Monday, 22 May 2017

Barnet Eye exclusive - Jeremy Corbyn refuses to condemn earwigs

The Barnet Eye can this morning exclusively reveal that hard left, communist, vegetarian, beardy, allotment owning Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been exposed as an earwig sympathiser. Corbyn clearly has no compassion for the millions of people injured, damaged and killed by the nocturnal activities of earwigs. Speaking exclusively to his former science teacher, Mrs Jessica Beans, we were told 'yes, it's true, in his science project, Jeremy said that earwigs are much misunderstood and maligned, and are actually a fascinating member of the insect family'. We immediately called Mr Corbyn for confirmation, his disgusting reply was 'I equally condemn all acts of terror perpetrated by insects, whether woodlice or earwigs'.

A spokesman for Theresa May stated that this proved Mr Corbyn was soft on the Earwig issue and had no compassion for victims of nocturnal attacks on poor defenceless children. Furthermore they stated that the dementia tax would free up resources to tackle the earwig threat, although they couldn't say how this would actually be funded.

Of course, we've made all this rubbish up. Unlike the nonsensical tosh being fed to the Mail and the Telegraph by The Conservative election machine, we at least have the decency to tell you it's cobblers. It may be inconvenient for the Tories, but the troubles are over, the political wing of the IRA are in government, Martin McGuinness shook hands with the Queen and we've all grown up. Corbyn was right to engage with bad people, because it ended violence. Many world leaders started out as terrorists and many of these have been welcomed by Conservative Prime Ministers. I'd love it if all bad men were locked up, but in the real world we have to talk and grandstanding and condemning people achieves nothing except getting a nice editorial in the Daily Mail. Corbyn may not be a great Labour leader, but he is a decent man and he deserves better from the press. Kick him for his policies, but this vilification is disgusting and I hope it backfires. For the record, I'm a Lib Dem and won't be voting Labour, but honesty and fairness is far more important than tribal politics. The Tory campaign stinks.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Tweets of The week in The London Borough of Barnet - North Finchley Festival Special

Today is a Tweets of the Week with a difference! Our ten top tweets are all from day one of The North Finchley Festival, which has been a cracking success!

1. The N12 Community Choir kicked off the day at The Bohemia. A hugely populare start!

2.Down the road, The Elephant Inn was having fun with Kid Wondr was the first act!

3. Julia Hines rather liked The Rocking Bones at The Bohemia! All the excitement was too much, so she then needed to chill with some lovely piano from Lola Parrin!

4.Angie A was Awesome at Cafe Buzz!

5. Alan Evans enjoyed Rolling Exile and Rangoon at The Elephant Inn!

6. John Keogh rather enjoyed The False Dots at The Bohemia!

7.We had a Blast with San Blas at the Bohemia!

8. Alan Schneiderman was enjoying the food and the music in North Finchley!

9. Mr Reasonable was enjoying Tim Leffman at Cafe Buzz!

10.And Yours Truly got around a bit as well!

Thats all folks, but see you later today for day two!

Saturday, 20 May 2017

The Saturday List #130 - Ten Songs for Ten different years

The False Dots
I thought I'd do a list with a difference. Tonight, my band, The False Dots play at The North Finchley Festival. The venue will be the Bohemia, it's free entry and we're on at 10pm. Please come down and say hi!

I've written and co-written many songs, over the years. Here are ten written in different years, which I think sum up the year in my life.

1981 - Mr Natural - I wrote this about a gig promoter, who put us on at gig for CND and then nicked all the money and went to Greece with his girlfriend. The oldest song in the set. I played it to Allen oin 1985 and he thought it was about him! He rewrote the verses and added two extra verses (abandoning my third verse, which he thought was libellous and not very nice). Like many songs I write, it sat in my note book for a long, long time.  Allen describes it as "Our Laughing Gnome".

1982 - Action Shock - our set closer, a real theatrical epic, based on the experiences of a friend of mine who was a Royal Marine in the  Falklands. It is not an anti war song, it is a song affirming how we all want to survive in adversity.

1983 - Heal Me - I started writing this as a song about hangovers, which were a big part of my life in 1983.  Allen took it in 1985 and made it into a love song (the soppy old sausage). (Note: he's just told me it's about unemployment, so it shows how much I listen when I play guitar - I'm not actually sure which bit of the lyrics he wrote and which bits are the original, so I guess now it's about being unemployed with a hangover).

1984 - Maybe Once More  - A soppy romantic pop song, mourning the breakup of a long term relationship,  Perhaps one of the better Pop songs I wrote

1985 - Winter in Your Heart - An Allen Ashley Special, a great pop song. I wrote the music, which I think is one of my finest musical compositions! It summed up my miserable mood in 1985, before I met the missus!

2010 - In a Silent Place - I started writing this song as a wry observation on people who hook up with ex's on Facebook and it all goes wrong. Allen took it and made it far darker in 2013

2012 - Saturday - I always wanted to write a song about being a football fan and the trials and tribulaitions. Allen finished it off masterfully, with a great middle rant (or is that middle 8). 

2014 - Please Myself. Allen wrote the lyrics, which are great and a rant about society today. I wrote the music, which is a cross between a Bo Diddley groove and a T Rex Pop song. I love this track, it moves

2015 - They've cleared out your desk. Allen wrote the lyrics, it is my homage to the Specials musically. A bit of Ska feel with a chorus reminicent of the Specials at their raucous best

2016 - St Pauls - My rant about how St Pauls is not what it should be. Allen finshed it off lyrically. The feel is very much 1960's Pop in the key of D7 with a bit of D7 Sus 4 in there. I love it.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Six ways to solve the housing crisis without destroying the Green Belt

Housing is an issue very close to my heart. I volunteer at The Passage, a homeless day centre in central London, and have got to know many homeless people. The reasons are many and varied for homelessness. What has particularly upset me over the years are the number of ex-services people who find themselves sleeping on the streets of London. There are a spate of rather nasty posts on Facebook suggesting that service personell be given priority over refugees in housing decisions. Whilst I understand why many people repost these and sympathise with them, they totally miss the point that the reason for much of this homelessness with service personell is nothing to do with available housing stock. It is because a very high percentage of these fine people are suffering mental disorders such as PSTD. Many find themselves unable to cope with civilian life and as a result find it more comfortable to live on the streets. The key to this is to address the root cause, which is the PSTD and other issues and ensure that anyone at risk of such issues is given the help they require. Sadly, this isn't given and they turn to drink, drugs and a chaotic lifestyle. Many of the refugees that are so vilified, have children and I for one, believe that whatever the story, children must never be allowed to sleep rough. In London, one of the biggest groups suffering homelessness is migrant workers, who suddenly find that when the work dries up, they have nowhere to live.

The problem is made worse by the hundreds of thousands of properties that are lying empty. Many are simply held as investments and others are owned by offshore investors, who have no interest at all in London and who add nothing to our economy. Finally, there are many properties where there are far more bedrooms than needed. I don't agree that a bedroom tax is the way to go. This simply forces people out of their homes. So here is my five point plan.

1. Service personel should receive proper back up services and none should ever "have no one to turn to". As a society, we have a debt to anyone who has seen active service. The MOD needs a strategy to ensure no one falls through the net. Help should be given to find employment opportunities for all servicemen. Help should be given for substance issues and every ex serviceman should get proper help with mental health issues. Most servicemen are resourceful individuals, who given proper help, have a huge contribution to society to give.

2. Refugees with children should also be prioritised. As most have no links with specific areas, they should be helped to settle in areas where there is less pressure on housing. This requires a proper strategy for addressing the issues, such as appropriate employment opportunities and extra cash for schools in these areas to address language issues etc.

3. Migrant workers, who find themselves homeless, should be given help to return to their country of origin. Although some will resent giving "free tickets home" to such people, it is far cheaper than any other solution. I would, however, prevent them from returning to the UK unless this debt is paid.

4. Many elderly people and those who's children have left home, have spare rooms. Local Councils should be encouraged to set up schemes to help these people rent spare rooms. This would bring in cash and for many would easy issues of loneliness. I would raise the tax threshold that people can earn through such lets to £15,000 per year. Councils should be forced to set up register, where people with such space can be matched with people who need a room. Students and key workers should be prioritised.

5. Many are simply sitting on "banked" properties and land. The government could free up much of this by giving the owners a "Capital Gains Tax Holiday" for a limited period. As owners would have a one off chance to make a 40% killing, many would be encouraged to sell. I would make it a stipulation that the sale must be to someone who will actually live there. This would be a huge carrot.

6. A stick is also needed to encourage those who are sitting on "banked land". I would introduce a quadruple rate of council tax on properties empty for more than nine months (with an exemption for major works, where receipts can be verified). I would also ring fence the cash raised to specifically address housing issues.

Of course, the Conservative government are unlikely to adopt any of these measures as none help the super wealthy, who enefit most from escalating property values. It is quite scandalous really, given that nearly all of them will cost the government little. Whilst there is a theoretical loss from a capital gains holiday, most of these properties will not get sold. A friend who knows about such things suggested that if the rate was cut from 40% to 10% for a year, it may actually bring money in. It would also generate economic activity as people decorated and renovated properties.

The Friday Joke - 19/05/2017

A jumbo jet is making its final approach to Tampa Airport ..

The pilot comes on the intercom, 'This is your Captain...
We're on our final descent into Tampa . I want to thank you for flying with us today and hope you enjoy your stay in the Tampa Bay area'.

He forgets to switch off the intercom. Now the whole plane can hear his conversation from the cockpit.

The co-pilot can be heard saying to the pilot, 'So, Skip, whatcha got planned while we're in Tampa ?'

'Well,' says the skipper, 'first I'm gonna check into the hotel, take a dump then I'm gonna take that new stewardess with the big boobs out for dinner.... I'm gonna wine and dine her, take her back to my room and give her a ride on the baloney pony all night long.'

Aghast and amused, everyone on the plane hears this and immediately begins looking up and down the aisle, trying to figure out who this new stewardess is that the pilot's talking about.

Meanwhile, the new stewardess is seated at the very back of the plane. She is so embarrassed that she starts running toward the cockpit to turn the intercom off. Halfway down the aisle, she trips over an old lady's bag and down she goes.

The old lady leans over and says: 'No need to hurry, dear. He's gotta land the plane and take a dump first.'

Have a geat weekend!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Tory manfesto spells the end of a secure old age and the bank of Mum and Dad

If, like me, you are in your 50's, you've got teenage kids and you are not a billionaire, then this Tory manifesto is perhaps the scariest thing you will ever see. With all of us living longer, we are all likely to need some degree of care at the end of our lives. Under the existing arrangements, care at home is largely provided by local authorities. This means that when people pass away, their estate often goes to pay for home deposits etc for their children and grandchildren. The Tory manifesto will spell the end of this. It seems that all but the last £100,000 will be grabbed to pay for this care. I've got three children, so they'd get £33,000 each, which would not even pay for the deposit on the house I live in. Over the course of myworking life, I estimate I've paid nearly £2 million in taxes one way or another. All of this counts for nothing in the eyes of the Tory party, who's sole purpose of existance is to keep the taxes of billionaires low. I've tried to be careful, invest wisely and hope to leave some dosh for my kids. Now I find out that despite all of the tax I've paid, my estate will be asset stripped by the Tories, should I need some care. We are not talking about people who have been profligate, spent every penny as they go. They will be unaffected. We are talking about people who have tried to do the right thing. The right wing press will scream "why should the rest of us pay for old codgers care". Well hang on. Tell me where the £2 million I've paid on tax already has been spent? It certainly hasn't been spent on me. I've already paid ten the price and now I have to pay again. I'm not unique, every middle class person who has been sensible and hard working is faced with the same threat.

It is also clear from their manifesto that they will abandon the "triple lock", so not only will they asset strip our estates, our pensions will fall in real terms.

However much you fear and hate Labour or the Lib Dems, the truth is that if you don't want your familys future security robbed to pay for tax cuts for mega rich, you'd damn well better hold your nose and vote for them. The Tories have seen the current political situation as a massive opportunity to do a huge grab on the wealth of the "Just about coping". If you don't believe me, read the Tory manifesto.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Wednesday Poem #19 - Back to the 1970's

A pint of beer for thirty pee,
University all for free,
Glam Rock Stars on Top of the Pops,
New Faces and Opportunity Knocks,

The Sweeney, Porridge and Morecombe and Wise,
Patrick Moore scans the night skies,
Match of The Day and World of Sport,
Johnny Craddock with a glass of Port!

Bill Shankley and Brian Clough, 
The players were fair but tough,
Francis Lee and Colin Bell,
City in heaven, United in Hell,

Reggy boozed up for News at Ten,
Interviewing Tony Benn,
Diesel Trains in BR Blue,
Cheap as chips and regular too,

Balmy summers at Mill Hill Pool,
Endless summers and looking cool,
Strawberry Mivvy and Flake 99,
Watneys Red and Bulls Blood wine,

Back to the 70's? 
That's fine by me,
The greatest decade,
In history!
 Copyright 2017 Roger Tichborne

So come on, do you agree? Was the 1970's the greatest decade. We had the pill, but we didn't have AIDS, we had Ska, Reggae, Glam and Punk. Our rock stars were Bowie, Bolan, Lydon, Strummer, Marley, The Faces and Slade. Our football heroes were mercurial players such as Stan Bowles, Rodney Marsh, Colin Bell and Tony Currie. Our politicians had personalities and charisma, Ted Heath sailed boats, conducted orchestras and appeared on the Parkinson show. Wilson smoked his pipe and spoke of how the White Heat of Technology would transform the world. British TV was about high production values and taking chances. Programs like the Naked Civil Servant broke down barriers, whilst World in Action and Panorama set the agenda. Niche programs such as The Sky at Night and Gone Fishing educated us and built cult followings. Motorways were clear and not full of speed cameras. Trains were relatively cheap and through ticketing available. They were not plagued with penalty fares and arcane ticketing rules. Pubs were pubs, smokey bastions of working class culture and political incorrectness, not pseudo restaurants and beer was cheap. Juke boxes had vinyl singles and Radio 1 had John Peel [playing The Buzzcocks, The Fall and Steel Pulse. We had our tribes, Teds, Punks, Skinheads, Rude Boys, Glam Rockers and Rastas. Comedy was funny instead of edgy. The likes of Morecombe and Wise made high quality hilarious Xmas specials, whilst Ronnie Barker and Leonard Rossiter made the seemingly drab a deep well of laughter. The Sweeney were showing us how Cops should treat robbers and Alex Hayley wrote Roots, which was perhaps the greatest ever TV series for educating a generation as to the evil of slavery.

Perhaps the best thing was, we all thought we had a chance. Punk rock made us realise we could all form bands. Free University education offered a chance to better ourselves. Property was affordable and council housing was plentiful. The NHS was not a political football and unemployment was viewed as an evil and a short term issue.

There were a few downsides. We were four minutes from nuclear incineration. The shops shut at 5pm. If your mate told you that John Peel had a great show, you'd missed it, no chance to listen again. Cars broke down incessantly and were rust buckets. School meant sitting in desks and peeing yourself if you couldn't hold on till playtime. Exotic foreign travel was difficult and expensive. But that aside it was a brilliant time

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Mayhem in Mill Hill Broadway!

I've never seen anything quite like the mayhem in Mill Hill Broadway last Saturday morning. There was a French market, myself and the Mill Hill Music Festival crew were distributing Festival programs, the Jehovahs witnesses were also out and we had large teams from The Tories, Labour and The Lib Dems. There were also a team from Mill Hill Bowls club dishing out leaflets.

One irate lady started shouting at me, as I tried to get her to take a leaflet. She said 'I'm UKIP, why aren't UKIP here?" I apologised and said 'sorry we're from the Music Festival so I can't help you with that'. She then said 'it's disgusting having a French market, we should have British one instead!'. I asked here if she'd met the UKIP candidate for Hendon. She said 'No'. I replied that he's a very nice chap, I knew him when he was a Lib Dem and it's great that UKIP had selected a Somalian. She called me an idiot and walked off, perhaps not realising I wasn't joking. A member of The Lib Dem team informed me that they'd got pictures of the Tories parked illegally on a yellow line. I tutted thoughtfully. When I mentioned this to the Labour team, they sneered 'we don't do gutter politics '. I had a chat with Mill Hills elder statesman, Tory candidate John Hart, who told me he was off to Cooksleys to buy a pound of sausages for lunch. No metric sausages for John!

I'm looking forward to leafleting for the festival on June 10th in The Broadway, all of these politicians will be back in hibernation for another five years. People won't avoid eye contact with us handing out leaflets, then turn back and take on when they realise we're not political.

When it comes down to it, I find it sad that so many people put in a shift to canvass, but when election time goes, won't lift a finger for the community.

Monday, 15 May 2017

North Finchley Festival - Final rehearsal for The False Dots

Image may contain: 1 person, on stage, playing a musical instrument and guitar
The False Dots in action live
When you've played in a band for as long as I have - 38 years - one of the joys of getting together for a rehearsal is the opportunity to chat with the guys about life, the universe and everything. These days, we tend to have no more than a couple of rehearsals before gigs and we try and have a fairly relaxed final session before the the gig. We tend to concentrate on newer material, as the older songs are pretty well set in stone. The current incarnation of the band, with Allen Ashley on vocals, Fil Ross on bass and Graham Ramsey on drums, specifically got together for a gig to mark the end of the occupation of Friern Barnet library in 2012. At the time, I had no plans to make it a permanent line up, but nearly five years later, we have an album in the bag and are working on a second one. Toniight, we discussed the Library gig, Allen thought it was quite appropriate that we started our second incarnation of the 1985  line up in a library reopened by Occupy! Allen is a poet and author, which is why I specifically wanted to do the library gig with him.

As I drove back, I thought about the next gig, for the North Finchley Fest, which is one of the biggest weekenders ever in the Borough of Barnet. It has grown in size and scale way beyond the idea of  "a few bands playing in the High Street over a weekend". We were plugged on Radio London at the weekend by both Joanne Good and Robert Elms. There are over 50 artists playing. But my mind also cast back to various festivals and gigs that we've played over the years in the locality. The first festival gig was set up by Nik Turner of Hawkwind, in 1981 on Hampstead Heath. The festival was entitled "Stand Stoned Starkers" and little known to us, it was a protest against wearing clothes. Sadly, we didn't play because it was unlicensed and the Police shut the whole thing down in a very heavy handed fashion. The next Festival was The Montrose Festival in 1982 in Montrose Park, followed by The Grahame Park festival in 1984. We were asked back and played an expanded festival in 1985.

There then followed a local festival hiatus until 2005, when we played the Mill Hill Music Festival, which became a regular biannual event for the band, until the Mill Hill Sports club closed down. We also played a festival at The Green Dragon in Barnet that I can't recall the name of. I'm not really a fan of open air gigs, so we've tended to only play where there is an indoor options such as The Sports Club, as there is the stressful issue of the weather when it is outdoors. The North Finchley Festival should be good, as The Bohemia is a great venue. I did an acoustic set with Allen there when it was in its Occupied phase. It was a good night, with plenty of decent musicians on parade.
Fil Ross mixing the new album by The False Dots

As to Saturday nights gig, we are really looking forward to it as we've got a couple of new songs which we've been working on that sounded pretty good tonight. As I mentioned above, it was the second rehearsal for this gig. Apart from some recordings, it is only the second time the band has got together this year. I see Allen to play football with on a Sunday, Fil works with me at the Studios, but Grahame has not been around much. I had hoped to play Allen and Graham the final mixes of songs that they haven't heard, but didn't get time.

Our album will be released in late September all being well. We need to film a video and are looking for a video maker to work with, who can do it justice. We are pretty pleased with the final product and are excited to be able to finally start to let people hear it.

Some of the songs have been recorded for over 2 years so it has certainly been a long time in the making!

Anyway, we really hope you can make it down to The Bohemia on Saturday night. We are playing at 10pm and it's free.

The Political Parties real manifestos and agendas

He who pays the piper calls the tune. It's an old saying and one that is pretty on the button. There has been much talk about party manifestos or lack of them. So we thought we'd give our readers a potted guide to who pays the piper and what tune they will call.

The Conservatives.

Who pays the bills?
They are largely funded by mega rich billionaires.

What is the agenda of the funders?
Lower tax bills for themselves and a favourable environment to conduct business in.

What can we expect to see if they win?
More privatisation, tax cuts which primarily favour the mega rich, a hard Brexit, more outsourcing and privatisation and cuts to services for those who rely on enefits (ie the elderly, the ill and the children of those least well off in our society).

The Labour Party

Who are the funders?
They are largely funded by the Trades Unions.

What is the agenda of the funders?
Repeal of Conservative Trades Union Laws and an improved environment for Unions to function and protect the rights and priveliges of their members.

What can we expect to see if they win?
Repeal of Trades Union legislation, Nationalisation of key industries, cuts or abolition of student loans, higher taxation, improved benefits payments for the poorest members of society.

The Lib Dems

Who are the fuinders?
The Membership of the party

What is their agenda?
This is harder to ascertain, as they are a more diverse bunch, but expect a move towards more consensual decision making, reform of drug laws and protection of the middle classes, who are largely where the membership reside. The biggest policy will be a move to slow down a hard Brexit or reverse it, depending onw ho they end up in power with. The Lib Dems do not expect to become the party of government, so despite protestations otherwise, they want to be members of a coalition.

What can we expect to see if they win?
As I said above, they do not realistically expect to be in power. So to the Lib Dems, winning is to become junior coalition partners. They would slow/stop/reverse the Brexit process and seek to curb the extreme left/right edges of their senior Labour/Conservative partners.

Why are we having an election now?
Since the end of the coalition in 2015, we've seen the Conservatives descend from a stable and solid government, to a chaotic mess, which has been forced to call a snap general election, as they realise they'd lost the mandate to govern. Following the Brexit vote, Theresa May was installed as Prime Minister and her new cabinet sought to start changing policy in a manner that was out of step with the 2015 manifesto. The biggest change was her Chancellor seeking to abandon the Tories commitments not to raise taxes. It is no coincidence that having realised his plans were impossible without a change to the manifesto. As Labour are percieved to be in chaos, Theresa May decided that it was a fairly risk free strategy to regain the Tories authority to govern.

So who should you vote for?
Well that really depends on what direction you believe the country should be heading in. If like me, you have children, ask yourself which party has laid a vision that will mean your children will live in a fair, equal and free society. Voting is a right, but it is also a privelige. Make sure you use it wisely.