Friday 28 February 2014

The Friday Joke 28/2/2014 - Thought for the day

Thought for the day...

 " When you see a mosquito landing on your testicles, you realise that there is always a way to solve problems without using violence." 

Who is to blame for the A&E Crisis in the NHS in Barnet?

So who is to blame for the A&E crisis in Barnet. This weeks Barnet Press is full of horror stories, check it out. Ambulences turned away, failure to treat people within four hours and operations cancelled due to shortage of intensive care beds. The question of who to blame is quite easy to answer. Lets draw an analogy.

Just suppose you want an extension built on your house. Two builders come. One is highly recommended by friends and has a good reputation. He quotes you £100,000. Then someone knocks on your door and persuades you he can do it for £80,000. You think "£20,000 is a huge saving, I can buy a new car with that". So you go with Mr doorknocker. His workmen don't have the right tools, they are not skilled craftsmen, they tell you he pays peanuts, even though he drives a brand new Jag. The materials are not quality brands such as Dulux paints, but the cheapest possible alternative. The extension ends up looking like a cowshed and the building inspector condemns it as unsafe.

Who is to blame for the mess? The answer is you are. You tried to save a few quid and it all went wrong. The answer is the same with the NHS. In Barnet we replaced two Labour MP's with two Tory MP's at the last election. Neither said a dickiebird about the closure of Chase Farm A&E that has caused the problem. We all know what Tories think of the NHS. So if you vote for them and you end up on a trolley, don't complain

Thursday 27 February 2014

Guest Blog - Disrespect and Barnet Council by Barbara Jacobson

By Barbara Jacobson,
There is always something to be learned at the Cabinet meetings, and the one on Tuesday night was no exception. Janet Leifer was the only person to make a public comment about the problems posed by Your Choice Barnet (YCB). Janet is a stalwart campaigner – I would say ‘tireless’ but the truth is campaigning is tiring work – for the rights of disabled people, and chair of the Campaign Against the Destruction of Disabled Support Services (CADDSS).  She spoke strongly and clearly about the lack of transparency and openness of YCB Board meetings (even the minutes are not available: the council claims that they are on the website, but searches reveal only an ‘error’ page) and movingly about the problems faced by service users when the venues for their activities are not compatible with their needs.

Maybe if they had listened, some Cabinet members could have learned something about these very real and important issues. The first lesson we learned was how little they cared. As soon as Janet began to speak Cllrs Thompstone and Dean Cohen seemed to share a joke. Then they, as well as Cllrs Longstaff, J. Tambourides and Hart, began to turn the pages of the documents that they should have read before the meeting. When Cllr Tambourides stopped turning pages, she stared ahead of her or at the ceiling. It was not clear whether Cllr Rams was playing with his mobile phone or using it as a calculator to assess the losses of YCB, but like the others named, he never even looked at or made a pretence of listening to to Janet Leifer. Cllr Dan Thomas, on the other hand, gave Janet his full attention. Although I couldn’t see him from my vantage point, I am sure Cllr R. Cornelius was similarly attentive. It is not simply bad manners to blatantly ignore a speaker, but also indicative of those councillors’ attitude towards the people they supposedly represent and, thus, to democracy itself.  

When Cllr Cornelius asked his Cabinet colleagues whether they had any questions for Mrs Leifer, no one raised a hand – not surprising when more than half of them had apparently not heard what she was saying.

Later, Cllr Brian Gordon went to the table to speak about a report he had submitted. What a difference: every councillor turned to face him and appeared to listen. How much easier it is to listen to one of your own discussing a report you know you will agree with than paying attention to someone whose views challenge yours, to someone demanding fairness for the disabled. This is lazy politics and the second lesson we learned was that the Cabinet has more than its fair share of lazy politicians.

When these councillors come knocking on your door and want you to listen to their request to re-elect them, I hope you will remember what they really think of you. Then teach them a lesson at the polls in May.

The third lesson we learned  on Tuesday night was that the directors of YCB have a duty to act in ’the best interests of the organisation’ rather than the best interests of the service users. It seems beyond the Cabinet’s comprehension or power of imagination that best interests of the service users are in the best interests of the organization. By focusing only on ways to make money, the YCB Board and its single shareholder, the council, ensure that the service losers will suffer and therefore YCB’s finances will continue to suffer – because people from other boroughs will not choose to buy services from a company that has more regard for their cash than their well-being.

Through public questions at the meeting the council revealed that it will collect approximately £1.3m from the imposition of the 8.5% council tax on working age claimants of benefit. When asked why the council tax cut of 1%, which will cost the council £1.3m, couldn’t be used to offset the imposition of the tax, Cllr Cornelius replied emphatically that nothing was free, everyone had to understand that and make a contribution. So even if you have nothing and are dependent on benefits, you have to pay. That’s obviously a Conservative Party moral imperative. Now look at the figures again and you’ll see the fourth lesson we learned: that the £1.3m the council is grabbing back from people on benefits is funding the council tax cut. Not a moral imperative, but an immoral action.

We learned too that if central government allowed a mansion tax, Barnet Council estimates it would be better off by approximately £30m. Think of all the jobs and services that would fund. Will it happen? Try demanding that any candidate for council or Parliament that wants your vote will support a call for the government to pass a law enabling this tiny tax on the extremely wealthy so the council would have no excuse to tax the poor or to sell off our libraries and sports fields, no excuse to cut health and social care services.

If you want to make your voice heard on these or any other issues, come to the two remaining public meetings that Barnet Alliance for Public Services is hosting. The next one is at the Barnet Multicultural Centre in Algernon Road, West Hendon, on 18 March. The last one is at the Greek Cypriot Centre in Britannia Road, North Finchley, on 10 April. The doors open at 6.30, entry is free and the meeting, which starts at 7pm, provides a chance to discuss your views with candidates of the Labour, LibDem and Green parties; the Conservatives have been invited, but as you can tell from the description of the their attitudes to residents, they are unlikely to send a speaker. They haven’t sent one to either of the last two meetings. When asked why not, Cllr Cornelius said he wouldn’t go to a meeting with ‘those people’.  That’s us, folks. Cllr Rams tweeted that it was more fun being at a Boys’ Brigade meeting than being at the ‘hustings’. Well, being one of the boys must be more fun than answering awkward questions from voters, but why bother to be a councilor if you can’t face your constituents? If your local councillors are Tories, you might want to ask them why they’re hiding.
Barbara Jacobson is a Barnet resident. Guest blogs are always welcome 

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Dyslexia Blog - Should the term dyslexia be ditched?

For those of you who have read my dyslexia blogs before, you may wish to skip this paragraph as it is just the background. If you haven't read my dyslexia blogs before, here is a little preamble and introduction, so you know who I am and what I do and why I write this stuff. For those of you who know the story, skip to the end of the paragraph for todays installment. Let me give you a bit of Background so you know who I am and what I do. I was born in 1962. I didn't start talking until I was 4 years old (at all, not a single word). My parents thought I was deaf. My reading age at eleven was 5. When I was fifteen I started a rock and roll band called the False Dots, the band is still going strong. When I was 16 I started a business called Mill Hill Music Complex (although then it was simply called the studio), a rehearsal studio, as we had nowhere to rehearse. The business has grown into a very successful enterprise, one of Londons biggest and most well respected independent studios. We now have 16 studios and a music shop and also have a photography/video studio and a dance studio. I also have done IT work, mostly on a freelance basis since 1983. In 2012 I also moved into film production, producing two highly acclaimed documentary films, both of which had screenings at the House of Commons. When I was 31, a friend suggested I had a dyslexia test. To my surprise I was told I was moderately dyslexic. This made me interested in the subject. To my amazement, what I have learned over the years is that my lack of educational aptitude, my feelings of anger and injustice and the core of my personality have been formed by the fact I cannot read words in a linear fashion.

So I awoke this morning to hear a report on BBC London saying the term "dyslexic" should be abandoned. They were interviewing a certain professor Joe Ellis who stated that the term was meaningless and was not scientific. As ever with this debate, I rather suspect that professor Ellis has not had to struggle with the issues raised by the condition. The biggest problem I have with people like Professor Ellis is that they have no understanding of the issues associated with dyslexia. They seem to think that if people learn to read, all of the problems will go away. Like many people rather too clever for their own good, Professor Ellis complains that the term is "too wide" and "too ill defined". I suppose he'd prefer it to be replaced with 30 different terms. Lets just suppose for one second we took up his suggestion. Just suppose that as of today my condition, which represents 2% of the dyslexic spectrum is called "Wyecrundiance". All of a sudden I'd have to go through all of the challenges I've had explaining dyslexia to an indifferent world, but as I'd be part of a smaller club and few people would have heard of Wyecrundiance, no one would have a clue.

The existing label may not be perfect, but at least we have a clue what the issue is. Lets focus on dealing with the issues, not debating the label. If you thing it is not an issue, then to be honest, you haven't got a clue.

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Councillor Maureen Braun is surprised by the Barnet Council Leaders behaviour

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with Hendon Tory Councillor Maureen Braun. She was the chair of the Hendon & district planning committee, who broke her own rules to erect a huge shed in her own garden in breach of planning rules. Many people in Barnet were not impressed with how the good councillor dealt with matters surrounding her erection, not least her neighbours.

It seems that she's all heart are Mo. At a recent council meeting, she seemed rather surprised that her boss, Leader of the Council Richard Cornelius thinks the lowest paid workers in Barnet should as a minimum be paid a living wage. 

Here is her question from the Council meeting on 5th November and Richard Cornelius response. Perhaps less surprising is the fact that Braun voted in favour of the huge allowance hike for councillors, which was the first action of the incoming Tory regime in 2010 (as did Mr Cornelius). Those words "we are all in it together" come to mind. 

Isn't it rather sad that such plutocrats resent even the smallest amount of efforts to help the lowest paid workers in their organisation.

Monday 24 February 2014

Time for the Barnet Times to join the crusade for a better Health service in Barnet

What do you want from your local paper? I know what I want. I want a paper that stands up for local residents. I have a rather odd, possibly perverse view that the local press is massively important. I believe that a free press is a vital part of democracy. Local press is under siege at the moment. Papers up and down the country are shutting every week. In Barnet we have two, the Times Group and the Press Group. When I was a teenager, the Edgware and Mill Hill Times was an esteemed paper. You had to buy it and thousands of people did. The paper was a launch pad for the careers of some quite esteemed journalists.

Fast forward to 2014 and we have a rather unfortunate change. Wheras the then editor Dennis Signy answered to the papers readers and could take whatever editorial line he liked, now the paper is delivered to your home for free and it is the advertisers who are in charge.

If you click this link and forward to pages 34 & 35 you will see that Barnet Council take huge adverts every week - - now the good thing about this is that the Council is actually doing something useful keeping the paper afloat. The bad thing is that it means that, should the council wish, they can ring up the editor and threaten him with withdrawal of advertising revenues, if the paper carries stories they don't like. Does this ever happen? Well sadly, if it hadn't this blog would not exist. You see I used to write a blog on the Hendon Times. That was stopped because I wrote a blog exposing how Barnet Council had placed a Youtube video with a Nazi supporter making anti semetic comments on their website. Members of the ruling administration took issue with the paper for allowing me to criticise the council and I was sacked as a Times community blogger.

For those unfamiliar with the story, this is the blog which caused the council to get me sacked

A certain notorious member of the Barnet Council Cabinet even boasted that he'd ended my blogging career (1.2 million hits later, I can safely say predictions of my demise as a blogger were slightly premature). Now for all I know, my little stint as a blogger at the Times was the only time that politicians in Barnet Council used threats to change the editorial policy. I have no idea whether Martin Buhagiar, the current editor ever gets calls. He tells me that the local Tories were rather cross when he printed a piece about some misfunctioning sprinklers in a council building. What I do know for a fact is that we have a constant stream of "good news" stories concerning local Conservative policies and politicians. Today we have two

There's this one about local Hendon MP Matthew Offord visiting a charity kitchen in India. Mr Buhagiar must love this story, because out of all of the stories in Barnet today, he's made it the "Editors Choice".

The other story promoting local Conservatives is the one about Councillor Robert Rams spending a day in an "ambulance" promoting a grant of £28,000 from the "Big Society fund" to the London Ambulance Responder Service.

I find this story truly disgusting. You see the NHS is in crisis in Barnet. Recently we've had reports of Barnet General A&E being locked down as there were no beds available. One report stated that there were 19 ambulances unable to drop off their patients.

To be fair to the Times, they did print one story about misdiagnosis and poor treatment in Barnet.

This was the story of how a much loved family dog died after misdiagnosis. If you believed the Times this week, that is the state of the NHS in Barnet, grants to volunteer ambulence men and the biggest health story being a dead dog. Now don't get me wrong, I love dogs and I am most upset that such a tragedy should befall a family pet, but there is a CRISIS IN THE NHS IN BARNET !!!!!

Fortunately the Barnet Press seem to take the matter more seriously. Their top story is that of Edgware resident John Sullivan aged 71.

Mr Sullivan was misdiagnosed as having irritable bowel syndrome for five years, whilst a carcinoid tumour went undetected. When Mr Sullivan was finally diagnosed and the surgeon became aware of the agony Mr Sullivan was suffering, he was admitted to the Royal Free as an emergency. That was the Wednesday before last. Mr Sullivan was given drugs for 24 hours to prepare him for major surgery. He was scheduled to have surgery at 11am on the Thursday. At 6pm, having waited all day on an IV drip, he was told to go home on the tube, as no intensive care beds were available. The tumour causes Mr Sullivans bowel to go into violent spasm, resulting in him spending hours in agony writhing around on the floor screaming. Mr Sullivan is the carer for his daughter Susan, aged 50, who suffers from Downs Syndrome. In short, the whole family is being ripped apart. One of the reasons for the lack of IC beds at the Royal Free was because the hospital takes overspill patients when Barnet General is overloaded. When people need an IC bed, ambulances are diverted to the nearest available hospital. As a result, the closure of Chase FArm not only affects Barnet General, but every hospital in the locality.

There are many aspects of Mr Sullivans case that would warrent a story. There is the fact that Doctors misdiagnosed Cancer as IBS for five years. Apparently this is not uncommon for this tumour. Wouldn't you want your local paper to inform you of this. There is the fact that not only Barnet General is unable to take emergency patients since the closure of Chase Farm. Then there is the biggest story of all. The fact that the Coalition government is underfunding the NHS to such an extent that an elderly man cannot be given an emergency operation on quiet Thursday in a warm February. Think about it. In the Borough we have 2 branches of the Northern Line, 2 major high speed rail lines, the M1 and a stack of other massive roads. If there were no IC beds in Barnet for Mr Sullivan, there would be none had any of those major transport hubs had an accident a sudden influx of emergency patients needed treatment. Look at it another way, if you had a heart attack two Thursdays ago, there would be no bed for you. You would be on an ambulance trolley, screaming in pain, as they drove around looking for a bed.

Now I am sure that the Barnet Times didn't maliciously ignore the story of John Sullivan. I am sure that when the editor picked his selection of dead dogs and dopey politicians, he was acting with the highest motives. It must be a hard job running a paper in such a busy metropolis as the London Borough of Barnet. I am sure that it can be difficult prioritising sick pensioners over dead dogs, but hey get real. Which is more likely to change you life, being stuck in an ambulance, desperately trying to find a bed, while the driver scours London for a bed, or your pooch being misdiagnosed?

I don't seek any favours from the local press. I simply ask that they do their job and tell us the local stories that REALLY MATTER. There are some vital questions that Mr Sullivans treatment has highlighted

1. If there are not a enough beds on a quiet Thursday afternoon in February, then surely there are not enough beds full stop.
2. LBB has two major railways, the M1, the A406/A1/A41 etc, what would happen if there was a major accident on any of these?
3. With Brent Cross redevelopment, Mill Hill East, Colindale, West Hendon and a net rise of 105,000 residents by the councils own research, if we can't cope now, we certainly won't cope going forward.
4. What would happen if there was a major flu pandemic?
5. In 1996, we had three major IC units available for Barnet Residents, at Edgware, Chase Farm and Barnet General, now we only have one, yet we have a third more people coming into the Borough. Where is the evidence that there is any planning for provision?
6. How often are patients turned away due to lack of IC beds?
7. How much money is wasted paying consultants, nurses and on medicines, due to operations being cancelled?
8. Where any private patients being treated in IC beds during these emergencies.

Cuts to the health service do not discriminate. We are all at risk. the cuts have gone too far and we need a proper review to ensure that all Barnet residents, their children and their elderly parents are not left on trolleys outside A&E or turned away from life saving operations.

I ask the Times Group of newspapers to back my call for a public enquiry into the NHS in Barnet. This is not a party political matter, heart attacks do not discriminate against Tory or Labour supporters. Any one of us could need the NHS at any time. What is the point in the "Big Society fund" funding paramedics if there is no bed for the patients when they get to hospital. It is all very well our local MP going on holiday to India and visiting a soup kitchen. Surely he should be visiting the A&E wards every day and making sure that his constituents get the best possible treatment.

So I grovellingly ask Mr Bugharia to think again and give Mr Sullivans story and the issues it raises the dignity and prominence it deserves. If we can stop the NHS being destroyed by ill tought out cuts, it will benefit us all. Who knows who amongst us will need an IC bed tonight. It could be you, me, Mr Bugharia, my daughter, your mum or Mrs Beans down the road. Whoever it is, I for one, will not rest until they can be assurred the level of care they deserve. As far as I am concerned, it is the job of our newspapers to join the crusade for a decent NHS in Barnet. If they don't they should spell out why. If they say nothing, sadly we will have to draw our own conclusions.

The death of democracy in our own back yard

There is an election in May to choose a new admistration in Barnet. I was talking to a local Tory Councillor who told me he thought the turnout would be less than 50% of the electorate. It will be even less for the Euro elections on the same day, as most people don't even know what MEP's do.

The question is "does it matter if I don't vote?". Well if you are in one of the groups below it makes a huge difference, as the council is responsible for the services you use.

Adult disabled/Special needs
Car drivers
People who put the bins out
People with children in schools or educational establishments
People with relatives buried in local graveyards
People who pay Council tax
People who work for firms that pay business rates
People who live in a controlled parking zone
People who walk on pavements
People who like a walk in the park
People who live in a house and want to change or extend it, requiring planning permission
People who use libraries

There are probably other groups of people. The council decides all of these things. How well they are done, how much money is spent on them. They use your tax to pay. The equation is pretty simple in Barnet. The Tories have a policy of spending as little on services as possible so that they can charge as little tax as possible. Labour want to charge a bit more and protect the most vulnerable people in society from the worst of the cuts. Unless you live in High Barnet or Childs Hill, the Lib Dems are irrelevant, in those areas they are staunch campaigners for local issues. Whichever side of that argument you stand on, if you don't vote, don't moan when your tax bill goes up or your granny doesn't get her meals on wheels on time. Local democracy is dying and the people who are killing it are apathetic voters. Many people will be getting knocks on the door from politicians canvassing. Ask them what they will do about the local issues that concern you. If they give you an answer you don't like, tell them you will not be voting for them and you will be voting for the other side. Carry out your threat as well. It is the only chance you will get in the next four years to change anything. We will cover the local issues and try and help you make up your mind, if you haven't already.

No party is perfect, in some ways none of them really deserve our votes, so you have to choose the least worst option. Don't be fooled by anyone who tells you it doesn't matter. If Barnet had a different administration, we wouldn't have seen the abolition of pay and display parking and local disabled people would not have seen services slashed. You would also be paying about the price of a Starbucks coffee a week in extra tax. That's the long and the short of it.

Sunday 23 February 2014

Ukraine & legal aid - You won't fool the Children of the Revolution

This morning I awoke to pictures of the inside of the palace of the deposed leader of the Ukraine. It seems that he has run away leaving his palace in the hands of protestors. The level of corruption and theft from the state is staggering. Amongst other items was a spanish barge in its own dry dock. To get rid of this greedy and evil regime, hundreds of protestors gave their lives. Despite awful violence, the protestors didn't give up. They really had no choice, they were backed into a corner and so they just had to keep going. I salute the bravery of people prepared to face beatings & death for the cause of freedom and justice.

This week I had a discussion with Andrew Dismore, the Labour candidate for Hendon about the issue of the Pavillion Way playing fields. These grounds were given to the residents of Burnt Oak, a staunchly working class area, by the Laing building company. There was a covenant that the grounds could only be used as a sports ground. Barnet Council want to see these facilities for local children replaced with yet more homes and a Chinese language school. They have deliberately sat on the terms of the covenant, discussing it in secret blue papers, but not telling the residents. Despite this the residents have found out. There is a rock solid case for a legal challenge, but sadly for the working class dwellers of the Council estate, this costs money. The coalition government has changed the rules for legal aid, so they have effectively made Great Britain a country where the legal system is simply a tool for the rich and the powerful to impose their will on the rest of us.

You only have to look to the Ukraine to see where this leads. It leads to corruption, huge palaces for the powerful, built at the expense of the impoverished, who have no means to do anything about it. The press, controlled buy rich media barons, lead a campaign against legal aid, painting a picture of taxpayers money being wasted. They never mentioned the countless cases where ordinary people got justice in the face of the rich and powerful.

Legal aid is the foundation stone of a fair and democratic society. The people of Burnt Oak have been given a bitter lesson in the harsh realities of the Tory view of justice and law. Despite having a cast iron legal case, without the cash to take it to court they are scuppered. At the moment Mr Cameron and his local cronies may find this all rather cosy. I'd suggest that they consider the case of the Ukraine and consider where this could lead. Ask yourself this question. Without legal aid for the masses, what is there to prevent huge electoral fraud in the UK. At the last general election in Hendon, Mr Dismore lost by 105 votes. It is a matter of public record that in working class areas, polling stations were undermanned. There were huge queues and people were turned away. This happened in Mill Hill at the station in Page Street. Strangely the one at St Michaels Church in Mill Hill Broadway (a more affluent area) saw no such queues. Would Mr Dismore have got the 105 extra votes if the polling stations had been properly manned? No one can be sure, but what I do know for certain is that when people lose faith in the fairness of elections, they turn to violence. You only have to open your papers this morning to see where that leads. I am a pacifist, so the last thing I would ever want to see is violence. The only way to maintain a peaceful society is to ensure that every citizen has access to the justice system. That is why full legal aid must be restored. If Tories think they are being clever in denying it to the poor, they should consider where the road they are building leads to.

If there is an anthem for the day, it should be Children of the Revolution by T-Rex. No you won't fool, the Children of the revolution.

Saturday 22 February 2014

Show Review - Drunk at the Bridewell Theatre

 One of the best things about being involved in Mill Hill Music Complex studios is that I get to find out about all manner of great bands, shows and other arts projects long before the rest of London ! Last month we had a fairly major studio booking from the McOnie Theatre Company. They needed a studio to sort out the music for a new show they were staging. As regular readers will know that one of my favourite hobbies is boozing, so imagine my excitement to find that the production was a musical dance show called "DRUNK". I was rather flattered that they should choose to make a musical about me! When I put this to Lucy Ockenden, the producer, she sadly broke the news that nope, they hadn't set my life to music, the show was an exploration of the various sides of the demon drink, brought to life by a highly talented cast of dancers.

Being a bit of a nosey git, I took the trouble to earwig on the band as they went through their paces in Studio 7. It was clear straight away that musical director and pianist Tom Kelly had assembled a fine band. The general feel of the music is swing jazz and it turns out that the music had been written by TONY nominated composer Grant Olding. Given the quality of the music, it was clear that it would be a good night out, for that alone.

So last night we secured tickets to see the show at the Bridewell Theeatre. I've not been there before, but it is a superb space and very convenient for those of us living in Mill Hill as it is only five minutes walk City Thameslink station, meaning that if I timed the trains right, the journey was less than half an hour. On my recommendation, a couple of friends met us for the show. For a show with such a title, it was only right and proper to meet for a beer first. I'd recommend "Ye Old Cheshire Cheese" on Fleet Street if you are going to the Brideswell. It is a lovely pub, claiming to be Londons oldest. It is also very reasonably priced and serves Sam Smiths ales. So after a quick livener, we made our way to the Brideswel Theatre.

As we entered the band were playing. They were going though their paces with some rather tasty Jazz improvisation. The theatre is an excellent space and there was a decent crowd. Then the show started. There were 21 interwoven pieces, with titles such as Happy Hour, G&T, Wine, Champagne and Vodka. Some were full on ensemble dance numbers and some were ballads & duets. The dancing was absolutely excellent, high energy and high on excitement. I was particularly taken with Anabel Kutay who played a very seductive Absynthe. Gemma Sutton as Ice has a great voice and Simon Hardwick was superb as the spurned "first love" as cider. The show built to a dazzling high energy Crescendo with Fruit Punch. We then had the bows and the final act was "Hangover". We've all been there haven't we !

I would highly recommend the show, if you want a night out that won't break the bank. The 80 minutes shot by, although having had a couple of pints prior to the start, I had a certain sympathy with the dancers who performed the number "breaking the seal".


P.S for those of you looking to make a proper night of it, we took advantage of a £17.50 for 2 courses and half a bottle of wine offer at Grapolo off Fetter Lane and had an excellent meal.Well worth checking out.

The Saturday List #55 - Great Dog walks in and around Mill Hill

As it's Saturday, and the sun is shining, I thought I'd share my favourite dog walks in and around Mill Hill

1. Arrendene Open Space. 
2. Totteridge Valley (Burtonhole Lane to The Orange Tree pub via Darlands Lake)
3. Moat Mount Open Space (Mind the other dogging associated activities though)
4.  Mill Hill Broadway to the Railway Pub via Hale Lane, returning via Maxwelton Avenue & Millway
5. Bunns Lane to Deansbrook via Lyndhurst Park 
6. Mill Hill Park via Flower Lane, stopping for a cup of tea
7. Sunny Hill Park
8. Cressingham Park, Burnt Oak

Whatever your plans are for the day, whether it includes dog walking, dogging or jogging have a great Saturday !

Friday 21 February 2014


The following is an actual question given on a University of Arizona chemistry midterm, and an actual answer turned in by a student.
The answer by one student was so 'profound' that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well :
Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)? Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed)or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:
First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving, which is unlikely. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today.
Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.
This gives two possibilities:
1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over. So which is it?
If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, 'It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,' and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct..... ...leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a Divine Being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting 'Oh my God.'


Thursday 20 February 2014

How to waste £40 Million of your hard earned money, Boris Johnson style

Remeber  this story? - -  Back in 2011, Boris Johnson used £400,000 of taxpayers money to supposedly regenerate Chipping Barnet. This was part of a £40 million fund, supposedly set up to regenerate Londons town centres. When this was announced, the then GLA member Brian Coleman said the following :-
 “This investment is excellent news for Chipping Barnet. It shows that Boris was as good as his word when he said in 2008 that he was not going to be just a Zone 1 Mayor.”
Well that was then. The £400,00 was spent. Did Chipping Barnet suddenly become the Las Vegas of London? Have people come flocking from far & wide to visit the "dreaming spires"? Or is High Barnet just as drab as ever? Sadly, as far as I can tell, it is the same old drab High St it always was. Don't get me wrong, the local traders have done their best, but the whole concept of this bung was ill conceived and badly executed. You see by its nature, a healthy High Street is a headless monster. It is a whole set of small traders and large conglomerates, all feeding each other symbiotically. In the good old days, we had the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. We used the High Street as part of our daily lives. These days, it has become coffee shops, restaurants, bookies and Pound stores. We go to Brent Cross for our candles, the Butcher is often a department in Tescos and the baker is Greggs, making more from pies & sarnies than bread. Brian Coleman played his part in this process, hiking parking fees in 2011. He paid the price in 2012 when the electorate dumped him. His action made more of us see than ever decide that the local High Street was just too much hassle. Once our behaviour was changed, we just didn't change back.

Our local MP, Matthew Offord, stated that he wanted to make Mill Hill Broadway the type of place that you could open a successful cheese shop. Sadly, there is no cheese shop in Mill Hill, nearly four years after his election. There are more bookies and more coffee shops. But all of this isn't what I am really that interested in. It is how on earth Boris and his merry men can possibly justify wasting £40 million with no benefit at all for the average person who foots the bill. So what could he have done with the £400,000 in Barnet that would have made people come back to the High Street? Well I daresay if he'd danced naked down the High Street handing out £50 notes, then he might have given the traders a good days business. If Boris had simply given every Barnet resident an equal share, we'd have had approx £1.30 each. Not even enough to buy a decent coffee. And as for the total £40 million fund. He could have given us all a tenner, every single Londoner. Would that have changed anyones lives? I doubt it. I'd have had three pints on him and forgotten about it.

The question I have to ask is this. In times of economic hardship, what sort of a message does it send out, wasting our money in this way. It's like Dave Cameron saying their is loadsamoney for flood victims. The government looks completely two faced a week later when he tells Archbishop Vincent Nicholls that there is no money for people on benefits. The truth is that all of these schemes are just daft vanity projects, which buy a few headlines and achieve nothing. Don't believe me? Well even Brian Coleman agrees with me on this now. Last week he said he'd rather gouge his own eyes out than appear on a hustings panel with me. This is what he said about the Barnet Experiment today on Twitter. The conversation started when Tory GLA member Andrew Boff posted a a tweet praising the bonkers scheme

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  1. The Finchley experience shows its a waste of money and most of it wil be spent on expensive consultants
  2. for once Tichborne is right , money frittered away in Chipping Barnet on plants that died , benches no one can sit on
  3. Shut up Brian. Or please tell me that's a metaphor for Barnet's social ills.
  4. no just saw how that money was squandered and the mess that was left

Maybe tomorrow I'll awake and hell will have frozen over