Tuesday 30 August 2022

Plus ca change! - A few random local memories

Many things have changed locally. The shops, the pubs even the churches have come and gone! Over the years, the local music scene has also changed. When I started my band, locally we had all manner of festivals that have long since disappeared. We also had a thriving culture of benefit gigs. Things seem very different now.

Lets  start with a little picture of Station Road Mill Hill in 1995.  If you click here, you'll see how it looks now!

What interested me is that every single business in this picture has been replaced. Thinks move on. 

Mill Hill Scenes

In 1994, Mill Hill lost a landmark. The Sacred Heart Church was redeveloped. My mum took this picture in the middle of the works

Mill Hill Scenes

Another Mill Hill Landmark was the three Hammers. It was completely renovated about 20 years ago and has never been the same since. This was taken about 1995, when the main entrance was still opposite the bus stop

Mill Hill Scenes

Then there is our local music culture. My band has played all sorts of weird and wonderful local gigs over the years. Here's a little tour of the best bits of memorabilia. 

Back in 1984, my band, the False Dots had a residency at the Bald Faced Stag. One of the gigs we did, we did as a benefit for the Greenham Common protest. For many who know the Stag, this may seem a bit incongrous, but it was a great night.


A video was made and to our excitement, this was reviewed by the Edgware and Mill Hill Times. I was so thrilled, I saved it in my scrapbook.

Press clippings

Another regular gig of ours was the Grahame Park Festival. This was taken in 1984. We had a dep bassist. A friend of mine's Dad was the organiser, although I don't recall if I knew at the time. It was always fun. You can see half of me and my guitar!. In 1984, it was raining so was indoors. 

Grahame Park Festival 1984. - Doug Witney, Venessa, Bill, Chris Potts and the edge of my guitar

In 1986 the weather was better and we played in the open air.  I dug the white suit and the shades out! It was a glorious day as I recall.

Grahame Park Festival 1986

We also did a free concert in Montrose Park in 1984. It was the fairwell gig for that line up. Three weeks later I suffered a burst ulcer and nearly died. The gig was fun though. The support band featured one Mr Steve Pankhurst, who went on to make millions as the founder of Friends Reunited and I still see at football at Hadley FC. I can't recall what the surprise or two were.
Montrose Festival 1984


The band played a lot of benefit gigs,  in 1980, we played a CND benefit gig in 1980 at Harwood Hall in Mill Hill

Here's the letter of thanks we got!


But perhaps the biggest change in our locality was the coming of the M1. My Dad took this picture of the concrete being laid at the back of Millway in 1965

Mill Hill Scenes

Sunday 28 August 2022

The tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet 28th August 2022

 The summer is winding towards it's concusion, next week the kids will be back at school. I've had a busy week, my 60th Birthday, a visit to Rye and my first footie match of the season at Hadley FC. I'd recommend Rye for a short break, very pleasant place and not too far

Anyway, what have our local tweeters been up to? Here is my pick

1. Let's start with some beauty and traquilty in Edgware

2. And if you've ever wondered what goes on in Mosque's?

3. Some nice piccies of a Finchley Landmark

4. And on the subject of nice pictures

5. Hats off to Mr Chaimberlain, wonderful

6. Well done Joe, lovely picture of Cricklewood

7. Don's leading the way on beating the cost of living crisis! Grow your own

8. A date for your diary

9. And another!

10. Can't wait! One of our local superstars

That's all folks

Saturday 27 August 2022

The Saturday List #357 - The complete list of eateries on Mill Hill Broadway and the financial institutions they replaced and some Mill Hill History

Over the last few years, Mill Hill Broadway has seen a huge number of new caafe's, restaurants and bars. I was discussing this with a friend. I commented that at one point in the 1980's there were fourteen financial institutions on the Broadway. Now there are none, as Nationwide Building society are departing. So lest start with the departed financial institutions. Back in 2009, Audrey Shaw provided a wonderful guest blog, which I updated when she passed away in April 2020. I added pictures of every building in the Broadway in 2020, in the middle of lockdown and some older ones. 

By 2009, the number had declined to 7, the likes of Yorkshire Building Society, Chelsea Builiding Society and five others that I simply can't recall at all had disappeared without trace! Many of the shops that we assumed would always be features of the Broadway are now distant and somewhat anachronistic memories

Mill Hill Scenes

21 Barclays Bank Ltd
33 Halifax Bdg Soc.
35 Post Office
45 Santander Bank
73/75 H.S B C Bank
125/127 Lloyds T S B
46 Nationwide Bdg Soc

So on to the restaurants/bars etc. There are 28!

We have

North Side of the Broadway

9 The Bridge Tavern
19 Costa Coffee
23 Mill and Brew
27  Koi
45 Joice
51 Simple 
57 Bluebelles
67 Kiyoto
73/75 Food Bank
77 Moroccan Cafe
81 BAW
97/101 Prezzo
103 La Rada
105 Yummies
111 Pizza Hut
113 Gourmet Grill
119 Ananans
123 Hudsons (recently closed)
127 Domino's Pizza
143 The Good Earth

South Side

2 The Mill Hill Tandoori
8/10 Numa
20 Mani and Nicks
26 Broadway Cafe
40 The Pizza People
88 Gails Bakery
90 Yogopink
92 Pizza Express

In Audrey's list from 1959 we had a few less!

North Side
109 White Heather Restaurant
143 The Hunters Horn Restaurant

South Side
2 The New Cafe

There is a picture of the New Cafe on the Wonderful Mempics site

Whilst we are doing nostalgia and the Broadway in the 1950's, there are some nice shots of Mill Hill in this film, well worth a watch. 

At 1.17, there are some nice shots of the junction of Newcombe Park and Lawrence Court and a great film of a trip up the broadway 8.46.

I nipped around the corner, here are some comparison shots today and in 1956. 

Have a great Saturday!

Friday 26 August 2022

The Friday Joke and some random thoughts

 I am endebted to our old friend Captain Sensible for today's jem!

Why did the tomato go out with a prune?
Because it couldn’t find a date. 😬

I love a good joke! But I prefer a bad one!

As I said in the title, as well as the joke, I am sharing a few random thoughts. I spent yesterday afternoon in the clinic at Finchley memorial hospital getting my ankle checked out. There was a suspicion that I had a fracture, although the X-Rays showed it was a soft tissue injury. I was there for a total of three hours. Sitting in reception gives you a great opportunity to think about life. It is a fascinating place to do some people watching. It is interesting to see how the level of irateness at the people waiting to be seen is inversely proportion to how bad they actually looked (yes I know never judge a book by its cover). I'm quite happy for people with young children to jump the queue, as much for selfish reasons as compassion. I don't really get people who have a problem with someone with greater need jumping the queue. My ankle wasn't going to kill me and I could cope with the pain, I suspect certain moaning minnies were in the same position as me. The little boy who was suspected of having a broken arm was welcome to jump to the front. 

I took a newspaper, which accounted for the first hour. I recall when the Guardian had great writers and interesting articles. Now there is almost nothing to read in it of interest. As regular readers will know, I've bought the Guardian and the Express for most of my adult life. There was a time when the Guardian had writers like Simon Hoggart, Martin Walker, Robin Denslow, Kevin McCarra etc. Normally I skim it and read the articles that I deem interesting. Yesterday I read the whole thing. I found it to be a rather dull experience. Although I am deeply critical of their politics, I actually find the Express to generally be more interesting these days. I've always preferred tabloid football coverage, but a couple of the features articles were far more interesting than anything in the Guardian. I saw a tweet that Express journalists are going on strike of more cash, which is quite ironic (if it's true)

I'm almost tempted to join their picket line! 

How did you sleep? I normally sleep like a log, but I could hardly sleep at all. I was suffering high anxiety. The weird thing was that there was no focus, I just felt really uneasy.  It may have been due to watching the excellent film "The Railway Man".  My father had friends who worked (and died) working on the Burma railway. It is one of the better films I've seen of late. Lately I prefer films that actually make you think than are just visual overstimulation. 

It's a funny old world isn't it?

Thursday 25 August 2022

What the government could do to lower the bills of those in social housing

Before I get stuck in to the beef of this, happy belated Birthday to me. I was 60 on Monday. For me, a few bills have gone down. A whole new world has opened up for me. I'm getting an over 60's Travelcard, so I can roam London for free. I'm estimating that this will save me £2-300 a year. I went to Hever Castle with the family yesterday and got £2 off the entry price. What could be better. This being an OAP lark will save me a fortune..........

Well that's the theory. Sadly, there is more to it than that. We have a cost of living crisis. This morning I had plums and pears from the garden in my Porridge. It's that time of year. They were tasty. Nothing better than picking your own fruit and eating it straight from the tree. But soon the last of the summer plums will have gone and the fruit will need to come from the supermarjet, the nights will get darker, the lights will go on. The weather will chill, the radiators will go on. The bills will start to roll in. Come October, the energy price cap will be raised. My first proper day job in IT in 1983 paid me £6,000 a year.  The stories lead us to believe we could be paying this sum simply to light the house and keep warm. It will hit us a bit less hard than some. In 2017, we installed solar panels. Apparently these make us 23% self sufficient in energy. 

We paid £7,500 for the system. We get a feed in tariff of 4p per Kilowatt, so I've got about £1,000 back in payments.  If our electricty bill had averaged £1600 a year in this period, I've saved about £1,500 so far. So in around 4.5 years, I've got £2,500 back for my investment. It would take me 13.5 years at this rate to get my money back. However, if the price goes up as predicted. then that period will be done in 3.5 years. We have slowly been doing other things to be more energy efficient, last year we got new double glazing etc.  To some extent we will be cushioned. We are lucky. To me, the panels were an insurance policy. A bit like taking out a fixed price mortgage (oh yes, ours expires next year). It may cost you more, but if things go crazy at least you have a chance. 

I mention all of this because it gives you some idea of what I believe the UK should be doing. The people at the bottom of the pile tend to be in social housing. Unlike me, they can't afford to invest in solar panels and top qulaity double glazing. I've long campaigned for social housing to have proper measures taken to lower bills. If every person in social housing had a home that was properly insulated and had solar panels, this would do four very good things. It would massively reduce the bills for the people who need the money. If the council kept the feed in tariff, it would give them a long term revenue stream. It would reduce our dependence on foreign fuels and it would lower the carbon footprint of the UK. This should have been government policy for a very long time. It is scandalous that it isn't. 

The difference between private property owners and councils is that the councils should be able to take a long term view. It is time they did. 

Monday 22 August 2022

Happy Birthday to me - The big 6-0 arrives

 So I woke up this morning to find myself in a new decade of existence. How do I feel? Pretty much the same as I did yesterday. But such events do stir a bit of reflection as we go as we get older. What have we achieved? What are our regrets? What could we have done better? I've never really been one for looking back, but seeing many old friends and family on Friday night, many for the first time since lockdown at our Bohemia gig has made me far more nostalgic than I can remember. 

I thought of my Dad. He was 60 in 1977. He lasted another ten years. In 1977, he was pretty much still at the top of his game. He was a very larger than life character in every way. I was 15. It didn't occur to me that he was mortal and my time with him was limited. I have few regrets, but a big one is that I didn't really appreciate him at the time and I fought and rowed with him non stop. I see his perspective on this now, as I have kids of my own. Here's a video I made a few years ago to commemorate him.

I also thought of my Mum. She was 60 in 1985. Like Dad she was on very good form. She'd overcome a serious encounter with cancer that blighted  most of the 1970's, but she'd had the all clear for ten years. In 1985, as best I recall my parents had four holidays. My mum was very young for her age until she was 75 and had a stroke, when she aged 20 years in a second. I think that like her I've worn well. If I had the choice between her fate, living until 83 but with seven years of a miserable decline and my fathers, going bang aged 69, I know which I'd choose although I suspect my kids may (or may not disagree). My Dad made few concessions to life, only stopping smoking 18 months before he passed away. He had a gall bladder operation and couldn't smoke for two weeks. He realised that he didn't miss the 60 a day he'd been puffing. Sadly the damage was done to his heart, unbeknown to us. 

I also have been thinking of friends who haven't made it. On Friday, I thought long and hard about Paul Hircombe, long time bass player in the False Dots. Paul's life spiralled out of control in his 40's ending up in prison. The period of reflection made him reset his priorities, but he developed cancer and died more or less straight away on his release. It was tragic. I don't think I'd ever have persisted with the band or music without his support. Paul was a brilliant musician and in the ealry years, I sometimes felt (incorrectly as it has turned out) that he was the only musician who believed in me. When the False Dots had a split in 1983, Paul stayed with me, rather than joining a project the rest of the band wanted to set up. When we had the 'big meeting', the other members were amazed when Paul chose to stay in the Dots. I was even more so as they were amazing musicians. A few years later, I plucked up the courage to ask Paul why he made the choice. His response amazed me. He said "It was never in doubt, they never had a decent song between the lot of them and they were a bunch of boring ******". Within six months we had a new and better than ever line up, so he saw something I didn't know was there. It was a great lesson, stick by your friends and don't be tempted by two faced people's lies. 

Then there was Ernie Ferebee, my partner at the studio from 1984 to 2001. Ernie was ten years older than me and a force of nature. We took the studio from a ramshackle setup, serving our own needs to a proper commercial set up that made money. That was only a tiny bit of the picture. Ernie was our tour manager when we toured Belgium, he was a co-conspirator in many shenanigans. He'd formerly driven coaches overland to India from the UK. It is fair to say that without Ernie and Paul, I couldn't have acheived anything in music. 

Being surrounded by my friends, I realised my blessings. We've lost great people, but I have such a great group of people around me. The current members of the band Graham and Fil have been amazing, we've all supported each other through many things. I get a real kick out of playing with them. My mate Paul who lent me his van, and all the friends who turned up.

Then there is my family, How lucky am I with my wife and kids? Luckier than I deserve. My only real fear in life is that bad things may happen to them. As regular readers will know, two of my closest friends have lost children to suicide. This would destroy me. I've done my best to support them, but the thought fills me with terror. My brothers and sisters also deserve a shout out. Without there support the studio would not have survived. I'm proud at how we stick together.

But as I said, I'm not overly prone to nostalgia. This morning, I applied for an over 60's Oyster card. This opens up a whole new set of opportunities. I go out a lot, so it may even go some way to offsetting the costs of the energy crisis. Then there is the blog. It has changed over the last 15 years. My primary reasons for writing it, to end the Capita outsourcing project seems to have been completed. Sadly I failed to stop the disasterous scheme at the start, but by constantly highlighting the failings, I believe I've played a role in making local people see sense. The blog will continue as long as I have something to say.

I also have plans for the band. We've got a whole new set and we want to play it to people. Watch this space. I also have a stack of music recorded previously that we'll be releasing. There are several projects that are in hand. Of all our new songs, this one has been attracting the most attention at recent gigs. This is the Burnt Oak Boogie. This is a little sneak preview. We hope you like it


Sunday 21 August 2022

The tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet - 21st August 2022

 I've had a bit of a strange week. Got back from France on Monday, four days later than I intended, as my daughter had to isolate due to French Law. Went to see one of my reggae heroes, King Yellowman at the Jazz Cafe on Tuesday. The less said the better. He had throat cancer and let's just say his voice has suffered. It was profoundly upsetting.  One Friday, I had a great evening at The Bohemia in Finchley with my band the False Dots and my great mates The Silencerz. Yesterday was spent recovering. A wonderful evening. Here is a snippet, the Burnt Oak Boogie

How was your week? This is what the esteemed Tweeters of Barnet have been up to.

1. And whilst on the subject of Burnt Oak, did you know it was once independent of Edgware?

2. This looks interesting

3. A little bit of Cricklewood history

4. Interested in local military history? A date for the diary

5. Nice mini thread here

6. We mentioned the Bohemia earlier. Why not nip along and check this out? These guys are good

7. Only at Hadley Fc, we have a drought but the first game of the season is cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch

8. Donald is always worth a follow!

9. When I heard about the Brent Cross Berach, didn't realise it was this good!

10. Sad to post, but if we catch them I'll be delighted

That's all folks!

Saturday 20 August 2022

The Saturday List #356 - Manufacturing in Mill Hill

 What do you think of when you think of Mill Hill? Leafy streets, parks, cafe's on the Broadway? It was not always thus. Mill Hill has a rather interesting history of manufacturing, which seems to get completely overlooked. Here are a few of the companies that used to make things in Mill Hill.

1. Rawlplugs. The Rawlplug factory was just off Hale Lane NW7. There is a great image of the site from the air in 1926!

2. The United Kingdom Optical Company. Carl Zeiss opened an optical works next to Mill Hill Barracks in Mill Hill East, it later became the United Kingdom Optical Company. Lens etc were produced here. It is briefly mentioned on the Barnet Council website. In 1988 the site was taken over by the Watchtower Society and is now a film studio!


3. Boat Builders. Until around 1977, there was a boat builder called "Negus Marine" operating in Bunns Lane Works. It was run by a chap called Frank Negus and his nephew Brett Dingwall. They moved to premises by the Welsh Harp, Brett now operates from Bricket Wood. They produced racing boats and their boats would feature in the Fastnet race. Brett recently wrote a fascinating article on the Fastnet disaster for Yatching Monthly

4. Kitchen furniture. Lyn Products used to be based in Bunns Lane Works, Mill Hill. They produced kitchen furniture for local authorities. The factory shut around 1992 when the owner Jack Franklyn retired. It has a small claim to fame in that the kitchen in the flat of Withnail and I was a Lyn Products kitchen. I recognised it as we had exactly the same one in our kitchen.

5. Precision Engineering. In the 1960's and 1970's, there was a precision engineering company called Blake Engineering based on what is now the Flower Lane Industrial Estate. It was run by a rather colourful chap called Norman Blake. His son David took over and they moved away. Sadly there seems to be no real records of this. There are some interesting stories, but I can't share them here.

6, Metal Fabrication. We still have a manufacturing business in Mill Hill, as our neighours on the Bunns Lane Works Industrial Estate. Barnet Welding make fences and security products. 

7. Blacksmith. Until the early 1930's, Mill Hill had a Blacksmith at the Old Forge on Highwood Hill. The family still own the property. There's some nice pictures of the Old Forge here. The Matthews Family were owners of the Forge and when The last blacksmith, Mr Matthews died he was buried in St Paul’s cemetery. An anvil commemorates this


Friday 19 August 2022

#WorldPhotographyDay - A celebration of the best pictures from the Barnet Eye

 Today is World photography day. I was thinking about how to celebrate this. I realised that this blog has a whole stack of photo's going back nearly fifteen years. I thought a selection of some of my favourites was well worth a revisit. I chose these particular pictures as I think the faces of the subjects tell a very interesting tale. I went for pictures of people rather than places, as faces tell a powerful story

This is Keith Martin at the occupation of Friern Barnet Library. The Barnet Tories tried to close the library. Keith, a retired accountant, had different ideas! Keith's face says "We shall not be moved"

This is one of our guest bloggers John Sullivan with his daughter Susan. John is a a passionate advocate of disabled rights and a man I have ultimate respect for. Susan passed away from Covid during the height of the pandemic. God bless her. If you look at Johns face, you can see the passion and sheer determination to ensure his daughter was not thrown to the lions.

This is myself with my son, my mate Boz Boorer, his Daughter Pearl and QPR legend Kevin Gallen at a pre season friendly between Borehamwood and QPR in 2019. Borehamwood won, it was a great evening with much merriment.  Football at it's best is a multi generational celebration with mates. This captures that beautifully

This was my great mate Paul last Thursday in Bartres, France, at the HCPT talent show.  This may not perhaps be the best technical picture you'll see but it captures the night so well. Paul had sat down for a chilled moment and you can see that he knows the picture will cause a bit of merriment down the line.

This is another couple of friends from the HCPT group. My good mate Chris, a fine and compassionate man, with Johnny T in La Terrace bar in Lourdes. The sinking of a Formidable is an intrinsic part of the fun. Chris is a lover of a beer and is displaying a wonderfully stoic poker face here. Johnny T is entering into the spirit, it's not actually his pint. 

This was the last picture of my Dad, with my mother and my nephew Laurence in January 1987. Three days later he had a heart attack and was gone. Theya ll look so happy. At the time I was devasated, but he went out how he wanted, without a long illness and owing  a credit card bill of £5,000 which was written off!

This picture was taken of me in December 1981, on a Tor Line ferry from Gothenberg to Felixstowe. I was contemplating my future. The band would return a month later for a tour. I wasn't really looking forward to returing to the UK.

This is Gerrard Roots, the former curator of the Church Farmhouse Museum on the day of it's closure. You can see the sheer exasperation at the stupidity of this act of cultural vandalism.

The False Dots live at the Midland Hotel in Hendon, in December 2019. The day after Boris was elected. We are all going for it. Little did we know the storm that would hit. I love pictures of Rock and roll nads in action and this is one of my favourites of the Dots. 

I love this picture. This is my two elder brothers at my mum's 80th Birthday party in 2005. She was on  good form. She'd had a stroke in 2000 and fought back to some degree of independance. It was the last big party we had for her. I miss her. It is lovely to see a smile on her face. My brother Frank is wearing my Elvis wig, which caused her much merriment

I hope you enjoyed this small selection as much as I enjoyed putting it together. 


Thursday 18 August 2022

Project 'Destroy BBC Radio London' nears completion

 Back in 2020, when lockdown was in full swing, I wrote a blog entitled "10 random thoughts about lockdown".  Point 7 was

7. We need BBC radio and television. We've had BBC Radio London on constantly, with presenters such as Robert Elms, Jo Good, Vanessa Feltz. I want to know what is happening in my City and they have been doing an amazing job keeping us informed. There are those on the right who snipe at the BBC, but when it comes down to it, the Corporation has made more great TV and radio than anything else in the history of the planet. Anyone who can't see that is quite plainly an idiot.
Who's the idiot now? I would have taken a bullet to defend my local radio station. In hindsight, I realise I sould have included Garry Crowley, Eddie Nestor and Carrie and David Grant in the list (although to be fair to me, Carrie and David hadn't been doing the show very long then). 

In the next week, we'll see the departure of Vanessa Feltz. Robert Elms has lost his weekday show, having been shunted to inconvenient weekend times and Jo Good has been shunted off to the late night graveyard slot, at a time when I simply don't listen to radio. Eddie Nestor, who was a brilliant drive time presenter, has been stuck on the Robert Elms slot. I like Eddie, even though he banned me from the show, but he's a million times better on drivetime. Robert Elms has an encyclopedic knowledge of London culture, a stack of music contacts and the show had a whole raft of well loved slots, most of which informed us about our city. Slots such as the Listed Londoner and Notes and Queries helped me learn so much about our city. N&Q is only on every other week and is two or three queries. The listed Londoner is on a Sunday at a time that most people are doing their Sunday stuff and not listening to the radio. The show is on at different times on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so I'm still not 100% sure when its on.  Eddie's show simply hasn't done anything to inform listeners about the art and culture of London. It is very similar to LBC and James O'Brien already does a great job as a phone in host in that slot. My beef with the demise of the Elms weekly show was never about the people as much as the removal of a vital platform for London artists and as a conduit for sharing information about London's cultural life. Eddie has had a simply appalling playlist thrust upon him and we no longer have artists on the show on a daily basis, both new and established, informing us of shows etc. To me this is a criminal act of cultural vandalism by BBC management. 

I get the fact that the BBC should bring through new presenters and cater for London's wider cultural audience, but the fact that they have struggled to replace Jo, with the chosen aire to that throne deaprting after no time at all and Jomoke having to be parachuted in to save the slot says it all. Eddie's old slot, the drivetime show has inexplicably largely been replaced by a London Sports show, that is a complete waste of the spot. I love sport almost as much as music, but Eddie was great at capturin g the Zeitgiest of London commuting. If you are stuck in traffic on the way home and you want to know the news, listening to an interview with the Dagenham and Redbridge manager is not what you want to listen to. If you do, there is talksport. 

And then there is the departure of Vanessa. The sad truth for BBC radio London is that Vanessa is the best in the business at that sort of show. For years they had Danny Baker, who did an excellent show. After he slung his hook, it wasn't until Vanessa was moved to the earlier slot that they really got it right. What I've found interesting is that when Eddie Nestor stood in for her, he sounded as if he'd not enjoyed listening to the alarm clock going off at 4am for work. Eddie is better on drivetime when he's wolken up. 

I get that they have to change things and freshen things up, but the new formats are clueless. BBC Radio London should be primarily about life in London. It should focus on London arts and culture in the mid morning and early afternoon slots. They should not play bland AOR playlist music. They should be playing quality music with a London association, that you don't hear elsewhere. They should be giving artists a platform and promoting plays, art exhibitions and the joys of London. For the morning and evening commuter slots, they need proper presenters who can hit hard. There are plenty of slots for new presenters to hone their skills. What amuses me is that the BBC managers clearly want to have more 'edgy' presenters, but the managment are very white and middle class. What they don't seem to get is that presenters like Robert Elms don't need to be edgy to get great guests, who are at the cutting edge of music. Elms was the first to play Amy Winehouse. Who will be the presenter to champion the next Amy? I'm sure that Eddie Nestor would love to but he's lumbered playing Fleetwood Mac and Adele from the playlist. 

I have wondered if there is a conspiracy to run the station down, so the BBC can say it is not worth funding. Personally, I'd like to see a new generation of management, who instead of managing decline, make a compelling case for giving the corporation more money. The BBC is at the heart of the UK's culture and it is why we lead the world in arts and culture. We have a culture secretary who simply doesn't understand this. We need people who can cut through the BS and make the case and that can only be done with amazing content.  When it comes down to it, it's content that matters. The quality of the content on the station has markedly deteriorated since I wrote that paragraph two years ago. If I was responsible for presiding over that as a manager, I'd be ashamed to show my face. 


Tuesday 16 August 2022

Is football a 'mans game'?

 Grahame Souness has got himself into trouble over his comment that "Football is a mans game" in response to a couple of blokes behaving like twats during the Chelsea vs Spurs game (ironicaly this sort of behaviour is referred to as handbags at dawn as generally footballers are notoriously useless at fighting, with a few exceptions). Like many people who were born and raised before the current era, Mr Souness has fallen foul of the current norms of what you can and can't say.

Not everyone was very happy

There are two ways of looking at this. It seems you either think "Grahame Souness is the latest victim of all this woke nonsense" or you think "Grahame Souness is a long time media pundit who really should know better". I have to admit I'm slightly conflicted about this one. Firstly, Souness is a pundit and claiming Football is a 'Mans Game' after the women brought home the first major football trophy to England after over 50 years is a prime example of stupidity, especially when sat next to a female footballer. Englands womens team won the European Championship trophy in front of the largest crowd to watch a match in the modern era in England. Football is demonstrably not a mans game. 

However, I've played football all my life and I still do. My position of preference is to play as a centre back and I am noted for my crunching tackles. My mates have long said "you can get the ball or the man around Rog but not both". Many a shrinking violet centre forward has ended up writhing in agony on the floor following a crunching tackle, seeking sympathy from the ref. My rebuke was usually to laugh and say "Hey ref, tell him it's a mans game". 

However there is a lot of difference between a bit of sledging on a football field of a stricken opponent, in the heat of a game, who is play acting to try and get you a card and bloke who is paid a small fortune to provide expert views to a large TV audience many of which will be insulted by his comment. Over the years, I've played a lot of football and also done a lot of TV and Radio work. I've probably never completed 90 minutes on a football field without using an expletive or two. But I've never, even casually, let an expletive slip on air. The thing about Mr Souness's comments is that they are not on the pitch or in the pub with his mates. If he was having a pint with his mates and someone overheard him, then I'd be on his side. If he's paid to do a job on telly, where ever more female players are taking an interest it is completely unacceptable, especially when sitting next to one of them. 

Football is not a mans game. Boys and girls play it. Men, women and those who wish not to declare play it. Hoping that a pundit being paid a decent amoung for their opinions show some respect to their audience is not 'woke'. It is simply doing your job properly and showing respect to your audience. Is that too much to ask?

Saturday 13 August 2022

The Saturday list (that isn’t a list) - My best friends


What is a friend? I was originally going to make a long list of my best friends and say why I thought they were such marvellous individuals. I realised this was a silly idea. How crass it would’ve been. How can you rank friends? How can you really say that the friend who is there and supports you in your darkest hour is really a better friend than one who couldn’t as they were on the other side of the world at the time? What I realised as I contemplated the list was just how blessed I am to have friends who step up when they see the need. Not everyone has the same talents. The friend who dries your crying eyes has a different talent to the one who makes you laugh and smile. The one who gets out of bed at 4am to drive you to rescue your mother in law from a dire situation is different to the friend who on his deathbed says ‘thanks for the craic, it was a blast Rog’ ands makes you well up uncontrollably. 

I’ve spent the week in France with two of my best friends. One lives around the corner and I’ve seen regularly, one lives in Yorkshire and I’ve not seen since Xmas. They’ve gone home, I’m here till Monday. The good Lord has showered me with many blessings in life. My friends are one of the greatest. We don’t always appreciate this, but the last week has reminded me of just how lucky I am. I’ve seen a lot of kindness among my friendships in the last two difficult years. We’ve been there for each other. It reminds me, no one is an island. Never be too proud to accept the help of friends, it makes true friends happy when they raise you on their shoulders