Saturday 30 September 2017

The Saturday List 148 - The top ten bits of wisdom my Dad passed on to me

My Dad passed away thirty years ago, in January 1987. If he'd lived, he'd have been 100 right now. I miss the old fella. Last night I had a rather interesting discussion with a couple of friends about their relationships with their parents. They both have lost a father but have a mother. One has a troubled relationship with his 99 year old mum. The other has a degree of anger at some of his siblings who he feels don't make the effort with his 82 year old mum. Both spoke affectionately about their Dad's.

It got me thinking about my Dad. He was an Australian WWII RAF bomber pilot, a giant of a man, who I have lived my life in awe of. I feel that in some ways he is constantly with me, in other ways I've felt very alone and isolated since his passing. If I ever have a massive dilemma in life, I always mentally ask him for wisdom and guidance. Invariably some quite random thought will pop into my head, giving me a unique insight. Often this 'spiritual advice' is extraordinarily bad but totally in keeping with how he lived. One example was when I was extremely pissed off with one of my brothers. I said 'Dad, what would you do in such circumstances'. The thought immediately materialised 'I'd Smack him', which I was quite pleased to ignore, but it cheered me up no end. Is it guidance from beyond, is it just a mental coping technique? I will leave you to decide. However, I often reflect on the nuggets of advice he passed on whilst alive. I thought I'd take the opportunity to pass on the ten best (these are the real verifyable ones, not the potential figments of my imagination).

1. 'Never eat spaghetti on a first date' - He said that it always slops juice over your shirt and destroying any degree of cool you may have been trying to aspire to.

2. 'If you must carry a weapon, make sure anyone you use it on only sees it when they are dead' - Now this may seem like a shocking statement, but it is actually eminently sensible. A weapon is not for show. You should only ever use one if your life is in mortal danger and then you must use it with devastating effect. If you wave it around to impress people, you are placing yourself in danger. His view was that in a civilised society a weapon should never be carried.

3. 'Early to bed, early to rise, makes you healthy, wealthy and wise' - Interestingly my Dad lay in bed every day till 10am and insisted my mum brought him breakfast in bed. Perhaps that's why he died so young. Sadly I've had to train myself to rise early. Haven't managed the early nights though.

4. 'Women judge you by your shoes' - My Dad believed that no decent woman would ever go out with a man who had bad taste in shoes. His days in the Army and airforce meant that he loved well polished shoes. Funnily enough, the one bit of advice guitar legend Hank Marvin gave me, when his son was in The False Dots was 'Always wear good shoes at gigs, never trainers'. Wisdom indeed.

5. 'We won the war because we didn't gas homosexuals' - My Dad was as macho as it is possible to be. In the 1970's when I was growing up, society was still very homophobic. Gay sex between men had only been legal for less than a decade. In amongst all this, there was a show on TV called 'The naked civil servant' about gay icon Quentin Crisp. My Dad was fascinated by this. I asked him what he thought of gay people. His response was that the Nazi's had gassed them, while Britain had found them useful things to do in the war effort. He said that 'if we'd gassed Turing and Noel Coward, we'd have lost the war for sure'. I hadn't a clue what he meant. I do now.

6. 'Always buy the biggest car you can' - This may seem a very bad piece of advice in the modern day and age. He said there was nothing worse than spending a fortune on a sports car and then finding that you can't fit the stuff you need in it. As with many of his pieces of advice, he flouted this rule and bought himself a racing tuned 3 litre Ford Capri. This was justified as it meant we could drive to my sisters house in Northampton in 25 minutes from Mill Hill. For right or wrong, I've always felt that men who drive small cars are in some way lacking. My Dad, being in the motor trade, was extremely judgemental of people who drove what he considered to be bad cars. I can remember being out with him and he met someone. After chatting, he turned to me and said, in his broad Aussie accent 'That fella is a complete W-Anchor'. I was shocked and asked why? 'He's just bought a Lancia.' In our household to own a Lancia was a crime second to none.

7. 'There is no such thing as guilt and innocence, there is just getting caught and getting away with it' - Again this may seem like dodgy advice. We were discussing the great train robbery, which seemed to obsess the media in the 60's and 70's. My Dad said the villains were idiots because they had meticulously planned the robbery but made no plan at all to get away with the dosh. He had a mate who'd robbed a bank in Germany in 1945 with a tank. He used to sell the Reichmarks to squaddies for a discounted rate. I asked him how he could justify such an act. He said 'Pat had been one of the first British Officers into Belsen and he hated Germans, he felt no guilt at all in robbing their money. He was sensible, he made sure he got away with it'. My brother bought this guys house and found a stack of Reichmarks under the floorboards.

8. 'A good aircraft landing is one you walk away from' - His view of danger, any sort, is that if you walked away from it, it was nothing. I think many of his wartime experiences had actually scarred him, far more deeply than he'd ever have admitted. Throughout the 1960's he was plagued with mystery ailments, that were put down to an ulcer. When my mum got cancer in 1970, they all went away for good. I've long suspected it is what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

9. 'Never settle for a woman who doesn't make you happy' - My Dad used to consider anyone who moaned about their wife as a complete idiot. His view was that you should only be with someone you absolutely worship and that in such a case you should be grateful for what you have. The last time I had a conversation with my Dad, he confided in me that he always believed that if he'd never met my mum, he'd never have been anything. He told me that when she was diagnosed with cancer and he was told she'd be dead in two years, his world completely fell apart. He said that it was her strength that pulled him through and he'd felt ashamed of this (outlived him by 31 years).

10. 'Never give a mug an even break' - This was said in response to an incident when he took one of his staff's entire weeks wages off him in a game of cards. I was quite shocked by his attitude, but he said 'If I'd have deliberately played badly, he'd have thought he could actually win. A truly evil thing would be to take half his wages off him every week. This way he won't play again and might learn something'. My Dad always took the view that you should never gamble if you couldn't stand losing your shirt. I generally don't gamble, because I realised my Dad was a very good gambler and I realised that to be one, you must be completely ruthless and amoral when indulging. He played to win, I don't. I play to enjoy, in most things. But if I have to gamble, I understand the rules and I religiously follow his ethics.

I feel quite emotional having put this together. I think I'll have a Guinness and a Drambuie tonight in his honour.

Friday 29 September 2017

The Friday Joke 29/9/2017

A traveling salesman was about to check in at a hotel when he noticed a very charming and elegant lady giving him the eye. In a causal manner he walked over and spoke to her as though he had known her all his life.
Both walked back to the desk and registered as Mr. and Mrs Smith.

After a three-day stay he walked up to the desk and informed the clerk that he was checking out. The clerk presented him with his bill for £6,000.
"There is a mistake here," he said. "I have been here only three days."
"Yes," replied the clerk, "But your wife has been here a month in the luxury suite on the top floor and before she left she said you'd be picking up the tab for both, Mr 'Smith'.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday 28 September 2017

Mill Hill Broadway and the flight of the banks

This week two financial institutions shut their doors for the last time in Mill Hill Broadway. Nat West and Halifax followed Lloyds and HSBC in sticking their fingers up at customers and shutting up shop. The message is 'use our branch in Edgware'. I was discussing the issue yesterday and one of the  people I was with said 'so what? No one uses bank branches anymore'. This is a common myth. Sadly it is one which the management of banks has bought into. Whilst personal customers use banks far less, for businesses, community groups and charities they are vital. I am a member of the Mill Hill Music Festival organising committee. During the festival we require the bank every day, to pay in cash and cheque ticket sales and to get cash for artists and expenses. We moved from Lloyds to Barclays as a result of the closure. A five minute trip to pay in would have become 40 minutes, with the cost and hassles of parking on top. Likewise, The Sacred Heart Church, which I am also involved in has had to change its banking arrangements. The cash collected at mass has to be paid in. All charities doing cash collections etc are in a similar situation, as are sports clubs, Brownie groups etc.

Then there are local businesses. I run one of these. There are a plethora of other similar ones on Mill Hill Broadway all with a requirement to pay in cash. I also travel extensively and have a requirement to collect foreign currency. All of these things become more time consuming and hassle without local banks. If you walk past Barclays, our sole remaining clearing bank, you will see that there is invariably a queue of people waiting for service. These are real customers who require a local branch.  I charge my time out as a consultant at £75 per hour, if you require my skills on a commercial basis. If I have to make three trips a week to Edgware to pay in, that has in effect cost me £225. It means I have to drive rather than walk, creating pollution and being bad for my health. If banks don't care, then we need to move our custom.

In answer to those who say 'there are other way to do all of those things'. Maybe there is, but they involve hassle, disruption and research. A local charity I know is considering stopping as the lady who does the fundraising, does not want the aggravation and risk of having to get a bus to Edgware with heavy bags of coins. If you've opened a bank account recently, you will know how much hassle changing banks is. I don't understand why banks can't share Know Your Customer (KYC) information for switchers. This would remove all of this hassle.

I will be writing to the chairman of Barclays, asking for a commitment to Mill Hill. If this is forthcoming, I suggest all local businesses and charities switch their arrangements accordingly.

Wednesday 27 September 2017

The Wednesday Poem #30 - Pickled Onions and Cheddar Cheese

Pickled Onions and Cheddar Cheese,
So strong that they can burn your teeth,
Don't give me Roquefort, Gouda or Brie,
Forget the Branston and Piccalilli.

Wash it down with an IPA,
With Malt, hops and yeast, I pray,
Not cider, lager or Chardonnay,
Just proper beer to end my day.

Don't give me all your gastropubs,
with a plethora of fancy grubs,
Ladies dressed like well pruned shrubs,
Despising all us beery chubs.

Recall the days of flock and darts,
Jukebox, smoke and drunken tarts,
Stagger home in fits and starts,
Too drunk to cry for broken hearts.

I fear the day of pubs has gone,
Outdated like a mastodon,
Crumbling like the Parthenon,
Yes my friend, our day has gone.

Copyright 2017 - Roger Tichborne

I felt it was high time I wrote a poem celebrating the pub culture of my teenage years. There are still decent traditional pubs in Central London. Landlords like Emily at the Chandos in Colindale and Senan at The Bohemia in Finchley do a great job reinventing the suburban pub. But the days of smoke, darts, flock wallpaper and a proper cheese ploughmans have gone forever. As part of the research for this, I googled IPA recipes. To my horror, most are American and most are sacreligiois to an old fart like me!

Monday 25 September 2017

Elstree Studios 90th Birthday Celebrations

Last night, I was honoured to attend a very special occasion. Normally, we stick to Barnet events, but we made an exception last night for two very good reasons.The first is that it's on the doorstep and the second was that my good lady's band, The BBC Elstree Concert Band were performing!

The event was the final night of celebrations for the 90th Birthday of Elstree studios. The event consisted of two halves. The first half had screenings of classic footage of '60's and '70's TV series made at Elstree. including The Saint, The Avengers and Jason King. A whole slate of celebs turned out, most notably Guest of Honour Diana Rigg, and some great film memorabila including Simon Templar's car!. Here are a selection of tweets which give a good flavour of the night.

The Q&A sessions were great. A good selection of anecdotes, not all of which are suitable for a family blog such as this! Dame Diana Rigg looked great. I was fascinated to learn that the reason that Patrick McNee's female sidekicks were so "macho" was not due to a forward looking, feminist agenda, it was just because they originally had a bloke lined up and they couldn't be bothered to rewrite the scripts!

There was also a tribute to Roger Moore. He was always my favourite Bond and he used to live at the top of my road. He also has a very cool Christian name and us Roger's do stick together! The footage from the Saint was great, as was the short, previously unseen interview footage. There were some  very affectionate anecdotes. It was pretty clear just how well liked Roger was.

The second half of the show, had the BBC Elstree band playing a selection of well known TV and Film theme tunes, including The Avengers, The Third Man and Superman. Paul Walsh OBE, a local film historian and campaigner MC'd this section of the show. Paul had been enjoying the hospitality and gave a very down to earth intro of the various tunes, recalling various incidents such as Christopher Reeve, as Superman, dangling in clear view from Shenley Road from a crane. One suspects that Superman IV was not Paul's favourite film from the Period. He spoke rather more affectionately about "Murder on the Orient Express" which had a stellar cast. He also observed that the On The Buses films had made huge profits on tiny budgets.

Paul also observed that back in the 1960's and 1970's TV companies were prepared to take risks when commissioning productions and spend money on decent musical scores as so well demonstrated by the great tunes the band belted out!

Elstree studios are a gem. It was the first time I'd actually been back there since my acting career finished in 1970, apart from once when I accompanied my Dad to drop off a car he'd resprayed for a production. As it was being used in a film, he'd put his best sprayer on it and instructed him to give it a Rolls Royce finish. I can't remember what the film was but we got free tickets and he was horrified to see that all the hard work resulted in 15 seconds on screen and then the car crashing and blowing up. I look forward to the 100 years celebration in 2027.

Hopefully there will be some great output between now and then. Great Britain has amazing creative industries. We need to protect and preserve them. It was an honour to share in there celebrations!

Sunday 24 September 2017

The Tweets of The Week in the London Borough of Barnet - 24/9/2017

What a lovely Sunday morning. I am sure you awoke wondering what lovely chesnuts we'd pick from the autumnal chestnut tree of Barnet tweets for your delictation! So without further ado, we'll crack on with our selection of the porkiest prime cuts from the Tweeters of Barnet. Don't forget to follow any who tickle your fancy!

1. Oh the lot of a Policeman/Policewoman isn not a happy one. Not exactly Moriarty, this chap.

2. John Keough enjoyed a rather tasty gig in Finchley on Friday night!

3. Can you help police solve an unsolved murder from 1972?

4. We know a lot of readers are interested in local history. This looks unmissable!

5. Sadly more fly tipping in Golders Green

6. The good, the bad and the ugly in Mill Hill. No, they are not remaking the film.

7. Great autumnal colours in Finchley

8. Barnet Rebel rather enjoyed his bat walk

9.I loved this tweet from one of our regulars!

10. The incredible Wilde Roses were in Mill Hill rehearsing for their forthcoming, sell out US Tour!

Thats all from the tweeters for this week!

Saturday 23 September 2017

The Satuday List #147 - Give me a break! 147 is a magical number

Image result for The Saturday List
I've been looking forward to this list for quite a long time! As a reformed Snooker-a-holic, 147 is a mythical and magical number. The highest possible break without refereeing errors or free shots. But are there nine other facts about the number 147 interesting enough to make a Saturday list? Well actually there are lots and lots IMHO! Of all the articles I write in the week, the list is my favourite to put together. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.

1. 147 is the maximum possible break you can achieve in snooker.

Image result for Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius
 2. 147AD was a momentous year in the Roman Empire. Marcus Aurelius receives imperial powers from the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius and Festivals were hel to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the founding of Rome. Aurelius later became Emperor and was known as "The Last of the Five Good Emperors". He was a man of wisdom and is to me the most interesting of the roman Emperors, who back in 147AD were the rulers of our nation. Aurelius is a fascinating character.

His writings, known as "The Meditations" are profound and enlightening this is one of my favourite

"When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can't tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own—not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine."

 147AD was a good year all round for Marcus Aurelius, as his eldest daughter Annia Aurelia Galeria Faustina was born.

3. On the biblical front,   Psalm 147 is perhaps my favorite Psalm. It contains the lines:

The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
He gathers the outcasts of Israel.
 He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds.


The Lord supports the afflicted;
He brings down the wicked to the ground. 

Maybe it's rather a shame that certain politicians and leaders seem to be rather unfamilair with this text.

4. In 147 BC, the Corlea Trackway in Ireland was completed. There is a rather British misunderstanding that Ireland was primitive and unsophisticated before we started to poke our noses into Irish affairs. Archaelogical evidence such as the Corlea Trackway rather contradicts this.

The Long Walk
5. In 2000AD issue 147, "The Long Walk" is shown for the first time. This is the walk Judges take when they retire.

The distopian world of Judge Dredd seems to roll ever closer. In Dredds world, the last President of the USA was Robert L. Booth.   His rhetoric bears a striking similarity to a certain well known incumbent. The City is ringed by a Mile High Wall. Spy in the sky drone technology was predicted in the 1970's as were rigged voting machines. Interestingly, the two most successful Mayor's in Mega City one were Dave the Orang utang, Dave had the one quality which is totally lacking in most politicians in that he was completely honest. The other  PJ Maybe, a psychopathic killer who's partner was a sexbot (long before such things were available), who simply murdered everyone in his way to the top. Strangely having killed everyone in his way, Maybe turned out to be a rather good Mayor, as whilst he had no care for peoples personal wellbeing, he wanted to be loved by the people, therefore he did the job well and was uncorruptable.

6. Sergio Aguero, the Manchester City striker, scored his first 100 premiership goals in 147 games. Only Alan Shearer reached the figure in less games (perhaps my favourite 147 as a City fan!).

7. In May this year, the worlds oldest man, aged 147 died in Indonesia! Sadly his age could not be verified, therefore the Guinness book of records refused to recognise the record.

8. The parish Church of Friern Barnet, St John The Evangelist Church is no 147, Friern Barnet Road. Friern Barnet is a rather important site in the modern history of the London Borough of Barnet. When certain local politicians tell you that no libraaries have been closed in the Borough of Barnet, ask them about Friern Barnet Library. That was closed and only reopened after an occupation, national press coverage, a court case and the prospect of electoral losses for the ruling party. St Johns is a integral part of this rather amazing community.

9. Arkley is the fourth highest point in London, being 147 Metres above sea level!

10. If you think we are a bit OCD about lists and numbers check this out! have you heard of  "The Chain" -This site lists the records chosen for The Chain, a feature of BBC 6 Music’s fabulous Radcliffe & Maconie Show. The first record on The Chain was The Chain by Fleetwood Mac. And choice number 147 was a very fine choice indeed. Spanish Bombs by The Clash!

Have a great weekend! Here's a rather cool tune to get you in the groove!

Friday 22 September 2017

The Friday Joke - The big wedding

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Jennifer's wedding day was fast approaching. Nothing could dampen her excitement - not even her parent's nasty divorce. Her mother had found the PERFECT dress to wear, and would be the best-dressed mother-of-the-bride ever!

A week later, Jennifer was horrified to learn that her father's new, young wife had bought the exact same dress as her mother! Jennifer asked her father's new young wife to exchange it, but she refused. "Absolutely not! I look like a million bucks in this dress, and I'm wearing it," she replied.
Jennifer told her mother who graciously said, "Never mind sweetheart.I'll get another dress. After all, it's your special day."
A few days later, they went shopping, and did find another gorgeous dress for her mother.
When they stopped for lunch, Jennifer asked her mother, "Aren't you going to return the other dress? You really don't have another occasion where you could wear it."
Her mother just smiled and replied, "Of course I do, dear... I'm wearing it to the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding."

Have a great weekend. We hope to see a few of our readers later tonight at The Bohemia for our gig!  Please help us support live music!

Thursday 21 September 2017

Capita computer cock-up blamed for Barnet Council's delayed accounts (Barnet Labour Press Release)

Barnet Council's accounts for 2016/17 have been delayed for months due to a change in computer systems which meant the Capita data systems did not match up with the audit format, councillors learned at an extraordinary meeting of the Audit Committee this week (19 Sep).

In the meeting, specially convened in order to scrutinise the final accounts for 2016/17, the problem was compared to the two systems speaking different languages. The accounts should have been finalised and signed-off before the summer.

The meeting also discussed a litany of errors and issues in the accounts highlighted by the auditors, including:

- material misstatements resulting in a reduction in Council net assets and reserves by £82.348 million, and of the Barnet Group by £89.295 million
- failure to collect £925,711 for energy costs from Comer Homes, who own the North London Business Park site that the Council is currently based at. The auditors' report says that "We have seen correspondence in 2015 suggesting this will be repaid at £50,000 per month but we have not seen any recovery to date. The case has been passed to HB Public Law".
- failure to invoice Re Ltd (Joint Venture company with Capita) for contract performance penalties totalling £4.6 million.

Capita run both finance and IT services for Barnet Council.

East Finchley Councillor and Audit Committee member, Arjun Mittra said:

"When we scrutinised the appointment of Capita we were told they were the best in the world in offering these types of IT systems, that they have clients all over the world and are experts. It turns out that's complete baloney and really they are quite rubbish."

On the failure to recoup money from Comer and Re Ltd, Woodhouse Councillor, Alan Schneiderman said:

"It is astonishing that this has gone on for two years. That is a lot of money that could be put to good use. I don't know why it seems so difficult to recoup the money. If the Council were as tough with Comer Homes and Capita as they are with residents when collecting Council Tax we would have the money back in no time. Why are they always weak to the strong but strong to the weak?"