Friday, 30 April 2010

Dodgy Leaflet Alert

Following a spate of reports of leaflets/letters from local political parties containing (lets be charitable) questionable statements, the Barnet Eye is asking anyone who receives any leaflets, letters or otherwise to get in touch. We'll put these leaflets up on the blog and give you our verdict using the legendary Barnet Eye Spinometer ! - CLICK HERE TO EMAIL THE BARNET EYE - if you can scan them great, if you can't let me know and I'll collect them.

Mill Hill Conservatives are getting a divorce !

I have had the best laugh of the campaign so far today. If you click on the Conservative Council Election leaflet on the right, it will enlarge to full size. This leaflet has two themes. One is that the Green Belt is safe with the Tories and the other is a profile of it's candidates. Guess what one of their candidates (one who doesn't live anywhere near Mill Hill) does for a living? He's chairman of a "property investment company". His interests include "preserving Mill Hill".  I'll let the readers of the Barnet Eye draw their own conclusions.

The other thing which is even funnier is the claim in the leaflet that Liberal Democrats are planning a 500 seat football stadium for Copthall. Which Liberal Democrats are these? We were canvassing in Mill Hill East when a resident showed us the leaflet. Given that the Tories control Barnet Council, surely any such plans would require their approval. I can say with 100% certainty that no Lib Dems in Mill Hill have even heard of these plans, let alone are leading the project as the leaflet says.

They must really be desperate if they have to come out with old tosh like this. Maybe they are trying to deflect attention for Boris Johnsons plans for 15 traveller sites in the Borough, which are rumoured to be on the Green Belt. It seems that the Local  Tories are getting a divorce. From reality.

Expect more of the same

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Is Gordon Brown a Homodoxian?

There is a great article on page 13 of todays Daily Express. It is all about rarely used words. Strangely enough many of these come in would come in quite useful when writing blogs about the current election.

For example HOMODOXIAN. This means "A person who has the same view as you". I immediately thought of Gordon Brown and his "I agree with Nick" - definate homodoxian if you ask me.

Then there is KAKISTOCRACY. This means "government by the worst citizens". Strangely enough. I suspect if any party wins the election outright, a majority of the British people will be ruled by a party they didn't vote for and will find this term quite useful. In all the arguments against PR, one which is never deployed is that at least the majority of voters will be represented by the government. Isn't that meant to be called DEMOCRACY.

Another word in the article is KECK. This means "To make a sound as though one were to vomit". I'm sure we've all done this as we've seen oily politicians lie through their teeth on TV in recent weeks.

One word I quite liked is MARIALITY. This means "Excessive or undue affection on the part of a wife for her husband". Whilst I don't expect any candidates spouse to come out and say "He's a blithering idiot and I only married him for the cash and the limo and if it wasn't for the kids I'd be off with the milkman", usually my reaction to any appearance from any spouse where they talk about their husband is to KECK.

How's about PARACME. This means "The point at which ones prime is passed". Nuff said really.

Another word which should be used more in the current campaign is TACENDA. This means "Things not to be mentioned, matters that are passed over in silence". Such as how to fund the defecit?

With all our MP's expenses, a word which may come in useful is QUOMODCUNQUIZE. This means "To make money in any way possible". Again Nuff said.

In the past when I've done blogs about unusual words, I've had a great response. People enjoy the more obscure reaches of our language. Many older readers will remember the TV game show "Call my bluff".  I was reading through the various parties manifesto and I sometimes think that these are like that show. I sometimes think it would be interesting to reprise that show with the three party leaders.

One other footnote. Being dyslexic, I'm afraid that I instantly forget these words. When I've done blogs on language before, people have spoken to me months later and said "That blog on COULROPHOBIA was brilliant". I had to confess I hadn't got a clue what they were on about until they said "You know, the fear of clowns", so please bear with me.

Nick Clegg spotted in Mill Hill and the dangers of canvassing

 Gordon Brown is in the news because he took exception to something a voter said out on the campaign trail.

You hear all sorts of views, all sorts of opinions and all sorts of comments. Sometimes you may have talked to someone and thought you've made a great impression and only find out later that you got the complete wrong end of the stick. Let me give you an example of one such event in Mill Hill.

One Lady who I spoke to yesterday told me she was highly impressed with the local Lib Dem campaign in Mill Hill. I was rather pleased having worked hard on it for the last six months. Then she delivered the knockout blow. "I was so impressed with you getting Nick Clegg down to the Mill Hill Broadway on Saturday". I was rather puzzled. "Nick Clegg in the Broadway?". She replied "Yes you know, when you had your stall. He was walking up and down handing out spoof Conservative leaflets".

Suddenly the truth dawned. She'd met Matthew Offord, the local Conservative candidate for Parliament, who had also been doing the rounds. Now I had a dilemma. What should I say. She carried on "I told him he did very well in the debate and he said thank you very much". I realised Matthew must have thought she was talking about the candidates debate at the local Shul. I thought I'd try and break the news gently "Do you know who the local Conservative candidate is?" I asked. "Oh yes, he knocked on my door. He's that chap who looks like Jimmy Edwards. I wouldn't give him the time of day". I asked her if she'd be voting for us. She replied "yes, I've already posted my vote. I always do".

At that I decided that I'd leave it there. I wonder how many other people met Matthew Offord and thought he was Nick Clegg handing out spoof Conservative leaflets? I suppose that given his enormous popularity, if I was Matthew I would take it as a compliment.

Mill Hill Lib Dem helps Tory Election Campaign

I have a confession to make. I've helped our local Conservative candidate, Matthew Offord with his campaign to be an MP. Now I didn't know I was helping him, but had I known, I would have still helped him. Does this shock you, knowing my views on Matthew?

Let me explain. I just got a Matthew Offord leaflet through the door. It is a two page newspaper style leaflet. On the back is a picture of a group of pensioners under the title "Labour cuts freedom pass". If you look carefully at the picture, there is a Lady at the back of a certain age, holding up her pass. She is a neighbour of mine. She lives on her own and I've known her for years. On many occasions we've helped her out in small ways. I don't mind, it's what a community does for each other.

About six weeks ago, she came down to see me. She was having trouble filling in her application for her freedom pass. I duly helped her complete the form and then walked around to the post office and posted the envelope. That was the end of the matter I thought. The next time I saw this pass was this morning on the Matthew Offord magazine. Had I known what she'd do, would I have given her the bird and told her to go away? No of course I wouldn't. So what if it helps Matthew Offord with his campaign. We are all entitled  to our views.

We are a tolerant society and I celebrate the fact that I get on with all sorts of people with all sorts of political views. It is sad that some politicians live in such an insular bubble that they can't see beyond their own narrow interests

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Mandelson attacks Nick Clegg

I've just heard Peter Mandelson attacking Nick Clegg for being arrogant and that he has "no right to play kingmaker before a vote has been cast"

Have you got that - Peter Mandelson doesn't like Nick Clegg (please tell all your friends)

How can he have the impertenence to play kingmaker when everyone knows that's Peter Mandelsons job.

I am sure that being slagged off by Peter Mandelson will finish Nick Clegg off completely - Ha Ha Ha !!!!

My secret weapon on the Mill Hill campaign trail

I have a secret weapon in the Mill Hill council elections. I have a whole campaign team who have been beavering away since 1947. Sounds strange? That is the year my family moved to Mill Hill, No 5 Wise Lane to be precise. We lived in Wise lane until 1960, when we moved to our current home in Millway (I bought the house from my mum in 1987, following the death of my Dad). My Dad opened his car crash repair business in Mill Hill, MacMetals in Bunns Lane around the same time.

My brother Laurie added to the family business team in 1977 when he opened Bunns Lane Welding. I've lost count of the number of people who have told me "I knew your Dad, he used to mend my car" or "I know your Brother, he fixed my table lamp". One useful thing about having an unusual name such as Tichborne is that people remember it. They can't spell it, but they can remember it (see extract from the Mill Hill Times circa 1966). Having five elder siblings is also a great assett. One old lady reminded me of when my sister was Carnival Queen in 1966, commemorated by the picture left when my Eldest sister Cath and England footballer Billy Wright performed the FA CUP draw for a  Cancer charity. Another question I get asked is "Is your sister Valerie still a nurse". Well I'm pleased to say she is. She lives in Florida and works for a Hospice performing home visits for the terminally ill.

Another resident taught art at Finchley Grammar School when my brother Frank attended. "How is Frank?" he asked. Frank is fine, although he was stuck in Germany under a volcanic cloud last week when the question was asked. My sister Caroline was also remembered by one old lady. "Your Sister Caroline was in the same class at St Vincents as my son Martin, do you remember him?" I most certainly did. I used to tease Caroline about him for years. She reminded me of Carolines greatest moment of fame "Do you remember when she was in the commercial for Pal dogmeat". I most certainly remembered that as well. I also teased Caroline for many years that she was only the Co-star and the real star was a Dalmation.

Until I hit the campaign trail, I hadn't realised how many people still remembered my Dad, even though he passed away 23 years ago.  It seems that half of the people who lived in one street actually worked for him. They all said the same thing "Great games of cards at tea break time". There was a three card brag game three times a day. Many more folk were customers. Perhaps the nicest comment of all was an old boy who said "Please don't tell anyone, but I've always voted Conservative and I've been a member of the party for 55 years. Your Father was so kind to me that I'll break the habit of a lifetime and vote for you personally".

Finally there are those people who remembered by Mum. I guess that having six children meant she chatted to lots of other Mums at the school gates. As my parents were active in the local church as well, all sorts of tales of the PTA, St Josephs College Garden Fete committee and other charitable events have been mentioned.

Now I'm not complacent and I don't think the fact the family have lived here for 60 years should entitle me to any special favours at the polls. I hope that anyone voting for me will be doing so on the basis that they think I'll do a good job. I hope that if anyone votes for me in the election, they also vote for Kim and Jeremy, as I can personally vouch for their commitment and hard work.

I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank my dearly departed Mum and Dad and my thankfully still very much alive brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles and all for their years of work for the local community, which has made the job of canvassing much more pleasant than it would otherwise have been. It is a real pleasure when you knock on someones door and they tell you something nice about someone you love. Mind you it drives the other canvassers mad when I stand jawing on the doorstep for half an hour.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Not all of the news on the campaign trail is good

On Saturday morning in Mill Hill Broadway. There's revolution in the air. The previous Saturday there was an air of euphoria, with many people coming up and congratulating us on Nick Cleggs surprise victory in the Leadership debate. The atmosphere was different this week. The polls have gone up and stayed up. Rather than euphoric congratulation, people were asking serious questions, raising real issues and telling us that they were on side. Of course not everyone in Mill Hill like the Lib Dems. Amongst the anti mob, there is also a hardening of attitudes. If you are an irrelevence everyone is nice to you. Until last week that was the case. There was a massive dollop of poison dumped on the Lib Dems in the week, so it was inevitable that this would affect some people. As I've spoken to many people on the doorstep and on the street, I can tell you how this has worked. The people who really hated the Lib Dems now hate us even more and they have better ammunition with which to be rude to us. The people in the middle who may or may not vote for us have read this and are really keen to discuss the issues raised. As a candidate for council, this works massively in my favour. As people want to talk to me, I can get the message across.

Another thing which I haven't anticipated is the number of people I've told on the doorstep to read my blog if they wanted to find out about my views. Quite a few came up to me on Saturday morning and congratulated me. That is nice. They asked why the local press didn't cover local issues in such depth. They were amazed at how many issues they'd never heard of. There was one piece of news which absolutely gutted me. I bumped into an old footballing friend, who played in several teams I've played in over the years. He told me he had Kidney cancer and it had spread. He was on an experimental drug and was hoping it would stop the cancer in it's tracks. My friend is not a shrinking violet, he's one of the most full of life people I've ever known. As we chatted, he announced to everyone who passed "Vote for this guy, he's the man". I pondered the fact that he'd make a great politician, a man of great charm, personality and charisma. Barnet Council needs dynamic people who are not stuffed shirts. I've long been of the opinion that it's too full of pomp and ceremony and that puts the man on the street off. If I get in on May 6th, I am going to dedicate the next 4 years to trying to get local people involved and local people making a difference. One of my Lib Dem colleagues joked that following my run in with theMayor last year, if the Lib Dems win, I'd make a great Mayor. Should that happen the first thing I'd do is sell they Mayoral Limo and the second thing I'd do is sell the Mayoral chain. I'd give the money raised to local sports clubs, to help get young people into healthy lifestyles. I asked why the Mayor needs a limo "So when he attends a function, he can have a drink and get taken home". If I decide to get pissed at the public expense, then it isn't work, it's pleasure and I'll pay my own busfare home. We need to make the council work for the people of Barnet and get rid of all of the indulging of public servants.

I hope that in four years time, my good friend is out on the Broadway telling everyone I'm still the man for two reasons - firstly because I pray to god he survives that long and secondly because I hope I've proven his faith in me to be justified. God bless you Gummsy !

Monday, 26 April 2010

Papal Condoms : The message on the Doorstep in Barnet

There was a big story on the airwaves yesterday. A minor official at the foreign office wrote a spoof memo which suggested various activities the Pope could undertake on his visit, including launching a range of condoms. As I left mass last night, a couple of people mentioned it to me. Strangely the mock outrage of some commentators didn't seem to be mirrored by the parishioners of Mill Hill. In the 1970's one of Britains favourite comedians was Dave Allen. He used to mercilessly rib the church. Most Catholics found him hilarious as they got the jokes. In the 1990's Father Ted came along. Again Catholics weren't offended. So on to the Foreign office email. Now none of us whos work involves computers and emails ever send each other spoof or jokey emails do we? It is part of our nature and our culture to make such jokes. Should the official be sacked? Of course not. It's probably the best publicity the Catholic Church has had for weeks. As to the launch of a range of Condoms, one old boy of Irish extraction said this to me. "If the pope launched his own Condoms, no one would use them anyway. Who wants a Holy condom" - Boom Boom.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

David Cameron - an urban spaceman in a policy vacuum

It's Sunday night, and I've had a hard days canvassing. This clip is dedicated to the Leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron.


Here's the Lyrics


Urban Spaceman - The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band

I'm the urban spaceman baby, I've got speed
I've got everything I need
I'm the urban spaceman baby, I can fly
I'm a supersonic guy

I don't need pleasure
I don't feel pain
If you were to knock me down
I'd just get up again

I'm the urban spaceman babe and
I'm making out
I'm all about

I wake up every morning
with a smile upon my face
My natural exuberance
spills out all over the place
I'm the urban spaceman
I'm intelligent and clean
Know what I mean?

I'm the urban spaceman, as a lover second to none
It's a lot of fun

I never let my friends down
I've never made a boob
I'm a glossy magazine
an advert in the tube

I'm the urban spaceman babe, but here comes the twist
I don't exist

-------------------------------------
remind you of someone ???????????

The sanest bloke I know

Yesterday I met a man with a mission. I'm not going to name him, but he used to drum in a band with me. He's one of my best friends and if I had to rely on someone in a life or death scenario who I could implictly trust, he'd be the first person I'd ask. He is also an absolutely blinding drummer. I was watching him playing with a few friends at a local pub.  His band were meant to perform a St Georges night gig, but he was let down by a bandmate on Thursday. Most people would have cried off, but my friend spent the evening ringing around and cobbled together a replacement. It was a good night and I thoroughly enjoyed it. As ever, we ended up chatting and drinking until we were kicked out at 2am. As I had to run a stall for the Lib Dems at 9.30am, this wasn't the best move I've ever made.

St Georges day is a strange day in the calendar. Our patron Saint is a rather problematic character in some ways. I rather upset a right wing leaning chap in the pub last night who asked me if I thought we should have a public holiday for him. I said I thought that this was a splendid idea, which he rather happily agreed with. He was less impressed when I commented that I thought it was fantastic that so many people could be united by a Palestinian who became a Roman soldier. My new found friend was suddenly rather less friendly and asked if I was trying to wind him up. I suspect that if I'd been 5'1 instead of 6'1 he may have chosen to up the ante of our exchange but as it was he skulked off and looked miserable for the rest of the evening. I pondered on why St George was famous. We all know he killed a Dragon. There's only one problem. Dragons don't exist. This brings us back to my conversation in the pub at 1am.

My friend was telling me that he was doing rather well. He's been plagued by mental illness over the years. This hasn't stopped him from working, raising a family or being a great musician. He was telling me that he has discovered his mission in life. What is this mission? To get people with mental health problems to take their medication. He explained to me that he's come to realise that medication is the secret to happiness for him. He said that it has taken him years to find the correct dosage at the correct level. He explained that many people with issues such as his, have their lives blighted because they don't take their meds. He said that when people stop taking them, it is because the dosage needs a minor adjustment. He has a sympathetic doctor who explained all of this to him and told him that if he started having problems or issues, don't stop the meds, come back and have a chat so the dosage could be adjusted first.

He told me that since the realisation that he could chemically control his problems, he's become an evangelist for medication. He has helped many other sufferers to control their problems and deal with their issues.  As we chatted about life the universe and everything, the subject of St George cropped up. He said "You know that many of the Saints were Paranoid schizophrenics, thats why they had visions". I replied "How many dragons have you slayed". His reply "Not as many as I've laid". I've often wondered with my friend whether the problem was more one of he really sees the world for what it is. I can't recall him ever making a bad judgement call about anything. Could it be that perhaps he's actually the sanest person I know?

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Barnet Blogs update :- Buggles featuring Han Dope

As ever the Barnet Eye is keen to keep its readers up to date with the world of the Barnet Blogosphere

Probably the most notable recent addition is The Barnet Bugle. This is the work of former Barnet Conservative Councillor Dan Hope (or Han Dope as us dyslexics like to call him). Dan is an  interesting character, one of the many true blue Tories who have, shall we say, not been massively impressed with the local Tory council. Of all of the Barnet Tories I have jousted electronically for longer with Mr Hope than any of them. He understands electronic media better than any of the rest of the Barnet Tories (with the exception of Don't Call Me Dave). When he first cropped up on my radar, I coined the term "Bonkers Dan Hope" as I felt he had some rather odd views on issues such as road humps. As the local Tories became more entrenched in power and disaster followed disaster, I came to realise that Dan is actually one of the least bonkers of the Barnet Conservatives. The Barnet Bugle is running a local election diary and if you want to follow the election, it is a great place to look. I doubt that Dan really wants my endorsement, but I'd be lying if I said that the Bugle isn't one of the first blogs I check every day.

Another interesting blog, especially for those of my readers interested in Jewish issues and Israel is the blog written by Richard Millett, a former Mill Hill Conservative Candidate. This is notable as Mr Millett is not afraid to criticise the Barnet Tory Council or even David Cameron for his comments about East Jerusalem.

The Hendon Times is also running an election blog for the candidates. The Conservative challenger for Hendon, Matthew Offord has posted a few entries as has Matthew Harris, the Lib Dem. I am intrigued by Matthew Offords postings. He repeatedly tells anecdotes about what people have said to him in Mill Hill. Now I've spoken to thousands of people in Mill Hill on the campaign trail. It seems that they must tell Matthew completely different things to what they tell me. Is it possible that the people of Mill Hill are trying to cheer Matthew up? I don't know, but it is rather intriguing? The most interesting thing though is that there is no blog from Andrew Dismore, the Labour candidate (or any of the others). Wasn't he asked or couldn't he be bothered? Either way it's pretty disturbing.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Leadership debate part II

So we had the second installment of the Leadership debate. As regular readers will know, I always play five a side football on a Thursday night (may have a night off in two weeks though), so I missed it. Afterwards we adjourned to the Three Hammers pub. It was clear to me as I started supping my shandy (it was my turn to drive, so no hard stuff), that whilst politicos are in an orgasmic blather about the issue, the rest of society takes a different view. Last weeks debate was a new experience and people were fascinated. Last night many people watched maybe 20 minutes of it then got bored,once it appeared that all of the intensive coaching Cameron and Brown have had in the last week hadn't transformed them into Superman. I suspect that 90 minutes is far too long for most people.

What conclusions can we glean from the second debate :-

* If you do your homework properly, you do better
* It's all still to play for

When I got home, I watched some of the debate and some of the analysis. I don't think that the two debates have added a single vote to the Tories or Labour. If you watched both debates and hadn't made your mind up, there really is only one winner. Ultimately that's all that matters.

Who's Sorry Now

More Canvassing Stories - David Cameron on Israel and overdeveloped allotments

Unlike many people I really enjoy canvassing. I genuinely enjoy talking to people. Generally we tend to go out in teams, but if I'm honest, I prefer going out on my own. If you are part of a team and you get talking to someone who is really interesting, you feel the need to cut short the conversation and dash off to "catch up". I don't really like having that pressure. Some of the most interesting conversations are with people who won't vote Lib Dem, for various reasons. The conversations haven't been about politics, but about life in Mill Hill. I had a great chat gentleman in Sunnyfields who was a committed Conservative. He wanted to know what I thought of the "spin" aspect of politics. He told me that he thought John Major would be the last "real" Prime minister.He felt that the Leadership debates on TV were a terrible thing because it focussed on the person not the policies. As we parted he said "Do you really think voting in the Council elections makes a difference?". I replied "I'm not getting paid to do this, so I guess I must". I hope that if I'm elected, he won't ask me that question in four years.

Another Tory voter who I had an interesting chat with had problems with the allotments at the bottom of her garden. Strangely enough, it turned out that I'd been advising a friend (who is non political) who had been helping her to deal with the problem with Barnet Council. He'd sent me an email confirming that Barnet Council would be acting on the matter just before I'd left to go door knocking. She was pleased to hear this. Asked her why she hadn't contacted her local Conservative Councillor who is involved with the allotment society, as to me this would seem a natural thing to do. She replied "Oh, I was told he was too busy with the election" ?????

Another interesting chap was a Jewish guy who was a Lib Dem supporter. "Did you see what David Cameron said in the Financial Times about the West Bank?" He asked. I hadn't. He said "Wait here". After five minutes, he returned and said "Put this on your blog". He'd printed off an article and highlighted the text. As you have to subscribe to the FT (which you can do for free), this link may not work (you will be prompted to subscribe if you don't) :-

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c562cb5a-3cfd-11df-bbcf-00144feabdc0.html

If you don't want to subscribe, here is what he said :-
The would-be prime minister also gives an indication that he will be prepared to join Mr Obama in taking a tough line with Israel on the issue of settlements. “Unlike a lot of politicians from Britain who visit Israel, when I went I did stand in occupied East Jerusalem and actually referred to it as “occupied East Jerusalem,” he says. “The Foreign Office bod who was with me said most ministers don’t dare say [that].” He describes the lack of progress in the peace process as “depressing”.
We also had a chat about my blog. The chap in question is an avid reader of all of the Barnet blogs. "Do you chat to Don't Call Me Dave" was a topic of much interest. I told him we chat quite regularly. He asked if we coordinated blogs. As we sit at different ends of the political spectrum, but have the same opinion of many of the problems of Barnet, he thought we should. "Not really". I like David, I think he writes a great blog, but I think we are both far too independent in our thinking and perhaps a bit too competitive to do that.

The most difficult moment for me was when I knocked on the door of an elderly lady. There was no answer and I was just about to leave, when the door slowly started to open. She had clearly dragged herself with some difficulty from her chair. As I saw her, I felt I'd seen a ghost. She looked just like my mother, shortly before she passed away. She'd clearly had a stroke and had difficulty with movement and speech. Before my mum died, I used to go and have a cup of tea with her every day. This poor lady took the leaflet and smiled and gave me a thumbs up. My mum died in August 2008, but despite her problems, she voted in every election. She was gutted when Boris Johnson won they Mayoralty. Like my mum, this lady was living independently.  As I left, I felt bad with myself. I know first hand what problems she's facing. I felt helpless to do anything to help and useless for this. Then I thought back to my mums situation. I first started to get actively involved in local Politics in Spring 2007 when the Tories privatised the meals on wheels service. My mum was left high and dry with no lunch for several days. The quality of the food was awful at first. The meals were often cold when they were delivered. I suspect that many poor old dears were left hungry for weeks as the system was sorted out. I kicked up such a fuss that my mum was given priority and became the first meal delivered on her round. It became clear to me that such disruption caused stress and would probably have killed people. That was the start of a long journey that lead to me standing for the Lib Dems in Mill Hill.

As I left this ladies doorstep, I realised I was doing as much as I could to stop people such as her, being treated so awfully by Barnet Council. The best way to help and protect her was to have a council which really cared for the people it looked after. That is why I knocked on her door. That is why I will work tirelessly whatever happens to fight policies which hurt people such as her.

I miss my mum. She was a feisty old soul and if she was still around she'd have been telling me to get out and work harder. Thats why I enjoy canvassing. It reminds me of why I am doing all of this.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Leading Barnet Tory attacks Barnet Council Parking Policy

One of the up and coming stars of the Barnet Conservative Party at the last Council election was Richard Millett. He stood for the Mill Hill ward and I whiled away many happy hours discussing the folly of his policies. Happily the people of Mill Hill agreed with me on this issue. Richard now writes a blog and it seems that he's coming around to sharing my views about the Tories at Barnet Council. He wrote a rather good piece on the scrooge like parking policies of the local Tories.

http://richardmillett.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/parking-meters-on-yom-tov/

Richard was rightly upset that Barnet Council traffic wardens turned Easter Sunday into a nice Cash earner. Like many local Jewish people, Richard takes a rather sensible view on other peoples religions and recognises that to many people, easter Sunday will be considered as a special day and that parking restrictions should be relaxed. He states :
Barnet Council’s denigration of this holy sabbath shows lack of sensitivity for the Christian religion, for Londoners and even, if they wanted the day off, the wardens themselves.
Richard sensibly goes on to state :-

Barnet Council’s denigration of this holy sabbath shows lack of sensitivity for the Christian religion, for Londoners and even, if they wanted the day off, the wardens themselves. Barnet Council should make Easter Sunday more holy next year by treating it like the bank holiday it feels and if they don’t then they need to erect big “Parking Meters operating today” signs - Easter Sunday; a good day to be a traffic warden.

I am not so sure about it being Barnet Councils job to make any day more holy, but I fully agree with Richards comments that the Parking Wardens of Barnet Council use such occasions to catch people out. It is clear to me that the practices of some parking wardens in Barnet has greatly upset many people. As Barnet Council earn huge sums from these practices, it seems pretty clear to me that there is a policy of maximising revenue.

It is crystal clear to me that if Barnet Council and the local police put a fraction of the effort they put into catching out motorists into dealing with anti social behaviour, graffiti, rogue traders, burglars and enforcing property development rules, then Barnet would be a much better place to live.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

If I were Richard Desmond, I'd back the Lib Dems

The Daily Express used to be the newspaper with the largest circulation in Great Britain. It used to sell four million copies a day. Today it sells just over half a million. Why? Because it has lost touch. Earlier this week Leo McInstry wrote a whole page of comment explaining why the Lib Dems are a bad idea. Now whilst he's entitled to his view, if I was his boss, proprietor Mr Richard Desmond, maybe I'd take a different view. There's no shortage of papers spouting right wing nonsense, most of whom do it far better than the Daily Express and to a far wider audience. I wonder if Mr Desmond has considered how many people vote Lib Dem, either in Council or general elections. There are many millions. None of these have a newspaper which supports their views. There is a whole mass market which is being ignored. There's a chance (increasing every day) that the Lib Dems will play a massive role in the new parliament. It is a copper bottomed, once in a generation opportunity. If I was the owner of a national newspaper and I wanted to catch the public imagination, what better way to become the story and set the agenda. What better way to show that you have reconnected?

There was an interview in the Guardian on Monday with David Yelland, former editor of The Sun. This details how the national papers ignore the Lib Dems. Given the millions of supporters, I just can't believe that it would be bad business for a tabloid to give these voters the choice of a paper which reflects their views.

Sheltered Housing - more than just a political football

Yesterday I visited Moreton Close in Mill Hill. This is what we used to call sheltered housing. I had a cup of tea and a chat with the residents. Barnet Council got rid of their onsite warden 2 years ago. How does the new system work. Not very well. Recently the travelling warden who also looks after Derby House in Hendon was called at 7am. They turned up at 10.30am. When you are vulnerable and need assistance that is a hell of a long time to wait. The residents were keen to know the Lib Dems position on wardens. I explained we would keep them. I asked what they thought of the parties. They told me they were disgusted by the behaviour of MP's and the expenses scandal.

I asked what they thought of the Council. There was barely concealed outrage at the way the Council has behaved. Then I got a surprise. I asked what they thought of our local MP. They were outraged. It seems that two people had turned up from the local Labour party at 8.45pm on a recent evening. They had gained access to the building, circumventing the entryphone system and had started banging on doors. As residents never get people banging on doors at this time, it scared the life out of the residents. They were livid. They asked me to pass on the message to all parties and all canvassers that residents do not appreciate late night calls in this manner. They were happy to chat and pleased that someone was taking an interest. I was pleased to have a rather nice cup of tea on my travels.

There is a lesson for all of us in here. Sheltered housing is more than a political football. It is a fundamental lynchpin of peoples lives. In all the excitement of Nick Cleggs fine performance in the debate, lets not forget who we are doing this for and why we are doing it.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

48 Crash



I was going to try and be clever and mention the rather limp Tory broadcast and how their poll ratings have slumped as an excuse to show this video. To be honest though, you don't need any reason at all to be reminded of why blokes my age get a funny smile on their face when they hear the name Suzi Quatro, so just enjoy ! Must admit though, the first verse and chorus made me snigger, can't think why

48 Crash 
Well you got the hands of a man and the face of a little boy blue-ue
And when you stand you're so grand there's a case just for looking at you-oo oo-oo
You're so young, you could have been the devil's son
You're so young, but like a hang up I'll be sad when you're old and you're gone

Refrain:
Watch Out!
You know the 48 Crash come like a lightning flash (48 Crash, 48 Crash)
And the 48 Crash is a silk sash bash (48 Crash, 48 Crash)
48 Crash, 48 Crash
Come like a lightning flash, a lightning flash
And it's a silk sash bash, a silk sash bash, that's the 48 Crash

Does this remind you of someone?

Have a look at this clip of Alfie Boe on the Michael Parkinson show. Does he remind you of someone

Alfie Boe  "Stranger in Paradise"

Alfie Boe | MySpace Music Videos


Maybe Alfie isn't the only Stranger in Paradise at the moment !

Monday, 19 April 2010

Great things happening in Barnet - Sound Skool Launch



There are some great things happening in the Barnet music scene. Check out this video for the launch of Sound Skool. This is an innovative project for young people interested in music (aged 14-18) who are not in full time education, training or employment. There is more about Sound Skool on the Sound Skool facebook page. The launch party was a great day. YMCA are leading the project and it has been funded by Youth Music. Barnet Homes and Barnet College are also partners.  The Hendon Times also came down to record the event for posterity. Enjoy

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Sign up for Barnet ASBO+ a great new service from the EASYCOUNCIL (TM)

Got a problem with naughty neighbours? Why not sign up to the Easycouncil ASBO+ service. There are three great packages available to residents.

Bronze Service - For a mere £500 per year you can get a pack of three Asbos for your neighbours, guaranteed to be delivered within 14 days


Silver Service - For a mere £1,000 per year you can get a pack of five Asbos for your neighbours, guaranteed to be delivered within 14 days and your very own PCO to visit you once a week to cheer you up


Gold Service - This is a premier service for the more well heeled resident. For £2,000 per year you can get five ASBOs, an injunction* and an eviction* for any nuaghty neignbours. You will get a visit from a real proper policeman once a week and you'll get dinner once a month with the chief constable.

* Terms, conditions and English Law may apply
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Sadly the Barnet ASBO+ service is a complete figment of my imagination. I was asked how Easycouncil may work by a researcher for a media company recently. I came up with it as an illustration. Rather amusingly I was asked "Are they really proposing this?".

You see the rather bizarre truth is that having spent millions on consultants to draw up the Easycouncil scheme over several years, none of us are any the wiser as to what it actually means. I think ASBO+ is the closest thing I've heard of to a new innovative service which they could introduce.

Congratulations to Barnet Council

Let me be the first to congratulate Barnet Council on their stirling work, keeping the Council running through the volcanic ash crisis. Whilst airports everywhere ground to a halt, trains to the continent were filled to capacity, stranding thousands of people, Barnet Council managed to provide a full service without a hitch. Well done chaps ! Lets hope that the lessons they learned from the snow crisis in January, when the whole of Barnet ground to a halt and they ran out of grit were well learned.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Rail Franchise renewals

David Cameron implores us to "Join the Government, Help us run the country, help us make the decisions". Sadly neither Mr Cameron or his local representative in Hendon seems to be in the slightest bit interested in sorting out the biggest cock up of the last Conservative government. This bemuses me. I would have thought that a cast iron promise to sort out the Rail operating companies fleecing us for huge profits and providing a Dismal service would have delivered huge rewards.

How on earth they have failed to tap into the huge groundswell of resentment that has built up, with facebook groups, No 10 petitions etc is beyond me. Whilst they talk about the ability to sack Head teachers (all of whom in Barnet seem to do a rather good job in difficult circumstances), sack your local coppers (who also do a good job), not a  dickeybird about sacking train companies who fleece us and have only managed to meet their required service level once in the last 7 months.

There are an army of disgruntled people out there.  One such person is Joyce Zannoni who was so disgruntled that she sent an freedom of information request to the Department of Transport asking as to whether it was true that a certain rail company had their franchise renewed (by a team of Civil Servants). She posted the response to a Facebook set up to complain about a certain companies service.

Here is there response (with Joyce's address redacted for obvious reasons. Joyce first published this on the relevant website for the train company).




As you can see this franchise was extended in Feb 2009 until 2014. No discussion, no consultation, no opportunity for commuters to pass an opinion on whether they should have been allowed to continue.

This company has been granted a virtual monopoly. Surely the views of it's customers should have been taken into account. Surely, like failing MPs they should be taken into account of it stops performing? I have a simple suggestion. If a company fails to meet it's agreed service levels for a period of more than three months, then the company will be forced to conduct a consultation of its customers. If a majority want the franchise to be stripped, then they will lose it.

At the end of the franchise or prior to renewal, another consultation will be performed. If the perception of the passengers is that the rail company has failed, they will lose the franchise and be banned from bidding for other franchises for two years. I ran this suggestion by a senior rail manager in December "That wouldn't work. We'd spend all our time having to pander to customers whims". An the problem with that is? In my opinion pandering to the customers is far better than pandering to the bank accounts of the directors and the shareholders of the company. We'd then get a bit of customer focus.

Friday, 16 April 2010

I'm not interested in politics and I'm not going to vote

Whilst out campaigning and knocking on doors in Mill Hill I've learned a very interesting thing. I learned that many people who think they have no interest in politics are actually passionately interested, they just aren't being listened to. In the course of the week, I've spoken to two people who have given me a huge insight into how the people of Mill Hill think and how they view politics. Both started by saying "I'm not interested in politics and I'm not going to vote". In both cases, I asked why they felt like that. In both cases it turned out that they were highly interested. They just felt no one spoke up for them.

I explained my reasons for standing for the local council. I've lived in Mill Hill all of my life and I'm interested in making sure that it remains a good place to live. Both of the people I spoke to felt that it had become a less nice place in recent years. When I discussed the issues, many of these were beyond the scope of a local council to sort out. I discussed what a local councillor does and how a good local councillor spends many hours dealing with problems local people have with the council. Neither of the people I spoke to realised that local councillors hold open surgeries where people can come to discuss their problems with the council. My Lib Dem colleagues spend every Saturday morning at Mill Hill LIbrary. Anyone can drop in and discuss any issue. Many people have been helped as a result of these sessions. It is fair to say that councillors of all parties do the same.

I asked about what they felt a councillor could and should be doing. They told me of various things which they felt to be important. Both agreed that issues like potholes should have been dealt with in a more timely manner by Barnet Council. Both were worried by the effects of overdevelopment. Both were disgusted by the refusal of the Barnet Conservatives to add the names of servicemen who have died since World War II to local war memorials. One of the residents was a serving police officer. I asked him if he had any advice for me if I was elected.He said "Go out on a night shift with a patrol on a saturday night and don't go out with the chiefs". He said then I would see the real issues for normal police officers. I am a firm believer in seeing things from the ground level. This is one suggestion I will most certainly follow up if the people of Mill Hill see fit to give me the opportunity.

Both of the respondents were formerly in the forces and were scathing about the treatment of former servicemen. I would like to see a veterans bureau established which would put dealing with our servicemen at the forefront of our priorities. This is what happens in the USA and it works well. Suicides and depression is prevalent amongst our ex servicemen. I personally would like to see Council such as Barnet actively recruiting ex servicemen as they are hard working, punctual and committed. Again both of the people I spoke to agreed with this concept. Both would like to see low level crime addressed.

In both cases as we parted company on the doorstep, after a long conversation, I said "I though you weren't interested in Politics, we've been chatting for a half an hour" Both responded with the same comment "No one's ever listened to us before". Maybe there's a lesson in there for us all.

Nick Clegg judged to have won Leader debate

It's 23:54 on Thursday night an I'm watching Sky News analysis of the Leaders debate. It seems that the instant polls have decided that Nick Clegg won the debate. The pundits seem surprised by this result. I saw Nicks speech to the Lib Dem conference in Birmingham recently. He also did a question and answer session. I'm not surprised at all. I wasn't surprised when Vince Cable won the Chancellor debate either.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Barnet Tory Manifesto - What it doesn't say

Have you read the Barnet Conservative manifesto. Strangely there are several important words and phrases you won't find in there. These are phrases which have formed a key part of the Barnet Conservative agenda over the last few years. Click on the link at the bottom and try searching for these keynote policies.

EASYCOUNCIL
FUTURE SHAPE
SHELTERED HOUSING
WARDEN CUTS
ICELAND
ABOVE INFLATION COUNCIL TAX RISES
AERODROME ROAD
PRIVATISATION
POT HOLES

They don't mention that since the Tories took power Council Taxes have risen so high that they are now greater than the London Boroughs of Brent and Camden (both run by the Lib Dems). Barnet had lower Council taxes when the Tories took over in 2003.

They say they will prevent Property developers from building on Gardens. Why have they waited seven years to do it? They talk about protecting the green belt. They have been in power for seven years and not done anything to strengthen the green belt rules. They say they will retain the weekly collection of refuse, but it was their own suggestion to charge residents extra for collections as an example of Easycouncil. They say they will transform services so that they will focus on you the customer. If this was true, how come they ignored the 85% of customers who live in Sheltered Housing who said they wanted to retain their on site warden?

The Barnet Conservative manifesto is a fascinating document. I had wondered how they would address all of the issues which have affected the man on the street. Now we know, they are just going to pretend that none of it happened.

You can read this litany of shameless distortion  here :-

http://www.conservativesintouch.com/uploaded/files/conservatives4barnet2006_com/2010Manifesto.pdf

Vote Loberal Dibocrat for your local Disslecksic

"Are you really dyslexic Rog?" I was asked that question today, I'm not going to say who by or the exact circumstances in which it was asked, but I'll tell you the answer. Yes, I am. Moderately. I'm not dyslexic enough for it to prevent me from passing 9 O Levels or 3 A Levels in the days when you didn't get any help, but yes I am. I had a reading age of 5 when I was 12, so I think that getting a grade C in English Language 4 years later at O Level was probably quite an achievement. If I look at my blog traffic stats and see how many people have read the blog, I think that is also an achievement.

So why raise this now, today. Well it seems that some people think that being dyslexic is reason enough to disqualify me from representing the people of Mill Hill as a Councillor. Now I do know where this started and I do know who started it. Let me say this and believe me, I know this message will get back to the person who seems to think it's a problem. If you really believe yourself to be my intellectual superior, lets have a hustings meeting locally in Mill Hill. Just you and me and lets take free form questions from the audience.

Can't really say fairer than that can I.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Babylons Burning - Happy Birthday Foxy, wherever you are !

Last Sunday would have been Paul Fox, guitarist of The Ruts 59th Birthday



Paul was a mate of mine in the late 1970's / early 1980's and we went to the Ruts first gig. Babylons Burning sounds as fresh today as it did when it was released in 1979. Sadly Malcolm Owen died in 1980 of a heroin overdose and the band never reached the heights to which they seemed destined to reach.

Paul is one of many friends and family who have died of Cancer. I'm organising a gig for the Teenage Cancer Trust and MacMillan Cancer relief on 14th May at The Mill Hill Sports club. The headliners will be Alan Warner from the Foundations. Like Paul, my mother in law died of Lung Cancer. Heather Scott, who was the school welfare officer at my sons school also died of this terrible disease just before Easter. The gig will be dedicated to the memory of all of them. More details to follow

Wherever you are, happy birthday mate !

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (and other Barnet Tory theme tunes).

Great News - The Barnet Eye Blog is pleased to announce it's competition to find a theme tune for the Barnet Conservative Council elections.

 Here are the nominations.

Attack of the Killer Clowns - The Dickies


As Tears Go By - Marianne Faithfull


Born to Lose - Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers


Take the Money and Run - The Steve Miller Band


*********** Update at 17:45 **********************
I have been requested to add the following to avoid any confusion

DISCLAIMER
The Barnet Eye wishes to make it clear that this poll isn't sanctioned by the Barnet Conservative Party. There is no prize for the winner and no animals were hurt in the making of this blog. Any resemblance that these songs may have to members of the local Conservative party or their policies is purely (and unfortunately) coincidental.

Why did you get married?

What is the most stupid, crass and wasteful tax proposal you've heard recently? Which one do you think is the biggest and most pointless waste of money? There is only one which really gets me spitting blood. Let me tell you why. Normally I leave this sort of thing alone, but when something is plain stupid, you just have to say.

Last week I celebrated my 15th wedding anniversary. Over the 15 years we've had some difficult times, most notably losing my mother and both of my wifes parents in the space of 18 months. It is hard to say whether this brought us closer together as we were pretty close together to start with. Why did I marry her? Because it was clear to both of us that we much preferred being together than apart (we tried that as well before we got hitched). The Shadow Chancellor George Osborne has come up with the idea of an "incentive" for people to get/stay married. He's going to give them a cash bung via the tax system.

Now excuse me for asking, but isn't there meant to be a crisis in public finances. Isn't there meant to be a squeeze on the cash the Government have to spolsh around? There are many levels which make this proposed "incentive" a bad idea. The biggest one is that it will have no effect whatsoever on whether people who really like each other get or stay married. It might mean that people who have split up, stay officially married until they meet new partners, to make a few quid. It's not inconceivable that a few people who don't even know each other and have no intention of having a relationship get married to get their hands on the cash. What will it acheive? Will it stimulate the economy? Unlikely. Will it create New jobs? Unlikely. Where will it come from?  A tax on banks. Aren't these all skint and desperately trying to rebuild their balances sheets? Aren't most of them owned by the taxcpayer, so the dividends go to the treasury anyway.  Will George Osborne wake up one morning to find that all he's done with his bank tax is deprive himself of dividends?

There are plenty of other things he could have done, if he really though that taxing banks was the best way to stimulate the economy. Here's a few suggestions, feel free to let me know which ones you think might have been a better option.

a) Repaid some of the National debt, reducing the amount of interest we'll have to pay in future.
b) Electrified or built a new rail line, generating jobs, improving infrastructure and making our nation greener.
c) Built some new prisons so we could lock up more criminals and reduce all of our insurance bills and let us sleep sounder at night.
d) Given small businesses employing less than five people a tax break if they took on extra staff.
e) Built offshore wind farms to produce cheap sustainable electricity and lessen our dependence on erratic foreign supplies.
f) Given a tax break to people buyimng electric cars, to improve the economy and develop jobs within a green industry.
g) Built new council houses to help deal with the crisis of housing in our country
i) Reduce the Tax on home grown wine to stimulate the local industry

Now I've just picked a random list of proposals from various parties and candidates which I've seen over the last few weeks. I support some but not all of these proposals. Please let me know if there is anyone out there who thinks that George Osbornes proposal is better for us than any of these and why. This marriage tax bung is stupid and wasteful and just shows that George Osborne isn't up to the job (By the way, on my wedding anniversary I saw Ken Clarke being interviewed on BBC News Channel after our nice meal out, seems from his comments he's with me on this one and thinks Osborne is wrong). If you are planning to vote Tory as you think they know how to run the economy properly, think again. Whilst many Tories are posting web stories saying "Vince Cable isn't quite as marvellous as you may think" none of them have actually managed to say they have the slightest belief that George Osborne know better than Vince Cable. The reason? because they'd look like idiots before the world if they did.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Paying the price for a Barnet Conservative Campaign blunder

As I found out yesterday, to my cost, Politics isn't always fair. Yesterday, after a hard day knocking on doors I nipped down to Marks and Spencers to buy some bread and bagels for my breakfast this morning. As I surveyed the rather tasty selection of smoked salmon, I was approached by a rather cross looking lady. "You're standing for Council aren't you. I've seen your picture". I said "yes, how can I help?". She responded "Don't you stupid idiots realise that by leaving leaflets sticking out of letter boxes, you are advertising to burglars which houses are empty". Now as a former paperboy (many years ago), I know that this is something you don't do. I said "Yes, you are quite right. We tell our helpers to always ensure the leaflets are properly pushed through. Tell me which road you live in and I'll have  word". She replied telling me where. This rather puzzled me. I asked "When was the leaflet left?" She responded "at about 2pm". I happened to know that we weren't working on that road at that time.  I then asked "Was it a leaflet for the Lib Dems?". "No" she responded. "It was for the Conservatives".  She then told me how she was a neighbourhood watch co-ordinator and she was disgusted that we could be so stupid. 

Anyway, having reassurred he that I totally agreed with her and that I'd ensure all local Lib Dem leafletters got the message, she asked me what I was going to do about the Conservatives. Resisting the temptation to reply "Beat them in the election", I replied that I would write a blog to inform them that they should be more careful when delivering their leaflets and to show a bit more. She asked "Do people actually read your blog?" I replied "Oh Yes, especially our local Conservatives, I'm sure they'll take note".

Thameslink - First Capital Connect No 10 Online petition suspended

I just took a peek at the number of signatures on the No 10 petition to strip First Capital Connect of their franchise. This has reached 5,852 signatures. Sadly it won't hit 6,000 before the general election as the new signatures and petitions have been suspended for the period of the general election. This applies to all petitions and is a measure to protect the system from abuse by coordinated party activity.

Whilst understandable, I think it's rather a shame in this particular case, as it clearly would have reached the magic 6,000 number during this period. It is worth noting that the lateness figures for the route for the period 7-31 March have just been released. For the first time since last August the figures are above 90%. I suppose this will be portrayed as an improvement and a vindication of their strategy. I think that the fact that we've had  a substandard service for half a year proves quite the opposite.

Guest Blog : Important Council Housing issues

By Robert at Barnet Defend Council Housing,

Hello. I'm not a blogger but with the election approaching, the issue of the future of council housing is something which will affect many people in Barnet. We have thousands of people on the waiting list and huge developments in Barnet which fail to even touch on these issues. What sort of a society allows huge housing developments, building homes for 60,000 people from outside the borough of Barnet, whilst not even scratching the surface of the council house waiting list. Please click on the attached links to find out more information about the future of council housing in London.


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Robert at Barnet Defend Council Housing is a campaigner for better Council housing in Barnet. All guest. There is a link to the campaign in the sidebar.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

What sort of a place is the London Borough of Barnet?

As I drink my Sunday Morning cup of tea, I was reflecting on what sort of a place we live in. In some ways, we are lucky to live in such a special place. Let me tell you about the day I had yesterday and explain why.

The day started with a trip to Hendon Reformed Synagogue for the Bar Mitzvah of one of my best friends sons. Harris is the middle son and was born on the same day as my daughter Lizzie. They are both a little bit mad in their own way. Whereas his elder brother Sam gave a serious, intelligent and thoughtful reflection when reading his Bar Mitzvah speech (sorry I don't know the correct term), Harris sought to entertain us (although being no less intelligent). Rabbi Simon Katz joined in, cracking a joke at his Dads expense. Harris sought to add dramatic effect to his bible reading, using his best Burt Lancaster voice for passage spoken by God. I've known Harris since he was a baby and I was proud of him. His Mum and Dad were beaming at his command performance. The Jewish community has a great sense of family and I felt honoured to attend such a celebration. It is the culmination of 18 months of hard work and helps young Jewish people find their identity, know who they are and grow into adults. I was made to feel welcome at the Synagogue and I must say that I also felt lucky to live in a place where I could attend such a joyous occasion without giving it a second thought.

After the service, it was off to my studio. A serious conversation ensued with a customer who was asking my opinion of the news that the Polish Prime minister had been killed in a plane crash visiting Katyn. This is the site of a massacre of Polish soldiers by the Soviet army in 1940. It seems that this sad place will occupy a further sad chapter in Polish history. Are some places just unlucky?

At six pm, I took myself down to the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Mill Hill for another joyous occasion. Whereas the celebration for Harris was celebrating someone starting out on adulthood, a ceremony was being held honouring three parishioners for a lifetime of dedication to the community and their hard work and service for it. One of the people being given this, Kay Lavelle, is the mum of an old friend of mine. Kay is a lovely lady, originally from Ireland. She is one of a team of people who keep the church running, doing all of the little background task that generally go unnoticed (and unthanked) in a large busy parish. She is a lovely person who will always pass the time of day with you. When I was a teenager, her house was one where there was an open door for all the local youngsters. Teas, lemonades and biscuits would be proferred, if you looked hungry a more substancial sandwich would miraculously appear. The house was always filled with young people coming and going and was always happy.

Although Kay still lives in Mill Hill, it was great to see the rest of the family, most of whom had moved away. It was also great to see a packed hall for the reception. Often such ceremonies and awards are given to "the great and the good". It was great to see such a ceremony for someone who thoroughly deserved it and would never have asked for it. One of the other recepients, Stella Vanek exclaimed "I can't believe it" when she received her award. I can and I was pleased to share in the day.

My last port of call was the Mill Hill Tandoori restaurant. A fine meal was had with my beloved wife. Mill Hill is blessed to have two fantastic Indian restaurants, in the Mill Hill Tandoori and the Day of the Raj. Both are run by hard working members of the Muslim community. Both of whom have become good friends over many years.

 As I contemplate my cup of tea, I thought to myself "How many places in the world would I attend a Bar Mitzvah, a Roman Catholic service of thanksgiving and then have a fine meal in a restaurant run by a Muslim friend and not think anything of any of it". Sadly the answer, even in the year 2010 is "Not enough places". Even in this country, there are places where the Jewish community, the Roman Catholic Community, The Irish Community and The Muslim community are viewed with fear and suspicion. Happily The London Borough of Barnet is not one of them. What sort of a place is the London Borough of Barnet? A place I'm proud to live in and a place where I feel very much at home.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Remember Auschwitz - Documentary film





These clips are part one and two of a short documentary  detailing the production of "Remember" by the pupils of Finchley Catholic High School and St Michaels grammar school. I believe that this was the first play ever to be performed at Auschwitz. This production has also been performed at theatres, community centres, schools and synagogues and has been highly acclaimed.

I can think of nothing more important at this time than to remind people what happens if we allow the forces of evil and hatred to gain power. The young people who took part in this production described the experience as life changing. It should also be remembered that the Leader of a National party hoping to win its first seat is on record as having denied that the holocaust is a historical fact.

I think that these young people are an inspiration. I hope you agree.

Friday, 9 April 2010

A masterpiece of mangled english

As ever the watchful Barnet Eye has spotted another example of misleading doublespeak on the Barnet Council website.

Check this press release :-


http://www.barnet.gov.uk/press_releases.htm?id=2201

Now I find the following paragraph to be, shall we say, a little misleading.
In total, the cost of the council's winter maintenance this year looks set to top £700,000. On top of that, £243,000 has already been spent on repairing potholes with another £285,000 of investment from April 2010 onwards needed to carry out the repairs to potholes identified through the council's comprehensive survey of every road in the borough.
How can they talk about fixing holes in the road being an investment. It is a maintenance cost, often caused by previous lack of investment. This gives the impression that more money is being spent to improve the roads. The truth is that this money will just return the roads to a state resembling where they were before the bad weather.

Oh and as to the "comprehensive survey of every road in the Borough". How much did this cost? Why don't they just get the drivers of dustcarts (who cover every road in the borough and are professional drivers) to report back any known pothole location, with a risk severity rating?

How many Million pounds do you walk past every day?

Despite the credit crunch and the recession, property prices have held up remarkably well in Mill Hill. This could be down to low interest rates, it could be down to the area. Given that several of our largest financial institutions technically went bust, it is amazing how little real damage seems to have been done. I bought my house in 1987 for £40,000. It is now worth in excess of ten times that amount. Assuming every house in my street is of a similar value (they aren't, most are worth more), my road is worth £48 Million pounds.

Just think how much all of the property in Barnet is worth. It is a huge, mind boggling sum. Now consider this. Most people don't actually really own their house. The bank/building society do. Until you pay off your mortgage, they have a charge on your property. What happens if they go bust? If just one Bank/ Building Society goes bust, another company or the government would pick up the loan book. If however they all go bust and the whole house of cards collapses, what then?

If there were no companies to lend us money for mortgages left, no one could buy houses and property prices would also collapse. We'd all be left with huge debts, no means to pay them and no assets to cash in. Given that there is no way the whole country could be evicted, what would happen?

I am just asking this because as best I understand it (and I'm no economist) the party most likely to form the next government of Great Britain has a policy of letting banks fail, if they can't meet their commitments (please correct me if I'm wrong). Now I'm not criticising this policy (as I said I don't understand it). I'm just wondering if the most prudent thing to do is sell every asset I own, buy gold bars, hide them under the bed and wait for the economy to fail. That way I'll be able to buy my whole road for next to nothing. A friend who knows about such things tells me the price of gold is the only true way to tell how the economy is doing. The higher the price, the worse a mess we are in.

According to Goldprice.org it's up 21.72% on the year and 159.2% over five years. If I'd sold my house five years ago and bought gold with the cash, I could own my house and the one next door today (along with a flat on the other side). What does this really mean? If gold is "real money" it means that your house is really worth approx on third of what it was then. How does it feel to find out that you've lost two thirds of your biggest asset in real terms and no one had the decency to tell you? You may think that "oh it will be alright, things will recover". Well sadly it isn't that simple. To make up for this difference between what you think your Pound is worth and what it is really worth, the Government has taken out a huge mortgage on all of our behalf (it's called the Deficit). What happens to Mortgages? That's right, we have to repay them or we lose the house. That is why the next few years will be rather difficult for us all, whatever happens. Enjoy your breakfast.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Thought for the day - the real cost of potholes in Barnet

As I ponder my tea and toast this morning one rather strange thought crosses my mind. With all of the potholes around the Borough, just how much has it cost the motorists of Barnet? I don't mean the cost of mending the potholes, but the cost of mending our cars. My brother is a welder and he tells me that he's welding at least one alloy wheel a day. Whilst he's doing rather well, he was telling me of the damage which is being done to our cars. A new term is springing up in the world of the MOT testers who check the roadworthyness of our cars. "Pothole fatigue". This is damage caused to cars by continually hitting potholes at high speed. I myself have been caught out several times recently. Whilst I'm a reasonably careful driver, with recent heavy rain, not all potholes are visible. You know the feeling "CRUNCH".

I was discussing this with a couple of friends and they suggested that maybe the Council could erect hazard notices. These would indicate to us that we are approaching an unrepaired pothole. One of the other effects is that I've spoken to several cyclists who have severely damaged their bikes. Whilst we all understand that the Council is stretched repairing the potholes, the failure to warn of us of road hazards could be construed as negligence in a court of law. Let us hope that the Council considers this seriously and at least puts a few signs up. I would nominate Watling Avenue by Burnt Oak Leisure Centre as the worst bit of road I know in the whole Borough.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Mill Hill Landmarks - St Josephs College

As you approach Mill Hill heading North from London on the A1/A41, the sight of St Josephs College on Lawrence Street looms into view. The gold leafed Statue of St Joseph on the top is a well known and loved landmark. Sadly the college is currently an empty shell, home to pigeons and other nesting birds. The Mill Hill Missionaries moved out in June 2008 and the only vestage of their presence is a residual right to visit the graves of buried priests at the site. The college was first opened in 1871 as a seminary for Priests training to go on missions to far flung places. Interestingly only one Priest who originated from Mill Hill was ever ordained into the Mill Hill order (my cousin Father Jim Fanning who works in Uganda).

For many years the college held a garden fete and open day for the people of Mill Hill where they could enjoy the magnificent grounds. This event was a highlight of the Mill Hill calendar and was mainly run by local people (of many different faiths and denominations). For those of you interested in the full history, there is an interesting article on the Mill Hill missionaries website.

Since the sale of the College to the Matterhorn Group, the site has been used as a location in several films and TV productions. The building is up for sale again and yet again the people of Mill Hill are worried that this beautiful building may be under threat. Lets hope that whoever takes the site over is aware of the affection in which the building is held by all sides of the community.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Mrs Angry gets lucky !

Who says blogging is a waste of time. I know someone who doesn't.

It seems that Mrs Angry has got a result :-

http://wwwbrokenbarnet.blogspot.com/2010/04/long-good-friday.html

Good luck to her. And I'd suggest anyone else who is getting nowhere by "conventional means" take note.

Time to upset a few people

Am I alone in being a bit perplexed not only by Chris Graylings comments about owners of bed and breakfast establishments being able to ban gay couples, but also the reaction to it. If I book a room to stay somewhere, I don't really expect to have to fill out a questionairre about my sex life. It is not unknown for me to go off to watch football in far flung places, sometimes with mates. As these trips invariably involve large amounts of alcohol and maybe a curry afterwards, the requirement is for a cheap room to crash out in and a large greasy breakfast. It is not unusual on football tours for guys to room together (albiet in single beds). Why on earth does Mr Grayling think B&B owners should have a right to pry? If people are such committed Christians, should they also have the right to ban people who are unmarried, people who are committing adultery or even people who eat shellfish. All of these are also banned according to the bible. Christians cannot claim that they have a right to discriminate, because Jesus never said "Though shalt not rent a room in your B&B to a gay couple".

Having said all of that, I don't think his comments warrant the storm they have unleashed. If I was in a gay relationship, I would probably rather not give my business to someone who only allows me in the house because they are forced to by law. In some ways, if owners were allowed to discriminate, it would give people an option to give establishments a wide berth. If it was made crystal clear that the establishment wasn't gay friendly at time of booking to everyone, it would clearly put off far more people than just gay couples. I would say that a scenario where people have booked a room and then are turned away is a different matter as this causes hassle and stress.

On a side note, what I have never understood about the discrimination argument is why it is allowed the other way round. It doesn't really bother me that Gay hostels exist but having read the comments of the Stonewall spokesman about equality and unfairness in the press, how come he thinks these are OK? I tend to think that there should be one law for all.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Mill Hill Landmarks : The University of London Observatory

Many people passing through Mill Hill on the A41 or A1 will notice some strange domed buildings on the West side of the road the just south of Mill Hill Circus Roundabout. This is the  University of London Observatory.  There is a great write up on the history of the observatory on their website and if you are interested in astronomy there are regular open days. Along with the medical research on the Ridgeway, the Observatory is one of the centres of scientific excellence in Mill Hill.

One interesting item of note is that the nearby subway under the A1/A41 was refurbished a few years ago and murals were installed depicting the planets and other objects of astronomical interest.

I am rather keen on these murals. I would go as far as to say that this subway is the finest in the Borough of Barnet. Next time you are passing take some time out to have a look.

Do you know of any other themed subways in the London Borough of Barnet. Are any of them worth a visit from the Barnet Eye? I'm fascinated by local history and our landmarks.The more oddball the better.

Easter Sunday

This week we've seen the two major religious festivals of Passover and Easter. Not being a religious scholar, I'm not going to offer the readers of the Barnet Eye any great insight into either of these festivals. In Mill Hill I've witnessed many people of the Jewish faith walking to and from Synagogue past my house. These are typically family groups of old and young. As they walk they talk, joke, laugh. It's pretty much the same for the people visiting the various Christian churches in Mill Hill for the Good Friday and Easter Sunday ceremonies.

In Mill Hill there was one rather noticable feature of all of these worshippers. They all approached their respective services in a calm relaxed and happy manner. None of them were looking over their shoulders for the police, death squads, mobs of other faiths armed with stones. People are free to practice whatever they want in peace, free of fear. Whilst the Synagogue does employ security to ensure the safety of worshippers, this is more as a sensible precaution against lone nutcases or groups with their bases far from Mill Hill, who have no association with the area. I think I can say with cast iron certainty that anyone who publicly threatened any of the religious establishments in Mill Hill would receive a united front of opposition from all faiths. For as far back as I can remember there have been excellent relations between all of the faiths in Mill Hill.

My mother used to help at fundraising events at the Synagogue in the 1960's and 1970's. It may surprise you to find out that she was a devout Roman Catholic. Why did she help/ One of her best friends was a Jewish lady who organised the events. She used to ask my mother as she knew she was a hard worker. In return, she would help my mother to organise events at St Josephs College, notably the annual garden fete. I once asked my mother about this curious arrangement. She replied that her friend thought that St Josephs College was the best thing about Mill Hill, with its beautiful grounds and landmark tower. She thought it was worth preserving. As to my mother helping at the Synagogue, she said that in a community we should all support our friends. I guess that this practical level of building communities sank in. One interesting thing which a Jewish friend pointed out. St Joseph who sits atop the tower at the college is possibly the only Saint in the Catholic Church who wasn't a Christian, but a Jew. He was never listed as a follower of his son, just as a guide and an influence. Maybe his towering presence in Mill Hill has helped ensure we all get on. A nice thought.

On Easter Sunday, I would suggest that all of us who live in a free and fair society, where we can live our life and practice our faith as we choose should say a prayer of thanks for this privilege. Whatever faith you belong to or even if you have none, when you see people attending services for faiths and denominations you are not a member, it is a cause of celebration. The best guarantee that we can live our lives according to our beliefs is that we are happy for others to do the same.

Have a great Easter Sunday. I gave up Red Wine, Meat and Bread for lent. It is fair to say I will enjoy my Sunday roast today, two stone lighter than when I started.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Are you really a Tory?

No you don't have to tell me, but if you want a bit of harmless weekend fun, check this link (of course you are more than welcome to post your results in the comments box)

http://www.votematch.org.uk/

This website asks your views on various policies and tells you which party your views are most compatable with. Just in case you were wondering (and I didn't cheat) it seems I am most compatable with the Lib Dems policies :-

Figures :-
Lib Dems - 74% agree with
Labour - 59% agree with
Conservative - 39% agree with

I wonder how many of you will vote for a party you don't agree most with. (The website was put together by the Daily Telegraph and Goldsmiths college, so it's hopefully fairly honest and straightforward)

Anyway enjoy !

What is a park for?

Have you been for a walk through Scratchwoods open space recently? I went there and decided to play a little game called "Count the Condom". It seems to me that this particular open space has become a "sex theme park". There is even a Facebook page called the Scratchwood Open Space Dogging Appreciation Society.

The catchphrase for this site is "Anything Goes".

Sadly this isn't true.  Iranians (and Kurds and Afghanis) celebrating Sizdah Bedar, the 13th day of their new year like to go to Scratchwoods with their families and have a picnic. The Council has shut the park and banned this. The reasons? It causes too much litter.

How hard is it to ask these communities to organise a committee to manage the picnics and clean up the litter? A couple of PCSO's on overtime paid for by the Iranian community could easily manage a family festival. Maybe they could go and clean some of the condoms away before as a gesture of goodwill. A few years ago I was stuck on the A1 for nearly an hour due to traffic caused by a huge police operation to shut down this festival.

I'm no prude but I wonder where society is going when we have a culture where Dogging = good and Family Picnics = Bad. This week I've been looking at issues of community and how we need to develop it. I can think of nothing better than family picnics. If there is a large enough community to enforce a ban, then there is a large enough community to engage positively and have a joyous celebration for all of the community. Until 1829 it was illegal to be a Roman Catholic in Great Britain. Now St Patricks day has become a major part of the London calendar. Lets work together as a community to make people who want to stage such celebrations have a pleasant and safe environment. What would be better. A ban for the weekend or a happy festival where all of the litter, condoms, plastic bags and mess were cleaned up afterwards by responsible citizens in the community staging the event.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Mill Hill - Sport at the centre of our community

If you just want to find out about the sports facilities and clubs in Mill Hill, feel free to skip the rambling preamble and scroll down to the list of links to Mill Hills Sports Clubs below :-
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Every Thursday I follow a ritual. At 8.15pm I set off to Powerleague in Pursley Road. Every other week, I pick up big Paul and the following week he picks me up (He's off in Ireland for Easter, so it didn't happen this week). At 8.30pm, we march onto court 1 and kick a ball around for an hour. We then (at least the less smelly ones) have a shower and retire to the Three Hammers pub. I'll have three pints of shandy if I'm driving and something stronger if I'm getting a lift. We talk rubbish for a couple of hours and then set off home. The youngest member of the squad is Julian who is in his thirties, the oldest is John who is 61. Most of us are in our 40's. I've played football at one level or another since I was old enough to kick a ball and along with music is one of my passions in life. Of our squad, Steve, Adel and Russ were friends from my days at Orange Hill Senior High school. Over the 13 years I've been playing with this particular group, I've made some good new friends and it is one of the weeks highlights. I always feel the weekend starts on Thursday night.

I'm sure you're all thinking "very interesting, what the hell is he on about". Well I'm illustrating the point that sport is one of the best ways to keep in touch with old friends, make new friends and stay fit and healthy. My family is very sport orientated. My eldest daughter is a national swimming champion with Barnet Copthall swimming club and my son is the first team goalie with Watling FC under 10's. Whilst sport isn't for everyone (middle daughter prefers art), for those who do play it regularly, it is a vital part of life. Sports build communities. It gives us common goals and interests. It can give us a support network to fall back on. In this, my second in a series on life in Mill Hill, I thought I'd focus on a few of the sports clubs in the area. If you enjoy sport (or have children who might), then hopefully this blog will help you find something to do.
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Swimming -  Barnet Copthall Swimming Club. A club for swimmers of all levels. As well as the elite squad, there is masters swimming, a club squad and various other activities. They also do diving and synchro swimming.
http://www.barnetcopthall.com/ - Club website
http://www.barnetcopthall.blogspot.com/ - Club blog

Football  - Mill Hill Village football Club
Founded in 1868, Mill Hills oldest football team. Play at Burtonhole Lane Sports Ground.
http://millhillvillagefc.intheteam.com/modules/page/Page.aspx?pc=home&mid=30539&pmid=0

Hockey - Mill Hill Hockey Club
Based at Mill Hill Sports Club, Aerodrome Road. Founded in 1881.
http://www.millhillhockeyclub.co.uk/

Squash - Squash at Mill Hill Sports Club.
http://www.millhill.co.uk/squash.html

Cricket - Mill Hill Village Cricket club 
Burtonhole Lane, founded 1868.
http://www.millhillvillage.moonfruit.com/

Athletics - Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers 
Barnet Copthall Stadium. Founded in 1890. Elite Athletics club.
http://www.sbharriers.co.uk/

Gaelic Football - St Keirnans 
Est 1985
http://stkiernans.co.uk/page8.htm

Rugby - Mill Hill Rugby Club 
Copthall.
http://www.millhillrugby.co.uk/

Golf - Mill Hill Golf Club 
Barnet Way
http://www.millhillgc.co.uk/

Brazillian JuJitsu
Bunns Lane Works,
http://www.millhillju-jitsuclub.com/

There are plenty of other sports clubs in Mill Hill, please feel free to add any you know as a comment. One thing all of these clubs have in common is that over the years I've used their facilities in some way shape or form. Some more than others so whilst I've played football at the Village FC, I've only propped up the bar at the Golf club for a friends Birthday party. The point is that they are local amenities. There is a sports scene and a social scene at some level with all of them. The only way these clubs and the dozens of other clubs will thrive is if people join and take part. I happen to believe that the stronger these clubs are, the better for everyone in Mill Hill and thats a damn fine reason to give them a good plug (and just for the record, none of them paid me for the plug either).