Saturday, 20 October 2018

The Saturday List #193 - Ten authentic essential London experiences

As many of these lists do, the germ of this one started listening to the Robert Elms show on BBC Radio London. Robert was talking about going to the Globe Theatre to watch a performance of Shakespeare. Robert stated that this had broken one of his bylaws. He had stated that he would not go to the Globe, because it is fake and a disneyfication of London, aimed to snare gullable tourists (or words to that effect). Roberts view is that by building it in a mock Tudor style instead of glass and concrete, it is not "proper London". Last week we had Clares cousin visiting from Brisbane. She asked me for a few ideas for "authentic London experiences" and asked what I thought of a trip to the Globe. I suggested that there are better and cheaper options.

Here is my authentic London list

1. Stroll around Granary Square, shop in St Pancras station, then get the Thameslink Train from St Pancras to Blackfriars, enjoy the view of the Thames from the station then walk down the South Bank to the Tate Modern.

Whitecross St & Artillery Arms
2. Get some lunch in Whitecross St Market, enjoy it in Fortune St Park, then adjourn to the Artillery Arms for a pint of Fullers Beer (from the Chiswick Brewery). Best street food in town!

3. Do the Fullers Brewery tour, of the Chiswick Brewery.  I recommend lunch before or after in the adjoining Fullers pub. The Brewery is the last major Brewery in London.



4. Get the Northern Line to Chalk Farm, emerge from the lift and go to see a band at The Roundhouse. I always get an amazing buzz of excitement as I do this. The Roundhouse is, in my humble opionion, Londons best major venue.

5.  On a Sunday morning nip along to Bar Italia in Frith Street, have an Espresso or a Beer and a custard tart, then nip over the road to Ronnie Scotts for the Sunday Lunch jazz sessions (you have to book the Jazz well in advance). Cafe Italia sees a large gathering of Mods on scooters on Sundays, which is always fun.

6.Get the tube to White City and make your way to Loftus Road to watch QPR play football. I'm a Manchester City fan for my sins, but QPR is the last proper big unspoilt football ground in London. I love the experience of emerging from the tube and following the crowds to the ground. When you get off the tube, the fact that there is a big stadium around the corner is anything but obvious. I love the smells of burgers and the program sellers. It is not a sanitised ground like the Emirates. Proper football (usually not played very well). They should list Loftus Road and declare it a National Treasure.  (for clarity not too keen on Craven Cottage ground. It doesn't feel like a proper stadium to me).

7. Visit the 2019 Great British Beer Festival at Olympia. I love Olympia, one of the last great exhibition spaces in London. I daresay there are greedy developers who'd love to knock it down and turn it into flats. The beer festival is an amazing celebration of fine British ales.

8. Visit the Notting Hill Carnival on Childrens Day. It is a nightmare getting there, this year it was a washout, but the Carnival is genuine and everyone should visit it at least once.

9. Do A London International Ska Festival Cruise up The River Thames. If you've never cruised the Thames, then you have really missed out. The best form of cruise is a London International Ska Fest cruise. There is one tonight and there are tickets left.

10. Take a picnic up Parliament Hill, for the best view of London. There has been some debate as to whether it is possible to have decent food in a picnic. There are a few basic rules. Don't get sandwiches, as they go soggie. Get pies, sausage rolls and pasties. Drink Red wine, as this doesn't have to be cold (unless you've got a decent chiller bag, in which case G&T's).

hampstead heath, london, parliament hill view
Parliament Hill
I'll leave you with a little story that my Uncle George told me about Parliament Hill. George was born in 1916. His father (My Grandfather) was an Irishman of difficult temperament, who had difficulty in showing affection to his family. Unexpectedly, on George's 18th birthday in 1934 (the family were living in a flat in Lady Margaret Road, Kentish Town), My Grandfather told George to get his coat and he was taking him out and giving him an amazing birthday present. They walked, and walked, all the way. My Grandfather was in unusually good mood (his experiences in the trenches in WWI had badly damaged him). Eventually, they came to Parliament Hill. As they strolled up, George became ever more excited. When they reached the summit, my Grandfather stretched out his arm, pointed to London and said "Son, now you are a man, this is your present, all of this is yours". And so it is, yours to enjoy, the worlds finest playground.


Friday, 19 October 2018

The Friday Joke - Millenial names

Image result for test tube baby joke


 It's Friday, we can all start to wind down for a  lovely sunny weekend. We will start it at the Barnet Eye in the traditional way.

 Three fathers of millenials were discussing their children over  coffee spritzers, the first one announced.

"My little angel is called Angelsight, because we conceived her under the Angel of the North whilst on a walking holiday in the North of England"

The second father, not to be outdone announced "My son is called Sky because we conceived him when we joined the mile high club!"

The third father announced, slightly glumly "We called my son Paul, when he popped out we decided that the name test tube wouldn't really suit him"

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

#SaveTheMidland Matthew Offord MP joins our campaign

The Barnet Eye has never been shy of criticising our local MP's and councillors when they do not act in the interests of local people. We have also not been shy of praising them to the rafters when they do the right thing and get stuck in for the community. We've had our run ins in the past with our local MP Matthew Offord, but today he has come up trumps. Matthew has climbed on board our campaign to save the Midland Hotel in West Hendon. Matthew visited the pub last week with the newly elected local councillors and has vowed to fight to #SaveTheMidland.

Matthew has put up a post on his website detailing his support for the campaign.

Midland Hotel
Matthew Offord MP visits the Midland Hotel
Matthew met with local landlord, councillors and residents to discuss their approach to a planning application for the Midland Hotel public house in Station Road, West Hendon. The popular local pub has been open since 1889 but is now under threat after the freeholder has sought to demolish the building and construct 59 flats on the site.
Barnet Council has received over 400 objections to the application and many local people oppose the destruction of a local amenity. With the construction of the West Hendon estate and regeneration of the area, many local people feel that more places like the Midland are needed.
https://publicaccess.barnet.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?keyVal=PD8SXAJILBN00&activeTab=summary
Matthew is working with local councillors to nominate the Midland Hotel as an Asset of Community Value. To achieve this a case has to be presented to Barnet Council to demonstrate that the use of the building furthers the ‘social wellbeing and social interests’ of the community.
Matthew said: “As someone who has lived in Hendon for decades, I have sadly seen the closure of so many pubs in the local area. The Midland really is a community asset - great for a coffee or something to eat - as well as for a pint!
"I will be urging Barnet Council to follow the example of Wandsworth who has told the owners of 120 bars and pubs that they have to seek councillors’ approval before changing the building’s use or knocking it down.”
I am especially pleased to read the last sentence of Matthews press release. At last a local politician is taking the issue of pub closure and loss of community resource such as pubs seriously. I have this morning emailed the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council to support Mr Offords proposal

Dear Leader and Deputy Leader,

As you may be aware, I have been spearheading a campaign to Save the Midland Hotel. I organised an event at The Midland last Saturday to help try and promote the campaign to save the pub and collect signatures. I was delighted to meet newly elected councillor Helene Richman, who I invited up to say a few words to the audience. I was highly impressed by Helene as were the audience, who gave her a raptuous round of applause (possibly a first for an event organised by the Barnet Eye for a Conservative Councillor).. Helene spoke of the need to protect pubs and community spaces from developers and detailed how she'd enlisted the help of local MP Matthew Offord. I was also delighted to see that Mr Offord has publicly supported the pub campaign on his blog. I am especially supportive of the last sentence of his blog post "I will be urging Barnet Council to follow the example of Wandsworth who has told the owners of 120 bars and pubs that they have to seek councillors’ approval before changing the building’s use or knocking it down.”

This seems to me to be an eminently sensible proposal and in my discussions with Helene I agreed that I would do all I could to support the adoption of such a policy in Barnet. I am therefore asking you as Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council to support the proposal and bring this forward as Council policy ASAP. Should such a policy be adopted, I would seek to speak in support of its adoption at committee.This is an excellent opportunity to leave a legacy in the Borough for future generations. As Mr Offord states in his blog, the pub has been open since 1889 and is part of our heritage. Lets make sure we protect this pub and others for future generations. Whilst tastes may change, evolve and develop there will always be the need for the community to meet and socialise. Pubs are important landmarks and as the regeneration of St Pancras has shown, what may be seen as archaic in one era can be transformed into truly world beating space with energy, imagination and commitment. Lets make the Midland Hotel the turning point in Barnet, where we seek to ensure that all developments put the local residents first.

I believe that there is cross community support for such an initiative

Regards
Roger Tichborne
As a community, we are at our best when we put our differences aside and work together. The petition now has over 550 objections, which is a truly magnificent total.
.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

The Wednesday Poem #50 - Ten Years in Daily Express Headlines

By a strange coincidence, we make the half century of Wednesday Poems in the week of Our tenth Birthday. I thought I'd write a little poem based on Daily Express headlines from our last ten Birthdays. It is interesting to note that since 2008, the headlines have become ever more wordy and clunky and harder to rhyme. I wonder how many of these stories you remember. Some like the death of Stephen Gatley and the Chile mine rescue seem far more recent. Styistically this isn't my best effort, it's probably my worst, but it is fun. I love the Harlequin STD story. Originally this was going to be one Daily Express headline and the equivalent Barnet Eye headline, but it really didn't work half as well

Where do we go from here?
2008 was an awful year
Footsie loses £92bn in fall to 5-year low 
Austerity has hit as we start our little show!

Researchers claim Jim Morrison's ghost picture is NOT a fake
 2009's birthday had a rather different take
Boyzone star Stephen Gately dies in Mallorca aged 33
Not a single mention of the broke economy!

Chile mine rescue tests 'a success'
2010 rescue thta held us all in stress
Putin's party tightens its grip
Russia's fearsome tyrant starts his power trip

Winter fuel crisis on way
2011 scare stories as a cold spell's on the way
20 million facing old age with no pension
they'll have to work for ever in a long career extension

Energy bills to soar by £100-a-year
2012 saw prices getting very very dear
Cost of your weekly shop to rocket
Watch that little pound coin devaule in your pocket

Want a better social life? There's an app for that
2013 was the when we all fell for that
Petrol supplies in danger as refinery workers strike
Workers have enough as they see prices hike

'It all went wrong' says Clarkson as BBC boss vows Falklands War plate 'was not a stunt'
2014  saw Clarkson acting like a C...
Grace Kelly beats Kate Middleton to be named the most stylish bride of all time
Given the choice I think I prefer mine!

Pension CRISIS: Millions of workers not saving enough
2015 headlines show that millions are stuffed
John Bercow: Mr Speaker puts his house in order as Sally moves back in
Did anyone give a f... about his kith and kin?

‘Postcode lottery’ for parents on children’s first day at school
2016 Parents feel the strain of arcane allocation rules
Police warning after six people fall ill from 'bad batch' of drugs
Keep off that dodgy weed dont take to many lugs!

Shetland man jailed for 30 years of abusing wife
2017 saw troubles in Shetland married life
George Osborne moped robber nailed by his bitten fingers
But the smell of Osbornes failures in the nation still lingers


UK Ladybird invasion: Can you REALLY catch sex disease from Harlequin LADYBIRDS?
2018 immigrant scare leaves me lost for words
Meghan Markle’s dad makes BOMBSHELL confession: ‘I sniffed cocaine’
Seems to me the man is just a giant pain!














Tuesday, 16 October 2018

#SaveTheMidland - One day left to save West Hendon Landmark

Image result for Save The Midland Hotel in Hendon
The Midland Hotel
The Barnet Eye has been leading the campaign to Save The Midland Hotel in Hendon ever since we first learned of the plans to demolish the pub back in August. The pub has a long association with my family. My Grandfather, a first world war veteran used to work in the pub collecting glasses. When he died in 1948, the entire clientelle of the pub turned up for his funeral to pay their respects. My Grandmother was startled. She exclaimed "I never knew he had so many friends". Of course, the pub and West Hendon were very different in 1948. There was no M1 motorway for a start. On the site of the M1, was a bustling railway goods yard. Coal and builders merchants thrived. Working men such as train drivers, other rail workers, coalmen, builders would finish their day and retire to the Midland for a couple of pints of Ale before going home. The pub had rooms that were let cheaply to the transient workers rebuilding London after the blitz. Much of West Hendon was factories, building all manner of precision engineering goods and on the other side of the Railway lines, Hendon Aerodrome was a busy base used by the RAF. Each pub would have its own social groupings who felt comfortable in the various pubs. The Midland was popular with working men. The Chequers was popular with the Police, based at Hendon training college (especially the cadets), The Greyhound was for the more upmaket  residents.

RAF Hendon aerial photograph WWII IWM HU 93052.jpg
Hendon Aerodrome 1941
West Hendon has changed. First the railway sidings went and the Motorway arrived. Then the Aerodrome shut and Grahame Park Estate arrived, the factories went and the police college went. The Chequers shut and the Midland became a very different pub. Over the last five years, it has, as all good businesses do, reinvented itself. The pub has had regular live music and has evolved into a real hub of the community. There are still cheap rooms for people passing through and many people still jump off the train at Hendon and have a crafty half, but most are city workers rather than coalmen and train drivers.

But as always seems to be the case in London, there are people who care nothing for our culture, heritage or community. Every pub is and "investment opportunity". Why build a community when you can make millions destroying it and replacing it with soulless luxury flats for people who don't want to mix with the locals. The Midland has fallen foul of just such a proposal. A developer has bought the pub and surrounding space and wants to knock it down and turn it into luxury flats.

As we mentioned, The Barnet Eye has a long and enduring relationship with the pub. Whilst my Grandfather worked and drank in the pub, I've used it for many years to stage benefit concerts and the Barnet Eye annual awards party. The guvnor at the pub, John, has always been supportive and welcoming. Now it is the turn of the blog to repay the favour. On Saturday night, we held our tenth birthday party at the pub and made a big push to collect objections to the planning application. We managed to get over 50 new objections from people attending the gig. There are now oer 520. When I first blogged about the plans, there were three.

There are only two days left. It would be great to get 600 objections. Please click here and make sure you click the Object tab. Our heritage is worth preserving. Help us win this battle! Here's a little clip of my band performing at the pub in March.

The song, Espresso Soho is about the corporatisation of Soho. Sadly when I wrote it last year, I didn't envisage that the last venue for Live Music in West Hendon would be under threat. 

What would you say about this "desperate plea for help"? It certainly made me think

I write a blog. People contact me with all sorts of weird and wonderful stories. Some I publish and some I don't. Some I dont. A few months ago, I received an email entitled "Desperate plea for help". Such emails are ones that I always prioritise. Generally such emails are the last resort. Please excuse some of the content and content as it is not pretty, but I couldn't really convey the message properly without it. I have edited it to some degree and  changed a few words.

"Please help me. I am being persecuted by the police and my neighbours. I live in a road which has council houses at one end and rich people at the other. I live in the council flats. One of my rich neighbours is always flaunting his wealth. He bombs around in flash cars at high speed up and down the road. He has no regards for animals or children. He does nothing to deserve such a car. I love cars and I've always wanted a flash car, but I don't want to drive like a maniac. About four years ago he left the keys in one of his cars. I couldn't help myself. I thought I'd take it for a spin. I drove up to the local woods. I noticed that there was a porn mag in the glove compartment. Normally I don't look at such stuff, but I had a look. I got all excited and ended  up relieving myself all over the car. I then saw some people walking over and ran off an left the car in the woods. The bloke got it back a couple of weeks later. I thought nothing more of it, until three months ago. I got arrested for something else and the police took DNA. I'd forgotten about the car. They have charged me with theft and now all my neighbours know and are calling me a pervert. Its not my fault, he was the one always flaunting his wealth. He deserved it. He likes porn but I'm the one being called a thief and a perv. I am going to court and I've been told that him being flash and having porn in the car is no defence.  It's so unfair. Maybe you could help me. Why should I be treated like this when people do far worse and get away with it? After all he was really asking for it driving up and down and acting all flash like that"

So if you received that, what would you do? I simply ignored it.

A week later I got a follow up. When I opened it up, I got a shock. The email was not what I was expecting. It said

Dear Barnet Eye,

"Last week, I sent you an email entitled desperate plea for help. I note that you did not respond. I am currently conducting some research into attitudes towards crimes with a sexual element. Please fill out the attached question as this will assist my research. I am researching why we, as a society, accept that women wearing attractive attire is in some way a mitigating factor for sexual assault, whilst the flaunting of wealth is not. In the scenario outlined in my previous communication, there was no long term damage that a wet wipe couldn't resolve. My research is based on ascertaining whether your reaction to the perpetrator would be more or less positive than if he was a rapist, trapped after four years by DNA evidence, who claimed that the woman was asking for it by her clothes and demeanour."

The questions included such questions as
"Who do you think is more likely suffer long term psychological damage as a victim of crime, a rape victim or the victim of a car theft"

"What do you consider to be more anti social behaviour, wearing attractive clothing or driving unsafely in residential streets"

"Would you consider the ostentatious flaunting of wealth to be more or less provocative than wearing of sexual provocative clothing"

"Do you think that men are less sympathetic to men who are convicted of crimes against other men than to men who are convicted against crimes against women"

"Would you think it appropriate for the Police to advise the victim of car theft to drive a less attractive car"

There was also an opportunity to leave comments.

I filled out the questionairre and asked if I could be kept informed of what the results are.

I recently got an update. I was quite surprised. I got some more information. The email I received was sent to ten male and ten female bloggers around the country who blog on social issues. Not a single response was received. On receipt of the follow up, three women and two male bloggers responded. All stated that the court system should not treat women as responsible for assault and there responses indicated that attempting to blame women was totally unfair. Two of the women rather interestingly felt that the case of the man with the flash car, driving fast was to some degree provocative, wheras neither of the men did ( that's me as one of them).

Another email was sent to a different group of ten male and ten female bloggers was sent. This was written from the point of view of a perpetrator caught for a rape by DNA, telling a similar story to the above story but from the perspective of a male rapist who had been caught by DNA, claiming that it was the female in questions fault. Unsurprisingly none of the female bloggers replied. What was interesting was that three of the male bloggers did respond. None of them offered to help, but all suggested that a lawyer should be engaged to ensure that the circumstances were fully understood and also suggestions as to seeking police advice on neighbours or to move away.

On receipt of a follow up email, four of the female bloggers responded, a couple were a bit miffed to be contacted in such a way and didn't respond further. The other two completed the questionairre. There responses were quite interesting in as much one felt that it was ridiculous to ask such questions and the other had a rant about how badly women are treated as victims of rape. One man simply filled in the questionairre and left a comment wishing the correspondent good luck with the survey. That was that

As I was fascinated by the study, I corresponded  at length about it. It seems bloggers were selected as it was felt they were most likely to respond.  As it was a very small survey, it can't be expected to produce reliable results, but it does appear that men and women have a different response generally. It is also pretty clear that some women do not like being used as samples in this way, wheras men seem less bothered. I was intrigued that I was the only blogger out of 20 who found it fascinating and continued the correspondence. To maintain  the "in confidence" nature of this study, I've no idea of the identity of any and the author has asked me not to divulge their details. They have approved this blog though. None of the other bloggers has chosen to cover the story. It appears that both stories are based on cases reported in local papers.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Barnet Eye 10th Anniversary - What would Barnet have been like without the bloggers



Remember Andrew Travers CEO?
After ten years of writing the Barnet Eye, and putting togther a series of blogs about it, over a beer on Saturday night at our Birthday party with John Burgess, the local Unison Branch secretary, we had a brief discussion about the last ten years. John said "I hate to think what Barnet would have been like without the bloggers". Strictly speaking, last week wasn't the start of my blogging career. I started writing the blogs for the Barnet Times. This soon ran into problems as I was a tad too controversial. The local council administration objected to a blog I wrote and foced the editor to remove it. This prompted the former chair of The Chipping Barnet Conservative Association, David Miller to start his own blog. David was the son of Baroness Hendon, a Tory peer. Despite the perception that my blog is left wing, many of my staunchest supporters have been sensible local Conservatives. David explained in his first blog.
I was inspired to do this following the removal of a blog from the Barnet Times website written by local resident Roger Tichborne. Rog T (as he is known on-line) had written an article under the heading “Barnet’s very own Stalinist Mr Bean” in which he criticised the council and its leader, Cllr Mike Freer. Apparently, the Times does not want its bloggers criticising each other in such forthright terms (Mike Freer has his own blog on the same web site). 
I can understand that the paper doesn’t want blogs full of personal derogatory attacks, but legitimate criticism and debate is the lifeblood of a democracy. The decision to remove the blog does seem strange given that Rog had previously posted an article under the heading “Three Cheers for Brownite Freer” which was allowed and Mike Freer readily joined in.  Read it by clicking here:    Rog and I are at opposite ends of the mainstream political spectrum but I am reminded of the quotation often attributed to Voltaire: ‘I detest what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’ Whilst I am not quite willing to die for Rog T, I am willing to spend £7.50 registering a domain name so that you can now read the article which the Barnet Times refused to publish!

David Millers blog was excellent. I have always felt David was a far better political blogger than myself (maybe he's not so hot on music and football blogs). His dispute with the local Conservative party was that he felt they were anything but Conservative. David's form of Conservatism is one of pragmatism. His view was that Socialism had some good ideas, but it required Conservative pragmatism to make the policies workable. When he saw the local Conservatives embariking on ideologically driven projects, which couldn't possibly be justified by common sense or realistic business cases, he felt he had to speak up. The last proper political blog on what happened in Barnet was entitled Sod The Dead and was a diatribe against Capita and their management of Hendon Cemetary. David wound down his blogging activities after the election of Richard Cornelius as Leader of the Barnet Conservative group. I don't think this was because he was particularly a fan of Cornelius, but I suspect that he recognised that at least Richard didn't share the Stalinist tendencies of certain predecessors, who sought to stifle debate by all means. For all his sins, Richard Cornelius has never shied away from public debate or discussion. He even attended a Q&A session organised by The Barnet Alliance for Public Services.

I don't doubt for a second that the reason that the Barnet Tories changed tack from the Freerite, all controlling way of doing things to Laisse Faire style of Richard Cornelius was due to the fact they were terrified of David Miller and his partner in crime Daniel Hope RIP. Whilst the problems are legion in Barnet Council at the moment, they would have been far worse had the Tories persisted with the previous policy of hiding everything from the public. Miller and Hope made the Barnet Tories painfully aware of what happens when you let a minority faction run the show for their own ends. Whilst it is the last thing I would wished to have achieved by starting the Barnet Eye, the Tories adapted and the net result was that they defied all expectations in the Council elections in May to win a stonking great majority. They did this by selecting engaging and appealing candidates for their marginal ward targets. On Saturday night, new West Hendon Tory Councillor Helene Richman attended the Barnet Eye tenth birthday party.  I'd never met Helene before, but she introduced herself, explained how hard she was working to Save The Midland, a campaign close to our heart here (and address the wider issue of pub closures). She also asked to address the crowd. As the Barnet Eye takes our role seriously and believes in debate and engagement, we welcomed the opportunity to hear what she had to say. She made a superb speech and got a warm round of applause. It was just a shame no one from Barnet Labour could be bothered to show up. Whislt the Tories seem to have learned, are taking engaement seriously, it seems that the Labour group are contracting into an ever tighter and more defensive cabal, dreaming of how "next time we will make this strategy work". I will always be left of centre, but I recognise that if you want to get stuff done, you need right of centre allies and you need to engage in the common ground. There are dozens of micro issues, that make a huge difference to the lives of residents. We need to work together across party lines to sort these things out. That is what local councillors need to do.  It may surpise you to hear me say nice things about a Tory Councillor, but it would be plain dishonest to do anything else. If Barnet Labour want the bloggers to praise them, get off your arses and get involved in grassroots community campaigns like the Save The Midland Campaign.  I was quite shocked that no one from the Barnet Labour team came down. As they lost the seats by a tiny margin, surely they should recognise that it represented an opportunity to start the fight back. So in our review of what Barnet would be like without the blogs, we can conclude that without David Miller, it is likely that the Tories would made an even worse hash of the council.David forced them to confront the fact that they had ceased to be "Conservatives" in the true sense of the word. By electing Richard Cornelius, they became Conservatives again. It may not be a victory for everyone else, but it was a victory for David and it partially explains why he stopped blogging.

The next blogger we have to look at is Vicki Morris. Vicki flew the flag in Barnet for the hard left when it wasn't very fashionable. The Blairites in Barnet would speak patronisingly of her when I spoke to them. Vicki probably hated the Blairites even more than the Tories. Vicki left two main legacies to Barnet. She was one of the founders of the Barnet Alliance for Public Services. Without Vicki, this would not have happened. Vicki's blog started back in 2008, rather dryly with this post
The aim of this blog is to supplement material on the Barnet trades council (Barnet TUC) website http://www.barnettuc.org.uk/, which I administer in the capacity of publicity officer of Barnet trades council.

Here I might, from time to time, give more detailed reports about what the trades council is doing; however, to be clear, this is a personal blog and does not represent the views of Barnet trades council.
The Barnet Alliance for Public Services has made ahuge difference in Barnet. It has been a forum for organising activities for all manner of progressive causes. The activists have done the hard work, but the blogs have provided the petrol for the engine. As there is no effective local press in Barnet, the blogs have been the newspaper for BAPS. We've publicised events, we've organised activities. Every victory for progressive causes has seen BAPS at its heart. Vicki used her blog as the semi official newspaper for BAPS. I was always a huge fan of Vicki (I am not entirley convinced that it was always 100% reciprocated) because she was fearless and generally spot on with her analysis. Perhaps her other great achievement in Barnet was the fact she invented The Friday Joke, a tradition I embraced and maintain to this day. I am sure I know which of the two great achievements Vicki is more proud of. I doubt Vicki would really want to take any credit for her work with BAPS, but she deserves it. Vicki moved to Nottingham and decided to leave Barnet behid her. I miss her.

The next blogger to join the scene was Mr Reasonable. Given what has followed, his first blog seems almost bizarre, a single paragraph about lack of sports provision
I don't believe Barnet Council takes sport seriously and we have very poor facilities. The Council have been promising to undertake a sports facility strategy for more than year but it still hasn't materialised. Without that strategy it gives them a reason not to invest in new facilities. There seems to be an awful lot of talking about sport but not much doing. There is an organisation called CSPAN (Community Sport and Physical Activity Network) which meets regularly. Their last meeting was in September at which 27 people attended. The problem is they don't seem to have got a lot done. Come on Barnet Council, take sport seriously and provide some decent facilities for New Barnet Residents, especially for our teenagers
Of course John was spot on, it's just that given the detail and the work that has gone into most of his blogs,  a Rog T style rant did not really set the scene for what was to follow. Of all the bloggers, I think John's work will ultimately be the most important. He has absolutely destroyed every argument for persevering with Capita and the One Barnet project. Even Capita admitted at their AGM it wasn't working. In June John published just one of hundreds of blogs destroying the arguments for what the Barnet Conservatives have been doing.  At a recent council meeting, I spoke to John about what the bloggers have achieved. He stated that the one big achievement is that we've documented everything, so there can be no argument that people could say that "This is news to us". A good example is the Gainshare agreement in the Capita Contract. This gives Capita 30% of any savings they make for Barnet Council. John first exposed this in 2014.  As we recounted in our birthday blog last week, this has not stopped members of Barnet Labour pretending that this information wasn't in the public domain. This extract from my blog explains

The sad thing is that in the council chamber, they are also inept. Yesterday Councillor Mittra issued the following tweet


I checked my blog. Our first mention of Gainshare was in 2014. Mr Reasonables had identified the issue and I'd sought to draw attention to it in The Tweets of The Week. This tweet from John Dix was top of the list and ever since, Gainshare has been the no 1 issue for bloggers as a demonstration of just how inequitable the Capita One Barnet Contract was.


It is beyond me how Councillor Mittra can claim that he, the Barnet Labour Party or the council as a whole can claim that they've only just found out about this. I suggest they do their homework and start with this blog that Mr Reasonable refers to.  To quote John from 2014


"What intrigued me were a couple of comparatively small invoices,one on 27 November and one on 9th december for a total of £417,007. What this payment relates to is a clause in the contract called "Gainshare" where Capita get a cut of any savings made. Although the contract is redacted it is apparent from the numbers on the invoices that Capita receive 40% of any savings made.

I felt deeply uncomfortable about these savings and have been trying to understand how such savings could be made so quickly. Following a great deal of correspondence with the council and having several subtly different version of how the savings are justified I have been  told that these savings are the estimate of savings to be made over the next year, that Capita invoice Barnet upfront and then at the end of the year if the savings are not as great as Capita forecast then Capita have to return some of the money.  Frankly I was staggered that the council should be sharing out quite so much of the savings of our money and paying out forecast savings as much as a year before they are realised."
Since the inception of this blog in 2008, the Barnet Bloggers have been giving Barnet Labour all of the ammunition they need to take down this awful council. Mr Mittra issued a rather irritated tweet in response to me calling him out.
Councillor Mittra has responded by blocking the Barnet Eye from following him on Twitter. I'll let readers form their own opinion. What I can say without doubt is that without John's forensic analysis, we'd have had more outsourcing and be in an even worse state.

If you thought Mr Reasonables first blog was a tad out of character, Mrs Angry's first attempt at blogging will doubtless cause any officionado's who missed it a chuckle. Mrs Angry is not known for her brevity. Well check this out!

http://wwwbrokenbarnet.blogspot.com/2010/03/watch-this-space-full-blog-coming-soon.html

Mrs Angry is like a dog with a bone, when she gets her teeth into something. Her work on the Freedom Pass Scandal, Metpro Security scandal and most recently Capita losing the Borough collection is legedary. She exposes the lie that only nerdy blokes in their bedrooms obsessively write blogs. Strangely, Mrs Angry and myself attended the same Primary School. I am sure that our blogging skills are a direct result of the work of our Primary School teacher Miss O'Donovan. Mrs Angry paints a loving picture of this sweet, kind, saintly old lady in this blog, explaining how she taught us compassion and how to be reasonable. Reading this sentence brought those happy times back
Every opportunity for punishment was taken with evident glee, in fact: a child who needed to leave the classroom to visit the loo was invariably refused permission, for failing to use the facilities during breaks. The predictable and frequent result would be that shamed children would leave pools of urine on the floor, unable to wait any longer. They would then be punished for that, as well, then - and made to clear it up
Luckily I didn't have prostate cancer back then, so I never needed to dash to the loo. In fact as a dyslexic, it was nice to see the bright kids having to suffer along with us dumbo's. I always thought that Miss O'Donovans redeeming feature was that she was an equal opportunity sadist. My eldest twin brothers were caned on their first day at School by Miss O'Donovan. By the time I arrived, they'd take her off what we now call "reception class", so you had her for the last year of Infants. It is strange that I have forgotten the names of many of the nice teachers, but Miss O'Donovan is still there, like a monkey on my shoulder. Every time I feel the urge to be cruel, I think of her. I don't want that to be me. The one gift she gave us was that we don't give up. I suspect that the Roman Catholic Eduction system of the 1960's was all about preparing us for Anti Catholic Purges and Martyrdom. In our own way, blogging is  a feature of our resistance to a Satanic state, if you know what I mean.

Unlike Mr Reasonable and Mrs Angry, the final piece of our blogging jigsaw is Mr Mustard. Unlike Mrs Angry and Mr Reasonable, he started his first blog as he meant to carry on. Apart from the first two paragraphs,


I have had enough of Barnet Council and their profligacy.

I didn't use to be interested in local affairs. I just paid my Council Tax and got on with my life. That has all changed thanks to Barnet Council deciding to put the CPZ charges up by unreasonable amounts ( £40 for my car up to £100 p.a. and what are meant to be concessionary vouchers for visitors from £1 to £4 per visit; and what about next year - another 150% to 300% increase ? ). Now only about 5% of the residents of Barnet are in a CPZ and they are going to be milked for an extra £2.6 million. The other 95% won't pay any extra to park outside their homes or have visitors round. It hardly seems equitable to me.
 his blog could almost have been written yesterday for style and content. Mr Mustard has a personal mission to help people having problems with Barnet Council and their parking policies. He is more interested in finances than policies. He has succesfully fought hundreds of parking tickets and unfair practices.

So that is a brief summary of the Barnet Blogosphere. How has this made a difference in the Borough of Barnet and what would it have been like without the bloggers. In my summary, I gave a rather different summary of David Miller to the rest of the bloggers. I worked quite closely with David for a couple of years on matters of mutual interest and shared many useful pieces of information. He never really wanted to be considered as part of the Barnet Blogosphere team, in the way the rest of us did. Whilst he was hugely important, his role was very different, so he needs to be considered outside of what has become the "Fantastic Four". As Vicki dusted off her boots and put Barnet behind her in 2013, before One Barnet was signed with Capita, I wanted to acknowledge her role, but much water has passed under the bridge. She was a key player in exposing Metpro, which was the biggest and most significant victory for the bloggers. Vicki participated in many joint blogs and was a team player.

But as it is five years since her last Barnet blog, things have moved on. The fantastic four are still blogging. We are still digging up stories that the mainstream press are not interested in (until we've done the hard work). We all still attend Council meetings, we all still get tip offs and leaks. We all still get strangers thanking us. As we had the Barnet Eye 10th Birthday party on Saturday, quite a few people I'd never met before turned up to thank me for my efforts. Many reminded me of battles I'd long forgotten. The real legacy of the Barnet blogs and the biggest difference is that anyone who wants do something in Barnet that is against the interests of the people who live here know they have an almighty fight on their hands. This was brought home a few weeks ago when I met an ex colleague who I worked with at BT. He told me that BT, who were originally the front runners for One Barnet, are pleased that they dodged the bullet and Capita have taken the hit from the One Barnet deal. Capita expected the furore over One Barnet to have gone long ago. The fact that people are still picketing their AGM in #KickOutCapita T-Shirts has shocked them. They know that as details of the contract such as Gainshare have been exposed and the full costs revealed it will be far harder to fleece the Barnet Taxpayer. Without the bloggers, none of this would come out and we'd be in a far worse mess. We'd still possibly have had Metpro overcharging and using unlicensed security guards to guard vulnerable young women in Council hostels. If nothing else, preventing vulnerable people from being placed at such risk justifies our efforts. We have long worked independently, but as a team when required. We have our specialisms and we have our pooled talents and we use as is appropriate. The wiser members of the Council welcome our efforts and work with us (often in an under the radar manner), the more stupid ones try and obstruct us at every turn.

When Barnet Council screwed up the arrangements for voting in 2015, Andrew Travers, the CEO and chief returning officer was summarily booted out. I simply don't believe that would have happened without the Barnet bloggers. We have made Barnet Council wake up to the fact that they need to be seen to act when the council fails, or they will get a ruthless media kicking. The 2015 election cock up was not unique. There was Mayhem in 2010, that most likely resulted in Andrew Dismore losing, in Hendon by 106 votes. That was the difference that bloggers have made. We've not fixed all of the problems or won all the battles. But we have made sure that the Council know there will be a battle and they may lose. That has changed the way they think. There is less outsourcing, more accountability and more common sense. The One Barnet contract was published (sadly with redaction) as Richard Cornelius realised that it was easier than fighting to keep it secret. I simply don't believe that would ever has seen the light of day without bloggers. It is fairly clear that the fight to save Friern Barnet library changed the way Barnet Council viewed the library service. Sadly they still seem keen in running it into the ground, but at least they don't want to flog off all of the buildings. I simply hope that one day, a more culturally caring authority may revive it to it's full glory. We are here for the long haul (God willing). As I always tell people, when you fight, you don't always win, but when you don't fight you always lose. That is why I keep writing the blogs and that is why I believe we've made such a huge contribution. Our victories have been sweet, our losses painful, but we are still here.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

The Tweets of The Week in The London Borough of Barnet - 14/10/2018

It's Sunday, it's piddling with rain. What could be better than to sit in your living room, pour a nice cup of tea and see what's been happening in our little corner of paradise through the eyes of our local Tweeters! Don't forget to follow any who tickle your fancy!

1. There was a little party for the tenth birthday of Barnets best loved blog. Some people showed up and we had a blast. The Midland Hotel is at risk of redevelopment by developer and we were collecting objections. Another 44 were collected at the party. There was live music from the False Dots and WondrWoman. In short we had a blast


2. Whilst I fully support the work of the Burnt Oak Police in enforcing controls on street drinking, I can't help but feel a sense that this is a criminal waste of perfectly good beer!


3. I hope Barnet Council aren't suggesting we house homeless people in houses that are collapsing and have no roof!


4. Here's a date for your diary, a great chance to stock up on your marrows and pickles


5. As mentioned elsewhere, a burst water main on Grahame Park Way is causing disruption to roads and water supplies


6. Stuck for something to do tonight


7.Scumbaggery afoot. Please keep an eye out


8. You know where to get tasty fresh baguettes


9. Another date for the diary


10. And finally, Halloween will soon be upon us!


That's all folks!

Water supply disruption in Mill Hill, Burnt Oak and Colindale

Please be advised that there are currently water supply problems in Mill Hill, Grahame Park, Colindale and Burnt Oak. The cause is a burst water main in Grahame Park way. You can find out more by clicking on this link

https://www.affinitywater.co.uk/where-we-are-working.aspx?wID=4807

Update 15:10
Our repair team remain on site and the damaged water main has now been partially exposed.
Due to complications with the repair and the need for additional fittings, this is taking longer than first anticipated. We will provide an update and estimate on when this work should be completed, however anticipate that this repair work will take a further 5-6 hours.
All customers should continue to have a water supply during this time, however this may be at a lower pressure than normal.
We apologise again for the inconvenience caused by this incident and thank you for your patience.
We will update this message again after 19:10

Saturday, 13 October 2018

The Saturday List #192 - The Top Ten Tinned Foods

I thought we'd have a bit of fun today. These days, tinned food is rather unfashionable. We love our smashed avocado and drizzled mung beans. We don't serve beans on toast or Frat Bentos Steak and Kidney pie at dinner parties. Times change, but for many years I lived on tins of food.

 I think I can trace the day when I stopped living on tinned food. It was the day that Budgens in Mill Hill closed and was replaced by M&S. Convenience food switched overnight from opening a tin of beans to a tasty, pre prepared Prawn Buccanti. That's progress for you.

Here are my top ten faves

1. Heinz Baked Beans
Image result for Heinz Baked beans
 

 These are the icon of tinned food. I have a special affection for them as I starred in an advert for the product, I think it was in 1968. My famous line "We can't go on Holiday without the Beans mum" won the director an award at The Cannes Festival for best directed advert. My mum opened up a bank account and the revenues bought my first guitar and amp a decade later.







 2. Fray Bentos Steak and Kidney Pie
Image result for Fray bentos steak and kidney pie
 



For me, this is the best food in the world. When I was a kid the very best treat was for my mum to cook me one and let me eat it in the shed!







3. John West Sardines.
Image result for John West Sardines
 



I think I'd have starved to death without these. The number of nights I've come inf rom the pub, put a couple of slices in the toaster and spread a tin of these on them. My wife has often reminded me of the time she put some cat food in a dish and I came in and ate it as I thought she'd made some up for me.



4. Green Giant Sweetcorn

Green Giant Original Sweetcorn 198G
 


In the 1960's this was heavily advertised on TV. I can remember getting teased at school for "being posh" as I said I rather liked it. Strangely the makers no longer seem so keen to plug it on prime time TV. I can't remember the last time we actually bought a tin. My good lady wife used to buy the odd tin and mix  it in with tinned Tuna.




5. Ye Olde Oak Ham

Image result for ye olde oak ham
 


This was something that we used to only see at Xmas. It was one of those mythical treats. When I became an adult, I found out that you can actually buy it all year round. Sadly though, I also found that ham that didn't come in a tin actually tasted better. I will be buying some next March, if it looks like Brexit it going wrong. A few tins will hopefully tide us through the period of shortages. Maybe I'll fall back in love with it!




6. Heinz Tonato Soup.
Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup for One
 


We used to have long debates about the best tinned soup. To me it was a pointless conversation because there really is only one soup worth having (although a tin of cream of mushroom soup is useful as a source to bake chicken or fish in if I'm feeling lazy).





7. John West Tinned Red Salmon.
John West Red Salmon 213G



This was the key part of our Sunday afternoon ritual as kids. We'd have tinned Red Salmon sandwiches. I wasn't really sure if I liked it, but my Dad did. He thought that it was "luxury food". I don't think I've eaten any since he passed away. Maybe I'll buy a tin for old times sake over Xmas and raise a toast to him.




8. Heinz Alphabetti Spaghetti.
Image result for Heinz alphabetti Spaghetti




I remember when these came out. The idea in the TV promotions was that it would help children with their spelling. As I recall, it certainly helped us spell lots of rude words. It was rather fun. I guess that before iPhones and Sky TV, we had to find our fun in more creative ways!




9. All Day Breakfast.

Crosse and Blackwell Hunger Breaks All Day Breakfast


Paul Hircombe RIP, used to be the bassplayer in The False Dots. Paul was rather partial to a puff of the sacred Rastafarian herb. I can remember one day discussing the effects of the said weed. Paul said "The one sure way you can tell you've smoked decent weed is when a tin of all day breakfast seems like the best food ever." Paul went on to explain that any other time it was vile and disgusting and a destruction of the finest tradition of British cuisine, but in that moment of munch, an act of transubstanciation occurs and it becomes delicious.


10. Tinned Spam.
Image result for tinned spam
 


Spam was famously thrust into the the centre of the British publics psyche by the Monty Python team performing their "Wonderful Spam" song. Apparently every tin of Spam in the country was sold the day after. Sadly I wasn't particularly ever a fan, but I have to recognise its central role in our nations history.

What are your favourite