Thursday 31 August 2017

Flog It! Live from Barnet Council - The Darlands Lake sell off

Roll up, Roll up, You name it, Barnet Council will flog it!

The latest episode of Flog it! Barnet style occurs at 7pm on Monday night at Hendon Town Hall.

The star prize will be the Darlands Lake nature reserve! A real bargain for budding entrepreneurs in the Borough. Whilst most local residents recognise a vital wetlands nature reserve, to Barnet Council it is a low value/low quality space. No recognition is given to the unique ecosystem, the migratory birds, the amphibians and other unusual species found virtually nowhere else in London. The justification is that they've failed to maintain it for years.

Somewhat incredibly, one of the uses they explored was a cemetery. What sort of idiot would want granny buried in an area prone to flooding?

It could not be clearer what Barnet Coincil think of the local environment. As a community we should be proud to have a nature reserve in our locality. Sadly for us, the Tories who run the council only see assets as things that can be flogged to raise cash, to plug the gaps in the budget created by their disastrous outsourcing policies.

I have asked the committee a question. Here it is

Dear Ms Mwende,

I have the following question for the Assets, Regeneration and Growth committee on Monday 4th Sept.

 I note the proposal to outsource management of Darlands Lake to an unspecified third party. Given the abject failure of previous outsourcing. Excesses ( Your Choice Barnet multi million bailouts, parking fiasco enforcement problems as documented by D. Dishman, chaos in IT, multi million court cases with Care Homes, huge hidden charges exposed in the One Barnet contract by John Dix, the illegal operation of Metpro,etc), what possible confidence can the Barnet Tax payer have that this outsourcing of a vitally important nature reserve won't end in yet another expensive fiasco.


Roger Tichborne

Ms Mwende is the council officer who handles emails for the committee. The answer should be interesting

Wednesday 30 August 2017

The Wednesday Poem #27 - The Mill Field

Roll on the cold dark nights of Winter,
No more families playing on the grass,
Just the occasional dog walker,
As I dwell upon the past.

Roll on the sleet and drizzle,
No more sun to burn my face,
Sun sets at 4.13pm
I love that time at this place

Roll on biting winds
Blasting rain across my cheek
Sun sets behind St Joseph
Casts his blessing on the meek

Roll on the winter solstice
Nowhere else I'd rather be
Sitting silent in the Mill Field
Whilst my mind is dancing free

Copyright 2017 Roger Tichborne

Summer always makes me nostalgic for the cold dark days of winter. It always seems so much quieter and more peaceful.

Tuesday 29 August 2017

The real threat of artificial intelligence

Sci fi movies have a lot to answer for. Films such as Terminator lay out an apocalyptic version of the future, where killer robots are hell bent on eradicating humanity. I worked for a leading edge software house in the 1980's, that had a somewhat grand sounding subsidiary called 'British Robotics'. Sadly (or not maybe), they were not building killer droids. They were more interested in making  robots to assemble Austin allegros for British Leyland and control systems for the Thames Barrier. They were also working on what was then called 'decision support software'. This was aimed at companies like BP, helping them to decide whether investments in oil production in third world nations was worthwhile. The software was designed to calculate risks and ensure decisions were taken on the basis of sound geopolitical risk calculations as well as whether a short term profit could be achieved.

I once asked one of the gurus of the robotics team what he thought of Terminator. His answer shocked me. He thought it was complete cobblers. His view was that any artificial intelligence would by definition be risk averse. The strategy of the terminators, launching a nuclear war to wipe out humanity so they could take over, was as likely to wipe out the robots, as electro magnetic waves destroy the chips that computers require. It would also lead to a war with humanity, which there was no guarantee of winning. The robots would need to build the capability to run and maintain power plants, chip facilities, fabrication plants. All of this whilst coping with a world devastated by nuclear war.

So what are the risks? Well if you think about it, for us Western metropolitan types, our lives are already run by computers. Our money and bank accounts are digitised, our social life is conducted over digital phone networks and social media. Our supermarkets are stocked using it systems, our electricity and gas networks are managed using It systems. Increasingly we are simply working to develop new and better IT systems and networks. Reports that Facebook shut down an AI project when two AI applications started communicating in machine code did not surprise me.

It seems to me inevitable that we are drifting into unconscious slavery to these networks. Issues like student loans, mean we will spend our lives in debt, simply working for 'the system'.  I doubt we'll be disposed of by the master AI system, Queen bee's require workers and Drones. We will simply have no say in how things are run and any argument from us will see our passwords revoked and our profiles deleted, left to whither in isolation. That to me is th real threat that AI poses.

Monday 28 August 2017

The thoughts of Chairman Rog - pt 1 - North Korea

The world indeed is a funny old place. It always amuses me listening to people who have never ventured further than Torremolinos spouting forth on international issues. Best of all is listening to people who've never visited a totalitarian country giving their informed opinion on countries such as North Korea. Even more interesting is how most haven't bothered to read a history book. The Korean War saw the largest number of UK casualties in a foreign war since 1945. As such, it should be clear that any conflict has the potential to affect the UK. North Korea has now got a nuclear capability and is allied with China, the worlds third largest nuclear power. Many pub bores seem unaware that the Korean War never ended. There is a ceasefire, but hostilities never formally finished.

There are a few key facts that we need to consider. It should be clear to anyone who can read a map that North Korea is never likely to be a regional expansionist threat. Of course they pose a threat to South Korea, but with the South in alliance with the USA, this is highly unlikely to materialise. To the north, they have China, who are their allies.

It is clear that the weapons they are procuring are defensive in nature as the latest member of the Kim dynasty knows that any first use would see the destruction of his regime. Key to Kim's thinking is what happened to Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein. Whatever he is, he's not stupid. Who sees that a weather forecast is predicting a hurricane, cancels their insurance? Kim knows the U.S. Would love regime change. He knows that his only ace is his nuclear arsenal.

The North Korean regime is repressive, authoritarian and repugnant. The South has a far higher standard of living. The North is stuck in the Cold War, whilst the rest of the world has moved on. Many say 'why doesn't China just sort Kim out'.  This is obvious to anyone who knows China. They see the USA as the biggest threat to their own ambitions. If Korea was reunited, following a regime change, it's pretty clear China would have a major U.S. Ally on its Southern border. As they push their Indo-Pacific expansionist plans, North Korea is a useful regional ally. Modern Chinese history shows that the rights of citizens are not respected. The Chinese can play a long game. The Chinese leadership know the longest a U.S. President can last is eight years. No matter how good or bad, every eight years everything changes. It is easy for us to forget that it is less than a year since Obama was president, but this is key to the thinking on Beijing. The Chinese know that Trump is a time limited phenomena. Sooner or later, it will again be all change. The Chinese leadership can plan their agenda over decades.

So my advice is to have a look at what China's long term agenda is. They see North Korea as a vital ally.  I suspect the Chinese are bemused by Trump. They will do what they always do. They will sit back and see how the situation develops, waiting how best to secure the maximum advantage for themselves. Trump has blustered and blown about how China must reign in Kim, but has failed to spell out any reason why this could benefit China. The Chinese meanwhile, are developing economic and military capability across the Pacific region and Africa. They know that whilst the US is obsessing on Korea, they are consolidating their role as the preeminent global power of the 21st century. I suspect that American historians, in 50 years time, will be none to kind on Trumps legacy. I suspect, the current North Korean  situation will not even warrant a footnote. The real story will be how the U.S. had a shambolic regime that threw away its global reputation.

Saturday 26 August 2017

The Saturday List #144 - Ten books that made great films

I am quite excited to hear that there is a Blade Runner follow up coming out. Blade Runner is one of my favourite films, however I didn't go to see it for years, as a protest at the renaming of the film 'for American Audiences'. The Phillip K Dick book is called 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep'.

So I thought I'd make a quick list of great books that made good films.

1. Do androids dream of electric sheep. Released as Blade Runner.
2. Schindlers Ark. Released as Schindlers list
3. Trainspotting.
4. Gone with Wind.
5. The Jungle Book (1967 animated version)
6. A kestrel for a Knave, released as Kes
7. The importance of being Ernest (1952 version)
8. Little Big Man
9. The Godfather
10. Dr No

There is another list to be made, the worst book adaptions. Dune springs to mind as perhaps the worst sci if adaption. Not too keen on Pochohontas either. What would be your best/worst?

Friday 25 August 2017

The Friday Joke - 25/08/2017 - Death

Image result for death jokes
“Do you believe in life after death?” the boss asked one of his employees.
“Yes, sir,” the clerk replied.
“That’s good,” the boss said. “After you left early yesterday to go to your grandmother’s funeral, she stopped in to see you.”

Have a great weekend!

Thursday 24 August 2017

A Trip around The Borough of Barnet - Day 4 - The Torrington

We live in an amazing borough. For some time, for some time I've been meaning to do a little series on the good things. So all this week, I'll be taking you on a little trip around the Borough, detailing some of the things I like most in our neighbourhood.

Today we revist the Torrington. Perhaps the most iconic pub rock venue in the Borough, the Torrington in North Finchley. We had a great guest  blog on the subject by Allen Ashley back in 2015. Now it is not even a pub, but a hairdressers.

Guest Blog - Now A Sports Bar – The Torrington, Finchley 

The long time promoter of the Torrington is Barnet Bee, who shared a few great memories of the venue with The Barnet Eye.

 We spoke about the genres 

"I ran the Torri for 30 yrs 68 to 98 and had to move with the changing music trends. Modern Jazz to Rock/Blues was natural enough but I was never at home with punk. "

 I asked him what was the stand out night 

"Probably Dr John, though I chose the wrong musicians to play alongside him - the Balham Alligators, not sopisticated enough, Geraint Watkins excepted. Jim Richardson, bass player with G.F.'s Blue Flames castigated me saying that they would have done it for nothing; not that that would have been the case. One unexpected bonus was that a very young John Cleary played my specially hired piano with great New Orleans panache. Other contenders, Clover (almost Huey Lewis and the News) and the great saxophonist Tubby Hayes who I loved.  I must finally mention another great saxophonist Dick Morrissey who started me hassling to try to secure that room for live music. Previously I had to go to the Bulls Head in Barnes to hear him. Coincidentally we were both Irish (different sides) and we were born on the same day of the same year - odd. Other favourites were Elkie Brooks and Robert Palmer in Vinegar Joe, early 70's, Man, 70's and 80's and of course Alex Harvey and Steve Marriott.."

 And of course I asked him about Punk.

"So few of them could play well and if I just wanted the buzz I could go elsewhere and not have to clear up the wreckage. At the Torri, I loved Dury's Kilburn and the High Roads, with the 101'ers I could not help but admire Joe Strummer's commitment and I knew that the Strangers could really play. However Hugh Cornwell, following on The Pistols outrages which garnered top headlines was determined to create a riot at The Torri. The crowd was split between regulars and those with a plethora of safety pins at the front heaving and spitting at anyone around. Then Cornwell broke a string. 'Not much happening up here, why not start something out there. The mayhem increase exponenitally so I grabbed Hugh and yelled 'I'm paying you to play not wreck the place', so he quickly got going again, but it was still 'touch and go' whether or not the big window would stand the buffeting. At 10 pm I went outside and said 'Please God get us to 10.30 with the place being wrecked and I'll never put them on again'. At 10.30 I compered by complimenting the band, hoped they had all enjoyed themselves' and droned on a bit while the hubbub subsided a bit. I think it was Dave Greenfield, realising the gravity of the situation, who began a low key encore which was executed faultlessly. No great damage done, absolutely hundred of safety pins and bits of torn clothing on the floor, but we got away with it. Ian Grant, their then manager rang me a few weeks later when they were in the charts wanting to do another. I politely declined"

After his period, perhaps the greatest female artist of all started making her way there. There are loads of great videos of the venue. I love this one of Amy Winehouse in 2003 at the venue

For many of us the heyday was the 1970/80's. Much of this is detailed in the Torrington Music facebook page. Here's just one post listing the gigs from 1985

Barnet Bee has listed many of the complete years bookings. I chose 1985 here as an example. 

Torrington Gigs
Torrington Music 1985. Georgie Fame, Man, The G.B. Blues Co. and Morrissey/Mullen, Heart and Soul were rock steady favourites but new pretenders were forcing their way through. Notable among those was Big Town Playboys featuring ace pianist/vocalist Mike Sanchez. Little Sister and Dave Kelly did good business and there was a rare visit from Rocket 88. Steve Marriott; what a gig!

Sun 6th Jan Morrissey/Mullen. Noel McCalla was now featured as vocalist on M/M’s gigs from now on. Dick, Jim & unsighted Pete Jacobsen had great musical empathy

Sun 13th Jan Heart and Soul. Here’s a great band I caught up with last year. Keyboard man Tim Hinkley hailed from Vinegar Joe & Bobby Gass from his band years before.

Sun 20rd Jan Dave Kelly Band. Blues Band gtr/voc launched his own band, the line-up varying, but often with Rob Townsend & Gary Fletcher. Still gigs around.
Sun 27th Jan Snake Davis & The Suspicions. Stax, Motown and Atlantic classic soul from a fine Hull group. Part of Northern exodus of bands seeking UK-wide fame.
Steve Marriott at The Torrington
Sun 3rd Feb Morrissey/Mullen
Sun 10th Feb Rent Party. Still hoping for one of our pundits, punters who can remind me of the personnel. They proved to be an extremely popular band back then.
Sun 17th Feb Heart and Soul
Sun 24th Feb Little Sister. Graham & Malcolm Foster, Gary Brewer and Andy Wells were great favourites & attracted an extremely enthusiastic blues/rock following. Malcolm Foster left to join the Pretenders. Malcolm Hoskins replaced him.
Sun 3rd Mar Morrissey/Mullen.
Sun 10th Mar Root Jackson & the G. B. Blues Company. Wonderful band with Bob Henrit (dms), Jim Rodford (bs), Derek Griffiths (gtr) John Beecham (tbn) and Alan Feldman (pno).
Sun 17th Mar Pete Thomas’s Deep Sea Jivers. Pete’s rocky sax-lead blues was a real tonic from Manchester’s Band on The Wall. Carol Grimes/Pete Zorn guest on disc
Sun 24th Mar Little Sister
Sun 31st Mar Man. Fabulous Welsh Wizards come to lay siege on North Finchley again. Round the block for Micky, Deke, Martin and now ‘Pugwash’ John Weathers
Sun 7thApr Morrissey/Mullen
Sun 14th Apr Dave Kelly Band
Sun 21st Apr Rent Party
Sun 28th Apr Root Jackson and the G.B. Blues Company.
Sun 5th May Morrissey/Mullen
Sun 12th May Big Town Playboys, feat Ricky Cool & Mike Sanchez. Should have been huge.
Sun 19st May Heart and Soul
Sun 26th May Root Jackson and the G.B. Blues Company.
Sun 2nd Jun Morrissey/Mullen
Fri 7th Jun Root Jackson and the G.B. Blues Company.
Sun 9th Jun Big Town Playboys
Fri 14th Jun Man
Sun 16th Jun Heart and Soul
Sun 21st Jun Little Sister.
Sun 23rd Jun Root Jackson and the G. B. Blues Company.
Fri 28th Jun Morrissey/Mullen
Sun 30th Jun Lunch/Eve Georgie Fame and The Blue Flames. Always full house when he trod our self-built stage. Alan Skidmore (tnr), ‘Tan Tan’ Thornton (tpt) Ronnie Johnson (gtr), Jim Richardson (bs), Speedy Acquaye (congas), Tony Crombie? (dms)
Fri 5th July Tex Maniax. Mike Berry, Andy Roberts, B.J. Cole, Ian Campbell, Bob Loveday & Al Stewart. Star studded line-up and very enjoyable but sadly, short-lived.
Sun 7th July Morrissey/Mullen
Fri 12th July Rent Party. Can someone help with line-up? I know they pulled very well.
Sun 14th July Man
Sun 21st July Heart and Soul. Edwina Laurie (Lulu’s sister, guested on this one).
Fri 26th July Tex Maniax.
Sun 28th July Big Town Playboys, feat Ricky Cool & Mike Sanchez.
Fri 2nd Aug Steve Marriott and his Packet of Three. Brilliant Small Faces man makes his debut here with Jerry Shirley on bass and Jim Leverton on bass. What a gig!
Sun 4th Aug Morrissey Mullen.
Fri 9th Aug Superjazz. Award winning 22 piece jazz Orchestra. Modest crowd but great.
Sun 11th Aug Little Sister.
Fri 16th Aug District Six. Brilliant Afro-jazz outfit. Featured super pianist Mervyn Afrika. Sadly they were short-lived. I wonder if Mervyn Afrika still plays in the U.K.
Sun 18th Oct Juice on the Loose.
Fri 30th Aug Little Sister.
Sun 1st Sep Big Town Playboys
Fri 6th Sep Root Jackson and The G. B. Blues Company.
Fri 13th Sep Morrissey/Mullen (no vocalist as Noel was off with Icelandic Mezzo Forte.
Sun 15th Sep Rent Party
Fri 20th Sep Ruthless Blues feat Johnny Mars. I had quite forgotten that it was first fronted by Johnny Mars. Was Stevie Smith was in Salt with Mick Clarke?
Sun 22nd Sep Root Jackson and the G. B. Blues Company.
Sun 27th Sep Little Sister
Sun 29th Sep Juice on the Loose
Fri 4th Oct Living Daylites, featuring local ace guitarists Jay Stapely and Ian Hunt.
Sun 6th Oct Morrissey Mullen. Noel McCalla is back
Sun 13th Oct Big Town Playboys
Fri 18th Oct Tex Maniax
Sun 20th Oct Rent Party – cancelled (van broke down)
Sun 27th Oct Juice on the Loose. Not sure of line-up of this late line up. Rod Demick help!
Fri 1st Nov Living Daylites, featuring local ace guitarists Jay Stapely and Ian Hunt.
Sun 3rd Nov Morrissey/Mullen
Fri 8th Nov Ian Stewart’s Rocket 88. Sixth Stone’s freewheeling big blues band.
Sun 10th Nov Rent Party.
Sun 15th Nov Big Town Playboys
Sun 17th Nov Lunch/Eve Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames. Clive is one our greatest British musicians, now gigs as a trio with sons James & Tristan when not with Van Morrison etc
Fri 22nd Nov Morrissey/Mullen
Sun 24th Nov Root Jackson and the G. B. Blues Company
Fri 29th Nov Living Daylites.
Sun 31st Nov Little Sister
Sun 8th Nov Morrissey/Mullen
Sun 15th Nov Steve Marriott and his Packet of Three. Always sensational, what a guy.
Fri 20th Nov Root Jackson and the G. B. Blues Company
Sun 22nd Dec Christmas Gig with Morrissey/Mullen. Who else - Dick was a great friend, 3 free punches; made by myself. Seb now em-ceeing & party organising.
Sun 29th Dec Little Sister. Perfect antidote to our inevitable post-Christmas hangover.

Live Venues are vital. Where will we find the next Amy without the likes of the Torrington? That is why one of my missions in life is to keep music live! I am planning a series of Torrington revisted gigs for the Bohemia for later in the year. Watch this space!

Wednesday 23 August 2017

A Trip around The Borough of Barnet - Day 3 - A tour of Burnt Oak - 1922 to present day

We live in an amazing borough. For some time, for some time I've been meaning to do a little series on the good things. So all this week, I'll be taking you on a little trip around the Borough, detailing some of the things I like most in our neighbourhood.

Today we have a nice little video collection of pictures showing the evolution of Burnt Oak. The first is a selection of pictures.

The second is local residents talking about their experiences at the current time.


Finally we have Burnt Oak's moment in the limelight. The hamster invasion of Burnt Oak from 1983!

Tuesday 22 August 2017

A Trip around The Borough of Barnet - Day 2 - Hendon in the summer of '76

We live in an amazing borough. For some time, for some time I've been meaning to do a little series on the good things. So all this week, I'll be taking you on a little trip around the Borough, detailing some of the things I like most in our neighbourhood and a few great tales. Here's installment 2 -

Click here for more DMU pictures
One of the best blogs I've read about our area is one which is the recollections of a train driver from what is now the Thameslink line. He writes a fascinating account of driving DMU's (the old diesel suburban workhorse trains) through the Borough. It takes us back to the summer of 1976, a summer remembered for it's endless sunny days. The one I've chosen details how he drove a train full of passengers at full pelt through a brush fire at Silkstream Junction (between Mill Hill and Hendon). No health and safety concerns in those days.

Click here to read more.....

I would have put a snippet up but couldn't obtain copyright clearance. Make the effort though, it's worth it. I love such stories from the past in our neighbourhood.

Monday 21 August 2017

A trip around the Borough of Barnet - Part 1 - Folly Brook

We live in an amazing borough. For some time, for some time I've been meaning to do a little series on the good things. So all this week, I'll be taking you on a little trip around the Borough, detailing some of the things I like most in our neighbourhood. I also think that many Barnet Eye readers are the type of open minded souls who are always on the lookout for other interesting blogs, websites and other sources of information. So this tour is through the eyes of fellow bloggers and writers. We start today with a man we've long admired. The legendary Diamond Geezer. He takes us on a fascinating tour of Folly Brook. Click the Link on the Tweet.

Here's a little taster of what he had to say

"The amazing thing about the Folly Brook is that, although it flows across north London for over two miles, its valley is almost entirely un-built-up. Wealthy Totteridge residents stepped in to protect the land from development between the wars, since when the Green Belt has done the job for them. What remains is mostly farmland, woodland and haymeadows, so that's lovely, although it's not always possible to walk alongside the river, especially in its upper course......" 

Saturday 19 August 2017

The Saturday List #143 - Eight reasons why Donald Trump's behaviour is "not Christian"

I read a report that Donald Trump believes he has a divine mandate for his behaviour. Now I don't want to get into a religous debate here. Simply to point out that at Jesus's biggest gig, he laid down his philosophy in eight easy to understand statements, know as the BEATITUDES. I guess this is Christianity for dummies. The rules of the club are the Ten commandments (you know thou shalt not steal, though shalt not kill etc). The Beatitudes are the philosophy. It's like "follow the rules, live by the principles". From what I've seen Mr Trump and his fans version of Christianity doesn't really seem to have much truck with these.

 The reality of Christian faith and it's attitude to non whites/non Christians is well made by James Martin, an American Jesuit priest, editor at large , author of 'Jesus: A Pilgrimage' and 'Building a Bridge,' consultor to the Secretariat for Communication​.

 I doubt Mr Trump reads the Barnet Eye. More surprisingly for someone who claims to be a Christian, he doesn't seem to read the Gospel according to St Matthew much either.


"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Gospel of St. Matthew 5:3-10 

I could say more, but I think it's all there isn't it? 

Friday 18 August 2017

The Friday Joke 19/8/2017 - Getting old

This is the last Friday joke before my birthday. So here is a topical joke

Image result for funny oldies
Getting Old
 A couple had been married for 35 years, and the pair was also celebrating their 60th birthdays. During the celebration, a fairy godmother appeared and said that because they had been such a loving couple all those years, she would give them each one wish.
The wife said she wanted to travel around the world. The fairy godmother waved her magic wand and BOOM! The wife had the tickets in her hand.
Then it was the husband's turn. He paused for a moment, then said boldly, "Well, I'd like to have a wife 30 years younger than I." The fairy godmother picked up her wand and BOOM! He was now 90. 

Thursday 17 August 2017

Mutual Aid - A message from the Leader of Barnet Council

Leader of Barnet Council - Richard Cornelius
The tragic events we recently witnessed with the Grenfell Tower fire have made councils up and down the country take an urgent look at their housing stock.Our number one priority throughout this process has always been about ensuring that residents are safe in their homes.

The way people rallied around to help the residents of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in their time of need showed how Londoners show such indomitable spirit in times of crisis. This extends to support between London Councils. We have a robust and strong resilience network in the Capital that offers assistance between boroughs when they need it most. The Grenfell Tower fire was no exception in that respect. We were one of the many London councils that supported the emergency response.  By providing our experienced Emergency Planning and social care staff, we played our part in managing an extremely difficult situation.

This mutual aid also extended to our neighbours in Camden, when they evacuated thousands of residents in response to concerns about the safety of cladding on a number of their tower blocks.
This work is ongoing. We still have social workers on the ground in West London helping the families that have been made homeless as a result of the fire that engulfed the high-rise tower block. In some cases, this assistance can be as simple as booking taxis to get children to school or by arranging viewings of potential new homes.

However simple; it all helps and make London so unique and well-prepared when it comes to dealing with a crisis am extremely proud of the support and help that we and others offered to a fellow London borough.

To read more about our response to the Grenfell Tower fire, please read the following update.

This statement was originally published on the Barnet Council website

Wednesday 16 August 2017

The Wednesday Poem #26 - Where are the sardines now?

Todays Poem marks the start of Silver Jubilee season with an Ode commemorating the most infamous momemt in Premier League History!

Simmons says he was in the 'wrong place at the wrong time'.
Ooh La La, Cantona

Ooh Aah, Oooh La La,
An early bath for Cantona,
Left the field in disgrace, 
then kicked a yobbo in the face,
Scandal headlines in The Sun,
A lengthy ban soon begun,
Up in court before the beaks,
Community Service for a couple of weeks,
Cantona what did you do?
Uniteds hopes were pinned on you!
United's season in disarray,
Us City boys exclaimed Hooray!
Blackburn Rovers won the league,
A single point I do believe,
These days old Eric advertises lager,
United fans recall the saga,
Viewed through the prism of time,
They think old Eric did just fine,
The Seagulls have all now flown,
The Sardines will be left alone,
So long Eric, one thing is true,
We won't see another like you. 
Copyright 2017 - Roger Tichborne

Guest Poems always welcome

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Common Sense Prevails - The Garden Bridge is cancelled

Image result for broken bridge
The dead bridge - the end of afinancial disaster
Back in 2015, I wrote a blog entitled The Garden Bridge - The mother of all vanity projects. An amazing thing happened, Brian Coleman, my political arch enemy tweeted that he agreed with me! Coleman would not say such a thing lightly. But both he and I recognised that the project was a complete waste of money, didn't solve any issues and was likely to be a money pit for decades. The officially quoted price was £175 million. Apparently it's cost nearly £50 million without the construction even starting. Based on this, I'd estimate that it would probably cost four times this amount.

I've run a successful business for 38 years. I have a few simple rules. The first is that I never spend any money on things which there is no good business case for. The second is that I have a list of priorities and I spend money on the most important and all the nice to haves have to wait. I regularly ask my staff what we could do to make things better in the business. A few years ago one said "why don't we get energy saving bulbs?" This was a simple suggestion that saved money, so we did it. Another one said "why don't we replace all the amps in the studios with top of the range new models". I thought about this. Yes, the amps would look nice, but it would cost tens of thousands of pounds and would it ever bring that back. So I did a questionairre for our customers. I asked about various things. Not one mentioned that they'd like top of the range amps in the studios. Most guitarists want something simple to use. Those that have special requirements, bring their own. Most players these days use effects pedals. In short, there was no business case. The customers actually said that they'd prefer better bathroom facilities, so this was what we did.

How many Londoners think the garden bridge was the best way to spend hundreds of millions of quid? I don't know any. Sure Joanna Lumley and a bunch of luvvies think it would be wonderful, but it doesn't solve any problems and will create quite a few. London already has great parks. I was discussing this with someone who said "Well what would you spend the money on". My answer? Nothing. Why is there this idea that you have to spend money. If someone comes up and says "I've got a great idea that will cost £175 million, will cut congestion in London, won't put a burden on the taxpayer for decades and will give a payback", I'd be all for it, but just trying to dream up projects to spend the dosh on is ridiculous.

When it comes to river crossings, there is a case for a new one in East London. One which cars can use. There is a case for crossrail 2, which will transport commuters. There is a case for the Brent Cross Light railway, which will improve commuting and reduce congestion in our neck of the woods. But all of these need proper business cases and justifications. They all need proper scrutiny. They all must be shown to deliver benefits to the tax payer.

The Garden Bridge did none of this. It solved no probems. It added little benefit. The oddest thing is that a Tory Mayor was its arch supporter. As far as I am concerned it is more abut his ego than anything. The only mistake Sadiq Khan made was not cancelling it on day 1.  It's just a shame that we've flushed nearly £50 million quid down the bog to achieve nothing.

Monday 14 August 2017

The far Right are not just a problem in Charlottesville

The big news story of the weekend was the awful events in Charlottesville. The violence at a far right rally was not only rather scary, it was a wake up call to all of us to be aware that there are people with some very dangerous views in our world, who see nothing at all wrong with NAZI salutes, emblems and ideology. These are people who worship Adolf Hitler, a man who brought the world to the brink, exterminated nine million people in a systematic program of genocide, targeting Jews, Gypsies, the Disabled, Homosexuals and political opponents. Tens of millions were killed in the war he started. Europe was partitioned for decades as a result of the settlement at the end. When the concentration camps were opened, not only did we see systematic extermination of people, starvation and totrure. We saw awful evidence of inhuman experiments.
Some of us may see Charlottesville and think "oh well, that's the USA bible belt, it couldn't happen here". Think again. One of the candidates in the UKIP Leadership campaign, Anne Marie Waters, is a well known anti Islam campaigner. Sadly for many, Muslims are seen as a soft target for bigotry. There is a subtext that Muslims are somehow rather dangerous. This idea is planely rather stupid. There are a billion and  half Muslims in the world, with 2.7 million of them living in the UK. Whatever you may or may not think of the religion, it is patently obvious that the vast majority of the 2.7 million are not supporters of terrorism, rape of white teenagers or any other behaviours that the likes of Waters shriek about.

Just for a moment think about the logic the likes of Waters employ. By her logic all of us white Christians are KKK sympathisers, which we are clearly not. Why should Muslims who are decent people have to justify their behaviour any more than I have to? We must always be vigilant guarding against the forces of unreason. The biggest worry is that the USA has a President that hasn't called out  these vile racists for what they are. Let's not forget that the KKK are steeped in a history of murder of people who did nothing except be born black. The concept of lynching anyone is abhorrent but doing it to cow a section of society to accept inequality and slavery is vile. There is no excuse. What we need to ensure is that such fascist thought is not tolerated here. We seem to have fallen off the cliff of sanity into a very dangerous period. Burying our heads in the sand is the most dangerous thing in the world.

Sunday 13 August 2017

The Tweets of The Week in the London Borough of Barnet 13/08/2017

Here we are again. At the end of the week. So it's time for our fave regular feature. The tweets of the week. What's going on in our community, through the eyes of the local twits. Don't forget to follow any who tickle your fancy!

1. Looking for something to do with the kids in Burnt Oak this week?

2. A story we've been following. The Railway Hotel in Edgware is now up for sale

3. Finchley Residents will be pleased to learn that a nuisance moped driver has had his moped confiscated

4. Proud of your marrow or your tomatos? Here's your chance to wave them around for all the world to see!

5. Great picture of the momentous Hendon Town Fc team of 1972, after their famous Barrassi cup victory!

6. Mill Hill has a new newspaper and it's proving popular

7.A rather sad little story in Golders Green

8.Who needs Hollywood, when you've got Cricklewood!

9. A little puzzle from one of our regulars!

10. The artistic influence of our little corner of London is spreading far and wide!

That's all folks

Saturday 12 August 2017

The Saturday List #142 - My Top Ten comic characters


Last weeks list was my top ten books. After I'd compiled the list, it occurred to me that, the list was perhaps a tad misleading. Whilst it is deffo my top ten book list, it doesn't accurately reflect my reading habits. I don't know if it is because I'm dyslexic or some other reason, but I've always been an avid reader of comics. People unfamiliar with the genre, often think "comics are for kids", however I totally disagree. The success of the genre of comic heroes at the box office sees to validate this, although I feel that very few films do the genre justice. As with the book list, this is semi chronological, in as much as they are ordered roughly by when they came into my life, rather than when they came into existence. There are two different medium, comics and newspaper strips, that for me are both equally important, so I've tried to cover the best of both worlds. Of course there are many great ones I couldn't include here.

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Roger The dodger

1. Roger The Dodger. I guess that his cool name was the reason I took to this particular character. I also associated with his love of trying to get out of doing anything, by deploying cunning dodges. Like many cartoon characters, Roger is anarchic, but not malicious. He's a bit of an outsider, unlike the Bash Street gang. I suppose as a dyslexic, this was a persona I could associate with. I thought Roger was the orignal punk rocker. his style was deffo punk!

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Jeff Hawke
2.  Jeff Hawke. Hawke was the star of a comic strip in the Daily Express, and the work of the great Sydney Jordan. Hawke was a British astronaut involved in  dealing with contact with alien races. My parents bought the Express and the Jeff Hawke column fascinated me. Hawke was a complex character and whilst most sci fi and cartoon characters viewed aliens as inherently dangerous or threatening, Hawke tended to view them as interesting and requiring understanding. He tended to take the view that if they had made it to earth, they were probably more intelligent than us. The stories have been reprinted as collections and are well worth a read.

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Judge Dredd
3. Judge Dredd. Dredd is the flagship character of 200AD. He hit the streets in 1977. Set in a future megacity, on the Eastern seaboard of the USA, where democracy has been replaced with a fascistic system of judges, who dispense instant justice. Dredd is the toughest street judge. The strip emerged at the height of punk rock and the society depicted is was in many ways very 1977 punk. Over the 40 years of his existence, Dredd has been amazingly consistent. A brilliant character. The second film (don't mention the first) is IMHO the best depiction of a comic character ever.

4. Selene. Selene's a character in the X-Men series, who first appeared in 1983. I'm not a massive fan of US comics, however, I was working with a friend who set out to re-educate me around that time. Selene was a mysterious and highly dangerous figure. She'd seduce men at singles bar, the bigger and stronger the better and drain their life force, in a  matter of seconds, regarding them simply as food. She was also capable of enslaving them and bending them to her will. I don't think the character developed in a very interesting way (as is the want of US comics), but when she first showed up, she was probably the scariest of all comic creations. Maybe the scariest thing for me is that she looks rather like my missus, therefore she's clearly someone I'd find rather fanciable! (although my missus doesn't usually wonder round in bondage gear with a whip, just to clarify that).

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5. SlΓ‘ine. Pat Mills Celtic berserker, erstwhile King of Ireland, with his axe Brainbiter. Of all the characters who should have had a film or a TV series, this is the one. A tweet from Mills stated that a producer had turned it down because it was "too like Game of Thrones". What an idiot. Slaine is an outcast, who wanders the emerald isle, forever fighting for the virtue of the earth and the earth Goddess. He has a tragic romance with Naimh and is accompanied by a dwarf called Ukko, who he regularly beats. PC he is not!

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The Fat Slags

6. The Fat slags. A creation of VIZ. Two rather large young ladies living in Nottinghamshire (Fulchester) who's two main interests are eating (usually chips) and casual sex. They made it onto the small screen in a channel 4 animated series and a full length film. A running gag is that the Slags will accuse any men unwilling to sleep with them of being homosexuals and/or having small penises, and many other women of being unattractive and overweight, even when they are quite clearly far prettier and thinner than our heroines themselves. Like many cartoons, the translation from print to film was problematic. What worked really well in print, where it was clear that it was paordying the views of many people as much as the behaviour itself of the characters, becomes very difficult to capture in a film. It's rally rather a shame, because I think the film should have been great.

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Accident man
7. Accident Man. Another Mills creation, from the short lived TOXIC comic. Mike Fallon was a High end hitman, who's speciality was making his hits look like accidents. Another deeply scary character. A new level of complexity was added to his character, when his girflriend, a greepeace activist, was murdered and he went on a mission of revenge. According to wikipedia, the story has been picked up and made into a film. I think that it could be rather good, Mike Fallon as a sort of James Bond gone bad character won't work, but if they pick up the revenge story, it could be a damn fine film. As with all Mills creations there is a whole depth of character there waiting to be fleshed out. Hollywood productions tend to remove all subtlty with the comic genre, I hope that this does not happen here.

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Judge Anderson
8.  Judge Cassandra Anderson. Imagine my joy when I went to China and found that Arthur Ransom, my favourite Judge Anderson illustrator was also on the tour. It would be up there with finding John Lydon was on the trip for me. Ransom had just illustrated the iconic Shambala story. I loved Ransoms artwork and was fascinated when he explained that, unlike a few 2000AD artists, he'd not drawn her as sexy, as she's a Judge. As a psychic, who solves crime using her abilities, shes a very complex character, one who, like Dredd, has seen no dips in the stories she's featured in. Often though provoking. There is a dark side to Anderson, that is occasionally hinted at.

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John The Monkey
9. John The Monkey.I simply had to get a mention of Steve Bell in here. Steve Bell is by far the best British political satire cartoon artist, and I believe that John the Monkey is his greatest creation. A totally amoral character, who started his life in the pursuit of bananas by nefarious means, if my memory serves me correctly, as the sidekick of James Anderton, chief of Manchester Police, in Bells fictional world. Sadly his appearances are few and far between in Bell's Guardian column.

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10. Dilbert. As someone who has worked as an IT consultant at various times, this is a column that I find brilliantly observed. The work of  Scott Adams. There are so many scenarios that Adams  chronicles that mirror things I've seen, that I have started to get paranoid that Adams may actually be stalking me. Dilbert features in both The Daily Mail and The Daily Express and in both is probably the only reason to pick up the papers! It is good to see that there are still brilliant newspaper comic strip writers coming through. It is a fantastic medium and I hope that it survives the huge shock that the digital age has been brought to the printed press business.


And finally....

I simply felt I had to give a mention to Rupert The Bear in the Daily Express. Not because it was one of my favourites, but when my eldest daughter was 2 years old, every day, we'd cut out the Rupert the Bear strip from the Daily  Express, read it and then she'd colour it in and sick it in her scrapbook. It is funny to look at now, as you can see how over the course of six months, her colouring got better and more refined. Sadly, the Express started to print Rupert in colour around that time, so we stopped, but she's now doing a fine art degree, so Rupert The Bear, I salute you!

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Rupert The Bear