Sunday, November 29, 2009

The 250th post.

This week marks my 250th post to the Maggot Sandwich; I would have hardly believed it possible when I tentatively published my first post way back here. Unfortunately when I updated the look and feel of my blog a while back, all of the changes were retrospective. Some of the longer serving readers may recall the original purple and green spotty themed layout I used when I started (what was I thinking?) Anyway, this marks my quarter Kiloblog. I wonder if I can copyright that new unit of measurement?

The photo above shows a large cargo ferry - the M.V Cymbaline, passing Erith whilst heading down the River Thames; we do get some interesting river traffic from time to time. Click on the photo for a larger version. You can see more of my photos on my Flickr photo site here.

TV Chef and namesake Hugh Fernley Whittingstall has been encouraging people to eat more game in his most recent television series - in fact he has been paying especial attention to the large number of wild rabbits that have been raiding his extensive vegetable garden. As a child, I often used to eat rabbit, usually in the form of a casserole; the meat was very cheap, tasty and nutritious. As the years have passed, rabbit has become more and more difficult to obtain. Supermarkets don't stock the meat, and the only places locally that you can buy it are the specialist butchers like Dennis of Bexley, where is is rather expensive - rather than the free peasant food it was of yore. I think the main reason for this is that people nowadays associate rabbits as pets or cuddly toys, rather than as the fast breeding and destructive rodents they actually are in the wild. I think rabbits have had rather better P.R than they deserve in the last couple of decades.

Local free radio station WNKR are still on 1395 KHz medium wave, as Big L despite all of their publicity and bluster have failed to come back on air. WNKR have said they will move to another frequency as soon as Big L come back, but so far there has been no sign of activity. On further radio related news, I have read two long posts on a radio chat site from my old boss and mentor Peter Moore, the manager of Radio Caroline. He's a far more intelligent and thoughtful man than he credits himself with. I have reproduced a piece from him below which is actually from two chat room posts of his, with slight edits for content and continuity. Here is Peter Moore writing about his relationship with Radio Caroline creator, the inimitable and somewhat eccentric Ronan O'Rahilly:

Someone asked the question about myself and Ronan and the thread was getting multi faceted so I started a new one. The situation from when the mast came down, to the raid and the shipwreck and Spectrum taking what Ronan thought was ' his ' frequency on 558 undoubtedly damaged him. Thereafter he tried to get, or said he was trying to get, his third world licence but to no avail. He also obsessively tried to prosecute the UK and Dutch governments for the raid. Initially the advice we were given by various notable solicitors was that we had a good case, but this was watered down as time went by. Whenever a law firm told us that our case was not sound, Ronan would regard them as traitors, even though he had chosen them and we had to start all over again with a new firm.

A great deal of money ( some of it mine ) was spent on legal action right in to the start of this decade but it came to nothing. I know that Ronan was disinterested in our attempts to get on air in a minor way, although we viewed it as being better than nothing. But he did show up when I asked him, to either show solidarity or to meet the media.

As the years passed the contact between us became less and less, but he reappeared when the Richard Curtis film was announced, in the hope that we could jointly sue Universal Pictures. But there was no basis for this. The film did not purport to be Radio Caroline and none of the actors were recognisable as a real Caroline personality. Now I see Ronan about four times a year. Each time I have to remind him where the ship is. We mostly talk about the old days, which is nice.

I think he lost interest in Caroline many years ago and the new technology is a mystery to him. Of course he will be welcome to get involved again if he ever wishes to. Having worked for and with Ronan since 1986 and actually having first met him in 1970, he is mostly as much a mystery to me and he is to all of you. I could take a guess at where he lives in Chelsea, but he would never confirm nor indeed deny his actual location. I do not have his phone number and if I need to contact him I use a go between.

He is in a relationship ( I think ) but will not confirm or deny that he is married. When he is not in the UK he is sometimes in Ireland, but I know not where, he only says that he is off to ' The Emerald ' which means anywhere in Ireland. Due to the relationship that he may or may not have, he is sometimes in France.

He is capable of driving, but never drives and has no car in any case. Where he once used black cabs and met me only in restaurants, he now uses the underground and we sit drinking tea in my office. He will not drink milk or have any sugar, he never touches alcohol and if he drinks water he has to see it poured from a previously sealed bottle.

He never discusses his income, but he has never worked, in the conventional sense . He is always immaculately turned out, but in old and inexpensive clothes.

Often he still uses an alias. I think that ( same as me to a degree ) through having no rules to follow and nobody to answer to, he has ritualised his life and now is almost trapped by ritual. He is good at saying as lot without actually saying anything at all. He deflects questions with counter questions and if he ever gets angry it is because someone has got too close to the truth. All in all a fascinating and complex chap. He did say that once his parents were no longer alive he might then tell the story of his life, but I have my doubts that this will ever happen.

In 1970 he was my hero but this is not the case today, I just like him and indeed feel a bit sorry for him.I mean, you may see a fabulous oil painting in a gallery and think it is an utter work of art, but if you go right up to it you see that it is really just a collection of dabs and daubs of different colour paint.

It is the same painting, but the mistake was to get too close to it.

Personally I think that that is an exceptionally well written and thoughtful article on a complex and mysterious man; I have known Peter for twenty years and although he has written a couple of booklets that have been privately published, I would love for him to write a full and authoritative account of his experiences with Radio Caroline. I for one would pay good money to read it.

I would love to be able to take credit for the excellent photo above - it shows the mountains around Keswick in Cumbria, captured in moody monochrome. It was taken by fellow photographer Olly Rolfe on a recent holiday to the area; personally I think the shot looks like it could have come from the cover of The Joshua Tree by U2. Click the photo for a much bigger version.

I have again been commuting to Birmingham a couple of times over the past week; It is a long journey, taking around four hours each way. On Friday, I took a Virgin  Pendolino train from Euston to Birmingham New Street, I was sat opposite two blokes who turned out to be overly enthusiastic  Birmingham based double glazing salesmen. They spent the entire journey droning on in slightly adenoidal voices about double glazing ("stainless steel is going to be the next big thing") interspersed with low squeaks and gastric rumbles, accompanied by a strong smell of curried eggs and boiled cabbage - one of them had what might well have been terminal flatulence.

It was a slightly more pleasant return journey - as I walked along the carriage to the loo, I noticed a middle aged chap wearing chunky headphones, sat at one of the seats with a table. He had a laptop, and was running what looked like Cubase on it - he was mixing an audio track. On my return to my seat I had a further look at him - and I realised that it was Jazzie B (OBE) - the Ivor Novello award winning songwriter, producer, radio presenter and creator of Soul II Soul. For someone who has a reputation based on the world of soul and urban music, he was wearing a Queen T - shirt (the design was the cover of their 1978 album "Jazz" which could well have been a play on words with his nickname). When I sat back down I could hear him on his mobile phone, apparently talking to his daughter who had managed to lock herself out of her flat.

Bexleyheath Asda supermarket made it into the national press on Friday - in an unusual and slightly surreal way. Some Chavs stole a sheep from a farm in Gravesend, then drove it up to the Asda store, put it into a shopping trolley and pushed it into the shop. The photo below shows an image captured from Asda's closed circuit television system and the moment the sheep entered the shop. You can read more about the story on the BBC News website by clicking here. Quite what it was all about is still a mystery.

The whole of the North End area of the borough of Bexley has absolutely appalling terrestrial digital television coverage; Justin, aka Crash Calloway came round in the week - he had bought a new digital TV, only to find the signal from his existing antenna was insufficient to get any picture from his new purchase, and the service company that manages his apartment building is not considering upgrading the shared aerial system to receive the weaker digital signals until some time next year. The television got returned to the shop. I have encountered a similar situation. A few months ago I purchased a digital free view receiver for my Apple Mac; I could not get a signal from it, even when I bought an external antenna and R.F amplifier. I subsequently discovered from Dave Martin of WNKR that the local signal comes from the Wrotham, Kent transmitter site, and the power has been turned down as to not interfere with the French! This is not much help to local people. I will stick with my Sky+ satellite receiver for the present, I think.

On Wednesday evening I attended a public meeting in the Baptist church hall in Queen Street, Erith. The occasion was the launch of a neighbourhood watch scheme for both Manor and Crescent road. The meeting was attended by representatives of the local community, Bexley Neighbourhood Watch Association, and the local Safer Neighbourhood team from the Police. The meeting was a great success, though it would have been nice if a few more local residents had attended. All those residents in the new watch catchment area will automatically be receiving an information pack with accompanying letter within the next couple of weeks. There will be help on securing ones' property, Neighbourhood Watch stickers to put in your house windows to deter burglars, as well as details on how to get your valuables marked with SmartWater. We will be getting metal warning signs added to several local lamp posts, and the residents will have a much improved ability to feed back to the local police in respect of  local law and order issues. All good stuff.

This weeks' video is a future classic - it has already been viewed online nearly seven million times at the time of writing. This is the Muppets with their version of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.

1 comment:

  1. 250?
    'Ruddy hell!
    That's scary…
    Should that amount of Pewty be ALLOWED on the 'Net? Will it not warp the very fabric of the Web??
    Whatever the case, congrats at reaching your quarter of a Thousandth post!

    Cool pic of the ferry, Jesus but that things big.
    I've always fostered an interest in huge boats ever since "back in the day" of a certain rusty red and white "largest-ex-North-Sea-sidearm-trawler". Nothing like Autumnal sunshine for picking out detail and sharpening a picture as well.

    Ahh the tousle haired H.F.W…
    I'm not a fan of celebrity chef's or cooking programmes but I make the exception for him. The man's a joy to watch. He actually lives just a few miles from my parents in the town Bridport which I've often visited but sadly never seen him.
    Got to admit not a fan of game though.
    I too used to have rabbit as a kid but didn't like the texture if I remember rightly and your right you just can't buy it anymore. Actually in Chaz n' Dave's seminal track "Rabbit" (Hey! I think it's a top track! If they're good enough to open for Led Zep at Knebworth then they're bona fidie rock & roll!) there's a line that goes "…you've got more rabbit than Sainsbury's..", it shows the era it was written in as I doubt Sainsbury's have sold rabbit for at least a decade, not that I ever shop there, I remember being dragged round it grown and cream stores when I was a kid with my Mum and I've hated the place ever since but I digress as obviously at that time it was a staple of the meat counter. What other meat has faded from our plates? Hmmm…

    As I mentioned in a roundabout way Radio Caroline it was nice to read Mr.Moore's posting. Very…thought provoking.
    I've always though Ronan should have been pensioned off years ago, Peter's description of "a fabulous oil painting in a gallery and think it is an utter work of art, but if you go right up to it you see that it is really just a collection of dabs and daubs of different colour paint. It is the same painting, but the mistake was to get too close to it." sums the man up. He was a legendary figure but his glory days or usefulness are seemingly long gone. He's a fascinating man of mystery but he's crossed over the line into
    Thanks for posting Peter's comments, an interesting insight into a man that helped change the face of popular culture.

    Olly's photo is lovely. It's an almost Mars Rover camera type look. It just looks to barren and bleak.
    Oh yes sorry, you'd already said it was Wales...#ahem#

    You had to travel?
    You get a nosebleed leaving the boughrough!
    I'm saying nothing.
    You "Op' North"?
    It must be like stepping back in time. I thought double glazing salesmen had gone the way of the Dodo.
    I met Jazzie B once years ago just after Keep On Moving came out, he was...not very pleasant. Have some respect for the man but not a terribly high opinion of him.

    Oh the Sheep in Asda story!
    Hat's off to whoever did that, I'm impressed. I really don't care about the animals welfare, I doubt they mistreated it just terrified it by taking it (but seeing as it probably shat all over their car the Karma Monkey's probably happy) so a smile raised to a top prank.
    Next I'd like to see a bullock set loose in the Broadway!
    Or chickens released in KFC!

    Thanks for the heads up about digital TV coverage as my 12 year old Panasonic TV just blew and I'm in the market for a new telly.
    The kids are quite happy with a 20 year old Sony 10" portable that’s balanced on top of the broken one but I need something alittle more...watchable especially with the Festive 'Who almost upon us!

    Who told you about the Muppet video?
    Anyway, my fav bit is Animal just shouting "Mummmaaaaa??!", comedy gold with the addition of the "Cooeeee!" line instead of the harmonies.