Sunday, February 06, 2011

Erith Riverside Gardens.

The photo above was taken last summer during the excellent Erith River Festival, held in the Riverside Gardens. It may seem a little strange to feature a typically summer scene in the depths of a hard winter, but please bear with me - there is method in the madness. The following story is featured in the print version of this weeks' News Shopper. Normally, I would refer to a story and then provide a web link to the original  text online, but in this case there is no web version, so I have re-typed it manually from the newsprint version of the excellent weekly local news publication. The story was written by Linda Piper :-

Membership of a new community group is growing as people try to preserve "The most precious jewel" in Erith. Friends of Riverside Gardens Erith (FORGE) has only just been created and it already has more than 100 members. Its' mission is to save the Riverside Gardens in Erith High Street from redevelopment. The gardens are in part of the town designated as Erith Western Gateway, the last of Bexley's major regeneration projects. Townspeople fear that the gardens may be vulnerable as the open space overlooks the river. Previous plans, vigorously opposed by the public, suggest building on at least part of the gardens. FORGE's aim is to have the gardens, together with the William Cory Promenade designated a town green, which would protects its status as a public open space. The land for the gardens was partially gifted to the people of Erith by William Cory & Son, a major coal company in the area, which carried the fuel on barges up and down the River Thames. FORGE secretary Joan McCarthy said "There is always a threat of future development plans in this area because it is the only town between Greenwich and Gravesend with an open space riverside frontage. "This open space is so highly regarded by many residents, they have come together to preserve and safeguard this asset". Already the new group has given presentations to Erith Town Forum and Erith & Belvedere Local History Society. To join, people have to complete a membership form and pay £1 and will get a membership card in return, To join, call 01322 332717 or 01322 440199.

I was buying a few items in Morrison's in Erith earlier this week. I got to the checkout and the operator was unfamiliar - a new face in the store; he was a young chap of roughly 20 years old. He was very talkative and friendly. The first thing he asked me as he scanned through a bottle of wine from my basket was "are you over twenty five years of age?" To which I mutely raised an eyebrow. He then asked if I had tried Kopperberg cider? I responded that it was too sweet for my own taste, though I gathered it was quite popular. He then informed me that he was the proud holder of his University speed drinking record, for downing a pint of Stella Artois in 3.2 seconds. Quite why he thought my life would be improved by receiving this nugget of information, I really could not say. I had decided by this point that as far as civilised drinking was concerned, he was already a lost case. Darryl, writer of the excellent Charlton based 853 Blog brings news that the official beer sponsor for the 2012 Olympics is Heineken. Quite what connection this Dutch brewing multi national conglomerate has to do with London escapes me. Darryl opines that Courage ought to have been chosen, citing the classic 1980's Chas & Dave television adverts, promoting Courage Best that I featured on the Maggot Sandwich a while back. Unfortunately, the brewing of Courage beers is now undertaken by Wells & Youngs at their brewery in Bedford, no longer qualifying it as a proper London beer. The only regional / national producer of quality real ale in Greater London is Fuller, Smith & Turner, who brew their superb range of Fuller's Ales in their brewery located in Chiswick. I also note with great regret that Sharp's Brewery in Rock, Cornwall has been sold for £20 Million to Molson Coors, producer of some of the fizziest crap lagers and alco pop abominations the world has ever been forced to suffer - if it is shite, it is likely to have been produced by Molson Coors, as far as I can tell. You can read the story by clicking here. Molson Coors say that they are going to keep the Sharps' brewery open and invest in the brand - Sharp's premium real ale Doom Bar is a really high quality product that deserves protection. I fear for its' future. I think it more likely to see Elvis riding Shergar along Pier Road in Erith, than for Molson Coors to leave the Sharp's brand alone, but that is my own opinion.

I was sitting, minding my own business on the 380 bus this week, on my way to my daily visit to Dad in his Plumstead nursing home, when a woman sat on the back seat of the bus started a conversation  with an unknown person on her mobile phone. I was sat pretty much as far away from the woman as it was possible to be whilst still on the bus, but I could still hear every word of her dialogue - she was telling her mother about her terrible case of piles. The entire lower deck was the unwitting recipient of the woman's ten minute dialogue concerning the minutiae of her attack of throbbing bum grapes, and the efforts she had to rid herself of them. I think she was oblivious to the fact her conversation was audible to all and sundry. The conversation may have been one sided, but it was graphic in the extreme, and I am just glad that I was not contemplating eating anything at the time. It does seem to me that many people seem to assume that conversations undertaken on mobile phones are private, when they are anything but that.

Where have all the Roma gypsy beggars gone? A couple of years ago, you could not set foot on the tube or any public space in central London without being hassled for cash by Roma women holding either a small child, or a doll (apparently to elicit sympathy, and thus more cash). Now they have apparently disappeared. My journey from Plumstead station to Dad's nursing home used to be beset by Roma beggars; now it is usually rather more tranquil. What has happened in the meantime? Where have they gone? I suspect that they finally realised that most people know that they are running a scam, and refuse to give them any cash, and they then gave up, but I really don't know for sure.  Any clues would be welcomed - drop me a comment at the bottom of this entry, as always.

Dame Floella Benjamin - a national treasure. I for one did not find out until recently that she had been given a position in the Lords as a Minister. She was a fundamental element of my childhood, and the first black woman I ever saw on television; I was always fascinated by someone who wore beads in her hair - very much an unusual think to see on television in the early 1970's. She was the definitive children's TV presenter for my generation. She has been a tireless campaigner for children's rights and welfare for many years. She is now Baroness Benjamin of Beckenham. I cannot think of a more appropriate award.

Planet Rock have recently announced that Canadian Prog Rock giants Rush are to tour the UK this year; I saw them at Wembley Arena back in 2007 (photo above - click here for more shots from the Wembley Arena concert), and they are awesomely impressive. Their drummer, Neil Peart is generally regarded as the best in the world - and often compared to the amazing talent of sadly departed jazz giant Buddy Rich.

Ian just told me that Blues Rock guitarist genius Gary Moore has died - a real shock - you can read a tribute to him by clicking here. I saw Gary Moore live, and I have to say he was one of the best guitarists I ever witnessed; he will be sorely missed.

Erith, along with many other places is beset by scrap metal dealers, most of which are unlicensed and illegal. I fully support he concept of recycling and re-using old materials, but it has to be done within the scope of the law. Scrap metal prices have reached a new high, tempting many to steal and trespass in order to make a quick buck. You can get an idea of the current prices for the various grades of scrap metal by clicking here. I read this week that the US Military has been testing a new space plane, now that the Space Shuttle has reached the end of its' life. The new vessel, named the X 37B Shuttle is much smaller than the original space shuttle; it is also without a crew - it is entirely automated. It can stay in space for months at an end, using solar energy to power its computers and other systems. The ship is primarily for military use, as a space spy ship and satellite launcher. It will also be used to test satellite sub systems and electronics prior to their deployment on the actual satellite. You can see a photo of the new X 37B below.

It does strike me that there is a huge amount of high value scrap metal in low Earth orbit - dead launchers, end of life satellites and countless other items that are now classed as junk, but comprised of highly valuable metals such as titanium, beryllium, gold and others. If the new X 37B has an empty payload bay before its' return to Earth, then surely it would be a sensible move to pick up some of the scrap and return it for sale, to offset some of the launch costs? You could almost say that a cosmic scrap recovery scheme could become a viable project as metal prices hit the roof - one could foresee a television series "Chavs in Space". Saying that, a TV show based on the same premise was made way back in 1979, the short lived, but much loved "Salvage One".  It was produced by the same people who went on to make "The A-Team". You can see a trailer for the pilot episode / TV movie below. Do have a watch and let me know what you think. Leave a comment below.

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