Saturday 31 December 2022

The Saturday List #390 - Ten wrong assuptions people make about me

 It used to really annoy me when people made incorrect assumptions about me. I used to feel slihgted when people made assumptions that were wrong. I thought it is high time that I put a few to bed.

1. That I am intelligent. I am not thick, but I'm not particularly intelligent either. At school I had learnung difficulties and until the age of 11 had 'remedial reading lessons'.  I didn't read a book until I was 12. I couldn't do long divisions. I couldn't spell or understand the rules of grammar (I still can't). When I was 33 I was diagnosed as dyslexic and many things made sense. For me, intelligence is the ability to assimilate information quickly and make sound decisions based on that information. I assimilate information slowly, which is why I was very poor at exams as a child. Once it is assimilated, I think I make sound decisions, but people I consider intelligent get there far quicker and are on to the next problem.

2. That I am lazy. I was always being told I was lazy at school. This was completely wrong. I simply couldn't process the information and was easily distracted. What I learned in my teens is that if I work three times as hard as more intelligent people, I can compete with them. If I did my homework on an issuem I could outperform them. This didn't really work at school as I never had enough time, but in work and blogging, I would take my time and get my head around issues. I was often shocked by the fact that more intelligent people don't do their homework, try and blag things and fall on their face. If you do your homework you don't. 

3. That I like Jazz. I don't hate Jazz, but I have no more than a passing interest. Many people irritate me by referring to the Mill Hill Music Festival as "The Local Jazz Festival". It is not and never has been. The festival encompasses a wide range of genres, of which Jazz is just one and one that I don't choose the bands for. Any Jazz that I do enjoy is easy to listen to and more verging on R&B, Funk or Soul.

4. That I am English. My Dad was Australian, my Mum was of Irish & very mixed stock. I never have felt English, although I pass the Tebbit test and cheer for England in Football and Cricket. I feel like a Londoner if anything. I aways tick the White English box, but don't feel I am being 100% honest. My Irish grandfather always said he was simply a citizen of the world. I wouldn't feel 100% comfortable saying I'm anything except London.

5. That I 'know about computers'. I worked as a Freelance IT consultant for many a year, but it was on massive commercial mainframe systems. I know next to nothing about PC's and ow they work and have no interest in them. I leave that to the youngsters. I started in 1983 when no such thing existed and soon realised I'd make more money working on the old crap no one wanted to touch with a barge pole, but was the core of Blue Chip companies business.

6. That I'm a drunkard.  I can forgive anyone who has spent a raucous night in the pub or at a gig with me. On such nights, I do drink more than I should. But I never drink on my own, I have 3-4 nights a week off alcohol completely and often will only have a glass with dinner. From 1995-2004, I was on call 24 x 7 x 365 as an IT support person for Streamline (the credit card company), as we were investing heavily in the studio and it paid the mortgage, and I simply couldn't be bladdered as the pager was going off regularly in the middle of the night. 

7. That I received a large inheritance.  When my Mum died, she left all of her money to charity. The week after she passed away, the then council leader, now Mike Freer MP, made a jibe in a newspaper about "Armchair critics who get fat on family inheritences", clearly aimed at me, when I was grieving. Although I am thick skinned, I was absolutely lived.  When my Dad died in 1987, my mum was keen to sell the family property business as se didn't want the hassle. With my eldest brother and sister, we persuaded her to retain the business and took over much of the running of it, with her stepping away from most of the day to day aspects. Withing three years, we trebled the turnover. She stepped away from it completely in 2003, divesting all interest to a family trust. The business is still run by the family and yes I benefit, but I am effectively a 1/6th shareholder as I've 5 brothers and sisters. We have kept the family legacy going and massively improved it. I am proud of that. 

8. That I lead a wild life. I've been married for 27 years. My missus is a sensible grown up. We rarely have a cross word and our no 1 priority is our children, family and dogs.

9. That I'm argumentative. Nothing could be further from the truth. If people are spouting rubbish, unless it will cause problems (or I don't like them), I'll let it go. If people start having a go on Twitter, I simply block them. I can't be bothered to argue. However if people are saying things that will cause other people real life problems, are bullies, racists or any other of the myriad of ther obnoxion's that frequent social media, and they are acting in a way that hurts people (as opposed to spouting in an eco chamber), I will have a pop.

10. That they can wind me up. When people have a go at you, out of the blue, for no reason, their starting point is always their own insecurities. If they are people that I am, shall we say, keeping an eye on, I may well engage as you can very work out all of their weaknesses and insecurities, which can be stored up for a later date, when I might actually need it. Generally, I just block as it is far easier. When Mike Freer made the jibe about my mum passing, it hurt because I knew I was vulnerable and he was taking advantage of the situation, which infuriated me. All he succeeded in doing was making very sure that I would be a constant critic, as I believe he is unfit for public office. Anyone who I've blocked, I simply have concluded that they are simply not worth a millisecond of effort on. Occasionally I change my mind. There is one local who massively irriated me, with his extremely patronising tone towards me on Twitter, but having blocked and after a period of reflection, I concluded that just because he talks to me like the village idiot, his output is still worth the effort. I also realised that this is because he is on the spectrum and genuinely believes I am an idiot, which intellectually and if we discount musical knowledge, I probably am compared to him. 

Oh and I really don't mind people criticising my music. I always work on the basis that if I like it and a few other people do, then it is successful. Even the Ramones, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, The Dickies, The Specials and Dr John had their critics. Music is wonderful because it is diverse and we don't all like the same thing.

Friday 30 December 2022

How did I do with my predictions for 2022!

So as the year of 2022 dies, and we await the birth of 2023, one of the last tasks of the year is to review my predictions, made on 1st January and give myself a mark out of 10 for my Mystic Meg capabilities. 

I have taken my predictions made on 1st January and assessed ow accurate they are. Some of them are quite spookily accurate and some are hilariously wide of the mark.

My assessment of the predictions is in Red Italics


We have new Brexit restrictions on trade coming in from today. The month will see headlines as the country adjusts and we see the full reality of the decision we made in the referendum. The headlines will not be kind to the Brexiteers. As to the other big news story, the pandemic. January will be a bumpy month, but Boris is set on the path of keeping Britain open. We will see the full impact of this, as trains are cancelled and shops shut as workers self isolate. We will see huge disagreements emerge between scientists and the government. By the end of the month, the wave will largely have blown through. Boris will claim that whatever path he chose was a success for him. None of us will believe him. We will see heavy snow falls around the 22nd of the month and London will grind to a halt. The headlines will be full of the beast from the East. The snow, Brexit and the pandemic will conspire to see shortages. 

So, I was right about Boris keeping Britain open. Trains were cancelled, shops were shut, although not on the scale I predicted. Brexit has seen all manner of strange shortages through the year, sardines being a notable one. I got the weather wrong though 7/10


The weather will be cold, the shelves will be sparsely stocked, but the mood will start to improve as the month carries on. We will see the politicing starting for the local elections. Boris will be a key target of the opposition parties. The Tories will be pushing the line that they've done the best of a bad job. In the wider world, we'll see more bad headlines for Joe Biden in the States. Vladimir Putin will be pushing his buttons in Ukraine and we'll see a very dangerous situation emerge.

This really was, sadly prophetic. Little did I realise that Putin would launch an invasion. The opposition parties started to ramp up pressure,aided by ever more scandals 9/10


The pandemic headlines will have receded. The effects of Brexit will be a bigger story. All eyes will be on the situation in the Ukraine. We will have a harsh budget as the Chancellor seeks to repair the damage to the nations finances of pandemic. Interest rates will rise as shortages feed through to inflation.

Again this was spot on. All eyes were on Ukraine. We did start to see a massive surge in inflation. 9/10


As the football season moves towards its crescendo, fans start to realise that there will be now world cup in the summer and the move to December will mean a very different season next year. With the new financial year, the effects of the tax increases, higher interest payments and higher energy prices driven by the situation in the Ukraine start to hit home. It becomes ever more clear that Boris Johnson is not a leader for such troubled times.

Again spot on. 9/10


The Council elections deliver a huge blow to Boris Johnson. The Tories lose thousands of seats in all sorts of weird and wonderful places. It becomes clear that his MP's have lost confidence and a challenger throws down the guantlet. In a mean spirit and fractuous battle. Rishi sunak faces off against Liz Truss for the final round

This was quite accurate, apart from the timing. I hadn't realised that the Tories would take so long to screw up the pleadership election. Only the month was wrong 8/10


We have a new Prime Minister. Liz Truss takes over, her first act is to demote the chancellor to the back benches, blaming him for the tax rises that cost the Tories the local elections. A round of musical chairs finishes that sees Sajid Javid back at the treasury. Boris announces that he's going to write a new book on how marvellous he is.

Once again, this was not too far of the mark, apart from the timing. If  Liz Truss had listened and put Sajid Javed in the Treasury, maybe she'd still be there. He is at least a sensible grown up.  7/10


It's summer. With no world cup, everyone can concentrate on how bad England are in the Cricket. A new covid variant is announced. It appears that this one evades the vaccine and is even more catchable than Omicron. Liz Truss announces that there will be no restrictions at this time

Thankfully, there was no major new wave that was worse than Omicron. These predictions were rubbish in that the T20 World cup wasn't even this month and England won! 1/10


A heatwave hits London. Rails buckle and hosepipe bans are introduced. Liz Truss announces that there's no reason at this time to start worrying about the new variant, so long as we all have a booster. A hectic football programme is started, amongst much whinging from players and managers. The season is compressed due to the world cup. 

After a lousy month in July, I was back in tip top form in August, the only ting I got wrong was that we still were waiting for Liz to take charge 9/10


A mass booster programme is introduced. Truss tells us that if we don't have it and we get locked down it's all our fault. As we see higher numbers of injuries than ever, as semi fit players are playing every three days, the world of football erupts about the stupidity of a winter world cup. 

We started a new booster programme and there were mumblings about the world cup. 7/10


The first By Election since Liz Truss took over happens in a safe Tory seat. The Lib Dems overturn a 20,000 majority and Tories start to wonder if they really made the right decision.

There was no by election in October. There was no Liz Truss in number 10 by the middle of the month. I suppose I was right that the Tories were wondering if they made the right decision! 4/10


The World Cup starts. England do well in the group stages. Phil Foden, Mason Mount and Harry Kane fill their boots. The new vairant seems to be controlled by the vaccination programme. Anti vaxxiers claim it was "just a cold" as their numbers swell in hospital.

The World Cup started, England did well. Foden, Mount and Kane didn't shine though. The anti vaxxers claimed covid is justa cold! 8/10


England play Germany in the final. It goes to penalties. Raheem Stirling steps up for the the final one. Score and we are through. Lose and Germany write the same old book. I won't spoil the surprise for you. The Queen announces that this will be her final speech. She's had enough. 

Given that neither England nor Germany made the finals, this was a rubbish prediction. The Queen clearly had had enough and didn't even make a speech as she'd shuffled off this mortal coil in October after shaking hands with Liz Truss. 2/1

So overall, that rounds up to 7/10 which is a very decent score.  Stand by for next years predictions coming soon!

Wednesday 28 December 2022

The year in review - London Symphonies

Back in January, I announced a new project called London Symphonies. My purpose was to put together a modern chronicle celebrating the people and places in this wonderful City. 

I have been quietly working on integrating all of this into a website -

Please have a look and let me know what you think. It is far from finished and far from perfect, my project for next year is to get this into a proper shipshape fashion.

This year I published five stories.

ntroducing London Symphonies - what it's all about

London Symphonies - From Mill Hill to Moorgate - A journey from the suburbs to the heart of the city

London Symphonies - The Burnt Oak Boogie - A trip through time in  Burnt Oak

London Symphonies - Dublin's finest Castle in Camden Town - A look at Londons most authentic grassroots music venue

London Symphonies - From Mill Hill East to Battersea Power Station - A contrast between two regenerated power stations

It is my intention to publish one a month through 2023 and expand the other sections. I hope you enjoy this

Tuesday 27 December 2022

My year in blogs 2022.

 As we wind down towards new year and 2023, I am sticking with the old Barneteye tradition and having a look at the year in blogs. One from each month as the year progressed, trying to paint a picture of what 2022 was like. Yesterday I did my fave blog of the year and looked at my musical year. This is always less fun but possibly more enlightening.

January - Barnet Council Tories come clean on the failure of Capita.

It seems like a very long time ago when we had a Tory council. I beleive the damage they have done to the Borough will last for decades. In January, they finally came clean about the abject failure of Capita. Of course you had to read the council papers, it was never somehing they would trumpet, but sad person that I am, I did read the papers.

Thus blog is worth a read.

February - Boris 'Napoleon' Johnson faces his Waterloo!  

An odd one, a blog that I started writing as an explanation of why I rejected a guest blog, morphed into what I thought was a pretty good analysis of the mind of Boris Johnson. The Daily Express was full of stories yesterday that Boris is coming back. Nothing would surprise me with the Tories, but they'd be bonkers, given that he landed them in the mess in the first place. February was around the time I realised that Boris's days were numbered.

March - The Greatest hits of the Barnet Eye week - Day 1 - Friern Barnet People's Library

March 22nd 2022 marked the 15th anniversary of the conception of my blogging career. I sent an email to Phil Crowther, editor of the Barnet Times, suggesting I could write a column about local music. After a years worth of nagging, I started writing a blog on the Barnet Times. The rest is history. I celebrated this last year, with a series of blogs andthis was the first. A blog about the Friern Barnet Library campaign. It was important to me, not least as this year was the 10th anniversary of the Friern Library campaign

April  - Congratulations to Hadley FC on their promotion to step 4 of the Non League pyramid 

This was a massive highlight for me. Hadley FC are my local non league team and this was a wonderful moment. I've been there for the journey and it was amazing.

May -  TFL and Barnet Council conspire to cause traffic chaos in Mill Hill

The big news in May was the fall of the Barnet Tories after 20 years, but the blog I've chosen is one that had a far more immediate impact on hundreds of residents in Mill Hill. The absolute chaos and lack of planning by TFL and Barnet Council, who closed Pike Road to allow TFL to do Bridge repair works. Much of Mill Hill ended up in gridlock, as the true effects of this failure became clear. This blog lead the campaign to sort the cock up out.

June - I shed a tear as the Lancaster flew over Mill Hill for the Queen's Jubilee flypast 

Back in June, Queen Elizabeth celebrated her Jubilee and the Battle of Britain flight flew over Mill Hill. As my dearly departed Dad was a bomber pilot, I always shed a tear at this sight. The blog finshed with the words about my Dad. 

All I have to remind me is a Lancaster passing over my head. Forgive me my little tear. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth is just about the last link I have with that era. Long may she reign. 

Sadly we all know what happened next....

July - The Saturday List #353 - My Top Ten Ice creams, Ice Lollies and Ice Pops 

Every so often I write a blog and it grows legs. This particular one inspired Mark Amies, a good friend of this blog, to do a slot about Ice Cream manufacturers on his slot on The Robert Elms show on BBC Radio London, that was very well received! It is noce when a fun blog hits the spot.

August - Happy Birthday to me - The big 6-0 arrives 

This was big news for me, if no one else. It also included a taster of The Burnt Oak Boogie, which has become a massive local hit with it's accompanying video

September - Time to shake up BBC1's evening schedule - What I'd do if I was Director General 

Regular readers will know that I am a regular listener to BBC Radio London and I'm none too chuffed with the changes the station's bosses and the schedule changes that they've made. In September I appointed myself Director General of The BBC and made some changes to the BBC1 TV schedule. It caused quite a stir amongst my Facebook friends, particularly one who was the Head of Light Entertainment at The BBC responsible for orignally cancelling Dr Who!

October - Guest Blog -Mill Hill memories - St Vincent’s Orphanage on the Ridgeway Mill Hill by Chris Fanning 

In October, I was spoiled for choice, it was perhaps my most interesting monthly selection. I've chosen this wonderful guest blog by Chris Fanning about St Vincents Orphanage in Mill Hill. It is well worth a read. 

November - How a tragedy spawned a great album   

In November, I chose to dicuss how a tragedy inspired my band to put together a great album. This blog is as much about supporting your friends as it is about music. 

December - The shocking truth about the health care for vulnerable people in the Borough of Barnet in 2022

This blog is nothing if not about trying to right some of the wrongs in the Borough. We started with Capita, a folly that has destroyed the finances and the public spirited ethic of Barnet Council. We end with an appalling tale of bad housing, that hopefully we are on the way to sorting out.

If I am honest, this has not been a classic year for the Barnet Eye and the blogs I write. There's been some good stuff here, I've said some important things, but in truth I am more frustrated than ever at what is happening in the Borough. I am totally appalled at the lack of proper opposition to Barnet Labour from The local Tories. If they don't do their job properly, then it is good for no one. I've talked to a few local Tories and they say the same thing "It's terrible in opposition, you can't get anything done". This drives me nuts. I've stood for council three times and as someone who is a Lib Dem, the chances are that had I been elected, I'd always be an opposition councillor and I would love the platform to sort out some of the issues I blog about. They have to stop sulking, pull their finger out and get stuck into doing proper scrutiny.

I'll leave you withe the Xmas edition of The Burnt Oak Boogie video. If you like to see how our locality looks, check it out

Monday 26 December 2022

My year in music - 2022

 Given the losses we've had this year, Terry Hall, Wilko Johnson and Keith Levine are three that particularly affected me, but I really want to concentrate on the high points in what has been a great year for me from a musical perspective. 


Not normally a great month for live music, many were still nervous as the country emerged from the Omicron lockdown. But there was a good start to the year at the Black Horse in Barnet with one of my favourite local bands, The Silencerz. They always put on a good show and feature Lee Thompson of Madness.


In February, it was off to the Roundhouse to see one of my favourite post punk bands, Echo and The Bunnymen. Always a good show, a band who have a stack of classics such as The Killing Moon and The Cutter. 


In March, there was a spiffing gig at The Barbican, a show of celebrating the music of London. It was curated by Chris Difford of Squeeze and featured a selection of great artists, old and new, including Brett Anderson of Squeeze. Here is one of the highlights


A real treat. In the 1980's we used to follow a reggae band from Bristol called Talisman. As often happens, they disappeared into the ether. To my delight, they had reformed and were playing at the Undercover festival in Guildford. Even better a brilliant new band, who I met through the studio called Voodoo Radio were playing. It was a bit of a schlep on the train but well worth it.


May saw a wonderful night at Dorchester Abbey with my wife's band, The BBC Elstree Concert band. Clare has played with them for over 30 years. They are an excellent band and play in some wonderful locations, this was one of the nicer ones.


June saw the return of the Mill Hill Music Festival, which was a brilliant week of diverse music in Mill Hill, for me the highlight was the party night, with the amazing Brit Funk Association, which got the whole place rocking.


We went to the Rochester Castle festival to see The Specials, The Beat, Holly Cook and The Stone Foundation. It was a brilliant day. I never imagined it would be the last time I saw Terry Hall playing. The great news is that I will always remember him in his pomp at this brilliant day shared with some of my best friends.


In August, it was my big birthday. I hit 60. I celebrated with an amazing party at The Bohemia in Finchley. We got our friends The Silencerz down and my band The False Dots debuted with our new line up and new set. It was a real blast.


In September, my band did our first gig in Camden Town for 12 years, at the Dublin Castle. It was a blast. What I particularly enjoyed was the set by The Shoals, who supported us, a new Ska band based in Barnet. It is always great to see new bands coming through. They've been rehearsing at the studio for a while and headed off on a national tour shortly after.


October saw us at The Water Rats on the Clerkenwell Road for The 40th anniversary gig to celebrate the first gig by The Pogues at the Rats. As the band are no longer playing (and they'd sell out the O2), the venue put on my mates The Pogue Traders, the officially recognised top Pogues celebration band. It was a wonderful night


We went to Koko in November for The Stone Foundation and Graham Parker. The venue was nearly destroyed by fire a couple of years ago. I've loved the venue since it was The Music Machine and it has really been refurbished beautifully. Having a beer on the balcony again was perhaps one of my happiest moments of the year. With so many venues closing, it really was joyous.

December. We were at 229 in Great Portland St for the Queens of Lovers Rock, Carrol Thompson and Janet Kay. Two absolute legends and some of the best music of my youth

And finally, we finish with what was my fave new song by our band in 2022. I am so pleased with this number and this video. We wrote this song after our gig in September. I shot some videos of the pub, and I wanted a vehicle to share them with. The band wrote the song and my co conspiritor Fil Ross did an amazing job co-producing, adding whistling and banjo! I think we capture the vibe of the Dublin Castle rather well.