Sunday, April 25, 2010

St. George's Day.

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Photos of the Saint Georges' Day celebrations at the Robin Hood & Little John pub in Lion Road, Bexleyheath on a very chilly Friday evening. A large crowd gathered outside, mirrored by a large crowd inside the venue, in order to see a group of Morris dancers perform a traditional English seasonal Mummer's play, along with a selection of traditional dances celebrating England's national day.

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A Morris dancer above, dressed as Saint George, importantly holding a pint of Westerham Brewery British Bulldog ale in hand. This craft produced Kentish real ale was originally brewed privately for Sir Winston Churchill during World War II, and is now produced in limited quantities for the public. It was on sale for a reasonable £1.95 a pint, and very nice it was too.

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The appreciative crowd outside the pub that watched the traditional festivities, as the light slowly faded. Once the sun disappeared it soon got very cold though; Many wished they had dressed more warmly for the evening. The much warmer pub interior was also incredibly packed with visitors, supping on the eight well kept real ales and watching the action through the windows. I can honestly say I have never seen the pub as busy as it was on Friday night. You can see more photos of the event on my Flickr site by clicking here.

I see that after the unlawful killing of a man at the 229 bus stop in Erith town centre that I reported on back in early October last year, the perpetrator has just been sentenced. Here is a quote from the News Shopper: 

A DRUNKEN thug who killed a 64-year-old man by punching him in the face has been sentenced to four years in jail at the Old Bailey. The court was told how Billy Williams, aged 24, of Luddesdon Road, Erith, had a history of “drug-fuelled violence” before he punched Charles Campbell. The father of two already had four convictions for violence, including one for breaking a bottle over someone's head in 2007, the court was told.

You can read the full report on the News Shopper website by clicking here.

On a different note, I recently received an Email purportedly from Microsoft, inviting me to apply for a job with them; even if it was genuine (which I strongly doubt), I would rather cut off both my legs with a rusty bread knife than work for the Beast of Redmond.

Further to my report last week on the calculated planning violation by the owners of Potion in Erith Town Centre; the News Shopper have reported this week that legal action is indeed being undertaken by Bexley Council, as Potion have refused to restore the historic pub frontage, which is located in a conservation area. More on the story by clicking here. Here is what I wrote about the planning situation back in September 2008, just as the whole affair was beginning:

"I was speaking to an official from Bexley Council yesterday, who told me the original fascia, windows and internal glasswork in the former White Hart had rendered the structure a grade 2 listed status. Apparently even the old pub sign had to be preserved; When a planning officer told the new owners, ten minutes after he had left the site, they cut down the old sign with an angle grinder and put it into a skip. You can see the exterior design for the old White Hart here. The new owners have butchered the building with no thought to local history and heritage. Needless to say, the new Potion bar serves around eight super chilled and gassy lagers, and not a sight of any real ale. I will be keeping tabs on the place, as it is bound to become a dive and Chav magnet." In hindsight, I was not wrong.

I had an unfortunate Captain Tweed encounter on the 99 bus from Woolwich on Monday afternoon:-

Mum and I were on the way back from Dad visiting; the bus got to Plumstead corner and a  stocky bloke of about 60 who I have seen (and had words with) on several occasions in the past got on. All the seats were taken. There was a lady standing at the seat directly behind the staircase, whilst her two children (a boy of about 4, a girl of no more than 2 years old) were sat on the seats.  The bloke barged his way along the passage way and abruptly sat down on little girls’ seat, pushing her out of the way, and squashing her – she understandably screamed in terror. I immediately stood up and over the bloke telling him to move immediately. He turned, reeking of stale booze and told me he has got the right to sit there as the people were not from here (they happened to be black); the Mother screamed at him to move, saying she was born here and has the same rights as him. Just as I was about to pull him up by the hair from crushing the little girl, another chap - an African guy of about my age offered the drunk his own seat if he would leave the kids alone. The drunkard agreed and then grudgingly moved, uttering incoherent curses under his festering breath. I then stood next to him to prevent him moving again – He’s an alcoholic who has done similar and worse in the past.  He then showed me his bus pass, and tried to unsuccessfully to convince me that he was in the right - I responded with "You're pissed - I don't want to know." Suffice to say my language would have been stronger had not my Mother and small children been present! I was really hoping he would get aggressive, but I was about half again bigger than him, sober as a judge and imbued with the Rage ™* - he saw my trade marked size 12 steel toe capped boots too. I was definitely in “make my day” mode.  It is probably just as well that the situation calmed down, and he got off a few stops later. Next time he might well end up with my boot tread pattern in his saggy arse.

* - The RAGE™: The anger, frustration, or thirst for revenge that distills itself into the pure, white-hot will to win in any confrontation or other situation. Much like the Eye of the Tiger™, except that it doesn't distract itself with classic rock tunes, but rather just gets down to business.

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On Friday I attended the recording of BBC Radio 4's topical news comedy show "The News Quiz" at the BBC Radio Theatre in Broadcasting House (photo above). Although called a quiz, it is really just an excuse for a number of comics to make jokes about the news stories of the day, or as the host Sandi Toksvig said "It is really an hour or so of knob gags with a bit of topical satire thrown in." She was not wrong - the legal advisors and editors must have had a hell of a time cutting down the hour and ten minutes of material to make up the 28 minutes of the final broadcast version. Suffice to say much of what came out in the show was libellous (if true) or otherwise too near the knuckle for transmission. Very good stuff though, and I will hopefully be going again soon. You can hear the programme on BBC iPlayer by clicking here.

The BBC are shortly to release an official Doctor Who video game for both PC and Mac; it will be available as a free download to UK residents from the 5th June. You can read more about it here. Let us just hope that they handle the launch rather better than they did the ending of Saturday's episode when the trail for Graham Norton's show interrupted the final scenes.

The Motorola DynaTAC 8000x mobile telephone from 1983. The first hand held cellular mobile telephone to market, and a piece of recent popular culture.  The BBC News website have been featuring its' creator and the father of mobile telephony, Doctor Martin Cooper.  You can see the interview below:

At last Hall Place, near Bexley Village and the A2 motor way is getting wider recognition for its' part in World War II. It was an important intercept station for German radio communications. In 1943, members of the 6811 Signal Regiment of the US Army arrived at Hall Place, and their secret intercept station Santa Fe was opened. The GIs were there to intercept the very faint Luftwaffe signals which the Germans overlaid with other louder signals and deliberate interference. The work required intense concentration with missed digits resulting in unintelligible messages and the potential for more lost Allied lives. The American radio operators worked eighteen hour shifts trying to pick up the signals, while the cryptographers recorded and organised the the symbols which were sent onto the now famous Bletchley Park decoding centre, then known just as Station X. You can see my own recent photographs of Bletchley Park by clicking here.

This leads me on quite nicely to this weeks' main video clip. Anyone would think I plan all this (I do). The clip is a ten minute American propaganda movie from 1945, narrated by Ronald Reagan. It is a short documentary featuring U.S fighter and bomber pilots in training and in action against the Axis powers. Nothing new there then, I hear you think; well, all the officers and men in the movie are African Americans - the film is possibly the very first step on the long road to integration in American society, many years before Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. By modern standards the film is pretty cheesy and patronising, but it marked the very early beginnings of a change in attitudes to a group of people who had been dreadfully discriminated against for centuries, and who would continue to suffer for decades to follow. The air crew featured are now referred to as the Tuskegee Airmen.

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