Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year to all our friends

Wishing all our friends and readers a fantastic new year!

2015 is nearly done. It only remains for some parties to be attended and some drinks to be drunk. Whatever you do, I hope it is fantastic. Just remember, you may not be able to change the bad things in your life, but you can tell the truth, spread love to your friends and neighbours and do what you can to make the world a better place in 2016.

Love solves problems, hate creates them. If you make 2016 a year of Brotherhood, Consciousness, Peace and Conservation, that will be Your Saving Grace!

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

With Cameron and Dawkins, God help our disabled people

Just suppose you are in your 70's, you have a life limiting cancer and you have  a daughter who is in her 50's, who lives at home with you and who has Downs syndrome. How do you view her future? You know that at some point you may no longer be around to fight her corner. The loving care she has received all of her life from you may well end up as the responsibility of your local council. If you live in Barnet, it is possible that in effect, Richard Cornelius, the Conservative leader of Barnet Council will ultimately become her corporate parent. I wonder if at Christmas Mr Cornelius dons the santa outfit and delivers presents to all of his "corporate children". Since 2010, we have seen cuts to council budgets that are completely unprecedented in the  history of Barnet Council. 

Whilst the vast majority of the fit, well, healthy and financially secure people in Barnet have seen no change at  all to the quality of their lives as a result of the cuts, the disabled,, who often have no one to speak for them have seen a very different story. Barnet Council outsourced their care and services provision to a company they set up and are the shareholders in, called Your Choice Barnet. This was a cynical move, designed purely to ensure that the Councillors could wash their hands of the effects of cuts. Within a year, this organisation failed and needed a multi million pound bale out from the taxpayer. In an obscene act of betrayal, the Barnet Labour group, lead on the committee by Barry Rawlings (now leader of the Labour group), backed the Conservative report that stated that returning to an in house model was not an option.  What I found particularly sickening was the recovery plan involved cuts to front line staff wages, whilst the directors of the failed company were receiving monstrously large salaries. Many staff, who were already struggling to cope on relatively low salaries, were forced to seek new jobs elsewhere. Anyone who has ever dealt with disabled people will know that continuity of care is vital. Knowing peoples regimes and habits is vital to their well being.

It was not only the staff that suffered. Transport budgets were cut, resulting in isolated people being unable to get to day centres for activities. The day centres were forced to operate on a more commercial basis, so teas, coffees and biscuits became far more expensive and quality of activities were scaled back. Of course, for those who have no disabled relatives or friends, this is not a problem at all. We can sit in the fancy bars and restaurants of Barnet and forget all about those less well off. We can spend the extra few pennies a week that we've saved in council tax on another Mocha or Latte in Starbucks, and watch the profits of that go to tax avoiding billionaires in far away countries, safe in the knowledge that it doesn't affect us.

But it would be wrong to think that it is only in Barnet that the disabled have faced challenges. Under the Cameron regime, council budgets across the UK are cut. The disabled have no electoral presence, unlike other minorities, who are seemingly far more able to organise their resources. The first victims of cuts are always those least able to represent themselves. Given that Cameron had a disabled child, I find it truly saddening that he hasn't done anything to ensure that the peer group of his son were protected. Cameron spoke of the UK being a Christian country recently. What form of Christianity gives disabled people a good kicking? It is not a form I am familiar with. Sadly it appears that for the likes of Cameron, Christianity is a fig leaf to hide all manner of disgusting views with. The list of assaults on the disabled, from budget cuts, to the scandalous policy towards Remploy, who specialised in jobs for the disabled is seemingly endless. Up and down the country, in every neighbourhood, people who have pretty difficult lives to start with, have had misery upon misery heaped on them.

It is not only the hypocritical Christian right that has been putting the boot in. Yesterday we detailed how Richard Dawkins has put the boot into people with Downs Syndrome. Dawkins stated that it is immoral for parents to bring Downs Children into the world. Whilst I would personally categorise such views as  Nazi and a form of Eugenics, Dawkins claims to be on the Liberal Atheist left. What chance do disabled people have with a pincer movement from the Christian Right and the Atheist left? If you start to join the dots of what has happened .... Attacks on budgets for disabled services from the Christian right....  Attacks from the Atheist left on the right to exist of disabled people .... The libertarian right and humanist left backing assisted suicide ..... The disdain revealed today for the advisers of Cameron for black people and the white lower working class....

One has to ask, if you were the person I mentioned in the first paragraph of this blog, how wuld you feel about your daughters future. Once we have assisted suicide and we have a consensus that certain "economically unviable" groups have no right to exist, what is the next logical step? Does that bother you? It scares the hell out of me. I can only think "God help the disabled in the UK", because in Barnet we've seen that neither the Tories or Labour care for them and on a national level the Christian right of Cameron and Osborne and the humanist left of Dawkins don't give a stuff for them.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Richard Dawkins is plain wrong about Downs Syndrome

I noticed this article in the Guardian - - In it there is the following quote from Mr Dawkins.

As far as I am concerned, this marks Mr Dawkins out as a Nazi. His comment attributes on value to the life of people with Downs syndrome, which as someone who has a muched loved cousin my age with Downs syndrome, I recognise as a truly horrible way of thinking. In the 1930's the Nazi's believed in Eugenics, selection of what they believed to be the strongest members of the human race, to create a master race. The first victims of the Nazis were the disabled, who were heartlessly culled.

I speak as someone who has a much loved cousing my age with Downs syndrome. Would the world be a bettter place if Theresa had been aborted as a foetus? To me the concept is horrible. This blog has featured many guest blogs by John Sullivan, a fearless campaigner for disabled rights, who has a daughter called Susan with Downs syndrome. Should Susan have been aborted? Then where do we stop?

Abortion in the UK is deemed a matter of choice for the pregnant woman. When making such a choice, whether for social, economic or health reasons, the repercussions can be life changing. It is up to the person who has to make the decision to live with the consequences, whatever they may be. It is right and proper for a proespective parent of a Downs child to be presented with all the facts. If they chose to have a child, they need to be aware of the lifelong responsibility that they are taking on and need to be sure they can cope. I do however think it is a fundamental feature of our society that when we have someone who has a disability, we as a soceity, we have the humanity to support them and give them a chance to flourish. Through my association with my cousin and volunteering as a helper with various charities, I've got to know dozens of people with Downs syndrome. As with many conditions, there is a spectrum within the condition and those at the high end can read, write and hold down jobs. One person I've got to know and become a good friend with is Downs syndrome actress Jo Eastwood, who has appeared in blockbuster films such as Hellboy and TV series such as Eastenders. The first time my then 14 year old daughter met her, she assumed she was a volunteer. I cannot envisage how a world without Jo and her friends would be a better place. I respect the choice of anyone who, in their heart cannot cope with the commitment of a Downs child and opts for an abortion, but to brand caring parents who take a different path as "immoral" people, is to me the sign of a man lacking in humanity and compassion.

The article talks about Dawkins great admiration for Charles Darwen. Darwen is credited with describing the process of evolution of species and presumably, as a Zoologist, Dawkins sees the weak and disabled as somehow less fit for purpose, therefore less entitled to a right to live. I do wonder where he draws the line and when. Just exactlty when does it not become immoral to abort a foetus. I have a learning difficulty in the form of dyslexia. Would that have been sufficient? What about Stevie Wonder, who is blind? what about Stephen Hawking who suffers from muscular dystrophy? What about Angelina Jolie who has a defective gene which makes her prone to cancer. The article quotes a tweet from Dawkins on the subject of religion.

How dare you force your dopey unsubstantiated superstitions on innocent children too young to resist? How DARE you?\
 What worries me most is that as a promenant spokesperson for Atheism, Dawkins has extended his remit to include some pretty unpleasant and uninclusive views. I worry that those who are convinced by his arguments on religion and theology may be tempted to buy wholesale into his whole package of views. I am all for vigorous discussions regarding ideas of morality, ethics and religious views. We should not be afraid of speaking out when we year someone saying something we think is plain wrong. I for one would not hold back from criticising someone letting a child die for want of a blood transfusion for religious reasons. To me that is a dangerous practice. I see what Dawkins is saying in an equally harsh light.  Lets take a scenario where a mother finds out that she has a Downs syndrome child and has a partner who uses the views of Dawkins to persuade her to have an abortions.Just suppose that woman does not feel comfortable with the choice but the spousal pressure persuades her. Just imagine if in later life, she encounters a Downs role model such as Jo Eastwood? Imagine how she would feel about her own decision and about her partner? If Dawkins had drawn attention to the difficulties a parent may face, that is one thing. To question the morality of such a choice is to me a totally different matter. The article mentions that Dawkins is alienating some of his friends with such strident statements. As far as I am concerned, Dawkins statement on Downs syndrome has little to do with his arguments regarding Atheism. I would hope that people can see that Dawkins arguments on religion are a different matter to his views on Downs. What is interesting is that Dawkins chooses morality as a standpoint for attacking Downs parents. Surely the only time you can question the morality of such a decision is when someone makes such a decision without regard to conscience. It strikes me that Dawkins contribution is likely to make people feel bad about themselves and difficult life decisions. To me that is immorality in its worst inclination.

Monday, 28 December 2015

My Predictions for 2016

Well here we are at the end of 2015. The good news, if you are reading this is that we are both still alive (well at least I am right now and I assume you are because you are reading it). What will the future hold? Here's a few predictitons from me.

Jose Mourinho announced as Manchester United manager and  United lose his first game in charge. 
Following the mildest Winter in recorded history, on January 21st, the wind direction changes and we are greeted with an arctic blizzard. Thameslink services grind to a halt due to "unusually bad weather conditions"

Gary Linekar  predicts that Arsenal will win the league by ten points following Arsene Wenger winning manager of the month award for January. Arsenal lose there next five games.
David Cameron announces that the UK mission to Syria has been a complete success and ISIS have seen 50% of their territory lost. Later in the month Cameron announces that RAF bombing to be stepped up to counter a significant threat to the UK
Following the coldest February on record, Thameslink services grind to a complete halt "unusually bad weather conditions"

Manchester City announce that Pepe Guardiola is to take over from Manuel Pelligrini at the end of the season to "Take City to the next level". Pelligrini wins the Capital One Cup, which has been postponed due to bad weather in February, the first of four trophys in the season, to become the most successful ever UK league manager, winning the Quadruple.
Barnet Tories announce that residents can get a £50 rates rebate if they dispose of their own rubbish and don't have a wheelie bin. The police are swamped with calls from neighbours complaining of having rubbish put in their bin. Following high rainfall Thameslink services grind to a complete halt "unusually bad weather conditions".

Manchester United Part company with Jose Mourinho following a disasterous run of results that sees United fall out of Champions League positions. Ryan Giggs takes over as interim manager. United thank Mourinho for his hard work and he leaves to take over at Real Madrid, guiding them to the defeat in the Champions League final against Manchester City.
The race for the Mayor of London hots up as Zac Goldsmiths recognition ratings soar to nearly five percent. The BBC denies that Sadiq Khan is to be the next  Dr Who, following a bungled Tory "Sadiq Who?" campaign. Sadiq takes to wear Dr Who shades and carrying a  sonic screwdriver and sees his ratings soar.
London experiences unusually strong gales.  Thameslink services grind to a complete halt "unusually bad weather conditions"

Gus Hiddink pulls of a minor miracle to see Chelsea qualify for the Champions League, following a 12 match winning streak. Roman Abramovich rewards him with the Sack
Sadiq "Who" romps to victory in the London Mayor elections. Boris Johnson causes a storm when  he announces that Khan's female deputy Mayor is a bit of a K9. Boris Johnsons ratings soar.
London experiences unusually hot weather, Thameslink services grind to a complete halt "unusually bad weather conditions".

England lose all three matches in the first round of the Euros. Roy Hodgson sacked.
George Osborne announces that he will be taking over from David Cameron after the European Referendum. Boris Johnson and Theresa May, immediatey call for a ballot.
Foggy conditions engulf London following brush fires caused by hot weather. Thameslink services grind to a complete halt "unusually bad weather conditions"

Chelsea appoint Didier Drogba as manager. Manchester United appoint Mark Hughes as manager. 
Following his election as GLA representative in Barnet and Camden, Dan Thomas launches leadership Challenge against Richard Cornelius in Barnet Council. Blogger Mrs Angry announces it as "John Thomas shafts slippery Dick".
Sadiq Khan announces that he is launching a competition to choose a new name for London, as London is too closely associated with the imperial past of London and its role in the Slave trade.

The new football season starts.  Chelsea lose 11-0 to Manchester United on the opening day and Roman Abramovich sacks Drogba. Frank Lampard is appointed as manager. Due to a clerical error, Frank Lampard senior is the person who signed "The boy was out when the letter came". Abramovich, toughs it out and says "Frank Lampard Senior has my full support"
Dan Thomas trounces Richard Cornelius in the Conservative Leadership election in Barnet. Richard graciously announces "I've had a jolly nice time and I am sure Dan will have an equally lovely time. In a parting shot, Cornelius readmits Brian Coleman to the party and makes him chair of the Chipping Conservatives. He says "I think Brian will give Dan all the help he needs to make a success of the job, and almost suppresses a smirk". John Hart stands down as Mill Hill Candidate and Brian Coleman stands as Tory candidate.
Following the wettest August on record, Thameslink services grind to a complete halt "unusually bad weather conditions"

Chelsea build a 7 point lead at the top of the lead, frank Lampard senior announces "I don't know why I didn't try this earlier, its a doddle. I should have listened to 'arry years ago".
Brian Coleman loses by election to Lib Dems in shock result as local blogger rejoins the party and runs strong ABC (Anyone But Coleman) campaign. Coleman annouces "I'm not surprised, I always hated Mill Hill". Tories lose control of the council and Lab/LibDem coalition takes over. Lib Dems insist that Kath McGuirk takes over as head of the council, as she is the only candidate that has the full support of both groups.
Following a chilly September and numerous leaves on the line Thameslink services grind to a complete halt "unusually bad weather conditions".

Chelsea lead table by 11 points, Frank Lampard has longest winning streak in Premiership history and look bang on for the title. Mark Hughes sacked at United as Ryan Giggs takes over as caretaker till the end of the season.
Councillor Maureen Braun steps down in Hendon, saying she can't be bothered to be in opposition. Brian Coleman stands as her replacement and loses spectacularly to UKIP candidate Adrian Murray Leonard. Murray Leonard makes hilarious acceptance speech (censored for the faint hearted) "Matthew Offord, you can stick this up your ****, you ****** little ****", Offord announces in Parliament the following day that Murray Leonard has been having unnatural relationships with frozen chickens in the car park of Sainsburys, ending his rant with "Ha Ha you *******, I can say what I like about you here chum and there is nothing you can do ****"
Following a hailstone storm Thameslink services grind to a complete halt "unusually bad weather conditions"

Chelsea extend their lead to 14 points at the top of the title. Frank Lampard wins third consecutive manager of the month award.
Following two byelection losses, Dan Thomas resigns as Conservative group leader. After insisting that the group say "Please, please, pretty please with bells on" Richard Cornelius resumes in charge of the Barnet Tories. Three Labour Councillors defect to Tories to take commitee chairman roles, with fat allowances, and Tories resume control of council.  Leader of the Labour group announces "As committed Blairites, we cannot abide the Corbyn doctrine any more and think Richard is a far more sensible chap". Labour Group leader McGuirk is arrested in Council Chamber for attacking defector with an iron bar. The press report she is dragged screaming "We know where you live" by the police.
Following a Tornado in Kentish Town, Thameslink services grind to a complete halt "unusually bad weather conditions"

After  a 16 game winning streak in all competitions, Chelsea are narrowly beaten 1-0 by Manchester City in the Capital One Cup. Roman Abramovich sacks Frank Lampard saying "it is not acceptable to lose in the Capitol One Cup". John Terry is appointed manager.
Barnet Council workers stage a Free Kath McGuirk protested outside Hendon Police Station. The police state that actually tehy hadn't arrested McGuirk and that there were no charges. It appears that rather than attacking the Labour Defector with an Iron Bar, she had simply waved a salami and said "we know where you can stick your liver sausage", in reference to a purchase that the defector had made earlier in the day at Waitrose, when McGuirk was trying to persuade her to stay in the Labour group.
Unusually normal weather conditions prevailed in December, with average temperatures and rainfall. Thameslink services grind to a complete halt blaming  "unusually bad weather conditions".
Of course this is all a bit of fun. We know football club chairmen only ever make sane and rational decisions. We in no way would imply that John Dan Thomas would shaft Richard Cornelius or that Kath McGuirk would wave a salami around in the council chamber. And we certainly don't mean to imply that John Hart or Maureen Braun are past it, as both have shown what marvellous councillors they are in the last year. And even we don't believe the Tories would be silly enough to readmit Brian Coleman!

Sunday, 27 December 2015

The Blogs of the year on the Barnet Eye

As ever at this time of year, we finish the old year and start the new year with a few rituals. We had a brilliantly successful Barnet Eye Community Awards Ceremony at The Chandos Arms. We hope you enjoyed our Xmas message. The next tradition is our blogs of the year. This is where we take a  look back at the four hundred and one blogs we've published this year and pick our favourites on a month by month basis. As years go, 2015 has been an exceptionally horrible one.

We've seen the rise of ISIS and some truly horrific attacks in France, starting with the Charlie Hebdo raids and ending with a night of terrible carnage. We've seen the political response which was for the UK to once more get embroiled in a foriegn war. Perhaps, like no other war we've ever been involved in, we are putting service personell at risk when none of the potential winners are offering anything which looks remotely like what we call a civilised government. The choices seem to be ISIS, Assad or God only knows what. At least this time no one is pretending that a civilised, democratic state is going to be the outcome.
In the UK political spectrum, we had a truly bizarre year. Up until May, it appeared that the consensus was that the coalition had done a decent job. Everyone expected another one. Sadly, it appears that everyone was mislead by pollsters, who it now emerges didn't actually bother to ask ordinay people what they thought. Ordinary people took an axe to the Lib Dems. They simply took the view that if you wanted a Tory government, then you vote Tory. The Lib Dems exited stage left and for a short while it seemed as if Cameron and Osborne were all conquering. Amazingly, we end the year with Osborne looking more and more like damaged goods as one key policy after another falters and is rejected, most notably tax credits.

The Labour Party did what the Labour Party is best at. They launched into an extended period of navel gazing. Labour members could not have been more clear who they wanted to lead the party. Sadly the Labour MP's disagree and seem determined to do everything they possibly can to stick two fingers up at the membership and their own democratic process. It appears to me that Labour is not actually functioning as a party at the moment. We have highly motivated activists on the streets, who are completely disconnected from the party machine. You don't have top be a genius to see what will happen next. My own view is that the Blairite fringe who are simply waiting for Corbyn to fall are deluded fools who need to get off their backsides and wake up. A divided party is a party that fails. Cameron is smart enough to see this, why aren't the Labour MP's?

On a  personal front, it has been horrible. A good friend lost his 20 year old son in a horrific accident in New Zealand. That has cast a long shadow. I've also had to come to terms with some unwelcome news in reference to my own cancer diagnosis.

Highights? Well there have been a few. From the perspective of my band, it has been a classic year. We've nearly finished our album, we've released a video on Youtube and we've played some classic gigs. We've also written several classic songs. My daughters have both started Uni, which has been a good experience for them. Anyway, without further ado, here is my choice for the blogs of the year.


There could only be one. The big story in January. The biggest ever petition in the Borough. There were a few, but I believe this one pulls all of the themes together.

West Hendon Estate scandal in Pictures and Words - Please sign this petition



Save London Music - Support for our campaign


 For me personally, 2015 has seen me launch a major campaign. This was a response to the closure of over 40% of Londons key music venues in the last 10 years. The campaign has gone from strength to strength, with even Boris Johnson supporting it and setting up a task force. This is where it started.

Save London Music - Campaign Launch Friday 27th February


Although my cancer diagnosis has caused me much grief throughout the year, this particular story was pretty left field. This is how The Holiday Inn Hotel group ruined my 20th wedding anniversary. They never apologised and they offered no explanation for their actions. I do a lot of travel and will be avoiding them like the plague until the day I drop dead.

Rog T's Cancer Blog - How Holiday Inn used Cancer as an excuse to ruin my 20th wedding anniversary treat


Sometimes you don't have to say too much to get a point across. Reading this blog again just reminded me of how simple it should be to get a message across whenb you are right.

Tax - No one likes it until they need public services 


In May, the Tories won a massive victory both locally and nationally. I asked members of all  the parties to contribute guest blogs. By far the most illuminating and interesting was one from Stephen McKenzie, who is a young Tory activist. This got a huge response. I suspect that in years to come Stephen will be a name to watch in the Conservative party (assuming he isn't too put off by some of the unpleasant shenanigans we've read about in the press in relation to youth activists). Having seen both the Labour and Lib Dem local party machines at close hand over a number of years, it is pretty clear to me that the Tories have a far better and more organised approach, with a focus on what will get voters out (or keep opposition voters in). It is a bit ironic that despite Barnet having the worlds greatest local bloggers, none of us were engaged to help any of the opposition parties in the election campaign. Given the tens of thousands that read this blog every month, that is truly bizzare.

Guest Blog - Hendon Election Analysis - By Stephen McKenzie


In June my attention was 100% on the Mill Hill Music Festival. I wrote this blog primarily to capture all the details, to help me plan for the next one. In fact it has been a really successful edition, with people contacting me from far and wide for help and info and just to thank me for putting it together

How to plan a local music festival


We are now in the heady months of Summer. Seems like a long time ago, doesn't it. At the time I made a prediction that seemed absurd. I stated that I thought Jeremy Corby could and would win the Labour Leadership contest.  A couple of Labour Councillors at the time took the trouble to tell me I was off my rocker! A few days later a poll was published that said he was ahead in the polls. The rest is history.

Can Jeremy Corbyn win? Ask Margaret Thatcher


In August we had a massive response to our blog about scrapping the Meals on Wheels sevice in Barnet. The whole issue fills me with sadness. That is all I can really say right now. It is an attck on the most vulnerable people in Barnet and the people who have sought to defend the decision disgust me.

Exposed - The inhumanity of Barnet Council in ending meals on wheens for vulnerable people


There really can only be one blog for September. The Barnet Libraries Childrens March. What a day, what a joyous event. Sadly our local politicians don't really seem to care, but what a great community we have.

Save Barnets Libraries Childrens March


A rather personal blog, but one which means a lot to me. For you, dear reader, this may give some idea of my motivations.

Some things are worth fighting for 


How did London respond to the Paris atrocity? I wrote this blog about the England vs France football match which will probably be one of the most moving occasions I have ever attended.

A night at Wembley to be proud of 


The big story in December was the shenanigans surrounding the election for the general secretary of UNISON. Local Barnet General Secretary John Burgess was seemingly on the end of some sharp practices from staff of the Union, who are meant to be impartial. The story has been picked up by Private Eye and The Guardian amongst others.

Barnet UNISON Rep John Burgess stitched up in dodgy Union election shenanigans


That was the year. Lets hope for a better one in 2016.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

The Tweets of the Week in the London Borough of Barnet - 26/12/2015

Here they are, we know you've all been waiting!

1. This has to be the tweet of the week in our neighbourhood. I am sure any of us would have been proud to post this! Well done to Tai

Burnt Oak smuggle in their meat? Bye
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2. Any Expats from our neck of the woods may find this tweet and the associated video rather interesting. Some nice views of Mill Hill

I added a video to a playlist [British Bus Rides] Metroline 240 Edgware to Golders Green.

3. Wheely19 asks a question a few of us have been wondering
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4. This one from ShepMichaels raised a bit of a smile

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5. Have to agree with Ian Dunn.
6. Huw Price doesn't seem to have much sympathy for slightly short sight motorists

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7. YEs James, indeed

8. Aditiya Chakrabortty recognised a true hero from our community in The Guardian

9. Pleased to see that our Barnet Charity of The Year were pretty made up to win!

SO excited to be awarded 'Barnet Charity of the Year' by -THANK YOU 👏 (thanks for nominating) 
10. And it seems our choice of Barnet Event of the Year was well received as well
Really pleased that was awarded 2015's best event in Barnet awards last night. Thanks to the judges.

------------------------- Thats All Folks - The Next Tweets of the week will be in 2016 ------------

Boxing Day Bucket List - I say aim high!

Lets have some festive fun! I thought I'd put together a festive fun bucket list. Here's a top twenty things I'd really love to do before I croak. I've set the bar pretty high though, so it may be difficult.

1. Look at Planet Earth through a telescope from another planet.
2. Stage a gig for the Mill Hill Music Festival featuring both of the might Boz's - Mr Scaggs and Boorer
3. Open a brewery and have a Mill Hill Stout in the range (dedicated to my mum of course)
4. Reopen Darlands Lake as a boating lake
5. Open a decent wine bar in Mill Hill Broadway
6. Open a decent Fish and Chippy in Mill Hill Broadway (I miss La Carp D'Ora )
7. Open a decent music venue in or near  Mill Hill Broadway
8. Reopen Woolworths in Mill Hill Broadway
9. Stage a Mill Hill Festival of Food and Drink
10. See Barnet FC move to Copthall
11. See the North London Light Railway opened, linking Finchley Central to Brent Cross via Mill Hill and Hendon (with a stop for Saracens at Allianz Park)
12. Reinstate pay and display cash parking machines in our High Streets
13. Design and install sound deadening panels for the M1 motorway through Mill Hill, reducing noise pollution by 30% and giving us a decent nights sleep.
14. Get the London Mayor to take proper responsibility and deal with air quality in Mill Hill Broadway Bus station  (the place with the worst measured air quality in Western Europe, where hundreds of school children breath noxious and dangerous fumes every day)
15. Stage a gig inside Apex Corner Roundabout
16. Reopen Mill Hill Open Air Swimming Pool (which should never have been shut in 1983 as the land was bequeathed to the people of Barnet to be used as a swimming pool).
17. See the footpaths improved in Arrendene open space so it is possible to walk dogs through the fields at this time of the year
18. See Dr Matthew Offord MP recognise his dream and open a good cheese shop in Mill Hill
19. See a good fishmonger open in Mill Hill Broadway
20. Watch Manchester City lift the Champions League Trophy

If I could see all of those things I think I'd be able to die very happy and I think Mill Hill would be a much better place to live in. It's sad really how many of the things are simply putting back things which have been lost.

Friday, 25 December 2015

The Barnet Eye Christmas message 2015

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'They say there's always magic in the air on (Mill Hill) Broadway'
May I take this oppportunity to wish all of my friends, family and readers of the Barnet Eye a marvellous and peaceful Christmas. Whatever your faith, or lack of it, I hope you have a lovely day and whatever wishes you may have had for Christmas are granted.

As is the tradition in my family, we attended the Childrens mass at The Sacred Heart Church in Mill Hill yesterday. The picture at the head of this blog was what I thought was a rather magical scene as I walked to the Church, A full moon rising over the Sacred Heart, the lights and a no 186 London bus on the way to Brent Cross. Maybe this rather blurry picture sums up what Christmas is in 2015. As you can see, the Church has been rather dwarfed by the new flats on the corner of Hartley Avenue. The £1 shop is still open and doing a roaring trade and the bus makes its winding way towards the palace of mammon that is Brent Cross. But despite all of this the rising moon lends a magical quality to the scene and reminds us that our little corner of London is really only a very tiny little sea of tranquility in a turbulent world.

I love the childrens mass at Christmas. The singing of carols and the telling of the story of the nativity is always rather special. It does no harm to also be reminded of those who are not quite so lucky in the world. Fr Kevin reminded us of those who are mourning, suffering and of those loved ones who have passed on in the last year. For many of us Christmas is the time of year when we feel such losses most acutely. We were urged to say prayers for those suffering in the Middle East and the refugees displaced across our continent. Whatever your beliefs of lack of them I am sure you will agree that those of us in rich Western nations have to some degree failed these people. I wonder if we'd spent just 10% of the money we spend on bombs on Universities, medicines and food for the poor, whether the hard hearted militants would hate us quite so much?

There is much talk of the Spirit of Christmas? Well what is it? Christmas symbolises birth and change. Whatever you think of the story of the birth of Jesus, there are a few lessons anyone can take (even if you don't believe the story).

1. Jesus was born out of wedlock. Joseph was not his biological father, but he accepted him and treated him as his son. He comes out of the story with a lot of credit. We should all show a bit of his tolerence and forgiveness. Did he doubt Marys story? He clearly loved her and that was enough.

2. Jesus had to flee Bethlehem for fear of persecution. When we criticise "ASYLUM SEEKERS" maybe we should consider the beginnings of the man who founded the state religion in the UK. Every time you slag off an asylum seeker, you are slagging off Jesus Christ as well (and for you atheists, that doesn't let you off the hook, we all need to be decent people).

3. Three wise men travelled "from the east" to visit the scene of the birth. We all have to "follow our star". If we have to do something, even if the journey is perilous, we must see it through.

4. The Sheperds on the hill also bore witness to the birth. I draw great consolation that the man who many believe to be the messiah was born witness to by ordinary blokes as well as Kings from the east. We all matter.

5. And perhaps the biggest one. Mary and Joseph were given shelter in a barn, where Mary gave birth. An act of small kindness by an innkeeper. Do we have a barn in our hearts, where we can give someone a little bit of shelter to someone who needs it? For the last year I've volunteered at a homeless centre. Is it right that 2,000 years after the birth in a barn of the man who founded our state religion, that people still have to sleep in barns, parks and doorways.

For each and every one of my readers, I'd love to give you all a special Christmas Present. As a musician and a music lover, here is my gift. To me this is perhaps the song that sums up the true spirit of Christmas. I hope you enjoy it.

A world that has given us Billie Holiday cannot be all bad, can it?

Merry Christmas

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas Greetings from The False Dots

Roger Tichborne's photo.
The False Dots Christmas Show at The Chandos Arms
Most Barnet Eye readers know me as Rog T, the Barnet Blogger. Many also know I play guitar and write songs in a band called The False Dots. We write 'songs of love and war'. This year has been a great year for us. I am blessed to work with fantastic people and I'd urge everyone to make music, whether it is in a band a choir, an orchestra or even with your friends around the camp fire! It will make you happier and healthier. Here is our band Christmas Message to all our friends.

A very merry Xmas to all our friends.
We look forward to the New Year. It will be a special year for The False Dots. We will be releasing our Album "Songs of Love and War" in the spring. We've already started working on the follow up project! 2015 has been a great year for the band. We've had some cracking shows, notably at The Fiddlers Elbow in Camden, The Chandos Arms in Colindale and The Midland Hotel in Hendon. We've written and recorded some classic new tracks with"Please Myself" perhaps being the pick of the bunch. We also released our first video of Winter in Your Heart, which I think is a classic, if you haven't already seen it, have a look. 

I think that is the strength of the songwriting partnership I have with Allen. We both really love writing songs that capture the important emotions in our life. e I've ever met. He's engineered all of our recordings and watching him leap off tables on Friday just summed up his sheer joy of performing. Graham on drums has always been a fine drummer. It can be hard for a drummer to make too much impact on a band, but Graham is one of the most dynamic and original drummers I've ever seen. He brings something to the music which is simply irreplacable.We are also blessed to have Fil on bass. He is one of the most musically talented peoplPlaying in a band has always been a very special thing for me.

Playing with Allen Ashley, Fil Ross and Graham Ramsay is a privelidge and an honour, as well as a lot of fun. I've played with many musicians over the years, but to work with three other people so committed to making great music and who always give 100% to ensure every show is as good as possible is just amazing. There have been many small things which have made me proud of what we do, one example that springs to mind was at the recent gig at The Chandos. After we played a chap came up to me and said "That football song you do (Saturday) is the best song about football I've ever heard. I've come down to watch Huddersfield play tomorrow and its the first song that captures what it is really like to be a fan". For me as a musician and a writer such moments are as high an accolade as can be given. It says in the Koran "To Save One Person is to Save The whole world". I honestly believe that being a musician has saved me, that is why as a band we have fought so hard for music, musicians and music venues, and are proud to support the Save London Music campaign. Music is something that can change your mood, change your day and change your life for the better. That is why I believe it to be so important. What would Christmas be like without the carols, a far less joyous occasion no doubt? It is all part of a wider picture which is why it is vital that musicians of all genres and styles are supported. The False Dots work hard to avoid being pigeonholed. The gigs we've promoted this year have included African music bands and Brazilian Bossa Nova musicians to name a few styles. We yearn for the glory days of Top of The Pops, when the whole family would watch music together and see an eclectic mix of artists and styles, rather than today where each genre has its own narrow minded channel.

As a band, we are musically promiscuous. Allen works with First Edition, who do great Jazz and Poetry Shows. Fil plays lead guitar and sings with Rock and Roll Sons and Graham plays drums in a great party band called Tell The Others. We are all driven individuals on a mission!

I believe that music has the power to overcome social and personal barriers between people. It brings people together and is the soundtrack to our lives. As a band, we work tirelessly to promote the values of love, peace and community. We are al tremendously proud of the work we do and we hope that we've brought some joy into your heart this year.

We'd all like to wish all of our friends a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful safe and Happy New Year.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Is John Burgess a left wing looney?

Yesterday Aditya Chakrabotty wrote a blog about Barnet Unison branch seretary John Burgess
(My hero in 2015? The man with the plan to beat the cuts) detailing just why he admires John Burgess so much. It seems to me that John, who I consider to be a top man, is a bit of a Marmite character. People either love him or hate him. I've been copied in a couple of email chains of people congratulating John on being recognised in a national paper. The comments of local campaigners and residents of Barnet, have been glowing with pride that "our man" has been picked out as man of the year. There are however a group of people who seem to have a radically different view. 

There is a recording doing the rounds, which has an official of Johns own union implying that John is a dangerous left wing looney. As John is a bit of a thorn in the side of the local Conservatives, you may have expected them to be in the "loathe" camp as well. In actual fact, I've yet to meet a Barnet Tory who has a bad word to say about John. Even John Hart, who is an old school right wing Tory, recently told me that he thinks John is an excellent chap, even if they disagree on how the council should conduct its business. No Barnet Tory has ever called John a Left wing looney. The reason is that they have seen how he works for the members of his Union. John doesn't do shouty sloganeering. He makes his case in reasonable terms and tries to engage with those he is seeking to convince. The Union official alleged that his campaign is run by the SWP. In all of the campaigns I've been involved with alongside John, I've never seen the SWP directing anything. I've no idea if any of the people I've campaigned with are SWP, but if they are, they've been very quiet about it. What I have seen is ordinary people such as John Sullivan, who has a disabled daughter supporting John, as he seems to be the voice of reason for disabled people in Barnet. I've seen local traders such as Helen Michael, who runs Cafe Buzz and is the chair of North Finchley traders working with John to improve parking policies. I've seen John working with the CPZ campaign to ensure ordinary people don't get ripped off. I've seen John working with the library campaign to keep our local librarys open. Is this left wing looneyism? I don't think so.

I do wonder if the people who are in the "I hate John Burgess" camp actually know him? I suspect that they are more driven by self interest, preserving comfy jobs and not having to work too hard for their members than by anything else? Is John a left wing looney? Well he certainly isn't a right winger, but as far as I am concerned he is one of the sanest, most hard working and decent people I've ever met. I'm not a member of a trades union and I run my own business. I think I am pretty objective about the matter. Barnet workers have not got a history of pointless wildcat strikes. They simply have fought for their jobs and for a good deal for Barnet. I doubt any reasonable person considers that looney, do you?

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Monday, 21 December 2015

Refugees in Barnet this Christmas

I saw a note in the Sacred Heart Parish magazine this weekend which struck a bit of a chord. It said

Knights of Columba Christmas Mile 10.00: This year the Knights are responding to the call of Pope Francis and are asking for sponsors to run or walk on their Christmas Mile on Christmas Morning at Mill Hill Park. The funds will be donated to assist Sacred Heart Parish to respond to the plight of the refugees.

I immedately thought what a marvellous idea. Christmas is the start of a story of a baby who became a refugee, fleeing to Nazereth, to escape persecution at the hands of an unjust King. Whether or not you believe the story, the sad truth is that in the Middle East many babies are having to flee. We saw the sad death earlier in the year of a young boy, who fell into the sea from a dodgy boat. For a small period, we all got back in touch with our humanity.

Whether or not you want to join the Knights of Columba, do your own walk, or just make a donation to help refugees in our neighbourhood, please give it a thought. The Barnet Refugee service is an excellent charit -

Their website says this

Welcome to Barnet Refugee Service

BRS is an independent registered charity working to improve the quality of life for refugees and asylum seekers who live, work or study within Barnet and surrounding London boroughs. We work in partnership with local agencies and the greater community to promote the physical, social and mental well-being of our clients. We do this by working to reduce health inequalities, social exclusion and poverty that overwhelm this group of individuals.

 Please give it a bit of thought.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Mad Friday, more like a mad weekend!

I am writing this before I turn in for the night. I am absolutely shattered. I have been on the go since about 6:30 am Friday, when I got up to see building contractors, who are starting a job for a family business. As we had the Barnet Eye awards on Friday night, the day was spent making last minute arrangements. My band, the False Dots were also appearing, so there was a lot of work to do and equipment to be delivered. As it was the evening was a phenomenal success. In previous years, the awards were just something I casually put together for a bit of fun. This year, we did it properly, sought nominations and had a system of judging, giving proper citations.i think this was a great success. I think the awards were brilliant and the recipients excellent. Of eight categories, only one was my nomination. I've learned a lot in the process.  Perhaps the biggest lesson is that if you want people to receive their certificate, you don't arrange the ceremony for 'mad Friday'. The gig was packed and amazing. I am blessed to play with three fantastic musicians.

Saturday was just as hectic, another early start, with a hangover! Much running round collecting gear, I had to speak to Robert Elms about Save London Music. I also had to drop off and rig a PA system in West Hampstead for the James Hunter gig in West Hampstead for my buddy Lyn Boorer. This involved another late night and more beer! We got a great sound after early hiccups. We finished up home at 2am. 

This morning we got up early, took the dogs across the park, I went to a Mass (always good to keep on the right side of the Almighty in Xmas week). Lovely service with about 50 small children singing away in a manger. You'd need a stone heart not to well up. Then we drove to Burnham on Crouch for my god sons 24th Birthday. He's grown into a fine young man. He's a teacher at a local comprehensive school, the one where he was educated. I think he gives a good role model to the kids.

We had to get back for 6pm as Jazz legend Ian Shaw was playing at The Chandos in Colindale. It was a great gig. I love the pub and its owners Ara and Emily. They gave regenerated a clapped out failing pub and deserve the support of all the community.

And now I sleep, goodnight

Saturday, 19 December 2015

The Barnet Eye Community Awards 2015

Full Roll Call

Barnet Person of the year
– Polly Napper (Library campaigner)
– Nominated by Julia Hines (Charity Campaigner)

"Polly has worked tirelessly campaigning to preserve
 and maintain the library service in Barnet in the face 
of budget cuts. This award recognises the need for 
champions in our community for our heritage and
cultural life"

Barnet Charity of the year
– Art Against Knives
– Nominated by Julia Hines(Charity Campaigner)

"Art Against Knives are a ground breaking and innovative 
charity working with young people to provide creative
alternatives to violence and gang culture. This 
award recognise the essential work they have 
done and will continue to do in our community"

Barnet Pub of the Year
– The Chandos Arms
– Nominated by Roger Tichborne (The Barnet Eye)

"The Chandos Arms has established itself as the best grassroots
music venue in the London Borough of Barnet. It has been regenerate
into a welcoming and friendly community hub and become a key 
element of the Colindales community.

Barnet Comedy patron of the Year
– Polly Penter
– Nominated by Emily Kollviet (Pub/Venue Owner)

"Polly has put comedy on the map in Barnet, giving 
opportunities to up and coming talent and bring 
established comedians to a part of London that had
previousy been a comedy desert"

Barnet Band/Artist of the Year
– Little Em
– Nominated by Emily Kollviet (Pub/Venue Owner)

"Little Em is one of the oustanding artists of the new generation. 
Tipped for great things in 2016!"

Barnet Teacher of the Year
– Susi Earnshaw
- Nominated by Allen  Ashley (author/poet/teacher/singer)

"Susi has dedicated her life to giving young people the 
opportunity to realise their dreams of acting. Thousands
of young people have been able to realise and develop their
potential due to her hard work and inspiration" 

Barnet Restaurant of the Year
– Haven (Whetstone)
– Nominated by Helen Michael (Café Owner and chair of North Finchley Traders)

"Haven is an excellent restaurant, with outstanding food and service.
It is also a key supporter of many charities and good causes, supporting
hosting numerous events and acting as a hub of the community"

Barnet Event of the Year
- Finchley Literary Festival
- Nominated by Allen Ashley (author/poet/teacher/singer)

 "The Finchley Literary festival is a jewel in the cultural crown of our
Borough. It is built on the hard work of an excellent team and gives us 
an opportunity to enjoy the work of many great authors and writers 
in our community in some fantastic venues"

The Barnet Eye wishes to thank all of the above for making 2015 a truly special year in our Borough. The people and organisations listed above have all made a massive contribution to the lives and happiness of people living in the London Borough of Barnet. It is only right and proper that they get some recognition for their efforts. Many thanks to everyone who contributed nominations, to our team of judges who evaluated the process and especially to The Chandos Arms for allowing us to hold our awards ceremony and Christmas party at their fantastic venue. 

Congratulations to all.