Tuesday, 16 October 2018

#SaveTheMidland - Two days 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.

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 481. When I first blogged about the plans, there were three.

There are only two days left. It would be great to get 500 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!


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


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