Monday 31 October 2016

Why we need to unite to throw Zac Goldsmith out of Richmond

The Heathrow third runway decision has caused a by election in the constituency of Richmond. Sitting Tory MP Zac Goldsmith has honoured his pledge to stand down and stand as an independent candidate, should the government decide that the UK needs a new runway at Heathrow. Mr Goldsmith is trying to call the by election a "referendum on Heathrow". It is of course no such thing. It is now simply a referendum on Mr Goldsmith. The reason Mr Goldsmith is nominally an independent is not because he is no longer a Tory, but simply because it is embarrassing for the party that he is out of step. If he wins, he'll immediately rejoin, which is why there is no Tory candidate.

There are numerous reasons why I believe that the non right parties should unite to throw him out on his ear. The biggest one of these is the horrible campaign he lead in the spring to try and become Mayor of London. His campaign was full of spiteful and dishonest smears against Sadiq Khan, who thus far has proved Mr Goldsmith comprehensively wrong in his assessment of Mr Khans capabilities. Just google Zac Goldsmith lies about Sadiq Khan and you will get a stark reminder of just how nasty Mr Goldsmith really is. Of course politicians telling porkies about each other is nothing new, but Goldsmith really opened the sewers with his behaviour. It is bad enough to behave badly, but having seen that Mr Khan has actually been doing a pretty good job, has there been a peep of apology from Goldsmith? I couldn't have been happier than to see Khan win by a landslide and show Goldsmith just how much Londoners saw through his nasty campaign. For me, that debacle is reason enough to end Goldsmiths campaign. All decent Londoners should reject such a divisive figure, especially those in Richmond.

But then there is more to it. Zac Goldsmith is a hard line anti EU zealot, pushing for the hardest of hard Brexits. London as a city voted strongly to remain. Richmond constituency voted strongly to remain. The Brexit campaign claim they have an absolute mandate to leave. They (in contravention of UK law) claim that the referendum overrides the views of Parliament. But in the campaign, no one actually said what a Brexit vote meant. The Leave campaign stated that it was to save £350 million a week, which would be invested in the NHS. This was an outrageous lie. Were 2% of the electorate persuaded to swithc sides, causing the leave voters to win by this? I don't know, but I do know that you cannot claim a mandate when your major campaign promise was clearly a made up porkie. If Leave had won by 20% then they could claim that there was a clear mandate and thier porkie was inconsequential. Sadly for us all, a 2% margin is one which the big porkie is quite likely to have had a major impact on. The Leave camp claim that remain should simply "take it and move on". I disagree. The Leave camp never accepted the 1974 referendum result and we had 42 years of them whinging and whining, so why on earth they think remainers should accept such a narrow vote, which was won with a huge porkie, is beyond me (well it isn't they simply want their own way). I don't believe that the views of the electorate should be ignored, but what I believe we urgently need is a second vote to ratify the exit, once we are 100% clear what that will mean. If the UK then votes for it, that will be that. But if all that is on offer is a deal which will be bad for Richmond, bad for London and bad for the UK, then why on earth should we be forced to take it on the back of referendum vote, which was very tight and based on lies. The best way to send this message is to chuck Londons leading #Brexit tool out on his ear. It is no coincidence that UKIP have said they support Mr Goldsmith. I for one, would not want a UKIP endorsed MP in London. However you look at it, Mr Goldsmith will strengthen and give credibility to UKIP.

Then there is the issue of Heathrow. Mr Goldsmith wants this to be the issue. As seems to be the pattern with Mr Goldsmith, there is a bit of smoke and mirrors. His leading rival in Richmond is also a staunch anti third runway campaigner. She is Sarah Olney. It is worth noting that when The Tories were in coalition with the Lib Dems, they were prevented from expanding Heathrow. It seems to me likely that a Lib Dem victory in Richmond is likely to send a far stronger messaage to Theresa May than a Tory victory. For the record, I support a third runway at Heathrow. This is not because I think it is a great option, but it is the least worse. But it is clearly a massive issue for Richmond voters and if they are clear headed about what they want, then they should recognise this.

I think that in many ways, the Richmond By Election is perhaps the most important by election for a generation. If Goldsmith is re elected it will be a disaster for London and for the progressive centre left. As such, I would love to see the Labour Party and The Greens stand asidde to give Sarah Olney a clear run. Of couse there are all manner of arguments against this, but ultimately she is the only candidate with any chance of stopping Goldsmith. I would say the same if it were a Labour or a Green candidate who was most likely to win. I suspect that Laour will reject this notion, not least because the Lib Dems were in bed with the Tories just over a year ago. This would be a huge mistake. Whatever faults the coalition had, and these were numerous, it was a far better government than this hard right Tory regime we are now lumbered with. A Goldsmith victory will simplyencourage the likes of Boris and David Davis to be even more gung ho.

Yesterday I filled my van up with Diesel. This was more than 10% more expensive than it was in May. The reason for this is that the pound has tumbled since Brexit. Fuel is priced in dollars. This not only hits fuel costs directly, but everything that is transported. We had the Marmite crisis and now we hear that Apple are hiking prices. All of this is down to the Brexit vote. We are lucky that Mr Goldsmith has given us a referendum on his hard right, uber Tory isolationist, UKIP endorsed views.

I urge everyone who rejects such a person to get behind Sarah Olney and send Mr Goldsmith packing.

Sunday 30 October 2016

Is Fred Flintstone moving to Edgware?

I was driving past the old disused Edgware Pitch and Put yesterday and I was intrigued to see what looks like Fred Flintstones house being built. As I was in a rush, I didn't get a chance to take a picture. Fortunately Hugh Rayner was equally intrigued and has kindly supplied me with a picture.

Does anyone have any idea what this actually is? I suggested to Hugh that it is Capita's new headquarters, although he is equally mysified.
Fred Flinstones new Gaffe? Barnet Councils new Office? What is this

I'm all for a bit of architectural diversity. This certainly has caught my eye.

The Tweets of The Week in The London Borough of Barnet 30/11/2016

Don't forget to follow our tweeters if you like what they are doing!
Without further ado.....

1. Sparrowharks in Burnt Oak, whatever next?

2. This is a great tweet.

3. Looking for a bit of fun on Thursday in Colindale

4. Angie is worried about overdevelopment in Colindale. So are we!

5. It was halloween and the Bohemia probably had the best treats to celebrate!

6. The acting CEO of Barnet Council has been out and about enjoying himself. Looks likes fun

7. We like to kee you informed about fun things in our communty. This looks like a cracker!

8. Unlike Donald Trump, this is the only pussy we'll be mentioning this week!
9. Yet another spectacular picture from our friends at the Finchley Horticultural Society

10. And finally, Mill Hills favourite Studio has teamed up with Jam24 Radio, Dingwalls and The Hard Rock Cafe to give a platform to some great local artists

Saturday 29 October 2016

Londons unknown musical gems #1 - Johnny Mars - Blues legend

The Mighty Johnny Mars
A new occasional series on the Barnet Eye. We'll be covering London Musical gems, who never really "made it", but for a period were the hottest acts in town. I have chosen to start with Johnny Mars. I used to see Johnny Mars back in the 1980's with his blues band. They were the best pub/club band in town. Johnny hails from South Carolina and spent the late 1960's playing around the states. In his words "playing Woodstock before it was Woodstock". Anyone who was a good friend of mine in the 1980's would have been dragged screaming to see Johnny. They were never dragged a second time! For me he was the epitome of what a Blues band should be. Then he seemed to disappear.

On Wednesday, I got in touch with Robert Elms on his Notes and Queries to ask what happened. I'd tried googling him, but in the sands of time misspelt his name (adding an extra r) so I hadn't found anything. Sure enough, we got the full story (you can listen here - I am on between 10 and 10:30 and the answer was after 12:00 - A member of Johnnys band called up as did several friends. Even better, on Thursday the man himself called Robert. It was a great interview - it was on at 11:50 ( ) Johnny now lives in Devon but is still a very active musician. It is well worth a listen.

You can find out more about Johnny at his website. I have put together a short playlist on Spotify as an introduction for those of you who haven't heard of him. If you are partial to a little bit of blues and harmonica, he really is the man!

Friday 28 October 2016

The Friday Joke - 28/10/2016

There ya go bro! Job done
It's Friday! Plan your next move, start the weekend!

We always start the weekend with a joke, to set you off on the right track!

I asked my wife if there was anything I ever did which ruined her enjoyment when she's making love. She replied "Yes, when you say "Honey I'm home""

Have a great weekend!

Thursday 27 October 2016

The people vs Barnet Council

Democracy, you know, that process where you elect people to govern and make decisions.
None other than Winston Churchill, the greatest ever Tory PM said of it "the worst type of government, apart from all of the others". I wonder what he'd make of the Barnet Tory administration.

We have a system where the council have outsourced planning, council housing and cemetery management.  Councillors no longer have a direct route to the people who manage the services.

As a result we see terrible decisions, which are sometimes unlawful, being taken with no regard for democracy. Contracts are so long that administration change has no realistic impact on service delivery. Recently we've even seen councillors tweeting that council officers, who are simply paid employees of the council, are telling them what to do. Sadly, these tweets aren't highlighting the scandalous nature of this phenomenon. They are thanking officers for being generous with their time!

In short, is the electors and taxpayers, are being treated with contempt. Does no Barnet politician understand the concept of local democracy any more?

Wednesday 26 October 2016

The Wednesday Poem #1 - Blaze Glory

This is a new series. Every Wednesday, I am going to feature a poem and a picture about our neighbourhood. If you have a poem and a picture you'd like to feature, just email to me using the link in the sidebar. I've witten poetry for many years, for my own amusement. I hope you enjoy it.

Image may contain: sky, tree, cloud, plant, outdoor and nature

Blaze Glory
To a backdrop of slate grey sky
red is the colour as the maple leaves die
As the maple leaf falls
It cries out with the passion for beauty,
Why die with not so much as a whisper,
When you can blaze glory across an autumnal sky

Copyright -  Roger Tichborne October 2016 

Picture taken Millway, Mill Hill, London 23/10/2016

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Heathrow decision commentary - Time to take politics out of infrastructure

So after decades the British government has (yet again) decided to build a third runway at Heathrow. Gordon Brown took the same decision eight years ago. At the time, the Tories (then in opposition) opposed the scheme. Now the position has been reveresed. Theresa May, in 2008 an opponent, has taken the plunge.  The opposition of the day sees votes in opposing schemes, appealing to nimby voters. Now I am not saying Heathrow is the right place to expand our airport capacity. I really don't know. There are all manner of valid arguments against a new runway at Heathrow. Some are raised by environmentalists, some by the neighbours, some by other areas that want the investment. There are also clear arguments in favour, not least that it had to go somewhere and why not capitalise on our best airport brand.

Heathrow isn't the only big infrastructure project that the government is pushing. We have HS2, we have Hinkley point and we have a slew of other projects, such as Great Western Electrification, Midland Mainline Electrification, City Airport Expansion, Crossrail, Crossrail 2, The London Sewer tunnel,  the list goes on. As someone who has always taken a keen interest in infrastructure, the one thing about all of these schemes is that all have been talked about for decades in some  form or the other. Some such as Great Western and Midland mainline are absolute no brainers. Some such as Hinkley point are massively controversial, but also desperately needed if we need the country to function. Then there are HS2 and Heathrow. Both can be justified, but also there are solid arguments for alternative schemes, many of which seem to offer far better solutions and better value for  money, to the anti campaigners, if no one else.

What is clear to me is that there is absolutely no joined up thinking on infrastructure spending. Billions are wasted on stop/start/stop/start projects.  Costs are trimmed to meet short term goals, which ultimately result in huge long term increases. A great example of this is how the Thameslink 2000 project (they dropped the 2000 bit from the name when it became an embarrassment, drawing attention to just how late the project is). Again it is a complete no brainer, but despite first having been proposed in the early 1980's by the GLC, it is only now reaching its final stages. The costs are perhaps ten times what was originally projected. London commuters have had decades of overcrowding. The reason for all of these delays/cost excalations?

That is simple, Politicians interfering. Each administration has its own pet projects. As a result, the previous lots obsessessions get paired back/canned/redrawn(*Delete as appropriate). You don't have to be a genius to see that this is a ridiculous system. We need to get the politics out of infrastructure planning and start thinking in a joined up manner. We need to ask if these projects are the best way to spend the billions. We need Hinkley point because we will not be generating enough electricity if it is not built. If we don't generate enough electricity, HS 2 won't run (neither will any other trains). But if we change the law so all new homes are properly insulated and all refurbishments are energy efficient, could we pair back our requirements. There's more than one way to balance our energy load. Will the new electric trains use energy recycling (where braking feeds energy back into the grid).  When we build new shopping centres like Brent Cross (also approved today, do we stipulate that they should be carbon neutral. Does HS2 and other rail schemes mean we need more or less runway space? HS1 has massively changed the transport mode used to travel to Paris. Is this a better model. I don't kn ow, I'm not qualified to answer, but I don't trust the politicans to deliver the right decisions. They have an awful track record. What we need is a better way of planning and spending on such projects. A Royal Commission would be a good first step. If things are needed lets build them and build them quickly, but lets ensure the decisions really are the best ones.

Barnet Council - Should the council childrens services be paying for Sky TV subscriptions?

An interesting file on the council website details the credit card payments made by the council on credit cards. My eye was drawn to these

Children's Family Services Other Services SKY SUBSCRIPTION 25/06/2015 4427 69.5
Children's Family Services Other Services SKY SUBSCRIPTION 25/08/2015 5116 69.5
Children's Family Services Other Services SKY SUBSCRIPTION 25/09/2015 5423 69.5
Children's Family Services Other Services SKY SUBSCRIPTION 25/11/2015 6134 69.5
Children's Family Services Other Services SKY SUBSCRIPTION 26/01/2016 6808 69.5
Children's Family Services Other Services SKY SUBSCRIPTION 27/07/2015 4798 69.5
Children's Family Services Other Services SKY SUBSCRIPTION 27/10/2015 5768 69.5
Children's Family Services Other Services SKY SUBSCRIPTION 28/12/2015 6542 69.5
Children's Family Services Other Services SKY SUBSCRIPTION 25/02/2016 7203 69.3

Just a quick question. Who gets Sky TV premium subscrtions on the taxpayer ?

25/06/2015 4427 69.5

25/08/2015 5116 69.5

25/09/2015 5423 69.5

25/11/2015 6134 69.5

26/01/2016 6808 69.5

27/07/2015 4798 69.5

27/10/2015 5768 69.5

28/12/2015 6542 69.5

25/02/2016 7203 69.3

Monday 24 October 2016

Rog T's Cancer Blog - PSA test is a life saver

For those of you who are regular readers and have read the previous posts on Cancer, you can skip this first paragraph. I write this blog because knowledge is power and if you know what you are dealing with, you have more weapons in the locker to fight it. It is a personal view, I'm not medically qualified. This is for the sole purpose of information for those who are interested. This is the latest installment in my occasional series about how I'm adjusting to living with a big C in my life.  For those of you who aren't, here's a quick summary. I'm 53 years old and in October 2011 I  had a prostate biopsy following two "slightly high" PSA tests - 2.8 & 4.1. The biopsy took ten tissue samples and one of these showed a "low grade cancer" which gave me a 3+3 on the Gleason scale. I'm now on a program of active monitoring.  In early February, I got the results of the a PSA test - down to 3.5 and an MRI scan which found absolutely nothing, two more tests in 2012 were at 3.5 and 3.9, in 2013 my test was 4.0, Jan 2014 was 3.8, August 2014 was 4.0,  February 2015 it was  up to 5.5  and my latest in August 2015 was down again at 4.6. In October 2015 I had a transperinial Prostate biopsy, that revealed higher grade cancer and my Gleason score was raised to 3+4 (Small mass + more aggressive cancer), albiet with small mass. On 22nd Jan 2016 I had HIFU (Hi Intensity Focused Ultrasound) treatment at UCHL). My post procedure PSA in May was 4.0 which was down, followed by 3.7 in August, which means that the direction is positive . I've no symptoms and sadly for a few people, if I'm gonna die soon, it won't be from Prostate cancer. Got the picture?

It is now eight months since I had HIFU therapy to kill the aggressive cancer cells in my Prostate. There has been no news on the subject since my last blog in August, I wasn't planning another installment when I got up this morning. But to quote MacMillan "Events" occurred. In short, I woke up and on the radio, BBC London was reporting that 40 medical procedures have been deemed unnecessary. To my amazement, the PSA test was deemed one of the unnecessary procedures. The BBC website reports "Routine screening for prostate conditions using a test known as a Prostate Specific Antigen, or PSA test, does not lead to longer life and can bring unnecessary anxiety".

I was astounded. Prostate cancer is a progressive disease. The earlier it is detected, the wider the range of treatment options and the less impact it will have on your life. Of course most men given a PSA test will test negative and of those that have high readings, some will have unnecessary MRI scans or prostate biopsies. For those men, it is clearly unnecessary and unpleasant. But for people like me, had I not had a Prostate biopsy in 2011, I would not have been on a program of active surveillance. If I had not been on that, then last year, no one would have picked up that the cancer had become more aggressive. I would be completely unaware of this. The first I would have known would have been when it started to spread. At that point, low impact procedures, such as HIFU would not be an option. I would simply be in a situation where I would be taking medication to slow the progression. Who knows whether it would have killed me, but I most certainly would want the choice in dealing with it. I have many friends who have also been diagnosed. Three as a direct result of PSA tests following reading my blog. In one case, the disease was more progressive and was caught just in time. There were no symptoms.

I immediately rang BBC London and spoke to Vanessa Feltz (you can listen on todays iPlayer). I explained my circumstances. Immediately after my call, another chap called up who's husbands life had been saved by a PSA test, which flagged up an aggressive cancer shortly before it spread.

It is probably true to say that statistically the majority of PSA tests do not result in lengthening of the life of the person. But in a significant minority, such as me, it is highly likely to be hugely beneficial. the ideal time to detect prostate cancer is when it is in early stages and non aggressive. At present, this can only be done via  a PSA test. For most, they will simply go onto a program of active survelliance. This allows the cancer to be monitored and dealt with, when it becomes appropriate.

One other thing I have done as a result of the PSA test. I have significantly changed my diet and exercise regime. I am healthier and fitter than I was in 2011. The test gave me the opportunity to review my lifestyle and adapt it. This is a personal choice that I wouldn't have made, had I not had the PSA test. To deem a PSA test a waste of money, could condemn people in my situation in 2011 to an early death, unnecessary treatments and  misery. Of course biopsies and blood tests are unpleasant. I have friends with late stage prostate cancer. That is far worse. That is a bullet I hopefully will dodge. Preventative medicine is the best form. That is what the PSA test is. The longer cancer is undetected, the more dangerous it is. If you have a PSA test and it is low, then you are now worse off than you would have been otherwise, save for a small blood test. If you are in my situation, you'd feel completely different.

The Tichborne Curse

It's Monday morning. I thought I'd share with you all the tragic story of our families curse! The good news is that it means we've been a rather charitable lot since 1150. Personally I would be on the side of Lady Mabellene rather than my namesake Sir Roger!

Sunday 23 October 2016

"They've cleared out your desk" - New ideas and outsourcing - A message from The False Dots

The Barnet Eye 8h Birthday party
On Friday night, we celebrated the 8th Annivesary of this blog. It was really nice to chat to a few readers who I'd never met before, at our 8th Birthday party at The Chandos Arms. The music was provided by my band, The False Dots. We've been going in various forms since 1979. Since 2012, author Allen Ashley has been singing with the band. Allen was originally the singer with the band in 1985.

One of the reasons I was particularly keen on joining forces again with Allen is that he's a talented lyricist and puts a lot of passion into the delivery of the songs. After Pete Conway left the band in 1980, I'd mostly written the songs on my own. Although I enjoyed it, I've always worked better in a team. Allen is not afraid to tackle controversial issues in songs. WIth some of our singers, they were reluctant to "get too political". With Allen, there is no such reticence, although neither or us are interested in writing overtly party political songs. We tend to concentrate on using the songs to get a message over.

For the Blog birthday party, we were especially keen to play one of our new selection of songs. The lyrrics were written by Allen. It is called "They've cleared out your desk". It is the story of Mr A, who arrives at work to find his desk has been cleared and his years of experience and hard work have been cast aside, in the name of "new ideas and outsourcing". The song ends with Allen singing "So we wish you all the best, now go line up with the rest, of the ex employees, of the British Industries".

Regular readers will recognise that outsourcing and the exporting of jobs has been a major concern of this blog. The song seemed to be very appropriate to premiere at the Barnet Eye Birthday Gig. Recently it was announced that Bob Dylan has received a Nobel Prize for literature. Dylan is one of the great writers of protest songs and songs which make you think. I wouldn't be so presumptious as to compare our material to Bob Dylan, but he is a definate inspiration to both myself and Allen. What I particularly admire about Dylan is that he is totally without fear in his lyrics and choice of subject matter. Whether he is writing a song like Hurricane, about a man on death row or Lay Lady Lay, which is a sensuous love song, the same passions is there in the writing and the delivery.

What I find tragic is that, by and large, mainstream bands and artists have stopped writing songs trying to put the world to rights. It is great to have anthems to march to. It was quite pleasing to me that after we played someone complemented me on "They've cleared out your desk" saying that it is an important subject. After I shared the page on Facebook, one of my friends commented to another "This should be your old firms anthem". To me that tells me that we've got something right. When we play, we try and make our shows as enjoyable as possible. On Friday, we were jumping on tables. Some of our songs are love songs, some are to lost loves. We do a song about football, an anthem to the fans, rather than the clubs, players and owners. It is quite interesting how the attitudes of fans has remained the same, despite the complete change in the way clubs are run and the obscene amounts players are paid. Today I watched Chelsea thrash Man United. I was disgusted by the reaction of the Utd players at the end of the match. They were laughing and joking and swapping shirts. These overpaid primadonna's didn't seem to have a care in the world. Ownership of clubs has been outsourced to the US, The Far East and Oil rich Arabs and Russians. They realise that you can make a shedload of money out of mugs like me, who have sons who want relpica tops. Most of the football shirts we buy are produced in the far east, by workers being paid a fraction of the minimum wage. The shirts cost nxt to nothing to manufacture, but when they are sold in the club "megastore", we pay hugely inflated amounts. I probably wouldn't mind if just a fraction of this bonanza made its was back to kids playing football on a sunday morning in the parks and sports grounds. Sadly, when my son was playing youth football, not a penny came back. As parents on occasion we had to have a whip around for kit for some of the boys with less well off parents.

The sad thing with all of the effects of outsourcing is that it may be good for shareholders of multi national companies, but it is devastating for local communities. North West London used to have hundreds, if not thousands of small engineering firms. They've nearly all disappeared, with them the expertise and know how. Have a look around your house. How many items have been manufactured in the UK? Now of course the argument is that it is cheaper to import, but is it really? When we have to pay people to do nothing, it puts up taxes. Ultimately you pay less to the shopkeeper but more to the taxman. It also makes our eonomy vulnerable. Since we decided to vote for Brexit, the value of the pound has tumbled. Because we don't make things anymore, we have to import, and now everything is 25% more expensive. Because we've lost the capacity to manufacture, we have no choice.

This blog has to date published 4,816 different posts.  We've covered a whole host of subjects and helped hundreds, if not thousands of people with all manner of issues. On Friday night, one of the blog readers made a rather interesting comment. He said "Where do you find the time to do all this, run your business, play in a band and writing the blog". Well I suppose there are two things. I actually type very quickly. I write most of my blogs mentally, on buses, trains, walking the dog and walking to the pub. At any one time, I have at least six or seven blog posts on the go. It is quite interesting to me that the less work I put in, usually the more hits I get. Some blogs, I work on for weeks, only to get minimal interest. The blog post this year that has received the most hits, was not even written by me. It was a guest blog, by a young man living with autism, who told me how his freedom pass had been taken away. I read his message just before going out to get a train. I simply thought "I'd better put this blog out right away". So I cut and pasted it in and posted it. I hadn't even considered that it might be a wider issue. It was only when all the emails started arriving.

What was clear to me, was that the Freedom Pass debacle was a direct result of the One Barnet Capita outsourcing. The lack of democratic control and the disconnection of provision of Council services from the locality where they are needed. When you ring Barnet Council switchboard now, it isn't in Barnet. Hundreds of local jobs disappeared. As Allen says in They've cleared out your desk - "They'll get in someone new and fresh, who won't draw on experience, who won't insist it all makes sense" - which is exactly what is happened in the case of the Freedom pass debacle.

It has to be said. Bands have a platform. We should use it responsibly and if something is wrong call it out. Of course we have to make it sound great as well. Anyway, many thanks to John V. Keough, for videoing the performance for posterity. I think it is a great song with a powerful message. We will soon be making a proper recording and video of the song, which I have already started storyboarding. It lends itself to a video.Anyway, for your enjoyment, here is a video of the world wide debut of They've Cleared Out Your Desk.

And finally.... If you want to have a listen to the party playlist on Spotify - Here it is, so you now have some idea of what my idea of great party music is!

The tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet - 23/10/2016

We had a little birthday party this week, so we'll start in self indulgent fashion!

1. We had a little birthday party and the lovely @BuzzingHelen made us a lovely cake!

2. And unusually, our second tweet is also from Mark Richards, on a totally different topic

3. Gary Bussey is sick of fly tipping in Burnt Oak. So are we.

4. Mark Amies is still on the case for the Railway in Edgware

5. Nice pucture from the Finchley Horticultural Society

6. Barnet Rebel has been giving blood. Have you considered it?

7.. We have a new royal tree in Hendon!

8. Rob Wickham AKA The Bishop of Edmonton is recognising great community work in Golders Green

9. Need some new clobber? Check out the Noahs Ark hospice shop!

10. And we finish with a beautiful Mill Hill sunset

Saturday 22 October 2016

The Saturday List #102 - People who should get the nobel prize

Bob Dylan has been awarded a Nobel Prize for literature for the amzing body of work he's produced. It got me thinking. Do you know what Nobel prizes are awarded for? I think we all know about the Peace prize. The rest are Chemistry, Literature, Peace, Physics, and Physiology or Medicine .

I was interested to see who from the UK had won a prize. The list is at the bottom of the page. I was rather surprised by some of the names that were there and perhaps some that weren't. Clearly Winston Churchill deserved a Nobel Prize, but for literature? I was also interested to note that David Trimble was the last UK recipient of a Peace prize. Our last winner of a literature prize was Doris Lessing. I'm not really qualified to comment on the prizes for Physics, Chemistry or Medicine. It is good to see Alexander Fleming inventor of Penecillin there. I guess I was surprised that I didn't see Stephen Hawkings name in there. He is probably the physicist who is best known.

Anyway, I thought I'd compile my own list. As I said, I can't really comment too much on the scientific categories, beyond the obvious one.

1. Sir Bob Geldolf/Midge Ure - Peace prize for Live Aid/Band Aid
2. Joni Mitchell - Literature
3. Stephen Hawkings - Physics
4. JK Rowling - Literature
5. Pope Francis - Peace
6. Tim Berners Lee (inventor of the world Wide Web) - Medicine
7. Ken Loach - Peace
8. John Lydon - Literature
9. Julio Palmaz (inventor of the vascular stent) - Medicine
10. Paul Simon - Literature

Here's why
1. Sir Bob Geldolf/Midge Ure - Peace prize for Live Aid/Band Aid
Saved millions of people. I was amazed not to see them in the list.

2. Joni Mitchell - Literature
An awesome wordsmith. If Bob Dylan deserves a prize then Ms Mitchell most certainly does. The list of winners is very light in females. I think women are often overlooked.

3. Stephen Hawkings - Physics
Popularised physics. An inspiration to us all.

4. JK Rowling - Literature
I suspect that no one on the planet has got more people picking up books than JK Rowling. For that alone she deserves the prize. I suspect she's not highbrow enough for the panel.

5. Pope Francis - Peace
For most of my life I've felt a bit embarrassed to say I'm a Roman Catholic. Pope Francis has changed that. A truly spiritual man who seems to me to be doing hs best to spread peace and reconciliation.

6. Tim Berners Lee (inventor of the world Wide Web) - Medicine
Can someone who doesn't work in the field win the prize? Tim Berners Lee should, because the World Wide Web has transformed medicine.

7. Ken Loach - Peace
Ken Loach has spent his life educating us all through his films. I can't think of anyone who deserves a Nobel prize more.

8. John Lydon - Literature
To some this may seem an odd choice, but to me Lydon is the epitome of the triumph of the underdog His lyrics are sharp and difficult and his books spiky, but I believe he's made a huge difference and has taught many of us who felt downtrodden to stand up for ourselves. 

9. Julio Palmaz (inventor of the vascular stent) - Medicine
I've got at least half a dozen friends who have been saved by vascular stents. It is one of my missions to get Juli Palmaz a bit of recognition, if for no other reason than he's given me many precious evenings with friends who would probably have died.

10. Paul Simon - Literature
To me another one up there with Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. Simon has done more than anyone to popularise world music. His songs are beautiful and haunting.

And here's the full list of UK winners. I'm both proud of it and slighly disappointed.

United Kingdom

  1. Oliver Hart, Economics, 2016
  2. Fraser Stoddart, Chemistry, 2016
  3. David J. Thouless, Physics, 2016
  4. F. Duncan M. Haldane, Physics, 2016
  5. John M. Kosterlitz, Physics, 2016
  6. Angus Deaton, Economics, 2015
  7. Tomas Lindahl, born in Sweden, Chemistry, 2015
  8. John O'Keefe, born in the United States, Physiology or Medicine, 2014
  9. Michael Levitt*, as an Israeli citizen, Chemistry, 2013
  10. Peter Higgs, Physics, 2013
  11. John B. Gurdon, Physiology or Medicine, 2012
  12. Konstantin Novoselov, born in Russia, Physics, 2010
  13. Robert G. Edwards, Physiology or Medicine, 2010
  14. Doris Lessing, born in Iran, Literature, 2007
  15. Sir Martin J. Evans, Physiology or Medicine, 2007
  16. Oliver Smithies*, Physiology or Medicine, 2007
  17. Harold Pinter, Literature, 2005
  18. Clive W. J. Granger*, Economics, 2003
  19. Anthony J. Leggett*, Physics, 2003
  20. Peter Mansfield, Physiology or Medicine, 2003
  21. Sydney Brenner, born in South Africa, Physiology or Medicine, 2002
  22. John E. Sulston, Physiology or Medicine, 2002
  23. Tim Hunt, Physiology or Medicine, 2001
  24. Paul Nurse, Physiology or Medicine, 2001
  25. V. S. Naipaul, born in Trinidad, Literature, 2001
  26. David Trimble, Peace, 1998
  27. John Pople, Chemistry, 1998
  28. John E. Walker, Chemistry, 1997
  29. Harold Kroto, Chemistry, 1996
  30. James A. Mirrlees, Economics, 1996
  31. Joseph Rotblat*, born in then Russian Empire, now Poland, Peace, 1995
  32. Richard J. Roberts, Physiology or Medicine, 1993
  33. Michael Smith*, Chemistry, 1993
  34. Ronald Coase,based in the United States Economics, 1991
  35. James W. Black, Physiology or Medicine, 1988
  36. Niels Kaj Jerne*, Physiology or Medicine, 1984
  37. Cรฉsar Milstein, born in Argentina, Physiology or Medicine, 1984
  38. Richard Stone, Economics, 1984
  39. William Golding, Literature, 1983
  40. Aaron Klug, born in Lithuania, Chemistry, 1982
  41. John Robert Vane, Physiology or Medicine, 1982
  42. Elias Canetti, born in Bulgaria, Literature, 1981
  43. Frederick Sanger, Chemistry, 1980
  44. Arthur Lewis, born on St. Lucia, Economics, 1979
  45. Godfrey Hounsfield, Physiology or Medicine, 1979
  46. Peter D. Mitchell, Chemistry, 1978
  47. James Meade, Economics, 1977
  48. Nevill Francis Mott, Physics, 1977
  49. Amnesty International, Peace, 1977
  50. Betty Williams, Peace, 1976
  51. John Cornforth, born in Australia, Chemistry, 1975
  52. Christian de Duve*, Physiology or Medicine, 1974
  53. Friedrich Hayek, born in Austria, Economics, 1974
  54. Martin Ryle, Physics, 1974
  55. Antony Hewish, Physics, 1974
  56. Patrick White*, Literature, 1973
  57. Geoffrey Wilkinson, Chemistry, 1973
  58. Brian David Josephson, Physics, 1973
  59. Rodney Robert Porter, Physiology or Medicine, 1972
  60. John Hicks, Economics, 1972
  61. Dennis Gabor, born in Hungary, Physics, 1971
  62. Bernard Katz, born in Germany, Physiology or Medicine, 1970
  63. Derek Harold Richard Barton, Chemistry, 1969
  64. Ronald George Wreyford Norrish, Chemistry, 1967
  65. George Porter, Chemistry, 1967
  66. Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, Chemistry, 1964
  67. Andrew Huxley, Physiology or Medicine, 1963
  68. Alan Lloyd Hodgkin, Physiology or Medicine, 1963
  69. John Kendrew, Chemistry, 1962
  70. Max Perutz, born in Austria, Chemistry, 1962
  71. Francis Crick, Physiology or Medicine, 1962
  72. Maurice Wilkins, born in New Zealand, Physiology or Medicine, 1962
  73. Peter Medawar, born in Brazil (British citizen only), Physiology or Medicine, 1960
  74. Philip Noel-Baker, Peace, 1959
  75. Frederick Sanger, Chemistry, 1958
  76. Alexander R. Todd, Baron Todd, Chemistry, 1957
  77. Cyril Norman Hinshelwood, Chemistry, 1956
  78. Max Born, born in then Germany, now Poland, Physics, 1954
  79. Winston Churchill, Literature, 1953
  80. Hans Adolf Krebs, born in Germany, Physiology or Medicine, 1953
  81. Archer John Porter Martin, Chemistry, 1952
  82. Richard Laurence Millington Synge, Chemistry, 1952
  83. John Cockcroft, Physics, 1951
  84. Bertrand Russell, Literature, 1950
  85. Cecil Frank Powell, Physics, 1950
  86. John Boyd Orr, Peace, 1949
  87. T. S. Eliot, born in the United States, Literature, 1948
  88. Patrick Blackett, Baron Blackett, Physics, 1948
  89. Edward Victor Appleton, Physics, 1947
  90. Robert Robinson, Chemistry, 1947
  91. Friends Service Council, Peace, 1947
  92. Ernst Boris Chain, born in Germany, Physiology or Medicine, 1945
  93. Alexander Fleming, Physiology or Medicine, 1945
  94. George Paget Thomson, Physics, 1937
  95. Robert Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, Peace, 1937
  96. Norman Haworth, Chemistry, 1937
  97. Henry Hallett Dale, Physiology or Medicine, 1936
  98. James Chadwick, Physics, 1935
  99. Arthur Henderson, Peace, 1934
  100. Norman Angell, Peace, 1933
  101. Paul Dirac, Physics, 1933
  102. Charles Scott Sherrington, Physiology or Medicine, 1932
  103. John Galsworthy, Literature, 1932
  104. Edgar Adrian, 1st Baron Adrian, Physiology or Medicine, 1932
  105. Arthur Harden, Chemistry, 1929
  106. Frederick Hopkins, Physiology or Medicine, 1929
  107. Owen Willans Richardson, Physics, 1928
  108. Charles Thomson Rees Wilson, Physics, 1927
  109. Austen Chamberlain, Peace, 1925
  110. George Bernard Shaw, born in Ireland, Literature, 1925
  111. John James Rickard Macleod*, Physiology or Medicine, 1923
  112. Francis William Aston, Chemistry, 1922
  113. Frederick Soddy, Chemistry, 1921
  114. Charles Glover Barkla, Physics, 1917
  115. William Henry Bragg, Physics, 1915
  116. William Lawrence Bragg, born in Australia, Physics, 1915
  117. Ernest Rutherford, born in New Zealand, Chemistry, 1908
  118. Rudyard Kipling*, born in India, Literature, 1907
  119. J. J. Thomson, Physics, 1906
  120. John Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh, Physics, 1904
  121. William Ramsay, Chemistry, 1904
  122. William Randal Cremer, Peace, 1903
  123. Ronald Ross*, born in India, Physiology or Medicine, 1902

Friday 21 October 2016

The Friday Joke - 21/10/2016 - France vs USA

An American and a Frenchman have both recently become widowed. They both book a cruise and end up sharing a dining table. Both are still greiving, but being competetive, their conversation inevitably becomes competetive. We will call them Donald and Francoise for the purposes of the joke.

Francoise - I miss my wife, every morning we would walk down to the cafe, share a shot of espresso and a cigarette.

Donald - I miss my wife, she had great boobs, I spent $10,000 at the finest cosmetic surgeon making them perfect.

Francoise  - Yes, I miss my wife, she was chic and she always looked a million dollars, even when she was was washing the dishes

Donald - Yes, I spent a million dollars on my wife and hired a maid so she didn't have to wash the dishes!

Francoise - Oh, I miss my wife so much she was a great cook, every meal was like a banquet, she could take the cheapest cuts of meat, vegetables from our garden and make the finest dinner. She could always get the best wine at the best price.

Donald - Yes, I miss the banquets I shared with my wife, I hired her a cook and a somelier and we ate only the finest cuts and the best vegetables from the supermarket.

Francoise - Oh I miss my wife so much, she tended our garden and it was ablaze with the most beautiful flowers and the tastiest vegetables.

Donald - I hired the finest gardener for my wife and we bought only the best plants from the finest nursery in the state of New York. Our Garden was the finest in the state.

Francoise - Oh I miss my wife, every year we would drive to the South of France for the summer holiday. We would stay in a lovely Gite that was very cheap and very good, it was beautiful. My wife would drive me everywhere, so I could enjoy the wine and she could watch her figure.

Donald - I hired a chauffer for my wife and we used to stay at the finest hotels. I paid for liposuction for my wife every year so she could keep her figure.

Francoise - But most of all I miss my wife because we made love every night, she would spare nothing to please and satisfy me. There is nothing in life, better than a beautiful woman who loves you and wants to make you happy.

Donald -  Do you play golf?

Have a great weekend.

Thursday 20 October 2016

The Barnet Eye 8th Birthday Party back story - The Origins of The False Dots part I & II

A page from my scrapbook
Intro - There have been two major things (apart from friends and family) in my life that I have great pride in. One is my music and the other is my blog. My blog is clearly documented here. My music is documented in a far more fragmented manner in my scrapbook and various press cuttings, blogs, videos and articles. I am in the process of writing a screenplay of the early days of the band, up to our chaotic first gig. The way bands get together is the most interesting bit. Once they have settled down, it all gets a bit dull. Anyway, I thought that as the band and the blog collide tomorrow night as we play at the Barnet Eye 8th Birthday Party, I'd share a bit of the story of the origin of the band with you. This is the story of 1979 and 1980, recorded verbatim in my scrapbook, this is the world through the eyes of a 16-17 year old Rog T, when my band really was the most important thing in my life (the brackets are my added notes from today).

1979 - The Beginning - A lesson in how you can never know what is really happening.

Line up R.M Tichborne  Guitar, Dave Edwards, Mandy Spokes Guitar then vocals, Pete Conway - the Cadillac Kid Bass/vocals

Formed to this line up 14th February 1979. Most of the songs were 3 chord thrashes with highly political lyrics. This line up never gigged. Dave was thrown through a shop window in August 1979 and the band only rehearesed twice more before splitting up (Sep 3rd 1979). Sole claim to fame is an interview with fanzine Xpert i which came out in October 1979. The set consisted of The Mill Hill Song, Power Game, Never Free, Factory, Political Warning, Wrong, Bone, I wanna be loved (Heartbreakers cover), Wild Thing (Troggs Cover), Bonjour Mon Chere (Plastic Bertrand pisstake), Johnny B. Goode (Chuck Berry Cover), Rockabilly Guy (Polecats Cover), Live Fast Die Young, No Confidence.

(Rogs Note - Interesting to note the covers, mostly these were an unambitious collection that were easy to play. Apart from Bonjour Monsiour (which was a Pete Conway Special), we have performed all of them at various times with subsequent line ups as set fillers, when we had long shows to perform. We never performed any of originals, mostly because they were rubbish. The page is also littered with nasty comments about ex band members scrawled on after the acrimony of the break up. I wince at a few of them).

1980 - First go at Stardom - it's amazing how your future becomes your past.

After the non achievement of 1979 Pete and Roger and a girl drummer called Deb (in truth recruited because Pete fancied her) decided to resuscitate the band. The first rehearsal was Jan 1st 1980. That line up lasted four rehearsals until Debs left for personal reasons (yep, you can probably guess). Lou, a girl singer then joined. Paul Marvin (son of Shadows Guitarist Hank) then joined as drummer. That line up lasted a couple of months. First we sacked Lou for not turning up to rehearsals thenw e sacked Paul Marvin for not being a good drummer. Dav (a brilliant session drummer, mate of Alan Warner of the Foundations) stepped in to replace him for a studio session in June and stayed till Christmas. Pete Conway was sacked in September for not turning up to rehearsals. Paul Hircombe (who had joined as lead guitar when Paul Marvin was in the band, but this wasn't recorded, they were mates at Moat Mount School) took over bass while Craig (Withecombe) joined on Lead/Rythm guitar. The band rehearsed a few times but then we got offered a gig at Harwood Hall (The Union Church in Mill Hill. This was actually a lie, I set the gig up to try and keep the band together). We decided to do it. We asked Pete (Conway) to rejoin as vocalist for the gig. He never turned up and we had to play reading songs from bits of paper during a couple, but we got a good reaction and in the end were O.K.


There is so much more that went on. I hadn't read that for probably 30 odd years, it is amazing how far the band came. The actual gig was perhaps one of the greatest triumphs of my life. Not because it was any good, I suspect we were pretty dire, but we got carried through on a wave of energy and I think we cobbled together a good show. The local press did a write up and put a picture up, which gave us some profile. Paul Hircombe, Craig and Dav were actually great musicians. What I hadn't said was that Pete and myself had really worked hard on the song writing in 1980. The set was really strong and although I was a rubbish guitarist, the songs had really strong riffs. Craig was able to pull these together and Dav and Paul made us sound like a proper band. At the time, I felt an incredible sense of betrayal at members who didn't turn up for rehearsals and gigs. Paul Hircombe played with the band until shortly before his death from cancer in 2012. I think we've become a great unit. I fell out pretty badly with Craig when he eventually left in 1983. I'd love to catch up with him and have a jam some time, maybe even rerecord a couple of the numbers from that period. I'd also love to know what happened to Dav. He moved back to Shrewesbury and I never knew his surname.


Please come down to The Chandos Arms tomorrow at 8pm for the Barnet Eye party and to see how the band has evolved. It should be fun.

Wise and foolish

'Beware of the Jester, for he sees us as we really are'. I can't remember where I read that but it is a quote that has served me well. If I've ever been in a difficult situation, I've learned that humour can be a great tool.

But the recent 'killer clown' craze has highlighted just how dangerous a mask can be, perhaps more dangerous than a gun or a knife. With an offensive weapon someone may injure or kill you, but with ill intent masked behind a phoney smile, they can gain your trust, turn friends against you,  destroy you and leave you in the gutter.

I was pondering these thoughts as I read the reports of the final US presidential race. It is clear by now that Trump is a clown. Any vestiges of being a serious politician have evaporated. His braggart tendencies and wild exxagerations have long since ceased to be funny. If I were a Republican, I would be distraught. I believe Hillary is a poor candidate. She may well be a good President, as she is clever, serious and tough, but she is a lousy campaigner. A decent republican would have beaten her.

The difficult truth for the Republican Party is that when we stopped laughing, the mask dropped and we saw what Trump really is. Democracy may have its flaws, but at least we get some sort of say. It is looking ever more likely that Trump will flounce off, defeated and discredited. The Republicans deserve to lose badly. It may make them wake up to the fact that a devisive candidate cannot win.

Trump is likely to also damage campaigns in the senate and House of Representatives. It is possible Clinton will be in the strongest position of any President in living memory. For the sake of democracy, let's just hope that the US parties learn the lessons and we move on to a more sane and rational phase of the political cycle.

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Outsourcing and consultants at Barnet Council - spiralling out of control

Since the mass outsourcing started Barnet Council Agency/Consultancy spend has been accelerating out of control from £7,732, 269 in 2012 to a scary £17,907, 052 in 2016.

In the last quarter they have spent £6.9 million, if they carry on there is a high risk that the Council could go over £20 million on agency/consultancy spend.

Just to give a flavour of where the money is being spent, Commissioning service headcount is 170 and their agency spend Quarter 1 16/17 is £1,013,000 compared with Family Services headcount is 638 and their agency spend Quarter 1 16/17 is £1, 782,000.
The other day at the Environment Committee a couple of residents begged the committee to save a partially sighted/blind bowling club from closure over what was a pitiful amount of money. We truly have a Tale of Two Barnets. One set of rules for the multi millionaire consultantcies, another rule for those of us who need a partially sighted bowling club to bring a little joy into their lives. 

The details of the council spending is detailed here -

In the pre Capita days, Barnet Council had a plausible argument that council staff were leaving and it was difficult to recruit with staff likely to be made redundant once Capita took over. Now we have had Capita in place for three years, a steady state should have been reached. In some meetings when challenged, they have been shroud waving saying it is all because they can’t recruit social workers but by analysing the detailed Comensura figures which they publish separately, not within the monthly expenditure, it proves that the problem is much more widespread and that is confirmed in the latest DPR. The total agency and interim spend since 2010 to July 2016 is £83.4 million.

Anyone who has ever run a business or worked in a management position (or even on the shop floor) knows that short term agency staff can never replace qualified and experienced staff. Such staff should only be used to plug short term problems or if there are specific projects, where there will be no jobs at the end of the project. Agency staff are more expensive and generally have less experience than full time employees. I would be interested to know just how many of these consultants were formerly Barnet Council staff, who were given large, tax payer funded redundancy packages, only to be re-employed at inflated contract rates soon after. We all have a vested interest in this because we pay the bills. 

(Many thanks to John Burgess, Derek Dishman and John Dix for input & figures supplied in this blog).