Sunday 30 April 2023

The tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet - 30th April 2023

 I've had a pleasant enough week, I hope you have. Here are the tweets of the week in the Borough of Barnet.

1. As soon as I saw this tweet, I knew it would be the first tweet on this list.

2. This is an excellent tweet and a nice blog

3. Mr Mark Amies at the @time_nw account is on good form this week. This is a wondeful thread

4. And whilst in Cricklewood and at the Crown.....

5. Congratulations to the Elephant Inn

6. This is a wonderful tweet and a great video. A good idea for a stroll

7. Got kids? A date for your diary

8. And another date for the diary

9. Our local football teams end of season awards, all well deserved

10 And finally....

Saturday 29 April 2023

The Saturday List #404 - Ten things I used to love but now I can't be bothered with at all

 Your tastes change as you grow up. Things you used to hate, now you love and vice versa. When I was a kid I used to hate mushrooms, now I love them. Another example is Johnny Cash, wasn't at all keen as a teenager, then I actually listened and realised the man is a genius. But then there are things that went the other way. Things I used to love, but now I really can't be bothered with at all. What prompted this was a couple of weeks ago when Barnet played Wrexham in the Conference. I used to regularly go up to Underhill and considered Barnet to be my second team. When they moved to Underhill, I lost all interest in the club. I've been a few times, but I just feel no affinity with the club. It got me thinking, what other things did I used to love, but now I simply can't be bothered with at all. 

1. Wembley Stadium. Everyone dreams of seeing their favourite team or band at Wembley, don't they? Well actually no. The last gig I saw at Wembley was David Bowie on the Glass Spider tour. It was awful. I'd seen the Rolling Stones there on the Steel Wheels tour and they were awful as well. I vowed never to see another gig there. 

As to football, as a Manchester City fan I've seen more than my fair share of games there recently.

I hate it. Most recently went to the FA Cup semi. I got charged £10.50 for chicken and chips. I think I'd rather watch a game anywhere but Wembley. It is overpriced, soulless and dour. I used to go to all of the home England games, but I've more or less given up as it such a horrible place.

2. Fosters Lager. As my Dad was an Aussie, I considered it my patriotic duty to drink as much Fosters as possible. It used to give me really bad indigestion. In 1991 I went to China for two weeks. They didn't sell Fosters. All they had was a brew call Tsing Tao, that I'd never heard of. Initially I found it disgusting, but I persevered. It tasted very yeasty and hoppy. It didn't give me indigestion. When I returned, I was really looking forward to a Fosters. When I got home and had one, I found it tasted really synthetic and bland. I've not drunk it since.

3. The Labour Party. I was a member from 1985 until 2009. I believed that it was a force for good in the UK. And then Tony Blair became PM. As PM he lied to Parliament to start a war in Iraq. Most of the problems in the middle east are a direct result of that. No matter how I look at it, I can't square off the fact that what I thought was a party that stood for the right things was directly responsible for a situation where hundreds of thousands of people died. Although they are far from perfect, I joined the Lib Dems as they opposed that. I know many Labour party activists and councillors, who are lovely people, it's no reflection on them, but I do feel the party doesn't reflect its members or voters. I think the Conservatives are worse than Labour, especially in their current incarnation, but I really can't be bothered with the Labour party. Luckily for me, a year after I left, I got a letter stating I was banned from membership, as I'd stood as a Lib Dem candidate in the 2010 council elections. Although I'd sent a letter of resignation and not paid my subs, they'd not processed the resignation, so technically I'd broken the rule forbidding members from standing for another party. When I complained, I was told that if I denounced the Lib Dems I could rejoin. It all seemed rather petty to me. 

4. Vegetarian diets. I was a vegetarian from 1984 until 2000. A friend convinced me it was the right thing for the planet and the right thing for my health. By 2000, I was so run down and had a vitamin b deficiency, which meant that my immune system wasn't working properly. My doctor even gave me an HIV test. When the problem was eventually recognised, he advised me to go to a cafe and have a big liver and bacon fry up. I did that and as I walked back to my office, my fingers and toes started to tingle. I realised that this was because my body was receiving much needed nutrients that it had been starved of for sixteen years. I now eat meat three days a week and buyt organic where possible. I have three friends who have had similar experiences. I really do not believe that a vegetarian diet works for people of Anglo Saxon origin. I think we have evolved to live in a cold climate with meat as part of our diet.

5. BBC Radio London in the week. I used to love BBC Radio London's weekday schedule. Vanessa Feltz, Robert Elms, Jo Good, Eddie Nestor was the running order. Now only Eddie remains. He was great on drivetime, he's excellent at a dynamic rolling news type program. In Robert Elms slot, it just isn't that interesting, I still listen most of the time, but it is infuriating. The station is a mess. It is not doing its job of reflecting London's art and culture. Robert is still on at the weekends, as are Carrie and David Grant and Gary Crowley, which has kept me just about listening.

6. Cornish Pasties. I used to love a nice cornish pasty. I discovered them as a child and thought they were wonderful. When I was not eating meat, I'd have a cheese and onion pasty and look longingly at the meaty version, feeling I was missing out. When I started eating meat again, pasties were one of the treats I allowed myself. However in recent years, they no longer seem to use ingredients that taste of anything. No matter how tasty and tempting they look, you pay a fiver and get a mouth full of mush. It is quite upsetting. I no longer buy them. 

7. The Stranglers. Like most North London punks, they were one of my favourite bands. Albums such as No More Heroes are classics. But then Hugh Cornwell left. I saw them at the Roundhouse a few years back. I was horrified. Musically, they were great but without Cornwells laconic snarling, it just seemed wrong. I had a similar experience with The Undertones at a gig in Clapham.

8. Sadiq Khan. When Khan initially stood against Zac Goldsmith, I was horrified by the tone of Goldsmith's campaign. I wasn't a member of any party and supported Khan. I wish I hadn't bothered. His decision to grant planning permission for the NIMR development, without adequate parking, has created an ugly monstrosity on the edge of the green belt with a parking and traffic nightmare. His ULEZ policy massively affects musicians, many of whom couldn't earn money for two years during the pandemic and rely on old vans to move gear around. 

9. Chocolate. We all love chocolate, don't we? I have the unique distinction of having starred in TV adverts for both Cadburys and Galaxy chocolate in the 1960's. Cadburys sent me a large box of huge Dairy milk bars for my efforts. My mum gave them to the Church Xmas fete. I was gutted. At some point, Cadburys was taken over by a mega corporation. They changed the recipe and the chocolate now tastes like muck. I can't recall the last time I bought a bar. In truth I don't have a sweet tooth.

10. Heinz Beans. I starred in an Advert for Heinz Beans, which won an award! The cash I got bought my first guitar, when I was old enough to get my hands on the cash. I used to love baked beans, especially when I was in my veggie phase. Beans on toast, with a bit of cheese on top was a proper treat. but like Cadburys dairy milk, they changed the recipe. Now they are too sweet and have an aftertaste. The only ones that are vaguely edible, IMHO, are the M&S cheapo budget beans, with a spoonful of curry powder in. 

Thursday 27 April 2023

Football - It's the hope that gets you in the end

 I have two major passions in my life, one is music and the other is football. 

I enjoy playing and watching both. Sometimes, the two worlds collide. Last night was a classic example. About six months ago, we bought tickets to see The Teskey Brothers. If you've not heard of them, they are an Aussie band that play music in the Style, think Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. The singer Josh Teskey is perhaps the best singer you will hear performing orginal material at the moment. When I booked the tickets, I didn't realise that the date would clash with the most improtant Premier League game my team Manchester City FC will play this season (hopefully). The match against Arsenal may well have decided the destination of the title, barring a Devon Lock style collapse by City and Arsenal rapidly discovering their faltering self belief. 

But I found myself here

I seriously thought about not going but Mrs T was having none of it. As it turned out, I watched the first half on my phone before the show started. The band were excellent and I managed to catch up. Once John Stones put the second goal in the net, just before half time, I felt the game was done.

This morning, on Facebook I saw the carnage of dreams that City had laid waste to my numerous friends who support Arsenal. Most had managed to convince themselves that the six points dropped in the previous three matches were a blip and 'The True Arsenal' would show up. Mr Kevin DeBruyne had other ideas. Now Manchester City find themselves in the driving seat. All they have to do is win every game between now and the end of the season, they will win the treble. A feat only Manchester United have managed previously. Who are the main obsticles? None other than Manchester United and Real Madrid, thirteen times winners of the Champions League. Neither of those two clubs will be sitting back thinking how nice it will be to see a very good City team finally achieve the potential that the billions invested were expected to deliver. 

For City fans, anything less will feel like failure. But the truth is that it is a terrible curse being a football fan. For nearly three decades Manchester United were the richest team in the world. They had Alex Ferguson, a legend who won the Premier League fourteen times, a total unlikely to ever be superceded (unless Pep Guardiola decides to stay at City until he can draw a pension). Every season United fans would dream of winning the European cup. Under Ferguson, despite all of the great players and all of the wealth, he won the Champions League twice (the same number of times as Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest). This is not because Ferguson is a rubbish manager, it is because it is extremely difficult. I believe that it is far harder for a Premiership team to win the ECL than for a team from the other major European leagues. If you look at Arsenal's recent run, you can see why. Before playing City they drew with both West Ham and Southampton. Both clubs are mired in a relegation struggle and Arsenal had been expected to win easily. The truth is that no one in the Premier League rolls over. When teams rest players and rotate, they often come unstuck. If key players get injured, whole seasons can be derailed. When you think about it, despite Manchester United being the best team for three decades, in only two seasons did their fans end the season feeling they'd reached their full potential. As for Pep Guardiola, universally recognised as being the best manager in the world at the moment, he's won the Champions League twice, the same as Clough and Fergie and only with Barcelona. 

Now any City fan will tell you that this is the best era for City ever and that the team are amazing, but in truth, every time they've got the bus back from yet another Champions league failure, the feeling is one of desolation. Hopefully, this season will be different, but how many times have we felt that. Last season, City were cruising in the 90th minute, two goals ahead of Real Madrid, only to get the most massive kick in the teeth. The desolation I felt was indescribable. As the clock ticks towards this years semi final showdown, there is a deep sense of fear in the pit of my stomach. In truth, I've never followed City to watch them win titles, I followed them because I felt a strange sense of empathy with the club. It was less glamourous than its rivals, but was famed for mercurial players, Colin Bell, Rodney Marsh, Peter Barnes, Georgie Kinkladze, who would do things that the laws of physics should deem impossible. I recall Dennis Tueart winning the League Cup 1976 with an overhead kick against Newcastle. It seemed to me that only a City player would have the audicity to do that. No matter how bad things got, there was always a prospect who would be the saviour. 

In truth, the soul of football was sold when the Premier League was formed. The idea that a modern day Brian Clough could win the Champions League twice with Forest seems ridiculous, unless a state buys the club and invests a zillion pounds. Ironically, Manchester United, who thought the Premier League would make them unassailable have become the biggest victims. Their wealth and success attracted the Glazers, American asset strippers. Over a decade and a half, the club have lost their glamour and been knocked off their perch as the premier league top dogs. The club are saddled with debt and whereas twenty years ago, you'd see kids walking around Brent Cross in Man Utd tops, now this is a rare sight. United fans still dream, but the harsh reality is that their dreams simply add $$$$ to bank accounts in the USA. Every United fan dreams of a saviour, who will buy out the Glazers, invest in the club and return the glory. It may well happen, but every year of failure is another year of kids who won't wear their shirts, another lost generation.

I have to add that not all US owners are a disaster. Perhaps, the biggest story in football this season is Wrexham, where a pair of American superstars have bought the club and turned it into a Hollywood blockbuster. I have watched with interest. Wrexham are my second team. They have been since 1984, when a bloke from Wales called Keith joined the company I worked for. As we both liked football, music and beer, we soon became good mates. He told me that his mates from North Wales were coming down to London to watch  Wrexham play. He said they were doing a beer trail and going for a curr afterwards. I invited myself along. I've been watching the team ever since. Back in 2019, we ended up at Leyton Orient, watching Wrexham what was rather like last nights game. A virtual league decider. Wrexham lost. It seemed like the chance was blown.

 I have enormous respect for their fans, who spend hours on coaches and come in huge numbers. I was delighted when they won promotion, but sooner or later they will hit the ceiling. Whatever league you are in, you want better next season. In 1999, when Manchester United were winning the treble and the first of Fergie's Champions League titles, I was watching City beat Gillingham in the the third tier play off final at The Old Wembley. I was dreaming of a time when maybe, just maybe, City might once more be a mediocre Premier League team, perhaps reaching a cup final before old Father time catches up with me. Now, I'm writing that failure to win the treble is failure. And if City do win it? It all starts again next year. What do we dream of then?

Music isn't like that. You just enjoy it. When the Beatles beat the Stones to the no 1 slot, you didn't draw the curtains and stay in. You just listened to Satisfaction rather than Penny Lane. In truth, with football, it isn't the defeats that crush you. It's the hope. If Dr Who had turned up with his Tardis as I left Wembley in 1999 and showed me the league table today, I'd never have believed him. To be honest, I thought it was more likely we'd be playing Wrexham than Real Madrid now. Maybe in 20 years time, it will be Wrexham playing Real? In football, nothing would surprise me.


Tuesday 25 April 2023

So if you were a billionaire for a day, what would you do? This is my perfect day of indulgence

Have you ever had that conversation, where you get asked if you were a billionaire for one day, what you would do?

Lets put a few rules around it. You can't give money to charity, as we don't want a load of virtue signalling nonsense. Anything you buy you have to give back at midnight, so you can't buy a Rolls Royce to sell in six months time. You have a day of cashful indulgence. You can pick the day. It doesn't have to be today and you can order anything you like and pay for it on the day. So if you wanted you could hire Wembley Stadium, put on the Rolling Stones and ask all your mates, if that floats your boat. You can stay at any hotel, go to any restaurant, watch any show or sporting event, travel anywhere (we'll allow you to fly back tomorrow and stay in a hotel overnight). Anything money can buy. But just for one day.You can take anyone with you (same rules for them). 

I thought long and hard about this. I realised that I have very frugal tastes in reality, but there are a few things I would enjoy splashing out on. So here goes

So it starts at midnight. Lets start by checking into a fine hotel. But which one?  I'd choose the Shangri La at The Shard. I quite like the idea of a swim in their 52nd floor infinity pool. It's about £1,700 for a suite. I'd have a few friends up for drinks and get them suites as well. I'd have breakfast in bed and then a dip in the pool. I saw the Shard go up from my office in Red Lion Court on Park St, so it is the one hotel I feel an affinity with in London.

I would then follow this with a champagne cruise up the Thames on The Elizebethan, again with my friends and family. I do love London and I love the river Thames, this would be a wonderful second leg. I would finish in time to watch the FA Cup final and have Lunch before at The Bobby Moore suite at Wembley. In truth I'd rather be with the City fans on the terraces, but hey ho, being their with all my mates (most of whom hate City) would be fun. This year, the final will be at 3pm on Saturday 3rd June, which is the proper time for a football match. Now there is an element of jeopardy here, as there is no guarantee City would win and if they lost, it would be typical and a real downer, but hey ho, life is nothing without risks. 

Lee Thompson with Rog at the Dublin Castle
When that is done, we will adjourn for some live music. Now I looked through the list of gigs and there's none I really fancy. So I'd have my own free festival at The Roundhouse. I'd give all my mates first dibs, then give the rest to key workers and have a free bar. But what bands to feature? Well given that I'm infinitely rich, but not Jesus, I can't bring the dead back. So I'd choose the three bands that I really enjoy. I'd put on The Dickies first, who I think are the best live punk band on the circuit. I'd make a live video of the whole thing, so I could enjoy it forever, (all royalties to The Passage homeless centre). Next up would be The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra, who I love. I'd get a couple of guest vocalists to jointhem, including Dawn Penn and The Pioneers. The Ska Orchestra are currently not playing, but I'm sure Lee would resurrect them for a large wad. Then To finish, I'd make sure the party was properly rounded off with a good dance. I'd get Nile Rodgers in. I'd give Nile the green light to get any guest singers he sees fit.

When the fun was done, we'd all nip back to The Shard for a night cap.

It sounds like a pretty good day to me. If there are any nice billionaires out there want to bankroll it, please let me know. You'd be more than welcome to join myself and all my lovely mates!

What is your perfect day?

Monday 24 April 2023

Life: How to deal with challenges in a positive way with some vinegar on a chip (Rog T's cancer blog).

Another installment in the saga. Today I had to attend University College Hospital to have some tests to ascertain whether I was healthy enough to undergo a general anaesthetic. This involved four blood tests, an ECG and a blood pressure test. In itself, none of these are particularly daunting, but they are the precursor to one, two or possibly more rather unpleasant procedures as part of my ongoing treatment for prostate cancer. In truth, the thing I was most dreading about todays business was having to get a rush hour service into town. \Not only that being a tightwad, it was mildly annoying that for the outward leg I'd have to pay, as my over 60's Oyster Card does not work on rush hour services. I have got out of the habit of getting up at the ungodly hour of 7.15am, as my studio work starts at 10am.

As my appointment was scheduled for 9am and One of the blood tests was a fasting test, I'd not eaten since 8pm on Sunday. I was starving hungry, something I don't enjoy. Breakfast is the one meal a day I never normally skip. 

Whenever I have such challenges, I try and give myself something to look forward to, a pleasant thing to focus on while the needles go in etc.  For todays treatment, I'd decided that as I'd be going out before breakfast, I'd allow myself the rare treat of a Full English Breakfast at a nice cafe once the tests had been completed. When I was walking from the tube station to the hospital, to my horror, I noted that there seemed to be no proper cafe's anywhere. I used to work in the West End in the early 1980's and there always seemed to be one on every corner, but now all we have a plethora of cafe's selling overpriced gunge that is supposed to be coffee, but has so much other gunge in that you cannot taste the coffee. 

This reminded me of a girlfriend of Spanish origin, I went out with as a teenager, who educated me that the only proper coffee is a shot of espresso. She was of the opinion that shipping coffee beans half way around the world, roasting them and grinding them, only to adulterate them with milk, sugar and various other dodgy syrups was the height of stupidity. If you want to taste coffee, drink it neat and strong. Once I got used to the taste of fresh espresso, I found all other variations taste like muck (the one vice I don't have is a sweet tooth). 

I've not seen her for 40 years, but I imagine she'd be horrified at the rise of Starbucks gunge coffee culture. She struggled with London in the early 1980's as almost nowhere served decent Espresso, so I'm sure the fact that at least you can get it now would be some solace. Being a young punk rocker, travelling through Europe, She used to work as a waitress, a job she was not well suited to  She'd sneer at customers who made choices that she felt were not appropriate. She was sacked from one job for telling a customer, who took exception to being sneered at "I am here to take your order, not to massage your fragile ego". I tried to explain that there were some times in life that you need to put your punk attitude away for. 

I recall having a huge argument about putting malt vinegar on chips. She was disgusted with this and told me so. I asked if she'd ever tried chips with malt vinegar and salt. She told me that she hadn't and wouldn't. I replied that if she tried one and could genuinely tell me it wasn't delicious, I'd give up malt vinegar forever. She took one, was just about to start pontificating, when she realised that I was right. That was the moment that I learned that you are far better off being wrong. 

I realised that winning in life is not always about being the winner. Sometimes it's about not starting the argument in the first place. Three days of non communiction and sarcasm was not worth it. Some people do not like being wrong and as a good Catholic, I realised that this was my penance for breaking the unwritten rule of happy relationships.

I've always liked people with strong views and when they have them about trivial matters such as vinegar on chips, it is ever better, although it can make dates a far more tricky matter than when you have an easy going partner. I ended up letting her order for me as well, as that way I'd not get that cold stare that you get when you've made a fool of yourself in front of the whole world, by choosing carrots instead of french beans. I didn't mind as she'd choose things I'd never have, which opened my eyes to a lot of wonderful foods I'd not had at home. Before I met her, I'd always have steak well done, as my Father wouldn't eat it with the slightest bit of pinkness. She was at the opposite extreme. I realised that she was right. The only problem was, next time I had a steak with my Dad, I got the cold stare from him.

For some reason, I got to thinking about all of this as I was waiting to be jabbed and prodded.  Life is all about such challenges. It's about learning when to fight, when to hold your tongue, when to run away, when to listen and when to pass an opinion. I learned that just because I've always had my steak well done, doesn't mean that is the best way. It means that winning a pointless argumement is a waste of time, if it means you suffer for it. That is a really important point for getting by on social media. Life is full of people who, metaphorically,  have never had vinegar on chips, but think its disgusting, regardless. Even if you can persuade them to try it, and they love it, they will still make your life miserable. If you can accept that, life becomes easier.

Anyway, returning to my tale of this morning. As I sat in the waiting area, the thought occurred to me that maybe all of the great old cafe's of the West End had bitten the dust, were any still left?  I went onto Google maps and put the word in Cafe. Three decent looking options came up nearby. I rather liked the look of The Little Portland Cafe, so I decided that would be my destination. 

Having this sorted, made the whole process fly by and I left with a spring in my step. I have to confess that this is a bit of a guilty pleasure. My good lady is not really a fan of cafe's and if she saw me tucking into a hearty full English, I would be reminded at length as to why I find myself in the this predicament (in her opinion). Any protestation that I've not had a fry up in a cafe on a weekday for longer than I can remember would cut no ice. I suspect that if I was having sugar laced cappucinos and cinnamon buns, not a word would be said, but as with the vinegar on the chip, this is not an argument worth having. Far better to accept I'm an idiot, enjoy my breakfast and move on. This is exactly what I did.

With regards to diet, when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, the only thing I was told to avoid was milk, which I have done. I then spent six months trying to identify healthy foods and lifestyle changes, which I made and stuck to. It has occurred to me that some of these I've slid back on a bit over the last three years. I more or less stopped drinking green tea, I've eaten less cooked tomatoes and not been drinking pomegranate juice as much as I used to. Also, due to injuries, I've not kept as fit, although I've more or less managed my 10K steps a day. So yes, in some ways it probably is a bit my fault.

 I am in the limbo period where I'm having tests, biopsies etc, but the treatment plan is not clear. I didn't sleep well last night, as I was running through the less pleasant aspects of various potential options in my head. Sometimes, it's ok to accept you don't have answers, don't have a coping strategy and don't have the information to make an informed choice. Sometimes, you just have to wait until you do have those things. I've come to realise that when you have challenges, you cannot always overcome them. Sometimes you lose. The secret of real success is to not let the losses destroy you. It is easy when it is an argument over vinegar on chips. When you are dealing with something like cancer, it is different. Sometimes you have to accept a less than perfect outcome and make the best of it. Sometimes, making the best of it is simply putting that vinegar on the chip and saying, sod it, I'm going to enjoy this and I'll worry about a the other crap tomorrow.

---- About this feature
For those of you who are regular readers and have read the previous posts on Cancer, there's what this is all about. I write this blog because knowledge is power and if you know what you are dealing with, you have more weapons in the locker to fight it. It is a personal view, I'm not medically qualified. This is for the sole purpose of information for those who are interested.This is the latest installment in my occasional series about how I'm adjusting to living with a big C in my life.  For those of you who aren't, here's a quick summary. I'm 59 years old and in October 2011 I  had a prostate biopsy following two "slightly high" PSA tests - 2.8 & 4.1. The biopsy took ten tissue samples and one of these showed a "low grade cancer" which gave me a 3+3 on the Gleason scale. I was put on a program of active monitoring.  In early February, I got the results of the a PSA test - down to 3.5 and an MRI scan which found absolutely nothing, two more tests in 2012 were at 3.5 and 3.9, in 2013 my test was 4.0, Jan 2014 was 3.8, August 2014 was 4.0,  February 2015 it was  up to 5.5  and my latest in August 2015 was down again at 4.6. In October 2015 I had a transperinial Prostate biopsy, that revealed higher grade cancer and my Gleason score was raised to 3+4 (Small mass + more aggressive cancer). On 22nd Jan 2016 I had HIFU (Hi Intensity Focused Ultrasound) treatment at UCHL). My post procedure PSA in May was 4.0 which was down, followed by 3.7 in August, and 3.5 in October  which means that the direction is positive . However in January the follow up MRI revealed "something unusual which requires investigation" After a follow up biopsy, it appeared this was nothing to worry about. My two most recent PSA tests were Ok (3.7 and 4.6) and an MRI scan in March was very positive. A  PSA in October 2019 was 4.6, so stable and good news, the last in May 2020 was 5.45 a small rise, so worrying, however after a review against the most recent MRI, it was decided that this was fine. My two latest ones in February 2022 was 6.7 and October 2022 was 6.6 was stable. My MRI in March 2022 showed 'a change' so I am now awaiting a biopsy. I had a PSA test in late March which also showed a marked increase to 10.3.
 I've no symptoms apart from needing to wee quite regularly and sadly for a few people, if I'm gonna die soon, it won't be from Prostate cancer. Got the picture?


Sunday 23 April 2023

The tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet - 23rd April 2023

I had a great week. I enjoyed the football. Was sorry I missed Hadley FC's last game of the season, their first in tier 4, but you can't beat a trip to Wembley to see your team!
Anyway, without further ado, here are the tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet

1. This is the big news in the Borough this week

2. This tweet and this thread thoroughly entertained me. It hadn't occurred to me that the 32 was the straightest bus route in London.

3. Get this in the diary

4. Some wonderful local history here

5. Another date for your diary, check out the programme

6. The Totteridge Valley is my favourite place in the Borough for a walk. You might see one of these. Great pics

7. Fancy helping a local nature project next weekend

8. A very nice tweet reminding us of a legend

9. A great night in East BArnet

10. And finally, wishing you all a wonderful St George's day!

That's all folks

Saturday 22 April 2023

The Saturday List #403 - I predict a riot! Gigs that got a bit lary

 Have you ever been to a gig and it's all started to get a bit nasty? I was thinking about this last night and thought it might make a bit of a decent list.

1. The False Dots, Harwood Hall,  18th July 1981. Of all the gigs I did with The False Dots, this was by far the worst and nastiest. A bunch of National Front supporting skinheads turned up, determined to cause trouble, as we'd labelled the gig "Rock against Racism". They let off a fire extinguisher in the toilets and then started harrassing people in the audience. As we were playing a song, I could see what was going on. Then one of them walked up to me, mid song and spat in my face. In a moment of red mist, I unstrapped my guitar and walloped the culprit around the head, strapped the guitar back on and carried on playing. The unlucky individual was knocked out cold. His mates dragged him out. At the end of the song, I invited anyone else who wanted trouble to come to the front now. None did. After the gig, we put all of the gear on the pavement awaiting my Dad, who was collecting it in his Ford Cortina Estate. The skinheads who we thought had skulked off returned. The rest of the band scarpered and hid, leaving me with the gear. I had a stark choice. As I had a bottle of beer in my hand, I determined to take a few with me and not make it easy. As they were almost upon me, I heard a shout. My Dad, who was a fearsome character, appeared with an iron bar. He shouted "Who's first". At that they all ran away. The band emerged from behind the hedge. Dad was quite proud of me, and told me he'd not had as much fun since he was in the army. Rather oddly, the skinheads turned up to our next gig and behaved themselves impeccably. My Dad explained that sheep need a sheepdog. 

2. Crass at The Hope and Anchor. I don't know the date of this gig, but it will long stay in my memory. Crass were an anarchist band, that attracted the attention of the police. I went with Pete Conway. As the band started playing, the Police tried to storm the gig. The problem for them was that the venue was down a narrow flight of stairs and they were met with a shower of glasses and beer bottles. Eventually, we were told that if we left the venue quietly, they would not arrest us (not that we'd done anything wrong). I suggested we went and hid in the ladies loo until the fun died down. As the punters emerged, the police beat them up. After about 20 minutes, we emerged. There was not a soul in the place. We went and helped ourselves to a pint. Eventually the Landlord came down. We told him we were keeping an eye on the place for him.

3. The Ramones at The Hammersmith Odeon. Again I can't recall the date. What I can recall was that it was silly putting The Ramones on at a venue with seats. The bouncers tried to make everyone sit down. Eventually the crowd had enough and just about every seat in the venue was smashed to bits. They were then piled up on the side of the stage. It was wonderful.

4. Penetration and Sham 69 at The Roundhouse, 1978. Until I went to this gig, every gig had been a joyous celebration. Sham 69 had a skinhead following, Penetration had a punk following. The skinheads decided that beating up the punks was cool. I was 15 and it was quite terrifying. I really like Penetration but I can recall nothing of the gig, other than trying to stay away from the skins.

5. Aswad/ Elvis Costello and The Attractions /Stiff Little Fingers, September 1978. This was an Anti Nazi League gig. It started at Hyde Park with a march to Brixton. Again, I went with Pete Conway. We listened to the speeches, and started the walk, which was probably the longest walk I'd ever done! About 100,000 people attended. There was a strong police presence on the walk. About half way to Brixton, someone, rather inadvisedly, gave me a tennis ball. Pete Conway bet me that I couldnt knock a Policemans hat off. This was a challenge I couldn't resist. I waited until there was a copper looking the other way and no other ones close by. It was a slam dunk and his hat hit the floor, everyone roared with laughter. I was about fiffteen feet, away. The copper turned around, and arrested the nearest marcher, claiming he'd attacked him with a brick. I was disgusted, but realised that I'd be stupid to volunteer the truth. I've felt slightly guity ever since, but what can you do when the Police tell lies? I did see a press report that "One marcher attacked an officer with a brick". Sickening really. Later in the day, an ANL activist was rounding up people to attack a rival National Front rally. Pete was very up 'for some fun'. I wanted to watch the bands. I think I made the right decision as they were great.

6. The Sway, Woodford Halse Social Club. In 1995, I was managing a band called The Sway. They were doing a national tour and were booked to play at The Woodford Halse Social club ( I have no idea where this is, other than somewhere near Northampton). The support band were from a nearby village. What we didn't know was that there was bad blood between the other village and Woodford Halse. The hall was packed. About half way through the support act, the biggest brawl I've ever seen started (and I've seen a few). It was quite comical. 60 year old men, sitting at their tables with their wives jumped up, punched a few people and sat down again. George the bouncer got hit over the head with a chair. The police came and the whole thing finished before The Sway could play. All of the locals, as we were leaving were saying "It's been the best night here for years". We were offered another gig at the venue but politely declined. 

7. Country Joe McDonald, Dingwalls, 1982. Given that Country Joe is a hippy peace campaigner, this may seem an unlikely gig for a rucktion, but it was during The Falklands conflict. Country Joe adapted "The Fish Cheer", his famous anti Vietnam war song to the Falklands and gave us a lecture on how war achieves nothing. Given his audience was 99% hippies, this did not seem too contentious, however there were a small band of squaddies out for a pint, who took massive exception. One in particular gave Country Joe a massive volley of abuse. Joe responded by saying he was a veteran of the Korean war and when these young men grew up, they'd realise he was right and they were wrong. He said he'd lost too many mates to keep his mouth shut. The squaddies departed in bad humour throwing glasses and swearing.

8. Tokyo Olympics/The False Dots at The Moonlight Club, 1982. I couldn't finish without a quick recollection of some backstage shenanigans. The False Dots were booked to support Tokyo Olympics, a band that were supposed to be the 'next U2'. We got the gig as we had a parge following. We were quite excited, especially as they had a Radio 1 single of the week. As soon as we arrived, we realised that it was not going to be a pleasant night. The band had a serious dose of "Rockstaritus". They thought they were the Rolling Stones. They treated us like dirt. They refused to let us use the backstage room. They detuned our instruments and were generally A-holes. Our bassplayer, Paul Hircombe, Just 17 at the time, was particularly incensed. We played a decent set. As the audience was mostly our mates, we arranged to go to the pub next door as soon as they'd played half a number. The press had turned up en mass and we decided that this was the best way to pay the back. When we got to the pub, there was about 50 of us. I went to order a beer, Paul said "I'll pay for a round Rog". As he'd been skint earlier, I was surprised. Paul laughed. After Tokyo Olympics went on stage, he went in the chaning room, nicked all of their cash he could find, as well as a copious amount of various illegal substances.  We had a pint and returned to our lair in Mill Hill for a rather good after show party. A couple of mates who'd stayed and watched Tokyo Olympics said that when they realised they'd been robbed they went absolutely mental. We were long gone. Normally I wouldn't condone such behaviour, but they really were horrible and thoroughly deserved it. I've shared the story with people who knew the band and they have all found it hilarious. In truth, we were never a great band to cross. It happened a few times, we sabotaged vans, nicked batteries out of effects units and once filled a guitarists case with mashed up onions (it's a long story) following a bit of inter band sabotage. 

Have a great weekend. 

Friday 21 April 2023

Protect Mill Hill's local footpaths and ancient rights of way - Guest blog by Richard Logue

 Mill Hill School want to close two historic paths that cross their school grounds. They claim this is for safeguarding reasons but to the best of my knowledge there have never been any such incidents. These paths have been known rights of way for hundreds of years, long before the establishment of the school itself. The footpaths are regularly used by local residents, school children from St Vincents, St Pauls and even non boarding local pupils at Mill Hill. The claims about safeguarding are rather disingenious,  as the changes will inconvenience local people going about their lawful business, whilst doing nothing to prevent anyone who might have a less genuine motivation for paying attention to the school. In fact it may make the school more vulnerable, as responsible citizens report wrongdoing and crime. Removing law abiding locals from the footpaths will mean that there are less people making sure that Mill Hill is safe.

The school claims these path closures are simply redirections of the existing paths but the graphic map they use on their website adds in public roads and the Arrandene open space paths that are already public rights of way. In the last year the school have also installed metal spikes with roughly laid green (and ugly) plastic webbing, that simply collapses and is now littering the paths.

I have redrawn the path map to show what exactly Mill Hill School are proposing;

As can be seen, the path closures are extensive, and the so-called redirected paths are short new sections that rely on the existing rights of way along Hammers Lane and Arrandene open space. These proposed changes cannot be called diversions of the existing paths, they are completely new paths.

The next step is that at some point Mill Hill School will apply to Barnet Council to close the paths and open the new proposed paths. We as a community need to be ready with our objections.

Local resident Rob Connor has set up a website:

The website offers some next steps to make pending a formal application by Mill Hill School to close these paths;

“In the meantime, we strongly suggest writing an email to protest the proposed closure to the three local councillors for Mill Hill Ward - Val Duschinsky, Laithe Jajeh and Elliot Simberg.  Their email addresses and some key points to mention are outlined below (feel free to add your own).  


It takes time to construct an email and so these direct communications are given more consideration than postings on social media, group letters and pro forma objections.  We suggest one email, copying all three.

​Key points for objection include:  

·         These are historic footpaths and cannot be shut.  

·         They have exceptional amenity value and are highly convenient to locals.  

·         If Mill Hill School has concerns regarding their site, they should take measures to secure their grounds without closing historic footpaths.

·         This proposal is not a diversion of footpaths, it represents the closure of existing paths and replacing them with are new paths.  

·         The proposed new routes are less scenic, less direct and less convenient and are a poor option compared to the existing paths.”


From Take Action | Save our footpaths

When the time comes for Mill Hill School to submit an application to close our paths, let us as a community be ready to object. I know the school are already asking their pupils parents to support the path closures, I would ask any Mill Hill, Belmont or Grimsdell parents reading this blog post to support your community and object to the closure of long standing, ancient rights of way. If the school is serious about safeguarding, then they should secure those areas where the paths cross, not close the paths.

Richard Logue is a former chairman of the Mill Hill Residents Association.

Thursday 20 April 2023

Barnet Council Parking Alert - Check the registration on your parking ticket

 Just a very quick shout out to all Barnet Council residents. Yesterday, I got a parking ticket for my car parked on a residents bay outside my house. I was rather surprised as I had a valid parking permit. On inspection of the ticket, I found that the parking attendent had mistyped the first letter, transposing the K for an X. We did of course immediately report the error to the council. As we walked the dogs yesterday, I noticed that there were a  large number of ticketed cars in and around Mill Hill. It made me wonder whether parking wardens were deliberately mistyping registration numbers. Of course, they may all be valid. What also worries me is that someone, somehwere with the mis-entered number may be in receipt of a charge. There have long been rumours that wardens have targets for tickets. If they are meeting these by mistyping numbers, not only will it cause hassle for residents, it will mean that the council will lose many expensive appeals, adding to our council tax bills. Of course, it may well be a genuine one off mistake, but I strongly urge you to check any ticket carefully before you pay.