Tuesday, 19 March 2019

The Save London Music Campaign welcomes Parliamentary report as good first step towards protecting Live Music Venues

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee of the House of Parliament has today issued its report into the future of Live music in the UK. The Save London Music Campaign was a key contributor and we are pleased to announce that the committee has agreed with many of our recommendations and conclusions, directly quoting our submission on several occasions. The full report is available below.

Key recommendations
The Key recommendations and our commentary

Recommendation 2 – “We recommend the establishment of regional ‘Music Boards’, comprising representatives from the music industry, policymakers and other relevant stakeholders, to advocate for the live music sector and promote its interests in planning and policy decisions. We ask the Government to support the formation of such bodies through its devolution deals, or the Local Enterprise Partnerships in areas where no combined authorities have been established. (Paragraph 19) “ The Save London Music Campaign welcomes this with the proviso that there is strong represenation from the grassroots music sector. If the people running small venues are not at the table this will be a missed opportunity.

Recommendation 12 – “The Government should immediately review the impact of recent business rates changes on the live music sector and introduce new, or extend existing, relief schemes, such as those for pubs or small retail properties, to lessen the burden of business rates on music venues. (Paragraph 71) “ The Save London Music Campaign welcomes this as an important step towards reducing financial pressures on music related businesses.

Recommendation 13 – ” We recommend that in the next legislative session the Government appoints a statutory consultative body to promote the protection of music venues, provide advice to local authorities on relevant planning applications and monitor how ‘agent of change’ is applied in practice around the country. (Paragraph 76) ” We have been campaigning for this since the start of the campaign and welcome this recommendation, asking for this to be given top legaslative priority.
Recommendation 14 – ” We request that the Government supplies us with a full post-legislative memorandum for the Live Music Act 2012 before the end of this parliamentary session. We believe that the Government should amend the Act to extend its provisions to venues with a capacity over 500 and beyond 11pm and ask for the memorandum to consider these proposals and set out the Government’s intentions for them. We also ask the Government to extend the creative industries tax relief to support other forms of music production, in addition to that already given for orchestral performances. (Paragraph 85)” We welcome this and it was a key suggestion of many stakeholders including the Save London Music campaign.

Recommendation 15 – “We ask that in its next ten-year strategy, the Arts Council makes explicit how it plans to redress the balance in funding for grassroots venues and contemporary music, with a view to securing the infrastructure and leadership that will enable them to maximise business opportunities. (Paragraph 91) ” This is a key element of the Save London Music Stretegy for protecting live music venues.

Recommendation 17 – ” The Government’s independent expert panel should engage musicians from different genres, stakeholders from across the music industry, and young people to ensure the new model music curriculum reflects how people make and consume music in the modern age, as well as the industry’s skills-needs now and into the future. (Paragraph 98) ” We are keen to see diverse music genres given the same recognition and status as more established and main stream genres. Arts council support for grassroots venues is something which should have been established many years ago.

Recommendation 20 – “We recommend that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and UK Music convene a taskforce this year comprised of musicians’ representatives and corporate stakeholders to explore how the industry may be supported and incentivised to invest more effectively in supporting grassroots talent. (Paragraph 113) “ We welcome this recommendation. Investment in Grassroots talent is key to the health of the UK Music Scene.
Recommendation 22 – ” We repeat our call for the Government to develop an immigration policy that recognises the broader contribution individuals make, beyond their salary level. We also ask the Government to detail in its response to this report how it will engage with the music industry and consider the industry’s views in the formulation of its immigration policy. (Paragraph 121) ” London is a melting pot of talent and our diversity of musical talent is our USP. We welcome the recognition of this by the Committee.

Save London Music Campaign commentary

Whilst we welcome the report, especially the key recommendations listed above, there are several key points we would like to make. Whilst we believe the committee has done a sterling job, we question why there is not a single London MP on the committee. As London is the cultural hub of the UK this seems to us to be a major structural issue. This is important as there is no MP on the committee which our campaign can liaise with directly as a stakeholder to work towards the aim of preserving and strengthening the grassroots music scene in the Capital. We need a champion for London on the committee. We are disappointed that so much of the report was taken up with discussion of secondary ticketing, which is not an issue confined to Live Music, with major sports events, etc being affected. We would like to see the two streams separated. We do not see secondary ticketing as being an issue for grassroots venues, which are the key for maintaining our live music scene.

This report is a good starting point. We will be continuing to work with the Committee to build on the good work they have done.
The Save London Music Campaign was founded in 2015 and works to promote and protect live music and grassroots music venues in London.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Environment Monday - Why business rates needs reforming to recognise environmental benefit

An eco friendly business
Business rates is a local tax (allegedly). You fill in a form sent to you by the Valuation Office and you pay your rates according to the most complicated formula known to man. What do you get as a business for your pennies? Well you don't get your bins collected. You have to sign up with a commercial service to do that. If like us, you are in a private estate, you don't get street lighting. If like us you pay about £20,000 a year for the privelige, you do feel rather robbed. We provide training and work experience to young people from local schools. We provide equipment and facilities to local charities etc at reduced and sometimes free rates. We have a purpose build eco friendly building with solar panels to generate electricity. All the mess we create from customers buying snacks etc, is kept on site and we pay for it to be recycled. In short, we've done everything we can to be as responsible as possible. Our estate has planted dozens of trees etc on site over the years, which we have contributed to. We keep the site free of graffiti and mess.

But none of these things are considered when the rates bill arrives. We are just one of any number of businesses in Mill Hill, all feeling badly stung when they see the huge hike in costs when the bills arrive today. I fully accept that as a business we have to pay taxes, but I find it galling that we are subsidising other businesses that give nothing back to the local community. If you walk down the Broadway, you will find all manner of litter and other detritus in the street. Fast food outlets are particularly bad for this, I'd estimate in the Broadway that five outlets contribute to 75% of the litter. Yet their rates will be pound for pound the same as other businesses. Have a look at the number of dog ends outside the bookies? Yet, us, in a privately managed estate has no rebate for sparing the public purse.

As for energy, we do everything possible to ensure that we have the smallest carbon footprint possible. Do the rates reward us for this? Did they encourage us to go green? Not at all. The fact that we paid for trees to be planted to help mitigate the pollution from the M1 Motorway? Again, not a bean.

I don't believe that it is the job of companies like us, to in effect subsides other, less eco conscious businesses. We are a local business who's shareholders and stakeholders live in Mill Hill. If we keep the area nice, we benefits. The shareholders of the big companies that are responsible for much of the mess have no reason and no incentive to respect the environment. I've long believed that companies that put something back should be encouraged and those that simply mess things up should pay more.

If a business creates mess and litter, then they should pay to clean it up. If a business doesn't take young people on work experience, then surely they are not contributing to the local community and should pay more. If a business has not invested in green energy, surely this should be recognised. If a business plants trees and shrubs locally, then surely they are contributing to the local environment. You may say that High St business have nowhere to plant outside their business? Well start a scheme so they can plant verges and parks in the locality.

A better quality of life for residents will result in less costs for councils and the NHS. It is called an investment and if firms can be encouraged to participate, then we will all benefit. Sadly in a capitalist society, it is only small, local businesses that ever do it off their own back. Any scheme should be cash neutral to the councils, so that firms that are not contributing to their local society are funding rates cuts to those that are. This may seem controversial but when I walk down the street and see squalor, filth and decay, it is clear that something needs to be done. Having received a whole stack of rates bills this morning, which my business gets nothing at all in return for, I can only think something is badly wrong with the way we tax business. I'm not looking for a hand out, just to see the Govt and Councils doing something to encourage other businesses to do what we've been doing for years

Sunday, 17 March 2019

The Tweets of the Week in the London Borough of Barnet

It's Sunday so here are the tweets of the week, from The London Borough of Barnet

Enjoy! Don't forget to follow any tweeters who tickle your fancy

1.  This is the Barnet Eye Charity of the Year, we are so proud of our team!

2. And these guys were our charity of the year in 2015 and have gone from strength to strength

3. We are keen to keep you updated on this story. So is Superfast72

4. Great tweet from the Mill Hill Echo, we love this picture

5. Great tweet from one of our favourite Cricklewood tweeters

6. Long Lane Pasture is looking good!

7. Historic Tweet of the week with scenes of Trolleybuses in Edgware. Not sure I'd be too happy boarding the 666 to Burnt Oak!

8. Worrying scenes in Finchley yesterday

9. Alasdair Hill is none too happy with the pond maintenance in Grahame PArk

10. A budding star is emerging from Mill Hill!

That's all folks!

Saturday, 16 March 2019

The Saturday List #210 - Ten ways to Free your mind

Are you happy? I don't mean happy as in it''s not been too bad, and things are Ok, I mean when you close your eyes and reflect on your life, do you feel a warm glow or do you feel frustrated, depressed and as if you've failed to achieve the things you wanted to and on reflection this makes you sad?

I ask this because last night I had a brief moment of stunning clarity, in the most unexpected of circumstances.I was playing at the Midland Hotel in Hendon and the gigs was going really well. There was a great crowd and the response from the crowd was fantastic. As a band, we like to clown around when we are playing. I decided to leave the stage and just sit on a table near the front of the stage where some punters were having a drink to play my guitar solo. As I sat there, I was in a no mans land between the band and the audience and I thought "it doesn't get much better than this". Being able to watch the band from the audience perspective, whilst being part of the band was fascinating. There are two ways of looking at it. After  a 40 year career paying in the False Dots, the fact that we are still playing at our local spiritual home in Hendon could be seen either as a stunning success or a complete, abject failure. For me, what could be better than being surrounded by friends, playing great music, on our drummers birthday. As often happens at Dot's gigs, a bunch of people who'd never seen the band before came up and complimented us on a great show. Perhaps the nicest compliment was from a couple who were staying at an Airbnb in Hendon, for a visit to London. They had been out for the day in town, seen the pub as they alighted the station and decided to nip in for a quick half. They stayed till the end of the show and thanked us profusely for giving them such a great night. The guy had been a hippy in the 1960's and told me it had reminded him of his youth, he hadn't been expecting such a show as he alighted the train.

We can all take what we want to take from anything. To me, playing live music in a grassroots venue is what music is all about. Meeting new people, helping save pubs, and having great friends is as successful a life as I could wish for. I realised in this brief moment of clarity that we are all, in some ways, slaves to the expectations of ourselves and others. My father once told me, as I was struggling to deal with a difficult situation in my love life "Son, life is never really as good or as bad as you think it is at the time. The best moments pass quickly and the worst moments seem to last forever, but they do pass". He then said "look, sometimes you can't have what you want, you just have to find someone else to want instead and try not to screw things up next time". That was perhaps the best advice he gave me. He told me that you can only truly be free if you can leave the difficult moments of your past behind. So if you want to free your mind, here are my top ten tips!

1. There is nothing you can do to change the past.
Once something is done, it's done. Endlessly analysing past mistakes and trying to figure out what you did wrong is unproductive (unless you are an air accident investigation officer). If you screwed up, learn from it and move on

2. You live life for yourself.
Whatever decision you make in life, it has to be right for you. Shotgun weddings are seldom happy. Whether it's choosing a uni course because your parents wanted you to study the subject or selling your motorbike because your wife thinks you should start being sensible , if you let someone else dictate your path and force you down a path you don't want, you will never be truly happy and you will always feel resentful.

3. Avoid negative people.
The one thing that is guaranteed to destroy you is negativity. If you have a person who constantly puts you down and makes you feel bad, then it will destroy you. Simply edit them out of your life. If you can't (relative etc), then keep all contact to a minimum and when they engage in conversation, talk banalities and refuse to engage.

4. Learn to value quality over quantity.
We settle for second or third best far too often. We can't have the best all of the time, but we should all make sure we occasionally have the best. Last year we went to Australia on holiday for two weeks, It cost an arm and a leg, but was worth it. It gave us something to look forward to for the year we were planning it and something to look back on. I doubt that going to Majorca ten times would have quite the same uplifting quality.

5. Never accept cruelty.
I detest cruelty above all other things, be it cruelty to animals, children or vulnerable people. I hate snide put downs that undermine people. If you see someone being cruel, then that is a person that you should avoid like the plague. If you are in a position to call them out, do.

6. Learn to take time out.
The hardest thing in todays world, with mobile phones, social media 24 x7 TV is to get quiet time. I go to Church once a week. The phone goes off and I sit at the back and simply reflect on life. Often I don't listen to a word that is said, but I always feel like my batteries have been recharged, I've also done yoga for many years and that is another great way to chill. As mentioned above, playing the guitar is a great release. One of the reasons I love vinyl records is that you put them on and leave them alone until the side finishes. No fiddling around to select the next track. All of these things help keep me sane.

7. Block social media trolls.
It took me a long time to learn this lesson, but if you are interacting with someone on social media, who makes you feel bad, simply block them. In one click of a button, a major source of misery in your life will disappear.

8. Accept pain and misery.
When I was a child, I had no grandparents, they'd all died before I was born. The nearest thing I had was Mrs O'Keefe. She was my mums cleaner. She came from county Kerry and was lovely. She'd play with me and always bring me chocolates and treats. She worked for my mum until she retired. I used to visit her home in Homefield Road Burnt Oak and she'd always make me tea and toast. Towards the end of her life, she developed cancer. I went to see her in hospital shortly before she died. She was frail and weak and in pain. I asked her how she was and she said "It is awful, but I am offering up my suffering for the Holy Souls". She simply accepted her pain and troubles. She said "what will be, will be Roger, just be happy for the good life you have". I went home and cried, I was about 14 at the time. I didn't understand what she was saying. I do now. You have to accept misery and pain as part of the human condition. It makes us appreciate the good times.

9. You learn from listening.
You never learn anything from talking. If you are a master of an art, then it is great to pass on your knowledge, but if you are not, learn to listen. My blogs are full of reminiscences of people's sayings, I hope I listened enough.

10.  Respect everyone.
When we were putting up studio 1, back in 1990, I was fitting a gutter to it (we built it from the ground and did all of the work ourselves apart from wiring and blockwork). An old Irish builder came over and started taking the mickey out of how I was doing it. Anyone who worked in the building trade, would know how such a conversation would go. One of my studio partners was amazed when I took the gutter down and started again. He said "Why are you listening to that old fool?". I replied "How many gutters have you put up?". He replied "None". I said "I imagine he's put up a few more then?". Although the chap was a mickey taker, that was his way of making me do the job properly. My former partner had made the mistake of not respecting him. I volunteer with a disabled charity and I've learned that everyone is deserving of respect. When we lose sight of the fact that every human is entitled to the same level of basic respect and dignity, we lose our humanity. Even when people do terrible things, we should still treat them with respect and dignity. That is why we have rule of law. After the second World War, the top Nazi war criminals were given legal trials and had the best defence lawyers. Had Hitler won, our leaders would have been summarily executed or paraded before the world and given staged show trials. That is why I believe our system is better. Never stoop to the level of those who's actions disgust you. They will only drag you down. Disengage from them, but always be respectful.

Friday, 15 March 2019

The last blog I will ever write about Barnet Council and Capita


Victim of idiocy

Back in January, I announced that I was stepping down from the role as a blogger writing about Barnet Council and all of its many problems. Many people misinterpreted this as saying I would not be writing any more blogs at all, or that I had given up caring about Barnet Council and its problems or that I had sold out (whatever that may mean, although I think the accusation was that I'd taken a large bung to STFU, which is quite ridiculous).

To clarify, I've been writing a book, which has taken up the 2 or so hours a day I used to spend researching stories. Since the  announcement, the stuff I've posted has been stuff I enjoy writing rather than detailed, researched blogs on the Council, which has made up most of my content. The results have been quite interesting. When I was writing about Barnet Council, most blogs got between 1,000-3,000 reads. Ignoring the Council they get between 100-500. That tells me that there is a huge amount of interest in the council and its shenanigans. This is exactly what I expected. If I was writing blogs to get hits, then I would be devastated, but I am more than happy with this. It took me ten years to build the Barneteye brand as a serious political blog. Transforming it into my random topics of interest was clearly never going to be of interest to people who simply want to be kept up to date with the shenanigans at the council. If I was earning enough money from the venture to make it worth while, maybe I'd have continued, but it was always a labour of love and when I stopped loving it, I really couldn't justify the time I was spending ignoring my wife and family.

Yesterday, I was confronted by an angry Mill Hill resident. They suggested that Capita had paid me off to shut up. If anyone knows me, they would know this is quite ridiculous. I'm wealthy and happy enough to be unbribeable. I don't want a bigger house, a flasher car, a string of mistresses in Mayfair flats. I resisted the urge simply to tell said person to simply F@@@ off. I made them a generous offer. I said that if they wanted to blog about Capita on The Barnet Eye, I would make the platform available to them and give them all the help and support I could. At this they said "I've got far too much going on!". I had to bite my lip even harder to refrain from telling them where to go. I said "So am I, so we'll leave it there if thats Ok" and took my leave.

I came home fuming. I have been in a foul mood since. It wasn't helped by possibly breaking my big toe at football last night. When I got up this morning, I really couldn't be bothered to post the usual joke. So over my porridge, I started to think about the situation with Capita and Barnet Council. What do I really feel about the situation? This hasn't changed one iota since I first heard about the Barnet Tories hairbrained scheme to outsource all of the council functions in 2008. The only thing that has changed is that whilst I thought it would be a bad, costly decision that would ultimately collapse in a mess, it has proven far worse than I imagined and the Barnet Tories are far more stubbornly and stupidly trying to pretend it isn't. Last May, in the Council elections, the people of Barnet had an excellent opportunity to throw the Tories out, but sadly the opposition fluffed our lines and they got back with a greater majority than before. As soon as the election was out of the way, the Tories revealed the true extent of the mess. Sadly they bottled it. A sensible group would have got rid of the leader and deputy leader and elected some new ones, without the baggage. But sadly Barnet Tories are not interested in doing the right thing (as a group). They seem to think that managing to con the public, by concealing the scale of the mess until after the election is a jolly wheeze and affirms their cleverness. It doesn't, but like John The Baptist, I simply feel like a voice in the wilderness, waiting for Salome to ask Herod for my head. Wheras John the Baptist was sent by God, I am just a bloke who writes blogs. When it comes down to it. The Barnet bloggers have won the argument but following last May's election, there is no prospect of anything sensible happening for at least another three years. I am lucky, Alexander Solzhenitsyn spent decades in a gulag for opposing communism. I simply have the indignity of being patronised by such intellectual lightweights as Reuben Thompstone and Dan Thomas.

My wife's degree is in Russian Studies. She worked for the Anglo-Soviet Creative Association when she left Uni. They helped produce Sharp and facilitated Michael Palin documentaries made in the USSR. In the 1980's I travelled around the country, visiting places such as Vilnius, in Lithuania, but then part of the USSR, meeting all manner of interesting people. I had to travel, illegally by train, pretending to be a drunken Belarussian peasant. It is amazing how people in authority will ignore you if you look drunk and insane. I was writing a book about the USSR. My thesis was that the whole country was a sham and that it was on the verge of collapse. I beleived that the Soviet Leadership had pulled off the greatest con trick of all time convincing the West that they were a super power. It had been run by a small cabal of not very clever people, who simply refused to face up to the truth that they were running the place into the ground (sound familiar). I also realised tha Gorbachev was actually not cut from that mold. He was an intelligent, decent and wise man. He saw that the USSR needed to face up to what it had become. The rest is history. By the time I'd collected all of my notes, the book was out of date. There was no story.

Now I see the parallels between the USSR under Breshnev, etc and Barnet Council. Stupid men are stupid men, whatever their political persuasion. Maybe I would have found some sort of reason to continue, but I am sorry to say that the Labour Party has made me lose all hope for both Barnet and the UK. My father was a WWII bomber pilot. He'd been a prisoner of war in Rumania and seen the suffering of the people under Axis ledership first hand. He was a fluent German speaker, although he never let on. He told me that he'd heard German's speaking in the camp and overheard SS officers who were responsible for interrogations saying that they knew the war was lost and that they wanted to get their families to the west of Germany so they could be captured by the British rather than the Russians. I asked my father if he felt sorry for them, he responded that he hated the SS as they were murderers and their actions against the Jews was the most sickening crime in the history of humanity. He explained that any potential despot or dictator will always start by picking on Jews. Of all the races on the planet, it is a universal truth that they will attack Jews first. Once you can desensitise people to racism and barbarity through anti-semitism, you can get them to do anything.

What has this got to do with Barnet and Capita? Well it has become clear that the Labour Party has deep problems with anti semitism. Labour are the only realistic alternative as an administration to the Tories. Until Labour sorts its issues with anti semitism out, it is not fit to be in any sort of power, anywhere. The sad truth is that I'd rather have the Weimar Republican incompetence of The Tories in Barnet than a party that is systemically anti semetic. I do not believe a single Barnet Labour Councillor is an anti Semite, but they are all card carrying members of a party that has failed to sort an issue out over three years, that should have been sorted out in five minutes. Every single person in the Labour party, who has posted anything anti semitic, should have been immediately suspended from the party. Labour should have set up a commission independent of the Leadership, made up of sensible people such as Councillor Danny Rich, who could adjudicate and either clear them, if there was a mistake or a misunderstanding or kick them out. You may ask what constitutes a "mistake or misunderstanding" in the issue of something as black and white as anti semitism. I will give two examples. Sometimes people are added to Facebook groups with racist content without their permission. That is clearly no grounds for someone being kicked out. Another example is where you retweet or like something on social media, which is part of a thread that has anti semetic content. Occasionally people start out by saying reasonable things, then post a series of ever more racist comments. Someone who likes the first post and doesn't see the rest of the thread (possibly as it hadn't even been posted) could make a reasonable case.

Labour can sling people out when it wants. I should know, I was expelled in 2010 for a technical infringment of party rules (which I could prove was incorrect as I wasn't even a member at the time).

So in summary, the reason why I will not be writing any more blogs on the subject of Capita and Barnet Council is quite simple. The case that Capita have failed and should be slung out has been incontrovertably made, the incompetents who could change it won't listen and with a bigger majority actually think they are cleverer than ever. The main opposition are a party that is simply beyind the pale. There is no prospect of a change for a minimum of three years and I have other things to do. So I thought I'd do my very best to explain in a rather long and rambling blog, why I simply can't be bothered anymore.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

What has gone wrong with English football

Picture courtesy of Reddit.comReddit.com
In any other country in Europe, a match between two teams that have won the European Cup/Champions League would be one of the games of the season. In the 1982-3 season, the match between Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest would have been between the current European Cup holders and the team the team that had won it twice in the previous three tournaments. Last night, the two teams played in a game to try and secure a Championship play off place.

I was watching Liverpool thrash Bayern Munich at the time. This ensured that there would be four teams in the quarter finals. One may think that this would indicate that English football is in rude good health. Apparently Manchester City (my team) are the favourites. The departure of PSG, Bayern and Real Madrid have certainly opened a few possibilities. I thought I'd have a look at the list of English winners.


Manchester Utd - 1967

Liverpool - 1977
Liverpool - 1978
Nottingham Forest - 1979

Nottingham Forest - 1980
Liverpool - 1981
Aston Villa - 1982
Liverpool - 1984

Manchester Utd - 1999

Liverpool - 2005
Manchester Utd - 2008

2011 - Chelsea
What this means is that even if one of the four English teams win, the haul for the 2010's will not exceed the 1970's or 80's.  The poor performance in the 1990's is partly explained by the hangover from the five year ban from 1984 following the Heysel tragedy. But that expired nearly 30 years ago. The amount of money sloshing around in the Premiership dwarfs every other league. The interest in football in the Uk is still phenominal. The Championship, where Forest and Villa play has the fifth largest fan base of any league in Europe. On Saturday, I went to watch Leyton Orient play Wrexham in the Vanarama League. There were 6,500 fans. The week before Wrexham had 7,500 for a visit from Chesterfield. There is huge interest in football at all levels, huge amounts of money in the Premiership, the best players in the world in our top teams. But it seems we can't buy the Champions League and the National team have been serial underperformers for the best part of 50 years.

You don't need to be a genius to work out that something is seriously wrong. The paltry haul in the new millenia is indicative of a failing system of administration. Our top teams have been fighting with one hand (or foot ) tied behind their backs for decades. The number of times that teams in the CL have had to play derbies and other CL teams the weekend before/after a key fixture is quite ridiculous. Whilst it is true that there are no easy PL fixtures, no one can claim that playing the likes of Huddersfield and Cardiff poses quite the same level of stress on a team as a Liverpool v United fixture or and Arsenal v Spurs. To schedule such fixtures away from key CL games is a complete no brainer. If logistics mean that this cannot always be done, then give the Champions and runners up priority in the scheduling. If City and Utd are to meet in the league, neither will want it the weekend before or after a CL fixture. It will cut the number of injuries and give players proper recovery time. The Premiership schedules are purely organised around making money for TV companies, in turn, they make their money from betting companies. Whilst we all understand the realities of this, simply asking that the PL schedules take some account of the stresses on the teams we want to see do well is not too much to ask. The conspiracy theorist in me says that when something doesn't make sense, follow the money. By stacking match schedules in the way they do, we tend to get perverse results. As anyone knows, when the favourite slips, the bookies cheer. Worth a thought.

And then lets look at The Championship. Home of two European Cup winners. Does the Championship do what it should? Does it really provide a decent environment for teams such as Forest and Villa to recuperate for a return to the Premiership. It seems to me that a totally different skill set is required, for both managers and players. That is why so few championship managers succeed  in the Premiership. I believe fans are also short changed. Fixture schedules around TV times give away fans some truly horrible journeys at unreasonable times of day. Scheduling local derbies for a lunchtime kick off makes huge sense. Pitting teams from opposite ends of the country at times when the fans simply cant attend is, to me, simply a ploy to bump up TV audiences.

And at the Vanarama League. I stood with the Wrexham fans on Saturday. It was a lunchtime kick off. This meant fans left from Wrexham at around 4.30am to get there for 12.30. That so many went is a credit to them. Both Wrexham, a team that have played in Europe and Orient. a club with a hugely rich history,  have had major financial problems, Wrexham have languished in the non league arena for a decade.

All of this whilst PL players are earning over £200,000 a week. It is beyond comprehension that such clubs can be allowed to flounder. It is a disgrace, the fans are the lifeblood. How can the FA possibly think that allowing Wrexham to go bust would serve anyone. The club is now run by a supporters trust, the fans are on year contracts and there is no real prospects of improvement to the finances, unless a promotion can be secured. They are always competing with teams like the O's who have recently come down and are relatiely more well off. I don't think Wrexham should be given preferential treatment over the O's, but I think with all the money in football, no club should ever go into administration. The FA should be given the power to take over and put an action plan in place to keep them afloat. The 15 point deduction is not a fair way of dealing with financial problems. Any directors of a failed club should be suspended from all football for life and lose all their money invested. Tighter financial control so that the situation cannot happen again. There is the argument that financial doping is unfair to other teams. Proper regulation and rules about seat prices, loans and investments would sort that out. If spivs and chancers knew they'd lose the lot if they were caught doping the finances, it would stop.

I would also put a 5% levy on all players in the premiership to be used for grassroots and youth football. The reason is that every player in the English Premiership has benefitted from the kids who play football every weeek in the parks. The English players who came through the system, learned playing on parks, against other players who didn't make it. The expensive foreign stars earn a fortune from kids who buy shirts with their names on. So put some back. When my son played for Watling Youth FC, we had collections to buy boots and kit for boys who's parents wouldn't or couldn't pay for kit. Surely it is not unreasonable to ask that the players help such kids out and also pay towards making sure the pitches they use are playable.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

The Wednesday Cultural Round Up and The Wednesday Poem - Lurkers - Aint Got a Clue

Lets start with our weekly Poem. This isn't really a poem, it is the lyrics to Aint Got A Clue by The Lurkers. The Lurkers were a 1970's second wave Punk band from Fulham, that I rather like. Aint Got A Clue was the anthem. This week this track and this band are very appropriate choices

Ain't Got A Clue - The Lurkers

Afterall, you can go too far
In the past, they know what you are
Is it true? What will I do?
Ain't got a clue!
'N' neither have you, na na noo
Johnny's having a good time
And I think I'm having a good time
Is Billy's having a good time?
I dunno, I dunno, I really dunno
What d'ya mean you dunno?
What's a matter with you?
I dunno, I dunno what's a matter with me
I just dunno, I just don't know anything anymore
I dunno, I dunno
So sad I'm always running around
Looking for fun all over town
Is it true? What can I do?
Ain't got a clue!
Afterall, you can go too far
In the past, they know what you are
Is it true? What can I do?
Ain't got a clue!
I said dancing too
What can I do
Ain't got a clue!
Oh well a dancing too
What can I do?
Ain't got no clue!

Songwriters: Pete Lipscombe
Ain't Got a Clue lyrics © Universal/Momentum Music 3 Ltd., UNIVERSAL-MCA MUSIC PUB OBO UNIVERSAL MUSIC PUB. LTD.
Local Culture Round Up


Interactive Minecraft Gaming

Arts Depot Theatre

Live Music at The Midland Hotel to celebrate the saving of the pub!

This Friday at 8pm in Hendon

Details of the Event Here


Our video of the week

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

A victory for the Barnet Eye in the Edgware Railway battle

Back in January, we alerted the residents of Edgware and locality to the fact that the owners of The Railway Hotel in Edgware had submitted a planning application to convert the car park into a coach station.

Well there is some good news. It has been rejected, we are proud to have helped get enough objections to have made the council take action. Full details here

Change of use of part of site from A4 (Public House) to Sui Generis use to provide for the creation of a minibus drop off zone on existing hotel grounds (Retrospective application) (amended description).
Staff Quarters Railway Hotel Station Road Edgware HA8 7AB
Ref. No: 19/0114/LBC | Received: Wed 09 Jan 2019 | Validated: Fri 11 Jan 2019 | Status: Refused
Please let us know of any violations.

Oh and don't forget to joinis for the party to celebrate the Saving of the Midland Hotel This Friday, from 8pm. Live music and free entry!

Monday, 11 March 2019

Unbordered - A Guest blog by Andrew Evans

By Andrew Evans,

I never met my mother's father and that may be part of the appeal. He's... a story... a rumour. I knew he'd somehow survived the holocaust, made it to London, changed his name, served in the RAF and settled in England. But the details were few because of something he did in his 'controversial third act' that meant he never saw his daughter again.

As I awoke to the news that the UK had voted to leave the European Union, I felt (as I guess many librapolitan millennials did) that a part of my identity had been taken away. Determined to avert this Brexistential crisis, I set out to find out more about my enigmatic grandfather (there may also have been a more selfish motivation of somehow using this ancestry to hold on to my EU passport!).

It's a story that took me from Lemberg to Lisbon to London. From escaping the Nazis to fighting the Nazis. AND from stamp dealing to French prisons and Freemasonry. I was able to draw worrying parallels of fascism then vs now. I also examined my own feelings about being intrigued by and drawn to a man who didn't always act kindly.

Inspired by the likes of 'Serial' and 'This American Life' I began to tell his story in a podcast, with stunning contributions from Royal Air Force historian Kris Hendrix (of the RAF Museum in Hendon) and international lawyer Prof. Philippe Sands, best selling author of East West Street. And, of course, my mother Lynda Evans!

Eventually I was left with one missing piece of the puzzle - one last person to find! The quest continues and you can be a part of it...

 Away from the world of podcasting, Andrew Evans is a writer-producer, writing and recording all the tracks featured on the Unbordered soundtrack https://unborderedpodcast.com/soundtrack/ - born and living in Barnet with his wife (and  2 cats).More info at www.andrewevansmusic.com

Andew is looking for Kickstarter Funding to complete his project, find out more here - https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/unbordered/unfinished-the-conclusion-to-the-unbordered-podcas?ref=project_link

You can be a part of the next chapter of Unbordered by supporting the project on Kickstarter

Environment Monday - Five money saving eco tips that cost nothing and save the planet!

Think global, act local. How can you save money and help the environment with minimal effort? Here's a few tips.

1. If you want a cup of tea, fill a cup and pour it into the kettle. This will mean you use exactly the amount of energy you need to get your cuppa. The average kettle holds enough water for five cups of tea. This costs 2.5p to boil. If you have five cuppas a day with a full kettle. thats £45.62 a year. Using just one cup costs £9.12 a year. That's £36.50 a year extra in your wallet. If everyone did that, it would make a massive difference to the CO2 output of the country.

2. Dry your washing on the washing line.
According to Confused About energy, using a tumble drier five times a week costs £105.95 a year. If you could use a washing line twice a week, that would be a saving of £42.38 a year. Yes, I know that many in the Borough of Barnet live in flats, all the more reason to go back to homes with gardens!

3. Fill up your freezer.
According to B-Line Services, a Fridge Freezer uses £110 a year in electricity. The fuller that a fridge or freezer is, the more efficient. Putting liquids in a fridge mean that it uses more energy, putting a box of cornflakes or a towel, which are largely filled with air, will use less. If your freeer is usually half full, putting towels on top of the produce will massively improve efficiency. It will also mean that if there is a power cut, the food will stay frozen for longer. It also means that when you open the door, less energy is used bringing the temperature back down to the operational level. This should save you around £25 per year.

4. Get up an hour earlier in Summer
Relatively cheap electric lighting has changed our behaviour. People used to work their day around daylight hours. Now we simply switch on a light. Each 60 watt lightbulb costs around .7p an hour to run. It is estimated that when we are up and around, we have a minimum of four lights on in a house. If you went to bed an hour earlier in the dark and got up an hour earlier when it is light for the six months of summer time, you would save around £25 if you use four less light bulbs worth of electricity. With watch again, just watch BBCQT or whatever you enjoy before you go to work over breakfast.

5. Make a commitment to walk/cycle for all journeys of under a mile.
In the UK, 23% of car journeys are less than a mile. The shorter the journey, the less economical. If that is three car journeys a week, at £1 a journey (rough estimate probably on the low side), that's £156 a year and you'll be fitter and healthier to boot.

So how much can you save with some rather minor changes? Around £280 a year. Not bad for nothing is it?

Sunday, 10 March 2019

The Tweets of the Week in the London Brough of Barnet - 10/3/2019

In a world of madness, we are lucky to live in a sea of tranquility! (oh that's on the moon, does that mean we are loonies!). Here is a round up of my favourite tweets in our locallity

1. As it's Sunday lunchtime and I'm hungry, lets starat with some tasty treats from Bunrt Oak!

2. a little bit of local history

3. Jazz in Mill Hill

4. Some terrible news

5. Stormy weather

6. Some nioe piccies of Arrendene

7. Exciting times in Cricklewood

8. Our favourite of a lovely series of tweets

9. This looks great, hope they do a version for grown ups

10. This is important, check it out


Friday, 8 March 2019

The Friday Joke - 8/3/2019 - #InternationalWomensDay Special

As it's International Womens Day, I thought we'd have an appropriately themed joke.

This is taken from a selection chosen by Katy Brand for The Daily Telegraph,  I thought this was the funniest (but then again I'm a bloke).

"Gravity is the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age" - Tina Fey

Tina Fey
Have a great #InternationalWomansDay and Great weekend.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Social Media for Business - A few tips and hints

I just thought I'd write a short blog on the subject of using social media for business. I am writing as the owner of a business that has grown our turnover by 120% in five years. Social media has played a significant role in raising brand awareness. We were ealry adopters of social media for business. We employ a specialist consultant on a retainer basis to advise us and manage our IT structure and social media strategy. It has certainly worked for us, in the real world, which means the bottom line of our accounts.

There are a few rules to bear in mind.

1. Trust is key
If you are trying to get people to spend hard cash with your business, the absolute first principle, in any business area is trust. If any aspect of your social media presence undermines a customers ability to trust you, then you are damaging your business. Don't make claims that you can't support. Don't fill people's timeline with irrelevant or spammy content.

2. Be sensible in your content
We are a Mill Hill based business in the music arena, so our content has three themes. The first is music related, especially when it features our customers. This showcases how we can help customers. The second is Mill Hill related content. This builds the message that we are part of the community and the third is useful info that may help customers, such as travel disruption tweets etc. All of these help us connect with customers and works towards building brand awareness and trust

3. What your audience is saying matters
You can tweet "we're brilliant" as much as you like and people will ignore it, unless you can show why. When your customers say you are brilliant, then that is when people take note. Some people are tempted to set up spoof accounts to praise themselves. If you get caught out, this will be very counter productive. Let your work earn you the plaudits.

4. If people criticise you, learn don't argue
If you are an individual, then arguing is fine. If you are a business and you get a negative comment, take it on board and learn. If someone slags off your business, work out why and fix the problem. If it is purely malicious, simply apologise and ask them how the problem can be fixed. You will then look like the good guys, even if you are seething.

5. Use real pictures
It is tempting to use Gifs to sell your products and company. You might think a GIF is hilarious but if you are the 17th person to post it on a timeline, you just look like anyone else in the sea of bland tripe that is social media. At least your own contact is unique.

What are your top tips, if you run a successful business?

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Culture Wednesday and The Wednesday Poem - 6 Words

It's Wednesday, so here is our poem. This weeks is a bit different. It is a six word poem. The idea is that you read it, shut your eyes, ponder on the words and write your own poem from the images it conjoures up. I often do thi as a method of stress release. I've noticed that on social media, many people lose their sense of humour and sense of proportion. I'd recommend this as a remedy. Switch off the device, take two minutes out and enjoy. This poem is called She

She just lies there glowing, 

Copyright 2019 - Roger Tichborne 

Culture Wednesday

Our roundup of up and coming things of note in the Borough over the next couple of weeks


Sunday March 10th

The Feelgood Band at Spirit of Torrington Old Finchleians

Friday March 15th

The False Dots live at the "We've saved the Midland Party" at The Midland Hotel, Hendon

Other links

Today's pick of the Youtube music videos is a real fave of mine. As we have a Feelgood show at The Torrington this weekend, checkout them in their heyday!


Tuesday, 5 March 2019

How to succeed in the music industry with no talent at all - Chapter 1 taster

Join us for our 40th Birthday party
As regular readers will know, I've largely taken a break from Political Blogging to write a book. It is provisionally entitled "How to succeed in the music business with no talent at all". I lied slightly in the title of this blog. This is actually Chapter one of the second half of the book, which is the self help guide section, and it is a slightly edited down taster for the book, as people have asked how it is going.

The first section is the story of how I got where I am and how I acquired the knowledge, so there is a proper context. A couple of people have been given the early draft, for feedback, which has been good. They have told me that this section has really been useful to them and helped them get a proper perspective on what they are trying to do. They also told me that advice is not only pertinent to the music industry.

I'm currently looking for a literary agent and publisher. If you are interested, get in touch.

Chapter 1 - What is Success?

So what is the ‘secret of success? Before we can talk about what the secret is, maybe we should consider what success is. We can all agree that bands like the Rolling Stones and The Who are successful, by just about any measure, but anyone who tells you that they can guarantee you that level of success for a new artist is telling porkies. If you want a job that pays a regular income, so that you can drive a nice car and live in a nice suburban house, then music is probably the wrong game for you. Music is a high risk business and you can swing between fabulous wealth and being completely skint in no time at all. This usually happens when the tax bills start rolling in (more about that later), just as the sales start to dry up. If your first priority is to be rich, become an investment banker and play in a band for fun. Some of my best studio customers do that and are more than happy with the arrangement.

If you want to be a success in the music industry, start by working out what success is for you. Work out how many years of your life you are prepared to spend trying to achieve it and how much of your time you can dedicate toyour musical career. If you are seriously trying to make it and the answer is not "every single second I can productively spend" then your chances are success are very slim. Once you've become successful, you can take your foot off the gas, but do it before your career is properly established you have virtually no chance at all. If you are working with a band, make sure they have all bought into this. If you want to make music your primary source of income, you will have to accept that there will be times when making ends meet will be a struggle. That is why it is vital to know what your criteria for success is. What do you want to achieve and where do you want to be in three, five and ten years time? What aspects of music give you a kick and what elements of being involved in music excite you.You also need to work out who you need to engage to realise your particular dream.

Rog T in 1979 at the official studio opening
I always advise up and coming musicians, who are serious about getting into the industry, to sit down and work out what they want out of their music career. Whatever you want, you won’t get there without knowing what that really is. If you simply have a plan to be in a band and see where it goes, you are playing the lottery with your career. Often musicians say "we'll get a manager and they will sort all of that out". Musicians are creative people, they want to create and often they want other people to facilitate the environment that they create in. If that is how you envisage your career panning out, then success is to pay someone to manage your business affairs and for you to produce the music to earn the money to pay both of your wages. Your plan to achieve that should be to persuade the best possible manager that they can earn enough money managing your business affairs to make the venture worth their while. If you want to engage someone to manage you, the first question for them should be "If your plan works, what will my career look like in three years time?". If they can't spell out a vision that sounds like your definition of success, then they probably aren't the right manager for you. I'd always ask "How much will I be making if things go well". Ask them to outline how the plan works and what the measures of success are. If they say  "You'll be gigging three nights a week and earning £250 a night for playing cover songs at venues on the circuit I am connected with, these are the other bands I deal with and where they are playing"  then if £750 a week is not enough for you and you have loftier ambitions, then that is not the manager for you. On the other hand if that pays your bills and satisfies your aspirations for being a working musician, then that will be a suitable offer to accept. Whatever the plan or what a manger can offer to you, it is only worth persuing if it delivers what you want for your personal aspirations.

If you want to be a success in a niche market, which is a valid objective for many musicians with a passion for a particular genre, and many make a decent living doing it, then you need to understand the economics of the musicians who are in that genre and 'successful'. Many successful Jazz musicians I know  pay the bills by teaching and doing other jobs, but the gigs pay for the luxuries in life and give them a purpose. That is success, as they feel fulfilled. 

Rog T with the False Dots in Belgium in 1985
If you want to be professionally involved in the music business but in a non creative role, such as a band manager, studio owner, music lawyer, roadie, sound engineer or PA, then you need to have expert knowledge of your subject and be able to understand and work with musicians. I know a few music lawyers for instance, who make an extremely good living representing musicians. It is a highly specialised and technical area. The ones I know were/are amatuer muscians who studied law and decided to specialise in the area. The good ones have built long term relationships with their clients and have a high degree of mutual trust. For them, success is having a great client roster. The managers I know who are successful equally have a clear vision of what is success for them. They take on projects that they know can deliver a financial return, or at least have a prospect of it. The hardest area to succeed in as a new band manager is managing a new, independent band playing original material. It can take years building up the contacts to deliver success in this genre and it is never really guaranteed. Defining what is success for such new artists can be difficult, but as a professional manager, it must always involve paying the bills (unless you are massively wealthy and are just doing it for the fun of being involved with music). For someone running a studio, turning over a profit on your business and building a great customer roster is a good aspiration, and measure of success. For crew, such as roadies, soundmen and all of the rest of the people who make gigs happen for both large scale tours and smaller regular venues, success is often simply getting a continuous supply of work. Often this means being involved with an agency that fixes you up with work, but word of mouth recommendation is perhaps the way to get the best jobs. Often roadies, soundmen etc start out as mates of the band and if they are good at it, this develops into a full blown career in music logistics etc. Some start out playing in their own band, then help out mates who get a tour etc. After a few years, they realise that the part time fill in job has become their career. Many experienced crew tell me that they wished that they'd realised they'd made it their real career when it clearly was. My advice is that when something becomes your primary source of income, that is your job and that is what you should define your success in terms of. As musician often take temporary assignments to fill in, how do you know? I would say that a simple way to work out what your real job is would be that if you have earned 75% or more of your money from a particular activity for a period of two years or more, this is your job. It is worth planning around that (unless you have made a big career change in the last six months etc). 

Rog T performing in Camden with The False Dots
I would also advise you to consider what is not success in the music business. Lets start with the big one. Whatever you do, it is worth remembering that 'being famous' is not being successful in the music business. Fame is just an enabler for being able to generate enough money to meet your personal aspirations. If you can't pay the bills, you will have to get a day job and will soon be forgotten. Getting a deal is not success, you haven't made a penny and you have no career until your music is generating money. Being played on the radio or being on TV is not success, it is a break that may open the door to success if you play your cards right. Likewise, being in a support band on a major tour, or bottom of the bill at a festival is not success. It can open the door, but you have not walked in and you are not supping at the table of success. It is vital to recognise this, as when these breaks happen, it is the time to up your work rate and efforts, not to back off. The biggest mistake I see and this happens time and time again, is when a great young band or artists gets a deal, gets lots of fan attention and thinks they have made it, before a bill has been paid. They take their foot off the gas, they lose focus and then it all falls down around them. Often the saddest thing is when it all goes to a young artists head, before they've actually earned a penny. They lose friends, fall out with family and then find that when the expected wealth fails to materialise, they have nowhere to turn. I would advise that whatever you see as your criteria of success, make sure that the people you love have a piece of it. They will be there to catch you when the way the wind is blowing changes, which it inevitably will.

The final factor to bear in mind is that what you define as success today may change. So tomorrow, you may need a new plan to meet the new criteria. Once you have achieved what you define as success, you need a new definition. In my case, in 1994, I defined success for our studio business plan as having four studios and a shop within five years. We achieved this in three and a half years. If we'd not redefined success, then we'd have not developed. So constantly review your goals.

To sum up,  the first lesson is work out for yourself what you define as success. If you don’t know what you are aiming for, you will always miss.

If you are interested in finding out more about "How to succeed in the music business with no talent at all" PLEASE CLICK HERE TO EMAIL ME FOR DETAILS

Roger Tichborne, founded started a punk rock band called The False Dots and set up a music studio in a derelict caretakers cottage in 1979, with a bunch of musicians needing a place to practice. As the band developed, becoming regulars on the London music scene and touring Europe, the studio became a central part of the London music scene. Although the band is now a purely for fun venture, gigging mostly at community events and to raise money for charities,  the studio is one of London's most successful independent studios, attracting over 2,000 customers a week through its doors. Rog wrote a column for the Barnet Times and then founded his owner Barnet Eye blog, which has had over 2.5 million views, made documentary films, had a successful acting career and set up the Save London Music Campaign. He has appeared on various TV shows such as London Tonight, The One Show and BBC London News and is a regular contributor on the BBC Radio London Robert Elms show. Rog has also regularly mentored young musicians in association with organisations such as NCS, runs a music festival and organises gigs and charity fundraisers