Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Map of Middlesex inc Mill Hill, Colindale, Edgware from 1695

Ever wondered what our neighbourhood looked like in 1695? I spotted and snapped this map. Some of the spellings are interesting. As you can see the main road in Edgware was the Edgware Road, originally built by the Romans. In Mill Hill it was The Ridgeway. Hope you enjoy it. Click on map for more readable version.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Time to reform the honours system

As our Olympic squad return victorious from Rio, there is talk of an avalanche of honours for the team. I fully back this proposal. The likes of Mo Farrar show us just what hard work and dedication can achieve. The team have brought us much joy and merriment and that deserves recognition.

I do however believe the system requires a shake up. Firstly many honours have ridiculous names. There is no British Empire. When there was, for hundreds of millions of people it stood for a highly undemocratic and elitist system. If I was an immigrant from a commonwealth country, I'd feel very conflicted to be given a gong celebrating this awful historic legacy. Why not simply change the E in gongs to the word Excellence. 

A gong should celebrate supreme achievement or dedication. This would reflect its prestige far better than a gong celebrating a defunct and failed form of imperialism.

Further more I'd ban gongs for political cronies, donors and lackeys. The system would be well shot of these. I have no problem with senior ex politicians being given gongs, but I resent political failure being rewarded with a seat in the upper house. This chamber should be elected..

It is time for the UK to become a modern, fully democratic country that recognises excellence, rewards success and moves away from its dark, imperial legacy.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Happy Birthday to Me!!!!

Today is my 54th birthday, so todays blog is just a little bit of a personal reflection. I tend to go big on birthdays, I have a birthday week! It started on Thursday with a few beers with friends up at the Chandos Arms. I will probably conclude it in similar manner next Thursday. But I guess you'll be pleased to hear that this isn't going to be about my celebration plans. I guess that regular readers will have noticed I can be a little OCD at times, I like making lists (I try and do one here every Saturday). I found that making lists is a very good way of dealing with things. It all started when I was a small child. My eldest brother Laurie, who is sixteen years older than me used to delight in teasing me, winding me up and stealing my pocket money. Nothing delighted him more than if he could set me up so I performed a terrible act and got a good hiding from my Dad. At one stage when I was about six or seven years old, I was so pissed off at him, that I was quite depressed about it all.

My parents had a very good friend who was an elderly Priest, who used to visit regularly for a glass of scotch. I considered him the font of all knowledge. So I asked him the question "Fr Traynor, what should you do if your brother upsets you all the time?". He replied that one of the Lords Disciples said that his brother had wronged him 7 times, how many times should he forgive him. Jesus replied, if he has wronged you 7 times, then you should forgive him 77 times. So I started the list "number of times Laurie has upset me"

1. Locked me in the toilet when Thunderbirds was on telly, whilst giving a running commentary
2. Hung me upside down and stolen my pocket money
3. Hung a large rock on a washing line and told me to pull a chord, so it demolished the new wall my Dad had built (whilst telling my Dad to come and see what I was doing)
4. Stolen the money I'd been saving to buy a Scalextrix set for fags.
5. Locked me in the outside toilet
6. Gave me a salted plum and told me it was a sweet

And so it went on. The good news is that there are only ten more infractions to go before the Lord says I can take my revenge. The bad news is that I'm supposed to be an adult now, so if I was to lock Laurie in the bog and steal his wages, I'd doubt that I'd be able to cite my list as mitigation. I suppose that for those of you who aren't familair with the dynamics of large families (I'm the youngest of six), there are generally a whole set of disputes, wind ups, antagonisms running throughout childhood. It is also fair to say that Laurie also did many really nice things, such as buying me a fish tank with a catfish in, introduced me to 1960's psychedelic rock music, taught me a few really cool chord progressions on the guitar, etc. Strangely I never made a list of those though.

When I look at the list now, it is actually quite amusing (I am sure Laurie would find it bleeding hilarious). Perhaps the funniest thing is watching my handwriting develop. Being dyslexic it was absolutely atrocious at the start. These days it is just bloody awful. I find that making lists has been really beneficial for my blogging career. I have all sorts of lists of things to refer to. By ordering things and keeping them listed, if people say things to me like "all bloggers do is complain and they don't achieve anything", I can pull out a list of our achievements. It is a point of fact that without bloggers, the Metpro scandal would never have been exposed. This has saved the Barnet Taxpayer millionsof £££'s. Likewise the Freedom pass scandal would never have come to light. Although there are many campaigns which bloggers have had a major role in, these two are unarguably completely down to the efforts of bloggers to expose and they are the two that I am proudest to have had a role in exposing. I suppose it is ironic that something that started with being locked in the toilet when Thunderbirds was on, ended up saving disabled people from having their freedom passes illegally withdrawn. I'm immensely proud of what I've acheived through the blog. I'm also immesely grateful that so many people have read and continue to read the blog. This has been demonstrated by the recent campaign to Preserve the Railway in Edgware. Within two days of this blog highlighting the story, we had over 500 signatures on the petition.

My mum was a notorious hoarder. She kept all of our old school books. I was amused to read in one old "news" book, I'd listed my ambitions for adulthood to be to have a pond and a dog. I have spectacularly overachieved as I have two dogs and two ponds. I must say that there are few pleasures greater than sitting by the pond, with the doggies running around, whilst playing my guitar. I'm lucky to be blessed with a great wife, great children and lovely doggies. I also enjoy my work life. I was never someone who was massively ambitious financially, but I am extraordinarily passionate about music. This was a gift from my brother Laurie. My eldest brothers are twins. They were a musical inspiration. When they were teenagers, both wanted electric guitars. My Dad's response was that they could make their own, which they both did. Both are talented guitarists and it is always a pleasure listening to them jamming. They were both big on skiffle, the British forerunner of rock and roll. I always thought playing guitar was a tremendously cool thing to do. I was however constrained in my early teens by a complete lack of aptitude and confidence. However the avent of Punk rock and Mark Perry's invocation to learn three chords and form a band chimed. That was exactly what I did. I also completely got the politics of Punk Rock. My school experiences had made me rather anti establishment, and this meant that I had a natural affinity for punk in all of its forms.

I started writing songs, intitally all were about politics and were rather crude. After about a year, myself and my song writing partner, Pete Conway realised that the songs were rubbish. We checked them all away and started again. We tried to write proper, interesting songs, with stories and tunes. But we also wanted to get the message over as well. The requirement for rehearsal space, lead to me starting Mill Hill Music Complex. This eventually lead to me contacting the local press and building a relationship with them, to try and promote local bands and music. This lead to my blog at The Barnet Times. For reasons I can't fathom, this didn't develop into a music blog as I'd intended, but into a highly controversial blog about local politics. Interestingly initially my antagonist was the now disgraced, but then powerful local politician Brian Coleman.  It is interesting to note that we are roughly the same age, but unlike me he didn't have a big brother to wind him up or help him develop a love of music. Maybe that is where he went wrong?

Anyway, in my reflective mood, I realise just how important the influence of my big bruv has been in becoming Barnets most popular blogger! So maybe I'll buy him a Guinness later!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The Tweets of the week in the London Borough of Barnet - 21/08/2016

What has been inspiring the twits of Barnet? This is our pick of the week. People have asked me what criteria I use for this selection. The answer is simple, if a tweet makes me laugh, cry or I think there are a few people who might find it interesting, it gets considered. Then I try my best to put them into some sort of order.

1. This was the tweet that stated a campaign, that has generated over 600 signatures in four days and received widespread coverage in the local press and blogs. Well done to Mark Amies, a good friend of this blog

2.And we'd also like to pay tribute to some of the volunteers for one of our finest local charities!

3. And at TheBarnet Eye we are rather keen on doggies!

4.A reminder from the Assistant Director at The RAF museum of our local heritage

5. A classic view of Edgware tube station when it opened. I love these tweets
6. One of the finer spots in Finchley. The late great Spike Milligans bench!

7. Calling all local businesswomen, got some time free tomorrow night?

8. Lets celebrate our local Olympic heritage. A fine blue plaque in Golders Green
9. The big story in Mill Hill was the occupation of Mill Hill Park by a group of travellers

10. And watch out for Londons finest studios on Barnet TV!!!

Friday, 19 August 2016

"She was asking for it" - A guide for idiotic males on sexual protocol

A couple of days ago, I overheard a rather disturbing conversation on the train home from a nights drinking. As the father of a teenage girl, I thought I'd impart some helpfl advice for confused men, who clearly don't really understand sexual protocol.

There were several sweaty, middle aged men, who'd clearly been even more liberal in drink than I had been, who were somewhat worse for wear. They boarded with me at Farringdon. At St Pancras, a group of teenager girls alighted. Amongst this group, most were taking advantage of a warm summer night to wear a rather minimal amount of clothing. They too were raucously inebriated and clearly having a rather good time.

As the train progressed the group of males made several loud comments and the girls moved away. One of them then stated "They are asking for it, going out dressed like that". I am not quite sure what they were asking for, but I am pretty sure that what they weren't asking for was sexual attention from a group of rather fat and ugly sweaty males.

So I thought I'd set out a little list of what is asking for it and what isn't.

Examples of asking for it.

1. If a woman comes up to you and invites you to have consensual sex, she is asking for it.

Examples of not asking for it.

1. Wearing clothes that make her look atractive.
2. Being out with friends and displaying a happy demeanour.
3. Being on her own and vulnerable.
4. Any other activity that does involve her inviting consensual sex.

Of course there are times when men genuinely misread the signals. A big clue is when a woman says "Please stop doing this" or similar words. If a lewd comment results in a woman moving away, you have been an arse. Personally I want my daughters to be able to enjoy life without hassle. I think that is the least any human being should expect.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Save The Railway Campaign - Huge response to petition

MOn Tuesday we posted a blog about Mark Amies petition to Save The Railway pub in Edgware. This magnificent mock Tudor Inn has been left to rot and recently had a small fire which caused some damage to the fabric of the building. It is a grade II listed building and a much loved cornerstone of Edgware High Street. The petition has received a huge response, picking up over 550 signatures in two days. The Edgware Times has also picked up the story and given us a namecheck.

If you haven't signed the petition, please do ASAP. We are going to be presenting it to English heritage and the more support we can show for the pub, the better. Lets get it up to 1,000 so please post on facebook and tell your friends.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Time to bring back British Rail

First the good news, my train this morning, the 07:17 was only six minutes late arriving. I even got a seat between West Hampstead and Farrringdon! Result!

But as a regular commuter between Mill Hill and London, what has privatisation bought? When Thameslink was introduced, there were 8 rush hour services per hour from Mill Hill Broadway to London, 4 fast and 4 slow. Now there are 5 or six, most of which are jam packed.

The cost has spiralled out of all proportion. We are told it is to pay for investment, but huge sums are payed in subsidies to private companies, which goes straight to shareholders, mostly of foreign companies, such as Arriva who run Thameslink.

On my journey in this morning through Cricklewood, I saw new Hitachi trains parked next iInter City 125's, the British Rail designed and built workhorses of the railways, which are 40 years old. The 125's were a huge success, but privatisation meant the Uk has lost the ability to design and build such iconic trains.

On Sunday I had lunch with a signalman. He explained the complex rules that apply when delays occur. They are not designed to help passengers, they are designed to ensure that the companies who pay most see their train go first, and are implemented to ensure Network Rail pay the minimum in fines.

It is high time the government admitted privatisation has been a disaster and calls time on the failed experiment. Bring back BR!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Save The Railway in Edgware

A good friend  of this blog , Mark Amies,has started a petitio to Save The Railway pub in Edgware. The former pub has been rotting for several years and recently was damaged by fire. Please sign this petition to help preserve this iconic grade 2 listed landmark. Please share this with your friends

The petition reads as follows

The Railway Hotel in Station Road, Edgware is a fine mock Tudor building built in the 1920s. It closed in the early 2000's and has remained boarded up and unloved since. Last month there was an arson attack which left a portion of the ground floor ruined. The Railway Hotel has has several owners since last year. The feeling amongst local people is that a developer wants e site to build more apartment blocks on, as it sits amongst other derelect sites. Ironically the Railway Hotel has a listed status, however it continues to be under great risk. Please help to petition Historic England to properly protrct The Railway Hotel and find an owner who will restore it and put it into use for the public.

Save Our Local Heritage!!!

Monday, 15 August 2016

HCPT Group 560 - A week to change your life

I was away last week. Regular long term readers of the blog will know that most years, I go as a helper with HCPT group 560 to Hosanna House in Bartres, France for a week. The group enables people with various disabilities to visit the shrine of Lourdes in France. As a helper, I am there to ensure that everyone in the group has the best week possible. It is very hard to describe exactly what the week is like. The setting is absolutely stunning, this is the view that greeted me when I awoke every morning.
The view for breakfast
There is strong emphasis on building a feeling of belonging to the group. On the first full day we have a briefing. Helen, who has cerebral Palsy and uses an electric wheelchair and has come for many years gave us a rousing team talk. Helen is an inspiration, living independently in her own flat despite the issues that confront her. She was pleased to see me, and tell me how she'd visited South Africa for an extended holiday earlier in the year. Several years ago I asked Helen what she enjoyed about out group. She told me that it was because we didn't think adults who had disabilities, but were fully mentally competent were interested in basket weaving as a leisure activity. Within our group, there are some talented musicians (and myself) and music, humour and telling stories is a huge part of the package. The first time I went with our group, back in 2001, I went primarily to "do my bit helping other people". To my surprise, the person who benefitted most was probably me. The reason was that the previous Xmas,my mother had had a major stroke and I was having problems dealing with the reality of her disability. By the end of that trip, I'd realised just how lukcy my mum was. I also realised that there was no reason she couldn't come with us, which she did the next time I went im 2004. She went a further three times. After she passed away in 2008, I took my cousin Theresa, who has Downs Syndrom three times. Sadly Theresa can no longer travel.

Helen briefs the group
The two lessons were that the biggest challenge the disabled have is the attitudes of the rest of us. The second lesson was disability doesn't diminish our humanity. I would urge anyone to volunteer as a helper with a group such as ours. You may wonder about the religious aspect, clearly if  a group is going to Lourdes, having a degree of faith is probably helpful, although not compulsory. Ever since 2006, I've had at least one of my children with me. They are not religious, but volunteer to come as they get a lot out of the experience. On one occasion, my daughter was accompanied by a school friend who was Jewish. After we returned, he told me he thought it was a hugely positive experience. It helped him to understand his own faith and to also get a fresh perspective on life. Of course some of us would be put off by this. I'd say that if this is how youy feel, then why not checkout volunteering with a secular charity that takes disabled people on holiday. It is a really good way of learning to understand teamwork and cooperation. It also makes you value the gifts you have. For me HCPT works. Within our group, the mix is probably 50% Roman Catholic and 50% of other/no denomination. Most return, because it is rare that people don't get anything from the experience. There are no activities that are compulsory, so you are not compelled to do anything (apart from make sure the people you are helping are safe and happy).

Night time activities
As to the type of things you do as a helper. For me I was rooming with a chap who simply needed to be pushed when we went out. Apart from that he was fine. My daughter and a friend also came this time. They roomed with a teenage girl with Downs Syndrome. This was the second time she'd been with this young lady and the friendship they've built is a joy to behold. My son also came. He didn't room with someone who needed helping, but was involved in early morning tea duties, pushing people in wheelchairs, setting tables and assisiting people in the bathroom etc. Our group had two nurses, who were on hand to assist with any medical issues.

As a fit helper, you have to do a lot of pushing people in wheelchairs!

One of the mistakes we make is to make assumptions about people with disablities. One of our group, Katie, who has cerebal palsy, graduated last year. For her, she felt that passing a degree course was vital, as she believes that it is vital to prove that there is no reason why people in her situation should be overlooked from partaking in a full education. She is now far better educationally qualified than I am, so I think she's got nothing to prove.

And we don't tuck people up early and then go to the pub!

One of the best things for me was a week with limited access to social media. I didn't look at Twitter at all for most of the week. I was too busy and where we did have wireless access, I was desperately trying to read important emails. I'd recommend a social media detox for all!

I must also mention the food. As we were in France and the house team are French, the food was absolutely fantastic. As I don't do dairy, sadly I missed out on the cheeses and some amazing looking desserts. Lunch was two courses and dinner three. There was an ample supply of wine to be taken with dinner (sadly as I was on driving duty on occasion, I couldn't always partake as HCPT rules are no alcohol when driving).

A lot of table tennis was played as well, a lot of guitars were strummed, a lot of songs sung and a lot of fun was had. Our group has a tradition of a talent show on the last night. As ever it was hilarious. My contribution was to lead a group performing the Ewan MacColl. I was lucky enough to have Margaret singing and Fr Pat playing the tin whistle line one the recorder! I was determined that my song wouldn't suffer the same fate as the previous year, when Gordon, who has cerebal palsy, dismissed my rendition of  Perfect Day by Lou Reed as "RUBBISH!".  My son used his slot as a perfect opportunity to wind both myself and my friend Paul up as best he could, much to the amusement of the wider group.

You may wonder what sort of people volunteer? Our group had a fascinating mix of people, a couple of actresses, a former head of light entertainment at ITV (I think that was the role), a retired professional sportsman/commentator, a banker, some teachers and some retired teachers, a few teenagers at school/uni, a policeman, a trainee CofE vicar, a couple of C priests, a retired doctor and me (apologies if I missed anyone). As a group, I think we bonded pretty well. This was the 11th time I've been with the group, but I am still learning things. I always come back feeling recharged. This has been a difficult year for me personally. In January, regular readers will know I had a procedure to treat my Prostate cancer. One of the questions which one of me rather cynical mates asked was whether I was going "to get a miracle". For me, I'm not interested in miraculous cures. The thought never crossed my mind. Of all the disabled peopel I've spoken to, who have ever been with our group, only one ever went seeking a miracle cure. Sadly he was disappointed. For me, the people who really need the miracle are those of us who have got so obsessed with the goodies on offer in our materialistic world, that we miss the great things we get for free. These are love, friendship, the natural beauty in the world and the joy of sharing meals and a drink with friends. We are si obsessed with "stuff" that we overlook these. I consider the biggest blessing I have in life is that I appreciate this and my weeks in Lourdes, remind my of the gifts I do have.

As a little footnote, I got back to find the Olympics in full flow. We had no telly at all for a week, so it had largely passed me by for week one. An interesting thought occurred to me. Elite atheletes are bringing us huge pride and joy with there efforts, honed with years of training. The Olympics really are a truly wonderous celebration of human achievement. I do however think that the challenges some of my disabled friends have to surmount every day pale them into insignificance. Imagine if every single thing did, getting up, going to bed, eating, going to the toilet, washing and even cleaning your teeth, required a helper (or two).  If every person you met assumed you were an idiot, because of the way you look. If every new person you met talked to you in a childish voice and asked you to repeat yourself six times as they didn't understand you. To put up with that and still be cheerful and good fun is perhaps a supreme achievement.

Please note that all comments/views expressed here are personal and in no way reflect the views/ethos of HCPT or anyone else apart from me. Some names have been changed for privacy.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Tweets of the week - 14/08/2016

I've been away for a week! I've been on a social media detox and so all the blogs your read here before yesterdays entry were pre-prepared ones that I had in the bank, as it were. So what have I been missing in our little corner of London. Here is my pick.

1. Did you know they've opened a new lido in Burnt Oak! Susan Beattie is none too impressed

2. It seems its all going on in Burnt Oak
3. Some useful advice for anyone looking for drugs in Colindale. You can always rely on the Colindale police to protect the interests of consumers!

4.  Feeling hungry? Colindale is a great place for a Sunday Lunch

5. Perhaps the best backdrop in London to watch Football?
6. There's a thirsty burglar on the loose!
7. A nice piccie from the Barnet Society

 8.  Worrying news for us Mill Hillians!

9. Fascinating article in the Borneo Post detailing the legacy Mill Hill has left in Sarawak!

10. One of Mill Hill Music Complex finest bands launched their EP at the Dublin Castle on Friday Night!