Tuesday 31 January 2017

Guest Blog - Green Belt Destruction... by Green Belt Man

Mill Hill – once it’s gone it’s gone
Since 1972 Hasmonean Girls School in Page Street NW7 has expanded, in an area protected by Green Belt Policies. Now an expansive Planning Application, with theintention to take away much more of our cherished Green Belt land, is with Barnet Council waiting public comments.
Hasmonean propose to acquire 15 additional acres from Barnet Council, and in return, a smaller area of land owned by the school in NW4 would be transferred to the Council. Stop this Planning Application If approved, this wild open space will be bulldozed, built on, and 15 acres securely fenced off - irreplaceable greenbelt land and its public access denied to future generations.

• Imposing 15,300 sq. mt. building
• 21 acre Green Belt site
• Increase in traffic and noise to the area
• Loss of ‘SINC’ Nature Conservation Site
• 1400 Pupils (506 at present)

Help protect the Green Belt
To view and object to this application please go to:
Enter reference ‘16/6662/FUL ‘ into search box at bottom.
Planning Officer: Andrew Dillon
Email: andrew.dillon@barnet.gov.uk
Object now please - time is limited - dont delay - today is the last day for objections!

For further information: (if you wish to object privately see website for details)

Objections accepted to end Jan 2017

A reasoned and logical objection ...
Several local organisations who work in the public interest have looked in depth at the
application, their full and complete objection letters, stating all the reasoned arguments and
Policies that protect green belt, can be found on the Barnet website - or on our website:
Mill Hill Preservation Society: www.green-belt-destruction-nw7.org.uk/mhps.pdf
Mill Hill Neighbourhood Forum: www.green-belt-destruction-nw7.org.uk/mhnf.pdf

The application cites ‘very special circumstances’ for reasons to approve the development ...
The Mill Hill Preservation Society however write:
Car Use The development of 167 parking spaces may well be used by Saracens supporters
on match days (current practice of the school) encouraging car use – is this an end to which
our Green Belt land should find itself ? With an additional 900 pupils during the week, use of
school facilities for social occasions at weekends and evenings - will all add to the noise and
disruption, local people will be forced to endure. Local people are ‘already’ fed up with the near
continuous traffic congestion that exists today, and the area cannot cope with the increased
activity proposed, that will extend beyond school hours, and possibly at weekends.
Community Benefit Despite promises, there is a concern that public facilities are unlikely to be

Alternative Sites Have alternative sites been fully explored ? Hasmonean school should be
more innovative with its land use, a proposed development of what is believed to be 1300
pupils, the Saracens High School, will not be built on Green Belt Land - but in suburban
Colindale, and on just 1/3 the size of area: 7.8 acres. With so many large residential
developments nearby now nearing completion, and possibly more yet to be built in the future,
any cherished Green Belt land, more than ever must be protected from destruction.
Green Belt Destruction...

Mill Hill – once it’s gone it’s gone

Monday 30 January 2017

Donald Trump is not the problem

The problem I have with all of this business about a petition to cancel Trumps visit to the UK to see the Queen is that Trump isnt the problem. He is just doing exactly what he said he would do, much as we'd like to label him as an outsider, he won on the basis that this was exactly what he'd do. This means that its not Trump that is the problem but America and the American system. I wouldn't ask him to dinner, but he is just echoing exactly what the US electorate wanted him to do. We elected a right wing government and as far as I can see Theresa May sees him as being a like minded business partner. As such it is stupid to expect anything else but a Trump visit. I don't want to see campaigns to cancel the visit. That is like treating lung cancer with cough mixture. Anyone who really objects should be out on the street campaigning against our own government and getting organised to fight the next election. However we may feel about Trump, he is not our problem. 

I've written a blog for eight and a half years, trying to highlight injustice, corrpution and malpractice in our own neighbourhood. As a result of my efforts, along with a few other bloggers and campaigners, we've had a degree of success in our neighbourhood. We've seen some rather unpleasant local politicians, who had no respect for the electorate despatched from previously safe seats. We've seen unpopular and dangerous policies reversed. We've seen illegal council policies challenged in the courts and thrown out. Barnet Council is a better place because local people have shown that they are not prepared to be taken for granted. We have no say in what happens in the USA. Whether Trump has tea with the Queen or not makes no difference whatsoever. What we can do is we can challenge racism and inequality in our own neighbourhood. If I was gifted with some sort of special powers where I could change what Tump was doing, I would. But I don't, so I will campaign where I can make a difference and that is here.  

I've just heard Boris Johnson speaking on the issue. We have a spineless and unprincipled government. Johnson admitted it was a bad policy in the USA, but stated that as they are our allies we should simply turn a blind eye. Where will this stop? The answer is it will stop when this government are consigned to the scrapheap of history and we get a government that is prepared to stand up for decency.

Special Showing of I, Daniel Blake at Phoenix Cinema with Ken Loach Q&A

Sunday 29 January 2017

Tweets of The week - 29/01/2016

Once again it's that time of the week where we lovingly gaze at our community through the eyes of our local tweeters! I guess I should just make a little comment here. When I started this particular feature, the local twitter feeds were not stuffed full of estate agents pictures of houses, stock pictures of burgers from restaurants and rather dull pictures from worth organisations of large groups of people trying to force a grin. I'd suggest to any of these organisations, who really want to attract new customers to try posting something a bit more interesting. I look at thousands of tweets a week and it is really quite soul destroying to see the total lack or originality and creativity in the majority of such posts. Oh and don't forget to follow any tweeters here who tickle your fancy and to retweet their posts. If we like what we see share it! Rant over, now enjoy the tweets, there have been some damn fine ones!

1. It seems that Edgware has had a dusting of stardust this week!

2. We are partial to a good bit of sky, especially from our regulars!

2. Great historical piccie from David Fitzgerald

3. Some rather nice pictures of Chemtrails in the morning over Edgware from the deputy Leader of Barnet Council Dan Thomas
4. It seems that Brendan Hoare is rather better at Maths than Morrisons in Colindale - Big fail here!
5. We love a bit of artistis digger photography. Great Shot from Greater London Demolition
6. There are some great concerts coming up in our locality!
7. Did you know that Archbishop Desmond Tutu was once a curate in Golders Green, as they say "The boy done well!"
8. Another of our regulars, Barnet Rebel was rather taken by the ice on Totteridge Long Ponds
9. Fancy doing a bit for your community, fighting pollution and protecting local habitats?
10. The some items from the impressive Mill Hill Music Complex "Hall of Fame"

Saturday 28 January 2017

The Saturday List #114 - Fifteen songs with a London reference in the title (and the Top Ten John Hurt RIP Performances)

Yesterday Robert Elms threw down a challenge to me on his BBC 94.9 show. He didn't realise that he'd done it, but he did. His Friday Fourfar (where he gets listeners to nominate four tracks on a theme) yesterday was songs with American place names in the title. He then made a throwaway comment that you couldn't do one about British places because all the songs are rubbish - citing Little Jimmy Osmond and Long Haired Lover from Liverpool as evidence. Now this really bugged me as a whole stack of tunes came to mind. Then I thought, we don't need the rest of the UK, we could do a great fourfar just from London. I started making a list of tracks I know. I got to 15 and thought that is probably enough. Not only are they songs, but I think they are great songs. Here is the playlist!

1. The Clash - London Calling
2. Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street
3. Elvis Costello and The Attractions  - I don't want to go to Chelsea
4. Eddy Grant  - Electric Avenue
5. The Kinks - Electric Avenue
6. The Pogues - A Rainy night in Soho
7. Lloyd Cole and The Commotions - Charlotte Street
8. David Bowie - The London Boys
9. The Vibrators -  London Girls
10. The Jam - A Bomb in Wardour Street
11. New Vaudeville Band - Finchley Central
12. The Clash - White man in Hammersmith Palais
13. The Fratelis  - Chelsea Dagger
14. Linda Lewis - Hampstead Way
15. The Fall - Victoria

and one for luck!

The Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls

I'd put this list together before I heard the sad news about John Hurt. An iconic actor, who's role as Quentin Crisp in the Naked Civil Servant, probably did more for the LGBT rights than any other single TV program in history.  A truly immense talent. I was thinking about a blog to mark his passing, and found this Youtube video which did the job for me and even better, it's a Top 10 John Hurt performances so it is a Saturday list. That makes today is a first - A double list. Enjoy.

John Hurt RIP - Sadly missed.

Friday 27 January 2017

The Friday Joke - 27/1/2017

Have a great weekend. Here's your Friday funny!

A spiritualist who'd recently been widowed met a colleague and reported excitedly that she'd just received a message from her dead husband - asking her to send him a pack of cigarettes.
"The only thing is," she mused, "that I don't know where to send them."
"Why not?" asked her friend.
"Well, he didn't actually say that he was in Heaven - but I can't imagine he'd be in Hell."
"Hm," responded the friend. "Well, maybe I shouldn't bring this up, but. . . he didn't mention anything about including matches in the package, did he?"

An young man and his date were parked on a back road some distance from town. After sex the girl said, "I really should have mentioned this earlier, but I'am actually a hooker, and I charge $100 for what we just did."
The man retorted, "And I should have mentioned this before, but I'am actually a taxi driver, and the fare back to town is $200.

Thursday 26 January 2017

Guest Blog - Thameslink Compensation Changes - By Mill Hill Mike

Following the recent Thameslink blog, I'd like to remind all affected that since 11th December, the threshold for claiming a refund is now 15 and not 30 minutes. In practice that means, every train cancellation will justify a claim, as with a 10-15 minute gap between trains, the one that follows the cancellation will nearly always arrive more than 15 minutes after, especially with a compounded delay effect at each station caused by the heavy loading and extended station stops. Of my 5 journeys this week, three have been substandard, resulting in two claims already made and this morning on the new class 700, the air con was set to ‘warm Summer’s day’. One more point, on the aforementioned train, the signage (in one example noticed) still states that you can claim if your journey is delayed by > 30 minutes!

Maximising the claims made will ensure the Thameslink feel the full impact of dissatisfaction, along with refunded revenue and what it must be costing them to run the whole show.
Guest blogs are always welcome at The Barnet Eye. Mill Hill Mike is a Mill Hill Resident and Thameslink User.
Ed comment. 
Thanks to Mill Hill Mike. I thought readers may be interested to know that on Tuesday, less than 40% of Thameslink services arrived on time. You can check the daily performance of Thameslink here

If it is any comfort at all,southern and Gatwick express services were even worse with les than 30% on time.

Wednesday 25 January 2017

The Wednesday Poem #10 - A Silly Thing

A Silly Thing

It's such a silly thing,
A shared moment,
A shared smile,
But that is what life is all about.

Copyright 2017 Roger Tichborne

Every Wednesday, we 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 written poetry for many years, for my own amusement. It was suggested that I share some of it. I hope you enjoy it, I'd love to feature anything you have written.

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Trident missile failure - Can we have our money back please Donald?

If what I read is to be believed, the Trident missile test that failed last year was the first test of the system for four years. Like many people, I am not against the UK having some sort of independent nuclear capability, but I have long been of the opinion that Trident was the totally wrong solution. My objections to it are

1. It is not independent, we rely on the USA for the technology.
2. It is not value for money. If deterence is the purpose, we could achieve that far more cheaply.
3. It is not fit for purpose. It was designed for the cold war, which ended in 1990.
4. It is too inflexible. A mnstrous one trick pony, which has no obvious target amongst the many threats we face.

I guess I can now add to the list, the fact that it doesn't work. I am not sure that really bothers me. If ever Theresa May had to authorise the Navy to fire the bloody thing, I can be fairly certain I'm dead. I'm not altogether sure that incinerating some bloke having his breakfast in Moscow will really make the situation any better. As Russians seem to own half of the real estate in London, one has to wonder why they would want to nuke us, but I am sure there are a few nutcases on both sides who positively dream of such a prospect.

The more likely threats to me as a Londoner come from small terror cells in the middle east and elsewhere. To take out such groups with a nuke is a ridiculous concept. Whilst I've heard several pub bores over the last dozen years say we should simply "nuke anywhere that Al Quada and ISIS are based", any sane and rational person would know that such a suggestion would achieve nothing apart from killing millions of innocent people and demonstrating that the bad men were right about us all along. Given that most terror groups plotting against the UK are already here and living amongst us, it would seem a pretty stupid idea all round. Then there are what we define as "rogue nations". The chief bogey man seems to be North Korea. I've yet to see a credible case where they would unilaterally launch and attack, with weapons they don't actually posses yet on the UK.

I tend to agree with the former head of the RAF who suggested scrapping Trident and buying a fleet of nuclear capable bomber planes. This would create jobs, be flexible, cost far less, help us develop modern avionic technology and give us something which could be reused for other functions. The idea of a deterrent is that the other party knows that there is a possibility of terrible consequences for actions. The case for Trident has always been that it is a more reliable system than an aircraft launched system, but clearly this has been blown out of the water.

The sad truth is that we've paid the yanks an arm and a leg for the system. It has now been shown to be defective. Theresa May is nipping over to see Donald Trump and so why not start the conversation by asking for our money back for Trident. With the NHS in crisis, school budgets on the brink and the economy about to take a Brexit induced nose dive, it would be quite useful. Mind you, with the way the current government are mismanaging the country, it may well be that in a few years we won't need Trident anyway, because any hostile state will think there is nothing worth nuking.

Documenting the failure of Govia Thameslink part 2

Thameslink provide a daily update on performance on their website.


Yesterday, Monday 23rd January, the figure for trains arriving at the right time was a mere 41.1%

My train back from central London was one of those cancelled. I had checked the Thameslink website before setting off. It said the 16:49 from Farringdon to Mill Hill was on time. By the time I arrived at the station, it had been cancelled. The next train at 18:05 was late arriving.

Thameslink blamed an earlier train failure. I checked their site and the train had been on time arriving at Blackfriars, where it had terminated. Clearly someone at Thameslink wasn't being 100% honest.

Yet again, I ask when our Mp, Matthew Offord will ask the government to sort the failing franchise out. It seems he just doesn't give a damn. Hi

Monday 23 January 2017

Save us all from the complaint culture

What do you think of Tripadvisor?  Out of curiosity I was looking at a few reviews of some of my favourite places to eat in London. I found it to be a truly depressing experience. I saw one review for a restaurant I've been going to for years. It is typical of the idiotic and mean spirited tyoe of review that people seem to think it is rather clever to leave.

My friends and I had visited this restaurant once before and I had thought the food was good. I had not seen the prices. This time I was paying. Three of us drank water, we had no pudding and ate extremely modestly. The bill for four was £118.14, including an imposed 10 per cent service charge. That would have been just about acceptable if the food had been good and plentiful. But three basic soups at £6 each, egg fried rice at £5.40 ( with no visible egg ) sesame prawn toast at £7.80, chicken in black bean sauce at £14.80 and a quarter of a duck with pancakes at £13. Pu-leese. (The other things we ordered were noodles £6.40, vegetable spring rolls £6.80, and satay chicken, one skewer each £10.80 - or £2.90 a skewer.) My friend who drank was charged £16.60 for one gin and tonic and one glass of sauvignon blanc and the Perrier was £3.50 a bottle. We arrived at 1.30 and at about 2.15 or so were asked if we wanted dessert as the kitchen was closing. Shortly afterwards when some of the few fellow diners had left, ( perhaps word has already got round ) a member of staff used a powerful noisy carpet sweeper to clean the carpet adjacent to us, rendering conversation impossible for several minutes. There were plenty of staff but when one elderly member of our party made the considerable ascent to the first floor loos ( steep marble stairs ) after we had asked if there were facilities on the ground floor, no one thought to accompany him until we requested that someone did so. The whole experience was just awful. I eat often in restaurants. I was quite disgusted by the profiteering here. 
If there is one thing I can't stand it is people who moan about the price of restaurants. As fr as I am aware, the price of all of these items was clearly printed on the menu before the items were ordered. If you find a menu too expensive, don't go to the restaurant in the first place. It seems a bit rich to expect the restaurant staff to take and elderly relative to the loo. I know that when my mum became old and needed help, a family member would always assist her if she needed a comfort break. For one thing, she'd be embarassed to expect a stranger to help her.  Often reviewers such as this give a little glimpse into the dishonesty of what they are saying. In this case, it is in the opening sentence, where the restaurant is fine. It only becomes a problem when the author had to pay. Suddenly the portions became small and the food average. AS validation of the comments they say they "often eat at restaurants". Oddly for someone who "often eats at restaurants" this is the only review they have bothered to leave.

Another favourite place of mine attracted the following place. This review was left.
the food was very poor just loads of sauce and a couple of pieces of meat..environmental health should check the kitchens and toilet.it should really be closed down 
As someone who has eaten hundreds of meals from this restaurant, it is clearly malicious and dishonest. Like many places, it has its faults, but dirty kitchens and small portions are not one of them. Given that kitchen tours are not usually offered, one wonders where the comment about the kitchens should be inspected comes from. 

 Another favourite gets both barrels.
This restaurant masquerades as a buffet of exceptional quality in leafy suburbia - nothing could be further from the truth - you sometimes need to book in advance - the rational quit why escapes me. It could be sooo much better - staff is the real issue - rude, slow and arrogant - if you want to eat BBQ then the east end ie Dalston E8 is far better - the same price but quality thru the roof - a plethora of cafés and very informal restaurants that the Turks Steve up Devine dishes - do yourself a favour and give this restaurant a wide birth ! 
 This one is truly bizarre. They complain that sometimes you have to book in advance and questions why. Surely you don't need to be a genius to figure this one out. They then suggest an alternative on the other side of  London. Not quite sure what "Turks Steve up Devine dishes" means.

As far as I am concerned, whinging about the  price, when it is printed on the menu is ridiculous. If you are that bothered about price, check the menu before you go. Complaining about kitchens, when you haven't been in them is unfair and dishonest. If you did go in and there was an issue, then detail what the problem is.  I suspect that in all of these reviews there is a back story that we don't know. Of course all restaurants have bad days and sometimes get it wrong. Sometimes restaurants do deserve a bad review. For me, these should be fair and honest and highlight properly what was wrong. Generally this should be because somethiong was promised and not delivered, or specific incidents occurred. If an incident occurs, it should be accurately reported. I am always  very suspicious of reports that say staff are rude, without specifics. I was at a restaurant where a family were letting their children run wild and disturb other diners. The owner asked them extremely politely to have their children sit down "please would it be possible to ask the children to sit down as the waiters are carrying hot dishes and we don't want an accident". The mother went absolutely nuts and claimed that she'd never been so insulted. They trooped out in high dudgeon, shouting that they would be leaving "bad reviews everywhere". After they left, I made a point of telling the owner that he was totally correct in his actions and that they were obnoxious. He said he was really upset that he'd handled it so badly and felt he'd let everyone in the restaurant down. I made a point of checking the site and no Tripadvisor review was ever left. I rather hoped that the woman realised she'd behaved deplorably.

I've come to the conclusion that reviews are generally not that helpful. I suspect manybad reviews  are left by rival institutions, or people with an axe to grind unrelated to food or service.Many seem spiteful and purely designed to hurt businesses struggling to get by. When they are institutions I frequent and that are big assets to our community, I find it hard to sit back and lat these saddoes put the boot in.

Sunday 22 January 2017

The Tweets of the week - 22/01/2017

Without further ado...

1. There has been a bit of a flood in Colindale!
2. It all kicked off at Hendon FC yesterday! Anyone know what happened
3. Looks like the Barnet Police office party will be a smokey affair this year! (only joking guys, I'm sure all of the evidence is safely under lock and key and no "samples have been testede for purity")
4. A sensible reminder from Barnet CCG this week
5. Congratulations to Barnet & District Athletics team on their 50th birthday!
6. The Finchley Society are unveiling a plaque to Harry Beck at Finchley Central station 2pm. Get down if you can. I imagine this may feature in next weeks tweets!
7. A lovely sunrise and some colourful chemtrails from Finchley Golf Club
8. Some finches in Finchley!
9. A rather fetching piccie of the M1 & other Mill Hill landmarks from Lgee Faure
10. And Mill Hills finest studio had a rather good week! The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

Saturday 21 January 2017

The Saturday list # 113 - My Top Ten ever TV programs

As regular readers will know, I like doing lists. Many of these have started as pub conversations. We'd sit there and someone would sy "Top Ten films" or "Top Ten pubs". Recently the inspiration has been from sources like the Robert Elms show, extending his Thursday Fourfars "Top Ten female vocalists", etc. I also get people emailing me saying "What about a your top ten Barnet waterways?" with a few suggestions. But I am amazed that todays list has never been suggested, raised in a pub or mention on Mr Elms fine show. In fact I've no idea why I awoke thinking "I'll do my top ten TV programs". For me this is rather difficult. You see I rarely watch TV, when I do it tends to be the News, Football or films. I don't do soaps, I abhor most reality TV and I dislike political pundits. I don't know how this came about because as a kid I loved the TV. These are sort of listed chronologically, so the early ones  are the ones I loved as a kid.

1. Thunderbirds.
For me this was the gold standard show when I was a kid. I loved the gadgets, I loved the ethos, the theme tune is beautiful and I wanted to be a Tracy. The episodes were always exciting and well paced. I've never really understood why no one picked up on the idea of "International Rescue". We seem to have disasters every week. Surely if we had a fleet of Thunderbirds to come to the rescue it would be money well spent. If I ever become Prime Minister, which is extremely unlikely, I'll divert a goodly lump of the overseas aid budget into setting up international rescue!

2. Match of the Day.
This is the gold standard of football shows. Over the years it has evolved. Many have tried but none have bettered the format. The mix of action to punditry is just about right. As a kid, it was on too late for me to watch. When my parents went out and my brother Frank babysat, it was a special treat to be allowed to stay up to watch it.

3. UFO.
Another Gerry Anderson special. My sister Cath lived in Northampton and this was shown in the ATV region long before Thames Television showed it. Cath came down to see us and asked if I had seen the show. I'd not heard of it. She told me it was a new Gerry Anderson show and it featured space and aliens. A few weeks later, we visited Cath and I was able to see an episode. I was hooked. When it finally came on, I was ecstatic. My Dad was pretty much into Sci Fi and gadgets and quite enjoyed it, so in our one telly household, I got to see it.

4. Roots.
Do you remember Roots? The Alex Hayley show about the slave Kunta Kinte and his descendents. It made a massive impact on me. My parents insisted we watched it, as it was an important part of our history. My Mum was especially keen for us to learn what an evil business the slave trade was. It was a brilliant show. I was racking my brians trying to think of another TV show that made such an impact.

5. Thriller.
Do you remember Thriller. It was a one hour series of horror/drama's. They weren't silly Americn movie style horror movies with special effects. It was all psychological, thought provoking and scary. Perhaps the best of UK 70's TV.

6. Top of The Pops.
I started to get into music in around 73-74. Top of the Pops was the only mainstream TV show. It was an eclectic mix of music. I would like the Bowie/T-Rex slots. I also liked the early Jackson five material, hated the Osmonds, prog rock and American shmaltz.  When Punk bands started turning up on the show, I was secretly chuff3ed, although the punk stance was "they've sold out". I wanted to see my heroes on TOTP.

7. Porridge.
Ronnie Barker's Fletcher is perhaps the greatest ever British TV comedy creation. I took on board much of his wisdom. In many ways I felt a lot of empathy with Fletecher. I was at FCHS and felt it was a bit like Slade prison. Fletcher was always seeking to get one over on the authorities. He was the man.I used to love the opemning sequence at St Pancras, how that has changed!

8. Teachers.
This series, set in a non descript school in a non descript town was brilliant. For me, good TV has  clever writing and people I can associate with. Teachers did that brilliantly. I know people who remind me of all the main characters. Unlike most TV shows, all sorts of classes and races were portrayed pretty accurately and all sorts of nonsense went on, just like real life, that seems to escape the writers of most shows.

9. The Jools Holland Show.
This is the modern day equivalent on Top of The Pops. This is where new talent gets its break on TV. Over the years there have been some awesome performances on the show. Perhaps for me, one of my happiest moments was seeing Amy Winehouse, who was a regular studio customer, playing the blue Fender Strat we'd just sold her on her first appearance on the show. That is how I always want to remember Amy

10. Life on Mars
I loved this series. Everything about it. Not least that the main character was a City Fan! I loved the Sweeney, but this was a The Sweeney with a brilliant twist. Had this not been made, The Sweeney would definately have been in the list. I even sampled a sequence to use in one of my songs! The concept of a modern day PC policeman being dumped back in the 1970's was a brilliant piece of writing. Gene was exactly what you'd expect a copper to be back then. Very atmospheric.

Friday 20 January 2017

Donald Trump inauguration - My thoughts

Donald Trump is now the 45th President of the USA. Whatever you may think of Mr Trump, his policies, his personality, his behaviour, his presidency is now a reality. I was travelling and listened to his inauguration speech in full. I have to be honest, I was rather bemused by it. One has rather come to assume that politicians employ brilliant speechwriters for such momentus occasions. It sounded very much to me as if Trump didn't bother with that nicety. There were very few nods to protocol, diplomacy or convention. I suspect that at some time in the future, assuming I (or anyone) is around to read these blogs, I will refer back to some of what I am going to write next. So what did I take away from Mr Trumps speech.

1. The rest of the world is about to catch a very nasty cold.
There is an old saying that "When America Sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold". Well Mr Trump believes America is sneezing and he believes that the best cure is to put it into isolation. The big theme I got from Trump was "Protectionism is the order of the day". Many UK Conservatives are gloating because they rather like US right wing demogogues. I think they are about to learn a very nasty lesson in realpolitik. Trump couldn't have spelled it out any more clearly. He wants Americans to buy American products. He wants shops stocked with American products. He doesn't want imports. The USA is a massive export market for the UK. The USA is our number 1 export destination, according to the OEC.  Anyone who thinks the UK will be spared in an "America first" world is deluded. The UK is already about to enter a period of massive uncertainty regarding our export markets in the EU. Trump has made it crystal clear that we have a huge challenge in the West as well as in the East. Trump has made it clear that he's not in the least bit interested in rest of the world. All of these "new American factories" will be making products previously made elsewhere and that means here in the UK. If Trump carries through on his promises, then we are headed for a very severe recession in the UK and we won't have our friends in Europe to help us.

2. Europe is headed for dangerous times.
Trump chose to speak about the USA no longer paying for the defence of other countries. This is a clear reference to NATO. Trump obvously feels that the USA no longer needs to be engaged in the same way in NATO. He believes that his fellow NATO allies do not pull their weight financially. He is about to pull the rug out. He seems intent on spending the money "securing the borders of the USA". Many on the left have dreamed for decades of US disengagement from NATO. I suspect we are about to find out what that really means. For the UK, I think it may very well mean higher taxes as we are forced to spend more on defence. Unlike any other country in Europe, mainland UK has no borders. The border between Northern and Southern Ireland is not one which has figured in military equations for a decade or so, since the Irish peace process. But with Putin on the prowl in the East and no US support, the UK is likely to find itself having to be far more robust in our military spending. I don't think that Donald Trump makes World War III more likely. I wouldn't like to be the citizen of  a Baltic republic or anywhere with a land border with Russia right now. Putin is reading the signals from Trump as a green light for a more belicose stance in the numerous disputes he is currently persuing. The sensible British response is to make sure we have a degree of credibility when faced with such a threat. For what it's worth, I don't believe Trident adds to that credibility, as Mr Trump has the keys to it. It is not independent. I do however suspect that Trump is pragmatic enough to recognise the UK as his most reliable ally. I don't think we'll be left high and dry, but I somehow doubt the cosy years since the end of the cold war will continue. On a side note, many readers of the blog are interested in the affairs of Israel. The US is a major sponsor of Israel's military. I can't help but wonder if a few generals in Israel were not alarmed by Trumps words. If the concept of paying ones way for ones defence was applied to Israel, the country would be faced with an absolutely massive challenge. I somehow doubt that Trump will pull the plug on funding Israels military, but if he does then that could light a huge and very dangerous powderkeg.

3. The City of London is going to take a massive hit.
London is a global city and a massive trading hub. Trump made it clear that he's not interested in globalism and free trade. This can only mean one thing. Less business in the City. For people like us, living in the suburbs and relying on the wealth generation of the City, we will take a hit in the pocket. 

4. No end to middle east conflict.
The one stark commitment Mr Trump made is that he would "destroy ISIS". I was truly shocked when he made this commitment. Not because I don't think its a good idead, it would be marvelous to see ISIS and its horrible ideology wiped off the face of the earth. What shocked me was that he's promised something that I believe is beyond his gift to even start to deliver. When he said that, I thought that to make such a claim, he must have a plan and he must have spoken with military advisers. Now I am not a military man, but the only plan I can see that would destroy ISIS in Syria is to get Russia and Turkey to coordinate to destroy them. In the dirty world of politics, that may be the lesser of two evils, but heaven only knows what gifts the law of unforeseen consequences will deliver. I think we may well see the end of ISIS but in its place a whole new round of conflicts springing up in places we couldn't imagine.

5. Not a good time to be 'different'.
I was also surprised by Trumps references to God. Don't get me wrong, I'm a practising Roman Catholic, so I consider myself to be very strong in the faith department. But I have a very different view of God and faith to Mr Trump. The first principle I have is that faith is a matter between me and my maker. Anything I do or say I try and do in line with my morals and beliefs, but I consider it obscene to invoke God as a justification for my behaviour, suggest God favours me or anyone  specially or supports a particular sect/creed or nation. I am really not sure if it occurred to Trump, but the USA did not exist when Abraham, Moses, John The Baptist and Jesus were doing their work. To claim God will protect the USA is to me blasphemous and dishonest. It is attributing statements to God that God clearly has never shwon the slightest inclination in supporting. If I was ever asked to say anything about Gods intentions to me, my actions or the UK, I'd simply say "I hope that God doesn't judge us/me too harshly". But what Trump was saying was really nothing at all to do with God. It was a rather sick and despicable attempt to cosy up to the worst and very nastiest elements of the Christain right. These are the people who hold placards that say "God hates Fags", bomb abortion clinics and spew hate on street corners. These are Trumps constituency and his core voters. They hate the different, the other. They fear that that they don't understand and this fear breeds an objectionable perversion of a religion that at its very core is a message of tolerance, diversity and love.  When the President of The Free World states that God will protect America, sadly many will see this as a sign that he is a righteous and decent man. Any study of the history of the man, his statements and his behaviours shows that he is anything but. He is a cynical and devious man who, for the very worst of reasons, seeks to empower those in the US with the nastiest and most intolerant mindset. Trump is the first president for a very long time to be endorsed by the KKK. In my personal veiw of Christianity, God tends to leave us here on Earth to get on with our business. Gods domain is where we are off to next on our journey and where that takes us depends on our actions and behaviours here. I believe that God rarely makes spectacular interventions in our realm. Sadly all the good things and all the bad things that befall us are largely our own doing. A lot of  people in the USA are going to find that their healthcare is cancelled, their country is less welcoming and their lives become a lot harder. That is nothing to do with God. It is all about right wing ideology, which sees God as a very convenient tool in the toolbox of keeping down the ordinary man in the street, so billionaires like Trump can make hay. I have to say I don't really like talking about matters of faith on my blog. As a very superstitious person, I don't feel it is "the right thing to do". But when someone like Trump uses such a platform to make such outrageous claims, it would hypocritical to say nothing.

And with that, may I say God bless you all. Have a peaceful weekend and lets hope that Mr Trump confounds all of my predictions and fears and turns out to be a truly great President. I for one have no desire to stand on the corner of a wrecked street, in a desolate nation, in a ddestroyed world, smugly saying "I told you so". If Trump doesn't bugger everything up too much, for me that would be a good presidency and a result, given the man we've seen. Maybe if he jsut buggers things up enough for the rednecks who backed him to realise they'd been conned good and proper.

The Friday Joke 20/1/2017

A mate of mine recently admitted to being addicted to brake fluid. When I quizzed him on it he reckoned he could stop any time.

Thursday 19 January 2017

Documenting the failure of Govia Thameslink

I was shocked to see that less than 50% of all Thameslink services arrived on time yesterday.
Thameslink provide a daily update on performance on their website.


Yesterday (18th Jan 2017) the figure for 'right time arrivals' was 44.6%

What does our local MP Matthew Offord have to say? Nothing.

We will endeavour to track this figure for you. We will also make sure that our Mp is made aware.

The struggle for the soul of football

This week there were two reasonably significant events in the world of football that caught my eye. The first was that Lincoln City beat Ipswich Town to qualify for the fourth round of the FA Cup. The second was that Manchester United overtook real Madrid  to became the richest club in the world.

The first event was met with joy by the neutral football fans. We love the third round of the FA cup and if we are not the big boys getting spanked, we love to see the minnows triumph. The FA cup is felt by fans to be special. I doubt there is a fan anywhere who thinks "marvellous" when they see the teamsheet and realise their club has put a second string out for the tournament. Sadly in the days when money men rule, this is what we see all too often. I am bemused when mid table teams show such chronic lack of ambition.

Then there is the news about Manchester United. Putting tribal feelings aside, am I alone in finding it strange that their rise to riches coincides with the most unsuccessful period in recent history. The club won an FA cup last season, but finished outside the top four, departed the Champions league early and played dire football. Even today they sit sixth in the Premier league. Of course finances and success will always be two different things and it is commendable that United fans have thus far stuck with the club and dug deep in their pockets to fund the attempts to rebuild. But one has to wonder. If the greedy businessmen see a model where they get financial success without investing in the team, sooner or later the United fans will wake up and vote with their feet. Although United are richer than Real Madrid, they are light years from matching them on the field. This clearly doesn't bother the moneymen at United, although I'm sure the fans are bemused.

There is a battle for the soul of our football clubs. I suspect that in the world of the Champions League and Premiership, that battle is already lost.  The likes of Lincoln City keep the dream alive. Long may they continue.

Wednesday 18 January 2017

The Wednesday Poem #9 - Angel


When our eyes met across a crowded room,
 I knew, with certainty in my heart, that she was an Angel.

The scars still sear,
That angel was Lucifer.

Copyright 2017 Roger Tichborne
Every Wednesday, we 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 written poetry for many years, for my own amusement. It was suggested that I share some of it. I hope you enjoy it, I'd love to feature anything you have written.

Tuesday 17 January 2017

Barnet Council moves into the 1970's!!!!!!

What were you doing on the 9th June 1975? I most likely got on a 221 bus to Finchley Catholic High School. Two days before Sony had launched the Betamax video recorder. Harold Wilson was PM. The previous week on June 6th, the UK had voted to remain in the Common Market. John Denver was top of the charts. Oh yes, and we had the first radio broadcast of Parliament!

You may ask what that has got to do with the price of fish. Well a mere forty one and a half years later, today is a histric and momentous day in the history of Barnet Council.  Barnet Council have decided to follow suit, move into 1975 and provide a digital audio transmission of council meetings! We congratulate Barnet Council on their groundbreaking move to use the very latest technology in their headlong dash for openness and transparency.

The Past

One cannot help but wonder when Barnet will move into the 1980's and start their own video coverage of meetings. The rumour has it that some councillors worry that if meetings are televised, they may actually have to bother to look interested and participate in business.

The Present
Of course as a Barnet blogger, I feel duty bound to have a little fun about such issues. On a more serious note, it is a step in the right direction and Richard Cornelius (leader of the council) should be commended for taking the first steps towards bring the council towards the level of openness and transparency that we expect from a local authority.

Anyway, it's been a long day. In homage to the council's move towards the brave new world of 1976, I think I'll  jump in my Ausin Princess, have a nice can of Watneys Party 7, a tasty Vesta curry and even maybe..... some Smash potatoes.

The future?