Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring cleaning.

Environmental charity Thames 21 organised a river bank clean - up in conjunction with local activist group FORGE (Friends Of Riverside Gardens Erith) this morning. I went along just as the event was beginning in order to take photos. When I arrived, there were around thirty people waiting to get started, under the direction of a handful of professional environmentalists from the charity. Police from Erith Safer Neighbourhoods Team were also on hand. The Thames 21 supervisor made it clear that due to the dangerous nature of the mud on the foreshore, only the professionals would actually be permitted on it; all the other volunteers would need to stay clear. You can see my photos of the event by clicking here.

This week marks the tenth birthday of Apple's excellent OS X operating system. It manages to combine the power, flexibility and rock sold stability of BSD / Mach Unix under the bonnet, with a simple and intuitive user interface, and some very pretty special effects. I have been using it as my primary computer operating system for over seven years now, and I am more than impressed with it. You can read about the background and history of OS X by clicking here.

African church the Redeemed Christian Church of God have lost their planning appeal to use a commercial warehouse building in Northumberland Heath as a place of worship. They have already got into trouble over noise and parking law violations in their Erith Church - they use the old tyre warehouse adjacent to Erith Snooker Club (see photo above). You can read about their failed planning bid here. I did wonder if they might put in a bid for the old Erith Trades and Social Club (see photo below), which has been empty and derelict for some time. The only problem is that the building requires a total rewire and re - plumb, as apparently thieves stole all of the copper and lead from the place before it had even ceased trading. I think a refurbishment of the place would be possible, but very expensive. The Church does have exceedingly deep pockets though. All in all, I reckon that a better bet would be to bulldoze the building and put a new one in its' place.

When working in London, I am often based in Canary Wharf, and take the Docklands Light Railway from Greenwich station; on a normal day the transit from Greenwich to London takes a laid back 12-13 minutes. The service is regular and all in all it is a relatively painless way to commute. The situation on Thursday was not so good; there was some kind of signalling problem, and I was shoehorned into a seriously overcrowded carriage with what seemed like a hundred other harassed commuters. What added insult to injury was that I was crammed next to a fairly young, but morbidly obese man; his waist would have needed a theodolite to measure, and he had more chins than the Hong Kong telephone directory. I am convinced that he lived on a diet of pickled cabbage, Stilton and hard boiled eggs; his guts were rumbling and burbling, and before we had gone more than a couple of hundred metres from Greenwich, he let rip with the first of many rumbling farts that would have certainly registered in the Department of Geology in the University of Greenwich. The guy seemed blissfully oblivious to the fact his captive audience (who would have recoiled in horror if there was any space to recoil into) were disgusted by his performance. I was thinking to myself “please don't follow through!” A small child asked her parent “what's that horrible smell Mummy?” As I was crammed right next to this burbling bag of bilious blubber, I felt myself turning green and my vision blurred. The only respite I got was by breathing through my mouth. I really wished I had taken my U.N standard issue gas mask with me. The ordeal lasted just over forty minutes, throughout which the man continued to cheerfully leak brownhouse gases, seemingly blissfully ignorant of the environmental damage he was causing in his immediate vicinity. I managed to eventually get off the accursed carriage at Canary Wharf and to get a gasp of sorely needed clean air. I think it may take several weeks for my overstretched sinuses to recover.

The badlands of South Erith are about to undergo a small bout of urban regeneration; the pub known as the Style and Winch, and formerly as the Boundary on North End Road (click on the photo above for a larger view) is being redeveloped as a Tesco Express supermarket. It used to have a very poor reputation as Erith's premier fighting pub. I used to have a friend who lived in a flat directly opposite the pub, and if I went to visit him on a Friday night, come 10.30pm we would go out onto his balcony to take in that weeks' free entertainment. Regular as clockwork the Police would turn up in a van, whether they had been called or not. Come closing time the fights would begin. It was like a Roman Gladiator tournament with beer glasses and shell suits replacing the swords and armour. More often than not, the worst offenders would end up being slung into the back of a van, to spend a night in the cells, to then appear before the beak in the morning. My boss at work spent a couple of years in the very early 1980's as a probationary copper working out of the old Erith Police station on the river front. He once had cause to enter the Boundary (as it then was) to serve a paper on one of the regulars. He ended up wisely exiting as he was spat upon. In those pre Police and Criminal Evidence Act days, he returned to the Nick, where his colleagues then escorted him back to the pub mob handed. I gather than the guilty ended up exiting the building with assistance – via a window and into a police van.

A couple of years ago, a story did the rounds that stated it was possible to kill a mobile phone just by sending it a specially formatted SMS text message. The story withered and died when no evidence of the attack was uncovered, as often happens with urban myths. In this case, however, it was no urban myth, the SMS of Death is real and has been demonstrated - read all about it here. You have been warned.

With some relief, I note that finally the trains and buses are going to get a squad of plain clothes under cover ticket inspectors. As I have noted in the past, quite often I am one of the only people travelling legally on the train during the early to mid afternoon period. Plumstead station is one of the worst hot spots of fare dodging in the whole of Greater London, and the sooner that this can be put to an end the better. The subject is explored in a News Shopper article here.

Check this out.

Local company Wise Furnishings have had another incident in a long run of bad luck and poor commercial judgement. After having their poorly thought out Erith superstore close due to lack of trade, they have now had their Bexleyheath store burn down. It would appear that unbeknownst to the owners, the flat above the show room had been converted into a Cannabis farm; it is thought that an electrical fault started the fire that has seriously damaged the entire structure. You can read more about it, and see photos from the incident by clicking here. I am always keen to support local businesses, but in this case, I seriously wonder if Wise will be able to continue trading.

I had planned to redesign the look and feel of the Maggot Sandwich this week, but time has not been my own, and the opportunity to spend a few hours re - fettling the site did not happen. Watch this space, however...

I had a bit of a real life Monty Python "Spam sketch" moment on Monday last week; I was on my way back from visiting Watford, and at lunchtime I reached London Bridge station; feeling peckish, I broke my journey to go onto the station concourse in order to purchase some lunch. I rolled up at the Delice De France baguette shop, and had a look at what was on offer. Bacon and egg; ham and cheese, chicken and bacon; salami and salad. All the filled baguettes had one thing in common - they all contained some type of pork. As previously mentioned, I am pork intolerant, and have to avoid the meat or otherwise get a violent stomach upset. I asked the unkempt and spotty individual behind the counter (who bore a striking resemblance to Cletus the Slack Jawed Yokel from the Simpsons) if they had any other fillings available. He ummed and aahed for a few moments and said "We've got prosciutto rolls too" I explained that I wanted something without any pork - and had to tell him that bacon was actually a kind of pork, which was evidently news to him. He then said "We do have chicken royale with bacon - but it doesn't have much bacon in it". I gave up.

Web browser Firefox has just reached version 4. It is available for pretty much all operating systems (if you are running something really obscure like OpenVMS you may however need to download the open source code and roll your own with a C compiler - GCC works well). You can get Firefox 4 for Windows, OS X, Linux, Solaris and BSD Unix free from here.

On a similar culinary thread, I have been somewhat pleased when I have (incorrectly) been identified as the News Shopper Pub Spy in the past. The mis identification was previously quite flattering, but not so now. I strongly suspect the journalist who writes the reviews nowadays is not the person it used to be. The reviews used to be entertaining, informative and a little tongue in cheek. Now they are quite vicious and unnecessarily cruel. I think it is a great pity what used to be a valuable customer service has now transformed into a savage hack job.

The video this week shows Pink Floyd headlining the 2008 Live 8 concert in Hyde Park. It was the very last time the full, post Syd Barrett line up of the band were ever to play together, as sadly Rick Wright died only six weeks after this performance. Watch and leave a comment below if you wish.

1 comment:

  1. The Beast of BelvedereMonday, March 28, 2011 3:02:00 pm

    Spam video linked twice. Apart from that another splendid read, although I still think you were/are the pubspy.