Sunday, 31 January 2021

The Tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet - 31/1/2021

We are already one twelfth of the way through the year, can you believe it. Time flies when you are, um, er, well you know. Despite the lockdown, we have an interesting and eclectic mixture of Tweets this week. So without further ado...

1. Mill Hill's favourite Irish resident has been granted the Freedom of the City of London. we look forward to the Morris Minor being loaded with his sheep for the Lord Mayor's Parade


2. Need a covid test? Here are the local testing centres


3. I've played football on these fields many times, but I don't ever remember them looking like this. I used to love the cold wind whipping off the Welsh Harp whilst putting a crunching reducer tackle. Those were the days


4. A classic British response!


5. Another great wildlife shot from Samuel Levy. It's amazing what is on our doorstep


6. This is a great community initiative in Cricklewood


7. Some great music from Golders Green Hippodrome back in the day. Billy Duffy is one of our fave guitarists.


8. A sad moment for all of us football fans. Not Barnet but close enough by to warrant inclusion


9. This is a great tweet. I love the fact that we are now sharing our collections via Twitter


10. Who didn't want one of these when they were a nipper?


That's all folks!

Saturday, 30 January 2021

The Saturday list #294 - Our Top Ten conspiracy theories

 As we are all going a bit stir crazy, I thought I'd chill out, kick back and have a look at a few conspiracy theories, giving my take on how likely they are to be true and why.

1. Q-Anon. This is the perhaps the top conspiracy theory doing the rounds at the moment. They basically believe that the world is run by a bunch of paedophiles, who control everything so that they can carry out their noncing, unimpeded by the law. Interestingly, there is a Twitter account in Mill Hill dedicated to conspiracy theories, but they never mention Q-Anon or nonces? Could it be a conspiracy? 

Are Q-Anon right? Well, not moving in such circles, it is hard to tell. The activities of Prince Andrew  have not exactly done too much to dispel the rumours, but the fact we know about what he got up to perhaps tells us that the conspirators aren't quite as powerful as some think. Child abuse in the Catholic Church certainly gives some idea of just how dodgy it can be when such people get a whiff of power, and the sorry tale of Jimmy Savile is another sordid example, but to me it seems to me that it is unlikely that there is such a cabal running everything in the way Q-Anon claim.

Probability that it's true 4/10 (ie there is a bit of that going on but Q-Anon are overstating it).


2. The moon landings were a hoax. I suspect that this was started by James Bond, when Sean Connery disrupts a faked lunar landing scene in a film set in Diamonds are forever. I think there is a body of evidence that some of the pictures are dodgy, but given that the lunar landing took place at the height of the cold war, it is unlikely that the USSR wouldn't have made hay out of a faked landing. I discussed this with my Dad, an EX RAF pilot before he died, one time when we were watching Diamonds are forever. He told me that in WW2, the allies could track an enemy bomber taking off in France, so the idea that the Soviet Union couldn't spot a hoaxed landing is bonkers.  I am always amused that the same people who think the landings were a hoax believe that the USA have alien technology in Area 51. 

Probability that it's true 2/10 


3. JFK wasn't shot by Lee Harvey Oswald. There are many theories about who shot JFK. The CIA, the mob, the Russians. There have been films, documentaries and billions of lines of speculation. The whole thing stank to high heaven. It seems likely to me that Oswald was in some way involved, but was a useful idiot to blame in the plot, so that more powerful and shady people could get away with it. Will we ever be sure? I suspect we won't know in my lifetime, unless I live til I'm 120.

Probability 8/10


4. Prince Phillip is an 11 foot high lizard. This is the belief of self proclaimed messiah, David Icke. He believes Prince Phillip is a shape shifting alien and part of a cabal that rules the world (I'm not quite sure if this is the same cabal that Q-Anon suspect, and to be honest I can't really be bothered researching the views of people who are clearly bonkers). Many believe that this is simply a metaphor for Icke's anti semitism.  I well recall David Icke coming out as the Messiah on a TV chat show, in a turquoise track suit. He predicted that the channel tunnel would  be destroyed by an earthquake shortly. I suspect that this prediction was as accurate as his assertion about Prince Phillip.

Probability 0/10


5. David Bowie isn't dead. I have a friend who is a conspiracy theorist. He informed me that Bowie isn't dead. Apparently there is a theory that Bowie simply relocated to a luxury refuge to get away from an impending disaster that will wipe the rest of us out. Apparently this place is stuffed full of billionaires and their families. I've met a few billionaires and TBH if I was Bowie, I'd rather be dead than stuck with them. Sadly, the likelihood of Bowie being alive is negligible. He was a genius and loved making music, so why would he stop?| When he passed, I was tempted to think he'd faked it as his last release was Lazarus, recalling the biblical story of a man raised from the dead. Sadly, Jesus isn't walking among us at the moment and there are no known occurrences of that other messiah, David Icke, raising anyone from the dead.

Probability 0/10

6. The British charts were rigged during the Queens silver jubilee in 1977 to prevent God Save The Queen by the Sex Pistols from being number one. I know someone who used to work compiling the charts and they confirmed this, off the record, to me. The BBC still deny it, but they would, wouldn't they? Rod Stewart was the lucky beneficiary of these shenanigans.

Probability 9/10


7. Adolph Hitler did not die in his bunker. There have always been rumours that Hitler fled and lived out his days in Argentina. My Dad had a mate who was an intelligence officer at the Israeli embassy. The guy had been in the Israeli airforce and they had a shared love of flying. He told my Dad that Mossad kept an open file on the matter. He said that if there was any credible evidence, they would have moved heaven and earth to nab him and put him on trial. Although Hitler would have had the whole mechanism of the German state behind him to facilitate his escape, he would have had the largest bounty on his head in history. I tend to think my Dad's friends  analysis was correct, it was possible, but very unlikely. If he did survive, he would have lived like a rat, holed up in constant fear of Mossad, awaiting the inevitable betrayal. Not justice though. I believe he took the cowards way out, having destroyed the nation he lead.

Probability 2/10


8. Great Britain has had a base on Mars since the 1950's. This is an odd one. There is a documented Parliamentary question in Hansard about the British base on Mars in the 1950's. There is almost no other reference to this anywhere. Given the state  of our technology, this would only have been possible if the UK had entered into partnership with an alien race with Inter Stellar travel capabilities. Whilst this is perhaps possible, a more mundane explanation was that it was a codename for a secret base in a less glamourous place, in a time when people weren't obsessed with conspiracies. If we had such a deal in the 1950's, I suspect that we'd not still have railways with 60 year old diesel engines chugging around on them. 

Probability 1/10


9. The USA recovered a flying saucer and aliens from a crash at Roswell. This is a very interesting story. The initial press report clearly stated that a flying saucer had crashed. There is testimony from many witnesses that whatever crashed was extra terrestrial in its nature. The story that it was a weather balloon has been debunked. A more feasible explanation is that it was a highly advanced US test vehicle and the Yanks didn't want the USSR to know. If the craft was alien in origin and the US genuinely did have dead aliens, it seems likely that aliens would come back for their comrades. Would they end up having a treaty with the USA? It is what intelligent, sentient being tend to do. My gut feeling is that on balance it is possible but unlikely.

Probability 4/10


10. Neil Armstrong saw aliens when he landed on the moon. There is a rumour that Neil Armstrong was met by a fleet of alien space ships when he landed his craft on the moon. The live feed between Armstrong and the Earth was interrupted for two minutes. The theory is that he was describing the aliens to ground control. Armstrong never mentioned this, but then again he wouldn't. One has to assume that although the missing segment wasn't broadcast, the USSR would have been monitoring this and would be well aware of what happened. We'd have to assume that if the aliens were 'sending a message to humanity' both the USA and USSR would have got this message. One would have expected such a seismic shock to have ended the cold war and started a swift round of dΓ©tente. Conspiracy theorists have always believed that this did happen behind the scenes, with a joint USA/USSR Apollo mission to recover alien artefacts from the moon. The main problem I have with these theories is that if an alien race is capable of assembling a fleet of space ships to 'send a message to earth', they would be equally capable of using a radio message to the President of the USA and arranging a face to face meeting somewhere discreet. I tend to think that the fact that Donald Trump didn't make a name for himself by revealing all of this when he had the chance, tends to indicate that it didn't happen. But then again, maybe the CIA showed him the real 'JFK files' to show him what happens to presidents who misbehave. Now there's a conspiracy theory for you!

Probability 2/10

Have a great weekend!




That's all folks

Friday, 29 January 2021

The Friday Joke - 29/1/2021

 So how are you doing as the weekend approaches. It's been a bruising week, the UK passed over 100,000 covid deaths. We need a bit of light relief. So today, we'll not only give you a joke, but a great album, brought to my attention by Robert Elms on BBC Radio London. It is very chilled and very good!

But first....

 I went to a job interview on Thursday. The interviewer asked if I could perform under pressure. I replied I wasn't sure, but my band used to do a killer version of 'Another one bites the dust'.

 And here is the album, ideal with a nice fire and a bottle of Malbec, Boz Scaggs Fade into light from 2005




Have a great weekend and don't let the bugs bite!

Thursday, 28 January 2021

"Don't worry too much if you get lost"

 Have you ever got lost? I don't mean just a little lost, but totally lost, without a clue where you are or what you are going to do, in a place which you are unfamiliar with and without money or identification? 

It has only happened to me once. It was about ten years ago when we went on holiday to the USA and were visiting friends in Milwaukee. I went with my wife and children and we were visiting friends. Although I am good with directions and knowing where I am, our friends had picked us up at the airport and taken us directly to their house. I hadn't bothered to even ask their address. On the next day, the plan was to go to a large amusement park, where I can't even remember. As we were with friends, I didn't take my passport. My wife had all of our US currency as she feels I am irresponsible with large amounts of cash and I can't be bothered arguing. We did what you do at theme parks. After about an hour, I needed to go to the loo and said "Just wait here a second". Off I went. When I came back, they'd gone. I didn't have a mobile phone that worked on US networks, so I couldn't ring them. I didn't have any cash at all. I had credit cards, but nothing to actually buy food or drinks because the stalls didn't take them.

I initially assumed they would come back, so I just waited, but after an hour they hadn't returned. It dawned on me that I had no clue where my friends lived. I didn't have our address book. I didn't know where I was. I had no cash, no ID, just a few credit cards and I didn't even know if I could use these in a cab. It suddenly dawned on me that I was completely lost. I knew where I was, but even finding my friends would be a monumental effort. We'd driven several miles and I didn't even know what district of Milwaukee they lived in. Where do you start in such a situation, especially with no cash?

Eventually I decided to set off and find them, but the park was huge. I tried to imagine where they might have gone. After another hour and a half of searching, no luck and it was announced that the park was closing. I couldn't even remember where they'd parked. To make matters worse, there were several exits that all looked the same. I couldn't believe the situation. I couldn't work out what to do. Should I check into a hotel? Would they let me in with no ID, would they believe my bizarre story? Maybe I should report myself lost at the Police station. I was just about to make my way out as the park was shutting, when the party showed up. What amazed me was they weren't in the least concerned. They'd not heard me say I was going to the loo and hadn't noticed I was missing until long after the event. They'd assumed that I'd got bored and would meet them back at the car.

It was an instructive lesson. I will never, ever find myself in a foreign country not knowing where I am staying again. Needless to say, they all thought it bloody hilarious. I often wondered how it would have panned out if I'd not bumped into them. It hadn't occurred to them that I didn't have their address and telephone number. 

A few months later, I was with a group of people with special needs in France. We were visiting a place and people were going off on their own in small groups. I made sure we all had our badges and made a point of stressing that if anyone got lost, come to the town square and we'd meet under the clock. I said "Don't worry too much if you get lost, just make your way back here". As everyone went off, I should say that those who might get lost had people with them who I trusted to find their way back, I thought of the irony of the situation. We can all get lost. And then I thought about the situation we find ourselves in today with covid, many of us had the roadmap of our life mapped out. We had plans. We had savings, we had all sorts of things. And now here we are. Whoever thought one could get lost in their own home? Strange times indeed.  


Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Covid - We are not helpless - A guest blog by Dr Julia Hines

By Dr Julia Hines

Yesterday the Government confirmed that by their figures more than 100,000 people have died of Covid. It was a Tuesday, so Barnet published their figures, as usual, at 5pm. In 2020, across the whole year, 560 Barnet residents died of Covid 19. It was the cause of death on 20% of death certificates. This year, in the first two weeks of 2021, 130 Barnet residents died. Almost a quarter of last years death toll, and it feels like a toll, in just two weeks. 

Here is the thing - according to Barnet's figures, the case numbers are going down. But they are not dropping as fast as last week. And they are still incredibly high. Hospital admissions are not going down, but there are no beds. People go in faster than others are discharged. ICU is full, and expanded, and full again. 

It is so tempting to feel helpless in this situation, so easy to panic, so hard not to feel angry. To quote CS Lewis "I never knew grief felt so much like fear." 

We are not helpless. I am not going to talk to you about the rules you need to stick to. Honestly, the rules are so confusing and change so often, that I think only Adam Wagner understands them. But what we do have is a strategy. A set of basic principles that we can all understand. We can, and should, do more than the rules require, if we can. 

This is an airborne disease - wear a mask, in fact, wear two. Remember that anywhere inside puts you at risk. Work from home if you can; educate your kids from home if you can; ask for furlough if you need to; reduce your shopping trips for essentials; remember that when you order nonessentials online you put people in stockrooms and warehouses in contact with delivery workers, and people in sorting offices and post offices, and other delivery people, who also go to petrol stations. Open windows. Walk, cycle, get off the bus a stop or two early if you can. 

Stay 2 metres apart. Just, do.

Wash your hands. Wash the things you touched before you washed your hands - the doorknobs, loo flushes, light switches. And, whilst we are talking loos, close the lid before you flush. 

Get tested. Get the PCR test if you have symptoms or know you have been in contact with someone. Get the rapid testing regularly if you are a key worker or volunteer. 

Isolate. Ask for help if you need it, but please isolate. And I know that is easier said than done. 

Get the vaccine. Please get the vaccine. If you are worried about it, ask. If you have questions about it, ask. Ask me. Ask your GP. Turn up for vaccine appointment and ask the doctor there. A lot of people have worries about the vaccine - that is normal. A lot of rumours and stories go around about the vaccine. Stories are important, they bind us as communities, but being powerful does not make them true. 

Today, after the grief of yesterday, is Holocaust Memorial Day. The theme this year is "Be the light in the darkness". The darkness of distortion, hate and anger, the emotional darkness. We can be the light, we can make a path with kindness and calm. Because what we need to do is just what we have been doing, but more. 

Thank you to churches, temples mosques and synagogues who are already doing more by halting communal worship. We know your work continues, even though your buildings are shut. Thank you to all our key workers and volunteers for their courage. We see you and salute you. We know bravery was not necessarily in your job description. Thank you to everybody who makes every journey, every contact, every link in the chain, count. 

Be the light in the darkness and take care.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dr Resident of London Borough of Barnet and former trustee and now volunteer at Age UK Barnet.

Guest blogs are always welcome at the Barnet Eye.

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Coping with lockdown (or not)

One of the guys who works for me commented to me today that I seem to be the only person he knows who is dealing with lockdown and not cracking up. He'd told me he had 'writers block as he was obsessed with the horror of what is happening.  I gave him a pep talk about using the free time to write some new music and if he was having difficulty getting inspiration, to try and write something left field and out of his comfort zone. I've no idea if my words will help or have any positive effect. I said to him "Don't be in a position, in two years time, when you don't have the time then to do stuff that you could be doing now, and wished you had". Being creative is hard and cannot be forced, but sometimes you can reboot yourself artistically with a bit of reinvention. Bowie was the master of it.

One of the most pervasive aspects of this situation is that it seems to be sucking all of the life and postivity out of creative people. I have a confession, I went through a period when I was struggling. I've always had structure in my life, always worked towards goals. It is hard to have any goals at the moment. We've no holidays booked, no desire to book one. The only goal for the business is to survive until 'things pick up'. With my band, our singer is isolating, so rehearsals have almost become a self help group, jamming abstract ideas, to work out for a forthcoming album to follow the forthcoming album we were due to release in December, but have postponed indefinitely. We are having our first rehearsal of the year next week. We are also working on a track we are planning for release. The main purpose is actually to learn our new software in the recording studio. Today, the UK passes 100,000 deaths from Covid. That is a really awful number. I think it would be distateful to say too much about the reasons today. But if that doesn't make you feel slightly down, then maybe you need to take a look at yourself. 

But I am coping now. Whether I will be tomorrow, next week, next month, who knows? But I am coping. I've achieved this by making some sort of routine for myself. At the start of lockdown, I was drinking too much. This was mostly boredom. I am not a three bottle of scotch a day person, but I was having a few beers, sharing a bottle of wine over dinner and then maybe a nightcap. After a few weeks of this, I realised that this was not good for my health. I had a consultation about my Prostate cancer last May, which focussed my mind. I returned to my "not drinking for three days a week" rule. During the first lockdown, the weather was great, so we did lots of long dog walks and I did lots of sunbathing in the garden. The lack of traffic meant that the air was fresher, with less pollution from the M1. As it became clear that lockdown was lifting, we made plans for reopening the business. Risk assessments, improved ventilation and other measures. As we moved into August, things seemed good. Gradually the tide turned.

Now we find ourselves back where we were in March. It is frightening. What seems worse is that whilst we should be more positive, from a rational point of view, no one seems to be feeling anything other than bereft. There are three vaccines that seem to work. It should be the case that when we are open later in the year, the vaccines will mean we are in a much better place. But it seems to me that the mood music is negative. Listening to todays Boris briefing, I am worried that he is painting the wrong colours on the picture. I believe that his message should be more positive (perhaps not today, but generally) if he has the evidence that the vaccines work (which he certainly should have). We need to stick to the rules now, so we are around and healthy to appreciate the benefits of this later in the year. n the picture. I believe that his message should be more positive (perhaps not today, but generally) if he has the evidence that the vaccines work (which he certainly should have). My biggest fear is that Boris is not helping the nations mental health with his approach, both the rambling chaos and tardiness or the mixed messages from manic bohomie to dire predictions of doom. I do wonder whether he ever seeks counsel on what effect his words may have on someone who is struggling to keep afloat.  We don't even have our churches, mosques, temples and shuls for solace. The normal support networks are broken. Many are cut off from friends, family and work colleagues. I have 14 staff at the studio, I've not seen eight of them since March 2020. People I'd see every day. Some of my studio customers have seen me more than they've seen shielding parents this year. It is truly awful.

As to me, I have done various things to make myself feel better and more positive. Here are a few things (you know how I love lists).

1. I am not drinking during the week. That means I have something to look forward to and makes the weekends feel special.

2. I am writing some new music, this gives me a channel for my creative juices.

3. We have a family takeaway curry on a Friday. This gives me a degree of normality in my life and I look forward to it all week.

4. I play myself some Ska music every day. Ska always puts a smile on my face, we all need to smile.

5. I am building a portfolio of pictures from around Mill Hill, working out the best time of day and lighting patterns to get various pictures. When this is all over, I intend to get some prints made.

6.  On social media, I've done everything to purge negative influences, by blocking trolls and other people who I do not need in my life.

7. I've put down my pen, I was writing an auto biography, but I realised that I was dredging up extremely negative feelings about some episodes in my life. This is not the time to address these things. I should add, 90% of the book is fun and full of laughter. The trouble is there is a very dark 10%. I was getting fixated on this, it was not healthy and with nothing else to think about was destructive.

8. I am walking everywhere, unless it is not practical or possible. 

These things may not seem like much, but they have given me focus. In life we all fall. There is nothing wrong with falling, it is human. Picking yourself up is hard, especially when the future looks difficult. But picking ourself up is what we do. We get on with it. Hopefully we'll all live longer than a few months, if we do, at some time this period will look like a strange period in our lives a long time ago. Like the three day week in 1974, like the cold war, like the hurricane of '87. Like 9/11. I remember after 9/11 when I was working in central London, every time I heard a low flying plane I flinched. I stopped flinching a very long time ago

 As George Harrison said, all things must pass. This will.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

The Tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet - 24 Jan 2021

 Lockdown goes on. For many, the snow has provided some light relief to the monotony. There have been some great snow pics and some nice tweets elsewhere earlier in the week.  Here is our pick

1. We rather liked this one. Has Dr Who been transformed into an Ice Warrior? (One for the Tom Baker era fans!)

2. St Marys in Finchley looking good in the snow

3. This is an excellent picture

4. Our historical tweet of the week, recalling a disaster in Burnt Oak

5. A big thank you to all those key workers, for whom the snow was not a day of fun.

6. As ever, we can rely on Donald Lyven and Samuel Levy to give us some amazing pictures of our local wildlife. These two guys are amazing tweeters.

7. Another great tweeter is @Time_NW, with some great footage here of Minder at Brent Cross, back in the old days of analogue!

8. For many of us, this brings back great memories!

9. Congratulations to Elai, a star of the future! It is great to see such talented young musicians

10. Talking of great musicans, one of our faves! We predict great things for Natalie


That's all folks


Saturday, 23 January 2021

The Saturday List #293 - 10 great things about working in Mill Hill

I work in Mill Hill at Mill Hill Music Complex studios. I also live in Mill Hill. Working locally has many advantages, so  I thought I'd list 10 things that make this rather good for me. The site has changed a lot since we first started the studio. You might enjoy this album of pictures of Bunns Lane Works, where our studios are based, over the years


Bunns Lane works, Mill Hill, NW7

1. I can walk to work. This means my carbon footprint is very low. It also means that I keep fit.

2. I can nip home for lunch. I've not been doing this recently as we have most of our staff furloughed, so there is no cover, normally there are two of us. But in more normal times, I do enjoy lunch at home.

3. I can nip into Mill Hill Services club for a pint on the way home when I finish. I was actually having a pint in the club, watching the news when Boris announced the first lock down. If we've had a stressful day, it is nice to chill for half an hour chat to friends and have a pint before coming home.

4. I can pick up a takeaway on the way home from the Mill Hill Tandoori. I do this most weekends.

5. I get to see the amazing changes of the four seasons in Mill Hill Park on my walk to work. This is always a pleasure.

6. In better times, I am five minutes walk from Mill Hill Broadway Station and if I play my cards right, I can be having a pint with my friends who work in town in less than 30 minutes from leaving work.

7. When the burglar alarm goes off at the business (which it occasionally does), I can be around there with our two large dogs in two minutes.

8. When it snows or there are hurricanes and London grinds to a halt,  I am not stuck with no way to get home.

9. In normal times, it is great when friends pop in to say hi and have a cup of tea.

10. If ever I get struck with inspiration, I can stroll down to the studio and record my ideas. A great perk of having your own studio (Here's one I knocked up last year).


Friday, 22 January 2021

Football - Dean Smith should take a long, hard look at himself and apologise to the officials

 There are few aspects of the BT football commentary I prefer to Sky Sports, but one aspect that is a big improvement is having Peter Walton, a retired referee on the team. This means that when there is a controversial decision, he can give a referee perspective on the incident. It was interesting that during Wednesdays game, he incorrectly stated that VAR had made a mistake, not giving an offside decision against Rodri, in the build up to Bernado Silva's goal. Initially Walton stated that the ref and VAR had made a mistake. I can imagine that Villa fans up and down the country were livid, then five minutes later, Walton read the law and realised that it was him not VAR that got it wrong. Rodri's offside position had become negated when he controlled the ball, under the current version of the law. 

I can imagine how annoyed Villa fans were, especially having been initially mislead. But the Villa manager Dean Smith got himself sent off for being rude to the referee. After the match, he was still fuming. He's now received a one match ban. He feels hard done by. He shouldn't. He should have a long, hard look at himself. The ref and VAR got the decision correct, as interpreted by the laws of the game. It isn't the ref's job to make it up as he goes along. Refs are now highly paid professionals. They get paid to know and understand complex laws. Over the course of the season, with VAR, they make thousands of decisions. Last season, I  read somewhere that only seven had been technically incorrect. A manager has a right to feel aggrieved when this happens, but this rarely happens with VAR, so they should learn to behave.

As I stated, referees are highly paid now, but the likes of Dean Smith are paid far more. Football clubs are big business. It is Dean Smith's job to know the rules and to ensure that his coaching staff and players know the rules. He has clearly failed to do this. Smith claimed that only officials know the rules. His club pays specialist defensive coaches. Do they not read the rulebook, to explain to their players how rule changes affect them? If this really is the case, Smith is running a very slack regime. It is not park football.


 

As I watched Tyrone Mings try and control the ball, before being robbed by Rodri, I thought, as a former centre half "what is he doing?". You don't try and control the ball when you are last man with an opponent nearby. You get rid of it. On the City team, John Stones was rightly criticised last season for making 'Schoolboy errors'. These invariably included trying to be clever when the ball should have been punted into row Z. Dean Smith's team conceded because his centre half had not done the basics properly. 

I quite like Tyrone Mings, he has many of the attributes of a great centre half. He had a good game until that point. It does him no favours to try and blame the ref. Several pundits said that the rule is ridiculous. I tend to disagree. If a player has a ball under control, then it is a new phase of play. A defender should know if there is an attacker behind him. Having your pocket picked is one of the worst feelings as a defender. It is why you need to keep your wits about you. You always clear your lines as a first option. 

Villa have over achieved this season. They've had some very good results and should be pleased with the performance, if not the result. Playing against City, they were up against the technically best and most intelligent team in the league. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Rodri knew the law and knew that as soon as Mings controlled the ball it was there for the taking. You can be 100% sure that in the next PL game, all of the defenders and attackers will know that. I also couldn't really understand why Smith was complaining about the penalty. His defender had his arm well above his head. Under the modern definition, this is handball, end of story. 

When the likes of Dean Smith kicks off, it sets a poor example to young players, youth team managers and coaches. It legitimises ranting and raving when you are wrong. Smith said in response to his ban, when he'd had time to calm down "I will reluctantly accept it". That is appalling. He was 100% wrong, end of. He should man up. Whilst I could accept a 'heat of the moment' act in a tight game, his response to the ban shows that he is a very arrogant person, who simply can't accept that it is him, not the rest of the world that is wrong.

The Friday joke - Wasps 22 Jan 2021


 One of the best things about this time of year is the absence of wasps. If it wasn't so bloody cold, I'd be having a barbecue every night! I am a peaceful man, I try and respect all of Gods creatures, but wasps. Sorry, they are the one neighbour I just cannot love. We've been cleaning out the cupboards as a lockdown task and I noticed the wasp killer can was rusty and empty. As it is the one thing I always like to have a supply of,  I walked around to the pound shop in Mill Hill and picked up a can of fly spray 

I said  'Is this good for wasps?'

The shopkeeper replied 'No, it kills them'

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

The Wednesday Poem Special - The final day of Donald Trump

 I haven't published a Wednesday poem for a while. On this momentous day for the USA, I thought I'd mark it with a poem.


 

Donald Trump

It shouldn't concern me, but I've got to speak,

About the end of the era of Donald the Thick,

It's been quite 'interesting ', I've got to say,

To witness all the fun in the USA

President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

Why don't you move to Russia, do us all a favour?

But what will you say when you meet your maker?

What will the history books say about you 

The shame of your reign, you just can't undo

From  travel bans, to covid, from BLM to bust,

"grab them by the pussy" mate, you can't control your lust

I don't want to share my world with you

But your time has run out now, there's nothing you can do

President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

Maybe if there's Aliens they'll do us all a favour?

Take you on a one way trip, to the planets around Vega,

What will the history books say about you

The shame of your reign you just can't undo.


Copyright 2021 Roger Tichborne.

I guess it's hard not to have an opinion about Donald Trump. For me, the defining moment of Trump was when he slagged off members of the armed forces who got taken POW. This from a a draft dodger. My father was a former RAF pilot, shot down on the 38th and final mission of his tour of duty in 1944, taken prisoner in Rumania and held as a POW in a camp in Bucharest.  I can forgive most things, but when a man slags off the bravery of people like my Father who risked their lives to serve in the armed forces, there can be no way back. Whatever you may think of the armed forces, if a member has been captured, by definition, they have put themself at risk for your country.  I will have no truck with someone like Trump who disrespects this.

The bottom line is that Trump is a loser. 400,000 Americans died of Covid on his watch of covid. America's standing in the world has suffured immeasurable damage. I love the USA, my sister is a citizen and it is one of my favourite places. We owe them a debt for their support in two World Wars. They have supplied much of the technological innovation that makes the modern world such a good place to be. They deserve a President who can match the proud history of the country. Trump is not and never has been a man fit to follow the footsteps of Lincoln, Roosevelt, etc. 

In 50 years time I am convinced that those of us still around will look back on this as a very strange time.

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Rog T's Cancer Blog - The midnight Wee Wee dilemma


Just a quick note before I start, for those of you who know the story, or are not interested in the background, read on. If you want the context of this before you start, scroll to the bottom and read the bit in bold. 

These days, finding inspiration for blogs is not always easy, but sometimes you see something that makes you chuckle, then makes you think. This blog is one such example, as I was inspired by a tweet from one of my favourite tweeters.



I was surprised when I saw this. I didn't realise females had this issue, just goes to show how much I know! This picture got me thinking about the whole issue of 'getting up for a wee'. I have really no idea what is a normal pattern, despite being asked many times "are your patterns normal". I 've also no idea what is something we should worry about. I've never actually been asked to detail my getting up in the night pattern and I've no idea if it's actually relevant, so Ithought I'd share it and see if any of you had any ideas.

For those of us whe are male and suffering with one of the myriad of issues that are lumped together as "Prostate Problems", this is a daily dilemma. Although I have never suffered from any of the more serious symptoms of Prostate cancer, I have long needed a wee more than the next man! I've never been 100% sure if this is down to overconsumption of tea/beer/wine, especially at night. My mum would be turning in her grave, as she felt it impolite to discuss going for a wee, but I happen to think that sharing information on matters medical is a good way to help us live longer/healthier. 

When it comes to visiting the bathroom, I've noticed that Green Tea, which is meant to be good at slowing the advance of prostate cancer, is a nightmare for me. It literally goes straight through me. I have always assumed that this was a good thing, but I now never drink Green tea after 6pm, when I am going somewhere without a loo, or going on a long journey. For my nightly slumers, if I only have a glass of water by about 9pm, I might get through the night with one wee or even no getting up. If I drink tea, I'll get up at around 1am and again at around 4-5pm. If I have several pints of beer, it may even be four times. A glass of wine, will often spare me getting up, but a couple of bottles, I am not sure as I can't remember!

One of the most annoying things though is when you wake up sort of needing to go (as per Claires picture above). It's cold and you don't feel like going to the loo, so you lie there and realise that if you don't go, you won't sleep. So you stagger up, have your wee, then stagger back to bed. Only when you lie down, you realise that you were so keen to get back to bed, you hadn't emptied your bladder properly. You are back where you started. I have developed a strategy to avoid this. When I finish, I count to ten and then see if I need to do a bit more. Although this means that I don't get back to bed as quickly as I'd like, it also means that I don't get the dreaded double visit scenario and get back to sleep sooner.

Am I the only person who believes that overnight we get rid of far more fluid than we took in during the day. The number of times I've just had a cup of tea in the evening and had to get up two or three times, removing what seems like six litres of fluid? Does your body save it all up from the night before to teach you a lesson. I've been tempted to actually measure the amount, but I suspect if I used the measuring jug we make gravy in, my wife would conclude I am a weirdo and divorce me. This is nothing more than curiosity, but I am convinced that what goes out is never the same as what goes in. I did an A level in biology, but they never teach you useful things like this. 

One of the pieces of advice that we get when we are diagnosed with cancer is to "look out for changes". In truth, I have no idea whether any of this has got worse. I have noticed that I find it hard to make the journey from the City back to Mill Hill on the train without going to the loo, far more than I used to, if I've drunk a lot of beer. It is a godsend that the new Thameslink trains have multiple loos. The older rolling stock was far less well supplied and the toilets were far more often out of service. It was not unknown for me to get off en route, find a pub, use the loo and have another pint! Another key factor is the ambient temperature outside. When it is cold, it seems that you are far more likely to need the loo. I've never really understood this, as you'd think the body would seek to retain warmth rather than remove it more efficiently.

I don't feel that there's been any rapid change. I actually always had to nip to the loo quite frequently. I can remember hearing a radio program on prostate cancer when I was about 30, convincing myself that I had it as I used the loo far more often than recommended. I went to see the docter who told me not to be so ridiculous and try drinking less beer. Ironically, when I was diagnosed aged 49, I was quite surprised.

So anyway, I guess what I've been trying to say, ina very roundabout way, if you have noticed an sort of change in your patterns, go and see a Doctor and get it checked out. The earlier they catch these issues, the more options you have. None are necessarily pleasant if you have got Prostate cancer, but if you are caught early, as I was, you can have treatments that have less unwanted side effects. Had I not been diagnosed in 2011, I'd not have realised it was turning nasty in 2015 and right now I would be in nowhere near as good a place.

----
For those of you who are regular readers and have read the previous posts on Cancer, there's what this is all about. I write this blog because knowledge is power and if you know what you are dealing with, you have more weapons in the locker to fight it. It is a personal view, I'm not medically qualified. This is for the sole purpose of information for those who are interested.This is the latest installment in my occasional series about how I'm adjusting to living with a big C in my life.  For those of you who aren't, here's a quick summary. I'm 54years old and in October 2011 I  had a prostate biopsy following two "slightly high" PSA tests - 2.8 & 4.1. The biopsy took ten tissue samples and one of these showed a "low grade cancer" which gave me a 3+3 on the Gleason scale. I was put on a program of active monitoring.  In early February, I got the results of the a PSA test - down to 3.5 and an MRI scan which found absolutely nothing, two more tests in 2012 were at 3.5 and 3.9, in 2013 my test was 4.0, Jan 2014 was 3.8, August 2014 was 4.0,  February 2015 it was  up to 5.5  and my latest in August 2015 was down again at 4.6. In October 2015 I had a transperinial Prostate biopsy, that revealed higher grade cancer and my Gleason score was raised to 3+4 (Small mass + more aggressive cancer). On 22nd Jan 2016 I had HIFU (Hi Intensity Focused Ultrasound) treatment at UCHL). My post procedure PSA in May was 4.0 which was down, followed by 3.7 in August, and 3.5 in October  which means that the direction is positive . However in January the follow up MRI revealed "something unusual which requires investigation" After a follow up biopsy, it appeared this was nothing to worry about. My two most recent PSA tests were Ok (3.7 and 4.6) and an MRI scan in March was very positive. A  PSA in October 2019 was 4.6, so stable and good news, the last in May 2020 was 5.45 a small rise, so worrying, however after a review against the most recent MRI, it was decided that this was fine.

  I've no symptoms apart from needing to wee quite regularly and sadly for a few people, if I'm gonna die soon, it won't be from Prostate cancer. Got the picture?

Monday, 18 January 2021

Tessie Fanning RIP

Last week we saw the passing of my cousin Tessie Fanning. Tessie sadly succumbed to covid in the Royal Free.  After her passing we held an on line wake. I didn't really know too much of the story of Tessie's early years. Tessie was born with Downs syndrome a few months after my parents had me. She was the ninth of my mothers brother Jimmy and his wife Josie's children. Almost immediately the doctors identified that there was something different about Tessie and by the time Jimmy arrived a Downs diagnosis had been arrived at.  

One of her elder brothers told how initially my Uncle Jimmy was so upset that he couldn't even look at Tessie, not able to deal with the news. The story goes that he was sent to check on her by Aunty Josie. When he entered the room, she gave him the biggest smile and his heart melted. After that he had a special bond with Tessie. I've got to confess that when we were kids, I didn't really know what to make of Tessie. I was more interested in playing football with her brother Greg who was a year older than me and who was at my school. In truth, I felt a bit jealous of Tessie when I was very small. She was allowed to get away with being naughty. At Church she would invade the alter to say hello to the priest. She would shout out to her brothers when they were alter servers. My Mum and Dad would, rather patronisingly, say "Oh Tessie is the happiest of the lot of us". In some ways it was true. When Tessie was born there were few serious efforts to integrate Downs children into mainstream education or even give them any sort of education. It was suggested to Jimmy and Josie that 'she'd be happier in a home' when she was born. As they had nine children already, I can only salute them for not giving in to the pressure. 

Everything Tessie did was 'special'. She went to a 'Special school'. She had 'special' friends. I got a better insight into what Tessie was about when I was nine, I went to Lourdes with my Dad for a holiday, as we did every year. He made friends with a couple who had an adult son with Downs syndrome. I was confused. I was told that he was 25 but had a mental age of seven (a concept I couldn't get my head around). I was told to play with him and keep him amused. His name was Stephen and he was a really good laugh. He liked football and collected various sorts of cards such as football and car cards that were popular at the time. I was told he was 'quite high achieving' for a Downs person, a concept I didn't get at all. He could walk around, make decisions, knew what he wanted and was 'well behaved'. As we approached bars, that was always the question 'Is he well behaved?'. He was and we had a great time. I couldn't get my head around the fact that he was both and adult and younger than me. After we got back I discussed this with my Dad. He told me that because Tessie was more naughty, it was harder for her parents to take her to such places. I realised that just because someone had Downs syndrome, they were just as individual as anyone else. It was an important lesson. I think Stephen helped me appreciate that Tessie was just different and different isn't such a bad thing, is it?

Tessie was always at family events. When she became a teenager, she learned a very important talent. She learned to swear. If someone annoyed her she'd tell them to F... Off in no uncertain terms. As was the way for our family back then, I'd spend time hanging around at Gregs house and he'd spend time at mine. We'd play board games at his place. If Tessie was around she played, we'd play things like Snakes and Ladders, which were games of chance and Tessie loved them. We'd often cheat so she'd win, which she'd get most excited about. If she lost, she'd accuse the winner of cheating. Greg would mercilessly wind her up, referring to her as Albert, which she hated, but she'd give as good as she got. 

As Jimmy and Josie got older, it became clear that she'd need to move to a more suitable environment. She was housed at a hostel with other Downs adults. Tessie had her own mind. Some of the staff loved her and some thought she was a troublemaker. She lead a full life, attending all manner of classes and events. She represented Barnet at The Special Olympics in Sheffield. She liked being around people and the hostel meant she had friends. She was actively involved in many of the events that Barnet hosted for people with special needs. A couple of times I'd turn up at the Town Hall and bump into Tessie who was part of a delegation meeting some visiting dignitary. 

When Jimmy and Josie passed away,  Tessie was lucky to have nine brothers and sisters to care for her. They made sure she attended all family events and was made a fuss of. They also kept an eye on her care. One of Tessie's brothers, Jim Junior was a Catholic Priest. Jim was a great friend of mine and a guest blogger here. As regular readers of this blog will know, I got involved with a charity called HCPT at the turn of the Century. The organisation takes people with need of assistance to Lourdes in France staying at a purpose built hostel in Bartres. When my mum had a stroke in 2001, I would take her every year. This gave my family the chance to get repairs and maintenance done to her flat, without disturbing her. She loved going and I loved spending time with her. When my Mum died in 2008, Jim junior suggested that I take Tessie instead. I was delighted at the idea. Tessie was a good laugh and I knew she'd enjoy the break from the routine. I'd only really seen Tessie at family events since she'd moved from the family house and I thought it would be good to catch up.

What I found was the Tessie was as much of a handful as ever. She knew what she wanted and what she didn't want.  When we picked her up, she told me that I was her favourite cousin. She told everyone something similar. But we bonded. She'd throw a strop if I didn't sit at her table at dinner, push her wheel chair or get her a cup of tea. Often she'd be throwing a strop and I'd just walk up and say "Tessie let's have a cup of tea and a biscuit" and she'd smile and say "alright". 

 Her party piece was singing "A bicycle made for two". Sometimes I'd tease her and get told to "F... off", but two minutes later she'd be smiling again.

  SDC10793 


We took Tessie up to Gavarnie, which is near the Spanish border. There were horses for hire. Tessie said that she'd like to ride one. Everyone was terrified, but I figured that if she wanted to, we'd make it happen. She wasn't small and getting her on the horse was a challenge, but we did it. She absolutely loved it. I took pictures on my iPad and Tessie would tell everyone 'Thats me on a horse' showing them the picture. Most days we'd nip to the bar. If I wasn't on driving duties I'd have a beer. Tessie would have an Orangina or a hot chocolate depending on her mood. She'd tease me that I was drunk, especially after I once drank a Formidable, which is a litre glass of beer. For two days she'd go around saying "my cousin is DRUNK", which gave everyone  a good laugh. I only shut her up by telling her that if I was drunk, I couldn't push her wheelchair and one of the ladies would have to (Tessie didn't like ladies pushing the chair).

Tessie had a great time and it was agreed that next time she came, her eldest sister Rita would accompany her as well. I didn't really know Rita properly. By the time I was a teenager, she had left home and has grown up children. I assumed that with Rita around, Tessie would be a bit less naughty, but she was quite happy to give Rita the run around. But we all had a fantastic time. 

My fondest memory of Tessie was closer to home. She lived in Friern Barnet and back in 2012, we had a massive campaign to Save Friern Barnet Library. On the 14th December, there was a party to celebrate the official success of the campaign. Occupy had taken over the library and my band, The False Dots headlined the party celebrating the end of the Occupation. I asked Tessie to come down with her younger sister Joanna. A friend video'd the hastily arranged set that the band played. You can see Tessie boogieing into the night. As this line up of the band hadn't played together before and had a single rehearsal, it wasn't the most together set, but it was a great night and that didn't matter. It was great to see Tessie having a ball. We made a fuss of her. Everyone knew her.


Tessie would come away with us every year, until the early onset of dementia made this impossible. What was tragic for me was that as covid brought the curtain down, I couldn't get around to see her. Last week, we learned that she had Covid. It really was only a matter of time. She passed away last Thursday. 

We had a hastily arranged Zoom wake in the evening and exchanged all manner of memories. I owe Tessie a lot. Whatever she was or wasn't, she taught me what humanity really is. Her brother Jim told me story that really put it in perspective. After her Mum died (her Dad had died a few years before), the family had to meet to decide what to do with the Estate. Jim said there had been a debate as to whether it would be appropriate for Tessie to attend, as it was to discuss finances and other arrangements. As is the way with our Irish gene's, Fannings have strong opinions and feisty natures and there were several disagreements about details. Jim said that as people started to get hot under the collar, Tessie suddenly announced "STOP IT MUM WOULDN'T LIKE YOU ARGUING". Everyone instantly realised that Tessie had spoken a truth that had escaped the rest of them. That was Tessie, she took no bullshit and despite whatever constraints she had, she ensured she said her piece. I will miss her.  When the tears have dried, I will always remember Tessie being there for the best of times. Dancing to the Dots, smiling and being mischievous. 

Tessie Fanning RIP

Why Barnet needs its bloggers


It is the 18th of Jan. I happened to notice that two of the other three Barnet bloggers of note have not posted a blog this year. It is not my job to criticise them and that is not the intention of this blog, but it did raise a mild feeling of alarm that maybe the Barnet blogosphere has run out of steam. Personally I've deliberately avoided writing too much about Barnet Council during the crisis. Usually my efforts are squarely aimed at getting people to make their views known to the council, but I have felt the council has bigger fish to fry right now. In the middle of a pandemic, they need to be focussed on public health. I am not an expert on the matter, but recently I have become concerned with some aspects of what Barnet are doing.

The health, safety and wellbeing of employees of Barnet Council, those in its care (such as people with special needs, the elderly and the vulnerable) and the residents and visitors to the Borough should be the primary concern. There are several observations that I feel compelled to make, as a local blogger who has a large local readership.

1. The safety of employees working in schools and nurseries. There is strong evidence that transmission in these environments locally fuelled the rise in cases in November and December. I have heard horror stories from people I know who work in the sector. As soon as it became clear that there was a risk to staff locally, these establishments should have been closed. 

2. Local parks have become extremely busy. Whilst people are outside, it is clear to me that people locally were not following the "exercise with one other person" rule. Social distancing of 2m was also not being observed. The parks are operated by the council. I noticed that the car parks next to the park were full yesterday. It is pretty clear that people were driving to the park to meet and chat to friends. Whilst I am not a killjoy, there is a pandemic. It seems to me that the sensible thing for Barnet Council to do would be to close the car parks. That would allow local people to use the facilities, but act as a deterrent to people who use the parks to socialise rather than exercise.

3. Barnet Unison have been lobying the council to get parking enforcement services suspended during lockdown. Whilst I am normally supportive of the initiatives of the local Unison branch, on this occasion I cannot agree with their policy. I have a local high street at the bottom of my road (Mill Hill Broadway). I am sorry to say that local residents park dangerously, selfishly and irresponsibly on a regular basis. Perfectly able bodies people park in disabled bays all the time. Double yellow lines are also parked on, causing blockages and making crossing the road dangerous, especially for small children who cannot see over the cars. If enforcement was suspended, my view is that this would increase this selfish behaviour, putting more people at risk and reducing further spaces for disabled shoppers.

4. My cousin, who was in the care of Barnet council, died of Covid 19 related illness last week. I was under the impression that the address she lived at should be covid secure. It clearly wasn't. This tells me that Barnet Council has not done a proper risk assessment and is not enforcing covid protocols properly in care establishments. 


With the demise of local press, there is no one else to raise these concerns apart from local bloggers. I am not criticising people who have spent the last ten years or so working hard to raise these issues. I know just how draining and exhausting this is. What I am saying is that we need a new generation. We need to pass on the battern and we need new people with the energy to start doing the job. Barnet will need it's bloggers more than ever as the austerity which will follow Covid hits. Believe me, the credit crunch will seem like a luxury holiday compared to what is coming down the line. If you can write a few coherent sentences, you too can become a blogger, no experience necessary. We need you!



Sunday, 17 January 2021

The tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet - 16 Jan 2021

 We may be in lockdown, but there are some very interesting tweets out there from our amazing army of local tweeters.

1. Lets start with an interesting question about a manufacturer of musical instruments in Burnt Oak. Can you help them?

2. We completely agree with Maya Oppenheim. Luckily we don't have to pop on the Northern Line and we can still get deliveries locally!


3. Want to know what the new Brent Cross Town will look like?


4. Fancy some whitewater rafting in Mill Hill? A great picture. Did you know Hank Marvin used to live in Wise Lane?


5. Thanks to Nik Hunt and Ian McGreevy for enlightening us about the former uses of the Jesus House site at Staples Corner


6. Thanks to @Time_NW for telling the story of Romac and the sad decline of the building in Hendon


7. Great to hear a local doing great things


8. There have been some great pictures of winter scenes locally


9. We agree with Donald. Please sign this petition. No bees no life.


10. We have some amazing local artists. Here is one of the very best

That's all folks.

Saturday, 16 January 2021

The Saturday List #292 - Ten cultural moments that redefined the UK

 I have a confession to make. I meant to publish this list last week, but I bumped it back a week because I wanted to tie in my nasty people list with The Serpent, while it was still fresh in the mind. Todays list is what I consider to be the moments that changed the UK from a prim and proper society, where curtains twitched and Vicars having affairs was front page news into what it is today - irreverent, open, tolerant and inclusive. 

I am sure that the likes of Peter Hitchens will find this list abhorrent, for me it is what has defined us. 


1. 1967 - Mick Jagger being interviewed by William Rees-Mogg for World in Action. This was the moment when the old norms started to crumble. Jagger had been jailed for drug offences. William Rees-Mogg was the influential editor of the Times. He saw the injustice. The program had a massive impact. It was a clear signal that the old order was coming to an end.



2. 1972 - Bowie and Mick Ronson on TOTP. Bowie puts his arm around Ronson. Ten million parents recoiled in disgust. Ten million teenagers decided that Bowie was the coolest man on the planet. This moment was the moment when being flamboyant and having suggestions of same sex attraction went mainstream. Without this we would not have the high camp of Strictly. 



3. 1975  - The Naked Civil Servant. John Hurt's portrayal of Quentin Crisp. To the best of my knowledge, the first sympathetic portrayal of an openly gay man. My parents were fascinated and insisted we watch it. In truth, at the time I felt uncomfortable. It turned out that all my friends families also watched it. As you can imagine, being at an Irish Catholic school in 1975, this was not with sympathy, but my parents instilled in me that you had to understand what an interesting story it was and that there was a lot of unfair discrimination. Years later I discussed it with my Dad. He simply said that during the war, he'd learned that you judged people by how good they were at their job, not what they did in their bedroom or where they came from. I wish I'd asked more.



4. 1976 - The Sex Pistols on Today with  Bill Grundy. I can remember watching this. I was still at FCHS at the time. I'd never seen anything like it before. It was like me and my mates from class 4B had been given a slot on Prime Time telly and been given carte blanche to misbehave. I knew nothing about The Pistols at the time. I wasn't interested in music, but this was hilarious. It was absolutely shocking to hear swearing on prime time telly. My mum didn't like Bill Grundy and she was shocked by Grundy asking to see Souixsie after the show. She thought Steve Jones was quite right to call Grundy a dirty old man, although disapproving of the language. It made a whole generation realise that the likes of Grundy did not deserve the respect show. It was the moment that Punk introduced itself to the world. Until then it had been a very niche movement. We wouldn't have Gordon Ramsey F'ing and blinding on TV if it wasn't for this


5. 1977 - Roots. The story of how Alex Hayley uncovered the horror of his ancestors mistreatment as Slaves. This was the first time I could recall seeing a program exposing the rotten underbelly of the USA. Everyone talked about it and many, for the first time, realised that African Americans had been victims of huge injustice


6. 1982 - Culture club on TOTP - Do you really want to hurt me.  When Boy George appeared there was widespread confusion. Was he a boy or a girl? He put the issue of gender politics in the national gaze. It seems incredible to recall the outrage of some at the time. George and the gang weren't too bothered. The single was a global smash hit. A whole gang of copyists sprung up, most of whom couldn't sing. That was George's USP. But after that, it would never be shocking to see someone with a non defined gender identity on TV



7. 1987 - Michael Fish announces that "there will be no hurricane". We all know what came next. This was the moment when many of us realised that maybe the BBC wasn't quite as trustworthy as we thought. If a national treasure such as Michael Fish could get it so wrong, then what could we believe.


8 1997 - Tony Blair announces Princess Diana's death. Blair had only recently been elected. He looks so young and his voice seemed rather posher than I remember. This was the first time a PM had really hammed it up for the cameras. This was the moment that politics went populist in the UK.


9. 2002 - Pop Idol. This was the moment that the music industry changed forever. As a studio owner, I was unprepared for the Tsunami that this unleashed. Pre Pop Idol, people joined bands, rehearsed, got gigs, did recordings, looked for deals. All of a sudden the way to stardom was simply to get on a TV Talent show. It normalised singers singing to backing tracks. It set loose a whole generation of singers that hadn't done the hard graft on the circuit. The sea change away from bands started here. With streaming and downloads, the old way of doing it with expensively recorded albums and careers built over a period of years ended.


10. 2016 - The Death of Bowie. I think that for many of us, this was the moment we truly grew up. Peter Pan had passed. To be quite honest, it's all been rather grim since then. Sadly his last release was Lazarus, but Bowie was not raised.



Have a great weekend!

Friday, 15 January 2021

Time for Boris to publish a roadmap out of lockdown and restrictions

 We are now half way through January. We've been in lockdown for ten days. The weather has been miserable, we are cut of from friends and family. I ssupport these restrictions and believe we are where we are because the government has repeatedly been too slow off the mark. But now we have a way out. Two million people have been vaccinated and the rates of infection (in London) are starting to fall. We are not out of the woods as the number of people being hospitalised is still rising and the number of daily deaths is appalling. Given that we've been in this situation for almost a year and all of the finest brains in the nation are focussed on the crisis, it is time we saw some proper leadership from Boris.

What we need is a clear plan to leave this cycle of lockdowns, restrictions and pain behind us. I am not asking for  a timetable. It would be foolish in the extreme to publish this at the moment, but there is every reason to publish a roadmap. I believe that this will encourage people to comply and to get vaccinated.

There are several questions I have. The first is whether we need restrictions once everyone who is vulnerable has been vaccinated (or has had the chance to be vaccinated as some will simply refuse). Given that the mortality rate for covid is 1-2% and 99% of these are people who can be identified as vulnerable, with 2 million people vaccinated, we must be nearing the point where we can say they are safe. Getting the most vulnerable vaccinated is a key milestone. Boris needs to say exactly what his criteria for achieiving this is.

It is also clear that the biggest risk now is further mutations, especially ones that make the virus vaccine resistant. Boris needs to say what the rate of infection in the community has to be where we can see a loosening of restrictions. 

The third aspect is hospitals. These are currently overloaded, we need Boris to say what constitutes the NHS not being overstretched is defined as. As far as I can see, when the vulnerable are vaccinated, the rate has dropped and hospitals are not overstretched, then there is no reason to be in lockdown. Normal life can start to resume, albiet with sensible precautions.

Whether my criteria are correct or incorrect, Boris should know what the criteria are. He should give us the roadmap and tell us that the more strictly we adhere to the current lockdown, the sooner he criteria will be met. This would encourage us all to do what we  should be doing. If we could see the light at the end of the tunnel, I believe we would act like adults and do what we need to do. 

It is time for Boris to do what he should of done all along. Work out how we move on from this mess and tell us his plan.