Saturday, 19 May 2018

The Saturday List #175 - 10 acts you shouldn't miss at The North Finchley Festival today!

Today is the day. A years planning and a shedload of effort. The North Finchley Festival is here! All of the acts are great, but here are my personal picks (I've listened to all of them!).

1. Well its my blog, so it's only natural that  we'll start with my band, The False Dots! We are playing at 9pm at The Bohemia tomorrow.  I like to think we're rather entertaining. Please say hi when you come down.

2. At 5pm this evening we've got the amazing Scarlett Coast at Asoos. A great accompanyment to a swift lager and a few bhaji's!

3.The Amazing Fil Ross and The Rock and Roll Sons are headlining at The Elephant Inn tonight at 10pm. If you like Rock and Roll, you'll love these boys!

4. The Silencerz close the festival at The Bohemia tomorrow. Awesome for all of you Ska lovers!

5. Alex is amazing, cathc him at Cafe Buzz at 5pm tomorrow.

6. How about some Americana at The Elephant inn tomorrow?

7. Catch Wondrwoman at The Bohemia Sunday at 8pm!

8. Kado are an amazing jazz funk band. Live at The Elephant tomorrow

9. One of my favourite artists the amazing Natalie Miranda is at M's, she is a brilliant singer

10. And some amazing acoustic guitar at Cafe Buzz!

That's all folks!

Friday, 18 May 2018

The Friday Joke - 18/05/2018

I was out at one of Mill Hill's more upmarket drinking establishments, when my good friend Big Paul walked in. He came up to the bar, placed a jar on the counter and ordered a Martini. When it was delivered, he took out the Olive, and downed the Martini in one. He then ordered another Martini and repeated the process.  When the jar was filled with olives and he made to leave.  As I was rather puzzled by this odd behaviour, I asked "What was that all about with the jar?"
Big Paul replied, "my wife sent me out for a jar of olives and I couldn't be bothered walking down to the shops"

(All characters and events in this joke are fictional, although loosely based on the behaviour of certain people I know).

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Barnet Council Copthall Sports Hub and Mill Hill Open Spaces Draft Masterplan

Barnet Council have published the draft Masterplan for the Copthall Sports Hub and Open spaces. It is a very interesting document and there is much to commend about it.

We have not studied it in detail therefore we do not wish to comment in too much detail at this stage. Clearly there are concerns about aspects of the masterplan, with Green belt issues and cycleways being two areas that aroused most interest and comment. It is good that the issue of a shared cycleway/walkway between Copthall and Mill Hill East has been explored. We would like to see a more ambitious use of the available space, with the cyclewalkway route following the old railway all the way up to Mill Hill East station and to the Broadwalk Shopping Centre in the other direction (where possible).

The wetlands proposal is interesting and adds a new dimension to the space.

 Clearly there is a need for far better sports provision.  It is good to see the BMX provision in the scheme, although I am not so convinced that a "public square" is a step in the right direction.

The section on Mill Hill Park is interesting. I am rather averse to the term "hub". In building terms, to me this says "Jack of all trades". What Mill Hill needs is specific proposals to address specific weaknesses in local community offering. I am not saying the Hub is a bad scheme, but I am not a believer in "open a building and they will come". I've made that mistake myself in the past in my own businesses. We need specific offerings for specific needs.

But this is a draft and so have a read and feed back your comments.

You can read it by clicking here or using the version we've embedded below.


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

The Wednesday Poem #44 - Memories of a Free Festival (in honour of the North Finchley Festival this weekend!)

Oh Lord, do I miss David Bowie. I doubt that there is any artist who had such a diverse body of work. Bowie was one of the main reasons I got into music. One of the reasons, I spend my life organising music festivals. This weekend, we have a Free Festival in North Finchley! Six venues and over 50 bands! What more could you want?

We are pleased to welcome a brand new venue to the Festival family. Asoos Indian restaurant are joining in the fun. Why not drop in for a tasty Bhaji, a chicken tikka and a vindaloo before heading on down  to the Bohemia and the Elephant in to dance the night away. What better sort of festival could there be!

As I was sitting, poring over the schedules, Bowie's "Memory of a Free Festival" popped up on my Spotify playlist. This song is a real inspiration for me. I love the concept of Free music festivals. I've played a few over the years. The Montrose Festival in Burnt Oak Park, The Grahame Park Festival, Jesterfest in Fortune Green, The Mill Hill Music Festival and of course last years North Finchley Festival (as well as a few rather less formal festivals that we've played over the years).

This is a beautiful song. I absolutely love the Coda of the song (the bit at the end for you non muso's). What other poem could we possible choose for this weeks Wednesday poem. I was tempted to make a "found poem" using this and a few others, but decided that I really couldn't better the work of the master.

I'd love a few of our readers to submit some poetry about local events (past, present and future). I really love the concept

Memory Of A Free Festival

The Children of the summer's end
Gathered in the dampened grass
We played Our songs and felt the London sky
Resting on our hands
It was God's land
It was ragged and naive
It was Heaven

Touch, We touched the very soul
Of holding each and every life
We claimed the very source of joy ran through
It didn't, but it seemed that way
I kissed a lot of people that day

We scanned the skies with rainbow eyes 
and saw machines of every shape and size
We talked with tall Venusians passing through
And Peter tried to climb aboard 
but the Captain shook his head
And away they soared Climbing 
through the ivory vibrant cloud
Someone passed some bliss among the crowd
And We walked back to the road, unchained

The Sun Machine is Coming Down, and We're Gonna Have a Party
The Sun Machine is Coming Down, and We're Gonna Have a Party
The Sun Machine is Coming Down, and We're Gonna Have a Party
The Sun Machine is Coming Down, and We're Gonna Have a Party
 The Sun Machine is Coming Down, and We're Gonna Have a Party.

Come on down at the weekend and join in the fun!

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

North Finchley Festival Highlights - The False Dots live at The Bohemia - Sunday 9pm

If you are around North Finchley on Sunday night at around 9pm, you have the choice of two awesome bands to watch. At the Elephants head, there is the amazing Kado. They are an amazing Jazz funk band and I am gutted to be missing them.

Unfortunately for me, I've got another appointment just down the road. I will be playing with my own band, the False Dots, at the Bohemia. We will be the main support to the awesome Silencerz, who feature Lee Thompson from Madness on Saxophone.  Normally you'd have to shell out big wonga to see Lee play, so to see him for free is a real treat!

Music has always been my number one passion in life. I founded the band in 1979 and we performed our first gig in 1980. It was a hastily arranged gig for Rock Against Racism. A chaotic affair, we borrowed Dav, the drummer from Alan Warner of the Foundations and our singer didn't bother to turn up! Despite all of that it was a brilliant night and it gave me the bug.

As a sixteen year old, the concept that I'd still be playing 38 years later would have seemed a little strange, but here we are. The lineup we play with now was our 1985 lineup, augmented by Fil Ross on bass guitar. Last Saturday, we performed at our singer, Allen Ashley's 60th birthday party at the Kings Head in Enfield. When Allen isn't singing with the False Dots, he is an author and poet and he runs various writing groups across Barnet and Enfield. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that quite a few stalwarts of various Barnet campaigns I've supported and many Barnet Eye readers are also members of the various writing groups Allen runs. Allen hadn't told them that the Dots were performing (in fact many didn't know he was our singer, as they simply knew him from the writing group). It was an excellent night. Perhaps the most touching moment was when Allen's wife Sarah presented a book she'd put together with contributions from his writing group.

Of course The False Dots are a completely different beast from Allens literary and poetic activities. Although our songs are finely crafted, we are a full on Rock and Roll band with a long pedigree. I daresay a few of Allens writing group would have been surprised to see a completely different side to Allens personality. The False Dots have put the finishing touches recently to our forthcoming album "Songs of Love and War" and will be previewing these, along with some newer material at the show on Sunday.

As well as Allen we have Fil Ross on Bass. Fil has played bass with the band since 1998 and is also wicked lead guitarist. His other band, The Rock and Roll Sons will be headlining at The Elephants Head on Saturday at 10pm. Fil is always value for money. A brilliant live performer. Anyone who has seen the False Dots or the Rock and Roll sons will testify that there is no shoegazings at our gigs!

The False Dots in Belgium 1985
I must also say a word about Graham Ramsey, our long time drummer. Graham is a force of nature. He has probably played with more bands in the London Borough of Barnet than any person alive. At our last public gig at The Midland Hotel, he played with the support KatManDo and then jumped up for an impromptu set with The Hamptons, as they were short of a drummer. When I first met Graham, he was one of the Mill Hill East mods. Paul Marvin, son of the legendary Hank introduced me to him in early 1980, in awed tones "Graham is the best drummer in North London".

The False Dots 2018
I immediately wanted Graham to join the band, but he was with a very successful band called the B'zukas, wheras we had yet to play a gig. Eventually I persuaded Graham to join in 1985, at the same time as Allen. Graham immediately showed what he brought to the band in terms of musical creativity. He isn't someone to just tap along in the background. His drumming is all about dynamics and creativity. Unlike 99% of drummers he plays an active role in arrangements, adding dynamism and beats that on one else on the planet would play. As well as the creative input, I also quickly found out that Graham was also ambitious. He managed to blag The False Dots onto a trip to Belgium at the end of 1985 (see picture above). Graham to this day continues to blag the Dots and all of the other bands he's involved with onto gigs all over the place.

The False Dots are in some ways almost unique. All of us are involved in other musical/creative projects. All of us are outspoken, opinionated, all from very different backgrounds. Whilst you may think this would cause musical differences, in fact it has built a huge mutual respect. Musically we all push each other onwards and upwards. I think the material we've written in the last few years is the best of our career. If you come down on Sunday night and you enjoy live music, you will not be disappointed. Here is a little sample of what you will be missing if you decide to stop in and listen to The Archers on iPlayer! This is a very live video!

Monday, 14 May 2018

The full Line up for the North Finchley Festival!

This weekend we see the 2nd annual North Finchley Festival. There are some absolutely amazing acts playing (I know, I put the program together and listened to every single one of them). Here is the full schedule. Make sure you make it down! Over the next week we will be featuring details of each venue and previewing some of the amazing acts who will be appearing so watch this space.

Make sure you come down and join in the fun. Many thanks to our sponsors for their generosity.

Special thanks to Mill Hill Music Complex for PA and Logistics support.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

The Tweets of the Week in the London Borough of Barnet - 13/5/2017

Here are this weeks selection, don't forget to follow any tweeters who tickle your fancy

1. Great post from the Mill Hill Historical Society

2. Lovely pic of one of Mill Hill's landmark

3. Nioe post from one of our regulars


5.  And a great pic of a Finchley Landmark

6. A date (ow two) for your diary!

7. Looking for some great live music tonight?

8. And another date for the diary for all plant lovers!

9. Congratulations to Helen Michael at Cafe Buzz for a truly amazing achievement!

10. And Mill Hill is seeing some amazing music being made!

That's all folks!

Saturday, 12 May 2018

The Saturday List #174 - My Top Ten Mill Hill Memories!

I've lived in Mill Hill for most of my life. Many amazing things have happened in the time I've lived here. I thought I'd try and make a list of the most memorable and most amusing.

Here's my top ten (whilst I can still remember them).

1. There are many fantastic musical memories I have of Mill Hill, through the music festival and other gigs  I've seen/performed/organised etc, but without this memory none of it would have happened.

2. I've also been involved in many community events, but the first one was the annual St Josephs College Garden fete's at St Jospephs college on Lawrence St. This was usually held on the second Saturday in May. Local people from around Mill Hill would volunteer to run stalls etc. The money was used to help pay for the upkeep of the grounds and buildings. It was an amazing chance to see the beautiful settings. The college also had a working farm, so you see the pigs and cows close up and some years there were tractor rides etc, until the health and safety police banned them. The Fete's ran from around 1966 to the mid 1970's as I recall. Like many old Millhillians, I have a great affection for the College tower and the fields.

3. I don't have a picture of this, but in 1973, there was huge excitement locally when Radio 2 DJ Terry Wogan turned up to open Budgens Supermarket (where M&S now resides). There was much excitement, long queues and many an autograph given.My missus still has hers. Lots of old ladies were heard to mutter 'He's a very nice man' after meeting him. 

4. Another event etched in my mind, but I can't find any pictures of was when Adam Faith, who was a superstar in the 1960's and 70's turned up to film an episode of Budgie. I saw this episode on UK Gold a few years ago, there are some lovely shots of the "New China Garden" chinese restaurant (recently Hee's takeaway) and the Laundrette. There was also some filming on the M1 footbridge linking Millway with Maxwelton Ave. If anyone can point me at the episode, I'll add it.

5. When I was very small, a highlight of the year was the Hendon Aerodrome Air display. I can still recall the Red Arrows flying Mill Hill trailing red, white and blue over for the last ever show. As we have the RAF Hendon museum, we still have a few links, but not the show. If anyone has any memorabilia for the show, please let me know or send me a scan!

6. My father ran a crash repair business. One of my very best memories was when he had to repair the Batmobile (Bruce Wayne era). I'm not sure whether it was the real one or just one which a car enthusiast had put together, but he took me to Kentfields (the toy shop in the Broadway), bought me a Batman outfit and drove me all around Mill Hill as fast as he could. It was  a very special moment. He then drove me to Burnt Oak to buy an Ice cream at Tonibells. A gaggle of local kids gathered around to gawp at it and he let a few have a sit in the drivers seat. Can you imagine that today? Sadly we had no mobile phones to record for posterity, so it is all just a special memory.

7. Perhaps one of the most surreal experiences I had was around 1976, coming back from school. A couple of horses had broken free from a local farm and were running up and down Mill Hill Broadway. They were being persued, Keystone cops fashion by the local constabulary, to mush hilarity of locals. My Dad, who had been raised in Australia with horses took charge of the situation, grabbing some carrots from Mayers and tempting the horses over. With a few tasty treats, he managed to get them to follow him to St Josephs College fields, where they were safely penned up until the owners arrived. He was rather scathing about the training of the local Police, until my mum pointed out that it wasn't really a situation the Met have to deal with very often.

8. One very fond memory I have of Mill Hill was meeting Mike and Bernie Winters as they were leaving the Day of The Raj restaurant by the former Lloyds Bank building. My then best friend, Paul Hircombe, had a pet Jack Russell that went by the name of Reg. We were walking Reg up the Broadway when we met the Winter brothers. Bernie was well known for his St Bernards dog named Shnorbitz, at the other end of the size scale. Bernie made a beeline for Reg and made a big fuss of him, giving him a treat from his pocket. We had a brief chat about doggy things. Bernie was a lovely bloke, as was Mike. 

9. Another fond memory of Mill Hill was meeting Paul Gascoigne (then of Spurs) in Anstee's bakery (where Costa Coffee now resides). Spurs training ground was in Chase Lodge and the players were often seen in the Broadway. I was behind Gazza in the queue and as he was about to be served I quipped "Leave a few pies for me mate". Gazza had been being teased on the terraces about his weight at the time. He said nothing to me, but then when asked what his order was "I'll take ALL the pies please". The girl looked at him nervously, and he laughed and then said "oh no, leave seven for him, he's a big lad". He clearly enjoyed a bit of banter, and I saw him a few times, we'd always exchange a laugh. The thing I really liked about Gazza was he'd always make time if any local kids approached him for an autograph. He was by far the most approachable of any of the then Spurs players.

10. And so we come to our final memory. On Mill Hill Broadway Station, there is a tea hut, which has been run by a number of people over the years. One of the most successful was "Jack". He was a no nonsense chap, not really very chatty, but made sure as many people as possible got their paper an cup of tea before the train came as possible. As regular readers will know, I'm a bit of a music nut. As I didn't really know too much about Jack, I didn't discuss music with him. One day, I missed a train and so I went for a tea. Jack was in a better mood than usual and asked what I was doing for the weekend. I replied "I'm going to see a band at the Marquee tonight". Jack smirked and said "Who?" I replied that there was a top Mod band from the 1960's called The Creation who were reforming and releasing a new album on Creation Records and a few of my Mod mates were going along with me. Jack smirked even more and said "I know, I'm the drummer!". I was literally gobsmacked. After that, We'd always have a chat about music.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Save London Music - North Finchley is the centre of live music in London in May!

Summer feels like it has arrived in our little corner of the worlds greatest city. Even better news is that we have a couple of amazing weekends of live music coming up. On the 19th and 20th, we have the amazing North Finchley Festival. There will be nearly 60 bands playing at six venues in North Finchley. We've got an eclectic mix of music with just about every genre of music represented.

The Grassroots music scene has seen a real resurgence in London over the last couple of years. I have seen some of the most amazing gigs at small venues over the last couple of years. As a member of the False Dots, I've played a fair few gigs and we've seen audiences at some of the recent shows that I've not seen since the heady days of the 1980's. When the False Dots played the Midland Arms in Hendon earlier in the year, the pub was absolutely rammed. A couple of weeks ago, I was at The Five Bells in Finchley for Those Naughty Lumps and The Nice Men. The pub was rammed full and rocking. One swallow may not make a spring, but there is definitely something going on.

Another place that is really starting to establish itself is the Torrington reborn at Old Finchleans Club. This Sunday there is an amazing gig for those of you who like a bit of blues.  It is also an opportunity to pick up a copy of the amazing new CD from Del Bromham.

If you are curious and want to "try before you buy" here are a few links to check out Dear Mr Fantasy Blues For Bob Hite                     

What an amazing aperitif for the North Finchley Festival. Six venues, live music afternoons and evenings. A brilliant line up. Anyone who was at last years festival will know just what a fantastic selection of musicians appeared. We've a new venue as well, with Asoo's joining in the fun!

So what exactly is on the menu! Something rather tasty. Whether you like, Jazz, RnB, Rock, Pop, Choirs, Ska, Reggae, Indie there is something there for you. Make sure you make a note in your diary and tell your friends.

The smaller venues such as Cafe Buzz and M's place have some great artists who you can enjoy over lunch or an early tea, with coffee and cakes or a beer. The pub venues will be rocking into the night"

My band, the False Dots are honoured to be playing as main support to Lee Thompson and The Silencerz on the Sunday night. Here is a little taster of how we sound!
Make sure you come down and say hi! It will be a blast

Many thanks to our sponsors, Barnet Council, Joseph Partners, Waitrose and Jeremy Leaf Estate Agents.

Mill Hill Music Complex are sponsoring the sound systems!

Over the next week, we will be making sure you know all the details!

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

The sorry tale of anti semitism in the UK Labour Party

How has it come to this? Seriously. It is a question I am asking myself a lot recently.

Lets start with a bit of historical perspective. As a teenager attending North London Roman Catholic schools in the 1970's, I remember anti semitism being endemic. Not at our house, because my Father was an ex WWII RAF pilot who detested fascists and knew where that path lead, but it was all around at school. When I was twelve, we saw the Israeli raid on Entebbe, freeing Jewish hostages in Uganda. My Father as an ex military man was highly impressed. I mentioned this to a school friends Dad, and his response was to  sit us down and explain in great detail all manner of terrible things that the Jewish people had allegedly done. This disturbed me greatly. At the time, everyones parents were viewed as wise and trustworthy, so I seriously wondered why my Dad hadn't filled me in on these terrible things. As I trusted my Father, I eventually asked him about this. He explained, in no uncertain terms, that my friends Father was unintelligent and uneducated. He went further and explained that all around the world, evil minded politicians seek scapegoats to blame, minorities to terrorise and mobs to whip up hate with. He explained about Moseley in the UK in the 1930's and how such people were treacherous. My father had worked in the Middle East after the second world war as a commercial pilot. He had an office in Jerusalem, when it was part of Palestine before the creation of Israel. He explained that the reason the United Nations created Israel was quite simply because "across the globe, the Jews are a minority everywhere. The international community failed them in the face of Nazism. After the second world war, it was recognised that the way to ensure that this did not happen again was to give them a homeland where they could be a majority. That would at least mean that Jews across the world knew there was somewhere safe for them if another Hitler came along". I noted this down in my diary in July 1976. It seemed important and worth noting.

In September 1978, I changed schools. I departed Finchley Catholic High School and started at Orange Hill Senior High School. At Orange Hill, Jewish pupils were probably the largest single group. Jewish holidays would see the school empty out. Many of my friends were Jewish, some had parents and grandparents living with them who had directly experienced the holocaust. Not that I'd thought different, but it became clear from day one that my Jewish friends were no different from anyone else. We'd go to each others houses, listen to the same music. I had Jewish girlfriends and Jewish bandmates. It was of no concern to me that they had a different religion and everyones parents welcomed all and sundry. Most were Labour party supporters. I discussed this with one girlfriend who told me "Labour has always been the party that Jewish people trust. The Tories are the establishment. If you read a history book, you will realise that the establishment are no friends of Jewish people. They were the ones who tried to block refugees fleeing the Nazi's. No Jew could ever support the Tories as far as I am concerned". It made perfect sense.

Forty years later, things could not be more different. I am in touch with many of my OHSHS friends, on Facebook and through regular reunions. Things are different today. There is no trust in the Jewish community of Labour. Even those that have kept the faith are troubled by what is going on. How did it get to this? How has the Conservative party gained the trust of Jewish voters whilst Labour has lost it so spectacularly? I personally doubt that there is any less anti semitism in the national Conservative party than there is in the Labour party. I just think that amongst the Tories, the anti semitism is perhaps a different flavour. I suspect that southern metropolitan Conservative voters (such as we have in Barnet) are pretty much unaffected by such nonsense. Most will have Jewish friends, schoolmates and work colleagues. They will be sensible people who are comfortable in a multi racial/ethnic society. Any residual anti semites are likely to be from the older generation and are sensible enough to keep their views to themselves. I suspect that in the Shires, the story may be markedly different, not least from a few incidents I've witnessed over the years.

But I suspect the real story isn't so much that the Tories have shifted. It is what has happened with Labour. Under Tony Blair, there was no issue within the Labour party and there were still many celebrity Jewish supporters. As Blair declined, the hard left of Labour aligned itself with the Palestinian cause. This is very much a metropolitan phenomenon, as I suspect that Middle Eastern politics is off the radar of the outer reaches of our communities. Many of the hard left metropolitan Palestinian sympathisers do not believe that the cause they are supporting amounts to anti semitism. They believe that criticising the Government of Israel is a completely different thing. The Jewish community sees it rather differently. The Palestinian movement has never dropped its aim of calling for the complete destruction of the state of Israel. A majority of people in the British Jewish community see the prospect of this as the first step towards the next holocaust. What started as concern for Palestinians suffering in the West Bank and Gaza has to some extent been hijacked and we've seen all sorts of people seeing the outer reaches of the Labour movement as a sanctuary for all manner of hard line anti semitism, such as global banking conspiracies and holocaust denial.

Where Labour has failed miserably is that they've not robustly dealt with members who have made all manner of statements which are clearly anti semitic. It should be quite simple. If someone is a member of the Labour party and they are tweeting, posting on Facebook or in any other way propagating anti semitism or any other form of racism, they should be kicked out. The Labour party had no problem at all kicking me out in 2010, without even asking me for an explanation or offering me the chance to defend myself. This was for standing as a Lib Dem candidate whilst still a member. I had resigned in 2009 and had the emails to prove it, but they were not in the slightest bit interested. I just received a letter out of the blue saying I had been expelled. My request to have a hearing as I had broken no rule was rejected out of hand. I was simply told "I could re-apply in five years".

When I discussed the issue of anti semitism with a Labour candidate at the election count last week, I was told that "people cannot be summarily booted out of the party without a proper hearing and a chance to explain themselves". This is utter nonsense. Of course they can. I am living proof. I know that for many ultra left Labour loyalists, quitting the party and standing for the Lib Dems is a far more serious matter than a bit of anti semitism, but for most sane and rational people, it is incomprehensible.

I am past the stage where I'd consider rejoining the Labour Party. I don't think that either the Conservative or Labour party reflect the British public anymore. I suspect that people think the Conservatives are a "less risky option", although given their attitude to Brexit, I suspect they are not a safe option. What I can say without a doubt is that Labour has an issue with the Jewish community in the UK and if that is not a concern for the party, a party based on the principles of equality and justice, it should be. Last year when Jeremy Corbyn confounded expectations at the general election, Labour was given an unexpected opportunity to prove it was back as a serious political force. If they can't sort out the bad apples who are besmirching it, then it does not deserve the trust of anyone.