Thursday, 30 July 2009

Loss of a councillor: Cllr Lillis dies

CllrLillisCouncillor Antony Lillis, who has represented a Fulham ward on Hammermsith & Fulham Council for two decades, died this week just weeks after being diagnosed with a virulent form of cancer. Tributes have been paid by those, on all sides of the political spectrum, who knew him.

Although I didn't know Cllr Lillis I seem to lose at least one person that I know somehow per year to this horrendous disease. I'm going to be running the London Marathon next year for Cancer Research UK as a result, and will be unashamedly using this blog to try to raise funds.

To all those who did know Antony I'm sure we all send you the best. Puts things in perspective.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Family Fun Day at QPR


QPRThis is my first week of a 'staycation' - although in my case its because I travel so much through work, when you get a  holiday its quite nice to just be in London! Its only day two and I've already taken in two tourist attractions with the kids.

Tomorrow will be spent at Loftus Road at the club's last big shin-dig before the season kicks off with the visit of Ian Holloway's Blackpool on August 8th. We're promised face painting, a bouncy castle, meetings with the modestly described "stars" and much much more. The blurb from QPR's press office is here, and as ever I will post a write up on here after the event. Come along if you're around and staycationing like me.

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Well, er, I think the main thing is they tried! It was a bit like a school fair really, with the added attraction of a massive queue to have the priveledge of meeting the "stars" who could sign things for you. The bouncy castle was a very small affair that kept deflating and the 'football skills training' was a plastic kids goal which you could kick a ball into from 2 metres with no goalie. And you got to see the empty stands, which was useful to get some shots of but apart from that..!

Its really easy to just be critical of things when someone else has made all the effort so its also worth saying that it was well attended, what looked like at least most of the first team were there dutifully signing things and even chairman Gianni made an appearance (see photos below).

So on balance full marks for reaching out to the local community - the atmosphere was good, and frankly the kids were all happy just to have balloons and face painting. So well done QPR. Now go and get promoted.


Sunday, 26 July 2009

Wormholt Park Stabbing?

knives_2307_narrowweb__300x4060With thanks to Vic for passing this on, there was apparently a stabbing in Wormholt Park last night (saturday). I have had a few people coming here via google looking for variations on that as well and there are two police cars currently outside the park.

I don't have any other information at this stage, but as normal please pass it on for other residents if you do via the comments section.

The local press has nothing on this as yet, the Ealing Gazette are still telling us that Shepherds Bush station is 'in bloom' with their latest article, dated the 6th July instead.

UPDATE 2200 SUNDAY: Over 65 of you have come to this article via searches for what has happenned on search engines alone. All depressingly familiar. The reader that flagged this up has given more details in a comment below. I will post more as soon as I get it.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Greenhalgh: the fightback on estates begins

H&F Editorial

Well, that's called being stung into action I think! An impassioned defence from the leader of H&F Council in the local propaganda rag and its hard to disagree with the ideas of breaking down social barriers and allowing people to realise their potential - I would think those would be common aims to all mainstream political parties.

The difficulty Cllr Greenhalgh and the rest of the council now has however is one of credibility - they are doing now what they should have done from the outset: admit their plans to redevelop the estates and publicly argue for that. Instead we had surreptitious flights to Cannes, official denials and then the embarassment of a Leader being forced to contradict his own press office. In short, few residents believe what they say anymore.

But we are where we are, and for Shepherd's Bush residents for whom this may well seem far removed from their daily lives, that might actually be the sort of divide Cllr Greenhalgh is talking about. My own street looks out onto the White City estate which I understand to be one of the estates the Council wants to redevelop. But the two sides of our street rarely talk to each other. So, is this the right way to break those sort of barriers down?

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

21/7 Shepherd's Bush attack

bomber"you'd better get off here", "get off now", "Ladies and Gents there seems to be some kind of security alert please get off this bus now" were the three announcements I remember on the 207 bus. We had pulled up just before the H&C tube next to the police station. We all knew what he was talking about and what the dozens of police frantically throwing up cordons and pushing people back up Uxbridge Road had to mean after the events of July 7th. You could smell the fear.

But not panic, if anything a morbid curiosity. I crossed through Shepherds Bush Market onto Goldhawk Road where, just a block away from where it was all happening there was no sense of what was happening so close by. Not even the helicopters overhead seemed to bother people. But then I got onto the Green. the "just one more" cafe had a big screen reporting a bomb attack at Oval. What did that have to do with what was happening here?

Noise. Police cars swerving around people at high speed driving across the Green itself to get to the tube station. More cordons. Journalists on mopeds screching to a halt and being ushered through the lines only to be stopped at the next one a few metres from the rest of us. More helicopters. More police. In short, paralysis.

Then the thirst for knowledge. What had happened? A long walk, my trip to the gym having been abandoned, back up Uxbridge Road. Stallholders from the market quietly, and with no panic, packing up their stalls and helping usher people away. Shop holders closing early and also joining in, asking how they could help. A community coming together. 

Police all the way up the road and a constant symphony of sirens that lasted for hours. Uxbridge Road closed for traffic further up so the only cars were police. It began to resemble a route from Carnival. Except the mood was anything but. 

Got home. 24/7 news coverage delivering very little actual news. And then the wait. This was the day, four years ago today, terrorism came to Shepherd's Bush.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Historic Bush No3

Most of the shop fronts in Shepherds Bush, especially those in and around the Green frankly seem to merge into one another to me; they all seem to be fast food outlets or various forms of financial companies competing to get people to take out small loans at what I guess are extortionate rates.

Above the Jamaica Bank, next to a restaurant and just before the Green, is a little seen sign though. Some iron lettering that announces the building as home of London County Council, having been built in 1900. Another old wooden sign proclaims its name to be Bush Green House.

The LCC,which was a late Victorian invention for the governance of London and lasted until the mid 1960s, was not based to my knowledge in Shepherd's Bush but this building was obviously of some considerable local significance for the West London of people who lived here between the 1890s and 1960s. It looks completely derelict upstairs and is probably used to store boxes in or something, by the tenants below. Along with the demise of the Passmore Edwards library, just a couple of doors up and built 5 years earlier in 1895, it too has lost most of its former status!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Historic Bush N02

So who was J Passmore Edwards? And why did he give the Bush its first library? He himself laid the foundations stone of our building in July 1895, 114 years ago.

John Passmore Edwards (March 24, 1823 – April 22, 1911)was a Victorian journalist, newspaper owner and philanthropist. He was born in Backwater, a small village, situated between Redruth and Truro, in Cornwall, the son of a carpenter.

A life-long champion of the working classes, Passmore Edwards is remembered as a generous benefactor. Over the space of 14 years, 70 major buildings were established as a direct result of his bequests. These included hospitals, 11 drinking fountains, 32 marble busts, 24 libraries, schools, convalescence homes and art galleries and the Passmore Edwards Settlement in Tavistock Place. He was also a generous donor to the Workers’ Educational Association.

He became the Manchester representative of London Sentinel , a weekly newspaper, opposed to the Corn Law . He was a Liberal Member of Parliament for Salisbury.
He then became the editor of a leading London newspaper The London Echo which he had bought in 1876. His publishing ventures had been failures for a time, but his 1862 purchase of Building News lead to profitability, this was followed by Mechanics Magazine and a share in the daily Echo. He eventually sold two thirds of his share in the London Echo to Andrew Carnegie to follow a political and social agenda. However, they disagreed and he bought it back and restored his editor in 1886. The paper closed in 1905
He was a delegate to peace congresses in Brussels, Paris, and Frankfort (from 1848 to 1850). He stood as an Independent candidate for Truro in the General Election of 1868. He didn’t win this seat but in 1880 he gained the parliamentary seat of Salisbury. However, he soon became a bit sceptical about the quality of professional politics and the inability of politicians to effectively represent the interests of their constituents. He twice refused knighthood, and his opposition to the Boer War made him somewhat unpopular. It makes me wonder how different today’s world would be if we only listened and learned from our ancestors.
Shepherds Bush library is about to be moved out of the J Passmore Edwards Building to Westfield. Is this a good thing? Probably yes, I’ve never argued against progress but its also a shame that a building that has stood since the 1890s as a library, and which was donated to be just that, is to lose its role.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Mayor's Expenses Time

Ian ClementAn absolutely pathetic exchange took place in the glorious seat of our devolved government the London Assembly this week relating to the Mayor's Deputy Ian Clements, who abused his expenses.

Is this sorry shower of second class politicians really what we pay our taxes for as Londoners?

Witness the sorry spectacle. (Click on 'Mayor's Question Time - 15 July)

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Historic Shepherd's Bush

And now .. for some local history! How much do you know about how the Bush came about? Most of the expansion that shaped the London that we know today happenned in the 19th century.

I'm told Shepherds Bush is so called because the drovers would rest and trade here before driving their flocks all the way into Smithfields meat market in EC1. I used to work in Farringdon near that market and it ws pretty gory then so imagine what a victorian slaughter house in the middle of the city looked like - and the traffic all the way there

London experienced a massive population explosion throughout that century including my own family who lived in London throughout the 1800s. They lived in an area called Walworth but now better known as Lambeth. I'm proud to say one of them served time in a  real life debtors prison!

Most of Walworth, and Shepherds Bush, and suburbs like it all over the city were built by the victorians to house all these middle classes and were usually given grandiose sounding names to counter the fact that country gentry still looked down on anyone that lived in the city. One side of Uxbridge Road is obviously genuinely Victorian and the pics below are of the lower half of Uxbridge Road near the H&C tube. Built in 1874 they are called "St Stephen's Villas" , complete with a gargoil of st stephen, but almost straight away they would have been divided into smaller flats as indeed they are still.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Shepherd's Bush Gasworks


The 'temporary site' for gas works which sprang up a few weeks ago now resembles a full scale military camp. Camp Gastion (geddit) now boasts a fully paved, concreted and raised verandah for the builders and is now surrounded by piles of materials. Just to reiterate I have no problems with fixing gasworks, but how long will our Green be occupied by this foreign force?!

And judging by H&F Council's past record of clearing up the Green I think its safe to assume that this part of our open space will now be out of action for the duration of the summer.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Interviewed by Londonist

londonistYour community blog interviewed here!


And hello to the (literally hundreds) of new people that came and had a look around as a result.

Hope you found it interesting.


Thank-you and goodnight!

Monday, 13 July 2009

New overground trains - but not for us!

new trainThe Mayor today unveiled brand new shiny trains ready to take the strain of hard pressed commuters who use the Overground network around the outer Boroughs of London. I, along with what seems like an ever growing number of Bush residents, use the Overground link between our new station at Shepherd's Bush and Clapham Junction, in order to get to my office in south London.

Sadly these super duper new trains won't actually come on stream however until 2011 and the first few new ones, which boast much more space and air conditioning, will only be available on what has been described the 'northern part of the line', which I took to mean from Willesden Junction to down Highbury/Hackney way. So don't kiss goodbye to those battered old relics that take us north and south of the river just yet! But hope is on the way...

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Stress in London

AnjoolI am not originally from London, I hail from a small town in North East England which, to be frank, when I was younger I couldn't wait to leave. Having been in the Capital for approaching 15 years now even going back to Yarm in Cleveland feels a bit odd. It's the sort of town where you either go to an exclusive posh school paid for by daddy or you're one of the masses who either joins the army, goes into a menial job or just drifts. There's not a lot of options.

Someone else from my home town Yarm that evidently felt the same way was 24 year old Anjool Malde. He came to London and, evidently brighter than the likes of me, became a rising star in the City. So I, and lately Anjool, became part of the lifeblood of young new immigrants that London constantly sucks in from around the world to write more pages of its amazing story. And together eight million of us continue to make this city the greatest in the world as we showed when we stood proudly together in all our diversity in the face of attack just four years ago. But amid that race towards all our goals we should remember that some of us get hurt in the stampede.

Because with rapid success comes pressure, particularly in that sector of finance. And last week Anjool committed suicide having been reprimanded at work for some minor email offence. Dressed in his favourite Hugo Boss suit and holding a glass of champagne he made a decision. And jumped out of the 8th floor window.

A microcosm of London life is our Shepherd's Bush Green which I walk across every morning. How many of the alcoholics on the benches were once rising stars but ruined either by their addiction or who now seek solace in it. And of everyone else, the many thousands who swirl past on the roads and pavements around that Green on bikes and cars and on foot everyday in the rat run, many will be on the up but some will be on the down. And some, sadly, will end up like poor Anjool. Or some will end up like the rough sleeper I found on the Green one freezing cold November morning, lying unconscious with his trousers round his ankles as people walked past, noses crinkled at the sight of his backside. The ambulance crew knew him by name and told me he had hypothermia. Again.

That incident alone is what prompted me to start this blog, though I still don't know quite why. Maybe just to put a human face on what can be a tough grinding place if you're too poor or down on your luck to admire the surroundings. Don't be afraid to ask if someone's OK every now and again. In fact do it today. Then this blog will have achieved something worthwhile.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Acton Carnival 2009

If you are in the Bush today the chances are you can hear the bass beat of loud soca music wafting over the air. This is the Acton Carnival happening just up the Uxbridge Road (video above) and over the border in Ealing at Acton Park. The 207 and 607 buses will take you there from the Bush  and its well worth the trip. £1 entry for adults, and sadly a knife arch to walk through, but after that there is a wide range of food, arts&crafts and music stalls and stages.

Here are some pics from thus far, it lasts till 7pm but I suspect there will be festivities in Acton park late into the evening


Thursday, 9 July 2009

Evening Standard: H&F Council plot to rid estates of poor

Dame Shirley PorterToday's Evening Standard is pretty devastating stuff for H&F Council, returning as it does to the topic of what H&F Council really have up their sleeves for the borough's estates. If this write up is to be believed, and frankly even if only a small part of it is actually true, we now have a council whose real agenda for these estates has been laid bare. They themselves even refer to it as "social cleansing" apparently. I can't help thinking this is very reminiscent of Dame Shirley Porter in Westminster.

For a long time now the council has maintained that they really have no plans but their defence has appeared shifty, as for example they jetted off to meet property developers in Cannes,  and recently even the Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh was captured on film being forced by residents to admit that the official line - that there had been no discussions with developers about selling off the land - was false. Discussions he admitted had in fact taken place.

Thanks to Labour MP Andrew Slaughter's successful freedom of information request we now have a very revealing insight into the real thinking that has been going on at Hammersmith Town Hall, which until now has been kept secret from residents. These papers talk of the estates as "barracks for the poor", another declares that their policy should not be "about giving someone a £1 million home for life" and another recorded comment says simply that it is "hard to get rid of people".

I can't see how resignations are not in order now. Its either the dishonesty of denial which surely cannot now be maintained, or the sheer nastiness of the approach itself. Either way, its a pretty ugly side of our local authority. I wonder if our local press will report it.

FRIDAY UPDATE: The Guardian are reporting this story here

SUNDAY UPDATE: Surprise surprise the Ealing Gazette are not reporting this story.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

207 Bus Police on Uxbridge Road

207Farcical scenes today on Uxbridge Road at lunchtime. The 207 I was on came to a stop as normal just before the KFC on the corner of Uxbridge Road and Boscombe Road. On march no fewer than five ticket inspectors with those little gadgets that measure Oyster cards but that they hold and point at you like pistols.

Cue also a scuffle outside the bus as one man, presumably without a ticket, tries to get away and is promptly physically restrained by two police officers who start shouting at him and force him into the driveway of someone's house to be searched!

We then wait, and wait, and wait. One of the bus inspectors is talking to the bus driver and clearly in no rush at all. People start to get off the bus only to be pushed back by those part time PCSOs they have now to make up the numbers. A female PCSO demands that another woman, who protests that she has to get to work and tries to catch the bus behind us, get immediately back on to the bus with the words "you cant leave the bus".

This prompts a mini verbal riot in which several irate, and now late thanks to TfL, passengers point out that unless the woman is under suspicion or is under caution the PCSO has no right to stop her getting off the bus. The PCSO duly realises she has overstepped the mark and actually steps off the bus herself. The rest of the bus, me included duly get off and get on other buses instead.

Is this really a good use of police and TfL resources? It wasn't a good use of my time. But then they couldnt care less about that - could they.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Ecclestone, QPR and Adolf Hitler

Ecclestone's Heroes


So Bernie Ecclestone, majority stakeholder in QPR, is an admirer of Adolf Hitler who, apparently, "got things done". I'll cut to the chase - how can Lakshmi Mittal and Flavio Briatore possibly now tolerate their continued association with Bernie Ecclestone? Which one of them will have to leave QPR, and can it please be Bernie Ecclestone with immediate effect?

The fascist loving Bernie Ecclestone might be better associated with a club whose name I wont mention in a different part of London more well known for its links to the far right after all, and QPR's last season wasn't exactly filled with examples of "getting things done". Most sickeningly Ecclestone in his tirade defends Hitler by dismissing both the deaths of millions in the Holocaust and the war by saying he somehow got 'led astray' but was otherwise a good leader.

QPR exists in an area more ethnically diverse than many others in the capital and yet when you go to see a game in my experience it is very rare to see more than a couple of non white faces. How can this possibly be improved while we have at the helm a man who is an admirer of Nazi Germany? How can QPR expect its fans to fork out for overpriced season tickets when they now know some of the profits will be going into the pockets of a man who supports people who bombed this city and slaughtered millions? He must now go, and take his repulsive views with him.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

July 7th 2005

we are not afraidWe all have memories.

0850. Damn that Hammersmith & Shitty Line. Doors slide slowly open and I'm late into Liverpool Street station, shit, its already nearly nine and even if I just walk to Old Street and not wait for the bus I'll still be at least half an hour late. Great. What the hell was that bang. Never mind, carry on up the escalators. Too many people, I hate tourists. God I'm hung over. Why do people always stand on the left can't they see its for walking up? And I'm late. Great there's the 214 bus. Thank f. for that. Here's a colleague, at least I'm not the only one late in. Lot of traffic. Wish I'd walked. Crowds outside Moorgate spilling on to the roads. Must be a fire alert, they're closing the station.

What are all these police cars streaming down city road in the opposite direction for? A lot of them dont have any markings. Some of them dont even have sirens or lights. Something's happenned. Must be the fire. Anyway I'm late. And who'se standing at the door - the chief executive. Great. I mumble something about delays. He swears about Transport for London. I think he's an idiot.

0930-1500 - glued to internet. a bus goes up. "it's an attack" says a colleague. No shit sherlock. Translating Blair's statement into sign language for deaf colleagues but my hands are shaking so I dont know if they understand. Two of them start to cry. They do understand. My mobile only works for one call and I make it through to mum. She is in shock. I get through to my partner on the landline. She is in shock. But the baby gurgles away in the background. I have to get back to them. Pointless meetings fill the day where we dont decide anything. Staff start to leave anyway. HR graciously give in to the inevitable and we all start to leave.

1500. At last leaving the office. But how long will it take to walk to east London to get to the in-laws? In my work shoes too. and this bag. must have the laptop. cant believe I just paid 5 pounds for an A-Z. Some people are making money from this. Everything surreal. Look at that. A stream of humanity coming up behind me . Most are suited city workers doing exactly the same thing as I am. All the taxi firms are shut on commercial road. I cant believe all these people are just sitting round laughing in these cafes and bars. They either dont care or they still dont know. Then passing the London Hospital in Whitechapel. Look at that. This is really happening. Oh god look at that one on the trolley. oh god. Now its starting to rain. And I don't have a coat.

Like I say, we all have memories. And they still hurt.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Gasworks take over the Green

0905240004A couple of weeks ago a fairly inoccuous looking little camp sprang up on Shepherd's Bush Green. There to do 'essential gasworks' it said, which I thought was fair enough.

Since then however the boundaries of this camp have steadily increased outwards and the volume of heavy building works traffic has steadily increased to the point where there are now piles of sand and building materials serving the various holes being dug in and around the Bush.

Then this morning I saw a very ominous sight - this 'temporary' site has now had a full scale concrete and paving stones ramp built up and around the portakabins, which now have deckchairs on them for the builders to enjoy the sun from on the verandah! How long exactly are these things going to be there?!