Friday, 29 July 2016

The Friday Joke - 29/07/2016

A lady went into a bar in Waco and saw a cowboy with his feet propped up on a table. He had the biggest boots she'd ever seen.
The woman asked the cowboy if it's true what they say about men with big feet are well endowed.
The cowboy grinned and said, "Shore is, little lady. Why don't you come on out to the bunkhouse and let me prove it to you?"
The woman wanted to find out for herself, so she spent the night with him.
The next morning she handed him a $100 bill.
Blushing, he said, "Well, thankee, ma'am. Ah'm real flattered. Ain't nobody ever paid me fer mah services before."
"Don't be flattered. Take the money and buy yourself some boots that fit." 

Have a nice weekend

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Is the local suburban pub dead?

Last night I went for a very pleasant beer or three in The Rake, in Borough Market. If you like real ale and a real pub, this is a must visit. I often pop in and enjoy the establishments offering. Be warned though, it is a proper pub. It is not a place for a romantic dinner, as the food offering is limited to crisps and nuts. You go there to drink beer and chat. That is what the pub should be all about.

Sadly, the pubco's don't see it that way. They see huge profits in food. As a result we've seen the horrendous advent of the gastro pub. These are not really pubs at all. You don't go there to get sloshed and talk rubbish to strangers, you go for a meal and heaven forbid  that any noisy drunk disturbs you.

A real British pub has darts, a telly showing racing and football, and is full of people doing there best to get inebriated. Sadly, this concept has been lost in the suburbs. In Mill Hill only The Bridge clings to this ethos of being a beer only pub. Why is a pub like The Rake packed, but the concept not even attempted in Mill Hill? Why don't we have proper community pubs selling great ales? 

The answer is down to the fact the previous Tory government forced breweries out of the pub business. Breweries used pubs to sell their products, but the government saw this as a monopoly. They destroyed it. Now we have pubco's that are seemingly more interested in selling pubs to property developers. 

Is the pub as we know it doomed? Maybe not if we can persuade the current Conservative government to repair the damage. They should start with a fact finding mission to The Rake!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The post #Brexit rise of racism and ignorance

A young, disabled black reader of The Barnet Eye emailed me to explain his distress at two recent incidents of racist abuse. He told me that following the #Brexit vote, for the first time on his life he has felt scared and vulnerable due to his race. Below is my response to him.

When people are racist, you should try not to get angry or upset. It simply means that person Is not properly educated. They clearly do not know that Muslim scholars invented modern maths,Romans invented our alphabet, Greeks invented democracy. They have not twigged that as the Jewish people originated from the Middle East, Jesus and all the Jewish prophets were not white. 

St George, the Patron Saint of England was a refugee from Palestine. Jesus himself was an asylum seeker in Egypt, fleeing persecution by Herod.

Racists have not realised that humanity started in Africa and people are only white because of a genetic mutation. 

We are all the same apart from a tiny number of genes. 

Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King are perhaps the most respected figures of the 20th century.

So when people make racist comments, don't be upset. Don't feel anger. Feel pity for them, at their poor education. But don't let this pity deter you from reporting their behaviour to the authorities. Sadly that is the only way to break their cycle of ignorance.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Normandy atrocity - Dark days, don't stop searching for the light

I cannot pretend for a second that the awful killing of an elderly priest by fanatics in France hasn't badly affected me. Regular readers of this blog will know that I'm a Roman Catholic. What most won't know is that I'll shortly be going away with a charity that helps disabled people, for a weeks pilgrimage to the shrine of Lourdes in France, as a helper with the group. As such I feel deeply disturbed by todays events. The people who accompany us who have disabilities are all adults, most have been many times. Like me, they have been looking forward to it, since we got back last year. It is impossible to describe to anyone who hasn't been, what a joyful experience it is. Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I a not what one may refer to as a "Holy Joe", just someone trying to do something good occasionally.

But today, like never before I am struggling. You don't have to be a Roman Catholic to be revolted by people who can cut the throat of an octogenarian priest saying mass in his own church. Whether you are Atheist, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Zoriastrian, Jedi or a follower of the flying Spaghetti monster, I am sure the slaying of a defenceless old man is revolting. Whilst it is just one in a series of awful killings recently, to me at least, the callous nature of the killing is all the more awful. To cut a strangers throat in cold blood and see the horror and terror in their eyes, to me is awful. That the victim was a Priest to me is irrelevant. He was simply avulnerable old man, a soft target, who had never done the perpetrators any harm.

But however I look at it, I can't help coming back to the point that violence begets violence. Somewhere the cycle of violence has to stop. Somewhere, forgiveness has to take precidence over anger and hatred. I don't buy into the idea that one religion or one philosophy has a monopoly on good. I have my belief system because it works well for me. If you are genuinely interested, I'll buy you a beer and explain. But I am not into writing blogs to convert or proseletyse anyone. You see I believe that I there are millions (billions?) of people who are better human beings than me, that don't share my beliefs. It is not your system of belief, but your behaviour that matters.

Assuming my belief system is correct, and we all end up before the good Lord on judgement day, I will be rather disappointed if I jump the queue purely based on belief. If there is an Atheist, A Jew or a Spagettiite who has helped more people than me, lead a better life, done more good, have my place. I don't want a special favour.

The sad truth is that as far as I can see, many religions are perceived by the stupid as a form of "queue jumping" into the great rewards on promise in the afterlife. This is what the peddlers of Jihadi holy war rely on . It is no such thing. A church (or whatever your religion calls it), should simply be an organisation that helps humanity fulfill its potential. I've been mightily impressed by Pope Francis, because he seems to be the first Pope in my lifetime who is a truly spiritual man. He preaches humilty, tolerance and understanding. For the first time in my life, I've not felt a sense of foreboding when I read the words in press/social media "The Pope said...".

I happen to believe that by and large, truly spiritual leaders should be good for humanity. I have profound respect for the Dalai Lama. We have to move on as a society. What I am going to say next, may shock or upset a few people. They may feel that in light of what has been happening, I am someone who doesn't have a footing in reality. I would say nothing is futher from the truth. I humbly ask for everyone to forgive the misguided men, who commit such atrocities. Do not be angry, do not seek vengance, do not look for people to take your anger out on. If you are religious, pray for their forgiveness and pray that those who may seek inspiration in their actions, come to the realisation that the path they have chosen is a dead end, that only alienates people and causes hurt.
And if you are not in any way religious, just put your faith in the fact that such people are a tiny minority. Most have mental health issues. Do not blame the innocent co religionists or strangers who have done nothing for their actions. Don't seek to vent your anger on people who have nothing to answer for. We are all stuck on this rock, travelling through space and time together.

There are many ways we can choose to walk the path, but if we choose Peace, Brotherhood, Consciousness and Conservation as our four main goals, we can have a better world. That starts with fogiving people who do terrible things. Let the anger go. The one thing that awful people who inspire such terror want is for us to turn on our brothers and sisters. The thing that they fear most is that we won't and that we'll chose the path of love and reconciliation.

These are dark days. But however dark things are, so long as we stay strong and don't give up, the light will eventually shine on us. 

Guest blog - THE BIG “ C” & The Royal Free by John Sullivan

By John Sullivan,
The Barnet Eye blog regularly posts an update on a cancer issue which I read along with others on a regular basis, and like many people it  refers to cancer as the “ Big C “, simply because cancer  is a big issue, in fact it is a huge issue when it affects you.

They  have also posted comments related to my cancer issue and my treatment at the hands of the Royal Free Hampstead, which I will now refer to as the RFH, and I have questions to ask of you readers. Because I cannot believe for one second that I am the only RFH cancer patient that could in fact use the expression “ Big C” , not just for cancer where the RFH is concerned  but also to describe “ Cover Up “ ,  “ Cock Up “,  “ Contempt for patient safety “ Concerns “  and protocol “.

Some 12 years ago I had surgery for prostate cancer and suffered issues immediately afterwards, one of which was ignored, and the other treated for over 9 years as IBS, when in fact there was a Neuroendocrine tumour growing inside of me spreading like a spider’s web across my small and large intestine and bowel amongst other places. The end result being I have an incurable cancer that, had a little more effort and  investigation taken place at the time of my prostate cancer surgery, a further minor operation could have resolved the problem. Avoiding my having lived a nightmare of pain and discomfort for so many years since my prostate cancer surgery, and saved the NHS a great deal of money.

Sadly the " Cock Ups ", the  "Cover Ups" and  "Contempt " for patient safety “ Concerns “ and protocol did not end there, and have continued without interruption.  In the last couple of years at the Royal Free Hampstead, where I am expected shortly for further surgery, but terrified at this stage to have it done, for reasons I will explain in my following blogs. Sadly and with great regret apart from the fabulous NETs team at RFH and nursing staff in general, I have good reason to be frightened of the RFH.

In light of recent apparent cover up accusations in hospitals around the country, and the government’s determination to silence whistle blowers whilst pretending to support them.  Coupled with the fact in recent days it has been revealed nearly half of the NHS budget is being eaten up by compensation claims, because hospital administrations are refusing to accept something went wrong, and are spending billions on the Big C “ Cover Up “ and  “ Contempt “ for patients side of the story. The Barnet Eye has agreed for me to post a series of blogs over the next few weeks outlining my “ Big C “ experiences with the Royall Free Hospital Group.

In order that we can get some feedback from you readers , it does not have to be cancer related it can be any of the “ Big C “ issues , such as " Cancer " , " Cock Up ",  " Cover Up " , or " Contempt " for the  "Concerns " you as a patient have or are currently raising, along with “ Contempt “ for the protocol related to your illness.

Whilst the RFH is brilliant at Ebola and in many other ways, my experience strongly suggest  it has many failings that need to be exposed,  in order to improve patient safety and quality of life The  hope being the RFH will listen to the feedback from this survey, and not treat it with Contempt & Cover up, and Continue to ignore the bona fide Concerns of many patients, and their vitally important illness related protocols, as is currently too often the case.  Or am I the only patient that is affected by the “ Big C “ mentality of the Royal Free ?, I somehow don’t think so.
Second posting soon.
John Sullivan is a Barnet Resident. Mr Sullivan is living with cancer. Guest blogs are always welcome at The Barnet Eye

Monday, 25 July 2016

Why should women have to put up with crap like this

A friend of mine posted the following on Facebook on Sunday.

"Last night, whilst out with friends, a friend of a friend was having a conversation about lead singers. He was saying that lead singers hold the power because most people are looking at them. This guy who I'd only met a couple of hours earlier then turned to me and said "you're a drummer...what's it like being a 'female' drummer?" He then asked "how much attention do you get as a female drummer!" He then said "because nobody would give a shit about you if you didn't have a pair of tits" and finishing with "you're just going to have to accept that your looks are always going to be more important than anything else you do".
I don't know what it's like being a 'female drummer'. I've never had to buy polystyrene drum sticks because the real ones are too heavy, or had to use mini cymbals because normal ones are just too big for me to carry. I've never messed up at a gig because my mind wandered off thinking about shopping or what my next pair of shoes should be and I've never missed a rehearsal because I had to clean a home and make my breadwinning husband dinner by 6pm.
What I do know is that at every gig I am reminded that I am a girl by well intentioned people.
You're probably wondering why that bothers me. Well, I am self taught. When we first started the band, I started gigging 3 or 4 months after picking up two wooden spoons and trying to coordinate my arms to "I am the Walrus" (Ringo was so simple ❤️)
I knew I wasn't very good but I was ok with that, because why would I be good? I'd never had any help and I was fumbling my way through it. But even then, I had people come over and tell me what an "amazing" drummer I was. I was grateful but I always felt stupid, because I knew I wasn't and I really felt that the only reason people said this to me was because I was a girl.
These comments don't really bother me so much now, I've worked really hard, I've got my own style and I know what I play compliments our music. The only time I get annoyed is when me not being a man becomes the focal point of some people's attention, when the music we're playing washes over people because they're too consumed with "a female playing drums" I know this because I have experienced it.
I couldn't really answer the question last night, I was too angry. I don't even think the term "female drummer" should be used. I appreciate that it may be a compliment, but it's degrading to men and women.
But what do I know, I'm just a whiny hysterical bitch who should be grateful for what biology gave her."

Sometimes I read something and just have to say something, and say it in a way that leaves no room for misinterpretation.  This is one of those cases. It is pretty clear to me that some people are completely ignorant. In the rock and roll industry, being good looking, be it male or female is a definate commercial advantage in getting a bit of attention, but the only music that endures is good music. The band the author of this comment plays in is a great band. In my judgement, they have what it takes to make it. This is nothing to do with the sex of the drummer. It is because the band has a sound and image that works.  She could be venus incarnate, but if she wasn't a great drummer with a  unique style, it would be totally irrelevant. Her style reminds me of Tommy Ramone. Whilst the Ramones had better drummers, Tommy set the style for the Ramones sound. He was solid, tight and right for the band. Charlie Watts in the Rolling Stones is also an "economical" drummer. There are better drummers, but I believe none are better for the Stones. When a band works it is magical. The author of this tweet is in just such a set up.

That is the musical aspect. I really felt I had to set the context for what I will say next. Some people (and the man who said the comment that sparked the post is one) are dangerous, agressive bullies, who get sadistic pleasure out of undermining people and planting seeds of doubt in their minds. Long time readers of this blog will know just how much bullies revolt me. I am 100% sure the author of the comments will deal with this, but such comments are never acceptable and always hurtful. I fully accept that anyone in a band has put their head above the parapet, but there are limits. To define every single female drummer as  "tits with a pair of sticks" is to me the most revolting act imaginable.

When it comes down to it. Sexism should be treated in the same way as racism and anti semitism. It should be illegal and if you seek to destroy someone because of their race, sex or creed, you should feel the full force of the law. If the author was a bad drummer (she's not), technical criticism is fine by me. To simply demean a great drummer in such a way is destructive and undermining. Any woman in any line of work deserves the dignity of judgement by her talents and performance.

And then there is the man who said it. What sort of man is he? To me a very sexually insecure man. A man who clearly feels inadequate and unable to appreciate the fact that there is no earthly reason why females can't rock it out in just the same way as a man. The rock and roll industry is in many ways the most sexist industry on the planet. When we employed a female chief engineer at Mill Hill Music Complex, one of the most frequently asked questions by bands when they met her was "where is the engineer". Many were truly surprised by the fact we employed a girl in a technical role. One side effect was we developed a large and loyal customer base of not only women customers, who preferred a less testosterone fuelled studio, but we also developed a strong LGBT customer base as well. That was never a consideration, but it worked for us. Ina short time we developed a profitable business.

I really don't think women should take this nonsense in this day and age. I think they should stand up to such bullies and put them in their place and men who have a brain should support them. It isn't big, it isn't funny and it isn't clever.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Tweets of the Week in the London Borough of Barnet

Its fast approaching the silly season. Not much happens, save for a few people who should know better, getting rather too excited abut nothing. Well actually....

But then we live in sleepy Barnet, so what has been happening in our neighbourhood. Here it is, the tweets of the week. Don't forget to follow any of these tweeters who tickle your fancy!

1. Sad news, we've lost another much loved landmark

nothing left of The Landsdowne in Burnt Oak. Note the builders sign -

2. Can you help this young man?

can you help Colindale teen in plea for power pack?


3. A lovely picture of yet another lost part of the borough's sporting heritage. I often wonder if the current craze of building flats everywhere will only stop when every single possible thing has been demolished and built on.

Hendon's much missed Claremont Road ground, as it looked in 1972. Pic Bob Lilliman.

 4. Residents of Edgware may find this tweet of interest

Property Values rise by 2% month on month.
5. We rather like this tweet from David Arditti in Edgware

Display of noctilucent cloud this morn, up to 10 degrees high, observed from 02:15 to 03:15 UT, from Edgware, Middx.

 6. Got a problem with litterbugs and flytippers. Tell the council!

You can help us by reporting persistent litter & flytipping problem areas in Barnet:

7. An East Finchley Landmark

Gallery owner shared his favourite work - ‘The Archer’ by Eric Aumonier at East Finchley

8. Lost a Mog in Totteridge? Dan Wilson has found it

Has anyone in Totteridge lost a black cat? We're currently feeding it

9.  Nice piccie from Lucinda!

 10.  A Mill Hill Landmark was on the Telly this week. Of course we all know our little piece of London is full of  marvellously clever people.

on , on Channel 4. Just saw Fil.