Sunday, May 16, 2010

Contrasting conversations overheard.

Erith - May 2010  969

The photo above was taken in Erith Town Centre early this morning by me. The shot shows the former Wise Furnishings site, which has now become a discount bedding and settee shop; Actually, as previously mentioned, I would not be at all surprised if it was actually Wise trading under another identity, trying to flog off all their unsold stock at cut price. "Furniture Liquidation Store" - sounds ominous; maybe it is a cover for a concentration camp for sofas.

This years' Erith Riverside festival approaches; the festival will run from 10am to 4pm on June 6 in Riverside Gardens and Erith High Street North. Entry will be free. More information can be found on the News Shopper website here. After the cancellation of the event last year, I think that many local people are keen to see the event back on track; the festival in 2008 was absolutely excellent, and a great improvement on previous shows. You can see my photos of the 2008 festival if you click here.

Well, this week has been an extremely busy one for me; my normally white collar job in IT support for a large multi national company has led me to have spent the last few weeks  as part of a team supervising the installation and commissioning of the data and audio visual systems in a new £350 million flagship office building in Canary Wharf. I have been trotting around the vast building site in a day - glo jacket with bunches of screwdrivers and spanners hanging out of the pockets of my cargo trousers. Fascinating but extremely tiring work - the place is utterly gargantuan, and many of the lifts currently do not work; much exercise is had climbing the fire escapes between floors to get where I need to be. Incidentally the office building is very close to the giant Canary Wharf Waitrose store; the only supermarket I know that has security guards at the door to keep the chavs out. The store is actually a combined Waitrose and John Lewis store - utter heaven and actually no more expensive to shop in than Tesco, and much better quality to boot. I have been coming home carrying Waitrose shopping bags - something rather out of place in Erith. Incidentally, I have noticed that recently Morrison's have instructed the check out staff to ask every customer if they would like to purchase some saving stamps when they reach the check out. Whilst this might seem a quick and easy way to save towards Christmas, it is really just a way of giving the supermarket an interest free loan.

Last weekend my old Belkin broadband wireless router had the exceedingly bad grace to die on me. I went to Argos to purchase its' replacement - the Belkin N+ wireless router, billed as being the most powerful and easiest wireless router to set up and use. Utter tosh. The router 802.11 N+ signal is powerful and far reaching, but the device, server and internal firewall were utterly horrible to set up - it took me all of Sunday afternoon and into Monday evening to get the box working as it should. How the general public fare with such things makes me shudder. I do this kind of thing on a daily basis as part of my job, and I still found it traumatic. Routers still have a long way to go when it comes to the usability stakes. Further down the page you will read my updated thoughts on mobile telephones, and why I don't have one; you may think that my behaviour is inconsistent, in that I do use wireless data networking, but not voice. The reason for this is straightforward; the IEEE 802.11 standard uses frequencies in the 2.4 and 5 GHz microwave bands, well away from the 3G mobile phone band of 2 - 2.1 GHz where the trouble really lurks, on top of this, my router does not spend any time strapped to the side of my head. As Ian stated in an email to me earlier this week, wireless routers truly are Satan's playthings. Your thoughts and comments below are welcomed.

I have been harping on about the potential health dangers of mobile phones since the mid 1990's - for many years I have been regarded as somewhat of an eccentric, being possibly the only person in Erith who does not own a mobile telephone. The Radio Frequency energy saturation scan image below will give even the sceptic some understanding of why I have taken this long term view on what I view as a malevolent and hazardous technology. An article in the Daily Telegraph this Saturday stated that: "A landmark study will include some evidence that those who regularly hold long conversations on handsets are at increased risk of developing potentially fatal brain tumours. Its findings may lead the Government to update its health advice on the safety of mobile phones, which has remained unchanged for four years despite increased usage in Britain particularly among children. It was known that radio frequency radiation emitted by mobile phones is absorbed by the body, much of it by the head when the handset is held to the ear. Of the studies that have been published individually showed increased risk of glioma - the most common type of brain tumour - among those who talked on a mobile for about 30 minutes a day for 10 years. Many who developed the tumours saw them grow on the same side of the head as they held their handsets. Though the scientific debate is heated and far from resolved, there are multiple reports, mostly out of Europe's premier research institutions, of cellular telephone use being linked to "brain ageing," brain damage, early-onset Alz­heimer's, senility, DNA damage, and even sperm die-offs (many men, after all, keep their mobile phones in their trouser pockets or attached at the hip). In September 2007, the European Union's environmental watchdog, the European Environment Agency, warned that mobile phone technology "could lead to a health crisis similar to those caused by asbestos, smoking, and lead in petrol." You can read the full article from the online version of the newspaper by clicking here. There is another, in depth article which researches the response from the mobile phone manufacturers, and the detailed clinical study that is being done into the effects of low band microwave radiation on human physiology which you can read by clicking here.

In case you are wondering what a Voxel (mentioned in the scan above) is, it is a three dimensional pixel - in addition to width and height, a Voxel also has a measurable depth. The body scan above is divided up into Voxels of 1mm x 1mm x 1mm. Worrying stuff, as I am sure you will agree. You can read my original posting about the potential health hazards of mobile telephony from the Maggot Sandwich back in August 2006 by clicking here.

On a similarly gloomy note it has come to my attention that the Chequers pub on Picardy Road, Lower Belvedere has been demolished to make way for flats. This historic building was one of the oldest in Belvedere, and really should have been subject to a historic listing order. Big money got around this, and it is now sadly no more. Here is a photo of it taken in rather happier times.

It amazes me the information people will let slip whilst in public spaces; earlier this week I was on a 99 bus travelling homewards after visiting Dad. A couple sitting directly behind me were in conversation; the woman was asking the bloke what he was up to. The man (who reeked of strong lager) replied that he was going to Erith to visit his psychotherapist for his weekly anger management course, then to pick up his Methadone prescription from the chemists. This conversation was conducted in a very matter of fact manner - the woman seemed unsurprised by his reply, and his general demeanour seemed to indicate this was normal life to him. Contrastingly, whilst waiting for a DLR train at Heron Quays station on Friday evening, a bloke in designer jeans and a trendily faded repro T - shirt was barking angrily into his mobile phone. He was complaining to the person on the other end that he had just received his first pay slip since the change in the tax allowances had come through - he was loudly saying that he was appalled that all his earnings over £150,000 per year were now being taxed at 50% and that he was disgusted by it, and did not know how he was going to make ends meet (!) I think a bit of real life "Trading Places" might well be an eye opener for both blokes.

This weeks' video is a bit different; it was produced by Ian, and it is a short animation describing the Maggot Sandwich to a novice viewer. Click on the image to begin (you may need to try a few times, the interface is a bit clunky). Do have a watch and let me know what you think. As previously stated, comments no longer appear immediately - I have been forced to enable comment moderation due to the actions of Chinese spammers.


  1. Seeing the gaping hole once occupied by The Chequers pub, I now know, for sure, that Bexley Council is hell-bent on destroying the heritage it purports to promote.

    Amusing video, BTW.


  2. Like the video! In fact that site is very clever, had a play with a video myself. I am sure you are right about the unhealthy effects of mobile phones too. I think in years to come we will be seeing the problems they cause particularly with the younger generation who seemed to be glued to them. If anything the modern mobiles are worse, with no external antennas the RF is directed straight into the side of the users head.

  3. Our son has had 3 surgeries for brain tumours and we were always concerned about mobile phones - even though his Neurosurgeon said there was no proof about them being harmful!

    He has had a phone for a couple of years now though - but only used with the speakerphone funtion. The tunours weren't caused by the phone, but obviously he is high risk. He needs to keep in touch though and as he is an adult he makes his own choices. Worrying though...

  4. HAHA!
    Must be the only furniture store in the world where the merchandise comes in…but never leaves!
    I can't see in the photo but is there a chimney belching out thick black smoke?
    The idea may catch on you know, I mean I for one would like to see a Burberry Liquidation Store are maybe even a Pet Shop Liquidation Store…

    Really looking forward to the Erith Festival so thanks for the heads up.
    The last one was exactly what you want from a local fete sort of thing but the one's previously were pretty rubbish with nothing but a hook a duck stall and a bouncy castle.
    I think the highlight for me when it was last on was the people from The Sealed Knot Society dressed up as Roundheads and another lot who "made camp" in the gardens that were living as Vikings complete with hounds and animal skin tents.
    MUCH better than the local Scout Group Parade!

    So Pewty' is now getting his hands dirty at work? And what with the problems you've had with your new Router it seems it's all work and no play for you!
    Only you could mention wearing a Hi-Viz vest and then bring in Waitrose/John Lewis in almost the same sentence. You want to be careful though you'll scare the natives when you get off the train at Erith with a Waitrose plastic bag. Mind you, you can scare and confuse the locals just by showing them a receipt like a cross in a Vampire film as when you "nick 'fings" you never get to see one.
    I have to say though I have just started to use the Saving Stamps Scheme in Morrisons just because an extra £5 every time I shop there soon adds up and will be quite useful in the festive season. I can see what you mean though about it being an interest free way of them raising money though.

    As surly as the Sun sets and the rain comes just after you've lit a BBQ it's a Pewty Rant on mobiles, truly something that is as dependable as the tides or a seeing a burnt out car in Larner road.
    Good article. If nothing else today I have learnt what a voxel is!
    I must admit I'm seemingly out of step with most people as I rarely talk to people on my phone (preferring to text) and even when rung usually never answer it. A phone is there for my convenience, I'll answer it when I want to!

    With regards to the fate of The Chequers sadly it seems that's the way of pubs there's days. It was quite a nice pub and I wasn't aware it was one of the oldest buildings in the area. How old is it then?
    It seems to me that it's "workman" type pubs that are going to the wall, it's cheaper to buy 6 cans of Stella from the Offie and sit at home (and be able to smoke) watching Sky than pay almost £3 a pint and have to stand outside plus what with the job/economic climate…it's sad. Pubs of character are going…

    The 99 bus.
    What's the phrase about "..all human life is here"?
    I've been catching that bus nearly all my life and never get tired of the journey, it goes from areas of social and economic depravation (I'm being charitable!) through ancient woodlands to well off suburbia back into areas of social and economic depravation then 70's housing estates…there's always something to hear or see.

    Hope people find the video amusing.
    It was my second attempt at a video and I had to do lots of jiggery pokery to make it come across how I wanted it to right down to double spacing after each word to make the flow of speech sound more realistic as well as phonetically spell some of the words to make sure they came out sounding right. For instance I spent ages getting "Erith" sounding how the locals say it*!

    * Had to spell it as "Eara rith" as when I spelt it correctly it sounded like the way an Estate Agent prononces it! "Airith"!