Thursday 30 June 2022

Abortion and the hypocisy of the hard Christian Right

 Firstly, cards on the table. I'm a bloke, I'm a Roman Catholic and I have three kids and wish I had three more, because they have made my life immeasurably better. However, I have to say that at times I'm almost embarrassed to say this, due to the image that the Christian right has inflicted on our community. In the UK if you say the words Roman Catholic, you tend to think of the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg, a man who I feel no empathy at all with. I wasn't going to write this blog today, I tend to feel that female issues are best left to females to discuss, however when I saw this story, I simply felt that there was no way that any sane decent person should ignore such hypocrisy

In short, Rees-Mogg is completely opposed to abortion for the highest of moral reasons until he sees an opportunity to make a quick buck from it. What did he say? “I don’t manage the funds and haven’t done so since I became an MP. But the funds have to be run in accordance with the requirements of the investors and not according to my religious beliefs". He lives in a strange world where morals don't matter when it comes to cash, but they do matter when you are telling other people what to do with their bodies.  We should call out the likes of Rees-Mogg when they behave in this way. We should do everything we possibly can to make the voters in his constituency aware that he is not a man of high principle and rigid morals. He is a man who is perfectly happy to profit from things which he's publicly said are wrong.

I'm not into lecturing anyone what they should do with their bodies. As a man,  I'll never be in a position where I have to make the difficult choice of whether to have an abortion, so how can I tell anyone else what to do. The Christian Right in the USA is evern more inconsistent and hypocrytical than Rees-Mogg. They would happily deny women the right to abortion on the grounds that every life is sacred, whilst supporting the death penalty and gun rights. In 2020 gun deaths became the biggest killer of young men in the USA, but the right to wander around with enough firepower to wipe out a class of children has recently been strengthened in the USA by so called Conservative judges. 

The worst hypocisy of all in relation to abortions is that is the same people who want to restrict abortions create the economic and social realities that make many see abortion as the solution to the problems caused by unplanned pregnancy. There are four main reasons women seek terminations.

1 - Medical reasons, their life is at risk from a continued pregnancy, such as an ectopic pregnancy

2 - Financial reasons, they simply cannot afford to have a child and give it a decent upbringing

3 - Social reasons, the pressures of our society, friends, family, partners makes them seek a termination which they may not necessarily want but feel they have no choice in. Often this is tied up with financial reasons, such as a partner or parents refuse to support a woman who wishes to have a baby.

4 - Personal choice.  They woman simply decides that she does not want to have the baby, for reasons of her own, that are none of our business.

The Hard Religious right would ban all terminations, from all four categories. This exposes more hypocrisy. In the case of medical reasons, and I include mental health, they are putting women at risk of death. Their case for the right to life, may result in the death of both mother and baby and there is no common sense or morality in this. It is a blinkered, absolutist view that is highly damaging.

As to financial reasons and social reasons. The hard right, with its views on personal financial responsibility, forces many women who would have babies to seek abortions, simply because they feel they have no option. In the UK we have child benefit to support children, but for many women, just being pregnant will incur costs. These do not start on the day the baby arrives, you need to be set up in accomodation long before the birth, have clothes, a cot, and all of the other things that a baby requires. For example, with the cost of living crisis, pregnant women may turn off their heating in winter, damaging their health. In the UK their are some benefits available, but to be honest many of these are a pittance pregnant women (from the 10th week) and children aged one to four get £4.25 a week children under one get £8.50 a week. How much healthy food would £4.25 buy? I am firmly of the opinion that if you want to stop women having abortions who are forced to by financial pressures, you remove the financial pressures that force them to. That to my mind gives women a real choice,f reed from social and financial pressures that the hard christian right are so keen to impose.

As to the personal choice that women make.  If you want to lessen the number of such terminations, the place you start is by scrapping another of the Holy Grail's of the Christian right and have proper sex education, access to contraception and good sexual counselling. If after you've done all of these things, a woman still decides she wants a termination, as far as a I am concerned that is a matter for her and her conscience. It's none of my business. What is my business is that if she cannot have one safe and legally, she may come to serious harm at a backstreet abortionist and as a human being, I cannot possibly be comfortable with this. I believe that in our society, we should provide the safest possible environment for every member of it.  

I was inspired to write this blog by the hypocrisy of Jacob Rees-Mogg, a man who lectures us on how abortion is immoral but is happy for his business to make a fortune from it for the "requirements of the investors". The world is full of men like Rees-Mogg who pretend to be pillars of society, but when it comes down to it, are just grubby profiteers, making a fortune from other peoples misery. I'd be more than happy if as a society, we moved to a point where no woman ever felt the need, as her own personal choice, to seek an abortion, but whilst the real world means women do, I do not see it as my business, or any other hypocrital, profiteering man to interfere with this. I don't feel at all comfortable pontificating on the subject, but if we sit on our hands when the likes of Rees Mogg is shown to be a hypocrite, then we are no better than him.

Wednesday 29 June 2022

An open letter to Sean Doyle, British Airways CEO - You are failing people with special needs

 Dear Mr Doyle,

I am writing to you in total frustration on this public forum, because as CEO you are in a position to do something positive about the way your company interacts with people with special needs. As the owner of a successful business myself, I am aware of the positive impact of my customers calling me out when we get things wrong. Although your business employs tens of thousands of people and mine employs ten, the principle is the same. We only improve when our customers tell us that the people who work for us could do better. 

In August, I am travelling from Gatwick to Bordeaux as a primary carer, with a lady with significant special requirements, who has cerebal palsy and who uses an electric wheelchair. There are aspects of our journey which I urgently need to discuss with your special assistance team. I was advised by the charity HCPT, who made the arrangements, that I had to speak to you, as you would not allow them to act on my behalf without authorisation.  They provided me with the number of your special assistance team and I have repeatedly tried to contact them. I have either been left hanging on a line being told that they are extremely busy and someone will be with you soon until I have had to give up due to work requirements, one time over 30 minutes or more recently being told that call volumes are high and please call back later, by your automated switchboard. 

In frustration, I tried tweeting you and got the following response.

Although it took a week to get a response, I was pleased that eventually someone seemed to be taking an interest. So I did what was asked and here is the conversation

My final message was posted yesterday at 2.47pm. I am no nearer being able to sort this issue out and I am no nearer even speaking to anyone who can help me. If I am in this position, I can only assume that every other person in the UK who is travelling with someone on BA with special requirements is also in the same position. We chose BA as we beleived that using a premium airline would mean that we got better and more responsive customer service. It can be quite difficult and stressful making travel arrangements for someone who has significant care requirements during travel. Whilst no passenger should experience the shoddy customer care we have received, I am sure you will agree that passengers who have significant requirements should be able to get through to someone who will resolve them with the minimum of fuss and bother. 

I have travelled many times as a carer and I have first hand experience of how important it is to ensure a smooth transfer from a wheelchair to a seat is for a passenger using a wheelchair. If this is not properly organised, then it can impact other passengers and delay the departure of the flight, which sadly causes all manner of difficulties.

I am sure that you will be keen to ensure that BA is viewed as a responsible airline and one that customers can rely on and trust. I am aware that your company has various issues with staffing at the moment, however if you are accepting bookings, then you should be able to provide the service that customers are paying for.

Roger Tichborne

Tuesday 28 June 2022

Make sure you get down to the East Barnet Festival this weekend at Oakhill Park

For me, this Summer is turning into a classic for the Borough of Barnet. We had an absolutely amazing week of the Mill Hill Music Festival and this weekend we've got another stellar line up for the East Barnet Festival and the even better news is that it's all free! The weather forecast is for good weather locally and there are some cracking bands on. The headliners on the Saturday are my old mates, The Foundations, who will be playing all of their hits such as Build me up Buttercup and Baby, Now that I found you. They are a wonderful band. On  the Sunday we have Lee Thompson of Madnesses other band, The Silencerz, who are also a very good evenings entertainment. The rest of the programme is also pretty good, with a few of my personal local favourite such as Dubvocalisa, Lydia Maddix and Talk in Code. The full music programme is here.  There's also a car show, a fun fair, food stalls etc and it should be a weekend of top class fun. 

Organised by the community, for the community, East Barnet Festival remains North London’s largest FREE summer festival. The event is entirely self-funded, with money being raised from our generous sponsors, advertisers and traders. All of our funds are used to ensure that we can continue to provide this fantastic event for the whole community. The only council funding comes from a grant that we must apply for each year. A percentage of any surplus funds is donated to Friends in Need, a support group based in East Barnet village to provide community activities and services. 

 Let’s celebrate the East Barnet community in style !

Monday 27 June 2022

Rog T's Dyslexia Blog - Reflections on the teaching of dyslexics in the 1970's

Seven years ago, I wrote a blog detailing my experiences of education at Finchley Catholic High School in the 1970's. I don't often re-read my own blogs. However two things conspired to make me have a look at it. The first was that I went to see a band put together by an old classmate of mine from that period, a certain Mr Sam Sproule and his band the Midnite Crawlers at the Boogaloo Bar in Highgate last night. I've not seen Sam since I left the esteemed establishment aged 15. It got me thinking about the school. As if by magic, a random reader also left a comment on the blog. This inspired me to re-read it.

It is quite a hard read for me. My views on my education have evolved. When I was 14, I felt trapped and forced to go to school. If I could have possibly escaped the experience I would have. I didn't enjoy the almost ritualistic belittlement that we faced as students at the hands of the teachers. As someone who was bottom of the class most of the time, I got far more than my fair share of it. Was there any upside to it? I've come to realise that there was, but not the one that the Teachers who indulged in the bullying intended. It gave me a complete lack of respect for people in positions of authority and a hatred of bullies. I'd probably not have started this blog, to moan about injustice if I didn't carry a deep felt anger. But.....

The more I think about it, the more I feel aggrevied. You see these teachers were paid a decent wage and held a position of some respect in society. My parents would attend evenings with them, where they were told all manner of things about me that were a) rather bad and b) completely true. What they didn't tell them, the key matter, was that I was dyslexic and my relatively poor performance at school and my bad behaviour was very likely a result of having a learning difficulty. I accept that teachers now have far better training in such matters, but if they were doing their job, they most certainly should have recognised this. My parents were told I was lazy. I believed I was lazy to the core of my soul. I believed all of my problems were down to being lazy. The thing is, I wasn't. I never have been. I've always been an incredibly busy and hard working person. If I have something to do, I throw myself into it heart and soul. The reason that I didn't throw myself into schoolwork is because whenever I did, I completely failed. For my getting a pass (usually a C grade) was a victory. It happened rarely before I reached the age of 14. I can remember teachers setting us school projects, where I'd be inspired, work my nuts off, do what I thought was really brilliant work, only to get it back with red ink all over it, corrections to spelling and grammar, with not a word on the actual content. I recall one science project that had a big prize, a record token if my memory serves me right. I did what I thought was a brilliant piece of work. I knew what my classmates were doing and I knew mine was better. When the marking was done, I got a C. Why? Because my project was littered with spelling mistakes etc. I asked the teacher whether it was a science class or an English class as I was so pissed off. He replied that no one who was unable to spell could become a scientist. I just wished I'd known Albert Einstein was a dyslexic at that moment.

The whole educational experience was telling me that I should do a job like being a gardener or a decorator. I was lucky. I had a stable home life and parents who cared. They supported me in what I tried to do and encouraged me. That is why I now run one of London's most successful music studios. It has taken a very long time, but I now can say with complete confidence, I'm not and never have been lazy. I can also say that those teachers who would belittle my class mates and I were the epitomy of laziness. If I could, I'd love to sue them to get the money back that they were paid, as they were paid to be teachers but let me and my classmates down. They took money under false pretences. Sure some of the brighter kids did OK, but they would have if the class was taught by a donkey. I shudder to think what my youth would have been like had I not had a home that I felt safe and comfortable in. Re-reading the blog I was taken back to those times and it is very hard not to feel angry about it. As I mentioned in the blog a few of the teachers were decent folk who cared and our class was notoriously difficult, but they were grown ups and they had a job to do. The fact that I was in my 30's before I even realised I was dyslexic, let alone identified by people marking my work is a complete disgrace. I'm only moderately dyslexic and I've developed coping mechanisms to get through. What happens to those who's dyslexia is worse? Those who don't have the stable home life? Sadly, if you look at studies of the prison population, the answers are all too evident. I'm coming to the opinion that every prisoner in jail for minor offences (clearly not murder and sex crimes), should be given an assessment and a plan to deal with their issues. They should be given another chance. They have been failed by society. 

Some people may read this and think "Another soft minded liberal seeking to blame society for their ills". I see every day that there is a complete lack of understanding of the subject. Even my wife, who has been with me for 37 years doesn't really get it. But I talk to other dyslexics and when I say I am, they open up and so many experiences were similar. I've always said I could walk into a classroom and tell who the dyslexics were just by where they were sitting. The one thing you learn early is not to be in the teachers eyeline and to be close to the door. You don't sit too near the front as then you are in the firing line when they pace up and down. About three rows back, as near to the door as possible is the perfect seat. I used to deliberately get thrown out of class, as standing on my own in the corridor was less stressful than sitting in some teachers lessons. I'm not alone in this. No teacher ever took me to one side and said "This is the tenth time I've sent you out, is there something you want to discuss, do you not feel comfortable in class?". A very basic question which may have made a big difference. It's too late for me. Only the nightmares about school remain. I guess they always will. 

For those of you who haven't read my dyslexia blogs before, here is a little preamble and introduction, so you know who I am and what I do and why I write this stuff. For those of you who know the story, skip to the end of the paragraph for todays installment. Let me give you a bit of Background so you know who I am and what I do. I was born in 1962. I didn't start talking until I was 4 years old (at all, not a single word). My parents thought I was deaf. My reading age at eleven was 5. When I was fifteen I started a rock and roll band called the False Dots, the band is still going strong. When I was 16 I started a business called Mill Hill Music Complex (although then it was simply called the studio), a rehearsal studio, as we had nowhere to rehearse. The business has grown into a very successful enterprise, one of Londons biggest and most well respected independent studios. We now have 16 studios and a music shop and also have a photography/video studio and a dance studio. I also have done IT work, mostly on a freelance basis since 1983. In 2012 I also moved into film production, producing two highly acclaimed documentary films, both of which had screenings at the House of Commons. When I was 31, a friend suggested I had a dyslexia test. To my surprise I was told I was moderately dyslexic. This made me interested in the subject. To my amazement, what I have learned over the years is that my lack of educational aptitude, my feelings of anger and injustice and the core of my personality have been formed by the fact I cannot read words in a linear fashion. In 2013, I have set one of my objectives to use this blog to let dyslexics know they are not alone, to suggest that people who think they may be dyslexic to get an assessment and toget people who have dyslexic children or siblings to understand the issues that they face.

Sunday 26 June 2022

The Tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet - 26th June 2022

 I missed this column last week. I was simply too busy with the Mill Hill Music Festival and so I apologise if I missed your tweet. This week has been a relatively quiet week, after 7 days of live gigs. So without further ado, here is my picks of the week

1. Lets start with a big shout out to local lad Jon Klaff for his stirling work for the MND Association charity and for proving #Greenlogistic works. I didn't believe it was feasable, but am always happy to be proven wrong!

2. These guys do amazing work. Why not nip along today and support them

3. Just think how great this would look with a decent lick of paint

4. For locals, this is an interesting thread

5. This looks like it should be checked out

6. The King of Cricklewood

7. And while we are in Cricklewood

8. As we didnt do a TOTW last week, I feel this really should be included. I love this video

9. And this is another. I remember this place fondly. Always rely on @time_nw for great tweets.

10. Nice to have your work appeciated

That's all folks

Saturday 25 June 2022

The Saturday List #351 - My ten personal strike memories

 Today is yet another rail strike. It is really starting to feel like we are rushing back into the 1970's. For some reason, Boris Johnson has decided that annoying workers to the point they go on strike is a great way to win elections. The Byelections on Thursday may indicate the public disagree and understand that with rampaging inflation, workers need to pay bills. To celebrate the Rail strike, The False Dots have released a video called "The Greatest British Fail" to tell the story of how Privatisation transformed a railway that was under invested and falling to bits into a railway that was under invested and a goldmine for private companies, with gold lined deals guaranteed by the taxpayer. It's also quite a good little dittie. 

I thought I'd list my memories of important strikes and what they meant to me.

1. The miners strike 1974. This was a momentous occasion. A three day week, power cuts, the telly finishing at 10pm. What do I remember? Funnily enough, I remember buying a transistor radio and listening to "The Crisis Programme", a special phone in programme hosted by Robbie Vincent. It morphed into Robbie Vincents late night London. It was damn good fun.

2. The Teachers strike 1975(???). I was at Finchley Catholic High School. I hated school so when we heard the NUT (National Union of Teachers) was going on strike, we were ecstatic. Sadly, Ned Kelly, the Headmaster told us that we had to come into school anyway. We all turned up and sat in classes, with a few strike breaking teachers wondering around, telling us to shut up. Just after lunchtime, we were told to go home. We all walked up to Totteridge and had a punch up with kids from Ravenscroft School who were also lurking around. For the next strike, the police told Ned to make us stay at home. I always disliked Ravenscroft School after that, until they bought a load of music gear from my shop!

3.  The BT workers strike 1986(?). I was working at BT in 1986. I was in the IT department. Our union was the NCU/C. The engineers from the NCU/E went on strike. We were based at Baynard House in Blackfriars. There was a lot of bad feeling between the two branches of the NCU. The previous year the NCU/E had not supported the NCU/C on a strike. As a result the NCU/C was not supporting the NCU/E and were crossing picket lines. I did not want to cross the picket line, but as a matter of principle, they had crossed ours. I was confronted by an aggressive picket line. I told them in no uncertain terms that they'd crossed our picket lines, they'd broken our strike and as far as they were a bunch of scabs and I would not be supporting them. After that they didn't bother me. There were a couple of other guys who were not so forthright and there were physical altercations. After a few days one of the Union convenors approached me. He apologised for the NCU/E not supporting us and said he understood how I felt. He said that they should never have done that. Trades Union action only works when members stick together. It was a lesson for me. I've never felt good about it.

4. The Print workers strike.The print unions ruled the roost in the 70's. Newspaper plants were strongly unionised. Rupert Murdoch opened a print plant in Wapping. It was the beginning of the end. A friends Uncle was a Printer at the Daily Mirror. Within a couple of years, he was out of a job and then had his pension nicked by Robert Maxwell. Can't say I've been a fan of Press Barons since then.

5. The Miners strike. Margaret Thatcher in the 1980's decided to break the Miners Union, many believe it was as payback for the miners bringing down The Tory Government of Ted Heath. It was a horrible dispute and some communities have not recovered. I recall being at a punk rock gig, raising money for the miners. I can't remember the bands, I went to a few. A few miners were there as guests of honour. I ended up at the bar with a couple of old guys from somewhere up north, who were lifelong miners and were seriously financially strapped. We were chatting away and one said to me "You know I don't really like this sort of music, but I respect the support you guys have given us. When I saw the Sex Pistols on the Bill Grundy show, I thought they were disgusting, but they supported the striking firemen in 1977 and I realise I'd been wrong. The real threat to this country are the greedy bastards who want to rob the working man". He was not wrong.

6. The Grunwick Dispute. This was a horrible dispute. I was just a kid and I just saw the news images, that weren't sympathetic to the workers. Our local MP, Sir John Gorst, a Conservative was a staunch supporter of Grunwick bosses. A few years later, I was chatting with a friend who was an active trades unionst and he put me right about the dispute. It made me realise just how misleading press coverage can be.

7. The Gdansk Shipyard strike. This was a really important moment. Workers striking against a Communist government. The Leader, Lech Walesa became a global figure. My Dad, a stauch Conservative said it showed that Communism didn't represent working men. It was hard to argue with him at the time. When I went to the USSR and Eastern Europe, I realised that what they had there was not any form of Communism Karl Marx would recognised, in many ways it was legalised gangsterism. Travel certainly broadens the mind, but the Polish strikers were the people who pulled the wool from them.

8. The winter of discontent - 1979. Council workers on strike. Rubbish piling up in the streets, Bunns Lane Carpark tranformed into a rubbish dump. The local cemeteries shut. It was horrible, but what was even more horrible was that it lead to Thatcherism. The one aspect of strikes that's always worried me is the law of unintended consequences. We are now seeing a summer of discontent. Maybe it will herald the end of the Tory decade? 

9. The firemens strike 2002. The Army was brought out, with their green goddess fire engines to break the strike. Once again the media gave the strikers a good kicking. It's always struck me as the height of hypocrisy watching TV News Presenters and commentators who get massive salaries criticising working people risking their lives for pretty crap wages for being greedy. We get told that 'there is no magic money tree' then wonder why we have labour shortages doing dangerous or unpleasant jobs. 

10. Rail Strike 2022 - I must say a few words about the rail strike. I wrote a blog on the subject on Monday, where I laid out why I support the strike. Since then, Mick Lynch seems to have embarked on a mission to show how to run a Trades Union. I wasn't a fan of the Arthur Scargill school of media relations. Mick Lynch simply tells the truth and doesn't get irate. It works. He calls out lying minister and ridicules stupid commenators. It made me wonder why Union Leaders didn't twig that making your case in a calm rational way and calling out bullshitters with a degree of sarcastic humour many moons ago. Here's his greatest hits


Friday 24 June 2022

Roe vs Wade - The simple question that I do not understand

 I'm not American, so I don't understand their legal system. I've just been watching the coverage of protests from America about the overturning of the 50 year old decision by the Supreme Court to grant the right to Abortion. I don't want to get too deeply into the rights and wrongs of the issue, for the simple reason that I'm a man and it's not something I'd ever have to make a personal decision about. 

But what I don't understand is that I thought the law was the law and it rose above politics. As I understand it, Donald Trump appointed several very right wing judges, who cannot be sacked, who have re-interpreted a ruling that was made 50 years ago, by the highest court in the land. Now I am not a constitutional expert, but isn't this subverting the concept of an independent judiciary, which is not politcally motivated? Since the law was passed, we've had Republican Presidents such as Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush and Bush. Yet now, under a Democrat president, we get a decision made by a Supreme Court that due to a series of deaths of Judges, under a one term president, who was  unceremoniously booted out by voters in record numbers, a highly controversial decision has been made and due to the fact that Judges can only be replaced when they die, it is unlikely to be overturned any time soon. 

Regardless of what side of the argument you are on, any sane person would stand back and see the risks of this. I'm not saying the Supreme Court Judges are right or wrong, I'm not legally qualified in US law to pass an opinion. What I can say though, is if this ruling has stood for 50 years, and has only been overturned on the whim of a Judge appointed by an insurrectionalist president, to me it fails the 'sniff test' in a big way. Feel free to tell me why I'm wrong, but please don't say "It's the will of Jesus". I'm a Roman Catholic and if this were true, then we'd never have had the Roe vs Wade decision in the first place. I thought the whole basis of the law of the land in the US is that State and Religion are separated. It is hard to square that premis with the decision

Wednesday 22 June 2022

Why is it so difficult to organise a music festival in the London Borough of Barnet

 On Sunday, we had the grand finale of the Mill Hill Music Festival. This was the 14th Festival and as it is normally bi-annual, it has been running for 29 years. The committee has also organised other events over the years, such as a Jazz weekend and a mini festival with Paul Young at Mill Hill Rugby club. I've been involved in eleven of them and been a committee member on ten festivals. Lets just say I have a little bit of experience in the matter. The festival was originally set up by former Conservative Councillor Jane Ellison and long time resident, who sadly recently passed away Marion Dewing. Initially it was mostly classical and choral events at local churches and in parks. It has morphed into a different beast, with Opera from a professional company, a party night with a Funk supergroup with 30 to 30 hits between them, Jazz legends whilst still having a classical element at a local church. 

This year, we held the festival we planned for last year, but couldn't stage due to covid. It is fair to say that the pandemic caused serious challenges. When we started planning last June, we didn't even know if it would be feasable or sensible to hold the festival. Fortunately the pandemic subsided and Mill Hill came out to play. We scaled it back from the 2019 programme, with 2 less events, both which appealled to older audeinces primarily. These were relatively expensive to hold and we weren't sure the audience would turn out. 

Despite the success of this years festival, I have to say that over the years organising a music festival in Barnet has become increasingly difficult. At one point, the council were quite supportive and removed obstacles that their bureacracy placed in our way. The Mill Hill Music Festival is run by volunteers on a not for profit basis and any surplus funds are reinvested in future programmes. We've never sought council funds. This year we had a whole string of petty inconveniences. It took us dozens of phone calls etc to get agreement to put banners up on railings by the public highway. Some that have not been an issue before, we simply couldn't get permission to place. In previous years, we've put a "book tickets here" sign on the pavement outside Mill Hill Wines. This year we were told we'd need a licence that would cost hundreds of pounds. We have been doing this a long time and we know the ropes. I did the Temporary Event Notices for drinks and entertainment licences, which cost the festival nearly £100, the equivalent of five ticket sales.  The Mill Hill Postcode (NW7) is represented by a total of  eight councillors. Not one attended. In previous years, former Edgware Councillor Joan Scannell was a committee member and a few would turn up to support a non political community event. Now it seems they can't be bothered. 

This year, more than ever, the festival was needed. The music was almost secondary to the joy of people meeting up with friends, some of whom they'd not seen since the pandemic started. Dozens of people told us that it was nice to have the shackles removed and to be able to go out again. People were telling us they'd "got out of the habit of going out". I believe that the festival (and the others in Barnet) serve a useful social need. To my mind, the Council should be as supportive as possible and have a designated, trained officer who can assist with all of the aspects of organising festivals and can step in when there are problems. The Borough should be encouraging local people to set up small events, not putting roadblocks in the way. The council have seemed keener on developing parks as a revenue source than as an amenity used by local people and for local events. I've no objection to funfairs and commercial events occasionally being staged in local parks, but the council should be encouraging local people to stage their own events and not treating them as a cash cow. Although the money we spent on licenses is a drop in the ocean for the council, for the Festival we could have paid another artist to do a stint at one of the shows with the money. 

There is a new adminstration in Barnet. We'd like to see a new approach to community events to be a top priority for them.

Tuesday 21 June 2022

A few home truths about the Rail strikes

Today the UK has virtually ground to a halt due to a national train strike. As a business owner, this is yet another kick in the teeth and yet another blow to our cashflow. If customers can't get to a studio to rehearse, then we make no money. However, as a citizen of the UK, you have to take a view of the bigger picture. What is the bigger picture?

Make no mistake, this dispute is not about money, working conditions or pensions. It is an entirely political action, by both the UK government and the rail unions. The public are completely stuck in the middle of this bunfight and as ever will ultimately pay the consequences. The government bankrolls the rail industry, using a string of operators as proxy's to run the service. Lets dispel a few myths.

1. The Private Operators and their shareholders are setting the policies that caused the problems

These companies have virtually guaranteed profits and their shareholders have continued to receive dividends, despite the pandemic. Now you may hold your hands up and say "why should greedy shareholders get the money?". This is a bit of a fallacy, as many of the shareholders of these firms are actually the pension funds that pay our pensions. Of course there are private investors and speculators who also hold such stocks, but the large funds are usually the biggest shareholders. I'd be surprised if any speculators have become millionaires investing in rail companies through the period of the epidemic. Network Rail is a government owned company, so the government gets any profits.  The bottom line is that these firms have to toe the line set by the government minister and the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. This is not being driven by Shareholders demanding bigger profits. The DoT set the terms and conditions of the Franchises and the companies deliver the services.

2. Grant Shapps doesn't want a strike

The transport secretary Grant Shapps has been repeatedly appearing on TV and Radio blaming the RMT for the problems. His stance is 'nothing to do with me guv'nor'. This public stance could not be further from the truth. It is a political stunt to deflect attention from the failings of Boris Johnson and to paint Labour as a hard left, pro strike party. There is a very cynical political calculation that the public will swing behind the Conservatives if they decide that Labour is backing an unreasonable strike. 

3. The Rail Unions are stuck in the past and don't want progress

The first time I travelled from Mill Hill on a train, it was a steam engine in 1966. There was a crew of four people driving it and a guard. At St Pancras, there were uniformed porters, helping ladies with luggage. The signals and points were all manually operated with signal boxes every mile or two on the line. Mill Hill had a stationmaster, with his own house on site and a team of men working for him. Flags were waved and whistles blown when trains were ready to go, once all doors had been closed and checked.

Now, if I go to St Pancras, I touch in with a debit card, often the station is unmanned. There is one person driving the train and no guard. There is one signal box in West Hampstead that controls the route for miles in every direction. All signals and points are electronic and controlled from this. The whole idea of a porter is long gone. The stationmasters house at Mill Hill is now a car park. Trains don't have guards, the nearest you get is a 'revenue protection officer' who's sole role is to fine you if you have the wrong ticket. The concept that there has been no progress because of the Unions is a myth touted by people who have a vested interest in misleading the public. 

Many of the changes that Unions oppose are related to safety. Cutting back on maintenance puts passengers at risk. The Conservatives did this once before. They created Railtrack, which chopped maintenance, there was s series of devastating crashes as result and the companyt was effectively renationalised as Network Rail. 

4. Train drivers are 'overpaid'

Apparently train drivers are paid £59,000 a year on average. I've no idea where the concept that key workers who are needed to keep the country running should be badly paid has come from, but it is a classic example of wrong thinking. Train drivers are well paid to ensure they stay with the companies that they are working for. It costs a fortune to train a driver. They have to know the equipment, the safety regs, where all of the signals are, what the speed limits on a route are. If a driver is unfamiliar with a route, they have to be accompanied by someone who does. Good pay ensures that drivers stay with companies, meaning the companies don't have to continually pay huge sums to train new drivers. Routes are learned by new drivers going out in trains and continually familiarising themselves. A train can have up to 1,500 people on. Drivers are not allowed to have alcohol or drugs in their blood and may be tested.  I don't know about you but I want a driver who knows what he's doing and is competent. Decent wages ensure that happens. I believe people in key jobs should be properly renumerated. 

5. The RMT is run by overpaid union barons who don't care about the public

Union bosses are generally paid between £100,000 and £150,000. Of course this is a large amount of money, but it is not out of line for leading an organisation representing tens of thousands of people. Rail disputes are generally based on highly technical issues, that only someone with decades of experience can understand. When new equipment is introduced, this has generally been sold to companies by equipment suppliers who promise the earth. The Union's role is to play devils advocate to ensure that it is fully safe for members to operate. This system works. Travelling by train is the safest way of travelling in the UK. Pay disputes are also highly complex. There are many roles and often pay rises are linked to productivity increases. When guards were removed from Thameslink, drivers got more money for taking in the responsibility for the work of former guards. Unions also represent staff  in disputes, so have to have a strong legal team. Lawyers are not cheap. Union bosses do not sit around all day planning strikes. They have to know their subject. Their job is to represent members, but their work ensures the public is safe.  Personally I appreciate this. 

6. The Unions are holding the country to ransome. 

This is an old trope that Conservative governments regularly roll out when there are industrial disputes. As union members lose pay, they never do it unless they have a genuine grievance. Unions leaders run the Union by consent of their members. The membership of the rail unions see that the government is seeking to erode their terms and conditions and impose job cuts. Many of these involve staff involved in rail safety. If you are driving trains on the railway that can do up to 200Kmh, you want the infrastructure to be properly maintained. The government line is that the Unions are standing in the way of automating safety inspections. The Unions are saying that the technology has not been tried and tested properly on UK railways and should not be rushed into service. I am quite sure that regardless of the outcome of this strike, many safety checks now done will ultimately be performed by machines, with agreement by unions, but this will happen when all sides are agreed on the safety. If the Unions were asking for a 50% increase and a four day week, with a strike to ensure they got it, that would be unreasonable. I don't think it's unreasonable for staff at companies that we rely on to keep the country moving should not see their pensions degraded as a result of government mismanagement of the economy. The reason that Railway workers have good terms and conditions is because they have been prepared to take industrial action, but we are the beneficiaries of what is largely a safe and reliable railway. The major problems with our rail network have not been caused by unions but by bad government policies over several generations, such as the the Beeching closures, chronic under investment, high prices, uncomfortable seats, chaotic timetables and incomprehensible fares. The government spent £38 billion on a failed track and trace system from mates of the government. This would have paid for another two Crossrail lines. There is never a lack of money for pet projects of Boris Johnson. When it comes to paying key workers a decent wage, it is a different matter. We were all legally compelled to conform with legal restrictions of a failed track and trace system, on pain of huge fines, a system paid for by taxpayers which the friends of Boris provided. That is a far better example of holding the nation to ransome, but somehow that is never mentioned. 

I recently wrote a song about the decades long failure of British governments in running the railways. I hope you enjoy it

Monday 20 June 2022

The Mill Hill Music Festival 2022 - Rog's Festival Diary Day 4, 5, 6, 7 - 16-19 June

I've been a bit busy for the last couple of days with the festival, hence the lack of blogs!

Anyway, here's my Diary to catch up, for all of you fascinated with what goes on if you are a festival organiser!

Thursday 16th - Joe Stilgoe at Frith Manor Primary School

9am. The first task of the day was to pick up 90 chairs from another primary school in North Finchley. We had to do this early to fit in with the schools day. I borrowed a van from my good friends Mary and Paul Dawson, who run Kitchens with Elegance. Fellow committee member Dan came with me.

Having got the chairs, we then went to get a chair mover from Hartley Hall and collect some gazebos we'd lent to Mill Hill Library for an event. Having got all of that out of the way, I went to work at around 11.30am at the studios.

I got our tech crew to knock up some black drapes for the gig, as we wanted to dress the school so it didn't look like a primary school hall. When people come to the festival, we want the experience to be as good as possible./

3pm. I loaded the van with a PA system, drapes and lights for the show, then drove to the school. By 4.30pm, it was all rigged, thanks to Dan who helped me. The rest of the crew also arrived with the bar. 

4.30pm. Joe Stilgoe arrived, he was delighted to see the piano and the system we'd rigged. He said that it was always a bit hit and miss doing local festivals but he soon settled in.

After a very straightforward soundcheck, it was a question of waiting for the hordes to arrive, which they duly did. The gig was a sell out and everyone had a wonderful evening. The efforts we made dressing the hall certainly paid off

 Joe did two sets and we finished by 9.30. We then had to pack up the chairs, dismantle the PA and lights and we were out by 10.30. I got back to Mill Hill, put some diesel in the van and managed to get a Kebab from Cobans. I was safely tucked up in bed, for an early start on 

Friday 17th.

An early start as the chairs had to be back in North Finchley for 8am, so the school could use them in assembly. Dan joined me and we were back in Mill Hill by 9am after unloading a van full of chairs. Back home, have a swift breakfast, walk the dogs then back to the studio to load a stage, sound equipment and gazebos. I arrived ath the venue at Mill Hill Golf Club at 11.30 am.

We then spent the day on the hottest day of the year building a stage, putting up the lighting rigs, etc. The golf club kindly laid on lunch.

At around 3.30pm the band and our amazing sound guy Vince Cooper arrived. The band set up, Vince put the PA togather and the soundcheck was done and dusted by around 6.30

The Brit Funk Association are a wonderful band and truly lovely guys to boot. The support band was my old mate Gerry Keane's Recollection. I've known Gerry since I was 4 and we were at St Vincents together. He was the first mate to put a band together and I think it's fair to say his current band are the best of the lot! Both bands did super sets and got the audience on their feet. 

The music finished at 11pm and we then had to break the whole thing down and pack into the van. This was done by 2am. I had a few beers, so I had to do the walk of shame back to our house. When I got home, I then walked the dogs, so it was 3am to bed. It was a fantastic night with an excellent crowd.

Saturday 18th

I had an early start at 9am at the studios. We had Rockschool exams booked, which I always am present for the set up for. I then got the van unloaded into our store rooms. The event was the BBC Elstree Concert band at Hartley Hall. The stage and plinth was required, so this had to be taken and set up. We also had to do some work on the Hall lighting to ensure that the band could be seen and could see their sheet music. Another successful night, sell out crowd and amazing music from the 1920's with George Gershwin. It looked and sounded wonderful. 

I had the task of being MC for the night. After the band finished, we did a super quick load out and we were in the Mill Hill Tandoori for 9.45, with friends and family who'd come for the show (my wife plays in the band as well as being Festival treasurer). Mr Lemon at the Mill Hill Tandoori, who is a good friend kindly let us stay until midnight. All in all a very pleasant evening.

Sunday 19th.

The final day of the festival and a Jazz lunch at Finchley Nurseries. The first task of the day was to unload the van from the previous night. Then we put the PA system Gazebo's and staging to the Nurseries. We were up there at 10.30am, erected the Gazebo's set up the PA system. The band arrived at 1pm, for a 2pm start. We had been worried about the weather but it turned out to be a wonderful day. 

Around 300 people attended which was a great success. The Nurseries were most chuffed.

When the band finished, we had our final packdown and back to the studio. By 6pm, we were done. As we'd done no shopping, we nipped down to BAW in the Broadway for some tasty Thai food. After that it was home for a nice bath and an early night!


Friday 17 June 2022

Come down for the biggest party in Mill Hill this Summer tonight at the Mill Hill Golf Club


 Friday 17th June - from 7pm
Come celebrate at our party night at Mill Hill Golf Club with a great evening of Brit-Funk. Music from 8PM. This all-star Brit-Funk supergroup features members of Beggar & Co, Hi-Tension, Central Line and ex-members of Light of the World and Incognito. They play a wide selection from each of the bands’ back catalogues, such as “Time”, “Somebody (Help Me Out)”, “Walking Into Sunshine”, “British Hustle”, “There’s a Reason”, “I’m So Happy”, “London Town”, “Nature Boy”, and “Everyday”. Some of the other bands that influenced them are Mass Production, Kool & the Gang, Roy Ayers, and Ubiquity. The Brit-Funk genre started in the late 1970s, it is a distinctive mix of jazz-fusion-funk-disco music. Our evening begins with Recollection, the always popular 5-piece cover-band playing all your favourites from the 60s to the present day.
Tickets for this event are now only available on the door or at Mill Hill Wines.
Tickets: £17 (£20 on the door). Over 18s only. Food available. BBQ weather permitting. Cash bar.

Wednesday 15 June 2022

The Mill Hill Music Festival 2022 - Rog's Festival Diary Day 2 - Tuesday 14th June

 So after  abreak on Saturday and Sunday, we moved to Hartley Hall in Mill Hill for our night at the Opera, with the Charles Court Opera (Check our programme for the full details). Their show was entitled Express G&S (Gilbert and Sullivan). The Charles Court Opera are a very professional set up and have been associated with the Mill Hill Music Festival for a number of years. Long time readers, who have read this blog in previous years will know I don't have much input to the Opera. They have their own equipment and crew. Most of my day was spent sorting out equipment etc at the studio for shows later in the week. 

I went down to the Hartley Hall at around 6.30 to assist with marshalling and give what assistance I could. The event was sold out and it was nice to see the people of Mill Hill turn up en masse. After the show was over, we adjourned for a quick bite to eat at Prezzo. They now shut at 10pm, which meant that we got a main course and a beer and were turfed out. I nipped over to the Mill Hill Services club for a swift shandy to wind down. 

When we first started planning the festival last June, we really had no idea whether there would be an audience. We are now looking as if we might break even, which would be a massive achievement for a self funded independent festival in the current post Covid climate. There are still a few tickets left for all of the events. We had a restriction of 150 tickets for the amazing Brit Funk Association gig on Friday, as we needed to check the weather. This is looking as if we can go outside, so the capicity rises from 150 to 300 and we can start really promoting it again. If you like funk music, check this out and why not buy a ticket. It will be a gloriuos evening and a great party. After a difficult two years, come along. It's outside, so no need to worry about lurgys!

Tuesday 14 June 2022

The full truth about the Pike Road Closure and A41 Roadworks - Freedom of Information request reveals no concern for residents at all and no proper consultation

Click for readable version
Many residents in Mill Hill and Edgware have been massively inconvenienced by the roadworks on the A41/A1 and the closure of Pike Road. I sent an email to Barnet Council requesting all of the documents that relate to the closure. There are nearly two hundred pages worth of emails etc. Barnet Council have redacted most of the names, so it is difficult to see who was informed, however it is clear that local councillors raised no written objections prior to the fiasco and only Councillor Shuey Gordon contacted them before I submitted the request. Here is the email fromthe Council informing me that they had information. Some has been withheld, so clearly we can only guess what that said. They have claimed this was to protect the identity of junior staff.

Barnet Council Response to ... by Roger Tichborne

When we actually look at the information, for me the key exchange is on page 49, where Barnet Council raise no objections to the closure of Pike Road on the 17th March (see screen shot at top of page and in document). The previous council administration tried very hard to pin the blame on TFL, but as you can see from the documents, the evidence is there in black and white that Barnet Council were consulted and raised no objections. 

It is worth having a read through these documents. It is clear to me that the impact on local people was totally ignored. It also seems pretty clear, that unless Barnet Council have inexplicably withheld emails from the former Hale and Edgware Councillors, they did not say a peep. I am happy to give them a right to reply. The bottom line is that the former administration let the people of Edgware and Mill Hill down and the evidence is here in Black and White. This is not a political point, it is a criticism of the bureaucracy and culture in Barnet Council and local people should know that the claims of working on their behalf are not supported by the evidence. Should anyone be prepared to supply any further ( ( (redacted if necessary) emails, I'll happily update this blog accordingly.  

Pike Road Closure Documents by Roger Tichborne on Scribd

I started writing this blog not to score political points, but to make sure local people were properly informed as to what is happening in our local community. I have to laugh at how Barnet say they have redacted names of junior staff, when the title below their namer says "Senior".  I understand that no one wants to be associated with a complete cock up like this, but some of these people have large salaries and should be held to account.

Monday 13 June 2022

Five questions that need to be answered about the UK Governments Rwanda Asylum policy

The lead story in the news is the Rwanda deportation policy. Apparently the first plane will leave tomorrow. Lets put aside the rights and wrongs of the policy for one second and just ask ourselves "Does this policy have any realistic prospect of doing what the government claims it will do?" The government claims that it will deter people from giving money to people smugglers and stop people even trying to enter the UK. The more I think about this, the less I see any chance of this working. I have five questions that Priti Patel and Boris Johnson have to answer.

1. Given that miniscule numbers of people will actually be sent to Rwanda, compared to the numbers entering the UK, why would any Asylum seeker not just see this as another risk and a far smaller one than crossing the channel?

2. Why does the Government believe that people seeking to enter the will think the policy will apply to them, when the people smuggling gangs will say "No, that won't apply to you and they are sending tiny numbers of people to Rwanda"? Most Asylum seekers don't read the Daily Mail before they get to the UK so the likelyhood that they will be deterred is tiny.

3. Is being put up in a luxury hotel in Rwanda at the expense of the British Government really a deterrent?  If people are prepared to risk death crossing the channel in a dingy, will they really be that put off the journey by the prospect of an all expenses paid holiday in Rwanda. The New tonight has been showing Government propoganda that claims the accomodation is wonderful and is in hotels that holidaymakers use. Furthermore the board and lodgings will be paid for by the Government. If you buy the hard right view that all asylum seekers are lazy spongers, will the concept of a free, very long holiday really be a deterrent.

4. If the Rwanda deportee's catch malaria whilst in the care of the British government, who will pick up the bill for the treatment and will the government run the risk of lawsuits for gross negligence? Rwanda is a malaria area. As the UK government has sent the person there against their will, presumably the government has a duty of care to them and if they fail in this and the person gets Malaria, which can be a life long disease, then it is corporate gross negligence and could cost the government millions for every person infected.

5. Will the allocation of people to Rwanda be a fair and inclusive process? Who get sent? If the selection criteria for sending people to Rwanda is unfair and it discriminates against specific ethnic/religious groups, then it will fall foul of the UK's equality laws and the government will find itself liable for claims.

I'm not a lawyer, but it is clear to me that when the deportee's lawyers get their teeth into the the policy it could cost hundreds of millions, if significant numbers of people are deported. If only a token few are deported, then the people smugglers and the asylum seeking migrants will simply price the risk into the process. It will make them far more likely to simply disappear. If the right wing view that people come to the UK for the benefits was true, then the all expenses paid holiday in Rwanda is hardly likely to deter anyone. If the reality of the accomodation in Rwanda is that it is a hellhole, then sooner or later the government will end up facing massive claims. The government can't have it both ways, the accomodation is either so good that word will get around that it's cushy and if their narrative is to be believed even more people will come here, or they've lied and it will be awful and when this is exposed, they will have to pay a fortune in compensation.  Sooner or later, someone who has been deported will die of a condition they've acquired in Rwanda. At that point, the government will start to face serious legals.

My suspicion is that not only will it deter no one, but in the fullness of time it will cost the UK billions. I believe that when the full scale of legal minefield has been recognised, Boris Johnson will be long gone from No 10 and whoever replaced Johnson and Patel with have a whole can, if not a bucketload of worms on their plate. 

Quite apart from all of the above arguments, which I hope any serious and fair person of any political persuasion should consider, I must add that I personally find the policy repugnante and repulsive, but most of all it has more in with the mass deportations that we saw in the 20th century by some of the most vile regimes on both the right and left, than it has to do with 21st century Britain. Unless of course you believe that Britain would be better off as a quasi fascist state. I will take this  opportunity to remind my readers that I lfet the Labour Party in 2009 over their despicable policy of support for the French Riot Police when they shut Sangatte Refugee Camp with brutal force. Alan Johnson, then the Labour Home Secretary claimed that this would help stop illegal immigration. It hasn't and this new policy will be no more effective. 

The Mill Hill Music Festival 2022 - Rog's Festival Diary Day 1 - Saturday 11th June

 Ever wondered what it's like to organise a music festival. We are now in the middle of the Mill Hill Music Festival. Saturday saw the opening night at the Adam and Eve pub in Mill Hill. I always share my studio diary with my friends who read the blog. I find it useful to record the events, so that when we organise the next one, I have a reference and a checklist. We've spent a year planning the festival. The first meeting was about a year ago. The first meeting is a fairly informal "Shall we do it and what would we like to put on". We then have another meeting in September to firm up our ideas, work out when, which venues we want and which artists we want to use. This is firmed up. As we moved into 2022, the meetings move from strategic to logistic. It seems strange to think that we were planning the festival with the spectre of the pandemic hanging over us. It really was touch and go as to whether we proceeded, especially when news of the Omicron wave hit. Our logic was along the lines that if we didn't do it this year, we may never. At Easter, we published the line up and printed the brochures. Almost immediately disaster struck. We had booked Joe Angel for the opening night. Joe is an amazing Reggae artist and is loved by the festival fans. Sadly he had to withdraw. I am lucky that being in the music industry, I have a stack of mates who can step up and do me a favour and we were lucky to get Alan Warner of the Foundations to take the slot. Alan is an old mate and it was a pleasure. Alan suggested that I got my band, The False Dots to support them, which I hadn't thought of, but we share lots of mutual friends so it worked very well. 

Saturday started with me picking up a van that was kindly lent to us by Mill Hill's most amazing Kitchen Design Company, Kitchens with Elegance. The festival only manages to run because wonderful folk like Paul and Mary from KWE kindly do this, meaning our costs are minimal. I had an early start at the studios as we had Rockschool Exams. This is an important part of our business, so I have to be around when they are setting up. Once they were in, we visited our storage garage and retrieved swinging signs that we use to advertise the festival. Once these were in place, I went home, walked the dogs, had lunch and got a haircut (need to look my best for a show!). I then tried to have an hour's downtime, but the phone went. At 5pm, I drove to the studios and collected the stage, the PA system, the lights and the backline. It was a quick schlepp up the hill to The Adam and Eve and then build the stage, set up the PA, lights and backline and wait for the bands. 

We had a bit of a hiccup. My band were meant to help me set up, but our bassplayer Fil had a recording and Graham had issues at his flat to sort out. They both arrived at 8pm, we were meant to start at 8.30pm.

Bang on the dot, we kicked off. We had wondered how many people would turn up, but by the time we started playing, the pub was pretty busy and the crowd enjoyed our set. We played for 40 minutes and then cleared the stage for the Alan Warner Band. It was a first for me. I've never been the lead singer in the band before, always doing guitar and backing vocals. I quite enjoyed it!

I was doing the sound for them. By the end of their first set, the whole pub was boogie'ing. There were probably 150-200 people there which was an excellent crowd for the first night. We were lucky that it was a beautiful day and the garden was packed as well. 

At then end, there was a real community effort to help us get the gear out ASAP. As well as Dan, Stephen and Gerry from the Festival, a special thanks to Lizzie, Brian, Paul L, Ian McGreevy and Umary, who helped us load. Thanks also to the staff at the Adam and Eve who were wonderful and ensured we had everything we needed. 

It was a marvellouys first night. I got home, had a sandwich, walked the dogs and was tucked up in bed by 1pm. I was absolutely shattered yesterday though. I'm really out of practice doing this!

Here is a song from my band. A rather bluesy number, I hope you like it. 

Sunday 12 June 2022

The tweets of the week in the London borough of Barnet - 12th June 2022

 How has your week been? Mine has been hectic beyond belief! We started the Mill Hill Music Festival, we had a mass of equipment to check following the Jubilee festivities that had been on hire, I had to play five a side football, have a rehearsal for our bands performance last night, and I caught up with an old friend from Primary school who I last saw when I was eleven for a pint at The Claddagh Ring. As the Good Lord recommeded, on the seventh day I rested, well I did one I unloaded the van, took the dogs for a walk and did the Sunday shopping. The highlight of my week was doing my first gig with The False Dots since 13th December 2019, here is a brief clip for those who are interested.

More to the point, what have our local tweeters been up to? Here's my pick of the fun

1. Lets start with the roadworks on the A41

2. Fun in Cricklewood in 1922, it's changed a bit

3. A date for your diary

4. Are you a bloke? Live in Finchley? Wanna join a club?

5. Fun in Barnet

6. Air crash at Hendon!

7. Love a bit of local music history

8. This!

9. and this

10. And finally

That's all folks!

Saturday 11 June 2022

The Saturday List #351 - My top ten favourite album tracks

 We all have our favourite singles by bands. But for many of us, the tracks we really love are the more obscure album tracks that didn't have the immediate bite of the single, but had depth and for those of us who like to whack up the stereo and turn down the lights are the real gems that the casual fans miss out on. 

1. EMI - The Sex Pistols.  Their hand grenade tossed at EMI as a parting shot for being dropped. I think it is probably my favourite Pistols track. I loved the fact that the Pistols did not take their sacking lying down and stuck their fingers up at their old label in a song. 

2. I wanna be loved  - The Heartbreakers. A slice of punk energy from the seminal LAMF album. This is possibly my favourite 77 punk album. Panned by the critics for being 'bad mixes', to me it is pur energy and this is the best track. I love Jerry Nolans amazing drumming on the number.  This track reminds me of when I was at Orange Hill school and my parents had gone on holiday, giving me the opportunity to invite my girfriend around. I only had two punk albums, so I played LAMF six times in a row. When I play this I always fondly recall that. 

3. Into The Future  - The Vibrators. The opening track of Puremania. An absolute classic. It is a rtack that really doesn't sound like any other. Knox at his best, sarcastic, funny and rocking. This was the first Punk Rock album I bought and this was the first track I ever played at home. I waited until my parents were out and cranked up the stereo as loud as it would go. It was amazing. I'm not sure the neighbours agreed.

4. Doesn't make it alright - The Specials. Every song on the Specials first album is a classic, but to me this is the stand out track, for its melancholic tone and message. A masterpiece that is often overlooked for the more frenetic and well known songs. I went to see the Specials supporting the Damned and The UK Subs. I'd not really heard of the Specials. As they came on, I was about to take a sip of beer. They transfixed me for their whole set and it was only when they went off that I finally moved the glass to my lips. They blew me away. I loved the Subs, but I can't remember their set at all, as I was so blown away by The Specials.

5. Janie Jones - The Clash. The first Clash album is a classic and Janie Jones is the opening track. Depending on my mood, it may be my favourite track by the band. This may be influenced by the fact that Janie Jones was briefly my next door neighbour.  Just a great blast of Punk Rock. My abiding memory of this is a strange one. In about 1989, I was working for TSB and they were sponsors for the London Marathon. I had an entry pass. I was determined to do the course in under 3 hours. I set about serious training and was bang on schedule. I bought a Sony walkman so I could get a musical soundtrack. I found that The Clash was the perfect running music on repeat. I reckoned I'd do it. Six weeks before, I was crossing the road in Burnt Oak to get cash from a cashpoint and I got hit by a car. A broken Fibia ended that dream. The song reminds me of the pain of doing fartlek runs up Hammers Hill, pain and gain. Perhaps it was a metaphor for my view of punk, total commitment and a painful and disappointing end.

6. Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma -  The Steve Miller Band. So my first five picks are from the late 70's Punk/Ska era. We gop back to the start of the decade and a track from The Joker. This was the album that broke the Steve Miller Band. Whilst everyone knows the title track and monster hit, this is to my mind by far the best track. The Bass guitar playing by Gerald Johnson is sublime. What an album track should be. This song reminds me of babysitting my brothers kids when I was a teenager. He had an amazing collection of old hippy music. I got into Steve Miller then. He'd leave me a bottle of cider and I'd often ask my mates around. Luckily his kids were usually pretty good and went off to sleep.

7. Rock Coast Blues - Country Joe and The Fish. In September 1981, I moved to Stockholm. The first thing I did was visit a record shop. The first album I bought was I feel like I'm fixing to die by Country Joe and The Fish. I took it back to my girlfriends, who thought a had come to stay and was horrified when I stuck this blast of Hippydom on the turntable as my first act. This track jumped out at me. To pacify her, I wrote her a song, which needless to say she hated. When I finally left Stockholm, I took a bus to Gothenburg, which was a drive seemingly through endless pine forests, covered in snow. The scenery was magical. I always am transported back to then when I hear this. I'd got into Country Joe through my brothers record collection, but he didn't have this one.

8. Everything I've got belongs to you - Ed Kuepper. When Today Wonder was released, the NME said it was the best album released in 1990. It may be the best album released in the decade. My wife says this track sums me up and I should sing a cover. It is a love song by a very flawed character. I suspect she'll play this at my funeral (this or glad to see you go by The Ramones).

9. I'm Stuck in a Pagoda with Tricia Toyota - The Dickies. The Dickies are possibly the best live band still running, since the demise of the Ramones. Always brilliant. This album is wonderful and this is the best track. Should have been a single. My memory of this was being back at Orange Hill School and going on a field trip to Millport in Scotland. We had to share rooms. My teacher made me share with a guy who some of the lads thought was gay. Bear in mind this was 1980 and attitudes weren't so liberal. His logic was that no one would wind me up about it. I didn't know the guy as we hadn't been friends. He was a very nevous chap, never had ridden a bike and was extreemly quiet. To get around the island, we needed to ride a bike. This poor chap was stuck in a room with a punk rock hooligan, who had only done biology to get a free holiday. I'd brought a cassette player and a stack of tapes. I explained that I liked to play punk rock loud and asked if it was a problem and he said "No". The first job was to get him to ride a bike. The next was to get him down the pub. This was full of hard Glasweigan workers on holiday. I was pretty good at Pool, so we started to play them at doubles. The chap had never been in a pub or played pool. To my amazement, he was rather good at it. After a couple of days, I realised that I'd not been terribly nice to him. He was Ok, just painfully shy. I said "I'm really sorry, I've not asked you if you wanted to play any music". I was expecting to have to endure some dire pop. He replied "No, I'm loving your music". I then wrote a list of every track and explained at length who the bands were. As we chatted, he suddenly said "Everyone thinks I'm gay but I'm not".  I said "Why do you care what people think, be yourself". He then explained he'd had a nervous breakdown and was really struggling just getting through the day. I was horrified. I asked if it was because of me and was I upsetting him. He told me that he was fine with, but he was dreading going home. He said that I'd treated him the same as I treated everyone else and he appreciated the fact that I didn't exclude him. About ten years after I left school, I met him at a punk gig, with a stunning French girl who was his girlfriend. He was a successful antiques dealer. He was still painfully shy, but had developed a good sense of humour. We had a good chat. He said to his girlfriend "It's all his fault. He insisted on playing "I'm stuck in a pagoda with Tricia Toyota on a loop until I liked it!". I didn't remember it like that, but I always think of him when I hear it. It is a wonderful song.

10. Bitch - The Rolling Stones. For me, this was the stand out song on Sticky Fingers, which is my fave Stones album. When I was about nine, I'd play my sister Val's copy all day on our stereo at home. I love the chunky riff. I recall a conversation in the pub with some muso mates when I was about 18 and they asked what was my favoruite Stones track. When I said Bitch, they all just stared at me and thought I was showing off. Then one said "How can you say it's better than Brown Sugar?". I replied "It's got a far better groove to it".