chiswick In Film festival: Chiswick In Film festival 2023

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Arts Ed parents demand answers as principal faces allegations of bullying

Image above: Arts Ed, Chiswick; School music production from February

School facing period of uncertainty after allegations made against principal

ArtsEd is facing a period of uncertainty after allegations of bullying and misconduct at the Chiswick drama and musical theatre schools. ArtsEd has a day school, which charges up to £6,000 per term, and a degree school. Julie Spencer is the overall principal of both schools.

The publication Deadline published an investigation into allegations of bullying at ArtsEd, on 6 November, in which it said:

‘As part of a five-month investigation, Deadline has spoken to more than two dozen people linked to ArtsEd and reviewed internal emails and written testimonies from students and ex-staffers. Some of these sources described a “toxic” culture in which student wellbeing has continued to be put at risk’.

Their report comes two years after the previous principal Chris Hocking left after an investigation by Rebecca Tuck KC, who found ArtsEd had fostered a “sexualized environment” and demonstrated a “lack of regard” for the wellbeing of students, exposing them to favouritism and bullying.

READ ALSO: ArtsEd principal resigns after report reveals school’s ‘sexualised environment’

ArtsEd Principal Julie Spencer

Julie Spencer was promoted to be the new principal and a programme of training introduced to put things right.

ArtsEd told Deadline it strongly disputed the suggestion of a “toxic” and unsafe culture and said the welfare of those who study at the school is its “highest priority.” A spokesperson told them:

“Many of the complaints raised relate to historic matters that occurred prior to the Rebecca Tuck KC review in 2021. While we have been unequivocal in accepting the cultural and leadership failings that were identified in the Tuck review, we have also made considerable progress to put things right in the last two years.”

Deadline maintains their reporting covers the period of Julie Spencer’s tenure as Principal: Deadline Investigation

The Chiswick Calendar has also heard from parents at the school that they are concerned about the current principal’s leadership style. Concerns were first raised in the summer term when questions were being asked about why the head teacher of the day school, Matthew Bulmer, had not been seen in school since February.

Parents complained that he was absent and the school had offered no explanation, while he was appearing on Instagram enjoying life with his family, so clearly nothing untoward had happened to him. A new head teacher took over in September but they say they were still not offered any explanation as to why Mr Bulmer had ‘gone missing’.

READ ALSO: New head at ArtsEd day school wants better links with the community

The Chiswick Calendar has asked the school to comment on this but was told ArtsEd would be making no comment about it.

Posting on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter, Steven Kavuma, a former ArtsEd teacher commented on the most recent allegations:

“Still nothing from ArtsEd… They have not created an anonymous reporting system where past/present students and staff can come forward. They have not started a formal investigation. The board needs to prioritise the safety & well-being of students & staff.”

The day school has now had an Ofsted inspection, which it has been expecting since May. Inspectors turned up last week and the school is expecting the outcome of their report.

Meanwhile parents have banded together to raise their concerns with the principal. The majority of parents across the day school have expressed their concern and demanded answers.

In a letter sent to every member of ArtsEd’s board of trustees, more than 100 parents said the institution’s response to the accusations against principal Julie Spencer had been “inadequate and unsatisfactory.”

The failure to communicate was “disrespectful” and parents and students “deserve much better” from the school.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Chiswick School pupil speaks in House of Commons

Image above: Mohammad speaking in the House of Commons

Students speak in Parliament as part of the UK Youth Parliament

A pupil from Chiswick School has spoken in the House of Commons, as part of the UK Youth Parliament.

On Friday 17 November, the UK Youth Parliament debated universal free school meals and food security for young people as part of their campaign, ‘Food for Learning’. More than 200 Members of Youth Parliament from across the UK participated in the House of Commons debate.

The UK Youth Parliament is a youth organisation consisting of democratically elected members aged between 11 and 18. Formed in 2000, the parliament has 369 members, who are elected to represent the views of young people in their area to government and service providers.

Having been elected onto Hounslow’s Youth Parliament earlier in the academic year, Mohammad was provided with the opportunity to participate in a lively debate. In addition to having a tour and learning about how the age-old institution functions, Mohammad was invited to address the House which Chiswick School said he did with ‘gusto and aplomb’. Mohammad said:

“I want to say a massive thank you to the staff at Chiswick School. It was a brilliant day at the House of Commons and I got a chance to speak about standardisation of free school meals. This was only possible due to the tremendous support and continuous motivation I get from the school which always gives me strength and honour”.

Mr Gill, Mohammad’s Head of Year said:

“So many of our students are doing incredible things and it was a delight to see Mohammad speak in Westminster. He has a very bright future ahead of him and we are proud of what he has achieved”.

The school has not disclosed Mohammad’s surname.

Historic document could settle dispute over Kew Herbarium

Image above: Kew Herbarium – Photograph Michael Dibb

Document claims collection must endure at Kew “in perpetuity”

A recent report from the Daily Telegraph about the plant library at Kew has unveiled a significant dispute concerning the original bequest to the Royal Botanic Gardens by Sir William Hooker, that the collection must remain housed within Kew Gardens.

The current management of the Royal Botanic Gardens had announced plans to relocate the plant library to Thames Valley Science Park, which it says has facilities more suitable for studying the collection.

The revelation surfaced thanks to Isobel Moses, a direct descendant of Sir William Hooker. The renowned botanist, credited as the gardens’ inaugural director, notably constructed the Palm House and expanded public access to the site.

His donation of his personal collection to the Herbarium transformed it into a repository which now encompasses over seven million specimens from as early as the 17th century. This treasure trove includes a staggering 90% of the planet’s plant diversity, with an annual addition of 30,000 samples. Notably, it houses a Galapagos fern collected by Charles Darwin and specimens from the East India Company’s initiation of the tea trade.

READ ALSO: Palace of Palms – the story of the Palm House at Kew

Sir Joseph Hooker, son of Sir William and a close confidant of Charles Darwin, substantiated the bequest’s intent in a letter addressed to the government. In this letter, he unequivocally conveyed his father’s final wishes: that the collection must endure at Kew Gardens ‘in perpetuity’.

Legal experts cited by The Telegraph assert that these documents strongly resemble a binding contract between Sir William’s executors and the government.

Isobel Moses vehemently opposes any relocation, she said:

“The proposed move makes no sense whatsoever, and would remove a key part of Kew from the rest of its activities, at a time of increasing concern about the dire effects of global warming.”

A resounding 84% of existing staff at Kew are against the relocation, and have raised concerns about potential damage to the collection and the possible retrieval of donated species by overseas contributors. Kew employees argue that proximity to live species is imperative for comprehensive study.

The Royal Botanic Gardens spokesperson defended the proposed move, stating:

“Our plans for a modern, purpose-built, and state-of-the-art facility for our world-leading collection will not only maintain Britain’s historic position in botanical research and innovation but will also ensure the secrets of these specimens can be unlocked in the future, leading to potential discoveries for repairing our fragile planet.”

Report details plight of refugees and asylum seekers across Hounslow

Image above: Heathrow Hotel

Funding shortcomings laid bare in new report

Hounslow Council’s public health team have presented a comprehensive report highlighting the challenges posed by the increasing number of asylum seekers housed within the borough. Over the past years, the Home Office has opted to accommodate those awaiting asylum decisions in local hotels, primarily many in proximity to Heathrow Airport.

As of March 2023, there were 2,302 asylum seekers within the borough, a notable surge from 454 in 2020, albeit a slight decrease from the 2022 figure of 2,310. Approximately 70% of them  found themselves in eight designated hotels, marking the second-highest concentration of asylum seekers in hotels nationwide, trailing only behind Hillingdon, which shares proximity to  Heathrow.

Addressing misconceptions, Kelly O’Neill, Hounslow’s Director of Public Health, rebuffed the notion of luxury living within these facilities, emphasising the way in which the lives of asylum seekers awaiting government decisions are on hold, as the process often spans months or even years. Ms. O’Neill said:

“Those residing in these hotels await a determination of their future by the UK government, with over 70% likely to remain in the UK.”

The report advocates an ‘invest to save’ approach, urging enhanced healthcare provision during the application process to mitigate long-term health risks linked to applicants’ unresolved trauma and adverse experiences.

The significant population of asylum seekers—constituting 0.8% of Hounslow’s residents—places additional strain on local services provided by the council, NHS, and voluntary organisations. The situation is especially complex for the 87 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who require diverse support, including access to local schools.

The Home Office states that the increase in applications is due to the increase in small boat arrivals to the UK, which made up 44% of the asylum applications in the year ending March 2023. These have increased as a proportion because other, legal routes of claiming asylum have been closed down.

75% of asylum seekers waiting over six months for decisions

Hounslow Council, while receiving funding for asylum seeker accommodation, says the costs exceed the allocated grant. Dedicated teams coordinate support for asylum seekers and work closely with hotels, emphasising essential services for vulnerable groups.

The surge in housed asylum seekers is attributed to increased arrivals and a slowdown in application processing, with 75% waiting over six months for decisions. During this period, access to benefits and work is limited, further compounding challenges.

Concerns about the deteriorating situation post-March 2023 rose due to a Home Office policy maximising hotel capacity, leading to cramped living conditions and reduced personal space, and swift eviction once applicants are notified their asylum status has been approved. When they receive the news they are allowed to stay, they then have just six to ten days to find alternative accommodation and financial support.

The report highlights the impact of delays in processing asylum seekers’ applications. It was never intended they should stay in hotels for a prolonged period. Initially hotel accommodation was arranged as a short-term solution, but it has become long term, offering shelter, but resulting in a soulless existence within crowded, makeshift living spaces.

The lack of access to communal areas, kitchens, and a varied, nutritional diet, is notably lacking, says the report, impacting physical health.

“Overall, there was clear direction that living in hotel accommodation contributed to a perceived loss of control, agency, dignity, and identity; loss of autonomy and basic physiological, safety and psychological needs such as a sense of belonging were not being met” the report states.

READ ALSO: Life as an asylum seeker in west London

With asylum applications doubling and varied grant rates based on nationality, the report urges collaborative government action and increased resources for areas accommodating high numbers of asylum seekers. It recommends re-evaluating accommodation choices, providing communal spaces, staff training, and financial support for these communities.

The report will be tabled in the upcoming Council meeting on 28 November for further discussion and consideration of proactive measures.

Chiswick School boy debuts for AFC Wimbledon

Image above: Justin Clarke (right)

Justin Clarke makes history as youngest player to join AFC Wimbledon

Justin Clarke, a Year 11 student at Chiswick School, has made history by becoming the youngest player to join AFC Wimbledon’s ranks. He got his chance in an EFL Trophy match against League One Wycombe Wanderers at Adams Park on Saturday (18 November).

Justin, a striker, had been training impressively after moving from Chelsea’s development programme to the Dons. Despite his debut, the team faced a tough one-nil defeat.

Sharing his experience, Justin said:

“I missed school on Friday to train with the first team for the day. I’ve just had my mocks as well. School and exams are important too. The players welcomed me in, and they involved me in everything. It was a good feeling”.

Looking ahead, Justin is determined to make an impact within the first team, setting his sights on future goals.

Mr. Gorvin, Assistant Head at Chiswick School, praised Justin’s achievement and his commitment to balancing academic life with sports, saying:

“This was a great opportunity for Justin, and he did brilliantly. We are proud of his achievements and his dedication to school”.

Bedford Corner café applies for alcohol licence

Image above: The Park House on Bedford Corner

Public comments on application close on 12 December

The café at 6 Bedford Corner, The Park House, (previously the Trinity Café), is applying for permission to sell alcohol. Brackenbury Brews Limited, a Hammersmith-based hospitality management company, is behind the application. The company already manages two venues in Euston Station: The Square Tavern and Faim.

Petar Ivanisevic, the director and owner of Brackenbury Brews Limited, has 18 years of management experience, including time with the Metropolitan Pub Company. He previously ran a coffee brand called Pitch.coffee with his wife, which closed during lockdown.

Ivanisevic’s plan for The Park House includes turning an unused function room into a co-working space.

The café currently seats 38 people indoors across two floors and offers hot food for dining in or takeaway. It is in the Bedford Park Conservation Area, about 64 meters away from the nearest residential accommodation on Bath Road.

The application also outlines rules for food delivery drivers: to avoid crowding on Bedford Corner they are required to park on Flanders Road, the nearest residential road.

Proposed opening hours are 6.30 am to 11.30 pm Monday to Thursday, extending to 12.30am on Friday and Saturday, and closing at 11.00pm on Sunday. Last orders will be 30 minutes before closing time.

People can share their thoughts on the application by emailing licensing@hounslow.gov.uk before 12 December.

She Stoops to Conquer review – Orange Tree theatre, Richmond

Image above: Whole cast, She Stoops to Conquer; Orange Tree Theatre; photograph Marc Brenner

250th anniversary production of the classic comedy by Oliver Goldsmith

I was a little surprised to see She Stoops to Conquer on the bill at The Orange Tree in Richmond.  The comedy, by Oliver Goldsmith, was first performed 250 years ago and it is not so often performed now, as it can be hard to make the humour of such a different time relatable to a modern audience.

The only time I had ever seen it before was a production at my sister’s school, when it most definitely did not lift off the page. I also associate The Orange Tree with new work. The last play I saw there was set during the student riots in Hong Kong three years ago.

The Orange Tree does champion new work, but it also makes a point of rediscovering old plays and keeping them in the repertoire, so the 250th anniversary seemed like a good time to dust off Goldsmith’s classic.

It was brilliant. In the hands of top class actors and artistic director Tom Littler it was perfectly relatable; delightfully witty and entertaining.

Image above: Tanya Reynolds as Kate, Freddie Fox as Charles; photograph Marc Brenner

Deception, wit and trickery, with jazz music and 1930s glamour

The story is this: the ‘She’ of the title, Kate (Tanya Reynolds, Sex Education, A Mirror) is due to meet the man her father intends her to marry, Charles Marlow (Freddie Fox, The Great, House of the Dragon), the son of his oldest friend.

Charles is relaxed in the company of the lower order of women, but becomes a gibbering idiot when forced to spend time with women of his own class. Hearing this, Kate decides to play a trick on him and appear as a maid. Naturally they get on like a house on fire.

He offends her father, however, (David Horovitch, Miss MarpleMr Turner) by treating their home Hardcastle Hall as an inn, and Hardcastle as the landlord, ordering him to fetch him and his friend Hastings (Robert Mountford, The Habit of Art) their supper and giving him their boots to be cleaned.

Image above: Guy Hughes as Tony Lumpkin entertaining the punters at the local pub; photograph Marc Brenner

This he does because Kate’s step-brother Tony Lumpkin (Guy Hughes, The Little Matchgirl) has decided to have a bit of fun at their expense and told them the house was an inn, when they got lost and asked at the local pub for suggestions of a place to stay, having given up all hope of reaching their intended host.

Meanwhile Hastings has his own intrigue going on. Mrs Hardcastle (Greta Scacchi, Heat and Dust, War and Peace) is determined her son will marry his cousin Constance (Sabrina Bartlett, While the Sun Shines), but she is hell-bent on running off with Hastings, with the jewels which Mrs Hardcastle has been keeping safe for her until she comes of age to inherit them.

Image above: Greta Scacchi as Mrs Hardcastle and Sabrina Bartlett as Constance; photograph Marc Brenner

It could be really naff, but it isn’t, it’s tremendous fun. They are loveable, larger than life characters – Mrs Hardcastle, (Mr Hardcastle’s second wife and much younger than he), ridiculous in her vanity, pining for the delights of London; Mr Hardcastle, becoming more and more apoplectic at each effrontery visited on him by the intolerable insolence of the young pup come to pay suit to his daughter; Freddie, switching from confident, genial lad about town to monosyllabic, awkward stuffed shirt in front of Kate, his intended, who is clever, sly, funny, manipulative in a well-intended way, and in total control of the situation. Constance is pretty and lively in a charmingly energetic way, and Hastings is a bit dim and a bit of a cad.

Richard Derrington (The Tempest, The Archers) completes the cast as Diggory, the doddery old butler (a male predecessor of Julie Walters’ Mrs Overall character from Acorn Antiques) with heroic doddering. There are also a couple of rousing choruses from the Orange Tree theatre’s Community ensemble, as punters in the local pub.

Image above: Happy ending at Hardcastle hall; photograph Marc Brenner

I had never understood the title until now, never having had cause to think about it. She (Kate) stoops to conquer because she has to lower herself in order to win the young man’s affection. The whole play does rather rely on the audience buying in to the importance of a vertiginously deep ravine between the social classes.

Artistic director Tom Littler has set this production in the 1930s, to make it more modern and accessible while still retaining the importance of class division. It also gives the production the advantage of jazz music, glamorous costumes and the setting of a comfortable country house with a Jeeves and Woosterish air.

The play, which runs until 13 January 2024, is selling fast. If any of this sounds to you like it might be fun, I highly recommend you go. It is, if nothing else, the chance to see some really fine actors up close in the round.

Book tickets: She Stoops to Conquer – Orange Tree Theatre

Anatomy of a Fall (2023) – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

Anatomy of a Fall ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

A woman is suspected of her husband’s murder, and their blind son faces a moral dilemma as the main witness. On in cinemas at the moment.

This French courtroom drama/thriller revolves around a complex and intriguing storyline following the consequences of a ‘fall’. The titular ‘fall’ in question is yes an actual fall, which results is somebody’s death, but also a figurative ‘fall’ of a marriage.

As the story unfolds, the audience is slowly drawn into an intricate web of emotions, uncertainties, and power dynamics, all of which elevates the film beyond your standard murder mystery or courtroom drama.

The strength of the Anatomy of a fall lies not only in its plot, but what’s actually hiding behind it. This is really a powerful and moving exploration of a failing marriage, cleverly disguised within the framework of a murder mystery and courtroom drama.

The masterful direction by Justine Triet (who also co-wrote the film), beautifully captures the subtle nuances of human relationships and the nature of truth, something which resonates particularly loud and clear in a time where there is so much talk about “what’s real?” and what we perceive as “true”.

Triet’s deliberate and exquisite filmmaking decisions, including the pitch-perfect camera angles and long, powerful takes, create an immersive experience, allowing us to intimately connect with the characters.

Many of these directorial decisions are mostly quiet and subtle, but incredibly powerful.  I’m thinking of a beautiful moment when the camera focuses on Sandra’s mouth for the longest time as she has to address the court.

We start noticing her lips ever-so-shaking as she tries to speak. We see her internal struggle and feel the weight of her emotional turmoil as she searches for the right words amidst the courtroom tension.

Just a little example of a perfect directorial choice which elevates not just the film and but the stunning performances.

Needless to say, this is really Sandra Hüller’s film. She was great in Toni Erdmann, a few years ago, but do watch her recent The Zone of Interest too if you can. Her performance in this film is really the heart of it. It is astonishing and rightfully lauded by critics everywhere.

The whole cast is perfect (including a dog!!), but I was also struck by the remarkable portrayal by little Milo Machado-Graner, the young actor who plays her blind son (I tried to research him online and he doesn’t look like he is blind at all). His role, as well as being beautifully written, also feels incredibly authentic and honest.

The kid really behaves like one. His action, his confusions, his lies, his reactions to the proceedings add a layer of emotional depth to the film and of course to the familial dynamics within it.

Right from the start, we are seamlessly immersed in a disorienting and ambiguous story. We are offered glimpses into this family and its complicated dynamics. We seem to understand what’s going on, until we don’t, and we start questioning our own thoughts.

This overarching theme of uncertainty and the relentless scrutiny of the truth permeate the whole film and it’s bound to resonated deeply with people and possibly prompt some heartfelt introspection from anyone who’s had a long relationship with a companion.

Speaking from a sort of a vantage point of over 25 years of shared life with my wife, it speaks volumes about the fact that nobody truly knows the intricacies and complexities contained within a marriage.

It is an ensemble of countless moments, emotions, and experiences that cannot be distilled into mere headlines, challenging preconceived notions about the dynamics of a life together. Things are difficult to explain (interestingly the film is also in two languages, enhancing the difficulties in trying to express oneself.

Eventually the viewers become not just passive observers, but actually active participant in the process of unravelling the narrative and slowly turn into jurors themselves.

In the end, Anatomy of a Fall stands as a testament to the power of nuanced storytelling and immersive direction that echoes with the emotional intricacies of human relationships, the complexities of marriage and the concept of truth.

The film is not profoundly moving (I was struggling to read the subtitles towards the end), and a thought-provoking piece of cinema which certainly merits the Cannes prize it got a few months ago.

A must-watch.

Anatomy of a Fall  is out in cinemas now.

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

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

Chiswick In Film festival: Chiswick In Film festival 2023

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Train drivers announce fresh set of strike dates in December

Image above: SWR train at Chiswick Station; Photograph by Nick Raikes

Walkouts will affect trains between 2-8 December

Train drivers have announced a fresh set of strike dates in December, in a continuation of their long-running dispute over pay and conditions. The Aslef union has announced a “rolling programme” of walkouts between 2 and 8 December, with different train companies affected on each day.

Drivers will also refuse to work any overtime from 1 to 9 December. Aslef said it was time for a “proper pay rise”, but the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents operators, called the action “wholly unnecessary”.

The union has held 14 one-day strikes so far, causing huge disruption to train companies in England, as well as some services which cross borders. Aslef’s General Secretary Mick Whelan said:

“Our members have spoken and we know what they think. Every time they vote – and they have voted overwhelmingly – for strike action in pursuit of a proper pay rise it is a clear rejection of the offer that was made in April”.

South Western Railway (SWR), which services Brentford, Kew Bridge, Chiswick, Barnes Bridge and Barnes stations, said the strike action would affect services on their network, but have not yet released updated timetables or travel advice.

Image above: Southwestern train at Waterloo; Photograph Bridget Osborne

Which train company will be affected on what day?

  • Saturday 2 December services on East Midlands Railway and LNER
  • Sunday 3 December services on Avanti West Coast, Chiltern, Great Northern Thameslink, and West Midlands Trains
  • Tuesday 5 December services on C2C and Greater Anglia
  • Wednesday 6 December services on Southeastern, Southern/Gatwick Express, SWR main line, SWR depot drivers, and Island Line
  • Thursday 7 December services on CrossCountry and GWR
  • Friday 8 December services on Northern and TPT

Images above: Mick Whelan – Aslef General Secretary, Mick Lynch – RMT General Secretary

Union “determined” to win dispute

“We are determined to win this dispute,” said Mr Whelan, as he criticised Transport Secretary Mark Harper who he said had “gone missing in action during this dispute”. The union boss described the pay offer made from the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies, as “risible”.

The offer put forward in April included a series of changes to working practices and a pay deal which included a 4% wage rise backdated for 2022 and a further 4% rise for 2023. The pay offer did not account for inflation.

The RMT union, who are also locked in a row with train companies over pay and working conditions, are voting on whether to accept a deal. The vote closes on 30 November, the day before Aslef’s new industrial action begins.

Regular strikes have affected train services across London and nationwide over the past 18 months.

David Tennant says daughter was ‘bewildered’ seeing him reprise Doctor Who role

Image above: David Tennant at the annual Evening Standard Theatre Awards (2023); via Twitter

TV star and Chiswick resident chats about his Doctor Who return, his successor, and playing Macbeth at Donmar Warehouse 

TV and theatre star, and Chiswick resident, David Tennant has said his daughter was “bewildered” seeing him reprise his role as The Doctor in Doctor Who.

Thanks to a Children In Need special, David returned to his Time Lord role on Friday (13 November). Speaking at the Evening Standard theatre awards on Sunday night (19 November), he said:

“I watched it with my eight-year-old, who didn’t really know what was coming and didn’t really understand what she was watching!”

He last reprised the role in 2013, before his daughter was born.

“She was a bit bewildered that I was on the telly with big hair,” he said. “I think she was quite excited by it. It was nice. It was very good.”

Of his successor in the role, Ncuti Gatwa, Tennant said:

“He’s going to be great. I always tune in whether I’m in it or not. I think Ncuti is going to be particularly fine.”

Tennant is due to play Macbeth at the Donmar Warehouse from December, opposite Cush Jumbo as Lady Macbeth. He added that it was “thrilling” to be back working in the West End.

“The history of London theatre stretches back hundreds of years and it’s still the most important place on earth for the theatre. It’s exciting and I think there’s the potential for it to be a really great show.”

At the event, Tennant recalled his first London theatre experience to reporters:

“I came down with my mum and we saw Rowan Atkinson in The Nerd. I don’t know what the year was, but I’m sure you could look that up… [1984] Terribly exciting to see a big, one of the biggest TV stars, like, live!

“Yeah, we came from Paisley; these things were distant. I remember watching the Oliviers every year … and that all seemed terribly exotic and far away but very exciting.”

Above: Interview with David Tennant at the Evening Standard’s Theatre Awards, posted on X