Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Why Boris Johnson lying about a party matters

Regular readers will know that in January, my cousin Theresa, who is six months younger than me and who I grew up with passed away from covid. Being from the Irish tradition, her Dad was my mum's brother, a family wake is a key part in the family's process of dealing with grief and marking the passing of a loved one. 

For many years, as Theresa suffered from Downs syndrome, I'd take her on holiday to Lourdes in the summer. When we staged the party for the reopening of the Friern Barnet Library, after the protests and occupation, Theresa came down with her helpers to join us and boogie to my band. But there was no wake, no party to celebrate her life. We accepted this because Theresa's death brought home the severity of the situation. What enrages me is that it is a green light to people to behave in a way that puts the lives of people who are vulnerable at risk. We eventually had the wake in August, but it is more than possible that the reason Theresa caught covid was because someone didn't follow the rules. That is the real harm that Boris has caused. He has given a green light to everyone who doesn't give a stuff for vulnerable people.

There are two ways you could react to the behaviour of Boris and his team. You could say "Well if he doesn't care, why should I?" and put other people who are vulnerable, such as Theresa's life at risk. Or you could say "I do care bout vulnerable people, I will do what I can to protect them and I will show my disdain for Mr Johnson and his government at the ballot box". The choice is yours. Choose a side.

The Barnet Eye Advent Calendar - 8th December

Welcome to the Barnet Eye advent Calendar. Every day during advent, we'll be giving you a little treat and also plugging a great local charity, so you can be entertained and then show your goodwill to all men!
Todays treat is a real classic for anyone from the Hendon area, especially those who attended St Marys Primary School in Hendon in the early 1960's. This is an absolute classic. For those of us who's Primary Schooling was in the 1960's it is a reminder of how primary schools used to look. The footage of Hendon is also quite beautiful.

St. Mary's 1963 - 4 Sir Sydney Samuelson from Peter Samuelson on Vimeo.

And our Charity today is the Barnet Citizens Advice Bureau.  It is funny to find that many people think that the Citizens Advice Bureau is run by the Government. It isn't, it's a Charity and it needs help and support - You can find out more about Barnet CAB here - many people use the Citizens Advice Burea and it has rescued many people from difficult situations. Maybe we should all put a little bit back into it, either with some time or a donation. Please give this some thought. If you need advice or need to know more about Barnet CAB click here for the about us page and you can follow them on Twitter here.

Tuesday, 7 December 2021

The Barnet Eye Advent Calendar - 7th December

So today our treat is a Pathe News film of the Hendon RAF display in 1937. I am just old enough to remember the days when Hendon was a working airfield and I can remember the Red Arrows flying over for the display. The site became Grahame Park Estate. You don't realise what an enormous area it was until you see a film such as this. It is interesting to note that only two years before World War II the pride of the RAF was largely bi planes, with only a cameo appearance of a couple of single wing planes. I also wonder whether we'd get such a glorious display of bombing in a London Borough today.

Today, with the feature on Hendon, we look at one of my favourite charities, the PDSA which have a shop in Hendon - - for many people with pets, who cannot afford the huge cost of private vet bills. Families receiving benefits or getting help with Council tax payments qualify for medical treatment for their pets with the PDSA. Pets provide asource of friendship and companionship for many people. If you have a pet and you are struggling to make ends meet, please consider getting help from the PDSA. 
If you can afford petcare, please consider a donation so the pets of those that can't don't suffer unnecessarily. 

Let us know of gems in your neck of the woods and charities you'd like us to feature.

Monday, 6 December 2021

Ripped off and left in the lurch by the RAC

I have been a member of the RAC for twenty five years. My father was a member for 40 years, before he passed away in 1987.  He always said that he trusted the RAC as they had a Royal Warrant and that if you had a car, you wanted a company that would make sure you were looked after. Over the years, I've rarely used the RAC. In fact, I think that in return for thousands of pounds of membership fees, I've probably called them out around half a dozen times, each time usually for a flat battery. Usually this has taken five minutes to resolve. In May, my Vauxhall Corsa had a flat battery. An RAC patrol came out and informed me that the battery was dead. He said that he could supply a premium battery for £109. As my brother is in the motor trade, I can usually get them for £40-50, but I wanted to get the issue resolved, so I went with the expensive option with a proper guarantee. I knew if ever I had a problem, the Trusty old RAC would be at my side. Yesterday, I found that my shiny new battery had failed. This was annoying, but such things happen. I called the RAC and a patrol was duly despatched. By coincidence, it was the same patrol driver. He did various checks. As a result of what happened next, today I've made an official complaint to the RAC and asked for my money back for the battery as well as a pro rata refund on my membership. This is the text of my complaint

I wish to cancel my membership immediately. Yesterday I requested help with my Vauxhall Corsa that had a flat battery, supplied for a cost of £109 earlier in May this year by the RAC. I was informed that this was a premium product at the time, as opposed to the regular cost batteries at £40-50 from Halfords. I was also informed it was under warranty. Due to the pandemic, I have done minimal miles in the car since May. I was informed by your operative that as we had not done sufficient milage, the battery would not be replaced under warranty. I have been a member of the RAC for over 25 years, paying thousands in membership fees, which clearly was of no imprtance to the RAC. As I informed your operative, I had assumed that the RAC was an honest and reliable company that would not sell me dodgy products or leave me in the lurch. I was clearly wrong. Under the sale of goods act, I do not believe that it is reasonable for a premium battery to last six months before completely failing, regardless of warranty terms, and I would expect the RAC to appreciate that our driving patterns are different in a global pandemic . I am entitled to a refund on this dodgy battery and I have no wish to have any further dealings with the RAC. I have made minimal callouts over the years and feel that my loyalty is not valued by your organisation. Your operative informed me that it was my fault for not driving the car enough. Much as I would love to have work, as a professional musician, I do not believe it is reasonable for your company to expect me to drive thousands of miles during a pandemic, merely to keep a sub standard product, which cost twice the going rate, in order.

The RAC patrol informed me that he'd informed me at the time of sale that I had to do a certain mileage for the warranty to be valid. I have no recollection of this, although I doubt he's lying.  I do not however believe that, under the sale of goods act, his argument could be sustained. I would have assumed that the RAC would see how much I've payed over the years and have enough common sense to consider the lost goodwill. I informed the operative that if he did not supply a new battery, I would be ending my RAC membership immediately. He informed me that if I did that was up to me and none of his business. 

The reason I needed the car was because I was actually bringing a sound system for the Mill Hill Synagogue's community event in the Mill Hill Town Square. I was left completely in the lurch. Fortunately a friend was able to assist and I managed to just about get set up on time.

There are several questions to consider.

1. Why would anyone subscribe to a vehicle recovery service that sells dodgy products, uses iffy get outs to avoid helping customers and places no value on loyalty of customers?

2. Just suppose I'd been in the middle of nowhere rather than at home. I'd have had no choice but to spend another £109 on a battery to get home. Why would any sane person run that risk, especially when the RAC membership is quite expensive?

3. My parting words to the RAC patrol man were "You and your organisation have failed me. I will asking for a full refund on my membership as I no longer wish to have any dealings with your organisation". I have to assume that his system meant this was fed back. This morning, I received a questionairre from the RAC asking my opinion of the service I received. I told them. You may wonder whether they got in touch. They did. They sent me this email after I filled in the survey. You really couldn't make it up. It was almost as if they were deliberately taunting me (although I know enough about large companies to think it is more likely that they are simply useless). 

I retained membership of the RAC as I had believed that they were a premium service, with a Royal Charter, who wouldn't let you down. I would have assumed that, as a responsible organisation, they would not use a very weak get out, in a situation clearly caused by a global pandemic. Interestingly, they claim in their email reply to my complaint, that the pandemic has meant they can't respond as quickly, but not that it may also affect my use of my car or the effect on the battery they supplied. They said " Changing driving patterns and staffing challenges faced by all breakdown organisations are disrupting our service and it may take a little longer to investigate your concerns." In a normal year, when I am doing normal milelage, the situation would simply not happen. My family have been in the motor trade since the 1940's. I know about cars. I know batteries need a decent journey regularly, so I've made a point of taking the car out once a month for a ten mile drive. My place of employment is in Mill Hill and if I go out, as I drink, I use public transport. In normal times, I'd be using the car 2-3 times a week to get to gigs etc, but I've done none since December 2019. I have not used the car at all apart from that, apart from a couple of trips to see friends who live outside Mill Hill.  It is very clear to me that the battery has failed as a result of recent cold weather. 

If you are an RAC member or considering joining, I'd consider these points very carefully. It appears to me that the organisation is now more about selling things than supplying good service. The bottom line is this means that you may get overcharged as I feel I have been and you may get left in the lurch if you don't want to pay these extrotionate price, as I feel I have been. As I said, I paid the RAC £109 for a battery (and gave the bloke a cash tip). This is what Google tells me I could have got one for.
I don't like writing blogs like this, but I really wouldn't want anyone else to find themselves in the position I find myself in. 


The Barnet Eye Advent Calendar - 6th December

Welcome to the Barnet Eye advent Calendar. Every day during advent, we'll be giving you a little treat and also plugging a great local charity, so you can be entertained and then show your goodwill to all men!

How much do you know about our neighbourhood? Today we feature the first of two major plane crashes in our neighbourhood!  Today our feature of interest is from Burnt Oak. Did you know that in 1948 an RAF plane crashed into a Trolley bus in Burnt Oak in 1948 - check out this coverage from 1948 Pathe News.

Today we feature a brilliant organisation which ha done sterling work in the Borough. is an organisation which works to help young people develop their full potential.  Checkout this video highlighting some of the good work they do.

 The Barnet Eye is proud to live in an area where there are so many talented young people. We fully support the work of Nutmeg to help these young people realise their potential. We hear so many negative things about young people today. What we don't hear so much about is the great things young people do, especially when they are given a fair chance. Nutmeg help young people have that chance and should be supported by everyone who cares about our community.

Sunday, 5 December 2021

The tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet - 5th Decemeber 2021

 So how has your week been? I've had a pretty decent week. Met up with a good mate who I haven't seen for a while at one of London's more interesting pubs, The Edgar Wallace. It's got some amazing memorabilia from the 60's and 70's. If youa re around Fleet Street and you like a good pub, check it out. 

But that's' enough of my week, what have our tweeters been up to? Some interesting stuff in there, I hope you will concur.

1.On the subject of good pubs, we are sadly once again back in Edgware at the Railway Hotel. Nothing would make me happier than to never see another tweet about this appalling story, but so long as Mark Amies keeps tweeting it, I will support him. If by chance, you are a benevolent millionaire, who wants to make a great business and do something for the community in Edgware, please get in touch. I have some great plans to transform this into the beating heart of Edgware that it really deserves to be. Sadly the pandemic has used most of my spare cash! What could be better than a pub/microbrewery/GrassroostMusic Venue/Community Space five minutes walk from a tube station on a High Street earmarked for regeneration? You can't take your cash with you

2. I rather like Paul Dykes tweets, charting the lost Police boxes of London.

3. We featured the Good Neighbour scheme in our advent Calendar series. Here is some of the good work they do

4. Check out this film about Edgware. It is well worth a view

5. Robert Elms featured Stoll Studios in Cricklewood on his show on Friday. It is well worth a listen again on BBC Sounds. There was a fascinating call from Sir Sidney Samuelson, who is 96 and still sharp as a button talking about the history of the studios.

6. This tweet ticks many boxes. Great stuff

7. YEsterday was Small Business Saturday. We think we should support small businesses every Saturday. A nice tweet from N2 United

8. Nice tweet from John Keough. Good to see the Barnet Xmas Fayre in full swing

9. A free pot noodle for anyone who can identify the location!

10. We have some fine local musicians in our neck of the woods

That's all folks

The Barnet Eye Advent Calendar - 5th December

Welcome to the Barnet Eye advent Calendar. Every day during advent, we'll be giving you a little treat and also plugging a great local charity, so you can be entertained and then show your goodwill to all men!

And for todays little Advent treat !!!!!

Did you know that in 1969 Mill Hill lead the way in "virtual shopping", nearly 40 years before cyber Monday and Amazon took off ! Checkout this Pathe News video from 1969 where we learn that Mill Hill was a hotbed of cyber shopping before the internet was even a twinkle in an eyelid !


And for our good cause today we have Learning Through Horses Charity Partnership - If you haven't heard of them, this is what they do

Louise, who is the Charity Administrator wrote to us and said    
"I have seen your Barnet Eye posts on Twitter and Facebook and would be grateful if you could give Strength and Learning Through Horses Charity Partnership a mention as one of your advent charities of the day.

The Charity is based at stables in Edgware and assists vulnerable and disadvantaged young people and adults from across Barnet and North London through therapy and education services, building confidence, developing interpersonal skills and developing vital skills required to further their employment.
More information can be found on our website and donations can be made online by following this link"
For me, this is exactly what the Barnet Eye Advent Calendar is all about. A great chance for small, local organisations, doing great work, to make new friends and find new supporters. 

If you want your local charity or organisation to feature in this years advent Calendar, then simply - 

We'd also love to hear from you if you know of any great videos to share as our daily Gem

Saturday, 4 December 2021

The Saturday List #330 - My top ten fave ever puddings as prepared by my mum

 Ok, first off, it's pudding not desert. I am always massively suspicious of people who call puddings desert. When I was at school we had school diners and they were always followed with a pudding. On Sunday we had a roast and we'd always have a pudding with it. What my mum prepared was pretty much based on how well the family finances were doing. I have to give a hat tip to Mr Robert Elms at BBC Radio London who inspired this list. He mentioned that he loved tinned peaches. He also mentioned that his mum did a wicked Bread pudding. This made me all nostalogic. Both of these dishes were a massive part of my youth. I thought this warranted a Saturday list. 

1. Tinned peaches with Carnation milk. This was our default pudding. Occasionally Mum would try custard or real cream. None of these were right. The tin would last two weeks. I feel like a bad parent, as I've never given my kids these wonderous treats.

2. Bread pudding. My mum was a one for a bargain. If she managed to pick up a loaf going cheap, she'd make a bread pudding. This involved bread, brown sugar, whatever plonk she'd decicded was going off and raisins/sultana's. This would be baked for hours. The whole house would smell of booze and sweet fruits. Often this too would be topped with Carnation milk. This was a midweek treat, usually following something like fried eggs and potatoes. My Dad demanded meat every day, however he had a sweet tooth, so this would placate him, if Mum decided the household finances coudn't afford steak.

3. Ambrosia Tinned Rice Pudding. This was one of my favourites, especially with a big dollop of raspberry jam. When I was about six, my sister decided to make some rice pudding. My mum came in and asked what she was doing and she blamed me. To this day she vehemently denies making the rice pudding, but the truth is that I was far too lazy to do such a thing and I knew that tinned rice pudding was far better anyway. My mum occasionally made rice pudding, but it wasn't really that marvellous. She'd put nutmeg on it that made it taste funny. If you see my sister, do ask her why she made the rice pudding. She likes that!

4. Apple Pie with Custard. This is my favourite ever pudding by a country mile. Our next door neighbour Mrs Grover had a large tree that produced cooking apples. She'd give mum a bag in the winter and she'd make apple pie. It was wonderful. We'd have custard with it Bliss! Sadly when Mrs Grover died and the house was sold, the vandals who bought it chopped the tree down.

5. McVities Cherry pie. My sister Caroline worked as a child model. She was chosen to be the face of McVities pies. We got a free box of pies as part of the deal. I didn't really like their apple pies, they had a sort gloopy chemical flavour. However the Cherry pie was wonderful.  My sister was not overly keen on being called Pie face by me though. I must add here that when I was a week old and she was four, she got me and tried to flush me down the bog, as she wasn't to keen on no longer being the centre of attention, so I never felt too bad about calling her pie face. We get on very well these days, although she does tell me that her recollections of many childhood events are very different to mine.

6. Christmas Pudding. Now my sister will probably tell me I've got this all wrong (as she regularly does), but until around 1970 Mum would make her own Xmas puddings. This would involve soaking the sultanas in (the cheapest) Brandy for weeks. At some point around 1970, probably when Mum had cancer, she gave up making the puds and we started buying them. It wasn't the same. As a side note, mum would put old sixpences in the pudding, and it was meant to be lucky of you found one. At Xmas dinner in 1961, she put five in. Her sister Audrey and her husband Michael came for dinner. Only three sixpences were found. A month or so later, Audrey excitedly told mum that she was pregnant. Audrey loved kids and siad it must have been the lucky sixpence. Mum then told her that she too was pregnant, so she must have eaten the other lucky sixpence. My cousin, the rather wonderful Anita Shaw, is a genius and a very good comic, she was even Welsh Woman of the year. Audrey always ascribed her success to the lucky sixpence. As I was a dyslexic, good for nothing punk rock guitarist, my mother never really felt the same. 

7. Raspberry Ski Yoghurts. When mum was going through the worst of times with her cancer, she couldn't really eat, she was incredibly weak and she couldn't really keep food down very easily. The doctor advised her to drink as much Guinness as possible and eat yoghurt. As a result, we started to buy a lot of ski yoghurts.  Mum liked the Strawberry, Dad liked black cherry and I liked raspberry. At the time I absolutely loved it, but now it just makes me feel sad and nostalgic. As I don't really do dairy any more, I don't miss it.

8. Blackcurrant cheesecake. As mum recovered from her beush with death, she started to cook a little bit more. However she no longer could be bothered making the complicated puddings of our youth. One day she discovered packet cheesecakes. She could knock these up in five minutes. Dad loved them as they were sickly sweet. When I was a kid these seemed wonderful. Now the mere thought of such gloop turns my stomach. I can remember discussing these with my Mum back around 1995. Mum was lactose intolerant and she told me she always secretly resented making them, but as it made Dad happy, it was worth the effort. She told me that she'd never really liked any puddings apart from the Bread pudding and that was because it was full of alcohol. She said after she'd had cancer, she'd decided that if she had to make puddings, she'd make the easiest, cheapest ones possible. That seemed to work for everyone.

9.  Christmas Cake. As a kid, one of the ways we knew Xmas was coming was because Uncle Harry would turn up with one of his special Xmas cakes. Uncle Harry was a larger than life character, a member of the Magic Circle, former Mayor of Southport and cake maker to Queen Elisabeth. Mum confided to me later in life that Harry would post Her Maj a cake every year and recieve a letter saying how much Her Maj had enjoyed it. Mum reckoned Liz fed it to the Corgi's or her horse.  In fairness that was not nice, as Harry's cakes were pretty wonderful. Harry moved to Australia in the 70's and after that we never had a decent Xmas cake.

10. Crepe Suzettes. I finish with these. They were not made by Mum. Dad would make these when Mum went away. I loved it when Mum went away with my Sisters. Dad would cook. Dad was a brilliant, if technically limited cook. Whilst Mum could make anything, Dad had his specialities. When Mum was away, these all got reeled out. Bacon and Tomato sarnies for breakfast. Whilst Mum would buy the cheapest bacon, Dad would get the best from the butcher. Lunch would be a pork chop and supper would be a great big steak, followed by Crepe Suzettes, set on fire with copious amounts of brandy. Often Dad would take me to La Katarina restaurant if he couldn't be bothered cooking. The steaks and the crepe's were even more amazing there. Dad had a mate who was an old priest, called Father Traynor, up at St Josephs College. He'd often join us. Both Dad and Fr Traynor (who'd been a Missionary in Kenya) were great stroytellers and amazing company. I'd just sit in awe listening to their stories and enjoying the delicious food. One thing I recall is that whenever Dad got a bottle of whisky or brandy, he'd get Fr Traynor to open it and exorcise the demon from the bottle. I recall Fr Traynor doing this once at La Katerina, much to the delight of the bloke who owned it. I seem to recall, although I might be wrong, that when he opened the bottle, he'd light it and the excess alcohol fumes would go up in a puff of flame. His tipple was Johnnie Walker Black Label, which Dad always kept a copious supply of. When the crepe's were made at La Katerina, there were huge flames from the brandy. I recall Fr Traynor stating that there was a lot of the 'demon spirit' in that Crepe. He didn't seem too concerned. I think they were the most wonderful crepe's I've ever had. I've had them a few times elsewhere and they've always been a disappointment. Mind you, I suspect that if you bring a Priest to a devoutly Catholic Italian restaurant, you will find they are not ungenerous with the Brandy on the Crepes. 

The Barnet Eye Advent Calendar - 4th December

Today is day four of the Barnet Eye Advent Calendar. This series will run every day until Xmas day. We are reclaiming the concept of giving from the consumerist society. We will give you a little snippet of our love for our neighbourhood and we'll also feature a link to a great local charity, So if you are inspired, you can do your bit and make this festive season a little better for someone who may just appreciate some help

So today we move to Barnet for our gem. Although we think of the London Borough of Barnet as a sleepy suburb of golf courses and semi's, there is a darker history. One of the bloodiest battles of the war of the Roses civil war was fought in Barnet.  The Battle of Barnet was the decisive battle of this war and it took place in our manor. Check out this rather entertaining video.

If you find this video interesting,why not check out one of our real local gems, the Barnet Museum, who are packed with interesting historical relics and information, including a marvellous section on the Battle. 

 And our Charity today is Homeless Action Barnet - - a charity helping homleess people in our neck of the woods. If you see a homeless person and wonder what you can do to help, CLICK HERE FOR INFO

The Night Shelter gives a meal and a bed to up to fifteen local homeless people, ant to know how you can help? Click here - - and help make a difference. There is still a battle in Barnet, it is against homelessness and poverty and you can help. As the nights get colder it gets ever more important.

Friday, 3 December 2021

The Barnet Eye Advent Calendar - 3rd December

Today is day three of our Barnet Eye Advent calendar. 

Today's little gem is a bit of local history presented by local historian Mark Amies. Mark worked with us to produce a film about the history of Airco in Colindale. Airco was the worlds biggest maker of Aircraft in 1918, now there are a few traces left. Mark explores these. 

And for our good cause today we have the Mill Hill and Burnt Oak Good Neighbour scheme - - If you haven't heard of them, this is what they do

The Good Neighbour Scheme for Mill Hill and Burnt Oak enables volunteers to provide neighbourly support to elderly and disabled people living in Mill Hill and Burnt Oak in the Borough of Barnet. Our services address the issues of fragility, loneliness, the moving away of children from the area and bereavement.

It is a really great charity and especially at this time of year plays an invaluable role in our local community. If you have a few hours, or if not a few pennies, please help them out.