Sunday, February 20, 2011

The steel horse.

Erith has a small reason to feel superior to Lower Belvedere; as we quite clearly have a far more tacky and crap sculpture on the roundabout at the Erith end of Bronze Age Way than the sculpture of a horse that has just been erected at the Lower Belvedere end of the road. I am not particularly in favour of high, obscuring objects at the centre of roundabouts, as they can be safety hazards, but this certainly looks rather striking, and far superior to the hideous psychedelic "Mister Whippy" style giant alien turd that is the Erith Fish Sculpture (Click on the photo above for a larger view of the monstrosity). I first wrote about the fish back in 2006, which you can revisit by clicking here. You can read about the artist, and the efforts to install the giant steel horse on the News Shopper website. There is also a short video featuring the installation work, and an interview with the sculptor that you can watch further down this entry. Personally I am not that impressed with the piece, other than it is less rubbish than our own fish. Do let me know what you think.

I have recently observed that the former Belvoir Tavern in Lower Belvedere (See photo above - click for a larger view), which was converted into an African restaurant and events venue is once again out of business and up for sale. A pity, but from my understanding they were operating outside the scope of their licence, serving out of hours, and having loud and out of control parties running until 3 or 4 in the morning on a regular basis. I wonder who will take the site on now? I would not be at all surprised to see it bulldozed and flats built in its' place. Handy for commuters to London, as it is directly opposite Belvedere railway station, but does the area really need more flats?

I was queuing at the checkout in Morrison's yesterday afternoon, when I was approached by a chap who called me by name; unfortunately my creaky memory could not recall the gentleman's own name. He turned out to be a Maggot Sandwich reader and gave some generous compliments about the site - if you are reading this now - my sincere thanks to you.

Local film maker Jon Cheetham made the video below, showing the installation of the giant steel horse statue at the Lower Belvedere end of Bronze Age Way, as covered at the start of this weeks' entry. One ironic thing that does spring to mind is that the statue is designed to mark the historic link of the area to the traveller community. Traditionally travellers have had a strong affinity with the scrap metal business. Steel is currently riding at an all time high in scrap metal value terms. Putting two and two together, it does rather make one wonder just how long the structure will be in place before someone takes a cutting torch to it and takes it for scrap; the hideous fish sculpture has only lasted as long as it has as there is no intrinsic value to the materials used in its' construction - it is concrete, plaster and mosaic tile - none of which have any resale value. One guy did try to commit suicide by ramming his car into the fish, as I covered at the time, but other than that, no serious harm has yet come to it. I am sure that if someone put their mind to it, a couple of kilos of RDX (coincidentally developed at the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich) and a quiet night could soon change that...

As I have mentioned in the past, I am a great supporter and proponent of recycling. It is much less resource and energy efficient to re - use materials than to dig more of the same out of the ground, or chemically wrangle them into existence. I live so close to the recycling facility in the car park of Morrison's that I generally drop my old glass bottles / tins / cardboard and plastics off into the correct hopper every couple of evenings. It saves having unsightly and smelly wheelie bins outside the house, and saves the dustbin men a bit of work. On Thursday evening I was dropping cardboard and paper into the hopper, when an old, dark blue Nissan people carrier came whizzing around James Watt Way and came to an abrupt halt next to the bins. A surprisingly spritely late middle aged couple jumped out, opened the back door and proceeded to turf out over a dozen bin bags stuffed with miscellaneous rubbish, followed by what looked like an exceedingly manky and stained bed quilt and an even grottier mattress. They then quickly got back in the van and sped off, but not before I memorised the make model and number plate of the vehicle. I popped into Morrison's and had a word with the Security guard, and gave him the registration details of the fly tipper's van. I doubt much will come of it, but you can't let them get away with an act that carries an up to £50,000 fine (the area is in a tipping control zone, with consequently higher penalties upon prosecution). Following this, I was crossing Morrison's car park at just after 4pm this afternoon, and what should I see, but the same van back again - only this time they were dumping a large volume of expanded Polystyrene packing materials, which then proceeded to blow all over the place in the wind, straight off the Thames. The scrotes need prosecuting and jailing for as long as possible. Fat chance that this will happen, though one can live in hope.

The photo above shows a couple of tugs moored on Erith Pier last week. You can see more photos of the local area, and quite a bit more by viewing my Flickr photo site here.

As you may know, I am a serious fan of science fiction, and I was excited to hear about a major new BBC sci fi series set in the year 2040 about the first colonists on an Earth like alien planet. The show is called Outcasts, and I have to say that it is utterly dreadful on every conceivable level. The general public seem to agree too, to the extent that the expensive drama has been moved from its' prime time slot on Monday nights, to a low rent slot on Sunday evenings - the BBC are burying the expensive embarrassment where they hope no - one will be around to see it die. To get an impression of exactly how dire the show really is, check out the feedback on the Internet Movie Database site here. Conversely, Boardwalk Empire by HBO, currently being shown on Sky Atlantic is absolutely superb - a very high budget, movie quality series about the birth of the gangster culture in Prohibition era 1920's New Jersey. It is produced and written by the same people that brought us The Sopranos, along with Director Martin Scorsese. The two shows have much in common - though Boardwalk Empire has even higher production values - every episode looks like a missing part of The Godfather - Part II. I highly recommend it.

Darryl of the excellent Charlton based 853 Blog has already mentioned, that there is a substantial proposal to have a two day professionally run music festival on Blackheath Common this September. If the details are correct, this sounds like an exceptionally good idea. You can read all about it on the 853 Blog here. The Blackheath Society oppose the proposed festival, and have launched a legal case to ban it. Their case seems to be based on "we've never had one here before" - which seems a bit weak. You can also see coverage of it on the Blackheath Bugle here. We will see how this one pans out over the next few weeks.

I have on several occasions made comments about how inferior the new Erith Library is when compared to the old one, which used to be located in the excellent Andrew Carnegie gifted building in Walnut Tree Road. Local film maker Jon Cheetham (who also made the steel horse video) has made a short documentary about the new library. As you will see, it is all very shiny, but soulless and antiseptic. The place is only a couple of minutes' walk from Pewty Acres, but I am not a customer. See what you think and feel free to post a comment below.

I note that Tinie Tempah won two Brit awards this week; I feel that this now should officially rank him as the most famous person to come from the mean streets of Plumstead, putting Steve Davis into second place after many years. His music is not to my own tastes, but each to their own. From all accounts he's a talented person, and apparently a very nice guy as well. Anything that puts Plumstead in a positive light has got to be a good thing.

Occasionally I recommend some computer software; this week I am going to make a big leap and say that the following application is by far the best media player available. VLC Media Player is not only free and open source, but it knocks Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, QuickTime and all the others into a cocked hat. It is multi platform, being freely available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris and BSD Unix (and being open source, you can always download the programming code to compile for any other operating system you choose). The real killer thing with VLC Media Player is that it will play any media format you care to throw at it - even if the file is incomplete or corrupted. Basically VLC will play anything, and for free. Download it from the VLC website here. Again - do let me know what you think. Comments below as always.

The video this week is a bit of a curiosity; it is a "talking head" style clip of a guy talking about the Linux Operating System. Before you all click away in boredom - do give it a go, it is quirky and humorous in all the right ways, and not at all technical or nerdy (though I concede I am both, before any wag thinks to point it out).


  1. Great blog as always, I agree that old Belvoir will probably end up as flats, although personally I wouldn't want to live that close to the railway tracks. Speaking of pubs being redeveloped into flats: The Nordenfelt is indeed being turned into just that as you suspected in a previous blog. They will consist of nine one-bedroom apartments.

  2. Sorry to be what some might call pedantic, but you've called the diacritic mark over the o in Potion (as in last week's Sandwich, I'm catching up two editions at once this week) an umlaut once too often to let it slide un-remarked, coupled with an incorrect rendering of what the word would sound like if it were indeed an umlaut, so here goes:

    The double dot notation is generically called a Trema.

    When it's used as it is in Citroën it is called a diaeresis (to indicate that the vowel is to be voiced separately, and does not form a diphthong with the preceding vowel).

    When it's used in a Germanic language that employs the mark (Deutsch originally, and then adopted into some Scandinavian languages) it is called an umlaut.

    So, as Potion is not a native or adopted word in German (or in any Scandinavian language) the mark cannot be an umlaut. 'Potion' comes to English from Latin, via old French.

    Also, if Pötion were a German word, and it were an umlaut, then it would not be pronounced 'pooshun'. The use of an o+umlaut is a shortcut means of writing the diphthong oe, so the word produced, were it to be spelled out without using the umlaut would be Poetion and the pronunciation would be approximately 'per-shun'.
    The vowel sound of O+umlaut is approximately the same as in the the English word 'sir'.

    So their use of it is meaningless and it's 'just an unrequired Trema'. Which is apparently appropriate as reading your reports, 'Pötion' is 'just an unrequired pub'!

    I hope you don't mind my pointing this out. I really enjoy reading the 'Maggot Sandwich'.

  3. Hi Anonymous - thanks for your feedback; your knowledge of the subtleties of linguistics is obviously far superior to mine. Do consider signing up as a follower with an ID (does not have to be anything to identify yourself) - I could do with someone sense checking my more elaborate excursions! Just one thing - although I do try and use the Maggot Sandwich to present local news and information, but if there is a conflict between the facts and a cheap gag, the gag wins every time. I have a couple of other web sites which are strictly factual, the Maggot Sandwich is my platform to editorialise. Thanks again, and do keep posting.

  4. Mr Scotty says I fully endorse VLC I've been using it for years!

    And I must disagree on Boardwalk Empire - production values are dazzling you in place of the fantastic scripts of the Sopranos; and they're distorting history too with their modern-day concerns for political correctness. The sopranos never dodged the presentation of 'inappropriate' behaviours (racism, sexism) in order to avoid offending modern sensibilities. I've almost given up on its because its so manipulated and inaccurate.

    All these famous people complaining about libraries being shiut down due to the cuts - do they ever use 'em?


  5. Hi again - 'Anonymous 1' here (of the Pootion post), a different Anon posted the comment of 28-02. Definitely agree that a cheap gag should never be ignored or sacrificed :D

    Best wishes