Monday, 28 December 2020

2020 - The Year in blogs, the year when we got in touch with ourselves


My moment of the year

At the end of the year, there are several traditions here. We did one of these yesterday, the Tweets of the year. As ever this got a great response. Now we move on to my review of the year through the blogs I wrote. This has evolved over the years. I find it fascinating seeing how years develop. Looking at last years list, it is clear what a hurricane of year this has been. As a blog conceived to cover local issues, a global pandemic has been a difficult subject to address. I felt criticism of the council was rather pointless during this period. They have enough to do without having to deploy media resources to address (or more usually ignore) issues raised by local bloggers. It is also true to say that I am less concerned about mending potholes than making sure locals stay alive. I never really wanted to become a commentator on national issues, but with what has gone on this year, it would have been impossible to write a 'normal local blog'. I've been far less inspired as well. This year has seen me write less blogs than any year since I started. I happen to think the quality has been better, but it really has not been the Barnet Eye as we know it. I've tried to put up stories of interest, as I know many readers have been a tad bored with the lack of social interaction. So looking back, what caught my eye?


The year started on a positive note, wishing  Happy New decade to all of the readers of the Barnet Eye  I rather rashly predicted that Crossrail would open. I won't make that mistake again! I also rather glumly anticipated the Pentavia development, that bit the dust when Google acquired the site for a distribution depot. We now know what getting Brexit done means. I suppose my prayers have been answered in as much as we look to have escaped the worst of what Brexit could have meant, but I for one am not convinced that it is much better than the worst, but I don't want to go into that here. I stated that I was optimistic about the music scene. How wrong could I be, I have serious doubts that there will be a grassroots music scene as we know it in a years time. I was also feeling positive about High Streets. The pandemic has put paid to many great businesses. How will it bounce back? Well unless there are massive rent reductions and some more enlightened banking practices it won't. Elite sports are just about surviving, but grassroots teams like Hadley FC are once again in Limbo. My thoughts on Politics haven't really changed. I think that the last few years and the shape of the government has shown that UK politics is broken. We need PR and we need to see an end to the Hegemony of the Eton brigade. I wasn't a fan, but Thatcher was someone who got there on merit and saw the UK needed to move away from the old way of doing things. Sadly, Cameron and Boris have taken us back. As for Kier Starmer. He may be more electable than Jeremy Corbyn, but he is as inspiring as a bowl of slightly rancid haddock. I've no idea what he believes in. Like all Non Tories, I've enjoyed watching him monstering Boris at the Despatch box, but I want to see a politician that has passion and believes in helping those at the bottom of the ladder. Starmer has not convinced me that this is his mission. 

I think the best blog was the collabaration with local Industrial historian Mark Amies. We made a film exposing the dire state of Edgware -  The Fall of Edgware - Time for action on the massive Edgware Railway Hotel fly tip - Do this now!

This video has now had over 4,000 views and has attracted much comment. Sadly Edgware looks worse than ever a year on. When tier 4 is lifted, I feel another video is due.


A blog I rather enjoyed was the Five random 'What if' questions about the Borough of BarnetWe explored a few key changes that have happened to the Borough and explored how things may have worked out different had different decisions been taken. These questions always intrigue me.  We did a series of blogs on the Barnet Council Draft local plan. These were the last normal 'Barnet Council blogs' we did in the true sense of the word. Sadly many are now waking up to what these plans contain. I commented on the Mill Hill Plan  Barnet Council Draft Local Plan Analysis - 3 - Mill Hill - No plan and no vision Sadly, no one really paid much attention to my comments. What more can one do?

Another blog that got a good reception was my blog about the books that have made an impression on me and my struggles with reading as a dyslexic. It is interesting that dyslexics get this whilst people who aren't think it is all a bit weird. Dyslexia Blog - My journey through #dyslexia in books - I am always pleased when I get random messages and emails saying that I've helped someone. This generated a few. 


March saw the end of normal civic activities as we know them. In early March, I visited Cricklewood and made a short film as the Town Team unveil Handley Page mural at Cricklewood Station This was a great day. The mural is amazing and shows just what you can achieve as a community when you have effective local organisation and people are prepared to work together sensibly for the common good. 

There was also a nice guest blog with  Memories of the M1 coming to Mill Hill - A Guest blog by Chris The Millhillian it is great being able to capture these memories and share them. I feel privileged to do this. 


In April we were locked down, which gave me the opportunity to have a good old rummage through the family photo archive. The product of this was  Mill Hill and Motors from the 60's and 70's - Some pictures and reminiscences from my Dad's collection
I wasn't really sure whether anyone would be interested in this, but the response was amazing. I'm not sure whether that was good blogging or people were just bored, but I had all manner of weird and wonderful responses.

Another blog that got a huge response was one originally from 2009, The tides of change in Mill Hill Broadway - 1958 to 2009 (updated with pics 2020)  a guest blog by my Aunt Audrey Shaw, who had made a list of shops on the Broadway in 1958 and a comparison list in 2009. I updated it to the lockdown and added pictures of all the shops. Audrey passed away from Corona Virus in early April, this was a tribute. She worked in Lloyds bank for many years, I was touched by the number of people who remembered her.


In May, I took a journey   From Mill Hill to UCH, a lockdown journey through London as you've never seen it before  for an MRI scan as part of my ongoing treatment for Prostate Cancer. The journey was at the height of lockdown, so I thought I'd record the journey for posterity. It is strange seeing London so deserted 

As part of our mission to entertain and keep spirits up in Lockdown, I posted a number of quizzes about the local area, they all got a great response. If you didn't try them then, why not have a go now  The Mill Hill and Surrounding Areas quiz no 3 You can click here for the answers.


We saw the Black Lives matter protest kick off in June. I felt inspired to put a number together with a couple of members of my band and with Charlie Honderick guesting on vocals. I passionately believe in using music and video to get a message over. I was very happy with this  Get your knee off my brothers neck - why words are not enough 

Guest blogs have always been a central part of the blog. One of our best guest bloggers is Richard Wilkinson. In June he provided Guest Blog - The Musings of Richard Wilkinson part 1 Mill Hill as it was I always love reading these. They are funny and very nostalgic. Amusingly, there is another local blogger who has become rather jealous of Richard's cult following and has taken to posting nasty Twitter messages about him. Richard tells me that this has provided all of the justification he needed to stay well away from Twitter. Fortunately 99.9% of people are not nasty and enjoy such posts for what they are, a bit of fun. Sadly the 0.1% mean that people who actually have something to say on social media give it a wide berth. 

Another of our rather good guest bloggers, Mark Amies, who is also a guest contributor on BBC Radio London had his book published in June.  London’s Industrial Past by Mark Amies - A review  if you haven't bought a copy, I'd suggest you do. It is well illustrated and an easy read.


In June I went back to work as Lockdown ended. By mid July, I was missing it!  Back to work - five things I'm missing from lockdown  I've got to confess, I sniggered when I re-read it.

My fellow Barnet blogger Mr Reasonable, AKA John Dix wrote a very good analysis of the Capita Contract and its performance in July. I did a short blog to draw attention to it. This is the best Barnet blog this year IMHO. Is Capita working for the London Borough of Barnet?
I strongly suggest your read it.


My favourite blog from August was What are the Trinobanjes and the Goare Hundreds if you are interested in local history, this will be of interest. It was picked up as a note and query by the Robert Elms show on BBC Radio London, the answer was fascinating. Sadly, that episode of the show is no longer up.

In the middle of the magic money tree madness that was 'Eat Out to Help Out', I detailed my scepticism of the wisdom of the scheme  Rishi Sunaks meal deal bung - A magic money tree bung with no logic at all . Sadly not only was I right, but the effects of this moment of madness are with us as we languish in Tier 4. If the government had not encouraged us to go so bonkers, maybe we'd not be in the mess we are now. I just wish we could sue the Chancellor for gross negligence with our cash. Sadly such things are not possible.


My favourite blog from September was How the 70's was the decade where the British discovered food This was a fun blog that described how we moved from being a nation that was scared of funny tastes to one which is now the food capital of the world. I got a couple of very interesting emails telling me that I didn't know what I was talking about. It is funny what people get upset about!

Another great blog was a joint blog with local conservationist and bird watcher Samuel Levy. Totteridge Valley Specials - 1. Interesting Insects prompted by a tweet Samuel posted of a wasp spider. This is a fascinating blog that is well worth a look if you are interested in local flora and fauna. 


In October, I did the Funky Friday slot on the Robert Elms show. I went for a Ska theme. It got an amazing response  Funky Friday - Top Ska and Reggae tunes to get you dancing - My Playlist from the Robert Elms show
If you fancy a boogie, click the playlist.

We also had a massive campaign, instigated by our friend Samuel Levy, to oppose a huge development of battery storage facility in the Totteridge Valley. Two days to save the Totteridge Valley - Please watch this video and make an objection
 Samuel made an impassioned and well argued video, that we were only too pleased to promote. This went viral and nearly 700 objections were received.


My favourite blog from November was The Saturday List #287 - Ten reasons why I love the Pogues which may well be the start of a series within a series. The Pogues are an excellent band, who produce brilliant music. They are known for one song, but there is so much more to them. This list is well worth a look. 

All of the noncense being spouted by anti vaxxers inspired me to outline my opposition to them  Why taking a vaccine is a sociable and sensible thing to do. Sadly it seems to me that there is no point trying to apply logical responses to their questions as they simply don't believe anything which diverges from their world view. I genuinely believe such people to be ignorant as selfish, as they will rely on the rest of us getting inoculated to save themselves through our herd immunity. The way the government has handled the crisis is deplorable, but that is a very different thing to suggesting that all of the doctors, scientists and researchers who work on vaccines are part of some dodgy conspiracy. As I've said before, I'll trust the science. 


On the 14th December, I wrote a blog about how the fear of entering tier 3 suddenly was causing sleepless nights and how  Running a business in Covid times is impossible due to drastic policy lurches. Well careful what you wish for. A week later we were bounced into tier 4 and Xmas was cancelled. Boris and his merry men ended the year with one final kick in the goolies to us all. You might think I'd be in despair? Well I've managed to maintain my faith in humanity. In fact December saw a kind gesture that made me realise that even in the eye of a storm there is always a place for kindness. The source? Well I would never have dreamed that it would be Watford FC Captain Troy Deeney, but it was. Find out why  My faith in humanity is somewhat restored this morning by a true act of human kindness

So there you go. That was 2020. There's only tree days left, what could possibly go wrong now...... 

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